Thursday, December 31, 2009

Eat Your Way To Happiness

Lifeline- Shake to Shape

Our lives changed for the better, four years ago, when a stranger walked into our lives. She taught us the importance of nutrition and literally how to eat our way to happiness. The simple task of eating the right breakfast after a night’s fast will boost not only mood, but memory, learning power and concentration and also improve health. A change in breakfast could save your life. Or eliminate lifelong problems. Perhaps you'd prefer to start the day with a nice weight-loss smoothie? If this sounds like a fantasy, you'll be pleased to know this product already exists. This is the evolution of the trend towards food enriched with health giving ingredients designed to restore your health and make you look and feel better, slimmer and younger.
For more information visit my website

That’s what happened to us and that’s why we are hooked to it for life. A Joyous and Prosperous 2010 to everyone.

The Recipe
250 ml cold low fat milk; 2 scoops (30 gms) Herbalife F1(Formula 1) Vanilla: 1 scoop Herbalife F3 (Formula 3) protein powder; 50gms dragon fruit.
Blend together and serve cold. Heat destroys nutrition. Only 200 calories and oh so delicious.

Dessert Of The Year

Ajamma's Apricot Custard

Apricots have always been a great favourite in our household and the dessert of the year eagerly awaited every New Year. My grandmother or Ajamma as we fondly called her would always serve up this delightful dessert every New Year and make sure that the dried apricots were dispatched well in advance to her two daughters who lived in other Indian states. Once I got married, I carried on with this tradition although I must say we have it more often. And a great way of welcoming the New Year. To 2010!
The Recipe
1/4 kg dried apricots; sugar to taste; 1 cup hot water.
Soak apricots in hot water overnight. Next day deseed and cook to boiling point with sugar to taste. Lower heat and thicken. Remove and cool. In the meanwhile extract the nuts and add to apricots. Serve cold with custard or cream.

1 cup milk; 2 dsp Bird’s Eye Custard Powder; sugar to taste.

Dissolve the custard powder in a little milk and keep aside. Mix the milk and sugar together and when it begins to boil, lower flame and add the custard mixture slowly, stirring all the while. Bring to the boil. Simmer one minute. Transfer to serving bowl and cool. Serve with the apricots.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Chinese Connection

I have always loved Chinese Food ever since my grandparents treated us at the Rice Bowl on Brigade Road, Bangalore more than forty years ago. Although my mother frequently made noodles and fried rice at home, nothing quite matched the taste and smell of authentic Chinese cuisine. So when we shifted to Kuala Lumpur, which has a large Chinese population and numerous eating spots, I took the opportunity to master the art. And my family co-operated as well, patiently eating everything I put on the table. For Christmas and other special occasions it is always Chinese food, not only because it is so easy to make and requires minimum cooking time but because it is as delicious as it looks.

Fried Rice is one of my personal favourites because you can add anything to it and it tastes good.

Honey Chicken Wings is another simple, tasty recipe.

Chinese food is always accompanied with lots and lots of vegetables, so have included a recipe that goes well with any menu.

The dessert is Serita’s achievement and am so glad she can cook, ably assisted by Ranita. You can never have too much of these luscious tarts.
So eat on and enjoy the Christmas season.

The Recipe

2 cups left over rice; 1 cup mixed, stir fried vegetables (carrots, beans, peas, cauliflower, whatever); 1 omlette cut into strips; ½ cup shredded cooked chicken (optional); 1 tbsp minced ginger garlic; 2 spring onions cut really fine; oil for frying; large wok; 1 Maggi soup cube (salt not required if using soup cubes).
Heat oil in wok. Add the ginger garlic and stir fry a minute. Smash the soup cube and add to the wok. Lower flame and add the vegetables (I used only peas, since we were having mixed vegetables) and chicken and gently mix. Next, add the rice a little at a time and mix well. Add the spring onions and omlette strips and transfer to serving dish. Keep hot while you prepare the honey chicken wings.

Honey Chicken Wings

8 wings trimmed and drained. Marinade 15 minutes with salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp oyster sauce.
Grill at 450F or 260 C for five minutes each side.

Mixed Vegetables

3/4 kg mixed vegetables of your choice. I use whatever's in the refrigerator; 1/4 kg grilled potato wedges; 1 tsp garlic, minced; oil for seasoning; salt to taste; 1 tbsp almond flakes or nibs for garnishing (optional).
Blanch vegetables of your choice for 1 minute in boiling water with added salt to taste.. Pour cold water over them to retain crunchiness and drain completely. Parboil 2 large potatoes. Peel and cut into wedges. Sprinkle salt over them. Grill 5 minutes on high heat until golden brown.
Heat 2 tbsp. oil in large wok. Stir fry garlic a minute. Add all the veggies and potatoes and toss gently for another minute. Garnish with almond nibs/flakes. Serve hot.

Lemon Cream Cheese Tartlets

50 tartlet cases (pre baked and available at any cake shop); 1/4 kg cream cheese at room temperature; 400 ml tin of condensed milk; ¼ cup cream; juice of 2 large lemons;1 tsp grated lemon zest; almonds for decoration.
Blend cream cheese, cream, condensed milk and lemon juice & zest in cake mixer until smooth and creamy. Pour into tart cases. Decorate with an almond each. Store in freezer until required. Can freeze the remainder in ice cream trays and use as and when required.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Garden of Eden Salad

My sister Asha loves salads. She has the knack to make elaborate ones effortlessly. While the rest of us simply throw all the ingredients together, toss it and serve it in a nondescript manner, she patiently goes through her recipes days in advance. Next she chooses the crockery to match. She then makes a list and scours the shops searching for the right ingredients. Then comes the washing, drying, cutting, scraping, grating and endless chopping. Finally the masterpiece is created and hidden in the back of the refrigerator away from greedy nieces and prying eyes. Needless to say when served not a leaf remains!
This recipe is an adaptation of the original and a great meal for weight watchers. It makes a great accompaniment to any Christmas menu.
2 carrots, skin and cut into medium rounds.
1 medium green apple, core, quarter and slice
100 gms mixed salad leaves, soak in salt water. Dry thoroughly before use.
2 tomatoes, washed and quartered
1 medium zucchini peeled and cubed
½ medium purple cauliflower, cut into flowerets, soak in salt water for 15 minutes,
Dressing: 1 tbsp mayonnaise, 2 tbsp curds, 1 tbsp protein powder, 1 tsp cheese spread. Salt and pepper to taste.
Beat all the ingredients to a smooth consistency in bowl. Adjust seasoning. Keep aside.
Boil cauliflower and carrot for a minute. Plunge into cold water. Drain completely.
Place the carrots, cauliflower, green apple, tomatoes, zucchini and lettuce leaves in salad bowl. Mix gently. Pour dressing over and gently toss. Store in refrigerator to retain crispness. Serve as an accompaniment or as a meal. The protein fills you up, curbs hunger, burns fat and helps to build muscle mass. Bon Apetit!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

That Special Time of The Year

Ma's Fruit Cake

Fruit Cake

What can I say about the Christmas Cake that has not already been said? Baking the annual cake at Christmas was a ritual which I remember even today. With no electric oven or cake mixers, this was no mean feat and took hours to prepare. All of us had to take turns at creaming the butter and sugar (with numerous licks and digs in between), whipping the eggs and chopping the various fruits. Of course we sampled everything liberally and I sometimes wonder how the cake turned out so well. All we had was a tiny black box with one rack inside and this had to be placed on a kersosene stove and manipulated until the cake emerged fragrant, dark brown and oh so delicious. Later on, when the black box was past its prime my mum would send the cake to the bakery to be baked for a small fee. Now, that has all changed and every household boasts an oven. The recipe below is one that has been made by my mum every Christmas, for more than fifty years. Old is gold so they say and I truly believe in that.

The Recipe

200 gms each of flour, caster sugar, tuitti fruitti, black currants, sultanas, cherries,preserved pumpkin and broken nuts; 4 eggs, 250 gms salted butter, 1 tsp. mixed spice powder, 50 gms candied peel, ½ tsp. baking powder; 1tsp vanilla; 50 gms grated ginger; 4 tbsp brandy/rum (optional), ½ cup burnt sugar. NB; I prefer salted butter as the taste is more balanced, not too sweet, just right.

Chop fruits and soak in brandy or rum overnight. I always have presoaked fruits ready at hand. Sieve flour and baking powder into large bowl. Add rest of the ingredients and stir till smooth and glossy. Bake at 150 C or till skewer inserted in centre comes out clean for 40 or 45 minutes.

N.B.I have dispensed with the laborious method of making a fruit cake and adopted the easy way to a delicious, crumbly and moist fruit cake. Try it and see for yourself.

Burnt Sugar

1 cup sugar; 1 cup water.

Place sugar in nonstick pan and place on fire on medium heat. As soon as it begins to caramelize lower heat and stir gently with wooden spoon till as dark as possible. Add water slowly. It may spurt so be careful. Stir till burnt sugar is fully dissolved. Cool and use as desired. Add required amount to cake batter to get the desired consistency.

And for the modern Mum and busy housewife, I am including 2 easy to bake recipes which I have baked over the years. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Christmas Brownies

250 gms craisins(dried cranberries), chopped can use tuitti fruitti instead of craisins; 1/3 cup each of cherries, blackcurrants, pumpkin, tuiti fruiti and sultanas, chopped; ½ cup rum, optional; 125 gms Cocoa powder; 125 gms salted butter; 100 gms almond pieces; 2 cups brown sugar; 4 eggs; 1 cup plain flour; 1/4 tsp. baking powder.
Place the chopped fruits in a small bowl and soak in rum for 1 hour. Toast nuts 5 minutes in oven (130C) for 5 minutes and cool. Strain dried fruits from rum. In large bowl combine all the ingredients. Mix to combine. Bake 35 minutes in lined and greased pan in preheated oven (180C). Pan measurements 9” square. Cool and cut into 20 squares. Can drizzle with milk chocolate if desired.

Almond Meal Cake

1 cup condensed milk; 1 cup flour; 1 tsp baking powder; 1 cup salted butter; 1 tsp vanilla essence; 250 gms almonds (soak overnight in water and grind to smooth paste). If using almond meal, omit this step; 1 tbsp caster sugar; 1 tbsp candied peel; minced.
Beat all ingredients together. Pour into greased baking tray. Bake 20 mins at 180C or 350F 8” pan. Cool, cut, serve. Does not keep well. So eat within 2 days.


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Quick Mix

Mix And Match

Feeding a hungry family is no joke and making Christmas eats for friends and family in vast quantities can become a daunting task. So over the years, I have searched for and created some very simple recipes that could be made quickly, in vast quantities so that there would always be enough to share with others. This is another favourite, made exclusively for Christmas and as delicious as they come.
The Recipe
½ kg beaten rice; ¼ kg each of groundnuts, split chick peas and fried cashewnuts; salt to taste
For Seasoning: 1 ½ tsp chilli powder; 4 tbsp oil; large sprig of curry leaves
Pre heat oven to 275F or 140C. Spread the beaten rice on a baking tray and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until crisp. Transfer to large mixing bowl. Repeat with split chick peas and groundnuts. Add all the nuts to the beaten rice and mix well. Add salt to taste.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the curry leaves. Stir fry a minute and add the chilli powder. Remove from heat and pour over the nuts and beaten rice . Cool and store. Ideal for a light, healthy snack at tea time or with drinks.

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Nutty About Nuts

Masala Cashew/Groundnuts

Christmas was the one festival we looked forward to eagerly every year. Lots of presents, lots of food and lots of functions to attend, services to go to and welcoming the carolers to our home usually after midnight. Back then we hardly ever bought tidbits from the shops. Everything was made at home and recipes carefully hoarded and passed down in families for that special season of goodwill.
During the month of December the provision list would be extra long and the eats for Christmas carefully decided in advance. We children were roped in to help and we complied readily in the hope that we could sneak something away under Mummy’s eagle eye. She was noted for her Fried Groundnuts & Cashewnuts and all our guests waxed lyrical about them. One Christmas she bought some beautiful marbled plates which were red, blue and green and when some unexpected guests showed up, she decided to fry some cashewnuts for them. And serve them on her beautiful quarter plates. She fried and drained the cashewnuts and placed them on the beautiful plates and took them to the sitting room without realizing she had left a trail of piping hot nuts behind her which we enjoyed silently. When she reached the sitting room all that was left was a gaping hole in the centre of the plastic plate and us children laughing loudly at her misfortune. That was one Christmas I’ll always remember.
The Recipe
1 kg cashewnuts (whole) or groundnuts; 1 tbsp. khuskhus (poppy seeds); 1 tsp. salt or to taste; 1 ½ tsp. chilli powder; 3 tbsp. besan (chick pea flour); ¼ cup water; ¼ tsp. orange food colouring
1 litre Oil for deep frying
Place the nuts in a mixing bowl. Add all the ingredients and mix well. Heat oil to smoking point. Lower flame and fry nuts in batches until golden brown and crisp. Drain. Cool and store in airtight tins. In my house these are usually gobbled by Nehru in a couple of days.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Tyme

Mangalore Macaroons

Christmas means many things and as children growing up in Bangalore, years ago, that meant primarily food with a capital 'F'. Christmas was the time we had access to unlimited supplies of food given by friends, family and other well wishers. My grandmother (Ajamma) would send a basket of goodies every year and the four of us would stand around my mother as she opened the Christmas parcel. Our favourite was Macaroons and even now the smell of one arouses nostalgia for those long ago good times. The best macaroons I’ve had came from Vas Bakery in Mangalore and each visit to the bakery during our summer vacation had a sense of expectancy and accomplishment. Later on when we moved to Mangalore, just passing the bakery to and fro college would make our mouths water and noses sniff in appreciation of the delicious aromas wafting on the air towards us.
Many years later my mother got the recipe from my aunt and ever since then Macaroons have become a Christmas tradition in our family. I have baked them for more than twenty years now and everyone loves them. So this year, this is my Christmas gift to everyone who loves baking!!
The Recipe
250 gms sugar, 75 gms cashew kernels or bits, 9 cardamoms (seeds only), a squish of lemon juice; one medium egg white; a pinch of salt
Grind sugar and cardamom in blender. Place in mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, salt and cashew kernels and mix with spatula. Add egg white a little at the time until the mixture becomes a dough like consistency. Discard unused egg white. If too sticky add more sugar. Break off pieces and place on baking tray 2 inches apart. Preheat oven to 350 F or 200 C. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until done or slightly brown. Remove and cool. Serve as a dessert after dinner or transfer to airtight container. Subsequent batches take less time, so watch macaroons carefully.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

One For The Road


Wine making has been a part of our lives since childhood. Every year my dad would buy the grapes and assisted by my mother make jars of wine for Christmas. Carol singers and others were always given wine and of course we children would take advantage of the season.
Once we grew up all of us began experimenting and Kenny & Anu made some of the most unbelievable concoctions. No one enjoyed this more than Nehru who found it a novelty to be chief taster. Once we moved to Kuala Lumpur the sampling stopped. However, whenever we visited there was something new to taste and we went to the extent of carrying our favourites back to Malaysia carefully wrapped in paper and protected by layers of clothing.
I happened to taste an exquisite liqueur during my visit to Bangalore last year. I liked it so much that I obtained the recipe on my return to KL. And dear Nehru tasted it everyday until it got over. So I ‘m making it again for Christmas.

The Recipe:

300 g package dried apricots; 225 gms sugar; 500 ml vodka

Boil apricots in a little water until soft.  Cool completely.  Place all ingredients in a 2 litre glass jar.  Seal tight. Keep for 3 weeks.  Use as required.

Quick, easy, and perfect for Christmas.


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Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Perfectionist

Ranita’s Ice Cream Cake

Ranita has always had a liking for beautiful things. As a child she would always be up to some thing or the other in the kitchen playing with the rice, spices, pans, essences, cake decorations etc. revelling in her creations. This has continued in every area of her life. Living up to her expectations is no joke. This cake created for her 14th birthday passed the test.

The Recipe

Two 22cm (9inch) round vanilla cakes
1 litre ice cream of choice. We used strawberry and vanilla. Keep in freezer till required.
½ cup broken cashewnuts or almond flakes
1 photograph of the birthday baby
Cling film to protect photograph. A laminated photograph would be ideal.
½ cup jam mixed with ¼ cup water or ½ cup honey
1 box strawberries washed and sliced with stalks/calyx
¼ cup caster sugar to roll sliced strawberries in.
Take the ice cream out of the freezer and let it thaw while you get the cake ready.
Level the surface of the cake carefully with a knife. Cut 1/3 of the cake from top. This will be the lid. Keep aside on tray to cover the ice cream cake later. Cut around the inside of the cake carefully but not all the way through, leaving a 1.5 cm (5/8inch) thick shell around the sides and base. Scoop out the cake from the centre. (Use for trifle or any other dessert).
Fill the hollow centre of the cake with strawberry ice cream halfway up the cake. Pack down firmly. Sprinkle the nuts in an even layer and top up with vanilla ice cream. Replace the cake top and press down firmly. Wrap the cake in cling film and place in freezer overnight or longer until ice cream is completely firm.
Next day warm the jam and water in a small pan over low heat. Simmer for two minutes. Unwrap the cake and brush the jam all over the cake and sides. Place the photograph enclosed in plastic in the centre of the cake and gently press down. Working quickly roll sliced strawberries in caster sugar and arrange all over cake and sides in a pattern or as desired. Return to refrigerator until ready to serve.
You can fill the cake with ice cream 3 days in advance and store in the freezer. However once the fruit has been put on the cake it cannot be returned to the freezer.
N.B. The second cake is for a standby in case you mess up the first one.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Journey Begins

Serita's Chicken Rice

When we first arrived in Malaysia, the bewildering array of food left us all a bit awed. Never had we seen such a vast variety of glorious food, a veritable feast for the senses. At first we were content to watch. However, Serita had no such qualms and as the years passed we became as adept as any Malaysian in making our choices. In Malaysia “Food” is a culture of its own representing the many races bound together by their international cuisine. Having visitors is loads of fun since we can take them on a gastronomical adventure and also indulge in our passion for food.
Chicken Rice is one of the simplest yet delicious meals one can have. Over the years, it has become a family favourite. A meal by itself it is served with a soup, greens and chicken.

The Recipe

1 cup basmathi rice, 3 screwpine (pandanus) leaves washed and knotted), 1 star anise, 2 Maggi chicken stock cubes to make 2 cups stock, 1 tbsp oil, 1 inch piece ginger grated.
Clean and wash rice. Drain completely. Heat oil and stir fry ginger and rice grains till completely coated (a minute or two). Transfer to rice cooker. Add stock, star anise and screwpine leaves. Close cooker and cook till done. Serve hot with accompaniments. Do not need salt as the soup cubes have enough in them. Serves 4

Greens in Oyster Sauce

½ kg bok choy greens, 3 tbsp. oyster sauce, 2 tbsp. oil, 1 tbsp minced garlic
Soak greens in salted water for 15 minutes. Blanch in boiling water (add 2 tsp salt to the water) for 1 minute only and plunge into cold water immediately to retain crispness and colour. Drain and keep aside. Heat a pan and stir fry the minced garlic on medium heat until brown and edible. Add the oyster sauce with 2 tbsp water and bring to boil for 30 seconds on high heat . Arrange greens on serving dish. Dribble the oyster sauce all over and serve hot. Eat immediately, before it wilts.

Honey Pepper Chicken Wings

8 chicken wings, (wash and pat dry), 2 tbsps. good quality honey, 1 tbsp pepper coarsely powdered, 1 tsp thick soy sauce mixed with 2 tbsp. water. Spring onions for garnish. Salt if required.
Marinade chicken wings overnight in the honey, pepper and soy sauce. Taste the marinade to see if salt is needed. Next day grill in oven on high heat for 5 minutes each side or till done. Can baste wings with the marinade. Discard remaining marinade. Transfer wings to serving dish. Garnish with spring onions. Serve hot or cold.

Chicken Soup

2 cups chicken stock, 1 small piece of tofu (bean curd), 2 spring onions, chopped fine), salt to taste.
Cut tofu into pieces and steep in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and place a few pieces in each serving bowl. Heat stock and pour over the tofu. Add salt to taste. Garnish with spring onions. Serve hot. SLURP!!!

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