Thursday, December 23, 2010

Something Different

Fruit Cake With Cocoa

I have always wondered how a fruit cake with cocoa would taste. Every Christmas I would plan to make it and then forget all about it. Choclate Fruit Cake materialsed this year and it is as delicious as the traditional fruit cake. A Blessed Christmas to all my friends and family and am sure you will enjoy this recipe.

The Recipe

1 ¾ cups self raising flour; ½ cup cocoa; 1 cup caster sugar; 1 tsp. baking soda; 125 gms mixed, chopped fruits(tuiti fruiti, cherries, raisins and very little candied peel); 125 gms. butter at room temperature; 1 cup curds; 2 eggs.

Sift flour, cocoa, soda and sugar into bowl. Add mixed fruits and toss well. Melt butter in heavy based sauce pan , remove pan from heat and cool slightly. Add yoghurt and eggs and mix well. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring with wooden spoon till well combined and smooth. Spoon into greased, prepared pan (20 cm deep tin) and bake in pre heated oven at 180C for 50 to 60 minutes or till done. Cool in tin for 5 minutes. Turn out on rack and further cool. Slice and serve with wine on Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gourmet Christmas Macaroons

Just Chocolate

Christmas would be incomplete in our household without macaroons, so decided to make chocolate ones this Christmas. According to Ranita they are very addictive and I agree. She spent the afternoon eating all the dark, gooey, nutty chocolate macaroons and before she realised it finished one whole container. Try them and see for yourself. Become a gourmet!

The Recipe

500 gms sugar, 150 gms cashew kernels or bits, 18 cardamoms (seeds only), two large egg whites; a pinch of salt; 3 tbsp cocoa powder.
Blend sugar, salt, cocoa and cardamom in blender. Place in mixing bowl. Add 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(see photo) Preheat oven to 350 F or 200 C. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until done. Remove and cool. Serve as a dessert after dinner or transfer to airtight container. Subsequent batches take less time, so watch macaroons carefully. Guaranteed favourite for any special occasion.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Goodies

The Week Before Christmas

The week before Christmas is a time of cleaning and cooking and baking. Everyone comes up with their favourite recipe and we join together to make the Christmas eats. I am a traditionalist at heart and have been making the same items every Christmas, come what may with a few new ones thrown in each year.

This year the Christmas Goodies include the following:

Brandied Fruit Cake (for Ranita)
Macaroons (for Serita)
Kalkals (for Ranita)
Sooji Ladoos (for me)
Beaten Rice Mixture (for all of us)
Masala Cashewnuts (for Nehru)
Masala Groundnuts (for Nehru)
Christmas Brownies (for friends)
Plain Fruit Cake (to give away)

My fruits for the cake are soaked well in advance and the cake made in late November. Visit my blog for the recipe. This year I made my fruit cake in the shape of bells using a tray bought by Ranita.

Cashew macaroons have been a hot favourite with us ever since I got the recipe two decades ago and this year I decided to make a different kind of macaroon as well called Siennese Macaroons.
For Cashew Macaroons view my earlier entry

The recipe for Masala Cashewnuts/Groundnuts is on my blog

Will put up the recipe for kalkals later and for plain fruit cake follow the same recipe as Brandied Fruit Cake omitting the alcohol.

The recipe for mixture can be viewed at

This year I made Siennese Macaroons too. They are tiny delicious morsels of baked marzipan and absolutely irresistible. I found the recipe years ago while browsing through a book at Bristish Council and scribbled it on a scrap of paper.

The Recipe
(Make the day before you want to eat them because you need to dry them out before baking).

1 large egg white; pinch salt; 225 gms. powdered sugar; grated rind of 1 lemon/lime; 1 tsp. almond essence; 250 gms almond meal; 250 gms almond bits;; icing sugar for dusting.

Mix all ingredients in bowl. Add egg, little by little until like dough. Roll out on board dusted with icing sugar to 1/2 inch thickness and cut out desired shapes using icing sugar over your hands if too sticky. Use up all the dough and place on lined tray. Dry overnight or for 8 hours hours. Preheat oven to 140C and bake 20 minutes or till done. This can take more or less time depending on your oven. The macaroons should be pale and slightly cracked. Cool. Dust with icing sugar and hide away because once tasted, will be finished in one sitting.

Mummy's Sooji Ladoos

Another melt in the mouth recipe is the Sooji Ladoos my Mum used to make every Christmas. Loaded with calories and too scrumptious to be passed over, it is one treat we indulge in every year. This is the time to eat, drink, be merry and maintain your weight effectively.

250 gms fine sooji; 250 gms wheat flour; 1/2 cup ghee; 250 gms caster sugar; 5 cardamoms, powdered; 2 tbsp almonds or cashew bits; 2 tbsp black raisins.

Roast sooji & wheat seperately in a non stick pan using 1 tsp ghee for each until crisp and golden brown. Transfer to bpwl. Mix the ghee and sugar and add to the sooji-wheat mixture. Add the cardamon powder and mix well with a wooden spatula. Throw in the raisins and nuts. Mix thoroughly again. If too dry add more ghee. Form into ladoos and store in air tight container. Serve on Christmas Day and expect your guests to ask for another.

May the Spirit of Christmas abide with you throughout the coming year and may you be blessed with health, wealth and happiness.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Is Coming

Easy Brownies

Christmas is Coming and wherever I go I see signs of the hustle and bustle of Christmas- decorations, Christmas trees, people shopping, excitement - and it is time to make my Christmas list and to plan how many cakes to make. I usually get my ingredients from the cake speciality shops well in advance so that I can start my Christmas baking on time. Brownies are one of the easiest and most appreciated Christmas gifts and so I plan to make a lot. Of course a large number will be reserved for the girls and the latest addition to our family, Tigger the beloved and well spoilt tabby cat. So people, put on your aprons and start baking.

The Recipe
100 gms flour; ½ tsp. baking powder; 30 gms cocoa powder; 112.5 gms. margarine or butter; 140 gms. powdered sugar;2 large eggs; 1/2 tsp. vanilla essence; 37.5 gms. chopped nuts(either walnut, cashew, almond or groundnut).

For the Icing: 110 gms. icing sugar,sifted;, 30 gms. soft butter; milk to mix; vanilla or peppermint essence.

Topping: 60 gms cooking or milk chocolate(either white or brown or a combination of both). Marzipan Holly Leaves and Berries for decoration.

Grease and line the base of a 20 cm / 8 inch pan with baking paper, so that the paper extends over two sides.
Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa onto a baking sheet. Set aside. Cream sugar and margarine till light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla essence. If the mixture starts to curdle, stir in a little of the flour mixture. Fold in the remaining flour and the nuts. Pour the mixture into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven 175C for about 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Allow to cool. Make the icing by combining all the ingredients to a spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cake. When set, melt the chocolate in a bowl over gently simmering water. Drizzle over icing. (If using white and brown chocolate, melt the white first and pour over cake at random. Follow with brown. Take a toothpick and gently run through both colours to create a marbled effect). Place the marzipan leaves and holly berries on top. Insert greeting card. Place in cake box and gift it to a friend.

NB: For Marzipan Recipe see my earlier entry in April 2010 Easter Treat

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Salad Days

Ranita's Masterpiece

It is very easy to get children interested in cooking and the best way to start is with simple salads. When Serita participated in various culinary competitions, Ranita was also eager to try her hand. The Women's Fellowship of my Mum's church provided the opportunity and the sisters decided to make a tried and tested recipe - Russian Salad. Many combinations and versions were experimented with before the final outcome. And of course the entry won the prize.

The Recipe

1 beautiful salad plate

1 bunch lettuce, washed and wiped; 1 carrot grated; ½ pomegranate; ¼ cup peas, boiled; 1 small yellow zucchini, diced; ½ apple, diced; ½ orange, peeled; 2 cucumber slices (ends); 2 tomato slices (ends); 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled; 5 tbsp. mayonnaise for dressing; 6 peppercorns and 4 cloves; salt to taste.
NB: Can also add 2 tbsp each of cream and yoghurt to dressing.

To make mushrooms: Slice off top and bottom of boiled eggs to enable egg to stand. This will be the stalk. Place tomato slice on top of egg for cap. Top with cucumber end. Make 2 mushrooms. Reserve top and bottom of eggs to make the mice tails.

To make Mice: Cut eggs in half. Place pepper corns for eyes at narrow end. Push 2 cloves in for ears. Cut tails from sliced ends of eggs. Make 3. Keep aside.

Shred lettuce very fine. Place on salad plate. Mix carrot, peas, apple, pomegranate seeds, zucchini; sweetlime and salt with 4 tbsp mayonnaise, reserving 1 tbsp. for later use. Arrange lettuce leaves to one side. Place mice in foreground on lettuce and tails behind them. Arrange the mushrooms on either side. Mix the 1 tbsp. mayonnaise with 2 tbsp. water and drizzle over lettuce. Serve with crusty garlic bread.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Festival of Lights

Deepavali Cakes

Deepavali has always been a time of fellowship and fun. Growing up in Bangalore, we were blessed with lovely neighbours- Nalini & Anu Prabhakar, Kala Gopal, Usha, Soghra and her sisters and so many other friends. Festivals and birthdays were always a time of bonhomie and good cheer and an exchange of cuisines, appreciated by everyone, especially us children. Deepavalli was no exception and we loved visiting each other and bursting crackers. Deepavalli in Kuala Lumpur is no different. We actually burst crackers this season and baked many cakes to give away to our friends who were kind enough to invite us into their homes. May the Festival of Lights bring joy and prosperity to everyone.

The Recipe

This recipe was given to my mother many, many years ago in Mangalore by a friend of hers named Mrs. Koshy. I use it as my basic recipe and change it to suit my requirements. Mrs. Koshy called it 1,2,3,4 Cake and I have changed it to the above.

1 cup salted butter (250 gms); 2 cups caster sugar (500 gms); 3 cups flour (750 gms); 4 large eggs; 2 tsp baking powder; 2 tsp vanilla essence; 1/2 cup tuitti fruity.

Sieve the flour and baking powder three times. Mix the tuiti fruiti with the flour and keep aside. This will ensure the fruit does not sink to the bottom of the cake. Cream butter and sugar together with electric beater till pale and fluffy. Add eggs one by one. Stir in the vanilla essence. Gently fold in the flour with a wooden spoon a little by little until all the flour is used up. Grease two 9 inch cake pans. Line with baking paper. Divide mixture into two and pour into prepared cake pans. Gently tap cake pans to even surface. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C and bake 40 minutes or until skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. Cool overnight. Next day ice the cakes.

Icing: 250 gms butter; 1 kg icing sugar sieved. Desired food colouring. I used yellow, orange and brown; 2 sheets of rice paper available at cake specialist shops; silver balls.

Beat the butter and icing sugar with an electric mixer adding the sugar a little by little until of spreadable consistency. Spread some of the icing on both cakes, top and sides. Keep the remaining icing aside.

Cut out two rice paper cirlcles of 9 inches diameter each. Trace the diyas on the rice paper with edible food pens. Position on cake. Divide the remaining icing into three portions. Add yellow food colouring to one, orange to the other and brown to the third. Using an icing gun pipe the different colours onto the cake follwing the tracing. Decorate with silver balls. Attach greeting card and give it to friends who invite you to celebrate with them. Cheers!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Mountain of Adventure

Jughead Jones Sandwich

A few years ago my mum's church organised a salad and sandwich competition for kids and she was very keen for her grandchildren to participate. Out came the books and the fond aunts scoured the internet for recipes and pictures. All of us poured over the various options and finally decided on "The Recipe." The next few days were spent scouting for the choicest ingredients and we even tried it out at home to see how it would taste. Finally on the day, the masterpiece was assembled and I need not say more. The picture speaks for itself.
The Recipe

1 large round loaf of brown bread; 250 gms Amul Butter;3 boiled eggs mashed with salt and pepper to taste; 12 slices salami;6 slices cheese; 3 large tomatoes sliced thin; 1 large bunch of mixed lettuce washed and wiped dry; mayonnaise and thousand island dressing; 1 tomato rose for garnish; cucumber slices, cherries(pitted) and olives for decoration.

Slice the loaf evenly into four horizontally. Spread with butter. Place some of the lettuce leaves and spread mashed boiled eggs on the bottom layer. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of mayonnaise. Arrange some lettuce, the cheese and tomatoes on the second layer and drizzle with 2 tbsp of thousand island dressing. Arrange lettuce and salami on third layer and drizzle with 2 tbsp mayonnaise. Stack layers together. Place sandwich on pretty plate. Shred remaining lettuce and arrange on plate around the loaf. Surround the sandwich with cucumber slices. Spread 1 tbsp thousand island dressing on top of the sandwich. Decorate with remaining salami cones, olives, cherries and salad leaves. Cut into wedges and serve.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sheer Decadence

Chicken Rendang

Rendang is a dish which originated from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia and is now a popular Malaysian dish, served at ceremonial occasions and to honour guests. Rendang is traditionally prepared by the Malay community during festive occasions.

There are many variations and each recipe is as good as any other. What I like best about this delicious dish is that enticing aroma that wafts out of the kitchen, fills the entire house, luring one and all. The aftermath is a fragrance that lingers for days evoking satisfaction and bliss.

The Recipe

11/2 kg chicken, washed, and cut into medium pieces; 4 onions, sliced fine; ½ bulb garlic; 1inch piece ginger; 1 tsp chilli powder, food colouring; 100 gms coconut powder mix with 3 cups warm water and keep aside or milk from two coconuts; 1 inch piece galangal (aromatic ginger); 4 screw pine leaves(pandanus); 4 kaffir lime leaves; 4 turmeric leaves, 3 stalks lemon grass (use the white part only); Salt to taste; orange food colouring.
Grind onions, garlic, both the gingers and the chilli powder till fine. Add to pan with the rest of the ingredients and bring to a low boil. Add chicken, lower heat and simmer until the gravy is dry and chicken is tender. Keep stirring to prevent sticking. Remove leaves before serving hot with rice.
NB: This dish does not need any oil. We like our rendang with gravy, so I simmer till half the gravy evaporates. Absolutely delicious.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rice To The Occasion

Chicken Biriyani A La Mummy

I never really like Biriyani until we moved to Bangalore in 1983 and were deluged by it at every wedding. Biriyani turned out to be more than we had bargained for and it soon became a family favourite. Nehru and the girls demanded it every month and I soon became adept at it serving it for many a party and occasion. It is a favourite amongst our Malaysian friends where it is called Briyani and I have cooked this always with different kinds of pachdi and of course the inevitable Stuffed Brinjal.

The Recipe

500gms Basmathi Rice, wash, drain, parboil with salt to taste and keep aside; 1 kg chicken, washed and cut into large pieces.
Grind masala :1 large onion, quartered; 1 1/2 pods garlic, peeled; 3/4 tsp corriander seeds; 5 cloves; 3 inch piec ginger; 5 cardamoms, seeded, 1 inch stick cinnamon.

Pressure cook chicken 2 minutes in 1/2 cup water with a large tomato, cubed, a pinch of haldi(turmeric) and salt to taste.

Fry 6 large onions sliced in 2 tbsp ghee mixed with 2 tbsp oil till brown and keep aside.
In the same oil fry the ground masala until water evaporates and masala leaves the side of the pan and the oil oozes out. Add chicken, stock and cook on low flame till dry.

Take a large dish (either casserole or rice cooker or dekshi) and alternate layers of rice, meat and fried onions, beginning and ending with a layer of rice. Sprinkle an additional tbsp of ghee (optional) over the top layer. Next squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime over the rice, followed by a few drops orange food colouring dissoved in 1/4 cup milk. Cover and cook till done. Usually takes 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot garnished with or without hard boiled eggs, curd pachdi and whole brinjal.

Pachdi: Mix one cup curds with 1/2 cup boondi, a few corriander leaves and salt to taste.

A Rose By Any Other Name is just as sweet! Found this Kenyan Recipe for Biriani and am including it in this post. Happy Eating.

A dish that originated from the Kenya Coast.

1 kg. Meat ( mutton leg, a lean cut of beef, goat or chicken)
1 kg. Rice
1 kg. Onions
1 kg. Potatoes
1 medium size unripe pawpaw (papaya)
300 ml. (1.5 cups) sour milk or yogurt
2 limes
1/4 kg. Tomatoes
1 small bulb of garlic
Small piece of fresh green ginger
4 cardamom pods
4 cloves
2 small sticks cinnamon
1 teaspoon each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and whole black peppercorns
Oil for frying
1 smallest size tin tomato paste (I used 100gms)

Peel pawpaw, remove seeds, and grate coarsely. Pound the garlic and ginger to a paste. Cut the meat into biggish pieces and put into a heavy saucepan with the pawpaw and garlic and ginger. Add the sour milk or yogurt, and the juice of the two limes. Set over a low heat and stir at intervals. Whilst this is cooking, grind all the spices together and set aside. Slice the onions and fry in oil until brown and crisp. Remove from the fat. Peel and slice the potatoes and fry in the same oil until golden brown. Remove and keep on one side - apart from the onions. Check the meat to see if it is nearly ready, then add the spices and the skinned tomatoes together with 4-5 tablespoons of the fat used to fry the onions and potatoes. Mix together well, then add the tin of tomato paste. Continue cooking over low heat until the meat is really tender and the sauce thick and creamy. It is almost certain you will have to add a little warm water before the meat is cooked. Cook for a final 15 - 20 minutes to make sure all the flavours have blended together.

Prepare and cook the rice. Put a good layer of the rice at the bottom of a fireproof dish or casserole. Pour over the meat mixture, and cover completely with another layer of rice. Now put in the fried onions, reserving a few for decoration, and cover them with the rest of the rice. Boil up the remaining oil and pour over. Take the sliced potatoes and tuck them at the edge of the dish, and across the top, pushing them into the rice. Sprinkle with the reserved onions about 30 minutes. Do not let it become dry. Biriani can be served at table in the casserole if it is decorative one, or else you will have to remove the meat and the vegetables keeping the layers as cooked and serve on a big platter.

1/2 kg small brinjals (I used green and purple), wash, make two slits crossways across bottom retaining stalk; 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste; 3 green chillies; 1 large onion; 1 1/2 tsp corriander powder; 1/2 tsp somph; 1/2 tsp jeera powder; 1 tsp garam masala powder; 3/4 tsp chilli powder; fffffew drops orange food colouring; 3 tbsp grated coconut; salt to taste.
Grind all the ingredients except the brinjals to a smooth paste. Fry the masala in 2 tbsp oil until thick. Stuff 1/2 a tsp of masala paste into each brinjal and arrange in a dish. Put the remaining masala on top and pressure cook with 1/2 cup water 5 minutes only. Serve with biriyani. A winning combination indeed.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Our Favourite Tradition

Ma's Prawn Pulav

Prawn Pulav is another family favourite. Coming from a coastal town, we always had plenty of sea food and prawns were always part of a celebration menu. More often than not, as kids we would pick out the prawns and leave the rice. Tradition continues and my girls do the same. Mummy's Prawn Pulav is no exception and we make it for many a family occasion.
The Recipe
500gms prawns, shelled, deveined and washed; 350 gms Basmathi rice, wash, drain and keep aside; 2 potatoes, cubed; 2 onions, sliced; 1 tbsp ginger, minced; 3 tbsp grated coconut; 1 tbsp garlic paste; 2 tsp corriander seeds; 2 tsp chilli powder or to taste; 1/2 tsp haldi; salt to taste; 3 tbsp oil.

NB: I always add a few vegetables as that was the only way to get my children to eat them.

Grind the ginger, garlic, coconut, corriander seeds and chilli powder to a paste. Heat oil in a non stick pan and saute the prawns and onions till golden brown. Add the rice and stir fry till all the grains are coated with oil. Stir in the salt, haldi, ground masala and 4 cups water (1 cup = 250ml). Throw in the potatoes as well. Transfer to pressure cooker or rice cooker and cook till rice is done. Takes about 5 minutes in the pressure cooker. Serve hot with curd pachdi (mix together 1/4 litre curds, salt, 1/4 cucumber sliced; 1 cubed tomato, 1 sliced onion, 1 cgreen chilli minced and corriander leaves). Great for a Sunday lunch.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Post Ramadhan

Aloe & Carrot Salad

Herbal Aloe Concentrate

The numerous buka puasas and Open Houses we attend during Hari Raya tends to take it's toll on our stomachs. Thank goodness for Herbal Aloe Concentrate which restores our digestive systems in a jiffy. We always have a lot of Aloe in salads, juices and marinades after Ramadhan to keep our systems in working order. It is so soothing and cooling and does wonders for an overactive stomach. In fact, nowadays aloe is the only dressing I use with my salads.

The Recipe

3 capfuls of Herbal Aloe concentrate; 1 medium cucumber, sliced thin; 3 carrots, grated; salt & pepper to taste.

Marinade the cucumber in the aloe concentrate for 10 minutes. Strain and reserve the aloe liquid. Marinade the grated carrot in the aloe liquid for 5 minutes. Drain and again reserve the aloe liquid. Arrange the cucumber and carrot on a plate in a decorative pattern. Add salt and pepper to the aloe liquid. Pour over cucumber and carrot and serve immediately.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tender Coconut Delite

Coconut Craze

The puasa month of Ramadhan is a time for all kinds of Malaysian delicacies and the best time to see local fare in all its variations. Coconut is used abundantly in quite a few preparations and I was quite pleased to observe this because of the many similarities to Mangalorean food. One of my favourite desserts is tender coconut pudding. It is so light, delicious and of course easy to make and there are so many recipes that a dedicated cook will have the time of her life trying them all out. And still have room for more.
The Recipe

2 cups tender coconut water; 1 cup chopped tender coconut; sugar to taste; 3 tsp gelatine; 1/2 cup coconut milk(optional).
Add sugar to taste to the coconut water and stir. Sprinkle the gelatine over 1/4 cup hot water, and add to the coconut water when dissolved. Stir in the chopped coconut. Transfer to glass bowl and set overnight in refrigerator. If using coconut milk add to the coconut water before adding the chopped coconut. I have made it in different ways and love all of them.
Some variations: Place lychees at the base of the bowl and then pour the tender coconut water over.
Use cubed mangoes in the same way.
Instead of tender coconut water use coconut milk.
Use longans, rambutans, any other fruit or a combination of fruits for your base.
Experiment and find out the star of your creation.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vicki's Gift From The Sea

Something Fishy
I could live off sea food for the rest of my life. So whenever Fairy Godmother Vicki descends with a load of frozen fish from her hometown, it is certainly time for that something special. This time I decided to make fried fish with Tom Yam sauce and take a good photograph of it. It is easy, quick and sure to be polished off. Thank you Vicki, this one is for you.
The Recipe
1 large fish (pomfret or snapper), scaled and gutted, head, tail and fins intact. Wash, drain, rub with salt and turmeric powder and keep ready for use.
2 tbsp flour to coat fish with; oil for deep frying fish; large platter to hold fish
For Sauce: 1 tbsp tom yam paste (those who like it spicier can use more); 1 ½ cup water; 1 tbsp cornflour;1 tbsp oil; 4 flakes garlic, cut fine; 1 inch ginger, minced; salt to taste; 1 medium sized tomato sliced and coriander leaves for garnishing.
Coat fish with flour and deep fry till crisp. Drain and keep hot.
To Make The Sauce: Heat the oil. Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for a minute on high heat. Lower flame and add the tom yam paste. Stir fry another minute till fragrant. Now add the water mixed with the corn flour, salt to taste and bring to the boil stirring continuously to avoid lumps. As soon as the sauce thickens (1 to 2 minutes), remove from fire. Transfer fish to serving plate and pour sauce over it. Garnish with coriander leaves and sliced tomato and serve hot with white rice.
N.B. Can also add 100 gms ladies finger(cut each into three pieces), stir fried in 1tbsp oil. (Optional)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Treasure Hunt

Chilli Chicken Surprise

This is another delectable recipe which evokes mirth. Soon after we came to Kuala Lumpur I began to be fascinated by the varieties of cuisine one could see in every quarter. Since I love Chinese food, I decided to learn how to make it and beseeched all my new friends and acquaintances for recipes and demonstrations. One of the recipes I observed was the above and so I decided to make it myself one Sunday. The ingredients were bought and stored away. I finally made it and found that my dear daughters had found my hidden stash of cashewnuts and eaten it all up!
The Recipe
1 large chicken breast without skin, washed, drained and cut into cubes: oil for deep frying
For marinade: 1 tbsp cornflour; 1 egg, beaten lightly; salt and pepper to taste
Seasoning: 3 to 4 dried red chillies, broken into pieces; 2 tbsp peanut oil
For Garnish: 15 cashewnuts fried golden brown; 1 spring onion chopped fine
For Sauce: 1 tbsp cornflour and 1 soup cube dissolved in ½ cup water
1 red or green capsicum, cubed.
Marinade chicken in cornflour, pepper powder, salt and egg for 15 minutes making the pieces are coated nicely. Heat the oil and deep fry to golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper, cover and keep hot.
Heat 2 tbsp peanut oil and add the broken chillies to it. Stir fry a minute. Add the sauce ingredients and when it begins to boil, lower flame stirring all the while for a minute. Add the fried chicken and capsicum, mix well and transfer to serving dish. Garnish with cashew nuts and spring onions. Serve hot with Chinese Fried Rice.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Woman Of Substance

Appetite For Avocado

Avocados or butterfruit as they are also known, are one of my favourite fruits. And whenever I see one I remember my late mum-in-law Mercy Isaac (Pichamuthu). And have a good laugh over the story she told me. She was a force to reckon with. Have no idea how she managed to nurture eleven children, feed them, clothe them and give them the attention they each required, and also do her numerous good deeds and social work, when I had to juggle my time between two girls. She was always ready to help people and was a very good conversationalist. And was a wizard at cooking. She had a huge compound in which there were numerous avocado trees and apparently none of her family liked them, so the boys used the fruit for target practice. I love them and Nehru watched in horror as I devoured them in soups, sauces, dips, salads, cakes, smoothies, shakes, puddings and much more. One day I decided to trick him and served him a delicious pudding with pieces of mango in it. After he ate it with enjoyment, I told him it was his favourite bĂȘte noire.
The Recipe
2 cups low fat milk; 2 ripe avocados, scoop out the flesh and blend till smooth; 1 ripe mango, skinned & cubed; 3 tsp gelatine dissolved in ¼ cup hot milk; sugar to taste.
Add the sugar to the milk and stir till dissolved. Add the blended avocado, and gelatine and beat till smooth and creamy with an electric beater. Transfer to serving dish and gently add the cubed mangoes, reserving some for decoration. Set in refrigerator. Decorate with reserved mango before serving.

Avocados are a very misunderstood fruit. A lot of people detest them. They are a super food packed with essential nutrients, easy to digest and are rich in natural antibiotic and antifungal chemicals. Avocados contain monounstaurated fat, which is a healthy, beneficial fat. Research has shown that adding naturally fatty foods such as avocados to the diet is associated with optimal nutrient absorption.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fantastic Fish

Acar Ikan Tenggiri ((Pickled Seer Fish)

Living in Malaysia has given me the opportunity to try out so many different recipes. Malaysia is a blend of many cultures and this is reflected in the food which is a real pleasure to sample. Over the years we have eaten a variety of cuisines and all of us have our favourites. This is a very simple, quick to cook dish that can be eaten with rice or any form of bread.
The Recipe
½ kg seer fish, sliced; 2 carrots cut into strips; 1 Lebanese cucumber cut into strips; 1 large onion, sliced; 5 flakes garlic, minced; 30 ml tomato chilli sauce; 1 tbsp curry powder; ½ tsp chilli powder (to taste); ½ tsp turmeric powder; 2 stalks curry leaves; a pinch of mustard seeds; 1 tbsp vinegar; salt & sugar to taste; oil for frying
Wash and drain the fish. Season with salt and turmeric powder and deep fry the fish in hot oil until golden brown. Drain well. Leave 2 to 3 tbsp oil in the pan and sauté the onions, garlic, mustard and curry leaves until the mustard splutters and the mixture is aromatic. Add curry powder and chilli powder, 3/4 cup water and the chilli sauce. Stir well. Add the carrot and cucumber. Cover and cook a few minutes. Add salt and sugar to taste. Next stir in the vinegar and mix well. Lastly add the fish and simmer until gravy is of desired thickness. Serve with rice.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Slim & Trim

Dry Fruits Shake

My visit to Bangalore last month was full of gastronomical surprises. I had this amazing Dry Fruits Shake which I thoroughly enjoyed. The best part about it is that it is a delightful breakfast, chock full of 55 nutrients that the body needs on a daily basis, not more than 250 calories and good for the figure too. You can actually lose weight with this easy to make drink. With a few modifications, here it is in all its glory.

The Recipe

250 ml cold/room temperature low fat milk; 2 scoops (50 gms) French Vanilla Nutritional Mix Powder; 1 scoop (25 gms) Protein Powder; 1 tbsp Badam (Almond) Mix; 2 tsp toasted flaked almonds, pista and a few saffron strands.

Blend the milk and powders. Pour into beautiful glass. Garnish with nuts and saffron. Admire it for a while and then drink it slowly, savouring every mouthful. You'll be amazed at how full and contented you feel.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Man Of Few Words

Pineapple Sponge Cake

My late father in law Ernest Martin Isaac would have been 100 years last week and so we had an impromptu party for him at Bangalore. By the time I came into the family he was past his prime but I do know that he was a multi talented individual, something I have seen reflected in all his children. He taught them to excel in everything and I have experienced this in the way Nehru made school projects for Serita & Ranita,in his work and in the maintainence of my household gadgets. The amount of thought and precision and care that went into everthing can only be traced to the genius of his father. Uncle as I called him loved his pipe and loved his food, so every weekend I would cook something special for him. He celebrated his 75th birthday, soon after we were married and so I baked a luscious cake for him which he thoroughly enjoyed. What began as a hobby, is now a passion and I have baked many a cake over the years, but none appreciated as much as that pineapple sponge. It is 17 years since he passed on and the last picture we have of him is gazing fondly at Ranita as a two day old in hospital. Uncle, your family is one to be proud of!
The Recipe
175 gms butter; 175 gms caster sugar; 3 eggs, beaten; 175 gms flour; 1 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp. vanilla essence;
Grease and base-line two 9 inch sandwich tins. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. If the mixture begins to curdle add 1 tbsp of flour with the second egg. Using a metal spoon, fold in the flour gently. Divide the mixture between the the two tins and bake for 25 to 30 minutes in centre of oven till the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Turn onto a wire rack to cool, removing the lining paper.

For The Filling & Topping
½ litre whipping cream; caster sugar to taste; 1 tin of pineapple cubes, drain and chop fruit, reserve syrup.

Assembling the cake:
20 cm decorative round cake board;

Beat the cream and sugar until stiff. Place the first cake on the board and drizzle 2 tbsp pineapple syrup over it. Spread 1/3 of the whipped cream evenly over the cake. Arrange half the chopped pineapple over the whipped cream. Place second cake over the first and repeat process. Use the remaining 1/3 whipped cream to cover the sides. Refrigerate overnight and cut into wedges before serving.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mother Of Mine.

75th Birthday Rainbow Cake

I can hardly believe my mother celebrated her 75 birthday last week in Bangalore, India. To me she will always be the gorgeous, glamorous, beautiful, charming hostess, friend, mentor and guiding star who wore many hats successfully.
Gladys Caroline Krupa was born on 2nd July 1935 to Theodore & Wilhelmina Soans (nee Tholar) in South Kanara district. She received her schooling at Mission High School, Udipi & Board High School, Kundapura. At a time when most girls got married early, she completed her B.A. with distinction in Home Science from St. Agnes College, Mangalore and then honed her culinary skills for 1 year at Nazareth Convent, Mangalore, specialising in Inernational Cuisine. This held her in good stead over the years as she entertained diplomats, bureaucrats, family, friends and civilians alike.

She married my dad Cyril Elisha, I.A.S. in 1957 and was soon busy bringing up the four of us. She coaxed, cajoled, encouraged, scolded and urged us to do our best. We learnt how to be committed and dedicated from her. In fact as the only children singing in the St. Mark's Choir, she ruled that only those who attended choir practice regularly, would get pocket money. I appreciate that now, as music is very much a part of our lives today.

My fathers's sudden death in 1971 was a blow to all of us. From VIP's to nobodies was hard to bear. I cannot even imagine how my mother picked up the pieces of our shattered lives and put it together painstakingly over the years. I can think of only one phrase to describe her - "When the going gets tough, the tough get going!" At this point of time I would like to thank Prakash Uncle and Shobha Akka our very own Rock of Gibralter for nearly four decades.

My mother is an amazing cook. When Nehru first ate in our house, he was amazed. Once we were married, he happily ate everything she put in front of him, including idlis and uppuma, that I still detest. As newly weds we often made a beeline to her house whenever our cupboard was bare. She taught me to keep house, to cook, to bake, to sew, to paint, to embroider, to be honest, ethical, independent and much more. Her four grand daughters adore her and she shamelessly spoils them, a luxury she could not afford with us. My daughters, Serita & Ranita say she is the best cook in the world and I agree. Mummy, Ma, Nana, Gladys, Glady, SannAkka, Akka, Aunty, Sister or Friend - whatever you choose to call her- is Simply the BEST! Happy Birthday Ma and thank you!

And now, here is the recipe for the Rainbow Cake that Ranita insisted I make and the entire family helped to put together for an extraordinary woman.
Ranita & I made the cherry blossoms in 10 days. Serita & Asha painted them, Swetha & Joyce layered the cake, Smitha whipped the cream and I supervised everything.

The cake has five layers. You need to make five layers per cake (one set is a standby), so choose your colours and get to work.

The Recipe

*175 gms butter; 175 gms caster sugar; 3 eggs beaten; 175 gms flour; 1 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp. vanilla essence; 1 tsp food colouring (you will require 5 different colours. I used pink, yellow, green, blue and orange).
Grease and base-line two 9 inch sandwich tins. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. If the mixture begins to curdle add 1 tbsp of flour with the second egg. Using a metal spoon, fold in the flour gently. Divide the mixture between the the two tins and bake for 25 to 30 minutes in centre of oven till the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Turn onto a wire rack to cool, removing the lining paper.*
Repeat * to * until you have 10 cakes, two of each colour.

Assembling The Cake

20 cm decorative round cake board; 75 Cherry Blossoms; 36 leaves; golden sash; candles; Happy Birthday From All Of Us Placard ; Whipped Cream Filling; Royal Icing; Marzipan; Apricot Jam

For The Filling
1 litre whipping cream; caster sugar to taste.

Beat the cream and sugar until stiff. Place the first cake on the board and sandwhich the layers together with the whipped cream leaving the top bare.

Marzipan Topping
1/2 kg marzipan (see recipe for easter Eggs in April post).
2 tbsp apricot jam
Roll out to a 20 cm round. Brush topmost layer with apricot jam and place the marzipan on it. Gently press down. Make the Royal Icing.

Royal Icing

3/4 kg icing sugar; 4 to 6 egg whites; 1 tsp almond essence; juice of 1/2 a lime or lemon to make the icing dazzling white.

Sieve the icing sugar and keep aside. Seperate the egg whites and place in a large bowl. Add the essence and the lime juice and mix well. Add the egg whites a little at a time until the icing is of spreading consistency. Work fast as royal icing hardens quickly. Ice the cake on top and sides and even out using a knife. Dry the cake for 15 to 20 minutes under a fan. Cover remaining icing with cling film and keep aside. Apply a second layer of icing to top and sides. Dry over night. Next day arrange cherry blossoms on top of the cake along with a few leaves. Tie a golden sash around base of cake. Add the rest of the trimmings.
Revel in your ability to produce a beautiful cake and enjoy the oohs and ahs from astonished guests!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pick The Prawns

Serita's Choice

Many, many years ago when Serita was a little girl I made prawns for the first time and served it for lunch. I was very pleased to see that there was enough for dinner and spent a relaxed afternoon reading and listening to music. When the hungry husband arrived from office I went into the kitchen to reheat the pasta and found only the pasta and Serita grinning like the Chesire cat. Today is her 23rd birthday and I am writing about that incident which still makes me laugh like crazy.

The Recipe

20 jumbo prawns, deveined, tails retained, 3 cups cooked pasta, 2 chicken soup cubes
5 to 6 cloves garlic minced, 2 stalks celery chopped, 1 large onion, chopped, 2 carrots skinned and quartered, oil for frying.

Heat oil in large pan. Stir fry onions, celery, garlic, carrots until onions are transparent. Add the prawns and gently toss till colour changes and they become bright orange. Crush the soup cubes and add to the vegetable and prawns. Add cooked pasta and mix well. Season with crushed black pepper and salt to taste. Serve with white prawn sauce.

Prawn Sauce: 2 cups milk, 1 cup prawn stock(can use the shells and heads of prawn to make stock. Clean well under running water and boil 10 minutes in 1 1/2 cups water).
1 tbsp flour, salt & pepper to taste,1 chopped tomato, 1 egg, 2 tbsp oil.

Heat oil. Add flour, lower flame and stir fry 1 minute. Slowly add the prawn stock and milk. Keep stirring to avoid lumps. Add the egg and make sure to mix it properly. Throw in the chopped tomato. Bring to boil, lower flame and keep stirring till thick and pouring consistency. Remove and serve hot with the pasta.
Happy Birthday Girl, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday To You!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sweet Tooth

Delectable Dessert

You can be the queen in your kitchen when you master this simple, yet elegant dessert. The humble, versatile yogurt, a must in every Indian household conquers even the skeptical food critic. My family loves sweet curd as we call it and I make it whenever I have large dinner parties and a menu to match. This recipe was given to me by my sis in law many years ago and has been passed on to many a fan. Goes well with any kind of menu.
The Recipe
500 ml home made yogurt
250 ml can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
Line a large strainer with a layer of cheesecloth. Pour the yogurt into the lined strainer, and set it over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight (becomes like cream cheese). Grease a 9-inch dish which has a lid.
Discard the liquid that has drained from the yogurt. Place the yogurt into the bowl, and whisk in the condensed milk. Pour into the prepared dish. Cover with lid and steam in cooker or steamer for 20 minutes. Remove and sprinkle almonds over top. Refrigerate before serving. Watch it vanish and you will be the envy of all!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Treat

Marzipan Eggs

Easter was the season for Easter eggs and marzipan. In Bangalore we got them from Nilgiris where we could choose from a wide variety of chickens, bunnies and delicious chocolate eggs. Once we moved to Kuala Lumpur, I had to rack my brains on where to obtain Easter Eggs for my little chicks. I managed to get a good recipe for marzipan and from 1997 have been making marzipan for friends and ourselves. My parents used to make them for us and we would stand around them grabbing eggs in turn until everything was inside us, rather than on the table. It was the same in my house with Serita & Ranita sampling more than they should. This Easter, Ranita made the eggs and is guarding them like gold. But I dare say, we will get our own Easter Basket on Sunday.
The Recipe
500gms almond meal; 250 gms icing sugar; 250 gms caster sugar (blend in mixer); ¼ tsp. almond essence; white of two medium sized eggs; squish of lemon juice; food colouring to colour eggs. 100 chocolate nutties. Baskets for decoration.
Place almond meal in bowl. Add the icing sugar and powdered caster sugar. Mix together. Make a well in centre and fold in the almond essence and lemon juice. Add the egg white a little at a time until the mixture in the bowl becomes a soft dough. Discard remaining egg white. Divide into portions and wrap with cling film. Add a few drops of desired food colouring to one portion and knead until marzipan is evenly coloured. Wrap with cling film and keep aside. Repeat process with other portions. Take one of the coloured portions, break off a piece and flatten on palm of hand. Place a nuttie in the centre and cover with the marzipan. Repeat process until the nutties and marzipan are used up. Place in baskets and distribute to all friends and well wishers.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bangalore Special

Dr. Vijayashri's Bisi Bele Bath

Good Friday was always vegetarian fare and as children we simply hated it. My mum would faithfully serve up kanji (rice porridge) and roasted brinjal- coconut chutney which in our opinion was simply awful. Adults always raved about it, and I could not understand why. So when I set up my own house I decided to serve up something different and opted for Bisi Bele Bath (my children hated it, while my spouse loved it) which is a rice-based dish with its origins in the state of Karnataka, India. Bisi-bele-bhaath translates to hot-lentil-rice in the Kannada language. The traditional preparation of this dish is quite elaborate and involves the use of spicy masala, toor dal (a form of lentil) and vegetables. Spices like nutmeg and asafoetida, curry leaves and tamarind pulp used in its preparation contribute to the unique flavour and taste of this dish. It is served hot and sometimes eaten along with salad, papadams or potato chips. Every family has its own recipe and I got mine from a friend who made the best I have ever eaten. You either hate it or love it and the best compliment I got was when a vegetarian friend asked me for the recipe. Ranita protested when I made it this morning and Serita refused to look at it. However, Ranita ate a plateful and said, actually it’s quite tasty! Check it out yourself.

The Recipe

1 cup brown/white rice; 1 cup toor dhal (split yellow lentils); 1 tbsp tamarind puree; 1 cup mixed vegetables. I used corn, carrots and peas. The more variety the better.
4 large tomatoes, chopped; 1 handful baby onions, peeled; salt to taste; 1/4 tsp mustard and 2 sprigs curry leaves for seasoning. Fried cashewnuts for garnish; Potato chips and ghee for serving.

Masala: Fry the following in 1 tsp oil in a nonstick pan, cool and grind in mixer- 1 tsp bengal gram dhal (split chick peas); 1 tsp corriander seeds; 1/2 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds; 1/2 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds; 1/2 tsp urad (black gram) dhal; 1 tbsp. grated coconut; 1' stick cinnamon; 3 cloves; 1/2 tsp black peppercorns; 2 green chillies (my addition to the recipe). Keep aside until required.

Pressure cook the rice, dhal and mixed vegetables in double the quantity of water (6 cups) for 5 minutes.
Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. When smoking add mustard and curry leaves. Add baby onions and tomatoes and stir fry till tomatoes turn soft and onions transparent. Add the tamarind puree and salt to taste. Bring to the boil. Add rice, dhal and vegie mix and the ground masala. Bring to the boil again, maintaining a watery consistency (can add more water if required. Add salt to taste. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with fried cashewnuts. Serve hot with potato chips and a dollop of ghee.
PS: Can also use peanuts for a variation.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Utterly Butterly Delicious!

Another Chinese recipe that we all love is Sweet & Sour Prawns. Every Chinese restaurant in Bangalore has its own version and we enjoyed it whenever we dined out. So I was pleasantly surprised to find this familiar Chinese dish in Malaysia. Over the years I experimented with various recipes and came up with my own version of it. Quick and easy and absolutely a must for every milestone in this family.

The Recipe

3 tbsp. tomato sauce; 2 tbsp. chilli sauce; 2 tbsp. white rice vinegar ( can use less); 1 tbsp. light soya sauce or ½ tsp. soy sauce; 2 tbsp. brown sugar (can use more to taste); 1 tsp. salt; 100 ml water; cornflour for thickening.Mix together and keep ready.
16 jumbo prawns,deveined and washed. Drain. Coat with cornflour pepper and salt and deep fry till colour changes. Keep aside.
1 tbsp. chopped garlic; 1 tsp. green chillies, minced; 1 tsp. chopped ginger; 1 tbsp. chopped spring onions.
Fry garlic, chillies, ginger and spring onions till fragrant in a little oil. Add the sauce ingredients. Bring to boil. Add prawns and thicken with 1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 1/2 cup water if required. Garnish with thinly sliced cucumber and tomato wedges, corriander leaves or spring onions. I cannot make up my mind which is better. You decide.
PS: Goes well with fried rice.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

BBQ Night

Whatever Next? Sally's Amazing Kababs

My oven blew up last week and I was wondering what to do as we had planned an impromptu party for Nehru’s 55th birthday. I had even decided to bake two very unusual cakes, the recipes having being sent by my lifelong friend Rosemarie Monteiro ( nee Rodrigues). Both of us do nothing but email recipes throughout the year and this has helped us to keep in touch over the years. Serita & Ranita stepped in and decided to make a cheesecake and have a BBQ. That’s the bonus of having daughters who like to cook and also daughters friends namely Sally who makes delicous kababs effortlessly. All I did was marinade the meat. The guests were invited and the menu planned and hey presto, we had an outdoor banquet fit for a king.
The Menu:
1. BBQ Chicken
2. BBQ Fish
3. Beef Kebabs
4. Tomato Pineapple Salad
5. Ghee Rice
6. Garlic Bread
7. BBQ Capsicums & Potatoes
8. Pineapple Cheesecake made by Ranita
9. Ice cream (3 Varieties, bought from the supermarket)
10. Chocolate Truffles made by Serita
11. Mango Pudding , courtesy Vicky & Joyce

The Recipe:

1 kg mince; salt and pepper to taste; 3 onions minced fine; 3 green chillies minced fine; 1tbsp ginger garlic paste; small bunch of parsley chopped fine; 1 tbsp. cooking oil. Mix all ingredients together.

12 wooden skewers or chop sticks. Soak the skewers in water the previous night to prevent them catching fire when placed on the grill.

Divide the mince into portions and press around skewers carefully. Grill 5 minutes on coals until ready to eat. Can baste with oil if required. Serve hot with wedges of lime. Makes a great starter and usually eaten in a jiffy.

Friday, February 26, 2010


I was in the seventh heaven a few years ago when my recipe was added to Recipe4Living. Here is the email I received

Dear Ruth,

Congratulations! Your recipe has been added to Recipe4Living's
database of more than 10,000 recipes. Our website continues to grow
and expand thanks to involved readers like you. We encourage you to
submit more of your favorite recipes as often as you like.

You can view your recipe submission at:

Thanks again for your submission and Happy Cooking!

Maxine Glass

For those of you who want to try it out, here it is

The Recipe:

2 cups milk
2 eggs
Salt to taste
1 onion
1 tomato
1 boiled, mashed carrot
1 green chili
1 lb. stale bread
2 Tbs. chopped coriander leaves
3/4 tsp. baking powder
Blend all ingredients together except coriander and baking powder. Add coriander leaves and baking powder. Mixture should be like pancake batter pouring consistency. Heat a nonstick pan and grease with oil if desired. Pour spoonfuls to make fluffy tasty pancakes that children love. Serve with any dish that has gravy (like curry), stew or with grated cheese. Can substitute carrots with vegetable of choice like turnip, capsicum, peas and so on.

From: Ruth Isaac, Kuala Lumpur

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gong Xi Fa Chai

Happy New Year

Our first experience of this festival in Malaysia was an unforgettable one. For the Chinese, the most important festival is Chinese New Year, which falls in either January or February. It is ushered in with the lighting of fire crackers at midnight on the eve of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. Preparations begin long before the celebration. Traditional food, new clothes, a spotless and beautiful house are a must to welcome the New Year.
Many traditional dishes include ingredients that have special meaning. The symbolic significance of foods is based on appearance and also the sounds of the food pronounced in Chinese words (Mandarin or dialect). For example fish, should be a whole fish, to represent togetherness and abundance; a chicken presented with a head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness and prosperity; Uncut noodles represent long life.
One of the rituals I really enjoyed, was the tossing of the colourful Yee Sang before the start of the festive meal.
Yee Sang, a symbol of prosperity and abundance, originated in Chaozhou where simple ingredients were used, like fresh raw fish, strips of turnips and carrots that go well with a sauce made of oil, vinegar and sugar. The ingredients can be changed to reflect one's personal creativity and preference.

The Recipe
Vegetarian Yee Sang
50 gms white radish, shredded; 50 gms carrot, shredded;50 gms raw mango,grated;
25 gms spring onion, cut fine; 1 red chilli, minced; 25 gms raw papaya, grated; 3 leeks , sliced fine; 50 gms pomelo, peeled with pith removed; 2 kaffir lime leaves, cut very fine; 2 tbsp wonton wrappers fried crisp, crushed; 50 gms sweet potato grated and fried crisp; 25 gms sesame seeds, toasted;35gms toasted ground nut seeds, coarsely crushed.
NB: I used diamond cuts since I had just made some.
Arrange the shredded ingredients attractively on a big, round serving platter.

150 gms plum sauce;1/2 tbsp. apricot jam;1 1/2 tbsp lime juice;1 1/2 tbsp. honey; 1/2 tbsp crushed sesame seeds; 1 tsp. sesame oil; salt to taste; 5gms 5 spice powder in a red packet.
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a low simmering boil. Leave aside to cool completely before use.

If you don't have plum sauce, use plum jam. Be creative. You'll be surprised with the end result.

To serve, pour the sauce over the yee sang and sprinkle the with five-spice powder.
Add a sprinkling of sesame seeds and roasted peanuts.

Traditionally everyone gathers around the table to toss the salad, as high as possible, while uttering good wishes.

Char Siew/Roast Barbecued Pork

"Char siu" literally means "fork burn/roast"( after the traditional cooking method for the dish: long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire. This is one of the most delectable creations of Chinese Cuisine and can be eaten plain, as a snack with rice or bread, the list is endless. Traditionally, it’s marinated in a mixture of honey, five spice powder, soy and/or hoisin sauce.

600 gms pork cut into thick strips
Seasoning Ingredients: 4 tbsp. sugar, 1 tbsp. thick soya sauce, 1 tbsp. maltose mixed with 2 ½ tbsp. hot water to dissolve maltose, ¼ tsp. red colouring ( optional); salt to taste.

Rinse the meat and pat dry with paper towel. Marinade with seasoning ingredients for 5 hours or overnight. Grill 15 minutes each side at 175 C or 350 F till done pouring the marinade over the meat before grilling.
Can be used for sandwiches, noodles, fried rice or as a snack.

Five Spice Powder

Five-spice powder encompasses all five flavors - sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty and a must to flavor meat and poultry dishes in Chinese cooking. It's easy to make your own.

2 tbsp black peppercorns (supposed to use Szechuan peppercorns), 3 star anise;2 tsp fennel seeds (somph); Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces; 6 whole cloves.
Toast peppercorns over medium heat in a small dry pan until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Shake pan often to prevent burning. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat toasting process separately with star anise ,fennel seeds, cinnamon, and cloves.

Blend the toasted spices to a fine powder. Allow to rest in the grinder for 1 minute, then transfer to a glass container and tighten lid. Store in a cool, dark place up to one month. Use sparingly as quite pungent.

Yield: about 1/4 cup

Let's welcome the Year of the Tiger!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

All About Apricots

Apricot Nut Squares
I am a fan of any recipe with apricots and this easy to bake cake is no exception. Some years ago when a vegetarian friend invited herself over, I was wondering what to give her. Thank goodness for the internet. Within minutes I had cut and pasted a few variations of vegetarian cakes and since I love apricots replaced the dried fruits with apricots. It was a hit and still is with everyone who tastes it.

The Recipe
15 dried apricots; 3/4 cup milk;125 gms sugar; 250gms flour; 125gms butter;1/2 tsp baking powder; 1/2 tsp baking soda; 1 tbsp nuts.
Soak the apricots in warm milk overnight. Remove the seeds. Crack and reserve the kernels for decoration. Add sugar and blend to a smooth paste along with the milk in which it is soaked in. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add butter and gently stir.
Sieve together flour, baking soda and baking powder. Gently fold in the flour,one table spoon at a time. Add the nuts and mix. Scatter apricot kernels on top.
Preheat the oven at 350F. Bake in a greased, square pan( 8") for 35-40min (or till a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean). Cut into 16 squares and serve with tea or coffee.
This cake has a wonderful aroma and your mouth will water as the cake begins to bake. Mmmmm.....

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tasty Toast

Garlic Buns

The first time we ate garlic bread was a wonderful experience for all of us. Our hostess had transformed stale bread into a gourmet’s delight and we became addicted to it once I learnt how to make it. It is delicious with soup, as a snack or with a salad and roast chicken. Also great to whet your appetite. Any kind of bread is great for garlic bread and it can be whipped up in a jiffy.
The Recipe
4 buns, cut in half; 4 tbsp. butter, softened; 1 flake garlic peeled and crushed; 1/8 tsp. mixed Herbs.
Mix the garlic, butter and herbs. Spread on the cut buns. Toast or grill in oven 450C/230F /9Gas Mark for 1 minute each side or till golden brown. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Top grated cheese for a richer variation if desired. Serve hot with soup or as a snack.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dessert To Die For

Orange Cheese Cake

Cheese cake seemed like something out of a dream. I would look at all those delectable pictures in glossy magazines and wonder how anyone could create something so perfectly beautiful. Whenever I came across a cake shop I would gaze in wonder at the various cakes and collected endless files of recipes. I decided to try my luck when I bought a spring form pan and I still remember the first cheesecake I made…chilled lemon cheesecake…It turned out fine (no body died of food poisoning) and since then I’ve experimented with different fruits. The best part about this cheesecake is that it does not need to be baked. Chill it and enjoy.
The Recipe
1 cup marie biscuit crumbs; 60 gms melted,butter. Mix together and press into base of 22 cm. spring form pan. Keep in freezer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl, beat 250 gms cream cheese at room temperature; 1/2 cup curds; 1 1/2 tsp. gelatine dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water; 1/2 tbsp. orange rind; 1/8 cup orange juice; 3/4 cup caster sugar with electric beaters until well combined. Gently stir in 1/2 cup of peeled orange segments. Pour mixture onto chilled crumb base. Refrigerate for 30 to 40 minutes and decorate with whole orange segments. Chill in refrigerator overnight. To unmould,gently insert a knife dipped in water all round the edge of the cheesecake. Place the base of the pan on your left hand and lift the adjustable ring of the pan up. Transfer to cake stand. Slice and serve.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Anniversary Menu

When Nehru gave me a book on Chinese cookery twenty five years ago, I was very excited. Chinese food was available in restaurants only and our Chinese culinary expertise limited to noodles and fried rice. Today, although I say so myself, I am quite adept at cooking up a fancy Chinese menu. Through the years, Chinese cuisine has ruled our roost and every anniversary was a chance to try out something new. This year, 9th January 2010, is no exception. And so I give you some of my favourite Chinese recipes – Sweet & Sour Pork and Glass Noodles along with a family dessert, the timeless fruit salad. Try eating with chopsticks to make it a gastronomic adventure indeed.To us and ours!
The Recipe

Glass Noodles with Chicken and Scrambled Egg

250 gms. glass noodles Stand in boiling water for minutes. Drain and keep aside), 1 cup peas, 1 egg omelette cut into strips, 6 chicken sausages cooked and cut into rounds, 1 soup cube, 3 cloves minced garlic, ½ inch minced ginger, soya sauce(optional), salt to taste.
Heat 3 tbsp. oil in wok. When hot add ginger - garlic and fry for one minute. Add the peas and soup cube and stir fry for 3 minutes. Next add the noodles, lower flame and mix gently. Add the sausage. Mix well. Adjust salt to taste. Keep on fire till hot. Transfer to serving dish. Add soya sauce and garnish with omlettte strips.
Sweet & Sour Pork

Sauce: 3 tbsp. tomato sauce; 2 tbsp. chilli sauce; 2 tbsp. white rice vinegar ( can use less); 1 tbsp. light soya sauce or ½ tsp. soy sauce; 2 tbsp. sugar; salt to taste; 100 ml water; 1tbsp.cornflour for thickening. Mix sauce ingredients together and keep aside.
1 capsicum cubed.
1/4 kg pork, cubed (medium sized pieces). Marinade 10 minutes in 2 tbsp cornflour, 1 egg, salt and pepper and deep fry till golden brown. Keep aside.

1 tbsp. chopped garlic; 1 tsp. green chillies, minced; 1 tsp. chopped ginger; 1 tbsp. chopped spring onions.

Fry garlic, chillies, ginger and spring onions till fragrant in a little oil. Add the sauce ingredients. Bring to boil. Add pork and capsicum. Garnish with corriander leaves. Serve hot.
Fruit Salad

This is my Mum's recipe acquired from her mum and I daresay she got it from her mum too. Fruit salad was a great favourite at large gatherings since all one had to do was peel/cut/chop the fruits and throw in all the ingredients. The mint leaves are my addition and I must say they make the difference to a very colourful dish.

Silver Jubilee Fruit Salad
1 apple, cubed, 2 oranges, segmented and pith removed, 1 mango cubed, 1 pear, cubed, 3 bananas sliced, a handful grapes, halved, sugar to taste, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 1 cup milk.

Add cut fruits and essence to milk and keep in refrigerator till chilled. Garnish with mint leaves and serve cold with or without icecream.