Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Night Of The Year

Brandied Apricot Cake

Once again, it's the end of the year and it's so hard to believe that 2011 is coming to an end. Lots of excitement, resolutions to make,shopping and last minute menus for numerous parties. One favourite recipe comes to my mind at this time of the year. My grandmother and Mother would always have stewed apricots for us children to eat after the midnight service or for lunch on New Year's day. This time I made a Brandied Apricot Cake because I always have brandied apricots in a bottle on my kitchen shelf and also because the last day of the year deserves something extra special. Brandied Apricots are delicious in cakes and also to eat on their own. The cake is moist, crumbly and absolutely scrumptious!

The Recipe

1/2 cup salted butter; 1 cup brown sugar; 1 1/2 cups flour; 2 large eggs; 1 tsp baking powder; 1/4 kg dried Indian apricots ; 1 cup brandy; 1 tsp vanilla essence.

Soak apricots in the brandy in an airtight bottle for a week. Drain and chop apricots into small pieces. Crack the nuts, extract the kernels and chop them too. Reserve brandy for other recipes. Sieve flour and baking powder together. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add all the ingredients and mix well until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Transfer to greased and line 9 inches x 9 inches cake pan. Bake in preheated oven at 120 C for forty minutes or until skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool, slice and serve with wine after the midnight service and welcome the New Year. A Prosperous 2012 to all my friends and family all over the world. Cheers!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Time To Bond

Savoury Kal Kals

Kal Kals, Rose Cookies And Diamond Cuts

Christmas is a time for bonding and Kal Kals, Rose Cookies And Diamond Cuts provide ample opportunity to do so. As children, all of us were roped in for the making of these whether we liked it or not. We were each given a large, steel tray and a fork and the whole family would sit together to make Kal Kals. This was the time we talked, joked, fought and competed with each other to be the best. While making Rose Cookies each of us had to take turns dipping the moulds in oil and frying them ably supervised by my Mum. When it came to Diamond Cuts, one would roll out the dough, another would cut them into diamond shapes and the third would fry the delicious spicy offerings. Many hands make light work and it is no wonder huge amounts of eats would be ready in minutes.

Dare to be different and make these Savoury Kal Kals. Guaranteed to please.

The Recipe

1/2 kg refined flour; 50 gms salted butter; 1 tbsp ground ginger garlic green chilli paste; 1/2 tsp baking powder; water for mixing.
Sieve the flour and baking powder together and place in large mixing bowl. Stir in the butter, egg, essence and mix well. Add enough water to form a soft, pliable dough. Knead for 10 minutes. Make small marble sized balls and press each one flat on a fork (see photograph) and roll into Kal Kals. Arrange on flat tray sprinkled with flour to prevent Kal Kals from sticking. Heat oil and fry in three or four batches until the Kal Kals rise to the surface and are golden brown. Drain and cool.

Sugared Kal Kals

The Recipe

1/2 kg refined flour; 50 gms salted butter; 1 egg;1 tsp vanilla essence 1/2 tsp baking powder; water for mixing. Vegetarians can leave out the egg. 1 litre oil for frying.

Sieve the flour and baking powder together and place in large mixing bowl. Stir in the butter, egg, essence and mix well. Add enough water to form a soft, pliable dough. Knead for 10 minutes. Make small marble sized balls and press each one flat on a fork (see photograph) and roll into Kal Kals. Arrange on flat tray sprinkled with flour to prevent Kal Kals from sticking. Heat oil and fry in three or four batches until the Kal Kals rise to the surface and are golden brown. Drain and cool. Next day sugar them.

For Sugaring: 200 gms sugar; 2 tbsp water.

Boil together in heavy bottomed pan to a one string consistency. Add the Kal Kals and give it a good whirl. Transfer to tray lined with baking paper and cool. Store in airtight containers.

Diamond Cuts

The Recipe

1/2 kg refined flour; 50 gms salted butter; 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste; 1 tsp jeera seeds; 1/2 tsp pepper powder; 1/2 tsp baking powder; water for mixing; 1 litre oil for frying.

Sieve the flour and baking powder together and place in large mixing bowl. Stir in the butter, pepper powder, jeera seeds, ginger garlic paste and mix well. Add enough water to form a soft, pliable dough. Knead for 10 minutes. Divide dough into five portions and roll each one into a thin chappathi. Cut into strips diagonally and then cut each strip into diamonds. Place on trays sprinkled with flour. Heat oil and fry in three or four batches until golden brown. Coll and store in airtight containers. This is one of my favourites and well worth the effort spent.

Rose Cookies This is another favourite and nothing beats the home made ones.

The Recipe

1 cup refined flour; 1 egg; sugar to taste (it can be as sweet as you like); few drops vanilla essence; 1 litre oil for frying.

To Season Rose Cookie Moulds: wash in soap and water. Dry well. Soak in the 1 litre oil for 1 week.

Mix the above ingredients except the oil to a dosai batter consistency. Heat the Rose Cookie moulds in the oil. Dip the moulds in batter and fry the cookies till they slip off the moulds , a lovely golden brown. Cool and store in air tight containers. Happy eating and may you all be blessed.

His & Hers

Sugared Cashew Nuts

Sugared Cashew Nuts remind me of my grandmother (the late Wilhelmina Soans nee Tholar). Every Christmas she would meticulously pack a large box of home made and bought goodies and mail to her grandchildren in various parts of South India. Christmas for me is synonymous with Sugared Cashewnuts and everything nice. However, my dear spouse prefers the spicy version, so I always make some for him so that I can eat the sugard nuts all by myself!

The Recipe

1/2 kg Cashew Nuts; 1/2 cup sugar; few drops food colouring of your choice- I used Red; 2 tbsp water.

Warm Cashew Nuts in the oven at 100 C for 10 minutes. Cool completely. Place the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. This happens in a few minutes, so be very careful to avoid burning. When sugar has completely dissolved and is of a one thread consistency add the food colouting and give it a quick whirl. Add the Cashew Nuts and mix well. Tumble on to a tray lined with baking paper and cool completely. Store in airtight containers. Absolutely irresistible!

For Masala Cashew Nuts visit my earlier blog entry

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Sweet Obcession

Spanish Macaroons

I love reading and cookery books top the list. I would browse through any book, anywhere and jot down ideas and recipes everywhere. Over the years I have built up an awesome collection of recipes and imagine my delight when I found this tattered book in a second hand shop full of traditional recipes. I was elated to find a range of different kinds of Macaroons and have been trying out a few every year. Macaroons have their special charm. You place them on a baking tray and watch them take their own shape, spreading in every direction as if to express their individuality. None of the stereotyped, mass produced, tube squished macaroons for me. This Christmas I chose to make Spanish Macaroons, a delicate blend of orange peel and almonds with a wonderful aroma. Breathe in the delicious fragrance before you indulge in my sweet obcession.

The Recipe

1 cup flaked almonds; 250 gms powdered sugar sugar; rind of 1 orange; ¼ tsp. almond essence; 1 egg white (large).

Mix all ingredients except egg together. Add egg white slowly. Mix to dough consistency. Form into walnut sized balls. Arrange on lined tray, leaving space in between for spreading. Bake in preheated oven at 140C for 15 minutes or till done.

I also baked Designer Macaroons which are the traditional Mangalore Macaroon Recipe with almond flakes and a dash of red. Looks exotic and a sure party pleaser.

Visit for the recipe.

Indulge your passion for baking & May You Have A Blessed Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Melting Moments

Christmas Ladoos

This recipe takes me down memory long forgotten Deepavalli celebrations in neighbours houses and trays of homemade goodies delivered to our house by well wishers and friends. My mother always made sooji ladoos for Christmas and our neighbour Kala’s mum would send these gorgeous melting moments. You can never have enough of them. Cheers Kala wherever you are and in memory of bygone days and childhood friends!

The Recipe

Roasted Gram Dal 1/2 kg
Sugar-1/4 kg
Hot Ghee-100 ml
Black raisins 2 tbsp; 1/4 tsp cardamom powder; red food colouring powder- a pinch.

Blend the dhal & sugar together until fine. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add the cardamom and cashew kernels and mix well. Pour in the hot ghee very slowly and mix to form a loose dough (when you press it in your palm should come together and at the same time break easily). Form into ladoos and arrange on a plate. And continuing with my theme of A Red Christmas sprinkle with red food colouring for that subtle difference. Store in an airtight container. Strictly no sampling.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Steamed Ginger Pineapple Rice

Of Bits & Pieces

Steamed ginger pineapple rice, a perfect use for leftover rice, makes a delicious side dish for shrimp, pork, or chicken. The aroma makes your mouth water and it's amazing how such a simple dish is packed with loads of flavour. Best of all with Christmas in the air, you can throw in any of the remnants from numerous dinners and leftover meals to make a delectable, satisfying dish. Serve plain or with grilled chicken and a curd salad.

The Recipe

2 cups left over rice; 1 large onion sliced fine; 2 inch piece of ginger, minced; 1/2 inch galangal ( Malaysian aromatic ginger), minced; a few spring onions, cut very fine; 1 cup pineapple cubes, completely drained; salt to taste; 2 tbsp olive oil.

Saute onions and gingers till nice smell arises. Add the rice and stir fry gently till dry. Gently stir in the pineapple cubes and mix well, keeping a few for garnishing. Add the spring onions and salt. Give it a quick toss and serve piping hot. Can easily make from scratch for a large party in which case, cook the rice overnight and dry on a flat tray in the refrigerator. Next day follow the above instructions and voila, you have a piece de resistance for your guests!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Seasonal Prelude

A Red Christmas
Christmas is coming and excitement is in the air. The earth is blessed and all because of a baby boy born in Bethlehem many years ago. While we begin to shop for gifts, sing carols and plan our Christmas menu, let us remember the true meaning of Christmas and relect on that glorious message "Peace on Earth and Goodwill To All Men!"

My theme this year is "the colour red", so am making only red eats. Today am including two recipes. The Red Velvet Recipe is Serita's and I have changed it into Red Velvet Fruit Cake and also included a recipe for Designer Coffee Brownies made by Ranita who is fast mastering the art of baking. Her brownies are delicious and there's always someone waiting to devour them or pack them up and take them home. The same goes for the Red Velvet Cake. It looks beautiful and you can't help admiring it before you pop it into your mouth!

Red Velvet Fruit Cake

The Recipe : 200 gms each of flour, caster sugar, green tuitti fruitti, black currants, black raisins, green cherries, white preserved pumpkin and broken nuts, 4 eggs, 250 gms salted butter, 1 tsp. mixed spice powder, ½ tsp. baking powder, 2 tbsp light cocoa powder, 1tsp vanilla, 4 tbsp brandy/rum (optional), 25 ml red food colouring . 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, cocoa, spice powder and baking powder into large bowl. Add rest of the ingredients and stir till smooth and glossy. Batter must be a beautiful, rich, dark red. Bake at 150 C for 40 or 45 minutes or untill skewer inserted in centre comes out clean .
Admire their colour and enjoy eating them.

Ranita's Designer Brownies

The Recipe:

250 gms salted butter; 250 gms dark chocolate, chopped; 3 tbsp nescafe (instant coffee) dissolved in 1/8 cup of hot water; 1 cup brown sugar; 4 eggs lightly beaten; 2 tsp vanilla essence; 1 cup self raising flour; 2/3 cup chopped nuts.

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease and line a 12" by 6 inch rectangular baking tray.

Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Add coffee and sugar and stir until sugar has almost dissolved. Remove from heat and keep aside. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Fold in the flour and nuts. Bake for 25 minutes or until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in tin and cut into tiny squares. Sprinkle a some instant coffee over the squares and serve as a dessert. Since these brownies are so rich, we skip the topping. Those who have a very sweet tooth can drizzle coffee butter icing or melted chocolate over the cubes. Watch out how many you eat!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Palate Pleaser

Masala Eggs

This is really a palate pleaser . You keep popping them into your mouth and can easily finish a whole platter. That's what I noticed whenever I served them at dinner parties or as a snack to hungry kids. You can never have enough of them. Best of all, this is one easy recipe that suits any occasion. Bring them on!

The Recipe:

6 eggs; 1 tsp curry powder; 1 tsp oil; salt to taste; corriander leaves for decoration.

Boil eggs for 10 minutes. Place in cold water for another ten minutes until cooled. Boil and shell them. Heat oil in a pan and add the salt and curry powder. Turn off the heat immediately and pour over the eggs. Serve at once.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Malaysian Dosai

Roti Jala

This has to be one of the most fascinating things I have learnt in Malaysia. The first time I saw it being made, I was intrigued and decided to try it out at home. Roti Jala means "bread net" and the finished product beautiful and delicate; it is hard to eat such a creative endeavour. Like a dosai, it is yellow, very thin and barely a mouthful, made using a mould ( metal or plastic) that could be bought at the store or made at home using an empty tin or unused plastic cup(just ask your husband to bore holes in the base for the batter to flow through). Children love it and so do adults. Definitely a favourite in our household.

The Recipe
1 cup maida; 1 cup coconut milk; 1/2 cup water; 1 egg; salt to taste; 1/4 tsp haldi; 1 tsp rice flour (this is my secret ingredient for crispiness).

Beat all ingredients together with a wire whisk until a thin, smooth batter is formed. Grease and heat the dosai tawa. Pour a spoonful of the batter into the mould and quickly move the cup over the tawa allowing the batter to drip and form a lovely net pattern. When set (one or two minutes), transfer to plate and gently fold into triangles or rolls. Serve hot with fish or chicken curry. I prefer the chicken.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Delectable Date

Date And Almond Cake

When the phone suddenly rang late one night, my heart started hammering. Who could it be? I passed the phone to Nehru and it turned out to be his friend who would be visiting Malaysia with his family. I heaved a sigh of relief and forgot all about it. When they arrived, they gave us some delectable date honey. Was wondering what to do with it when I came across an old, old recipe that I had not made for some time. Made a few changes and the cake turned out, moist, aromatic and absolutely delectable. Let the recipe speak for itself.

The Recipe

1/2 cup milk; 1 cup date honey; 1 cup maida/flour; 1/2 cup salted butter; 1 tsp baking soda; few almond flakes to scatter on top; 1tbsp.almond nibs for mixing in cake.

Beat the milk and date honey together. Add butter and mix. to a smooth consistency. Sieve flour and baking powder.Gently fold in the flour, 1 tbsp at a time. Stir in the almond nibs. Scatter almond flakes on top.Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the cake in a greased and lined 8 '' square pan for 35-40min (or till a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean). Serve for tea or as a mid morning snack. A Delectable Date indeed!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One For The Gals

Ranita's Choice

Ranita and I had a delicious time last month when Nehru went to Bangalore for a wedding. A lazy and relaxing week. Since we both love bread, we had it for every meal and threw in some simple recipes to accompany it. Got an early Deepavalli gift from dear Vicki in the form of luscious seafood and decided to indulge our laziness (translated to mean a super quick recipe). I can't believe we polished off the whole lot.

The Recipe
28 giant prawns, shelled, deveined, washed and ready for cooking; 1 green capsicum, cubed for garnish; 1/8 cup chicken stock; 1 tbsp light soya sauce; 1/4 tsp white pepper; 1 tbsp oil.

Marinade the prawns for 15 minutes in the stock, soya sauce, pepper and oil. Heat a non stick frying pan until smoking and throw in the prawns, marinade and all. Cook on high heat for 2 minutes only and add in the capsicum. Stir fry for a minute until the capsicum is glazed and crunchy and the prawns turn pink. Serve immediately with toasted bread and butter. Relax and watch a movie. Burp!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Stuffed Snakegourd

Minced Meat Cutlets

As children, when my mother made these delicious morsels, we would quickly eat the mince and leave the green rings. Any vegetable was taboo and snake gourd was our bete noire. As we grew older, we actually managed to eat the "green things" and liked it. My children did the same and I guess we all have to go through this process. Today cutlets are a prized item on our menu and my sister in law Joyce is the Queen of Cutlets.

The Recipe

1 snakegourd, cut into 1 inch thick rings. Wash & boil the snake gourd rings in salted water for a minute. Use just enough water to cover the rings. Plunge into cold water and drain. Keep aside.

2 medium boiled potatoes, mashed; 1 egg; 1 cup breadcrumbs; oil for shallow frying.

1/4 kg minced meat; 1 onion, minced; 2 tbsp ginger - garlic paste; 2 green chillies; a few corriander leaves, chopped; 2 spring onions, minced; salt to taste.
Cook all the ingredients together till the water evaporates. Cool for 5 minutes. Add the raw egg and the mashed potatoes and mix well. Form into medium sized balls. Place a snakegourd ring on your left palm, stuff with the mince balls, roll in breadcrumbs and keep on plate. Repeat with all rings. Shallow fry in hot oil on both sides, drain on kitchen paper and serve hot for tea with tomato sauce or for dinner with dhal & white rice. Guaranteed to please any palate!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall For Falooda


I fell for this the moment I had it and so began a love affair that has lasted all my life. My nieces had a craze for it some time ago and would hover around the kitchen until it was served. We introduced it to my girls successfully and enjoy it whenever we can. Faloodah is popular all over Asia and served in different ways. An adaptation of a Persian dessert, it was probably popularised by the Mughals. Call it whatever you want and make it any which way you like - falooda, faloodeh, faluda , bubble tea, nam manglak, with vermicelli, sev, noodles or tapioca pearls, this Indian Dessert has fast become everybody's favourite.

The Recipe

2 tbsp angel hair pasta; 1 cup cold milk; 2 tsp rose water; 1/4 cup red jelly (follow instructions on packet and reserve left over for the family to eat); 1 tsp sabza (basil seeds); 2 tbsp MTR Badam Mix; sprigs of mint for garnish.

To Serve: 2 Tall glasses

Boil the pasta is a large pan of water for 15 minutes until done. Drain under running water and keep aside. Clean and soak the sabza in 500 ml water for half an hour. Drain just before use in a strainer. Mix the milk, MTR Badam Mix and rose water together. Chill in refrigerator. Make sure the jelly is cold and wobbly.

To Assemble: Divide ingredients equally between the two tall glasses and start with the jelly, followed by the angel hair pasta, sabza and cold milk. Give it a swirl with a cocktail stick and garnish with nuts (optional)and a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mussel Up

Anu's Spicy,Stirfried Clams

Back to Bangalore for long forgotten favourites and wonderful memories. This is one recipe that we all adore. My Aunt Shobha used to pamper us as kids and cook this for us whenever we visited and even packed up containers of it to take back with us. On my visit to Bangalore last month , my sister saw some mussels in the market and bought a whole lot home. We couldn't wait for it to get ready and finished it while watching Masterchef. Please may I have some more?

The Recipe

1 kg shelled mussels, clean, wash & drain. By clean I mean remove the black beard; pinch turmeric; 4 sliced onions;1 bunch spring onions, chopped; 1 tbsp ginger-garlic, minced; 1 tsp chilli powder or curry powder to taste; a large bunch corriander leaves for garnish; large sprig curry leaves for seasoning; 3 tbsp cooking oil; 1/2 cup water; salt to taste.

Heat oil in a large, flat bottomed non stick pan. When hot, add the curry leaves and stir fry a minute. Add the sliced onions & chopped spring onions and fry on a medium flame till onions are caramelised and still edible (avoid burning them). Add the ginger-garlic and cook till a wonderful aroma arises and the household makes a beeline to the kitchen. Stir in the chilli powder or curry powder and turmeric and gently fry for a few minutes. Put the mussels in and keep tossing until coated with oil and well fried. Add water, salt to taste and cover and cook till dry and ready for the table. Stir in the chopped corriander leaves, test for taste and serve hot with rice & dhal or warm crusty bread. Absolutely delicious and I am drooling while writing this.

Monday, September 5, 2011

By the Light Of The Moon

Snowskin Mooncake

Soon after we moved to Kuala Lumpur, a local friend invited us over to her house for the Mooncake Festival and I was quite thrilled. That was the time when my girls were small and the luxury of a meal cooked and served by someone else was very welcome. Imagine my surprise when what I assumed turned out to be an Ode to the Moon where we sat in the garden, looked at the full moon, sipped numerous cups of Chinese tea from dainty, delicate teacups smaller than my palm and enjoyed slice after slice of varieties of mooncakes. I have been a fan ever since and eventually learned to make them myself.
The Mooncake Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar calendar when the moon is at its brightest for the entire year. There are many legends about this ancient Festival. My favourite is the one about how the Chinese overthrew the Mongols in the 13th century by passing messages about the planned rebellion in mooncakes. The uprising was successful and Mooncakes earned their place in history. Today there are numerous kinds of mooncakes with different fillings. All are delicious and here is a recipe that can be eaten immediately.

The Recipe

Mooncakes have two layers. The outer layer is called the skin and the inner layer the filling. You get special moulds to make them. This time I used jelly moulds as I wanted to experiment.

For The Snowskin
50gms Koh fun (commercial fried glutinous rice flour. This is a special flour that comes from Hong Kong and available at any cake speciality shop.
35gms Icing sugar; 7.5 gms margarine; 60ml ice cold water.

150gms Pure Lotus Paste

To Make Snowskin
Sieve Koh Fun and Icing sugar into a mixing bowl.
Rub margarine into the flour mixture to resemble breadcrumbs.Add cold water a little by little until dough is soft and spongy in texture. Scale and weigh 15gms per portion for each mooncake. (According to the size of your mooncake mould.)

Scale and weigh 40gm per portion for each mooncake filling. (According to the size of your mooncake mould.)

To Assemble
Wrap each portion of filling with a portion of snow skin. Sprinkle a little koh fun flour in moulds. Press assembled balls into mooncake/jelly mould.
Knock out and chill before serving.

Makes seven. Next time I will make more.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Panna Cotta

A Dessert To Savour

There are some recipes you fall in love with the minute you taste it. This is one such recipe and since it is both easy and delicious, any excuse to make it is welcome and we have it pretty frequently at home. Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert that literally means cooked cream and is very rich, so I have come up with my own version using yoghurt in place of cream. A favourite with the young and adults Panna Cotta will add grace to your dinner table for any occasion.
The Recipe

3 tsps. gelatine, ¼ cup water, ½ cup caster sugar, 2/3 cups curds, 425 gms stewed apricots (Mummy’s recipe), Mint leaves to decorate(optional).

Sprinkle gelatine over water in small bowl. Stand in hot water and stir till dissolved.
Beat yoghurt and sugar with electric beater until sugar dissolves. Then add the gelatine and mix well. Spoon into 6 tall glasses or bowls. When half set add apricots. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold.

This was very, very unusual and delicious.

Asian Panna Cotta: Use a combination of cream & coconut milk, curds and tropical fruits like pineapple or mango or a combination of both.

Stewed Apricots

¼ 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 apricot s. Serve cold.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Birth Daze Classic

Nana's Tiger Prawns

With so many birthdays in the family and the obvious preference for Chinese food, we have been on a culinary safari these last two weeks. Hence decided to put up a Chinese recipe that has gourmet value for all lovers of Chinese food. Easy, quick and wickedly delicious to boot.
The Recipe
20 tiger prawns, cleaned with head and shell intact; 50 gms melted butter; 50 gms Minced garlic; 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper; salt to taste; coriander leaves for garnish.
Marinade the prawns with all the seasonings (butter, garlic, salt and pepper) for 15 minutes. Transfer to baking tray and grill for 5 minutes each side at 260 C or till pink. Remove and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve as an appetiser.
N.B. Can use crabs instead.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Serita's Birthday Treat

Simply Lasagna

The first time I heard of this dish I wondered what it was. Living in Malaysia has given me the opportunity to learn so much and hone my skills. When the girls were growing up, pasta was the in thing and so we had it every week. I even went to the extent of buying a pasta machine and made home made pasta regularly...gnocci, lasagna, tomato & spinach, spaghetti, fettuccini, cannelloni, farfelle, tortellini(this took me 4 long hours to make), ravioli, vermicelli, tagliatelli and a lot more varieties. In the beginning we could harly pronounce the names, but gradually we came to love these simple, satisfying meals and soon lasagna ruled the roost. Today is Serita's 24th birthday. So happy birthday girl, happy birthday. May you have many more and eat Lasagna in Italy one day!

The Recipe Serves Four
250 gms San Remo Large Instant Lasagna; 2 tbsp oil, 1 medium onion, chopped fine; 1 medium carrot, grated; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 1 stalk celery, minced; 1/2 kg chicken mince; 400gms tin tomato puree(I use Hunt's);2 chicken soup cubes; 2 cups hot water;salt & pepper to taste; pinch of Italian herbs; 2 tbsp butter; 2 tbsp plain flour; 2 cups low fat milk; 125 gms Cheddar cheese, grated.

Meat Sauce Heat oil in a saucepan. Add onion, carrot, garlic and celery and cook till soft on a medium fire. Add mince, cook till brown. Next, stir in the broken soup cubes, tomato puree, hot water,salt pepper and herbs. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until thick. Keep hot.

Cheese Sauce Melt butter in a seperate pan, stir in flour and cook 2 minutes over gentle heat. Mixture should be pale and not brown. Remove from heat, stir in milk. Return to heat and gently stir until thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the grated cheese,reserving some for sprinkling on top of last layer, stirring all the time over low flame till cheese melts.

To Assemble Preheat oven to 180 Centigrade. Pour 1/2 cup of meat sauce into greased baking dish. Alternate layers of lasagna, meat and cheese sauces ending with a cheese sauce layer. (You get 4 layers usually).Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese and bake in oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until cooked through. Test if cooked by pricking with a fork or skewer. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving with a delicious salad or on its own. Guaranteed to vanish in one sitting.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Eat For Success

Dream Dessert Shake

Seeing the array of tempting, irresistible confections around me, I felt the urgent need for something sweet, healthy and absolutely appetising. Something that I would have no qualms about having again and again. Something that I could indulge in whenever I needed my sweet fix. So I experimented with various things and came up with the following. I love it and look forward to having it again and yet again.

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. Blend with 2 cubes ice and keep ready.

1/2 avacado cubed; 1/8 cup sago boiled until transparent; 1/4 cup papaya, cubed; 2 slices starfruit for garnishing; tall glass for serving.

Place the papaya, sago and avacado in three layers in the glass. Pour the cold shaker over and garnish with starfruit. Serve with a long spoon and eat it slowly, savouring every, delicious mouthful!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yvette's Spicy Sausage Rice


Have been really busy of late and have been neglecting my blog. Yesterday, a friend asked me when my next recipe would be put up and so here I am!

The Bangalore Ham Shop on M G road is a well known haunt for those who love quality pork products. As children, we loved going to the tiny, dingy shop with our parents to buy bacon, ham, sausages and other delicacies. The smell, the people queueing up and the strings of fat sausages were a source of excitement for us. Special occasions saw us make a beeline for those wonderful meat products. Today there are Bangalore Ham shops all over the city and to tell the truth I have never eaten sausages as good as those from this tiny shop with humble beginnings. Today’s recipe was served to us at an impromptu dinner at a friend’s house many, many years ago. While in Bangalore I made it very often. Once we shifted to Kuala Lumpur, I never really got to make it as often as we liked. Recently my daughter brought back a whole lot of Bangalore Ham Shop sausages on a visit to India and so we were able to indulge in one of our favourite recipes’s from long, long ago. Yvette, this one is for you and the many happy moments we shared in Bangalore before we parted ways and went to different corners of the world.
The Recipe:
Ghee Rice
1 cup basmathi rice; 2 cups hot water; 3 tbsp. ghee; 1 onion sliced; 1 tbsp minced ginger garlic.
Wash and drain rice. Fry onions & ginger-garlic in ghee till golden brown. Add rice and stir fry till transparent. Transfer to rice cooker, add hot water and salt to taste. Cook till done. Transfer to serving dish and keep hot.
For The Sausages: 1 kg Bangalore Ham Shop Sausages; 3 dried red chillies, broken; 1 tbsp whole pepper corns.
Boil sausages in just enough water to cover them, lower flame, remove cover and cook till water evaporates and all the excess fat comes out. Drain sausages and keep aside. Heat one tsp. oil in a large non-stick pan and stir fry the red chillies for a minute. Add the pepper corns and stir fry till they pop. Quickly add in the sausages and stir fry till brown. Pour over the ghee rice and serve hot with cucumber pachdi and tomato sauce.
Cucumber Pachdi: 1 small cucumber deseeded; 1 cup thick home made curds; dsalt to taste; 1 minced, green chilli; 1 onion, sliced; 1 small tomato, diced; salt to taste and coriander leaves for garnish. Mix all together and serve with the above.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hot Cross Buns

"One a Penny, Two a Penny Hot Cross Buns!"

This post is a little late, however if you are like me, you will surely love to have these delicious buns whenever you feel like it. And this post is for those who dare to bake Hot Cross Buns whenever they want! As far back as I can remember Hot Cross Buns have been part of our Lenten schedule and the highlight of our lives was the innumerable Hot Cross Buns made available to all the children (and parents) who attended the Children’s Service at St. Mark’s. The plummy buns were delicious, the aroma enticed every one and there was no one to count how many each ate and how many we took home.
Hot cross buns, are served on Good Friday to celebrate the resurrection following crucifixion on the cross., date back to the pre-Christian era and were first introduced to England by the Romans. They began being associated with Lent when in 1361, on Good Friday, a monk gave them to the poor people of St. Albans in Hertfordshire. He altered the traditional recipe by putting a cross made of dough mixture on the top of the bun. Hot cross buns came to be served on Good Friday and one would be saved as a good luck charm till next year.
Every year, we looked forward to this tradition and we must have our Hot Cross Buns, come what may.
The Recipe
4 cups wholemeal wheat flour; 8 tsp baking powder; salt to taste; 8 tbsp cold butter; 4 tbsp honey;2 tsp mixed spice; 1 cup black raisins; 2/3 cup milk; 2/3 cup sour buttermilk.

ICING: 1 cup icing sugar; 2 tbsp butter; 1/2 tsp vanilla icing. Mix to a smooth consistency and reserve for use later.

Mix wheat flour, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter as for pastry with a fork until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Gently add in honey, mixed spice and raisins. Make a well in the centre and add the milk and buttermilk. Stir quickly to form a ball in centre of the mixing bowl. Divide into 24 round portions. Flatten and using a knife scour a deep cross on each. Place on greased baking sheet two inches apart and bake at 210 C for 20 minutes or till done. When cool pipe reserved icing on the deep cross. Serve at once. Great for breakfast too. Warm in oven before use.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Of All Things Green

Green Chicken A La Ruth
Some time ago, while browsing in a second hand book shop I came across an ancient book with dog ears on the art of barbecue. It had no cover, so I do not know who the author was, but the recipes are absolutely brilliant and I spent an entire afternoon flipping through the pages and envisioning the various recipes. For some reason "Green Chicken" fasicnated me and I decided to make it at the first opportunity. I always add a twist of my own to every recipe, so although it turned out quite different from what it was supposed to be, the taste was fabulous and the empty plates a proof of this.

The Recipe

1 kg skinless chicken breasts, wash & drain.

For marinade: 1 medium sized onion, sliced; 4 flakes garlic, peeled; juice of 1/2 lemon; a handful of spring onions,corriander & mint leaves; black salt to taste; 2 green chillies and 1/2 tsp pepper powder or more to taste; 1/2 inch ginger & 1/4 cup grapefruit juice. Grind in mixer until smooth.

Marinade the cut & drained chicken overnight. Barbecue or grill for five minutes each side at 250 C till brown and done. Serve as starters or accompaniment to a meal. Goes well with garlic bread too.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mother's Secret Recipe

Ma’s Meat Balls & Masala Rice

Have been having an orgy of eating since my Mum came to KL and am making all our favourite recipes which I got from her in the first place. Meat balls and Masala Rice were one of our favourites and as children we had a great time picking out the meat balls, one by one until only the gravy and potatoes remained. My girls did the same, so I always made extra. Meat balls are a great combination with kichdi or with Masala Rice. When I’m lazy it’s kichdi and when I’m energetic it’s Masala Rice!
The Recipe
¾ kg mince, wash, drain & keep aside
Grind 3 green chillies; 1 ‘ ginger; 1 onion; 6 flakes garlic; few coriander leaves; 2 small pieces cinnamon; 2 cloves; ¼ tsp haldi; salt to taste. Mix with the mince. Keep aside.
Grind 8 red chillies; 10 pepper corns; 1 tsp jeera; 3 tsp coriander seeds; 1’ ginger; 2 flakes garlic; ¼ tsp haldi; 1” cinnamon; 2 cloves; 3 pinch mustard. Keep red masala ready for use.
Grind ¼ coconut and keep aside.
3 sliced onions; a few coriander leaves; juice of ½ a lime.
Fry coriander leaves and sliced onions golden brown. Add the red masala and fry well. Then add the ground coconut and 1 mug water to make a thick gravy. Cover and bring to the boil. Now roll the mince into small balls and drop them one by one into the gravy. Cover and keep on fire till done. Can also add peeled and cubed potatoes. Before removing add juice of one lime and salt to taste.
NB: Once the meat balls are added, do not use a spoon to stir the curry as the balls may break. Gently shake the dish from side to side to ensure even cooking.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Goan Sooji Cake

My Aunt Irene is reknowned for her culinary skills and a byword in the family when it comes to cuisine. Her visits during the annual school holidays every year were eagerly awaited as she would come armed with various recipes, the outcome of which we “ever hungry children” would eagerly await. One recipe which has become a household favourite is a simple, moist, eggless Goan sooji cake called Bhole. My mother made it quite often as all it needs is jaggery, coconut water, sooji, a few raisins and cashewnuts and lots of grated coconut. Pop it into the oven and you have a delicious tea time snack to satisfy the hungry hordes.
The Recipe
500 cups fine sooji; 250gms grated coconut; 250 gms jaggery or more to taste; 250 ml toddy or coconut water- add 1tbsp sugar to coconut water and keep in a sunny spot for 3 days ); 2 tbsp each of raisins and cashewnuts; 12 tbsp butter or ghee; ½ tsp mixed spice powder; ½ tsp somph- crushed .
1 tbsp cashewnuts for scattering on top.

Crush and soak the jiggery in the toddy or coconut water until dissolved. Grind coconut roughly. Mix with the sooji. Add all ingredients. Mix together and keep for 2 hours. Now add 1 tsp baking powder. The batter should be of cake consistency. If necessary add some more toddy or coconut water or plain water. Pour batter into greased and lined cake pan (8’x 8” square). Scatter remaining nuts on top. Bake in preheated oven at 150C until done or toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool, cut into wedges or squares and serve. This cake does not last long, so eat within 2 days.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mexican Haystack

Meal In A Dish

We all love food and this is a recipe I tried solely because of it's name. It sounded so appealing and intrigueing that it went on my list of must make recipes. Since it is a one pot meal, it's a great time saver, looks good and is economical to boot. Mexican Haystack is as delicious as it sounds and has become a hot favourite for spur of the moment parties.
The Recipe
3/4 cups crushed salt biscuits; 2 cups cooked rice; 500gms mince
1 large onion; chopped ½ cup tomato puree;1/4 cup water; seasoning to taste (chilli powder, chilli flakes, cayenne pepper, oregano, crushed garlic, jeera- powder, pepper powder); salt and pepper to taste; 1 cup shredded lettuce; 1 large tomato, diced; 1tbsp butter;1/8 cup maida; 1 cup milk; 1 soup cube.
50gms Amul Cheese; olives and corn chips.
Crush the salt biscuits and place at bottom of an oiled casserole dish. Spread rice on top. Cook mince,onion, tomato puree, seasoning with water until thick, simmering for 15-20 minutes. Spoon over rice. Sprinkle with lettuce and tomatoes.
Melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add milk and soup cube. Bring to a boil; cook until thick.. Reduce heat; stir in cheese until melted.
Pour over the tomatoes. Top with crushed corn chips, grated Amul cheese and olives. Serve as a one pot meal.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tiramisu Happiness

18th Birthday Special

My baby girl has grown up. Gone are the days when she coaxed me to bake dinosaurs, horses, cats and other such animal delectables. Nowadays it is Black forest, designer shoes, pocket money and the like. Her 18th birthday demanded something very special for a very special girl, so Serita & I went through many recipes before deciding on the one and only 18th birthday cake. Since all of us detest raw eggs it had to be an eggless Tiramisu and we finally found the Queen of all recipes. Serita is an adept cook and so I left it all to her. For once all I had to do was help finish the cake. Viva la Ranita. May you grow in grace & beauty and may you be a shining name.

The Recipe

1 tbsp Nescafe Classic
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup white Jamaican rum (optional)
1/4 cup whipped cream
2 Tbsp icing sugar
500 gms Mascarpone cheese
20 sponge finger biscuits
2 tbsp chocolate chips
cocoa powder, for garnish(Optional)

Dissolve instant coffee powder in hot water. Let cool. Stir in half of the rum and chill in fridge.
Beat cream and icing sugar mixture in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold in mascarpone and remaining rum.
Dip 10 of the sponge finger biscuits, one at a time, into the coffee mixture and arrange as a single layer on a 8 cm deep serving dish.
Spread half the cream mixture on top of the first layer of biscuits.
Dip remaining biscuits in coffee mixture, arrange over cream layer.
Spread remaining cream mixture on top of the second layer of biscuits.
Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for about 6 hours. Garnish with cocoa powder if desired.
(I did not). Used grated pink chocolate instead.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Irresistible Chinese New Year Cookies

Green Peas Cookies

This Chinese New Year my attention was drawn to the pretty green cookies that resemble jade and as I have tasted them before decided to put up the recipe on my blog. They are absolutely irresistible and seldom last more than two days. Try it and see for yourself.

The Recipe:

250 gms wheat flour
250 gms green peas (buy the fried green peas used for snacks). Remove skin and grind to a powder in the mixer adding salt if needed only);150 gms icing sugar
150 ml corn oil
In a big mixing bowl, add the flour, ground green peas and icing sugar. Mix well with hands, to ensure a smooth dough without lumps. Add oil and knead well to combine the ingredients properly. Dough should not break or crumble easily. Add more oil if it does. Break off marble sized balls and shape into rounds. Beat an egg yolk and brush lightly on top (I omitted this as I do not like the smell when baked).
Bake at 150 C for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cookies are crunchy and melt in the mouth and absolutely irresistible.
Gong Xi Fa Chai & may The Year of the Rabbit bring prosperity, happiness, health and wealth to one and all.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Year Special

Fried Fish in Coconut Milk

My visit to Mangalore after Christmas 2010 and early January 2011 was full of excitement, fun and food. We had a great time visiting all our old haunts and eating the various food Mangalore is famous for. Nothing matches fish molee which is by far my favourite and evokes nostalgia of food filled summer holidays at my grandparents house where we could eat to our heart's content. Simple and easy it is a gourmet's delight and I have passed on the recipe to many a friend. A fantastic way to start the New Year too. A Happy & Prosperous 2011 to one and all.

The Recipe

1 kg sliced fish (seer, salmon, pomfret or any other). Wash and drain. Marinade in 1 1/2 tbsp. Kundapur fish masala (chilli powder, vinegar and salt) for 15 minutes. Roll in sooji and deep fry. Drain and keep hot while preparing the coconut gravy.

Coconut Gravy:
250 ml coconut milk; 2 sliced onion; 2 sprigs curry leaves; 1 garlic minced; 1/2 inch ginger minced; 1 tbsp oil; 2 green chillies slit; 1/2 tomato, chopped;1 cup water; pinch turmeric and salt to taste.

Boil the water, 1 sliced onion, ginger and garlic, tomato, green chillies and turmeric with salt to taste for a minute. Lower flame and add the coconut milk. Bring to simmer and remove from fire. Add the fish and seasoning. Serve hot with white rice. Guaranteed to get over within minutes.

Season the curry leaves and 1 sliced onion till brown in the oil.