Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sinful Chocolate & Luscious Strawberries

"Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart."

This was the thought we girls were debating upon, while quite ironically biting into our fresh strawberry-chocolates. Yes, thats what we girls mostly do as many would agree--no matter what we talk is part of the discussion and it is little wonder that we go weak in the knees when it comes to chocolate, when on the other hand we are so strong that we can take on the world. The most beautiful creation of God...although she was made with Man's rib,she has assisted the Gods with their demon slashing.. she is a heady concotion of both gentleness and ferocity.Thats the paradox of a woman,yet it is what makes her intruiging and ofcourse wonderful! (yes keep the cheering on..!)

I have been busy with family and friends (my sis-in-law was here with her friends and it was a girl gathering) lately.

Festivities and family/friends are synonymous. Both complement each other and its almost impossible to imagine either sans the other.So here I have my friends visiting us, for the holidays. Ahhh! Now you know why I have been away for sometime (hope I was missed ;-p).

I have been using the microwave/oven quite a bit lately. With so many girls,so much gossip and so little time. I just wanted a quick and sweet snack/dessert. (As my regular readers would know that I consider desserts are not to be confined to merely after-meal pleasures.)

The girl gang wanted to help me ...ahem! now well my kitchen isn't exactly big enough to accomodate so many girls(6). (There is a space constraint issue in Hong Kong appartments.)

Hence, I decided on chocolate dipped strawberries--which are easy, no-mess, no-fuss,can-be-made-in-the-comfort-of-the-drawing room and quick.

Working together was soooo much fun with the chatting-away-to-glory, no judging, no harm....just sheer joys of girly talks and melt-in-the-mouth choco-strawberries. Quite like the tangy-sweet strawberries and the warm-sinful chocolate. Awesome combination!

Chocolate-dipped Strawberries
1 packet of semi-sweet chocolate chips (340 gm/12 oz)
1 inch butter cube
2 boxes of fresh strawberries (1 dry pint/8.08oz x 2)

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips with the butter knob.
Mix well to form a smooth, lump-free paste.
Wash and pat dry the strawberries with kitchen towel.
Now, carefully holding the strawberries by the greem stalk dip them in the melted chocolate and give them a swirl to coat the strawberries half-way through.
Place on a tray lined with cookie-sheet. (I made use of the paper-muffin cups for individual strawberries and easy handling.)
Chill for about 30-40 mins in the refrigerator and serve.

N.B. I saved only two for my hubby and (oops!) those are the ones I could click for this post, as the girls didn't have much patience.

This goes out to SriLekha (Me and My Kitchen) for her Event-of-the-Month-November-Sweets.
(Although I had expressed earlier my inability to participate in this event I could not be at peace with myself for not having been able to fulfill a friend's request, SriLekha. So here it goes to you.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jab-we-met 2nd Anniversary

You are stuck in my heart..Like counting a million stars...For that many reasons you are..

It seems like it was just yesterday when we met...our eyes met and we smiled at each other.

"Do you work for HSBC?" ..who knew this question would alter the course of my life...our lives!

Across the seven seas, in a foreign land..two stangers joined by fate.

We chatted at length over a cup of hot milk and biscotti, late into the evening. It seemed as if we knew each other already; He has his amazing ways to entwine fates of two souls...and I will forever be indebted to Him for blessing me with You.

Acquaintance made way for fondness and it turned into friendship and God knows when it grew into LOVE. I knew you were special and that I longed to be with you...share your exclusive companionship. Yet, when you asked me to share with you my life...I was overwhelmed. I'm glad we met and things happened the way they did. I wouldn't want a thing to be changed, except ofcourse, the wish that I had met you even earlier have been able to be with you longer...(just not

That is the story of how my hubby and I met for the first time. 17th Nov. 2006 in Florida, U.S.

Its 2 years since then. I love him more than ever...! A truly amazing man...someone up above is really happy with me...I know I am blessed!

Time to celebrate this milestone in our lives. So I did what I had never done before...Baked a Black Forest (strawberry) Cake.

I love baking, but I am a little too scared to try anything other than muffins,loaves,whole sponge cakes. I don't really slice a cake or add the frosting or do any kind of frills on it...scared to spoil the cake. But this occassion called for something special and my husband's favourite cake/gateau. I had to overcome my fears.....So I did a lot of reasearch and finally made it.

Heres' my recipe-

Black Forest Cake/Gateau

For the chocolate sponge cake--
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon juice
For the syrup--
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp rum flavouring
For the strawberries--
(generally cherries are the norm...but hubby likes strawberries so the change!)
1 cup chopped strawberries
2 tbsp sugar (add more if strawberries are tart)
2 tbsp water
For the frosting--
whipped cream (for the inner layers of the gateau/cake)
chocolate ganache (for the outer coating)--1 cup bitter sweet chocolate chunks melted with half cup icing sugar and 1 tbsp butter


For sponge cake--
First seive the flour, salt, corn starch,cocoa three times.
In a bowl separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the yolks with the sugar ,butter and essence till soft and fluffy.
Whisk the egg whites with the lemon juice,till frothy (about 4 mins.).
Now to the yolks add slowly the beaten egg whites and mix slowly, so as no air escapes.
Finally add the dry ingredients to this mix. Fold in slowly,in movement of forming the digit 8, so that all the air remains trapped.
Bake in a microwave on high for 6 minutes.
(For a conventional oven, it should be around 15-16 mins at 375 degrees F.)

Once done (after the toothpick test). Cool and slice the sponge in 2-3 layers.

On medium flame, heat the water and sugar till dissolved. Remove from heat, add the rum flavoring.

On medium flame, in a different pan, cook the strawberries in sugar syrup. Cool.

For the assembling--

Place a slice of the sponge on serving plate. Pour out part syrup on the face-up side of the sponge cake. Now add the whipped cream. (I used store bought..Pillsbury.) Top it up with the strawberries.
Place another sponge slice on top of this. Repeat the process of layering with syrup, cream and strawberries.
Finally add the last sponge slice.

Now, coat the entire cake with the chocolate ganache with an offset spatula. Decorate as desired.
( I do not own an offset spatula, so I just used a butter knife, the result wasn't pro-shop like, but the taste was!)
Chill before serving.
The sponge was soft and fluffy soaked in the rum syrup and the whipped cream made it melt in the mouth. Strawberries were as usual ...yummmmm.

Hubby was pleasantly surprised to find this delight, when he opened the fridge for some juice.
In no time it was devoured and my hands kissed! (blush blush)
Hope I can inspire all those who are nervous to try out stuff they think they can't do.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cooking with Alicia & Annie--Low-Fat Baked Vanilla Custard

Its' cooking with Alicia and Annie, again. The November blog event '08. This time the recipe is from Alicia's recipes.
Holiday season alongwith the warmth and good cheer brings with it oodles of weight, when we throw caution to the winds. So this time I decided to take preventive measures and make desserts that could be dug into without the guilt.
As we both love custard and puddings. I decided to give this custard a shot...and I must say it tasted so sweet, may be because I made it from scratch. ;-)

Its the Low Fat dessert recipe for Vanilla Custard.

Low -Fat Baked Vanilla Custard

1/2 quart 2% milk (low fat milk)
3 eggs
3/4 cup Equal sweetener/any sugar substitue
2 teaspoons vanilla
a pinch of salt

On medium flame, heat the milk in deep pan till boiling.
Let cool for 5 mins.
In a separate bowl beat the eggs, sugar substitute,salt and vanilla essence untill smooth.
Now pour this mixture in the still warm milk, slowly. Mixing it all the while.
Pour this custard in a mould/casserole.
Place this casserole in microwave-safe bowl with a little hot water.
Also, place a cup of water in the microwave. Bake for 15 minutes on medium setting.

Check if sharp knife inserted halfway between center and edge of custard comes out clean. Remove custard mould or casserole from the bowl of hot water. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate several hours or until well chilled.
Serve garnished with sliced fresh fruits or as desired.I used cookies and raisins.

Cooking with Alicia & Annie--Chocolate-chip Cookies

" A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand".

Its been a busy day for me...but very gratifying as I was able to finish quite a few chores-laundry, picking up groceries, finishing my umpteenth Sydney Sheldon and returning to the library, etc....phew!

As I mentioned earlier ...I am addicted to blogging and cooking...(I can see you nodding your head in agreement my friend!)...blogging was the one thing I had to do , even if it meant 2 a.m. in the night or should I say morning.

Now before I sat at my laptop for hours doing my fav thing, I had to bribe my husband. It was just last night that I was blogging and he waited for me till I was done , so that we could go to bed. He isn't exactly pleased with my new found favourite. And again today I was to repeat history.. ;-) (can't help it!!) I baked him his favourite choco-chip cookies.

I followed the recipe from Annie's recipe that I had found on the net/blogosphere; with a few adaptations.

Needless to say hubby loved it and couldn't wait for the cookies to cool or for me to take the pictures. lol...

I had done it again. His mouth was filled with the cookies and I was blabbering away that it was because of blogging that I could find the recipe etc etc....after all blogging ain't so bad at all. (wink wink).

Choco-Chip Cookies
4 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup cold milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 packet chocolate chips (feel free to use more if you want..chocolate never hurts!)

Tip:Use eggs straight from the freezer. A tip I read somewhere.Cookies bake great.

In a bowl mix all the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) and mix well.
Add the choco-chips at the end.
Drop cookie dough with the help of an ice-cream scoop (as its easier) on the baking sheet.
Take care to keep them 2 inch apart.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes.
Cool on rack.

EAT! :-)

I have never really baked cookies before.
Cakes,muffins,bread,..yes...but no cookies.
This was my first time and it came out pretty decent.
I made them in the microwave, as thats all I have here.
When using microwave for baking these cookies--
1. do not put any cookie on the center of the turn-table, keep them on the sides of the baking plate.
2. freeze the cookie dough for a few minutes before putting them in the microwave
3. bake for just 4-5 minutes on medium-high setting.
4. use brown sugar in the recipe,as microwave doesn't browns like a conventional oven, the brown sugar does the trick

Do let me know for more tips on microwave baking/use.

I had stumbled upon this blog while searching for the perfect choco-chip cookie recipe. Its got loads of other wonderful recipes that I intend to try sometime.
I am sending this as an entry to the November 2008 Blog event at Alicia-Annie blogspot.

I send this to
Vandana (Cooking Up Something Nice)'s Baking for Beginners' event.
Also, this goes out to Susan (of Food Blogga) for her Eat Christmas Cookies event. You can see a variety of other christmas goodies here.

N.B. The picture on which the cookies are placed are another of my creative streaks at doodling with colours. :-)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hail the king of all vegetables-Brinjal !!

We all know that brinjals are considered the king of all vegetables. But do we know why (apart from the fact that it wears a green "crown").Well heres' the insight into its "royal bloodline"... ;-)

Nutritional Value of Brinjal
(Given here is the nutritional value of a serving of 100 grams of brinjal)
Calcium - 525 mg
Cholesterol - 16mg
Dietary Fiber - 4.9g
Iron - 6mg
Potassium - 618mg
Protein - 8g
Saturated Fat - 5.2g
Sodium - 62mg
Sugars - 11.4g
Total Carbohydrates - 17.8g
Total Fat - 27.5g
Vitamin A - 6.4 mg

Health & Nutrition Benefits of Eating Brinjal
*Take brinjal in a mashed form or as a soup and add some garlic and asafetida to it. It will help you get rid of flatulence and adjust the wind humor of the body.
*Brinjal can also be eaten after being roasted directly on fire. Just peel off the skin, mash it and add some salt in it for flavor and eat it. It will help cure phlegm, congestion and reduce the formation of gas.
*In order to increase appetite and digestion, take soup made of mashed brinjal and tomato, along with some salt and pepper.
*In case you are unable to fall asleep easily, eat a soft brinjal (along with some honey) after baking it directly over fire. If taken regularly, it may also cure insomnia.
*In order to cure enlarged spleen caused due to malaria, eat soft baked brinjal along with raw sugar on empty stomach, preferably in the morning.

(Courtesy: iloveindia)

Now coming to the most important part--the taste! After all in the end its all about taste, ain't it?! It is one of the best vegetables for amatuer cooks to start working with. The purple hue shines through and springyness of the veggie delights the hearts. Ok so you have guessed it...I love it!
I have to thank my dad for introducing me to this vegetable. No no he doesn't cook...its just that when we were kids, it was a Sunday morning ritual that we loved to follow. We went to the hustling-bustling vegetable market where my father taught me to choose the freshest produce. The tricks and tips of picking a vegetable when it is freshest and not simply relying on the shop keeper (who would inevitably try to sell off his older produce). Like, a brinjal is at its best when its exterior is shiny purple and it weighs light in the hand.
Though I am not that lil' kid anymore holding my father's hand, wide-eyed, grasping all the knowledge....all that he taught has stuck through time.

It is commonly said that a learning never goes to waste. So true and I experienced it myself when after marriage, I shifted base and had to do the veggie shopping on my own! (For someone who has never really done it on her own ever, it was quite a task. Its only after marriage and quitting work that I have really started cooking full don't be mistaken, I'm lovin' it!) :-)
So here's one of the simplest recipes with brinjals. Its a bengali dish. (I was born and brought up in Kolkata, East India) I make this dish so very often and hubby dear loved it the first time he tasted it. I am all about simplicity in food without compromising on taste or health. Hope you make it and enjoy it too, just like we do.

Baingan Bhaja (fried eggplant/brinjal)

1 large eggplant, sliced into 1'' thick discs
3 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt
enough mustard oil to deep fry

In a big plate, arrange the eggplant discs and sprinkle them with half the turmeric and half the salt.
Rub the turmeric and salt into the eggplants with your finger tips.
Turn over the sliced eggplants (white side face-up) and sprinkle with turmeric and salt and rub, as earlier.
Now, heat the mustard oil in a deep fying pan and deep fry the slices till golden brown. Flip and brown the other side too. It will be almost blackish-purple in colour, once removed.
Check seasoning, sprinkle some more salt , if required.

Serve with chapatis/parathas or theple.

This dish goes to Harini (Sunshinemom)'s FIC- November event.

N.B. Its 2.30 am here in HK, hubby is testing his patience. I am a blog-o-addict..(head hanging in shame). So will post the recipe for theple later.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Squash the Squash!!

When the bold branches, bid farewell to rainbow leaves - welcome wool sweaters !!

Its that time of the year again, when the dried fallen leaves chatter as the chilly winds play with them. Yes, its favourite season. Something that brings cheer to my heart. I feel happy for no apparent reason....its like falling in love all over again (if you know what I am talking about). :-)

So I have been on a baking spree....(please see the upcoming posts)...but we obviously can't survive on cakes and cookies alone!;-p

Its the season of squashes-butter nut, acorn, pumpkin et al. My husband isn't fond of them so I had to be really creative and perform that I have him licking from my fingers...figuratively that

When buying squash check for firmness. Infact the harder the skin the quicker and better the squash cooks.

Just a tip-The skin need not be removed, if you are going to puree the squash for a soup. Its edible and texturizes the soup well.

I decided on a butter nut squash curry today. Its a jewish-cum-indian(bengali) dish. Simple yet tasty.

Butternut Squash Curry
1 medium sized butternut squash, chopped roughly
1/2 cup bengal gram (soaked overnight and pressure cooked the following day)
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
2 cloves
2 pods of cardamom
1 tsp red chilli powder
salt to taste
4 tbsp oil

In a wok, heat oil. Add the cumin,fenugreek, fennel,nigella and mustard seeds till they splutter.
Bruise the whole cardamom and cloves using a mortar and pestle. Add this to the wok.
When the cumin seeds have browned a little, add the squash, ginger, garlic, sugar and sprinkle with salt. Cover and cook for a minute.
Add the chilli powder. Cover and cook again for a minute or so.
Once the squash has softened, using a spoon mash them till they are pulpy (on medium flame).
(This step is really stress buster!)
Now, add the ( previously boiled) bengal gram. Mix well. Check seasoning.

Serve with chappatis/parathas (Indian flat bread) or your choice of toasted bread.

I passed the test! My husband liked the dish a lot and complimented it without me having to ask him whether the food was fine (as I often do). I have a repeat request already. :-)

This dish is ideal for a Thanksgiving meal as its quick and can be cooked the morning of the gathering, minutes away from the guests' arrival. So the warm sweetness still floats in the air and the guests are so aptly welcomed to devour this savoury dish made from simple ingredients, transformed with love.
I send this as an entry to Mansi 's event (Vegetarian Thanksgiving-Recipe Carnival).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Proof in the pudding.....

"A wise woman puts a grain of sugar into everything she says to a man,and takes a grain of salt with everything he says to her."

----Helen Rowland.

I don't know whether others (like me) have suffered what I like to call the "sugar-magnet" craving.
As a child I sometimes craved for sweets all of a sudden...anything..even plain sugar would do. Unfortunately this has stuck with me over the years. The only thing that has changed is that now plain sugar wouldn't do! A few days back this craving struck, without any warning ....and yours truly had to make 'some' (read 'lots' of) dessert.

I made Fruit Custard (another of my husband's eternal favourites) , to try and keep my dessert a little on the healthier side. ;-) Also, because its so quick!
My earliest memories of custard are when returning after school,we (my bro and me) sneaked into the refrigerator to see if there is something sweet that mom had made...bread pudding, choco-biscuit cake, shahi tukde, sandesh or custard. We secretly smiled at each-other like partners-in-crime,when we saw our sweet-treasures. And even before mom could serve it up for us...we would have attacked the fridge and left only Mom obviously knew about our she religiously kept some dessert. Well dessert for us kids was not confined to the after meal pleasure, it could be had at anytime during the day-breakfast, lunch, dinner or even in tiffin. lol.

I will do the same for my kids eventually, but for now I'm making my hubby happy..and not to forget myself too! :-)

Vanilla Mixed Fruit Custard--
2 tbsp custard powder ( I used Brown & Polson, you can use your favourite brand)
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 cup skimmed milk
favorite fruits, chopped (banana,mango,strawberry,orange,grapes,gooseberry,pear,apple)

Heat the milk (leaving 1/2 cup aside) on medium flame, with the brown sugar.
To the half cup milk add the custard powder and mix till lump free.
Now, add this mix to the boiling milk. Remove from heat. Add vanilla essence.
Pour in a separate bowl and refrigerate till cool.

Serve chilled with freshly chopped fruits ( in my case I added the Ritters' Sport Dunkle Voll-Nuss chocolate too !!).

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mini Chicken Lollies

"The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it." --Arnold H. Glasgow

Lazy Saturday morning....woke up late and hungry....after all the Friday night partying...please don't lecture me on patience !

Yes, I woke up at 1.30 pm today (slept at 4 am last night). (I hope my mother/m-i-l aren't reading this).

No hangovers or anything....just plain simple lack of sleep, so not really in the mood to cook an elaborate brunch. Wanted to warm up with something simpler and most importantly quicker and with lots of protein. We needed it! lol

Checked the refrigerator --found an unopened pack of mini chicken sausages. Thought for a moment, checked for corn meal ( I generally stock my pantry well) and started to work.

My Mini Chicken lollies...with the minimal of ingredients...actually a party finger food....but hey we were still in the party mood (you must be thinking what big party animals...he he he).

Just that we enjoy dancing and friends are visiting for sometime, so having fun with a big gang.

These Lollies were great to look at ...nutritous so that they could keep the stomach full till a late brunch....and ofcourse quickly devoured. ;-)

Mini Sausage Lollies
10 mini sausages (I used chicken you can use any kind of sausage)
2 cups corn meal
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup beer (or less/as required)
1/2 tsp garlic paste
oil for deep frying
small wooden skeweres/tooth picks for presenting

In a medium sized bowl , mix the corn meal, salt and garlic paste. Pour the beer little by little and whisk it to make a lump free thin batter.

Tip: The batter should not be too thin, it should be thick enough to coat the sausages yet not too heavy/sticky.

In a deep frying pan, heat enough oil so that the sausages can be immersed in it.

Now, dip the sausage one at a time, into the batter and deep fry for 1 minute/or till the sausages turn golden brown. Repeat till all sausages are done.

Tip: Be careful not to burn the sausages, it cooks very quickly.

Remove and place on absorbent/kitchen paper. Now, put a wooden skewer/tooth pick in each of the prepared sausages.

Serve with ketchup/mustard sauce.

NOTE: If you do not have beer, you can use 1/4 tsp of bi-carb soda and 1/2 cup (or as required) water to make the batter.

N.B. You can also use this sausage in your hot dogs . They are very very tasty. Kids and adults alike just love them.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nostalgia...La Quinta Moments!

Today, after a l-o-n-g time, I found one dear colleague, on my orkut profile. (Thanks to Orkut/Google, I am able to keep in touch with my friends and colleagues.)

It was a pleasant surprise. Talking to him brought back memories of my two years with HSBC. I had a wonderful time...infact had it not been for marriage (read relocation) and my love I would not have quit.

Not that I am sad about it, just that I miss ( a teeny-weeny bit) working at times. All who know me, family and friends inclusive, are like...."Don't you get bored at home?"...."You are such an active can you sit at home?"....."What do you do?"...."Don't you want to work?"...."Life must be so lonely when hubby leaves for work!"....etc etc.

NO, I do not feel lonely, or sad, or bored....I'm making good use of my time. Being at home doesn't mean idle (don't believe me..ask all home makers/home engineers) ! I am reading all that I wanted to but couldn't because of my work, painting, dancing, doing my bit for the society in the form of social service, catching up with old friends, spending time with my husband ( I just can't get enough of have to give it to me..its just been a little over a year of our marriage), giving myself an adrenalin rush with all the adventure sports like bungee jumping, sky diving etc (fyi-a couple of months back both of us did the world's highest bungee in Macau) , cooking (my passion) & photography and ofcourse blogging (my new found love) and my blogger friends across the globe. 24 hrs just aren't enough! ;-)

The 2006 thanksgiving and christmas I was in Florida. The place has fond memories, I met my love here, for the first time. (blush blush)

Anyways, I was staying at a hotel (La Quinta) with my group. There were five of us. Me being the youngest and the only girl in the group. It was fun. At times we wanted to have the yummy chaats etc. (you can't deny an Indian his/her chaat-pakodas)

It was one such evening, when we bought potatoes and sev to make papri chaat....and (ahem) champagne to innundate the spiciness and celebrate our

I had microwaved the potatoes ( remember we were in a hotel...not much cooking appliances in the room) and used the papri mom had given me while leaving India. The chutney was brought by another colleague( Indians never leave home without Onions by another...a pot-luck kinda thing.

The chaat was lip smackingly delicious. The result of all the effort was awesome, especially as we had little or no utensils/appliances.( I had used a swiss knife to chop the potatoes) :-)

Heres' the simple recipe-

2 medium sized boiled potatoes chopped in cubes, or ( cut the potatoes in half and microwave them in a bowl with some water for 3-4 mins)
1 medium red onion, chopped finely
1 medium sized tomato, diced
6-7 sprigs of coriander (half a bunch), finely chopped
salt to taste
3 tsp chaat masala
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp oil (I used mustard, any cooking oil would do)
a pinch of red chilli powder or 1 green chilli minced
1 cup puffed rice ( called as 'moori' in bengali, 'murmure' in marathi, 'laai' in northern india)
10-15 papris (flattened crisp disc shaped flour fritters, mildly salty)
3 tbsp beaten curd mixed with 1 tsp of sugar
3 tsp imli chutney (tamarind sauce/dip)
sev (bhujia) for garnish ( a common indian tea-time snack)

In a bowl, mix well the potatoes, tomato, onion, coriander, a little salt, lemon juice,oil,minced green chilli/red chilli powder and chaat masala. Now add the puffed rice and mix well again.
Tip: We add the puffed rice at the end or else it will become soggy.
In a serving plate, layer the papris.
Spread the mixture we just made with puffed rice, on top of the papris.
Then, the next layer will be of the beaten curd with sugar.
Top it all with the imli chutney.
Garnish with sev.
Serve....yum yum...(my mouths' watering again.)

N.B. The papris, sev and imli chutney can be bought at Indian grocery stores.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dhaaba wale Aloo-Parathe

Potatoes are a handy vegetable. You can prepare anything out of it. Many people think them to be the culprits that add to their excess body weight. This modest vegetable however is one of the best sources of carbs and fills up the hungry stomach as it satiates the hunger in multitudes. Its not evil afterall !! It also comes in varities like sweet potatoes, blue potatoes etc.
Infact its so versatile that it can be used in so many so many dishes.

Today I am going to discuss its most common use in North India. The ever popular Aloo Paratha. I am going to share my version of the same, that I had tasted in a road side 'Dhaba' (eatery for truck drivers on highways).

It was during my school days that we had gone for a two week North India excursion. I was in standard IX th then. I was the company leader of the Guides in our school. It was basically an excursion for Scouts & Guides of our school.

After stopping over at Delhi, our next stop would be Agra. We left our hotel early in the morning, in our bus.

Since it was quite early in the morning, most of us girls weren't very hungry and we ended up with just a glass of juice and were on the road trip. Now as many of us are aware of the ravenous appetite of teens, in no time we all were hungry but we were on the highway by then and so no restuarants were in sight. The hunger was so intense that after finishing the peanuts, girls were even eating up the shells/cover of the nuts too!

Thinking of it now, makes me ticklish. :-) Anyways after what seemed an eternity we did locate a 'Dhaba' and we stopped there. A bunch of hungry bubbly loud teenage girls!

Now let me tell you that its not a common sight to behold at a Dhaba where only men (infact only truck drivers and their helps) stop by for their food. Very basic food---Bhaji, Roti and Lassi.

The 'Dhaba' also did not have any closed toilets. So you can imagine. Stopping there was a basic necessity of satisfying hungry kids, which our teacher had to take.

It was here that I ate the best Aloo-Paratha I have ever tasted in my life and I couldn't even complete a single one.( and no it wasn't tasty because we were was just delicious!) It was simply HUGE....I was burping after only eating half of it.

I share this with you. Hope you enjoy it.

(AlooParatha is stuffed unleavened bread with spicy mashed potatoes.)

For the filling-
2 medium sized boiled potatoes, mashed
1 inch stalk of ginger, minced
½ bunch of finely chopped coriander
salt to taste
1tsp aamchur powder (dried raw mango powder)
1tsp garam masala powder
1 green chilli minced

For the dough-
5 cups of wheat flour (whole wheat flour)
enough water to make a dough (about 1/2 cup +)
oil/clarified butter (ghee) to pan fry the parathas


First make the dough.
In a bowl, place the flour and make a well in the centre. Now add water little by little, incorporating the flour each time till you reach dough like consistency. Keep aside.
Now, for the potato filling—in a bowl place all the ingredients and mix well.
Voila! the filling is ready :-)
For the final step.
Take a part of the dough, the size of a ping-pong ball. Roll it in your palm. Make a depression with your thumb, in the dough. Now, put the filling in it. Seal the dough and roll it to make a ball. Flatten it a little with slight pressure from the heel of your palm.
Roll it out with a rolling pin.
Pan fry it on the griddle with a little oil. Flip each side after 30-40 seconds/till cooked.

Serve hot with plain curd/yogurt and mango pickle/ketchup.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Steamed Spinach and Fenugreek dumplings

This post is dedicated to the one woman who would have trusted me to be good, even if the world thought I was evil; the woman who loved me so much so that the Gods would be jealous; the one who loved me unconditionally and probably even more than my own Nani ji (maternal grandmom).

She passed away just before my marriage last year,(that will pain always as she had wished to see my 'dulha' and kiss him). My Nani believed in PDAs...public display of emotions. She always hugged everyone who visited her and would hold the person's chin and then kiss his/her forehead. The most loving lady I had ever known. I was close to all my grandparents(both sides), but nani was my agony best-est friend.
Infact everyone in the family thought (including my parents) that my death would follow hers. Alas, people grow up and grow strong...and life continues.

How I wish I could have stayed with her longer...the time just wasn't enough. I had stayed with her and helped her cook. Infact my first ever jalebi was made under her guidance. Needless to say she was a foodie and a great cook. (I guess it runs in the family, my mom is one too...hope I can continue the legacy).

Remembering her now still makes my eyes moisten. She was a Diabetic.

So this post is for all the diabetics of the world. Never give up. Be happy and lick the ice-cream (of life) before it melts ! Cheer up!!

A need to mention Sangeeth (of 'Art of Cooking Indian Food') 's Monthly event of "Eat Healthy, Fight Diabetes" is necessary. It was this event that inspired me to cook something for those who ineviatbly have a sweet tooth and more often than not are prey to 'diabetes' .
This ones' for you Sangeeth.

This dish has the best of both worlds....

It has Methi (Fenugreek leaves) that counter acts the disease. Infact Methi has been used in Indian cuisine since the Vedic age. Its only now that we are re-discovering its medicinal properties. So much so that Methi is also sold in drug stores across the United States, over the counter for lactating mothers as it helps in building more milk for the feeding child.

It also has Paalak (Spinach) which is a nutrition power house. The calcium in spinach strengthens bones, which is a must for diabetics, as the they are more prone to weak bones.

Served with sliced tomatoes which contain lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants, which, especially when tomatoes are cooked, has been found to help prevent prostrate cancer.

The fibre in this dish is attributed to the whole wheat flour and Bengal gram flour.

This dish is prepared by steaming, not deep frying, so fat free, low-sodium and healthy.

(Steamed spinach and fenugreek dumplings )

1 bunch spinach leaves, chopped
1/2 bunch fenugreek leaves, chopped (if using dried methi, use 4 tsp)
1 1/2 teaspoons green chilli-ginger paste
4 tablespoons whole wheat flour (gehun ka atta)
2 tablespoons Bengal gram flour (besan)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon soda-bi-carb (baking soda)
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
salt to taste

In bowl mix all the ingredients. Add a little water if required.
Tip: Take care to see that the dough should not be very runny.
Now make small balls out of the dough using your palm. Brush the steamer with a little oil to avoid sticking of dough.
Steam for 15-20 minutes.
Tip: The more water the dough absorbs the softer and spongier the dumplings will be.

Serve topped with slices of cherry tomatoes and tiny cottage cheese cubes (if desired).