Friday, October 31, 2008

Double Bonanza- Tea meets Coffee

Picture this-- its 2.10 am in the morning here. After various failed attempts of telling me to sleep, my husband went off to the bedroom. I have been on my laptop for the past six hours. Updating my posts, commenting on fellow bloggers' blogs, understanding the html stuff (pardon me I am a lesser mortal not a techie).....and I had promised on my Diwali blog that I would talk about my other dessert-- Jasmine Matcha and Coffee Chiffon Marble Cake. So here I am!!

Thanks to Meeta's Blog ("Whats' for lunch honey")- The Monthly Mingle of Tea and Coffee,which really instigated me to be edgier and venture where I never have before.
(especially as I don't drink either Tea or Coffee.) The result was great, this I say because of the overwhelming positive response I got, even from unexpected quarters.

This ones's for you Meeta.
When we first arrived in Hong Kong, we initially stayed at The Empire Hotel here. We couldn't have asked for a better place. It was wonderful. It was here that I picked up some jasmine and green tea sachets. Ok thats' silly I know. Nevertheless I picked them up as they seemed exotic. On hindsight I am glad I did. :-)
So a couple of weeks after I started my blog, while browsing through the web, quite serendipitiously I stumbled upon Meeta's blog and found this event of the month with the deadline still on. The decision was made...... I was sending in my entry. But what do I make?
First I thought of Matcha(Green Tea) Crepes', but they were too simple.Then I thought of Biscotti, but then again both of us don't drink tea/coffee and are not great biscuit fans.Added to that, all I have here is a microwave, no conventional oven so couldn't do much. Idea cancelled.

I wanted to make something complex yet simple. Something that incorporates both tea and coffee and yet be in harmony.Something that challenges me creatively. And so I came up with Jasmine Matcha and Coffee Chiffon Marble cake, that too made in a a heat-safe plastic box, not a cake tin! (I don't have one and I couldn't wait to buy one as I was dying to try my creation) So it was quite a challenge!

Jasmine Matcha and Coffee Chiffon Marble cake
For the Green tea batter-
1 tea bag of jasmine tea (brewed with 2 tbsp warm water)
1 tea bag of green tea/matcha (brewed with 2 tbsp warm water)
1/2 cup self raising flour
3 heaped tbsp white sugar
1 egg
a small pinch of dried ginger powder
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp milk

For the Coffee batter-
2 tbsp any coffee brew (just instant coffee mixed with a little warm water and strained)
1/2 cup self raising flour
a small pinch of nutmeg
a small pinch of cinnamon
3 heaped tbsp brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp milk (as required)

The Green Tea Batter-
Once both the jasmine and green tea have been brewed with warm water for sometime. Squeeze the bags dry. Keep this brew.
In a bowl beat the egg till fluffy, now add the sugar, beat till it dissolves. Add the oil, milk and lemon. Beat again. Now add the brew.
Finally add the flour, ginger powder and mix. Do not over stir or else the cake will turn out hard.

The Coffee Batter-
In a bowl, beat the egg till fluffy, now add the sugar till it dissolves. Add the oil, milk and the coffee brew. Beat well.
Finally add the flour, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix well , again do not over stir.

Note :Check if the consistency of the Green tea batter and the Coffee batter are same. Add a little more milk to the coffee batter if required.

Now, using a ladle spoon pour the coffee batter in the baking tray/tin. On top of that, pour the same quantity ladle of the green tea batter. Again ladle the coffee batter followed by the green tea batter.Keep alternating till all the batter is finished. Do not shake the tin. Sprinkle some brown sugar on top.Carefully bake it in the microwave at medium high heat for 10 minutes. Check with the toothpick if it comes out clean. Its done. Cool on rack.
Slice. Serve with either whipped cream or plain.

The cake just melts in the mouth, giving off a burst of myraid flavours. The subtle taste of matcha and jasmine with ginger, combined with the spiced up coffee. Each bite is heavenly (even for people who don't drink tea/coffee). A must try!

N.B. The brown sugar sprinkle at the end browns the cake and gives it a nice glaze, as the microwave does not brown it like a conventional oven would.
I made a small cake as I was experimenting with matcha, double the amount/quantity of the ingredients if you need a bigger cake.

Just to mention- The cutlery stand was made by me with cut outs from a magazine and A4 size blank sheets. :-)

NOTE: Since I made this dessert for Diwali,I also send this as entry to Sudeshna (of Here I Cook)'s monthly event "Satisfy your sweet tooth" (on my dear friend's request).

Do not Spook unless you are Spooken to!!

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, Voices whisper in the trees,
"Tonight is Halloween!"

Asia is fast catching up with the idea of Halloween. Here in Hong Kong, its a BIG event. The streets are all lit up with bright pumpkin lights and there is a costume parade at Lan Kwai Fong (the hang out of the party people). FYI...We had gone there last week. Its total fun!
I am a firm believer of having fun....any rhyme or reason will do. Sometimes even thats not required. lol. I don't have kids of my own as of now but no worries as I make do with my darling husband...he's my child. lol... So I decided to make a spooky lunch for him. Generally spooky sweets are made at this festival of "trick or treat"...but we were in no mood of sweets especially after the recent Diwali overdose; so I put the destructive devil in me to make my otherwise 'good' lunch...'bad' (wicked grin).

Lo and behold, the Spooky Spider lunch is ready. The bloody eyes take their color from the cherry tomatoes. The skinny spidy legs are crunchy edible pretz. The rest of the spidy body is yummylicious peas and sausage fried rice.
In true Halloween spirit we ate like a monster!!
Heres' the trick/treat for you--

Spidy Peas and Sausage Fried Rice
two cups of cooked rice (3/4th cooked)
3 large chicken sausages chopped
3 stalks of spring onion
half cup green peas
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp tobasco hot pepper sauce (mild or hot depending on taste)
2 tsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
a dash of cumin powder
a pinch of sugar
salt to taste
2 tbsp oil


In a wok, heat oil. Saute the onions and sausages. Add the ginger ,garlic. Stir. Now add the soy sauce, tobasco and ketchup. Stir again. Add the peas and the sugar. Add the cooked rice. Sprinkle salt to taste. Add a dash of ground cumin powder. Mix well. Cover and simmer for a minute. Serve hot.

Tip: Its important that the rice be partly cooked or else while mixing the rice grains may break because of over cooking.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


O Ram! The light of lights, the self-luminous inner light of the Self is ever shining steadily in the chamber of your heart. Sit quietly. Close your eyes. Withdraw the senses. Fix the mind on this supreme light and enjoy the real Deepavali, by attaining illumination of the soul.

Yes, Diwali the festival of lights...the homecoming of Lord Rama..and the beginning of the new year for the Hindus. So I was all busy,like many of my clan, in cleaning up the household.Every nook and corner cleaned and lit.Its a no-moon night, yet the lights of the world make this the brightest night of the year.

Here in Hong Kong, away from home and family (though they all call and send letters and cards which give a warm touch in this age of emails), it still does seem a little crackers( I was the daring one at home bursting the most dangerous looking 'bombs'...alas!) ,no diyas inside the house (fire alram !!)....however, alongwith the other Indians here, I shared the good cheer with my Chinese and Cantonese(HongKong Residents) friends too.

I gave them sweets that I especially made for the occassion. Jasmine Green tea and Coffee Marble cake and my favourite- Narkel Nadu. This is a humble benagli delicacy.Does not require too much of expensive ingredients.Its sweet coconut laddu with jaggery. The former dessert was an authentic and complete innovation...infact a tad bit of forced Will talk about it at length in my next post. :-)

I love playing hostess and serving up delights to my friends and family. Quite a few times I have had bizarre requests of people who want to be my house guest/house arrest(whichever way as long as they are being fed) for atleast a when I was in Florida (USA), I was cooking for people at my place during Diwali and then again at their place when we went for Halloween and It would be amusing if I mentioned that I had even offered food to my now husband, when I had first met him in the States! Thats another story though. '-)I attribute this from seeing my grandma (nani) and ma(mom) playing gracious hostessess, in my growing up years in Kolkata.

Both the sweets were so very well appreciated that I was overwhelmed. The Narkel Nadu was from my "place of birth" and the green tea and coffee delicacy was inspired from my "current place of stay". They looked so much in harmony, sitting on the plate, when I presented them to my guests, accompanied with some beguni and palak pakode.

Narkel Nadu
1 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
150 gms desiccated coconut (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups crushed jaggery
2 tbsp white (plain) sugar
1 tbsp coconut milk

In a deep pan(wok), heat the ghee. Now put the coconut and fry a little on low flame.

Tip:Be careful not to burn the coconut. Keep moving the coconut with a wooden spoon.

When the coconut leaves a little moisture and its nutty aroma(about after 30-40 seconds), add
the broken jaggery pieces and the sugar. Set the flame to medium.
The heat will melt the jaggery and the sugar. This is the labour intensive part. Quickly keep mixing the coconut and the jaggery together, till it becomes one sticky brown chocolate colour mixture.
(The mixing action can be tough as the mixture will be sticky.)
Now, add the coconut milk and mix further.
Remove from heat. Cool for about a minute. And start making ping pong sized balls with the mixture, while it is still a little warm. The mixture won't stick to your palms, but it will feel a little warm.

Store in a sealed jar. It has a long shelf life (as no water is involved in cooking it).

N.B. If you do not find jaggery, you can sunstitute it with brown sugar/palm sugar. It tastes
equally good. Almost toffee like. Enjoy!

P.S. This ones for you Sudeshna ("Here I Cook") ! For Event of the month on her blog-"Satisfy your Sweet Tooth". Trsut me I

Also Sudeshna has been kind enough to encourage me with The Butterfly Award. Thanks Sudeshna! My very first award. :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chives' Shrimp Balls

Its such a beautiful evening! But don't want to go out alone. Hubby's at work. Called him up to see if he can make it early just today. Surprisingly he said he could. (just 20 mins earlier...which by the way is quite a bit, by the standard) I am elated! All those home makers/wives would agree how exhilerating it is to see your better half come home earlier than usual. In any case, since "a happy wife makes a happy life" (courtesy- According to Jim. His 19 point cohesive theory about men); I decided I would make something special for my hubby. His all time favourites are shrimps. So gave a twist to this shrimp dish....creative cooking! Its finger licking delicious.

Chives' Shrimp Balls

4 tbsp finely chopped chives
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp sherry
3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp bread crumbs
salt to taste
1 finely chopped green chilli
water (enough to make a dough like consistency-not too wet, nor too dry)
10 tiger prawns(cleaned, deveined and slightly sauteed)
oil for deep frying

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except oil and shrimps.
The mixture should be of dough like consistency. Divide the mixture into 10 equal sized ping pong balls.
Now wet your hand a little,pick one dough ball and flatten it in the middle, forming a depression in the middle with your thumb.Now place one shrimp in the middle and bring the sides of the dough to cover the shrimp. Roll.
The dough-mixture ball will cover the shrimp and the shrimp would not be seen. Repeat with all the shrimps.
Now in a pan, heat enough cooking oil to deep fry the shrimp balls. Deep fry. Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve hot with tea/coffee or just munch it!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cheesy Udon with spicy sausages

Just returned from the library. Had finished reading "Map of Bones" by James Rollins and had to return the book. Awesome book. Although I read all sorts of books, I prefer thrillers and lately the genre has been biblical and historical, say the Dan Brown style. This book takes it to an all new level. The book kept me on the edge throughout. So, that leaves me with so little time to cook and lots of stomach rumbling. Hence the easiest options are always noodles. Since I am currently in Hong Kong, wanted to try out their famous udon here. Had purchased the udon but since my hubby doesn't really like the look of the thick noodle (almost worm he puts it), had not cooked it yet. Udon is a kind of Rice noodle, generally on the thicker side. I added cocktail sausages and a little mozarella cheese in the end to give it an Italian-American twist and ofcourse to make it edible for my darling. And my husband surprised me by finishing the entire plate. Was it the dish or the hunger....? Thats' a mystery! '-)

Cheesy Udon with Spicy sausages
2 packets udon
4 small cocktail sausages sliced (if going for the larger size, make it 2)
a dash of soy sauce
a dash of sesame oil
2 tbsp garlic infused oil (plain oil will also do..garlic just adds another flavour)
a little lemon zest ( about a pinch)
2 tsp Tabasco chilli sauce (depending on how hot you want it)
2 tbsp Tomato sauce/ketchup
1 tsp chopped chives (optional)
salt (to taste)
grated mozarella (as cheesy as you desire) :-)

Note: I have added no vegetables here, as hubby didn't want any today and I had neither the time nor the inclination. But you can add-capsicum and carrots.All julienned. Add them just after the sausages.

First boil the udon in a separate pan with enough water to immerse the noodles.
Strain and set aside.
Now, in a wok/kadai heat the garlic infused oil. Add the chives and lemon zest. Now add the sausages and the dash of sesame oil. Stir.
Add the noodles/udon and stir fry. Now add the soy sauce, ketchup and chilli sauce. Mix well so as to coat evenly all the noodles with the sauce. Add little salt. Sprinkle with the cheese while still hot and serve.

I served it with red wine, which was a birthday gift from friends here in HK. Guess the wine could be the reason my hubby ate all his udon. (I know I am quite filled with humility)

N.B. Remember that the sausages and the cheese will have some salt so be miserly with the salt.
The lemon zest adds a zing to the dish and sesame oil takes the flavour another notch up.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sweet beginning...Rava Laddu

I am waiting for the moon and its still not anywhere in sight.Its 8.30 pm here and I have fasted for a total of 24 hrs now. I love the Hong Kong skyline...but tonight its blocking the much awaited moon from my view.Its Karwa Chauth today and I stay in Hong Kong. My second Karwa Chauth (the festival where Indian women fast the whole day long, for the longevity of the husband's life). In my case, my darling husband is also fasting....(although I did trick him into having breakfast, the only meal he has had for the day).Have already gone to the terrace twice and once outside on the road. Finally we decided to board the tram in search of "the moon"...and we did spot it at 10.45 pm. Did my ritual on the road crossing itself. Had the 'prasad' I had made.

Rava Laddu.
Here's the recipe-

1 cup semolina
1/3 tin of condensed milk
a few raisins/sultanas to garnish
1 tsp of cornstarch
1 cup of milk
1/2 tsp of powdered cardamom
2 tbsp ghee for frying

In a deep pan, put ghee (clarified butter) and add semolina.
Keep stirring till the white semolina changes to brown in colour.
Note: Be careful to keep stirring constantly over medium flame or the semolina might burn and become blackish.
Once the semolina is browned, first add half the milk and then add the condensed milk and mix well.
In a separate bowl add the restof the milk and corn starch to form a liquid paste.
Now put this bowl of milk (with corn starch) into the semolina mix in the pan.
Add the cardamom.
Quickly mix everything together. The mix will be somewhat sticky.
Remove from heat. Cool. Then form small ping-pong sized ball, by rolling with hands.
Garnish with raisins. Serve.

N.B. These can be stored for a week in a tight jar.

Thats it for tonight's little episode.'-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Dear Friends,
I finally write my very first blog. Something I have been intending to do for a l-o-n-g time; and its about FOOD. I love cooking food, eating food,shopping for food, reading about food,watching videos on food, learning the history of food. In short anything and everything about food excites me!
I come from a family of foodies and married into another of the same grandmother was a great cook (its tough duplicating the tasty pickles she made).I have learnt a lot from my mom...just by watching and helping her with the chores in the kitchen. Honestly, I hated to be in the kitchen initially.Traditionally in Indian families the girls have to know how to cook, thus the training begins early enough.My early memories remind me of my mom telling me to pray to Goddess Sita (wife of Lord Rama and the Goddess of the Kitchen) when cooking, so that the dish turns out impeccable.I can explain that. In India, we still have arranged marriages;(I am the firt one to have a love you know how many weddings are still arranged by the parents!) and when a young woman goes to her "sasural" ie. in-laws' place; she carries two precious things with her that cannot be stolen--firstly, her character and manners and secondly, her artistry in the kitchen.(We take the adage- "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" quite seriously.) She needs to wow all (especially her husband) with all her cooking. Like I made 'sheera' (a sweet dish made of semolina) for the first time at my in-laws' place. Its a ceremonial thing.
My very first lesson was, that the food should entyce all the senses-sight, sound and smell. It should look as good as it tastes! And one other thing I had learnt frm my mum and I still follow is, when cooking food...cook it with love.Thats' the MOST important ingredient.
On hindsight I am glad I was born into such a family.. India, as we all know is a chef's delight. Its variety in terms of flavours is mind boggling and awe inspiring. I have grown up eating all those small-great stuff.
Its only after getting married that I have really started 'cooking-up-a-storm' in my very own kitchen. (I love the idea of having my 'own' kitchen...silly but it makes me happy). My husband fires my passion further by being a great critic ( though I have to literally force it out of him)
'-) and encourages me to do my best.
I welcome all who share my passion. For the others' ...hang on' you'll get addicted!!