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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Cashew - Walnut Laddu

 Happy Birthday, Srivalli.

Any one who follows my blog might have noticed that I participate in a monthly event called blogging marathon without a miss. Srivalli, a dear blogger buddy who blogs at 'Cooking 4 all Seasons' and 'Spice your Life' is the brain behind that inspiring event. She is a remarkable woman considering that she is a wife & a mother of three, has a full time job, writes two blogs besides being a motivation / sounding board behind the marathon event, that has been successfully running for over five years. She is celebrating her birthday today and some of us who are regular participants of the marathon have thought to surprise her virtually by cooking something from her blog today. Wish you a very happy birthday, Valli and many many happy returns of the day. God bless you and may all your wishes come true.
Some how I have come to associate chocolate bakes, rotis and dals with her blogs even though she really has a good collection of recipes. I spent a good hour going through her recipes but finally decided to go with something sweet to celebrate. It turned out that the preparation and clicking of the dish took a fraction of time that I spent browsing through her blogs. I prepared these easy breezy laddus based on her cashew and almond laddu which took about 5 minutes from start to finish as I used pre-roasted nuts. Even my husband who stays away from sweet dishes tasted one without any prompting and loved it. The laddus were yum but I thought the milk powder flavor is dominant in the dish. If one prefers to change it, the quantity of the nuts in the dish can be increased and sugar quantity needs to be adjusted accordingly.

Ingredients: (Yield 6 laddus)
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup milk powder
3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cardamom powder
2 tbsp. ghee

* Toast cashews and walnuts individually, until they start to change their color. If using toasted nuts, skip the step. Let the nuts cool before proceeding.
* Add all the ingredients to a food processor / blender and grind finely or slight coarsely.
* Transfer the contents onto a plate. Fist about a lime sized portion and shape it into a ball. Repeat the step with the remaining ground mixture.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Eggless Chocolate Mug Cake

Mug cakes are a great option when one is looking to satisfy their sweet tooth with no efforts or time involved. Today's chocolate mug cake is such one treat which takes around three minutes from start to finish. Chocolate based mug cakes have become my daughter's favorite ever since she tasted her first nutella mug cake.
The idea for the recipe comes from here and I had to tweak the recipe after the first trial though it had good reviews on the site. The original version was slightly on the dry side and was bitter for my daughter's tastes.
3 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp. sugar 
1/4 tsp. baking powder
A pinch of salt

3 tbsp. oil
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp. milk

* Combine all the dry ingredients in a microwave safe mug / small bowl. Next add the wet ingredients and mix well to form a
smooth, runny batter.
* Place the mug in the microwave and cook for two minutes. Let it sit for another 30 seconds before serving.
* It can be enjoyed plain or with ice cream / whipped cream.

This is going to be a part of 
1. Blogging marathon #61 and check here to find out what other marathoners are cooking today.
2. Kids' Delight event, hosted by Kalyani this month under the theme 'Chocolate' with a #KidsDelightChocoGiveaway


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Eggless Chocolate Pancakes

When I picked Kids' Delight theme for this week's blogging marathon, I let my daughter know about it since she is fond of chocolate. I wanted to see whether she would prefer any dish in particular and as predicted, she came up with a ton of ideas, of course with her favorite chocolate chip cookies being top on the list. I already have two chocolate cookie recipes that we are all fond of and so I had to scratch them off the list. Her next request was chocolaty pancakes and I came up with this kid-friendly version, loaded with chocolate chips. My kids loved these pancakes and were happy to gobble them up with chocolate syrup instead of maple syrup. Yup some more chocolate and it turns out that a drizzle of chocolate syrup over chocolaty pancakes isn't overkill as I thought it would be. And of course one need not go with maple / chocolate syrup at all. Any other preferred choice of toppings like fruits, butter, honey etc. should work too. 
Ingredients: (Yield 6 pancakes)
1 tbsp. flax meal + 3 tbsp. warm water *
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
* Any substitute for one egg 
* Whisk flax meal and warm water together and leave aside for about 5 minutes.
* Heat a griddle / non stick pan on medium heat such that a drop of water beads when dropped on it.
* Blend the flax meal mixture and the remaining ingredients mentioned above into a thick batter. Leave the chocolate chips if you prefer sprinkling them on the pancakes instead, while preparing them.
* Pour about 1/4 cup batter of batter onto the pan. If chocolate chips was not added to the batter, then sprinkle some on the top. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface and the bottom side turns golden brown. Flip the pancake with a spatula and cook until it is done on the bottom side too. Transfer onto a serving plate. Repeat the steps with the remaining batter.
* Serve the pancakes warm. Top them with chocolate syrup / maple syrup.

These pancakes are going to be a part of 
1. Blogging marathon #61 and check here to find out what other marathoners are cooking today.
2. Kids' Delight event, hosted by Kalyani this month under the theme 'Chocolate' with a #KidsDelightChocoGiveaway.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chocolate Milkshake

My mother over our phone chat the other day was mentioning that the hot summer season is slowly creeping in on them and it is already hot in some parts of India. We on the other side are still in the middle of the winter considering that there will be a few snowfalls even during the spring season. Officially, we are yet a month away from the spring season and need to get past that for the summer season to make it's presence in our parts. In fact, a winter storm is blasting through our region right now as I am drafting this post. We are expecting to cleanup a pile of snow, first thing in the morning tomorrow. A post on hot chocolate would have sounded perfect on the occasion but alas I am here with a chilled milkshake that is chocolaty and yummy. I prepared it yesterday when the sun peeked through and the weather seemed warmer and glorious succeeding a few cloudy, gloomy days. Of course the post wouldn't sound off the season, considering those living on western or southern coasts who seem to have summer weather all year long. :) Besides I had to send it to  'Kids' Delight' event, hosted by Kalyani, this month under the theme 'Chocolate', with a #KidsDelightChocoGiveaway
The recipe is quite a simple one considering that all you do is blend the ingredients together.

Ingredients: (Yield 1 serving)
3/4 cup chilled milk
1/2 cup chocolate ice cream
1 tbsp. chocolate syrup
Chocolate sprinkles(optional)

Blend milk, ice cream and syrup together. Garnish with chocolate sprinkles if using and serve immediately.
Check here to see what other marathoners are cooking for BM #61.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Chai Masala & Masala Chai

 Masala chai is tea brewed with chai masala. Though 'masala chai' and 'chai masala' contain the same words in them, they are not one and the same. The order in which those two words 'chai' and 'masala' are spelled makes all the difference. The word 'Chai' stands for brewed tea in Hindi and many other Indian languages, while 'Masala' refers to the spices/spiciness. 'Masala chai' refers to the spicy tea beverage while "Chai masala' indicates the melange of spices/herbs used to accentuate the flavor quotient in a tea preparation. Chai masala can be store-bought or custom made at home to suit one's taste buds. The quantity of spices/herbs used in a chai masala depends upon individual preference / one's favored spices. One can go with a basic version such as using only ginger and/or cardamom or go with a dozen other herbs and spices. My version is the one I had come up with after a few trials, to suit my husband's preferences. It can be taken as a guideline and the quantity of spices can be changed to suit your needs, as mentioned above. And also I add fresh ginger while preparing tea even though I add the chai masala since my husband prefers a strong ginger flavor.

Ingredients for chai masala:
2 tsp. cardamom pods / about 24 cardamom pods
2 tsp. dry ginger powder
10 cloves
10 pepper corns
1" cinnamon bark

* Add all ingredients to a spice grinder / blender and grind finely. It is not a big deal if you find the cardamom husks not properly ground. Store it in an airtight container and use as needed. 

Ingredients for masala chai: (1 serving)
3/4 cup water
1" peeled and crushed ginger root (optional) 
1.5 to 2 tsp. black tea granules / leaves
1/2 tsp. chai masala or as needed
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. full fat milk
Sugar to taste (or artificial sweetener)

* Add water and ginger to a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.
* Add tea leaves / granules and chai masala. Continue to boil for about 3 to 4 minutes more.
* Next add milk and sugar and continue boiling the mixture until it starts to boil over.
* Pass it through a sieve and serve immediately.
Check here to see what other marathoners are cooking for BM #61.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Adrakwali Chai / Indian Style Ginger Tea

It is not an exaggeration to say that the daily routine in every Indian household starts with boiling a pot of milk. Coffee / tea preparation is the first ritual in every home, every morning and they are prepared with a good dose of milk. Pasteurized milk is not a commonly available ingredient in India and so, the milk gets boiled properly before consumption. You see, everyone including any guests present expect their morning dose of coffee / tea while the kids are fed milk/ sugar-chocolate laden energy drinks. This all happens before serving the breakfast and so, there may be a round 2 coffee / tea session for adults after the breakfast, if time permits. And of course, there is the evening tea / coffee that is served around 4 or 5 pm along with light snacks.  
Coffee was once considered a south Indian drink while tea or chai as it is called in Hindi was associated with North Indians. Now both drinks are extensively consumed all over India and as as I mentioned above, both are milk based beverages. Indians expect a good quality tea / coffee and by default mostly use full fat milk, in portion for the preparation. Again tea preparation is subjective to one's taste preferences. The strength of the brew decides whether the tea is strong / kadak or light / feeki. One may stick to the basic version or may prefer to flavor it with spices / herbs. Tea can be made using milk alone, using milk and water in equal proportions or with more water ratio than milk. I usually go with milk and water in equal proportions whereas my husband uses more water and prefers fatfree milk. 
The basic tea preparation starts with boiling water. An extra amount of liquid need to be added than the final quantity of tea expected since some of the liquid gets evaporated during the tea making process. Black tea leaves / granules are then added to boiling water and allowed to simmer for few minutes before the addition of milk and sugar, the common sweetener used. The whole mixture is boiled some more time for the flavors to build up. The brew is then passed through a strainer and served piping hot. And of course plenty of variations can be created by adding herbs and spices while preparing the brew. Today's version is one such variation, that is based on fresh ginger root which is quite popular and a flavorful one. Besides, the ginger adds a healthy punch.

Ingredients for 1 serving:
3/4 cup water
1 tsp. peeled & grated / crushed fresh ginger
1.5 to 2 tsp. black tea granules (I used Brook Bond Red Label one.)
1/2 to 3/4 cup full fat milk
Sugar / Artificial sweetener to taste

* Add water and ginger to a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.
* Add tea leaves / granules and continue to boil for about 3 -4 minutes more.
* Next add milk and sugar and continue boiling the mixture until it starts to boil over.
* Pass it through a sieve and serve immediately.

Check here to see what other marathoners are cooking for BM #61.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lime Tea

I chose to go with tea recipes under the beverages theme for this week's marathon as I haven't posted even a single coffee / tea recipe on my blog so far. The reluctance on my part was mainly because I am not into either of them. My husband who was a coffee fanatic shifted to tea a few years back and I have become quite good with it in terms of preparation, rotating the variations. At any given time, we have at least half a dozen tea blends along with homemade chai masala even though officially he is the only one who consumes tea in our home.
For today's version, I  used orange pekoe and pekoe cut black tea bags from Rituals. The term orange pekoe has nothing to do with the fruit but it is used in terms of grading the tea leaves. The brew would be a weak one if you follow the package directions, especially if you are used to the desi chai version. My husband usually doubles up the tea proportion and even adds a dash of milk when he uses this blend. For today's version, I went along on the lines of a nimbu chai / lemon tea recipe. I infused the brew with lemon zest to further accentuate the citrusy flavor.
1 cup / 8 oz. water
1/2 tsp. lime zest (or lemon zest)
2 tea bags / 1 to 2 tsp. black tea leaves (Any black tea bags will do.)
Lime juice to taste (Start with a tsp of lime / lemon juice.)
Sweetener of your choice to taste

* Bring water to a boil in a sauce pan. 
* Add the lime zest and black tea leaves and let it boil on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. If using tea bags, place the tea bags in the boiling water and steep for about 3 to 4 minutes. Or adjust the brewing time to your taste. Turn off the stove.
* Stir in the lime juice and sweetener that is being used. taste and adjust the flavors if needed. Pass through a tea strainer and serve.

Check here to see what other marathoners are cooking during Blogging Marathon #61.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Scored Potatoes

If you are an Indian and love the potato fry, then these scored potatoes are for you. Or for that matter, this one is a must try for anyone who loves potatoes. The efforts that go into this tempting dish are very minimal and is a great dish to try for even novice cooks. All that is needed is scoring and seasoning some scrubbed potatoes and popping them in the oven. No babysitting needed and the dish would be ready in an hour. These potatoes can be served with sour cream / salsa but we enjoyed them as it is since I made them spicier. My husband loved them so much that he was asking me to prepare them for our next meal too.

Source: Here
3 medium sized baking potatoes (I used russet potatoes.)
Salt & pepper to taste
Paprika to taste (I used Indian style hot chili powder.)
Oil / butter as needed
1 tbsp. minced cilantro / parsley / any herb of your choice

* Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Grease a baking sheet.
* Wash and scrub the potatoes thoroughly. Dry them and cut them each into halves, lengthwise. Slice each half width wise 5 or 6 times, without cutting all the way through.
* Brush the cut potato halves with oil / butter, on both sides thoroughly. Sprinkle salt, pepper and chili powder or paprika over the tops of potatoes. Finally sprinkle the minced herb that is being used.
* Bake them for about 50 to 60 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. (I baked mine for an hour.)
Check here to see what other marathoners are cooking during Blogging Marathon #61.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Eggless Banana Bread

When I have a tried, tested and family approved recipe for a dish, I usually don't go looking for an alternative. I have already a banana bread recipe that I have been using for quite sometime now. It is a hit even among our guests and so I was contemplating whether I need another recipe when I came across this quick bread. However the tag 'Best Ever' attached to it caught my attention and I decided to try it since the banana bread is always in demand in my home. I tweaked the recipe to make it an eggless version and using overripe bananas as egg substitute also helped to cut down the sugar quantity by half. The resulting bread was a moist and fluffy one and I was glad to try it. It is a great way to utilize those bananas on the hanger, begging to be used. 

1 & 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
4 bananas, mashed (about 1 &1/2 cups)
1/2 cup canola oil
6 tbsp. buttermilk *
1 tsp. vanilla essence
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
* I added some water to fat-free yogurt and blended it.  
* Preheat oven to 325 deg F / 165 deg C. Grease a 9"x5" loaf pan.
* Sift flour, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.
* In another bowl combine sugar, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. 
* Now add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in the nuts.
* Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place it in the preheated oven. Bake for about 60 to 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. (Mine was done in an hour.)
* Remove and cool on a wire rack. Cut into slices and serve. Leftovers can be refrigerated / frozen.

Check here to see what other marathoners are cooking during Blogging Marathon #61.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hearty Potato Soup

I picked a theme as part of the blogging marathon # 61 this week that is based on 'Taste of home - Top 100 recipes of 2015'. I wanted to go with the baking theme for all the three days until I landed on this soup recipe. The person who contributed this recipe seems to have grown on a farm in Holland and mentions that the original recipe uses bacon and heavy cream. Though she has come up with probably a humble version of it, this filling and everyday kinda soup doesn't compromise in the flavor department. I think this is the first soup recipe where I didn't need to do any tweaking to suit our tastes and the other adult at home really enjoyed this hearty,  piping hot soup.  

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 carrot, chopped 
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 & 1/2 cups water
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp. butter / olive oil
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 cup milk + extra if needed
Salt & pepper to taste
* Cook potatoes, carrots and celery in water until tender. Scoop out the cooked vegetables using a slotted spoon and keep them aside. And reserve the liquid too.
* Saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper gradually adding milk. If the mixture becomes lumpy at any point, just pass through a fine sieve. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until it thickens. Gently stir in the cooked vegetables. Add the reserved liquid as needed to reach the desired consistency. (I had to add extra liquid here.)


Friday, February 5, 2016

Parsnip Chutney

Parsnip is a root vegetable that looks like the white version of carrot and is closely related to the latter. However a parsnip has a unique and strong flavor/smell just like the other root vegetables such as kohlrabi and radish which come with their distinct flavors. A parsnip is usually cooked before consuming though it can be eaten raw as well. I thought of using it in a Andhra style chutney today and here is the recipe for it. I used green chillies today though usually I prefer red chillies in these kind of chutneys.

2 cups peeled and grated parsnip
1 to 2 tbsp. oil
2 tsp. split chickpeas / chana dal
2 tsp. black gram / urad dal
1 tsp. coriander seeds / dhaniya
A pinch of fenugreek seeds / methi seeds
4 green chillies / 6 dried red chillies
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp. sized tamarind ball
For seasoning:
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. black gram / urad dal 
A pinch of asafoetida powder 
Few curry leaves 

* Heat oil in a pan and add split chickpeas, black gram, mustard seeds and coriander seeds in that order. When dals start to turn reddish, add fenugreek seeds and chillies. Sauté until fenugreek seeds start to turn darker and add the grated parsnip, turmeric powder, salt and tamarind. On low heat, cook covered until parsnip is cooked tender, about 10 minutes.
* Let the mixture cool and grind coarsely.
* Heat oil in a small pan for the seasoning. Add black gram, mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. When black gram starts to turn reddish, turn off the stove and add it to chutney. Mix well and serve.
* Refrigerate any leftover chutney.

This goes to Blogging marathon #61 under the theme 'Root Vegetables'. Check the link to see what other marathoners are cooking.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Chamagadda Koora

Here is a version of taro root curry from Andhra. Though the fried version is more popular, this is another way taro roots are cooked in our household. It is slightly on the sticky side compared to the fried version but tastes good with a balance of flavors.

2 cups cooked, peeled and roughly chopped taro root / chama gadda
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp.mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. split chick peas / chana dal
1 tsp. black gram / urad dal
1 stalk of curry leaves
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 pinches of asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste
Juice from 1 lime / lemon

* Rinse and scrub the taro roots thoroughly. Cook them adding water in a sauce pan or in a pressure cooker until tender.
* Let them cool a bit and then peel the skin off the roots. Chop them roughly and keep them aside.
* Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, cumin, split chickpeas and black gram. When the dals start to turn reddish, add turmeric, curry leaves and asafoetida and stir. Next add the cooked taro cubes, salt and chili powder. Gently mash the taro roots and mix. Check the taste and adjust the seasonings if any needed. Cook for a couple of minutes more on low flame. Finally add the lemon juice and turn off the stove. Stir once more.
* Serve hot with rice.

This goes to Blogging marathon #61 under the theme 'Root Vegetables'. Check the link to see what other marathoners are cooking.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Gajar Ka Doodh / Carrot Milk

The first time I came across this recipe at Sailu's, I dismissed it thinking as another version of carrot kheer. Thanks to my mother, I have drunk my share of gajar ka kheer growing up, still love it and still prepare it. I happened to notice it again recently under the wiki list of Indian beverages and set out to find what it really is. It turns out it is not actually a kheer but a milk based beverage, on the lines of badam milk aka the almond milk. Not the one used as a substitute for dairy milk but the Indian style flavored beverage based on almonds.
The recipe sounds like almost the kheer at the first glance, going by the ingredients and the method of preparation. However the consistency and the flavor of this milk are way different than the kheer. In fact this delightful surprise tasted almost similar as badam milk, as I mentioned above. It may not be every day choice of drink considering that it takes longer than to whip up a milkshake or to prepare tea / coffee. However it would be a wonderful addition to a brunch or when serving a gathering.  

Ingredients: (2 servings)
3 cups full fat milk
1 clove
1" cinnamon piece
10 cashews and/or almonds
2 small carrots, peeled and cubed (about 1/2 cup carrot cubes)
2 tbsp. khoya / condensed milk
Sugar to taste
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
Crushed nuts to garnish (optional)
* Heat milk in a sturdy bottomed or a non-stick sauce pan. Bring the milk to a boil and add clove and cinnamon. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes. Keep stirring the milk intermittently to avoid scorching.
* Soak cashews and/or almonds in hot water for about 10 to 15 minutes.
* In the meanwhile, steam or microwave the carrots until tender, adding little water. Nuts can also be added along with carrots instead of soaking them in water.
* Grind carrots and nuts together into a fine puree along with the water used to cook them. Add extra water / milk if needed to facilitate grinding.
* Add the ground carrot puree, khoya/condensed milk, sugar and cardamom to the boiling milk. Let it simmer for another five minutes and turn off the stove.
* Discard the clove and cinnamon bark before serving. 
* This can be served hot or chilled. Garnish with nuts if using, before serving.

This goes to Blogging marathon #61 under the theme 'Root Vegetables'. Check the link to see what other marathoners are cooking.