Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Strawberry cake

Can a host be late for the party? No way!!! Well, technically, I am not late....I still have an hour before the deadline. What am I talking about??? Read on to find out!!!
Indira's strawberry-oats cake has been on my mind since I saw it because I love strawberries. But ever since I saw her cake, those little boxes of strawberries that are sold here did a disappearing act. I didn't find a single box of strawberries. Today, as luck would have it, I found that strawberries had made a comeback, and proceeded to buy two boxes. However, these strawberries are not as sweet or as juicy as the ones that were available earlier. These are larger, more sour than sweet, and a darker red. But hey, I am not complaining.
I followed her recipe almost exactly. The only thing I did differently is omit the lime juice as the strawberries themselves were tart. I also substituted walnuts for pecans. I then proceeded to make the cake entirely in the microwave.
I preheated the microwave for 8 minutes, to 175 degrees centigrade and then baked the cake for 45 minutes at 175 degrees. At this point, the sides of the cake and the top browned beautifully and looked perfectly done, but when I checked the middle, there was still a lot of batter left. So, in went the cake, on microwave high for another 3 minutes. This gave me the result that I wanted.
Take a look at the cake.....

It tastes as good as it looks....and I love biting into bits of strawberry while eating the cake.

This is my entry to MEC-Celebrating bloggers, an event started by Srivalli, which is being hosted here this month.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Restaurant style gobi manchurian

Whether you call it Gobi manjoori or gopi manjurien, this is one dish that you'll be hard put to find in an authentic Chinese restaurant. In fact, I clearly remember the patronizing look that a waiter gave me at one of the popular Chinese restaurants here when I asked if they had this dish. He then went on to tell me that they only serve "authentic" Chinese food.
So, how did this Indo-Chinese fusion food that is unique to India originate? A google search yields several viewpoints on how this dish came into being. One site, though, hits the nail on the head when it says that this is one dish that is not South Indian, not North Indian and most certainly not Chinese. Be that as it may, there is no doubt about the popularity of this dish.
I usually follow Meena's recipe that I've talked about in this post, but when I saw a different way of making it in a recent TV show, I just had to try it out.

What you need:
Cauliflower - cut into small florets, 1 cup
Cabbage - 1/2 cup, shredded into long pieces
Onion - 1, chopped
Ginger - a small piece
Garlic - 4-5 cloves
Green chilli - 2 (adjust to taste)
Spring onions - a few, chopped (chop the leaves as well)
All purpose flour - 3/4 cup (I may have used a little more 'coz I just kept adding flour until I felt the consistency was right. So use your judgement)
Rice flour - 1/2 cup
Soya sauce - 3 tbsp (use more if the batter is too dry)
Red chilli sauce - to taste
Oil - for deep frying

Grind the ginger, garlic and chillies into a smooth paste.
Take the cabbage, cauliflower, spring onions and onions in a large, wide mouthed bowl. Add the ground paste to this. Add salt and let it rest for a few minutes. Now add the sauces and mix well. Add the flours little by little, mixing well until the flour is just moistened. The dough should not be very smooth like chapati should be more like the batter that you make for pakodas. You will not need to add any water as the salted vegetables would have released some water and the sauces will also help to bind the flour. Keep this covered until you are ready to make manchurian.
Remember, the longer you let the mixture stand, the more pronounced the flavours will be and the tastier the manchurian. However, if you live in a very hot place, let it stand for an hour or two and then if needed, refrigerate until you are ready to make it.

To make manchurian:
Heat oil in a kadai. Take small portions of the batter and deep fry it in oil until well browned on both sides.
Garnish with spring onion leaves before serving.

Note :
It is very important that the flour should only just be well should not be watery. The vegetables will give out water while the batter rests and this will make it just the right consistency before frying.
While deep frying, keep the flame low so that both the inside and outside are evenly cooked.
This mixture can be refrigerated for up to two days.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Microwave chocolate cake for MEC-Celebrating bloggers

Ever since I saw this eggless chocolate cake on Sowmya's blog,it has been on my must-make list. Finally, MEC-Celebrating bloggers which is being hosted here this month gave me just the nudge that I needed to get into baking mode. I made a few minor changes to Sowmya's recipe. The cake is moist, soft and really,really good. It fills the house with the wonderful aroma of warm cinnamon and oh...... did I tell you just how easy and quick it is to make????

What you need:
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Oil - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Dried fruits and nuts - 1 cup (I used almond,cashew,raisins,and candied fruits)
Milk - 1.5 cups
Overripe bananas - 2
Cocoa powder - 3 heaped tsps
Cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp
Baking powder - 1/4 tsp
Chopped walnuts - a handful

Soak the dry fruits and nuts in hot milk for 30 minutes. Grind this in a blender till smooth. Add the bananas, oil and sugar and blend again.
Transfer this mixture to a large bowl. Add baking powder and cocoa. Mix well. Add the flour little by little and beat until well mixed. Mix in the chopped walnuts.
Pour this into a greased microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 6 minutes. Timing will vary depending on the wattage of your microwave. So keep checking to make sure it doesn't get burned.
Let it rest for a minute in the microwave. Let it cool completely. Ease it out of the bowl, slice and dig in!!!

Reminder : Do send in you entries for MEC-Celebrating bloggers before the 31st of this month.

This is my entry to MEC-Celebrating bloggers, an event started by Srivalli and hosted by me this month.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Aapam is a popular breakfast dish in Kerala and is served with coconut milk and sugar or with a spicy curry like kadala curry or ishtu.
For those who are not familiar with it, aapam is made of fermented rice+dal batter. It is made in a special pan called an aapachatti. An aapachatti or aapam pan is a shallow round pan with a handle on either side. It usually comes with a lid. If you don't have an aapachatti, use a thick bottomed small kadai and a lid that will cover it completely. Cast iron pans were once common but these have now been almost completely replaced by non-stick pans which make things a lot easier.

What you need:
Raw rice - 1 cup
Parboiled rice - 1 cup
Coconut water - from 1 medium sized coconut
Urad dal - a handful
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

Wash the rice and dal well and then soak it along with the fenugreek seeds for 6-8 hours in plenty of water. Drain the water. Add coconut water and salt and grind to a smooth batter. Let it ferment overnight.

To make aapam
If you are using a cast iron pan/kadai, grease it with some oil.
Pour a ladleful of batter in the centre of the pan and then, holding the handles on either side of the pan, swirl the batter around so that it spreads into a circle that is thick and spongy in the middle and thin at the edges. Lower the flame. Cover it with the lid and let it cook until the edges start leaving the sides of the pan and become slightly brown.
Slowly ease the aapam out of the pan.
Serve hot with kadala curry.

Note :
Some people use yeast/toddy and coconut milk instead of coconut water. I find that coconut water gives me the best results and the aapam smells much better.
Leftover rice, if you have any, can be added while grinding the batter for softer aapams.

This is my entry to JFI-Breakfast which is being hosted by Suma for Indira and to Priya's Pancakes event.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Microwave carrot halwa

A few days back, my daughter(the little girl referred to as LG in my other blog) and her friend were playing, when this conversation started.
Friend : Do you eat chicken?
LG : No, I don't
Friend : We don't eat chicken 'coz we are brahmins
Lg : Repeats what the friend said
I was left speechless.
A small,innocent conversation between a four year old and a five year old left me wondering if the divide that religion creates in our minds will ever be bridged.
The LG has no idea what a Brahmin is or for that matter what a Hindu, a Christian or a Muslim is. To her, a temple is a place where the respective God is prayed to and a Church is a temple where people pray to Jesus.
The conversation that got me thinking deeply was promptly forgotten by the two kids as soon as the microwave beeped, signaling that LG's favourite carrot halwa was ready.

What you need:
Grated carrot - 3 cups
Sugar - 1 cup
Milk - 1 cup
Ghee - 2-3 tsps
Almonds - 1/4 cup, thinly sliced
Raisins - 1/4 cup (soaked for a few minutes in water, to plump them up)

Take the grated carrots, sugar and milk in a large, microwaveable dish. Smooth the carrots down with a spatula to make sure that it is completely immersed in the milk. Heat on microwave high for 12 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and heat for another fifteen minutes on high, stirring the halwa every five minutes to ensure even browning.
Tastes delicious eaten hot off the oven or cold.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kadala (Chickpeas) curry

Kadala curry is one of my favourite breakfast accompaniments. Hot, steamed puttu or lacy aapam served with some spicy kadala curry is my idea of a perfect breakfast. Despite the fact that both my husband and mother tell me in no uncertain terms that puttu tastes like mud, they are quite fond of kadala curry. Kadala curry is nothing but brown chickpeas cooked and then simmered in a gravy of spices, onions, tomatoes and coconut.

What you need:
Brown chickpeas - 1 cup, soaked overnight and cooked
Onion - 1 large, chopped into large chunks or a handful of shallots, peeled
Tomato - 3, juicy ripe ones, chopped into big pieces
Ginger - a small piece
Red chilli - 3 (adjust to taste)
Corriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Cardamom - 3 pods
Grated fresh coconut - 1/4 cup.
Coconut oil - 4 or 5 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

Heat oil in a pan. Fry the red chillies, cardamom and corriander seeds. When they are nicely browned, add in the ginger and chopped onions and fry until translucent. Now add the grated coconut and heat till it turns reddish brown. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and fry until they soften. Once this cools, add salt and grind to a smooth paste adding water as needed.
Heat a tsp of oil in the pan. Add a tsp of mustard seeds and a handful of curry leaves. Once the seeds pop, transfer the ground mixture back to the pan, add the cooked chickpeas(along with the water in which it was cooked) and some turmeric powder and let it boil for about 8-10 minutes.

I like the curry to be slightly thick, which is why I boil it for so long. Most people make it quite watery and if that's how you prefer it, just heat it for a few minutes so that the chickpeas absorb the flavour of the spices and then serve.

Do remember to send me your entries for MEC-Celebrating bloggers before the 31st of the month.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Adai (savoury lentil crepe)

A typical South Indian dish, almost every household has its own recipe for adai. This is a very forgiving recipe in the sense that if you don't have any of the ingredients, you can leave it out and still come up with a decent adai. Once my aunt omitted rice and made this with just pulses and it still tasted great.
Any lentil that you like can be added to it.

What you need:
Parboiled rice - 1 cup
A handful each of:
Chana dal
Urad dal
Moong dal(whole or in the absence of it, broken)
Tuar dal
Masoor dal
Whole kabuli chana/brown chana
Black eyed beans
Cilantro stalk
Curry leaves
A tsp each of:
Fenugreek seeds
Cumin seeds
Whole black pepper (adjust to taste)

Red chillies - a few, according to your spice tolerance
Asafoetida - a marble sized piece (a heaped tsp if you are using the powder)

Soak all the ingredients except the asafoetida, corriander and curry leaves in plenty of water for 5-6 hours. If you are not using whole chana and black eyed beans, about 3-4 hours of soaking will do.
Drain the water. Add salt, asafoetida, corriander stalk and curry leaves. Grind together to a coarse paste adding water as required. The batter should be slightly thicker than regular dosa batter.
Set this aside for about 8 hours (takes much less time in hotter places) to ferment.
While it can be made without fermenting,it tastes better when fermented.

Heat a dosa griddle. Stir the batter well and pour a ladleful on the griddle. Spread into a circle. Drizzle some oil over it and cook both sides until brown and crisp.

Serving suggestions:
This can be paired with Avial, Karuveppila thogayal, tangy tomato chutney, or shallot(ulli) sambar.

This is my entry to My Legume Love Affair hosted for Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook by Superchef at Mirch Masala.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Announcing MEC - Celebrating bloggers

Some time back, I wrote a post asking people what made them blog? The reasons, as some blogger friends commented, ranged from sheer love for blogging to the happiness that comments bring. Whatever the reason maybe, the one common thread that ran through all the comments is the dedication of the bloggers and their absolute love for connecting with like minded people through their weblog.
We bloggers deserve a pat on the back for managing home, career, kids and still finding time to blog about the food that we put on our family's table and umpteen other things.
What does all this have to do with MEC- The microwave easy cooking event conceptualized by Srivalli and hosted by me this month? Well, we are going to celebrate our fellow bloggers this month. There's no better way to do it than by cooking something from their blogs and telling them how much we love it.
Here's what you have to do - Choose a vegetarian recipe from another blog. It could be something that the other blogger has made using the stove top or microwave. Adapt it so that it can be cooked completely in the microwave. Cook, click and post.

The rules are pretty simple:
1. Cook anything from another blog and write about it on your blog between now and March 31st. Please stick to vegetarian recipes (no eggs).
2. Remember, the entire cooking must be done in the microwave, though a blender/food processor can be used for grinding.
3. Please link back to this announcement and also to Srivalli's event link.
4. I will accept older entries as long as you repost and link back to this announcement and to Valli's rules.
5. Multiple entries are welcome.
6. Don't let not having a blog stop you from participating. E-mail your recipe to me with a photo and I'll include it in the round-up.
7. Send in your entries, with your name, recipe URL and picture of the dish (300x300) to
Please mention MEC-Celebrating bloggers in the subject line
8. Feel free to use the logo