Thursday, April 14, 2016

3Ingredient Eggless Nutella Wholewheat Cookies

​The last year has been a year of new things and fantastic changes for me. A blissful new life with the one I love, a new city, a new home, new jobs, taking a stand and getting out of toxic environments and another job that is, till now, all about extreme hard work and even more fun. I've celebrated festivals in differently, made my Ganesh ​​murti from scratch, gave Saraswati a new place to sit and hit it out of the park on Diwali. I've started my own tiny little chocolate-making venture, had a lovely exhibition and am taking it forward. What a beautiful year of differences it has been! 



Today is a special day for us Bengalis. It's our new year, the first day of Boishakh of the year 1423. I wish everyone a wonderful year ahead! It's a day of new clothes, scrumptious Bengali feasts, sweets, music, joy and love.

Now in-keeping with what I wrote above, this too im celebrating with a difference. You see, in many families, today sweets are made at home to be served and distributed. With me, I'm doing it differently. I'm celebrating with the quickest and easiest cookies I've ever made.

That's right. I'm celebrating with 3 Ingredients Eggless Nutella Wholewheat Cookies. It's simply a matter of mixing Nutella (or peanut butter or any such), flour and 1egg, or a replacement for 1 egg. This was done in 20 min flat from organising the stuff to taking it out of the oven to cool.

Without further ado, here's the recipe for this dense chewy nuggets of nutty goodness.

3 Ingredient Eggless Nutella Wholewheat Cookies

What you need:
  • 1 cup Nutella 
  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour. I used 1 scant cup of whole wheat flour.
  • 1 egg or replacer. I used a flaxseed egg (1 tbsp flaxseed powder mixed with 3 tbsp water, mixed and kept till it reaches a glutinous texture)
The How:
  • In a mixer or by hand, mix the 3 ingredients together. Don't use a whisk, it'll get stuck inside and it will be messy. Use a spatula.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. 
  • Take out small balls of the dough and place on a baking sheet or silicon mat.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes. It may be slightly soft in the centre. 
  • Then cool on a wire rack, it will crisp up there.
  • And that's it!
Have a wonderful and happy year ahead everyone!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Apple Thandai Gujiya and Homemade Khoya

This is going to be a short one.

Holi. And apples.

The twain meet in the belly of a soft, flaky gujiya. That Holi staple, beautifully pleated, golden brown with a hint of saffron. Signalling happy times, colours, stained skin for days and weigh gain, that we don;t care about.

Which is exactly what I made, when Washington Apples sent me a beautiful box of Fuji, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp and Red Delicious apples. It had been a long LONG week, starting last Monday with no weekend, a really strenuous time. But this gujiyas could not be put off, because I am going home for Holi!



Now be warned, this is not a calorie friendly recipe. I consciously made it deep-fried and in maida because the whole wheat and baked version did not scream Holi to me. It was too sanitised, too conscious. Holi is a time for absolute abandon of inhibitions. And the whole year is left to make good on our fitness and diet ambitions. Just for this day, let's let it go.

It is however, very very conscious when it comes to purity of the ingredients. Awesome apples, dry fruits. This is pure khoya or mava or evaporated milk, because I made it myself. And before you think it, no, it wasn't the long route of over the fire. It easier, made in a microwave. That recipe is up here too. You simply cannot trust the quality of the khoya you get at dairies.

So without further ado, here's the recipe for Apple Gujiya, and Homemade Khoya. You easily double or halve the recipe. There's also a variation where you dip it in 1 string sugar syrup, but I chose not to.


Apple Gujiya
Recipe adapted from Veg Recipes of India
Makes about 40

What you need:
  • 4 cups of maida
  • 2/3 cups of ghee
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 cups of crumbled khoya if using ready made (see notes below for homemade recipe)
  • Chopped nuts, about a cup
  • 2 chopped apples
  • Ginger powder, a couple of tsp
  • Cinnamon Powder, a couple of tsp
  • Bottled Thandai concentrate (optional)
  • Sugar about 5 tbsp, depending on how sweet the apples are and how sweet you want the gujiya to be.
  • Oil for deep frying.

The How:
  • For the dough, if you're doing this free-hand, then rub the flour and ghee till it resembles crumbs. Or pulse the flour and ghee in the food processor.
  • Slowly add the water, you may or may not need the full amount, and knead till the dough comes together. Knead it for a bit till it becomes smooth, then cover and keep till ready to use.
  • Ina  heavy pan, toss together the apples and sugar for about 10-12 minutes on a low flame.
  • Add the nuts, spice powders and mix, then add the khoya. After some time the khoya will begin to melt.
  • Once it comes together, add the thandai concentrate if using, mix, switch off the flame and let it cool.
  • Tear out medium sized balls of the dough. Roll out into a round that is not too thick or thin. This is because while you don't want your gujiya to be doughy, you also don't want the covering to burst or rip. Store them on a plate, covered.
  • Now take one at a time, put a couple of spoonsful (or howmuchever you see fit) on one half of the circle, leaving a good border around it.
  • Now wet the edges with a little water, and take the other half and close the gujiya. Seal the borders with your finger.
  • If you can make a pleated pattern, go ahead. If you can't like me, pressing a fork to the edges will do just fine.
  • Repeat for all, and keep on a plate, covered. Make sure they don't touch, they might and tear otherwise.
  • Now heat oil, when the oil starts smoking then reduce the heat a bit, and fry each of the gujiyas one by one or two at a time if there's enough room in the kadhai till they're golden brown.
  • Take out on a paper towel lined plate and repeat.

Notes:
  • Always keep the dough covered, they tend to dry out quickly.
  • There's tons of pleating techniques online, it would be awesome if you tried them out!
  • Recipe for Khoya:
  • You need one cup of cream and one cup of milk powder. Mix it well in a microwave safe bowl. Micro it for 1 minute at high power. Take it out and stir it. Repeat till the khoya stage is achieved. It might take 8, 9, 10 cycles. It will thicken once done, so best to leave it slightly soft. Remember to stir every single time, and do not put it for more than 1 minute to hasten the process.

That's it!

May your Holi be absolutely glorious, yummy and totally fun!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Spiced Seedy Wholegrain Healthy Crackers

What's that one thing you do while you're working?

Music? Nibbling? Silence? Meditative sounds? Drinking water? Daydreaming?

Hit "check" for me on three of those. Music, nibbling and daydreaming.

I absolutely NEED my jaw to keep moving while I'm working. And I can no longer afford savoury or sweet snacks that are not remotely healthy for us. I, and I'm sure we, need something to snack on that healthy, or at least not unhealthy for us.

Oh boy do I have some news for you.

Presenting my flaky, crispy Whole Wheat, Flax meal and Bajra Crackers with Sesame, homemade Milagai Podi and Curry leaves. Kneaded with ghee and water-milk mix. That's a whole lot of health to take in at once.



So there's the base, that atta+bajra flour, which I use in my day to day life as well. I added about a teaspoon-and-a-half of flaxmeal into this. About a tablespoon of homemade idli milagai podi, that smoky nutty fiery powder served alongside many south Indian foods, to add ghee to and slurp (the recipe of which is coming soon). With flakes of crispy curry leaves from my garden to add the finishing touches on a distinctly south-Indian flavoured snack. Now this is mixed with ghee, not butter. And to top it off, it is kneaded with a mix of water and milk. The result is little bites of flaky, crispy crackers, with tons of fibre and healthy fats. A few keeps you full for a long time, as I discovered on a late work night. It is impossible to stop eating this.

Whole Wheat, Flax meal and Bajra Crackers with Sesame, Podi and Curry leaves
Recipe adapted from Sharmi's Passions

You need:
  •  1 cup of flour (you can use whole wheat, or maida (APF))
  • 5 tbsp of ghee, solidified but soft
  • 1 tbsp toasted or raw sesame seeds (black or white)
  • 1.5 tsp flaxmeal (optional)
  • 1 twig of curry leaves, washed and torn
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1.5 tbsp of milagai podi (you can use store-bought, or even omit it. Reduce ghee to 4.5 tbsp if omitting)
~you can add any seeds or spices of your liking, these are just suggestions~
  • Salt, as per taste (podi contains salt so adjust accordingly)
  • Sugar, a few grains
  • 4 tbsp liquid. Now this can be a mix of any or all of milk and water. The total should come to 4 tbsp.
The How:
  • I did this in a food processor, but you can do this by hand. Pulse the flour and ghee till it resembles bread crumbs. Do not over process it, the ghee will melt and the dough will be tough to handle.
  • Add the flaxmeal, sesame, curry leaves, podi, chilli powder, salt, sugar and pulse for a few seconds till mixed.
  • Now add the liquid a little at a time to make a stiff dough.
  • Take out on to a floured surface, and roll till about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Now you can cut it up in whatever shape, in squares, or use a small cookie cutter. Don't use cutters that are too large, the charm of bite sized snacks will be lost :)
  • Preheat the oven to 180 celsius, and bake these on a butter paper or silicon sheet for 15-20 minutes.
  • The thinner the cookies, the crispier they will be. When you're taking them out, they might seem a little soft, but they'll crisp up once out. Do not overbake!

And they're done!

These are delicious, surprisingly filling and will drastically cut your need for any savoury unhealthy snacks.

Till the next time!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cilantro Curryleaf Green Chilli Chicken

Chicken is my life. It's my reason for living. In any form. Tandoori. Tikka. Not KFC (ew no). Kababs. Grills. Tenders. Strips. Roasts. Gravies. Bakes. Shredded. Meatballs. On the bone. Without bone. On pizzas. As sausages. As keema. In patties. In pastas. In burgers. In soups. In salads. In gravies. In rolls. In sandwiches. In a ragu. In my face.

And I love cooking with it. It's just so easy and so quick and so ridiculously versatile. Any gravy or sauce would do. Butter garlic? Mushrooms? Tomato? Butter chicken? Thai green? Thai Red? Green Indian? Bengali style? Soups? With that in mind, and a HUGE bunch of coriander wilting away in the fridge, I embarked upon the journey of making Coriander Curry Leaf Green Chicken. Luscious, green and consider it healthy for the amount of greens you are consuming, and how little oil there is.

Now look, in this entire debate of breast meat vs thigh meat, I will always, till my dying breath side with thigh meat. It's soft, moist and layered with its own juices, and just so amazingly flavourful. Breast meat is a piece of an eraser, unchewable and tasteless and dry. So I'm going to go with thigh meat here in this recipe. Preferably bone-in because that's the best, but boneless thighs cut up into nuggets is good too.


Coriander Curry Leaf and Green Chilli Chicken
Recipe adapted from Uma's Kitchen Experiments

You need:
  • 800 gms boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • a bunch of cilantro leaves
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1 capsicum
  • 1 small tomato chopped.
  • 1 large onion or 2 medium onions finely diced.
  • Cumin seeds 1 tsp
  • 1 tsp coriander powder.
  • A handful of fresh green chillies
  • Juice of 1 whole lemon
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • Salt
  • Chilli powder
  • Ginger and garlic, minced together, 4 tsp

The How:
  • Wash and drain the chicken pieces. Add the lemon juice, salt, chilli powder, 2 tsp of the ginger garlic mince and mix well. Let it marinate for at least 30 min.
  • Till then, separate the cilantro leaves from the root, wash very thoroughly and chop it up roughly.
  • Separate the curry leaves from the stem and wash thoroughly. Wash the chillies and the capsicum and dice them as well.
  • In a blender, add the cilantro leaves, curry leaves, chillies and capsicum. Add just a splash of water, and blend till very finely ground into a paste.
  • Now in a kadhai, add 2 tbsp of oil. Let it heat.
  • Once it's smoking, reduce the heat and add the cumin seeds.
  • Once they splutter, add in the onions and one slit green chilli. Fry till soft.
  • Add the rest of the ginger garlic mince and fry till the raw smell is gone.
  • Add the chicken along with any marinade, and stir to coat it.
  • Cover and leave on a low flame for about 10-15 minutes. Keep stirring once in a while.
  • Once the chicken is half done, add the tomato and the coriander powder. You can add more chilli powder if you like your food really hot. I left it out. Mix well.
  • Once the raw smell of the spices go, add the green paste. Mix well to incorporate.
  • Cover again and cook on low flame till chicken is completely done. Taste to adjust for salt.
  • And done! Serve hot with rotis or rice.

That's it!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Vegan Wholewheat Nutty Banana Bread

Ah that story.

When you want to eat healthy, start eating stuff that's better for me, and you get whole grain everything, vegetables, nothing with processed sugar, good proteins, convince yourself not to pick up the giant pack of Twix bars behind the counter, and pick up a bunch of fruits, including bananas, which you read somewhere is a superfruit and eating it will solve all of life's problems including but not limited to waist expansion, despite the fact that you hate its mushy guts.

Then you end up eating everything, except those damned bananas. You're sorry, nothing can make you eat a banana. Its mushy, it's got the thread thingies and the butt of a banana is something even Satan apologizes for. Its very presence in a fruit salad lowers the TQ (taste quotient) of the whole bowl. So yes, by now you figure that I kind of don't really like bananas.

But you've bought 6, eaten 2, and 4 are left, steadily getting riper and stinking up the kitchen. You need to use those up, because yuck as they may be, you'll be damned if you let good money go into the bin. So you make a Vegan Wholewheat Nutty Banana Bread out of it, because strangely, your hatred for bananas doesn't extend to a piece of warm, pillowy wedge of banana bread. Funny.



Vegan Wholewheat Nutty Banana Bread
makes one 6-inch round cake
All measurements are American standard

You need:
  • 4 medium sized bananas, very ripe
  • 11/2 cups, or 180 gms atta or wholewheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of any odourless white oil (sunflower, rice bran, or even coconut oil. DO NOT use sesame oil)
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tsp good fresh baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • a splash of vanilla
  • a pinch of cinnamon powder
  • a handful of toasted and chopped walnuts preferably, or almonds. You can substitute with chocolate chips as well.
  • a handful of pumpkin seeds or whole walnuts/almonds for topping (optional)

The How:
  • Preheat your oven to 180 C. Grease a loaf pan or a round cake pan.
  • Peel and chop the bananas, and mash it well with a potato masher, or blend it in a blender. Make sure there are absolutely NO lumps. Some stringy bit are fine.
  • Add the sugar and mix it.
  • Add in the oil and mix it so it gets incorporated.
  • Add the vanilla essence into this mix.
  • Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda into it. Now fold it in gently so that the batter doesn't let out the air we've put into it so far. 
  • Add the nuts, fold in gently again. The texture will right now be halfway between a dough and a batter.
  • Now pour into the cake pan, and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds or nuts on top.

  • Bake for at least 30 minutes. Oven differ so it might take more time. Test with a toothpick, and bake in 5 min additional bursts if necessary.
  • Unmould and let cool. 



And that's it! Whenever you eat this, remember to warm it a bit, it tastes best then. Maybe put a smidge of butter or a scoop of ice cream? :D

Till the next time!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cinnamon Clove Chunky Apple Jam


You guys know right, what I feel about fruit?

I hate fruits.

People seem to think they're the tastiest things not to mention healthy. I seem to have an aversion to all fruits barring lychees. Especially bananas and apples. Bananas with yellow goopy insides with strings and what-not and apples with weird sandy interiors that aren't even very juicy. My hatred of fruits seem to be correlating with strange phenomena of previously well-fitted pants not fitting anymore. Strange.

With R being the exact opposite, (he loved fruits so much I swear he's a monkey), there are times when there are fruits in the house that's leftover, and I've sworn not to eat them. Bananas, apples, grapes. Overripe bananas I use in banana breads. Overripe grapes I give to the birds, that's way past redemption. And extra apples. Those I turn into my special Cinnamon and Clove Chunky Apple Jam. A bottle of  100% natural Apple Jam, chunky and spiced with warming flavours of cloves and cinnamon. You know what is going into it. Zero preservatives. Not only is it incredibly delicious (like I-can't-believe-I-made-this delicious), but it's also ridiculously easy. All you need is patience. And apples.

Presenting my Cinnamon and Clove Chunky Apple Jam.



Cinnamon and Clove Chunky Apple Jam
You need:
  • 2 apples. I used 1 and a half normal sized pink-and-yellow apples.
  • Sugar. Crystal or castor, doesn't matter. It's difficult to give the quantity. If it's a sweet apple like Washington apples, you need less. For what I used, the slightly tangy apples, I used about 9-10 tbsp sugar.
  • 1 large stick of cinnamon broken in half, 
  • 1 dash of cinnamon powder
  • 5-6 cloves. 
  • A teaspoon of lemon juice.

The How:
  • Peel and core the apples, and chop them up as finely and small as you can. Don't make a paste of it, not even if you want a non-chunky jam. Just chop it fine. Tip into a pan. 
  • Add the spices. 
  • Add the sugar. Add just a touch of water. Maybe a tablespoon. 
  • Put it on the flame. High for a while, then when the mix gets all watery, medium-low, on the lower side. 
  • Keep stirring, not continuously, but frequently. The point is to wilt the apples.
  • After a point you'll feel "why the h*** aren't the apples melting down? Have they started? Maybe, I don't know!" But keep patience, it takes time. 
  • After a long while, you'll notice some apples beginning to turn slightly brown and limp. That's what we are waiting for. That's when it starts to melt down. 
  • From that point on, keep picking up the larger pieces and poking at them with a knife. Even if it feel soft, it's nor done until its brownish and limp. 
  • When 95% of the pieces are wilted and cooked, take it off the flame. 
  • Very carefully and keeping any exposed part of your hands or face away and covered, stick a blender in the pan to blend til your desired level of chunkiness. Please be VERY careful here, it'll throw up bits and pieces of VERY hot sugar and apple, and you don't want to get some on your hands (as I did). 
  • Once you have your favoured consistency, put it back on the heat and stir. 
  • You'll be able to tell when it's done as far as texture goes. It'll be all nice and sticky. Don't let it become too stiff to stir because it'll stiffen further in the fridge. 
  • Add a bit of lemon juice and stir it in. 
  • Keep a glass jar washed and completely dried. 
  • Very carefully, ladle the jam into the jar. 
  • Now keep the jar on your kitchen table, under a running fan, unlidded. We need to let it cool before we cap it. Just keep a large net or something on top. 
  • Once it cools to bare warmth, put it unlidded in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes. It will completely cool. 
  • Then cap tightly and store. It should be good for at least 2 weeks. Mine did in the fridge in humid Mumbai weather.
Have it with ANYTHING. Toasted bread, pancakes, toasted cake slices, or right off the spoon! It's so good, you'll get fruit just to do this!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

No-Bake Eggless Fudge-n-Biscuit Freezer Cake

Everyone has that one person in their lives who, if possible, would live in a house made of chocolate, with furniture made of chocolate, and nibbling their way through it, on a planet made of chocolate, nibbling their way through that as well. I have one in my life too. The permanent roommate, R. He loves chocolate, possibly more than he loves me. And while he's not picky, for him, the darker the chocolate the better it is.


I'm not that much a chocolate lover myself. You see the way I see it......

Pfft. Nah I couldn't say that even in jest. Oh who am I kidding. I love chocolate. In any form. Bars. Chips. Hot chocolate. Chocolate milkshakes. Brownies and cakes. Ice cream. Chocolate coated strawberries and nuts. Frosting. Ganache. Compound. Coverture. Absolutely in any form. Which brings me to the best chocolate dessert I've not only ever had, but also made. It's an absolute sellout, and is my MOST requested item after my Horlicks cookies.

The No-Bake Eggless Fudge-n-Biscuit Freezer Cake. Rubbles of biscuits spread carelessly through dense rich dark chocolate fudge. If you want, rum, raisins, and/or nuts may be in attendance in that fudgy goodness as well. It's soft, yet dense. Chewy yet melt in the mouth. It's definitely eggless. The prep time is less than 15 minutes, the setting takes overnight. The biscuits soften but don't turn to mush when you eat it. It's the perfect birthday cake for anyone who's not too fond of cake. And it's also automatic portion control, since one slice of this is enough to satiate a person. Although, people (and by people I mean R and I, and a few friends) have been known to have more than a slice in one sitting, and finishing the rest clandestinely for breakfast. R, my love, you think I don't know, but I do. After all, half the cake couldn't have disappeared in one night!


Things to remember: Every ingredient at room temperature unless otherwise specified. Always.

No-Bake Eggless Fudge-n-Biscuit Freezer Cake

You need:
  • 500 gms of compound dark chocolate. I use Morde. If you want you can use milk chocolate, but the flavour doesn't pop that much.
  • 250 ml cream. I've used Amul cream.
  • A full large single sleeve of Marie biscuits or ginger biscuits. These are usually eggless. Don't use sweet biscuits.
  • 2 large bowls, one in the shape in which you want the cake.
  • Plastic wrap or foil, I use foil.
  • Toasted chopped nuts, rum-soaked raisins, and additional liquor or coffee if you want.
The How: 
  • Chop up the chocolate into a little less than bite sized pieces. Pour it all in one bowl.
  • In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the cream till tiny bubbles appear on the sides. Turn off the heat. If you have any additional liquors/coffee to be added, add it in the cream then heat.
  • Pour the cream on the chocolate. Let it stay like that for at least 5 minutes. Don't stir now.
  • Till then, pack all the biscuits in a ziploc bag and break them into smaller bits with a rolling pin. Don't reduce it to powder. Just break them into smaller bits. (See the picture to get an idea)
  • 5 minutes later, give it a stir with a spatula. All the chocolate should have melted. If not, put it in the microwave for 15 second bursts, or heat over a double boiler.
  • When completely melted, it should have turned shiny. It will be flowing but only if pushed, but not at all runny.
  • Add the biscuits and nuts if any. Stir to combine thoroughly.
  • In the bowl which you will set this in, line it carefully with foil. Make sure there are no tears, and every corner is moulded properly.
  • Pour the ganache into the mould and push it with a spatula into every corner and to flatten the surface. Tap it a couple of times on the counter to release any air pockets.
  • Take a large piece of plastic wrap or foil, and cover the surface, touching it. As in put the wrap on the surface and flatten it with your hands to completely cover it and make a flat surface. 
  • Put it in the freezer overnight or 4-6 hours.
  • At least 2-3 hours before consumption, take it out into the normal fridge area.
  • When unmoulding, take off the flat foil first. Pick out any torn bits carefully.
  • Now overturn the bowl on your serving plate. Take off the moulded foil slowly and ever so carefully. Pick out any torn bits.
  • Put it back into the fridge till consumption.
That's it! You can divide it into individual serving bowls or smaller bowls as well.

This will be the tastiest dessert you've ever made. And it's impossible to stuff up.

Till the next time!

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