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!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Matar Paneer

Hi! Here I am, again, to give ideas for quick, and non-labourious meals to chow down while watching Masterchef Australia after a hard day at work!

One of the mains that really rescues me is paneer. It's tasty, so very versatile, healthy, filling, inexpensive and readily available, or very easily made at home. And you can make it with anything. Capsicum? Done. Nuts? Done. Tomatoes? Done. Mashed up with some mayo and stuffed into a sandwich? Done done done.

My favourite is, however, the quintessential Indian paneer dish, Matar Paneer. The recipe that every non-Indian around the world replicates to mop up with naans and calls it Indian exotic food. The recipe that so many Indians, no matter where they are, replicate when they miss Ma ke haath ka khana. Soft cubes of paneer, fried crisp or not, in a surprisingly light tomato-and-onion based broth like gravy, studded with green peas. It takes not more than a half hour, and goes well with everything.

Presenting, Matar Paneer, from the Lahiri-Khanna kitchen:

Matar Paneer
serves 2 for 2 meals

You need:
  • 250-300 gm paneer
  • a handful of peas, washed (you can increase or decrease this to your liking)
  • 1 large tomato or 2 small tomatoes, cut into cubes or ketchup (please refer to recipe notes at the bottom of the post)
  • 2 medium onions, minced into a paste
  • 1/2 tsp haldi or turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp kashmiri mirch or chilli powder for colour
  • 1/2 tsp deghi mirch or chilli powder for heat
  • 1 tiny pinch of jeera powder or cumin powder
  • Salt and sugar
  • Warm water
  • Oil

The How:
  • Cut the paneer into cubes, not too small but not too large either. If you want, fry these till golden around the edges. I prefer non fried.
  • In a kadhai, heat oil. When hot, lower the flame to medium and add the onions. Fry till pinkish.
  • Add the cubed tomatoes or an equivalent amount of ketchup. Stir and fry on medium-high heat.
  • When the raw smell of the onion leaves and it smells sweet and fried, add turmeric and chilli powders. 
  • Mix well and add the peas. Toss to coat the peas in the masala. Season with salt and sugar.
  • After about 1 minute, add the paneer cubes. Very gently mix so that the masala coats the cubes well.
  • Continue gently mixing for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the warm water, stir everything and let it come to a gentle boil.
  • Let it boil for at least 2 minutes, then turn off the flame.
  • Turn out into the serving bowl, and serve hot with a dollop of butter on top.

Recipe notes:
You can add ketchup in place of tomatoes in this and any other gravy, in case anyone in your family isn't allowed to have tomatoes for health reasons like uric acid, etc.

That's it! You can enjoy this with anything, rotis, parathas, rice, leftover pulao or even bread.

Till the next time!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Coffee Bailey's No-Churn Ice Cream

So. Summer's here eh?


There isn't a minute here in Mumbai when I don't feel like I'm being boiled. It's ridiculous, and for the first time, I'm wondering what have we humans done to this planet? Seasons are all over the place, rainfall schedules are about as dependable as IRCTC, droughts and floods happening at the same time in different parts of the world, pollution simply going through the roof, ruined crops. What have we done to this world? Is there time to make it better? Or is it too late?

But then I notice the bowl of Eggless, No-Churn, creamy Coffee Ice Cream with a serious hit of Hazelnut Bailey's Irish Creme, and all thought goes right out of the window,

This ice cream may just be the best I've had all my life. And I'm not just saying because I've made it. I mean imagine this. Strong Kerala coffee, that you drink from that small cup, milky and frothy, being converted into a popsicle. Cold and smooth. And added to that, you spike it with a good splash of sweet nutty Hazelnut Bailey's Irish Creme. So every nibble of the popsicle introduces your tastebuds to the cold creamy flavour of strong sweet coffee and that mild warmth of Irish creme.

Now this recipe is easy. Easy peasy. You don't need an ice-cream maker. It's infinitely customizable. You don't need to use your elbow grease to churn it. It's eggless. And it uses the stuff that you will be guarantee take not more than 30 minutes to source, and that includes the phone call to the grocery dude.

Presenting, my Eggless, No-Churn, Coffee Ice Cream with Bailey's Irish Creme.

Adapted from Cooking and Me
Makes enough for 6 kulfi-sized popsicles, and a bowl full about 500 ml

You need:
  • 1 can condensed milk, that would be about 400 gm
  • 2 200 ml tetrapacks, that's 400 ml
  • 1 cup very strong coffee, brewed then cooled down. Add only a sprinkling of sugar in this while brewing. You can substitute this with 1 cup of fruit pulp as well.
  • 2 capfuls of Bailey's Irish Creme (you can avoid this if you want to make it non-alcoholic)
  • 2 tsp of butterscotch flavouring, if you have it, else ignore.

The How:
  • In a blender with a tall jar, add the cream. Add only a little bit of the water in the pack, discard the rest. Blend it well till it's thicker than before. But don't overblend it, else it'll split. If it doesn't turn thicker, don't worry, just continue anyway.
  • Add the condensed milk. When you open the can and try to take out every drop of the liquid, PLEASE use a spoon or something. Don't use your finger, the edge of the can might slice into your finger and it'll be ugly, bloody and painful. You might even need to get a tetanus shot in case it's rusty.
  • Blend the cream and condensed milk well.
  • Add in the flavouring, the Irish Creme and the coffee. Hold the lid of the blender well and blend.
  • Turn out into a large bowl, with enough space left over. Cover with foil or cling wrap and freeze overnight. Now I say overnight because the alcohol will prevent it from completely freezing, it will be more like a frozen slush. If you're not using alcohol, 6-7 hours undisturbed might just be enough.
  • When frozen, scoop it out into the blender again, and blend it one more time.
  • Now turn it out into the bowl or moulds if you want, and chuck it back into the freezer for at least 4-6 hours.
  • Scoop out into bowls, and enjoy.

That's it! It's easy, very low on hard work, and so indulgent that it'll knock your socks off.

Till the next time!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Tamil style Chicken Coconut Stew: Chicken Kuzhambu


Time for a chicken recipe!

Seeing as you know me for so long, you'd know that in my pre-married life, I did not cook. I baked. And looked fancy-a** dishes on Pinterest and tried to make them. But regular daily food? Nevah. One of the things I did cook though, was a Chicken Kuzhambu. A gloriously coconutty gravy, embellished with the homey flavour of curry leaves, texture from the poppy seeds, and tender, melt-in-the-mouth chicken. It takes a little time, and the list of ingredients is frighteningly long but its very very worth it!

So here's the recipe for Chicken Kuzhambu. Many readers requested an accompaniment to the Neer Dosa recipe I put up last week, and this is it!

Chicken Kuzhambu
Adapted from Spicy Treats

You need:
  • 1 kg chicken
  • 3 large onions, chopped fine
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 5 green chillies, slit
  • 10-12 curry leaves. Get the larger older leaves, they have more flavour.
  • 10-12 stems of coriander leaves, chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs of mint leaves, 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder/ haldi
  • 2-3 tsp of chilli powder
  • 3 tsp of coriander powder/ dhania
  • 4-5 lemon leaves cut into halves, or 2 1 inch stalks of lemongrass, bruised. (This is optional. If you can't source this, leave it out)
  • Oil
  • Salt and sugar, to taste
For tempering
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds/ rai
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp fennel seeds/ saunf
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 4-5 cloves
For grinding
  • Scant 1 cup shredded coconut or kopra, soaked in very little water
  • 2 tsp dalia or oats
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds/ khus khus

The How:

  • Okay first wash the chicken very well and marinate in salt, turmeric and chilli powder (over and above what I've mentioned).
  • Grind the ingredients I've mentioned in "For grinding", with a tiny bit water to make a thick smooth paste.
  • In a pressure cooker, heat oil. When hot, add the "For tempering" ingredients one by one, then add the curry leaves and green chillies. Add the onions next and saute it.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the weird raw smell is gone.
  • Tip in the tomatoes and fry till mushy.
  • Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder and coriander powder. Stir to combine, then add the chicken. Stir well so that the masala coats the chicken well. Fry for 3-4 minutes.
  • Now add the wet ground masala and stir well.
  • Now add hot water, a little less than how much you want the gravy, because the chicken is going to release moisture. Add the salt (and sugar, if you think it needs it).
  • Now add the lemon leaves or lemongrass stalks, if you have them. Else, Just add the mint leaves, coriander leaves and pressure cook this for 4-5 whistles.
  • Let the pressure calm down, then pour into a serving bowl and serve with rice, or neer dosa.
That's it!

It goes wonderfully well with the soft dosa, or even basic steamed rice. The lemon leaves or lemongrass stalks add a different profile of flavour and aroma to the dish, and elevates this from being just a chicken dish. I made it with boneless chicken as well, and it's just as delicious.

Till the next time!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Instant Rice Pancakes: Neer Dosa!

My first foray into South Indian cooking!

Okay so this is one thing you must know about me. I am not a woman of patience. I can't wait. I do not have the patience to wait for dough to rise, or stuff to dry or batter to ferment. I know that completely separates from the bread-making genre, but that's okay. I don't like carbs anyway. (Don't tell bread I said that).

Which is why when I just happened to stumble upon this recipe of a water and rice powder dosa, that did not need to wait to ferment, I found my weekend project. It's called Neer Dosaneer meaning water, because this is a water based batter. This dosa is as soft as your grandmother's saree, and is best presented folded in quarters, making it look like a well-worn (and delicious) handkerchief. It's best served with thick coconut-based stews and gravies, you can mop it right up!

Now it's not complicated to make per se, but you have to be ready for the first 2 to reduce to scrambled rice batter. It's super quick, and you have to be super quick to handle it well. For your guidance I'll provide step by step photos.

Presenting the amazing Neer Dosa!

Neer Dosa

You need:
  • 1 cup short grain rice, soaked in water for an hour
  • shredded coconut, if you want. I omitted this.
  • Coconut milk- 1/2 cup, if you want. I omitted this as well.
  • Salt, a bit
  • Oil
  • Water about 1 1/2 cups. If you're not using the coconut milk, use 2 cups water.

The How:
  • Drain the rice. Put into a grinder and add about 1 cup water, 1/2 cup at a time to make into a fine liquid. Take the batter out into a bowl and add the rest of the water and salt little by little, mixing well to make one very watery batter, like this:

  • Heat a non-stick pan. Add a few drops of oil, and smear it all over with a paper napkin. This helps spread it well, and removes excess at the same time.
  • Pour in one big ladle full of batter. It will automatically spread to form the circle. Cover with a lid and cook on medium heat for about 40-60 seconds. The top will sort of dry out, like this:

  • In one swift move, flip the dosa to the other side and cook it on open for abut 15-20 seconds.

  • It should be done, so fold the dosa in half lengthwise first, then fold it again to form a quarter fold, like this:

  • Take out on the plate. Make the rest of it, and serve hot with your stew.

And that's it! This is literally the easiest bread you can make, with minimal effort! Enjoy!

Till the next time!


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