November 30, 2006

Eggless Chocolate & Nuts Muffins

This is no ordinary muffin. It is a muffin that reminds you of sunny days and weekends when you can sleep late. You wake up to coffee brewing in the kitchen and you get muffins fresh out of the oven for a scrumptious breakfast. Filled with chocolate and nuts, but not too sweet, this muffin is a treat. I bought a muffin pan this summer I have been wanting to try it out ever since. And it did not disappoint me.

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup chocolate - I used bittersweet cocoa
1/2 cup almonds, walnuts & raisins (chopped)
1 1/2 tspoon baking soda
1 tspoon vanilla extract
2 tbspoon butter
1 tbspoon heavy cream
1/2 cup milk

Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda (update) nuts, raisins and chocolate. Add the butter and heavy cream.
Mix the vanilla extract in the milk (update), then add the milk and whisk till it all mixes together.
Heat the oven to 350F.
Put the batter in the muffin pan covering about 1/2 of the cup.
Bake for 18-20 min till they turn golden brown and the toothpick comes out clean.

Cool and serve with coffee, tea or orange juice.

This is my entry for WBB# 7 Baking for Breakfast hosted by Nandita at Saffron Trail.

November 28, 2006

Beginning & Ending with Pumpkin

My pumpkin recipes were rather limited until the Thanksgiving Luncheon at work. I like my aloo kumro chakka (aloo pumpkin sabzi) with Luchi (puri), kumro sheddo (boiled pumpkin) and the Pumpkin Sabzi with Peanuts & Coconut. Then I tried Pumpkin soup with its creamy and sweet taste, and the amazing Pumpkin Mousse, and knew I wanted both the dishes on my Thanksgiving Menu. So I asked Gail and Betsy for the recipes. And did I get great reviews. The best was from a friend who said "I wasn't a fan of pumpkin till now." That really made my day!

Ginger & Pumpkin Soup

This soup is really easy to make. I made it the night before, that way the ginger mixes well with pumpkin. For the soup, I used canned organic pumpkin which cut the prep time. You can also get a pumpkin and puree it for the soup.

28 oz vegetable broth
29 oz pumpkin- puree
14 oz coconut milk
1 tbspoon + 1 tspoon ginger (grated)
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
8 tbspoon sugar (you can adjust the sugar if you want it less sweet)
1/4 tspoon red chilli
1 tbspoon cider vinegar
Salt to taste

Add all spices and salt to the vegetable broth in a wide pan and bring it to boil . Reduce heat and let it simmer for 8-10 minutes.
Remove the cloves and the cinnamon stick.
Then add the coconut milk, pumpkin puree and ginger.
Let it simmer for another 10 minutes till everything mixes well.
Serve hot with garnished ginger.

Pumpkin Mousse with Whipped Cream & Glazed Pecans

1/4 cups glazed Pecans (you can also make your own)
16 oz pumpkin pack - puree
1 pack instant vanilla pudding
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp allspice powder
2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl whisk pumpkin, pudding mix, milk, vanilla, cinnamon powder, allspice and sugar until it is blended well together.
In a separate bowl beat the cream till stiff peaks form. Keep one cup for garnishing and fold the rest cup in the pumpkin mix.
Refrigerate the mousse for an hour before serving to help it set.
Spoon the mousse into goblets. Top it with whipped cream and glazed pecans.

This is my entry for the Festive Food Fair going at Anna's Morsels & Musings

November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving Dinner

My first Thanksgiving dinner went really well. I have attended Thanksgiving dinners before, but this my first time hosting one.

We didn't have roast Turkey. Instead we made Indonesian roasted chicken with Madhur Jaffery's cookbook recipe. It was succulent and tender. Rest of the dinner was a mix of Indian and American recipes. Everybody brought something to the table and it was a wonderful evening. I will post the recipes from the Thanksgiving dinner over the next week.

Here is the menu:
Vegetable Pakoras
Pumpkin and Ginger Soup
Bettutu Ayam (Indonesian whole stuffed chicken in parcel)
Green Beans
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Mousse with whipped cream and pecans

Have a wonderful weekend!

November 20, 2006

Easy Breezy Chicken Curry

While growing up, we had one Sunday ritual. It was chicken or lamb curry for lunch. No matter how busy my mom was juggling household chores she always cooked this curry. The meat was marinated in yogurt, chilli, turmeric and salt and cooked in slow heat with potato and sometime raw papaya. My mom says it makes the meat tender. The yogurt and the tomato gives it a tangy taste which makes the curry delicious and fresh. It goes well with pulao or just plain rice or chapati. While I don't add the papaya, I try to follow the rest of the steps.

1 -1 1/2 lbs chicken (I use a mix of thighs, legs and breasts)
1 1/2 medium onion -chopped thinly
2-3 cloves garlic - paste
1"cube garlic - paste
2 medium tomatoes - chopped thinly
3-4 potatoes - small cubes
2 red chillis
2 cloves, cardamom
1/2 tspoon cumin seeds
1/4 tspoon fennel seeds
1 tspoon coriander-cumin powder
1/2 tspoon garam masala powder
3 tbspoon oil
Salt to taste
Cilantro to garnish

To marinate:
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 tspoon turmeric
1/2 tspoon chilli powder
salt to taste

Pierce the chicken with fork and marinate for 2-3 hours.
Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and temper with cumin seeds, fennel seeds and red chillis.
Immediately add the ginger and garlic paste.
Saute for a minute and then add the onions. Saute till they start turning brown.
Add the tomatoes and cook on closed lids for 2-3 minutes.
Add the potatoes and fry till they start turning golden brown.
Now put in the rest of the masalas, chicken and let it cook on medium for 5-6 minutes till the chicken starts browning.
Add 2/3 cup water, salt and let it cook on low heat for 35-40 minutes on closed lid checking every 7-8 minutes till the chicken and potato are cooked.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or rotis.

November 16, 2006

Chocolate cake with Whipped Cream frosting

If you had asked me before this day about baking a cake, I would have replied "Sure, out of a box." But not anymore. After lingering over the wonderful cakes and desserts by Archana, Pushpa and Meeta, and many more I baked a cake - from scratch!

I wanted to bake a cake for Aswin. After thinking and searching some more for an easy recipe, I decided to make a chocolate cake for him. Along with cocoa powder I also put in chunks of chocolate from a bar I bought at Trader Joe's and hazelnuts. It was topped with whipped cream frosting. Even the whipped cream was not out of a box. And whoever said "mehnat ka phal meetha" is right. It was delicious.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate pieces
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 1/4 tspoon baking soda
pinch of baking powder
1/4 tspoon cinnamon powder

For Frosting
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup strawberries
1/2 cup sugar


Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder.
Beat butter, sugar and eggs seperately and add it slowly into the flour mix.

Add the milk, chocolate and nuts to the mix.
Heat the oven to 350 F. Butter two 9-inch cake pans- base and side.
Pour the batter equally in the two pans. Smooth the surface.
Bake till the tester (mine was a toothpick) comes out clean. It takes about 30-40 minutes depending on pan and the oven.

Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

In the meantime, whip the heavy cream with strawberries and sugar till stiff peaks form.
Layer it generously on the lower cake. Put the second cake on top and fold the rest of the cream on top and on the sides.
I even tried piping designs and decorated with choclate shavings and fresh fruit. It's pretty basic but I was so excited and Aswin loved it!

Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.
This is going to Meeta at What's for Lunch Honey for Monthly Mingle # 6 - Give Thanks.
Special thanks go out to my friends and family for the support, encouragement and unconditional love.

November 13, 2006

"Feast": 14 essays on a world of food

Amitava Kumar has blogged about this and I'm sure many of you will find these essays on food a real treat. I wish the editors at Himal South Asian had thought about including an essay on how blogs have become a key site where desis are sharing their experiences with food, but this still is a neat collection. Here's what they have to say about the essays:

We cannot remember when we have had such a lot of fun preparing Himal as with this issue on food. We gave our contributors no guidelines; we simply let them loose into the world of Southasian cooking and eating...[A]nd what a smorgasbord of authorship we are presenting the reader with this issue – a Nepali journalist reviews an Islamabad eatery, a Dhaka dancer tastes Malabari cuisine, a Karachi-wali waxes eloquent on New Delhi chaat, and a Puerto Rican food scholar goes through plebeian fare to suggest the need for some high cuisine. Sure we have not covered every corner of Southasia, but then the intention is not to be encyclopaedic, but to provide a taste of what’s out there. Enjoy!

November 09, 2006

Midweek dinner - Lentil and veggie soup

Some weeks just fly by and this has been one of them. With deadlines and meetings, I have been craving comfort food. And when I saw that another cold front is coming our way, I decided to make one of the soups my mom makes every winter. It's simple, easy, healthy and delicious. There is very little dal cooked with vegetables for flavoring and for a good consistancy. You can substitute the dal with beans too.
Whenever, my mom makes this soup, she serves it with croutons, and we all enjoy it on a cold winter evening. Another of my favorite is her tomato soup.

1 bunch fresh spinach
3-4 medium tomatoes
5-6 medium carrots
1/2 medium onion
1/4 cup moong dal
1/4 tspoon turmeric
1/4 tspoon cumin seed powder
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper
Yogurt and cilantro leaf to garnish (optional)

Wash all vegetables and cut them in big pieces.
I pressure cooked the vegetables and moong dal with turmeric, cumin seed powder. You can even cook it slowly in a crockpot.
Puree it with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Garnish with a tspoon of yogurt and cilantro leaf.
It tastes best when served warm.

November 06, 2006

Pasta with Clams

Has it ever happened to you that no matter what recipe you choose, you don't have all the ingredients? It happened to me this weekend.

I have never made clams before, but have had them few times in a Konkani recipe when my friend Urvi makes it. When I saw fresh clams at the grocery shop I was tempted to try it. So I bought a dozen fresh clams and called Urvi. But, one phonecall later, I realized I didn't have kokum which gives a distinct flavor to the curry.

I decided to save that for a later date and try a pasta recipe from a cookbook, but didn't have all the ingredients for that specific pasta dish either. But that was no going to dampen my weekend spirit. I decided to make my own recipe. Pasta with clams with a distinct Asian fusion!

The pasta sauce is made with vegetables and clams simmered in cocunut milk and tomato sauce and served over multigrain organic pasta. Weekend luxury, if I can say so myself.

Dozen fresh clams
1 medium red onion- finely chopped
2/3 cups tomato - finely chopped
3 cloves garlic - shredded
1" cube ginger - shredded
1/4 cup green beans- chopped
1/4 baby carrots - chopped
1 cup coconut milk
2 red chillis
1 bay leaf
1/2 tspoon cumin seed powder
pinch of turmeric (for clams)
pinch of rosemary
salt to taste
cilantro to garnish
freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces multigrain pasta
1 tbspoon olive oil

Steam clams in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Then take them out and clean them discarding one shell from each of them.
Now boil them again with little onion, turmeric and salt for 10-12 minutes till the clams are cooked. Drain water and set the clams aside.
Heat olive oil in a wide pan and temper it with red chillis, bay leaf and rosemary.
Add ginger and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.
Add the onions and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and cook on closed lid for couple of minutes till they turn soft.
Pour the coconut milk and then add the vegetables. Add cumin powder, salt and let it cook on low heat for 8-10 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro and freshly ground black pepper.
In the meantime, bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add salt and pasta. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and add a tspoon of olive oil.

Serve pasta with Asian clam sauce.
This is my entry for WHB hosted by Meeta at What's for Lunch Honey?

November 01, 2006

Ragda Patties

Moving is stressful and exciting at the same time. A couple of my friends have been doing it this past weekend. To celebrate their successful move, I made ragda patties, just like in their hometown – mumbaiya ishtyle.

I tasted it for the first time while visiting another friend couple of weeks ago. It reminded me of chaat, but was little different. So this recreation is purely from taste, rather than from a recipe. In Mumbai, the ragda is made with yellow dry peas which I substituted with chole.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
For patties
4-5 large potatoes
1 medium onion
2 red chillis
2/3 chilli powder
½ tspoon aamchur (dry mango) powder
½ tspoon turmeric
½ tspoon cumin seeds
½ tspoon coriander powder
2 tbspoon oil
Salt to taste

For ragda
1 1/2 cans chickpeas
2 cloves garlic – paste
1 cube ginger – paste
1 medium onion – chopped finely
1 medium tomato – chopped finely
1 tspoon Garam masala
1 tspoon coriander powder
½ tspoon turmeric powder
½ tspoon chilli powder
1 tspoon cumin seeds
2 tbspoon oil
Salt to taste

To garnish
Onions – chopped finely
Tomato – chopped finely
Green chilli & cilantro – chopped finely
Fresh lime juice


For patties
Boil the potatoes and mash it well. Keep it aside.
Heat oil in a wide pan and temper it with cumin seeds and red chillis.
Add the onions and sauté it for a couple of minutes. When onions start turning brown, add the potatoes. Stir well.
Then add all the dry masalas and mix it together stirring every couple of minutes.
Let it cook for 4-5 minutes. Take it off the heat and cool.
Divide the potato dough in small portions. I had about 14-15 balls for the patties.
Put the potato mix on your palm and flatten it into small patty.
Heat oil/butter on a flat skillet. When it starts sizzling, put the patties.
Shallow fry on each side on medium low heat for 2-3 minutes till they turn golden brown.
Let it cool on paper towel to drain excess oil.

For ragda
Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and temper it with cumin seeds and chillis.
Add the ginger garlic mix and sauté for a couple of minutes.
Then add the onion and fry till they turn golden brown. Add the tomoatoes and cook on closed lid till they turn soft.
Add the masalas and sauté till they all mix together. Then add the chickpeas and salt and let it cook on medium heat for 7-8 minutes.
Then mash some of the chickpeas in the gravy. It makes it thick and gives a nice consistency.

Assembling ragda patties
Put a couple of potato patties on a plate.
Generously add the chole on top.
Garnish it with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, green chillis and lemon juice.
You can also add mint and tamerind chutney.
Serve it hot. It is not generally served with bun, but I was hungry!


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