Saturday, December 31, 2011

Eggless Chocolate Walnut cake

With life being extremely hectic, with work, two weddings coming up in the immediate family, house repainting, cleaning, shopping etc, blogging has taken a back stage… I am however, cooking and baking quite regularly, but at odd hours or always multi-tasking with something else that taking pictures and blogging is taking the blow. There are however quite a few dishes still in the memory card, waiting to be downloaded! May be I’ll get them all to light in the new year!!
Till then, here is one cake that I baked for D’s birthday this time. With all the mentioned crazy schedule we had, I could not make any fancy cake with decoration. But this was one easy, quick and tasty cake. I tweaked m eggless sponge cake to make it chocolaty and topped with walnuts. This, along with another cake that’ll come up some other time, vanished right on the next day!
Ohh did I mention, our dear electricity board decided to paly spoil sport and cut off the power when my cake was almost 3/4th done and didn’t bother to turn it back on for more than an hour. I however, re-baked for a few extra minutes and thank God, the cake did bake well.

Here’s the recipe…

Eggless Chocolate Walnut cake

Preparation time
: 15 min
Baking time : 35-40 min

All-purpose flour/Maida – 1 ¼ cups
Cocoa powder – ¼ cup
Sugar – 3/4 cup (The original called for 1 cup)
Baking powder – 1 ¼ tsps
Baking soda – ½ tsp
Salt – a pinch
Thick curd – 1 cup
Cooking oil – ½ cup
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Chocolate essence – ½ tsp, optional
Thick coffee decoction – 2 Tbsp or Instant coffee powder – 2 tsp

For topping:
Walnuts – Shelled and chopped into pieces – ¼ cup
Cashews – Chopped into pieces – 2 Tbsp
Brown sugar – 2 Tbsp

• Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F. Grease an 8 inch pan and set aside.
• Powder the sugar and in a bowl, mix the curd and sugar till the sugar dissolves.
• Stir-in the baking powder and baking soda into the curd mixture. Mix well and set aside for 2-3 minutes. The curd will turn frothy and start rising and increasing in volume.
• In the meanwhile, sieve the flour and cocoa powder thrice and set aside.
• Add the oil, essence and coffee to the curd mixture. Stir gently so that the air in the mixture is not lost.
• Next, gently fold in the flour. Don’t stir very vigorously; do it very gently. The batter should have a dropping consistency.
• Pour the batter into the readied pan and sprinkle the topping mixture generously and lightly tap so that the nuts stick to the batter
• Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.
• Lower the temperature to 180C/350F, and bake for another 35-40 minutes, till the toothpick inserted comes out clean
• Once done, remove from oven and let the tin cool on a wire-rack for 10 minutes. Run a serrated knife around the edges and upturn the cake from the tin and let it cool on the wire-rack for a good amount of time before you can slice it.
• Once fully cooled, slice the cake with a serrated knife and enjoy!

• Any nuts can be used for topping.
• The cake was not too sweet as is so the addition of brown sugar for topping did not make it too sweet
• Since the nuts are on the top layer, they get toasted on the cake itself, so no need to toast them before.
Now, My dear readers, here’s Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2012!!!
See ya all in 2012!! Tata!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Nellikai Chitranna Mix

Mom was not well a couple of months ago and was advised some bed rest. Since she stays quite far off and with my work schedule, I cannot visit her often. So when I went there on weekends, I’d make some ready to eats, and mixes and dosa/idli batter and stock up the refrigerator so that my sis could manage with little effort in the mornings.
This was one of the items I made. Of course, learnt it from mom only! Sis did all the pitting and chopping and grating work and I got the mix ready which was then stocked up in the refrigerator. This mix stays well in the fridge for 2-3 weeks and if using dry coconut, for longer. When you want to have, all you need to do is make some rice and mix with this for a delicious serving of tangy, spicy rice.

Nellikai Chitranna Mix – Gooseberry Rice

Preparation time : 15 min
Cooking time : 10 min

Gooseberries / Nellikai - ~20 pitted and roughly chopped
Grated coconut - ½ cup
Green chilies - 10-12, as per taste
Asafetida / hing - a generous pinch
Salt - 1 tsp or as per taste
For tempering:
Cooking oil - 1-2 Tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Bengal gram dal - 2 tsp
Urad dal - 2 tsp
Peanuts - 2 Tbsp
Curry leaves - 1 Tbsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Salt - ½ tsp or as per taste

• Grind the gooseberries, chilies, asafetida, coconut, and salt, in a mixie to form a coarse mixture. Do not add any water
• In a skillet heat oil, add mustard seeds and allow to splutter
• Add groundnut seeds and fry for a few seconds
• Add Bengal gram dal and urad dal and fry till golden
• Add curry leaves and turmeric and fry for a minute or two till all the ingredients are crisp
• Add the ground mixture and mix thoroughly, with the heat on
• Saute it well till the wetness is gone and then turn off the heat; don’t make the mixture too crumbly
• Cool it and store in airtight container in fridge for about 2-3 weeks

Serving Instructions:
• Make rice and spread it so that the grains do not stick to each other
• For every cup of uncooked rice, about 1 Tbsp of the mix should be enough
• Mix well and serve

• Dry coconut can also be used, in which case the mix will last longer.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Instant Gojjavalakki Mix

Do you travel a lot? Or less? Travel with kids, fussy with food? Or do you get bored of eating out continuously and crave for some home food? Or do you have to leave your kids and travel and want to make sure you keep some ready, healthy mixes for them?

Here is one such instant-food that you can make in bulk and store for a couple of months. When hungry, all you have to do is take a small portion in a bowl, pour some water, hot, warm or even cold and sit for 10 minutes. A bowlful of delicious, homemade flavorful Gojjavalakki is ready!
Mom used to make this for me when I had to travel on work to Seoul before marriage. And it would serve as my breakfast almost on alternate days! It lasted almost the entire two months and still I’d not got bored! And of late I make it for our long nature/birding trips where we need to be outdoors from 5-30 or six in the morning and break for a formal breakfast only by 9 or 10. When our tummies are growling our heads and legs and everything else doesn’t work too!! So we carry small portions of this, soak it with some water and in 10 minutes, we’ll be hogging on it to grab some energy!
I’ve shared it with a lot of friends too and it is always a hit. You must try it, if you want to stock up some ready-to-eats, home-made and with no preservatives.

Instant Gojjavalakki Mix
Preparation time : 15 min
Cooking time : 20 min
Serves : 5-6

Avalakki/Poha/Beaten rice - 4 cups (Use thick variety)
Tamarind - 1-2 lemon sized ball
Rasam powder - 2 tsp, vary as per your taste
Jaggery - 1 small lemon sized ball
Salt - 1 tsp, vary as per taste
Desiccated coconut, grated - ½ cup

For powdering:
Fenugreek / methi seeds - ½ tsp
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Sesame seeds - 2 tsp

For tempering:
Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Groundnut seeds - 1 tbsp
Chana dal - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
White Sesame seeds - 2 tsp
Curry leaves - 2-3 sprigs
Red chilies - 1
Turmeric - 1 pinch

• Dry roast all the ingredients under ‘For Powdering’ and when slightly cool, grind to powder and keep aside
• Take the avalakki in a mixie jar and pulse it a couple of times, just enough to break it into very coarse powder. Do not over do this
• Dry roast tamarind on low heat till the moisture is gone. Once cool, grind it to powder in a small mixie jar
• Scrape the jaggery into fine powder
• In a wide bowl, mix tamarind powder, jaggery powder, salt and rasam powder
• Add the broken avalakki, spice powder prepared above into the bowl and mix thoroughly
• Let it sit for sometime, so that the flavors blend well
• Once done, in a big skillet, heat oil and make the tempering:
o Add mustard seeds and allow to splutter
o Turn the heat low, add groundnut seeds, and stir
o After the groundnuts are half-done, channa dal and urad dal
o Add curry leaves and red chili pieces and stir for half a minute till all the ingredients are properly roasted.
o At the end add sesame seeds and turmeric powder
• Add the tempering to the avalakki mixture, add grated coconut and stir well to combine
• Check and adjust the taste if necessary

Serving instruction:
• In a bowl, take dry gojjavalakki (once soaked, it almost doubles, so take just half the volume of what you need finally)
• Add water (warm or cold) till it is immersed fully, and covers about 1 cm above the surface of the avalakki
• Gently mix it once, and let it rest for 15 minutes. At the end of 15 min, all the water would be absorbed, and the gojjavalakki will be of desired consistency. Mix thoroughly and eat.
• Enjoy!

• Use very good quality of avalakki, as you will not be washing it here

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Methi Malai Matar

It was decided that we’d be gathering for a pot luck lunch at a cousin’s place for a party. And I had committed on making a rice item. I was traveling the whole of the week before and returning home only on the previous evening, but I was anyway prepared to cook a Methi Peas pulav. So bought the greens on the way back and came home and picked and cleaned it too. Then the cousin’s wife calls up to say that she has prepared for a pulav herself as she didn’t want me to strain myself as I was traveling.

I had prepared myself for this rice and even my insistence didn’t help. She had even gotten ready for a side dish and chapathis. Then I thought why not make a second side dish and carry, as that would not go waste. I declared to her that I would be getting a second side dish and she couldn’t say no to it.

Since the ready ingredients at hand were Methi and Peas, my obvious choice was Methi Malai Muter. I had been wanting to try it out from a long time and remembered having seen it on Champa’s blog. So opened her blog from my phone and set out cooking next morning!
It did come out well, and everyone liked it. Thanks Champa, for a non-baking recipe. I had doubled the ingredients and made a larger quantity, but here I am using Champa’s quantities. I did make some variations, and here’s the recipe....

Methi Malai Matar

Preparation time : 15 min
Cooking time : 15 min
Serves : 5-6

Methi / fenugreek leaves - 1 big bunch cleaned and only leaves are picked and chopped
Frozen green peas - 2 cups (If using fresh peas, use boiled and cooked)
Red Onion - 2 big chopped to chunks
Green chillies - 7 or more depending on your taste
Cashews - 1/4 - 1/3 cup
Garlic - 1 pod chopped
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece peeled and chopped
Cloves - 5
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon - 1" stick
Oil - 3 Tbsp divided use
Ricotta cheese / Cottage cheese - 1 cup (optional - to make a rich gravy)
Cream - 1/2 cup
Milk - ¼ cup or enough to thin down the curry to desired consistency
Salt - to taste

• In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of oil. When hot, add cumin seeds.
• When they splutter, add green chillies, garlic, ginger, cloves and cinnamon.
• Sauté till the coves pop. Add cashews and let them toast well.
• Now, add onions and stir. Let it cook stirring occasionally.
• When they are cooked, take it out into a blender or mixie jar.
• In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil.
• When hot, add green peas and chopped fenugreek leaves. Sauté till peas are tender.
• Meanwhile blend the ingredients in the blender. You can add a little bit of water to facilitate the blades. But don't make it too runny.
• Add this paste and stir.
• Add the ricotta cheese if using and the cream and stir well.
• Adjust the consistency with milk
• Add salt and let it simmer for couple of minutes and turn off the heat.
• Serve hot or warm with rotis, naans, chapathis or even rice.

• I skipped the ricotta cheese - may be it would have tasted richer with it
• Red chili powder can be added to increase the heat

I'm posting this from one of my old drafts as i'm not able to spend time clicking pics and writing with with so much of work at home and at work. I've made this dish many times now, esp for parties and it is always a hit!