Friday, September 28, 2012

Capsicum / Bell Pepper Tambuli

My sis, who has recently started cooking and doing a good deal of everyday cooking, had one serious comment for my blog. That the number of everyday recipes has reduced of late, and specialty recipes are increasing!

Oh yes, I realized, of course that is true! Though I make a big variety of dishes everyday, making sure not to repeat stuff more often, somehow there was a drop in interest to click it and blog about it. The cakes, breads, party recipes had been stealing the limelight of late. Her comment was that new brides like her are on the lookout for everyday recipes more than these baked goodies, party recipes and so on.

So here I am, trying to be fair to some great everyday recipes, posting them as well. This is one such, which can be made in a jiffy and serves as a great accompaniment to rice. Learnt this from mom quite recently, and this had been a savior on those tired-from-work-but-want-something-satisfying days.

Can you believe me all it takes is 2-3 minutes of your effort, and not more than 5 minutes in all, including the cooking and cooling time? And it just tastes heavenly. Seriously. You can have it for even all three servings and still not be bored of it, it is that good.

Try it out for yourself to believe me…

Capsicum / Bell Pepper Tambuli

Preparation time : 2 min
Cooking time : 1-2 min
Serves : 4

Green capsicum / bell pepper - 1 medium sized
Ghee - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Pepper - 1 tsp
Dry Red chili - 1 or even half - optional
Coconut - 3 Tbsp, grated
Salt - ½- ¾ tsp or as per taste
Curd - ½ cup

For tempering:
Ghee - ½ tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp

  • Core and deseed the bell pepper and roughly chop it into big chunks
  • In a skillet, heat ghee and roast cumin seeds, pepper and red chili
  • Once the spices are roasted, add chopped bell pepper and sauté till they wilt, for a minute or two. Do not overcook it, just a sauté is fine
  • Let it cool for a minute or two
  • Grind the above mixture with grated coconut into a chunky paste
  • Transfer it to a bowl and mix in salt and curd
  • In a skillet, heat ghee and add cumin seeds and allow to splutter
  • Transfer the tempering to the Tambuli and serve with hot rice
  • If you have a microwave, you can dump the halved bell pepper, cumin and cumin and black pepper and cook for a minute on high and proceed with the next step. This is even easier!
  • I like to grind it into a coarse consistency; you may grind it smooth as well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Strawberry Gateau

Here’s a full fledged Strawberry gateau/pastry fro you all. Though I bake many cakes, frosting them and decorating them is something rare. As much as I like to do it and eat it, I am worried about the calories that it’ll add up and eventually the rise in the bathroom scales! So I fill and frost a cake only when there are enough people to share the load, not of the work involved but the after effects of savoring it :D

I was itching to use the strawberry preserve I had made; the so easily available whipping creams also kept calling me to pick them up and make a black forest or strawberry gateau. The time finally came when D invited his team with family for a dinner. With 15 people to share the load, I was too happy to bake a cake… I actually baked two of them, the second one in fear that one would be too small to feed 15 Indians in a foreign land… of course I wanted to save a couple of pieces for myself too, for the days that followed the party ;)

The cake was a huge hit, everyone going for a second serving, some even for third, though I realized I had still skimped on the quantity of cream, mainly because the cake had doubled, which was not expected initially. None the less, it was a fabulous cake, with the cream and strawberry mingling beautifully over a fatless sponge. I did some basic decorating too, to satisfy my cravings for piping out designs, and did a decent job, nothing too exquisite. A couple of friends took the recipe as well and tried at their places.

So here is the recipe… read through the notes as well…

Strawberry Gateau


Basic Fatless Sponge: (Makes one 8” sponge, 2-3 inches tall; See notes)
Eggs - 3 large
Plain Flour - 80 gms / ¾ cup
Powdered Sugar - 80 to 110 gms / ¾ to 1 cup; See Notes

For the Strawberry Jelly
Strawberries – 15-20 nos, hulled and finely chopped (should make 1 cup of chopped berries)
Sugar – 1/3 cup (you may want to increase this to 1/2 a cup if the berries are a tad too tart)
Or use strawberry preserve, and mix in more sugar if needed

For the Filling & Frosting
Whipping Cream – 2 cups
Powdered Sugar – 3 tbsps

For the Sugar Syrup
Cold Water – 1 cup
Strawberry essence (optional) – 1 tsp
Powdered Sugar – 3 tbsps

Fatless Sponge
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. 
  • Sieve the flour, keep aside.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar till very thick and double in quantity. This takes at least 10 minutes with hand mixer. At the end, the mixture should turn into a mousse like consistency.
  • Fold in the flour very gently with a metal spoon.
  • Pour into a greased and dusted cake tin. Bake for 15 - 20 min till it passes the skewer test. (Mine took about 18 min).
  • Remove from the oven. Loosen sides with a sharp knife, invert over a wire rack and cool completely.
Sugar Syrup
  • Dissolve the powdered sugar in the cold water and put it in the fridge.
Filling and Frosting:
  • Chill the whipping cream for at least 10-12 hours in the refrigerator. Also chill the beater blades and bowl in which you plan to whip the cream, about 2 hours at least. Stainless steel bowls work best for this.
  • Once the whipping cream is good to go, start by whipping the cream on high-speed. Whip until thick and starts holding peaks, about 5-7 minutes. Once done, set half aside in the refrigerator (for the frosting).
  • Next, get down to assembling the gateau. Use the bottom of the cake (that was in contact with the lining) for the top. So this means, the actual top of the cake goes to the bottom of the gateau. If the cake has risen too much in the centre, gently level it with a long, serrated knife and then turn upside down.
  • Using some food color (even turmeric works), dip a toothpick in the food color and draw a vertical line anywhere on the side of the cake, from top to bottom. This line will act as a reference when you have to re-assemble the slices while filling the layers. The cake will sit perfectly in place, and give you a wonderful flat surface on top.
  • Gently cut the cake into 2 slices horizontally.
  • Place the bottom-most slice on a turn-table if you have one.
  • Drizzle the sugar syrup over the bottom most layer of the cake using a wide pastry brush. Ensure you cover the entire surface.
  • Now, using a palette knife/offset spatula spread some whipped cream generously over the bottom cake layer (don’t spread the cream too much to the edge since the next layer coming over it will push the cream to sides anyway). Cream layers about 3/4th-inch thick should work just fine.
  • Next, spread the strawberry jelly generously over the cream.
  • Now place the second slice of cake over it matching the slices by the line you drew with the food color, and repeat with syrup and a thin layer of whipped cream on top. Finish the sides with a thin layer as well.
  • Now sit the cake in the refrigerator for atleast 2-3 hours, to allow the flavors to mature.
  • Once the cake has sat in the refrigerator for a good amount of time, get it out, finish the top and sides of the cake with more whipped cream. Work with your palette knife/offset spatula and dip the knife/spatula in cold water every 2-3 strokes, to get a smooth finish on top of the cake.
  • Finish by decorating the cake the way you fancy. 
  • This quantity makes an 8” round about 2-3 inches tall. You’ll get two thin slices out of it; can feed about 12 people. However, I have made two such cakes and didn’t tort them and got a tall cake, but with just two layers. In such case you will have to increase the cream, syrup and strawberries as well accordingly.
  • Whipping the eggs is the most important part of this recipe. Since there are no other leavening agents, it is whipped eggs that give volume to it.
  • Whip the eggs on high for at least 8 minutes, till you get a thick mousse like texture. Do not stop in the foamy state, and continue till the mousse like state. The first time I tried this sponge, I didn’t whip it enough and it was anything but a sponge; perfection comes from experience :)
  • The sponge is Tarla Dalal’s recipe; Used the strawberry preserve prepared earlier

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Modaka, Karigadubu for Ganesha Chaturthi

Gowri-Ganesh festivals are one of the biggest in our households. Preparations at home start more than a week ahead. For Ganesha who apparently is a food lover, there will be varieties and varieties of snacks prepared, mainly deep fried ones. And all these get done for neivedya, for offering to God, which means it is done before even having breakfast, soon after a bath, in fresh clothes, without tasting them. They are prepared and kept away, out of reach till the Ganesha arrives! The house will be smelling heavenly with all the goodies, but yet, everyone knows they won’t get it!

One of the years, when they had a lot of energy my parents had made 21 kinds of goodies for this Elephant God, 21 being his favorite number! And at in-laws’, it is usually a big huge box full of chakli, kodubale, thenkolalu, etc along with of course Kadubu and modaka. And these will be distributed among relatives and friends too...

This is the first year that we are celebrating festivals by ourselves, and kind of missing home and all the festive spirit. To make up for a part of it, we both made some Modaka and Karigadubu and have kept it away on the top shelf… Just waiting for Ganesha tomorrow to have a first taste or rather sight of it, before we indulge in them :)

Wishing you all a very happy Gowri-habba and Ganesha Chaturthi… Enjoy all the goodies you make, and work out a lil more :D

Here is how to make kadubu/modaka…

For the dough:
1 cup Maida/All purpose flour
¼ cup Chiroti Rava(fine Semolina)
Salt - ¼ tsp
1 tbsp hot Oil / Ghee

For stuffing:
Grated dry Coconut / desiccated coconut - ½ cup
Sugar - ½ cup, powdered
2-3 Cardamoms

Oil,for deep frying
Milk - a couple of tsp, for brushing the edges for sealing

  • Mix maida, rava, salt and oil and add enough water to form a stiff dough. It should be stiffer than the regular chapathi/poori dough
  • Keep covered with a wet cloth for ½ an hour
  • After half an hour, knead the dough well until it becomes soft and pliable
  • Peel and rush the cardamom seeds to powder
  • Mix with the grated coconut and sugar
For Kadubu:
  • Make small balls from the dough and roll it out to very thin oval shapes of 4-5" length and about 3” width.
  • Spread about 2 tsp of the filling in the middle, making sure to leave a gap of ½ inch around the edges
  • Dip a finger in the milk and brush the edges
  • Now, fold lengthwise, and seal the edges tightly, by pinching it. Make sure to seal it right, else it opens up and messes the oil while frying
For Modaka:
  • Take smaller balls of the dough and roll it out to thin circles of about 3-4 inches diameter
  • Spread about 1-2 tsp of the filling in the middle, making sure to leave a gap of ½ inch around the edges
  • Dip a finger in the milk and brush the edges
  • Now, bring the edges together, gathering it on top and pinch them together.
  • Heat oil in a thick frying pan/ kadai over medium flame.
  • When hot enough, reduce the heat to medium and drop 3-4 at once into the oil and fry them till crisp and golden in color
  • Drain them on a paper napkin.
  • Store in airtight container when cooled. They remain crisp for 4-5 days.
  • The dough for the outer layer should be mixed stiff which gives crisp kadubu.
  • Make sure to seal the edges well

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Deviled Potatoes

Deviled potatoes before baking with cheese topping
I made these Deviled potatoes for a Swedish couple that we had invited over for dinner some time ago. Most of the menu was Indian, but we made sure it had just about 20% of spices normally used, so that they’d be able to eat it! Just to make sure there is something they’ll feel more comfortable with, I made these Deviled potatoes as well for starters, along with Hara-bhara Kababs (coming soon). Both were well received, along with the rest of the menu.

This is a  make ahead starter, and works well for parties, when you can get the starter out with just about 5 minutes of work and less than 15 minutes of baking, without having to spend hours in the kitchen, before the guests arrive. Most part of the work can be done a day or two ahead. I’m in so need of such recipes!!

Ohh BTW, I couldn't take pictures after it was done, and had to take the pic with one left over piece the next day :( So most of these pics are of preparation phase and will update the pics the next time I bake.

Here’s the recipe…

Deviled Potatoes

Preparation Time: 30 min
Baking Time: 10 minutes
Serves 4-5 as starter

For the Potato Jackets:
Potatoes – 5 nos, medium-sized; steamed with skin till firmly cooked
Olive Oil – 2 tbsps
Salt – to taste
Black pepper powder – to taste

For the Filling:
Onion – 1 no, medium-sized; finely chopped
Button Mushrooms – 15-20 nos, cleaned and sliced
Fresh Paneer or Feta Cheese – 1/3 cup, crumbled
Oregano – 1 tsp or any of your favorite herb. I used a mix of thyme and oregano
Salt – to taste

For the Topping:
Mozzarella Cheese – 1/2 cup, torn into pieces
Fresh Basil leaves – 10 nos, cleaned and patted dry on a kitchen towel (I didn’t have any, so didn’t use)


On the day ahead:
Make the potato jackets
  • Cut the steamed potatoes into halves along the longer sides, so you have cups that will sit on their own and won’t wobble when set on a tray. Leaving the skin on forms a firm cover for the jacket. 
  • Scoop out the insides from each halved potato, leaving a 1/4-inch allowance on all sides. Allow the jackets to cool completely, and then store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
Make the filling
  • In a wok, sauté the onions till tender.
  • Tip in the sliced mushrooms and saute till the mushrooms are cooked.
  • Throw in the crumbled paneer/feta, herbs and salt to taste. Stir to incorporate.
  • Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Store in the fridge if making a day or two ahead. If you are making it all at once, simply proceed further.
On the D-Day:
  • Take out the potato jackets and filling from the fridge about a half hour before preparation time, so they both come to near room temperature.
  • Mix the olive oil, salt and pepper powder. Brush the potato jackets all over generously with this mixture and set aside to marinate a bit, about 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F when the jackets are near marinated.
  • Fill the jackets with the mushroom-cheese filling, top with grated mozzarella cheese and a basil leaf.
  • Transfer filled and topped potato jackets onto a greased baking tray and bake for 7-8 minutes till the jackets start shriveling around the edges and the cheese starts to melt.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool 3-5 minutes. Serve hot.
  • If you don’t like to eat mushroom like me, you can replace it with other veggies like onions, shredded carrots, beans, cauliflower, spring onions etc.
  • Can also make it with a spinach corn filling…? Will try it out sometime!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Herbed Pull-apart Bread - For Suma

Suma Rowjee, a dear blogger friend some time back asked me to do a guest post for her lovely delicious blog, Cakes and More. I was more than delighted! She has such a beautiful blog with so many amazing delicacies. And I just love her witty writing. I make sure I don’t miss her post for two things - a nice write up and a nicer delicacy! Do check out her blog for some amazing baked delicacies, and also a few traditional recipes. 

Here's the bread i baked for her blog - Herbed, Garlicky, Pull-apart bread, but baked in a bundt pan. Do check it out here. Thanks Suma for hosting me at your lovely place :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Creamy Apple and Carrot Soup

Soups are one of the must have’s at our place as part of the dinner menu for guests. Every time I make it, I make sure there is some change in the ingredients and taste, so as to not make it repetitive.

After coming here, Crème Fraiche is one of my favorite grocery items, among many others! It gives such a nice taste to soups, salads, pastas, etc that I have fallen in love with it! When added to this soup, it definitely gives an edge. Along with carrots, potatoes, apple and crème fraiche are the star ingredients here. And the result is a fabulous, flavorful, creamy soup.

Apple and Carrot Soup

Preparation time       : 5 min
Cooking time             : 15 min
Serves             :  4 -5

Carrot - 1-2 medium sized
Tomato - 1 small
Potato - 1 medium sized
Apples - 2
Ginger - 1” cube
Black pepper powder  - ½ - ¾ tsp
Salt                  - ½ tsp or as per taste
Sugar               - ¼ tsp or as per taste
Water              - 2 cups, change acc to consistency
Milk - ¼ cup
Dried Thyme - ¾ tsp; Can use your favorite herb
Crème Fraische - 2 Tbsp

  • Peel and chop carrots and potato into large chunks; Core apple and chop them too.
  • Cook the chopped carrots, potatoes, apples and tomato in a pressure cooker with a little water for one whistle
  • Let it cool for a few minutes
  • Grind the cooked carrots, potato, tomato and ginger, adding the water used for cooking the veggies if necessary, to make a fine paste
  • Strain the puree to a vessel
  • Add salt and pepper powder and let it boil for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add thyme, and milk and enough water to get the consistency you desire
  • Let it boil for a couple of minutes more.
  • Put off the heat and add crème fraische and stir well
  • A small onion can also be added to give a different flavor
  • Don’t skimp on the crème fraiche. It definitely gives an edge to this soup!