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Showing posts from July, 2009

Dhokla for Indian Cooking Challenge

What's an easy recipe? I've found that the answer lies not in how complicated a process is, but in how familiar we are to the dish. Growing up with a cuisine helps. For don't I dish out punjabi chhole and rajma masala with elan, but shudder at making appams. Because Indian cuisine is so varied, there are enough challenges for everyone to pick from. Just what Srivalli's brainchild, the newly minted Indian Cooking Challenge wants to do.

We have a long list of dishes that would be familiar and homely to some but unknown challenges to the others. The first one, dhokla, should tell you that. I've eaten plenty of this Gujarati staple as a snack but my couple of attempts to make it at home were total failure. Enter Srivalli's recipe, which I followed verbatim - the only change was my steaming the batter in idli moulds, the only steamer in my kitchen.

I am sure there would be tons of versions of this recipe floating around today, but here's a condensed version. I di…

It's cookie time at Daring Bakers

Is it that the Daring Bakers challenges are getting easier, or is it that I am getting to be a better baker? Either ways, my first two challenges have been a breeze.

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

We had the option of making either or both the cookies. Now, I've made marshmallows in the past but it's not an experience I want to repeat anytime soon. And I am not a big fan of mallows, those sweet sticky chocolate covered marshmallow cookies, anyway. So I decided to make just the milanos.

Making the cookie was simplicity itself. I divided the recipe by a third, so I first creamed 60 gms butter with 110 gms sugar. Then added 2 egg whites, one at a time, using my hand mixer to blend it in. In went after that 2 tsp each of vanilla and lemon extracts. Yes, everyone thought that was way too much. And although others didn't thi…

We're reading "The Space Between Us"

That's the book "This Book Makes Me Cook" chose to read for July. Set in Mumbai, Thrity Umrigar's book is a story of ties that bind a widow and her household help of many years. The book draws you in with it's mature and sensitive portrayal of these two lives, the complex relationships that divide them and the events that bring this divide to fore. What made the book a bigger hit for me was that all of it was so real : the Parsi household, the slum Bhima lives in and the very vividly described Chowpatty.

In fact, the scene at Chowpatty, where both the employer Sera and the maid Bhima are at equal footing, and where the story finally unfolds, is my favorite in the book. Which is why I decided to make the Bhelpuri both women were eating at Chowpatty. But Bhelpuri, that mishmash of ingredients that makes a delicious whole, is street food I never think of making at home. It's not even a recipe really, for all you need to do is get all the 10 odd ingredients and…

An English Afternoon Tea

Because I am hosting DK'sAWED : Britain this month, you already know I love British cuisine. But really, what I like a lot more than the food are the traditions that accompany the cuisine. Take the afternoon tea. There's lunch, and there's dinner. And then, for no reason whatsoever, the Englishmen concocted an elaborate ceremony at 4 pm to not just drink tea. But drink tea alongwith sandwiches and cakes and scones.

For my entry to AWED, I decided to host a traditional Devon cream tea. I borrowed my mother's tea set (for who owns these things any longer) and set about making the cucumber sandwiches and apricot scones, topped with strawberry jam and clotted cream. The scones, just by the way, are from eatmedelicious, my taste and create partner this month. And if you must know, that is a lace tablecloth.

And here are all the recipes:

Cucumber Sandwiches : If you are using homemade white bread, slice it as thinly as possible and cut the crusts off. Spread a layer of softene…

Yet Another Sushi

But it's a new rolling technique that I am really excited about. The lasttwo times I made sushi, I rolled the rice and veggies fillings in nori sheets all right, but they seemed to tear when I cut it into pieces. So I improvised. And I am so, so pleased with the results I am getting from this rolling technique.

First, get your ingredients in order. Cook 1/2 cup sushi rice or any short grain rice you have, as per package directions. Mine says to soak the rice for 15 minutes, then cook on a low heat for 20. While the rice cooks, mix 2 tbsp rice vinegar with 3/4 tbsp sugar and a pinch of salt, heat in the microwave for 10 seconds until boiling and well blended. Spread the cooked rice on a place and pour the warm vinegar mixture over it. Cut your filling in thin strips. I didn't want my babycorn raw, so I put it in the microwave with a tbsp of water for 30 seconds, then spread it on a plate and let it cool. I also found a handful of good looking mint leaves.

I hope you bought your …

My 200th Post and Another Wishlist

Even as I completed my first 100 posts back in November and posted my first wishlist, I was pretty sure I will end up adding many more things I want to do by the time I do the next one. And so it is, a much larger wishlist for my 200th post

But first a report card. I had 25 foodie things to do on my first wishlist. Of these, I managed to do eight. If this was an exam, I'd fail miserably. But thankfully, there's a second chance and plenty of time to do the 15 that make an appearance again on this list. There are two that are going away because I no longer want to do those.

So here goes:

1. Eat at Alinea. (Earlier : Eat at one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. And no, Bukhara doesn't count, even if it ever makes to top 50)

2. Delve into the alchemy of food. Create something, anything that qualifies as molecular gastronomy.

3. Make fresh mozarella cheese

4. Make fresh pasta

5. Taste blood oranges

6. Cook with rhubarb

7. Make mango pickle like mom

8. Make appams

9. Eat …

From A Year in Bread : Carrot Herb Rolls

I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already at a year in bread. Admittedly, they started in April and I had an early start in February working my way through their year. But I still can't believe I have baked so many breads already and it's only two more to go before their first year ends.

For October/November, the three bakers all baked holiday breads. Tempting choices of rosemary fans from Beth and yeast beer rolls from Kevin. But the third one is something I'd heard so much already about from fellow foodies. Plus I've never made anything savory with carrots before, least of all a bread. So Susan's Carrot Herb Rolls it was.

I followed the recipe religiously, except for substituting the three different herbs Susan used with just thyme (a great match for carrots, just so you know!). The rolls came out a beautiful color, and were so, so delicious. Of all the recipes I've tried from a year in bread so far, this one's going to be on my all-time favorite l…

Better late...

Back in May, when our book club read Five Quarters of the Orange, the only recipe I wanted to create from the book was Framboise' sour cherry liqueur. I've never before tried a recipe given out by a fictional character in a novel, but this was an interesting idea and cherries were in season. Somehow, the liqueur never got made and I missed the may challenge.

Now that cherries are almost gone and I am trying to eat as many of the last batches as I can, I finally got around to making the cherry liqueur. I've read the recipe so many times I didn't even need to open the book this time. In a glass jar (with no metal lid, mind you! mine had a glass lid too), arrange cherries in a single layer. Sprinkle powdered sugar all over. Add a little vodka. Continue adding layers in this fashion until the jar is half full. Mine took 3 layers of cherries and sugar. Now add enough vodka to fill 3/4th of the jar.

Now wait. For a year, or two. In that time, the cherries will make the liqueu…

Announcing AWED : Britain

Before I ate my first Italian wood fired pizza, before I went to that swanky Japanese sushi bar for the first time, or the neighborhood Chinese joint, the first non-Indian cuisine I encountered was British. Not real food, mind you, but the tempting, oh so delicious descriptions in my favorite novels. From Enid Blyton to Jane Austen to P.G. Wodehouse, every favorite character in every favorite novel seems to have food on their mind.

Yes, British food gets ridiculed a lot. But forget their main course dishes for now, and think of the full English breakfast and the elegant afternoon teas. Then try imagining the world without cucumber sandwiches or potato chips and you will realize you can't do without British food.

Which is why when I saw that DK was looking for hosts for her monthly event AWED (A Worldly Epicurean's Delight) and there has never been a British AWED, I promptly signed up.



The rules are simple really:

Make any vegetarian or vegan British dish (eggs are allowed in A…

Surely, you jest!

This is what David Lebovitz wanted to say when first faced with this tart shell. And this was my reaction exactly when David unleashed the recipe on unsuspecting public. I mean, aren't tarts those pastry shells made delicately with cold, even frozen butter. Melted, hot butter doesn't come into it. But David's friend Paule Caillat says it does. I didn't believe it, but I wanted to try it.

Because it sounded rich, I decided to omit sugar in the shell and bake a savory tart. I also divided David's 9-inch tart recipe by a third to do my small 3 inch tart. First, mix 30 grams butter, a tsp of vegetable oil and a tbsp of water. I used salted butter so omitted the pinch of salt this warranted. I also omitted the tsp of sugar called for in the recipe, but do add it back if you are making a sweet version. David says to place this mix in a 210 C oven for 15 minutes. I put it in a small metal bowl and put it on the stove top on very low heat until the butter began to brown.

R…

MEC Roundup : Breezy Breakfast Ideas

You people are fabulous. I was nervous hosting my first ever event, thinking no one will send in an entry. And here we are, with 16 quick and breezy breakfast ideas to start your day instead. To Priya, who sent in four wonderful breakfast ideas and to bluespriite who sent in her first ever event entry and to everyone else who came up with these beautiful breakfast dishes : A BIG THANK YOU!

Now on to the roundup. I've divided the entries the way I divide the breakfast dishes in my head. For me, breakfast is either sweet and fruity or hot and savory. And then there are drinks. So it is in this roundup. First, the sweet breakfasts.



First on left are Priya's Muesli N Chocolate Bars. It's chocolate and it's healthy. What else can you ask for!

Next to it you see chocolate in a decadent version. Bluspriite says her Chocolate Cake is the quickest ever. I say it's the best breakfast idea I've ever heard.

Another healthy muesli recipe from Priya on bottom right. Her Swi…