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Showing posts from October, 2010

Lazy Weekend Rice

This one's for the sundays you don't really feel like cooking much. Also for days when you don't want to go out and shop for food. As long as you have rice and some tomato puree, you can design this recipe to use whatever you have languishing in your fridge.

For this week's version, I chopped an onion finely. Also found a yellow pepper I didn't know I'd bought and chopped it finely too, minus the seeds. While this was happening, I washed and soaked half a cup of rice and took out a cup of mushroom stock from the freezer.

Next, I heated a tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Added two cloves of garlic that I'd peeled and minced. As the garlic started to sizzle, I added the onion and the peppers. Stirred it around for a couple of minutes until the onion had started to turn brown. I then drained the rice and added it to the pan. Mixed it well with the veggies and let it cook for a minute or so. Next in, 2 tbsp of tomato puree. Waited another minute, then added the mus…

Macadamia Praline Cupcakes

I first tasted macadamia nuts when a visiting cousin brought some back from Australia. The only plant native to the continent down under, macadamias have a subtle flavor unmatched by any other nut. When a friend got me another pack a few weeks back, the only way I could thank him was to bake something with macadamias.

I didn't want a cookie, I didn't want a whole cake (what will he do with so much cake!) so it was clear we were going the cupcake route. But then, I didn't want to just add ground or chopped macadamias to the batter. I wanted a cake where macadamias were the star.

And every time I thought of a cake, I visualized a vanilla cake topped with macadamia praline. I searched everywhere but couldn't find the exact cake I was looking for so I just created something of my own.

First off, I made praline. If you are scared of caramel, you are going to go away now. DON'T! It's simple and not as scary as it sounds. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread 15…

Masterclass Donuts

This post is pure coincidence; a confluence of two events. First, I saw this fabulous donut recipe on Masterchef Australia. I've been diligently following the show since it started but this was the first time a recipe really caught my attention. In a "make this right now" kind of manner.

Then the daring bakers came along and decided that we should do donuts this month. They even dispensed with their usual strict rules and said that anything goes, as long as it is broadly a donut. I've been missing challenges last few months, so this is just the perfect time to return to the club.

Made with a batter rather than a dough, the Mastechef donuts are misshapen and not exactly pretty. But they are light, crunchy and delicious. Following the recipe exactly as given, I rolled my hot, just fried donuts in lavender sugar, then used a pastry bag with a sharp tip to make a hole and fill the donuts with blackcurrant jam.

Unless you are catering to a crowd, reduce the recipe. I did 1/…

A Japanese Street in Mumbai

Just back home after spending an exciting day with Harini. While I'm gonna let Harini tell you about the rest of the day, I thought we should talk about a certain Japanese food festival. Presented by the students of Institute of Hotel Management (or Dadar Catering College as its called by popular choice), the 4-day event was meant to recreate a Japanese street fair. So how would they do that? There was Japanese food, of course. And there was a lot more.

But first, the food. We were given five coupons each with our passes to spend on the food stalls. Between the two of us, we managed to sample everything on the rather elaborate spread:

Okonomiyaki : Savory pancakes made with cabbage and tons of other vegetables. They were nice and crisp but the overly tangy sauce on top destroyed the effect.

Vegetarian Appetizers : The best stall there was! In our vegetarian platter, we got yakitori skewered vegetables, a potato cutlet (who can dislike fried potato) and deep fried tofu in a crispy…

What's in a Podi

I have a notebook full of recipes. It's tattered, falling out at the edges which tells me I started hoarding recipes early, pretty much before high school. There are recipes from magazines, from cookbooks I borrowed from library. I've even pasted recipes that come at the back of certain packages. Then there's a second notebook. This has to be somewhere from the end of my college years. I can't fathom how I got to be so organized, but I went back and added page numbers to both the notebooks and created an index, neatly split into recipe types and cuisines.

This second notebook has more "exotic" stuff from the first Jamie Oliver my library bought intertwined with Sanjeev Kapoor recipes. Then, because this notebook went travelling with me when I moved away from home, it has my first recipes copied from roommates and new friends.

One such recipe is podi, known affectionately as gunpowder. I am pretty sure podi means a generic chutney and comes in several forms, …

Have we talked about Cafe Britannia Yet

There are several reasons why Cafe Britannia doesn't automatically figure as my first pick of restaurants to talk about in Mumbai

1. They are tucked away in a corner of Ballard Estate, a rather long way from home.

2. They are open only for lunch; and they refuse to serve even that on sundays. Yes, on sundays they just stay at home!

3. They aren't big on service. As soon as you settle down in the ancient chairs set around checkered clothed, glass topped tables, they'd rather you order quickly from the small menu set below the glass. The food will show up quickly too, and then the menu clearly orders "Do not stay after you have paid the bill".

4. They don't believe in newfangled things like credit cards.

And yet, I knew we'd eventually get around to talking about this charming Parsi eatery. All for one reason : Berry Pulao. If you are a carnivore, you have parsi specialities like salli boti, patra fish and dhansak to pick from. But for a vegetarian, you on…

Found it!

It turns out my friend wasn't looking for pound cake at all. What finally met his approval as "THE CAKE" was this simplest loaf cake from Dorie Greenspan. At least, it started as Dorie's cake. Given the number of changes I made to the recipe, it's purely accidental it turned out to be as good as it did.

But there's no mistaking the fact it's incredibly simple. First off, I set my oven to preheat at 180C. Then, since I figured my silicone loaf pan could be a part of my previous cake problems, I lined the bottom and sides of a 7 inch metal cake pan with parchment.

My second problem, I reckoned, could have been the baking powder. If you are happy with the taste of commercial baking powder, by all means use that. I made my own by combining 2 parts cream of tartar with 1part baking soda. Sifted 2 tsp of this mix with 1 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 tsp salt.

In another bowl, I mixed 3 eggs, a cup of sugar, 1/2 cup yogurt and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Except I run out of ca…

Pound Cake...FAIL

Or Not a fail exactly, but not perfect either. My friend is looking for a cake he used to eat and love many years ago. He says it was a plum cake, but when I showed him one of those, it turned out to be a different species. From what he describes his cake to be - brown at top, soft and buttery inside, no chocolate or nut or fruit in sight - it has to be a pound cake.

Now I've never made a pound cake before this. But in the past week, I've tried two recipes. The first one was New York Times' Citrus Almond Pound Cake. I don't quite know what happened but the batter was too thin when it went into the oven. It seemed wrong when I put it in, and an hour of cooking didn't make it any better.

The second one, that you see up there, is from smitten kitchen. It was soft, buttery and once I added the glaze that should have originally gone on the NY Times cake, parts of it were totally delicious. But only some parts. I baked it in a loaf tin, and while some parts of the cake …

Dormitory Days

My first home away from home. The company issue flat I shared my first years in Chandigarh with other singles not yet ready to set up a complete home. People transferred away from families. Transient couples who stayed a few days, or months.

It was the interlude between leaving home and starting a real life. My actual "growing up" years. My first brush with compassion, and conceit.

It was also the first time I realized that not everyone, everywhere eats paranthas for breakfast.

Tons of cultural nuances I picked up from other roomies stay with me even now. So do some recipes, new for me then, cherished ever since. This sambar is one of them. Made without any vegetables, even without curry leaves, this is a sambar of a bachelor kitchen. Of a house where everyone routinely forgot to shop for groceries, and the sad looking onion in the corner was the only concession to the sabziwala who stopped by last week.

First you boil 1/3 cup of arhar dal with 2 cups of water, salt and tur…