Aug 11, 2010

Nutty prune Cake...after a long break

Well, I can blame this unexpected break  from blogging on my internet connection,the computer which crashed suddenly,shifting accomodation,settling down with two kids  blah ...blah ...blah.The only good thing that happened with me during these two months was that we shifted into a bigger house and all the extra stuff that was lying for years in those boxes are out and breathing some fresh air and yes how can I forget to mention that now I enjoy my tea and the goan monsoon relaxing in my verandah,the rains lashing trying to spoil the peaceful feeling,the balmy breeze tingling your face and watching the sudden sprout of greenery all therapeutic for the mind ,body and the soul. A respite from the hot weather,the bonding of the family over some hot pakodas ,chai and a game of scrabble ,a ride on the sleek ,flashy Ninja (Biplab is a passionate biker and this is the new addition to our family)in the rains with my better half ...thats what rains are for me.So now everybody knows what I was upto these last few I shouldn't be cribbing about the net connection and the computer!!!!
This nutty prune cake  was baked during one of those balmy rainy evenings and got wiped out within minutes.The cinnamon and the peanut butter combo imparted a nice unique flavour to the cake.The wholemeal flour with the nuts and prunes make it a healthy cake for the children,a must try and a sure hit!

You Need
125 g (4 oz) butter
1/4  C crunchy peanut butter
1/2 C  sugar
2 eggs
1 C wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking pwdr
1 tsp cinnamon
a pinch salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped prunes


    1. Beat together butter,peanut butter and sugar until creamy.
    2. Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
    3. Stir in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk and beat until smooth.
    4. Lastly add prunes and beat well.
    5. Place in a greased and lined loaf tin or a slab tin and bake in a moderate oven(170 or 180 deg C) 40-50 mins until cooked.If desired, sprinkle with 1/2 C finely chopped walnuts before baking.Leave in tin few mins before turning out.

Our new Ninja

May 18, 2010

Guchhi Dum Biryani(healthy version)

The other day it was already more than 12 in the afternoon when I entered the house after my normal weekly market trips.I had an hour in hand to make a filling ,sumptuous lunch for the foodies in my life.The first question thrown to me when they enter the house is "aaj khane mein kya bana hai?" much for taking me for granted!Sometimes I also sweetly reply(if I am in a grrrr kind of a mood)Lauki and Karela...Love the look on their faces :)

I rummaged the fridge  to scoop out something of the previous day but then I was in for utter dissapointment.The packet of mushrooms peeped out from my shopping bags  and before I could put it on the kitchen counter the Sanjeev kapoor's Khana khazana"Accompaniments "drew my attention which was lying on the microwave.And lo and behold! the combo did wonders....I rustled up a delicious Mushroom Biryani within an hour with a Aloo ka raita.The saffron and kewra with the whole garam masalas and the aroma of the Basmati wafted through the whole house when my hubby dear entered for lunch.Seeing the pleased look on his face I knew what was coming and before he could open his mouth I silenced him By saying "Aaj khane mein Karela bana hai"!!!

This is a healthy version of Mushroom Biryani and is made with only 2tsps of oil.I gave the name Guchhi to it as it sounded very Nawabi and a little different.Mushrooms are called Guchhi or Khumbi in Hindi.The Biryani turned out to be amazingly tasty and was relished by all of us.

You Need

Fresh button Mushrooms-15 to 20 medium sized,cut into quarters
Basmati rice   -1 1/2 cups,washed and  soaked for 1/2 an hour
Onions-2 medium sized,sliced long and fine
Ginger-1" pc
Garlic-5 cloves
Fresh corinder leaves-1/4 medium bunch,chopped
Fresh mint leaves      -1/4 medium bunch,chopped
Tomatoes  - 2medium sized,pureed
Skimmed milk yoghurt -1/2 cup,whisked
Saffron-5-6 strands,soaked in 1/4 cup warm skimmed milk
Bay leaf -1
Green cardamoms-2
Black cardamoms-2
Cinnamon- 1"stick
Mace - 1blade
Red chilli pwdr-2tsp
Coriander pwdr-1 tbsp
Crushed Peppercorns-1/2 tbsp
Cumin pwdr-1/2 tsp
Turmeric pwdr-1/2 tsp
Garam masala pwdr-1/2 tsp
Kewra water(optional)-4-5 drops
Salt to taste

  1. Peel, wash and grind ginger and garlic into a fine paste.
  2. Boil 4 cups of water in avessel,add bay leaves,cloves the cardamoms, cinnamon, mace and 1 tsp of salt.When the water starts boiling,add rice.
  3. Cook for 8-10 mins ,stirring frequently or till rice is 3/4th done.Drain in a colander.
  4. Heat oil in anon stick pan,add onions,stir fry on high heat till onions turn translucent.Add ginger garlic paste and cook briefly.
  5. Add chilli pwdr, coriander pwdr, crushed peppercorns, cumin pwdr and turmeric pwdr.Stir fry a little and add pureed tomatoes.
  6. Continue cooking over high heat till masala is fairly thick.Add yogurt, garam masala pwdr and half the quantity of chopped coriander and mint leaves.Stir well and cook for 2 mins more.
  7. Add mushrooms and salt to taste and stir fry on high heat for 2 mins and remove from heat.
  8. Arrange the cooked rice and mushroom masala in alternate layers in a biryani handi or an oven proof dish, sprinkling the chopped coriander and mint leaves ,the kewra water and the milk with saffron.Ensure that the topmost layer is of rice .
  9. Cover the assembled Biryani with a tight lid and seal the edges with a kneaded Atta (wheat flour) dough.
  10. Keep the dish on a tawa or iron griddle and cook on low heat for 10 - 15 mins.Alternatively cook in a pre heated oven at 160 deg C for 10- 15 mins.
  11. Break open the seal and serve Biryani immediately with a raita of your choice.

May 13, 2010

Iced Cajun Coffee

With the summer in, the temperatures soaring and the mercury rising with every passing day the only respite are the summer chillers .Nothing says summer like a desi lassi, healthy fruit laden shakes and smoothies,cool old fashioned lemonade,colourful juices or ice cold ,creamy coffee shakes.Today my post is a creamy coffee shake adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's store of recipes.The drink is a very easy to make and in a jiffy recipe.The ingredients of this recipe were a little different from the Cajun Coffee I had in Oslo which had rum, molasses and nutmeg powder in it.
You Need

4 tbsp Instant Coffee Powder
4 cups cold full cream milk
4 tsp Vanilla essence
4 small pinches cinnamon powder
Crushed Ice

  1. Blend instant coffee powder, full cream milk and vanilla essence in a blender.
  2. Pour over crushed ice in tall Collins glasses.
  3. Sprinkle cinnamon powder over the top and serve immediately.

May 9, 2010

Chocolate Sesame Cookies

The heat,the humidity,the holidays are playing havoc with my senses now.Oh ! how I love the Russian summers now.In Moscow I used to crave for Indian food ,the weather ,the people and suddenly here I am missing the colourful and pleasant  moscow summers.After nine months of bone breaking winters the russians love the bright and lovely summer and enjoy the beautiful sunny weather to the fullest.There is a buzz of activity everywhere, people everywhere....sunbathing, cycling, rollerskating, boating, just chilling out with some russian Kvass (a russian drink made from rye bread)and soaking in the summer sunshine.I used to feel energised and lively during the summers there,here in goa the humid and hot weather makes us feel dehydrated with a lethargic feeling all day long.
But then with the holidays starting Mishti plans a tea party every second day for her friends,thank god she atleast has the courtesy to ask me before inviting them,otherwise I would have gone bonkers by now.Thanks to Mishti my baking books are out from the closet now.Last week I baked some nice ,chewy chocolate cookies with sesame seeds sprinkled on it and it was a hit with the children.The recipe is adapted from Nita Mehta's Bakes and Cakes.
You Need

Plain Flour  -60 gm
Cocoa          -30 gm
Butter (softened)-75 gm
Powdered Sugar -60 gm
Vanilla extract    -1tsp
Sesame seeds(white til)-2tsp

  1. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  2. Add Vanilla extract and beat again.
  3. Sift flour and cocoa together.
  4. Add flour to butter and mix gently to form a soft dough.
  5. Form into balls,flatten them and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 deg C for 13- 15 mins( my oven took 20 mins)on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
P.S- If the dough feels too soft to form balls,keep it in the fridge but do not add any extra flour.

I am sending these cookies as my entry for Bangalore Bakers' this week's Bake-Off event.
These are some pics of our Moscow stay clicked by us during the summers.

The onset of autumn, end of summers,Monorail with the Ostankino Tv tower
A church near the Ostankino lake near our Apartment

Flowers in full bloom,kuzminki
Roadside landscaping with flowers,opposite kievski vakzal

Apr 23, 2010

Mississippi Mud Cake

When Mishti heard the name of the cake she didn't find it appetizing and  refused to touch it...she thought Mama dear used the messy mud to bake the cake...but when she saw all of us gobbling down the sinful chocolate glazed pieces she forgot all her inhibitions about it and gorged on the cake.
The name reminded me of the novel" Uncle Tom's Cabin"in which the river Mississippi featured and which was our syllabus english book in std 6 .I was so fond of the book that I had read and reread the book numerous times.The character had evoked so much of sadness and sympathy for him in me that I would cry thinking about the agonies,the pain and the suffering that he and the other slaves had gone through.The humiliation and the torture faced by them  was too much for a young reader to handle,may be that's why the story is etched in my memory till date.
Do not judge a recipe solely on its title:).The cake was rich, dark and moist ,the taste was awesome which made us crave for more and more!I made the recipe  a bit healthy by adding oil instead of butter and cream.The topping had less dark chocolate than what the recipe asked for as I had run out of cooking chocolate.So me thinks the cake would have been mercilessly tasty if I would not have omitted the above ingredients.So go ahead with this recipe and let me know how it turned out to be.

You need  :

185 g(6oz)  butter ,softened(I used 4 oz vegetable oil)
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup cold black coffee
4 eggs
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup cocoa pwdr
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking pwdr
a pinch salt
1 tsp Vanilla extract
100 g block cooking chocolate,grated


  1. Put all the ingredients except chocolate into the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed for 1 minute,scraping down the sides of bowl while beating.
  2. Pour into a greased lamington or slab tin(i used a round one) and bake in a moderate(180 deg C) oven for 40-45 mins or until done when tested.
  3. Carefully remove from tin onto a wire cake cooler,sprinkle the grated chocolate over the hot cake.Leave for 1 min and then using a spatula or knife,spread the softened chocolate over.Leave until cold and sprinkle some chocolate sprinklers before cutting.

Apr 13, 2010

Janhi Aloo Posto....Ridge gourd and potatoes cooked with Poppy seed paste

A Oriya recipe finally! The recipe was sitting in my drafts for a long time and I just kept postponing it.Janhi aloo posto is one of my favourites ,the recipe posted here is straight from my mom's kitchen.This curry is a regular side dish in lunch during the summers at my mom's place.Most of the poppy seed based curries are eaten with rice in Orissa as rice is the staple diet here.Till  date I don't enjoy this with Rotis or Chapatis.
Janhi or better known as Ridge gourd in English or Turai in Hindi is cooked with diced potatoes in posto bata or poppy seed  paste or khus khus in hindi.The poppy seeds impart a rich creamy texture to the curry.The ubiquitous Posto or poppy seeds is a very common ingredient in a Oriya kitchen.It is normally ground on a shila bata or a grinding stone which is  a rare thing in modern kitchens now.The paste can be made in a mixer grinder also.
The Ridge gourd is a summer vegetable,with lot of minerals and with absolutely no fat content.It is mostly considered bland and not relished by many.
The mustard oil with its sharp taste and aroma gives a distinct flavour to the curry.In Orissa most of the curries are mustard oil based,even the pakoras or gram flour dumplings are also deep fried in mustard oil.

You Need
Ridge Gourd  - 3 long peeled and diced into 1" pcs
Potatoes      - 2 medium size diced into 1" pcs
Kalonji or nigella seeds ( kala jeera in oriya) - 1/2 tsp
Mustard oil   - 2 tbsp
Turmeric     -1/2 tsp 
salt to taste
Water      - 1cup

 To be ground into a paste
Poppy seeds or posto -3 tbsp
Garlic        -4-5 flakes
Green chilly- 2 long (if you like your curry spicy)

  1. Take 3 tbsp mustard oil in a wok and heat it till smoking point.
  2. Add the kalonji,let it splutter, then add the diced potatoes ,keep it on medium flame while stirring.
  3. When the potatoes are little cooked add the diced janhi or ridge gourd ,turmeric and salt.
  4. Stir  it ,cover and cook till the curry is nearly cooked.
  5. Add the posto bata or poppy seed paste to the curry,the posto can be ground in a mixer grinder with garlic and chilly,the poppy seeds can be soaked in little milk for 15 mins before grinding.
  6. Add the water,stir and let the veggies simmer with the paste till it is semi dry which takes nearly 5-7 mins.
Serve with Rice and  Dal and enjoy!

Apr 4, 2010

Southern Italian Soup and a memorable birthday

When I was a little girl March was the favourite time of the year for me as mine and my sister's birthday fall in this month.As time flew priorities shifted from myself to hubby and now the children and strangely the favourite months have also changed. I still remember those years, the night before my birthday I would have butterflies in my stomach and usually the earliest one to wake up that day, a feeling of insane anticipation.When did that feeling disappear? It's not that I don't enjoy my birthday anymore but I guess, I am not overwhelmed by an uncontainable excitement anymore. Since  my 30th birthday I have started dreading  March as I feel that with each passing year I am losing those golden years of my life. Insecurities!! I constantly keep on chiding myself  to shed these insecurities and cherish old moments and look forward for some new experiences and anticipation in life.
This year was really special and memorable as I had all my near and dear ones celebrating my birthday as  I completed one more year in the span of life, a new milestone towards eternity. My mom, dad, hubby, my children, my sis in-law, my sister and her husband with gifts, surprises, cakes, shopping, god!....I felt like a little girl again after all those years. Thank you everybody, love you all!!
I am posting one of my favourite,hassle free soups, a Sanjeev Kapoor creation. The soup is full of veggies, screams health, a stomach filler and a keeper for sure. The fresh basil and the celery stalks impart a herby aroma to the soup. This soup has been made so many times as dinner at my place that the recipe is known by heart now. I have tweaked it many a times by adding mushrooms and boiled chicken or with chopped chicken loaf  but the recipe posted here is a pure veg one.
You need:
Carrot  - 1 medium chopped finely
Potatoes - 2 medium diced finely
Cabbage - 1/4 small sized ,cut into small dices
Tomatoes - 2 medium sized
Onion   - 1 medium chopped finely
Garlic   - 4 cloves chopped fine
Celery  - 1 inch stalk chopped fine
Fresh Basil - 6-8 leaves chopped(reserve some for garnish)
Olive oil  - 1 tsp 
Macaroni - 1/4 cup
Veg stock or water - 4 cups (can prepare veg stock with Maggi or knorr cubes)
Salt and pepper to taste, preferably white pepper pwdr
  1. Blanch the tomatoes for 2-3 minutes, peel deseed and puree them.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan,add onion and garlic and saute till translucent.
  3. Add celery, carrot and potato pieces. Stir continuously and cook for five minutes.
  4. Add cabbage, tomatoes and cook stirring continuously.
  5. Add salt, pepper, basil and macaroni, stir and add 4 cups of vegetable stock or water and bring it to a boil.
  6. Lower the heat and simmer till the vegetables are cooked and the soup has thickened.
  7. Garnish with fresh basil and serve hot with some dinner rolls.

You can put dry basil if fresh basil is not available. Enjoy!

Mar 9, 2010

Corn and mushroom on toast and a loss of a dear friend

Has been a miserable week for all of us!

A pall of gloom has set in here in the naval base since the last six days after we lost two of our best fighter pilots in an air crash while performing a spectacular aerobatic display in Hyderabad.One of them was a dear friend of ours,it's difficult for us to believe that he is no more amongst us.

As fighter pilots' wives our brains have been mechanized to come to terms with the fears of the unspoken .We wives live in the everpresent shadow of potential loss.But still the pride and patriotism takes a backseat when an incident like this jolts us out of the blue and an inner fear grips our heart and the Big Question pops up "who next"??

Death is inevitable ,permanent,universal,and cannot be reversed.Just understanding this helps a lot to deal with the loss.But when someone important to us dies,it feels comforting to think magical things like"he is on a secret mission and will be back soon".To be honest I am sad ,angry and frightened.
My dear friend,the deceased's better half is in agony,devastated,struggling to cope with her loved one's loss.She needs our love and support more than ever.God give the ladies enough strength to overcome the pain and grief they are going through during this juncture.That's all I can wish now.The officers were perfect gentlemen,the country's best pilots,great human beings.Their untimely death is a huge loss to the country,to the armed forces, to their family and friends.May their souls rest in peace!

Johnathan Larson quotes

I feel much light now,I had this knot kind of a feeling in my heart.Sharing my thoughts with you all
has given me a little respite from my inner turmoil.Just jotting down your feelings does help a lot.
My recipe today is mushroom and corn on toast.A very easy to prepare filling snack.I prepare this mostly for breakfast or for dinner with a clear soup in tow.The recipe here caters for two.

You will need:

Bread slices -4 toasted to your taste and buttered
Button Mushrooms-7-8 medium sized ones,sliced thinly
Tinned sweet corn -1/2 of a small tin
Spring onion -2 onions with the greens,chopped fine
All purpose flour -1 tbsp
Milk -3/4 cup
Cream - 1 tbsp
Oregano -1/2 tsp
Olive oil -1 tsp
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Take 1/2 tsp olive oil in a pan.Saute the sliced mushrooms for 2-3 minutes or till golden.Keep it aside.
  2. In the same pan fry the whites of the spring onions till transparent in 1/2 a tsp oil.
  3. Add the flour and fry till light brown .
  4. Add the milk stirring continuously so that no lumps remain in the white sauce.Stir in a low flame till you attain a saucy consistency.
  5. Add the sauteed mushrooms,sweet corn,the spring onion greens,cream and the seasonings.
  6. Remove from fire before it gives a boil .Spread the sauce on buttered toasts ,sprinkle some oregano and serve.
When I run out of spring onions,I flavour the sauce with a little garlic and onions(the pink ones).

Feb 25, 2010

Steamed Chicken with tangy Spinach and Mushroom sauce

I feel like ranting and raving to everybody I meet that I have started blogging AGAIN finally!I feel elated, on top of the world today while I am typing my post.Taking care of 3 kids(hubby taken into consideration) is not an easy task but then taking some time out for yourself is everybody's birthright.Though I am not able to read or watch my favourite programs but then I am sure blogging is surely going to give me immense satisfaction at the end of the day.
Today's recipe is steamed chicken with a thick tangy spinach and mushroom sauce.A very healthy dish.Those who cannot have steamed chicken can shallow fry the marinated chicken breast with a little olive oil.The tomatoes impart a tangy flavour and a rich red colour to the sauce.The recipe provided here serves 2 persons.

You will Need:
For the Sauce:
Chicken Breast- 2 Pcs
Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
Spinach - 1 and 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Mushrooms(button)-6-7 medium sized,sliced
Tomatoes -2 medium sized
Garlic - 5-6 flakes
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Salt and pepper to taste

Salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice -1 tbsp
Oregano - 1/2 tsp

  1. Marinate the chicken breasts with salt ,pepper,oregano and lemon juice for an hour .
  2. Steam the pieces in a steamer for 25- 30 minutes.
  3. For the sauce heat some olive oil in a pan, saute the sliced mushrooms .Stir fry till golden.Transfer to a plate.
  4. Heat the rest of the oil in the pan,add garlic,fry till light brown.
  5. Add the chopped onion,fry till they turn translucent.
  6. Add the tomatoes and cook till the oil separates.
  7. Now its the turn of chopped green spinach,cook the spinach till a little dry,the water from the spinach imparts a saucy texture.
  8. Finally add the sauteed mushrooms with the seasonings.
Check the seasonings and serve the sauce with the steamed chicken or pour generously over it.The recipe is a hit in my household .I normally serve it with garlic bread and some steamed veggies.

Feb 23, 2010

A Comeback!!

Wow!!I still can't believe I have finally found some time for blogging.The last few months have been incredibly hectic with my pregnancy,with my little one being born and of course our posting back to India in Goa.During all this time though I missed blogging I had my priorities lined up.A big Hug and a Hello to all my blogger friends..hey hope you guys haven't forgotten me!!I missed you all.
I am back in Goa now,the land of sun ,sand and sea...all settled with my hubby and daughters.Yes, the new addition to our family is a little brat who controls our lives.We have named her Wamika and fondly call her Tweety.Mishti is a proud and doting sister now,strangely I don't have to worry about sibling rivalry or deal with temper tantrums from Mishti's side.Thanks to my stars.But still I feel these months were a roller coaster ride for me with my hormones surging up and dipping down.But then now aaalll eeeezzzz well!!:)
Will post a recipe very soon.Cooking has always been an integral part of me except during the initial months of my pregnancy when my hormones played havoc and I lost interest in the blog and food.I could not stand the sight of my blog as they had food pics...strange ....I am glad that period is over.Back in Goa I am on a socialising spree .We have already done the house warming and celebrated our 12 th marriage anniversary too .In short I have been cooking and cooking and cooking.Will bounce back with a recipe soon.The pic is of my little one...tweety:)
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