Mar 14, 2016

Thandai Yogurt Panna Cotta with Rose syrup....Holi Special

With the most major and vibrant festival of India round  the corner the Indian blogosphere is buzzing with delicacies.Yes ,I am talking about the festival of colours Holi, the festival of sharing love, the festival of fun and frolic.The use of colours symbolises the prosperous and colourful spring after the winter. Its a joyous celebration of the rejuvenation of nature, of happiness and peaceful coexistence.

This festival overcomes the barrier of language, caste and creed and portrays love and brotherhood. Smearing of colours on each other's faces, throwing water filled balloons, dousing buckets of coloured water on each other, music, dance, loads of sweets and of course the Holi special Bhaang and Thandai is what this festival is all about.

Thandai is a very popular drink of North India served during Mahashivratri and Holi. Its a cold drink prepared from a mixture of almonds, watermelon seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom, pepper, vetiver seeds, rose petals, saffron, milk and sugar. Its taken in chilled form and is terrific when the temperatures soar and cools you down, as the name suggests. Thandai is available off the shelves in the form of powder or paste or else can be prepared at home and stored.

The 31st Foodie Monday Bloghop Theme is Thandai special and Fusion. I love the racking of my brains when the word fusion crops up in the food world. And after quite a bit of nerve wrecking thinking about what our guests would love to gorge on after playing Holi in the piercing, scorching
 heat of Goa, I finally zeroed down on a chilled Yogurt Panna Cotta flavoured with Thandai with a rose syrup drizzle on top.Yogurt, Thandai and Rose, all have cooling properties  and I am sure this platter of chilled dessert is going to soothe their system as well as give a stylish fusion touch to my Holi buffet table.

Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert prepared by cooking cream, sugar and gelatine. I have used Greek yogurt in the recipe with a little cream which gives a nice creamy texture to it and the addition of Thandai gives a spicy edge to it because of the pepper present in the Thandai and the cooling rose syrup imparts the desired amount of sweetness.The garnish of pistachios, almonds and saffron with fresh rose petals gives the Italian Panna Cotta a gorgeous Indian look. I have used store brought Thandai paste but for making at home, the best Thandai powder recipe is available in my talented friend Alka's Blog Culinary Xpress.

 ( serves 4,in small ramekins)
For the Panna Cotta
7 fl oz Cream
10 oz Greek Yogurt/ Hung Yogurt
3 Tbsp  Fine Sugar
1 Tbsp  Gelatine
1/4 C hot water
1/4 C Thandai Paste,store brought
For the Garnish
4 tbsp Rose Syrup ,store brought
A handful almonds and pistachios,chopped
A few strands of saffron
A few Fresh rose petals or dehydrated rose petals


  • For the Panna Cotta mix the gelatin with the hot water properly till no lumps remain and keep aside.
  • In a heavy bottomed saucepan gently heat the cream with sugar over low flame just enough for the sugar to dissolve, stirring all the time.
  • Remove from heat and add the gelatin mixture and mix till incorporated, set aside for cooling for 10 mins.
  • Meanwhile loosen the thick yogurt with a whisk in a bowl.
  • Once cool add the cream mixture and the Thandai paste to the yogurt and whisk gently together.
  • Now pour the cool creamy yogurt mix in ramekins evenly filling them up,cover them with cling film and refrigerate for 5-6 hours to set properly.
  • For plating the Panna  Cotta, dip each ramekin in warm water for a minute and invert it onto a serving plate .
  • Add a few drops of water to the rose syrup if you feel it's very thick and drizzle on the Panna cotta.
  • Serve garnished  with slivered almonds,pistachios,saffron strands and rose petals.

This version of Panna Cotta can also be made in individual glasses, garnished and served.
Other than this fusion Panna Cotta I have Pomegranate Jelly and vanilla Yogurt Panna Cotta and Poached Peach and vanilla Panna Cotta recipes in my blog.

Enjoy the heavenly fusion dessert and a happy vibrant Holi to you all!

Mar 11, 2016

Murgh Shahjahani/ Chicken Shahjahani

Murgh Shahjahani...the name itself sounds so royal and transports you to the Shahi Mughal Era, it's history, art, culture, architecture and the rich culinary legacy they bequeathed to us. According to food historian  Salma Husain, there's more to Mughlai cuisine than the greasy mashup of masala and oil. She says in her recent book which is on Mughal emperors and their food habits that there was a subtelty to the cuisine which is missing in this age' s Mughal fare. Mughal cooking was a riot of colours and fragrances and her book gives an insight to how Mughal cooking evolved from Central Asian blandness to Indian richness. 

This delightful creamy Chicken dish is cooked with aromatic spices,cashew nut  paste ,yogurt and cream which give a nice smoothness to the rich gravy.Shahjahani is a method of cooking where the ingredients are simmered for a long time.This is a famous dish in Agra and every gourmet hotel and  every roadside stall in the gullies near the Taj Mahal offer this speciality and it's a hit.

The internet is full of Shahjahani Murgh recipes and every recipe is different from the other but cashewnuts and yogurt are a common ingredient in every recipe. Thankfully I have stuck to one of my favourite recipe book "Chicken Delight " compiled by the MasterChefs of India and this book has been a saviour since the year I got married. I have churned out succulent chicken tikkas to creamy curries for my guests from this book and the masterchefs have never let me down.

Though the recipe doesn't ask for marination,I personally prefer to marinate the raw chicken with masalas as marinating infuses the flavours and keeps the chicken moist while cooking.

1 kg Chicken,curry cut
5 tbsp Refine oil
2 Bayleaves/ Tej patta
3 (1cm) pcs Cinnamon/ Dalchini
8 Green Cardamoms / Choti Elaichi
2/3 Tsp Caraway Seeds/ ShahJeera
8 Cloves/ laung
1 C onion ,chopped
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Chilli powder
5 tsp Ginger paste
5 tsp Garlic paste
1/2 C Cashewnut Paste/ Kaju paste
 3/4 C Yoghurt ,whisked
1 C Hot Water
Salt to taste
2 1/2 tbsp Cream
3 Eggs ,boiled and quartered
1 1/2 tsp Black Cardamom/ Badi Elaichi Pwdr
A small bunch fresh coriander,chopped

  • Marinate the chicken with little turmeric,salt and chilli powder for half an hour.
  • Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan over medium heat.
  • Add the Bayleaves,cinnamon sticks,green cardamoms,caraway seeds and cloves,sauté until the spices begin to crackle.
  • Add the chopped onions,turmeric and chilli powder,sauté for a minute.
  • Add the ginger garlic pastes,fry for 3-4 minutes till the raw smell goes away.
  • Now mix in the Cashewnut paste and sauté for  a minute.
  • Add the marinated chicken pieces and cook for 10-15 minutes on medium heat.
  • Pour in the whisked yoghurt with the hot water and salt( make sure you put only to cater for the masala as the chicken has already been marinated with the salt),cover and simmer for 10 -15 minutes
  •  more over low flame.
  • Finally when the chicken is cooked add the cream and black cardamom powder and mix.
  • Serve garnished with the eggs and chopped coriander.

Mar 7, 2016

Chocolate swirled Banana Loaf as my first entry for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop

Chocolate and banana make one amazing combination and to die for. And when I got to know the theme for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop as Microwave cooking I knew I had to bake this cake which was on my to do list since long.Starting from this Monday I am a part of this talented group of food bloggers who have included me in their group and I am one of the privileged few.This is the 30th Foodie Monday Blog Hop and the theme is Microwave cooking which includes not only cooking in Microwave mode but in Grill, Convection and Combination mode too.

There is something genuinely very therapeutic about baking.Whenever I am feeling low I turn to baking and have always felt the erratic negative energy fade away. Basically it is constructive and helps to focus and it's impossible to describe the immense amount of satisfaction that I get seeing my own creations.

This Chocolate swirled Banana Loaf had been in my mind for ages since the time I saw it in At the corner of Happy and Harried .Just one look at the chocolate and banana treat is enough to say that it won't stay in the cake tin for long. Its a nice way to use the ripe bananas sitting on the kitchen counter. Its a lovely teatime cake and perfect for picnics too.

 This marbled chocolate banana loaf has zero butter and the addition of oil and buttermilk keeps it moist and soft and makes it comparatively healthy.I doubled the measurements to make some swirled cupcakes in addition to the loaf for my little one's lunch box.I am planning to pipe the cupcakes with ganache next time I bake these for my children's tea parties once the holidays set in.

1 3/4 C. All purpose flour
2  large Eggs
1/2 C Safflower ,Canola or any refined Oil
1/3 C Buttermilk
1 C Brown Sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
1C  2-3 Mashed Bananas
1 tsp Vanilla extract
3 Tbsp Dark Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Salt

  • Turn on the microwave to Convection mode.Adjust the temperature to 170 deg C.Pre heat the oven to this temperature and grease a loaf pan and line with a parchment paper.
  • Sift the flour, soda and salt together in a bowl and keep aside.
  • In a mixing bowl beat the eggs,oil and buttermilk together till well mixed and creamy.
  • Add the mashed bananas, brown sugar and vanilla and mix till combined.
  • Add the sifted dry ingredients to the batter and mix till just combined.
  • Remove 1/3 rd of the batter in a different bowl and mix the cocoa powder with it and mix well.
  • Pour spoonfuls of both the batters alternately in a loaf pan and with the help of a skewer or knife make a few swirls along the batter making sure to go down till the base of the pan.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or till a skewer or toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Am sending this delightful chocolate swirled banana loaf to the 30th Foodie Monday Blog Hop for the Microwave Cooking Theme.

And to Sarah of Maison Cup Cake and Helen of Casa Costello for their weekly event Bake Of the Week.

Feb 11, 2016

Valentine special...Gajar halwa cheesecake pie/ Indian style carrot pudding cheesecake pie

Last one month has been hectic, like a roller coaster ride with loads of housework, looking after the kids, my voluntary work, social commitments and so on.Sometimes blogging does take a backseat with priorities coming my way.

I am just back from the city of Destiny,Vizag after attending the International Fleet Review where my better half performed for the air show and I sat there in the enthralled audience mesmerised and proud as he and his fly boys roared in the Vizag skies in their fighter jets defying gravity with their heart flipping manoeuvres.

Like many people I also knew what the words duty, loyalty, respect, selfless service, honour, integrity and courage meant.But how often do we see someone living upto those values. In the defence services I see the soldiers living them everyday, every moment and in everything they do whether on duty or off duty.

With the hubby embarked on the aircraft carrier as usual, this Valentines Day is also a lonely one with
the kids to give me company. Well, after eighteen long years I am used to the embarkations and deployments and there's no use cribbing and complaining about something that's not in our hands. Myself and the kids have reconciled to the fact that he is for our country and that's what gives him satisfaction. My heart cries for my kids when they feel sad and miss the father's presence on their birthdays, school annual day, sports day and important days in their lives.


On occasions like these I cook his favourite dishes and we miss him a little less.Gajar ka halwa being one of his favourite desserts and with the bright red carrots thronging the veggie market I decided to make a fusion dish with the carrots.After my cheesecake classes I had some cream cheese lying in the refrigerator and the idea of this unique cheesecake struck me.I made them in small tart moulds and  a pie dish to give a different look to the no bake eggless cheesecake.The cheesecake pie turned out to be perfect and mind blowing with the unique flavour of gajar ka halwa ,a perfect fusion of the East and West and a keeper for sure .A little different from the usual chocolates and strawberries dominating the Valentines Day menu and that's what makes it distinct from the rest. 


For the Gajar ka halwa/ Indian style carrot pudding
1/2 kg Fresh Red Carrots,grated
1 lt full fat milk
1/2 tin Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp ghee/ clarified butter
Chopped dry fruits

For the Pie Crust
1 C biscuit crumbs,powdered in the grinder
A little less than
1/3 C melted butter

For the Cheesecake

 3 oz Whipping Cream
4 1/2 oz  Cream cheese
1/2 C Gajar ka halwa
2 tbsp powdered sugar
A pinch cardamom powder
For the garnish
1 tbsp Pistachios,chopped
2 tbsp Gajar ka halwa

For the Gajar ka Halwa

  • Cook the grated carrots with the milk  in a wok in medium flame, stirring in between till the milk dries up,takes around 30-40 minutes.
  • Add the condensed milk and sugar and cook till it dries up again,for nearly 20 minutes.
  • Add the Ghee ,dry fruits and cardamom powder and fry the halwa for 10-15 mins stirring constantly till the colour changes to a bright red colour .Fry till the consistency you want,I like mine a little dry.
  • Switch off the flame.

For the pie crust

  • Add the melted butter to the ground biscuits and mix till well combined ,I use digestive
  •  biscuits.
  • Press into the bottom and sides of a 8 inch pie dish with a removable base uniformly.
  • Refrigerate for 15 minutes while you prepare the cheesecake.

For the Cheesecake

  • Whip the whipping cream in a hand mixer for 3 minutes till it stands in soft peaks.Make sure the whipping cream is cold.
  • Add the cream cheese and sugar ( if needed)and mix with the cream with the mixer in low speed till incorporated.
  • Add the gajar ka halwa( room temperature)and  cardamom powder and combine all with a spatula in the cut and fold method gently.
  • Pour the mixture into the pie dish and garnish with gajar ka halwa and chopped pistachios.
  • Return the dish back to the fridge and let it set overnight or for 5-6 hours.
  • Unmould from the pie dish and serve cut into slices.

A happy Valentine's Day to all!!
Do take a look in my friend Parinaaz ' s blog A dollop of that!whats cooking for Valentines.She has a beautiful blog with mindblowing pics and mouthwatering recipes .

Red velvet trifles

And Sweta's blog  Oriyarasoi- a cosmopolitan Odiyas kitchen has lip smacking  recipes of different cuisines from around the world but she specialises in authentic Odiya recipes.Do have a peep what's special for her Valentine.
No bake strawberry delight

Jan 10, 2016

Perfect Snickers Brownies

One more year has passed away into history and how time flies just right by you. The last few years have been a blur, like a whirlwind ...moments have just rushed past.The beautiful moments in life always accelerate  and you want to grasp it and hold on to it as long as possible.

My kids are growing up so fast..the elder one has already shot past me and the younger one is growing out of my lap.Soon will be facing the empty nest syndrome and am already dreading it.If only we could have a time machine and we can go back to spend some precious times with our children.I know I will pay anything to have another day with my kids when they were babies.

And during one of those gloomy days,pondering over my thoughts I baked these gooey, chewy,moist,heavenly brownies layered with snickers for my babies.This was sitting in my drafts since a month and what better day than first post of a brand new year, my favourite and the perfect chocolate brownie.My perfect brownie is chewy in the sides and fudgy in the middle.The added melted chocolate makes these brownies more dense ,rich and chocolatey.The addition of snickers to the batter takes it to a different level altogether.You can personalise it by adding candies,nuts or chocolate chips but the basic brownie recipe remains the same which gives a perfect
shiny,crackly top.

You Require
2/3 C all purpose Flour
1/3 C cocoa powder
10 tbsp butter,unsalted
4 oz chopped dark chocolate
02 Eggs
1 1/4 C ground sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
50g x2 snickers bar,chopped


  • Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.Line a square 8x8 inch pan or a rectangular 13 x5 inch pan with a greased parchment paper for easy removal of the brownies.
  • In a bowl whisk the flour and cocoa powder together.
  • On a double boiler melt the butter,add the sugar and chopped chocolate and whisk till smooth.The mixture will be grainy.Remove from heat and let it cool till lukewarm .
  • Add the eggs to the lukewarm chocolate mixture and beat with a hand mixer in medium speed for 1 minute,add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.
  • Add the whisked dry ingredients to the mixture and beat for 2-3 minutes in medium speed,this is necessary for the perfect brownie recipe.
  • Add the chopped snickers to the batter and mix with a spatula.
  • Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or till a toothpick comes out with little crumbs stuck to it.
  • Cut into squares when cool and store in an airtight container.

Enjoy the dense,chewy,fudgy brownies with chunks of snickers in between.
These brownies are going to Helen of Casa Costello for her baking event Bake of the week.

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