Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hyderabadi Dessert - Andey ka Halwa (Dessert with eggs)





This is an earthy dessert known in every household of Hyderabad but simply taken off the dessert list perhaps, forgotten under the humongous list  of desserts we so desire to try out.It is very simple and that could also be another reason for it's having disappeared; paradoxically the very same reason why it is a pleasure to  prepare and serve. At my place it is my father in law who makes this seldom, but enough to rake up nostalgic and lingering memories from childhood for my husband and his siblings who missed their dad as he was never around in their growing up years due to working overseas and it was a sort of homecoming when he arrived during their summer vacation once a year and took to whipping up desserts in the kitchen for them to relish.If you are a hyderabadi you wouldn't agree less that this truly takes you back into time.

Ingredients

Eggs - 4
1 litre milk
4 tbs maida/ white flour
4-5 cardamoms finely crushed
Sugar  8-10 tbs as per your taste
5-5 tsp ghee
Almonds and cashews flaked and toasted 

Boil the milk until it is reduced to approximately half it's original quantity and let it cool.Beat the eggs and add it to the milk along with sugar. Now, run the milk and egg mixture in a blender for 3-4 minutes or use a hand blender until it is foamy, add the cardamom and maida and blend once again for a minute.Now return the thoroughly incorporated mixture to a non stick pan and let it cook on a low flame all the while stirring it to avoid burning.Keep adding a teaspoon of ghee at regular intervals while stirring from time to time until all of the ghee is used up.The mixture begins to solidify into a dry mass and the ghee begins to appear on the edges.When it's completely dry and soft,add the flaked and toasted nuts as a garnish and serve hot.

You could also use bread crumbs instead of maida the quantity remains same.This dessert must always be served hot.



Thursday, July 17, 2014

How to host an Iftar party for Ramadan


 



Hosting an Iftar party can seem like a task but if properly planned it can be an occasion to remember and cherish.It need not always be done on a grand scale sometimes a quick soirée with some baked goods and savories thrown in along with a pot of hot steaming tea and some cool juices and dates will suffice.However if you have some time at hand then you can plan it with ease and don't fret about arranging one at home successfully,I have got the basics covered for you.Lets get to the basics for a stylish soirée the Arabian style


1. Printing invitations is so much easy with options available online for free.Plan your guest list and print out some cool invitations with geometrical patterns and Arabic calligraphy.

2. In the Middle East it's a norm that well to do people just give their entire homes a new look with fresh painting, furniture, festive furnishings, silverware and latest electronic gadgets.However, you don't have to overspend if it is beyond your means simple things like changing the cushion covers and add ing bright accents through some festive rugs and throws can create a whole new look to your home.

3. Candles candles and more candles it adds an elegant nuance to your home and no Ramadan is complete without lighting up candles on ornate candle stands, tea light pieces, mosaic and filigree lamps every single night of Ramadan if you are still not into it then begin looking for bright oriental pieces to add that warmth and a play of shadows and light to your rooms to create the festive mood.

4. An open metal bowl filled ith water and scattered with rose petals adds drama and it is so popular in the middl east to jazz up the mood of an Iftar party. 

5. Rooms perfumes are another way of reviving the senses so go for aroma therapy, floral or woody scents if you prefer you can use frankincense,Bakhour and Myrhh which are natural and give a refreshing smell to your entire home. So get the incense burning for that oriental feel and  enjoy the Arabian traditions this Ramadan.
 
6. Play Quranic recitations or soft relaxing music to create that ambience.

7.Now it is time for some great table linen, and serve ware like a cake plate with a dome and three tier dessert stand in glass or metal to arrange your dates,cookies and savory assortment of nuts. Some beautiful ramekins, or appetizer sets can be used to serve appetizers.also you will need some beautiful glasses to arrange sherbets and beverages for guests.Now you are ready to serve your treats from bite  sized delectables to yummy puddings do it with panache.

8. Rustle up some salads, cold and hot appetizers,a main course along with some dessert and you have a full blown dinner party for people to rave about.

9,Arrange a room with a pile of clean prayer rugs for people to pray.

10. Begin with some dates, fresh juices and tea/ coffee to  break the fast prior to the prayers so it is light and then proceed to serve the heavy items on the menu after the prayers.

11. Have a small charity sale after dinner as you serve tea or coffee or even a cookie sale so you could use the donations for some worthy charity you like to support.


Three types of Ramadan parties are held - take your pick.The first one is an iftaar party where in guests come in for an iftaar and dinner.The next one is suhoor party and is hosted usually in the last ten days of Ramadan when close friends extended families and relatives visit after dinner for night prayers  that go upto early morning followed by a suhoor meal together and then everyone disperse home after the dawn prayers.The last one is held on the night prior to Eid it is followed by dinner and henna party. This is for the ladies and the hostess arranges for a henna designer for all to have their hands and feet decorated with henna sometimes bangles and jewellery are also put up on display for the women to choose.


So now you have some ideas to reconnect with family and friends with some lovely conversations over long cherished dinners.So Ramadan does not have to be about only Muslim friends and relatives invite your non Muslim friends too so that you share your traditions and culture and promote a sense of harmony.In Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East Iftar parties are hosted for all people to foster a spirit of unity and harmony.I would like to end this piece with a beautiful thought I read somewhere that when we draw boundaries we are limiting and fencing ourselves in so either you could waste your life by restricting  yourself with lines and boundaries or lead a meaningful life by crossing those fences and boundaries.Peace and love to all !











Monday, July 7, 2014

Asian grilled fish fillet and wild rice salad - Ramadan Main course

While keeping up with Ramadan meals I am blogging a light summery dish that should provide nutrition as well as taste great.It is so easy to prepare and hence saves kitchen time.It is absolutely healthy too.

Asian grilled fish

Firm fleshed fish fillets 500 gms
One bunch coriander greens with stalk 
Lemon grass - 2 stalks ( tough part discarded and the tender stalk bruised with a cleaver and then shredded)
Red chillies -2
Ginger- 2 inch ginger piece finely shredded
1 small can coconut milk 
2 tbs red chilli preserve/ paste in oil 
2 tbs peanut oil
Salt as required
White pepper powder a little 

Make a paste of coriander leaves,lemongrass,red chillies,and ginger. Add the peanut oil to the paste followed by the chilly preserve and then mix in the coconut milk remember it should be a thick marinade so don't add more.Now use this as a marinade for the fish fillets that have been seasoned with salt and some white pepper and let it marinate in the refrigerator for about four hrs and then grill the fish either in the oven or in a grid pan. You can also fry the fish  if you prefer. This marinade can be used for shrimps too. In case you live in India and cannot find the chilly preserve in oil you could use any good quality red chilly pickle like Priya red chilly pickle in the same quantity as above but then check the salt level before adding any extra.

Wild rice Salad
300 gms cooked basmati rice
200 gms wild rice cooked 
8 walnuts halved 
3 onions finely chopped
1 yellow pepper finely sliced
1 green bell pepper finely sliced
50 gms raisins 
1 inch ginger grated
Few coriander leaves finely sliced

Dressing
50 ml apple juice
50 ml  olive oil
1 tbs mild mustard powder
1 tsp freshly ground  peppers
1/2 tsp chat masala


In a large bowl mix all ingredients for salad cover and refrigerate.While serving dress the salad with the dressing, add some salt mix to combine the flavors.In Dubai Tilda basmati and wild rice combined packs are available you can use that for ease.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Have a Healthy Ramadan


                                                          

Ramadan is a beautiful month of contemplation like most festivals around the world are and fasting that is part of most cultures in one form or another is a practice of will power and selfrestraint.However, during Ramadan much of this spirit is lost in a world of abundance and a fast paced life.Ironically we end up with more celebration of food and less of the spirit it embodies.So,let us take a moment and also a step back ward and contemplate on what Ramadan means to us and what are the goals we seek to fulfill in this month.


Health: being on a fast for 15-16 hrs at a stretch means to understand the pangs of hunger and also strengthen will power by giving up food and water.It is also meant to create empathy toward the poor and the starving so we are thankful for the bounties we have and at the same time sharing them with the less privileged of people around us.
Unfortunately we end up doing the opposite,too much time is spent on cooking over eating over spending on lavish parties and keeping our family members involved in the kitchen with less time for spirtual gain.

Some tips for an efficient and healthy Ramadan

Plan your menu weekly before you do your shopping for the week.This saves time and money as you don't end up buying things you probably may not use or end up wasting a lot of it.You will find a variety of recipes online you can use to plan the whole month without repetition.Make sure you involve your family in this menu plan so all are satisfied sticking to a goal of healthy Ramadan.

Keep it simple - too much of oily foods are taxing on the tummy and you end up with ill health contrary to what this is supposed to do which is to detox your body by eating less and changing the rhythm of your body.Avoid oily fried food stuff but if you absolutely must then restrict it to one fried food item a day.Dahi vada  is a good thing that features regularly on Iftar tables.You can make the batter for upto three to four days and keep in the refrigerator.Moreover, oily foods cause heart burn and acidity.


Prepping: as I have mentioned above you can weekly prep your stuff in advance like marinating chicken,preparing dahi vada batter,making haleem for the whole week and storing it hygienically in the freezer in portion sizes, wrapping samosas and freezing them for a week etc.This makes the work easy.

Include fruit and vegetables - your Iftar table should pack the maximum punch with fruits and vegetables at least a fruit and vegetable salad featuring seasonal produce of a minimum of five varieties.These replenish the body give you fibre and nutritional benefits too.

Take a break - Ladies take a break don't feel guilty inform your husband that one day in a  week you are going to put your feet up and either your husband prepares the Meals or you order in so you get a breather and also time for your worship.As most ladies feel frustrated that they are tired and don't get to spend more time in spiritual devotion you must simply take a day off a week to focus on other priorities.Husbands do make it a point to go out and treat your wife to a lavish Iftar at a restaurant it's payback time for the whole month your wife dedicates to help you keep your fast, you may not realize but the woman is the Ferris wheel that keeps you going strong during fasting.

Plenty of fluids Since it is summer time, drinking plain water all through the evening leading upto the pre dawn meal helps you stay replenished with fluids through the day.

Avoid salt  and salty food like chips pickles and crisps as it increases thirst and the same can be said of caffeine,limit it to two cups one at Iftar and one at suhoor instead of drinking cups of coffee all through the night.

Reserve a weekend for your festive shopping and preferably finish it all before Ramadan begins so you are less tired in the evening which carries on to the next day of fasting.

If you plan to party then you can save every ones energy and efforts by making it a potluck where everyone pitches in and brings a dish so it is easy on you and your pocket.

At suhoor make sure to increase your protein content by including egg whites, chicken,oatmeal,protein shakes if you plan to exercise and,your meals especially the morning meal should contain a good blend of whole grain carbs and lean proteins and fruits to see you through the day.Break your fast with dates and eat light  and include plenty of vegetables and beans.The whole point is that you don't feel too heavy through the evening.

If desserts are an absolute must then restrict to one a day and dump the sugar and use raw honey and agave nectar which are low on GI.

Drink a lot of water when you spend the most part of your night in worship.

Don't forget your exercise schedule it for the night or early morning.



Let go:The last thing as we detox our body it becomes necessary to detox our mind and hearts too.Without being too didactic all I simply mean is letting go of anger,hurt,resentment,envy and negative vibes we have kept trapped within us for others who may have hurt us.This simple exercise by going back to our past and unlocking the cages of pent up emotion against others does one great thing of freeing us from all the toxicity of negativity that builds up in our body and we soon begin to notice feeling lighter.Forgiving and forgetting, as we seek forgiveness, doing it every single day until nothing remains and trust me it works better than any pill to keep you healthy and radiant.Wishing all the readers happiness and Love.Stay in bliss!



Photo courtesy: Tazur 
Quote courtesy: sharing on what's app 
















Thursday, June 12, 2014

MANGO MANIA MEMOIRS #2

 Continuing with the mango mania this time I would like to share with you the summers and mango season of Hyderabad.Being inland, Hyderabad, has a hot and dry summer and people would begin bracing up for the summer with a few preparations; I would like to reminiscence about those wonderful summer days captured through my memories.It was a time when Telugu wasn't heard so often except occasionally in the telangana dialect.As summer began our home in Hyderabad especially in the colonial style verandah that overlooked the garden and backyard was draped with Khus (vetiver)mats called Khus ki cheekein in Urdu.It required to be splashed with water frequently in order to keep the coolness within the house and the all essential and trusty cooler would be put in place as it blasted jets of cool air sprtizing everything with droplets of water.Well,if you are wondering I am talking about the mid eighties to mid nineties period where most people had large spacious independent homes and flats were beginning to only line up the city.

Then there were absolutely two things to be done making of the Aam ka Panna and mausambi/ nimbu ki shikanji ( a sort of lemonade) this was an old tradition in Hyderabad but later on Rasna also became a frequent feature in summer entertaining along with the panna and shikanji.Food had to be kept light and lot of summer vegetables featured in the menu.The absolutely important summer siesta was written down in iron words and for children like us it was resentful and horrible wasting of the precious vacation time. The summer slumber brought the household to a slow halt and the sounds of the flower seller shouting out motia bahar! Motia bahar! and the occasional tapping of his cart with the cash box woke us up.Sometimes we were allowed to buy the motia bahar flowers after a proper bargain yes didn't I tell you it is a hyderabadi dakhani term for Jasmine.The scent of the jasmine flowers caught our fancy and my mother would patiently make gajras( garlands) out of them for those who were interested to wear them in their  hair.The other most important activity happened to be the kulfi time matka kulfi was getting rare and it had become a commercial item under the many ice cream brands. The ringing bell of the matka kulfi walah had us all in boisterous spirits. We would make the most of our pocket money now  a smile comes to my lips that I never wondered about the hygiene of the ingredients used and though in good faith we never fell sick thankfully but today I would not be able to do the same sadly.So it is a branded kulfi except when browsing through my very own kulfi recipe or when one of my friends make and post.Since it is summer here is a fresh twist on the favorite kulfi with a hint of mango.The pictures are in the order below:Picture of Mango,Mangolada - a take on the classic mango smoothie but replaced with coconut milk and honey, Mango Kulfi and Kairi ka panna.Shikanji is prepared like nimbu paani with half of a small lime squeezed in 200 ml chilled water sugar cumin powder and black or regular salt is added. Crush some ice with a few sprigs of mint leaves and add it to the chilled shikanji and add the sabza/ basil/ tukhmulanga seeds as they are very cooling to the body. They turn gelatinous and the black seeds lend a beautiful touch to the drink.

The other things that I remember are the musk melon, cubed and served with chilled milk and sugar and the same recipe was followed for munjal ( ice apple).These summer coolers kept us quenched and nourished.The mango stalls filled the open places and bargaining went on and every house seemed to be feasting on these luscious fruits.So, coming out of my reverie,today I give you two of my recipes Kairi ka panna  and mango kulfi. My gratitude for Priya who so painstakingly prepared and photographed recipes I am blogging about.As I told you her inspiration was the mango tree in her backyard.


Mangolada 


Mango Kulfi


Mango kulfi

Milk -1500 ml
Sugar250-300 gms
Khoya -5 tbs
Thick cream- 150ml or half cup
Saffron - few strands
Thick mango pulp1/2 cup
Corn starch- 1/2 tbs
Pistachios- blanched and slivered about 25

Method: Boil milk until it is reduced to one third it's original content about 500 ml in this case.Dissolve the corn starch in 2 tbs of cold milk and add to the reduced milk and cook till it  thickens.Now, add sugar and stir well until dissolved . Turn off the stove add the khoya, fresh cream saffron and pistachios .Cool completely now add the mango pulp mix well and then fill the kulfi moulds with the mixture and place an ice cream stick and freeze for four hours. Before serving dip each mould in warm water and gently tug at the stick until kulfi comes out of the mould.Enjoy.


Kairi ka panna ( green mango cooler)
Ingredients:
Unripe green mangoes -300 gms 
Jaggery - 250gms( increase or decrease as per your taste and the sourness of mangoes)
Black salt -10 gms
Cumin - 2 tsp ( toasted and powdered cumin)
Pepper- 2 tsp

Peel the mangoes and remove the seed place the pieces in enough water to submerge and boil them until soft.Now, blend the pieces with powdered jaggery and black salt. strain the liquid and mix it with 500 ml of cold water add the cumin and pepper and serve in chilled glasses with a mint garnish and lime wedges.




photo credits : Priya.M

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mango Mania Memoirs

May is a month of Mangoes and it is Mango Mania in India. the Mango is said to be the oldest fruit of India and there are many legends related to the Mango like the one that fascinates me is Amrapali the courtesan of Magadha empire who is said to be born out of a Mango hence her name Amrapali. Mango is known as the king of fruits and there are numerous varieties of Mangoes but my favorite are the badami rasaal and collector or totapuri mango
Mangoes are so symbolic of Indian summers with the blooming mango tree filled with the aroma of mango and the mellifluous sounds of the cuckoo.I would always ask my mother if the cuckoo /koel never tires of singing and she would say the mango has it so intoxicated- the koel is supposed to peck at unripe green mangoes and their mouths go sore from the acid of the green fruit .
In Andhra Pradesh a mango has a great place of importance and no meal is complete without a platter of mangoes served. We would always begin the mango season with a sort of reverence before consuming the first mango of the season baskets full of mangoes are distributed to the poor as charity in memory and on behalf of dead elders.
Right from desserts, curries, pickles and condiments like amchur mango has a place of pride. I am full of memories, of spending hours under the mango tree laden with blossoms smelling the leaves and frantically chasing the sound of the koel.
The most important dish at home made from the unripe green mango is kairi dal and today I give you the recipe of this great dish that goes so well with steamed rice potato or green plantain fry and or Hyderabad fried mutton (tala hua goshth).
My grandma always made this tangy dish on an earthen stove lit with firewood and she would insist on using dried twigs of the mango as it would impart a great flavor and this is how it was in olden times when preparing savory and tangy dishes like Dalcha,bagarey baingan or tamatar ka kut (tomato pulusu)thewood from tamarind or mango would be used to enhance the flavor.
I will continue with the Mango mania in a few more posts and share some wonderful facts of mango
times and summer times in Hyderabad and coastal Andhra including the country side of coastal
Andhra so watch out for this on my blog.A big shout out to Richa Bhargava and Inspiration for joining as latest follower members of the foodgoddessonline blog family. Thank you!




















Kairi Dal/ mango dal/ mamidikaya pappu
3 fistfuls of tur dal
2 green unripe mangoes ( you can increase or decrease the quantity based on the sourness of the mango and your personal preference)
2-3 green chillies( use the red ripened ones)
One medium size tomato finely chopped
One onion cut into four wedges
Salt as required
A pinch of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder


For the tempering
1 tsp mustard seed
1tsp cumin seed
4-5 fenugreek/ methiseeds
1/2 tsp urad dal
2 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs of curry leaves
3-4 curd chillies or dried red chillies
One onion finely sliced and fried until golden brown

Method

Pressure cook the dal for about 3-5 whistles along with turmeric red chilli powder onion wedges,chopped tomato, chopped green mango and green chillies, then take it off the stove. Let it cool down and then mash the dal with a wooden spoon till a thick and soft consistency is reached. Now heat oil Ina frying pan add the
mustard seeds and when they splutter add the cumin,fenugreek,urad dal,garlic,curd chillies and curry leaves let it brown a little until a fine aroma of the tempering begins to waft now turn off the flame and pour the tempering into the dal and mix well. Before serving,add the fried onions over the dal and serve it along with steamed rice fried vegetables or South Indian stir fries or in the Hyderabadi
manner along side fried potatoes and fried mutton or chicken. It is delicious.

Curd  chillies give it an added punch for those of you who don't know what they are let me just explain regular green chillies are pricked and soaked Ina concoction of butter milk salt and turmeric and is sun dried for a few days - in the morning they are dried and then in the evening they are returned to the butter milk and this process is completed until about a few dys when the chillies turn extremely dry and the buttermilk is completely soaked up. These are stored in an airtight container and used in kairi dal or fired on their own and served with papad and wadi's. They are absolutely
delicious and I can never have enough of them.8f you don't have them on hand use the dried red chillies.


Mango Pickle

My nani( grandma ) used to make one of the best mango pickle in summer in the Andhra manner and there were three different recipes avakai(mango pickle) sweet mango pickle( theepurgai/ kairi ka meetha achaar) and a shredded mango pickle( tharshi) it was such a joy to watch the basket loads of collector mango arrive at our place and all the women folk pitching in to slice the pieces sometimes neighbors helped and it all attained an atmosphere of joy and festivity. As children our chores were to stand guard while the pickle dried in the sun and not let the birds come anywhere close to the drying mango pieces placed over clean cotton sheets out on charpai/ coir cots and occasionally end up eating the pieces. When the pickles were stored in the store room after finishing the pickling process in huge earthen jars wrapped up in flimsy colorful gauge it was a picture to behold. The pickles would then be distributed to family members and neighbors.It was a huge task that had so many people involved and thus become memorable as the pickle would last for the whole year almost until the next mango season.Pickle making came to a halt after my nani passed away but my mother's younger sister has managed to learn the recipes and make it,she usually sends my mother a jar of pickle every year.

My friend Priya who lives in a beautiful villa in chennai and is enthusiastic about cooking had tried her hand at a batch of pickle making this summer and this way she got to use the very organic produce from her garden Mango Tree which gave her a bumper produce. She was kind enough to share images of the tree, her version of the mango pickle which is known in Andhra as mukkala pachchcadi and she went ahead and tried out my recipe of kairi dal and also sent me the images of the dal. 

Mango pickle( Priya's version)
INGREDIENTS
Sour Green Mangoes3
Red Chilli Powder14 Cup
Mustard seeds2 Tablespoons
Fenugreek seeds1 Teaspoon
Salt14 Cup
Sesame Oil12 Cup
Big Garlic6 Cloves
  • PREPARATION STEPS


  • 1
    Use a clean bone-dry ceramic or glass jar.


  • 2
    Wash the mangoes and pat them dry with a clean dry towel and cut them into small pieces and spread them out for about half an hour. Slice the garlic big.



  • 3
    Roast lightly the fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds separately and cool them. Powder them together in a blender jar.


  • 4
    Heat the oil also slightly and allow it to cool.


  • 5
    Put the mango pieces into the bone dry jar along with the garlic. Add the chilli powder, fenugreek-mustard powder, salt. Toss about until well coated with spices. Add the oil and mix well. Close with a lid and let it rest for a day.



  • 6
    Stir the contents the next day with a clean spoon and you may find the oil floating on top and let it rest another day. stir the contents again the following day and its ready for use.


  • 7
    It gets better and better as it marinates and steeps in the spices and oil.


  • 8
    Serve best with cool curd rice or like me, mix it in some steaming cooked rice with a little ghee and Enjoy.


  • 9
    Keeps well for about a month if handled with care. I usually put it into the refrigerator after a week as added precaution.



  • 10
    Note: Yellow mustard tukda can also be added but its completely optional. Always use clean and dry spoons and ladles.





Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter Hot Cross Buns and some memories to share

Ever since I remember I have always waited for the easter bunny to drop by at our school where Easter was celebrated with great fervour and devotion.It always started with Good Friday and the entire week that led  upto Good Friday was a week when we got to see movies depicting the life of Jesus Christ.Then we had a long weekend.The week after it was over we had a surplus of Easter goodies to enjoy.This time, I had been able to follow the festivities at my best buddy Priya's place.Since, I know her from my kindergarten days every year I have seen her mom make all kinds of Easter delicacies and Homemade wine.The whole process of making this wine is like composing a song ( look at the beautiful color of the wine she has pictured over a Piano which belongs to her daughter Tanya an avid Pianist).Now,Priya follows this tradition at her own home and she begins with grapes in earthen jars called Bharani a month before Easter and then she practises Lent for 4o days a practise which sees devotees turn vegetarian and shun alcohol..Since she belongs to Kerala they have a custom of making unleavened Bread called Pesaha Appam and a sweetened coconut and jaggery dipping called Paal.The unleavened bread is cut by the eldest male member of the house on Maundy Thursday after attending Church and over prayers.She sent me a few pictures of the homemade wine from black grapes and the bread.Since Easter symbolises new beginnings I hope it ushers in joy and peace in every home where Easter is celebrated.U.A.E, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan Syria have also taken on the Easter joy.Yesterday I was told by an Egyptain doctor who is a muslim that back home it is celebrated by both communities in a harmonious manner.



                         
                                            



Easter is also synonymous with hot cross buns the one we  have often heard as a nursery rhyme.Hot cross buns were hung by bakers in front of their doors a practise that they felt ensured the rising of the dough for the whole next year.It is also said that when they gift these buns to their friends and loved ones they will remain thick friends for life.To me they are mouthfuls of delicious goodness - warm, sweet and almost comforting with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.I had made some at my home and instead of glazing them with crosses which I found difficult to do without a piping nozzle I ended up by slathering the whole buns in the delicious icing.I made them with wholemeal flour and they were perfect.Hope you will try out this recipe I have adapted from Friday


Ingredients for Hot cross Buns
  • 500gms cake flour(you can substitute 250 gms with wholemeal flour)
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 1tsp cinnamon ground
  • 1/2tsp nutmeg
  • a pinch of salt
  • 10 gms instant yeast sachet
  • 50 gms demerara sugar
  • 100gms butter
  • 100 gms sultanas
  • 200ml warm milk,plus 1 tbs extra
Glaze: 3tbs water plus 1tbs caster sugar
For the iced crosses: 35gms icing sugar plus 1 tspmilk

Sift the flour,allspice,cinnamon,nutmeg and salt in a bowl then add in instant yeast and sugar.Rub butter into the mixture until it attains a crumbly texture then add the sultanas.Stir in milk to from dough.Transfer toa floured surface and work it until soft and pliable.Preheat oven to 200 degrees centigrade, place dough in a large bowl and allow to stand 30 minutes or till it has doubled in size.Once again knock the dough down and
divide into 12 balls.place them slightly touching each other in a square cake tin and allow them to stand an additional 20 minutes.Bake approcximately 30 minutes or adjust the time till they turn golden in color.Glaze the buns by heating the sugar and water mentioned under glaze till about two minutes and then applying it on the buns that have been removed from the oven and let the glazed buns cool down.
Mix the icing sugar and milk place it ina piping bag and pipe crosses or swirls for a change or simply apply it all over the buns like I did with my batch above.These are sure to bring smiles onto your little ones faces.On the flip side you will jealous neighbours quipping about the divine aroma that emanates from your home.Go on make them!

Note: The use of whole meal flour gives them a denser texture and you need to bake them for an additional amount of time which you need to adjust according to your oven but the rule of thumb is a golden brown color and well done buns.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Featured Foodgoddess of the week - Pooja


The Queen of Cakes
Pooja

You are already aware of the old adage 'Having your cake and eating it too!'

If this can fit to describe a person then its none better than Pooja a twenty something beauty, a fellow member on the cooking tribe where we showcase our food among much camaraderie and goodwill.Well, readers eat your hearts out and if  her diva like demeanour is what you are focussed on right now then let me reveal to you she is a doctor by profession and to top it all she creates such lovely cakes. Her cakes caught my eye and I decided to feature her and she very graciously accepted to answer all my questions despite her busy schedule.So, now, you'll know why I call her the queen of cakes.She is blessed with beauty, brains and creativity something that is central to the foodgoddess theme                                                                                                                                                                                             
Tell us a little about yourself?
"I am a doctor and was practising until I took a break to prepare for my exams.I love doing creative stuff,baking and decorating was one of them.I always liked to participate in creative activities, since my undergraduate years.I am always curious to learn something new and internet is my best friend.I believe everything is possible and never give up till I get it right".

How did you get started?
"I started baking on my own trying out recipes from books.I took it to another level and  got a 4 star wilton certification".
She almost credits her mum for the inspiration she lent while baking fabulous cakes and delicious desserts herself.However, her mom kept her out of the kitchen and this sparked her curiosity to an extent, she would try out her own recipes and made sure she never left a trace or clue for her mom to find out.Her father was her best bet when it came to tasting followed by her neighbours.I can almost vouch for that if she showed up with an experimental dish none would refuse it owing to her gorgeous looks


 Tell us about your memorable experience?
"I was probably in fifth or sixth grade when I took a fancy to making a miranda cake and snow balls.My partner in crime was my best friend Priyam.We started off with the snowballs following a recipe book but much to our dismay the snow balls turned out into cricket balls with a burnt crust.They were so hard that we decided it was more fun throwing them in the pond.My mom hadn't the slightest clue about our misadventure and to someone like her who considers her kitchen a temple it was a test cleaning up"she says.

She reiterates good bakers must be good cleaners or atleast pay someone to do so.Later, her education and rigorous routine of studying medicine kept her away from baking until recently she began giving vent to her creativity.She loves watching cake shows and paying attention to intricate details.
I bet this is true because of the level of precision that comes with using a scalpel, has been adequately channelised into her cake decorations.

What has you going ?
"I am always attracted to creative cakes and believe you have to satisfy all senses.The presentation should have a high  regard for neatness and perfect finish.When we cut the cake the layers must be perfect and the knife should slide through perfectly and one bite should almost have you hooked on by the moist melting touch on your palate.This is what I always work towards" she says 

 What are the most popular cakes and trends?
"The most searched for and to die for recipe is the super moist Red Velvet Cake or Cupcake.It's truly one of my favourites"I totally agree there is nothing like it, heaven on a plate or rather your palate".

What to keep in mind while baking cakes?
The biggest rule is to preheat the oven to the correct temperature and to make the cake on the same day as the batter.The secret to a moist cake lies in the first step of mixing butter and sugar to a creamy consistency.She points out that while adding flour it should be done in parts alternating with the liquids as it lends in better chemistry".She also cautions never to rush the icing as its better to be late than sorry.Always follow the recipe to the tee is her next advice.

"She insists that the best cakes are made with lots of love and the simplest decor.For her, baking cakes has been a stress buster and she is happy to observe that it almost always brings everyone to the table at home.She adds that most often her cake is missing even before it can be decorated.She also points that there are lots of cakes that can beat a chocolate or a red velvet cake which happen to be her favourite.Having said that she also maintains that gluten free cakes too taste awesome".

Do you plan to take it to the next level?Any future venture of a cake business or tutorials?
"I am not sure how far I would take this but its always going to be my most cherished talents.As of now I enjoy teaching my friends family and look forward to learning more I hope to make a wedding cake one day and that's my mark for now and I will never be satisfiied" she reiterates as it's a journey of baking she relishes as much as the taste.

So how do you strike a balance with the doctor and the cake thing?
"Its my pursuit of creativity that lends a passion to it she says.To all doctors and other professionals her advice is it's never difficult to pursue other interests,just make time".

"It's four in the morning and I am trying to make sense of it all" she gushes and signs off by saying that baking is one sweet and irresistable adventure for her and I truly agree with that and she sure is one hell of a hard working girl who balances her profession with her creativity and yet cherishes being that simple young girl, loving and joyous and I am sure she will go a long way, her good looks well as I told you is an icing on the cake.Prince charming are you listening? Well, best of luck Pooja you are a true foodgoddess at that.


Photo credits: Pooja
Featured Cakes:The cakes are redvelvet magnolia recipe. The last cake is red velvet and white vanilla  in layers.The purple and pink buttercream cake is humming bird cake,the fondant cake is red velvet  with gumpaste decile flowers.Pink buttercream cake and cupcakes are supermoist chocolate cake .The cupcakes aer of 6 varieties namely red velvet, black bottom cupcakes, vanilla cupcake , blueberry and lemon, humming bird cupcake, chocolate cupcake. All with buttercream icing.




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Gulkand and Rose Sherbet/Cordial

Gulkand or candied rose preserve tastes like a hint of romance on a spoon the kind that makes up Keats and Wordsworth Poetry too heady sweet and delightful. I like it in a Paan (wrapped betel leaf) no not the ugly kind of images associated with addictive pans but the kind befitting elegant dinners taken out of a silver filigreed and ornate pandaan(betel leaf box)containing betel nut, cardamom, cloves, gulkand, rolled up in a silver foil and pinned with a glaced cherry.It tastes yummy and it is supposed to aid digestion.Well, my husband tells me that his grandmother almost always treated stuffy noses and simple colds with a paan containing all of the above ingredents and a dash of peppermint crystals.One peppermint paan at bedtime and the cold cleared up by morning.

Dried Roses are an integral part of Nizami, Mughlai and Avadhi cooking.Dried roses are used in Nihari, Paya,desserts and drinks in addition to Paan.The Persian spice powder advieh always contains dried rose petals.I cannot resist the urge of buying a box of organic dried roses and I use them a lot in my cooking.There is a special rose petal and nuts chikki (brittle) that is easy to make just add toasted rose petals.The rose petal preserve is good eaten on it's own and helps to impart a radiance to your complexion  Both the ancient traditions of  Ayurveda and Unani medicine extoll the health benefits of roses.You can add it to an almond and raisin smoothie or stuff it in gulab jamun for a fanciful dessert.Be creative in the kitchen with a handful of dried roses but always ensure to buy organic edible rose petals.Use a few rose petals to prep up your garam masala powder.

Gulkand
I cup rose petals/buds
1 cup sugar
1.5 cup water
1/4 cup rose water
a few walnuts crushed coarsely
a pinch of edible pink -red color(optional)

Clean the roses remove the sepals and stems or use only the petals put them in a wide pan on slow flame keep stirring with a wooden spatula and let the petals turn a little crisp but be careful not to scorch the petals.Discard the petals that have a pale yellow or white tinge to them Remove from the fire and let them cool.Meanwhile, heat the water and when it begins to boil add the sugar and let it cook until it is reduced by half its original quantity and has a good consistency.Now add the rose petals and rose water and cook further till it achieves a thick consistencyNow add the walnut pieces and mix well and then take it off the stove allow it to develop a flavor.Cool and preserve in a sterilized jar.I added a pinch of color to enhance its appearance for the picture but this is optional and without the color it is a little reddish brown in appearance.

Rose petal Sherbet

A summery drink that helps cool off the heat and great to carry for a picnic.In the picture I have used the Pandora sterling silver charms as background for my photo.If you come to Dubai just don't leave before buying some trust me they are beautiful and add a touch of glamour to your bangles and bracelets.

2 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tsp rose water
2 tbs rose syrup
Juice of one lemon
1 cup organic rose petals
Ice cold sparkling or still water
crushed ice

Combine water and sugar and let it simmer on low heat until sugar dissolves completely.Now turn on the heat and let it boil for a further ten minutes.Take it off the stove and cool.when the syrup has cooled down add the rose water, rose syrup, lemon juice and rose petals.Stir well and keep refrigerated ina clean bottle.
To serve, add 3 tbs of the rose sherbet in a glass top it up with sparkling water, crushed ice and serve.











Thursday, March 20, 2014

Happy Nuroz - Recipe for zard pulao- gulkhand - rose sherbet/rose petal cordial



Happy Nuroz- Yes I love all things Persian and yes we have a great influence of Persian in India and also I love the Farsi language and from whose folds and with a mingle of Hindi a new language arose called urdu and I can speak read and write in it as fluently as I can Hindi, English, Telugu and Arabic and I am greatly interested in other cultures and I try learning about them through books and travel.

Well, we don't celebrate Nuroz but I get to see it celebrated all round me with pomp and fervour and what interests me further is the fact that it has a close connection to sankranti, holi and ugadi and definitely its influence found its way through the route of history to India.However the fact that all these great cultures that celebrate their uniqueness are all  bound together way back from ancient times and speak of one cuture and that is the culture of humanity.

Nuroz is celebrated with the arrival of spring which marks new beginnings and it happens to be the first day of the persian new year, you will find great material on this on You tube.The Persian people serve a mixture of dry fruits, nuts and berries which reflect the different tastes of sweet tart etc to symbolise the flavours of life and it surely reminds me of ugadi pachchadi, they serve sherbet and a sweet pudding and display the hafta sheen seven elements like coins,goldfish,green sprouts, vinegar, oleaster fruit and hyacinth flowers symbolising prosperity abundance fertility,patience and new beginnings.They also jump over tiny bonfires they light and it resembles the bhogi bonfires.

There is a great influence of Persian cuisine in India and one that translates to my personal experience is the zard pulao(rose sherbet, gulkhand,nan khatai).During my childhood, it was one thing I detested becoz I could not imagine eating a rice pulao that is sweet.But now I make it sometimes out of nostalgia and yes ironically my kids don't like it either.This is the first part of the post - rose petal cordial and gulkhand come in my next post, you can see them in the picture and I have also put up a mixture of dry fruits, nuts sweet candy and dried cranberries and cherries in the persian style of serving.

This recipe belongs to my great grand aunt and I still remember the beautiful urdu handwriting in which she wrote it down in an old green diary.I still don't know her real name except that she was called pyari jaan at home.She was a fighter married and divorced by the tender age of 12 my grandmother, her sister welcomed her in her home and educated her and she went on to work in the public works department of A.P.She died  on the new year of 2000 in a tragic bus accident while on duty.She had magic in her hands whether fabric painting on sarees, gardening and filling up the garden with blooming roses out of  plant cuttings in every color,to cooking great dishes and making fabulous pickles she did it all in her spare time as if to forget the memories of her past.Stern on the outside she could be very kind (I remember how she saved a cat which slipped and fell into our backyard well in a severe rainstorm in the night with the help of a pail and a torch light,mum and I had joined her much to our horror at the sound of the shrieking cat ...well thats another story). I miss her so much right now.

Zard Pulao Recipe also known as meetha pulao/meethay chawal/zarda
Ingredients
1 cup rice
1/2 -3/4 cup sugar(depending on the level of your sweet tooth)
1 cup milk
A pinch of saffron
1 tbs each of cashenuts almonds and pistachios
2 tbs of raisins
a few drops of kewra(screw pine) water
5 green cardamoms
3 cloves
5 tbs ghee

Heat half the ghee ina pan and toast the nuts and raisins and keep aside.Boil milk and add safrron strands to it until the milk thickens and turns a mellow yellow and  now take it off the stove.Cook rice until 3/4 done and drain.Now heat the remaining ghee in a pan add the clove and cardamoms, when fragrant add the nuts and raisins reserving a few for garnish.Add the thickened saffron milk,sugar kewra water and the rice and let it cook until dry and the grains are apart and well cooked.Garnish with slivers of toasted nuts and serve.










Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Grilled Chicken Peri Peri

Peri Peri Grilled Chicken
Well, I love Nandos Restuarant and I am a great fan of the grills they do.Especially, chicken Peri Peri happens to be my favourite dish and I will always stock up on a wide variety of their sauces and they are very handy while making sandwiches for kids to pack their lunch boxes to school.I just keep sandwich size portions of cut up chicken in freezer bags and in the morning I have to just toss them in a little oil, dried herbs and the chosen nandos sauce like peri peri, wild herbs, garlic etc and  top up with some shredded cheese lettuce tomatoes and they are ready to be packed off and trust me there are no leftovers.Nandos sauces go really well as dips and you can check out their website for lovely recipe ideas.I love the barcelos cockerel - the logo on their bottles it looks kind of cute and do you know it stands for honesty and integrity.Well, there is a legend behind the cockerel and you can read it on their website.

So I made the grilled chicken Peri Peri at home.So, here goes the recipe I created to emulate the one served at their restaurant.Peri Peri is the African bird's eye chilli that left the Portuguese traders who reached the shores of Africa fascinated by the fire it added to their food.

Ingredients:
 60ml Nandos Peri Peri sauce Hot(you could use their medium/mild versions too)
1 chicken cut up into four pieces/ 4 breast fillets
30 ml Apple juice
salt for seasoning
1 tsp five spice powder
1 tsp dry ginger powder
1 tbs lemon juice
30 ml oil
dried herbs oregano/thyme

Clean and dry the chicken pieces rub salt, lemon juice and apple juice,all over them and leave overnight in the fridge. On the day you plan to grill  mix 15ml oil, peri peri sauce,dried herbs,spices in a small bowl and apply the mixture all over the chicken and let it marinate for 2-3 hrs.Grill the marinated chicken until crisp on top with a red brown crust and yet succulent inside.Alternatively, you could cook it on a grid pan with a little oil and let the bar marks appear on the chicken.Use the left over marinade to baste the chicken frequently.Serve the chicken with baked potato stuffed with  a combination of mozarella, cheddar cheese and chives and sauteed seasonal veggies like brocolli, asparagus and zucchini.