Saturday, 18 October 2014

445. Pasta stuffed sweet pepper

 Me time!
          Do you ever get some time in a month or a week just by yourself and no one else? No kids, no family, no hubby, etc etc? I do. Not saying that I don't get my space with hubby dear around. He is my biggest supporter in whatever I want to do in life. But there are times we women need to be alone, with no one around. I get those days at least twice a month when hubby attends his medical meetings in the evening. For that evening I am free to cook what I like, which usually means something that he does not like and to watch any program or movie that I want. No one to tell me that candy crush is a kiddie's game, no one to tell me that I am taking too long to solve the sudoku or no one to tell me that I only buy the newspaper for the crossword! For those 3-4 hours, I am doing what I want. It's a great relaxing feeling. But when he gets home, I am happy not to be alone. When I tell him that, he thinks I am crazy, wanting time by myself and at the same time glad that he is at home. But that's us women. He gets his space when I am away attending my Lions meetings! However, I still have to prepare dinner for him. But he gets to watch his action packed movies or absolutely silly supposedly scary movies. 
           So a few days ago when he had to go off for the meeting I made stuffed pepper for myself. Hubby doesn't like eating peppers as he things it upsets his tummy. I, on the other hand love peppers. I tried to make this just enough for one, but landed up with a filling enough for two. 


PASTA STUFFED SWEET PEPPER
For 2

For the filling:
3 tbsp uncooked pasta (take the small variety)
¼ cup cooked sweet corn
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, chopped
5-6 olives
3 tbsp thick tomato puree
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper powder
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp olive oil

2 sweet peppers, any colour of your choice
4 tbsp grated cheese

  1. Slice the top of the peppers. Remove the stem and chop the remaining top part of the pepper.
  2. Remove the seeds and the white part of the pepper with a sharp knife.
  3. Slice the olives.
  4. Cook the pasta in salted water till done. Drain out the water.
Preparation of the filling:
  1. Heat oil in a wide pan.
  2. Add onion and garlic and stir fry it till its a bit soft.
  3. Add the chopped pepper, mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat.
  4. Add corn, olives, salt, pepper, pasta and the tomato puree.
  5. Mix well.
Final preparation :
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Stuff the peppers with the filling.
  3. Place them in a deep oven tray or oven proof casserole. 
  4. Add about 2-3 tbsp of water to the casserole from the side. 
  5. Cover the dish with foil.
  6. Place it in the oven and let the peppers cook for 25 -30 minutes.
  7. Remove the dish from the oven, open up the foil.
  8. Sprinkle the grated cheese over and place the dish back into the oven.
  9. Let it cook for 5 minutes more or till the cheese has melted.
  10. Serve immediately as a side dish or a light meal.
Tips:
  • Use a filling of your choice.
  • Adding a little water helps to create steam. The steam cooks the pepper nicely without it pepper drying up. 
  • Use any cheese of your choice.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste.
You may want to check out the following :
roasted sweet pepper soup
roasted tomato and red pepper pasta

Sending this recipe for the following event :




citrus spice and all things nice



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Friday, 17 October 2014

444.coconut and passion fruit muffins (eggless)

tropical taste

      Coconut is such a versatile fruit. Bake with it, add it in rice, curries, decorate with it. So many ways to use it. I love the taste of coconut combined with a tropical fruit. I hadn't baked muffins in a while, and yesterday managed to bake some. This time round, I decided to combine coconut and passion fruit. I use the sour passion fruit to make juice, add to desserts or add to a fruit salad. I had a few passion fruits left over and decided to use them up in the muffins.The muffins taste really good... tropical flavour. 
       These are early Diwali gifts for my neighbours as the coming week will be pretty hectic. Still got a lot more baking to do and make a few traditional sweet dishes for Diwali. 





COCONUT AND PASSION FRUIT MUFFINS
Makes 24 small ones

2 cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
½ cup desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda (soda bicarbonate)
1 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
⅓ cup oil
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup passion fruit pulp (about 2-3 passion fruits)
½ cup passion fruit concentrated juice *

Topping :
5-6 tbsp desiccated coconut

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the muffin trays or cups with paper cups.
  2. Sift the flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Add coconut and mix well.
  4. In another bowl, add sugar, oil, yogurt and the passion fruit concentrated juice.
  5. Whisk the mixture.
  6. Add it to the dry ingredients. 
  7. Add the passion fruit pulp.
  8. Mix till the flour is all wet. Do not over mix.
  9. Spoon the batter into the prepared trays or cups. Fill it ¾ of the way.
  10. Sprinkle desiccated coconut on top.
  11. Bake for 20 -25 minutes or till done and the tops are light golden brown.
  12. Insert a toothpick or fork into the muffin. If it comes out clean, then the muffins are done.
  13. Remove the muffins from the tray or cups and put them on a wire rack to cool.
Tips:
* To make fresh passion fruit concentrate take the pulp. Put it in a blender and mix it using short bursts. Don't blend too much otherwise the seeds will crush.  Sieve the mixture. Measure the amount of juice. Whatever the amount is you need to add half the quantity of sugar. Mix well. Store the concentrate in the freezer. Use it to flavour cakes and desserts or take about ¼ -⅓ cup of the concentrate, add water to make up to a cup. Serve the juice with ice cubes.
  • I have never used packaged passion fruit juice so wouldn't know how it would taste in the muffins.
  • To remove the pulp from the fruit, cut it into half and scoop it out using a spoon.
  • At first the batter will appear liquidy but let it rest for a few minutes and you will get a spoon able consistency.
  • Instead of sprinkling it with desiccated coconut on top you can use passion fruit flavoured butter icing. Add a tbsp of the passion fruit concentrate to the butter icing.
  • Fresh passion fruit concentrate is available in most Indian stores in UK.
You may want to check out the following :
coconut banana cashew muffins



Sending this recipe for the following events :


east west realm

Bake Fest #36

Anitha's Kitchen Diary
Cooks Joy

DishItOut

Cooks Joy



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443. Spinach paneer balls with tagliatelline

I have come a long way

      I remember whenever I would try out a new recipe on my own or with my friends or kaki, we would follow the recipe word to word. But that was when we were learning. Now its getting the main ingredients and the method correct and then the recipe turns into my way, my method etc. Now, I have the confidence to explore and find easier ways. Don't get me wrong, certain recipes do have to be followed precisely. Can you imagine not adding baking powder or soda to the cake, over fermenting the bread dough, adding more liquid to the roti or paratha dough, adding more salt to the curry, etc etc. There are so many possibilities for a recipe to turn disastrous. I have had my share of failures and some have been beyond repair.
     During my Polytechnic days, my friends and I would dine at each others place quite often. The fun part was that we would also prepare the dinner for us and the rest of the family. At that time, Tarla Dalal's books were our Bible. We would decide on the recipe, shop and cook.
   One of the recipes we would make was her baked spaghetti with paneer balls in spinach sauce. So when Lakshmi Vimala suggested spinach and cream as my 2 secret ingredients for the shhh cooking secretly challenge, I wanted to make baked spaghetti with paneer balls in spinach sauce. However, as I planned out the recipe it took a whole new conversion as I didn't want to fry the balls. Also didn't want to make the spinach sauce as I didn't have enough spinach, but spinach I had to use. So from the basic recipe, I turned mine into different dish. Of course hubby dear would have loved it if  I had fried the balls.









SPINACH PANEER BALLS WITH TAGLIATELLINE
Serves 4-6

For the paneer balls:
3 cups (approx 200g ) chopped spinach
1 cup (125g ) grated paneer
1 tsp coarse pepper powder
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

For the sauce:
2½ cups tomato puree
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1¼ - 1½ tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp pepper powder
10 -12 fresh basil leaves
¼ cup fresh cream

Pasta:
300g tagliatelline
enough water for boiling
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oil

extra olive oil
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preparation of the paneer balls:
  1. Boil water in a steamer.
  2. Place the washed spinach in the tray of the steamer and let it steam for 2-3 minutes or until it becomes a little soft.
  3. Remove the spinach from the steamer and let it cool a bit.
  4. In the meantime add the rest of the paneer ball ingredients to the paneer.
  5. Squeeze out the water from the steamed spinach and add it to the paneer.
  6. Mix and make it into a dough.
  7. Grease your hands with little oil and make balls. I took about a tablespoonful of the mixture and got about 16 -18 balls.
  8. Boil water in the steamer. Grease the steamer tray and place all the balls in the tray. Steam the paneer balls for 10 minutes. 
  9. Remove the balls from the steamer and keep it on the side till required.
Preparation of the sauce:
  1. Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and stir fry till it is soft and cooked.
  3. Add garlic and stir fry for a few seconds.
  4. Add the tomato puree and salt.
  5. Cover the pan and cook till the sauce becomes thick.
  6. Add pepper and let the sauce cool down a bit.
  7. Add the fresh cream and mix well. 
  8. If you need to heat up the sauce again, then use low heat and stir the sauce frequently.
  9. Add basil leaves.
Preparation of the pasta:
  1. Boil water in a deep saucepan.
  2. Add salt and oil.
  3. Add the pasta and boil for 8-10 minutes or as instructed on the package.
  4. Stir occasionally while its cooking.
  5. Drain out the pasta into a colander.
  6. Sprinkle a bit of olive oil over the pasta and mix.
Final preparation:
  1. Spoon the pasta into the serving plates.
  2. Top it with the sauce.
  3. Add the paneer balls.
  4. Sprinkle cheese over it and serve.
Tips:
  • Fry the paneer balls if you like.
  • Can add the paneer balls to the sauce if you like, once the sauce is ready.
  • Use white or spinach sauce if you like.
  • Use spaghetti instead of tagliatelline.
  • Always boil pasta with plenty of water to avoid it from sticking to each other.
You may want to check out the following recipes:

Green pasta
pasta with roasted vegetable sauce
roasted tomato and red pepper pasta


Sending this recipe for the following event:





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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

442. Poppy seeds and sesame seeds crackers

First attempt at crackers

        Priya challenged the Home Bakers Challenge members to bake crackers. As usual the first few days are spent on deciding which recipe to follow, this one, no that one, try them all! Usually don't have time to try them all but the recipes keep on piling up in the bookmarked section. I finally decided on the poppy seeds and sesame seeds crackers. After baking them, I was wondering why I have never tried baking crackers before. They are healthier than the normal cookies and loved them. I use to love the dinner crackers made by House of Manji when I was a kid. These days the dinner crackers have no taste and I have stopped buying them. I baked them two days ago and already they are nearly over. Will have to bake some more.
         Here's the recipe and they are very easy to make. You can use them as canapes for your party. Place small cubes of cheese, olives, a dollop of flavoured cream cheese, salsa. Anything actually. Or just eats on its own.







POPPY SEEDS AND SESAME SEEDS CRACKERS
Makes about 300g (60 -65 small size)
Recipe source: http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/poppy-and-sesame-seed-crackers
Each cracker : 22 calories

250g (2 cups) all purpose flour/plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ - ¾ tsp sea salt or normal salt
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp coarse black pepper powder
60g (3½ tbsp) cold butter
100ml ice cold water
  1.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl.
  2. Add poppy seeds, sesame seeds and pepper powder and mix.
  3.  Either cut the butter into smaller pieces or just grate it and add to the flour mixture.
  4. Using your finger tips, rub in the butter into the flour till it resembles breadcrumbs.
  5. Add the water and form a dough. Do not knead the dough too much.
  6. Divide the dough into 2 parts. Wrap a cling film around one part and put it in the fridge till required.
  7. Grease a baking tray lightly with butter.
  8. Roll one part of the dough about 1-2 mm thick. 
  9. Using a cookie cutter cut out the shapes.
  10. Place them on the baking tray and prick the shapes all over with a fork.
  11. Repeat the procedure with the remaining dough. 
  12. Use up also the leftover dough by rolling it again and cutting into the required shape.
  13. Place the trays in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill the cut out shapes.
  14. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  15. Place the trays in the hot oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  16. After 20 minutes, keep an eye on the crackers. You don't want them to get too brown. They are done when the edges are brown or the top becomes light brown.
  17. Remove the crackers from the tray and let them cool on the wire rack.
  18. Store in an airtight container. 
Tips:
  • I used black poppy seeds and black sesame seeds. You can use any available.
  • Cut into shapes you desire, small or medium.
  • Don't over bake as they will taste a bit bitter.
  • As the original recipe suggested to use baking paper to roll the dough. I rolled it without the papers without any problem. Lightly grease the rolling board or work top.
  • Grating the cold measured butter works great. Got the idea from Chef Micheal Smith.
  • Roll the dough out thin (1-2 mm) as they will puff up on baking.
You may want to check out the following :

pistachio cranberry cookies

double chocolate brownie cookies
baked mathris
Sending this recipe for the following events:

Home Bakers Challenge
Home Bakers Challenge

Bake Fest #36

Anitha's Kitchen Diary

Cooks Joy



Tuesday, 14 October 2014

441. Ghee kera

Nami's banana nu shaak!

  In the Gujarati language there is a saying 'ena ghar ma ghee keda chhe', meaning that that person is pretty much well off, wealth wise. When I was growing up, Saturday would be the day of the week that along with the usual full lunch of dal, shaak, rotli and bhaat, we would have some sweet dish like shrikhand, lapsi, meethi sev or ghee kera. When my kids were growing up, I would give them ghee kera often with roti but on the condition that they would also eat the vegetable we had made. My daughter Nami called it banana nu shaak. After the kids left home, I don't make it that often but today I made some. Brought back fond memories of my childhood and my kids. After the ghee kera would be all over, my mum or dad would put hot kadhi in the bowl, swirl it around and then add it to the rice. It tasted so sweet and yummy. 
  Its a quick fix when you crave for something sweet and go on try and bribe your kids with it, the way I use to. I could eat ghee kera without any other vegetables with roti or on its own. Are you still wondering what I am talking about? Okay lets get to the recipe. Its the most easiest recipe. The reason I am posting this recipe is to share it with you all and hope you and family love it just the way ours did and still do.


GHEE KERA 
Serves 4

4 large bananas
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) the liquid part


  1. Peel the bananas. Cut into slices which are not too thin or too thick.
  2. Add the sugar and ghee and mix it.
  3. Serve with hot rotis.
Tips:
  • My mum use to add more ghee. You can add more or less, whichever you prefer.
  • Don't use over ripe bananas otherwise the mixture will become mushy.
You may want to check out the following:

shrikhandSending this recipe for the following event:


Spice your Life

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

440. Pomegranate and Cucumber Raita

Cooling and filling

      Last Friday and Saturday were very hot and humid. I made my regular lunch on Friday... roti, sabji, dal and chaas, but didn't feel like having that. So opened to the fridge to make a smoothie but got some yogurt and cucumber in my hand instead. So the smoothie was side lined for a yummy raita. I prefer the banana cucumber raita  but didn't have bananas. So I made it with pomegranate and cucumber. It was a cooling and filling treat. Suddenly the weather took a turn on Sunday and its been raining till now. Watching the rains from my window is fine but getting out is yucky! Today, I had to go out to do some veggie and fruit shopping, got wet and feet were dirty. Why don't we dress up according to the weather in the tropical countries? In the western country umbrellas, raincoats, rain boots, slacks etc comes out whereas I have noticed in Kenya and India, we still wear open sandals, carry a mini umbrella and that's it. Seriously these umbrellas offer no protection especially if its windy. Yesterday, I carried one of those huge umbrellas while going to Nakumatt our local supermarket. I just have to cross the main street from my apartment and we are there. On a normal sunny day, that's not a problem but during the rains its a different story altogether. Firstly, the matatus (our public transport vans with ruthless drivers) have no qualms about splashing you with the murky rainwater. I get the feeling they purposely go into the puddles to trouble the pedestrians. Then the pavements are filled with mud and sand making it difficult to walk without slipping. Ah yes coming to the huge umbrellas, everyone carries one so you actually land up hitting each other with it. Someone has to give way and in the process get even more wet. So will I be walking out next time in a raincoat in Mombasa, not really as I don't own one. I will just avoid getting out in the rain as much as I can. In the meantime enjoy the raita recipe. 


POMEGRANATE AND CUCUMBER RAITA
Serves 2 or 4
2 if that's you light lunch

2 cups thick plain yogurt
1 small cucumber
½ cup pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 green chilli, thinly sliced or minced
1-1½ tsp coarse mustard powder
½ tsp cumin powder (jeera powder)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar (optional)

  1. If the peel of the cucumber is thin and nice, then grate the cucumber with it. No need to peel it. I got about ½ cup grated cucumber.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together.
  3. Chill the raita for 1-2 hours and serve.
Tips:
  • I prefer to use thick yogurt. If its homemade yogurt, place it in a muslin cloth to drain out the excess water.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste.
You may want to check out the following:
banana cucumber raita


Monday, 6 October 2014

439.peanut ladoos (jugu ladoo)

For my eldest Foi

   My eldest Foi, my dad's older sister, turned 85 this year. She is still strong and independent. A woman with talent, she has instilled a few values in me, like how to keep a home spic and span. At 85 she still goes around the house with a duster and hates to sit idle.She constantly keeps herself busy, reading both English and Gujarati magazines, newspapers, doing pooja, watching telly and chores in the house. She was a teacher for many years, knows how to knit, crochet, and embroider. Nowadays she does not do the latter two but still knits.New born babies in our family get a sweater or booties from her.She also taught me that when travelling with jewellery, be it real or fake, its best to put the earrings, chain link, and the bangle through a safety pin and then put it in its pouch or bag. This way even if the custom people go through your stuff, there are less chances of anything going missing. I haven't seen anyone pack a suitcase so neatly. She is also a good cook. When we all were living under the same roof, (yes when I was younger we were nearly 15 and my other aunts families would be in and out of the house regularly) she would prepared steamed flour for us on Saturdays as a mid morning snack. It would be prepared with either wheat flour, millet flour or dokra flour in yogurt and spices.Saturday mid morning snack was something we all looked forward to. During Ekadashi she would prepare nice sweet and spicy peanut ladoos. I love the ladoos. She taught me how to make them. I make these ladoos every year as prasadam during Navratri and sometimes for Ekadashi.
   These ladoos are yummy and easy to make. Why the name jugu? Jugu is actually a kiswahili word for peanuts, but most of the Gujaratis living in Kenya never say singadana. Even the new immigrants quickly learn to say jugu for peanuts, bakuli for small bowl, kisu for knife etc.




PEANUT LADOOS (JUGU LADOOS)
Makes about 45 - 50

2 cups coarse peanut powder (roast the peanuts and remove the skin)
1 cup desiccated coconut
4 tbsp poppy seeds (khus khus)
4 tbsp ginger powder
2 tsp cardamom powder (elachi)
1¼ - 1½ cups powdered sugar
⅔ - ¾ cup solid ghee (clarified butter)
  1. Mix peanut powder, coconut, poppy seeds, ginger powder and cardamom powder.
  2. Heat ghee in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the peanut powder mixture and stir fry till you get the smell of coconut.
  4. Take the pan off the heat. 
  5. Add sugar and mix well.
  6. When the mixture becomes a bit cool, take a tablespoonful of the mixture and press it between your palm and fingers gently to make a ball.
  7. Place it on a tray or plate.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7.
  9. Let the ladoos set. They will become a bit more hard.
  10. Serve or store in an airtight container.
Tips:
  • Place the peanuts in a baking tray and let them roast at 100°C for 20 -30 minutes. When they become a bit cool, remove the skin. 
  • Grind the peanuts into a coarse powder.
  • If you find the mixture too dry and cannot form a ball, then add a bit more ghee. Its better to add less at the beginning.
  • If you don't get poppy seeds then add roasted and coarsely ground sesame seeds.
  • If you make these ladoos for Ekadashi or any other fasting period, do not use icing sugar as it contains cornflour. Make the powdered sugar at home by grinding normal sugar in a coffee or herb mill.

You may want to check out the following:

tal and mixed nuts ladoo
kalakand

kaju barfi (cashew nut barfi)
Sending this recipe for the following event:




Saturday, 18 October 2014

445. Pasta stuffed sweet pepper

 Me time!
          Do you ever get some time in a month or a week just by yourself and no one else? No kids, no family, no hubby, etc etc? I do. Not saying that I don't get my space with hubby dear around. He is my biggest supporter in whatever I want to do in life. But there are times we women need to be alone, with no one around. I get those days at least twice a month when hubby attends his medical meetings in the evening. For that evening I am free to cook what I like, which usually means something that he does not like and to watch any program or movie that I want. No one to tell me that candy crush is a kiddie's game, no one to tell me that I am taking too long to solve the sudoku or no one to tell me that I only buy the newspaper for the crossword! For those 3-4 hours, I am doing what I want. It's a great relaxing feeling. But when he gets home, I am happy not to be alone. When I tell him that, he thinks I am crazy, wanting time by myself and at the same time glad that he is at home. But that's us women. He gets his space when I am away attending my Lions meetings! However, I still have to prepare dinner for him. But he gets to watch his action packed movies or absolutely silly supposedly scary movies. 
           So a few days ago when he had to go off for the meeting I made stuffed pepper for myself. Hubby doesn't like eating peppers as he things it upsets his tummy. I, on the other hand love peppers. I tried to make this just enough for one, but landed up with a filling enough for two. 


PASTA STUFFED SWEET PEPPER
For 2

For the filling:
3 tbsp uncooked pasta (take the small variety)
¼ cup cooked sweet corn
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, chopped
5-6 olives
3 tbsp thick tomato puree
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper powder
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp olive oil

2 sweet peppers, any colour of your choice
4 tbsp grated cheese

  1. Slice the top of the peppers. Remove the stem and chop the remaining top part of the pepper.
  2. Remove the seeds and the white part of the pepper with a sharp knife.
  3. Slice the olives.
  4. Cook the pasta in salted water till done. Drain out the water.
Preparation of the filling:
  1. Heat oil in a wide pan.
  2. Add onion and garlic and stir fry it till its a bit soft.
  3. Add the chopped pepper, mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat.
  4. Add corn, olives, salt, pepper, pasta and the tomato puree.
  5. Mix well.
Final preparation :
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Stuff the peppers with the filling.
  3. Place them in a deep oven tray or oven proof casserole. 
  4. Add about 2-3 tbsp of water to the casserole from the side. 
  5. Cover the dish with foil.
  6. Place it in the oven and let the peppers cook for 25 -30 minutes.
  7. Remove the dish from the oven, open up the foil.
  8. Sprinkle the grated cheese over and place the dish back into the oven.
  9. Let it cook for 5 minutes more or till the cheese has melted.
  10. Serve immediately as a side dish or a light meal.
Tips:
  • Use a filling of your choice.
  • Adding a little water helps to create steam. The steam cooks the pepper nicely without it pepper drying up. 
  • Use any cheese of your choice.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste.
You may want to check out the following :
roasted sweet pepper soup
roasted tomato and red pepper pasta

Sending this recipe for the following event :




citrus spice and all things nice



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Friday, 17 October 2014

444.coconut and passion fruit muffins (eggless)

tropical taste

      Coconut is such a versatile fruit. Bake with it, add it in rice, curries, decorate with it. So many ways to use it. I love the taste of coconut combined with a tropical fruit. I hadn't baked muffins in a while, and yesterday managed to bake some. This time round, I decided to combine coconut and passion fruit. I use the sour passion fruit to make juice, add to desserts or add to a fruit salad. I had a few passion fruits left over and decided to use them up in the muffins.The muffins taste really good... tropical flavour. 
       These are early Diwali gifts for my neighbours as the coming week will be pretty hectic. Still got a lot more baking to do and make a few traditional sweet dishes for Diwali. 





COCONUT AND PASSION FRUIT MUFFINS
Makes 24 small ones

2 cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
½ cup desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda (soda bicarbonate)
1 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
⅓ cup oil
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup passion fruit pulp (about 2-3 passion fruits)
½ cup passion fruit concentrated juice *

Topping :
5-6 tbsp desiccated coconut

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the muffin trays or cups with paper cups.
  2. Sift the flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Add coconut and mix well.
  4. In another bowl, add sugar, oil, yogurt and the passion fruit concentrated juice.
  5. Whisk the mixture.
  6. Add it to the dry ingredients. 
  7. Add the passion fruit pulp.
  8. Mix till the flour is all wet. Do not over mix.
  9. Spoon the batter into the prepared trays or cups. Fill it ¾ of the way.
  10. Sprinkle desiccated coconut on top.
  11. Bake for 20 -25 minutes or till done and the tops are light golden brown.
  12. Insert a toothpick or fork into the muffin. If it comes out clean, then the muffins are done.
  13. Remove the muffins from the tray or cups and put them on a wire rack to cool.
Tips:
* To make fresh passion fruit concentrate take the pulp. Put it in a blender and mix it using short bursts. Don't blend too much otherwise the seeds will crush.  Sieve the mixture. Measure the amount of juice. Whatever the amount is you need to add half the quantity of sugar. Mix well. Store the concentrate in the freezer. Use it to flavour cakes and desserts or take about ¼ -⅓ cup of the concentrate, add water to make up to a cup. Serve the juice with ice cubes.
  • I have never used packaged passion fruit juice so wouldn't know how it would taste in the muffins.
  • To remove the pulp from the fruit, cut it into half and scoop it out using a spoon.
  • At first the batter will appear liquidy but let it rest for a few minutes and you will get a spoon able consistency.
  • Instead of sprinkling it with desiccated coconut on top you can use passion fruit flavoured butter icing. Add a tbsp of the passion fruit concentrate to the butter icing.
  • Fresh passion fruit concentrate is available in most Indian stores in UK.
You may want to check out the following :
coconut banana cashew muffins



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Bake Fest #36

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443. Spinach paneer balls with tagliatelline

I have come a long way

      I remember whenever I would try out a new recipe on my own or with my friends or kaki, we would follow the recipe word to word. But that was when we were learning. Now its getting the main ingredients and the method correct and then the recipe turns into my way, my method etc. Now, I have the confidence to explore and find easier ways. Don't get me wrong, certain recipes do have to be followed precisely. Can you imagine not adding baking powder or soda to the cake, over fermenting the bread dough, adding more liquid to the roti or paratha dough, adding more salt to the curry, etc etc. There are so many possibilities for a recipe to turn disastrous. I have had my share of failures and some have been beyond repair.
     During my Polytechnic days, my friends and I would dine at each others place quite often. The fun part was that we would also prepare the dinner for us and the rest of the family. At that time, Tarla Dalal's books were our Bible. We would decide on the recipe, shop and cook.
   One of the recipes we would make was her baked spaghetti with paneer balls in spinach sauce. So when Lakshmi Vimala suggested spinach and cream as my 2 secret ingredients for the shhh cooking secretly challenge, I wanted to make baked spaghetti with paneer balls in spinach sauce. However, as I planned out the recipe it took a whole new conversion as I didn't want to fry the balls. Also didn't want to make the spinach sauce as I didn't have enough spinach, but spinach I had to use. So from the basic recipe, I turned mine into different dish. Of course hubby dear would have loved it if  I had fried the balls.









SPINACH PANEER BALLS WITH TAGLIATELLINE
Serves 4-6

For the paneer balls:
3 cups (approx 200g ) chopped spinach
1 cup (125g ) grated paneer
1 tsp coarse pepper powder
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

For the sauce:
2½ cups tomato puree
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1¼ - 1½ tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp pepper powder
10 -12 fresh basil leaves
¼ cup fresh cream

Pasta:
300g tagliatelline
enough water for boiling
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oil

extra olive oil
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preparation of the paneer balls:
  1. Boil water in a steamer.
  2. Place the washed spinach in the tray of the steamer and let it steam for 2-3 minutes or until it becomes a little soft.
  3. Remove the spinach from the steamer and let it cool a bit.
  4. In the meantime add the rest of the paneer ball ingredients to the paneer.
  5. Squeeze out the water from the steamed spinach and add it to the paneer.
  6. Mix and make it into a dough.
  7. Grease your hands with little oil and make balls. I took about a tablespoonful of the mixture and got about 16 -18 balls.
  8. Boil water in the steamer. Grease the steamer tray and place all the balls in the tray. Steam the paneer balls for 10 minutes. 
  9. Remove the balls from the steamer and keep it on the side till required.
Preparation of the sauce:
  1. Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and stir fry till it is soft and cooked.
  3. Add garlic and stir fry for a few seconds.
  4. Add the tomato puree and salt.
  5. Cover the pan and cook till the sauce becomes thick.
  6. Add pepper and let the sauce cool down a bit.
  7. Add the fresh cream and mix well. 
  8. If you need to heat up the sauce again, then use low heat and stir the sauce frequently.
  9. Add basil leaves.
Preparation of the pasta:
  1. Boil water in a deep saucepan.
  2. Add salt and oil.
  3. Add the pasta and boil for 8-10 minutes or as instructed on the package.
  4. Stir occasionally while its cooking.
  5. Drain out the pasta into a colander.
  6. Sprinkle a bit of olive oil over the pasta and mix.
Final preparation:
  1. Spoon the pasta into the serving plates.
  2. Top it with the sauce.
  3. Add the paneer balls.
  4. Sprinkle cheese over it and serve.
Tips:
  • Fry the paneer balls if you like.
  • Can add the paneer balls to the sauce if you like, once the sauce is ready.
  • Use white or spinach sauce if you like.
  • Use spaghetti instead of tagliatelline.
  • Always boil pasta with plenty of water to avoid it from sticking to each other.
You may want to check out the following recipes:

Green pasta
pasta with roasted vegetable sauce
roasted tomato and red pepper pasta


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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

442. Poppy seeds and sesame seeds crackers

First attempt at crackers

        Priya challenged the Home Bakers Challenge members to bake crackers. As usual the first few days are spent on deciding which recipe to follow, this one, no that one, try them all! Usually don't have time to try them all but the recipes keep on piling up in the bookmarked section. I finally decided on the poppy seeds and sesame seeds crackers. After baking them, I was wondering why I have never tried baking crackers before. They are healthier than the normal cookies and loved them. I use to love the dinner crackers made by House of Manji when I was a kid. These days the dinner crackers have no taste and I have stopped buying them. I baked them two days ago and already they are nearly over. Will have to bake some more.
         Here's the recipe and they are very easy to make. You can use them as canapes for your party. Place small cubes of cheese, olives, a dollop of flavoured cream cheese, salsa. Anything actually. Or just eats on its own.







POPPY SEEDS AND SESAME SEEDS CRACKERS
Makes about 300g (60 -65 small size)
Recipe source: http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/poppy-and-sesame-seed-crackers
Each cracker : 22 calories

250g (2 cups) all purpose flour/plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ - ¾ tsp sea salt or normal salt
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp coarse black pepper powder
60g (3½ tbsp) cold butter
100ml ice cold water
  1.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl.
  2. Add poppy seeds, sesame seeds and pepper powder and mix.
  3.  Either cut the butter into smaller pieces or just grate it and add to the flour mixture.
  4. Using your finger tips, rub in the butter into the flour till it resembles breadcrumbs.
  5. Add the water and form a dough. Do not knead the dough too much.
  6. Divide the dough into 2 parts. Wrap a cling film around one part and put it in the fridge till required.
  7. Grease a baking tray lightly with butter.
  8. Roll one part of the dough about 1-2 mm thick. 
  9. Using a cookie cutter cut out the shapes.
  10. Place them on the baking tray and prick the shapes all over with a fork.
  11. Repeat the procedure with the remaining dough. 
  12. Use up also the leftover dough by rolling it again and cutting into the required shape.
  13. Place the trays in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill the cut out shapes.
  14. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  15. Place the trays in the hot oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  16. After 20 minutes, keep an eye on the crackers. You don't want them to get too brown. They are done when the edges are brown or the top becomes light brown.
  17. Remove the crackers from the tray and let them cool on the wire rack.
  18. Store in an airtight container. 
Tips:
  • I used black poppy seeds and black sesame seeds. You can use any available.
  • Cut into shapes you desire, small or medium.
  • Don't over bake as they will taste a bit bitter.
  • As the original recipe suggested to use baking paper to roll the dough. I rolled it without the papers without any problem. Lightly grease the rolling board or work top.
  • Grating the cold measured butter works great. Got the idea from Chef Micheal Smith.
  • Roll the dough out thin (1-2 mm) as they will puff up on baking.
You may want to check out the following :

pistachio cranberry cookies

double chocolate brownie cookies
baked mathris
Sending this recipe for the following events:

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Home Bakers Challenge

Bake Fest #36

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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

441. Ghee kera

Nami's banana nu shaak!

  In the Gujarati language there is a saying 'ena ghar ma ghee keda chhe', meaning that that person is pretty much well off, wealth wise. When I was growing up, Saturday would be the day of the week that along with the usual full lunch of dal, shaak, rotli and bhaat, we would have some sweet dish like shrikhand, lapsi, meethi sev or ghee kera. When my kids were growing up, I would give them ghee kera often with roti but on the condition that they would also eat the vegetable we had made. My daughter Nami called it banana nu shaak. After the kids left home, I don't make it that often but today I made some. Brought back fond memories of my childhood and my kids. After the ghee kera would be all over, my mum or dad would put hot kadhi in the bowl, swirl it around and then add it to the rice. It tasted so sweet and yummy. 
  Its a quick fix when you crave for something sweet and go on try and bribe your kids with it, the way I use to. I could eat ghee kera without any other vegetables with roti or on its own. Are you still wondering what I am talking about? Okay lets get to the recipe. Its the most easiest recipe. The reason I am posting this recipe is to share it with you all and hope you and family love it just the way ours did and still do.


GHEE KERA 
Serves 4

4 large bananas
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) the liquid part


  1. Peel the bananas. Cut into slices which are not too thin or too thick.
  2. Add the sugar and ghee and mix it.
  3. Serve with hot rotis.
Tips:
  • My mum use to add more ghee. You can add more or less, whichever you prefer.
  • Don't use over ripe bananas otherwise the mixture will become mushy.
You may want to check out the following:

shrikhandSending this recipe for the following event:


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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

440. Pomegranate and Cucumber Raita

Cooling and filling

      Last Friday and Saturday were very hot and humid. I made my regular lunch on Friday... roti, sabji, dal and chaas, but didn't feel like having that. So opened to the fridge to make a smoothie but got some yogurt and cucumber in my hand instead. So the smoothie was side lined for a yummy raita. I prefer the banana cucumber raita  but didn't have bananas. So I made it with pomegranate and cucumber. It was a cooling and filling treat. Suddenly the weather took a turn on Sunday and its been raining till now. Watching the rains from my window is fine but getting out is yucky! Today, I had to go out to do some veggie and fruit shopping, got wet and feet were dirty. Why don't we dress up according to the weather in the tropical countries? In the western country umbrellas, raincoats, rain boots, slacks etc comes out whereas I have noticed in Kenya and India, we still wear open sandals, carry a mini umbrella and that's it. Seriously these umbrellas offer no protection especially if its windy. Yesterday, I carried one of those huge umbrellas while going to Nakumatt our local supermarket. I just have to cross the main street from my apartment and we are there. On a normal sunny day, that's not a problem but during the rains its a different story altogether. Firstly, the matatus (our public transport vans with ruthless drivers) have no qualms about splashing you with the murky rainwater. I get the feeling they purposely go into the puddles to trouble the pedestrians. Then the pavements are filled with mud and sand making it difficult to walk without slipping. Ah yes coming to the huge umbrellas, everyone carries one so you actually land up hitting each other with it. Someone has to give way and in the process get even more wet. So will I be walking out next time in a raincoat in Mombasa, not really as I don't own one. I will just avoid getting out in the rain as much as I can. In the meantime enjoy the raita recipe. 


POMEGRANATE AND CUCUMBER RAITA
Serves 2 or 4
2 if that's you light lunch

2 cups thick plain yogurt
1 small cucumber
½ cup pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 green chilli, thinly sliced or minced
1-1½ tsp coarse mustard powder
½ tsp cumin powder (jeera powder)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar (optional)

  1. If the peel of the cucumber is thin and nice, then grate the cucumber with it. No need to peel it. I got about ½ cup grated cucumber.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together.
  3. Chill the raita for 1-2 hours and serve.
Tips:
  • I prefer to use thick yogurt. If its homemade yogurt, place it in a muslin cloth to drain out the excess water.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste.
You may want to check out the following:
banana cucumber raita


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Monday, 6 October 2014

439.peanut ladoos (jugu ladoo)

For my eldest Foi

   My eldest Foi, my dad's older sister, turned 85 this year. She is still strong and independent. A woman with talent, she has instilled a few values in me, like how to keep a home spic and span. At 85 she still goes around the house with a duster and hates to sit idle.She constantly keeps herself busy, reading both English and Gujarati magazines, newspapers, doing pooja, watching telly and chores in the house. She was a teacher for many years, knows how to knit, crochet, and embroider. Nowadays she does not do the latter two but still knits.New born babies in our family get a sweater or booties from her.She also taught me that when travelling with jewellery, be it real or fake, its best to put the earrings, chain link, and the bangle through a safety pin and then put it in its pouch or bag. This way even if the custom people go through your stuff, there are less chances of anything going missing. I haven't seen anyone pack a suitcase so neatly. She is also a good cook. When we all were living under the same roof, (yes when I was younger we were nearly 15 and my other aunts families would be in and out of the house regularly) she would prepared steamed flour for us on Saturdays as a mid morning snack. It would be prepared with either wheat flour, millet flour or dokra flour in yogurt and spices.Saturday mid morning snack was something we all looked forward to. During Ekadashi she would prepare nice sweet and spicy peanut ladoos. I love the ladoos. She taught me how to make them. I make these ladoos every year as prasadam during Navratri and sometimes for Ekadashi.
   These ladoos are yummy and easy to make. Why the name jugu? Jugu is actually a kiswahili word for peanuts, but most of the Gujaratis living in Kenya never say singadana. Even the new immigrants quickly learn to say jugu for peanuts, bakuli for small bowl, kisu for knife etc.




PEANUT LADOOS (JUGU LADOOS)
Makes about 45 - 50

2 cups coarse peanut powder (roast the peanuts and remove the skin)
1 cup desiccated coconut
4 tbsp poppy seeds (khus khus)
4 tbsp ginger powder
2 tsp cardamom powder (elachi)
1¼ - 1½ cups powdered sugar
⅔ - ¾ cup solid ghee (clarified butter)
  1. Mix peanut powder, coconut, poppy seeds, ginger powder and cardamom powder.
  2. Heat ghee in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the peanut powder mixture and stir fry till you get the smell of coconut.
  4. Take the pan off the heat. 
  5. Add sugar and mix well.
  6. When the mixture becomes a bit cool, take a tablespoonful of the mixture and press it between your palm and fingers gently to make a ball.
  7. Place it on a tray or plate.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7.
  9. Let the ladoos set. They will become a bit more hard.
  10. Serve or store in an airtight container.
Tips:
  • Place the peanuts in a baking tray and let them roast at 100°C for 20 -30 minutes. When they become a bit cool, remove the skin. 
  • Grind the peanuts into a coarse powder.
  • If you find the mixture too dry and cannot form a ball, then add a bit more ghee. Its better to add less at the beginning.
  • If you don't get poppy seeds then add roasted and coarsely ground sesame seeds.
  • If you make these ladoos for Ekadashi or any other fasting period, do not use icing sugar as it contains cornflour. Make the powdered sugar at home by grinding normal sugar in a coffee or herb mill.

You may want to check out the following:

tal and mixed nuts ladoo
kalakand

kaju barfi (cashew nut barfi)
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