Wednesday, 28 January 2015

476. Sweet potato streusel quick bread

yippeee got it right!

        Last month Priya challenged the Home bakers Challenge group to quick breads. Carrot and zucchini, chocolate and an apple one. Chocolate and apple ones were struck off the list immediately as I have already baked those ones. So the choice was between the carrot zucchini one and the sweet potato one. Since I have not made many dishes using sweet potato I wanted to bake the sweet potato bread. Got all the ingredients ready and baked the bread. After one hour, the bread was still raw from inside. The top was beginning to brown too much. I covered with foil and lower the temperature slightly and baked it further for 15 minutes. The skewer came out clean, so I thought its all done. I let it cool for 1 hour. When I sliced it to take photos, much to my horror the texture was just too dense and it tasted as though I have steamed flour. Couldn't even see a tiny hole in the texture. Felt so disappointed and left the bread in the kitchen and sat down to watch telly. Hubby dear knew immediately that something was wrong. He kept out of my way for a while. What was running through my mind was how am I going to rectify this problem. Couldn't think of much. When Priya posted hers, I thought but the texture is still very dense, as she also rightly mentioned.
     What kept on niggling me was how come I was not able to bake a quick bread successfully. So going through other recipes began in earnest. I am so grateful for pinterest. I checked out the photos and checked out the recipes that appealed the most. Finally I came across one but it didn't have the streusel on top. Finally I tried out the recipe yesterday. Kept my fingers crossed that it turns out good as I wanted to serve it today for my tea party. When I sliced it after cooling the loaf, I couldn't stop grinning. Finally there was some good bread like texture. A bit of a victory jig and stored it away. The bread disappeared very quickly. Thank God I had saved a slice for hubby dear.
      Struesel is a crumbly crunchy dessert topping usually made from fat, flour and sugar. Some include nuts.

Share you thoughts :
Does throwing away food in the dustbin really bother you? Its really upsets me.








SWEET POTATO STREUSEL QUICK BREAD (EGGLESS)
Adapted from Chow.com
Serves 8-10

For the bread :
¾ cup plain flour (all purpose flour)
½ tsp baking soda (soda bicarbonate)
1 tbsp flax seed powder (or 1 egg)
3 tbsp water
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp nutmeg powder
½ cup (about 150 g) cooked and mashed sweet potato
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup oil
1 tsp orange zest (rind)
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup chopped walnut or pecans

For Streusel:
1 tsp soft butter
4-6 walnuts or pecans, chop them roughly
1 tbsp brown sugar


  1. Bake the sweet potato in the oven, steam it, or cook it in the microwave. 
  2. Mix flax seed powder and 3 tbsp water and let it soak for at least 10 -15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  4. Grease a 9 X 3½ " loaf tin. Dust it with flour or line it with parchment paper.
  5. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg powders together into a bowl.
  6. Add the chopped nuts and mix well.
  7. Take another bowl. Add sugar, oil, mashed sweet potato, orange juice, orange zest and the flax seed mixture.
  8. Beat the sugar mixture.
  9. Add it to the flour mixture and mix till the dough is all wet.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Level out the batter gently.
  11. To prepare the streusel, mix the butter, sugar and nuts.
  12. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the batter.
  13. Lightly press it into the batter.
  14. Bake the bread for 30 minutes or till it is done. A skewer, toothpick or fork inserted in the middle of the loaf should come out clean.
  15. Let the loaf cool in the tin for 5 minutes.
  16. Carefully take the loaf out of the tin and let it cool on a wire rack.
  17. Serve as dessert, for breakfast or for tea.
Tips :
  • I baked the sweet potato in the oven. Wrapped it in foil and baked it at 180°C for 20 minutes or till done. Removed the skin and mashed it when the sweet potato was cool.
  • I added walnuts as I didn't have any pecans. Add which ever nuts you prefer.
  • Take a loaf tin which is nearer to the measurement mentioned above.
  • If you want to add an egg then add it along with the sugar and sweet potato and beat well. Omit water and add flax seed to the flour.
  • Letting the flax seed powder and water soak for a while thickens the mixture and it gets the consistency of the white part of a raw egg.
You may want to check out the following :
pineapple tarts
veggie pizza rolls
Sending this recipe to the following events :









Tuesday, 27 January 2015

475. sweet potato, beans and corn wraps

 amazing kids  

Last Saturday our Lions Club of Mombasa Bahari hosted yet another successful poetry recital competition for children between the ages of  4 to 7.  Please do take some time and visit the website. Poetry recital not only helps a child to develop confidence, but also improves their diction, voice control, helps them to learn new vocabulary, helps with memorization skills and prepares them for public speaking.Like reading, poems too are the mind's adventure for the children. Reciting and understanding the poems also helps them to pretend and perform actions and expressions accordingly. This year the poems given to the 6 -7 year olds were a bit long, but surprisingly they managed to memorize it within 2 weeks. We tend to underestimate a child's brain. There is always room to learn new things. Recently, friends and cousins sent a video on whatsapp showing  how toddlers are able to tell you the capital cities of many countries. When I saw the clipping, I felt sad. Sad because this toddler was taught to parrot off the cities without even really understanding what he is asked, where the country and where the city is. Why would parents want to waste time on rote learning instead of teaching children to learn something that they can understand, enjoy and have fun.We generally begin with nursery rhymes and short fun poems which are famous in every culture and language.In India we have chanda mama or "aawyo varsaad, ghebriyo parsad, unni unni rotli ne karela nu shaak". A famous Gujarati rain poem which I remember my mum taught us.Coming back to the poetry recital, all 75 children oozed with confidence and all of them remembered their lines. In a situation like this I am glad I was not the judge. Its a very tough task. 
    Today's recipe is a wrap. On days that I don't feel like cooking we normally order wraps from a restaurant near our apartment.The wraps are not only delicious and filling, but hubby loves that the wrap as they are soft. Most other wraps I have had in India are a bit tough especially when they get cold. So when I told  hubby dear that I was going to makes wraps for dinner, he just said "make any filling of your choice but the wrap must be soft". So just ordinary roti dough would not do. I added a bit of baking powder to the dough and got lovely soft home made wraps. 

Share your thoughts:
Should children learn through fun and games or through rote learning? 





SWEET POTATO, BEANS AND CORN WRAPS
Makes 8 

For the wraps:
1½ cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
3 tbsp oil
½ -⅔ cup warm water
extra flour for rolling

For the filling:
1 cup (approx 125g) peeled and cubed sweet potatoes 
½ cup cooked sweet corn
½ cup cooked red or black beans
3 tbsp fresh chopped coriander (cilantro)
1-2 jalapenos, sliced
¾ - 1 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp paprika powder or chilli powder
½ tsp pepper powder
2-3 tbsp water

For serving :
1 medium avocado
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
¾ cup salsa or guacamole 

Preparation of the wraps:
  1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
  2. Add oil and mix into the flour.
  3. Add water and form a dough which is not too soft or too hard.
  4. Knead for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Cover and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Heat a frying pan or tava over medium heat.
  7. Divide the dough into 8 parts. Roll the parts into a ball.
  8. Using the extra flour, roll each part into a circle of  7-8 inches in diameter.
  9. Cook the wrap on both sides till light brown spots appear.
  10. Cover the wrap in a cloth.
  11. Repeat steps 8 to 10 with the remaining dough.
Preparation of the filling :
  1. Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the cumin seeds. Add garlic and stir fry till its a bit soft.
  3. Add the sweet potato cubes, salt and water. Mix well.
  4. Cover the pan and let the sweet potato cook over low heat.
  5. When the sweet potatoes are done, add the rest of the filling ingredients.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Cut the avocado into 8 slices. Sprinkle the lemon juice over it.
To serve :
  1. Warm up the wraps and the filling.
  2. Spread a bit of salsa or guacamole in the middle of the wrap.
  3. Take about 2 tablespoonful of the filling and place it over the salsa or guacamole.
  4. Top with avocado.
  5. Wrap both ends of the wrap towards the middle.
  6. I prefer to cover half of it with a foil or parchment paper. This makes it easier to hold the wrap together.
  7. Repeat steps 2 to 6 with the remaining wraps and serve with a salad on the side.
Tips :
  • use half wheat flour and half plain flour for the wraps.
  • Add cheese to the wrap if you like.
  • Add any vegetables of your choice.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste.
You may want to check out the following :
mini taco salad cups
Sending this recipe to the following event :




DishItOut

Cooks Joy

Monday, 26 January 2015

474. pane Siciliano (Sicilian sesame seeded semolina bread)

bread with semolina?

     Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen's challenge for the We Knead to Bake group was a semolina bread. I was surprised as how would it really hold together. Then as I read the recipe further down realized that I needed to add wheat gluten. Thank God I had brought that back from India with me. Most breads baked in India require you to add the gluten as the plain flour available there is not as glutenous as the flours available in the western countries or here in Kenya. My daughter was not using it so brought it back here with me. 
     When I was getting the ingredients ready, I still had that little doubt in my mind about using only semolina. I decided to add wheat flour and was really glad with the outcome. Pane Siciliano is usually baked on 13th December to celebrate the bravery of Santa Lucia. It is said that Santa Lucia or Lucy came from a wealthy family and she carried food for the persecuted Christians hiding in the dark underground tunnels. She would wear a wreath of candles on her head to light her way. Another tale claims that she was blinded for following her faith.She is known for feeding people during famine.Santa Lucia is the patron Saint of Syracuse. It is believed that she arrives with a donkey and her helper Castaldo bearing gifts for children. Children are asked to leave some hot milk for Santa Lucia, hay for the donkey and wine for Castaldo. Bread traditionally made on this day is either an S shaped loaf (occhi di Santa Lucia) or the snake shaped (mafalda) loaf. I made the occhi di Santa Lucia (eyes of Santa Lucia), representing the eyes of Santa Lucia.
     The bread is made from rimacinato or ground again semolina or durum wheat. I was lucky that a few months back when I bought semolina, by mistake I got the really fine one. I put it away in the fridge thinking that I will use it up to make pani puris. Was I glad when I could use it for this delicious bread. The semolina made the baked bread appear very light yellow in colour with a lovely crusty golden top. 
     

 
PANE SILICIANO (SILICIAN SESAME SEEDED SEMOLINA BREAD)
Makes about 8 
recipe source : My Diverse Kitchen

For the crescuita (biga/poolish/preferment) :
¼ cup lukewarm water
¼ cup all purpose flour (plain flour)
¼ tsp instant active dry yeast

For the dough :
2 cups fine semolina flour
½ cup wholewheat flour
1 cup lukewarm water
½ tsp instant active dry yeast
2 tsp honey
½ tsp vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
all of the prepared crescuita

For the topping :
water for brushing
2-3 tbsp sesame seeds

Preparation of the crescuita :

  1. Put flour and yeast in a bowl. Mix it up.
  2. Add the water and mix with a spoon. 
  3. Cover the bowl and leave it overnight or for 4-8 hours.
Preparation of the dough :
  1. Sift the flour,salt, wheat gluten and semolina together in a big bowl.
  2. Add the honey to the water and mix well.
  3. Mix in the crescuita.
  4. Add the yeast and mix into the flour.
  5. Rub the olive oil into the flour mixture.
  6. Add the warm water mixture to the flour mixture.
  7. Mix and form into a dough.
  8. Lightly flour the work top or board and knead the flour for 10 minutes till it is soft and silky. The dough will be slightly sticky and NOT too sticky.
  9. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl.
  10. Cover the bowl with a cling film and leave it in a warm place for nearly 1½ - 2 hours till the dough rises and becomes double the size.
  11. Knead the dough gently again with oiled hands for a few seconds.
  12. Divide it into 8 parts.
  13. Let the dough rest for 5 - 10 minutes.
  14. Take one part of the dough and on a lightly floured board or top, roll it into a 12" rope.
  15. Make a swirl staring from both ends but in opposite directions till you get a S shape.
  16. Place the shaped bread on a greased tray.
  17. Repeat steps 13 - 15 with the remaining dough.
  18. Brush the bread with water.
  19. Sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.
  20. Cover the tray and let the dough rise again for 1-1½ hours.
  21. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  22. Place the tray in the oven and bake the bread for 20-30 minutes or till the tops are golden brown and the bread is done.
  23. Remove the bread from the oven, and let it cool on a wire rack before serving.
Tips:
  • If you are not using instant yeast then sprinkle it in the warm water with honey and leave it for 10 minutes till the mixture is frothy.
  • I stuck toothpicks in the centre of each swirl so that the cling film does not touch the bread.
  • If you don't have wheat gluten, you can still make the bread without it.
  • Use plain flour instead of wheat flour if you like.
  • If you don't find fine semolina flour, just grind the normal semolina (sooji) in a coffee grinder.
You may want to check out the following :

gibassier
julekake
Sending this recipe to the following event :






Sunday, 25 January 2015

473. caramel custard

32nd anniversary

 'The bonds of matrimony are like other bonds - they mature slowly'. Peter DeVries

         On Friday hubby and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. While you read this, you may want to ask us, how did you celebrate? Where did you go? What present did you get? etc etc. Truthfully we didn't do anything special as such.I was too busy preparing for the Lions Club poetry recital competition. The first few years of our marriage, my hubby would always forget the anniversary date but my mother in law would remember and make it into a special day. As years went by, kids would remind my hubby that a special day is approaching. Presents, dinner etc was the norm.As we grow older presents and dinners are not that important. We spent Friday going through our wedding album. It took us back to sweet memories and how family and friends looked back then. Do we feel we have been married for 32 years? Not really, the memory of our wedding day is still fresh and vivid. In reality hubby and I are poles apart, opposites in most respect but over the years we have found a common ground, always have something to talk about, take an interest in each others passions, give each other space and most importantly trust each other. I can't remember calling up my hubby every hour or keeping a tab on every hour spent outside home. Neither does he. That does not mean we don't love each other or romance in our marriage is dead. Little actions and thoughts makes our marriage work.
      We try and make our anniversaries special in little ways. This anniversary he has promised to let me shop in India till I drop. How sweet, but he knows I am not a shopaholic. I buy want I need and that's all. However, I can go overboard if I went to a kitchen ware store or a book shop! What did I do for him? I made for him his all time favourite dessert... caramel custard. And boy! what a lovely present it turned out to be. Previous 3 attempts had failed and finally I got it right. The first time I tried a Betty Crocker recipe and it was a total failure in every respect. The tops were burnt, the temperature given was all wrong and the custard tasted like curdled eggs. The second time, the caramel was all wrong. 3rd was not too bad, but had a few big bubble holes in the custard. 4th attempt was a winner. Never mind the crack I got while removing it onto a plate. Probably shook it too much!

Share you thoughts :
Does your hubby remember your anniversary date? If he does, does he know how many years you both have been married for?





one of my failed attempts

CARAMEL CUSTARD
Makes 6

For the caramel :
½ - ⅔ cup sugar
2 tbsp water

For the custard :
4 eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
a few strands of saffron
2 tbsp hot milk
  1. Take a deep baking tray (like a roasting pan). Place 6 ramekin bowls in the pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Preparation of the caramel :
  1. Put the sugar and water in a heavy bottom pan.
  2. Put the pan over medium heat.
  3. Stir the mixture till the sugar melts.
  4. Let the mixture cook, swirl the pan occasionally till you get a golden liquid.
  5. Remove the pan immediately from the heat. 
  6. Divide the caramel between the 6 ramekin bowls. Swirl the bowls to spread out the syrup.
Preparation of the custard :
  1. Add saffron to the 2 tbsp hot milk.
  2. Heat the 2 cups of milk in a pan till its just warm and not hot.
  3. Add the sugar and vanilla extract.
  4. Add eggs into a bowl.
  5. Beat lightly to break up the yolks.
  6. Add the milk mixture to the eggs and beat lightly to mix everything.
  7. Strain the mixture.
  8. Pour the saffron mixture to the strained mixture and mix.
  9. Divide the mixture between 6 ramekin bowls.
  10. Pour hot water in the baking tray carefully till its half way up till the bowls.
  11. Carefully place the tray in the oven and bake for 25 -30 minutes.
  12. The tops will have set but the custard will be a bit wobbly. Insert a knife in the middle and it should come out clean.
  13. Remove the tray from the oven. Let the custard cool in the tray.
  14. Place the custard in the fridge to chill for 2-3 hours.
  15. To serve, carefully run a knife around the edge. Place a small dessert plate over it.
  16. Turn it over. Shake it a little and the caramel custard will come out.
  17. Serve.
Tips:
  • Some recipes make the milk hot some don't. I decided to have it warm and it worked well for me. If the milk is too hot it will cook the eggs.
  • Straining the liquid helps to remove foam and bubbles that may be formed during beating.
  • I placed the tray on the lower shelf in the oven to prevent the custard from burning on top.
  • I added saffron for that extra taste.
  • Our friend's mum takes 3/4 part milk and 1/4 part fresh cream to make the custard more creamier.
  • Don't let the sugar become too dark, otherwise it will taste bitter.
You may want to check out the following :

lemon poppy seed cheesecake
orange creamsicle pops
strawberries and fresh cream


Sending this recipe to the following event :



cooks joy

Sunday, 18 January 2015

472. wholewheat jaggery and ginger cookies

I love these secret ingredients

  Challenges come in our lives for a reason. They teach us, make us stronger and wiser. Some challenges can be pleasant and some very difficult. However we all have to face them and get through them. Our cooking challenges are not scary or difficult to face. They are fun and exciting.     
 Every month I look forward to the shhh cooking secretly challenge. As soon as the participants are paired I eagerly wait not only to get my two secret ingredients but also to give my two ingredients. Unfortunately out of the 6 I have participated in so far, only one partner has cooked with the ingredients I gave to her. Not really complaining... they may have not cooked the dish due to some reason or the other. I have found the ingredients I have received challenging and fun. For this month's challenge I got jaggery and milk as my two secret ingredients from Shailaja Reddy. She has a wonderful food blog, Sahasra Recipes. Because of makar sankranti just round the corner, til laddoos kept on popping up in my head. However, I have already blogged that recipe so had to think of something else. Jaggery or milk on its own are pretty simple ingredients, offering various dishes that can be made with them. However the combination is another story altogether. There are jaggery and milk kheers, but didn't want to make kheer. It was like a last resort thing to make if I didn't find anything else. And then I tumble across jaggery cookies and said, "yes that's what I am going to make".
       The cookies turned out really delicious. I loved the way jaggery added that caramelized taste to the cookies.Crunchy on the outside and soft inside. Only back draw was that the cookies became a bit soft in spite of storing in an airtight jar. So I just popped them back into the oven for 10 minutes under low heat. They stayed crunchy till they got over. If I need to make ginger cookies again, its going to be this recipe--- with jaggery !
        Check out my new wooden basket. Isn't it lovely? Made from one piece wood and handmade. Its unfortunate that our artisans are suffering because of lack of tourism. They make lovely stuff.

Share your thoughts :
Do you love challenges ?



WHOLEWHEAT JAGGERY AND GINGER COOKIES
About 30 cookies
Recipe source : My experiments with food

1¾ cups wholewheat flour (atta)
¼ cup coarse almond powder
½ cup (100g) butter
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup grated jaggery (gur)
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda bicarbonate (baking soda)
2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp fresh ginger paste
1 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease the baking trays lightly with butter.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, soda bicarbonate and ginger powder together into a bowl. Mix in the almond powder.
  3. Put butter, sugar and jaggery in a pan. Heat the mixture over low heat. Stir till the sugar and jaggery melts. Take the pan off the heat.
  4. Add lemon juice, milk and ginger paste. Mix well. Let it cool a bit.
  5. Add the liquid to the flour mixture and stir with a spoon till mixed. Knead into a dough.
  6. Take about a tablespoonful of the dough and roll it into a ball.
  7. Gently press it between your palms or flatten them about ¼" thick.
  8. Place it on the greased baking tray.
  9. Repeat steps 6 to 8 with the remaining dough. Place the rolled dough 1" apart.
  10. Bake the cookies for 12 - 15 minutes till the cookies are golden brown.
  11. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
  12. The cookies will be soft but will become a bit hard on cooling.
  13. Store in an airtight container.
Tips:
  • Don't over bake the cookies. They will become rock hard and burnt cookies taste bitter.
  • To get flat cookies flatten them more. I like dome shaped cookies so I tend to press them between my palms.
  • If the cookies are too soft, then place them again in the oven at 100°C for 10 -15 minutes.
  • Add any nut powder of your choice or add wheat germ.
  • I prefer to use dark coloured jaggery for these cookies as it adds a lovely golden brown colour to the cookies. 
  • Do not overheat the liquid mixture. Just cook till the sugar and jaggery melts. 
You may want to check out the following :
spicy christmas muffins
Sending this recipe to the following event :




Friday, 16 January 2015

471. Hara bhara tikkis/ kababs

home made is always delicious

       My past 9 posts have been all sweet except for the cucumber coriander chaas. Its time to blog a savory dish. A few days ago I made some hara bhara tikkis. Loved the home made ones. I've had these tikkis or kebabs numerous times in different restaurants. Most of them have more potato than any other ingredient. With the home made one, one is in control of the ingredients.. add a bit more of what you like or less of the one you don't like. Some people make them with potato and others add paneer. Restaurant experiences mostly tend to be good but sometimes they turn out to be a great disappointment. Most of the time the dish charge is not justified especially in the more expensive restaurants. We had ordered palak paneer at a restaurant sometime back and we literally found only 3 pieces of paneer, the rest was gravy! I find the less expensive restaurants or road side canteens or dhabas offer value for money. Isn't it disappointing to order a mushroom pizza and find just a few slices or find that your veg lasagne costs the same as the meat one and the only veg you find in it are carrots and a few peas. Have you noticed how starters usually cost as much as the main dish? Usually starters are shared and the number of pieces limited! I remember ordering a salad which should have had walnuts, pomegranate, feta cheese and greens in it. What did I find? Two walnuts, 4 tiny cubes of feta cheese and no pomegranate. The reason being they didn't have any! I usually don't go for salads at restaurants as you land up paying more for the lettuce, usually its 3 to 4 times the price and above all I am not sure if they have washed the vegetables and fruits well. That does not mean I do not enjoy eating out. I do and we usually land up at tried and tested places.

Share you thoughts :
Do you find most restaurants over priced?






HARA BHARA TIKKIS/KABABS
Makes 24 small ones

For the tikkis :
2½ cups (approx 100g) chopped spinach
1 cup green peas, steamed or boiled
1 cup boiled and mashed potato ( about 2 potatoes)
½ cup finely chopped  fresh coriander (dhania)
1 tsp green chilli paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 - 2 tsp chaat masala
1 tsp lemon juice or ¼ tsp amchur powder (dried mango powder)
1- 1½ tsp salt
3 - 4 tbsp chana flour (besan, chickpea flour)
oil for shallow frying

For the mint yogurt chutney :
¼-½ cup fresh mint leaves
1-2 green chillis
¼ " ginger 
½ cup yogurt
a generous pinch of salt

Preparation of the tikkis :

  1. Steam the spinach till it wilts.
  2. Squeeze out any extra water from it.
  3. Put the spinach, coriander and peas in a chopper and process it into a coarse paste.
  4. Take out the pea spinach paste into a bowl.
  5. Add mashed potato, chilli, ginger, garlic pastes, salt, lemon or amchur and chana flour.
  6. With wet hands, divide the mixture into 24 parts or the size you desire.
  7. Roll each part into a disc shape. 
  8. Heat oil in a frying pan or tawa.
  9. Place a few tikkis and cook on one side till it is golden brown.
  10. Flip it over slowly and cook the other side till it is golden brown.
  11. Place the tikkis on a kitchen towel so it absorbs the extra oil.
  12. Serve hot with a chutney of your choice.
Preparation of the chutney :
  1. Process the mint, ginger and chilli into a coarse paste.
  2. Add it to the beaten yogurt.
  3. Add salt and mix well.
Tips :
  • Add spices according to your taste.
  • If you don't have chaat masala, add a bit of garam masala.
  • Add paneer instead of potatoes or add both, half half quantity.
  • If you want to fry the tikkis/kababs, you can make them into oblong shape.
  • Serve with chutney of your choice.
  • I made the tikkis bite size. You may make them bigger if you like.
  • Add fresh mint leaves to the tikki if you like.
You may want to check out the following :
cucumber coconut pattis
Sending this recipe to the following events :
Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Thursday, 15 January 2015

470. 0ats and nuts laddoos

Happy Makar Sankranti

                "Til-gul ghya ani gud gud bola", which translates to 'eat these sesame seeds and jaggery and speak sweet words'.
 A festival that bonds all communities and encourages us to love all.     Makar Sankranti is the only festival in India which is based on the solar calendar and not the lunar one. That means it falls on 14th January every year and sometimes on 15th. This is another festival celebrated by all in India, just the names vary. Pongal, lohri, uttarayan, makar sankranti, maghi. khichdi. Day and night are equally long on this day.  Eating sesame seeds and jaggery during winter is considered good for health. Some parts of India, kites are flown on this auspicious day. Read this for more information about this festival. Yesterday, during our community ladies meeting, I learnt how to make a proper kite for the first time. When I was teaching in school. we usually just painted on manila sheets or newspapers and made fake kites. So much technique is involved in making a kite... its all about aerodynamics. It was a fun activity. My partner and I added all sorts of decorations to make the kite attractive not realizing that we just made it heavier! Oh well... as I say, there is no age limit to learning new things. Do I know how to fly a kite? Not at all! Had never even heard of this festival when I was growing up. Came to know about it when I went to a boarding school in Mt. Abu.
     This year I decided to add more health to the ladoos by adding oats, nuts and seeds. I did find it difficult to roll them as my mixture was too coarse. But overall, the ladoos are good and can have them without feeling too guilty.




Share your thoughts :
Do you know how to fly a kite?

OATS AND NUTS LADDOOS
Makes about 24 small ladoos

1 cup oats (quick cooking variety)
12 -14 almonds
8 -10 walnuts
15 pistachios
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds (tal)
1 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)
2 tbsp dried cranberries
½ cup grated jaggery (gur)
1 tsp cardamom powder (elachi)
2 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp milk

  1. Roast almonds, walnuts and pistachios separately over low heat for 2 - 3 minutes.
  2. Roast the oats till a bit crunchy  - about 2 minutes.
  3. Roast the sesame seeds till they just begin to pop. Remember to keep stirring all the ingredients constantly when roasting them.
  4. Roast the pumpkin, poppy and sunflower seeds separately for about a minute.
  5. Cut the cranberries into small pieces.
  6. When the roasted ingredients are cool grind them into a coarse powder. I prefer to grind them separately.
  7. Mix all the coarse powders and chopped cranberries. Add cardamom powder and mix well.
  8. In a pan heat ghee and jaggery over low heat. Keep stirring till the jaggery melts.
  9. Keep stirring gently till it begins to bubble.
  10. Take the pan off the heat, add milk and mix well.
  11. Add the coarse powder mixture and mix well.
  12. As soon as the mixture is a bit cool, take a tablespoonful and begin making the laddoos.
  13. To make the laddoos, press the mixture into a ball by pressing it in your fist.
  14. Work quickly because its difficult to form laddoos with the cold mixture. 
  15. You may heat the mixture gently but not too often.
  16. Store in an air tight container.
Tips :
  • My mixture was too coarse so I found it difficult to form the laddoos. Make sure its not too coarse.
  • Add nuts, seeds and dried fruits of your choice.
  • I added dried cranberries to give it a sweet and slightly tangy taste.
  • Adding milk makes them a bit soft.
  • Do not over cook the jaggery, otherwise it will get burnt.
  • Also use low heat to roast the ingredients and to make the syrup.
  • I sometimes roast the ingredients in an oven at 100°C for 20 -25 minutes.
  • You can add roasted coconut to the mixture. 
  • For every 2 cups of coarse powder you need ½ cup of grated jaggery.
You may want to check out the following :
tal and mixed nuts laddoos
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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

476. Sweet potato streusel quick bread

yippeee got it right!

        Last month Priya challenged the Home bakers Challenge group to quick breads. Carrot and zucchini, chocolate and an apple one. Chocolate and apple ones were struck off the list immediately as I have already baked those ones. So the choice was between the carrot zucchini one and the sweet potato one. Since I have not made many dishes using sweet potato I wanted to bake the sweet potato bread. Got all the ingredients ready and baked the bread. After one hour, the bread was still raw from inside. The top was beginning to brown too much. I covered with foil and lower the temperature slightly and baked it further for 15 minutes. The skewer came out clean, so I thought its all done. I let it cool for 1 hour. When I sliced it to take photos, much to my horror the texture was just too dense and it tasted as though I have steamed flour. Couldn't even see a tiny hole in the texture. Felt so disappointed and left the bread in the kitchen and sat down to watch telly. Hubby dear knew immediately that something was wrong. He kept out of my way for a while. What was running through my mind was how am I going to rectify this problem. Couldn't think of much. When Priya posted hers, I thought but the texture is still very dense, as she also rightly mentioned.
     What kept on niggling me was how come I was not able to bake a quick bread successfully. So going through other recipes began in earnest. I am so grateful for pinterest. I checked out the photos and checked out the recipes that appealed the most. Finally I came across one but it didn't have the streusel on top. Finally I tried out the recipe yesterday. Kept my fingers crossed that it turns out good as I wanted to serve it today for my tea party. When I sliced it after cooling the loaf, I couldn't stop grinning. Finally there was some good bread like texture. A bit of a victory jig and stored it away. The bread disappeared very quickly. Thank God I had saved a slice for hubby dear.
      Struesel is a crumbly crunchy dessert topping usually made from fat, flour and sugar. Some include nuts.

Share you thoughts :
Does throwing away food in the dustbin really bother you? Its really upsets me.








SWEET POTATO STREUSEL QUICK BREAD (EGGLESS)
Adapted from Chow.com
Serves 8-10

For the bread :
¾ cup plain flour (all purpose flour)
½ tsp baking soda (soda bicarbonate)
1 tbsp flax seed powder (or 1 egg)
3 tbsp water
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
¼ tsp nutmeg powder
½ cup (about 150 g) cooked and mashed sweet potato
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup oil
1 tsp orange zest (rind)
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup chopped walnut or pecans

For Streusel:
1 tsp soft butter
4-6 walnuts or pecans, chop them roughly
1 tbsp brown sugar


  1. Bake the sweet potato in the oven, steam it, or cook it in the microwave. 
  2. Mix flax seed powder and 3 tbsp water and let it soak for at least 10 -15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  4. Grease a 9 X 3½ " loaf tin. Dust it with flour or line it with parchment paper.
  5. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg powders together into a bowl.
  6. Add the chopped nuts and mix well.
  7. Take another bowl. Add sugar, oil, mashed sweet potato, orange juice, orange zest and the flax seed mixture.
  8. Beat the sugar mixture.
  9. Add it to the flour mixture and mix till the dough is all wet.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Level out the batter gently.
  11. To prepare the streusel, mix the butter, sugar and nuts.
  12. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the batter.
  13. Lightly press it into the batter.
  14. Bake the bread for 30 minutes or till it is done. A skewer, toothpick or fork inserted in the middle of the loaf should come out clean.
  15. Let the loaf cool in the tin for 5 minutes.
  16. Carefully take the loaf out of the tin and let it cool on a wire rack.
  17. Serve as dessert, for breakfast or for tea.
Tips :
  • I baked the sweet potato in the oven. Wrapped it in foil and baked it at 180°C for 20 minutes or till done. Removed the skin and mashed it when the sweet potato was cool.
  • I added walnuts as I didn't have any pecans. Add which ever nuts you prefer.
  • Take a loaf tin which is nearer to the measurement mentioned above.
  • If you want to add an egg then add it along with the sugar and sweet potato and beat well. Omit water and add flax seed to the flour.
  • Letting the flax seed powder and water soak for a while thickens the mixture and it gets the consistency of the white part of a raw egg.
You may want to check out the following :
pineapple tarts
veggie pizza rolls
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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

475. sweet potato, beans and corn wraps

 amazing kids  

Last Saturday our Lions Club of Mombasa Bahari hosted yet another successful poetry recital competition for children between the ages of  4 to 7.  Please do take some time and visit the website. Poetry recital not only helps a child to develop confidence, but also improves their diction, voice control, helps them to learn new vocabulary, helps with memorization skills and prepares them for public speaking.Like reading, poems too are the mind's adventure for the children. Reciting and understanding the poems also helps them to pretend and perform actions and expressions accordingly. This year the poems given to the 6 -7 year olds were a bit long, but surprisingly they managed to memorize it within 2 weeks. We tend to underestimate a child's brain. There is always room to learn new things. Recently, friends and cousins sent a video on whatsapp showing  how toddlers are able to tell you the capital cities of many countries. When I saw the clipping, I felt sad. Sad because this toddler was taught to parrot off the cities without even really understanding what he is asked, where the country and where the city is. Why would parents want to waste time on rote learning instead of teaching children to learn something that they can understand, enjoy and have fun.We generally begin with nursery rhymes and short fun poems which are famous in every culture and language.In India we have chanda mama or "aawyo varsaad, ghebriyo parsad, unni unni rotli ne karela nu shaak". A famous Gujarati rain poem which I remember my mum taught us.Coming back to the poetry recital, all 75 children oozed with confidence and all of them remembered their lines. In a situation like this I am glad I was not the judge. Its a very tough task. 
    Today's recipe is a wrap. On days that I don't feel like cooking we normally order wraps from a restaurant near our apartment.The wraps are not only delicious and filling, but hubby loves that the wrap as they are soft. Most other wraps I have had in India are a bit tough especially when they get cold. So when I told  hubby dear that I was going to makes wraps for dinner, he just said "make any filling of your choice but the wrap must be soft". So just ordinary roti dough would not do. I added a bit of baking powder to the dough and got lovely soft home made wraps. 

Share your thoughts:
Should children learn through fun and games or through rote learning? 





SWEET POTATO, BEANS AND CORN WRAPS
Makes 8 

For the wraps:
1½ cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
3 tbsp oil
½ -⅔ cup warm water
extra flour for rolling

For the filling:
1 cup (approx 125g) peeled and cubed sweet potatoes 
½ cup cooked sweet corn
½ cup cooked red or black beans
3 tbsp fresh chopped coriander (cilantro)
1-2 jalapenos, sliced
¾ - 1 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp paprika powder or chilli powder
½ tsp pepper powder
2-3 tbsp water

For serving :
1 medium avocado
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
¾ cup salsa or guacamole 

Preparation of the wraps:
  1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
  2. Add oil and mix into the flour.
  3. Add water and form a dough which is not too soft or too hard.
  4. Knead for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Cover and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Heat a frying pan or tava over medium heat.
  7. Divide the dough into 8 parts. Roll the parts into a ball.
  8. Using the extra flour, roll each part into a circle of  7-8 inches in diameter.
  9. Cook the wrap on both sides till light brown spots appear.
  10. Cover the wrap in a cloth.
  11. Repeat steps 8 to 10 with the remaining dough.
Preparation of the filling :
  1. Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the cumin seeds. Add garlic and stir fry till its a bit soft.
  3. Add the sweet potato cubes, salt and water. Mix well.
  4. Cover the pan and let the sweet potato cook over low heat.
  5. When the sweet potatoes are done, add the rest of the filling ingredients.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Cut the avocado into 8 slices. Sprinkle the lemon juice over it.
To serve :
  1. Warm up the wraps and the filling.
  2. Spread a bit of salsa or guacamole in the middle of the wrap.
  3. Take about 2 tablespoonful of the filling and place it over the salsa or guacamole.
  4. Top with avocado.
  5. Wrap both ends of the wrap towards the middle.
  6. I prefer to cover half of it with a foil or parchment paper. This makes it easier to hold the wrap together.
  7. Repeat steps 2 to 6 with the remaining wraps and serve with a salad on the side.
Tips :
  • use half wheat flour and half plain flour for the wraps.
  • Add cheese to the wrap if you like.
  • Add any vegetables of your choice.
  • Adjust the spices according to your taste.
You may want to check out the following :
mini taco salad cups
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Monday, 26 January 2015

474. pane Siciliano (Sicilian sesame seeded semolina bread)

bread with semolina?

     Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen's challenge for the We Knead to Bake group was a semolina bread. I was surprised as how would it really hold together. Then as I read the recipe further down realized that I needed to add wheat gluten. Thank God I had brought that back from India with me. Most breads baked in India require you to add the gluten as the plain flour available there is not as glutenous as the flours available in the western countries or here in Kenya. My daughter was not using it so brought it back here with me. 
     When I was getting the ingredients ready, I still had that little doubt in my mind about using only semolina. I decided to add wheat flour and was really glad with the outcome. Pane Siciliano is usually baked on 13th December to celebrate the bravery of Santa Lucia. It is said that Santa Lucia or Lucy came from a wealthy family and she carried food for the persecuted Christians hiding in the dark underground tunnels. She would wear a wreath of candles on her head to light her way. Another tale claims that she was blinded for following her faith.She is known for feeding people during famine.Santa Lucia is the patron Saint of Syracuse. It is believed that she arrives with a donkey and her helper Castaldo bearing gifts for children. Children are asked to leave some hot milk for Santa Lucia, hay for the donkey and wine for Castaldo. Bread traditionally made on this day is either an S shaped loaf (occhi di Santa Lucia) or the snake shaped (mafalda) loaf. I made the occhi di Santa Lucia (eyes of Santa Lucia), representing the eyes of Santa Lucia.
     The bread is made from rimacinato or ground again semolina or durum wheat. I was lucky that a few months back when I bought semolina, by mistake I got the really fine one. I put it away in the fridge thinking that I will use it up to make pani puris. Was I glad when I could use it for this delicious bread. The semolina made the baked bread appear very light yellow in colour with a lovely crusty golden top. 
     

 
PANE SILICIANO (SILICIAN SESAME SEEDED SEMOLINA BREAD)
Makes about 8 
recipe source : My Diverse Kitchen

For the crescuita (biga/poolish/preferment) :
¼ cup lukewarm water
¼ cup all purpose flour (plain flour)
¼ tsp instant active dry yeast

For the dough :
2 cups fine semolina flour
½ cup wholewheat flour
1 cup lukewarm water
½ tsp instant active dry yeast
2 tsp honey
½ tsp vital wheat gluten
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
all of the prepared crescuita

For the topping :
water for brushing
2-3 tbsp sesame seeds

Preparation of the crescuita :

  1. Put flour and yeast in a bowl. Mix it up.
  2. Add the water and mix with a spoon. 
  3. Cover the bowl and leave it overnight or for 4-8 hours.
Preparation of the dough :
  1. Sift the flour,salt, wheat gluten and semolina together in a big bowl.
  2. Add the honey to the water and mix well.
  3. Mix in the crescuita.
  4. Add the yeast and mix into the flour.
  5. Rub the olive oil into the flour mixture.
  6. Add the warm water mixture to the flour mixture.
  7. Mix and form into a dough.
  8. Lightly flour the work top or board and knead the flour for 10 minutes till it is soft and silky. The dough will be slightly sticky and NOT too sticky.
  9. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl.
  10. Cover the bowl with a cling film and leave it in a warm place for nearly 1½ - 2 hours till the dough rises and becomes double the size.
  11. Knead the dough gently again with oiled hands for a few seconds.
  12. Divide it into 8 parts.
  13. Let the dough rest for 5 - 10 minutes.
  14. Take one part of the dough and on a lightly floured board or top, roll it into a 12" rope.
  15. Make a swirl staring from both ends but in opposite directions till you get a S shape.
  16. Place the shaped bread on a greased tray.
  17. Repeat steps 13 - 15 with the remaining dough.
  18. Brush the bread with water.
  19. Sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.
  20. Cover the tray and let the dough rise again for 1-1½ hours.
  21. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  22. Place the tray in the oven and bake the bread for 20-30 minutes or till the tops are golden brown and the bread is done.
  23. Remove the bread from the oven, and let it cool on a wire rack before serving.
Tips:
  • If you are not using instant yeast then sprinkle it in the warm water with honey and leave it for 10 minutes till the mixture is frothy.
  • I stuck toothpicks in the centre of each swirl so that the cling film does not touch the bread.
  • If you don't have wheat gluten, you can still make the bread without it.
  • Use plain flour instead of wheat flour if you like.
  • If you don't find fine semolina flour, just grind the normal semolina (sooji) in a coffee grinder.
You may want to check out the following :

gibassier
julekake
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Sunday, 25 January 2015

473. caramel custard

32nd anniversary

 'The bonds of matrimony are like other bonds - they mature slowly'. Peter DeVries

         On Friday hubby and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. While you read this, you may want to ask us, how did you celebrate? Where did you go? What present did you get? etc etc. Truthfully we didn't do anything special as such.I was too busy preparing for the Lions Club poetry recital competition. The first few years of our marriage, my hubby would always forget the anniversary date but my mother in law would remember and make it into a special day. As years went by, kids would remind my hubby that a special day is approaching. Presents, dinner etc was the norm.As we grow older presents and dinners are not that important. We spent Friday going through our wedding album. It took us back to sweet memories and how family and friends looked back then. Do we feel we have been married for 32 years? Not really, the memory of our wedding day is still fresh and vivid. In reality hubby and I are poles apart, opposites in most respect but over the years we have found a common ground, always have something to talk about, take an interest in each others passions, give each other space and most importantly trust each other. I can't remember calling up my hubby every hour or keeping a tab on every hour spent outside home. Neither does he. That does not mean we don't love each other or romance in our marriage is dead. Little actions and thoughts makes our marriage work.
      We try and make our anniversaries special in little ways. This anniversary he has promised to let me shop in India till I drop. How sweet, but he knows I am not a shopaholic. I buy want I need and that's all. However, I can go overboard if I went to a kitchen ware store or a book shop! What did I do for him? I made for him his all time favourite dessert... caramel custard. And boy! what a lovely present it turned out to be. Previous 3 attempts had failed and finally I got it right. The first time I tried a Betty Crocker recipe and it was a total failure in every respect. The tops were burnt, the temperature given was all wrong and the custard tasted like curdled eggs. The second time, the caramel was all wrong. 3rd was not too bad, but had a few big bubble holes in the custard. 4th attempt was a winner. Never mind the crack I got while removing it onto a plate. Probably shook it too much!

Share you thoughts :
Does your hubby remember your anniversary date? If he does, does he know how many years you both have been married for?





one of my failed attempts

CARAMEL CUSTARD
Makes 6

For the caramel :
½ - ⅔ cup sugar
2 tbsp water

For the custard :
4 eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
a few strands of saffron
2 tbsp hot milk
  1. Take a deep baking tray (like a roasting pan). Place 6 ramekin bowls in the pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Preparation of the caramel :
  1. Put the sugar and water in a heavy bottom pan.
  2. Put the pan over medium heat.
  3. Stir the mixture till the sugar melts.
  4. Let the mixture cook, swirl the pan occasionally till you get a golden liquid.
  5. Remove the pan immediately from the heat. 
  6. Divide the caramel between the 6 ramekin bowls. Swirl the bowls to spread out the syrup.
Preparation of the custard :
  1. Add saffron to the 2 tbsp hot milk.
  2. Heat the 2 cups of milk in a pan till its just warm and not hot.
  3. Add the sugar and vanilla extract.
  4. Add eggs into a bowl.
  5. Beat lightly to break up the yolks.
  6. Add the milk mixture to the eggs and beat lightly to mix everything.
  7. Strain the mixture.
  8. Pour the saffron mixture to the strained mixture and mix.
  9. Divide the mixture between 6 ramekin bowls.
  10. Pour hot water in the baking tray carefully till its half way up till the bowls.
  11. Carefully place the tray in the oven and bake for 25 -30 minutes.
  12. The tops will have set but the custard will be a bit wobbly. Insert a knife in the middle and it should come out clean.
  13. Remove the tray from the oven. Let the custard cool in the tray.
  14. Place the custard in the fridge to chill for 2-3 hours.
  15. To serve, carefully run a knife around the edge. Place a small dessert plate over it.
  16. Turn it over. Shake it a little and the caramel custard will come out.
  17. Serve.
Tips:
  • Some recipes make the milk hot some don't. I decided to have it warm and it worked well for me. If the milk is too hot it will cook the eggs.
  • Straining the liquid helps to remove foam and bubbles that may be formed during beating.
  • I placed the tray on the lower shelf in the oven to prevent the custard from burning on top.
  • I added saffron for that extra taste.
  • Our friend's mum takes 3/4 part milk and 1/4 part fresh cream to make the custard more creamier.
  • Don't let the sugar become too dark, otherwise it will taste bitter.
You may want to check out the following :

lemon poppy seed cheesecake
orange creamsicle pops
strawberries and fresh cream


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Sunday, 18 January 2015

472. wholewheat jaggery and ginger cookies

I love these secret ingredients

  Challenges come in our lives for a reason. They teach us, make us stronger and wiser. Some challenges can be pleasant and some very difficult. However we all have to face them and get through them. Our cooking challenges are not scary or difficult to face. They are fun and exciting.     
 Every month I look forward to the shhh cooking secretly challenge. As soon as the participants are paired I eagerly wait not only to get my two secret ingredients but also to give my two ingredients. Unfortunately out of the 6 I have participated in so far, only one partner has cooked with the ingredients I gave to her. Not really complaining... they may have not cooked the dish due to some reason or the other. I have found the ingredients I have received challenging and fun. For this month's challenge I got jaggery and milk as my two secret ingredients from Shailaja Reddy. She has a wonderful food blog, Sahasra Recipes. Because of makar sankranti just round the corner, til laddoos kept on popping up in my head. However, I have already blogged that recipe so had to think of something else. Jaggery or milk on its own are pretty simple ingredients, offering various dishes that can be made with them. However the combination is another story altogether. There are jaggery and milk kheers, but didn't want to make kheer. It was like a last resort thing to make if I didn't find anything else. And then I tumble across jaggery cookies and said, "yes that's what I am going to make".
       The cookies turned out really delicious. I loved the way jaggery added that caramelized taste to the cookies.Crunchy on the outside and soft inside. Only back draw was that the cookies became a bit soft in spite of storing in an airtight jar. So I just popped them back into the oven for 10 minutes under low heat. They stayed crunchy till they got over. If I need to make ginger cookies again, its going to be this recipe--- with jaggery !
        Check out my new wooden basket. Isn't it lovely? Made from one piece wood and handmade. Its unfortunate that our artisans are suffering because of lack of tourism. They make lovely stuff.

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Do you love challenges ?



WHOLEWHEAT JAGGERY AND GINGER COOKIES
About 30 cookies
Recipe source : My experiments with food

1¾ cups wholewheat flour (atta)
¼ cup coarse almond powder
½ cup (100g) butter
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup grated jaggery (gur)
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda bicarbonate (baking soda)
2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp fresh ginger paste
1 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease the baking trays lightly with butter.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, soda bicarbonate and ginger powder together into a bowl. Mix in the almond powder.
  3. Put butter, sugar and jaggery in a pan. Heat the mixture over low heat. Stir till the sugar and jaggery melts. Take the pan off the heat.
  4. Add lemon juice, milk and ginger paste. Mix well. Let it cool a bit.
  5. Add the liquid to the flour mixture and stir with a spoon till mixed. Knead into a dough.
  6. Take about a tablespoonful of the dough and roll it into a ball.
  7. Gently press it between your palms or flatten them about ¼" thick.
  8. Place it on the greased baking tray.
  9. Repeat steps 6 to 8 with the remaining dough. Place the rolled dough 1" apart.
  10. Bake the cookies for 12 - 15 minutes till the cookies are golden brown.
  11. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
  12. The cookies will be soft but will become a bit hard on cooling.
  13. Store in an airtight container.
Tips:
  • Don't over bake the cookies. They will become rock hard and burnt cookies taste bitter.
  • To get flat cookies flatten them more. I like dome shaped cookies so I tend to press them between my palms.
  • If the cookies are too soft, then place them again in the oven at 100°C for 10 -15 minutes.
  • Add any nut powder of your choice or add wheat germ.
  • I prefer to use dark coloured jaggery for these cookies as it adds a lovely golden brown colour to the cookies. 
  • Do not overheat the liquid mixture. Just cook till the sugar and jaggery melts. 
You may want to check out the following :
spicy christmas muffins
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Friday, 16 January 2015

471. Hara bhara tikkis/ kababs

home made is always delicious

       My past 9 posts have been all sweet except for the cucumber coriander chaas. Its time to blog a savory dish. A few days ago I made some hara bhara tikkis. Loved the home made ones. I've had these tikkis or kebabs numerous times in different restaurants. Most of them have more potato than any other ingredient. With the home made one, one is in control of the ingredients.. add a bit more of what you like or less of the one you don't like. Some people make them with potato and others add paneer. Restaurant experiences mostly tend to be good but sometimes they turn out to be a great disappointment. Most of the time the dish charge is not justified especially in the more expensive restaurants. We had ordered palak paneer at a restaurant sometime back and we literally found only 3 pieces of paneer, the rest was gravy! I find the less expensive restaurants or road side canteens or dhabas offer value for money. Isn't it disappointing to order a mushroom pizza and find just a few slices or find that your veg lasagne costs the same as the meat one and the only veg you find in it are carrots and a few peas. Have you noticed how starters usually cost as much as the main dish? Usually starters are shared and the number of pieces limited! I remember ordering a salad which should have had walnuts, pomegranate, feta cheese and greens in it. What did I find? Two walnuts, 4 tiny cubes of feta cheese and no pomegranate. The reason being they didn't have any! I usually don't go for salads at restaurants as you land up paying more for the lettuce, usually its 3 to 4 times the price and above all I am not sure if they have washed the vegetables and fruits well. That does not mean I do not enjoy eating out. I do and we usually land up at tried and tested places.

Share you thoughts :
Do you find most restaurants over priced?






HARA BHARA TIKKIS/KABABS
Makes 24 small ones

For the tikkis :
2½ cups (approx 100g) chopped spinach
1 cup green peas, steamed or boiled
1 cup boiled and mashed potato ( about 2 potatoes)
½ cup finely chopped  fresh coriander (dhania)
1 tsp green chilli paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 - 2 tsp chaat masala
1 tsp lemon juice or ¼ tsp amchur powder (dried mango powder)
1- 1½ tsp salt
3 - 4 tbsp chana flour (besan, chickpea flour)
oil for shallow frying

For the mint yogurt chutney :
¼-½ cup fresh mint leaves
1-2 green chillis
¼ " ginger 
½ cup yogurt
a generous pinch of salt

Preparation of the tikkis :

  1. Steam the spinach till it wilts.
  2. Squeeze out any extra water from it.
  3. Put the spinach, coriander and peas in a chopper and process it into a coarse paste.
  4. Take out the pea spinach paste into a bowl.
  5. Add mashed potato, chilli, ginger, garlic pastes, salt, lemon or amchur and chana flour.
  6. With wet hands, divide the mixture into 24 parts or the size you desire.
  7. Roll each part into a disc shape. 
  8. Heat oil in a frying pan or tawa.
  9. Place a few tikkis and cook on one side till it is golden brown.
  10. Flip it over slowly and cook the other side till it is golden brown.
  11. Place the tikkis on a kitchen towel so it absorbs the extra oil.
  12. Serve hot with a chutney of your choice.
Preparation of the chutney :
  1. Process the mint, ginger and chilli into a coarse paste.
  2. Add it to the beaten yogurt.
  3. Add salt and mix well.
Tips :
  • Add spices according to your taste.
  • If you don't have chaat masala, add a bit of garam masala.
  • Add paneer instead of potatoes or add both, half half quantity.
  • If you want to fry the tikkis/kababs, you can make them into oblong shape.
  • Serve with chutney of your choice.
  • I made the tikkis bite size. You may make them bigger if you like.
  • Add fresh mint leaves to the tikki if you like.
You may want to check out the following :
cucumber coconut pattis
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Thursday, 15 January 2015

470. 0ats and nuts laddoos

Happy Makar Sankranti

                "Til-gul ghya ani gud gud bola", which translates to 'eat these sesame seeds and jaggery and speak sweet words'.
 A festival that bonds all communities and encourages us to love all.     Makar Sankranti is the only festival in India which is based on the solar calendar and not the lunar one. That means it falls on 14th January every year and sometimes on 15th. This is another festival celebrated by all in India, just the names vary. Pongal, lohri, uttarayan, makar sankranti, maghi. khichdi. Day and night are equally long on this day.  Eating sesame seeds and jaggery during winter is considered good for health. Some parts of India, kites are flown on this auspicious day. Read this for more information about this festival. Yesterday, during our community ladies meeting, I learnt how to make a proper kite for the first time. When I was teaching in school. we usually just painted on manila sheets or newspapers and made fake kites. So much technique is involved in making a kite... its all about aerodynamics. It was a fun activity. My partner and I added all sorts of decorations to make the kite attractive not realizing that we just made it heavier! Oh well... as I say, there is no age limit to learning new things. Do I know how to fly a kite? Not at all! Had never even heard of this festival when I was growing up. Came to know about it when I went to a boarding school in Mt. Abu.
     This year I decided to add more health to the ladoos by adding oats, nuts and seeds. I did find it difficult to roll them as my mixture was too coarse. But overall, the ladoos are good and can have them without feeling too guilty.




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Do you know how to fly a kite?

OATS AND NUTS LADDOOS
Makes about 24 small ladoos

1 cup oats (quick cooking variety)
12 -14 almonds
8 -10 walnuts
15 pistachios
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds (tal)
1 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)
2 tbsp dried cranberries
½ cup grated jaggery (gur)
1 tsp cardamom powder (elachi)
2 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp milk

  1. Roast almonds, walnuts and pistachios separately over low heat for 2 - 3 minutes.
  2. Roast the oats till a bit crunchy  - about 2 minutes.
  3. Roast the sesame seeds till they just begin to pop. Remember to keep stirring all the ingredients constantly when roasting them.
  4. Roast the pumpkin, poppy and sunflower seeds separately for about a minute.
  5. Cut the cranberries into small pieces.
  6. When the roasted ingredients are cool grind them into a coarse powder. I prefer to grind them separately.
  7. Mix all the coarse powders and chopped cranberries. Add cardamom powder and mix well.
  8. In a pan heat ghee and jaggery over low heat. Keep stirring till the jaggery melts.
  9. Keep stirring gently till it begins to bubble.
  10. Take the pan off the heat, add milk and mix well.
  11. Add the coarse powder mixture and mix well.
  12. As soon as the mixture is a bit cool, take a tablespoonful and begin making the laddoos.
  13. To make the laddoos, press the mixture into a ball by pressing it in your fist.
  14. Work quickly because its difficult to form laddoos with the cold mixture. 
  15. You may heat the mixture gently but not too often.
  16. Store in an air tight container.
Tips :
  • My mixture was too coarse so I found it difficult to form the laddoos. Make sure its not too coarse.
  • Add nuts, seeds and dried fruits of your choice.
  • I added dried cranberries to give it a sweet and slightly tangy taste.
  • Adding milk makes them a bit soft.
  • Do not over cook the jaggery, otherwise it will get burnt.
  • Also use low heat to roast the ingredients and to make the syrup.
  • I sometimes roast the ingredients in an oven at 100°C for 20 -25 minutes.
  • You can add roasted coconut to the mixture. 
  • For every 2 cups of coarse powder you need ½ cup of grated jaggery.
You may want to check out the following :
tal and mixed nuts laddoos
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