FOOD LOVER

Five of many things about me!

1) I have had wonky teeth almost all my life. Only when I realised that I was nearing 30(I turned 30 this year, so please don’t think I am very old) I decided to fix my teeth. I am glad I did because I see many people smiling at me these days.

2) As much as I love cooking and feeding my loved ones, I also love being fed and taken out to eat. Be it for a posh night out at a fine dining place or a greasy Takeaway or a child friendly Italian, my gluttony is a sight of embarrassment everywhere.

3) I sort of hate low-fat versions of anything. Except maybe double cream. Because I am a believer. I would rather eat a small portion of the proper malai kulfi than a big cup of a low fat one. I like to reduce portions than substitute. But what I haven’t understood yet is how small should it be really ūüôą

4) I am not skinny. I don’t wish to either. I think I like the way I am. Just about average is what I am. Although, I may not be as proud when it comes to my mind. Ha, I go mental about some really silly things and I have very weird OCDs. So, overall, an average looking person with a birdbrain.

5) I don’t eat chocolates! Maybe once or twice a year.That’s all.

As a matter of fact, I am glad you made it this far to know about me. So, I leave you with an interesting recipe as a reward for taking your time to read until this point.

It’s sort of a challenge to come up with ideas to cook sprouts differently. One could simply throw them in a salad or make a curry. I have tried making sprouts sandwiches too. They are mighty good. But one Sunday, when I decided to fry¬†pooris for lunch, I also had some leftover sprouts in fridge. And there you go, this dish was born. All I did was slightly cook the sprouts with salt, turmeric and chilli flakes. Next, let it cool and stuffed them into pooris. It was a little tricky at first but as it cooled even more, it became a lot easier to roll and fry. So, the next time you make pooris, try stuffing them with these humble mung beans for a lovely change. I don’t have step by step pictures but I will try to update the post when I make it the next time.


I served it with tadka dal and khatti meeti aloo(sweet and sour). Perfect Recipe to help you get your Sunday nap in order.

 

Featured Image source: Google 

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From farm to plate(About my parents farm)

When I was little, I didn’t think I would ever learn to cook. I thought cooking was one of those menial tasks and it involved no amount of fun. Maybe because our¬†mother never let us help her much. The best she wanted from us was that we helped her decide what to¬†eat¬†and that we finished what was served. But, as I got older and a little wiser if I may say so, I started to realise that there was¬†more to cooking¬†than merely chopping and mixing.

Have you ever stopped for a moment and thought about where the tomatoes or spinach that you eat came from? No no, I am not that kind of a person who grows her own vegetables and eats only from her own garden. But I am the kind that likes to go pick stuff from the farm preferably or to the least from the market. I find it comforting. I am a little more independent here¬†in London than in Chennai, so I end up buying way too much and often times from very expensive organic shops. I do this with a slight hope of avoiding those greasy takeaways that we do every now and then. Buying too many vegetables is one way of making sure that i almost never want to waste any of it and less of hearing that ” we have eaten out so much this week and we should be spending less bla bla” from the husband. But only the one who cooks can understand the emotions¬†of another isn’t it??? So,When I do cook, I try to use the best possible ingredients.I don’t make what I made the¬†day before or sometimes even a week before. I love food cooked with different coloured vegetables and a reasonable amount of flavour. Apart from trying to make it healthy,I do¬†all of the above¬†to earn that well deserved break from cooking. So when we eat out, I feel a little less guilty.

But here comes the best bit, I am actually very pleased to tell you that my parents own a small farm in Chennai which is a few miles away from our home. And ever so often we get some lovely greens and other vegetables delivered to our house. What a blessing!!! And every time my mother tells me on the phone that she cooked some really delicious stuff using our own farm fresh produce, I would feel so jealous. The last time while I visited home, I was lucky enough to have tasted lots of food made with vegetables from the farm. And needless to say, today I am a bit nostalgic and missing all the food and fun.

Here are some pictures of the produce from the farm which I clicked last year.

 

The Entire lot_MG_6979

The white long ones are Banana Stems which make for an amazing South Indian Style Kootu/Lentil coconut gravy.

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Raw Bananas, Guavas and Vazhapoo(Banana Stem flower)_MG_6981

Musmusukai Keerai(Mukia maderaspatana)

Usually served in the form of Kootu(Curry with lentils and coconut)

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Agathi keerai(Sesbania Grandiflora)

Usually served as Kootu or a dry stir fry with Toor dal and coconut

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Manathakkali Keerai (Solanum Nigrum)

Usually served as Kootu or a chutney

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Helpers around the farm and the house_MG_6993

The bunch of leaves below the Banana Stem flower is Murungai Keerai (Drumstick leaves). This is a very tasty one and usually cooked in Sambar or added to dosais and adais. 

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Banana stem flower (Best had as Kootu or a Vadai(Dumpling)_MG_6997

 

Agathi Poo (My mother made an amazing thokku(Pickle) with this flower and it was out of the world.  I will find a picture of this pickle and post it sometime soon. _MG_6998

 

The little black beauties in the picture above are fresh manathakkalis/black night shades/sunberry. These berries are sun dried and added to kara kuzhambu(a spicy tamarind based curry).

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I hope you enjoyed this post ūüôā

 

Smoothie Trails #1 Banana Flaxseeds and Vanilla

I am kickstarting a new series called the “Smoothie Trails” on the blog. This series will feature some( I am aiming for 5-10 atleast) easy and healthy smoothie recipes to start your day on the right note. This is my attempt in spreading the word on eating well. All of these recipe ideas will use simple ingredients but most importantly fresh ones. You can also easily tweak any ingredients to make it just the way you would like it. Let’s get started with the first recipe that uses everyone’s favourite Bananas.

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To make this smoothie : 

Banana- 1 medium sized ripe

Any Milk of your choice or Greek Yoghurt

Vanilla pods or extract

Flaxseed powder – A spoon

Granola bites or Oatmeal to give you more fiber.

Blend all ingredients except the flaxseed powder to a thick puree. And sprinkle some flaxseed powder on top and there you have it.

 

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A Mangooooeey fudge recipe.

Is your mother one of those generous souls who never knows to cook in small quantities? Mine for sure doesn’t know. The other day when we were on the phone chatting, my mother had told me she was busy all day as her dearest sister visited her after long. I knew she must have cooked a lot and spent the day gossiping and also exchanging recipes etc etc etc. My auntie is no less when it comes to cooking. She cooks well and cooks a lot of food each meal. These two ladies can happily spend their time watching tele, shopping and what not. Simply because they have a lot of house helpers and they can afford to be served each meal. So much so that I do feel very jealous at times. But despite all the help, they  choose to cook each meal only taking very little help from the maids. They find so much pleasure and happiness in cooking for others. Be it for the men of the house or for maids, the food is the same. And needless to say, the food is way too delicious when it is cooked with so much love. I have seen my mum make dosas after dosas for her maid and still does. I would’ve expected it the other way round, but such is the kind of love the family shows when it comes to serving food. I failed to understand this respect while I was younger, but I am ever so glad that I have realised it now. I may not cook enough to feed an army like they do, but whatever little I cook, I cook with love.

While we are on the theme of cooking with love and no negativity, I did manage to flop a lovely recipe this week. I tried to bake a cardamom cake and failed miserably. Not because I went in with anger, but because I was lacking sleep. That’s all!  But we all tasted it a little bit while it was warm, and fed the rest to the ducks this morning. Oh poor ducks, they must’ve cursed me later on for giving them such awful cakes. But just to compensate for that cake disaster and feel rather good about fixing our vintage refrigerator, I thought I should make an easy dessert that I was quite sure would be a hit with the boys because whats not to love about anything with mango in it. I have been wanting to make fudges for a while and this came about as a good chance. It was whipped in five minutes and cooked in seven minutes. But took overnight to set as a fudge. Yummy was my son’s response while he was licking my mangoo-eeey fingers.

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I thought I should share this very simple recipe on the blog and here it is

Mango puree- 1 cup or less (I used Alphonso)

Milk powder-3 cups

Double cream – 180-200ml

Sweetened condensed milk – According to your preference for sweetness

A pinch of saffron

Mix all the ingredients except mango puree. Do a taste check for sweetness.

Microwave for 3-4 minutes till it starts to bubble on the sides. Take it out and tip in the puree and mix well.

Microwave again for 3-4 minutes till it has bubbled well and looks like a thick paste.

At this stage, it should be still a bit flowy. Now, take a plate or a wide pan, grease with ghee or butter. Spread the cooked mixture evenly. Let it cool before you refrigerate for setting.

Beautiful looking easy peasy fudge is ready to be gobbled up.

mango blog 1

 

My inability to deal with helplessness and a quiche recipe

If you have been reading my blog, then you may have read a couple of posts on how much I miss my homeland.It looks like I am never going to get over this feeling. Well, there is so much to love about the place where you grew up and where you have such wonderful memories. So, when you have been taken away from where your heart belongs, how do you cope up with home-sickness? I make endless calls back home, I make food that smells so much like my home and I sometimes simply sit down and sob like a loopy little girl.

And when I do hear that any of the family member has been poorly, I find it so hard to be away. It may have only been a¬†fever or some sort of a regular ache/ infection which has been checked with doctors and given assurance that he/she will be fine in a couple of days,but being thousands of miles away, I never know to stay calm. I may not shout out loud or panic but it would show all over my face.This feeling of being away and not being there to check on your lovely people often makes me want to hate my life at times. I want to admit that I still haven’t found a good way to deal with helplessness other than annoy my husband and make a few dozen calls to disturb¬†everyone back home in such situations.

Sorry to have taken you down the gloomy train, I am leaving you with a very colourful recipe to cheer you up and I am sure you will forgive me for everything else.

quiche 2

This is one of the most easiest quiche/savoury pie you will ever make. If you call yourself a vegetarian but don’t mind eggs, then you may love this recipe a tad more because it is loaded with vegetables. You may want to add/omit any veggies of your choice.

Here is what you need :

If you don’t feel like making the base by yourself, then skip this bit and buy a ready-made tart case or savoury base.

For the pastry base

1.5 cups of plain flour

Half cup of cold butter

a pinch of salt

Ice cold water enough to make a firm dough

Dry beans for baking pastry initially

For the filling :

2 eggs

One cup of milk

Vegetables of your choice- finely chopped

I have used Sweet potato and mixed peppers for this recipe.

Butter to season the veggies with any herbs of your choice

Pastry Base :

Add salt to flour. Mix flour and butter till crumbly. Then gradually add cold water until you gather all the flour mixture to form a dough. Now, fold the dough and wrap in a foil or cling film and chill it in the fridge until you make your vegetable filling.Give it about 20 minutes atleast to chill.

It may now be a good idea to turn the oven on for pre-heating at 180 degree.

If using microwave, then follow instructions on the manual on how to turn the convection mode on your microwave and you can make delicious varieties of quiches.

Filling :

Heat a pan with some butter. Once melted, add the herbs. I used Italian seasoning dried herbs. Now add the vegetables and cook till soft. Add enough salt and pepper for the veggies. Switch off flame.

Take the eggs and beat well. Add it to the milk. Once the veggies have slightly cooled, pour the egg+milk into the veggies and give a good mix.

You can also add grated cheese at this point this to make it very rich and also use double cream instead of milk. 

Take the pastry out and roll it thinly and slightly bigger than the size of your pan on a floured surface. Now slowly tip the rolled out pastry onto the pan you are baking with. Trim the excess and do any sort of pattern with fork around the edges or simply press it down with your hand. Now bake this pastry with some beans for ten minutes in the preheated oven. After ten minutes, remove the beans and pour the vegetable+milk/egg  filling you prepared and spread evenly and gently. Put it back in the oven and bake till you see a beautiful brown crust around the edges of the pastry and a well set egg vegetable mix. It took me about 20 minutes in my age old oven.

quiche 3

Serve it warm with salad or just on its own for a nice sunny day lunch.

 

A few ways I embarrass my better-half and a tikka recipe.

I do feel that the husband-wife relationship is probably the most funniest of all relationships. At least, in my case it is. Well, purely because, I never fail to amuse him and so does he. Oh but I am the agreed winner when it comes to being an total embarrassment. I hope at least by writing it all down, I will learn to grow up and act rather lady-like.

  1. Love for noisy eating- I cannot help but be plainly honest on this one. I eat a lot and making all kinds of noise like aaahh, mmmm( sometimes you may even hear me chewing) gives me a deep sense of satisfaction. But my ever so polite husband is hugely embarrassed while dining out with me. Even while we go to an okayish place, I am still making noise out of disappointment because my food wasn’t to my expectations.
  2. Many good things come in small packages – My love for little things – I am a sucker for small things. Sometimes, I don’t mind paying more than its worth¬†as long it is small and pretty. For e.g, on our way back home from our holiday recently, I had bought¬†a lovely pot of yoghurt (made of plain glass-nothing too fancy) but looked very good to me for the price. This pot kept me dreaming of what I would use for¬†after I have finished the yoghurt. And reality hit me when the airpot security told me off as I couldn’t carry that size in my hand baggage. They were kind enough to let me finish the yoghurt and take the bottle empty if I wanted. And like a silly young woman, I ate all of it in front of them in two minutes and was then allowed to carry it. So, while all this happened, my husband still kept his cool. But I knew, he was wondering how on earth could¬†I come up with such new ways of embarrassing him. But all that mattered to me was bringing that darn pot home and I did.
  3. Talking loud – Well, coming from a place like India, how many of us talk slow and low toned? I don’t always talk loud but sometimes it just happens when I really have to convey my point. I know being loud makes no guarantee that I will win any argument but at least I have got him listening. But, honestly, I am way better now than I used to be. Thanks to my new role as a mother that has helped me tone down drastically.
  4. My OCD rules- Ever so embarrassing. I would ask him to check the refrigerator door a hundred times before we hit the bed. I would ask him about thrice if the doors were locked. I would ask him to check on the lights a few times. I would ask him to make sure his wardrobe door wasn’t kept open while we are off to bed. He really is one cool-headed man for he deals with these awkward things every single day.
  5. My rather amazing sense of spacial awareness- While we go out together, It feels as if I don’t have to worry about being dangerously close to someone or something. Somehow, I take it for granted that I won’t be hurt. But fate has it that I always end up hurting myself more in some small way when I go with my husband than when I am alone. These kind of things happen at supermarkets mostly. Incase, you didn’t know, a majority of them are huge and have dodgy trolleys here. While we are there shopping, ¬†I am half the time dreaming of what new vegetable to buy or what new ingredient I could add to my existing recipes. So, I am kind of not really paying attention to who is around. For the record, I have got my feet badly stamped by a rather giant footed man who obviously saw me standing and doing the packing at the till. ¬†And now my ever so practically-thinking husband points to me by saying I should have worn proper shoes and also looked around before I started packing. Well, little did I know or expect that I would get hurt if I walked into a store with a flip-flop. Well, many people do don’t they? But why is it that I am the one who gets caught up? ¬†The reason is simple, my sense of spacial awareness is very poor and had I been mindful enough to see that giant man earlier than that, I would’ve been more careful and stood an inch away. But I didn’t and I went ahead blocking the way and ended up getting hurt.

These are just a few things I am a regular at. Besides these, I have had my fair share of moments where I have dropped things off the floor and looked very clumsy too. If truth be told, I am only getting better by the minute. I am also looking forward to hearing what my son thinks of all this in a few years. I am only hoping to not embarrass him as much although I do have a few ideas already ūüėČ

In order to save myself from all the embarrassment, I do make things that make my boys go oooooo and aaaahhhh. For e.g, I make a decent variety of food to begin with. So today, being Easter sunday, I cooked Salmon tikka and a vegetarian version with paneer, some potato wedges and simple cumin spiced rice. And a very easy vanilla yoghurt with berries to finish it all on a sweet note. My husband gave me a big thumbs up for the salmon. I want to admit it that this probably was my best attempt in making a good tikka. It was delicious and full of flavour.

lucnh 2

So, in case any of you are interested in the tikka recipe, here is what you will need ūüôā

Choose any vegetable or meat of your choice. ( Some suggestions for a vegetarian version include broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes and cottage cheese too)

To make the basic tikka marinade: 

  1. Hung curd/yoghurt РThis is the result of hanging up some yoghurt in a muslin cloth for a couple of hours atleast to drain the water. The longer it is kept for draining, the thicker and creamier your yoghurt will be. I left mine for four hours. 
  2. Ginger garlic paste- 
  3. Green chilli paste – roughly pounded in a mortar and pestle or you can even grind it coarsely
  4. Cumin powder
  5. Garam masala
  6. Kashmiri chilli powder
  7. Turmeric
  8. A few saffron strands
  9. Kasuri Methi or dried fenugreek leaves
  10. Salt 

These are the ingredients for the marinade. Depending on the quantity of fish/vegetable, make a marinade by carefully mixing all the above. If you are making it with fish, then DO a salt check before you add to the raw fish. Then gently coat the fish and vegetables and leave it to marinate for atleast 30 minutes. And now bake/grill in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or till you see some dark roasting spots here and there. If you don’t have an oven or you are too lazy to use the one you have, then You can also pan fry these with some butter or oil on a medium flame till its all cooked through well.

Today, along with the salmon, I added cubes of red and green peppers/capsicum and onions. I marinated all of these together and it took me about 20 minutes in my oven to get that roasted look. Finally, squeeze very little lemon before serving.

This can be had with any flatbread for a hearty lunch or just had on its own for a light meal.

easy dessert

 

This was our dessert. Since, I did not have much time today, I just added some vanilla paste and few sprinkles of sugar to plain greek yoghurt and layered it with strawberries and blueberries. It was solely for the darling son who loves berries and yoghurt. However, It was rather scrumptious and we enjoyed it too. On that note, A very Happy Easter to you and yours!

The joy of simple food!

Did you know that Indians eat yoghurt/curd rice which is just rice and yoghurt mixed together? Okay, it’s more of a south Indian thing than a “Indian” thing actually. A daily affair in every south Indian’s home if I may say so. It may sound like I am over exaggerating a very simple combination or some of you may even call it a strange one. But the fact remains that there is nothing quite like finishing a meal with this “Thayir Sadham” as we all fondly call it in tamil. We sometimes have it as the only meal just so it helps the tummy to recover from all the junk we often eat.

It is mostly had during lunch but some people prefer having it for dinner too. As with many other dishes, this too can be served with variations. The most common is tempering it with mustard seeds. It shouldn’t surprise you if I now say that it appears on every wedding food menu. One, because it is loved by people of all ages and two, it is very easy to cook. On such occasions, it is a little more dressed up with fruits like grapes and vegetables like carrots and nuts too. And tempered¬†with ginger, green chillies etc etc. Infact, I know a lot of¬†people who even add butter to it to this already creamy deliciousness.

Goodness knows what a brilliant lot we are when it comes to food.(I maybe a little biased here being a south Indian myself) But dear reader, if you don’t think I was right then I suggest you first have a plate of Masala dosai or a bowl of curd rice with some potato fry and then think again.

Now, as we are all aware that eating too much white rice may increase the risk to diabetes and so on, I don’t see why we cannot switch some meals to healthier types. Especially, when we can get easy access to so many wonderful substitutes like Brown rice and Millets. I personally love millets. They are so easy to cook and tastes even better than white rice. Although I don’t compromise all the time. For e.g I like to cook white rice for a good bowl of drumstick sambar. But for a mixed yoghurt rice, I think millets are my favourite.

millet curd rice 3Here is a picture of a millet yoghurt rice tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves we had last week.

This was heaven right there.

I have such warm memories of devouring this dish after so many trips that we have taken over the years. Every time we come back from a trip, the only thing we crave for is some curd rice so we can all drift off to sleep right away. Yes, it is such a good sleep inducer I tell you.

There is no real recipe to this dish. You can add or not add any of those extra bits I mentioned. Here are a few suggestions:

  1.  If you are a beginner and want to experiment on how rice and yoghurt might even taste, then I would suggest you try doing this with plain basmati rice first. Simply cook rice normally and mix it with plain or greek yoghurt and a pinch of salt. 
  2. If you want to go one step further, heat up some oil, throw in mustard seeds and curry leaves, finely chopped ginger and green chillies. Add all of these along with rice and yoghurt. 
  3. If you want to go over the top, then follow step 1 and 2 first. Then, add green and black grapes(of course without the seeds). Then grate some carrots and cucumber. Garnish with nuts of your choice and for that extra prettiness add a few pomegranate seeds.

Now, can you begin to imagine how good this can be really????

My thoughts on having a boy and recipe for a spicy south Indian gravy!

Hurrah! my boy is going to be 2 next month. Although I am very happy to see him grow and shine, I am also secretly wishing for him to stay a little boy forever. Little boys should never grow.Yep, I am going to be biased here. There is something very very very nice about having¬†a boy. Perhaps, he is the only one¬†who thinks I am so beautiful even on my bad hair days which is almost very often. And he is the only one who loves me despite¬†giving him the same ol’ carrots and lentils for three days in a row.

My husband always wanted a boy more than me. He knows me too well to have wished for one because I am having way too much fun now. I kind of hoped for a girl as I love being one and thought it would’ve been easier to raise one too.¬†Plus, I also feared having to look at too many cars and trains and all¬†that. I couldn’t have been more stupid really. Because one fine day, this boy entered into my¬†world and blew me away. So much so that I don’t mind raising a dozen of boys. I love the way he helps me see the world through his tiny little eyes. I now think fire trucks and magnetic trains are the coolest things ever. I enjoy seeing digger trucks and car transporters on road. I get excited when I spot the bus before he does. I love dinosaurs and fast cars. Enough said!

Onto a lovely recipe passed onto me from my mother. It is a very spicy black pepper based gravy. South indian at its best. Perfect to have with bread or rice . For a non vegetarian version, just add chicken.

Melagu Kuzhambu or Black pepper gravy 

Pepper kuzhambu final

Here is what you will need:

Black peppercorns/Melagu in Tamil РA handful 

Cumin seeds- One heaped teaspoon

Dried Red chilli – 2

Chana dal/Yellow Split peas- 3/4th quantity of black pepper

Urad dal – Half the amount of Chana dal

Tamarind – size of golf ball soaked in lukewarm water or use 2 spoons of paste

Shallot onions- atleast 6 

Garlic pods- according to your preference (we add around 10 bulbs as we are a little partial to garlic)

To season: Curry leaves, Mustard seeds and Gingelly oil 

Method :

In a wide pan, dry roast black pepper, cumin seeds, red chilli and the dals individually. yes, its a bit time taking but worth it. Lightly roast them till you can fill the entire house with a wonderful aroma.

Once a bit cooled, grind all of the above with the tamarind water/paste till it forms a nice smooth paste.

Heat a kadai/gravy pot, add gingelly oil and season with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add onions and garlic now. Saute till translucent.

Now add the ground paste and add little water to loosen it up to a gravy like consistency. Also, once boiled, the gravy does tend to reduce so add a little extra water if you wish to.

Let it boil well for 8-9 minutes in a rather low flame. Keep stirring as and when required. This delicious concoction is ready to be served hot with a bowl of rice and a dollop of ghee. Pure bliss! Perfect for those wintry nights!

 

Karahi Tales

Parathas or Naan breads ? Curry or Biryani ? I am not even going to pretend I don’t like a¬†greasy supper now and then. Something deeply satisfying about ordering for a takeaway from your¬†regular Indian place isn’t it? Just like how each of you have your own local favourites, we have ours too. It is called Punjabi Karahi. Ever since I came to London, I have been eating here often enough with little breaks now and then. Although, we took a rather big break while I was pregnant and breastfeeding. See, before you go judging me, I am a good mother.

Punjabi Karahi is one dinky restaurant which is always overflowing with punjabi uncles sat in random tables and gobbling up parathas after parathas. So, it may not be entirely attractive to look at but the food is good. And best is to do a takeaway.

My brother visits us often in London for various reasons. Sometimes, it only appears as if he has travelled all the way only to eat from Karahi. Oh well, we are food mad like that.

I leave you with a recipe for a delicious Ragi/Finger Millet puttu which is totally non greasy and guilt free depending on the type of sugar you use.

Here’s what you need :¬†

A cup of good quality Ragi flour

Brown sugar or palm sugar to taste

Finely grated coconut

One or two pods of Cardamom

A little bit of ghee for frying nuts and raisins

Here’s how to make this:

One good tip I recently learnt is to sift the flour well for any type of puttu to avoid big lumps when it’s done.

Take lukewarm water about half the amount of flour.

Gradually sprinkle over the flour until you reach the point at which you can actually gather some flour and squeeze it between your fingers and it can hold a shape but when you let it loose it has to crumble.

At this stage, steam this flour using any steaming method you like. Steam till you get a nice smell and this might take about 6-7 minutes. The flour also turns darker when cooked.

Now heat a pan, add ghee and fry any nuts of your choice. I only used raisins this time to make it safer for the little person. Switch off flame and add grated coconut to the same pan. So with the remaining heat the coconut gets lightly toasted and that gives a wonderful flavour to this dish.

By now the flour would’ve cooled a little bit and you can add any type of sugar you may want. I used powdered brown sugar.i also added the cardamom pods to the sugar before grinding to make it easier. ¬†Add the toasted nuts and coconut too. Give a good mix and serve immediately!

This can be a wonderful evening tiffin or can be a good idea for breakfast too. 

 

 

Holiday banter and Baklavas.

We are back in London and the holiday mood has set in. It’s cold and feels so christmassy here. But the chances for a white one seems¬†pretty low. Did I just sound like I am going to report christmas weather in London? I hope not. I am only selfishly hoping for some snow this year. I know its not entirely convenient when it snows but it is such a beautiful thing to see. Now that I have a small boy at home, I cannot imagine anything more prettier than the sight of us looking out the window while it snows. Besides the snow, we like festive lights, scented candles, dancing in our christmas pyjamas and lots of yummy treats to munch on. So, while we ¬†sing.. all we want for christmas is some snow…. la..la..la, here are a few photos from our home…

christmas blog 2015 2

 

 

christmas 2015 blog 4christmas 2015 blog 3

 

owl blog final

A little story behind the owl wall hanging is that a certain¬†small man in our house adores the Owl. Mainly inspired from the Gruffalo story and the owl from the Twinkle twinkle little star video. As its my duty to keep him happy, I got this DIY kit(Shhhh…. the secret here is that this kit is for 8 year olds and I only got it to practise my basics in stitching). This is my christmas present for the¬†young man although I know when he is old enough to understand more, he is going to hate me for giving a pink one. Until then, I am going to get away with it.

baklava 4

 Baklavas

Finally, What’s a holiday without sweets? ¬†I like sweets in all forms. Sticky, gooey, crumbly,cakey,creamy and so on but what matters more to me is the flavour and the sweetness itself. Lesser the sugar the better for me. I know you are thinking that I am being rather silly to have said that but more than my tastebuds, the¬†waistline is struggling to handle too much at the moment. Besides that, I think too much sugar in general in any dessert only makes it boring. Throwing in different flavours in good proportions makes it more palatable don’t you agree? Here is one such recipe, when well made makes it a great treat for any occasion. So why not get your hands sticky with this baklava recipe for the holiday season?

Here is what you need 

Filo pastry sheets- store bought

Mix of nuts- crushed roughly

Sugar – as required

Dessicated coconut – A handful (Optional)

Butter РLots of it (Enough to brush every other sheet liberally)

For the glaze :

Sugar – 2 tblspns

A spoon of rose water

Plain water – a little less than a cup

If you have never worked with filo dough, then please don’t think this might be¬†tough. It only sounds a bit fancy but it is indeed very easy to work with. I have only used them for baklavas although a lot of recipes have come up with filo pastry fillings. All you need to remember is that these sheets are very very thin. They tend to break/dry out easily¬†at room temperature. So, the best is to work quickly and be more organised. And here is a small tip which you may have already known or seen on other recipes with regards to filo pastry:

A wet or a rather damp tea towel comes in quite handy to avoid the filo sheets from drying out in room temperature. So, keep them covered with the towel until the moment of truth, i.e. till the exact point you want to start filling and layering. 

  1. Preheat oven at 180 C. Place parchment/baking paper on a large sized rectangular tin.
  2. Take the roughly chopped nuts(I used almonds, pistachios and walnuts) and add a few spoons of sugar and mix well. Add as much sugar as you like after a quick taste check.
  3. Take atleast 2 filo sheets and butter them. Start filling the nut mix lengthwise. (See picture below) baklava 2

4. Next roll them like how you would roll a paper/poster. As you roll, keep brushing butter randomly on the sides. Repeat this for the remaining sheets.

5. Make as many rolls as your baking tray will hold. I made about 7 rolls with 3 sheets at a time. Now with a very sharp knife, cut them into small squares or diamonds or you may simply halve it.

6. Bake at 180 c until the crisp and golden brown at the top. Keep an eye after about 10 minutes to avoid burning.

7. Lastly, make the sugar/rose water syrup by simply boiling sugar and water until thick. Then add a few drops of rose water to the warm syrup. Once the baklava is out of the oven, take a small brush and apply the syrup evenly or just pour it gently all over. Let it rest for at least 1 hour to allow the syrup to soak through and you can then enjoy some sticky soggy nutty rich parcels. After a day, they hold well so you may even go ahead to pack them for friends or family. And with fillings, you can always experiment. I have even tried adding bits of dates and turned out just good.

A very Merry Christmas and A happy New year to you!