londonblogger

Tiramisu

We are back in London after a rather long holiday in India. This week has been busy as we have had a lot of things to clear out and also do all the unpacking. We are almost done and slowly this change is starting to feel more normal. I even managed to whip up some dosa batter in between all the de-cluttering. Last night I was the tired mother who was sipping on a glass of Merlot and also trying to make dosas for the half pint who was happily sat on the kitchen counter to see his mum in action. Somehow, those few moments I shared with him while I served him and watched him eat made me feel oh so nostalgic. I was the little child in my mother’s kitchen who always sat on the counter and enjoyed having food off the stove while mom and I spoke random things. Yesterday, I saw myself sharing a slice of my childhood with Neil while he enjoyed his dinner just like the way I used to. This whole scene from last night made me feel something that pretty much sums up life for me. All I want to do is cook for the family with a bottle of wine perhaps….

It may only be appropriate to share one of my favourite recipes while I am talking about how much I love to cook. The recipe is only a matter of getting things in order and layering them up to form a Tiramisu. This is a non-alcoholic version only because I find the existing amount of coffee and cocoa is enough for me to go bonkers. So feel free to add a bit of rum to your coffee decoction if you are more grown-up than I am.

 

Ingredients

Cocoa powder to sprinkle the tiramisu

Coffee to wet the sponge fingers

Mascarpone -500 g

Eggs- 6 medium

Sugar -120 g

Finger sponge -it depends on the size of the box/tin u will use

 

This is the dish I like to use so it is easy to build a neat layer. The wider the better!

First prepare the coffee like you would normally do.( enough to soak the finger sponges , I usually fill a pasta plate) pour into a bowl and let it cool.

Whip the egg yolks with half the sugar to obtain a very light and creamy mixture.

Add the mascarpone to the mixture and work the whole thing with a whisk (or wooden spoon until creamy with no lumps, At this stage it should be very creamy

Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt, add the sugar (the remaining half), with a wooden spoon, add them gradually and gently into the mixture of mascarpone and egg yolks, so you now have the cream for the tiramisu.

Soak the sponge fingers one by one in the coffee and start to build your layers.

Cover the fingersponge soaked with a layer of mascarpone cream adjusting with a spoon.

Sprinkle the surface with cocoa powder. Go ahead with  the second layer of fingersponge, cream and cocoa. Also, if before you have them arranged vertically, then place them horizontally (and vice-versa).

Complete with plenty of cocoa powder to cover the surface of your Tiramisu and Store in refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

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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 

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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Some television talk and a healthy recipe ūüėĀ

First of all, I am not a TV person. I don’t remember the last time I sat down on the couch to watch some tele on my own. Not because I am so busy but it is just not my thing. Pah! What a boring wife/friend do I make of myself!

My way of relaxing is to lie down and browse for recipes after I have had a glass of good wine. When it comes to a drama or a sitcom, I hardly have any patience to begin with. But there have been a few shows which I really loved watching. Downton Abbey will remain my most favourite ever. I also liked watching Gavin and Stacey, Only fools and Horses and some episodes of IT crowd. Okay, they are all British because I am a little biased towards the English when it comes to humour, cakes and manners.

We now find a little time to watch our favourite shows after the man-cub goes to bed, but the challenge now is choosing which one to watch. So, every time my husband and I decide to watch, we spend way too much time on choosing than actually watching. This is one of those things like “where do we eat out” dilemma. But there are always exceptions. So, we do manage to find shows that interest both of us such as the ones I said above. But 99 times of 100 , we are on opposite poles and choose what each other won’t enjoy. So, one such show that I watched recently which I knew he wouldn’t enjoy is an American TV show called Grace and Frankie. It was surprisingly a delightful watch. I am now moving onto Season 2 which was released earlier this month. This is available on Netflix if you want to watch too. I am not great at reviewing TV shows as I don’t watch a lot but all I can say is if you are looking for something rather warm yet funny, then you might give this a try.

But before you do that, you may also check out my recipe for a delicious side. Perfect for munching on while you Grace and Frankie.

Oven baked Sweet Potato fries:

Step 1 : Cut Sweet potatoes lengthwise. Put them in a food bag, add salt, paprika and Olive oil. Shake the bag to coat evenly.You could leave for about 20 minutes before you bake. (Might be a good idea to turn the oven on now for preheating)

Step 2 : Arrange them on a baking tray. Make sure you use a cooking spray or some sort of oil to avoid sticking. And another tip I learnt is to separate each of these sticks so they don’t stick together and become mushy.

Step 3: Bake in a preheated oven at 190-200 degree celsius until they start to look like fries ūüôā

Serve on its own or with any sauce of your choice although my favourite is Sweet chilli.

Our reading journey –Part 2 of Our favourite books

 

If you have read my previous post here, you may have known that I embarrass my husband quite often. But you might have also read that I do a few things that save me from all the rubbish I get up to. Number one is cooking good food and here is number twoРReading with my little boy.

This post is also a continuation to one of my very early posts (Our favourite baby books so far! )on our favourite baby books. I am going to share our journey into the world of books and also list a few of the best books we have come across and are currently reading.

Initially during the baby days, the idea was to only sit down and feel the book. So it was like¬†listening for¬†ten seconds and then probably throwing it around and a bit of tasting too. Then gradually as he got to being 7 months old, we could¬†sit down and read a bit more each day. Which meant, we had a favourite page in each book and we would only see that page in each book for weeks. But at this stage, I was happy that he at least sat down with me and sometimes very patiently too. He may have had no choice with his stubborn mummy but at least I knew he was getting close to loving the whole idea of reading a book. And when he was¬†almost a year old, he started to sit through for four or five pages. After which, we decided to venture out to little story books. Our first story book called “The very fiddly fish” was a big success. It really is a very cute story. This is the time he actually started enjoying books more than I ever thought he would. He loved to point and asked me to repeat the same word over and over again. And he would do this with every book. And it was amazing to see the enthusiasm at such a tender age.

After he got to being 18months old, I started to let him choose his own books from the library. This way, I felt he enjoyed every book we borrowed. Today, Although he enjoys choosing his books to take home, he also finds swiping the card and throwing the book into the return box equally exciting. I find great pleasure in seeing all this and also a bit of relief that he can do all these little jobs by himself.

For now, we read as and when he insists. Some days it might be around lunch time, some days as soon as we wake up, or some very odd times like when mummy is dressing up. So, there is no pattern except for our bedtime collections. While I do most of the reading to him, he also gets very excited to share his new books with his daddy. It is rather adorable to watch them read together as it is very different from the way he reads with me. I like going in a particular manner which may look rather silly if you watched me read with him. But my approach has always been baby-led. He chooses and I follow. When he reads with daddy, it is fun to watch too because they go about looking randomly and sometimes they even build their own stories. Yay for the love of books!!!!

In no particular order, here are some of our current favourites.


Touch and feel books are really wonderful. Usborne books¬†have a lot of topics under¬†this series. We never got a chance to borrow much of them as they were not available to loan. But we were lucky to read a few of them in the children centres. These books have a simple theme – a little story told using various structures and textures in each page. And the phrase “that’s not my…” in every page gets the anticipation and keeps them engaged for longer. And they use real-life objects like vehicles or animals to explain the various textures like bumpy or rough or smooth etc.


We would also highly recommend the below books as they are so good to read on their own too. So These can come in handy and will  keep your toddler busy for a while when you have to do your chores or  in places where one has to wait. There are lots of pictures in all of these to keep the imaginations going.

 Oh, I cannot begin to tell you how much I love reading with my little boy. It probably is the next best thing to eating and sleeping  for us. It gives us such joy and a lot of togetherness which is what I love the most. Ok, besides the bonding factor, it really is being a great tool overall.

What are your thoughts on reading with your kid? Tell us your favourites too…

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!

Pistachio-almond cake!

best cake 1

So, I have been going to these cooking sessions with my little man for the past few weeks. To be honest, I enjoy it more than him because he is under strict control as it is not our own kitchen to mess about.So basically, he is not allowed to have much fun. He is at an age where he wants to help so much which is outrageously cute but can’t do much other than washing and throwing around vegetables. The other day, I thought I should give him a little more responsibility and asked him to sprinkle some Hing powder in the cooked pot of dal, and he ended up throwing the entire container in it. And much to my surprise, I took it so lightly and laughed it all out just to make him feel good for willing to help. Oh, these kind of moments are the best.

Let’s move onto a very easy recipe for a delicious cake. This cake needs no occasion. You can make it as you please and feel the warmth it brings to the soul. It is truly scrumptious. This is going to be one of those recipes that I am going to keep forever.

best cake 5best cake 3best cake 2best cake 4

Pardon my rather silly idea of posting a handwritten recipe note than typing it all out…. So, If you find difficulties reading any or all of it, then please give a shout.

cake recipecake recipe 2

 

 

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.