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Ruchik Randhap
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Christmas is exactly a week away and I have so many things to complete! While browsing through my list of Christmas recipes I realised that I hadn't posted the Gulio recipe yet. It is a quintessential Mangalorean Kuswar item although it is slowly losing out to other popular items on the goodie platter. To those new here, 'Kuswar' is a collective term for Christmas goodies prepared in Mangalorean Catholic households and includes sweets as well as savouries - mostly deep fried. 

A few years ago I had prepared the gulio and photographed them too but when I sat down to write the recipe I realised that I had misplaced the piece of paper I had noted it on. Since that week I had prepared several Kuswar items I couldn't remember the proportions and decided to try them again before posting the recipe. Days passed by and I simply forgot about it. Today I realised that it was high time I prepared and posted this recipe and with this my Kuswar collection is almost complete. 
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A few weeks ago when I set out to bake the first batch of Christmas goodies I had a few recipes in mind that I wanted to try. My cousin came home that day and flipped through my recipe book and said we should try these tarts as she loved white chocolate. Reluctantly I agreed as I had no experience making tarts from scratch. Previously I had made quiches using store bought tart shells and as always I was always hesitant to dabble with recipes that required making things from scratch. The fear of failure always keeps me from trying new things unless someone pushes me into it. Well, I got that push from my cousin that day who very confidently said that we should give it a try and that it would be a fun learning experience. Since I had her around, my little elf to give me company we set out to make these tarts with just 4 tart moulds. Four for a batch of 12 tarts as per the recipe. Sheer madness! Since we had just jumped into making these tarts without having an inkling of how much time it would take us with just 4 moulds we spent pretty long making them. However, the final result was mind boggling! Such beautifully crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth tarts with a gorgeous white chocolate filling that were begging to be polished off in one go!



I packed off some tarts to my aunt's place and everyone who tasted them said they were very professional and of 5 star quality! Without sounding like a donkey praising it's own tail I can only say that I was humbled yet elated in one go. I had no expectations whatsoever and never thought that they would be pretty much like stuff bought from a patisserie! I am so thankful to my cousin Nilisha Lobo for giving me that much required push. 


Now coming to the photography part of it, I don't remember any other photo shoot where I may have taken more than 90 shots of the food displayed. I simply loved taking pictures of these beautiful tarts. I just went on and on trying to evade the 2yr old lurking in the background but since the older brother is a trained sous chef cum photography assistant he kept her off the crime scene (and got clawed in the bargain). By far these tarts are my most favourite subject this year and I hope that I do better work in the coming year too!




If you love white chocolate then these tarts are waiting to be tried! If you've never tried making tarts from scratch, trust me, it's not that hard. There's always a first time! Just read the recipe and notes thoroughly before you begin. If you have any doubts just email me on ruchikrandhap@gmail.com. You can also leave me a comment below on this page or message me on my Facebook page


White Chocolate Tarts
Prep time: 45mins - 1hr | Bake time 10 mins | Chilling time: 1 hour | Yield approx 15 tarlets

Ingredients:

For the tart shells:

  • 225 grams / 8 oz plain flour plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 150 grams / 5-1/2 oz chilled butter, diced
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons cold water (use only as much as required)
  • plain chocolate curls to decorate
  • cocoa powder for dusting

For the filling:

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 400ml / 14 fl oz double cream * see note#1
  • 350 grams / 12 oz white chocolate, roughly chopped

Method:

To make the tart shells:
1. In a large bowl add the flour and the sugar and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. In a separate bowl place the egg yolks and about 1 tablespoon of the water and whisk together. Add this mixture into the bowl of flour and knead into a smooth dough without any cracks - knead for at least 1-2 minutes . If required use up the remaining tablespoon of water. If the dough feels too sticky dust a little extra flour. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes
3. On a clean working surface dusted with a little flour roll out the dough into a large, even chapathi and line the tarlets with this.
4. Prick the base of the tartlets with a toothpick, cover with clingfilm and chill again for 15 mins. While the tartlets are chilling, preheat the oven at 200 degrees C / 400 degrees F
5. Place beans or black eyed peas (chawli) in each of the bases and bake for 10 mins. Remove the beans and continue baking for another 5 mins. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool * see note#2

To make the filling:
1. Place the chopped white chocolate in a heatproof bowl (big enough to accommodate the chocolate+cream mixture)
2. Split the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the tip of your knife. Place the seeds in a saucepan along with the cream and heat until almost boiling and then pour this into the bowl of white chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts.
3. Whisk the mixture with an electric whisk until thickened and the whisk leaves a trail when lifted (this could take a good 4-5 mins of non stop whisking)
4. Chill this mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and then whisk it until soft peaks form (like whipped cream)
5. Fill the tart shells with this filling (use a spoon or piping bag - see note# 4 before proceeding) and chill them for 30 minutes
6. Decorate with chocolate curls and dust light with cocoa powder. Serve

Notes:
1. You can use fresh cream like Amul (in India) or Al Marai (in the UAE)
2. Baking tarts with the beans in them is called as blind baking. This is necessary in recipes that call for unbaked fillings like puddings or cream pies so it is essential that the crust be baked fully. To prevent the dough from puffing up and turning shapeless we add the beans to weigh it down and retain the desired shape.
3. Do not chill the dough for more than 20 mins as mentioned in step#2 while making the tart shells. If the butter in it hardens the dough will be hard to roll. If it so happens that you have placed it in the fridge for more than 20 mins then try to keep it out at room temperature till it becomes pliable enough to roll without sticking to the working surface. At any cost do not try short cut methods of microwaving the dough if you have made a mistake. You will be left with a sticky mess.
4. Once the tarts are baked and before you put in the filling make sure they cool down completely. We are working with extremely delicate and crumbly, short crust pastry like bases which will crumble if you apply too much pressure. Try lifting them from top using all your fingers so the entire tart shell is well supported and doesn't break off easily while lifting them. They tend to be more sturdy once you have chilled them for a few hours. So ideally prepare them a few hours in advance before filling them up.



There is so much of activity going on that I am hardly able to keep up with blogging these days. Tonnes of recipes are being tried out and some of them need to be tried out several times before I can present a fool proof recipe to you. So much work and so little time! Phew! I realised that today is the 15th already, just a few more days to go before Christmas so I guess I will post my recipes ASAP without any long stories. What do you say?
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During my time in Mumbai I had the opportunity of eating Bombay style Christmas goodies only at my aunt's place. Since we didn't have any Goan or East Indian friends I missed out on all the fabulous chance to eat the traditional goodies made by them during the season. However, the ironic part is that whenever we visited my aunt's place I only enjoyed eating all the lovely goodies that she made but since the blog did not exist back then and making Christmas sweets from scratch was never in my agenda I never bothered to learn making them! What a pity! It was just recently when I decided to venture out into making some Bombay style goodies that I realised that there was no proper recipe available online that I could rely on. I then managed to ask my aunt for her recipe and since she is an old hand at making these goodies for over 25 years I knew that I could trust her recipe a 100%. 


I have mentioned in my previous posts that I have been blessed to be related to many good cooks. My mum's cousin Aunty Rosette Pinto is one among them. Not just a good cook she is a great person too. Kind hearted, soft spoken and generous. She is one person who knows that the way to anybody's heart is through the stomach and has always entertained her guests with scrumptious food. I have had the good fortune of eating at her place a few times and being fed some homely and delicious Mangalorean food. 

When I approached her recently for the recipes of some popular Christmas sweets made in Bombay she was more than willing to help. She sent me the pictures of her handwritten recipes on Whatsapp and then despite her busy schedule she answered every silly doubt patiently. Since I had no idea how these rolls looked and had no recollection of how they tasted I went back and forth with my doubts and her guidance was extremely helpful. Aunty Rosette's tried and tested recipe turned out to be a fool proof one that resulted in the most delicious date rolls! Not only was the process simpler than I had anticipated but the final result pretty and yummy!

These rolls have a lovely, crumbly shortcrust pastry covering with a delicately sweet date and walnut filling inside. You just can't have one!


By the way, these date rolls with a pastry covering is just one of their kind. If you Google a bit you will come across different ways to make date rolls. Some have desiccated coconut added to them. However this is the way they are made in most Goan, East Indian and Mangalorean households in Bombay. A big note of gratitude to my sister in law's cousin Amelia Mascarenhas who was chatting with me on FB the day I made these. She helped me narrow down on what I was actually looking to make and also helped me look for pictures online that matched the exact kind of date rolls made in Bombay. 

Making Bombay style 'kuswar' (Christmas goodies) is going to be a breeze henceforth. I have two lovely ladies to help me! :)

Thank you Aunty Rosette and Amelia!!


Date Rolls ~ Bombay Style Christmas Sweet
Prep time: 40 - 45 mins | Bake time: 15 mins | Yield 34-36 date rolls

Ingredients:

For the filling:
  • 250 grams dates, pitted (after measuring) and finely chopped/minced * see notes
  • 50 grams (1/2 cup) walnuts finely chopped/minced
For the dough/covering:
  • 2 cups (230 grams) all purpose flour (maida)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon powdered sugar (caster sugar)
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) butter or ghee softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • approx 3/4th cup (180ml) cold/chilled water to knead the dough
For the egg wash (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk lightly beaten
  • 1-2 teaspoons water
Method:

To make the filling:
1. Mix the minced dates and walnuts in a bowl and knead into a ball
2. On a clean surface roll out the ball into a long sausage
3. Pinch out marble size balls out of the sausage and shape them into tiny oblong shapes (pellets) - the size of kulkuls
4. Continue until all the mixture has been used up.

To make the dough/covering:
1. In a bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Rub butter into it until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
2. Add the sugar and sprinkle the chilled water a little at a time to knead the mixture into a smooth dough without any cracks on the surface. You may not require the full amount of water mentioned.
3. Roll out the dough on a clean working surface into a large square or rectangular shape. Cut out squares approx 1-1/2 or 2" each and keep it ready.

To assemble & bake
1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees C for 15 mins. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment
2. Place a square of dough on the working surface, place the filling inside, roll up the covering around it and gently seal the open edges using some pressure. If you need to slightly overlap the covering it is ok as it will prevent the dough from opening up during the baking process.
3. Place all the rolls slightly spaced apart on the prepared baking tray and brush them with the egg wash for a golden glaze.
4. Bake for 15-16 minutes until golden on top. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before transferring into an airtight container (if not cooled completely they will turn soft and soggy)

Notes:
1. If you are using pitted dates (seedless) then you can reduce the quantity from 250 grams to around 210-220 grams. Try to use soft & mushy kind of dates - Medjool if you can afford them are the best or even Omani dates work well. Basically we need to use dates that can blend easily with the nuts to form a dough.
2. If you are making the dough ahead of time you can do so, just refrigerate it or freeze it in an airtight container but when you intend to use it/roll it out make sure it has been brought back to room temperature - do not use shortcuts and microwave the dough as the butter will melt and the dough will lose its texture and become hard to work with




Another wine recipe that I am adding to my repertoire is this beautiful and delicious beetroot wine that I made sometime ago and completely missed to post! Today I realised that it was the 10th of December already and I had not yet posted this recipe! As this wine needs a minimum of 2 weeks to ferment I think it is perfect to be made just in time for Christmas - if not to be drunk on Christmas day you can definitely enjoy it during the season as the festivities continue upto the New Year. If you are patient enough you can keep it for longer and enjoy it on New Years day and some more for Valentine's Day! Its colour is perfect for this season, what say? 
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Christmas is all about giving and sharing and this festive season brings with it great memories of food. While my childhood revolved around traditional Mangalorean goodies called the Kuswar my adulthood had a mixture of goodies from everywhere, especially after I got married and reached Bombay. I have eaten several types of goodies and I am really excited to recreate them this Christmas. While that is still happening in the background everyday with a many hits and a few flops there is this amazing recipe I decided to share with you today. Actually my fingers have been itching to post this recipe for quite sometime now. It is a delectable Middle Eastern cake that is made with semolina instead of all purpose flour (maida) and one that is drenched in sugar syrup. Hang in there! Don't let the mention of sugar syrup put you off! I personally don't like things that are ultra sweet and as we figuratively say "drenched in sugar". This is a beautiful and genius of a dessert cake that I got to know about after coming to Dubai 
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One of the tastiest preparations in Mangalore is the Indad style of preparing chicken or pork the latter being the most popular version. Before I started blogging I thought that vindaloo and indad were the same however, vindaloo is more of a Goan preparation and the indad is our very own Mangalorean way of making this amazing curry with a thick onion base complimented with a fine balance of spice, tang and sweetness. If you have tried my pork indad recipe you will know that it is a great dish to be served on a special day. It tastes wonderful with any kind of rice bread especially with sanna (yeasted rice batter steamed cakes) or polay (yeasted rice batter pancakes)
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The best season of the year is here! The month of December has always been my favourite and is more so this time as a lot of my relatives are visiting Dubai and we are having plenty of get togethers and stuff which is an enjoyable experience for all of us. This year I wanted to kick start my Christmas goodies series pretty early but eventually couldn't manage to start posting them on time. I thought of starting off last week but decided to wait for Advent which was on Nov 30th. Advent is essentially a season of preparation and is a date designated four Sundays before Christmas. Before you proceed I invite you to read my introductory post on Christmas and its real meaning. A post which I had written in 2011 but essential to be read before every Christmas lest we allow the commercialisation of this festive season to overwhelm us or even blind us into thinking it is the birthday of Santa! (yep, pretty much the kind of comments I keep reading on Facebook and such)

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Last week one of my uncles was here from Nairobi to attend the wedding in the family. As he was staying with us Roshan and I decided to prepare some traditional Mangalorean dishes as it is not very often that he gets to eat it where he lives. We decided to bring out our prized packet of 'rotti' (crispy thin rice crepes/ wafers) and serve it with kori ghassi (chicken curry) and some vegetable dish on the side. We had never prepared this combo of two veggies, both of which are our favourite and off it went on the menu. 

Kadle manoli stands for garbanzo beans & ivy gourd cooked together in a dry dish garnished with lots of coconut and aromatic spices. The dry roasting of the grated coconut is key for that aroma and deliciousness which is inherent to Mangalorean dishes. This is what a sukka is all about. Coconut is not just used as a garnish but is actually roasted for a long time until it releases a bit of its oil and also this technique helps change the colour of the coconut to a pale golden brown.
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It's time for another bread this month. After the lovely pizza that I baked a couple of times last month and posted this month it is now time for me to go ahead and explore my love for baking breads. I have joined this lovely baking project called 'We Knead to Bake' where we get to learn a new bread and insights revolving its history every month. I felt that it was a great way to learn to make different kinds of bread especially as I was hesitant to start on my own. For this month's project (We Knead to Bake#22) Aparna Balasubramanian chose a simple and beautiful bread for all of us to try - Sheermal. This lovely bread with subtle flavours apparently has its origins in Persia but is found in various countries of the Asian sub-continent. Sheermal looks like Naan but is slightly more fluffy, mildly sweet and very aromatic.
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