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Lemon Mascarpone Blondies
One of the best perks of staying in Dubai is the massive array of baking ingredients that are available in most supermarkets here. Something I missed seeing in Mumbai. Yes, Crawford market in Mumbai does provide you with almost everything you need in your baking pantry but not only are most of the ingredients very pricey (since they are imported) there's also the inconvenience of going all the way to to town to purchase them. Ok, i'll kill the suspense and let you know what I am talking about. Cream cheese, mascarpone (pronounced as 'maaska-ponay'), chocolate chips, molasses, treacle - a few prized possessions that didn't come by too easily when I was in Mumbai are easily available here. So I am making the most of this opportunity and trying out as many recipes as possible that call for such ingredients. Well, yes, at my own peril. In these past few months I must have consumed a million calories thanks to these heavy duty dairy products, but I couldn't care less (well, not until I stood on the weighing scale, gulp!)
On one of my baking escapades I ended up with a lot more mascarpone cheese than the recipe asked for. Talk about not planning my groceries properly. Anyway, its a habitual thing for me - to pick up stuff on a whim, promising myself that I will turn it into something nice, getting back home with a load of groceries, putting them away and completely forgetting about them (that reminds me, I have a load of cream cheese sitting in the deli drawer of my fridge, Omigosh!). After browsing the net for a suitable recipe I came across this delicious recipe on
that made use of the mascarpone and lemons that were idly sitting in my fridge. By lemons I am talking about the large yellow ones which are not commonly available in India. In India we get lndian limes and lemons which are really small and maybe 2-3 of them may fit into one's palm easily. The ones available here are quite large and are perfect for desserts and cakes, the zest of which can marvelously uplift even a boring sponge cake.
Anyway, the most important story of the day is that I had a near death experience when I made these blondies. I chose to write about it just so that it serves to be a reminder to everyday cooks to be a bit more cautious in the kitchen. While I went about preheating the oven that day, I didn't realise that the gas burner for the oven (below the crumb tray) had gone off. My niece who was always alert brought it to my notice and I immediately went to open the kitchen door. Despite having exercised immediate caution, I don't know what compelled me to go right ahead, open the oven door and light the burner again. The next thing I knew was...Boom!!! I was thrown to the ground with a row of burnt hair, heart pounding like crazy and a scream that escaped my lips. This was the effect of that little gas that was trapped inside the oven that caught fire from the ignition of the gas lighter. Such a scary experience for me and the kids in the house who had been just chased out of the kitchen before my great adventure. After everyone had calmed down & I had gained my composure I made a vow that it was the last time that I was ever baking in a gas oven. Although the ceramic (smooth top/glass top) hob in my new house is painfully slow, it gives me a sense of safety every time I turn the power knob. I urge all my readers to exercise precaution before using gas ovens or any other kitchen appliance for that matter. It's never a good idea to be over smart or careless in the kitchen (or life in general).
Life is precious, so please stay safe!
Ahem! Back to the recipe now!
Blondies are just like brownies in terms of the texture. They are slightly fudgy, dense and in some cases may be chewy too. The only difference between brownies & blondies are that no cocoa or chocolate is used in the preparation of blondies. However some blondie recipes may call for chocolate chips. Cocoa or chocolate is replaced with brown sugar that gives blondies their taste and colour. They are baked in square/rectangular tins and cut into shapes before serving.
These blondies are simply melt-in-the-mouth. So decadent, so delicious and yes, rich too! But no matter how much you try to resist you won't be able to stop at one! The mascarpone cheese gives the moistness and flavour to these blondies making them so irresistible and any festive occasion definitely calls for these!
Lemon Mascarpone Blondies
Prep time: 20 mins | Bake time: 30 mins | Yield 9 blondies of 3x3" each
1 cup (115grams) all purpose flour (maida), sifted
1 egg lightly beaten
1 cup (200gms) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (100gms) butter, melted
8 ounces (225gms) mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2-1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square tin and dust with flour. You could even line it with baking parchment.
2. Mix the melted butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the egg & vanilla extra and whisk well.
3. Add the lemon juice, zest & mascarpone cheese and mix until incorporated. Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt in parts & mix well.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin & spread the surface with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
5. Remove the tin cool it on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Then carefully invert onto the rack.
6. When completely cool cut into equal sized squares and serve.
Muffizzas (Muffin Shaped Thin Crust Pizzas Made from Chapathi Dough!)
Come Christmas or any festive season everybody is focused on making sweets - traditional or contemporary. Many a times we miss out on the preparation of savouries - especially the mini eats or snacks. I always break into a sweat when I host parties especially those for little kids who need to munch on something delicious and nutritious. I think these mini pizzas are the answer to some healthy home made snacks. They will serve well at parties for adults too as they are individual sized, made with whole wheat bases filled with delicious goodness of whatever you may fancy.
Since this was our first attempt at making them at home we kept the topping/filling very simple and hence as is evident in the pictures our muffizzas were oozing with cheese. Its a great snack for kids who love cheese and you can add as many veggies as you like - ofcourse those that cook within 12-15 mins is ideal, so i suggest veggies such as corn, potatoes, spinach or mushrooms as possible options. You could even use pre cooked & shredded chicken, bacon bits or simple chicken sausages.
If you don't have a muffin pan, you could use oven safe ramekins (ceramic or metal), I suggest you use the shallow variety unless you have lots of topping to fill up the muffins up to the brim.
So these lovely, delicious & fun muffizzas are on our Christmas party menu this year. What about yours?
Muffizzas (Muffin Shaped Thin Crust Pizzas From Chapathi Dough)
Prep time: 20mins I Bake time: 12-15mins I Makes 12
For the dough:
1-1/2 cups wheat flour
3/4 tsp instant yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4th cup warm water
For the topping:
tomato ketchup (approx 1 tbsp per pizza)
150 gm cheddar cheese, grated
150gm mozarella cheese, grated
1/2 white onion cubed
green bell pepper cubed (capsicum) ( approx 2 tsp per pizza)
black olives (pitted & sliced) to decorate
50-75 grams pepperoni (or sausages or bacon bits if you prefer)
oregano or mixed herbs (to sprinkle)
paprika or chilli flakes (to sprinkle)
fresh basil leaves, torn (optional)
1. In a large flat bowl mix the ingredients for the dough - flour, yeast and salt and add water in parts and knead into a smooth dough. Brush a medium sized bowl (big enough to accommodate the dough when it has doubled) with olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover with cling film/cling wrap and keep in a warm place until the dough doubles in size. In good weather this would take 40-50 mins.
2. When the dough has doubled preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan with Pam spray or butter/olive oil and keep aside.
3. Divide the dough in 12 lemon sized balls and roll out pooris big enough to line the inside of each muffin cup.
4. Once all the muffin cups have been lined with the poori start the process of filling them up. Add cubed onions, bell pepper cubes, cheddar & mozarella cheese, tomato ketchup, olives, basil in layers.
5. Pop the muffin pan in the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 mins or till the base turns golden brown. The skewer test may not work here as the filling is full of cheese, so the skewer won't really come out clean. You could try checking if the onions have turned translucent - this is a good indicator that the pizzas are done.
Use as many toppings as you prefer - veggies such as corn, potatoes (cubed), mushrooms, spinach make good toppings - suggest you lightly saute them before filling just to ensure even cooking. You could also add meats such as pre cooked & shredded chicken, ham or bacon bits, sausages or luncheon meats.
Baking time may vary depending on the thickness of the base you have rolled out and ofcourse the type of oven
Traditional Chocolate Cake ~ Very Rich & Chocolatey!
My first attempt at making two cakes in one go and then sandwiching them together! All thanks to my new oven which is huge and can easily accommodate two cake tins side by side - a privilege I missed when I was in Mumbai. I made this cake for Baby Z's 1st Birthday, for the little celebration we had at home. I found the recipe in a lovely cookbook gifted to me by my brother just a few days before the birthday and I spent days on end flipping through its pages going crazy over which recipe I should try first.
Eventually I tried this cake which is so decadent and chocolately that you'll want to wallop it down in one go, but uh-oh! unless you are a die hard chocolate lover you will find it extremely rich and may want to skip dinner if you've had a large slice. This cake is meant for celebrations, it is meant to be shared with a good number of people who are not calorie conscious. It is meant to be generously served to children at birthday parties or to your guests for your Christmas party.
A perfect chocolate cake that is very moist and divine when eaten warm. I couldn't help layer it when it was still warm out of the oven. This resulted in the ganache dripping a little from all sides - a bit like thick sludge but who cared? The kids couldn't wait to have it cut, so we rushed through the cake cutting ceremony just to dive into it. Half of it was gone in a few minutes so I didn't get to click any pictures of the whole cake perched on a stand, sitting pretty and glamorous for a photo shoot. Maybe next time I'll do the honours, but for now, I hope these pictures give you a fair idea of how yummy this cake will look on your dinner table this Christmas!
Traditional Chocolate Cake
Adapted from: The Complete Creative Cookbook
Prep time: 15 mins | Bake time: 35 mins | Serves 10
115 grams (4 oz) plain chocolate (I used dark chocolate) *see notes
275ml (9 oz) milk
200 grams (7 oz) light brown sugar
1 egg yolk
260 grams (9 oz) plain flour (maida)
1 teaspoon soda bi carb (baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
140 grams (5 oz) butter at room temperature
260 (9 oz) grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the icing:
225 grams (8 oz) plain chocolate * see notes
175 ml sour cream*see notes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F. Grease and line two 8 or 9 inch round cake tins with baking parchment and keep aside. Sift the flour, baking soda & salt a couple of times and keep aside.
2. Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (or a double boiler) and melt the chocolate along with one third of the milk, brown sugar and egg yolk * see note. Stir continuously until its smooth, thick & lump free. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. In a large bowl beat the butter and caster sugar till it is light & fluffy. Add one egg at a time beating between each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
4. Add the flour in three parts into the butter mixture, alternating between flour and milk, beginning & ending with flour. Pour in the chocolate mixture and gently whisk till everything is just combined.
5. Divide the batter into both the cake tins equally and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the skewer inserted comes out clean. Once done, remove the tins from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
6. Unmould the cakes from the tins and let them cool completely.
7. To prepare the icing, place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and melt the chocolate. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. Stir in the salt & soured cream.
8. Place one cake on a serving plate/cake stand and spread one-third of the icing over it. Stack the second cake over it and spread the remaining icing all over the top and sides of the cake swirling to make a decorative finish.
1. For the cake you may use good quality cooking chocolate or simply, your favourite bar of chocolate. I liked my cake to be dark & rich so I used dark (bitter sweet) chocolate for the cake and for the icing as well. However, it is recommended to use dark chocolate for the cake and plain milk chocolate for the icing or else it will taste a tad bitter through & through. If you are using dark chocolate for the icing as well, do a taste check when the icing is ready and add about 1/3rd to 2/3rd cups of icing sugar or adjust it to taste. The sour cream in the icing will balance out any extra sweetness that your regular milk chocolate may provide.
2. Since I didn't find any sour cream at the store I used creme fraiche instead for the icing. Creme fraiche is thicker and less tart than sour cream and I felt it was the perfect substitute.
3. Note for step#2: Add all the ingredients together in the double boiler. If you add the egg yolk when the chocolate mixture is boiling chances are that it will turn into a lumpy omelette!
Christmas Recipes ~ New Picture Index!
(Click to view the Picture Index)
The best season of the year is finally here! I am completely in love with the Christmas season and the accompanying weather. It is not the first time that I am in Dubai for Christmas, but it definitely is our first Christmas in our own home here. Everybody I know has been asking how I will celebrate Christmas this year and what are the special things that I will be doing. Well, I have a few recipes that are still getting tested in my kitchen and hopefully those will make it to the blog soon - starting 1st December. Our Christmas tree will be up in the next couple of days and I can't wait to compile a list of my favourite Christmas carols & songs to bring in the cheer.
While some delicious aromas have been wafting through my kitchen door I simply couldn't resist compiling a brand new picture recipe index with all my favourite Christmas recipes! If you haven't yet noticed the tab right on top that says
Christmas Recipes - Picture Index
, then please click on this collage I have created. It will take you to the new index that will help you decide your menu for this Christmas.
As the days roll by I will be updating this index with new & old recipes alike - those that are popularly voted by my readers to be included in the list. I would love to have your feedback and also know how this index has helped you (if it has). If you have any tips or suggestions or just want to say hello, please mail me on
I'd love to hear from you!
Poori Saagu ~ Karnataka Style Mixed Vegetable Curry with Wholewheat Flat Bread
Now that we have settled down in our own home I have started trying out dishes, the recipes of which have been bookmarked ages ago. Last year when I had a temporary help hired during my delivery I had the opportunity to taste some Karnataka style food which I thoroughly enjoyed. Poori Saagu was one such dish which was prepared many times for breakfast. Although all of us at home enjoy eating piping hot pooris with any accompaniment I don't make them often due to the fact that it is not the healthiest because of the deep frying that is involved. I limit deep fried food to once in 2-3 months and when I do make it, we indulge. To make it healthier I prepare pooris with whole wheat flour (which is like the norm these days) to all purpose flour/maida.
When I was introduced to Saagu I instantly fell in love with it. The mixed vegetables with a special addition of the chayote made it all the more delicious although chayote by itself is a bit bland and doesn't have a very distinct flavour. To top it, my favourite herb, coriander leaves are added to the ground masala, so not only does it lend a lovely pista colour to the dish but the flavour is unmatchable
When I saw the chayote on one of my trips to the supermarket here I was more than thrilled. In Mumbai it used to be available only with a certain vendor selling slightly exotic vegetables (or so we thought!) and it wasn't available always.
You can prepare this dish without chayote as well. Just add whatever vegetables that are handy. French beans, peas, potatoes & carrots are more than enough.
Poori Saagu (
Karnataka Style Mixed Vegetable Curry with Wholewheat Flat Bread)
Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 15 mins | Serves 4
For the Saagu:
1 medium sized (300gm) chayote (chow chow/seeme badanekai/christophine) (approx 2 cups of cubes)
1 medium sized carrot cubed (approx 3/4 cup)
1 medium sized potato, cubed (approx 1 cup)
7-8 french beans cut julienne (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup frozen green peas
A marble size ball of tamarind soaked and thick juice extracted
Salt to taste
For the masala (to be ground):
3/4 cup grated coconut
2-3 small green chillies (adjust to taste)
3-4 peppercorns (adjust to taste)
1 loosely packed cup coriander leaves
1/2 inch ginger
1 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 sprig curry leaves ( about 7-8 leaves)
1/2 teaspoon mustard
A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1-2 teaspoons oil
For the Pooris:
2 cups whole wheat flour
water to knead (approx 1 cup)
salt to taste
oil for deep frying
To make the Saagu
1. Place all the cubed vegetables in a heavy based pan, add enough water to cover it, add salt and tamarind juice and cook the vegetables till they are tender (don't over cook)
2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned under '
For the masala
' to a fine paste and add this to the cooked vegetables and simmer without covering the pan - do not let the mixture boil as the coconut may curdle. Do a quick taste check & add salt & tamarind if necessary (simmer for another couple of minutes if changes are made) otherwise r
emove from heat.
4. To temper, heat oil in a small pan and toss in the mustard, when they stop spluttering add the curry leaves and asafoetida and stir for 3-4 seconds, pour into the prepared curry and cover the pan immediately to retain the aroma of the seasoning
5. Serve hot with pooris, chapathis or rice
To make the Pooris:
1. In a flat dish used to knead dough, mix the wheat flour and salt to taste and add enough water to knead it into a soft pliable dough. Cover and keep aside for 15-20 mins.
2. After 20 mins, pinch out lime sized balls of the dough, flatten and roll them into pooris of 2 -3" diameter. While you are rolling out the pooris heat the oil for deep frying in a heavy bottomed kadhai/wok.
3. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, slip in one poori at a time and gently hold it down with a slotted ladle, if there were no cracks in the dough at the kneading & rolling stage, the pooris will puff up to their full size. Flip them until fried till golden brown on both sides.
4. Use the slotted spoon to drain off excess oil & remove onto a plate lined with kitchen tissues.
5. Serve hot with the Saagu or any accompaniment of your choice.
Liked this recipe? Do check out the other Poori combo recipes!
Pumpkin Pasta - Homemade Baby Food (For Babies Aged 9 months & Above)
A couple of weeks ago our little baby girl turned One! Yes, time really flies and she is 1 already. We ushered in her first birthday with a little celebration with close family & friends and what a fun day it was! She was lucky to cut two birthday cakes on two different days and shortly I will post the recipe of one of the cakes - the other one was prepared by my aunt.
For now, in Baby Z's honour I will start posting a few recipes for homemade baby food that I have collected since the past few months but never got time to post. These recipes are suitable for babies that are 6 months & above, but the posting will be done in no particular order. I think these recipes will benefit many moms to plan meal menus for their babies. However,
that these are my own experiments at creating something nutritious, fun & delicious for my baby. These are recipe ideas that have worked for me so please use them only as a reference. The nutritional needs of babies vary and the right advice can only be given by the baby's doctor, so kindly use your discretion and medical advice before trying out any of these recipes.
I was debating on whether I should post the recipe of the cake first or the food, but then I realised that I have been hesitant to introduce sweets in my baby's diet anyway, so logically it would be apt to post the recipe of baby food that she seems to love so much. She does not have much of a sweet tooth & prefers anything savoury, so meal times are her favourite. Since my baby never liked foods from jars (or even stuff like cerelac etc) I have had to come up with ideas to prepare food that appeals to her tiny taste buds and something that is easy for me to cook in a jiffy. I keep the addition of salt to a bare minimum, often sprinkling it over the food right before I serve it to her. I never give her foods with added sugar unless it is store bought baby snacks like finger biscuits and stuff.
So here's wishing my little doll a healthy, cheerful & tantrum free toddler hood!
Happy Birthday my lil' Pumpkin!
Pumpkin Pasta -
Homemade Baby Food
(For Babies Aged 9 months+)
Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 15 mins | Servings 1-2 | Ideal for babies aged 8 months & above
1/4 cup pasta (use smallest shape available) * see notes
3-4 tablespoons grated pumpkin
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 clove of garlic finely chopped or grated
1/4 teaspoon dried mixed herbs (or any fresh or dried herb of your choice)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese * see notes
1 tablespoon finely chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon finely chopped coriander leaves or parsley
Salt and pepper to taste (optional) * see notes
1. In a saucepan bring 2 cups of potable/drinking water to boil. Add the pasta and cook on a medium heat till it is very tender. There is no need to strain the water, the pasta will continue to cook & swell in it.
2. Place a wide based saucepan on a medium heat and melt the butter, toss in the garlic and fry it for half a minute and then add the onions and fry till they turn pale.
3. Add in the pumpkin, dried (or fresh) herbs, tomatoes and fry till the tomatoes turn slightly mushy,
4. Add the grated cheese and mix well. You can add salt and pepper at this stage. Simmer for half a minute and then add the precooked pasta and stir well.
5. To serve babies under 1 year, allow the pasta to cool before pulsing it a couple of times in a grinder. Older babies may be served the pasta without grinding as it has been cooked very tender.
1. Although you may use any pasta shape it is recommended to use the smallest shapes as they cook faster and is easier to mash. I generally use the alphabet or the flower shaped pasta
2. Use cheddar cheese that is not very high in salt. You can use as much cheese as you think your baby will enjoy. Alternatively you can even use cream cheese made from pasturized milk.
3. Salt & pepper to be used according to the age of your baby. I started introducing mild amounts of spice in my baby's food when she turned 11 months. Please consult your child's doctor before including salt & spice in your baby's food.
Mutton Chops Curry - When the hubby cooks!
My love affair with mutton started after I had moved to Mumbai. We used to get the best quality meat there. Well, to get the facts right, what we popularly get in most parts of India is goat meat and not lamb. ('bokdi' & 'bokro' will probably put the whole confusion to rest). Personally Roshan & I prefer goat meat to lamb as the latter has a stronger aftertaste of grass fed meat. Goat meat on the other hand has more rustic flavours and an aroma that makes you want to dive into the pot of simmering curry and wallop it down.
During my growing up years, mutton was rarely prepared in my house. Maybe during Easter or Eid when we got fairly decent meat from the butcher. Other times it was just a pile of bones with barely any meat on it and so we kind of favoured pork or beef for feasts or special occasions.
The best mutton preparation in my opinion would be by someone who actually prefers beef or pork over mutton. Roshan ofcourse, the star of today's post. He makes the most amazing mutton curries, especially chops. Most times they are experiments which he somehow forgets to note down during the first attempt & later tries to improvise over several attempts, not completely doing justice to his original attempt.
This particular curry has been tried several times over and each time it tastes better than the previous attempt. It is simply a beautiful curry that goes so well with chapathis or plain steamed rice. If you are not such a big fan of chops you may try it with regular cuts of meat, do ask the butcher to throw some bones in because I am not sure it would taste just as ravishing with boneless meat. Now that the festive season is upon us, I hope you give this a try and enjoy it too!
Prep time: 15mins | Cook time: 30 mins | Serves 4
750 grams mutton chops (or you may use regular mutton on the bone)
2 medium sized onions finely chopped
2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
1 tablespoon plain red chili powder (adjust to taste) (I used Kashmiri chilli powder)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 medium sized tomato chopped
2 tablespoons oil
salt to taste
For the masala (to be ground):
1 cup coriander leaves/cilantro
1/2 cup mint leaves
2-3 sprigs curry leaves
3 green chilies deseeded (medium spicy variety)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
2 tablespoons grated coconut
1. Boil the mutton chops with salt to taste till the meat is tender (you may pressure cook the chops)
2. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and fry the onions till they are golden brown, add ginger garlic paste and fry for half a minute and then add the boiled mutton chops and mix it well. Add red chili powder and turmeric powder and cook for about a minute
3. Add the ground masala, fry for a couple of minutes and then add water as required to make a thick or thin paste depending on what type of gravy is needed. Check salt if required and cook on a slow fire covering the lid for about 5 minutes, stir occasionally to ensure that the masala is not burnt.
4. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves & remove from heat.
5. Serve hot with rice or chapathis
Simple & Easy Rava Mutli (Mildly Sweet & Savoury Rice Dumplings)
Breakfast - the most important meal of the day is also my favourite part of day. I fancy good breakfasts and I guess if my day has started off early I don't mind slaving over dishing out a good hearty breakfast. South Indian breakfasts always score above the rest in my house, but then they are also tedious to make from scratch. Long hours of soaking, grinding, fermenting, frying/steaming are part of almost every kind of breakfast item that gets devoured in minutes. So yes, sometimes it is pretty discouraging to even dive into this process.
During such times the rava dumplings come to my rescue. Ready made rice rava (not wheat rava/sooji) is available in most stores and you can make these dumplings in a jiffy. Trust me, this is one of the easiest and healthiest breakfasts I can think of. Steamed foods are any day better than their fried/deep fried counterparts and this mildly sweet & savoury version goes well with a savoury accompaniments like chutneys or sambhar but also with honey or ghee & sugar (a combo that is pretty famous in Mangalore).
The best part about these dumplings are that they can be refrigerated for a couple of days and just steamed once again before serving - this instantly freshens and softens them up making them look & taste brand new! So yes, you can make a batch and serve them for a couple of days if you are lazy like me :) But don't be too lazy and microwave them as they will harden and you will ruin the texture (hard to swallow types)
Prep time: 10 mins | Steaming time: 15-18 mins | Yield: 12-14 lime sized mutli
1 cup fine rice rava (cream of rice)
1/2 cup grated coconut
2-1/8 cups water (or a little over 2 cups)
1 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)
1-1/2 level tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1. Prepare the steamer: place sufficient water in a idli/dhokla steamer and bring the water to a boil. Keep it ready
2. In a heavy based (or non stick) saucepan bring 2-1/4 cups of water to a boil. Add the salt & sugar to taste, stir to mix and then gently add the rice rava and stir the mixture continuously with a long ladle (or wooden spoon *see notes) to avoid lumps from forming. Reduce the heat to a medium. Add in the grated coconut and continue to mix well.
3. The mixture will appear to be too smooth and paste like but don't worry, it will thicken as the rava & coconut cook and also after steaming. When the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan, remove it from the heat and transfer onto a plate. Allow to cool for half a minute.
4. Dabbing your fingers in a bowl of water at room temperature quickly pinch out lime sized portions of the rava coconut mixture and roll them into balls. With your thumb, form an impression in the centre of each dumpling making it look like a dimple.
4. Line a steel plate (that fits comfortably inside the idli steamer) with muslin cloth and place the dumplings on it. Cover them with a portion of the cloth and place the plate inside the steamer. Cover & steam for 15-18 mins. To check doneness, poke a knife through a dumpling, if it comes out clean (or with crumbs) it is done. If it is sticky and paste like, continue to steam for another 5-6 mins.
5. When done, remove carefully so that the steam within the idli steamer doesn't make the dumplings soggy. Serve hot with chutney, sambhar, ghee & sugar or honey.
Use a long-ish spoon to stir the mixture as the heat from the steam may burn your hands. Wooden spoons are best as a steel one will get heated up quickly.
Baked Portobello Mushrooms - When the Hubby Cooks!
Above pic: The egg looks raw, but don't be fooled! It is completely and firmly baked requiring a knife and fork to cut through!
In the midst of a busy week the husband promised to surprise me with something delicious. I had seen some portobello mushrooms lying in the fridge and I guessed that it would be something to do with baking them as he had tried sometime ago in Mumbai. However, I was totally bowled over by the presentation of this amazingly delicious dish. The egg in the centre looked so wonderful and timeless because it remained just the same before and after baking.
We had eaten some amazing portobello mushrooms last year at an Italian restaurant in Mumbai which soon became our favourite haunt. On a boring Sunday afternoon we would head there for some risotto or pasta. We would head there to meet friends or to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries and we enjoyed it everytime.
Since the time we ate those mini baked mushrooms in some amazing sauce Roshan has been thinking of trying them at home with bigger mushrooms preferably portobello which have this wonderful woody taste that goes so well with grated cheese. He adapted this recipe from several sources on the internet and what we ate was simply delicious
These mushrooms are so big that they serve as individual portions that you can have for breakfast, lunch or brunch (breakfast+lunch = mid morning snack on a lazy weekend). You may skip the egg for a vegetarian version and add some other filling of your choice.
So here's a brunch recipe for you, totally nutritious, filling & delicious. The cheese is not low in calories but the mushrooms are, so I guess it makes for a balanced meal, unless of course you have health issues, in which case, forget making them - the many pictures on this post should satisfy you :D haha!
Above pic: The egg looks raw, but don't be fooled! It is completely and firmly baked requiring a knife and fork to cut through!
Baked Portobello Mushrooms
Prep time: 20mins | Bake time: 15mins | Serves 6
6 large Portobello Mushrooms
2 tablespoons minced chicken (pre-boiled) *see note for substitutes
3 tablespoons chopped spinach
2 tablespoons carrots finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
grated cheddar & mozzarella cheese - as much as you wish to add
freshly crushed peppercorns
barbeque spice mix if required or any mixed herbs - add to taste
1 teaspoon of lime juice
fresh coriander or parsley - to garnish
salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Line a baking sheet/tray with baking parchment (optional) or simply grease it with butter or Pam baking spray.
2. Make a mixture of the boiled chicken mince, spinach, carrots, garlic, peppercorns, barbeque spice mix or mixed herbs, lime juice, salt to taste.
3. Remove the stems & clean the mushrooms. Finely chop the stems and add it to the mixture.
4. Fill each mushroom with the prepared mixture, carefully break an egg in the center, taking care to see that the yolk doesn't break. Cover generously with grated cheese and sprinkle mixed herbs or garnish with fresh coriander or parsley or olives & carrot cubes on a toothpick (as seen in the picture).
5. Place the mushrooms on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. You may change the oven setting to 'grill'/'broil' mode for the last 2-3 minutes just to get the mushrooms beautifully browned on top.
Instead of minced chicken you may use fried bacon bits, finely chopped sausages or crumbled paneer
Ash-e-Mast (Yogurt Soup with Meatballs - Persian Style)
The best two months of the year in my opinion are November & December and we are already there! Best because of the holiday season that is just around the corner. Having grown up in India, winter was not really much of a winter but greatly welcomed. Walking to school in a somewhat chilly weather as Mangalore's standards was such a joy for me at least. I experienced better winters in Bangalore when I was working there 10 years ago and although I didn't enjoy it so much as I hate cold weather. Riding the two wheeler was such a pain because I had to be completely packed in cold weather apparel, have my ears covered & what not. Anyway, this is nothing compared to what some of you face in those parts of the world that receive extreme weather including snow storms & the works. So let me quit complaining.
This time around I am here in Dubai and actually enjoying the cool weather that has slowly started descending on this city in the desert. There is a mild nip in the air which has already gotten me in the mood of Christmas - my most favourite season of all time. Chilly winters is a great reason to enjoy some hot soups and beverages and so to kick start this season I have this recipe of a wonderful Persian style yogurt soup from Azerbaijan, the north-western region of Iran. My dear friend Lakshmi introduced me to this soup after she enjoyed some at an Iranian restaurant in Chennai. She said it was made of oats, yogurt, mint & dill and suggested that I prepare it after I delivered my baby last year. Since she didn't know the name of the soup I took Google's help and found the exact name & the recipe shared in a wonderful blog on Persian cuisine,
Turmeric & Saffron
. I have prepared it twice already, with chicken & beef mince and I guess the beef version is a clear winner.
'Ash' means soup and 'mast' stands for yogurt (curds). This is such a hearty and delicious soup made of rice, chickpeas, meatballs and a whole load of greens that it is a perfect way to enjoy a cold winter evening!
Ash-e-Mast (Yogurt Soup with Meatballs - Persian Style)
Prep time: | Cook time: | Serves 4-6
1/2 cup rice, washed (I used basmati)
1/2 cup chickpeas (kabuli chana) soaked overnight
1/2 cup dill finely chopped
1/2 cup coriander leaves finely chopped
1/3 cup mint finely chopped
1/3 cup parsley finely chopped
1 egg yolk
1 cup yogurt (curds) at room temperature
2 tablespoons plain flour (maida)
salt & pepper to taste
For the meatballs:
200 grams beef mince/keema (you may use mutton)
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons butter or oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
salt & pepper to taste
1 large onion finely sliced
4-5 garlic cloves chopped
3 tablespoons mint chopped
1. Unless the beef mince is homemade, wash it once and drain on a very fine slotted colander or a sieve lined with muslin cloth. Once it is completely drained of water place it in a bowl, add the onion, salt & pepper, mix thoroughly and shape into tiny balls.
2. In a large pot bring 6-8 cups of water to a boil, reduce the heat and cook the chickpeas till tender. Alternatively you can pressure cook the chickpeas in 3 cups of water and then transfer them into a large pot and add an extra 5 cups of water to cook the rice.
3. Add the rice and cook for another 12-15 minutes or till tender. Top up with more water if necessary. When the rice is cooked add the meatballs, salt & pepper to taste. Add in the greens - dill, coriander, mint & parsley and simmer for another 20 minutes.
4. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of yogurt and 1-2 tablespoons of flour. Add this mixture to the rest of the yogurt and mix well and then pour it into the simmering soup. Continue to cook on a very low heat for about 30-35 minutes. Adjust the seasoning (salt & pepper) if required. Remove from heat.
5. To prepare the garnish, heat oil in a small pan and saute the onion till golden brown, reduce the heat to very low and toss in the garlic and mint and saute for another 2 minutes, take care to see that the garlic doesn't burn.
6. Transfer the soup into a serving dish and garnish with the fried onion mixture.
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