Do you like chilly chocolate?

Yesss! I do! And I tried baking a Chilly Chocolate Cake, ofcourse it was eggless, but this time it was even butterless!

Cake mix

Wheat flour – 2cups

Plain flour – 1 cup

Sugar – 2 cups

Cocopowder – 2 tablespoons

Instant Coffee powder – 2 teaspoons

Cinnamon powder- 1 heaped teaspoon 

Vinegar – 1 tablespoon

Vanilla essence – 2 teaspoons

Yogurt + milk whipped ( as much as is required for coming to folding consistency, I used around 2 cups of it)

Coarse ground red chillies 3 (Kashmiri chillies/badege chillies)

For anglaise:

Sugar 2 tablespoons 

Vinegar 3 teaspoons

Red chillies 2 (coarse ground)

Mix all the cake ingredients. The consistency is what I always watch out for, am not to rigid on quantities. After a good mix ( I always mix by hand) the batter should drop into folds. Am sure there are you tube videos to demonstrate this.

Line the tray with oil, pour in the mix and bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

Anglaise is something I tried for the first time, this is because I don’t like frosting. I try to use as less animal products as possible. 

Heat half a cup of water, drop in all the three ingredients- sugar, vinegar and chilly powder. Let it come to a boil. Wait till it slightly thickens and switch off.

Once the cake is done, just pour this on top of the cake and let it rest!

Mine turned out yumm! It bursts with various flavours each time you take a bite and you really can’t have enough of it!

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Whole wheat Chocookies 

This is nothing but a Nankhatai recipe tweaked!2 cups of whole wheat flour

4 tbsp besan or chic pea flour

1 tbsp chocolate powdered (unsweetened)

1 cup of soft butter or soft ghee

1 1/2 cups of powdered brown sugar

4-5 cardamoms

4-5 cloves

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1/4tsp nutmeg powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda 

Two pinches of saffron

100 gms of roasted almonds

100 gms of deseeded and diced dry dates

Milk as is required
Method is pretty simple. Mix up the dry powder ingredients – two flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda. Mix well. Lot of them say soft but I am lazy and I don’t 😬

In a dry blender add the spices – cloves cardamoms ( I added them with shell, you can choose to remove it too), saffron, nutmeg powder and cinnamon powder and chocolate powder. Give it a fine blend.

Add this to the dry ingredients above.

Now add softened butter to it and knead with love!

After about 10 mins, it turns into a crumbly texture. To this keep adding teaspoonfuls of milk just to bring it together.

You should have preheated the over at 180 degrees centigrade for atleast ten mins.

Make small lemon sized balls of the dough balls and pat slightly at the center.

Baking trays need not be lined with butter as there is enough in the dough. 

Place them in making sure there is enough place amidst them to swell to double the size.

Bake for 25 mins. Take out turn it around and bake for another ten mins. (This I did because my cookies were atleast 5cm wide. If yours are smaller and thinner they might bake in the first 25 mins itself. 

So watch out for over baking and your oven is like your child- only you understand its capabilities. 

My take is that – follow timings on all recipes but always judge with the aroma. Once I feel the yummy aroma wafting around my kitchen, I just give it a few more minutes – at max five- and I take it out.

The mistake I made was that I placed them all close to each other. Ofcourse i changed that in my second round but jeez! I forgot to take a pic!

It tastes yummy. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. The almonds add a fine delight to the bite and the dates give it a sweet stickiness too!

Try it.😇

Alcho mysore pak- September sweet surprise

Every year during september I get into a zone, hands itching and nose twitching, like a researcher in a lab working my mind at various flavour combinations and textures to create a sweet that is exciting and different, for my kids to take to school on their birthdays. 

People usually buy something and send it but what’s the fun in that right?

I have been dabbling with the idea of combining sweet chocolate fudge and salty cashew cake. 

Today, is the day it all came together. The start was a bit shakey because organic shops arent open on sundays and I dont have any cashew at home. Then it struck me. I have so many more dry fruits – almonds can certainly replace cashew. I decided to step out of organic cooking zone this time. 

In my mind I went

Ghee- tick

Gram flour- tick

Chocolate powder- tick

Almonds- tick

Sugar- tick

Usually the combinations for mysore pak is always 1:1 for ghee and gramflour. Sugar is double. It is 1:1 for cashew and sugar is also 1:1 for kaju katli, which doesnt need ghee as there is already a lot of fat in it. I decided not to watch out for ghee too much – always the more the better!

Ingredients:

Ghee 250 grams

Sugar 3 cups

Almond 2 cups

Gram flour 1 cup

Chocolate powder 1/2 cup

Cardamom – 10 

Cloves – 6

Salt

Method: 

I dealt with this in two different batches, first the gram flour and chocolate powder. Then the almond mix.

Chocolate Mysore pak halfway:

In a wok I added a table spoon of ghee and I mixed in the gram flour and chocolate powder till it was nice and warm and removed as many lumps as possible. (I didnt bother sifting it). Then I removed it and kept aside.

Meanwhile, in warm water I soaked all the almonds and kept it closed.

Then for the caramel in the same wok I added two cups of sugar and a pinch of salt, pored in two tablespoons of water and brought it to boil. Once it formed a nice froth I checked for a stringy sticky consistency and switched off the stove. I then added the warmly prepared gram flour mixture into the caramel. I kept stirring it vigourously so that lumps dont form, I was surprised to see how it changed from a goey consistency to that of dry toasty breadcrumbs. It felt like a ‘heston blumenthal’ surprise. 😂

I added two more table spoons of ghee in it and kept stirring. It was now a little less powdery. I poured it on a greased plate and thought it will set after it cools.

Then I ventured on my next experiment: 

Badam katli 

The soaked almonds looked nicely bloated and golden. I strained them, saved the water, and then quickly squeezed them out of their skins. (I saved the skin too for my home-made shampoo😉)

In a wok, I added a tsp of salt, the rest of the sugar and two table spoons of water from soaked almonds and let it come to boil for the caramel.

Meanwhile, in a food processor I added the almonds, with the core of the cardamoms and the head of the cloves, saving the left overs for a later day biriyani. Then I blitzed it to a powder as smooth and I could.

Once the caramel was stringy and sticky I added the almond mixture and began stirring. It looked fab. First sticky, then a foldable consistency, all in a few minutes.

I checked on the chocolate mysore pak while stirring and sadly, it was still powdery. So I decided to add it all in the almond cake and stirred them all in folding them from all sides. When it was goey enough and leaving the sides of the pan I took it off heat and poured it all on a greasy plate. Voila!

Now, what do I call this chocolatey almondy mysorepak, I thought.

Alcho mysore pak!

Gluten-free Pesto sandwiches

Let me first give you my vegan pesto recipe:

A Coriander bunch, prepared, including stalk (I believe the stalk has maximum flavour)

One local tomato (ooty tomato on the other hand has less tang)

One small lemon juice

Six cloves of garlic

One redchilly

Half a tsp black peppercorns

Half a tsp jaggery powder

Drop them all together raw, into a processor and blitz away! Add some salt for seasoning. And its done!
Idlies actually have a lot of potential. We all know they are yummy with almost any kind of chutney, molagai podi of all kinds or sambar. In fact, they are yummy when fried with molagai podi or with manchurian sauce. They can be powdered and made into upma too.

This is a new recipe I tried on one of those days when I felt like a naughty experiment in the kitchen.Slice the idlies carefully into halves. Spread a sizable portion of the pesto and sprinkle the kopra podi that I have shared with you before. Close and bite!😁😁

Black vadais

If I were to explain ‘karuppu ulundu vadais’ in english it would be… Hmm..Black Lentil fritters?

Does that sound enticing enough 😜

I soaked two cups of black urad with skin over night along with a handful of chana dal and a handful of rajma ( I wanted to finish it by hook or crook!)

Next morning I woke up dreaming of vadais. So I got started.

I used the grinder to grind the dals along with an inch of ginger and three red chillies, by adding water lil-by-lil!

45 mins later I added some salt and switched it off.

Since the vadais were super soft I thought I will have a record of teh recipe here.

Batter:

Two cups of black urad with skin
One table spoonful of rajma
One tablespoonfull of chana dal
Three red chillies
One inch round ginger
A pinch of asafoetida
Salt to taste
Two large onions finely chopped and
A bunch of coriander leaves and stalk finely chopped.

Iron wok on the stove with coconut oil fills the house with an unforgettable aroma.


In they went like small blobs of goodness and out they came golden brown little chuncks of savoury treats.


Yumm with the sweet and spicy date chutney!

Puff pastery @ Satyam Cinemas

Some foods make me salivate, some foods make me want to cook them, some food make me loose my mind!🙈🙈

There is one that makes me a 6- year-old each  time. And that is the puff pastery at Satyam cinemas, Chennai. So fresh is the butter between the sheets and so crisp are the sheets!

I always end up buying it during a movie, whether or not I am hungry. The worst part, though, is that I wish I ate it with a proper plate where there is enough light for once! That would really make the 6-year-old in me supper satisfied! Why – is the interesting bit.

That lucious puff pastery would have my undivided attention as my I would run my fingers along those warm, crispy-sharp bits, the irresistible whiff of burnt butter and the masala inside it would stir up my digestive juices. As the golden edge would snap, crisp bits would break with a crackle and drizzle down all over the plate leaving my hand buttery with bits of pastery all over it. 

That first bite is the my best memory of childhood- eating the same thing way back in Mysore Iyengar bakery.

I would start on top and peel layers of it and eat them slowly, progressing from crispy golden brown top to soft white sheets and then to the stuffing which would be a tad spicy to break through all the soft-salty pastery. And then a few layers of sheets again to reach the best part – the bottom. Charred and crisp, it would be far better than the top. What a way to end! delightful! 

Yesterday, while watching ‘suicide squad’ in the movie hall, I ate it just the same way, messy like my 6-year-old self would have enjoyed it! I just assumed I wasn’t judged by the stranger sitting next to me! 😂

Maharashtra’s Masala

What doesn’t cease to amaze me is how we have multiple region based cuisines all over India. Invariably, one cuisine seeps through harmlessly to its neighbours territory not just influencing them and getting influenced.

Tanjavur, the district in Tamil Nadu that I hail from is highly influenced by the Marathan cuisine. Sambar varieties, bajjis and upmas that we probably thought as native cuisine are borrowed glories. According to the sangam literature what surely belonged to dravidian cuisine were things like idiappams and dosais made of various millets and rice. Even Idli fermenting technique was something we borrowed from Indonasians.

Visiting Bombay for the first time, my mind was set to taste all the flavours the region has to offer. I believe local flavoura are always best tasted in small shops and roadside vnedors rather than fine-dining restaurants. So, I did walk the length and breadth of Bombay and speak to a lot of people before I went on food walks. Thanks to Zomato, things were relatively simpler to figure out.

Available all day long on menus are Vadapavs, batata vadas at roadside thelevala vendors next to train stations are almost always fresh and tasty in your tummies and super light on your pockets.

Missal pav is a typical protien filled roadside breakfast where Missal is the gravy made of many kinds of pulses, big and small, flavoured with goda masala, which is a speciality of this region. Goda is a ten spice blend, the variation of which is something called a kala masala, addition being sundried fried onions.
Kandha lehsun masala is the other spice mix with onions and garlic mostly used in dry preparations.

kandha poha is a delicacy made of fried onions and beaten rice flavored with chillies, lemon and tumeric. Thalipeeth is another mid-maharashtran speciality. These are thick pancakes made from various   millets, flavoured with herbs and fried onions. These are served with coriander chutney and white butter. Yumm!

Sabudana vada and sabudana khichdi are two preperations made from tapioca balls flavoured with roasted peanuts, green chillies and seasoned with cumin and ghee. They are mainly breakfast dishes and so are quite heavy on the tummy. Being free of onions and garlic, which usually marathis dont cook without, these are mostly fasting food.

Piyush is a local drink made of yogurt sweetened with sugar and flavoured with saffron and cardamom, its heavy alright but its something you shouldn’t miss! The other local drink is the kokum sharbat. Kokum is a fruit like tamarind that grows all along the west of India, largely used as an ingredient to add acidity and tangyness to a dish. The sharbat is a nice drink to start your meal with or even refresh yourself after a long, hot day. The syrup makes an exotic addent to your fridge too.

There is still so much more to explore here in Bombay. My next account is quite detailed as I am about to explore the famous bombayya chaat in a place called Elco market bang in the middle of Bandra.