Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Baby Turns Three!! Celebrating with Train Cake

Happy B'day Vineet!!

My li'l baby is now three years old!! This year I made a train cake for him which we took to his school. I followed this video to make the train. For the cake I used this recipe - baked the batter in a 9" loaf pan (for about 60 minutes). I made two batches for two loaf pans.

I did not take step by step pictures because the entire process was time consuming and I had a lot of buttercream all over my hands!! I used Wilton's store-bought icing to ice and decorate the cakes. All the steps are clearly given in the video. I more or less followed the video, making a few changes here and there.

I finished decorating the cake at 3am what with the crumb coating and all. My son was up till about 10 pm, wondering when I would finish making the cake, after which he went off to sleep. I had just finished making the loaves when he slept so he had no idea what was happening next. Until the next day when he woke up and saw the train cake. The look on his face was priceless!! :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!! Reposting Santa Claus Cake

Hey all,

I was very excited to note that a lot of people visit my 'Santa Claus Cake'  post through search engines. So I decided to repost this cake.

It is not as difficult as it looks. You can find more details here, where I've explained how I traced the designs and what tips I used to decorate. Go ahead, try it, you are so going to love it!

For the 2-layer cake you can check the following posts -
Yellow Cake
Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake
Basket Weave Cake

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! Happy Baking!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gingerbread Men / Gingerbread Cookies

It's that time of the year again when the streets are lit beautifully. Every store you go, every place you visit, the spirit of the season is unmistakably infectious. It's the most wonderful time of the year is played almost everywhere and you cannot help but feel wonderful.
My (almost) 3 year old has now started understanding several things around him. And this season seems to be his most favourite yet. (Oh that is what I felt about Halloween too). His vocabulary nowadays has been widened with 'snowflakes', 'snowman', and of course, 'Santa Claus'.
The whole of yesterday, he was insisting that it was gingerbread boy and not gingerbread man while, to humour him, I was telling him otherwise. Kinda reminded me of the 'coffee - toffee' ad I heard growing up. Boy or man, these gingerbread cookies sure made our day so much more 'wonderful'. From the time I told him - 'let's bake some gingerbread cookies' to the time those cookies went into his little tummy, my restless li'l boy, though still restless, was the most well-behaved! He patiently waited as I was browsing for a recipe, was very careful when I was measuring the ingredients and used a lot of "please" when he wanted to help me cream the sugar and butter - something which he considers his job now! The two hours of wait time when the dough was in the refrigerator was the toughest for him but Dora, Diego and Team UmiZoomi came to his rescue. A couple of times, I did hear the fridge door opening but I blame myself for forgetting the safety lock.
When it was finally time to roll the dough, there he was, standing on his little chair, holding the little cookie cutter with a big smile on his face. His joy on my letting him cut a couple of gingerbread men left me so happy.
When the cookies were finaly done (he brought my attention to the beeping timer), "Amma, where are your oven mittens" took me by surprise.
When I was decorating the cookies he sat next to me instructing me where to put the eyes, the smiley etc - something he remembered doing in his school where they had to decorate a foam cut-out of a gingerbread man. Thank you gingerbread man, you sure made my day!

Recipe from here (with minor changes)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup mollases (I used Grandma's brand)
1 egg
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder (I used only 1/2)
1 pinch nutmeg powder

1 cup Powdered sugar, 1 tbsp juice of lemon, water

Bring the butter to room tempertaure. With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar. To this add molasses and egg and beat further. Scrape the sides as you beat .
In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and the spice powders.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Beat with the electric mixer for a few seconds till they combine well. The dough will be sticky. Knead a bit with your hands and refrigerate covered for 2 hours. [The dough may smell strongly of molasses but will be ok after baking. Also, make sure you refrigerate the dough for 2 hours otherwise it will be sticky when you work on it.]

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a cookie sheet (baking tray) with parchment paper. Remove a small portion of the dough from the fridge (about 1/3rd).
Spread some flour on a clean countertop. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Spread some flour on top. With a cookie cutter cut into the desired shape. Arrange on the cookie sheet a couple of inches apart. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes. If the cookies are thinner, bake for a shorter time. The edges should look done. The centre will be soft but will  harden as the cookies cool.
Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Here's a simple icing that you could make in seconds. Just mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 1 tbsp juice of lemon and approx 2 tbsp water till you get a thick but flowing liquid. If it becomes too flowing, just add some more sugar.

Transfer the icing into a piping bag or ziploc. Snip off a very small portion. Decorate the cookies.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


A lot of exciting things transpired in the past few weeks and my blog graciously took a backseat. Back to the grind now with this hot steaming konkani breakfast dish. Undi is made of rice or idli rava (not to be confused with sooji. The rava is made of rice and not wheat) and fresh grated coconut. Some people prepare this dish by grinding soaked rice with coconut milk.
Typically, at Amma's place, undis are accompanied by ravo or godda paank - a syrup make out of jaggery. My husband however prefers undis with chutney.

1 cup idli rava / rice rava 
1/2 to 3/4 cup grated coconut
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp urad dal
1/4 tsp methi seeds
5 to 6 curry leaves
Oil / ghee
Salt to taste

Method :
Wash idli rava with water. Drain. 
Blend grated coconut coarsely. [I added a little water]. Pour over idli rava, add 2 cups water and mix thoroughly. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.

In a deep bottomed pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds, urad dal and methi seeds. When they splutter, add curry leaves and roast for a few seconds. Pour idli rava-coconut mixture. Bring to a boil. Add  another 1/2 cup of water. Add salt [I added approx 1 tsp]. Keep stirring for 5 to 10 minutes on medium heat till all the water gets absorbed. Cover and leave aside for 10 minutes till the mixture cools. [When you touch the mixture with your fingers, it shouldn't stick. If it does, cook for another few minutes till  all the water is absorbed].
Shape into balls and a make a depression in the centre with a finger. Steam in a steamer or pressure cooker for 20 minutes. [Do not crowd the undis in the steamer. Allow some space between the undis. I dumped all the undis at once because I was running out of time. If they turn out too soft after steaming, allow to cool and they will harden].

For the ravo or godda paank just boil a huge piece of jaggery with 1/2 cup or so of water. Boil for about 10 minutes (stir in between) till water reduces and the solution becomes slightly thickish.

If you do not have a lot of time to make this dish in the morning, you can do most of the work the previous day. Just store the unsteamed balls in an airtight container and refrigerate it. All you have to do the next day is steam the undis. You can even make the jaggery syrup a few days in advance and store in the refrigerator.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Spider Web Mini Muffins / Cupcakes for Halloween

I had big plans for this Halloween. I wanted to make something huge - probably as big as a large pumpkin. But I ended up making these cute li'l spiderweb muffins for my son's Halloween parade in school. No complaints. Except that I wish I could spend some more time and make them a little neater. I also wanted to add an edible spider and a couple more tasty accessories. But I was terribly short on time and decorated 24 mini muffins in less than 15 minutes! (dear hubby helped too). Anyway, that's just about how much time it takes to make these cute spiderwebs.

To make these spiderweb muffins, first of all, you need some delicious muffins. I used homemade banana muffins but you can use any store-bought ones too. Since it's for Halloween I chose liners with pumpkin designs.
To make the spider webs, you need two ingredients - white chocolate and semi-sweet (or milk) chocolates.
I used 3/4 cup white chocolate chips and  5oz semi sweet baking chocolate squares. You could use semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips too.

Microwave semi-sweet chocolate squares (or chips) for 1 minute. Stir well. Microwave for another 30 to 50 seconds. Mix well. Allow to cool.
Separately microwave white chocolate chips for 1 minute. Mix really well. Microwave for additional 15 seconds. Mix well. Allow to cool. Transfer into a piping bag or a ziploc. Snip off a tiny piece of the edge using a pair of scissors.

Now take a mini muffin and spread the melted semi-sweet chocolate around it. Take the piping bag filled with melted white chocolate and draw concentric circles on top. Using a toothpick, immediately pull lines along the diameters. There, you got your spiderweb! Thank you internet.

Do not touch the muffins (as tempting as it may be) for a few minutes till the chocolate hardens.

Note -
Before you decorate the muffins, make sure they have cooled down.
The melted chocolates (especially white chocolate) tend to harden even at room temperature, so work fast. If you feel it's hardening as you work, microwave for a few seconds and mix well. You can place the piping bag in the microwave.

Accessorize with toy spiders.

Mini Banana Muffins

I find mini muffins cute. Very very cute. Specially when they are held by tiny little hands. Like my son's. He absolutely loves mini muffins. I first baked these when his friends came over for a playdate. I baked these again today. Thought I'd share them with you. I found the recipe in Sweet Oven Lovin' and made a couple of minor changes. Both times these have turned out pretty good. 
I made these today specially for my son's Halloween parade at school. These are the shots taken before decorating. If the decoration comes out good, these will probably feature in my next post too.

Ingredients :
2 medium or large ripe bananas
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour or maida
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Method :

Peel and mash bananas.
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line mini muffin pan with liners. If you don't have liners, grease them well.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, with a hand held electric mixer, beat sugar and oil. Add eggs one at a time and beat. Add vanilla and beat further.  To this add the mashed bananas and beat well.
Add flour mixture little by little and beat at low speed. [Don't add all at once as the flour will fly all over]. Do not over mix. You can even mix with a fork or large spoon. A few lumps are ok.

Pour the batter into the muffin liners, till each liner is almost full. The muffins will expand so leave some room. [ I used two spoons to fill the liners. One to scoop out the batter from the bowl and the other to scoop out the batter from the spoon and scoop it into the liners].

Bake for 11 to 12 minutes or till fork inserted in the muffin comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely. Tastes better after you refrigerate for sometime.
Makes 24 to 28 mini muffins.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kaju Burfi

Happy Diwali!!

A tad late to wish you all, but this week's been very hectic. Sometimes I wonder whether I have too many things on my plate, other times I find life very exciting because of this and there are times when I want to do nothing but sleep!
Anyway here's a small treat to you all for Diwali. I found the recipe in Manjula's Kitchen and followed it to a T. Except that I powdered my cashews a little too coarse. Thing is, if you try to powder it too fine, it releases some oils and gets ground in it, which makes it lumpy (exactly what happened to my first batch). So grind it just for a few seconds. Mine turned out too coarse as is evident in the burfi.
I also added some ghee towards the end.

Ingredients :
2 cups cashewnuts
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1 pinch saffron (optional)
Ghee 2 tsp

Method :

Powder cashewnuts. [Make sure your blender is dry. Also, powder them in small batches in the smallest chutney jar that you have.]
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water and boil on medium high heat. Keep boiling for 15 minutes or so (keep stirring in between) till you get one-thread consistency of sugar. Add saffron strands and mix well.

[This was the first time I ever made a burfi which required one thread consistency. I waited too long and the mixture became too thick. As suggested by Manjula, I added some hot water].

Meanwhile dry roast cashew powder in a deep bottomed pan on low heat for 4 to 5 minutes. When the sugar solution reaches the desired consistency, just pour it on top of the cashew powder and mix well. If the mixture is too flowing, cook for a few minutes till it becomes dry.

Add ghee and mix well.

Keep a plate greased with ghee ready. Transfer this mixture onto it and spread it across. Since my mixture was too dry i put it on a cutting board and rolled it with a rolling pin. Keep pressing and rolling till you get the desired thickness.
Allow to cool for a few minutes. Cut into squares or diamonds.

Hoping you all are having a fun Diwali!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mushroom Ghee Roast

It's funny how things you haven't been too fond of make you crave for them when you are far away. It first happened when I moved to Bangalore after marriage. Along with all the memories of Mangalore that would come rushing in, gheeroast would make it's absence felt. Which was very surprising, because though I did have it a few times in restaurants, I was never a big fan of it. And then one day my uncle who was visiting Bangalore brought some chicken gheeroast with him from Anupama (Abhiman), a famous restaurant in Mangalore and probably one of the best ghee-roast producing 'factories'. And I craved for more.  I went in search of restaurants in Bangalore which served gheeroast. Seriously, who does that? Lots of Mangaloreans far away from Mangalore do. Because there are some very delicious Mangalorean dishes which you cannot find everywhere.
Anyway, my search for ghee roast in B'lore did get some positive results. However, far away in this land, though you find an Indian restaurant in practically every street, Mangalorean dishes are a rarity.

Ghee roast is all about ghee and chillies. In restaurants if you look closely at this dish you will find it lying in a bed of ghee. Making this at home has the advantage of reducing the ghee or using substitutes like oil, though it's ghee that gives all the flavour.
The chillies typically used are a variety called byadgi chillies, or kumte mirsang in konkani. I got mine from an Indian store close by. These chillies are not too spicy and they lend a deep colour to the dish.

This recipe is from my aunt, Nandini Pachi, who guessed the ingredients after tasting ghee roast in several restaurants. Adjust the chillies according to your taste. However, the beauty of this dish is in the spice level so if you don't like things too spicy, you may want to stay away from it!

Ingredients :
12 to 14 mushrooms (227g / 8oz)
15 to 18 byadgi chilles (kumte mirsang) [ I used 15]
1 tsp coriander seeds
6 to 8 curry leaves
1/2 tsp haldi powder
1 large tamarind piece (goose berry sized)
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 to 6 tbsp (or more) ghee
Salt to taste

Chop mushrooms into quarters.
Roast red chillies with a few drops of oil. Remove.
In the same pan, dry roast coriander seeds on low for a few minutes. Switch the gas off, immediately add 1/4 tsp haldi powder and curry leaves and roast. Allow to cool.
Grind the above with roasted chillies, tamarind, garlic and salt with cold water (approx 1/2 cup), to get a smooth paste.

In  a large pan, heat ghee. Add 1/4tsp haldi powder and roast for a few seconds. Add mushrooms and salt to taste and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Now add the ground paste and roast for a couple of minutes. Add about 1/2 cup water [You can wash the mixer with a little water and add]. Cook uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes till water evaporates [keep stirring].

Relish with naan or chapatis. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Celebrating 100th Post with New York Cheesecake

"It was cheesecake. It was fine. It had a buttery, crumbly, graham cracker crust, with a very rich yet light, cream cheese filling… "

One of my favourite  FRIENDS episodes features Rachel, Chandler and a cheesecake. So this cheesecake happens to find it's way into Chandler's living room and eventually into his tummy when, infact, it was supposed to be delivered to his neighbour. Rachel first calls Chandler a thief, but cannot resist the temptation herself and along with Chandler, polishes off not one or two, but three cheesecakes!

And all this while, I was wondering what a cheesecake tastes like. So I set out to find a cheesecake in Bangalore, found one on the other side of the city and really liked it. I later discoverd that a bakery just down the road sold cheesecakes. So I went with great expectations, bought the cheesecake, resisted the temptation of hauling an auto and walked home.
All along the way, I was hoping the cheesecake wouldn't melt, reminding myself that it was not ice-ream. After reaching home the first thing I did, ofcourse, was bite into the cheesecake. Wham! a block of cheese hit my mouth. Ugh?? It was not luscious, creamy cheese, but a block of cheese - the kind you grate or chop to throw into your pasta. Really?? 

Chandler: Hey, you have got to try this cheesecake.

Rachel: Wow. My God, so creamy. Oh my God, this is the best cheesecake I have ever had. 

Since then I have had cheesecake several times. And each time I ate it, I wish I had baked it. Exactly the feeling you get when you see a gorgeous dress and want to wear it. Infact when I slowly started learning the ropes of baking, three cakes featured in my 'must-try' list - tres leches, tiramisu and cheesecake. These cakes now have a special place in my blog. Tres Leches was what I started with, tiramisu featured in my blog's b'day post and cheesecake seemed apt for the 100th post. 

After hunting for a good recipe, I came across the following recipe on Joy of Baking by Stephanie Jaworski. Crossed my fingers and tried it. Turned out exactly what I was hoping -  a buttery, crumbly, graham cracker crust, with a very rich yet light, cream cheese filling. Except, I used digestive biscuits instead of graham crackers. To powder these biscuits, just pulse about 18 to 20 biscuits in the blender till you get the desired powdered consistency.

Ingredients :
2 cups graham cracker crumbs [ I used Brittania digestive biscuits]
1/4 cup sugar [ I used only 2 tbsp since the biscuits were very sweet]
1/2 cup melted butter

32 oz cream cheese, at room temperature [ I used four 8oz slabs]
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour [I used maida]
5 eggs
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Method :

Grease the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan with cooking spray. 
In a bowl, mix biscuit crumbs, sugar and melted butter . Pour into the springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. 

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer beat cream cheese. Add sugar and flour and beat till smooth and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat with each addition. Keep scraping the pan. Add vanilla, lemon zest and whipping cream and beat further.

Pour this mixture onto the crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 250ºF. Bake for 60 to 90 minutes. [ My cake got done in about 15 + 70 mts. Remember, it doesn't look like a regular cake in the oven, so don't wait for the top to get browned. The sides should be done and the centre should be a slightly jiggly.]

Somewhere in between combine sour cream with sugar and vanilla. Once you remove the cheesecake from the oven, spread this topping on the cheesecake with a spoon or offset spatula.

Return it to oven and bake at 250ºF for another 10 to 15 mts.

Remove, run your spatula around the sides. Stephanie suggests doing this to reduce any cracks on top.

Refrigerate overnight.

To serve, unclasp the pan. Run a spatula around the sides of the cheesecake, remove sides of the pan. I noticed that the crust was tightly stuck to the bottom so I did not bother to transfer the cake onto a cakeboard. Next time I will probably use a parchment paper.

To give the cheesecake a pretty pink look, I made some strawberry coulis and drizzled it on top. To make the coulis, just blend 10 to 12 chopped strawberries (stem removed) with 2 tbsp sugar into a smooth paste (without water). Run this through a large sieve, pushing down the pulp with your fingers.  Collect the juice and drizzle over the cheesecake.
I filled a piping bag (you could use a ziploc) to help drizzle better.

A big thanks to all my dear readers. Your support and encouragement has kept my blog going. I really appreciate it :)!!

This goes to bookmarked recipes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paneer Capsicum Masala Chilly

It's such a joy to bring together different ingredients without having to follow any rules. I mean, why can Indian spices not join hands with Chinese sauces and give us the best of both worlds? Indo-Chinese cuisine - something I totally relish, has given us an insight into how dishes can be tweaked to suit the palates of the consumers. So when it comes to whipping out dishes in one's own kitchen and bringing together different cultures, the choices are innumerable. 
This recipe is my take on 'Paneer Chilly', a famous Indo-Chinese dish which I have made more 'Indian' by adding Indian spices. I have chosen not to fry the paneer, and to throw in a little more vigour into the dish, have added red bell peppers. I'm so in love with the deep red colour of these peppers, the subtle sweetness they offer and the beautiful contrast they provide with the paneer.
I like this dish to be very spicy so do adjust the spice level according to your taste. If the dish turns out too spicy, add some tomato ketchup or lemon juice.

Ingredients :
2 large onions
2 tsp ginger gralic paste
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 medium tomato
1 large red capsicum 
1 medium green capsicum
1 tsp soy sauce
1 to 2 tsp red chilli sauce (I used Ching's)
2 tsp vinegar
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp kasuri methi (optional)
400g paneer, chopped into cubes
Coriander leaves or / and spring onion greens for garnish

Method :
Heat oil. Sauté chopped onions till they turn brownish. Add ginger garlic paste and green chillies and sauté for a few minutes. To this add the powders and roast. Add diced tomato and bell peppers and cook covered for 4 to 5 minutes or till they are cooked (keep stirring every minute).
Now add the sauces and vinegar and mix well. Cook for a minute. Add paneer, salt to taste (remember, the sauces have some salt in them) and kasoori methi and mix gently so as not to break the paneer.

Garnish with coriander leaves.

You can have this as a side dish with Chapati and curd. Or if you are like me and enjoy things spicy, eat it as it is!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Easy Microwave Kalakand

Remember the incredible 3-ingredient dessert I posted sometime back? An easy version of Mishti Doi which is still one of my favourite desserts to make and eat, specially considering a prep time of under 5 minutes.
So here's one more. Just two major ingredients that come together in under 20 minutes to create a delicious sweet that unmistakably reminds you of your local sweet shop back in India. A couple more added ingredients for flavour and appeal and you are dun duna dun done.

I first came across this recipe on Sandeepa's blog when I was blog-hopping about 3 years back, and marvelled at how easy things could be, if you wanted them to. My husband loves Kalakand and he was the one who introduced it to me, soon after we got married. There was a sweet shop close to our place in Malleswaram, and whenever we would visit someone in B'lore we would drive a mile down the road, I would hop into this store and order a pound or two of Kalakand to go. So when I saw the recipe, trying it out sounded like fun. No kids or worries then, and I had nothing much to do anyway.

So I went to the nearest Safeway and got some ricotta cheese, without having any idea what it was. Turned out to be our very own paneer with a creamy consistency packaged in a cool container. Really?? And all this while I thought 'cottage cheese' was paneer. (Cottage cheese doesn't taste anything like paneer, btw). I guess you could substitute crumbled paneer if ricotta isn't available, but I haven't tried.

The experiment turned out fine and luckily for me, my microwave is on a table and not above the stove like you see in most kitchens here, so I did not have to stretch while stirring. If your microwave is on top, be careful while stirring or just use your oven-mitts to bring the vessel to the counter-top to mix it each time.

Recently a friend of mine, Keerthi, made this sweet using low-fat condensed milk and part-skim ricotta cheese (plus some milk powder) so if you want to feel less guilty, that works as well.

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
About 2 tbsp chopped almonds / pistachios

In a large bowl empty out the can of condensed milk. Add ricotta cheese little by little and mix well with a whisk.
Lightly grease a large microwave safe dish [preferably rectagular] with ghee. Pour the mixture into this.

Microwave (uncovered) as per below :

Microwave for 5 minutes. Stir well.
Microwave 5 more minutes. Stir well.
Microwave 2 more minutes. Stir well.
Microwave 2 more minutes. Stir well.
Microwave 1 more minute. Stir well.
Microwave 1 more minute. Stir well.
Microwave an additional 1 or 2 minutes, stirring after every minute.

[So totally, microwave for 17 to 18 minutes. The time may vary depending on your microwave and the type of container you use].

The reason you keep stirring in between is that the sides can get burnt  because of uneven heating in the microwave. Specially towards the end, stir every minute. The mixture should appear dry, but still have some moisture.

After removing from the microwave, sprinkle cardamom powder, mix well and spread the mixture across the dish. With the back of a spatula, press it down. Allow to cool for atleast half an hour. Cut into squares / rectangles/ diamonds [do not remove yet]. Leave aside for another 30 to 50 mts, till it sets well. Remove, transfer to a container and refrigerate.

Before serving, sprinkle chopped nuts on top. Tastes great without nuts  too!

Easy to make, easy to transport, a great solution if you have to return someone's container (exactly the reason why I made it this time) - with Diwali not too far away, this sweet deserves a shot, what say!?

This goes to bookmarked recipes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Egg Biryani

Biryani is one of my most favourite meals. I absolutely drool over chicken biryani and love eating it while watching any favourite show on tv! Today I made egg biryani for my husband's potluck party in his office.
A few years back a friend had given me a basic recipe for biryani. Over the years I tweaked it and tried to bring in new flavours. Star anise, for example, lends a great flavour to your rice, so try to get your hand on it.  Also, fried onions add a distinct taste to the biryani, so if you can forget about counting calories for a meal, go for it. However, the ingredient that lends the most flavour is ghee. Go a little liberal on ghee and your biryani will smell and taste great!
This recipe is almost a one-pot meal - the rice is not cooked separately. I actually prefer this method since I feel it captures the flavours better and brings all the elements together. The eggs are, ofcourse, boiled separately.
Before you start making biryani, or any other flavoured rice for that matter, soak the rice completely in water for 20 to 30 mts. This way the rice will not break when you mix it and the grains will look longer.

Ingredients :
5 boiled eggs, shelled and halved
2 cups basmati rice (uncooked)
2 bay leaves
1" piece cinnamon
4 cardamom
4 cloves
1 small star anise
2 large onions
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
3/4 cup corainder leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves (pudina)
3 to 4 green chillies, roughly chopped
1/4 cup yogurt
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp garam masala powder

Method :
Soak basmati rice in water for atleast 30 minutes. [At this point you can start chopping your onions etc and start cooking so by the time you get to the point where you have to add rice, it will be atleast 30 mts].
In a large deep-bottomed pan, heat oil + ghee. Add bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and star anise. Add chopped onions and ginger garlic paste and sauté until onion turns brownish.
Meanwhile grind corainder leaves, mint leaves, green chillies and yogurt into a paste (without water). Add this paste to the onions and roast for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes and sauté till tomatoes are completely cooked.
Sprinkle turmeric powder, garam masala powder and chilli powder (adjust according your spice level) and mix well.
Drain the water out of the rice completely and add. Roast the rice for half a minute. Now add 3 1/4 cup hot water. [If you did not pre-soak the rice, add 4 cups water].
Add salt and mix [it has to be slighlty salty to accommodate the rice].
Cover, turn the flame to medium and cook for 10 to 12 minutes. The rice should be about 95% cooked. [Check after 9 to 10 minutes, if you feel the bottom is likely to burn, add a few tablespoons of water. If you are not comfortable cooking this way, you can use a rice cooker or pressure cooker].
Turn the gas off, mix gently, cover and leave untouched for another 10 minutes till the rice is completely cooked.

At this point you can add the boiled eggs and serve. Or you can spice up the eggs a little bit.

To do that, in a bowl mix 1 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala powder and 1 pinch turmeric powder. Add 1 tsp ginger garlic paste, 2 tbsp yogurt and salt to taste and mix well.
Heat oil in a wide skillet. Dip eggs in the above mixture and roast for few minutes on both sides.

Serving suggestion :
Take a large microwave-safe bowl. Spread some rice at the bottom. Layer with a few egg halves. Layer with rest of the rice. Place the remaining eggs on top. Garnish with 1/2 cup of fried onions and 2 tbsp coriander leaves. You can also drizzle some saffron water on top.

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