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Meandering…

June 12, 2012
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When mornings smell like burnt wood

When noons like coconuts afloat

And nights like rotting leaf

I know it’s time to go home

 

When the air sounds like smoke swirling up the sky

When the water, like in a hurry

When the earth, like in search of food

The fire, like death, slow and waiting, on desolate nights

I know it’s time to go home

 

When the birds sing all day

The bees stuck in the web

The dead traces of earth worms on my path

And I know it’s time to go home

 

When the door speaks gently

The windows flutter like crows

The floor begs for warmth

I know I am home.

Fragrance from the past

April 4, 2012

I have a secret dream. That when my children finally grow up, they look back at childhood and cherish the times when sweet aromas swept through our home. Not of chocolate, not of vanilla, not even of fresh baked bread.

I hated cardamom, or so I thought, as a child. The word got around so much once during one of the annual ceremonies at home that an uncle assured me that the cook had just gone around the vessel of sweets with cardamom in hand. I ate many a laddu that late rainy season.

When I look back now, they were indeed good times. Cousins on their Dasara break, the river filled with clean water. Every evening after school spent jumping into the cool relief. And sweet aroma wafting through the house. The aroma of cardamom.

So, on with my secret agenda of weaning the kids off chocolate, I reach for that bottle of cardamom at every chance. And now, I reach for this recipe my sister passed on to me from her collection, at every chance.

Without further ado, I present to you, the sweet little round round things, like my 4 year old calls them.

Ingredients (for about 30 pcs)

Rawa (Fine semolina)                                   1 cup
All purpose flour (maida)                           1 cup
Milk                                                                      1 cup
Sugar                                                                    1 cup
Cardamom                                                         seeds of 1 pod, ground well (about a 1/4 tsp)

Baking soda                                                        1 tsp (I also tried with baking powder)

Method

1. Mix all the ingredients except baking soda in a bowl and let rest for about 2 hours
2. Heat the ‘Kuzhi paniyaram’ pan at medium
3. Stir in baking soda and mix the batter well
4. Sprinkle drops of ghee into the ‘holes’ in the pan
5. Spoon in batter upto about half and cover
6. Turn over the paniyarams after about 4 minutes or when the bottom turns golden brown
7. Cook the other side for about 2-3 minutes

This is rather a filling snack, that’s dense yet fluffy. I really like to increase the rawa and reduce the flour in this batter. Gives more of an Indian feel. Another variation could be adding grated coconut / dessicated coconut. Or mashed banana or jackfruit. Going out and out savoury would be a wonderful variation. Thank God, there is no end to imagination.

Baking, just like that.

January 14, 2012

This post is on popular demand, the response by my friends to yet another set of my show off pictures.

Disclaimer : I am neither a professionally trained baker nor a good cook. I only bake for family and sometimes for friends. If something turns out well, I blame the recipe. After 12 years of amateur baking, I can only snigger if someone says they cannot bake. Of course, not if they don’t own an oven.

For some weeks now we, or rather I, have been in a muffin/cupcake phase. “Yes!” from the 9 year old and the 4 year old always helps make that decision to go at it at 7 in the morning before getting to work. They are just that easy and accommodating.

Having said that I don’t claim to have baked the best cupcakes in town. What exactly is the difference between cupcakes and muffins, I wouldn’t care. I am too amateurish that way. In Germany, you only find muffins – vanilla, choco, blueberry… I also don’t get this euphoria over ‘wow, the best cupcake. You.got.to.try.it.’  This, you know, like the brownies ? After baking dozens of various brownies, I got over it. Finally. I have been in some really good pâtisseries and cupcakeries. I couldn’t tell. Could it be because of my aversion to that feeling after you stuff your face with the irrestible combination of Plain flour-sugar-butter ?

Whenever I bake, I try to tuck in something that makes it a tad bit ‘healthier’. Doing it with only whole meal wheat flour, sneaking in some spelt flour, half and half plain and whole meal flours, brown sugar in the place of white etc. I try to bake eggless as much as possible. Sometimes it costs you the utter fluffiness, but I haven’t heard much complaint so far.

Fluffy and springy

In the initial days I followed recipes to the T. I still do, if I have to donate the cake to the school. Otherwise, I have realized that there awaits a favourable outcome when fat, sweet and carbs are in the picture. Always.

Try any variation of the wonderful recipes spread around on the net. I wanted to bake something during Christmas and remembered my longing for a mango bake and the kesar mango puree tin in my pantry shelf I keep staring at. The one at holycowvegan was my first hit and only choice. I promptly made them, replacing flour with my whole wheat one. They came out alright, but leaving a slight aftertaste that I couldn’t put my finger on. Was it the baking soda or the whole wheat ? I shall bake it again with plain flour sans soda and see the result.

While I was at it, N1 as usual said “Eww… mango muffin!, I want chocolate ones”. So, on the side I made chocolate ones. They came out a bit crumbly, yet heady delicious (for someone who hasn’t been so fond of chocolate flavours, to say this!). And in the next days, I made variations as I went, results always being very munchable.

Breakfast in waiting

Eggless vanilla buttermilk/milk muffins

Ingredients

Flour                                                              1 1/2 – 1 3/4cups (whole wheat / plain & whole combination)
Baking powder                                           2 tsp

Buttermilk /milk                                        1 1/4 cups OR Whipping cream – 200g
Vanilla essence                                           a few drops (as per taste)
Sugar (brown/white)                                1/2 cup (or more, I like less sweet)
Sunflower oil                                                3 tbsp (or about 1/4 cup if you like)

Method

  1. Pre heat oven – 180°C
  2. Sift flour and baking powder. Do not skip this step.
  3. Beat/Blend all the wet ingredients and sugar at high speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and stir till incorporated. I use a handheld eggbeater, hoping to leave the airpockets alone. Don’t overmix.
  5. Line a muffin tray with muffin liners and pour batter about 2/3rd of each cup. Or just use the muffin liners on the oven rack.
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes. Test with a little knife or tooth pick. Inserted tooth pick should come out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack

Make nutella, jam, honey filled sandwiches out of these! Adding lesser sugar to the batter will help.

Nutella sandwich, just what the doctor ordered

Eggless chocolate-vanilla muffins

Ingredients

Flour                                                 1 1/2 (whole wheat / plain & whole combination)
Baking powder                              2 tsp
Cocoa powder                               1/2 cup (adjust according to taste, more wouldn’t hurt ;))
Whipping cream                           200g
Vanilla essence                             a few drops (as per taste)
Sugar (brown/white)                 1/2 cup (or more, I like less sweet)
Sunflower oil                                 3 tbsp (or about 1/4 cup if you like)

Method
Just like the previous one. If the batter is too doughy, add some milk. This will help avoid the crumbliness I hope.

Preposterous undertakings

November 9, 2011

Ok, this now has tended to turn into *shudder* a food blog, but I shall fight it with my life.

This space is tending to become a food blog, not because I am cooking/baking more, but because I have started imagining that what I make are turning out to be true killers.

What ? ‘killer’ is not the appropriate word ? Have you seen the ‘Lady Killer’ ? It can’t be such a bad choice of a word. If you were to drive down a street in a medium sized German town, the odds that you will have a fleeting glance at one of these boards is very high -

a. Friseur Hair Killer
b. Restuarant Plate Killer
c. Money Killer Bank

Ok, Ok. I made up the last two, but you get my drift.

Coming back to my putting up pictures of my culinary successes, here is the latest. I started making it since I was bored of baking the same old cakes. Secondly, I thought I would dazzle some with the quirky stuff. Thirdly, in a sizeable crowd, it’s easy to catch a victim or two. And fourthly, I really thought I had bloody lot of time on my hand on a saturday afternoon.

This particular halwa reeks of childhood memories. I remember coming home one day from school, a walk of about two kilometers, to the lovely aroma of sugar and cardamom, to potato Halwa, my birthday treat. Along with that also comes the memory of my grandma. The blessed soul who paved the way to my becoming a fan of making sweets. The soul who never shied away from novel cooking ideas. Potato halwa, raw papaya burfi… she was fearless.

This halwa per se, is quite an easy one. That is, if you are used to making halwa and not to thinking that ‘easy’ means 2-minute maggi.

Recipe  (Makes 30 pieces, takes about 45 minutes)

Ingredients

Boiled and mashed potatoes                                       5 cups
Sugar                                                                                     2 1/4 cups (I mixed white and brown sugar)
Ghee                                                                                      6 tbsp
Cardamom                                                                           2 pods, powdered
Saffron                                                                                   a few strands, optional
Food colour                                                                         a pinch
almond flakes, pistachio                                                for garnishing, optional

Method

1. Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan
2. Stir in mashed potato, colour and sugar
3. Cook at medium heat, stirring occasionally
4. Sprinkle cardamom powder (and saffron), continue stirring
5. When the mass starts leaving the bottom of the pan, transfer to a greased plate / tray
6. Let it cool, cut into pieces, garnish

You may also like to toast cashew nuts and add just before taking the pan off the fire.

Verdict

Potato halwa is not your everyday sweet, as in texture and taste. It’s not chewy like the typical south Indian wheat /banana halwa. One may feel the lingering potatoness. For those who are not adventurous, it may need some getting used to.   Nevertheless, it’s the one I can totally swear by, totally foolproof!

Now, you take the test.

Made in Germany

November 7, 2011

This, you will find only in Germany.

Shot inside a toilet at a theme park.

LadyKiller

Deepavali

October 30, 2011

Indian festivals invariably evoke a kind of nostalgia and longing. That is, after they are done with evoking that sense of joy, excitement and energy. Not far behind is that tremendous urge to do something special for the occasion, on the pretext of introducing to the kids the festive spirit, the flavours and smells that we grew up with.

Here is one of our Diwali feelings this year.

When saffrontrail tweeted seven cups, I was inspired all over again to make it. Having a sweet tooth and being an enthusiast sweet maker is not always a boon. I get carried away when I set out to make sweets and I don’t mind even if it takes hours out of my time. But seven cups, is an absolute winner when it comes to stirring up a treat in a jiffy (well, I do have another one that takes that title from any other sweet, but about that we shall come to in a later post).

I didn’t follow this recipe as in, roasting the besan in advance. My method was to blend all the ingredients and then set it on the stove. The roasting seems interesting, I promise myself to do that next time.

Noodles ? Slurp!

October 15, 2011

“I want an India-free Autumn break !” (What ?!!)

“You always make rice and sambar, chapathi and stuff…” (Not true)

It’s the traumatic experiences that last longer in our memory. True ? Well… it seems to be for the 9 year old. Whether it is the wish to keep away from the obligatory visits to the local culturals or to have something different on the plate, I don’t blame him. “Children are like that”.

It’s rare that I get to spend any time with the son these days. Busy as he roams the parks with his troop and a football in tow, he has only just about time for a quick bite. Quality time can wait.

So, when N1 decided to skip the school daycare and stay home on his holiday, I decided to stay put too. Noble intentions. Ironically, little did I think about lunch that morning. This noodle cutlet was at the back of my mind, I guess, so apart from boiling a couple of potatoes when I sat to work, I did nothing in terms of cooking until almost the son shouted across from the TV “amma…. what’s for lunch ?”

  • What I liked the best about this cutlet is the idea of adding Pasta sauce, gives a distinct flavour
  • Used ‘Foodle’ noodles I had at hand
  • I don’t stock mayonnaise, so left it out
  • It’s an easy to make snack, boil only potato and the noodles
  • It’s a quick one
  • It’s a filling snack, served best either with ketchup or (next time!) with a spicy chutney

Note to self : Also roll in bread crumbs next time. Just a thought.

I served it for lunch, along with tiny, very German Semmel knödel (store-bought, recipe here) and a salad of red-radish and tomatoes.


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