Sunday, December 26, 2010

Choco Peanut Butter Frosting for Dry Fruit Cake


Everyone is baking cakes, cookies and muffins. There is merriment everywhere whether they are celebrating Christmas or no. My blog was quite as I din't do any of it. Then today I found this in the drafts. No this was not to celebrate Christmas but to celebrate the cravings of a mother to be.

I made a basic dry fruit cake like here excluding the chocolate layer: Polka Dots Cake For The BC Fighters 
The Frosting is something new. I don't like rich frosted cakes. So most times I make cakes with fruit puree frosting or serve with compote. Since this one was for a special treat I decided to make a Choco Peanut butter frosting. 

Ingredients.

1 cup of pure peanut butter (Navadarshanam)
1/2 cup powder sugar
1/4 cup milk or cream
1/2 cup Cadbury's Cocoa powder

In a bowl add all ingredients and whisk till sugar dissolves. It is a lip smacking frosting. Pour it over a completely cooled cake.

I carried the frosting in a bottle and then dressed the cake just before cutting. The smile on the expectant mother's face was very rewarding.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Cheer for Everyone!!



Tonight, on the Christmas Eve,
Something makes me believe,                                                            
You get more, the more you give,
Happiness… So let's re-live,
Our moments… As we move on,
To step in a new horizon,
Let’s open our hearts,
To take a chance to re-start,
To share the love on our parts,
Just kick start and learn the art,
Don't expect…Just be there,
Show you care for your loved ones,
Show you're there, when they need...
Rise above caste and creed,
Rise above lust and greed,
And all that you disagreed,
Bring it on, be the light,
Make everything be alright,
So tonight, celebrate, Feel the joy, levitate,
As we wait… for the man,
With the white beard,
Riding sleigh pulled by reindeers,
He’ll be here… Three cheers!
So tonight, on the Christmas Eve,
What will you get, what will you give?

- By Nikhil Wange (musician+ more)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Jilebi Experiment



I used this recipe. I wanted to use what ever ingredients I had in the pantry for this experiment. I was not at all confident that Jilebi could be made so easily.

Though they turned out very crisp and was flat as the circles sat at the bottom of the frying pan, I still feel confident that I will improve my skills the next time.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Paneer Masala Sub Sandwich

 
Protein Packed Lunch

Last few weeks there was a conference to attend and some roaming around to be done between offices. Which meant I was eating out a lot. I did not have the slightest inclination to make lunch and carry along with me. On one such day I thought this Paneer Masala sub sandwich will be a quick thing to make and delicious treat for lunch. Packing it like a pro in a cling film added some glamor to this simply tasty sandwich, not that it needed it.

What I did was

Ingredients

2 sub breads
50 gms of paneer sliced into chunky strips
2 onions chopped rough
2 tomatoes quartered
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kitchen king masala
1 teaspoon coriander powder
salt to taste

Heat oil and crackle the mustard and cumin to fragrant stage. Fry the onion till pink. Turn on high heat and add the tomatoes. Fry till they meld in. Add the spice powder and salt, give a stir. Last add the paneer strips. Cook for 2-3 mins and put off  the heat. Cover and let all the flavors unify.

Now if you are eating right away slice through the middle and toast the sub breads. Fill them up will the Paneer masala. Take a bite or if its for lunch then pack it like I did in a cling film, twist the ends like a sweet so there is no leaking of the masala. Pack it in a carry bag with some tissue paper. You will need to wipe your mouth after the lipsmacking, won't you?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kacha KeLa ANi KeLphul


I have never cooked or tasted Oriya food, don't know how different it is from the Maharashtrian but this curry is inspired from here.

In Mumbai, in meat eating homes it is a tradition to bring home fresh Ladi-pav and Brun from the nearby bakery to celebrate a sunday with chicken / mutton curry. When we were still not a completely vegetarian family, 1/4 century ago, when Mom made the rare chicken curry in the afternoons it would be accompanied with rice roti and rice but in the evening, she would check with everyone naram pao or kadak pao? Then she'd total up and order me and my brother out sending us to the Irani Bakery. We would carry a big cloth bag for it and remind the guys at the bakery counter not to wrap the paos in paper. This kept them soft and sweat free.

Today's curry reminded me of those days. Now you will ask I should have gone down and bought some pao. The paos here are not authetic as in Mumbai but rather sweetish soft buns just shaped like pao. Next time I make this curry I am going to bake my own.

This curry is a worth the place of a sunday special. The tender vegetables are flavored robustly with the garlic, ginger and garam masala. The splash of lime make it finger licking fresh.

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients


1 cup segments of KeLphul / banana flower

1-2 cups Raw Banana, peeled and cubed
2 tomatoes chopped fine
2 small onions chopped fine
1 green chili
1/2 teaspoon garlic crushed
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoon oil
salt to taste.
2 teaspoon lime juice

First clean the KeLphul. Open the calyx and separate the flowers. Remove the stigma as seen in the above picture. Wash and pat dry.

Heat oil. Fry the cumin seeds till fragrant. Add the bay leaf. Now add the fine chopped onions. Fry till reddish. Add the tomatoes and green chili. Follow in with all the spices, turmeric, Kanda lasun chatni, crushed ginger and garam masala. Fry on high heat till oil is released. Now add the raw banana cubes. Mash the banana flowers in the mortar and pestle so as to tenderize it but do not make a paste. It should be coarse. Add the mashed flowers to the gravy and stir well on high. Now add about a glass and a little more of water. Cover and cook till raw banana is cooked and soft. The gravy would have thickened a bit. Salt it and stir. Let it cook for another 5 mins and put off the heat. Cover and let it cool for 10-15 mins. Lastly add the lime juice and give it a stir. 

We enjoyed this curry with rotli but next time it will be pao! The vegetarians will like it for the heartiness. Just warning you meat eaters that this is not a Vashat curry at all, yet delicious all the way!

P.S: Thank God I did not make a Thoran with it!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Khaja And Its Many Avatars



When I was a kid the only hotels rather eateries in Thal were Vilas's and that opposite the Marathi primary school. Nathuram, my grand aunt's brother doted over me and Neelam, we called him "Natya Baba". While our parents hated that he took us there to give us a treat, we actually enjoyed it. I had never tasted Khaja in Mumbai, so for me it had a special reference as a village sweet and vacations there.

This sweet was never ever tried at our home and I thought it must be a big deal to make it. Thanks to the blogging world we are preserving our heritage and rediscovering our sweet making skills as a society. Thank you generous Rak's for the Badusha tutorial. You inspired me to make it. Just the statement that "My mom makes very often,if some relatives visit us or if we were visiting them,then she will make this in a jiffy" got me going.

What is interesting is how this same recipe is used to make a sweet with different name in different states in India is interesting and each one shapes them uniquely. 

The Khaja is round doughnut like slightly smaller than a medu vada. It has a hole in the center and the sugar syrup coating is crystalline white. Here I have used the same sugar syrup for all the types though. Khaja is popular in the northern and central region of India.

The Tosha is oblong in shape and I learnt about it when we started frequenting Jhama's the Shindhi sweet specialists in Chembur.

Badusha was on the menu of most Thali meals in Blr at work and I'd wonder what it was. One fine day I did try it and exclaimed that it is Khaja of course from my childhood. Badusha is a little more pretty than the Khaja or Tosha when it is made with the frill like we do for the Karanji. The simpler or hurried Badusha is just a ball pressed like a peda with a small crater in the center.

By any name it is a sweet with mild sugar notes, laced with ghee layers. The crunchiness enscones the flaky yet soft insides. The clove tucked in it imparts a nice spice fragrance.

Ingredients

1.5 cups Maida/All purpose flour
1/4 cup Ghee
1/8 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1.5 teaspoon Curd
1/2 teaspoon Eno /fruit salt
(OR any leavening agent like 2 pinches soda bicarb or 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.)
1/4 cup Water
Oil for deep frying
For Syrup:
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 Water
1/4 teaspoon Cardamom powder
a squeeze of Lemon Juice

In a big bowl measure out the all purpose flour. Add the sugar and leavening agent, ghee and oil. Rub in the fat into the flour to get a crumble. Add the curd. Mix. Lastly add the water and knead the dough into a smooth ball. Keep aside till you get the syrup ready.

In a saucepan add sugar and water and boil till you get one string consistency syrup. Squeeze some lime to prevent crystallization of sugar. Finally put off the heat and mix in the ground cardamom powder.

Divide the dough into about a dozen balls. Flatten the ball into a disc and pinch the edges thiner between your thumb and first finger. Give it a nice frill like you do for a Karanji. Dress it up by inserting a clove in the center. Keep aside.

For the Tosha roll the ball into an oblong between your palms. Flatten the end by tapping on the counter.


The Khaja is the simplest flatten the dough ball and with you thumb make a hole in the middle.


If you just flatten into disc and create a slight depression in the center like a little crater it is a design for a simple Badusha.


Now take enough oil and heat on medium. Fry all the shapes on medium till golden and flaky. You will know its flaky as it will pop a crease on the surface.


Lastly dip it in the sugar syrup to glaze it. Remove one by one on a serving plate. Let it cool into a crunchy sweet and flaky delight inside.

I loved making this recipe and it lives up to the promise of cooking it up in a jiffy give it a try, you must!

Badusha goes to Blog Bites 9: The Holiday Buffet hosted by Nupur

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mogri nu Shaak


I would attribute my families love for trying new vegetables to our neighborhood Bora Bazaar in Fort, Mumbai as much as to our neighbors, the Rajputs.

Mogri was introduced to us by Kaki, on one of those days when the fresh vegetables were brought in Kavads by the Vasaikars. This was 25yrs ago. It is a rarity to see those scenes now in the midst of Mumbai. My Mom came home with a huge mound of beans. She was so excited and told us that they were not tender Farasbi/ French beans but Radish pods! Radish Pods we gasped! Had anyone seen Radish pods! 

I felt the same excitement and it was the same scene flash forward 25 yrs, in Total Mall, Blr. Me and Seema had lunch there and were shopping for green groceries. We spotted this really tender mound of beans. Both of us fascinated by its freshness and tenderness. On reading the name plate which said "Mungori" I almost exclaimed to her that these were indeed Mogri in Gujarati!

I picked carefully a 1/4 kg and stocked it up for a weekend meal. This recipe I am sharing here is my own though I did research for it on the net and found these two.

Moongre ki subzi A Mad Tea Party

I decided to do it my own way. Taking a clue from Anitha I decided to make it less oogra. I like new flavors but not strong ones. I was playing safe as I had no memory of the taste from the past.

So here is my intuitive twist. I just read that old comment on that post and may be Anita might find this twist a way to lure that anti oogra camp and actually win them over. 

Ingredients

1/4 kg Mogri
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 small potato
1 tablespoon roasted peanut powder
2 teaspoons grated dry coconut
handful of chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon oil

Heat oil in the wok. Add cumin and mustard seeds. Just as they crackle add the broken and  washed Mogri. The pungency of the Mogri will hit your nose. Then grate the small potato into nice shreds to compliment the beans and add to the wok. Add the Kanda Lasun chatni, turmeric powder. Cover and cook for a while. Sprinkle the salt and cover. Let it cook in the juices. The color of the beans gets denser on cooking. Once half done add the peanut powder and grate the dry coconut over it, about 2 teaspoons. Stir and mix. Let the Shaak cook for another 5 mins till the potato is cooked. Now mix in the cilantro. Switch of the heat. 

Meanwhile roll out thin rotlis and puff them up to perfection on the open flame. Serve hot with Mogri nu Shaak. I bet you are going to love it for its fresh flavors. What does it taste like? The texture is like mature spring onions, sharp taste yet masked a lot by the spicing and potato. The potato shreds go so well with the broken pods. My proportions are light but if you prefer more spice then up the amount of Kanda lasun chatni, we don't have a stomach for it.

This weekend I am experimenting with new ingredients and I am excited about sharing here, keep a watch. Happy weekend!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nellikayi Chitranna



Nellikayi Chitranna a wellness shot for the season
Amlaki/ Amla/ Avala/ Nellikayi/ Indian Gooseberry  is that potent fruit that is revered in Ayurved, that can be used for general wellness and also to cure many health problems. Incase you already know go ahead and try this recipe. If you don't loose your ignorance here.
source: http://www.tropicalfruitandveg.co.uk
I hate to go to the doctors and for small ailments I never do take treatment. Allopathy for me is a need only for acute illnesses and overnight cures. For chronic ailments my choice is Homeopathy and for wellness it is our own Ayurved and all allied sciences and therapies. I owe no loyalty to any single pathy. I choose the one most needed depending on the ailment, symptom and timeline I want it cured.

I am fortunate that I know my body pretty well and have been fortunate that my response to my body is careful and quick and have not gone to a doctor in years for treatment except for a recent full body check up. Also I do not trust doctors easily. In Blr I don't have a doctor at all, I have been here long enough and have been able to maintain my health purely on my observation of the reactions of my body and curing the  symptoms myself with a little knowledge of homeopathy that I have. 

Nellikayi Chitranna is a recipe for wellness especially for the winters. My way of making this special rice with Amla is using it raw. Raw is always better though Amla retains its goodness on cooking and preservations too. In Mumbai we either ate raw Amla or as supari or sometimes as a sherbet. Its only after coming to Blr I learnt you could include it in your cooking. So instead of popping pills for fever, cold and stuff that accompanies the cold season I have started making it a habit to make Nellikayi Chitranna once a week at our home. 

Ingredients
0.5 cup grated Amla
1 teaspoon urad dal
0.5 teaspoon mustard seeds
few curry leaves
1 teaspoon mashed ginger
2 green chilies or more
handful of cilantro
1 table spoon oil
1 cup raw rice
0.25 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ghee
salt to taste

First in a pressure cooker put the rice and wash it well. Now add the turmeric powder, salt and ghee, top up with 2.5 cups water . Close the lid and cook for 2 whistles. Let is cool. Pour out the rice into a big bowl and fluff it up with a fork. 
Then prepare the ogarane/ phodni/ tadka. In a tadka bowl heat the oil, fry the urad dal till golden, splutter the mustard seeds, add the curry leaves, green chili and ginger, finally add the grated gooseberry. Stir once and immediately pour this over the rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Mix well with a fork.

Serve it immediately or enjoy it later. It still tastes amazing. This raw grated Amla imparts it flavor, slightly bitter  at the tip of the tongue but a delayed sweet flavor in the back of your mouth is what the rice is all about. Enjoy and stay healthy with Nellikayi Chitranna or Gooseberry Fluffy rice if translated!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Rajasthani Gajak


Khaugiri you are right it is Rajasthani Gajak! Yay!! 

Rajasthani Gajak is not your chikki. It is as thin as paper and only a single layer of sesame seed embedded in the crystalized candied sugar! It is the elite class of Indian candy flavoured with cardamom powder and thin slices of nuts like almond and pista bejewelling it. Wonderful treat for the winter from the desert of Rajasthan and can be placed on an elevated place among desserts.
___________________________________________________________



Ramya and Manasi  you are spot on, it is an ipod dock with a FM radio! 


You guessed it right!! Congrats to KhaugiriRamya and Manasi !!!


Thank you everyone for playing along.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Guesses...Come On... Tell me...


This is a gift from a dear friend Gurunath Kulkarni. Anyone knows what it is called? It hails from the deserts, pun intended!
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Guess what this is? Has anyone brought home something so garish just because it cost less than a sober color. It does not go with anything else at home, our's is an almost ethnic home!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Batate Song

Why is this called a song? Is it a gana or is it pretending (Marathi : song). None. It is a very rustic flavor, appeals to the heart. It compliments a very simple meal like Khichadi. My tray was divine with this trio of Batate Song, Khichadi and Shevayi Kheer.

Ashwini has been away very long but her blog is still an inspiration. Her pictures are so alluring. This Batate song had first attracted me in her post, A 'song' for JFI Chillies.

Then recently it made an appearance again on   Aayi's recipes Potato in coconut curry(Batate Song)

On one Sunday this became our meal.

This goes to One hot stove's Blog Bites 9: The Holiday Buffet 
Ingredients

2-3 Boiled potatoes
1 onion diced fine
2 teaspoon oil
salt to taste

The masala
3-4 red Byadgi chilies
1 marble sized ball of tamarind
1-2 tablespoon fresh grated coconut

Dry roasted chilies and coconut till nutty in the wok. Then ground the chilies, tamarind and coconut with a little water into a paste.

Then fried the onions till pinkish and slightly caramelizing. Add the boiled potatoes at this point. I skinned and cubed them. Salt the dish. Cover and cook for 5 mins. Then add the masala and cook for another 5-7 mins. It is ready to serve. 

When using bolied potatoes make sure you use well cooked ones. Since we use tamarind in the masala paste the potato cubes shrink and become tight. Cooking them further after adding the tamarind paste is not possible. Goes well with a maincourse that is bland and makes even a simple khichadi enjoyable with Batate Song for company.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Shevayi Kheer

Shevayi Kheer, Khichadi 
and something something (I plan to send as an event entry...)

Shevayi Kheer, we love it but in our joint family we rarely made it for Naivedya, don't know why? While we lived in Tata Colony in Chembur one of Mothe Baba's colleagues always sent over a large glass bowl of Sheer Kurma on the occassion of Id. It is the samething you will agree but may be richer. Some how only Mothe Baba ate it none of us ever tasted it. As kids we were pretty finicky about our food if we were not introduced to it at home first. I think most times we would make Sweet Shevayi for Holi as is tradition in Colaba, will talk about it some time later.

I think it is only me who started making Shevayi kheer in the family. BTW in my family we never were kheer lovers. I can't say that now as I am in Payasam country. There is a payasam for every occassion here  in the  south. Here is where my love for Shevayi kheer blossomed I must say. Sapna my young SIL seems to think I love it a lot so she makes it without fail when I visit home. Yes this week I was in Mumbai and she made it yet again. Well I am now bored of it and promise not to make it anytime soon. Before going home I had made it for Dad on Dasara day. I wanted it to have a creamy consistency and color. I achived the consistency well but when I tried using jaggery to give it the extra special color the milk split :P :(

So there was Shevayi kheer the next sunday too just to assure myself that I am capable of making a lipsmaking kheer. Don't believe me then go try it, here is the recipe. Oh there are many on the net but won't you try mine?

Ingredients

1/2 cup Roasted Shev
1 litre milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ghee
4-5 cardamoms
handful cashew nuts
handful golden raisins

First in a large heavy bottom vessel fry the dry fruits in ghee. Remove and keep aside.

Roast the shev in the same ghee till it is darker shade than the bought out. Don't char it though. Now add the milk and let the shevayi cook till soft. Keep stirring and keep a watch on the milk to avoid spill over. Pick up the shevayi on the spoon and press a few strands with your fingers to ensure they are completely cooked. The milk would have thickened quite a bit. Boil further till it coats the back of the spoon inserted in it. It should be lucious. Now add the sugar and let it dissolve. Keep stirring to avoid lumping at the bottom. 

Finally add the dryfruits and pounded cardamom seeds, mix well. Serve in a colorful bowl to add a festive cheer to it as this is a white dessert Slurp it up in unison with friends and family, and celebrate the season.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Shimla Mirch Patal Bhaaji

A lunch of Shimla Mirchi Patal Bhaaji, Poli, Phanas Ambode, Karlyachya Kachrya

I was quite bored with the coconut masalas and curd based gravies. It was one of those days you wonder what will make you like the food you cook. Especially when you have to cook small quantities. Our everyday food is really simple with no accompaniments like you see here of Phanas Ambode or Karlyachya Kachrya. It is always just plain chapati bhaaji or Dal rice, both together decorates our plates only on the weekend. Most times when I cook a full meal it is for both times morning and evening. It is such a pain cooking for 2 people who eat like 1.5 people on an average day!

This bhaaji is one we can actually make in a quantity one needs with just 1 or two Shimla Mirch and a Potato. 

Ingredients

2 Shimla Mirch/ Capsicum
2 boiled potatoes
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon red chili powder
0.5 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
0.5 teaspoon amchur powder
salt to taste.
pinch of sugar

Heat oil and splutter mustard seeds. Add the capsicum and fry for two mins. In the mini grinder jar add sesame seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and give it a whiz just to crush them but not too fine. Add this masala to the bhaaji. Fry to make it aromatic. Add the red chili powder and turmeric.

Now add the boiled potatoes. Crush with the back of the spoon. Add water to it and let the bhaaji simmer for 10 mins. Once it all comes together and the bhaaji looks thick add the amchur powder and  salt. Balance the tang with a pinch of sugar.

This bhaaji goes best with any type of rotis.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Polka Dots Cake For The BC Fighters

To cheer the two fighters V Aunty and P Aunty. One fighting for last 8 months and other for last 2 months. Women who have the attitude to beat the Bad C, this one is for you!

This Sunday evening was planned to be a counseling session for P aunty by V aunty. I had promised to pick up V aunty from her home. So I decided to bake something to cheer them up. Something high protien and with a Wow factor.

These two women have pampered me many times. One rushing to feed me breakfast at 7 am with hot Jackfruit leaf idlis and packing special treats in her hand bag and handing them out to me in unexpected places. The other has cooked hot meals many a times for me when I have visited her on a whim. I would do anything to make them gleeful. Both have been mentioned many times on this blog.

I had seen many of the bloggers create beautiful upside down cakes

and Saee's Sunny side up that I keep dreaming about !

OK so I fell for the upside down thing. I am a little scared of using fresh fruits when I am presenting a cake to someone lest it is not consumed when fresh. Dried Anjeer/ Figs in my pantry sounded purffecto!

I designed my cake in my mind like a true genious! It will be Polka dots when upside down. On cutting it will show the marble effect of chocolate and out will fall the richness of dryfruits...

So I went and pulled out all my dryfruits stock. The figs were submerged into the water while I did other things. The butter was kept out to be in semi molten state since last night so that I could rub it into the flour. 

Oops let me tell you what you should keep ready before we proceed coz I know you are baking with me after drooling at the pictures.

Ingredients

14 roundels of dried figs/ Anjeer
1 cup all purpose flour/ maida
1 cup of almond flour (homemade)
1/8 cup of coarse ground pista
1/4 cup Cadbury's cocoa powder
5 black date chopped fine
handful of golden raisins
50gms of Amul butter
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk approximately
1 inches of cinnamon bark
2-3 cloves
2 cardamoms
3/4 cup sugar 

First grind sugar along with the spices, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms to a fine powder. Keep aside. 

Then prepare the tin. I used 5 inch hexagon. Grease with butter and dust with flour. Tap the upside down lightly over your mixing bowl to remove excess flour. Set aside.

Before starting to mix the batter. Switch on th oven and preheat it at 180 degree celcius. You will need 15 mins to mix the two batters. Meawhile the oven will be ready to take the cake in its womb.

Now take 2 mixing bowls. One for chocolate batter the other for white batter. 

First in the Chocolate batter bowl put the almond flour, coarse pista powder, chopped dates, cocoa powder, raisins. Add 1 teaspoon baking powder. Now scrape out about 10 gms of butter into it. Rub the butter into the mix. Finally add 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup above sugar n spice powder. Mix well and swiftly. To get a slighty frothy choco dryfruit mix. Keep aside.

In a different mixing bowl add the flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 cup sugar n spice powder. Rub in 40 gms of butter. This will make the cake really light and fluffy. Mix swiftly while you add the milk. You may use up 3/4 cup of milk and need a little more. Since this is flour batter you will need to make sure the consistency of the batter is foldable. That means the batter must fall in folds when dropped from slight height into the mixing bowl.

Remember we had soaked the figs in water only till your batters get ready. Remove them from water and line the up at the bottom of the pan. Now pour the white batter first. spread it evenly with a spatula. Then pour the chocolate batter over it. Swirl a knife in the batter to give it a marble effect when baked.

Now is the time for the cake to go into the oven. In about 10 mins time I just checked the cake and saw that it had already formed a crust but was jiggly inside. I inserted a knife and it came out with powdery white tip and gooey chocolate. From my experience in baking I thought it smart to cover the cake tin loosely with aluminium foil. Then it took almost 25 mins to bake till inserted knife came out clean.

After cooling it for 5 mins I turned the cake out onto a colorful tray. Let it cool and then covered with the same foil tightly and draped a nice little napkin over it and carried it over like a buttler to V aunty's home. This one went to V aunty and P aunty got one shapped like a loaf as there are more people in her home.

After delivering the cake at V aunty's and picking her up we drove to P aunty's. After the intial akward talks and seriousness we were enjoying ourselves. While I had baked the cakes Dad had made our famous Rolled and sliced Kothimbir Vadi. He had steamed the rolls which we carried over and shallow fried at P aunty's  to serve hot of the tava.

I felt happy both women felt a little lighter sharing their experiences with each other. My heart was smiling inside to see the tensions diffused for just a while.

Request to all Ladies: 
Get the Mamogram done the moment you find an unusual lump in the breast, even if it is not painful or if you find any of these symptons. Irrespective of your age. Early diagnosis will give better control over Breast Cancer. It has more chances of cure than internal cancers. Be prepared if you have to fight it than being ignorant about it because it is very common.

Request to the Men:
Remind the ladies in your life, wife, mother, sister, sister-in-law to check periodically. Educate them if they are not aware. You are the Men of today, show you are sensitive to the ladies in your life.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mohanthal


I love my Mohanthal crisp with lots of ghee. That is how Rajput Kaki, my neighbor aunty would make it. I am so tired of the dry fruits we eat all the time, cashew is added to everything sweet. Almonds go on almost all cakes and barfis. So this time I went all rustic with Kharbooz (Melon) seeds and Khus Khus (poppy) seeds to add the extra crunch. 

On the Dasara morning I made shevayi kheer but this time I experimented with jaggery and the milk split. So I could not share it with my neighbors. Then in the evening I decided to make this Mohanthal just for my neighbors. It is quick and easy. Give it a try you might want to make it your pantry staple as it used to be in my home when we were a home full of hungry children and as it is in many Gujarati homes.

Here is what you will need.

Ingredients

1 cup besan/ chickpea flour
1/2 cup ghee
1 tablespoon khus khus
1 tablespoon Kharbooz (melon) seeds
1 cup gul/ jaggery
0.5 cup water

First in a vessel add jaggery and water. Boil it to get a syrup. Put off heat and keep aside.

Then in a wok heat the ghee. When its completely molten add the besan and roast till you get a nutty flavor. The golden hues will tell you that it is cooked. Put a drop on a plate let is cool and taste it. It should not have even slightly bitter taste. If it does not taste bitter then it is cooked properly. Lastly add the Khuskhus and Kharbooz seeds. Give it a stir. The hot ghee will crispen it and bring out the flavors too.

In between grease a plate with oil or ghee and keep it ready for moulding the Mohanthal.

Now add the jaggery syrup to besan and keep stirring till it all comes together as a lump. Stop at this point and pour it out into the greased plate. Let is cool for 10 mins. Then cut out squares like seen in the picture. If the Mohanthal cools completely you will not be able to cut out neat pieces so you need to score while the mixture is still warm.

Once cooled completely separate out each piece and pack into gift boxes. A good piece of Mohanthal is slightly crunchy and lot crumbly. The crunch is dual from the jaggery syrup and the seeds.Very rustic.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Life is a mixed bag...

 Steal the moments from time...

Today was an unusual day. How could I sleep without documenting it.

Yesterday I had left the power chord of my laptop at a different office a friend collected it for me. She called me up this morning and asked to pick it up. It was a wake up call for me. It was 6.30 am and I was still fast asleep (I am a early riser remember). I jumped out of bed and assured her I would reach in time.It was a lovely cool Blr morning. A nice drive later I was the first to reach there. So instead of waiting in the claustrophobic office I decided to go to the terrace. This was the terrace where I loved to have my morning tea when I first came to Blr. It once upon a time had amazing views. You just had to look down and enjoy the city's green cover. It is vanishing. Before I loose it I took the first picture. Here is what the demanding needs of a growing population has done to good old Bangalore, that boasted of a lone good road named after the Mahatma who resides on the 500 rupee note. 


On my way back I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at Adiga's next door to my office. As I was just about to start working on something important my friend called up. 

After a cursory "Kashi aahes?" She started cribbing about a choice she had made. She was trying to break the mould she herself had set. In an otherwise perfectly happy life personal aspirations were pushing up their head. If I was in her situation I would not have made life difficult for myself. I was affected because I am so involved in my loved ones. I have decided to recieve phone calls of a certain pattern post office hours.

Another call shocked me informing me of a family friend's critical illness. She and the family had drawn into a shell. We are pretty close and we were not part of this major event in their life! I was shocked. Only to know later today why we were in the dark.

Then I got busy and all of a sudden I realized it was lunch time. Some of my team members were deciding on a venue for an eat out. My friend Seema told the gang she would not go without me! Some one told me about it and I felt special! 

After the two phone calls I was quite pensive and reflecting on life while working at my desk quitely. So when I got to know about the lunch out I decided to take back home my lunch box. I definitely needed a change.

We had a gregarious time together at Little Italy near Forum. Each one of us ordered what we wanted and then all of us wanted to dig into each other's plate. Amidst a lot of laughter and teasing we ate our fill of garlic herb bread, various pastas, pizzas and finally concluded with a dessert which we found unusual on the menu. It is called something like chocolate cake with vanilla icecream and sizzling chocolate sauce !!! We dug into it all of us!!! Plus this is an all vegetarian place, so it gets a big thumbs up from us!!!

video

Can you smell the caramelizing chocolate sauce?? :P

I attended all the scheduled and unscheduled calls and meetings the rest of the afternoon and then made up my mind to visit the friends mentioned above.On the way at a signal a helpless person knocked on the car window. I was busy on the phone but quickly managed to hand out the packed lunch which I had left untouched in the afternoon and would have gone back home. Dad had cooked for me in the morning and taking it back would have upset him. I muttered to myself, "Dane dane pe likha hai khanewale ka naam!"

As I rang the bell, Aunty opened the door, she looked pale and was wearing a skull cap. I almost hugged her and was desperately holding back my tears. Instead she assured me that she was getting better and stronger. I refused to talk to Uncle for not telling us about this. Then he disclosed something. I felt so ashamed of myself. The last time he had visited my home, it was to tell us about Aunty's illness! However since Dad and me were quarreling about some petty issue. He did not tell us about it and returned home dejected. I appologized for it.

However see the spirit of this Aunty, she served me Bisibele bhaat as is her tradition not to let anyone leave her home without eating something. I was touched and as I usually do I bowed my head in front of the Lord before saying goodbye but this time prayed for her speedy recovery and strength. I touched their feet as I always do and finally I could not stop myself, I hugged and gave her a kiss.

In a single day I understood that Life is a mixed bag. I however would like to steal my moments with all the people who mean a lot in my life.



to be with your loved ones...
(In this pic the monkeys are huddling together, that is obvious. Look closely there is a baby in the middle they are trying to protect from us. This pic was taken at Nandi hills. This behaviour clearly indicates they have experienced loss.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wonderful Navratri & Dasara

 Pancha bhog for my Durga Mata
(Authentic Bengali, the goddess face, the dish and bowl are souvenirs from Kaalighat and the sweets from K.C. Das)

All of last week I was planning to visit one of the Durga Puja Pandals in Blr. Sayantani's post was a motivation for me to go to Kormangala for a dekho.

Finally I did make it today. It was a beautiful puja with the Mahishasur Mardini in the center. There were 4 other idols flanking on the sides of which I could recognize only Ganpati. We reached there sometime after noon and a pushpanjali was being offered in the midst of chanting of a stotra. The mantra/ stotra were being sung to the tune of Rabindra sangeet. It was a very soothing experience, a huge crowd bowing their heads in front of the towering idols on the stage was a moment of connection to the divine. In spite of the Bengali people being away from their home they were here to pay their respects. Most people looked on mesmerized, I was trying to read what different people where thinking when they were praying. One thing I was observing whatever the child in them was demanding for the Shakti Maa the expression on their face was of submissions.

As we stepped out of the hall we saw there were many shops set up selling food right from aloor dum and luchi to Kathi rolls, you had Sarathi, Bangaliyana to Nizam there. I am a wimp when it comes to eating out at mass production area like these stalls. So I almost went to buy something and came back. There was a bhog ticket available and people were lined up but we decided not to go. Instead we lunched at Mast Kalandar which is located further down on the 80 ft road. Our order consisted of Dasara Combo of Alur dum, ajwain puri, matar puri, dal tadka, mutter paneer kaju makhana, salad, sweet curd, Rajbhog and Mutter Paneer pulao and an extra Aloo do pyaza paratha. 

While coming back home we craved for more Bengali sweets so we picked up 5 varieties for the two of us.   On returning home I promptly offered it to the Durga Mata I have at home and settled done to feast on them. That is the panchabhog you see here. Instead of a sugar high I was completely doped and needed an immediate snooze.
The Kormangala Bengali Puja opposite Prasanna Ganesha temple on 80 ft road.

Before going to Kormangala puja I went to our Brahmachaitanya temple as it is Ayudh Puja here today. While talking to one of our friends there he asked me, "Why are you going to a Bengali Puja?" I told him because I've never experienced it.

 
Navaratri puja set up at Shree Brahmachaitanya Mandir in all the colors of the South Indian tradition.

  Even the city's helpers do a ayudh puja!

When I came back home I was tracing back memories of the Navratri celebrations in Fort. This is the period when you have the mid term exams coming up just before Diwali vacation so I have never attended the Ghatasthapana in Thal. The worshiping of the power of a women in the divine form is as diverse  and colorful as the Indian people. Coming to think of it. I always associate this celebration of Shakti pooja in my mind with Gujarati traditions. In that sense a part of me is Gujarati.

Dad and me got talking about the celebration in Maruti Lane, Fort, Mumbai where a huge shamiyana was put in front of our building and right from Ghatasthapana to Kojagiri it stayed there. It was always Navratri celebration first and culminated with a Homa-Havan on Kojagiri day. 

It was nights of sneaking down to play garba and dandiya. When we would invite troupes for fancy dress dandiya dancers. It was hilarious to see Alexander, Krishna, Mirabai and Africans playing dandiya together.  It meant nights of talent shows for all age groups. Of being the first to check out the flower decoration done by Neeru aunty for Mataji ni Wadi. Most evenings one of our Gujarati neighbors would invite Mom for garba and haldi kumkum in their homes, I would like many other girls tag along with Mom. We would come back with little glass bowls or katoris filled with prasad, a gift from the host. 

The announcement of the aarti "Amba Ma ni aarti maate baddha niche aavjo" made us dump the books and race down  while shouting back telling parents we will come back to finish the homework. Along the Aarti Jai Om Jai Om Maa Jagadambe  we sang. What was amazing is the whole crowd touched the person in front of her/ him like  in a game of dominoes till the person who held the aarti thali. It was a human contact chain or rather a rosette. Mohanthal was always the prasad for everyone at the end of it. Most times when we were not allowed to go  down when Amba Maa was moved back into the temple on the last day at 3 am in the morning with chanting of Jai Ambe Jai Bhavani! Jai Ambe Jai Bhavani!! Jai Ambe Jai Bhavani,!!! Jai Ambe Jai Bhavani!!!! Jai Ambe Jai Bhavani!!!!!  I would wake up to chant from my third floor window sitting up in bed. It was an amazing time, I still recollect very vividly.

Listen to this fabulous Garba geet there are many new cover versions of it but this is closest to the traditional one I have heard as a kid growing up in the heart of Mumbai. With that I wish Shubha Dasara!! to all my readers and their families.
Watch the guy swinging the cymbals

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fire in the vicinity

Shot from my window, am keeping out of their way while most like to be onlooker at close. 
Idiots! when will they understand. Move out off the way~~~

There was a short circuit in the lane an hour ago that caused a fire in the basement of a commercial building. As I reached home common sense told me that the car had to be parked far away so that the fire engines can move with ease. I don't know how people can be so stupid, the people are not moving their vehicles to vacate the lanes for the free movement of the fire engines. Who should teach them common sense!

Till now one engine went back and one more has come in. In all 3 fire engines, it is still not under complete control. The electrical fire has been put off but the off shoots that ignited bales of paper and plastic sheets is causing caustic fumes. The neighborhood is shaken and awaiting to hear from the Head fireman that all is safe.

This Friday night has brought in a scare.

Update

The fire was doused completely after 2.5hrs of fire fighting. I have seen firefighting and life saving being carried out in Mumbai and for the first time I saw it in Blr. This was a small fire yet it took 4 fire engines and 2 water tankers to get control besides 10s of firemen. Sorry to say I found they lacked skill! The seemed lousy! Many of them were entering the basement without proper equipment and coming out coughing immediately. Heroism is not enough in such situations. There has to be good range of equipments, masks and whatever it may take to control the fire. The men lacked technique too. Instead of pulling down one of the walls to provide ventillation for the fumes (This is what I have studied as a student of Environmental Technology) these men prefered to risk their life and enter the almost dungeon like basement without masks!

It gave me a heartache to see the fire took so long to get control and to get put off completely. The equipment available is not latest forget being top class. The Fire engines itself were not well maintained, the way I have seen in Mumbai. It is a sad state of affairs.

It is the Lord's blessing that the losses were only material.

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