Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry X'mas - Apple Torte with nuts, apricot & raisins

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X'mas this year has been very ordinary at the house. Yet also, it is our new born's first x'mas. Though most day was spent as a dull weekend lazing around and watching some movies, we finally ventured out in the evening for a ride. In the night I decided to bake myself some X'mas treat. Actually had been planning for a long time ( 3-4 days) but nothing was coming to my mind. Had scanned numerous books, sites and spoken to a dozen people who prided in the their baking. All of sudden, while surfing on Epicurious, I stumbled on this particular recipe for a Apple walnut torte. Decided there and then to make it however, with some variations. I have to admit, Epicurious is my favorite for baking recipes apart from joyofbaking. The recipe collection is huge and has some interesting things to try out.
Before I list what I made ....a Merry X'mas to each one of you. It may be coming a day late but hey! a wish is a wish.

Ingredients :
200 gm unsalted butter, softened up
2 cups sugar
3 Apples preferebly granny smith, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cored
1 cup refined flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
10 gm Raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 teaspoon walnut, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoon almonds, coarsely chopped
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 Dried Apricots, finely chopped
5 gm Cherries, candied, chopped coarsely
15 ml Whisky


1. Melt 50 gms of butter in a saucepan and sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar evenly over butter. Put the apples slices and cook over medium heat, turning apples occasionally, until sugar is caramelized and apples are tender and golden brown.

2. Butter a round baking dish and flout it. Arrange apples, cut sides down, in concentric circles in bottom of the round baking dish, then pour over any caramel from the pan.

3. Seive together flour, baking powder and cinnamon.

4. Cream the remaining butter in a bowl until creamy. Add sugar and beat to combine. Add egg and beat well.

5. Add in the almonds, walnuts, cherries, apricots and whisky. Mix in flour mixture until just combined (batter will be thick).

6. Pour batter over apples in the round baking dish and spread evenly. Bake at 250 deg F for 30 minutes.

7. Invert the baked torte on a cooling rack and turn it over so that the apples that were at the bottom are now on the top. Cool torte on a rack 30 minutes.

8. Cut into slices and serve.

Accompaniment : Vanilla Ice-Cream & apple sauce.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Carrot Rice ... doesn't get easier than this

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Saturdays are usually welcomed with trying out something new in the kitchen. However, this weekend has been different, infact, so was the last, and believe me so will the rest few be unless something spectacular happens to my 'Change-the-new-borns-nappy' mood. By the way, I'm desperately trying to do something with the dozens of nagpur oranges that people have gifted me over the last few days. Hyderabad is funny. Everytime, someone drops in to see the baby, there is a bag full of fruit that drops in my lap.
I got in some nice looking red carrot from the shop, hoping I'll ask my mom to make some yum! Gajjar Halwa, but everyone is so tired, the halwa is the last thing my mom would want to cook. So the poor gajjar were lying depressed in the fridge till I decided to take them out and make some express carrot rice, which is easier to make, healthier to eat and tastes great too. Infact a rice dish doesn't get easier than this, unless someone says khichadi :) ( never been a fan of the hospital like food).

For the Rice
Basmati Rice - 1 Cup
Water - 2 Cups
Salt - To Taste

Carrots, grated - 3 No.s
Onion, sliced - 1 No.
Garlic, minced - 2 Tsp
Bay Leaf - 2 No.s
Cinnamon Stick - 1 No.
Cloves - 2-3
Black Cardamom - 2 No.s
Red Chilli Powder - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Oil - 3 Tblsp

1. Cook the Basmati Rice. Let it cool.
2. Heat Oil in a wok. Add in the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon & black cardamom.
3. Add in the sliced onions and minced garlic. Fry till Onions turn translucent.
4. Add grated carrots. Cook for some time. Add in the turmeric powder and red chilli powder.
5. Mix in the rice. Cook for 5 minutes.
6. Serve hot with yoghurt.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Khaman ...A lot of us call it Dhokla

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First, what we call Dhokla all across India and other places is not dhokla ( I am referring to the yellow steamed cake). It is Khaman. Dhokla is something different, white in appearance as against Khaman which is yellow. Both are steamed gramflour cakes. In some areas, it is also called Khaman Dhokla ( yes both names together).
My 3 year stint in Vadodara, exposed me to this fact alongwith the elegance of Garba and appreciating Gujrati food. As with the rest of the country, this region is seeped in rich history and culture and is culturally vibrant place to be in. The food, predominantly vegetarian, is a blast of different flavors as one travels from one part of Gujrat to another, ranging from bland to sweet to absolute spicy stuff.
I tired my hand at some Khaman today....and that too not so traditionally in a microwave. Plan to make another batch tomorrow. The reason being that I had loads of sour yoghurt leftover.

For the Batter:
2 cups Bengal gram (Soaked Overnight or for 8 hrs)
2 tbsp rice ( soaked overnight or for 8 hrs)
1 cup sour yoghurt ( This is what motivated me to make this dish as I had lots leftover)
Salt to taste
1 Tsp ginger Paste
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 green chilies ( Finely chopped)
3 tsp sugar
4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp soda-bi-carbonate
For the Tempering:
A pinch of asafoetida (Hing)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
5-6 curry leaves
3 Green Chillies (Slit)
4 tbsp oil
For the Garnish :
2 Tsp Lemon Juice
2 tbsp grated coconut
Sprigs of Corriander

Method: To Make Batter:

  1. Grind the soaked Bengal Gram and rice into a paste in a blender with the sour yoghurt.
  2. Mix salt, turmeric powder and keep the batter aside for about 8 hours to ferment.
  3. When the mixture has fermented, add ground green chilies, ginger, sugar, lemon juice and soda-bi-carbonate to the batter and mix well.
To Make Dhokla:
  1. Grease a pan or microwaveable dish.
  2. Pour in the batter into the pan and microwave for 7 minutes with cover. Rest for a minute and open the lid of the pan.
  3. When all the dhoklas are prepared, cut them into square or diamond shapes.
  4. Heat oil in a pan, add ground asafoetida, mustard seeds, green chillies and curry leaves. Pour this seasoning on the dhoklas.
  5. Sprinkle some Lemon Juice on top.
  6. Garnish with grated coconut and corriander sprigs.
  7. Serve as a tea time snack.

1. The batter should be a bit thicker than a pakora batter. If not, add in a little water.
2. If dhokla are hard and not spongy. Microwave for another one minute.
3. Ideally steam the dhokla batter if you can.
4. One variation to try: Pour in half the mixture and steam/microwave for 3 minutes. Take out and layer the top with green mint chutney. Pour the remaining batter on top. Steam/Microwave again for 3 more minutes. The sandwich Khaman or Double Decker Khaman is ready.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Dish so Uncommon !! ( No recipes Dear ... Only Blabber)

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I'm sure a lot who came onto this post were looking for some out of the blue recipe for some out of the blue dish (Don't say I didn't warn you). Well, that will have to wait. I have one uncommon recipe for something that we usually throw away, but it will take some time before I try it out.
In this post, I invite comments from everyone who is visiting this blog, by trick or knowingly, to share the most uncommon dish ( Indian that is) that they have ever eaten or tasted. Also, what did they feel after having it.
Personally, the most uncommon Indian Dish that I have ever tasted, happens to be a dish made out ... hold your breath...Pea Skins, yup, pea skins, the same ones that we throw after having shelled peas. Also, these days, most of us buy frozen shelled peas, so we do not even see the pod. My grandmom used to make this dish and frankly it was tasty.
Go ahead .and let me know your adventures with gastronomy :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Pickled Carrot Relish

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I have been away for most of the time this month and no post got updated for more than 2 weeks. Well, the real reason for this was the visit of the stork to our household. Yes! we were blessed with a baby boy on 15th Dec'07 at 11:56 AM. Both Mother and child are OK and doing well. This birth completed our family and really tied me up. Since we planned to do it here itself in Hyderabad and not at either of our parents home, it meant that I would need to don another cap...that of being the mom-pop to our elder son. It was a real challenge and I am still grappling with it as I write. The first thing I cooked up after the birth was Poha for breakfast yesterday. Nothing fancy, no experiments, no presentation razzmatazz ...just plain, simple, tasty Poha ...err! the tasty word was added after I got a thumbs up from my mom, who's here taking care of Subha and the new kid. My elder son, as usual did not want anything to do with it and preferred to just drink milk.
Talking about posts, a real big thanks to Vegeyum, for posting my beet thing on her blog ( with some nice variations). It was great to read it in print. Actually, all credits to my wife for making it. This is her trademark recipe. I must say, vegeyum did a brilliant job with the photos. If anybody does not have an apetite, make them browse this site. The photos will surely work up anybody's apetite.
While I 'm thanking my wife for her variations, here's another of my wife's amazing creations. It is easy to make and really adds that zing to the everyday food. You can also have it as a dish.

Carrots, julienned - 2
Capsicum, julienned - 1
Onion Seeds or nigella seeds (Kalonji) - 2 Tsp
Mustard Oil - 10 ml
Mustard powder - 2 Tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) - A Pinch
Fenugreek seeds powder - 1/2 Tsp
Red Chilli Powder -2 Tsp
Salt - To Taste

1. Heat oil in a wok, add in the masalas and cook till done.
2. Blanch carrots and capsicum juliennes.
3. Add in the Capsicum and carrots to the oil and masala mixture. Add salt. Cook till done.
4. Serve Cold.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Olive stuffed Chicken

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Culinary experimentation is probably what drives me into the kitchen... though cannot practice it everyday. But time and again, these wierd thoughts do enter my mind to try out different things and some turn out good, some not do good. The key to it is to basically enjoy yourself and not get too critical about your creation. If you can dream it, you can do it.
Sometime back, I dreamt of trying out a olive stuffed chicken tikka. I still haven't got down to doing that, but I did something very similar. It came out good ( I liked the taste, and my wife the presentation). I'm posting it and will shortly get around to doing the tikkas too. Till then, try this one out, if you want to do something different.

2 Chicken Breasts
4 Tomatoes
12 Olives
4 Button Mushrooms
3 Tblsp Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Tsp Oregano
4 Tsp Soy Sauce
4 Tblsp Chilli Paste
3 Onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic chopped finely
2 Tsp crushed peppercorns
1 Tsp minced ginger
Salt - To Taste
For Stock:
1 Tblsp Oil
1 Carrot, roughly chopped
1 Bay leaf
1 Star Anise
2 Cloves
6 Peppercorns
4 Cups water

Method: Pre-Preparation:
1. Debone the chicken breasts. Keep the bones for the stock.
2. Make a concasse out of the tomatoes.
3. With the bones and the stock ingredients, make a chicken stock. Strain and keep.
4. Mince the mushrooms. Keep aside.

1. Make the Sauce for stuffing by heating the pan and adding the concassed tomatoes, chilli paste, mushroom mince, crushed peppercorns, oregano and cheese.
2. Slice the chicken breast halfway, so that it opens up into one large piece.
3. Flatten it more with a mallet, taking care that it doesn't break up.
4. Apply a spoonful of the sauce on the skin.

5. Layer the olives, and roll it up to form a kind of a swiss roll.
6. Tie it with a twine so that it doesnt open up. Further cover it with some clingwrap to seal it.
7. Keep it into the fridge for an hour.
8. Grease a baking pan. Fill it with some chopped garlic, onion and strained stock.
9. Take the rolled chicken breast out of the fridge. Take out the clingwrap and put it into the baking pan.
10. Bake till chicken is done. Take it out and cut the chicken into slices breadthwise.
11. Don't throw the pan juices and stock away.
12. Heat the leftover sauce. Add in the pan juices and stock. Add in the Soy Sauce and ginger. Bring to a boil.
13. Serve the chicken slices with Risotto or pasta or plain buttered rice with the sauce.

1. To make Stock: Heat oil in a crockpot, add in the spices and roughly chopped carrot. Stir for half a minute. Add in the trimmings and bones. Saute for a minute. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain.
2. An easy way out of the sauce is to substitute the concasse tomatoes and stuff with Ragu/Prego.

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