Sunday, December 25, 2011

A bountiful of Christmas wishes with Bounties

If you like Bounty, you will love these. :) Christmas is a time to relax, spend time with loved ones, catching up with old friends and reminisce good old times. Bounty is one of my favourite childhood chocolate bars and they are perfect to be served on occasions like Christmas and Valentine's Day. It is eggfree, gluten-free and you don't need an oven to make this. Even people who may not love bounty will be blown away by these homemade bounty balls. I could not stop licking the spoon and my fingers, while I was making these. If you want to shine with a recipe, this is it. :) And with this post, I want to wish you, one and all, a very merry Christmas!

200 g desiccated coconut flakes
3/4 cup fresh heavy cream (35-40 %)
50 g butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup icing sugar

150-200 g semisweet chocolate

In a large cooking pot, melt the butter at below medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the cream, maple syrup and sieve the icing sugar. Mix well and cook at medium heat, stirring in between, for about 6-8 minutes till the mixture thickens. Then add the dry coconut flakes and mix well for a couple of minutes till it is really thick firm and then take the cooking pot away from the stove. Allow to cool. When it has cooled down, cool enough for you to handle the mixture with your hands, take one tablespoon of the mixture and place it on a cool parchment paper or shape into small balls, and place them on parchment paper over a steel sheet. Allow the bounty balls to cool and stiffen for minimum one hour before coating them with chocolate. I put them in the refrigerator overnight to set.

Melt the semisweet chocolate over a hot-water bath or in microwave. Before melting, chop the chocolate evenly. Bring 1 inch of water to boil in a cooking pot, and place a heat-proof bowl over it. Make sure there are no water stains in the glass bowl it has to be completely dry, and the bottom should not touch the water beneath. Place the chopped chocolates in a glass bowl and let it melt. Melt the chocolate over low heat, and while melting over hot-water bath, stir frequently, until the chocolate has melted. If you melt them in the microwave, follow the same instructions. Chop the chocolates evenly and heat them in the microwave. If you heat the chocolate in the microwave, it would be a good idea to not heat all the chocolate at once. Heat the chocolate in two batches. Take the chocolate out in between and stir. Stick a tooth pick in the bounty balls and then coat with chocolate, by dipping the balls in the melted chocolate and place them back on parchment/bakery paper. Coat all the Bounty balls and let them cool and stiffen before refrigeration. Keep these goodies in the fridge and serve them cool. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Typically the winter season is a depressing one for me, with nothing much to look forward to, except the Christmas holiday, but that too passes away as quickly as it comes. Luckily this winter has not been so severe and in the blogosphere there are always some fun and eventful happenings that keeps you upbeat and on your toes. Even if you don't win a give-away, you always win a few friends. The whole experience of participating and interacting with other bloggers and readers from keeps you in good, cheerful spirit. 

Although blogging can be addictive, it has turned out to be a rewarding learning experience for me in many aspects. Like many others in the blogosphere, ever since starting this blog, I have tried my hands at making some recipes and combinations that I otherwise would not have thought of or cared much for. I have even started to show some interest in learning some traditional recipes and methods from my mother, that I hadn't earlier. While some experiments go terribly wrong and the food goes wasted, leaving you in a state of discouragement and guilt, other experiments go extremely well, making you feel on top of the world.
My most recent experiment is Tiramisu, which had been on my mind for a couple of months now but for some reason I kept postponing it. This one needs no introduction, I think. You have probably seen and read about it in umpteenth food magazines, blogs, food programmes etc. This is a classic dessert but one that I have never tasted before. Tiramisu literally means "pick me up" in Italian, supposedly from the kick you get from all the caffeine in the coffee and the cocoa powder.

I was not too keen on trying the recipes that call for using raw eggs in the cream, so I finally made up my mind on Carminantonio Iannaccon's recipe. Since Carminantonio is an Italian and a chef, and this recipe was posted in Washington Post and featured in the"Daring Baker's Challenge" last year, I felt this recipe was a safe bet. It was much easier to make tiramisu than I had thought. The most difficult and brutal part of making it was to wait for it to set. I started making the zabaglione and the pastry cream on Monday and let it get chilled overnight. Made the whipped cream and assembled the tiramisu on Tuesday and then put it back in the fridge to set overnight. I got to eat it first for breakfast today, as I could not hold myself anymore. :) The tiramisu was very creamy and spongy and tasted quite refreshing mostly from the lemon. Unfortunately, the tiramisu started to melt when I was taking pictures.
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup Marsala wine (or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Pastry cream:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup whole milk

Whipped cream:
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the assembly:
2 cups brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
36 store-bought ladyfingers
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Shaved nougat or chocolate (optional)

Begin by making the zabaglione. Have ready a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler, place a pot with 1 inch of water on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl on it and make sure the bowl does not touch the water beneath. Combine the egg yolks, sugar, Marsala wine (or coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture, stirring constantly, at below medium heat for about 8 minutes or until it resembles an airy, lightly thick custard. It will bubble as it reaches that consistency. Continue to whisk and incorporate air into the custard. For me it took about 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

Next make the pastry cream, by combining the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan or pot. Add half the milk and the egg yolk. Whisk until smooth. Place the saucepan or pot and cook at below medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent curdling. Add the remaining milk in small amounts, stirring. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, be free of lumps, beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don't worry; push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.) Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. I prepared the whipped cream on the second day, just before assembling the tiramisu. Beat with a large whisk, hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Put it in the fridge till you need it. Have ready a large rectangular serving platter to make the tiramisu. Combine the espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon - this will make it easier to mix without any lumps. Add the refrigerated zabaglione and pastry cream carefully, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set the cream mixture aside.

Working quickly, dip the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover and even out the mixture, all the way to the edges. Repeat to create 2 more layers, using the ladyfingers that are left and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture on the edges of the platter; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.

To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer. Cut into individual portions. You can garnish the tiramisu with shaved nougat as I did, or some shaved chocolate. Good luck! I am sending this as my entry to New Year - New Dish by UK Rasoi and Midweek fiesta 8 by Amy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Egg Biryani

Today I made an attempt to make egg biryani, in the rice-cooker, adapting recipes from Vahchef and Sailu's Kitchen. This biryani was quite easy to make, as I did not include any meat that called for elaborate marinating and cooking. This biryani made for a hearty meal today. A biryani is as much about the flavours as it is about the aroma. Spices such as cloves, cardamom and cinnamon play an integral part in making the biryani, if you or anyone in your family don't like the pungency of whole cloves and cardamoms, you can grind these into a powder, instead of excluding them.

1 cup basmati rice
Water (as required)
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
2 cloves
1/2 tbs oil
1-2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt

2 cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 cardamom pod
1/2 star anise
1/4 tsp shah jeera or cumin

4-5 boiled eggs
1 onion
1/2 cup salted cashew nuts
3-4 tbs ghee or oil
2 green chilis
2 tbs coriander leaves (adjust)
2 tsp garlic-ginger paste
1 tsp chili powder
2-3 tbs curd or sour cream (adjust)
Salt to taste

Boil the eggs and peel them. Put aside. Grind the masala ingredients into a fine powder. Slice the onion and green chilis. Finely chop and grind the garlic and ginger into a fine paste. In a large pan, heat some ghee or oil. Add the masala powder, chili powder, onion, green chili, salt and saute until fragrant and golden brown. Add the cashew nuts and saute. The cashew nuts have a tendency to get burnt if you add them initially with the onion so don't add the until the onion is sauted at least half way or pre-roast the cashew nuts.

If you like, you can add the boiled eggs at this stage and marinate them in this onion masala, slit or whole. Put aside the eggs and half of the onion-cashew mixture in a bowl. Now add garlic-ginger paste and the coriander. Add the curd and mix. You can adjust the amount of coriander and curd according to your preferences. Take the saute away from the stove.

Add the water required to boil the rice in the rice cooker and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the rice properly. When the water is boiling, add turmeric, salt, oil, and the spices (whole). Mix a little. Then add the rice into the rice-cooker. Add the sauted onion-curd mixture and lightly mix. Close the lid and let the rice boil with the sauted onion-curd mixture and all the spices into an aromatic one-pot meal. Serve the biryani with the boiled egg and the sauted onion-cashew nuts and other side dishes of your choice.

I have sent this post as my entry to the "Royal Feast - Biryani" event and a Giveaway at Kaarasaaram.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cinnamon roll with almond filling

For some reason, I feel a lot like baking this month. It is probably the pre-Christmas jitters. I have made cinnamon buns many times before. However, I have never cut the cinnamon rolls lengthwise, except once, but that was many years ago. This time I also added homemade almond paste inside, just because I love almonds. This turned out absolutely divine, if I may say so myself. A cup of warm tea and some slices of a homemade cinnamon roll, is sometimes everything you need to brighten up the humdrum cold winter noons.

Cinnamon roll:
150 g salted butter
50 g compressed yeast
2 cups milk
1.4 kg flour (5 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp cardamom or cardamom powder

Almond filling:
200 g blanched almonds
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup icing sugar
2-3 tbs milk or egg white

Butter filling:
100 g butter
1/2-1 tbs ground cinnamon
3 tbs sugar

Almond flakes
Pearl sugar
1 egg (egg wash)

Blanch the almonds. Bring some water to boil, lower the heat, add the almonds and boil for about 4-5 minutes and then blanch the almonds or alternatively, pour the boiled water in a bowl with almonds and let soak in the warm water for a couple of minutes and then peel the skin off. I would advise you to do this the night before. Let them dry a little and slice the almonds roughly. Slicing them before grinding makes it easier to get a fine paste and keep them in a cool place till needed.

Melt the butter in a cooking pot. Add the milk and warm the butter-milk mixture to 37 C degrees (finger warm). While you melt the butter, measure the flour in a separate bowl and mix in the cardamom. Put aside. Crumble the yeast into a large bowl. Add the heated milk-butter into the bowl, mix and dissolve any large chunks of yeast with your hands. Then add the sugar and then the flour, all at once. Take a wooden spoon and mix until everything comes together into a dough. Place it on a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Put it back in the bowl and cover with a cloth and allow the dough to rest (and increase in size) for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, grind the sliced almonds in a food processor. If you have a small grinder, grind in small batches. Grind the almonds as finely as you can. In a bowl, add the ground almonds and the sugar. Mix well. Add the milk or egg white. I used milk for the almond paste. Mix well into a paste and put aside. For the butter filling, mix softened butter, sugar and ground cinnamon and put aside. If the butter does not get soft, warm it in the microwave for a few seconds and then mix in the above mentioned ingredients.
Now, divide the dough into three equal parts. Roll it out, like you would a pizza dough, fairly thin, spread some of the butter mixture with a dining knife evenly on the dough. Add the almond paste over the butter filling and spread it as evenly as you can on the dough. Roll the dough up. Take next batch and repeat this process until you have three rolls. Let them rest for another 15 minutes or so. Cut the rolls with a scissor, not all the way down, and in equal sizes and drag the buns left and right with your hand. Whisk an egg. Give the rolls an egg wash, spread some pearls sugar and almond flakes over the cinnamon rolls.

Prepare two oven sheets by placing parchment/bakery paper on them. You can place two cinnamon rolls on one oven sheet.  Place the oven sheet in the middle part (but not on the lowest) of the oven and bake in a preheated oven at 175 C (350 F) for about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool somewhat before serving. You can refrigerate them and serve them on an another occasion, if you like. Let them cool down covered with a cloth on a wire rack, slice them and then put them in plastic bags and refrigerate. Eating them within two to three weeks is preferable.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Almond milk - Badam paal

Badam milk is a very wholesome drink enjoyed by people of all ages. This is a nourishing and soothing drink that is perfect to be consumed around this time of the year. Since many people suffer from dry skin during the winter season it's not a bad idea to consume it regularly once or twice a week. This recipe makes about 4 servings.

3 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup water
3 tbs sugar
A pinch of saffron powder
A pinch of cardamom powder

Blanch the almonds. You can either bring some water to boil, add the almonds and boil for about 4-5 minutes and then blanch the almonds or let the almonds soak in warm water for a couple of minutes and then peel the skin off. Slice the almonds. Slicing them before grinding makes it easier to get a fine paste. Grind them in a food processor or in a wet grinder with some of the milk and grind into a fine paste. Grind it as finely as you can. I think the food processor grinds it more coarsely than the wet grinder. If you like it more nutty, you could use the wet grinder. 

In a cooking pot, add milk and the almond paste and bring it to boil in below medium heat while continously stirring. This might take about 15-20 minutes. Then add the sugar, saffron powder and cardamom powder. Stir for about 5-10 till the milk gets a nice colouring from the saffron. Typically the badam is made over the stove till it thickens somewhat. The milk that you get here tends to have more water in it. If you want it thick, you can stir till you get your desired consistency. Take it away from the stove and pour it into glasses or another bowl and allow to cool. Serve this drink cool.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fruit cake

Since Christmas is not far away, I wanted to make this cake that resembles the traditional English fruit cake a lot, at least by appearance, but that is actually a substitute to the traditional fruit cake. As you may be aware, the traditional English fruit cake contains rum/brandy and eggs. The fruits and nuts are let to soak in rum for a month when making a traditional fruit cake. I know there are some people who, for various reasons, want to omit any or any one of these ingredients. This fruit cake recipe is made sans eggs and alcohol.

Unfortunately, I did not manage to get hold of the eggless fruit cake recipe that my relations follow in Sri Lanka. So I baked this cake with much trepidation because I was unsure of the measurements, which is a-z when it comes to baking. I also used a few ingredients that were not used in that recipe. The cake was still very soft when I inserted the skewer 45 minutes in the oven. I could only breathe a sigh of relief when the cake was out of the oven. It turned out soft and moist and not overly sweet, as I we had thought, which is a good thing, because both of my parents are diabetics. Everyone in my family relished it, including my parents. Since this cake turned out well, I also decided to submit my entry for a Christmas-themed events and give-aways at various blogs, that you can see if you scroll down this post.

In Indian fruit/plum cake recipes, orange juice is often used to replace rum. In northern Sri Lanka, tea is used to soak the dates overnight. I'm sure there are many more options. I decided to substitute rum with orange juice. I also opted for an easier way out to making my own caramel - I used sweetened, condensed milk. This along with the brown sugar helped achieving the rustic colour. As for dried fruits and nuts, you could use any dried fruits and nuts of your choice. If you or anyone in the family is allergic to nuts, you could use dates, figs, raisins, candied cherries, apricots, pineapple etc. as per your liking.

Fruit and nut mixture:
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup pineapple
1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 tbs chopped fresh ginger
3/4 cup unsweetened orange juice

Cake mixture:
225 g normal-salted butter (softened)
1/2 brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder

Chop the dates, pineapple, almonds, cashew nuts the size of raisins. Chop the ginger finely. In a pan, mix these ingredients in orange juice over low heat until the dry fruits and nuts have absorbed the orange juice. Put aside and allow to cool.

Mix the flour with the spices and the baking powder and baking soda and put aside. In a separate bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. I used the brown sugar to get the rustic colour. Add 3/4 cup flour in the butter mixture. Mix carefully.

Spoon in the cooled fruit and nut mixture in a large bowl. Add sweetened, condensed milk and mix. Add the remaining flour and mix. Pour the fruit and nut batter into the butter mixture and mix carefully and well. Butter the baking tin and spoon in the cake mixture in the baking tin and even it out.

Bake the cake in the lower parts of a preheated oven at 175 C (around 350 F) for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. Insert a skewer in the centre of the cake to check whether the cake is ready. Skewer should come out clean if the cake is ready. Take the cake out and let it rest in the baking tin for about 10 minutes. Then gently unfold it. It is a soft cake that has a tendency to crumble but is nevertheless delicious. Wrap them up in aluminium foil and keep them in an airtight container to prevent it from getting dry.

Thank you, Ramya, for the award.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


These buns are called tekaka in Swedish, meaning tea-time buns. They are a cross between flatbread and buns, sweet and fluffy, so fluffy that they melt in your mouth while you eat them. Everyone in my family loves these buns. We love tekaka so much we fight over the last one. :) It is that good. We typically buy tekaka at the local store-cum-bakery nearby because it is more convenient but for Christmas I decided to make these for breakfast.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to read that I had received an "Inspirational Award" by Sonali at OnlyFishRecipes. I was and still am ecstatic about it. It's such a nice way to wrap up this year and my 3 months of blogging adventures. Thank you Sonali for the award. The awardee is suppose to answer 8 questions as well, and I have answered them down below, please scroll down if you are interested in reading them. The awardee is also supposed to pass down the award to fellow bloggers and I have listed the names and blogs of people I would like to pass on this award to.

50 g compressed yeast
2 cups water
100 g butter
1 tsp of salt
10 tbs caster sugar
5 1/2-6 cups all-purpose flour

Heat the water to 37 C (fingerwarm) in a pan. In a separate pan, melt the butter at low heat. Measure the flour, add sugar and salt and mix. Put aside. Crumble the yeast in a large bowl. Pour the finger-warm water over it. Mix and dissolve any large yeast chunks with your hand. Add the butter and mix. Add the flour. Mix with a wooden spoon till everything comes together. Place the dough, on a floured surface. Knead and work it for about 10 minutes. Place it back in the bowl and let it rest, covered with a cloth, for 35 minutes. Do not let it rest for more than 35 minutes because the yeast thrives on sugar and if you let the dough yeast for more than 35 minutes the first time (you have to let them rest again after shaping them), the tekaka may not turn out sweet at all.

Knead the dough lightly and press out the trapped air in the buns. You can either roll out the flour and knife out flat-bread like buns or divide the dough into equal portions/balls and then flatten them out. Stick the buns with a fork, all the way down. Let them rest for 10 minutes. Bake them in the middle part of a preheated oven at 200 C (400 F) until they get a nice colour. Let them cool covered in a cloth and keep them in an airtight container. Now, more about the award. :)

My congratulations to you, Sonali, and thanks a bunch for passing on this award to me. I would like to pass on this "Inspirational Award" to the following bloggers:

Amy of FoodCorner
Mahi of Mahi's Kitchen
Reva of Kaarasaaram
Sangeetha of Spicy Treats
Sudha of Wit, wok & wisdom

Egg toast

For me this makes for a quick, scrumptious breakfast. I like soft white bread, but you could make these toasts with a fibre-rich bread varieties as well.

5-6 slices of white bread/loaf
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
Salted butter

In a pan, melt some salted butter. Beat eggs in a soup plate, add some salt and whisk. Take a slice of loaf and dip it in the beaten eggs. Coat both sides of the loaf with the egg mixture. Place the egg in the heated pan and "toast" both sides. The butter has a tendency to turn brown, so adjust the heat as required. I slightly press the bread against the pan with a spatula to make sure it gets toasted properly. Toast both sides until golden brown. Serve warm and crispy with butter, cheese, maple syrup, marmalade and/or fresh fruits!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I had a lot of mascarpone and heavy cream left that were nearing expiry date. Not having the heart to throw them away, I decided to make cranachan with the leftover mascarpone and cream. Cranachan is a Scottish dessert that is also enjoyed as an evening snack by some. I saw it for the first time in a food magazine sometime back and wondered about it origins. 

Cranachan is also known as Cream Crowdie. This dessert celebrates the oatmeal, which is served roasted. Cranachan is traditionally eaten around harvest time in rural Scotland but is now a very common dessert, not only in Scotland, but also in other countries. In modern times, cranachan is known to include roasted oatmeal, whipped cream, honey, fresh raspberries and a little whiskey. As I read, in earlier recipes, crowdie cheese was used instead of cream and other earlier recipes don't contain whiskey and the raspberries are also considered optional. Since there are no fresh raspberries available around this time of the year, I used frozen raspberries, and I omitted the whiskey. Also, since I used frozen raspberries I mixed half of the cream with the raspberries. It was very refreshing and tasted like a crumbly raspberry pie.

Oatmeal crumble:
125 g butter
3 tbs honey (preferably Scottish heather)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup jumbo porridge oats (or regular oats)
5 tbs caster sugar
2 tbs hazelnuts (optional)

1 cup fresh cream (fat 35-40%)
3/4 cup mascarpone (adjust)
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 cup defrosted raspberries

Begin by making the crumbly oatmeal. Melt the butter and mix in the honey and allow to cool for a while. In a separate bowl, add and mi flour, oats, roughly chopped hazelnuts and sugar. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and crumble with your fingers until all the flour is well coated with the butter and honey mixture. Spread out the oatmeal mixture on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until crispy, in the middle part of a preheated oven at around 175 C (350 F) degrees. It has a tendency to get burned fast so don't be away from the kitchen for long. Take it out and allow to cool.

Whip the fresh cream and the mascarpone until smooth. Add the icing sugar and mix some more. Take half the amount of the cream mixture and place it in another bowl and with the help of a handmixer, mix in the raspberries. To assemble the cranachan, spoon in some raspberry cream in the bottom of a glass bowl, followed by a layer of cream and a layer of crumbled oats. Repeat 2-3 times, depending on your bowl size, saving the final layer of oats to scatter over before serving with a dusting of icing sugar or fresh raspberries.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cabbage curry

1/2 cabbage
1 onion
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin
3-4 green chilis
1 tsp curry powder (optional)
Salt to taste
Curry leaves

Slice the cabbage finely. Chop onion and green chilis finely. Heat a few tablespoons of oil, add mustard seeds and allow to splutter. Then add cumin, onion, curry leaves and chilis and fry for a while. Then add the cabbage, followed by the curry powder. Mix well. Cook the curry with the lid on for about 10 minutes. Do open the lid and stir 2 or 3 times in between. At this stage they would have become soft and moist. Season the curry with salt and taste. Cook the curry for another 5-10 minutes with the lid on. Serve warm with rice.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mixture (Mixer)

Mixture or "mixer" as I have been fondly calling it since childhood :) is a very popular snack in Sri Lanka and India. In our family, we prepare mixture with fried chickpeas, yellow lentils, dry-roasted cashews, salty peanuts and gram murukku. Making mixture is a time consuming process that requires copious amounts of oil but this snack has a long "expiry" date and is usually enjoyed by everyone in the household. It has been ages since we made this but with the upcoming festive season, it was about time we made this protein-packed snack.
2 cups chickpeas
2 cups yellow lentils
1 cup salty peanuts
20 pieces cashew nuts
4-5 springs of dry curry leaves
500 ml coconut oil for deep frying
Salt and ground chili powder to taste

2 cups gram flour (ground yellow lentil flour)
1 cup all purpose flour or rice flour
1/2 tsp ground ajwain
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 tsp ground chili powder
Salt to taste
Hot water

Step 1: Soak the chickpeas and the yellow lentils for 10-12 hours. Wash them again and drain from excess water. In a large pan heat the oil. Deep fry the yellow lentils. Deep-fry them in 2-3 batches. When you place them in the oil they will sink to the bottom. Once they are properly fried, they will start to float to top (see pictures). It will take about 10 minutes to deep fry them. Take some out and taste. They should be medium crunchy (they will get more crunchy once you have taken them out). Place them on tissue paper to drain the excess oil. Add salt and ground chili powder and mix while the lentils are still warm. Taste and adjust spices.

Step 2: Drain the chickpeas from water. This is very important as some of the chickpeas tend to "explode" and fly off in different directions while you deep-fry them. Place the chickpeas in a spoon and put them in the oil. Don't stay or sit close-by because one or two chickpeas always tend fly out in different directions. Deep-fry the chickpeas for about 15 minutes in 2-3 batches. Taste the chickpeas. They should be crunchy. Take them out and place them on a tissue paper. Add salt and ground chili powder while the chickpeas are still warm and mix with a spoon. Taste and adjust spices.

Step 3: To make the murukku, mix both flour types in a bowl. Add salt, turmeric, ground chili powder and dry roasted, ground ajwain and mix. Heat some water. Pour a small quantity of the water in the flour och wait for 3 minutes and then mix with a spoon and repeat this process until you get the same batter texture as seen below. 

Stuff an idiyappam/murukku maker with this batter and press it into the oil (see picture below). You'll have to repeat this process many a times till you finish the batter. Fry the murukku on both sides until golden brown. Take it out and place it on a tissue paper.

Step 4: Crush the murukku. Mix the deep-fried chickpeas, yellow lentils and the murukku in a large bowl. Dry roast some cashews and add them to the mixture. You can use store-bought salted peanuts or you can dry roast raw peanuts (I used a combination of both) and add them to the mixture. Lastly, add fried curry leaves and mix. Taste and adjust spices, if needed. Good luck! 

I am sending this as my entry to "Snacks Mela" by cooking cooking4allseasons.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Kofta curry

This kofta curry, also called keema kofta curry, is a gravy made with meatballs (kofta). I am not a big fan of meat. I rarely make it and this kofta curry turned out alright. My sister felt that I could have added less coriander in it, but that might be because we are not used to the taste of coriander. We hardly use it in our cooking. Next time I plan to add tomatoes instead of tomato purée. I personally feel it might have lifted the dish more and I also only had 1 tbs of tomato purée left. For a first time, it turned out alright with no major disasters. The meatballs kept their shapes, the curry smelled nice and tasted better on the second day, and with some adjustments next time, hopefully, this dish will be more appreciated around the dinner table.

400-500 g ground or minced mutton
1/2 cup coriander leaves (adjust)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp chili powder
Salt to taste

1 tbs oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1 onion
2 green chilis
5 garlic cloves
2-3 tsp ginger
1 tbs tomato purée
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp of garam masala (adjust)
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp cardamom powder or pods
4 cups water
2 tbs yoghurt
Salt to taste

Chop the onion finely and dry-roast it in a pan. Chop ginger and garlic. Grind the dry-roasted onion, ginger and garlic into a fine paste. Put aside. Squeeze the mutton to get rid of excess water. Prepare the koftas by mixing together the minced mutton, chopped coriander and ground cumin and chili powder. Make meatballs out of it and put aside.

Heat some oil, add cumin and allow to splutter. Add green chilies, ground ginger-garlic paste and fry on low heat. Then add tomato purée or chopped tomatoes, turmeric and garam masala. Mix well. Increase the heat, add the water and salt and bring it to a boil. Add the cinnamon stick and cardamom powder. Carefully place the koftas in the curry and then lower the heat and don't mix, in case the koftas fall apart. Cook the koftas approximately for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Lastly add the yoghurt and. Taste and adjust spices. Garnish with coriander leaves, if desired, and serve with rice or roti/naan.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kothu Roti

This is the ubiquitous street food 'kothu roti' recipe. Kothu roti literally means chopped roti, but from what I have observed at the roadside kothu huts, it is usually paratha. There are many different types of kothu rotis. When we make kothu roti at home, we usually make "chicken kothu".

To make the chicken kothu, you need to prepare the chicken curry separately and the roti/paratha separately. These two items are then chopped and fried together with various vegetables and egg. At the kothu huts a heated iron sheet and blades that look like dough scrapers are typically used to make this. We prepare kothu roti in a large pan and it works just fine. 

2 1/2 cups flour
Water (as required)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Chicken curry:
1 chicken
1 onion
1/2 tsp cumin
3-4 garlic cloves
2-3 green chilis
1 tbs curry powder
2-2 1/2 cups water
Lemon juice to taste
Salt to taste

Pinch of mustard seeds
Pinch of cumin
Curry leaves
6 green chili
2 small onions
2 cups cabbage/leeks/spring onion
2 carrots
2 eggs
Salt to taste
In a bowl, add flour and mix flour and salt. Then pour 1 cup of water in small quantities and knead the dough. Add some more water if needed. If you are inexperienced when it comes to kneading doughs this may be a troublesome step for you but don't give up. With some will you can get it together. When you are finished kneading the dough, add some oil and roll the dough in oil. Wrap up the dough in a plastic sheet so that it doesn't get dry and let it rest while you prepare the chicken curry.

First clean and chop the chicken in small sizes. In a large cooking pot, heat some table spoons of oil. Add cumin seeds, chopped onion, garlic and green chili and fry until light brown. Add the chicken chunks, mix and fry. Close the cooking pot with a lid and let it cook for about 10 minutes on medium to high heat, but take the lid off and stir every once in a while until it's half-cooked and has changed colour. Then add the curry powder and mix well. Drizzle the water, salt and let the chicken curry cook for about 30-40 minutes. Add the lemon juice last before taking the chicken curry off the stove. Taste and adjust spices before taking it away from the stove.

Chop the vegetables needed to make the kothu roti. I like cabbage but you could also use leeks or the green part of spring onions depending on your preferences. I would advise to make the kothu roti in 2 batches. Chop all of onion, green chilis, carrots, curry leaves and cabbage at once and then divide into two batches.

Roll out the roti on a lightly oiled surface. Heat a pan and heat the roti on both sides. Then cut the rotis into small pieces with a knife or a food scissor. In a large pan heat some oil, add mustard seeds and let splutter. Then add cumin. In the same pan, fry onion, curry leaves, and green chilis. Then add the cabbage and stir-fry well. Lastly, add the carrots and salt. Shove the vegetables to the side in the pan or take it out and place it in a plate. Whisk an egg and add some salt in it. Pour the egg in the pan and scramble it. Mix the vegetables and the scrambled egg, add the roti pieces and mix. Then spoon in the chicken curry (chicken chunks as well as curry) and mix. Serve warm!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mango chutney (mangai pachadi)

I have been wanting to make mango chutney for a long time but it has been very difficult to find raw, sour mangoes in the stores. I found some sour mangoes at the Chinese store, and although expensive, they looked decent enough to serve the purpose. I wanted something tangy to tickle my tastebuds. This actually tastes like a sweet-sour tamarind sauce. Typically, neem flowers are also added, to lend some bitterness, but I have excluded it.

2 raw mangoes
1 cup brown sugar (or jaggery)
1 cup water
1 green chili
Salt to taste

Mustard seeds

Peel the mangoes and cut it in small pieces. In a pan, add water and bring it to a boil. Add the mango slices, slit green chili, and salt. Cook at medium heat. Add the brown sugar after 15 minutes and cook until it looks and gravy-like. In a separate pan, heat some oil, add mustard seeds and allow to splutter. Top the mango chutney with the tempered mustard seeds and serve.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I had a craving for lemonade today. In Sri Lanka, you typically prepare lemonade with lime. You just blend fresh lime juice, water and sugar (and sometimes salt) with a spoon and consume it fresh in the hot months. There's nothing like a home-made lemonade. It's so refreshing and you always end up craving for one more glass.

1 large lemon
2 cups water
1/3 cup caster sugar (adjust)

Roll the lemon on the kitchen counter with your palms, to loosen up the lemon cells. Cut it into halves and squeeze the lemon juice. I pressed out the juice with my hands intially and then used a manual juice squeezer to squeeze out as much as possible. Boil the sugar and the water at below medium heat till the sugar dissolves and stir continuously. Add lemon juice and stir. Taste. Add more sugar if needed and stir but don't keep the lemonade on the stove for too long after adding the lemon juice. Let it cool before serving.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mushroom curry

200-250 g fresh field mushrooms or button mushrooms
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
10 cashew nuts
A pinch of cumin
1 tsp chili powder (optional for more heat)
1 tbs curry powder
3 cups water
1 spring curry leaves
Salt to taste


I wash the mushrooms under cold water first. Some say you should not wash mushrooms in water. The common guide is to gently rub them with a paper towel or quickly brush them. I personally think it doesn't feel clean without washing them, so I give them a quick cold shower. You can do as you like. 

Slice the mushrooms. Cut the onion and garlic finely. In a large pan, heat some oil and add the cumin, onion and curry leaves. Fry until golden brown. Add chili powder, turmeric, garlic, and curry powder. Mix well. Then add the mushrooms and enough water to allow them to cook. Add salt. Grind the cashews coarsely and add to the curry. You can add more water later, if needed. Cook for about 30 minutes. Mix and taste. Serve hot with rice or anything of your choice!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lemon pound cake

Pound cake recipes are easy to remember because you use a pound of each ingredient. However, it's quite a dense cake (no baking powder is added) and you can't keep it for long, so I have used half a pound of each ingredient to make mine. Keep the cake in an air-tight container for maximum 3 days.

225 g butter (softened)
225 g caster sugar
4 eggs
225 g flour
1 lemon zest (adjust)

Melted sweet/semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

Beat the butter and sugar until creamy and pale. Add one egg at a time and beat in between adding each egg. Sieve the flour into the batter and mix carefully with a spoon and lastly add the lemon zest and mix again. Brush a loaf tin with butter and add some breadcrumbs or add a greaseproof paper inside the loaf tin. Spoon in the mixture into the tin carefully. It has a tendency to rise in the middle, you can level it out at the sides and leave a small well, if desired. Bake the cake in the lower parts of a preheated oven at 175 C (350 F) for about 50 minutes. Insert a skewer to check if the cake is ready towards the end. The skewer should come out clean.

It smells heavenly (even without the addition of vanilla) and can be enjoyed as it is. I decided to let the cake cool for some time and then coat the cake with some chocolate that I melted over hot water bath, as I used to have a store-bought lemon cake with chocolate frosting as a child which I loved.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lentil curry

1/2 cup masoor dhal 
1 1/2 cups water
2-3 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2-1 tsp chili powder
1/4 ground coriander powder
Salt to taste

A pinch of cumin
1/2 onion
2 springs of curry leaves
3 dry red chilis

Lentil curry is a very common side-dish in South Asia and it is known as an easy curry to make, but there are some rules and things you need to know about how to prepare this dish. Firstly, wash and rinse the lentils under cold water till the water becomes clear (the first few times it will appear foamy) and remove any impurities. You need not soak the lentils before cooking.

Bring the water to a boil and then add the lentils. When cooking lentils you need to add 3 times as much water as lentils. If you want a more watery lentil curry, you could add some more water. Another thing is, do not add salt until the lentils have been cooked or at least early on, as the curry will stiffen a little. Add all the other ingredients, except the salt and the ground coriander seeds. Add them last. Take the lentil curry away from the stove. In a separate pan, heat some oil and fry cumin, onion and curry leaves until golden brown. Then add the dry red chilis and fry. Split the red chilis before adding them in the curry. Mix these with the lentil curry and serve warm!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pomegranate smoothie

2/3 cup vanilla yoghurt
3/4 banana
3 tbs pomegranate seeds
Sugar (if needed)

In a mixer, add sliced bananas and vanilla yoghurt and mix until the mixture reaches your desired level of smoothness. Add the pomegranate seeds and mix. Taste the smoothie. If needed, add sugar (as required). Pour the smoothie in a glass and serve immediately or place it in the fridge if you want to serve it later. Smoothies can be enjoyed as part of breakfast or evening snack.
This smoothie was featured on Midweek Fiesta 6. Thank you for the badge, Amy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Panna cotta

This is a white chocolate panna cotta recipe. Panna cotta means cooked cream and it is a classic Italian dessert, seen and shown on many food programmes and magazines around the world. I did not bother to try panna cotta for long simply because I did not find it tempting enough. It kind of looks like frozen yoghurt. It doesn't make your mouth water and tempt you like many other desserts do. However, I love white chocolate, so when I came across this recipe on ICA's website, I had to give it a try. Since panna cotta is quite heavy, it's usually served in small portions and this recipe makes about 4 servings.

1 cup fresh cream (35-40 %)
3 tbs milk (3-4 % fat)
125 g white chocolate
1 tsp gelatine powder
1 vanilla pod

Chop the white chocolate. Heat the milk and put it in a small bowl, add the gelatine powder and whisk vigorously till there are no lumps. Put it aside to cool. Slit the vanilla pod and scrape the vanilla out. In a pan, boil the cream and vanilla along with the vanilla pod. Stir continously till it starts to boil. When you see the first few bubbles appear in the cream, take the pan away from the stove. Take the pod out and add the gelatine and the white chocolate and whisk until everything melts and gets dissolved in the cream. Pour the panna cotta carefully in four small cups or glasses. I let the panna cotta cool for awhile in room temperature and the put it in the fridge for about 1 hour. Serve the panna cotta cold with fresh fruits or berries!