Monday, 28 September 2015

Simple and Easy Egg Biryani

Biryanis are always meant to be elaborate and royal which undoubtedly calls for a little planning. However, on some days, you just get that Biryani craving and you know you can't sit in peace unless you have satisfied your craving. This is what exactly happened to me this Sunday when we were exploring and discussing different food options for lunch. I had just this tray of eggs and nothing else in the pantry and within 1 hour quick and easy Egg Biryani was ready to be served. I made my own Biryani masala here, but you can use any store bought masala if you have even lesser time to get the biryani done. 
For the masala 
1 tsp cumin seeds 
1 tsp fennel seeds 
2 tsp coriander seeds 
3-4 Kashmiri whole red chillies 
4 cardamoms 
4 cloves 
1 black cardamom
1 bay leaf
1/2 mace
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder 
1 tsp black peppercorns 
1" cinnamon 
Dry roast all and grind to a fine powder 
For the rice
2 cups basmati rice, soaked for 1/2 hr
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp shahjeera 
2 pods cardamom, 1" cinnamon 
1 tsp salt 
Rest of the ingredients 
1 large onion sliced finely 
11/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste 
2 large tomatoes chopped 
1 tbsp ghee + 1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Freshly chopped coriander and mint leaves 
1 cup warm milk (may require more)
3 hard boiled eggs
3 tbsp cornflour 
1/2 tsp Chilli powder 
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 
1/2 tsp salt

Start with preparing the eggs. Peel the hard boiled eggs and cut them into half. Make a thick paste with water, cornflour, Chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. 

Dip the egg halves one at a time and shallow fry in hot oil until golden. Remove from heat and keep aside. 
Now, heat the oil and ghee in a deep bottomed pan and add the shahjeera. Add the whole spices and the rice (reserve the soaked water) and fry till the rice becomes translucent. Now add warm water till just about covering the rice 1" above. Cover and let the rice cook till about 90%. 
Heat oil and ghee in another pan and fry the sliced onions till golden. Next add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears. Tip in the tomatoes now and fry till mushy. Now add the freshly ground masala and mix well. Fry the onion masala till oil appears along the sides of the pan. Now add 1 cup milk and stir and bring to a boil. You can also add chopped vegetables to the masala and  fry a bit before adding the milk. Now add the cooked rice and mix well. Add coriander and mint and any birista or fried onions if you have ready. Mix well and drizzle some ghee from the sides and cover and simmer the flame. Let the biryani cook on dum for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and serve hot with the fried eggs and onion slices. 


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Chocolate Mango Mousse Cake

In my family we have back-to-back birthdays starting with mine and ending with my father-in-law with the exception of my kiddo who is January born. Three back-to-back birthdays mean lots of cake baking but relatively fewer mouths to feed. So when it came to baking the last birthday cake of the year, I knew for certain that it has to be not just a cake. A mousse cake was on my mind since long and I got the perfect opportunity to get that wish fulfilled. A soft and spongy Chocolate Cake layered with sinful Mango Mousse and neatly finished off with a beautiful Mango Glaze! A perfect dessert cake, you can also make it in individual portions by crumbling/cutting  the sponge and layering with alternate layers of the mousse. Do refer my notes at the end of the recipe.
For the sponge 
2 egg whites
2 tbsp plus 2 tbsp fine sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 egg yolks 
50 ml milk (roughly 1/4 cup)
24 ml (roughly 1/8 cup) unflavored oil (I used extra light olive oil)
1/4 cup flour (preferably cake flour for a light sponge)
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder sifted 
For the mousse 
1 cup whipping cream 
1 1/2 cup sweetened mango pulp (I used canned alphonso pulp)
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp gelatin/agar agar powder 
4 tbsp water

For the glaze
1 cup sweetened mango pulp
1 tbsp gelatin/agar agar powder 
4 tbsp water 

Start with making the sponge. Beat the egg whites with 2 tbsp sugar and cream of tartar until stiff peaks are formed. 
Now beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl along with the remaining sugar until pale yellow in color and creamy. Add the milk and the oil and beat further. Now add the sifted flour and cocoa mixture in two batches and mix well till no lumps remain. Now add half the egg whites into the yolk mixture and fold in till combined. Pour this mixture into the remaining egg whites and fold in to incorporate. Do not overmix. 
Preheat the oven at 180 degree celcius (should do halfway through the preparation) and grease and line a 6" round pan. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and the pan (after 5 minutes) and cool completely on a wire rack. 

While the cake cools, we can start with the mousse. Take a chilled bowl with chilled beaters and put the whipping cream along with the sugar and beat till stiff peaks form. The peaks should be able to hold their shape even when you tilt the bowl. 
Keep this bowl in the fridge (not freezer) while you prepare the mango puree. Sprinkle gelatin or agar agar in cold water and let it stand for 5 minutes. Now heat the mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds till completely dissolved and you get a clear liquid. Mix well and let it come to room temperature before using. Make sure you continue stirring it so that it doesn't set. Now add the cooled gelatin liquid to the mango puree and mix well till no lumps remain. 
Take the whipped cream out of the fridge and fold in the mango puree until combined. Now line a 7" spring form pan (I used an 8" pan and so got a slightly bigger outer mousse layer; would highly recommend using a 7" instead) or cake ring with parchment paper on the bottom and the sides for easy release later. Slice the completely cooled cake (very important) into two and put one half into the prepared pan. 
Now spread half the mousse on top of this evenly and let it set slightly in the fridge for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take the pan out and gently keep the other layer of cake on top and spread the remaining mousse as evenly as possible. Smooth out the top and keep it to set in the fridge for at least an hour or till it feels set to the touch. 
Once the mousse has set, start preparing the glaze. Again, prepare the gelatin in the same way like you did for the mousse. Pour the cooled gelatin into the mango puree and mix well. Pour this mixture gently on top of the set mousse and let it set for 1-2 hours or overnight. Decorate the top as you like and serve chilled!
1. You can make it as individual portions by cutting the cake with a cookie cutter or crumbling the cake and layering it using the same procedure like you did for the cake. 
2. The procedure for making the mousse with agar agar powder will be the same. 
3. If you are a vegetarian, you can make an eggless cake using your recipe or any of my chocolate eggless cake recipes here and follow the rest of the procedure accordingly. 

Friday, 18 September 2015

Wholewheat Bread

Conducting bread baking classes at home are proving quite beneficial to me in a way that my breads are getting better and more perfect than what they used to be. Since I am the instructor, it is extremely important for me to practice all my demo recipes before the class and thus perfection sets in. I am in love with my breads now more than ever before and hate to buy a loaf from the store even if it means taking a sweat shower in the kitchen in the unbearable Singapore heat!!
2 cups wholewheat flour sifted (I have found Sharbati Atta of any brand gives you the best results; here, I have used Pilsbury Gold but Peshwai or Ashirwaad Sharbati will work equally well)
1 cup bread flour or all purpose flour 
3 tsp or 1 tbsp instant yeast 
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk powder 
250 ml warm water not exceeding 41 degree celcius or comfortable enough to hold a drop on the back of your wrist 
2 tbsp butter room temperature (I use low fat margarine)
Olive oil for greasing 

Proof the yeast first. Dissolve the sugar into 150 ml warm water and mix in the yeast. Let it stand for 10 minutes till frothy and increased in volume. 
In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, and milk powder. Now make a well in the center and pour in the yeast and start mixing the flour and the yeast liquid. Once all the liquid is covered by the flour, start adding in water little atva time until all the water is used up (remaining 100 ml). With wholewheat breads we have to ensure that the dough is not dry but smooth and soft to the touch with slight traces of stickiness. A dry dough will result in a dry crumbly bread. 
Now transfer the sticky dough to a clean and floured work surface and using both your hands, start kneading with all your might till all the stickiness is gone. This will take 5-7 minutes. Now spread out the dough and splash 1 tbsp butter/margarine and fold in. Continue kneading till the butter is absorbed. Do not be tempted to add extra flour. Just keep kneading and in mo time the stickiness will be gone. Now add the remaining 1 tbsp butter and knead again till you have an incredibly soft and elastic dough. Congratulations! You are 70% done!!
Niw oil a big enough bowl to hold the doubled up risen dough and also oil the dough. Gently place it into the oiled bowl and keep covered in a warm place for 1- 11/2 hour till doubled in volume. 
Once doubled, punch down the dough and knead for 3-5 minutes to bring the dough into a uniformly shaped loaf. Grease a loaf tin and place the shaped loaf in it. Cover again and leave to rise for another 1 hour. 
Towards the end of the second rise, start preheating the oven at 180 degree celcius and also keep a small tray of water to build up steam. 
Brush the top of the loaf gently with milk (room temperature) taking care not to deflate the dough. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes till you get a dark brown top and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. 
Remove from the pan immediately and brush the top with butter. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Golden Baked Coconut Macaroons

Coconut is a very versatile fruit and it adapts itself to any dish very skilfully. Be it sweet or savory, a dip or a complete maincourse dish, the coconut always lends a lingering flavor to the recipe and makes it distinct and memorable. These macaroons are no less. Not only they are a weight watcher's delight with no flour or butter in its making, they are also easy to make and require just three main ingredients and are incredibly light and delicious to eat that you won't even realize when you emptied an entire batch. 
P.S.: Recipe adapted from Once Upon A Chef with some changes
390 gms grated coconut (I used fresh coconut but you can use dried coconut as well available in the bakery section of grocery stores)
Scant 1 cup low fat condensed milk (or regular is fine too)
1 tsp vanila extract
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp salt

Start by dry roasting the coconut on the stove top in a pan. You may skip this step if you are using dried grated/dessicated coconut. Freshly grated coconut has a lot of moisture and hence needs to be lightly roasted to avoid a liquid batter. Dry roast the coconut till the moisture has evaporated and the coconut feels dry to the touch. Take care not to burn the coconut. Remove from stove and let it cool completely before proceeding to the next step. 
Preheat the oven at 175 degree celsius and keep a baking tray ready lined with parchment paper. 
Now, mix the condensed milk (make sure you use a little less than 1 cup) and the cooled and roasted coconut. Add the vanilla and mix and keep aside.
Now whip the egg whites with the salt till stiff peaks form. Fold in this into the coconut mixture and mix. Ensure that you only do gentle folding without flattening out the foam. 

Now take heaped tablespoons of the batter and drop them into the prepared baking tray. You might notice some liquid releasing from the batter. Try and avoid adding the liquid as you might have a burnt base if you add that, like I have in my first batch. You do not have to squeeze out the liquid, but instead just avoid scooping it into the tablespoon. Scoop more solids than liquid! Place the scoops one inch apart.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes till the base and top are deep and slightly golden respectively. I like mine to be nicely golden on the top and so kept a few minutes longer. You can bake as you like yours to be. The cookies will be soft and chewy from inside and while baking they will still be soft to the touch. That's the way they are supposed to be and so do not worry about uncooked cookies.
Once done, remove from the oven and let them cool in the tray for a minute before transferring them to a wire rack for cooling completely.
I baked in three batches and got a total of around 36 cookies or maybe more as I could not count properly due to my constant munching. :D You can also dip these cookies halfway through into melted chocolate and then chill them for a few minutes or drizzle melted chocolate on the entire batch for a more indulgent bite!


Friday, 11 September 2015

Vegetarian Strawberry Panna Cotta with Rosy Strawberry Compote

A very Happy Birthday to us!! Yes, on this day, two years back, I ventured into the world of blogging with a strong passion to explore and enjoy the art of cooking and serving people with love. Little did I know then how drastically my life would change and how far I have reached from being just a homemaker to being a Home Baker and now an instructor too!! That's a long journey that I have covered and there are still miles to go before I reach my destination. Your love and appreciation had brought me here so far and I hope to continue receiving the attention and encouragement in the future too. Keeping with my blog's theme of quick and easy recipes and delicious too, I celebrate this day with another such awesome dessert which is insanely easy to make and equally stunning to look at!! 
1 1/2 cup full cream milk
1 1/2 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
1 1/2 cup strawberry pulp made from about 250 gms of stemmed and hulled strawberries (I used my stock of fresh and frozen strawberry pulp)
1/4-1/3 cup sugar depending on your taste
1 tsp vanila extract 
3 tsp agar agar powder (you can also use 3 tsp gelatin powder)

For strawberry compote 
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries washed, hulled and halved
1/4 cup water
3-5 tbsp sugar, depending on your taste 
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp rose water

Mix the milk and sugar and sprinkle the agar agar on top. Let it stand for 5 minutes until dissolved. Now switch on the flame and while stirring constantly, put the pot of milk on medium flame. If using gelatin, be careful not to boil the mixture. It should be just hot with small bubbles just starting to appear on the sides. 
For gelatin users, make sure the gelatin has dissolved completely and no lumps remain. Check this by taking a bit of the milk mixture in your hands and checking the texture with your fingers. Grainy means a bit more of mixing and heating, but no boiling. 
If using agar agar, you will need to boil the mixture until the mixture is smooth and creamy and slightly thickened. Remember to bring it to boil for just once and that should be good enough to dissolve the powder. 
Now remove from flame and mix in the cream and vanilla. Whisk well. Next add the strawberry pulp and mix again. Check the taste and add more sugar if needed. If adding more sugar, bring the mixture back to the flame and stir constantly till the sugar dissolves. 
Cool the mixture slightly to being warm. Meanwhile, lightly grease the serving bowls, if you wish to unmould. If not, just keep them ready to pour in the cream. Once the mixture has cooled slightly, pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins and chill till set. 
For the strawberry compote, mix strawberries, sugar, lemon juice  and water in a non stick pan and put it on stove top on a medium flame. Keep stirring in between to avoid burning. The mixture will thicken and will have a saucy consistency in about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the rose water. Stir and let cool. Pour this on top of the set panna cotta and chill or serve immediately!!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Eggless Butterless Chai Cupcakes

My new bake book that I recently bought at the Bali Airport is quite an interesting read. This is the third recipe that I have tried and has amazed me once again. The best part about this book is that there are ample recipes which are eggless and butterless for regular baking as well as exotic recipes for those special days. I will keep posting my experiments here and you can try them as well in your kitchens!!
P.S.: Recipe inspired from Bake Happy by Judith Fertig
1/2 cup boiling water 
1 tea bag or 1 tbsp good quality tea leaves
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour 
2 drops chai masala drops or 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground green cardamom, 1:4 tsp ground nutmeg 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp fine salt 
1/2 cup milk (can be replaced with almond milk/soy milk for vegan options)
1 tbsp cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/3 cup extra light olive oil or similar 
2 tsp vanila extract 

Preheat the oven to 180 degree celcius. Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners and keep aside. In a small saucepan, brew the tea bag/tea leaves in hot water and keep covered for 15 minutes. Do not leave the stove on while brewing. Else, the tea will get bitter.  Let it cool. 
In a medium bowl,sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and the spices (if not using the spice drop). In a separate large mixing bowl, stir together the milk, brewed and cooled tea, and vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit for 1 minute and then mix in the oil and vinegar and the spice drop (if not using the ground spices). 
Now whisk the flour mixture into the milk mixture, one-third at a time. Keep whisking until the batter becomes smooth and starts to thicken. 
Pour the batter upto 1/3 of the liners and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and set the pans on wire racks to cool completely. 

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Rum and Brown Sugar Banana Fool

Fool? Yes! This dessert is interestingly called a "Fool" by the English and is considered one of their classics. A Fool is a dessert made with cooked and mashed/puréed fruit and fluffy cream. The benign bananas are drizzled with spiced rum and baked till caramalized and then folded into light and fluffy whipped cream!! As easy a dessert as can be, this one is sure gonna blow your mind away, with its taste and its uniqueness. Try it, please!!
P.S.: Recipe adapted from Bake Happy

2 very ripe bananas (I used frozen bananas as I had a huge stock of them and so froze them in ziplock bags to avoid getting spoilt)
2 tbsp white, dark, or spiced rum (I used 3 for some extra punch)
2 tbsp packed light brown sugar 
1 cup whipping cream 
Freshly grated nutmeg for garnishing
Freshly grated chocolate for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 220 degree celcius. Line a 9" baking square dish with foil. Place the serving bowls/glasses in the freezer if you intend to serve the dessert right away. 
Arrange the peeled bananas in the prepared baking dish. If using frozen bananas, take them out from the freezer and let them come to room temperature before using. Drizzle them with the rum and sprinkle the sugar on top. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bananas are caramalized and soft. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let the bananas cool, then mash them in the baking dish. 
Meanwhile, whip the cream in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form and fold the whipped cream into the mashed, caramalized bananas using a spatula. 
Divide the fool among the prepared serving glasses or bowls. Top each portion with some grated nutmeg and grated chocolate and either chill it in the refrigerator until serving time or serve immediately in the chilled glasses. Enjoy!

Homemade Pure Ghee Motichoor Laddoos

Homemade Motichoor Laddoos!! Someone must be really crazy to attempt it at home. After all, who has the time and patience to go through this fuss. These were my thoughts initially when I saw some people post their pictures and recipes on CaL. However, I did save the recipe and every time there was a post, I would diligently go through each procedure and compare who did what differently. Basically, even though subconsciously I knew I will make it some day, the lazy me would always keep it for some other day! With all the ground research done and critical points understood, it was time I prepared myself for the challenge. On a recent trip to the Indian store I quickly grabbed a small slotted spoon/laddle before I could change my mind and thus my basic preparation was done. 
Motichoor Laddoos are actually quite easy to make and if you have already attempted Jallebis at home, these are a cake walk! Just three basic ingredients, Ghee, gram flour/besan, and sugar, and you can have the most amazing and fresh homemade motichoor laddoos made with lotsa love! With the festive season just round the corner,  you wouldn't mind trying these at home, do you?
1 cup besan (I used little less than that as my stock was over)
1/2 cup water (you might need a little more, about 3/4 cup, if using an exact 1 cup of besan)
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of orange/red food coloring
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp cardamom powder (optional; I skipped as I did not wish the smell and flavor of ghee to be subdued by any other flavor)
Chopped nuts/melon seeds (optional)
Ghee as required for frying

Start with preparing the sugar syrup. Mix the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the flame to minimum and let the syrup simmer for 5 minutes till it gets a little thicker. I did not let it reach the one-string or two-string consistency as the fried boondies need to soak the syrup and so a thicker sugar syrup will result in crusty laddoos. Add a pinch of food coloring and keep aside.
Now prepare the batter. Take the besan in a bowl and add water little at a time till you get a thick but pouring consistency batter. Add the soda and pinch of food color and mix well. 
Heat ghee in a pan. Take the slotted spoon and put a tablespoon of the batter and rub it with the back of the spoon while constantly moving the slotted spoon over the hot oil so that the boondis do not remain clumped up at one place. You can do a trial over the bowl of batter before doing it in the hot oil for some practice.
Now take one tablespoon at a time and while reducing the flame, drop boondies on the hot ghee and keep stirring on a medium flame till golden and crunchy. Drop the fried boondies immediately into the prepared syrup as you move on to fry the next batch.
Make sure you keep stirring the boondies in the syrup so that they absorb it uniformly. Repeat the process till all the batter is used up. Add the chopped nuts and cardamom powder and mix well. The syrup will all be absorbed by the boondies by now and you will have a mixture ready for shaping. At this point, I coarsely grinded the mixture with a hand mixture as some of my boondies were rather big. This helps in getting a more fine mixture as well. Pinch out small portions of the mixture and shape them into laddoos and place on mini cupcake liners. Store in airtight containers or consume immediately or gift to your friends and family!

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Devil's Food Cake with Secret Creamcheese Filling

I take my home baker status quite seriously and so when it was my birthday on the first of this month, I was quite sure that while I would not mind a nice dinner outside, I would definitely love to bake my own cake, however simple it may be. 
On my recent trip to Bali, I brought back a wonderful book called "Bake Happy" by Judith Fertig. The book is a lovely collection of easy and interesting recipes and what better way to start than a special family day. Everyone loved the cake and it was my fastest moving cake till date. Got over in just one day!! Baking the cake was a bit tricky as I thought that the cake was baked but it wasn't actually which I knew only once I flipped the cake upside down. I immediately put it back in the oven with the top gently covered with an aluminium foil and my cake was perfectly done!! 
Secret Creamcheese Filling 
1 package (8 oz/226gms) creamcheese at room temperature 
1 large egg beaten
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/4 cup brown sugar (original recipe called for 1/3 cup sugar but 1/4 was just perfect for me)

Devil's Food Cake
3 cups all purpose flour (I used cake flour)
1 1/2 cup brown sugar (again reduced the sugar from 2 cups to 1 1/2 cup as given in the original recipe and it was perfect)
1 tsp fine salt 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups hot water
2 tsp apple cider vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar as I did not have at home)
2 tsp Vanila extract 
2/3 cup vegetable oil (I used rice bran oil)

Preheat the oven to 180 degree celcius. Now you can either prepare a muffin tray or a 10" cake pan for baking the cake. If baked as cupcakes, it will take lesser time and is more hassle free. I did both ways and find the cupcakes were easier to bake. It will take you two batches to bake the cupcakes in a 12 hole muffin tray. 
For the secret cream filling, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg, salt, and sugar. Set the filling aside while you prepare the batter. 
For the Devil's Food Cake, in a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, mix together the baking soda and hot water, then stir in the vinegar and oil. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients little at a time and whisk with a balloon whisk or a spatula until the batter is smooth and evenly colored. 
Fill each cupcake liner (if using muffin pans) half full with batter. Spoon a large tablespoon of the filling on top of the batter in each cupcake liner. Cover the filling again with more batter. Repeat the process for all the prepared liners. If using a cake pan, grease it well and line it with parchment paper and grease again. Now pour half the batter, top it with the cream filling and cover it up with more batter. 
Bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or the cake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 
Please note, that the toothpick might have traces of the cream filling sticking to it. Look out for a clean chocolate crumb to ensure that the cake is cooked through. If the top seems to be getting too browned, cover it loosely with an aluminium foil. 
Remove the cake/cupcakes from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. 
P.S.: You can skip the cream filling part and enjoy the eggless chocolatey cake as is. It tastes absolutely delicious!!