Cream and Mango Cake

This cake just melts in your mouth. It is made of fatless cake, sandwiched in cream and sweet mango and strawberries, and then topped off with more good fruit. I twisted the sponge cake recipe from my usual style, it turned out lovely, try it, I bet you will fall in love with mango, again :-)

What I used: Makes a small 8 inch round cake, serves 10-12
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp milk
For the Cream cheese frosting and filling:
1 fresh mango sliced
4 to 6 fresh strawberries sliced
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz cream cheese
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 trays of ice cubes
1 cup syrup made from ½ cup orange juice, ½ cup warm water and 2 tsp sugar

Preheat the oven at 350 degree F. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder twice. Set aside.
Grease and dust an 8 inch round cake baking pan with butter and flour.  You may also make 2- thin  cakes with the batter.

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla on medium speed for about 4-6 minutes until light and fluffy.
Gently fold in the flour mixture with a spatula. Cut and fold in a circular motion.  Add warm milk, Fold in gently. Empty the mixture into the greased cake pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cake starts to leave the sides of the pan and a knife or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool the cake completely before overturning it. Scrape out all the crumbs to get a clean cake.
Divide the cake into two equal parts but cutting through middle with a serrated knife.

Soaking and filling:
Take a large bowl, put in the ice cubes. Take a smaller bowl that sits on the ice and pour in the cream cheese, heavy cream and sugar. Beat on low speed until all of them combine to get light and fluffy. The ice helps it stay cold enough while blending.  Chill the prepared whipped cream for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Using a brush or your bare hands, sprinkle the base layer with the syrup. 

Now add a layer of whip cream to the cake, and top it with fruit. Add another layer of whip cream and cover it with the second cake layer. 

Soak it the same way, and ice the sides of the cake first with whip cream. Top it with sliced/diced colorful fruits. Chill overnight for the best taste. Enjoy!


Aloo Sagu - Potato curry

This is one of the most common breakfast side dishes, that compliments many breads, crepes and steamed rice cakes. If you have lived in Bangalore, this sagu is often served with rava dosa, rava idli, onion dosa, poori, the list is endless. You will surely see a little cup of this, along with some colorful chutneys and sambhar.
From the old classic hotels like MTR (Oh, I will need a whole new episode to write about it. I grew up next door to this place. It is a 75 year old hotel that maintains its high standards of purity and hygiene. I remember it would open its kitchen to any customer who was interested.  I cannot stop praising the food. This is one awesome place for pure vegetarian, ghee dipping, finger licking, high calorie dishes; so good) to the numerous Darshinis (These are fast food chains that have been a hit over the recent decade catering to the growing IT population and fast life of working families. They sure are a blessing, but if you get addicted, they may also give you a stomach upset now and then!) Here goes the recipe.

What I used: Serves 4
3 cups of potatoes washed, peeled and cut up into chunks
2 cups onion cut into chunks
1 cup tomatoes diced
1 tsp green chilies finely chopped
2 tsp shredded coconut (fresh/dry)
4 sticks of fresh cilantro finely chopped
1 tsp red chili powder
Pinch of turmeric
1 tsp powdered jaggery/brown sugar
1 tsp lime juice
Salt to taste

To temper:
1tsp ghee/oil, ½ tsp mustard and cumin, few curry leaves and hing

 In a saucepan, on medium heat, add ghee. When it begins to smoke, add the mustard, cumin, curry leaves and cover. When the splattering subsides, add onions, and roast to a light brown. Toss in the onions and sauté until transparent. Add the tomatoes and potatoes. After a minute or so, add in the powders and green chilies. Cook covered for about 8-10 minutes on medium heat, or pressure cook.
Add the lime juice and hing, garnish with cilantro. Turn off the heat and serve the dish with chapathi/poori/dosa/idli. Enjoy!


Rave Idli (Steamed Semolina Cakes)

This spicy semolina cake was believed to be invented by MTR, one of the best vegetarian restaurants in South India claim, that during the World War II, when rice was in short supply, they experimented with semolina to make idlis. Hence, the quick new hassle free way of making steamed rava idlis was born! You may make it from scratch or just buy ready rave idli mix and yogurt.

What you need: Makes 16 medium sized idlis
2 cups medium sized rave/suji/semolina
2 cups plain thick yogurt and some extra
2 tsp kadale bele / split channa dhal
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp finely chopped ginger
2 tsp finely chopped green chilies
2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp finely chopped curry leaves
½ tsp baking soda
Salt to taste
4-6 whole or broken cashews (optional)
2 tsp ghee/oil

In a saucepan on medium heat, add ghee. When it begins to shimmer, add the cashews, channa dhal and mustard seeds.  When they roast to a golden brown, add the chopped curry leaves and rave, roast it for a few minutes until they are well toasted. Pour it over into a large bowl. Add in the chopped ginger, green chilies and cilantro. Add salt, give the dry ingredients a whisk with a ladle; add the yogurt and mix it all well, getting rid of lumps. Cover and set aside for 15-20 minutes. This time allows it to soften and form a pudding consistency. Add in the baking soda,, stir it in and make idlis.

If the mixture has gotten too thick, add a tablespoon of extra yogurt, if it is too runny, let it stand for some more time. Grease the idli pans with oil, and pour a ladleful of batter into the pans. If you don’t have the pan, use small steel cups/plates/tumblers instead.  Steam cook them in a large vessel or cooker of water. After the idlis have cooked in steam for about 15 minutes on medium-high heat, turn it off and let stand for a few minutes.
Dip a spoon in cold water and scoop out the idlis and serve them hot with aloo sagu and cilantro or mint chutney. Enjoy!

Cabbage Paratha

Paratha is special flat bread found all over India and other parts of the world. This layered bread is usually made of wheat or all purpose flour and pan fried on a skillet. Parathas come in all shapes and sizes. They are either stuffed or plain. This is a plain layered paratha with mint and garlic. Can be eaten as is, with a dollop of butter/ghee or dipped in sauce or curry. 

What I used: Serves 4, makes about 8 parathas
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup finely chopped or shredded cabbage
½ tsp salt
2 tsp oil
4 tsp ghee/butter/oil to sandwich the paratha

Mix the ingredients together thoroughly with 1 tsp oil. Add warm water and mix the mixture to form firm dough. Cover and let it sit for about 15 minutes to an hour. Divide the dough equally into 8 lemon sized balls.
Set a medium saucepan or flat pan on medium heat. On a rolling board, or flat surface, dip a dough ball in a little flour dust, and roll it out evenly to form a palm sized flat round bread. 

Spread ½ tsp of butter/ghee/oil on the top, then sprinkle some flour on it. Roll the bread from one end to the other into a pipe. Holding one tip of the pipe, and turn it down into a circular coil. This gives it the layers. Dust the surface with flour to prevent it from sticking to the surface. Roll it out into fairly thick bread.
Turn the paratha on to the hot pan. Turn it around a couple of times and flip it over until it puffs and gains a golden brown color. You may add a little oil/ghee just before you take it off the pan. It makes the outer layer crisp. Serve it hot with a delectable curry/sauce or chutney. Enjoy!


Chicken Necks in Curry

This is another delicacy that is my husband’s favorite - chicken necks. After arguments that I won’t make it, because I don’t eat it, he buys it and sneaks it into the freezer. Well, I have just given up on the argument, and have begun to make it, and just stay silent through the meals. I guess it is one of the many adjustments all couples tend to make over time. Poor man, he eats up every speck of this curry that, now, the ‘hate’ I had for it is not as much. Try it, if you have a liking for necks.
What I used: Serves 4
2lb/1kg chicken necks cut into 2 inch servings
Whole garam masala (4 cloves, ½ inch cinnamon, 1 bay leaf, ½ tsp fennel seeds, 2 green cardamoms)
3tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
1 cup onions chopped
½ cup tomatoes chopped
3 whole green chilies slit
Grind these together:
10-12 green hot chilies (add less or more as needed)
1 cup fresh whole cilantro
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp pepper seeds
1 tsp coriander powder

In a thick bottom skillet, on medium heat, add 2 tsp olive oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the whole garam masala, as they splatter, add the chopped onions, and cook covered. When they turn transparent add the tomatoes and cook until it is soft and pulpy. 

Meanwhile, grind it all the ingredients mentioned to a fairly fine paste.

Add the ground paste into the tomato mixture and cook covered for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat, when the raw smell of all the ingredients have disappeared, add the raw chicken neck pieces. Add salt, cover and let the mixture boil on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, and then on a low simmer for the next 10-12 minutes or until the necks are soft and cooked through. Garnish it with the whole green chilies.

It is complimented with flavored or plain rice. It tastes good with chapathis too. Enjoy!

Salmon in sweet, spicy Mango curry

If you love Salmon, in a spicy curry, try this fusion of sweet mango. It is sure to impress even your worst critic (Dear Husband in my case).
What you will need: Serves 4-5
6 boneless Salmon fillets
1 sweet ripe firm mango, peel the mango with a peeler, dice half and set aside. The other half, use it to grind with the mentioned ingredients
1 cup onions diced
1 cup tomatoes diced
2 tsp vegetable oil
Salt to taste
To grind:
½ mango
1 tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp turmeric
2 tsp chili powder (vary this according to your spice level)
½ tsp garam masala powder
½ tsp black pepper powder
To marinate the fish:
2 tsp vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Method:
Marinate the Salmon fillets in the mentioned ingredients. Set aside for 15 minutes. Grind all the mentioned ingredients to a fine paste.
In a wide, deep skillet, add the oil, and let it heat on medium. Once it starts to smoke, add the onions and let them cook until they are transparent. Add in the tomatoes and let them soften to a pulpy texture. Pour in the ground mango curry paste.

Let it boil on medium for about 4-6 minutes, by this time the oil will start to separate and float on the edges of the pan. Add salt to taste. Gently place the Salmon fillets into the curry, watching not to layer them on top of each other. Cover and let the curry simmer for 15 minutes on low.  Sprinkle the diced mango, serve with hot cooked rice. Enjoy!

Egg Fried rice


So, as a New Year’s resolution, I hit the gym in January, and I have been exercising now, some day’s cardio, yoga, zumba, or just weight training, just something each day, four days a week. It has helped me so much. I have lost weight, lost inches, fitting into clothes I stacked away after the last 2 pregnancies, and I am happier and more energetic. After dinner, my kids and I play, brush our teeth together, read bed time stories, make up goofy songs and giggle. We have made up this ‘tickle time game’ and they have a ball. I rest by their side until they fall asleep, and I come back to my computer, to blog. That is a nice feeling. I am stronger, and most importantly happy :-)

What I used: Serves 2-3
2 eggs
2 cups cooked rice – day old works well
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp oyster sauce
½  tsp pepper powder
1 cup scallions / green onion, finely chopped
Salt to taste
3 tsp oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup onions finely chopped
Veggies: (optional)
1 cup carrots diced
1 cup peas

You may cook rice, and let it cool before using it. Day old rice, in the refrigerator works very well, as it is a little grainier and soaks in the sauces just right. In a glass or porcelain bowl, sprinkle a little water and salt on the carrot and peas, and let it steam cook in the microwave until they are half cooked. Set aside.

In a large wok/pan, add oil over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, break the raw eggs and toss them in. Work it constantly to bring it to a popcorn texture. Add the garlic and green chilies; then the onions, sauté for a minute and add the rice. Work it nonstop until the rice starts to do a little hop dance, on high heat. It is time to add in the carrots and peas, give it a stir, and then in go the sauces; to this add salt, and pepper. Fry until the soy sauce steams most of it is soaked into the rice. Garnish it with scallions/cilantro. Remove from heat. Serve hot! 


Baby Cart Cake







Methi and Corn Pilaf

I had made this for my friend’s baby shower party. All the friends pooled in with their lovely curries, sweets and desserts. Amidst the hustle, my son stuck his finger into a little plastic toy that did not come out with oil or soap. We were away at the urgent care for an hour during her ceremony, and touch wood, his finger had a little bruise. When we came back, the pilaf was over, and everyone was asking me the recipe. Now, isn’t that nice! So I take it turned out great. Here is the recipe. 

What I used: Serves 4/5
2 cups rice
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 cup onions diced
1 cup ripe tomatoes diced
2 tsp fresh ginger and garlic chopped
1 cup fresh or ½ cup dry methi leaves (fenugreek)
2 tsp cilantro finely chopped
A stick on fresh mint leaves
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp Whole Garam masala (1/2 inch cinnamon, 2 cardamoms, 4 cloves, 1tsp fennel seeds)
1 tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp turmeric
2tsp ghee/oil
Salt to taste

First, soak the raw rice in cold water. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Add ghee into a medium pan. Over medium heat, add the whole garam masala, and fennel seeds. Stir in whole mint and methi leaves, chopped ginger, garlic, and onions. Once they turn soft, add chopped tomato. Stirring attentively, cook on medium-high till they are soft and pulpy. About 5-7 minutes.

Add in the corn and powders (chili powder, turmeric and salt), cook for a few minutes. To this mixture, pour 4 cups of hot water (lesser if you like your pilaf flaky, more if you like it soft and mushy) and bring to a boil. Now drain the soaked rice and add it into the bubbling mixture slowly. Let is simmer on high for 3 minutes.

Add in the lime juice, then, cover the simmering mixture on low heat for the next 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally, very gently. All the liquid will evaporate. Test to see if the rice is cooked. If it is watery, let it stay on low heat for a few more minutes. Turn off the heat. Smear the top of the pilaf with 1tsp ghee just before it is served. Serve hot. Enjoy!


Pepper Shrimp/Prawn Fry

This shrimp dish is easy to prepare. I marinated the shrimp in a cilantro and green chili paste, pan roasted them with green pepper and onions in very little oil. 

What I used: Serves 4
2 lb cooked shrimp with tail on
2 cups fresh green pepper/capsicum julienne (cut into thin long strips)
2 cups onion julienne
Marinate:
½ cup fresh cilantro
8-10 green hot chilies (lesser if you like)
½ tsp white pepper powder
½ tsp cumin powder
A pinch of turmeric
1 tsp fresh ginger and garlic or paste
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp yogurt
3-4 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste

Grind all the marinating ingredients into a thick paste, coat the shrimp generously and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Set a large fry pan on medium heat. Add olive oil and sauté the onions and peppers for 2 minutes on medium-high. Add in the marinated shrimp and roast them all together on high heat for a couple of minutes, constantly working them. When the gray shrimp turn pink, and start to curl, turn off the heat. They can be eaten as is, or paired with flavored rice of seasoned toast. Enjoy!


Carrot and Corn Omelet

This is a very colorful and mellow omelet, on the sweeter side, and surely loved by my kids. 

What I used: serves 4
6 eggs
2 cups fresh grated carrot
1 cup corn
1 tsp of cilantro chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheese (optional)

In a little saucepan, cook the corn with a pinch of salt and little water. Once they cook, add in the grated carrot, salt and pepper and sauté for a minute. Turn off the heat and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, add all the eggs and beat them until they double in quantity. 

Heat up a medium-large saucepan.  When it starts to smoke, turn the heat to medium; grease the pan with some non stick cooking spray. Pour about ¾ cup of the beaten eggs. Turn the pan around, to make a wide omelet. 

Scoop about ½ cup of the carrot mixture and place it in the middle of the omelet.  Add in the grated cheese. Cover and let cook until the egg cooks through and cheese melts. Flip one edge over the other to make it a semi circle. 
Repeat to make 4 omelets/servings. Serve hot with toast. Enjoy! 



Turkey Omelet

Now, this is a healthy and filling Sunday brunch. It can be coupled with French toast or a bagel.

What I used: serves 4
6 eggs
2 cups red pepper
Salt to taste
Grated cheese (optional)
To prepare the turkey filling:
1 cup ground turkey
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
½ cup onion diced
½ cup fresh or frozen peas

In a little saucepan, roast the ground turkey until they turn brown. Add onions and peas, cook for a couple of minutes. Add the powders and roast well. Turn off the heat and set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, add all the eggs and beat them until they double in quantity.
Heat up a medium-large saucepan.  When it starts to smoke, turn the heat to medium; grease the pan with some non stick cooking spray. Pour about ¾ cup of the beaten eggs. Turn the pan around, to make a wide omelet. Sprinkle red pepper around the perimeter. Scoop about ½ cup of ground meat, and place it in the middle of the egg.  Add in the grated cheese. Cover and let cook until the egg cooks through and cheese melts. Flip one edge over the other to make it a semi circle. Serve hot. Enjoy!


Celery and corn noodles – Chinese style

What I used: Serves 4
2-8oz pack dried thin Chinese rice/bean noodles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 cup corn
1 cup celery sticks chopped
2 cups green cabbage finely chopped
2 whole eggs hard boiled and halved - Vegans, eliminate this ingredient
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp vinegar
1 Tbsp chili sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until al dente; do not overcook them, or they will become mushy. Drain, and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Sauté ginger and garlic until tender. Stir in the chicken and let it brown, add in the corn and celery, stir well for a few minutes. Add the finely chopped cabbage and sauté on high for just a minute; bring back the heat to medium. Add the noodles and season with soy sauce, chili sauce, salt and pepper. Top it with an egg half and serve hot. Enjoy!

Uddina vade / Medhu vade / Spicy lentil donuts

These spicy, melt in your mouth, vadas are great as snacks, or as a perk with breakfasts like idli (steamy rice cakes) or khara pongal. They taste out of the world with tomato sambhar (another version of lentil curry) or mint chutney. This is our South Indian style of deep fried donuts.

What I used: Makes about 12 medium sized vadas
1 cup uddina bele / Urad Dhal / split black gram
4 green chilies finely chopped
½ tsp finely grated ginger
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
½ tsp whole pepper seeds (optional)
2 tsp fresh or dry coconut (optional)
2 cups vegetable oil to deep fry
Salt to taste

Soak the dhal in water for 3-4 hours. Drain and grind it in a blender until smooth. Add a little water to make it into a thick paste.  

Add oil to a deep fry pan and heat on medium high.  Mix all the chopped ingredients, pepper and salt into the ground batter. You need to make this batter into a donut shape before lowering it into the oil. 

Now, the traditional way is to wet the palm of your hand, place batter, the size of a lemon, make a hole in the center, then gently ease it out of the palm and lay it into a sizzling oil. Just listening to that makes me dizzy. It is really tricky, but I am not complaining, there are people who can do it in a snap. I am not one of them.

My way is, to fill a Ziploc bag with batter, cut a hole thick enough to let out a finger thick batter at the tip. Then press the batter into the oil, as if you were making little rings. You can also use a piping bag, with a large nozzle. Works for me, try it.
Test the heat of the oil with a little blob of the batter. If it sizzles right away and floats up, we are good. Reduce the heat a notch, and fry them to a golden brown on both sides. Drain the excess oil by placing them in a dry colander or on a tissue paper. Serve hot with sambhar or chutney. Enjoy!

 

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