25 November 2011

Butter Cake

It's so much 'utterly butterly delicious'. That says it. The butter cake was so soft and moist. I have had store bought ones many times before I started baking. Home made ones are surely the winner. My kids were like 'give me more'. :) That says it all. Kids are one of the best (and most tough) judges for your cooking. The smell of butter cake was wafting all over my house. Aah..it was too good.

It just reminded me of the simple cake that mom used to make. I loved baking cakes from the age of 10. Yes, my first baking expedition was then. My best friend's mom bakes such yummy cakes and I thought why not give it a try. It was an utter failure then. LOL..I still remember melting loads of chocolate to make that yummy chocolate cake. Now you know why you see me baking often.

 Looks like the festive season is already here. Enjoy!



INGREDIENTS
Recipe adapted from here

All Purpose Flour - 200g
Double Action Baking Powder - 2 tsp
Granulated Sugar - 180g
Salt - 1/2 tsp*
Unsalted Butter - 250g
Eggs - 4
Milk - 4tbsp
Vanilla Essence - 1tsp



METHOD
Preheat oven at 180 degree for 15 minutes.
Prepare a 22cm square baking pan by greasing it and lining with butter paper/ parchment paper.
Mix the dry ingredients - All purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Sieve it 3 times.
In a separate bowl mix the butter and sugar. Mix it till it becomes pale yellow.
Add one egg at a time and keep mixing with a hand blender.
Beat well till the mixture becomes of creamy consistency.
Add the vanilla essence.
Add the flour in 3-4 batches taking care to mix well after each addition.
Finally add milk spoon by spoon and mix well.
Transfer the mixture to the baking pan. Tap it lightly on the work space to remove air bubbles and distribute batter evenly.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the skewer inserted comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool. 
Slice and serve warm.


Tips:
Use eggs and butter at room temperature.
* If you are using salted butter then omit the salt. But I suggest using unsalted one as the salt added brings out the taste and flavor of the cake.
Add eggs only one at a time and beat on low speed as it may curdle if added too quickly. In that case add 1 or 2 tbsp of flour.

21 November 2011

Chocolate Brownies

Let's begin this new week with some rich chocolate brownies. Pack some in your bag and munch it during your break. Good idea? Who can resist brownies. Brownies are baked square bars with rich and dense chocolate. They are very famous in the U.S and a popular lunch box item. A high energy treat.Wow! Chocolate-y goodness in the lunch box. I love chocolate in any form and in a brownie its even better. It is so crunchy and chewy. I got to taste brownies for the first time when Ria baked it for us. It was just awesome!! 

So here it is ...Enjoy!



INGREDIENTS
Recipe Source : Ria

All Purpose Flour - 1 1/4 cup
Cocoa Powder - 2 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Chocolate - 310 gm
Unsalted Butter - 1 cup
Granulated Sugar - 1 1/2 cup
Brown Sugar - 1/2 cup
Eggs - 5
Vanilla Essence - 2 tsp



METHOD
Preheat oven to 175 degree C.
Whisk flour, cocoa powder and salt.
Chop the chocolate and butter into pieces.
In a double boiler , melt the butter and chocolate together.
When it is melted,  remove from fire and add in sugar till it dissolves.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Once cooled add 3 eggs and stir.
Then add 2 eggs and vanilla essence. Stir slowly. Do not over beat.
Fold in the flour in small batches just until its mixed.
When the batter is well blended transfer it to a square baking pan lined with parchment paper or foil liner.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick comes out crumbly and slightly moist.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Once cool, lift the ends of the parchment paper or foil and transfer it to a plate.
Place the brownies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes so that it cools. Cut it into squares.



Tips:
Be careful not to over beat the mixture.
While lining the tin with parchment paper leave enough paper on the sides to be able to lift the brownies once cooled.
If you are using salted butter then omit the salt.
Don't be tempted to over bake it as brownies continue to cook in the trapped heat even after it is removed from the oven.
Brownies need to be refrigerated so that it is easier to cut it into clear lines/pieces.


19 November 2011

Shahi Paneer / Cottage Cheese in an Exotic Gravy

Shahi Paneer - the name itself suggests its a Royal curry with cottage cheese. It is one of the famous North Indian gravy which is usually had with naan or roti. 'Shahi' seems to be the Indo - Persian name for Royal which denotes that this curry is of Mughal origin in India.

Paneer is cooked in a spicy creamy sauce.The spices that go into the gravy makes it tongue tickling. It is a main course vegetarian gravy dish.



INGREDIENTS
Paneer - 500 gms
Clove - 6
Bay Leaves - 2
Cinnamon - 3   1'' sticks
Green Cardamoms - 6
Onion Paste - 1 cup
Ginger Paste - 2 tbsp
Garlic Paste - 2 tbsp
Red Chilli Powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric- 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder- 1 tsp
Cashew Paste - 2 tbsp
Yoghurt - 1 1/4 cup
Warm water - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 2 tsp
Cream - 1/2 cup
Garam Masala - 1tsp
Green Cardomom Powder - 1/2 tsp
Saffron - a few strands dissolved in 1 tbsp milk
Coriander Leaves- 1 tbsp
Red Colour - 2 drops
Oil - 5 tbsp
Salt - to taste





METHOD

  • Heat oil in a pan; add cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and green cardamoms.
  • Saute on medium heat. When they begin to crackle add onion paste. Saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add the ginger, garlic paste, red chlly powder, turmeric, cashew paste, red colour and salt.
  • Add yoghurt, warm water and sugar. Bring it to a slow boil and simmer till the oil separates.
  • Remove the whole spices.Cool and blend in a mixer.
  •  Reheat, stir in the cream, garam masala, cardamom powder and saffron mixture.
  • Add paneer and cook on low for 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with Naan/ Roti/ any Indian Bread.


Tips:
I have halved the paneer because I wanted more gravy. If you like it thick then use 1 kg paneer.

15 November 2011

Pazham Pori / Ripe Banana Fritters

Pazham Pori/ Ripe Banana Fritters is one of the most common snack in any Kerala household. One of the easiest and yummy snack with a cup of tea or coffee. This snack is made from ripe Nendra variety bananas. The trick to making the best pazham pori is the ripeness of the banana. It should not be too ripe.

You will be surprised to see the variety of dishes prepared with banana in Kerala. The banana plants are put to the maximum use. We use the banana flower, banana stem, the raw banana, the ripe banana and of course the banana leaves (for sadhya and making ada). 

I still have fond memories of my summer vacation in Kerala. We used to get so excited when our flight is about to land in Kerala. The view is amazing. The only thing you can see is lush green landscape. It is so cooling to the eyes and soul. Like coconut trees one thing you will find in common in Kerala are the banana plants. Bananas are something we cannot do without any day. The variety available is amazing.




INGREDIENTS

3 Ripe  Banana (Nendra variety) also called Ethapazham
1 Cup All purpose flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
A small pinch Baking Soda
A small pinch of Salt
1 cup water*
Oli for deep frying



METHOD
Peel the bananas and thinly slice them length wise.
In a bowl mix the dry ingredients together.
Add water and make it into thick batter.
Heat oil in a kadai.
Transfer the sliced bananas into the batter.
Coat the bananas well with the batter.
When the oil is hot (not smoking hot) add in the banana pieces. About 3 at a time.
Fry both sides till golden in colour and using a slotted spoon transfer to a plate layered with kitchen tissue.
Serve hot with tea /coffee.



Tips:
You can cut the banana into 2 and then cut them lengthwise to make smaller fritters. Check the above picture.
For the authentic taste use coconut oil.
* Keep adding water till it is of thick pouring consistency.
Turmeric powder is added just for colour.
While frying, if the bananas stick to each other just separate them with the slotted spoon in the kadai itself.

10 November 2011

Malabar Chicken Biriyani

Biriyani or Beriani (Persian) is one of the famous Indian rice dish. It seems to have originated from Iran and brought to India by Arab traders. It has been indianised to suit the palette of each region and we have so many varieties of biriyani. If you know a million people then there is a chance that you will get to taste a million variety of biriyanis. :) 
Malabar Chicken Biriyani is the biriyani famous in Northern Kerala. I would like to share with you my Amma's recipe which is one of the best I have tasted. 



 INGREDIENTS 
Recipe Source: My Amma

Short grain Rice/Neychottari
1 kg
Chicken
1 kg
Onion
6+3 thinly sliced
Chilly
2
Tomato
5
Ginger paste
3 teaspoon
Garlic paste
3 teaspoon
Cinnamon
2 (1’ piece)
Clove
12
Cardomom
12
Raisins
1 cup
Nutmeg
1
Star Anise
3
Cashew
1 cup
Yoghurt
1 cup
Chilli Powder
1 tbsp
Coriander Powder
3 tbsp
Turmeric Powder
½ teaspoon
Aniseed Powder(perinjeerakam)
1 teaspoon
Poppy seeds(Khus-Khus)
2 teaspoon
Coconut
½ cup
Lime juice
2 teaspoon
Garam masala
1 teaspoon
Bay leaf
2
Water
7 glass
Coriander leaves
½ cup
Pudina Leaves
½ cup
Ghee
½ cup
Sunflower oil
2 tbsp
Rose water
50 ml






METHOD
1. Make a fine paste of 1/2 cup raisins along with yogurt.
2. Marinate the chicken with this paste along with 1 teaspoon ginger paste, 1 teaspoon garlic paste and salt. Marinate for 2 hours.
3. Wash rice and keep aside to drain.
4. Boil water (1:2 rice water ratio) along with cloves(6), cardamom(6), Star Anise(2), Cinnamon(1), Bay leaf(1), Nutmeg and salt.
5. Heat ghee in a vessel. Add rice and saute for 5 minutes. Then use a strainer and pour the boiling water. Check salt and let cook in low flame. When cooked keep to cool for 5 minutes and stir it carefully with a fork to remove lumps.
6. Heat oil in a  cooker. Add the remaining cloves, cardamom, Star Anise, Cinnamon, Bay leaf. Saute for 1 minute. Add the thinly sliced onions(6) and saute till onions turn translucent.
7. Add ginger garlic paste, chilly and saute. Add chilly powder, Coriander powder, Turmeric, aniseed powder, 1/2 teaspoon garam masala and saute for a minute.
8. Add tomatoes and saute well. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add lime and salt. By this time boil 3 glass water separately.
9. Add the marinated chicken , coriander leaves, Pudina leaves and saute for 1 minute.
10. Add boiled water, Check salt and close the cooker. 2 whistles if marinated overnight else switch off just before the 3rd whistle.
11. Make a paste of coconut, 1/4 cup cashew and poppy seeds.
12. Add this paste to the chicken masala and let it boil.
13. Pour the remaining ghee in a small pan. Fry the raisins then the cashews. Lastly fry the remaining three thinly sliced onions . Lay it on a plate with kitchen tissue.
14. Take a big nonstick pan and make alternating layers of rice, chicken masala, roasted cashew, raisins, roasted onions,garam masala and sprinkle rose water (Remove the bay leaf).
15. Close it with an airtight lid and put a heavy weight on top. Cook in low flame for 10-15 minutes.
16. Serve hot with raita and chutney.




Tips: 
You can use Basmati Rice for the biriyani.
If you like to be very spicy add 2 green chillies.
Instead of keeping it on the stove after layering you can place it in a microwave and cook for 4-5 minutes. But close it with a lid and do so.
While layering you can add finely chopped coriander leaves.

07 November 2011

Chocolate Coffee Pudding

Are you craving for something chocolate-y? Then try this  moist delicious pudding which is soft and gooey. An absolute delight for chocolate and coffee lovers. It is also called Self Saucing Pudding because this pudding makes its own sauce while baking !

 I am a Chocoholic and this pudding is absolute bliss. One of my other favorite is the Molten Lava Cake.





INGREDIENTS
Recipe adapted from here
Makes 9 ramekins

Flour - 190 g
Granulated Sugar - 180 g
Baking Powder - 3 tsp
Cocoa Powder - 3 tbsp
Coffee Powder - 3 tbsp 
Melted Butter - 130 g
Eggs - 3
Vanilla Essence- 2 tsp
Milk - 375 ml

For the topping: ( I suggest you reduce the quantity to half as this is enough to top 18 ramekins)
Brown Sugar - 280g
Cocoa Powder - 3 tbsp
Boiling water - 300ml





METHOD
Preheat oven at 180 degree.
Mix the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, cocoa. coffee and baking powder.
Add the wet ingredients - butter, eggs, vanilla essence and milk.
Mix until well combined.
Grease ramekins and pour the batter till half.
Mix the brown sugar and cocoa. Sprinkle on top of each filled ramekins.
Pour boiling water until the powdered mass is fully covered in water. Do not mix.
Bake for 20 mins or until a good crust is formed.
Have it just like that or with vanilla ice cream.




Tips:
Do not over bake else it will not be gooey inside.
You can use 6 tbsp melted dark chocolate instead of 3 tbsp cocoa.
Dust on top with powdered sugar/ cocoa powder.



04 November 2011

Nadan Meen Curry/ Traditional Kerala Fish Curry - Malabar Style

Nadan Meen Curry - the flavorful delicious fish curry of Kerala. There won't be any house in the coastal area that does not make it excepting vegetarians. It is made daily with fresh catch of the day be it Ayila(Mackerel), Ayakkora (King Fish) or Natholi (Anchovy). Again as you go from place to place or even house to house the recipe will be different, the flavour different to suit ones palate and taste. I would like to share the recipe we make at home. 

I remember that every time we go on a trip to outstations, I crave to come back home and have Amma's fish curry and rice. It is an amazing combination. 



INGREDIENTS

Fish - 1/2 kg ( Anchovy/ Natholi )
Finely Ground Coconut - 4 cups
Chilly Powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Green Chilly - 3 (slit)
Shallots(Cheriya ulli) - 4
Ginger (finely chopped) - 1 tbsp
Jeera Powder - 1/2 tsp
Fish Masala - 1 tbsp(optional) (I used Eastern Fish Masala)
Tomato -1
Tamarind - size of one medium lime
Water - 1/2 litre (approx)
Salt - as required
Coconut Oil - 1 1/2 tbsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs



METHOD

Heat coconut oil in a clay pot.
Add shallots and saute till soft.
Add chopped tomato, chilly and ginger. Stir.
In a small bowl soak tamarind using 1/4 cup water from the measured water.
Add the ground coconut and tamarind water.
Add jeera powder, chilly powder, turmeric powder and fish masala.
Let it come to a boil. It has to boil for about 5 minutes on medium flame.
Add salt and curry leaves.
Add fish slowly. When it boils well for 2 minutes remove from fire.
Serve hot with rice.



Tips:
If you are using any other fish i.e Mackerel/King Fish) marinate the fish using 1/2 tsp of turmeric, 1/2 tsp chilly powder and salt for 15 minutes.
Do not pour all the water. Check consistency and add as required. It is from this 1/2 litre that you can use to grind coconut and to soak tamarind. Remaining if need be, can be added if required when the fish masala is boiling before adding the fish.
Do not cook for more than 2 minutes as Natholi is a small fish it will get over cooked and break.








02 November 2011

Neer Dosa / Pan Pole

Just like we have the lacy Appam in Kerala, Neer Dosa is the lacy dosa of Karnataka. So simple and delicious.  I am sure you all know about my love for Mangalorean food. This is one among them. 

'Neer' in Kannada means water. Neer Dosa the name suggests watery dosa. The batter is watery. It is paper thin and non fermented. Tastes best with chicken ghee roast  or even a simple coconut chutney. It can be made in a non stick pan but the best ones are when made on  a caste iron skillet. The texture is so different.




INGREDIENTS

Raw rice - 1 1/2 cup
Grated Coconut - 2 tsp
Cooked Rice - 1 tbsp (added this to make dosa soft)
Water - enough to make batter watery
Salt to taste
Oil for greasing skillet



METHOD
Soak rice overnight or for 2 hours.
Grind it to a fine paste along with coconut and rice.
Heat the skillet with high edges.
Grease the skillet lightly.
Scoop the batter with a deep medium round ladle.
Pour it into the skillet. Lift the skillet and tilt so that the batter covers the skillet.
Pour little batter in places not covered.
Cover and cook for half a minute or until the dosa starts leaving the sides.
Remove and let cool for 5 -10 secs. Then fold into half and then into quarter forming a triangle shape.
Serve hot with chutney/chicken Curry or fish curry.





Tips:
To grease the tawa cut a medium sized onion and poke it with a fork. Dip in oil and grease.
Pour just one ladle of batter at a time else the neer dosa will become thick.