What I baked in August

In the month of August I did some baking, after a very long time. Not much, just a bit; but it was really nice to be able to set aside some time for a much neglected hobby.

At the beginning of the month, I baked Apple and Cinnamon Muffins from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen.

The recipe called for either spelt or plain flour. I don’t think spelt is available in India and since I wanted it to be as healthy as possible, I contemplated using whole wheat flour. But I wasn’t sure what the result would be, so I thought who better to ask and I tweeted Nigella.

Guess what – NIGELLA LAWSON REPLIED TO MY TWEET!

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Like I needed any more reasons to love this lady!

It took me a week to get down to the actual baking and I made the last minute executive decision to use half wholewheat and half plain flour. As with all the Nigella recipes I have tried, the muffins too turned out great.

A couple of weeks later, I did something that I have never done before – bake on my birthday! Since it was a Saturday, my 4-year old son was at home and he helped me bake Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Icing, a recipe I found on kidspot.com.au and altered a bit.

This is one of the easiest recipes I have come across and the cupcakes are really delicious.

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Here is my modified version of the recipe: Continue reading

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The versatility of Indian Cooking

One of the things I love about cooking Indian food is that the process is quite versatile. If you don’t have one ingredient, you can always substitute it for another, resulting in a slightly different flavour. When I’ve run out of jeera (cumin) seeds, I have used mustard; when I’ve wanted a slightly different taste to a tried and tested chicken curry recipe, I have added a little whipped yoghurt or coconut milk. Almost every single time, the result has been great! I encourage anyone who wants to cook Indian food to keep experimenting, till you arrive at a flavour that you like. (Of course, there are some finely tuned recipes that I would never tamper with, such as a good Butter Chicken or the perfect Biriyani!)

I very rarely follow a recipe exactly. I find that at the very least I end up adjusting the proportions of the ingredients, to suit my taste. For example, in the recipe I am about to talk about, the original says to use 2 teaspoons of chilli powder, but that sounded like an awful lot for my taste buds, so I reduced it to 1, and since I like the flavour of coriander powder, I adjusted the recommended 1 teaspoon to 2. Also, with Indian spices I find that different brands have a different intensity, especially when it comes to chilli powder. I try to use spice powders that I have ground and not the store bought ones, but this isn’t always possible.

Anyway, now on to that recipe! Continue reading

Iftar Food in Bangalore

 

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A small sample of the various types of Biriyani that were on offer

As Islam’s holy month of Ramadan (also known as Ramzan) is coming to an end today, I thought I would share with you my experience with the delicious Iftar food I ate last week in Bangalore, India.

Iftar refers to the evening meal with which believers break the fast that they observe during daylight hours.

Bangalore’s Mosque Road comes alive at the time of the breaking of the fast and every year during Ramadan permanent restaurants and temporary food stalls are abuzz with activity. The sights, smells and tastes are a royal treat for the senses!

This was my first year at Mosque Road during Ramadan, though I have been meaning to check it out for some years.

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Grilled and fried meats including Chicken, Mutton, Lamb, Crabs, Fish and Prawns, all made with various combinations of spices

 

My favourite dish was Haleem, a slow cooked mutton, wheat and lentil dish, flavoured with spices such as cinnamon and cardamom. Sometimes it is made with chicken or beef and some rice or barley as well. This was only my second time eating Haleem, the first being when I happened to be in Hyderabad during Ramadan one year, but it is now definitely on my list of comfort foods and I plan to try my hand at making it.

Another one of my favourites last week was something called Cream Chicken Stick (see third tray from the left on the top row in the picture above)– chicken on a skewer, dipped in a stringy, eggy (and I’m guessing cream) batter and deep fried. It was so good! My 4 year old had three of them at one go!  Continue reading

Remnants of The Raj at a Christmas Lunch

I have recently returned from a trip to Ooty, a hill station located at around 7400 ft above sea level, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. I used to visit Ooty fairly often as a child with my parents, but as an adult I last went around 8 years ago. This was the first time I was there around Christmas and I can’t think of a better time of the year to visit.

The cold weather and landscape of rolling hills, mountain trees, beautiful flowers and elegant old homes and cottages enhanced the Christmassy atmosphere.

One of the highlights of my trip was the Christmas Lunch at the Ootacamund Club, held on the Saturday before Christmas.

Incidentally, it was at this colonial club (established in 1842) that Snooker was invented.

Stepping into the club – with its colonial architecture, wooden floors, fireplaces, stunning animal trophies, immaculately maintained premises and adherence to customs of yesteryear – one is immediately transported to another era, and left conjuring images of what the days of the Raj would have been like. Continue reading

Three Tips for Successful Indian Cooking

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Food and everything to do with it is one of my loves and is supposed to be one of the aspects that make up this blog. I realise however, that that hasn’t been the case – I have written precisely one post under the category Food! The reason has everything to do with the fact that Food – and the cooking and eating of it – hasn’t exactly been at the top of my list of priorities in the recent and not so recent past. But since this blog IS all about my inherently intermittent journey with reacquainting myself with my ‘loves’, I shan’t be too hard on myself. I shall however, endeavour to right this wrong!

Since I am Indian, I thought perhaps I would begin with something to do with Indian food. After a bit of pondering I came up with my ‘Three Tips for Successful Indian Cooking’. (Yes, I know. Who the hell do I think I am! Madhur Jaffrey!?) Anyway, if you find any of these tips helpful, do let me know! Continue reading

Hot Stuff! (an experiment with chilli pickle)

One of the areas I’m interested in is Food and I love to cook. Now, I’m not saying I’m an excellent cook, simply that I LOVE to cook and I LOVE to eat!

I recently got my hands on some farm fresh chillies – straight from the farm to my kitchen. Here’s a picture of them:
bullet chilli pic for blog

It would have taken me at least 3 months to finish all the chillies had I used them merely for everyday cooking, so I decided to try my hand at making pickle – for the first time! Continue reading