Friday, 7 December 2012

Real Mango Cake (Eggless) with Cream Cheese Frosting

"Tumko dekh ke, yunh lagta hai,
Koi bichda khaab aaya hai.
Barso lambi, raat se guzre,
Subh ka jhonka, laut aaya hai.

Bohot der jaagi, bohot door aayi,
Khaab ne choori, na meri kalaayiin.

Kab se meri, saans ruki thi,
Mujhe saans aayi, mujhe saans aayi, mujhe saans aayi.
Saans mein tere, saans ruki thi, 
Mujhe saans aayi, mujhe saans aayi, mujhe saans aayi..."

Gulzar created a beautiful masterpiece with this song, and it has been tattooed into my heart since the first time I heard it. Every time I think to myself that love could not possibly be expressed in any more ways than music has already done so far, I am yet again surprised by such beautiful lyrics.

When I hear such beautiful music composed by my one and only Rahman, it makes me happy. When I'm happy, I cook. And lately, my happiest form of cooking has been baking. I'm a complete novice at baking, and I've come to realise that baking is such an incredible art, that I am completely overwhelmed by the possibilities and types! There's so much to learn, and there are some really amazing bakers out there; I hope to be even 1/4 as good as them some day.

The biggest hurdle I face when I am baking, is that I cannot, or rather, will not, use eggs and gelatine. But as I've delved into the process a lot more these days, I have found many ways of substituting eggs with other products such as No Egg (a powdered substitute product), Yoghurt, Condensed Milk, Flaxmeal, and Bananas, and these have worked out quite well in different situations.

I really felt like baking something yesterday, and with a few really large and soft mangoes lying around at home, waiting to be gobbled up, I wanted to try something new. I used a very simple recipe to create this amazing delight, that everyone at work went absolutely crazy for! This recipe is pure vegetarian (eggless) and can also be made vegan! I've never had Mango Cake before, so this was a pleasant dish to have that wasn't too sweet, or too heavy; just perfect.

I adapted this recipe from a blogger that I have admired for quite sometime: Nithya from 4th Sense Cooking. She has a highly comprehensive set of recipes on her blog, and is a very talented photographer too. She really inspires me with her mouth-watering dishes and eye-candy photography, and I've tried many of her recipes to date. Thank you Nithya, for this delicious recipe :)


Good food doesn't need to be difficult. Have a go at this simple one:

Ingredients
2 large ripe mangoes
2 cups of self-raising flour (you can use plain flour if you don't have self-raising flour)
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 cup of milk (use soy milk if you are vegan)1/2 cup of melted butter (use oil if you are vegan)
1.5 cups of very fine sugar (castor sugar, icing sugar or white sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cardamom powder (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Peel off the skin from the mangoes, take out the flesh and mash it up in a bowl.
  3. Add the melted butter and fluff it well.
  4. Sieve the flour, baking soda, sugar and salt into the bowl that has the mashed mangoes. You need to sieve it if you want the cake to come out a little fluffy. 
  5. Mix the contents well with a spoon.
  6. Add the vanilla essence, cardamom powder, and milk. Use an electric blender and blend it for a minimum of 5 minutes to make the batter smooth and fluffy. If the batter is too runny, add 1/2 cup of flour. If it is too runny, add some more milk.
  7. Grease the cake pan lightly with a brush of a little oil. Pour in all the batter and spread evenly.
  8. Bake on 180 degrees Celsius for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. 
  9. Allow to cool on a wire rack, and spread some sweet cream cheese on top. 
  10. Enjoy! (This is the most important step)

I was surprised by how soft this cake came out. It wasn't crumbly, but it was really soft and heavenly.

I hope you all enjoy this cake as much as I did :)



Nitya.





Monday, 3 December 2012

Hariyali Channa Masala

"Teri aankhon ki namkeen mastiyaan,
Teri hansi ki beparwaah gustakhiyaan,
Teri zulfon ki lehrati angdaiyaan,
Nahi bhoolunga main,
Jab tak hai jaan, jab tak hai jaan, jab tak hai jaan..."

We went to see Jab Tak Hai Jaan last night, and I must say that I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. I admire Shahrukh, no doubt, but the trailer did not particularly impress me. In short, the cinematography was brilliant, the music was fantastic (especially the theme music), the story was interesting and captivating, and the film overall carried very well. Much to my dismay though, I tried searching for some acting talent in Katrina, to no avail. Anushka, on the other hand, made a commendable effort.

Rahman's music has always been one that I have adored to the last note, but one that has taken time to grow on to me. I hear it for the first time, and I don't love it immediately. But as the tune plays repeatedly in my heart, and beats at it with its charm, I realise what a masterpiece it is. The theme music really seeped into my bloodstream yesterday, and I've found myself repeating Adi Chopra's poetry and humming the theme music.

So I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Yash Chopra for a lifetime of amazing films, memories and melodies. No matter what anyone says, you will always be the one that gave us the gem that is DDLJ. 

--

On another note, I'd like to share with you a recipe I tried out yesterday, that was a smashing success. 

I read a lot of blogs, and follow many religiously, and one such blog I follow is Foodelicious. This highly talented blogger has taught me a lot on cooking, and allowed me to experience some truly lip-smacking dishes! I tried one of her dishes yesterday - Hariyali Channa Masala, and absolutely loved it.

Please head to her site to view this original creation of hers: Hariyali Chana Masala


 

One of the many reasons I love this dish, is for the natural flavours it brings out with the unnecessary addition of masala powders or processed food. The best part about this dish is the hint of mint you get from the spinach and chana combination. I was blown away by how good and simple this dish is, and it took me not more than half an hour to have it ready on a plate to gobble up.

 

Thanks Pari, for introducing me to this fantastic dish. I will definitely be making this often!



Nitya

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Eggless Sunken Macaroons

It's Karthigai Deepam today! Wishing you all health, inner peace and prosperity on this day, and for the years ahead.

 



Some time back, my best friend, Uma, was over at our house for lunch. As I was day dreaming, she tapped me back into reality and said, look, the sun is shining so brightly into the house, that it looks as though the lamp is lit. It felt God sent, and I had to take a photograph. Sure, I'm not very well equipped (camera phone), and photos cannot to justice to how beautiful the sight was, but it was all I could do. Isn't it pretty? It was as though Devi herself was lighting the lamp in our house. What a wonderful feeling!

I would like to firstly share with you a few lines from our Devi Mahathmiyam, that I particularly love. It brings a smile to my face everytime I listen to it, because it puts our Devi's fire and power so beautifully:

"Avvaarey devargal idamirundu nee veli kilambi, oli aanaay,
Ellam oliyum, ondraay saerndhu, Devi ne per oli aanay!
Per oliyaana Devi nee, pizhambu malai pol jwalithai,
Moo ulagangalayum, kaanthiyaal vyaabithai."

Our Lord is the amalgamation of all powers and flames in this universe, and in all fires, our Devi is prevalent. From the pure souls of our saints, Devi comes in the form of a bright light and glistens upon us all. All the rays in the universe are an embodiment of her, and she shows herself in her purest form when these rays are combined! Devi, our lustrous Devi, you shine so radiantly and emanate your purity upon us and the entire universe!

There's another song from the movie Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, that makes me think of my Devi in one particular line:

"Tu khush hai toh lageh ke jahaan mein chaayi hai khushi,
Suraj nikle baadalon se aur baatein zindagi!"


What a beautiful way to express the distribution of light and happiness. The song, of course, relates to the girl he's singing to, but I personally relate it to the way in which God sheds light upon us everyday... :)

If any of you would like a copy of the Devi Mahathmiyam (mp3 file and word document), please email me at rnitya25@gmail.com.

On such an auspicious day, we all light lamps in our home, to symbolise the presence of our Devi and invite her into our home, to bless us and give us the inner strength. Traditionally, Pori Urundai and Sweet Appam are made on this day for our Devi. But I fear not, my mum, my world's greatest cook, is at home and she has all of this ready :)

I wanted to try a dish too.. For a long time, I've been searching for a really good eggless macaroon recipe, as I don't eat egg. I came across many recipes, and tried a few out with some tweaks. The only problem I always had was that my macaroons would never rise up and stay up. They'd always sink down and I would end up with a sort of thin, but VERY sweet, pastry type of thing.

BUT, this is not necessarily a bad thing! It still tastes fantastic, and it means that I can put stuff into the sunken centre!

So this is what we ended up with...


It's a great dish to serve as a light dessert too. The crispy shell outside, complementing the soft and gooey inside - it's a little cup of heaven. It tastes great with a dash of chocolate, but alternatively, you can always top it with a bit of jam or cream, or have as is!



So here goes... an original invention for the lazy ones out there who want to make something sweet for a festival, without putting much effort into it.


Eggless Sunken Macaroons

Ingredients
  • 1 tin of Skim/Light Condensed Milk (400 gms)
  • 1 cup of self raising flour (or 1 cup of plain flour with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder)
  • 1 cup of shredded coconut (I used dessicated coconut, which is dry coconut scrappings)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar. This is optional, because it makes the dish on the highly sweeter side. If you prefer mild sweetness, leave this out.
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutella per macaroon.
Total time required: 20 - 30 minutes
Yield: About 25 small macaroons.


Method

Preheat your oven to 170 Degrees Celsius.

Take a bowl, and add all the above ingredients to it (except Nutella) and mix very well.

If your mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon of flour to it. If it's too runny, add a bit of milk to it.

Add 1 spoon of the mixture to your muffin tray or paper cups.


Bake for approximately 10 minutes. In this time, your macaroons will rise up, and then sink back down. I have absolutely no idea how to make them stay up; they eventually come back to base.

See how puffy and gorgeous they look below! I only wish there were a way to retain that puff... ideas, anyone?


Once they start to brown around the edges, remove them out of the oven and immediately pour half a spoon of nutella into each macaroon.


Serve warm. Once they cool down completely, it will be quite difficult to get out the muffin cups. So when serving, heat for no more than 10 seconds and serve warm. It goes great with a cup of coffee!


Enjoy!


Nitya

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Chocolate Burfi



"Sri Om Lakshmi, engal Lakshmi,
Unnai ninaithu deepam yetrugirom.
Unnai vendi, geetham paadi,
Devi, unn idam varigirom.
Annam tharuga, gnaanam tharuga,
Devi nee eppozhuthum sandosham tharuga.
Velichathai kaati, annathai ooti,
Engal veetil, engal manadhil nee irukka."



Wishing everyone a wonderful, prosperous and yummy-food-filled Diwali!


I love these festivals. Not only is it a time for family to get together and rejoice the triumph of good over evil, we also get to eat sinfully delicious food - no excuses! Our Diwali has been filled with amazing delicacies prepared by my mother, including Dry Jamun, Ribbon Pakoda, Thattai/Nipattu, Badam Burfi/cake and the very, very special Deepavali marundhu (medicine) that we traditionally eat after all the festivities to reduce the uptake of the bad stuff associated with such sinful food. It almost makes it okay to eat whatever you want!


I once made milk peda and it came out really well, so I thought - why not do the same thing, but add a little chocolate to it? Simple enough. Yummy, no doubt.

 

I'm obviously never going to be able to make chocolate as good as Lindt or Ferrero, but this will do for the interim.


This recipe makes about 30 burfi pieces, ample for you to devour whilst leaving a few for your loved ones :P 


It's a quick recipe, and doesn't require too much work, but it's absolutely imperative to watch this through every second of preparation to make sure it doesn't go wrong.





Ingredients

1.5 cups sugar (I used fine white sugar)
10 tablespoons of water
1 cup of pure cocoa powder
2 cups of milk powder (I used skim)
1 teaspoon of vanilla/almond/rose essence (whatever you prefer; almond works best)
2 teaspoons of ghee


Method

1. Put the sugar and the water in a non-stick pan. Cook it on a medium flame, until it reaches one-string consistency. One-string consistency takes about 8 - 10 minutes to reach, and is a stage where if you touched the sugar syrup, it would stretch out like glue. The important thing is to not allow it to go too far, because then it will go to two-string consistency and your burfi will come out hard. How do I know this? Been there. Done that.

2. As soon as your sugar syrup reaches the stage of one-string consistency, IMMEDIATELY add the milk powder, essence, cocoa powder and ghee.


3. Mix very well, and turn off the flame just after 30 seconds. If you leave it on the flame too long, your burfi will turn out hard.


4. Once you've turned off the stove, mix the blend well, and put it onto a plate, spread it out with a spatula and cut it into pieces. Allow to cool before serving.





Enjoy this easy and quick chocolate burfi with your loved ones this Diwali :)



HAPPY DIWALI/DEEPAVALI!!!!!


Nitya.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Baingan Ka Bhartha Recipe


Baingan (aka Aubergine, Eggplant, Kathirikai, Bhaingan, Brinjal) is one of my favourite vegetables to play around with. If cooked adequately, there are so many dishes you can make - eggplant parmigiana, lasagne, smoked eggplant curry, gojju/gotsu, morr kozhambu/kadhi, vatha kozhambu, and one of my husband's favourites - Baingan Ka Bharta. Not only is it vegetarian, it's vegan!

 

It was my husband's birthday a few days ago, and he was lucky enough to have two birthdays - his star birthday (by nakshathiram) and his actual birthday, which were on the 2nd and the 3rd. We had a large aubergine sitting in the vegetable stand, and instead of making the usual kathirikai-kaai or gojju, I thought I'd mix it up a little. He loves this dish, but moreover, he loves anything spicy.

It's unfortunate that I was told by my guru once that Baingan isn't very good for you, because for people with sensitive skin, such as myself, it aggravates skin conditions. So around here, we keep Baingan to a minimum, but when we do have it, we go all out!!

Preparing this dish is quite time consuming, but it's worth all the effort taken. Please bear in mind that to create this dish, you will require a gas stove, as you will need to burn the skin off the large eggplant whilst it's cookin' and smokin' inside.
The smoky aroma that this dish emanates is simply mindblowing, so much so, that it's almost too difficult to wait till it's ready to dive in! This dish is best served with some warm parathas, naans or kulchas. Funnily enough, it's okay to prepare this dish a day early, because by the next day, the flavours are so well drunken into the eggplant over a few hours, that it tastes even better! 


You see, the best thing about this recipe, given to me by my dearest mother, is that it's made with all natural ingredients. No boxed masala, no canned tomatoes, and no artificial flavours or colours. You're simply getting the right flavours to complement the smoky baingan. Ah, we've achieved the yum.





Ingredients

1 large eggplant/aubergine
2 large tomatoes (or 3 small)
1 large onion
1 teaspoon of jeera (cumin seeds)
2 tablespoons of oil (I used olive oil, but almost any type of oil is fine)
2 green chillies, chopped very finely
1/2 teaspoon of hing/asafoetida/perungayam
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of kashmiri/red chilli powder
1 teaspoon dhania/coriander powder
Salt to taste


1. Poke two forks/knives/skewers into the top of the large eggplant, and place it directly on the flame as shown in the above picture. Make sure it roasts really really well, all around, such that it will literally appear burnt at the end of it. Make sure that you not only roast the bottom, but also the top. All of it should be well cooked. See:



2. After it's nicely barbequed, place the eggplant on a plate and let it cool for just 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, chop the onions, green chillies and tomatoes and keep aside (separately).

4. Now, take the large eggplant, and place it in a bowl of cold water. Slowly and carefully, peel off the skin so you are left with just the top of the eggplant and the flesh inside. Cut off the top. Now, place the flesh in a bowl and mash it till it looks like this:


5. In a cooking pot, add the oil and let it heat up. Once it's hot, add the jeera and allow it to splutter. Then add the chopped onions and green chillies. Also add the turmeric, hing and chilli powder. Allow to cook for a few minutes.





6. Now add the tomatoes, and allow it to cook until the raw smell of the tomatoes disappears.

7. Add the mashed eggplant, and mix it really well such that it blends very well. Mash it some more if need be.

8. Add the dhania powder and salt to taste.

9. Allow it to cook for about 10 minutes on a medium flame, with a lid on top. 

After this, taste it to check whether it is too spicy. If so, add 1/2 a cup of milk and allow it to boil till it's almost evaporated. This will reduce the spiciness. If you don't want to add milk, you can always add 2 tablespoons of yoghurt after you have turned the flame off, and mix it into the dish to reduce the spiciness. This has always worked wonders for me. 

If you are vegan simply add a little soy milk instead, but right at the end. Don't let it boil. Simply fold in with the curry.

10. Once it is well cooked, turn off the flame and serve hot with kulchas/parathas/naans.





I'm enjoying this delicious curry with some parathas, listening to one of our favourite tunes - Tere Bina from Guru. Only the sweet voice of Chinmayi and the tough-romantic voice of A.R Rahman can do justice to such a blissful moment. Happy Birthday Hubby.



Love,

Nitya.



Tags: baingan bhartha bharta eggplant aubergine kathrikai kathirikai subji sabzi curry vegetarian vegan indian india recipe dish cooking instruction step

Friday, 2 November 2012

Pilot.

I've learnt that greatest happiness in life is in giving happiness to those around you, particularly your loved ones. I've also learnt that nothing is more satisfying than doing something you are passionate about, successfully. Anyone who knows me very well, knows that my biggest passions lie with my family, my cats, cooking, music, photography, traveling and writing. These passions of mine are my window to getting closer to God; the roots to my branches; the strings to my guitar. Time, of course, brings in constraints in being able to satisfy these passions, but when times does permit, it is heavenly. Such satisfaction isn't meant to be described in words, but in action.

I've wanted to create a blog for a really long time, because I follow about 50 blogs religiously, and I've always seen so much of myself in each blogger. It's about time I did something, I thought.

I'm simply here to share my passions with the world, as so many bloggers have to date. Come join me in my kitchen, my photo booth, my travelogue, my recording studio, my writing desk and my mind. I can't promise you anything mindblowing, but I can promise you a world of absolute passion and sincere authenticity.

Thank you for visiting.


Nitya