December 29, 2008

Basic Vanilla Cupcakes-Vanilla Sponge Cupcakes Recipe

The best way to start baking after a long time is from the basics. I have always loved the simplicity of plain cakes, or tea cakes, as they are sometimes called. My mom used to make them quite regularly as a snack when we were in school. She used those manual egg-beaters that formed beautiful white peaks when the egg whites have been beaten for about 45 minutes.

Basic Vanilla Cupcakes-Vanilla Sponge Cupcakes Recipe
This recipe doesn't call for beating the egg too much cuz since I don't have an electric beater, I go for such recipes mostly.

Basic Vanilla Cupcakes - Vanilla Sponge Cupcakes Recipe
What I Used:
(Makes about 16 cupcakes)

Butter - 1/2 cup, at room temperature
All purpose flour / maida - 1 3/4 cups
Powdered sugar 1 cup (measure after powdering)
Egg - 1
Milk - 3/4 cup, at room temperature
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

How I Made It:

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cream butter and sugar together until nicely mixed.

3. Use a fork and whisk the egg for about 10-15 minutes. The more you beat, the softer the cupcakes turn out. I lose patience at the end of 15 mins or so.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt until blended well. I didn't have a sieve until recently so before that, I just used to put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

5. Once the flour mixture is well blended, add to the butter-sugar mixure.

6. Mix well, in one direction. Then add the beaten egg and milk little by little making sure the batter is nicely blended. You don't need to eccessively mix at this time, just make sure the ingredients are blended.

7. Once the milk and egg have been completely added, mix in the vanilla essense.

8. Grease a muffin tray or line it with muffin paper cups. Pour batter 2/3 of the way.

9. Bake in a 375 degrees oven for about 20-25 mins until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Basic Vanilla Cupcakes-Vanilla Sponge Cupcakes Recipe

- In case you don't have a muffin tray, you can use a regular cake try to make a normal cake.

- This recipe, with a little less sugar can be used to make layered cakes with frosting in the middle.

December 22, 2008

Quick and Easy Rasmalai Recipe | Diwali Recipes

Edited to add: The rasmala recipe in this post has egg and milk powder in it so if you prefer a different version, check out my 10-min rasmalai recipe using rasgulla.

Here is a recipe I have been dying to post. Its from my mother-in-law and its the most easy and quick rasmalai recipe ever! Promise!

But wait, what is rasmalai? Its sweetened, flattened or round balls of paneer (Indian cottage cheese) soaked in milk cream. Sounds yummy? That's 'cuz it is!

So in case you want to celebrate the holidays with some Indian dessert, whose sweetness level you can control, then this one is for you. Did I mention its super easy?

The recipe does use eggs, which would probably make the inventors of rasmalai turn in their graves, but the taste is not compromised one bit and there is no 'eggy' smell at all.

What I Used:

For the pieces

Milk Powder - 1.5 cups
Egg - 1

For the liquid base

Whole cream milk - 4 cups
Sweetened condensed milk - 1/2 tin (adjusting according to the size of your sweet tooth)
Crushed cardamom - 3
You can use other flavoring of choice like rosewater, pistachios, almonds, saffron, etc.

How I Made It:

1. Mix the egg and the milk powder together to form a thick, sticky dough-like mass. Divide into lemon sized balls and flatten gently on palms. If too sticky, dampen palms. Lay these flattened pieces without overlapping, on a tray.

2. Heat a wide bottomed pan and bring the milk to boil. Once it starts boiling, bring the heat to sim and gently, very gently, add the milk powder-egg discs to this.

3. You don't need to mix or stir much, but be careful to give the discs enough space from each other in the liquid. They will expand a bit when they start cooking.

4. After about 10 mins, add the crushed cardamom and. Let it cook for another 10 mins.

5. When the pieces have expanded considerably and seem soft and cooked through (take out once piece, break and check inside if the dough is still sticky), remove from fire.

6. Add the condensed milk when still hot and mix gently. Adjust amount according to sweetness required.

Chill before serving.

Now you can tell me you love me for this quick and easy rasmalai recipe :)

I am sending this to FIC - White over at Kitchen Flavours. 

December 18, 2008

Baked Sweet Potato Fries | Sweet Potato Fries Recipe

One of my friends had this picture of baked sweet potatoes in her Facebook album and of course I immediately wanted the recipe. Not that I hadn't come across the dish online but to see someone you know had tried it and with success, made me want to try it too. She passed me the link and I tried it the next day! I am nothing if not a sucker for "immediate" action when it comes to trying out simple recipes ;)

Oven-baked sweet potato 'fries'

The potatoes came out quite well and though TH would have preferred it with normal potatoes, I enjoyed the subtle sweet flavour and contrasting heat form the chillies. I also loved the fact that it requires very little time to prepare and most of the work is done by the oven anyway! We had it as a quick snack at about 6 in the evening but next time I want to try this with russet potatoes and serve with dinner.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries Recipe
From Country Living

What I Used:

Sweet potatoes - 3 (about 300gm)
Red chilly flakes - 1.5 tbsp
Cumin / jeera powder - 1 tsp (optional)
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
How I Made It:

1. Cut the sweet potatoes length-wise and then into 3" long pieces/wedges. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Add the olive oil, salt, chillies and cumin to the sweet potatoes and mix well until the pieces are well coated.

3. Preheat the oven to 200 degree C (about 400F). Line a tray with a baking sheet and lay out the potato pieces in one layer without any overlap. Bake until the edges are crisp and the pieces are cooked. Took about 30 mins for me.


- You can follow the same recipe with russet potatoes as well.

- Substitute the cumin with any dried herbs for a different flavour.

December 15, 2008

Curry Leaves Chutney Recipe | Karuveppilai Chutney Recipe

Curry leaves or Karuveppilai are one of the staple herbs of Indian cooking. Its the one herb that we cannot do without and you will find this in practically every Indian kitchen, or shall I say refrigerator :) However limited space people have around their houses and apartments, its not uncommon to see at least one curry leaves plant that is carefully watered and tended to. My mom has about three plants around the house and my sis has practically a tree growing out of her backyard.

The house we moved into first in Singapore had 3 plants outside the front door. A neem plant, a money plant and curry leaves! The other 2 died when I went to India for 3 weeks but the curry leaves plant harbored on and was still standing strong and healthy when we moved out 2 weeks back. I miss breaking out fresh sprigs of curry leaves while cooking but some good things must come to an end.

Fresh Karuveppilai or Curry Leaves
However, I didn't leave before I made this super-quick chutney one day. As we know, curry leaves are just added for flavor to dishes and most of us remove them from our servings before we eat, but they are said to have high iron content. No wonder my grandma used to force me to eat them and promised a head full of lustrous hair if I did! Our maid of so many years, Mary, loves the flavor of curry leaves and any dish made by her is sure to have a generous amount of these lovely-smelling leaves.

I have gone on and on, quite uncharacteristically but I guess that shows my love for curry leaves.

Curry Leaves Chutney | Karuveppilai Chutney Recipe - Curry Leaves Chutney Recipe

December 10, 2008

Kathrikai Podi Curry | Kathirikai Podi Curry Recipe

The Kathirikai Podi Curry that I have tasted is mostly dry but this variation of the recipe was quite attractive when I first saw it. I apologize to all those brinjal haters out there for posting so many brinjal recipes but these are quick and easy and one of the vegetables that are available at all times for me. Also, I love brinjals :D

Please note: Generally Kathirikai Podi Curry is made with small violet brinjal that's slit and the masala filled inside. In the recipe mentioned below, I have used the purple, long brinjal and added the spices along with the gravy to make a side-dish for roti or chapati for dinner.

Kathrikai Podi Curry | Kathirikai Podi Curry Recipe
Podi Curry is a traditional Tamil Brahmin Recipe except that I made a slight twist in it and added pureed onions. You can omit that and you will get a dry fry dish. I wanted something that was slightly soft and not fried.

Kathirikai Podi Curry Recipe

Brinjal / eggplant - 2 cups, cubed
Onion - 1 small, ground to a paste or chopped fine
Mustard seeds - 1/8 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp (preferably gingelly/sesame oil)
Salt - to taste
To dry-roast and grind:
Dhania / malli - 2 tsp (or 3 tsp dhania powder)
Bengal gram / Chana dal / kadala parippu - 1 tbsp
Urad dal / uzhunnu parippu / uzhutham paruppu - 1 tsp
Dried red chillies - 4, adjust to taste
Curry leaves - a few

How to Make Kathirikai Podi Curry

1. Dry roast the list of ingredients until golden brown, cool, grind and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan. temper mustard seeds and lightly saute the onion paste. Then add the brinjal pieces and fry until they turn colour and get soft. Add salt.

3. Mix in the ground spice mixture and fry well for 3 to 4 mins. Remove from fire. Serve hot with steamed white rice and spicy baby potatoes.

December 8, 2008

Black Eyed Beans Thoran - Indian Black-Eyed Peas Recipes

This Vanpayar Thoran recipe is adapted from Das Sreedharan's Fresh Flavours of India. Das is a Malayali who runs the Rasa chain of hotels in England. His restaurants are supposedly popular and when I mentioned it to a couple of friends in England, they knew it instantly. I first came across this book in the National Library and borrowed it for 2 weeks. I loved the simple recipes, beautiful illustrations and the general 'feel' of the book. What I liked best about the pictures was that they gave the dishes a very 'easy-to-make' look which need not necessary be true for a beginner in Indian cooking. However, like I mentioned, I felt it was more for non-Indians or beginners to learn the basic recipes and not necessarily for me 'cuz I'd like to believe I have graduated from the beginners' level :) But after seeing my enthusiasm over the pictures, TH got it for my birthday this year, so I have one anyway!

This is one of the recipes that caught my eye immediately. Black eyed beans thoran. The basic thoran recipe includes coconut, shallots, jeera, green chillies and curry leaves, along with a vegetable (or two) of choice. This one is not much different but the use of black eyed beans with this recipe, was new to me.

Black-Eyes Beans Thoran Recipe

Black eyed beans - 1 cup
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Shallots / small onions - 1/3 cup, chopped
Dried red chillies - 4
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Oil - 2 tsp (I used coconut oil)
Salt - to taste

How to Make Black Eyed Beans Thoran

1. Soak the beans overnight or atleast for 5-6 hours. Pressure cook for 3 whistles (or cook in little water for about 15 mins, until soft).

2. Heat oil in a pan and temper mustard seeds. Then add urad dal, curry leaves, turmeric and the red chillies, each torn into three. Fry for 2 mins. Then add the shallots and fry for another 3 mins.

3. Now add the grated coconut and cooked beans. Add salt and mix well. Let it cook for another 2-3 mins. Remove from fire.Serve with rice and curry of choice.

You can make a thoran with pretty much any vegetable following the above basic thoran recipe. A thoran is an integral part of any sadya in Kerala be it an Onam Sadya or a Wedding Sadya.

December 4, 2008

Dum Aloo Recipe | Indian Dum Potato Recipe

Recipe for dum aloo or aloo dum - 'Dum' cooking is a traditional method of slow-cooking, normally on a bed of coal with pots over them, sealed with flour and water so that no heat escapes it. Sometimes coal is spread out on the pot lid to distribute heat evenly. Thanks to our modern-day cooking accessories, nothing takes that much effort, though the difference in change is definitely debatable. Dum aloo is not something I make often because I try to avoid using the mixer on weeknights but dum aloo recipe is a special one from my mom-in-law.

Dum Aloo Recipe | Indian Dum Potato Recipe
This dum aloo was made on a weekend a few weeks back when I was in a lovely mood to cook and I followed the recipe I had scribbled down from mom-in-law, to the last letter.

More potato recipes for your cooking pleasure - potato pulao with bell pepper, potatoes in coriander sauce, potato drumstick curry, and potato chana masala made in a pressure cooker.

Dum Aloo | Aloo Dum Recipe

Serves 2-4

Baby Potatoes / New potatoes - 15
Tomato - 1 large, chopped
Onion - 1, chopped
Green chillies - 2
Ginger - a 1" piece
Garlic - 3 cloves (or 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste)
Yogurt / curd - 2 Tbsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Coriander (cilantro) leaves - for garnishing
Spices Needed:

Coriander / malli powder - 2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
curry powder or garam masala - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds / jeera / jeerakam - 1/2 tsp

How to make Dum Aloo:
1. Wash the potatoes and boil in water till cooked. Cool, peel and keep aside. (I cooked them in the pressure cooker for 1 whistle)

2. Puree the tomato and keep aside.

3. Grind the onion, garlic, ginger and green chilly to a paste.

4. Beat curd to remove any lumps and mix all the spices in it. Stir well to make a paste. Add a little water if too thick.

5. Heat oil in a pan and when hot, add the cumin seeds. When it starts spluttering and turns brown, add the onion-chilly-ginger-garlic paste and fry for about 3 mins.

6. Now add the yogurt mix and stir continuously for 4 mins.

7. Mix in the tomato puree and the add the potatoes. Cook covered for 2 mins and then leave pan open on a medium flame and cook till the oil separates from the gravy. Add salt.

8. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve Dum Aloo with rotis / chapatis.