June 28, 2009

The Singapore Hawker Food Tour - A Tour of Food Courts in Singapore

Singapore is the hub of Asian fusion food and Singaporeans love their food! Eating out is an activity on its own and done a lot, usually in big groups and with family and extended family. Local food is cheap and very tasty in what is called "hawker centers" where a huge number of food stalls are seen with a wide variety of food from all over Asia. This cultural extravaganza is often new and unique to visitors from other countries, as it was to me when I had just moved to Singapore.

So on a lovely Saturday morning, me and 17 of my colleagues set out to explore 4 different hawker centers in Singapore and to taste their mostly award-winning culinary offerings. We started the trip with an empty stomach and tons of enthusiasm!

We hired a coach for the bunch of us and the entire trip, food and coach cost us just above USD 250.


June 24, 2009

Garlic Rasam / Poondu Rasam Recipe

I suck at making rasam. I know that's a strange thing to say just before sharing a rasam recipe but I had to say it. My rasams usually suck. I have tried watching the MIL closely and writing down measurement of ingredients as and when she uses it. I have tried rasam recipes from different sites all over the blogosphere.

Garlic Rasam / Poondu Rasam RecipeThen my rasam became okay.

That was before I devised this recipe. I stripped down all rasam recipes and came up with this uber simple recipe that really cannot go wrong. (TH actually makes better rasam but he has to add tomatoes to it). And Dal? What dal? I never add dal to rasam unless I am making this version which I call parippu rasam.

June 22, 2009

Quick Potato Patties Recipe | Aloo Tikki Recipe

Aloo Tikki is a quick and easy snack recipe using potatoes. Potato Patties or Aloo Tikkis made with grated potatoes and some mild Indian spices to kick-start a great evening after a nap. Well that's what we did anyway. While potato bajji or onion bajji are TH's favourite, I prefer these simple aloo tikkis to more popular Indian snacks with potatoes, even aloo bonda.

Quick Potato Patties / Aloo Tikki RecipeNaps make me hungry. The reason why I don't like napping in the afternoon is precisely that. And the fact that I take much longer to sleep off in the night and wake up cranky the next day morning. So not worth it.

Anyway, on this particular Saturday, the heat was unbearable and TH and I had exhausted the movie CDs we borrowed. With no inclination to go out whatsoever, we decided to nap, something we hardly ever do. I woke up 2 hours later feeling oh-my-god-I-am-hungry and of course, there were no snacks at home that I could immediately bite into.

June 17, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting - Step by Step Recipe

In a recent survey on the left sidebar of this blog, I had asked what makes you visit me. Is it easy recipes, step by step recipes, the food pictures, food photography tips or anything else. A vast majority of you liked the step by step recipes so I dug up this one from the drafts. I made it when I was going for this barbeque party and I volunteered to bring dessert.

The basic recipe is from JoyofBaking. I changed the frosting recipe to make it more colourful. I also wanted something I can carry with me and just spread on at the party since packing it after frosting would just make it a mess. Also, I don't have icing bags or pipes!

So, let's get started on those cupcakes, shall we?

A line up of ingredients required for the chocolate cupcakes.

The first thing to do is mix 1/2 cup (50 grams) cocoa powder and 1 cup (240 ml) boiling hot water until the cocoa powder is well incorporated. Set aside and let it cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, mix 1 1/3 cups (175 grams) all purpose flour, 2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. You can use a sieve for this but I just used a spoon and mixed it for 2-3 mins until combined well.

Now its time to bring out the butter, sugar and eggs. Combine 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature, 1 cup (200 grams) powdered white sugar and beat well. If you have an electric beater, beat this mixture for a good 3-4 mins. If using a hand beater, beat for 7 mins.

Then add 2 eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Also mix in 2 tsp vanilla extract at the end.

Add this mixture, little at a time, to the flour mixture and mix well in one direction, without any lumps.

I think it would be better if you add the dry mixture to the wet one little at a time. This should prevent lumps better. The mixture above took over 1o mins to be mixed properly without lumps.

Next, add the cooled chocolate-water mixture to the above (you can add this in one shot or little by little) and mix well for another 5 mins.

That's when we get our chocolate cupcake batter!

Grease muffin/cupcake liners and place in the tray.

Pour the batter up to more 3/4 of the way. I could have poured more batter than this because at the end, my cupcake wasn't as chubby as I wanted it to be.

To Prepare the Frosting while the Cupcakes are Getting Baked

Melt 1/2 cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. What you see above is a picture of when I microwaved them. Don't do that, the bottom of the bowl will burn and the whole thing won't melt like you expect!

Add milk, butter, sugar and salt to this and combine well.


Slather frosting on the cupcakes when they are done and bite!


Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting
Makes: 15 medium cupcakes
Source: JoyofBaking

What I Used:

For Chocolate Cupcakes

1/2 cup (50 grams) cocoa powder
1 cup (240 ml) boiling hot water
1 1/3 cups (175 grams) all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) white sugar, powdered
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

For White Chocolate Frosting

White chocolate chips or bars - 1/2 cup melted in a bowl over a bowling pan of water
Butter - 2 tbsp
Icing sugar - 1 tbsp (optional)
Milk - 2 tbsp or enough to make it spread-able
Salt - a pinch

How I Made It:

In a small bowl stir until smooth the boiling hot water and the cocoa powder. Let cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Then in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth.
Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients little at a time, combining well without lumps. Don't over-mix.

Next, add in the vanilla extract. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly butter, or line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.

Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16-20 minutes or until risen and toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

White Chocolate Frosting

1. Melt 1/2 cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.

2. Add milk, butter, sugar and salt to this and combine well.

June 15, 2009

Vegetable Puffs Recipe | Puffs With Puff Pastry Sheets

Vegetable Puffs Recipe | Puffs With Puff Pastry SheetsWhen I was in India, I used to drool over a lot of food blogs of people abroad, mainly at all the ingredients they got to cook with. Among fresh berries and different kinds of chocolate and cheese was puff pastry sheets. I was quite amazed at how much difference it can make to baking something like puffs or twisted puff snacks and tons of other variations to these.

June 11, 2009

Beetroot Pachadi, Beetroot Pachadi Recipe Step by Step

Beetroot Pachadi recipe, a Kerala Onam sadya recipe that's made with grated beetroots, yogurt, coconut, and spices. It's a delicious recipe, almost like a raita, and one of my favourite easy recipes to add one more side dish to lunch on a busy day. While vendakka pachadi is probably the more popular pachadi recipe made during Onam, my personal favourite is a gorgeously deep pink beetroot pachadi, any day.

beetroot pachadi kerala sadya recipe

In a lot of Kerala recipes, coconut, cumin seeds, green chillies or red chilli powder, and shallots (cheriya ulli) form the base. This is true for thoran recipes, pachadi like the one I am going to share today, and even some curries like raw mango curry, etc. One of the striking things about Kerala cuisine is the lack of garam masala and the addition of more than, say, 3 spices in one dish. Of course, I love my garam masala and all the delicious curries that get its unique flavour but this is comfort food not to mention so easy to make on a busy or lazy day. In my case, usually the latter.

Probably the most time-consuming part of this recipe is to peel and grate the beetroot. If you use a food processor, that'll make it super quick too but otherwise, I recommend peeling and washing the beets and letting them drain a bit before grating. If the beetroots are damp, they can slip and make it a bit harder to grate. A silly yet hopefully useful tip you appreciate from the archives of my infinite wisdom (sorry, bad joke!).

beetroot pachadi kerala sadya recipe

I am still posting recipes made and photographed during our Sydney days and the ones with beetroots are possibly my favourite. We picked up beets regularly from the fresh organic market near our place and they are easily the best-tasting vegetables I've been lucky enough to cook with. This beetroot leaves dal will give show just how gorgeous fresh vegetables can be.

Some more easy Kerala recipes I'd highly recommend:
Pulissery recipe
Parippu vada
Beetroot carrot thoran
Cabbage thoran (most popular and TH's favourite)

KERALA-STYLE BEETROOT PACHADI RECIPE

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
1.5 cups of peeled and grated beetroot, packed
2 tsp of oil
1/4 cup of grated coconut
1 green chilli (or 1/4 tsp red chilli powder)
5 shallots (ulli, chinna vengaayam)
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
A few curry leaves
1/4 tsp of black mustard seeds
2 cups of thick plain yogurt

INSTRUCTIONS:

For the coconut paste:

Grind the coconut with the green chilli, 2 shallots, and cumin seeds with some water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.
beetroot pachadi recipe, how to make beetroot pachadi-2

To make the pachadi:

Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and add the grated beetroot along with some salt. Saute on low heat until the beets soften and are cooked (about 3-4 mins).
beetroot pachadi recipe, how to make beetroot pachadi

Add the ground coconut paste to the beets and mix well.
beetroot pachadi recipe, how to make beetroot pachadi-3

Mix well and after ensuring that the beets are completely cooked, remove and set aside to cool a bit.
beetroot pachadi recipe, how to make beetroot pachadi-4

Then, mix it in with the yogurt and add 1 more cup of water to get a thick yet pourable consistency.
beetroot pachadi recipe, how to make beetroot pachadi-5

For tempering the pachadi:

Rinse out the same pan and heat the remaining 1 tsp of oil. Add the mustard seeds and meanwhile, slice up the remaining 3 shallots. Add these and the curry leaves to the hot oil and let the shallots turn golden brown.
beetroot pachadi recipe, how to make beetroot pachadi-6

Add the tempering to the beetroot curd mixture and add more salt if needed.
beetroot pachadi recipe, how to make beetroot pachadi-7

Mix well and your beetroot pachadi is ready! Serve with warm rice and any mezhukkupuratti or side dish of your choice.

June 9, 2009

Moong Dal Tadka / Parippu Curry / Dal Tadka Recipe

Plain yellow dal or dal tadka is the most requested recipes in here and it forms an important part of Onam Sadya, forming the first course of the meal or sadya. I had posted the basic dal recipe with toor dal a while back. I also make this with yellow moong dal (splite green beans) when I run out of toor dal and it gives a very different tasting basic dal for your rice.

Moong Dal Tadka / Parippu Curry / Dal Tadka RecipeIn Kerala, or atleast the parts that I am from, moong dal is usually preferred over toor dal. We make a curry with moong dal, any squash or cucumber we can get our hands on and also add coconut (but of course!). Oh wait, I actually have a recipe in here somewhere. Oh yes, here it is. Cherupayar Vellarikka Curry - yellow moong dal cooked with cucumber.

June 1, 2009

Pudina Pulao - Mint Rice Recipe - Pudina Rice Recipe


Mint Pulao or pudina pulao is one of my favourite mixed rice recipes. Mint has a strong flavour but when combined with spices and rice, it lends it very well to the final dish. I have seem many variations of this mint rice recipe but this is the kind I like the best and stick to making. Since fresh mint is not always easy to get near where I love, I postpone all my mint recipes and save it for when I buy it from Little India. This mint pulao is one such recipe I had postponed for a while.


Anyway, I prepared this mint rice about a month back because I got a huge bunch of mint leaves from the Indian vegetable market and had no clue what to do with it all. There is only so much you can use up to make mint chutney, right?

The rice came out super nice and since TH is a huge mint fan, he loved it too!

If you love pulao recipes, then check out this vegetable pulao recipe, rajma rice recipe, tomato spinach pulao, and coriander rice recipe.

Pudina Pulao - Mint Rice Recipe - Pudina Rice Recipe

Pudina Pulao / Mint Rice / Pudina Rice

Serves : 2 - 3

Ingredients:
2 cups rice (I used basmati rice)
2 cups fresh mint leaves / pudina, lightly packed
1 onion, chopped fine
3 to 4 green chillies
¼ cup grated coconut (fresh works best, frozen will do too)
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
4 cloves
4 green cardamom pods
1" piece of cinnamon
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp ghee
12 roasted cashews for garnishing (optional)
Salt to taste

Instructions:

1. If using basmati, soak the rice in 4 cups water for half an hour and cook in pressure cooker for 1 whistle. Once pressure leaves the cooker, spread out on a plate and let it cool without clumping. If using rice cooker or any other method, cook until the rice is done yet firm.

2. Grind the mint leaves with the coconut, green chillies and ginger / garlic (if using fresh) to a paste.

3. Heat ghee in a pan and roast the cashews until golden brown (if using) and drain. Add the spices - cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves and star anise - and saute for about a minute, taking care not to burn them. Then add the chopped onions and saute unil it turns transparent.

4. Add the ground paste to the pan and fry for about 2 to 3 mins until it turns fragrant. Again, take care not to burn! Add salt.

5. Mix in the cooled rice without breaking it too much. Garnish with the roasted cashews and serve with a raita of choice.

Pudina Pulao - Mint Rice Recipe - Pudina Rice Recipe
Pudina pulao is best served warm and fresh. However, it also makes a great lunchbox dish so pack it along with some nice vegetable curry for a well-rounded meal.