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August 31, 2011

Besan Ladoo | Besan ka Laddu | Vinayaka Chaturthi Recipes

This besan ladoo will always remind me of my friend Prathibha who I lived with in Hyderabad. Every time we pass by a sweet shop, she would buy atleast 2 of these besan ladoos, eat one, and leave the other in the fridge for later. The ladoos were safe from me because I was never a huge fan of them, preferring milk-based sweets to these besan ladoos. I have wanted to try making them for a long time though, and what pushed me to it finally was the sudden desire to post more festival sweets recipes and a bag of besan almost threatening to go bad on me. 

besan ladoo / besan ka laddu recipe

Besan Ladoo / Besan ka Laddu Recipe
Makes 12-15 ladoos depending on size

Related Recipes: Vella Kozhukkattai | Maladu (which amma and I made the night before my wedding)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup ghee (I used slightly less than this, don't skimp too much though)
1 cup gram flour or besan (kadalaimavu)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
6 almonds, chopped coarsely
6 raisins (I didn't add this)
6 cardamoms, powdered

Instructions:

1. Heat ghee in a pan over low heat. Don't bring to boil or anything, just heat it up well. Add the besan and cook for 4-5 mins stirring continuously till the raw aroma disappears and it turns a golden brown. 

2. Remove from heat and add milk, stirring vigorously to avoid lumps. I let the milk trickle in to avoid this. Once mixed well, set aside to cool a little. 

3. Then mix in the almonds, sugar, raisins, and cardamom powder. 

4. When its warm enough to handle, shape into lime-sized balls. At this stage, you can add a bit more ghee if you want. I started with a little less than 3/4 cup and added more while shaping them. 

Notes:

- These besan ladoos are very delicate (which is why you shouldn't skimp on the ghee, because it acts as a binding agent and holds it together) so handle carefully and store in an airtight container at room temperature. 

- You can add about 2-3 tbsp of rava (semolina) to the mixture if you want some added texture. I avoided this because I wanted a smooth besan ladoo. 

What's cooking in your kitchens for Vinayaka Chaturthi this year?

August 30, 2011

Vella Kozhukattai Recipe - Modakam (Mothagam) for Vinayaka Chaturthi

Modakam or Vella Kozhukattai will always have a special place in our family not just because of how important it is for Vinayaka Chaturthi, but also because of the countless evenings of making modakam and how it's usually a family project.

Vella Kozhukattai Recipe - Modakam (Mothagam) for Vinayaka Chaturthi

My grandmom was an expert at modakam making and did it with gusto since her grandson (my brother) loved it so much. I remember many evenings of me eating the raw outer covering with the coconut filling as the rest of womenfolk sat around shaping the mothagam for steaming.

MODAKAM - MOTHAGAM RECIPE

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Makes 12

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup of raw rice powder
1 1/4 cup of water, more or less
1/4 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of jaggery
1/2 cup of grated coconut
2 tsp of ghee
1/4 tsp of cardamom powder

INSTRUCTIONS:

vella kozhukkattai (sweet modak) | ganesh (vinayaka) chaturthi recipes

1. First we have to make the filling or the pooranam. Heat a pan with 1 tsp ghee. Add the grated coconut and the grated jaggery and mix well until it begins to roast a bit and starts to turn a bit drier.

vella kozhukkattai (sweet modak) | ganesh (vinayaka) chaturthi recipes

It will take about 8-10 mins for it to reach the stage we require. Keep mixing now and then and add cardamom powder before removing from fire. Set aside and allow to cool.

vella kozhukkattai (sweet modak) | ganesh (vinayaka) chaturthi recipes

2. Meanwhile, bring 1 cup water to boil with the 1/4 salt also added in. Once it boils, remove from fire and add the 3/4 cup rice flour in, mixing as you do so. Make sure no lumps are formed and mix well until you get a soft dough that's similar in consistency to chapati dough (it won't be stretchy though). Start with 1 cup water and keep adding a few drops as you mix until you get the desired consistency. Depending on the type of rice flour and humidity, etc, you will need different amounts of water. Let this mixture cool down a bit until you can handle it. Don't let it cool completely, or else the rice dough will become dry.

This is the toughest part of making vella kozhukkattai or modak. Depending on how this comes out, your modaks can turn hard or soft or crack while they are steamed.

vella kozhukkattai (sweet modak) | ganesh (vinayaka) chaturthi recipes

3. Roll the pooranam into small balls and set aside. The coconut I used had long strands in it that's why my filling is all rough. Use normal grated coconut and you should be fine.

vella kozhukkattai (sweet modak) | ganesh (vinayaka) chaturthi recipes

4. With wet hands, take a lime-sized portion of the rice dough, form a ball by greasing your hands with the ghee, and flatten on your palm like so. Make sure its not too thin. I like there to be more filling than outer covering so I use lesser dough. Adjust according to your preference.

vella kozhukkattai (sweet modak) | ganesh (vinayaka) chaturthi recipes

5. Place the filling in the centre...

vella kozhukkattai (sweet modak) | ganesh (vinayaka) chaturthi recipes

...and cover the filling with it as uniformly as you can. It's the same technique used for aloo paratha. Once covered, make a smooth ball (just using the fingertips of one hand and rolling-rotating).

vella kozhukkattai (sweet modak) | ganesh (vinayaka) chaturthi recipes

6. Place on your steamer plate (greased with some ghee if you like, I didn't do it)...

vella kozhukkattai (sweet modak) | ganesh (vinayaka) chaturthi recipes

...and steam for about 10-15 mins until the covering glistens. It will still be sticky to touch but don't steam for more than 15 minutes or they will harden.

Let cool and use the sweet modaks to please Lord Ganesha into giving you whatever you wish for ;)

vella kozhukkattai (sweet modak) | ganesh (vinayaka) chaturthi recipes

Notes:

- instead of jaggery, you can also use brown sugar. The flavour will definitely be compromised a bit but the taste will be just fine. The reason why my filling looks extra dark is because the jaggery we get in Kerala is super unrefined (and unsalted) and very dark in colour and I always bring back jaggery when I go home. Use whatever jaggery is available where you live.

- The filling or pooranam for vella kozhukkattai can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to a day.

- When working with the rice dough, make sure you work quickly before the heat leaves the dough. Even if you can't steam all modaks together, make the balls and keep ready for steaming in the next batch. Don't let the dough sit as is for too long or else it will dry out.

- Aatha, my grandmom, used to make her own rice powder. If you'd like to try the same, soak 1 cup raw rice in water for 5-6 hours. Drain and let it dry spread out on a tea towel. Once dry, grind to a fine powder. She used to get it done in the mill, in bulk, but using your mixie should work too. I haven't tried it this way.

- The rice layer can turn hard and rubbery if you keep this for over a day. Re-heating or re-steaming will make it soft again but only for a short while so serve fresh and finish it off as soon as you can! Also, the rice layer consistency can vary depending on the type of rice or rice flour you are using. Experiment a bit to see which brand or method works best for you.

For Modak recipe in Hindi, Vella Kozhukattai recipe in Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, please use the Google Translate tool on the right sidebar of the website. Thanks!

August 29, 2011

Eggless No-Bake Biscuit Brownie Recipe - Step by Step

eggless no bake biscuit brownie recipe

I love biscuit based sweets and desserts. That must be one reason why I love Twix bars! I love biscuit puddings and make the marie biscuit chocolate logs pretty often to satisfy my biscuit dessert cravings.

This is yet another wonderful addition to my list of quick and easy dessert recipes with biscuits as a base. It's eggless and no-bake which definitely adds to the charm.

eggless no bake biscuit brownie recipe

I often get asked for quick and easy bars and desserts that can be made without an oven or in the microwave. Since I enjoy baking, I hardly ever go actively looking for such recipes but when my cousin posted this in her blog couple of weeks back, I knew I had to try it as soon as possible.

I got Marie Biscuits during my next trip to the supermarket and made it that same weekend.

August 26, 2011

Watercress & Yellow Moong Dal Recipe

These pictures have been lying in my drafts for ages. In fact, TH's amma made this one day along with the chow chow kootu which I managed to post much earlier. I have made this dal twice after this first time she tried it.

watercress yellow moong dal

Watercress is not something that makes it into my regular shopping list. In fact, before amma came and tried this, I'd never even tasted it. It definitely has a strong flavour which I thought went beautifully with dal.

Watercress Yellow Dal Recipe
Serves 4
Recipe source: TH's amma
Some other recipes from her: chow chow koottu | kadala kozhambu | tomato juice rasam

Ingredients:
1 bunch watercress
1/2 cup toor dal or moong dal, washed and soaked for 30 mins
1 large onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped (optional)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder

For tempering:
1 tsp ghee or oil
1/4 tsp fennel seeds / perum jeerakam
1/4 tsp cumin powder or seeds / jeera
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1 red chilli
A generous pinch of hing

How It's Made:

1. Wash and chop the watercresses leaves fine. Add to the soaked dal along with the rest of the ingredients (apart form the tempering ones) into a pressure cooker with enough water to cover it by an inch.

2. Cook for 3-4 whistles or until the dal has cooked soft and mashed well with the leaves and other ingredients. Let the steam vent and keep the dal mixture ready to temper.

3. For tempering, heat ghee (or oil) in a pan and add the rest of the ingredients in the order given. When the mustard seeds start to pop and the cumin and fennel turn aromatic, dunk into the dal and keep partially closed for a while while the flavours blend. Add salt.

Serve hot with rice or roti.

watercress yellow moong dal

I think I have posted every day this week. Its not some personal challenge or anything. I have a ton of great recipes like these waiting to be posted and the backlog is huge. Sorry if I am spamming your readers :)

August 24, 2011

Cookbook Find: Baking (One Step at a Time) by Marianne Moreno

Eons ago, I posted in my Facebook Page that I came across this very different yet interesting baking book in the library but had to keep it back because my loan allowance was exhausted. When I went back the next week, I had forgotten what the name of the book was!

It drove me nuts and for the next 2-3 weeks, every weekend, I would go through pretty much every book on the baking shelf hunting for this.

And finally, one weekend I was rewarded with it, again! See, persistence pays off. This is not a cookbook review but more of me sharing a cookbook find with you. This book is gorgeous, to say the least!

Baking (One Step at a Time) by Marianne Moreno

Baking (One Step at a Time) by Marianne Moreno

What I absolutely love about the book is the pictures. The recipe itself is neatly printed along the bottom 10% of the page but almost the entire page is taken up by large images of the ingredients and sometimes the preparation method beautifully captured.

Baking (One Step at a Time) by Marianne Moreno

Baking (One Step at a Time) by Marianne Moreno

Admittedly, I have never baked anything from book. I just borrow it from the library, gawk at all the beautiful images, and then return it. I will surely try something soon though, and when I do, will update the recipe and review here :)

Baking (One Step at a Time) by Marianne Moreno

Baking (One Step at a Time) by Marianne Moreno

The recipes are mostly simply and the step by step pictures definitely help. I'd highly recommend this to baking enthusiasts, especially beginner folks.

*This is not a paid review or any kind of promotional post. 

August 23, 2011

Eggless Condensed Milk & China Grass / Agar Agar Pudding

eggless condensed milk china grass /  agar agar pudding

This is one of those desserts I wish I'd made ages ago and shared the recipe with you all. Its easy, its eggless and its delicious. This pudding forms the base for many desserts in Kerala and I have had this in many forms during my childhood.

eggless condensed milk china grass pudding
China Grass or Agar Agar

The sis first mentioned this pudding to me saying that my niece made it for her Jain friend because the girl can't take eggs. The thickener of choice in this pudding is china grass or agar agar. Its a plant-based thickener derived from some form of algae (I wouldn't investigate too much into this if i were you) and is a vegetarian substitute for gelatin used mostly in desserts.

Because of where agar agar is derived from, this pudding is also called mousse pudding or moss pudding in Kerala! Interesting tid bit.

eggless condensed milk china grass pudding

The pudding is best served with some topping and praline is the best fit, although some chocolate sauce or ganache would taste fab too. You can make it as sweet or subtle as you want, its completely up to you.

Adapted from a recipe verbally passed on to me, measurements are my own.

eggless condensed milk china grass pudding

Eggless Condensed Milk China Grass / Agar Agar Pudding
Serves 4-6

Ingredients (can easily be doubled):
1/2 tin condensed milk (I used low fat Milkmaid)
1 tin milk (I used low fat milk measured in the condensed milk tin itself)
5 gm china grass / agar agar
Roughly 3/4 cup water
2 tbsp sugar, adjust to taste
2-3 drops of vanilla extract


How I Made It:

1. Soak the china grass in the 3/4 cup water for atleast 30 mins. Then place on stove on low heat and bring to boil.

2. Meanwhile, mix the condensed milk, sugar, and milk in a pan and heat on low heat stirring continuously.

3. When the china grass mixture starts boiling and the strands have dissolved almost completely, pour into the milk mixture. Bring this to boil, let it simmer for 2 more mins, and remove from fire.

4. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. Pour into any mould of choice or even a wide bowl. Let it cool completely and refrigerate overnight (or atleast 6 hours) for the pudding to set.

5. Serve with praline or any sauce of choice.

eggless condensed milk china grass pudding

I had Raks and Jeyashri over on Saturday for a potluck lunch and served them the pudding in the mould itself. If you try to unmould the pudding before giving it time to sit, it will look all haphazard like this but its still delicious!

Use this recipe as the base and customize as you like. You can layer it up with praline, jam, chocolate sauce, etc. You can also half the final mixture, add cocoa powder to one half and set it in alternating layers too. Thanks to akka for the tip :)

**Edited to add - I had scheduled this post over the weekend and was having a chat about it with akka. She mentioned that a couple of bloggers have posted this in the past. I checked out Maria's recipe and it seems like I have used measurements very similar to hers! Her topping recipe is different so you may want to check it out. 

August 22, 2011

What is Praline? Easy Praline Recipe!

what is praline? easy praline recipe

According to wikipedia, praline or pralin seems to mean different things in different places but to me, this is part of a lot of my childhood memories. Most birthday parties involved ice cream and usually had praline and chocolate sauce to top it off.


what is praline? easy praline recipe

When I visited the sister last, she had a small bottle of praline stored in her fridge to top off puddings. Amma and I snacked on it and it was all gone by end of the day!

Long story short, praline is candy made with caramelized sugar and nuts of some sort. My preferred choice is cashew nuts. If you like those small nuggets Cadburys Crackle, then you will love this because its pretty much the same thing!

what is praline? easy praline recipe

You can make this and store it in the fridge. Makes a yummy addition to ice cream sundaes and puddings.

Praline Recipe
Makes about 1/3 cup

Ingredients:
3 tbsp white sugar
10 whole, plain cashew nuts
1/2 tsp unsalted butter (added for flavour, but its optional)

How I Made It:

1. Heat a dry non-stick wide pan. When hot, sprinkle the sugar over the pan. Reduce flame to lowest possible heat and wait while the sugar starts to melt and turns a light golden brown.

2. Quickly add the cashewnuts and butter and stir until the mixture turns a dark golden brown. Take care not to burn it, sugar is very easy to burn.

3. Remove from fire as soon as the colour changes to dark golden brown and the cashew nuts look roasted, tip immediately into a plate lined with parchment or butter paper and let it cool completely.

4. Once cool, it will be brittle. Break into smaller pieces and pulse in your mixer until you get the coarse praline.

Serve with ice cream, puddings, or even inside sweet crepes, mix with chocolate when you make home made chocolate, the application is up to your imagination!

August 18, 2011

3-Way Tofu, Egg, and Vegetable Fried Rice

Stir-fried tofu with vegetables

This is a very ad-hoc recipe that I concocted one night. I had some tofu in hand that needed to be used up and I was in no mood to cook a rice or roti, then a side-dish, etc.

This post actually has 3 recipes, in a way. You can stop at two other stages on the way to making the tofu vegetable fried rice or go all the way and make it a one-pot meal.

Stir-fried tofu with vegetables and egg

3-Way Tofu, Egg, and Vegetable Fried Rice
Serves 2-3
Ingredients and measurements are approximate

Ingredients for basic tofu + veg base:
1 block firm tofu
1 cup mixed vegetables, chopped (I used carrot, French beans, corn, peas)
1 onion, sliced
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp green chilli sauce (I use Ching's Secret for both soya sauce and chilli sauce)
1 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp oil
Salt to taste

Additional optional ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups cooked rice

How I Made It:

1. Heat oil (make sure its not smoking hot, just barely glistening on top) and add the ginger and garlic. Saute for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the sliced onion and saute until cooked and soft.

2. Increase the flame/heat and add the soya sauce and chilli sauce. Saute for a minute. Lower flame and add cubed tofu. Fry until the tofu has browned on most sides.

3. Add the vegetables and some salt (be careful with salt since soya sauce is already salty) and mix well. Cook partially closed until the vegetables are cooked. Add pepper.

You can stop at this stage and serve this with noodles or rice.

Another step further would be to make space in the centre of your pan and crack in two eggs side by side. Don't disturb it until the whites are partially cooked. Then slowly scramble it into the tofu and vegetable mixture.

If you want a one-pot meal, mix in 2 cups of cooked rice. You may want to increase the amount of salt and pepper in this case. The rice will be mild and perfect for a wholesome weeknight dinner.

Stir-fried tofu with vegetables and egg fried rice

Of course you can garnish with coriander leaves or spring onions if you have any in hand. Serve hot. 

August 15, 2011

Tomato Juice Rasam Recipe-Tomato (Thakkali) Rasam Recipe

This is a good time to talk about my mom-in-law and her blog. Yep, she has started blogging over at Suvaikka Suvaikka in tamil, so if you can read tamil, hop on over. She would love to hear from you.

Like all mothers, she cooks amazing food but what I particularly find fascinating with her cooking is, all her dishes are super quick and easy ones. They are simple, mostly with only 5-6 ingredients and get done in less than half an hour each, at the most. In fact, when I visit my in laws, most of MIL's cooking is done by the time I wake up (which I should admit is not very early :D) and usually there's only some rasam boiling in the eeya chombu, a unique tamil brahmin practice of making rasam in pots that are alloys of many metals including lead. Although there are many schools of thought regarding the harmful effects of lead in food, she continues to use it for rasam. The taste difference is said to be significant if you don't use an eeya chombu for your rasam!

This tomato rasam recipe (thakkali rasam recipe) uses no tamarind since the required sourness is from the tomatoes that we cook, blend, and make the tomato rasam with.

tomato juice rasam recipe

One of my favourite rasams is tomato juice rasam. It uses no tamarind, and since my FIL's mom doesn't take onion or garlic, this version doesn't contain garlic either. So that makes this a very tasty and easy recipe that can either be taken like soup, or poured on steaming white rice for a nice and hearty lunch.

August 11, 2011

Indian Menu Ideas - Small Indian Party Menu Ideas with Recipes

I'm always confused when I need to cook for more than me and TH. Confused on what to cook, the different combinations, how not to repeat the same main ingredient, balance the flavours, balance the time it takes so I don't end up staying in the kitchen the entire day - you name it.


So I figured many of you may have the same confusions so I am going to create some menu plans. Most of these are what I have done in the past so I know they work. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me a comment and I will add it in.

Work in progress, so stay tuned :)

Casual Dinner for Small Group (4-6 people)  - North Indian

Starter
Palak Aloo Tikkis

Main Course
Spiced Methi Parathas
Paneer Burji
Punjabi Chana Masala (recipe coming soon)
Yellow Dal Tadka
Peas Pulao

Dessert
Rasmalai


August 10, 2011

Review: Vegetarian Thaali at Rajdhani Restaurant, Chennai

I am not an expert in Rajasthani or Gujarathi cuisine. After this vegetarian thaali at the Rajdhani outlet in Express Avenue Mall in Chennai, I wish I was.

rajdhani restaurant vegetarian thaali
We saw this restaurant tucked in one corner of the food court with this amazing looking thaali in the display window. My growling stomach urged me on for a try and I am so glad I agreed.

We went pretty late on a Saturday for lunch at the food court in EA Mall but it was jam packed. Maybe 2pm is not that late by Indian standards but since coming to Singapore I've gotten used to lunch at noon and my stomach was crying bloody murder by then.

rajdhani restaurant vegetarian thaali

The waiters were all Rajasthani or Gujarathi. They bring around this jug and a basin for you to wash your hands at your table before and after eating. He managed to pour the water in a slow trickle and it all escaped into the bottom of that basin. Smart!

rajdhani restaurant vegetarian thaali

Once we are done with washing our hands, the steady barrage of dishes follow. Yummy things keep appearing on your plate at lightning speed.

rajdhani restaurant vegetarian thaali

It was tough to take pictures with a 50mm lens in a crowded restaurant but this thing on top of the rotis, that small flat disk, was mindblowing. It tasted like a much thicker version of puran poli. It was hot and oozing out ghee. I am getting hungry as I type this and I just had my lunch so you can imagine!

rajdhani restaurant vegetarian thaali

The food was amazing. It could be because I am a novice at this cuisines but it tasted very homemade, and very authentic. The only time I had a better Rajasthani meal was at Chowki Dhaani in Jaipur but that doesn't count. This was in the heart of Chennai!

rajdhani restaurant vegetarian thaali

Priced at Rs 375 per thaali, its not a cheap meal. Its an unlimited thaali (except for sweets) with almost 30 items I think, so one round of every item is all most people will be able to manage. TH thought it was too expensive but then we seldom agree on these things so I will let you decide for yourselves. Definitely worth a visit.

Rajdhani Restaurant - Official Website

We visited the branch in EA Mall, same floor as the food court. I hear they have outlets all over India and abroad too.

Note: this is not a paid review. It's based on my experience of going there once for lunch and we paid for our own meal. Please check out the comments for some mixed reviews.

August 8, 2011

Baby Brinjal and Peanut Masala Recipe | Kathirikai Curry Recipe

I love adding peanuts to stir-fried masala recipes like you would for variety rice recipes like lemon rice and puliogare. The usual suspect that always needs to share the limelight with peanuts is okra. Any time okra masala is made, in go a handful of peanuts.

Baby Brinjal and Peanut Masala Recipe | Kathirikai Curry Recipe

The other day I got some gorgeous baby brinjals (new-born, even) and had to make something non-fussy and flavourful. Although vatha kozhambu was on the cards, that didn't end up happening so I adapted a quick dry masala recipe for the baby brinjal and peanuts to have a go at each other. I think they like each other. This is a no-onion, no-garlic recipe.

Baby Brinjal and Peanut Masala Recipe | Kathirikai Curry Recipe

Baby Brinjal and Peanut Masala Recipe (Kathirikai Curry)
Serves: 2 

Ingredients:
8-10 baby brinjal
1/2 cup raw unsalted peanuts
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp jeera / cumin seeds
1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
A generous pinch of hing / asafoetida
A pinch of turmeric powder
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
A few curry leaves
2 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
A small piece of tamarind or 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
Salt to taste

How to make Kathirikai with Peanuts Curry:

1. Cut baby brinjal into thin long pieces. I cut each small brinjal into 8 long pieces, lengthwise.

2. Heat oil and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the jeera and curry leaves. Once the jeera sizzles and turns a darker share of brown, add the hing and fry for 5 seconds.

3. Now throw in the cut brinjal pieces and the peanuts. Mix well until well coated in the oil. Reduce flame and cook partially covered until the brinjal is soft yet cooked and the peanuts are sufficiently roasted. This should take about 12-15 mins. Sprinkle water if necessary but don't add too much.

4. Now add the turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder and the tamarind and mix well until well combined. Cook for another 3-4 mins, add salt, and remove from fire. Serve hot with steamed rice and any curry of choice.

Baby Brinjal and Peanut Masala Recipe | Kathirikai Curry Recipe

August 5, 2011

Baked Garlic Potato Wedges Recipe

I have made these Baked Garlic Potato Wedges many many times, each time with some variation or the other, and it has always come out super well. Its a pity these baked potato wedges took this long to show up here but the main reason is, this is a recipe I always use to show off how awesome I am (works each time like a charm) so its almost always made when I have someone visiting.

Baked Garlic Potato Wedges Recipe

Finally, I decided enough is enough and managed two quick photos on the side table before I served them. I should say that my skills of cutting potato into wedges have greatly improved since the first time, purely out of practice. I had plans to make a video of how to get perfect potato wedges but that will have to wait for another time.

Meanwhile, make bake these! Its garlicky potato wedges that are tastier than the fried ones, uses minimum oil, is crunchy on the outside and super soft on the inside, its pure deliciousness!

There's a reason why they are the most popular recipe on Shaheen's blog.

Baked Garlic Potato Wedges
Serves 2
Adapted from Purple Foodie

Ingredients:
2 large russet potatoes (or whatever type of potato you have locally)
8 small garlic cloves, freshly crushed
6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp cornstarch/cornflour
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (or regular salt)
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp paprika or Kashmiri red chilli powder
½ tsp garlic powder (optional)

How to Make Baked Potato Wedges

0. Warm the olive oil (either in a microwave or in a small pan over the stove) and add the crushed garlic pieces. Let the olive warm up and the yummy juices of the garlic seep into it. Dont heat the oil too much, just nicely warm it. Set this oil aside to infuse well until you need it. Pre-heat oven to 200C /  390F. 

1. Bring a saucepan with 4 cups water to a boil. Scrub the potatoes clean (don't peel) and insert into the boiling water. Simmer and let the potatoes par-boil. It usually takes me 10-12 mins. When a knife is inserted it should go in without effort but make sure the potatoes don't become cooked soft or mushy. Remove from water and let it cool on a plate.

2. Cut the cooled potatoes into wedges. I cut each lengthwise into half. Then each piece gets cut into further halves and each of that half into 3 more wedges. Sorry for making you do math when all you want is some baked garlic wedges but that makes 12 wedges in all, per potato.

3. Transfer the potato wedges into a large bowl. Pour in the infused olive oil (remove the crushed garlic pieces), and add all other ingredients into the bowl. Mix gently until well combines. Its important to make sure that the corn flour coats all the pieces well. I usually do this step by hand, rubbing all the ingredients gently into the potato pieces. Crack some pepper on top again if you'd like once you are done mixing.

4. Lay the pieces on a baking tray (you can either use a baking sheet like Silpat, parchment paper, or aluminum foil to line the baking tray) without overlapping. If your baking tray is small, bake in two batches but make sure that you line the potato wedges in a single layer.

5. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-40 mins until the wedges are golden brown and crisp on the outside. It may be a good idea to turn the baking tray around once during baking so that all the pieces get uniform heat, more or less. My oven has uneven heat in some corners and I am positive yours does too.

6. Once baked, serve hot with ketchup, mayonnaise, chilly sauce or Sriracha.

Note:

- I have tried many variations in this recipe like adding minced garlic directly into the potato wedges mixture, using regular oil instead of olive oil, cutting potatoes into wedges first and then par-boiling, etc. The quantities and ingredients above gave me the best result so I stick to that now. I have a small bottle of powdered garlic that I have bought specifically to make these baked garlic potato wedges. It really adds to the flavour.

August 3, 2011

5-Min Chocolate Mug Cake (with Eggless option) Made in a Microwave!

Making cake in a microwave, that too a microwave chocolate cake is a no-brainer to me. Most of my childhood stories that my parents relate revolve around chocolate in some form. My mom got so worried at some point that she did some research into what excessive chocolate-eating can do to kids (not very good things apparently), but eventually moderation became part of my life, even when it came to chocolate.

So yeah, I am a chocolate-lover.

5-Min Chocolate Mug Cake (with Eggless option) Made in a Microwave!

What this means is, I get these cravings to have something chocolate-y. I know many people have craving for something sweet (apparently it has to do with insulin levels or something) but my cravings usually revolve around chocolate.

5-Min Chocolate Mug Cake (with Eggless option) Made in a Microwave!

When 5-min chocolate mug cakes did its rounds in the Internet, I turned a blind eye and told myself it can't actually be chocolate cake if its made in a mug after a turn in the microwave for 2 mins, now can it?

5-Min Chocolate Mug Cake (with Eggless option) Made in a Microwave!

Well, it is. I recently caved in and made the darn thing one night at 9pm when I had to have something with chocolate in it. It took all of 5 mins to whip one up for myself (an additional 2 mins to make the second one for TH) and it was good. Really good.

5-Min Chocolate Mug Cake (with Eggless option) Made in a Microwave!

It was springy and fudgy and tasted just like cake, trust me. All you need is some basic ingredients which you probably already have in your pantry if you bake now and then. Even if you don't even have an oven, but have a basic microwave that only heats things up (like mine does) that will do the trick. Isn't it a delightfully scary thought that now there's nothing standing between you and a mug-ful of delicious chocolate cake?!

5-Min Chocolate Mug Cake Made in a Microwave
Preparation time: 3 mins
Cooking time: 2 mins
Adapted from Not Quite Nigella
Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 tbsp flour
5 tbsp sugar (white or brown)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
3 tablespoons butter (or any neutral oil)
A pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
2 drops of vanilla extract (optional)

How to Make Microwave Cake:

1. Get your hands on two microwave safe coffee mugs that can hold about 250ml liquid (basically, nothing too small or the cake will spill over while cooking).

2. Halve the quantity of flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and sugar and add into each mug. Mix well with a fork.

3. Then halve the quantity of milk, butter, and vanilla and add into each mug. Break egg into another small bowl, whisk with a fork and add half of it into each mug. Stir well until all the ingredients mix well. Make sure there is no flour stuck to the bottom of the mug.

4. Add one mug at a time to the microwave and cook on medium heat for 2 mins. Every microwave acts differently and mine is a very basic one with just two knobs, one for heat level (low, medium, high) and one for time. I kept mine on medium and set each mug at 2 mins. The cake turned out perfect. If your microwave can show power levels, etc, keep it at medium and start at 2 mins. You can adjust it once you take a look at your cooked cake.

Some Important Notes for Making Cake in a Microwave:

- This cake is baked in the microwave mode, so if your microwave has a convection mode, don't turn that on.

- Stop cooking the cake when its still a bit fudgy around the edges. The cake cooks a bit more while cooling down (yes you will have to wait a while after it cooks!).

- For an eggless 5-min chocolate mug cake, replace the egg with 3 tbsp plain yogurt (1.5 tbsp for each mug). I've tried both versions and I must say the eggless cake is not as airy and nice as the one with the egg. Still, if you don't eat eggs, its absolutely acceptable.

- You can add chopped nuts, chocolate chips or sprinkles on the cake to jazz it up. Also, serve with whipped cream or ice-cream for an extra special tough. A great party dessert idea that gets done in a jiffy too.

- Almost all ceramic mugs can take 2-3 mins in the microwave. But don't blame me for potential explosions in your kitchen! Be careful what mug you use for this cake.

5-Min Chocolate Mug Cake (with Eggless option) Made in a Microwave!