July 30, 2012

Tomato Mint Chutney Recipe | Thakkali Pudina Chutney Recipe

This Tomato Mint Chutney is my mom-in-law's quick and easy chutney recipe that uses no coconut. She makes this in bulk and stores it in the refrigerator for up a week, serving it with pretty much everything. I made it last month when I got a fresh bunch of mint leaves from Little India. The flavour is just amazing and I get away with making no kuzhambu if this chutney is there for lunch. If you want to see more chutneys for rice, then check out this peanut mint chutney, brinjal chutney, and chow chow chutney recipe.

Tomato Mint Chutney (No Coconut)

It has a longer shelf life because this chutney uses no coconut. So what gives it the volume? Read on!

July 27, 2012

Rava Pongal-Rava Ghee Pongal-Rava Pongal Recipe

I love Ven Pongal and my mom-in-law makes it really well. During their last visit, she made pongal with rava which was very new to me. Makes it a bit lighter than regular khara pongal which is quite heavy and I am usually not hungry at lunch time if I have pongal for breakfast. I would still eat though. When has not being hungry ever stopped some of us from eating, eh?
Rava Pongal | Sooji Pongal | Semolina Pongal Recipe

Anyway, I am almost leaning towards saying that I like rava pongal better than the regular pongal. It's more creamy and if you add the recommended amount of ghee, which I must admit is a lot, it's absolutely heavenly.

July 25, 2012

Eggless Dulce de Leche Brownies | A David Lebovitz Recipe

I made these dulce de leche brownies a while back, when I made dulce de leche for the banoffee pie. I was reluctant to post it because of how the final brownies look in the pic. They look burnt and too dark and not at all delicious but the thing is, they were delicious. They really really were.
Eggless Dulce de Leche Brownies | A David Lebovitz Recipe

But seeing that I may not make dulce de leche any more in the near future, and since this is a really good recipe which I tried eggless, I want to share it anyway.

July 23, 2012

Food Photos Prop Shopping in Kappabashi-Dori, Tokyo

If you've been reading me for a while, you would probably know that I try to find food photo props wherever I travel to. Although I'd been to Tokyo a couple times before, I never got to see much because they were 3 or 4 days trips spent between the hotel and the office. During my last trip, I took a couple of days off, TH joined me, and we celebrated our 4th anniversary there. I also took advantage of the timing to say we must visit the restaurant-supply stores street in Tokyo - Kappabashi Dori!

Food Photos Prop Shopping in Tokyo

You can read more about Kappabashi here, but essentially it's an entire street filled with restaurant supply stores and more interestingly, the fake food pieces that Japan is very popular for.

Our visit turned out to be a bit of a bummer because we reached around 6pm and most of the stores were shutting down. To avoid disappointment, go earlier in the day.

In spite of that, I managed to find some good stuff.
Food Photos Prop Shopping in Tokyo

This brown plate is the first thing I picked up. It's actually a sushi plate and came in a few different sizes. They are meant to be bought as a set I think but in true food blogger fashion, I bought just one. I used it in the Vanilla Panna Cotta Recipe post and was quite surprised when quite a few of you noticed it.
Food Photos Prop Shopping in Tokyo

These are probably my favorite buy from the street though. I bough 6 because I wanted to have a set to also use when I have guests (and not just for food pics!). They are meant to be green tea tumblers (ceramic) but the possibilities are endless. They are just the right size to serve coffee, tea, milkshakes, ice-cream, payasam or pretty much any dessert when you have guests over.

I used those tumblers to serve Paneer Payasam and Mango Lassi when my family was visiting.

Food Photos Prop Shopping in Tokyo

Then there's the pretty green oven dish. I triple-checked and the lady at the store confirmed they are oven-safe although it doesn't say so anywhere on the dish itself. The green is lovely, the sides have a nice swirly design and I am in love! Haven't used it yet. Check out the bowl in use in my Kappa Masala Recipe post.

I also got 6 battered steel dessert spoons to go with the blue tumblers on top. They had a lot of battered steel utensils starting from large ladles but somehow, I found these the prettiest. Also, they are quite expensive.

Food Photos Prop Shopping in Tokyo

Finally, the gorgeous dark peach-orange delicate ceramic bowl. I envisioned serving Thai raw papaya salad in this even before i bought it. It's been 4 months and the salad still hasn't happened, but it will, one of these days. This bowl deserves the limelight. I have never seen a colour like this before, and certainly not on a bowl.
Kappabashi also has a good selection of Santoku knives which are Japanese iron knives, super sharp, super long-lasting. You must pick up one if you are into knives like I am. They will even engrave handle for you so they make great gifts too.

The only downside to prop shopping in Tokyo is, it's not cheap. This bunch of things up here cost me close to 100 SGD. But the quality is fantastic and they will last you a lifetime if you take good care of them.

Here's a post with a few good pictures of Kappabashi.
How to get there? Get to Asakusa Station and it's abou a 600m walk

So, which item is your favourite?

July 18, 2012

Banana Stem Paruppu Usili Recipe-Usili Recipe

Paruppu Usili is TH's favourite dish and I make it regularly, usually with beans but often with other vegetables that I feel will make a good combination with the lentils.
Banana Stem Paruppu Usili Recipe

Remember the banana stem that I painstakingly cleaned up (if not, check out how to prepare banana stem before cooking)? I used half of it to make banana stem thoran which I absolutely love and then reserved the rest to make paruppu usili. It turned out really well, a great blend of textures and flavours.

The first I learnt to cook for TH was paruppu usili so each time I make it, I am reminded of the first time I tried it. The recipe was quite off and I remember adding onions to it, a total Brahmin no-no (although TH and his family are fine with it).

There's a lesson in there folks. Start somewhere, just start, even if your paruppu usili ends up with onions in it!

July 16, 2012

Eggless Vanilla Cake Recipe - Eggless Sponge Cake Recipe

Here's the recipe for an easy eggless sponge cake that can form a base to pretty much any party cake or birthday cake you want to put together. My cake recipes usually don't have a story attached to them. Wait, that's not true. There is a story but it's usually just one line - "I felt like eating cake so I baked one and ate it all". However, this eggless sponge cake recipe has a slightly longer story behind it.

I have the habit of taking pictures of recipes from cook books to try later. Mostly, these pictures just stay in my phone album, forgotten and hardly ever looked at again but this cake recipe came out of that dungeon one day.

Eggless Vanilla Cake | Eggless Sponge Cake Recipe

Flashback: I was in Gurgaon some time last year and walked into some random book store that had every single Nita Mehta book every printed. When I first saw it, I thought I would buy half of them and come back but I got so overwhelmed that all I did was browse through half a dozen of them, click a picture of one recipe, and leave without buying any.

Over a year later, this cake happened because I was trying to sort through my phone pics and free up some space on the memory card and I chanced upon this recipe I had taken a picture of ages ago.

Before I give you the recipe already, one more thing. I am not a fan of cake recipes with oil instead of butter. I am wary of them, and often insist in my head that I can taste the oil and it's not good and butter is the food of the Gods and that's what we should always always bake with.

This cake is an exception though. You really can't taste the oil, even if you are paranoid and dramatic like me.

July 12, 2012

Inji Curry | Puli Inji | Onam Sadya Recipes

Inji Curry or Puli Inji is a Kerala Sadya special, particularly made and served for Onam Sadya. Amma. I have a weird relationship with ginger (inji in Malayalam). It's weird I can't really explain it. Let me try though, stay with me ok?

So here's the thing. If I sniff a piece raw ginger, I feel nauseous. It's ironic because ginger is what people sniff when they feel nauseous. I can never eat a ginger candy. I hate biting into ginger pieces that are added to upma (I always grate and add it) and such. BUT. I love the flavour of it as long as it's not dominating the dish - like ginger chicken, or adding it to coconut chutney, or even fresh lime juice with ginger. There's an exception though (I told you this is weird) - Inji Curry. Inji curry is a condiment that's an essential part of an Onam sadya and the star ingredient is obviously. ginger. AND, I love it.

Inji Curry | Puli Inji | Onam Sadya Recipes

Amma makes inji curry and stores it in the refrigerator for weeks. She never restricts dishes to festivals, and makes them as she pleases, when she wants. The inji curry in the pictures here are made by her to send back with me during my last trip to Kottayam.

It's super easy to make Inji Curry so I hope the lack of step by step pictures doesn't deter you. Will try to update if and when I make this myself. Here's a list of Onam Sadya Recipes, just for you. Pulissery and Cabbage Thoran go really well with this Inji Curry.

July 9, 2012

Vanilla Panna Cotta Recipe with Blueberry Coulis (Easy Panna Cotta Recipe)

You know what? I always thought panna cotta was this incredibly difficult thing to make. I even thought it would be something like doing the inverted dog position and staying there for 5 mins without moving. Yeah, yoga taught me how tough it is to stay in one position doing nothing.

And blueberry coulis. I couldn't even pronounce that 2 years back. Thanks to Masterchef Australia and watching 8-year olds whip up perfect berry coulis, I finally got around to making it myself.
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

This is a perfect dessert for entertaining for many reasons:

- it's easy. like really really easy to put together
- it needs to set in the refrigerator which means you can make it well in advance
- few people would dislike it. I mean, it's milk and cream and sugar.
- you can set it in individual portions and serve it as is which is not only pretty but also means you don't have to share dessert. That's my idea of perfect situation. Not sharing dessert
- this is an eggless dessert!
- did I mention it's easy?

You may also want to check out this no-bake mango cheesecake recipe, eggless oreo cheesecake recipe, and my 3-ingredient mango ice-cream recipe!

Eggless Vanilla Panna Cotta Recipe

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves 2-3

1 cup of cream (any kind that you can pour should do)
1 cup of milk (full fat works best)
1/3 cup of sugar, heaped
1 vanilla bean pod (or 1 tsp extract)
1 tsp of gelatine (or 2 tsp / 5gm agar agar or china grass)
2 tbsp of boiling water

How to make Panna Cotta:

1. Pour the cream and milk into a pan.
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

2. Scrape the caviar (seeds) out of the vanilla pod and add to the cream mixture. You can throw in the pod too, we'll remove it later. Vanilla pods are expensive so make the most of them!
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

3. Bring this mixture to a boil and add the sugar.
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

4. Mix well and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Remove from fire, strain, and set side.
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

5. Bring 2 tbsp water to a boil (I did this in the microwave) and add the gelatine or agar agar to it. Stir until combined with no traces.
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

6. Add the gelatine mixture to the strained cream mixture and mix well.
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

7. Pour this mixture into moulds, small cups, ramekins, a pudding dish, anything that takes your fancy. I used silicone cupcake moulds. Lightly oil (with any neutral oil) whatever mould you use, otherwise it will be tough to unmould later (if you plan to serve it that way).
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

8. Let it cool completely and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

Now we need to make the Blueberry Coulis to serve it with. It's even easier than the panna cotta as if that was even possible!

Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

Blueberry Coulis Recipe

Preparation time: 3 minutes
Cooking time: 2 minutes
Serves 2-3

1 cup of blueberries
2 tsp of sugar
A few drops of lemon juice

How to make Berry Coulis:

1. Blend the blueberries and extract as much juice as possible. If using frozen blueberries and you don't have time to thaw it out, just rinse in tap water a couple times and use as normal.
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

2. Pass the blueberry puree through a sieve and discard the pieces of skin and tiny seeds. You should get smooth, thick blueberry juice when done.
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

3. Add the sugar to this and mix well...
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

... followed by the lime juice.
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

Now technically, you're supposed to simmer this mixture for 2-3 mins but I just gave it a whirl in the microwave for a minute on medium heat. Stir again to combine, cool, and refrigerate. You can make this immediately after the panna cotta and let them both sit together in the refrigerator. You know, get to know each other before they get served together or something.
Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

We're done! Once the panna cotta has set, unmould by inserting a knife along the edges, placing a plate over the mould, and gently overturning it. I'd recommend not going through the hassle and just serving it in the dishes that you set them in. Either ways, looks and tastes delicious!

Vanilla Panna Cotta | Blueberry Coulis Recipe

Sweet panna cotta perfectly balanced by the tangy blueberry coulis.

Notes (because I feel like I haven't talked enough!)

- You can make the coulis with pretty much any berries you can lay your hands on. You can also skip it and serve the panna cotta with warmed chocolate sauce.
- You can layer the panna cotta and coulis before setting. I really wish I'd done that actually. Layer the bottom of a shot glass with the blueberry coulis, pour some panna cotta mixture on top, layer again with the coulis, etc. That would be super pretty!
- The amount of sugar mentioned makes a mildly sweet panna cotta so add more if you want it sweeter.

July 6, 2012

How to prepare banana stem for cooking

Vazha Pindi, Vazhai Thandu, Banana Stem, whatever you call it, it's a pain to prepare before you cook. There, I said it. I postponed buying it for a long time because I just didn't feel it was worth it to spend this much time and end up with just one dish for two people. I would still need to make the rest of the meal!
How to prepare banana stem for cooking

But, BUT, it's not all bad. Banana steam is fibrous and nutritious so once in a while, maybe like once a year which is what I do, it's good to take the time out and do this and maybe eat it with leftover rasam and rice from the previous day.

July 4, 2012

Irvin's Live Seafood House, Upper Thompson Road, Singapore

It definitely doesn't seem that long but just over 2 years back, I had posted a review of Irvin's Seafood Place when they were in River Valley Road.

Well, a lot has changed since then. They have moved to Upper Thompson Road, changed their name slightly, set up a lovely more upscale restaurant space, and revamped their website and even their menu.
Irvin's Seafood House SIngapore

Steph from Irvin's invited TH and me for a meal so we headed down there last week for dinner. We got the most amazing welcome ever and TH was all "wow! what did you do to get treated like this?". Hehe.

July 3, 2012

6 Easy 4th of July Dessert Recipe Ideas

Yeah, you are right. I have nothing to do with the 4th of July holidays but a whole lot of my friends and colleagues are preparing for it and I see my Pinterest page (oh, in case you are on Pinterest, I am quite the pinner!) flooded with ideas, some of which are too pretty and too easy to resist sharing. You can also check out all my cake recipes and easy dessert recipes - browse around!

1. Red White and Blue Parfait from Martha Stewart

2. Red White and Blue Dipped Strawberry from Baking Bites (doesn't get easier than this)

3. Red White and Blue Cheesecake Cupcakes from Skinny Taste (they are each under 100 calories!)

4. 3-Tier 4th of July Chocolate Cake from The Culinary Life

5. Cheesecake in a Jar from My Baking Addiction (this is probably what I'd make if I were celebrating)

6. Red White and Blueberry Skewers from Make and Takes (if you want to go the super healthy way)

Happy Holidays to all readers of Edible Garden celebrating 4th of July this year!