22 Dec 2017

Christmas Fruit Cake [No Alcohol version]

It is that time of the year when the air is filled with the sweet scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, orange , mulled wine, log fires and much more ..

Not to mention about the classic festive bakes with doubles up as treats for family members and edible gifts for friends and colleagues..

Fruit & Nut cake is one such classic which makes us feel Christmassy in every bite. It is a perfect marriage of dried fruit & nuts and heavenly aroma of spices which is tied together with the fresh flavours of oranges and honey.

J.M.Bakes in Coimbatore was & is famous for its plum cake. The cake was sold as slices wrapped in plastic wraps with no glazed or extra toppings. We were so crazy about this cake that it was our weekend treat during school time. At that I didn't know about spices or dried fruit or glazed cherries or muscavado sugar but all I knew was that the cake tasted awesome.

For this recipe I did not add cherries as I wanted a cake that was light but at the same time rich with flavour. This is my preference but feel free to add glazed cherries if you prefer to.

Recipe reference : BBCgoodfood
I have made a few changes to the original recipe and it turned out well.

For the Recipe 
Unsalted butter [at room temperature]: 200 gms
Large eggs: 5
Plain flour:280 gms
Ground almonds: 85 gms
Mixed dried fruit: 400 gms
Light muscavado sugar: 140 gms
Ground ginger & cinnamon:1 tsp each
Ground cloves & nutmeg: 1/2 tsp each
Salt : a pinch

For the glaze and decoration
Fresh orange juice: 4-5 tbsp
Runny honey: 2 tbsp
Dried nuts [of your choice] : a handful

Preheat the oven at 180C/Gas mark 4/Fan 160C. Grease and line the base and sides of 23 inch loose base round cake tin.

Mix the flour, ground almonds and ground spices.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one by one and mix thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients and the dried mixed fruit.

Mix lightly as to blend everything together.

Pour in the prepared cake tin and bake for 45mins to 1 hr. In the meantime mix the orange juice and honey together.

Once the cake id done, remove from the oven and let the cake cool slightly. Remove the cake from the tin. Brush the cake with the orange honey mix until well absorbed.

Decorate with the dried nuts.

Instead of the mixed dried fruit, feel free to add 1 or 2 varieties of dried fruit - raisins, dates, cherries, stem ginger with any nuts of your choice.
Instead of the orange honey glaze you can also decorate with marzipan and fresh fruits like grapes and figs.
The cake keep good for almost a week without the orange honey glaze.

Merry Christmas every one .. Enjoy the holiday season..

Scribbled by Reva

21 Sep 2017

Coconut Laddoo

 It is festival season for the next 3 months, as much as it is enjoyable it does comes with its own share of cooking. Such huge variety of sweets and savories that need to be whipped up almost every other week.

Am I complaining? No ..

Why should I when there are so many quick and easy recipes that come handy for such demands. Coconut Laddoo with condensed milk is one such recipe.

Any recipe with coconut and I go GAGA .. something is so eternally mesmerising about coconut.

Laddoos plays a very important role in our festivals and the varieties are endless from motichoor to dry fruits laddoo to chocolate laddoo. There is something for everyone and for me it is Coconut laddoo. The fresh coconut scrapings combined with cardamom and ginger gives a very unique refreshing flavour.

This recipe is so simple with very few ingredients and the laddoo gets ready in about 30 minutes time. They taste great on the day of making but you can store the laddoos in the fridge for upto a week. just microwave for 5 seconds before serving.

For making around 16 - 20 coconut laddoos you need
Fresh coconut scrapings : 2 cups
Condensed milk : 1 and 1/3 cups
Cardamom powder : 1/2 tsp
Ginger powder : 1/2 tsp
Ghee : 2 tbsp

For rolling and decorating the coconut laddoos
Desiccated coconut : 2-3 tbsp
Powdered sugar : 1 tbsp
Almond slivers : a few

How to make coconut laddoos

1.Heat a heavy bottom pan on medium flame. Add ghee and coconut scrapings. Stir the coconut scrapings until all the ghee is incorporated and the mixture dries up a bit. This will approximately take 5 minutes.

2.Add the condensed milk, salt, cardamom and ginger powder. Mix thoroughly. Frist the mixture wil becomes a bit watery but will gradually start coming together.

3.Keep stirring until the mixture thickens and starts to leave the sides of the pan. Remove from flame and transfer into a bowl.

4.Let it cool a bit. Meanwhile mix the desiccated coconut and powdered sugar. Spread the mix on a plate.

5.Take a small amounts of the warm coconut mix and roll them into laddoos. Roll the laddoos in the desiccated coconut sugar mix. Decorate with almond slivers.

Buy juicy coconuts for the laddoos not the mature ones as they give a oily taste to the sweet.

U can also add khoya when making the laddoos for more volume and texture. Fro 1/2 cup of khoya add 1/2 cup of condensed milk.

For variations, try adding nuts [cashews, pistachio and chirongi] when making the laddoos.

Instead of almonds , you can use various pistachio and cashews for decorating.

16 Mar 2017

Sivappu Arisi Sarkarai Pongal

Hi everyone,

"When life is sweet, say thankyou and Celebrate. When life is Bitter, say thankyou and Grow"

Not trying to be philosophical but for some reason this particular line stayed in my memory. I saw this in one of the bookshop windows a few years back. This best part about this statement is that we forget to celebrate when we feel blessed but make sure to crib/whine/get angry and frustrated when things don't go our way.

Probably this fast moving world has made us forget the small things that have a positive impact in our everyday life but we hang on to the negative things, burden ourselves mentally and emotionally and turn the whole situation bitter. Sweet pongal/payasam especially rice based are my ultimate comfort food. The process of making these sweet dishes, the flavours, textures and aroma of the finished dish in itself is so therapeutic.

This recipe calls for red raw rice and coconut milk with a mild ginger and cardamom flavour. It is a simple way to include other rice varieties [other than the usual raw rice] in our diet.

For the recipe
Red raw rice: 1 cup [washed]
Moong dal: 1/4 cup
Jaggery: 1 cup
Water: 1/4 cup
Coconut milk [strained first]: 1 cup
Coconut milk [strained second]: 2 cups
Coconut milk [strained third]: 2 cups
Cardamom powder : 1/2 tsp
Ginger : 1 inch piece
Edible camphor: 1 pinch
Saara paruppu [chironji or charoli in hindi]: 1 tbsp
Ghee: 2 tbsp

1.Bring the water to a boil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the jaggery and stir until everything is dissolved. Remove from flame and set aside.
2.Heat a pressure cooker on medium flame. Roast the moong dal for a couple of minutes until a nice aroma emanates, Add the washed rice, ginger, cardamom powder and coconut milk [second and third strained]. Close the lid and cook for 3-4 whistles. Put off the flame.
3.Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a small pan and roast the saara paruppu. Set aside. Filter the jaggery syrup and mix the edible camphor in the syrup.
4.Once the pressure in the cooker subsides, open the lid and mash the rice dal mix slightly. Place the cooker on medium flame. Add the jaggery syrup little by little and mix well.
5. Once the jaggery syrup has been absorbed into the rice dal mix, add the roasted saara paruppu and the remaining ghee and mix well. Switch off the flame.
6.Let the pongal cool for about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk [first strained] and mix gently.

Serve warm or cold.

1.The amount of liquid required [wether using water, milk or coconut milk] is determined by the age of the rice. I had used new rice which requires less water. If you are using old rice, then increase the liquid amount by 1 cup to the already given ratio.

2. Instead of coconut milk you can use regular milk or just water. If using milk or water, add all the liquid into the pressure cooker to cook the rice dal mixture.

3.Feel free to use cashew and raisin instead of saara paruppu.

4.You can also add 2-3 tbsp of fresh scraped coconut to the rice dal mix and continue to make the pongal. 

Scribbled by Reva

21 Nov 2016

Sambhar Podi - Tamil Style

Hi everyone ..

This post is special as this is the first time I am grinding sambhar podi at home. All this time it used to come from my MIL's place or a small store in Salem. I am more used to making "Arachu vitta Sambhar", a recipe which asks for fresh ground masala paste everytime.

I have not bothered with grinding the podi at home until now. I don't have any special reason for not trying to grind sambhar podi at home except  that it was conveniently available at hand in packets.

So the search started for a simple recipe [google leads the way ..]. I was stunned to see so many recipes for sambhar podi with so many variations right from Chettinad variety to Iyengar style. One recipe was intriguing from "Kannammacooks" blog which was "Tamil Style". Just like the name the ingredient list was also intriguing.

I decided to give it a  try. Thankfully I had done the monthly shopping for the cupboard ingredients already, so making the sambhar podi was done an dusted in an hour's time. For the below given ingredient content you will get around 200 to 220 gms of sambhar podi.

I added 2 sprigs of curry leaves along with the other ingredients. This is purely optional but I felt it adds a nice aroma to the podi.

For the Sambhar podi : Recipe  source kannammacooks
Red chillies: 20 [long ones]
Coriander seeds: 1/2 cup
Thuvar dal: 1/4 cup
Rice: 2tbsp
Cumin : 3 tbsp
Fennel seeds: 1 tsp
Black pepper: 2tbsp
Fenugreek seeds: 2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Poppy seeds: 2 tsp
Curry leaves: 2 sprigs [washed and dried]
Tumeric [whole]: 2
Asafoetida powder: 2 tsp
Gingelly oil : 1 tsp

1.Heat a heavy bottomed pan and add 1 tsp of gingelly oil. Add the red chillies and saute on low flame. Once the red chillies start swelling a bit, take the pan off the flame and transfer the chillies onto a plate.

2.Keep the same pan [the one used to roast the red chillies] on low flame. Roast the coriander seeds first until they become fragrant which will take a minute or two. Transfer the coriander seeds onto a plate.

3.Roast the thuvar dal,rice and curry leaves together for a minute followed by the rest of the ingredients [except if you are using tumeric powder instead of whole tumeric]. Transfer all the roasted ingredients onto the plate that has the roasted coriander seeds

4.Cool all the roasted ingredients. Grind everything together to a powder. Transfer the ground powder onto a plate and let it cool. Store in an air-tight container.

How to use: Add 2 tbsp of sambhar podi to simmering tamarind onion base and simmer for 5 minutes before adding the cooked thuvar dal and vegetables. Not sure how that is done, "Pumpkin Sambhar" to follow..

 If you don't have whole dried tumeric,add 1 tsp of tumeric powder to the sambhar podi in the end and mix.
For the best results [taste wise] make sure all the ingredients are as fresh and clean as possible. Take care when roasting the ingredients especially the red chillies and the coriander seeds. If you let these two ingredients roast a bit longer than needed where they turn dark brown, it will spoil the taste of the podi completely.

It is always a good idea to make the podi in small batches as this helps in retaining the freshness and flavour of the product.

Enjoy ...

7 Nov 2016

Cherry Clafouti

Festive season is about to begin and very soon the blogging world is going to be flooded with all sorts of festive / party food recipes. Most of them are labour intensive but some are a breeze to whip up. The other day the Indian store where I purchase my groceries had a big basket of ripe cherries.

The red ripe colour of the cherries was actually calling out to everyone "Somebody make a yummy dessert out of me".Even though I bought the cherries I had no idea as to what to do with literally a kilo of cherries. Google guru showed the way ..

Clafouti is one of the great classics french cuisine. This classic dessert has ripe cherries baked in luxuriously smooth custard sauce. Ingredients are few and the recipe sounded simple. Traditionally it was made with the first sweet cherries of the season. The cherries are cooked unpitted, so their kernels release their delicate almond flavour as they bake. Present day preparations go for pitted cherries which makes it easier to eat.

One of the Clafouti recipe [Joy of Baking] listed some tips for selecting the cherries for this classic dessert. The cherries have to bright shiny red, plump, firm with their stems still attached. There are also suggestions of using other fruits like apples, pears, peaches, blackberries etc.

Unsalted butter :2 tbsp
Ripe cherries: 300 gms [washed and stoned]
Plain flour: 65 gms
Eggs [large]: 2
Milk: 180 mls
Granulated sugar: 70 gms
Baking powder: 1/2 tsp
Vanilla extract : 1/2 tsp
Icing sugar [for dusting] : 1-2 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4. Reserve 1 tbsp of the granulated sugar. Mix the rest of the sugar, flour, milk, eggs, vanilla extract and baking powder to a smooth batter. Grease a 25 cms round baking dish with some butter [reserve some]. Sprinkle the baking dish with the reserved granulated sugar.

Arrange the cherries [which have been cut in half and stoned] in the baking dish with the cut surface resting in the buttered baking dish. Place the dish in the heated oven for 5-6 minutes until the cherries have softened. Remove the dish from the oven. Pour the batter slowly into the dish over the cherries until they are covered. Dot the surface with the remaining butter. Bake for around 30 to 35 mins until golden and puffy.

Let the clafouti cool to lukewarm. Cut into wedges, dust with icing sugar and serve.

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