September 27, 2012

Orange pound cake with chocolate chips

Orange pound cake with chocolate chips
My Dad was a Boy Scout, and is very proud of his Boy Scout experiences. He never misses an opportunity to use the 'reef knot' or the 'clove hitch' in his day-to-day life. Once he made 'potato curry' in one of his camping trips, and apparently won the best cook title - we have heard this story a zillion times. Only recently did I find out that my Baa had measured all the spices and salt for him, and all he did was boil the potatoes and dump the spices!! So much for being the 'best cook' in the camp. 
His box of scout woggles, scarves and badges is definitely one of his prized possessions :) He spent one full afternoon explaining to his 6 and 8yr old daughters why the Scouts and Guides logo was the Fluer de Lis. I dont remember the story but was surely thrilled to learn a French word! :) It was a big deal for an 8yr old! :) 

Last week, I made an Orange Pound cake with chocolate chips for his birthday in my Fluer De Lis bundt pan. :) I was looking for the perfect recipe for my newest bundt pan, and my most reliable recipe source a.k.a Ajanta came to my rescue. It is a Barefoot Contessa recipe that turned out just perfect! I think the zest and the freshly squeezed orange juice add to the depth of flavour. Here it goes -

Serves: 10-12 persons
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 45 minutes -1 hour

For the cake
1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 organic extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup grated orange zest (I zested about 4 large oranges)
2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (From the oranges already zested- I find it easier to zest an orange before the juice is squeezed out)
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups good semisweet chocolate chunks ( I used chocolate chips, instead)
Orange syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan very well.
  2. In a large bowl, whip the butter and sugar with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Then fold in the orange zest.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients - 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a measuring cup, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. 
  4. In a small bowl, toss the chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons flour and fold them to the batter. Tossing the chocolate chips in flour prevents them from sinking to the bottom.
  5. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, make the orange syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely. Tip: It is important to remove the cake from the pan at the specified time. Letting it cool in the pan may result in a tasty disaster :(
  7. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake. I didn't make the ganache, but it would surely make the cake more decadent! :)

Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

September 14, 2012

Jhat-pat Lapsi

Jhat-pat Lapsi
Lapsi is probably my favorite traditionally Gujarati dish. It is almost like a 'halva' made of broken wheat. Typically made on auspicious days, such as New Year or during festivals, Lapsi is an integral part of the 'Nived' spread. My mom always makes Lapsi for our New Year lunch. We eat Lapsi with a simple potato curry. I know, I know, it sounds weird - but it is a delicious combination. My sister and I eat Lapsi by the bowl! Mom often had to whip up a big bowl for us when we returned from school. This is her 'jhat-pat' Lapsi recipe. Her it goes.

Serves: 2-3 persons
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup suji/ semolina
3-4 tbsp melted ghee
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup gur/ jaggery
1/4 cup sugar


  • In a medium bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, semolina and 3 tbsp ghee well, till it resembles a 'crumble'. Set it aside.
Whole wheat- Semolina 'crumble'
  • In a thick bottomed pan or a non-stick pan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Add sugar and jaggery. Continue to simmer on low heat till the jaggery is completely dissolved.
Simmering jaggery-sugar syrup
  • Sprinkle the wheat flour-semolina crumble gently into the simmering jaggery-sugar syrup. Cover and let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes on low heat. Do not stir. It is done when a wooden spoon or spatula comes out clean. The consistency should be like a halva or upma.
Crumble sprinkled into jaggery syrup
  • Add 1 tbsp melted ghee and serve hot - as a main course Gujarati meal with curried potatoes or as a simple dessert.
Delicious Lapsi
Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

September 11, 2012

Hearty tomato & root vegetable soup

Lake Agnes Tea House
We just came back from a wonderful vacation amidst blue lakes and snow capped Rockies. Almost everyone we spoke with was either an avid hiker, biker or a cross-country backpacker. After our hike up to Lake Agnes, we ate at the famous Lake Agnes Tea House. It is little log cabin in the hanging valley on the shore of the turquoise Lake Agnes. They serve over a hundred types of tea, soup, sandwiches, freshly baked bread etc. Their tomato vegetable soup with barley was fabulous. Served with home-made multigrain bread, I loved it so much that I was willing to hike up the next day just to eat that soup! :D

Today, I tried to recreate that soup with my own twist. I did not have barley at hand, so I left it out. Here it goes.

Serves: 2-3 persons
Preparation time: 20-25 minutes

2-3 small carrots
2 small beetroots
2 tomatoes
1 tsp butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 cloves
1-2 cinnamon pieces (about 1")
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)

  1. In a medium sauce-pan, bring 1 1/2- 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the peeled and diced carrots and beetroots and cover. Continue to cook on low heat till the beetroots are fork tender. Alternatively, you could roast the vegetables at 400F for 20-30 minutes for a smokier taste. Add the two tomatoes into the sauce pan and cook for another five minutes or so, till the skin peels off. Remove from heat. You may choose to peel the tomato skin off, once the tomatoes cool a bit.
  2. Once slightly cooled, blend the root vegetables and tomatoes in a blender. Add salt and pepper. 
  3. In the same saucepan, heat 1 tsp butter. Add cumin seeds, clove and cinnamon. Once the cumin seeds sizzle, pour the root vegetable and tomato mixture back in. Add 1-2 cups of water, and bring it to a boil. Add brown sugar if desired.
  4. Hearty tomato-root vegetable soup
  5. Serve hot with bread of your choice. I ate it with fresh French Baguette :) 
Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

August 30, 2012

Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread or Muffins

Banana Nut muffins
One of my friends has been experiencing an insatiable craving for bananas. She was telling me about it over the phone, and almost immediately I wanted to bake her some banana bread. My cousin sent me this old recipe from the Southern Living magazine long time ago - it was the perfect opportunity to put it to test. 

The recipe makes 2 loaves of banana bread or 24 muffins. I made 24 mini muffins and 12 muffins. Here it goes.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes for muffins; 1 hour for loaves.
Cool time: 30 minutes

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 pack (8oz.) cream cheese, low fat, room temperature
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (The original recipe called for 3 cups all purpose flour)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup walnuts, cashews etc. (The original recipe called for pecans)

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare the loaf pans or muffin tins. I used paper liners for both the muffins and mini muffins.
  • In a large bowl, blend softened butter and cream cheese until well mixed. Add sugar and beat with an electric beater till light and fluffy. 
  • Add the eggs one at a time and whip till incorporated. 
  • Add the flour and blend till completely incorporated. It will be a thick batter. 
  • Now add the baking soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla extract.
  • Fold in mashed banana and 2/3 cup nuts. Pour into muffin tins or loaf pans. 
  • Sprinkle remaining nuts on the batter.
  • Bake muffins for 25 minutes or until done. The loaf takes about 1 hour. Cool completely on wire racks. 

Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

August 28, 2012

Doi Begun -Bengali Style Eggplant in Yoghurt Gravy

Eggplant has been one of my favorite veggies though my husband who does not like it much  keeps saying it is 'begun', meaning of no quality in Bengali! So I never miss an opportunity to make baingan when he is not around and I am with friends who relish it as much I do. In one such recent gathering we made this typical Bengali dish which I learnt from my mother in law.

Serves: 4-5 persons
Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins

1 medium sized eggplant/ baingan, cut horizontally in round medium sized pieces.
1 cup vegetable oil (Bengalis SHOULD use mustard oil for the authentic taste we like ;))
1 cup yoghurt
4-5 green chillies
1 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Cilantro, to garnish
  • Heat oil in pan and deep fry eggplant /baingan. I just learnt that a friend's mom who makes this dish often actually shallow fries the baingan, making it the healthier option.
  • Arrange baigan in a glass container and soak/drain oil in paper towel (the healthier option).
  • Blend yoghurt, chillies, mustard seeds, sugar and salt. Add water to blender to make the gravy thinner.
  • Pour gravy on baigan.
  • Garnish with cilantro. This dish tastes the best when complimented with hot rice.
Enjoy :)
Doi begun with bhaat ...aaah!!!!! 
Ajanta from Amherst

August 14, 2012

Daal Dhokri - Gujarati one pot meal

Daal Dhokri
While pasta, quinoa and couscous dishes have become a part of our weeknight dinner plans, some quintessentially Gujarati dishes have found their way into my 'weeknight go to recipe' list. Daal Dhokri is one such dish. Simply put, it is spiced whole wheat pasta cooked in lentil soup that is a sumptuous combination of proteins (toor daal 'sauce'), carbohydrates (roti 'pasta') and fresh vegetables. To my mind, it is a nutritious one pot Gujarati meal that makes for very few dishes to clean after a weeknight dinner! :) Here it goes -

Serves: 3-4 persons
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40-45 minutes

For Daal
1 cup toor daal
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
2-4 cloves
2 cinnamon pieces, 1" long
1" ginger, minced or grated
2-3 green chillies
1 sprig curry leaves
1/2 tomato
5-6 tbsp jaggery
2 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp peanuts, raw (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Salt, to taste

For Dhokri
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
1 tbsp canola oil
salt to taste

For garnish
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-2 small potatoes, boiled, peeled and chopped (optional)
1 cucumber, diced (optional)
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup coriander leaves

For Daal:

Simmering toor daal
  1. Rinse the toor daal till water runs clear. Cook the daal in a pressure cooker with 2 cups water, salt, turmeric and ginger. It took about 3 whistles in my cooker, but time taken may vary. Once cooled, blend the daal in a blender.
  2. In a large sauce pan, heat the ghee & oil. Once hot, add mustard seeds and let it sputter. Add curry leaves, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, green chillies and asafoetida. Add blended daal and mix well. Add about 3 cups of water, jaggery, chilli powder, peanuts, tomato and salt.
  3. Bring the daal to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice just before adding the dhokri.
For Dhokri:
Diamond shaped dhokri pieces, ready for the daal pot
  1. In a large bowl, knead wheat flour into a firm dough using warm water and 1tbsp oil. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder into the dough. Set the dough aside for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 5-6 golf ball sized portions. Roll each dough ball into large thin chapatis. I rolled the rotis to about 8-10" in diameter, since I have a large rolling board.  
  3. Once rolled, cut roti into diamond or square shapes using a knife or a pizza cutter. 
  4. Meanwhile, bring the daal to a boil, and add the roti pieces one by one (to prevent any lumps). Continue to roll the remaining dough balls, cut into small pieces and add to the boiling daal.
  5. Cook the dhokri in daal for 10 minutes or till the dhokri is completely cooked.
To serve:
  1. Serve hot daal dhokri in a deep bowl. Garnish with the chopped onions, potatoes, tomatoes, onion and coriander leaves.
  2. You could add a drop or two of ghee for added taste. Its purely optional, though.
Sumptuous Daal Dhokri
Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

July 30, 2012

Puchka - Kolkata style

Kolkata is known for its sweets and its hard-to-miss sandesh shops at almost every corner. The rest are practically taken over by street food vendors a.k.a the neighborhood Puchka wallas and 4th generation Jhal-muri wallas. Of all the street food Kolkata is famous for - Jhal-muri, Radha-Vallabhi, Kulfi, Pyaji, Beguni and even Kati Rolls, Puchka wins hands down. A trio of textures unite to result in a mouth watering delight called the Puchka. It comprises of a crunchy semolina puri with soft potato filling dipped in tangy sweet mint water.

Almost every part of India has its variation of this street food, made with its slight twist and known by a different name. Its called 'Gol-gappey' in Delhi, 'Pani puri' or 'Gup-chup' in Gujarat-Maharashtra and ofcourse, 'Puchka' in Kolkata. I've had long, almost heated debates in my hostel room with friends from Delhi and Mumbai who claimed that the Delhi Gol-gappey or the Mumbai Pani puri tasted better than Kolkata Puchkas. Having tried all the variations - I think the Kolkata Puchkas are the best! My mom even made the puchka puris at home. She always made a Jain version for Baa using raw bananas instead of potatoes for the filling - Strangely, the Jain version was always more appealing to me. I tried to make a slightly healthier version of her recipe by replacing part of the potato filling with green bananas/ plantains. Here it goes -
Potatoes and plantain for the filling

Serves: 4 persons
Preparation time: 30 minutes

30-40 puchka puris (mine were store bought)
2 large potatoes, boiled
1 plantain, boiled
1/2 cup black chick peas/ lal chana, boiled
1/4 tsp rock salt
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
Mint leaves
1/4 cup coriander leaves, chopped
Spicy water
4-5 cups water
1-2 tsp tamarind pulp
1 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped
2 green chillies
2 tsp cumin powder
1-2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp rock salt
2 tbsp date-tamarind chutney (optional)

1. Filling
  • Mash the potatoes and plantains together in a medium sized bowl. Ensure that there are no lumps of potato or plantain. Sometimes, I grate the potatoes for a more even texture. 
  • Add the remaining spices and salt to taste and mix well. 
  • Add the black chick peas and coriander leaves and mix again. Set aside.
2. Spicy water
Soaking tamarind pulp in water
  • Soak tamarind in a large bowl with 4-5 cups of water for 15-20 minutes. 
  • In a blender, add mint, coriander and green chillies with salt and blend into a paste. 
  • Add some of the tamarind water, cumin powder, red chilli powder, rock salt and blend. Taste before you add salt, because the rock salt and tamarind add saltiness to the mixture. 
  • Now, add this mint-coriander paste to the remaining tamarind water and mix well. Refrigerate till ready to serve. If you want a sweet-tangy taste, add the date-tamarind chutney. I usually leave it out, and add it while eating.
Spicy mint water
3.  Serving (or eating!)
  • Make a 1/2 inch hole on one of the sides of the puchka puri. Fill a teaspoon of the potato filling.
  • Add a drop or two of the date-tamarind chutney. 
  • Dip the potato filled puri in a bowl of spiced water and serve or eat immediately!! 
Puchka- Kolkata style
Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

July 4, 2012

Beetroot Halva

As a child I relished the sweet taste of steamed beets and loved the magenta hue much more! It was my 'lipstick' - would often pester Mom or Baa to cut a slice of beetroot such that I could hold it between my little fingers like a real 'lipstick' and paint my face all over. :)
I know now that beetroots are a wonderful source of potassium, magnesium, folic acid and iron as well as vitamins A, B6 and C.
I made a super simple beetroot halva for some friends after a Biryani dinner. Enjoy it with little less guilt, coz also good for you! ;) Here it goes.

Serves: 6-8 persons
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins

3 large beetroots, grated (about 3 cups)
14 oz. sweetened low fat condensed milk
1 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed
1 tbsp clarified butter/ ghee
1/2 cup chopped nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios etc)
1/2 cup raisins

  • Heat a large thick bottomed skillet, add ghee. Once warm, add cardamom seeds to infuse the aromatic flavor of the cardamom throughout the halva.
  • Add grated beetroots and saute till softened.
Grated beetroots sautéed in ghee
  • Add condensed milk and stir occasionally till the beets cook completely and turn slightly glossy - about 25-30 minutes. Most of the moisture would have evaporated by then. Note - The halva will thicken further as it cools.
  • Fold in the raisins and nuts. 
  • Garnish with nuts and serve. It can be served hot or chilled. 
Beetroot Halva
Notes: Condensed milk can be substituted by milk and sugar to taste. To make it richer, cashew paste or  khoya could also be added. 

Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

June 22, 2012

Dark Chocolate & Blackberry Cake

It was a lovely, still cool saturday morning when I baked a dark chocolate cake to bring to a potluck at a friend's place. I paired it with blackberries -both preserved and fresh. It turned out to be a moist chocolate cake with a hint of blackberry. Everyone at the potluck loved it - even those who dont dig chocolate cakes. I was delighted, to say the least. Here it goes.

Serves: 10-12
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Bake time -35 minutes

3/4 cup dark cocoa (I used dutch processed)
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 large cage-free eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing pans
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp instant coffee
1 cup blackberry preserve or jam
1 cup fresh blackberries for topping/ decoration

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. Avoid using pans with removable bottoms, since the batter is very thin - it might leak into the oven. Set aside. 
  • Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine. If you dont have buttermilk, you can substitute it with 1 tsp vinegar added to a cup of skimmed milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then proceed with the recipe. 
  • Stir instant coffee into the boiling water and whisk this into the batter until incorporated. The batter will be thin, so gently pour the batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the middle rack of the oven or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment. Cool completely. Leave the cake at room temperature for an hour if you wish to frost it with ganache immediately.
Blackberry preserve spread
NOTE: You can make this cake the day before serving, sandwich it with blackberry preserve, and keep it covered in the fridge.

Chocolate Ganache
1 cup heavy cream
10 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped fine or chocolate chips.
Blackberry preserve sandwiched between two layers
  • Set a heat proof bowl over a pot of boiling water (It works like a double boiler). Add chocolate chunks/chips to the bowl. 
  • As the chocolate begins to melt, whisk in the cream until well incorporated. Stir gently - avoid beating the mixture for a bubble free glossy finish. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes to thicken to a spreadable consistency. Alternatively, refrigerate it for 10-15 minutes to hasten the thickening process.
  • Place one cake layer on plate/ cake stand. My cakes had risen a lot, and I had to trim off the top so  I could stack them evenly. In hind sight - I think I should have trimmed them further.
  • Spread 1 cup blackberry preserve. Sandwich the other cake layer on top. 
  • Ice the cake using a metal spatula. If the ganache is still thin, you can gently drizzle it to cover the cake. If you have baked ahead - allow the cake to come to room temperature before icing with the ganache.
  • Ready to go
  • Garnish with blackberries and serve. I garnished it once we reached our friend's place, and were ready to eat dessert.
Note- This cake can be made using any jam or preserve of your choice. Garnish with the same fruit. Raspberries or strawberries would add a splash of color as well. :)

This recipe is based on Serena Bass' Cheating Chocolate Cake

Dark Chocolate Blackberry Cake
Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

June 16, 2012

Israeli Couscous with vegetables

Israeli Couscous with vegetables
Some families have a routine set for dinner each week night. Monday- Dosa; Tuesday- leftover Dosa/ Uttapam; Wednesday- Tadka roti....Such a routine definitely makes for a simpler life- there are no 'whats for dinner tonight?' calls going back and forth. I guess it would also make for one easy trip to the grocery store. 
Being the foodies that we are, the husband & I just cannot predict on Sunday what we would want to eat for dinner on Thursday!! Often, we just know that we dont want to eat. On one such evening, we knew we didn't want to eat the leftover 'dal-roti-veggie/chicken', so I made this Israeli Couscous. Inspired by a Bobby Flay salad recipe -  It is delicious, healthy and wholesome. Here it goes.

  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Serves: 4 persons

  • Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt 
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 green zucchini, sliced on a bias
  • 1 chicken breast (optional)
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes, cut into halves (I used yellow ones)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, cut lengthwise (Any color- I used yellow)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 10-12 leaves of fresh mint, julienned
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 2 cups vegetable stock/ water, heated


  • In a small bowl, whisk the dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt & pepper and 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • Pour the marinade in two separate bowls- Marinate zucchini and peppers in one bowl for 30 minutes. In another bowl, marinate the chicken for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat grill while the vegetables/ chicken marinate. Grill the vegetables until just cooked through. Optional - Grill the chicken, until done. Gently pull the chicken apart, into small bite sized pieces.
Cooked toasted Israeli Couscous
  • Toast the Israeli couscous in a dry skillet, until the couscous is golden brown in colour. Cover the couscous with the vegetable stock/ water and bring to a boil, cook until pearls look transparent, and are almost done. 
Saute yellow cherry tomatoes and diced onion
  • In a medium skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add diced onions, tomatoes and pinch of salt. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add the couscous, dried cranberries, grilled veggies and/ chicken.
  • Gently transfer into a serving bowl, add the mint & parsley and toss. Serve at room temperature. 
Israeli Couscous with cranberries and grilled veggies
Notes: Israeli Couscous can be easily substituted with couscous or any short pasta. Vegetables can be altered according to seasons as well. This is an easily customizable dish. :)

Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

June 14, 2012

Eggs in Rich Moghlai Sauce

I found this recipe in a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook which I had recently borrowed from our town library. Very rarely do I have all the ingredients at home ; this time I did, so customizing was not required ... and the outcome ?!?!  A recipe totally worth sharing with all of you! Here it goes...

Serves: 4 people
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 mins

Lengthwise cut eggs
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2-3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil  (or groundnut oil)
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp tomato puree
1 cup chicken stock
180 ml single cream 
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
5-7 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise in half
Freshly ground black pepper
  • Mix the cayenne, cumin, garam masala, coriander, lemon juice, salt and some black pepper with 1 tbsp of water to make a smooth paste and set aside.
  •  Heat oil in frying pan and set it over a medium high heat.When hot add the onion and stir fry until it turns brown at the edges. Add the ginger and stir for 10-15 seconds.
  • Add pre-made paste and stir for a minute.
  • Stir in tomato puree, chicken stock, cream  and fresh coriander and bring to simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes.
  • Lay the egg halves in the sauce in a single layer and spoon the sauce over the top. Cover and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Serve with any Indian bread or rice.

Eggs in Moghlai Gravy

You can always try this recipe by replacing eggs with paneer or chicken.

Enjoy !! 

Ajanta from Amherst

June 10, 2012

Coffee & Walnut Ring

I like a little something sweet on my dining table almost all the time... It does not need to be fancy. A coffee cake made with readily available ingredients comes handy when I have such sweet craving. This goes equally well with morning coffee or evening tea or even with your late night ice-cream :)
Coffee-Walnut Ring

Serves: 10 people
Prep Time: 10 mins
Baking Time: 40 - 45 minutes

  • Oil/ Melted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar ; I use 1 cup when I do not add maple syrup on top
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp instant coffee ; I use Nescafe ( original recipe calls for 1 tsp coffee extract )
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • Walnut halves to decorate
  • Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 6 1/4-cup tube or a 9 inch square pan, preferably nonstick.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and add the butter, sugar, eggs and coffee powder / extract. Beat well until the mixture is smooth, then stir in chopped walnuts.
  • Spoon the mixture in the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until risen, firm and golden brown.
  • Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out carefully onto a wire rack. While the cake is still warm, spoon over half the maple syrup . To serve, top with walnut halves and drizzle with the remaining maple syrup.
When served with Vanilla Ice-cream ... Bliss !

 Enjoy your cake !

Ajanta from Amherst

Keri no Ras - Aamras

I love all things mango. Unending supply and variety of mangoes makes summer my favourite season. I even went to India one time in the middle of summer, so that I could eat the king of fruits to my heart's fill (Yes, I'm that crazy!). My latest trip to the Indian grocery resulted in an impulsive purchase of TWO boxes of mangoes. Result? The apartment was filled with faintly sweet fragrance as they slowly ripened. 

Everyday I would check each piece to determine which ones were ripe enough to eat and/ or refrigerate. Soon enough, there were far too many ready to eat and no place in my refrigerator. So I made the staple meal for Gujarati households during the summer (read 'mango') season - 'Keri no Ras' to eat with poori. Its makes for a perfect lazy Sunday lunch for a mango loving soul. Oh dear Lord! The very thought of Ras-Poori makes my mouth water. Here it goes.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4-6 persons
3 ripe mangoes
1 cup skimmed milk, cold
2-4 tsp sugar (depending on how sweet the mangoes are)
1/2 tsp ground ginger powder

  • Peel and dice mangoes into 1" cubes. Extract as much pulp from the pits.

Golden ripe mango cubes
  • In a blender, blend mango cubes, milk and sugar into a thick pulp or 'aamras'.
  • Strain the 'aamras' in a fine wire strainer or cheese cloth to remove any mango fibres.
  • Pour in a bowl and stir in ginger powder. Refrigerate till ready to serve with poori or chapatis. It can even be served as a delicious summery dessert.
NOTE: Aamras can be easily frozen in a freezer safe container if you wish to relish the golden goodness all year through. I do it in small 2 serving sized containers, for easy thawing.
Keri no ras
Bon Apetit!
Hetal from Houston

June 5, 2012

Marwari Keri - Rajasthani Mango Pickle

As the scorching sun pierces through the wall of windows, I wonder how much Mom would have loved making all kinds of 'athaanu' or pickles in the abundant sunlight. In Kolkata, the high rises make direct, unobstructed sunlight a scarce commodity for those who live on the lower levels. Many a times in the summer months, Mom and us kids would take our pots of 'pickles in the making' to our wonderful neighbors' courtyard (Yes! They had courtyard right in the middle of South Kolkata!) and hope that the Rain Gods would stay at bay. Baa would constantly keep an eye out for dark rain bearing clouds. A tiny dark cloud spotted meant that we had to run to our neighbors', quickly gather all the pots and rush back!!!
'Marwari Keri' is a simple mango pickle Mom learned from a Marwari neighbor -hence the name. This is one of her signature pickles, and a family favourite. So much so that she has to send a jar of this pickle to my cousins in Nagpur every year. It takes a couple of days in sunlight - but is totally worth it. Here it goes.

1 raw Mango, diced into 1" pieces.
2 tsp Haldi/ turmeric powder
2-3 tsp salt
1 tsp Methi/ fenugreek seeds, roughly crushed.
1 tsp Variyari/ fennel seeds, roughly ground
1 tsp Mangrella/ nigella seeds
2 tbsp Mustard oil
1/2 tsp Hing/ Asafoetida powder
1 tsp red chilli powder

  • In a medium bowl, toss the mango pieces in 1 tsp turmeric and 2 tsp salt. All the pieces should be coated in the salt-turmeric mixture. Set it out the sun in a tray/ wide bowl for a day or two, depending on how much sunlight is available. Periodically remove any moisture that oozes out.
Mango tossed in salt and turmeric
  • Tempering: In a small skillet, heat 2 tbsp mustard oil. Add Hing, Methi Seeds and Mangrella seeds.  Add the dehydrated mango pieces and toss. 
Methi and Mangrella tempered mango
  • Spice it up: Add fennel seeds, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Toss again till all pieces are coated with the spices. Set it out in the sun again, for a day. Alternatively - allow the spiced mangoes to cool, and store it in a sterilised glass jar. 
Spiced up
  • Storage: It can be stored it in the refrigerator for months. For storage at room temperature, add enough mustard oil (~2-4 tbsp) that it covers the mango pieces. It keeps well, either way.
  • Enjoy with parathas, roti etc. 
Marwari Keri

Bon Appetit!
Hetal from Houston