Thursday, 31 January 2013

Vadakari-my first for SNC challenge

Challenges make you re-discover yourself and help you to grow irrespective of succeeding or failing.  Challenges make us realize our own strengths and weaknesses, our likes and dislikes. They help and make us try things beyond our area of comfort. And they certainly are a true test and an eye-opener of our capabilities. 
No wonder you are seeing me soaked in all sorts of food challenges nowadays !! There is a different sense of exhilaration in being able to participate and complete them. The SNC challenge is the newest on my repertoire!! Brainchild of Divya who blogs from you too can cook food, this is quite a novel challenge where we have teams divided into northern and southern. I naturally belonged to the northern team being a Sikh and hailing from the city of joy, Kolkata. Teams are challenged with region specific food and are given a month to complete. This months challenge was given by Ramya who blogs from lemonkurry.
Vadakari was never heard by me lest try it. But being a challenge, it was finally attempted and was such a hit at home. We all unanimously loved the vadas. My husband loved the vadakari which was these same vadas crumbled and put in gravy. My darling daughter all of 20 months munched away to these vadas in glory. 


  • 100 gms Bengal gram/chana dal
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds/saunf
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 3 garlic pods
  • 1/2 small sized onion, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • oil for frying

  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds/saunf
  • 1/2" cinnamon stick
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • a pinch of garam masala powder
  • salt to taste

Soak bengal gram for around an hour. Grind it along with the listed ingredients to a coarse paste. Add water as required but not too much.
Heat oil for frying.
Shape the vada batter into thin small roundels and fry them till they get a nice brown colour.
Eat them as a lovely snack with tea leaving some for the gravy. 

Heat oil in a pan, add fennel seeds, mustard seeds and cinnamon. Add chopped onions and saute for few minutes. Add tomatoes and cook till it leaves oil. Now add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala and salt. Add some water to get the required consistency of gravy. 
Add the crumbled vadas and adjust the consistency of the gravy as vadas absorb water.
Serve garnished with chopped fresh coriander.
Served usually with rice, idlis, dosa or chapatis. 

Linking this dish to Kolkata Food Bloggers ongoing event 'Kashmir to Kanyakumari'.

Happy Vada/Vadakari eating

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Lasagna Pull Apart Bread - I 'Knead' to Bake!!

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight"
M.F.K. Fisher

Breadmaking is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells... there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of
meditation in a music-throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.... 
To me these lines written by M.F.K. Fisher, exactly and perfectly describe the joy of breadbaking. You have to bake a bread and be a witness to that intoxicating aroma in your kitchen to understand the above said. The smell of freshly baked bread can truly lift any spirit.
So you can well understand my plight when I learnt that a new breadbaking group has formed who will be baking 12 amazing breads for 12 months!! Aparna of My diverse kitchen, the mastermind, christened the group "We Knead To Bake'!! (We so badly do!!) I fell in love with the name instantly and requested to get joined in the fun. And I am so pleased to be part of this amazing bread baking group.
Our kickstart bake is this pull apart bread which to me is a very new method. Cutting the dough in squares and stacking them gives a unique pull-apart to this bread. The filling choices are immense. While the original recipe calls for a herb and cheese filling, you may very conveniently change it to your liking. You may even make it a sweet bread with a sweet filling.
My very first thought was to try two sauces, the red and the white, which I love to use in my Lasagna. The layers of bread worked as sheets of lasagna and the entire combination was a treat to remember and surely repeat! The bread was super soft and together with the oozing sauces, it gave an incredible 'Modern Lasagna eating' experience.


For the dough

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 25 gms butter, softened
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup milk, for kneading

For Red sauce:

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 3-4 pods garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 2 medium sized tomato, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp oregano
For White sauce:

  • 1 tbsp yellow butter
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
  • 3-4 tbsp grated cheese(I used processed cheese)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves


Take 1/2 cup warm milk in a small bowl and add sugar and sprinkle yeast. Leave it for 5-10 mins and let it rise.
Take flour, salt and softened butter in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture and knead with milk using little by little. You may require upto 3/4 milk. Knead well for 4-5 mins and shape the dough in a ball. Place it in a well oiled bowl and cover with a damp muslin cloth. Let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours or till it doubles in size.

Red sauce:
Take oil in a pan and add garlic. As it begins to get brown add onions. After a little while add chopped tomatoes. Add tomato puree and let it cook for a while. Add salt, red chilli powder and tomato ketchup. Mix well. Sprinkle oregano and remove from heat to cool.

White sauce:
Take yellow butter in a pan over low heat and add all purpose flour. Cook till it turns brown and then add warm milk(to avoid lumps) When the sauce thickens add salt and black pepper powder. Sprinkle half of the grated cheese(saving half to sprinkle on the dough) and the corinader and remove from flame to cool.

Dust your work surface with little flour and roll the dough into a square 12x12".
Brush the area with some melted butter. Spread the red sauce in one half of the square and white sauce on the other half. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the white sauce and some oregano on the red sauce.
Using a pizza cutter, divide the dough in six long and even strips. Stack them together. I stacked the strips so that the red and white sauce area of dough is alternately arranged. Use the side strips in the middle to get a neat look.
Now cut this stack further in 6 squares with a pizza cutter.
Grease a 9x5" loaf tin and stack these squares in it. Cover with a damp muslin cloth and allow to rise for an hour. 
Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius and bake the bread for 35-40 mins. 

Step wise pics

I am so glad to be able to bake for this month though I joined very late. It was the most satisfying bread baking experience, all thanks to Aparna. So looking forward to the next challenge. 

This bread is being Yeastspotted and sent to Bake fest#15

Happy Pull-apart Bread Baking

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Gevulde Speculaas-Traditional Dutch Pastry for DB

This month the daring baker's were challenged by Francijn, who blogs from koken in de brouweri, with a traditional dutch pastry called Gevulde Speculaas which literally means Stuffed Speculaas. To me it was almost like a stuffed pie. The stuffing is an almond paste and the dough is seasoned with aromatic spices. We were challenged to prepare the spice mix, the almond paste and the dough. Sounds like a tough challenge?? Well, to tell you the truth, it was pretty simple and very satisfying. It is a delicious pastry with a simple almond paste and is something you have never tasted before. The uniqueness is in the array of the spices used, very traditional. For once, I did not change any part of the challenge to chocolate!!! And I am so happy about it. To me the dough was almost like a pie dough, the only difference being the spices used in it. 
The traditional recipe calls for the use of egg in the almond paste for binding. I skipped it and added some curd and fresh breadcrumbs for binding. The recipe also called for an egg wash but I found a simple milk wash working equally good for me. I also reduced the quantity of butter and used as much required for the dough.
So here it is, the traditional taste of Holland. This is the best part of being a Daring baker..being challenged with amazing recipes from different countries. I am so loving it!! Hope you do too.

My mini pie Gevulde Speculaas
Ingredients: I halved the recipe

Speculaas Spice mix:Yields 1 tbsp
  • 3-4 cloves
  • small piece of mace
  • 4-5 white peppercorn
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 4-5 coriander seeds
  • small piece of star anise
  • small piece of nutmeg
  • small piece of dry ginger
  • 2-3 1"pieces of cinnamon/ 1 tsp cinnamon powder 
Dry roast all spices (except cinnamon)in a pan over low heat. Grind them to a powder and sieve them to make it fine.
Dry roast cinnamon and grind (if not using powdered form)
Mix all the spices and keep aside.

Almond paste:
  • 60 gms raw almonds
  • 60 gms sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp curd
  • fresh breadcrumbs(as required)
Boil some water in a pan and put the almonds for a minute. Drain and cool and peel the skin. Dry them well. Dry roast in  a pan over low heat to remove any moisture. Be careful not to burn. 
Grind them in a mixer with  sugar, lemon zest and curd. Mix them well. Add breadcrumbs as required to get a sticky paste. Refrigerate till required.

Speculaas dough:
  • 125 gms all purpose flour
  • 60 gms unsalted butter,cold
  • 75 gms brown sugar(powdered)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp speculaas spice mix
  • Little milk 
Put flour, baking powder, sugar and spice mix in a bowl. Cut butter in dices and add to the flour mixture. Rub butter with the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs in texture. Add some milk to knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover with clingwrap or a plastic cover and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
Grease your chosen pan. I chose my flower shaped pan and a mini pie pan. This quantity will be good for a 9" pie pan.
Divide the dough into two portions.(I made four portions as I used 2 pans) Roll out both on a lightly floured surface till as big as your chosen pan. 
Put one layer in the pan and press lightly. Spread the almond paste with the help of a greased spoon over the layer of dough. 
Cover with the remaining layer of dough. Decorate almonds on top and brush some milk on top.
Bake for 30-35 mins or till the tops are browned well. 
Cool completely and cut in pieces. 
It was a delightful treat to everyone that I served, very different and yummy.

Happy Tasting Holland

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Chocolatey Chewy Goodness called Oreo Brownies

“Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that, as far as chocolate is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain.” 
 Dave Barry

We all love our Chocolate. Don't we? For some it may be their favorite bar, for some their favorite cookie or for some it may be the flavour that they love when it comes to choosing an ice cream or cakes/pastries. I normally belong to the last category but every now and then I do tend to lose my normality!! I am the kind who reads the menu from the back because the desert list is always stacked there. And how much ever I try to pick other flavoured deserts, I fail miserably every single time. I get blackmailed by that brown coloured sinful delight which screams at me to pick it up almost immediately. Imagine your favorite type of chocolate begging at you to get picked up. Can you ever refuse??!! Yes, I belong to that category who can never ever say no to something chocolatey!! So now you may understand my plight when I saw these 'too good to resist' brownies on Saffron Trail.
These are not your everyday kind of Brownies. Every bite is chewy, fudgy and very chocolatey with chunks of Oreo both in the brownies as well as on the crust. The chunks in the batter melt becoming goeey and chewy while the chunks on the top get crisp. Every bite is wicked and loaded with sinful delight. And yes, they are pretty rich, so make sure to share them with your favorite people, how much ever you may be tempted to steal a few and keep aside.
These batch of brownies were made to celebrate our darling daughter's 20 month birthday, which is today. I halved the original recipe and yielded 9 squares which got over in no time. Vaanya loved them the most finishing off a square all by herself. She is my true Choco-lover baby and this recipe turned out one of the best for my Sweet day collection of recipes.

This recipe which is adapted from Lorraine Pascal's Baking made easy calls for whisking the eggs to triple the volume and so thus not require any baking powder. But I added a tsp to avoid my brownie falling flat lest the batter loses any air. You may skip the baking powder or add a tsp like I did to avoid any disaster!! Another change I made was to stick to the original quantity of flour(which is very less). I did not half the quantity of flour as I wanted a certain cakeyness in my brownies but you may do so to your liking.

Ingredients: Yields 9 2x2" squares in a 6x6" square baking tin
  • 80 gms unsalted butter
  • 100 gms (about 1/2 cup) dark chocolate(finely chopped)
  • 2 eggs
  • 9-10 Oreo cookies, cut in quarters
  • 5 tbsp brown sugar/white sugar(powdered)
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius. Line a 6x6" square baking tin with butter/parchment paper.
Melt butter in a pan over medium heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir to combine well.
Take eggs in a bowl and whisk them with an electric mixer till they triple in volume. This should take anywhere between 3-5 mins.
Add the sugar gently from the edge of the bowl to avoid knocking off the air in the eggs. Whisk till incorporated.
Add the chocolate mixture and whisk to incorporate well. (Remember not to mix too much otherwise you will lose all the air in the eggs)
Add flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and fold till combined well. Now add 1/3 of the quartered Oreos.
Pour the batter in the prepared tin. Arrange the leftover quarters of Oreos on top of the batter and bake for 30-35 mins.

Cool and remove from tin. Cut in squares and serve while still warm or warm in the microwave before serving for that ultimate chewy fudgy goeey experience!! Have a bite or have a whole square (or two), you simple cannot resist this Ultimate chocolate experience. One of your best, I bet!

Happy Brownie Eating

Monday, 14 January 2013

Apple Pie (Eggless)

An Apple a day keeps the doctor away!!

Ever wondered why an apple manages to keep the doctor away. What about oranges, banana or for that matter the other fruits...who do they keep away!! 
Well on that humorous note, let us be reminded of the time proven benefits of the wonder and easily available fruit-Apple. Enriched with flavonoids, phenols, phytonutrients and Vit C, it helps prevent heart disease, cancers, tooth decay, neurodegerative diseases, reduces Diabetes and high blood pressure and helps to strengthen our immune system.
Baking Partners theme for this month is Pies. Though we had both sweet and savoury recipes, I chose the traditional Apple pie suggested by Gayathri of Gayathri's Cookspot.  The original recipe calls for the use of eggs but I skipped them to get a eggless crispy Apple pie. 
I have modified the cooking style by pre-baking the pie shell and then adding the cooked apples lined with a lattice arrangement of the remaining pastry and then baking them. 

Ingredients: I have modified the amount of the recipe to get a 6" tart

Pie shell:
  • 1/2 cup+4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 30 gms unsalted butter cubes(cold)
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp milk
  • A little cold water for kneading
  • 2 medium apples 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar (powdered)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder


Pie shell:
Take flour in a bowl, add butter and rub lightly into flour with your fingertips till the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add sugar, milk and cold water (1 tbsp at a time) and knead the mixture to get a smooth dough.
Wrap in a plastic sheet and refrigerate for half an hour.
Take out the dough (reserve some for the topping)and roll it with a rolling pin on a floured surface. Roll it roughly to a circle with 1/8" thickness. 
Gently press the dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the tart tin. Trim excess dough.
Make holes on the sides and bottom with a fork and refrigerate for another half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius. Bake the tarts for 15-20 mins or till they get a light brown colour. Take them out and let them cool.
For a step by step illustration of the above steps please refer here

Peel and core the apples. Chop them in pieces and toss immediately with lemon juice to prevent discolouration.
Place the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. When butter has melted, add the apples and cinnamon powder. 
Stir to coat. 

Place the filling in the prepared pie shell with a slotted spoon to drain the excess liquid. 
Reduce the liquid in a saucepan over medium heat to a thick consistency. Now add this thickened fragrant liquid over the chopped apples.
Roll the reserved dough and cut thin strips. Place them on the pie shell with the filling in a lattice arrangement(crisscross) Trim excess. Refrigerate for half an hour(helps the dough to set and prevents shrinkage)

Lattice arrangement
Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius. Bake the pie or 15-20 mins or till the pastry on top gets a light brown colour.

Enjoy a slice plopped with a dollop of icecream or just like that. You will love the crispness of the pastry with the squishy squashy sweetened and fragrant apples!

Happy Pie Eating

Friday, 11 January 2013

Amla ka khata meetha achaar/Indian Gooseberry Relish

Relish means to savour or enjoy to the full and is also a spicy, sweet or savoury condiment or appetizer.
In the world of cooking a relish is used to enhance a staple. Having originated in India, relish is now a rage everywhere.
One of the gems of Winters various produce is Amla/Indian Gooseberry.
This wonder fruit is enriched with Vitamin C which is said to be 10 times more than orange. Being a rich source of Vitamin C, minerals and polyphenols, it provides resistance to our bodies to fight several diseases and works as a coolant. It is also believed to have anti-ageing and anti-stress properties.
Amla is used in various preparations from chutney, pickles to murabba. My favorite of all is this preparation which gives a tangy, sweet and sour taste. 

  • 150 gm (6-7) Amla/Indian Gooseberry
  • 1 medium size onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sized tomato, chopped
  • 4-5 green chillies, chopped
  • little gur/jaggery(about the size of a lemon)
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp kalaunji/onion seeds
  • 1 tsp saunf/fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp haldi/turmeric powder
  • salt to taste

Put amla's in a pressure cooker with just a splash of water and cook till 1 whistle. Take them out and let them cool. Remove the seeds and chop them. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add kalaunji and saunf. Add chopped onion. As it turns pink, add chopped tomato and green chillies. When the tomato gets mashed, add the chopped amla. Add salt and haldi powder. Add vinegar and jaggery. Mix well and add little water(about 1/4 cup) Cook on medium flame for 5-10 mins or till the mixture becomes thick and the water reduces. Adjust the seasoning to your liking.

Enjoy it with hot chappatis and sabji or with rice and dal or better find your own excuse to enjoy this relish. 

Sending this recipe to Bon Vivant #11-Healthy Apetite

Happy Relishing

Thursday, 3 January 2013

My Choco-chip and Walnut Panettone for the Daring Baker's!! Yes, I am the new member!!

Yes!! I have finally jumped in the Baker's bandwagon. This one being the biggest of all. I had applied to be their member in October and never received a reply till last month. I thought probably they carefully choose their members, not allowing novice bakers like me. But it all turned out a lag due to their updated website. And here I am very late but finally with my first DB challenge!
The most wonderful thing about these challenges are the regional bakes that we get to learn. I do not even know how to pronounce Panettone lest ever heard of them. As I learnt, Panettone is a traditional Italian Christmas bread. It is a type of sweet bread loaf originally from Milan. Though many variations are available, traditionally it contains raisins, candied orange, citron and lemon zest.
This challenge was given by Marcellina who blogs from Marcellina in Cucina. She allowed us to be innovative and change the filling. My immediate thought was to try a choco-chip and walnut filling. What else could you expect from me!! 

Let me admit that this sure was a challenge as I spent literally the entire day in the preparation. The recipe is pretty easy but requires a lot of time. The dough needs to be rested long to gain the famous Panettone height. And it definitely is worth the wait. My bread rose like a dream and attained such an amazing height that I got in trouble while baking as I have a small oven. The baking tray had to be kept in the lowest rack as otherwise my Panettone wouldn't fit in and because of it I burnt my Panettne bottom. I wanted to try them as muffins so I baked just two and they attained a rich beautiful brown hue.

Ingredients: I halved the recipe
  • 1 1/8 tsp Instant yeast
  • 1/6 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
First Dough:
  • 1 1/8 tsp Instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/8 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
Second Dough:
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup choco-chips
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

Mix yeast and water in a small bowl and allow to stand for 10 mins until creamy. Mix in the flour and cover with a plastic wrap or with a damp muslin cloth and allow to double in size for about 30 mins.
First Dough:
Mix yeast and warm water in a  large bowl and allow to stand for 10 mins. Mix in the sponge and beat well with a wooden spoon. Stir in the egg, flour and sugar. Mix in the butter well. Cover with a plastic wrap or a damp muslin cloth and allow to double in size for an hour.
Second Dough:
Into the first dough mix in egg, sugar, honey and vanilla extract with a wooden spoon. Mix in the butter and add the flour. Stir until smooth. The dough will be soft at this stage. Turn it out on a well floured surface and knead till it holds shape. Do not knead in too much flour.
First Rise:
Oil a large bowl and plop in your dough. Cover with a plastic wrap or a damp muslin cloth and let it rise in a warm place till triple in size for about 4 hours.
Filling and Final Rise:
Roll the dough in a rough oval shape and sprinkle half of both the choco-chips and chopped walnuts. Roll up the dough in a log. Press out again in an oval shape and sprinkle the remaining choco-chips and walnuts. Roll up in a log shape again and make it into a ball.
Line your baking tray with butter paper. Cut  6  long strips of butter paper and arrange them in a star shape and staple in the center. Plop the dough in the center and fold all the strips on the dough wrapping it.  Now make a collar out of the butter paper and staple it. Slip it over the dough and attach the strips of paper that covered the dough to the collar with staples. 
To see the step by step illustration please visit Gayathri's space here. She has given some beautiful illustrations for an amazing eggless variation.
Cut an 'x' on the top of the dough and let it rise for another 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius. Cut another 'x' on the top of dough and place a blob of butter.
Place your Panettoni and bake for 10 mins. 
Reduce temperature to 180 degree and bake for another 10 mins.
Reduce the temperature further to 160 degree and bake for 30 mins or till the tops are browned well and a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

This recipe is getting Yeastspotted

Happy Traditional baking


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