Jun 27, 2012

The Birthday Cake



Happy Birthday to the bestest husband in the world!

This is a ‘different’ post – one of celebration and love.

I have borrowed the recipe, from Deeba of PAB. Deeba, thank you so much for helping me attempt a birthday cake on my own! I have tried to do justice to the wonderful recipe. Pictures had to taken furtively as the cake was meant to be a surprise for the hubby. Kids were all excited and ‘tried’ to help with the cake making too.

What did  I make?

Two recipes of Deeba’s Eggless chocolate vanilla cake without the chocolate centre, and one recipe of Eggless chocolate walnut cake. The variations for the vanilla cake were I did not use cherries for the topping, did not use vanilla sugar. I used a mixture of sunflower and olive oil and vanilla essence for flavour. For the chocolate cake, I used a mixture of sunflower and olive oil again, Ghiradelli cocoa powder and did not use walnuts for the topping. As I did not have a 6 inch tin, I used a 9 inch one – the cake did not rise much and flattened out. That was useful in a way – I did not have to torte too much for I was going to layer it. . 

I made the cakes a day ahead, cooled them well in the fridge overnight, and then ‘dressed it up’.For decoration, I used Tropolite with minced cherries in it. I used this whipping to sandwich the chocolate cake between the 2 vanilla cakes. For the icing, I used chocolate ganache, again made a day ahead and stored in the fridge. The whipped cream decoration and the birthday message on top were piped on by my 9 year old daughter, I am very proud of her. The chocolate curls were ‘curled out’ from a block of cooking chocolate using a serrated knife.

I need to improve on torting skills.

There, now that I have given you a complete account of the making, some pictures are in order!





Jun 22, 2012

Chilled Pasta Salad

Summer bring the best and the worst out of all of us. Think thirsty  parched throats, prickly heat,…and again think tall cool glasses of sherbet, lazy vacation days, at least for school going kids, ice cream, swimming, and of course the season’s best – mangoes! Mango is so rightly called the king of fruits. I am yet to meet a person who does not like this ever so fragrant luscious fruit. Also think chilled salads when you are in no mood to cook your self along with food in a sweltering kitchen. To me, a pasta salad seemed just the answer to a hungry family and a not-ready-to-cook mom, that’s me. Teamed with warm grilled garlic bread, this filling salad left us so happy and content last weekend. I urge you too, do recreate this Indian-Italian piece de resistance in your homes this summer.chilled salad beckons
What’s good about this dish?
  • The meal combines grains(pasta and whole wheat bread), dairy protein (from the curd), fruit and veggies too. Hence it is a complete one pot meal.
  • Ripe mangoes and corn add to the vitamin A, B6, C and E levels of the meal, apart from the natural dietary fibre content. 
  • A good Potassium content in mangoes makes it a good fruit for people with hypertension. To make the dish more suitable for a hypertensive person, halve the salt used in the recipe.
  • Fresh curd is rich in probiotics – the helpful bacteria that are needed for normal functioning and maintenance of stomach and intestines. Fresh curd is also rich in vitamins B and C. Even people with lactose intolerance can usually tolerate curd as the ‘lactose’ sugar is converted to ‘lactic acid’.
Do you need more reasons to try out this fuss-free delicious recipe…. sunday lunch
You need
  1. Small elbow or bow tie pasta – 250 gm ( I used  half of a 500 gm pack)
  2. Sweet corn kernels – 1/2 cup, steamed 
  3. Ripe, firm mango (any variety) – finely dice and measure 1 cup.
For the dressingingredients for dressing
  1. Fresh thick curd, and hung for an hour – 2 cups. Measure the cheese after curd is hung.
  2. Onion – very fine minced, 2 tbsp
  3. Sugar – 1/2 tsp
  4. Black/white pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
  5. Salt – 1 heaped tsp
  6. Mustard – 1 tsp ( I used ‘Fun foods’ brand - English Mustard)
  7. Fresh coriander leaves – finely minced, 2 tbsp
  8. Green capsicum (Bell Pepper) – finely minced, 1 tbsp
  9. Fresh cream – 2 tbsp (optional, I did not use any)
To assemble
  1. Boil pasta for 8-9 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Leave to cool in the colander until dressing is ready.
  2. Steam the sweet corn kernels for 2 minutes in the microwave oven.
  3. Peel and dice the mango as finely as possible without squishing it!
  4. Combine all ingredients for dressing in a mixing bowl. Please do not omit any ingredient ( I did not have capsicum and sorely felt it’s absence). Adding cream is your choice though – it helps to give a smooth mouth feel, but does amp up the calories.
  5. Once the dressing is mixed in well, add the cooked pasta, corn, and mangoes and toss well.mix dressing and pasta welladd corn, mango and pasta to dressing
  6. Chill well before serving. I chilled for an hour before garnishing it with more mango slices and served it up, accompanied with warm, cheesy garlic bread.
warm garlic bread and cold salad
  • Can use pineapple when mangoes are not in season.
  • Can use other vegetables such as carrots too.
  • Can use fresh or dried parsley or other fresh herb seasoning. Pudina / mint, however will be too overpowering a flavour.
  • Do not omit any ingredient from the ‘dressing’ list. I did not have green bell pepper (capsicum) at the time of assembling this salad and sorely felt it’s need to perk up the dish!
warm garlic bread and chilled pasta salad

Jun 2, 2012

Sweet Potato Halwa


Sweet potato is a very healthy tuber and can be used in several dishes.I have found dishes made from this wonder tuber in several cuisines across the world. The many health benefits associated with sweet potato made me want to use it at my home too.To my delight, my old neighbour Renuka had a simple recipe using this vegetable.  I learnt this unbelievably simple-to-prepare-yet-very-tasty halwa from her.  After jazzing it up with some fragrant cardamom powder, no one could guess the base of the halwa. Do try it out for it’s ease of preparation and for the whole world of benefits this wonder tuber has to offer.

What’s good about sweet potato?

  • Topping the list of benefits is the high Vitamin A content of sweet potato – 25 times more than that of carrots!
  • One serving  (200gm,= 1 cup) of sweet potato cooked, takes care of a quarter of fibre needed for a day, Staying away from refined, sweet foods and still getting a ‘healthy sweet dessert’ was never so easy and rewarding !
  • Sweet potato is a great source of Vitamins B and C too - Again 10 times more Vitamin B and C available than in carrots.  It scores high on minerals such as Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium and Calcium too. This unique combination makes it worthwhile to include the tuber in diets of teenagers (rapid growth), sports people (essential minerals). Good for people with high blood pressure too since it is naturally low in sodium.
  • The purple-flesh varieties are outstanding sources of anthocyanins, especially peonidins and cyanidins –very powerful natural anti –oxidants. This group of flavonoid compounds also help in maintaining strength of blood vessels and capillaries, reduces inflammation at the tissue levels and inhibits formation of LDL cholesterols.

Interested in including sweet potato in your diet? Read on for a simple recipe…

warm halwa


You needSweet potato

  1. Sweet Potatoes – 750 gms
  2. Jaggery – 300- 400 gms, depending on your sweet tooth
  3. Fresh grated coconut – 100 gms ( desiccated coconut will do just fine too)
  4. Ghee – 1+1/2 tbsp.
  5. Fresh water – 1 cup
  6. Green cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp.

To assemble

Wash, peel and chop sweet potatoes into 1” squares, any even size will work.

chunks of sweet potato

Pressure cook the sweet potatoes with 1 cup water for 2 whistles. I used a pressure handi and pressure cooked, and stirred up the halwa in the same pot.

pressure cooked

Mash the cooked tubers into a coarse mush.

Mushed up glory

Pound the jaggery into small chunks (if you had a huge chunk to begin with). Measure out 300 gms with a kitchen scale or you could use 2 level cupful. Add it to the mushed up sweet potatoes, add 1/2 cup water if the mixture looks very dry, and stir up over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, add the ghee and blend it in too.

Blend in jaggery and ghee

Your halwa should be ready in 10 minutes of stirring over medium heat. Look for a glaze, sheen to the halwa to check it’s done-ness. Mix in the grated coconut, sprinkle green cardamom powder and you are ready to go! Serve warm, garnished with extra grated coconut if you wish.

dressed halwa ready for hungry kids


Plated and presented by - Raja