Mushroom Makhani

How to make Mushroom Makhani | Easy Mushroom Makhani Recipe
It was in brief period of time, sometime in June last year when spring was fading out unhurriedly, giving itself into the summer warmth, and the temperatures were just about steadily poised in their pleasant 60s, that I felt a sudden urge, an unfounded obsession over mushrooms. I had no idea what triggered it. I must have been under the weather, or must be the sight of damp mulch springing off paunchy shoots while the mist shroud in, or may be the birthday party I attended late spring where stuffed baked mushroom caps was all I ate because it was beyond delicious and I could barely take it off my mind for several days after the party. I'd go out for walks and randomly sight odd pairs of mushrooms sprung on peat soil and tree trunks, watch them in awe, and strike a sudden temptation to cuddle my hands around a bowl of warm mushroom soup. Whatever it may have been, in my strong desire to savor them, I toyed the idea of cooking them for all three meals a day, crooning over mushrooms on toast for breakfast, mushroom biryani for lunch and this mushroom makhani for dinner. I had the fortune of sparing my family to bear this marathon brunt of mine as they were summer vacationing back in India, visiting family and friends and enjoying the glorious ripe seasonal mangoes in kilos, while I boggled silly over these fungi. Insane you may have called me, had you sneaked into my lunch box, or my dinner plate that week, that, my meals were inadvertently smeared with mushrooms in their ensemble. You see, I could visualize them in my shopping for groceries - the buttons, shiitakes, oysters, portobellos everywhere. Umbrella caps in supple tones of milk and tans - some pumped up, some stout, others squat, and shaggy, unkempt in their mannerisms, their piggy stems ballooned underneath, their tender skins crust with dirt and mire that needed gentle strokes in water bath to glisten their starkness, leaving their glamorous gills unhurt on the underside of their caps. None the less glorious in all forms.

After marking a day on calendar and striking it off with meals rigged with mushrooms, I was out and about that obsession for a while, staying away from aisles at grocery stores, thinking beyond its capacity. I relieved this obsession, so glad at it; its yearning so deep and willingly conspiring, much like echoing phrases from Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." I conspired it. I achieved it.

Makhani Masala


Much of this recipe I share today is a remake of my recipe for Paneer Makhani, so you make the makhani gravy ahead of time and prepare the actual curry just before serving. The makhani gravy is sinfully delicious on it own, but when you throw in mushrooms, they take on a new level of deliciousness. The meaty texture of mushrooms complement the creamy gravy, giving it depth of flavors. This rich dish is fit for parties and celebratory occasions, but if you want to give yourself a break from mundane home cooking and serve up some exoticism on weekends for your family, then this be it.

Mushroom Makhani


Mushroom Makhani

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of prepared Makhani Masala (refer here)
200 grams button mushrooms
1/4 cup cream (adjust to your taste)
1/2 tsp. of kasuri methi or dried fenugreek leaves
Fresh coriander, cream for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the Makhani masala as in recipe mentioned here. It should yield approximately about a cup of thick gravy.

In case you are using refrigerated or frozen gravy, remove from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Add 1/2 cup water and bring it to a simmer.

If you have prepared the gravy masala fresh, then to the simmering gravy, add 1/2 cup of water and diced mushrooms and bring it to a boil. Stir and cook covered for 10 minutes. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the cream and simmer for 2 minutes. Transfer the Mushroom Makhani to a serving bowl and garnish with more fresh cream, ginger juliannes and coriander leaves. Serve hot with rotis, naans or kulchas.

Mushroom Makhani

Carrot Soup

How to make Easy Carrot Saaru, Easy Carrot Soup
All through the fall, I stocked pumpkins at home in sheer keenness to make a good pumpkin soup that I could share with you all. I was amused, delighted beyond words to watch pumpkins everywhere, on market stands and home fronts, in malls and on window sills, on blog feeds and in ad mailers. Our favorite grocery stores smelled warm from pumpkin spices and its produce. Our office had spice infused fresheners in the lobby to welcome guests. The coffee was not spared either, flavored with pumpkin spice in it too! Tell me, who wouldn't be lured? So each time we stepped out grocery shopping, along came a pumpkin or its sibling in form a squash, that made its way into our shopping cart, judiciously sized to suit two meals for us as a family.

On a seasonal high note, I did make soups and stews, and plenty at that, laboriously skinning the peels, slicing and dicing them, and boiling them to pulp over pot of stock. I choose not to bake, rather simmer over a pot on stove, as that's a task I like to leave for days far less busier than weekdays, when I don't have the time to worry about our over-sensitive fire alarm screeching off at the slightest variation of warm air emanating from the oven. That's another story to say. The soups though did turn out creamy, and deliciously vegan, not necessarily warranting any fat or cream in regard to heighten the flavors or their sumptuousness. But they got gulped down faster than I expected, hot and steaming, ladles after ladles, cold fingers wrapped around the warm bowl for comfort, either dunked by toasted garlic bread or tossed along with piping hot rice, savored snugly in our warm dining area while the leaves were busy shedding under the seasonal transition.

Carrot Saaru


It happened so, that each time I planned a soup, I was swooned by the dire beauty of the squash and pumpkins, that I shot several preps of them much ahead of sunset in the noon. By the time the squash was sliced and diced, cooked, pureed and boiled to perfection, finally seasoned to be served, it was time sun called his day and the darkness overcast the late noons in its thick black bile. I finally gave up on presenting my super-creamy-vegan-butternut-squash-soup here, instead, the year end holiday baking mania took over the house bringing more cheer to otherwise gloomy noons.

We've step foot into the new year, and I've welcomed it with my arms wide open. I have no resolutions that pound my mind hard, so there's none really to make. But I realize this blog is devoid of soups and I want to fill that space. I need to make a beginning, and here's one that fills the bill so well. Apt in time, a recipe for a good Indian soup in the beginning of a new year. It can't get better than this.

I pray this year croons high hopes, brings truck loads of good luck, fab health and immense happiness, and heaps of enthusiasm to live the year ahead positively. I should have been rolling in trays of sweets or brought a dessert along here, commemorating the new year and reminiscing 'oh whatta year 2016 was for me!', because it was gratifying in good sense, and worthily etched into our memory with a fair balance of highs and lows, but instead, I have come along with bowls of warm and comforting homemade carrot soup that clamors itself so South Indian. This is what makes me the happiest - simplicity in a bowl. It defines what I would love my year to look like - simple, clean, uncluttered and subtle in my living and approach.

Carrot Rasam


Carrot Saaru | Carrot Rasam | Indian Carrot Soup

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cooking Time: 15 mins | Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 carrots, chopped
2 cups water
1 tbsp. tamarind paste
1 tsp. sambhar powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste

For Tempering:

2 tsp. oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. asafoetida powder
1 sprig of curry leaf
1-2 whole red chillies torn

DIRECTIONS

Boil the chopped carrots along with 2 cups of water and turmeric powder until they are fork tender. I pressure cook them on 2 whistles as its quicker to do so. You can pan boil it if you do not have a pressure cooker. Once done, allow it to cool and blend it to a puree in a mixer.

Transfer the carrot puree into a thick bottom pan. Stir in the tamarind paste, salt and sambhar powder. Add additional water to adjust the consistency of the saaru / soup. I like to have this saaru slightly thicker than our traditional rasams as it brings out the texture and flavor of carrots well. Bring the saaru to a rolling boil and then simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the flame and set aside to temper.

To temper, heat oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds and allow it to splutter. Add the asafoetida powder, torn red chillies and curry leaves and fry briefly for few seconds. Turn off the flame and add this to the prepared saaru. Serve hot with steamed rice or drink them steaming hot right out of soup bowls.

Carrot Soup


Christmas Fruit Cake

How to make Christmas Fruit Cake | Easy Christmas Fruit Cake Recipe
There's something extremely gratifying about making your own cake and gifting your loved ones with yours. Usually, its days ahead of Christmas that I begin with the process of soaking fruits in booze and later bake them into a fruit cake that sits for a couple of days before being brought out to share. Each year, we have our family, parents, sister, brother-in-law and few close friends to whom the cake goes out to. Beyond celebrations, we seek joy in togetherness, sharing and the art of giving.

My dear friend Lubna is hosting a virtual Christmas party at Yummy Food this year. Ever since her invite, I was left to ponder what I could take along to the potluck, that, it should not only be apt for this celebration, but can also be enjoyed by the young and old without reservations. I scuffled through many options I had on mind - cookies, breads, gateau cakes, or petite fours? None gripped my mind stronger than one. Soon it was sorted. My heart was set on this Fruit cake, and nothing seemed more gratifying than sinking my teeth into a good Christmas Fruit Cake that's speckled with fruits and nuts, bursting with flavor from spices, and left plain without frosting. Simple, yet rich, its gloriously satisfying even with a small piece. Its a tradition to solemnly indulge in Kuswar, (the assortments served during Christmas) for someone like me who grew up in Mangalore. I'm away from home, oceans away from my family whom I miss dearly, so this fruit cake had to be it. Its a thing I delve into every single year, because, it brings back many fuzzy memories of home, family and friends in Mangalore.

I've made many fruit cakes in the past, like this, this and this, each with subtle variation in the recipe and fruits used, all decadent and boozy in nature. I was armed with a kitchen scale, measuring out by grams to the tee, in my initial years, but now a measuring cup does the job well as I can tell well if the cake will bake to perfection or not by the look of its batter. A good Fruit Cake holds a special space in my heart, it doesn't matter if the fruits are soaked over months or made in an instant like the one I have at Yummy Food's party today. Its a simple cake, but packed with flavors from spices and fruits that makes it so luxurious and indulgent. I stick by using a non-alcoholic mulled fruit drink in my recipe, so you don't have to worry if you have a young kid to cater to, but feel free to substitute with a booze or fruit juice of your choice.

So join me over on Yummy Food as we celebrate this season of reflection and celebration. We'll soon leap into the new year that brings along more hopes, positivity and strength. Come let’s bake this cake to celebrate the last leg of 2016 and welcome 2017 with arms wide open. Before you hop over, here's me wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christmas Fruit Cake Plated

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

How to make Cinnamon Rolls with Cooked Frosting | Easy Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
With Christmas around the corner and less than 4 days to go before you can sing Hallelujah, the Lord has come, I thought I'll peep in to help you with a lovely classic breakfast for your family to wake up to this Christmas morning. Its typically Western, hearty and sweet to call your morning off to a good start, supple enough that you may want to lay your head on it and snooze again, gives you the comfort of your bestie's company, and is the festive sorts that you can set up on table for your guests to dessert on.

Rising Bread DoughCinnamon Rolls (1)


For the longest time, I've had aversion to cinnamon in all things sweet. Let me not even get to the whys of it, for all I know, cinnamon in my arena existed best in the legion of savories, given the exception for a good Christmas fruit cake where it favorably unites with clove, cardamom and other spices, veiled in a way that it does not hit your senses directly and ruin the flavor. But, here it comes finally, the world coveted Cinnamon rolls looming right out of my kitchen to yours. I’m close to being a convert, convincingly not a cinnamon-dessert-hater anymore. These don’t look a lot like the traditional rolls. I mean they are not enormous in size to consume your palm, certainly not the perfect looking rolls that stand flawlessly edged shoulder to shoulder giving them a clean rip, nor do they bask in the sugary coated frosting that sinks into every groove merrily.

I would probably rechristen these as cinnamon pull apart rolls; owing to the pans I had and the amount of dough I made, they ended up this way. But they are cinnamon rolls essentially, so I choose to call so. They don’t snatch away the authenticity to the traditional ones. They smell great in and out of the oven, are near identical in their recipe, forgiving the eggs in the dough. They sat squishing in an eight inch round baking pan, my ideal dish to bake a nice chocolate cake in, but this time around they doubled up as my bread pan too, saving me gracefully from sunken cockeyed bread had I baked them in my ten inch dish instead. They nudged for space as they puffed up on their second sitting, and, by the time they were out they looked glorious in their golden crevices and sugar burnt hunches, flattering into characteristic pull apart rolls that need to be forked by the thumb and forefinger to tear them apart from their siblings. There’s a fun thing to it, to tear it apart in submission in an imperfect way and dunk it in milk over giggles and laughters with our little girl while tapping our feet to the melodies of Christmas jingles. That’s when you know you are up for a good start to a holiday season.

Cinnamon Rolls (2)


The frosting is purely optional. As for a daily bread, I would stay away from frosting these. They are sweet on their own and make a wonderfully perfect Sunday breakfast with a slather of some salted butter, or cream cheese and coffee by the side. But we are in a holiday season, and that calls for some adornment on the table to give it a festive ring. I have a clean, less sweeter old fashioned cooked vanilla frosting recipe that works really well for me. Since the bread is sweet by nature, a lighter frosting like this one is pleasing to our tastes. Unlike the traditional frosting where you mix milk to confectioners’ sugar till you get a desired consistency, this one is far better version that gives me a similar thick pour-able consistency, albeit far less sweeter than the original version. Give it a try, may be you'll fall for these too.

Cinnamon Rolls Plated


Cinnamon Rolls with Cooked Vanilla Frosting

INGREDIENTS

For Cinnamon Rolls:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup milk (I used full fat milk)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp. active dry yeast (or rapid rise)

For the Cinnamon Sugar Filling:

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon powder
2 tbsp. melted butter

For the Cooked Vanilla Frosting:

1 cup full fat milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS

Heat the milk and butter in a large sauce pan till the butter has melted into the milk. Remove from heat and add in the sugar. Stir well and allow it cool down to lukewarm. The milk should be tepid enough to activate the yeast, but not too hot, else will kill the yeast.

Transfer the warm milk to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast into it. Let it sit for 10 minutes, so that the yeast can feed on the sugar and froth.

Next, add flour starting with 1/2 cup at a time and stirring well as you go. Once it forms a loose batter, add the next half cup of flour and stir well. This will help activate the gluten in the dough and yield soft supple dough, resulting in a good, fluffy bread. Continue using all of the flour and stir well with each addition till it comes together to form a sticky dough. Knead it for a minute or two till its soft and supple.

Place the dough in an oiled deep dish and cover it with a dish cloth. Let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours. By this time the dough should double in size.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. I use the clean kitchen counter top that provides me ample space to work my dough on. Using a flour dusted rolling pin, roll the dough into a thin long rectangle. Brush it generously with melted butter. Prepare a mix of sugar and cinnamon powder and sprinkle it generously all over the dough.

Starting at the longer edge side, roll up the dough as tight as you can till forms a long log. To avoid opening up, place the seam side down. Using a cleaned knife dipped in flour, cut the log into slices of 1.5 inch each. Butter a 8x8-inch round baking tin. Place the rolls into the buttered tin, next to each other. Brush the rolls with some melted butter. Set aside to rise again for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes or until the bread is golden brown in color. If the top of the bread seems to change color sooner, while the underside still seems uncooked, cover the top with an aluminium foil and continue to bake till done.

Remove from oven and allow it to cool completely. Frost as desired.

For the frosting, combine milk and flour in a saucepan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, for about 3-5 minutes. The mixture should thicken and come to a boil. Add in sugar and stir well. Boil till the mixture coats the back of a wooden spatula, i.e. of custard consistency. Turn off the heat. Stir in vanilla essence. Cool completely. Before serving, whisk the frosting really well and swirl using a spoon on the cinnamon rolls.

Eggless Cinnamon Buns

Banana Oatmeal Cookies Snack

How to make Healthy 3 Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Cookies Recipe
The calendar on the bottom of my screen reminds me each day how fast we are getting close to the end of December. That means, we are just 2 weeks away from waving goodbye to this year (stop twitching your eyes, will you!) and, we are only 7 nights away from Christmas! 7 nights, that's just about a week. Yes, yes, just about a week I said! Sooner we bat our eyelids, that will be snapped away too. Now hope you are not smirking at me or raising your eyebrows in an oddly muddled way! If you did, then I assume you have sprung up on your toes and are heading right to your desk to grab that paper and pen to sort your Christmas shindig. So by this time around next week, I imagine the table will be laid out, and cutleries matched up, stockings set up high on the window sill where the fairy lights are twinkling in a chord, rushing through last minute gift wrapping and cookie plating, and in the reclusive spot of your home there may be a party planned with folks boisterously chiming in Merry Christmas while sipping away some eggnog.

I don't mean to scare you by any means. While we are nearly there in the last lap of the year with another 15 days to go, we are still left with the best few days of 2016 to live with. I wanted to knock your door and remind you on that. By that I mean, I wouldn't want you to burn out and hyperventilate planning the whole carte du jour for the D-day celebrations, rather take it slow and easy, plan with a breather, living the last few days of this year insanely happy, making it a memorable one.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies Ingredients 1

Banana Oatmeal Cookies Ingredients 2

Banana Oatmeal Cookies Prepped


We got the taste of our real winter snowfall yesterday that lasted a couple of hours. By end of the day, all the white snow flaked icing was one into a slushy mess. Predictions are it will continue to snow over the week, slipping into weekend. This morning we woke up to see our world swallowed by mesmerizing white everywhere. I dumped myself in layers and layers of warmers, mufflers and whatnot, yet, chill air was strong enough to render my eyes watery, feet numbed and nose tips frosted. By the time I was home, my coconut massaged hair had frozen to thick dreadlocks and my toes had lost their sense of belonging. Today was the coldest winter I've ever witnessed in my life, and this is just the beginning, an experience worth a memory, a teaser to what lies in the months ahead. Now I'm seriously thinking of a balaclava, no matter how comical I may seem.

In the run to year end celebration, I've turned on my oven to warm up our home and bake some delectable goodies. Between churning out my favorite fruit cakes that will go out to friends and colleagues, I have some healthy cookies baking on the side, that serve as an instant solace to curb the cravings of my little girl and me. While the air is heated and scents of fruits and spices waft through the kitchen, these cookies are made instantly with left over bananas, some oatmeal and chocolate chips, just 3 ingredients put together into a loose dough and baked to form soft cake like cookies. They are an instant ramification of salvaging some near dying overripe bananas that are honey sweet and boost of potassium in abundance. They are healthy, have no fat, can be customized to your will by replacing chocolate chips with nuts and raisins of choice, are gluten free, dairy-free, can be easily passed on for breakfast or on-the-go snack at odd hour with no guilt. Now that's what you need on your hand while you are raking your brain sketching out the Christmas menu. Go ahead and bake these along too.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies Served Healthy Banana Oatmeal Cookies 1

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Healthy Banana Oatmeal Cookies 2


Healthy 3 Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Prep Time: 5 mins | Bake Time: 12 mins | Yields: 9 medium sized cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 large overripe banana
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats*
1/4 cup chocolate chips*
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mash the bananas in a medium bowl. Add the oats, vanilla extract and chocolate chips. Stir in well to form a loose dough.

Using an oiled spoon, drop a tablespoonful of the cookie dough to a baking tray. Flatten them down gently into a disc shape if desired.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Serve with tea or coffee or take as an on-the-go snack.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies (2)


Notes:

* Use gluten-free oats for gluten-free option
* Use vegan chocolate chips for vegan option
* Replace the chocolate chips with raisins or nuts like almonds or walnuts for a nut based option
* Vanilla extract is optional but highly recommended for more flavor. You can do without it however.

Cranberry Tokku

How to make Cranberry Tokku, Easy Cranberry Pickle, Cranberry Relish
I started blogging in a time when the internet world had taken to blogs burgeoning everywhere like little mushrooms enticed by rains. There was an unfaltering gush of novel, unexplored cuisines, recipes, ingredients and more, all brimming on various sites with their evocative photographs and stories, each compelling and competing by themselves to make a mark on the space. I'd viciously eye those berries and stone fruits that would pop up randomly every now and then, in seasons and festivities, their crimson reds, navy blues and sunlit ambers marrying blissfully into butter, sugar and flour to settle into marvelous looking desserts - desserts that could trigger hunger at odd hours of the day and post hefty meals; leaving me much in envy of being unable to get my hands on them back in time, while the world around was rejoiced in celebration with such food.

That being said, what did not make much of an appearance on the web space were fresh, glossy, scarlet red cranberries. There were several recipes out there that had them in scones, breads and cakes, mostly used in dried form, the kind of ones that are drowned in sugar and shriveled to douse the tart flavor. For a while, now that these are easily accessible in India, I too made my convenience with using the dried varieties in our favorite mincemeat recipe that sat bathing, cramped up with other dry fruits and weighed down by nuts in a heady spiced rum concoction for months before being brought out to be baked into Christmas Fruit Cake.


Let me admit. I had never seen fresh cranberries in the past till I came to the US. With dried cranberries available on ease, it was what it was known to me. For several years till lately, I was tricked into assuming that cranberries were akin to karonda, or karvanda (as known in Kannada), the tart-sweet Indian berries commonly used erstwhile in Indian pickles. I was excited about cranberries being karvanda, for two reasons.

One, I had never seen a karvanda bush, nor tasted its fruit in ripe, however I grew up hearing my dad often commend his love for these extinct pickling fruits, reminiscing how he missed watching his mother and grandmother collect the tart green berries off the bushes that grew in their backyard while the summer set in, of how they let them mature in brine for weeks, hand pounded the fresh spices and amalgamated them for months in sun to be pickled. Those were his memories, far and few, raved and deemed. For me, in rare times that I met a marinated young karvanda berry eye to eye, it was always camouflaged, heavily absorbed in red spices, and tart from being infused with bite sized mangoes pieces, served as delicious pickles alongside other dishes in odd occasions of weddings or family gatherings. Hardly an acquaintance to delineate something about.

Yet, those who grew up in the North of India may spin you tales of their childhood spent twiddling around the karonda (as they call it) bushes in the backyard of their aunt's, grandma's or friend's home, plucking them and popping it to their mouths with puckered face; karonda being more popular in the North of India than in the South where I grew up.


For second, Karavanda wasn't popular in generation of our times by any means; at least, it wasn't regarded high as the imported peers were. No one told us how good they were, no magazines or food channels professed it high, nor did our Sunday markets run its produce, probably because a lot of our Indian population was either disinterested to honor it or the ones like me, had hardly known it by trait. For a long time I did not know what it was called in English, or if it did exist in the lexicons of English circles. On the other hand, we had newspapers and magazines that constantly spoke of how fab cranberries were in beating the beast out of cancers and UTIs, tipping off cranberries to be our very Indian karavanda, and how our long forgotten fruit had captured attention in the West and that it may be touted as a superfood, pronto. Internet added to that fad with burst of knowledge.

My assumptions may have been misleading me, but thankfully I know today that karonda is karonda and cranberry is cranberry. Both live in separate worlds, with different identities, in their own identities that can't be swapped. It took me a trip to Nantucket in summer to realize this. That's where I saw the process of cranberries being grown and harvested, much unlike the trees that my grandmother harvested from, but bog flooded and cragged from vines. You bet, I did come back home with a bag full of organic cranberries!


That brings me to this interesting recipe I have to share with you today. A mod-western ingredient with a traditional twist. The east meets west kinds. An old wine in a new bottle. This cranberry chutney, a dip, or more traditionally a thokku. Its very Indian at heart, its spices and the flavor - piquant, tart and delicious in a tiny blob on the side to any dish. You drag a lump of it with your fingers and mix along with steaming hot rice or simply scoop a small portion with your roti or dosa and relish it. Its makes a kicking dip to tortilla chips or even khakras, and that's exactly how I've zinged up over the past couple of evenings alongside my tea.

Cranberry Tokku

INGREDIENTS

2 cups fresh cranberries
5 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. red chilli powder
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds powder
1 tsp. asafoetida (hing)
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat vegetable oil in a kadai/ wok. Add mustard seeds and fry till it begins to splutter.

Next add the red chilli powder, fenugreek powder and the asafoetida into the oil and fry for 5 seconds. Do not allow spices to burn.

Add the torn curry leaves and fry for few seconds till they turn crisp.

Reduce the flame and add the fresh cranberries. Stir them in to coat all the spices. Cook till they pop and begin to reduce in volume. Using the back of spatula, gently mash them. Add in salt to taste and stir continuously until the cranberries soften, reduce in volume, and begin to lump, and the oil begins to separate.

Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Store in air tight ceramic or glass containers.

Notes:

* You can add a tablespoon of jaggery to balance the tart incase you do not like the sour taste of the thokku.
* Fenugreek powder is bitter on its own, however when fried in oil it imparts a lovely flavor to the dish. It's the heart of this thokku and hence do not skip this ingredient.
* If you plan to store this over the counter for couple of days, its important you do not skip the amount of oil suggested. However, incase you plan to make a smaller quantity that will be consumed in a day or two, you can reduce the oil content. Oil helps in longer shelf life of any pickle.
* If you don't like heat, reduce the amount of chilli powder. We love our pickles spicy, so you may find the red chilli powder on slightly higher side. The heat of the chillies is also dependent on the kind of chilli powder you use. Hence use it judiciously.

How to make Healthy Raw Brownies | Easy Raw Brownie Recipe
Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough. - Oprah Winfrey

Its Thanksgiving tomorrow and under five weeks, we'll be well into Christmas, my favorite time of the year when all else goes still and only food and festivities shall prevail. I am excited and am so looking forward to it. As for now, there isn't a grand event of celebration lined up for tomorrow, but, we'll take joy in the holiday to follow, time for togetherness and bonding over relaxed morning, lazying noon and a slow evening. Hurray to no work, no deadlines, no meetings for a day. We'll wake up late in the bed, follow a laid back routine and lavish a little on a good homemade breakfast. The day calls for my time in kitchen, where get to I play with pots and pans, may be tossing up some flour, butter and sugary goodness into a ton of fruits to come up with something worthy for Christmas. A cake is in store, a Christmas fruit cake that I can hopefully talk about in posts to come. We'll have our family at the table, the three of us, savoring lunch in an austere way, which in itself is a small celebration to do on a weekday - bringing in tit-bits of our weekend-ness, in a little modish way.


Meanwhile, I have these super healthy brownie treats for you to feature on your Thanksgiving table. I made them this summer, though they don't pertain to any seasons. They are treats you can make year round. No seasons attached. You can make them for your Thanksgiving dessert menu or keep them handy to treat your guests over a cup of coffee or just carry them on your hiking trip to give you adrenaline boost. There's no sugar in them, no butter whatsoever, no flour, no guilt too. And no no! I am not on diet if you ask so. But I thought I should be a little considerate and save you from splurging way too much before the year end celebrations kick in. There's a lot awaiting there, Christmas on its way, New Year dinner to follow, so you may want to treat yourself slowly and sanely before getting there. These little treats don't steal away the joy of splurging, mind you. They are delicious as is in small bites or you can make them in a wonderful no-bake pie base with fancy toppings. Hope these make your Thanksgiving table a little more glamorous.


Raw Brownies

Prep Time: 5 mins | Pulse Time: 10 mins + 2 hrs refrigeration | Yield: 12 pieces

INGREDIENTS

2 cups of medjool dates
1/2 cup of roasted almonds
1/2 cup of raw walnuts
3 tablespoons of raw cacao powder
2 tablespoons of maple syrup

DIRECTIONS

Blend the almonds and walnuts in a food processor until they form a crumbly mixture. Then add the dates and blend again till dates are pureed. Next add the cacao and maple syrup and blend again. The mixture will come together in form of a dough. If its wet to handle, add in some walnuts and pulse again.

Place the mixture into a baking tray. Refrigerate for two hours or freeze for one hour so that it sets well. Cut into slices and serve. Store in an air tight container and keep them refridgerated for freshness.




Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies | Easy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
In our direct sight, right outside our balcony are two young, strong maple trees that stand next to each other in a row. They are probably the last of few trees in our region to hold on to their deepest summer greens, while across the street, the one that we take to drop our daughter at the school bus stop, the towering maples have turned into fiery red, fancy yellows, even burnt browns, scattering themselves on sidewalks and spilling over streets in favor of the autumn's climax that we saw a week ago. The leaves trodden path smell of gentle rot, casting that sweet autumn perfume in air, as many wear their bare-dare look and poke their woody nibs high into the murky skies.

By the time the first streak of sun rays hit our home, we are wide awake, our hair strewn, usually done with brushing and sipping a cup of hot ginger tea for the two. We are at a point when we begin nudging our daughter out of her sleep. That takes us a two-man effort to canoodle, our attempts to wake her up over several minutes - the husband and I, at times her dear grandma adds in too, to pull her off the bed and tow her to the bathroom to start her day with. By this moment there's enough light curtailing the darkness of dawn, and the two maple trees outside our home are well in our sight. We watch it every morning in exhilaration for its transformation, awaiting patiently as it takes its turn to move from greens to yellows, and then to browns. For all the autumn we have seen this season, these two are holding on to their cavernous greens. Did I not say they were strong?

Yesterday, this Saturday morning, voila! The magic unfolded. Leaves changed hues, turning themselves to beautiful golds and bronzes, some earthy greens and blazing reds splashed in random - autumn's treat to us. The curtains stayed open all day long, the doors left ajar despite the chill air, providing us with a better sight and coverage to the trees overall, as we stepped out excitedly to snap a few moments to be treasured. For the next couple of days, the magic shall prevail till they turn matte coppers, sway feebly into air, and pile up in heaps of burgundies and russets on the ground below, before the snow flakes engulf them in uniform of black and white.

IMG_3129 IMG_3130 IMG_3138 IMG_3136 IMG_3129 IMG_3130


With fall around, there's an awesomeness in air that makes home baking more gratifying. With the year end coming closer, and the holiday spirit in air, desserts will make their prominence on family lunches and dinner gatherings. Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies are just the perfect things you could bake this season. They'll add more charm to your coffee trays that will roll in as guests visit you. If not, consider them gifting to your loved ones and bring joy to their celebrations.

The recipe is adapted from All Recipes. In my quest to find a good recipe for eggless version of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, I researched a bit and tried a couple of recipes with varying results. I highly suggest this recipe, albeit minor modifications. I advice you do not cut down on the fat content in this recipe, and balance the brown and white sugars to the below said, that is, if you care for crisp cookies. The cookies do spread a bit, so place them well. We are a family that loves crisp cookies, very Indian in that aspect, so I like to flatten these cookies with a fork before baking. The recipe here will make you a batch of about 16-18 medium sized cookies depending on how much you fill your tablespoon with. If you wish to bring fall to your cookies, add a nice helping of sweet cinnamon and heady nutmeg powder to this recipe. So pull your pans out, warm up your oven and let's bake a batch of these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep: 10 mins | Cook: 12 min | Makes: 16-18 cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 cup salted butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup boiling water
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate chips)

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line the cookie tray with baking / parchment paper and set aside.

Bring the butter to room temperature, and beat it with brown sugar and white sugar till its light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract and all-purpose flour to this and mix.

Next in a separate bowl, dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in boiling water. Add this to the above mixture and stir gently.

Stir in the rolled oats and raisins and mix them in. Drop by tablespoonful into a tray lined by baking / parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 10-12 minutes. Don't over bake.

Remove from baking tray and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack. Store them in a air-tight container.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Kodubale

How to make Kodubale | Easy Kodubale Recipe
It's eve of Diwali today, that time of the year I look forward to the most with great yearning and excitement. Its around this time I hit my best stride. I'm the happiest, consumed by thoughts only positive, blurring out all negativity and pessimism, guzzled with happiness, reflection, joy and celebration, irrespective of how high or low the year may have been. I hope yours was a fantastic one and continues to be so in the year ahead. I wish you a wonderful Diwali, and a year filled with good luck, health and prosperity. Wish you all a Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year!

Kodubale_02


Right now as I write this, I sit on my dining table overlooking our balcony lit with tiny serial bulbs, running end to end, hung over the balcony parapet like wet jeans on cloth liners, its warm LEDs creating a bokeh effect on the hindsight in a very soothing way. Our little girl has been running around the home in sheer excitement of the festive hoopla. I miss the sounds of zameen chakras, rockets and phooljhadi (flower-pots) bursting in the vicinity, that reminds me of home back in India; but in a few minutes from now we'll head out to the local temple about 5 miles from home, where sounds of bursting crackers and rings of temple bells will chime alongside families wishing each other Happy Diwali. There's community get together - with prayer, celebrations, food and musicals to round off the night. Also, with parents around, our home is smelling of kodubales and shankarpalis and that's nothing short of what Diwali has been for us - food and celebration, both in plenty.

Before I head out, I'll leave you with this recipe for Kodubale, a traditional Indian savory snack that we grew up eating way too often, that there came a point when I hated it by heart. After I moved to Bangalore, I did not eat them for years. And then slowly, there came a time when I went back to eating them on my occasional trips to Mangalore, where they are made in plenty. It wasn't with much fervor though, but I know why so. Kodubales are made plenty in Mangalore - every bakery stocks them, every house stocks them, they are gifted too. They stay fresh for long, so most homes will serve you with a plate of these alongside tea. Women in most households have a recipe of their own, so they either whip up batches and stock by larders or they rush out to the nearest bakery to buy them the moment they hear a guest is about to arrive. My relatives even brought them along to gift whenever they visited us. Eventually it was overdosed and I saw aversion to it.

Of what I remember, these require no occasion to treat upon really. You make them on whim, serve your guests, feast them on festivals, snack on them in evenings with your tea, or simply carry them on your bus rides to munch on when odd hunger pangs strike. They are fried ofcourse, but they won't do much harm as a lot of the rice flour in the recipe is immune to absorbing oil. So you'll have a delicious savory that you can eat guilt free. I highly advise not experimenting these with baking, as they can obviously end disastrous. But if you have courageous nerves that I don't have, and you are successful at baking these, please share your tips with me. I will be overwhelmed to hear from you. On another note, you can control the amount of heat to your liking. I love these spicy, but if you like them low on spice, use a milder chilli powder for the heat. They are delicious I bet!

Kodubale_03


Kodubale

Prep: 30 mins | Cook: 20 min | Makes: 3 dozens

INGREDIENTS

Dry Ingredients:

2 cup rice flour
3/4 cup roasted split bengal gram (huri kadale)
1/2 cup desiccated dry coconut (powdered copra)
1/4 cup maida / plain flour
1 sprig finely chopped curry leaves
1 tsp. red chilli powder (I use a spicier one, such as Guntur chilli powder)
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. good quality asafeotida
Salt to taste

Other Ingredients:

2 tbsp. hot ghee
Oil for deep frying

DIRECTIONS

In a mixie, pulse the roasted gram into fine powder and keep it aside. Mix all ingredients mentioned under dry ingredients list along with roasted gram flour and make a well in the center. Add hot ghee and mix into the flour. Add just enough water to knead it into a firm dough.

Pinch out lemon sized balls of the dough and roll them using your palms into a long, 1 cm thick rope. Cut the rope into 7-8 cms long strips. Bring the 2 ends of the strip together and pinch its ends to form a tear drop shape. Alternatively, you can bring the either ends together and pinch them to seal, thus forming a round bangle shaped ring. Prep all of the dough and keep it ready for frying.

Meanwhile, as you prep the dough, heat up oil in a kadhai / wok to medium low heat. Test by dropping a small ball of dough. It should sink first and raise up to the surface. Once heated to this stage, drop the prepared kodubales into the hot oil and fry them in batches on medium low heat till they are golden brown in color. Do not clutter many in each batch as they need to be cooked through well. The temperature of the oil is key in making good kodubales as hotter oil will tend to crisp the kodubales faster, while the centers may still be uncooked. Remove from oil and drain on a kitchen paper. Allow them to cool completely and store them in dry airtight containers. They can be stored and stay fresh for about 2 weeks.

Kodubale_04

Classic Buttermilk Waffles


So it came finally. The tail-end of September wagging its way out and giving way to the rolling acorns and lazying dawns of October. I feel giddy and selfish at the moment, with all that summer, and its bounty warmth we are parting away. I'm unwilling to let go of the September coziness, its weather so impeccable, yet, October is right around the corner knocking to besiege. For our little girl, it holds promises of play-a game of picking the fallen acorns and bringing them home each evening to fill her jar of what she calls her little craft goodies. She counts by numbers and makes sure no one gets to mess around with them. The sun is up late these day, like us on Sundays, stretching out at ease and retiring to bed sooner than should.

Classic Buttermilk Waffles


October, my herald, you are finally here! Riding along with Autumn, bringing all things nice and beautiful in its direction. So have I heard, from D and my colleagues, books and magazines. You are D's love more than mine. He lauds you with a twinkle in his eye, like a teenager dizzy in infatuation. You are his season, his reason for admiration. I've been waiting for you eerily, the hallelujah he's been all about. D is a huge fan of you; he's a sucker for colors, the leaf peeper, our foliage tracker, the nature lover, a sincere admirer. "You MUST watch fall colors, there's nothing like it", he'd say all the while. I'd reel in excitement, like in glee of a kindergartner counting on her Christmas gift. With several videos and photographs of autumn spreading its golden hues that D had been aptly sharing with me on watsapp over the past 2 years, I wondered if this was so surreal in pictures, what the heck would it look like in real. I had seen the spring and the summer landscape of New England, narrowly gotten glimpse of winters, their snow capped rooftops and bare tress too. Of what was remaining to witness was this season sandwiched between summers and winters -the autumn, or the fall as they call - the transition - getting into the skin of winters.

So you are here, out of your closet after months of solemnly hiding; playing with my sunshine, my daily dose of Vitamin D. You frisk us with your bouts of chill, make us miss our morning alarms, after all its still gloomy outside, sky blemished with neutral hues of blacks and whites dangling high, it has us snuggling longer with curled toes in our beds. You make people on walks wear boots and scuffle in their coats, their hoods still flapping their backs. You peek-a-boo the sun, filling skies with grays. You daub our backyard with shades of reds, burgundies and browns. You make the poor squirrels run helter skelter, scouring for their hibernation. Those sparrows are gone too. You spill acorns, pluck crisp maples and oaks, line them on our sidewalks to crackle as we tread on.

Classic Buttermilk Waffles


You know I am excited, I want you around. I've been waiting, waiting this long. I am anxious though about the chill ripples you'll bring soon. I smell your autumn perfume, the air sweet in its giving. I worry for those naked trees, all their browns you'll soon skin away. I worry for the squirrels, hoping they'll stay warm. I worry for the flakes that will come pouring down, the streak of gloom, and the white blanket you'll engulf all things with. I worry about winters, of what I've heard and seen, about shoveling the driveway, of making it to office on time, and being back home. I worry for my daughter burying herself into layers of warmth. I worry for myself. I can't bear cold even as I am prepared. I worry what you'll soon bring along.

I want to hold on to this for a while longer. I fear losing these golden sweet peaches, the last of my summer treasures as you'll soon fill them with apples, winter squash and sweet pumpkins. Not that the apples won't be welcome, but I lament my berries were long gone; what's left of it is a handful of them sought from our berry picking days, clung in clusters, glued by ice, sitting high in my freezer, their box cover identical in color as these navy beauties. Just by chance.


These waffles don't have much to speak for, except that they are belong to realm of classics, and ofcourse have some buttermilk in them like their name suggests. They were made inspired from one of the cookbooks I rented from the library last year, jotted down roughly on scraps of kitchen towels and placed randomly in between pages of a cookbook I own.

I made these a few weeks ago, in a brand new waffle pan that I put to use since I received as a gift from my cousin's wife last year. I met her for the first time after several years, and we bonded very well. I love such gifts that conjure up old memories each time I use it. Peaches and blueberries make a light summery topping. Maple syrup brings the right touch of sweetness to these waffles. Overall its the right kind of breakfast for these days - warm and comforting for those lazy Sunday mornings.

Classic Buttermilk Waffles

Prep: 10 mins | Cook: 5 min each | Makes: 5-6 waffles, 6" in size

INGREDIENTS

Wet Ingredients:

1 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

To serve:

Pure maple syrup, sliced peaches and fresh blueberries, to serve

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the waffle iron as per your manufacturer's instructions.

In large mixing bowl, beat together all the wet ingredients, i.e., the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla extract until they are light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients well.

Transfer the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir them together gently with a wooden spoon till they are just combined.

Using a measuring cup, spoon out about 3/4 cup of the batter onto center of hot waffle iron and spread it around to spread on the waffle pan. Waffle pan sizes can differ based on manufacturers. Depending on your pan and your first waffle, you can increase or decrease the amount of batter needed for subsequent ones. Alternatively, refer your waffle maker’s manual for the recommended quantity of batter. Close the lid of waffle pan and allow it to cook till the lights go off and the waffle pan stops steaming from the sides. It usually takes about 5 minutes to turn golden brown.

Carefully lift the waffle and serve immediately. Top with pure maple syrup and fresh blueberries and sliced peaches.

Classic Buttermilk Waffles


Notes: Incase you do not have buttermilk at hand, you can prepare one by mixing 1 scant cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar. Whisk well and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes. The prepared buttermilk should thicken the milk slightly. Use as required.

Alternate option is to use watered down yogurt. Whisk water into plain, unsweetened yogurt until you get a buttermilk-like consistency. The amount of water needed to thin down will depend on the thickness of your yogurt. I like to use 1/2 cup water to 1/2 cup of thick Greek style yogurt.