Batata Poha

How to make Aloo Poha | Batata Poha Recipe
Batata Poha is a very popular breakfast dish from Maharashtra made with onions, potatoes (batata) and beaten rice (poha). Poha is a common breakfast dish made across India, with each state having its own subtle variation and names. There are numerous recipes for making poha, the recipes varying from one family to another, each with their own way of preparing it.

Kanda Poha and Batata Poha were made regularly at home. Karnataka has it's own variation called Avalakkibath which is quite similar to Kanda Poha, but has the addition of urad dal and channa dal in it, with garnishes of fresh grated coconut. Batata Poha though was always called as Batata Poha, and never Avalakki. Mornings with plate full of Poha, tall glass of warm milk and off we went to school full and nourished till noon.

This was also a breakfast made when we had guests over, or on days when mom was running out of time to prepare breakfast. Potato, in general is a loved ingredient by many, so that meant less fuss. I now make this Maharashtrian-styled Aloo Poha / Batata Poha regularly at my home and my family enjoys it well as much as I do.

Batata Poha


Batata Poha | Aloo Poha

INGREDIENTS

2 medium sized potatoes, peeled, chopped and diced
2 cups poha/beaten rice (thick variety)
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp roasted peanuts
Salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
Juice squeezed from 1 lime
Fresh coriander leaves to garnish

DIRECTIONS

Wash the beaten rice thoroughly and drain the water. Add turmeric powder and salt, mix well and keep aside. While the poha blooms, proceed to prep the rest of the ingredients such a chopping potatoes and onions.

Heat oil in a fry pan, add in the mustard seed and let it splutter. Add the chopped onions and stir fry for 30 seconds till they are transclucent in color. Next add the diced potatoes, torn curry leaves and green chillies. Stir fry for a couple of minutes till the potatoes are cooked, yet have a bite. Add in the soaked poha/beaten rice. Turn heat to medium low and gently mix all the ingredients. Cover and cook for atleast 5 mins. Once cooked, remove from heat, add sugar and squeeze juice from 1 lime. Garnish with roasted peanuts and chopped coriander leaves.

You can cut down the cooking time by using boiled potatoes before hand. You can add the potatoes into the tempering oil, stir-fry well and allow it to cook. That way the potatoes get a slight crunch. This however takes a longer time and consumes more oil, hence I avoid this version. The one that I make is a quick, healthy and less time consuming since the potatoes are pre-boiled and need no further cooking. Addition of a teaspoon of sugar and lime is optional, but this really adds an edgy flavor, which is typical to Maharastrian cuisine.

An alternate version of this called Kanda Poha, where onions are used instead of potatoes is quite a common breakfast. This breakfast is not just simple and healthy, but also filling to keep you going for long.

Kanda Batata Poha



*This post was updated and republished recently.*

Vegan Crepes with Strawberry Coconut Cream

Vegan Crepe Recipe with Strawberry Coconut Cream.
Vegan Crepes 👆🏼 for your Valentine's Day. Are you looking out for an inspiration to make your Valentine's Day morning better? Or may be a dessert if you don't wish to bake? I have just the right recipe for you. A quick and easy Breakfast Crepe that's eggless and vegan and you can make and serve them under few minutes to please your Valentine 🥰. Crepes are versatile. They can be served as breakfast, main course or even desserts! This recipe I have for you is very adaptable to a savory version and you can serve it with any accompaniment of your choice. Stir fried mushrooms with spinach is my favorite! Think of it as an instant dosa. Slather some Mango Jam or stuff it with Indian styled Stir-Fried Potatoes.

Vegan Crepes with Strawberry Coconut Cream


Vegan Crepes

INGREDIENTS

1 cup all-purpose flour (can be replaced with whole wheat flour for healthier version, but the taste will differ)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened milk of your choice
2 tbsp neutral flavored oil
1/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Blend all the ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Allow it to rest for 20 mins. Heat a griddle pan and drop a small laddle of batter on it. Swirl it gently from the center to the edges to form thin crepes (similar to dosa). Cook for a minute on medium low heat. The sides will lift off easily when cooked. Carefully remove and serve it on a plate. Top with Strawberry Coconut Cream (recipe below), sliced strawberries, bananas and drizzle of maple syrup.

Strawberry Coconut Cream

INGREDIENTS

1/2 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated for 24 hours
2 tbsp. strawberry jam (homemade or store-bought)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Beat the cold coconut cream on medium speed for 4-5 minutes. The cream should become light and fluffy. Add in the strawberry jam and vanilla extract, and beat until incorporated. Adjust the jam to your taste and sweetness. Serve immediately along with the crepes.

Mini Sweet Bell Pepper Rice Bath

How to make Karnataka Style Rice Bath | Easy Capsicum Rice Bath Recipe
'Rice Bath' is a common term used in Karnataka for dishes made with cooked leftover rice. It's a spiced rice where vegetables are added to make a nutritious and wholesome meal. The recipes differ from one family to another with many swearing by vaangi bath powder, and others using the readily available stash of sambhar or rasam powder. I keep it simple by using homeground sambhar powder that comes from my mom's kitchen. I've seen my mom do it that way and I've been following it ever since.

Rice Bath is made in a kadai or a large wok, unlike pulao or biryani where rice is cooked raw along with spices. It's a great way to revamp leftover rice and turn it into something more wholesome and scrumptious. This is also my go-to base recipe for Tomato Bath. I've used mini sweet bell peppers here, but it works equally good with capsicum, greens or vegetables of your choice.

Mini sweet bell peppers are tossed in a garlicky, onion and tomato base and stir fried with rice. Some frozen sweet peas are added too. Sambhar masala goes in for the heat. Sometimes I pep it up with red chilli powder when in a mood for spice. And finally I round it off with lemon juice for acidity and top it with roasted cashews for the crunch.

Mini Sweet Bell Pepper Rice Bath

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 sprig curry leaves
2 green chillies
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
8-10 slit mini sweet bell peppers
2 cups of cooked basmati rice
2 tsp sambhar powder
Salt to taste
Juice from 1 lemon
Roasted cashews and coriander leaves to garnish

DIRECTIONS

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a cast iron wok, add 1 tsp mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1 finely chopped onion and fry for few seconds. Next add torn curry leaves and chopped green chillies and fry for few seconds. Add about 2 tomatoes, finely chopped and fry till they soften and reduce in volume. Add 1/2 cup frozen peas and cook for a minute. Then add about 10 slit mini sweet bell peppers and stir fry for a minute. Add 2.5 cups of cooked basmati rice, 2 tsp sambhar powder and salt to taste. Stir the rice and masalas well so that the flavors are well incorporated. Cook uncovered for another 2 minutes on medium low heat. Remove from heat and add juice from one lemon. Garnish with roasted cashews and coriander leaves. Serve with a side of chilled yogurt or raita of choice.

Tiramisu

Make Tiramisu without raw eggs| Easy Tiramisu Recipe
I love baking cakes. Simple, quick and easy frost-less cakes are my kinds. The bare minimum, one bowl kinds. Also, by that I mean, they should come together with least effort, have less frills, are presumably uncomplicated to make, like a simple chocolate cake, or a tea cake without having to fuss over any frosting; the one that you can nibble plain as a snack. A fresh baked fruit bread that goes into the oven and is out on the plate in under an hour, enjoyed with a slather of butter alongside a cup of hot beverage, or for that matter, a pound cake or coffee cake with strudel topping fits my list well too. They are the kinds you sink your teeth into when a sudden craving to savor dessert hits yours sweet spot at ungodly hours. That's my kind-a-cake.

No Egg Tiramisu


Now, here's some word of truth. You see, I'm wary of baking tall towering cakes that have layers upon layers of sponge soaked in sweet juices and sandwiched with cream and fruits. Their surface embellished with delicate frosting of either whipped cream or fancy buttercream, topped with garnishes of fruits, chocolates and other fares make them elements of beauty, and treat to the eyes. Their delicateness is seen from the knee deep effort going into making them, hours sacrificed into adorning, an exercise of thought, patience and dedication. They demand attention and honor as they gleam tall on pedestal, deserving an applause. They mark a perfect score for being the right celebratory desserts to raise a toast to honor an occasion.

Tiramisu Prep
Tiramisu_Prep


Such cakes are fantastic, but not the everyday kinds. Neither do I have such occasions to celebrate that often, nor do I have the immense amount of patience (read motivation) needed to dole out multi tiered cakes that can be my pride and my pal's envy. Even when few odd urges to bake such cakes trigger, I have flopped miserably, often ending up with torn crumbs, messy fingers and merely half the cream in my mouth, not to forget the mounting annoyance caused by the cake failing to abide by my whims and fancies. I end up in exasperation, it's vexation so palpable that I resolve not to bake a tiered cake in months to come. Patience is truly a virtue, for all those who have it.

But then there are cakes like this Tiramisu that go-betweens. They don't take much of an effort to put together, but are celebratory enough to grace an occasion and make it rave-worthy. They have all of charms of layered cake but with minimal labor. You can make them in wine glasses and serve individual helpings or have a free standing cake that beams layers of cake and cream. They are so simple to make and taste so darn luscious that it can put a elaborate cake into shame!

Tiramisu


It was for Christmas eve party that I first made this Tiramisu cake and ever since then it has gone on repeat at home. You'll see them from the different photographs I took on two different occasions. Any why not! It's possibly one of the most easiest exotic looking dessert that tastes luxuriously rich, and indulgent and looks hours worth of effort, while it really isn't. This Italian celebratory dessert made by layering coffee spiked cookies, and sweet mascarpone cream, with a dusting of chocolate is a perfect dessert for any occasion or a celebration. Its simple, yet sophisticated. Put it on a cake stand, make it your centerpiece and it's sure to bring applause.

Traditionally, the cream for Tiramisu is made using mascarpone and zabaione (which is a custard made from egg yolks and sugar). This is a far simpler version where no raw eggs or alcohol is used, hence an ideal dessert for young kids too. Try this recipe at home and I bet you will love the ease of making it!

Tiramisu_Sliced


Easy Tiramisu (No Raw Eggs, No Alcohol)

INGREDIENTS

1 cup mascarpone cheese at room temperature (227 gm)
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled (236 ml)
1/2 cup sugar + 2 tbsp. for the coffee brew
28 Italian ladyfingers or Savoiardi cookies
1 cup very strong brewed coffee
1 tbsp. cocoa powder or grated chocolate for dusting

DIRECTIONS

1. Prepare a strong brew of coffee by mixing 2 tbsp. of instant coffee granules into 1 cup of hot water. Stir in 2 tbsp. of sugar and mix well till the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

2. Next, in a medium bowl, whip the chilled heavy cream and sugar with an electric whisk till near stiff peaks are formed. Carefully add in the mascarpone cheese into the whipped cream and fold gently till its uniform. Note - I added a tsp. of instant coffee granules into mascarpone cheese to intensify the coffee flavor. You can add a few tbsp. of coffee flavored alcohol instead.

3. Line the pan (either a cake pan or a loaf tin) with a plastic wrap so that it overlaps and hangs on the sides. This will help in easier and cleaner removal of the cake.

4. Pour the warm coffee decoction into a wide bowl. Dip each ladyfinger cookie one at a time, until soaked but not soggy and place them side by side on the bottom of the lined pan. Don't soak the cookies too long, else it will cause them to fall apart. I do this by dipping only the upper half of the ladyfinger (the sugar crusted side of the cookie) into the coffee decoction, placing the dipped side facing up. Consume half of the cookies in case you want 2 layers, and one-third of cookies in case you plan 3 layers. I do not suggest going above that as it can make the cake cutting quite flimsy and prone to dismantle. You can also layer the cake in a round film-lined tin, breaking the ladyfinger to fit the rounded sides as you go.

5. Spread one-third of the sweet mascarpone cream over the ladyfingers. Repeat with a second layer of espresso-dipped ladyfingers, this time arranging them in the opposite direction. Top again with another one-third of the sweet mascaporne cream. Repeat again if you want to go another layer, spreading the remaining mascarpone cream on top. Finally dust with the grated chocolate.

6. Cover with Tiramisu cake with plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least 4-5 hours or preferably over night.

7. To serve, remove from the refrigerator, undo the plastic wrap and dust with grated chocolate powder.

Tiramisu

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. 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 relatives 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. I would 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.

Mushrooms


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 let's stick to that. They don’t snatch away the authenticity from 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 rejoiced in celebration with such food.

That 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.


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. I came back home with a bag full of organic cranberries to turn them into a desi relish!


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.