Ria's Collection: 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

RESTAURANT STYLE BUTTER CHICKEN

RESTAURANT STYLE BUTTER CHICKEN
This recipe is the bomb! I was happily satisfied with Monica's Dad's Butter Chicken recipe for all these years and then I came across this recipe and decided to try at home. I was bowled over by it so easily for it's taste, texture and perfect balance of spices. It is exactly what we get in a good quality Indian restaurant. It is not greasy and does not use a whole lot of butter or cream,unlike the name Butter Chicken.
RESTAURANT STYLE BUTTER CHICKEN

When I read Marzia's recipe for the first time, she mentioned that this recipe came from her aunt who worked at an Indian restaurant many years ago.That was the main reason for me to try this recipe out. I remember asking my Chef at Hyatt for a Restaurant Style Butter Chicken recipe because he had worked at an Indian restaurant many years ago. Things got so busy during my time at Hyatt that I did not follow up with him on that recipe after our conversation.
RESTAURANT STYLE BUTTER CHICKEN
This recipe calls for canned crushed tomatoes. When I tasted it, it tasted of tomatoes without the tang. It was perfectly balanced which I think is the secret to this curry. If you were to make it at home, I would suggest that you blanch the tomatoes,remove their skin and seeds and puree them. The canned tomatoes were deep red in colour which gives the sauce a wonderful hue without the need of additional food colour.My hands were not stained after eating it which usually happens if you eat out at a place which depends heavily on food colour.
RESTAURANT STYLE BUTTER CHICKEN
Have you tried your hand at my Homemade Tandoori Masala yet? That's what I used for this curry. I never buy Tandoori Masala because most of the brands that I've tried just don't have that right flavour. This one is really good! Try it for yourself and see the difference it makes in your curries.
RESTAURANT STYLE BUTTER CHICKEN
RESTAURANT STYLE BUTTER CHICKENServes 6

Ingredients:
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch cubes
1/2 cup thick yogurt
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Homemade Tandoori Masala
1 tablespoon oil

For the sauce:
3 tablespoons Homemade Ghee (or butter)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger paste
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic paste
1 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon Kasuri Methi
Sugar

Method: In a bowl, mix together tandoori masala, ginger,garlic and yogurt. Whisk until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste and add the chicken. Let it marinate for a minimum of 20 minutes or upto 24 hours in the fridge.

For the sauce:
Heat 2 tablespoons of homemade ghee in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent,about 5-7 minutes.Make sure you don't brown it. Add the ginger garlic paste and saute for 30 seconds,stirring constantly so that they don't burn. Add the tomatoes and spice powders and cook for another 5 minutes. If the mixture thickens up and literally spits on you,add 1/4 cup of water and mix it in.Take it off the heat and once cooled, blend it to a fine paste. You can at this point store the sauce in the fridge for upto 48 hours or  freeze for upto 3 months.

When you are ready to make the curry,heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of homemade ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and add the marinated chicken pieces to it.Discard any excess marinade. Cook for 5-7 minutes stirring every now and then to brown the pieces. Add the blended sauce to it and bring it to a boil.Add the cream and garam masala and let it heat through. Add the crushed Kasuri methi, a pinch of sugar and turn off the stove. Serve hot!


As I was typing the recipe, I realized that I needed to tell you all about making Ghee at home. It's super easy and super economical. When I was home in Kannur, I tried to do the math and felt that there was not much difference in buying butter and making that into ghee. Here, it does a make a lot of difference! The best part is you can choose what kind of butter you want to use. The choice is entirely upto you! Amma makes ghee by collecting the cream from the milk every day.
RESTAURANT STYLE BUTTER CHICKEN
Anyway, this curry is phenomenal! Try it sometime and let me know how you liked it. Like how I mentioned in the recipe, I felt the need for a good pinch of sugar to give it a well rounded flavour that we are kind of used to. Otherwise, you might feel that there's something missing. One more thing that I liked about the recipe is that you don't have to necessarily grill the chicken separately. It still lends a beautiful flavour without doing so. When I served this curry to Jobin, he also agreed that it tastes just like how we get in restaurants.So maybe I should seriously quit trying anymore new recipes for making a Butter Chicken! Oh yes, one more thing...this curry tastes better as it sits in the fridge overnight! So it's a perfect make ahead curry,perfect for weeknights and weekends!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

FOOD TRUCK FEST AT THE VALLEYFAIR

ValleyFair
We were at the ValleyFair once again this Summer for their Food Truck Festival about a week ago. We always have a great time there so it's a pleasure to visit every time. Ian gets very excited about the rides for the kids,which I think is plenty and non scary. His highlight of every trip to the ValleyFair is the big train ride. It goes through the entire fair and is so soothing especially if it had been a hot day. It was Zarakutty's first toy train ride!
ValleyFair
We really enjoyed the Cinnamon Waffles (so buttery!) by the Nordic Waffle. They had a variety of combinations and served waffles like a sandwich. Sometimes we tend to buy the most basic flavour choice because if they can get the basic one right, then the other ones should be really good! Ian pretty much ate the entire waffle by himself. We also tried out other food trucks which sold delicious steak served on smashed red potatoes, awesome fried rice, fried shrimp etc.
ValleyFair
It was our first time attending the Food Truck Festival at the ValleyFair. We love to eat out and we eat out quite a bit at food trucks during Summer. The food did not disappoint and Ian had such a blast gorging on some delicious organic frozen yogurt with all the toppings he could get his hands on. I do not have a picture of that one because it was the time Zara decided to dig in as well. Two kids,one big bowl of frozen yogurt and a camera is not the best combination! I also really liked the fact that this was right before Father's Day...Jobin and the kids got to spend some quality time together with each other.

This post is sponsored by Blog Meets Brand and Cedar Fair but all opinions expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

CHEMMEEN MANGATHOLI PAAL CURRY

CHEMMEEN - MANGATHOLI  PAAL CURRY
Almost my entire childhood vacation at Kothamangalm in my Ammai's house included unlimited supply of Mangatholi along with plenty of Kappa Erachi,Cheeda and other goodies. Till a couple of years I thought Mangatholi was literally the sundried skin of raw mangoes.Only recently did I realize that it was the entire green mango flesh which were roughly cut up and dried under the sun along with salt till it was dehydrated and almost black in colour. That flavour of Mangatholi will be on my tongue until my last day. It is so good! Super tangy,salty pieces of mango which tastes like...the Sun!
CHEMMEEN - MANGATHOLI  PAAL CURRY
Do you all like the smell of clothes dried under the scorching Sun? I do. It always reminds me of Pallikuttumma. All our clothes would be hung on the line and even on the pebbles on the ground to dry and in the evening when it's taken inside the house,it would be paper dry and smells like the Sun. If I were to close my eyes and take a deep breath, I can still smell those clothes of mine. Those were the days we carelessly roamed around everywhere wearing hand-me-downs,least bothered about how our hair looked like or how messy our face were after eating ripe and raw mangoes holding them as is. I miss my childhood. I really had a good one.
CHEMMEEN - MANGATHOLI  PAAL CURRY
When I was pregnant with Zara, I craved for Mangatholi. That was when Jobin was travelling to India for work. I immediately Whatsapped Ammai and asked her if she had any stock. Of course, she did and she sent it to Amma and Jobin collected it from there and brought it all the way to Minneapolis. I wonder if those mangoes which were hanging on my Ammai's trees knew that they would end up in a dish in Minneapolis!
CHEMMEEN - MANGATHOLI  PAAL CURRY
I usually eat them as is but off late, I've been using it instead of our Kudampuli/ Valanpuli for curries. They work just fine and provides such a rustic taste to the curry. When I came across this curry on YouTube, I had to give it a try right away. As I was cooking, I posted some videos of it on Instagram (which is currently where I am the most active...if you would like to get cooking updates ALL the time from me, you can follow me there! ) and I was flooded with requests to share the recipe. It's literally impossible to share recipes personally anymore because of time constraints and the lack of interest in typing out in detail using my phone. So I told them that I will share it here, so that all of you can view it and try it at home!
CHEMMEEN MANGATHOLI PAAL CURRY
CHEMMEEN - MANGATHOLI  PAAL CURRY Serves 6

Ingredients:
500g Shrimp,cleaned
2 inch piece ginger, crushed
1 medium onion,sliced fine
2-3 green chilies, slit
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt

About 1/3 -1/2 cup Mangatholi,soaked in 1/2 cup water*

1 1/4 cup thin coconut milk
1/2 cup thick coconut milk

For tempering:
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 dried red chilies
1 sprig curry leaves
5 pearl onions, sliced
2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Method: In a meenchatti,add the shrimp,ginger,onion, chilies,spice powders,curry leaves, salt and 1 cup water. Cook on medium heat till the shrimp is half way done. Add the thin coconut milk, Mangatholi pieces along with the soaking water and cook covered until the shrimp is completely cooked.If the gravy is too thin at this point, cook the curry uncovered for 1-2 minutes. Add the thick coconut milk and bring it to a boil. Take it off the stove.
In a small pan, heat the oil and crackle the mustard seeds.Add the dried red chilies, curry leaves and shallots and fry till the shallots starts to turn colour. Turn the heat to low and add in the spice powders.Cook stirring well for 20 seconds. Turn off the heat and pour the tempering over the curry. Check for seasonings and serve hot with rice!

* You can use one raw green mangoes pieces instead. Just make sure you don't over cook the shrimp or the mango pieces. You can use Kudampuli too,if green mangoes are unavailable.
This is an AMAZING curry! It's tangy and spicy. Since the shrimp doesn't take that long to get cooked, the ginger and onion pieces retain their shape so you get a bite of it every once in a while. This curry is best served with plain rice. Ian loved it. Jobin is in India for work right now,so that's why you don't get to hear about him much these days. So do let me know if you try this curry, you will love it for sure! In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram here!

I have some news for Kannur people! Amma and her fellow YWCA members have opened a cafe and guest house  right next to St. Teresa's School in Burnacherry. The quaint little cafe,originally a British cottage,serves homemade food made exclusively by Amma and two other members. It's called Cafe Y and it's open from 9 am till 7 pm. Please visit when time permits!


Friday, June 9, 2017

THE VERY BEST IDLI / DOSA

BEST IDLI / DOSA RECIPE
Growing up, I hated Idli's with my entire heart and soul. It's one thing I could never relish. I wondered why people raved about how soft Idli's are! What's the big deal in making soft Idli's when it's so tasteless. Whenever my excited Amma tried to convince me to eat them for breakfast, I would wholeheartedly hate the entire scenario. No matter what chutneys or sambar it was served with , Idli was always an Idli for me. Rather...an Eddally!Ugh. Afterall, it was just a bland chunk of steamed dough!
BEST IDLI / DOSA RECIPE
Things changed. It was during the wonderful hostel days with pathetic food that I started relishing it. It was not because that Eddally was anything different from what Amma would make, it was what was served with it. It was this super watery,sambar like curry that made the whole thing exciting! We were served Idli's every Wednesday at Maria Sadan and I would eat like 3-4 one in one go. They always made extra Idli's because no one cared for it and I am pretty sure the Chechy's in the kitchen loved them!
BEST IDLI / DOSA RECIPE
Things changed when I conceived Ian. Guess what ... the only thing that I wanted to eat was Eddally! I didn't want to wait to wait until the batter fermented, I wanted them right away! So Jobin took me to an Indian restaurant closeby and I was so happy to order and eat Idli's. I was literally drooling when they brought in my order. Let me tell you, that was I think the very very first time that I actually paid money to eat an Idli. It's funny how you end up doing such funny stuff when you are pregnant,right?
BEST IDLI / DOSA RECIPE
Things really really changed. I was on a hunt to make the best Idli's ever at home. I usually stick to our usual ratio of 1:3 but sometimes I would try new proportions. I tried adding some cooked rice and that gave me some amazing ones but this time when I added poha, the results were just mindblowing! It takes me about 18 hours even in Summer for the batter to ferment,in Minneapolis. It could be just me but it does ferment and is never sour when I begin to use it,so I think I am doing it all right! :-) So if your takes time to ferment, just know that I am with you! :-)

Idli's were my #1 craving while I pregnant with Zara as well. It could be because of that, both my kids love Idli's. I personally feel it's a very healthy and wholesome food,especially if you are travelling. Ordering Idli's would be the safest.

THE VERY BEST IDLI /DOSA
BEST IDLI / DOSA RECIPE My own recipe

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Idli rice,washed
3/4 cups whole urad dal,washed
1 cup thick poha (not Kerala thin aval but the small oval shaped ones used for breakfast dishes.It is sold by that name.Check this link to see how it looks)

Method: Soak Idli rice for 4-5 hours. Soak urad dal separately & poha separately for 1 hour. Using a mixie, grind the rice along with poha using just enough water to submerge it and grind it to almost a fine paste. A little but of grain like fine sooji rava is what you are looking for. Remove the ground rice and poha mixture to a large container. Now, grind the urad dal using just enough water to submerge it and grind it to a very smooth paste.Pour this into the rice mixture and mix it well using your hands. It should feel fluffy and a bit like a nice cake batter, if you know what I mean! :-)
Cover and let it ferment until it's almost doubled. Add salt and gently stir. This batter is very frothy once fermented.My microwave oven is the warmest place in my kitchen,so that's where I leave my batter to ferment.

For making Idli's:
Prepare Idli moulds like you would normally and fill them with the batter. I cook my Idli's on high flame and they were done in 8 minutes.

Always use high flame and make sure you do not over cook them, they will turn hard. Just insert a paring knife into the centre of an Idli and if it comes out clean, it's done. Take it out of the steamer and let them cool a bit before you remove them from their moulds. These Idli's remained intact even after 6 hours of steaming them.Soft ,spongy and so good!

For making Dosa /Uthappam :
I used the same batter without thinning it out which is what I usually do with my other recipe.You just have to make them the way you would with any other batter. This batter makes super soft,spongy Uthappams as well as nice crispy Ghee Roast.

If you have noticed, I didn't show you a photograph of a Dosa/Uthappam made with this batter.It's only because Idli's are always the toughest thing to master for many of us. You have no idea the amount of messages I get on my Instagram account whenever I share a story/video/photo of my Idli's. That's the only inspiration for me to actually make an effort in getting this post ready.
BEST IDLI / DOSA RECIPE
Today for breakfast, I made some Uthappam's for Ian & Zara. They love carrots so that's what I used. I really hope you give this recipe a try and when you do, please come back here and tell me how you liked it! This is by far my most favourite recipe. If it can work for me here in Minnesota, it will work for you guys too! Just make sure your batter is not too thick, it should be easily pourable yet  not watery. Like I mentioned in the recipe, I used just enough water so that the rice & dal was submerged,not to the exact same level but like 2-3 tablespoons more so that it stays under water. Also, remember...do not over steam your Idli's. I really want this recipe to work for you and I am sure it will!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

AN EVENING AT THE VALLEYFAIR

ValleyFair MN
We were at the ValleyFair twice last year and enjoyed every minute we spent there. So naturally,when Jobin & I got a chance to visit again,we happily grabbed the offer! It was for an Adult Night just before the Memorial Day weekend from 7 pm -11 pm. It simply meant that the park was off limits for anyone below 18 years of age at that time. Select rides (like crazy scary!) were open for us and we could go on it as many times as we wanted to. The craziest thing was actually getting to the ValleyFair.
ValleyFair MN
You would think that I am exaggerating when I tell you that the traffic backup for was close to 2 miles. When we finally parked our car, the sun had set. The park was well lit up in various colours and I must say I did miss bringing Ian along with us. He had a ball of a time there last year. Since we had entry passes to the ValleyFair, we did not have to stand in the longest of the longest queue that I've seen my entire life!
ValleyFair MN
Just like last year, the Hotdish & Hops event was scheduled to happen the next day so we got a preview of it. There was a wide range of Hotdish availabe for sampling right from my favourite Green Bean Casserole to S'mores. The sample size were so generous that we were literally filled all the way up to our nose by the time we were done. The timing was so perfect that it began to drizzle as we were leaving the park. There was no way that I would have been able to run back to the car with a stomach full of delicious food that I just ate at the ValleyFair!

This post is sponsored by Blog Meets Brand and Cedar Fair but all opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, June 5, 2017

PETITE VANILLA BEAN SCONES with VANILLA BEAN GLAZE

Petite Vanilla Bean Scones
Even before I go any further with this post, I have to tell you something. Do yourself a favour and make these scones right away. Like, right now! It is featherlight,so buttery and so delicious! There is a trick to getting featherlight scones. I will let you in on that secret as we go further in detail with the recipe. It's a very simple trick though.But that one thing can either make or break your scones. Break in the sense, it can make it tough.

I have shared many other scone recipes with you in the past. My Cream Scones with Chocolate Chunks & Orange - Raisin Buttermilk Scones are perfect examples for that.
Petite Vanilla Bean Scones
Ian and I absolutely love a good scone.Infact, he puts in a request every now and then just like he asks for those Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies. I bake multiple batches of those cookies every week. We are seriously addicted to those. I kind of don't really care for a crisp cookie anymore. I like them soft and never in a million years did I think I would actually say that I like a soft cookie!
Petite Vanilla Bean Scones
Actually, this is not even a cookie post. It's about a Vanilla Bean Scone with an awesome Vanilla Bean Glaze over it.This tastes like a birthday cake to me.It is all things good rolled into one triangular shaped thing. I really think using a good vanilla extract and vanilla beans/ paste really matters with this recipe. It shines through the end product.So please use the real thing. I know it's expensive but once you really taste it, you will not go back to imitation vanilla.It's that good! This recipe is from Jaclyn and her recipes never ever fail to impress me and my family.
PETITE VANILLA BEAN SCONES with VANILLA BEAN GLAZE
Petite Vanilla Bean Scones Makes 18 scones

Ingredients
Scones:
2 cups all purpose flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, diced

1 egg
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Method:
Scones : Preheat the oven to 400F/200C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour,sugar,baking powder & salt. Rub in the cold butter with your finger tips until they resemble coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, cream,vanilla extract & vanilla paste. Add it to the dry ingredients and mix very gently using a spatula. Once it comes together roughly as a ball, gently use your fingers to bring them together. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and pat it gently into a 7 x 7 inch square. Cut them into 9 pieces and divide the 9 squares into 18 triangles by cutting them on the diagonal. Place them on the baking sheet with 2 inches gap between them and bake for 12-14 mins. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Glaze: Mix all the ingredients together and drizzle over the cooled scones. Let the glaze set at room temperature. Store in airtight tins.

The secrets to making a good scone is to use very cold butter and to be very gentle with the dough. Do not ever knead the dough with the heels of your palm. Just use your fingertips throughout.

Edited on 6/6/17
How do you check for doneness? Just go by the look and feel of it. A well baked scone should feel firm to the touch and golden brown at the bottom. Baking time might vary depending on your oven. 

These were just fantastic and that's all I have to say! Ian, Zara & I ate these watching some Famous Five episodes on TV. You have no idea how thrilled I was to taste my very first scone very many years ago after reading all those wonderful Enid Blyton books. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you would have already read about it.

Seriously, I cannot wait to make more of these!

Friday, June 2, 2017

MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE CAKE...a cake for me from him (them)!

Mississippi Mud Pie Cake
So I turned a year older yesterday.If you have been following this blog for a while, you will know that Jobin bakes my birthday cake every single year. I just have to choose a cake and give him a recipe and that's it! The cake that I've been dreaming of as my birthday cake will magically appear on the table every May 31 since 2010. Ian was THE most excited person while baking it. He has been chanting the name Mississippi Mud Pie Cake for almost 2 months now.
Mississippi Mud Pie Cake
Mississippi Mud Pie Cake

While we were in Kannur, Ian and I were going through Amma's cake decorating books and had a ball of a time deciding what cakes we should bake for everyone's birthdays. He wanted to know what I wanted and I told him that I wanted them to bake me a Mississippi Mud Pie Cake. From then on, that was the only thing he could associate with his Amma's birthday. Of course that was followed by many handmade cards and hugs whenever Jobin would mention that Amma's birthday is fast approaching! Children are the best !
Mississippi Mud Pie Cake
Mississippi Mud Pie Cake

That cake you see above was phenomenal! It had four layers.The first /outside layer is an Oreo crust which was filled with a flourless chocolate cake topped with a delectable chocolate pudding followed by a layer of lightly sweetened whipped cream. So you can imagine how rich a small slice would have been. Creamy, crunchy, slightly sweet and so chocolate-y! It was just delicious!
Mississippi Mud Pie Cake
This recipe comes from the famed Baked guys from Brooklyn, NY. I went ahead with the slightly modified version by Jacklyn from Cooking Classy. If you have not seen her blog yet, you should! It's brilliant! If you would like to see the original recipe, please take a look here. You can even see a video of how it is made.It is a multi step process to make this cake but that shouldn't intimidate you. Read through the recipe calmly and you will figure out how easy it is!
MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE CAKE
Mississippi Mud Pie Cake Makes a 9inch super rich cake

Ingredients:
Crust
40 Oreo cookies
5 tablespoon unsalted butter

Flourless Chocolate Cake
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulate sugar

Chocolate Pudding
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups whole milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whipped Cream
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Method:
Crust : Grease the sides and bottom of a 9inch springform pan and set aside. Powder the cookies,cream and all, to a fine powder. Add the melted butter to it and mix well using a fork. Press it into the base and sides of the prepared tin. The crust on the sides should come within 1/2 inch of the top of the pan. Now preheat your oven to 300 F and put the prepared crust into the freezer for 10 minutes.Once the oven is preheated, remove the frozen crust from the freezer and bake it for 10 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and set it aside to cool.

Flourless Cake : Increase the oven temperature to 350F. Melt the chocolate and butter using a microwave. In a small bowl, mix together water,cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and brown sugar on medium high speed for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy,double in volume. Add the melted chocolate and mix until just combined,scrape the bowl and mix on low speed for 5 seconds longer.Scrape down the sides and add the water mixture.Beat until just combined. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the 1/2 cup sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the egg yolk mixture,1 cup at a time and transfer the cake batter into the cooled crust and bake for 38-40 minutes or until the sides have set and the centre is still a bit jiggly. Take it out and let it cool completely. Cover the tin tightly with a plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge overnight.

Pudding: In a medium saucepan, mix together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks. Drizzle the milk in and whisk to mix. Cook over medium heat until thick and glossy. Take it off the heat and add in the butter, chocolate and vanilla.Transfer the pudding to another container let it cool down for 15 minutes.Then press a plastic wrap over it and let it chill in the fridge overnight.

Whipped cream : Whip the heavy cream with sugar using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

Assembly : Take the chilled pudding out of the fridge and give it a quick whisk. Pour it over the chilled cake - cookie layer. Top it with whipped cream. Garnish as desired. Slice the cake (use a hot knife for a clean cut) and enjoy!
Mississippi Mud Pie Cake
I think that's the longest recipe I've typed so far! This cake is not for the calorie conscious,it is rich in every sense of the word. I think this is by far the most chocolate-y thing I've eaten. One slice was enough for me. If I were to eat another one,I would have fallen asleep right where I was sitting! :-)
Once I figure out where our tripod is, my family of 4 can fit into one frame. Until then, it will only be the birthday girl /boy with the other two :-)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

WHOLEWHEAT / ATTA LADOO

Atta Laddoo
I have a major sweet tooth and so does my family. So it's really fun to try out new things because it will be cherished by all including Zara. The only problem is that I am the only one who seems to be gaining the happy sweet weight around my belly. Jobin does his daily workout religiously be it Summer or Winter. Ian is very active and so is Zara. I am the couch potato in the family. I would be the happiest to curl up with a cookbook or my phone on the couch with something to munch on,especially something sweet. So the other day, after a full fledged mallu meal, Jobin asked me if there was anything sweet to eat and surprisingly, there was none!
Atta Laddoo

So yesterday, I thought of making something sweet for us. I wanted to make something Indian. So as usual, I checked out some of my reliable resources on the internet for recipes. I am not sure why but even after 8 years (almost 9!) of blogging, I still have only a handful of resources (literally viralil ennavunna) online when it comes to recipes. I stopped blog hopping around the time Ian was born. I barely had the time to show my face here.
Atta Laddoo
So I am still reading the ones I used to read before 2012. Some of my favourite food blogs have stopped updating,which is such a sad thing because I felt I was a part of their lives, reading about them and one fine day,there are zero updates. Manjula aunty's page is one of my most favourites and her recipes are fail proof! I am sure almost all of you know her for her simple,fuss free and tasty recipes. I have tried out so many from her site and they all have turned out the way it should.Delicious!
Atta Laddoo
Sarah,one of my close hostel friends, was known for her mother's Atta Ladoos because they were incredibly yummy! We would request her to bring it for us whenever she went home to Mangalore. As I was making these laddoos,I couldn't stop thinking about the fun we had in our hostel sneaking into each other's room and tucking in homemade special food without the hostel Warden seeing us.Some of my best memories and friends are made during my hostel days in Bangalore.
WHOLEWHEAT / ATTA LADOO
Atta Laddoo Makes 16

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup superfine sugar *
1/2 cup melted ghee
1/4 tsp ground green cardamom
Pistachios
Paper cups

Method: In a heavy bottom pan, roast the flour stirring constantly on medium heat for 6-7 minutes or until it starts to smell nice and toasty. Add the ghee,mix well and cook for another 4-5 minutes,stirring all the time  or until the mixture turns light brown in colour.It will be aromatic at this point. Take it off the heat and transfer the mixture to another heatproof bowl. Let it cool a bit until it is warm to touch. Add the sugar and cardamom and mix well. Form small balls right away and dip the tops in chopped pistachios if you like. Store them in airtight containers and serve them in paper cups if you have them.

*Make sure the sugar is super fine or else it will remain as is in the final product. You can go ahead and substitute it with 200 grams of icing /confectioners /powdered sugar. If that's the case, wait until the laddoo mixture,after adding sugar and cardamom is cooled down completely before forming laddoos. It's only because they will not retain the shape well when it is still warm.

Atta Laddoo
We literally inhaled these laddoos. They were incredibly tasty! I have a soft spot for Besan Ladoos and these will give a tough competition for them. Zara was super excited to give it a try and she happily ate the crumbs she got. Ian on the other hand never liked any Indian sweets we've given him so far. He is forever happy with his Chocolate Cake & Chocolate Chip Cookie. Well, that remind me of the pending order for some cookies from him. He does not like our cookie jar to be empty!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

BAKED MAC & BEANS

Baked Mac & Beans
I did my undergrad from Mount Carmel College in Bangalore and pretty much anyone who've studied there around that time would be familiar with Raj shop on Loafer's Lane / Vasanthnagar. He makes the best ever Mexican Chaat and he is the only person whom I know that makes it. It was one of our indulgence during the hostel days when we would try to restrict our spending within our pocket money. My other indulgence was the Sweet Chariot's Chocolate Mousse Cake which I later mastered in making and was super duper thrilled about it . You can read about it here...my post from way back in 2009.
Baked Mac & Beans
In February, while Jobin was in Bangalore for work, we joined him and spent close to 2 weeks roaming around town dining at new restaurants and revisiting our old favourite restaurants.So one day, I asked him if he could take to me Raj's shop to eat a Mexican Chaat. I was not really sure if the joint was still open. When we reached there, the shop was open and Raj was inside bossing around the girls who came to buy the goodies from his store. He is known for the way he talks with the college girls. When I asked him for a Mexcian Chaat he was like,'What are YOU doing here now?'. It's been 11 years since I last visited that store and nothing has changed. Nothing at all!
Baked Mac & Beans
One of my favourite past time is to play some videos on Youtube while I cook or pretty much do anything around the house. Cooking videos are my current favourite and I happened to chance upon this one by Ruchi. She made me want to give it a try at home and I am really glad that I did! As I was eating spoonfuls of the piping hot pasta just out of the oven, I was reminded of a very familiar taste. I couldn't for some reason figure out what that was and then when I reached the rock bottom of the bowl, while scraping out the leftover baked sauce I realized that it tasted like Raj's Mexican Chaat!
Baked Mac & Beans
Ruchi makes her Bechamel sauce a.k.a White sauce in a different way. It's much easier and tastes good. I couldn't find the proportions to the ingredients for her recipe so I have added and decreased the ingredients the way I thought we would like it. It's a very forgiving recipe, so feel free to play with it. With all the beans and oregano in it, it does have a Mexican taste to it.
BAKED MAC & BEANS
Baked Mac & Beans Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup cooked macaroni

1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 large cloves garlic, made to a paste
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup frozen sweet corn
1/2 cup baked beans (tinned)
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
A few dashes of hot sauce (like Tabasco,Cholula)
Salt & pepper

Shredded Cheddar, as needed

Method: In a saucepan, mix together cornflour, butter and milk. Cook on medium heat till it boils becomes thick. Set it aside.
In a saute pan, heat the butter and saute the onion till soft and translucent. Add the garlic paste and give it a mix. Add the remaining vegetables and saute for a minute or two. Then add in the beans, ketchup, oregano, red chili powder and hot sauce. Cook for 2-3 minute or until it thickens up. Turn off the heat and mix in the white sauce. Add the cooked pasta and mix well.Season to taste.

Transfer this mixture into a small baking dish and top it with cheese. Bake at 180 C/ 350 F for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Serve hot and enjoy!

So Zara thinks no matter what I cook, it is all for her. She will not keep quiet until I let her taste it. So today,she got her first share of pasta. She wasn't very sure about the texture of the pasta so she gave me a wide toothless grin while chewing it.It's really funny to see her push the food back into her mouth if it happens to comes outside.She is seriously one joker who loves to try everything. She thinks we all need to eat the same food,adult food that is! I am waiting for Ian to get back from his Montessori to listen to his 'dialogues' about this dish. He loves pasta,so he might like this too.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

BEST SOFT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

BEST SOFT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
So we are back in Minneapolis after a glorious 6 month long holiday in Kannur. If you ask me if it was tough coming back, honestly, it was like a new life because I totally forgot that I had a life in Minneapolis before! Staying with your parents is the best thing ever because it's like you never left home and you are at the place where you can truly be yourself.Everything around you is at the most familiar,the places and faces that you saw growing up, the aroma of your Amma's food, the most familiar voices... I hope one day Ian & Zara will have the same fondness for their sweet home as much I have for mine.
BEST SOFT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
So before we left Kannur, Ian had asked me if I could bake some Chocolate Chip Cookies for him. I promised to do so but it totally didn't happen till he asked me again yesterday. We were out of chocolate chips, sugar and flour (oh yes, being away for 6 months can make that happen!) then so Jobin & I took him along with an excited little Zara to do some shopping at Target. We strapped them both onto the shopping cart and Zara couldn't stop giggling and smiling. She thinks that's the coolest thing ever,for now. Let's see how long that will last! Anyway,we came back home with a big haul of goodies to make his cookies.
BEST SOFT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
BEST SOFT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

So Zara is that Baby who loves to eat. She is just like how Ian was at 7 months...she will wake up when there's food around her! I am not kidding one bit...when we took her to India, she was barely two months old. She was a very sleepy baby who would sleep throughout the day and night except when the food was being served. She would wake up crying when the air-hostess brought us our food. Amma and I observed it for a couple of times and we laughed out so loudly once we figured it out. It's still the same and I am not complaining one bit because it's so easy to raise a child who loves to eat! I have warned Jobin that I might have to start a home canteen pretty soon since the 4 of us live to eat!
BEST SOFT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
BEST SOFT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

She sleeps the best on our couch during the day,so with her 'swabhavam' like that, I was pretty sure she would wake up when I was taking pictures of these cookies. And she did. She just rolled over to her side, opened her big wide eyes and saw me sitting with a plateful of cookies. She just pounced at me with one hand stretched out to grab them! How one earth did she know they were edible? :-) Well,the next 10 minutes were spent in sharing some cookies with her. Luckily, Jobin came home early from work, so I could continue taking the pictures without the Baby Cookie Monster lurking around!
BEST SOFT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Coming back to these cookies. They are super tasty and so awesome! I've been eyeing them ever since Lindsay posted it on her blog a couple years ago. If you are looking for a crisp cookie,like the Parle Hide 'n Seek we get in India, this is not the recipe for you. This particular cookie is soft all the way. There are no crisp edges with a soft center. If you want a recipe for that, please check out my old take on the Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are very good too!
BEST SOFT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
BEST SOFT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES Makes 12

Ingredients:
113 grams / 8 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon  baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups chocolate chips*

Method: Preheat the oven to 350F and keep a cookie sheet ready. You don't have to line it.
Melt the butter in the microwave for a short 40 seconds, you just want to melt it and not heat it up. Add both the sugars to it and beat with a hand mixer until creamy,for a minute. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until it's mixed and turns pale,about 30 seconds. Do not over beat,mixture will become stiff. Add the dry ingredients and mix with the hand blender till it forms a crumbled mass, 20-30 seconds. It will be a soft non sticky dough. Add in the chocolate chips and fold it in using a spatula or your hands. Divide them into 12 balls and place them on your cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Do not over bake. They will puff up and look pale at the end of 11 minutes. Take it out of the oven and leave it to cool on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes.
Enjoy! Store the extras,if any in an airtight container.

*The chocolate chips we get here in the United States are fairly huge compared to what we get in India. So please add more chocolate chips,if you want to. If I were you, I would add atleast 1 1/4 cups.
LAMINGTONS
ME AND MINE
It was Jobin's birthday two days ago,on the 4th. As always, I made Lamingtons for him and Butter Naan with Green Chicken Kurma for dinner. It's funny because everytime I make Lamingtons for him, it feels just like yesterday.Years are flying by and when you have kids,it's like a whirlwind just hit you. You just don't realise what's going on until you stop in your path,breathe and look around.My Monkeys are keeping me on my toes and since that's pretty much the only exercise I get these days,I will happily take that!
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