Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mango rice

Summer is at its peak here now and  temperatures are  high up to 30 degree C which is very unusual for  British summer and it’s really hot. I feel that sun  really burns us  here compared to India and I assume it might be because of the lower ozone layer . I am not complaining though as I love it like this and want to make the most of it. Growing up back home, I always used to wonder why the tourists from other countries are so obsessed with our beaches and weather, but now I know why. There are plenty of beaches here but most of them are pebble beaches and only very  few are  sandy beaches.  Another thing is even on a hot day beaches can be cold if it’s windy and water can be really cold too. I guess that’s why  beaches back home are so special!!

When I think of summer in Kerala, mangoes are  the first thing that comes to my mind. I cannot swear enough how much I love mangoes, be it raw or ripe. If it’s raw I used to cut it and smear it with some salt and chilly powder and enjoy. I used to wait for the  Indian Alphonso mangoes which we get here every summer but sadly  for unfortunate mango lovers like me its temporarily banned here now due to sanitary regulations ! We still get mangoes from other countries but they are not as tasty as our desi mangoes J Coming to today’s recipe, every year when its Vishu (kerala festival ) I buy raw mangoes for Vishu kani( you can read more about Vishu here) and I usually make mango chammanthi or fish curry with raw mango  but last year I saw this mango rice recipe in my friends blog (cook like Priya) and I tried it. Its an absolute comfort food for raw mango fans and we all enjoyed it. Eventhough I wanted to make it again I never did until  another Vishu came. I made it again after a year gap and this time I took pictures to share it with you all. So when mangoes are in reason and you want to fix something quick for lunch/dinner try it out and you will love it.

Recipe adapted from cook like priya

Raw rice - 1 1/2 cup
Oil - 1 tbs
Mustard seeds - 1 /2 tsp
Urad dal/ uzhunnu parippu - 1 tsp
Chana dal/ kadala parippu  - 1 tsp
Whole red chilly - 2 ( broken into 2-3 pieces)
Green chillies- 2 
Curry leaves(few)
Peanuts/ kadala - 2 tbsp
Asofoetida/ hing/ kayam - a pinch
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

To grind
Raw mango - 2 ( sliced)
Grated  coconut - 1/2 cup
Whole red chilly -2 
Shallots/ cheriya ulli - 3 
Cumin seeds/ Jeerakam - 1/2 tsp
Garlic pods - 2
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Curry leaves - 1-2 sprigs


  • Cook the rice and keep it aside.
  • Grind all the ingredients under 'to grind' to a paste.
  • In a big pan /wok add oil and sputter mustard seeds, followed by urad dal, chana dal and  peanuts once they are roasted add dry red chillies, green chillies and saute for a minute.
  • Add the ground paste, add turmeric powder, salt , hing and cook everything for 3-5 minutes.
  • Switch off the flame and serve immediately.

Friday, July 11, 2014

English Trifle

Living very close to Wimbledon has definitely rubbed on some serious tennis interest in me. Last Sunday when it was Wimbledon final I was all set to watch the game with a classic English trifle. It was a nail biting game indeed, we were supporting Djokovic and I really jumped out of joy when he won! Now that the Wimbledon is over I am following football religiously. I would have loved to see in Brazil in final but now that they are gone I am supporting Argentina J

Anyway coming back to topic, it’s so easy to assemble this trifle and all you need to cook is   some home -made custard. In case if you don’t want to make homemade custard use custard powder which is also pretty good.

Ingredients (Serves 4 )
Trifle Sponges/ Sponge cakes – 8
Strawberry jam – 8 tsp
Brandy – 2tbs (optional) ( dissolve 2 tbs of  brandy in 2 tbs of water and add 1 tsp of sugar)
Home- made custard ( recipe here)– 2 cups ( thick consistency )
Whipped cream – 300 ml
Icing sugar – 2 tbs
Strawberry and banana slices – 1 cup

  • Slice the sponge lengthwise into two and  spread the  jam and sandwich it back.
  • Place the sponges into a one big  trifle bowl or in individual dessert bowls.
  • Sprinkle brandy (if using ) on the sponges and leave it for 2-3 minutes for soaking.
  • Pour home- made custard on top of it .
  • Spread the fruits slices
  • Finally whip some cream with icing sugar and spread it on top layer.
  • Allow it to set for an hour or 2 and serve chilled !

Monday, June 30, 2014

Jerk Chicken

Finally I get time for breather. Today I officially finished my studies and has submitted all my paper works, it definitely calls for a celebration for me. All these days I have been opening my word for typing up assignments and it feels so good to finally write a blog post !

This post is long overdue, its more than a month since I made this Jerk chicken for our anniversary dinner and before I totally forget about this I wanted to post it mainly for my my own future reference and secondly for few friends who has asked me for this recipe. It was actually my hubby who came up with Jamaican  Jerk chicken recipe first. Once in a blue moon he gets into the mood of cooking and do all the search online for a recipe  and cooks for us , the only down side of him cooking is that  for  few hours he  goes on and on about what a good cook he is !!  Anyway coming back to topic, first time when he read this recipe here it mentioned that the scotch bonnet chillies are really hot so use as per your taste, but we both being mallus thought that this scotch bonnet would be something like  Kanthari (small hot green chillies)  and  we ignored that warning and decided to be generous and use 3 scotch bonnet chillies !! Oh boy we were wrong, our mouth was on fire, and the worst part was that we had some friends over for dinner and they suffered too..luckily as it  was my hubby  who made it, I could blame him for all that heat without spoiling my name J .Inspite of all that heat the chicken was still delicious and we all ate it. Second time I decided to take over and made this for our anniversary, but this time I was very cautious, I deseeded the chillies and used only 2 small ones and it made a big difference. It was perfect, we could enjoy the flavours without that heat and for the first time he admitted I cook better than him :) We made this again one more time after that and this is a winner recipe for us now.

Recipe adapted from BBC good food
Chicken thighs – 9
Lemon halves – 2-3 (optional)
For marinade
½ of a small onion
1 ½ inch ginger piece
Garlic cloves – 2
2 small scotch bonnet chillies (deseeded)
Thyme leaves – ¾ tbs
Juice of ½ lime
Soya sauce – 1 ½ tbs
Oil – 1 ½ tbs
Brown sugar – 2 tbs
Ground all spice powder – ¾ tbs
Blend all the ingredients mentioned under marinade to a paste.
Marinate the chicken in that paste and leave it in the fridge overnight.
Bake the chicken in a baking tray in a  preheated oven at 180 degree C for 45 minutes flipping sides in between.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Minnie Mouse Cake and Mini Mouse themed cookies

No matter how tired or busy I am it’s so hard for me to pass any cake requests, so in spite of a having tight schedule till June end, I took up this Minnie mouse cake and Minnie mouse cookies for a little girl who loves Minnie mouse. I was really nervous about making the Minnie mouse standing up on a floral wire but luckily it turned out fine and was the wire was able to hold the weight of Minnie, but things can’t go really smooth every time can it ? An accident happened.. a major one I should say. All my cookies were done and decorated and just when I lifted the cooking rack in which my decorated cookies were resting,  ¼ th of cookies slid through the gap  from  the cooling rack  and crumbled on floor !!! I stood there numb without knowing what to do as I was really running out of time and this happened just when I was going to put them in cookie bag and tie a ribbon for delivery. I had guests coming next day so I was waiting for this cake and cookies to get done to prepare myself for the guests next day. I had to act fast and after the initial panic my brain started working again and I decided to bake it all over again. I have never baked anything as fast I did that day. In one hour cookies were ready but I had the challenge of cooling them before decorating it. So I had to cool them in fridge and freezer and just after mere 15 minutes from the oven , my cookies came to room temperature . I decorated it as fast I could and finally in less than 2 hours I managed to replace the crumbled cookies and delivered it ! All my effort came worthwhile when the birthday girls mum called me to thank me. She gave me a good feedback and  said everyone in the party loved it. After all that’s what matters really and I totally forgot all the stress I had that day!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Chocolate Date Walnut Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

I can’t believe how fast my half term holidays went by, now we have one more term to go and then its summer holidays! My studies are on its final few weeks and I (as usual) have kept all the assignments till the very end, so whenever I get time I am busy catching up with those works. Hopefully by July, I will be able to submit everything and will get some time to breath, enjoy some sunshine and of course do more blog posts!

It was our anniversary last week, 9 years to be precise! That morning was my day off and it was just like any other day. I was lazing around with no intention of cooking up anything special but then came a call in skype from lil sis with anniversary wishes. She wanted to know what am I baking and when she heard my reply “Nothing” she didn’t sound very pleased. She pointed out that I bake cake for everyone else and it’s not fair not to bake anything for our special day. Anyway that motivated me to whip up something special. A quick raid in the fridge and I knew what I wanted to make for main and starter. But when I checked for the cake ingredients, I was disappointed that I had only 125 gm of butter which wouldn’t be enough for cake and frosting. After brain storming a bit I decided to experiment my own recipe with the limited ingredients I had. It was inspired from my previous bakes of sticky toffee pudding and coffee walnut cake, so I came up with a new idea of chocolate dates walnut cake. It may sound boastful when I say it was one the best cake I baked in a long time but I have to stress that out again as it was absolutely delicious. The texture, moisture and the taste, a perfect bake indeed!! 

Ingredients ( serves 6-8)
Flour – 1 cup
Cocoa powder – 2 tbs
Salt – 1/4tsp
Baking powder – 1 /2 tsp
Eggs – 2 (large)
Oil – ½ cup
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Caster sugar – ½ cup
Light brown sugar – ½ cup
Dates (pitted) – 150 gm
Boiling water – 3/4 cup
Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
Walnuts (chopped ) – 25 gm

  • In a saucepan place 150 gm of dates and add boiling water to it. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove from fire and add baking soda to it. Blend it into a puree
  • Sift flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and keep it aside.
  • In a bowl break 2 eggs, add both caster sugar and brown sugar to it and beat with an electric beater for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add vanilla extract, oil and beat just to mix.
  • Add the sifted dry ingredients and fold in.
  • Add the dates puree and carefully fold in.
  • Finally add the chopped walnuts and fold in.
  • Pour the batter into two 6 inch greased cake tin and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
 Ingredients for salted caramel (yields 2 -3 tbs. of salted caramel)
Butter – 25 gm
Light brown sugar – 25 gm
Double Cream -50 ml
Salt – 1/8 tsp
Place light brown sugar, butter, salt and cream in a saucepan on a low heat until the sugar dissolves and the sauce thickens and gets a  toffee flavour.

Ingredients for salted caramel buttercream
Butter - 100 gm - (approximately 1/2 cup)
Icing sugar - 200 gm (1 1/2 cup )
Double cream - 50 ml
Meringue powder - 1tsp
Vanilla extract - 1tsp
Salted caramel – 2 tbs.
·        In a mixing bowl add 1/3 of the sugar, salt and meringue powder and mix.
·        Add cream to it and beat it for 5 minutes in an electric mixer with paddle attachment.
·        Add remaining sugar and beat for 3 minutes.
·        Add Butter little by little and beat for 5-7 minutes.
·        Add vanilla extract, salted caramel and beat for 1 minute.

Assembling the cake
Place one layer of 6 inch cake on cake stand and spread buttercream on top. Place the second layer and cover the whole cake with the rest of the buttercream.

Anniversary dinner !! Chicken Pilaf, Jerk chicken and Cake 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Carrot Halwa/ Gajar halwa

Its half term break again here and this time it’s a wet one. It has been raining pretty much all day since last few days. Our outdoor plans are all shattered and we are stuck at home. I am not complaining though as I am loving staying at home watching tele and doing activities with my little boy J All the empty  cereals boxes and tissue rolls have been put into good use making cardboard robot, house etc.

 Living in London has a great benefit when it comes to eating out options. There are many Indian restaurants and sweet shops here. It’s surprising that I never ate this from India and tasted it for the first time from an Indian restaurant here!! I loved it to core and after that first time I ate it lot of times from many restaurants and also from  friends place. The whole process of making this at home is a bit time consuming but I guess it’s totally worth it!

 Recipe source - vahrehvah
Carrots - 4 cup (grated)
Milk – 3 cup
Sugar – 1 cup
Cardamom powder – ¼ tsp
Crumbled paneer – 1 /2 cup (recipe for paneer here)
Ghee – 2 tbs
Sultanas – 1 tbs
Cashewnuts – 1 tbs

  • In a wide non- stick pan add 1 tbs ghee and add the grated carrots and milk and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour stirring occasionally until the milk has been absorbed and carrots are cooked and soft.
  • Add sugar and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Add cardamom powder, crumbled paneer and cook for a minute or so and turn off the flame.
  • Finally in a small pan add 1 tbs of ghee and fry cashewnuts until brown and sultanas until they are plum. Pour this to the halwa and mix.
  • Serve hot or cold !

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Vanilla Ice cream with step by step pictures

Finally the much awaited summer is near our doorsteps, we have been blessed with warm weather with descent average of 18- 20 temperatures during the days. Summer clothes, flip flops, sunglasses and sun hats are out and so are the people!

I have been gifted an ice cream maker by my hubsters good friend recently and I was waiting for the weather to get warmer to make ice creams. Ice cream maker makes the whole process much easier and I love it. I decided to go for a simple vanilla flavour for the first time.  This is a rich ice cream and it is custard based and calls for egg yolks. I saved all the left over egg whites from the eggs and it was put into good use by making egg white omelette which I liked better than usual egg omelette. I will share that recipe soon but till then enjoy the creamy and delicious vanilla ice cream!!

Recipe source- here
Milk – 1 ½ cup
Double cream – 1 ½ cup
Sugar – ¾ cup
Vanilla bean – 1(split lengthwise)
Egg yolks – 6
Salt – pinch
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp

  •  Place the ice cream maker in the freezer 24 hours before you make the ice cream  
  • Place sugar, milk,salt  and cream in saucepan and heat it on a low flame until sugar is dissolved.                                                                                                        
  • Scrape the seeds from vanilla bean and add it to the milk mixture and turn off the flame. Let the flavour of the vanilla seep into the mixture for 30 minutes.                          
  • Whisk 6 egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add the milk mixture to it stirring continuously.                                                                                                     

  • Place everything back into the bowl and heat it on a low flame stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until it custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon, might take up to 15 minutes.                                 

  • Sieve the custard if necessary and stir in vanilla extract. Cover and transfer the mixture into refrigerator and chill for 8 hours or overnight.                                         

  • Transfer everything into frozen ice cream maker and churn for 20-30 minutes until you get the desired consistency.

  • Transfer it into a freezer safe container and freeze for few hours. Before serving take it out of the refrigerator 10-15 minutes before and scoop out the delicious ice cream and enjoy!
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