Cinnamon Mocha

PhotoGrid_1451026323133It touched 5 °C this morning in Gurgaon. I’vegot my heater at arm’s length, 2 tees under my sweatshirt, socks, and my favourite armour this winter, my Cinnamon Mocha. It’s so good, you want to cuddle with it. Also, because it’s best had in bed watching your favourite TV show. It’s a no fuss mix which goes into a mug with piping hot milk and some sugar. Stir and rush back to your bed or couch.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup instand coffee powder (I used Bru)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

1 tbsp cinnamon powderPhotoGrid_1450936438581

Method:

Mix it all together and store in a jar.

When you need some lovin’ add 2 tbsp of this mix into a cup of piping hot milk and a tsp of sugar. Stir and slurp it away.

 

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Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Chilli Basil Sauce

basil chilli sauce

I keep whining about how it’s not easy to find good fresh basil around here in Gurgaon, and that it costs so much more than what it does in Bangalore. Thankfully the vendor near my house here had some beautiful fresh basil in stock as well as some plump fresh red chillies. It was obvious I had to use them both. A nice Thai curry came to mind, and even a noodle soup but then I remembered I had some whole wheat pasta that I’d been meaning to cook for a while. I did something really simple – grind basil, chillies and garlic into a paste. Which then I used as my pasta sauce base and added tomatoes and cream to make it the best sauce I’ve made. Ever!

basil chilli sauce

Ingredients:

Bunch of basil leaves – I’d say a cup, chopped

4 – 5 big fresh red chillies

5 cloves garlic

(Grind these into a paste with a dash of water. Store in fridge or use immediately)

For sauce:

1 tbsp olive oil

2 large tomatoes, chopped

2 cloves garlic, grated (alternatively you could use a tbsp of garlic paste)

1/4 cup fresh cream (you could try milk for a lighter version)

1 cup pasta cooking water

Salt to taste

Pepper for seasoning

Basil leaves for garnish

Optional – vegetables. I used a box of mushrooms, sliced.

Method:

Cook any pasta as per instructions on the package and keep aside along with a cup of the water.

Heat olive oil and add the chilli basil paste, and saute for 2 – 3 mins.

Add garlic and tomatoes. Cook for 5 mins till tomatoes break down.

Add the pasta water and vegetables at this point. I added mushrooms and let it cook.

Once mushrooms are cooked, add cream, salt and pepper.

Tip in the pasta into the chilli basil sauce and mix well.

Garnish with basil and serve hot!

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Breakfast in a jar

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If you like sweet breakfasts, this should be your go to one. It’s healthy, it’s filling, it’s sweet without any added sugar, it’s got strawberries and it comes in a jar! The last one is optional, of course.

All you need is hung curd, strawberries, bananas, muesli of your choice. If you want it sweeter, add honey to the hung curd.

Layer it in a jar or a bowl. Eat.

I don’t have time to eat breakfast at home. What I try and do is, take it to go. Something like this is awesome to eat at your desk (which I don’t suggest you do). And hey, who doesn’t love a little something sweet in a jar?!

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Salted Caramel

caramel

 

Who would have thought – adding little salt in your usual caramel changes everything in this world. OK not world, but it changes everything for caramel lovers at least. Like me, for instance. After the splish and splash of bubbling caramel on the pan, put some salt and that’s it. Salted caramel would have happened. Details below for half cup caramel.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cold salted butter

1 cup fresh cream

2 tsp salt

Method:

1. In a nonstick pan melt sugar till it turns amber colour. Basically completely melted and brown.

2. Drop the butter and mix quickly.

3. After butter melts, add cream. Now you have to work quickly with this because you will be in the splash zone and this is not a water park. Mix quickly and let it bubble for a minute.

4. Take it off the heat and add salt.

This should make more sense:

caramelmaking

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Whole Wheat Spaghetti in a Roast Bell Pepper Sauce with Broccoli and Mushrooms

In times like these when fast food, junk food and generally unhealthy food is all around you, it’s quite hard to stick to a healthy lifestyle. It’s very easy to cave in and order fried chicken, greasy Chinese food, pizzas with not good but processed cheese, burgers with highly processed meats and sauces, and of course ridiculously heavy and sweet desserts. These can be addictive. Anyway, what I’m getting at is, not that I don’t enjoy an occasional pizza slice, or a burger. And sugar is my poison. Home cooked meals are indeed the best. You can control everything that goes into your food and by extension, you. I’m not suggesting you eat brussel sprouts and carrot slices everyday. But there are ways to cut down the fat and grease in food without compromising its taste. I love my pasta and I love a good sauce to go with it. I read somewhere about roasting bell peppers and turning it into a sauce. It’s a genius idea. I also had whole wheat spaghetti in my pantry. So, there!

Serves 2 hungry people.

Ingredients:
250 grams or half a pack of spaghetti
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 very large or 4 medium cloves of garlic, grated
1 cup broccoli, blanched
1 cup mushroom slices
Basil leaves
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Paprika or chilli powder if you like some heat in your pasta
Olive oil for cooking

Method:
1. Heat a tbsp of olive oil, add garlic and saute bell peppers till you see them charred. Say around 5 – 7 mins.
2. Take off heat, cool and churn it in a blender with some salt till smooth or chunky (however you like your sauce).
3. While your sauce is in the making, cook the spaghetti as per instructions (usually 7 mins) and keep aside. Retain a cup of the cooking water to thin the sauce.
4. Heat more olive oil and brown the mushrooms in it. Toss the broccoli once mushrooms are done.
5. Add the bell pepper sauce now and a splash of the water you cooked the spaghetti in.
6. Tear up a few basil leaves and toss them in.
7. Remove from heat and mix the spaghetti in the sauce.

You can add any veggies or chicken and even different herbs. I just love the freshness of basil and could get my hands on some good basil here in Gurgaon after a long time.

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Waffles with Caramelized Bananas and Honey

The Flipkart Big Billion Day was upon us and everybody was all ooh-aah and everything about it. I also downloaded the app (yes, I’m a cavewoman when it comes to apps) to see what the fuss was all about. As expected, the first thing I click on was the kitchen appliances section. And lo behold, by the grace of tech Gods, I saw one waffle maker. That too for Rs. 899 only. One brand called Lifelong it seems. Now only time will tell if it’s going to stand the test and taste of time. Anyway, now that I have procured the maker, I presumed with the making. Of the waffles, of course. I came across too many recipes. But decided to figure this out on my own. Couldn’t be THAT off considering I’m one pancake queen. So here goes:

Makes 4 waffles. 2, if you want to stuff all the batter into that waffle maker and cause spillage and dense waffles.

Ingredients:
1 cup maida (plain flour)
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Method:
1. Mix dry ingredients and keep aside.
2. Mix milk, oil, yolk from the egg (keep the white aside to be added later) and vanilla and keep aside.
3. Now make a well in the flour mixture and pour the wet ingredients to this and mix till incorporated. Don’t over mix, else you’ll have waffle shaped leather type thing to chew on.
4. Whisk the egg white till nice and frothy. Like cappuccino froth maybe. Gently fold this into the batter.
5. Pour 3/4th ladle of the batter on each waffle mould of the preheated waffle maker.
6. Close it and wait till you see steam coming out from the sides. Also, there will be a red and green light where green turns on means it’s done.

I topped this with caramelized bananas and honey. You could choose chocolate sauce or maple syrup or basically anything else you’d like.

Also, I’ve learnt this a little too late, but still. Taking some effort to make your food look nice makes you also feel nice. Especially when the picture comes out good, when you don’t have a fancy-shmancy camera and only a phone.

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Coconut Masala Paste For Curries

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This is my safe base as I’d like to call it. After a day’s work, I’d like to get done with cooking for dinner in minimum time so I can unwind and rest well before a good night’s sleep. This masala really helps my cause. For a quick curry I cook vegetables or chicken in this paste along with coconut milk, stock or just water. Sometimes I add chopped tomatoes and tamarind pulp for some sourness while cooking the curry.

Ingredients for the ground masala:
6 – 7 dried red chillies – I used Kashmiri because they give more colour than heat
4 cloves garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup grated coconut or 1/2 cup coconut pieces

Optional: peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds

Method for the masala:
1. Saute all ingredients one at a time in 1 tbsp oil or ghee.
2. Grind to a fine paste with water.
3. Use immediately or store in air tight container in the fridge.

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Pulao with Coconut Milk

I don’t know if I can call this Pulao. Maybe, a version. Well, everything we cook is a version/variation of something else. The point being, I’d like to believe I’m good with one pot quick meals.

Context: I was looking forward to a chicken curry/stew kind of lunch. But my order of chicken didn’t come through on time and hence the last minute change in the lunch menu.

Ingredients:
Assorted vegetables like carrot, beans, bell peppers, beetroot, potato – cubes of them enough for the dish
Onions – 1 large chopped
Uncooked rice – 2 cups
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green chilly – 1
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coriander leaves – handful
Coconut milk – 1 cup
Water – 1 and 1/2 cups
Salt to taste
Oil for tempering

Method:
1. In a pressure cooker, heat oil, add cumin seeds and saute for 10 seconds and then add the chilly (chopped/slit).
2. Add curry leaves.
3. Tip in the chopped onions and saute before adding ginger garlic paste.
4. Add turmeric, chilli powder and salt.
5. Tip in the vegetables and stir well.
6. Add rice and mix.
7. Add coconut milk and water and pressure cook till 5 whistles.
8. Remove lid after pressure drops completely and add chopped coriander leaves.

Serves 2 hungry souls on a late
Sunday afternoon.

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Tomato Saar and Beans Palya

A typical vegetarian meal back in Mangalore – saar and palya. I missed the boat to Brahminhvile soon after my first bite of chicken.

Ingredients for Tomato saar:
Tomato – 3 chopped
Onion – 1 chopped
Curry leaves – fistful
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 1 chopped
Garlic – 3 cloves crushed
Ghee – 2 tsp
Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Pepper powder – 2 tsp

Method:
1. Pop mustard seeds in hot ghee followed by adding curry leaves and green chillies.
2. Add garlic and saute.
3. Add tomatoes, chilli powder and pepper powder.
4. Saute for a minute.
5. Pour enough water till tomatoes and other ingredients are immersed.
6. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer on low flame for 20 mins or till tomatoes are cooked.

Ingredients for Beans Palya:
French beans – 200 gms
Dried red chillies – 2
Curry leaves – 10 leaves

Method:
1. Saute red chillies in hot oil and add curry leaves.
2. Add chopped beans and salt to taste.
3. Add a glass of water and cover to cook.

Serve Tomato Saar and Beans Palya with hot steamed rice topped with a tsp of ghee and appalam if you have any.

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Mango Pulp Bottled Up

Summer is here and so are mangoes. I went a little nuts and bought a few too many. Since nobody wants to see mangoes go bad, I thought I’d bottle up the pulp to either drink or pour over ice cream.

All I did was cut up mango pulp and blend it with some water, milk and sugar. Add more water if you want it like juice. You could add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and turn it into mango milkshake.

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