Friday, October 10, 2014

More Cakes

I have not been blogging for long time. Life has been good with past few month:-) I did not miss any chance I guess to bake and decorate cakes. Until I get back to blogging again, I am posting pictures of all the cakes I baked in last few months. Please feel free to email or leave comment if any questions.
Rainbow Cake

Inside Rainbow Cake too

Chocolate cake

Cream Cheese Fondant Cake

Royal Icing Flowers Basket Weave Cake

Fathers Day Cake

Fondant covered Graduation cake

Graduation Cake

Fish cake

Fish cupcakes

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Birthdays, Anniversaries, or any other occasion are special, and become extra special when bake cakes at home! I love baking and decorating cakes. I wanted to write in detail about each decorative cake I have baked so far, but not sure when will it happen. Until that happens, I thought I will place the pictures of all the cakes I have decorative so far to keep them at one place. Please feel free to reach me if you have specific questions.

Eggless Vanilla Elmo Cake (Adapted from Betty Crocker)

Homemade Fondant Cake

Butterfly Cake (Adapted from Betty Crocker)

Eggless Vanilla Cake

Eggless Castle Cake (Adapted from Betty Crocker)

Eggless Pineapple Cake

Eggless Black Forest Cake

Eggless Vanilla Cake(Adapted from Wilton)

Eggless Vanilla Cake

Eggless Vanilla Cupcakes

Friday, May 2, 2014

Flaounes Savory Easter Cheese Bread

I am glad I am part of the Baking Group We Knead to Bake. Like a small child waiting for something new, every month I wait eagerly which bread the group is baking. It's exciting every month to try to bake a new bread with fellow baking group members. This month we baked Savory Flaounes (pronounced "fla-OO-nez"). I was apprehensive will I be able to bake this bread due to other time commitments.  This bread is baked specifically during Easter time.

Flaounes (Cypriot Savoury Easter Cheese Pies)
Please refer to Aparna's blog for step by step pictorial steps on how to make this bread. This video is a helpful resource to learn shaping the bread.
Bread baking is indeed therapeutic, and I managed to bake this month bread too and felt accomplished baking this new bread! I did not have the all the Greek ingredients, but it tasted well even without those.It is soft, chewy, with of paneer, cheese, and mint.  I added  cumin, paprika to bring the flavors of the filling.

It is worth a try to bake this bread once if you are a fan of baking.

(Adapted from The Traveler’s Lunchbox and My Diverse Kitchen)
For the dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 cup whole whet flour and 2 cup APF)
3/4 tsp instant yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 egg (I did not use)
½ tsp mastic, ground in a mortar (optional) - I did not use
¼ tsp ground mahleb, (optional) - I did not use
1/4 cup milk
5 Tablespoon (60gm) butter, melted and cooled
About 1/4 cup (or less) lukewarm water, or as needed
Oil, for greasing bowl and rolling dough

For the filling
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (a somewhat sharp cheddar adds flavour)
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup crumbled paneer (fresh Indian milk cheese)
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina (not semolina flour)
 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper/ red chilli flakes (optional)
1/4 Cumin powder
1/4 tsp Red Chili flakes
1/8 cup raisins or currants (optional)- I did not add
 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 to 2 tbsp milk

For sealing paste - 1 tbsp flour + less than 1/8 cup milk
For Coating :1/3 to 1/2 cup untoasted sesame seeds
A little milk for brushing

1. For the dough, I used my hand mixer but you can knead by hand. Put the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and the flavouring ingredients (if you have them) into the bowl and pulse a couple of times to mix. Whisk together the milk and melted butter in a small bowl and add it to the flour. Knead, adding just enough water, till you have a soft, smooth and elastic dough which is just short of sticky. Add water/ flour as necessary to get this consistency of dough. Too much flour will spoil the texture of the pies.Stir in the yeast, salt and sugar.  Knead for at least 5 minutes until it has a smooth and elastic feel. Put the dough into a large bowl, and leave in a warm place for an hour to rise.

2. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat it well. Cover loosely and let the dough rise for about 1 to 2 hours, until it is double in volume. Once it has risen, deflate the dough by pressing it out and folding it a few times. Then place it in a container (the dough will rise so use a large enough container), cover loosely and refrigerate for about 2 hours. You can leave this in the fridge overnight too, if you want to make these pies in two stages.

3. While the dough is sitting for the first rise, make the filling. Mix all the ingredients for the filling, except the milk (or egg if you’re using it) with a fork. If you’re not using the filling immediately, keep it aside and add the milk only when you’re ready to use the filling. The filling should be somewhat like a stiff paste, joust moist rather than wet.

4. Now shape the Flaounes. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces (10 if you want slightly smaller pies). Lightly oil your work surface and rolling pin. Then roll each piece into a 5 to 6” round. The round of dough should be thinner rather than thick. If it is too thick you will have a very “bready” pie, but make sure that your round of dough is not too thin to support/ carry the weight of the filling.
Divide the filling also into 8 (or 10) portions.

5. Spread the sesame seeds on a largish plate and place the round of dough on it, in the centre, and press down lightly. This makes for an easy way to coat the Flaounes with sesame seeds.

6. Now place the round on your working surface and put one portion of filling (about a generous tablespoon full of it) in the middle of the round of dough and spread it lightly, leaving about 1” free at the edge.

7. Place a generous tablespoon of filling into the centre of each pastry disc, spreading it slightly. Pull dough up at 3 points to make a triangle, or 4 points to make a square. You should still be able to see the filling in the middle.

8. Press down the sealed points with the tines of a fork. It is important to seal the pies well or they will open up during the second rise/ baking. Do not pinch the flaps together like for Hamantaschen (filled pocket cookies) as they will come apart as they rise.

9. Place the shaped pies on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet, leaving 2 to 3” between them, and let them rise for about 40 minutes. Just before baking them, brush the sides (dough part) with milk (or beaten egg) and bake the Flaounes at 190 C (375F) for 25 to 30 minutes(mine were done in 18 minutes) till they’re done, golden and the cheese filling is puffed up.

10. Let them cool on a rack. Serve them warm or at room temperature. This recipe makes 8 or 10 Flaounes, about the size of one’s palm. These pies keep for two days at room temperature in an airtight container. You can freeze the extras to eat later.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Basil Pesto Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a complete colorful satisfying meal in itself. Sun dried tomatoes add the zing factor to the basil pesto which is used as the base sauce for this salad. This salad can be served warm or cold. This pasta can be prepared ahead of time, as the flavors come in more once the pasta is kept rested for several hours. Lately I am enjoying making pasta, and soups. One reason for inspiring me to do this is the No Croutons event! Thanks Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes and  Lisa Lisa's Kitchen organizer of this event. I adapted the recipe from  One Hot Stove. Sending this salad to No Croutons Required-April 2014

 Serves 2 adults and 2 kids

Sun-dried tomatoes
4-5 Cherry tomatoes (cut halves)
2 yellow Squash (Roasted at 350 F for 15-20 minutes until cooked)
3 cup Pasta (used mixed of Tricolor Fussilli and whole wheat Fussilli)
1-2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoon Basil Pesto  (used stored made)
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Pre heat oven to 350 F , and roast the yellow squash for 15-20       minutes.
2. Boil Pasta per the box instructions (I like the pasta little more than al dente).
3.  While step 1 and 2 are in progress, Take a big bowl, add vinegar, basil pesto, and Parmesan cheese.
4.  Add dried/fresh basil, salt, pepper, cumin powder per taste.
5. Next add the roasted squash, sun-dried tomatoes, cut cherry tomatoes.
6.  Add the boil pasta.
7. Cover and let it sit for few hours before serving.Keep it in fridge if serving cold.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Eggless Date and Walnut Cookies

Dates and Walnuts, a great combination indeed I thought!  I have browsed through many recipes on Divine Taste, and this recipe on date and walnut cookie (made with butter) caught my attention. I had made date cake an year before, and had used oil for date cake. I thought I can try to substitute oil for butter, and also use little milk to bind the dough for these cookies.  S tasted these cookies, and told me to bake these again. So, I believe these cookies passed the test in taste, and texture. These are indeed healthy cookies once I adjusted the quantity of butter. But please note one still needs to eat any snack in moderation. A few times I had some cookies left in my jar when some friends visited us. Whoever tasted these cookies, asked what are these cookies made of.  These cookies have the perfect sweetness, and the added crunch from the walnuts. I had baked these cookies many times, however did not get to post the recipe. I had this cookie recipe in my draft for a while now, and felt motivated to post it after a friend of mine asked for the recipe, Bingo!

Ingredients Adapted from Divine Taste

1 Cup  whole wheat flour
1 cup  dates, chopped (dates take a little time to chop, and I use kitchen knife and cut these on cutting board)
1 Cup  walnuts, chopped (I place the walnuts on cutting board, and use rolling pin to chop)
1 stick butter, melted (original recipe has 2 sticks of butter) OR  OR 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup oil + 2 Tablespoon Butter 
2-3 Tablespoon Milk (helped to make smooth dough)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

( Preheat the oven to 350 F while you prepare the cookie dough)
1. Line the baking tray with parchment paper
2. Sieve the flour, baking powder and baking soda together once.
3. Mix in the chopped dates and walnuts. Stir in the sugar into the melted butter when the butter is hot.
4. After the butter reaches room temperature or cools down, stir in the flour mixture. (Note: I did not heat the oil, used half oil and half butter)
5. Mix the ingredients together until well combined, Add 2 Tablespoon butter to bring the dough together.
6. Make balls with your hands and flatten the balls with your palm.
7. Bake at 350 degree F or 180 C for about 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Eggless Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Lasagna indeed is becoming a family favorite dinner as a one pot baked meal. This time I roasted the vegetables, and made the sauce using sun dried tomatoes, and bit of Indian spices, along with regular Italian herbs. Verdict-My little ones and S ate it happily.  I shared this lasagna with a friend of mine, and she asked for the recipe. Friend's request motivated me to post this roasted vegetable lasagna recipe sooner than later! I modified the recipe to make less quantity  per my baking dish size. It makes 6-7 servings. The recipe may seem elaborate if making lasagna for first time. It does take an hour to assemble the dish together. However, after making the lasagna twice now, I think I have learnt the technique, and can try different variations.

Lasagna is a layered dish: 
1. Prepare a sauce using tomatoes and vegetables of choice or bechamel sauce
2.  Mix the Ricotta and Parmesan cheese with herbs, and salt (or eggs if using) 
3.  Make the layers: Spread the tomato or bechamel sauce as first layer, add layer of noodles, choice of vegetables layer (if using), Cheese layer: Ricotta cheese mixture, sprinkle Mozzarella cheese, and then ending with chosen sauce. Sprinkle on the last layer grated Mozzarella cheese.  
Repeat the layers, add 2 or 3 noodles per your choice. 

I made this lasagna egg less without adding any substitute for egg, and it binded really well. Red Tomato Sauce is the main base for this lasagna recipe. This sauce is versatile and can be used for pasta and pizza base as well. I have started using sun dried tomatoes ( inspired from Lisa Kitchen) in chutneys, and red sauce.  The sun dried tomatoes do enhance the flavor of the sauce.  I have also used sun dried tomatoes to make masala crackers and those are also a hit among family, and friends.
Ingredients  Adapted from here Lisa's Kitchen
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces and halved
1 medium yellow squash, sliced into 1/2-inch piece and halved
10 mushrooms
1/2 cup spinach (thawed, and sauteed separately-Optional, Used as had to finish up)
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Red Pepper flakes-per taste
Salt Per taste
Cumin Powder- 1 teaspoon

5-6 cups tomato sauce 
6 no boil lasagna noodles

1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated 
1 2/3 cups Ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups  Mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Prepare a baking tray with foil, Place the cut vegetables, mushrooms separated on the baking tray. Drizzle olive oil, black pepper, cumin powder, salt, red chili flakes. Roast the vegetables for 30 to 35 minutes until tender and golden brown, stirring them once part way through the cooking time. Reduce the oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl,  stir in the Ricotta with thawed Spinach, Parmesan cheese, and some fresh cracked black pepper, chilli flakes, salt to taste until well blended.  Spread a ladle-full of tomato sauce over baking dish used for preparing the lasagna. Top with 2 lasagna noodles. Evenly spread 1/3 of the vegetables over top, then 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, and then 1/3 of the Mozzarella cheese. Repeat beginning with the lasagna noodles, two more times. Finish with the remaining lasagna noodles and the remaining sauce. Sprinkle over the mozzarella  cheese and cover loosely with foil. Bake in the 350° oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil at this point and bake for another 30 minutes or until the lasagna is bubbling and the cheese is golden brown. Remove from heat and let the lasagna sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Tomato Sauce Recipe Adapted from here Lisa's Kitchen (If running short on time, with little planning sauce can be prepared ahead, refrigerated, and can be used next 3-4 days to make Lasagna)

1 tablespoon olive oil
5 to 6 large tomatoes, diced
10 to 12 sun-dried tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 small green pepper, or any other color (not in original recipe source)
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 to 3 fresh green chilies or jalapeños (optional but highly recommended)
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
A pinch of coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder

Salt to taste

Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in warm water to cover for 15 to 30 minutes. Drain and chop, reserving the soaking liquid. Heat the olive oil in a medium-large saucepan. Add the onions, garlic and carrot, green bell pepper and stir for 5 minutes. Add the red chili flakes and chilies or jalapeños if using, and sauté for a minute or two. Add the dried and fresh tomatoes as well. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Continue to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until the liquid is reduced and the sauce thickens. Add some of the reserved liquid used for soaking the sun-dried tomatoes if required, especially if not using the wine. Remove from the heat and add salt to taste. Transfer the sauce to a blender, or using an electric hand blender, and process until smooth but chunky.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Melon Pan Eggless

The bread  chosen to bake this month is called Melon Pan for the We Knead to Bake (WKTB) Event hosted by Aparna, Diverse Kitchen. Melon Pan when I heard this first I was intrigued what it is. Reading from different sources, it is a Japanese Bread. More about origins of Melon Pan can be read here. I read about the recipe, saw the online video, still was a little intimidated how will I bake this bread. Then, I was wondering if can make it egg less and how will it impact the texture as I could not find any egg less recipe link for this bread. Once I started the process of making it, I felt little confident, yes it can be done. This bread tasted great, soft, and indeed a very different kind of bread. Worth one try at least! In fact there are couple of people in (WKTB) the group who made the egg less version of this bread. I followed the recipe as Aparna provided minus the eggs. I used my stand mixer for kneading the dough, as could multitask other stuff in the kitchen while preparing the dough.

Melon Pan is made in 3 steps. First a bread dough (with yeast) is made in the similar way a bread dough is prepared. Second step involves making a cookie dough. Third step is covering the round balls of bread dough with layer of cookie dough. This video is very helpful to learn the technique. The cookie dough covering over the bread broke a little bit while baking. I think it was caused as I made deep diamond pattern.

 Adapted from A Bread A Day


For the Bread Dough
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra as required)
2 tbsp milk powder
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold water
1 egg, beaten (Used 2 Tablespoon Yogurt)
1 tbsp sugar
25 gm/2 Tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup chocolate chips (Used for 3 rolls)

 For Cookie Dough                                                            
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour                                    
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
A large pinch of salt
60 gm (4 Tablespoon) butter t room temperature
1/4 cup castor sugar (increase to 1/3 cup for sweeter dough)
1 large egg (Used 2 Tablespoon Milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon lemon zest
Castor sugar for dusting (granulated sugar will do too)

Please watch this video, before you start on this bread so you have a good idea on how to shape the Melon Pan. Whisk together the flour, powdered milk, yeast, and salt in the bowl (or the bowl of your machine if using one). In a smaller bowl, add cold water and add this to the flour mixture in the bowl. Knead (on low speed in the machine) till it all come together as a dough and then (on medium speed) until you have a somewhat stiff dough. Add the sugar and knead well. Now add the butter and knead (first at slow speed and then on medium) until the butter is completely incorporated into the dough and the dough becomes smooth and elastic. The dough should well-kneaded to develop the gluten. Shape the dough into a round, and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let it rise till double in volume (about an hour or so).

During this time make the cookie dough. In a bowl, cream the soft butter and sugar till fluffy. Add the milk, and vanilla extract and beat till combined. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and add this to the bowl. Also add the lemon zest. Beat together until just combined. Shape the dough into a cylinder (this will make the dough easy to divide and flatten out later), and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate the dough until required. Now go back to the bread dough. Once it has doubled in volume, place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly grease your baking sheet or line it with parchment. Deflate the dough gently and divide it into 8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a smooth ball like for bread rolls. Work with one portion and keep the others covered so they don’t dry out. Unwrap the cookie dough. It should be reasonably firm now and easy to work with. Slice the cylinder of cookie dough into 8 equal portions. Use two pieces of plastic sheets or cling film to flatten the cookie dough. Place one slice/ round of cookie dough on a piece of plastic sheet/ cling film. Cover with another piece, and using a flat bottomed pan, press down on the dough to flatten it, until it is reasonably thin but not very much so. Carefully take on ball of bread dough (it will have puffed up a little so don’t deflate it), and place the circle of cookie dough on top of it. Gently press the cookie dough edge to the bread dough ball so that it covers the top and sides of the ball, but leaves the bottom open. Gently, holding the covered bread dough by the underside, press it into some castor sugar. Then using a scraper, or the blunt side of a knife, mark the top of the cookie dough side of the bread roll with a cross hatch/ diamond pattern. The pattern should be deep enough (otherwise it will disappear when the bread rises and bakes) without cutting through the cookie dough layer into the bread.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Eggless Spinach Lasagna

Lasagna I always associate with loads of cheese, and eggs, and in fact it is! I do not like cheese much, but S is fond of some Cheese dishes. One among them is Veggie Lasagna. My sister in law visited us once from India, and she wanted to try Lasagna. However most of the places we inquired told Lasagna has meat etc. So she could not get to taste it here. I thought may be sometime I  make lasagna at home. But never got the chance to search or make lasagna.  Nupur One Hot Stove posted a Spinach lasagna recipe last year from Cooks Country, and I was again thinking of making lasagna.  I chose to make this lasagna minus the eggs. I made lasanga with some changes, though was apprehensive how will it be without eggs.  I saw this eggless lasagna recipe on Edible Garden  and thought lasagna indeed can be made eggless. It came out well and was well binded without eggs too. My husband, stated it is good though bland and needed more spices to suit our taste buds. Please feel free to adjust the spice level per your taste. I made another lasagna recipe, and added some Indian spices to add the zing! Stay tuned for another lasagna recipe I tried and that hit the flavors!
Lasagna is a layered dish having tomato sauce sauteed with mix of vegetables (per choice), lasagna sheets, Ricotta, Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese, and these layers are repeated to make 3 layers.

30 ounces frozen chopped spinach (used 20 ounces equivalent to 2 packets) and Also used sauteed mushroom (1/4 cup)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more per taste)
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (used 2 fresh tomatoes and 1 14 oz can)
6 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil (Used dried)
24 ounces (3 cups) Ricotta cheese
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
12 no-boil lasagna noodles (Barilla brand used 6 sheets)
12 oz (3 cups) mozzarella cheese, shredded (used 2 cups)
Salt and Pepper per taste

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Microwave spinach in covered large bowl until completely thawed, about 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Squeeze spinach dry, reserving 1/3 cup liquid. Pulse spinach in food processor (or blender or Mixie) until ground, 8 to 10 pulses, scraping down bowl every few pulses. Wipe out large bowl with paper towels. Transfer spinach to now-empty bowl; set aside.
2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, ½ cup processed spinach, salt and pepper per taste, and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in 3 tablespoons basil; set aside.
3. Process ricotta and reserved spinach liquid in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add Parmesan, remaining 3 tablespoons basil, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and process until combined. Stir ricotta mixture into remaining processed spinach.
4. Cover bottom of the baking dish with 1¼ cups  spinach-tomato sauce (use the baking sheet that you have, and adjust accordingly the number of lasagna sheets used) . Top with 2 noodles and spread one-third of ricotta mixture evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with 2/3 cup mozzarella and cover with 1¼ cups spinach-tomato sauce. Repeat twice, beginning with noodles and ending with sauce. Top with remaining 3 noodles, remaining sauce, and remaining 1 cup mozzarella.
5. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil sprayed with vegetable oil spray and bake until bubbling around edges, about 40 minutes. Discard foil and continue to bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes.

Sending this lasagna to the SpicyTreats Love2Bake weekly event.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Eggless Chocolate Biscotti

I tried chocolate biscotti for the first time when I visisted by brother's home, in US.  That time I did not know that I will be baking biscotti at home!  Biscotti in Italian means baked twice. Biscotti does not taste overly sweet, and the texture is not very soft either. This makes biscotti a perfect light and crunchy snack for tea/coffee. I googled for both eggless and regular recipes to understand how it is made. I do eggless baking though I learnt a lot about biscotti when reading about regular recipes as well.
I made chocolate biscotti following recipe from Spicy Treats. This recipe yields the perfect taste and texture chocolate biscotti. I still have to try the almond biscotti, and will post here once get to bake it. I enjoyed baking this biscotti. My daughter was the star helper helping me prepare the dough, and cut the slices.

All purpose flour   1 and 1/2 cup
Rolled Oats     1/2 cup ( Used quick cooking rolled oats and grinded them to coarse powder)
Cocoa powder   1 Tablespoon
Salt     a pinch
Baking powder   1 tsp
Baking soda  1/2 tsp
Sugar     1/2 cup
Butter (room temperature)   1/2 cup
Vanilla extract   1 tsp
Baking Chocolate  1/4 cup or 2 oz, melted (Used Ghirardelli semisweet)
Milk     2 tbsp ( add if the dough is crumble & dry)
Chocolate Chips    3 Tablespoon

Method (Please refer to SpicyTreats for pictorial steps)
Sieve together  the flour,rolled oats,cocoa powder,baking soda,baking powder,salt in a bowl. Whisk together the butter,sugar until they turn smooth.  Add in the melted chocolate,vanilla extract and give a quick stir.Now slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix everything well, if its hard to knead add milk, if its sticky, add in few flour. Lastly add chocolate chips and knead to a soft dough. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Roll the dough as a log and transfer it to a baking sheet lined over a baking tray. (This dough crumbles very easily, I found it easier to roll the dough on the lined baking sheet itself.) Bake the log for 15-20 minutes. Cool it for 10 minutes. With a sharp knife, slice it diagonally as 1 inch pieces or roughly to get around 15-20 pieces from the log. Bake it again for 5 minutes. Flip the biscottis and bake again for an another 2-3 minutes. Keep a close eye on the oven as the biscotti is baked 2nd time. This can get over baked very fast, and can spoil the crunch and crispiness. Cool it completely before storing in airtight container.

Sending this biscotti to Kids Delight event hosted by Gayathri's Cook Spot and organizer of this event Spice Your Life  Thanks Gayathri and Srivalli.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Eggless Linzer Cookies

I bought the linzer cookie cutter set an year before, thinking I will use it sometime. However it did not happen. Recently, I saw these cookies posted by Nitha on the weekly hosted event Love2Bake by Spicy Treats, and bookmarked the recipe. I showed my daughter the picture of these cookies, and she was very excited to bake and decorate these cookies. I prepared the dough and kept in the fridge overnight , and baked them the next day with my daughter. My kid enjoyed cutting these cookies, and liked to decorate these with jam, and icing sugar. Hope you get to enjoy these too!

I adapted the recipe from  Nitha Kitchen and  Cook's Hideout. Please refer to Nitha's blog for detailed step by step pictures.

All Purpose Flour – 1 cup + 2 tbsp (I used whole Wheat Pastry Flour)
Ground Almonds – 1/2 cup (Used store bought Almond meal)
Sugar – 1/4 cup
Salt – 1/8 tsp
Ground Cloves – 1/8 tsp
Ground Cinnamon – 1/4 tsp
Unsalted Butter – 8 tbsp, (1 stick)Softened at room temperature
Lemon zest or Lemon extract- 1/4 tsp
Orange zest or Orange extract -1/4 tsp
Vanilla Essence –1/2 tsp
Strawberry Jam or any other fruit preserve as required
Powdered Sugar – 1 tsp + extra for dusting

Combine the flours, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, zest, and vanilla essence in a stand mixer or by hand. Add the butter, and mix well until the dough comes together. Don't over do the kneading. Divide the dough in half, then wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour for easy rolling. I refrigerated the dough overnight. Line a baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough 1/8" thick. Cut the shapes using the Linzer cutters. Bake at 325 F for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove the cookies onto a cooling rack and let cool completely before. Spread the solid cookie with the filling and place the cutout cookie on top of the filled cookie.  Note that filling/preserves makes the cookie gain the moisture.  I did not fill on the cookies with preserve. Therefore, I stored some of the cookies in air tight container, and took out to decorated as need basis.

Sending these cookies to Sangee's weekly Monday event  Love2Bake.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Sambhar is the one among the most popular and main meal accompaniment in South Indian cooking. You can find more information on wikipedia. It is a kind of vegetable and lentil stew. I learnt making authentic sambhar recipe from my mother-in-law. I make once a week sambhar in my home. I make the less spicy version for kids by adding less sambhar powder while initially cooking. Then I take out kids portion after everything is cooked, and add more sambhar powder to make spicier version for S.  My mother in law (MIL) makes the sambhar powder at home, and I use the same for making the sambhar at home.  My MIL will boil the daal (lentil)  and the vegetables separately, however I cook everything together.

I am sending this recipe for My Legume Love Affair # 69 hosted this month by Cindystar. This event has been started by Susan of Well-Seasoned Cook, and supervised by Lisa at Lisa's Kitchen.

1 Cup Toor daal (If possible wash and soak an hour or so before cooking)
1 medium size cut onion
1 large tomato cubed in small pieces
1-½ cups mixed vegetables, cute into bite-size cubes (I use mix of beet-root, zuchhini, carrot, beans, summer squash, drumstick, brinjal or any other vegetable available in fridge)
2 Tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seed (methi)
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
Pinch of Asafoetida (hing)
Pinch of turmeric (haldi)
10-12 curry leaves
2 red chillies (optional if need more spicy)

2 tablespoons tamarind pulp  (I make the tamarind pulp and store it in fridge, else you can buy ready made from grocery store or make at home by soaking lemon size tamarind in hot water, and extract the pulp using strainer)
2 teaspoon salt (per taste)    
1-2 Tablespoon sambhar powder (depending on spice level

Heat oil in pressure cooker. First add the seasoning. Add the mustard seeds, once the mustard seeds crackle, add the jeera, hing, curry leaves, methi seeds, and red chilli. Now, add the cut onion. Once the onion begins to brown, add the cut tomato. Add the turmeric and sambhar powder. Now fry these for 1-2 minutes, and add the cut vegetables. Add about 3-4 cups of water, salt per taste, and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles and then reduce the heat to minimum and slow cook for 5-10 minutes. Open the cooker once the steam is over, add the tamarind pulp, and let it boil for 3-4 minutes. Add water to adjust the consistency per taste. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve. This dish goes well with rice, dosa, idli, and serves 4-5 people.

Sambhar Powder Recipe (Source: Mother-in-law)
Please note I am lucky enough to get this powder from my mother in law, however you can easily buy it in Indian stores, or make per the recipe below.
  • Red Chilli  4-5
  • Coriander seeds (Dhania) 2 Tablespoon
  • Astofeida (Hing) a pinch
  • Fenugreek (Methi) seeds 1/4 teaspoon
  • Black pepper 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds (Jeera) 1/2 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds 1/4 teaspoon
Low roast above ingredients. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature, and grind it to find powder. store in an airtight container. Above proportion can be used for making sambar 4-5 times. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Eggless and Natural Red Velvet Cupcakes

I had been thinking of making the red velvet cake for long time. I saw some egg-less recipes but those used color and I was not keen on using any colors. This recipe posted by Anushruti from Divine Taste is surely a winner and keeper in terms of ingredients as well as taste and texture of the cupcakes. Do try this recipe. The secret ingredient Beetroot gives the bight red color can not be felt at all in the cupcake. I asked S if can he make out what did I use for color, but he could not! So try baking these cupcake and play the guessing game for the secret ingredient.

Adapted from Divine Taste

It is important to boil the beets with their skin to get maximum color from them. 

For the Cake
3/4 cup beet puree (directions follow)
1 1/2 cup plain flour (Used whole wheat pastry flour)
4 tsp cocoa powder
11/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk + 1 tbsp vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Take 2 medium sized beets, wash them and cook in a pressure cooked until tender without peeling them. This ensures that you get the maximum colour out of the beets.
Once the beets are cooked through, allow to cool and peel the skin. Chop into pieces and blend to a puree using approximately 4 tbsp water. Line cupcake or muffin pan with cupcake liners.
In a bowl assemble all the dry ingredients the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together and sieve once. Pre heat the oven to 175 C/350 F.
In another bowl put in the milk and vinegar and allow it to sit for about five minutes. Put in the granulated sugar and oil and blend with a blender until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the beet puree and the vanilla extract.
Now put in the sieved dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients and beat until well mixed, about 3 to 4 minutes. With the help of an ice cream scoop or a spoon drop the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. The cupcakes baked in 20 minutes in my oven.

Method for the Frosting

1  8 ounce package cream cheese, at room tempertaure
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
1 to 2 tbsp cream or milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Beat all the ingredients together with an electric mixer or stand mixer until smooth and fluffy.
Makes 15 cupcakes or one 9 inch cake. I halved the recipe for frosting as we like cupcake without icing too. I used Wilton 1M tip for icing the cupcakes.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Minestrone Soup

I received a stainless steel soup pot as a birthday gift from a friend. I used this new vessel to make the minestrone soup. I like the olive garden Minestrone soup, and always wondered how to make it. I read through several online minestrone soup recipes, and adapted the one to suit our taste buds. For the last one year, I have been making this soup at home. I use hard anodized vessels for cooking. This new stainless steel soup pot is now a part of my kitchen collection, and I will be using it more often to make soups.  I had apprehensions that the food may stick/burn and will be hard to clean, however this pot received score of 10/10 from cooking to the cleaning perspective.

Sending this soup for the event No Croutons Required - Vegetarian Soups and Salads hosted by Lisa's Kitchen

Recipe source adapted from here Two peas and their pod

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen green beans
2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes (Used 2 fresh diced tomatoes)
4 cups vegetable broth (used 1 can of vegetable broth)
2 cups water
1 (14 ounce) can cannellini beans  (Used mix of Great Northern beans and Pinto beans, and boiled them in pressure cooker)
1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese-optional, for garnish
(I also added 1 tsp Red Chilli flakes, 1 tsp cumin powder, and pinch of nutmeg)

1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot. Add onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add in zucchini, green beans, and diced tomatoes. Stir in vegetable broth and water. Add beans, macaroni, oregano, and basil. Simmer until vegetables and macaroni are tender-about 35 minutes.

2. Season soup with salt and pepper, additional powders from the ingredients section, and serve warm. Garnish with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Hokkaido Eggless Milk Bread with Tangzhong

I saw this bread on Aparna's My Diverse Kitchen Blog We Knead to Bake Group. I was intrigued to try this bread as the bread dough is a slight variation from usual way I have been baking breads. There is a starter called tangzhong for the dough that is made before the actual dough is prepared. The bread can also be shaped in different shapes and forms. Making the tangzhong may seems laborious. However the end result is a airy, soft and mildly sweet white bread.The bread can be made more sweet, savory, and filled with different fillings. I made the basic bread and next time will try to make different fillings.

Sending this bread for the even Love2Bake hosted by Sangeetha of Spicy Treats.

Recipe Source My Diverse Kitchen

For The Tangzhong (Flour-Water Roux)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk 

For The Dough:
 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1.5 cup whole wheat flour)
 3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp powdered milk
2 tsp instant dried yeast
1/2 cup milk (and a little more if needed)
1/8 cup cream (I used Philedelphia 1/3 less fat brand)
1/3 cup tangzhong (use HALF of the tangzhong from above)
25gm unsalted butter (2 Tablespoons)(cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)
1/2 to 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips if making the chocolate chip rolls 


In summary, the method involves preparing the tangzhong, and let rest it for 2-3 hours. In the meanwhile prepare the bread dough by mixing the bread dough ingredients. Mix the tangzhong with the bread dough ingredients, and knead using hand/mixer in shape of a ball. Cover the dough and let it rise until double in volume. Deflate and shape the dough per instructions, let it rest again until double in volume. Pre heat the oven to 325 F, brush the bread top with milk, and bake for 25-30 minutes. 
Please refer to Aparna's blog for pictorial steps.

The Tangzhong  (Flour-Water Roux)

Whisk together lightly the flour, water and milk in a saucepan until smooth and there are no lumps. Place the saucepan on the stove, and over medium heat, let the roux cook till it starts thickening. Keep stirring/ whisking constantly so no lumps form and the roux is smooth. If you have a thermometer, cook the roux/ tangzhong till it reaches 65C (150F) and take it off the heat. If like me, you don’t have a thermometer, then watch the roux/ tangzhong until you start seeing “lines” forming in the roux/ tangzhong as you whisk/ stir it. Take the pan off the heat at this point. Let the roux/ tangzhong cool completely and rest for about 2 to 3 hours at least. It will have the consistency of a soft and creamy crème patisserie. If not using immediately, transfer the roux to a bowl and cover using plastic wrap. It can be stored in the fridge for about a day. Discard the tangzhong after that.  

The Bread Dough

I made the bread dough using my stand mixer. Mix the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, powdered milk. Next mix the Tangzhong (prepared above) and make a soft dough like made for any bread. The dough will start out sticky but kneading will make it smooth. If the dough feels firm and not soft to touch, add a couple of tsps of milk till it becomes soft and elastic. When the dough is done, you should be able to stretch the dough without it breaking right away.  When it does break, the break should be form a circle. I had to add 1 Tablespoon of milk. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl turning it so it is well coated. Cover with a towel, and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or till almost double in volume.  Place the dough on your working surface. You don’t need flour to work or shape this dough. This recipe makes enough dough to make one loaf (9” by 5” tin), 2 small loaves (6” by 4” tins) or 1 small loaf (6” by 4”) and 6 small rolls (muffin tins). Depending on what you are making, divide your dough. If you are making 1 loaf, divide your dough in 3 equal pieces. If you are making two smaller loaves, divide your dough into 6 equal pieces. I made one loaf. I first divided my dough into three equal pieces to make one big loaf. 

Roll out each portion of the dough with a rolling pin into an oval shape, about 1/8” thick. Take one end of the dough from the shorter side of the oval and fold it to the middle of the oval. Take the other end and fold so it slightly overlaps the other fold.  Roll this folded dough with the rolling pin so the unfolded edges are stretched out to form a rectangle. Roll the rectangle from one short edge to the other, pinching the edges to seal well. Do this with each of the three larger pieces and place them, sealed edges down, in a well-oiled loaf tin. Cover with a towel and leave the dough to rise for about 45 minutes. Carefully brush the top of the loaf with milk and bake it at 170 C (325 F) for about 20 to 30 minutes till it is done (if you tap them they’ll sound hollow) and beautifully browned on top. Let it cool in the loaf pan for about 5 minutes and transfer to a rack till slightly warm or cool. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hot Chocolate Mix

During the Christmas holiday season last year 2013, S just asked me if I can make hot chocolate. I started browsing internet for Hot Chocolate recipes, and liked the one by Nupur One Hot Stove.  Luckily I had all the ingredients at home and took 10 minutes to make the mix. My daughter, S, and I liked the flavors of hot chocolate mix prepared without any preservatives. This is still a hit in our home.  In my opinion, the quality and/or brand of the chocolate makes subtle differences in flavor.

Adapted from One Hot Stove

3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 to 7 oz. chopped semisweet chocolate: about 2 bars or approx 3/4 cup (Used Ghirardelli brand)
2 to 3 oz. chopped milk chocolate: 1 bar or approx 1/3 cup (Used Dairy Milk)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. espresso powder
pinch of salt

I used my Preethi Indian mixer to grind the above ingredients together to a fine powder.
Bring the chocolate to room temperature if chocolate is refrigerated, that will help to chop and grind the chocolate easily. You can grind all the ingredients in food processor. These are approximate quantities for chocolate. One can try adding little more or less per taste. I had made this mix using Hershey's  chocolate, however we liked the taste better with the Chocolate brand listed in Ingredients section above. Please note these are my viewpoints, and do not represent in any way any brand naming. Store the mix in airtight container. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons (quarter cup) of mix to 1 cup warm milk, and enjoy!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Herb and Cheese Pull Apart Bread : We Knead to Bake# 14

For the month of February, Aparna from the We Knead to Bake (WKTB) group asked us to bake any bread of our choice. I have been very keen on to try all the breads this group WKTB baked last year. So I chose the 1st bread this group baked last year. It is called Herb and Cheese Pull Apart Bread. This bread has a very nice different appealing look, and tasted great as well. I adapted the recipe as mentioned below in ingredients section.

Recipe Source My Diverse Kitchen

For the Dough
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour)
1 tsp salt
25gm butter, soft at room temperature (approx 2 Tablespoon)
3/4 to 1 tsp garlic paste
3/4 cup milk (+ a couple of tbsp to brush over the bread)
For the Filling:
15 to 20gm melted butter (2 Tablespoon)
2 tsp dried Provencal or mixed herbs* (Used basil, orgeano, and parsley)
1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
Crushed pepper per taste
Red chilli flakes to taste
Spring onions -1
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese


For pictorial step by step instructions on how to shape the dough, please refer to the recipe source Aparna's blog. I used my Cuisinart stand mixer but you may knead the dough by hand. Basically, first we make the dough using the ingredients, and then let it rise until it doubles in volume. Deflate the the dough, and take a rolling pin to make a flat square shaped dough.  First rub the melted butter on the top of the squared dough, and spread all the other ingredients in filling section on the flattened squared dough. Use the rolling pin again on the filling that is laid over the dough to make sure the filling sticks to the flattened dough. Make 6 strips using pizza-cutter or knife in the dough. Keep all the cut strips one over the top of another. Cut again the stacked 6 strips horizontally into squares, and place these cut squares on the bread loaf pan. Let it rise again for an hour, and then bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 F.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kale, and Leeks Brown Rice with Masoor Daal (Brown Lentils)

I usually buy spinach, and methi leaves as so called green vegetables for cooking. When I saw this recipe on Vaishali's blog, it intrigued me to try this recipe on how does leek and kale taste. First time I made the recipe with basmati rice. The dish came out well and liked by my family members. I did not take any pictures then. This time I prepared the recipe using brown rice, and it still tasted nice with new flavors rich in nutrients, and fiber. I adapted the recipe from here Holy Cow Vegan Recipes. I was not sure how long would it take for brown rice to cook on slow heat. I added more water at the end of cooking, and the brown rice was little mushy in texture. I did not have all-spice powder so I used a pinch of nutmeg, and cloves along with other spices. I used 1 teaspoon of raw jeera (cumin seeds) during saute process for the leeks, and used brown rice for preparing this dish.
Source:  Holy Cow (One-Pot Mujadara with Leeks and Kale)
2 leeks, cleaned thoroughly. Trim the roots and slice the white and green parts into thin ribbons (use a large onion if you can’t find leeks)
1 cup brown lentils (whole masoor, sabut masoor). Place in a microwave-safe bowl with enough water to cover the lentils by an inch, then microwave for about seven minutes. You can do this while chopping your vegetables. Drain the lentils.
¾ cup basmati or other long-grain rice (Used brown rice)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp allspice powder (used a pinch of nutmeg and cloves)
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp cayenne pepper (used red chilli powder)
2 bay leaves
1-inch stick of cinnamon
Salt to taste
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cups leafy greens (use any combination of vegetables), finely chopped  (I used kale)

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the leeks and saute, stirring, over medium-high heat until the leeks are golden and crispy. If you use too little oil the leeks won’t crisp up. Remove half the leeks to a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt while still warm. To the pot with the remaining leeks, add the garlic and bay leaves, stir for about 30 seconds, and then add the cumin, allspice and red chilli powder. Stir for a few seconds to coat with the oil and then add the rice. Saute for a few seconds until the rice turns opaque. Add the drained lentils, cinnamon, and salt to taste. Stir well, then add 4 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to low until the water just simmers. Place a tight-fitting lid on the pot and let it steam away for 15 minutes. Open the pot, arrange the greens on top in an even layer, cover, and cook for five more minutes. Turn off the heat. Let the dish stand at least 10 minutes before opening the pot. Garnish with the reserved leeks and serve hot. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Oatmeal Buttermilk Bread

I stumbled upon this bread recipe with oats as main ingredient, while looking for whole wheat bread. Oats add a very nice soft texture to the bread.  I adapted the recipe using more of whole wheat flour, and less of all purpose flour. I have made the bread using the exact recipe, and sometimes modified version using less oil, and sugar. In all instances the bread comes out good in taste in all methods.  So one can tweak the ingredients per one's taste buds. This bread recipe yields 2 loafs one big and one small. The 2 loafs go easily for my family for a week. And several occasions I share one of the loaf with friends.
Hope you get to enjoy this too.

Recipe has been adapted from here (Clockwork Lemon)

Recipe from Leslie Mackie's Macrina
Ingredients, and Steps
Step one:
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup boiling water
-combine and stir until the water has been absorbed
Step two:
2 tsp yeast
1/4 cup warm water
-combine in mixers bowl, let sit for five minutes then stir to dissolve
Step Three:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (it turns out great with regular milk, I have used the unflavored yogurt for buttermilk substitute, and also sometimes used mix of both milk and yogurt)
1/2 cup canola oil (I use 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup)
- I usually combine these in a bowl while I let the yeast sit
(I used more of whole wheat and less of white flour, so have modified this below)
1 cup white flour + 1/2 - 3/4 cup extra (even with 3/4 cup dough should be very sticky)
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp kosher salt
- add these to the mixing bowl with the yeast in it. Mix the flour and yeast on low with the paddle attachment while you pour in the milk, oil, and sugar mixture
add the oats and mix until combined
-switch to the dough hook and knead for 15-20 minutes. The dough will be sticky.. very sticky. Resist the urge to dry it out with more flour. I usually turn the dough over by hand half way through the kneading to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom and not getting kneaded. (the dough will stick to your hands while you do this. don't worry its fine)
Step Four
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to double (one hour or so)
Step Five
Gently flatten the dough into a 12x6 inch rectangle. Cut this in half and then pat into two slightly bigger rectangles. Fold the two sides to overlap (like folding a letter) then roll the dough away from you to form a loaf. Flip the loaf over and let it sit on its seam for a minute. Repeat with second piece
 Place the formed loaves on  trays or loaf pan. Cover in plastic and let rise for 30-45 minutes. Preheat the over to 385. For 15-20 minutes bake at 385 F, and once the bread starts settling in, cover the bread with foil, and  bake for additional 20-25 minutes at 350 F until done.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Eggless Oreo Cookies

I went to a friend's home today, and my daughter got to eat Oreo cookies. After returning from my friend's home, my daughter asked me to buy Oreo cookies for her. I generally do not buy these cookies, as I mostly bake cookies at home for my kids. Though my husband likes to buy these Oreo cookies while going on any fun trip.  Most of the time the big packet would go wasted.  This triggered me to try making these oreo cookies at home.  I googled for eggless Oreo cookies recipe. and finally adapted the recipe from here Gayathri's Cook Spot.

The changes I made to the recipe is to use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour. I had to bake the cookies for approx 15 minutes, but this can vary. The dough was hard to roll and cut, so I made round shape cookies with hand. The first batch of cookies was uneven. The second batch was atleast better in shape, though still not perfect. I placed the cookies in airtight container in the fridge per the notes in Gayathri's blog. Hope you get to make and enjoy these cookies for your kids too!

Sending this to Baked Treat for Kids event hosted by Seduce Your Tastebuds , Thanks PJ
Thanks Srivalli for the Kids Delight Post

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Black Chana (Chickpea) Recipe

Kala Chana as it is called in local Indian Hindi language is one kind of legumes that can be cooked in various ways. It is very rich in protein. It is available generally in Indian grocery stores in United States. One can make lentil soup with kala chana, make it as part of salad, and/or make main dish in form of curry.  The trick is to make sure to boil this legume properly. Per my mom, best way to cook this chana is to soak overnight or 6-8 hours before cooking. Soaking kala chana not only doubles the volume but also reduces the cooking time. If one is pressed on time, add water to the chana in pressure cooker, let it boil on medium high heat for 5 minutes, turn off the heat. Let the chana sit covered for approx an hour and then boil as directed below.

Kala Chana/Black Chickpea

There are different ways of making the curry/gravy dish with black gram. One way is to saute in onion-tomato-ginger-garlic paste, and masalas listed below, and pressure cook together the soaked chana with the prepared gravy. 2nd way is to boil the chana and make the gravy separately and then mix/prepare both together as the main dish. Both the above methods give good results. It depends on one style and preference of cooking. My kids love chana in the boiled version, so I saute boiled black chickpea with olive oil, cumin powder, salt, and black pepper as a quick accompaniment for  rice/chapati.

Pressure cooker method:  Soak the chana in atleast 4 cups of water for 6-8 hours. Place the soaked chana with soaked water in pressure cooker, and add approx 3-4 cups of water. If the pressure cooker whistles, cook the chana on medium-high heat for approx 5 minutes, and let the pressure cooker give 3-4 whistles. Then reduce the heat to medium low, and cook for 40-45 minutes. Turn off the heat after 40 minutes, and let the steam go off by itself. This much time is needed to boil the chana to make sure the chana is cooked properly.  During the time chana is getting boiled one can prepare the gravy.

If not using pressure cooker, boil the chana on medium high heat, and then cook on slow heat for approx 1 hour on low medium heat, stirring in between, and adding water as needed until fully boiled.

Ingredients (Mom's recipe)
1 Cup Black Chana
1 medium size onion
1 medium size tomato
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
1 Tablespoon grated garlic
1/8 teaspoon asafetida (hing)
2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon haldi ( turmeric)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon(or per taste) red chili powder
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon amchur or use l tsp lemon
1 teaspoon garam masala
3 Tablespoon Oil
1 tablespoon chooped cilantro to garnish

Chop the onion into small pieces, tomato can either be chopped or pureed using grater. Similarly chop/grate the ginger and garlic. Add oil the pan, add jeera, asafetida, add onion, let it fry, add ginger-garlic, add tomato, coriander powder, haldi, red chili powder, and garam masala. Once the masala is cooked, mix the boiled chana in it. Add salt. Use a spatula to mash some of the boiled  black chickpea well in the gravy. This extra step gives nice taste to curry, and also thickens the curry. Simmer for few minutes, and garnish with lemon/amchur, cilantro, and pinch of garam masala. Serve with rice/chapati.

Sending this to the monthly event My legume love affair # 68 hosted by Lisa thanks, and thanks creator of this event Susan 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Onion Crackers

These days, I have been looking to try different varieties of salty/savory crackers. Many recipes on savory crackers have lot of cheese, and butter. I found this recipe at Gayathri's Cook Spot that has onion as one of the main ingredients. Initially I was skeptical to add onion however once baked, I realized that the onions give these crackers a slightly sweet yet salty taste. My friends and S who tasted these crackers could not stop at one:)

Adapted from here (Gayathri's Cook Spot)

Wheat Flour-1cup
Quick Cooking Oats-1/2cup
All Purpose Flour-1/2cup
Olive Oil-1/2cup
Onion-1(finely chopped; used red onion)
Green Chilly-2(finely chopped)
Baking Powder-1tsp
Black Sesame Seeds-4tsp (I used white sesame seeds- 3tsp)

Pre heat the oven to 350F. Mix all the ingredients and make a soft dough like a round ball. Next roll the dough on a flat surface, and cut in round shapes using round cookie cutter. Place these round crackers on baking try and prick with fork all over. Bake for 15 minutes and then flip to cook on the other side for again 15 minutes. Once you see the golden brown color, it gives the signal that crackers are ready to be taken out from the oven. These crackers once cooled can be stored in air tight container for 3-4 days.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Masala Crackers

I have been making sweet cookies for a while, though have not posted any recipe on it yet. Stay tuned it will come shortly. Two years before I made this savory crackers during Christmas time from the blog Tadka Pasta. My friends and family who tasted these crackers that time liked it very much.  For long time I did not make these crackers again. This year I made these crackers already thrice, and everyone who tried it says; it taste yum! Curry leaves and sun dried tomato add the zing factor for these savory cookies. You can increase the spice level per your taste.

Adapted the recipe from here (Tadka Pasta)


4 green chillies
2 Sprigs curry leaves
6 Sun dried tomato halves
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1¼ Teaspoon salt
¼ Teaspoon pepper
¼ Teaspoon red chilli powder
½ Teaspoon baking soda
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
¼ Cup olive oil
4 Tablespoon thick yogurt

Mix all the ingredients, and keep the dough refrigerated for 3-4 hours. This helps to cut crackers evenly, and cause less crumbs while cutting the dough.  Pre heat the oven to 350 F. Place the cut cookies on baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on how crisp you would like these crackers. I baked the crackers for 25 minutes for the crispier taste. Baking for 20 minutes yield soft crackers.