Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Nankhatai - Indian shortbread cookies

S made these amazing Nankhatai for Christmas.  As kids, we got to eat them a couple of times in a year, when my grandfather sent them by parcel all the way from Mangalore. We knew them then as Narayan Katar, don't ask me why they were called that! The transportation by lorry took a long, long time, but well worth the wait.  The recipe link is from Ruchik Randap, and S made only slight modifications.

Ingredients:  Makes 16 medium ones/ 20-22 smaller ones

Maida or APF - 150 gms
Powdered Sugar - 125 gms  (granulated sugar that is powdered)
Melted Ghee - 100 gms
Salt - 1/8 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp

Few strands of saffron, Cardamom powder if you like the flavour

Take the melted ghee (ensure that it is not too hot) in a bowl and add powdered sugar gradually, little at a time, till well mixed.
Sift the flour, baking soda and salt.
Add to the ghee and sugar mixture.
Blend it well.
If the mixture is paste like add a bit of flour.  It should be kneading consistency.
Lightly knead the dough till smooth.  Place in bowl, cover with clingfilm and keep aside 4 hours.
The dough might become firmer now.  If so, gently knead and make it soft and pliable.
Preheat oven to 180 fan
Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Divide dough into equal sized portions.  Roll each portion to a ball and gently flatten the sides (only).  The centre should be like a raised dome. This will enable the cracks to form on surface.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes.  Keep checking. Do not over bake or brown .
Remove from oven and let them cool on tray for another 15 minutes, after which they can be gently transferred to a wire rack till cool.

Store in airtight container.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Jaffa Loaf

This is a easy cake recipe from the BBC Good Food.  It had good reviews and I made a few changes more because I ran short of a few ingredients.  The family loved it.  Do try it !

The original recipe is here.  The changes I made are in italics at the end of the recipe.


Butter - softened - 140 g
Self raising flour - 200 g
Baking powder -  1 1/2 tsp
Golden caster sugar - 200 g
Eggs - 3
Milk - 6 tbsp
Finely grated zest of Orange - 1

Orange juice - 3 tbsp
Golden caster sugar - 50g
Dark chocolate - 50 g

Butter and line the base of a loaf tin.  Oven set at 180C

Place ingredients for the cake in a bowl - butter, self raising flour, baking powder, caster sugar, eggs, milk and zest.

Beat with hand whisk or a wooden spoon for 3-5 mins till light and fluffy. 

Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top.

Place in oven 40-50 mins till golden brown and done.

As the cake is baking heat the orange juice and sugar gently, till the sugar is dissolved.

Cake with the orange marmalade topping

Once the cake is done, remove from oven and spoon the orange mixture on it.  Leave it in the tin till it cools. Then remove and keep on wire rack.

Prepare the chocolate.  Place in bowl and melt over simmering water or in a microwave as per instructions on the pack.

Drizzle over cake and leave to set. 

My changes

I had salted butter.  I used 100 g ( ran short of butter) and 40 g of refined oil
Since I used salted butter, I used plain flour instead of self raising flour.  Take a cup of plain flour, add  1 1/2 tsp baking powder and omitted the salt)
Additional baking powder as per the recipe wasalso added
I used zest and a teaspoon of candied peel
Instead of orange juice, I used orange marmalade for the additional peel that it contained to which a little water was added and gently heated till it dissolved.  Poked a few holes in the cake and allowed it to seep inside and also coated the surface.
Plain chocolate was used instead of dark chocolate and I did not drizzle it but applied it to coat the top.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sindhi Kadhi

I had this at a restaurant well known for the Sindhi cuisine. For me, kadhi has always been a yoghurt based gravy and this one had none.  It was tangy and tasty.  A search online led me to Sindhi Rasoi  and the chickpea flour based gravy with a whole lot of vegetables turned out delicious.  Just what you should have with a bowl of rice.  And surprisingly while it may not be the traditional accompaniment, it was good with roti too. Also, as Alka states, this is a dish that can be made in large quantities, ideal when you have guests.


Cluster beans - few - cut digit size
Potatoes - 2 - in cubes
Ladies finger ( okra) - finger length - 8-9 - slit and fry in a little oil
Drumstick - 1-2 nos - digit size
Cauliflower florets - few
Bottle gourd - - few pieces

Gram flour (besan) - 2 tbsp
Mustard - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek (methi) seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cumin (jeera) - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - few
Green chilies - 2-3 nos
Ginger - a small piece
Tomatoes - 2-3 nos ( grated)
Tamarind paste - 1 tbsp
Chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp

In a pressure cooker * heat a little oil add curry leaves, mustard, cumin, fenugreek seeds.  Allow the mustard to splutter

Add gram flour and cook on low flame with constant stirring, as the flour turns brown, do not burn, add chili powder, grated tomatoes, keep mixing. Add water if required at this stage.

Add turmeric powder, ginger, green chilies and salt.  Close the cooker .  Let it come to full pressure and then simmer for ten minutes under pressure.

Allow to cool.  Open the cooker.  Add all vegetables except the okra and once again bring to full pressure and take off heat.

Now add the fried okra and tamarind paste.  Simmer for a few minutes till raw taste is gone.

Garnish with coriander and serve with hot rice.

*This can also be made in a thick bottomed pan

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Instant Idli

This is a useful recipe.  Requires no fermentation. And instant. The idlis are soft and fluffy and remain so even when cold. This is a recipe that was posted by Roopa Bhandari.


Idli Rava - 1 1/2 cup
Poha ( Beaten Rice) Thin variety - 1 cup*
Sour curd/Buttermilk - 1 cup
Baking soda/ Eno salt - a large pinch
Salt to taste

Wash the poha, and add the beaten curd/buttermilk to it.  Keep aside
It will become soft. Mash to a smooth paste.

Wash the idli rava.  Add to the mashed poha mixture
Add salt to taste
Enough water to bring it to a idli batter consistency
And the soda
Mix well.
Keep aside for 5-10 minutes

Meanwhile grease the idli moulds
Spoon the batter into them
Steam for about 7-10 minutes in steamer or a cooker without the weight.

Remove the mould from steamer. Cool a bit and spoon out the steamed idlis.
Have with chutney/sambar/podi

* You can use the thick variety of poha, but you may then need to grind it to a paste. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Corn Flour Halwa

If you do not mind a slightly soft textured sweet, this is just the one for you. Easy to make. Not much fat in it. And quick.  Just make sure you add more nuts than I have and it would taste even better adding to a crunch to the soft textured sweet.  If you wish, this can be also served in a bowl instead of allowing it to solidify and cut into pieces.  Recipe from Uma's Kitchen

Ingredients: Serves 6 persons

Corn flour - 1/2 cup *
Sugar - 1 1/2 cup **
Water - 1 and 1 1/2 cup ( 2 1/2 )
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Cashewnuts - 1/4 cup - roughly chopped
Cardamom powder - a big pinch
Food colour - large pinch

Take about half tbsp of ghee and fry the chopped cashew to a golden brown
Keep aside.

Grease a plate with ghee and keep ready

In a bowl, mix the corn flour, colouring and 1 1/2 cup of water.  Ensure there are no lumps. Keep aside

In a heavy bottomed pan or non stick pan, take the sugar and add the balance one cup water. Keep on heat. Let the sugar dissolve completely and begin to get sticky and thickish.  ( do not have to check string level)

At this stage, take the corn flour mixture, mix again and add to the sugar solution that is still on the heat.
Keep stirring continuously as you add.
Continue to stir.
It will form some glossy parts scattered in the mixture as you keep mixing. Continue till it gets thick. The colour will change and turn glossy.

At this stage add the ghee and keep stirring.  The mixture will boil up and also come together. Getting more glossy. Add the cardamom powder, cashew bits.  Stir in. Turn off the heat.

Pour into the greased plate.  Allow to cool for about 1-2 hours. Cut into pieces.

* you  can also add flavoured custard powder instead of corn flour
** you can add a little less sugar as I did.  It tasted sweet enough
You can add any kind of nuts and a little more than 1/4 cup will add great texture to the halwa

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Ballymaloe - the no knead Irish Brown Bread

I quite like the kneading process in bread making. All that pull, stretch action is quite therapeutic and besides that sense of achievement when you knock the loaf out of a tin and slice to find it as good if not better than the store bought ones. I however loved the look of the Ballymaloe bread.  I wish I could use the whole wheat flour that we would get from the mill but settled for the packaged whole wheat flour that we use for rotis. The bread , the recipe is from David Lebovitz, was invented to simplify the process of bread making . This is indeed a simple, easy recipe for anyone to gain confidence in baking breads and using yeast.

By using the packaged wheat flour, the texture Lebovitz explains can change.  The dough as he said was not coarse, but a little sticky.  And I did have a problem in getting the baking parchment off the baked bread as we remove it from the tin half way through the baking process.  The baking with the loaf out of the tin gives it a crispy exterior.  

                ( The bread knife in the picture is over 50 years old :-)  )

I halved the following recipe - my comments in italics

Whole wheat flour-stone ground - 400 g  (I used the packaged wheat flour)
All purpose flour - 50 g
Salt - 1 tsp
Tepid water - 150 ml + 275 ml (you may need more when you use ordinary wheat flour)
Dark molasses - 1 tbsp or 1 tsp treacle ( I used treacle)
Fresh yeast - 30 g ( I used dry yeast - 2 1/2 tsp - that is approximately half the quantity)

Mix the flours with salt in a bowl
Pour 150 ml into a small bowl and stir in the molasses, and then add the yeast, stirring a few time.
Let it stand till it foams - 10 mins or less depending on the warmth of the kitchen

Pour the yeast mixture and the remaining 275 ml water into the flour.  Do not stir till all the water is added or it will form lumps.
Stir till a batter is formed ( like an oatmeal consistency)
It may need a little more water if the dough is too stiff - that is if you have used the packaged wheat flour
However if you have used whole wheat flour like I have the dough will be sticky and rather wet.
Let it stand about 10 minutes
Grease well a 9" loaf tin and line the bottom with parchment paper
Scrape the dough into the prepared tin.
Smooth the top with a spatula or if sticky moisten the hand and pat the top
Cover over lightly with a kitchen towel.
Let it rise till it has almost reached the top of the pan ( about 20 minutes)

Just before that preheat the oven to around 230C
Bake for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, decrease the heat to 200C
Run a knife around the outside of the bread to release it from the tin, tip it out of the pan
Remove the parchment paper
Place the loaf upside down directly on the baking rack and bake for another 15 minutes or till done.
The bread is done when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow.

Cool on the rack totally, before you slice

The bread can be eaten fresh.  Or toasted. With butter, jam and cheese.  It even tasted better a day later. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Konkani Cuisine - Sanna Polo

There is an amazing group on facebook that shares Konkani cuisine.  This recipe is from the site. Perhaps the Sanna Polo can be described as a savoury pancake made with rice and lentils with chopped onions and cabbage.  Konkani cuisine without coconut is rare and this one is no exception.  Not the usual amount, but it is there nevertheless.  Though, it is a polo or a dosa, it is generally consumed as a side dish with rice and dalitoy ( konkani dal dish ).  Here chopped cabbage and onions have been added, but these can be substituted with greens, snake gourd seeds and what have you.  Arhar lentils can be replaced with another. Other spices may be added.  Experiment and enjoy the taste.

Ingredients:  Makes about 7-8 small polos

Rice - 1/2 cup
Tuvar Dal - ( split pigeon pea) - 1/2 cup
Grated coconut - a fistful
Roasted red chilies -few - spicier the better
Tamarind - 10 gms or half teaspoon of paste
Salt to taste.
Chopped cabbage - 1/4 cup
Chopped onion - 1/4 cup
Curry leaves - a few
Oil - for shallow frying

( Feel free to experiment with the above quantities and vary the ingredients)

Soak rice and dal for at least 3 hours
Grind with coconut, chilies, tamarind and salt to a thickish fine paste.  This is like an idli batter.

Add chopped onions, cabbage and a few shredded curry leaves.

Heat a flat pan.
Add the batter and spread with either a spoon or use your fingers to flatten it.
Pour oil along the polo/dosa
Allow it to brown on the underside.  Flip over and let the other side brown
Remove from pan.
Serve with hot rice and dalitoy.

While that may be a traditional way to eat the sanna polo, let me tell you it can be eaten at any time of the day.  Enjoy !

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Baby Potato - Bihari Style

This is a recipe that I watched on a TV show presented by Chef Ajay Chopra, who said this was a typical Bihari dish.  It looked interesting enough for me to try.  The ingredients like Kalonji, Fennel are not normally used in South Indian cuisine and it has a different taste altogether.  And sometimes different tastes are appreciated as this one was.  We had it with rotis, but I think it would be great with a bowl of hot rice and dal.

The dish is simple to make except for the peeling of the little potatoes.  Reminded me of my time comic character Sad Sack peeling potatoes in the army :-)

Baby Potato - 300 g

Methi (fenugreek seeds) - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Kalonji - 1/4 tsp
Fennel seeds ( Somph) - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida (hing) - large pinch
Green chili - 1 large

Coriander powder  -1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/4 tsp
Chili powder - to taste
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves for garnish

Oil -3-4 tbsp

Peel the little potatoes.  Parboil. ( cook till just tender - I went a little beyond )
Drain and keep

In a wok, heat the oil.
Add methi, cumin, kalonji, fennel and asafoetida.
Sauté .  Add the parboiled potatoes

Allow to fry with a slit green chili on low heat till turning golden.

In a small bowl, take the powders - coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt.  Add a little water and make a solution.
Add to the potatoes.
And the garam masala.
Mix. Keep covered a little while, stirring carefully now and then.  If required a little more oil.

Remove from heat. Place in bowl
Garnish with coriander leaves.

I think a squeeze of lime would also add a zing to the dish.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The English Teacake

The teacake in England is more like a bun and less of a cake. It is a light yeast based bun with dry fruits.  Flat and circular.  And the recipe of Paul Hollywood has dry fruit, mixed peel and cinnamon powder giving it an amazing flavour.  Most times, the teacake is split, toasted and buttered generously. This was better than the store bought teacake.  Just out of the oven, it tasted great !  And they say it tastes even better the next day.

Ingredients: - I got 10 medium sized teacakes

All purpose flour - 350 g ( the recipe called for strong white bread flour)
Salt - 7 g
Caster sugar - 42 g
Cinnamon powder - 3/4 tsp
Instant yeast - 7 g
Unsalted butter, softened - 35 g
Water - 210 ml
Vegetable oil for kneading
Sultanas - 70 g
Mixed peel - 70 g ( I used a little less)
Egg - 1 beaten for glaze

Take a large mixing bowl, place the flour in it.
Add the salt, sugar and cinnamon to one side of the bowl and yeast to the other.
Add the butter and three quarters of the water.  Turn the mixture with your fingers
Continue to add all water ( if required a little more - I didn't need to ) - the dough should be soft but not soggy.
Use the  mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep gathering the mixture till it forms a rough dough.

Coat a work surface with little vegetable oil, tip the dough onto it and knead for 5-10 minutes till the dough forms a soft, smooth skin. Then put it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled in size for at least an hour or more.

Prepare two baking trays with parchment

Once the dough has doubled, tip the sultanas and mixed peel on top of the risen dough and work them into it.
After a minute, put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the fruit is thoroughly mixed in.

Divide the dough into equal pieces.  Shape each into a ball and use a rolling pin or fingers to flatten it to a round bun about a cm thick.  Space them apart on the prepared trays.  Put each tray into a clean plastic bag and leave to rise for about an hour or once again till they double in size.

Meanwhile heat the oven to 200C.
Bake the teacakes for 10-15 cms till risen and golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Carrot Cake

This recipe I have tried a number of times.  I feel James Martin recipes are fail-proof.  I have made the cake with the icing, and without.  With whole meal SRF and all purpose SRF.  With and without the nuts.  It is totally up to you. If you do put the icing, chill the cake, it tastes even better.

Ingredients -
Orange juice and zest  - 1 orange
Sultanas - 50 g
Sunflower oil + extra for greasing - 150 ml
Eggs - 2
Brown sugar - 140 g
Self raising flour - 170 g
Ground cinnamon powder - 2 tsp
Mixed spice powder - 2 tsp
Soda bi carb - 1 tsp
Carrots , coarsely grated - 140 g
Nuts ( optional - walnut) - 50 g

Icing -
Soft cheese - 200 g
Butter - 50 g
Icing sugar, sifted - 85 g
Cinnamon - pinch

This step - try doing it the night before - I never have - put the orange zest and juice in bowl with the sultanas.  Or stir in the zest, juice, sultana together and microwave for a minute and keep for a few minutes to soak.

Grease and line the base of a loaf tin ( 2lb tin)
Whisk the oil and eggs

Heat the oven to 180 C or 160C fan.

Mix the sugar, flour, mixed spice and cinnamon powder, soda bicarb in a large mixing bowl
Add the sultanas soaked in the juice and zest, grated carrot, nuts and oil-egg mixture into the dry ingredients.
Thoroughly mix with wooden spoon.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour or till skewer comes clean.
If you find the top of the cake beginning to brown too quickly, loosely cover with foil
Cool the cake in the tin.

Once cool, remove from tin.

Icing - with electric whisk, beat soft cheese, butter, icing sugar and cinnamon till smooth.  Spread over the top of the cake.  Decorate with walnut halves.


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