Monday, October 18, 2010

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake

Last week, I got this lovely book from the library - Great Cakes from Good Housekeeping. It had the loveliest recipes, really well explained. The most enticing one was called The Ultimate Chocolate Cake. And I HAD to try it. I followed the recipe to the letter and trust me, all that effort was well worth it. I'm definitely making this one again!

  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 375g plain chocolate
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g ground almonds
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 75g fresh brown breadcrumbs
  • 3tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 125g white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 125g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 142 ml carton double cream
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C(160°C fan ocen) mark 4. Grease a 20.5 inch square cake tin and baseline with greaseproof paper. (I used a silicone tray. Saves you the trouble of using paper and greasing.)
  • Break 225g plain chocolate into a bowl and melt. Cool for 10 minutes. Click here to know the right way to melt chocolate. 
  • Meanwhile, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the cooled melted chocolate with the almonds, egg yolks, breadcrumbs and cocoa powder.
  • Whisk the egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks. Fold into the chocolate mixture with the chopped chocolate.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes, covering loosely with foil if necessary. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  • While the cake is cooling, place the remaining 150g plain chocolate and the cream in a bowl and melt. (I heated the cream to almost boiling point, switched off the stove and added the chocolate. The chocolate melts by itself and this makes the perfect glazing according to me.) Cool for about 30 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour over the cake to cover and swirl with a palette knife, then leave to cool. Cut up into squares, store in an airtight container for up to five days.

I don't feel like returning the book. 

Sausage and Egg Pie

Something to make on a very lazy day - requires minimum effort and tastes good too! 

For the pastry 

I needed an easy recipe for making the pastry for the pie. Not a big fan of playing around with butter. Searched online and found this really simple way to make butter-less pastry


  • 225g flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 4 tbsp mild salad oil
  • 1/2 beaten egg
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • If you're making something sweet, add a tablespoon of caster sugar
  • Put all the ingredients into a lidded plastic box and shake it for at least a minute. When you take off the lid, you will find a lumpy mixture; form it into a ball with your hands, and roll it out on a floured surface.
  • Place the rolled out pastry onto a pie dish. I didn't have one and used a loaf tin instead.
For the filling

  • Onion - 1 sliced
  • Green Pepper(Capsicum) - 1 sliced
  • Chicken Sausages sliced- 2 cups 
  • Eggs - 4
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Heat oil and saute the onions, green pepper and sausages till cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Add chilli powder if you want extra heat. 
  • Once done, remove from flame and cool.
  • Beat the eggs, add salt and pepper and mix with the sausages.
  • Pour this into the pie dish lined with pastry.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Slice and serve!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Peri-Peri Chicken with mushrooms and potato wedges

This here is something wonderfully easy to make but tastes like you've spent ages on it. All you need is a readymade peri-peri sauce. I use Nando's medium peri-peri sauce which you get to buy in most supermarkets.

  1. Chicken thighs and legs - 2
  2. Button mushroom - 100 gm
  3. Potatoes - 2 cut in wedges
  4. Chopped garlic/Garlic paste - 2 tbsp
  5. Paprika powder/Pepper powder - 1 tsp
  6. Peri-Peri sauce 
  7. Dried oregano
  8. Olive oil
  9. Salt

The chicken:
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  2. Make small slits on the chicken before marinating in the peri-peri sauce, paprika, garlic and salt. Leave for half an hour.
  3. Place in a roasting pan and cover with kitchen foil. Poke the foil with a knife a few times to allow steam to escape.
  4. Place the pan in the oven for 45 minutes.
  5. Once done, drain the liquid in the pan to a saucepan. Simmer till reduced to a thick sauce. IF necessary, add corn flour to thicken.
  6. Pour the sauce on the chicken before serving.
  1. Heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in a pan.
  2. Add chopped garlic and saute till fried.
  3. Add the mushrooms and 2 tbsps of peri-peri sauce.
  4. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Cook on medium heat till the mushrooms are done.
  6. Serve.
Potato wedges:
  1. Boil the wedges in salted water till just done so they hold their shape and do not get mashed. 
  2. Drain the wedges.
  3. In a bowl, mix a bit of of olive oil and dried oregano.
  4. Toss the potatoes in the oil and then place in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes till crisp.
  5. Serve with the chicken and mushrooms.

Happy Eating! :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pudding Time!

Easy tasty pudding made in minutes!

  1. Tinned sliced pineapple - 6 slices chopped roughly
  2. Milk - 2 cups (500 gm)
  3. Condensed milk - 1 tin
  4. Sugar - 3 tbsps
  5. Agar agar or gelatin - 6 gms
  6. Sliced almonds to garnish
  1. In a saucepan, cook the chopped pineapples with 2 tablespoons of sugar till all the water evaporates. Layer the bottom of the serving bowl with this.
  2. Mix the milk, condensed milk and 1 tbsp sugar in a pan and heat. Put off the flame just as it comes to the boil.
  3. Dissolve the agar agar or gelatin in a little water and add this to the milk mixture.
  4. Pour this mixture over the pineapple bits and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate till set.
That's it! And trust me, it's really yummy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mom's caramel cake

My mom has always baked this cake ever since I can remember. I even celebrated a birthday in school cutting this cake with my best friend. It has been a family favorite for years and is the simplest of recipes to prepare. I've called it a caramel cake because some of the sugar is caramelized before adding it to the cake mixture. And this is how you do it.

  1. Flour - 3/4 cup
  2. Sugar - 3/4 cup powdered
  3. Sugar - 1/2 cup for caramelizing
  4. Unsalted butter - 50 grams
  5. Eggs - 3
  6. Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
  7. Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
  8. Powdered cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg - a pinch of each 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Caramelize the sugar. To do this, heat the sugar in a bowl over medium heat till it melts and turns a dark reddish brown. When that happens, remove from heat and add a dash of water and mix well. This stops the caramelized sugar from solidifying. Be careful when you add the water. There will be a lot of spluttering. 
  3. Beat the eggs, butter and powdered sugar on medium speed till creamy.
  4. Mix the flour, baking powder and spices and fold it into the egg mixture. 
  5. Add the caramelized sugar and vanilla essence and mix well.
  6. Pour into a greased baking tin and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Take out, cool and serve. 
This works brilliantly well as an accompaniment to your evening tea and also with some ice cream!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Homemade buns

For the Easter holidays, we went on a trip to London, which meant quite a long drive. So on the day we were supposed to leave, I packed a few burger sandwiches for the road. But, we ended up postponing the trip by one day and had those burgers for dinner that night instead. The next day, I was out of bread so opted to make buns instead of walking all the way to the store. :) I know each one is of a different size but it was fun to make and tasted quite decent too.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • In a small saucepan, heat milk, water and butter until very warm.
  • In a large bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix milk mixture into flour mixture, and then mix in egg. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  • Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape into smooth balls, and place on a greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Cover, and let rise for 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Bake at 200 degrees C for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


It began with a sudden craving for Za'atar. And when I checked out the recipe online, the main ingredient for that turned out to be something called sumac. I don't even know what that is! Then I remembered Fatayers which is another favorite Arabic food of mine. Turns out it isn't that hard to make. Fatayers are usually made with a filling of cheese or spinach or meat. I made mine with tuna. Tuna is like my experimental food, because it is okay if it goes wrong; it's only tuna! :) Next time, I'll try this with some other filling.

I've written here only how to make the base, and not the filling. Any form of masala to your taste will do. Or check online for the authentic filling. :)

  1. 1 cup all purpose flour
  2. 1 tsp yeast
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  5. 1/2 cup water

Step 1:
  • Pour the warm water into a mixing bowl and add yeast, and let stand for a few minutes to proof.
  • Add the salt and oil, and stir well to combine.
  • Gradually add the flour, stirring till a soft smooth dough is achieved.
  • Knead the dough until it is smooth and satiny.
  • Roll the dough into small balls. Cover them with a towel and allow to rise for about 1 and a half hours.
Step 2:
  • Take a piece of the dough in hand and press it into a 3 or 4 inch round, about ¼ inch thick.
  • Place a spoonful of the filling mixture in the center of the dough round.
  • Draw up and seal four edges of the dough to create a square - leaving a small opening in the center.
  • Arrange the pies on a baking tray and bake in a preheated 180°C oven for about 15 minutes.
  • Serve!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mutton Fry

I am not very fond of mutton but I loved this dish. The taste I believe is in the masala. I usually use the readymade ones instead of trying to come up with something myself. And for this recipe, I used Ann's meat masala powder. 

  1. Mutton, diced into very small pieces - 1 kg
  2. Onions, finely sliced - 2 big 
  3. Meat Masala powder - 50 g
  4. Ginger-garlic paste - 2 tbsp
  5. Vinegar - 1 tbsp
  6. Coconut milk - 1 cup
  7. Curry Leaves
  8. Oil - 1/4 cup
  9. Salt
  1. Marinate the mutton pieces with the meat masala, salt and vinegar for a few hours.
  2. Heat the oil. Add the mutton, ginger-garlic paste and curry leaves and fry till well done.
  3. Remove the fried mutton from the oil and keep aside.
  4. To the same oil, add the sliced onions and saute till they turn translucent. Once done, add the mutton and mix well.
  5. Add the coconut milk and fry till dry.
  6. Garnish with fried shallots and curry leaves. 
That was really simple to make and very tasty too!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pasta and mashed potatoes

This funny looking thing was our dinner last night. :) That's pasta and mashed potatoes. I made the pasta with red cabbage and carrots, and being the hard core non-vegetarian that I am, added a bit of tuna too just for the taste. I then topped it with mashed potatoes and baked the dish before serving. I don't have those piping bags so made one with tin foil for piping the potato. Use and throw - excellent! :)

This dish was one of those experiments that actually worked. I used red cabbage and carrots. Peas would have been really good too in this, but I don't like them so didn't use them. This is how I made it.

  1. Red cabbage, shredded - 2 cups
  2. Carrot, grated - 1 cup
  3. Onion, finely sliced - 1
  4. Green chillies, sliced - 2
  5. Tuna - 1 tin
  6. Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  7. Potatoes - 2 large
  8. Tomatoes - 2 large
  9. Chilli powder - 1 tsp
  10. Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  11. Soya Sauce - 1 tbsp
  12. Tomato puree - 2 tbsp
  13. Chicken/Vegetable stock cubes - 1
  14. Oregano (dried)
  15. Salt
  16. Pepper
  17. Olive oil
  18. Vegetable/Sunflower oil

1. To make the potatoes
  • Cook the potatoes in salted water till soft.
  • Mash the potatoes and add a dash of olive oil, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of oregano.
  • Whisk the potatoes till they are of a nice creamy texture.
2. To make the pasta
  • Heat some oil. To it, add the tuna, ginger garlic paste, chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt and saute till dry.
  • Add the carrots and cabbage and mix well. Saute till all the moisture disappears and the cabbage starts frying. Keep aside
  • Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for about 10 minutes till done. Drain the pasta and pour cold water through it so the pasta does not stick together.
  • In another pan, heat some oil and saute the onions and green chilli. Add the stock cube, soya sauce, tomatoes, tomato puree and cook till the oil separates. To this, add the cabbage cooked earlier and mix well. Then add the pasta and mix thoroughly. Add some water to keep it moist.
  • Pour this mixture into a casserole dish or baking bowl.

3. The final step
  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Spread the mashed potatoes on the pasta and bake for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lazy day - rice and sambar!

It was two in the afternoon and I hadn't done a thing yet. Started reading a book in the morning and fell asleep! The book was nice, it was just too early to read. And by then it was also too late to cook anything that takes effort. (I like to finish everything before the man gets home.) Hence the all time faithful rice and sambar.

My love for sambar dates back to prehistoric times, well, to as early as I can remember. I remember, as a kid, I used to beg Mom to add lesser vegetables in the curry. You see, the Keralite sambar is made up of not just one or two vegetables but, I think, of everything you find at home. My mom's sambar would have lady's fingers, drumsticks, yam, carrots, cucumber(vellari) and others I've forgotten. As a child, my sister and I would never help ourselves to the vegetables except for a few chosen ones of our liking. I remember, Mom would in the end have to finish all the pieces herself. Well, being a vegetarian, she did enjoy it I think.

Sambar looks complicated but there are short cuts to make this one too, which is what I follow. This definitely is not the authentic way to do it but it does taste well above decent and is easy to fix. In the recipe below, I have used vegetables I had at the time.


1. Toor dal - 100 gms
2. Onion - 1 finely sliced
3. Garlic - 3 cloves chopped
4. Tomato - 1 chopped
5. Potato - 1 cut into big pieces
6. Carrot - 1 diced
7. Lady's fingers - 6 medium
8. Tamarind paste - 1 tsp
9. Sambar powder - 2 tbsp
10. Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
11. Mustard seeds
12. Water
13. Oil
14. Salt
15. Curry leaves
16. Green chillies - 2 slit

1. In a pressure cooker, put all the ingredients from 1 to 6 and the green chillies. Add some water, salt and turmeric powder and cook for 3 whistles.
2. In a pan, heat some oil, splutter mustard seeds and curry leaves and fry the lady's fingers till the stickiness disappears.
3. Add the tamarind paste and sambar powder along with some water and let it boil.
4. To this, add the cooked mix from the pressure cooker, adjust the consistency and boil for 2 minutes.

I didn't have a good enough picture of any sambar I had made. The one attached is cropped from an old pic I had. :)