Monday, 27 August 2012

Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Cake

It's not that all i do is bake cakes. Its just that baking cakes gets me excited enough to come here and leave a record of it. And so a couple of months after my last post i come back here to talk about another new cake i baked and how good it turned out. This was my first attempt at baking the much famed pineapple upside down cake, my first attempt at making caramel and i had absolutely no expectations about this whole attempt resulting in an actual cake. I had lots of hopes of course, but no real expectations. I was prepared for a gooey mess that would fall apart when taken out of the cake mould and was then delighted with the perfect colour and shape of the entity that proudly stood in front of me at the end of 45 minutes in the oven.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Healthy Carrot Cake for a birthday

I have been MIA (been so eager to use that word) and will stop trying to justify my absence. You are used to my apologies by now, aren't you? Its just that i have been lazy and uninspired. You know, that realisation that i am adding nothing to this blog by talking about what i eat. Then again i read recently in another blog's comments that the purpose of a blog is to write and not about others reading it, that's what inspired me to finally make a comeback and put my thoughts out here.
What i would like to remind myself today is that i have started out on this mission of trying out new foods and documenting the results here a year ago and it has been a fulfilling experience, especially when not much else was happening in life. Not only have i cooked up new foods that i would otherwise not have, but i would like to think that i brought happiness to people along the way with my baking experiments. So in keeping with the tradition, i baked a healthy carrot cake for my mother-in-law's birthday last week.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Back from a trip to nostalgia

Gauva tree near Grandma's place, close to this tree, and a butterfly fluttering by.
When you have made lots of friends and you plan on making a disappearing act, you should leave a word lest they worry about you. And while i have done the disappearing act a few times now since starting the blog less than a year ago, i seem to have still not learnt the 'leaving a word' part. I had gone off to my parents place again last week and spent nearly a whole week eating, shopping, and visiting relatives; and despite my best intentions, i simply had no time to come back here and say hello.And i have other excuses too, like my camera battery charger going kaput and such other lame ones. So anyway when i saw a mail from a blogger friend today enquiring if all was OK, i was guilty and ready to post something even if it was nothing interesting and no recipe.
And while my only intention was to do a quick post, as soon as i logged into blogger, i started opening links of recent blog posts that i missed and that seemed too good to ignore. I was sufficiently distracted and started to feel guilty again that this post has nothing to offer, that i am talking without having anything to say. So i won't mind if you too have nothing to say about it. Hope you have been well.
This is the tree that bore these fruits

Monday, 12 March 2012

Easy Home-made Frech Fries

I have been cooking so much lately, i have had no time to talk about it. And these french fries have been featuring prominently as evening snacks most days of the week, ever since i discovered them about two months ago. I saw them featured on The Pioneer Woman and they looked delicious. Not its easy to say no to fried potato whether they are really in front of you or just virtually in pics. But then i am also one for shortcuts. I usually don't have the patience for pre-planning. So while the source recipe tells you to soak the potato cut into fries for at least an hour and then fry them twice once in hot oil and next in very hot oil, that sounded too long winded and cumbersome to me. And it asked for a thermometer to measure the temperature of oil. There i gave up. But i didn't give up entirely.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Purple Grape Jam with White Bread Loaf

I had been eyeing this jam for a couple of months now and i had been sceptical of baking bread for even longer. Then i saw my friend bake bagels from scratch and knew it was time for me to draw some inspiration. I had been telling her that i would bake a bread from her blog because she was doing it all too easily and all too frequently.  I may have been postponing it because nobody was asking me to do these. If i did make both bread and jam from scratch, it would be solely for me. The husband won't touch bread especially when it has jam in it (will eat Subway breads only!). And is not much of a breakfast person either. I decided i should do it for my own satisfaction. Boy was i happy. I finished making jam at 5 in the evening, then made these for the husband to snack on and finally pushed my bread into the oven. Fresh bread came out at 8 pm. And i didn't have the patience to wait till breakfast to try these out. So my dinner came in the form of purple jam lathered over freshly baked and sliced bread. I have no complaints. Making something from scratch going slightly out of your comfort zone gives tremendous satisfaction. And for me, i have not done anything so elaborate just myself after getting married. Usually when the husband is out and i have to cook only for myself, i have only ever made Maggi noodles or eaten left over rice from the morning or convinced him to bring me takeaway. So to go out to such lengths to prepare something only for myself wasn't bad at all. I should try it again sometime.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Eggless Fresh Mint Ice Cream (Philadelphia style)

When looking up recipes for mint ice cream i gained enlightenment (or just information?) about naming of ice creams. And like i said before, when i learn something new i am compelled to tell you about it. Now if you 've tried making ice cream at home from scratch, you know that you can either make them with or without eggs. Ice creams made with eggs are cooked into a custard base and are supposedly richer and creamier than their egg less counterparts. Now did you know that the richer style of ice cream with eggs is called French style ice cream and the egg less version is called American or Philadelphia style ice cream? There, that's my revelation for today that i 've been bursting to tell you. When i write it down, it doesn't sound that great. I guess my surprise was that Americans are credited for creating a low fat ice cream and the French for the high fat ones but people of the two counties don't seem to bear testimony for that. Or maybe the quantity of ice cream consumed makes all the difference. Or my sample size is too small. I will leave it to you to decide.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Multi colour pasta in alfredo sauce

I stopped making pizza at home for almost a month now. Not because i was bored, but because the man in the house thought i was making pizza too healthy and the flavour was supposedly turning Indian instead of Italian. (In his defence, for my latest attempt i had replaced half the all purpose flour for the pizza base with whole wheat flour and added an extra teaspoon of ragi flour. I loved the crust that day.) Now shouldn't he have been thanking me for taking care of his cholesterol. Instead he said "Look, why don't we just eat out whenever we feel the craving for pizza". Needless to say i was shocked and mad. Because, he is the health nut in our relationship, but turns out he wants his pizza in the most unhealthy way. Most friends i have talked to preferred pizza making at home so they could control the amount of cheese they put into it. My man prefers (or used to prefer) home-made pizza for the exact same reason, only he wants more cheese than a double cheese pizza at Pizza Hut. What do i do? Simply switch to my other Italian favourite - Pasta.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Mashed plantain fry (aratikaya fry)

I remember even when i was very little that i have been interested in new foods. Not as much the cooking as the eating part. And it helped that mom was a fantastic cook willing to experiment. She even had a recipe book where she had jotted down recipes that caught her fancy and there were all sorts of things from curries to snacks to desserts including jams, jellies and sauces. It used to be a good time-pass to go through that book and dream about all sorts of foods. I distinctly remember one such Sunday afternoon when i was twelve or thirteen. I was browsing through the recipes and found one recipe for 'potato latkes' that sounded easy enough to me and volunteered to cook it for the rest of my family. I did make those cutlet type snacks that evening but had undercooked the potatoes. The outside was turning from dark brown to almost sooty black but the potatoes refused to become soft. I was so disappointed. I don't think i ever offered to make a new dish again until many many years later.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Eggless Potato Chip Cookies

Last week i crashed my computer and then proceeded to do the same to my husband's laptop, all because i was searching for a curry recipe to make lunch that afternoon. One minute i was looking at curries using spinach as gravy and the next minute there were dozens of small boxes filling up the screen asking me to say OK to whatever they were doing. I promptly shut my computer down, wishing that whatever was wrong would go away when i restart. (Isn't that how computers are supposed to work?) I then borrowed the husband's work laptop and continued my search there. A small part of my brain was telling me that one particular blog might have been the culprit, still i shushed the little talk in my head and opened the same virus spitting blog. Immediately little yellow boxes were invading the screen. When i sensed what i had done, i promptly handed over the laptop to my husband and told him to fix it. And when he finished reinstalling everything on his computer, i slowly persuaded him to do the same to mine and to save all my food pictures. He was kind enough to do the re-installing on my computer too. But now that i know he can fix it, i don't have to listen to the little warnings from my brain while browsing anymore, do i?

Monday, 30 January 2012

Fund Drive for Vaidehi Ashram of Destitute Girls, Hyderabad

Siri of Cooking with Siri is organising a fund drive for Vaidehi Ashram which is a home for destitute girls based in Hyderabad, India. The fund drive is from 26 January 2012 to 25 February 2012.To encourage people to donate to this wonderful cause, she has rallied together more food bloggers to sponsor raffle prizes. You can donate any amount with a minimum of $10 or Rupees 500. Each $10 donation will give you one raffle ticket towards a raffle prize of your choice. For Example, a donation of $20 will fetch you 2 raffle tickets which can be used to choose on any of the raffle prizes. You can use all your raffle tickets on one prize (in turn increasing the chances in the lucky draw) or on different prizes. Some prizes will only be shipped within India or US or UK and a few of them can be shipped worldwide. So choose a prize based on whether it can be delivered to you. You can see the list of prizes and the codes here.
Once the donation process is completed, please forward your payment confirmation message to info(dot)siri(at), clearly specifying which raffle prize(s) you are interested in. Within 24 hours, your name and contributed amount will be added to the 'Fund Drive Supporters List' at the very end of Siri's blog post here. If you want to stay anonymous, please let Siri know in advance. For any correspondence/questions/queries, please send an email to
When i heard about the fund drive, I wanted to contribute a raffle prize so much, but i was too late as the fund drive had already begun. Now all i can do is urge you to support in this good cause and help Siri collect as much as possible for those dear girls. $1764 have been contributed till now. All photos are by Siri.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Indian Gooseberries (Usirikaya) - Revisiting Childhood

The fruit in the above picture is called a gooseberry (not to be confused with this gooseberry which is mainly used for pickles) and has a unique sour tang to it. The sourness, if i have to describe it to someone who has never eaten it, is somewhat close to that of a raw mango. These were sold in heaps on mobile carts outside my school and were eaten raw with a sprinkle of salt and red chili powder. And i have had my share as a kid. During school days, there was also a tree right next to the building where we lived and there were at least 10 kids around my age (plus or minus two years) living in that area. The whole gang of kids could always be found playing in the vicinity of the gooseberry tree. A vigorous shake of the tree would result in a rain of these green berries and the kids would rush to pick as many as we could hold in out tiny hands. The branches of the tree are quite fragile, i know now because i had a fractured right hand while playing around/ climbing the tree when i was five. It wasn't all bad, all i remember about that accident now is that i got to skip a whole set of exams in my first grade class because my writing hand was hurt and got to munch a whole lot of gooseberries too ;-)
All this revisiting the childhood is now happening because when my parents visited me a couple of weeks ago, they brought these gooseberries along. I hadn't eaten one in almost fifteen years. Turns out a tree miraculously appeared in their backyard and it bore first fruits this year. And how i could i not get a share of these childhood favourites. The black and white photo goes to Susan's Black and White Wednesday event at The Well Seasoned Cook.
So did you have a taste of these gooseberries?

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Button Mushroom Fry (Dry Curry)

A few years ago i used to take up a pen and paper only when i was unhappy, writing was almost therapeutic. But these days, i don't touch the blog when i am not in a good mood. I don't do philosophical musings anymore because i am not sure how people will react. We go online to spread happiness and good cheer, to share in the joy and not to hear other people's troubles. And so when i lack inspiration to write cheerfully, i have been giving up trying to write entirely. Today i decided it was high time you see something else on my homepage than week old wishes for a festival that has long been celebrated and even the festive cooking leftovers have long disappeared from the fridge. So i come back to you with something i have cooked last year, i mean last month, i mean it was just a couple of weeks ago. I chose this dish to share today because i loved the photography while cooking this as much as i loved the end result in food.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Sankranti Subhakankshalu/ Happy Pongal

Wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous Sankranti. Here's a visual treat with a collection of festival pictures. Have a great time, everyone.
 My mother-in-law and i took a little more than an hour yesterday evening to make this  Sankranti muggu (design made with rice flour) in front of our house. The muggu is then decorated with turmeric, vermilion, some regi pallu, tomatoes or dosakaya (lemon cucumber?) and coins. The right side design was done entirely by me. I used to do these designs with mom when i was much younger, but have lost touch when i left my home town and state and country for higher education and then job. It was great to find out i could still do this. Though i have to admit that i practised thrice on paper before starting with the rice flour on the floor. It starts with 25 dots, continuing with 23, 21 so on up to 1 by reducing one dot on each side. The dots are then joined to make the design. The muggu made with lines as seen on the left is the more traditional one for Sankranti.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Cauliflower Tomato Rice

Its been so hot in Hyderabad the last few days with the day temperatures hovering around 33 degrees centigrade. Hyderabadi winter was supposed to cool, cold even and if not until February, at least until the middle of January. Sure, its ideal weather for my home made ice cream to be gobbled up, but please believe me i was not praying for hot weather just to enjoy my ice cream. And now because i am wondering if the weather Gods are changing the temperatures to suit my cooking, I am going for a spicy hot Cauliflower rice.
I love rice. A good fried once remarked that it was my favourite not just among food items, but my most favourite thing in the world. So much did i love it, that he was considering gifting me a big bag of rice as a birthday gift. No, i ended up with a cake that year, but it wasn't out of consideration if you must know. 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Homemade Eggless Strawberry Ice cream (No Cooking)

My love for sweets not withstanding, i didn't think i could get addicted to ice cream. Not until i made one at home with fresh strawberries in the peak of their season. And i discovered whole new limits to the quantity of ice cream that can be consumed in one sitting. My limits at least. At recent trips to the farmer's market i could see street side vendors selling packs of strawberries at rates much less than in super markets. And when i found that the cost of a pack was coming down with every visit over the last two months, i found myself buying increasing quantities of these red beauties. I ate some as dessert, just the fruits, but wasn't satisfied. And froze some because the rate at which fresh strawberries were coming into the house was more than the rate at which they were being consumed.  (By the way they freeze extremely well, i take a peek at the ones in the freezer once in a while and they look temptingly fresh). So as the year was coming to a close, i decided i was going to welcome the new year with a big bowl of ice cream, an irresistible one.