Thursday, 3 November 2011

Using Vegetables for Decoration...Flowers..Vases !

Apple Flower Arrangements
Using Apples as a vase
For short-term decorating, use sturdy apples like Red Delicious or Granny Smith to craft a cute bud vase. Simply core an apple as deep as you can, using a knife or a screwdriver. Keep your handiwork hydrated and fresh by spraying the inside and edges of the fruit with a mixture of water and lemon juice. Top with one large flower, or try a small bunch. Show off these delicious creations on a mantel, windowsill or atop a rectangular plate on the dining room table when entertaining.
Halloween Pumpkin Planters
For larger vases, pick a pumpkin or large squash with a relatively flat bottom. Cut off the top and hollow the vegetable with a spoon. Cover the inside of the gourd with a little water and bleach to help preserve it. Then add the finishing touches by placing your flower arrangement inside. Set on the porch, near an entry door or use as a striking centerpiece

What you’ll need:

  • Small vases, cups, jars or orange juice glasses.
  • Vegetables your kids like, plus celery for the stems and lettuce for leaves.
  • cream cheese (optional to use as glue)
  • flower shaped cookie cutter ( one for play dough!) You could try these cool vegetable cutters.
  • toothpicks
  • water
Just fill the cups with the celery, then stick the vegetables on the toothpicks and the toothpicks into the celery stalks.
use cream cheese as  glue to stick the pieces of carrots onto the cucumber flower. The lettuce leaves are placed around for cuteness.

Healthy Oats and Banana Pancakes

Banana Oat Pancakes

  • 6 pancakes
  • 40 grams wholegrain oats
  • 20 grams self raising flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • drizzle olive oil for frying
  1. Blend the oats in a vitamiser.
  2. Mix in the self-raising flour and blend.
  3. Add the banana, vanilla, salt and cinnamon blending again.
  4. Pour the mixture into a jug and mix through the milk.
  5. Heat a flat pan up and drizzle a little olive oil onto it.
  6. Pour the mixture on the pan and once golden brown, flip it over cooking the other side.
  7. Serve with a little butter and maple syrup!
To convert plain flour into self-raising flour, add two teaspoons of baking powder to each cup of plain flour.
 Adding one teaspoon of cream of tartar and half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to one cup of plain flour gives the same result.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

Fresh Baked Cinnamon Rolls
1 cup milk(heated approximately 1 minute in microwave)
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs
, room temperature and beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar

5 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)
3 teaspoons instant active dry 

Cinnamon Filling (see recipe below)
Butter Frosting (see recipe below)

Put dry mixture in processing bowl with steel blade. While motor is running, add liquid ingredients, butter, and egg. Process until mixed. Continue processing, adding remaining flour until dough forms a soft ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly-oiled surface ( use a nonstick cooking spray), and knead until elastic, approximately 10 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size. 

Butter a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan; set aside.
After dough has risen, roll and stretch the dough into approximately a 15 x 24-inch rectangle.
rolled out cinnamon roll dough

Brush the 1/2 cup softened butter (listed below in the Cinnamon Filling) over the top of the dough with a rubber spatula or a pastry brush. Sprinkle Cinnamon Filling over the butter on the prepared dough. Starting with long edge, roll up dough; pinch seams to seal. NOTE: Rolling the log too tightly will result in cinnamon rolls whose centers pop up above the rest of them as they bake.
spreading butter on cinnamon roll dough
cinnamon/sugar filling on cinnamon roll dough
cinnamon roll dough rolled up
With a knife, lightly mark roll into 1 1/2-inch section. Use a sharp knife ( Use a serrated knife and saw very gently) or slide a 12-inch piece of dental floss or heavy thread underneath. By bringing the ends of the floss up and criss-crossing them at the top of each mark, you can cut through the roll by pulling the strings in opposite directions. Place cut side up in prepared baking pan, flattening them only slightly. T
he unbaked cinnamon rolls should not touch each other before rising and baking. Do not pack the unbaked cinnamon rolls together.
Measuring Cinnamon Rolls
Cut Cinnamon Rolls

Refrigerating or Freezing Unbaked Cinnamon Rolls:
  • At this point, the cinnamon rolls can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight (I've actually made them two days in advance) or frozen for 1 month. Before baking, allow rolls to thaw completely and rise in a warm place if frozen. Take the unbaked frozen cinnamon rolls out of the freezer 10 to 12 hours before planning to bake.  Just put the frozen cinnamon rolls (container and rolls) on my counter (not in the refrigerator) overnight for 10 to 12 hours.
  • If refrigerated, they can be either baked upon removing from the refrigerator or let come to a room temperature . They do a slow rise overnight and it is not necessary to let them come to room temperature before baking.  NOTE: If you rolls are not rising enough after being refrigerated, your yeast may need to be tested. To overcome this, let them rise, while sitting on the counter, until you achieve the desired rising before baking.

Bake Immediately After Making:

Cover and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size (after rising, rolls should be touching each other and the sides of the pan).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. for regular oven or 325 degrees F. for a convection oven. 

  • Bake in a convection oven approximately 15 to 20 minutes until they are a light golden brown.
  • Baked in a regular oven approximately 20 to 25  minutes in a regular oven until they are a light golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Spread Butter Frosting over the cinnamon rolls while still warm. Best served warm, but room temperature is also great! 

Yields 15 cinnamon rolls. 

1/2 cup butter, melted or softened
1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 to 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Soften the butter; set aside. In a bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon; stir in chopped nuts (optional).  (Sift the brown sugar and cinnamon together to remove any lumps.)
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup< powdered (confectioners) sugar
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extractbr> /8 teaspoon lemon extract or oil (optional)
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon extract or oil until well mixed and creamy. Refrigerate frosting until ready to use and then bring to room temperature before spreading.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Fruity Mango Shrikhand


250ml Greek style yoghurt.
1 large mango.
1 tbsp sugar (adjust according to the sweetness of the mango)
A generous pinch of saffron rubbed with a few drops of milk.
Sliced pistachios to garnish.

Serves 4
1. Peel the mango and scrape all the flesh of it. Puree it in a blender. Seive to separate any fibre from the puree.

2. In a large bowl, add the greek yoghurt and add the mango puree. Mix till well blended. Add sugar as required. I needed only a tbsp. Add in the rubbed saffron. Mix well.

3. Scoop them in 4 serving bowl and garnish with sliced pistachios. Keep it in the fridge to chill.

4. Serve chilled.

1. Rubbing the saffron with a few drops of milk really brings out the colour and flavour.

2. If you want it creamier, add 60 ml of whipped double cream while mixing the yoghurt and puree.

3. Instead of Greek yoghurt, you can use hung yoghurt. Hang twice the amount, i.e. 2 cups of yoghurt in a muslin cloth over a bowl for 4-5 hours in fridge to get 1 cup of thick yoghurt.

4. If you do not like fruit flavoured yoghurt, try adding only cardamom, saffron, nutmeg and a combination of these. You can even try other fruits like peach, berries, apple etc.

Shrikhand with a Twist

  • Hung Yogurt – 2 cups (made from 4 cups of yogurt)
  • Sugar – ¾  cup (add according to sweetness required)
  • Strawberry – 10
  • Almonds chopped– few
  • Almonds, Pistachios for garnishing
  • Preparation
    1. To get hung yogurt, keep 1 litre of yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang it overnight. The water from the yogurt will be removed and you will get a thick yogurt.
    2. Beat the strawberries and sugar in a blender. (adjust sugar according to your sweetness)
    3. Add it to the thick yogurt and mix well with a spoon. (Do not put the yogurt in the blender as it will loosen the consistency).
    4. Add almonds and chill for a few hours
    5. Decorate with almonds, strawberry , pistachios.

Baked Vegetarian Seekh Kebabs....Dal or Veggie

Prep time : 30 mins. Baking time :  12 - 14 mins. Makes : 6 kebabs (fairly large sized)

1) Instead of using Moong Dal, you can use an assortment of fresh veggies (finely minced and blanched). Be sure to add required quantity of besan to bind them, though. Moong dal needs to be pressure cooked with very little water. If you have any water in the pulse after cooking, drain completely before use.
2) This version of Kebabs does not have any added oil and is mildly spiced. However, you can still bast them with melted butter / ghee and add more chillies and ginger to spice them up.
3) Ensure the oven is piping hot (pre-heat). I pre-heated on broil for 250 deg C for 8 - 9 mins, and once the kebabs were in, I turned down to 220 deg C to bake for 12 - 14 mins, then switched again to broil for further 8 -9 mins once the kebabs were basted. Time and temperature would vary from oven to oven. Please check yours for more settings.
4) If using wooden skewers (like me), ensure they are long enough and that you soak them in cold water for atleast 15 mins, while your kebab mixture gets going.
5) Browned or roasted kebabs is a product of how much oil you bast them with - please adjust according to palates. You can make Palak ke kebab (spinach kebab) in a similar way, on skewers.


  • Moong Dal (split green gram) - 1/2 to 3/4 cup
  • Potato - 1/2 boiled and grated
  • Onion - 1 no. (grated)
  • Kasuri methi - 1/2 TBSP
  • Salt - to taste
  • Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 TBSP
  • Dhaniya Powder (Coriander powder) - 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - a dash
  • Jeera Powder (cumin powder) - 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder , Kitchen king masala, Garam Masala pwd - 1 tsp each
  • Green chillies - 2 nos (minced)
  • cornflour / corn meal - 2 TBSP - for binding
  • Oil- for basting (I used olive oil)

1) Mix all the ingredients for the kebabs (barring oil) to a smooth mixture. 

2) Meanwhile soak the wooden skewers (if using) in a glass of water (place them vertically so the entire skewer gets soaked & pre-heat oven to 250 deg C (broil mode)
3) Adjust the mixture to the required consistency - you may need a little more cornmeal than indicated t make this a completely dry mixture : it should barely stick to your hands. 4) One tip here though : you may oil your hands if required at this stage while mixing and making them into equal sized portions.

5) Once the balls are made, take the skewers out of water, and start pressing them onto the mould starting at the base of your palm and extending it towards the fingertips. If it breaks, dismantle the kebab and start all over - it is extremely painful to work around a hot oven if the kebabs break while baking. Work with the rest of the roundels till the dough is completed.

6) Once all the roundels are done, give it a resting time of 4 - 5 mins to check for any further breakages, if any.
7) Once the oven is pre-heated, place on a baking tray with the skewers stickign out so you  can bast them easily later and set to bake for 220 deg C. Bast with olive oil  / ghee according to your preference after 12 - 14 mins. Check notes above for more details.
8) Once the kebabs are done, let them rest in the oven for further 2 -4 mins to absorb the heat.
9) De-skewer them gently onto a plate, and serve hot with onion rings, green chutney, a dash of lime and tomato ketchup !

Moong Dal...Fried...Haldiram style

Soaking time: 8 – 10 hours (or overnight) .Preparation time: 15 mins. Cooking time : 15 mins.
·         Split yellow gram – 1 cup (I used 1/3 cup as I was making this at home for the first time)
·         Oil – for frying – I needed about 1.5 cups
·         Salt – to taste
·         Turmeric – 1/8 tsp
·         Asafoetida / Hing – ½ tsp
·         Red chilli powder – ¼ tsp
·         Baking Soda – ½ tsp
·         Hot water – 3 cups
·         Curry leaves - few
1)      Wash moong dal several times in running water. Drain and soak in hot water (not steaming) with ½ tsp of soda overnight in a covered vessel.
2)     Next morning, drain the dal and rub the moong dal with a soft clean white cloth.
3)     Heat oil to smoking point, and then turn to medium. Fry the moong dal – in batches- on medium heat till they crackle and the bubbles disappear on the surface.
4)     Use a slotted spoon and remove batches of moong dal onto a bowl / plate lined with tissue paper.
5)     Let the tissues absorb the oil completely and transfer onto another plate. Mix salt, chilli powder, turmeric, asafoetida (hing) and sprinkle this mixture evenly on the fried lentils. Toss it lightly.
6)     Store in an air tight container and enjoy as a delicious tea time snack !
1)      Do not overheat the oil else the lentils will turn hard.
2)     Add the salt and other spices when the fried gram is slightly cool. Else it would absorb more salt.

Dal/Chana Vada ....Lentil fritters


  •  Channa Dal  - 2 cups
  •  Toor Dal - a handful
  • Red chillies - 4 to 6  adjust spice
  • Salt - to taste
  • Ginger grated - 2 tsp
  • Grated coconut - 3 TBSP (optional)
  • Turmeric - half tsp
  • Coriander and curry leaves
  • Oil - to deep fry

1) Wash and soak the dals separately with the red chillies for 45 mins - 1 hr.
2) Drain completely. 

3) Now keeping aside a handful or two of the soaked dal, grind the rest of the dals with turmeric, grated coconut, ginger, chillies to a coarse paste without ANY water. Remove to a bowl.

3) Now to the pulsed paste, add the whole soaked dals, salt, coriander and curry leaves and mix well. Do not add water at any stage, except while soaking as the vadais will go runny as well as absorb extra oil.

4) Cover the lentil dough with cling wrap and refrigerate for a max of 20 mins (this helps me every time as the salt coagulates under refrigeration and the vadais turn very crispy).
5) Divide into equal lemon sized balls and pat gently into a small patty. Makes 20- 25 approx. Heat the oil meanwhile for frying.

6) To check if the oil is hot, pinch out a small dough into the oil. If it rises to the top immediately, it is ready. 
7) Move the flame to medium-high now, and slide the vadais in batches. Fry on this heat only for perfect vadais.
8) Serve hot with a cup of tea 

TIP : If you are making vadais for a party , and need to refry them again just before serving, fry it on low heat once. Remove on a tissue paper. Cool in a glass / stainless steel vessel with a light tissue paper. Re-fry again jsut before serving on medium-high heat just before serving 

Corn potato pops


  • Potato - 1 large
  • Dill leaves - 1 cup (cleaned and sorted)
  • Boiled sweet american corn - 1 cup
  • Chaat Masala - 1 tsp
  • Amchur / Dry mango powder - 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala - 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Schezwan Sauce - 1 tsp
  • Tomato ketchup - 1 TBSP
  • Salt - to taste
  • Onions chopped - 1 medium
  • Cornmeal - 1/4 cup
  • Oil - to fry
  • Maida / APF + water - for outer covering


1) Grate boiled potato. Mix chopped onion, boiled corn, chopped dill and all the dry masalas including salt , schezwan and tomato ketchup. Now add cornmealand mix well to a semi dry consistency.
2) Make into equal roundels and refrigerate for minimum 10 minutes.
3) In a small bowl, mix APF and water to a smooth slurry kind of mixture.
4) Heat the oil in a kadai (deep pan) and check if its hot enough by placing a drop of the maida covering into the hot oil.
5) Dip the roundels in the maida slurry and gently slide into the hot oil - 5 to 6 at time. Fry on medium heat till golden brown. Drain on paper towels
6) Serve with green chutney or ketchup as required.