Diwali 2015 – Karanji

Happy Dhanteras!

Tomorrow is Naraka Chaturdasi and it is one of the most important rituals of Diwali in Mangalorean homes. We perform the Abhyang Snan which is a ritual bath with oil before sunrise. We celebrate the victory of Krishna over the demon Narakasura. Once the body is massaged from head to toe with warm coconut oil, a regular bath is taken. We apply a form of ‘ubtan’ or natural soap which traditionally had a mix of sandalwood, camphor, rose water, raw turmeric and other additional ingredients such as milk, fresh coconut milk etc. At home, we use whichever ingredient we can mix together, with raw turmeric being the hero. We simply mix raw turmeric paste with some coconut milk or fresh cream and apply it to our bodies before the final rinse. Sort of a mini Ayurvedic spa session at home ūüėÄ

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Now to today’s special, Karanjis. There are two steps in this recipe. Preparing the outer cover and the filling.

For around 40 Karanjis you will need:

Ingredients:

For the outer cover:
All purpose flour – 500 gm
Semolina Р125 gm
Milk – 250 ml
Oil – 4 tsp
Salt

For the filling:
Desiccated Coconut – 100 gm
Powdered Sugar – 150 gms
Poppy Seeds – 2 tsp
Sesame Seeds – 2 tsp
Semolina – 2 tsp
Cardamom powder – 1 tsp

Method:

First we start with the dough. Mix together flour, semolina, salt in a large bowl. Warm the oil and add it to the batter and mix well again.

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Now warm the milk and add it in a little by little to form a semi-stiff dough

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Wrap a piece of cling film around it and let it rest for at least half an hour. While the dough rests, start making the filling.

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Dry roast poppy seeds, semolina, sesame seeds separately and put it in a bowl.

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Add the desiccated coconut, powdered sugar and cardamom powder to this and mix well.

After 30 minutes, take tennis ball size amounts of the dough and roll it out into a roti.

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Apply some ghee all over the roti and tightly roll it into a cylinder.

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Now cut it into half inch pinwheels.

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Roll this pinwheels into a puri. Add a little filling in the centre.

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Wet the edges with some milk and fold it into a wanton/gyoza shape.

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To secure the ends you can simply use a fork and press down gently.

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Deep fry the Karanjis in medium flame till golden brown. Cool down to room temperature before storing away.

Diwali 2015 – Shankarpali / Shakkarpara

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This is my personal favourite. The melt-in-your mouth mini cookies don’t last for long when I am around. It is probably the easiest to make amongst all the Diwali goodies. For a medium batch you will need the following

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Ingredients:

All purpose flour – 500 gms
Powdered Sugar – 200 gms
Ghee or Unsalted Butter – 200 gms
Milk – 250 ml
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying

Method

Take the flour in a mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar and a pinch of salt to it. Add in melted ghee and stir it into the dry ingredients. Now add the milk slowly to for a semi-stiff dough. Do not over-knead.

Let the dough rest for around half an hour. Now take a tennis ball size dough and roll it out into a thick roti.

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Take a pizza cutter, or a Shankarpali-cutter for fancy edges.¬†Make squares, diamonds, rectangles… aliens. ūüėõ Basically whatever shape you fancy. I¬†stuck to the usual squares that my mum makes.

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Heat oil for for frying. On medium flame fry till golden brown. As I have mentioned previously, I love it fried a little beyond golden for a deeper flavour.

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Cool down to room temperature and store away. I saved a big bowl of ‘rejects’ to munch on with Romedy Now.

Diwali 2015 – Chaklis

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There are varieties of chakli recipes, but the one I am posting today is close to my heart as it is my Dad’s recipe. Papa’s family had a farsan business for a while before he moved on completely to office life. This recipe was the one they used at the kitchen there. I have replaced one key ingredient though – coconut oil with butter for a crunchier texture. I have enough coconut flavour in my regular food. Didn’t¬†want to taste coconut in my chaklis too! Like in everything we Mangaloreans love, the base for this recipe is Rice flour. The one I had previously posted was what Maharashtrians call Bhajani Chaklis.

You will need the following to make around 50 chaklis

Ingredients:

Rice flour- 4 cups
Urad dal – 1 cup
Unsalted Butter – 3/4th cup
Sesame seeds Р2 tbsp
Cumin seeds Р2 thsp
Asafoetida – 1 thsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – for deep frying

Method:

Start the prep by taking few sheets of parchment paper and cut into tiny squares to pipe the chaklis onto. You can pipe and fry in batches so don’t cut too many.

Dry roast the urad dal till a sweet aroma releases. Cool down and grind it in a coffee grinder to a fine powder. Now combine the rice and urad dal flour by sieving them together into a large mixing bowl.

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Add the salt, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida and mix well.

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Now take the cold unsalted butter and rub it with the flour between your fingers to form a crumb texture.

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The crumb texture formed because of cold butter ensures you have a crunchy chakli to bite into.

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Now start adding water little by little and make a stiff dough. Let it rest for around ten minutes.

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Assemble the chakli-maker using the star tip. Take a little dough to stuff into the chakli maker. Re-knead it before stuffing it for a smooth piping experience.

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Start piping the dough into circular beauties by applying a little pressure to the handle.

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Secure the end with the previous ring so that it doesn’t disintegrate while frying.

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Now heat the oil on medium high. Drop in the chaklis one by one using the parchment paper for support. Fry till the golden brown.

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Cool down to room temperature and store away to enjoy on Diwali day with your family and friends ūüôā

Diwali 2015 – Chivda

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Deep fry alert!
Chivda is a common tea-time snack and a Diwali platter must-have. It is only when you prepare this yourself, you realise how much oil you dunk into your system with every bowl of this yumminess. Every ingredient is deep fried. But then again Diwali is one time of the year where all the rules are broken. Or so they say.

In my family, I am the only one who is not into snacking. I love big meals. But snacks and me are not great friends. Whenever a little hungry my sister opts for farsans, but¬†I would rather fix myself a sandwich. This homemade chivda is an exception though. I absolutely love the combination of its¬†sweet and sour crunch. Just like Besan Laddoos our Diwali is incomplete without a huge dabba of Chivda ready to be shared with loved ones. Similar to¬†the laddoo recipe, I have previously posted the Chivda recipe too. Back then I didn’t post the complete list of ingredients. So here is what you need to make¬†a big batch.

Ingredients:

Thick Poha Р2.5 cups
Roasted Chana Р1/2 cup
Raw Peanuts – 1/2 cup
Chopped Cashew Р 3 tbsp
Sultanas Р 3 tbsp
Fresh Curry Leaves – 2-3 sprigs
Sun-Dried Coconut Slices (Kopra) Р1/2 cup
Powdered Sugar – 1 cup
Red Chilli Powder 2 tsp
Haldi Powder – 1 tsp
Rock Salt – 2 – 3 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry

Method:

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First prep and assemble all ingredients. This means your Poha, chana, peanuts, cashew, sultanas, curry leaves and dried coconut slices should be measured and ready at arms-length to deep-fry. It’s all very quick once the cooking process starts.

Mix all the powder ingredients together in a separate bowl. Keep extra masalas, sugar, rock salt and salt handy to adjust the taste.

Once the above steps are done, heat oil for deep frying. While the oil is heating up, spread out some tissues on the kitchen counter. It can get greasy and messy. Keep a big mixing bowl and a flat spatula handy as well.

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Now for the fun part. Take a large steel wire strainer/fryer. Take the poha in tiny batches and deep fry for under 10 seconds on high flame. We want to maintain its pale colour. Shake off the excess oil and put it in the large bowl. While still warm, add in a teaspoon of the masala-salt-sugar mix and gently mix it with the flat spatula. When the poha is warm it absorbs the flavours well.

Once the entire batch of Poha is fried and smothered with the masala mix, check for seasoning. Adjust the flavour to your taste. If you have done a large batch as well, its best to use fresh oil to fry the rest of the ingredients as by now the oil would have become murky. For small batches you need not change the oil

Using the same strainer fry off the peanuts, cashews and chana. Be very careful while deep frying the curry leaves as they splatter a lot. Also the sultanas as they puff up and sometimes burst open splattering hot oil as well. So be cautious.

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Finally, mix it all with gentle hands. Let the chivda cool down to room temperature before storing away in an air tight containers.

Enjoy ūüôā

Diwali 2015 – Besan Laddoo

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Diwali prepping is one of those things that never seems to end. The biggest festival of the year for us Indians. After Dusshera, it has just been busy, busy, busy. Deep cleaning, organizing and giving away old stuff to charity. Today I finally started preparing the sweets. Last evening the electrican Bharat and I put up the twinkling lights up and the house looked so festive. There is something about Diwali. ūüôā

Always start good things on a sweet note. I bought the ingredients required to make our family favourite – Besan Laddoo. Had posted a recipe for the same earlier, but this one’s even more delicious and a melt-in-the-mouth version of the same. I have skipped the semolina completely and replaced it with roasted almonds for the crunch. To make around¬†40 big laddoos you will need the following:

Ingredients

Besan – 1kg
Powdered Sugar (or Bhura) – 750 gms
Ghee – 500 gms
Cardamom powder –¬†3¬†tbsp
Slivered Almonds Р4 tbsp (optional)
Raisins for garnish

Method:

Heat around 3/4th portion of the ghee in a large heavy bottomed pan and let it melt. You can use the remaining ghee to moisten the mix later while forming the laddoo.

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Keep the flame on medium high and add in the pre-sieved besan and start folding it in gently.

Now roll up your sleeves and be ready to get some serious arm workout while roasting the besan, till a sweet nutty aroma fills the kitchen.

There are three stages to this roasting process. The first stage is the one where you will need a lotttttt of patience as you struggle to roast the dense, heavy gooeyness. You will know when you reach stage 2 as the mix suddenly starts feeling lighter on the spatula. It gets easier to keep going to stage 3 when the colour changes to golden brown and a little ghee starts leaving the edges of the pan.

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When the besan is almost ready, add in the slivered almonds and let them fry in the mixture making them deliciously crunchy. I have left the skin on. You can blanch and skin the almonds if you prefer.

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Now transfer the contents into a big mixing bowl and add the cardamom powder. Let the besan mixture cool down till its just warm enough to touch.

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Once it reaches to this stage, add in the powdered sugar and mix well. Use your hands for best results ūüôā

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If you use¬†‘Bhura’ sugar it is even better. Gives it a yummier texture and taste.

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Anyway, once the sugar is well incorporated, you¬†can start shaping the¬†laddoos. A¬†medium-sized ice cream scoop comes in handy to pick the right amount for similar-looking laddoos. Top each laddoo with a raisin for garnish. You can replace the raisins with pistachios. If your mix is dry add some of the remaining ghee. On the other hand, if you have added a little too much ghee in the beginning ¬†it could make the laddoos collapse slightly into a peda-ish shape when you keep it down to set. The warmth of your hand is constantly melting the ghee while shaping. Fret not. Don’t over-shape. It will only make it less manageable. Form into rough roundels and let it set. ¬†After 20-30 minutes of resting phase you can re-shape them into round laddoos. An indication of the right time is when the shine on the laddoos are¬†replaced by dullness. Don’t let it set completely before re-shaping.

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And of course, make sure you have turned on your favourite music before sitting down to shape the ladoos. It will take a while to get the job done if you made a big batch like me. Sing along,¬†be in a good mood and think of nice things. You will be distributing¬†those ladoos to a whole lot of family members and friends. Let your positive vibes get into each ‘golden globe’ ūüôā

Have a happy happy Diwali ūüôā ūüôā

Sajjige Rotti with a dash of my spiritual journey

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After a super hot and humid October, Mumbai breathed a sigh of relief this morning with a gush of cool breeze into our homes. Early mornings are my favourite time. Hot cup of chai, newspaper and the rising sun. No where in the world does sunrise feel so pure and healing. Guess I am biased ūüôā ¬†The reddish rays of the first 10-15 ¬†minutes encourage you to calm down and rejuvenate. For those who might not know, this year was a beautiful journey of self-discovery. From Vipassana meditation to other healing practices, I explored the world of meditation and yoga. Life has been challenging and I needed to dive deeper. I wish I had started dedicating so much time to it earlier. The contentment and joy is profound. Various meditation camps, various techniques and a number of Gurus or Masters later I have finally started understanding myself a bit better. The journey inwards is not tough to start at any age.

Anyway now to the recipe! This morning as my kitchen was getting these waves of relaxing breeze and filling up with gorgeous winter light, I prepared a few Mangalorean style instant pancakes that hit the spot.

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These pancakes are packed with aromatics and a little sweetness from bananas and coconut. If you love south Indian breakfasts, this is a must try.

Ingredients:
2 cups fine Semolina (Rava)
1 cup Whole Wheat flour
2 large Bananas chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped Onion
1/2 cup freshly grated Coconut
2 finely chopped Green Chillies
1 inch finely chopped Ginger
1/2 cup Yogurt
Chopped Curry leaves
Chopped Coriander
2 thps Sugar or Jaggery
Salt to taste
Ghee or Oil
Water

Method:
Mix all the ingredients except the oil and water. Once combined, start adding half a cup of water at a time making a thick batter. Thicker than American pancake batter.

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We love thick Sajjige Rottis at home. You can adjust the water to the consistency and thickness you prefer.  It is important to know semolina are like tiny sponges. They keep absorbing water as you leave the batter aside for longer. Keep checking the consistency.

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Pour a ladleful of batter on a medium hot skillet or frying pan. Add some oil or ghee to the sides. Ghee makes them super yummy.  Cover the pan.

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Let it brown slowly for around 3-4 minutes. Flip over and let the other side brown as well.  Serve hot. We generally eat these pancakes without any toppings or chutneys.

Enjoy!

Pineapple Fresh Cream Cake for New Year’s Eve

I had to put together a cake in an hour and a half¬† for a New Year’s Eve staff party. Luckily I had all the ingredients required.

There are three things you basically need to make the best pineapple cake ever [ apart from love that is ūüôā ] 1) Sponge 2) Cream topping 3) Canned Pineapple slices + syrup

For a super soft Sponge:

Eggs – 8
Sugar – 1.5 cups
Milk – 1/2 cup
Vanilla Essence – few drops
Flour – 2 cups
Baking Powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp

Fresh Cream Topping
Fresh Cream – 3 cups
Icing Sugar – 1/4th cup
Whipped Cream Stabilizer or Gelatin (Optional)

For assembling
Canned Pineapple with its syrup (Fresh Pineapple wont work for this recipe)

Method:

First things first. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Grease your baking tin and dust it with flour. I used an 8 x 10 inch rectangle tin for this recipe. Put a bowl into the freezer or fridge in which you will whip fresh cream later. Everything for whipping cream has to be cold cold cold including the whisks of your electric beater.

Once the above prep has been done you can start by assembling all the ingredients for the sponge. Make sure these are all in room temperature. Separate egg whites and yolks into two separate clean and dry bowls. Add the milk and vanilla essence / extract to the yolks. Put in the sugar, little at a time and start whisking till the mixture becomes pale yellow.

Now to the dry ingredients. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt straight into the egg yolk mixture, combining them together into a thick batter.Now to the dry ingredients. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt straight into the egg yolk mixture, combining them together into a thick batter.

Finally for the egg whites, take a clean and dry whisk.  Whisk away till stiff peaks are formed. I first finish this step and then wash the whisk and chill it in the freezer to whisk the cream later. It is always wiser to invest in an electric whisk for this job. Done in a jiffy. Else be ready for a solid arm workout.

Once they form stiff peaks, gently fold it into the yolk mixture. Cut and fold the egg whites with almost a feather like touch to maintain the aeration.

Pour the folded mixture into your greased and flour-dusted baking tin and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a cooling rack.

Now comes the fun part. Into the chilled bowl put in your cold heavy ¬†whipping cream and whisk on medium and then high till soft peaks are formed. Add the icing sugar and stabilizer and whisk further till stiff peaks are formed. Keep the cream in the refrigerator till required. In India I had to take a lot of precautions to make this happen. Cold whisk, cold bowl, and ¬†cheffie’s tip of an ice bath under the cream bowl made it all work. Don’t give up on it ūüôā

Assembling the cake

Finally comes the Pineapple into the scene

Drain pineapple slices, while retaining the syrup in a bowl.
Cut the completely cooled cake horizontally into two or three layers.

Place the bottom layer onto the cake stand. Add several spoons of the syrup on the sponge. Top it with some of the whipped cream. Place a few pineapple slices. Now add the second layer of sponge. Repeat the steps.

After the last layer is done. Cover the entire cake with cream and pipe some of your creativity into it. ūüôā Arrange the last few pineapples. I didn’t have canned cherries. You can place a few cherries to add a pop of colour.

Refrigerate the cake immediately. In this case it sat in the restaurants’s fridge till it was midnight.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve making a thousand wishes for 2015. Cheers to you all.

Fried Modak for Ganesh Chaturti / Chauti

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Ganapati or Ganesha is one of the most loved Hindu gods.  My childhood stories often involved him and his funny adventures. Stories passed down generations talk about his love for food. Chaturti or his birthday is therefore a celebration of food in all its glory. Sweets, savoury, cripsy, various kinds of culinary delights are prepared to please him and his ravenous appetite. Every state in India has their version of his favorite birthday food.  Being a Mumbaikar no Chaturti is complete for me without preparing the famous Modak. Modaks are sweet coconut and jaggery filled dumplings that can be steamed or fried. The steamed version is made with a cover of rice flour, while the fried one is made of whole wheat flour. Whichever version is made, the offering is generally given in odd numbers.

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I have made 21 this time. 11 large ones and 11 tiny ones for the tiny tot in the family, Daivik.

I struggled for the last 5 years with the rice flour version. It becomes yummy, but the shape was never quite right ūüė¶ If you struggle with them too, ¬†I would highly¬†recommend¬†you to try this version. So simple and pretty to look at.

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To begin, first prepare the dough, as it needs around 15-20 minutes of resting.  Knead 3 cups of flour, salt and warm water to a stiff dough. Once the dough is almost ready , add around 2 thsps of ghee and knead further to a shiny finish. Cover and leave it to rest.

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To prepare the filling freshly grate an entire coconut or use a cup and half of frozen coconut (thawed). In a saucepan roast around a tsp of poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Add around 1.5 cups of grated or chopped organic jaggery. I chose the darker colored jaggery. Once the jaggery melts, add the coconut and turn off the flame. Finish with a pinch of ground cardamom. Let this filling cool down a bit but not completely.

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To assemble, roll out little discs or puris. I used a cookie cutter for uniform modak sizes. Place the filling in the center. Pinch the ends of the puri like the pictures below and gather all the ends forming a dumpling.

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Deep fry¬†the prepared dumplings in medium hot oil. Offer them to ganesha and enjoy with family after his¬†puja. Happy Birthday Ganapti ūüôā

 

Hummus

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Homemade Hummus in my cute mason jar

Very excited to write my first recipe post sitting in my room in Mumbai. This is one of my favourite dips. It also doubles up as a healthy spread on whole wheat toast with some sliced cucumbers. I generally prefer more garlic and red chilli in mine.

To start preparing it, either take one can of chickpeas or if you are in India like myself and cannot find them easily soak and pressure cook the regular chickpeas with a little salt.

Hummus-1One of the main ingredients in making Hummus is the Tahini which can be easily made at home. Tahini is nothing but a ground paste of sesame seeds and olive oil.

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Toast around a tablespoon of sesame seeds on a wide pan till it leaves a nutty aroma. Put it in a coffee grinder.

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To this drizzle some good quality olive oil. The can pictured above is by far the best olive oil have tasted ever. It was a gift from my dearest Rishita & Kintan. I’ve snacked on it (yes the oil) mixed with a dash of balsamic vinegar with fresh baguette from Theobroma on lazy Sundays.

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Once the Tahini paste is ready, add it to the 1 cup of boiled chickpeas. Pop in 3 cloves of garlic for a strong garlicky flavour or just one clove for a milder version. Now add 2 tsps of red chilli powder and juice of half a lime.

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Blend it all with a little water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil till it is nice and smooth. Serve fresh. Add a dash of olive oil and sprinkle some more chilli powder while serving.

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I love making extra to store in my mason jars shipped all the way from Seattle. They are precious precious little jars and when stored in the refrigerator, it lasts easily for a week.

Merry Berry Cobbler

A new friend we met via Leo (Yes dogs can be a reason to make new friends) from one of his  off-leash parks date was visiting me over the weekend for coffee. I wanted to bake something simple with three things in my mind.

  • Bake under one hour
  • Cool off just enough so that it is still warm and gooey
  • Eggless as my friend doesn’t consume eggs.

Food Network is basically food porn for me. I generally don’t note any recipes. Just look at all saliva-inducing food and wish I was eating that instead of a bowl of leftover dinner. But there are times when a recipe hits the spot and you remember every single ingredient, such as this cobbler recipe. This easy version of a fruit cobbler was something I have been meaning to try for a while. So this was the perfect occasion.

As the rules with baking go measurements are the most important aspect. Just remember equal portions of everything. Since it was just for the two of us, I used 1/2 a cup of all ingredients. I started off melting 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, in a mixing bowl, then put in 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of self-raising flour and 1/2 cup of milk. Whisked it well and poured it into a greased baking tray.

I then topped it with the frozen berries we had in the freezer. Before topping them, I rinsed and patted the berries dry. After that, I sprinkled on some more granulated sugar before putting it into a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes.

Bake for longer if you are using more than 1/2 cup measurements. And sprinkle more sugar if you want a nice top crust. Don’t overcrowd the berries.

This is a perfect sweet fix to chat over coffee. A dollop of whipped cream would have added more yumminess but also the calories which we both didn’t need. It is one of those easy breezy recipes that can go in the oven while you quickly hide the scattered books, tea cups from last night and random wires before your friend pops over.