Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Recipe: Anand's birthday cake

Also christmas cake. Huge. Plenty of nuts and so forth. First off I had about 2 lbs of fruit (walnut, cranberries, raisins, almonds, cashew nuts, lemon rinds, pineapple, dried ginger, figs, pecans, cherries, dates) marinated in plenty of rum sitting there for about a month. Rest of the recipe:

Flour: 250g
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
6 eggs
1/2 oz. baking (unsweetened) chocolate, melted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp garam masala

Cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy and then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the chocolate, nuts and marinated fruit and stir. (You'll likely need to do this by hand.) Add the flour and remaining dry ingredients. Mix well - the batter wil lbe heavy.

Packed the batter into the largest pan we had (13 x 8 i think). Bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours plus 10 - 15 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick at the two hour mark; when it comes out clean, it’s done. When the cake is cool enough to handle, remove from the pan and move to a rack to finish cooling.

Westerners usually spend the next month pouring brandy into the cake. we've done our brandy pouring into the fruits.

Stolen from here: http://www.martinirepublic.com/item/bourbon-fruitcake/

Cake mix

I made some cake mix for Anand so he can bake his own cakes while he's by himself. I just mixed 4.5 cups of flour, 31/8 cups of sugar, 2 tbsp baking powder. To bake his cake all he needs to do is: cream half a cup of shortening, 1 egg, 1 cup of the mixture, add flavoring agents, some milk for the right consistency, bake in a 4 inch pan for 15 minutes at about 350 degrees.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


This is a Kannadiga delicacy. Great at any meal, but usually served as a dessert. Except it takes forever to prepare. Eaten with sweet badam milk.
For dough:
1 cup fine sooji (sometimes called chirotti sooji)
1 cup maida
3 tbsp ghee
1/4 tsp salt

Oil to deep fry

For the paste:
3 tbsp ghee
3 tbsp rice flour

For badam milk:
40 badams
1 ltr milk

For the seasoning:
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp clove powder

Preparation time (including dough resting): 4 hrs
Knead the maida, sooji, ghee and some water. The dough should be soft and tight. Let the dough sit for 2 hrs. Roll it out into some 8 or so chappattis. Now mix the ingredients for the paste together to make a glue. Glue the chappattis together with the paste between them. Roll the resulting chappatti into a log. Let this sit for a cpl hours. Now, cut this log laterally so that you get little circles of dough each with little spirals inside. Now roll out the little dough circles gently. Heat the oil. Now deep fry the chirotti until golden brown on medium. Mix the cardamom powder, sugar and clove powder together. Sprinkle on the chirottis.
To prepare the milk: Soak the badams for 6 hours. Skin the badams, and grind to a paste. Add to the milk and boil to a thick consistency.

Serve the chirotti with hot badam milk. Delicious.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Recipe: Molakootal

This is a typical Kerala Iyer preparation and loved by Kerala Iyers. Well, there are various versions of this molakoottal. I shall try to post all the traditional versions and my latest versions in due course.

Molakoottal essentially is a big vegetable soup enriched with protein(by the addition of liberal quantity of dal and coconut) and flavoured by coconut oil and curry leaves, which gives it the rich taste.It is an alltime favourite in the family, so much so, in the recent years, when the family went really global and the younger generation started getting brides /grooms from the other parts of the country, the new additions to the family have got addicted to it.

When I say additions, I am reminded of my uncle(my maternal aunt's husband)who had coined the word, bamboo addition(mola is bamboo and addition is koottal in malayalam) for molakoottal.

Molakoottal is usually mixed with steamed rice and eaten with a side dish known as Pachadi or Puliinji or Thayir Pachadi. Molakoottal is also followed by a course of rasam.

Now to the recipe:

Mixed vegetable molakoottal

Essentially, this mixed vegetable molakootal was made with different types of gourds and raw banana and yam. One can also make with the more commonly availbale vegetables of modern days.


ash gourd 100gms.

redpumpkin 100gms

raw banana 1/2 no.

yam(chena) 100gms

long beans(payar) 50gms.

toor dal 100gms

turmeric powder 1/2 tsp.

chilli powder 1tsp

salt to taste

fresh coconut 1cup

jeera 1/2 tsp

mustard 1tsp

uraddal 1tsp

coconut oil 1 tbsp.

curry leaves few

Cut all the vegetables into 1 inch cubes. Wash and pressure cook with the dal and turmeric powder.

Grind the coconut with jeera into a very smooth paste adding little water.

Boil the cooked vegetables and dal, adding salt and chili powder for 10mnts. Add the ground coconut and boil for 2 mnts.Remove from stove and add curry leaves.

In a small frying pan add 1 tbs. of coconut oil. and heat. when hot add the mustard seeds . When the mustard seeds splutter add the urad dal. When the dal becomes red in color remove from the stove add a few curry leaves and pour into the molakootal.



I have been too busy doing so many things, as our countdown to return to India started, I am not able to spend as much time in knitting. But, knit I must, as I have to complete the sweater and cap I am knitting for anand, before I leave.
I am alsmost thru the sweater, have come to first fitting level. Let anand try on it and I should be able to finish it by tomorrow.

I am 2" thru the cap and I have to work really fast.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Recipe: Balushahi, Rava Ladoo, Mohantal, Jahangir

I just could not come back to my blog for some time. I had been wanting to add so many things, i just couldnt sit down for it.

so, for Diwali in America, I made the following: Balushahi, ravaladoo, Jaahangir and Mohan tal and a little quantity of pokoda and baked maddur vadai.


preparation time - 30mnts.

cooking time-30mnts

prooving time-2 hrs.

Ingredients:4 cups flour, 1 cup butter(I used margarine),(refrigerated)11/2 cups sugar, 4 tbsp curds,(refrigerated) 1tsp baking soda, 1/2tsp salt. Oil for frying

Makes30 balushahis


Mix the flour and salt. As I had bought a electric hand mixer recently, I mixed the flour and salt for 2 mnts with the dough kneader blade.The flour and salt can also be seived twiceAdd the butter or margarined(refrigerated) and mix well so that the dough resembles bread crumbs. Mix the baking soda and curds and beat with a spoon a couple of times. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and knead well adding cold water if necessary ,to make a soft and pliable dough.( Now this is where one has to be very careful. The kneading has to be done well(you need great strength in your palms for this). I had the hand mixer this time, so the kneading was done to the right consistency.) Rest the dough in a cool place for 2 hrs.(it can be kept in the refrigerator also. The preparation can be done to this stage the previous day and dough can be kept in the fridge.)

Take sugar and 11/2 cup of water in a pan and boil to a one string consistency. Keep the syrup warm.

I used canola oil(Any veg. oil could be used).Meanwhile, heat the oil(I used canola oil any veg. oil could be used) in a flat shallow bottomed pan(I used the pressure pan). Do not allow the oil to smoke. Make small pedas of the dough. Roll in the palms to a ball and flatten. Make a small depression in the centre.Put into the hot oil one by one. remove the pan from the stove (you can reduce the heat to the minmum, if it can go to a very low temperature). The balushahis will turn on its own when one side is cooked. Bring the pan back to the stove and cook the other side also.When they are golden brown in color and well cooked remove from the oil, drain off the oil and dip in the sugar syrup. Let them soak in the sugar syrup till the next batch is fried. Remove from the sugar syrup and keep it aside. Fry all the balushahis this way and dip in the sugar syrup.

Boil the remaining sugar syrup to two string consistency and pour over the prepared balushahis. Decorate with colored coconut gratings.

Rava Ladoo

This is a Karnataka version of rava ladoo, a little different from the traditional tambram method. Many poeple liked this variation, when I had made it at home. So I tried it again with fantastic results.

Preparation time: 20mnts.

cooking time: 1 to 2 hrs.

Ingredients: 3 cups fine sooji, 3 cups grated copra, 3 cups sugar, 1/2 cup ghee, 1 tbsp. cashewnuts (broken), 1 tbsp. raisins, 1 tsp, cardomom pow., 1/2 cup warm milk, few strands saffron(optional)

30 ladoos.


Heat 1 tbsp. ghee in a kadai and fry the cashew nuts to a golden brown, remove and keep aside. Fry the raisins in the same ghee and remove and keep aside.

Add the remaining ghee and fry the sooji in a medium temp. until the raw smell disappears and u get a good fragrance.Switch off the heat.. Add the the copra and sugar and keep stirring for 5 mor mnts.Add the cardomom and fried cashews and raisin and saffron dissolved in milk and mix well.Make a small well in the centre and add little warm milk and make into ladoos.(It will be hot to touch , yet the ladoos have to be made when the mixture is hot)


Preparation time:5 mnts.

Cooking time: 45 mnts.

Ingredients: 1cup Besan, 1 cup Ghee, 1/2 cup milk powder(khoya can also be used),1 tbs. cashew nuts broken, 2 cups sugar, cardomom pow. 1 tsp.

Take a thick bottomed kadai(again, I used the pressure cooker) and add the ghee. When the ghee is hot add the cashew pieces. When the cashew turn to golden brown add the besan and fry until the raw smell disappears. Remove from the stove and keep aside.Add the khoya or milk powder and mix well until they are well blended.

Make a two string consistency sugar syrup and add the cardomom pow., and remove from the stove.( The remaining procedure to be done away from the stove). Pour the above mixture into the sugar syrup amd keep stirring until the mixture thickens to the cake consistency. Pour into a greased thali and cut into desired shape..


Preparation time: 1 hr.

Cooking time: 1/2 hr.

Ingredients: 1 cup whole urad dal,1 tbs. raw rice 2 cups sugar,1tbsp. raw rice, food color

makes 30 jahangirs


Soad urad dal and rice for 1/2 hr. Grind adding very little water at a time, just to keep the blades moving(in a wet grinder it is very easy and grinds to perfection).When the urad dal is ground to a very smooth and fluffy and light paste, remove.

Meanwhile make a one string syrup of sugar and water . Add the food color and keep the syrup warm.

Heat oil in a flat bottomed shallow pan and squeeze te urad dal bater thru a jahangir maaker . Fry on both sides and dip in the sugar syrup. Keep the jahangir in the syrup until the next batch is ready.Drain and keep on a plate to cool.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Random Thoughts - In US

Being in US has thrown up a lot of challenges to my culinary skills I have been cooking for more than 30 years now and have always been trying out newer rceipes and loved cooking and having people over.I had thought about varieties of meals and snacks to be prepared while in US. Mostly because Anand has been away from us for 10 years and in all these ten years we have spent just about 3 months with him, when he visited us. This has always given me a heartache that I have not been able to cook for him all that I wanted or thought he would have liked to eat.(It is another story that he is now least concerned about the variety of meals, immersed that he is in his all consuming new passion, his work.May he reach the heights he is looking up to).

So, immediately after I got over my jet lag,I started preparing goodies which used to turn out perfect in India, but here they were a far cry from what they intended to be.It was very frustrating, as more than ever before, I wanted them to be the best now,It made me try out smaller and smaller batches of everything, from cheedai to murukku to pakodas, without satisfaction.This drove me to a point of despearation. With experience, I realised, it was not as if I had lost my culinary skills half way across the globe, but it had to do with the stove. Back home, we are used to gas burners and here we have only electric hot plates. The electric hot plates are great for pressure cooking and not for making murukku or neyyappam. The reason being they heat up the bottom of the pan only and not heat the pan from all sides.So none of my crispies turned crispies, which was the cause of my frustration.

How I overcame my frustration will be posted in due course.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My first and fastest Poncho and other knitting thoughts

I Have been knitting eversince, I was 19 years. I may have knitted and crochetted, may be a hundred sweaters,many of them my own patterns. I have never recorded the patterns, all these days. Maybe, I should start doing it from now on.

I knit and crochet, while travelling, walking, reading, watching tv. The most difficult part of my knitting/crochet project is the selection of pattern. Though I have hundreds of patterns to choose from the books, I have collected over 30+ years, each time, I want to make a new sweater, I have to go thru all of them again and again and more often that not, after some two days of searching, I am still not happy with any of the patterns. Either, the stich do not suit the garment I have in my mind, or I do not have the right type of yarn, the pattern prescribes( I live in India, where we do not get a big variety of yarns.The pattern books, I have are all printed abroad and talk about yarns, available there). Then I start thinking of designing my own pattern( I do take some tips from the patterns from the books, like the design of the garment, etc. So I pour over my stiches book and with great difficulty pick up 4 or 5 stiches. I make swatches and show to my family(my husband and two sons) and get their opinion.Then I sit and write the various changes I have to make from the original pattern and start. Usually, once I start on a project, I work on it atleast 2-3 hours a day and try to finish it as soon as possible. Yet I do have many unfinished projects, started long ago.

I have finished this crochet Poncho for a little girl in 4 hours time. It is the fastest garment I have ever made. I am also working, now on a baby garment, 80% of which is done. May be, by tomoroow, i will be able to finish it.


halloween is big festival in the US.People keep heaps of pumpkins in front of their houses.They also have spooky decorations in the front yard, like skeletons, spiders, ghosts, etc. Towards the end of the month people carve pumpkins and keep lanterns in them.

They make pumpkin pies and icecreams and cakes and what have you. When you drive thru any farming district, you can see patches and patches of pumpkins in various shapes and colours and sizes. We saw a pumpkin which weighed about 620 kg. in a festival in halfmoon bay.

Halloween, I understand is celeberated as a harvest festival, as well as a festival to remember the forefathers.

The pumpkins in the frontyard, reminds me of the vishukani and kolu in our places. And also, around the same time of the year, we in India, observe the Mahalaya Paksha, when we offer special prayers to our forefathers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005