A Quick Recipe to Make Kalakand!!

We all like simple and easy recipes. Every now and then, we want to be able to whip something up in minutes, treat the unexpected guests, celebrate the sudden success, and reward the husband on a rare occasion when he delivers (haha) . Everyone would like an impromptu treat. I don’t have massive sweet tooth but I would definitely go for a small serving just to remind myself of that fact.

Some of the Indian sweets I do like to dig in though is Kalakand. I have found that texture and the look bear a great deal of significance and factor into my tastes. Kalakand is usually not very sweet and has that brown ombre effect. Kalakand is usually a very long winded recipe, from reducing the milk, condensing and sweetening it and then setting it in trays. It takes hours of hard work and labour to get to the final delicacy.

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What I have today for you is a short and quick recipe to make this sweet. A recipe that is passed on to me by my mum. I have always counted on it during crisis when you NEED a desert. The recipe leads you to a quick easy and delicious sweet meat which you will love!!

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You will need:

370 grams  can of condensed milk (not sure why the weight is so odd and not rounded off on my can)

2 Tbsp. Full Fat Yoghurt

1 ½ Tbsp. Ghee

Appliances/tools :

Microwave

Tray

Greaseproof paper

Makes : 10-12 small Squares of kalakand

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Method:

Empty the condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl, add the yoghurt and ghee.

Give it a good stir and microwave at high speed for 10 minutes. Stirring at least twice in between.

You will see the milk has curdled and all the liquids have reduced. You should end up with a gooey, kalakand with its gorgeous aroma. Remove from the microwave, spread it in a tray lined with greaseproof sheet and let it cool and set

Now, I like it a bit gooey so I usually remove it from microwave in about 12 minutes maximum. You can always microwave for couple more minutes if you rather prefer a drier version. Once the kalakand is set, cut it up and enjoy.

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Story of Parental Guilt & Butternut Squash Recipe!!

Our Diet – Let me start this post with an honest statement. Both my husband and I struggle to eat healthy. We can eat light but just can’t eat healthy. We are, however trying very hard to change this lifestyle and be kind to our bodies. While we are at it, I am trying my hands on some delicious soup that I always thought looked good but never made them because there were simply no takers at home. One of them I was so impressed with was the butternut squash soup. Lovely colour and tempting flavours, and above all it was to my five year Old’s taste as well.  I have to admit that it is challenging at times to please all the taste buds in the family. As much as the fact that our diet is not an ideal one, we as parents have always passed on the good eating habits to our son. Well, maybe not pass on but at least preached all the healthy mantras. As they say practicing is a lot harder than preaching…….or rather preaching is waaa…y easier than practicing J  . Having said that, I am really proud to say that my five year old does not drink any fizzy drinks or even the sugary stuff that they sell for kids which they call juice except on rare occasions at a friend’s birthday party where all the kids are having it. But the fact is that he knows chocolate and sweets doesn’t have to be an everyday affair and the important part of meal is the greens. I have loads of instances where he doesn’t eat his greens, but I have never had an occasion where he wanted Mc Donald’s, extra servings of deserts or fizzy drinks. Fast food especially is a big no for him and I really hope he sticks to these habits when he grows. He even knows the difference between how healthy homemade food can be in comparison to frozen and fast foods. Of course, I thought him all that, but as I said I literally preached what little facts I know as casually as I taught him numbers and alphabets. And I honestly didn’t foresee the consequences

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The consequences – I was a regular cola drinker .And I know it can be difficult to stay away from it, if you are used to it. Trust me, it was easy to stick everything ill about fizzy drinks in the little brain of my son, but when he started talking or rather started questioning, that’s when I realised I am in a great trouble. My son started asking me questions like ‘cola is not good for me now …can I drink it when I grow up? ‘Or ‘if it’s not healthy, why are you drinking?’  And then one day I confessed to him …saying ‘Mamma also wants to avoid and is trying to’…  The amount of embarrassment we (the hubby or I) went through after that was both hilarious and enlightening. Every time we shamelessly ordered cola in a restaurant or picked up a crate at the grocery store we found ourselves in an embarrassing situation where a little boy is shouting at the top of the voice asking us to keep it back because cola is not good. It was hilarious at first and then you look up and find that we have now caught the attention of the fellow shoppers. I know they are now all looking at us waiting to see if I’d put the cola back or continue to buy it. After the embarrassment, it was the immense shame being told by a five year old followed by guilt and parental responsibility. I had many choices to deal with the situation- Ignore him, shush him, say that this is a grown up’s deal and that he can’t question a clever grown up, or even worse, let him drink fizzy drinks OR get my act right and step out of denial mode. I chose the latter!

And Finally – Kids are innocent!  They go by the rules until YOU mess it up. We have decided we won’t mess it up and are now slowly progressing towards a cola free life. I am amazed how my thirst actually gets quenched after drinking a glass of water.  The late night sips of cola just because my son was sleeping, making sure you get enough cola into your system at work so you won’t feel the need for it at home, the occasional excuses and pretence of giving it up have disappeared.  I have to admit that honest attempts of saying ‘no’ to cola are my proud moments. I know this is just a start and I have to make a lot of changes like this if I want to see my son have a healthy and active life.

Ok …..I have baffled a lot now! Coming back to our soup, I have looked at several recipes and explored the various flavours/techniques used and finally went with a mixture of ingredients that I liked and something that works for me and my kitchen. That is how I usually cook anything.  So, here goes the recipe!!

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You will need:

2 Medium sized Red onions

2 Red Chillies

3 Garlic pod

½ of a Fresh Rosemary Bunch

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

3 Celery Sticks

3- 4 Carrots

2 Medium sized Butternut Squash

2 litres Chicken Stock

Salt to taste

Fresh Ground Pepper

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Method:

Chop the butternut squash, celery, onions, carrots, red chillies roughly.

Heat about 3 spoons of olive oil in a big pan and sweat the Onions, Garlic and Red Chillies. Add the chopped Celery and Carrots and let them cook for 5 minutes. Add the butternut squash along with the Rosemary and cook for another 2 min. Add the chicken stock , season it and let it cook for at least 30 -40 minutes. Here, I took a fast approach and pressure cooked the vegetables.
Remove the pot from heat and using a hand blender puree the mixture into a soup. Check for seasoning.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, freshly ground pepper and crunchy croutons.

Enjoy the soup steaming hot!

Here’s to a healthy lifestyle!!

Soup 2

Pancakes with Berry Compote

I have only recently learnt that Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday is celebrated on a day before Lent day before starting the 40 day fasting and eating not so rich foods like eggs, meat and dairy products. It’s interesting to see how we have embraced just the pancake bit as a tradition and overlooked the fasting bit. Oh, well, I guess that is how it rolls these days. It’s a pick n mix kind of culture. And moreover who doesn’t like pancakes??

We are a small family of three and yet have to struggle when it comes to mealtimes because all three of us have very different tastes. And that is where my favourite breakfast comes into picture – Pancakes!  Pancakes are something where you can make the basic recipe and then everyone can choose their toppings right from sweet, savoury, meaty. My five year old likes the traditional lemon and sugar pancakes, I love my chocolate and anything fancy J and my guy wants it savoury. Yeah …..As I said .we do have varied tastes

I have an age old basic fool proof pancake recipe which I am going to share with you today. And if you have followed me on any social media sites, you will have noticed that it has been a busy week for me making pancakes for a wide range of friends and family. Thy have loved it and have been tagging me with their plate of pancake on social media sites. Again I give the credit to my fool proof recipe, which came to my rescue so many times when asked to make them impromptu, but the highlight was the pots of berry compote I have been making to serve my pancake with an of course the generous dollops of crème fraiche. Do give it a try …It is gorgeous!

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Ingredients:

For the pancakes:

300 ml Semi skimmed milk

140 grams plain flour

Pinch of salt

Pinch of sugar

2 large eggs

100 grams unsalted butter

For the Berry Compote:

150 grams Strawberries cut in quarters

100 grams Blueberries

50 grams Raspberries

200 grams Crème Fraiche

2 Tbsps Sugar(Optional)

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Method:

For Pancakes:

In a good size mixing bowl, beat the eggs and milk together. Add the pinch of salt and sugar. Slowly add the plain flour and keep mixing the batter until it is smooth and does not have any lumps.

Heat the pan and brush it with butter. Depending on the size of your pan, pour one or two ladles of batter. Use the handle of the pan to rotate and spread the batter as a thin layer. Once you have a thin pancake after spreading the batter, pour any excess batter into the bowl. Practice makes it perfect and your understanding of how hot your pan is. Once the bottom side of the pancake is cooked, flip it to the other side and cook for the next one minute and remove it to serve on a plate or place them as a stack.

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For the Compote:

Take a deep pan and place all the strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and cook on a low flame.

Let the juices of the berries ooze out and the raspberries are the first ones to disintegrate and hold the rest of the berries together in a sauce. Taste the sauce at this point and add the sugar if you need it. You can always leave it fresh and the berries you have used are sweet naturally.  Remove from heat and serve it as a beautiful topping with your pancakes along with generous helping of crème fraiche.

Variations:

  • Just sprinkle some chocolate chips before you fold the pancake for a pleasant surprise for whoever are digging into the pancake
  • For the pancake mix, if your are using whole milk, dilute it with about 100 ml water
  • Spread some cheese on the pancake before folding them for a savoury twist.

Have a delicious pancake day!!

 

Pumpkin and Courgette Croquettes

Hello my dear lovely readers, this morning I woke up to another gloomy day and here’s me wishing that I am tucked in bed, with huge mug of hot chocolate. But hey, after all life is about winter and summer. So I have decided I will just deal with it and get on with the day to day chores. But that’s easier said than done. Weather or weather related topics rather, are hard to run away from. We don’t have a way out apart from dragging our gloomy selves to work in the freezing cold, greet the other gloomy faced colleagues and talk about how bad it is outside.

The only thing that cheers our sick faces is of course piping hot deep fried food! It is almost customary in India to make something hot, spicy and crispy when it rains. Onions bajis are the most favoured on these occasions. I wanted to make something similar and so gawked at all the deep fried recipes available and was amazed of the ongoing croquettes craze going on all over. It was on the fine dining menus, the café menus and on almost all the food blogs. Now, my blogger instinct immediately ordered me to make some. This is of course way back during Halloween last year …err yes, I do leave my posts pending for months. If you have to ask me , this time I will blame it on a really busy work schedule, travelling to meet clients and working in their strange offices and of course a holiday to India which put a beautiful end to the year. And since I have started blabbering, a quick one about the strange offices I mentioned earlier. I said strange because, A. though I have worked with them from our office in London, I have never met anyone there, so it was always a weird ‘guess the face from the voice’ sought game on all the time. And B. there used to be an annoying alarm that would go off in regular intervals which I didn’t have a clue what it was about. Later I was told that the siren was to remind employees to take a coffee break, lunch break etc….how cool is that? Totally different from my big boss back in London office who I definitely think has a spreadsheet to keep record of our coffee and toilet breaks.

OK, so we were talking about me thinking about making some croquettes just after Halloween and for obvious reasons I had loads of pumpkin in the fridge. I have seem pumpkin croquette recipes on the web and it was just that day when all my creative juices were on a high and I whipped up a combination of Pumpkin, Courgette and Cream Cheese croquettes. Trust me, I loved it and was so proud of it.  With that cream cheese texture and the sweetness of pumpkin, they are a melt in the mouth. They are also very easy  to make (well, apart from the grating bit). The croquettes can be made till the last stage and frozen for those cosy evenings or unexpected visitors.

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Ingredients:

1 Cup grated Pumpkin

1 ½ Cup grated Courgette

150grams Cream Cheese

1 Tsp Cumin powder

1 Tsp Ginger powder

1 Egg

1 Cup breadcrumbs Seasoned

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Method:

Mix the grated pumpkin and courgette. Try to use fresh ones, and squeeze all the moisture out of the pumpkin and courgette. Add the cumin powder and the ginger powder. Add the cream cheese and season well.  Now depending on the mixture, if you feel it is a bit runny to make the shapes, feel free add any binding agent like soft white bread or corn flour.  Shape the croquette using your palm. Do use some oil on your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick to your hands and makes shaping the croquettes easier.

Dip the croquettes in beaten egg and then generously toss them in breadcrumbs.

Deep fry them in hot vegetable oil until golden brown and serve with any sauce.

To Freeze:

Make the croquettes and place them in the fridge for at least one hour before freezing so they will hold their shape together.

Variations:

  • Add some crushed Chillies for some fiery treat!
  • You can use some boiled peas in them for extra texture
  • Add a herb if you like that fresh flavour
  • Milk or just plain flour can be substituted to egg to coat the croquettes with breadcrumbs

Do let me know if tried these !!

Cafe Mocha Cupcakes

Coffee is one of the few things that tastes great both hot and cold. The chilled frappuccinos in hot summer and piping hot cuppas in the more chilly weathers just lift your mornings. Coffee was not one of my favourite beverages until 2005. It was only a ‘cool’ thing to do during the happy college days. Coffee shops were then the most favoured hangouts.  They used to be perfect both to catch up with friends and for those cheeky mini dates. Your group is cool if you hang out in coffee shops. It’s romantic to chat away with boyfriend  sipping cold coffee. And thanks to these coffee shops, sitting alone with a book and a huge cuppa is no longer weird.  I never liked the hot coffee though. Just for the fact that they had steaming milk in them and although I love cold milk I’d literally throw up if I drank boiled milk. And coffee in India is mostly served with lots of milk. So, in one way it is a good thing I didn’t drink as much coffee as everyone around me did and so I didn’t get addicted like many others.

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 ‘I am very efficient at work. I have never missed a coffee break’  

Coming to London, and having looked at a completely different way to consume tea and coffee without boiling the milk lead the way for me to give caffeine a try again. Initially I drank to literally have a coffee break and to stroll away from my desk. Then I fell in love with the fresh aroma of coffee and now I kind of relish a nice big mug of black coffee almost every day. Having said that  I am fine if I don’t get one for the day. I think I am fortunate in that way.

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I was to make some cupcakes for the BBPC #2 assignment and looked up for some nice cupcake recipes. As usual I was running up to the photo submission deadline and the focus was on the photography (cough cough) Yes…Me and photography …..  I chose a very simple coffee cupcakes recipe. But I was more than pleased with the result. I took them to work and three people commented that I was in the wrong profession,  Bless ‘em.  The recipe was adapted from here, I did add this and that, here and there till I got some not so strong coffee flavoured cupcakes with just the right amount of coffee and chocolate in the butter cream icing.  And you know what I am pleased with the pictures too thanks to BBPC. I submitted the below picture for the assignment.

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To make 6-8 of these gorgeous cupcakes you will need : 

100g Sugar

100g Unsalted butter

2 eggs

100 grams self raising flour

2 Tsp Espresso (I used Precol medium)

Coffee beans for garnishing

For the icing : 

120g Butter

120g Icing Sugar

1 1/2 Tsp Espresso

75g Melted Chocolate

Method: 

Pre heat the oven up to 180 degrees.

Beat the Sugar and butter until fluffy.

Add the eggs and beat them.

Slowly start adding the flour and the espresso.

Mix everything well and spoon them into the cupcake cases. These will rise well so only fill the cases about half way. Bake them in the oven for 15-20 mins and Let them cool

For the Icing:

Mix the butter, and icing Sugar

Add the espresso

Add the melted chocolate and beat well.

Finishing:

Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and decorate with coffee beans and serve, Trust they are simple but have a very luxurious and elegant taste.

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A Trip Back To 1873

The Last few weeks have been very eventful and exiting for me. It all started with an amazing event hosted by Great British chefs team which had David Graffen sharing tips and tricks on food photography and Marcus Wareing sharing some amazing thoughts on food, photography and blogging. The bloggers were later flocked into the Kitchen and dining area in the Google offices to indulge into various delicious canape’s and drinks and of course shoot them as they come out of kitchen. All this was topped up with some generous vouchers for cocktails at The GibertScott in Kings cross.  Foodies as we were, our group, Nisha @Look who’s cooking too, Suchi @Kitchen Karma, Vineetha @Malabar Ruchi, Manjiri @Sliceoffme, decided to catch up for a night out almost immediately. Adding to our excitement, the generous management of The Gilbert Scott restaurant have offered to give us a tour of the historical building and that just took the entire evening out at a fabulous restaurant to a completely different level.

Set in the perfect location to get that last drink before you catch the euro star, grab an express lunch between appointments, a romantic fine dining experience or a group dinner in the beautiful private dining room. A masterpiece of the renowned architect George Gilbert Scott is really a treat to the eye. You make your way through the hustle and bustle of the busy kingscross St Pancras station and walk into a magnificent setting taking you back into the old world instantly. The huge chandeliers and other elegant ornaments complimented the bright red wall décor and the red bricks to perfection. Every room is filled with character pouring out of the paintings, carvings and furniture.The high ceilings and tall pillars offer perfect justification of the fact that the building has survived up to four bombings during the second world war. The wide staircases leading up to the hotel rooms looks as if there are numerous tales of the guests who stayed there, to be told, waiting to burst out of the walls any time. I don’t know about others but every time I enter into a building with so much history to it, gives me goosebumps.

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We were guided by a friendly manager, who had so much information about the history of the building, operations in the restaurant etc. As we walked through the bar into the main restaurant, the aroma of freshly prepared dishes was wafting in the air while they were being served to the guests. There are only few smells that you can manage to remember in your thoughts and the fish I smelt in the restaurant was one of them. Every member of the staff have a smile on their face and greet you with warmth. of course this is bit I tend to look out for when choosing restaurants.

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Next is the super attraction, The kitchen. We were there in the evening and it hadn’t got busy yet. So we had a good look around and oohed ahhed at their wine collection. The chef’s table is so well thought. It’s semi circular in shape so all the guests on the table get a fair view of the kitchen. I am definitely going back for a tasting menu very soon.

The Gilbert Scott Kitchen Table                                           Photo Courtesy: The Gilbert Scott

We later, of course had some cocktails and bar bites which was a great way to finish off the visit. we had to try the star cocktail ‘1873′ which is named after the year the hotel came into being . It is truly an indulging concoction of Bombay Sapphire, apple, cranberry and rhubarb fizzed up together. A must try on the menu for sure. Then of course we tried several other cocktails some of which we remember and some we don’t :) . I am definitely going back, you should not miss the experience too ..so go book that table at The Gilbert Scott.

Copy of High res bar                                           Photo Courtesy: The Gilbert Scott

Pull Apart Garlic Butter Bread Stuffed With Chedder Cheese

Another amazing baking challenge by Manujla Kanted from Desi Fiesta  via Homebakers Challenge . And I am posting this after months past the challenge deadline. Well I tend to get on the baking bit quiet in time but writing it up and posting take a million years for me because I hardly get those intimate few hours in front of the computer in my typical day when I can concentrate on writing. I am not complaining because, this is because I am slacking but because I am occupied and often that means spending time with my family and spending time with my son. I relish those two precious hours we get to spend together everyday between 6pm to 8PM till it is his bed time. Stories from school, reading books, dinner time and board games makes me content. I wish I could spend more time in the day like that but at the same time I also think, running the rat race all day is what makes these two hours so special. So, again no complaints. Now, coming to the bakers’ challenge, here my take on it…

Bread is something you start relishing even before you start making it. I enjoyed the whole process of baking this particular bread. Kneading the dough with warm melted garlic butter is magic. The aroma lifts you into a fairy tale….until  your hands start cursing you for starting it (if you are not using a fancy kitchen aid appliance) . But, The magic resumes and the fairy tale is back once the bread is in oven and your whole neighbourhood is filled with the aroma. You are sitting there with a  cup of tea eagerly waiting for the bread to rise, turn golden brown and become the spectacular centre piece on your dining table.

I was overwhelmed by all the pictures posted online of stuffed breads or pull breads. They looked very complicated and something which requires craft. But, I soon realised the water roux method to bake the bread is quiet simple. The cheese fan as I am, I had to incorporate some cheese and garlic in the bread which is just AWESOME.

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You will need these ingredients:

Water roux:

1/3 cup bread flour
1 cup water

Main Dough:

2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 Tsp. sugar
1/2  Tsp. Salt
1 1/2 Tsp. Dried Thyme
100 ml of water plus 2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 Tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tsp. yeast
3 Tbsp. butter melted
1-2 Garlic cloves

For stuffing :

Lots of cheddar cheese chilled and cut in cubes

Method :

Prepare the rough mixture by combining the rough ingredients in a small pan and stir it on medium flame untill  the mixture is bubbling. immediately remove from heat and leave it to cool.
Crush the garlic cloves into the butter, add thyme and leave it aside to mix it to the dough later.
Pre heat the oven to 350F and grease your pan.

In a big bowl add all the ingredients and start mixing them including the garlic butter. knead well untill the dough is soft and easy to handle. Let the dough rest for at least 20 minutes. Knead the dough again and divide the dough into balls.  flatten the dough balls, place a nice big chuck of cheddar cheese in the centre and seal the ball. Repeat for all the balls. Place the balls in a pan of your choice, either a loaf tim or a cake pan and bake for 20 minutes. let the bread slightly cool and it should come of the pan straight away. Share the pull apart bread with the family and enjoy!

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With the same dough I also made a sandwich kind of load with mozzarella cheese. Just Roll the dough into a thick rectangle and cut it into slices. Drain the mozzarella pieces well, otherwise  your loaf will be soggy. Seal the sides and place it in a loaf tin and bake for 15 minutes or untill its golden brown. Trust me it was very delicious and was a hit on the table.

mozzerella loaf

Home bakers challenge

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