Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Image-1Who eats ice cream during cold, rainy days? Well, someone who has just baked a fresh batch of gooey, hot chocolate fudge brownies!

Usually when it pours, I crave for deep-fried, spicy and crunchy food. But this time while it poured, I was looking at celebrating one of the biggest achievements of my life! And the fact that this news has renewed my bond with all of my loved ones, long lost friends and people who mean a lot to me!

Rain or shine, I love fudge brownies with ice cream. Most recipes I know call for a lot of separate mixing of ingredients but since it was raining and I had to eat almost immediately, I decided to mix all the ingredients in one large bowl.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
3/4th cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 tbsp refined vegetable oil
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Processed with MOLDIV
Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°. Grease a 9″ × 13″ baking tray.

Mix together all the ingredients in the order that they are written in. Beat them till they are no lumps. Spoon in the mixture in the baking tray. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check if they are done by inserting a fork or toothpick in the brownies. If it comes out clean, the brownies are done.

Let them cool completely before cutting them into squares. Enjoy the moist, sticky fudge and ditch the ice cream, if you please!

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Kanji Payar: Ritualistic Rain Food

As rains beat down the parched earth last night, my city rejoiced with some ritualistic rain foods. In India, it’s amazing how one relates to rain food depending on the state or region they belong to.

For example, people in Gujarat start queuing up outside shops selling hot dalwadas at the first hint of rain. This crunchy deep-fried food is served with sliced onions and fried-salted green chillies along with a steaming cuppa masala chai.

If you are from the northern part of the country, I am sure the rains will make you crave for bhutta (corn on the cob) and spicy pakode.

Khichuri with Ilish Maach during monsoon have a special place in the heart of Bengalis while Keralites (at least the ones I know) wait for monsoon to make the humble and nutritious kanji-payar (rice porridge with moong dal).

Yes, you guessed it right. This post is about Kanji-Payar, which is like a warm hug during cold, rainy nights. But most of all, this post is about a dear friend of mine, a non-Keralite, who loves this comfort food of Keralites and can have it all around the year.

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Vinay Umarji, whom I met about eight years ago, has been like the kanji-payar in my life. Boring usually 😀 but an indispensable part of my life. He is the kanji payar that I need after I have had a series of wrong food choice.

He is quite goofy, like Mr. Bean but smart and highly intelligent. Of course there are things that I dislike about him but the good in him overpowers the irritating things about him. The most irritating thing about him is that he repeats everything you say! But one quality (among many) for which I have high regards for him is that he really doesn’t bother what people think or say about him. He is a perfectionist when it comes to work and no, he hasn’t paid me yet to say all these good things about him.

I had been wanting to dedicate a post to him for years now but the right moment came today: When I shared exciting news about my life with him and he had the same exciting news to share with me about his life! At first I thought he was just trying to irritate me by repeating what I said! Moving on to the recipe for kanji payar…

Kanji Payar

For kanji:

Wash one cup Kerala red rice and cook it in a pressure cooker with 4 cups of water for at least 4 whistles. Once done, season it with salt.

For payar:

image1 (9)Soak whole moong dal in water for at least 4 hours or overnight. In a pressure cooker, cook the dal with a pinch of turmeric and salt to taste. Blend one cup shredded coconut, a pinch of cumin, three shallots, four or five small garlic cloves and some water to  make a paste. Add this mixture to the boiled moong dal and cook till the first boil. Switch off the stove and add a tempering of mustard seeds, 2 split red chilly and curry leaves in coconut oil.

Enjoy the steaming bowl of kanji payar while you watch the rains.

 

 

Simple, healthy Upma

I’ll eat some breakfast and then change the world!

It took me a long time in life to realize the importance of a good breakfast. And after that realization, I have been really good with planning my breakfast well in advance. So this morning, i decided to have the traditional South Indian breakfast–Upma or Upmaav as we call it in Kerala. Really quick and easy to make, Upma not only fills your appetite but is also highly nutritious. Whenever I have had a discussion about Upma (yes, i discuss Upma like other people discuss global issues :D), the most common question has been of how to make it soft without making it sticky. The answer lies in the method of making it in the traditional way, which you will find in my recipe below.

breakfast quote Upma

Ingredients:
200 gms of Semolina: The hero of this dish, semolina or rava is a coarse flour made out of durum wheat
2 cups of Water
4-5 sliced Shallots or Madras Onion
2 slit Green Chillies
A small piece of ginger, chopped
Mustard seeds
1 tsp of urad dal (split, skinless black gram)
2 tbsp Coconut oil
Curry leaves
Half a cup of shredded coconut for garnish
Salt to taste

Processed with MOLDIV
Upma served in a coconut shell

Method:

Roast the semolina in a non stick pan, making sure that it doesn’t turn brown. Keep aside.
In a pan, heat the oil, add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add urad dal and saute till they turn golden. Then add the sliced shallots, chopped ginger, curry leaves, green chillies and saute till the shallots turn translucent. Add water and salt. Now, the consistency of your upma will depend on how much water you add. Generally, the proportion of water is the same as that of semolina. So, if you are using one cup of semolina, then add one cup of water and so on.

Once the water boils, add the semolina slowly while stirring continuously with the other hand. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or till the water absorbs the semolina. Once cooked, add shredded coconut and stir the upma before you turn the stove off. Simple, isn’t it?

 

Spicy, sour, sweet Prawn curry!

I love cooking prawns. And last Sunday was about a delicious prawn curry from my most-frequented vacation destination: GOA!

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My bowl of bliss!

The recipe I used is of NDTV’s Chef Aditya Bal. I have made this before during summers but this time it was special because I had just spoken to him a couple of weeks ago for a food related event that my company was hosting. I admire this chef because his recipes are healthy (he is a model-turned-chef) and easy to follow.

This particular Goan prawn curry has a very strange mix of ingredients. It is a combination of ripe mangoes, jaggery, tamarind and spices, making it a very interesting, sweet-sour-spicy affair!

Goan Prawns Ambot Tik with Kerala Rice and Pappadam

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Ambot (sour) and Tik (spicy) in Portuguese, this dish is traditionally made with fish by Goans. As I did not measure my ingredients, I am going to the recipe straightaway.

I cooked about 500 gms prawns with salt and turmeric in water till they were half done. Drained them. You can keep the stock for later, in case your gravy is too thick.

I roasted the following and made a paste out of it:
Cumin, fennel seeds, red and green chillies, black pepper and coriander seeds in 2 tbsp oil.

I fried this paste in 2 tbsp oil and then added soaked tamarind water (I prefer fish tamarind), a small piece of jaggery, a few cubes of ripe mango, one cup of coconut milk and prawns.

Then, I added some salt and let the gravy thicken. You can temper it with the usual mustard-red chillies-curry leaves, which I skipped.

 

 

Until next year, sweetness!

The summer’s about to end in this part of India and many are trying to make the most of mangoes before the rains take away their favourite fruit.

I see neighbours hurriedly peeling raw mangoes to pickle them, colleagues rushing to the nearby cafe to taste mango cheesecakes and mango shakes and kids being coaxed (and sometimes playfully threatened) to finish their plate of mangoes before it rains on the lovely mango trees, thus rendering the mangoes tasteless. Sometimes I feel that mangoes are like a one-time leading actress in a Hindi movie who makes a “comeback”, rather keeps making comebacks after few intervals. I know people who rigidly refuse to touch a mango after it rains. Celebrated when at the peak and sidelined at the slightest hint of pour,  I wonder what poor little mangoes have to say about this.

There were some showers in my city last Sunday. And since then, the “mango talk” has come down drastically in my circle.  But all of a sudden, two days ago, a colleague mentioned that she had a tall glass of mango milkshake for breakfast and reminded me of how delicious a mango milkshake tastes! My way of giving a decent farewell to this delicious, golden fruit until next year!

Here is my super simple recipe of a Mango Milkshake! Enjoy!

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Mango Milkshake

Ingredients:
Two mangoes, peeled, cubed and frozen for 20 mins
Milk: 1 cup if you want a thick shake and 1.5 cups if thin
Sugar: 2 teaspoons
Ice (optional)

Blend all the ingredients. Serve in a tall glass. Enjoy whatever is left of the summers! 🙂

 

Wish you a Mangolicious summer!

Summer’s in full swing and it’s not the favourite season of most Indians. Among the very few good things about an Indian summer are the lovely mangoes that start flooding the market around March. When the temperatures soar to over 40 degrees outside, there is nothing more exciting than a juicy mango before a meal, with a meal and after a meal! 😀

For those delicious, naturally ripe ones, it is advisable to wait till the beginning of May. It’s not for nothing that this tropical fruit is considered to be the ‘King of Fruits’ here in this country. Raw or ripe, made into a chutney, shrikhand or smoothie, used in salads, curries and desserts, Mango season is full of possibilities in an optimistic foodie’s world.

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Brined raw mangoes with chaat masala

Mangoes are grown in many states across India and each state has its own, specific recipe for raw and ripe mango. So even if it is a common Mango recipe, say a pickle, even then the taste of a mango pickle from each state is unique. While Gujaratis love mango juice (keri no ras) with their roti and puri, they also make it a point to make a fresh batch of chhundo (pickled raw mango) every year. The North Indians make a variety of mean raw mango chutneys and we Keralites love both raw and sometimes, ripe mangoes, in our curries. Some of my Bengali friends like to make sandesh or kalakand (sweet) with mangoes and the Marathis love their Aamba dal. While my favourite mango recipe from Goa is Prawns Ambotik, the Assamese Aampitha served with sweetened cold milk in summers is something else. 

Recently, I made this traditional Maambazha pulissery, a Mango-yogurt-coconut recipe from Kerala. It’s my most looked forward to dish during summers as it goes with all sorts of side dishes when served with steamed, hot red rice. What makes this recipe a must try for mango and yogurt lovers is its simplicity.

Maambazha pulissery 

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Ingredients:

Ripe mangoes – 3 nos, any variety would do
Yogurt/Thick buttermilk, lump free – 1 cup
Grated/Shredded coconut – 1/2 cup
Green chillies – 2, if hot, otherwise 3
Turmeric – a pinch
Red chilli powder for some colour – a pinch
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Water – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

For tempering:
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek (Methi) seeds- 1 tsp
Whole red chillies – 2 large ones
Curry leaves – as many as you like

Method:

In a clay pot, boil mangoes with salt, turmeric, red chilli powder and water. In a mixer, make a paste of coconut, green chillies and cumin with a little water. When the mangoes are cooked, add this paste. Then add the yogurt or buttermilk and stir. Switch off the flame before the first boil. Add tempering and serve hot with rice. So simple, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See food, eat food!

colourfulA friend of mine is on a ‘see food’ diet. She sees food and eats it.

This friend is tall and definitely not overweight. But she loves to go on silly fad diets and then when they don’t work out, she gets frustrated and goes on her ‘see food’ diet.
So, when she called to say that she’ll be over for dinner, I knew most conversations would ultimately end with her complaining about her imaginary weight gain.  I dragged myself to the kitchen, checked my refrigerator for a quick recipe and found some frozen prawns. Yes! Sea food!
Made a quick prawn cocktail and some broccoli soup to go with it. The recipe can be made in a healthy and an unhealthy way, depending on the dressing. I chose the cheese sauce dressing instead of the vinaigrette. Serves my friend right for fussing over food so much! 😉
Prawn Cocktail
300 gm Prawns (fresh or frozen) de-veined
Lemon Juice from a small lemon
Salt
Olive Oil
Half Cup Water
Pepper
Fresh Spinach Leaves
Bell Peppers, one red & yellow each
Mushrooms halved
Cheese sauce, according to taste
To soften the frozen prawns, I added half a cup of water with salt and brought it to a boil. Once the water dried up, I removed it from heat and drizzled olive oil, pepper and lemon juice over it.
To make the prawn cocktail, I sauteed the vegetables in a teaspoon of olive oil. I did not add salt as the cheese sauce has enough salt. Added the prawns and the cheese sauce and done!

Celebrating love

February 14, 2016. Valentine’s Day.jam

Sure it was Valentine’s Day. But for me, it was a day to celebrate more than one occasion. It was a day that brought great news and I couldn’t feel more happy that it came on one of my favourite days of the year.

jamTo celebrate this Valentine’s and to express my love for food, I decided to make strawberry jam with a fresh batch of organic strawberries. The idea of the jam was totally inspired by Monica Gellar (needs no introduction), who is just as lovable as she is neurotic 😀 I was recently watching that episode where Monica breaks up with the droolworthy Richard and makes a ‘jam plan’. But it was when I was watching the jam-eating Joey (needs no introduction, again) that I began craving for jam.

And what better day than Valentine’s to make jam! The lovely red strawberries matched well with the beautiful red roses I got in the morning and the overall festive mood. strawberry

It’s a super quick recipe with just three ingredients—ripe strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. The night before you decide to make jam, just pour sugar over strawberries and leave them out of the fridge overnight. This helps the sugar dissolve better and also retain the bright red colour of the berries. I used brown sugar. The next morning, all I did was add a very small teaspoon of lemon juice, mash the berries a little and put it on stove to reduce. Stirred occasionally for 10 minutes and once the berries and sugar had dissolved and I saw a thick consistency, I took it off heat, let it cool and filled it up in a little bottle.

 

It’s Monday, honey!

 

Serving of toast with butter and marmalade
Sliced white toast with butter and honey with ginger-lemon on the side 

I like my new Monday mornings! I am sure I can never fall in love with Monday after my decade-old relationship with Sunday but it’s getting better.

So, this Monday morning there was no rush to be at the office early and I had a little time to experiment with my breakfast. And here’s what I made: Lemon-Ginger-Honey syrup with Buttered Toast.

My breakfast usually is a buttered toast with honey and a fruit/milk. Today, I added a twist to honey and came up with this recipe. And the twist was to lemon zest and lemon juice along with a small piece of shredded ginger added into a bowl of organic honey.

Dear Monday,

You may be thinking that if I worked a little harder on this recipe, it could have been a Marmalade but our friendship is new so just be happy with this post.

Yours truly

 

 

World’s largest potluck party!

Foodaholics In Ahmedabad is attempting to break the Guinness World Records for the Largest Potluck Party on Sunday, December 20, 2015.

potluck

So, if you are in Ahmedabad and are a foodie, you just cannot miss this awesome event.

‘Foodaholics in Ahmedabad’ (FiA) is a Facebook community, founded by Rohan bhatt & Esha Shah. The group hosts 33,000 active members who indulge in discussions, suggestions, exhibitions and debates pertaining to food both, virtually and during various food events conducted by the group. The group helps glorify food as a culture, recipe and knowledge amidst like-minded people. Lot of the members recommend and refer numerous food joints as well as share experiences.

Registration for the event is really simple and can be found on the FiA page on Facebook. The best part about this ‘participant-only’ event is that each registered participant has to take six portions only, of food which is made or store-bought. The food can be anything—from dry snacks to mocktails and from chai-tea to complicated dishes—all your choice!

I will be making these coconut laddoos! YLHF3889

Hope to see you at this record-breaking event this Sunday morning 🙂