Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Walnut Chocolate-chunk Brownie

The Whole-Wheat brownies I made a while back, were a huge hit at home; I decided to try out the version with Eggs and tried adding nuts and chocolates this time. I followed the blondies recipe from joyofbaking.com. I just happened to add "Demerara sugar" instead of "light brown sugar" as stated in the recipe and I ended up with a brownie instead of a blondie :). I used walnuts instead of pecans as stated in the recipe. I plan to try the version with White sugar the next time. Stay tuned to find out how that turned out.

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Monday, 22 August 2011

Sakkarai Murukku

Murukkus are our very own Indian Savory items. How many different varieties there are and each one of them so crunchy and delicious. How about sugar coating this crunchy savory item and turning it into a sweet? Sounds good... Here goes the recipe:
Besan (Gram flour) - 3/4 cup
Rice flour - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Ghee - Melted - 1 tbsp
Cold Water - to knead the dough
Oil for frying
For the sugar syrup:
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Water - 1 cup
Sift the Besan, rice flour and salt, until well mixed. Add cold water and knead the flour into a dough gently. Do not knead hard, else the murukku turns out hard and chewy. Add the heated ghee into the kneaded dough and keep aside.

In a heavy bottomed kadai, heat oil for a few minutes. Test the oil by just dropping a pinch of the dough, if it rises immediately and gets fried golden brown, then the oil is at the right temperature. If the dough stays at the bottom of the kadai for a few seconds wait for some more time before trying again. If the dough rises and gets browned too quickly, then lower the heat and wait before trying. 

Have the dough filled into a murukku kozhai and ready to go.

When the oil is ready, start piping out the murukku into the oil directly. Use long straight strokes across the kadai. When the murukku turns golden brown, then sieve it out of the kadai and leave it in a utensil to drain out the excess oil. Break the murukku into manageable length pieces. Once the dough is all consumed, get started with the sugar syrup.

Combine water and sugar in a heavy bottomed kadai and heat on medium flame. Slowly start stirring, until the syrup falls in a long string when poured from a height. We call it Kambi Padham in tamil. If your fingers can take the heat, take the syrup in a laddle, use your thumb and fore finger to pick up a pinch and try to stretch the liquid by pulling your fingers in opposite directions, if the syrup does not break and stretches into a thin line, then it is done. Else let it cook for some more time. 

When the syrup is ready,  drop the murukku bits into the syrup and working quickly, mix them well so the murukku is covered with syrup on most sides. 

Let it cool down and you can see the syrup crystallizing as it cools down. We call this process, "Paagu pookarthu". 

When you see the whitish crystallized sugar on the murukku, they are ready to be devoured.

Verdict: This one is a regular item at home for festivals. This is simple and quick and turns out very good.

Tip: If making large batches, do not make the dough at one go. Make a little dough, finish frying that, make the next batch of dough and so on. If the dough is mixed for too long, before it gets into the oil the murukkus do not turn out crisp. They become chewy and do not taste good.
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Kaara Murukku

Here is the promised quick kaara murukku recipe.
Follow the general tips of the previous post on sakkarai murukku.
Besan (gram flour) - 3/4 cup
Rice flour - 1/4 cup
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Ghee (melted) - 1 tbsp
Water to make the dough
Oil for frying.


Mix the besan and rice flour well.
Add the asafoetida, cumin, chilli powder and salt and mix well. Add water mix with the fingertips, without working the dough too hard. Finally add the melted ghee and blend in with the dough. 

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed kadai and use the murukku pizhi to form long strands of murukku. Fry until golden brown and drain the excess oil in a utensil or with blotting paper. Break the long strands into shorter manageable ones. Hot spicy murukkus are ready to be devoured with tea/coffee.

Verdict: These are very quick to make and turns out quite tasty. For visitors arriving with short notice making these turns out to be a better option than buying anything outside.
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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ever since I came across this recipe for chocolate-chip cookies, I wanted to bake these. I finally managed to bake these cookies when I got my pack of choco-chips from IBCA-blr. I followed the recipe from joyofbaking.com pretty much with ingredients and mixing part; but I scaled down the recipe by half and reduced the baking time significantly. Here is what I did:


 For 30 2-2.5" round cookies:

1/2 cup (1 sticks) (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/8 cup = 6tbsp (75 grams) granulated white sugar

3/8 cup = 6tbsp (80 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar (I used demerera sugar)

1 large egg

3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup + 2tbsp (148 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups (135 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (optional) (I did not add this)

Chocolate Chip Cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) . I set it at 180 degrees C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the
butter until smooth and creamy. Add the white and brown sugars and beat
until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure
to beat well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until
incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry
ingredients to the egg mixture and beat until incorporated, adding the
chocolate chips and nuts (if using) about half way through mixing. If
you find the dough very soft, cover and refrigerate until firm (from 30
minutes to two hours). 

For large cookies, use about a 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop or with two
spoons, drop about 2 tablespoons of dough (35 grams) onto the prepared
baking sheets. Bake about 10 - 14 minutes, or until golden brown
around the edges. I baked for about 8-9 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

Makes about 30 - 2-2.5 inch round cookies.

Note: You can freeze this dough. Form the dough into balls and place on
a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze and then place the balls of
dough in a plastic bag, seal, and freeze. When baking, simply place the
frozen balls of dough on a baking sheet and bake as directed - may have
to increase baking time a few minutes.

Verdict: The cookies were crisp on the outside and crumbly. These keep well for more than a week if stored in an airtight container. This was a hit and I see myself baking these quite often.

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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Avarekaalu (Mochcha kottai) Vegetable Rice

The mochchai kottai or avarekaalu as known in Bangalore, just floods the markets twice a year, in the months of December-Jan and once again from June-July. We make various dishes with this tasty bean. Hubby dear just dreads that season ;), he expects to find avarekaalu every day for two weeks at a stretch... So I limit the use of it in our dishes... But nevertheless, we make the most of it when it is available, don't we not? I decided not to bore hubby dear with more and more gravy dishes made out of mochchai kottai. So instead I decided to use it in the regular vegetable rice recipe. I pretty much followed the same ingredients and method as in this recipe, just substituting green peas with mochchai kottai.
 Verdict: If you like mochchai kottai then this vegetable rice is simply irresistible :). This is a must cook dish now in the mochchai season ;). The good news is even hubby dear who is not really fond of this bean, did not mind it one bit.
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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Whole-wheat Eggless Brownies

 I did not really know how exactly a brownie is different from say a quickbread, a shortbread cookie or a muffin, until I started baking. I used to see recipes for delicious chocolate brownies in the blog-sphere but I put off baking this brownie until I had ventured other known territories first. 
The only "Brownie" I was familiar with, was the lovely dark brown furry stray in the neighbourhood, who was taken away by the corporation one fine day following complaints :(. Anyways, that is another story.
Last month, I looked up recipes for brownies, since folks at home were too bored of cupcakes, vanilla and chocolate cakes and cookies. I came across the recipe for Eggless brownies on Divya's blog
I wanted to try it for two reasons: a) Eggless recipe, folks at home were tired of my Eggy bakes ;) and b) it is a microwave recipe, I don't have to take my baking pans out :).
I try to bake with whole wheat flour, as much as possible these days. So I substituted all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Here are the modification I made to the recipe from Divya's blog.


Maida - 1 cup
(I used whole wheat flour)
Cocoa powder - 2 tbsp
Milkmaid- 200 gms (Half tin)
Butter - 1/2 cup
Baking powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt a pinchSugar - 2 tsp
Ripe Banana - 1 small one
Crushed Walnuts,Cashewnuts - about 2 tbsp (I omitted it)
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 + 1 tsp for dusting (The original recipe does not call for this, I added this)

Melt the butter in Microwavefor 1 minute. Mix in the milkmaid, blend it to a smooth paste using a blender.

Mash the banana well and mix to the above butter & milkmaid mix.Add sugar and blend again to get a smooth paste.
In another bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Then add to the butter mix and blend well.
Transfer the mix to a greased microwave safe dish.
Microwave this mix for 4 minutes. Let it rest in the microwave for a minute, then remove    to the wire rack for another 2 minutes. Dust with cinnamon powder. Wait for the brownie   to cool down completely before cutting. Warm the brownies in the microwave before          serving.
Verdict: The brownies were a hit! The cinnamony, eggless wheaty moist brownies just won over everyone :)
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Monday, 15 August 2011

Buttermilk pancakes

I came across this delicious recipe for pancakes. I have been waiting to make pancakes for quite sometime now and I definitely wanted to try this one!
I am sure you moms out there understand what it is to get the child ready for school. To get her to eat and bathe and dress up, pack up her stuff and finally take her to school, your adrenalin is at its highest. But the little one has no sense of hurry at all and she runs around as if it is playtime, when you try to put on her clothes or feed her breakfast! Oh Yes, I am sure you get the picture :).

One evening I found that there were very few choices for breakfast the next day, for my little one. I had run out of Dosa/Idli batter. There was no bread at home and in the morning rush, it is impossible to feed her porridge. So I decided to make these pancakes, and I knew it will be challenging to mix the batter in the morning, however trivial the task might seem ;). So I made the batter the night before. Check this out for the procedure.
I made some modifications to the recipe. I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour.

Here is the recipe adapted from  southernfood.about.com. I scaled the recipe down to 1/2
1 cups all-purpose flour  (I used whole wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons sugar
1 large eggs
1 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and sugar.
Whisk eggs, buttermilk, and butter together in a small bowl. Combine the mixtures and stir until smooth, but don't overbeat. 
Heat a griddle over medium-low heat. Using a 1/4 cup measure, cook until you see bubbles over the top and the edges are somewhat dry looking. Flip over and brown the other side. Keep warm in a 175° oven if you are serving all at once. Serve with butter and syrup.
Makes about 10 4-inch buttermilk pancakes.
Re-heat for 10-20 seconds in the microwave before serving.

Verdict: My little girl ate to her fill before she left and had one pancake at school too. I had packed one in her snack box. She had one more in the evening. I loved the pancakes myself... It was extremely light and fluffy and was delicious with syrup :)
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How to make pancake batter the night before

 I was looking for techniques to make pancake batter the night before and I came across this link.
They suggest that we add extra leavening agent.

I decided to follow the usual recipe for pancake batter, and just add the baking soda and baking powder in the morning. Although there is risk of overbeating to mix the baking powder evenly, I felt it is better than adding too much leavening agent.

The other technique is to mix the dry ingredients with egg and melted butter and refrigerate the mix. In the morning add the leavening agents to the milk and mix it with the batter.
Ensure that you use up all the batter in the morning. The pancakes can be frozen if necessary and then thawed before serving. Check this link out for tips on freezing the pancakes.
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Sunday, 14 August 2011

August Punch - Banana-Mango Muffins

The recipe chosen for August Punch was Strawberry-Banana Muffins from JoyofBaking.com. I love strawberries and the idea of baking with those juicy red fruits was too tempting and I earnestly tried getting strawberries, during my weekly visit to the supermarket, throughout the month. I came across Plums, Figs and Dates but no strawberries. I was disappointed and so I finally decided to bake these muffins, substituting mango for strawberry. Since the lone mango left for my baking this weekend, turned out to be too ripe, I decided to mash it instead of dicing it.

Here is the recipe adapted from joyofbaking.com:

1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)

1 large ripe mango, masted (about 3/4 cup)

1 cup - wheat flour

1 1/4 cups - all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (160 grams) sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon (4 grams) ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) salt
1/4 cup - milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (170 degrees C). 
Line muffin cups paper liners or lightly butter or spray the muffin cups with a vegetable spray. I used silicone cupcake moulds and hence I did not grease the cups. With my cupcake moulds, this recipe makes around 18 muffins.

In a small saucepan melt the butter. Let cool to room temperature.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract and mashed banana and mango. Add the melted butter and stir to combine.  

In another large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result. The batter was too thick and hence I added 1/4 cup milk. The original recipe does not call for milk in this recipe.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake until a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Can be stored for a few days at room temperature.

Verdict: My daughter ate one whole muffin fresh from the oven as it was cooling down. So this recipe gets a thumbs-up :), but I definitely want to try it with strawberries once.
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Chocolate Cookies

I can never seem to have enough chocolate or cocoa powder to bake with. When I do procure the ingredients, I am again left with an empty pantry in a jiffy. Sometimes I have to scrape off cocoa powder from the tin to make up enough for a couple of tablespoons for some recipes and sometimes I end up using chocolate syrup when I run out. That said, this eggless chocolate cookie recipe  was on my to-bake list for long. I finally made it sometime back.

Here is the adapted recipe:
Ingredients (makes 24 cookies)

Maida/flour – ¾ cup
Cocoa powder – ¼ cup
Cornflour – ½ cup
Icing sugar Or Powdered sugar – 1 cup
Dessicated coconut(optional) – 1 tbsp (I omitted this)
Baking powder – ½ tsp
Butter(in room temperature) – ½ cup
Vanilla essence – ½ tsp
Dry fruits – ½ cup(I used crushed walnuts and almonds)
Milk – a tbsp or two,if required

Cream the butter and sugar till fluffy(if using a hand mixer,mix on low speed for about 30 secs).
Sift together maida,cocoa powder,cornflour,dessicated coconut(if using) and baking powder.
Mix to the butter mix adding a spoon at a time.
After all the flour mix has been added,you can also hand mix the dough for better texture.
Add a tbsp milk if the dough is too dry.
Make small balls of the dough and flatten it a bit.

Pre-heat the oven on 150C.
Grease/line a baking tray and place the cookies 1” apart,to leave enough space for the cookies to spread.
Bake for 15-18 minutes. I baked for 15 minutes. Cool the cookies in the sheet for 5 mins and transfer to wire-rack. You can even serve them slightly warm with a cup of hot beverage. They are divine.
 Verdict: Awesome chewy and chocolaty cookies. But I just got the feeling of some raw taste flour and cocoa, I need to bake these again to see if it had to do with the ingredients or that is how it is.
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Onion Crackers

I love the savory biscuits anytime. Nothing to beat the khara biscuit with tea/coffee combination. So when I came across the recipe for onion biscuits on one of the blogs I was excited.

Recipe Adapted From Red Chillies     
Wheat Flour-1cup
Quick Cooking Oats-1/2cup
Olive Oil(Pomace)-1/2cup
Onion-1(finely chopped)
Green Chilly-2(finely chopped)
Baking Powder-1tsp
Black Sesame Seeds-4tsp

1. Preheat oven to 170C.
2. Mix flour, wheat flour and oats along with baking powder, salt and sugar.
3. Mix in onion, green chillies and sesame seeds.
4. Add water and mix well.
5. Add oil and knead it for 5 minutes into a soft dough.
6. Slightly flour the counter and knead the dough. Divide it into two equal parts.
7. Roll each portion into a square and cut into smaller squares.
8. Arrange on baking tray and prick with a fork all over.
9. Bake for 15 minutes and turn over the tray.
10. After 5 minutes, flip all the crackers.
11. Bake until golden on both sides.
12. Totally it will take aroun 30-35minutes for the whole baking process.
13. Cool on wire rack.
14. Serve along with coffee.

Verdict: These were devoured with evening coffee and tea. Just that I plan to use white till the next time :)

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