5 November 2018

Diwali Legiyam

So for us, Diwali is on Narak Chaturdashi (tomorrow) , typically on Choti Diwali. This is practised in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa, as far as I know.
We get up before Sunrise, have an oil bath (specially prepared oil - pic coming up) and the first thing given to everyone is the Diwali medicine. It preps the stomach for the festive food ahead.
Here is the Diwali Legiyam/Marunthu (medicine) pic and recipe..
(Makes legiyam about a small coconut size)
Black peppercorns - 2 tsps
Cumin seeds(jeera) - 2.5 tsps
Coriander seeds (dhaniya) - 2.5 tsps
Carrom seeds (Ajwain) - 1.5 tbsps
Kanda Thippili (pippali - dried root of long pepper plant) - 10 x 1inch sticks
Rice Thippili (dried long pepper) - 5 to 6
Dry ginger powder (saunth) - 1 tbsp
Green Cardamom (elaichi) - 2
Clarified butter (Ghee) - 4 tbsps
Jaggery - 2 cups (roughly powdered)

(Long peppers are available on Amazon. Search for Pippali Mool or long pepper root and Pippali or long pepper)
1. Dry grind ajwain to a fine powder. Add other dry spices and grind them too.
2. Transfer to a bowl, add water just upto the level of the powder and let soak for 10-15 minutes.
3. Re-grind this soaked mix with the same water to a fine paste.
4. Heat a thick-bottomed pan and add the ground paste to it. Stir on low flame till it starts to thicken.
5. Add jaggery at this point and stir till it ia dissolved.
6. Now start adding ghee a little at a time till the mixture leaves the sidea of the pan and comes together like halwa.
Switch off flame and let cool. Store in a clean, air-tight container.

30 September 2018

Jain Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer is a world-favourite recipe. Who can resist the sight, aroma and flavour of this delicious curry dish with soft and succulent paneer chunks floating in a spinach gravy?
Though the recipe typically uses onion and garlic. But for those who want to enjoy this during vrat season, this recipe can help.
Spinach/Palak - 2 small bunches
Tomatoes, medium - 4, blanched
Green chilies, medium - 3 to 4
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 tbsps
Jeera - 1 tsp
Haldi - 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp

1. Add chopped and washed spinach to a pressure cooker along with green chilies and salt and cook for just 1 whistle. Remove, cool and grind to a paste. I like to keep the paste little chunky rather than too fine.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add jeera. Let crackle.
3. Add blanched and chopped tomatoes (or pureee) along with haldi and let cook a bit.
4. Now add chili powder (careful here as we have already used green chilies) and dhaniya powder. Cook till tomatoes/puree is cooked.
5. Finally add garam masala and let simmer for few minutes more.
6. Now add the spinach puree and mix well. Check for salt. Do not cook for too long after adding spinach.
Remove and serve hot with chapati or rice.

Puyliyogare mix

Puli kaaychal meaning tamarind cooked to a paste is a popular condiment made in most South Indian households. Puliyogare rice is a very popular preparation especially in Lord Vishnu temples. Here's the recipe for the paste as how my mom makes it.
Tamarind - Big lemon size(we need about 4 cups of tamarind extract)

For Spice pwd:
Coriander (Dhaniya) seeds - 3 tsps
Fenugreek (Methi) seeds - 1 tsp
Dry red chilies - 3 to 4
Sesame (Til) seeds - 1 tsp
Whole black pepper - 1 tsp

Peanuts - 1/4 cup (roasted)
Curry leaves, a few
Sesame oil - 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Bengal gram (Chana dal) - 2 tsps
Dry red chilies - 3 to 4
Hing pwd - 1 tsp
Haldi - 2 tsps
Salt to taste

1. Let's prepare the spice powder first. Heat a pan and dry roast sesame till you get its aroma. Transfer to a plate.
2. In the same pan, dry roast fenugreek seeds but take care not to let it brown. Transfer to the plate along with sesame seeds.
3. In the same pan dry roast dhaniya seeds, red chilies and black pepper till aroma comes. remove and let cool along with the sesame and methi seeds. Dry grind to a powder.
4. Heat oil and add mustard seeds, let splutter. Add red chilies and chana dal. Roast a bit.
5. Add in the imli extract along with hing, haldi, curry leaves, peanuts and salt to taste.
6. Simmer the mix on low flame till it leaves the sides of the pan and starts to thicken. Turn off flame and let it cook in the residual flame.
7. Finally add the spice powder as required and mix well. 2-3 tsps should be a good measure for medium spiciness.
Store in a clean dry vessel and use.
This is the Puliyogare rice made with the paste.

17 September 2018

Steamed Spinach Rolls

Looking for a NO-OIL, NO-FRY healthy, cheesy snack? Try this..

Large-sized Spinach leaves - 10-12
Potatoes, medium - 2-3 (Boiled & mashed)
Paneer, crumbled - 1 cup
Capsicum or any vegetable(s) of choice - 1 cup
Salt to taste
Red Chili powder - 2 tsps
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Processed/Mozzarella cheese, shredded - 1 cup

1. Carefully wash the spinach leaves, taking care not to tear them. Spread out and let dry a bit.
2. Meanwhile prepare the stuffing by mixing together all other ingredients. You can add some cheese to the stuffing as well. I preferred to add them as a topping alone.
3. Arrange the spinach leaves as in the picture on a steamer plate and steam for just 30 secs - one minute. We just want the leaves to be tender and manageable.
 4. Place a spoonful of the filling at the top and gently roll the leaf around it. Arrange on the baking tray.

5. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 170-180 Deg C for 5-7 minutes or till cheese melts and turns golden brown.
Serve hot.

15 September 2018

Berry Vanilla Gateau | Academy of Pastry Arts

Contd from .. Here's the recipe for the dessert that was demo-ed by Chef Kimberly at the Academy of Pastry Arts. (Recipe credit : the Academy)
Ingredients Quantity (gr) - (recipe for 2 nos 6” cake)
Almond Paste/Marzipan 150
Whole Egg 62.5
Egg Yolk 37.5
Egg White 137.5
Sugar 50
Cake Flour 40
Callebaut Cocoa Powder 20
Dark Chocolate Callebaut Madagascar 67% 75

1. Mix almond paste with paddle. Add in egg and egg yolk slowly until smooth paste.
2. Change to whisk attachment and whip mixture above until fluffy.
3. Make a medium peak meringue with egg white and sugar.
4. Fold in meringue into 2nd
5. Fold in sifted cocoa powder and flour and then continue with melted chocolate.
6. Bake in 6” ring for approximately 25 minutes at 165-degree Celsius.

Ingredients Quantity (gr) - ( recipe for 1.5 nos 6” cake)
Milk 150
Whipping Cream 120
Vanilla Pod ½ stick
Egg Yolk 120
Sugar 90
Gelatine 8
Italian Meringue 120
Cold Water 40
Whipping Cream 135

1. Dissolve gelatine with cold water.
2. Bring cream, milk and vanilla pod to boil.
3. Mix egg yolk and sugar and gradually add into hot mixture.
4. Continue to bain-marie until 83-degree Celsius with a spatula. Add in gelatine; wait until slightly cool down, strain and fold in Italian Meringue.
Lastly, fold in whipped cream.

Ingredients Quantity (gr) (recipe for 1.5 nos 6” cake)
Ravifruit Blackberry Puree 200
Ravifruit Raspberry Puree 100
Ravifruit Strawberry Puree 130
Sugar 15
Gelatine 8
Cold Water 40

1. Dissolve gelatine with cold water.
2. Warm all purees with sugar until sugar is just enough to dissolve.
3. Melt gelatine and mix with puree mixture.
4. Pour into mould and freeze it.

Ingredients (Quantity (gms))
Water 75
Sugar 150
Glucose 150
Condense milk 100
Gelatine 12
Milk Chocolate Callebaut 823NV 33.6% - 150
Red colorant +/-

1. Bring the sugar, water and glucose to boil.
2. Add in the bloomed gelatine and condensed milk.
3. Pour the mixture over the milk chocolate and add in colouring to emulsify.

Finishing - Glaze with raspberry glaze and garnish with chocolate décor.  Also add chopped raisin with gold dust.

Learning the ropes

     For the love of cooking..and baking.. For many a home chef, baking that perfect cake is a dream come true. Some come out well, some fall flat and literally so. And when the latter happens, we either take that as a challenge and keep trying till we get it right or give up and move on. But for the enthusiasts, passionate wannabe bakers, a guiding, helping hand is a must. And that's where the Academy of Pastry Arts comes in.
        I was fortunate to be part of a demo by Chef Kimberly Rozario who patiently took us through a brilliantly executed baking session. The dessert in mention was - Berry Vanilla Gateau.
Sounds simple? But hold your breath, this one had several elements and components to it that needed perfection, technique, patience and of course, the right ingredients.

        But first, a bit about the academy. Academy of Pastry Arts was established in 2010 with their flagship centre in Malaysia. They have grown on to presence in Philippines, Mumbai, Gurugram and Bangalore and soon to be opened centres in Dubai and Indonesia. I visited the Bengaluru centre and was absolutely impressed by the vast space, huge learning labs, state of the art equipment, superb chefs and high-end ingredients.
      Now about the demo..Baking is a science as much as it's an art. One step, ingredient, technique, timing goes wrong and your end result will be anything but perfect. So it becomes inevitable to get the basics right before you set out on your baking journey.
Chef Kimberly explained so many nuances as she went through the different stages of the dessert preparation. For example:

◘ Using the right ingredients, be it the chocolate, cocoa powder, cream, fruit extracts, and so on is extremely important if you want that perfect dessert. No compromises there.

◘ Temperature and Timing are very important. And they are proportional to the baking moulds being used, so no one temperature setting and time works for all. Smaller molds like the typical round cake mold would need a lower temperature so the baking process spreads evenly over the selected time. A larger tray with a thinner layer of batter, on the other hand can work with a higher temperature.

◘ When whisking a glaze, you need to avoid air bubbles so keep the whisk head below the surface but don't let it touch the bottom. When done, if you still spot bubbles on the surface, use a cling wrap to smooth them out.

◘ It's good to invest in sustainable and good quality equipment. One such is the Probe or thermometer which is indispensable when working with delicate desserts.

            And here's the twist, contrary to the name, the academy doesn't just offer baking courses, but culinary as well. And there are both Full time and Part time courses.
           So end note, getting the basics right, be it for cooking or baking is crucial. And you need the right place to learn them. Head to the Academy of Pastry Arts to earn your Toque!!
Here's the dessert and for those interested in trying it out, the recipe is at: http://www.akshayamrecipes.com/2018/09/berry-vanilla-gateau-academy-of-pastry.html

Academy details : http://academyofpastryartsindia.com

Bangalore Center

Gurgaon Center
Plot No. 64,
Udyog Vihar Phase IV,
National Highway 8,
Gurgaon Haryana,

Mumbai Center
A Wing, Ground & First Floor,
Litolier Chambers,
Adjacent to Marol Metro Station Andheri East,

    14 September 2018

    Pidi Kozhukattai

    Ganesh Chaturthi, Sankatahara/Sankeshti Chaturthi Special - Pidi Kozhukattai (modak) , a version of modak famous in most parts esp during Ganesh Chaturthi. It's a non dumpling variation and really simple to make. Can be enjoyed as a snack anytime too...

    Ingredients(Makes about 40)
    1/2 cup rice flour (idiappam flour if available) 
    1/2 - 3/4 cup jaggery, depending on how sweet the jaggery is (roughly chopped) 
    1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
    1 cup water
    2 tbsps coconut pwd or finely chopped
    1 tsp sesame oil
    1. Dissolve jaggery in water in a big pan. Filter to remove impurities if any.
    2. Add the cardamom pwd and coconut and bring to a boil.
    3. Lower the flame and gradually add the rice flour, stirring continuously. Leave no lumps.
    4. Keep stirring till the mixture becomes a thick mass. Remove from flame. Let cool a little.
    5. While still bearably warm, oil your hands lightly and divide into equal portions. Roll or make into muthiya shapes.
    6. Steam cook for 10-12 minutes. Remove and serve.

    30 August 2018

    Foxtail Millet/Thinai Appam

    Kaiththala NiRaikani Appamodu Avalpori...lines from a famous Thirupugazh song. Appam are among Lord Ganesha's favourite along with Modaks...Here's a recipe to try them with millets for a change.
    Foxtail millet/Thinai (grains) - 1 cup (soaked for 2 hours)
    Rice flour - 1/4 cup
    Wheat flour - 1/4 cup
    Banana - 1, ripe
    Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
    Coconut, grated - 1/4 cup (optional)

    1. Grind together all ingredients except coconut using about 1 tbsp water only if needed.
    2. Transfer to a bowl and add grated coconut. Batter should be of dropping consistency. Add water if needed.
    3. Heat an appe pan and add little oil. Drop ladleful batter into the appe cups. Let cook till golden brown on all sides.
    Transfer to absorbent paper to remove excess oil. Serve immediately or store in an air tight jar.

    26 August 2018

    Dill Palak Vada

    Dal vada is a popular snack down south. Many variations exist, in terms of lentils used, as also vegetables. This one uses Dill leaves or Soya leaves (Suva bhaji) that has amazing health benefits and our good old Spinach.
    Chana dal - 1 cup
    Toor dal - 1/4 cup
    Red chilies - 2
    Ginger - 1 inch piece
    Green chili - 1
    Hing - 1/4 tsp
    Salt to taste
    Dill leaves, chopped - 2 tbsps
    Palak leaves, chopped - 2 tbsps
    Coriander leaves, chopped - 1 tbsp

    Method :
    1. Soak both dals together for 1 hour. Drain and keep aside.
    2. To a blender jar, add the red + green chilies and ginger and give it a quick run.
    3. Now add the dals, salt to taste and hing. Blend coarsely with very little water. Just a few quick turns of the mixer knob.
    4. Transfer to a bowl and add the chopped greens. Check for salt.
    5. Heat oil for frying on medium. Wet your palm, take a small portion and flatten it. Drop it into the oil and fry till golden brown. Best trick is to first fry till half done and re-fry till crisp just before serving.

    13 August 2018

    Your Kitchen Robot

    Is this an appliance? A machine? A gadget? Nope, Thermomix is a Kitchen Robot! A one stop assistant that's all you'll need..
    The concept is simple - To simplify cooking and simplify life.
    Thermomix TM5 is a premium product from the house of Vorwerk & Co., a company that was founded in 1883. Vorwerk is well-known for its premium appliances and household products across many countries.
    Thermomix TM5 takes a bit of a learning curve, but once you have mastered it (which is fairly easy to do) you will thank your stars for it.
    I was happy to be part of a demo arranged at their Bangalore office, called (aptly so!) the Pocket Kitchen. The premises is aesthetically designed with an open kitchen space, ample seating and a service center as well.
    The appliance comes with, wait for it, Twelve in-built functions along with a weighing scale. So it takes care of:
    1. Weighing
    2. Timing
    3. Sautéing
    4. Melting
    5. Steaming
    6. Stirring
    7. Emulsifying
    8. Whipping
    9. Chopping
    10. Blending
    11. Grinding, and
    12. Kneading
    Quite a handful isn't it?
    The unit includes a Stainless Steel mixing bowl, a lid that mechanically closes once the function is selected, a simmering basket, the Varoma Steaming basket, butterfly whisk, spatula, measuring cup and the multi-purpose blade.
    The front panel has an intuitive selection option that takes you sensibly and sequentially through the functions that you'll absolutely master after a few trials. The screen also doubles up as your recipe assistant. If you are using the appliance in Chip mode, you can simply read off the recipe steps at the touch of a button and cook as you go.
    On that subject, you have the option to use Thermomix with a recipe chip that comes pre-fed with over 180 recipes and instructions thereof, or a recipe book, or the ever-growing online community on their facebook page.
    I personally found the chip mode fascinating, especially when working with a new recipe and you will truly appreciate that guiding hand.
    The best part about the Thermomix marketing campaign is that each unit is sold as part of a personal connect and after giving the potential customer a proper demo of the appliance, to help them understand that it ain't just another kitchen counter trophy!
    The dishes that were demo-ed to us -
    Pineapple Ice Cream, Pumpkin-potato soup, Risotto, Spaghetti in tomato sauce and Hummus. Just as an example; for the soup - from the chopping of the ginger, sauteing it, cooking the pumpkin, potato, shallots and then blending them - all of this happened in a single jar at a touch of a button at a fraction of the conventional time! How's that for efficiency?


    In this day and age when efficiency, both in terms of time and space is valued, Thermomix comes as a culinary boon. Don't take my word for it, go ahead and book a demo today and see for yourself.
    And yes, on a signing off note, you can be a part of the team too, join their recruitment campaign and win big! If you sell 6 machines in 3 months, you get the 7th one free of cost plus your commission.
    Their address in Bangalore: 1st Floor, No. 105/90/1, Survey No. 9/1, Byatarayanapura Villlage, Bellary, Road,, OPP. GKVK Campus, Near Shell Petrol Pump, Yelahanka,, Hobli, Jakkuru Layout, Byatarayanapura, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560092
    [Or just enter Thermomix, Jakkur into your Google Map]
    Buying processhttp://thermomix.co.in/en/how-to-get-it/purchase-process/