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 d├ęcor.  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.