Sunday, December 20, 2015

Vánocka - Czech Christmas Bread | Baking Partners Dec'15

Now that Christmas is just a few days away it makes sense to post the festive bakes one by one. Especially the christmas festive bread. This time Swathi has chosen a Christmas bread from Czech Republic- Vánocka (va-nawtch-kah) for Baking Partners A Simple sugary brioche type bread but rich with eggs. Now thats where my adaption skills work. I had earlier trid brioche without eggs and it had come out fine. So here too I replaced the egg yolks in the recipe with EnerG egg replacer. Now as per Swathi its like a " curry without salt" but still the bread turned out perfect. As usual I halved the recipe and read it below..

All Purpose Flour: 2 cups
Salt: 1/8 tsp
Sugar: 3.25 tbsp
Instant Yeast: 2 tsp
Lemon zest: 1/2 a lemon
Grated Nutmeg: 1/2 tsp

Vanilla :1/2 tsp
Lukewarm milk: 1/2 cup (100ml)
Butter: 4 tbsp melted
Egg Yolk: 1 (1.5 pkd tsp of Ener G + 1 tbsp of water)

Raisins: 1/4 cup
Peeled almonds: 8 tsp

Egg wash: 1 egg + 1 tbsp of water

In a big bowl, mix together flour,salt,sugar, yeast, nutmeg and lemon zest. Add in the vanilla, butter, milk and egg yolk in the well in the middle and start stirring with a spoon mixing into the surrounding flour. Once the dough becomes too stiff for a spoon, begin t knead it with onehand trying to incorporate tje remaining flour. If the dough is too dry/crumbly, add in 2-3  tbsps of milk.

Turn the dough into to a counter and knead for another 10 minutes prying apart the dough with the  lower part of your palms, fold in half and twist and repeat this till you get a smooth soft dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased pan and let it sit in a warm place until it doubles in volume. Meanwhile heat water in a bowl and add raisins. Let it boil until  it plumps up. Drain on a kitchen towel and set aside.

Transfer the dough on to a lightly dusted surface and place the raisins on top if it. Try to incorporate the raisins into the dough while kneading.

Divide the dough into 9 equal parts and roll out each about 15cm long cylinder.Take the first 4 cylinders and lay them next to each other .

Join at one end and then bring the first one at extreme left over the third one. And bring the fourth one at extreme right over the top of second one. Now the earlier frst one has become 4th and the previous 4th has become 1st. Repeat the steps 1 over 3 and 4 over 2 and join the ends to get a beautiful 4 stranded braid, Keep it aside.

Take the next 3 strands and make a three braided dough and keep it aside.

Make a 2 stranded braid with the remaining two.

Place the 4 braided piece on a lined baking sheet and bake a slight depression in the middle so it can hold the other two braids. Place the three braid bread ontop of this followed by the two braided. If there are loose ends try to tuck underneath the entire bread.

Stick almonds on the sides -either sliced or whole peeled. Then stick toothpicks in between so that it doesn't flip during baking.

Preheat the oven to 350F /175C while the dough is resting - which should not be more than 30 mnts. Brush the bread with egg wash  or milk/butter  and bake for about 38-42 minutes making sure the top doesn't brown too much.. in which case cover it with a foil.
 After removing from the oven sprinkle with powdered sugar /glaze and let it cool completely.Slice into pieces and serves.

An excellent raisin bread. The aroma of sugar and raisin definitley gives a festive feel.The original recipe adapted from here and which came from Swathi sugested baking time of 38 minutes, but my eggless version definitely took few extra minutes as I have seen in some of the egg replacer preparations. I suppose this is because the egg replacer powder is made up of different plant based startces which take longer time to cook.

Lets see who all baked Vánocka for Christmas. Hope over to Swathi's

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Healthy Cooking with Canola Oil | Healthy New Year 2016

These days people are becoming aware of more and more about eating healthy and eating right. But are you sure you are actually eating right? Ofcourse you are substituting butter ,ghee and shortening with oil but is the oil right? 
How about reusing oil?You have also heard conflicting opinions about the reuse of frying oil.. Some say you can't reuse the oil used for frying? But others say you can? Whos is right? And Why? 

What is smoking point and how is it different for different oil and how it affects health?

If you have all these doubts then please read on..

I had the opportunity to attend a cook off event by Canola council of Canada. The event conducted to create an awareness of canola oil  showcased culinary delights from Chef Surjan Singh (a.k.a Chef Jolly), director F&B, Marriott Hotels at Spice Terrace, JW Marriott, Bengaluru on December 3,2015.

Canola oil is one of the friendliest and versatile cooking oils which can be used for all types of cooking.This can be vouched by yours truly who has used it while in US. Its the commonly used cooking medium in US and Canada from where it originated.

Bruce Jowett, VP, Market Development of Canola Council of Canada spoke about the origin of the oil, how it got its name and the intention to create a world wide awareness on Canola oil. 

Canola oil comes from canola seeds , a variation of rapeseed. Rape seeds contain around 45% of erucic acid whereas as per standards lesser percentage is needed in food or cooking oil. So in short the rape seeds are modified to obtain the canola seeds from which the canola oil (Canada Oil Less Acid) is obtained.The canola oil so obtained has just under 2% acid and gives 45% of oil per seed. 

So roughly 1kg canola seeds gives approx 450mls of oil which is quite good..

As for flavour, the oil is neutral in taste and blends into the dish without giving a distinct taste or flavour unlike certain oils. It is an excellent supporting actor especially when you want to showcase the ingredients you cook with and not the medium. This can be vouched for by me as I have used canola while baking and even regular routine Indian cooking.

That means you can use it in cooking , baking and deep frying as well. Wait did you hear deep fry? 
What about the smoking point? Can we reuse the oil after frying? Read on...

Smoking point is the temperature at which the oil gets separated into fats and other contents and usually oils like rice bran, soybean, coconut oil etc reach this point/temperature very quickly. We can see this when smoke starts coming out of the oil pan. They simply get separated into several compounds which do not take heat well and some are not needed in food at all. We commonly say that they have low smoking point.Such oils are not suitable for deep frying.

The smoking point of canola is 242Deg Celsius and deepfrying temperature is 190°C. So the oil never reaches its smoking point and can be reused later for whatever dish you want. 

All these facts was demoed by Chef Jolly who served a simple spinach stirfry on top of  mini missi roti rounds as excellent canapes. The stirfry was very simple with no masalas for taste giving but was perfect as a starter.

Also demoed were the pickled dal stuffed into bhavnagari chillies which were deep fried to perfection and this also verified the facts on smoking point of canola. The oil blends in perfectly with any of the ingredients making sure the ingredient is star in whole. 

This was asserted by Chef Jolly's new signature dish Phool Tikki - broccoli florets marinated in spices, canola and little cheese and grilled to perfection. The taste of star broccoli brought to front by the supporting actor canola which  literally made us all stop talking and simply eat ,eat and eat....

Other facts that make Canola a star performer

  • Its high in mono and poly unsaturated fats
  • High in plant based Omega 3 fat
  • Lowest in saturated fats 7% - which is less than that of ricebran oil  (25%), Sunflower Oil (12%), ground nut (19%) and olive and even soybean (12% each) oils
  • Its free of transfats
  • Reduces the risk of heart diseases when used in place of butter.. 1.5 Tbsp a day keeps the cardiologist at bay

As of now..
I have rarely seen canola in the local supermarkets. It is available only in certain upscale supermarkets and shops. Its perfectly suitable for Indian cooking and also makes them heart healthy. It is economically priced and will fit any budget too. 1 Litre of canola is roughly priced around Rs.130/- 

Hope this post helps you to start thinking about canola and its advantages. Please visit the website here for more information.

More awareness about the oil helps to ensure its available even in local shops or kirana stores and helps take you the first step towards a healthy life this coming year 2016.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Spiced Pumpkin Rolls for Thanksgiving | We Knead to Bake # 33

Its autumn and season of apples and pumpkins. Thanksgiving which is celebrated on 26th November every year in the US makes full use of autumn produce - pumpkins, orange sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries etc. So its only apt that we decided to bake spiced pumpkin bread rolls to ring in autumn for We Knead to Bake by Aparna. Of course though pumpkin is available year round in India but still its the season of pumpkin and Jack O lanterns.The recipe adapted from BeyondKimchee is super simple and the bread made with and shaped like a pumpkin makes it gourmet.  This makes it real special.


Warm Milk: 1/3 cup
Honey : 2 tbsp
Instant Yeast: 2 tsp

Pureed pumpkin: 8 tbsp

Melted Butter: 1.5 tbsp

Egg: 1 OR Ener G egg : 1.5 pkd tsp + 3 tbsp of Water

All Purpose Flour: 1.5 cups + 4 tbsp more
Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp
Ground Dry Ginger: 1 tsp
Allspice Powdered : 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp


In a bowl, add in warm milk. Add honey and yeast and mix well and leave aside for 5 minutes until it froths. 

In a processor bowl, add in flour, salt and spice powders and blend well. Add in the yeast mix, pumpkin puree , melted butter and egg.

Knead well until you have asmooth elastic dough thats sticky but which pull away from the side of the bowl. You can add more flour if needed.

Turn it out onto a counter dusted with flour and knead with hand for another minute. Shape it into a big ball and place it in a greased bowl, turning around to coat well. 

Loosely cover and let the dough rise for an hour or so until double in volume.

Gently deflate the dough on a dusted counter and divide it into 8-10 small but equal sized pieces. Shape each piece into a round ball. Flatten it slightly and then using sharp scissors make 8 cuts at equal distances from each other from the edge of the ball to the centre, leaving the centre uncut to resemble a flower.

Place these flowers on a lined/greased baking sheet and let these rise or puff up a bit for about 45 minutes or so.Poke a deep hole in the centre of the flowers to insert a "stem". Brush the flowers with milk or egg wash. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. 

Take out the rolls and brush with melted butter  or honey for more shine. Cool and insert halved pecans into the hole for "stem". You can also use cloves, spring onion greens or celery stalks instead of pecans as stems.

A simple spiced healthy bread shaped like autumnal pumpkin. Firm crust and soft crumb.  A regular sandwich bread which is made gourmet. The breads turns soft the next day. You can actually make it more spicier or more sweeter by altering the spices and adding more honey or sweetness.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Chilli Cheese Corn Bread | Baking Partners October '15

Diwali came and went in between rains. It was almost a wet Diwali  but it was nice to simply sit and chat doing nothing. Though I made regular sweets I didn't touch my computer or look at my blog those days. Now that one festival is over, we can slowly think of cooking clicking and posting about another festival which we don not celebrate much ieThanksgiving. 

I am more interested in experimenting with various festive dishes from other cuisines. This time  Southern style corn bread was suggested by Suja of KitchenCorner for Baking Partners by Swathi. The recipe is adapted from Weight Watchers CookBook and 1001 Great recipes around the world, Culinary Institute New York. As usual I tried the eggless  version replacing eggs with Ener G egg replacer and it came out right on time pretty good but  read on...

Makai ka Aatta / Yellow Cornflour: 1.5 cups
All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Baking Powder: 2 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Brown Sugar: 2 tbsp

Egg: 2 OR Ener G Egg: 1 tbsp pkd Powder whipped with 4-5 tbsp of water
Vegetable Oil: 4 tbsp
Buttermilk: 1 cup
Milk: 1/2 cup

Carrot grated/shredded: 1/3 cup (optional)
Green chillies : 1-2 minced
Corn: 1/2 cup
Cheddar cheese : 1 cup/shredded

Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and set aside.

Beat in eggs and blend in oil,milk and buttermilk. Add in the dry flour mix and fold in the carrot,chillies, corn and cheese.

Pour in a greased 8" pan and bake in a preheated oven at 400F/ 200C for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The bread will be light brown and crispy in the edges.If you have a skillet, heat in butter in it on a stovetop. And bake the bread in same skillet. 

The bread looked perfect from outside. Its taste was yum but texture was something I was not happy with. It was not light fluffy texture. But slightly heavier/thicker I  felt. Taste was excellent what with corn and carrot and chillies. But may be these made it thicker or pastier I felt. It was cooked perfectly, the tester in the middle had come out clean. 

Normally when I replace eggs some baked dishes take more time. This time also I had anticipated it , but the bread was done in exactly 30 minutes and top started browning a bit more that I wanted and hence I had pulled it out. But I let it cool completely in the pan and before cutting it.Next time definitely I will be playing around with the temperature and different ingredients and spices. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sweet Potato Peanut Bisque | Soup Saga Continues

Now that rains have decided to show up (better late than never!) , I thought I would post another soup or bisque. A bisque is a creamy and thick pureed soup made using seafood and these days even vegetables or fruit. Bisque is usually a term associated with seafood though the veggie ones are not behind in taste and wholesomeness.

This time I tried out another bisque made using sweetpotato and peanutbutter. I was searching for African recipes when I chanced upon this recipe here which sounded good and though sceptical I tried it out without much changes and found it very filling and warm.

Sweet Potato : around 3-4 cups chopped

Olive Oil: 2 tsp +
Onion: 1 small chopped
Garlic: 2 small cloves  minced

Green Chillies: 1-2 medium size chopped

Fresh Ginger: 2 tsp minced
Allspice: 1/2 tsp ground

Vegetable Stock/ Water: 1 cup +as needed
Peanut Butter: 6-8 tbsp as per preference

Salt &Pepper: as per taste

Cook the sweetpotatoes either in steamer or microwave. You can even roast the sweetpotato and then chop it. Choose the sweetpotato accordingly to get roughly 3-4 cups.Peel and chop the sweet potatoes  and keep aside.

Heat oil in a deep bowl and saute onion until its transparent and start to brown. Add in minced garlic and saute till raw smell goes. Then add in the green chillies, ginger, allspice and the tomato juice. Bring the mix  to boil and let it cook for another 10 minutes on medium heat.

Add half of the cooked sweetpotato to the pot and continue  cooking. Add the rest to a blender or food processer along with peanut butter and veg stock/water and puree until smooth. Add this puree to tho the soup pot and let it continue to simmer for few more minutes.

Adjust salt and pepper and other seasonings and serve warm optionally garnished.

A simple soup which is very filling. You can thin it down with more stock/water or even tomato juice as per taste.Peanut butter leaves a hint of taste in it and never overpowers. We get a mix of sweet potato and peanut flavour from the soup.Maybe you can add more peanut butter if you so prefer as per your taste.

 The sweetpotato pieces added  give something to chew or bite into. But its my opinion that you can actually puree the whole of the cooked sweet potato and add to the soup.The soup will be very thick though. Instead of peanut butter you can go with peanuts also though I am yet to try it.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Irish BarmBrack or Speckled Bread | We Knead to Bake #32

After spicy quiche, its time for sweet nutty fruity barmbrack. This month Aparna had chosen Irish Barmbrack or speckled bread for the We Knead to bake challenge. A tasty sweet bread it turned out to be with the dry fruits soaked in "tea".
Thats true. Barmbrack or Bairin Breac or simply brack is a dry fruit bread where there the dry fruits are soaked in tea and then added to yeasted and spiced dough. It is actually a part of Irish Halloween tradition and a slice goes very well tea. You can enjoy it buttered or simply toasted or just warm from the oven.

Chopped dried fruits: 3/4 cup
Strong Black Tea: 1.5 cups

All Purpose Flour: 3.5- 4 cups + more for dusting
Instant Yeast: 2tsp
Granulated Sugar: 2/3 cup
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Ground Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp
Ground Ginger: 1/2 tsp
Powdered Allspice: 1/4 tsp

Soft Unsalted Butter: 1 tbsp or 30 gm 

Egg: 1 or Ener G Egg: 1.5 pkd tsp of Ener G + 4 tbsp of water

Milk: 8-12 tbsp to make 1 cup of milky tea.


Soak the dry fruits in hot strong tea overnight or atleast 4 hours. When done, drain them but don't throw away the tea. To this tea add enough hot milk to make a cup.

In a bowl or processor, mix together the flour, yeast,sugar, salt and the spices. Add in soft butter and egg and whisk/beat well. 

Add in the milky tea and knead together to get a slightly sticky dough. Add in enough flour and continue kneading to get an almost nonsticky dough. Transfer the dough onto a dusted counter and flatten it out.

Sprinkle the drained dried fruits and fold in half and fold once again. Basically you need to incorporate the plumped up dry fruits into the bread dough and ensure they are evenly dispersed.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased container. 

Let it rise covered with a plastic wrap  until doubled in volume for almost 1.5 hours.

Gently knead the dough and divide into 2 portions. Shape into round balls  and place on greased baking sheets or even loaf tins if using.

Let these rise for another hour or so until they puff up. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 45 minutes until they are golden brown and done. Take out cool on a wire racks and then jump in.

Soft crumb with a firm crust. Sandwich bread texture except that here the crumb is sweeter and little crumbly.
You can warm it in the oven or toast it and you can experience the aromas of spices taking your  moods to a new height and a warmth around you. Wash it down with hot tea and your evening or afternoon is done. Perfect winter bread.

Except for butter and milk the bread is vegan friendly. You can replace butter with vegan substitutes and even avoid milk and go with black tea to make it completely vegan. 

Lets see what else Aparna is talking about the bread.Hop over to her post.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bell Pepper Quiche | Baking Partners October '15

Its back to school again now that festival is over. Actually its just a break.. Diwali starts in two weeks. In between there are weekends, government holidays, sports/annual day.. and then wind up everything for december and new year. Anyways, now that I am getting time to post so I thought I would start with Baking Partners Quiche challenge suggested by Arthy of Cook with Arthy Shama.

 Normally quiche is an open faced savoury pie, consisting of filling topped with eggy custard which is baked to set and then cut into pieces and served. As usual I went for eggless version, making the custard using tofu. You can actually go completely vegan with this by replacing the butter in the dough with olive oil which will make it more healthy too. The tofu using idea is from Vaishali's Coriander Quiche, a recipe I had bookmarked long ago.

I stuck to the given recipe for the crust as given by Arthy and made filling with different coloured bell peppers or capsicum that I had got through a friend from an organic farm. When you know you are not eating some posionous stuff then cooking is more easy and obviously enjoyable.


All Purpose Flour: 150gms /1 cup
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Cold Unsalted Butter: 85 gms ~7 tbsp (cubed )
Cold Water: 1-1.5 tbsp

Bell Peppers: different colours: chopped  into small pieces 1/2 cup total  atleast
Onion: 1/4 cup chopped
Salt,Spices & Seasonings of your choice : as per taste

Egg: 1 or Tofu (100g) + little water + salt + 1 tsp riceflour and dash of chilli flakes creamed together to form a thick custard

Cheese: for sprinkling at the bottom (optional)


In  deep bowl, mix together flour and salt. Add in small cubed chilled butter and pinch and fluff to get a coarse sand like flour. Add in cold water 1 tbsp at a time and mix well until a soft dough is formed. Be gentle with the dough. It might not come together at first but don't put too much force/pressure on it.

Put the dough in a cling wrap and refrigerate it for atleast two hours or overnight. Take it out on the day you are planning to bake and let it sit for 15-20 minutes at room temperature.

Roll out the dough within butter paper or plastic film to a large pie crust or mini ones based on the size of your pie pan. Place it on greased pie pan or mini ones as per choice . Shape them according to the edges of pie pan and press down the dough so that it touches the base and sides of pie pans.

Prick the shaped dough throughout the base and sides using a fork so that it doesn't rise during baking. Refriegerate the pie pans for 15-20minutes. Meanwhile you preheat the oven to 190C.

Take out the piepans and fill them with dried beans or rice. We r going for blind baking. That is baking the pies without any filling and the dried lentils will ensure there isn't any uneven rising.

Bake the pies for 15-20 minutes until the edges start browning and they leave the sides of the pan. Take out and let it cool. You can even refrigerate them for use at a later time if your filling is not ready.

Heat little olive oil in a deep pan and saute onions, followed by bell peppers adding salt and seasonings as per taste. Saute until the raw smell goes and keep aside for cooling.

Prepare your custard by grinding together tofu, water, rice flour and spices till it is thick but free flowing custard consistency.

Spread the cheese on the base. Then spread the filling followed by custard and more cheese as per taste.

Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for about 20-25 minutes until the filling is firm or set. Take out let it sit for a while and then serve ..

A simple eggless quiche with the same taste of a regular quiche. I didn't find any difference in taste and looks from the regular one. Those who don't prefer tofu can try with paneer as well.

I used to enjoy spinach and corn quiche from Cakewalk in Indiranagar, Bengaluru every time we used to go that side. That too was eggless and I remember questioning the staff on how they could claim it to be eggless. But they used to swear it was egg free.  Ofcourse now I am planning to recreate the same at home.

Meanwhile hop over to Swathi's to see who all made a quiche to go with their tea or as sides /main.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Roasted Butter Nut Squash Apple Soup | Bye Bye wintry Nights

Sometimes I buy ingredients and then wonder how to cook it. This used to happen on a regular and by the time I decide from a list of recipe, the vegetable would have said bye bye to this world.  Finally I purposefully stopped buying such vegetables and even different types of lentils and this worked well and I was happy that one headache was dealt with.
Till a  few days ago when my hand accidentally picked up a lovely butternut squash from the grocery store near home. Now my mind wandered from soup, snacks,breads and even kheers!. I know, some of you might have started laughing already about how undecisive I am . But this status went on till  I chanced upon  a cookery show on TV where the host - a lovely model turned chef/restaurateur was cooking a roasted pumpkin soup. It looked soooo hassle free  that I decided to try it with butternut squash. 

And not just that a little search in my cooking bible FoodNetwork and up popped Ina Garten's roasted apple and butternut squash soup. Both recipes are almost similar and I incorporated the easier methods from both and got a perfect soup to beat the chills.


Butternut Squash/ Pumpkin : 1 medium -large size 
Onion: 1 big one
Apple: 1 medium- big 
Garlic: 1-2 cloves

Salt , Pepper : as per taste
Fresh/Frozen Thyme : as much as u want
Chilli Flakes: as per taste

Olive Oil: for drizzling

Vegetable Stock: 3 cups +

Roasted Cashews / Other nuts/Scallion greens : for garnishing (optional)

Halve the squash lengthwise, remove the seeds and other fleshy things, slash it lightly with knife  and keep it ready for baking in a lined baking sheet. Sprinkle salt and pepper and chilli flakes and also add as much thyme in and around the squash. Drizzle with oil and make sure the oil and spices go deep inside the marks made. 

Drizzle onion and apple with olive oil and add to the baking sheet. Cover garlic cloves with foil and place in baking sheet. 

Roast the items in a preheated oven at 200 C for about 25-35 minutes until the juices burst out of the apple
and the squash becomes fork tender. In between make sure to check the garlic within the first 10-15 minutes and remove it from the oven as it might burn. You can even roast the garlic directly above the gas flame or saute it as you like.

Take out the roasted items and let these cool a bit. Scoop out the fleshy tender part of the squash onto a blender jar. Squeeze out the onion and garlic from the skins and ad it to the jar. Apple you can either remove the peel or simply deseed and add to the blender.

Once the items are ready in the blender/mixer/ food processor bowl, add in enough vegetable stock and blend to a fine puree.

Add the puree to a deep bowl and add more stock and heat it on medium. Bring it to a slight boil and then let it simmer till your choice of consistency is reached. Adjust the salt and spices or add more seasonings of your choice. The soup thickens on sitting. 

Warm it little if serving at a later time. Serve garnished with more thyme, roasted nuts, scallion greens etc.

A hearty soup to beat the chills. Its very filling and you can do more to this basic simple recipe. Like adding your choice of spices, additional ingredients like oats, rice etc and turn it into a hearty meal itself. You can avoid apple and instead add honey or stevia or your choice of sweetner and even cream .

Friday, September 25, 2015

Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread | We Knead to Bake September '15

I love banana bread though I never tried yeasted version. So when Aparna suggested yeasted version from KingArthurFlour for this months challenge I did try it out and it was perfect with nutella and peanut butter.
I halved the recipe and got a mini loaf which went well with tea.

Lukewarm Milk:4+ tbsp
Wheat flour: 1 cup
All Purpose Flour: 1/2 cup
Vital wheat gluten: 3/4 tsp
Soft Butter: 1 tbsp
Instant yeast: 1 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Honey: 1.5 tsp
Banana: 3/4 cups chopped +/-(12 tbsp)


In a bowl, mix together the flours,gluten,yeast and salt. Add in honey,butter and milk (3 tbsp at first) and start mixing together adding milk little more if needed. Once a sticky dough is formed, fold in the chopped bananas and continue kneading until you get a smooth soft almost non sticky dough.

Mine was ok -ok. The bananas got mashed and added to the stickiness.I needed barely 5 tbsp of milk.

Shape it into a ball and place in an oiled bowl and let it rise for another 1.5 - 2 hours until it doubles.At this stage you can refrigerate the dough and let it rise in the fridge overnight. If this is done, take it out atleast 20-30 minutes before the second rise.

Gently deflate the dough and place it in a greased loaf tin and let it rise under a loose wrap for an hour until it assumes the shape of the loaf and hopefully rises above the corners of the tin.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180C, brush the top of the bread with milk and sprinkle optional toppings like oats etc.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or more until the top is golden brown. Take out let it cool completely on a wire rack.

The bread is not sweet. Maybe it will be if the bananas used are overtly sweet. The bread can be used as a sandwich bread with even savoury spreads or gravies.
Else you can serve it with maple/butterscotch syrups, nutella and other sweet preserves/spreads.

You can even spice it up with cardamom, cinnamon etc and include nuts as well while kneading the dough. And obviously you can replace the bananas and go for oranges pineapple etc to get a different flavoured bread. Make sure you adjust the sweetness quotient as per your choice.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tomato Onion Galette | Baking Partners September Challenge

Galette is a French term for free form or rustic cakes, pies or pastries - sweet as well as savoury. Based on the size and content these can be used a side ,snack or dessert. These are most popular as desserts though. I remember baking apple galette for Suma Rowjee

I had mentioned it here though I am yet to post the recipe. This time when Suja of Kitchen Corner suggested Galette for Baking Partners Challenge by Swathi I decided to go for a simple savoury tomato onion thyme galette. I went with the same recipe suggested by Suja and filling I just did mine.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Cake Flour: 1/2 cup (7 tbsp apf + 1 tbsp semolina/cornmeal/cornstarch)
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp

Butter: 8 tbsp chilled

Ice cold water: 4 tbsp

In a bowl, mix flours, salt and sugar. Cut butter in small cubes and add it to the flour mix. Using a pastry blender, cut in through the flour or if using hands pinch and fluff the mix until it becomes coarse and resembles sand. The flour should look like large flakes and butter should be pea sized.You can do this in a processor also.
Slowly add water in tbsp and mix until the dough starts coming together. Transfer the dough onto a lightly dusted counter. Flatten the dough like  rectangle with the heel of your palm to a side away from you, starting from the top left corner to the bottom facing you.

Pat and smooth the top and cover the rectangle like an envelope by bringing the bottom to the middle and the top down on it and tuck the sides towards the bottom and make it like a round ball. Cover it in a plasatic wrap and chill it for atleast half an hour or upto two days.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. 

I just thinly sliced tomatoes and thinly chopped onions and used these with salt, pepper and thyme. You can actually salt the tomato slices and leave them on a rack so that the juice drains off and even caramelize onions. This ensures the dish is done faster and the pastry doesnt turn soggy.

Once the dough is ready and you are ready to bake the galette, take out the dough from fridge and place on a floured counter. Roll it out into 1/8" thick circles. Cut into desired shapes and carefully transfer to a baking sheet which is optionally lined/greased. 

Sprinkle around 1-2 tbsp of cornstarch/semolina/flour on top.Arrange the filling around leaving atleast 2-3 inches border. Fold the edges around the filling forming loose pleats. Gently press the pleats together so that it sticks together.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes or more until the filling starts to get cooking (the onions get caramelized look) and the crust turns brown.Remove the baking sheet from the oven and after 5-10 minutes remove the galette to a wirerack to cool completely before serving.

I made medium sized ones by halving the dough and served as a snack. It was yum and tomato, onions and thyme complemented tea very well. The pastry is buttery  but for the chilly weather its perfect.

Lets see the other options and who went sweet or savoury this month. Join me to check out  Swathi's post.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Savoury Modaks for Ganesha | Ammini Kozhukattai

Ganesha Chathurthi was celebrated two days back with pomp all over India and in some parts the celebrations are still going on. Festivities that celebrate the Birthday of Modak-loving, Elephant Faced Indian  God Ganesha or Ganpati end with the immersion of the Ganesh idol and this can take upto 1 week. At homes different types of offerings are made -usually sweet modaks and sometimes savoury as well. This time I preferred savoury modaks or ammini kozhukkattai - riceflour based steamed balls whick are then tempered to the taste. These are speciailities of Tamil Nadu though popular in all Southern states in India  and they turned out perfect as an offering snack. I have adapted the recipe from Sailus Kitchen and its given below.


Rice Flour: 1/2 cup
Hot water: 1cup +
Salt: 1/4 tsp

Ghee/oil: 1/2 tsp

Grated Coconut: few tbsp


Oil: 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Channa dal: 1.5 tsp
Urad Dal: 1 tsp
Green Chillies: 1-2 slit
Red Chillies: 1-2 chopped into pieces
Hing/Asafoetida: 1/4 tsp
Curry Leaves: few or 1 sprig

Mix salt rice flour together and add in ghee/oil. Add in hot water and knead the flour to get a smooth dough. You can first boil water with salt and ghee/oil and add in the rice flour and stir in to get a lump free dough. 
Whatever the method you use the dough should be smooth and lump free and let it sit for sometime so that it becomes easy to handle.

With greased hands pinch off small pieces from the dough and place in a greased steamer/ idly plates.

Place these plates in a steamer or pressure cooker and steam for 10-15 minutes (without weight if using cooker) until the balls are cooked and turn little light. Remove from heat and keep aside .

In a pan, Heat oil for tempering and add in the mustard. When it splutters, add in cumin and the  dals. Once the dals brown and the cumin sizzles, add in the red and green chillies, curry leaves and hing. Once the hing toasts and curryleaves sizzles add in the grated coconut followed by steamed rice balls. Mix well and take it off heat.

Serve in bowls as a breakfast or snack etc based on your choice.

Simple easy to make and savoury snack. You can make it along with sweet modaks and offer it during your pooja.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Chili con Elote -Chili with Corn | Mexican comfort for chilly nights

Now that its raining at nights, I thought I better prepare something that will keep us full and warm. I was thinking of good ol' chili when Aunt Google showed me chili with corn or Chili con Elote. I was under the impression that chili sin carne or meatless chili which has corn was the ultimate. But curiosity made me try this 'sweet corn only no other veg' chili  from here and it hit the tastebuds like anything.  Seriously its easy to prepare and goes well as a soup or with rice and/ or breads.

Onion: 1 chopped (almost 1 cup)
Garlic: 1 medium size chopped
Green Bell Pepper : 1 medium :chopped into bite size pieces
Vegetable Stock / Water: 2 cup +/-
Tomatoes: 1 cup chopped 
Tomato Paste : 2 tbsp

Fresh/ Frozen Sweet corn : 2 cups +

Cooked Red Kidney Beans: 3 -4 cups

Paprika / (Mexican) Chili Powder: 1/2 -1 tsp
Cumin Powder: 1/4 tsp
Oregano: 1 tsp + 
Salt: as per taste

Oil: for sauteing

Saute onion and garlic in oil until transparent and aromatic. Add in green pepper pieces and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add in the spice powders, little salt,corn and tomato chopped/ tomato paste along with water/stock and bring to boil. Also add in the cooked beans mashed coarsely.

Reduce heat and let it simmer for bout 20-30 minutes till it thickens a bit and reaches your choice of consistency. Do taste test and adjust the salt and spices.

Serve as a soup, side with bread/roti/rice and also as tortilla filling or bread spread or even as a dip if you grind it coarsely

A simple spicy gravy or curry if you prefer so. I liked it as a soup as well. An easy one too if you have cooked beans sitting in the fridge waiting to be used. No hassle of chopping other vegetables too. You can refer the other varieities of chili - sweetpotato and chocolate if you prefer to add veggies or go different from the usual.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Pineapple & Broken Wheat Payasam | Festivals Galore

Today is celebrated as Onam in Kerala, Varamahalakshmi Pooja in Karnataka and for select communities its also the 'thread changing day' or 'suthaam punnav' or avani avittam. Whatever way you celebrate its the foods that show the festive spirit. And obviously the sweet desserts which come at the end of the meal but linger on till next year. 

I tried a simple fruit payasam or kheer with  healthy broken wheat, split yellow lentils and pineapple. The recipe from a magazine is pretty much traditional except I replaced the rice in the traditional avatar with healthy and easy cooking ingredients.

Broken Wheat /Dalia : 1 cup
Split Yellow Lentils: 1/4 cup

Pineapple chopped/grated: 1-2 cups or more as per your preference

Jaggery Syrup : 2.5-3 cups 

Thin coconut milk/ Third extract: 6-8 cups
Medium thin coconut milk/ Second extract: 2-3 cups
Thick coconut milk/ First extract: 1 cup

Powdered Ginger /Sonth : 1/2 tsp
Powdered Jeera/ Cumin : 1/4-1/2 tsp

On medium heat bring to boil the thin coconut milk/ third extract and add in hte broken wheat and lentils. Let these cook on low -med heat until almost done.

Add in the chopped/grated pineapple and continue cooking till most of the liquid is absorbed.

Add in the second extract/medium thick coconut milk and jaggery syrup and continue cooking stirring periodically so that this doesn't get burnt.

Once the mixture thickens a bit or reaches your choice  or the right payasam consistency, stir in the thick coconut milk and powdered spices. Stir well and take it off heat. It will thicken upon sitting. 

Serve warm or at room temperature in bowls garnished with more pineapple.

You can use or add other fruits incase you are not a fan of pineapple, but its good for me. You can cook with rice or oats or mix of lentils and grains if you wish to experiment.You can even add cashew nuts or raisins along with pineapple. I kept it simple .. just the pineapple.

I am a pineapple fan and for your kind info , if you happen to visit Kerala in hotter months(!?) make sure you visit the area called ' Muvattupuzha'- its the heart of pineapple cultivation. Though it is available all year round, pineapple flourishes in hot season. By May you can feel the pineapple in the air as they perfume the air when they ripen. Imagine loads of pineapples... Its a feeling I have enjoyed.Hope you do too. You can even see several truck loads of pineapple being transported to markets etc...

Meanwhile enjoy the payasam... healthy delicious and obviously festive..

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mexican Cemita Buns | We Knead to Bake #30

'Cemita' in Spanish refers to sandwich or the bread it is served in. Cemita buns are sandwich rolls/ buns from the city of Puebla in Mexico. These are brioche like egg -rich burger buns and a popular street food in Mexico. The cemita rolls are served with avocado, cheese and salsa rojo or your choice of accompaniments. 

We baked the cemita buns this month for We Knead to Bake by Aparna. The  recipe is adapted from Serious Eats - and ofcourse it was seriously perfect.

All Purpose Flour: 2.5-3 cups (I used 2.5 cup + 2-3 tbsp)
Cream: 1/2 cup
Milk: 1/2 cup
Eggs: 2 (1 pkd tbsp of Ener G + 4 tbsp of water)
Instant Yeast: 1 tsp
Salt: 3/4 tsp
Sugar: 1.5 tbsp (4.5 tsp)

Milk : for brushing
Sesame seeds: 1/3 - 1/2 cup 
Coarse sea salt: sprinkling (optional)

Combine flour (2.5 cups), cream,milk, eggs, yeast, sugar and salt in a big bowl of processor. Process until a sticky dough that rides around the blade is formed about 45 seconds. Add extra flour in tbsps if too sticky.

Transfer to a large bowl - optionally greased (I didn't) - cover and let it rise for about 3-4 hours until 1.5 times the original size

Flour the working surface and also flour the dough and transfer the dough to the counter. 

Lightly press down the down and shape into a thick rope shape. Cut this into equal 6 portions with a scraper or knife.

Shape into smooth rounds by stretching tops to form a skin. and arrange these on a lined baking sheet  with an little space between them. Cover and  let these proof for 45 minutes or so until they have risen a bit.

Brush with milks and sprinkle the top with generous amount of sesame seeds -I used black and white. Lightly press the seeds down into the dough. Bake at 230C/450F for about 15 minutes until done and tops turn golden brown.

Cool completely on a wire rack before using. Mine was done in 12 minutes and it looked perfect. I waited for half an hour or so before consuming one just like that and yup it worked. 

It was like regular sandwich bun regarding to texture. Maybe eggs might add extra richness as I had used egg replacer.  I am very happy with how the  buns turned out.

Lets hope over to Aparna's  and see who all enjoyed baking cemita buns.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Google & Life | Life @ GoogleHouse

These days I find that I am using my laptop less and mobile phone more. Thanks to andriod /smart phones life has become a lot easier as you are accessible to your near and dears all the time and  in not just one way but several. Tech innovations can definitely help you in several areas of life including kitchen.. yes of course

I had the opportunity to visit #Googlehouse on Aug 18,2015 where Google showcased a variety of product innovations for India's 'mobile first' world. The event featured demos on Google Search, Photos, Translate and Youtube Offline and included appearances by celebrities like chef Kunal Kapur, fashion photographer Dabboo Ratnani, stand up comedian Kanan Gill, and  VJ-Designer-Photographer Anushka Menon.

Sandeep Menon, Country Head Marketing Director explained the latest trends and their vision for online future. He mentioned the millions of people currently only thanks to mobile devices and the increasing percentage of online indians and how Google is targetting these by providing customized apps and software like Google translate which has been customised and working at present in Hindi and in other Indian languages in near future. 

Along with Suren Ruhela, Google HQ,California and  Anushka Menon, VJ-Model-Photographer,Sandeep Menon talked on how Google Assistant can help you in your day to life right from taking care of booking cabs, meeting reminders, keeping ready soft copy of flight tickets along with specifying the climatic conditions at the destination and also important places you would like to visit. In short it is your digit personal assistant or adc ,whatever you call it.

Did you know that you can now take a virtual walk through important cultural places without exactly having to visit these places. Try it out..

Not just that Google lets you search your choice of restaurant, ushers you in virtually and lets you reserve a table of your choice. Ofourse you can even preorder from online menus if available and simply enjoy the food of your choice with your near and dear ones.

If Google search enables you to search through zillions of recipes and cuisines then the latest version of search enables you to even compare between two different kinds of foods.. say Dhokla & idly. Try it out...

Btw, not just calorie chart, Google Translate has features that gives you calories and names in your choice of language say Hindi other than English.. This fact was even stressed by Sandeep Menon along with MasterChef Kunal Kapur .

Did you know a virtual tour will also help you in deciding interiors  Try out .....

We cannot end the post without talking about the unlimited storage of new Google Photos. We can organize the photos in several ways, pick and choose and share partially to specific people, whew... it a lot... pls try it out ..

This massive feature was shown by Bollywood Photographer Dabboo Ratnani who has been clicking stars for the past 15-20 years..

And if you are a person who hates the buffering that Youtube takes, then here's the good news. YouTube Offline lets people download videos to mobile devices and tables and watch these at leisure even when coonectivity is not so strong.. A fact mentioned by stand p comedian Kanan Gill who had everybody in splits right from the moment he walked in.

What are you waiting for, download the Google Apps and make you life easy...

  (LtoR)Sandeep Menon,  Dabboo Ratnani, Anushka Menon, Kanan Gill, Suren Ruhela, Kunal Kapur

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bagels, Bagels, Bagels | Baking Partners Aug '15

It was so long since I baked bagels. I had baked wholewheat bagels long back and since then the original has always been on my to-do list. I regretted not making these earlier when I tasted the perfect bagels all thanks to Baking Partners August challenge given by Swathi. The recipe is adapted from Peter Reinhart's artisan Bread Everyday.


Honey : 1 tbsp
Instant Yeast: 1 tsp
Coarse Kosher Salt: 1.5 tsp ( or 1 tsp regular salt)
Lukewarm water: 1 cup + 2 tbsp

Bread Flour: 3.5 cups (3.5 cups All purpose Flour + 3.5 tsp of Vital wheat gluten)

Poaching liquid
Water: 4-6 cups
Honey (optional) : 1.5 tbsp
Baking Soda: 1 tbsp
Salt: 1 tsp


Day 1
Stir in the honey, yeast and salt into water in a small bowl.

Place the flour in a big/deep bowl and add in the wet mix.
Stir in with a sturdy spoon for about 3 minutes until well blended to form a wet coarse dough mass. 
Rest for 5 minutes.

Transfer to a lightly dusted surface and knead by hand for another 3 minutes to  smooth out the dough.

Place the dough in a clean, lightly greased bowl, and let it rise for an hour at room temperature covered tightly with a plastic wrap.

After this you can refrigerate it overnight or shape into bagels and then refrigerate.For shaping bagels read below

While the dough is rising, prepare a baking sheet with lining and lightly grease the lining.

Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Take each piece and shape into a loose ball with a cupped hand on wet surfeace and not floured unlike the first kneading. Water will help provide the enough traction for the dough to form into a ball. 

Poke a hole through the centre of the ball to create a donut shape.

Holding the dough with both thumbs in the hole. rotate the dough with your hands, gradually stretching it to create a hole 2" in diameter.

Place the bagel on prepared sheet, spray the top lightly with oil. Repeat the process until all bagels are ready. Cover the pan with a plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight or for upto 2 days.

Day 2: Baking Day:

Remove the bagels 1.5 hours before you plan to bake them. If you had chilled as a whole dough then shape it into bagels and let them proof before rising.This proofing is optional and you can directly go to the next step.

Check immediately whether they are ready for baking using the float test. : Place a bagel in a small bowl of cold water.

If it sinks and doesn't float back to the surface, shake it off, return to the baking and let it rest/proof for another 30 minute before repeating the test again.

One bagel passing indicates all bagel passing. Now they all are ready to be boiled and baked.

If you are not ready for baking then return them to the refrigerator so that they don't overproof.

When you are about to bake the bagels, bring the water to boil, reduce to simmer, stir in honey, baking soda and salt. 

Gently lower each bagel into the simmering poaching liquid adding as many as will fit the pot, they should all float to the surface withing 15 seconds. After a minute,use a slotted spoon to turn each bagel over. Poach for another 30-60 seconds,then use the slotted spoon to transfer it back to the pan, domed side up.Mine were done within 15 seconds per side. 

Sprinkle on a genourous amount of toppings as soon as they are out of the water.I used regular white and black sesame seeds.

Bake in a preheated oven (preheat the oven to 500F/260 C 30 minutes prior to baking, transfer the bagel to oven,reduce the temp to 450F/ 232C) for 8 minutes.Then rotate the pan and also check the underside of bagels. If they are getting too dark, double the baking pan. Bake for another 8-12 minutes until they are golden brown.

My max oven temperature was 250C and I preheated the oven at this temperature. Then placed the baking tray and reduced it to 220 and then cooked for 7 minutes as they started browning at this stage.

Then rotated the pan and reduced the temperature to 200,doubled/insulated with another baking tray  and then continued for another 5-6 minutes before they started burning.

Take out and let these cool on wirerack atleast for another 30 minutes before slicing and serving them with your choice of spreads or as such.

Perfect bagel. I loved it as such. Serve it for breakfast or if you don't mind as anytime snack with your choice of dip or spread.
The texture was not too soft crumb with a firmer crust. similar to sandwich bread but firmer/thicker and it had perfect soda aroma that makes sure its different from other breads.

Lets see who all  baked bagels this time with us. Hop over to Swathis Post grabbing a bagel...

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Zaalouk | Eggplant goes Moroccan

I started liking eggplant since I started blogging. I have tried several recipes  -Indian and international with it and loved it as salad, pizzas, dips , etc. But these days show me an eggplant and the standard recipe to turn to is bharta. The  North Indian roasted and spiced spread goes well as side, dip and spread. 

This time I decided to go for something thats equally spicy but different. I decided to do  Moroccan cooked salad called 'zaalouk' . 

'Cooked Salad'? Did you hear it right ? 

Yup. Moroccan chefs cook the eggplant by boiling it and then turn it into this salad by adding tomatoes and other spices and seasonings. I found a roasted version here which included roasted peppers as well and it turned out perfect with my meloui.


Eggplant: 1 large
Green Bell Pepper: 2 -medium sized

Olive oil: 1/3 cup ( I used less)
Tomatoes: 2-3 medium peeled and chopped
Fresh Cilantro/ Parsley: 1/3 cup (I used a mix of both herbs
Garlic clove: 3-4 

Paprika: 2 tsp
Ground cumin: 1 tbsp
Salt: 1.5 tsp +/-

Water: 1/3 cup

Lemon Juice: 2-3 tsp
Green chili (optional)


Wash and stem the eggplant. Slice it lengthwise and place it on a lined baking sheet. Wash and halve the bell peppers and place it on the baking sheet.If you are using additional green chili  or even garlic cloves you can place in the baking sheet.

Broil /Roast the eggplant and other items in the oven for about 20 minutes until the peppers are charred and the eggplant turns soft. If the peppers are done before the eggplant, remove them from the oven and put htem in a ziplocked bag where will sweat out and loosen from their skin. 

You can even broil/roast these directly on the gas stove. Once done, peel the pepper, and coarsely chop these.
Once the eggplant is done scoop put the flesh from the eggplant discarding skin and large clumps of seeds and coarsely chop and mash it. Keep side.

While the roasting is being done, heat a deep pan/skillet on medium and adding  little oil, garlic cloves, spices, salt and herbs.

Add in enough water and let it all  cook until pulpy and raw smell disappear.

Then add in the mashed eggplant and chopped peppers including the optional green chili and adding more water (if needed) let it cook covered  for another 10-15 minutes until the water is almost absorbed and flavours are mixed well.

Adjust salt and seasonings and add in the lemon juice and cook for another minute or so stirring to prevent from burning. 

Serve the zaalouk hot or cold with bread. Its perfect as a dip, spread, topping etc. 

I liked it with meloui and both were polished off in no time.

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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