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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