Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Some veggie pics by Baba

My dad loves photography. I can attribute my love for photography to him. The other day, we were sitting and chatting in the kitchen and we had a mega-cook-off coming up since we were expecting guests. Me and Maa got Baba (that's how I call my dad) inspired to take some pics for us of veggies. Sharing them with everyone, enjoy!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Maa's Caramel Custard

A dessert that I used to have aplenty while growing up -- yeah, yeah so much so that I stopped liking it. These days, I like to have it once in a while, in very very small servings. Since hubby dear just loves it, I learned how to make it from Maa. Of course, to also make it when I miss home and want some food that can take me back to the growing-up days and provide the calming effect!. Here it is -- The caramel custard.

Ingredients (makes 8 servings)

White sugar - 1.5 tbsp + 8tbsp = 9.5 tbsp
Milk - 2 cups
Eggs - 6
Vanilla essence - 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg Powder - a pinch
Step 1 - Caramel Prep

Take 1.5 tbsp sugar and heat in the container you plan to set the caramel custard in. The sugar caramelizes and develops a wonderful golden red color. Spread it out over the entire bottom of the container. This will show up in the caramel custard when you invert it out of the container into a plate.

Tip - To ensure the caramel remains spread out, you can spread it out and then place the container in cold water such that the bottom cools down.

Step 2 - Custard Prep - Liquid mix

Beat the eggs with vanilla essence. Add this to the milk and sugar mixture. Make sure that the sugar is well mixed with the rest of the mixture.

Tip - Don't beat the eggs too hard. The more foam you develop, the custard becomes less soft in texture.

Step 3 - Custard Prep

Heat the pressure cooker with some water. Place the container with caramel from Step 1. Add the mixture from Step 2 to the container. Close the lid with the weight. Cook for 1 whistle on high heat (approx. 10 mins) and 5 mins on Medium heat after that. Put the heat off and let it stand till it cools down to room temperature.

Refrigerate the caramel custard and serve cold. There are definitely some exceptions like my dad who like it a little warm. Enjoy the subtle flavours of this easy dessert!

Update on 03/30/2008 - Alternative receipe from Paula's Home Cooking of Food Network (Thank you, Paula!)

1/2 cup sugar + few drops of water - for caramel
3cups milk - 5 eggs - 1/2 cup sugar - 1 tsp vanilla - pinch of salt - Mix well and fill up the individual containers.
Bake at 350 degree Fahreinheit for 1 hr in a hot-water bath

Update on 03/15/2012 - Sharing a lovely presentation of caramel custard we had in a resort in Cancun, Mexico.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Eggless Dates Cake

"A new form of cake" is all that can easily be said to summarize this cake. Indeed. I first had this cake when my dear friend Prajakta (I still got to make and post her finger-licking Malai Kofta!) made this and got some for me. I was wowed. It was a soft cake with an absolutely different taste. She had used the recipe from our Konkani fellow blogger Shilpa's Aayi's Recipes. The master recipe is here. Thanks to both Shilpa and Prajakta for introducing me to this cake. I love it and so does my family. My dad, who is not a major fan of dates, also liked it :)

Ingredients (Makes 1 loaf)

Pitted Seedless Dates - 18 (If normal dates are used, they need to be soaked with warm milk overnight)
Milk - 3/4 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cup
All purpose flour / Maida - 1 cup
Canola Oil - 1/2 cup
Baking soda - 1 tspn
Cashews, raisins - handful each (optional)

Preheat the oven at 350F.

Seive together flour and baking soda.

Grind the dates, milk and sugar together till the dates are finely mixed with the rest of the mixture.

Add oil and mix. Add the flour+baking soda mixture 2-3 tablespoons at a time and mix slowly. Add the nuts and mix.

Bake the cake in a greased oven proof dish for 50 mins - 1 hr (or till a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean)

This tastes great fresh and warm out of the oven!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Crabmeat Dip with Ranch Dressing

A light stuff to have with Belgian Endives or Garlic Parmesan Bread! I had first tried this recipe during Christmas 2006 following Rachael Ray's recipe. When I wanted to make it again for this year's Christmas, I just could not find the recipe. I think it was similar to the one mentioned below...whatever it was, it was pretty similar. How else to console oneself? Just kidding. :)


1 Belgian Endive
Crabmeat 1/2 lb (I used Phillips Foods brand)
Onion - 1/2 small (or Green Onion - 2 stalks)
Yellow Capsicum - 1/4
Orange Capsicum - 1/4
Red Capsicum - 1/4
Celery - 1 stalk
Ranch Dressing - 2 tbsp
Pepper Powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt as per taste
Hot sauce - few drops
Paprika Powder - 1/4 tsp

Chop the veggies into tiny pieces and then mix everything together. Easy, isn't it? :)

You can also add sour cream and cream cheese for added flavour. Check out one of those recipes here. Have fun!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pumpkin Seed Pakora

A new ingredient in my pantry these days - Pumpkin Seeds!! Had picked them up at the New Jersey Edison Sabzi Mandi, but could not gather the courage to try making it. Finally did so with my mom's assistance. It's not difficult to make, just was not too sure how it would turn out. It did taste good. You can have it as a side-dish simply as a pakora. Or put it in a simple gravy made from onion-ginger-garlic-tomato paste sauted and cooked in a tablespoon of oil.

Ingredients (Makes about 20)

Pumpkin Seeds 1 cup
Besan 2 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Tumeric powder 1/2 tsp
Ginger paste 1 tbsp
Cumin-Chilli Powder 1/2 tsp

Step 1

Soak pumpkin seeds overnight. In the morning, remove the skin of the seeds. Grind the remaining portion with as little water as possible. 1/2 cup of water will most probably do.

Step 2

Add besan, salt, turmeric powder, ginger paste and cumin-chilli powder to the above batter and mix well. It will form a batter as shown here.

Step 3

Heat pan. Add a tablespoon of oil for every round of making pakoras on the pan. Take small portions of the batter in your hand and put in the pan. Let it stand so that one side stiffens and gets cooked. Once firm, turn the pakora over carefully so that the other side can cook. Use Medium to Medium-High heat throughout.

Enjoy them hot and crisp!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ras-bhara Rasagolla

Rasagolla-Rasgulla-Rasogolla-however you write it, if it sounds like one of these then it means this white-colored cheese-sweet immersed in sugar syrup. This is supposed to one of the authentic Oriya sweet that has made its way into the Bengali household and has since been termed as an Oriya-Bengali sweet. Wikipedia has a nice short history about Rasagolla here.

One of my earlier post about Chenna-Poda mentions the Pahala village. Apart from Chenna-poda, the Pahala village cooks are popular for their melt-in-the-mouth freshly made and warm rasagollas. If you are ever travelling between Bhubaneswar and Cuttack (in Orissa, India), don't miss the chance to taste this indigenous sweet.

A quick and easy recipe to make it at home is shown below.

Ingredients (Makes 25-30)

Whole milk - 1 gallon
Lemon juice of 1 lemon
Semolina - 2 tbsp

Sugar - 2.5 cup (syrup)
Water - 5 cup (syrup)
Cardamom - 3-4 (syrup)

Boil milk. Add lemon juice to split the milk and get chenna. Note - Don't let the chenna become hard boiling. Next, make it as dry as possible. Best option is to put it on a cheese-cloth and hang it free. Well, I could not come up with any innovative way to do this. So I just used a strainer and let it stand for a duration of 1-2 hrs. Mash the chenna and semolina with hand till it forms into a soft and smooth wet dough.

Take a pressure cooker. Add the water and sugar together. Mix them. Bring it to a boil. Crush the cardamom and add to this.

Once the sugar mixture boils, make small 2 inch diameter balls and drop them slowly into the syrup. If it holds itself in the syrup, you are good to go. Make similar sized balls with the rest of the chenna. Put the pressure cooker lid on. Cook it on high heat for 6 mins and on medium heat for 5 mins.

Enjoy the warm rasagollas! You can refrigerate them. When ready to eat, put it in the microwave for a few seconds and allure yourself :)