Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Marbled Choco-Vanilla Bundt Cake by my darlings Shriya and Vindhya

My dear friend aka sister Poonki's 6 year old twins Shriya and Vindhya love cooking. So instead of saying "even 6 year olds can make it!", I need to say "6 year olds made this!".

They are both such a divine bunch of energy - any day I am feeling down, just talking to them for 5 mins gets me going! Thank you, girls, for all the love and affection. And for this recipe - everyone, please encourage them. I have a feeling they will soon have their own blog  (which I think they should start .. like yesterday!) - all my blessings and love for the little angels. Enjoy the video when we have them uploaded (both their mom and aunt are debating the best medium for it still!) - they truly sound like professional chefs! :)

Here is the video link (Update on 09/01/2014)

Set 1

1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
11/2 tbs sugar
1/4 cup hot water

Set 2

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Set 3
1 cup maida
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt


1) Lay out the ingredients.

2) Mix ingredients in set 1. Set aside the cocoa mixture
3) In a bowl , add butter, sugar and vanilla extract in set 2 .
4) Beat with a mixer for 10 min
5) Add eggs and beat for 2 min
6) Add set 3 ingredients
7) Add cocoa mixture to half the batter

8) Pour both the batter alternately in a cake tin and bake for upto 40 min at 170 C
9) Take out and eat!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Baked Sambhar Powder Small Eggplants


Small Purple Eggplants : about 12 (small as in closer to egg-size, try to get all of them of same size for uniform baking)
Sambhar Powder - 8 tsp
Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1 tsp (or as per taste)
Pepper - 1 tsp
Garlic - chopped into tiny pieces - 8 cloves

Give two diagonal cuts on the Eggplant leaving the stem intact.
Mix all the ingredients except Eggplant together to prepare the oil-spice mix.
Place the oil-spice mix using a small spoon into the Eggplant cuts.

Place them lying on their side in a baking pan lined with Aluminium foil.
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.
Bake for 15 mins
Reduce heat to 375 degrees F.
Bake for 10 mins
Note - Keep a close watch since oven temperature and cooking time may vary.
Poke with a knife and make sure the Eggplant is cooked.
Take it out and cover with an Aluminium foil to continue cooking and let the juice flow.
Serve hot.

It was a good side-dish with Biryani. It is so easy and quick to prepare that I will be making it more often for sure. This was definitely something I just came up with combining a number of baked Eggplant dishes as inspiration for this Indian-taste twist. It will be a good side-dish for Rice-dal and Chapatti for sure. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Achari Vegetable Curry


Shan Achari Masala - 1 pack (Shan Achari Gosht also works, but it is less spicy)
Cauliflower (aka Gobi) - 1, chopped into florets
Mushroom - 1 large pack, remove the stem of the mushroom and chop into 3-4 pieces each
String Beans - 1 bunch, chopped into 2 inch pieces
Dry Green Chana - 1 cup, soak overnight and pressure cook with an inch of chopped ginger and Salt for approx. 2 whistles
Potatoes - 2-3 medium, chopped to match the cauliflower florets size
Paneer - a few pieces, as per taste
Canola Oil - 2 tbsps
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dry Bay Leaf - 3-4
Dry Red Chilli - 2-3 (optional)
Salt - 1 tbsp (or as per taste)
Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Tomato - 2 medium, chopped into small pieces
Onion\Ginger\Garlic paste - 12 tbsp (grind 1 large Onion, 1/2 inch Ginger, 7-8 Garlic cloves, 2 Green Chillies is optional)


Grind Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies together
Heat Canola Oil.
Season the oil with Cumin Seeds, Dry Bay Leaf and Dry Red Chillies.
As the spices start browning, add the Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies paste. If there is any of the paste remaining, freeze it to use later. I keep it in refrigerator if I intend to use it within the next day or two in a tightly sealed container.
Mix the paste with the seasoned Oil and stir till the paste is cooked and the Oil separates. Takes about 5-10 mins.
In the meanwhile, heat another pan and start frying the veggies one-by-one. I do one veggie at a time since that will make sure the veggies are uniformly cooked. If you don't have one or more of these veggies, don't worry - it is perfectly okay to skip them. Different combination of veggie stuff will give it a slightly different taste - not that much of a difference though! I leave them half-cooked so that when mixed with the Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies, they can cook together completely.
As the Onion-Ginger-Garlic-Green Chillies paste is cooked, add the Shan Achari Masala. Mix together and stir for 2-3 mins.
Add the fried veggies and mix well.
Cover and cook for a few mins, particularly if the veggies are half-cooked.
Serve this hot with Rice\Chapatti.

Achari Vegetable Curry with Peurto Rican Beans in the background

Fried Plantains (Puerto Rican)

One of my friend's mother-in-law and a very dear friend of mine was recently in town. She very sweetly remembered that I had expressed an interest in learning more about the Puerto Rican cuisine and maybe a recipe or two. We ended up meeting last Sunday and cooking together. That was one of the most memorable get-togethers that I have had. We ate, drank, laughed and cooked some. "Life is good" because of such moments that we share with near and dear ones. Thank you, Beita ... love you and always count my blessings that I have you as a friend. Amen to many more such moments to be blessed on all of us.

She taught us Puerto Rican Beans and Rice (will post later) and Fried Plantains. Both were delicious, full of flavors and the best part - easy peasy to make. The whole house smelt so good when both these dishes were being cooked.


Plantains - not too ripe, just perfect
Canola Oil - for frying one side at a time (not as much as one would need for deep frying)


Cut the plantains as shown in the pic.

Heat the oil.
Place the plantains in a layer so that one side gets cooked.
As it slightly browns, turn over the other side.
It is meant to be slightly cooked, but we also liked a batch that was slightly overdone and crispy. Or as Beita said "If you kids like it, go for it!" :)

As we kept making these, they kept disappearing. So you can imagine! Even the kids love it..so plan the portions accordingly when preparing. We had it as a side with the Rice & Beans as well. The sweetness of the fried plantains gave a nice twist to the savory Rice & Beans. Bon appetit.

Thank you, Beita, for the wonderful recipe and the memories. A shout-out to my fellow learners in this cookout - dear A-Chau and Huey :)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mediterranean Restaurant Zeitoon @ Sterling, VA

Different types of Olives
Note - This is not a paid post!:)

We tried out a local Mediterranean restaurant and loved it - so I thought I should share. Loved the food and the service. Can't wait to try it again. Every dish was fresh and flavourful. The lamb was perfectly cooked - just the right amount of spice without being overwhelming. The plums in the dish were a unique addition to a meat dish for me and gave a nice twist. Actually if it were not for the plums, it would have been very much like the good ol'  Odiya Mangso Tarkari (Goat Meat curry). Hummus was one of the best I have ever had. I dont have (or thought so) the taste buds for Olives but liked the different varieties they served.

Sharing a few pics.

Note: They make Baklava every few days (I forget the exact days) but it was sold out the day we visited - will def try it the next time we are there. 

Appetizer samplerLamb Tajine - loved the plums in it!