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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Egg-less Rhubarb and Strawberry muffins – Spring is in the air

rhubarb muffins 12

Spring is here! …Finally! Its been a much awaited Spring this time with the longest winter I've ever experienced. We had the first snow in October that went on till April!

rhubarb muffins flowers 3

The flowers have bloomed and the landscape is getting colorful. I love that I am woken up by the early sunrise( and my 6 month old) rather than my alarm clock.

Rhubarb muffins8
I must say that back in India, growing up, I barely experienced any spring. Having spent most of my childhood in the southern coastal part of India, we barely had any winter. You can  imagine my first stint with winter few years ago, after having moved to Switzerland! I loved the snow but I also missed the sunny warmth of home. And that's what makes Spring so special. I was fascinated with cherry blossoms, and asparagus..and rhubarb and whole lot of other things. This also gave me the opportunity to learn and experiment cooking with these seasonal produce, speaking of which these egg free Rhubarb and strawberry muffins are delicious and easy to make.

rhubarb muffins 9 rhubarb muffins 10

Rhubarb and strawberries pair very well. This recipe also uses semolina(cream of wheat), known as Greiss in German which is widely used in baking. I have used equal proportion of strawberries and rhubarb, although, the proportion of is a matter of choice really. But point to borne in mind is that rhubarb is less sweet compared to strawberries. The quantity of sugar might have to be adjusted based on the proportion.

This is also my entry to The Spring Photography Challenge going on at JungleFrog Cooking. I am glad that I could participate this month as well.

Rhubarb muffins6

rhubarb muffins THIRD ROUND 3

Rhubarb and Strawberry muffins – Egg-less Rhubarb and Strawberry muffins

Yeild – 12 medium sized muffins

Things you need -

125 gms Fine Semolina
60 gms Flour – all purpose or whole wheat + 1 tbsp for dusting
150 gms Rhubarb and Strawberry, washed and chopped. (Rhubarb, sliced and strawberries hulled and chopped coarsely)
180 gms sugar
250 ml yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
180 gms butter, melted
1 tsp baking powder
12 Muffins cases

How its done - 

1. Preheat oven to 180 deg Celsius. Line the muffin tray with muffin cases.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the semolina and mix to form a uniform mixture.
3. Whisk the butter and sugar until a creamy mixture is formed. For about a minute.
4. Add the yoghurt to the butter-sugar mixture and combine well until it is uniformly incorporated.
5. Pour this wet mixture to the dry ingredient mixture.
6. Lightly dust the fruits with a tbsp of flour to prevent them from settling to the bottom of the muffins. Now Fold in the fruits into the batter. Do not over mix. The batter now should be spoon able. Using an ice cream scooper or large spoon, spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cases.
7. Bake at 180 degrees for 15/20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the muffins.
8. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack or wooden board.

Notes -

It is best to enjoy them on the day they are baked. Can be stored for 2-3 days.
Baking time may vary slightly depending on the oven. So keep an eye after 15 minutes.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Simple Tomato and Bread salad

Tomato and bread salad4

Tomato and bread salad3

There are some days when its just me for lunch. Usually the little one is away the whole day at school and hubby anyways has lunch at work. Mostly I am in no mood for cooking on those days. I make something very simple for myself.
Last weekend was one such day. It was father and son`s day out. There were days when I happily went out shopping on such days or stayed at home and watched a movie. But ever since I started this blog…guess what..any `me` time equals to cooking, trying out recipes or just getting engrossed in the world of food photography.
The light was beautiful. It was a rare and much awaited sunny yet a tad chilly day and I just wanted to click some random photos while little miss P napped. I noticed a bunch of colourful cherry tomatoes in the fridge. Ah..such beauties. So one thing led to another and I ended up making this simple salad for lunch.

Tomato and bread salad

Tomato and bread salad1

This salad is almost like panzella..but simpler than that. You could also add onions, or cheese like feta or mozzarella. Herbs like parsley, basil, mint all work fine here. I have used dried italian herbs. You could also use fresh ones. Its a great way to use up old bread too.

Simple Tomato and Bread salad

Yield – 2 to 3 servings

Things you need

About 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
2-3 sliced of bread
3 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tsp of dried italian herbs. Use fresh herbs if you like. Basil, Parsley all work well.
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced very fine.
1 tsp lemon juice
coriander, for garnish
salt as per taste
a pinch of fine sugar
half tsp pepper, ground
spring onions chopped, a handful, optional

How I made it -

1. Whisk together 2 tbsp olive oil, herbs, garlic, a pinch of salt in a  bowl.
2. Tear or cut the bread into cubes and toss them in the olive oil mixture.
3. Toast the bread crumbs or pieces in the oven preheated to 180 degrees for about 5-10 mins until they turn slightly brown and crisp. Alternately, toast them on a frying pan on low to medium heat until they are slightly brown and crisp. Drain excess oil with a paper towel.
3. Toss the bread pieces or crumbs with the tomatoes, pepper, salt, sugar, remaining olive oil and a dash of lemon juice.
5. Garnish with coriander and spring onions and cheese if using.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Godi Huggi – Godi Payasa – Spelt Grain Pudding

Spelt pudding 5

Spelt Pudding

We celebrate 3 new years. No kidding! A lot of my friends are surprised at this. Ugadi – the new year as per the Hindu calendar for Kannadigas, Puthandu(Varusha Pirappu) – the new year as per Hindu calendar for Tamilians and the usual new year on 1st on Jan. Thats Indian diversity for you!

The new year is an important Hindu festivals marking the start of the hindu calendar.
I was introduced to the tamilian way only after marriage. Fruits, vegetables, grains are offered decorated before the lord, the night before the new  year day. The traditional lamp is lit. Early morning, the children wake up to see the decorations signifying an auspicious start to  the  new year. My little boy enjoyed this little custom and the rest of the day was followed by dozens of questions that arose in his little mind!
Back at my home, Ugadi is celebrated with Bevu Bella preparation. Bevu in Kannada meaning bitter Neem leaves signifying sadness and Bella meaning sweet Jaggery signifying happiness. Such a lovely concept signifying that these elements in life are are sides of the same coin. An elaborate meal is cooked and is first offered to the Lord(Naivedya) during worship.

Spelt and Jaggery

Naivedya Spelt pudding 3

Spelt pudding 4


This new year, I made this Godi Payasa or Huggi which is made of whole spelt grains and jaggery. This dish is synonymous to me with Ugadi as it was for some reason prepared only on that day once a year. My Dodamma(maternal aunt) and ajji(Grandma) prepared it the traditional way on a chulha(cookstove with wood) in the backyard. Back in childhood, myself and my sister werent very keen on this dish. We`d rather be feasting on cakes and candies..Its only now years later…thousands of miles away from home, that I have grown fond of it. Absence does make the heart grow fonder!

Godi Huggi – Godi Payasa – Spelt Pudding

Yield – about 6-8 servings

Things you need -

Spelt – 1 cup, about 150 gms
powdered Jaggery or brown sugar – 2 cups
1 tsp cardamom powder
4-5 cups water
1 cup milk
2 tbsp ghee  or clarified butter + a little more for garnish
For garnish - handful dry fruits like cashew nuts, almonds, raisins and saffron , optional

How I made it -

1. Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a pan. Add the nuts and raisins and stir until the nuts are golden brown and the raisins are slightly puffed up. Switch off heat and keep aside.
2. Boil the spelt with 4-5 cups of water in a heavy bottomed vessel or pan on medium heat until the spelt garins start to become tender i.e the grains when pressed with a spatula should slightly lose shape. This takes around 20-30 minutes. Feel free to add more water if required.
3. Add the jaggery or brown sugar, cardamom powder and milk and continue to cook for another 15-20 mins stirring occasionally until the jaggery or sugar, milk, spelt has formed a smooth mixture. Note that the spelt grains should be tender enough but not completely mushy.
4. Garnish with the nuts and raisins and serve hot with a tsp of ghee or chilled.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Black and White Wednesday #79

BW 17 Apr 2013 2

Its rare to find peanuts with shells here. So when I saw these beauties the other day at the supermarket, I instantly bought them. This picture was taken while making peanut laddoos. Sending this entry to BW Wednesday no 79 hosted by Shruthi of Food and Clicks. This event was originally started by Susan and is now taken over by Cindy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Peanut Laddoos/Balls – a two ingredient power packed snack

Peanut Laddoos3

Do you worry about what you or your kids snack on? When you reach out to the fridge or the cupboard wondering what could provide you that much needed energy boost after a hard day at work, finally giving in to the temptation and picking up that candy bar or tearing open that bag of chips. Minutes later of having chomped down that candy bar, feeling guilty about your snack choice? That has surely happened to me. Sure, a banana would have been a much healthier choice, but at times I am too hungry to settle for a banana and need something more `solid` than that, if you know what I mean.
These peanut laddoos might just be the answer to that. All you need are peanuts and some jaggery.
…..Now I am wondering if this post has started to sound like a commercial on peanut laddoos! I hope not.
Anywho..back in childhood my mother made these on Sankashti (the auspiscious day in the Hindu calendar of offering prayers to Lord Ganesha)..Now I no longer follow Sankashti, but use these laddoos to satisfy our snack cravings at times.

Peanut Laddoos2

Peanut Laddoos4

Peanut Laddoos

Sharing this with MLLA 58 being hosted by Claire of Chez Cayenne. MLLA was originally started by Susan of The| Well Seasoned Cook. Lisa has now taken over the responsibility from Susan.

Peanut Laddoos 

Yield – about 12 depending on the size of the laddoos

Things you need -

1 cup plain peanuts, unsalted
half cup powdered jaggery

Method -

1. Roast the peanuts of low-medium flame until brown spots start to appear on them. You can leave the skin as it is. No need to peel it off. This does not affect the taste at all.
2. Grind the peanuts along with the jaggery in a blender or mixer until a fine powder is formed.
3. Now use your hands(of course clean hands) to form small balls/laddoos of truffle like size. To do this, take some of the mixture and clump it using your inner palm, applying pressure. Sorry I don't have any pictures of how this is done. If you are new to making laddoos, the last 3 steps in this pictorial do a good job.
4. Do not resist the urge to snack on them immediately! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Easy Raw Mango Chutney

 Mango chutney 1

This time of the year and for another few months, its all about mangoes in India. There were days in my childhood when there was a mango plantation close to my home. Come Februaury, the sight of the gorgeous little green mangoes was a very common one. The farmer reliously brought his harvest at our doorstep where my mother handpicked the best ones.
A homemade pickle with raw mangoes is a must in every household! Then there were mango chutneys of all kinds .. sweet ones, spicy ones, with coconut, without coconut. Pachadi(salad), aam panha(cooler made with raw mango). And yes…this is just the RAW mango! Lets not discuss the ripe mangoes…we could have a blog just for that.

Mango chutney 3

This mango chutney was a regular in my home and is hands down the best mango chutney I have ever had. One of my all time favorites. No doubt about that. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I have had it with almost everything I possibly could.
I love the combination of sour, sweet and spicy flavors. And if you are anything like me..Im sure you will love it too.
These days, I no longer have the luxury of mangoes being delivered at my doorstep right from the farm. So instead I made a trip to the local indian store and was lucky enough to procure some before they were all sold out.

Mango chutney 8
Mango chutney 5

 Mango chutney 6

Raw Mango Chutney

Yield – Approx 250 gms

Things you need -

4-5 small, firm, green, raw mangoes or use 2 large ones
5 tbsp jaggery or brown sugar
3 tsp chilli powder
1-2 dried red chillies, optional
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
half tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
half tsp hing/asafoetida
2-3 tsp salt, as per taste
handful curry leaves
3 tbsp oil

How I made it -

1. Peel the mangoes discarding the skin and chop them into cubes.
2. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Once the oil begins to fume, reduce heat and add the mustard seeds, cumin and fenugreek seeds. When they start to splutter, add the dried chillies if using and curry leaves and asafoetida.
3. Add the chopped mango and cook on low-medium heat stirring occasionally until the mangoes start to turn mushy. This might take 10-15 minutes.
4. Now add the jaggery or sugar, salt  and mix well. Adjust the spice, salt and sweetness as per your liking. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so until the mangoes turn complete mushy. The color would have changed to deep orange-brown.
6. Switch off heat. Allow to cool completely and store in an air tight jar for upto 3 months.
7. Serve with rotis, parathas, bread, rice, of any flatbread. It tastes great on its own too!

Notes -


Do not add water at any point during cooking. If your chuney starts to burn then its probably because of lack of oil. Just add a tbsp or so more and things should be fine.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Black and White Wednesdays # 78

Mushrooms for BW Wednesday Apr 9 2013
I am excited as this is my first entry for Black and White Wednesdays. I am sending this over to Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen who is the host for this week. This weekly event was originally started by Susan and Cinzia has now taken over the responsibility over.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sweet Potato Chaat bites – an Indian street food inspired snack

Sweet Potato chaat 3 

Chaat is to India, what pizza is to Italy. It is what burger is to America, what fondue is to Switzerland, what crepes are to France. Ok…I might have exaggerated that. But still, chaat is very important to Indians! Although the origin of chaat is from the north of India, I have hardly visited any city/state in India where people aren't crazy about chaat. It is a common sight to see people line up at the street vendors or chaatwallahs to savour the ever wide variety of bhel, pani puri, papri…etc.

Sweet Potato chaat 5
Sweet Potato chaat 4

For me, moving away from India also brought up the `necessity` to learn some basic chaat recipes. Ever since lil miss P has started with solids, sweet potatoes are always a part of my kitchen now(they are one of her favourites). And I am looking for ideas to use them up. So here is a healthy and easy chaat recipe using sweet potatoes as a base instead of the usual puri.

Sweet Potato chaat Sweet Potato chaat 1

Sweet Potato Chaat Bites

Yield – Makes about 20 pieces depending in the size of the sweet potatoes

Things you need -

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm discs *
1 lt water
1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight, boiled and water drained. Or use canned ones like I did.
1 small red onion finely chopped
half cup sev, a savoury vermecelli snack available in indian stores
1 cup tamarind chutney, available in indian stores or make your own as per recipe below
1-2 tbsp chaat masala
a few coriander leaves
1 tbsp paprika powder for garnish, optional
a few lime wedges for garnish, optional

How I made it -

1. Preheat oven to 200 deg. Celsius.
2. Pour boiling water over the sweet potato discs. Cover and keep aside for 10-15 mins. Then drain the water completely and dry the sweet potato discs with a kitchen towel.
3. Now carefully toss the sweet potatoes with 2 tbsp oil and a pinch of salt in a wide bowl, such that the discs are coated with oil and salt.
4. Spread out the discs evenly on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake at 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the sweet potato discs just start to turn brown.
5. Take them out of the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack or a plate.
6. Meanwhile prepare the topping for the chaat. Mix the chopped red onions and sev together in a bowl. Slightly mash the boiled chickpeas in a separate bowl.
7. Spoon about a teaspoon of the chickpeas on top of the baked sweet potato disc. Then op with some tamarind chutney, then spoon some of the onion-sev mixture. Finally garnish with chaat masala and coriander. Repeat for all the sweet potato discs. Garnish with a pinch of paprika, a drizzle of lime juice for an extra zing and serve.

Notes -

* You could also use potatoes instead of sweet potatoes. Make sure you dont slice the potatoes too thin, else they will shrink during baking.
- Instead of baking, roasting the discs on a non stick pan until they turn golden would also work.

Sweet Potato chaat 2

To prepare tamarind chutney

Recipe Adapted from Sinfully Spicy

Yield – About 200gms

Things you need -

half cup tamarind, soaked in a cup of water for an hour
half cup jaggery or sugar
2 tbsp raisins, soaked in water. *
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp red chilli powder
a pinch of asafoetida/hing
1 tsp salt
2-3 cloves, mildly roasted and powdered
half tsp oil

How I made it -

1. Extract the tamarind pulp discarding any seeds or straw. Reserve half cup of the water for later.
2. Puree the soked raisins in a blender with as little water as possible.
3. Heat oil in a pan. Add the asafoetida.
3. Now mix the tamarind pulp, jaggery/sugar, chilli powder, cumin powder, asafotida, clove powder, salt and add to the pan. Cook on medium-low heat with the remaining water from step 1.
4. Once it starts to boil, add the raisin puree. Adjust the salt and sweetness as desired. Add some more jaggery or sugar if you like it more sweet. Simmer for about 5 mins until the mixture turns slightly to a runny jam like consistency. Keep in mind that it will thicken slightly more on cooling.
5. Take off from heat and allow it to cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for about a month.

Notes -

* Alternatively use dates instead of raisins. Soak about half cup of seedless dates in water and follow the same procedure as given above.