Thursday, November 2, 2017

Battenberg Cake - No Eggs In the Cake

 I seem to have fallen into a pattern of neglecting this space and giving excuses for that. However, my husband and daughter do not agree and push me hard enough to post here once in a few months or so. They try hard to coax me to make an attempt to keep this going.
 My daughter, especially, goes that extra step to persuade me by sharing her cooking and baking. This is one such post that was 100% hers. She baked this cake a few days ago for their weekend snack and shared her photographs. They were so eye catching that I asked her to make a blog to be put up here.
 She said that when they moved to the new city and she was still getting her home in some order, she wanted to do something enough to break the boredom. While she was looking through recipes to bake, the Battenberg cake caught her fancy. Since they both like chocolate and the flavour of coffee, she alternated for the traditional bright colour layer with the brown checkers.
 Known by many names, like church or chapel window cake, chequerboard cake and domino cake, the Battenberg cake is said to have been named in honour of the marriage of Princess Victoria, grand daughter of Queen Victoria to prince Louis of Battenberg in 1884. However, there are some early examples of this that go by a variety of names. The Neapolitan roll, a similar cake contains more squares than four.
 The American version of the battenberg cake is the checkerboard cake that gets the name because while sliced it resembles the board of the game. a typical one alternates vanilla sponge and a chocolate cake and is covered with rich chocolate buttercream icing.
 My daughter made the cake as well as the marzipan without eggs. For the cake, she followed this recipe posted here sometime ago. she used the recipe for one cake but divided it in two half cakes to make the layers. She had used parchment to separate the cake batters and baked them in one cake tin. She said she was not able to take pictures of the process.
I found Traditional Battenberg in Mandi Mortimer's Blog very descriptive, with pictures of how to bake, layer and roll in the marzipan, the post is very helpful.

Battenberg Cake - No Eggs Recipe


The following is my daughter's mail that I have copied verbatim

This recipe is a twist on the traditional Battenberg cake, which is usually made with an almond white cake, and the pairing sponge is a pink one made with a couple of drops of red food color in the white cake batter. I didn't want to be using artificial food coloring, hence the dark chocolate cake. 
You can use any cake recipe you'd like - as long as you can get the size of the cakes right.

Ingredients: 
For the cakes:
All purpose flour - 200 grams.
Cocoa powder - 2 tablespoons. heaped
Sweetened condensed milk - 1 tin (13.6 oz)
Butter - 100 grams
Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
Baking soda - 1 teaspoon
Aerated soda - 150 ml (reserve an extra splash to slacken the chocolate batter if needed)
Almond extract - 1/2 teaspoon

For the marzipan:
Almond flour/meal - 2 cups
Granulated sugar - 1 cup
Icing sugar - 1 cup 
Splash of milk (approx. 1/8 cup) to bind

To assemble:
A jam of your preferred flavor 

Method: 
- To start, make the marzipan. Sift into a big bowl, the almond flour and icing sugar, to get rid of lumps. 
- Add the granulated sugar and mix well 
- Add the milk and knead till the dough comes together
(The marzipan may be quite sticky - if so, add a little more almond flour as you knead) 
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to use

Making the cakes: 
- Preheat the oven to 350F and grease an 8in square tin. Fold a long piece of parchment paper in half along its width, and form a pleat the same height as your tin, to partition your square tin into two equal rectangles. You will be able to bake both cakes side by side.
- In a big mixing bowl, beat together the condensed milk and the butter. 
- Add the almond extract 
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and the baking soda 
- Add the flour mixture and soda alternatively to the beaten butter and condensed milk, beating well after each addition 
- Separate the mixture into two equal parts - use a weighing scale to do this accurately, so that your cakes are even when baked 
- Fill one half of your prepared tin with the white cake mix 
- To the remaining half, fold in the cocoa powder. If your mixture feels a bit stiff, add a little splash of the remaining soda to slacken (you could also add a tbsp. or two of espresso instead, if you'd like - dissolve instant coffee in hot water and add it once it is cool)
- Fill the second half of your tin with the chocolate mixture 
- Bake the cakes for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean 
- Cool the cake slightly in the tin, and transfer on to a wire rack to cool completely 

To assemble the Battenberg:

- Trim the cakes, and stack them one on top of the other. 
- Using a serrated knife, slice the cakes along their lengths into batons. Depending on the size of your tin, each cake can be sliced into 2 or 3 pieces 
- Line up the batons, alternating the colors to form a checkerboard, and stick them together with a slathering of the jam 
- To roll out the marzipan, sprinkle your work surface generously with icing sugar, and roll into an approximate rectangle. It needs to be wide enough to cover the length of the cake, and long enough to wrap completely around. 
- To ensure the outside of the marzipan is clean and free of icing sugar, once rolled, I flipped it over so the sugar dusted side is on the inside of the cake 
- Place the cake in the center, and slather on more jam, to help the marzipan to stick 
- Bring the marzipan up from both ends, to meet at the top of the cake, and join the ends. 
- Trim off any overhangs, and flip the cake so that the seam is at the bottom. 
- And you have a beautiful checkered cake with a mildly sweet marzipan icing.
- The cake is best stored in the fridge, and will keep well for about a week in an airtight container.

Enjoy the cake with your favourite cup of tea.



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ready To Make - Moar Kuzhambu - Powdered Mix

Sometimes when I travel and my husband has to manage his meals, I try to make it easier for him to fix something, lest he skips his meal. I had tried part cooking and freezing foods which seemed quite handy. Then he found that if I post instructions, that might help him cook a few dishes. Thus, my counter top and refrigerator door would be filled with notes. He had managed very well that he would even grind his batter, make dhal and sambhar.
While I wrote some recipes for my daughter, she still had to juggle time with the demanding coursework and assignments; it was getting harder to cook something elaborate. Soon both of my nephews were also going away from home and were left to manage cooking for themselves.
It was then, my mother tried to coax us to make some ready to cook meals ideas. We had found that making the packaged dosa, upma mixes were easy to make at home. It took us some trials and misses to make them have longer shelf life. Thus, our puliogere ready mix and adai mix took shape. Little more experimenting lead to moar kuzhambu mix and  an 'all - in - one - sambhar mix'. This moar kuzhambu mix is a very quick dish that you cook the vegetable and mix this powder to the whisked curd. Give it a boil and add some tempering. So easy!

Ready To Make - Moar Kuzhambu - Powdered Mix

Ingredients:
Makes 5 standard cups of powder
200 ml / heaped 3/4 cup+1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut
125 ml / heaped 1/2 cup raw rice
250 ml / heaped 1 cup / 250grams pack channa dhal / Bengal gram / split chickpeas
250 ml / heaped 1 cup / 250 grams pack thuvar dhal / split pigeon peas
70 ml / heaped 1/4 cup cumin seeds
30 ml/ 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
16 -20 dried green chillis* (1&1/2 inches long and slightly high on heat)
60 ml / level measured 1/4 cup salt
5 ml / 1 teaspoon asafoetida
About 1/3 cup dried curry leaves**

Method:
*To get dry green chillis, wash them, remove the stem and pat them dry. Spread them on a very flat dish / paper / cloth and leave them to dry for a few days. Once they are dry, they become brittle, but the green colour is just about faded. They stay well for over a month and will retain the spice level.

** The curry leaves can be dried after separating them, washed and spread between layers of cloth in the sun. Or you may choose to oven roast dry leaves until they are brittle.

To make the powder, dry roast over a low the coconut until the moisture is gone and the coconut is dry. Do not roast it to turn shade over the white. transfer to a dish and allow to cool.
Then dry roast separately over low - medium heat  the dhals, rice, coriander seeds and cumin seeds until they are just about hot. Take care that they do not over roast. (When grinding for moar kuzhambu normally the ingredients are soaked and ground raw, so we do not over do the roasting here).
Transfer them to another dish.
Finally roast the sea salt until it turns pink and transfer to this dish.
Allow them all to cool.
Pulse all the said ingredients leaving out the coconut until they are a coarse powder, add the coconut and grind further to a powder that is not very fine.


Cool this and store in airtight containers. You may refrigerate this powder if the quantity is more. Usually, the mix stays well for two moths outside of refrigeration.

To make Moar Kuzhambu:
2 tablespoons of above powder
3 - 4 tablespoons thick, slightly sour curd
Vegetable of choice
2 teaspoons ghee /coconut oil for tempering
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
Few fresh curry leaves and fresh coriander leaves

Cook the vegetable and keep ready.
Mix the powder to the curd and whisk to blend them. Add another 1/3 cup of water.
Add the cooked vegetable and bring the moar kuzhambu to a boil.
Remove from the stove.

Heat the ghee / coconut oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to crackle and add the tempering to the moar kuzhambu.

Let the kuzhambu cool down a bit before adding the curry leaves and the coriander leaves.
Enjoy the kuzhambu with steamed white rice or as a side dish for ven pongal.


 



 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pachchai Milagai Elumichchai Chutney

When we intended to have a garden in our home in Coimbatore, we arranged with a landscape outfit to help us. Once we had put some plants and a small vegetable patch, we were enjoying some home grown beans, greens and few other vegetables. Soon we moved to a project in Qatar and hence hired a gardener to take care of the garden. Just before leaving home, while emptying stuff I dropped some chilli seeds from the pack of dry red chillis I had, in a small patch. Those have grown and were yielding when I visited last month. I plucked out about half of a kilo of green chillis.


After sharing some, I wanted to bring them and use here.
I shared some pictures on Instagram and took suggestions from friends on many ways to use them. Pickles seem to be a favourite. I made the milagai gojju and some pachchai milagai chutney.
While I spoke to my mother, she gave me this simple recipe for a chutney that did not need a curing period more than a couple of days. She suggested that if I had some limes in brine, they can be used for immediate use. Otherwise, it takes about three days when the lime pieces absorb the flavours and the chutney can be used.
This is a very simple recipe that can be combined in few minutes.

Pachchai Milagai Elumichchai Chutney
Makes about 150 ml


Ingredients:
30-35 fresh green chillis
6 small size limes
1/3 tablespoon salt (to be adjusted according to heat of the chillis)
1 teaspoon sugar

Method:
Wash the chillis and dry them on a towel. Remove their stalks.
Cut the limes and partly squeeze their juice into a bowl. Add the sugar and keep aside.
Cut the limes in small bits and mix the salt.
Blend the chillis in a blender to a smooth paste using the lime juice.
Transfer to the bowl and add the lime pieces to this.
Mix well and store in a clean glass or ceramic jar.
Keep the chutney at room temperature for a few days, giving it a stir twice or thrice a day.
In a couple of days, the lime bits will soften and lose any bitter taste.
The chutney is ready to serve.


This stays well at room temperature for about a week, in refrigeration for a month.
This can be served as pickle with rice or as chutneys with idli, dosai and such.

Notes:
If you have available some lime/lemon that has been cured in salt, you may substitute them for the lime bits. Thus, the chutney can be enjoyed immediately.
The heat and humidity in my country is high this summer that the chutney was fermenting by the fourth day even as the limes were still crunchy. I had to refrigerate the chutney then.



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Besan Laddoo

The first time I had tasted besan laddoo was when, for my daughter's school International Fest, we had to represent India by displaying our culture, history and food. We prepared a few dishes that other parents, teachers and the students can sample. One of our friends had then made besan laddoo.
At home, we only made the boondhi laddoo which also has the same ingredients but prepared differently in an elaborate process. That has to be another post in future.
The other day, my friend mentioned that she made besan laddoo as her daughter wanted to learn to make it. Then I requested that she makes for me and I shall put a post on the dish.
July, in my home, is a month dotted with frequent occasions to celebrate, through the month. It happened to be my daughter's birthday on the weekend and my friend suggested that we can celebrate with the sweet. We drove down to their home and after a leisurely meal, she set out to prepare them while I only watched. It seemed easy enough to prepare, the hardest part being roasting the chickpea flour/ besan in ghee until it is aromatic and shining without allowing it to burn. That takes quite a while and after that it the mix has to cool sufficiently in order that the sugar will not melt while added to it. She made it seem easy as she rolled out about 25 laddoos in minutes.They are mildly sweet and fragrant from the ghee and the roasted flour, a good sweet dish to prepare anytime.

Besan Laddoo
Recipe: Lalitha Burde


Ingredients:
Makes 25 ping-pong ball sized laddoos.


4 cups besan/ gram flour / chick peas flour
2 cups sugar (we have used very fine granulated sugar as is. You may powder the sugar, if desired)
                     ( Usually Boora sugar /Tagar is favourable)
1 cup melted ghee
2 - 3 tablespoons mixed, slivered nuts ( We used almonds and pistachios)
2 teaspoons cardamom powder
Few strands of saffron, slightly roasted and crushed

Method:
Sift the flour and removes the grainy lumps.
Reserve a little amount of ghee and heat the rest in a heavy bottom wide pan.
Add the sifted flour and on low heat roast it in the ghee. Initially the flour mix may seem to be dry.
Keep roasting the flour and carefully break any lump that forms. The flour has to lose the raw taste and get very aromatic.
Halfway through the roasting add mixed nuts, cardamom and the saffron. Mix well and continue to cook. If you find the mix dry, add the reserved ghee.
As it cooks, the flour will blend with the ghee and become a mass that will have a shiny coat of ghee.
Remove from the heat and allow the flour mix to cool down.It has to be warm to touch but not hot that you cannot hold.
Add the sugar or powdered sugar and mix thoroughly.
Pinch out small portions of the dough like mix and roll them in a smooth ball.
Arrange the rolled out laddoos on a dish slightly apart from each other.



Cool and store them.
The laddoo may feel sticky on the day of preparation and be very soft. The ghee gets absorbed and the laddoos also firm up by the next day.
They taste good whether served warm or stored.









Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sundaikkai Gothsu - Turkey Berries and Onions Stew

It had been many years ago that I may have last tasted some of the vegetables that we had often been given in our childhood and until little older too. Most times greens, spinach and few other vegetables were grown in the home garden. Some yielded abundantly and my grandmother would share with the neighbours. They encouraged us to help around; we have helped making trellis for the beans and spinach, water the plants and such.The home patch yielded few varieties of vegetables that were locally easy to grow and many flowers. It now seems like ages ago and I had lost touch with such pleasures. Once we had a huge turkey berry plant and I remember that my mother cooked the berries in a stir fry kind of dish with lot of coconut and condiments.
When we set our house in Coimbatore, we laboured a bit and have a garden to show. The area has fertile soil and hence the garden thrives. few of the neighbours have fruit trees and flowering plants all in their glory. One of them has the turkey berry planted nearer to their front wall and thus as we pass by we get to see bunches of them in the plant. They have generously shared those with any of us who would cook them.
During the few months, I slowly settled in, the neighbours have pampered me to the point of being spoilt. Sometimes, most unexpectedly, someone would send me piping hot food just so I can cook only rice and such. That was when one of them sent me this tangy and spicy stew. It was lip smacking, finger licking delicious.
You might well imagine my delight when the other evening I spotted in the shop assistant's trolley these small packs of these berries labelled green eggplant. I read up later that these are the same family.


I picked up one pack and soon as I reached home, I shot a message to the lady to share her recipe. She promptly messaged the next morning and I waited for today to cook them.
I was chatting with my mother and gave her the small details in the recipe. she then informed me that her grandmother would cook the berries in similar dish adding her touch. That has to be another day and post to share that.

Sunadaikkai Gothsu
Recipe: Mrs. Padma Balu, my neighbour 


Ingredients:
Serves 4

1 cup / 250 ml Turkey berries/ Sundaikkai
1 cup finely chopped onions
6 tablespoons thick tamarind extract
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6-8 dry red chillis
4 tablespoons fresh coconut scrapes
1&1/2 teaspoon powdered jaggery
1&1/2 teaspoon white sesame seeds
3 tablespoons gingelley oil or any cooking oil (divided)
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
Few fresh curry leaves
Coriander leaves ( I did not have any, so had not added)

Method:
Wash the turkey berries, place them in a plastic bag and give a few vigorous taps with a rolling pin. Alternately, place them in a stone mortar and crush the berries. they will break open and few seeds will be strewn. transfer the berries to a colander and clean wash the seeds away under running water.
In a heavy pan, dry roast the sesame seeds until golden brown and they start to pop. Cool and make a fine powder. Keep aside.
In the same pan dry roast the red chillis, cumin and coriander seeds until well roasted.
Add this to the coconut and grind to a slightly coarse paste. Keep aside.


Keep reserve about 2 teaspoons of the oil for the tempering. Add the rest of the oil to the cooking pan and heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and the berries. Cook them until the onions are transparent and the berries change to a pale green colour. Add the salt and turmeric powder and cook a bit longer.

Add the tamarind extract and cook on low flame until the raw taste of the tamarind subsides.
Add the jaggery and let it cook fora further 3 minutes.
Dilute the ground paste with some water and add to the stew.
Mix well, adjust the water and cook until a thick gravy is obtained.
Transfer to a serving dish.
To temper heat the reserved 2 teaspoons oil, add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Toss the curry leaves and add the tempering to the gothsu.

 
Sprinkle the roasted sesame powder on top. This enhances the flavour.
Garnish with curry leaves and coriander leaves if you have  them.
serve the hot gothsu with steamed rice. It makes a good side for adai and venpongal also.






















Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Red Currant Thokku

There is so much joy to see your garden bloom and yield. During my recent visit to my home in Coimbatore there was a large bunch of bananas which my gardener said would ripen during the month. Few days later, I was already back in Doha while he informed me that he had removed the bunch and distributed the fruits to my neighbours in the community. There were also green chillis that  I have plucked and shared with my mother and my sister.
My daughter also has a good area of patch in here home and grows a variety of flowering plants and seasonal vegetables and fruits. She grows herbs, beans, peas, beets and more some of which are feast for the squirrels that lodge in their fence. She had to recently, remove a small branch from her red currant plant which was bowing down owing to the weight of its produce. These were unripe and green. Usually she gives away the ripened fruits not being aware of how to use them. These, she wondered were not going to fetch the same appreciation.



She shared photos with me and while chatting we wondered if they are good for pickling. When my mother saw her pictures, she said they can be substituted for lime in lemon rice, the squeezed juice can be substituted for tamarind extract and some more ideas. We tried few of such and gauged the tartness of the unripe fruits. Then finally, the idea of making a thokku came in.
I detailed her how we go about the gooseberry thokku and she went by her instinct for measurements. I woke up to her pictures and mail this morning and thus this post.

Red Currant Thokku
Following measures make about 150 milil litres Thokku



Ingredients:
Unrepentant red currants 3 US standard cups
Gingelley oil 1/4 cup
Salt 1 tablespoon
Turmeric powder 1/4 teaspoon
Red chilli powder 1 tablespoon
Mustard seeds 1 tablespoon
Asafoetida powder a generous 2 pinches - about 1/8 teaspoon

Method:
Rinse the berries, and drop them in a pan of hot water for a few minutes.
Drain and spread them on a dry cloth to dry.
Heat oil in a heavy pan and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to crackle and add the turmeric powder, asafoetida powder and the red currants. Cook the red currants until soft and mushy. You may press them down to mash.
Add the salt and red chilli powder.
Cook the pickle on medium heat until it reduces to a thick pulp and most moisture has been evaporated. The oil will separate and the pickle would leave the sides off the pan.
Remove from the heat and allow the pickle to cool before storing.
This thokku can stay good for a few weeks only.
This tastes good with the sour, salt and heat blended well with the oil and makes a great side dish for curd rice.



Monday, May 1, 2017

Maa Inji Oorugai - Pickled Mango Ginger

One can put it very generally that Indians love pickles, no matter which part of India one is from and this may be true also. With seasonal produces and a combination of spice blends pickles seem to form an essential part of a meal. They can be had with any dish if one chooses so.While I do not recall my mother going on a pickle curing ritual, I know my aunt does, each year after one. As I type this, I am wondering if she has already done with her vadu mangai, avakkai oorugai for this summer. If mangoes are for summer winter brings a whole variety of other produce. Though nowadays pickles can be picked up from any store, home made pickles have their charm.
I have a vague memory of walking down the streets in the evening with my uncle in Trichy to pick up tender Makali Kizhangu, which it is famous for. There would be vendors who spread their ware over neatly placed gunny bags in mounds. the light from a petromax lamp will light these mounds in a warm glow. In the later years while the scene has only slightly changed, I have been enchanted with the trade in Mylapore market in Chennai.
My mother always made the elumichchangai oorugai, Indian lime pickle at home. When on rare occasions we did get good quality gooseberries they were also done. Otherwise we had those 'ready to use immediately' manga oorugai mostly. Very rarely did we get the manga inji in our town and whenever we did, my mother treated it as a rare find. She would scrape the peel with the blunt edge of a small plate so carefully that the fleshy immediate part will not be wasted. She was disappointed once when I used a peeler and shaved off a bit of the ginger along with the peel.
Between my husband and myself, we are not keen on pickle. If we can put it on a scale I would fare under 4 and his would go in the negative. I keep stock of one tiny bottle purely not to disappoint someone who would like to have with their meal. However, I may have been dreaming pickle when I spotted fresh manga inji in the store the other day. I picked up some and the fresh peppercorns. Now they have been pickled, though in quantity they will last a week. Thus, they are not made with utmost care to last over many days. This is almost for instant use.
Mango ginger, is a part of the ginger family and related to turmeric.The rhizomes are similar to ginger and these have a milder mango like taste. they have some medicinal properties as is common with herbs. These can be made in a variety of pickles. The pickle i have put here today can stay good for a week at its maximum and needs refrigeration.

Maa Inji Oorugai - Pickled Mango Ginger


Ingredients:
Makes 2 cups

A dozen mango ginger rhizomes of 2" length each
1 &1/2 teaspoon crystal sea salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon lime juice/ juice from one large lime
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
1 &1/2 tablespoons gingelly oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:
Wash the mango ginger clean. Remove the peel. If the ginger is tender, I have been able to just slide my hand over giving some pressure and it peels off.
Cut thin slices and place them in a glass or ceramic bowl.
Add the turmeric powder and salt.
Squeeze the juice out of the lime and add to the bowl.
Heat the gingelly oil in a pan, add the mustard and allow them to crackle. Switch off the heat and mix the asafoetida.
Transfer this tempering to the pickle.

With the tender ginger the pickle is ready to consume immediately.
Allow a few minutes for the flavours to blend and serve.
Refrigerate after use.
Stays well for a week.
I add it to my salads and thus it gets consumed quickly.