Bread Rolls

Bread rolls

IMG_1939Bread is so easily available everywhere – so many bakeries even inside grocery shops that have freshly baked bread and so one may think why go to this trouble of baking breads since it seems so incredibly complicated anyways? I agree that some of the bread recipes do seem complicated plus they require a lot of advance planning etc.  But then there are some pluses to baking your own bread too (even if it is only occasionally!) Well for one, nothing like getting your fresh bread for dinner right out of your own oven!.  Few culinary experiences would match the  experience of holding and tasting freshly baked bread right out of the oven!  And believe me , its not that complicated either! Its just getting the consistency of the dough right and for that you have to sometimes end up adding a little more flour than the recipe may actually state.   Here I am sharing a bread rolls recipe that is pretty easy to follow and best thing is it does not need a lot of preparation time in advance. You also do not need complicated gadgets for this recipe. I just used my hand mixer.

This recipe makes about 15 bread rolls
Ingredients:
Warm water-3/4 cup
Dried Yeast 1 sachet (about 7 grams)
Sugar 2 tbsp
Melted butter- 5 tbsp
Egg-1
Milk- ¾ cup
All purpose flour  3  cups
Whole wheat flour  between 3/4 and 1 cup
Salt- 1 tsp
olive oil about 1 tsp
Milk 2 tbsp(for brushing)
Sesame seeds 1 tbsp

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 375 deg F.
Take the warm water in a medium size bowl (one in which you will mix the dough) and add sugar and the yeast. Cover and keep for about 10-15 minutes till the yeast rises. Add the melted butter and the milk  to the bowl with the yeast. Whisk the egg in  a small bowl and add this to the mixture in the bowl as well. Mix well. (You can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to do the mixing)
Now slowly add all the flour the salt to this and with a spatula or hands, mix everything to get a loose and sticky dough. Now slowly add  the whole wheat flour little bit at a time and start kneading the dough with your hands till the dough is no longer sticky.  You can add little bit of oil (about 1 tsp) at this point to make the dough workable. This will take around 10-12 mins. Now cover the dough with a wet cloth and cover the bowl also with a lid and leave this in a warm place for about 1 hour. The dough should be double in volume by then.

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Now  take the dough out onto the counter or a wooden cutting board and cut it into small pieces (about 12-15) using a knife. Make balls out of each of the portions and place them on a baking tray lined with Al foil. Keep them covered for about half an hour till they rise a little bit.

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After 30 minutes, Uncover the balls and brush them with milk and sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake them in the pre-heated oven at 375 deg F for about 15-20 mins till they turn golden brown on the outside.

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Notes:

The most important part is to get the consistency right. I find it just better to use my hands for the final kneading because then you can really feel the stickiness and so easier to decide how much more flour is needed.

These bread rolls will stay nicely for up to 2-3 days but better to store them in the refrigerator and warm them before serving.

Banana Nut Bread

Banana Nut Bread

Banana Nut Bread

At the end of the week, I often end up with at least a couple overripe bananas and I usually make one of two things with them – ‘Unni appams’, which are steamed banana muffins or ‘banana nut bread’, which is a cake with bananas and walnuts.  Sometimes I also add other dried fruits to it like dried cherries or dried cranberries in addition to walnuts.  I have also tried replacing part of the flour with whole wheat flour and it still tastes pretty good.  Since I make this so often and my kids usually have this as a snack after-school , I have also reduced the quantity of sugar in this recipe from the original recipe that  I found in a magazine long ago.

You can also watch my video of this recipe – see link at the bottom

So for making this bread, you will need a 9 inch loaf pan or a 8 inch square baking tin.

Ingredients:
All purpose flour 1  1/2 cups
2 ripe medium size bananas
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp lime/lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped finely
1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries  chopped finely(optional)

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 350 deg C.  Grease the pan with butter and also dust with some flour and keep aside.

Take a bowl or a plate and mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda well.

In a medium size mixing bowl, take the butter (that has already been softened) and add the sugar.  With a hand mixer (or any other mixer) mix the butter and sugar well. Slowly add one egg at a time and again keep mixing.  Then add the bananas and again mix till its nicely mashed and blended. Then add the milk and the lime juice. Now slowly add the flour mix 1/2 a cup at a time and keep mixing.  Add the vanilla essence and mix again.

Lastly, add the chopped walnuts and the chopped cranberries or cherries(if adding) and mix by hand slowly. Now pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake in the oven at 350 deg C for about 35-40 minutes. Keep checking after 25 minutes (since oven times vary depending on the type of pan used etc.) When a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, then you know its done. at this point, even the sides and top of the cake should look nice dark brown.

After taking the cake out of the oven, let cool for about 5 minutes and then just scrape the sides of the pan with a knife and turn the pan upside down onto a plate to get it out.  Slice it while warm and eat with a nice warm cup of tea or coffee.

Notes:

Make sure the walnuts are chopped fine but not too powdery. they should be a small size such that you are able to get nice slices of the cake.

Puffy Steamed Rice and Lentil bread (Idlis )

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Idli (Rice and Lentil bread)

Idli is another breakfast item from the South indian kitchen, which is a close cousin and a healthier version(since they are steamed) of the Dosas.  The batter for the two are very similar with slight differences. In fact one can make idles or dosas interchangeably with the same batter too making slight modifications. You need to have an ‘idli mould’ to make idlis.  The idli moulds are then placed in a big stockpot filled with water (or the idli stand) to steam the idlis.

Idlis are really soft, spongy and are usually eaten dunked in a spicy and tangy lentil and vegetable curry (sambhaar) or by dipping them into a fresh coconut chutney.

My recipe for Idlis is as follows:

Ingredients:

1 cup urad dal (split black gram lentils), washed thoroughly and then soaked in water overnight

1 cup rice flour

1 cup idli rava (coarse rice flour), soaked in water overnight

1/2 cup cooked rice (preferably parboiled rice)

1 tsp salt

Method:

Grind the soaked urad dal, the idli rava and the cooked rice in a grinder (or blender) with some of the water that was used to soak the urad dal  and then pour this mixture into a big vessel (or a pot that has room for the dough to rise and expand to double its volume).  Then add the rice flour and mix with a wooden spoon slowly till all the rice flour is mixed well and there are no lumps. Slowly add some more water and mix until you get a thick consistency batter but which is pourable.

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Now cover this pot with a lid and place in a warm place overnight and leave it to ferment. In the US where room temperatures are mostly much lower than in India, I place the pot in a warm oven (I put the oven on the lowest setting and then after it reaches that, immediately turn it off and then place the pot inside).

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Once the dough has fermented and you get a loose batter, you add salt and then steam the idlis by pouring the batter onto idli moulds.   Steam for about 10-12 minutes on medium heat making sure the idli stand or the steaming pot has enough water.  Once cooked, get the moulds out of the stand/pot and let cool for about 10-15 minutes.  Then take a small paring knife and scrape the sides of each mould and get the idlis out gently.  Enjoy warm dunking into sambhaar or coconut chutney.

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Notes:

1. If you don’t have idli rava, you can just use 2 cups rice flour instead- you will still get good idlis.

2. The consistency of the batter is very important for it to ferment. So make sure that your batter is thick but still pourable consistency. If it is very thick, then your idli batter won’t ferment and rise well.  At the same time if your batter is too thin, then again the batter will not ferment and rise well so the consistency has to be somewhere in the middle.

3. If you live in a warm tropical place where room temperatures are high (above 80 deg F) then do not leave the batter to ferment for a long time – Not only can it overflow out of the vessel (yes it has happened to me once !) but it can also overferment  giving it a very bad odor and a very sour taste.

4.If you do not have an idli mould, you could steam the idli batter in a small shallow vessel, placing it inside a larger vessel which has boiling water(a steam bath) and then cut the steamed large piece of idli into squares. Idli moulds and stands are available in Indian grocers in the US.

Dosa (Sour dough Rice and Lentil Crepes)

Dosas are a South Indian specialty food that is craved by all Indians, irrespective of which place in india they belong to.   Traditionally, Dosas (and Idlis)are breakfast items from the South indian kitchen. However, they have slowly and steadily made their way and their mark as appetizers/snacks or even as main course meals.  Dosas taste great on their own (my kids love them with ketchup) but they taste even better when they are accompanied by a spicy and tangy lentil curry (Sambhar )or with a coconut chutney.   Masala Dosas are dosas that are stuffed with a potato filing and they are definitely ‘Main course’! The one slightly annoying thing about making dosas (for the cook!) is that it needs to be served right out of the pan onto the plate to retain its crispiness. It does not taste half as good when it is served cold.

Making Dosas in the US especially in winter times was challenging at first.  in my first year in the US, I would be so frustrated that my dosa (and idli )batter would not rise at all!  But then I figured out ways to make it work – Basically I place the batter inside a warm oven so it can still ferment.  Also I had to work with my basic blender which was not really heavy-duty to grind rice. Hence I started substituting rice with rice flour and it works beautifully and is a lot more convenient as well.

Idli is another breakfast bread that has essentially the same dough as dosas. There are only very slight differences between the two. One difference is that ‘Idli’ batter is thicker than the dosa batter.  For Idli batter, I also use some cooked rice and also a mixture of coarse rice flour and regular rice flour.  You can also use the same basic recipe for both Dosas and Idlis – so much easier since you can just make one large batch of batter and then use it to make both items.  Only thing to remember is to not add too much water while grinding otherwise you will not be able to make idlis with the same batter. So what I do is to keep it thick when I grind and then separate the batter into two portions, one for dosas and the other for making idlis.

So my dosa recipe is  as follows:

This recipe will make a batter enough for about 25-30 dosas

Ingredients:
1 cup urad dal (split black gram lentils ) washed first and then
soaked in water overnight or for about 6-8 hours
2 cups rice flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup rava or semolina (for making crispy dosa - optional)
Water- enough to make a thick batter

Method:

Grind the soaked urad dal  using the water used to soak them.   Use enough water just so you can get a nice pasty consistency.    Take a large wide vessel or a cooking pot(which has room for the batter to expand) and add the ground lentil paste to it. Then add the rice flour and slowly mix well using a wooden spoon by circular movements with your hands.  Once all the rice flour is mixed well with the urad dal (lentil ) batter, slowly add little water at a time and continue mixing until batter is still thick but pourable. ( if you take a spoonful of batter and try to pour it, it should fall slowly).

Now cover the vessel and keep in a warm place to ferment overnight or at least 8 hours. (If you are living in a country where the room temperature is not very warm, say less than 70 deg F, then heat your oven up to its lowest setting and then immediately turn it off.    Now open the oven and place the batter vessel in it  overnight or for 8 hours)

The dough is fermented when you see that it has risen to up to almost 1.5 – 2 times its original volume.

For making dosas, to this thick batter slowly add some water (about 1/4 th cup) and mix until you have a slightly thinner consistency (pancake batter like).  To make crispier dosas,  add 1/4 cup semolina to the batter .  Add salt and mix well.  Now the batter is ready to make dosas.

Heat a dosa pan (or a cast iron skillet).  When the pan is very hot, take a wet paper towel (or a wet cloth) and wipe the pan to make the surface less hot so you can spread the dosa.  And then immediately, take a ladle full of dosa batter and spread in circular motion going from the middle to the sides to get a nice round and thin dosa.  Add some oil on the edges of the circle to make the dosa crispier.  Cook with a lid for a minute to let it cook and then take the lid off and cook for about 1 minute more until the edges turn crispy. Take the dosa out of the pan using a nice thin spatula.  Repeat the same procedure every time to get crispy dosas.

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Notes:

1. The consistency of the batter is very important for it to ferment. So make sure that your batter is thick but still pourable consistency. If it is very thick, then your idli batter won’t ferment and rise well.  At the same time if your batter is too thin, then again the batter will not ferment and rise well so the consistency has to be somewhere in the middle.

2. If you live in a warm tropical place where room temperatures are high (above 80 deg F) then do not leave the batter to ferment for a long time – Not only can it overflow out of the vessel (yes it has happened to me once !) but it can also overferment  giving it a very bad odor and a very sour taste.

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Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes (Aloo Gobhi)

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Aloo Gobhi, literally means Potatoes and Cauliflower and is a quintessential Indian vegetable dish (sabzi). I am not sure exactly which part of India it originated in. But I am pretty sure that now it has become a staple in most Indian households.  Although each family recipe will have their own variations, all of them typically use some key spices like mustard seeds, cumin and coriander powder. This is my simple recipe for Aloo Gobhi that goes well with rotis or naan or any other kind of bread.  This is really one of my favorite sabzis to cook at home whenever we have ‘chapati sabzi’ for dinner.

One of my friends loves to eat Indian food but she rarely has the time to cook due to her work related travels. She had asked me to give her a simple recipe that she could cook at home occasionally.  I decided to share this recipe with her and she was indeed able to successfully cook this dish!

This dish has really very simple mildly aromatic flavors and is not overpowering to those not used to a lot of spice and heat.  It is perfect for a weeknight simple meal. Nowadays, on my Paleo diet I eat this sabzi with my homemade cassava rotis. I also occasionally substitute ‘taro root’ for potatoes. It is yummy either way!

Curried Cauliflower and Potatoes (Aloo Gobhi)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Aloo Gobhi is a very popular and delectable Indian vegetable dish featuring cauliflower and potatoes cooked with some mild curry spices
RecipeIngredients
  • ½ of a medium size cauliflower, cut up into florets (about 3 cups of chopped florets)
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes(about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup of fresh green beans (finely chopped) (optional)
  • 2 tsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ of a medium size red onion, cut into thin long slices
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp kashmiri red chilli powder (or cayenne pepper - if you want it mild, add only ¼ tsp)
  • ½ tsp freshly chopped ginger(optional)
  • 3-4 fresh curry leaves
  • ½ of a small tomato chopped (optional)
  • for garnish:
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves chopped finely
  • 2 spring onions chopped finely
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
RecipeInstructions
  1. Take a wok style pan (kadai) and add the oil to it.
  2. Once the oil gets slightly hot, add the mustard seeds and cover with a lid till the spluttering stops.
  3. Next add the cumin seeds and the fennel seeds.
  4. Then add the sliced onions and sauté for about a minute. then add the curry leaves and all the chopped vegetables.
  5. Next add the salt, turmeric , red chilli powder and the ginger and mix well so that the vegetables are well coated with the spice mixture.
  6. Cover with the lid and let it cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat(stir after 2 minutes to make sure the veggies are not sticking to the pan).
  7. Check to see if potatoes are well cooked.
  8. If adding tomatoes, add them now and cook for another min.
  9. Turn the heat off and garnish with chopped cilantro, spring onions and a dash of lime juice.
  10. Serve with warm rotis!

 

Potatoes and Cauliflower (Aloo Gobhi)

Healthy Black Bean Brownie

Healthy Black Bean Brownies

My kids love chocolate and they especially love fudgy chocolate brownies. So I am constantly trying to make healthier versions of this dessert.  Recently I came across a brownie made with black beans when I was watching Food Network on TV. I was at first revolted by the idea of using black beans in any dessert (although I love black beans otherwise). But then one day I decided to try this recipe out and when I served it to the family i did not mention the black beans and you know what? My kids loved it and kept telling me that this was the ‘bestest’ brownie I had ever made because it was so gooey and fudgy and yummy!  So since then I make brownies using black beans quite regularly and have also improvized the original recipe slightly – I replaced half of the sugar with honey and also reduced the salt content. So here’s the killer recipe.  These brownies are great to bring to a kids’ event like school events, soccer games, birthday parties etc.

This recipe will make 2 dozen or 24 brownies

Adapted from Food Network ‘s Melissa de Arabian’s recipe

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cup cooked black beans (or canned black beans that
have been rinsed and drained well)
1 cup  olive oil (you can use  coconut oil too)
4 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp instant coffee
2tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (melted)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp  confectioners' sugar for dusting

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 deg C.  Grease a 12″ by 9″ rectangular pan. (If you like a smaller batch just halve the quantities above and use a smaller size pan)

Take the black beans and put them in a blender (or a grinder). Add the olive oil and blend until the beans are mashed well. Next add the eggs two at a time and again blend.  Then add the cocoa powder, the sugar, honey, the instant coffee powder and the vanilla extract. Next take half a cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips and melt them either using a double boiler or just in the microwave oven*.

Next take the dry ingredients – the flour , the baking powder and the salt in a bowl and mix well.  Add this to the blender too and again blend for about two minutes stopping every now and then to scrape the sides of the blender and to make sure the flour is mixed well into the rest of the black bean mixture.  Now pour this mixture onto the prepared pan and then spread the rest of the chocolate chips (1/2 cup) on the top.

Bake at 350 deg C for about 18-20 minutes. Start checking at 18 minutes using a knife to see if it comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes and then cut into squares. You could sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on the top before serving.  These are best served warm!

Special Notes: *: For melting chocolate chips in a double boiler, first place a medium size pot filled half with water on the stove and heat it till the water starts boiling. Then place a glass bowl (or a smaller pot) into this pot and put the chocolate chips into the inner bowl(or pot). Keep stirring the chocolate until it melts into liquid. Alternatively, you could melt chocolate pieces in the microwave by placing them in a microwave safe bowl and heating them for 30 seconds and then taking it out and stirring. Keep doing this till chocolate is fully melted.

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Easy Kerala Chicken Curry || Instant Pot Chicken Curry Recipe (Paleo)

  This is a quick and easy way to make chicken curry.  This was how my dad used to make chicken curry in his bachelorhood days and so every now and then while we were growing up, we used to … Continue reading

Pad Thai Style Noodles with Chicken and Shrimp

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This recipe will make 3-4 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 pkg Rice noodles (14 oz) or any other noodles
1/4 pound of boneless chicken, cut into thin strips
10-12  medium size shrimp (de-shelled and de-veined)
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/4 cup french cut green beans
1/4 cup julienned carrot pieces
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup broccoli (optional)
2 tbsp peanut oil
1tbsp chopped garlic
1 medium size shallot / red onion cut into thin slices
1 medium size green chili chopped into tiny pieces
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tbsp lemon grass pieces (fresh or the ones in a jar)
2 no. Kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp pad thai sauce (store bought or home made as per recipe given below)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt or per taste
For garnish:
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp Fresh finely chopped Cilantro leaves
2 tbsp roasted peanuts (crushed)
2 Egg omelet pieces*

Method:

Boil water in a huge pot . Once it starts boiling take it off the stove and add the noodles and let them soak them in the hot water for about 6-7 minutes (Check the specific directions on your rice noodles package). Then drain the water and wash the noodles with cold water and again drain and add a tsp of vegetable oil and keep aside.

Take a wok and heat the oil in it. As the oil gets hot add the shallots, red chilly flakes , the chopped garlic , green chillies, kaffir lime leaves and the lemon grass.  Stir for about 1 minute and then add   the pad thai sauce, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Next add the chicken pieces and keep stir ring on high heat to let the chicken cook.  Next add the shrimp too and stir on high heat for about 1 minute. Next add the vegetables and add  the salt again stirring constantly.  you can cover with a lid for about 1-2 minutes to let the vegetables steam.

Finally add the noodles and stir well.   Add the garnish ingredients and serve immediately while hot.

Egg Omelet:

Take a small pan and heat with some oil in it. Take two eggs and beat well. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and pour onto the heated pan.  Cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes covering with  a lid.  Flip onto a plate and when cooled cut into long and thin strips.

Recipe for Pad thai sauce:

1 inch ball of tamarind soaked in warm water

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp of jaggery(or molasses)

Make tamarind pulp out of the soaked tamarind ball by squeezing by hand and then straining through a strainer to get any seed or big chunks out.  Take this pulp in a small pan, add the fish sauce and the jaggery pieces and heat on the stove for about 4-5 minutes till the jaggery is dissolved completely and till you get a thick sauce.

Walnut Coffee Cake

 

Walnut Coffee Cake

Walnut Coffee Cake

I first learned how to bake a cake when I was in 10th grade as part of a Home Econ course.  I was so taken in by the process of baking that I started baking this sponge cake at home over and over . The rave reviews that family and friends gave me only furthered my interest in cooking and thus began my foray into the cooking world.  I really love to bake – there is something really fascinating about throwing things into the oven and waiting for them to come out fully transformed.! 🙂

Over the years I have modified that basic sponge cake recipe to come up with this one, and also adding walnuts for my husband (who is nuts over nuts) !  Whenever we travel to meet friends or family, folks just expect me to bring this with me.  This cake is really a very moist and nutty cake to be had over a cup of tea or coffee and of course, in the company of good friends:)

You will need a baking pan – a round 8 inch or a bread loaf pan will be good for this recipe.  I usually do a double batch in which case I use a 9 * 6 rectangular pan.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup and 1 tbsp cup All Purpose flour (Maida)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 and 1/4 stick (10 tbsp or 125 g) unsalted butter,
softened at room temperature
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar (granulated or powdered)*
1/4 cup sour cream (or thickened plain yoghurt)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 350 Deg F.  Grease your baking pan with butter on the base and sides and also dust with a sprinkling of flour.

Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder and keep it aside.

Take a large mixing bowl and add the butter and the sugar.  Next add the eggs one at a time and blend using a hand mixer.  Then next add half of the flour mixture slowly while continuing to whisk with the blender. Next add half of the sour cream and again blend. Then add the rest of the flour mixture and the sour cream and whisk till the batter is thick but smooth. Now add the vanilla essence.   Turn the hand mixer off and add the chopped walnuts and mix by hand (so that the walnut pieces are not crushed).

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Bake in the oven at 350F for about 25 – 30 minutes**.  Keep checking every 5 minutes after 20 minutes by doing the knife test(Insert a knife into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean then the cake is done).  Take out of the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Scrape the edges of the pan slightly and then invert the cake onto a plate.   Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee!

Walnut Coffee Cake

*: In US granulated sugar is the regular sugar which is a coarse powder. So if your sugar is crystalline, you need to powder it.

**: Baking times can vary depending upon the oven so you should check frequently after 20 minutes.

Moru Kootan || Yoghurt and coconut curry || Kerala Moru Curry

Moru kootan is a very typical Kerala dish which is a yoghurt coconut curry where usually a vegetable like  green(raw) plantain or chembu (taro root) is cooked in a yoghurt /buttermilk (moru in malayalam) and coconut sauce.  ‘Kootan’ means any … Continue reading