Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cappuccino Walnut Cake

Valentine's Day is not really a biggie at our place. Blame it on hubby dear! He is quite the romantic, and my entire year is peppered with heartwarming gestures.. both small as well as extravagant. Love notes will find their way into the most extraordinary places and that outfit I casually termed nice, will suddenly show up in my closet! But by far the most romantic gesture took place two years ago.
I was preggers and craving desserts. However, we were living in this quaint hill station with a delicious but very basic bakery. Now, over the years, every time hubby asked me to choose a gift, I would promptly ask him to bake me a cake. It became a comic routine between us coz hubby dear's kitchen skills are limited to tea and instant noodles. But this time when we re-enacted the routine on my birthday, he steeled himself and out came a manly, " All right!"
I thought he was joking. But turned out he was quite serious. " I will bake you the fanciest cake you desire. But you will have to guide me through the sticky parts." It was the offer of  a lifetime and there was no way I was letting it go! So out came the recipe books. And the first recipe to pop open was the Cappuccino Walnut Cake!
Now that was a cake that required time, dedication, and above all skill. But the army man was not one to back down from a challenge! He could practically see me salivating over the page! So off he went with whiskey in hand and attacked it with the precision of a strategic battle. Of course, he needed the General's (moi) expert guidance once in a while. But he did it. And all by himself. The end result was the maid begging me to never let him enter the kitchen ever again! And the cake? Gosh! It was the best I had ever eaten. Utterly addictive and full of love! I had to eventually request him to hide it so I wouldn't devour it one sitting :p
So this Valentine's Day, ditch the conventional. And instead, pour your heart into making something your better half will forever cherish. It could be a self written poem, a handmade card, breakfast in bed, or this absolutely divine cake.

Butter                           65 gm (4 tablespoon), melted and cooled
Maida                          100 gm (3/4 cup)
Baking powder           1 teaspoon
Eggs                            4 
Caster sugar                125 gm (1/2 cup)
Coffee powder            1 1/2 tablespoon, dissolved in a little milk
Walnuts                       3/4 cup, toasted, cooled and chopped

Walnuts                       1/2 cup
Sugar                           1 tablespoon
Cinnamon powder       1/4 teaspoon

White Chocolate          200 gm (2 milky bars)
Coffee powder             4 teaspoon, dissolved in a little milk
Cream                           500 gm, lightly whipped

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Beat the eggs and sugar together in a food processor or with an electric mixer, over a pan of hot water. Beat till the mixture is fluffy. Remove the hot water and continue beating the eggs for another 10 seconds, till it is cooled and leaves a ribbon trail. Gently fold in the the rest of the ingredients. Pour into a greased tin and bake for 25 minutes. Cool. Split the cake into half horizontally. Spread half the icing onto the lower part of the cake. Place the top half. Spread the remaining icing on the top and sides. Coarsely grind the decoration ingredients together. Sprinkle onto the top and sides of the cake. 
For the icing: Chop the chocolate and microwave for 90 seconds, till melted. Beat the coffee and cream till smooth. Slowly beat in the melted chocolate. Icing is ready to be used.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Quickie Dahi Chicken

I love my new kitchen! It is large enough for monster munchkin to potter at one end, whilst I experiment and blog at the other. Of late though, he hasn't been content just stirring empty pots. He often wanders over to my cooking area demanding, " Mamma, Up!", to get a closer look at all the bubbling and sauteing. Do I have a chef in the making? Too early to say. But this recipe is definitely the munchkin's brainchild. I dare take no credit for it.
As I stood staring at the chicken, wondering just what treatment I mete, the lil one coolly sauntered over insisting I take the onion he had brought. He kept going back and bringing ingredient after ingredient. All I had to do was put it all in the mixer and let him grind the masala dancing on his tiptoes! Thus was born the quickest, most delicious chicken I have ever tasted. But don't  take my word for it! Give it a whirl and I am sure it will become a permanent in your repertoire. After all, even a two year old could whip it up ;)

Chicken                          1 kg
Curds                              1 cup
Onion                              1, large
Garlic                              6
Green chillies                  6
Dessicated coconut         1/4 cup
Water                              1 cup
Mustard oil                     2 tablespoon

Grind the onion, chillies, garlic, curds and coconut together. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker, Add the ground masala. Cook for two minutes. Add the chicken and salt. Stir well till all the pieces are coated. Add the water and pressure cook for four whistles. Told you it was a quickie!

Note: Dessicated coconut is also know as dry coconut powder or nariyal bhoora.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bottle Gourd (Lauki) Soup

There are only three people I know who relish the humble lauki. Baba Ramdev, my grandmother and my lil toddler. Though in all fairness, lil toddler will eat just about anything. What is it about this veggie that puts off people? The blandness say some, the seeds say others. Well, the seeds can be discarded. And as for the blandness, well, that is exactly what makes the veggie so versatile! It happily adapts to any flavour and cuisine.
This recipe is my mum's brainchild. You will never catch her eating lauki, she hates it with such passion! But in an effort to introduce the family to healthy eating, she adapted it to soup and the result was simply delicious! So as you flounder around the market looking for veggies to break your soup monotony, bring home a bottle gourd. I promise you will soon be a convert!

Bottle Gourd (Lauki)       1, medium
Butter                               1 tsp
Onion                               1, chopped
Milk                                 1
Peppercorns                     6
Chana Dal                        2 tablespoon
Water                               3 cups

 Peel and cut the lauki in cubes. In a pressure cooker, heat the butter. Saute the onion till just golden. Add the rest of the ingredients. Add some salt to taste. Pressure cook for 7 whistles. Once the cooker cools, remove the solids with a slotted spoon and grind in the mixie. Pour the puree back into the liquid and bring to boil, stirring a couple of times. Serve hot and revel in your latest health choice :)