Monday, March 21, 2011

Holi Special- Besan Laddoo!!

“Out of the numerous options for delicacies, my husband voted for Besan Laddoos for this year’s holi. Hence, the holi challenge for me :)  After taking the expert tips from my mom and aunt, I started with the challenge at 4 in the evening and completed it successfully after continuous efforts of two hours in kitchen. But at the end of the afternoon, I must say it was worth the efforts with loads of appreciations showering and a sweet tooth quench!
One of simplest in ingredients yet tiring recipe for Besan Laddoos require-
Ghee-Sugar-Besan in the ratio of 1:2:4 as in:
1 cup melted Ghee

 2 Cups powdered Sugar

 4 Cups of Besan (chickpea flour)

 4 tbsp suji (Semolina)
20-25 roughly grated almonds

 ½ tsp cardamom powder
6-8 roughly grounded pistachios

-      Mix Besan, suji and ghee in a kadai or wok and then roast the mixture on low medium. Keep stirring the mixture continuously to prevent burning of Besan and it has to be done on low-medium to ensure proper roasting of Besan. 

-      When the color changes to light brown and sweet smell of Besan starts coming turn off the stove and keep the mixture for cooling.The oil would start to separate from the besan after roasting.

-      Meanwhile roast the grated almonds and keep aside. Roasted almonds adds crunch to the Laddoos.
-      When the mixture becomes bearably warm, pour the contents in a different bowl and mix in powdered sugar, almonds and cardamom powder preferably by hands. The mixture would become slightly dry yet binding after mixing in powdered sugar and almonds.

-      Now, make small balls of the mixture using fist and keep it in a plate.

-      When the mixture is used, touch the tip of each ball with minimal ghee and then pistachios to garnish.

-      After the Laddoos are cooled down, store it in an air tight container. The ingredients would be sufficient for 20-25 Laddoos depending on the size.

I loved the Laddoos for the presentation as well the taste and also the aroma of the Besan which lingers around the house and the hands which binds it :) 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cooker Cookies

“Another day of experimentation; this time for the urge to finish off the homemade ghee prepared by my mom-in-law, a couple of months back. With the growing health consciousness; it is a challenge to have the old belly builders – ghee and butter especially as a garnish on parathas or rice. That’s how an opportunity is built for another achievement on the ‘tried’ cookbook. I always wanted to make biscuits as my mom but unfortunately could never do that because of my unconventional microwave :( Recently, while checking one of the blogs on cooking – Simply Spicy I saw the cookies – creamy yellow biscuits yummy…couldn’t hold trying them in my old friend – pressure cooker :) No doubt, the one in the link were straight from the expert’s hands but I think the variation would satisfy the learner’s quest!
Here it goes, I used -
3/4th cup All-purpose flour (Maida)
½ cup melted ghee
½ cup ungrounded sugar
Few cashews and almonds

I started with mixing up flour, ghee and grounded sugar and making dough. I added some flour while kneading to achieve the consistency which is soft yet binding. Once the dough is ready, I kept the salt layered cooker (as in my previous post for chocolate cake) with closed lid without weights for about 5 min. This would preheat the cooker making it ready for baking. I made small flattened discs of the dough placing a cashew or almond in the middle of it. The discs are to be placed in the tin maintaining some distance among them. The tin doesn’t require greasing plus the cookie would inflate a little hence the distance between the two is must.
Place the tin in the cooker and keep it on medium-slow flame for 10-15 min. If the cooker is preheated well for 5 min, around12 min would be sufficient. The discs would still be soft when the lid is opened, here is the note – I too got worried concluding it to be a failed attempt but after 5 min when I thought of tasting it – viola! It solidified on cooling and tasted awesome. I tried in two batches, first one with cashews were a bit over baked (15 min) but the second one with almonds, kept for a little lesser time (12mins) were liked more as they were more crunchy and melting like nankhatai.

Finally, invert the tin on a plate and store the cookies in a tissue paper layered air tight container. Serve it to your loved ones just to have the hidden appreciation in non-stop cookie picking :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chocolate Cake Weekend Challenge

“I love experimenting and taking up challenges in the kitchen, despite I am just a year and half old to the regular kitchen work. Weekends are the best time to put all my skills and resources on fire to end up a spelling delicacy. This time was to consume a half Italian dark chocolate bar lying from quite a long time in my refrigerator and p.s. my microwave is a lazy baker. Hence, chocolate cake the grandma way – yes cooker cake was the challenge. Lots of time and efforts and managed to gift a soft and spongy cake to my palette.
Here it goes,
1 cup all-purpose flour (Maida)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup powdered white sugar

Powdered Sugar
Flour and baking powder

 Little below 1 cup butter (unsalted)
50gms Dark Chocolate (un-sweetened 70% chocolate pref.)
3 eggs
1 tbsp Vanilla essence

Steps for the mixture:
  • Mix butter and sugar to a buttery consistency
  • Sieve flour and baking powder in a bowl.
  • Melt chocolate pieces with 1 tbsp milk in microwave safe bowl for a min and then stirring and microwaving it for 15 seconds. Or a double boiler method can also be followed without milk. 

Melted Chocolate


  • Mix melted chocolate, beaten eggs, vanilla essence and flour-baking powder mixture in the butter-sugar mix.

  •  A little milk can be added for maintaining a cluster-free flowing consistency.
 Steps to be followed for baking:
  •  Grease the tin with butter and sprinkle some flour on the base of it. I had used the stainless steel tin used for cooking rice in a 5L cooker.
  •  Put a steel stand, if you have in the cooker or put a cup full of sand to make insulation for tin. It is necessary to ensure the base of cake is safe from burning.I had used salt as the substitute for sand (p.s. this is the best tip I have known of).

Salt layered on cooker base


  • Place the cooker with lid on for 2 min on high. This is like pre-heating the cooker. Don’t place the weight as we don’t need pressure baking. 
  • Pour in the beaten mixture in the greased tin and place it in the cooker and close the lid. 
  • Keep it on high for 5 min and then keep it on slow-medium for 35 more minutes. 
  • Open after 40 min and prick in the knife to see if it comes out clean and non sticky.
  • Cool the tin along with the cooker and invert the cake out on the plate. The cake would leave the sides of the tin and circle the knife around the tin to separate it from the walls  for easy molding out. Sprinkle some powdered sugar for icing, the cake is ready to pound on.
Cake in the baking tin
 I bet, oven would fail to give that sponginess and  aroma imbibed from the cooker and not to mention with the melting consistency of the cake and intoxicating dark chocolate tingling the palette…it is nothing but yummy :)
I recommend trying it and assure it wouldn’t be a flop, if the ingredients and steps are followed properly.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

My second day of driving lesson

“Feel like a happy girl - couldn’t go for a second class on Wednesday but had enough of “in air” driving to compensate that :)
I had the second day of driving lesson today which started in the morning with my hubby taking a small test to see what I learnt on the first day. Hands-on demo for him as he had enough of the car driving mimes on Wednesday from me.
I drove for half-n-hour in the premises, considering the residential factor didn’t go beyond the second gear. Morning session ended with an appreciation from him, for the unexpected confidence exhibited on the second day itself.

My instructor came in the afternoon with one of his student. The student was three days old to the driving school and was having lots from the ireful instructor. I was afraid; if the frustration didn’t subside till my turn comes I would have a hard time today. The instructor lulled after making me take a U-Turn and a wrong lane due to the diversion. Don’t know how well to start with, but definitely scary :) Later, continued to drive on the highway and landed in the curvy residential lanes. I had an all-terrain drive today with lots of braking. I crossed two caution-school areas and switched gears from first to fourth. The aim was to understand the importance of maintaining safe distance and braking impulsively.
No questions entertained on braking today, press the clutch or not – baseline is to save the kid crossing the lane than judging the dynamics of the car (full-stop).
Session ended with again a comparative appreciation from the instructor this time - for being a better driver than his other student on the second day. Looking forward to work on control and better judgment now!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My first day of driving lesson

“After wasting much of our time on deciding whether or not to join a driving school, my hubby finally registered me in a local one. Till date, I never felt the need to learn - drive a car as I always had a way out – that includes not traveling at all and work from home :) I would not negate the fact that driving a car do add wings to you and give a feel of being more independent. That is one of the reasons apart from that I wanted my hubby to take a break from his pick and drop routine every morning.
After negotiating on the price, I am fixed up for a driving class for next 34 days and with guaranteed confidence to take my own car out after 16 days (disregarding the frustration of men watching another lady driver on road) :)) 
Preferred to learn the same model to save time on adjusting and syncing what I would learn in this month costed a little more, but anything to have a win over the wheeled monster.
Unlike the plan, the instructor seemed to be over punctual and desperate to finish off the class :( …disappointing for me as I had enough of counting the hours since morning, just to see the stinting teacher. He asked me to take the seat and Phew!! The nerve wrecking and tingly sensation started to subside. He started with introducing me to the three chipmunks in the machine – Clutch (Simon-Intellectual), Brake (Theodore-Impressible) and Accelerator (Alvin-Troublemaker). Being a mechanical engineer, I understand the whole engine and working of it in-spite my womanly senses are stronger and fail to get Simon sing for me thus a lag in clutch and gear co-ordination. Well, the first class was a quick one; wrapped up in 25 min, I drove around 6 km which included the main road with buses crossing by my side :) Unexpectedly, I wasn’t nervous, for the reason I was aware my instructor had the dual control :) if not for my safety but for his car, he would take care of the situation :p Finally, by whatever tactics, the drive built the confidence and had a OK experience for the first day – left me still hoping to tame the chipmunks all by myself soon  :)