Dec 16, 2008

Lamingtons

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The last few weeks I have been hearing my son murmuring a new song and I was wondering what he was up to these days. Since the words he was uttering were not very clear and so I repeatedly begged him to sing as it was a really nice tune. Later I came to know that it was one of the may Christmas carols they have practicing for his Christmas day event at school. I was glad to know about his costume too and we all parents are eagerly looking forward to this event.

The end of the year is always a busy time and at Rohan’s school they have been busy preparing for the Christmas event and constantly buzzing stay at home mom to volunteer for decorating the auditorium and dazzle it with Christmas lighting. I too was part of this group and it was great to know the details of the show. Parents have been asked to share some goodies at the end of the show and I thought of making these lamingtons.

I had made these a long times back and I thought of doing a batch before making the final ones for the event. Lamingtons are very popular in Australia and NZ. It is a very common sight in bakery shops and found in abundance so u would never feel an urge to bake your own. I found a nice article about the origin of lamingtons and more information about this cake here.

It is basically a vanilla sponge cake coated with sugar and cocoa icing and rolled with desiccated coconut.

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For vanilla sponge cake
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs
¼ cup butter
1teaspoon baking powder
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Shift flour with baking powder and keep it aside. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and whisk until mixed well. Add vanilla extract and flour gradually till well combined.
Preheat the oven at 180’c and line a square tin. Bake for 20 to 25 till the done.

Let it cool down and slice them to square or rectangle shape.

Meanwhile prepare the icing
2 cup icing sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup water/milk
¾ tablespoon butter

Combine all the above ingredients in a sauce and cook on a medium fire till it gets an icing consistency.
While still warm, using a pair tongs dip the sliced cakes into icing mix and roll them over a plate of desiccated or shredded coconut. Place them on a rack. Serve and enjoy.

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Dec 12, 2008

Chocolate tart – believe me it is delicious!

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With holidays at the next bend the count down has already begun to the best time of the year. I can see many families are gearing up for the break and busy scheduling their holiday plans. I was also thinking of going to India during the vacations but since my hubby is tied up with work so we thought postponing it to January. I have always seen my son getting excited about our India trip as lot of things are always on card when the visit is only for a short period.

Since most of the Indian families residing here are taking a break, I thought of having a get together at my place last week. It was due since a long time. It was a girl’s only day out in the afternoon when most of kids are at school. My son was not happy with the idea as he insisted that kids should be an integral part of any party. “Yeah! May be next time” that was my blatant reply!

Coming to the menu I always have a special corner for the desserts and for me it is the final crowning glory. The special dish to be relished in spite of no place left in the tummy. I had made this chocolate tart and even though I had managed to click few pictures of the tart before the party begun, later by mistake I deleted the pictures from my disk. On browsing franticly I was lucky enough to find a picture of a slice.

The recipe is adapted from
http://frenchfood.about.com/od/desserts/r/choctart.htm

No changes made to the original recipe.

Variation - After popping the tart into the oven, I realized that adding orange zest would have been a good idea. The tart varies according to type of chocolates used. I had use semi sweet dark chocolates so it was little bit on the bitter side.
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Dec 3, 2008

Dalma ( lentils with vegetables ) - An Oriya delight

The mere mention of dalma will take you down memory lane to a place nestled in the eastern part of India known as Orissa, a coastal state by the Bay of Bengal. It is one of the most comfort and staple food of Oriya people. Whatever the occasion, dalma adorns the menu and I remember once when I slurped this scrumptious close cousin if dal at Govinda’s restaraunt in Sydney, betting my hubby that it is non other than our coveted dalma. We chatted with the Pujari (cook) and he said that it was indeed from Orissa and was offered as Prasad to Lord Sri Krishna at the ISKON temple.

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It is absolutely a simple and fuss free recipe. The more the variety of vegetables, the better the taste is enhanced. I always love to have it in Orissa because we often get those vegetables that sometimes are hard to find here in the supermarket. Vegetables like raw banana and raw papaya are used .Since I don’t find them I often cook with regular vegetables that are mostly available in all the season. The important part of seasoning is using roasted cumin and dry chili powder. The recipe can be found here.

Here is list of ingredients for Dalma

¾ cup Tovar dal (lentils)
1 cup pumpkin cut into big chunks
1 medium sized potato cut into big pieces
1 cup eggplant cut into big chunks
1 large tomato diced
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 teaspoon ginger grated
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Pinch of Hing (Asofotieda)
2 dried red chilies
1 teaspoon pancha putona
1 teaspoon ghee
Salt to taste
Roasted cumin and red chili powder for seasoning

Method.

Soak dal for 30 minutes. Drain and mix all the vegetable adding bay leaf and 1 teaspoon of ginger. Add 2 cups of water and cook in a pressure cooker on a medium fire. Allow couple of whistles and switch of the gas. Don’t over boil the lentils. If the dal has dried up, add more water but the consistency should be thick.

In a pan heat the ghee, add hing, dry red chilies, pancha putona and 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger. When they start to crackle, add the cooked lentils and simmer it for couple of minutes.

Season it with roasted cumin and red chili powder and chopped coriander.

Serve hot with rice.

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The other accompaniments that goes well are

Tomato and khajuri ( dates) khatta

Dahi baigana


It has been a week now to the deadly terrorist attacks on Mumbai the financial capital of India and much of the world has condemned these ghastly and gory attacks on innocent people in Mumbai. It is unfathomable why some people commit such heinous crimes and malign religion which has nothing to do with these acts of inhumanity.

My heart is bleeding with the pathetic sight of Mumbai. The charm and glow of the Taj Hotel has vanished leaving so many people devasted and mourning. But what is so inspiring is the state of solidarity, faith and strength among the common affected people who are determined not to bow down before the threats of terrorism, they have become rock solid hard and are going about their business as usual. These acts are simply criminal, ghastly and unpardonable. Although among the perished, I have not known anyone personally but I grief & cry for the perished ones and my soul reckons to be with them to console them in their tragedy. To those of you who have lost your dear ones I pray to god that he gives you the strength and the patience to bear this irreplaceable loss and I pray for peace for everyone and all. I hope and pray that people learn to just be human beings and if nothing else at least have some respect for another human life. Let us all pray that when god has gifted us an advanced brain let us not act as animals and even animals do not attack unless provoked or are insanely hungry. Why can’t we human beings if we cannot be as human beings, be at least like the animals and not kill another being. I have lit a candle in the memory of the departed and I pray and hope that peace will prevail.

Nov 27, 2008

Festive cookies and let the sweetness flow in you

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Food is always part of festivals. Or let’s put it that way food goes hand in hand with festivals. With December fast approaching the moods are often elevated with the holiday shopping and the mistletoe and the Christmas wreaths and the warm glow of fluorescent bulbs in the shopping centers even though the weather outside is harsh and crisp. Perhaps the contrast is what is most alluring. The rhymes of jingle bells on snow frosted streets and the noble Santa preparing for the kids, the whole atmosphere is almost magical. Shopping and booking tickets for holidays takes top priority. Almost all of us are set in a mood for partying. Window shopping is great as the shops are dressed up at their best. Xmas tree are beautifully jeweled up with latest glitters and hangings. Kids are eagerly waiting for holidays to come and some promising vacations are awaiting. It is always exciting as the New Year approaches with plenty of get together on cards.

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I have spent few Christmas seasons in Sydney soaking up in the bright summer sunshine. Being nestled in the southern hemisphere it is extremely warm to hot and an ideal time for picnics in the park with the Barbie roaring and the boys with their stubbies discussing footy. There are so much of outdoor activities with every possible inch filled up at the beaches and the parks. The parks are completely filled up unless you decide to go early and reserve a spot for yourself and your friends. That happens most of the time when few families decide to meet up and couple of them are requested to reach early to spot a nice place early with their esky’s overflowing. It is completely different scene when compared to rest of world during the month of December.

Flipping through a few pictures of the bygone days I happened to recollect that I had baked gingerbread cookies for a get together and as usual they were always a hit with the kids. Seeing those pictures Rohan was excited and wanted me to bake some more of those now. Luckily I had scribbled that recipe and it is indeed a pleasure to know that Susan of Foodblogga is hosting a theme Eat Christmas cookies-2 so I was all set and keen to roll them up.


Ingredients
4 tablespoons of honey
60 grams butter
250 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
60 grams brown sugar
30 grams cocoa powder
2 teaspoon dry ginger powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 egg yolk

Method

Put honey, sugar and butter in pan and simmer till the butter is melted. Keep stirring fast and take off from the heat occasionally. Sieve the flour, baking powder, ginger and mixed spice. Pour the above the mix and using the egg yolk roll a smooth dough. Refrigerate for 10 minutes and roll them on a flat sheet depending on the thickness you would require. Using a cookie cutter cut the desired shapes.
Bake them for 8 to 10 minutes at 180’C.


For the lighter and egg less ones I have used the following ingredients with the similar method adapted from 101 one things to make and do


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Ingredients (egg less)

2 tablespoon butter
½ cup light brown sugar
4 tablespoon honey
1 cup plain flour
½ tablespoon baking powder
½ tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ginger powder
Pinch of salt


The fun part was playing with sugar. Although it was bit of mess but I thoroughly enjoyed decorating these cookies.


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I used 3 tablespoons of icing sugar with few drops of milk, and a drop of lemon juice. Blend them properly adding colour of choice. Spoon them in the piping bags and snip the tip off checking the thickness you would desire. Carefully layout the cookies and it is just a gradual practice. Keep some toothpicks and paper towel handy to wipe up if something doesn’t work up as well as you planned on it to be.

Let the one color completely dry up before using other colors. Decorate it with Smarties.
My husband is insistent on marketing his company’s products even if we can’t find any. I have used M&M’s though much to his distaste.


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I hope & pray the festive season brings cheers and good tidings to everyone and I hope we can all collectively forget the erratic slides of the DJIA index and pray for everyone’s happiness and peace.

Nov 24, 2008

Shahi vegetable pulao

Last weekend we were busy as there were couple of things lined up at home and I had no intention of having lunch outside with the last few indulgences. So I decided to have something healthy and filling, Nutritious yet delicious and what best but a medley of all veggies chopped & thrown into the pot for a quick lunch that could be satisfying and filling too. I cooked a pulao shared to me by my mother in-law with a tiny variation from the regular recipe of using coconut and poppy seed paste. I like the rich taste imparted by the paste though.

One who is acquainted with this space of mine would immediately recognize that I use poppy seeds (khus khus) quite often and this is specialty of eastern Indian cuisine. Poppy seeds are mild but have a rich and nutty texture when added to gravies.


Pulao are always handy when it comes to having a quick brunch. It can be made with left over rice and some frozen veggies thrown in adjusting spices and condiments to suit one’s taste. It was part of my regular cooking when I was working and had no time to whip up an elaborate meal.

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Coming to my recipe all you need is

1 cup Basmati rice uncooked
2 cups vegetable chopped (cauliflower, carrots, beans, peas)
1 small onion chopped
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
whole Garam masalas ( 2 cardamom, 3 cloves, and 1inch cinnamon)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder

For the paste

2 teaspoon poppy seeds
3 to 4 teaspoon fresh coconut
2 fresh green chilies
1/3 cup fresh coriander leaves chopped
2 tablespoon fresh mint leaves chopped

1 tablespoon ghee/oil
Salt to taste

Cook rice and it should not be sticky. Make a paste of the ingredients and keep it aside. In a pan heat ghee, add whole garam masalas, bay leaf. Sauté chopped onions till translucent. Add ginger and garlic paste. Add and sauté the chopped vegetables. Cover and cook till partially done. Add the paste, cumin and coriander powder. Cook on a medium fire till the vegetables are done. Sprinkle water if the paste sticks to the pan. Add salt to taste.

Finally add cooked rice and mix well. Cover and simmer on low fire for 5 minutes. Serve hot with papad and pickle.

Kitchen notes - When grinding poppy seeds, dry (not roasted) grind them first and then add rest of the ingredients and little water to make a paste.

More recipes with poppy seeds

Prawns curry

Spicy chicken korma

Sending this recipe to Rice mela hosted by Srivalli of http://cooking4allseasons.blogspot.com