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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cinnamon - Ginger and Chocolate Chip Pull-Apart Bread

It was such a beautiful experience to be able to bake this Pull-Apart Bread. This is my entry for January's  "We Knead To Bake" bread event. I was inspired by the enthusiastic, creative and passionate bread bakers of  "We knead to Bake". I'm so proud to be part of this group.    

Now what is  "We knead to Bake" you might ask.  Aparna Balasubramanian who is the author of  the blog - "My Diverse Kitchen" came up with this brilliant idea of getting like minded food bloggers together who needed some kind of motivation to be able to bake bread on a regular basis. So this group was created to share our experiences and  enjoy this process of bread making.  She gave this group a beautiful and fitting name " We Knead to Bake ". 

We are required  to bake one bread a month and this month's theme is "Pull-Apart Loaf".  You can find more details here. She gave us the recipe and we could use any filling of our choice. I have used Cinnamon, Ginger and chocolate Chip filling. I made this bread keeping in mind what my kids would like as its no point baking something and everybody at home cannot enjoy it.  Also I was sure if  I just add chocolate chips to this recipe its guaranteed to be an instant hit with the kids. They were as excited as I was and they couldn't wait to pull this bread apart. LOL ! Thankfully I baked two loaves, as I had a smaller loaf pan. I was extremely pleased by the outcome. I was very nervous to begin with but now I'm hoping to bake more of this delightful pull-apart bread.  Next time though  I want to bake a savory bread for myself and hubby. For the kids I'll bake a sweet version again.   

For the Dough

  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 3/4 to 3 cups All purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp butter soft at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup milk (+ 2 tbsp to brush over the bread)

 For the Filling
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp melted butter 


  • In a bowl dissolve 1 tsp sugar and 2 tsp yeast in 1/2 cup of warm milk. Keep it aside for 5 minutes or until the yeast mixture bubbles up. 
  • I used a food processor to knead the dough but you could knead it by hand as well. In the food processor bowl , take 2 3/4 cups flour , sugar , butter and pulse a few times to mix. Add the yeast mixture and 3/4 cup milk and knead  till you get a soft , smooth and pliable dough. If the dough is sticky sprinkle little flour at a time  until you get a non-sticky dough. (I did add a little  dough as my dough got a little sticky).  
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well oiled bowl, turning the dough  so that it is coated with the oil as well.  Cover and keep it aside to rise for 1 to   1 1/2 hours till it is almost double in volume. 
  • Lightly dust the work surface with flour. Now deflate the dough and shape it into a square. Next roll it to a 12" X 12" Square. Brush the square with melted butter. Next sprinkle the mixture of brown sugar ,cinnamon and ginger. Now sprinkle your chocolate chips. Use your rolling pin to lightly press your topping onto the dough. 
  • Use a pizza cutter and slice the dough from top to bottom into 6 even strips.(Don't panic, they do not have to be perfect). Now stack each strip on top of the other one by one with the topping facing upwards. You could use the 1st and the last strip and  stack them in the middle so that it looks neater and almost perfect.  
  • Using a sharp knife cut straight down through the stack into 6 equal stacks.  
  • Grease and lightly flour a  9" X 5" loaf pan or in my case I have used two 7" x 3" loaf pans. Layer the square slices cut sides down into the loaf pan(s). Cover the loaf pan (along with the slices) with a towel and keep it aside to rise for 1 hour.
  • Lightly brush the top of the loaf with some milk. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for about 30-40 minutes until the  top is golden brown.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rava Idli- Steamed and Savory Semolina Cake

This recipe is another favorite of mine as it can be prepared in a jiffy. This is a quick and easy recipe to make Idlis. This requires no soaking,no grinding and no fermenting .No making any preparations ahead of time. This is an excellent goto recipe if you are out of ideas and need something which could be prepared in minutes and everybody would love it at the same time. This could be made for breakfast, lunch , dinner, brunch or just  for snack. Idlis are very versatile in this regard. Just serve them with chutney or ketchup and you are good to go. This can also be packed for school lunches as well or take it to work. They travel so well and if you have leftovers which I doubt  just steam  them in a microwave for 25-30 secs and they are good as freshly made.

In my house my younger one who is five has a  newly acquired love for Idlis and Mulaga Podi (chutney powder). He is  my picky eater. So I keep coming with creative ways for him to enjoy his meals. In these Idlis you could add grated carrots and other veggies as well. Add them towards the end, just before you add the Eno fruit salt. And, yes I love Eno fruit salt. It makes fermenting so easy- Just a matter of seconds and makes our life so easy. 

  • 1 cup Rava/ Sooji / Semolina
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 + 1/4  cup water *
  • 10-12  cashews
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp white urad dal
  • 2 green chillies chopped
  • 2-3 curry leaves
  • pinch of hing (asafoetida)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp Eno fruit salt
* First add 1/2 cup water and if the consistency is too thick, add a little bit of water at a time (not more than 1/4 cup though). For my recipe, I used the entire 1/2 cup water  + 1/4 cup water =3/4 cup water. Its always easy to add water but once its added cannot be removed.)


  • Heat oil in a skillet /Kadhai. Add mustard seeds, when they splutter, add urad dal,  followed by curry leaves and cashews. Next add the green chillies. Fry for about 30 seconds. Add Hing and immediately add Rava/Sooji and roast on medium to low flame for about 2 minutes. Transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool.
  • In the meanwhile get the Idli maker /steamer ready. Add water in the steamer and allow it to boil.  Make sure you add just enough water  and not too much so that it  does not touch the bottom most plate/tray of the Idli maker. Grease the Idli plates/trays.
  • Add yogurt and water to the roasted and seasoned Sooji. Whisk it well. Make sure there are no lumps.  Add freshly chopped Cilantro leaves and salt to taste.
  • Now the Eno fruit salt is added just before you are ready to make the Idlis. Add it to the Idli batter. Mix it well.  Spoon the batter into the rounded moulds of the Idli plates. This recipe yields 12-16 Idlis depending on the size of the Idli plates/trays. Carefully place the Idli stand into the Idli Maker/ Steamer/. Cover and let it steam cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Insert  a knife/tooth pick into the center of the Idli and check if Idlis are done. If the knife /tooth pick comes out clean , they are ready. Take it off the heat. Let it cool. Using a spoon, scoop off the Idli's from the Idli trays and serve. These could be served with your choice of chutney, sambhar or Mulaga Podi (Chutney powder).


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Broccoli Ke Pakode - Broccoli Fritters

On a dull, gloomy and rainy day what's the first thing which comes to your mind,especially if you are a foodie like me - Garma garam pakode(piping hot fritters) with a cup of hot and steaming adrak wali chai (ginger tea). Made these Broccoli fritters and cardamom and ginger tea to make this dull day into somewhat of a happy day.

Ingredients :
  • 1 1/2 cups Besan/chickpea flour/gram flour 
  • 2  1/2 cups broccoli florets (about 20 florets)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder 
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder 
  • 1/2 tsp amchur powder (dry mango powder) 
  • 1 tsp cumin-coriander powder 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (optional) 
  • salt to taste 
  • 1/2 to about 3/4 cup water 
  • Oil for frying 

  • Heat oil in a frying pan/ kadai . Make sure there's enough oil to deep fry these pakoras/pakode/fritters. 
  • In a bowl mix all the above ingredients except broccoli and Oil. Mix it well making sure there are no lumps. Start by adding only 1/2 cup water. You are looking for a thick consistency so that the batter gets evenly coated onto the broccoli florets. Now add the broccoli. Mix it well. Adjust the salt. (If you think the batter its too thick feel free to add just a little water maybe 1 tbsp at a time is a good idea).  
  • To check for oil to be at the right frying temperature .For this take a small piece of bread or maybe a drop of this batter and carefully drop into the oil. If it touches the surface and rises up very quickly, the oil is too hot. Reduce the heat and wait for the oil to get to a lower temperature(heat). If the bread/batter is still at the surface and takes too much time to float then the oil is not hot enough.Increase the heat and do the temperature check again ( I know it sounds a bit primitive , but believe me it works.) Ideally I would say if the bread crumb touches the surface and comes up in about 20-30 seconds, its at the right temperature. 
  • Now very carefully drop a spoonful of this fritter batter into the oil, one a at time. Do not over crowd, Add about 4-5 fritters/pakode at a time. Fry till they are a beautiful golden brown color. Use a slotted spoon to remove them and place it on a plate covered with about 2 layers of paper towels to absorb all the excess oil. Repeat this process until done.
  • Serve these piping hot Broccoli ke Pakode /Broccoli fritters with mint and Cilantro chutney or ketchup. It goes well with steaming hot cup of ginger and cardamom tea. This recipe serves 4(or not ) and you get about 20 medium size fritters.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Khaman Dhokla - Steamed and Savory chickpea flour cake

This is a delicacy of Gujarat. Khaman Dhokla is a snack which could  very well make an awesome breakfast or have it with your evening tea. If you have guests coming over and want to make something which is quick, easy and delicious- think no further , this is the snack you should make. I made this for breakfast today and my kids and hubby loved it. Not to mention I was the most happiest as I  was craving for these for quite some time and today  was able to make them. Now, if you want a piece of this soft, spongy and delicious Khaman Dhokla, what are you waiting for..go ahead make them as soon as you can and enjoy. 

For the Batter:
  • 1 cup besan/chickpea flour/gram flour
  • 1 tsp ginger - green chilli paste
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Eno fruit salt
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil
For the tempering:
  •  1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 3-4 green chillies slit lengthwise.

  • In a bowl mix together chickpea flour, yogurt, water, turmeric, salt, ginger-green chilli paste and oil. Mix it well and make sure there are no lumps. (At this point you are adding all the above Batter ingredients except ENO. - this will be added just before you are ready to steam your Khaman Dhokla.)
  • Heat some water in a pressure cooker or steamer. Grease a deep plate/thali/container which should be able to fit into the pressure cooker/steamer with the lid being covered.  Keep it aside.
  • Now to the above Khaman Dhokla batter,  add the most important ingredient- Eno fruit salt. Mix it well. Eno salt acts as a fermenting(Khaman) agent and instantly ferments the batter. Immediately pour the batter onto the greased  thali. Cover and steam cook for  12 -14 minutes. (If you are using a pressure cooker close the lid without the whistle ). Check if done by inserting a tooth pick or knife in the center of the dhokla. If it comes out clean , then its done. Take it off the heat and let it cool.
  • In the meanwhile heat oil in a small  pan/kadhai. Add the mustard seeds. When they crackle add the sesame seeds. Add the curry leaves and the slit green chillies. Fry it for about half a minute. Take it off the heat and pour it over the Khaman Dhokla.  Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro. Now cut the Dhokla into squares or diamonds. Serve it with green cilantro chutney, tamarind and date chutney or ketchup.   

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Black-eyed Peas with freshly ground spices

It is said that eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day brings prosperity in the new year. Some believe it brings you good luck. I did make it couple days later. Hoping it still brings me and all my readers some prosperity and good luck. 

  • 2 cups dried Black-eyed peas /Lobiya/Chowli
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • oil
For the freshly ground Spice blend
  • 1 tblsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole dried red chillies
  • 1/2" cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves 
Dry roast all the above whole dry spices in a pan.Cool and grind in a food processor until well blended. I like my texture to be a bit coarse. Keep this spice blend aside.

  • Soak the dried black-eyed peas in about 5-6 cups water and keep it over night. If you are pressed for time as I was , I did the quick soak method. I heated 6 cups water in a pan and when it came to a rolling boil, got it off the flame and added the washed dried black eyed peas. Cover and keep this aside for about 30-40 minutes. In the time its soaking I had enough time to make my tomato puree and my spice blend.Now in a pressure cooker add the soaked black-eyed peas with the water. Add salt to taste and turmeric powder. Add 2 cups more water so that the black-eyed peas do not get burnt. Cook for 5-6 whistles or until the Black-eyed peas are tender. Take it off the heat and keep it aside. 
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan or Kadai. Add the tomato puree and let it cook on medium flame for about 3-4 minutes. Stir from time to time. Soon the oil will separate which indicates the puree is cooked. Add your freshly ground spices. Mix it well. Add the cooked Black-eyed peas along with the cooking liquid into the pan. Mix it well. Adjust the salt. (If you are planning to serve this with rice, I do add about 1-2 cups water at this point and then bring it to a boil.) Cover and cook on low heat for about 7-8 minutes. 
  •  Black-eyed peas with freshly ground spices is ready to be served. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve it with cumin rice or plain rice. Goes well with hot phulkas/roti/chapati (Indian flat bread) as well. This recipes serves 6-8. If you happen to have leftovers , it tastes just as good. Especially on a cold wintry day, just enjoy a warm bowl of this Spicy black-eyed peas with some chopped red onions, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and some freshly squeezed lemon juice. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Badam aur Gajar ki Kheer - Almond & Carrot Kheer

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.  

What better way to begin the new year other than with this lip-smacking and  delicious dessert !!!   Badam kheer or almond kheer is best enjoyed during winter in India. The consistency is not as thick as Rice Kheer or Semiya Kheer (Seviyan).  You could also call it Badam Milk - Almond and Cardamom infused Milk. Traditionally they use Saffron. It gives it a beautiful color and makes it more exotic. Since I did not have saffron,  I have used  grated carrot for that beautiful color and perhaps making it healthier in the process. 

  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup almonds(Badam)
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • handful broken cashews
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tbsp Ghee/unsalted butter

 Preparation :
  • Soak the almonds in boiling hot water for about 10-15 minutes and peel them. (Be very careful here as to not burn yourself with the hot water).
  • Next grind the grated carrot and peeled almonds to a paste. Use 1/4 cup milk as well. This makes the grinding much easier. 
  • In a thick bottomed pan /Kadai  melt the ghee and fry the cashews. Next add the almond/carrot paste. Fry on low-medium heat for about a minute. Now add the remaining milk. Bring it to a boil on medium flame. Add sugar and cardamom powder. Let it simmer on low heat for about 6-8 minutes.  
  • Badam aur Gajar Ki Kheer is ready to be served. This could be served warm or chilled. It just tastes divine either way.