Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Doll Cake

'Ipoh' inspired Doll Cake

You may all be wondering what the hell happened to me or where did I disappear? Well, making excuses of kids, how they keep me busy ,their exams etc. have now become a habit these days ; but believe me, this time it's not them. It has nothing to do with any one else other than ME !

I'm sure many of the bloggers might have experienced this stage when we get so much into blogging that we have no control over our lives and it's the blog that controls it. We think, we shop for it, we cook for it, we click for it ... whatever we do, it's all for the blog. I was too much involved in doing so that somewhere I felt like I was forgetting to live for me, my kids or for my entire family. I wanted to take back that control to my hands and give a new direction to life. Setting my priorities and not to lose the purpose of life! It was not so simple; but yet.. now everything is at place. My mind is at peace, I have no hurry thinking about next post, photoshoot, etc. which occupies 3/4th of my mind; checking blog stats umpteen times a day etc. These days,I even forgets to check my blog daily. Now I have a control on all these as these comes only after ME, my religion, kids, family and friends.





How did I do this? Well, first of all I stopped checking social networks frequently, mainly fb and blog. First 2 weeks went like that and spent those free time with kids. It felt so good that I eventually forgot about them-my fb friends, blogs etc. Then started reading Quran, tried to learn it, joined online courses to learn Arabic and so on. I bet, that's the best decision I've ever made. It helped me grow as a person and my mind is at peace now. I started enjoying life and now I don't spend my time on tvs, fbs or movies. I don't enjoy watching them as I've one beautiful life from God to enjoy . I know it's just 4 months, but still I have learned to forgive others, not to harm anyone even in thoughts and be nice as a human being.




Nawal named it Ballerina and so the arms up in the air!
Beauty lies in the mind;inner-soul. Peace of mind and happiness are what everyone long for, and these are the ways through which people can have a good life and find complete happiness and joy. At times, people forget the purpose of life, many of them terminate their lives without hope.  When the human being realizes the purpose of life, an ordinary person can become a means of spreading guidance to hundreds of thousands of people. There are diamonds, gold, silver and pearls to be discovered inside human heart. So take a pause from your usual life, think about your goals, purpose or what you want from your life and go ahead. If you are on the right track, nothing to worry :) .. Think about how you were 10 years ago . If you are still the same, then  you will have to work on it.  We should grow as a person, learn to live, be happy, wipe off the negativities in life and take a U turn. Look at the kids and see how happy they are.. with no worries, no hatredness, love for others, excitement.. that's the inner self. that's how we are.. all these jealousies, hatredness etc. are our outerselves which we do not need actually. Snatch them out from our selves and live this life beautifully.


Smile and smile forever! :) Spread Love and no Hatred!  



This is a 'no-recipe' post as I have shared my  favourite chocolate cake before also. Girls were so happy to see this cake. It was made in a day; from dawn to dusk I must say; for my nieces who were leaving the same day. I was so busy that I couldn't take step by step pictures to share with you all the techniques behind this cake. 





Monday, 22 September 2014

X-Box Cake




I know how Moms go crazy planning their kids' birthdays.  I had been planning since two weeks before the day. I do not usually throw a party or make it a big affair; but  try to make them feel special; feel loved. This time I had something else in mind. I wanted to celebrate his birthday with his dearest and one and only friend, Achal. Both share birthdays on the same week. They are best of the buddies. Football or cricket they have their team of two and no 11. They came to this world on the same week, joined playschool together, has been going to school in the same bus since 6 years, play together and the most interesting thing is that we have never witnessed them fight or disagree or debate. Masha Allah! They complete each other. If one is childish, the other is matured; one is interested in sports and the other in intellect games. Their schoolmates complain that Razin sits disconnected with the world when alone and as soon as Achal gets into the bus, he rules the bus. That's their friendship is about and we love them and wish that they may stay connected like this for their entire life.. Aameen!

Thinking about a theme for the cake, X-Box came into mind as both love Xbox and play for hours on weekends.  I started making figurines  a week ago. This was my first experience with gumpaste and I've no artistic background with which I could make caricatures or resembles them in some way. For this I love Anna Austin and her cakes. Hats off to the lady! I wish you were somewhere here in this desert. :) So, coming to the cake , the first figurine was ok. The second one I tried with a half sleeve and something somewhere went wrong and it showed some feminine features. I was upset and no energy or time to redo everything. It already took 3-4 hours. When Naw came in,  I asked her whether she knew who were they on the couch. She said yes, Razikkaka( Razin bro) and Mom ! :( I was really sad. Even the 3 year old could recognize the femininity in that figure. I thought of changing the theme to either Mom n son or Sis n Bro... But still, I was upset as he would be more happier if it was Unni (Achal). So I asked suggestions from a few friends of mine and changed a bit here and there. This time it was much better. The cake decors out here can find many flaws in this.. but I was happy and so were the kids. Now I learned what is gumpaste and I'm sure I can make a better figurine next time, Insha Allah! Both were so happy and couldn't control their laughs; while my small one could recognize at the first glance and shouted its Unnikkaaka and Razikkaka.



This cake has 4 layers of which 2 are of vanilla flavor and 2 chocolate flavored; filled with chocolate buttercream and covered with dark chocolate ganache. I have shared this cake recipe many a times; but sharing again here in this post



For Vanilla cake, use this same recipe and for chocolate cake, take away 1/2 cup of flour and add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder to it.

Ingredients:
courtesy: Martha Stewart

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 170 C degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.
  3. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
  4. Place one cake, bottom side up, on a cake stand. Tuck strips of parchment paper underneath. Using an offset-spatula or table knife, spread top with Whipped Frosting. Top with remaining cake; frost top, then sides.

Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 50g Cooking chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • milk, to loosen


  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (Do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the surface of the water.)
  2. Beat the butter in a bowl until soft, then gradually beat in the icing sugar. Add the vanilla extract and fold in the melted chocolate until smooth (add a few drops of milk if the mixture is a little stiff).

 chocolate ganache

  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 300 plain chocolate


Heat the cream, vanilla extract, butter and chocolate in a heavy-based pan. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk the mixture until smooth and thickened.



Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Cheesy,Chicken & Corn Quesadilla with Avocado Dip




Quesadillas are Mexican wraps which could be made with no much fuss in your kitchen. These are excellent choice for those who are looking for easy breakfast or a light dinner. The most important part of any quesadilla is the filling.  You can play with your choice of filling which varies from vegetarian options like beans, corns,mushrooms, spinach etc. to non-vegetarian options like chicken or beef or a mix of both veg and non-veg. You can choose your favourite cheese also; mozarella, cheddar, parmesan ..anything!






When you decide the filling of your choice , next is to decide on the ways to cook it; whether to fry, grill,bake or panini press them. When you fry, you get crispy wraps as you can see in the picture, whereas a little care needed as if you place tortillas before oil is heated, it may end up in oily & soggy wraps. You can use your panini toasters for zero oil wraps. It's more easier and takes less time compared to frying. But it's not advisable for super-stuffed wraps. Baking is better when you make for your whole family in a bunch; and yes, less oil. You can grill your wraps when you are out for a BBQ.






Ingredients:

Tortillas    1 packet of 6
Onion      1/2 (medium)
Tomato           2 (medium,red & ripened)
Red chilli      2 
Coriander leaves   1 tbsp
Sweet corn        1 cup
Chicken           1 cup , pan-fried and shredded
Pepper            1/2 tsp
Salt
Cheddar cheese    1 1/2 cups




Method:

1. Prepare salsa. For this, chop onion and tomatoes into fine and small pieces. Mix these with chilli, salt and coriander leaves. Keep this aside.

2. Boil or steam sweetcorn till it is done. 

3. Marinate chicken with salt; heat pan and roast chicken with less oil. When cooled down, shred into pieces. Mix chicken and corn together and season with salt and pepper.

4. If you are frying:
Heat pan in slow flame and add a tsp of olive oil or butter and when it is hot, place tortillas on it in such a way that oil is coated on whole tortilla. Sprinkle 3-4 tbsp of cheese on it. Now top it with 3 tbsp of salsa. Layer chicken and corn mix on top of that; cheese again. Now close this with another tortilla and press nicely. Turn the quesadillas upside down and fry the other side too. When that side turn crispy brown, take it out onto a plate, cut into 4 pieces and serve. If you are making in huge batch, place the fried wraps in a preheated oven until the next wraps are fried to keep it warm.

You can make it moon shaped also. When you fill your wraps, fill in half and when cheese starts melting, close the wrap in half (crescent/semi-circle shape) and fry on both sides.

5. For baking(170C for 20-30 minutes) , grilling or toasting, prepare quesadillas, brush a little oil on top and then cook in oven, toaster or on grill. 

6. Serve hot as it is or with dips/sauces of your choice.



Avocado Dip:

Ingredients:

Avocado   1
Yogurt     3 tbsp
Tabasco sauce/ chilli sauce  -to taste

Method:

Mash avocado with fork until smooth and mix in yogurt and sauce. Dip is ready to serve !

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Yam Fries



Yam fry is a  very simple and tasty side dish. These could be made either spicy or non-spicy. Both are good in their own ways. Kids love this more than the spicy ones. They find this similar to their so called friend 'french fries'. And so they call these "kerala fries"  :) 



Ingredients:

Yam     3 cups
Turmeric powder   1 tsp
Salt   1/2 tsp or to taste
Oil to deep fry



Method:

Cut yam into small square chunks(1 cm cubes). Marinate these with turmeric powder and salt and let it stay for at least 15 minutes. Heat oil in a kadai(wok) ,enough to deep fry. Fry these yams in two batches in medium-high flame. The texture should be juicy inside and slightly crisp outside. When you fry in low flame, it will turn hard and in high flame it might turn undercooked inside. So take care of that. 







Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Mixed Seafood Biriyani




Mixed seafood biryani is my family's favourite dish since years. We can use any combination of seafood like prawns, mussels, clams,fish,squid,crabs etc. The choices are infinite. This way, your entire family is happy as there is a choice for them to have. Actually when you add fish only, the fishy smell/flavour predominates; whereas here, there is no such problem . A mixed flavour which is quite nice and devoured by all. The technique is as same as that in making Fish Biriyani.

 Ingredients:

Marinade: 
Mixed Seafood * - about 3/4 kg 
Red chilli powder
Salt
Pepper

Other ingredients:
Rice  2 1/2 cups
Ghee 1 tbsp
Oil 3 tbsp
Onion 300 gms/ 2 cups 
Ginger paste 2tbsp
Garlic paste 2 tbsp
Green Chillies 5 or more
Tomato 2 medium/ 1 1/2 cups
Red Chilli powder 1/2tsp
Coriander powder 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala ** 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves 3 tbsp
Mint leaves 2 tbsp

Method:


1. Marinate seafoods in marinade ingredients & keep refrigerated for about 1/2 an hr. Then shallow fry it. Keep a few pieces of prawns or some belly pieces of fish or so aside which could be used in masala.  


2.Wash rice atleast 3 times & drain. Make sure that no water is left behind.


3.Cut onions in chunks & pulse them in a food-processor or blender. Do not make paste of it. Just crush them. You can slice them too; but crushing makes it easier to cook.



4.Heat ghee & oil in a pan. Add crushed onions & saute for 2-3 minutes. Add ginger-garlic paste. Saute again for a minute more. You can either crush all of them together..ie; onion, ginger ,garlic and green chilly.

5.Now add tomatoes , red chilli powder & coriander powder. Cook masala nicely. Stir in between. Halfway through, add the reserved pieces (prawns etc.)which we kept aside. Cook till masala is done. It's okay if the fish in the masala break down into pieces.Add 1 tsp garam masala to this and turn off the flame.

6.By the time, cook rice. Add rice and salt to the boiling water and cook till done.Drain and keep aside

7. The dum : Take a large skillet. Layer a little rice at the bottom ; then masala; then rice,. Top with some garam masala( 1 1/2 tbsp) powder, coriander & mint leaves. If you are making in huge quantity, then you can layer masala in the middle also & then, repeat the procedure. Keep in dum for about 15 minutes.





10. Garam masala smells & tastes good if u make it at home freshly. I make it fresh ;a small quantity; whenever there are guests. It really smells awesome..









** Garam Masala (yields 2 tbsp)

Saunf 1 tsp
Cardamom 2
Clove 2
Cinnamon 1" stick
Black Cardamom 1(only the inner thing)
Nutmeg 1/2
Star anise 1/2
Mace 1

Heat this for min or 2 ..till a nice aroma gets out of it. then powder it using a garlic crusher.(spice crusher).



Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sambar using roasted spices

Making sambar using home-made masala is not a hectic job at all. My family love it this way. We hear lots of stories on readymade masalas(spices) like they include animal fats, that they do some sort of adulteration etc. etc. What's the need of readymade ones when we can make it in no time. If spending 5 minutes extra in kitchen can give you peace and health, then it's worth the risk.  It's always better to use home made stuffs as far as we can. It's not that I don't use readymade stuffs at all..but a big NO to masalas .. I make my own garam masala and use a blend of my own spices for chana masala,pav bhaji, tandoori chicken or sambar.  We bring home made red chilli,coriander and pepper powders all the way from India and all thanks to my aunts there who never say 'huff' to our orders. :) I can assure you that this sambar is as tasty as the ones made with store-bought spices. Follow the instructions and recipes to the point and you get to eat delicious sambar in no time.




INGREDIENTS

Shallots                       6 tbsp
Tomatoes                      3/4 cup
Green chilly                          2
Masoor Dal              1/4cup/ 6 tbsp
Turmeric powder              1/2 tsp
Tamarind(with seed)**    10 gm/ lemon sized 
Vegetable               500gms/ 1/2kg

To Grind:
Coconut oil         2tbsp
Fenugreek                   1/2 tsp
Cumin                         1 tsp
Garlic                          2
Asafoetida                   a generous pinch
Coconut                       3/4 cup
Curry leaves                3
Red chilli powder       1 tbsp
Coriander powder       1 tbsp

Tadka:
Coconut oil     4-5 tbsp
Mustard seeds    1 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves    8-10
Dried red chilli      3



METHOD:

1. Soak tamarind in hot water and squeeze to take pulp. 

2. Pressure cook dal alongwith turmeric powder, onion, tomatoes and tamarind pulp.

3. After one whistle, open the pressure cooker and add vegetables except brinjal/eggplant and ladyfingers. These cook really fast and so it's safer to add later. Close the lid and turn off the flame after one whistle. Open the lid immediately. Add eggplants and lady fingers to this. Keep it aside.

4. Heat oil in another pan and dry roast coconut with cumin, fenugreek and curry leaves till the coconut turns dark brown. Switch off the flame and add asafoetida,  red chilli and coriander powders to it. Saute for a few seconds till the raw smell goes. Let it cool.

5. Make a paste of this roasted coconut and spice mix using water enough to blend.

6. Pour this paste to the cooked gravy and simmer for about 5-6 minutes. Turn off the flame.

7. Heat 4-5 tbsp of coconut oil in another pan and splutter mustard seeds in it. Throw in red chillies and curry leaves. Pour this tadka over the gravy and close the lid. Let it remain closed for a minimum of 5 minutes.




** Adding tamarind at first gives a nice flavor to the vegetables and thus the sambar

Monday, 25 August 2014

Pumpkin Erissery /Mathanga erissery



Onam is near and these days people go crazy searching for recipes for vegetable side dishes and you can see lots and lots of recipes online or on screen. We don't celebrate Onam, but still never forget to order Sadya from restaurants as this is the only time we get to eat 14-16 types of curries with our Choru (rice) and 2 types of payasams too. ..yumm!! Otherwise who cares to cook so many side dishes. Cooking is not that tough compared to chopping. I always felt that's the most difficuilt and time consuming task while preparing Sadya. Ofcourse grating coconut, if you are in India, could be more difficuilt ; but here, that's a blessing when you have a Lulu or Manama (supermarkets) near ;) where you get grated coconuts any time of the year.


Ingredients:
(Reference:Marias Menu) though made my own variations

Mathanga/Pumpkin     500gms ( 3cups)
Turmeric                      1/2 tsp
Water                           1 cup
Red chilly powder       1/4tsp
Coconut                       4 tbsp (to garnish)
Oil                                1 tbsp

To Grind
Coconut                       1/2 cup
Cumin/Jeera                 1/4tsp
Green chilly                 2 or more
Pepper powder            1/4 tsp

To temper

Coconut oil                  2 tbsp
Mustard                        1/2 tsp
Curry leaves                 few
Shallots                         4





 Method:

1. Cook pumpkins with water, turmeric powder, salt and red chilly powder till it is done. Mash nicely and keep it aside.

2. Grind 1/2 cup coconut with jeera, pepper and red chilly powder. Add this to pumpkin. Let it boil and simmer for about 5-6 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and roast coconut (kept for garnishing) till it turns brown and crispy texture. Remove it on a plate. Heat oil in the same pan for tempering. Crackle mustard seeds in it and throw in curry leaves and shallots immediately. Fry till the onion turns brown. Pour this over mathanga. Mix well. Serve with roasted coconut garnished on top. 


Variations:

Try with cowpeas/ vanpayar added to mathanga. ie; 250gms mathanga and 1/2 cup cowpeas for this same recipe.

Roast coconut a little more time if you prefer it that way.



Saturday, 23 August 2014

Malabar Fish Curry with Saturday Snapshots#2

Perfection in cooking seafoods , I believe, is the most toughest to achieve among all other non-vegetarian dishes. My grandma and my aunt who stayed next to me during my initial days of cooking taught me to cook this simple fish curry with all their efforts.lol.. It came perfect when they guided me then and there, but flopped again when made alone. After many trials and errors, I learnt this and thanks to my blogging that I finally jotted down the exact recipe. 

When I was in my 1st Bcom, I had to cook lunch at home as my mom was in India busy with my sisters wedding. My uncle showed me to prepare fish curry and I asked him why didn't he add rice water to the curry. He laughed at me saying 'rice water?' .. I said 'yeah.. mom does so'.. He was not ready to accept the fact that rice water goes into the making of fish curry. He then told my dad about this and my dad started laughing too. I was pretty sure about that but both of them couldn't accept it. After a few days when my mom came back I told about this and she said 'why did you tell them? This is kept as a secret among ladies and no men or outsiders know about this. We add rice to the grinder hiding our sister-in-laws also. ' I started noticing this after that and what I found was really interesting. My aunts and all after adding spices to the machine , say something and all to their sis in laws so that their attention diverts and by that time they added rice to the machine... lol.. I don't know why they have to keep this secret. But anyways, I have never seen rice water added to the curries except in some regions of Kannur. 



This is a very simple curry, made on a daily basis which could be served with plain dosas, appams, rice etc. The flavour of the curry varies with the fish we use; whether king fish, pomfret, small fishes etc.; any fish could be made with this recipe



INGREDIENTS:

Fish                              1/2 kg


Oil                                3 tbsp
Onion sliced                 3 tbsp
Ginger crushed             1 tsp
Fenugreek/uluva           1 tsp
Green chilli                   1
Tomato , chopped         1/2 of a medium sized
Red chilli powder         2 tsp
Turmeric powder         1/4 tsp
Cooked parboiled rice  3 tbsp
Water                            1 1/2 cups
Tamarind                       1 small ball
Curry leaves                  few



Saturday Snapshots Click #2 sending to Merry Tummy and Siris Food

METHOD:


1. Keep everything ready beforehand as you don't get time to do it in between. Slice onions, crush ginger, chop tomato,clean fish , soak tamarind in 4-5 tbsp of water etc.

2.Grind cooked rice with water and spice powders in a blender.

3. Heat oil in a chatti (curry pot) and add 2-3 slices of onion and fry until it turns brown.

4. Add fenugreek and ginger; saute for a few seconds.

5. Throw in green chilli , tomatoes ; saute again for 20-30 seconds.

6. Pour the blended juice of rice and powders to this. Let this boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.

7. Add tamarind juice to it.

8. When it boils, keep the flame high and add fish to it. Let it boil again and then add salt.

9. Keep the flame low and let it simmer ,covered, for 10-15 minutes or until the fish cooks. Do not stir with spoon. Rotate the pan in between. Add curry leaves to this, close the lid and then switch off flame.  Let it remain for a minimum of 5 minutes before opening the lid.







Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Heavenly Delight



The name says it! It's heavenly delicious. This 'melt-in-your-mouth' recipe was a hit when I had posted this on a recipe sharing group named Friends Cookys; 4 years ago.  I was in search of a name for this recipe, when one of my FB friends, Najiya Aziz, suggested this name.. Heavenly Delight.  The bottom layer of breads dipped in coffee, two layers of cream flavored with caramel and dreamwhip powder and a biscuits layer in between .. all together proved justice to the name. 


INGREDIENTS
(Prepared by Hanan)

White Bread                        a few pieces
Marie biscuits                      enough for the layer
Instant coffee                       3 tbsp
Creme-caramel sachet*.      1
Dream whip powder**.         1
Nestle tin cream                   2
Condensed milk                  1 tin
Gelatin                                 2 tsp
Sugar if required

1. Prepare strong black coffee with 2 cups water, 3 tbsp coffee and the caramel sachet (inside the Creme-caramel pack). Let it cool down.


2. Take a small pudding tray and keep it aside.

3. Dip bread in this coffee and then strain the coffee out by pressing in between your palms.

Layer this in the pudding tray.

4. Beat 1 nestle cream, dream whip powder & 1/2 condensed milk in a bowl.

5. In another bowl, beat the other nestle cream, remaining half of the condensed milk,caramel powder & sugar if required.

Keep both these bowls aside.

6. Dissolve gelatin in hot water (not boiling) & add half of this to both the bowls. Mix well.

7. Pour the first cream mixture on top of the bread layer.


8. T
hen layer biscuits dipped in coffee on top of that.

9. Then pour the next cream mixture.
let it set in refrigerator and serve cold.



*Instant Creme Caramel pack is used here. Two sachets are available inside the pack;one is caramel sachet and the other is Creme sachet. Both are used separately in this recipe. 

** Dreamwhip is whipping powder. You can use any brand. No need to whip first.Only the powders are used.