Monday, November 29, 2010

Holidays, Travels, Luggages + Malaysian "Lacey Crepe" Click

Now that its officially holiday season, I bet you folks are all geared up for travel, either to spend some quality time with family and friends or to an exotic location for a new holiday experience. Whatever the case, you will definitely need luggage sets for travel.

Everyone knows that spinner luggage makes travel a breeze than the regular one. I am so in love with this matching spinner luggage set from Britto Collection by Heys. With its electrifying exterior there will not be a problem spotting this on the baggage carousel. So no baggage switch and other headaches that follow that. At $1000+ bucks, its a bit on the pricey side but I bet its totally worth it.
I don't know a lady who doesn't travel without a cosmetic case/travel pouch. For $80 bucks you get Tony Perotti's "Green collection" leather 3-sized cases that gives you the versatility to pack bigger jars in bigger cases for check-ins and smaller ones for carry-ons.
I am a girl who loves all shades of Red and Pink.This Delsey Helium Trolley has my name written all over it.
People who love to take their laptop wherever they go would love this Tumi expandable laptop bag that is efficient, classy and distinctive.
Happy Holidays and Happy Travels. Click the above link to check for other choices.

Here is something else to look forward to- An Upcoming Post for Malaysian "Lacey Crepe/Net Bread":

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Cuisinart CSB-77 Smart Stick Hand Blender with Whisk and Chopper Attachments

After a long thought about investing in an immersion blender, I decided to go with the Cuisinart Smart Stick mainly because I loved the sleek finish of the hand blender and also because it came with a small chopper attachment that will eliminate the need to reach out to my big food processor for cutting onions, veggies and such.

I am very happy with the blender cause it makes making soups, smoothies and bisque(s) a breeze.Take this creamy red lentil soup that I made a few days ago-- it went from coarse/chunky to creamy in a matter of 5-10 seconds. I didn't have to wait for it to cool down, pour into a blender and do it in batches.Totally love the mixing/measuring cup with graduated markings. The chopper isn't the best of best and the whisk could be a little heavier. But if you are looking for a moderately priced, elegant and efficient hand blender for soups, smoothies and bisque you can invest in this Cuisinart smart stick hand blender, available at for $50 bucks with Free Shipping.

Creamy Red Lentil Soup, a simple and satisfying winter indulgence. The beautiful porcelain footed rice/cereal bowl that you see in the pictures are from csnstores too. I got 6 for $30 bucks.I eat my morning cereals, rice and noodle lunch, soups in the multi-taking bowl that is just the right size for me.

  • 1 Cup Red Lentils, Cleaned and drained of water
  • 2 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 2 Small Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Large Onion
  • 1 Dry Red Chili(2 if you are up for it)
  • 2 Stalks Mint
  • 3 Cups Water or  2 Cups Water + 1 Cup Milk
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt for taste
  • In a soup pot, heat 3 tbsp of olive oil.
  • Add the chopped onions and mint leaves. Saute till the onions are translucent.
  • Throw in the vegetables, chili and fry for 2 minutes.
  • Drain the cleaned lentils and add it to the pan.
  • Pour water or water-milk combo and bring the contents to a boil with lid-on.
  • Add salt some 15 minutes later, check for taste and puree the contents using an immersion blender.
  • Transfer the creamy soup into a serving bowl. 
Makes 4 Generous Servings.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Easy Egg Bhurji "Indian Style Scrambled Eggs"

Bhurji: A damp curry. Egg Bhurji: Indianized scrambled eggs.

Egg bhurji is made with onions, green chili with optional use of spices and tomatoes.Its so versatile that its wide open for a multitude of adaptations. The preparation is very easy that even my 3-year old can do it, if I allow him that is. When I am at loss for what to make, this is what I end up doing as eggs are something that I have in my fridge always. Always.

  • 5 Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Whole milk
  • 1 Small Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Green Chili, finely chopped
  • 2 Stalks Cilantro, finely diced
  • A few grinds of the Pepper mill
  • Salt as needed
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil or more
  • Break the eggs into a bowl.
  • Add the cracked pepper, salt and milk.Whisk them to a frothy mixture.
  • Heat the Olive Oil in a pan. Add the green chili and chopped onions. Saute till the onions are well browned.
  • Add the egg mixture, stirring constantly with a spatula till they start forming into small clumps or even before. I like them well cooked.
  • Switch off the stove and add the chopped cilantro. 


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Maharashtrian Style Chicken

This is yet another recipe from Anjum's New Indian cookbook. Well, it was time for me to put that "Goda masala" to test and see how it fared in a chicken curry. Oh boy, was I blown away? My taste-buds were rejoicing all the while I was munching on tender juicy pieces of chicken that were perfectly spiced and cooked just right.
Sending this and Baked Orange Marmalade and Teriyaki Glazed Chicken Wings/Thighs, Chettinaad Chicken Chukka, Baked Crispy Masala Chicken, Quick-Bake Masala Chicken to Chicken Recipes Event at "My Culinary Creations"
  • 6 Chicken Thighs with Bones, skinned and halved
  • 2 Small Onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Cocktail Tomatoes or any small tomatoes, pureed
  • 5 Green Chili, poked but left whole
  • 1 Tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste (or) 1/4 Inch Ginger and 5 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Goda Masala powder
  • 1 Tsp Garam Masala powder
  • 1 Tsp Tamarind Paste (Optional)
  • 1 Tsp Cracked Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt as needed
For Marinating the Chicken:
  • 1 Tbsp Thick Yogurt
  • 1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Cracked Pepper
  • 1/8 Tsp Salt
  • Cast Iron Pan
  • Marinate the chicken for 4 hours, preferably overnight, with the ingredients under "marinade".
  • Heat a tbsp of oil and brown the chicken. Set aside.
  • Add the remaining tbsp of oil to the same pan and brown the onions.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste a couple of minutes later and fry till it loses raw smell.
  • Add the pureed tomato, spice powder, mint and green chili along with a little water.Bring to a boil.
  • Transfer the browned chicken, salt, cracked pepper and lid the pan. Cook on medium heat for 7-8 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the tamarind juice/paste, if using, and cook for 5 more minutes with lid.
  • Remove the lid and keep stirring gently until all the moisture is evaporated and the gravy clings to the chicken.
  • Serve with a steaming bowl of cooked rice.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pear Upside-Down Cake

A couple of weeks ago I was telling hubby my desire to configure servers, enlighten myself with the aspects of complex networking, setting up firewalls, configuring DBs and such.You get the idea? So he placed an order for a brand-new server. While I was eagerly waiting for the FedEx guy to come knocking my door, hubby's friend caught wind of this and decided to give(gift) me a server for free.Umm nearly free. So I have a couple of servers at my disposal. Lucky me!
So when hubby went to pick up the server, I had to make something for his considerate friend. Him and his family are strict vegetarians.So I wanted to make something strictly that is egg-free.Keeping in mind that I had 3 ripe Bartlett pears begging to be consumed, I browsed and found a recipe to my liking. And I ended up baking this egg-less version of a recipe I found from Martha's website.Aside from taking a couple of wedges for the pictures, I packed everything else. I have to say this was the tastiest and sweetest cake I ever made. Well, this recipe is from Martha's website. What more assurance does one need? I knew how it was going to turn out even before I bit into a luscious wedge. The sugar in the topping gets gooey when baking and once you invert it, the gooey goodness slowly sinks into the cake making it utterly moist and scrumptious. And yes, the flavor improves over time. So make sure to make it at-least a day before serving.

Sending this and Blueberry CoffeeCake With Streusel Topping, Cinnamon,Sugar and Raisins stuffed baked apples and Cherry Cake as an entry to this month's Monthly Mingle "Baking With Fruit" at Deeba's, brainchild of Meeta@ What's for lunch Honey.
For The Topping:
  • 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed (Original calls for "Light")
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Ripe Bartlett Pears
For The Cake Batter:
  • 1-1/2 Cups King Arthur All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Milk
  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Hodgson Mill Pure Cornstarch
  • 1 Ripe Banana, smashed
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 9-1/2" Round Cake Pan
  • Prepare the Topping: In a non-stick pan, melt the butter and dark-brown sugar till the sugar dissolves.
  • Grease the Cake pan with a little butter.
  • Pour the sugar mixture and spread it evenly.
  • Peel, core and cut the pears into 1/4" thick wedges. Arrange the pears in a circular fashion.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Puree the banana and set the pulp aside.
  • Sift together baking powder, flour and cornstarch.
  • Combine oil, sugar, banana pulp together using an electric mixer. Add salt, milk and vanilla extract.
  • Add flour in batches to the combine. 
  • Pour the batter on the top of the arranged Pears in the pan.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until the toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Invert the cake onto a plate or serving dish.
  • Cool the cake and cut it into wedges.
Makes 7-8 servings.

  • If you'd rather use eggs, replace the banana and cornstarch with 2 eggs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: "Anjum's New Indian" Cookbook Review + Maharashtrian Goda Masala

Who is Anjum Anand? This very same question was on my mind some 6 months ago. But that was before I became enamored to her "Indian Cooking made easy" show on Cooking channel, spin-off of Food Network. She may be relatively less-known in the US but she is a superstar in UK. And she has been famously dubbed as the "Indian Nigella Lawson" and Television's Tastiest Chef. :)
Anjum's New Indian cookbook is the latest offering from this extremely talented chef cum author. When I was asked to do a book review, I was eager to get my hands on the very handsome paperback book that is filled with plenty of easy to cook regional recipes from all over India. These recipes are backed up by page after page of gorgeous color photography. Whether you are a meat lover or a vegetarian eater, there are plenty of recipes to whet everyone's appetite. The book is neatly organized into chapters like Light Meals and Snacks, Fish and Seafood, Chicken, Meat, Vegetables and Dessert. The recipes have crisp and clear instructions that even a novice cook can follow.All of the recipes use easily available ingredients that one can find in the Supermarket/Asian stores. Additionally this 256-pages book has an alphabetical list of useful terminology, a glossary if you will, that is a big plus for anyone who is relatively new to Indian Cooking. Overall this book is a bonafide hit. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to try fuss-free Indian recipes at home.So what are you waiting for? Now that holiday season is almost upon us, make sure to get a copy of this book for yourself and for your friends/family from here.

Look forward to seeing more recipes from Anjum's New Indian. Here is a recipe for a Masala that Anjum uses in many of her recipes in the book-

Anjum's Maharashtrian Goda Masala(Spice Powder):
This is a very fragrant mixed spice powder that can be used to flavor a bunch of curries, khorma and such.This is a very popular masala powder used in the state of Maharashtra. Anjum suggests to store this masala in an air-tight container and finish off within 3 months. Warning: This is quite an intense mix of blend. So less is more.

  • 4 Tbsp Dessicated Coconut Flakes
  • 2 Tbsp White Sesame Seeds
  • 7 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 2 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 8 Cloves
  • 2 Black Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Large Dry Red Chili
  • 1 3" Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Stalk Curry Leaves(Optional)
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Olive Oil
  • Dry fry these ingredients "separately" until they are browned: Coconut, Sesame Seeds, Coriander Seeds.
  • Heat the oil in a thick shallow skillet.
  • Add all the other ingredients and stir till they start emitting aroma and the cumin seeds are dark brown in color. (Watch out for hot splashes from the pan as the Peppercorns start splitting)
  • Cool the ingredients and add them to a blender.
  • Grind them into a fine powder.
  • Store the powder in an air-tight container for upto 3 months.
Taro Root Fry using Goda Masala:
  • 12 medium Taro Root, fully cooked but firm to touch
  • 1 Tsp Goda Masala
  • 1 Tsp Cracked Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds
  • Salt for taste
  • 1 Stalk Curry leaves, optional
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Peel and halve the cooked Taro.
  • Heat the oil in the pan.Add the mustard seeds. Once they start sputtering, add the cut taro.
  • Saute them until they start to brown in spots.
  • Sprinkle the Masala powder, Cracked Pepper and salt.
  • Splash a little water and fry gently until they are really browned and crisped at the edges.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

String Hoppers

"String Hoppers" has me by the string(s). I would certainly want this as one of dish in my "last meal".This is a very popular breakfast dish in South India and also in Srilanka. Its called as "Idiyappam" or "Sevai" where I hail from. Its easily digestible since its steamed and good for the very young, young and the old alike.People who are curious and eager to taste this will have to make it at home cause this is not something you will find in a restaurant menu. Well that seems to be the case where I live atleast. Making String hoppers is not rocket science but a bit strenuous.Still I am making this frequently cause MIL is around to help.
"String Hopper Flour" is nothing but steamed rice flour.To make it from scratch involves the following - Rice gets soaked for 4-5 hrs and then dried partially so they are moist but not dripping with water. Then they are ground to powder form after which they are steamed for god knows how long. Then they are sifted and stored in an air-tight container for about 6 months. **Phew**. Ready-made flour is easily available in Indian stores for which I have to thank my lucky stars.
  • 4 and 3/8th of a Cups(1.1 lbs/500g)  String Hopper Flour(I used "Anil" Brand)
  • 1-3/4 to 2 Cups Hot Water
  • 1/4 Tsp, Salt
  • Oil for Greasing 
  • Idiyappam Press or Vermicelli Press (I used authentic wooden Idiyappam press that has 2 parts. Bottom part has a cavity to stuff the flour and the top part is a press that pushes down on the flour to make noodles)
    • Add the flour and salt to a heat resistant pan.
    • Add 1-3/4 cups of hot water to the flour and quickly mix it with the "wooden handle" of a wooden spoon until the dough gets lumpy.Hands cannot handle the heat at this point.
    • Close the pan with a lid and let the dough rest for 2-3 minutes.
    • Grease the palm with little oil and knead the dough to a smooth consistency.
    • Take a lemon-sized dough and shape it into oblongs.(Lid the pan to keep the remaining dough moist. Its tough to make noodles with dry dough. You get the idea?)
    • Grease the cavity of the mold with little oil and press the dough inside.
    • Press the top part of the mold into the cavity and give gentle pressure.
    • Start making noodles like the ones in the picture.
    • Steam the noodle cakes for 10 minutes.
    Yields ~30-35 Noodle Cakes


    Friday, November 12, 2010

    GastronomicGallivant: Mozambique "Piri Piri Prawns"

    Well, I couldn't find Piri Piri, an african chili( also known as "African Red Devil"), to make this Mozambique sauce. Jalapeno is a good substitute for it. I have been wanting to make this ever since I saw this mentioned in an episode of "Ask Aida" in the Food Network. It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? It was spicy, but not unbearably so. And it took me less than 30 minutes to make it. How cool is that?
    • 15-20 Tiger Prawns, de-veined and shelled
    • 1 Jalapeno, seeds removed
    • 4 Tbsp Onions, finely chopped
    • 1/2 Campari Tomato
    • 4 Tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped
    • 1/2 Tsp Cracked Black Pepper
    • 1 Tbsp Lime Juice
    • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
    • 1 Tsp Chili Powder
    • Olive Oil for shallow frying
    • Add the cleaned prawns to a bowl.
    • Puree all the other ingredients in a blender and pour over the prawns.
    • Marinate them for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
    • Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a non stick pan and shallow-fry the marinated prawns in batches. 
    • Cook the prawns for 2-3 minutes per side or until they are turn opaque.
    • Enjoy it as is or as a side to Lime Rice.