Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pavakka/Kaipakka/Bitter gourd Kondattam Easy'N Healthy

Today I thought of sharing an easy, healthy and quick recipe for Pavakka/Kaipakka Kondattam. Typically making  kondattam  is a long process; the veggies  used  are marinated and sun dried and the process needs to be repeated for a few days. The veggies preserved as kondattam are later fried in oil before they are used. In this quick version there is no frying and no waiting for days before it is dry enough to fry. So if you are longing for some quick and healthy version without compromising the taste, I would recommend trying this. I am sure you will surely fall in love with this. 
1 medium size - Bitter gourd
1/2 tsp - Red chili powder
1/2 tsp - Turmeric powder
2 to 3 tbsp - Greek Yogurt / Sour cream
1/8 tsp -Hing Asafoetida
2 tsp -Oil
salt to taste

Cut bitter gourd to thin round rings. Mix all the ingredients together. Grease a microwave-safe plate. Arrange bitter gourd on the plate in a single layer. You will need to microwave for 9 to 11 minutes. depending on the power of your microwave. Don't cook for 9 minutes at one go. Cook for 2 minutes, stop, stir the rings and repeat for 2 minutes  for four times (8 minutes in total). Now microwave for 1 minute   then check if bitter gourd is crisp. If not microwave for 30 seconds and check if needed repeat another 30 seconds. My bitter gourds were crisp at 9 minutes.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Summer Delight

This was a salad that I put together with whatever ingredients I had in my pantry on a warm summer day. It turned out to be such a hit with my family that this and its variants have become  almost a regular go to salad in our diet. What makes it so delicious is the way the different tastes and flavors complement each other. We have tried variants of this substituting watermelon with apple, strawberry, pineapple and pear and also trying it out with spinach in place of lettuce.

Lettuce- 4 cups
Watermelon-2 cup
Onion-1/2 cup
Feta cheese-1/4 cup
Pepper flakes-1tsp
Black pepper-1/2 tsp
Salt-1/4 tsp
Garlic- 1 crushed
Lemon-2 tbs
Mix together everything and serve. I prefer mixing feta towards the end of mixing.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cream Caramel / Flan (Pressure Cooker)

Today Jai and I celebrated our 14 years of marriage. To sweeten an already sweet day I prepared
Cream Caramel / Flan in the pressure cooker. This method is faster than the oven method. Taste-wise I think both versions taste the same.

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 cups heavy cream/Half &Half/Whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
5 eggs
Pinch salt
To make the caramel: have ready a 2-quart round flan mold . Combine 1 cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy-bottomed pot or pan. Place over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar begins to melt. Swirl the pan over the heat until the syrup darkens to a medium amber color, about 10 minutes; don't stir with a spoon. Remove from the heat and immediately add the lemon juice, swirl the pan again to combine, and then pour into the flan mold. Tilt the dish so that the caramel evenly coats the bottom and a bit up the sides, place in the roasting pan and set aside.

Microwave the cream to room temperature.In a large bowl, cream together the whole eggs with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar; add a pinch of salt. Whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick. Add egg mixture to cream ; Add vanilla. Pass the mixture through a strainer into a large measuring cup to ensure that the flan will be perfectly smooth. Pour the custard into the caramel-coated mold cover with an aluminum foil. Place in pressure cooker which has 2 inches of water in bottom. 
Cook for 20 minutes after the placing the whistle/weight after steam starts to escape.  If you are cooking the flan in individual cups or ramekins pressure cooking time can be reduced to 7 to 8 minutes.Let the pressure release by itself do not force release and open the cooker.

 Let the flan cool in the water bath, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to serve, run a knife around the inside of the mold to loosen the flan. Place a dessert plate on top of the flan and invert to pop it out.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pazha Pradhaman

It is the Onam season again! Onasamsakal to all my friends who are celebrating Onam!
If you are in Kerala during this time of the year, you would be seeing bananas (or plantains as they are called in the US) in every shop and in every house. This is the season for nenthrappzham - it is used for making banana chips, paysam, pazham varattiyathu, sharkara varatti, pazham nurukku and in many other forms.
Here is a delicious payasam recipe using bananas to sweeten your Onam this year.

Ingredients :
Ripe banana/Nenthrappazham- 3
Jaggery -  300gm
Ghee : 5tbsp
Dried Coconut Slices -1/4 Cup, cut into thin slices
Cashews - 1tbsp
Raisins - 1tbsp
Roasted cumin Powder / Dry ginger and cardamom powder- 1/2tsp
Thick Coconut milk - 3/4 Cup
Thin coconut milk -3 Cups

Make a syrup of jaggery  by adding water and filter the syrup and set aside.
Pressure cook the skinned bananas and keep aside to cool. Mash the cooked banana, there should not be any lumps.
In a heavy bottom vessel, heat 3tbsp of ghee and golden fry the dry coconut slices, cashews and raisins ,set this aside. Add the mashed banana along with the remaining ghee along cook till it starts to thicken. Now add the jaggery syrup. Keep stirring when it becomes the consistency of fruit jelly add 2 cups of  thin coconut milk. When it start to boil add cumin powder( if you prefer the aroma of cardamom and dry ginger add it instead but at the end.) mixed in the remaining 1 cup of thin coconut milk. When the pradhaman stats to get thick remove from the stove and add the thick coconut  milk . Finally garnish it with the fried coconut slices, cashews and raisins. Pazha Pradhaman tastes best when cold.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fruit filled sponge cake

Today is Jay's birthday and he wanted a cake that is not overly sweet.  As mentioned earlier he doesn't like anything too sweet.  And so I thought why not make him a fruit cake with whipped cream which is sweetened to his likeness.  So here is the cake I baked, it is not too sweet and  heavy as the usual butter cream or cream cheese cakes.
As expected Jai loved his cake and  even had a second helping. So if you or your loved ones love a 'not so sweet' cake that is light and refreshing give this a try.
Happy Birthday Sweetheart !
Recipe Source: Woodland bakery
Ingredients for the cake:
Large Eggs at room temperature-4
Granulated  sugar-2 cups
Whole Milk 1 cup
Unsalted Butter 8 Tablespoons
Vanilla Extract  1 Tablespoon
All Purpose Flour -2 cups
Baking Powder -2 teaspoon
Salt -1/4 teaspoon


In the bowl whip the room temperature eggs on high speed with the whip attachment until foamy, then gradually start adding in your sugar very slowly.

The eggs will take about 5 – 7 minutes to reach the ribbon stage, so in the meantime you can heat your milk and butter together in the microwave or on the stove top  and reserve to keep warm- you will want to add this to the mixture  while it is still warm/hot.

Also have your flour and baking powder and salt sifted together to aerate and lighten.

The ribbon stage is a stage where the egg/sugar mixture is very light in color, very thick and when lift your whip attachment and the batter runs back into the bowl it makes a ribbon effect before disappearing back into the mixture. You can also do a “figure 8″ pattern with the mixture and if it stays visible for a few seconds before disappearing you know you have achieved ribbon stage.

At this point add in all of the dry ingredients at once with the mixer OFF first  and then on low speed mix in the dry mixture.  You can gradually go up to a higher speed to make sure it is all incorporated evenly.

Next you will prepare a liaison with the hot milk and melted butter mixture. A liaison is a technique in which rather than dumping the liquids straight into the main batter causing deflating of this delicate foam we took such care to achieve;  you will take out about 2 cups of the cake batter into a separate mixing bowl, and with a hand whisk add the hot liquids to THAT 2 cups of batter.  Whisk it all together and then proceed to add this liaison to the orginal cake batter in the  bowl.

Add the vanilla extract last and pour into prepared pans.

Bake this cake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 F to continue baking UNTIL IT’S DONE !

The cake is done when you gently press the center and it springs back immediately.

Also, this cake recipe is a foaming egg sponge, so it is naturally going to be a DRY  cake due to very low amounts of fat in the recipe.
It lends itself nicely to having a Simple Syrup brushed on the layers to add moisture

Ingredients for the Frosting:

2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
8 teaspoons cold water
2 cup heavy whipping cream (35%)
1/2cup sifted icing sugar (confectioners sugar)

In a small microwaveable bowl, combine gelatin and cold water; let stand until thick. Microwave the gelatin for 10 seconds,cool (do not allow it to set).
Whip the cream with the icing sugar, until slightly thick.While slowly beating, add the gelatin to whipping cream.Whip at high speed until stiff.

Final steps:
Chop up some fruits and mix it to one cup of whipping cream Remember to leave a good amount for frosting the tops and sides of your cake!!

Once your cakes have cooled, take a serrated knife and cut into each one. Take your fruit filling and begin to assemble your cakes, one layer at a time. Frost the tops and sides and decorate with fresh fruit/berries of your choice. Drizzle tops with the simple syrup. Place in fridge until ready to eat.
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