Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Appam and Egg curry

The two best friends.. appam and egg curry. Although I love chicken, I still prefer egg curry with appam. This has been my favourite since childhood and now I get to finally pass on the "appammania" to my baby. My 10 months old baby had appam for the first time today and absolutely loved it. What more, he had egg curry too! Of coarse the curry was customised for him but tasted just as good as what I normally would make. 

Everyone has their own style of making appams with two things in common, rice and fresh coconut. I have also omitted baking soda and/or yeast as they turn out fairly bubbly after fermenting (just like dosa, idli)

Ingredients for Appam 

1 cup rice
2 cups coconut water
Tender coconut of one coconut
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
Baking soda (Optional, for extra fluffiness)

Wash rice thoroughly and add coconut water to it. Leave it for fermenting for at least 6 hours. If you are planning for dinner then you can start the process in the morning. After 6 hours, grind the rice and coconut water along with tender coconut, sugar, salt.

Let it stand for another hour.

The batter should look like this.

If you want to add soda, do so just before making appams. The appams shown in the pictures do not have soda.

Traditionally, appams are made in appachetti which sadly I do not have :( tch tch. So I make them in regular non stick pan which is why the appams in the picture look flat. 

You need to make appams on medium heat. Ladle some batter on to the pan in the centre and gently spread in all directions. While pouring the batter, simmer the flame, then increase the flame to medium and cover with a lid for about 50 seconds. They don't usually stick to the pan but if they do then take few drops of oil on a tissue paper and wipe the pan before each use.

Most of us with the habit of making dosas will get tempted to add oil at the time of frying.. its actually not required but I myself ended up adding oil and then realised!

They are done when the sides start to come off from the pan. 

For that perfect white appam, do not flip the appam, also there is no need. I was being extra cautious because of the kid. 

Your appam is ready.. enjoy! :-)

Oh wait, you need egg curry too. So here is my baby friendly egg curry which tastes as good as normal egg curry.

If you don't eat eggs then vegetable stew, chole curry or soya chunks curry are good options.

Ingredients for Egg curry

4 Eggs
1 tsp ginger and garlic paste
2 onions finely chopped or pureed
3 tomatoes finely chopped or pureed
2 tsp coriander powder
Salt and chilli powder as per taste
2 tbsp oil or ghee

Heat oil in kadhai, add onions, ginger and garlic, fry till onions turn transparent. Add tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Add coriander powder, turmeric, salt, chilli powder and mix well. Add water till the gravy is completely under water. 

Simmer the flame. Break eggs into the gravy by leaving some gap between them. Do not mix or stir. Just cover the lid and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook till excess water evaporates.

Egg curry is ready!

Enjoy Appam and egg curry :-)

Some people have doubts about giving fermented food to babies. 
My answer is simple, if you are giving idli, dosa then you can give appam too. 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

How to make chocolate ganache

So what is chocolate ganache?

It is a smooth mix of chocolate and cream which is widely used for cake icing, filling in pastries or a sauce to go with your ice cream or pancakes. Apart from chocolate and cream, it can sometimes also have sugar, cornstarch, glucose syrup. Sugar is mainly for enhancing the sweetness whereas cornstarch and glucose syrup gives the ganache a glossy look.

Ganache can be runny to extremely thick based on the cream to chocolate ratio. Thickness increases with amount of chocolate. Equal weights of cream and chocolate gives the perfect consistency for icing cakes easily. You can simply pour it on the cake and refrigerate for the ganache to set. It takes about 20 minutes. When icing with ganache, use it when its warm otherwise it starts to set. If its too hot it will simply run down, so it should be just warm.

The moment you add more chocolate than cream, the ganache wouldn't be of pouring consistency and you will have to use a spatula to spread it evenly across the cake. This type of thick ganache is generally used for making truffles.

The type of chocolate you are using will define the flavor of ganache. If I start talking about different types of chocolate, it can take up an entire blog, will do that some other time, just a brief overview for now..

There is real chocolate also called couverture and then there is compound chocolate which most of us use in baking. The difference is that the real chocolate has chocolate liquor and cocoa butter where as a compound chocolate has cocoa powder and vegetable fats. If you have baking chocolate lying in your refrigerator, go check what it is! Real chocolate is richer in taste because it is after all the real thing! Compound chocolate mimics a real chocolate. That being said, not many people can tell the difference so its okay to use compound, but you wont get that natural glossy finish that real chocolate gives. Well, there is a workaround for that too! Its called cornstarch or glucose syrup!!! I will share the recipe of glossy ganache using both chocolates.

Here is the chocolate that I use -

Enough said, now lets jump to the recipe!

Things/tools required-

1) Silicone spatula

2) Weighing scale 
- I can not do without this. Its one of the best and cheapest kitchen tools to invest in. I have this one.. my bro in law got me one of these in US. I have been using it for over 3 years now without any issues. It is available on Amazon India too, am hoping its the same one and not a duplicate - http://www.amazon.in/Bulfyss-Electronic-Kitchen-Digital-Weighing/dp/B00MKA9WXO/ref=sr_1_1?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1469983350&sr=8-1&keywords=kitchen+weighing+scale

Lets get started with chocolate ganache!

First things first, taste your chocolate, if its sweet enough for you then omit sugar or add sugar as per taste. If you are true chocolate fan, go for dark chocolate (at least 75%)

Ingredients (With Couverture aka real chocolate. Sufficient for 9" cake icing)

100 gms chocolate
100 gms cream (I use Amul cream)
Sugar (Optional, as per taste. Preferably powdered)

Melting chocolate in microwave-

Chop the chocolate into really tiny pieces and heat in microwave in short intervals. Initially 15 seconds, until the chocolate begins to melt. Then 10 seconds until it melts completely. After every interval, mix the chocolate using silicone spatula to ensure even distribution of heat. Uneven heat can result in chocolate getting burnt.
[ps: Burnt chocolate doesn't turn black in color, it seizes and doesn't melt anymore.]

Heat the cream until bubbles appear around the corners (boiling is not required). Stay close and turn

off the heat as soon as the bubbles appear. Add sugar and mix thoroughly.

Pour the cream into the chocolate and mix thoroughly using silicone spatula. I stress on silicone spatula because its much more convenient when working with chocolate or any other icing.

Once cream and chocolate have blended, what you have is Ganache.

Set aside until the temperature is a little over room temperature. You need to be present through out the process as it happens all too quickly.

The cake should be at room temperature.

Once ganache is warm, you can pour it on top first and then on the side by turning the cake as you pour. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Your ganache cake is ready :-)

Note: Ganache made from real chocolate is naturally glossy.

Storage and re-use is discussed in the end.

Ingredients (Using compound chocolate. Sufficient for 9" cake icing)

100 gms chocolate
100 gms cream (I use Amul cream)
2 tbsp Light corn syrup
Sugar (Optional, as per taste)

All steps are same as with real chocolate. You just need to heat the cream and corn syrup together before adding to chocolate.

Left over ganache can be refrigerated and reused by heating in microwave at short intervals.

Please visit this link for basic cake decoration tips.

Basic cake decoration tips

Continuing with my previous blog on eggless sprouted wheat flour chocolate cake.. here is how I decorated the cake. 

First off, steps involved-

1) Choose the type of icing. Broadly speaking, there are 2 types of icing. One is buttercream and the other is chocolate ganache. You can produce hundreds of varieties in each one of them or even mixing the two. I am not much of a cream fan, so I prefer chocolate ganache, but I do sometimes use buttercream for crumb coat (Step 2).

Other than these two, there are several other yummy icings like cream cheese variations, fruit compote (different berries or in combination).

2) Crumb coat - Not all decorators do this but I swear by it. Crumb coat, also called dirty coat helps in giving a smooth finish to your decoration. It is a thin layer of coat on cake just after it has cooled down completely. After coating, refrigerate the cake for about 20 minutes to set the coating. What it does is, it forms a layer between cake and your final icing, so the end result doesn't look uneven and it also keeps the cake crumbs in check.

Q: How to do a crumb coat?

A: Buttercream frosting is  most commonly used icing for crumb coating. However, I prefer using chocolate ganache if my final coat is going to be ganache.

Please follow this link for making ganache.

Things/tools required for decorating the cake -

1) Offset Spatula - Spreads the icing evenly. You may not need it if you are using a 1:1 ganache (refer to the above link for ganache recipe).

2) Bread knife -  You will need this if you plan to slice your cake horizontally for filling in between. This is the trickiest part.. I saw lots of youtube videos and ruined couple of cakes before finally getting it right. Of all the videos I saw, found this pretty useful - http://www.jamieoliver.com/videos/how-to-cut-a-cake-into-three-jamie-s-comfort-food-kerryann-dunlop/ I am a huge Jamie Oliver fan, which explains why this video :D

Only thing I did differently was using a longer bread knife (12") as I find it more convenient.

Common mistake people make first time is cutting cake with uneven height, so you start in the middle but somewhere you go tangential (either up or down) instead of going straight. Toothpick technique in the video gives you precision as you come across markers on the way.

Start with small cakes, say 4" and go up.

3) Cake turn table (Optional) - Convenient way to look at all sides of cakes while decorating as the table rotates. For basic icing using ganache it is not required.

4) Plastic cake box - for safe storage in refrigerator. If you are serious about cake decorations, invest in good plastic cake boxes to keep your cakes safe when kept in refrigerator, specially after icing. Plain cake can be stored in the same baking tin it was baked in. Just cover it using cling film.

Lets get started with decorating our cake!!

The cake in pictures was for someone who loves Indian sweets so the middle layer has homemade mawa peda. You can use ganache, buttercream, cream cheese, your favourite jam like apricot or berries, a fruit compote or anything you like.

Turn the cake upside down (flat side up) and slice the cake in 2 halves horizontally. 

For making mawa peda you need -

200 gms khoya or mawa  ( For a generous layer in 9" cake )

Sugar as per taste

Bring mawa to room temperature and crumble it with hands. Add it to a hot pan on low heat. Keep stirring continuously. Once it melts, add sugar and continue stirring till sugar dissolves completely. 

Turn off the heat.
Home made mawa peda is ready!

Spread a layer of homemade mawa peda on bottom slice and put the other half on top. Refrigerate the cake for an hour. 

Time for crumb coating..

I used 2 parts chocolate with 1 part cream ganache for the crumb coating. In my experience, thick ganache covers the cake crumbs effectively. Check out the picture of cake after crumb coating. After the crumb coat, refrigerate the cake for an hour for the ganache to set.

Now for the final step.. get your ganache ready. As mentioned in the recipe, it should be warm to make the pouring easy. You will know when its ready. Keep a wire rack on large tray or plate and place the cake on the wire rack. Pour the ganache in the centre until it slides down to cover the sides completely. Let it stand until excess ganache drips onto the tray. Carefully lift the cake and place it on a cake base and finally into the cake box. Refrigerate until use.

I have sprinkled caramelised almond flakes on top.

Recipe for making caramelised almonds - 

100 gms almonds
50 gms sugar (Half the amount of almonds)
2 tbsp butter

Add everything in a hot pan and stir until almonds get coated with thick caramel. Pour onto a baking sheet and let it rest until it becomes hard and crispy.

Roughly chop the almonds in a food processor or use a mortar pestle.  Sprinkle on the cake and press gently. 

Hope you liked the post! Looking forward to your feedback.

Happy cake decorating :-)

Eggless chocolate cake using sprouted wheat flour

I had to blog about this at the earliest because of numerous steps involved.. if I postpone it any further, I might even forget it!! 

Finally posting something after a long break. Hope you try it, like it :-)

This post is about whole wheat chocolate cake. For cake decoration tips click here.

Some questions that might come to your mind..

Q: Why sprouted wheat flour? 
A: Because I have got it in abundance for my 10 months old baby. It is nutritionally superior to plain whole wheat, it is light on stomach and it also tastes better. Sprouted flours do not last long, so buy/prepare them in  small batches. I have not made the flour at home as you require flour mill to grind roasted wheat berries cos they are very tough. I found lot of recipes but I wasnt sure they were going to work so the recipe I am sharing here uses equal amounts of sprouted wheat flour and all purpose flour (maida). I am going to experiment further and share a recipe using 100% wheat flour. Also, I couldn't find many websites selling sprouted wheat flour, sprouted ragi was in abundance though! So this is what I bought from Amazon..

Q: What does sprouted wheat flour taste like and how is the texture different from wheat flour?
A: Pleasant sweet flavor and much lighter in texture as compared to regular wheat flour. Given a choice, I will prefer sprouted for baking. Baking with whole grains always result in a denser product, so its best suited for cakes with icing.. If you like fudgy, dense texture then this is perfect for you. I am not sure but I think, whole grains would result in better brownies too. I am going to try it and share the results.

Q: Can I use sprouted wheat flour in recipes that call for whole wheat flour?
A: I think it will work but amount of ingredients would differ, specially liquids as sprouted flour absorbs less.

 Things you must have-

1) Weighing scale - I can not do without this. Its one of the best and cheapest kitchen tools to invest in. I have this one.. my bro in law got me one of these in US. I have been using it for over 3 years now without any issues. It is available on Amazon India too, am hoping its the same one and not a duplicate - http://www.amazon.in/Bulfyss-Electronic-Kitchen-Digital-Weighing/dp/B00MKA9WXO/ref=sr_1_1?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1469983350&sr=8-1&keywords=kitchen+weighing+scale

2) Manual wire whisk - Avoid using electric beaters/whiskers for egg less baking as we don't want to whisk it too much and risk loosing the air incorporated into the batter by leavening agents. We should just gently fold the batter or gently whisk until everything is well blended. This does not take more than 2 minutes.

3) 8" round baking tin (No less, more is still okay)
4) All ingredients should be at room temperature.

Tweaked the original recipe a little bit.


70 gms all purpose flour (maida)
50 gms sprouted wheat flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
120 gms castor sugar (or 100 gms if you are going to do some icing as it will become too sweet)
250 ml water at room temperature
63 ml olive or canola oil
1 tbsp lime juice or white vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
Sieve all dry ingredients except sugar and set aside.
Mix water, oil, lime juice or vinegar, sugar, vanilla extract.
Gently fold in dry ingredients into the wet mixture until no lumps. No more than 2 minutes.
Grease 8" tin and dust with flour.
Pour the batter and bake for 45 minutes.
Check if the cake is done using toothpick, but be quick. Minimize the amount of time you open oven before cake is ready otherwise your cake can be a flop show!
If its still not cooked, extend by another 10 minutes.

Let it cool for about 5 minutes and then remove the cake and place it on a wire rack until it comes to room temperature.

Your eggless sprouted wheat flour cake is ready :)

For basic tips on cake decoration, click here.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Rava and Oats Dosa

I realise that in spite of spending all my life in North, I remain a South Indian at heart. I love all things South Indian, silk sarees, food etc. Even though I eat everything, my comfort food will always be idli, dosa, rice :) 

So today I am sharing the recipe of my favourite dosa, rava dosa and I think its safe to assume that rava dosa is your favourite dosa too? Well this one has a twist! It has a secret ingredient and that is Oats!! There.. I can not keep a secret for too long, can I! This I can say is one of those rare recipes which are healthy and tasty at the same time. With the goodness of oats and rava and the spice of ginger and green chilli it makes for a satisfactory breakfast or evening snack.

Onion, oats and rava dosa

So lets check out the recipe.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1 cup Sooji rava (Upma rava)
1 cup Oats
1/2 cup Rice flour
1 tbsp sour curd (2-3 days old curd)
2 green Chillies
1 finely Chopped Onion
1/2 cup Chopped Coriander
1/2 tsp finely Chopped Ginger
1/2 tsp Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
Salt to taste

Heat 4 cups of water and switch off just before it reaches boiling point.
Add rava, oats and rice flour to water. Mix well and leave it for 20 minutes.
When the water is at room temperature, add rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Why hot water? Usually you need to soak rava for at least 40 minutes before it gets ready. I was running out of time so used hot water to speed up the process and it did help!

Now comes the tricky part, frying rava dosa.

If you are wondering why tricky, it is because the consistency of this batter is nothing like regular dosa batter. This is more watery and you can not use a spoon to spread the batter on pan.

Heat the pan until smoke appears. Turn the gas to medium heat, pour few drops of oil and wipe the pan clean using a tissue paper. 

Increase the flame, now take spoonful of batter and start pouring gradually from the outside and move inside, just the opposite of normal dosa. Also, pour without touching the pan. Turn the pan around to spread the batter evenly. Pour drops of oil around dosa and in the center and when it has turned brown, carefully turn it upside down. Continue to fry on high heat. 

It is done when it has slightly browned on other side too. 

Don't start with huge portions of batter in the beginning. Check out this picture to see how tiny my first dosa was. When you get a hang of it, you can aim for bigger and bigger dosas.

You can have these oats and rava dosas as is or pair them with coconut chutney.

Have fun! 

Look at the beautiful texture..

Update (30 June 2016): This can be a yummy baby food too. If your baby (less than 1 year) is okay with tiny bits and pieces then go for this dosa. You may skip chillies.