Curry Cuisine

1.Laal Maas
Substitute paneer for the meat to make it vegetarian

25-35 dried red chillies
11/2 tsp cloves
51/2 oz ghee or vegetable oil
9 oz plain yoghurt, whisked
2 tsp cumin seeds, roasted
11/2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp salt
2 cinnamon leaves or bay leaves
6 green cardamom pods
5 black cardamom pods
21/2 oz garlic cloves, finely chopped
9 oz onions finely chopped
21/4 pound leg of lamb or goat with bones, cubed
3 cups lamb stock
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

Set aside three or four of the dried chilles to use later, put the remainder to soak in half cup waer. Put aside 4-6 of the cloves and 1 tbsp of the ghee.

Mix the yoghurt with the cumin seeds, ground coriander, chilli powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Heat the rest of the ghee in a heavy based pan. Add the remainng cloves, the cinnamon leaves, and the green and black cardamoms. When they begin to crackle and change color, add the garlic. Saute for two minutes or until the garlic begins to turn golden. Add the onions and cook for 10 min or until golden brown, stirring constantly.

Stir in the meat and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain the soaked red chillies and add to the pan. Continue cooking for 10-12 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the meat starts to brown slightly. Now add the spiced yoghurt and cook for another 10-12 minutes or until the liquid from the yoghurt has evaporated.

Add the stock or water and bring to a boil, Then cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer until the meat is tender. Adjust the seasoning. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Do tadka with ghee, reserved cloves and dried red chillies.
Sprinkle with coriander leaves.

2. Plantain curry

South african style Plantain dish.

4 plantains
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 sprig of curry leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
11/4 piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 green chillies
2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
lemon juice

Steam the plantains for ten minutes. Reserve.Pop mustard,add onions, ginger, curry leaves. Peel the plantains just before grating it into the onion masala. Add salt, turmeric, green chillies. Saute. Top with lemon juice and cilantro leaves. Serve.

Cooks notes: Best served fresh, dries out when referigerated. Tastes sort of like potato poha.


First Birthday Menu

1. Assorted Vegetable Chips - Lotus, Banana, Sweet Potato, Apple
2. Corn Cups with Nacho Dip
3. Scotch Eggs
4. Fruit Bouquet


Main Course:
1. Thai rice with Pineapple and Cashew
2. Stuffed mini Peppers with paneer sabji
3. Aloo Paratha
4. Vegetable Lasagna

Rasagulla in Mango Ras in a carved watermelon swan


Colettes Birthday Cakes

Reference recipes from Colette Peters
1. Rolled Fondant:
2 pounds confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup white corn syrup
11/2 tbsp glycerine
1tsp flavoring
liquid coloring if desired

Soak the gelatin in the water for five minutes. Melt gelatin over low flame until liquid is clear, add glycerin, corn syrup and flavorings. Add to sugar. Mix with fork until all liquid is incorporated. Knead gently with hands until all sugar is incorporated. Cover well with plastic wrap and keep overnight.

Mix with dye as required. Go slowly, lighter shades can be made darker but not viceversa. Ive used Candy dyes so far, because they are oil based and work very well with fondant. To be specific, Chefmaster and wilton candy dyes. Iam not sure how well water based dyes will work with fondant.

Cooks notes: Could try flavored gelatin next time. For flavor , oils seem to work best, tangerine, orange, lemon. Gives off a nice strong enticing aroma. Although the recipe calls for resting the dough overnight, I have mixed and used fondant immediately - worked just fine. Would love to know the advantages of letting the fondant rest overnight.

To cover a cake with fondant:
Required: A crumb coated cake, fresh buttercream or royal icing, dyed fondant. For a square cake, cover opposite vertical sides first . Then cover the other two sides. It is relatively easy to get straight edges if your cake is straight. However, the overlap is still seen. Usually other people seem to get around this by using decorations to hide the seam.

For any cracks, use white crisco or vegetable oil to smooth over.

2. Royal Icing
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp water
1 pound confectioners sugar ( 3 3/4 cups)

Combine all ingredients until well mixed slowly. Beat until stiff peaks form. For Stiffer icing add more sugar, for looser icing add more water.

3. Modelling Chocolate
10 ounces Confectionary coating
3 ounces light corn syrup

Melt the coating in a bowl over simmering water. Add the corn syrup, combine and wrap in plastic wrap until cool. It will seem stiff, but will become smoother with the warmth of your hands.

See sample using chocolate chips here http://foodtravails.blogspot.com/2007/09/birthday-cake.html

4. Chocolate Ganache

12 ounces semi sweet choc chips ( 2 cups)
8 ounces hvy cream
2 tsp flavoring

Heat cream until just below boiling point. Add choc and cover five minutes. Stir. Cover Again. After five minutes, whisk until shiny

Cake Book Shelf


Scotch Eggs

1 Pound yukon gold potatoes
red chilli powder
As many boiled eggs as you want
1 beaten egg
Parmesan cheese

Donot use boiling potatoes for this recipe as the outer shell gets very soft when fried and does not hold its shape.

Tips for boiling and peeling eggs:
If you want a perfect ovoid shape for your egg, pierce either the top or bottom of the shell with a sharp thin pin, like an office document pin or safety pin. Doing so will push the air bubble inside the egg out as the egg cooks. Donot worry about egg leaking through that hole, the hole is miniscule. This ensures a perfect ovoid shape.

To boil the egg perfectly without a green ring, keep the eggs in normal room temperature water and boil for ten minutes. After exactly ten minutes, turn off the heat, cover with a plate and let cool for ten minutes.

To peel the egg easily , fill a bowl with icecubes. Drain water from the pan in which the eggs were boiled, give the pan a couple of shakes with your hand to crack the eggs slightly.

Tip the eggs into the ice bath. Give it five minutes. You should be able to peel the eggs with a smooth and nice finish and not have pitted craters like the surface of the moon.

Back to Scotch Eggs:

Mash up the potatoes nicely, add salt, black pepper and red chilli pwd to taste. Make a ball of the potato mixture in your hand, flatten it, place a boiled egg in it, and wrap the potato mixture around it. Does not have to be very neat. Roll this ball in first the egg wash, which is a raw egg whisked with a little water to form a homogenous mixture. Then roll in the parmesan and bread crumb mixture. Deep fry.

Not the healthiest snack i know, but pretty darn tasty!

These cannot be frozen before hand.


Fruit Bouquet

Things you will need:
Cookie cutters in various flower shapes
Styrofoam core
Bamboo skewers
Fruits or Candy

Couple of Basics:
The total flower bouquet should be atleast around 1.5 times taller than the base.

First Birthday cake

I made this cake for my daughters first birthday. My main inspiration has been Charm City cakes who have a charming (:)) show on Foodnetwork. I was nervous on a number of levels, this is the first time I was going something this big with cakes. This Cake was also a departure from my earlier Buttercream heavy style.

I narrowed down the process to the following steps:

1. Look at a lot of cake pictures and decide what kind of look and end product i wanted.(Princess cake, frilly cream detailed look, cool modern finish etc etc)
2. Decide on the number of people I wanted to serve
3. Then decide the shape of the cake, Do i want a single layer flat sheet cake or a tiered sculpted look etc
4. Model the cake in a 3d drawing software - Sketchup in this case to see if the proportions look good.
5. Decide on the non edible decorations: The balloons, Flying butterflies etc.
6. Make the gosh darn thing!

The final cake was a 6x6 square on top of a 10x10 square and served 40 people. The layers were Chocolate Chiffon cake with Vanilla Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache fillings that alternated. Boy was it delicious, even if i say so myself.




Happy Diwali!!


Wedding anniversary cake


Bhindi with Cherry Tomatoes

Okra with baby tomatoes
Recipe from Neelam Batra: The Indian Vegetarian

2 pounds young okra
1 small onion , sliced finely
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp mango powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
20-25 colorful cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup cilantro.

Fry Okra until golden. Remove. Cook onion with masalas and onion. Add Tomatoes and cook in pan until skin begins to separate. Add the fried okra , season with salt, top with cilantro and serve. Makes a very colorful party dish.


Alphonso Mango Mousse Cake

modified from Epicurious.com

This mousse cake is in three parts,
1. The cake base
2. The mango mousse
3. The miroir topping

For decoration i used chocolate butterflies piped on wax paper. Once dry i put the butterflies on top just before serving.

So here goes:
1. The cake base.

1/2 cup sifted cake flour ( Can substitute with all purpose)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Butter a jelly pan or tray or a lasagna foil pan - around 11 " by 9". Line bottom of cake pan with waxed paper. Butter paper and dust lightly with flour.
Sift flour and baking powder into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and yolks in large bowl until frothy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until pale yellow and slowly dissolving ribbon forms when beaters are lifted, about 4 minutes. Fold in flour mixture. Fold 1 heaping tablespoon batter into melted butter. Fold butter mixture back into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until cake is just golden brown around edges and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.

2. Mango Mousse
1/4 cup orange liqueur ( I used bourbon - if you are not comfortable with alcohol substitute with water)
1 package unflavored gelatin (Knox )
1 tin Alphonso mango slices ( from Indian store)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chilled whipping/heavy cream

Pour liqueur into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let gelatin soften 10 minutes. Puree mango slices in blender. Donot add any water. If the mango slices are in a juice, carefully remove all the juice into a bowl and reserve for miroir. Add sugar to mango puree in processor and blend well. Set bowl of gelatin on top of a saucepan of simmering water,such that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water . Stir until gelatin dissolves. Add gelatin mixture to mango in processor and blend. Whip cream in large bowl to soft peaks. Fold in mango mixture.

At this point, you should assemble the mousse cake and referigerate it for atleast three to four hours. In the pan with the cake , pour the mousse mixture . Cover pan with plastic wrap.

After about three hours, make the miroir.

Mango Miroir:
11/2 cups mango juice
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp kirsch ( a liquer - can substitute with water)
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp gelatin ( = 1 envelope Knox)

Add the gelatin to about 1/2 cup of the mango juice in a small saucepan , soften for ten minutes. Melt the gelatin by putting the pan on gentle heat. Donot boil. As soon as the gelatin melts, the solution will become clear. Add all the other ingredients and the rest of the mango juice.

Remove the mousse and cake from the fridge, top with miroir and return to referigerator for another hour.

If you want to trim the edges neatly, place the container in the freezer for about 10 to fifteen minutes. Use a sharp knife to trim the edges neatly.

Top with chocolate decorations - Serve!!


Roasted Tomato Soup

The best tomato soup ever!!

8 of the best tomatoes you can find
1 onion - red/white
3 cloves garlic
couple sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup 1% milk
olive oil
salt pepper

Cut up the tomatoes and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil, garlic chunks. Roast in oven at 375 for about forty minutes.Puree with the milk.
Serve with fresh pepper.


Deviled eggs with cilantro and curry

8 large eggs
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 large green onion
2 tbsp fresh cilantro

From The Curry book by Nancy McDermott

Thai curried fresh corn fritters

2 cups fresh corn kernels
1 large egg
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp red or yellow curry paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying

In a food processor, combine 1 cup of the corn with the egg, flour, curry paste and soy sauce. Pulse to chop the corn and mix everything well together. Scrape the batter and mix in the remaining corn. Fry the fritters.

Serve with Sweet and Sour cucumber salad

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 large cucumber
1/4 cup coarsely chopped red onion
2 tbsp fresh cilantro
2 tbsp chopped roasted peanuts

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt over medium heat, bring to a gentle boil. When the syrup is clear and slightly thickened, removefrom heat and let it cool to room temperature. Serve with the rest of the ingredients.

From The Curry Book by Nancie McDermott

The curry book: Curry powder

1/4 cup coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp white or black pepper
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 tsp whole cardamom
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp red chilli powder


Pineapple Cashewnut Thai fried rice

Fried rice with pineapple (Khao Pad supparot)
1 large fresh pineapple, sliced lengthwise in half, the flesh removed, cut in cubes and set aside
1 slice wholewheat breat, diced deepfried with 1/4 cup cashew nuts until golden
1 garlic clove finely chopped
2/3 cup soaked dried black fungus mushrooms
1 small onion diced
2 cups cooked rice
3tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

to garnish
1 spring onion, finely chopped into rings
coriander leaves

In a wok, heat the oil until a light haze appears. Add the garlic and fry until golden brown.Stirring all the time add the mushrooms, onion, pineapple, rice, soy sauce sugar and pepper and mix thoroughly. Add the fried bread and cashew nuts, stir once and turn into the pineapple boats. Garnish with a sprinkling of spring onion and coriander leaves.

Cooks notes: Very delicious without the sugar added. Sprinkle with extra fresh pineapple chunks on top, as the pineapple mixed into the dish gets brown from the soy. Use whole cashews for better presentation. Broken cashew is okay for day to day i guess.

Another Black Forest Cake


September bookshelf


Birthday cake

Chocolate cake with chocolate Mousse

Modelling chocolate recipe:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pan of hot but not boiling water. Stir the chocolate with a wooden spoon until smooth, then stir in the corn syrup; the chocolate will stiffen almost immediately. Stir until completely combined. Transfer the chocolate to a sturdy plastic bag and refrigerate until firm.
Work the Modeling Chocolate with your hands until pliable. Hand-shape the Modeling Chocolate into flowers, braids or ropes. Or pat it into a disk and roll it out to the desired thickness by hand or in a manual pasta machine and use it to make ribbons or for cutting out shapes.

Cooks notes: Recipe from Colette peters. Easy to shape with a rolling pin. Melts pretty fast.


July Bookshelf


Test Kitchen : A tale of two Mousses

Mousses are rich delicious melt in the mouth confections. I naively set out to find the perfect mousse recipe for a chocolate and strawberry mousse. A quick google search showed mousses of two types, with gelatin (See Le Tartine Gourmandes example)and mousses with eggs.

Traditionally mousses, more specifically chocolate mousses are made with egg yolks. The egg yolks impart a dense and creamy quality to the mousse. Fruit mousses on the other hand have gelatin in addition to the egg yolks.

I also tested a chocolate mousse recipe with just gelatin and no egg yolks, Have to say it lacked the smoothness of an egg yolk mousse. But for vegans and those who donot plain like egg yolks it is a compromise of sorts.

Ive included below two recipes,- both by Jacques Pepin in The Art of Cooking Vol 1- one for a chocolate mousse and another for a red currant mousse which i adapted to make a strawberry mousse. Im still looking for that perfect recipe for fruit puree mousses.

Chocolate Gourmand(mousse) by Jacques Pepin
1 cup heavy cream
6 oz bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate
1/3 cup milk
2 egg yolks
2 tsp dark rum
1 egg white
2 tb granulated sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp confectioners sugar

Candied Violets

In a mixing bowl, whip the 1 cup cream until lightly firm( donot overbeat) Meanwhile place the 6 oz chocolate with the 1/3 cup milk in a saucepan and place over medium heat until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is warm and smooth. Add the 2 egg yolks to the chocolate with the 2 tsp rum and mix. The chocolate will thicken lightly. In another bowl, beat the egg white until firm, then add the 2tb granulated sugar and keep beating until firm and smooth.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the beaten egg white and stir with a whisk just enough to incorporate. Add the whipped cream and fold in gently just until mixed.

Pour the mixture into an attractive serving bowl and refrigerate for approximately 1 hour. When the top starts to harden cover with plastic so the chocolate doesnt pick up tastes . Referrigerate until firm.

Make whipped cream from the topping ingredients. Decorate with candied violets.

Currant Filling ( Currant Mousse) by Jacques Pepin

11/2 lb fresh red currants ( about 2 cups puree)
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cold water
2 envelopes gelatin
4 tb water
3 egg whites
2 tb sugar

Puree the currants. Place the 4 egg yolks in a mixer fitted with a whisk beater. Put the 1/2 cup sugar with the 1/4 cup cold water in a saucepan and stir just enough to dissolve the sugar. Place on the stove, bring to a boil, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes,, until the mixture will spin a thread( about 230 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Pour the hot syrup into the yolks slowly while beating at a low speed. Increase to high and continue beating on medium to high for 10 minutes.

The mixture should be thick and creamy. Meanwhile combine the 2 envelopes of gelatin with the 4 tb of cold water and let set until the gelatin absorbs the water. Melt the softened gelatin over low heat and when the gelatin is well melted add it to the 2 cups of red currant puree , mixing it well with a whisk. Now combine that currant gelatin puree with the egg yolk sugar mixture , mixing it with a whisk.

Beat the 3 egg whites until stiff, add the 2 tb of sugar, and beat again for about 30 seconds to incorporate the sugar into the whites. Spoon about one fourth to one third of the egg whites into the red currant mixture and mix with a whisk. Using a rubber spatula gently fold the rest of the egg whites into the red currant puree.


Devils Food Layered Chocolate Cake

Ive been away from the blog a couple of months now,welcoming the pitter patter of little feet in my life! Every moment since has been a joy and needless to say really hectic. When every moment in life is a celebration, you need cake.

Heres a quick recipe that i baked up for my little ones 3 month birthday( I know, a little- okay a lot over the top).

The Devils Food Layer Cake

To make one 9 inch cake

10 tbsp butter
11/2 cups sugar
3 eggs yolks separated from whites, whites stiffly beaten
2/3 cup cocoa powder dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Recipe adapted from my favorite cake cook book, Cakes.

Cream together the butter and the sugar. Beat the egg yolks well and stir them into the creamed mixture. Dissolve the soda in the buttermilk. Sift together the flour and baking powder, then add the flour to the creamed mixture alternately with the dissolved cocoa and the buttermilk mixture. Add the vanilla extract. Fold in the egg whites. Divide the batter evenly between two buttered and floured layer cake pans. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 30 to 5 minutes or until the top of the cake is springy to the touch. When the cake is cool, proceed to frosting.

For the frosting you can do as I did , use simple butter cream for the moldings and rich butter cream on the cake.The recipes for the butter creams follow.

Simple Butter Cream(Chocolate)
to make about 2 cups butter cream
9 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
41/2 cups confectioners sugar
6 tbsp light cream
11/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 oz unsweetened chocolate morsels( I used ghirardelli)

Beat the butter until it is fluffly. Gradually beat the sugar into the butter, alternately with the cream, until the sugar is absorbed. Beat in the vanilla extract. To flavor with chocolate, melt the chocolate morsels in a double boiler, cool slightly and fold it into the prepared butter cream. The butter cream should be of spreading consistency. If it is too thin beat in a little more sugar, if it is too thick , beat in a little cream.

Rich Butter Cream ( Chocolate)
to make 2 cups butter cream

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
5 egg yolks beaten
1/2 lb butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla extract

3oz chocolate
Stir the water and sugar together in a saucepan set over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid comes to a boil. Let this syrup boil without stirring until its temperature reaches 217 - 220 F on a candy thermometer. If you donot have a candy thermometer you can eyeball it by putting the hot syrup in a bowl of cold water and checking to see if small threads form. Remove syrup from the heat. Whisking vigorously, or using a electric beater, pour the hot syrup into the egg yolks and continue to beat until the mixture is cool, light and fluffly. Donot forget to beat vigorously or you will end up with scrambled eggs! Cream the butter until it is very soft, then beat the butter and the vanilla extract into the yolk mixture until the mixture is shiny and firm enough to spread.

some tips: I have found that it is best if you have two or three sets of beater blades, cooled in the freezer and waiting so you can work without having to wash, and more importantly without warming your beater blades. Always use a drop or two of lime juice with your egg whites.

Bon Appetit!