Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

I love eating cheesecake but until now have not explored the territory of making cheesecakes that are made with eggs and baked. The whole process looks very scary to me and requires a lot of effort (I guess) But when I got this recipe from my sister (the eldest one who is an expert in baking) I was so happy that there is no baking involved!! Also, this recipe does not use cream cheese which is the standard ingredient for all cheesecakes but requires panee that is home made. It is very easy and gives you a smooth, fruity and creamy dessert. You can use any fruit but I like it the best with the strawberries.

Recipe Source – My Darling Sister!


1 Liter Milk
2 Cups Whipped Cream
1 Envelope Clear Unflavored Gelatin
1 Cup Strawberry Puree Or Mango Pulp
2 Cup Crushed Digestive Biscuits
4 Tbsp (1/2 Stick or 50 Gms) Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Castor Sugar (Or More As Required)
Vinegar or Lemon Concentrate (For Curdling The Milk)

First we need to make the paneer that we will use in this cheesecake. Making paneer at home is very simple. To make the paneer, heat the milk in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the vinegar and keep stirring till the milk curdles. Keep stirring the liquid till the cheese and water are well separated. Place a muslin cloth over a dish and strain the cheese draining the water away. Squeeze out all the excess water and cool the paneer. No need to shape it.
To make the bottom crust, take the crushed digestives and mix enough butter to form crumbs. Press the crumbs in the bottom of 9 inch spring foam (if you don't have a springfoam use any glass rectangle dish or cake pan. But place aluminium foil first at the bottom before making the crust. The foil must come up on all sides and hang on the sides. These sides will serve as handles to pull out the cheesecake after it is set from the dish) and place in the fridge to harden.
Place the paneer in a stand mixer or a blender and beat till smooth. Add the fruit puree and sugar and mix well. Remove into a large bowl and add the whipped cream, mixing gently till combined. Taste the sweetness and if required add more sugar. Dissolve the gelatin in warm water and stir it well in the mixture and pour it over the crust. Smoothen the cream evenly with a spatula, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours till set. Garnish with fruit pieces and serve cold. Before removing the springfoam sides, run a knife all around the edges to loosen the cake from the sides.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How To Make Pita Bread At Home

I have conquered the beast. One who was taunting me from many days, teasing me from far away… I thought to myself, surely I can do this? And I did! I made Pita bread and overcame my fear of YEAST!!!! He he he… seriously though, I had never used yeast before until yesterday and after making pita bread that was oh so good! I can now think of endless possibilities. (and also the fact that I have 400 gms of yeast lying in my pantry…yikes!)

So, Pita bread or khuboos as we call it in the middle east is a favorite in my house with hummus and grilled chicken. So when I opened my freezer yesterday and saw that I had grilled chicken and hummus in there I thought OK need to get some bread. But then I thought why not try to make it? I had bookmarked this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker a long time back but never got around to making it. This recipe led me to Not Without Salt which in turn led me to The Fresh Loaf which is the recipe which I eventually used (they are all the same basically). The dough was very simple to combine and rose so beautifully I had tears in my eyes. The best part was when the pitas puffed up in the oven. I screamed “Latif!!! Come fast, you have to see this!” seriously, you need to do this to actually see your labor of love in the oven. Please read the section About the Ingredients on the Fresh loaf for a lot of tips and information.
Keep Reading for the recipe and pics...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ras Malai And A Fun Weekend

This weekend Latif's uncle and his family had come to stay over at our place as we had invited them for dinner on Friday. They are leaving Dubai for good and now will be invited by everyone in the family for dinners... (lucky!). Anywho, it was the first time I cooked up a meal for more than two people (all by myself!) and lucky for me everything went smoothly. I made two desserts along with Mutton Korma, Murg Chana and the Indonesian chicken (recipes coming soon!) served with pulav and naan. One of the desserts I made was Ras Malai which is my favorite Indian dessert. It is so easy to make and tastes heavenly! I learnt to make this from my mom and I'm sure no one will say no to a bowl of cold Ras Malai! Yummy!



1 Cup Instant Full Cream Milk Powder (e.g. Nido or Rainbow)
3/4 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp All Purpose Flour (Maida)
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Clarified Butter (Ghee)
1 Liter Whole Milk
Few Strands Of Saffron
1/4 Cup Sliced Pistachios
2 Tsp Cardamom Powder
1/4 Cup Sugar*

Pour the milk in a wide bottomed pot and bring to boil. Add the sugar (*-Taste the milk and add more sugar if you prefer it sweeter), 1 tsp cardamom powder, saffron strands and pistachios (reserve few for filling) to the milk and let it cook on a low flame. Stir occasionally. Place the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead lightly to form soft dough. Divide into 14 portions and form small balls. Flatten each ball in the palm of your hands and place a few pieces of sliced pistachios in the middle. Cover from all sides and roll into a ball. Press slightly to flatten. When the milk has thickened very slightly, gently drop each ball in the milk and turn up the heat to bring the milk to a boil one more time. The balls will start to puff up and look spongy. Lower the heat and let the balls cook in the milk for some time. Handle them gently ensuring they are covered in the milk. Turn off the heat and let the ras malai cool. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

Happy Eating!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spicy Indonesian Chicken and a Stolen Recipe Book

I have a recipe book in which each recipe is lovingly and painstakingly handwritten. I however have not lovingly and painstakingly written those 100 + recipes in the book. I, rather stole it. Haha, ok let me be clear before you start judging me. My sister, who is a very good cook like my mother, used to live with my eldest sister for a good 6 years before the two of them got married. During this time it was her who would do the cooking in the house and she started this recipe book. I don’t know if all the recipes in this book are tried or not. I do know that they are colleted from many different sources like newspapers, magazines, cooking shows and of course from my mother. So, when she got married, she left behind this book at our house. And who came across it? I did! I pounced on it and staked all claim as mine! I started making dishes out of it and had great success with few and not so great with some of them.

This recipe is one with which I had a good experience. I made this last night with plain ol' khichdi to spice things up. The unique flavour of the chicken makes you want to keep eating it. The brown sugar and pepper give it a great twist and it is very easy to make. I have no idea why it is called Indonesian chicken. I tried to Google the name to see if something like this turns up but no luck. The only info I got about Indonesian cooking is that they usually have a sweet and sour flavour in one dish like honey and lime or lemon grass and sugar etc. But who cares where this is from as long as it tastes yum! So let’s cook chicken I say!

Recipe Source – Stolen recipe book from sister!! Lol!


1/2 Kg Chicken – Small pieces
1 Tsp Cumin (Jeera) Powder
1 Tsp Brown Sugar (use regular sugar if not available)
1 Tsp Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Tamarind Pulp
1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
1 Tsp Coriander Seeds Powder
1 Tbsp Garlic Paste
Salt To Taste
1/4 Cup Oil

Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl and marinate for one hour. Taste the marinade and adjust the seasonings according to personal taste i.e. spicier or sweeter. Heat the oil in a pan and add the marinated chicken. Fry on high for a few minutes till the chicken turns brown. Turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook till the chicken is done. If it is too dry add a little water. Serve as a side dish with pulav or khichdi (khichdi recipe coming soon!).

Happy Eating!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Baked Fudge or Love in a Cup

I was going through the Pioneer Woman's website and came across a post for V day. The pioneer woman told me to bake fudge for my valentine. So I baked it, and now I am telling you to bake this if you love chocolate and want to lose yourself in the deep mysteries of all things that are sweet and ooey-gooey.

This recipe is so simple you can make it with your eyes closed (actually you can't but I just like to say that). But seriously, just melt the butter, crack open the eggs, throw in the flour, cocoa, sugar, vanilla and bake. Can life get any simpler??? Ha! Also I got a chance to use my new Ramekins… hehehe... I just needed an excuse to use my new bake ware.

Remember I mentioned mini cupcakes somewhere around here? Turns out I don’t have a mini cupcake pan. Someone needs to buy me one. Hello?? Are you listening? I guess not... I’ll just make the trip to the supermarket myself. Meanwhile, you make this; and share it with your loved one. I may or may not have shared it. Ah yes, don't forget the vanilla ice cream to scoop on top of the hot cakes. Ah Bliss!

Here is the recipe at The Pioneer Woman website.

Happy Eating!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kheema Biryani and a Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to me!! Yay!! Oh sorry, Happy Anniversary to my darling husband! Yeah that’s better. Well, two years are up and I am so lucky to be with a person like Latif. But this post is not about Latif, it is about the biryani I made, kheema biryani to be exact. What is kheema biryani you ask? Rather what my cousin asked me when I told her I made this for lunch on Friday. Hmm, lets see.. it is a biryani mixed with kheema (minced meat) and not pieces of any meat. This is a very yummy and simple dish which my mom used to make (no idea which part of the world this belongs to) and I remembered this when I saw a lot of minced mutton lying in my freezer. The technique for this biryani is the same as with other biryanis so there is nothing new here but just wanted to share something that I made.

After Latif ate his lunch I asked him how the food was, he said it was good, but where were the chicken pieces??? I was speechless.



For Kheema
500 Gms Minced Meat
1/2 Cup Green Peas (Optional)
3 Large Onions (Sliced)
1 Tbsp Assorted Whole Garam Masala
4 Green Chilies
2 Medium Tomatoes (Sliced)
1 Large Potato (Peeled and Quartered)
2 Tsp Red Chili Powder
1 Tsp Fennel Seeds Powder
1 Tsp Coriander Seeds Powder
1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
1 Tsp Garam Masala Powder
2 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
2 Tbsp Yogurt
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Cooking Oil
Salt to taste
For Rice
2 Cups Uncooked Basmati Rice
6 Cups Water
1 Tbsp Assorted Whole Garam Masala
Salt to taste
For Garnish
Saffron or Yellow Food Color
1/4 Cup Milk (Warm)
Pinch of Saffron
1 Tsp Garam Masala Powder
Fried Onions
Mint Leaves
1 Tbsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)

Wash and drain the minced meat. Keep aside. Wash and soak the basmati rice. Keep aside. Heat the oil in a pot; add the sliced onions, green chilies and whole garam masala. Fry on high for two to three minutes then turn the heat to low. Keep stirring every few minutes to ensure the onions do not burn; we want to get them to a golden brown color and not dark brown (I say this from experience, believe me when I say that you will cry if you burn your onions. Not that I cried when this happened to me not too long ago! Ahem...)

Sliced Onion, Tomatoes and Green Chilies

Frying the Onions

Whole Garam Masala

Powdered Masalas

When the onions become golden brown, add the tomatoes and potatoes. Turn the heat to high again; add the salt, ginger garlic paste, red chili powder, coriander seeds powder, turmeric powder, fennel seeds powder and garam masala powder. Mix it well and keep cooking till the tomatoes are soft. The masala will look like the below picture (a little better if the onions are golden brown)

Add the minced meat and sauté on high till the smell of the meat goes and it gets a nice brown color. Add the green peas and pour in the lemon juice and yogurt. Stir and cover with lid. Cook on medium flame till the kheema is completely cooked and the potatoes are done. Taste and adjust the seasonings at this point as this is the point of no return... Just kidding... no, seriously it is.. coz you cant do anything about it once the biryani is layered. Anyways, add more salt if you want to or more chili powder if you want it to be spicier.

In a separate pot, heat the 6 cups of water; throw in the whole garam masalas and salt. Keep a wide colander ready in the sink to drain the rice. When the water comes to a boil, add the rice and let it cook on high, uncovered till the rice is almost done. It is very important to watch the rice closely at this point as we want it to be cooked but not completely. There should still be a bite to the grain and must not be easily squished between your fingers. Once the rice reaches this point, turn off the heat and drain the rice in the colander.

Now we will layer the biryani and give the much needed dum. You can use the same pot in which you boiled the rice provided it is big. We need a pot that is big enough to hold all the rice and the kheema.

Wash and chop the coriander and mint leaves. Dissolve the saffron and food colour in the milk. Place the pot on the stove, and add 1/2 tsp ghee. I made four layers so divide the rice in two halves and the kheema as well. Add a layer of the kheema and cover the bottom completely with it. Cover the kheema with a layer of the rice. Sprinkle some fried onion on it and cover again with one layer of the kheema and the last layer of the rice.

Pour the milk on top of the rice spreading it all over.

Scatter the remaining fried onions on top of the milk.

Spread the coriander and mint leaves on top of the onions.

Sprinkle garam masala powder at the end along with a dollop of ghee.

Cover the pot with a tight lid to ensure no steam escape from it. Keep the flame on high for a minute or two to ensure sufficient heat is generated in the pot. Turn the heat to low and keep cooking till steam starts forming on top and the rice is complete cooked.

Open the pot, stir to mix the layers and serve hot with raita

Pieces or not, I’m sure you will enjoy this.
Happy Eating!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Of exams and fun times...

Alas my fun filled days are over and its back to the grind… boarding the plane from Bangalore I had a sad face (yes I do have a sad and happy face.. lol) and couldn’t bear to think of the boring life out here. “sigh” here I am back at home, back to the chores and the cooking (cooking = no , baking = yes!!) and of course WORK!!

Our time in B’lore was so much fun. Although I had gone there to write the last semester exams of my PG diploma most of my time was spent meeting friends, shopping and having a blast Hmm.. Anyways, the exams were umm ..ahh.. cough cough “OK” now I am sure you know what OK means. you know.. You get the drift right? So let’s leave it at that.

One of the first things we noticed on landing there is how expensive the city has become. Food prices, rickshaw charges everything has gone up. How do people who earn in rupees afford good lifestyles there? Is there a secret to which we are not privy yet? Moreover, there were sales everywhere!! I lift my head up and there is a sale board.. I look left – sale! I look right – sale! It’s like the entire city was conspiring against me to lighten the load of my pockets! And lighten it did. Boy, even though I didn’t shop much (cough) we sure spent a lot of money (on what I honestly don’t know!).                                    
This was our first vacation together (can you believe this) since we got married so it was double fun. We stayed at a really stupid hotel (booked on the internet from here) but luckily they gave free WiFi 24 hours of the day! What can be better than free WiFi I ask? Uhh maybe free food? No? Ok. :(
I stayed at one of my friends places for a day and he wanted me to bake him something but unfortunately he didn’t have an oven!!! Yeah right! What is a girl supposed to do? So I offered to cook something and he wanted biryani. Now I can make a fairly decent biryani and decided what the heck, this should be easy. With my two trustful helpers (my best friend and his wife) the kitchen was soon buzzing. Fate alas had other plans for me.. You see, I am so used to cooking a certain way and with particular spices and utensils that I just couldn’t get the hang of things in his kitchen. And the biryani? Let’s just not talk about it ok? Lets forget it ever happened.. Oh and yeah I tried to make my no bake cheesecake as well… since one of the primary ingredients i.e, whipped cream was missing from it (you don’t get whipped cream in B'LORE!! I am never going to settle in India NEVER) the cheesecake was well.. Let’s forget about that also ok? Good!! I have vowed never again to cook anything in someone else’s kitchen. Life is just not fair at all times..

But!! I did get to meet my family and that was good. We went shopping and out for dinner and I just lazed around for a week.. yippee..

The Beach Near My House

So, coming back to the present. Something’s up on the 14th …no I am not excited about V day but about my anniversary!! My second wedding anniversary to be precise. Yes, I did get married on 14th Feb. (not intentionally though) and I have good reason to celebrate! I plan to make cute little mini cupcakes in cute little pink wrappers sprinkled with pink decorations I bought the other day.. Will post them soon!

Till then, Happy Eating!!