A different love

How is it that I tire of watching tv or reading books, but I do not tire of cooking a full meals in the Indian summer noons? Weekends, I plan menus and cook meals for our family of 4. That I am given a free rein to decide whats to be cooked, courtesy Moo should be conveniently overlooked.

I was never actively into cooking before marriage happened. I had lots of cooking disasters post marriage but a year later, I was satisfied by my cooking, as were the ones who had to eat them. Here and there I invented some mix and match, tweaked the traditional measures and substituted what all I had available in my kitchen for some basic foolproof recipes. Since an year, I started looking into the science behind it. Some of my tried and tested experiments –
Salt water fishes need not have too much lemon in their marination.
When you substitute salt with lemon juice while making poha, you really cannot tell the difference.
Chicken oozes lots of oil, so need to use too much of the same while making chicken dishes.
Coconut gratings if you add on vegetable stir frys, they taste awesome.

These sudden food thoughts brought to you in association with the awesome lunch I had today – phulkas + beet root stir fry + cauliflower masala, rounded off by the sweetest mango slices, the season’s first at our home.

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Friday cake and weekend music

While browsing through the internet a lazy Sunday afternoon, I came across a blogger who had cut down sugar completely from their lifestyle. Neither white sugar, nor brown. That morning, while rummaging the kitchen shelf for a something raw to be transformed into something edible, I got hold of a big container of maida. Zack loves his maida dosa more than his fish fry, so we always stock it up. That is another matter that he never knew that the dabba would be empty by the evening. If he knew, he would have dissuaded me from wasting my time in making this sugarless cake. Who in the world would eat or ask for a cake without sugar 😛

But then I had made up my mind to empty that maida dabba and make use of the over ripe bananas lying on the dining table. I planned to use all things natural.

Now this is how it looked it, when it came out of the oven. Please don’t close this page, kindly excuse my poor photography skills. It would be blasphemy to call this a cake to be very honest. But since the only ingredient missing here is sugar, I will take that leeway :mrgreen:

So how did I make it?

Ingredients :

Maida – 1.5 cups

Curd  – 1 cup

Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

Baking soda – 1/2 tsp

Baking powder – 1 and 1/4 tsp

Cooking oil – 1/2 cup

2 small bananas

5 dates

Honey – 1 tbsp

chopped dry fruits ( optional)

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Method:

Mash the bananas using a fork to a very fine paste. Soak the dates in warm water for about 5 min and smash them by hands, to a very syrupy consistency.

In a wide bowl, mix the curd, bananas and date-syrup and beat using a hand mixer for about 3 minutes. Do not be tempted to taste it, you might finish it off.

Add the baking soda and baking powder and mix well. You should see bubbles appearing. Keep it aside for 5 minutes. While you have 5 minutes at hand, dust away your oven and pre-heat to 200 degrees for 10 minutes. Preheating after your final batter is ready and waiting for the oven timer to go from 10:00 to 0:00 will make your cake go stiff.

After 5 minutes of letting the baking soda and baking powder introduce themselves, pour in the oil and vanilla essence.  Give it a good mix.

Add in the maida gradually and keep mixing the wet and dry ingredients now. It tends to get stickier but after a good two minutes, you can see the oil leaving the mixture. Do not think why is this happening, just keep on mixing it. Pour honey into this mix, give it the final mix and now your batter is ready to be baked.

Line up your bakeware with butter paper or grease it and pour this batter into it.

Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees.

After 10 minutes, take your bakeware out and sprinkle chopped cashews and raisins. I wanted to add almonds too, but it was empty when I opened its dabba.

Put the batter inside the oven and bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, take out your bakeware and check by inserting a fork or a knife. If it does not come out clean, bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Notes:

Now this cake will not rise so don’t curse yourself that why you wasted an hour of your life :mrgreen:

Let it cool down a bit, cut a small part of it and taste it. Found it to be too ‘non-sugary’? Worry not!! Cut out your cake into neat slices and make a clean spread of honey on top of it and serve it to yourself or any willing-to-eat souls.

Reaction in the family :

First bite

“This is cake aa??”

“But it does not taste like cake at all”

“Arre, you forgot to put sugar”

After 30 minutes

“Where is that cake Visha, give me another piece”

“There is a subtle hint of sweetness, it’s not bland at all. It tastes so good Visha”

After 35 minutes

All is left is one slice of the cake, which I think I will have on Monday, after returning from work. Alas, that was nowhere to be found 😥

So my dear readers, the final conclusion of this great experiment is that you can have sugar less cakes 🙂 I have named it the No egg-no butter-banana-dates-honey cake. Suggestions are most welcome.

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Want to make your Friday/Saturday/Sunday evening exciting?

Gather your friends or your family or your partner or if no one is there, just make your phone silent for 2 minutes and play this awesome, awesome song and dance away to glory. If I speak for myself, I found it difficult not to get swayed by this musical piece, do let me know your views 😉

 

Culinary tales

Time9 months before marriage

Characters: Visha and Zack

“So what are your specialities in the kitchen?”

(Umm..eating?) Oh, nothing great..am not much of a cook, dont get the time anyways”

“Yeah, yeah that is understandable. My mom and sister are awesome cooks. They usually compete with each other.”

“Um hmm”

“Do you know how to cook?”

Oh yeah, I cook pretty good. My friends will vouch for my chicken roast at any time

“Anything in vegetarian?”

“I can make sambar and potato fry”

“Thats my favourite combination”

“Oh is it, then deal – I will make it for you after marriage”

“Everyday?”

“Huh??”

“You will make the same dish everyday?”

“No, you learn cooking something different than this. Then we will make a chart for the week. 3 days we will have potato fry and the rest of the days you cook whatever you know”

“Why only 3 days?”

“You are not going to cook at all or what”

“Of course I will, but not sure if anybody would want to taste it. I made rasam a couple of years ago. When I tasted it, it was worse than plain water. Dont want to make your family go through similar trauma you see”

“Hmm, things will work out, don’t worry”

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Timemy first day in the kitchen after marriage

Characters: Sister-in-law, Visha and Zack

“Lets have a hot cup of tea from the new lady in the house”

Sure, would you like to have elaichi tea? You will love the aroma and the taste of it

“But nobody here have tried anything apart from the normal tea. We all would rather have the normal one dear”

No, you should try it at least once, everyone will like it

(Smiling) Ok dear, go ahead”

(after 15 minutes)

Here you go

“That looks good Visha, it should taste good as well, everybody is going to ask you to make tea from now onwards”

(Thrilled) Oh that would be my pleasure

(no reaction for 1 minute from anyone. There are 5 people in the room and each one is giving the other dubious looks)

Dear, are you sure this is tea?

“Oh yeah, maybe nobody liked the elachi in it”

“No dear, what you have done is you have made us elaichi coffee instead of elaichi tea”

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After few months down the line, I started cooking stuff that was at least edible (not sure if it was eatable). Nobody had the need to rush to a hospital after eating my food. That is how I judge between good food and bad food 😛

Somewhere after about 6 months, I was blessed by Goddess Annapoorna Devi and a recipe came into my mind. I had come from office and most of the family members were out on a family function. It was just me, Zack and my father-in-law. So taking a chance I implemented what all I had in my mind. And viola, a new recipe was born. Till date, I am asked how do I make such a dish – which is so easy to make but a pure delight to the taste buds.

What is it you ask? I do not know actually. The core ingredients are rice and red chilli powder, with some onions and whatever vegetables are available. According to the ladies of my house, it is neither fried rice nor biryani. No, not pulao too.

Even though I had this path breaking achievement, I could not satisfactorily dish up a decent meal. Something or the other would be amiss. Sometimes the salt, sometimes the masala. To put it in Zack’s words – ” Everything is perfect Visha, but I am unable to relish the dish “.

14 months down the line, I can declare that I can cook up the perfect meal – starters, main course and dessert. What brought about the change? No special ingredient nor any secret masala. I found out that when I cook without the burden of expectations in my heart, every single thing comes out well. When I am trying to please someone or someone is trying to judge my cooking I tend to make mistakes.

On an afterthought, that’s how ‘ Visha’s rice ‘ was born( yes, that is how the above mentioned rice recipe is known in my family ).