Bake soft, moist and dense ‘Carrot Cake’

carrot-cake-3Look how beautiful! Those white clouds on surface are from powdered sugar sprinkle

Following the red/orange trail of carrots, I also made a carrot cake. Carrot cake Universally approved needs no introduction. As an amateur baker I always look for distinguishing properties of any cake, what make a carrot cake the best in lot; soft, moist, dense and natural sweetness of carrots. Let’s bake a easy and filling carrot cake(before winter is gone). This recipe of from Nita Mehta’s book Cakes & Cookies, there are slight variations from the original recipe.

carrot-cake-4Those tiny black things are cinnamon, lack of fine powder(Need a new grinder!!!)

Ingredients

  1. Finely grated carrot – 1 and 1/2 cup
  2. Egg – 2
  3. All purpose flour – 1 cup
  4. Baking powder – 1 tsp
  5. Baking soda – 1 tsp
  6. Powdered sugar – 3/4 cup
  7. Vegetable oil – 1/2 cup
  8. Powdered cinnamon – 1/2 tsp

Method

  1. Preheat oven at 160°C, grease(flour and butter) 9 inch round baking pan
  2. In one bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon powder
  3. In another medium size bowl beat eggs and powdered sugar until pale yellow and frothy
  4. Gradually add oil in egg and sugar mixture, while beating continuously, keep the mixture aside
  5. Add carrot to flour mix from step 1, like coating carrots with flour
  6. Finally add carrot-flour mixture to egg-sugar-oil mixture, mix with wooden spoon or whisk
  7. Pour cake mixture into baking pan and bake for 50-55 minutes in preheated oven. Check by inserting a toothpick in center of cake, if cake is done it should come out clean

carrot-cake-1After toothpick test, right out of oven

Wouldn’t you agree Carrot Cake is best tea-time cake?

Zaina

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Oh and I finished Dexter! Finale season was worst of all, and the last episode was worst episode in the worst season, sigh!

Winter Essentials: Dad’s ‘Gajar ka Halwa’ Recipe

I’m home!

It’s been so long, believe me, I tried to be back soon but something* came up.

Now that I’m here I am going to note down the yummiest sweet one could make with carrots; Gajar Ka Halwa by Dad. Why Dad? Talk about that after recipe…

gajar-ka-halwa-1Gajar ka Halwa in all its glory

Makes enough for 2-3 days for a couple.

Ingredients

  1. Red Carrots – 1 kgs
  2. Milk – 1 liter
  3. Sugar – 250 grams
  4. Cardamom – 2-3 pods (seeds)
  5. Ghee/Butter – 2 tbsp
  6. Assorted Dry fruits – 1/4 cup (raisins, almonds, cashews)

Note: You can change the quantity of this recipe by using the proportion; Quantity of carrot in kilograms equals the quantity of milk in liters, and sugar is usually 1/4 of carrot weight(also depends on how sweet one likes the sweet 😛 )

Method

  1. Grate carrots
  2. In a heavy bottom pan/sauce pan, add milk and grated carrots. Boil carrot and milk together till there is no milk left. Continuously stirring if on high flame or you can leave it on medium flame and stir now and then, just to make sure it doesn’t burn and stick to bottom
  3. After the mixture is thick(when all milk in gone in air) add sugar. Sugar will release water and the mixture will again become thin, which should be cooked until there is no liquid left(stirring is important)
  4. Temper carrot mixture with ghee and cardamom. In a separate small pan, fry cardamom seeds in ghee and pour on carrot mixture
  5. Garnish with sliced/cut assorted dry fruits and indulge!
  6. Can be stored in refrigerator up-to a week

gajar-ka-halwa-0Boiling carrot and milk

gajar-ka-halwa-2A humble look

gajar-ka-halwa-3Are you watching closely?

Winter always called for Gajar Ka Halwa, it is mandatory to make this at least once every winter. Dad always made this for us; one cause he loves cooking(now and then) and two grating carrots is too much of work for Mom. There were days when we woke up in morning and were presented with Gajar Ka Halwa in breakfast, Dad always cooked this in night, like overnight magic.

This is the basic version of recipe, most people like adding Khoa to enhance richness of flavor. If you wish you can add khoa after Halwa is cooked and off flame, but still hot and give it mix, just before garnishing.

Zaina

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That something is Dexter. I watched two seasons before marriage, since that I had time between two jobs(leaving old and joining new) I wanted to make a lot of posts and schedule them for every week, but thanks to starting with Dexter season three I couldn’t stop. And now that I’m on final season (SE08 E09) I’m sad that it is going to end and dreading the finale which has been criticized widely.

Aurora red healthy Beetroot Flatbread(paratha)

Hello from a healthy breakfast table on beautiful Saturday!

Well beetroot are too good for heath but they don’t taste that better so what do we do? I would always blend it into a pretty pink smoothie and gulp down quickly. When Dimple from Shivaay Delights initially posted Beetroot paratha’s I thought, oh what a great idea! I totally forgot about it until she reblogged it last week and I set to get my hands red this time without any delays.

beetroot-flatbread-00

For full recipe go here.

I changed two ingredients according to my preference; replaced ground cumin with ajwain and cayenne pepper with fresh green chillies (finely chopped), cause I love green chillies and most of the time end up using them in place of red chili powder and green chillies are healthier too.

Now tell me, how good they look?

beetroot-flatbread-01The color is so like Pantone Aurora red!

Red tips:-

I don’t have a food processor and I kneaded the dough with hand, while doing so it is a good idea to mix chillies in last to avoid hands from burning.

It is a good to let covered dough rest for 10-15 minutes before starting to roll it, the gluten will develop, rolling will be smooth and flat-breads will not crack while rolling.

Prathas’s are best enjoyed with curd or mango pickle.

beetroot-flatbread-02

My flat-breads turned out so delicious, they dint taste like beetroot at all and husband totally loved them. (Thanks to Dimple for such easy healthy idea 🙂 )

Would you try beetroot paratha(flat-bread)? Any other easier ways to use beetroot in cooking? Share your tips and experience.

Happy Weekend!

Zaina
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Homemade pizza from scratch with loads of mozzarella

Hello from a cooler Bangalore, we are slowly progressing towards winter season(my second favorite season after rain and before summer, summers in India are not pretty). In our recent trip to Coonoor I bought some locally made cheese from Gray’s Hill, which are made from 100% vegetarian sources(as per the description on the package)!  Gray’s Hill cheese are free from preservative hence the shelf life of soft cheese is relatively less. I had to use mozzarella asap and thought what better way apart from a pizza. I’ve had a lot of pizza but baked only a few (very few) and never made the crust myself (10 Rs per crust in Reliance fresh guys).

pizza crust

Most of the recipes on internet for pizza crust are all of very awkward proportions; 3 1/4 cups flour, 2+1tbsp flour etc. Hence my recipe is not from any particular source but i worked it out myself reading different suggestion for flour, water and yeast proportions. For the toppings the mozzarella had to be hero of the pizza so only tomatoes and garlic.

Ingredients:

Pizza crust

  1. Flour – 2 cups
  2. Water – 3/4 cups warm
  3. Active dry yeast – 1 tsp
  4. Salt – 1 tsp

Toppings

  1. Red tomato sauce – 1 cup
  2. Mozzarella cheese – 1 1/2 cups (grated)
  3. Tomatoes – 1, finely sliced
  4. Olive oil – 1 tbsp
  5. Oregano – 2 tsp (dried herbs)
  6. Red pepper flakes – 2 tsp

Method:

Crust first

  1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water until fully mixed, rest it for 2-3 minutes
  2. In a mixing blow, mix flour and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour yeast and water mixture, mix with hand
  3. Mix flour and add remaining 1/4 cup of water  gradually to form a dough (you may not require full water, stop adding water when dough is smooth)
  4. Knead dough until smooth and there are no lumps
  5. Let it rest for 2 hours (the volume will double as yeast ferments)

Baking

  1. Preheat oven at 220 degrees Celsius
  2. After 2 hours the flour would have fermented, knead it slightly again (to remove access air)
  3. Divide in two part and make balls to roll the crust
  4. Roll crust on floured surface into any shape and the thickness you want (mine came around 8-9 inches in diameter)
  5. Prick the rolled crust using a fork, leave sides without pricks
  6. Spread little olive oil onto the crust using fingers(or if you have brush you can brush the oil)
  7. Spread 2-3 tbsp tomato sauce(recipe is in my lasagna post, linked in ingredients)
  8. Spread 3/4 cups grated mozzarella, leaving 1/2 inch on sides (as cheese will melt and spread)
  9. Add sliced tomatoes on top
  10. Lastly sprinkle some chilli flakes, oregano and little salt
  11. Bake for 15-16 minutes in preheated oven at 220 degree Celsius or until the crust starts to become light golden brown
  12. Slice and eat hot, melting and dripping cheese
  13. Repeat the same steps for another dough ball

pizza-02

Guys making crust at home is simple and cheap and fresh, try it. What is your perfect pizza crust recipe?

Ciao!

How to make shiney, chewy, extra-chocolaty, cracked top cocoa walnut brownies

Mars-surface What is this, surface of Mars?

Brownies, are my husband’s favorite sweets! Ever since we got married he has been asking for me to bake it. I had no idea how to make brownies, the only brownies I ever had were from café coffee day, even if I made them I would not be able to tell if they come out right. So I asked him how he likes his brownies; ‘uhmm… like solid hot chocolate but not rock hard uhmm.. they should taste good’.  You see that explanation did not help, then I went to internet. Most of the recipe’s main ingredient was dark chocolate, now it is not like that I don’t like chocolate but it is a costly affair, also this was not available at home. Which made me search for recipes with cocoa powder and luckily I stumbled to Smitten Kitchen. By this time I knew how I want my brownies to be; shiny, chocolaty (extra), chewy and cracked top!

 cocoa-walnut-brownies-2Look at those shiny gems! *munch munch*

Ingredients:

  1. Cocoa powder – 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp
  2. Flour – 1/2 cup
  3. Granulated sugar – 1 1/4 cups
  4. Salt – 1/4 tsp
  5. Unsalted butter – 10 tbsp
  6. Eggs – 2 large, cold
  7. Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
  8. Crushed walnut – 2/3 cup

Method:

  1. Preheat oven at 162 ⁰ C. Line square (8 inch) baking pan with foil, put pan upside down and cover it with kitchen foil press firmly to get the exact shape of pan. Now line the foil inside of pan leaving extra foil on side to make handles. This will help in taking the brownie out of pan easily after it is baked.(I did not have square pan, I used 9 inch round cake pan)
  2. Make a double boiler; place the mixing bowl on top of sauce pan filled with simmering water. Make sure water doesn’t touch the mixing bowl.
  3. Add butter in mixing bowl and once it is melted add sugar, cocoa, and salt. Mix till all ingredients are combined together
  4. Let the mixture be on double boiler till it is hot(to test smitten kitten suggests dipping your finger and checking if it burns 😀 , which means takeout as quickly as possible ). It took approx. 15 minutes for me
  5. Let the mixture cool down until it is warm, add vanilla and eggs (one at a time), stir with wooden spoon until shiny
  6. Now add flour and stir till the white flour is not visible
  7. Add walnuts
  8. Spread on foil lined pan and shove into the lower rack of oven, set the timer for 30 minutes. Do the toothpick test by inserting it in the brownie to check if it comes out clean, if yes the brownie is done if not bake for another 5-10 minutes. (mine took 35 minutes)
  9. Let them cool , afterwards cut in square shape and decorate with chocolate sauce if require

But you see husband wanted hot brownies and I also couldn’t wait for them to cool and cut, this happened!

cocoa walnut browniesExpert tip: Don’t wait for them to cool down, cut in nice shape, whatevaa… eat from the baking pan as soon as they are out from oven!

How do you like your brownies? Hot, soft, gooey, sticky…?

This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ramazan Mubarak with easy malai cookies

Ramazan Mubarak from wet and cold Bangalore. I thank Allah that we are in Bangalore, whereas in my parents and in-laws place monsoon has not arrived yet and apparently it is raining fire there. Bangalore weather had made our fasting easier.

In today’s post I’ll share the recipe which I recreated from ‘Nita Mehta’s Cakes And Cookies’ book. This is the only recipe book I own, as most of the recipes are available on food blogs, but making from a book makes it easier than internet. This book makes a good start for beginners; small in size, glossy pages with clear pictures and easy to follow step by step instruction. Also the book is reasonably priced under 100 Rs. what else you want?

malai-cookie-02

Most of the Indians accumulate malai (milk-creme) in fridge to make ghee later (at least most of the people I know). I had a lot of malai in the fridge and too much ghee made from previous batches, now I did not want to throw away the good malai too, thus malai biscuits were made!

This must be the easiest baking I’ve ever done. The recipe is simple with only three ingredients which will be available in your pantry. And the measurement in also equal to each other.  Here comes the simplest ingredients list:-

  1.  Malai (milk-cream) – 1/2 cup
  2. Caster sugar – 1/2 cup
  3. Flour – 1/2 cup
  4. Almonds – 8-9 for making biscuits look pretty

How to:-

  1. Preheat oven at 200 degree C
  2. Mix sugar, flour and malai with a fork to form a soft dough
  3. Dived dough in 9-10 equal parts and make round balls, slightly flatten and press halved almonds on center
  4. Arrange biscuits one inch apart on baking try lined with parchment paper
  5. Bake for 20 minutes (the book says 10-12 minutes but it took me 10-12 minutes more for biscuits to become hard)
  6. After removing from oven let them cool to become firm

malai-cookie-01

That’s all folks, isn’t it easiest?

PS: One user on instagram commented that the cookies look like idlies, I’m heartbroken 😦

King of fruits Mango salad Ft. corn – a cool salad for Indian summers

Hello from more cooler Bangalore, it has started to rain more frequently since last two weeks and yesterday there was some hailing in selected part of city. </weather report ends here>

I cannot wait for rainy season(my favorite time of year) to arrive in full fledged, but the irony is with arrival of rains my favorite fruit mango will start to disappear, slowly. Now you ask why I’m posting the mango recipes when they will be off stalls soon, I say I was too busy to eat as much mangoes so that I can survive till next season. Let’s get to making a simple delicious and quick salad with mangoes featuring sweet corn:

Ingredients: 

  1. Two big mangoes
  2. Half a cup sweet corns
  3. Mint leaves
  4. Chat masala – 1 tsp

???????????????????????????????

Method:

Boil corns for 5-6 minutes or till they become soft, once done let them cool.
In the meantime peel, slice and dice mangoes.
Wash and chop mint leaves, I used very special type of mint leaves in this mix which I harvested from here.
In a large bowl toss corn with chat masala, then add mangoes and mix gently, finish off with adding mint and giving a gentle toss again. We don’t want to add too much of chat masala or it will suppress the smell of mangoes. Why add chat masala at all? You know for the love of Indian spices 😉

This is how the finished salad should look like:

mango mint corn Salad

Enjoy while it lasts,
Mango lover