Thursday, 1 October 2015

Rasgulla (Ricotta Cheese balls in Light Brown Sugar Syrup)

My mother and I simply adore the simplicity portrayed by a famous Bengali dessert called 'Rasgulla'. This cheese dumpling is amazingly versatile to prepare as you can always substitute white sugar with dark molasses kind of sugar to make its light syrup. Apart from that, ricotta cheese is so easy to make at home that leaves fresh  and delicate flavour after one bite. Its a refreshing and tantalizing dessert that will leave you awe after each dumpling. 

         I have no idea about making 'Paneer' or an Indian version of cottage cheese or ricotta chesse until recently I bought a packet of proceed cheese slices from a supermarket. I didn't even bother to check the ingredients on the label but something struck me to check the label. When I went through the ingredients, I came across one particular item called rennet which later I found out to be made of calf's stomach. In retrospect, I was petrified to contemplate that all the while I've been consuming something gross. Well, I'm not a vegetarian but I do avoid eating meat or chicken. Most of the time, my meal consists of vegetables with some fish. 

        I decided to try making ricotta cheese for tiramisu as it's very expensive here in Malaysia. I checked few sites but end up with gayathriscookspot. She has got such a lovely website with varieties of vegetarian cake recipes. She is my inspiration for making cheese but I also made alteration to the original recipe that it no longer has any similarity. Would you believe, if I say, I made the ricotta cheese from full cream milk powder. Now, I can see some of you looking down your glasses or even raising your eyebrow showing disagreement. Trust me, it tasted so good that I didn't find the cheese to be dry but rich and creamy in a good way. I mean it didn't leave oily sensation after taste. I seldom bake or use cheese, heavy cream or whipping cream.Now, this sounds awkward, you may be thinking, is she really from this world. 1/8 cup of good quality unsalted butter made the ricotta cheese full of moisture and a generous cup of thick luscious yoghurt (not sour) rendered the cheese to something soft. 

         Let's check the recipe. I hope you will enjoy this as much I did. Since I'm totally hooked with this ricotta cheese, my mind is thinking how to utilize this gorgeous beauty.

Ingredients :

Full Cream milk powder : 2 generous cups ( do not use instant, please)
Thick homemade curd (use the first day curd not the sour one) : 1 cup
Lemon juice : 1/8 cup
Good quality unsalted butter: 1/8 cup 
Boiling water : 3 cups
Saffron : few strands
Ice cubes : a bowl 
Jaggery or molasses or palm sugar : as much as you want
Water : as much as you want to submerge the dumplings


1. Mix milk powder with 3 cups of hot boiling water and pour this liquid into a heavy bottom pan. At this point, you may add 1/8 cup of butter. Let it come to a rolling boil.

2. Then, gradually, stir in thick curd and lemon juice. Immediately, switch off the stove. The yoghurt and lemon juice will coagulate and curdle the milk. Once you see the milk separating from its whey, now you need to add some ice cubes to stop the cooking process and prevent the cheese from turning rubbery. Ice cubes will retain the softness of the cheese.

3. Pour the entire mixture into a colander that nicely wrapped with cheese cloth or muslin cloth. If you find the mixture in the colander still warm or hot, then add in some ice cubes.

4. Collected whey can be used in many other recipes so you need not discard it.

5.  The soft cheese gathered in the muslin cloth must be drained for lets say overnight tied to a wooden spoon that lay crossed on a big bowl. This process is actually to continue collecting some of moisture in it.

5. The next day, using a spatula, you have to mix and turn the ricotta cheese for 15 minutes until its nice and soft. At this stage, you can add saffron to flavour the cheese. 

6. Shape it into small balls without any cracks which later will expand double in size in the sugar water.

7.Get a wide bottom pan, add molasses or jaggery or palm sugar( as much as you want, I prefer less sweet) and enough water to submerge the dumplings. Let it boil until the sugar dissolves in the water. Check the sweetness at this stage. We are not looking for thick sugar syrup consistency but normal light sugar water.

8. Slowly, slide the dumplings into the sugar water. Make sure they have enough space to expand later. Cover the pan for 5 minutes. Let it cook in the sugar water for another 5 to 10 minutes. The texture of the dumplings will improve the next day, so I advice you to eat after chilling for at least 4 hours. Since this dumpling is made of milk, it has to be consumed within two to three days. 

Happy Cooking



Monday, 8 June 2015

Moist Banana Cake

This is a very moist and buttery kind of cake. An excellent treat for evening tea or morning breakfast. Well, extra fat and sugar will definitely require you to spend more hours in gym to burn those stubborn fat but it's okay, when taken in moderation or once in a blue moon. Enjoy!

Moist Banana Cake

Ingredients : 

Pillsbury Atta Flour or Chapati flour : 1 cup plus 1 tbsp
Brown castor sugar : 1/4 cup
Mashed ripened bananas : 1 cup
unsalted butter : 125 gm
Vanilla essence : 1 tsp
Eggs (Grade B) : 2
Fresh unsweetened thick milk : 2 tbsp
Baking powder : 1/2 tsp
Baking soda  :  1/2 tsp
Salt : 1/4 tsp

Method :

1. Leave the butter and eggs be at room temperature before we start the baking process.
2. Now, using a hand mixer cream the softened butter and castor sugar till pale colour and without the specks of sugar.

3. Gradually add beaten eggs little by little by beating simultaneously. Do not add eggs all at the same time as it will curdle butter mixture.

4. Mix dry ingredients such as flour, leavening agents and salt. Sieve them thrice.

5. You may start adding mashed banana alternated by flour mixture. Mix it well. This time vanilla essence and milk can be incorporated.

6. Pour the batter in a baking pan and tap it lightly on the ground twice to even the top.

7. Bake at 180 degree Celsius for 40 minutes or till you get a nice brown spot on top and when inserted with a skewer, it comes out clean. Then, the cake is baked well. 

8. Leave the cake on a rack before cutting into slices.


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Karuppatti Aapam (Palm Sugar Pancake with Coconut Milk Sauce)

An  effortless way of making aapam or Indian style of fermented pancake. Most of the ingredients you can find in your  pantry except for sour dosa batter which I will post the method of making later. Enjoy!

Karuppatti aapam


Ingredients for aapam or pancake :

Grated fresh white coconut : 1 cup
Sour dosa batter : 2 cups
Rice flour : 2 cups
Karuppatti (Palm sugar) : 1/2 -1 cup (depends on how sweet you want your pancake to be)
Salt :  1/2 tsp

Ingredients for making salted coconut milk:

Freshly grated coconut : 1 cup
Hot water 
salt : 1/2 tsp 

Method :

1. Grind the grated coconut, dosa batter and rice flour with 1/4 cup of water or little bit more till become smooth paste ( You should not add a lot of water. This batter has to be thick at this stage.)

2. Now mix 1/2 tsp of salt with the aapam batter and let it ferment overnight. You can keep the closed batter in a dry place outside. (Do not keep in refrigerator during fermentation process) 

3.The next morning, you can prepare palm sugar syrup by boiling it with 3/4 cup of water till well dissolved and slightly thick. Strain the impurities left at the bottom of the sugar syrup. Let it cool completely (You can also prepare sugar syrup prior to making aapam in the morning).

4. Mix palm sugar syrup with fermented pancake batter (You need not add all the syrup, taste the batter while mixing it in). At this stage, you need to add water to make it slightly a loose batter but not watery.

5. Extract coconut milk by using freshly grated coconut and hot water. We want to obtain semi thick milk so adjust the water quantity. Mix salt. This is the sauce for the pancake. It's an unsweetened coconut milk sauce.

6. For making this pancake, a special kind of wide and hollow pan with two handles at sides is needed. Add, 1/2 tsp of oil into the pan and wipe it of lightly using a tissue. First scoop a ladle full of batter and start swirling around ( If the batter is too thick, you may not able to swirl well.So keep the batter loose but not watery) . Keep the flame on low. You will notice it has a shape of a round boat. This pancake once cooked will loosen sides indicating time to remove it from the heat.

7. Drizzle generous amount of salted coconut milk on it before serving. If you can't find this type of pan, then you can make conventional pancake but thinner perhaps. 


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Drumstick Mild Soup (Murungakai Soup)

Drumstick vegetable is high in vitamin C, and a good source of potassium, magnesium, dietary fiber and calcium. Because it has abundant fiber, the cooked pulp when blended to a smooth paste will have similar texture of collagen. So, it's important to dilute more water when making soup with this type of vegetable. At home, we prefer to slurp the thick, jelly sort of soup as it is so comforting during the cold or rainy season. You can find this vegetable in Indian store or market. Instant energy can be gained through this soup.

Drumstick soup


Ingredients :

Drumstick or murungakai (flesh) : 1 1/4 cup
Drumstick boiled water plus extra water : 3 cups
Green chillies : 1- 2 
Big ripe tomatoes : 2 
Cinnamon : 1 stick
Star anise : 1
Cloves : 5
Fennel seeds : 1/2 tsp 
Whole black peppercorns: 1 tsp
Turmeric powder : 1/4 tsp 
Asofetida : a pinch
Salt :  as needed 
Coriander leaves : for garnishing

Method :

1.Boil the chopped and washed drumsticks of 3 inches in water. After, the outer part is slightly soft, you may scope its flesh out. Grind the flesh with little water to a smooth paste. Do not discard the water as it will be the flavorful stock for our soup.

2. In a heated pan, pour two teaspoons of oil, start tempering the cinnamon, whole black pepper, cloves, star anise and fennel seeds until light brown and immediately add green chillies, asofetida and diced tomatoes with some salt. Fry the tomatoes until mashed.

3. Now, add drumstick paste, its water and more water depending on the consistency that you prefer. Followed by turmeric powder. By the time you add the drumstick paste, soup will become thick like jelly but not to worry you can add more water or reduce the amount of that paste. That paste is full of nutrient for your body.

4. Serve hot as it is.


Friday, 27 February 2015

Red Coconut and Sesame Seed Chutney

This chutney is commonly served with thosai, idli, vadai or any deep fried savory snacks. You can easily find this type of chutney when you visit any of the South Indian restaurants. This  chutney along with Green chilli coconut chutney and sambar are popular dipping for Indian breakfast type of food. It's fresh, spicy and salty with extra zing that comes from raw small red onions. By adding two tablespoons of toasted white sesame seeds infused the nutty fragrance and enhance the flavor of fresh coconut. A cup of grated coconut seems to be a lot but it is a crucial component in this recipe as it gives dept and richness. Furthermore, its a kind of dipping you could prepare in jiffy.

Red Coconut and Sesame seed Chutney

Ingredients :

Grated fresh white coconut : 1 cup
Small red onions : 8
Tamarind paste : 1/4 tsp
White sesame seeds : 2 tbsp (toasted till golden brown in a heated pan without oil)
Asofetida or hing or perungaiyam : 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds : 1 tsp
White urad dal: 1 tsp 
Curry leaves : a sprig
Dry red chilli : 9
Salt :  as needed

Method :

1. Grind the grated coconut, 8 dry red chillies, 8 small onions, asofetida, tamarind paste, salt and toasted sesame seeds by adding little water. The consistency has to be a bit loose but not watery and good enough for dipping. Make sure you process the mixture to a smooth paste. If using chunk of asofetida, then fry it in a little oil before grinding along with coconut mixture. 

2. In a heated pan, pour 1/2 tbsp of oil, start tempering the mustard seeds until you hear the crackling sound and then followed by add urad dal. Fry the urad dal till golden brown and immediately add one dry red chilli and curry leaves.

3. Pour the fried ingredients into the ground paste. Mix well and check whether the seasonings are perfect. If it is too thick, add water.

4. Serve this chutney with thosai, idli, pakora or any fried savory snack items. 


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Eggless Pineapple Custard Jelly

Enjoy this wonderful and cooling dessert. Use only fresh fruits such as pineapple, strawberries or peaches. This recipe is using minimal sugar you may add more according to your preference.

Bon App├ętit !

Eggless Pineapple Custard Jelly

Ingredients :

Plain jelly Stripes: 1/4 cup (cut into small pieces and measure)
Fresh ripe pineapple : 1 cup
Brown caster sugar : 3 - 4 t tbsp (or more)
Salted butter : 1 tbsp
Water : 3 cups
Unsweetened evaporated milk : 1/2 cup
Vanilla extract :  1/2 tsp

Method :

1. First, soak the plain jelly strips in a sufficient water for an hour.
2. Then, boil the squeezed jelly strips in 3 cups of water until the jelly strips dissolved.

3. While waiting for dissolving process to finish, you may proceed by melting salted butter and some brown sugar till lightly caramelized. 

4. Now, mix the cubed pineapples and saute for 10 minutes.

5. After, jelly strips dissolved completely, you may add 1/2 cup of evaporated milk. Let it come to boil. Switch of the stove. 

6. Lastly, add 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence and pineapple mixture. Give a good stir.

7. Pour the jelly in a preferred mould and chill before serving.


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Green Chilli Coconut Chutney (Dipping for thosai, vadai and idli)

This green chilli and coconut chutney is a basic culinary skill that should be mastered by all in their household. It is essential for Indians to serve chutney as a condiment for thosai, idli or flat-bread or even fried savory snack items. This type of chutney is considered to be fresh since not much of cooking is done on stove. Infact, raw and wholesome ingredients such as grated white coconut and green chillies are acting as a natural antiseptic promoter and the tempering ingredients will be able to enhance our digestive system. Therefore, it is always great to serve this fresh on the same day and you may even garnish the chutney with some coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or coriander leaves.

Green Chilli Coconut Chutney

Ingredients :

Grated fresh white coconut : 1/2 cup
Green chillies : 2 
Ginger : 1 1/2 inch piece
Roasted gram dal (Pottukadalai) : 1 tbsp
Asofetida : 2 pinches
Mustard seeds : 1/2 tsp
White urad dal: 1/2 tsp 
Dry red chilli : 1
Salt :  as needed

Method :

1. Grind the grated coconut, green chillies, small piece of ginger and roasted gram dal to a smooth paste by adding little water. The consistency has to be a bit loose but not watery and good enough for dipping. 

2. In a heated pan, pour two teaspoons of oil, start tempering the mustard seeds until you hear the crackling sound and then add urad dal. Fry the urad dal till golden brown and immediately add dry red chilli, asofetida and salt.

3. Pour the fried ingredients into the ground paste. Mix well and check whether the seasonings are perfect. If it is too thick, add water.

4. Serve this chutney with thosai, idli, pakora or any fried savory snack items.