Monday, April 30, 2012

Eggless coconut cake and mini bundt cake

Those who follow me on face book, know that I had hosted a get together for about 9 people 10 days back. The dinner was hosted for our friend's mother and sister who had come visiting from Bangalore. Even though I have hosted many dinners and lunches earlier, this one was slightly different. What made this get together special was, our friend's mom and sister are from the same locality in Bangalore as us.  So that practically makes us neighbors .  is it not? Cooking for them was an extremely pleasurable experience for me. I wanted everything to be perfect and flawless. I chose the menu carefully before going ahead with the invitation.

At first, I had decided to serve Gulab Jamun with Ice cream for desserts. But I decided to bake this cake at the last moment. I had a tin of coconut milk that was lying unopened for many days. Besides that, I was dying to try this recipe from Champa;s blog. But there was one tiny hitch. I did not want the cake with a glaze and I did not have enough  time to frost the cake. That is when the idea of serving the cake with raspberry jam hit me. I just sliced the cake in two. Spread some jam and sandwiched it with another slice. Spread some more jam on the top and just sprinkled some desiccated coconut. I had a lot of fun sprinkling the cake as I had Purvi to help. She just could not stop the sprinkling. The cake was simple, decadent and yet full of flavour. When it came to serving the cake to my guests, I was extremely nervous. I waited with bated breath while they (including S) took the first bite of the cake. But it looked like all my apprehensions were unnecessary as they all loved the cake. As a matter of fact, they were surprised that, that the cake was eggless. If I should be thankful to someone, then it should be Champa of Versatile vegetarian kitchen. Do give this cake a try. I am sure you will fall in love with it as much as I did.

Eggless coconut cake recipe:
Preparation time: 30min
Baking time: 1hr
Makes- 1 8" cake and a dozen mini bundt cakes

All purpose flour - 3 cups
Baking Powder - 2 tsp
Baking Soda - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 2/3 cup
Salt - 1 tsp
Unsweetened dessicated coconut - 1 cup+2bsp
Coconut milk - 14 Oz can
Thick Yogurt - 1/2 cup 
Canola Oil - 2/3 cup
Cardamom extract or powder - 1/2 tsp
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp 
Raspberry jam- 3tbsp

  • Sift the all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Mix 1 cup of desiccated coconut and set aside
  • In another bowl, mix the coconut milk, oil, sugar, yogurt, sugar, cardamom powder and vanilla extract and whisk well.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and dust the baking pan with oil and flour and set aside.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir. Do not over mix.
  • Pour the batter into the greased baking pan and bake for 50-60min or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Turn the cake into a wire rack and cool completely.
  • Once the cake is cooled, cut the cake horizontally into two slices. Place the bottom half of the plate on a serving plate and spread a tbsp of jam on the cake evenly.
  • Cover this with other ha;f of the cake and spread the remaining jam on the cake and sprinkle with grated coconut and serve.
Note: This recipe is originally a recipe for bundt cake. Since I did not have a 10" bundt pan, I baked in a 8" round cake pan and in my mini bundt pan. You can bake this cake in a loaf pan but then the baking time might differ.
This cake does not brown too much. So you might want to keep a check on that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A glimpse of Serengeti and Ngorongoro

Lake Manyara
I wanted to visit Serengeti even before I came to Tanzania. I think the Phantom comics had influenced me even more than I realized. Even though S was equally enthusiastic about visiting the National park, we had to wait for good 5 years for this dream to come true. When S surprised me by saying that we would be going to Serengheti and Ngorongoro during the Easter break, I was thrilled but at the same time I had some concerns. One- it is the wet season out here, and I was not sure if we would be able to see the wildlife to the best possible extent. Two- I was concerned about the safety of my hyperactive 2year old. Even though we have been to short safaris earlier, a safari in Serengeti is quite different. In this case, we were leading a gypsy life for almost 5 days. I thought that would be too much for a toddler. But I guess the God's were with us. Despite the clouds being over cast, it did not rain. We were lucky to get some amazing game views. As for my little girl, apart from having a great time, she lived on chocolates, juices and milk. Do I need to mention how much fun she had?

Ngorongoro at sunrise
 As for the Safari, it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. We visited three national Parks. Viz, The Serengeti, Lake Manyara and the Ngorngoro. And each one was very different from the other. If the Serengeti is was covered with the swampy grasslands, then the Lake Manyara National Park is a rain forest. The Ngorongoro again is very different. It almost has a man made quality to it. I felt like someone had scooped out 100Sq Kms of earth, dug a lake, spread a lawn and neatly arranged all the wildlife in it. It was like huge open air zoo. It was like paradise itself.
The Ngorongoro Crater
To me, it was something much more than a Safari. It was much more than seeing wildlife in action. To me, it was nothing short of a pilgrimage. When I was driving through the grasslands of Serengeti, i realised that I was actually driving through a world that had not changed in the past million years. These lands were actually the home of the early man (Olduvai Gorge). Some patterns like the migration, life, death and adaptation are most likely, as old as time itself. I came back home with something more than just pleasant memories. I came back with a nourished soul.

The Olduvai Gorge
The weaver Bird
The superb starling
Another Superb Starling
The Amado Lizard
The Giraffe Trio
The sun is not enough
The lone male
The galloping water bucks.
I know this a bad picture of the pretty bird. But you just can't focus when a 1000 ants are crawling all over you!!
The loving pride
Hungry again!!!

Tasting the drink

These two fawns were stalking the snake!!
The leopard turtle
There were atleast 6lakh wilde beasts in that area
Just loved the sight
The yellow billed falcon
Can you spot the rhinos??
The cutest blue monkey ever!!
The sun bird
The crowned crane

The Kori Bustard

At logger heads
Some poisonous things can beautiful as well
I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my memories with you!! Hope you enjoy them as well!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cauliflower Manchurian

I never meant to neglect my blog or take this blogging break. But some times, things don't exactly go as planned. Do they? First there was this kitchen make over. Yup. My kitchen got some new cabinets. After that, S just whisked me away to this wonderful Safari in Serengeti and Ngorongoro. This Safari was by far the most wonderful trip I have ever had. I have come back all refreshed and energized. I will write all about the trip in my next post. But before that, I want to post this recipe of this flavourful Indo-Chinese appetizer and/or side dish.

Gobi Manchurian is one S's favourite dishes. This was one of those first dishes that he asked me to perfect after marriage. He likes this dish so much that he could live on this and fried rice for a week without complaining. Despite being his favourite, he doesn't like this dish with Tomato sauce in it.  It took quite some trials (read disasters) for me to customize this dish to S's taste. But then the effort was worth it. The smile in his and the words "it's good" definitely made my day. I don't think there is a feeling any better than this. That makes this dish extremely special for me.

Cauliflower Manchurian Recipe :
Preparation time: 25min
Cooking time: 15min
Serves- 4

Cauliflower- 1large, separated into florets
Green bell pepper- 1large, chopped into cubes
Shallots- 3, chopped 
Spring onions- 2, chopped
Corn starch- 3 tbsp+ 2 tbsp
All purpose flour or maida- 3 tbsp
Green chilli- 1 chopped fine
Vegetable stock- 1-1/2 cup
Ginger-garlic paste- 1tsp
Vinegar- 1 tsp
Soya sauce- 2tbsp
White pepper powder- 1/4 tsp
Sugar- 1/4tsp
Salt to taste
Oil- 2tbsp+ to deep fry


  • Wash the cauliflower florets and drain well. 
  • Make a batter by mixing the All purpose flour, 3 tbsp of corn starch, chopped green chilli, spring onion  and a little salt to taste.
  • Mix the remaining corn starch with 3tbsp of water and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in wok. Dip each cauliflower floret in the batter and deep fry till golden brown. Remove from oil and drain well.
  • To make the gravy, heat 2tbsp of oil in a pan and add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for a min.
  • Add the chopped capsicum and shallots and fry for a min.
  • Stir in the soya sauce, vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Lower the heat and add the vinegar, white pepper powder, sugar, salt to taste.
  • Stir in the dissolved corn starch and cook stirring continuously till the mixture thickens.
  • Add the fried cauliflower florets and mix well. Allow the mixture to cook for two minutes and turn off the heat.
  • Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot.
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