Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Benne chakli or murukku

The fact that food bloggers are expert cooks is a common misconception. At least in my case, I can say that I am a good cook. But I am far from being an expert. If I was really an expert, then I would have posted the recipe for chaklis ages ago. It's sad that it took me several attempts to master my favorite snack. I had tried making this dish at least five times previously. And each time I ended up with a disastrous mess. I never got the perfect spirals. The dough would just break into small bits. I had almost given up on making this. But then, all those diwali recipes on the blogosphere made me want to try making chaklis once again. 

Chakli or murukku is a traditional snack that is prepared during any auspicious occasion. Be it marriage, or baby shower or festivities like diwali or Ganesh chaturti, you are sure to have chaklis on the menu. So you see, this savory, crunchy snack is a part of every auspicious menu.
I have always loved murukkus with black lentils in them. But I could not get hold of the urad dal flour in the super markets near by. And my mixer is not in such a good shape that it can powder lentils. I was looking for some alternatives when I came across the murukku recipe on Deepthi's blog.  Her recipe used cooked urad dal to make the murukkus. It sounded perfect. So there I was, trying to make my favorite snack again. This time, the chaklis came out perfect without any breaks or mess. To me, this recipe is a keeper.

To make these delicious spirals, the murukku press is required. Since I wanted my murukkus like mother's I used the old fashioned wooden press to make the murukkus. Although, the murukkus came out great, my poor arms had to pay the price. My arms were sore with all the pressing and they ached for the rest of the day. To prevent this, you can use the press where you can turn the dough into spirals rather than pressing it. 
Do not fret if you do not get perfect spirals the first time. Even if the murukkus are shapeless, they  will still taste delicious!!

Benne chakli or murukku recipe:
Preparation time: 10min
Cooking time: 30min
Makes- approximately 25-30 chaklis

Rice flour- 4cups (my cup measured 80ml)
Urad dal- 1 cup
Salt-1tsp or to taste
Asafetida or hing- a large pinch
Paprika powder- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1tsp
Butter- 2tbsp, melted
Oil to deep fry

  • Pressure cook the urad dal in 1-1/4 cups of water for 3-4 whistles or till completely cooked. Mash the dal and keep aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix the rice flour with the salt, paprika powder, asafetida, cumin seeds and butter and mix well.
  • Add the cooked urad dal and mix well. Add water little by little and mix to form a soft but firm dough. Divide the dough into 4-5 equal portions and keep aside.
  • Grease the insides of the chakli or murukku press with a little oil and fix the plate with one star. 
  • Place one portion of the dough in the press and place the other potion of the mould through the other hole one the top and press the dough onto a greased plastic sheet. Slightly rotate the murukku press round and round to get the spirals.
  • Remove the pressed dough from the plastic sheet and drop it into the hot oil. Fry the murukku on med high heat for a min. Reduce the flame to low and fry for a min more till golden brown.
  • Remove the fried murukku from hot oil and drain them on paper towels. Repeat the same procedure for the rest of the dough and serve with hot coffee or tea

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beet and strawberry smoothie

Did I tell you that Purvi has started going her new school?? Oh yes. She has been attending the new school since the month of August. The thing with this new school is that, she has to attend full school two days a week. Needless to say, the long hours at school tires her out. Although she is provided with lunch and snacks at school, she comes back home with a hungry look in her eyes. Since 4:00 pm is an odd hour to have lunch, I make smoothies and keep it ready for her. This smoothie is one of those "after school smoothie"

Apart from the fact that Purvi loves this"pink" smoothie, I find it extremely easy to sneak vegetables, seeds and other healthy ingredients in her food. This smoothie is great as an after school snack or for quick healthy breakfast.

Since October is the breast cancer awareness month, I thought of making this smoothie as a way of honoring the lovely campaign. Since this smoothie is made up of all the super foods that fight cancer, I thought this is a great recipe to be shared for the Pinktober event. 
An antioxidant and anti-inflammatory packed drink that is sure to impress your loved ones. Do not let the beets mislead you from making this delicious drink. Try taking a sip from this drink and you will be happy you did!!

Beet and strawberry smoothie recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time- nil
Serves- 4

Beetroot- 1med, peeled and cubed
Strawberries- 10-12, washed and hulled
Flax seed powder- 1tbsp
Strawberry or plain yogurt- 1 cup
Milk- 1 cup
Sugar- 3-4 tbsp


  • Cook the diced beets in a little water till soft and cool completely.
  • In a blender, combine the cooked beets, strawberries, flax seed powder, yogurt and milk and blend until smooth.
  • Garnish with sliced strawberries and serve immediately.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cabbage and green peas curry

Happy Navarathri to all my readers. The past few days have been busy with all the festivities. Although this time the festivities are not celebrated in the usual grand manner because of the Westgate incident, We have been visiting temples and reciting Lalitha sahasranama on a  daily basis. There will also be the usual meeting and greeting friends over the next few days. 

As you all know this post has been pending for a long time now. This delicious sattvik curry is just perfect for the festivities. This curry is a mildly spiced mixture of cabbage and peas but with a rich taste. The addition of coconut and poppy seed to the otherwise ordinary cabbage and peas, gives a rich texture and taste to the curry. This dish goes well with either rice or rotis. Give this curry a try and give me your feedback. I just can't get enough of them ;)

Cabbage and green peas curry recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 15min
Serves- 4

Cabbage- two cups, finely chopped
Fresh or frozen Greeen peas- 1 cup
Salt to taste
Water as required

For the ground paste
Green chilies- 1-2
Poppy seeds- 1tbsp, dry roasted
Freshly grated coconut- 3 tbsp
Ginger- 1/2"piece, grated
Turmeric- 1/4tsp
Coriander leaves- 1tbsp

For the seasoning:
Oil- 2tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1tsp
Urad dal- 1tbspn
Chana dal- 1tbspn
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Asafetida- a pinch


  • Grind the six ingredients listed under the "ground paste" to a find paste and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the mustard seeds, once they pop, add the urad dal and chana dal and fry till they turn brown. Stir in the curry leaves and asafetida and fry for a few seconds more.
  • Add the green peas and fry for a few seconds. Then add the chopped cabbage and fry for 2-3 mins more. 
  • Stir in the ground paste and salt fry for two more min. Add one to one and a half cups of water and cook covered for 10-15min or until the cabbage is completely cooked
  • Take off the heat and serve hot with rice or rotis.

  • More water can be added if you desire a watery gravy.
  • The peas can be replaced with mung bean or mung bean sprouts.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Red devil beet cup cakes

I know that I had announced on my FB page that cabbage and peas curry would be my next post. But at the last moment I just changed my mind and decided to post the recipe for these cupcakes. 
I know Paaka Shaale has been quite since the past few days. But the past few days have been quite traumatic for all of those who are living in Kenya. If you have been following the NEWS channels then you would know I am referring to the Westgate mall tragedy. Never once did I imagine that I would come so close witnessing a terrorist attack.
The Westgate mall was one of the best places to hang out in Nairobi. Everything from something as small as the mustard seed to clothes to furniture was available there. Everyone we knew liked that place for some reason or other. It was the perfect place for shopping, movies, dining or coffee. We would often go there during weekends. It is a miracle that neither us or any of our friends were in the mall when the shoot out happened. And I can't thank God enough for that.

I was at home when I heard from S's aunt about the terrorist attack. I never realized the seriousness about the situation till I saw the local news. It was only then that the magnitude of the situation hit me. What I saw sent a shiver down my spine. There were bodies being wheeled into the ambulance and there were cops trying to get inside the mall. The westgate mall which was once a beautiful place, was now drenched in blood. Even after all these days, those scenes still give me goose bumps.

As I mentioned earlier, none of the people we knew were in the mall at that point of that time. But there was a person who had touched my life without actually being there. Her name was Ruheela Adatia and she was an RJ at east Asia FM. I used to listen to her speak when I used to go to pick up Purvi from school. She had a peppy and a happy voice that would cheer up any tired or stressed person. I always thought that, her voice had a lot of spunk. Ruhila was actually six months expectant with her first child when she was killed. She was hosting a cooking competition for kids at the mall. After her death, the radio seems a little bland. I find myself listening to east FM with a yearn for her bubbly voice.

Picture courtesy-
The attack on the Westgate mall cannot be termed as war. To me it was an act of heinous execution. The militants killed unarmed civilians: women and children indiscriminately. And this is definitely not war!!!
The westgate mall was under seige four days after that. It is said that more than seventy people were killed and many more were injured. Kenya as a nation came together like never before. I saw people of many nationalities and races come together to fight terrorism and to serve humanity. The acts of solidarity from the people of Kenya in a grim situation like this was indeed commendable.

Now coming to these cupcakes, I had baked these beauties a few days back. If the colour red signifies blood and fire, it also symbolizes, love, sacrifices, courage, vigor and strength. So I thought that these cupcakes were just perfect for all the Kenyans who came forward to extend their support during the grim times. I salute their courage and selfless acts of solidarity.
The recipe for these cupcakes was adapted from the vegetarian times magazine. This was actually a recipe for a bundt cake. Since I did not have a bundt pan, I decided bake the cake as cup cakes. This recipe uses beets to bring colour, sweetness and the moist texture to to these cup cakes. 

This was the first time I tried frosting a cake. Since I do not have any piping bag, I tried frosting it with a zip lock pouch. The result was not every good. The frosting ended up being everywhere other than the cup cake. So I just scooped a dollop of the frosting and slathered it on the cake. Apart from this tiny hitch, I must say that cake turned out pretty well.
This cake is just great on it's own. You can omit the frosting if you are not too fond of it. Or you could try decorating the cake with a simple vanilla glaze. Either ways, I assure you the cake will remain as delicious as ever.

Red devil beet cup cakes recipe:
Preparation time: 30min
Baking time- 30min
Makes- 16 muffins

Milk- 1cup+2tbsp
Beetroot- 1med, peeled and cut into 1/4" pieces
Flax seed meal- 2tbsp
Apple cider vinegar- 2tbsp
Sugar- 1-1/2 cup
Canola oil- 1/3 cup
Vanilla extract- 2tsp
Nutella- 2tsp
All purpose flour- 2-1/4 cups
Unsweetened cocoa powder- 1/2cup
Baking powder- 2-1/2tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
For the cream cheese frosting
Cream cheese- 8Oz packet, softened
Butter- 1/4 cup, at room temperature
Castor Sugar- 8tbsp
Vanilla extract- 1tsp

  • Cook the diced beetroot with a little water till completely soft. Allow the beets to cool completely and blend the cooked beets to a smooth puree.
  • Add the milk, flaxseed meal and vinegar to the pureed beets and blend till well combined.
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the oil, vanilla extract, nutella and sugar.
  • In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the beet mixture little by little and mix till well combined.
  • Scoop the batter evenly between 16 muffin cups and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 25-30min or till the skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow the cup cakes to cool the pan for 5min before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
  • In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla and mix till well combined.
  • Frost the cooled cup cakes the cream cheese frosting and serve.
  • I sifted the flour thrice before measuring it.
  • You can replace the nutella with chocolate extract. Although nutella imparts a fudge texture and an extra chocolate intensity to the cake, omitting it will not ruin the recipe.
  • You can make this cake vegan by replaceing milk with almond milk or soy milk.
  • I frosted only ten cupcakes. Hence, I just halved the original recipe. If you want to frost all the cup cakes then just double the recipe.
These cupcakes will be a part of BBPC assignment#2 for the month of September.

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