Thursday, February 28, 2013

Baked Eggs

I have suddenly become fond baked food. Baked Eggs are something I have been wanting to make for a long time but for some unknown reason have never made them. Yesterday I made these super easy Baked Eggs for the first time and served for Breakfast, it was loved by us. This looks interesting plus is very simple to make.

Here is what you need to make Baked Eggs:

Eggs – 2
Tomato – half of a small one, finely chopped
Green Chillies – as per taste, finely chopped
Basil – 1 pinch
Oregano – 1 pinch
Red Chilli Flakes – 1 pinch
Salt to taste
Butter – ½ tsp

How to make Baked Eggs:

Take a Microwave safe dish

Grease it with the ½ tsp of Butter

Break the Eggs onto this dish

Garnish the Egg white portions with chopped Tomatoes and Green Chillies (One can add other finely chopped veggies of their choice too, this is what I had at hand)

Sprinkle Salt to taste all over

Put it in the Microwave Oven, bake till the Egg white becomes opaque / dense; my Microwave Oven took 2.5 minutes in the Microwave mode to make this. All Ovens are different hence you will have to find your suitable time to bake the Eggs. I think it should not take more than 2.5 minutes. Do not worry about the Yolk, it is cooked inside :P

Sprinkle the herbs and Red Chilli Flakes and serve with Toasts like I did or just have it on its own, it tastes excellent plus is healthy too!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Plain Chocolate Cake

A friend requested for this recipe and I do not have a story in mind. So here’s the Plain Chocolate Cake recipe for you ‘P’ in a jiffy. This recipe is My Cousin-Sis-In-Law’s Mother’s, when Aunty visited my 1st Cousin and his Wife (her daughter) in Bangalore, she made this cake, I loved the look of it and asked for the recipe. Aunty was more than willing to share and I had the recipe in an hour. I made it and it came out neat. I had made minor modifications like adding Baking Soda and Lemon juice for the Cake to rise more.

I will post step by step Photographs of this recipe when I make it the next time. For now, I have the final picture and pictures from when I served it on different days.

Here is what you will need to make Plain Chocolate Cake:

Sugar – 1 Cup – powdered in the Mixer
Eggs - 2
Cooking Oil – 1 Cup
All Purpose Flour / Maida – 1 Cup
Cocoa Powder – 5 tsps (unsweetened)
Baking Powder – 2 tsp
Baking Soda – 1 tsp
Lime Juice – 2 tsp

I had grated Chocolate on to the Cake this time and broken some uneven pieces and decorated with them

How to make Plain Chocolate Cake:

In a big bowl, sift the All Purpose Flour, Cocoa Powder, Baking Powder and Baking Soda

Add the Sugar, Cooking Oil & Eggs and using a whisk mix thoroughly, set aside

Pre-heat the Oven at 180 degrees

Take a baking dish and use butter / oil on the surface of the dish so that the Cake does not stick to the dish

Some people dust some flour in this to ensure more safety, I did not

Add the Lemon Juice to the batter and give it one final quick mix

Pour the batter into the baking dish

Tap the Baking Dish at the sides so that the bubbles from the batter disappear

Bake it in the Convection mode of your Microwave Oven for 30 minutes

By now the Cake would have risen, insert a toothpick at the centre and check, if it comes out clean, the Cake has been baked right. If not, bake it for another 10 minutes (All Ovens are different, hence time varies in different Ovens, you have to know your Oven right)

Take it out from the Oven, make sure you do not touch the Baking dish directly with your hands, the dish is EXTREMELY HOT at this time

Cover the face of the Baking dish with a Plate and turn, shake the Baking Dish a little, the Cake should come out on the Plate

Place on a Cooling Rack and let it cool for 10 minutes or more if you wish

This picture is from another set of bake, when I was too lazy to decorate and just served with Chocolate Sauce

The one time that I had cut small slices and served with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce, the possibilities are endless with Plain Chocolate Cakes

Decorate as you wish, cut slices and serve as anytime snacks

Egg Sandwich

Sandwiches are enjoyed with extreme pleasure at my place. There was this Sandwich Maker my Mother gifted us during our Wedding when she came to know her Son-In-Law loved Sandwiches. However, due to our ‘hippie-like’ lifestyle, the Sandwich Maker was hidden in our Store Room for more than 18 months, used last time before we had moved from our previous house to this one.

Today I had plans to make him some Fried Eggs and Toasts for Breakfast when the thought of Sandwiches suddenly crossed my mind and I found that it did not take me a great deal to take it out from its hideout and give it some work to do.

I did not have any particular filling in mind; neither did I have anything worthwhile in my stockpile. Hence I scrambled a few Eggs with some veggies and herbs, applied some Cheese Spread on the Multi-Grain Bread slices, filled in the stuffing and put them in the Sandwich Maker & grilled. Once done, I gave them a minute to cool, sliced them diagonally and brushed a little Butter on the grilled slices; served them with a dip and some store bought Chips .. ‘A’ was super happy!! I am not putting the Sandwich Maker in the Store Room any more :P

Here is what you will need to make this Egg Sandwich:

Bread slices – 4 (preferably Sandwich Bread, though I used regular ones)
Eggs -2, beaten with Salt and Paprika/Red Chilli Powder to taste
Olive Oil or any other Cooking Oil that you use – 2 tsp
Garlic cloves - 2 – finely chopped
Onion – 1 medium, finely Chopped
Tomato – 1 medium, finely chopped
Green Chillies – 2 – chopped – to taste
Cheese Spread
Butter – to brush on the Grilled Bread Slices
Oregano Seasoning – ½ tsp - optional
Basil – ½ tsp – optional
Red Chilli Flakes – 1 pinch – optional
Any dip of your choice
Some Chips – to your choice – optional

Here is what I did:

Beat the Eggs together with Salt and Red Chilli Powder and keep
Heat a pan with Olive Oil
Add the chopped Garlic to flavour the Oil
After a minute, add the chopped Green Chillies and Onion – cook till Onions are translucent
Add the chopped Tomatoes – cook for another 2 minutes
Add the seasoning of your choice – Oregano Seasoning, Basil & Red Chilli Flakes
Add the already beaten Eggs and keep stirring
Cook till the Eggs are done
Apply Cheese Spread on the Bread slices
Hold a slice on your palm and put the filling on it, do not over-stuff, do not under-stuff either ;)
Cover with the second slice
Repeat the process for as many Sandwiches as you are making
Put them in the Sandwich Maker , wait till it signals they are done
Remove with Tongs and leave for a minute on a clean surface
Slice diagonally from between, brush Butter on the slices on one side (see the butter melting as soon as you apply as the Sandwiches are hot)

Serve with Dip and Chips of your choice .. tastes heavenly .. VOILA!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lal Shaak Bhaja – Fried Amaranth Leaves / Red Spinach with Peanuts

Shaak is what we Bengalees call the very well know ‘Saag’ – leaf-based Indian dish. Spinach is the most commonly used Shaak I would say, starting from Palong Shaak er Chorchori – Bengali Vegetable Medley with Spinach, to Palak Paneer’, to ‘Saag Gosht’ – we use Spinach everywhere. What we do not use much is the red variant of Spinach which we call ‘Lal Shaak’, it is called Amaranth Leaves in English or Red Spinach as well.

As a kid, I was a terror when it came to eating vegetables. My Mum tried all tricks she could to make me fall for the greens (in this case, the reds), but I never ever gave in. Now that I do not have Mums eyes hovering on my plate every time I eat a meal at home, my stubbornness for not eating veggies has also vanished. Now, I miss Mum made ‘Shaak-bhaja’ (Fried Spinach) with Bori – Dried Lentil Dumplings all the time. When Mum comes to visit us here or we are back home, we make sure we eat all these simple dishes with aplomb. 

I wanted to get the taste of red spinach for a long time as it has been more than 6 years that I am out of my hometown, but somehow I have never found them in the markets here, neither have I remembered to ask my Mum to make it when I am back home. From my recent trip back home where I was attending a family wedding, we were served ‘Lal-Shaak-Bhaja’ to start our meals on one of the days and I fell in love with the taste all over again, how you mix it with Rice and the Rice turn red in color is indescribable. 

The trip got over, we came back, but my ‘Lal Shaak’ hunt was on until recently when I found the precious Amaranth Leaves with one of the local vendors. I got a bunch for myself ASAP @ Rs 8. I was a little skeptical as one of my friends staying in Karnataka told me that even she buys Red Spinach, but once cooked they turn Green :(

However, I gave it a go and the result was just like back home, simple & subtle. We totally loved it. It is such a simple fry that you can almost do it with your eyes shut :P

Here is what you will need to make Lal Shaak Bhaja:

Amaranth Leaves / Red Spinach / Lal Shaak – 1 bunch
Peanuts – a handful
Whole Dry Red Chilies – 2 – broken from the middle
Salt to taste
Sugar to balance
Cooking Oil for frying

·         Take off the good leaves from the Stems and chop them.
·         Wash them thoroughly – a lot of pesticides are used while growing them and we do not want pesticides on our plate (unless you are using Organic ones of course). Once washed keep them in a strainer for an hour for the water to dry up. (I had stored it in the Refrigerator overnight after washing them)
·         Heat Oil in a Pan
·         Fry the handful of Peanuts till a little golden brown and set aside
·         Add the Whole Dry Red Chilies and let them splutter
·         Add the chopped Red Spinach and stir once in a while

·         The Red Spinach will release a lot of water and cook in its own fluid (NOTE: Never add water to your Leaf based dishes – it will destroy the dish)
·         The quantity will reduce to ¼ th of the pre cooked amount
·         Once all the liquid has dried up, add Sugar and Salt
·         Add the fried Peanuts - mix thoroughly and turn off the stove
·         Serve with Steamed Rice to start your meal  

Paneer Simla Mirch - Cottage Cheese with Green Bell Pepper

With  a working twosome, it is always a challenge to get the lunch boxes ready. With A helping me with the Lunch boxes every day, life definitely looks easy. Once I received a post from a friend to give her lunch box ideas, I think ‘Paneer Simla Mirch’ (Cottage Cheese with Green Bell Pepper) with Indian flat Breads (Roti/Chapati) is an excellent flavorful Lunch Box Idea. We threw in all that were handy and are an integral part of a Vegetarian dish and the result was lip smacking.

Here is what you will need to make  Paneer Simla Mirch (Cottage Cheese with Green Bell Pepper):

Paneer / Cottage Cheese – 200 gms – cubed
Green Bell Pepper / Capsicum – 1 medium- chopped
Tomato – 1 medium – chopped
Onions – 2 Medium – thinly sliced
Ginger – 1” stick
Garlic – 6 cloves
Green Chili – 3 – broken from between (I made a paste of Ginger Garlic and Green Chili in my blender)
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala Powder – 1.2 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar to balance
Cooking Oil


·         Heat Oil in a Pan and add the Cumin Seeds and let them splutter
·         Fry the Onion slices till translucent
·         Add the Ginger-Garlic-Green Chili Paste and cook for 2-3 minutes
·         Add the Green Bell Peppers and cook for about 5 minutes
·         Add the chopped Tomatoes and cook some more
·         Add the dry spices like Turmeric Powder, Cumin Powder, Coriander Powder, Garam Masala Powder, Red Chili Powder, Salt and Sugar – cook till the flavors incorporate into each other
·         Add the Cottage Cheese Cubes and mix well, make sure all Cottage Cheese pieces get well coated with the Spices
·         Once you add Cottage Cheese, it will take a maximum of 5-7 minutes to get ready
·         Add very little water and let the flavors soak in
·         This will be a dry dish, once desired consistency is reached, turn off the stove
·         Serve with Indian Flat Breads

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rui / Katla Maachh-er Kalia - Spicy Rohu Curry

I have been away from the blogging world for a while now. A lot has actually changed from the last time I scribbled something here. I am still choking from the last breath of a loved one gone by. Yes, I lost someone very close to my heart for the first time, I experienced what blinding excruciating  pain can be, I lost my loving Maternal Grand Mother, my Didu on the 16th of January 2013. I still wake up in the mornings even after more than a month has passed, thinking that it has all been a bad dream and everything is the way it is supposed to be. But no, reality stings when I hear stories from my Mother about what my Didu’s heirs are trying to do to her now vacant room, how they are planning to split her belongings which she has left behind, it hurts so much – I sometimes look up at the lone twinkling star in the sky and tell her ‘Good that you are not there, good that God relieved you of all your pains and I hope and pray that you will always be happy wherever you are’.

I have mentioned my Didu in so many of my earlier posts as she has been an integral part of my life. The fact that I could not see her for one last time will always remain like a raw open cut right on my heart; however, I am slowly learning to get used to the fact that she is not there anymore & I have to make peace with her memories and treasure them in as many ways as possible. When I look back at what she loved to do I always remember, she was an excellent cook and ‘Fish’ was her favorite, until the end of time. I still remember the olden days when live Fish was brought from the Market & she would sit on the portico of her house and do the scaling and cleaning and chopping; the same Portico where her lifeless body was kept for her loved ones to see for one last time before it was taken out to the Cremation Ground. I am sorry, but I can’t keep myself from relating each and every little incident since the day I lost her. Rohu is an integral part of a Bengali household and it is cooked almost every day. Didu made Rohu Curry about 2-3 times a week too and every time the dish tasted exquisite, out of this world. I tried to replicate it in my own small way and it came out good, not close to what she used to make; but I felt she was smiling down at me while I was preparing the dish, my little gift to her.

Here is what you will need to make Rui / Katla Maachh-er Kalia

Rohu / Katla Fish – 4-6 pieces
Onion – 1 – chopped
Tomato – 1 – chopped
Green Chilies – 3 – clit
Ginger – 1” stick – grated
Garlic cloves – 3-4 – grated
Dry Red Chili – 1
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
Cumin Powder – 1tsp
Coriander  Powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala Powder – ½ tsp
Mustard Oil / If you do not have Mustard available, use any other Oil of your choice
Salt to taste
Sugar to balance


·         Clean the fish pieces, pat dry, rub turmeric and salt on to the pieces and set aside for 15 minutes.

·         Heat Mustard Oil in a pan till smoking, if you are not using a non stick pan – add little salt to the Oil, this will help the hot Oil not to splutter once you drop the fish pieces in.
·         Once done drop in the fish one by one and shallow fry the pieces, approximately 5 minutes on each side and keep aside

·         In the same Pan, add the cumin seeds and dry red chili and let them splutter
·         Add the Onions and fry till translucent

·         Add the grated Ginger and Garlic – cook for about 2 minutes

·         Add the Tomatoes and keep cooking till they are mushy

·         Add Salt to taste, Sugar, Turmeric Powder, Cumin Powder,  Coriander Powder, Red Chili Powder and Garam Masala Powder and cook till the spices are not raw any more
·         Add warm water to this mix for the gravy as per desired thickness
·         Once the Water starts boiling, add the Fish pieces

·         Turn and cook both sides, cover with a lid if needed, this will make sure the remaining cooking is done in the vapor

·         Once done, put into serving dish, garnish with the slit green chilies and serve with Steamed Rice