December 19, 2018

Baked Vazhakkai Varuval | Baked Raw Plantain Crisps | Gluten Free + Vegan

Continuing with flourless bakes as a major Sub Theme this #Bakeathon, we have baked Vazhakkai Varuval (baked raw plantain crisps). Perfect for munching as is or as a side for sambhar Sadam / Bisi Bele bhath or any other flavoured rice. 

The original deep fried version along with karnai Fry (yam fry) are both husband’s favourites. In fact, left to him he would have raw plantains as a side dish in different forms every day.

Today’s crisp is easily doable and can be doubled / tripled / quadrupled and all you need is 20-22 mins of undisturbed time. (Based on quantity). 

The crisps can go from raw to under to burnt in a matter of seconds so keep a watch. Also the baking time mentioned on various recipes may not suit your oven (as it did with me), as these are flourless bakes and the time varies greatly.  So do bake a couple of batches and see what works for you. These could easily be your next IPL / super bowl favourite.

So presenting Baked Vazhakkai crisps - plant based , vegan, and GF plantain crisps. 

Other dishes with Raw Plantain on this blog:

Prep time - 5 Mins , Bake time - 18 to 22 mins ; 
Makes: Approx. 75-100 grams of crisps

Raw banana (medium) - 2
Oil - 1 tbsp (I used sesame oil, you can go with anything you have unless it’s too overpowering)
Salt - 1/2 tsp or to taste 
Paprika / chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Crushed black pepper - to taste 

How to:
Preheat oven to 180C.
Prepare baking trays with parchment / silpat / foil. Grease them with your finger tips lightly.
Peel the raw bananas and slice them
Into thin crisps directly into a bowl using a mandolin. 
Add oil, salt and spices. Gently toss the sliced bananas with the salt and spices to coat evenly. 
Arrange on the baking trays without overlapping each other . 
Bake for 18-22 mins (watching it after 70% of the time) or until they crisp up.
Adjust salt / seasonings and serve immediately or store in an airtight container and watch it disappear in a jiffy ! 

Bakeathon Check out the other bloggers doing this Bake-a-thon    

December 17, 2018

Vegan Saffron-Infused Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls | Vegan Bakes

Whew! That title is a mouthful isn't it ? I was always smitten with the idea of using Sweet potato in breads and was very curious to see how they added to the moisture and texture of the breads, and surely we weren't disappointed. 

Taking inspiration from here and Samira Damirova from Masterchef (she's been my newest and greatest role model for baking breads) in that she turns them out so effortlessly and confidently- using both native ingredients and her own culinary influence from Azerbaijaan, where she originally hails from - with a quiet confidence that's rare to see in a reality show like MasterChef Australia. 

And for some strange (and wonderful reason) , I infused saffron to these dinner rolls and they were just (as Gary from Masterchef Australia would say,) "Rock and Roll". These were the softest, yummiest and most delicious bread rolls I have ever baked so far, and as a baker I constantly critique my baking so I am personally very happy with the dish. 

A big shout to Elena, whose recipe I EXACTLY halved (without using the egg wash though), and I was a very happy baker and it was received very well by the entire family. I have baked 8 rolls with this for lunch (with Matar ka Shorba - Vegan Peas soup), but I still have a half of the dough freezing to be used again. 

This could easily be the easiest and yummiest bread roll for your Xmas party or New years' . Do try it and let me know how you liked them.  

Sending this to week175 of #FoodieMondayBloghop ("Christmas Special" theme suggested by members) and #Bakeathon2018.

So far on Bakeathon, following 6 bakes were dished out - do take a look if you missed any in this series:

Day 1 - Baked Upma 
Day 2 - Baked Veg Cheesy Eggless Casserole 
Day 3 - Flourless Choco Chip Mini Brownies (GF and Vegan too)
Day 4 - Tandoori Malai Broccoli 
Day 5 - Wholewheat Eggless Almond Chocolate Muffins
Day 6 - Wholewheat Kitkat Gems Chocolate Cake

Let's get to the recipe:

Vegan Saffron-Infused Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls
Cuisine - American / World ,Course : Snack / Dinner / Lunch

Prep time - 20 mins, rise + bake time : 2 hours+, makes : 16 small medium sized rolls

(1 cup = 240 ml)

You would need:
  • Maida / All Purpose flour - 1 cup 
  • Wholewheat flour (stone ground wheat flour) - 1 3/4 cup + 2 TBSP
  • Boiled and peeled Sweet potatoes - 1 medium (about 120/130 grams) {{ IMP: these must be lukewarm when adding to the dough, not cold or hot , else it would kill the yeast }}
  • Warm water - 60 ml + 4 TBSP
  • Instant Yeast - 3/4 + 1/3 tsp
  • Maple Syrup - 1 tsp
  • Oil - 1 T + more for greasing
  • Salt - 5 grams
  • Saffron - a generous pinch

  • Poppy seeds - as needed
  • Water water + 1/2 tsp maple syrup

How to:
  1. In a bowl, add the warm water (60 ml), saffron strands and maple syrup. Whisk well. 
  2. Mix in the yeast , cover and let it bloom (takes 5-10 mins). 
  3. In the bowl of the stand mixer or large plate / bowl, add the flour and mix well. Once yeast froths, add that mixture and the mashed sweet potato. Mix well 
  4. Now add the salt , oil and mix well.  Knead till really smooth. You may need to add more water depending on the wholewheat. Keep the kneaded dough in the same bowl of the stand mixer or any other oiled container and let it rise in size.
  5. After 60-90 minutes, punch the dough once and knead for 1-2 mins. 
  6. Pinch out 16 equal portions and roll to smooth dinner rolls and place in a greased baking pan (I used a Wilton 9X5 pan and placed only 8 rolls , you could use a flat baking tray and place all 16 rolls at one go , about 1 inch apart from each other. 
  7. Cover / cling wrap till it rises again. Towards the end of the second rise, pre heat oven to 175C / 250F. Gently brush the risen rolls with a mixture of sugar / maple syrup and warm water, and top with any seeds (pumpkin / poppy - I used the latter).
  8. Bake for 20-22 mins or till tops are golden brown, I broiled for just 1 minute after they were baked. 
  9. Serve warm as is or with any soup


December 15, 2018

Viazi Karanga : a guestpost by Mayuri | Guestpost Series #14

Bloom where you are planted - so goes the saying.. It couldn’t be better exemplified with our guest blogger for this month - Mayuri

Although I have known her for less than an year, I find her extremely devoted to the blog and administering several blogger groups very efficiently, not to forget the plethora of Indian (specifically Gujarati cuisine) as well as International Cuisine on her blog

She has made Kenya her second home, and brings us the flavour of that country here in this guest post. I am personally a great admirer of her blog and her energy, and look forward to meeting her in Mumbai sometime soon. Thank you, Mayuri for your kind words and also doing for this guest post... 

Let’s move to Mayuri’s guest post now and a lip smacking Mombasa recipe, in her own words…

Whenever I’m approached to do a guest post, I get really excited as it gives me the opportunity to share a bit of me with the blogger and I get to know the blogger, different cuisine and different ideas too. So when Kalyani, asked if I would be a guest on her blog, I obliged willingly. 

Kalyani has a wide selection of Vegetarian recipes be it healthy, vegan, for toddlers or some treats too.Check out a healthy chaat using moong .I’m waiting to get some fresh crunchy purple cabbage to try out her Bolivian Purple Cabbage Salad. Do you want to try a healthy dessert? Then check out the Vegan Chilli Chocolate Mousse. Its quite easy to manoeuver through her blog as under each title she has sub titles. 

I’ve been several times to Mumbai and have not had a chance to meet Kalyani. However, next trip definitely planning to meet her. From what little interaction I’ve had with her through the various groups, she is a very polite, helpful and courteous person.
Kalyani wanted me to share on her blog a traditional recipe. I already have quite a few traditional Gujarati recipes on my blog so asked her if I could share a bit of the Mombasa tradition with her and she immediately agreed.

Mombasa, the oldest city of Kenya, was inhabited but the families of the Twelve Nations (Thenashara Taifa),the keepers of the Swahili tradition.The first European to visit Mombasa was Vasco Da Gama. Mombasa being a coastal town with a natural harbour naturally attracted a many travelers and invaders too. It is believed that Mombasa was founded in 900 A.D. It was an important trading centre for spices, gold and ivory. Along with that it is believed that it also was a centre from where slaves were exported. Trade was carried out with countries like China, Indian Subcontinent, Persian Empire, the Arabian Peninsula. 2 years after Vasco Da Gama’s visit Mombasa was invaded by the Portuguese. 

They built the famous Fort Jesus which was captured by the Omani and came under the rule of the Imamate of Oman. It returned to the Portuguese rule for a brief period before it came under the British Protectorate. It became the main capital and sea terminal for the famous Uganda Railway. To build this railway beginning from Mombasa to Kisumu on the shore of Lake Victoria, many Indians were brought from British ruled India. 
After Independence in 1963, many Indians brought to East Africa by the British Empire, decided to remain in Africa and began life there, mostly as traders.  
Geographically, Mombasa is blessed with abundance of fresh fruits like mangoes, bananas, pineapples, passion fruits, water melons etc to name a few, sea food, cashew nuts, coconuts. 

All these factors have resulted in a special Swahili Cuisine that everyone who visits Mombasa wants to try it. Famous for Chicken Tikka, kebabs, Mahamari, Mbaazi, Kaimati, haluwa, Mkati Sinia, Kashata, Viazi Karanga (Viazi karai), Mabuyu (baobab seeds), Achari (mango dried and then sugar or salt is added and sometimes red colour is added). 
Many of the local cuisine has been influenced by the Arab, Indian, Portuguese and English culture. Mombasa will offer you street food to a typical English meal( in the old colonial Mombasa Sports Club). Whoever visits Mombasa, doesn’t leave the island without sampling at least a few traditional dishes. Achari and Mabuyu is what relatives abroad want us to take for them or its the famous cassava crisps (mogo crisps). 

My contribution for a traditional Mombasa dish for Kalyani’s blog is Viazi Karanga or known more famously as Viazi Karai. Karai here refers to a basin or huge bowl or wok. Viazi in Kiswahili means potato. This snack is so famous all over Mombasa. Its served as street food (where in the evenings in some old parts of Mombasa or the slum areas, women come out in the evening at their doorstep and prepare this snack for passersby). Its also served in the numerous fast food cafes that are found in every nook and corner of Mombasa.

 I remember gorging on this  delicious snack during my 10a.m break at school when I was teaching. My kids have many a times bought them from their school canteen to snack on at break time. what’s so special about this potato snack? At first glance it looks like bateta vada but its different. Boiled potatoes are sandwiched with a red chili and lemon mixture, coated in a batter and fried. Its always served with a coconut chutney. 
I wanted to use baby potatoes for this recipe but I didn’t get any in the local greengrocer shop. Usually they are made using normal potatoes, which I used. I made a slight variation from the traditional recipe by adding garlic in the filling and not using orange food colour for the batter.


Serves 6-8 

8 medium potatoes, boiled and peeled

For the filling:
1 tbsp garlic paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp salt

For the batter:
1¼ cup chana flour (besan, chickpea flour, unga ya ndengu)
¼ cup plain flour (all purpose flour)
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjano)
2 tbsp hot oil
¾ cup water
oil for deep frying

For the Chutney:
1 cup fresh grated coconut
¼ cup finely chopped raw mango (peeled)
2-3 green chillis
½ tsp salt
1 cup water

Preparation of the Chutney:
  1. Add the grated coconut, mango pieces, salt and chopped chilis into a blender jug. Add 1 cup water and blend.
  2. Remove the chutney into a serving bowl.

Preparation of the filling/ red chili chutney:
  1. Mix the garlic, red chili powder, salt and lemon juice together.
Preparation of the batter:
  1. Mix all the ingredients for the batter. Make sure its a thick and smooth batter.
Preparation of Viazi Karanga or Viazi Karai:
  1. Cut the potatoes into half or smaller pieces if they are too big.
  2. Make a slight slit in each piece.
  3. Using a butter knife fill the slit with the filling (red chili chutney). 
  4. Fill all the potato pieces.
  5. Heat oil for deep frying in a karai, wok or kadai over medium heat.
  6. Drop a small drop of the batter in the oil. If it sizzles and comes up immediately then the oil is ready.
  7. Coat the potato piece with the batter. Gently drop it into the hot oil.
  8. Add 2-3 batter coated potatoes into the oil, depending on how big your kadai, karai is.
  9. Fry the viazi till it becomes golden brown.
  10. Repeat steps 7-9 with the remaining potato pieces.
  11. Serve hot viazi karai with the coconut chutney and the red chili chutney if you have any left.

  • Make extra red chili chutney to serve with the potatoes.
  • Use small potatoes if you wish.
  • Add coriander to the batter if you wish.
  • If you prefer more chilis, then add more to the chutney.

December 14, 2018

Kitkat Gems Chocolate Cake | Wholewheat and healthy

Kitkat gems cake was in my drafts and I have no idea why it was there for so long. I had made it for my kid’s birthday 2 years ago, and I had followed Priya Sri’s unfailable Eggless Wholewheat Chocolate cake recipe. For a cake novice like me, this cake was a huge deal, although my kids have stopped asking for cakes often I know that they would be mighty pleased if I learnt frosting and made them a couple of ‘bakery stye topped’ cupcakes now and then.

Till then, let’s get to it, and although I have made this again twice for a baking order (with gluten free flour) and once with Orange for the neighbours, this remains my favourite after the Ragi Chocolate Cake. 

Kitkat Gems Cake

For the Wholewheat eggless Chocolate Buttermilk Cake (Priya Sri’s recipe repeated verbatim) 

Makes two 6” cakes.  

Prep time : 15 mins 
Baking time : 35~40 mins 
Chilling time : 45 mins~60 mins

You would need:
Wholewheat atta / flour - 1.25 cups
Cocoa Powder - 1/4 cup
Baking Powder - 1 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
Sugar (I used Coconut Sugar) - 3/4 cup
Buttermilk (thickish) - 1 cup
Neutral Oil - 1/3 cup + 2 TBSP (I needed that 2 TBSP extra)

Sugar syrup:
1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup water 

Frosting / Ganache :
Chocolate Chips / Chopped Chocolate - 2/3 cup
Cream - 1/4 cup
Vanilla Essence - 1/4 tsp

Broken / halved kitkat fingers and Gems / M'n'Ms to decorate

How to:
In a large bowl / flattish dish, 
Sift the dry ingredients for the cake, preheat oven to 170C. 
Mix sugar, oil and Buttermilk.
Make a well in the flour mix, and add the liquids from previous step. 
Mix well with a spatula till no dry streaks are seen.
Pour into two 6 inch moulds and bake for 35-40 mins.
Place cakes on a cooling rack, de-mould gently and chill well with cakes cling wrapped for over 45~60 mins.   

In a sauce pan, boil together sugar and water till sugar is melted (no syrup consistency / string needs to be made). Cool thoroughly. 

Take cakes out of the fridge, and make tiny holes all over and pour the syrup (I didn’t use the sugar syrup as we personally like a slightly bitter chocolate cake, so this step is entirely optional). Let the cakes soak the syrup and sit for some time. 

In a microwave, warm the cream for 15 seconds, keep outside and pour in the choco-chips / chopped chocolate. do NOT mix. let it stand for 2 mins, and then with a whisk, mix to a thick smooth, glossy ganache. add the dash of vanilla essence as desired. 

On a wire rack, place the cakes with a bit of ganache stuck at the bottom. Place one cake and place the other cake . Now pour enough  ganache to cover it fully and gently smoothen the edges and top including the sides. Chill the cake at this stage.

While the cake / ganache is still moist, place kitkat fingers around the circumference of the cake, taking care to ensure that they look like a tallish picket fence. Tie a ribbon securely around it with a bow. Place gems  / M&Ms on the cake.  Chill further till served :-)

Enjoy happy faces all around you as they dig into chocolatey goodness :-) 

 Check out the other bloggers doing this Bake-a-thon    

December 12, 2018

Wholewheat Almond Chocolate Muffins | Eggless and Healthy

While browsing this particular recipe, my little one came and sat next to me. And she knows a banana bread when she sees one. I wasn’t keen to make immediately although the recipe sounded wonderful, to which she quipped, "Amma, you know I have a school field trip tomorrow, so I need to carry something for my friends too to eat on the bus to the picnic.!”

Applying the adage “ when life hands you lemons....” , I had a slew of banana bread posts , within the first three days of bakeathon 2018 itself . And right there, the decision was made to bake this bread, ahem muffins. Except that I persuaded her to accept it as muffins which is easier to carry on the go.

Based on PJ’s recipe, I made two small changes - addition of a little more water to the dough as I had only two small ripe bananas instead of large one, And made it as muffins instead of banana bread.

The sugar was also very low, so people with a sweet tooth might be a tad disappointed and would need to either increase the sugar or sprinkle powdered sugar on top before serving. But the little one was perfectly ok with the low sugar, and both she and her bestie - T and R enjoyed it on the bus trip from school :-)  A shout out to PJ for a wonderful recipe. Thank you, we enjoyed it a lot.

Other Quick breads including some Banana Breads already on my blog {There can never be enough banana breads, right?} :

Makes: 10 muffins (medium~large sized), Prep time - 10 mins, Bake time - 22 mins 

Adapted from PJ’s recipe as below; The changes I made are in brackets.

  • 1 1/2 cups Whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cornflour {not in the original recipe, but I added}
  •  2 tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  •  1/8 teaspoon Salt
  •  2 numbers Large Bananas {I used 2 medium ones}
  • 1/3 cup Cane Sugar {used normal sugar}
  • 1/4 cup Oil {I needed 2 tsp extra}
  • 1/4 cup Milk {I used 3 TBSP extra + 2 tsp water}
  • 3 tablespoons Chopped nuts {used 2 Tbsp almond flour}
  • Chocolate chips, as needed {used for topping}
  • Vanilla essence -1/2 tsp {not in original recipe but added it}

Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, salt baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.
Preheat oven to 165C. Line muffin pans or a loaf pan whichever you are using.
In a blender, I added bananas, sugar, milk and water with vanilla essence and blitzed it till smooth and pouring consistency.
Add the liquid mix to the sieved flour and mix with a spatula. Add the almond flour now and adjust liquid to get a thick, pouring consistency for the bread and slightly thicker (scoop-able consistency if making muffins). 
Using a greased ice cream scoop , spoon batter into the muffins till 2/3 covered. Bake for 22-24 minutes or till a skewer comes clean.
Cool on a wire rack and serve warm. Keeps upto 3-4 days under refrigeration , microwave for 15-20 seconds before serving .

Bakeathon Check out the other bloggers doing this Bake-a-thon    

December 10, 2018

Tandoori Malai Broccoli | Easy Party Appetisers

As mentioned on my the Broccoli Pakoda and other Broccoli dishes, my little one is a great fan of Broccoli and (thankfully) unlike other picky kids, she prefers Broccoli at home or when eating out. So, we happened to sample this Tandoori Malai Broccoli at a new restaurant that had opened recently. Although Broccoli is not much (read, at all) relished by the husband and the elder one, we were all smitten with the flavours and the smoky nuttiness of the dish. 

On the way home, the younger one asked me to open my phone and check for the recipe ! Lol… And yes, she wanted to eat it again the next day and the next :-) I ignored her demands for a couple of days but finally made it the following weekend and it comes together pretty quickly and we loved it a LOT !!

Considering that broccoli is quite expensive, I made a small batch, but in season I am sure to make this pretty often.  This can be the next party pleaser at your home, and so do make it for any broccoli lovers at home and let me know how you like it. 

Today, along with Bakeathon we also play aroung with #PotluckRecipes on #FoodieMondayBloghop and I bet that this would be the talk of town :-) 

More of these flourless / tandoori bakes on the blog that can work for your #potluck are:

Baked Gobi Manchurian
Idli Manchurian

Baked Cornflakes Chivda
Baked Falafels
Cajun Spiced Cheesy Aubergine Pizza
Cheesy Hasselback Potatoes
Baked Tandoori Veg Platter
Baked Shammi Kebabs
Baked Gobi Musallam

and many more dishes from the Mughlai Cuisine:

Tandoori Malai Broccoli 

GF snack (can be vegan too) ; course : appetiser/ sides
Cuisine : Indian Tandoori ; spice level : mild to medium

Prep time - 15 mins, Resting time - 30-45 mins, 
Baking time - 12~15 mins (varies from oven to oven) 
Serves : 2~3

What you need:
Tender, firm, green Broccoli - 200~220 grams
Hung yoghurt - 100 grams (slightly sour would work too
{vegans can use Vegan yoghurt , Cheese n Cream too with varied results}
Cream - 2 TBSP
Grated Processed Cheese - 3 TBSP (can add more if preferred)
Neutral oil - 2 T (divided use)
White pepper powder - 1/2 tsp (adjust spice)
Salt - to taste
Mace powder - 1/8 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1/8 tsp
Lemon juice - 1/2 tsp 

How to make:
Wash and cut broccoli to medium sized florets (don’t make them bite sized / tiny - the flavours will be lost)
In a pan, bring 4 cups of water to a rolling boil, add the broccoli. Blanch and place immediately in cold water to retain their crunch and colour. Drain throughly and pat them dry gently without breaking the florets. 
In a bowl, add all the other ingredients including half the oil and whisk well. Add the blanched and drained broccoli and gently coat the florets with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 30-45 mins. 
Towards the end of the marination, preheat oven to 170C.  place the marinated broccoli gently on a lined baking pan. Bake for 12~15 mins, and broil for the last 1 min, keeping an eye on them constantly. 
Serve with mint chutney and/or salad and lemon wedges.

Sending this to #FoodieMondayBloghop week #174 under Potluck dishes as suggested by @PreetiPrasad as well as #Bakeathon2018

Bakeathon Check out the other bloggers doing this Bake-a-thon    
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