Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Tiramisu without Alcohol

Tiramisu, pronounced as 'ti-ra-mee-su' the very famous classic Italian dessert is made of savioardi/lady's fingers/ sponge fingers dabbed in espresso or strong coffee and alcohol mixture traditionally and mascarpone cream mixture and then sprinkled with cocoa on top. However I have made certain variations from the traditional one avoiding alcohol and using chocolate cake along with sponge fingers. I made it for the Iftar party last weekend and I got a big thumbs-up for this dessert.
Before talking about Iftar party and Iftar, I will give a brief description about Ramadan and what Iftar is. Ramadan is the 9th Month in the Arabic Calendar where all Muslims are obliged to refrain from food and drinks from dawn till dusk and this is called fasting. At dawn we have a light meal called Seher (Pre-dawn meal) and don’t eat or drink the whole day. At dusk we break our fast with dates or water initially and carry on with some snacks. This breaking of fast at dusk is called Iftar. After dusk we are allowed to eat anything until the dawn.

I find Iftar back home quite festive where you have friends and relatives coming over and having food and prayers together. We also prepare different kinds of snacks and meals and share them with others in the neighbourhood to show our love and compassion.

On the first day of the following month, after sighting another new moon we celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr where everyone takes a bath, put on new clothes and go to mosques early in the morning to perform communal prayer. After that, we have friends and relatives coming over and having feast. It’s a great celebration.

Talking about Tiramisu, I made certain changes from the traditonal recipe this time. Instead of using savioardi I experimented with a layer of chocolate cake in the bottom layer and sprinkled the coffee all over the chocolate cake rather than dipping it in coffee. I just used chocolate cake because I had made chocolate cake the very previous day and had quite lot of it. However it was super delicious, I should say. Below here is the original recipe that I have that uses only saviordi and not cake. but in the picture you can see the bottom layer is cake.

4 eggs separated
500 gms mascarpone cheese
2 cups heavy cream/double cream
30 sponge fingers/savioardi/lady's fingers
8 tbs + 2 tbs sugar
2 cups strong coffee
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbs cocoa powder

1. Prepare 2 cups of coffee by adding boiling water to 2 tbs of coffee+2 tbs of sugar. Keep it aside.
2. Separate egg whites and yolks.
3. In a glass bowl, take egg yolks and add in sugar beat well with the egg beater until you get creamy and pale yellow mixture (zabaglione pronounced as sabayon).
4. Place another vessel on the stove and add hot but not boiling water and set it on low-medium flame. Place the glass bowl with egg yolk and sugar mixture (zabaglione) over the simmering water and whisk well for around ten minutes until the mixture gets thick. Add vanilla essence to this and keep it aside to cool.
N.B: It is important to note that the bowl containing zabaglione should not come in contact with the water underneath since this will curdle the egg and get a grainy mixture. Also it is important not to use a metal bowl for preparing zabaglione since the vessel gets heated up quickly and again the egg will get curdled.
5. Whip the Cream until peaks form and keep it aside. Don’t whip it for too long because it will start forming into butter. You can use wire whisk or egg beater for this.
6. Mix the mascarpone cheese in this whipped cream and mix well until no lumps appear. Add the cooled zabaglione to this and mix well.
7. Whip the egg whites until peaks form and fold into the cheese and cream mixture to keep it light and airy. Dont over mix it..
8. Now take a large clear glass dish, just dip the sponge fingers in the coffee and layer them side by side until you cover the bottom of the dish with the sponge fingers dipped in coffee. Don’t keep the sponge fingers in coffee for long time since they tend to absorb liquid too quickly. Just dab both sides in coffee and that should be more than enough.
9.Pour half of the cheese cream mixture over this lady’s fingers and again layer another layer of savoiardi dipped in coffee over this cream mixture and tip over the rest of cream mixture.
10. Cover and Refrigerate for minimum of 2 hours.
11.Just before serving,dust with cocoa by passing it through sieve or if you want to make it more rich, add some chocolate shavings....hmmmm..yummy!

Monday, 29 September 2008

Chemmeen chamanthi (Dried shrimps with grated coconut)

Chemmeen chammanthi is my favorite side dish ever. It is made of sun dried shrimps sauted and then ground to a smooth or coarse paste. The flavour of dried shrimps is very much different from the fresh ones and it yields an entirely different flavour as well. I love to have this as a side dish for my plain rice. It is very easy to make, tastes delicious but not for people who doesnt like dried seafood.

½ cup - Dry shrimps( Unakka chemmeen)
2 cups freshly grated coconut/frozen grated coconut
4 Shallots / half of a small onion
1 tbs Kashmiri chilly powder ) OR
Regular red chilli powder – As required.
2 tbs Coconut oil
2 goose berry size Dried tamarind

1. Wash shrimps and leave it in a strainer to strain all the water away
2. Grate Coconut and peel the shallots.
3. Heat oil in pan and add the shrimps and stir fry for few minutes (4-5) in medium flame.
4. Add chilli powder and stir for another minute. Turn the flame off.
5. Grind this stir fried shrimps along with coconut, tamarind and shallots in a food processor to get a coarse mixture or grinder if you want even a smoother mixture.
6. Serve with steamed plain rice.
7. Stores well in an airtight container in refrigerator for more than a week. If storing in refrigerator, keep in room temperature for an hour or two to let the coconut thaw. Else it may be a bit dry. Optionally, you can also microwave just to thaw the coconut.

Dumplings (Luqaimat)

Dumplings are crispy little balls made of fermented batter that is deep fried in oil and then served with sugar syrup. This is another recipe that I used to have during Ramadan in my hostel. My flatmates used to make this but at that time, again, I never bothered to learn the recipe cause I was not into cooking at all. But I have seen them making it and used to give a hand. So I know what consistency the batter has and how it is done. So this recipe that got from here, was altered accordingly to bring that consistency and crispiness that last quite long.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoons yeast
1 tsp sugar
salt as required
1/3 cup yogurt
3/4 cup warm water
oil for deep frying

1. In ¾ cup of lukewarm water, add sugar and yeast and stir well. Keep aside for around half an hour until a thick layer of froth forms over the yeast mixture.

2. Take a large bowl, Add flour, salt and mix well. Then add yogurt and yeast mixture and stir well until you get a sticky batter. You can mix the batter in the food processor if difficult to mix them by hand. I usually use hand for mixing the batter, but it takes quite longer time. Keep it in a warm area for about 4-6 hours.
3. At this stage you can see bubbles formed in the batter. Knock down the bubbles and stir well again.
4. Heat oil (to deep fry) in a pan or wok until it really gets hot.
5. Dip the fingers in water and take a good size pinch of batter(a teaspoon size) and drop in oil slowly. Since the batter is sticky and has dropping consistency, it will be difficult to handle the batter without dabbing the fingers with water. Add few more pinches of batter in oil by dabbing finger in water every time you take the batter.
6.Once they fall in oil they will puff up and take round shapes or almost round shapes. DOesnt matter if it doesnt come into exact round shapes. Deep fry them until they turn golden on all sides. It is very important not to make it golden brown cause it will be hard rather than crispy. Strain them using slotted spoon and place them on kitchen towel to drain out excess oil.
7. Repeat the process until all the batter is fried into dumplings.
8. Transfer into serving dish and pour syrup all over.

For syrup:

1 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lime/lemon juice


Put the water in a pan with the sugar and place over a medium heat; bring to boil and allow to boil for ten minutes, removing the froth as it appears. Add the lemon juice and leave to simmer for ten minutes. Pour it over the fried dumplings and serve warm or cold.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

I got this delicious pudding recipe from here. Since then, it has been one of my family favorites. Apart from the things suggested in the recipe, I Also added 4 tbs of raisins along with chocolate chips and 1 large orange's rind in the custard . I mixed the orange rind along with milk and eggs. I always thought the orange rind gave a lovely and mild taste to the desert and always added them to most of my desert including pineapple souffle. Orange flavor and chocolate works very well together. It enhances the taste of the desert and doesnt stand out at all. I also reduced the amount of vanilla essence to 1 tsp since I found it a bit over powering for my taste. The original recipe accounts for 2 tsp. Im going to make it for the party this weekend.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Mutton Stew

The very best combination of Appam is stew of any kind. May it be vegetable or meat. Here is the recipe of meat stew.


½ kg Mutton/chicken/beef
2 1/2 cups Onions - Finely chopped
2 -4 Green chillies cut slit open length-wise
2 tsp / 4 large cloves-Garlic grated
2 tsp Freshly grated Ginger
1 cup - Thick coconut milk
1 cup - Thin coconut milk
2 medium Tomatoes
8-10 cashew nuts
2 small pieces Cinnamon sticks
2 Cloves
3 cardamoms
Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup
Oil - 2-3 tbs


1. Soak cashewnuts in water for about half an hour.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamoms.When the aroma of the spices starts coming off, Add onions and green chillies and stir till onion turns pink.
3. Add ginger and garlic and stir until the raw smell goes and onion starts to turn golden brown.
4. Add the meat pieces and tomatoes and stir further until tomatoes are cooked and soft.
5. Add the thin coconut milk and salt. Cover and cook until the meat is tender.If it's mutton, pressure cooking will be easier so that the meat gets cooked quickly.
6. Grind cashews well along with thick milk.
7. When the meat is cooked and water is almost dried up, add the thick milk of coconut with cashew and just boil for a minute. Dont boil for long time because the coconut milk will get curdled.
8.Add garam masala and stir well and close lid to infuse the flavor in.
serve hot with Appam.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Plantain cake (serves 6-8)

If you got leftover or very ripe plantains, dont throw them away. Just bake them into plantain cakes. This is another easy recipe made with plantains. It's a flourless cake and is usually made for evening snacks and during Ramadan. Since this cake is so moist, it has a pudding kind of texture and so no icing or cream topping is necessary. It is best to store in refrigerator if not finishing on the same day. It doesnt stay out long. I got this recipe from my mom who bakes this cake in a non-stick sauce pan with lid,kept on a low flame- medium flame. Infact she bakes all her cakes so! And it always turned perfect! For the same reason, I baked this cake on the hob-top, in a non-stick saucepan with lid, rather than using oven. I think this cake could be baked in oven too at medium temperature. But never dared to do so. Next time I should try that way!

The recipe for plantain cake: This time I Made a bigger cake using the double amount of ingredients i normaly use since I had lot of plantains leftover. If you want a smaller one, just use exact half amount of ingredients.
4 Ripe plantains
8 extra large eggs/ 10 medium eggs
14 tbs sugar
4 cardamom/1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1.In a blender add eggs, sugar and cardamom and blend well until sugar dissolves (1 minute).
2. When done, Add the peeled plantains and again blend for few seconds until you get a smooth batter.
3. Set the flame to low-medium. Dont set the flame to high, else the cake will get charred very soon. Grease a nonstick sauce pan with ghee (clarified butter/butter fat) and add the batter. Close the lid tightly, making sure that no steam escapes. I cover the lid using foil and cover the sauce pan so that the lid stays intact.
4. Check if the cake is done, by inserting a knife or tooth pick. If they come out clean with no batter sticking to it, Then the cake is done. It took me 45 minutes to cook. I used a heavy base sausepan of 30 cm diameter with lid.
N.B: The upper part of the cake wont be browned, But it will be cooked from steam inside. If you want upper side to be browned, You can turn the cake over, once it is completely cooked. I normaly dont go for this hassle just for the color.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Appam (vellayappam)

I was quite surprised to read in a travel magazine that Vellayappam and Stew is one of the best 15 breakfasts in the world. Appam was one of the dishes that I started making since the very beginning of my cooking. These are pancakes with thin laced edges and thick fluffy centre It is very light, airy and goes well with stew and many other curries. The recipe is my mother's and this is something that always came excellent for me. But again I use all fresh ingredients rather than powders and canned stuff so it myt take a bit of your time. Eventhough it takes time,its worth a try. And But again, the taste of Appam will vary depending on many factors like the fermentation of the batter and the weather. The colder the weather, the longer it will take to ferment. So always keep the batter in a warm place to rise. I usually keep the batter near the radiator and I leave it there for about 6-8 hours and thats perfect. By that time, the batter would rise very well and be fermented enough for making the perfect crisp and light Appams. If leaving it in a colder place it should take even more time.

Apart from that, vellappam is made in a special dish called"Appacchatti". I think its a miniature version of a wok with lid and its very important to have this "appacchatti" .This gives Appam or Vellapam a round shape having thin edges and sponge like centre. In flat frying pans, you may be able to do, but u will never get that texture and crispiness that you get in a appacchatti.

My Appacchatti
1/2 cup Cooked rice
2 cups Long grain rice/basmati rice
1 cup grated coconut
salt- as required
water-as required to make a thick batter
1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1. Soak basmati rice in water for about 2-4 hours.
2. Drain water and put it blender along with little water and cooked rice and blend well until you get a thick and smooth batter of dropping consistency without rice grains. At this stage, add grated coconut and blend well again for few seconds until coconut is well ground . Add more water if you find difficulty to grind them. Dont make the batter too thin by adding lot of water.
3. Add yeast at the end and just pulse once till yeast is well incorporated. Add salt and mix well.
4. Pour the batter into a large vessel and keep it covered in a warm place for about 6-8 hours. Once the batter is fermented, you can see that the batter is risen well and has bubbles on top and there is a strong, pungent smell.
Batter - before fermentingBatter-after fermenting

5. At this stage, stir the batter well.
6. Place the appacchatti on medium-high flame.
7.Using a ladle pour a some batter into the centre of the pan. My ladle holds 1/2 cup of batter . See the figure.
Pour batter in the centre
8. Hold the handles of the appachatti and swirl the chatti once inorder to spread the batter all around the chatti. Excess batter should accumalate in the centre to get that spongy centre of appams.

Swirl the pan around to spread the batter to the side of the pan
9. Close the lid and cook for around 3 minutes or until the batter is completely cooked. By this time appam will come off the chatti easily if it is a non-stick chatti.
10. Serve hot with vegetable stew,mutton stew, sweet stew or any other curry. I will be posting them soon. Many curries very well goes with Appam.
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