Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cherry Almond cake

almond cherry cake 5 No doubt desserts are packed with calories..but its not just the cals that count but the effects of them on our bodies. If we can't give up them at least find out ways to make these desserts as much diet friendly..

Wiki says Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E. They are also rich in monounsaturated fat, one of the two "good" fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol.

Claimed health benefits of almonds include improved complexion, improved movement of food through the colon and the prevention of cancer.
Almond is considered a nutritive for the brain and nervous system. It is said to induce high intellectual level and longevity.

Due to its low-carbohydrate ratio and its good dietary fibre almond flour is very desirable for use in cake, cookies and bread recipes by people on carbohydrate-restricted diets and patients suffering from diabetes.

This said I got an opportunity to make use of my stocked up almonds. To add a little color and fruit I choose to go with sweetened juicy cherries which where in my fridge for a long time. These cherries remind me of my childhood days when my granny use to(very rarely) buy them and treat us. There was this big jar of sweetened red juicy cherries in one of the most popular sweet shop in the city I lived back home. I used to drool at that jar of cherries when ever I visited the sweet stall. Since they were expensive, elders at home used to buy them only when we baked cake at home. So the moments with these cherries were precious.

Now here we go with the most nutritious almonds and treasured cherries to bake one sumptuous cake.

almond cherry cake 1Ingredients
400 gms butter(softened)
1 -3/4 cups sugar
5-6 eggs

Flour & Powders:
1-1/2cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground allspice (optional)
1 pinch salt

1 tbsp almond extract
1 tbsp Cherry extract
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 - 1 cup Evaporated milk

Fruit & Nut:
1/2 cup cherries in syrup (assorted, sliced)
1/2 cup Almonds made into Almond Paste or use store bought

For Almond Paste :
1/2 cup ground almonds
4 Tsp of milk
a pinch of rose water
2 Tbsp Sugar or Honey

5-7 Cherries sliced
5-7 Almonds chopped

almond cherry cake 2 Directions:

Blanch Almonds by adding them to boiled water and peel off skin. Dry them fully.

Grind Almonds to make powder.

Boil sugar with just a little water to soft ball consistency and add all the other ingredients under almond paste. Once the paste leaves the vessel remove from heat and pour into a small bowl for later use.

Alternatively you can use store bought Almond paste too.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour your desired cake pans. I usually use a loaf pan and a square pan.

Measure all ingredients and keep them ready, Take butter out of fridge before an hour to soften it.

Beat butter, sugar in a large bowl until they turn creamy Add in eggs. Beat on low speed of electric mixer until blended, then on high speed for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Combine and swift together flour, allspice(if adding, baking powder, soda and salt in a separate bowl, and fold these dry ingredients alternately with liquid ingredients except milk. Keep mixing

Add almond paste, mix. Add milk according to the consistency of the batter. Keep mixing while adding. Add sliced cherries. Gently mix to combine.

Pour into Prepared greased pan/pans.

Garnish with sliced cherries and chopped almonds

almond cherry cake 3 Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes

Once the cake rises and gets the shape and is browning on the top, then remove from the oven and cover it with foil, shiny side up, and bake for the remaining time or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

almond cherry cake 4

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ajwain Rice/Omam Sadam/Vaamu Annan

DSC05940 This was a staple breakfast rice for us in my mom's cooking back home. Whenever there was left over rice from night dinner, the next day morning amma used to either make pulihora or vaamu annam(Telugu). Here I cook fresh rice just for the purpose making this ajwain rice(Hindi). Mostly this rice is special for its medicinal effects. Turmeric purifies, Omam(Tamil) helps in digestion and reduces Flem, garlic removes gas and lowers cholesterol..

So with all those good qualities and not to mention good taste this is one rice to include in our menu once in a while. To cut the pungent flavour of ajwain this rice is best served with a dessert..usually Boondi laddu,Bombay or Tirunelveli halwa.

DSC05962 Ingredients :
4 Cups Cooked Raw Rice (Basmati, sona masoori or ponni)

for Tempering:
2 tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp Ajwain/Omam/Vaamu or Carom seeds
5 Red chillies broken into pieces
10- 12 Curry leaves
5 -6 Garlic pods beaten
1 Medium Onion cut into thin stripes
1/2 tsp Turmeric
Salt to taste
DSC05946 Procedure:
Heat oil in a Kadai(Wok), add Ajwain seeds and fry till they leave aroma.
Add red chillies, Wait a few seconds, add curry leaves and after the spluttering noise stops add garlic pods, fry a little.
Now add onions and fry them till they cook but still crunchy.
The onions should change color on the outer edges but still be pal from inside.
Add turmeric and fry till raw smell is gone.
Now add rice and salt and mix well for about 1-2 min, so that every morsel is evenly coated with the tempered seasoning.
Remove from heat and serve after 15 min for the rice to observe the flavours.

Serve by itself or with a choice of sweet.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pepper Chicken Masala

DSC04951 Had a super hectic week so far. Husband was gone to a week's seminar. Imagine my plight with the three boys. Some how survived the week and want to publish this post before the week is gone.

In the few years lived in Chennai, I tasted this preparation of curry masala originally with mutton and then quickly enqiured the main ingredients that go into making of this dish and adopted the same with chicken which I preferred.

Chicken is simmered in exotic spice blend gravy of black peppers, green chillies ginger-garlic, cumin and finished with cream or yogurt.

Not to mention good effect of this masala when we are suffering with cold.

DSC04965 Ingredients :
2 lb - Chicken Skinless
1 Tbsp - Oil
4 Cinnamon Sticks broken
5 Cardamom
6 Cloves
2 Big Size Onions, sliced
1/2 cup half and half or smoothened sour cream or yogurt
Salt to taste
Coriander to garnish

For the pepper masala grind :
5 Green chillies
2 inch Ginger piece
5 Garlic pods
2 Tsp black whole pepper.
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
Enough water to make a paste

Method :
In a wide pot/pan heat oil.
Add the whole spices and allow them to brown a little
Now add onion, cook till onions are translucent.
When the onions are frying, make the pepper masala paste and keep aside
Once the onions are cooked add pepper masala paste and keep mixing so that it doesn't stick to edges.
Now add the cleaned, cut chicken pieces and salt.
Mix well to coat the chicken pieces with all the masala
Cover and simmer for 5 - 8 minutes or till all the juices from the chicken are secreted, stirring occasionally.
Once the chicken is almost done for a creamy texture, add cream or yogurt and mix.
At the end add coriander and remove from heat.
Serve with plain rice and Rasam.
This masala also serves as a good side dish for fish or lamb biriyani or pulav or coconut rice.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Mango Dhal - Andhra's Favourite

MD Dhal with Sour Raw Mangoes,
Mamidikaya Papppu, Manga Paruppu, Aam ki dhal

DSC06897 Think of Andhra Pradesh(a state in India, speaking Telugu) food the things that flash are Gongura(sorrel leaves), Red Chillies and Mangoes..We Andhrites make the best use of Mango in all stages..Raw sweet Mangoes are used to make spicy delicious pickles, Sour mangoes are added with other ingredients like brinjal(egg plant), mutton etc or just cooked by themselves to make a yummy dish. Out of many mouth watering dishes that come to our mind..tempting Mango dhal is one. Toor dhal cooked with raw sour mangoes and tempered with spices in ghee..eaten with hot rice and spicy Andhra Mango pickle is something detectable..

Enjoyed this Mango dhal to the core growing up in Andhra every summer. Here though we get raw mangoes through out the year..we have to carefully pick the right green sour kind in stores..Its the sourness that really gives the that exceptional taste to the dhal. The flavour of this dish has to experienced than said...a must try.

DSC06902 Ingredients:
To cook the dal & Mango:
2 Sour raw Mangoes, skin removed and cut into small pieces, along with the seed inside.
1-1/4 cups Toor Dal
2-1/2 cups Water
4 pods Garlic
4 Green Chillies slit
1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp gingely oil
Salt to taste(To add after the dal is cooked)

For Tempering/Talimpu/Tadka :
1 Tbsp Ghee or Gingely(sesame) Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
4 Red Chillies broken
1 Small Onion cut length wise
4 Small garlic Pods with skin(Slightly beaten)
A few Curry leaves
A hint of Hing/Asafoetida

DSC06906 Method:
Wash dal and add cut mango pieces along with the mango seeds.
Pressure cook dal and Mango with all the other ingredients to cook the dal.
Mash dal adding required salt once cooked.
In a kadai heat oil and add all the tempering ingredients after the mustard splutters.
Fry a little and then add the cooked dal and mix it thoroughly.
Garnish with Coriander if desired.
Serve hot with Rice or Rotis.
Off late I started making this as an accompaniment for Lemon rice or Tamarind rice.
Tastes great.