Taco for party

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I started writing this as a set of individual posts of all the elements of a taco party, then I thought it should all be in one place. In one ready to reference post. It is also time for Diwali parties and while you do the tikkas and the kebabs, a Taco Party is more fun, it is a welcome change to greasy Indian takeaway food used for parties and it somehow brings people to a table, which is what parties are for.

So if I have to entertain people at home, then I have an inclination towards tacos as party food. And I think its fresh. A lot can be made ahead, and very freezer friendly too. The leftovers are again freezer friendly . Think Guacamole on toast with a fried egg for breakfast.

So this post is about getting ready to set up a taco party. From scratch. Yes.

Another reason I like them is that they leave scope for a seasonal twist. So when it is the season of mangoes and I had to had to make a mango salsa. A combination off sweet and sour mangos, with a dash of chillies and salt and cilantro. Thats it. A surprise to the taste buds.

So from the salsa to the guacamole to the tortilla itself. All are customisable.
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For the tortilla:
1/2 cup maize meal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup (approximately) lukewarm water
2-3 tbsp oil/ ghee/ butter
1. Take a bowl and mix all the dry ingredients.
2. Slow add the warm water and knead. The warm water helps in the binding and rolling of the tortillas. Once the dough is smooth, divide into approximately 6-8 balls.
3. Heat a flat bottomed pan, and grease it with oil/ ghee/ butter.
4. Roll out the dough into chapatti like discs. If you are not good at that, don’t fret, just use a roti maker or tortilla maker.
5. Place a rolled tortilla on the pan and cook both sides. Cover with a cheese cloth to keep it soft. For freezing, let it cool and freeze with butter paper in between each tortilla.
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For the Tomato Salsa:
1/2 kg ripe red tomatoes
1 onion minced
1 handful cilantro/ coriander leaves chopped
2-3 green chilies minced
3-4 tbsp olive oil
To taste salt

1. Roast the tomatoes on an open flame. Instead of boiling them to remove the skin I like to roast the tomatoes. It just imparts a smoky flavour to the salsa.
2. Cool and peal the tomatoes. Mince the tomatoes by hand or roughly in a mortar and pestle the idea is to leave it slightly chunky
3. Mix all the rest of the ingredients and the salsa is ready.
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For the Guacamole:
2-3 ripe avocados
1 onion minced
1 tomato minced
1 handful cilantro/ coriander leaves chopped
2-3 green chilies minced
3-4 tbsp olive oil
2-3 lemons juiced

1. Split just ripe avocados into two. Use a spoon to carve the pulp out of the avocados and use a fork to mush/pulp the avocados. Avocados discolour very easily so squirt the lemon juice and stir. Add the rest of the ingredients.
2. Store in the fridge till it is time to serve,
3. One more tip. Avocados are bland and sometimes require adjustment of the lemon juice and salt. So taste and adjust.
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For the Yogurt Dip (a great replacement of sour cream)
1/2 kg Yogurt
2-3 cloves Garlic
Salt to taste

1. Take a cheese cloth and hang the yogurt for about 3-4 hours.
2. The hung yogurt is creamier. Use a balloon whisk and grated garlic and salt to taste.

For the Kidney Beans
1 cup kidney beans
2-3 large Tomatoes
2-3 large Onions
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilli powder (use the one whose heat you like)
1-2 cups water
2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro/ coriander leaves
2-3 tbsp oil/ ghee
Salt to taste

1. Soak the kidney beans overnight. Cook the kidney beans till tender. You can use a pressure cooker to expedite the process.
2. Add the oil in pan. Once the oil is heated, then add the chopped diced onions and sauté. Remember to keep the heat on low. Once the onions start to cook add the chopped diced tomatoes and cook. Its better to cover and cook to ensure that you onions and tomatoes sweat well. Add salt at this stage to hasten the cooking process.
3. Once the onion and tomatoes are pasty add the spices and water and bring it to boil. Then add the cooked kidney beans and cook till the means are coated in the paste. Add the cilantro/ coriander leaves and they are ready.

Add a Salad:
250 gms cherry tomatoes
2 cucumber
1 carrot
1/2 lemon juice
1-2 tbsp olive oil

1. Slice the cherry tomatoes and julienne the carrot and cucumber.
2. Add the lemon juice and olive oil
3. This easy salad is a great way to add a fresh crunch tot he tacos. You can vary it as per your liking and seasonal vegetables

Assembling the taco:

Cheese of choice

1. Take out all the best bowls for the guacamole, salsa and the yogurt dip and the salad and the beans. I like to use colourful bowls and mix an match them
2. Grate some Jack Cheese and Cheddar Cheese
3. Use a microwavable platter for tacos, so that you can reheat them.
4. Your work is done. Now allow your guests to stuff their face with tacos that they make for themselves as per their taste.

P.S.
Watch
Netflix – Riverdale – Mystery, drama – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5420376/
Movie – Ordinary People – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081283/

Listen –
Koop – Koop Island Blues – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W3MpOU3OUU
Radiohead – Creep – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFkzRNyygfk
Jem – Keep on Walking – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww5CYMI0V34

Read
Blog/ Webpage: http://inkimageideology.blogspot.in
Book: Old Man and the Sea – Earnest Hemingway – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2165.The_Old_Man_and_the_Sea

Poem

FINISTERRE

The road in the end taking the path the sun had taken,
into the western sea, and the moon rising behind you
as you stood where ground turned to ocean: no way
to your future now but the way your shadow could take,
walking before you across water, going where shadows go,
no way to make sense of a world that wouldn’t let you pass
except to call an end to the way you had come,
to take out each frayed letter you had brought
and light their illumined corners; and to read
them as they drifted on the late western light;
to empty your bags; to sort this and to leave that;
to promise what you needed to promise all along,
and to abandon the shoes that brought you here
right at the water’s edge, not because you had given up
but because now, you would find a different way to tread,
and because, through it all, part of you would still walk on,
no matter how, over the waves.
– David Whyte

Charnamrita inspired breakfast bowl

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I vividly remember two occasions when I have had a Panchamrita/ Charnamrita. One was when my aunt had taken us two sisters for attending some Puja in an old haveli in Lucknow. I remember asking for a second helping of the 1-2 tablespoon serving that we were given. And the other time when a dear friend’s mother had summoned me to help mash bananas in a big pot of cold milk and yogurt mixture. I was then made aware that this has to be done by hand only.

Panchamrita/ Charnamrita is the offering to the Divine and then consumed also by those making the offering. Yogurt, milk, ghee, honey, sugar, Indian Basil. Dry fruits, and bananas are added by others.

Because it is so tasty I thought about using the same ingredients with the addition of roasted Amarnath and Foxnut, which is very popular food during this fasting time and making a breakfast bowl.
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Ingredients:
1 cup Yogurt
2 cup Milk/ Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Honey (you could use a combination of sugar and honey)
1/4 cup Ghee
2 Bananas
1/2 cup Dry Fruits of your choice
1 cup Roasted Foxnut
1 cup Roasted Amarnath seeds
2-3 sprigs Indian Basil

1. Soak the torn Indian Basil leaves in the milk for a few hours.
2. Peel and mash the bananas in the yogurt. I did it by hand, just for the memory. It is fun. You can try it.
3. Mix the milk, ghee and honey into the banana yogurt mixture. Once every thing is assimilated add the dry fruits, roasted foxnut and roasted amarnath seeds.
4. Divide into bowls and serve.
5. Its another great bowl of food post a morning yoga flow.
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Pancakes with Thyme, Grilled Mango and Mango Syrup

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Crepes and mangoes I sorted for you all. Now well they are tricky, more technique requiring and demand more patience. But then pancakes are better. This one is a multigrain pancake. I usually take a big jar and just add various coarse grain flours and keep it for such handy use. So be more we proceed lets get this little tip on multigrain flour out of the way.

Multigrain flour.
Add all the flours below in a jar and shake it up.
250 gms Buckwheat Flour (Mothi /Kuttu Atta)
250 gms Maize Flour (Makai Atta)
250 gms Bengal Gram Flour (besan)
250 gms Sorghum Flour (Jowar Atta)
250 gms Pearl Millet Flour (Bajra Atta)
250 gms Oats Flour
250 gms Ragi Flour
500 gms Whole Wheat Flour
250 gms Rice Flour

So I made these same pancakes all the time. This one here had a mango syrup, grilled mangoes and there is thyme in the pancakes. Ya odd. But works beautifully. I personally love some cream with my Pancakes, so you will find them a regular feature.
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Ingredients:
Grilled mangoes:
2 ripe Fibrous Mangoes
2-3 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Ghee
Mango Syrup:
500 ml Mango Juice (they are only now going to be preserved ones)
1/2 lemon
Pancakes:
1 cup 9 Grain Flour (as mentioned above)
1 cup Buttermilk
1 cup Ricotta
1 cup Diced Mango
1 pinch Salt
1/2 tsp Sodium bicarbonate
1 tsp Thyme
2-3 tbsp Ghee

1. For the grilled mangoes. Peal the mangoes and try not to lick your elbows while at it. Heat a grill pan and brush with some ghee. Place the mango chunks. Brush the chunks of mango with Honey and balsamic vinegar alternatively. Keep the flame low and keep turning the mango chunks on the grill pan. Once you can see that there is colour on the mangoes. Take them off the flame
2. Simultaneously take a heavy bottomed pan and add the mango juice and let it simmer away and reduce slowly. Keep stirring occasionally. Once it starts coating the back of a spoon, turn ff the heat and add the lemon juice. The lemon juice is to prevent any crystallisation and also makes the syrup more fresh and zingy
3. Heat a non stick pan and coat it with some ghee. In a mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients of the pancake batter. Then add the ricotta. Use a balloon whisk and add the buttermilk. Then fold in the mango chunks
4. Take a ladle and pour the batter on the greased nonstick pan. Allow the pancakes to form shape. Bubbles will emerge from the pancake and it will appear cooked on the sides. This is time to flip the pancakes. Place them on a serving plate once cooked on both sides.
5. Serve the pancakes with chunks of grilled Mano and mango syrup, some quark cheese or sour creme
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P.S.
Watch
Netflix – 13 Reasons Why – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1837492/
Movie – Room – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3170832/

Listen –
Come Together – Paul McCartney, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher – for War Child – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQVPZI7dvWs
The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9jbdgZidu8
Song for the Deaf in general – No One Know – Queens Of The Stone Age – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s88r_q7oufE

Read
Blog/ Webpage: http://www.refinery29.com
Book: Beautiful Maria of My Soul – by. – Oscar Hijuelos – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7600936-beautiful-maria-of-my-soul

Poem
Moonlight, summer moonlight

‘Tis moonlight, summer moonlight,
All soft and still and fair;
The solemn hour of midnight
Breathes sweet thoughts everywhere,

But most where trees are sending
Their breezy boughs on high,
Or stooping low are lending
A shelter from the sky.

And there in those wild bowers
A lovely form is laid;
Green grass and dew-steeped flowers
Wave gently round her head.

– Emily Bronte

Mango Loaf with NO ADDED SUGAR

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Mangoes. I guess we are so busy enjoying the fruit on its own when it is in season, that we forget that mangoes make for a great fruit to cook with. In keeping with the same aim, I tried to bake a mango loaf, just like a banana bread.

Why a mango loaf, because I thought that it can be a great base for stone fruit and yogurt or mascarpone , just like or better than a typical pound cake. And its true. Freshly pureed mango is airy and hence the cake is surprisingly light without any egg white whipping involved.

I served these with honey and fresh mangoes. You can choose any fruit and greek yogurt or whipped cream or better still mascarpone cheese. I was skeptical about using or not using vanilla extract in this recipe, worried that the cake will turn out to be more eggy than mongo-ey. But thankfully, they turned out to have only delicate mango flavour
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Ingredients
125 gms butter
2 eggs
1 cup mango puree
100 gms all purpose flour
155 gms fine polenta
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp whole oats for garnishing on top of the loaf

  1. Cream the butter and the mango puree. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk through.
  2. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold the cake. Be careful to do this delicately so that the air incorporated in the mixture is not released.
  3. Pour the mixture in a parchment paper lined loaf tin of 10 inch length. Sprinkle the whole oats on top and bake in a pre heated oven at 180 degree centigrade for 45 minute or till a poked skewer comes out clean.
  4. The loaf will rise and tends to split down the middle. Don’t worry about that.
  5. Serve with fruit of choice and cream/ icecream/ cheese.
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    P.S.
    Watch
    Netflix – Ranch http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4998212/
    Movie – Binge watch all the LOTR series https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings_(film_series)

Listen
John Mayer – Love on the weekend – John Mayer – Love on the Weekend (Audio) – YouTube
Gary BB Coleman – The sky is crying – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71Gt46aX9Z4
Caught a Ghost – Time Co – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_LqBYI10fM
The Black Keys – Gold On The Ceiling – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yCIDkFI7ew

Read
Blog – Urban outfitter and the content on the blog is ever illuminating. http://blog.urbanoutfitters.com

Book – The Glass Castle by Jeannette https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7445.The_Glass_Castle

Poem:

Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

– Maya Angelou

Inspired Shroom 

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I was in Tallinn, this summer, meeting a friend, on a road trip in the Baltic. The Baltic in summer is full of fresh produce, with the markets wafting with the fragrance of ripe strawberries and farmers with cherry stained aprons offering the fruit in an array of yellowed to bright beautifully maroon sweetness.

One of the definite places to go visit in Tallinn is Telliskivi – art district, creative city. And boy it does not disappoint. Some of the street art had me staring for what could have been an eternity. And though till date I have not shared any picture on this blog other than that directly related to food, this time I feel compelled. It remains not just a gem in the Baltic, but also a great place for discovering art. With a bouquet of boutiques and stores offering knick knacks for everyone.IMG_3820

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From top;

A home furnishing store in Telliskivi loomelinnak

One of the many cafes and what beautiful blue sky

Is it a cat or a rat or a mouse with a grouse? Graffiti on the walls

Those eyes, they had me. Captivating. the best wall art I have ever seen

The Petunia dotted cafe balcony overlooking the parking

This whole old warehouse district is dotted with old carriage ways and station wagons done up to become cafes and old communist factory floors house lovely restaurants. One of the most popular one is F-Honne, known for its daily fresh bake of the regional brown bread, which is by the way on the house with unlimited balsamic and olive oil to dip, is a more or less perfect example of  industrial design done right. Here I had a spring mushroom soup, the flavour of which was surprisingly asian and close to Thai, fresh, simple button mushrooms, lemony, zingy and just the right tang to balance the coconut milk broth.

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The Interiors of F-Honne http://www.fhoone.ee

And I have here tried to recreate that same soup. Surprise, surprise, there is a cheats way of doing it added to the tip section, right before the post script. Do not miss it.
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Ingredients:

For the curry paste:
1 handful Thai basil
1 handful coriander leaves (with roots)
2-3 kaffir lime leaves and kaffir lime skin
2 inches lemon grass
1 green chilli
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion
For the soup:
500 gms button mushrooms (thoroughly washed and evenly diced)
400 ml light coconut milk
2 tbsp cooking oil ( I used ghee)
1 lemon
Salt to taste

  1. Blend all the ingredients of the curry paste in a blender, with a little water. Only one 1 table spoon per person is needed. So the rest can be easily popped in the fridge for later use.
  2. Add the ghee to the pan, and sauté the mushrooms on slow heat. As the mushrooms start to render the liquid add 2 table spoon (1 tbsp per 250 gms.  of mushrooms so that the flavour is not overpowering) of the curry paste and continue to sauté on low heat.
  3. This needs to cook for about 15 minutes. Please be careful not to turn the heat up. Once you see that the mushrooms are cooked and the curry paste that coats the mushrooms has lost colour, add the coconut milk and 400 ml water. Allow the broth to simmer for 15minutes or so on low heat.
  4. Cook till the broth reaches the consistency you desire and add the seasoning as per taste. Add the juice of one lemon, or as much as you like.
  5. Garnish with springs of mint, coriander leaves, thai basil, or basil flowers. 

Cheats Tip:
Skip the whole curry making step, and add 1 table spoon of thai green curry paste. Almost no one will notice.

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P.S.
Watch
Netflix – Blood Line http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3520702/
Movie – The Blind Side. A great story for weekend watching if you have not already. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0878804/
Listen
Lost on the River – When I get my Hands on You (I think this is 1/4 Mumford Sons in here ) -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcMvZeFSuXE
Water – Jack Garratt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFuhB8N2CLk
You and I – Wilco – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USjuOWLyWIQ

Read
Blog – I need to lear a lot from here about social media management. In the mean time why don’t you try. https://www.agorapulse.com/blog
Book – Into the water by Paula Hawkins https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33151805-into-the-water
Poem:
Like all the rest of her poems, the poem does not have a title and is called by the first line of the poem.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

– Emily Dickinson

Spicy Green Broth

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So you want to make the kids eat more greens. You yourself are bored with the kale and the chard in your salad day after day and you wish if only you could somehow have your greens and not feel bloated or constipated with all that iron either? Do you recollect that as a child chutneys made of fresh coriander or mint or a combination of both were a staple in India.

Or you think a green soup and you think it will have maybe blanched spinach or bok choy, which is boring. But what if we meant fresh coriander, mint, thai basil, green chillies, lemon, garlic, ginger, the nutty creaminess of cashew and melon seeds garnished with coconut cream. Seems a lot of work with the ingredient list, but its not. It is all about a quick blitz in the processes and a single boil and there you have it.

The soup requires very little cooking and will save your digestive track from over exerting while you are still recuperating from any illness or antibiotic course and still provide abundant nutrition in the spicy broth. This recipe is inspired by Heidi Swanson’s Near & Far Green Soup. If you have any nut or chilli allergies, please skip them altogether.

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Ingredients:
1 bunch mint leaves
1 bunch coriander leaves
1 bunch thai basil
4-5 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
2-3 green chillies
1/2 cup cashew
1/2 cup melon seeds
1 tin coconut milk
1 lemon
3 cups water

Soak the nuts for 2 hours. This helps in getting a smoother texture.
In a food processor blend the mint, coriander, thai basil, ginger, garlic green chillies and the soaked nuts. Blend till very a creamy paste is formed.
Boil 3 cups of water. once it starts boiling add the coconut milk. Turn off the heat.
Add the paste to this hot liquid. Stir and serve.
I used basil flowers and coconut milk and a squirt of lemon juice as garnish. This soup is a great base for adding vegetables and noodles for a full dinner. On its own its a great broth to ease a congestion and cold and flu symptoms.
You can also let it rest and serve cold with grated/sliced cucumber.
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P.S.
Watch
Netflix – Black Mirror – Recommended by my Geek Confidante, this British Series is a dark and satirical examination of modern society https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDiYGjp5iFg
Movie – Chasing Ice – Follow National Geographic photographer James Balog across the Arctic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIZTMVNBjc4
Listen
We dedicate this section this time legends and the best mixes and covers on sound cloud
Bob Marley – Jammin – https://soundcloud.com/waldvolk/bob-marley-jamming
The Doors – LA Woman – https://soundcloud.com/mrfortunerisin/la-woman-tribute-the-doors-jim
U2 – The Elevation – https://soundcloud.com/maverickv8/elevation-mav

Read
Blog – I’ve spent the past few weeks, absent. In more meanings of the word than one. You know you’re doing something right when something, someone, consumes every moment of your existence. Every waking thought and feeling. Every drifted dream and sleeping movement. It’s always been that way though. I choose something, someone, to love, and allow myself to fall into complete absorption. Utter submission. Both mental and physical. That, for the most part, is the reason why commitment and I can never co-exist. I lose myself in the consummation of another. Neglect. Savagery. Desire. Its bloody work built for the brave. Stomaching the entire flesh of a person, devouring every inch of their shrunken soul. It’s no easy feat, to navigate between the impulses of passion and thirst. Creation. I starve for creation. We burn together, brilliantly. And flame with it. Until the remains of decayed being are singed blackly wax enough to bloom into a new form of heightened living. I cling to the light, the white heat found in the crevices, the cracks, the fragments of self. who would not want to read more. http://www.butterandbrioche.com/gather-autumnal-supper/
Book – A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There – Aldo Leopold – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/210404.A_Sand_County_Almanac_and_Sketches_Here_and_There
Poem -Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
End Entry Content

– Robert Frost

Carrot Top-ped, nothing funny about this one

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A white rabbit with an orange carrot and we all think of Alice in Wonderland and childhood attempts at finding the rabbit hole.

Come winters and carrots flood the market. All 3 colours, orange, red and black. Sometimes the yellow ones as well. In india one of the most sought after winter desserts is carrot halwa. Carrots slow cooked in milk for upto 3-4 hours and finished off with some dry fruits, ghee and cardamom and a dash of sugar. Most households don’t make it anymore. The corner sweet shop caters to this childhood nostalgia.

Not to forget the love for carrot cake though. Slathered with a generous cream cheese topping and warm cups of tea. I use a small carrot always in my fresh tomato soup, or tomato pasata. It adds some sweetness which masks sour tomatoes if any.

While we all know that carrots are a rich source of beta carotene and vitamin A, carrots can be a boring vegetable, especially if you plan to feed the children or the carnivores who don’t find vegetables interesting at all. I am not a carnivore, neither a child but this vegetable I only enjoy, combined with my orange juice in the morning, carrot cake loaves or sometimes like this Roasted Baby Carrots with Herbed Yogurt Dressing with the flavours of dil all the way

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Roasted Baby Carrots with Herbed Yogurt Dressing

1/2kg          baby carrots
4-5             cloves garlic
1bunch      fresh dil (I love dil, especially with roasted potatoes)
2tbsp         olive/ sunflower/sesame oil
2tbsp         lemon juice
1pinch       salt
1cup           greek yoghurt

  1. Wash and clean the carrots. I hate grit in the mouth and therefore I keep the heads with the leaves on only if the baby carrots are from my own vegetable patch, freshly uprooted and cleaned. If brought from the market I remove all the greens. Here too the baby carrots are whole (sans any greens), they have not been beheaded and they have been very thoroughly washed.
  2. Prep the carrots. Spread the carrots on a large tray (line the tray with parchment if not using a non-stick tray). Drizzle oil, lemon juice and mix it all on the tray, ensuring that the carrots are coated with the oil and the lemon juice. Sprinkle a few sprigs of dil and garlic on the tray
  3. Roast the carrots. Put the tray on the top shelf of the oven at 190 degree centigrade and roast for upto 40 minutes. The outer skin on the carrots will shrivel and will make them sweeter.
  4. Prepare the dressing. Mince the roasted garlic from the carrot tray into the yoghurt. Chop finely a handful of dil and add to the yoghurt. Season with a pinch of salt.
  5. Serve. Tumble the roasted carrots on a platter, I used a wooden slab. Pour the dressing on top of the carrots and enjoy.

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There ain’t no such thing as too much fruit

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Banana Fruit Cake

I have forever had the 5 O’Clock hunger. PM of course! Always. Whether as a child when this was around the evening play time or now when its time to slow down in the day over a cup of tea or coffee.

Most of the times I reach for the usual almonds, fruits, rice crisps, chips, the works. but there are times when I crave Cake. For me though its never, ever, very very rarely about the creamed cakes. Its usually about a flavourful tea cake. Barely sweet and usually resounding with the season’s fruit.

And top among the list of loves is the banana bread. Almost fool proof and always perfuming the house with the most splendid aroma of cinnamon, banana and vanilla. Sometimes an added touch of coconut.

The more stale it goes, the crumblier it gets. I think I could say that its different in flavour when sliced through warm straight out of the oven, different if had cold with warm coffee or milk, very different when slightly toasted through with a dollop of butter as morning breakfast, great as a post work out energy slab (of cake of course, why else do we work out, to eventually indulge ourselves).

So here is the version that I make and it is basically to reduce all guilt, the flour is blended with whole wheat flour, the sugar is packed brown and very less making the most of the natural sweetness of the bananas. For this specific time I also made some cherry compote to go with it, probably because i wanted to just try out my new cherry pitter, or for want of a tart contrast the cake. If you have the cherry compote left over, use it on toast, pancakes, crepes etc. I finished mine on the cheese board, served with some crackers and Camembert.

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Banana Bread:

125 gms butter
150 gms dark brown sugar (if you like yours sweeter make that 200gms)
2 eggs
6 mashed bananas
100 gms all purpose flour
155 gms whole wheat flour (atta)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla extract
100 ml thinned yoghurt (whisk a little water, about 20ml to 80ml yogurt)
150 gms dry coconut powder (optional)

Cherry Compote:

250 gms pitted cherries
50 gms sugar
1 lime (zest and juice)

  • Mash bananas. Thats simple, peal and use a fork to break the bananas. Line a 3 inch deep 10X3 inch loaf tin with parchment paper. and preheat the oven at 180 degrees centigrade.
  • The wet ingredients first. Cream the butter and sugar, which is about a 2 minute whisk job. Add in the eggs one at a time and whisk again. Add the vanilla extract and the thinned yoghurt and whisk again.
  • The dry ingredients. Run everything through a sieve. Both the flours, the baking powder and the baking soda along with the cinnamon.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Do not whisk too much but ensure that you combine thoroughly. As we have added yoghurt to the cake batter, it will immediately activate the baking powder and backing soda. So we will have to work quickly without over working the mixture. Use a spatula and pour the mixture in the lined loaf tin.
  • If you are using the coconut powder then sprinkle it on the top after you have evened the cake mix in the tin with the spatula. This coconut forms a heady aromatic flavourful crust on to of the cake.
  • Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in a 180 degree centigrade oven. Ensure it is cooked through by checking if a knife passes through the cake and comes out clean with no ingredients sticking to it.

Enjoy the smells wafting in the house and take out your favourite tea and china for the afternoon treat if you will. And while you are at it

  • Macerate the cherry. Add the sugar to the cherries and let it sit for an hour or so.
  • Gently cook. In a heavy bottomed pan, tumble the sugared cherries. Add zest of the lime. Simmer. Cover. And allow the fruit to release its juices and bubble away. Cook for about 10 minutes or so and then add the juice of 1 lime and let it simmer for 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat but continue stirring till the pot starts to cool down. The compote is ready.

Once the cake is done. Let it rest and cool off slightly. Thats the toughest part though but don’t loose patience, you don’t want to break the cake so wait for 15 minutes.

Serve. There are many ways. But best thing, serve warm with butter and the cherry compote. Coconut cream works well too.

Enjoy!

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