Monday, 8 August 2016

Mango Cheesecake ! (No Bake)

Only a bunch of blogs survive through their first year. In that way I am so thrilled that my blog has reached its second birthday ! Exactly two years ago on Aug 8th 2014 , I wasn't sure should I hit the publish button and make my very first post. I have had few other blogs opened for different interest and hobbies that had never survived. With a 9 month old baby in hand and daily chores with zero help, the idea of blogging, oh yea the food blogging was very intimidating. 
I have seen and met new moms who complain they do not have time to cook with a baby /toddler at home. With all those in mind, its not only cooking but also clicking every step and composing the dishes here was a huge task for me indeed , and this only a food blogger can apprehend.
The second year was not up to the mark as the previous year with the number of posts comparatively very less due to number of reasons. With my toddler engaging me in every activity he does I couldn't squeeze time to sit with laptop. Moreover with a kitchen accident (hot oil splash on face) and followed by a family chicken pox (for a month) I was away from blogging. Anyways nothing stopped forever and I am really happy that I have still kept it alive and write this in the middle of the night with my boys sleeping beside.
In these two years I have learnt so much about different cuisines, followed a number of wonderful bloggers , had exposure to many cooking techniques and  expanded my love for food photography. I wish I keep my creative juices flowing as always despite a busy mom of a toddler and a homemaker.
And a very big thank you to all those beautiful people out there who visit my space regularly, encourage me and keep this page active.
Let's celebrate this two years of happy blogging with a no bake yummy mango cheesecake !


Cheese cakes are desserts that have one or more layers. The lower most layer is a thin layer of biscuit crumbs with melted butter and sugar. The main layer being the cheese layer which has cream cheese, sugar and whipped cream mostly. The one I have made is a no bake version, but sometimes eggs are included in a baked cheese cake.The top most layer can be a  fruit puree, or just chopped fruits, nuts, fruit sauce or chocolate syrup.
This no bake cheese cake has three layers, the lowermost crumb layer made with digestive biscuits and butter. I didn't want to add any sugar to this layer as they digestive biscuit taste already good with butter. The middle layer and main layer has cream cheese and whipped cream, sugar and flavored with mango puree. The top most layer is just mango puree and set with gelatin. 
If you do not prefer using gelatin then, just use mango slices to decorate on top the cheese layer.


INGREDIENTS (Makes two 5 inch cakes)

For the first layer (biscuit):

  • 10 digestive biscuits
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar (optional) (I didnt use)

For the second layer (cheese) :

  • 250 gms Cream cheese
  • 150 ml Heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup mango puree
  • 1/2 cup Icing sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

For the third layer (mango)

  • 3/4 cup Mango Puree
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Gelatin
  • 3 tbsp Warm water



STEPS
  • Take the digestive biscuits in a zip lock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. (or just blitz them in a processor)
  • Take the crushed biscuits in a bowl and add the melted butter to it.


  • Mix well and it will look like a wet sandy mixture.
  • Fill the bottom of the cake tins with the biscuit mixture and spread evenly and make it firm with the back of a spoon. It should be min 0.5 cm thick.


  • Choose ripe mangoes, and take out the pulp and blend them to a smooth puree.


  • Take chilled whipping cream in a bowl and beat them till you get stiff peaks.


  • In another big mixing bowl, take the cream cheese , whisk it and then add sugar and vanilla extract.


  • Mix the sugar well and then add (only) 1/4 cup mango puree to the cream cheese mixture.


  • Mix it well and then add the whipped cream to this. 
  • Fold the cream to the cheese mixture and then fill the cake tins with the cheese layer (on the biscuit crumb layer) leaving some space on top for the third mango layer.


  • Now, take the remaining mango puree in a bowl.
  • Add gelatin to warm water and dissolve it well. Add this gelatin to the mango puree .

  • Mix really well and then pour this mango puree on the cheese layer evenly making a thin layer.
  • Use a silicon spatula to even it on top.
  • Refrigerate overnight !


NOTES

  • Gelatin is not vegetarian, though there are some versions of veg gelatins available. So If you want to refrain from gelatin, just top the cheese layer with some thinly sliced mangoes.
  • Since I have not used gelatin in the cheese layer , it will be still soft and cannot expect a clean cut with knife like those gelatin set cheese layers.
  • Adjust sugar in the cheese layer as per taste
  • Make sure your cream cheese quantity is always more than the whipped cream, so that it sets a bit without gelatin, otherwise they will be falling apart. 
  • If you want the cheese layer to be very firm, then dissolve 1 1/2 tbsp gelatin with 1/4 cup warm water and add to the cheese mixture and then add to the tin.
  • Use any biscuits for the crumb layer like marie, graham crackers or digestive biscuits.




With Love,

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Kurukku Kalan !


Kurukku Kalan (aka Katti Kalan) is a yogurt(curd) and coconut based dish that is part of the delicious Onam sadya. I love to experiment with some of these traditional kerala dishes and I started loving this kalan for it has yam, my favourite veggie (tuber). Kurukku in Malayalam means to reduce, so as it means we keep cooking and reduce the curd that is added and then lot of freshly ground coconut is added to the dish, and tempered with lot of curry leaves in coconut oil.
First time I just used normal yogurt, though it tasted good it lacked the authentic sour taste. So always  try use sour curd/yogurt for this dish. 
Though the ingredients used in Kalan and Kurukku kalan are same, they only differ in their consistency. As the curd is cooked for long time and reduced kurukku kalan is a little time consuming dish but worth the time and effort.


INGREDIENTS
  • 1 big plaintain (raw banana)
  • 1 cup chopped yam
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • salt as needed
  • 2 cups sour curd (approx 500 gms)
  • 1 cup Grated / chopped coconut (approx one small coconut)
  • 2 - 3 Green Chillis
  • 1/2 tsp Jeera
  • 1 tbsp Ghee
  • 1/2 tsp Roasted Fenugreek powder

To Temper
  • 1 tbsp Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp jeera
  • a pinch of asafoedita
  • 2 -3 Dry red chillis (broken)
  • few curry leaves

STEPS
  • Peel the outerskin and Chop the raw banana   and yam and keep the immersed in water.
  • First take the yam in a vessel and immerse in water and cook for 4 - 5 minutes. As yam takes a little longer time to cook when compared to plaintain, we are adding this first.


  • After 5 minutes, add the raw banana, turmeric powder , chilli powder, pepper and salt and close and cook 


  • All the water should be absorbed and the veggies should be cooked almost. Then add the sour curd and give a mix. Allow it to cook in medium flame.


  • Meanwhile , when the curd is recuding, grind the coconut with green chillis and jeera to a smooth paste adding little water.


  • Once the curd / yogurt is reduced much, add the ground paste and curry leaves and allow to simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes, until the kalan is thick and no more runny.
  • Sprinkle roasted fenugreek powder and add a spoon of ghee and turn off stove.

  • Do a tempering with oil, mustars, jeera, hing, red chillis and lot of curry leaves and then pour this on the kalan and gently mix.



NOTES

  • Make sure you use very sour curd for this dish. Most of the yogurt we get here are really sweet , so I keep them outside for a day so that they become a little sour.
  • Curry leaves and fenugreek powder add very good flavour to the dish, so do not skip them.
  • Use fresh coconut always for most of the kerala dishes. Desiccated or frozen wont give you same results as fresh.
  • Instead of adding pepper powder or crushed pepper directly when cooking veggies, you can also add the pepper to 2 cups water and strain it and then use the water to cook veggies as we only need the pepper flavor.
  • Serve with rice or as side dish.



With Love,

Kung Pao Chicken !



Kung Pao Chicken also transcribed as Gong Bao or Kung Po, is a spicy stir-fry dish made with chicken,peanutsvegetables, and chili peppers. The classic dish in Sichuan cuisine originated in the Sichuan Province of south-westernChina and includes Sichuan peppercorns. Although the dish is found throughout China, there are regional variations that are typically less spicy than the Sichuan serving. (Source :Wiki)
The original Sichuan version uses chicken as its primary ingredient. In this original version, diced chicken is typically mixed with a prepared marinade. The wok is seasoned and then chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns are flash-fried to add fragrance to the oil. Then the chicken is stir-fried and vegetables, along with peanuts, are added. Shaoxing wine is used to enhance flavor in the marinade.
Kung Pao chicken starts off with fresh, moist, unroasted peanuts or cashew nuts. These are often used instead of their pre-roasted versions. The peanuts or cashew nuts are dropped into the hot oil on the bottom of the wok first, then deep-fried until golden brown before the other ingredients are added. But as I had  pre roasted jumbo peanuts I didn't fry them in oil, but added it to the chicken later. 
The most important component of the dish is handfuls of Sichuan peppercorns which I didn't have. So I have just used normal red chillis.


INGREDIENTS

For the marinade:

  • 300 gms boneless chicken
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp White pepper
  • 1 tsp Dark Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Corn flour
  • 1 tsp Vinegar 

Others

  • 2 - 3 tbsp oil
  • 7 to 8 dry red chillis
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp chopped celery
  • 3- 4 Spring onions
  • 1/2 white onion (cubed)
  • 1 cup mixed colored peppers(cubed)
  • salt as needed
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp corn flour + 1/4 cup water 
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup peanuts or cashewnuts

STEPS
  • Marinate the chicken pieces with the ingredients mentioned and allow it to sit for 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Then add oil in a wok and fry the chiken for 4 to 5 minutes in high heat until it turns opaque and gets almost cooked. 
  • Remove the chicken and keep it aside. 
  • Add some more oil in the wok, throw in the dry red chillis and the sichaun peppers (if you have) and flash fry them until the oil is fragnant, then add tthe ginger, garlic and celery and fry them all.
  • Add the onions and spring onion (white part) and colored peppers and fry them for 2 minutes in high heat.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper , the sauces and keep sauting them.
  • Add the fried chicken pieces to it, some sugar and fry for a minute or two.
  • Pour in the corn flour slurry and toss well.

  • Throw in the roasted peanuts and keep tossing until the corn flour slurry thickens and coats the chicken well making it glossy.
  • Add the spring onion green part, toss  and turn off stove.



NOTES


  • You can add cashewnuts in place of peanuts. And if they are unroasted then roast them well in the hot oil after adding the chillis, and then remove them and add them back atlast so that they remain crunchy.
  • Increase the number of chillis if you like it more spicy.
  • Make sure your chicken is cooked well. 
  • The color of the dish depends on the quantity and quality of the dark soy sauce used.
  • Serve with hot steamed rice.


With Love,

Egg Kuruma !


Egg Kuruma or Mutta Kuruma is a very simple dish where boiled eggs are simmered in a coconut based gravy along with few other aromatic spices. Then masala that is ground for kuruma is usually the same be it veg kuruma or egg kuruma.  When I dont have vegetables then egg always comes to a rescue in any of the gravy forms like this kuruma or Andhra Egg Curry
Check out other easy egg recipes and other similar kuruma recipes below.



INGREDIENTS

To Grind to a paste
  • 1/3 cup fresh coconut bits
  • 2  Green Chillis
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
  • 1 tsp Fennel Seeds (Sombu)
  • 1 tsp Poppy Seeds
  • 6 - 7 Whole Cashews 
  • 2 Cloves
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
For Gravy
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Jeera
  • a pinch of asafoedita
  • 1/2 tsp pepper corns
  • 1 meodum onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 Medium Tomatoes
  • salt as needed
  • few curry leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp Red Chilli powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • coirander leaves to garnish

STEPS
  • Hard boil the eggs and remove their shells, make some slits and keep aside.
  • Grind all the ingredients mentioned under "To Grind" to a smooth paste adding some water to a smooth paste.


  • Heat oil in  pan, add pepper, jeera , hing followed by ginger garlic paste, curry leaves and onions.
  • Saute till onions turn slightly brown.


  • Add tomatoes and saute till they are soft and then add salt and the spice powders.
  • Add a splash of water if needed and allow it to cook till oil separates.

  • Then add the ground paste. adjust water and then bring it to a boil. Sprinkle garam masala and then add the boiled eggs. Close and cook for five minutes and then turn off stove. 

 NOTES
  • Fresh coconut gives best results, and I have not tried with desiccated or frozen coconut. 
  • If you dont have ginger garlic paste then, add a piece of ginger and few garlic cloves along with coconut and grind.
  • Instead of chopped tomatoes, you can also pureed tomatoes. 
  • Adjust water as per the consistency of the gravy you prefer. 
  • Serve with hot rice or rotis.
With Love,

Chettinad Mochai Kuzhambu !



This chettinad style mochai kottai kuzhambu is a very traditional recipe with field beans along with some flavorful freshly ground spices. I have already posted a normal kuzhambu version (kara kuzhambu) with this beans. You can find it that Karunai Kizhangu Mochai Kuzhambu here
Kuzhambus are a very good alternative to lentil based sambars. If you are interested in more such south Indian kuzhambu recipes check out and try all of these. They are super yum and tangy and delicious with hot steamed rice.


INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup Mochai Kottai (Field Beans)
  • 2 tsp Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • a pinch of asafoedita
  • few curry leaves
  • 6 - 7 Garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • salt as needed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  •  3 tsp Kuzhambu Powder / Sambar Powder
  • tamarind (lemon size)

To Roast and Grind
  • 1 tsp Pepper corns
  • 2 Dry red chillis
  • 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp Urad Dal
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Grated Coconut

STEPS
  • Soak the mochai (beans ) overnight and then pressure cook for 2 - 3 whistles until they are cooked soft.
  • Dry roast the ingredients mentioned above (except coconut) until they are well roasted and nice aroma wafts.
  • Lastly add coconut and roast for couple of seconds and remove from heat and allow it cool.


  • Heat oil, add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, jeera , asafoedita etc and then add garlic followed by sliced onions.
  • Saute the onions till they are slightly brown and then add chopped tomatoes.


  • Once tomatoes are soft, add salt and the sambar powder / Kuzhambu powder give a mix.
  • Add a cup of water and allow it to come to a boil.
  • Soak tamarind and extract the juice and add it to the kuzhambu,


  • Grind the roasted ingredients into a paste adding little water.
  • Add this ground paste to the kuzhambu. close  and allow to cook for five minutes.


  • Now add the cooked mochai to the kuzhambu, close and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Turn off stove and garnish with coriander leaves.

NOTES

  • If you do not have kuzhambu powder or sambhar powder then, just add a combination of red chilli powder and coriander powder.
  • Adjust the spices like pepper, dry red chillis etc as per taste.
  • I generally add a tsp of jaggery to such kuzhambus, so its upto you to add it in this kuzhambu.
  • Serve with hot rice.
  • If you forgot to soak the beans overnight then dry roast them till brown spots appear on them, and then pressure cook them till they are coked soft.


With Love,