Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jack in the Parcel

Recipe: Steamed Jackfruit Parcels / Kumbal Appam

It's jackfruit season and the jackfruit trees are full of them.

Jackfruit is eaten in many forms in Kerala. In fact, even the jackfruit seeds are cooked / fried and relished. The raw jackfruit is a good source of carbohydrates and cooked with coconut and spices and eaten as a main course and substitute for rice. A certain variety of raw jackfruit can also be fried to make jackfruit chips. When the jackfruit is ripe, it is very sweet and can be eaten uncooked as a fruit or made into a variety of sweet dishes.

With such a large number of jackfruits at our disposal when we were in Kerala, we made many dishes out of them and had our cravings satisfied.. at least for a while.

The recipe I'm posting today is of a really easy and common dish in Kerala, made with ripe jackfruit and roasted rice-flour. They are traditionally wrapped in the fragrant Malabathrum (Elamangam / Edana) leaves and steam cooked. Malabathrum leaves have a lovely cinnamon-like fragrance. This fragrance is imparted to the dish when it is wrapped in these leaves and steam cooked.

In case, this particular type of leaves are not available, this dish can also be made wrapped in banana leaves and then steam-cooked. On doing so, since the dish will not have the wonderful smell from the Malabathrum leaves, a tiny pinch of cinnamon powder can be added to the dough before steaming it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Flame of Life

Life is like a candle flame,
Flickering in the winds of time.
But when the flame goes out,
What is it that happens?
Is it just void nothingness?
Or a new eternal blaze?

What a tragic situation it is, if after struggling through this life there is nothing to look forward to and just void nothingness awaits us beyond...

I had written down the above lines in my journal during my school days - the days when I had the time to ponder upon life, search for reasons and write down my thoughts....

We are in our hometown since a week. We celebrated Easter in Kerala this year and thankfully remembered the loving God and the empty grave that testified 2000 years ago that the end of this life is just the beginning of another...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Venturing Into Eggless Cakes

Recipe: Eggless Cupcake with Whole wheat flour and Demarara Sugar 

The other day, when I discovered that my good friend V was blogging, I was overjoyed! Besides being one of my most treasured friends, she has always been an encouragement to me when I started my blog and offered valuable suggestions and even tried out my recipes! (thanks V!)

One evening, V and I decided to guest post in each other's blog. Why, you may ask? I dunno.. Just for the fun of it. I mean, why not? When she laid down her conditions of no non-veg and no eggs, the hard-core non-vegetarian in me fainted...

The veggie-lover-cum-healthy-eater part of me decided to take up the challenge. After a little thinking and research, I decided to substitute the eggs in my cake recipe with apple sauce :) And out came this gorgeous and yummy eggless cupcake.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Chat About Chaat

Recipe: Low Cal Dahi Papdi Chaat

Who doesn't like chaats with their spicy, sweet, tangy and crispy combinations?! My favourite is the dahi papdi chaat especially during the summers! It's so refreshing to dig into a plate full of curd, crispy papdis, potatoes / channa (chickpeas), seasoned with the sweet and spicy chutneys and garnished with chopped coriander leaves. With chaat shops in every corner of Bangalore, its very easy to satisfy your chaat cravings.

If you actually think about it, chaats are not so bad for health if you remove the deep-fried stuff like the papdis, sev, pooris etc. The rest of it - curd, chutneys, boiled potatoes, channa, sprouts or pomegranate seeds, etc are good stuff. 

And so began my quest to make the low-cal dahi papdi chaat. I started thinking of ways to replace the deep-fried stuff in them. I finally decided to make baked poori instead of papdi. Baked poori is crispy and crunchy and tastes similar to papdi, provided the dough is rolled out thin.

For the low-cal sev, I spent quite sometime racking my brains. I finally got it - dry roasted crushed instant noodles! Though sev is not an important component if the chaat. I feel it can be left out without any difference in taste to the chaat.

Dahi Papdi chaat also has plain boiled and cooked potato / channa (chickpeas) or sprouted beans. But on that day, I had some channa masala leftover from lunch, that I wanted to use up. It really doesn't matter whether you add plain cooked channa (chickpeas) or a channa masala.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Extravaganza

Recipe: Chocolate Coated Caramels

What happens when a chocoholic realizes that she is caramel-crazy too? Bad things happen! Especially to her hips... Unless she makes sure to increase her exercise-time!

But food-wise, it's a really awesome thing to happen. These are totally worth it - the extra exercise and additional hours at the gym!

These chocolate coated caramels are so good and so addictive. It's easy to polish off the entire batch in one sitting. So beware people! Make sure to distribute them to neighbours and family members as soon as possible before you unknowingly reach for another.. and yet another... and then before you know it, it's all over! And it's all inside you!

These are really easy to make and are excellent gifts as well.

History in the Making

Anna Hazare is the stuff of legends. On April 5th 2011, when he began a fast unto death in order to pass the anti-corruption Lokpal bill in the Indian Parliament, people and the media were wondering if Gandhian methods would work in today's day and age.

Before we knew it, his movement gained momentum and there were people all over India supporting Anna Hazare. It is reported that at least 150 people joined Anna in the fasting and many others gathered in different parts of the country to show their support. It was heart-warming and inspiring to see so many of the common people taking a public stand against corruption. And the best part of this movement was that it was not related to any political party. In fact, politicians were not even allowed to visit the site of protest. This was a movement of the common man who bore the brunt of all their actions - whether good or bad.

Within 5 days, the Government agreed to this 72 year old man's demands and Anna Hazare ended his 97-hour hunger strike. People all over the country rejoiced in this victory. Anna says that this is just the beginning and the real struggle is in drafting the new legislation. Even then, Anna Hazare has succeeded in igniting a fire in the hearts of many Indians.

Questions does arise as to how this bill will be formulated and implemented successfully. Nevertheless, this has showed us that there is a ray of hope and a glimmer of light in the dark abyss of corruption. There will be a better tomorrow as long as the people of this Nation stand united against any force that tries to create barriers amongst them.

You can read more about Anna Hazare here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Caramel Crunch

Recipe: Caramel Candy Apple Slices

Are you in the mood for something sweet n' fruity, tart n' crunchy? Then, you must try these Caramel Apples. I never realized, till I tasted these beauties, that caramel with apple is such a wonderful combination. They are just like a match made in heaven :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Joys of Baking Cakes

Recipe: Marble Cake

I love baking cakes. Have I mentioned that before? I love baking cakes for the below mentioned reasons
Reason 1) I love eating cake-batter
Reason 2) I love eating cake-batter
Reason 3) I love eating cake-batter

Recently, there is another reason why I like baking cakes so much - I get to do it along with my favourite helper - my little boy :)

My son loves operating the cake mixer! Though he prefers doing it all by himself, the over-protective mother in me is always right beside him when he does it. And also he isn't allowed to switch on and off the power or bring his fingers near the mixer hooks. I tell him that he's got to be 18 (!) to do that... After a little pointless negotiating about the age, he listens to me and is happy to be holding the cake mixer and beating the batter :)

The only problem I face when I bake cakes with my son is that it gets difficult to stop him from eating the cake batter (salmonella poisoning from raw eggs?!). The person who said "Nothing is Impossible" got to be kidding. Just try stopping a 4-year old from eating cake batter when you are gorging on it yourself :P That, my friends, is the perfect definition of the word "Impossible".

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Cool Victory

Recipe: Strawberry Yoghurt Ice Pops

It's cricket fever in India. And the temperature is running high!

Whenever the Indian Cricket Team plays, its not just the players who are involved. It's an entire nation of fans! Fans are as involved in the game as the players. Some of them are so tensed that they can hardly sleep properly the night before. The religious fans resort to seeking God to plead for the team's victory. The superstitious fans tend to blame themselves or their actions for things ranging from loss of wickets to the low scores.

In India, cricket is not just a game. It's much more. I'm not an ardent cricket fan. But when I see the people around me, I realise that there's at least a billion hearts beating for Team India. And after their victory, there's a billion people celebrating with them.

Last wednesday's victory saw the night sky being lit up with fire crackers, people on bikes speeding away waving the tricolour and shouts of joy and dancing from all over.

The day of the Cricket World cup final is here and if that is causing you to burn in anticipation, then here's a great way to cool down and hope for the very best to come. .


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