Sunday, May 7, 2017

Orange Carrot Cake


175 g light muscovado sugar
150 ml sunflower oil
3 large eggs, beaten
160 g (fine to medium) grated carrot
Grated zest of 1 large orange
175 g whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

For the Orange Glaze:
Juice of 1 large orange
2 tablespoons of caster sugar

For the Frosting:
200 g cream cheese (low fat is better)
Icing sugar to taste
1/2 teaspoon of orange essence

1. Pre Heat oven to 160 C (Fan).
2. Take all wet ingredients in a large bowl - sugar, oil and beaten eggs and thoroughly combine with a spoon, beating lightly
3. Stir in carrots, orange zest, and nuts
4. Mix flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cinnamon together, then sift into the bowl and lightly mix.
5. Pour mixture into prepared tin and Bake for 45 mins, and a wooden skewer comes clean. Leave to cool in tin, but remove before decorating.
6. Squeeze the juice of the orange into a pan (sieve to remove all that isn't juice), and add sugar, and heat slowly until sugar has dissolved. As soon as cake is out of oven, brush the glaze all over the top of the cake and allow to soak in. Leave cake to cool completely, then remove from tin.
7. Mix together the cream cheese, icing sugar, and orange blossom essence. Add more icing sugar if you prefer it sweeter.

Spread the frosting all over the top of the cake. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Methi Chicken

I am essentially a very instinctive cook and rarely follow recipes. When I see a recipe, I usually give a quick glance at the ingredients and pick the ones I will/won’t use. Then I look over the method and think up my own short-cut way of actually doing it. My recipes here are a reflection of that. Most of the recipes here are adaptations of what my Ammamma (grandmother) and Amma cooked, while others are from my Mother-in-Law and the rest are what I picked up from friends, internet and just experiments over the years. Since I really lack the patience to follow my Ammamma's meticulousness and because I believe that there is no sense in spending more time than required in the kitchen, I have used some short cuts for most recipes. 

I am not a big fan of chicken per se, since I find it tasteless and hate it when it is overcooked/fibrous/rubbery. Over the years, I have learnt that one way to ensure that it doesn’t get fibrous or rubbery is to marinate it. You can marinate it for any length of time from 15 minutes to overnight, depending on the time you have. 

If you want to cook immediately, the best marinade for ½ kg of Chicken is
1 tbsp. of Vinegar + salt + ¼ tsp of turmeric.
Leave the Chicken in this marinade for 15-20 minutes and you are good to go
If you have about an hour, then
Juice of 1 Lemon + 1 tsp of ginger-garlic paste + salt + ¼ tsp of turmeric.
If you have longer, then
               ½ cup yogurt/curd + Salt + ¼ tsp turmeric + 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste + ½ tsp Chili powder

Usually, Chicken is best cooked in a pan/wok with a lid. But it needs constant monitoring and takes some time. So, I prefer to put in the pressure cooker. Now this would usually be a big NO NO as it has all the possibility to get overcooked in the pressure cooker. BUT, what you need to do, is use the pressure cooker and turn off the stove, when you see the weight begin to dance and you hear beginning of a whistle. In case you feel the chicken is still under cooked when you open the lid of the pressure cooker, you can close the lid and cook for a few more minutes, but without the weight this time and turn off the stove as soon as you steam coming out through the weight vent.

The Methi Chicken recipe below, is my version of what my grandmother made, to ensure that we ate leafy vegetables. Methi especially, was usually rejected with much ferocity, but with chicken and mutton, it found ready acceptance!! Hers used to be a tad spicier. But I feel that when using vegetables like Methi, it’s important to allow its flavor to come through rather than letting an overload of spices hide that taste and flavor. And so, I tend to go easy on the spices.


Chicken (with/without bone) (marinated)
½ kg
2-3 tbsps.
Bay leaf
1” stick
Cardamom (green/black)
2-3 (green) OR 1 (Black)
Onions (finely chopped)
Green Chilies (slit vertically)
4 (less or more as per your taste)
Ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp
¼ tsp
Chili powder
1 tsp (less or more as per your taste)
Coriander powder
2 tsp
Cumin powder
½ tsp
Fenugreek/Methi Leaves (finely chopped)
1 – 1 ½ cups
Garam Masala Powder
½ tsp
Lemon Juice
1 tsp
½ tsp
Cumin seeds
½ tsp
Whole red Chilies (broken)
1-2 (depending on the size)
Curry leaves
Fresh Coriander leaves (finely chopped)

1.      Marinate the Chicken as explained above, depending on how much time you have
2.      Heat oil in wok/pan and add the whole spices – bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom.
3.      Add onions and sauté until transparent.
a.      I prefer to soften onions in the microwave for 2-3 min. Put the chopped onions in a microwave safe bowl, add ½ tsp of oil and a pinch of salt. Cover with a lid. Microwave on high for 2-3 min and the onions are ready to go into the pan.
b.      So you put the pan on the stove to heat and do the onions in the microwave. The onions will be ready to go into the pan by the time you are done with the whole spices.
c.      Sauté for a minute and continue as below
d.      You can also, grind the onions in a mixer along with green chilies, ginger-garlic and the spice powders and then add to the pan. This way you skip steps 4 & 5 and go directly to 6.
4.      Add green chilies and ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute.
5.      Add the powders and stir properly to mix them well
6.      Sprinkle a little water to prevent the spices from sticking to the base of the pan. Fry until oil is released.
7.      Pick chicken pieces from the marinade and add to the pan. Fry on high heat for a couple of minutes till they begin to brown.
a.      It is good if you can brown the pieces, but if you are like me and don’t have the time or patience for it, it’s not a big deal as it doesn’t really affect the final taste, I feel!
8.      Now add the marinade, and mix well.
a.      If you are using the pressure cooker, then add the Methi leaves now and close the lid.
b.      After you open the pressure cooker lid, go to 10.
9.      If you are planning to cook in the pan, then cover the pan and let the chicken cook for 5-10 minutes, until it is half-done. Then add the Methi leaves and cover and cook in simmer until the chicken is completely cooked.
10.   Add the garam masala powder and mix. Cover and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
11.   Turn off the stove and add lemon juice. Mix well
12.   In another small pan (for tempering)
a.      Heat 1 tbsp of oil and add mustard seeds.
b.      Once the mustard seeds are done popping, add the cumin seeds
c.      Add the whole red chilies
d.      Finally add the curry leaves
13.   Pour the tempering over the chicken
14.   Garnish with coriander and you are good to go.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Andhra Tomato Chutney

I have been missing from here for over a year now, but I guess its high time to restart. And what better way than to start with a hot favorite. This is a family recipe passed down from my grandmother. Recently, I reconnected with someone from my childhood years and was surprised and amused when she told me that she still often remembers the Tomato Chutney that my grandmother and mother used to make. This is also one of the few things that I make, which has met the approval of my mother-in-law :D.


Tomatoes (red, firm)
3-4 (halved and then quatered)
Green Chilies
9-12 (depending upon how spicy the chilies are Or how spicy you want the chutney to be)
Cumin Seeds
1 tsp (dry roasted)
5-6 pods
½” piece (if the tomatoes are sour, skip this)
Fresh Coriander
a handful
to taste
2-3 tablespoons

  1. 1.     Heat the oil in a pan/kadhai.
    2.      Add whole green chilies and cover. You will hear them bursting. Wait for about a minute.
    3.      Add tomatoes and cover. Cook on high heat for about 2-3 minutes. The peel of the tomatoes should begin to curl and peel away.
    4.      Now remove the lid and cook for another 2-3 minutes on high heat. Keep an eye on it and stir ONLY when absolutely essential. If you stir too much, the tomatoes will get squished and release too much water. You don’t want that.
    5.      Turn off the heat.
    6.      Add tamarind, cumin seeds, garlic and coriander and wait for it to cool.
    7.      Grind coarsely and you are done
  • If you want you can add some fresh mint leaves at (4). 
  • This works very well on toast as well as sandwiches.
  • My family loves it with Adai and Uttapams too.
  • You can mix with some Curd and Mayo and use as a dip too.