Friday, April 13, 2018

Dhokla

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This fail-proof dhokla recipe is indeed fail-proof! I had bookmarked it a long time back but couldn’t try it because I didn’t have citric acid. The recipe calls out that it is important to have citric acid. I had tried other dhokla recipes without citric acid and they didn’t come out that well. Actually they were also without Eno. So hard to say if one is more replaceable than the other. Nonetheless, I’m glad that this turned out just perfect. DH and I both like dhokla and we both like snacks which is why I’m always on the lookout for healthy snacks. Since dhokla is a healthy snack, I always wanted to get it right so that I don’t have to depend on ready mixes. Not just for their availability at home but also because of high sodium content in ready mixes. I halved the recipe called out and it was great for 2 of us (probably a little extra but it was so yummy that we ate all of it!). You can see how nice and spongy it has come out!

I made the dhokla in a rice cooker. I put around 3/4 cup of water in it. Put in the utensil with the dhokla batter – make sure you elevate this so that water doesn’t get in during steaming. When the rice cooker turned off the dhokla was done. I modified the recipe just a tad.

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Besan (Chickpea flour/ Gram flour)
  • 3/4 tablespoon Sooji (Semolina)
  • A pinch of Hing
  • 1/2 tablespoon Sugar
  • Salt to taste

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon Crushed ginger and green chilies (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon Oil
  • ~1/4 cup water (get pouring consistency)
  • 3/4 teaspoon Eno (fruit Salt)

For tempering

  • 1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • Curry leaves (I skipped these since I didn’t have them)
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • ~1/4 cup Water
  • 4-5 small Green Chilies
  • 1 1/2 tsp Oil

Method:

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients.
  2. Add all the wet ingredients except Eno to the dry ingredients.
  3. Beat the batter (with a whisk) well to incorporate air.
  4. Get your steamer ready. If you’re using rice cooker, add the water to it’s bowl.
  5. Grease your dhokla mold with some oil.
  6. Now add Eno to the batter and mix well.
  7. Pour the batter into the mold and steam. After adding Eno, you shouldn’t keep the batter. If you want to make multiple rounds, add Eno to the batter for one round, steam it and then repeat.
  8. Let the dhokla cool for half an hour and then take out of the mold.
  9. Cut it into pieces – cut like you would cut cake with a back and forth action and not a up and down stroke.
  10. Prepare the tempering:
    1. Heat oil in a small pan.
    2. Add mustard seeds, chillies. and curry leaves.
    3. When mustard seeds splutter, add the water.
    4. Now add sugar.
  11. Now pour the tempering over the dhokla. Dhokla should be all wet.
  12. It’s all yours to devour!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Hot cross buns

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“One a penny, two a penny hot cross buns” ! Have you heard that song? I learnt it in my childhood but DH had never heard of it. So I guess it wasn’t all that popular. Before easter, I saw ads and recipes every where for hot cross buns. This is the song that came to my mind Smile. Given it’s popularity, I figured it is the thing to make on easter. I hadn’t baked anything new in some time and was looking for a new recipe to try. So on it went on my things to try on the weekend. My buns are missing the classic “hot cross” part of the hot cross buns but DH didn’t really care for it so I skipped it Smile with tongue out

I haven’t tasted them before so I can’t say how close they are to the real taste. They are sweet like the tutti fruti bread we used get back in India (although that was simpler in taste – this cinnamon and a few other spices) and closer to the cinnamon raisin bread (but much lighter on cinnamon). DH really liked it! The dough is hard to work with and hence hard to shape; which is why you se all the buns so oddly shaped and of various sizes!

I halved the actual recipe which meant there was a little extra yolk than the recipe actually called for. Hard to say what was the impact of that. I also substituted apple juice with orange juice as that is what I had in stock. You can also look at more detailed instructions for the same on their blog. Do not compare their photos with mine!

Ingredients:

BUNS
  • 1/8 cup apple juice (I used orange juice)
  • 1/4 cup mixed dried fruit (I used cranberries)
  • 1/4 cup raisins or dried currants
  • 5/8 cups milk, room temperature
  • 1 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk (save the white for the topping)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/8 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 5/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
TOPPING
  • 1 large egg white, reserved from above
  • 1 tablespoon milk
ICING (I didn’t do this)
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 teaspoons milk, or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing

Method:

  1. Line a 9” circular pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave briefly, just till the fruit and liquid are very warm, and the plastic starts to "shrink wrap" itself over the top of the bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Note: If you worry about using plastic wrap in your microwave, simply cover the bowl with a glass lid. I used glass lid here.
  3. When the fruit is cool, mix together all of the dough ingredients (including the eggs and the egg yolk from the separated egg); hold out the fruit for the time being. Knead the mixture, using food processor, until the dough is soft and elastic. It'll be very slack, sticking to the bottom of the bowl and your hands as you work with it (greasing your hands helps). Mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed.
  4. Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered. It should become puffy, though may not double in bulk. Since it’s cold out here I kept it in the oven.
  5. Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces, about 3 3/4 ounces each. A heaped muffin scoop (about 1/3 cup) makes about the right portion. You'll make 6 to 8 buns. Use your greased hands to round them into balls. Arrange them in the prepared pan.
  6. Cover the pan, and let the buns rise for 1 hour, or until they've puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk, and brush it over the buns.
  8. Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they're golden brown. Remove from the oven, carefully turn the buns out of the pan (they should come out in one large piece), and transfer them to a rack to cool.
  9. Mix together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, pipe it in a cross shape atop each bun.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Sabudana vada in paniyaram pan: low-fat yummy snack!

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Sabudana vada or khichdi are popular during the navratris. DH and I both love both the dishes! During this navratri once I made the traditional fried sabudana vada – it was so good! Heavenly :)! The next time I thought of trying sabudana vada in paniyaram pan as I’d seen on youtube. I was interested in reducing the amount of oil consumed as well as trying a new dish.

  1. Create the mix for the sabudana vada as you normally and then shaped them into balls. Balls should be a little smaller than the size of the holes in the pan because the vadas are going to puff up.
  2. Heat the pan on medium flame.
  3. Drop 1/4 tsp oil in each hole.
  4. Put one vada in each hole.
  5. Every minute or so keep turning the vadas, so that they cook on all sides. They will puff up and get a crisp brownish exterior.

They are crispy only as long as you eat them fresh. While they may not be crispy later, they are still very tasty! So try them out and I’m sure you’ll like this new low-fat snack!

Creating the mix for the sabudana vada:

You need:

  • Potato – 1
  • Sabudana – ~1/2 cup or less
  • Chili powder – 1/4 tsp or to taste
  • Green chillies (optional)
  • Roasted and skinned peanuts (optional)
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp or to taste
  1. Prepare potatoes: Boil one potato and mash it.
  2. Prepare sabudana: Take around 1/2 cup sabudana and soak it in water. I typically add as much water as required to be around 1” above the surface of sabudana. Soak for around 3-4 hours. Once you see it is puffy, drain the water and put it in a colander to remove all water.
  3. Mix all the ingredients together.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Little Fires Everywhere

Author: Celeste Ng

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Mia and her daughter, Pearl, had been leading a very nomadic life so far. Moving from one place to another in a year or two. Eventually they came upon Shaker Heights in Cleveland and thought that they should settle here. They rented an apartment from the Richardsons. Mia was an artist and so that she could pay for her supplies she did some odd jobs here and there. She earned barely enough to keep both of them fed and sheltered.

Life of the Richardsons was on the other end of the spectrum. They had always lived in Shaker Heights, had well to-do jobs and led a very cookie-cutter life. They had 4 children – Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy. One day Moody meets Pearl, they became friends and this is where th story starts. Life of Mia, Pearl and the Richardsons slowly starts to inter-twine. While Mia and Mrs Richardson lead a very different life and are very different personalities, they have some very similar motherhood patterns. They let their children be. Except that Mia is not as judgemental as Mrs Richardson. When their presence in each other’s life started increasing, that is when it started to get complicated. And that is when Mrs Richardson investigated Mia’s past to find anything that would be damaging.

It’s a very intriguing story and if life did not get in the way, I would’ve liked to spend a full day to read this book cover to cover. It was always hard to keep it down. Highly recommend reading it!

Friday, March 9, 2018

This is how it always is

Author: Laurie Frankel

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Loved reading this book! Would have liked to spend a day just reading this book! I actually took it on our vacation which is where an accident happened to the book and I had to pay a fine to the library. I was not very happy with myself for the accident not so much because of the fine – I read a lot of books from the library so I’m gotten much more benefit from it – but that this why I always worried about taking library books with me on vacation. Regarding what happened – I put the book and the water bottle in the same bag. Somehow the bottle’s cap was loose and it leaked water. Worst part was that the bag’s bottom was water proof so the water accumulated rather than leaking out of the bag! Anyways, you learn from your mistakes.

Coming back to the book. It’s about a family – a father and a mother with a six kids. Everybody around them was surprised that they were having another one when they had their sixth kid. Sometimes they were surprised too. They liked to think that they were having yet another in the hope of having a girl. All their other kids were boys. So was the sixth one, Claude. However once he was no longer a baby, he was not so sure that he’s a boy. He liked to dress up like girls, play with dolls and so on. His parents believed in letting their children be what they are. They were opposed to him doing either. Initially he would wear dresses at home but change to boy clothes for school. One year he took a purse like lunch-box to school which perturbed his teacher a lot. Gradually it dawned on the parents that maybe their kid is a transgender. What follows is the story of a family who go through much trials and tribulations to work with that reality. Of course, it is the hardest for Claude.

What made me love this story is the way the author handled all the situations. Sometimes so real and sometimes just ideal – you wish every one would handle things this way. Rosie the mother is a doctor and very pragmatic. Even though she wants Claude to be his/her own self, somewhere down deep she just wishes that go back to what he is physically. Penn, the father, is a author/story-teller and just like he makes his stories take any turns, he is ready to do whatever necessary for Claude to be what he/she wants to be. Some conversations between husband and wife are so philosophical and fodder for the brain! In the initial stages when they’re discussing which way should they go, they both agree that letting Claude be her would be the right way if that is what he wants. Rosie says that that’s not going to be easy to which Penn replies that we never thought parenting would be easy. That easy is not what we’re looking for. Easy and the right way never go hand in hand. It’s not just the character of the parents, it’s the kids too. They’re always asking the right questions about their brother/sister. How they handle the situations. It teaches you that when life will have it’s twists and turns, they will be unexpected and hard to maneuver. Expect them to be hard. Once you know it will be hard, you will do the right thing. 

Highly recommend reading this book!

Friday, March 2, 2018

White Girl Problems

Author: Babe Walker

It has been a long time since I read a book full of humor. So one day I started searching on Amazon for highly rated books in the humor section. I believe I came across “White Girl Problems” then.

To be honest, I’ve never found a book as painful to read as this. It was as if I was reading chapter after chapter of nothing. Maybe the humor was not what I’m used to because I hardly laughed on anything in this book. I think the last chapter was probably the best. I could see how the situations could be so hilarious but the way they were expressed they didn’t seem funny to me. There were times when I felt sorry for the protagonist. Clearly that was not what I was expecting from this book.

I think FWP (First World Problems) or in this case White Girl Problems, would either irate you because there are bigger problems in the world to worry about or bore you because there are bigger problems in the world that interest you more. However if expressed rightly they do appear funny a lot of times! For example the meme below (courtesy: me.me) is funny to me:

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Well if you have reached till here to still see what I say about this book then my recommendation is do not waste your time on it Sad smile. The only good thing was that it didn’t take me too long to read this book.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Beartown

Author: Frederik Backman

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I had read Frederick Backman’s “A man called ove” and really loved it! He is so clear in his mind on the character sketches and equally clear in his expression. You can imagine each and every character in his book as to how they would look, where would  they live and so on. That, I feel engrosses you completely into the story, you feel a part of it. He does not disappoint in this book either. The first book had some humor in it and I got this book thinking it would be too. Even though it didn’t have humor, it didn’t matter. The story was very entertaining and engrossing.

As the cover and title suggest, the book is about a town called Beartown. It has a run down economy, businesses and schools are shutting down. The only hope it has is (ice) hockey. They’ve had great players in the past and there are more in the making. Its not all about hockey though. It is about the lives of the people whose life revolves around hockey, directly or indirectly. Mostly a few school going kids who come from different backgrounds and how their background has shaped them. Maya, who loves to play guitar and would like to be as  far away from hockey as possible but her father is the manager of the hockey team and was himself a great player. Amat, from a single parent household who dreams of hockey day and night. Kevin the best player on the hockey team and from one of the richest houses in Beartown. There are twists and turns that keep you on the edge. All in all I would highly recommend this book.