Chana masala

BM# 101: Week 3, Day 3
Theme : 
Creamy gravies

Last month, my old neighbors had come over home. With the kids at school, there was enough time to relax and catch up with each other. We had a mini pot luck and had a great lunch. I had made three gravies that day, two of which I am posting for this theme. I hadn’t picked this theme when I was preparing the meal, it was just good luck that I took pictures of the thali. My friends had brought in vegetable biriyani and bisibela bath. It was served along with the Chana masala, Chettinad mushroom curry and a mixed vegetable curry. Do check out the carrot halwa recipe too, it is a simple and easy way to make this great dessert.

Coming to the Chana masala recipe, this is again from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. After trying the mushroom curry recipe from the book, I made this first when we had some friends coming over. I didn’t have enough time to soak Chana, so I cooked it for one hour in Instant Pot before making this gravy. If you have time, you can soak the Chana overnight and cook it before making this curry. I already have a recipe for Chana masala in the blog, but this recipe has enough differences to make a separate post.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: Vegan Richa’s Indian kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 6 medium tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 2″ long piece of ginger
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon oil or ghee
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • A good pinch of hing
  • 2 teaspoons Chana masala or Garam masala
  • Salt as needed
  • About 2 cups of water*
  • Coriander leaves and lemon juice for garnishing and serving

*You can use the water Chana was cooked in.

Method:

  1. Drain and Pressure cook the soaked Chana with enough water until it’s done. Let the pressure release naturally. Set aside.
  2. In a blender, combine tomatoes, ginger, garlic, chilies and 1/2 cup cooked (and cooled) chickpeas. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil or ghee in a pan. Add the chopped onions and cook till it turns pink. Add all the masala powders – cumin, turmeric, chili, garam (or Chana) masala, hing and salt. Mix well.
  4. Add the puréed tomato paste. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring in between to prevent tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add a little water in case that happens. Reduce the heat and cook for another 10 minutes until the mixture is dry and starts to leave the side of the pan.
  5. Add cooked chickpeas and about 2 to 2.5 cups of water. You can use the water in which Chana was cooked. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, taste testing in between to adjust the seasoning. Take off the heat and serve garnished with coriander leaves, minced onion and lemon juice. This pairs very well with rotis and plain basmati rice.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the recipe from other Blogging Marathoners.

Advertisements

Cupcake recipe

BM# 100: Week 4, Day 3
Theme : Pick an alphabet 

Like I mentioned earlier, I have a go to recipe for chocolate cakes. And I have another one for Vanilla cakes. I always use the Hot Milk Cake recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book be it cakes or cupcakes.Its a  very tasty and sturdy cake and it freezes very well too.

I chanced upon a Craftsy (now BluPrint) DVD at the library couple of years back. Craftsy/BluPrint has a lot of online classes for various topics. I found excellent classes for Baking and cake decorating there, so I took the membership. I found their decorating videos to be more useful, its really helped me a lot.

The recipe for cupcakes here is from The Perfect Cupcake by Jennifer Shea . I never knew that there is so much more you can do with the cupcakes, there is a section on adding crusts to your cupcakes which I found very interesting. She suggests serving cupcakes on the day of baking for maximum freshness. Since cupcakes don’t take too much time to bake, I found it to be excellent advice. The recipe can be baked as a cake as well, you will need to adjust the baking time according to the size of the pan used.

This is the last recipe under the alphabet C. Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cups half and half **
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (227 gms/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350F/180C. Line two 12 cup muffin pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix the mik, half and half, vanilla. Set aside.
  4. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until it becomes light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time and mix well, scraping the bowl after each addition.
  5. Add the dry ingredients mix in three parts, alternating it with wet ingredients in two parts, keeping the mixer at a low speed. Once everything is added, using a rubber spatula, mix everything well and let it sit aside for 15 minutes. Stir gently before using.
  6. Fill upto 2/3rd of the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes until the tops are firm and a skewer inserted to the center of the cupcakes comes free of crumbs. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
  7. Frost once the cupcakes are completely cool.

Notes:

*Substitute all purpose flour for cake flour.

**I use a mix of heavy cream and whole milk or whole milk alone for half and half.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#100

Chocolate cake

BM# 100: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Pick an alphabet

For the third week of blogging for BM #100, I have chosen the alphabet ‘C’ and so you will find three posts, all starting with C. The first one is a chocolate cake. Though I make a lot of cakes, I don’t share the recipes often here in the blog. The reason is that I don’t deviate from my tried and tested recipes for cakes. When it comes to chocolate cakes, I always go with the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake. Its the same recipe that you find in the back of their Cocoa powder box. Almost all other chocolate cake recipes that you find online are variations of this one. I like it a lot and stopped looking for another recipe longtime back. So anytime I make a chocolate cake, its only the outside design that’s different. The recipe is always the same and its already recorded in the blog. That’s the reason why I don’t feature the new cakes here in the blog.

Though the Hershey’s cake gives excellent results, I find it to be very soft. It’s not a problem for a cake with simple decoration, like just frosting with whipped cream or buttercream. But I wanted to make a fondant cake that’s supposed to carry a topper. In fact I had two such cakes to make, one with farm animals theme and another with Safari theme. I went with the Hershey’s cake for Safari theme but decided to try a different recipe for the farm theme cake. I didn’t have any problems with the Hershey’s cake, it held the topper just fine. But I still decided to try another recipe to see if I can find a sturdier cake.

The recipe here is from the book Erin Bakes Cake. Its one of the best baking books I have come across. The book gives a lot of ideas for flavor variations, about tweaking a base recipe to get different flavors. I have the library copy with me, but I think I will be buying my own copy soon. This cake was sturdier than the Hershey’s cake, but it wasn’t dense. You can make three 8″ cakes if you are using 2″ deep pans. The recipe for the buttercream can be found here.

For the animal toppers, I have used a mix of gum paste and fondant. The farm animals are sitting on a 1″ tall cake base. The base itself can be taken out before cutting into the cake. So its a good way to save the toppers. It has a long shelf life and so you can display it in a covered glass cabinet. I looked at YouTube Videos for making the animals and made them a week ahead so that they can dry completely.

Recipe Source: Erin Bakes Cake 

Makes three 8″ cakes in 8″X2″ pans

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks/227 gms), softened
  • 2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 cups flour

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and line three 8″ pans.
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the butter for a minute or two. Add both the sugars, baking soda and salt. Beat this mixture until its fluffy and creamy. Stop and scrape the sides down in between so that everything mixes uniformly.
  3. Add the eggs (one at a time) beat it in until its mixed well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the cocoa powder with warm water so that there aren’t any dry lumps. Add the milk and whisk to combine everything.
  5. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour to the butter-egg mixture. Mix it lightly with a rubber spatula. Now beat it in low speed so that flour doesn’t fly everywhere.
  6. Once you stop seeing flour streaks, add half of the milk mixture. Beat it in. Alternate between the flour mix and the milk mix once more.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between three pans. Bake in the middle rack for about 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes free of crumbs. Take out of the oven, let the cake cool in the pan itself for at least 10-15 minutes. Remove from the pan, cover with two rounds of cling wrap and return to the pan until its time for filling and frosting.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#100

Melopita – Greek honey pie

BM# 97: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Flavors of Greece

Now a days, I prefer books over internet for recipe searches for the simple reason that the book won’t turn itself off when I am half way through making a dish. I leave the book open and keep coming back to it whenever needed as opposed to asking my son or husband to unlock my phone if my hands are wet or dirty. For this theme, I had taken two books from the library. It’s easier to cook from a book when it comes to new cuisines. And the irony is that I had to depend on the internet for the recipe here.

The Reason? I didn’t do my grocery shopping this week and as a result the last onion and tomato went into making a very Indian lunch. So with the vegetable tray empty, I started looking at recipes that would cater to my pantry contents. Inevitably I was looking at recipes online and ended up choosing Melopita or Honey pie.

This recipe is from the Greek island of Sifnos. The recipe uses a local cheese Mizithra, but ricotta is a close substitute. The recipe can be made with or without a pie base. I had a ready made pie base that I wanted to use up, but you can bake the filling directly in a greased cake pan as well. I may not have onions and tomatoes at home, but I have honey, I have eggs and even ricotta cheese! It takes like a light cheese cake. I served it with some honey on top.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: The spruce eats

Makes: One 10″ pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb(450gms) Ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 readymade pie crust or homemade crust, optional
  • Honey for glaze

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese, honey, sugar, eggs and flour.
  3. Grease a 10″ pie dish with butter and line with the pie crust. Press the dough into sides and bottom of the pan so that there is no gap in between the pan and crust.
  4. Add the filling to the crust and bake until the filling sets and doesn’t jiggle in the middle. It might take somewhere around 40-50 minutes.
  5. Once the pie is cooked, take off the oven and let it cool. Serve with honey or cinnamon sugar drizzled on top.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#97