April 29, 2012

Rava Ladoo

  Rava ladoo or sooji (semolina) ka ladoo is one of the easiest and quickest sweets to make for any occasion.You can find this ladoo in many sweet shops in South India, but you can seldom make out rava in it.... so fine is its texture, I sometimes feel they actually grind the rava before using it. My husband refers to the store bought version of this ladoo as 'Concrete'.....so hard it is! As a kid, I have had the not so good fortune of having tasted this ladoo made in numerous friends home on Diwali day...and they were very hard to bite into, so much so, we tried to avoid eating these ladoos outside. Well, the ones my mother made would melt in the mouth. Don't really know where she got the recipe from, but here it is....

Rava Ladoos


Rava (Semolina) - 1 cup (dry roasted)
Sugar - 1 cup
Coconut - 1 cup (grated)
Cardamom - 2 pods (finely ground)
Milk - few tablespoons (tbsps)
Cashew nuts - 1 tbsp (broken in small pieces)
Raisins - 1 tbsp
Ghee - 1 and 1/2 tbsp


1) Preheat a kadai (wok) or saucepan and then dry roast the rava till the raw smell disappears. Do this on low heat so as not to burn the rava. Once done, remove and cool the rava on a plate. Use upma rava for this as it is easier to make ladoos with it.
2) Place the cooled rava in a large vessel and add the sugar, grated fresh coconut and ground cardamom. Mix all the ingredients nicely. I prefer fresh coconut as it is tastier than the dried version. Either grate a fresh coconut or buy the already grated fresh coconut from the freezer section in the Indian store. You can also halve the amount of coconut, if you don't like your ladoos to contain too much of it. I usually use just 1/2 cup these days as my hubby is not a great fan of coconut.Do remember not to pack the coconut in the cup while measuring, else you may end up with coconut ladoos instead ;)
3)Now heat a small pan and place the ghee together with the broken cashews and raisins.Fry them on low heat stirring continuously till the raisins puff up and the cashews turn a golden brown. Be careful so as not to burn them. Add these to the rava, coconut mixture and mix well. 
4)Next sprinkle few tablespoons of cooled, boiled milk to the mixture,so as to bind it and make ladoos.Immediately mix well,so that the entire rava is coated with milk.I prefer to microwave the milk first, cool it and then use it to avoid the raw smell of milk. But there have also been days when I have used cold milk directly from the fridge, without bothering to boil it. Didn't make much of a difference in taste though or even smell for that matter. A friend once made these ladoos with evaporated milk and they came out quite tasty. She however did not fry the raisins in ghee, but added them as is.Do try it and let me know :)
5) You should now have a wet, sand like consistency of a mixture.Take a handful of the mixture and form small or medium sized ladoos. If you are unable to shape them into ladoos, sprinkle more cold milk and mix again until you get a consistency that can be shaped into a round ladoo. Make ladoos and store them in an airtight container in the fridge, especially in hot summers. They will go bad if left out as they contain fresh coconut. In winters you can keep them outside for a day or two, then refrigerate.These ladoos should stay good upto a week if you can resist eating them, that is!

Note: This recipe will make about 30 small sized ladoos.

April 25, 2012

Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Chocolate walnut cake in my coffee mug
    Who doesn't love chocolate cake...hmm, the very mention of this cake in a mug makes me want to go and bake one in the microwave right now. Yup, its a microwave cake and takes exactly 2 and 1/2 minutes on high power. That's it! I found this recipe online after trying out one using a whole egg. It came out ok, but the one I'm about to write down is awesome. It's also the first cake I ever baked and I was absolutely thrilled with the results. So here goes.....

 First and foremost you need a microwave and a large coffee mug!
All purpose flour - 4 tablespoons (tbsps), measured flat and not heaped
Sugar - 4 tbsps,  measured flat and not heaped
Unsweetened cocoa powder- 1 tbsps (add 1 more tbsp, if you love a lot of chocolate)
Milk - 3 tbsps
Oil - 3 tbsps
Whisked egg - 2 tbsps (Mix the white and yellow yolk with a whisk and measure out)
Baking powder - 1/8 teaspoon (tsps)
Vanilla essence - 1 (tsps)
Walnuts - a few small bits

1) This recipe is so simple, you can directly mix all the ingredients in the coffee mug itself. But I prefer to use a small bowl to do the mixing. First measure out the flour and place in the bowl. Then add the sugar, baking powder and unsweetened cocoa powder.Mix these all together. You can use unbleached, bleached flour, enriched flour or even maida..... but remember, without the baking powder, the cake will not rise. I have never tried making this with self rising flour..maybe then the baking powder may not be necessary.
2) Now add the 2 tbsps of whisked egg, milk, oil, vanilla essence and walnut pieces and mix well. You can use cold milk. Using a whole egg the first time I made this, made the cake very dense. But the 2 tbsps of egg made it just right. Actually you don't have to trouble yourself to whisk the egg at all. Just mix the white and yellow parts well enough. A fork will do.

All ingredients in the mug!
3) Pour the mixture into the coffee mug and microwave for 2 and 1/2 minutes on high power. Be sure not not keep it any longer, else the cake will turn out very dry. You can spray cooking spray or butter the mug, in case you wish to remove the cake from it. But trust me you will be far too busy eating it once its done :)

Eating warm cake on movie night is absolute yum :)

Note: Double the quantity of ingredients if you want to make 2 mug cakes. Adding 2 tbsps of cocoa powder for 1 mug cake makes it very very rich...last time I tried, it was heavenly...but I couldn't finish it in one go. If you are chocoholic, add chocolate chips! Bake this if you wish to eat warm chocolate cake as a dessert in one sitting or in a few hours. It doesn't taste all that great if kept till the next day (atleast mine didn't). For that I'd bake a cake the traditional way in an oven.

April 23, 2012

Daliya Upma (Broken Wheat Upma)

 Daliya is the Indian name for broken wheat or bulgur. This type of wheat is usually sold parboiled and dried and can be a good substitute for couscous or rice. Daliya is sometimes confused with cracked wheat, which is not parboiled. It has lots of health benefits due to its fiber content. I vividly remember my mother trying to stuff us little kids with daliya porridge almost every day before we left for school. Don't think I really enjoyed my porridge back then, but now I love it with cold milk and sugar. Like rice, you can make lots of dishes with daliya, bulgur, broken wheat or whatever you call it :) Agreed, it does take longer to cook and does not have much of a taste of its own.... but add the right amount of salt, spices or sugar and you can make it mouth watering. Here is the recipe for daliya upma, which has become something of a staple every week at my home.

Daliya upma with coriander, coconut chutney

Daliya (Bulgur wheat) - 2 1/2 tea cups                                 
Moong dal (Yellow split dal) - 1/2 tea cup
Carrot- 1
Peas- a handful or less
Capsicum -1/2
Beans - 5 to 6
Cauliflower - 6 small florets
Green chillies - 2 slit vertically
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Salt - according to taste
Water - 7 tea cups ( Daliya : Water should be 1: 3 ratio)
Hing(asafoetida) - a pinch
Curry leaves - 3 leaves
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp (for seasoning)
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp (for seasoning)
Jeera - 1 to 2 tsps
Ghee/oil - for seasoning

1) Clean the daliya first to remove any impurities. You can buy daliya at the Indian store. You can choose between the coarse and fine varieties. My family prefers the coarser and more chewy variety for upma as it is tastier. The finer variety is more like semolina or upma rava, only it is light brown in color. To this you can add the measured out moong dal and wash them both together, draining any excess water. Place this in a cooker or heavy bottomed saucepan, with a lid. I use a pressure pan as it is faster.
2) Clean and chop all the vegetables into small cubes. You can use any of the vegetables you use to make rava upma. My default veggies are carrots, beans, peas and occasionally cauliflower. Tomatoes and capsicum add a very yummy flavor too.
3) Now add 7-8 cups of water along with salt and veggies to the daliya in the cooker/saucepan. Add a pinch of turmeric and jeera with the green chillies. You can add the jeera while cooking the daliya or while seasoning it. Add salt to taste. 
4) Close the cooker and cook on high for 7 mins. After about 2 whistles, simmer it and cook for another 5-10 mins. You will know the daliya is cooked when it starts to give out an aroma of cooked daliya. Allow the cooker to cool.If you feel the upma is not cooked well enough, add little more water and cook for another 5 mins. Coarse daliya takes little longer to cook than the finer variety. I have purposely reduced the water to about 8 cups because many times, excess water spewed out of the cooker making a mess. Remember that the above mentioned measurement includes the water to cook the veggies too. Follow the 1 : 3 ratio to get a liquidy consistency, else on cooling your upma will be very hard.
5) In a small saucepan or kadai, heat ghee/oil.Add mustard seeds, urad dal, pinch of hing (asafoetida powder) and jeera.When the mustard starts to splutter, add curry leaves and remove from the gas. Now add this seasoning to the upma in the cooker and stir once to allow it to blend in. 
6) Serve with coconut chutney.

Serving size: This recipe will make about 4 single servings.

April 10, 2012

Plain Paratha

    As the name denotes, this is just a Paratha with no stuffing inside. These usually come out layered as they are folded repeatedly before being rolled out. Sure it does have a wee bit more oil/ ghee content and is a little heavier on the stomach, but nothing can beat the taste of hot parathas with a tasty curry like mutter paneer. Mom used to make them very often when we were young and I remember paratha with egg burji was my favorite breakfast.You can have plain parathas any time of the day. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. They make a tasty snack too. Just smear your favorite jam and roll them....voila you have jam rolls. Like plain cooked rice, these can be the base for any dish you choose to make with wheat. Wraps, rolls, kotthu paratha...you name it, you can work wonders with this bread just like you can with Phulkas and Chappathis!

Plain Paratha

 Atta (wheat flour) - 4 cups + 1 cup to dust while rolling out
 Salt - a pinch or according to taste
 Oil - 4 to 5 tbsps (to smear while cooking)
 Butter - 1/2 tbsps unsalted
 Water - 1 cup to knead the dough


1) In a large vessel place the 4 cups of atta and pinch of salt to taste.
2) To this add the unsalted butter and mix well. You can add cold or butter at room temperature. Melted butter should also be fine. Omit salt if using salted butter.

Butter added to the atta
3) Now add the water slowly and knead into a smooth dough. The more water you add and knead, softer will be the parathas. Cover and refrigerate the dough or let it rest for atleast 1/2 hour at room temperature.

Smearing oil to make shapes

4) Make medium sized balls of the kneaded atta, dust them with flour and shape them into rectangles or triangles if you want to. To make a rectangular shape, compress a medium sized dough ball with your hand into a circle. Place some flour or oil inside and take one edge and fold inwards.Now, fold the other edge over the first edge. Repeat the process again and roll out like a rectangle, occasionally dusting with flour. No need to add flour/ oil while folding again. I have shown pictures of the dough folded for a triangular, rectangular and circular paratha.

Rectangular paratha folded once
Double fold to create layers

Paratha rolled out in rectangular shape

Paratha rolled out in triangular shape

5) Heat a tava or non-stick girdle and place the paratha on it. After it changes color on one side, turn it over, smear it with oil and allow it to cook for few seconds. Then turn it over to the oil-less side, apply oil and allow it to cook until done. Store it in a hot-case to keep warm. Serve it with any spicy curry of your choice and enjoy!


Note: This recipe should make about 12 medium sized parathas.

April 3, 2012

Methi Paratha

     Paratha's or Indian flatbread are made with atta (wheat flour) and are a staple in Northern India. These are not to be confused with the Parotta's which are a layered flatbread more popular in Southern India and made with maida (all purpose flour). Paratha's can be made either plain or with some stuffing inside and rolled out flat. My mom's paratha's came in different shapes and sizes...sometimes they were round, rectangular or triangular. The shapes were usually to excite and coax us kids to eat. One of my favorite is the methi paratha or fenugreek leaves paratha. These are made out of fresh methi leaves which are said to have a cooling effect on the body. Sure, it may seem a pain to clean and cut the methi leaves, but the end result is definately worth the effort :) Frozen methi leaves can also be used, after the leaves are thawed, washed once and water completely drained from the leaves.

Methi paratha with curd and pickle


 Methi leaves (preferably fresh) - 1 Bunch
 Atta flour - 4 tea cups
 Ajwain seeds(Carom seeds) - 1 tbsp
 Besan (gramflour) - 2 tbsp
 Chilli powder - 1/2  or 1 tsp
 Salt - according to taste
 Butter - 1 tbsp (If using salted butter, don't add salt)
 Water - 1 cup, to knead the dough
 Oil - to smear on the parathas while cooking
 Atta - 1 cup ( to dust the parathas while rolling out)

 1) Clean and wash the methi leaves, taking care to remove all the stems. Dry them thoroughly and chop them finely. Set aside.
2) Take atta (wheat flour) in a large vessel. I usually take about 4 heaped handful of atta. Next, add the ajwain seeds, besan flour, chilli powder and salt to the atta. You can vary the quantity of ajwain, but the more you add, the bitter it can get. Remember that methi leaves are bitter as it is. Also, don't overdo the besan flour as it is only for taste. Too much besan will cause a complete change in taste and you may end up with Theplas instead :) Besan also gives a yellowish tinge to the parathas. Mix these ingredients nicely.
3) Add the butter and mix well. I add cold butter, but butter at room temperature is also fine. Butter is added to make the parathas nice and soft. And it remains soft for several hours, even a day or two.

Ajwain(Carom seeds) and butter added to the atta
4) Next add the chopped methi leaves and mix till the leaves get well coated with the flour.
5) Now add water and knead the dough into a large ball. Let it rest for 1/2 to 1 hour. I usually refrigerate the dough a couple of hours. Its easier to work with it afterwards that way. You can make the dough a day ahead and refrigerate it too. Make sure it does not freeze though.

Kneaded dough with methi leaves
6) Heat the tava or a skillet. Make medium sized balls and roll them out, occasionally dusting them with atta. Place the parathas on the tava and allow one side to cook. When it changes color, flip it over, smear with oil and repeat the process until both sides are evenly cooked.Store in a stainless steel casserole or hot-case with a lid.My mother used to place a fresh kitchen towel inside the hot-case and then place the parathas in them, in order to retain the heat and absorb the moisture created by the heat.I make do without the towel as I am not too keen on having to wash it later on.Moreover I feel the towel causes more moisture build up.
7) Serve with curd and pickle. You can also have this with spicy or plain dal, depending on how much chilli powder you choose to add in your parathas.

Note: The recipe above will make 10 - 12 medium thickness parathas.