October 20, 2012

Eggless Chocolate Cake

    I have been wanting to try eggless baking for a while now and after some searching on the web, came across this easy recipe for chocolate cake. I tried baking this recently and was so surprised with the result, I just had to blog about it! Most recipes for baking always call for the use of eggs to add texture, increase the volume and enhance the taste of the baked goods. Eggless baking on the other hand uses egg substitutes to get the same end quality. These substitutes may be products like distilled vinegar, condensed milk, pureed fruits like applesauce, pureed tofu, curds etc. I had a tin of condensed milk on hand, to use if I needed, but decided against it as I wanted to eat something chocolaty without making too much of an effort. This recipe uses vinegar in lieu of eggs. Do try this and tell me how much you liked it :)

Luscious cake to bite into :)

All purpose flour or maida - 1 and 1/2 cups
Cocoa powder - 3 tbsps
Sugar - 1 cup
Oil (any vegetable oil) - 1/4 cup (I used canola oil)
Water (at room temperature) - 1 cup
Baking soda - 1 tsps
Distilled white vinegar - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp (I used just a pinch)
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Walnuts - a handful (roasted in the microwave for 20 secs, to make them crisp)
Chocolate chips - a handful

 ( I added the walnuts and chocolate chips to enhance the taste and indulgence. You can leave them out, if you so desire to )


1) Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and dust a 9 inch round pan. 
2) Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, till all lumps are removed. Set it aside in a  bowl.

Adding the flour, cocoa powder, soda and salt

Sifted dry ingredients
3) In another large mixing bowl add water, then add the sugar and stir together till the sugar is all dissolved. Now add the oil, vanilla essence and distilled vinegar. Stir just once to blend the liquids. Take care to pour just the measured quantity of vinegar. Excess vinegar will make the cake taste tart.

Water, sugar and oil mixed together
Vanilla and vinegar added to the sugar mixture

4) Add the dry ingredients to the liquid in two parts, mixing well with a spatula. Take care to see that there are no lumps of dry ingredients. Don't over mix as once the vinegar comes in contact with the baking soda, it will begin to react. The batter will be a little watery and thin. Don't worry, you are assured of getting a fluffy cake :)
5) Now add the walnuts and chocolate chips, mixing once or twice with the spatula to blend them well. Pour the batter into the prepared container and bake for 30-35 mins or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. 

Batter with the walnuts and choco chips in the pan :)
6) Take the cake out from the oven and cool it in the pan itself or remove it from the pan onto a cooling rack. Once cooled, cut into pieces and store in an air tight container. Refrigerate the cake if it is summer, else it should stay out for about 3 days, if you don't have a go at it ! 

Hmmm..Eggless chocolate cake ready !!

Note: This is a very moist, soft and fluffy cake....so much so, its hard to believe it is eggless.  I was a little surprised to see the walnuts on the cake surface when I was expecting them to actually sink :) The choco chips being denser were mostly at the bottom of the cake though. You can convert this recipe into a eggless Black forest cake too. Sure, the amount of cocoa powder may seem less. Just double the quantity of the ingredients and bake two cakes and proceed to follow the instructions I have written down for the Black forest cake :) I must admit that I am yet to try the eggless version of the black forest myself, but will  try it out soon. But knowing how good anything chocolaty can taste, I am sure it will come out good.

October 17, 2012

Tayyir Sadham (Curd Rice)


  Apart from Idlis and Dosas, the next best thing that happened to South Indian cuisine, especially Tamil cuisine, is the Tayyir Sadham (curd rice) or dahi chawal, as it is called in North India. In most households, this rice item is usually consumed after all the spicy sambhars, kulumbhu's and rasams are savored. The usual way of eating tayyir sadham is to just mix cooked rice with home made curd or plain yogurt. But the tayyir sadham served at hotels or taken along as 'Katthu sadham' (parceled rice or 'picnic rice', as I prefer to call it) is prepared quite differently. Aah, old memories are kindled yet again......who can ever forget all the sweet times spent with cousins, aunts and uncles, out on a temple trip and my grandma serving tamarind rice (puli sadham) followed by curd rice and pickle on a plantain leaf for a sumptuous lunch :) Eating out of a banana or plantain leaf truly  elevates the taste of food :)Tayyir sadham prepared for a picnic or as a meal in itself starts with the preparing of cooked rice. The rice is usually cooked the previous night itself. In the mornings, the rice is mashed up, boiled milk is added, followed by a few tablespoons of curd, then salt and mustard tempering is added for taste. Most people like adding green chillies, grated ginger and hing (asafoetida) to the tempering. It is in fact the hing and green chillies that give the 'picnic rice' its real taste. The reason milk is added to the rice is to prevent it from souring too much.Traditionally, curd rice is sometimes offered as prasadams in temples. Most people love curd rice as not only is it tasty, but it aides in digestion. Every family has its own way of preparing curd rice. Some add fruits like grapes, chopped apples and pomegranate seeds, others prefer just the tempering, and still others add boondhi and fried cashews. Some people, like my mother, add a tablespoon of home made dairy cream (cream collected from the surface of refrigerated boiled milk, better known as 'Pal aadai') while mixing the curd rice, to add a rich flavor... so rich, it will literally transport you to Tenth Heaven :)) and leave you stranded there! Sure thing, I can't count enough the number of times I have been to 'Snoozeland' after consuming my mother's rich curd rice with pickle for lunch. At school, at work and just about every where, the curd rice and pickle combo is sooooo tasty, especially during the hot summer months, you will sleep through any task you intend to do after eating this ;) Prepared curd rice is best eaten at room temperature, when you can just taste the mildly sour flavor of curd and the added tempering. If it is hot or too warm, you will mostly taste milk. If chilled or out of the refrigerator, it is not curd rice at all! Rather it would be frozen yogurt rice. Curd rice should never be heated or warmed in a microwave, I really don't know why, but assume that it affects the composition of the curd. Try making this very simple dish and you will love it!

Ingredients: For the rice 

Rice (Sona masoori, basmati or any variety) - 2 cups ( I use sona masoori as I find it very tasty)
Water - 4 cups
Salt - 1/4 tsps

Method: To prepare rice

1) Wash rice and drain the water. Place washed rice in a pressure cooker and add 4 cups of water. Mom always followed the 1:2 ratio of rice and water and I do the same. Sometimes if the rice is 'new' (freshly harvested rice), mom would reduce the quantity of water as the rice would over cook if too much water was added. If it was 'old rice' (a year or more old), she would add 1/2 cup extra water or allow it to soak for at least 15 minutes. If using basmati rice, wash it once and soak the rice in water for at least 20 minutes. That way you will get longer grains when the rice is cooked. I don't really prefer basmati rice for making my 'picnic rice', as I feel it doesn't bring out the real taste of curd rice. 
2) Add salt depending on your taste. Some people leave out adding salt while cooking rice. You could do the same if that's the way you prefer to. But do remember to add the salt while mixing the rice with the milk and curd. Pressure cook the rice until done. I usually cook it on high for about 2 whistles, then simmer it for about 3 minutes and switch it off. Make the rice the night before to save time, in case you wish to have it for lunch the next day or use any leftover rice. You can make curd rice out of fresh hot rice too, only it will consume more milk than the cold rice made earlier.

Ingredients: For the tempering and making curd rice

Mustard - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Jeera - 1/2 tsp (I use this as my hubby loves the taste)
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp
Green chilly - 2
Ginger - 1/4 inch (finely chopped, use mango ginger if you can as it tastes even better....awesome actually!)
Asafoetida powder (Hing) - a pinch
Curry leaves - 2 or 3
Whole or 2% Milk - 1 or 1/2 liter ( I use 1/2 liter of 2 % milk and water it down further as I feel it is still a bit fatty :))
Curd - 1/2 cup
Milk cream - 2 tbsps (optional, I have never used this here in the US )
Oil - 2 tbsps
Fresh coriander leaves - a few finely chopped (optional)
Fruits (optional) - Pomegranate seeds, green grapes, chopped apples or any dry fruit of your choice

Method: To prepare the tempering and curd rice

1) Heat oil in a pan on high heat and when it becomes hot enough, add the mustard, urad dal, jeera and channa dal. Slit the green chilly or chop it finely and add it to the seasoning.
2) Next, add the finely chopped ginger, curry leaves and asafoetida powder (hing). The seasoning is ready once the mustard starts to splutter. Take care not to burn the seasoning by reducing the flame to medium heat, once the spluttering starts. This whole process should take about 1 minute.
3) Boil milk in a saucepan or heavy bottomed vessel. You can dilute it with water if you wish to reduce the fat content further :) It is better to boil the milk as cold milk will not allow the curds to sour, thus giving you only milk rice after a few hours of making curd rice.
4) Slightly mash the cooked rice with a ladle and add the cup of curd to it. You can also leave it as is, but I find that mashing it up gives a better texture to the rice and the curd mixes well with it too.
5) Add the tempering to the rice and mix it nicely. Add salt if required.
6) Now add the boiled milk and mix well. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves or any fruit or your choice (preferably without seeds). 
7) Enjoy your curd rice with aam ka acchar or any veggie pickle after a few hours ! It should take less than 3 hours for the curds to sour in peak summer and about 5 hours in the winter.  

Allowing the curds to sour in milk rice :)

Note: Above recipe will serve two people for approx. two helpings.