10 Must Eats in Kuwait

Ten on TuesdaysAs I travelled across the length and breadth of the  Kuwait city, (It’s a small city by the way), one thing that I found in abundance is the eating joints. There are rows of restaurants, food joints, small and simple eateries to high end fine dining, international food chains to good value mid-range options, lining both the sides of the roads.

Kuwaiti cuisine, they say is largely the one that is contributed by the immigrants from the Arab countries and South East Asia. So, Arabian, Persian, Bedouin, Pakistani, Turkish, Indian Iranian and Mediterranean dishes form an integral part of Kuwaiti food. Since, there are immigrants from all over the world in Kuwait, so there are a lot of American, Italian, Chinese, French, Thai, Japanese restaurants and food joints too.

Our local hosts have been kind and generous enough to take us around and giving us insights about Kuwait. Thanks to them, we have been able to explore the diverse flavours of Kuwaiti food.

Today, I share the list of 10 dishes that I tried in Kuwait and relished eating them.

1. Warak Enab : An Arabic dish, Warak Enab is basically stuffed grape leaves. The leaves are stuffed with rice, tomatoes, onions, parsley, fresh mint and slowly simmered in a bath of olive oil and lemon juice. The result is a smooth silky rich and a bit sour dish that simply melts in the mouth!

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2. Machboos : It is considered as the national dish of Kuwait. Machboos is a rice dish served with meat (chicken, lamb, fish). Basmati Rice is cooked with saffron and rose water. The meat is cooked separately and served on top of the rice. This is then eaten with a red sauce known as Dakkous which is made up of tomatoes, black pepper and garlic. The pictures here are of Chicken and Mutton Muchboos. An interesting dish, isn’t it?

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3. Jireesh (Yireesh) –This is another Arabic dish which is like our broken wheat dalia only cooked with chicken or lamb along with spices and tomatoes. I know the picture below is not that appealing but it can be an ideal comfort food.

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4. Kuboos and Hummus : Kuboos is an Arabian pita or flat bread made up of wheat flour and baked in hot oven. It is eaten with Hummus which is a very popular and traditional Middle Eastern dip or an accompaniment. It is made of chickpeas which are mashed and blended with spices and olive oil. I liked the way the hummus is served in dishes with swirls and hollow in the centre and garnished with different things viz chopped tomato, cucumber, coriander, parsley, caramelized onions or sautéed mushrooms.

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5. Fatayer Lahme, Fatayer Jibna and Fatayer Zaatar : These are stuffed Arabic breads. Fatayer Lahme is a bread stuffed with minced meat. Fatayer Jibna is a flat bread stuffed with cheese. And Fatayer Zaatar is a pizza like bread, the top of which is smeared with thyme, sesame seeds and some other herbs and spices. These can be shaped in the form of pastry pies and triangles or boats.

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6. Kushari : Kushari is an Arabic Egyptian dish made up of rice, lentils and macroni. It is topped with tomato sauce and crispy fried onions. Kushari is like our Khichdi minus the macroni.

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7. Shawarma : Shawarma is considered as the little piece of heaven here on earth. It is yet another Arabic dish. It has thinly sliced cuts of meat, like chicken, beef, goat, lamb,  rolled into a large piece of flatbread. It is eaten with with fries, salads like tabouleh, falafel, hummus or pickled vegetables.  I liked the process of making the Shawarmas. Raw meat is placed on large, rotating cones. As it rotates, the meat is cooked slowly on all sides by a heat source below. The meat is thinly sliced by a chef with a large knife. It can be eaten in a plate or as a wrap.WP_20160122_14_12_41_Pro

8. Kebabs : As I mentioned earlier, I am not an ardent non-veg food lover, but I do love the grilled non-veg dishes. I have had kebabs and grilled food at many places, but the ones that I had at this Kuwaiti restaurant were simply mind blowing. The mutton seekh kebabs simply melted in my mouth and the flavours were so rich. In this platter we had various varieties of juicy and delicious grilled chicken and mutton kebabs. Aah! I feel like having them again, now!

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9. Luqaimat : It is a popular Arabic sweet dish that is enjoyed during the month of Ramadan. These are sweet dumplings which are crunchy from out side (like jalebi) and soft from inside (like gulab jamun). Now, I call this as a double bonanza, because I  get two of my favorites in one dish.

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10. Balah El Sham and Katayef : I have seen and heard a lot about these sweet patties and pastries on Food Safari. And when I saw them at the buffet, my heart gave a whoop of joy. Balah El Sham are churro-like, Middle Eastern fritters which are crunchy on the outside and squishy soft on the inside. Katayef is a pancake pastry filled with sweet cheese and nuts and then fried or baked and served with a hot syrup. Needless to say that they are simply YUM!!

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I was just checking my notes and camera and there are still so many foods and dishes that I must write about, but I shall leave that to next time.

Have you tried these dishes? Which is your favorite Kuwaiti / Arabic dish.  Is there any dish that you would recommend me to try out in Kuwait?

Breaking the Sugar Habit

It’s in our genes. The sweet tooth I mean. Oh, it’s actually sweet teeth! No meal of ours is complete without a dessert. Usually, people ask, “What’s for lunch/dinner?”, we ask, “What’s for desserts?” We are drawn to the taste of sweetness like bees to honey. Chocolates, cakes, ice creams, puddings, halwa, mithais, candies are always on our mind and we can have them anytime, anywhere.

We know that sugar translates into lots of empty calories and is certainly unhealthy, but still we are not able to curb our sweet cravings. Since we are devoted dessert-lovers, we decided to indulge our taste buds without worrying about calories and the health risks of sugar by changing the way we used sugar.

Yes, we opted for the healthier alternative to sugar which is Sugar Free.

Sugar Free is not only nutritious but allows us to relish the sweet desserts without any guilt trip. Just yesterday, I made a Fig Cake using Sugar Free and no marks for guessing that it was the best part of our meal. Don’t believe it? Try this recipe and decide it yourself.

Recipe for Sugar Free Fig Cake

  • Preparation Time : 10 Minutes Slide1
  • Cooking Time :  35 Minutes
  • Serves : 4

Ingredients

  • Butter : 55 grams
  • Sugar Free : 35 grams
  • Milk : 60 ml
  • All Purpose Flour : 70 grams
  • Baking Powder : 2 grams
  • Baking Soda : 2 grams
  • Dry Fig : 60 grams
  • Water : 60 ml
  • Walnuts and Cashew Nuts : 30 grams

Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  • Chop the figs into small pieces. In a pan add water, chopped figs and baking soda and bring it to a boil. On a slow flame, let it simmer till the mixture turns pulpy. Cool it and keep it aside.
  • Sift all purpose flour and baking powder and add butter, milk and Sugar Free. Beat the mixture with the hand help mixer until it turns soft and thick in consistency.
  • Fold in the fig pulp and walnuts/cashewnuts until just incorporated
  • Transfer the batter in a greased tin. I used paper baking pan.

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  • Bake it at 160ºC for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan 15 minutes before unmolding cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • To serve, cut into slices.

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We are breaking the sugar habit and switching to Sugar Free. Are you?

Putting a Smile on His Face

IB Winner

It was Sunday morning, he woke up early, and there was an unusual spring in his step, as he went about folding the blanket and making his bed.I smiled to see him carrying forward his habits from his boarding school at home.

Aaryan was back home for his week-long autumn break. And as always, the home was buzzing with a flurry of activities. The intercom and our mobile phones were dominated by calls to and from his friends, after all, it was an important day. Jayesh, Aaryan’s friend was giving an action and fun packed birthday party at a mall. A action thriller movie followed by playing at bowling alley and then snacking at a joint was on the agenda.

Aaryan was ready much before the scheduled time and I could sense his restless excitement. My phone buzzed and as I listened to the caller at the other end, a frown appeared on my face. As I relayed the info to Aaryan, he appeared sad. A cancelled party can upset anyone. My heart ached as I saw that he neither complained or whined just watched TV listlessly.

I galvanized into action. Checked the fridge, made a list mentally and made a few calls. As I made some preparations, our door bell rang. As Aaryan, opened the door, he was pleasantly surprised to see his friends from the building.

He looked at me questioningly. I said, “Party is on, not at the mall but at home”. And all the boys gave a whoop of joy. I ordered a movie on showcase. Since there was some time for the movie to start, the boys got busy with games on PlayStation and Laptop and I got busy in the kitchen. As the aroma of fries wafted through the house, Aaryan joined me in the kitchen. Seeing me fry McCain Smileys and Potato Cheese Shots, he asked if he could help me in some way. My motherly heart swelled with pride.

I said, “Sure and call your friends too.” I served the hot McCain Smileys and Potato Cheese Shots in serving plates and gave pineapple slices, cheese slices, Thousand Island Dressing along with olives and parsley in separate bowls. I demonstrated how to garnish the Potato Cheese Shots and the boys took it ahead from there.

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They had a fun time making the Potato Cheese Shots and Smiley Canapes.

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And once they were done, they truly enjoyed their fruits of labour, literally and figuratively. Over boisterous chatter, smiles and laughter, they wolfed all Potato Cheese Shots and Smiley Canapes with cold drinks.

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Seeing the smile return back on my son’s face, I realized that it doesn’t take much to make someone smile. A big hug from him later proved it!

Recipe and Images : Source

Spiralling Some Magic

If you ask anyone in our family about their favourite Italian dish, pasta would rank first followed by risotto and pizza. Pasta makes for a great lunch or a dinner for us. It is not only filling and nourishing but is immensely versatile and can be cooked with a wide range of ingredients. Anything goes well with pasta, right from vegetables, mushrooms, seafood, meat, to herbs and cheese.

For me, cooking pasta at home not only translates into a good meal, but also gives me a holiday from cooking. Yes, KG, my husband, who is a big foodie, loves to cook up a storm in the kitchen, literally and figuratively!

Last weekend, KG created some magic in the kitchen with Del Monte Italian Gourmet Pasta. Oh by the way, I was a part of that magic too, I was hanging out in the kitchen, sitting at the counter with a glass of wine, talking and clicking pictures as he prepared the meal. And of course, I ensured that his glass was never empty.

Today I present, the most perfect meal to make for some amazing dining at home…

Let’s peek in our kitchen where KG is spiralling some magic with  Spiralli Pasta and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Recipe : Spiralli Pasta and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

  • Serves : 4-6
  • Cooking Time : 45 Minutes
  • Skill Level : Easy

 Spiralli Pasta and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

INGREDIENTS

Meatballs

  • 500 gms minced meat
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 egg
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (We made fresh bread crumbs by coarsely grinding 2 bread slices in a mixer)
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying

Sauce

  • Extra-virgin olive oil Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed lightly with the flat of a knife
  • 200 gms tomato puree
  • Salt
  • Dried thyme and rosemary

Pasta

  • 250 gms Del Monte Gourmet Pasta- Spirali (Short pasta rods twisted in a spiral shape)

Garnishing

  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 8-10 Del Monte green/black olives, pitted and cut (Optional)
  • Parsley

DIRECTIONS

Meatballs Meatballs

Put all the ingredients of the meatballs in a large dish. With hands scrunch and mix  everything together. Shape the meat into desired shape and size. We made them oval shaped using 2 spoons. Meatballs can be shallow fried in oil or baked in an oven. We tried both the methods.

Fried Meatballs : In a pan, pour cooking oil and heat it on medium flame. Drop the meatballs in the oil gently until they are brown from all sides. You may have to turn them occasionally to get that golden brown effect.

Baked Meatballs : Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease the baking dish with oil. Place the meatballs in the dish, keeping them apart from one another. Bake for 25 minutes or till brown from all sides. Turn the meatballs with the help of tongs for even baking.

baked Meatballs

Sauce

In a large pan over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion turns translucent and garlic is light brown. Add the tomato puree along with salt, thyme and rosemary. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for a 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer it for another 4-6 minutes.

Meatballs in Tomato Gravy

Pasta

In a large saucepan, heat water. Add one tablespoon of salt to the water as it begins to boil. Add the pasta to boiling water and stir immediately to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cook till  the pasta is firm to bite, yet cooked through. Drain the pasta immediately in a colander.

Cooked Pasta

Serve the pasta in a shallow plate. Pour the sauce with meatballs over the pasta. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese, olives and parsley and a dollop of cream cheese which is purely optional. Drizzle some olive oil too.

Spiralli Pasta and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Aah! This tasted absolutely heavenly and yum!!

I have written this post for  Indiblogger and Delmonte IndiEscapades Contest. You can check Del Monte’s Official Facebook page and stay updated for latest products and new food.

Nashta with Guptaji’s Family

A.A. Milne in 1925-1928…

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” Breakfast
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

Cut to late 1970s-late 1990s…

“Mom!! What’s for breakfast?” asked one of the three sisters.
“Aloo da parantha”, said Mom.
“What will you make tomorrow?”, asked the second one
“Gobhi da parantha”, said Mom without missing a beat.

You get the drift! Stuffed paranthas. It was THE breakfast that was made and served everyday at our home! We Punjabis love our paranthas and our breakfast is incomplete without it! Crisp golden brown paranthas with a dollop of butter and curd is sheer divinity.

Cut to late 1990s to the present time…

KG on weekdays (on weekends, the kitchen is all his), “What are you making for breakfast?”
“It’s methi  (or paneer or mashed peas or radish or besan or egg….) ka parantha”, I would inform him.

You see, if there’s one thing that is difficult to change in a Punjabi is their breakfast of paranthas. And this does not change even if you are married to a Marwari. We believe in eating breakfast like a king, ie a meal that is rich in calories, is full, tasty and heavy. And we believe that this can be achieved only through paranthas.

But since the last few months, both KG and I have been thinking of cutting down on our early morning high calories intake and opting for a lighter, healthier fare. Also the ghee, butter and oil has started showing at unflattering places.

And then we saw, Guptaji’s family.

They sure know how to whip up the perfect breakfast for any occasion. We’d like to go to their house for nashta! While we are stuck to a pattern of paranthas as breakfast, they have such a huge variety of healthy and nutritious breakfast on their dining table. I was amazed to see the number of breakfast recipes Mrs Gupta makes for her family. I liked the breakfast recipes for Almond Strawberry Cornflakes, Apple Cornflakes Pancakes,

PancakesCornflake Walnut Chocolate Muffin, Banana Milkshake, Basil Curd Dip, Choco Cornflakes Peanut Chikki, Chapatti Cornflakes Chivda, Cabbage Corn Salad in Basil Curd Dressing, Cornflake Sesame Modaks/Dumplings,Cornflake Dahi Upma, Cornflakes Anjeer Porridge, Cornflakes Sheera,Grilled Cornflake Polenta Sticks,Oats Veggie Omlette, Narkeler Bonda to name a few! All these recipes are so simple, yet so healthy. These dishes are packed with the goodness of a well-balanced diet as they contain, grain (whole grain, whole wheat, brown rice, oats), fruit, vegetables, proteins and dairy!

Also, all these breakfast recipes are low in fat, which helps to manage weight and heart health. And these certainly should be on our agenda, after all we are not getting any younger!

The breakfast cereal used in all the recipes is high in fibre and is essential in promoting health, aids the digestive system and prevents diseases viz diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, colon cancer, anxiety and depression. Also it is high in complex carbohydrates, which provide vital energy to the body. Cereals are usually fortified with vitamins and minerals, thereby helping to meet the daily requirements of these essential nutrients. And last but not least, they are mostly consumed with milk which helps contribute to your calcium and protein intake.

Needless to say that all this not only gives a lot of energy to start a new day, but is also linked to many health benefits, including weight control and improved mental performance. It’s high time we make way for this powerful breakfast, in our daily schedule.

We are going to have Nashta with Guptaji’s family. Kya aap aayenge? #KelloggsWaleGuptaji

[tweetthis]We are going to Guptaji’s house for nashta. Kya aap aayenge? @guptajikifamily #KelloggsWaleGuptaji [/tweetthis]

The #CreateFearlessly Experience

I like the ridged grilled sandwiches that they serve in restaurants and cafes. They are different from my regular sandwich maker which makes plain triangle sandwiches.

When I got the Hamilton Beach Panini Press and Indoor Grill, through Blogadda, I was simply thrilled. I was thrilled to visualize the look of the sandwiches on our dining table from hereupon. And of course, KG loves grilling meat and vegetables, so I could see that this appliance would be part of our kitchen buzz, a lot!

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The first dish that we tried on our new Panini Press and Indoor Grill was Marinated Grilled Chicken. And next we made was Cheese Aloo Tikki Vegetable Sandwich.

We simply loved the #CreateFearlessly experience of grilling and making sandwiches.

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After preheating the Hamilton Beach Panini Press and Indoor Grill, it starts its magic. It comes with a detachable top and bottom non-stick grill plates which are pretty large (216 sq cm says the product manual!). Four large bread slices can be grilled simultaneously.  And the bread comes out perfectly and evenly toasted. The contact grill is good for cooking and grilling fish fillets, steaks, chicken breasts, sausages, patties,  hamburgers, sandwiches and vegetables. Did I tell you that I am simply in love with the wonderful ridged grilled marks on the sandwiches.

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The floating hinge and height locking feature in this Panini Grill is suitable for making sandwiches of all thicknesses and varieties. Yes, the sandwiches that we see on Eat St. via Fox Traveller can now be made in our very own kitchen.

Hamilton Beach Panini Press and Indoor Grill is a no fuss appliance. It is simple to use. All that needs to be done is simply plug in the machine and red light starts. When the correct cooking temperature is reached, which is a few minutes later, the green light turns on. Place the assembled sandwich, press down the grill and about five minutes later there’s a perfect sandwich – toasted on the outside and hot inside. And that’s because of the 1200 watts of power which ensures heating of the grill plates quickly and evenly.

The non-stick grill plates are removable so they can be easily cleaned with soapy water which is a big plus for a cleanliness freak like me. My expenses for kitchen napkins would come down substantially as I would no longer be using the bulk of paper napkins to clean up my earlier sandwich maker! The removable drip tray is another thoughtful addition in this appliance. So, all the butter or oil or the marinade drips into this tray and the kitchen counter stays non-greasy and non-messy.

The 2 skewers with Hamilton Beach Panini Press and Indoor Grill can be used for making kebabs and paneer tikkas. We have not used the skewers as yet. I just told KG about it and he says that this weekend it would be the day for kebabs! Can’t wait for the weekend!!

I simply loved this activity. Thank you Blogadda and Hamilton Beach. 🙂

This post is a part of #CreateFearlessly activity at BlogAdda in association with Hamilton Beach. Check out exciting videos and recipes by following #CreateFearlessly on Twitter.

#CreateFearlessly with Hamilton Beach

When Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur, Bobby Flay,  said “Grilling means good times, good friends, and hopefully, great food”, he must have seen KG grilling and barbequing on our charcoal grill outside in the garden or terrace. Grilling meat and vegetables as starters is always on the menu when we have get-togethers at home. While grilled food is a hot favourite during any time of the year, the weather is far from perfect for grilling outdoors, most of the time.

So, when I got the Hamilton Beach Panini Press and Indoor Grill, through Blogadda, I was simply thrilled. I knew that this is one appliance that would be used extensively at our home, all year round.

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The day we received this Panini Press and Indoor Grill, we had a dinner party at our friend’s place. We decided to unbox and use this product at their place. Yes, we are pretty cool that way!

So here’s the unboxing video that we shot at our friend’s place.

The first dish that we made using this appliance was Marinated Grilled Chicken.

Here’s how it finally looked.

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Needless to say, that it was so delicious that we polished off every last bit in few minutes!

Recipe for Marinated Grilled Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 tbsp red thai curry paste
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • Bone-in chicken breasts with wing bones

Directions

  1. Spread chicken pieces in a shallow baking dish. In a medium sized bowl, stir together yogurt, red thai curry paste, ginger-garlic, lemon juice and spices. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken and stir to coat. Allow chicken to marinate at least 2 hours (up to 24 hours).
  2. Preheat Panini Press and Indoor Grill. Place the marinated chicken pieces on the cooking plate. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes each side until juices run clear when chicken is pierced. Serve with dressing, if desired.

The second dish that KG made the next morning was Cheese Aloo Tikki Vegetable Sandwich. You know he is the resident master chef of our home!

Recipe for Cheese Aloo Tikki Vegetable Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 3 thick slices of bread
  • 2 Aloo Tikki
  • 2-3 tablespoons Basil Pesto
  • 1/2  Red and Yellow Capsicum
  • 1 tomato sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • Few rings of onion
  • 2 slices of cheese
  • Butter

Directions

  1. Preheat panini press.
  2. Grill the red and yellow capsicum, skin-side up, for 10 minutes or until charred and blistered. Transfer to a sealable plastic bag. Set aside for 5 minutes (this helps lift the skin). Peel skin from capsicum and cut into 1cm-thick strips.
  3. Grill the aloo tikkis too.
  4. Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.
  5. Place 3 slices of bread, butter down, on the panini press.
  6. Place 2 aloo tikki, pesto sauce, shredded cabbage, tomato slices, onion rings and capsicum strips, and cheese slices on each slice of bread and make a two layered sandwich
  7. Close panini press.
  8. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until desired brownness.

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Different types of sandwiches are making an appearance on our dining table and so are the grilled vegetables and meat. And we are so loving it!

This post is a part of #CreateFearlessly activity at BlogAdda in association with Hamilton Beach. Check out exciting videos and recipes by following #CreateFearlessly on Twitter.

My Experiments with Baking – 2

Have you read My Experiments with Baking – 1?

If I had failed in my very first baking attempt and then subsequently too, I would have shunned the thought of baking, long ago. But since I had met with success in my first attempt and failed repeatedly after that, I was determined to recreate the magic of my first baked cupcakes.

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Our Cookery Books

KG and I, are pro in cooking from cookbooks. I mean, we try brand new recipes from cookery books even on a very important get together and they turn out great, always. Following recipes from Nigella or Jamie or Tarla Dalal or Chefs from Star Hotels is the order of the day in our kitchen. So, following cake recipes should be just the same. But it was not happening that way! Then I also read that baking is a science. Now, I was a distinction holder science student, I was good at lab work, so why was I failing in this science project called baking a perfect cupcake?

Internet was my guide and counsellor. Step by step, I worked on the possible causes of my erupting-like-volcanoes-cupcakes. Despite my inner voice admonishing me for considering the oven as the culprit, I decided to challenge it. I asked my friend K to bake the same recipe of cupcakes in her oven. She didn’t have a muffin tray so she baked a cake instead. Like a stubborn child, I wanted only cupcakes. I was getting restless and was desperate to taste success.

Next day, I sifted and weighed all the ingredients, packed them in containers and finally in a bag along with the other baking paraphernalia and headed to my Mom’s home. She has a Convection Microwave while I have a Microwave with Grill which is not suitable for baking. I baked ‘my first successful attempt’ cupcake recipe. And….

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It is photographed poorly!

… it turned out just like the first time. My happiness knew no bounds. I returned back home and kissed my oven. Yes, kissed it for 2 reasons. a) Because of it, I experimented so much and learnt so much in the process and b) it was time to bid it farewell.

Seeing me talk so crazily passionately about cakes and cupcakes, the experiments and the learnings, all this while, KG knew what would be an ideal birthday gift for me. Of course, an oven.  I know ovens behave erratically sometimes and an oven thermometer usually helps, but who can resist a brand new oven and that too a big one!

We went to the store and looked at 32-40 litres ovens, but KG had bigger plans. He pushed me to go for the biggest available option, the Morphy Richards 60 litres OTG. Of course, he had something of his own on the agenda too. He wanted to use the big oven to grill and roast a whole chicken in the Rotisserie mode!

Since the new oven has entered our kitchen, sweet smell of baking cakes has been wafting in our home. I am trying newer recipes and thank fully they are turning out good.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Sprouts for a Farmer Husband

These are chocolate cupcakes with fondant sprouts for the new age farmer, KG.  Thank you Uma for your recipe and also for all your tips and suggestions over phone and whatsapp messages. Appreciate it a lot! ♥ Thanks are also in order to the master baker Gauri and Ashwini. You girls rock!!

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I never knew that what would start as ticking something off from the bucket list would end up as a passion. I am forever looking at recipes, YouTube videos and reading all that I can about baking cakes, cupcakes and cookies. I am finding so much joy in baking. I am glad of the initial failures that I encountered in my baking journey. They gave me so many sleepless nights and of course a lot of lessons too. Failures are truly the stepping stones to success.

As I type this, Aaryan is flipping through a cake book and selecting what we should be baking later this afternoon.  And I am smiling with pride and happiness. He is home these days for his winter vacations and has been helping me in baking and demolishing the baked goodies too. What will I do when he leaves next week for his school! Probably bake a cake and eat it too! 😉

Next item to tick off from the bucket list is Food Photography.

Edited to Add : Our this afternoon’s experiment…

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My Experiments with Baking – 1

Baking cakes and muffins has been on my bucket list for a while now. I had baked a few cakes earlier, but most  of them were made from ready-made cake mixes. And we all know that baking a ready cake mix is no baking at all. So, nearly three months ago, I had this urge to bake. I scanned the web and found a very simple and easy recipe for cupcakes, here. I gathered all the ingredients, followed the recipe and voila! my first cupcakes were out of the oven. And…. they turned out real good! Friends and family appreciated the taste and flavour, the texture, moistness and the softness of these lil cupcakes. I was ecstatic so much so that I admonished myself for having not tried my hands at baking much earlier!

Inspired by the initial success, next, I baked Red Velvet Cupcakes. They looked good from far and were dry and a bit hard! Also, they were far from velvety!2014-10-04 17.09.05

I was not at all deterred by this setback, and I thought of repeating my first success story. My father’s birthday was around the corner so I planned to bake cupcakes for the special day. Once again, I followed Annabel’s basic cupcake recipe. This time, the cupcakes did not rise (to the occasion) and turned out all flat and wrinkly as I looked at them with disbelief. The saving grace was that they tasted all right!

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Intrigued but not discouraged by these failures, I read up all the reasons for the fall of my cupcakes and even chatted on Whatsapp and Facebook with some baker bloggers.

Some said baking powder could be the culprit, so I tested the baking powder for its efficiency and despite the poor powder passing the test, I banished it from my kitchen and in fact changed my baking powder thrice in 2 months!

The experts say that exact measurements are crucial for baking a perfect cake. Though I have measuring cups and spoons, I bought a kitchen weighing scale to get the measurement EXACTLY right… to the last gram!

A friend believes that an electric hand whisk is an essential piece of kit when making cakes. I thought I was beating the living daylights out of the batter and overbeating is also one of the common reasons why cakes sink. So, I invested in a new electric hand whisk too and learnt the technique of folding the batter from YouTube videos.

Over the next few weeks, with new gadgets, new techniques, lots of reading up on the internet and watching innumerable YouTube videos, I tried some more cupcake recipes and baked ‘my first (and the last?!) successful attempt recipe’ a couple of times and the results were the same…  flat, deflated cupcakes!

Oven temperature could easily make for a falling cake, some websites said. I looked at my rarely-used-till-a-few-months-ago oven and it stared back at me accusingly and seemed to say, ‘Don’t accuse me if your cupcakes look like erupted volcanoes. It is truly a case of pot calling the kettle black!’

I believed what my lil oven said and immersed myself in self-depreciating thoughts!

Till…

…To be continued!

Linking this to Write Tribe Pro Blogger Challenge

Spouse Grouse

LettersUnset

My Dearest KG

They say the way to a man’s heart is through is through his stomach. And right from our courtship days you left no opportunity to drive this point home. A girl who was busy with her lab work and books all her life till then and with parents who believed that education was more important than acquiring culinary skills, this passion of yours, for food, scared me a bit. Mom tried to put me at ease and taught me some basic recipes in a jiffy. But you took the reins in your able hands soon after our marriage. I found an enthusiastic teacher in you and you, an eager to learn student. Every other day, after we returned back from our respective offices, we worked together in the kitchen as you showed how to make various dishes with your step-by-step instructions. In no time, I mastered the art of cooking and you beamed with pride and showered compliments every now and then.

With passage of time, my interest in cooking got stuck at making good tasty 3 regular meals, while your passion for cooking soared to learn and experiment newer and exotic dishes. Some 50 cookbooks in our home library along with Kylie, Jamie, Nigella through their TV shows, inspired you to cook newer recipes with élan. I have told you this a million times but let me tell you this again that you have this awesome ability of putting seemingly incongruent ingredients together in such a way that they work amazingly well, always.

While I love the way you cook such fabulous meals on weekends, surprise us with newer dishes every now and then and that entertaining friends at home is always a pleasure because of you. But what I am not liking is the feeling that I get every time… the feeling that I am picked up by a tornado and released abruptly amidst a shower of debris and rubble, once you leave the kitchen after creating magic with food.

While your favorite chefs are cooking for a TV show, so it is ok for them to leave a part of the grounded paste in the mixer jar or use only part of the soaked rice. But following your ‘Gurus’ habits in our kitchen translates into wastage of food resources!

While you are so fair and square in everything else in life, I can’t understand your biasness towards the food cooked by you! You can’t stop gloating about the dishes you cook, yes, even the ones which have no salt or the ones which have a tinge of burnt food aroma!

While you know it very well that I am perfectly happy with my level of daily cooking and I have no desire, whatsoever to don your chef’s hat. Then, why is it that you are so competitive with me about cooking, so much so that you’ll not tell me the ingredients you used for the new curry.

While you believe that food is all about creativity and experimentation with flavors and ingredients. Why do you frown when I try to experiment a bit in our regular food. Given my interest in cooking, my experiments with food only goes up to adding coriander powder in some dish or dry mango powder somewhere. I know some of your experiments are really crazy, for instance the day I was coming back home with Aaryan, you had made rice kheer among other things. We all oohed and aahed at the wonderful sweet dish till you asked us with a mischievous and a proud look, the secret ingredient in it. As you vetoed all the regular ingredients that could have been added in a kheer, we ‘begged’ you to shed light on the mysterious ingredient. Proudly, you said, “Egg yolk”. Mom who is a vegetarian and who relished the kheer so much, moments ago,  nearly puked. Egg yolk in a rice kheer? who adds that??  Well, YOU!!

As I write this I realize that the benefits of having a husband as a chef certainly outweigh the rants I have just  shared.

So, dear husband, continue to create magical flavors and may the fragrant aromas waft from our kitchen, always.

Happy cooking and looking forward to see you cook your signature dish soon, tomorrow.

Love You

SG

This is written for Write Tribe – Letters Unsent #4  : Your current love/ spouse/ crush

Linking this post to the Ultimate Blog Challenge and October’s NaBloPoMo.

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