Tag: cooking

Garam Masala Tuesdays: Roasted Masala Cauliflower

Sorry for being MIA. Haven’t been feeling too much love for the laptop and technology, keeping myself busy with other things. Of course, as a result, the blog always suffers! And since one of the ways I have been keeping myself busy is cooking, it also means recipes piling up in my folders! But, hopefully I should be taking care of them soon.

Luckily, I have GMTs to pull me out of my technology-detoxifying sessions. ūüôā

When my in-laws were here, my mother-in-law made this roasted masala cauliflower dish for us. Its a fairly straight forward and easy to make dish and was a welcome change from the usual cauliflower dish I make. So I thought I will share it with you for this week’s Garam Masala Tuesdays.

If you have been following the past few GMTs, I have been cooking a lot with whole spices. If you haven’t become a convert yet, I hope you do soon. Whole spices opens a new dimension of flavors for you and will make you wonder why you didn’tcook with them earlier.

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April DB Challenge: Maple Mousse served in Edible Containers

It’s that time of the month again. The Daring Bakers’ challenge time. I joined the Daring Baker (here on referred as DB) gang in February. I could not complete my first DB challenge. For the March challenge I posted late (all DB members have to post their version of the challenge recipe on the 27th of every month irrespective of when they complete the challenge). ¬†So for the April DB challenge, I really had to get it right and that too on time. Luckily I was at my parents house and not traveling so I got the time to complete the challenge.

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blogCheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

You do not get maple syrup where my parents stay and places in India where you do get it, it is pretty expensive.¬†Luckily, my mom had a bottle of maple syrup which she grudgingly allowed me to use,¬†else I would have had to sit this one out too. I did have a lot of ingredient and other technical issues though because of which things I would have liked to make as containers I couldn’t. It was fun nonetheless.

Since I am still learning my way with gelatin, I did experience some problem with the cooking of the mousse and thought it wouldn’t set but the next day when I checked it had set. I made three different types of mousses to go with the different containers I planned. I divided the mousse into three parts and added flavorings accordingly. To one part I added garam masala, the other I left plain and to the third I added instant espresso powder.

I have made sugar bowls (for my homemade coconut ice cream) and bread tartlets (with caramelized onion fillings) in the past which would have made excellent pairings with the maple mousse (though would suggest you to make some changes in your maple syrup if you using the sugar bowls- it would just become too sweet). But since we were not supposed to use anything from previous posts I came up with the following four containers for this creamy, sweet maple mousse.

One, I made with cucumber and carrots, that I boiled and placed on a plate and microwaved between paper towels with a weight on top (to absorb the water that the vegetables have naturally) . The result was this paper-thin vegetable bowls- which were beautiful (The idea for this came from something I read about vegetable papyrus sometime back). I think they are a very easy and attractive way to dress up any appetizer/dessert. The crispiness of the vegetables contrasted well with the delicateness of the mousse. Also, since I read that the mousse will be very sweet (I did reduce the amount of sugar called for), to pair it with the paper thin vegetable bowls I added a heaping teaspoon of garam masala. I think the taste was great!  You could glaze the bowls at time of serving with some maple syrup to give a nice flavour to the bowls.

One could come up with several variations of these bowls. Even orange rind would be a great combo. I wanted to make zucchini paper bowls as well as lotus roots paper bowls since I though they would pair up well with the sweet mousse but finding ingredients where my parents stay was a task. So I stuck to what I had on hand and with the garam masala mousse the cucumber and carrot bowls were great.

My second attempt at edible containers were nest bowls from noodles. I thought the noodles would give an excellent crunchy and salty contrast to the mousse and oh boy I was right. I paired the noodle nest bowls with the espresso mousse. (While photographing I realised that the mousse actually looked like an egg- making it a fabulous addition for an Easter Day spread!). The espresso mousse was divine. Maple and coffee are a wonderful combination.

I wanted to make waffles bowls to pair with the plain maple mousse but since the waffle iron that my mom has, was packed in some trunk in the garage, I was not be able to make them. Also, since I am not a fan of bacon I did not try any bacon bowls- but I am sure those who like bacon would love the mousse with the bacon.

My plain mousse did not set properly, as a result of which I thought of freezing the mixture for my third shot at an edible container. I decided to make some maple mousse filled white chocolate bites. I put a little melted white chocolate in an ice cube tray. Added some mousse and topped with a mix of white chocolate and dark chocolate and froze the mixture. It made delicious bites.

My fourth edible container was a take on fried ice cream- a Fried Maple Mousse. I had some mousse left of each kind. So, I mixed it all up, all the while thinking- what am I doing mixing garam masala plus coffee plus maple syrup- I can’t be thinking straight, can I? Surprisingly, it tasted quite good. And combine this with deep fried goodness- voila! you have a great dessert!

My favorite, purely based on taste, among the four containers was the espresso mousse in the noodle nest bowl. The prettiest, of course, were the paper thin vegetable bowls. My parents and I had a fun time devouring all the versions.

I was blown away by everybody’s creativity for this challenge. Some really awesome and innovative edible containers.¬†The DB group is a talented lot and be sure to check out everybody’s creation on the Daring Bakers’ site.

I am sorry for not having any pictures for the method I used to make each container. It was the first time I was trying each version and was not sure whether I will be able to pull each off. But, I will try to explain it in the best possible way I can.

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An Indian Treat, Camelback Hike and a lost ring- Exciting Start to 2011

After a year, 2011 is finally here!! (didn’t know I can be corny and rhyme at the same time!) Happy New Year every one! Welcomed the new year partying with our friends in Phoenix. Lots of fun. ūüôā

I stopped making new year resolutions long back, mainly because they used to revolve around one theme- my weight. And well, most of you know, how such resolutions end up- being broken. But, this year I decided to give the theme another try with a slightly modified resolution. I am not resolving to lose weight, (with my love for all things baked and fried -don’t think that would be a practical resolution)– so I resolve that out of the 7 days in a week, 5 days I will try to get some form exercise– it could be yoga, running or time spent in the gym. I can almost hear myself saying “yeah right, all the best” in a mocking tone, but this time I am determined! Again I hear the voice: “haha, we will see”. To it I say, “Yes, we will!”

Fortunately, the first day of the new year was spent doing just that- showing my inner self that yes I can do it. Even though we had a late night (slept at 4 in the morning), and slightly hung over from the New Year party, I was up on 1st morning¬†(well it was almost noon ūüėČ ), ready to hike the Camelback mountain in Phoenix.

Camelback Mountain, the best-known feature of the Phoenix skyline and the city’s highest point, is an irresistible lure to hard-core hikers, fitness fanatics and tantalized tourists.¬†Both routes to the summit, Echo and Cholla, though fairly short, are among the steepest trails in Arizona, guaranteed to leave even the fittest of the fit huffing and puffing as they slog their way to the top. The first mile and a half of the Cholla trail, though steep in places, is easy enough for the most casual of hikers to enjoy. But the final quarter-mile is rather nasty, requiring a fair amount of scrambling along a bouldery ridgeline to the top. It is a 3.5 miles round trip for the Cholla Trail.

I managed to complete the trail, exceeding V’s expectations (he thought I would give up half-way. But I didn’t!) , and all was going according to plan! Good start to the new year.

The next day though, things went from good to bad. Woke up with a sore body, feeling pain in muscles I never knew existed in those parts of my body. That was still fine. It turned bad when, on our way back from Phoenix, I realised my yellow sapphire gold ring missing! I knew I had it in the morning before we left our friends’ house but somewhere on the way, the ring slipped from my fingers (well, the positive: I lost weight from a one day hiking trip! The negative: at the cost of a very expensive ring!) Anyways both V and I were very upset, but then things like this happen. I never wanted to wear the ring but V told me to, because he believes that the stone would be good for my overall prosperity and good luck. Since I don’t believe in such things, I wasn’t too keen. On his insistence I wore it. The irony is that once lost, I feel its a bad omen and my prosperity would be affected ( well, not that I was working or anything, but still, any chance of finding a job would get lost). Well, ok, I am not THAT superstitious but I would have felt more sure of my prosperity and my luck if the ring was in my fingers. Anyways, that too, we shall see!

Coming to today, I decided on treating V and myself to some real Indian comfort food: Poori, sookhe kale chane and Sooji ka Halwa .

Poori is a deep fried unleavened flat bread eaten in India. The dough is made of whole wheat flour, water, salt and a little ghee (clarified butter). One can also add carom seeds (Ajwain), like I did, for an added flavor.

Sookhe Kale chane is a north Indian dish, popularly made during Ashtami, (a Hindu festival) as part of Kanjak puja ( a ceremony performed for little girls). Generally, it is made sans salt (it is a fasting period and salt is not allowed). The salt is replaced with black salt (kala namak). Also, traditionally, ginger and tomatoes nor onions are used, but I have added them in my recipe (well, since we are not fasting!)

Sooji ka Halwa is a sweet dish very,very popular in most Indian households. It is also one of V’s favorites. Unfortunately for him, my first few attempts at the halwa have been disastrous. Its a tradition for newly weds to cook halwa for the husband’s family. Now, before marriage I had never entered the kitchen to cook, to bake-yes, but to cook, never. Well, probably once or twice, but that’s it. So, when I decided to make something for V’s family, I had no idea where to begin! Luckily, my in-laws had gone out of the house and the cook helped me making the halwa. Actually, I tried once, but it was a mess. So, had to take the cook’s help! Surprisingly, its very easy to make but also very easy to mess up. Fortunately, this time I found the microwave version of the recipe and thought to myself, I can;t goof up with this. And what would you know- I did! But, only slightly and because I had to third the recipe as I only had 2 cups of milk in the fridge. I also burnt the almonds in the microwave (I knew something was burning- but multi-tasking to prepare food in time for V’s lunch just ended up burning the almonds- but luckily, only a few!) The end result, though, was unexpectedly, pretty good. Actually very good!

Update: Just spoke with my mother-in-law and it turns out that losing a stone ring is good if it happens in the natural course of your day. It means all the bad energies leave you with that stone. Hmm.. 2011 looks promising! ūüėČ

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