Thursday, January 27, 2011

7 cup cake with a twist

Jan 27th 2010

Disclaimer: I have never made the 7 cup cake :)

I am really not sure if this 7 cup cake is easy or hard but pretty much every south indian I have talked to seems to make or know about this sweet. And the lore associated with it is that even one who cannot make good sweets can make a good 7 cup cake ?!

When you make any cake like sweet, you need to get the right *padham* or consistency. For example for mysore pakku you need to know exactly when to take the paste out and pour it into the pan so that it will harden into a cake. If you take it too early, it will remain mysore halwa, if you take it too will be like a brick. But if you take it out at the exact time, oh you will have heaven in each bite :D

But when you make a badam cake or in this case a cashew-badam cake, this mixture is a bit more forgiving and you have a little bit leeway in when you can take it out of the pan. Worst comes cashew badam halwa is yum too!

Difficulty level : Easy - Medium

Time: 10 min ( Prep Time),  30 min ( Cooking Time)


  • 1 cup ground powder of badam and cashews ( no need to peel almonds(badam))
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 cup besan flour (kadalai maavu)
Method de Preparation:
  1. Grind unpeeled almonds and cashews (equal or unequal quantity does not matter). Measure 1 cup and keep aside. Grease slightly hollow pan or baking tray with ghee and keep aside.
  2. Roast besan flour in ghee.
  3. Dissolve milk and sugar in a pan with heat on.
  4. Mix 2 and 3 and with the ground powder without forming lumps.
  5. Keep stirring till it does not stick to the bottom of the pan and forms a halwa like consistency. The ideal way to know when it is done is that the liquid will start thickening and you cannot stir that easily, you will need more effort to stir everytime. Additionally you will see the whole sweet come without sticking to the base of the pan and start to bubble slightly. 
  6. Take out and pour onto a greased pan. Allow to slightly solidify and cut into cubes or cuboids. If you cut into circles then I want to see that!
Source:  Through Amms from a maami in PHX

  1. You get a good # of cakes for the measure you add. For example if you use a rice cup for the 1 cup measurement, you get at least 20-30 such cakes.
  2. With the ingredients you put in - cashew/badam, milk,ghee, sugar..this cannot taste bad, period. So start with that confidence.
  3. The traditional 7 cup cake has 1 cup coconut which is replaced by this cashew/almond ground paste here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Malaysian Paratha (Roti Canai)

Jan 22nd 2011

You know how sometimes you  are driven by this urge to accomplish and you can't rest till you finish what you set your mind on. Well, there was this period when I underwent the same. But sadly it was not oriented towards work, maybe I could have tried for a promotion or two :) But it was directed towards where my first love is, the kitchen and trying out some recipes that I had bookmarked for some time.

We have loved Roti Canai every time we have tried it. It was not a totally new taste as one of my favorite dishes has always been paratha chops at Hotel Saravana Bhavan. Well I cannot proceed without taking a moment to pause and think about how utterly I miss that restaurant. It would not be an exaggeration to say that if I had to move back then this restaurant would be a very big motivator!

I tried this recipe one such weekend and I have to say it was a labour of love. This is not easy but oh the feeling of pride when you bite into that first paratha, I must say is priceless. This goes well with any gravy but the pick is this Malaysian Potato Curry (my vegetarian version of the Chicken Curry that this is usually served with).

Difficulty level : Hard

Time: 1 hr ( Prep Time), 6 hrs or overnight (resting time) 30 min ( Cooking Time)

  • 3 1/2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup ghee at room temperature ( to use at different steps)
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
Method de Preparation

1.  Making the dough: I used my hands but if you have a mixer, good for you.  Combine flour, salt, sugar and 1/4 cup ghee. Add egg, milk and water. Keep mixing and kneading till a smooth, elastic dough is formed, about 8 to 10 min. It should be sticky but not wet. Cut or form 8 equal pieces, and form into smooth balls. Now for the fun part, coat each ball with one teaspoon of ghee (yes..that is a lot and the ball will shine with ghee :)). Arrange in a single layer on a plate, cover lightly, and allow them to rest at room temperature for at least 6 hours (The dough can be made a day ahead upto this point and refrigerated. 
2.  Prepare your workspace: If the dough was prepared the day ahead, let come to a warm room temperature. Most likely our kitchens are cold, so it is important to thaw or warm the dough. You can microwave it for 10 sec intervals till it is elastic and easier to work with.  I did not use a surface like recommend and found it easier to use my pizza pan and I coated that and my hands liberally with ghee.
3.   Stretch the dough into a sheet: Put 1 tsp. of ghee in center of the buttered work area; arrange one dough ball in the center. Press with your buttered palm to flatten dough into a 6-inch disk, less than 1/4 inch (0.6 cm.) thick, slightly thinner around edges. Basically try to spread/stretch it as thin as you can on all sides.
4.  Making the roti canai: The method I used was just to fold the stretched piece in 1 inch strips, all along the way. Then go ahead and roll it like shown in the picture to form a round. Then press it out to flatten and stretch a little bit. Just cook on the tava with a little bit of ghee, (yes this is the last you will use it) until it browns on both sides. 
  1. Serve hot with some Malaysian Potato Curry.
Source :  I read a lot and then used the following sources to make this Roti Canai. I followed the recipe directly from here which was originally posted in the Rasa Malaysia site. I also liked the link from Chef in you.  

  1. This recipe calls for a decent amount of ghee. So if you are faint of heart, don't attempt.
  2. This recipe will leave your kitchen messy, so don't do it after you have cleaned your kitchen, in fact do it before and then do your cleaning, or even if you don't it does not matter, the ghee will make everything glisten :D
  3. You will have new respect for the Kawan Paratha and that it has only 220 calories per paratha :)
  4. All said and done, try it to feel your heart and stomach swell with pride!

Malaysian Potato curry

Feb 7th 2011

The original Malaysian curry that goes with the Malaysian Roti Canai is a Chicken Curry. You get a vegetarian one in most Malaysian Restaurants and this is my version from modifying a couple of chicken curry recipes I have seen and also from what I have tasted in the restaurants. This is extremely easy and goes well with just plain rice too. For an easy meal just make this and use Kawan Paratha.

Difficulty level : Easy

Time: 20 min ( Prep Time), 15 min ( Cooking Time)


  • 2 potatoes medium sized ( pressure cooked, peeled and broken into small pieces)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 and half onion (chopped finely)
  • 3-4 pods garlic
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red chilly powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp MDH Chicken curry masala (The masala is vegetarian)
  • salt to taste
  • oil
  • 1 cup water

Method de Preparation

  1. Boil the potatoes in the pressure cooker, allow 2-3 whistles and after they cool, peel it and break into small pieces. Don't mash fully.
  2. Take oil in a pan, add the peeled, crushed garlic and when they brown, add the finely chopped onions. Saute well. When they are done, add the powders (turmeric, chilly and chicken curry) and then the potatoes too. Saute briefly.
  3. Add salt and then reduce heat and add the coconut milk. Add along with that 3/4 or 1 can of water too. Taste and add salt as needed. Allow everything to come together or warm slightly.
  4. Turn off heat pretty soon else the milk might separate. Serve in a bowl as a dipping sauce for the Roti Canai or with rice.
Optional : Season with some chopped cilantro.

  1. The chicken curry masala uses only spices and is not non-vegetarian. You can check the ingredients if you are doubtful. The flavors are just strong as needed for meat.
  2. If you want a very thick curry, reduce the water and use only 3/4 of the can. Don't use low fat coconut milk, it won't taste as good.
  3. I will post a picture for this soon, as soon as I get to that part :) Until then at least you have the recipe.

Anaheim Pepper Mirch Masala

Jan 22nd 2011

I feel kinda sad when I am posting this recipe because it reminds me that I no longer spend time looking at other blogs and all the interesting dishes being tried out. Family and work seem to consume more time than usual leaving me much less time to spend on hobbies and what I consider luxuries :) But again, I will resume someday, until then..peace.

When I first saw the recipe for this dish, it was the photo that enticed me to try it out. And additionally my husband can tolerate a lot more spice than I can. Hence I wanted to give this a try. But I knew starting out that I was not going to use green chillies. Instead I settled with Anaheim Peppers which are spicy but still not as much as the green chillies themselves.

I ate these with chappatis but they would go well with plain white rice too. This tasted very good and is a nice option as a side-dish. Just be sure to have some water handy :)

Difficulty level : Medium

Time: 10 min ( Prep Time), 30 min ( Cooking Time)


    • Anaheim Peppers: 5 to 6 nos (cut in cubes)
    • Mustard seeds (1 tsp)
    • Cumin seeds (1 tsp)
    • Fenugreek seeds (1/2 tsp)
    • Onion  1 to 1 1/2 (finely chopped)
    • Turmeric powder (1/2 tsp)
    • Ginger garlic paste (tbsp)
    • Red chilli powder ( 1 to 1/2 tsp)
    • Coriander powder (1/2 tsp)
    • Cumin powder (1/2 tsp)
    • Yogurt (1/2 cup)
    • Tamarind paste (1 tsp)
    • Salt (to taste)

    Roast and grind
    • Cinnamon 1 or 2 strips
    • Cloves- 2 nos
    • Red chillies - 4 nos
    • Coriander seeds (2 tbsp)
    • Peanuts (2 tbsp)
    • Sesme seeds (2 tbsp)
    • Coconut (2 tbsp)
    • Oil (2 tbsp)
    Method de Preparation
    1. Take little bit of oil in a pan, take all the ingredients in roast and grind and do just that - roast slightly and then grind when cooled. Keep aside.
    2. Heat oil in a pan add mustard seeds followed by cumin seeds, fenugrek seeds, ginger garlic paste and onions.
    3. Fry the onions till they become translucent and add the anaheim peppers.
    4. Saute for a few minutes and then add turmeric powder followed by red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder.
    5. Fry it for 2 minutes and add about 1/3 cup water.
    6. Add the yogurt and the ground paste and finally the tamarind paste.
    7. Add some more water (1/3 cup) and allow it to boil for 10 -15 minutes. Do the pinch and squeeze method to check that the anaheim peppers are cooked. Turn off heat
    8. Serve hot with chappathis or rice.
    Source :  From Arthi on  Spicy Tasty

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Parikkai Pitlai ( Bittergourd Lentil Soup)

    Jan 18th 2011

    I know what you are thinking - bitter-gourd, really? But trust me, this lentil soup has its own special taste that will intrigue you if not wanting you to crave more. And also feel free to replace the bitter-gourd with Sundakkai (or Turkey Berry).

    While the healing effects of this particular vegetable could be questionable for diabetes, read more here; there is no doubt about the fact that it has its virtues, so without further ado, here is the recipe.

    Difficulty level : Medium

    Time: 20 min ( Prep Time), 20 min ( Cooking Time)

    • Toor dhal ( 1 cup) cooked in the pressure cooker with water in the ratio 1:3
    • Tamarind ( a small lemon size ball)  or 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
    • Garbanzo beans ( a handful cooked - canned and drained is fine)
    • Chopped bitter-gourd ( 1 to 1 1/2 small nos)
    • Jaggery or brown sugar ( a pinch or more)
    • turmeric powder ( a pinch)
    To season
    • oil
    • mustard ( 1 tbsp)
    • urad dhal  (1 tbsp)
    • curry leaves ( 3 nos)
    • Salt to taste
    Roast and grind
    • piece of asafoetida
    • 1 tbsp chana dhal
    • 1 tbsp urad dhal
    • red chillies (2-3 nos)
    • 1 tsp pepper corn
    • 1/2 tbsp scraped coconut
    • oil
    Method de Preparation
    1. Take a little bit of oil, slightly roast all the ingredients in the Roast and Grind list and grind once cooled. Forget about this for sometime now.
    2. Take a vessel and add the extracted tamarind solution. Extract tamarind juice by soaking it in water, squeezing pulp, and repeat till water no longer turns brown in color. Easy way is to heat the tamarind in water for a  min in the microwave. This softens the pulp and allows you to extract the juice easily. Meaning extract about 1 to 1 1/2 cups tamarind water from the tamarind pulp or the tamarind concentrate in which case just mix it with the water.
    3. Add salt and turmeric and the bitter-gourd and allow to cook.
    4. After about 5 min, check to see that the bitter-gourd is cooked, pick and squish method :)
    5. If it is, add the garbanzo beans and allow to boil for a min or two.
    6. Then add the ground ingredients and the cooked thoor dhal.
    7. Add salt and jaggery to taste and allow everything to come together turning off heat shortly.
    8. Season with mustard, urad dhal and curry leaves fried in oil. Serve hot with rice and appalam :)
    Variations:  If you like, use lesser bitter-gourd and more garbanzos.

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