Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

From the kitchen this week: Garlic and Herb Buns, Thiruvathirai Kootu and Bachelor Biryani

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Instead of writing three posts I just thought of sharing all recipes in one post, so without a big introduction here are the recipes.

This is a bun I baked to go with some sundried tomato pesto pasta last week for dinner. You can make it as pav buns if you wanted to, just omit the herbs and garlic. I used to make aloobuns/vegetable buns posted here and I just followed the same recipe for this garlic buns too.


All purpose flour- 2 cups (I used 200 ml measuring glass)
Dry yeast- 2 tsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Sugar – 2 tbsp
Melted slightly warm butter( not room temperature butter)- 4 tbsp
Water- as needed to knead
Olive oil- 2 tsp
Butter- 1 tbsp- to brush while baking
Garlic- finely chopped- 1 tbsp

Herbs: I used Italian seasoning which has thyme, basil and I also added some red pepper flakes. Or you can use cheese!


In a wide bowl, add about 1/4 cup of warm water. Dissolve the yeast,sugar and salt, slightly whisk it to mix well. Add the flour little by little and get a crumbly texture. Then add melted butter, start kneading slowly to incorporate and then add water as per requirement and knead well to a thick dough.Keep it covered in a warm place for atleast an hour for the dough to double in volume.

After the dough doubles just sprinkle a teaspoon of flour on top if it, punch it down, divide it into equal parts, roll each part in to a ball, coat again with olive oil,sprinkle some dried herbs/garlic/red pepper flakes/cheese or a little bit of it all(!!) and cover and keep in a warm place for 10 minutes to rise.

Pre heat the oven to 375F . Bake these buns at 375 for 15-20 minutes or till the top is golden brown. Keep watching the color, it can get burnt. You can smell the aroma of buns when they are done!

The buns would have joined together(because of the rise and baking), gently separate each bun, let it cool down for 2-3 minutes. Serve with any spicy chutney or ketchup and enjoy with a hot cuppa tea or serve with pasta!

Thiruvadirai Kootu:

The next one is very special to me as I grew up in Chidambaram and the Nataraja Ther(Chariot) during the month of December along with the star Thiruvadiarai is celebrated with a traditional kali and kootu(dal). My sister and I would pull the chariot with others(a big crowd, in thousands) and then come home for this feast. The chariot festival is celebrated twice a year, once around June/July and the other in December/January. I just thought why not make the kootu for lunch instead of waiting for those special days in December.

If you think about it, this is a excellent choice for your fridge/freezer cleaning days. This kootu has to be made with 7 different vegetables and lentils as during the month of December or January it will be harvest time but for a change from pulao or biryani if you have couple of carrots, beans, lentils and garbanzo beans or kidney beans, put it all in, it tastes so divine in this kootu.


Mixed vegetables(carrots, peas, pumpkin, snake gourd,long beans, Potato,Indian eggplant)- 1 cup
Cooked Mashed toor dal- 3/4 cup
Mixed beans(cooked garbanzo beans, red kidney beans, black eyed peas)- 1/2 cup
Peanuts(soaked in water)- 2 tbsp- optional
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Tamarind water- 2 .5 cups(1/4 tsp tamarind paste in 1 cup water and add another cup as it dissolves)

For tempering:
OIl- 1 tbsp
Curry leaves- 1 spring
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Coconut- grated- 1 tbsp

For the spice powder:
Chanadal- 2 tbsp
Red chilies 3 (add another chili if you like it spicy)
Coriander seeds- 2 tbsp
Coconut- 4 tbsp


Chop the vegetables into 1″ cubes. In a pot, add these vegetables, salt and turmeric powder, tamarind water, cover and let it cook. When the vegetables are half done, add the cooked lentils and cooked beans along with the soaked peanuts. Cover the let it cook through.

In another pan toast the chana dal, red chilies, coriander seeds to a golden brown color (toast separately) and transfer it to a blender(if you toast them all together coriander seeds may burn). Just toast the coconut in the hot pan and immediately transfer to the blender before it turns brown. Let the ingredients cool down and blend them to a fine powder.

Add this powder to the kootu pot as you add the beans(half way through cooking).

Once the vegetables are cooked through, the lentils and beans are all combined, switch it off.

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, as it splutters add curry leaves. Just as you are about to pour this over the kootu, add the grated coconut to the tempering pan and pour it over the kootu. The coconut will thicken the kootu, if not you can mix 1 tbsp of rice flour with less than 1/4 cup of water and add it to the kootu when it is simmering.

Traditionally this kootu is served with kali(rice and jaggery) but we had it with plain rice and some carrot-cucumber kosamalli.

Bachelor Biryani:

Though I keep saying little R, my son is growing up to be the tall R :) And as he is about to join the “terrible two” age group those classic characterics are starting to show off- refusing to sit in the cart that he used to do before(now he wants to push it and run all over the mall), refusing to sit in a restaurant for a meal, starting to make choices(which means wearing those blue pair of shoes forever along with that same comfy pair of shirt that he likes), a big no no to the vegetables that he used to eat before, thinking that he is the boss of the house(says who??) etc etc., He is going to a summer camp for couple of hours a week and apart from the usual places I take R to, dropping him and picking him up is another job for me these days! So after a long list of complaints about the stuff I have to do all week, N took over cooking and made this biryani for the weekend- this is so simple, one pot dish and he used to make this for me couple of years back.

This is how it it goes:
Basmati rice(soaked in water)- 1 cup
Onion- medium size- 1
Tomatoes- 2, chopped
Mixed vegetables(carrots, beans, peas, cauliflower, potatoes and even paneer if you like)- all together- 1 cup
Green chili-1
Mint leaves- half a bunch
Cilantro- half a bunch
Coconut-1/4 cup
Garam masala powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil- 2 tbsp
Fennel seeds- 3/4 tsp
For garnish- finely chopped cilantro and mint leaves


Keep aside about 1/4 of the onion for stir frying and chop them finely. Chop the rest of the onion into cubes. Heat a tsp of oil in a pan, add cubed onions ,tomatoes and salt and stir fry well for 4-5 minutes. Now add the mint leaves, Green chili,cilantro and stir fry again for another 3-4 minutes. Transfer the contents to a blender, add coconut and bled it to a smooth paste(adding little amount of water if necessary).

Heat oil in a pressure pan or cooker, add fennel seeds. When they start to sizzle, add the chopped onions and salt and fry till onions turn transclucent. Now add other chopped vegetables and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Drain water from the rice and add it to the pan, mix them gently.

Measure the ground masala paste, if it measures to one cup you will need one more cup of water to cook the rice(Rice to water 1:2). So pour the masala paste, required amount of water and add the garam masala powder. Mix gently and cover and cook on medium flame for one whistle. See, this is so easy compared to the marinades/frying/dum biryanis, right?

After the pressure cooker has cooled down, open the cooker and gently separate the rice grains with a fork. Garnish with cilantro and mint leaves and serve hot with any raitha and chips!

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Two desserts at two extremes

Monday, June 18th, 2012

This is something I made for Father’s day- one is my dad’s favorite and other one is a bread/muffin N likes to eat every now and then. My dad’s favorite is his speciality in cooking, as anytime any of our cousins/uncles/aunts came home this will be their first request-dad’s special Sakkarai pongal(using jaggery) as a dessert. As I was making this, I just thought- these two desserts have so much in common though they seem so different. You miss the syrup consistency or measuring rice to jaggery ratio, then sakkarai pongal will not taste like sweet pongal at all, on the other hand baking needs precise measuring of ingredients and once it is in the oven, that is it! You cannot add any missed ingredient and stir it as you like :)

I know sakkarai pongal is one of the old recipes, nothing new about it but you gotta make it to realize how many techniques are there to get that ghee dripping finger licking perfect pongal! I still hesitate to make it for a crowd and if I make it for us, I know N will adjust even if it is too thick or too thin :) I called mom after I made this and sort of confessed that yes old recipes might be old but they are second to none in taste.

For the Sweet Vellam Pongal:
Uncooked Rice- 1 cup ( I used a ladle full of rice)
Powdered Jaggery- 2 cups
Water- Less than 3/4 cup to make the syrup and 3 cups water to cook the rice
Elachi- 1/4 tsp
Nuts and raisins- 1 tbsp together (you can add more if you like)
Ghee- 5 tbsp
Red Food color- a pinch
Milk- 1 tsp to dissolve the food color


Wash the rice and cook the rice with 3 cups of water to a well cooked consistency. Mash it well while it is warm.

Soak the jaggery in water, so that it dissolves. Filter the jaggery water to remove any sand particles.

Heat 1 tsp of ghee in a pan. Fry cashews and raisins to a golden brown color. Set aside.

In a pan(non stick preferably) pour the jaggery water and let it simmer on a low medium flame. The syrup consistency is where when you leave a drop of the syrup on a cup of water it does not dissolve and is thick(or it makes a noise as it hits the vessel as they say it in tamil). This will take about 10-15 minutes, the correct amount of water added to jaggery will make it faster to get to the syrup consistency.

Now slowly add the mashed rice to this syrup and keep mixing and mashing it well till the rice absorbs the syrup and starts coming together like a mashed ball of rice.

Now slowly add ghee in 1/2 tsp quantities and let the pongal cook in ghee for 3-4 minutes. When you can see the ghee glistening on top and it looks glossy like a pongal, remove the pan from the flame. Pour the food color mixed with 1 tsp of milk to the pan, Mix well. Transfer to a serving dish.

Top the pongal with fried nuts and raisins and serve warm or chilled. Tastes good either way, and this can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. The more ghee you add, the tastier the pongal will be(obviously, right?)

My mom sometimes adds milk to the pongal and adds rock candy(kalkandu) to the pongal too. Tastes so divine, especially on a month like Margazhi(December) along with some hot ven pongal :) And even more tasty and special if dad makes it for us :)

Now for the Bread part- I asked N what he wanted for Father’s day. He said he does not need anything, but I had to make something to make it special and so I cooked one of his favorite meals- cauliflower rasam with slow roasted ennai kathirikkai kari and this bread.

For the blueberry bread:

I usually make banana bread with this recipe of mine, I only changed it a bit this time, instead of orange juice I added 1/4 cup more oil(yup, no butter) and added 1/4 cup of blueberries. N has been having this as his evening snack with tea for the past 2-3 days. You can even make it as a muffin if you do not want it as a bread.

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Coconut Macaroons

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Baking cookies or bread just makes the house smell so good in the evenings and it makes N ask the question,”Whats cooking”? as he comes home. This recipe is one of my favorites as it reminds me of the coconut biscuits sold at bakeries in India.N likes the nei biscuit(butter biscuit) and this one and the coconut-cherry filled buns are my all time favorites. My mom used to buy me these goodies on the way back home from school and when I think back of those times it just reminds of the people I love.

There are many recipes to make a macaroon- one with condensed milk and one with sugar. I like the version with sugar and I use Alton Brown’s recipe from Food Network to make these cookies. I use the dry powdered coconut sold at Indian stores for this recipe as it literally melts in the mouth when you bite into the cookie. You can also use sweetened coconut flakes but it gives a chunky feeling and kind of an oily feeling so I stick to the powdered coconut/dry coconut flakes.

You have to be very careful when you bake these macaroons- if the sugar is too much then the cookie is like a candy, if you add more coconut then it tastes dry and chunky. Adding too many egg whites makes the batter runny and you cant bake at all!

Ingredients: (I can make about 20-22 cookies with this measurement)
4 large egg whites (or about 3/4 cup egg whites if you are using break free egg products)
Salt- a pinch
Sugar- 1/2 cup
1 (8-ounce) package sweetened shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 350 F. Toast the coconut till it is light golden brown in color(whether you use powdered or sweetened toast it for 1-2 minutes).

Beat the egg whites in a stand mixer/hand mixer for about 5-7 minutes so that the egg whites form a foam and then becomes stiff like a peak when you remove the mixer. Set aside.

Slowly add the sugar and coconut and fold in the mixture without mixing it too much as it will break the fluffiness of the batter.

Using a spoon, drop a tablespoon quantity of the cookie batter into the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes till the top is golden brown.

Let it cool down. Store the cookies in an airtight container. Serve with tea or coffee in the evenings.

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Baking from a book roundup!

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Champa, who can bake anything from a cake to the tastiest of breads came up with the idea of baking from a book event and I was so happy when I had a chance to host the 4th edition here.

If you are a budding baker, these books can give you an idea- from cookies to cakes! so pick up a fork and off we go to dessert world!

Jyoti’s Plum and apple crumble from the Keelings book of Fruit.

Jyoti’s Chilli Cheese toast from Anjum Anand’s Indian Food Made Easy.

Jyoti’s Marvelous Macaroons from the 101+ Hurry -Up Cookie Recipes.

Jyoti’s Blueberry Muffins from 101 Cakes and Bakes.

Shilpa from Thoughts and Pots sent in two delicious entries:

Cinnamon Rolls from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion:

and Apple crisp from Deborah Madison’s- Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Lataji’s Eggless Ginger Biscuits from Celebrity cookbooks: Cookies Galore by Betty Saw

and Jam Sandwich Biscuits from Celebrity cookbooks: Cookies Galore by Betty Saw

Divya Kudua’s Apple Crumble with Vanilla Custard Sauce from Mallika Badrinath’s 100 Excellent Puddings

Champa’s Cumin Onion Bread Sticks from Land O Lakes book!

Lastly my Baked Kebabs from Marut Sikka’s Indian flavors.

Needless to say, Jyothi takes the cake(!) for sending in the most number of entries and she gets a award from us. Thanks to everyone who participated in the event.

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