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Wonton Wrapper Samosa

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Wonton Wrapper Samosa

Wonton Wrapper Samosa

I’ve had wonton wrappers sitting in my freezer since err….I can’t really remember. Actually I buy a lot of stuff at the grocery store which I don’t really needand when I am in the act of buying it, I have visions that include dreamy, beautiful and totally stunning plating of the end product. What happens in reality is that they languish in the deep recesses of my fridge, freezer or pantry cupboard and after a few months, depending on their state, they get used in something totally ordinary or they get trashed.

A packet of wonton wrappers was one such item I picked up imagining great parties being thrown around wontons and spring rolls. But like a blot on my conscience, every time I opened the freezer, the pack of wrappers would guilt trip me! This weekend, I made samosas with them. I usually do not deep fry at home, I am terrified of filling a kadai with oil and God knows I don’t need to eat anything deep fried. But I felt those wrappers had patiently waited to come out of the freezer for so long that they did deserve their own kadai of hot oil.

I was doing an Iftar food coloumn for Hans India, the paper I write for and wanted to include a recipe for samosas which are one of the most popular Iftar foods (in Hyderabad). These wonton wrappers make samosa making a breeze, if you have a dry leftover sabzi or even some chicken or mutton keema, it can be shredded and used as a stuffing. The wrappers make for a terrifically crunchy outer covering which is my favourite part. In fact the outer covering is very much like the Hyderabadi Chota Samosa. For those of us who have eaten and relished onion filled Chota samosa, being able to replicate the taste and texture of them in a home kitchen is a big score!

Wonton Wrapper Samosa

Wonton Wrapper Samosa

Wonton Wrapper Samosa (Makes 20)

20 wonton wrappers (easily available in the frozen food section of a supermarket)

1 cup filling of choice –

(I used a dry Aloo filling for half and a chicken mince filling for the other half. The recipe for chicken mince filling is mentioned below)

oil to deep fry

1 tablespoon flour mixed with 2 tablespoons of water to make a ‘glue’


Spread the wonton wrapper on a flat surface covered with a kitchen towel.

Fold one corner of it over the rest of the wrapper to form a triangle, fold over again to form a pocket. Here’s a helpful video on samosa folding.

Spoon in 1 tablespoon of filling into the pocket, cover the loose flap and seal with the glue, set aside. Repeat with all the wrappers.

Heat the oil in a kadai drop the samosa into the oil carefully, fry till golden, turning over to cook all sides. Use a spoon to remove the golden samosas, place onto tissue paper to drain and serve when still hot.

Chicken Mince for Samosa Filling

250 grams Chicken mince

1 medium onion finely sliced

1-2 green chillies chopped finely

¼ cup fresh coriander leaves

½ teaspoon ginger and garlic paste

¼ teaspoon cumin powder

2 tablespoons oil

salt and pepper to taste




Heat oil in a pan, wash the mince and set aside.

Add the onions and green chillies to the hot oil and saute till they are just turning golden brown. Add the ginger garlic and saute for a minute.

Add the Chicken mince and saute till the colour changes to opaque.

Add the salt, pepper, cumin and coriander leaves, mix well, cover and cook on a low flame for 10-12 minutes or till the mince is turning a light shade of brown. Turn off and cool.


Eggless Pistachio Cake with Thandai Buttercream

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Pistachio Cake with Thandai Buttercream

Pistachio Cake with Thandai Buttercream

I’ve been going over my food pictures over and over again for the last hour. I’ve missed writing here. A lot has been happening and I wrote about it here. Dismal little has been said here. I miss writing here, sometimes the words fail me, sometimes I’m too tired, I have about 25 draft posts and yet nothing to publish. I haven’t been cooking much, definitely nothing fancy and blog worthy. Sometimes I just want to post something, but even that I haven’t been able to…

I’ll start with this cake. I made it last Diwali. Yes that’s a long time ago, but wait, I have pictures that date back to about 5 years ago that will probably never get posted here, or anywhere else. So its ok I think to be posting stuff from not older than a year ago.

So about this cake, it started with wanting to make something with an Indian mithai flavour. One of my favourite Indian sweets is the Pista roll, very similar to kaju katli, but the flavour of pistachios and the colour just gets me as excited as a child each time. I made this cake eggless since I took some of it to share with K’s parents who don’t eat eggs. I used a little buttercream to pretty it up and cut the cake into squares. You can also bake this batter as cupcakes in a paper lined muffin tray.




Eggless Pistachio Cake

2/3 cup                  Milk at room temp

3 Tablespoons       Yoghurt/ curd

1 teaspoon             Pistachio essence

1 1/2 cups              Maida

1/4 cup                  Ground Pistachios

3/4 cup                  Sugar

1/2 teaspoon          Salt

1 1/2 teaspoon       Baking powder

a pinch                   Baking soda

7 tablespoons         Vegetable Oil

1/2 teaspoon          green food colour (optional – I used this)

Preheat oven to 350F / 180 C. Line an 8 inch square cake pan with paper and grease.

Powder the sugar till fine. Add the maida, ground pistachios, salt, baking powder and baking soda to a mixing bowl and whisk with a fork or a spoon to mix together.

Whisk together the milk, yoghurt, pista essence, colour if using and oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and with a wooden spoon or a hand held whisk, mix till well blended.

The batter should fall in thick ribbons. Pour the batter into the cake pan and tap it to remove air bubbles.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before slicing into 16 equal squares.

To make the buttercream

1/2 cup    Butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cup   Confectioner’s Sugar / Icing Sugar

2 tablespoons Thandai syrup (substitute with 2 tablespoons milk mixed with crushed cardamom pods, rose petals and a few drops of rose essence)

A few drops of pista essence and green food colour

With a hand beater, beat the butter until it is creamy. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time and whisk till fluffy. Add the thandai syrup, essence and colour and beat. Taste and adjust for sweetness or flavour. Place a star tip nozzle in a piping bag or in a ziplock bag and add the buttercream to it. Press out swirls or rosettes onto each square piece of the cake. Serve with some tea or coffee or with a scoop of icecream as dessert.

{Eating Out ~ The Anglo Indian Food Soiree at Kanak, Trident, Hyderabad

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Anglo Indian food has been a closely guarded cuisine, accessible only to those with close connections with families of Anglo Indian origin. Having grown up with a smattering of Anglo Indians in the family and subsequently having close friendships with them, I am privy to their life – their food, fashion and quirks. If one thing is clear, it is their love for the good life and that includes good food. Anglo Indians love their mince, several of their dishes use minced meat of chicken or mutton and beef liberally ranging from cutlets to their version of kofta curries called ball curry. However this is a cuisine that is slowly dying and in need of more attention and credit. A lot of the populace has migrated overseas and the ones that remain, have integrated with other communities via marriage, such that it is rare to find a true blue Anglo Indian.

The cuisine is no doubt a legacy of the British Raj, who trained Indian Cook staff at their establishments such as the Railway service, Mail service, Clubs and corporate establishments. Soon trained butlers were confident enough to marry very western preparations such as cutlets, roasts and steaks with locally available produce and very Indian spices of red chillies, pepper, cumin and cloves. As the empire spanned the length and breadth of the country, influences of Bengal, Kerala and the coasts is unmistakable in the use of mustard oil, potatoes, coconut milk and tamarind amongst others.

I was invited by Trident Hyderabad to sample the food at their ongoing Anglo Indian Food Soiree, at Kanak their speciality Indian Restaurant.

Chicken Pantras

Chicken Pantras

We started with  the Chicken Pantras ~ pancakes stuffed with minced chicken, parsley and with a hint of spice from the cinnamon and cloves. Subtle and yet flavoursome, this is a must try dish.

Fruit and Vegetable Grilled Salad

Fruit and Vegetable Grilled Salad

Next up was the Grilled fruits and  Vegetables Salad ~ fruit such as pears and green apple, skewered alternatively with sweet potato, tomatoes and pickled gherkins. This the chef told us, the inclusion of grilled fruit and vegetables was a very british inclusion. I liked the taste and texture of the pear and apple, but didn’t like the extreme acid of the pickled gherkins.

Vegetarians will love the Rawalpindi Potato Scones ~ patties made of indulgent ingredients such as potatoes and cheese, subtly flavoured with herbs and Kashmiri chilli. These scones are melt in the mouth and very filling. A must try for potato and cheese lovers.

Travancore Fried Fish

Travancore Fried Fish

Travancore Fried Fish took me by surprise. The menu takes into account all of the places that have Anglo Indian population and Chef Manik Magotra has included dishes from all over the country, some which rightfully deserve more attention. I will be honest that Kingfish is’nt a favourite of mine. Usually it ends up tasting very woody either because it is not prepared well or stored (frozen) properly. The minimal spices in the Travancore Fried Fish made sure the fish stands out and yet is succulent. With a squeeze of lime, this was one was a winner.

Railway Mutton Curry

Railway Mutton Curry

We moved onto the main course and I was most excited to try the famous Railway Mutton Curry. Legend has it that this curry was made palatable to the mild British palette by reducing the fiery hotness of the spices with the addition of coconut milk or / and yogurt. The Mutton curry was first served on the East Indian railway lines and hence has a strong Bengali influence. Soft pieces of lightly fried potato perfectly mingled with succulent pieces of mutton in a well spiced but nuanced gravy made with dried red chillies and whole spices. This is one curry that has gained popularity and is well recognised.

Dak Bunglow Murgi Roast

Dak Bunglow Murgi Roast

The dish of the evening tho, was the Dak Bunglow Murgi Roast. Stories about the history of these dishes abound. Mostly legends make up where authenticity fails. The British empire apart from establishing the network of rails, which gave birth to many a recipes that were served to passengers enroute, the mail system which employed a relay of men for delivery gave rise to the Dak Bunglow – dak meaning post and Bunglow meaning house. These relay carriers would have to rest enroute and hence they stayed at these houses, staffed by the Indians, usually in really small places with very little access to ingredients etc. The cooks employed at these places used their ingenuity to come up with recipes that married the methods and dishes of the British with locally available and Indian ingredients and spices. This dish is a perfect example of this method. Chicken is marinated with very Indian spices and slow roasted to perfection, roasting was a very western method of cooking. It is served with a thick gravy spiced liberally with whole pepper corns and accompanies either rice, vegetables or bread. The chicken was succulent, the gravy robust and it was easily my favourite dish of the meal.

The other famous dishes such as Country Captain Chicken Curry and a Shrimp and Egg Curry is also on offer.

Vegetable and Paneer Jhalfrezi

Vegetable and Paneer Jhalfrezi

Subz aur Paneer Jalfarezi ~ assorted vegetables and paneer tossed in spices and thick tomato sauce is a vegetarian main course option. I was pleasantly informed by the Chef that Jalfarezi was a very fusion recipe, I’d always assumed it was a punjabi dish.  A word that according to wikipedia combines the Bengali colloquial word ‘Jhal’ meaning spicy food and parhezī means suitable for a diet. This meant that leftover meat was stir fried with onions and spices and made suitable for eating, in a time when eating leftovers was not an allowed Hindu practice.

Bamboo and Bhindi Quoorma

Bamboo and Bhindi Quoorma

The unique combination of Bamboo and Bhindi Quoorma ~ Okra and Bamboo shoot in a light Quorma gravy was the discovery of the day. Whole okra, soft and simmered with the crunchy bamboo shoot was very unique and I loved both the flavour and texture of the dish. Having only eaten Bamboo shoots in oriental cuisine, this was a delightful surprise.

Doll Churchuree

Doll Churchuree

The Anglo Indians love their “doll curries” lentils simmered again in very little spices, Doll is dal in a new avatar. The Doll Churchuree, with the medley of atleast 4 lentils I could make out (bengal gram, moong, tur and black gram) and simmered with apples, raisins and Indian spices was silky smooth and gained from the individual textures so unique to each lentil. The apples and raisins adding a delicate tart and sweetness to the dish. Pale in colour, this dal dish is very rich in flavour and taste and is  a must have with Indian flat breads like naan or lachcha paratha.

To mop up all the gravies, we were served a subtly fragrant saffron rice.

Shahi Tukra

Shahi Tukra

To end the delightfully nostalgic meal, we had a rich Shahi Tukhra, deep fried pieces of bread, soaked in sugar syrup and flavoured with saffron, topped with indulgent rabri. This was a little on the sweeter side, as is typical of all Indian sweets.

It is rare that food of this kind finds its way to a food festival. The effort, research and intention is admirable and very visible. The Anglo Indian food festival is available on A La Carte and set menus based on the selections made by the guest on request are also available.

Recomended Dishes: Chicken Pantras, Bamboo Bhindi Quoorma, Dak Bunglow Murgu Roast, Doll Churchuree

Dates of the Festival: 16th June to 28th June 2015

Price: A meal for two (A la carte) would be approximately Rs. 3500 + Taxes.

Hours: 7.30 pm to midnight.

Location: Kanak, Trident Hyderabad, Hitech City, Hyderabad

Credit Card Accepted: Yes

Valet Parking: Available

Telephone: 91 40 6623 2323

PS: The meal was complimentary as I was invited by the hotel to the restaurant, however the views are my own.

{Eating out ~ New Menu} at Firdaus, Taj Krishna

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The Indian fine dining restaurant Firdaus at Taj Krishna in Hyderabad has always served up dishes to best showcase Deccan and North West Frontier cuisine that it represents. Guests have always come back with an experience to remember, with great food and terrific luxurious service. I was invited a couple of weeks ago to sample the new menu. Chef Nitin Mathur and his team have spent a lot of time and passion researching dishes that would be worthy of representation. Several signature and star dishes from the original menu remain, while new ones to regale guests have been added.

We started with Murgh Jahangiri Shorba which is a creamy chicken broth, flavoured with tomatoes and Indian spices. Served with a small bite of a tava paratha on the side, it was a god start to the meal. I am not very fond of soups and consider them appetite killers contrary to them being touted as appetizers. But this soup with its deep flavours was quite nice. The vegetarian offering was a Bhuni Mirch Makai ka Shorba and quite honestly this was the better of the soups. The flavours of the roasted Mirch and Makai (corn) added so much depth of flavour to the soup.

Sangri Lal Mirch Ka Kabab

Sangri Lal Mirch Ka Kabab

My favourite part of the meal is the appetizer course. I almost always enjoy starters and dessert much more than the main course. From the vegetarian selection, we had the Sangri lal mirch ka kebab. Sangri is a sort of bean or a pod that grows in the desserts and is dried for future use. In this dish, the rehydrated sangri is combined with special fiery mathania chillies from Rajasthan and made into kebabs and pan fried. The Sangri takes on a meaty texture and is very robust, lending this kebab good body.

Makai Motiya Seekh

Makai Motiya Seekh

The next item was the Makai Motiya Seekh. Seekh kebabs made out of corn. These kebabs were well spiced and the texture was creamy unlike the dry vegetable seekhs one usually has. The Jaituni Malai Paneer was a disappointment. Chunks of paneer, coated in a marinade that was almost akin to a tapanede, the olives were lost on me and what remained was just oven cooked paneer chunks. I gave this one a miss for seconds.

Kakori Kebab

Kakori Kebab

Non vegetarians always have prized pickings at the appetizers especially with Deccan and North Western cuisine, both well known for their meat heavy kebabs. Kebabs were meant to be made with meat anyway, so the variety that is available is always good. We were served three different starters from their selection. The Kakori Kebab always has me drooling. Meat pounded and almost creamy, mixed spices, rose petals and the nutmeg shining through. This was to be my favourite non vegetarian starter. The Pathar ka gosht, looked good, but did not deliver. The spice rub and the meat seemed to be miffed with each other, while the meat was cooked to a succulent, lending itself completely to the stone it is cooked on, the spices had a mind of their own. I was disappointed, which I told Chef Nitin Kumar about and he promised to check on it. The Kebab-e-Firdaus was a chicken starter amidst the other mutton preparations. Succulent thigh pieces marinated in yogurt and spices and cooked to perfection in the tandoor. This was my second most favourite starter after the kakori kabab.

The other guests at the table included very senior journalists and I always enjoy conversations with them about food and the ever bewildering traffic situation. When the main course arrived, I was more than ready. Firdaus has a live roti trolley, equipped with a gas burner with a chef who rolls it over to a table and doles out freshly made rotis of choice, smeared of course with ghee. Chef Nitin Kumar told us that this is one of the most endearing aspects of the restaurant and guests often exclaim that getting hot puffed up rotis at the table is a luxury reserved only for trips back to the home town, as busy lives make most of us accustomed to eating cold food.

Chef Nitin Mathur

Chef Nitin Mathur

The vegetarian dishes that comprised the main course included Laal Mirchi ka paneer, the gravy drew its intense flavours from the red chillies, Chowgra which is a well known Hyderabadi dish of mixed vegetables and the absolutely outstanding Aloo Wadi Bharta. I am not a big fan of potatoes, but the flavour and character of this dish was entirely from the home made wadis, mashed into it. How can they be homemade despite coming out of a five star restaurant kitchen you may ask. That is because the recipe is from the home of Chef Nitin Mathur’s wife. The recipe was extracted from her grandfather and after consultations with a few other members of the family, the wadis were made. This attention to detail and the dedication to get the ingredients, recipe and the preparation right is something that reflects in the menu at Firdaus.

The non vegetarian main course consisted of Murgh Tarmezi Korma which in my opinion is one of the best kormas I have eaten. Usually kormas are flavoured with fried onions, and that is a flavour which dominates. This one was a korma with flavours so subtle, I was afraid to taint it with roti and actually spooned it into my mouth as is. The white gravy in total contrast to the usual brown and orange ones we are so used to, is delicate and creamy with the ground cashew paste. The Korma was to be my favourite main course dish of the day.

Next we sampled the Kaddu ka Dalcha. Now let me tell you, if one has grown up around a Hyderabadi house one has had many encounters with this Hyderabadi staple. I for one, am very critical of all the dalchas I encounter, only because my mother makes a really fabulous one and two because I’ve been surrounded by families who make terrific ones. Being spoilt for choice, it is rather rare to settle for anything less. I am happy to report that the Kaddu Dalcha was outstanding. It tasted of home, which I suppose is a compliment to a Five star hotel kitchen – just the right tang from the tamarind extract, pieces of bottle gourd and creamy lentils.  Again Chef Nitin Mathur informed us, that a detailed discussion on the preparation methods, the use of lentils etc. led the team to choose this variant over the others. I have always had dalcha that uses a combination of chana and tur dal and I find that the flavour is much deeper and the chana also acts as a thickening agent. This was the same combination and I ate the dalcha as is. Usually mutton is added to the non vegetarian version which again adds to the flavour, but this one was terrific even at the cost of repeating myself.

I gave a cursory taste nod to the Subz Biryani and the Kache Gosht ki Biryani. Both good, and have been firm favourites on their menu, and why not, we are in Hyderabad afterall! The biryanis were accompanied by Mirchi ka salan and raita.

Melt in the mouth Dahi Wada

Melt in the mouth Dahi Wada

There was also ‘melt in the mouth’ Dahi Wada garnished with chutney.

The menu offers many more well recognised dishes such as Paya Shorba (broth of roasted lamb trotters), Dum ka paneer (Paneer cubes cooked in a gravy that’s rich with cream and flavoured with brown onions). There is also the classic Shikampuri (Lamb kebabs with yogurt, mint and finely chopped onions stuffed into the centre) and of course the much loved Gongura Mamsam (lamb cooked with tangy sorrel leaves)

Dessert Platter

Dessert Platter

The Dessert platter that was served had some classics – Double ka Meetha which is one of my favourite Hyderabadi desserts. Again the twist here was that it was firmer than it usually is and much less sweet and the distinctive flavour of saffron that was used in the soaking syrup. Sometimes Indian sweets can be overwhelmingly sweet and it was good that this one wasn’t because it was a delight. We also had some Badam ka Kund, which was very similar in taste and texture to the Moongdal halwa (which I don’t much care for). But the best was the Kulfi – Handmade Kulfi, rich and creamy with all the goodness of malai (cream), decadent and the hint of Chikki (peanut and sugar brittle) elevating it completely. Topped with good old Rabdi and Sabja (basil) seeds which give it a very Falooda on a plate feel. There was also freshly cut fruit.

For me, this delightful meal felt special because of the attention to detail with the selection and construction of recipes. Each one carefully chosen, well researched and ingredients sourced carefully. This is a reflection of the passion of the Chef. He spoke to us about each recipe in great detail and there was no question that went unanswered.

Firdaus at Taj Krishna, Banjara Hills


Appetizers:Sangri lal mirch ka kebab, Kakori Kebab

Main course: Aloo Wadi Bharta, Murgh Tarmezi Korma, Kaddu ka Dalcha

Desserts: Double ka Meetha

Hours: Lunch: 12:30 PM To 03:30 PM
Dinner: 07:30 PM To 11:30 PM

Location: Taj Krishna, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad

Credit Card Accepted: Yes

Valet Parking: Available

Telephone: 040-66293306  (Reservations are recommended)

PS: The meal was complimentary as I was invited by the hotel to the restaurant, however the views are my own.

Spiced Pumpkin and Carrot Multigrain Loaf

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garam masala spiced pumpkin loaf

garam masala spiced pumpkin loaf

I posted this picture to my instagram account and a lot of friends asked for the recipe. I thought I would do a quick post. I teach this in my healthy baking workshop and students are usually quite surprised at the soft texture which I believe is largely due to pumpkin puree.

I have a special love for yellow pumpkin. I love it as a vegetable, made into a really tangy curry, the way we make it in the south, stir fried with minimal spices and eaten with roti, and as a base for creamy soups minus any cream. But I love baking with pumpkin. The puree of yellow pumpkin lends itself beautifully to rolls and loaves and makes eggless baking particularly moist and soft. Fruit and vegetable purees are great if one wants to do any of the following:

1) Bake eggless versions of cakes and loaves

2) Cut back on sugar and fat

3) Bake with wholegrain flours because coarser flours need more moisture and purees are perfect for this

So this is a recipe that has very little fat, I used vegetable oil, but feel free to use melted butter in the same amount. I’ve used powdered organic jaggery for sweetness. I love using garam masala to bake with, for one it is easily accessible on the kitchen shelf and has great depth of flavour due to the blend of spices over a single spice like nutmeg (to which I am very partial) or cinnamon.

Spiced Pumpkin and Carrot Multigrain Loaf

(Makes one 9 inch loaf)

1+1/4  cup Whole wheat flour

1/2 cup Powdered oats (I use quick cooking oats, powdered in the blender)

¼ cup Ragi flour

2 teaspoons Baking powder

1 teaspoon Baking soda/ soda bi carb

½ teaspoon Salt

2 teaspoons Garam masala powder (or a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of pepper)

3/4 cup Grated Jaggery/ palm sugar/ brown sugar

½ cup Vegetable oil

1 Egg (replace with 1/4 cup milk+ 1/2 teaspoon vinegar)

2/3 cup Pumpkin puree (pressure cook or boil chunks of peeled and deseeded yellow pumpkin till fully cooked and puree in a blender with a splash of water)

½ cup Grated yellow pumpkin

½ cup Grated carrot

½ cup raisins

½ cup Walnuts/ Almonds (optional, I did’nt add them)

  • Sift the flours with the salt, baking powder, baking soda, garam masala powder and set aside. Mix in the grated carrot and pumpkin with the flour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a 9 inch loaf pan / baking pan.
  • Beat together the oil, egg, pumpkin puree. Add the jaggery/ brown sugar to the wet ingredients and whisk till well mixed.
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 batches and fold in gently.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes or till a tester comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan  for 10 minutes and transfer to  a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Chinese Takeaway Style ~ Sweet and Sour Five Jewel Vegetable

I have a confession to make! I have my neighborhood bar & restaurant on speed dial. They are essentially a mid sized bar, but they make such good food that I would recommend them to anyone craving cheap(er than a restaurant) and cheerful takeaways. Nothing ordered in the last 5+ years has disappointed. They make the best non typical Hyderabadi Biryani (which is spicy of-course, but also boneless), melt in your mouth Paneer Tikka and Palak Paneer and totally soul satisfying (oily) Indian Chinese. I do ask for the oil to be toned down.

Why am I waxing eloquent about Holi Bar and Restaurant in a post on home made Chinese(y) food? Because although takeaway is a speed dial away, I generally try not to order food more than once a month. When the craving hits and my fridge is suitably stocked, I find ways to experiment and make it at home. Pair a saucy hot and spicy gravy with simple Sesame noodles or Rice steamed with one pod of star anise, and we are set.

Cooking at the Escapades kitchen happens quite quickly. The most tedious chore however is chopping vegetables. So about once a week, when I shop for vegetables, I try and prep most of the vegetables which won’t wilt or spoil when cut, to speed up the cooking process during weekdays. Harder vegetables like beans, carrots, cauliflower etc get chopped up and stored. There was an assortment of vegetables chopped into bite sized chunks which I intended to make a stir fry out of, which I used for this dish.

Sweet and Sour Five Jewel Vegetables

Sweet and Sour Five Jewel Vegetables

Sweet and Sour Five Jewel Vegetables (Serves 2)

4-5 florets Cauliflower

1 medium Carrot, peeled and sliced

½ Red bell pepper, sliced

½ Yellow bell pepper, sliced

10-12 French beans, stringed and cut into 2 inch sticks

1 large Onion, sliced

½ inch Ginger, grated

2 tablespoons Tomato Sauce

1 teaspoon Vinegar

1 teaspoon Sugar

1 tablespoon Chilli sauce

1 teaspoon Soya sauce

2 tablespoon Corn flour

½ teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons Sesame oil (or vegetable oil)

1 teaspoon Sesame seeds (for the garnish)

one sprig spring onions, sliced for garnish


Steam the cauliflower, carrot and beans in a microwave for 5 minutes.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the grated ginger and sliced onions together. Stir fry the onions till they have barely turned translucent.

Add the sliced red and yellow bell peppers and stir, cover and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the rest of the steamed vegetables after draining the water, cover and steam everything for about 2 minutes. The vegetables should be cooked but still retain crunch and colour.

Stir together in a small bowl, the soya sauce, tomato ketchup, chilli sauce, sugar, vinegar and corn flour. Add ¼ cup of water to this and mix well, ensuring there are no lumps. Add this mixture to the steamed vegetables and mix.

Simmer for another 2 minutes, while covered, till the gravy has thickened, sprinkle the pepper. Turn off the heat, check for salt and add if needed (the sauces have salt). Sprinkle some sesame seeds, sliced spring onions and serve hot with steamed rice or noodles.

Death by Chocolate

Right in time for Valentine’s day! This is a sinful, decadent and totally indulgent cake. Four layers of moist rich chocolate cake, slathered on and finished with Chocolate Ganache.

Make the cake sponges a couple of days ahead, cling wrap them and leave them in the fridge. Even the butter cream and ganache can be made ahead and assembled a day ahead. This cake tastes best after it has been refrigerated and left to soak in all the flavours. If you love all things Chocolatey, this is the cake for you!

Death by Chocolate Cake

Death by Chocolate Cake

Death By Chocolate Cake (Makes 2 – 8 inch cakes)

1+1/2 cups Sugar

1-3/4 cups All-purpose flour

3/4 cup Cocoa Powder

1-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1-1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Salt

2   Eggs

2/3 cup Milk

1/2 cup Vegetable oil

2 teaspoons Vanilla essence

1/2 cup Boiling water

1 cup Soaking syrup (recipe below)

3 cups   Chocolate ganache (recipe below)


Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.

Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter equally into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely before frosting. If not frosting the same day, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate till needed.

Soaking syrup:

1/2 cup Water

2 tablespoons Sugar

1 teaspoon Instant coffee

1 teaspoon Coffee liqueur (optional)

Heat the water with the sugar and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and cool completely. Mix in the coffee and liqueur if using and set aside till required.

PS: This cake is a very moist cake, the soaking syrup is optional.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting (Makes 4 cups)

500 grams Chocolate Chunks

200 grams Cream (one small tetrapack, regular cream, not heavy cream)

1 teaspoon Instant Coffee Powder (optional)

Chop the chocolate into chunks and melt in the MW for 60 seconds.

Heat the cream on low heat till it begins to come to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces, cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir gently without creating any air, add the coffee powder at this stage and mix till glossy.

After the ganache cools down, it will become firm, to loosen the ganache, heat gently in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir.

Cool to room temperature before using.

Note: Prepared ganache can be stored in the fridge for a month in an airtight box. Reheat to use.

Assemble the cake:

Once the cakes have cooled, trim off the tops to level them and slit each cake into two horizontally. Or use the whole cakes as they are for a more rustic looking cake.

Place one slice of the cake on the cake board. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the syrup to soak it. Wait for a minute and add ¼ cup of ganache in the middle and spread evenly.

Leave ½ inch of the corners free. Place another slice of the cake on top and repeat till the fourth slice is placed. Do not soak the fourth layer.

Add a thick layer of ganache in the middle of the cake and spread with a pallette knife to smoothen it. repeat over the sides.

Let it sit in the fridge for atleast 30 minutes or upto a day. Retouch with some more ganache if there are any gaps. Dip the blade of a palette knife in hot water, quickly wipe the blade and with the hot knife, smoothen out any bulges on the cake to get a smooth finish.

Decorate with chocolate sprinkles or shavings or nuts. Set it in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Before serving, place at room temperature for 20 minutes for best results.



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