Friday, 26 December 2014

Classic Walnut Brownies with Ganache & Chocochips | Celebration Season is in bloom

I am truly not a dessert lover but its ironical that i always enjoy making them in my kitchen. I think its the feel of dessert making which makes me create a new one every time in my house. Desserts need to be prepared with extra love and care. They ought to be. The aromas and the goodness of sweets. Aaaah! So alluring!!! 

Chocolates are an all time favorite. No age bar pls! One must never wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty and once in a while a sinful indulgence is permissible. Helps you de-stress! ;) 

Today, i bring to you to a much awaited post. Its everyone's choice and love for all. You guessed it right, bang on! Classic Walnut Brownies...those extra gooey beauties with perfect chewiness are soo decadent. Absolutely IRRESISTIBLE!

Well, it was a day before Christmas when i happened to meet a friend over a cup of coffee at Cafe Coffee Day. As always, a coffee has to be accompanied with a cake! So we called for those beautiful looking brownies showcased at the billing counter. They looked absolutely DIVINE! One bite and i was hooked onto them. I decided the next post for my blog. 

These gorgeous fudgy bites are loaded with walnuts and dark chocolate. Warm it up before serving and unravel the real happiness. When everything appear dull & boring, lighten up your day with these sinful brownies and you will know how being in Food Heaven feels like.
The recipe make 9 brownie squares of 2 inch each.


For the brownies

115 gm White butter
50 gm Unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Whole eggs
220 gms Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla essence
40 gms All purpose flour (Maida)
75 gms Chopped Walnuts
Unflavored Oil for greasing the pan

For Ganache Topping 

70 gm Dark Chocolate
5 gms White butter
40 gm Heavy Cream

For Garnish

2 tbsp Choco chips
50 gms White chocolate
Steps to follow:-

For Brownie

1. Line an 8 x 8 inch square pan with parchment paper all around the sides & bottom of the pan.
2. Grease the pan with little bit oil
3. Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
4. Melt the butter in a pan or microwave and stir in the cocoa powder.

NOTE: Mix well to avoid lumps

5. In a mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until light and frothy.
6. Further add the cocoa-butter mix and give a final blend.
7. Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in gently.
8. Add the chopped walnuts and transfer the brownie mix to the greased tin.

NOTE: The brownie batter will be very thick and you will need a spatula to spread it well in the tin. Smoothen out the surface with the help of spatula to ensure its at the same level everywhere.

9. Bake in the center of the oven shelf for 30 mins and check with a tooth pick for the doneness.
10. Do not overbake and once done remove from the oven and cool the tin before cutting into pieces.

For Ganache 

1. In a double broiler, melt the ingredients 'For Ganache' and ensure the mixture is lump free.
2. Let it cool for sometime.

Final Assembly of the Walnut Brownie

1. Spoon out ganache and spread it evenly on the brownies and let it cool down further so that it hardens a bit.
2. Spread the choco chips on the ganache
3. Melt the white chocolate in microwave and whisk it till lump free.
4. Allow it to cool for few more minutes and then fill it in an icing pen and swirl it on the top
Warm the brownies a bit for few seconds in a microwave before serving and enjoy the chocoliciousness. Absolute death by chocolate indeed!!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Paneer Lababdar | Cottage cheese in tomato gravy

Party season is in full bloom!!

We all require breather form our regular activities and relax with family & friends especially when the climate takes a steep dip to frigid temperatures. Well, Christmas is right here and New Year is round the party to banti hai! And what's a celebration without Family & Food. With family & food, fun follows invariably.

Indian households can never do away with a cottage cheese preparation when it comes to a celebration. Paneer is UBIQUITOUS! Here's one more spicy, luscious, creamy cottage cheese preparation straight from my mum's collection. It is incredibly easy to make and the tastes & flavors are to die for. 

"Lababdar" is a Hindi word that means very soft, creamy and having good mouth feel and indeed this recipe from my mum's kitchen qualifies to be the best lababdar gravy. The milkiness & creaminess from khoya & cashews gives a royal taste & texture while the assortment of mixed spices gives it a perfect punjabi tadka.

This family celebration my Punjabi Paneer lababdar dish tops the list of party menu for all vegetarian and meat lovers!

Quickly try it to know how this paneer delicacy from my Food Heaven tastes like.


Cottage Cheese (Paneer) - 150 gm (cut in 1/2 inch cubes)
Milk solids (Khoya) - 50 gm
Heavy cream/malai - 2 tbsp
Cashew nut paste - 1 tbsp
1 Capsicum (small sized) - cut in cubes
1 tomato - cut in cubes
Tomato puree - 1/2 cup
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Finely chopped onion - 1
Ginger julienne - 1/2 tsp
Green chillies - 2 (cut lengthwise)
Oil - 1 tbsp
Butter - 1 tbsp
Coriander for garnish

Spices used:-

Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Degi Mirch - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Kitchen King masala - 1 tsp
Salt as per taste

Steps to follow:-

1. Heat oil in a wok.
2. Add cumin seeds and let them crackle.
3. Add chopped onion and green chillies and saute till light pink color
4. Now add ginger garlic paste and saute for another 1 minute on a low flame.
5. Add cubed capsicum and tomatoes and bhuno for 1 minute.
6. Add the spices from the 'spices used' and further add tomato puree, cashew nut paste and milk solids.

NOTE: You can alter the spice quantities as per your taste.

7. Mix all the masala vigorously on low flame and then add paneer pieces.
8. Very softly toss the paneer in the gravy and then add butter, heavy cream and let it simmer on low flame for 2-3 minutes till the gravy thickens a bit.
9.  Lid the pan and turn off the gas.
10. Garnish with ginger julienne and chopped coriander and serve hot with tandoori roti or hot phulkas.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Baigan Chokha with Kurkura Missi Parantha | Roasted Aubergine with spices accompanied with crispy Indian bread

Food is my love and cooking is a passion. My food blog not only entails the recipes which have passed on to me from my mom or which have created on my own but also regional recipes from different states of India. I think it aptly portrays my inclination towards food as whole. 

Different regions have different spices native to that region itself. Similarly, there are special techniques and cooking methods typical to a state and region. I have traveled a lot and every time i feel amazed when i see the variety of food that we have in India. Climatic conditions and agricultural produce available in a state impacts the food type catered in a region, which is why we get too see variety of Indian breads in the northern region of India where wheat is a staple diet. 

Every regional cuisine has a story to share and has a history behind its origin. Like Awadh cuisine was a greatly influenced by Persian cuisine and came into existence in India post mughal invasion. This time my love for versatile Indian cuisine made me venture into Bihari cuisine, which is known for being healthy, rustic, wholesome and hearty! The famous combination of Litti-Chokha has come a long way from being served in road side stalls to  Deluxe restaurants. 

My today's pick is 'Chokha' which is the roasted version of its cousin Baigan Bharta which mostly served with Litti,  stuffed roasted dough balls. Aubergines have never been my favorite and i was apprehensive while i decided to cook it in my kitchen. To my surprise, the taste was phenomenal and the quickness of the dish was definitely a plus factor. My crispy missi paranthas beautifully accompanied the chokha and the duo simple rocked our palates!

Aubergine (Brinjal - Big ones) - 2 
Garlic cloves (big sized) - 4
Green chillies - 3 (You could add more if you like it extra spicy)
Ginger knob - 1"
Tomatoes - 3
Sprigs of coriander
Mustard oil - 1.5 tbsp
Mustard oil for applying on oil aubergine
Salt to taste

Steps to follow:-

1. Prick aubergines with a fork or toothpick all over and apply mustard oil
2. Roast them over the naked gas flame till the aubergines are well roasted
3. Also, roast the tomatoes on the gas till the skin gets completely charred
4. Finely chop garlic cloves, green chillies and ginger.
5. Once the aubergines and tomatoes have roasted well and have cooled down, peel off their charred skin.
6. Separately mash the aubergines and tomatoes.
7. Heat a pan and throw in the chopped garlic cloves, green chillies, ginger and roast on a low flame till the pan ingredients become fragrant and become pale brownish in color.
8. Add the roasted ingredients in the pan, to the mashed aubergines and add mashed tomatoes as well.
9. Add some salt and mustard oil.
10. Mash well and add in finely chopped coriander.

The spice quotient rendered from the roasted spices takes this chokha to a different level and the tanginess from the tomatoes makes it just perfect! To make it more wholesome, accompany it with crispy missi paranthas. I can vouch you will love it!


To Knead
Whole wheat flour (Atta) - 1 cup
Gram flour (Besan) - 1 cup
Onion (grated) - 1
Garlic cloves (grated) - 4
Green chillies - 2
Spring onions (finely chopped) - 1/2 cup
Sprig of coriander (finely chopped)
Carrom seeds - 1/ tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tsp
Water for kneading

For Pan Frying

Steps to follow:-

1. Mix all the ingredients and knead them into a soft dough.
2. Leave the dough for 10-15 minutes for the gluten to develop and post 15 minutes knead it finally.
3. Make small sized dough balls and roll them into either triangular and circular shaped paranthas and pan fry them till crisp.
4. Serve hot with chokha, onion salad and green chutney.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Veg Hot & Sour Soup...Its Winter calling!

Soups transform gloomy winter months from boring to exciting! 

When you’re craving comforting, hearty dishes that warm the soul and won’t cause a fuss, soup always satisfies. A piping hot bowl of soup is an ultimate comfort food during the winter months. Particularly in the winter months, when chilly days call for cozy, fire-fueled evenings, when we have abundance of healthy winter produce available, a simmering pot of fragrant soup has never seemed so inviting. Soup doesn’t have to be rich and creamy to be satisfying, though.

It was yesterday when i felt an urge of some hot spicy soup loaded with veggies. When it's time to wrap up warm, it's also time to dig out the pots and the soup recipes. So Chinese cuisine being my favorite was on my list and the need to have something spicy made me churn up a yummy Hot n Sour soup, which came out exactly as those served in good Chinese Food joints.

It was perfectly spiced and moderately sour and it left me warm & satisfied, ofcourse HAPPY!

Serves 2

For Chilli-garlic paste
3 dry red chillies (slit and deseeded. You can retain a few seeds if you wish to. I did coz i like it a bit Hot !)
3 garlic cloves

For Soup
1/2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 tbsp - Chilli garlic paste
Finely chopped Veggies -
  • 2 tbsp beans
  • 2 tbsp carrots  
  • 1/4 cup cabbage
  • 1/3 cup spring onions
1.5 Cups water
2 tbsp cornflour mixed with 1/2 cup water

Spices & seasonings
2 Vegetable seasoning cube (Brand used is Maggi) 
1/4 tbsp of all the below sauces
  • Green chilli sauce
  • Soya sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Tomato Ketchup
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 tsp Sugar
Salt to taste

Steps to follow:-

1. Soak dry red chillies and garlic in 1/3 cup water and ground to a paste in blender
2. Heat oil in a wok.
3. Keeping the flame high add the finely chopped veggies and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
4. Now add the chilli-garlic paste and saute for few seconds.
5.  Add water and items mentioned under 'Spices & seasonings' and boil for another 3 minutes on a medium-high flame.

NOTE: Adjust/alter the seasonings as per your taste if need be.

6. Now add the cornflour paste and stir continuously to avoid any lumps. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and you will see that soup starts to thicken.

1. If you are a mushroom lover, you can add 2-3 sliced mushrooms as well along with other veggies
2. In case you vegetable stock handy you can add it instead of seasoning cubes. Seasoning cubes are replacement of vegetable stock. Remember: Adjust the water measurement accordingly then.
3. If you think 2 tbsp chilli-garlic paste is too fiery for your palette then add it tsp by tsp and taste intermittently and adjust as per your taste.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Fresh Fruit Cake...a pleasant Birthday surprise for your loved one!

This is a very special post and yes of course for my someone little nephew who turned 4 a few days back! For long i had been thinking to do something exciting on his birthday but couldn't really assimilate courage to venture what i had actually thought of. So this time i didn't give in to my fears but attempted an ever so tasty and delicious Fresh Fruit Cake for my little one. 

Cakes are not a very regular affair in my kitchen coz of the time and dedication it requires. This was my second attempt at creamed cake and Bang-On!! I was amazed at my creation..superbly yum..and filled with goodness of cream and fresh fruits!
A Birthday cake is an integral part of the birthday. I think 'Birthdays are Nature's way of telling to eat more Cakes!' Nothing can replace the joy you feel from seeing children's faces light up when they see their birthday cakes for the first time – this is a truly priceless sight and my version of simple fresh fruit cake can help make this happen for you and your kids, right in your kitchen!

For Cake
1 - Vanilla sponge cake (Check the recipe here
150 gms - Whipping cream for creaming
150 gms - Whipping cream for frosting
80 gms - Icing sugar
3 tbsp - Strawberry filling (Used a market one. You could use Strawberry jam instead)
3-4 tbsp Sugar syrup
4 tbsp diced pineapples (small sized)

For Decoration
Grapes - cut into halves
Oranges (Keenu) - cut into quarters
Kiwi - cut into circles
Pineapples - cut into strips
Chocolate morsels - handful 
Roasted Almond slivers - fistful 

Steps to follow:-

1. Cut the vanilla sponge into 2 layers

2. Take whipping cream and icing sugar to it and whip till light, fluffy and soft peaks are formed. (For creaming)
> For the filling the cream should be slightly stiff in texture.
> For the frosting, the cream should not be very stiff but a little soft in texture with stiff peak still getting formed.
3. With the help of a brush, soak the bottom cake layer with the sugar syrup generously
4. Take a dollop of strawberry filling and spread it evenly over the cake.
5. Now spread the whipped cream and add finely chopped pineapples on the cake
6. Over the diced pineapple pieces put the second cake layer on top.
7. Apply sugar syrup and start with crumb coat (creaming).
8. Refrigerate for 1 hour so that creaming is set
9. Once the creaming/filling of the cake is set its time to frost the cake.
10. Now take some whipped cream (soft in texture) on a palette knife and cover the top layer of the the cake and sides
11. Smooth-en out the sides and the top of the cake.
12. Now move the cake onto the cake board and pipe with beautiful designs and decorate with kiwis, oranges, grapes, pineapples and chocolate morsels and cover the sides with almond slivers. (As depicted in the pic below or in whichever way you like)
13. Refrigerate the cake and take it out 30 mins prior to serving for it to get to room temperature.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Besanwali Bharwan Mirch | Spicy stuffed jalapenos

Its the best time of the year! Certainly not coz of the climate but because of the plethora of gorgeous vibrant flowers and the variety of greens available for my kitchen! Winter greens are healthy, nutritious and so versatile. One could do so much with it. Innovate & cook.

Any kind of condiment with my food is an indispensable part of our meals. A spicy dip or a kachumbar salad enhances the flavors. A lot of time even a homemade ghee is handy! Winter season is a season of pickles, chutneys and green chillies with spicy stuffing! Takes a simple meal to a different dimension all together.

While i was doing my weekly grocery and vegetable shopping, i caught hold of some bhavanagri hari mirch/green jalapenos which are so multifaceted. Stuff them with mashed potatoes or spicy keema mixture and deep fry them, they make an awesome delectable finger food. Cut them in chunks and spice them, makes a perfect pickle accompaniment for your one pot meals or just stuff them with roasted gram flour and you will get a perfect match for your parathans. 

A not so fiery yet delectable combination of green chillies and spices make this a right accompaniment, which stands out for its simplicity and intrinsic flavor. The recipe uses simple spices which are handy at home. Store them in an airtight container and put them in the fridge to be consumed later. I am sure you are going to love this spicy treat as its very very easy.

1 cup gram flour (besan)
8 Green jalapenos (badi hari mirch)
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp turmeric
2.5 tsp dried mango powder (amchoor)
1 tsp grated ginger
Salt to taste

1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
2 finely chopped green chillies
1 medium sized finely chopped onion
3 tbsp Oil 

Roughly pound in mortar & pestle:
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
1 tsp cumin (jeera)
1/4 tsp carrom seeds (Ajwain)

Steps to follow:-

1. Slit the jalapenos lengthwise from one side and scoop out the seeds (chop the scooped out content finely and keep it aside)

NOTE: Do not throw the seeds away. They will be used for stuffing.

2. Heat oil in a wok and throw in the spices in 'Roughly pound in mortar & pestle' and saute.
3. Now one by one add the items mentioned under 'Tempering' , grated ginger and the seeds scooped out from jalapenos.
4. Add salt, turmeric and amchoor powder.
5. Now add besan and vigorously saute till the besan becomes fragrant.
6. Add water slowly and keep stirring so that no lumps are formed.
7. The besan mix should not be lumpy but smooth and should be dough like .
8. Let the mixture cool and later fill the slit jalapenos with this mix with soft hands else you will end up breaking the jalapenos.
9. Once all the jalapenos have been filled, pan roast them in a broad pan until cooked from each side.

NOTE: Use 2 tsp oil for pan frying and keep the flame low. You will need to keep a constant watch else they would burn. The jalapenos would be ready in 10-15 mins. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Gajrela | Gajar Halwa or Carrot pudding, a North Indian sweet delicacy

Every one has good memories and moments to cherish lifelong. Especially, if those memories are from your days of childhood, then  who doesn't crave to live those moments once again !! 
Winter is here and reminisce my childhood days when we used to enjoy one month winter break. Respite from the monotony of school and the mundane schedule.

Winter vacation was all about picnics with family, interesting hobby classes and sumptuous Kumaoni food, which we ate together while sitting in our balconies under the sun.Winter is a season of Lazy months. Cladded in woolens we all hate to move out from the warm and cozy layers of our blankets. Strangely at this time of the year even our eating habits suddenly turn upside down. From home made delicacies with extra layer of butter to the greasy items like halwas of different types, pakoras, samosas and stuffed parathas. Parathas stuffed with mashed potatoes, radish or cottage cheese tops the hitlist in these months.
When i talk of winters i cant miss mentioning my all time favorite 'Gajar Halwa' cooked by my mom. Delicious in taste and very addictive. Its from my mom that i have inherited an inclination towards cooking. Mums are outstanding cooks! My mom's cooking has always been experimental, innovative and absolutely random and she always told me that food cooked with love can never go wrong. Now when i have taken over this task completely, i know what she meant.

Winters are here and there are time when i return from office and feel the urge to eat something sweet. I miss my ma's homemade love. She would always cook loads of halwa, store in the freezer and serve hot whenever we kids troubled her with our dessert pangs ! Today is again one of those days when i crave for 'Maa ke haath ka halwa' but alas! Plight of a married daughter. She has to manage her cravings on her own! 

Determined to savor some warm traditional winter sweet, i stopped by my local grocery stop and grabbed some carrots. 45 minutes quick work from grating to plating, all was set! Gajar halwa is my husband's favorite too and i was happy to see the shine in his eyes when he smelt the aromas. One bite and he was blown away. Aaaah! I loved what i cooked and my cravings were certainly gratified, but yes, i am still waiting for my mum's version because that has to be nothing but DIVINE !

380 gms - Grated Carrots
380 gms - Full cream milk
100 gms - Sugar
2 tbsp - Ghee (Clarified butter)
1/2 tsp - Cardamom powder
3 tbsp - chopped almonds
3 tbsp - chopped cashews
4 tbsp - raisins

Steps to follow:-

1. Heat a wok and put some ghee.
2. Keep the flame low and add grated carrots. Saute them for 3-4 minutes on a low flame.
3. Add sugar and mix vigorously and till the sugar melts and caramelizes well. This will take 5-6 mins.
4. Now add milk and give a good stir !
5. Add cardamom powder and lid the pan for 7-10 mins on a low flame so that the carrots get cooked. Keep stirring intermittently. 

NOTE: You are recommended to use a non-stick wok/kadhai.

6. Unlid the pan and add the chopped nuts and raisins and now let the halwa cook on a low flame
7.  Halwa is ready, once the milk content has reduced fully and has become of khoya texture.
8. Serve hot with pistachios and almond slivers.


1. You could also use heavy cream to get a more creamy khoya content. Reduce milk content to 250 gms and use 2 tbsp heavy cream (brand: Amul)
2. Instead of adding raw nuts you can pan roast the chopped nuts in 1/2 tsp ghee and then add to the halwa after is pan is unlid.
3. At times i also add 1/4 tsp rose water as it gives sweet fragrance to the dessert.