Sticky Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

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If you can find heaven in a cake then this is it. Sticky, soft, and everything you’ve dreamed of but never had. This cake has a taste of fresh lemon juice because it is soaked with lemon juice after making it, and the poppy seeds in it taste divine.The combination of lemon and poppy seeds is sooo good. A bit unusual for those who haven’t tasted this combination but delicious still.

I love chocolate cakes and I know so do you, and one of these days I’m going to put up a chocolate cake recipe too, but rich fruit cakes taste so good. We’re having guests over this evening and I’m going to delight them with large chunks of this cake. The last time I made it, it was gone in the wink of an eye. Only the crumbs remained in the plate as proof that there had once been a nice big cake before it was devoured.

I’ve taken this recipe from Dan Lepard’s  recipe.

He is a baker from the United Kingdom and one of my favorites. His cookbooks are my prized possessions and are the jewels of my library.

I put only half the amount of lemon and caster sugar syrup given in this recipe, on the cake, and no additional dredging of caster sugar, but the cake was still scrumptious.

Sticky Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients

For the cake

225 gms caster sugar

125 gms unsalted butter, softened

100 ml sunflower oil

Finely grated zest of 3 lemons

4 medium eggs

50 ml hot water

250 gms plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

75 gms oatmeal, or rolled oats finely ground

30 gms poppy seeds

For the syrup

150 gms caster sugar, plus extra to finish

100 ml lemon juice

Method

1 Line a deep 20 cm square cake tin with baking paper. Beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest and oil till light and fluffy, then add one egg at a time and beat well. Then beat the hot water into the mixture.

2 Sift the flour, then add the baking powder and mix well. Then add the oatmeal or the finely ground oats and the poppy seeds, and beat them into the cake mixture.

3 Pour the batter into the tin and bake at 180 degrees C / 160 degrees C fan / 350 degrees F/ gas 4 for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean, when inserted into the cake.

4 While the cake is warm, heat the lemon juice and caster sugar till the caster sugar dissolves. Poke the cake deep with a fork or a skewer and spread the syrup onto the cake letting the cake absorb it nicely. Once it has cooled dredge it with more caster sugar.

 

Candied Walnuts In A Jiffy

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We’re getting into the Diwali spirit here in India and then Christmas will be at our doorsteps in December. Time to celebrate! Today I’m posting an easy and delicious recipe. Candied walnuts. These are great as a Diwali or Christmas gift. They’re even good to munch on during the festivities or to add to a salad or eat topped onto ice cream. The recipe is inspired by the one in the blog Natasha’s Kitchen

When I was in the fifth standard in St. Mary’s School in Poona, one of my friends used to get walnuts mixed with sugar in her tiffin and share them with me. I loved eating this terrific combination. My friend’s mother packed this yummilicious tiffin and she knew I shared it with her, so she would send enough for the two of us. I was in boarding school and this was magic.

That’s where I got the idea for candied walnuts from. So I was thrilled to find this recipe in Natasha’s Kitchen. Easy, fast, it only takes about five minutes to make, and yummy. No egg whites to coat with, no baking, nothing, it’s so simple. And …..it works out much cheaper than store bought candied walnuts. And… of course, Homemade!

Just remember to keep your kitchen tools handy while making these because the walnuts could burn if you’re not watching.

You can store the caramelized walnuts for about a week in an airtight container, but they’ll disappear very quickly.

You can use this recipe to candy pecans too.

Here’s the recipe

Candied Walnuts

Makes approximately 1 cup

Ingredients

1 cup walnuts quarters

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon white unsalted butter

Method

1 Heat a skillet to medium heat. Put the walnut quarters, sugar and butter into the skillet and stir continuously until the butter and sugar melt and the walnut pieces are well coated. This will take approximately 5 minutes. Make sure you stir the walnuts otherwise they will burn.

2 Once coated with the sugar, quickly remove them and put them on parchment or baking paper, and immediately separate the walnuts. Do this fast or you will be left with a lump of sugar coated walnuts.

3 Put them in a bowl to cool and eat them right away or store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

Gur Papdi

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Gur Papdi, also called Gol Papdi or Sukhdi is a Gujarati sweet, made with jaggery, ghee and whole wheat flour and flavoured with cardamom powder and garnished with slivered nuts. It is delicious and healthy, and is eaten as an everyday sweet in homes and sometimes becomes a special sweetmeat for festivities too.

You can have loads of ferrero rochers and lindts and godivas but the good old desi Gur Papdi is delightful to bite into with its rich, aromatic whole wheat flour and cardamom flavors. Each time I bite into it, it brings back memories of midnight feasts at my aunty and uncle’s place where we cousins would sneak to the fridge at night, and gobble up all the goodies that were there, and often my aunt would store Gur Papdi to serve us as a dessert with lunch, but it would all be gone when she opened the fridge the next day.

I’m lucky with those midnight feasts I still have all my teeth intact, but I’ve certainly had to ‘brush up’ my teeth hygiene in these last few years.

Here’s the recipe

Gur Papdi

Makes about 15 pieces

Ingredients

100 gms whole wheat flour

6 tablespoons ghee

125 gms jaggery

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

Some slivered almonds for garnishing

Method

1 Heat the ghee in a deep bottomed pan. Cook the whole wheat flour in the hot ghee over a low to medium flame till brown and aromatic. Remove from the stove.

2 Add the jaggery and cardamom powder to the hot ghee, whole wheat flour mixture and stir with a spoon and mix till the jaggery has melted completely.

3 Now overturn the mixture onto a greased 6 inch thali and while still warm cut into diamond shapes. Garnish with the slivered almonds.

4 When cool store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

Banana Bread

 

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Now, I’ve eaten many banana breads and cakes but this one steals the show. Really, I mean it. It’s for no small reason that Nigella Lawson is called the queen of home cooking. Nigella ‘awesome’ Lawson for that’s what I call her, is just great when she shows us ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’. That’s the name of her baking book from where I made this recipe. It totally bowled me over. Did you know she’s not a professional chef? She’s a self taught home cook. Read this dazzling article and those of you who dislike the name of her book because it sounds weird, you may think, will change your mind.

And here’s her recipe for Banana Bread that’s so aromatic when you bake it that it makes your mouth water, not to mention that eating it will tingle your taste buds. It’s a nice large bread, and you can cut out big chunks for yourself, the kids, family and friends.

Sometimes, because ovens differ in their heating, and every oven has a nature of its own, go by instinct. When the cake begins to give out a delicious aroma, check if it’s ready, even if it’s before time.

Here’s the recipe

Banana Bread

Ingredients

100 gms sultanas

75 ml bourbon or dark rum

175 gms plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon soda bicarbonate

1/2 teaspoon salt

125 gms unsalted butter, melted

150 gms sugar

2 large eggs

4 very ripe bananas( about 300 gms without skin) mashed

60 gms chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

23 x 13 x 7 cm loaf tin

Method

1 Put the sultanas with the dark rum to boil. When the liquid starts boiling, remove from flame and stand them for an hour or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Then drain.

2 Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C or gas mark 3.

3 Put the plain flour, baking powder, soda bicarbonate and salt into a medium size bowl and mix with a spoon to combine well.

4 In a large bowl, mix the sugar and melted butter and beat until blended.

5 Put in the eggs one at a time, then add the mashed bananas.

6 Stir in the sultanas, walnuts and vanilla extract.

7 Add the flour mixture, one third at a time, stirring well after each addition.

8 Scrape into a greased loaf tin and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hour. When a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean it’s ready.

9 Leave in the tin or on a rack to cool before cutting into nice big chunks and enjoying.

 

 

 

Coconut Ladoos

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Ganesh Chaturthi is here once again. How do we make the sweet, elephant headed God happy? Make him ladoos, because according to mythology Lord Ganesha loved ladoos. So this post is an offering to Lord Ganesha.

Dear friends, God never wanted us humans to pollute rivers and destroy nature. Please make environment friendly Ganeshas and immerse them in a clean tub of water for Ganapati immersion or better still leave the idols under a tree or in a temple. Do not alienate nature.

There’s a wonderful story about Ganesha and his sibling brother Kartikeya.

One day sage Narada came to Lord Shiva with a mango, which he had obtained from Lord Brahma. Now this was no ordinary mango. It was the mango of wisdom and knowledge. Lord Shiva wanted to give it to his sons, but which one should he give it to? He was in a quandary. So he decided to hold a competition where each sibling had to run a race around the world and the one who came first would win the mango.

Ganesha was plump and roly poly, and although he wanted to win badly, his vehicle was a mouse. Kartikeya on the other hand had a fast flying peacock for his vehicle and was very active too. Kartikeya set out immediately to fly around the world and show his prowess. Ganesha thought for a bit and then, gathering his parents together he circled them thrice. “Now give me my mango” he said. Shiva asked him why he deserved the mango, to which Ganesha replied that Shiva and Parvati his parents, meant the world to him. They were his world, so he had circled them thrice. Shiva gave him the mango.

Kartikeya, it is said in one version, was happy and accepted his father’s decision, but another version says, he got terribly angry and came down to earth to meditate in the Palani hills in the southern part of India. Ganesha, with great difficulty pacified him and brought him back to Mount Kailash.

Here is this really fantastic, tasty and easy recipe.

Coconut Ladoos

Makes 20 ladoos

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 tin(400 gms) condensed milk

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

A little less than 1/2 cup raisins

A little less than 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method

1 Mix all the ingredients together in a thick bottomed pan except the 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut, and cook on a slow flame till the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan. Approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and keep aside to cool a little.

2 Spread a little oil or ghee on your hands, make round balls with the mixture. Dip each ball into the remaining 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut.

You can store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator, if they last that is. The kids at home will love them, and so will the adults.

 

 

Puran Poli

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It’s celebration time with Onam today and Raksha Bandhan tomorrow. So it calls for a treat.

Puran Poli is a delicious Maharashtrian and Gujarati roti or bread made during festivals and celebrations.  It is a roti with a sweet filling inside, and is eaten with ambti or amti daal. Of course it can also be eaten with a regular meal. It also tastes great with Gujarati kadhi.

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In Maharashtra the filling for the roti is made with channa daal and in Gujarat the filling is made with tuvar or arhar daal. As there are many regions in India so there are many ways of making Puran Poli. Different people make it differently, some add coconut to the filling, some add a mix of sugar and jaggery to sweeten the filling, some add fennel seed powder to the filling. That’s the beauty of India. Here, her people make magic out of basic ingredients and vegetarian food turns into a feast for the senses.

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I’m posting a recipe of Puran Poli, the way we make it at home. This recipe also takes inspiration from Tarla Dalal’s recipe of Puran Poli. So, sit back and enjoy reading it. It isn’t difficult at all, you can make it for your loved ones. It’s so tasty that they will thank you and ask for more!

And, some people even serve this sweet, flavourful roti as a dessert.

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Puran Poli

Makes 10-12 rotis or breads

Ingredients

1 cup tuvar/ arhar daal washed and drained

2 tablespoons ghee

1 cup jaggery

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or atta for the dough

Some ghee to bind the dough, about a tablespoon

Some water to bind the dough

Some whole wheat flour for rolling the dough

Method

1 Pressure cook the tuvar daal with 1 1/2 cups of water for 3 whistles.

2 Put the 2 tablespoons of ghee into a pan and when hot, put in the tuvar daal and stir. Then add the jaggery and stir, till the jaggery melts and is well mixed with the daal. Stir continuously for about 10 minutes or till the mixture thickens. Add the cardamom and nutmeg powder and mix well. Let the mixture cool.

3 Make 10 to 12 round balls of equal size with the cooled mixture.

4 Now bind the dough with water, adding a little ghee, approximately 1 tablespoon and make a dough.

5 Take a piece of dough, roll it into a 4 inch circle with the help of some whole wheat flour, put a ball of the daal and jaggery mixture into the center, then pinch the edges of the dough together covering the round ball entirely, and with the rolling pin, roll the filled dough into a round 4 to 5 inch circle, not too thin or the filling with spill out of the dough.

6 Cook the bread or roti on a tawa or griddle till it has golden brown spots and smells cooked. Remove from fire and smear with ghee.

7 Cook the remaining rotis similarly.

Serve hot or warm.

 

 

 

Peanut Barfi

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Peanut Barfi or Peanut Mithai is a sweet made of peanuts. It was one of my Masi’s (mother’s sister) favourite sweets to make. And I loved how it tasted made by her. She is no more, but it was her birthday on the 16th of July, and I decided to celebrate by making this sweet in her memory.

I never got to asking Masi how she made Peanut Barfi so now I have to improvise and make it myself. I’ve tried, tested, tried and tested again and finally made it my way. It tastes so delicious. You should try it too.

Here’s how I make Peanut Barfi

Peanut Barfi

Makes 25 pieces

Ingredients

1/2 tin/ 200 gms condensed milk

150 gms peanuts, roasted and skin removed

150 gms khoya

50 gms plain flour or maida

1/2 cup milk

Method

1 Grind the peanuts to a powder in the mixer grinder.

2 Mix all the ingredients and put to cook in a thick bottomed pan, on a slow flame, until the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan. The mixture will form a ball.

3 Remove from heat and spread onto a greased rimmed plate, tray or thali. Spread in a thin layer. Cool and cut into squares.