Saturday, December 13, 2008

Banana Leaf Rice

I first had this at a friend's house and loved it. The entire house smelled great and we really couldn't stop eating the rice. Gorgeous spicy rice steamed in a banana leaf - it was flavorful and delicious!

Banana Leaf Rice

For the rice:
2 cups Basmati Rice
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Ghee/ Clarified Butter (I used regular vegetable oil)
Salt, to taste

For the curry:
2 tbsp Tomato Puree
2 tbsp Ghee/ Clarified Butter (I used regular vegetable oil)

Grind to a paste:
1 medium Onion, chopped fine
2 tbsp Coconut
6 Red Chillies
2 tsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
2 pieces Cardamom
1/2" piece Ginger
3 cloves Garlic

For the rice: Parboil the rice and set aside. In a saucepan, heat the ghee and add cumin and fry till it turns a light brown. Add the cooked rice and some salt and mix to combine.

For the curry: Heat the ghee and fry the ground paste for 3-4 minutes or until the raw smell disappears. Add the tomato puree and salt and cook for a minute.

Cut the banana leaves or pieces of aluminum foil into medium sized squares. In each square, spread one portion of rice and top it with a few tablespoons of the curry. Fold the individual packets (fasten the banana leaves with toothpicks).

Steam the banana leaves for atleast 15 minutes. If using foil, bake in an oven at 450 deg F for 25 minutes.

Remove and serve individual packets to each guest, and let them unwrap the packets themselves - that way the rice stays hot and the aroma from the packets isn't lost.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Potato Chip Cookies

If you're looking for healthy and nutritious, I suggest you skip this post! But if you're looking for amazing flavor, read on.

Having a surplus of potato chips after a birthday party, I wanted to put them to good use and I remembered a cookie I had bookmarked from Baking Bites. These cookies have amazing crunch and a fantastic salty sweet flavor.

Potato Chip Cookies
(recipe from Baking Bites)

Makes about 40 thin cookies and about 25 thick, chewy ones.

2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar + 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 large Egg
1 1/2 cups Potato Chips, crushed fine (I didn't crush them too much but I will next time)

Combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda). In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and whisk together very well.

Mix the butter mixture with the dry ingredients. Fold in the crushed potato chips.

Shape into balls (about the size of a small lemon). Drop the balls onto a baking sheet and flatten them out a bit. Bake for 12-15 minutes (12 minutes for chewy and more for crispy cookies). Cool completely on a wire rack.

Here are some other cookie recipes from this blog: Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chocolate Christmas Cake

If you haven't checked out Sweet and Simple Bakes, you really should. Its great for amateur bakers. Started by Rosie and Maria, they challenge us every month to go a little further and bake something you probably haven't baked before. And every single recipe has been tried and tested and comes out perfect.

For November's Sweet and Simple Bakes, Maria asked us to make a chocolate Christmas cake.

Chocolate Christmas Cake
(recipe from Sweet and Simple Bakes)

Preparation time: 20 minutes + cooling
Cooking time: 1¾ -2 hours

150g (5oz) soft butter
150g (5oz) light muscovado sugar or soft brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
185g (6½oz) self-raising flour
40g (1½oz) cocoa powder
400g jar of luxury mincemeat (recipe follows)
80g (3oz) each of sultanas and raisins
50g (2oz) blanched almonds, chopped
100g packet of white chocolate chips

For decoration (decorate as you wish!)

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3/electric 160ºC/fan oven 140ºC. Line a 20cm (8inch) cake tin (see below for instructions).

Lining the cake tin: One of the keys to success when baking a fruit cake is the preparation of the tin before you start mixing the ingredients. Because of the length of cooking time, you need to use two sheets of greaseproof paper or baking parchment inside the tin.

Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat together for a minute or two until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 1¾-2 hours until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. You will probably need to cover the cake with foil towards the end of cooking to prevent the top from browning too much. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Decorate as you wish! (I didn't decorate it)

Vegetarian Mincemeat
(check here for the original recipe. Since a lot of the ingredients required aren't available in India, I made some substitutions).

To make 2 lbs mincemeat


450g (1 lb) mixed dried fruit (I used dates, figs, blueberries, cherries and cranberries)
100g (4oz) melted butter
100g (4oz) cooking apples or apple of choice - peeled and grated (weight when prepared)
100g (4oz) soft brown sugar
50g -100g (2-4 oz) of chopped nuts of choice (I used pecans)
100g (4oz) glace cherries (I used more blueberries and some raspberries)
100g (4oz) chopped candied peel (I used raisins)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon mixed spice (I made my own spice mix - recipe follows)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons brandy

Mixed Spice Mix:

Grind together 1 small cinnamon stick and 1 tablespoon each cloves, mace, ground nutmeg and coriander seeds.


Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and soak overnight covering with a clean cloth. Mix thoroughly through together either with a large spoon or clean hands. Cover over with a clean tea towel and leave to stand for 24 hours giving the mixture a good stir as you pass by. Next day pack the mincemeat into sterilised jars, and top with greaseproof paper jam covers. Seal the jars tightly and store in a cool place.

*Note*: if you choose not to use glace cherries make the weight up with mixed dried fruit instead. If you wish not to add alcohol use apple juice or orange juice instead. We have given a recipe here for mincemeat without suet, but should you wish to use either beef or vegetable suet in this recipe omit the melted butter.

I sneaked a little taste when I was bottling the mincemeat, and it was so good. I knew the cake would be amazing.

Thanks, Maria for another interesting recipe.