I Got Nominated for the Liebster Award!

Standard

liebster_awardI love being appreciated and it feels nothing short of fantastic to be nominated for an award! The fact that it’s for my food blog is even more satisfying, so, many, many thanks to my namesake and fellow foodie Ayesha who writes a wonderful blog – Diary of an Aspiring Foodie – for nominating me. The thought behind the felicitation is to encourage bloggers to get to know each other better and find out more about the bloggers they enjoy reading – I am totally down for that! 

The blogger who nominates you tags you and asks you some questions. You answer these on your blog and then spread the love by tagging other bloggers with questions of your own. 

These are Ayesha’s questions for me, and my responses: Continue reading

Bhanwar Lal’s Sooji Toast

Standard

photo 1I’m home! I’ve been back for just under two weeks and finally made my way in to the kitchen today. I must admit that it did feel a bit weird to start with. As a member of a middle class Indian family, I’ve grown accustomed to having domestic staff in the house. Before moving to the US for school, I would only head to the kitchen to make enquiries about lunch or dinner, but never to actually cook.

Growing up in the Army, which has retained many vestiges of its colonial past, I found that my father’s rise in rank also saw an expansion in his retinue. It was when he became a Brigadier, though, that our lives changed (g)astronomically. Bhanwar Lal bhaiyya (Hindi for older brother = bhaiyya) joined my father’s staff as a chef when I was in sixth grade. And what a chef at that. At six feet tall and with a booming laugh he always looked out of place in the kitchen. But, it was here that he worked his magic. Although an incredible master of all things delicious, we, as a family, are convinced that it’s his unbelievable warmth that really imbues his cooking with its impeccable flavors. He’s retired from the Army now and working in Rajasthan, but is always there to partake in important events in our lives. Just this past week, our house was packed to the rafters with friends and family visiting for my sister’s wedding. Bhanwar Lal bhaiyya was around to make sure each of them was stuffed to the gills with his delicious offerings and untiring generosity.

photo 2

Would you look at that!

Sooji or Semolina toast was a little something-something BL, as we often called him, would cook up for my sister and I, sometimes as a snack with our evening cold-coffees or for breakfast on Sundays. This post is dedicated to the big man with a bigger heart we’ve been lucky enough to have in our lives. Continue reading

Summer Salad

Standard
photo 2

Fresh much?

It’s crunch time, peeps! I’m four days away from being head-to-toed at the airport by my mother. The fact that I spent the last week in Jersey and DC, eating, drinking and lounging by poolsides does not augur well for my mother-assessment come Thursday night. So, I’m making up for the lapses of the last seven days by eating little else but salads till I land in Delhi.

I have to figure out how to cram my suitcases till their seams are as overtaxed as my jeans’ are right now, so, I’m going to keep this super short. But, believe me, as easy as this salad is to whip up, it is anything but short on flavor and texture. The dressing packs just the right punch and is devoid of all the unnecessary calories you consume when you use the store-bought kind.

Also, you’re welcome. Continue reading

In Quiche You’re Interested

Standard

photo 2-2It’s been an embarassing three-week hiatus from the blog. Much has changed since my date with Brad. For one thing, I’ve moved out of my apartment and in with a friend. The move was not without loss, I had to part with some of my favorite baking and cooking props, dishes and so many books. I know that last one should not have impacted my ability to cook and write, but it was so sad saying goodbye that I think it may have.

Anyway, the moving isn’t quite done: my tickets for India are booked, and I’ll be signing off on this American chapter in a couple of weeks! I’m very excited about the prospect of heading home and seeing my dog (and my family), but change isn’t complete without nostalgia. I’m going to miss my life here and I do fear that a return to the comforts of my cosseted Indian life may impact my adventures in the kitchen. After all it was adversity that set me off on this path to start with. But, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. For now, I’m making do with what I’ve got and cooking on. Today’s adventure was a tomato, spinach, onion and mushroom quiche! Continue reading

Dinner Date: Spaghetti Special

Standard
photo 1-2

Ingredients. SO pretty.

Yes, I made dinner for a date. It is Friday night after all. For those of you who read my other blog – fiveandeighty – and think I’m a male-hating, emotionally stunted, heterosexual single woman: I am not. Not all of those things at the very least. In fact, my date tonight was with Brad Pitt. We were hanging out at my place. Me settled in my fisherman chair in June of 2014, he fly-fishing somewhere in rural Montana back in the 1920s. Me tucking into a delicious dinner that I made with limited means in a nearly packed-up kitchen, him finding his angling rhythm thigh deep in a gushing stream. Okay, so I made an awesome meal and watched A River Runs Through It on Netflix while eating it and drinking a glass of wine. I’m sure my evening qualifies as a raging success of a date in some cultures, or will in the not so distant future.

Although I do have a soft spot for the unattached species, this spaghetti special doesn’t include singledom as a prerequisite to cooking or consumption. Also, I ate enough for two so this should be a cakewalk for an actual date. Continue reading

Moving Out Bake: Chocolate Cake

Standard
photo 4

Sitting pretty on a floral plate.

So, I’m moving out of my apartment next week, and the last few days have been immensely hectic. I’ve been living amongst boxes and suitcases and there hasn’t been time for fun cooking. I’ve been surviving on salads, take out, and cereal. Also, I’ve had to get rid of many of my favorite props, things I use for the Instagram shots I take of my culinary pursuits. Today’s wrapping up revealed many unconsumed things in the kitchen, among these were the baking basics, but no eggs, which, as those of you who’ve read some of my older posts know, is not exactly a tragedy for me.

I’ve heard rumors of no-egg baking before, but to my burgeoning chef brain the idea seemed nothing short of bizarre – like what holds everything together? But, today, befuddled by the packing and very keen on cleaning my kitchen cupboards out without wasting things, I decided to take the plunge and baked a no-egg chocolate cake expecting very little from the outcome. But, dagnabbit! it was great! I basically went with the usual ingredients but used yogurt as a binding force in lieu of the missing eggs. And all I could think of while eating a slice with a hot cup of coffee was all the eggs I’d used before and the hours I’d spent getting the smell of them out of my dishes. Anyway, enough with the rambling, the boxes are glaring at me and so I’m going to make this quick:

Chocolatecaking:

photo 2

Perfect. Just unbelievably perfect.

Prep Time: 15 minutes.

Bake Time: 40 minutes.

Oven Temp.: 350°F

Suggested Playlist: I watched Notting Hill. Again. I like it.

What You’ll Need:

1. One cup all purpose flour.

2. Six table spoons of cocoa powder.

3. One cup granulated sugar.

4. Half a teaspoon of baking powder.

5. One teaspoon of baking soda.

6. Three fourths a cup of vegetable oil.

7. One cup milk.

8. Half a cup of yogurt. Beat it till it’s a smooth consistency.

9. A teaspoon of vanilla essence.

10. A well greased baking dish.

11. A medium sized mixing bowl.

Bake It:

photo 3

Sliced. Non-scientifically.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and sugar together in the mixing bowl. Mix them together. Now, add the milk, yogurt, oil and vanilla essence and combine with the dry mixture. Make sure you don’t over-do the combining because that takes the air out of the batter and makes the rising tougher. Once done, pour into a well-greased baking dish and pop into the oven. Let it bake for about half an hour to forty minutes, poke with a toothpick thereafter to make sure it’s cooked through. Let it cool before you extract it.

Eat, be merry!

Addendum: Apparently there’s a scientific way of slicing a cake. I was unscientific in my execution, but you don’t have to be. Watch the video here.

© Ayesha Sindhu 2014

Saving Apples The Crumble Way

Standard
photo 1-5

A well browned, very round dish of crumbled apples.

I hate packing. And I hate exercise. Wrapping up a home involves equal amounts of both. As a result, my nerves are shot, I’m craving sugar a lot, and I’m skipping my daily walk (I would say run like the cool kids but I’m awful at running). To make matters worse I have just over ten days to empty out my apartment and this includes my fairly well-stocked fridge. Till earlier today, three apples had been residing in it for an extended period of time – I am not great with fruit, this is not to say I don’t like the occasional guava or watermelon, but if I have a choice, I won’t snack on a fruit; certainly there are better edible things out there. The three innocuous apples sitting in my fridge could have been consumed in their unaltered form, but, chances are they would have wasted away, ignored and unseen. Also, the moving and packing up stress proved to be an adequate excuse to bake them and throw in sugar and flour for the heck of it. Basically, I crumbled my apples and the outcome was way better than eating them the way nature intended. Sue me. Continue reading