floating village of tonle sap
The Tonle Sap is one of the most critical freshwater ecosystems in the Mekong River Basin. It is the largest lake in South East Asia, home to a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, a Ramsar site, and the most important inland fishery in Cambodia.http://www.mekongriver.info/tonle-sap
Having completed 13 months in Cambodia, I have started learning a few khmer dishes. Thanks to my helper and a good friend ‘D’, we not only relish the local cuisine but additionally enjoy it making at home – just a short commutation of the dish from kitchen to dining table.
In the Kingdom of Cambodia, Fish is a staple, and it can unambiguously be said that “Fish enjoys almost the royal status of Rice.” A true convert that I am, I do not miss the country flavor of the local fishes.
The staple diet of Khmer is fresh water fish. With the abundant supply of fish (said to be 600 different species in the Tonle Sap lake), it is not surprising that the Khmer love to eat fish!
If you are in Cambodia during November to February, there is a week per month where you may be able to see lots of fishing activity along the riverfront in Phnom Penh. Here the Mekhong and Sap rivers come together and the fish is very plentiful during this season. The Khmer make use of this season and not only eat the fish fresh but dry, smoke, ferment and make it into fish sauce so they can use it during lean times as their main source of proteinhttp://www.cambodiauncovered.com/cambodia/fishing.html
A glance of the varieties of fish available at the market -
medium and small
the favorite among Cambodians – fish head
shrimps and seafood too
I am also a picky eater when it comes to fish – lesser the bones easier for me and I suppose for most of those who are reading this post too. But, with the very little knowledge that I have gained within these years about fishes, I keep one thing in mind – smaller the fish , lesser the fat. Certain varieties of smaller fish may be less in Omega 3 but are certainly less in the mercury content and hence safer.
So, I get any fish with a maximum weight of 1 kg and mostly 2 fishes at 1.75 kgs put together. This is for my Meen Kuzhambu (fish curry), Varutha Meen (fish fry), steamed fish cambodian style or a cambodian fish soup. I also buy the somewhat look-alike neththili of Chiriya Meen (very small fish) – (http://dosaikal.com/2013/04/05/varutha-meen-varutha-kathirikkai-with-thaalicha-paruppu-pan-fried-fish-and-pan-fried-eggplant-with-seasoned-lentil) – fishes as small as half your index finger, which also make the best healthy crispy chips on earth, while grilled in the oven.
meen kuzhambu – fish curry
small fish – crisply fried
I find some fishes have a distinct smell or flavor of the soil. Yes, the fish when cooked has a muddy flavor. Yet, I am not competent enough to identify the differences in taste of river or sea varieties.
I know there are genetically marine souls over there who feel those tiny fishes make wonderful kuzhambus/curries and thokkus/thick curries. That’s not for lazy, fearful converts like me- the very thought of removing bones or chewing with the bones threatens me!
Above all, there is also the attached mistrust of the younger lady of the house aka daughter, who prefers appa when it comes to removing bones from cooked fish. “Amma always keeps a few bones and it is so risky you know…” she says – Good for me and one job less in my pocket!
Trey Chamhoy - Steamed Fish
Trey is Fish in Khmer. This one is the version of my Khmer friend who also cooks good Indian food. So, please let me know of the changes you make in your Cambodian steamed fish!
Yet, I promise I did not make any Indianised Cambodian Fish..
Cambodia’s preferred source of protein is freshwater fish, caught mainly from the Tonle Sap and from the Tonle Sab, the Mekong, and the Basak rivers. Cambodians eat it fresh, salted, smoked, or made into fish sauce and paste. http://countrystudies.us/cambodia/65.htm
This one has the flavor of raw mangoes and is steamed in banana leaf.
Facts about how I use the Fish
- I use two fishes 1.75 kgs put together.
- I do not use the head of the fish.
- Each fish is cut into two halves.
- So, I get 4 medium size pieces.
- How many fishes to be used, depends on how many pieces each member would need.
I. Needed most – Any kind of Steamer
II. Ingredients (serves two to four)
- fish (any variety) – 2 no.s cut into 4 pieces
- shallots – 4 no.s finely sliced
- green chillies – 3 no.s
- fresh red chillies – 3 no.s
- spring onions – 2 or 3 bunches cut to the length of other juliennes
- garlic – 6 cloves
- ginger – 1 inch piece
- carrot – 1 medium
- raw mango – 1/2
- radish – 1 small
- salt – to taste
- pepper powder – 1/2 tsp or as preferred
All vegetables finely julienned.
Instead of the above vegetables – can also use
1. capsicum in various colors – red, yellow and green
2. no vegetables and only mint and coriander leaves with ginger juliennes
3. any preferred vegetable of one’s choice but I’d avoid those which let out water like cucumber or guards.
III. To wrap up in the steamer
- aluminum foil to wrap up the steaming vessel first, so that the soup/broth that cooks with the fish doesn’t fall in the water below
- fresh banana leaf to cover the steaming vessel
steamer vessel with holes
Method of Preparation
- Make the steamer ready by wrapping first with aluminum foil
- Then place the banana leaves to cover the base
- Cut and wash fish into two halves each
- Rub salt and pepper powder on the fishes
Cut, slice and julienne the vegetables and mix together
4. To steam
1. Spread half of the vegetables on the banana leaf randomly
2. Place the fish pieces on the vegetable layer
3. Cover the fish with the remaining vegetables
4. Close the veggie-fish combination with a layer of banana leaves and place the vessel inside the steamer
5. Close the lid of the steamer
6. Steam for 15-20 minutes
7. Serve with the vegetables and soup/broth that lies beneath
8. Serve with hot rice.
Pongal – The Harvest Festival of the Tamils was celebrated on the 14th of January. The four day festivity- Bhogi Pongal, Thai Pongal, Maatu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal has been discussed in http://dosaikal.com/thai-pongal-the-harvest-festival.
This Year Pongal was a simple affair as usual, but just tried showcasing a few traditional things to my daughter.
Concentrated on a basic menu, not indulging into a feast meal (that tuesday being a working day for the father-daughter duo) with -
vaazhai ilai saappaadu – the banana leaf platter
sarkkarai pongal -sweet jaggery rice (dosaikal.thai-pongal-the-harvest-festival) – the special delicacy of the day
maangai sambaar – lentils and vegetables in tamarind, spice gravy (dosaikal.sambar)
avial – mixed vegetables in coconut, yoghurt curry (dosaikal.pongal-in-cambodia)
beans thuvaran – beans dry vegetable curry (dosaikal.beans-poriyal)
maangai pachadi (raw mango and jaggery chutney)
maangai thokku (grated raw mango pickle)
vadai (dehusked black gram fritters)
yoghurt to end the meal
mor milagai for the yoghurt rice (dosaikal.curd-rice-sun-dried-chillies)
and the Cambodian Brown Rice to go with the curries.
We had our meal on the banana leaf (dosaikal.thamizhar-virundhu-feast-of-the-tamils). The different dishes kept on the disposable leaf bowls are only for display. (Special Thanks to friend ‘R’ for letting us cut banana leaves from their trees.)
Dhonnai – disposable eco-friendly bowls
The leaf bowls are called ‘Dhonnai’ – a typical temple meal server. The prasadhams or the food provided to the worshippers in the temples are served in dhonnais – made of different kinds of leaves stitched to form cups (palm leaf, banana leaf, lotus leaf are a few leaves used to make dhonnais). I’d like to highlight here that these are eco-friendly, bio-degradable bowls.
Any festival comes with a package of preparatory processes. Those vary from family to family. A person not familiar with all, but a keen learner that I would like myself to be – I thought of doing some minimal preparations to showcase the festive spirit.
So now to those few things I could make my daughter know that excites us during festivals – in the preparation of the special day -
1. Maavilai Thoranam
Maa is the short form of maangai/mango and ilai means leaf. Thoranam is a festoon which would be hanged at entrances of homes. During festivals, the thoranam/festoon made with mango leaves would adorn every house. Any family occasion, thoranams are an important part of home decoration – to tell the clan, community and the village/town that there is an auspicious occasion at their home. Inauspicious occasions call for different thoranams, differently hanged.
I do not know when the earliest reference of thoranam is found in Tamil Literature. But, ‘Naachiyaar Thirumozhi’ written by Andal, one of the Alvars (Vaishnavite Saints) of the Bhakti movement has these verses (dosaikal.com/maargazhi-maadhathil-ven-pongalven-pongal-in-the-month-of-maargazhi). Andal, the only female Alvar …in the 8th Century AD, mentions the Thoranams/festoons in her poetry!
vaaraNam aayiram suuzha valam seidhu
naaraNa nambi nadakinraan enredhir
pooraNa porkudam vaithu puramengum
thoraNam naatta kana kanden thozhi naan
Here, Andal talks about her dream of getting married to Lord Vishnu. She elaborates the festive occasion in her dream –
Her beloved Lord walks gloriously amidst thousands of elephants; For his majestic arrival, golden pots (again a symbol of auspicious occasion) are arranged everywhere and the whole of Srivilliputhur – her town is completely decorated with thoranams/festoons.
Maavilai Thoranams are available in the market in Tamilnadu for Pongal celebrations. With numerous mango trees around, I got a few mango leaves from friend ‘P’ (with mangoes too). Made the thoranam with tooth pick and hanged it in the entrance.
2. Karumbu – Sugarcane
After a long search, we could get the whole sugarcane. Pongal would have been incomplete without the true bite of sugarcane.
3. Kolam – traditional drawings with rice flour.
A Kolam is a geometrical line drawing composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots. The patterns range between geometric and mathematical line drawings around a matrix of dots to free form art work and closed shapes.
Though not as flamboyant as its other Indian contemporary, Rangoli, which is extremely colourful, a South Indian Kolam is all about symmetry, precision, and complexity. Due to their complexity, trying to figure out how, exactly, these designs were drawn can be a challenge that some viewers find enjoyable. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolam)
I am not a good artist – in terms of drawings or paintings. But watching amma and aachi draw kolams everyday in front of the house and special kolams in the poojai arai (worship room), my work was to do some kolams for Pongal and Deepavali. During Maargazhi Maadham, the month of Maargazhi (Dec-Jan), when the women display their drawing skills in front of their houses, mine would be a genuine attempt but not certainly one of the best or wouldn’t even be categorised ‘better’. Still the event wouldn’t stop.
Aachi (grandma) who would draw wonderful elephants and birds when we were small as she was a great artist. With such patience and dedication, her kolams were picture perfect – no compromise. She had her ‘Kola nottu’ – the note for kolams (now with cousin ‘A’, who is again very good at it – so in right hands), with her precious kolams drawn to perfection.
This year, Kolam was there in my agenda of traditions during Pongal. So, I requested my friend ‘L’ in Chennai who was sending me pictures of her beautiful Kolams, to send me some simple ones with procedures too. With improved technology, the step by step procedure reached in seconds and we drew our own kolams with chalk. My little enthusiast colored them!
my version… great artists over there – forgive me please…
and the original by ‘L’
my pongal paanai – pongal pot
Here are a few beautiful kolams done for Maargazhi and Pongal by ‘L’ -
Thanks ‘L’ for sharing these with me and letting me share with all!
One more important thing in Pongal is the turmeric plant tied to the pot in which Pongal would be cooked. Not available here. Hope to find it for my next Pongal. There is a saying in Tamil – ‘Thai pirandhal vazhi pirakkum’ which means – with the start of the new month of ‘Thai’ – mid January to mid February (after maargazhi), good things would fall in place.
Wish everyone a happy, healthy and success filled Year 2014!
Is Knocking Century a great mile stone? Cricketers and Bloggers would agree unanimously. When my paternal die hard cricket fan thaatha (grand father) would take me to Chennai M.A. Chidambaram Stadium to watch cricket matches, as a ten year old I would jump screaming high to sixes and fours of Ravi Shastris and Kapil Devs alike. Till today I no nothing much about the game but what I liked the most was getting ready early in the morning with packed lunch and snacks and more snacks and ice-cream to be bought at the stadium and a whole day of watching different kinds of people enjoying their day. That was a perfect outing of a grandpa-grand daughter duo – chatting, munching, screaming, clapping and jumping through out – more work-out than those cricketers on the field.
Today, I feel the same excitement when I jot down my 100th post. A big THANKS to all of you who’ve kept my pen writing.
I wanted to present one of the most fabulous One Pot Meals of my home town – Thirunelveli and the nearby districts my maternal Thoothukudi. It is called KOOTANCHORU – literally translates as might be – ‘combined rice’. (Kootu means combination/combine and Choru means Rice)
Kootanchoru is –
1. a combination of rice and lentil – thuvaram paruppu or split pigeon peas;
2. with as many country vegetables and one green leafy vegetable preferably Arai Keerai (Amaranth Greens), salt and turmeric powder;
3. cooked in a kuzhambu/curry of tamarind and ground coconut-spice paste
4. seasoned with mustard, dehusked black gram, curry leaves and vadagam (sun-dried onion seasoning).
With the culinary world turning its eye towards One-Pot Meals, Kootanchoru is a healthy whole meal with high nutrient value; though with a long list of ingredients, it involves less time and work in cooking. While the rice, lentils and vegetables are cooked in the ground spice paste, the house would be filled with a unique aroma – I call it the true flavor of THE TAMIL cuisine, common to every down south - Indian household.
As I have mentioned, the ingredient list is elaborate, the initial preparation involves slightly more work, but the cooking proccedure is quite simple. The aroma and flavor of the meal is worth the effort of initial tasks!!
PONGAL - the harvest festival of the Tamils (refer – http://dosaikal.com/thai-pongal-the-harvest-festival and http://dosaikal.com/pongal-in-cambodia/), is just five days away. Kootanchoru is also a special meal during Kaanum Pongal or the fourth day of the harvest festival where people visit their friends and family and also spend the time on a Picnic. Kootanchoru can also be a picnic meal!
While the joy of a 100 posts rekindles memories of my paternal grandfather who has also been a wonderful friend till he left us a year and a half ago, the word Kootanchoru reminds me of my maternal grandfather who would take us all grandchildren on different picnics and shower us with the delicacies of Thoothukudi.
Coming from a family where the huge extended family, with maternal and paternal aunts (athais, chithis and periyammas) and those special aunts wedded to uncles (athais and chithis), I think each one in the clan are excellent cooks and my kootanchoru can never match their flavor of their hands; Or now in the next generation, the tasteful endeavors of my cousins – experts in variety of cuisines!
The Making -
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1. main ingredients
- puzhungal arisi/par boiled rice – 1 heaped cup
- thuvaram paruppu/split pigeon pea – 1/2 cup
- oil preferably gingelly oil – 1 tsp for the base of the cooker
- puli/tamarind – lemon sized soaked in 1/2 cup water
- manjal podi/turmeric powder – 1/2 -3/4 tsp
- uppu/salt – to taste
rice and lentil
2. mixed vegetables cut to medium size pieces – 5-6 cups of the same measuring cup of rice
- kathirikkai/egg plant
- vaazhaikkai/raw banana
- kothavaarangai/cluster beans
- avaraikkai/broad beans
- chinna vengayam/shallots – 10 no.s uncut for frying
- oil for frying shallots – 3 tbsp
vegetables and shallots
3. greens – 1 cup
agathi keerai/amaranth greens or any other greens, the second preference would be murungai keerai/drum stick leaves
greens and tamarind water
4. to grind – garlic is a key ingredient!
- grated coconut – 1/2 cup
- seeragam/cumin seeds – 2 tsp
- milagai vatral/red chillies – 3 no.s
- pachai milagai/green chilli – 1 no.
- poondu/garlic cloves – 10 no.
- chinna vengayam/shallots – 5 no.s or 1/2 of normal big onion
- oil – 3 tbsp
- kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1 tsp
- chinna vengayam/shallots -6 no.s or periya vengayam/onion – 1/2 – cut long and thin strips
- karivepilai/curry leaves – 15 leaves
- vadagam/sun dried onion balls – 1 or 2 no.s
Method of Preparation
- Wash rice and lentil; keep aside
- Grind the grated coconut with the above mentioned spices into a smooth pastewith little water
- Wash and soak tamarind in water
- Cut all the vegetables and amaranth greens or any spinach of your spinach and keep ready
- While using eggplant, potato and raw banana, keep them in a bowl of water to avoid discoloration
- Peel the skin and wash the shallots and keep aside
Procedure – I
Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pressure cooker on lighted stove and start adding all ingredients one after the other in order–
- rice and lentil without water
- ground coconut and spice paste
- cut vegetables
- chopped greens
- turmeric powder and salt
- tamarind water
Procedure – II
- Add 4 cups of water for every cup of rice-lentil mix. I have used total 1 1/2 cups both combined – so I added almost 6 cups. This is not inclusive of the tamarind juice of 1/2 cup and the water content in the spice paste.
- A total of 4 cups for 1 cup is ideal. Parboiled Rice needs more water for a well cooked – semi mashed consistency and that is what is needed for Kootanchoru.
- Do not close the cooker; let the mixture boil in medium heat. Keep stirring as the mixture might stick to the bottom of the cooker, as there is less oil. Generally no oil is added to the cooker but I added to be on the safer side
- In a separate pan, heat 3 tbsp of oil and fry the whole shallots reserved for frying
- Add the fried shallots and also the oil to the rice-water-spice mixture
- When the mixture starts boiling, close the cooker with lid and wait for the first whisle
- Keep the stove in full position; After the first whistle, reduce and cook for 5 mins. Switch off gas
- Open the cooker after 20 minutes; Kootanchoru is almost ready.
fry shallots separately
add fried shallots to the ready to be cooked kootanchoru
Procedure – III
- Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan
- Add mustard seeds and dehusked black gram
- When mustard seeds splutter and the gram turns brown, add the long stripped onions, curry leaves and vadagam
- Pour this on top of the cooked Kootanchoru and mix well
- If one doesn’t have vadagam, more onions can be cut into strips and fried brown and added
- Kootanchoru is ready and tastes best with Thayir Pachadi and Appalam.
fried seasoning ingredients on top of the cooked rice
The Exclusives -
b. In Thirunelveli, we have a different vadagam made of onions, not only used for seasoning but mainly had as accompaniment to thayir saadham/yoghurt rice as fritters (like the sun dried chillies). See – http://dosaikal.com/thayir-saadham-mor-milagaicurd-rice-sun-dried-chillies/. Since I did not have the original fritter vadagam, I have used the seasoning vadagam.
2. Thayir Pachadi
a. Pachadi can be a yoghurt based salad or raita in Hindi. There are various kinds of pachadis – specially yoghurt with onions for Biriyanis, yoghurt with cucumber for combination rices like lemon rice or tamarind rice or mint rice, or just a soothing pachadi of yoghurt, onions and tomatoes for any meal. Carrot, Beetroot, Pineapple, mango… anything can go in as Pachadi,
b. Typical/Original Pachadis have a coconut-green chilli paste added to the yoghurt base. What we have done is a simple one with yoghurt and salt alone as base.
c. Since my daughter doesn’t prefer tomatoes, I used onions, cucumber and green chillies mixed in yoghurt and salt.
a. Appalam is exclusively South Indian. In the North, they are called Pappads – made spicy too. Pappadams in south are another variety of discs which puffs up when deep fried.
b. They are thin disc shaped fritters, made of dehusked black gram flour. There are also other varieties like rice flour appalams, jack fruit appalams and so on.
c. They are deep fried or roasted on stove, nowadays microwaved and are had generally with a rice based meal.
d. They can also be substitutes to vegetables on a lazy day.
Kootanchoru is not only a humble and simple symphony of various ingredients, but one of the best aromatic and flavorful meals from the southern part of Tamilnadu.
Do not miss the garlic to be ground with other spices. The flavor of garlic is one of the key essences to the flavour of this rice.
Merry Christmas to one and all!!
Next on the list is an eggless date and walnut cake. This was requested by one of my readers quite some time back. I know this is a very late response, my heartfelt regrets on that… yet better late than never!
This can also be an excellent substitute to a fruity Christmas Cake. There is no need for the caramel syrup in the Christmas Cake, this cake has the true goodness and color of dates. With no empty calories, it is surely a healthy snack or dessert for kids and adults alike.
100% Whole Wheat Eggless (No Butter) Dates and Walnut Cake
heaped cup of flour
dates and walnuts
- whole wheat flour – 1 heaped cup – 175 gms
- brown cane sugar – packed 1/2 cup – 90 gms
- refined oil – little more than 1/2 cup – 90 ml
- yoghurt – 4 tsp
- baking soda – 1 1/2 tsp
- chopped dates – 1 cup – 175 gms
- chopped walnuts – 1/2 cup – 50 gms
- boiling hot water – 3/4 cup – 120 ml extra water – 1/2 cup (if needed to add in the end to make the batter thinner)
soaked dates in water
Method of Preparation
- Preheat oven at 160 degrees C
- Grease a baking tray and keep ready
- In a wide bowl, place chopped dates, sugar and hot water; Close and let it soften for 10 minutes
- In another bowl, add baking soda and chopped walnuts to the whole wheat flour
- After 10 minutes, the dates would have become soft; add refined oil to the date, water, sugar mixture
- To this liquid mixture, add flour – walnut mixture little by little
- Now, the batter would be a thick one, add 4 tsp yoghurt and mix well
- Use the reserved 1/2 cup water if the cake batter is very thick or use as little water as possible to bring the batter to spoonable consistency
- Bake for 50 mins to an hour till a tooth pick comes out clean
- Cool and serve the cake.
Carrot Cake is something special for various reasons- it is a healthy one as it has carrots and has a distinct spicy flavor with cinnamon and nutmeg. I remember baking carrot cake once or twice when I was young, when I didn’t know it was a winter cake. I also firmly believe climate and craving can be diagonally opposite to each other.
Now, how can I bring in winter/snow to Chennai to bake my carrot cake… then I would never have tried this wonderful cake. Remember, I come from Tamilnadu,a state where thaathas (grandpas) and aachis (grandmas) use their mufflers and pull overs for their early morning walks or temple walks, only in Maargazhi Maatham (the tamil month of Maargazhi) – mid December to mid January, when the early morning temp. would be just below 20 degrees.
This report a couple of years might summarise the actual climatic condition of Chennai, Tamilnadu -
A report recently released by the Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai, said the actual minimum temperatures fall below 20 degrees Celsius during January and February. At times, the actual minimum temperatures varies 2 to 4 degrees Celsius below normal values. Records of the past 25 years show there is a gradual rise in minimum temperatures over Chennai ranging between 17 and 20 degrees Celsius.
The Met office recorded the lowest temperature in the last 28 years on January 27, 1982 (15.6 degrees Celsius), followed by 16.2 degrees Celsius on February 3, 1982. In 2010, the minimum temperature range went up to 17.5-23.4 degrees Celsius, with a monthly mean temperature of 21.2 degrees Celsius. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-01-19/chennai/28356276_1_lowest-temperature-degrees-celsius
This is what winter means to us the Tamils! For more on our seasons – see dosaikal.com/thai-pongal-the-harvest-festival/.
Now, with global warming there is a decrease in temperature levels – where aachi has to stay with her sweater for the whole night. Now, Phnom Penh -
‘Citizens Warned to Wrap Up Against Cold Snap’
read the headlines of Cambodia Daily.
While the ministry’s website put temperatures in Phnom Penh at 21 degrees last night, Oum Ryna, director of the ministry’s meteorology department, said in some areas of the country temperatures could drop as low as 14. degrees. http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/citizens-warned-to-wrap-up-against-cold-snap-48739/
So, Carrot Cake justified!!
The FLOP STORY and The JOY OF SUCCESS
too watery… not good
When I tried as usual to make this cake a 100% whole wheat, eggless, butterless cake, it was a heart breaking flop consecutively 4 times. My desperation has no words to express that I even tried baking twice a day the same cake (of-course wasting nearly 200 gms of flour and other things twice in the same day . Thanks to my better half who never mentioned a word on wastage!). And that I tried converting the flop carrot cake into carrot cookies is another story.
The cake looked great from the outside – but was pudding like in the inside. Tried with crushed pineapple and once without the pineapple. One thing became sure – the cake was becoming too moist with yoghurt as substitute to eggs. Mixing all the wet ingredients – oil and yoghurt to sugar as first stage was making the mix more watery. So, adding pineapple created more problems.
Then I came across a few recipes – some vegan, some with all purpose flour and a few egg-less but with butter. A very few had a difference – where the dry ingredients were taken first and then the wet ingredients were added one by one to be immediately spooned into the cake tray and baked in the oven. By this the batter remained intact and didn’t let sugar and yoghurt and oil to become watery. I decided to give this a last try. Hurray!! This method worked well and my long awaited Carrot Cake was delivered in great shape!
Because of the continuous flops, I went in for a smaller cup size.
100% Whole Wheat Egg-less (No Butter) Carrot Cake
- whole wheat flour – 1 heaped cup – 125 gms
- brown cane sugar – 3/4 cup – 100gms
- salt – a pinch
- cinnamon powder – 3/4 tsp
- nutmeg powder – 1/2 tsp
- baking powder – 1 tsp – 4 gms
- baking soda – 1 tsp – 4 gms
- chopped walnuts – 1/4 – 1/2 cup
- grated carrots – 1 cup – 125 gms
- refined oil – 1/2 cup – 75 ml
- thick curds – 1/2 cup – 100 gms
- grated ginger – 1/2 tsp
- vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Method of Preparation
- Preheat oven at 175 degrees Celsius
- Grease a baking tray or place greased baking sheet, ready for the batter to be spooned in
- In a large bowl, take all the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder, baking powder and baking soda one by one except chopped walnuts
- Start adding the wet ingredients one by one – carrots and ginger first
- Next, add oil and last thick curds/yoghurt and mix well
- Incorporate well as the baking powder and baking soda with the flour should dissolve completely, yet make it quick as the yoghurt and sugar doesn’t make the batter watery
- Fold in the chopped walnuts
- Spoon the batter into the baking tray
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or till a tooth pick comes out clean.
Carrot Cakes look great with Cream Cheese Frosting – as a family we would prefer a plain carrot cake and avoid the sweet frosting. Still for the great experience of making a frosting and my latest culinary interest – please do bear with me.. my dear friends!
Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients (Less quantity for the above small cake – I had some left over frosting too)
- cream cheese (I used Philadelphia cream cheese) – 115 gms
- unsalted butter – 60 gms
- icing sugar or confectioners sugar – 110 gms
- vanilla essence – 3/4 tsp
- chopped almonds for topping
Method of Preparation
- Keep the cream cheese and butter out of refrigerator and bring to room temperature
- Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth
- Add vanilla essence
- Spoon in sugar and mix well till a spreadable texture is achieved
- Amount of sugar can be altered to individual preference – (this was a bit too sweet for us)
- Spread on the cake with a blunt knife or spatula
- Arrange chopped almonds or any other nuts of your choice or decorate as you wish.
Egg-less Whole Wheat Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting is ready!
I truly loved this cake. Raised well and fluffy and very light too, might be because of oatmeal! As a cup cake, this was also easier to pack as a break time snack for my daughter. The most delightful thing about the cake – my little princess made it herself. Most of the cakes posted in dosaikal are child-friendly in making- tested and trialled at home with my 6 year old. I give her the ingredients one after the other, while I preheat the oven; She never allows me to grease the cake tray too! So, I can bet on this, this is the best way to engage those little minds of constant energy.
I made this in a small cup measurement. Reason – with the cake series to keep going – baking a cake once a week, is too much for a small family and surely I do not want to put on those extra calories. As a kid’s snack, my kid loves to bake than to have her share.
Whole Wheat-Oatmeal Chocochip Cupcake (makes 6 cupcakes)
- whole wheat flour – 1 cup – 75 gms
- oatmeal – 1/2 cup – 30-40 gms
- brown cane sugar – 1 cup – 100 gms
- oil (used refined sunflower oil)- 1/2 cup – 50 gms
- egg – 1 no.
- baking powder – 3/4 tsp
- baking soda – 3/4 tsp
- hot milk – 1/4 cup (more or less as per consistency of cake)
- vanilla essence – 1 tsp
- chocochip – 1 handful
- chopped walnuts (optional) – 1/4 cup
*substitute 1/2 cup yoghurt in place of egg
*if yoghurt is used, quantity of milk needed might be less – adjust accordingly
*double the quantity of ingredients for more cupcakes
Method of Preparation
- Preheat oven at 175 degrees C
- cupcake tray or moulds
- Mix/Sift whole wheat flour and baking powder and keep aside
- Measure the oatmeal and mix with wheat and baking powder and keep ready
- In a wide bowl, beat the egg and mix sugar and oil
- Add vanilla essence
- To this mixture, add the dry ingredients (wheat flour, oatmeal and baking powder) in batches
- Heat milk and add to baking soda and it would turn foamy
- Pour into the cake batter immediately
- If consistency of the batter is too thick, add little more milk; the batter is good if it is spoon-able and need not be pourable
- Mix in the chocochips
- If adding walnuts, mix in little flour and then add to the batter; this would avoid walnuts settling in the bottom of the cake
- Spoon the batter into moulds
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or till tooth pick/skewer comes out clean
Remember the Chocolate Ganache that I had kept in fridge? That made a good topping on the cupcake! Slightly microwaved the thickened ganache and poured over the cupcakes and decorated as per my daughter’s wish!!
(100% Whole Wheat, Condensed Milk) Eggless Choco Walnut Cake with (trial attempted) Dark Chocolate Ganache
I have already posted a basic eggless chocolate cake previously with yoghurt (dosaikal.com/eggless-chocolate-cake/). This one is also 100% whole wheat, no butter and no eggs – but with condensed milk for a richer, more moist texture. I wouldn’t term it as a very healthy cake – this time I give it up for a little indulgence. Of course, helps my daughter not to be tempted to the best bakery in town for white flour buttery chocolate cake.
Except for a few alien souls on this earth, most of us would relish chocolate cakes or even more chocolate frosted/iced cakes and pastries. With home made vanilla, banana, carrot or chocolate cakes – such cakes from the baker have not been really a hit at home these days – thanks to my little one’s magnanimity accepting my version of cakes! Now, what next when you go to a coffee shop for a break for Ice Chocolade, the choice is from donuts, croissants or choco frosted cakes or pastries. Donuts are a big NO and Croissants are once in a while alright – but with Choco Frosted Cakes – I am lost myself!! Then, the little one has the best company of the mother and we indulge together – then the guilt is only mine. The little one’s inbuilt innocent mechanism digests it so well!
That’s what happened last week – A break with Ice Chocolade and Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache! Then, I promised her I shall try at home. I strongly believe icing is for those ‘yogic souls’ with great concentration. Icing is not my cup of tea or my piece of cake – though the piece of whole wheat cake is mine. But melting chocolate blocks and pouring on top of a cake is easier, the only problem being the finishing touch of perfection. I have tried more than a couple of times with melted chocolate topping on my cakes – tasted wonderful but not good with its looks.
Well, to achieve something you need to sacrifice something is a common phrase in Indian films and soaps since decades and no doubt that can be one of the heaviest truths of life too! So, I chose to achieve the goodness of chocolate icing not bothering about the looks of the finished product. I have also vowed to learn frosting swirls for my cup cakes. The warning signal has already been passed over to the ‘Tasting Duo of my Home’ – Father and Daughter Combo!
First the Cake.
EGGLESS CHOCO WALNUT CAKE (100% whole wheat, no butter) WITH CONDENSED MILK
Thanks to these websites from which I could get an idea of the quantity of condensed milk – but I have altered the ingredients to make the cake with whole wheat – butterless and less sweeter too-
- whole wheat flour – 1 cup – 150 gms
- cocoa powder – 3 heaped tbsp – 50 gms
- baking powder – 1 tsp – 4gms
- baking soda – 1 tsp – 4 gms
- hot milk (diluted if full cream) – 1/4 cup – 50 ml
- refined oil (sunflower oil) – 1/2 cup – 75 – 80gms
- condensed milk – 1/2 cup – 150 gms
- chopped walnuts – 1/4 cup – 30 gms
- vanilla essence – 1 tsp
- extra warm milk – 1/4 cup – 50 ml (only to be used if batter is too thick)
the dry ingredients
Method of Preparation
- Preheat oven at 175 degrees C and grease a round baking tray or place greased parchment paper in the dish as you wish
- Mix the chopped walnuts in very little flour so that the nuts do not settle in the bottom of the cake; Keep aside
- Combine whole wheat flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and keep aside
- Combine condensed milk, oil and vanilla essence in a wide bowl
- Mix baking soda and hot milk and it would become frothy, add this to the wet contents
- Fold in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into the wet batter
- If the batter is too thick, add the extra milk that is kept; the batter need not be pourable consistency – it is right if it is a spoonable consistency
- Mix the floured walnuts to the cake batter
- Spoon the batter into the cake tray/dish
- Bake for 30-40 minutes (mine took even more) depending upon the oven, till a tooth pick comes out clean
For the Ganache -
Now, what I learnt about Ganache -
Ganache is a French term referring to a smooth and velvety mixture of chocolate and cream. Its origin is a little unclear, but it is believed to have been invented around 1850. Some say it originated in Switzerland where it was used as a base for truffles. Others say it was invented in Paris at the Patisserie Siravdin.
To make Ganache, hot cream (cream with a 35-40% butterfat content) is poured over chopped semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, and the mixture is stirred until smooth. The proportions of chocolate to cream can vary depending on its use, but the basic form is equal weights of chocolate and cream. Dark, milk, or white chocolate can be used to make ganache and different flavorings can be added such as liqueurs and extracts. Butter, oil, or corn syrup can also be added when a dark shiny glaze is desired. http://www.joyofbaking.com/ganache.html
I went in search for the basic dark chocolate ganache recipe with butter and framed these two..
and chose to stick to the second but learnt from the pictures of the first!
I took the 1:1 ratio for chocolate and cream and added butter for the extra shine and glaze of the icing.
- Chocolate Bar (used 52% cocoa which is not bitter) – 200 gms
- whipping cream – 200 gms (mine was 30% milk fat)
- unsalted butter – 100 gms
Method of Preparation
- If your chocolate bar is in the freezer as mine, place it outside and bring it to normal temperature or atleast less cold to cut into small pieces and keep in a heat proof dish
- Bring the butter to room temperature
- Heat the cream in medium stove position and bring to boil
- Pour the cream over the chocolate pieces and let it melt – this might take 5 minutes
- Stir well so that the pieces are completely melted
- Mix the butter to choco-cream mixture
- Chocolate Ganache is ready to be poured and spread on the cake.
cut chocolate and pour hot cream into it
add butter and the ganache is ready to be poured
- This quantity of ingredients for ganache gives about 3 to 4 cups of pourable consistency.
- It took less than half for the above chocolate cake.
- The rest that I have stored – can be stored for months.
- I plan to make choco-swirl icing or choco truffles too! I might try the swirls on a choco-chip vanilla cup cake!!
thickened ganache in fridge
Now, I forgot to take a picture when the ganache was ready on the cake. Then, I started thinking of ways to decorate it – which as I said earlier – not my cup of tea still. I decided on chocolate curls and tried but turned out to be grated chocolate!
So, I spread the grated chocolate on top of the ganache… not really pleasing- but truly tasted good.
Then I thought again of any other means of making my daughter happy -
I had already kept the ganache in the fridge and it was set well. I took it out and spread it on the cake pieces and ended it like this!!
Believe me, the taste of Ganache was truly awesome.. just like the ones in those glass doored -wi-fied pastry shops!!
100% whole wheat cake
A long line of festivities and longer line of sweets and snacks have been in display at homes. Why not start a CAKE SERIES… while Santa is on his way!
I have always wanted to increase the list of cakes in dosaikal. The main reason is not simply a passion to bake – but to bake HEALTHY as much as possible. So, how about having a favorite snack without the guilt of adding more empty calories?!
And especially for those little ones who are always tempted towards donuts, pastries, french fries and many more in the same category of junk with white flour – why not let them have their share with fewer restrictions – with these cakes made of 100% whole wheat, without butter and mostly without eggs too!
And for adults too – these butterless delicacies can certainly help reduce those extra calories! So, don’t control your cravings.. just indulge!!
The recipes have reached this stage after a series of trial and error experimentation and I have also tried to follow a few recipes from fellow bloggers and converted the butter, egg and flour into oil, yoghurt and wheat as the previous cake recipes.
Let’s start with Whole Wheat Banana Cake, adapted from the recipe of one of my friends. The cake she had made was made to ‘Bakery Perfection’, with the flavor and aroma of banana. For me, after a few flops, this combination of ingredients turned out to be good and almost perfect for an experimentation.
100% Whole Wheat Banana Cake (Butterless and Eggless)
Due to continuous flops, I preferred to experiment with a very small cup measurement. The cup I chose was a small bowl which measures 75gms of wheat flour, equivalent to a small tea-cup. The proportions of flour, sugar and oil can be done with any cup measurement, but calculating the quantity of baking powder and baking soda might be difficult with cup measurements. Hence, the weight in grams is also given for perfect ratios.
- whole wheat flour/gothumai maavu/atta – 2 cups/150 gms
- brown cane sugar – 1 cup/100 gms
- refined oil (I always use sunflower oil) – 3/4 cup/75 gms
- yoghurt – 1 cup levelled – appr. 80-90 gms
- well ripen bananas – 4 no.s small – 1 cup/125 gms when mashed
- baking powder – 1 tsp/4 gms
- baking soda – 1 tsp/4 gms
- hot milk – 1/2 cup
- banana essence – 1 tsp (can also use vanilla essence)
had a lovely brown colour in the bottom – thanks to the gas oven
Method of Preparation
Keeping things ready
- Preheat oven at 170 degrees C or if gas oven keep the knob at 4
- Grease the required cake tin
- Sift wheat flour and baking powder and keep aside
- Mash the bananas with spoon (original recipe); I blended in a blender
Preparing the Batter
- In a wide bowl, mix oil, sugar and yoghurt
- Then, add banana essence and mashed bananas and mix well
- Dissolve baking soda in hot milk – this will form into a foamy white mixture and add this to the above batter
- Fold in the sieved flour-baking powder
- Spoon the batter in the cake tin. Smooth top with a spatula
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, depending upon the oven – till skewer comes out clean. A bigger cake would need more time.
and the upper crust soft and lighter in colour
the Taj Mahal
Here in Phnom Penh, the Capital City of the Kingdom of Cambodia, The Indian Food and Dance Festival was organized by The Embassy of India along with India Tourism and India Tourism Development Corporation, in coordination with one of the best Hotels in Cambodia, Naga World Hotel, at their Pangea Fusion Restaurant. The much awaited event was actively supported by the local Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Indian Association Cambodia (IAC). The festival was held from October 30-November 9, 2013. The Cambodian, Indian and the MNCs -(Multi-National Connoisseurs) of Exotic Food, got to relish the culinary talents of experienced Indian Chefs including Mr. Sanjay Dasari and Mr. M.C.Pal of Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi.
vilakku/lamp and pookkolam/flower arrangement
In India, Traditions vary from clan to clan – astonishingly they might vary from family to family too! Although,the overall festive nature can be the same. Here comes the importance of celebrating a festival, if not keeping track with the traditions. That is how, the celebration of Diwali with Indian Food and Indian Dance played a very significant part in rekindling the values and festive atmosphere at a home away from home!
vaazhai maram/banana tree at the entrance
The Chefs – Chef Pal and Chef Dasari from India and Chef Rana from Hotel Naga World
Why call it a festival?
All festivals in India are marked by good music and very good food. The diverse nature of the nation, might be the result of the British, mapping the then different kingdoms, cultures, languages, cuisines and above all different races (Aryan, Dravidian and the Mongoloid) to one country! Not only did the 10 day program bring to true form the multi-ethnical cuisines from various parts of India, but also presented some enchanting classical dance performances from different regions of the country and the much adored Bollywood numbers by renowned dancers from Mumbai, India. Surely a memorable family event!
the main course -ready to be revealed!
dosai from the chef
The Dancers specially arrived from India, solely for this event. The Madhurita Sarang School of Kathak is a renowned Arts school in Pune, Maharashtra. Under the able guidance of their Principal and Guru Ms. Archana Sunjay, a group of five of her students – wonderful, experienced artists gave one of the best ever Indian classical, Folk and Bollywood numbers that the city had ever seen.
The versatile performances made the event a huge success. Bharat Natyam, Kathak, Folk, Contemporary and Bollywood dances kept the spectators enthralled. The performances were not limited to the stage alone; the dancers also performed while the guests enjoyed variety Indian cuisine at the restaurant! While on stage it was a more classical affair…. at the restaurant the floor was open to folk and peppy bollywood beats.
A few clicks -
Kathak – (classical dance form of northern India)
and her students
Bharata Natyam (classical dance form of Tamilnadu, southern state of India)
There are numerous festivals exclusive to individual states or some festivals celebrated with different names in most of the states. Diwali is one festival which is celebrated with different reasons in the same name throughout the country.
Diwali need not be the festival of lights throughout India (see http://dosaikal.com/2011/12/09/thirukkaarthigai-ancient-festival-of-the-tamils/). In Tamilnadu, Karthigai Deepam is called the festival of lights. It is celebrated in the Tamil month of Karthigai which falls in November-December. Kaarthigai Deepam or Thirukkaarthigai is celebrated in all Shiva temples throughout Tamilnadu. But Thiruvannamalai temple holds a special place. Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of fire – Agni Lingam in Thiruvannamalai.
The common feature of Diwali can be celebration of the victory of good over evil.
India is undoubtedly a country of Fusions – culture, cuisine, language and so on… Dance Performance without Fusion? There was some fusion dance too!
The essence of any festival depends on individual views – but none can deny the foremost -that’s Happiness. This year’s Diwali was certainly a true happy affair with the younger generation enjoying the fun loaded events and the older generation nurturing the festive emotion with the Indian touch of food, music and dance! The folk, contemporary and bollywood numbers brought in, the vigor of young India and true India.
Folk Dance – too fast for good clicks… I need to learn more on this (the clicks).
There was always an aura of freshness and unexpected turns in the numbers that were performed -
The Contemporary Dance sent everyone mesmerized -
The Food Festival
When it came to food – the chefs had brought most of India in their pockets. Chef Sanjay Dasari, a prominent chef in successfully leading various Indian Food Festivals around the world and Chef M.C.Pal, a specialist in authentic Indian desserts showcased Indian cuisine at its best.
Rasam and Soups; Appalams and Papads; Tandoori Rotis, Naans, Dosais, Aapams and Pulavs; Plain Dal, Dal Makhani and a huge authentic variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian main courses; Grill corner – with prawns, chicken, fish and vegetables and a wide selection to Indian and Western desserts to choose from – I might have left out some more too that went uncounted yet digested well!
dosai, naan and potato dry curry…
dal and paneer..
photo courtesy (dal):keonila of blueladyblog.com
chicken and lamb..
the wide variety of desserts -
the unavoidable jilebi and gulab jamun…
The food festival was not restricted to the spread in the restaurant, it was an extended affair of learning from the chefs – a demonstration of easy yet authentic recipes was organized.
Three recipes -
1. kariveppilai era – marinated prawns with the flavour of curry leaves
2. meen moili – fish curry in coconut milk
3. sooji phirni set in glasses- semolina pudding
were demonstrated by Chefs Sanjay Dasari and Madhab Chandra Pal.
the chef -
and the platter – kariveppilai era and meen moili with pulav
the chef and the dessert – semolina pudding -
This was some mind blowing team effort transformed into a success story. The Indian Food and Dance Festival is over and the Chefs and Dancers have already left for India, yet the music and dance still lingers in the air and the taste of food is remembered during every meal. I think this would go on for a few days from now.. atleast till the next festivity steps in!
Recipes learnt – Kariveppilai Era, Meen Moili and Semolina Pudding in the next post.
Pathirpeni is a very special sweet to me and to my brother! It was and is still a speciality signature sweet of Aachi my paternal grandmother. I do not remember having pathirpeni in any other house in the big clan that we belong to. The sole supplier to all near and dear ones was Aachi – helped meticulously by Amma – my mother.
I had my miniature ‘Puri kattai’ or the spherical puri maker in wood to specially make pathirpeni and also puris. This was handed over to my daughter who used to help me make rotis, but feels she is a grown up and uses my bigger puri kattai. She painted my dear little puri kattai though the newer roller is intact.
Pathirpeni is for those with that extra sweet tooth – which might be god sent genetically or amma fed affectionately… We siblings have both – hence not one but two extras to successfully acquire that ‘happier the healthier’ plump look!
These are deep-fried crisps dipped/rubbed immediately in powdered sugar to get the snowy white finish. It is a simple sweet with minimal ingredients but one should be ready for some interesting variety of work. The sugar that melts in the mouth first is followed by the crispy crunch of the deep-fried discs.
These also involve an efficient team work. Since the count was always in hundreds, amma or aachi would knead the dough; they would take turns in pressing the spheres and frying in oil – the last quintessential part of rubbing the powdered sugar would be ours – mine and my brother… I think I did the rubbing and he contributed more into something which can also be decently termed as tasting!
So I did the rolling and frying and my 6-year-old did the sugar-coating! She wanted to make her own pathirpeni and then I was a proud mother!!
she started off like this….
and then graduated with flying colours!! – special seven that the little hands made!
These can be stored in air tight containers after cooled for a week – that’s not a concern as its life ends too quickly! Yet the tastiest crisps are those which directly come out of the oil and are delicately transferred for one’s taste buds to relish, sprinkled/rubbed very quickly with powdered sugar.
One cup of flour (about 150 gms), would yield 20-25 crisps. After a no maida/all-purpose flour and no white sugar life for many years now, this one has been an exception. Might be I try next time with whole wheat flour and brown sugar – but have to sacrifice on the colour as wheat flour would result in brown crisps and then we might call it brownie crisps!
Now to the recipe -
Pathirpeni/Sugary Snow White Crisps
Ingredients (makes 30-35)
- maida maavu/all-purpose flour – 1 1/4 cup (200 gms)
- cheeni/sugar – 1 1/4 cup (200 gms)
- thanneer/water – as needed
- uppu/salt – a pinch
- nei/clarified butter – 1 tsp
- arisi maavu/rice powder – 1 tsp
- yennai/oil – for deep frying
Method of Preparation
1. Sieve all-purpose flour, add a pinch of salt and mix enough water to make a tight dough
2. Finely powder the sugar and keep in a wide bowl or plate; the deep fried crisps would directly land inside this bowl to have a sugar bath
3. Heat oil in a pan, keep in sim position
4. In a small bowl, mix clarified butter and rice powder
5. Make three even balls of the dough
6. Spread into flat breads – chappatis/indian roti size – not too thin, not too thick
7. Do not place rotis one on top of the other before spreading the mixture as they would stick to each other and one would have to make the three flat breads again. Make one and place on a plate; spread the butter rice powder mixture, make the second one and place on top of the first; spread the mixture and make the third; now place the third on top of the second. It had become messy as I had placed before spreading – I had to do it all over again. So be cautious on this
8. Roll this triple layered roti . Now it is time to pull the rolled roti as long as possible without spoiling or breaking the texture
9. Then cut into very small bits, size enough to make small circular crisps
these are little big, i had to make them smaller
10. Roll into thin crisps – while rolling, see the side which was cut by knife – make thin puris/crisps pressing the knife cut edge into a circle. This helps the butter mixture to stay intact. Otherwise it would ooze out from the puris.
11. When the oil is ready, roll one by one and fry till crisp. We do not want a fluffy soft puri – make really thin and flat ones that come out crisp
12. Immediately drop it inside the sugar bed and apply well; the powdered sugar must have coated evenly
13. Tap the crisps slightly to reduce the excess sugar
14. Taste one to enjoy the true taste of pathirpeni – this is the most important step in my opinion; having identified the flaws (making thinner or thicker; right shape; less sugar coating; more sugar coating and so on), proceed with the next
15. Make all the crisps and let them cool
16. Store in an air tight container and enjoy.
17. Do not hesitate to help yourself with more – you won’t get those hot crisps after they are cooled – cannot be microwaved or reheated by any means!
- This is a simple one – yet, some caution on important steps would make it easier
- Try one and feel the crispness of it and accordingly try to make corrections on the thinness and crispness of the pathirpeni
- Each time, tap a little to take away the sugar if one doesn’t prefer so much sugar
- Adding cardamom powder to the powdered sugar might add some aroma and flavor though it is not added normally.