Mishti Doi

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Mishti Doi (sweet yoghurt) is one of the most famous Bengali sweets and is widely popular as a dessert. Simple to look but rich in taste, Mishti Doi is quite different from other sweets. Though easily available in packaged form these days, old-timers still like it in the traditional way — served in earthen pots that soak up all the loose water and leaves the rich and sweetness to devour. You usually get this only in shops specialising in Bengali sweets, but it is an extremely simple dish and can be easily made at home. Here goes the recipe.

Mishti Doi

Mishti Doi

Ingredients:
Milk: 1 litre (full cream)
Sugar: 6 tablespoons
Curd/yoghurt: 2 tablespoons

Preparation: Boil the milk with 4 tablespoons of sugar and reduce it to half. Now heat a pan and caremalise 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add the boiling milk to the caremalised sugar and stir till the sugar completely dissolves. Let the milk cool down to room temperature. Now mix in the yoghurt and pour it into an earthen pot and leave it overnight. Once set, refrigerate it for a couple of hours and serve chilled.

LAST WORDS: Do not add yoghurt when the milk is hot, it will curdle. The amount of sugar can be increased or reduced to suit your taste. A little more sugar or less while caremalising it can bring the shade you want to bring to your Mishti Doi. instead of one big earthen pot, you can use or 4-6 small ones.

Omelet in a bun

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During late night Twitter surfing after work, waiting for the drop cab, I saw this post of a photograph of baked buns filled with something that looked like eggs. A colleague asked me something in the meanwhile and when I got back to Twitter, the post had got buried under 100s of new ones and I never had the time to fish it out.

Omelet in a bun

But the image stayed with me. My son loves burgers and I try making them at home for him. I had some buns lying in the fridge and thought of giving it a try. Out came the eggs and salamis from the refrigerator, and also some frozen peas, and mozzarella cheese, and my super breakfast dish was ready in 15 minutes flat. I posted a photo on a Facebook page for home cooks and boy, it was a hit! Within hours, I had people telling me they already tried the recipe, albeit with their own innovations, and loved it.

Here goes my recipe…

Food for thought: Omelet in a bun

Scoop out the middle

Scoop out the middle

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Pour egg mixture and sprinkle cheese on top

Ingredients:

Burger or any other buns: 4

Onions: 1 , small (diced)

Chicken/pork salami: 2 pieces (chopped)

Eggs: 4

Boiled peas: Half cup

Salt and pepper: To taste

Mozzarella cheese (grated): Half cup

Preparation: Preheat oven at 175 degrees C. Gently whip the eggs with salt, pepper, onions and salamis. Grate the cheese and set aside. Take the buns and scoop out a chunk from the middle of each of them. Now, pour the egg mixture into the holes. Sprinkle some cheese on top and put it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes or till the cheese melts.

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

Last words: It’s an experimental dish and there is nothing that you cannot alter. An alternative way to make it, which I am definitely going to try out next time, will be to pour the eggs and other ingredients separately, instead of mixing them. The yolks will stand out in that case and should give more character to the dish. And yes, as far as the baking time is concerned, you can always reduce or increase it suiting your taste, depending on the way you want your eggs to taste — chewy or gooey

 

Gajar ka halva

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If you are in North India, winters are synonymous with gajar ka halva. I got to know this fact only after I came to stay in this part of the country 14 years ago. Not that I did not know of this sweet dish made of the healthy carrots but loaded with calories, but the cult status it enjoys in the region was kind of a surprise to me.

gajar ka halwa

gajar ka halwa

My mother used to put in great efforts to cook this dish. Grating the carrots was a must, because nobody at home liked the taste when it was cooked the easy way, by boiling and mashing the carrots. She would use all sorts of goodies to give it that heavenly taste.
A bowl of hot and tasty ghee-dripping gajar ka halva generously laden with dry fruits is all you need on a freezing cold day. The day I made the dish some days back was incidentally the season’s coldest day in Delhi.
Here goes my recipe of the winter beauty.

Food for thought: Gajar ka halva

Ingredients:

Carrots: 1 kg

Sugar: 1/2 cups

Condensed milk: 1/2 tin

Milk: 1/2 litre

Khoya (Mawa): 200 grams

Cardamom: 4-5

Cashew & raisins: 1/2 cup

Ghee (clarified butter): 4 tablespoons

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Preparations: Grate the carrots and keep it aside. In a pan, heat ghee and fry the carrots till the ghee separates. The ghee will turn orange. Pour the milk and cook the carrots till done. Add sugar, condensed milk, khoya, cardamom and the dry fruits and cook till you get the desired consistency.

20140129-015017.jpgLast words: My secret ingredient in the dish was two teaspoons full of almond-saffron milk powder. And yes, I used a bit of food colour too, though that is absolutely optional.

Wine soaked sponge cake

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My 2-and-a-half-year-old son loves cakes. And I do not need a better reason to bake them. I have become so regular with cakes that my kitchen perpetually smells of the utterly-butterly calorie bombs. Well, maybe that’s exaggeration, but I do end up baking cakes once every fortnight if not week.

An unfinished bottle of wine had been lying in the closet for a long time and I decided to use it in the cake I was going to bake this time. I looked up on the Net for recipes and opted for a soaked cake for the simple reason that I did not want to completely deprive my son of it. I used the same batter to bake some extra that I did not soak in wine.

The recipe that caught my eye was one made with brandy. But I decided to substitute it with wine. Also, it was an almond cake, but I used vanilla instead. You can find the original recipe on allrecipes.co.uk.

Wine-soaked sponge cake

Wine-soaked sponge cake

So, here goes the recipe of the cake that earned me quite a lot of praise at a Sunday gathering.

Food for thought: Wine soaked sponge cake

Ingredients:

Flour: 400 g

Sugar: 400 g

Butter: 225 g

Eggs: 4, separated

Milk: 250 ml

Vanilla essence: 4 teaspoons

Water: 450 ml

Red wine: 125 ml

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Whip butter and sugar till light and fluffy

Add in the eggs, flour and milk and mix well

Add in the eggs, flour and milk and mix well

Whip egg whites separately till stiff peaks form and add it to the batter and mix well

Whip egg whites separately till stiff peaks form and add it to the batter and mix well

The consistency should be like this before the batter goes into the baking tin

The consistency should be like this before the batter goes into the baking tin

Preparation: Preheat oven to 150C. Grease and flour your baking tin and set aside. Beat the butter and 250 g of sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, blending them well into the butter mixture. Add the flour alternately with the milk. Pour in the vanilla essence. Once your batter is ready, beat the egg whites in an absolutely dry bowl until stiff peaks form. Now, fold in the egg whites into the cake mixture. Don’t mix too vigorously, but ensure the egg white has evenly blended with the batter. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in the preheated oven until a skewer inserted into it comes out clean. It may take around an hour or so, but do check before that if it’s ready. Turn off the oven when it is and let the cake cool completely.
In a pan, bring the water and 150 g of sugar to boil (for at least 10 minutes). Reduce heat and add the wine and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence. Let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes and then remove from heat. Allow the syrup to cool down to room temperature. Now, prick holes in the cooled cake and then pour in the wine syrup all over it. Let it rest for some time and your wine-soaked sponge cake is ready to serve.

Last words: For best results, make sure the eggs you are using are in room temperature. Also, it’s better to use powdered sugar for the cake. It turns fluffy with butter faster. You can use granulated sugar for the syrup.

Red…err…Orange Velvet Cake

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The Philadelphia cream cheese my brother brought from the US two months back was still resting in my fridge as I was still contemplating what to make with them. It was Christmas time soon and the heavenly Red Velvet Cake I had recently tasted at Elma’s Bakery cafe in Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village was still fresh on my mind. So the cream cheese had to go into my Red Velvet Cake, I decided.

Orange Velvet Cake

I scanned through a number of recipes on the Internet to find the one I could try at home. I did find some, but I still had to compromise on certain ingredients, which I could not manage to stock. Vanilla beans were over, so had to do with the essence. Couldn’t find Dutch-processed cocoa powder, so used regular cocoa. Didn’t have liquid colour, so had to use dry powder. But it had a disastrous effect, with the cake turning orange, though the packet said ‘RED’, yes in all CAPS.

The colour fiasco notwithstanding, the taste was good, and the way it should have tasted. Here is the recipe.

Food for thought: Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients:

Flour: 250 grams
Cocoa powder: 2 tablespoons
Eggs: 2 large
Cooking butter (unsalted): 1/2 cup
Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
Baking soda: 1 teaspoon
Sugar: 300 grams
Vanilla essence: 1 tablespoon
Buttermilk: 1 cup
Red food colour: 1 teaspoon (dry)/2 tablespoons(liquid)
White vinegar: 1 teaspoon
Beatroot: 1 (medium)  
For cream cheese frosting:
Cream cheese: 200 g
Vanilla essence: 1 teaspoon 
Icing sugar: 1 cup
Whipping cream: 200 g
Preparation: Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Grease a round cake tin and set aside. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. In the bowl of electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Grate the beatroot and extract juice out of it. Keep aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the red food colour and beatroot juice. While the mixer is on, add the flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately, to the butter and sugar mixture. Combine the vinegar and baking soda separately and fold in the fizzing mixture to the cake batter. Now pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for around 25-30 minutes, or till done. Once the cake has cooled, cling wrap it and keep it in the fridge for at least an hour. 

Cream Cheese Frosting: Using your electric mixer again, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and sugar and continue beating until smooth. Separately, whip the cream until soft peaks form and then add it to the cream cheese mixture. Whip the mixture for some more time, or till you think the consistency is right for spreading on the cake. 
Cut the cake into two layers, horizontally, using a proper knife (I used a thread). Spread the frosting generously on one of the layers and place the other one on top of it. Now frost the top and sides of the cake. Keep it back in the fridge for half and hour for the frosting to set and your Red Velvet Cake is ready to serve.
Last words: Always use the butter in room temperature for best and quick results. The cream cheese too should be in room temperature. You can use granulated sugar for the cake, but powdered form is must for the frosting. By the way, with the measurements given here, I was able to bake two cakes because my cake pan was small. Though I used only one for the frosting, originally the cake should have more layers. My recipe is inspired from a couple of recipes I found on the Internet. The one at joyofbaking.com is the closest. You can always try it for better results.