Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Muffins (Fat-Free)

Adulting (I hear that’s a word now) is really not fun. It involves too many grocery lists, requires too many alarm clocks and demands too many intelligent things to be said exactly when you can think of none. Worst of all, it gives you these muffins. These moist, chocolatey, peanuty, whole wheat muffins.

IMG_8275 copy

No added fat because guess what, you’re adulting now, and your body wants you to embrace at least one part of the whole process. Eat better. Delicious muffins that are actually pretty good for you. Seriously, adulting is the worst. Ugh.

Continue reading

Even Better Apple Cake

This is me following a recipe: “OHMYGOD I added one extra drop of milk, that’s it, this is ruined, my life is ruined, everything is ruined!!”

This is my Mom following a recipe: “Oooo look, a great recipe! How about I don’t follow it at all and create my own even greater recipe?”

This is me watching my Mom NOT following a recipe: “Um, ok, but that’s not what it says….”

*end of act*

IMG_8214 copy

In my mind, baking is about precision and instinct. But mostly precision. In my Mom’s case, this is really not that much of an issue. After decades of cooking and baking, apparently I will also know what it means to halve only some ingredients in a recipe, leave the others as is, triple some others, and miraculously, produce a great cake.

I was in Delhi last week, messing up my Mom’s kitchen, eating these modaks and diving into this apple cake like my life depended on it. It did, in a way.

IMG_8200 copy

IMG_8210 copy

Originally, this is a Smitten Kitchen recipe which fabulous as it sounded, was too large a cake for the oven my Mom has. So we decided to reduce the recipe a bit, but not in the way fractions are usually calculated. I will spare you the hysterics as my Mom proceeded to do the strangest math I’d ever seen. But the sum is greater than its parts, as this seriously moist, super duper flavourful cake proved.

The earlier apple cake on this blog, also a recipe from my Mom, was delicious, but this new one really takes the cake. Hee hee. Therefore, it’s an even better apple cake. There was no other title more befitting.

IMG_8207 copy

The loveliest thing about it is that the apples aren’t grated, but chopped up and layered with the batter. We had never heard of something like that, and I don’t think anyone should be making apple cake any other way.

Speaking of apples, here’s some pie, crumble and muffins.

I really think you should make this, it’s too good not to.

What you’ll need:

For the apples

6 apples

3 tbsps brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

For the batter

2 cups flour

1 and 1/2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla

What to do:

1. Peel, core and chop the apples into chunks. Toss with the cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Grease 10″ springform pan or cake dish of your choice and preheat the oven to 175 C.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil, sugars, orange juice and vanilla. Add the eggs and beat well.

5. Add the dry ingredients and fold gently to combine.

6. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan, top with half the apples, spreading them evenly. Spoon the remaining batter over the apples, smooth it out and top with the remaining apples.

7. Bake for 1 to 1.5 hours, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Baking times will vary depending on the oven you use so watch the cake carefully after 50 minutes.

8. Allow to cool a bit before slicing and jumping into it :)

IMG_8219 copy

Steamed Modaks

First off, I’m going to pretend I made these all by myself for as long as I can convince you. I won’t admit that I stared dumbfounded as my Mom, way quicker than she thinks, moulded these perfect little modaks, popped them into the steamer and all I did was pop them into my mouth.

I also won’t tell you that my grandmother, whose cooking is the stuff dreams are made of, is the creator of this recipe, with tricks I’d never even heard of.

IMG_8235 copy

I learned two things while these modaks were made. One, that they really aren’t that frightening to make at all. Two, that of all the things that could be passed down generations, I’m so glad modaks made the cut.

IMG_8224 copy

The Ganesh Chaturthi festival is an elaborate 10-day affair in many Maharashtrian homes. In mine, it’s a small and calming puja on the first day, that for the last two years, has ended in diving headfirst into a plate of steaming, soft modaks drizzled with an unholy amount of ghee.

I’ve grown to like this version for obvious reasons :D

Continue reading

Jumbo Double Chocolate Muffins

I discovered how to make those bakery-style muffins. The kind you get in coffee shops. The ones that are as big as your face and take a minimum of 30 minutes to get through.

It’s easy. All you do is take a really small bowl, make a humongous batter, then proceed to overfill muffin moulds and gasp when you see just how fast the muffins rise, expecting your oven to give up and just say “nope”.

IMG_8171 copy

What you can’t do, is make those bakery-style muffins that are dry and boring. These are dark, intensely dark, moist, chocolatey and very, very not boring. You might feel like you’ll never get through a whole muffin, but you will because they are too good to share.

Continue reading

Very Easy Ratatouille with Grilled Paneer

Sometimes the things that sound most intimidating are actually the things we could be doing in our sleep. Calculus does not count (pun unintended, I swear). But this ratatouille which is easier than watching the movie Ratatouille, definitely counts.

IMG_8155 copy

Chop veggies, add to a pan, cover the pan. Eat. I tried to make it sound complicated, I promise, but I couldn’t. The best meals requires very little panic and very little additional flavouring. I learnt this in Italy, where the ingredients are the hero of every meal. Not that I don’t love masala filled tikkas, but this ratatouille is exactly what comforting, basic food is all about. No wonder they made a movie on it.

IMG_8158 copy

What is originally a hearty but simple French stew, is also the easiest, tastiest way to get your daily serving of veggies. I found it was pretty flexible. Not all the recommended veggies will be sitting in your fridge at the moment, so make do with what you have. You’ll be amazed at how much flavour they’ll still pack in.

We ate this ratatouille spooned over golden-brown slabs of paneer or cottage cheese. In my world, paneer grows on trees and is therefore a vegetable. That’s my only justification for eating the copious amounts of it that I do. On the side was an equally quick and delicious potato salad with parsley. There was also sparkling wine just because.

There is no better weekend lunch :)

Continue reading

Roast Potato & Parsley Salad

I’m not a terribly fast cook. In fact, I’m terribly slow. Even when I have help on hand, I’m still moving around at my own pace, stirring real slow, chopping real slow. I enjoy it. I can walk fast, talk fast, read fast. Can’t cook fast.

With this salad though, no matter how hard I tried to take things slow, I couldn’t. It’s just too quick to put together.

IMG_8130 copy

Baby potatoes, roasted to golden brown perfection, fresh parsley ground with a few basic things, mix and voila. All done. The beauty of this salad is that in barely a few ingredients, you get one seriously flavourful side dish, so hearty that you could eat it as a meal in itself.

IMG_8124 copy

The salad is best when it’s chilled. Even without the mayo and sour cream and all of that, you will get that incredible signature potato salad taste thanks to all the parsley. Really, no reason not to make this!

Continue reading

Super Simple Sheera

I get thrown off balance when things around me aren’t absolutely, completely, totally precise. Vagueness has no room in my life and definitely not in my kitchen. So when experienced and fabulous cooks like my Mom help me out in cooking conundrums, I often find myself desperately going, “But what do you mean ‘just a bit of sugar’? How much is that?!”. When taste buds and instincts have some growing up to do, apparently this is what happens to me. I hope I’m not alone.

IMG_8071 copy

So last weekend, on Rakhi, when I decided to make a bowl of hot, comforting sheera, I told my Mom this needs to go on the blog, so I really must have precise proportions. Luckily, sheera actually does come with its predisposition for precision.

(Anyone noticing just how much alliteration I’ve thrown into this post already? No? Just me?)

She took it upon herself to help me convert ‘katori’ measures into cup measures. What we did till cup measures were invented, I really don’t know. And yet, I don’t remember one less than perfect cake ever coming out of my Mom’s kitchen. Life’s greatest mysteries.

Anyway. The proportions were perfect, as was this sheera. For the uninitiated, sheera is a fabulously fragrant mix of semolina (or rawa) and ghee with beautiful things like saffron and cardamom liberally thrown in. And sugar. Because what good is precision without sugar. IMG_8076 copy

Continue reading