Sunday, June 22, 2014

Eggless Zebra Cake

(Recipe inspired from Eggless Chocolate Cake: Edible Garden)

I just baked a cake quickly in the morning today. It was so easy that I decided to blog about it. This cake looks as good as it tastes. This cake is known as a zebra cake. Don't be turned off by the name. No zebras were harmed in the making of this one! The name is derived from the stripes on this cake.  Similar to the stripes on the body of a zebra.

My little daughter has named this a "tiger" cake. According to her, the stripes are yellow and dark brown, just like a tiger's body. :)

It is essentially a very simple cake. I used the eggless chocolate cake recipe from Edible Garden. You can find the recipe here.You just need to make two batters: chocolate and vanilla.

Here is the recipe:


For the chocolate batter:

1 and a 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of sugar
3 tbsp of cocoa powder
1/4 cup of neutral oil
1 cup of cold milk/water
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tbsp of white vineger / apple cider vinegar / lemon juice
A pinch of salt

For the vanilla batter:

1 and a 1/2 cups + 3 tbsp. of all-purpose flour
1 cup of sugar  
1/4 cup of neutral oil
1 cup of cold milk/water
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of vanilla extract 
1/2 tsp orange essence (optional) 
1 tbsp of white vineger / apple cider vinegar / lemon juice
A pinch of salt


1. Mix all the ingredients for the vanilla batter. Keep it aside. Next mix all the ingredients for a chocolate batter.
chocolate and vanilla batters
2. Now grease the cake tin and line it with butter paper (optional).
3. Pour a spoonful of batter in the center of the tin.

4. Now pour a spoonful of chocolate batter in the very center of the vanilla batter.

5. Repeat the same process. Place vanilla and chocolate batter alternatively.

6. Pour the batter alternatively till your batter is used up.

7. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C for 10 minutes. Place the cake tin in the warm oven. Bake for 40 minutes at 180 degrees C.

8. Take the cake out of the oven. Let it cool down. De-mold when you are able to touch it.

9. Slice and enjoy with chocolate sauce.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Savory Pies: A Crunchy Snack!

This week I am posting a recipe, that I had made for my little S's birthday party. These little pies are really tasty and yummy finger foods.

Previously, I had made jam tarts a number of times. But had not tried savory pies or tarts as yet. Actually, I was looking for an easy recipe for a base (or tart shells) for the tarts that was not sweet.

Finally, I got a very easy recipe for short crust pastry base from Nigella Lawson's website. You can find the recipe here.

Once, my pastry base was in place, the stuffing was no challenge at all. I used the pizza sauce that I make at home and some chicken keema curry as the stuffing. Needless to say, the pies were a big hit with the kids.

Most of S's friends asked for a second....even a third helping of the pies. :)

Here is the recipe:


For the pizza sauce:
Tomatoes: 2
Garlic (chopped fine): 4-5 cloves of garlic
Salt: to taste
Sugar: to taste
Crushed black pepper: a pinch
Mixed herbs (rosemary, basil, and thyme): 1/4th teaspoon
Oil (olive oil or any neutral oil): 1 tsp

For the short crust pastry base:
Maida/ all purpose flour: 2 and a half cups
Salt: 1 teaspoon
Butter: 1 cup (chopped into pieces)
Cold water: 8 tablespoons
Oil for greasing the molds

For the stuffing:
Chicken keema curry: 1 small bowl (vegetarians can use paneer bhurji or soya keema curry)
Cheddar cheese (grated): 1/2 cup
Mozzarella cheese: 1/2 cup


Preparing the tomato pizza sauce:
1. Heat oil in a pan.
2. When the oil is heated, add the chopped garlic and stir till u get a lovely aroma of garlic. Do not over-fry or else the garlic will get burnt.
3. Next add the chopped tomatoes. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add salt and sugar. Cover and let cook on a medium flame. After 2 minutes, remove cover and stir. The tomatoes would have released water and become mushy. If your sauce appears dryish, at this time, you can add 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup.
5. Once the sauce has thickened, add the mixed herbs and crushed black pepper. Take off the flame and keep aside to cool.

Preparing the short crust pastry base (or tart shell):
1. Before preparing the base, keep the plate u will use for kneading the dough, in the fridge. If you will use a stand mixer, keep the dough hooks and the mixer bowl in the fridge. This is necessary because the vessel that you need to knead dough has to be cold. Also use chilled water to knead the dough.
2. Take the Maida/APF in the chilled plate. Add salt and the cold chopped butter to the flour and mix using you fingers/ pulse on low speed in your stand mixer using the dough hook. The butter should be mixed uniformly with the dry flour uniformly. The flour, at this point, will resemble bread crumbs.
3. Now add chilled water and knead into a firm but soft dough. Wrap the dough ball with cling film and keep it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

In case you want to bake the pies the next day, you can keep the dough stored in the fridge. This dough keeps very well for 3-4 days in the fridge. Whenever you want piping hot pies, just remove the dough from the fridge, keep outside for 10 minutes and then prepare the pies. Voila!

Assembling the pies:
1. Take a small lemon-size ball from the dough. Roll the ball into a roti of about 1/4th inch thickness.

2. For baking pies. You need small ramekins. I use tin ramekins.

3. Place the base inside the ramekin and press down the sides.

4. Place a teaspoon of pizza sauce on top of the base.

5. Now add a teaspoon full of stuffing (chicken keema curry in my case). Add grated cheeses on top. Add a pinch of oregano on top (optional).

6. Cover the pie with a another piece of the dough rolled like a roti. Press down the sides.

7. Place a small cut on the surface of the piece. This is essential to help release the steam when the pie is cooking.

8. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees C for 10 minutes.

9. Bake the pies for 20 minutes or till the top is slightly golden-brown.

10. Take out of oven. Serve warm. :)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Darjeeling: A Food Journey

This post does not have any recipe, for the simple reason that I was out on a trip to Darjeeling for the past one week. Well, Darjeeling is a well-known hill-station located about 6,730 ft above sea-level. Strangely enough, it was my first trip there though I have been visiting Kolkata once every year since I was a kid!

To reach Darjeeling, we took a train from Sealdah Station to NJP (New Jalpaiguri). Then on, we took a road trip to reach Darjeeling.

Round and round the winding hill road took us first to Kurseong and then to the Darjeeling town. As we were reaching higher elevations, the weather took on a delicious chill. Once, we reached our destination, we crashed on to the tired we were! My ever-enthusiastic hubby and Dad decided that they would try out the local eatery joint for lunch. The rest of us opted to order pizza because we did not have the mettle to walk on the hilly roads to explore local cuisine.

Next morning, hubby and I decided to explore the food-life of the Darjeeling town. Now, I love baking, so baked goodies are always close to my heart. We visited the famed "Glenary's" that is famous for cakes and bakes. The array of food was...Wow!

The array at Glenary's
The view from this foodie joint is amazing. Sitting at your table, you can get a panoramic view of the hills around you.

The view
We ordered for a Black Forest Pastry and a Chocolate Truffle pastry. The taste was yummmmm! I will let the picture do all the talking.

I have had Black Forest Pastry several times before, but the taste of this pastry was out-of-this-world! The cherries used were fresh, not the tinned variety!

Next day, I was geared up for checking out the local cuisine. After a hectic morning of sight-seeing, we set out to look for a small joint where we can taste the local food. We found such a small joint called "Shang's" near the Mall. Here we ordered for Chicken Thukpa, plain steamed rice, and Chilli Pork. The steaming bowl of Thukpa that was set in front of me was large enough to feed four people! The star attraction of the meal was the Chilli Pork. It was tangy, spicy, and very well-cooked.

Capturing the Chilli Pork before the plate gets polished off!
 The Darjeeling town has that old-time nostalgia. You will be able to feel that British influence in the architecture, food, and even the people. Scattered throughout the city, you will find small cafes, where you will sip coffee, and simple chill out. Time passes slowly and there is no rushing madness of Metro cities.

That night, we decided to haunt Glenary's once again...but this time, the restro-bar of Glenary's. The interiors of the restro-bar are done up nicely with a grandfather clock in the center of the room. The gentry is also nice, even though it is a bar. A cute foreigner couple took some pictures of the both of us. Here we had the famous Roasted Ham with French Fries and a couple of cute hot-dog buns.

The ham was succulent and the gravy was to-die-for. The buns were pillowy-soft!

No trip to Glenary's can be complete without having dessert. We opted for Chocolate Brownies topped with Chocolate Sauce and Ice-cream. The best part was that after having a plate of Roast Ham and two plates of dessert, our pocket pinch was just INR 560!

No description of Darjeeling can be complete without the description of the famous Darjeeling Tea. There are many tea-gardens in and around the town.

In the heart of the Darjeeling Mall, you can find the Golden Tip Tea Bar. The Tea Bar was an entirely new concept for me. The interiors are done up nicely with cane furniture, giving it a very cosy look. Just walk in and order any kind of tea you want!

The Managing Director of this firm is a tea-taster himself. Here, you can enjoy nearly 15-16 varieties of tea. 

The varieties of tea being displayed for tea-tasting
A cup of Orange Pekoe: poetry in a cup!
 In Golden Tip, you get aromatic teas of every variety. My parents opted for lemon tea, which they loved!

We rounded off our food journey with a visit to Keventer's, the historical food joint where a scene from the iconic movie "Kanchanjunga" was shot by the legendary Satyajit Ray.

We were so excited to sit at the very table where Ray shot his scene. This is also the spot where a scene from the movie Barfi was shot! 
Satyajit Ray shooting the iconic scene in Keventer's
The food in Keventer's is legendary...just like the place. This place is so popular that we could not find any table for breakfast in the morning. So, planned to have some lovely coffee with fried sausages and ham in the evening.

Fried sausage and ham
Thus ended our food journey in Darjeeling. When you visit here, don't just limit yourself to momos and Thukpa. Explore the will be delighted!