Tomato Choka and Cheese Scones

Tried & Tested is a new event series started by Zlamushka of Zlamushka’s Spicy Kitchen, where each month a blog is highlighted and we get to try recipes from that blog. This month Cynthia’s blog Tastes Like Home is in the limelight. Cynthia has some wonderful recipes, and with every single post she seems to have something new to offer to her readers.

I had bookmarked several of Cynthia’s dishes before and this was a perfect chance to finally try those recipes. I decided to make the Tomato Choka first, the simplest recipe I’ve tried yet packed with all the flavour.

I also tried these warm delicious Cheese Scones. I sprinkled a pinch of crushed pepper on a few. These were perfect for the evening with a cup of tea.

The scones were very easy to make and were done in no time.

If you would like the recipe too, please email Cynthia over at her blog.

Raspberry Lemon Sparklers

The flavour of raspberries has been a favourite for as long as I can remember. These red berries aren't easily available in India so I hadn't actually eaten a raspberry but one way we always got to enjoy the flavour of this fruit was in the Raspberry Duet ice cream bar of Joy Ice creams. A Vanilla ice cream bar with a raspberry coating...slurp!

With the temperatures slowly climbing and the heat kicking in, Summer is finally here. What better way to cool off than with a cold refreshing drink. I decided to make something with my favourite points for guessing which flavour :-D

Raspberry Lemon Sparklers:

You will need:

1 ½ Cup Raspberries (fresh/frozen)
1/2 Sugar
1 tbsp Lemon juice
Plain Soda or Sprite
Mint Sprigs for garnish

In a medium bowl, mash the raspberries with the sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup water, then strain into a jug, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract all of the liquid. Stir in the lemon juice and add 2 cups more water.

Fill glasses halfway with ice, pour the extracted juice over the ice and top off with little bit of the soda. Garnish with mint sprigs and a few fresh raspberries (if you are using fresh).

Raspberry Lemon Sparklers is my entry to AFAM: Raspberry hosted by Dee of Ammalu's Kitchen. Thanks Dee for the lovely pick :)

MBP – Minestrone Soup

I had come across Sia’s Minestrone Soup and had immediately bookmarked it, with the hope of trying it when it was my turn to ‘spring clean’ the refrigerator. Well, that time never came and I had forgotten the soup.

With this month’s Monthly Blog Patrol(MBP) theme being “Soups/Salads, the first soup that came to mind almost instantly was this very Minestrone Soup. I always have this soup when we eat at Olive Garden, and it felt like a trip to OG while digging into this bowl of soup!

The original recipe may be found here. The following is with the modifications I made to the recipe.

You will need:

1 small Onion, finely chopped
1-2 pods of Garlic, finely chopped
2-3 large Tomatoes, cubed
1 Green Pepper, cubed
1 Red Pepper, cubed
1 cup Shells pasta (small shells)
1 can cooked Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed.
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
1 tsp Red Chilli Flakes
1 tsp Dried Basil
1 tsp Dried Oregano
5-6 cups Vegetable Stock
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add chopped garlic and onions. Saute for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Now add dried herbs and crushed chilli flakes. Mix in chopped tomatoes and sauté till it becomes pulpy, approx 1-2 mins. Add vegetable stock or water, , red kidney beans, peppers and pasta.Continue to cook on medium heat till pasta is cooked well for about 5-10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmering boil.

Serve hot with toasted bread slices and enjoy this nutritious bowl of soup.
I added a little bit of Parmesan on top, just the way I like it!

This steaming bowl of soup is off to dear Raaga of the Singing Chef, who is hosting this edition of the MBP. This event was originally started by Coffee of The Spice Cafe.

Khasta Puri and Channe Jaisalmer Ke

It’s well past the deadline and I was still scrambling to make something for this month’s RCI, featuring Rajasthani Cuisine. I emailed a friend asking her for Rajasthani recipes and she gave me three, all of which required some additional shopping to the pantry or the refrigerator. So I decided to look online and try the first few dishes which appealed to me, and I came across Khasta Puris and Jaisalmer ki Chane. I was waiting to use a packet of black chana which has been sitting in my pantry for quite sometime now, fortunately I found very good use for it.

Channe Jaisalmer Ke

You will need:

1 cup Black Channa (Chickpeas)
3 tbsp Ghee
3 Green Cardamoms
4 Cloves
1 inch pc Cinnamon
1 tsp Cumin seeds
¼ tsp Asafoetida
1 onion chopped
½ tsp Turmeric powder
2 tsp Chaat Masala powder
1 tsp Chilli powder
1 tsp Garam Masala powder
2 tsp Corriander powder
Salt to taste
3-4 Green chillies chopped
1 ½ cups Yoghurt (plain)
2 tbsp Besan (gram flour)

Soak the black channa in water overnight. Drain and pressure cook the next day with sufficient water till cooked through. Drain and set aside.

Heat ghee in a pan. Add cumin seeds, cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon. When the cumin begins to splutter, add the chopped onions and chopped green chillies. Saute till onions are soft and transparent.

In a medium bowl, blend the yoghurt, besan,chilli powder, garam masala, chaat masala and turmeric. Make a smooth paste.

Add this to the pan and mix well. Add a cup of water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and let simmer for a minute. Add the boiled, drained black channa. Season with salt. Bring to a simmering boil, add water if required. Serve hot with Khasta Puris.

Khasta Puris

You will need:

1 Cup Maida (All purpose Flour)
1 tsp Ajwain
3 tsbp Oil
Salt to taste
Water as required
Oil for deep frying

In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, ajwain, oil and water as required to make a soft dough. Cover and let sit for an hour.

Roll out into pooris and deep fry till light brown on each side. Drain excess oil on paper towels and serve hot with Channa.

This is my contribution to RCI:Rajasthan hosted by Padma of Spicy Andhra.

Mexican Feast

I fell in love with Mexican food the very first time I tried it. Everything about what I had was perfect and I knew I would be eating a lot more Mexican food than I thought. Better still was when I tried some of my restaurant favourites at home.

Santa Fe Wraps and Classic Mexican Salsa

Santa Fe Wraps

Classic Mexican Salsa

Enchiladas with Salsa Verde, Spicy Black Beans & Mexican Salsa

Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

Spicy Black Beans

Mexican Salsa

Cheese and Onion Enchiladas with Black Bean and Corn Salsa

All these dishes are off to A Worldly Epicurean’s Delight – In short A.W.E.D”, an event hosted by DK of Culinary Bazaar. This month’s event theme is Mexican cuisine. The aim of this event is to give us a chance to explore cuisines of the world, way beyond the cuisines of our own region, state or country. And that's just what I've done! :)

Babyshower Cake -- for a friend

After a week's break from blogging ( I realized that now when I saw the date on the last post), I finally decided to make a post today!

On Saturday was a friend's babyshower and I am always looking for occasions to try new cakes. Since I am only learning and experimenting with new themes, after each cake I feel more confident and ready to take on more.

I made a baby basket out of cake covered in icing. To go with it I made small baby things in Fondant, which I displayed on the cake board. I made these so I could give my friend something to keep for memory, long after the cake was gone! :)

My friend loved the cake and the first thing she said was that it was too good to cut into! :) But we did make her cut it, because all good things must be eaten (since I say so)! :-D

Spring Sensation

Last Tuesday was the last day of my Cake class, and the last course too. We learned to make delicate flowers like the Carnation and Daisies using Gumpaste.

I made a Fondant Cake with a small trinket box on top, with daisies flowing from the box.

The Daisies were easy to make and very delicate. They look so adorable that its hard to go back to making flowers with frosting! :-D Gumpaste rules!

Chilli Biscuits - Khara Biscuits

Every time those hunger pangs hit, especially in the evening between 4:30 and 6pm, too early to have dinner and a good while after lunch; I miss the numerous snacks available at bakeries in India. Every bakery was so easily accessible that not more than a few days went by without eating delicious Egg Puffs, Veg Puffs, Khara Bun, Sweet Bun or yummy cakes. In the list was also these delicious spicy biscuits flavoured with herbs and absolutely divine. Aptly named 'Khara Biscuit' it was the tasty alternative to those who frowned upon the calories loaded Benne Biscuit (Butter cookies) I knew mom used to make these for her baking classes, and I got the recipe from her last week. It was a walk down memory lane with every single bite.

You will need: (Makes 15-16)

1 Cup All purpose Flour/Maida
¾ stick (75gms) Margarine (at room temp)
2 tsp Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Salt
¾ tsp Baking powder
6-8 Green Chillies chopped (alter to suit your taste)
2 tbsp Yoghurt (plain)
10 Curry Leaves chopped into small bits
½” pc Ginger, grated
6 Mint leaves finley chopped

Preheat oven to 400F.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and powdered sugar. Using a stand up mixer or a hand held one cream the margarine till smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the cut chillies, curry leaves, mint and yoghurt. Slowly add in the flour mixture till the everything comes together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead till it becomes a smooth ball. Roll out dough till it’s a ¼ of an inch thick. Use a 2 inch wide biscuit cutter to cut the dough into as many biscuits as possible. Bring remaining dough together and repeat kneading, rolling and cutting. Place biscuits on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes till light brown on the edges.

I made this for a small tea party with friends, and it was gone in minutes! Can't wait to make these again :)

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