chocolate cherry cake

Dark chocolate cherry cake | A thank you note

Cake making is always a serious affair for me. I approach it with fear, anxiety and nervousness. I have slightly more confidence than I had a few years back but I am still a nervous wreck when I have a cake to be made. I recently made this Dark chocolate cherry cake with whipped cream and chocolate toppings for Hasini’s birthday party. I must say, I outdid myself. The recipe itself is unbelievably simple and fuss-free, it’s very hard to go wrong. That this simple and unassuming a recipe yields such a wondrously moist, deep chocolatey cake makes me wonder why I’ve separated eggs, beaten them separately & folded them gently in the past. I doubled the chocolate cake recipe from Bakingamoment site. It is a keeper. Lesson: A more complicated recipe is not necessarily a finer one. Sometimes a simple one is just as good or even better. Keep it simple.   Don’t be put off by the number of components to this cake. They’re each quite simple on their own. Together they make a beautiful Dark chocolate cherry cake that’s perfect for a birthday, a celebration or a special occasion. Here are some images from the birthday celebrations. We had a cooking theme birthday party. Hasini and her friends made their own pizzas and decorated sugar cookies with royal icing. My Mamiyaar stitched custom aprons for all the kids. These aprons were the birthday favours. The kids wore these aprons while working on their pizza and cookies. Yuvan, the lone boy wore the blue apron.   The party menu was short and simple – pizza that the kids made, Dark cherry chocolate cake, French fries and ice cream. I used my mandolin slicer to make short work of about 3 kilos of potatoes, fried them and froze them a day before the party and then fried them just before serving time. The kids relished the pizza more than usual because they had made them with their own hands. I hadn’t thought of that but was glad it worked out that way. You know how our women always head to the kitchen in the host’s house to help, to offer a lending hand, to ease the pressure. I always loved that solidarity. As a mommy who has successfully conducted another kid’s birthday party I have a thank you note to read. I need to thank all the women who...
cabbage paratha

Cabbage paratha | A kindness Challenge

Tell me it’s normal to not want to read the newspaper because it makes you sad. If you’re here for just the cabbage paratha bit, please feel free to jump right down to the recipe. If you have a bit more time, please read on. I cried last week when I read the stories of the wives, mothers of fishermen from Kanyakumari who are waiting, praying for a miracle after cyclone Ockhi. They are fighting despair as each day passes, hoping that their loved ones would return alive somehow while also wondering how to make ends meet, how to explain to the little kids at home who are asking for their “Appa”, how to pay back the loan they took for the new boat, how to pay the school fees. I pray for all those families. I urge you to pray too, for them. I am a huge believer in the power of prayers. I think it can make a difference. It is hard to be kind Too often we underestimate the value of a kind act, a small prayer, a tiny favour. We’re doing these things so rarely these days because we’re very busy being enraged about the news. There’s rarely anything positive or happy in the news anyways. I can barely contain my despondency when I read about another rape, another hate crime, the lifelong court trials that suck the life out of the people before tilting in favour of the powerful. Add to that, the self-righteous, sweeping generalizations and twisted up narratives that people serve up on social media attacking their favourite people to hate. I don’t know if everyone has an Aadhar card, if everyone has a bank account. Everyone sure has a group they hate. Women, men, hindus, muslims, Christians, low-caste, high-caste, brahmins, devars, non-brahmins, Sanghis, Commies, Congis, Leftists, Thalapathy fans, Thala fans. It is hard to be optimistic. And precisely because it is so difficult, I think we need to try extra hard to stay hopeful, to be kind and to do good. Kindness, generosity and cheer are like muscles. We need to work them constantly so that we can put them to use when we need them most.   Goodness There was a friend in school who complained about being left out from the gang and acted up from time to time being frosty and even rude. I remember being miffed by the...
Chicken cutlet, easy make ahead party appetizer

Chicken cutlet

After “EPIC” being used to describe the most non-epic everyday things – the morning omelette, the bun from the tea kadai, discounted buffet spread with the groupon coupon, the 127th selfie against the brick wall, your new haircut, the son’s first drawing of an elephant that actually looks like a car, three friends meeting at the coffee shop, the family wedding that others don’t really care about except to see if you’re fat too and the dress you ordered online that looks nothing like Deepika Padukone’s outfit, I don’t know anymore what people intend when they say “EPIC”. Then what are Mahabharata and Ramayana? I thought those were EPICS. My most hated word of 2017 It shows a certain laziness, an unwillingness to look for the right word, and an almost obnoxious need for attention. I thought “awesome” was overused and irritating. But “EPIC” has surpassed that. “EPIC” is my most hated word of 2017. What words do you think are most over-used? Which are the ones you can’t stand. Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear. The new year is coming up fast along with plenty of holidays and parties. If you need a delicious make-ahead party snack, look no further than this chicken cutlet(try these chicken vadai too). This chicken cutlet recipe will come in extremely handy as it ticks all the boxes for a good party appetizer – it is absolutely lip-smacking, it is crunchy and deep fried and it is 90% make ahead – you can make these days ahead and freeze them and fry them up before your party. Make Chicken Cutlets if you want to feel sophisticated Hasini and Yuvan absolutely dig these chicken cutlets. They ate these all week. I loved the feeling of having read-to-fry cutlets in the fridge. It made me feel all sophisticated and prepared and in-charge of things when I really wasn’t any of that. If you want to feel sophisticated, make these chicken cutlets and stove them away in your fridge. Let me know how it feels later on. Just try not to say “EPIC”.  
Sprouts dosai, crispy, delicious dosai that is healthy too

Sprouts Dosai | Tastiest breakfast that includes sprouts

I want to share a spectacularly easy and delicious Sprouts Dosai recipe with you but I want to tell you a little story first.  Story I was cycling away at the gym. A mobile phone rang somewhere nearby. The person next to me on another cycle picked up one of his two mobiles. It was one of those large screen LED TV type mobiles and there was a bright flash of light which even I with my poor eyesight could see quite clearly. A woman’s photo flashed on the screen. I turned away because I am decent and well-mannered and I don’t peep into people’s mobiles. He spoke for a couple of minutes which I did not listen to. I happened to turn that way when he hung up, the light caught my eye and I saw “Wife Darling” in big bold letters on his phone. Now I didn’t know which way to look. I looked at others who were very seriously going about their workout uncaring of what I had witnessed. I had to say this to somebody. So I am writing it on my blog. I’ve also seen a few men who stored their wife’s number as “My Wife”. This particular Parthiban and Vadivelu scene comes to mind. Why the “My”? It’s not like you have the numbers of all the wifes in your apartment – “ABlock 19 Wife”, “B34 Wife”, “Carparking fighter’s wife”… I tried to understand the characters who’ll store their wife’s number as “Wife Darling”, “My Wife”, “Wife Chellakutti” and so on. I know we store our mom or dad’s number as mom/amma, dad/appa because that’s how we call them. But “Wife Darling”?! I tried to list down the kinds of people who’ll do that: New to marriage Is the expressive kind of person who’ll write long posts on facebook praising his wife for cooking for him and having his socks sorted. Is the kind of guy who likes to be “mothered” (smothered), the one whose wife calls him 20 times a day, tells him what to wear, what to eat, answers for him and accompanies him everywhere he goes. This is the kind of guy who’ll willingly hand over his phone to the wife who’ll read his whatsapp messages, change his picture and then name herself “wife darling”. This could be the person who forwards exclusively “nagging-wife” kind of un-funny jokes to all whatsapp...
Bean Sprouts kurma

Bean sprouts Kurma – Tasty way to include sprouts into your weightloss diet

I have immense respect for people with fit bodies. It tells me that they work hard, are disciplined and can control their mind and mouth, the last of which I’ve never fully mastered. It is no mean feat. It is not easy eating healthy. Don’t agree? Try eating a bowl of raw bean sprouts every morning for breakfast. Why bean sprouts are so good for your weight-loss diet Bean sprouts have been a part of the diet of weight-watchers and fitness enthusiasts for ages because: They are low calorie but nutrient dense and full of fibre which means they fill you up, add a ton of good things to your body but don’t count for much. One cup of bean sprouts is just 100 calories. Bean sprouts are a good source of vitamin B2 that helps boost your metabolism. The high fibre helps ease bowel movements. The Vitamin C in bean sprouts keeps your skin, nails and hair healthy. More Sprouts Recipes to Come Knowing all this makes eating bean sprouts a no-brainer. But it doesn’t make it any easier. So I racked my brain to come up with recipes where I could incorporate these sprouts. I remember making a sprouts stuffed paratha awhile back that everyone really enjoyed. I wanted to add more easy recipes to that list. Thus was born this sprouts kurma and the sprouts dosai, sprouts stir-fry and other sprouts recipes you’re about to see in the coming days. Keep watching. This sprouts kurma is such a delicious, creamy rendition of the sprouts, you’ll have no qualms at all polishing off a cup of this sprouts kurma with rotis or idiyappam or dosai. I promise. I served them with benne kadubu – karnataka style rice dumplings. Oh My, they were such a pair. Also this kurma is so much easier than your regular vegetable kurma because there are no vegetables to cut. Easy and healthy. Win-win. And you managed to down your day’s dose of sprouts in style without gagging. Win-win-win! Try today! Do let me know in the comments if you have your favourite sprouts recipes. I’d love to hear.  
Deepavali mutton kurma

Deepavali Special Mutton Kurma

Hope your Deepavali started with a nice oil bath followed by a long leisurely breakfast of several soft dosais alongside a rich, lip-smacking Deepavali special mutton kurma. Hope you planted your butt on the couch and remained there the rest of the day and watched all the programs on all the channels. Hope you stole some time in between to go burst 100 walas and 1000 walas, pisssed off your neighbours and filled the entrance to your house with a respectable amount of paper kuppai (trash). That was my Deepavali. A mutton kurma for Deepavali cannot be any ordinary kurma. It needs to be extra special and extra decadent. And so you marinate the mutton in yogurt, fry the spices in ghee, cook the mutton in milk and finish off with coconut milk. This is the kind of breakfast that fills you up till dinner time. That is essential when you have a day full of TV programs you want to catch up with. You don’t want to get off the couch to prep lunch. I know this post should have come before Deepavali along with the Diwali promotions, Diwali Sale, the great Indian shopping festival in time for you to try this recipe for Deepavali. I know I am a bad blogger. Often, it’s the build-up to Deepavali that I enjoy even more than the day itself. I loved the deluge of Deepavali sweets and murukku on my facebook and instagram feeds. I love the food blogger spirit (not me), simple, cheery and optimistic. I was surprised though that nobody seemed to be posting the most important Deepavali mutton kurma. I wondered if it wasn’t as popular a tradition as I thought it was.  or  If mutton kurma eating south Indian bloggers are under represented in the blogging community.  or If it is an outcome of censorship. I’ve talked to a couple of people who said something like this “I’ve read some of your posts. Your writing is really good. Hmm.. yours is a non-vegetarian blog right? But, I am a vegetarian.” to which I’ve very naively replied “But I post a lot of vegetarian recipes too.. (In my mind thinking “Oh, don’t stop reading because of that, Maybe I should post more vegetarian recipes.. “).  However I don’t think I should try to change anything. I consider it my foremost duty to post the traditions and recipes that aren’t...

Double beans curry, Quinoa and roasted veggies

It’s been a long time. I hope you enjoyed the Navrathri school break. I may have enjoyed the holidays more than Hasini and Yuvan. When Yuvan woke up and realized he had to go to school, he whined and pleaded. I told him firmly he had to go to school. He had had a good break. He needed to get back to his routine. After their school van disappeared around the corner, I sat down with my cup of lemon and honey and mentally ran through my master list of excuses to not go to gym – “I needed a break” – I was already in one. “I was tired” – Not really “I was late. I didn’t have time” – Not applicable “I just didn’t feel like working out. I have to listen to my body” – This seemed most appropriate. So I went with it. I just didn’t feel like working out. I had to listen to my body. So I skipped gym. I sat sipping my drink thinking of what else I could get out of. The after-holiday blues are always so hard to fight off. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to do the laundry. I don’t want to work out. I want to stay on the couch all day, undisturbed. Days like these I make my laziest meals. I hope to slowly get back into the grind. I have plenty of posts I planned to write and a host of de-cluttering to do around the house but never got around to. I am looking forward to breaking though the ennui and getting all of them done. Good luck to all of you in beating the post-holiday slow-down! The recipe I have today can easily be a lazy meal too if you remember to soak the double beans the previous night. Just dump everything in a pressure cook and cook until soft and your desired curry consistency. Serve over quinoa or hot steamed rice. Top with a fried egg if you want to up your curry and rice game. Serve hot. Enjoy!      
Red cabbage & chickpea salad

Purple cabbage Chickpea Salad | Project 50k update

Do you remember the magazine that carried a feature on women’s leggings, photographing unwary moms’ bottoms when their kurta fluttered up at the traffic signal? I have an idea the magazine may like. I’d like to contact the same magazine to ask if they’d be interested in doing a similar feature on the men in gym who wear sleeveless T-shirts and gym tights and all men/boys who strap their pants around their thighs, their back pockets near the back of the knee and their “jockey” strap for everyone to see. If someone knows someone who knows someone who supplies water cans to that magazine, please put in a word, will you? That’s how things works, don’t they? I was at the gym a couple of days back when all these distracting thoughts criss-crossed my mind. I noted them down to write about them later. I then finished my workout and checked my weight. I’d lost about 0.6 kilos over the last 10 days. Project 50k update Overall I’ve lost about 3.6 kilos from the time I started. I’ve also switched over to MyfitnessPal app. I find it crashes less often and has lot more food listings which makes it quicker to use. I’ve still got to lose a little over 14 kilos in 3 months. It’s a lot steeper than the pace at which I’ve been losing weight. But I also know I’ve had a few lackadaisical weeks when I was swamped with work, when I ate late and skipped my workout. Then there was my birthday and my son’s and so cake and ice cream. I thought I was no longer as besotted with chocolate cake, with ice cream, that I was now adult enough to not eat the entire box of leftover cake. Appears that I am not. It’s time to tighten up and stay focused. How is your weight-loss journey shaping up? Do share in the comments section below. Now I actually have a chicken parmigiana recipe in my drafts that I wanted to post but then I don’t want to disturb reader’s expectations. There were quite a few of them who felt cheated that I was eating Dal Makhani in the course of Project 50k. I am eating healthy most of the time. But I do occasionally eat rice, dal makhani or biryani. I am still very much focussed on project 50k. Here is another salad...
Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani

Hasini was doing subtraction the other day. She was puzzled and I impatient. She asked me if every time we borrowed, we borrowed only 1 and not more. I looked at her genuinely curious face. I felt sorry for being harsh. Yuvan meanwhile was singing “Dumka, A dumka, A dumka dumka dumka!” and writing the wrong spelling. The two giggled uncontrollably. I felt myself teetering between laughing and yelling. I couldn’t make up my mind which way to go. Many times I go berserk and hate myself for it. I will never understand how after dropping the bournvita on the floor, colouring the eraser black, drenching the AC remote, plotting with the thatha paati to secretly eat ice cream, losing the 3rd water bottle in 2 months and stapling together the pages of their rough book, they can look as innocent as they do when they sleep. A wave of guilt and remorse washes over me as I watch their sleeping faces, yuvi sleeps with half closed eyes, Hasini with her mouth slightly open, her arms under his head, he hugging his cheetah, his legs kicking her back. They take turns waking up during the night, to go to the toilet, to complain about the snake, the tiger, the skeleton; I pat them back to sleep without opening my eyes promising to slay them all. They insist they have to go “chuchi” and pat me to sleep and go to the toilet.  How and when do these little creatures grow up and what are the mothers to do then? Cut to morning 7:35 am I turn up the heat on the dal makhani, heat the dosa tawa and sprint to the fridge to get the dosai maavu (dosa batter) while Yuvan stands on the little stool in the kitchen tying his tie and asking what I am making for lunch. Hasini walks in with hair brush and hair bands in her hand for her ponytail, I ask her to wait, she stares out the kitchen door dreamily, Yuvan brings a bottle of milk from the fridge asking for a bournvita. He demands an answer, I tell him its Dal Makhani and Ghee rice, he kicks and screams that it is not what he wants, that it’s always Hasini’s favourites, I make a dosai, brush Hasini’s hair, take out the dosai, Hasini says it’s not her favourite either, I warn them...
Shakshuka

Shakshuka – The Muttai thokku of foreign origin

Hasini and Yuvi cracked up when they heard it’s called Shakshuka. They made up their own words out of it – “sokka pota suka”, “shoppu shappu”.. If you’ve never heard of Shakshuka, let me explain. Shakshuka is the mottai thokku of foreign origin. The muttai thokku (poached egg curry) that we make when we’re in a hurry, when we’re not in the mood to cut vegetables, when we’re craving a meaty dish but have nothing on hand and settle for an egg dish. Our humble muttai thokku is the sexy shakshuka of the western world. Like Haldi Doodh and Turmeric latte, Dal and lentil soup, kurma and curry, lassi and smoothie. Hasini loved the Shakshuka more than anyone else. Towards the end, I sprinkled some grated cheese over the eggs, covered the pan for a couple of minutes and let the cheese melt. We toasted some buttered bread slices and mopped up the Shakshuka with them. It made a delicious and filling breakfast. It’s also a great recipe to make for your next brunch.
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