So, my culinary skills have not been much to boast about. However over the years, I swear I have been getting undeniably better (Here's an earlier post on how I have been faring :)). I have up my sleeve a few sure shot hits that can be unfolded without any mitigation strategies in place, and thank god for that!
With all the time in hand that I now seem to have, I have decided to further upgrade my competency - and therefore, the past fortnight has seen me battling it out in a not-so-familiar realm - la cuisine! I have tried to go beyond my comfort zone, experiment - and all this with quite a bit of success, and so here is the brag post :D.
I learnt two very important lessons that I will take to my deathbed (oops, that came out a little over dramatic but never mind) - One, for most recipes - especially Indian ones, you need to know basic tricks and tips - so google or ask expert friends if you are stuck. Second, for every meal that you experiment, have a quick roll back option or one safe net menu item available - always!
Here go the stories of my conquests and forfeits...
I am quite a pro at making chholas (chick peas/garbanzo beans) - This time around, the advancement was the tea bags I used while boiling the chholas to give it a nice dark color; and for the gravy, I roasted the dry spices (cinnamon, cloves, cumin, red chilli, cardamom) and then used the powder - the result was expectedly delicious.
I had never attempted bhaturas (a kind of Indian bread) ever before. I used the instant bhatura recipe here, and voila it was a super success (call it beginner's luck, if you will)! I did not have baking soda on me, and on a friend's advice I used Eno instead. The trick is to use eno equal to one and a half times the amount of baking soda prescribed in the recipe.
This scrumptious recipe was a chance discovery as I googled the search phrase 'rajma (kidney beans) recipe without tomatoes' (you guessed it right, I had run out of tomatoes and had the beans already soaked over night. Followed the recipe to the T and loved the creamy texture the dahi (yogurt) gives to the gravy.
I had never tried making Indian sweets/deserts apart from kheers and payasams (which I must tell you I do a fine job with). This time, I kept a very safe main course menu - puris with matar paneer (cottage cheese and peas) and fried arbi (colocasia) and decided to attempt gulab jamuns and rava ladoos.
Ofcourse I used the popular Gits mix - it is quite an effort in itself and I consider that as cooking from scratch :D. I thought I did everything right - used milk to knead the flour instead of water, added saffron and cardamom to the sugar syrup - but when I soaked the fried jamuns in the sugar syrup - lo, behold they multiplied in size. Couldn;t they have given the diameter of which the flour balls should be :(. Vish exclaimed at the sight, "yeh gulab jamun hai yaa gulab jamun ka baap!" (loosely translated as - are these gulab jamuns or their dads - taking a dig at the humongous size). Anyways, though they were a little softer than ideal, I swear they tasted yummy. Here's the pic of the baaps...
Rava (Semolina/Suji) Ladoo
This was an almost-disaster. And I don't want to be the bad work woman who blames her tools - but I think the recipe I followed was flawed - here it is. It seemed so simplistic but the mixture was too wet to qualify for a ladoo - i tried my best to dry it out but with little success - so my ladoos were midway between halwa and a proper ladoo :(. I was shocked when Vish said he loves them and he proved it by finsihing most of the lot all by himself :) :). (P.S. Tips and links to better recipes would be appreciated).
Considering the festival inspired the blog title, I owe some allegiance to it, don't I? To get into the spirit, we bought the little fella up there (the first pic in this post) and painted it a little :).
I made pumpkin rice (recipe) and pumpkin raita (recipe) - both were a super hit and super easy to make. Considering the nutrition factor, I plan to do these more often! (Except that I cut myself twice trying to slice the raw pumpkin - next time I around I plan to bake it before cutting - to make it easier on my fingers :()
And then comes my favorite part - Halloween Style Cup Cakes. I enjoy baking for one simple reason that if you measure and follow the step-by-step procedure - you can never go wrong - atleast not in the simple recipes - unlike Indian cooking that requires a considerable amount of adept skill.
I made chocolate cup cakes with butter cream frosting following the recipe here. (The only minor variation being the color of the frosting in-keeping with the occasion.
Here are my cupcakes fresh from the oven...
And here they are, complete with all the festive regalia...
Wow, this has been a very long post - and if you are with me till now, kudos :). And wait, before you chide me on all the calories, apart from the desserts, I try to keep the food low on oil and fat but nevertheless, I can already feel the need to hit it at the gym MORE regularly.
Happy Tricking and Treating!