Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Rajma Masala (Kidney Beans Curry)

Rajma is one of my favourite bean curries and I literally had to attempt several trials to get it right. In fact one of the curries that I had to try out several times to get it right! I have tried several recipes before this version and had failed miserably. But my love for Rajma curry pushed me to try yet another luck and this recipe from my Futura Pressure Cooker book put an end to my search for a great recipe. It’s a simple recipe, uses very little spices, and is really tasty! I halved the quantity in the book and result has been the same. This serves 4-5 people, and you can easily double it to serve 10 people.

Rajma Masala (Kidney Beans Curry)
Serves 4-5 (Around 10 people with double measurements)


1 ¼ cup Dry Rajma (Kidney Beans)
1 heaped cup onion (150g), finely chopped
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 whole dry red chillies
½ Tablespoon Kashmiri chilli powder
6 flakes garlic grated
5gm (1 cm size) ginger, grated
1 heaped cup tomatoes (2 medium size, 225g), chopped
2 ¼ cup water
1 ½ teaspoon salt or as required
½ teaspoon garam masala

If you want to double the recipe, Use the measurements below:

2 ½ cup Dry Rajma (Kidney Beans)
2 heaped cup onion (300g), finely chopped
½ cup vegetable oil
3 whole dry red chillies
1 Tablespoon Kashmiri chilli powder
12 flakes garlic grated
10 gm (1 inch size) ginger, grated
2 cup tomatoes (4 medium size, 450g), chopped
4 ½ cups water
Salt - as required
1 teaspoon garam masala


1. Wash Kidney beans and Soak them overnight or in boiling water for 2-4 hours. Drain.

2. Heat oil in pressure cooker. Add chillies and stir for few seconds. Add onions and fry till golden brown, or almost brown. Add ginger garlic paste. Stir for few seconds. Add tomatoes, chilli powder and salt. Cover and cook till tomatoes are pulpy and oil shows separately (approximately 5-8 minutes), stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

3. Add beans and water. Stir. Close cooker, bring to full pressure on high heat. Reduce the heat and cook for 30-40 minutes depending on the cooker and the amount of time soaked.

4. Remove the cooker from heat and allow to cool naturally.

5. Open the cooker; partially mash beans with back of ladle till gravy is creamy. Add garam masala powder and stir. Serve hot along with chapatti, rice etc.


1. Make sure you saute onions until they are brown and cook tomatoes until oil clears.

2. As with any lentil curries, rajma masala also gets thicker as it sits. Please add water to thin it out.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Garlic-Basil Bread/ Garlic-Basil Ciabatta

Here is something so easy and yummy to munch on! I grabbed a ciabatta loaf the other day from a nearby store and thought of making some garlic bread which we really love. But I ended up making these as I had loads of basil lying around. So easy to make, and takes minimum effort and time.


1 Medium ciabatta loaf, 160g
2 Tbsp butter at room temperature
1 Heaped Tbsp Mayonnaise (I used lighter than light mayonnaise here)
½ Tbsp light Olive oil
3 garlic cloves chopped very finely
2 Tbsp chopped basil
½ cup grated mild cheddar (reduce as per wish)
Salt – if needed
Pepper - to taste (I haven’t added any)


1. Slice ciabatta into 1 inch thickness at an angle. I got 8 pieces.

2. Mix together soft butter, mayo, minced garlic, olive oil and chopped basil. Spread this mixture on the ciabatta slices.

3. Place these Ciabattas on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. Sprinkle grated cheddar on each slice and bake for about 8-10 minutes at 180 degrees until the cheese on top melts and starts taking golden patches here and there. Serve along with any soup or just have it as a starter. I served it alongside Moussakka.

N.B: You can use cheese of choice like Parmesan, Mozzarella. If you are using parmesan, you might need to reduce teh amount as the flavour is quite strong.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Strawberry Cream Gateaux

“This is one of the best cakes you ever made!”. That was the verdict of Mr.Shabs when I baked this gateaux for his birthday. Not a sweet person, not a chocolate person, he has his own inclination when it comes to sweets and bakes. Nothing like me, in fact just the plain opposite I would say. He likes plain cakes with butter icing and if it is strawberry flavoured, that would be just his kind of cake. I always prepare some sort of white cake, mainly butter based, then use cream and strawberries as filling for his birthday. But whenever I made, he mostly came up with the verdict that the cake was not as soft as we get from bakeries!!So I kept tweaking and changing the recipes to get a spongy base and it was only then I realised that husband likes sponge cake and not the regular butter based cakes!!!!!!The easiest base, that uses no butter!

Another exiting part is that there is a Kerala Kitchen event happening every month and last month it was hosted by dear Rose of magpiesrecipe. Check out the marvellous spread at KeralaKitchen. I had sent my Kallummakkaya Nirachathu for her event, and just for her event.She was kind enough to pass me the ‘Best Dish’ prize in the event. How good is that? Thank you Rose. I am so hounoured.

Meanwhile I will let you have my recipe for the gateaux, it is taken from my cake decoration book. I started relying on the book completely without making any modifications as it has been giving me the best results, just the one I have been looking for. In the actual recipe, the sponge recipe is used for making Swiss roll, which I dint want to make for the Birthday Boy, so I Just baked it in a 6” pan that is really deep. If you don’t own a deep pan of the same size, just use 7 or 8 inch pan and adjust the cooking time as necessary. Of course, when the pan size increases, cooking time reduces. The cake was simple to make, tasted superb and was so spongy that I found it a bit hard to get neat slices!

And on another note, I thought I will let you also know that my picture din’t win the prize even though it qualified for the finals due to vote (like). There were better pictures that suited the event, and they won, which I thought was was reasonable :). You can check them out @ Perizia . Did I tell you, I got a photography book last week and the book is just brilliant. The book is for the beginners and it covers every essential details of photography to biuld up to professional photography. The book explains aperture, shutter speeds, ISO, white balance, all the controls of the camera, how to shoot in low-light setting  and anything you need to know with illustration which makes it real simple for an amateur photographer. I am now learning and discovering new stuffs with the tips from the book and believe me, I am loving it. Name of teh book is 'Photography for Beginners, Vol.1" by Debbi Allen .It has over 190 pages and is associated with Samsung. It also includes a free CD which I have no clue about as I haven't gone through it yet. You can explore their site at I shall try to shoot some pics following the tips from the book and try to share it here, if time permits.  Meanwhile let's hop over to the recipe.

Strawberry Cream Gateaux
Serves 8

½ cup plain flour (Measure, then sift)
3 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
Zest from half an orange
7 Tablespoon caster sugar

50g Almonds, toasted
75g caster sugar

For the filling and frosting:
284 mls tub Double Cream
1/3 cup condensed milk
Grated zest of ½ orange
Few drops of vanilla essence
150g chopped strawberries

To decorate:
200g strawberries


1.Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celcius. Grease and line a very deep 6 inch pan or a7 inch pan.

2. In a bowl whisk the eggs sugar and orange zest on high speed for about 10 minutes until thick and pale and leaves a thick trail when the beaters are lifted.

3. Fold in the flour with a metal spoon, being careful not to knock out any air. Pour into the prepared tin. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn the cake on the wire rack, peel the parchment paper and leave to cool completely. Once the cake is taken out o foven, place the almonds in the pan and bake for about 5-8 minutes until lightly toasted.

4.Meanwhile make the praline and filling.

5. To make praline: Roughly chop the toasted almonds. Heat a pan and add sugar. Let the sugar melt and start to boil. DO NOT STIR WITH A SPOON HERE. Reduce the heat and let the sugar turn golden in colour. Take it off the heat, add the chopped nuts, mix well and pour the whole mixture on an oiled aluminium foil. Let it cool completely. (Beware: Pralines are extremely hot and it can cause serious burns. So keep yourself aloof). Once they are completely cold, break them to pieces and crush them in pestle and mortar or food processor. Or pop them into a ziplock bag and bang it with a rolling pin until you get coarse bits.

6. To make filling, whip cream along with zest until soft peaks form. Add vanilla essence and condensed milk and whip until stiff. Take out 5-6 tablespoons of this cream mixture and mix it with chopped strawberries, keeping aside the rest of the whipped cream to frost the cake.

7. If it is a 6 inch cake, you will easily get a three horizontal slices. The cake will be tall and can be sliced into 3 without much hassle. If the cake is of bigger size like 7” or 8”, you might be able to get only 2 layers. I baked mine in a deep 6” inch pan and so I had three layers.

8. Place the top most slice on serving plate. Slide in few pieces of baking paper underneath this slice of cake so it collects all mess caused while decorating the cake. Just slide in a bit so that you can pull them off after all the decoration is done.

9. Spread ½ of the strawberry-cream mixture, and place another slice of cake on top of the cream. Spread rest of the strawberry-cream mixture and place the last layer of the cake, i.e. bottom part of the cake which is flat. Gently press the cake down. Frost the cake all over with the cream that was reserved.

10. Using hand or palette knife, stick praline over the sides and decorate with sliced strawberries. You can use a bit of cream to stick the strawberries to the cake lest they fall. Once the decoration is all done, you can slowly slide off the bits of baking paper you placed under the cake.

N.B: Since the sponge has no fat in it, the cake will keep only for a maximum of 3-4 days of preparation and should be refrigerated throughout to keep its freshness.
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