An Indian Holiday Feast

Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving break. It’s the start of the season of over-indulgence! Thanksgiving weekend was filled with good food, drinks, family, friends, shopping, gossip & spending time with three precious little nieces. While we have the traditional meal with all the accompaniments each year, I’ve never really been a fan of turkey. I had seen recipes for (east)Indian spiced turkey several times, and had also been meaning to try roasting a cornish hen for several years. I decided to try to meld both together and improvised along the way. The results were a delicious & colorful meal that worked for our taste buds :). And it was easy enough to make for a weeknight meal.

Tandoori Cornish Hen

The menu included:

For dessert, we had warm and sweet Gulab Jamoons 🙂

[Scroll down for recipes of items that are not hyperlinked.]

Tandoori Cornish Hen

Masala Corn

  • 1 cup corn kernels (cooked and drained) – I buy frozen roasted corn kernels from Trader Joe’s
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • salt to taste (use black salt / kala namak if available for a better flavor)
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice
  • cilantro for garnish

Mix all ingredients well and serve. The measurements are just a guide – adjust as per your taste.

 Peas & Carrot Pulao

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion – sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp green chilli paste (or 1 green chilli – slit)
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 tsp salt to taste

1) Heat oil in a medium pan and add the cumin seeds. Allow it to sizzle and pop for a few seconds.

2) Add the onion, ginger and green chilli. Saute on medium-high till translucent, stirring often.

3) Add the carrots and salt, and saute for 2 minutes.

4) Add the peas and cook for another 2 minutes.

5) Add the rice and saute for 1-2 minutes till it changes color.

6) Add 1 1/2 cups (one and a half) water and bring to boil.

7) As soon as the water comes to boil, stir once, reduce heat to LOW, and cook covered for about 12-15 minutes. Do not open the lid during this time. At end of cook time, open lid and gently fluff the rice with a spoon or fork. Check for doneness. Keep covered till ready to serve.

Raita

This recipe was given to me by my friend Sandhya’s mom and it is my most favorite raita recipe.

  • 1/2 medium grated cucumber
  • 1 cup greek yogurt / strained yogurt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small dry red chilli
  • 2 Tbsp grated coconut
  • salt to taste

1) Wash, peel & grate the cucumber and drain for a few minutes.

2) In a small blender bowl, add half the yogurt, cumin, chilli & coconut and blend till smooth.

3) Mix all ingredients together and salt to taste.

NOTE: If you use regular yogurt, squeeze out the water from the cucumber before mixing in.

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Cupcake Bouquet

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and I am so excited about writing my first Feature Post. I have come across many enterprising and inspiring women who balance both family and career, and are able to take the plunge to pursue their passion. This post is the first of (hopefully) many more where I can give a shout out to these wonderful ladies (and men), and spread word of their work.

Today, I am writing about CUPCAKE DELIGHTS by Hannah Jaikumar. Hanna (and her twin sister Nandini) and I went to college together, but we had lost track of each other over the years. Thanks to Facebook, we were able to reconnect a few years ago, and catch up again. Going through her photos, I was simply amazed by her baking talent. When I found out that this mother of 2 young children works full time, and runs her baking business, I felt that I had to encourage her endeavor. I’ve shared a small sample of her beautiful creations here.

Hannah's Cakes

 

Here’s a small write up about her:

ABOUT MYSELF…
Hi, I’m Hannah Jaikumar, living in Brampton, On, Canada. I am a Realtor by profession for the past 10 years, but baking/cooking has always been my passion. No matter how busy I am, I always find the time and energy to bake.

HOW DID I GET INTERESTED IN BAKING…..
My cooking skills definitely are acquired from my mom Irene who is a great cook and my inspiration. I remember when I was 6-years old, my mom had baked “Vanilla Buns” during summer vacation in Delhi, India where I grew up for the first few years. The kitchen was filled with the aroma of vanilla, and the pan was a beautiful diamond shape. I still have the pan as a keepsake. The Vanilla Buns project stayed in my memory since then and eventually got me interested in baking.

Cakes By Hannah

(Edible Sugar-paste Flowers)

WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE….
I usually measure/weigh the ingredients, and get icing bags with appropriate nozzles ready the previous night. The next morning, while the first batch is in the oven, I get the batter ready for the 2nd batch, and all the baking is done back to back. While the cakes are cooling, I get the frosting ready according to the orders placed. I prepare a basic frosting, divide it into portions, and vary the flavors with additions of extracts or fruit pulps.

My family has always supported me a lot, be it tasting tirelessly by being guinea pigs or helping me in other ways. My husband Seraphim takes care of the home front, while our 11-year old daughter Rishona keeps our 3-year old Rivka entertained. Last but not the least, thanks to my twin sister Nandini who patiently listens to all my baking ideas and stories, and gives me valuable feedback.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS….
I’ve always dreamt of starting a baking business. I started on a large scale for the first time in the spring of 2010 to raise funds for the SICK KIDS HOSPITAL in Toronto. It was the first “BAKE SALE & LEMONADE STAND” organized by my daughter Rishona. I baked 700 chocolate chip cookies in 2 days while being 5-months pregnant with our second daughter. Rishona has since continued her fundraising every year till date. Over the years I have been treating family, friends, neighbors, my daughter’s school teachers, doctors office, school custodian, school bus operator, grocery store employees, and my hair dresser to name a few.

Currently, I take orders for CUPCAKES where the flavors & frosting can be customized to suit the customer’s taste. My other speciality is over 25 custom made flavors of BISCOTTI.

 

CONTACT INFO…..

I live about 50 kms from Toronto and cater to orders from in and around the city. All orders are to be picked up.

CUPCAKE DELIGHTS BY HANNAH

Phone: (416) 268-5307

 

 

CUPCAKE BOUQUET

Cupcake Bouquet

A cupcake bouquet would be a lovely gift for any occasion – Birthday, Anniversary, Mother’s/Father’s/Grandparent’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Baby / Bridal shower, Thank You, Congratulations, etc.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, this might be the sweetest homemade gift that mom ever received.

Hannah Jaikumar from CUPCAKE DELIGHTS by Hannah was kind enough to share her method for these beautiful arrangements.

 

MATERIALS REQUIRED

Clay/Ceramic Pot or Vase – 6-inches in diameter

Pebbles to fill inside the pot

Styrofoam Ball – 6-inches in circumference

Glue gun

Tooth picks

Green tissue paper – 1 sheet (cut into 6-inch X 1-inch strips)
Fancy fabric ribbon-2-inches wide (Make a fancy bow separately.)

Cellophane wrap (optional)

13 to 18 large cupcakes [OR] 20 to 26 Medium cupcakes [OR] 30 to 36 Mini cupcakes

Butter cream frosting

Pastry bag

Icing tip of your choice according to the flower to be piped

 

Method

1)    Bake, cool and ice your cupcakes according to the flower of your choice, e.g. Roses or hydrangeas. Alternately, you can use store bought cupcakes.

(I prefer to refrigerate the iced cupcakes for 4-6 hours to firm up the icing for easy handling.)

Cupcake Bouquet

2)    Fill the pot/vase with pebbles to weigh the container down.

3)    Glue the Styrofoam ball with hot glue to hold it firmly in place.

Cupcake Bouquet

4)    Wrap the ribbon around the edge of the pot and glue at the joining. Glue the already made bow on to the front of the pot.

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5)    Keeping the bow as the front of the arrangement, insert 2 toothpicks, about 1-inch apart per cupcake. Make sure it is at a 45 degree angle, otherwise the icing will fall off or the cupcake will loosen from the paper cup.

Cupcake Bouquet

Cupcake Bouquet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6)    Place a cupcake snuggly on to the tooth picks, right in the centre. Continue by positioning 2 toothpicks per cupcake until the bottom row is complete. Adjust the tooth picks to ensure that the cupcakes are close to each other. You might have to remove and re- insert the toothpicks a few times. You can fit about 8 to 10 large cupcakes in the bottom row for a 6-inch pot and 6-inch Styrofoam ball. Move on to the next row with the same 2 toothpicks per cupcake pattern. The middle row will hold about 4-6 large cupcakes. The top will hold 1 large cupcake.

Cupcake Bouquet

7)    If using tissue paper, cut 1-inch by  6-inch strips. Fold the strips in accordion style. Carefully insert tissue paper in-between cupcakes, making sure not to touch or smudge the icing. Another easy trick is to use a pair of forceps/tweezers to insert the tissue paper. If using edible leaves follow the same procedure. Cover as much as you can so that no white Styrofoam ball is seen from the outside.

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 Cupcake Bouquet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8)    Cut a large size cellophane wrap. Place the bouquet in the center and carefully gather the cellophane wrap together. Tie a ribbon just enough to loosely hold the bouquet. I usually like to give the bouquet with a few extra cupcakes just incase 1 or 2 fall off the arrangement and can be replaced at the venue.

Cupcake Bouquet

 

YOUR CUPCAKE BOUQUET IS READY TO BE DELIVERED

 

 

 

Fig & Dates Barfi

Fig & Dates Barfi

Helloooo…. anybody out there still reading my blog?

The last few months have been so busy, and I kind of lost track of how the time was flying. In fact, I find it hard to accept that we are at the end of October already. People are making Thanksgiving & Christmas plans!!! Coming out of summer vacation and back-to-school, I’ve sat at the computer couple times and drawn a blank when I had to post my recipes. But I’m finally getting back on track, and have lined up a few yummy, easy recipes for the Diwali and holiday season. I promise to try and update my blog at least once a week and share seasonal recipes as often as possible. Hope you all enjoy the next batch of Indian sweets I will be putting up.

 

The first in the series is a Fig & Dates Barfi that is made without any processed sugar. It takes 15-20 minutes to make, and it is delicious! It can be made ahead of time, and works well for boxing as gifts.

Fig & Dates Barfi

Fig & Dates Barfi

(Makes 16 2X2-inch pieces)

  • 1 1/2 cups dry figs / anjeer – (about 15-18)
  • 1  1/2 cups seeded dates / khajoor – (about 35-40)
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup pistachio
  • 1/3 cup ghee / clarified butter
  • Edible silver foil (optional)

1) Soak figs in about a cup of hot water for about 5 minutes. Add dates to same bowl and soak for another 2-3 minutes till they are all soft and plump.

2) While fruit is soaking, heat a small pan on medium, and lightly toast the nuts separately for 2-3 minutes each, stirring constantly. Remove to a bowl and cool.

3) Coarsely chop all the nuts by hand or in a food processor, and set aside.

4) Drain the figs & dates (reserving the water),  and puree in the same food processor jar as the nuts. Add a  little of the reserved water only if needed.

5) Grease an 8X8 pan, or line it with a double layer of parchment paper so that the edges hang outside like a handle. Set aside.

6) Heat a heavy bottomed, wide pan on medium and add ghee.

7) When ghee melts, add the fig & dates puree and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly and making sure not to burn it.

8) When it seems like there is not more moisture in the mixture, and it starts to leave the sides of the pan, add the chopped nuts and mix well.

9) Cook another 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly and watching to make sure the mixture does not burn.

10) Remove from heat. Pour into the greased bowl and press lightly into the edges, and to flatten top. Allow it to cool completely.

11) Top with edible silver foil, and cut into 16 squares.

Fig & Dates Barfi

Here’s another closeup. Bars can be stored in an airtight box for about a week.