Saturday, February 27, 2010

Strawberry Smoothie

Strawberries are around and it wold be wasting strawberries if they aren't used in anything. With their sweet and tangy flavor, strawberries are used in a variety of ways from cakes to jams, jellies to shakes, juices to smoothies. I tried my first ever smoothie today. And I love it.

First of all, I had a real confusion about shakes and smoothies and the difference between them. My research enforces the point that shakes are heavier and thicker than smoothies, even though they sometimes may use similar ingredients. Smoothies are normally yogurt or juice based, but may use ice cream and milk as well, while shakes are ice cream or milk based. Smoothies also use lots of crushed ice. How do you differentiate between smoothies and shakes?

My strawberry smoothie uses milk, ice, strawberries and some sugar.



15 - 20 strawberries, hulled
1 1/2 cups milk
Sugar, to taste
2-3 cups crushed ice
Sliced strawberries, for garnish

Put strawberries and milk in a blender and blend until smooth. Add sugar and blend again. Add required amount of ice and blend again. Don't over blend to melt the ice. You need the flakiness of crushed ice, which gives the illusion of a thick drink, keeping the smoothie itself very light.

Serve in a glass garnished with sliced strawberries.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pad Thai Noodles

I love Chinese cuisine, but by Pakistani standards, it is a bit bland. So to adapt it to our tastes, we add lots of spices. That's what I did to my Chinese cooking when I wasn't aware of the Thai cuisine. Thai cuisine adapts well with our taste sense. My first ever attempt was Pad Thai noodles.

My attempt at Pad Thai noodles turned out to be sweeter than I expected, which my family found strange, so next time I would be using a little less sugar next. All other ingredients can be easily found in a traditional Pakistani kitchen.

Three basic things in the Pad Thai Noodles are 1. Noodles (ok, that was obvious :) ) 2. Pad Thai sauce 3. Chilli (lots to make the noodles really spicy). The best part about the recipe is that every ingredient can be varied to suit your taste. You can alter the vegetables as per your taste as well. I will be mentioning the amounts and vegatables I used to make this easy yet exotic dish.



300 gm noodles (slightly more than half of a 1/2 kg pack of noodles)
2 - 3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups thinly sliced carrots (I love carrots, remember? )
1 cup thinly sliced green capsicum
1-2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
4-5 tbsp chopped roasted peanuts
2 eggs
3/4 tsp tamarind dissolved in 1/4 cup of water
2 1/2 tbsp all purpose soya sauce*
Chilli flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste
3 Tbsp brown sugar

Boil noodles as directed on the packaging. In a saucepan heat oil and add noodles. Stir fry for a couple of seconds.

In a bowl, put tamarind paste, soya sauce, chilli flakes, salt and brown sugar. Mix to dissolve sugar. This is the pad thai sauce.

Add vegetables to noodles. Stir to mix with noodles. Add peanuts, leaving a tablespoon aside for garnish. Mix in noodles.

Make a well in the side and add eggs in the well. Scramble and allow them to cook. . Once cooked, you can mix the eggs in noodles or serve the eggs on top of the noodles. Serve warm garnished with peanuts.

You can also use green part of spring onions in garnish. I didn't use them because I don't like raw spring onions. You can use any selection of vegetables to garnish Pad Thai noodles.

Happy cooking!!!

* basically fish sauce is used, but I am not sure about the legitimacy of ingredients. I avoid naturally brewed soya sauce in my cooking because I found that that soya beans are fermented with wheat and the resulting soya sauce contains 2-3% alcohol. For details follow

Friday, February 12, 2010

Orange Cake

I don't really like oranges. I actually don't like any fruit with a tangy flavor. But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy oranges. I like orange flavored food, orange soft drink, orange slush and orange cake :). And this orange cake comes at the request of a dear friend.
After going through a number of orange cake recipes, I found the Sicilian Orange Cake recipe by Ellie of Almost Bourdain to be the best. It doesn't use any alcoholic ingredient which was my requirement. It also used easily available ingredients which again is wonderful.

The original recipe used butter which I substituted with oil since butter is a luxury where I live. And if someone from my region wants to follow this recipe, I don't want them to feel left out because of an expensive ingredient. Even though the cake didn't turn out to be oily, I still think I will go for a little less oil next time, maybe 190 - 200 gm rather than the 250 gm in the actual recipe.

I used a citrus glaze for icing, which is included in this post. I decorated my cake with homemade candied orange peel, which is really easy to make at home.

I used my handy kitchen scale to weigh out the ingredients. If you want a conversion utility , you can use this conversion chart.



250 gm oil
250 gm castor sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
250 gm cake flour
3 tsp baking powder
85 ml fresh orange juice

Citrus Glaze:

10 gm butter/ margarine, at room temperature
125 gm icing sugar
1 tsp honey
1 - 2 tbsp fresh orange juice

Preheat oven at 170 C/ 340 F.

In a bowl sift together flour and baking powder. In another bowl beat together oil and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in orange zest. Add flour all at once and mix well. Slowly mix in orange juice.

Pour in a greased pan and bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until done. If it starts to brown soon, cover lightly with foil. Cool cake in tin.

While the cake is baking, take a bowl, put butter/ margarine and honey and mix them. Add icing sugar and mix. Add orange juice 1 tbsp at a time and mix to reach the desired consistency.

When the cake is cooled, remove from pan and  pour glaze over it. If you prefer allow it to drip on the sides. Decorate with candied orange peel if desired. Serve.

Happy Baking!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Carrot Cake

Carrots are in season, and what other time would be best to make a carrot cake? I love carrots ans like to have carrots daily when they are in season. But monotony bores me to death, so I love using my favorite things in a variety of dishes.


This is a light and soft cake that can accompany anyone in a beautiful winter evening after a tiring day at work. This recipe specially goes to those who find it hard to feed carrots to their family. Not very sweet, it stands on the healthier side with  a sprinkling of optional nuts.



2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2 tbsp orange jiuce/milk
1/2 cup walnuts, roasted (optional)
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinammon powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a bowl beat eggs and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in oil. Add carrots, orange juice and walnuts. Mix with a spatula until combined. 

In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. Add to carrot mixture and mix to combine. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. 

The cake can be served on its own .Since a less than usual amount of sugar is used, it can be dusted with icing sugar for people who love their cakes to be on the sweeter side.

Happy Baking!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hyderabadi style green chilli (Hyderabadi mirchain)

Hyderabad is know for it's exotic cuisine with a blend of different spices giving a savory taste to food. Basic spices found in various Hyderabadi dishes are coconut, curry leaves, tamarind, peanuts etc.

Hyderabadi style green chilli is very easy to make and taken as a condiment with lentils and rice, or if you are a spice lover, you can eat it on its own. It is simply amazing when the sweet, sour and chilli flavors melt in the mouth.




250 gm green chillies (medium sized)
250 gm onions (sliced)
3-4 dry red chilles (optional)
A pinch of fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
A pinch of mustard seeds (rai)
A pinch of onion seed (kalonji)
8 -10 dried curry leaves
2 tbsp dried corriander (sookha dhanya)
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tbsp roasted black chickpeas (bhune huay kalay chanay)/ peanuts
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp tamarind pulp
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup oil (more if reqd)

Roast corriander, coconut, poppy seeds and black chickpeas/peanuts on medium heat for a a couple of minutes. Grind together to a fine a powder.

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, onion seeds and red chillies. When they start to splutter add onion and curry leaves. Don't brown onion. Add green chillies when onions get soft. Stir again. Add the ground powder. Stir to coat the chillies. Add salt, red chilli powder, sugar and tamarind pulp (remove seeds from pulp if any). Cook on low heat for 10 -15 minutes or until green chillies are tender and oil begins to separate at sides. Chillies should not be too soft. Adjust seasonings if required. Hyderabadi style green chillies are ready. They can be stored in refrigerator for upto 2 weeks.

Happy cooking!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Scrumptious Chocolate Cake

Hello world! (I had to do that being a CS major :) ). Embarking on to the wonderful journey of maintaining a food blog, I wanted it to be something I love. What could be a better option than "Chocolate" Mmmm.

This chocolate cake recipe has been adapted from "Cakes and Pastries" by California Culinary Academy. Try it once and there is no backing off from the dish until sadly, like all worldly things, it finishes ("sigh"). Even the batter is so inviting. Ssshhh, don't tell anyone but I sneaked a teaspoon of batter ;).

The cake is moist, light and fluffy, which can be enjoyed on its own at teatime, taken at breakfast, or combined with ice cream for a dessert. You can also give a slice to your kid for lunch minus the frosting. Even though the frosting tastes good, but in the long run it's not really good for health. So kids out there, if you want this for lunch, you'll have to make do without the frosting. And believe me, you won't be missing too much of the fun.

Now it's your choice to wait till the cake is covered with frosting or you can be impatient and slice it up. But be warned, there's no stopping once you start eating it. I covered it with a layer basic frosting and then with chocolate ganache which somehow got a very fudgy look. But you can use any kind of chocolate frosting you like.




3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup butter or oil
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup milk
2 cups sifted cake flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8 inch cake pans. ( I had one large so I used that).

Combine cocoa powder and boiling water and mix to form a thick paste. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla and salt. Add baking soda in milk and stir. Alternately add 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup milk in the egg mixture and mix thoroughly after each addition. Now add the cocoa mixture and mix thoroughly. Make sure no lumps are left in the batter.

Divide batter in two pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Turn out on wire rack to cool. Cool completely before applying frosting.

Apply a layer of frosting then a layer of ganache. You can also cut the cake in 2 layers and apply some frosting between layers.


25 gm butter (at room temperature)
1/2 - 3/4 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp honey
2-3 tbsp milk

Put butter, 1/2 cup icing sugar, honey and 2 tbsp milk in a bowl. Beat with a spatula to mix. If the frosting is runny, add more icing sugar and beat until desired consistency is reached. If too thick, add more milk and mix until desired consistency is reached. Makes about 3/4 cup to 1 cup. Recipe can be increased as required.


200 gm dark chocolate (broken in pieces)
1/2 cup cream

Heat cream until almost boiling. Remove from heat just before the cream boils. Pour over chocolate. Leave for 10 minutes or until chocolate is melted. Starting mixing cream and chocolate from the center with gentle hands. Leave for 10 minutes after mixing thoroughly. Apply on cake.

Happy baking!!!