Refreshing Watermelon & Ginger Ice Tea, Summer Staples

It was a long break from blogging. Though I have been baking and cooking profusely, I was finding it comfortable with micro-blogging. The cosy winter has passed leaving us with yet another hot summer. Ginger Chai, a favourite winter staple in my food log had to take a back seat. I tried having it for a couple of days but the summer heat took a toll on health. Ginger is being greatly missed. So I thought why not introduce you all to this refreshing ice tea that brings together the aroma of ginger and the freshness of watermelon.

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Serves: 2

Prep Time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

250 ml water

250 ml fresh watermelon puree

1 tbsp fresh chopped ginger

1 tsp lime juice

5 – 8 nos Mint Leaves

1 tsp loose green tea leaves / 1 green tea bag

1 tbsp honey/ sugar or as per taste

10 – 12 nos. Small Ice cubes

Procedure:

  1. Bring water to boil with shredded ginger.
  2. Switch of the heat and turn in the green tea leaves into the pot. Place a lid and allow the tea to brew for two minutes.
  3. Strain it and keep it aside to cool down.
  4. Meanwhile, deseed a small chunk of watermelon (two cups of watermelon pieces approx.) and pulse it in a grinder.
  5. Mix the cooled down green tea and watermelon puree.
  6. Take ice cubes into a large shaker. Add lime juice, honey and mint leaves to it. Give it good shake.
  7. Add the fruity tea concoction to the tumbler and shake well. Melony Ice Tea is ready!

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In case you want to prepare it ahead of time, refrigerate the concoction without adding lime juice, honey and mint leaves. Add them just before serving.

Note:

  1. I have retained the pulp as I like the texture. You could strain it as well.
  2. If you like fizzy drinks, add plain soda to this refresher.
  3. Put a spin on it with some light rum if you are looking for a alcoholic version.

What are your favourite summer drinks?

If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, take a picture and tag it #tadkatales on Instagram! I love seeing what you come up with.

Spinach Soup, The Winter Treats

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Chilly winters call for some warm treats and as we step into this new year, I wanted to bring to you all my favourite quick, go to recipes in winters under a series, The Winter Treats. Spinach, I love it for the nutrition, deliciousness and the ease at which it can be added into any savoury dish or curry. Handful of sauteed spinach and a bowl of curd is just enough to to meet your protein, probiotic, fiber needs for a day. Not to forget the vitamin and mineral profile of greens, especially spinach. So, here I bring you the first recipe of this series – the humble spinach soup. The beauty of the recipe lies in the simplicity of ingredients and execution. Also, it doesn’t have corn starch or maida. So, all the people conscious about healthy choices – fret not. That said, it’s a yummilicious hearty treat to anyone!

spinach-soup

Do let me know about your favorite winter treats as well! 😀 Try this recipe and tag your post with the hashtag #tadkatales . I would love to hear your reviews 😀

 

 

Adios, 2016 | Kerala Plum Cake Recipe| Christmas Rum Cake| Festive Fruit Cake Recipe

kerala-plum-cake

What an year it had been, health and wellness had been the major goals as I stepped into 2016 and it was a roller coaster ride all the way. Half way through which, I started this blog <3. Cooking, going gaga over best angles to shoot food, pestering friends and family while doing so ;P , connecting with fellow foodies and bloggers on Instagram, I have done quite a bunch of things out of love for experiments. Of course there were many tasks which weren’t initiated or left incomplete. One such incomplete task includes a huge chart of recipes that I jotted down to share on the blog which I never took them to kitchen. Gasps. Still, working on disciplining myself.

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The magic lies in this potion 😉

Last post of this year is about this fantastic, rich, boozy plum cake I adapted from Marias Kitchen. This cake summed up this year for me at one go. The process of whipping whites and yellows, caramel preparation was arduous but, it was all worth it. Just a bite into this cake and I was mesmerised at subtle explosion it created on the taste buds. It is soft, fluffy with  sharp notes of sweetness and punch from rum. And no fancy sugar pastes or extra chocolate indulgence just a simple yet a poignant flavour profile. A combination which I always craved for.

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Growing up, I have only had local bakery plum cakes and I couldn’t wait to try my hands on prepping up one from scratch. I have soaked the dried fruits for about 20 days. You can soak them for one day – one year too. The more you soak, the intense it gets. 😉 Peeping into the jar everyday was so much fun. Use only a glass jar for this purpose as alcohol might react with plastic. Also, stir the dry fruits every alternate day and store in dark place away from heat.

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Let us get into the recipe.

Ingredients:

Cake Mix:

  • 2 cups Plain flour (maida)
  • 1 ¼ tsp Baking powder
  • ½ tsp Baking soda
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter @ room temp
  • 4  Eggs @ room temp
  • Vanilla essence – 2 tsp
  • 1 tbsp Jam (I used Apple Jam)
  • ¼ cup – Candied Ginger
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour to coat the dry fruit mix

Spice Powder:

  • 2 Cloves
  • 2 Cardamom
  • Cinnamon – a small piece
  • Nutmeg – a small piece

Caramel:

  • Sugar – ½ cup
  • Warm water – ¼ cup

Soaking:

  • Mixed fruits – 1 cup (¼ cup each of Almonds, Black raisins, ½ cup Kismis)
  • Rum/Brandy – 1 cup (I used Bacardi dark rum)
  • 2 inch Cinnamon stick
  • 1 Star Anise

Mature the Cake: Black rum – 6 tbsp ( I have fed 2 tbsps per day approx after baking the cake)

Procedure:

  1. Take sugar in a saucepan and heat it on low heat. Allow it to slowly melt. Keep heating on low heat till it gets nice dark colour. Now take it off the heat and add in water and heat till the sugar dissolves again. Set aside to cool.
  2. Drain the dry fruits. Preserve the rum. Roll them in 3 tbsp of maida and keep them aside.
  3. Powder the sugar.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
  5. Separate egg yolks and whites. Beat them separately. First beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Then you can use the same whisk to beat yolks.
  6. Add softened butter and sugar to the yolks. Cream them together.
  7. When it turns smooth enough, add cooled caramel, jam and vanilla essence into it. Beat slowly (min speed).
  8. Add sifted flour mix into this batter in 2-3 batches and whip.
  9. Add the flour dusted dry fruits and nuts along with 4 -5 tbsps of preserved rum.
  10. Now slowly fold in beaten egg whites in 3 – 4 batches. Mix it in using the cut and fold method. Do not over mix or whip at this point. It would release the trapped air in the whites.
  11. Pour the batter in a lined baking tin.
  12. Bake the cake in a preheated oven for 40 – 45 mins or you can even use a cooker like me. Cooker method took for about 90 minutes on low flame.
  13. Take it on to a wire rack, cool it down. Prick holes with a fork or knife and pour in rum over it. Seal it with a plastic wrap and keep it in a cool place. Repeat the process as many times as you can. I did this for three days. Slice it down and serve with a choice of toppings – ice cream, ganache or even more rum , may be 😛

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Bake this treat for yourself or your loved ones and get all the brownie points 😉  This year has been an amazing journey. I can’t feel more alive than ever , with more so ever gratitude, peace and love.

I will end this post with a powerful note from one of my favourite travel blogger, Abhinav.

So move ahead, it’s your time now. For now you can connect dots, creating constellations out of wayward stars, and you’re not among the ones who fade across the sky, but now is your time to burn like a sun, and inundate everyone in your light.

So move ahead, for you know of pain and happiness, for now you know of peace that’s contained within everything, and the peace within every piece of you, and now you know that you are not a puzzle but a beautiful story revealing itself by every passing second. 

                                                                                                           “

Life is so endlessly delicious. Embrace and savour it.  Wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2017! 😀

Eggless Gulab Jamun & Whole Wheat flour Cake | Simple Eggless Cake recipe| Instant Eggless cake recipe| How to make cake with Gulab Jamun premix recipe| Best Homemade Cake Recipe| Irresistible Basic Cake recipe |Whole Wheat Cake recipe

Apologies for the infrequent posts in here. Been busy with different kinds of documentation works lately and cooking is limited to quick, rushed up sprints. Anyways, baked this quick cake today that I couldn’t postpone this post to anytime later. This is made of gulab jamun mix and is devoid of all purpose flour. Yes, gulab jamun mix! I couldn’t believe myself looking at the soft spongy texture it acquired despite being a complete wheat flour cake. This is the second experiment with wheat flour in recent times that proved cakes with only wheat flour can also turn spongy(less dense).  I think I have come across Anu’s recipe on a facebook baker’s group few weeks earlier and it caught my eye on the saved lists today. So when I resolved to make a sweet treat, straight away went for it.

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I have used a pressure cooker to bake and it came out moist with a satisfying crumb – almost tasted like Soda Bottle Openerwala’s mawa cake. 😀

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

Serves: 8 – 10 slices

Ingredients:

Dry:

½ cup Gulab Jamun Mix powder (I used Gowardhan’s)

½ cup Whole Wheat flour

½ cup Powdered sugar

½ tsp Baking powder

¼ tsp Baking soda

A pinch of salt

Wet:

¼ tsp Vanilla Essence

½ cup milk

¼ cup oil (odorless, I used Sunflower oil)

Procedure:

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients into a homogenous mixture with a whisk or just bare hands. Sifting is optional. Just ensure there are no lumps.
  2. Whisk together all the wet ingredients.
  3. Fold in dry ingredients in two batches to the wet mixture. Mix well.
  4. Line a baking tin with some butter/ghee/oil and dust with some flour or simply use a butter paper. Pour in the batter.
  5. Bake it in an oven at 180^C or inside a pressure cooker following the cooker cake method for 30 min. Check for doneness with a toothpick or knife. 
  6. I have sprinkled a mix of oats, sesame seeds and thin hyderabadi seviya. This is purely optional.

I have used a 1 lb Loaf Tin, 18 x 9 cm (7″ x 3.5″)which can hold double the measures used in the recipe. You can use any pan, but as the pan size becomes more shallow, you have to check frequently for doneness. That tiny pinch of salt balances the mild sweetness of the gulab jamun premix and lifts the taste. It is completely optional though.

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Note:

  • I have substituted buttermilk for milk on the following day and it came out just as perfect as the one with milk.
  • The sugar quotient of this recipe can be upped if you want it to be super sweet. You could stick to the above mentioned measure, if you are going to add a glaze or frosting.

NO Onion – NO Garlic PUMPKIN DAL recipe| Gummadikaaya Pappu Recipe| Red Lentils Soup with Pumpkin Recipe| Gluten-free Lentil Soup with Pumpkin

It’s the Pumpkin season! Closer we are getting to Thanksgiving, my email feed is being stuffed up with recommendations of Pumpkin recipes. While pumpkin occupies a huge part on the tables at homes across the world in the form of pancakes,cakes, pies and warm winter soups, Indian cuisine owned this orange fleshy goodness with an unique adaa in the form of comforting dals or humble curries. Did you hear about the quintessential dish from Andhra cuisine, `Gummadikaya Pulsu‘? Will share the dish once I nail the recipe. Somehow I forget to pick up this vegetable on regular market visits. Now that I am adamant to relish this famous vegetable in all the myriad tastes, I am sure you’ll find more recipes around this golu-molu vegetable here.

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There is an other variant – the white pumpkin which is usually savoured in the form of a sweet, halwa or a vadiyams (fryums). The halwa is a pretty time consuming task hence got only cameo roles during festive occasions, Sankranthi most often. ;P And the fried vadiyams, favorites from childhood are beauties! Crushing and mixing them on the top of steaming hot white rice in the company of ghee is a food habit I picked up from mom which she picked up from grand ma. More and more I learn about food habits that define and differentiate our taste preferences and cuisines, I have been growing eager to dig up the anthropology of Indian food. How incredible it is that one life is just not enough to savour food in its uncountable forms! 😀

pumpkin-dal-tadkatales

November is the month of no onion and no garlic addendum, a practice which I couldn’t come to terms with any rationale till date. Would be happy to hear if you have any idea about this. Fed up looking at mom’s plate with plain dal or rice since the start of this month (Karteeka, its called in Telugu Calendar), I took it upon myself as a challenge to break the monotony. I wanted to have both dal and pumpkin curry one day and I was too lazy and thought why not mix them both, which brought Pumpkin Dal to the table. While I usually steam vegetables and add tadka for no onion, no garlic versions of curries, I wondered if a dal would sing the right tunes without the magic of garlic and onions. This recipe of Pumpkin Dal surprised me in all ways reimbursing belief in conjuring good dishes even without the usual ingredients. I have adapted Swasthi’s recipe from here.

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Ingredients:

1 cup chopped Pumpkin

½ cup lentils ( Here, I used Masoor Dal aka Red lentils)

3- 6 green chillies (adjust according to your spice levels and hotness of a mirchi)

2 medium sized chopped Tomatoes

¼ cup Evaporated/Pasteurized Milk

1 tbsp Mustard Oil

Salt (to taste)

Spices:

15-20 nos peppercorn

1/8 tsp Asafoetida

Handful of curry leaves

½ tsp Cumin seeds

¼ tsp Turmeric

Procedure:

  1. 1.Pressure cook lentils with 1.5 cups of water and chopped pumpkin with peppercorns, green chillies for 3-4 whistles. If you are using split pigeon pea or bengal gram, soak the dal before cooking so that it mashes up easily within 3-4 whistles.
  2. Add mustard oil into a heated up pan. Followed by asafoetida, cumin seeds and turmeric.
  3. As the cumin crackle, add chopped tomatoes. Cook them in medium flame until tomatoes come together mushy.
  4. Now, pour milk into it and simmer for 5 mins.
  5. To this, add the pressure cooked pumpkin-lentil mixture along with salt.
  6. Let the dal boil in low flame along with the tadka for 2-3 minutes and adjust the consistency of the dal with water.

I had paired it up with sauteed greens along with steamed rice. It tasted good with phulkas/rotis as well.

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Note: One could swap normal milk for coconut milk.

Did you try this recipe? Would love to hear about trial. Tag your dish @9sowmya9 with the hashtag #tadkatales on Instagram.

BADAM LADDU RECIPE| FLAX SEED LADDU RECIPE | RECIPE FOR ALMOND FUDGE BALLS | RECIPE FOR FLAXSEED FUDGE BALLS| INSTANT ENERGY SNACKS RECIPE| GHEE FREE ALMOND LADDU RECIPE| EVERYDAY HEALTHY SNACK RECIPE

 

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Here kicks off another week! Weekdays often remind me of the skipped meals to our infrequent food consumption throughout the day. Either caught up in busy meetings or wrapping up cascade communications over emails and phone calls, eating right takes a back seat! Your mind would let you grab innumerable cups of tea, coffee or sometimes even a shot of alcohol too. But, does that help? I am sure you know the answer. It’s a ‘NO’ !

Amidst the hola-pola of busy schedules, what can we do to keep up our energy levels and take care of our health? Isn’t handy to have something in your bag to endure quick hunger pangs during the busy week days?! No, do not get the idea of chocolates or the touted energy bars. How about some homemade fudge balls aka laddus made out of almonds and flax seeds. The health conscious folk might already have an idea about this powerful nut and seed. For the lesser known people, almonds are the best source of the good fats essential to our body along with Vitamin E, fiber and folic acid. Flaxseeds on the other hand are good sources of omega-3-fatty acids and antioxidants.

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This Diwali I got bored with the Burelu (fried sweet lentil stuffed dumplings) and Bobbatlu (Sweetened lentil stuffed Indian bread) sweet routine at home and decided on making laddus using dry fruits and flax seeds in particular. I experimented with the proportions and it worked out.  Such a relief to get something right at the first attempt! I was contemplating on what kind of binding agent should be used in the flaxseed laddu and this post cleared my confusion in picking up roasted gram dal flour over instant oats. Rolling onto the recipes –  

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Badam Laddu| Almond Fudge Balls:

Ingredients:

½ cup dry roasted Almonds

1 tbsp dry roasted Cashew

¼ cup Jaggery ( Bellam/gud)

1 tbsp Raisins (kismis)

2 pods Cardamom

Procedure:

  1. Roast the almonds and cashew on medium to low heat till they get crunchy.
  2. Grate the jaggery or chop it into smaller chunks to ease the process of grinding.
  3. Remove the husk of the cardamom pod.
  4. Once the roasted nuts cool down, take all the ingredients into the mixer-jar and run it on pulse mode till you get it together.
  5. If you don’t have pulse option in your grinder, run the mixture in intervals lasting only few seconds. Else, the mixture would turn into a nut butter. The oil released from the nuts would be optimum when pulsed at short bursts, helps getting the laddus in shape.
  6. Roll the mixture into balls between your palms. Delicious almond laddus are ready! Roll them in shredded coconut for mix of flavours or fine chopped almonds for the crunch.
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Almond laddus- didn’t need a drop of ghee! Natural almond oil was enough to roll the magic.

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Flaxseed Laddu| Flaxseed and Gram flour Fudge Balls

Ingredients:

½ cup Roasted Chana Dal (veyinchina sengapappu/chutney senagapappu/bengal gram dal)

¼ cup Roasted Flax seeds

¼ cup Jaggery ( Bellam/gud)

2 pods Cardamom Seeds

3tbsp Ghee

Procedure:

  1. Roast chana dal and flax seeds on slow flame till you get the roasted fragrance and slight change in colour.
  2. Grate the jaggery.
  3. Take the roasted chana dal and flax seeds at room temperature and powder them using the grinder.
  4. Add cardamom seeds, jaggery and ghee to the jar and give it a pulse.
  5. Roll the mixture into laddus between your palms. Unlike most of the laddus, you don’t need the extra splash of ghee on your palms to roll them.  Add a bit of ghee only when the mixture doesn’t bind well into a round shape.

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And that’s it! SEE how simple these are to make! Make new batches every Sunday and stash them in the fridge to keep them fresh. It’s a crowd-pleaser – from children to adults. 

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Note: Diabetics and people who are recommended to avoid sugar and jaggery for medical reasons, please avoid this sweet. Plain nuts or powdered almond meal or flaxseed meal can be mixed with your rotis (Indian flat bread) or you could make chutney powder or add them in dips.

One Month in Pictures + What I am Loving| Food Trails in Bangalore| Bangalore Diaries| What I found in Bangalore

While I was away from blogging in the the month of September, I was busy exploring a new city -Bangalore. I visited this crammed up, extremely busy city previously but, this visit wasn’t from a traveller’s perspective. I was occupied with shadowing dietitians, learning the nuances of dietetic counselling. Most of the days, I kept myself between home and office. The thought of withstanding Bangalore’s traffic after a busy day at office was quite unsettling.  I would like to take you all through a trip of what I found during an erratic and impulsive hopping spree across the city.

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Linoui’s Dark Chocolate at Phoenix Market City. The best dark chocolate I have ever tasted!

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Banana Cake and Ginger Chai at CHAI POINT. Starbucks for TEA, I would say!

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Pretty sight of flowers on a holiday morning ❤

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Books, spices, a wide range of premium olive oils @Foodhall, One MG Mall.

Take a look at the round spices in the last horizontal column of the above collage. Black Pepper, Pink Pepper and All spice from left to right! Pink pepper, sounds fancy right? From distance, they reminded me of sparkly sugar toppings that are sprinkled on the top of cakes and cupcakes. By the way, interestingly they are not a member of the pepper family. Pink peppercorns are dried berries of Brazilian pepper tree and have a lighter peppery taste and impart fruity fragrance. ‘All spice’ also known as Jamaican pepper has a powerful medley of aromas of cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg and cloves.  I tried the tzatzki, harissa mayo, pesto mayo, greek goddess mayo and a couple of cheeses.

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Some kitchen ware to ogle at 😛 @foodhall; One MG Mall.

Apart from these I have come across ginger beers and exotic coffee syrups, tea leaves and many more. Walking in food hall, was an culinary educational experience!

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My eyes went bright as I stumbled on Jamie Oliver’s book – one of my favourite Chef! 😀

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Delicious and mouth watering Gunda berries, a famous Gujarati pickle 😀                                                                                  Never found a store bought pickle this tempting and fresh!

 

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Apollo fish and Smoked Chicken Bao at Kylie’s Bao, Church Street.

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Cheeni Kum, a special line of premium sweets and savoury wing of Anand Sweets. I was floored over the name than anything else. 😀

By the way bought the Pasanda pickle from the Cheeni Kum store. Pasanda pickles are available on Amazon too.

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Amidst the dusty and crowded market at KR Puram , the freshness of the flowers was a respite to the artsy mind.

So that’s about this trip to Bangalore. Let me know of your experiences in this urban jungle! 🙂