Monthly Archives: May 2013
I have been craving tres leches cake since Cinco De Mayo. Yea, I am crazy that way. I can nurture a craving for a long time till it balloons into an urge that envelopes me and I have no choice but to surrender to it. I caved in and made myself a tres leches cake or the cake soaked in 3 types of milk.
The original cake is a Mexican or some Latin- American creation and is very rich and seductive. One spoonful of this custard like cake leaves you asking for more. Condensed milk, heavy cream, eggs and evaporated milk come together in an irresistible way. Sweet, creamy, sinful. It is hence usually served in most places in a small portion.
But I have had enough of those small portions and wanted to really dig in.But alas I did not have enough eggs on hand. I mean it is weeknight, I need to save eggs for breakfast. I really did not want to go out and buy more eggs on a weeknight or change breakfast plans.
And thus out of necessity, an eggless tres leches cake was born.
The cake was not as “custard” like as the egg version of the same but tasty nevertheless. Soaked in milk syrup overnight it was decadent, spongy and rich. And sweet with bold taste of condensed milk. We ate it with “mucho gusto”.
A large slice was perfect as breakfast. Sweet and spongy.Darn,I could have used those eggs after all and made this a more creamy affair!
Eggless Tres Leches Cake
For the Cake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 can condensed milk
For the Soaking Syrup
- 1/2 can condensed milk
- 1 cup whole milk ( or evaporated milk)
- 1/3 rd cup fresh cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C or 325 F. Grease a bundt pan with butter and set aside.
2.Mix all the cake ingredients well for 1 minute and then pour the mixture into the pan. Bake for 25 – 27 minutes.
Remove and let cool completely.
3. Mix the syrup ingredients and beat well.Set aside till the cake is cool.
4. Take the cake out of the pan and set it on a plate with raised edges. Pour half the syrup all over the cake. The cake is spongy so does not need to be pricked with a fork before pouring the syrup.
5. Let the cake soak in the syrup for 4 hours in the fridge to overnight. Ladle the run off syrup over the cake a couple of times so as to ensure that the cake soaks it off.
6. Serve chilled with a few teaspoons of syrup poured over the sliced cake.
Mango Panhaa is a green mango cooler made by steaming raw green mangoes with cardamom and saffron. It is usually made in bulk and stored as a concentrate in the fridge throughout summer.
Growing up, freshly squeezed juice was a rare treat so mango panhaa, lemonade and rooh-afzaa were our go to thirst quenchers. Packaged juice was not common in our household. Mom always made this every Sunday and we used to drink this whenever we came back home after playing with friends. Whenever we had guests come over unexpectedly in summer, they were offered this to quench their thirst. It is refreshing and cooling.
Very similar to the Bengali Aam pora shorbot, this is made by steaming the mangoes rather than roasting them. It is very fragrant due to liberal use of cardamoms and saffron. You can add sugar to the concentrate or adjust it while serving. Paprika and cumin powder can also be added to enhance the taste though I love the basic cardamom mango goodness.
Mango Panhaa Recipe
- 3-4 firm raw mangoes
- 3-4 cups water (to boil mangoes)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 – 15 cardamom pods shelled and seeds crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon rock salt
1. Boil the mangoes in water for 15 -20 minutes till soft. Alternately pressure cook them for 2 whistles. Let cool.
2. Peel the mangoes and remove the pulp. Mash the pulp so there are lumps.
3. Add sugar, water and salt and stir over low heat till well mixed for about 5 – 10 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, and then add cardamom powder and rock salt. Taste and adjust seasonings. Let cool.
Bottle in an airtight container and refrigerate
1. Mix 1 part panhaa concentrate with 3 parts water. Stir well. Adjust salt and sugar per taste.
Green almonds are also in season. And just like ice apples they are around for a brief two to three weeks. With fuzzy pale green pods they look like almond-shaped green tiny peaches but have a distinct freshly mowed grass scent which I associate with spring!
The external pods are not edible ( unless they are very soft which is very rare to find in market). You have to peel off the external pod with a knife with patience and care. Once open, the pale yellow almost avocado like interior nestle a cream tender almond. Hold the ends of the pod down to pop the almond out or piece it with the knife tip to remove the tender kernel.
It tastes of young almond and can be eaten as is, but have patience. Toasted in a little bit olive oil with a sprinkling of salt elevates the ‘almondness’- if it is a word and adds crunch to the young almond. It can be eaten as is, sprinkled on top of salad, added to a pesto instead of pine nuts or added to jams and jellies.
Start with a bigger pile of raw pods as the actual almond is small. We only had 1/4 cup almonds from almost 2 cups of pods. Vipul finished the entire bowl while I went to put Varun down for his nap.
If the pods were tender, I am sure we could have sautéed them in olive oil and snacked on them whole. That would be more “filling”. But the once we had were a bit too “aged” for that.
Give this unusual snack a try if you do find green almonds in your farmers market. Per internet, they are in season now across France, middle-east and California. Cheers for seasonal food! Happy snacking!!
Toasted Green Almonds Recipe
- Shelled green almonds – 1/4 cup
- Olive oil – 1 teaspoon
- Salt – to taste
1. Heat oil in a skillet and saute the almonds in the oil for 1- 2 minutes. Stir continuously to prevent burning. Sprinkle salt. Adjust to taste. Serve warm.
Ice apples or tadgola or Munjul are in season! And most people don’t know about it.
This is a very low key Indian fruit which is in season in May and comes from the palm trees. A bit like tender coconut, it is full of minerals and is really refreshing on a hot day. Unfortunately not many people know about it – like the “jaam“, “ber” and “jamun“. Every summer my cousins used to visit me from Nagpur. They would come with baskets of oranges. They would spend summer with us and we all used to go to swimming class in the mornings. After the class, mom used to buy tadgola ( as ice apples are called in Marathi) for all of us. We used to stand under the hot sun waiting for the peeled and cored fruit. We relished the little squirt of water from the plump fruit and then dig into its meat. Yum! Sometimes we used to all have tender coconut.
Recently, I found a street side vendor who was selling these. We stopped the car and asked him to give us a dozen ice apples. The vendor cored out the plump chunks of ice apples from the whole palm fruit and then gave us a dozen. We ate most as is, but I wondered what else could I use them for? As they are very similar to a lychee in taste, I considered making a martini, or a mousse or a pudding. But then as we had tender coconut and oranges on hand, I made a summer drink out of them. Freshly squeezed oranges, coconut water and chopped up iced apples made a colorful summer special.
Ice apples are available at many places across Mumbai and Hyderabad. They are sold by small street side vendors. In Hyderabad they are usually sold in the morning in little carts covered with leaves. If you love local seasonal fruits then it doesn’t get any better than this. There are many more summer fruits vying for our attention now that we had our fill of mangoes – jamun, jackfruit …yipee!
But back to this orangeade, it was like recreating summer magic in a drink. Cousins, swim lessons, fights, gossip. Give it a try with fresh or drained canned lychees. I am sure it will be a hit and add tropical flair to your summer days!
Ice Apples Orangeade
- 3 ice apples chopped ( about 6 – 8 fresh lychees)
- Juice from 1 orange
- Water from 1 tender coconut
- 1 shot orange vodka (optional)
1. In a shaker, add ice cubes, and all the ingredients. Shake, shake, shake.
2. Pour in two glasses. Chill. Serve cold.
A working parent can’t have too many quick and easy dinner recipes in their repertoire. The same applies to snacks. Something that can be easily made, served warm, are filling and delicious. Savory rice cakes made with left over rice, fresh or frozen vegetables come to the rescue when you have made too much rice and the family will not have any more.
Add dices vegetables of choice for color (bell peppers, kale, golden beets, red kidney beans),crunch ( celery, broccoli) and protein (shelled edmame beans, drained canned chickpeas ). Technically beans are not veggies but they add protein to the cakes and make them filling. And as they are staple of vegetarian diet, they fall under vegetable category for me. The possibilities to customize these savory cakes are endless based on what you have on hand and what flavors you crave. Italian seasonings, mexican spices and even Chinese spices can totally render this into a completely different snack.
Rice being a binder, you don’t need anything else to hold them together. Add spices, mix and mash. Shape and either bake in oven or pan fry with a little oil. With a side of salad this can even be a filling meal. Colorful, flavorful and crunchy to boot. Not to mention the protein and the fibre. Make some extra rice ( or moong dal khichadi or risotto) just so that you can make these the following evening.
Am sure this will soon be a staple in your house just like it is in ours!
Crispy Left Over Rice and Vegetable Cakes Recipe
- 2 cups left over rice ( or khichadi)
- 1/4 cup Onion, finely diced
- 1/4 cup bell pepper finely diced ( red and yellow mix)
- 1/4 cup asparagus or French beans , diced
- 2 tablespoons green onions finely diced (only the green part)
- 1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves
- Handful spinach leaves chopped up
- 3- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 ” ginger root
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 teaspoon salt
- A generous pinch freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of hing or asafoetida
- Pinch of turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (reduce if you are not a lemon lover)
- 2 tablespoon oil (to fry)
1. Take rice in a large mixing bowl and break into smaller lumps with a spoon.
2. Add all the ingredients. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Shape the mixture into patties or cakes and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a non stick skillet. Fry them till golden brown and crispy on each side ( about 3- 4 minutes per side). Alternatively you can bake them at 325 F for 12 – 15 minutes till cooked through.
Serve warm with ketchup or mint chutney and onions and extra lemon. Enjoy!
Chances are you have seen the photos of a huge Buddha Statue rising above calm lake when you have searched for Hyderabad attractions. That lake is Hussain Sagar lake. Its an artificial lake built to solve the cities drinking water problem by Qtub Shah dynasty ( the ones now rest in Qtub Shah Tombs).
Along the lake on one side are gardens and parks known as Tank bund. In the evenings, you will find young couples in love, families out for a stroll and friends making fun of each other and things around them all along the lake front. There are chaat-walas and ice-cream sellers. And a lot of traffic driving past noisily. Its quiet only after 10 pm or before 8 am; that’s when it makes for a pleasant walk ( if it isn’t smelly;))!
There are boat rides offered to the tall Buddha monument from Lumbini Park – a small urban park with laser and light show and musical fountains. We have not taken the ferry though I know my cousin is known to take the last boat ride fairly often. She mentioned its not as crowded then and it beautiful to watch the lights of necklace road (stretch of road between NTR gardens and Sanjeevaiah park) twinkle at night.
Birla Mandir is a beautiful white marble temple dedicated to Lord Balaji and is built on top of a hillock overlooking the Hussain sagar lake. Built by Birla foundation, it offers spectacular views of the lake, tank bund, various administrative buildings, flyovers and even Lumbini Park. It is a quiet place to contemplate life as the traffic goes by below.As with all Birla temples, security is tight, photography is restricted and even cellphones are not allowed inside.
Almost everyone visiting us wants to see both these places. Luckily they are very close to each other. A late afternoon temple visit, followed by a drive around the lake is perfect prelude to dinner in Ohri’s Tansen or at the Eat Street. I have seen folks go post dinner once the traffic has died down and then enjoy ice-cream at one of the many carts that are around.
If you have no other plans, why not visit Hussain Sagar this weekend?