A Mini Flashback - Garlic Masoor dhal and Okra fry

It's -17 C today and it's going reach -23 C tonight. I have no issues with coldness. More or less used to it but one problem is coldness makes me lame and useless in the evenings and during weekends. I simply eat and crawl under my duvet. Sigh! It's been three weeks already I haven't made any recipe and did a photoshoot, yes you guessed it right I'm digging my recipe bank! Since I haven't been doing any justice to my blog thought its Mondays let me be productive! So here is it. I have beautiful memory attached to this recipe.

My mum worked as principal (currently retired) for a private school in my home town (Coimbatore) for 29 yrs. The school was managed by three trustees. One of them was very close to our family, they were old couple from Punjab who were like our God parents. Uncle was a great artist, master in abstract oil paintings and aunty was dutiful house wife and very stylish lady. You know olden days people follow strict rules and they have wonderful principles. He was very health conscious man, who used to go for walking every morning at 6:30 AM for one hour and on his way back he used to stop by our house every day except Sundays to enjoy my mum's tea (used to be his fav) and discuss politics with dad. As kids we used to dislike uncle coming to house just for one reason, coz our mum used to wake us up early and we have be ready to wish Good morning to uncle. But what we used to enjoy is to have lunch at their house. Mostly it will be potluck, mum cooked for them and aunty cooked for us. She was great cook, this used to be one of our fav food, roti, dhal, onkra sabzi, brinjal sabzi, simple salad and masala dahi. Since aunty and uncle didn't have their own kids, they treated my parents as theirs, me and my sis were pampered!

During my childhood days, I was interested in wall paintings, still I'm. My parents were generous enough to let me draw on the walls. My dad, smart enough, he painted all the walls in the house with oil paints, so I had many chance to reuse. Main reason was they let me grow with my creativity. Every weekend I used to go to uncle house to get trained with strokes and play with colors, he took me to many painting classes, I did improve after that. These days I paint when I'm extremely stressed out on charts and I concentrate mostly on abstract since they don't need extreme perfection. I simply love to paint on walls becoz they are like big paper to fill in my thoughts and colors. When my sis was expecting her first baby I decorated room with lots of glass painted (where u paint on the glass, later peal and stick it on the walls) toads, stars, doggies, butterflies and dolls just for my niece to enjoy. As days went by, unfortunately uncle became a victim to intestine cancer and we lost him forever, but the knowledge of art he imbibed in me is something I cherish. Slowly we lost aunty due to age factor...but we are still filled with their fond memories. This is the recipe I dedicate to them with lots of love and just to say we miss you! My mum inherited this recipe from aunty and I inherited from mum.


On A Date With Pear - Parmesan With Pear and Wine

Whenever the feel of my PhD going stray starts to creep within me, instantaneous revitalizing element is to treat myself extravagant or do completely out of my thinking. That's when during working hours shamelessly I end up searching recipes. My desktop either show pale boring LaTex screen with my head tug into it or food picture with palm on my face! The moment any good link is found will quickly pass it over Vinoo thro' skype she does the same. One day we were going thro' our chat history to play word mingle, we could hardly find any written messages there, it was basically all food link. Likewise she sent me this link from academiabarilla, when I was in search of pear recipes. We decided to try it out on the following weekend.

Went in search of wine pink incarnation, wanted to bring in a special effect for the evening. Wala, found it but it was half dead. Switched to giga red rose, romantic enough with few twinkling candles! Next day I made the mousse, Vinoo made spinach ricotta tortellini for dinner. It was perfect evening with wine, creamy tortellini and wine cooked pear. It was fun to cook fruit, wine gave fantastic color and honey induced great flavour. We both were in love the way it looked, texture and fragrance. But mousse had a very delicate taste, as you know Parmesan is salty cheese. The gelatin amount they gave was way too much. That spoiled the whole texture. Overall was an interesting try. I would give thumbs up for cooked pear and average for mousse. For those who would love to try we came up with better solution for mousse, vanilla ricotta mousse or just plain vanilla ice cream would be heaven with warm cooked pear. That was my date with pear, try urs but skip the mousse ha ha :) Note, chef who is teaching the recipe is cute :p

Submitting this for Monthly Mingle happening on Deeba's passionate about baking and Meeta of what's lunch honey? 


An Experiment - Baby Shower Cake

Being an experimentalist, I dare to do any of kind of experiments in whatever field it may concern. For physics research experiment, initially we get into concept, background, expertise advice and training after which, we are left alone to crack, break, fiddle own brains and not the instruments. Then gradually we master the instrument and technique.

With the thought of doing a baby shower party, did a detailed research. Mostly cupcakes trees or giant cupcake were made for these kind of parties. Creative and dreamy part of my brain rejuvenated, ordered the giant mold. Crazy me in my fantasy world went on and on imagining only about cake icing. I knew what I want use, yes fondant! Was excited, watched couple of videos did all the shopping step by step. Brought, white pink fondant, blue and pink food color, pink paper flowers, blue ribbons and mold to make fondant flowers. Since Somjai didn't know it was baby girl or boy I had to keep blue and pink. Honestly I gave more important to pink, as I wanted her to have baby girl. Reason is very simple, Somjai is Thai and Tero is Finnish and combination of Asian and Europe is awesome and sorry but Hybrid babies are super cute specially girls.

Next on the shopping list was cupcake sprinkles, brought white, pink sugar pearls, pink sparkles and pink, white sugar heart, where is blue brr I forgot :P. Then chose angel to top the cake as kind of blessing for mum and baby, you know to be on the safe side? since didn't want to loose the kind of challenge. Then randomly picked polka, plain white, blue and pink satin ribbons.

Crap! can you guess what I have missed in my preparation? The cake itself, ok I knew what cake I wanted to make, sour cream raspberry and macadamia cake but how about baking the giant cake is there something I should follow? Did crazy hunt after, but couldn't find one decent recipe specially the temperature and procedure. Finally after intensive literature survey, scribbled scraps and came up with an estimation, was confident to give it a go.

Started baking on the day before the party, first batch cake batter looked fine, started with lower part of the cake, into the oven. 45 minutes not done, 1 hour not done, 1:20 min not done. Horrified, alarmed and funked! 1 hour 40 mins cake was finally done. I could feel oxygen going thro' my lungs. Quickly made the 2nd batch, slipped into the oven. After 10 mins gave brief check thro' the glass. My heart failed, the silicone mold filliped, half of the batter was out. It was 12.00 AM already. Had tears in my eyes. Without losing hope, made simple vanilla cake batter was careful in placing into the oven and another 1:40 mins cake was done! sigh! 2:00 AM. Next was mini cupcake, wanted to complete before sleep it was easy. You know room temperature cakes are better for icing! 4:00 AM I was done. Went to sleep, can't remember if my brain rested. 7 AM was up again. Now you know how adamant I'm. Until unless I get thing completely perfectly done never I can rest, may be the reason why I'm into research.My mum is not very happy with this particular character of mine :p

Early(Saturday 7 am is extremely early for me!) morning started with fondant, made flowers, painted and left them to dry.  I looked at the cake, the shape looked fine, kind of felt cake was hard while leveling. Didn't take it to mind, started fondant layering, bottom was white and top was pink. Then arranged the flower followed by decorating with ribbons and flowers. Next was icing the cupcakes, my hands were dead by then, still manged to squeeze the cream, got the most funny shapes ever, efficiently covered it with glitters. Oh forgot to mention before, same day was my best friend Shanthi's surprise b'day party late in the evening. Rum fruit cake was baked for the party, Oh yes I'm super crazy :D

Midori was staying with me previous day and I borrowed her hand for some help. We all landed for the surprise baby shower party.  Wooo and ahhh from many of beholder my tiredness started to fly. Somjai was surprised and very happy. Her godmother is a catering teacher she initially thought the cake was made by her godmother, felt like a complement.

RESULT: Time to cut the cake, first thing Somjai asked was why is it so hard Ananda? I could see pregnant women giving maximum force :O, yes the cake crust was hard. Upper vanilla cake was dry and bottom  so called raspberry cake was "Strange" it was something like over cooked pudding. All my friends ate the cake piece, How sweet! Cupcakes were just fine. I was feeling like a real crap, Godmother and Marjut said the intention and the message for the day was more important and it showed. So over all cake baking was BAD. It got thumbs up for decorating and the way it looked.  Total preparation time was 18 hours, the longest cake baking session I ever had.

Shanthi B'day cake was good, no problem with that. Can you imagine what I wrote in Shanth's b'day card happy "D'bay" We laughed endlessly about it. Next day after Midori left, I crashed onto the pillow, wok up only on Monday morning! I wrote to Sarah from whom I brought the mould she gave tips of baking process, felt I should have done that before, but all experience counts. This is one cake and one night in my life I wouldn't forget.

All set and done, I won! Very beautiful, and super cute baby girl was born about 10 days before. I can't express how I felt when I saw baby for the first time, she smiled while she was sleeping me sitting besides her. She crawled when I touched with my super cold fingers, she slept in my arms. The first time I held my sister's baby I cried as she is the most precious gift in our lives the same I felt with Somjai's baby. I am visiting Somjai so very often these day venting my stress, being with her baby and her mom feeding me, feels like being at home. How blessed I'm to have few friends who become a family. My guess for baby girl was right, though many other friends said it was boy, I have bloody good insight :)) Very Happy!!

PS: My picture quality is not at its best, my tired hand led to many frizzy pictures!
Will write more on the technical details of baking when I get a chance to bake the cake again don't be surprised if it comes after couple of years.. 


Happy Diwali - Caramelized Fig Tart

Diwali is around the corner, so all ready for it? what a pity that it falls on working day, chance to have a party or do something good seems to be bit out of question for me in Finland. Anyways Diwali reminds me of many happenings in India, waking  up early, bursting crackers, food, sweets, extended family and what not? 

For last couple of years, my family calls me in the morning to wish me and then it will be me calling them for every one to two hours asking for updates? I can't be hooked  up with lab, computer and keep sulking at boring office. Hearing everyone on phone used to make my Diwali. Sounds better right? Candle season is back in Finland,  my favorite, best way to get rid of the darkness and those twinkling lights does cheer me up and few aromatic ones how relaxing. I recently out of great frustration did a big fruit shopping, not know what I will end up doing with all of it, fig was one of them. Turned out to be my new love. Trust me guys, if you haven't tasted fresh fig give it a try. It's worth it.

I made fig tart somewhat suitable for Diwali placing few candles around. With so many wonderful post on Indian sweets and savory all around for Diwali, fig tart can be like a odd man out, pardon me, unfortunately my hands are not very flexible when it come to preparing  Indian sweets and from my understanding it needs enormous patience and motivation, which I'm running short of, so why take chance? do you by any chance know a shop that sells motivation and patience? :P  My mum always says self praising is donkey praising, but it doesn't stop me singing glories about this quick easy tart.  Crunchy fig, crisp  tart and wonderful flavor of caramel butter was worth a try  

That's the end of my insensate words. Wish you all very happy, prosperous, fantastic and dhamakadar Diwali. For desi friends staying out of India hope you will have your own ways of making ur diwali happy :) 

I'm submitting this for Monthly Mingle happening on Deeba's passionate about baking and Meeta of what's lunch honey? 

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