Thursday, February 28, 2013


 When I first heard the name I thought it would be one of the toughest things I would be making. But the moment the recipe landed on my hands I smiled. Such a lovely looking dessert but so easy to make-cooking done just  in 15-20 minutes –A cakewalk for an even an amateur cook like me? That too an Italian Recipe…Lucky me!

I love collecting recipes of cuisines from different parts of the world-whether I make it or not…The point was to collect It. Most of the ingredients were not available back here in India or it was that I dint know about it.This was during a time when Strawberries were what Nancy drew ate for her dessert and broccoli an alien vegetable an ace chef tossed about in his saucepan on TV the other day.

Things have changed now .They are available at a nearby retail outlet -both strawberry and broccoli and many many more such earlier alien names slowly now a part of our everyday dictionary. Globalization changed everything. Even my earlier take on some collected unheard   ethnic foreign recipes-earlier I was just content collecting them, now I venture into my kitchen to make some…. 

I love Italian cuisine whether it is Pizza ,Pasta or Tiramisu. Pancotta is the latest addition. This Creamy vanilla  scented  dessert is a pleasure to eat after a heavy cheesy pizza or a bowl full of scrumptious pasta…The Wikipedia says``Panna cotta (from Italian cooked cream) is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, and letting it cool until set. It is generally from the Northern Italian region of Piedmont, although it is eaten all over Italy, where it is served with wild berries, caramel, chocolate sauce …''

I loved the dessert. Both the making part  and the eating part -The making part because this Italian dessert is damn easy to make…and the eating part as always because of my love for anything Italian.

Milk-1 cup
Heavy cream-1 cup
Granulated sugar-1/2 cup
Gelatin powder-3 tsp
Water-5 tbsp or enough to bloom gelatin
Vanilla extract-2 tsp

Take water and add gelatin.Let it bloom for 5 minutes.
Bring to boil milk, cream, and sugar in a saucepan. Switch off flame.
Double boil and melt gelatin.
Add essence and gelatin to milk mixture.
Pour into moulds and refrigerate for 3 hours atleast. Serve with caramel sauce or a sweet fruit of your choice.   

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Corn and Cheese Balls

 Some crisp, peppered, cheesy corn balls with a steaming cup of coffee or tea-is Heaven-Nothing less. One bite and the cheesy corn balls crackle and melt into your mouth-what a wonderful evening snack. Even better if you have your favourite book or magazine beside you. Now that’s what I call a perfect evening…

I love corn and I adore cheese. Needless to say I was totally infatuated by corn cheese balls. I loved my corn cheese balls so much that I was heartbroken when I saw  the plate empty….though most of it had gone into my stomach, still  why didn’t I make more?

You need to be careful though while you fry them because they may fall apart ….But that about all you need to worry about, because all its ingredients are always available in every home any time. Once they are done the yummy golden brown coloured cheese balls  will lighten your heart and brighten your smile…believe me they are really Yum.

A good starter for birthday parties a nice snack to pass around the table when friends come over to gossip and  a very easy recipe too. I’m sure you’ll love my corn and cheese balls….here u go-:


Sweet corn kernels-1 cup boiled
Processed cheese-1-2 cups grated
Cornstarch-1 tbsp
Refined flour-2 tbsp
Ginger-1 tbsp or 1 1/2 inch long piece finely chopped
Salt to taste
Crushed black pepper-1/4 tsp
Baking powder-A pinch
Lemon juice-2 tsp or juice of ½ lemon
Green chilli (finely chopped)- 2
Red chilli powder-1/4 tsp
Roasted cumin powder-1/4 tsp
Chopped coriander leaves-1 tbsp

Grind the boiled corn kernels (2 turns in the mixer).Make sure that some whole corn kernels remain and it is not ground into a fine paste.

Empty into bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Sprinkle water if so required to make balls out of the mixture. While making the balls make sure you apply little oil on your palms.

Take oil in a kadai. Make sure oil for frying the corn balls are not too hot. Fry the balls at medium flame till they are cooked well inside and crisp outside.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lemon and Coconut Salad

I don’t know whether to call it a side dish,salad or a sauce. I guess it’s the consistency. Mine better be captioned as a side dish as it is not very creamy. You can see it in the pictures I clicked below. There again that depends on whether you use tinned coconut milk or a homemade version. I used a homemade jar of coconut milk which made the dish watery whereas the thick tinned coconut milk turns the Lemon Coconut sauce creamy.

Lemony and sprinkled with fresh coriander leaves this coconut dish is also an apt accompaniment to biriyanis and pilafs. It’s a great appetizer too...

I have been wanting to make this for a long time now. I bookmarked the recipe a long time ago. I loved the recipe the first time I saw it.I kept looking at the recipe every now and then.Like I said I loved the look.  I loved to see small strips of chopped coriander floating on a pure white coconut milk occasionally spotted with the taste of chopped scallions  with the tanginess of lemon in every sip ….ummm…nice isn’t it? Then why not try it out?

But I never got to making it. Then today I made some vegetable mixed rice. So I decided to make the lemon Coconut sauce to go with the mixed rice. They made a great combo. This lovely sauce is surely going into my menu whenever I make mixed rice….here goes the recipe

Garlic-1 clove
Green chilli-1
Salt-1/2 Tsp
Sunflower oil-1 tbsp
Scallions-6 peeled and chopped
Cilantro-1/2 cup
Coconut milk-2 cup
Lemon juice-3 Tbsp

In a mortar crush garlic and chilli with salt using the pestle.
Add oil and scallions to it and smash a bit more.
Pulse cilantro and add.
Transfer mixture to a bowl. Add coconut milk and lemon juice. Mix well.
Serve immediately or refrigerate and store up to a week to serve later. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Semiya Payasam/ Vermicelli Pudding/Semiya kheer

Like I mentioned in my earlier post on carrot halwa, like the halwa this is another dish that is always a part of any happy occasion. Every happy occasion at least in my home.

Broken vermicelli cooked in milk and sugar and garnished with cashewnuts and rasins fried in ghee-an easy recipe, yet another tounge sweetner - that brings a smile especially after 24 dish homemade Kerala feast or sadya.

As a child this is another dish my mom made very often especially on my bday as I love dishes cooked with milk. Remember my post on paneer?I love to have my semiya payasam cold with the vermicelli floating in thick cow’s milk with the aroma of cardamom in every spoonful. Sometimes I would take it out of the fridge to gulp down some mouthfuls…  My mother who would come over  to open the vessel to serve the payasam  to guests chided me often when she would  find it  empty -.She would guess without a doubt that this was a result of my  Semiya payasam sneak and drink Act when she noticed my newly produced milk moustache.

Aniket my son got up and rubbed his eyes? What was Momma making? He insisted he wanted to taste some of the newly made kheer on the stove. He loved it too. Now isn’t that smart way to get kids to drink their daily dose of milk?

I once had semiya payasam made in coconut milk…I loved that too…hmm I’ve  to get hold of that recipe from my mother’s friend .So watch out for my space for this version of semiya payasam. Till then enjoy this recipe-:


Vermicelli-1/2 cup or a handful
Sugar-1/2 -3/4 cup (even more according to your taste)
Milk-1 litre
Chashewnuts-10 nos
Golden rasins-10 nos
Ghee-1-2 tbsp
Cardamom –A pinch-1/2 tsp if cardamom powder or 3-4 pods


Take a thick bottomed non-stick pan and heat the ghee. Over low heat, fry the raisins till they plump up. Remove and keep aside. In the same ghee, fry the broken cashewnuts till they turn uniformly golden brown.

Now add vermicelli and keep on stirring until light golden or golden brown. It takes about 3 - 4 minutes at medium heat. Remove the pan and set aside.

 If you are using toasted vermicelli, just add them to the skillet and stir for a few seconds so as to coat it with ghee. If you are using unroasted vermicelli, heat 1 tbsp. of ghee and roast the vermicelli, over medium heat, till it firsts turns white and then golden brown. Do not let it brown too much. Remove from the pan and keep aside.

Meanwhile bring the milk to boil in a wide, thick-bottomed pan at medium heat stirring occasionally so that the milk wouldn’t stick to the bottom. Bring down the flame and heat for a few more minutes.

 Add the roasted vermicelli and stir well. Allow the vermicelli-milk mixture to come to a boil, stirring frequently and then let it simmer until the vermicelli has cooked well. Cook at medium low heat for about 10 - 12 minutes, stirring in between. You must stir frequently so that the vermicelli does not settle to the bottom of the pan, clump and burn.
Add sugar. Mix well and continue to cook at low flame (do not boil) for another 15 - 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vermicelli turns soft and the mixture begins to thicken.

Add cardamom and nuts ,rasins .

Let it cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on the top. Serve warm or let it chill before serving .


1.Methods for cooking vermicelli-:

1. You can fry the vermicelli; boil it together with milk as milk boils. .Once milk boils reduce flame .Stir the mixture frequently till vermicelli is cooked.

2. Alternatively transfer the golden fried vermicelli to a deep pan and add a cup of water. Boil it for few minutes. When vermicelli becomes soft in a boiling water, add boiled milk and stir for some time. Let it cook for sometime till the vermicelli becomes soft.

2. Another option for adding sugar is once vermicelli is properly cooked in the milk, switch off flame and add sugar.

3. You can also use saffron (1tsp).

4. The payasam tends to get thicker as it rests down. So add more milk if you want while serving.

5. Dont boil the payasam after adding sugar to it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Paneer Lababdar

I am a Paneer freak. I love Paneer. I can gulp down  chunks and chunks of irresistible Paneer in one go. It is always a part of my menu whenever I visit any restaurant or eatery, something I make bi-weekly or very often. Sight of soft creamy chunks of Paneer dipped in butter masala gravy with naans or rotis or crispy Paneer Pakodas eaten with your favourite sauce to my hungry stomach is always heaven.

Like I said it’s always on my menu if somebody comes over for lunch or dinner. I love experimenting with Paneer gravies and this time when we had guests I decided to make something different. I made Paneer Lababdar.

The Paneer Lababdar is rich gravy flavoured with carom seeds and cumin seeds. It is a perfect combo with chapathis, rotis and naans. It is easy to make and gets ready in minutes…The aroma of carom and cumin makes the already alluring Paneer dish more tempting .I was very proud of this new preparation and decided to make it again.


   Paneer chunks – 250 grams

   Vegetable oil or Ghee -3 tbsp

Cumin seeds-1-1/2 tsp(I put ½ tsp)

Carom seeds-1-1/2 tsp(I put ½ tsp)

Cumin Powder- 1/2 -1/4 tsp (I put ¼ tsp)

Tomato puree – ½ cup

Chopped Tomato -1-2cup

Chopped Onion-1-2(I used 1onion)

Capsicum sliced -1/2 of 1 big Capsicum

Kashmiri Red Chilli powder-1/2 tsp

Garam masala powder – ½ tsp

Dry Fenugreek leaves – ½ tsp

Fresh Cream-4 tbsp

Butter-3-2 tbsp(  I used 2 tbsp)

Salt to taste

Turmeric powder -a pinch

Chopped Green chiili-2

Sesame seeds – ½ tsp (crushed)

Dhaniya powder(Coriander powder)-1/2-1/4 tsp(I used ¼ tsp)

Ginger garlic paste-1-1/2 tsp(I used 1/4th tsp)

For Garnishing

Fresh Coriander- 2 Tbsp

Ginger Shredded- 1- 1/2 Tsp

Sliced Tomato-1 For garnishing


Take a pan and heat oil.Add cumin seeds and carom seeds and saute for half a minute .Add

 ginger garlic paste& green chilli paste(or chopped) sauté for a minute. Add chopped onions 

& sauté till it turns golden brown.

Add the tomatoes and stir well for 2-3 minutes.

Add the tomato puree and cook over low flame for 2 minutes. 

Add sliced capsicum ans saute till cooked.

Now add cumin powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, garam masala, dhaniya powder , 

kasuri methi , turmeric powder and crushed sesame. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Cook

 for few minutes until oil starts separating from masala.

Add little water to gravy. Add salt

After this, add Paneer cubes & cook for about 8-10 minutes on low flame.

Add butter and cream.

Garnish with shredded ginger,chopped coriander and sliced tomato peel.


You can add kasuri methi  last and cook for 4-5 min with closed lid low flame then add

 butter  and fresh cream instead of adding kasuri methi in step no: 4.

You can add ground cashew paste.

You can omit turmeric powder, dhania powder , crushed sesame , ginger garlic and green 

chilli  as they are optional.

The other day we went to an eatery I requested for a paneer dish again, as usual. My friend who accompanied me remarked '' Paneer it had to be". I smiled back at her. Yes she is right. Paneer tops my favourite food list. This time. Every time.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Triple Layered Pudding-A Cook ’n’ Cackle Special

Like I mentioned in my previous post I had some more whip topping left after I made my Strawberry Jelly Parfait. I did not know what to do with it. Then I saw a packet of custard powder safely stashed away in my pantry. Why not combine both these ingredients and make my own dessert ?.What if I added some crunchy butter cookies to it….all of them layered into a glass….seemed like a good venture to pursue this morning….

I had just finished making my strawberry jelly parfait and was already famished. But the thought of giving life to my own recipe sparked my enthusiasm and I got back to work.

I made the custard first with the packet of readymade store brought custard mix and let it cool. The biscuit crumbs were ready in minutes. The butterscotch sauce tasted good, spreading a rich aroma all around the place and out came my big bowl of jelly whip cream mix.

I decided to assemble the pudding in a tall glass that could accommodate all the three layers. At the end of it my pudding looked attractive and colourful. When I dipped my long tailed spoon into its triple layered sweetness and scooped out a little bit of the biscuit crumbs with the custard and whip topping I was elated. My pudding passed the tounge tickling test.It was yum yum…Yipee


This is how I made my Triple layered pudding…
1st layer
Buttercookies-16(I used Milk Bikis)
Butter-2 tbsp.
Butterscotch Sauce
Sugar-1/2 cup
Butter-1 tbsp
Condensed milk/milk-1/2 cup
Butterscotch essence-2 drops
2nd layer –Custard
Readymade custard powder-1 packet
Sugar –as per taste
3rd layer-Whip topping and Jelly mix
Readymade Jelly powder-1/2 packet
Sugar-1/4 cup or more+3/4 the cup for whip cream
Whip cream-1-1/2 cup

1st layer
Crumble the biscuits.
Add butter in a non-stick pan. Add the crumbled biscuits and stir till it is crunchy.
Butter scotch sauce
In a non-stick pan add ½ cup sugar. Stir till it becomes light golden brown.
Add butter. After it melts add condensed milk or milk.
Stir in low heat till it becomes like sauce.
Add butterscotch essence.
2nd Layer
Make custard as per instructions on the pack. Add required sugar. Stir well. Allow to cool.
3rd layer
Follow instructions on the packet to make jelly.
Refrigerate till chill but liquid.
Whip the whip topping. Add sugar and whip again till soft peaks are formed.
Add jelly to the above. Transfer to the fridge.
Mix the biscuit crumbs and butterscotch sauce. Layer it at the bottom of a tall glass .Alternatively you can layer biscuits and pour butterscotch sauce over it. Refrigerate 15 to 20 minutes or till set.
Then add custard on top. Refrigerate till set (do not freeze).
After custard is set top with jelly whip topping mix and serve cold with chopped strawberries.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Strawberry Jelly Parfait

I was very happy with the photos I clicked this time…….My Kodak skills finally seem to be improving.Now that’s a warning before you read this post and the one after that. You’ll see a lot of photos below.…My husband Satish who loves photography always complained about my abovementioned skills….now he can give me a pat on my back….for the improvement  , though there is much much more scope for it in the days to come.

Blogging slowly led me to explore two new agendas-cooking and photography……it keeps me thinking….How to click the snaps? What to write and the most important what to cook? It lets you create, capture and confabulate , showcase your creation to the entire world in the WWW(World wide web)…the recipe may be borrowed but you made it,you clicked the photos, the experience is  yours.

Coming back to the post, I had some whipped topping kept away in my fridge and I was pondering what I should do with so much of cream. Of course Google and The Internet are my best buddies when I don’t know what to do with something….Type and hit the search button and there you are with a set of unlimited options. So I did the same thing about my whipped topping dilemma…and there it was the…Jelly strawberry parfait… my post for today

I found the recipe easy and innovative…and I was happy it put my whipped cream to good use. Besides it used jelly as an ingredient which my mother loves, whatever the flavour.

I did the whole recipe in instalments….taking time off to play around and chit chat with Aniket(my son).But the recipe is actually takes very little time and energy. Something you can make at short notice with its wobbly jelly layer topped with soothing whipped cream-A good looking dessert.
As soon as I was done with preparation I transferred jelly and once it was set, the cream into some flat bottomed ice cream glasses and they went into the refrigerator. But I realised  had more cream left…So I made my own recipe and that’s the next post…..

In the meantime enjoy the Jelly Strawberry Parfait-:

Bush strawberry jelly powder- 1 packet
Sugar-1/2 cup or more+ 1 cup or more for whip topping
Strawberry -1/4 cup sliced and cubed
Whip topping -2 cups

Prepare jelly as per instructions on the packet (take 3 1/2 cups of water. Boil half of the water. Add jelly powder. Stir. Mix the other half part of water. Add sugar. Stir well).Set aside to cool.
After jelly is cooled, chill jelly until slightly thickened but still watery.
Set aside ¼ of the jelly mix for folding  whip topping into it.
Sprinkle powdered sugar (2 tsp.) on sliced strawberry pieces. Add it to the rest of the jelly. Spoon into serving glass till half of the glass is filled and chill until it is set.
In the meantime whip cream. Powder 1 cup of sugar and add to cream. Whip until soft peaks are formed. Fold into ¼ cup jelly and set aside.
Spoon whip topping mixture into glasses of set jelly.
Garnish with strawberries and serve cold.