Ukkala Tea- Cold and Cough remedy- Mumbai Special Ukkala Cutting chai

Mumbai special Ukkala cutting chai
Hello Sweeties!! Are you all set for the big Thanksgiving feast and shopping frenzy after the holiday!!! We did not celebrate this holiday nor had heard much about it back home, till the time we came here few odd years ago.

TG and BF like everything else  has changed. I remember my first TG in NJ, when I saw people camping out of stores like Best buy and Walmart through the night as these stores opened in the wee hours of dawn like 4Am and 5Am Friday morning.

Lists and lists were exchanged and a fool proof plan was activated about who would shop at which store, what followed over the weekend was  settling tabs and  claiming electronics for guys, home ware/clothes toys etc for girls.

Stores never opened the evening or even midnight and TG was  a federal Holiday for all. I am awed and at times sad at the way the shopping timings have changed, last year stores opened around mid night. but this year its TG evening.

I saw a JCPenny commercial where it said dishes can wait just  eat and run and shop. TG was meant to be family/friends time, eat at peace, talk and chat into the night. It's becoming a Fast TG like Fast food, and maybe drive-in TG is not far away.

To brave the cold and gusty winds and deal with all the outdoor shopping running from one store to another, make this Ukkala/Tea and carry with you in thermos and warm up your bones.

I learnt to make this from a tea vendor outside my office in Mumbai, who would make kick ass Ukkala Tea that could be added to normal tea. We often had it when it rained and we were little under the weather.

You will need;   
1/2 Cup water
1/2 Cup milk- preferably skim or low fat
1 Green Cardamom-Crushed with skin and pod  
2 Cloves  
1/2 inch stick Cinnamon  
1/2 inch Ginger grated  
1/2 tsp Lemon grass-Fresh or dried
1 Tspn basil Leaves or dried Tulsi Seeds 
1 tea bag 
Honey to taste

In a small pot, take the water and add the above except the honey, heat over medium heat and let the ukakala boil, till the spices give out the extract and the liquid changes to a slightly green color.

Pour the mixture through a sieve in a cup, add in the tea bag 
add the honey and enjoy the Ukkala Tea.



Plantain Coins Curry

kache kele ki curry
 Hello Sweeties!!!!! I am hogging on the Diwali treats at my end and what follows every year is a  down side to all that hogging. The jeans fit a bit snug and the tummy kind of pops out every now and then.

My mom always used plantains instead of potatoes every now and then, no we were not Jain and we did eat garlic, onion everything, but she mixed matched sometimes for health reasons sometimes just to finish stuff off the fridge.

I had brought the plantains on whim last time I went for grocery, little knowing what to do with them. Then days passed with no clue until my kiddo demanded I made the potato patties. Their demand for Ragda Pattice got changed into Pattice Curry as Donut wanted ragda pattice and Munchkin wanted egg curry.

 You will need;
For Patties's
2 medium size plantains

1 small potato
1-2 tspn corn flour
1 tspn cayenne pepper powder
1 tspn Garam masala powder
1 tspn cumin powder
1 tspn coriander powder
2-3 crushed cloves of garlic
1/2 inch ginger grated
salt to taste
oil or spray to shallow fry the patties's

Boil the plantains and the potato for 2-3 whistles and then 5 mins on low flame in a pressure cooker. In a bowl, mash the plantain and potato and mix in cornflour, add all the spices and mix well. 

Heat a skillet and grease the base with oil and drop little coins  of this mixture and spray them with an oil spray and fry till they get cooked. Once done, remove and keep aside.
kahcya kele che coins, plantain pattice
For the curry;
 1 medium sized onion
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 tbspn ginger garlic paste
1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric
1 tspn cayenne pepper powder
1 tspn Garam masala powder
1 tspn cumin powder
1 tspn coriander powder
1 cup water

1/3rd cup heavy cream- Optional
Salt to taste

2 tbspn oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tspn shahjeera/Caraway seeds-Optional

In a deep wok, heat the oil on medium. Once the oil is hot add the seeds and let them sizzle for 2-3 seconds, then add the ginger-garlic paste and onions, then add in the tomato puree and cook till the oil leaves the sides of the onion and tomato mixture, then add in the haldi, and the spices and add water and salt and cover and let it boil. Grind it into  paste if you like fine texture curry. Lastly add in the cream and stir and cook for 1-2 mins. Make the curry little thick,

 While serving,

 Take the patties in a bowl and pour the curry on the patties. Serve hot with phulka or flat bread of your choice or rice. Remember to assemble the dish when you are about to eat it. 

Keeping the patties in the curry for long will result in the patties absorbing the curry and losing the shape and everything will turn into  a mess. This will certainly not interfere with the taste, but it will not look very pleasing.



Mango Kalakand- Mango Cheese Fudge bites

Hello Sweeties!!!! Last weekend we were all under a kind of house arrest due to gusty winds and cold wave. The temperatures in single digits in the evenings made me stay at home. Winters are finally here.

Downside of being at home home with kids, constant song that plays is, "I am Bored". So we made Mango kalakand.  Like always I had some mango pulp to be used up.
You will need;
1 can condensed milk-14 oz** I used the milkmaid brand
1 can Ricotta cheese-15 oz
1/2 cup Mango pulp
a Microwave safe deep glass bowl
1Tsp elaichi or cardamom-Optional
1tbspn Pista Powder-Optional

In a  safe Microvabe-able deep glass bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, mango pulp and the condensed milk and stir till it is well incorporated. then;
Microwave it on high for 5 minutes. Remove and stir.
Then again microwave it for 3 minutes, remove and stir. 
Microwave it for 2 minutes covered.. remove and stir
Keep doing this, i .e microwaving the mixture in batches of 2 minutes; till you get a reasonable crumbling mixture.. I had to do this for about 18 minutes in total..

When you have a crumbly mixture, add the elaichi, mix well and keep aside..When it reaches room temperature, keep it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Sprinkle the pista powder and then cut into squares.

Enjoy the Mango Kalakand with some family or friends this holiday season.


Fondant Monkey Figures as Cake Toppers.

Hello Sweetpeas!!!! Aren't these little monkey adorable or what. Ever Since I saw them I was thinking of some way of making them. 

I even bribed my kids just so they decide of having monkey theme for their special days, but to no avail. Finally, my cousin S gave me an opportunity to make them, Thanks a ton they were surely fun to make. 

The step by step tutorial is found here/Source. 
I followed her steps and pictures to a T. If I can do it, you can too.

Share and learn, thank the internet, is my new motto in life.

Thanks CakeFixation for the awesome tutorial.



MTR Podi Chutney Uttapam/ Idli Pancake-- Kids School lunch.

Podi Chutney Uttapas
Hello Sweeties!!!! We make Idli Sambar so many times, that at times we have been asked if we belong to South India. The thing is Idli Sambar is one item, everyone loves, Its like Pizzas to Indians. Easily found and  most popular. 

I make dosas often with the leftover batter. But they are not ideal to be given as school lunch, so I made these for my kids school lunch and was happy to see empty boxes licked clean.
To make Idli batter;
2 cups rice or idli rava
1 cup Urad dal
2 tbspn Oil
Salt to taste

Soak the rice and urad dal in water for 6-8 hours. If using idli rava skip soaking the rava; soak only the dal and then grind it fine into a smooth paste, use the water from the soaking if needed. remove this in a bigger vessel, then grind the idli rava or soaked rice and remove it in the same vessel as the grinded dal. 
Mix the grinded dal and rava with your hand. This is because the heat of your palms will help in fermenting the batter faster. Then cover this vessel and keep it in a warm place to ferment and rise up. 
Take  a bigger vessel and fill the batter only half way as the batter will rise and double in size. After the rising, add the oil and the salt to the batter and mix with a spoon. 
The base batter for idli is ready.  The Podi Chutney Uttapams are basically pancakes from idli battter. 

You will need;
leftover or idli batter
onion chopped
cilantro chopped
 1 tspn MTR Podi Chutney also called Gun powder-- Store brought.

In a pan, greased with some oil, pour the batter with a ladle. Usually Idli batter is thick, we like thick pancakes, you can thin it with some water if you like thin pancakes. Pour the batter, then sprinkle with chopped onion, cilantro and the chutney powder, cover and let cook for 2-3 minutes, flip and cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes. The Uttapas are ready to be served.
 The toppings can be anything you like, onions, veggies, peas, corn, tomatoes are the regular ones, but you can feel free to mix and match according to your kids liking. 
podi chutney uttapas
This is what my kids ate for lunch that day. Fruits/Yogurt is sneaked in as snacks as they don't eat so much at one time. 



Mango Sheera/ Mango Sooji Halwa/Ambyacha sheera

Hello Sweeties!!! Back to back two posts, I must be shedding my lazy skin. But, it was Donut's Birthday yesterday. Big Digit demands big and new dessert.

 I made the Minion cake and put in the full day at work, I was sort of tired of making anything elaborate. Sheera or Sooji halwa is a staple in Ashland, when we have unannounced guests. This is no fail dish and every one loves it. Make it for prasad as god's offering or snack or dessert, it's  a hit every time.

The world of blogging and internet has made me try different combinations like using pineapple , banana and now mango. Hoping to try many new varieties maybe strawberry, what say, next time for sure.

You will need;
1 and 1/2 cup of sooji/ semolina/ cream of wheat, **I prefer Coarse sooji than fine sooji.
1 cup sugar
3 cups mixture of milk and water or use milk wholly.
6-8 tbspns Ghee-Clarified butter
1 Cup Mango Pulp-- I used canned
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Elaichi or Cardamom Powder
1 tbspn Cashew nuts powdered -Optional
1tbspn Raisins Optional
few Saffron strands-Optional

-In a pan/wok, heat the ghee over medium or low flame and then add the sooji, roast the sooji stirring continuously, till the sooji changes colour and the aroma fills the house. 
Simultaneously boil the milk+water mixture and once boiled, add the milk+water mixture to the roasted sooji and continue stirring...the sooji will be slightly wet, cover for 2-3 minutes, taking care that the sooji is not getting burnt, if needed reduce the time to about 1.5 to 2 minutes. 
After this add in the pulp and  let it get cooked with the roasted sooji, cover with the lid and steam it for anr 2-3 mins. 

Finally add in the sugar  and stir well, the mixture will be wet now, cover and lower the flame to low and cook for 5-7 minutes. 
Then add the saffron, elaichi and the raisins. Serve hot or cold. It's yummy either way.



Minion Rush!!!! Ba-Ba-Bananna!!!!!

Minion Rush!!!! Ba-Ba-Bananna!!!!! Cake
Hello Sweeties!!! Today is a big day in Ashland. Donut celebrates his first double digit birthday! I am happy and sad at the same time. Ever felt this mixed emotion? I am happy that he is growing into a fine boy, sad as he is not longer my baby.

He is not into parties with cake cutting and the whole nine yards associated with birthday parties for kids. He wants a time out of home with 3-4 boys/classmates, wow.. what did I do to expedite his growth?

 I for one was all for big birthdays  cake cutting and gifts. However its not my birthday,  so he will call the shots now on in Ashland.

Despicable Me is huge hit in our home currently.  Kids playing minion rush on iPad, talking, singing like Minions, you name it and they do it. Left with little to zero choice, here goes my attempt in making Donut's favorite character Dave.

I baked 2-- 6 inch cakes and  trimmed the tops on one cake. The Minion Suspenders and eyes and everything fondant is hand made and cut from rolled fondant. Excuse the shabby and messy job.

There is no recipe as such to share today, the cakes and icing is discussed at much length. I used store brought fondant and made my whipped cream icing. I know wrong choice as the icing is loose and the fondant is bleeding color. But I promise to re-do this cake and do  a better job.



Whole Wheat Ladoos/ Kanik Ladoo

kanik ladu, atta aldoos

Hello Sweeties!!!!! Hope you all had  a fabulous Diwali and new year festivities at your end. I made the regular Diwali faral, but as many years as I am making Diwali goodies I try and make one new item, this year was no doubt the Whole Wheat ladoos. They are super easy to make and very healthy if you have growing boys or babies.

You will need;
makes 16-18 medium size ladoos.
 2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup plus 2 Tbspn ghee/clarified butter
1.5 cups Sugar-Confectioner or ground sugar
1 tbspn Milk Masala/ Cashews/walnuts/pistas,saffron, nutmeg powder

**1 Tbspn dry Dates powder-- Sourced from India--Optional
approx 3/4th cup raisins
2 Tspn Cardamom Crushed or Elaichi powder

In a wok, heat the ghee, add the wheat flour and roast  on medium heat. Stir continuously taking care than the flour does not stick to the pan and burn. Stir for about 25-30 mins, till the mixture looks frothy and becomes really loose.

When the flour changes color add the raisins and the milk masala powder. Switch off the flame and let cool. When the mix is warm enough to dip your finger and bear the heat, add the elaichi powder. Roll the ladoos when they are cold enough to hold shape. These keep well for 10-15 days, although they do not last that long.

 Diwali spread at my end looked like this, whats cooking at your end????

Happy Diwali and let the festivities begin!!!!