Mango Mousse

P1a MM

The light, airy and creamy mousse is a dessert I like to serve at dinner parties as it can be made ahead of time, be served in individual helpings and you can also make many variants to cater to the taste of guests. Mousse with the freshness of mangoes is one I just couldn’t resist.

In Uganda, mangoes are available throughout the year so I didn’t have to depend on preserved mango puree or canned mangoes. Since the mangoes I’d bought were not very sweet, I added a quarter cup of condensed milk while the mango pulp is made. Condensed milk certainly enhanced the taste but I felt it made the mousse slightly denser.

Mousse in general is a little tricky to make. Beaten egg whites and whipped cream should not be stirred in but has to be folded in with care so that the cream and egg whites don’t get deflated.


Cream should be removed from the refrigerator just before whipping to avoid it turning into butter. Overbeating will also result in butter. Using an ice bath is also not a bad idea if the room temperature is too high.Adding a quarter of a teaspoon of cream of tartar to the egg whites before beating helps in stabilising the beaten egg whites.

To avoid last minute stress, it can be made sure that the mousse sets perfectly by adding a teaspoon of gelatine to the mixture prior to transferring it into individual bowls and chilling. Shot glasses are a good choice to serve mousse of various flavours.

final MM

Mango mousse can be garnished with fresh mango pieces or some piped rosettes of freshly whipped cream.


Mango Mousse
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 4 cups Mango pulp
  • ¼ cup Condensed Milk
  • (Only if mangoes are not sweet enough)
  • 2 Egg whites
  • ⅛ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 2 tsp Powdered sugar
  • 1 cup Whipping cream
  • ¼ cup Castor sugar - powdered
  • (Check the sweetness of the cream before you add the sugar)
  • 1 tsp Gelatine
  • 1 tbsp Water
  • 1 tsp Mango essence (optional)
  • To garnish
  • Fresh mango bits
  1. Peel the mangoes, remove the seed and cut into pieces. Make mango puree using a food processor. If the mango is fibrous strain the pulp. Add the condensed milk if required and mix well.
  2. Add cream of tartar and salt to the egg whites and beat till soft peaks are formed .Add powdered sugar and beat till stiff peaks are formed.
  3. In a separate bowl add whipping cream, sugar and mango essence (optional). Beat until stiff peaks are formed. This might take 4-5 minutes.
  4. Soak gelatine in 1 tablespoon water in a small heat resistant bowl. Hold it over hot water till it melts.
  5. Transfer the mango pulp into a large bowl. Add the melted gelatin and stir well. Now add the whipped cream in two or three batches and fold in gently.
  6. Now add ⅓ of the beaten egg whites into the mango cream mixture and mix through. Add the remaining egg whites and gently fold in. Avoid over mixing.
  7. Pour into individual serving bowls and garnish as you prefer.

Quesadillas for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo… is not an excuse for margaritas! In fact, it commemorates the against-all-odds victory of the Mexican army against the much larger French forces of conquest at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Though the victory in the battle did not lead to victory in the war, it served as a morale booster and matter for pride for the Mexican army and people. Interestingly, that war was the last time a European power invaded any country in the Americas!


Today Cinco de Mayo – Spanish for ‘fifth of May’ – has come to signify a tribute to Mexican heritage and pride and is celebrated widely in the United States and in Mexico. Usually parties with awesome Mexican food drink and music…


When you want to go Mexican in terms of food, there is plenty of choice. And all of them are sooo good! This year my choice is quesadilla, but of course, with a twist.

Quesadilla is one of the quintessential Mexican dishes. One of my favourites to make as well, because of the variety one can work with it. And I’m certain that the quesadilla as it originally was hardly resembles its modern version.


Essentially, a quesadilla is a tortilla stuffed with cheese and various fillings and folded and heated through to form a half moon shape. The cheese is the one constant ingredient, as attested by the ‘queso’, cheese in Spanish, in the name itself. And it is always some type of melty cheese. A combination of cheddar, Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack cheeses works well. Or any one of them alone will also work. Pre-packed Mexican blends available in the store makes it super easy.


I decided to stick with one traditional variety this time… South Western with traditional filling of corn, red pepper, and onions flavoured with cumin.


And three variations! A Vegetable Medley for my veggie lover friends, a Tikka Chicken for those who like it hot, and a Sesame Chicken for the spicy-not-hot bunch.


Once all the ingredients were ready and chopped, and it’s a lot of chopping, believe me, assembling each one was the fun part. And they are so yummy hot off the griddle, with a cooling side of guacamole, salsa or cilantro-lime-sour cream.


Guacamole is something that goes well with a lot of things, especially of Mexican origin. Only problem is, it gets over so fast!


And of course, accompanied by margaritas before and after…


Just wondering… whether the French celebrate Cinco de Mayo… 🙂


Recipe for Quesadillas

  • 10 whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs shredded cheese, combination of pepper jack and cheddar or a Mexican blend

Note: Recipe for fillings follow.

1 Heat a flat griddle, on medium heat.
2 Brush with olive oil.
3 Place a tortilla on the griddle.
4 Sprinkle cheese liberally all over the tortilla.
5 Place the filling of your choice on one half of the tortilla.
6 Carefully fold the other half over, and press with a spatula to seal.
7 Turn over and cook the second side.
8 When both sides are somewhat crisp, transfer to a plate and cut into four wedges.
9 Serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.


South Western Filling

  • 1 cup whole corn kernels
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup tomatoes, fleshy part chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro, minced
  • A pinch of cumin powder
  • Salt to taste

Mix ingredients together and place over cheese on the tortilla on the griddle.


 Vegetable Medley Filling

  • ½ cup potato, cut into small cubes and boiled
  • ½ cup carrots, shredded
  • ½ cup broccoli, only the crown chopped
  • ½ cup corn kernels
  • ½ cup red pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup red onions, chopped
  • ½ cup black olives, sliced
  • ¼ cup cilantro minced
  • 2 tbsp pickled jalapenos, minced
  • salt to taste

Mix ingredients together and place over cheese on the tortilla on the griddle.


Tikka Chicken Filling

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp chicken tikka masala powder (available in Indian grocery stores)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • A pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika or a mix of paprika and cayenne
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • Salt to taste
  1. Cut the chicken into small bite size pieces.
  2. Mix with all the spice powders, sour cream and salt. Keep aside for 30 minutes. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven on the broiler setting.
  4. Line a flat pan with aluminium foil and lay the chicken pieces in a single layer.
  5. Broil on the top most rack of the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. When done, remove from the aluminium foil and cover and keep till ready to use.


Sesame Chicken Filling

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • Salt to taste
  1. Cut the chicken into thin strips.
  2. Slice the green leafy parts of the scallions.
  3. Marinate the chicken pieces with the soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped onion and garlic, chilli flakes and salt. Keep aside for 30 minutes. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  4. Heat a pan and when the pan is hot, add the sesame seeds.
  5. When they have spluttered completely, add the marinated chicken. Stir together. Cover and cook.
  6. When the chicken is done and the liquids are evaporated, add the sliced scallions and take off the heat.
  7. Keep in a covered container till ready to use.


Vanilla sponge cake with chocolate frosting

Although I make frosted cakes occasionally, birthday cakes are not really my forte. So when I had to get a birthday cake for my friend’s son, I decided to improve my skills and make one myself. It had been a long while since I last made a birthday cake, the last one I remember baking was a three layer cake for my daughter’s birthday a few years ago.


The birthday boy’s craze was strawberry this season. So I decided to make a two layer vanilla sponge with white butter icing and lots and lots of fresh strawberries. Since the tastes and preferences of 8 year olds are prone to changes, I wasn’t surprised that he changed his mind and opted for a chocolate cake instead. But I had already baked the vanilla sponge when I came to know about his new preference. So the initial plan of white butter icing was changed to chocolate frosting. I made this cake when I was in Kerala and the summer was at its peak with almost unbearable levels of heat and humidity. I could only do the frosting at night and still had to make many trips to the refrigerator to keep chilling the icing and cake before I could finish frosting the cake.


For the vanilla cake I used a mixture of 2 ¼ cups of all purpose flour and 6 tablespoons of corn flour. This makes the cake very soft. Since the frosting adds to the sweetness of the cake, the quantity of sugar mentioned in the recipe can be reduced by ¼-½ cup. The quantity of ingredients mentioned is enough to make two 9 inch cakes. I used the creaming method for this cake. Butter and sugar are beaten together till it becomes creamy and light. Then the eggs are added one at a time and beaten well. While making cakes the flavouring agent (vanilla essence, in this case) should always follow the eggs to get rid of any odour of the eggs.  Then the sifted flour and baking powder mixture is added in small batches alternating with milk and beaten well.



For the chocolate frosting I used milk chocolate as the cake was for an eight year old but dark or semi-sweet chocolate could also be used instead.  I had to make sure the frosting gets a smooth spreadable consistency. The consistency of the frosting is very important which can be adjusted by the addition of more milk. If the frosting is too thick, spreading it will be difficult and will also tear the cake and if it’s too thin it will run. If the cake is too soft to handle leave it in the freezer for 30 minutes before frosting. To avoid any mess around the cake while assembling on the serving plate insert narrow strips of aluminium foil under the cake on all four sides. Once the frosting is done these foil strips can be carefully pulled off.


I certainly needed a shot of caffeine after the hard work.



Vanilla sponge cake with chocolate frosting
Recipe type: Cake
  • For the cake
  • All purpose flour 2 ¼ cup
  • Corn flour 6 tbsp
  • Baking powder 1 tbsp
  • Strawberry fruit flakes ¼ cup (optional)
  • Sugar (powdered) 1 ¾ - 2 cups
  • Unsalted butter 1 cup @ room temperature
  • Eggs 4
  • Pure Vanilla Essence2 tsp
  • Milk 1 cup
  • For the frosting
  • Chocolate 1 cup (broken into pieces)
  • Butter 1 cup (at room temperature)
  • Icing sugar 4 cups
  • Milk 2-4 tbsp (use as needed)
  1. Cake
  2. Preheat the oven at 180 degree Celsius / 350 Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the pans by buttering and flouring two 9 inch cake pans. Lining the bottom of the pans with butter paper/ parchment really helps in releasing the cakes from the pans once done.
  4. Sift the flours and baking powder together.
  5. Cream butter and sugar using an electric beater or wire whisk.
  6. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Once the eggs are incorporated add vanilla essence.
  7. Now add the flour and milk in small batches and mix well.
  8. Divide the batter equally between the two prepared tins and bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes or till a cocktail stick inserted comes out clean.
  9. Leave the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes to cool. Remove from the pan and cool it on a wire rack.
  10. Frosting
  11. Melt the chocolate pieces by keeping it in a bowl over simmering water and stir well.
  12. Once it’s almost melt remove from the heat and let it cool completely.
  13. Beat butter and icing sugar together till creamy.
  14. Add the melted chocolate and mix well.
  15. Add milk little by little till it reaches the required spreadable consistency.
  16. Assembling
  17. Place one cake on the serving plate and spread some frosting uniformly on the cake.
  18. Place the second cake on top of the frosting (with the bottom side facing up) .
  19. Now cover the cake with the remaining frosting.
  20. Pipe a border around the top edge of the cake and decorate with slices of strawberries and silver balls or whatever you fancy.

Cilantro Pesto Pasta

There is no easier go-to food than pasta… In the time that the water takes to boil and cook the pasta, you can get the sauce done. And if you are in a hurry, nothing is faster than a pesto sauce. However, just because it can be done quickly, it doesn’t mean that pesto is a simple thing; the flavours in a pesto sauce can be complex and intriguing. What is more, you can experiment with different combinations of ingredients.


Basically, a pesto sauce needs a nut base to give it body. Add to it any green herb to form the foundation of the flavour. And olive oil to bring it all together. The rest is entirely up to you… you can try various accent flavours to focus on, till you find your favourite combinations.
The pesto sauce I have used here is very basic, with cashew nuts and cilantro. Flavoured with garlic, ginger and lemon juice. You can keep this pesto sauce in the refrigerator for a week, in an airtight jar.

This pesto is rather versatile. You can use it with just vegetables or a combination of chicken and vegetables. If using chicken, the easiest way will be to either grill it or pan cook it and then slice it into thin strips. Here I have used just vegetables, a combination of peppers in three colours, mushrooms and egg plant.

Also, you can use any kind small sized pasta for this dish. However, I always prefer spaghetti to go with a pesto sauce. Nice to swirl around your fork!



Cilantro Pesto Pasta
Recipe type: Dinner
  • ½ cup cashew nuts
  • 1 cup cilantro, measured after cleaning and chopping
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • A small piece ginger root
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 jalapeño or any variety green chilli
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables, cut into thin long pieces (any combination of peppers, squash, broccoli florets, mushrooms, egg plant, etc)
  • ½ lb spaghetti
  1. Soak the cashew nuts in sufficient water to submerge for an hour. (If you do not have the time to soak the cashew, you can as well use pine nuts which do not need to be soaked.)
  2. Pick only the leaves and tender stalks of cilantro and chop.
  3. Remove the skins of garlic and ginger.
  4. Carefully remove the stem and seeds of the jalapeno.
  5. In the blender, add the nuts, cilantro, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, lemon juice, and sugar, and blend well. Add salt and black pepper to taste. When blended into a paste, drizzle the olive oil in a thin stream while the blender is still running. When all the oil is used up, switch off the blender and set the pesto sauce aside in a container.
  6. Cut the vegetables into long thin strips.
  7. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, on high heat. When the oil is hot, add the vegetables and stir fry for three minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
  8. Add some salt to a pot of water and bring to boil. Add the spaghetti and cook uncovered. After 8 minutes, check for doneness. When you can bite into a strand of spaghetti easily, but there is a bit of resistance at the center, it is done enough. Drain the water off the pasta and transfer the pasta to a largish dish. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over the pasta and shake together to coat.
  9. Add the stir fired vegetables to the pasta. Drizzle the pesto sauce over the pasta and vegetables and carefully mix together.
  10. Serve hot with extra pesto sauce on the side.

Chicken Sausage Rice… inspired by Paella!

Paella is one of my favourite rice dishes... not only is it delicious, it is sort of a complete meal. At least the version that I make where I incorporate some vegetables into a mainly chicken and seafood dish. The other day when the craving for Paella hit me, I was in the midst of a project deadline and in no way able to spend the time to prepare it. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? I did come up with a dish which has chicken and sausages and resembled Paella enough to make my tummy happy. Win-win all the way! ch-sau-rice3 It is actually very simple... cook sausages and chicken separately. Chop some vegetables. Throw everything together along with some rice, and cook till done. Though I used hot Italian sausages, I think chorizo will be even better. chi-sau Any vegetables that will not go mushy will work. As this was not a planned-in-advance dish, I used the red peppers I had in the refrigerator. And of course, onions and garlic. Celery adds some additional flavour to the dish, but can easily be omitted. veg-mix The rice I used was regular long grained rice, but again, do you think Arborio rice would be better? Maybe next time I’ll try this dish with Arborio rice. And chorizos. ch-sau-rice1 Yeah, many ways to manage this dish with whatever ingredients you have handy! ch-sau-rice2


Chicken Sausage Rice... inspired by Paella!
Recipe type: Dinner
  • 2 lb skinless, boneless chicken, thighs and breasts mixed
  • 1 lb sausages
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 2 cups rice, Arborio or long grain
  • 1 large red pepper, or a mix of vegetables
  • 1 can (12 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can chicken stock (can be made from cubes or substituted with water)
  • Cooking oil, as required
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Cut the chicken into pieces and mix with chilli powder, paprika, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt. Leave aside in the refrigerator to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Cut the sausages into bite size pieces.
  3. Wash and drain the rice and leave aside.
  4. Chop the onions and celery roughly. Slice the garlic thinly.
  5. Cut the vegetables into bite size pieces.
  6. In a large pan, heat 2 tbsp oil and fry the sausages. Drain on paper towels.
  7. In the same pan, add another 2 tbsp of oil and brown the marinated chicken pieces on all sides. Keep aside.
  8. Add 2 more tbsp oil to the pan and add the onions, celery and garlic. Fry till they turn transparent.
  9. Add the drained rice and fry for two minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir together. Add the sausages and chicken pieces to the mixture. Season with salt and black pepper.
  10. Bring to a boil and cover and cook for 15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes to see there is enough liquid in the dish. If not, add enough water to cook.
  11. When the rice is done, switch off the heat and let sit for another 10 minutes.
  12. Serve with a salad dressed with any creamy dressing. Quick and easy and delicious!

Eggless Butter Cookies

P1 I can never say no to a cookie. They are always good to savour with a cup of tea or coffee or to serve with ice cream or other light desserts. I love to have savoury cookies with soup. Americans call them cookies and British traditionally used the term biscuits, although now the word cookie has become common all over the world. Cookies are not only ideal for everyday eating or a special treat (especially in lunch boxes) they can also be gift wrapped and given away as special gift. Though there is almost no end to the range of cookies that can be made at home, this time I made some eggless cashew butter cookies to gift a pure vegetarian family. P2 EC Without any fancy ingredients and as the process involved is an “all in one" method, these cookies are very easy to make. These butter cookies will fill your kitchen with a wonderful aroma when they are ready to come out of the oven especially with the cinnamon powder in the dough. P3EC Cookie dough should be handled as little as possible otherwise the cookies will be very hard (no one likes butter rocks!) Adding bits of cashew nuts give a nice bite to the otherwise soft cookies. Baking them for 18 – 22 minutes, depending on your oven, will yield cookies that are still slightly soft to touch when being removed from the oven. If you want crispy, crumbly cookies bake it for an extra 3 minutes. Once it’s removed from the oven leave it on the cookie sheet for another 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. The mentioned quantity of ingredients will yield about 10 – 12 cookies. P4 EC


Eggless Butter Cookies
  • Butter ½ cup at room temperature
  • Powdered sugar ½ cup
  • Corn flour 1 tablespoon
  • All purpose flour 1 cup
  • Baking powder ¼ teaspoon
  • Salt ⅛ teaspoon
  • Cinnamon powder 1 teaspoon
  • Nutmeg powder ½ teaspoon
  • Cashew nuts (broken into tiny pieces) ½ cup
  1. Preheat the oven at 150°C or 300°F.
  2. Combine powdered sugar, corn starch and butter and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula till it becomes light and creamy.
  3. Sift the flour with baking powder and salt.
  4. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg powder into the flour mixture and mix well.
  5. Add the flour mixture into the beaten mixture of sugar and butter and knead well till it forms a dough. If the dough is too crumbly add one or two tablespoons more of butter and knead. Care should be taken not to over knead. Excess kneading will make the cookies hard.
  6. Cover with cling film and leave it to rest for 20 minutes.
  7. Knead it lightly once more and make into smooth lime-sized balls and place them on a buttered or parchment lined cookie sheets. Leave some space in between the balls of dough as they get bigger on baking.
  8. Place the cookie sheets in the preheated oven for 18 – 22 minutes depending your oven. After 15 minutes keep a close watch on them and remove them from the when they are still slightly soft in the middle.
  9. Leave it on the sheet for another 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.



When I used to work in downtown NYC, one of our lunch places used to be this Russian place on Fulton Street. Walking distance from work, it offered very good food. Recently, when I read a review of the book ‘Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking’ in New York Times, I really wanted to try out some of those dishes. Fortunately, it was just a matter of sending out a request through email, for offers of authentic Russian cookbooks to be forthcoming. And today I made Varenikis, following a recipe in a book lent to me by my friend Olga. Thank you so much, Olga!

Vareniki is a kind of dumplings, made of fresh dough. The dough is a simple one with flour and eggs. And then you fill it with stuff and boil it in salted water. In fact, the literal meaning of the word vareniki is just ‘boiled thing’!


Traditionally it has fillings like meat, cooked potatoes, sauerkraut, cheese, fruit etc. Here I have used a mixture of cheese and dried fruit filling.


The best part of it is, you can make whatever you want of it, with a variety of fillings. Now that I have successfully tried it, the next step would be to try out some new combinations of fillings!


One fact common to all dumplings is that it is so easy to determine when they are done; they float up to the surface when done!


The recipe recommends serving the varenikis with sour cream, but I think it could go with many an interesting sauce or aioli. Next time…


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ lb cottage cheese
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup glazed cherries
  1. To make the dough, mix the salt into the flour.
  2. Beat the eggs and cold water together, and add to the flour.
  3. Mix together and kneed into a smooth dough. Keep covered with cling wrap.
  4. For the stuffing, chop the raisin and cherries. Beat the egg.
  5. Mix cottage cheese, sugar, beaten egg, vanilla extract and chopped fruit together.
  6. Form small balls of the dough.
  7. Make a depression in the center of each of the dough balls with your thumb and fill with stuffing. Carefully, form into an oval shape.
  8. Bring water to boil in a pan, adding a teaspoon of salt to the water.
  9. When the water starts to boil, drop the formed varenikis carefully into the water. Let them cook for a few minutes.
  10. When done, the varenikis will float to the top. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and place on a plate.
  11. Brush them with melted butter. Serve with sour cream.

Palak Paneer – Cottage cheese and spinach


Conducting cooking classes for my friends and colleagues was something I really enjoyed doing. We had so much fun during those classes where we cooked together and then devoured all the fruits of our labour afterwards. Though I didn’t manage to hold many sessions, I will always remember those fun filled classes with a smile. Palak paneer and chicken tikka masala were some of the most popular dishes among my friends so naturally, I received many requests to make these two in the sessions.

Palak paneer is a dish prepared mainly in Punjab, a state in northern India. It makes for an excellent accompaniment to rice or naan, Indian flat bread. The combination of palak and paneer is not only nutritious, but is also a delicious blend of taste, textures and flavours. No wonder so many wanted me to teach how to make it!


Palak is a type of spinach with rounded green leaves that don’t have a big network of veins, making it a good candidate for blanching and puréeing. So it’s not surprising that blanching the palak is the first step in the process. Simply put all the spinach into a pan of boiling water and boil for 2 minutes without using a lid to cover the pan. This is important because if a lid is used, the volatile oils in these leaves will not be able to escape with the steam and this will result in bitter leaves.  After the 2 minutes, transfer the palak into a bowl of cold water with some ice cubes to refresh it.

Refreshing the Palak
Refreshing the Palak

Paneer is cottage cheese and can be made at home quite easily. I was bitten by a lazybug a few days before I last made palak paneer so I didn’t bother to make my own and used the store-bought paneer instead. It really is quite simple to do though and I will post a nice and easy guide on how to make your own paneer soon!


Normally paneer pieces are just fried or added plain into the prepared curry at the end. I always marinate these cubes of paneer with a little lime juice, salt and half a teaspoon of cumin powder for half an hour to make it more interesting and add more flavour to the dish. I then sauté these cubes in a little oil to make them firm so that they won’t crumble when added to the palak.


As palak is not very common in certain parts of the world, I wanted to try making this dish with chard or collard greens. But it just never happened. See, still being lazy…I shall post the result when (or if!) I eventually try it out.


Palak Paneer - Cottage cheese and spinach.
Cuisine: Indian
  • Palak (spinach) 300g
  • Paneer 200g
  • Roasted cumin powder ½ teaspoon
  • Lime juice ½ lime
  • Onion (finely chopped) 1 big
  • Cumin seeds 1 ½ teaspoon
  • Ginger (crushed) ½ inch piece
  • Garlic (crushed) 4 cloves
  • Green chillies (finely chopped)1 – optional
  • Tomato ( puréed) 2 medium
  • Coriander powder 1 tablespoon
  • Cumin powder 1 teaspoon
  • Chilli powder ½ teaspoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Cream 4 tablespoons
  • Or Full cream milk ½ cup
  • Sunflower oil (any refined oil) 3 tablespoons
  1. Cut the paneer into 1 cm cubes, marinate with the juice of half a lime, ½ tsp cumin powder and salt for 10 minutes.
  2. Blanch the spinach, refresh in ice water and grind into a fine paste. Set aside.
  3. Shallow fry the paneer cubes until light brown in a tbsp of oil and drain on a kitchen paper.
  4. Heat the rest of the oil and fry cumin seeds until it changes colour to a darker tone.
  5. Add chopped onions and sauté till transluscent.
  6. Add crushed garlic and ginger, followed by green chilli and fry till the onion becomes slightly brown. Add corriander, chilli and cumin powder and fry for a minute.
  7. Then add the tomato puree and fry for 4-5 mnts stirring often. Add salt to taste.
  8. Once the tomato mixture is fried add the spinach puree and paneer cubes. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Add cream or milk and simmer till a glaze appears on top of the liquid.
  10. Add a squeeze of lime (optional) and serve with a swirl of cream.

Meat-Vegetable Loaf

Today was a lovely day… first time the temperature crossed 70 this season. And I was in the mood for something on the lighter side for dinner. Like a piece of salmon with some lemon-habanero aioli… With that picture in mind, I set out for the grocery store. I was in the meat and fish section when I saw the shop assistant bringing out fresh ground turkey. Ground up is the best way I like to go with turkey, and it was so fresh. And all my plans underwent a sudden change; when I reached home from the grocery store, I had all the fixings for a meatloaf!meatloaf6

This is not truly a meatloaf… more like a meat vegetable loaf. I add a ton of veggies to the mix. Onion, celery, red and green peppers, green peas, brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli… these can all go into it, in any combination. In fact, any vegetable that is not too watery like will work. You can use equal quantities of meat and vegetables.


My combination of spices for this meatloaf are rosemary, thyme, dijon mustard, and red chilli powder. If it is summer and my herb garden is growing, I prefer to use the fresh herbs. If not, dried ones will do as well.


So you chop up all the vegetables. And add them to the ground meat. Along with eggs, breadcrumbs and a bit of sour cream. And of course, salt and pepper for seasoning. The beauty of the whole scheme is that there is no hard and fast rule about what can and cannot go into this meatloaf. By the way, has anyone tried a veggie loaf? Could be an interesting thing to try out. 🙂


By the time I had prepared the mix, there was more than could be accommodated in the loaf pan. Easy to pop the remaining mix into ramekins and bake into individual helpings. And these freeze beautifully.


If one doesn’t want to use red meat, a combination of  turkey, chicken and pork will work well. This particular meatloaf I made with just ground turkey.


Served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, with or without gravy, this meatloaf is absolute yum!


Meat-Vegetable Loaf
  • 2 lb ground meat (mix of turkey, chicken and pork)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 handful of frozen green peas
  • 1 tsp rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup fine breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tomato ketchup for garnishing
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.
  2. Chop all the vegetables fine.
  3. Mince the garlic and herbs.
  4. Thaw the frozen green peas.
  5. In a large pan, mix together all the ingredients, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Be careful not to overmix.
  6. Place the mix into a loaf pan and form the top into a loaf shape.
  7. Garnish with tomato ketchup.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a skewer into the loaf. If it comes out clean, the loaf is done. If required, bake for another 10 minutes.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes, before slicing. Any extra will freeze well.

No Fail Chocolate Cake

 P1f CC

I always love to make this chocolate cake because it’s so simple and it turns out right every time. I’ve been making this cake for years but I definitely made it the most when my girls were still in school, a few years ago. They had the annoying habit of remembering quite late on the night before that they had to bring something in for a bake sale the next day. So I would make my no fail chocolate cake late at night before bed or early in the morning just before leaving for school as it can be made without much planning as the ingredients used are store cupboard staples.


Though this cake can be made with minimal effort and limited time, it doesn’t compromise on taste – it’s soft, light and just so yummy! Another plus is that since refined oil is used instead of butter, the cake will stay soft even if it’s been refrigerated.


An orange glaze on this otherwise simple cake lifts it up a notch. Adding a tablespoon of finely grated orange zest to the cake batter can also complement the glaze quite well. The glaze is simple enough to make: just mix a quarter of a cup of icing sugar or powdered sugar into half a cup of orange juice. If the glaze seems too watery, a bit more icing sugar will do the trick. I also add a couple of teaspoons of orange liqueur to the glaze if it’s not a cake destined for a bake sale 🙂

Served with a dollop of orange cream cheese or a scoop of ice cream, this is perfection.


Orange cream cheese can be made by mixing a quarter of a cup of cream cheese with 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice and 1 teaspoon of finely grated orange zest.

No Fail Chocolate Cake
Cuisine: Cakes
  • Unsweetened cocoa ¾ cup
  • All purpose flour 2 ¼ cup
  • Sugar 1 ¾ cup
  • Yoghurt1 ½ cup
  • Vegetable oil 1 cup
  • Baking soda 2 teaspoons
  • Vanilla essence 1 ½ teaspoons
  • Eggs 3 large
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C or 350° F.
  2. Grease a 9” round tin.
  3. Sift the flour with cocoa and baking soda twice.
  4. Combine all the wet ingredients including eggs well with an electric mixer.
  5. Add flour in small batches and blend well with mixer at slow speed.
  6. Increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. Check whether it is done by inserting a tooth pick into the cake and ensuring it comes back clean.
  8. Once cooked, remove from the oven onto a wire rack.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes and remove cake from the tin.