Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas......hohoho!!

Christmas - that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia, it may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved. - Augusta E. Rundel

These past couple of days have been so hectic that I haven't found the time to follow up on my Christmas posts... neverthless I couldnt have missed the chance of wishing all of my precious readers a Happy and Blessed season. I shall be back with more posts in a few days....till and be merry!!

See you all in the new year...........


Friday, 16 December 2011

Sweet Date and Walnut Crescents/ Nevryo/ Nevrio, Karanji, Kajjayakalu for Christmas.

I am almost coming to the end of my Kuswar/Christmas sweet making journey for this year. It is Christmas in less than 10 days and my cupboard is stocked with Special Karakadde or Chilli  and Ginger flavoured Spicy Gramflour sticksRosette Cookies/ Roce Cookies/ KokkisanSweet Semolina Balls with Almonds, Raisins and Condensed milk/Rava LaddusButter Chakkuli's/ Crispy Savoury Flour wheels, not forgetting the Caribbean Fruit Cake  and now Sweet Date and Walnut Crescents/Nevryo/NevrioI am so looking forward to sharing these treats with friends.

Well today's post is on a Christmas goodie that I truly love. Sweet puff crescents, 
Nevrio's/ Nevryo as it is known in Konkani or Karanji/ Kajjayakalu in other parts of India is a crispy pastry shell enclosing a wonderfully soft, crunchy, sweet and luscious treasure, traditionally  a mixture of raisins, nuts, semolina, coconut, seeds or sometimes a lentil base..........

Though I love all things traditional........there is some part of me that loves adventure in gastronomy....and as all my other treats were made the traditional way.....I had to break the spell!! I chose to use dates and walnuts in my Nevrio's, as it is a popular and much loved combination in cakes and pies......

As always I made my first trusted call home to ask mom what she thought of my idea...she said she had never tried it before ...and to experiment with a small batch.....and so I did. Made them today....and let me tell you these Nevrio's are awesome, the covering is crisp 
and the filling is chewy, sweet, nutty and simply delightful... I like the pastry covering  thicker than the traditional paper thin varieties, and loaded with the delicious filling, but thats just me ;)  
If you, like me, enjoy in things out of the ordinary..... a little bit of adventure....give these nevrio's a go!.... ..

For a crispy covering:
250 gms maida/refined flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp ghee/ oil
water to make dough

Dates: 10 deseeded and chopped
Walnuts: 5 whole, chopped
Sesame seeds: 1/2 cup
Poppy seeds: 2 tbsps
Sugar: 4 tbsps
Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp


In a pan on medium heat, roast seperately the sesame seeds till lightly browned, keep aside, roast the poppy seeds till they start popping, keep aside. Roast the nuts till fragnant, then add the roasted seeds and cardamom powder, dates and sugar to the pan. Before the sugar starts melting take the pan off the heat and mix all the filling ingredients together. Set aside. Should be completely cool before filling. Make previous day if possible.

2. Place the flour in a bowl, add salt to it. Mix well with fingers. Melt oil/ghee in a pan till really hot and then pour the hot oil into the flour and mix well with a spoon. Then using your finger tips mix the flour well and add enough water to the flour to make a hard dough. Leave it covered for an hour.

3. Knead the dough and divide into 5-6 large balls. Roll out one ball into a large very thin circle (paper thin). Using a circular cutter, cut out smaller circles. Or you could make 25 small lemon sized balls and roll them out individually into thin circles/ pooris. I prefer them slightly thicker so I roll them out thicker and fry them a little longer.

4. Take filling with spoon and place 1 heaped tsp of the filling on one side of the circle. To secure the ends firmly, dip your forefinger in water and run it lightly on the inner part of the circle'e edge before folding it together. Press the ends together securely. I tend to make an overlapping pattern with the ends to make sure its sealed well. Then using a fork make a design to the edge. If the edge is not closed firmly, the filling may break open while frying and the contents of the filling spill into the oil, thereby creating a mess. Repeat the process till all the filling is used. Will make around 20 nevrios of medium size or 25 small nevrio's. Keep covered till they are fried.

5. Heat oil in a thick pan on medium to high heat. Fry two or three nevrios at a time till completely done and golden brown. Remove using a metal sieve spoon and placed over a cooling rack with kitchen paper to drain excess oil. Let the nevrio's cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.

Caysera's tips :
To avoid a soggy pastry covering- Ensure you add hot oil to the flour before making a dough. The flour should sizzle when adding the oil. Roll out each nevrio circle really thin and then fry the nevrio on medium to high heat till done/ golden brown.

If your nevrio's turns out soggy :( not fret. Place the nevrios on a baking sheet in a 175-180C/ 350F preheated oven for 7 -10 mins, they will be crispy again. 


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Butter Chakkuli's/ Crispy Savoury Flour wheels.

This is one of the tastiest Savoury Christmas goodies/ Kuswar that I make and we love at home. 

Chakkuli's or Crispy savoury flour wheels are light, crunchy, buttery and melt-in-the mouth. They can be made and enjoyed throughout the year. But not in my home.... I can hardly be bothered during the year, but come Christmas, i'm more than enthusiatic and cant wait to churn them without further ado let me share this simple and tasty recipe for Mangalore style Maida butter chakkuli's/ crispy flour wheels with you :)

Maida/Refined flour: 250gms
Naked Urad dal/ Black gram dal(without the outer skin) :1/2 cup
Butter: Lemon size
Cumin seeds: 2 Teaspoon
Sesame seeds – 2-3 Teaspoons

Oma/ Ajwain seeds: 2 pinches (optional)
Salt To taste

Sieve refined flour/maida into a bowl. Place sieved flour in a white muslin cloth, tie it loosely, place it in a steamer/ tandoor( mangalore style steamer) and steam it for 20 minutes. Take it out of the steamer, open the cloth, let the flour cool slighlty. Then break all the lumps that have formed with your fingers. Sprinkle salt over the steamed flour and pass the steamed flour through a sieve, placed over a large bowl, twice using the back of a spoon to help break the lumps.

2. Dry roast the naked urad dal in a pan, on a medium flame till they turn golden red and start becoming fragnant. Then soak the fried gram in water for half an hour. Half an hour later grind the dal with enough water to make a smooth fine paste.

3. Next add the ground urad dal paste to the steamed flour, add melted butter, sesame seeds, ajwain seeds, cumin seeds and mix really well. Slowly add water to the mixture, and knead well for a few minutes to get a soft chapathi like dough. Cover the dough with a cloth.

4. Oil the insides of the chakuli press. Insert a small portion of the prepared dough into the Chakuli press/ maker. Keep a clean plastic sheet ready. Press out a few chakkuli of desired size at a time.

5. Place a pan with 4-5 cups of cooking oil in it on a medium flame. When hot, carefully place the chakkuli's one at a time into the oil. Fry for about 5-7 minutes or till they get a light brown colour. Then using a sieved metal spoon take out the chakkuli's and place over a sieve covered with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. Once cool store in airtight containers. Will keep well for 4-5 weeks.


Monday, 12 December 2011

Sweet Semolina Balls with Almonds, Raisins and Condensed milk/ Rava Laddus

In the Christmas Sweets/Kuswar  collection there usually tends to be atleast one sweetened ball/ laddu preparation made. Out of the 3 most common sweetened ball/ laddu preparation ( rice laddu, sesame seed/till laddu and semolina/ rava laddu), my favorite is the Semolina/ Rava laddu. 

These balls or laddus are dead easy to prepare and very yummy. I had some condensed milk and almonds powder in my store cupboard so decided to put them to good use. You can also use roasted and chopped up cashew nuts instead. Just add the roasted nuts along with the raisins to the laddu mixture before binding together.

To make these laddus you will need

(makes 30 small laddus)
1.5 cup very fine Semolina/ Rava 
1/2 cup Ground almonds (can be found in bakery section of most stores in UK) or 1/4 cup chopped up cashewnuts.
1/4  cup of raisins
3 tbsps ghee/ clarified butter 
1 and 1/3 cup of caster sugar (it is important for the sugar to be very fine) 
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamon
6 tbsp condensed milk
3 tbsp hot water  
1. Heat ghee in a pan. Fry raisins till they plump up. Keep aside (If using cashewnuts or any other whole nut, lightly roast the nuts in a little ghee, cool and chop them up). Add semolina/rava to same pan and  fry over medium-low heat for about 6-7 minutes, turning frequently until the rava is evenly lightly golden in colour and fragnant. 
2. Once semolina or rava is almost done, add the ground almonds to the semolina mixture and fry for a further minute, tossing about. Add the freshly ground cardamon and mix thoroughly.
3. Turn off the heat and stir in sugar and salt. Add the raisins (chopped nuts if using).
4. Dissolve condensed milk in hot water. Add about 8-9 tbsp of this milk mixture into the rava mixture. Stir in and see if the mixture can be formed into balls within your palm. If the laddus disintegrate when you try to press it into a ball, add more milk mixture, a teaspoon at a time, until the right consistency is reached.
5. Shape about 2 tablespoons of mixture into laddus, till all the mixture is used up. Cool then store in an airtight tin. Keeps well for 3-4 weeks.


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Rosette Cookies/ Roce Cookies/ Kokkisan

Ever wondered why Rosette cookies or Roce cookies are traditionally made for Christmas all over the world?? Hmmm...Ive thought about it as well...been unsuccessful in finding an deduce that because flowers are nature's ultimate expression of God's love, Beautiful rosettes when prepared with love during Christmas gratify the Lord!! 

It is still unknown as to who discovered the Rosette cookie, the Germans, Norwegians, Dutch, Czech, Polish, Mexican and Indians all claim that the Rosette cookie is really "theirs"....who knows!! ( if you do know plss share the knowledge !!)

The Rosette cookie is a delicate, crisp, lightly sweetened, fragnant flower shaped cookie made using intricately designed rosette irons. In Mangalore the cookies are known as Kokkisan/Roce cookies as coconut milk (Roce) is used to add richness and flavour to the cookies. Unlike other parts of the world where refined flour is used to make the cookie, Mangaloreans use a mixture of ground rice and flour. 

 For decades my late Maternal Grandma used to make Christmas sweets/ Kuswar on an industrial scale and supply these sweets to the local shops and bakeries in and around Mangalore. As a child on holidays, I used to love watching these large group of women in the Christmas spirit work for hours together churning out lovely christmas treats. My mom has learned the art of Kuswar making (Christmas sweets making) from Grandma....and now teaches me the invaluable tricks and tips on making good treats.

 This is my mom's recipe for Instant Roce cookies that are delicate, light, crispy and melt in the mouth. It is instant as it does not involve any prior soaking and grinding of the rice. The batter can be made easily within 5 minutes. When stored in airtight containers these cookies keep well for 4-5 weeks.

To make Instant Roce Cookies/ Kokkisan you require:

Dry ingredients:
Ground rice flour: 1 cup ( I used Melam Appam podi which is finely ground rice)
Refined flour/Maida: 1 cup
Nutmeg powder:1/2 tsp
Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp
Wet Ingredients:
Coconut milk: 3/4 can/ 1.5 cups of thick milk/ 1st extract
Egg: 1
Rose water: 2 tsps
Granulated Sugar: 3 tbsps

1. In a bowl sieve all the dry ingredients together.  In another bowl put all the wet ingredients and sugar and beat very lightly to mix. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and use a balloon whisk to get a homogenous mixture of double cream/thick dosa consistency, with no lumps, do not overbeat.
2. Heat sufficient oil in a large deep pan. ( if you have a thermometer- to between 360-375F ). Heat a rosette iron in the hot oil (375 degrees) for a minute.
3. Drain excess oil from the iron on a kitchen paper. 

4. Dip the iron in the batter to 1/4 inch from the top of the iron.
5. Dip iron immediately into hot oil (375 degrees). 
6. Let the cookie remain submerged in the oil with the mould for about 5 seconds, there will be a lot of bubbles in the oil indicating the cookie is getting cooked. After about 5 secs use a tiny gentle up and down motion within the oil to tease the cookie off the mould. If the cookies dont unmould by themselves use a fork to release the cookie from the sides of the mould.
7. Fry rosette until golden on one side then tip over to cook the other side. Once the cookie is done the number of bubbles in the oil reduces. Lift out the cooked cookie using a sieved spoon, and then turn the cookie grooves side down to allow all the oil to drain out from the crevices. Drain onto a rack placed over paper towels. Allow to cool completely.
8. Reheat the iron in the heated oil again for 30 secs and make the next rosette. Continue till you use up all the batter.

This recipe will make 30-35 rosettes. This will take around 1.5 -2 hours depending on the size of the pan and no. fried at a time ( I fried 2 at a time). In case you do get bored towards the end, thin down the remaining batter with a little water and enjoy them as pancakes :)

Once you have made all the rosettes. Let them cool completely before packing them in an airtight container.

Serving suggestions:
If you like, serve them like the Swedes and Norwegians do with a generous sprinkling of castor sugar or cinnamon sugar, or if you are a chocoholic like me.... dip the cookie edges into melted chocolate then dipped into a plate of crushed nuts....

 or munch them on their own like mangies do :) 

 ....dont stop munching till all are gone...........mind you...that is on Christmas day ;) you wouldnt want to go through the whole process again :)

Caysera's Useful Tips -when disaster strikes:
1. Soggy rosette? It should be fairly crisp as soon as it is slightly cool. The oil may be not hot enough or you are not frying long enough. Also, make sure you turn the cookie upside down to cool on it's back. The oil needs to drain off the edges.
2. Lots of blisters on your rosette? You over beat your eggs
3. Is the rosette falling off the iron while in the oil? You aren't putting your iron deep enough into the oil. Add more oil to the fryer or place lower in fryer. But, don't hit the bottom, it will burn the rosette.
4. Can’t get the rosette off the iron? Remove with a knife. You may have dipped it too deep in the batter.
5. Trouble with the batter falling off the iron- Your oil must be sufficiently hot before you dip the mold into it, pat the iron flat onto kitchen paper after taking it out from the hot oil  to remove excess oil, and then let it hiss as you put it into the batter.

I hope you have fun making and eating them......

Yours in Taste,

Carol Pereira

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Celebrating Love with "Love Cake" and the 100th Post"

.....yes love is in the air...its Christmas in a couple of weeks, my baby is almost one,  the love of my life Clem has been the best dad and partner ever........ and its the much awaited 100th blog post......yes I am on a high!!...Praise God...:) I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my readers, bloggers and friends who have appreciated my work and encouraged me through my first blog century. All your lovely comments and encouragement has made this blogging journey meaningful and worthwhile :)

Every year I go down the route of soaking fruits to make the much loved Christmas cake....this year too I will be making a Traditional Christmas cake (recipe coming soon) 
and  the Award winning Carribean Fruit Cake. And because this year is so special there is going to be an extra special festive cake, one that comes from across the globe where it is usually made at Christmas, New Year's, weddings and birthdays.

This cake is fragnant, aromatic and moorish. Made with 10 eggs ( the Chinese believe the no.10 to be "perfect" so "Perfect Love"..and other ingredients like honey, rose water, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cashewnuts .......wooohooo....let the party begin :) 

The recipe for love cake  is adapted from Portuguese cuisine, probably from the 16th century, when Portugal dominated the spice trade and controlled a portion of the island once known as Ceylon. The recipe's cashewnuts and cardamom grow on the island and are used by the native Sinhalese The use of rose water may trace to the Ceylon Muslims 

What's behind the name??
As this cake landed on the Srilankan shore during the Portuguese rule and was instantly adopted by the grandmothers, aunts and mothers ... and they decided this cake was so incredible, amazing and such a beautiful cake they named it love cake. They decided if you fed it to the boy who you wanted to marry your daughter, they would fall instantly in love.".hmmm......are all you mums and dads with daughter's of marriageable age listening ;)

The cake becomes richer in flavour and denser in texture with time. Love Cake keeps well for 2-3 weeks in a tightly covered tin, stored in a cool place but not refrigerated. The cake tastes best after two days.

Recipe Adapted from-The Cake Mistress 
To make this lovely cake you will require:

250g Semolina
125g Unsalted Butter, room temperature
10 Eggs, separated
500g Caster Sugar
185g Cashew Nuts, chopped finely
2 tablespoons Rosewater
2 tablespoons Honey
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Rind
1/2 teaspoon ground Cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1. Warm semolina in a dry pan over medium heat until fairly hot to the touch, being careful not to let it brown.
2. Put in a bowl and while still a little warm, mix in softened butter using a wooden spoon. Add lemon rind, spices and salt. Mix well, cover and set aside two to four hours.
3. Separately, mix cashews with rose water, almond extract and vanilla. Cover and set aside.

4. Grease 9-by-13-inch pan and line with three thicknesses of wax paper. Butter well the top layer of paper.

5. In a large bowl, beat yolks and sugar until they have doubled in bulk and become thick, creamy and very light in color.

6. Beat in the semolina-butter mixture, a little at a time. Add the honey and beat. When well beaten, fold in cashew mixture.

7. Beat egg whites with lemon juice until they hold firm peaks. Fold into the cake mixture.

8. Spoon the mix into the prepared pan and bake in a preheated oven at 150C for 50-60 minutes. If the top starts to brown, cover with aluminium foil. Do not use the skewer test to check if it’s ready as this cake is very moist. Instead, lightly jiggle the cake tin and make sure there is no runny batter. 

9. Do not remove cake from pan. Let cool completely. While still in pan, cut into small squares.


Sunday, 4 December 2011

Special Karakadde or Chilli -Ginger flavoured Spicy Gramflour sticks- Kuswar

Yes, I have started this year's Kuswar preparation with a bang.

The first Kuswar/ Mangalorean Christmas treat I decided to start with this year is hubby's favourite, Karakadde or Spicy Gramflour sticks, which is a savoury and crispy snack that compliments any drink.  I guarantee, your guests will not be able to stop munching them :~)
This is a very simple, yet tasty recipe for crispy, spicy and very addictive Karakadde/ Spicy gram flour sticks. The uniqueness to this recipe is that, unlike the usual karakadde recipes that use chilli powder for the spice/ heat, this recipe uses ground green chillies and ginger, which makes it very unique and Christmassey!!
Make sure you double the quantity as they make a dissappearing act without much effort :)

Recipe Source- Adapted from Aunty Betty's recipe book. Original recipe uses 25gms cornflour and 25 gms green chilli.

Gram flour: 250 gms
Green chillies: 25 gms
Ginger: 2 inches
Oil : 1/2 cup
Hing: 1 tsp
Cornflour: 2 tsps
Ajwain: 2 large pinches.
Salt to taste
Water to make soft dough
Oil for deep frying

1. Grind green chillies, ginger and hing to make a fine paste without water (I used a little oil from the 1/2 cup measure to make a paste in my blender).
2. Heat the remainder of the 1/2 cup oil in a pan, add the ground paste, and fry well.
3. Pour the hot fried spice paste and all the oil over the gramflour in a bowl. Wait for it to cool.
4. When cool mix well into the gramflour, add salt and water to make a soft chappatti dough.
5. Add the cornflour and ajwain/oma seeds and knead the dough well. It is okay for the dough to be sticky.
6. Divide the mixture into 5-6 balls, then pass through a  karakadde maker over hot oil.
7. Fry till the karakadde turns a lovely golden colour. Do not overfry. Drain over tissue paper.
Once cool pack in airtight boxes. Keeps well for several weeks, that is  if it remains :)

Serve as appetizers for your Christmas party along with drinks. 


Saturday, 3 December 2011

My First Awards!!

I am really honoured and lucky to receive my first blog awards from Teena Mary @ Teenz' Yummy Delight. Thank you Teena, I'm on top of the moon :)

Teena has a lovely food blog with interesting, healthy and tasty recipes.  Do visit her beautiful blog and enjoy her tasty recipes, wonderful pictures and leave her your precious comments :)

When I started blogging there were so many blogs that I came across, but a few really made an impression. It is a joy to follow these creative and beautiful blogs . 

I would like to pass on these awards to my blogger friends whose blogs have been a visual and sensual treat. 

Nieves @ Igloo cooking
Aarthi @ Yummy tummy
Amy @ Food Corner

Congrats and Spread the love.................


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Mangalore Style- Green Masala Baked Fish.

This a very simple recipe for a stylish and flavour packed fish preparation. 

On this plate you will see fish prepared in 2 styles. The left side/red coloured fish is the Mangalore Meet Mirsang style of fish fry using the Meet Mirsang/ chilli paste, which I have posted before. On the right side is the Mangalore Style Green Masala Baked fish, which I will describe today.

The flavours and spices of the Mangalore Green masala compliments the fish very well. I prefer to bake the fish with this masala rather than fry it, as the fish tends to retain its moistness and absorbs less oil while baking. But you can use either way to cook it.

Fish: 2 pieces ( King fish/ Surmai used here)
Salt to taste
Vinegar to taste
Olive oil: 2 tsps

1. Take the green masala paste in a small bowl. Add to it about a teaspoonful of vinegar and salt to taste. Add the olive oil and mix well to form a uniform paste. Then apply the paste over the cleaned and dried fish slices on both sides. Keep aside for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 200C. Place the fish slices on a baking tray in the center of the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or till done. 
Serve hot with potato chips and a fresh salad.

This green masala/ spice  paste can also be used to steam fish wrapped in banana / turmeric leaves.


Yours in Taste,

Carol Pereira