Monday, 22 April 2013

'No-Bake', 'Egg-Free' Chocolate Crunch Cake with Marshmallows, Prunes and Short Bread.

For 'Red Nose Day' (Comic Relief) at Baby A's nursery I made this simple, delicious, chocolatey, 'No bake' 'Egg Free' Chocolate Cake with Marshmallows, Prunes and Shortbread. It was relished by all, very moreish, and to- die-for.

This cake also known as the 'Chocolate Biscuit Cake', 'Chocolate Fridge Cake' or 'Chocolate Crunch Cake' was a bit of an unknown cake right until 'Prince William' (the future King of England) claimed it to be one of his favourite desserts and even had it served to his guests at his Royal's wedding reception at Buckingham Palace in April 2011.

The Royal family has its very own recipe for this cake which uses McVities Rich Tea Biscuits as one of the ingredients, the rest of the recipe is a guarded secret :( 

Since then many have tried to come out with their own recipes for this cake. The recipe I created below is a variation of a very good 'Good Housekeeping recipe' It uses mini- marshmallows, chopped succulent prunes, melt-in-the mouth chocolate and short bread (I  used rich tea the second time for a party with equally yummy results, the shortbread however makes the cake more buttery with a richer flavour) 

You could substitute the marshmallows and prunes with dried fruit and nuts of your choice. The Rich Tea Biscuits can be substituted with Short Bread or Marie Biscuits.

I simply broke the biscuits into 1/4 inch pieces, mixed them up with chopped prunes and mini marshmallows, then incorporated these treats into melted chocolate, poured into a tin and let it sit for a few hours. Then chopped them into bars and stored in the fridge.

To make No Bake Chocolate Crunch Cake with Marshmallows, Prunes and Short Bread/ Rich Tea Biscuits.
Makes an 8 inch square tin around 30 small squares. Recipe easily doubles.
Chocolate: 300g/ 10 oz  ( minimum of  53% Cocoa solids)  5oz plain chocolate and 5 oz milk chocolate
Unsalted butter: 100g (3½oz)
Golden syrup 3 tbsps
Mini Marshmallows: 45g (1.5 oz)
Ready-to-eat prunes, chopped: 120g (4oz)
Rich tea biscuits/ Short bread biscuits, roughly crushed: 200g (7oz)
Mini chocolate Easter eggs, to decorate

1. Line a 8 inch square tin with two layers of clingfilm, leaving excess hanging over the sides (see picture below). Break up the biscuits into rough 1/4 inch pieces, chop large prunes into 3 pieces each or halves if smaller. Put into a bowl with the mini marshmallows. If you dont hav mini marshmallows chop up your marshmallows into 2 pieces.

2. Put the chopped chocolates and butter into a large, microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30sec bursts until melted and smooth. Stir in the golden syrup. 

3. Add the Marshmallows, Prunes and Short Bread Biscuits/ Rich Tea Biscuits to the chocolate mixture and carefully mix. 

4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, scatter over the mini eggs and freeze for 2hr or chill in the fridge until set (about 4-5 hrs).

Remove from the fridge 20min before cutting. Cut into small squares. Serve.

Store leftovers if any, in the fridge for upto a week in an airtight container.

Have a lovely week,

Yours in Taste,

Carol Pereira.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Mangalore Style- Spicy Beaten Rice/ Theek Pou.

To go along with the Steamed Nendra bananas I posted early this week I made this very simple and quick Pou/ poha/ beaten rice. 

The story behind this recipe:
When Baby A was 3 months old we flew to India for his Grandparents, Uncles Aunties and Cousins to meet him. At the time my mom engaged for me a 'Balnti Posteli' ( 'Balnti' in Konkani means 'new mom', 'Posteli' means to 'look after/care for') or a ' lady to look after the new Baby and Mom'. It is tradition in most Mangalore Catholic homes to employ these experienced women for the first 40 days after birth, to help a mom make the transition smoothly. She stays in the family home cooks healing and nourishing dishes for the new mother and cares for the newborn with daily oil massages, bathing, burping, nappy changes and nap times. Finding a good 'Balnti Posteli'  is taken very seriously and the search for one begins  3 months after conception. As Baby A was born in the UK, I got to meet her only when baby A was 3 months old. Well this was one of the dishes she used to make for breakfast. I enjoyed it so much, that I learned to make it from her.

 This  preparation is delicately spiced, lightly sweetened, and has a subtle crunch of pou and fresh coconut. The seasoning adds a lovely lingering flavour (of curry leaves) to the Poh. This simple dish takes 5 minutes to make and is so addictive, you will find it hard to stop eating :)

Serve alongside Steamed Nendra bananas or drown the poh in milky tea or coffee and savour it !

Mangalore Style- Spicy Beaten Rice/ Theek Pou

Serves: 2 | Preparation time: 3 minutes | Seasoning time: 2 minutes
Recipe Source: Baby A's 'Balnti Posteli' 
Thin variety of beaten rice/ Bareek pou: 2 cups
Kashmiri Red chilli powder: 1/2 tsp or acc to your spice level
Coriander powder: 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder: 1/4 tsp
Sugar: 4 tsps
Salt : around 1/2 tsp
Freshly grated coconut: small handful
Seasoning: (Optional)
Oil: 1 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig


1. In a bowl take thin beaten rice or bareek pou. Sprinkle over the three spice powders ie. chilli, corinader and cumin.
2. In a small bowl take around 1/2 tsp of salt. Dissolve it in 3 tbsps of water.
3. Add the salted water a little at a time to the beaten rice and use your fingers to lightly massage the spice and water into the beaten rice. Continue adding salted water till the beaten rice starts to very slightly soften. Taste the pou for salt. Add more salted water if required.
4. Sprinkle over freshly grated coconut and mix well using fingers.
5. Lastly sprinkle over sugar and gently mix . Serve as it is or do the seasoning.

For Seasoning (optional)

Take oil in a pan, when hot splutter mustard seeds, add curry leaves fry till crispy, pour over pou and mix well.

If you enjoyed this post or any other, share it with your friends, please do drop me a line in the comments box at the end of this post, on my Facebook page or at, would love to hear from you.

Yours in Taste,

Carol Pereira

Monday, 15 April 2013

Steamed Bananas, Steamed Nendran Bananas.

I have been craving Steamed Banana for a while, not just any Steamed Banana but one made using the ripened 'Nendra/ Nendran Banana', 'Nendra Baale' in Kannada, 'Nandarkai' in Mangalore Konkani, 'Moirachi Keli or Maidyachi Keli' in Goan Konkani and 'Nendran Pazham' in Kerala. Unfortunately I had to wait for several weeks before I managed to spot it at our local Asian stores. 

Nendran Bananas are a variety of banana, much bigger in size than the regular Cavendish, flesh is firmer, silkier and sweeter. When raw they are used to make Savoury Banana Crisps or Chips or 'Pathekaan' in Konkani. On ripening their skin gets darker spots or patches, their flesh turns sweeter lends itself wonderfully to cooking, unlike most bananas that leech out liquid on cooking.

Like my mom would, I  filled a 'thondoor' or Mangalorean steamer with water. Let the water come to a boil, placed the bananas on a metal sieve at the centre of the steamer and let it cook for around 20 mins or till well done.  While still warm  I served it alongside my favourite 'Mangalorean theek poh/ Spicy beaten rice'. It was heavenly, delicious, moist, sweet, silken and full of flavour.

Baby A enjoyed slices of the uncooked banana caramelised on a shallow frying pan with salted butter and a good sprinkling of sugar and powdered cinnamon.

However you choose to eat bananas, do have them, for they are packed with vital nutrients known for preventing tummy ulcers, its potassium content may help prevent the formation of kidney stones and protect against high blood pressure and stroke, the vitamins in bananas (particularly vitamins A, C, and E) can help protect your eyesight. The tryptophan in bananas can help increase levels of serotonin in the brain, giving you a mood lift. The vitamin B6 in bananas can help regulate blood glucose levels. Bananas support health and beauty, give you energy, and they taste great.

So make them a part of your diet.

To Make Nendra Steamed Bananas
Serves: 2-3 | Steaming time: 20-25 mins
Ripe Nendra Bananas: 2

1. Place the whole unpeeled Nendra Banana in a rack in hot steamer or thondoor. Steam for 2o- 25 minutes or till done. 
Serve while still warm on its own or with Spicy Beaten rice for breakfast or as a tea time snack.

To Make Nendra Caramelised Cinnamon Banana Slices for kids
Serves: 1 |Cooking time: 5 minutes
Ripe Nendra Bananas: 1/2
Salted Butter to shallow fry: 1 tsp or as required
Sugar: 1-2 tsps
Ground cinnamon to taste

1. Peel the uncooked banana. Slice into 1/2 inch circles.
2. Heat a wide-bottomed frying pan, melt the butter, and when it starts to bubble add the banana slices. Sprinkle with sugar and fry for a minute before turning.
3. Continue frying on a medium heat until the sugar has started to caramelise and the bananas are golden brown. Sprinkle over a pinch of cinnamon. Take off heat.

Serve just as it is as a tea time snack or with yoghurt or a scoop of vanilla iccream for dessert.
If you love bananas you might want to try these recipes too:
1. Baby's gone Bananas- Banana and Cashewnut Cake
2. Saying 'I Love you Mother' with "Baked Banana Donuts with Dark Chocolate Chips"
3. Australian Fresh Pineapple and Banana Cake with a Cheese and Buttercream Frosting and Happy Birthday Hubby.
4.  Avocado, Banana and Apricot Cake/ Muffins with a Chocolate Avocado frosting.
5Mangalore Style Spicy Plantains with Dried Shrimp, Kele Sukke with Galmbi.
6. Heera's Ghariyo- Sweet Banana Fritters.
7. Hearty Mangalore Buns

If you enjoyed this post or any other, share it with your friends, and please drop me a line in the comments box at the end of this post, or on my Facebook page or at, would love to hear from you.

Till my next post.

Yours in Taste,

Carol Pereira

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Mangalore Style Baked Fish Masala with Sardines/ Voir Ponda Vuzo

I was craving some hot and spicy food and keeping to my desire to try to get more fish in my diet, I decided to go fishy last Sunday. When I remembered a request from one of my dear readers Mariette DCunha, who wrote to me saying:

"There is one recipe which I hope you have eaten like me and can post the recipe. It is called ' voir ponda vuzo' up and down fire. The dish is cooked traditionaly with fire on top and bottom and mackerals is cooked in a rich tomato garlic gravy.
Love your blog and feel happy to be a part of my cooking experience" 
Warm Regards,Mariette

As I had half a dozen Sardines in hand I set out to prepare this dish. In the early 1900's leading to 1980's possesing an oven or gas supply in a Mangalorean kitchen was rare. So at the time most Grandma's when requested a baked dish would create their own little baking gizmos using what was available to them. They would pop the fish smeared with a delicious chilli mixture into a copper based vessel, then place the vessel over a 'ranni' in konkani for an earthen stove fuelled by firewood. Cover the pan tightly with a lid and  place live charcoals on the top. This way the fish would cook from top and bottom, mimicking an oven. Brilliant isnt it!! The smoky flavours imparted to the fish by cooking over firewood and using coals I believe is entirely out of this world!!

Since I didn't want the fire department rushing to my doorstep with firewood and coals creating this lovely smoke in my kitchen....I decided to go the easy route and baked this dish in my oven instead ;)

There are many different ways that you can season your fish but I always find myself coming back to the ever so simple delicious Mangalore Meet Mirsang/Chilli paste which I have used in this recipe. The chilli keeps it hot, the vinegar/ lime keeps it zesty. Once you have smeared the marinade over the fish, you can let it marinate for a few minutes while you prepare the slicings for the fish to be laid on and covered with. Simply place the marinaded fish in a oven safe dish cover it with the fried delicious onion, tomato, ginger garlic mixture, place in the oven for 20-30 minutes or till fish is cooked through and the spice paste appears nicely baked with a deep red colour and the edges of the fish and onions  a bit caramelised.
Although I love the traditional shallow fried sardines/ Mangalore Masala fried fish, this dish is a perfect alternative if you enjoy the spices and wish for a healthier and delicious alternative. I have tried this recipe with fish like Mackerals and Pomfret too....all with good results.
Serve hot with steamed rice and a tasty Daaliso saar/lentil soup ( My mom's).

Recipe to Make Mangalore Style Baked Fish Masala. "Voir Ponda Vuzo"
(My Version)
Serves 2| Preparation time: 3o mins | Baking time: 20-25 minutes.
Sardines : 6 cleaned or Mackerals: 2 large
For Spice paste 1: Meet Mirsang/ Chilli paste: For Marination

Kashmiri or Bedagi Chilli powder- 2 tsps
Cumin Powder- 1tsp
Tumeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Vinegar- 1tbsp
Salt to taste.
Slicings for frying:
Onion: 1 medium
Tomato: 2 small
Green chillies: 1 no
Ginger: 1/2 inch finey chopped
Garlic: 3 cloves finely chopped
Coriander leaves: 2 tsps finely chopped

Spice paste 2:
Kashmiri or Bedagi Chilli powder- 2 tsps
Cumin Powder- 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 1/2 tsp
Tumeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Vinegar- to taste
Salt to taste. 
Coconut Oil: 1 tbsp or as required.

Clean fish well. If using big fish like Mackerals or Pomfret try to clean fish without opening side. (Helps to stuff fish with the spicy tomato- onion-garlic mixture). Dry with paper towels. Keep aside.
2. Prepare Spice paste 1 : Take ingredients under Spice Paste 1 in a bowl, add water to make a shiny paste. See hereDo not make runny or too thick.  Spread paste all over body and insides of fish. Keep aside for a minimum of 10 minutes.
3. Prepare the Slicings: Finely chop onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, green chillies and coriander leaves.
4. Prepare Spice Paste 2: In a small bowl take the powdered spices salt add vinegar, add a little water to make a thick paste. Taste for salt and sourness adjust.
5. In a pan take coconut oil, when hot add the curry leaves fry, add finely chopped onions and fry till onions are lightly brown, add the finely chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies fry till garlic slightly softens, add the prepared spice paste 2, and fry lightly ( do not allow to burn). Quickly add the finely chopped tomatoes and fry the mixture till tomatoes soften and oil starts seperating. Mash lighlty with the back of a spoon. Taste for seasoning. Adjust.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a shallow baking dish that will hold sardines/fish in a single layer. Place the 1/3rd of the prepared onion-tomato mixture at the base of a oven dish. Place fish side by side in prepared baking dish, laying fish on their sides over the spice bed. 
Stuff insides of fish with bit of mixture, place the remaining tomato mixture over the fish. 
7. Place the dish in the center of a preheated oven at 180C/ 350F and bake for 20-25 mins or until done and top appears a deep red coloured.

If you enjoyed this dish you might enjoy these baked fish dishes too:

I would love to know how you got on with this dish or any of my recipes. Do drop me a line on my Facebook page or at Look forward to hearing from you.

Yours in Taste,

Carol Pereira

Thursday, 4 April 2013

POST EASTER SPECIAL: Pot Roasted Leg of Lamb in a Spicy Mangalore Style Curry.

Easter has just been around the corner and during the long Easter break I took the opportunity to try out this very simple yet interesting recipe. One of the things that really excites me about this recipe is its simplicity. The use of simple easily available ingredients to marinade the leg of lamb. After marinating the lamb, it is lightly coated with flour and gently browned to seal in all of the wonderful marinade and juiciness within the meat. And then slowly cooked in either a pressure pot/ slow cooker/ in an oven until the fibers of the meat start to loosen and the fat starts to render, returning the meat to a moist and falling apart tender state. The gravy that the meat is cooked in is tomato based and what brings it to life is the wonderful medley of spices in the Mangalore Bunt Chilli Powder/ Spice Blend* (see notes below or substitute with any "Meat Masala powder" available in Asian stores, though must admit taste of preparation will differ) 

Since the entire preparation, marination and cooking process will take a few good hours it is best to leave this dish for a relaxing weekend.

I must say the leg of lamb turned out pretty good! The lamb was nice, moist, tender and falling apart and the spicy tomato gravy was full of flavour. I served the leg of lamb with steamed rice, a fresh salad and a good serving of greek yoghurt. 

The next time I will try adding  in a few baby potatoes/carrots/ other vegetables to the pot towards the end to make the dish more wholesome.

I would love to how you got on with this dish or any other recipes on this blog. I would absolutely love to see your dishes :)). Send me your pictures and messages via the Facebook page or leave me a comment at the end of this post or email me at Look forward to hearing from you.

To Make Pot Roasted Leg of Lamb in a Spicy Mangalore Style Curry.
Serves: 2-3 | Preparation time: 40 mins |  Marinading time: 2 hours (min) | Cooking time: 2-3 hours depending on the size of leg used and method followed.

*Leg of Lamb : 750gms. I used the lower leg/seperated at the joint . See notes below 

For Marinade:
*Tenderiser/ raw papaya paste : 1-2 tsp (optional) see notes below
Lemon juice: 1/2 lemon
Ginger- garlic paste: 2 tsps
Salt: 1/2 tsp

To seal:
Plain Flour: 2 tbsps
Oil to fry: 2-3 tsps

To make gravy:
Ghee/ any oil : 2 tsp
Cardamom: 3 pods crushed
Cloves: 4 nos.
Cinnamon: 2 inch stick
Onions: 1.5 medium sized finely chopped
Tomato chopped : 1/2 can or  2 medium sized
*Bunt Mangalore Chilli powder: 1 - 2 tsps or as per your spice levels, alternatively use any "Meat masala powder" available in most Asian Stores.
Lemon juice to taste
Salt to taste

1. Trim all visible fat and the top papery covering called the fell using a sharp knife. Make deep gashes in the leg and rub the leg with the marinade. Leave for 2 hours.
2. Lighly dust the marinaded lamb leg with flour and gently brown all sides of the meat in a large pan or roasting tin with a little oil. Once browned keep the leg aside.
3. In a large enough pressure cooker (check whether leg fits in it before you start cooking) heat ghee/ oil , fry cinnamon, cloves and cardamom for a few seconds till aromatic. Add the chopped onion and brown lightly. Add the bunt chilli powder/ meat masala powder, take the pan off the heat and allow the spices to fry in the cooker for a few seconds ( do not allow the spices to burn). Add the canned tomato/ chopped tomato and salt and fry the mixture for a few minutes till tomatoes begin to soften. Add more oil if required to fry the mixture well.
4. Add the sealed lamb leg to the pressure cooker and add around a cup and half of water. Stir to mix. Then close cooker. Allow to the leg to cook on a medium high heat for 15-20 minutes ( 4-5 whistles). Then turn the heat down to minimum/ simmer and cook the leg for a further 25 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the pressure to drop.
Open cooker check for doness, meat should fall of bone. taste for salt, add lemon juice if required. Sprinkle over chopped coriander leaves if desired.
Serve with steamed rice, a fresh salad and a good serving of greek yoghurt. 

See note below if using an oven.

1. A whole lamb leg consists of two separate cuts -- the upper sirloin and lower shank - usually with two large bones. The lower shank/ lower portion of the leg tends to be sligthly tougher when compared to the upper sirloin. When cooking with the shank the optional use of a tenderiser and cooking in a pressure cooker/ slow cooker helps to tenderise meat. 
The upper sirloin portion of the leg tends to be naturally tender hence can be slow roasted in a gravy in an oven to give you the same result. If using a whole leg follow steps 1, 2 ,3 then  place the onion tomato spice mixture in a roasting tin, add enough water, stir, place the leg of lamb into the spice mixture. Cover with foil and cook in a preheated 325F oven until tender, about 3-5 hours for a whole leg or 2-3 hours for half a leg. Or check in between using a fork. The meat should fall off the bone.
2. An alternative to raw papaya paste is Kachri/tenderiser powder available at most Asian stores.
3. The Mangalore Bunt Chilli Powder is available in most Mangalore Stores in India. Alternatively you could make your own fresh and fragnant spice blend at home.(recipe coming soon)

Enjoyed this lamb recipe: Try out these too
Spicy Green Masala Griddled Lamb Chops
Mangalorean Lamb Chops Green Curry with Fenugreek Leaves
Enjoy the weather wherever you are for here it is Snowing, Cold and Miserable :(( 
Where has the Spring Gone??
Yours in Taste,
Carol Pereira