Friday, May 5, 2017

AtoZReflections #AtoZChallenge

I survived. yes, this was my fourth year and I survived!
Oh, I was very close to giving up on a few occasions. I was doing two blogs simultaneously (see this site)  and sometimes thought I had certainly bitten off more than I could chew.
This year I also hadn't had the chance to schedule any posts so everything went harum scarum once in a while!
Yet, it all fell in place. Ultimately.
And I met some new people and faces and found other blogs to follow and interesting words to read.

While I was hammering away at the PC in April this year, a few times the thought crossed my mind that I will not be doing the challenge again!

But, you know what, I've go a pretty interesting theme rattling in my head.
Who knows?
Maybe we'll meet again next April.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Z: Zucchini Spice cake #AtoZChallenge

Ah, Z already. I think I have put on a few calories with all the desserts I have been talking about simply by thinking of them! Z was a bit of a problem... till google threw up the Zucchini Spice Cake at me.
You see, when we were young, I had never heard of a zucchini, much less seen or eaten one. Now with all the fancy vegetables coming in and all the fancy restaurants serving exotic vegetables,  our culinary experiments have become more adventurous and we are more likely to try something new. 
I actually love my vegetables. Not all of them and not all at once but I do. I like some vegetables on the side and fresh salads. Zucchini is pretty interesting in stir fries and salads and even more interesting as a side dish baked with tomatoes. But the husband and the girls don't eat their vegetables so happily... 
So why not try the cake and sneak in some? 
So here is the recipe, thanks to Martha Stewart. 
I'm going to bookmark this for future use. Will you? 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Y: Yogurt AKA Mishti Doi #AtoZChallenge

No post on desserts is complete without yogurts. Fruity, flavourful yogurts. Raspberry and mango and what not. But the best yogurt is (ask anyone who has had it) the Mishti doi!!! 
Mishti (sweet) doi (yogurt) is the traditional Bengali yoghurt that has been sweetened with 'gur' or mollasses/black treacle. So it is not sweet as sugary sweet but has the flavour of gur. Hence, it is a beige colour (although I must admit my favourite one is white and comes from a shop called Mithai in Calcutta) and can also be made at home if you are adventurous enough. Nowadays they also make it in mango flavour in the mango season but I think I will stick to the traditional one. 
Mishti doi comes with a thick natural layer of fat on the top. That is the cream as it solidifies. Many Bengalis like the "matha" (head) as we call it and many don not. Me? I can have a whole bowl of just the head! 
And after teasing your palate with a full-on meal of shukto, bhaja, daal, fish fry, bhaat, maach, chingri, mangsho and chutney, mishti doi is definitely the perfect ending to any Bengali meal!

Friday, April 28, 2017

X: Xtras #AtoZChallenge

Let' face it. There are no desserts with X. Unless I go Chinese (they have a lot of food beginning with X, yes, almonds, watermelon and what-not) and copy paste from the internet. But that is not not this blog is about and I am not giving up on the challenge at this stage.
So... X is for the (e)xtras. The ladoos, the gulab-jamuns, the rabri, the jalebis, sohan halwa and all those other yummylicious Indian desserts that I have missed on this journey of desserts from A to Z.

I love laddos, Specially the Motichur ones. I can pop one after the other and not think twice about the fact that I am not a sweet person. Same goes for fresh, hot jalebis. Okay gulab-jamuns are never my dessert of choice but I will occasionally indulge. And anyone reading this and living in Delhi, know that the next time you visit, get me some sohan halwa. Yes, I will be your slave forever: never mind the diet or the ghee or whatever!

For anyone thinking I'm talking in Greek or Latin, try to google up some of these delicious Indian sweets. Or better still, visit India, if only to sample its desserts! India is huge and made up of people whose cultures and cuisines are at once different and diverse. Each region has it's own specialty, from the rava kesari of the south to the til patti of the East to the Chakhao kheer of the North East to the rewri of the North to the Balushahi of the West... we have something for every sweet tooth, whether its dairy or vegan or whatever! And you will find shops selling cupcakes and Black Forest Gateau alongside shops selling simai and phirni next to shops selling  sandesh and rasgolla and pedas. THIS is what I love about my country, the richness, the diversity, the co-existence of several cultures and creeds.

Unfortunately, recent political and social trends have tried to break this thread. Increasingly, as in the rest of the world, there is a tendency to try to make our worlds smaller. To incite people in the names of caste, of race, of religion. It makes me sad and I know this may not be the place to say it but that is not the India I grew up in. That is not the India I love or call my own.

Let us hope that good sense prevails... Till then, keep calm and feast on!  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

W: Watermelon Sorbet #AtoZChallenge

During my college days I 'discovered' watermelon juice. There were these juice bars all over the city and watermelon juice was an all time favourite. On a hot summer evening  in the dry heat of Pune, a watermelon juice was good for the soul. WE had this favourite juice bar area in Camp, where we had our pick of tiny  juice vendors. We would park our bikes after sundown and spend hours sipping on the sweet cold liquid. 
At home, as a child and later, watermelons were seeded and eaten as a fruit. My grandmother used to sprinkle a bit of sugar on the top and freeze it. That was how I enjoyed the fruit, or so I thought. 
But the fact is, that the secret is all in the sugar. That is what I discovered when I developed my love for fruit sorbets. And watermelon makes a brilliant sorbet. 
Try it. Read about it here 

P.S. if you do not have a ice-cream maker, (I don't) just use a good mixer/grinder and repeat it a few times. :)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

V: Vanilla Icecream #AtoZChallenge

As far as I am concerned, vanilla ice-cream is about the best thing ever. Just add a bit to any dessert and instantly your sweet-something has reached a new level.
Just the other day while I was at work some of my daughter's friends came over and brightly decided to while away the time by baking some cup-cakes. I must laud their efforts because the cup cakes were texture perfect with the right amount of springiness. However, they had lessened the sugar quantity given in the recipe and the cupcake was not really sweet. So what do you do?Simple. Add some Vanilla Ice-cream and some chocolate sauce or caramel viola.... you have a dessert fit for a king!
Likewise, I can add vanilla ice-cream to almost anything, even hot gulab jamuns and jalebis. Vanilla ice-cream is a fantastic addition in milkshakes and cold coffees, specially when the girls have been fussing over their milk. Serve vanilla ice-cream with fruits... mangoes and litchis... you have an awesome dessert. unexpected guests at the dining table? Serve some vanilla ice-cream with a splash of chocolate sauce or strawberry crush.Add nuts, cornflakes, ever muesli to give it that extra crunch! Or just a bit of Drambuie or Kahlua ... yummy.
Is it any wonder then, that come summer, we usually almost always have vanilla ice-cream at home!?