Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vanilla Extract

Some years ago we went vacationing to Hampi. Its one of those long lost cities, where ancient kingdoms(Vijayanagar Empire) flourished. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and is truly stupefying.

And after our grand tour of the lost city, we settled to eat lunch at this quaint place called the Mango Tree Restaurant. Yes, you have to see it to believe it.

While walking through a dense banana plantation one begins to doubt if there really is a place to find a hot meal or was that an urban legend. Once the thicket clears up you see a mundane entrance to a place that doesn't look too appealing. Appearances believe me, are very deceiving.
Gobbling up a handsome meal while lounging on stone benches perched on the cliff of a small hillock overlooking the Tungabhadra river. A place to relax and see the world go by. Swing away into the river like a 4 year old. Spend sleepy afternoons reading books under the canopy of the mango tree. Watch people enjoy coracle rides in the river. Breathe in the fresh air and clear all the city smoke filled lungs. It is a hidden gem. An experience you cannot miss. Magnificent is an understatement.
It was here I bought a packet of a couple of vanilla beans grown locally.

Now that the story of the source is over, lets get onto the extract.

Vodka - 150ml, 70 proof , vanilla flavored is a plus
Vanilla beans - 2 pods

Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Scrape the beans. Also chop the remaining beans into small pieces. Add this to 150ml of Vodka (we got a 180ml Vodka bottle, and ended up using 30ml for macerated strawberries with vanilla ice cream!). Shake well and leave in a cool and dark place for 2 months.

We have a beautiful homemade vanilla extract that we use in all our baking! I plan to follow the same procedure to make lime and orange extract soon. Stay tuned for those updates!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Homemade Swiss Style Muesli

Finally got on to making my own muesli at home. I love muesli, its truly my go to breakfast.

Here is the recipe that makes about 400 gms or so of muesli -

Oatmeal - 3 cups
Flaked or chopped almonds - 30 odd almonds
Coarse dried fruit mix - 1 cup
Honey - 1/2 cup
Raisins - 30 odd

For the coarse dried fruit mix, coarsely chop/grind pistachios(20 odd), cashew(20 odd), cardamom (10 pods), peppercorns(5-6 or omit altogether).
Mix all of the above mentioned ingredients except raisins in a bowl.
Spread it out on a baking tray.
Preheat oven at 180C for 10 mins, bake the oatmeal mix for 20-25 mins at 180C(fan aided). In the middle toss it about a bit in the oven to ensure even roasting. Keep checking that it is not burning towards the end.
After baking, let it cool. Add raisins.

There are so many other optional items that can be added to this mix - flaxseed, sunflower/pumpkin seeds, dates, dried apricots or figs. Let your imagination set the limits.

It tastes divine with cold milk or cold yoghurt with added fresh fruit. There is no added sugar. Its a power packed snack. Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chocolate Lava Cake

Image courtesy -

Since we had rice for lunch, I was very sure that Ajay would be hungry when he gets back from college. I wanted to make something nice to surprise him. Settled on making a chocolate lava cake.

But what if I put in all the effort and it turns out like a lump of coal or a puddle of cake mush! Had to try it anyway.

It turned out beautifully perfect with molten chocolate oozing out of the center!

Here is the recipe, it was pretty simple and hardly took any time to whip up.

Dark Chocolate - 150gms
Cream - 1/2 cup
Egg - 1
Sugar - 1/3 cup
Flour - 1/3 cup

Makes about 4 full sized muffin cakes.

1. Preheat oven at 180C for 10 mins.
2. Melt the chocolate with cream in a double boiler. Once melted, keep aside for cooling a bit.
3. Whisk the egg with sugar until pale and frothy. I did this by hand, took about 5 mins.
4. Mix the melted chocolate mixture into the liquids.
5. Add the flour and gently fold it into the batter.
6. Pour in greased and floured moulds. I used muffin moulds.
7. Bake at 180C for exact 15 mins.

Took about 30 mins to make the whole thing.

My 10 month old loved it! Here is Adrika enjoying her cake :)