Kerala Fruit Cake

Kerala Fruit Cake I Boxofspice

This post is about a cake that is Indian. Now I am Indian and we have a staggering variety of food but we don’t really makes cakes. I mean we have a ton of Indian sweets but no real cakes. So I was surprised when I heard about this cake. Now it is meant to be made around Christmas and therefore I’m guessing (because I tried to find where its origins may lie), its an import from Europe. This is a cake you need to prepare for, at least a month ahead. Why you ask? Because it has dry fruits and nuts in it that need soaking in rum a month in advance. Did your eyes light up like mine did when you read that?! Now I am not much of a drinker. In fact I can get drunk on a glass of wine.. oh yes I’m a cheap date! I eat really little too! hehe. So, I was saying, I’m not much of a drinker but when you talk about liquor in desserts you’ll have me running to get a bite. :)

I like how you have to prepare in advance for this cake. I love love love the whole preparation part of cooking or baking. This is a rich cake and I read some people start on it in November and then once the cake is made, make holes in it and every few days till Christmas arrives, soak it with the rum again! How wonderful is that? Now I haven’t done that with this cake because, ehm… I was likely to get drunk on a slice! But I did soak the fruit and nuts for a month. Gave it a shake every now and then and couldn’t wait to get the rum drunk fruit in the cake. :)

The name of the cake comes from the South Indian state of the same name. Kerala is supposed to be beautiful and its back waters are famous. It’s been a long time desire to go there one day and I hope it happens but for now I find satisfaction in making something from there.

I don’t fully agree obviously that this cake is only good at Christmas time. I think it made a perfect Valentine gift. It sure is advantageous to get some liquor in your honey’s tummy! ;)

Kerala Fruit Cake I Boxofspice

Kerala Fruit Cake I Boxofspice

Kerala Fruit Cake I Boxofspice

Kerala Fruit Cake I Boxofspice

Kerala Fruit Cake I Boxofspice

Kerala Fruit Cake I Boxofspice

Kerala Fruit Cake I Boxofspice

for soaking
1/4 cup pistachio
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup dried strawberries
1/2 cup mixed golden and black raisins + prunes
6 dates
6 apricots
1 1/2 cups dark rum

to prepare
Chop all fruit and nuts roughly and put in a jar. Pour the rum over the fruit. Make sure they are all drenched with the liquor. Cover jar and leave in a cool dark spot for a month.

for the caramel sauce
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup hot water

to prepare
In a non stick deep pan, melt the sugar on medium fire. Do not be daunted by the task of making caramel, it really is very simple. You need to stir the sugar every now and then. It will first form clumps and then start to melt. At this point do not leave it for a second and stir continuously. Once there are no lumps, add the hot water. Be careful as the sugar will sputter because of how hot it is. The sugar may become lumpy but continue to stir, lower the heat to low and let it melt in the water. Once its a smooth mix, turn of the heat and set aside to cool.

for the cake
2 1/2 cups flour
240 grams soft butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp clove powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, separated
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot water

to prepare
Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

Sieve the dry ingredients, the flour, baking powder and soda, spices and salt twice and set aside.

Beat the butter with the sugar till light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks only one by one. Add the vanilla extract and the cooled caramel sauce and mix till it is smooth creamy mixture.

Add the 1/4 cup hot water to the pan in which you made the caramel sauce. Let any left over caramel dissolve into the water and then pour this mixture into the butter-egg mixture. Mix again. Slowly add the dry ingredients and blend in.

Drain the rum soaked fruits and nuts. Don’t throw away the rum left over.

Fold in the fruits and nuts into the batter.

In a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites till soft peaks form. Fold in the egg whites gently.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins or bundt form and bake in the oven for 50 – 55 minutes or till a wooden skewer comes out clean.

Let cool completely before pouring the leftover rum on the cake.

Ferrero Rocher Cake

ferrero rocher cake I boxofspice

My last post was anything chocolate, which I associate with Valentine’s day. Since I’ve never really celebrated this day, I guess my knowledge is coming from television and advertisements which are inundated with the red hearts, and pictures of shiny beautiful couples who seem madly in love. Ugh…

I have promised myself a cliched Valentine. I just am going to do it! I started with the Apple Crumble which I know my guy loves. Easy! But what is a day like this (as I am reminded everywhere I go) without the chocolate. And as I know he may not appreciate it too much, ehm… this one is for me. I was never much of a chocolate lover but these days I can’t get enough of it. I allow myself one piece of chocolate every day. It’s good for health of course… :)

This cake follows my love affair with hazelnuts. I think its the most gorgeous combination. And, in my present state of mind (feeling naughty?) I can’t get enough of it.

And what an easy cake this is. And it looks magnificent doesn’t it? It literally is slapping stuff together. You can make this. And girl, eat it for you. Don’t wait for your guy to buy  you chocolates, make this cake! Put the chocolate in your mouth, pour the chocolate on the cake or… (hehe)

Let’s get started. <3 <3 <3

ferrero rocher cake I boxofspice

ferrero rocher cake I boxofspice

ferrero rocher cake I boxofspice

ferrero rocher cake I boxofspice

ferrero rocher cake I boxofspice

ferrero rocher cake I boxofspice

ferrero rocher cake I boxofspice

for cake
100 grams hazelnut flour
120 grams cake flour
210 grams brown sugar
3 tbsps cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
90 ml coconut oil
1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee
2 tsps vanilla

to prepare
Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F.

Grease and flour a baking pan.

Grind the hazelnuts till very fine. (Tip: to prevent the oil from separating, add 2-3 tablespoons of the sugar from the recipe to grind along with the nuts).

Mix all the dry ingredients except the sugar. Whisk the sugar with the eggs till light and fluffy.

Now add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and make for 35-40 minutes or till your tester comes out clean. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking. Let cool completely.

for cream in between the cake
200 grams soft butter
200 grams dark chocolate
200 grams milk chocolate with hazelnuts
100 grams hazelnut wafers, broken roughly ( you can also use vanilla wafers)

to prepare
In a double boiler melt the chocolates. Bring to room temperature once melted. Add the butter and whisk till everything comes together. Add the broken wafers and fold in.

for ganache
200 grams dark chocolate
100 grams milk chocolate
50 grams butter
100 ml creamferrero rocher chocolates to decorate

to prepare
Melt the chocolates and the butter in a double boiler. Mix in the cream.

to put the cake together
Once the cake is completely cooled down, slice it in half with a sharp knife. Don’t fret if its not neat, you wont see anything of it once we pour the chocolate on top!

Spoon the cream for the layer on top of one of the layers of cake. Spread evenly and place second layer of cake on top. Press down gently and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Take out the cake after 30 minutes and pour the ganache on top.

Place the Ferrero Rocher chocolates on top as you like and however many you like.

Slice and place in mouth!!!

 

 

Apple Crumble with Pecans

Apple Crumble with Pecans

 

Apple Crumble with Pecans

 

SO Valentine’s Day is coming up. Oh yay! to all the forced pressure. I think I’ve ranted enough about how much I hate this stupid day. Don’t get me wrong I love getting gifts from the love of my life, but not if he is tied down and I’m holding a gun to his head. What fun is that?

Checking the hard disks of my brain to sift through all the trivia collected over years and years to see if I ever had a Valentines… nope I’m coming up with nothing. What does it mean? Does it mean I”m so sad that no one has ever done anything for me? Or does it mean I have terrorised each and every man that came along to never dare to do that? Or does it really really mean I’m not pretty enough? Hmm… since I clearly don’t consider myself sad, not much of a frightening person either (ok maybe a tad) or not pretty enough ( I do love myself.. hehe) I guess I have somehow managed to dodge this wonderfully red day!

Maybe for this reason alone I must experience it. Right? I do feel a bit naughty for trying something that I clearly am not a fan of and I am rubbing my hands in glee while I put on all the red stuff I have!!! Since my man is also not into the V day, I must lure him into my sweet sweet trap! Buhahahahahaha!

I’m going to pamper him… said with pouty lips! So here we go with some sweet treats and some not this month. Some will surprise him and some will be his faves. <3

I decided to start with a treat he will surely love. Slam dunk!

Apple Crumble with Pecans

What an amazing crumble this is! Buttery apple-y deliciousness. And, it is soooo easy to make.

Apple Crumble with Pecans

Apple Crumble with Pecans

Apple Crumble with Pecans

adapted from aller hande

4 apples (any kind will do. peeled cored and sliced)
300 grams all purpose flour
220 grams light brown sugar
300 grams butter (cold)
1 tbsp pumpkin spice
100 grams pecans (roughly chopped)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp salt

to prepare
Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F.

Mix 100 grams sugar and 100 grams flour in a bowl. Cube 100 grams of the cold butter and with the pumpkin spice and salt, mix in with the flour and sugar. Knead with your fingers till you get a crumbly mix. Mix in the chopped pecans. Cover and put aside in the refrigerator. (This is the crumble part of the apple crumble)

Whisk the rest of the sugar and the eggs till you get a light and fluffy mix. In the meantime, melt the rest of the butter in a pan. Let it cool first and then mix it into the egg mixture. Sieve the rest of the flour on top of this mix and fold in with the vanilla essence.

Line a rectangular or square baking dish with baking paper and pour in the batter. Place the sliced apples on top of the batter covering it completely.

Now scatter the crumble mix on top of the apples. Again it should cover the whole area. You should not be able to see the apples.

Bake in the middle of the oven for around 50-55 minutes or till the top is nicely golden brown.

Serve warm or when cool. Either way is delicious!

 

Kadhi / Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

Kadhi I Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

I visited an Indian friend this past weekend in a city south of me. We don’t know each other a long time but it is always so much fun with her. She is mad, crazy like me! It is so relaxing to be around people that you don’t have to watch your words with. We were supposed to meet somewhere between where I live and she does but the bitter cold got to my friends lazy Indian bones and she decided to lure me to her house (considering that I have the laziest Indian bones too!) with a home cooked Indian meal.

She didn’t have to say much more. I would go to the ends of the world if I could get a home cooked, delicious Indian meal! And she does cook well. I know this from a previous time, so I had tasted the goods before!

She served me something that mom used to make a lot when I was growing up. And I used to hate it! But with my new found love for food, I did not go all sulky at the thought of eating something that clearly I had bad memories about. That in itself is a thing to be proud of if you are me.

Kadhi I Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

The dish in question is called kadhi and it is a dish that is specific to a state in India called Gujarat. Of course like most dishes in India, you go to a different part of the country and it is made entirely differently. That is the most wonderful thing about India. How varied it is. Kadhi is made from sour yoghurt or buttermilk and chickpea flour. It is infused with a ton of spices and usually will contain dumplings which are generally made just with chickpea flour (or at least that’s how mom made them). It really is a delicacy in India.

And the way Shalini, my friend made it was delicious!

Kadhi I Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

Mom’s recipe had to be revisited, since I love her cooking, and for any future I-want-to-put-this-on-my-blog occasion, I called her and got her version. I couldn’t imagine that if I had her kadhi now, that I would still hate it. And then I wrote it down and left it for another time, only to hear that while Obama visited India, he was served kadhi!!! When the universe gives you a sign to do something, you do it!

I have changed up mom’s recipe a little bit and mine is very different from Shalini’s, but it is delicious. And if you like chickpeas or anything related to chickpeas AND spicy curry, this is your recipe.

Kadhi I Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

Kadhi I Buttermilk and Chickpea Flour Curry with Red Onion and Kale Dumplings

for the curry
3 cups buttermilk
4 tbsps chickpea flour (besan in hindi)
3 cups water
1/4 tsp asofetida
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili powder
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil

for the first tempering
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp oil

for the second tempering
1 tsp cumin seeds
15-20 dried curry leaves (if they are fresh 4-5 will be ok)
4-5 whole dried red chilies
1 tsp oil

for the dumplings
1 cup chickpea flour
2 cups kale, washed and chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 green chilies, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chili powder
pinch of black nigella seeds
pinch of ajwain seeds
pinch of baking soda
1 tsp salt
oil for deep frying

to prepare
In a mixing bowl whisk the buttermilk and chickpea flour till completely smooth. Make sure there are no lumps. You can sieve the mixture if you cant get rid of some of the tiny lumps. mix in the turmeric and the red chili powder and salt. Keep aside.

In a pan (I did it in a dutch oven), heat the oil and add the asafoetida. Let it heat up for around a minute and then add the buttermilk chickpea flour mix and on high heat bring to a boil while stirring continuously stirring. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.

While you let the curry simmer, you can prepare the dumplings. In a wok heat enough oil to deep fry the dumplings. The oil needs to get very hot. While the oil heats up, in a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients and pour enough water for it to come together. The mixture should not be runny. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop some of the dumpling mix into the oil. If it sizzles and rises, the oil is ready.
Pour, with the help of a spoon, small amounts of the mix into the hot oil. Fry each lot for a few minutes or till the dumplings take on a nice dark brown coloring. We need it to be cooked through and through. Once done, place on a plate lined with some kitchen towels to soak up any excess oil.

In a separate small pan, heat the oil for the first tempering and add the fenugreek seeds once the oil is a bit hot. As soon as the seeds start turning color, take off heat and pour into the curry mix. Let the curry cook for another 10 minutes.

For the second tempering, heat the oil and thrown in all the other ingredients. As soon as the cumin seeds begin to sputter, take off heat and pour into curry mix. Cook the curry again for 10 minutes and then add the dumplings.

Adjust the salt as needed and serve with hot basmati rice or naan.

 

Spaghetti with Beetroot and Baked Ricotta and Pears

Spaghetti with beetroot and roasted ricotta and pears

Today I learned about an ancient Egyptian mythological deity called Bennu. He is bird like, self created and is linked to the the sun, creation itself and rebirth. He is probably the inspiration for the phoenix I read and is also the name chosen for the asteroid that ranks as the second greatest threat to Earth.

Now that is what I’ve always expected asteroids to do. They are the carriers of destruction. At least till earlier today. Now, of course if any one of these bodies hits us, they will cause massive destruction and may even wipe us out but they are so fascinating too! I never knew that they are the remnants left behind after the creation of our planets. That they hold the very materials of our creation. Some contain massive amounts of water and could serve as service stations in the future for our space crafts! Now I could talk about this stuff all day. I don’t tire of watching shows on the mind bending concept of our universe and what a speck I am and how small my worries really are. It is enough to love big, very big and enjoy every second of our amazing moment in the time and history of our world.

Now this recipe is simple but IT IS out of this world. Clean, simple, beautiful and super healthy.

Spaghetti with beetroot and roasted ricotta and pears

I just love beetroot and how it just bleeds its color onto everything. Your pasta will turn red in less than a minute. I mean how cool is it to eat red pasta?! The beetroot is cut small enough to look like red pearls floating in a sea of red weed. The creamy salty baked goodness of the ricotta and the sweet sweetness of the pears. This is a dish that is so fresh, you will want more and more.

Spaghetti with beetroot and baked ricotta and pears

Spaghetti with beetroot and baked ricotta and pearsSpaghetti with beetroot and baked ricotta and pears

 

2 servings (adapted from aller hande)

150 grams spaghetti
200 grams ricotta
2 medium size beets, around 250 grams (cooked and peeled)
2 pears
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp rosemary + some to sprinkle on the prepared dish
200 grams baby spinach
4 tbsps olive oil
handful of walnuts
salt and pepper to taste
splash of balsamic vinegar

to prepare
Preheat oven to 220°C/430°F.

Slice each pear into 6 parts, Remove the core. Place the ricotta on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Surround the ricotta with the pears. This way the ricotta will keep its shape. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the ricotta and the pears with the rosemary and coarse salt and pepper. Bake in oven for 30 minutes till golden brown.

In the meantime, cook the spaghetti as per instructions on the package.

Cut the cooked beetroot in small squares. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a pan and drop the sliced garlic. Fry for about 3-4 minutes and then add the beetroot. Fry for another 10 minutes.

Add the cooked spaghetti (making sure you let all water drain out) and mix well with the beetroot. See your pasta turn a beautiful red! Mix in the baby spinach.

Serve with a quarter slice of the ricotta and a few slices of the pears. Sprinkle some more rosemary and salt and pepper and a splash of the balsamic vinegar. A glass of wine and you’re all set!

 

 

 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Sesame Seeds and Goji Berries

brussel sprouts with sesame seeds and goji berries

I go through periods when I can eat the same food, months on end. I grew up on an Indian diet and I loved it. Indian food is one of the most varied food on the planet I think. But, even if it wasn’t, I could not get enough of it. And when the cook is mom, then well, what’s to complain.

And then I went to America! By myself for the first time, all alone, never cooked in my life, I discovered pasta. And I’m not kidding, but I ate pasta for an entire year! No jokes. I loved it that much. I think I have an addictive personality, only the funny thing is that it doesn’t extend to the smoking drinking area but only with certain kinds of food. Who knows what that is all about!

These days the food hero in my life is the brussel sprout. I had never seen it before I came to Holland (maybe because I was only in the pasta section in the US!) and like the un-adventurous person in food I am/was/continue to be, my first reaction was to turn up my nose to it. I mean its green for Gods sake. Everything green, growing up was evil!  Since then, however, I have fallen in love with it and you will see me using it more and more. I mean I used it in a smoothie!

It is a super food in its own right and I added another super food to it to make it super super healthy. You can eat it as a side dish but it is quite filling by itself. Make a large batch and save for lunches or eat it in one go, whatever you please.

My taste palette runs towards the bitter and I love my food a little charred. So I decided to roast/grill my brussel sprouts, threw in a very Indian spice (sesame seeds), a few glugs of olive oil and a sprinkling of goji berries and I was good to go.

brussel sprouts with sesame seeds and goji berries

brussel sprouts with sesame seeds and goji berries

250 grams brussel sprouts
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup goji berries
4-5 tbsps olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

to prepare
Wash and half the brussel sprouts. Dry roast the sesame seeds in a non stick pan on medium high heat, for about 3-4 minutes. When you see them brown slightly, immediately remove and put in a bowl.

In a pan, heat one tablespoon of olive and fry the onions, till golden brown and nicely caramelized. This will take some 5-7 minutes on high heat. Keep a close eye or they could get burnt. Set aside.

In the same pan add some more of the remaining olive oil and roast the brussel sprouts face down and then flip. Each side should take about 3-4 minutes on high heat.

Once all the brussel sprouts are done, add the onions back in. Add the toasted sesame seeds and add the goji berries last. Toss and stir for a minute and its done!

Season with salt and pepper.

 

Cinnamon Cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

It was only yesterday that we were all scared of the year 2000 arriving and frying our computers. And now suddenly, it’s 2015. I can honestly say that I don’t feel a year older!

An astrologer once told me that I would never grow old. I didn’t quite understand it back then when I was a 20 something but I do now. I think he was right. I will never grow old on the inside. And I love that.  This year I intend to embrace that.

I often get called a pain in the ass by the people that are close to me, maybe because I still have that childlike passion for things. I’m always on full steam. I think its such a shame that we lose our ability to do things with passion as we grow old. The downside to being like me is being called childish and juvenile but that’s ok! 2015, I intend to love more. Give more. Be myself more.

And that’s where cupcakes come in. Cupcakes is what you serve at a mad hatter’s party when Alice drops by. Cupcakes are what is served at any pixie party going on in your backyard. Cupcakes are so powerful because if they’re good they can alter your day. Cupcakes are never grown up. And I love that!

Now I don’t want to beat my own trumpet, or why the heck not, but these are quite delicious. Enough to make you want to eat at least 5 in one sitting! And my baby girl did! They are light, fluffy, have a secret extra layer of that incredible cinnamon-y goodness…

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

cinammon cupcakes

makes 12-14 cupcakes. adapted from here.

1 2/3 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 egg white
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk

for the extra cinnamon layer within!
1 tbsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar

for the cinnamon sugar frosting
1 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/4 tsps cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsps milk

to prepare
Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F.

Mix the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder in a small bowl for the layer inside the cupcake.

Whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites till stiff peaks form. While still whisking add the vanilla extract slowly, then the sour cream, the butter, a little at a time and finally the milk. Whisk till smooth.

Add the egg white mix to the flour mix and mix till you get a smooth batter.

Place one tablespoon of the batter into each of your cupcake liner, then sprinkle the cinnamon, cocoa sugar covering the whole surface. Then add another tablespoon of the batter. Sprinkle a teeny bit of the cinnamon cocoa sugar on top. (My cupcake liners were pretty small, if yours are a little bigger you can add another layer.)

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

to prepare the frosting
Whisk the butter till smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Mix in the cinnamon, vanilla extract and milk.

Pour into a piping bag and decorate as you desire. Sprinkle with a little extra cinnamon or cocoa powder.