Mango Black Bean Quesadillas

mango quesadillas

Kabir is the first born of my lone sister and therefore my nephew. I have always claimed to not like kids but am pleased to admit I get along only with them. Its so cliched I know, to talk of a child’s innocence and their blind love to anyone that shows them some. Children are clear like water aren’t they? Grownups are not. It’s no surprise then how famously I have always gotten along with Kabir. (He may strongly object to this, but then again he is a teenager, he is supposed to counter everything you say, right?!)

I can remember as clear as day when he was born. He came into this world not without problems. He was just in so much of a hurry to be here. And when I saw him he looked no more than a human tadpole. So fragile, very premature and so alien to me. Yet he crept into my heart and never left. He is much like me, soft on the inside with a nice tough I-don’t-care, hard exterior.

Growing up he followed me around chanting my name much to the chagrin of his father! I liked that!

Like me Kabir is very different. He is intelligent and so different. Maybe that is why he endears himself to me. Not different for the sake of it but because he just is. There is a vital difference between him and me though. He is ridiculously focused, something I could never achieve. He works very hard, is super intelligent and never takes himself seriously. He is as eccentric as they come and is wonderfully comfortable with it. I used to not be. Its a powerful thing, being comfortable with yourself.

And the best thing about him? He laughs at himself freely. You will never catch him frowning if you make fun of him. He will laugh along with you. He is my nephew, and yes I am biased, but seriously Kabir if I had met you somewhere else, I’d try hard to be your friend. And congratulations on getting into Berkeley dude. We will all miss your incredible silliness but oh we are all so beaming with pride too!

Now I am told, as Kabir set foot in America for the first time, he fell in love with Mexican food. So this one is for you dear Kabir. I know you would’ve enjoyed these. Spicy quesedillas filled with one of your favorite fruit, the Indian mango, to remind you a little bit of home…

mango quesadilla

mango quesadilla

makes 1 quesadilla
2 tortillas
1/2 mango (I used an Indian one but you could use any sort as long as they are ripe. Cut into cubes)
2 jalapeno peppers (or as your taste buds allow, I like it spicy!)
1 tsp spicy paprika powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 green bell pepper (sliced thin)
1-2 shallots (sliced)
2-3 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup black beans (drained)
juice of 1/2 a lime
50 grams grated cheese of choice
oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste
dollop of sour cream
some cilantro to garnish
avocado slices

to prepare
Heat some oil in a pan and fry the shallots, pepper, jalapenos, dry spices. Fry till the shallots are somewhat translucent. Add the black beans and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Toss the mango cubes with some lime juice and salt.

Prepare the tortillas by laying one down in a flat skillet. Cover the tortillas with half the grated cheese. Top with the prepared black bean mix. Top with mango and finally sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Cover with the second tortilla and press down. Dry roast on high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Flip and repeat. The tortilla should be nice and brown.

Cut with a pizza slicer into quarters. Place a dollop of sour cream on each quarter, place some cilantro and place in mouth! Eat the avocado along with…

I apologise for the pictures in advance. I made these in a hurry as I gathered all my things to come be in India with mom that continues to struggle.

 

 

Spicy Raita with Cucumber

Choose the positive. You have a choice, you are the master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.Bruce Lee

Spicy Raita

I’ve been gone for a few weeks. Mentally. To be very honest, I am sick of world news. I am sick of not being able to say anything without offending someone, sick of how un-private my life is because of social media but most of all I am sick of people not taking responsibility for their part in a conflict.

And, this is where it gets really hard when it comes to social media because I love technology and I kind of like the idea of keeping in touch with people but what I don’t like or should I say abhor is that as private as I may make my account, I leave myself open to being watched. I am I must admit fanatically private. But, I take responsibility for putting myself out there. I choose to put up ‘selfies’ (hate that word) and the like. I do that, no one else. But more than the whole social media fiasco that we cannot live without (also a choice), is my intense dislike for people not taking responsibility for their actions. You’re probably wondering how the two things are connected. Maybe they aren’t or… We all somewhat live our lives in the public space. We may not be Brad Pitt or an Angelina Jolie but lets be honest we seem to love leading our lives publicly like them. We love hating Facebook but seem to spend half our lives on it. We are all gurus spreading wisdom and advice to others and rarely look inside to ourselves.

Mom always said, “Its okay to be wrong. Its okay to make mistakes. How can anyone be always right? It’s not possible. But always think about what you do and take onus for your actions.”

That stuck like super glue. Oh I make mistakes. Big ones. Like the one where I decided to plaster my picture on social media. But thanks to some amazing people in my life, AND, what I believe to be personal development (because aren’t we all works in progress?), I think, I at least try and think of my part in any given situation. I am not shy of saying I am wrong and boy I seem to say that a lot these days. For me it is imperative I do, if I am. Its intensely human I keep telling my baby girl to make mistakes. In fact you must, to learn. What is an abomination is the lack of ability to not only not accept our mistakes but to also not learn from them.

‘True friends stab you in the front’, so true Mr. Wilde and I’m glad to inform you that I have true friends.

When I moved to Holland some thousand years ago, I felt like I was ‘the’ target of racism. I was miserable and the situation fed itself so out of control that I found myself wanting to leave. Till a dear friend said something to me that made so much sense. She said, “If someone does that, isn’t it more their problem than yours Rakhee? It’s them you should pity. Shrug it off and you take their power away!” Wow! Isn’t that so true? Yes, racism is not right, and no the victim is not to blame. BUT, I must take responsibility for feeding it. I must. There is a popular saying in hindi, ‘taali do haath se bajti hain, ek se nahi’ (you clap with two hands, not one). Makes sense? It does to me. I can tell you since then I have never felt racism even for a day. I just don’t see or feel it happening. And even if it does, I am oblivious to it. Kind of cool isn’t it? To neutralize someone so effectively? For years I suffered till I accepted my part in the whole situation. There is something to be said about emitting a positive aura, as cheesy as it may sound. When I felt negative I got negative back.

So, the past weeks, hours of self reflection, suffering and vehemently muttered cursed adjectives under my breath about why people are the way they are (me included), why there needs to be stupid wars, why if I can look inside, someone else conveniently chooses not to, I set myself free with that Bruce Lee quote I started with, Choose the positive. You have a choice, you are the master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success. And since I believe I and only I am responsible for my actions and my attitude, I choose (for now) the positive yet again.

Spicy Raita

I made a Raita today. Raita, made of yoghurt in India, is always used to balance the spiciness of the other dishes. It is sincerely meant as that dollop of freshness to cool your mouth. But, I made it spicy because I feel fiery despite my pledge to to be all positive. The white cold freshness of the yoghurt to balance and quell the fire in my belly. The raita, with the cool and the spicy is like the perfect alliance of opposites in constant battle inside my head.

And this dish, it does its job. Can be eaten on its own or with a hot naan (bread) as lunch. Deeply satisfying, its food for your tummy and for your soul.

Spicy Raita

Spicy Raita

Spicy Raita

2 cups yoghurt (plain or greek, I used plain)
1 red chili (sliced)
1 cucumber
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp golden mustard seeds
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste
handful of mint leaves
naan bread (optional)

to prepare
Place the yoghurt in 2 bowls and add the salt to taste and mix well.

Dry roast the cumin seeds about a minute on high heat. Crush and make into a fine powder. Set aside.

Take a cucumber and cut into half. Peel off the skin of one half and grate and mix equally into the 2 bowls of yoghurt. The other half cut into thin slices whichever way you like! I cut them lengthwise.

In a wok of pan heat the oil and add the red chili slices and the mustard seeds. Fry for about 2-3 minutes and immediately add to the yoghurt.

Decorate with the thin cucumber slices and some mint leaves and serve with hot naan bread or eat by itself.

 

 

 

Double Chocolate Banana Coconut Bread

banana chocolate bread

Today I’m going to reveal yet another crazy thing about me.

I don’t like weekends! Did I just hear you fall of your chair?! I kid you not. I dislike weekends. I always have. That part about it that is fun, unstructured, relaxed. Yes, that part. I dislike unstructured. I am deeply bonded to my routines and to being occupied. THAT relaxes me. So, when the weekend comes around and most people are lounging about, I am getting antsy. Now, I don’t have a full time job these days. I am a freelancer so work of my own schedule but it was hard getting to this point of being disciplined all by myself and in the time that it took me to get used to this, I did drive myself crazy. I still do sometimes. It’s hard, this self discipline business.

I like my own structure so much that it is hard for me to like anything else. Therefore the dislike for weekends. I mean I like how I take a shower every morning at the same time, or call a dear friend almost always precisely at the same time too. I like that. Offer this information and i get a stern finger and a lecture is not far away either! That its bad for me to isolate myself. But who’s to say they are right? Mondays are yay! days for me… :)

So yay today in honor of the much disliked Monday. You have one friend right here!

banana chocolate bread

This is an amazingly simple recipe and honestly who doesn’t have over ripe bananas at their house at any given time???

banana chocolate bread

banana chocolate bread

banana chocolate bread

adapted from smitten kitchen

3 medium very ripe bananas + some for decoration
115 grams butter, melted
155 grams brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coconut flakes + 1 tbsp for decoration
1/4 tsp salt
125 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
170 grams dark chocolate ( I used 70%)

to prepare
Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan and sprinkle with flour.

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Place baking soda, salt, cinnamon (if using), flour and cocoa powder in a fine-mesh strainer and sift over wet ingredients.  Stir dry and wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Last stir in the coconut.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate.

Pour the batter into a prepared pan. Pour on top the melted chocolate and swirl into the batter with the back of a spoon. Place sliced banana on top and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut flakes. On top of it at all sprinkle with some cane sugar. Bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve at room temperature. Tastes fantastic with some vanilla ice cream. Oh yum!

The banana bread will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature. But as the talented Smitten Kitchen says, it will definitely not last that long and she is not wrong!

 

4th of July Meringue Cakes

meringue cakes

I am not American but I have this huge connection with it. From the time I can remember I have wanted to go there. I guess we grew up on some American shows but they weren’t all that American that I somehow subliminally and inexplicably got attracted to the country. Yet, I always wanted to go there. The land of opportunities and boundless freedom. I’m Indian and there were always rules on what I could and couldn’t do. My mom raised us fiercely so I grew up fierce too, but even within her you’re-no-different-than-boys sphere, there were rules. I couldn’t understand it back then because if I was no different than a boy why then were there such inequalities. It was confusing. But still I grew up confident with who I was and had that insatiable need to change the world. I was always the one that made people uncomfortable or annoyed with my endless rants of challenging the norm. Yes, I was a pain to be around. I think I am still am! I always, always have my soap box with me. :) All grown up I realise that I cannot change the world all by myself, but I sure as hell can try. You could compare me to a dog with a bone, I will just not let it go… It’s exhausting and I make myself sick often with the why’s but its that need I have to change perceptions for my little girl just as my mom did it for me.

And maybe its the liberties that America affords its citizens that made my heart so attached to it. Having lived there for several years, I know that it isn’t perfect. It doesn’t need to be either, but, it was, and is perfect for me. And, I have never felt free-er than when I was there.

And of course no one celebrates the way the Americans do. It’s always so over the top and fantastic! The fireworks are unlike I have ever seen or ever will. It’s a magical day, this day, the 4th of July and I wish all my readers a fantastic and loved day! <3

meringue cakes

I saw this recipe here and immediately fell in love with it. I have done nothing to change it because it was so perfect as is. And, like a lot of my own recipes it is highly adaptable. The best kind of recipe therefore! You can add any flavor or fruit and instead of whipped cream you could add yoghurt. Just go to town with it. :)

meringue cakes

meringue cakes

meringue cakes

meringue cakes

recipe from here

for the cake
4 eggs separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract (or any other of choice, e.g. almond or lemon)
pinch of salt

to prepare
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.

Grease a large rimmed baking pan, line with baking paper, then grease the paper.

Whisk the egg whites, gradually adding in half the sugar until you get stiff peaks. Around 3-4 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and rest of the sugar until thick and pale.

Add the egg whites with the egg yolks and fold together gently until fully combined. Then sieve the rest of the ingredients and again fold in gently. Do not overwork.

Pour into the lined baking sheet, spread out evenly and bake for 15 minutes.

for the meringue
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
food coloring

to prepare
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites, gradually adding the sugar until you get stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Keep aside.

to prepare cake with meringue
Spread the meringue onto the cooked cake evenly. To add a swirl of color, dip the end of a spoon into the food coloring and swirl into the meringue. Repeat the dipping and swirling until you’re happy with the pattern.

Turn the oven all the way down to 100°C/215°F and bake for an hour until the meringue is dry and crisp on the outside. Leave the cake in the oven to cool off. 3-4 hours or overnight.

Serve when completely cooled. To cut the cake with the meringue, dip knife in cold water.

 to decorate
After you have cut your cake (whatever shape!), top with some whipped cream (store bought is just fine if you don’t want to whip your own!) and fruit of choice. Sprinkle shaved almonds (or nut of choice) and/or coconut flakes.

Have fun making it your own!

TIP: only do the toppings (if at all) once ready to serve otherwise your cake will turn soggy.

 

Vegan Roasted Peach Curd Mini Tarts with Cardamom + Chili

peach curd tarts

The World Cup fever is at its all time pitch with Holland winning yet another match against Mexico. What a dramatic finish it was too. All sorts of controversies and emotions running high. The best kind of match.

This post of mine was going to be a 4th of July sort of post with the same mini tarts but with a different fruit. You guys can still go ahead and make your own red and blue tarts. But then I had these peaches just lying about and I thought now Holland deserves yet another orange post dedicated to it! These are not really orange but more yellow but hey its the same family… so…

So here we are with the most wonderful juicy peaches roasted in the oven and then made curd of. I’d never made any sort of curd before and I can tell you its super easy and super delicious.

AND, these cute wonderful tarts are vegan too! Life really doesn’t get better than this. :)

peach curd tarts

peach curd tarts

peach curd tarts

peach curd tarts

for the curd (yields 1 cup)
1 peach
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp chili powder + some to decorate

to prepare
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.

Wash and pit the peach and cut into half. Lay face down on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 10 minutes. Take out and let cool a little and then peel the skin. Blitz the roasted peach and set aside.

On a double boiler, add the sugar and peach and whisk till the sugar has dissolved. Then add the corn starch to thicken the mixture. Place in refrigerator to chill and thicken further.

(NOTE: if you don’t want a vegan option, you can add 2 egg yolks and 2 tablespoons butter instead of the corn starch)

for the crust
2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
2 tbsps brown sugar
3 1/2 tbsps coconut oil
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp ice water
pinch of salt

to prepare
Preheat oven to 175°C/395°F.

Combine the almond meal, coconut, vanilla, coconut oil and pinch of salt. Add the ice water and mix until it forms a dough.

Place almond dough in tart molds, and shape into form. Poke the bottom and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before placing in the oven.

Bake tarts for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Once they’re ready, remove from oven and let cool.

When they’re cold enough to handle, remove from the mold and get ready to scoop in your curd mix! Scoop the peach curd (might need a little stirring) in the almond crust and refrigerate for a couple hours to set further.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Donuts with a Saffron Glaze

donuts

So this is World Cup year! I am not a soccer fan but when world cup arrives and thanks to all the festive cheer, it is hard not to get caught up with all the excitement. And, since Holland is a big soccer playing nation, it would make me a bit of a drag to not cheer along.

Now I’m no expert but when I think of celebrating, healthy food doesn’t really come to mind. :) I’ve been meaning to make these simple donuts for a long time. Truth be told, I’ve been afraid to make them. Always seemed such a daunting task. I decided to dive, what the heck, right?!

These are simple donuts with a bit of flair with the saffron. I get the color for the Oranje team and I get the wonderful flavor and aroma too. I was surprised how simple they were to make and apart from being labor intense it really was a joy to create. So, if you are afraid like me, don’t be and just do it!

If you don’t feel like doing the glaze you could alternately also just coat your donuts with sugar.

donuts

donuts

donuts

donuts

donuts

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsps lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
2 tbsps caster sugar, plus extra, if you go with the dusting option
50 grams unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
vegetable oil, for deep-frying

glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp saffron, left to dissolve in a tsp of water

to prepare
Place the yeast, water, milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a large bowl and set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface. Add the butter, flour, eggs and another 1 tablespoon sugar to the yeast mixture and mix until a sticky dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. The dough will be very sticky but that’s ok.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean, damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for around 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

To make glaze, mix the sugar and milk and add the saffron to get a rich orange color.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Roll out the dough to a 1 cm thickness and using a round shape to cut out the donuts. I used a glass and a bottle cap for the inner circle. If you have a donut cutter use that. Place rings on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and set aside for 30 minutes or until risen. You can also fry the left over dough you get when you punch a hole in the donut. They make for cute donut balls!

Place oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat until very hot. You can test the heat by throwing in one of the donut balls. Cook the doughnuts, in batches, for 1–2 minutes each side or until golden. Drain on absorbent paper. When cooled completely, dip in the saffron glaze or dust with the extra sugar and serve immediately.

 

French Toast with Raspberries, Almonds, Coconut and Rum

French Toast

It’s Fathers Day tomorrow and I had no idea! I have been caught up in this, I-don’t-know-what-time-of-the-month-or-year it is sort of mood. I honestly will look at you blankly if you ask me the date or what day it is. Just yesterday I wondered if we were in 2016! My mind is a muddle. BUT…

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the very first time. - Friedrich Nietzche

And, it’s true. I have little memory of my life in India except for the bigger things. For this reason whenever I go somewhere or do something I may have previously done, I do it with a freshness of a first time. It’s almost always a bit new. Like my whole life is encapsulated in a day.

I do have an amazing memory when it comes to conversations with certain people or references that are important to me. Then my memory is suddenly razor sharp like as if it might have happened moments ago. Maybe it has to do with selection of memories and what I choose to remember.

And, Jean Giraudoux said, you can miss a single being, even though you are surrounded by countless others. Those people are like extras. They cloud your vision, they’re a meaningless crowd. They’re an unwelcome distraction. So you seek oblivion in solitude. But solitude only makes you wither.

I believe that too. And I think that is the reason I don’t have memories of most people. I don’t seem to have the capacity to remember them. Unless they come extremely close to me. Fascinating stuff. Yes?

These french toast hopefully will be memorable. I think they are. They are creamy and tangy all at once. Try them!

French Toast

French Toast

French Toast

French Toast

makes 2

4 slices brioche (or white bread)
1 egg yolk
40 grams fine sugar
25 ml cream
50 ml coconut milk
50 grams raspberries (I used frozen ones which work equally good)
40 grams almonds (chopped)
20 ml coconut rum (optional)
1 tbsp sugar
2 round pots 5″ and 2″ deep

to prepare
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.

Whisk the egg yolk and the sugar till it turns a creamy light yellow mix. Then add the cream and the coconut milk and continue to whisk. Whisk till the sugar is completely dissolved. Finally add the rum if you like. I urge you to! :)
Cut the slices roughly to the shape of your pot. Dip in the egg mix and place on the bottom of the pots. Next add the almonds and then the raspberries on top, till the pots are more than half full. Dip the next 2 slices of of bread and place on top like a lid. Pour the remainder of the egg mixture equally in the 2 pots. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake for 20 minutes or till the top is light brown.

Serve immediately with some cream or even ice cream!

 

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the very first time. —Friedrich Nietzsche – See more at: http://brainworldmagazine.com/learning-memory-how-do-we-remember-and-why-do-we-often-forget/#sthash.qDqDn2bB.dpuf
The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the very first time. —Friedrich Nietzsche – See more at: http://brainworldmagazine.com/learning-memory-how-do-we-remember-and-why-do-we-often-forget/#sthash.qDqDn2bB.dpuf
The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the very first time. —Friedrich Nietzsche – See more at: http://brainworldmagazine.com/learning-memory-how-do-we-remember-and-why-do-we-often-forget/#sthash.qDqDn2bB.dpuf