Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chocolate Cupcake with chocolate ganache ~ Egg Free

Its been a long while since I baked any kind of cake. These days, whenever I bake, I usually bake muffins and quick breads. But the other day I was browsing the net and I came across a few cakes that gave me serious cake cravings.  So I decided to bake one.  After browsing some more, I narrowed down on a couple of recipes that I wanted to try, one a carrot cake that I have been wanting to try for a long while, the other a chocolate cake that also looked equally delicious. Finally my chocoholic side won out and I decided to bake chocolate cake.

Usually most cake recipes I come across tend to have both butter and eggs. But this one did not have either, making it easy for me to adapt the recipe. I did not have to figure out which egg substitute would work best, etc:)  Also since I don't do this often, I decided to go all out and make a ganache to frost the cake as well. The cake turned out very well, with a nice chocolatey taste that we enjoyed. I made these in a mini muffin tray, just so that it would be easier to do portion control, plus I wanted to share some with my friends. But you could just as easily bake these in a regular muffin pan for regular cup cakes:)

 Egg Free Chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache ~ Eggless chocolate cake | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make chocolate cupcakes with ganache (Cake adapted from this recipe)
For the cake
Dry ingredients
I cup unbleached all purpose flour ( maida)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
A pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Wet ingredients
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt + 1/2 cup water whisked together or 1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 

For the chocolate ganache ( see notes, ganache adapted from this recipe)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Pre heat oven @ 350 deg F. Pre line a muffin pans with muffin liners and keep aside. 
In a large bowl,  sift all the dry ingredients twice. Make a well in the center and keep aside.

It you are using yogurt, whisk together yogurt and water and keep aside. 
Whisk together sugar and oil. Then add buttermilk to it and mix well. 

Pour this mixture in well in the center of the dry ingredients and mix slowly until the wet and dry and fully mixed.  Add vanilla extract and semi sweet chocolate chips and mix gently. 

Spoon the mixture into muffin pans until 3/4th full. Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until toothpick / cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. I made it as mini cupcakes, if you make these as regular sized cupcakes it might take a min or two more, do check if done from around the 15th minute. I used a mini muffin tray and it yielded me about 24 mini cup cakes + 1 regular sized one, you could easily make this in a regular muffin tray as well.

For the ganache
Heat cream on the stove top or the microwave until it is scalding hot. Place the semi sweet chocolate chips in a small bowl. Add chocolate chips to this cream and mix well until well blended.  Allow the ganache to cool and firm, and frost the cake as desired.

I did not want to frost all the cupcakes so did not make too much ganache. With this quantity I was able to frost half the cupcakes. If you want to make enough frosting for all the cakes, you might need double the quantity of ganache.

If you are looking egg free bakes, here are a few more

Mocha Choco Chip Muffins

Apple Wheat Muffins

Apple Banana Choco Chip Muffin
Read more ...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Poricha kozhambu ~ Mixed Vegetable Dhal ~ Mixed Vegetable in Lentil coconut gravy curry

Poricha kozhambu is a traditional South Indian recipe usually made with a combination of vegetables although some versions are also made with just one kind of vegetable. Poricha means fried and refers to the process of roasting the spices in oil before grinding and adding them to the vegetables. Kozhambu is a term for any kind of stew like preparation that is served on a bed of plain steamed rice. I have also heard this dish being referred to as poricha kootu, although in our home this has always been kozhambu :)  Either way, one thing is certain, this curry is very flavorful , with the roasted lentil, pepper and coconut all adding different dimensions of taste and flavor to the final dish. 

Even though traditionally this is served on a bed of rice, I have to admit, I easily use any extras with some phulkas (Indian flat bread) and it tastes just amazing that way too. The good thing about this curry is that it tastes great with any combination of vegetables, making it ideal for those days when there is a little bit of many kinds of veggies in the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator, good way to use up a lot of them and still make a sizable amount of curry. Also it's healthy, low fat and has a good combination of veggies and lentils, cannot ask for more from a curry :) If you are in the mood for some traditional South Indian fare, give this one a try and enjoy this quick,  healthy curry :)

Poricha Kozhambu ~ Mixed vegetable dhal ~ Mixed vegetables in lentil coconut gravy | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and method to make Poricha kozhambu
4 and 1/2 cups of mixed vegetables cut into 1/2 inch pieces ( I used zucchini, potatoes and carrots this time, see notes for more options) 
1/2 cup split pigeon peas ( tur dhal/ tuvaram parappu)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste 
Water as needed ( approx about 1 and 1/2 cups)

Roast and grind 
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp split black gram lentil ( udad dhal/ ulatham parappu)
1/4 tsp whole black pepper (kali miri/ milagu)
3 small dry red chilies
1/3 cup fresh or frozen grated coconut (if frozen thaw to room temperature)

1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai/ kadagu)
Pinch of asafetida powder (hing/ perungayam)
7 to 8 large curry leaves torn into small pieces ( kadipatha/karvapillai)

Soak pigeon peas/ tur dhal in sufficient water for at least 30 minutes. Pressure cook the dhal until it is soft. Mash gently and keep aside.

In the meanwhile for the roast and grind part...
Heat oil in a small pan on medium heat. Add split black gram lentil to it and stir until it turns reddish. Add whole black peppers and dry red chilies and stir a few times. Remove from heat and grind the lentils and chilies along with grated coconut and a little water as needed to a smooth paste.  Keep this paste aside. 

In a large pan, add all the vegetables, salt to taste , turmeric powder and water and cook on medium heat with a lid on till it cooks and is soft. Stir a few times while cooking to ensure even cooking. 

Add ground paste and mashed lentils and mix well. Add water if required to achieve required consistency and simmer for a few minutes until them flavors mingle. 

In a small pan heat oil, add mustard seeds to it. When the seeds begin to splutter, add asafoetida powder/ hing and curry leaves. Stir once or twice and pour this entire seasoning on the vegetable lentil mixture. 

Serve this curry on a bed of plain steamed rice with some of this puli itta Keerai / imli palak/ tamarind flavored spinach for a traditional South Indian meal. 

Any combination of squash, pumpkin (kaddu), sweet potatoes, raw plantain (kaccha kela/vazhakkai), potatoes (aloo/ urilakizhangu), carrots (gajar), eggplants (baingan/kathrikai) or even beans can be used to make this curry

If you are looking for south Indian recipes, here are a few more

Tomato Coconut Curry ~ Thakkali kozhambu

Instant Tiffin Sambar ~ No dhal or tamarind sambar

Potato Masala Curry ~ Aloo ki sabzi ~ Potato gravy curry
Read more ...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Spring Onion Roti ~ Hare pyaaz ki Roti ~ Indian wheat and spring onion flatbread

When I plan my menu for the week, I usually have a rough idea of what I would make on each day, though there are times when I switch out my plans at the last minute. But there is one thing that remains mostly consistent in my menu plan, rotis, chapathis or phulkas are for weekdays, but parathas (Indian flat bread with stuffing) are for weekends. Only because parathas take a tad bit more time and on weekdays I am always looking to finish up as soon as possible in the kitchen :)

On weekdays, when I want something quick yet with some additional veggies, I usually like rotis with a variety of vegetables. Some of my favorite rotis with veggies that I have already posted in this space are...avocado roti, carrot roti , spinach avocado roti and  potato roti . In addition to these, I also like to make this spring onion roti from time to time. Spring onions have a very distinctive flavor which works very well in rotis. These rotis are easy and quick to make, just pair it with some curry or dhal and you have a nutritious and delicious meal :)

  Spring Onion Roti ~ Hare Pyaaz ki Roti ~ Indian wheat and spring onion flat bread | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Spring Onion Roti
2 cups whole wheat flour ( atta/ godumai maavu )
1 cup finely cut spring onions/ green onions/ hara pyaaz ( about 6 spring onions)
1/4 cup finely cut cilantro (coriander leaves/ hara dhania / kothamalli )
Salt to taste ( namak/ uppu)
1/2 tsp red chili powder ( or to taste) (lal mirch/ Thani molagai podi)
1/2 tsp cumin powder ( jeera pwd/ jeeragam podi)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera/jeeragam)
1/2 Tbsp oil + little extra oil/ clarified butter or ghee to apply on rotis (use oil for a vegan version)
Water as needed
a little extra flour for dusting

In a bowl add whole wheat flour and all the spices and mix well.

Add finely cut cilantro and spring onions and mix again.

Add 1/2 Tbsp oil mix into the flour mixture. Add water as needed, a little at a time and knead into a soft, non sticky dough. I used approx 3/4 cup water for this quantity of flour. Keep the dough covered for 15 to 30 mins.

Divide the dough, and roll into golf ball sized balls. Flatten a little, dust with flour and roll out into an even circle of desired thickness.

Heat a flat pan/ tawa/ skillet on medium heat and place the rolled out dough on it. When the lower side is lightly cooked, has tiny brown spots on it, flip over and cook the other side until it has brown spots on it. Gently press with a spatula or a kitchen tissue for even cooking.

Apply a few drops of  oil/ ghee on the side facing the top and flip over and cook for just a few more seconds.

Serve hot with curry of choice, or dhal of choice or raita of choice and a pickle on the side.
Yielded approx 12 rotis. 

Other recipes with spring onion in this space :

Spring Onion Pulao ~ Hare pyaaz ka pulao

Spring Onion Curry ~ Zunka

Read more ...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Oats aval payasam ~ Oats Poha kheer ~ Indian pudding made with oats and beaten rice flakes

For a while now I have been wanting to make payasam/ kheer with oats in it. A few weeks back when I wanted to make some neivedyam, I thought maybe this would be a good time to try oats payasam. Usually I tend to make burfis or ladoos for neivedyam, but this time I decided to go with payasam instead. On a whim I made the payasam with oats and aval (poha) in it, instead of just oats and the result was this incredibly easy, yet rich and creamy tasty payasam that we really liked.

You cannot really tell this payasam has oats in it. I have already shared this payasam with some of my  friends and relatives, and so far no one could guess that this payasam has something so healthy in it :)  This payasam is also very quick to make, the oats and poha thicken it right up, so you do not have to wait very long for the milk to thicken as you have to with a lot of other payasam recipes. If you are looking for a way to indulge your sweet tooth, give this recipe a try and enjoy it with your family :)

Oats Aval Payasam ~ Oats Poha Kheer ~ Indian Pudding made with oats and beaten rice flakes | Veg Inspirations

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make aval oats payasam
3 cups whole milk ( doodh/paal)
3/4 cup sugar ( shakkar/cheeni/ sakkarai)
1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup beaten rice flakes ( medium poha/ aval )
1 Tbsp broken cashew pieces (kaju)
3-6 tsp of clarified butter ( ghee/ nei)
4 to 5 green cardamom seeds powder ( elaichi powder/ ellakkai podi)

In a heavy bottomed pan, roast quick oats in 1 to 2 tsp of clarified butter/ ghee on medium heat until it turns creamy. Remove and keep aside to cool.

In the same pan, roast beaten rice flakes/ poha in 1 to 2 tsp of clarified butter / ghee on medium heat until it turns creamy. Remove and keep aside to cool. Powder both rice flakes and oats together in a mixer/ blender/ spice grinder until it has a coarse semolina/ rava like texture.

In the same pan, heat 1 to 2 tsp of clarified butter/ ghee and roast cashew until it turns golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

Place the powdered rice flakes + oat powder in the pan, add about 1 cup of water and cook until the mixture cooks and thickens, this does not take much time, just a couple of minutes or so. When the mixture thickens, add sugar and continue to heat until sugar melts.

Add milk and heat through, stirring frequently and allow the milk to simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Garnish with cardamom powder and the roasted cashew from above, mix well and remove from heat. 

This kheer can be served hot, at room temperature or cold. Any balance can be refrigerated for a couple of days.

Serves approx 3 to 4

The kheer thickens when it cools, so do keep that in mind when you are simmering the milk. If you simmer it longer it will result in more rabri ( thick custard) type consistency. 
Read more ...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Strawberry ice cream ~ Egg Free ~ No Ice Cream Maker needed

Strawberries are in season right now, and every time I go grocery shopping, these plump and pretty berries look so tempting that I cannot resist adding a box ...... or two into my cart. The idea of making ice cream with these berries has been on my mind for a while and since I got quite a lot of berries recently I decided to make a batch of ice cream sooner rather than later :-)

Unlike the previous version of strawberry ice cream that I had posted in this space, this time I made the ice cream with cream and sweetened condensed milk, somewhat similar to this mango ice cream I posted a few weeks back. In my opinion, home made ice cream, especially fruit based ones taste so much fresher and more genuine than store bought versions. You can actually taste the fruit, not all the artificial flavors that get added in the store versions. Not to mention most store versions also include a list of unpronounceable other stuff that just makes me cringe and put back the container as soon I read the ingredients.  If you feel the same way try this easy version of strawberry ice cream, it's the perfect treat for any weekend :)

Strawberry Ice cream ~ Egg Free ~ No Ice cream maker needed

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Strawberry ice cream
2 cups- strawberry pieces cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 and 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar (see notes)

Blend together fruit pieces with condensed milk in a blender/ mixer until it becomes a smooth puree. Add heavy cream and blend again.

Pour into a glass or any freezable container and place in freezer.

In about an hour and a half when the edges begin to freeze, take out the mixture and whip it in the blender again until soft. Pour back into container and place in the freezer. Allow to freeze.

Scoop, serve and enjoy :) 

With this quantity of sugar I got a mildly sweet ice cream, if you want a more pronounced sweetness, you can increase the quantity of sugar to 1/2 cup.

I have seen some instructions for ice creams to be taken out and whipped 2 to 3 times every 1 1/2 to 2 hours then allowed to freeze, but with these proportions it set beautifully and I did not need to whip it so often. If you like,  you could do it more times too.

If you liked this post, you might also like

Simple 2 Ingredient Nutella Ice Cream

Mango Ice Cream ~ Egg Free ~ No Ice cream maker needed

Coffee Frozen Yogurt

Read more ...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dudhi/ Lauki sabzi ~ Bottlegourd in peanut gravy curry ~ With Stepwise Pictures

Here's the thing I like most about bottle gourd/ calabash or lauki/ dudhi , it is a great veggie to consume when counting calories. This gourd has one of the lowest calorie counts,  100 gms of the vegetable only has about 14 calories or so. It is one of those veggies that contains mostly water, yet it is also rich in vitamins and minerals. This vegetable is also said to be heart healthy,  benefits in weight loss and is supposed to be good for aiding digestion.

If all the above reasons aren't enough, here is one more reason to like's very versatile. It works well in a good range of recipes. Usually I make this kootu with it if I am planning for a south Indian menu or if I am planning to make dudhi to go with phulka I make a curry that is somewhat similar to this curry. But recently I wanted some kind of "different" curry to make with dudhi, but was not in the mood for something elaborate like kofta. So I decided to make a curry with a gravy that is similar to the one I used in this capsicum/ bell pepper masala.  We loved this curry, it was rich, creamy and tasted amazing with phulkas. It is really quick and easy to make too, so that's an added bonus. So if you have dudhi on your menu this week or weekend, give this recipe a try and enjoy it with some phulkas/  flat bread or even plain steamed rice:)

 Dudhi/ Lauki Sabzi ~ Bottlegourd in peanut gravy curry ~ With Stepwise pictures

Click here for a printable view of this recipe

Ingredients and Method to make Dudhi/ Lauki sabzi
5 and 1/2 cups Bottlegourd pieces of about 3/4 inch each (lauki/ dudhi/ sorakkai) (about 2 small bottlegourds)
2 medium tomatoes cut fine (tamatar/ thakkali)
1 Tbsp oil
3/4 tsp cumin seeds (jeera/ jeeragam)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi/ manjal podi)
1/4 tsp red chili powder (optional, or to taste) (lal mirch/ thani molaga podi) 
salt to taste

2 Tbsp finely cut cilantro (coriander leaves/ hara dhania/ kothamalli)

For the masala ( dry roast each ingredient separately and grind into smooth paste)
3 Tbsp raw peanuts (groundnuts/mungphali/verkadalai)
1 Tbsp sesame seeds (til/ ellu)
1/2 Tbsp coriander seeds (dhania)
3 dry red chilies (or to taste) (lal mirch/ molagai vathal)
3 Tbsp grated coconut (nariyal/ thengai poo)

Peel and cut bottle gourd into 3/4 inch pieces and keep aside. Prep all other veggies and keep aside.

Dry roast each of the items mentioned under masala separately and keep aside to cool. The peanuts until light pinkish, sesame seeds until it splutters a little, coriander seeds until aromatic, red chilies for just a few seconds until it is warm and coconut until it turns lightly creamy golden. Coriander seeds and red chilies can be roasted together. Cool to room temperature and grind together with a little water until it is a smooth paste.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add cumin seeds. When the seeds splutter, add tomatoes and stir until tomatoes are cooked and soft.

Add turmeric powder and stir a couple of times. Add bottle gourd pieces, salt to taste, chili powder if using and a little water and allow the bottle gourd to cook until it is soft but retains its shape.

Add masala paste, water as needed to achieve required consistency and simmer for a few minutes until the flavones mingle. Garnish with cilantro.

Remove from heat and serve hot with phulkas/ rotis/ chapathis/ Indian flat bread. 
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