Friday, 24 February 2017

Rose and Pistachio Bundt Cake...

This recipe has been requested so many time, that I have decided to put the recipe on the blog. It is such a flexible recipe, you can use whatever flavourings you desire.
Since I hadn't planned on putting this recipe up, unfortunately, I did not take a picture of it after it was sliced.
The cake is flavoured with rose water and pistachio paste, with a crunchy pistachio streusel in the centre.
I used a store bought pistachio paste, but for those who are unable to find any, I have included an easy recipe that works just fine. Not authentic, but it will do...


100 grams coarsely chopped pistachios
45 grams muscovado sugar
2 -3 teaspoons rose water (or to taste)


250 grams unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, beaten
150 grams caster sugar
125 ml sour cream*
100 grams pistachio paste (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon rose water, optional
300 grams flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 180° C. Grease a bundt pan very well. I use baking spray.

Combine the streusel ingredients and set aside.

Place the butter, eggs, caster sugar, sour cream, pistachio paste, and rose water in the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat until smooth and creamy.

Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter mixture, folding in gently, but thoroughly.
Pour half the batter into the bundt tin. Sprinkle 2/3 of the streusel over, then pour the remaining batter in. Sprinkle the remaining streusel over. Gently press the streusel into the batter so that it does not crumble after baking. Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and place on a wire rack to cool. Once completely cool, unmold onto  a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar before serving. Enjoy! 
*Note: I added 125 ml of sour cream as my pistachio paste was quite runny. If your paste is thicker, then increase the amount of sour cream 175 ml, or just enough to make a cake-like batter.

Pistachio paste:
 150 grams shelled pistachios
1 tablespoon flavourless oil
1-2 tablespoons sugar syrup or liquid glucose

Soak pistachios in boiling water for 15 minutes. Slip off the skins, then toast in the oven for a few minutes. Cool, then place in a spice grinder, and grind until it starts to form a paste. Add the oil and continue to grind. Then add the sugar syrup. Pulse until it comes together. The consistency should be similar to peanut butter. Place in a jar and keep refrigerated.

Note: it is not absolutely  essential to remove the skins of the pistachios, but the Colour and consistency would be much better if you do.

Indian Kheer With Puri...

I adore rice puddings. I have discovered that  many countries have some sort of rice pudding in there cuisine. Kheer is an Indian version of rice pudding. This sweet milk based dish is thickened with  rice, and flavoured with cardamom and rose water, enriched with cream and made even more delicious with the addition of pistachios and almonds.

This dish is either served as part of a meal or as a dessert after a meal. I serve it with Puri, an Indian fried bread.

What I love about this dish is the flexibility. You can choose to thicken your kheer with either rice, vermicelli of sago. You can also add whatever nuts or flavouring that you desire. This dish can be served either hot or cold.

The rice is usually cooked in the milk, but I prefer to cook the rice in water and then add the milk as hastens the cooking time slightly.

Ingredients for Kheer:
1/2 - 3/4 cup of jasmine rice (or use any other soft cooking rice)
1 litre milk (preferably full fat)
1 385 gram tin of sweetened condensed milk (or to taste)
250 ml whipping cream
1 tablespoon ground almonds
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup sliced skinless almonds
1/2 cup sliced pistachios
1 tablespoon Charoli nuts, optional*
A splash of rose water
Extra pistachios for garnishing

Rinse and soak the rice in hot water for about 20 minutes. Drain the water and add the rice to a heavy based pot. Cover with fresh water, and boil until most of the water is absorbed. And the milk and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent the milk from scorching. The rice should be really soft and mushy. Add the condensed milk, cream, ground almonds and cardamom. I give the kheer a quick whizz with a stick blender at this stage. Do not blend for too long as you want some texture. Just a quick pulse for a second or two!cook for 10 minutes, then add the remaining nuts and the rose water. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve in cups or bowls with some extra pistachio sprinkled over.

* Charoli is a type of nut from India. Also known as chironji, they are creamy white tiny round nuts, with a brown skin. Their texture is similar to pine nuts, although they are closer in flavour to almonds. They are available at Indian grocers.

2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon  sugar
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, optional
3 tablespoons butter
Cold buttermilk to make the dough
Oil for deep frying

 In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Rub in the butter. Add enough  buttermilk to make a
soft dough. Cover the dough and set aside for an hour. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts. Form into little balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a circle, about 3mm thick. Using a pizza cutter or a knife, cut each circle into 4 wedges. You can also cut out shapes using a cookie cutter if desired. Heat oil in a small pot, over medium heat. Fry the puri, 1 at a time, until puffed up and pale gold in colour. This only takes a few seconds on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Creamy Sweet Potato, Cashew and Coconut Soup...

The overcast, rainy weather hasn't ceased, and I am thrilled! I love days like this...dark and gloomy, the perfect weather to stay home and read, and that is exactly what I have done since yesterday. And of course we need the rain since we have had a particularly dry spell for the past two summers.

I was inspired by a recipe that I came across in the Jamie Oliver magazine late last year, but since it was summer and pretty hot in my part of the world, I didn't have the opportunity to make it. Today was the perfect day!
Hope you enjoy.

This recipe serves four.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 red chillies, finely chopped
A  2 cm piece of ginger, finely minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
A small bunch of coriander, leaves picked and stalks chopped
Salt to taste
650 grams orange sweet potato, peeled and chopped
100 grams cashew nuts
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
250 ml coconut milk

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan, and add the onion. Sauté until softened and starting to colour. Add the garlic, chillies, ginger, coriander powder, and the coriander stalks. Season with the salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the sweet potato and 50 grams of the cashews. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes,
until potatoes are tender. Leave to cool for a bit, then blitz with a stick blender until creamy. Add the coconut milk. Toast the remaining cashew in a dry pan until golden. Reheat the soup and serve in deep bowls, topped with the coriander leaves and cashews. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Rose Scented Baklava Muffins...

We usually bake at the weekend, when we tend to have family for friends dropping by. I prefer baking things that are simple and not too rich or heavily decorated, as those are the kind of things my family prefer on a day to day basis. Something that they can enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee. Oh, and of course, if the treat is quick and easy to prepare, then it is an all round winner! I have been making these baklava muffins for years now, and I always get complimented on them.

Nut filling:
75 grams walnuts, chopped
75 grams pistachios, chopped
50 grams butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon rose water
1 teaspoon orange blossom water, optional

 220 grams cake flour
75 grams caster sugar
10 ml baking powder
2.5 ml bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
50 grams unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
250 ml buttermilk

100 ml honey, I use orange blossom (heated)
Chopped pistachios
Rose buds or petals to decorate

Preheat e oven to 200° Celsius.
Line a 12 cavity muffin tin with paper cases. Spray the cases well with non stitch baking spray.
Combine all the nut filling ingredients, and set aside.
Combine the flour,caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the butter, egg and buttermilk together. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Mix very lightly, as the mixture should be lumpy rather than smooth. Half fill the muffin cases with the batter, then top with a tablespoon of the nut mixture. Cover with the remaining batter. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until they are puffed and golden. Place the still hot muffins, on a wire rack and drizzle the honey over. Decorate with the chopped pistachios and the rosebuds or petals.