Black Beauty Chocolate Cake

I have made this cake at least half a dozen times and each time it has left all of us craving for more…all thanks to Nigella for her fabulous recipe. This undeniably is a red-carpet cake. With its deep black colour and velvetty texture, it almost melts in your mouth. Its my all-time companion – for celebrations, tea-time or mainly as a stress-buster. And its incredibly easy to make.

chocooliveoilcake
Ingredients:

  • 150ml regular olive oil, plus extra for greasing (I have also tried with virgin olive oil and its equally delicious)
  • 50g – cocoa powder, sifted
  • 125ml – boiling water (adding a little coffee to it enhances the flavour)
  • 2 tsp – vanilla extract
  • 150g ground almonds or 125g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 200g caster sugar (I always replace 50 gms of it with brown sugar)
  • 3 free-range eggs

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/325ºF. Grease a 22 or 23 cm/ 9inch springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
  3. In another smallish bowl, combine the ground almonds (or flour) with the bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt.
  4. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl. With an electric beater, beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.
  5. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture and continue beating. When all is scraped in, you can slowly add the ground almond (or flour) mixture.
  6. Stir the mixture a bit with a spatula to bring it all together, but don’t over beat it. Then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
  8. Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin.

P.S.: This cake can also be devoured warm with some ice cream, as a pudding.

Get baking ! 🙂

 

 

 

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Chilly-fry Chicken Sausages with Mushrooms

My repertoire of being a short-cut cook combined with my undying love for Chinese food, led to the invention of this recipe. Mushrooms cooked in spices time and again was getting a bit banal. So I decided to add a bit of Chinese spin to it. Cooked in a jiffy without compromising on the flavour, this one’s sure to win you over.

Chilly sausage
Serves –
3
Preparation time – 10 minutes
Cooking  time – 10 minutes

Ingredients:
Chicken sausages – 200 gms
Mushrooms – 250 gms
Spring onions – half a bunch, finely chopped
Garlic – 2 tbsps finely chopped
Ginger – 1 tbsp finely chopped
Chillies – 2 (if less spicy) finely chopped
Soy sauce – 2 tbsp
Oyster sauce – 1 tbsp (optional)
Fish sauce – 1 tbsp (optional)
Aginomoto – 1 tsp (optional)
Oil for frying
Salt – as per taste (be careful with the salt as the sauces have enough salt in them)

Method:
1. Heat oil in a pan and fry the cut sausages. Remove from the oil and keep aside.
2. In the same oil add ginger, garlic and chillies and fry till they release their fragrance.
3. Add mushrooms and stir fry but don’t overcook them.
4. Then add the sausages to this mixture.
5. Then add the sauses, salt, aginomoto and stir.
6. Lastly add the spring onions and stir. Adding spring onions at the end prevent them from getting overcooked retains their colour.
7. Cook on medium flame for 1-2 minutes.

P.S.: You can replace chicken sausages with pork or lamb.
A great companion for veg/egg/chicken fried rice. Can also be savored as Starters.

 

Monsoon Mania in Mahabaleshwar… some more pics…

Its only a week after I’m back from my weekend escape to the divine Mahabaleshwar, but the memories are still afresh. Although, I’ve dedicated an entire column to Mahabaleshwar under “My Travelogues”, I couldn’t stop myself from posting few more pics of my latest monsoon visit to this heavenly abode.

Rains, fog, greenery… a visual treat that is seen only in the movies.
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Nature at its best…

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The serene Venna Lake is the place to be.

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Holding your beloved while enjoying a boat-ride and being enveloped by fog. Can anything be more romantic!!!
BoatsOnly the freshly roasted corn smeared with lime can beat the cold. Not to forget the steaming hot ginger tea…
Cornwala Mapro Gardens, a must-do in my every visit.
Mapro10Bread being baked and sliced, pizzas being readied right in front of your eyes. So inviting!
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Who cares about the calories when the cheese is being celebrated in this manner!

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And the old-style oven…
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Go drooling over the smoking hot corn-pattice with tomato sauce and green chutney. The guy in the pic below is the pioneer of corn-pattice in Mahabaleshwar. He was the first to venture into the corn-pattice business in 2001. Its not difficult to hunt him down. He stands at right side of the lane, which is also a starting point of the famous Mahabaleshwar Market. His pattice and frankies are unbeatable. You cant afford to give it a miss.
IMG-20140722-WA016The old world charm still exists here.
In the form of these post-boxes…
IMG-20140722-WA004And these vintage sort-of lamps.
IMG-20140722-WA005Strawberry being the king of fruits here, there are various joints in the market area that serve Strawberry in various forms like milkshakes, juices, cream, etc. Strawberry Den at the beginning of the market is a nice place to be. You gotta try the strawberry cream – dollops of cream alternated by strawberries and ice-cream. Yummylicious!
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For authentic Maharashtrian non-veg cuisine, head to the Shivneri Restaurant. The chicken thali here is mindblowing. Hirkani Restaurant is also a good option. Although, food here is a bit spicy. Both these dhaba-like restaurants are located in Metgutad area and close to Venna Lake.

Scenic beauty, lush greenery, pristine foggy mountains, warm and friendly people and mouthwatering cuisine…Mahabaleshwar swears by each one of these.
After days of hectic work schedule, and fast paced life, where you have to literally borrow moments to be with yourself, you ought to be here to unwind, relax, rejuvenate and be happy.

Its time you go bag-packing before the monsoon bids adieu…

 

 

 

Sweet-lime Cake

I made this cake for my little nephew’s birthday. This cake is moist, tangy, with a royal orangy colour. Its an orange-lover’s delight.
Its a wonderfully damp, dense, aromatic and flourless cake and tastes even better after 2-3 days. Can be relished even as a pudding.
It could be easily charged a fortune in a bistro, if it was to be served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and perhaps a dusting of icing sugar. But why burn your pockets when you can comfort yourself baking it at home.

Divine cake and so easy to bake!

SweetLime cake

Ingredients:

  • 375 grams sweet-limes (approx. 5 medium-sized ones)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 225 grams white sugar (increase the amount if you want it sweeter)
  • 250 grams ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 

Method:

  1. Put the sweet-limes in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours or till soft.
  2. Drain. When cool, cut each sweet-lime in half and remove the pips.
  3. Dump the sweet-limes – skins, pith, fruit and all – and blitz in a food processor
  4. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190ºC/375ºF. Butter and line a 21cm / 8 inch springform tin.
  5. You can then add all the other ingredients to the food processor and mix. Or, you can beat the eggs by hand adding the sugar, almonds and baking powder, mixing well, then finally adding the pulped fruits.
  6. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for an hour, when a skewer will come out clean. Though the mentioned time is 1 hour, I start my skewer test after 35 minutes to check if the cake is done. After which, you’ll probably have to cover with foil or grease-proof paper after about 40 minutes to stop the top burning.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, on a rack, but in the tin. When the cake’s cold, you can take it out of the tin.
  8. I feel, it tastes better a day after it’s made. But it’s gorgeous appearance wont stop u from gorging on it any time.

    P.S.: You can also make this with an equal weight of oranges and with lemons, in which case you can increase the sugar to 250g / 2¼ cups and slightly anglicise it, too, by adding a glaze made of icing sugar mixed to a paste with lemon juice and a little water.


Aquaba Opens In Lower Parel

When it comes to Lower Parel, there’s no dearth of options to drink and dine. Adding to this list is the new restaurant/lounge that opened this month in the Peninsula Business Park.

Aquaba2

Aquaba is a 3000 sq. ft. restaurant with 1000 sq. ft. al fresco section named after the quaint and picturesque city in Jordan.

This plush restaurant specializes in Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisines. It brings together an array of dishes from Greece, Turkey and Lebanon with provincial specialties from Italy, Spain and North Africa to offer the patrons a relaxed meal with tranquil atmosphere.

Varying from the soothing shades of taupe to cerulean blue, Aquaba is elegantly decorated with minimalistic yet modern interiors, and can accommodate approx 70 guests indoors and 25 guests in the al fresco area.
Aquaba also facilitates 2 indoor banquet rooms of approx 1000 sq. ft. collectively complete with audiovisual connectivity and can accommodate up to 80-100 guests.
Also available are two open-to-sky- banquet areas of 4000 and 5000 sq. ft. each for events, private parties, etc.

Getting there: Aqaba, Club House, Level P5, Peninsula Business Park, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai.


Rani-ki-Vav, Patan, Gujarat Gets The World Heritage tag

People of Gujarat rejoice!!!
The glorious Rani-ki-Vav in Patan, Gujarat has got the UNESCO World Heritage tag.
Its truely a treasure of the 11th century. The Vav, which means step-well, is an exceptional example of technological development in utilising ground water resources.

Rani ki vav
The recognition was granted by the UNESCO at the World Heritage Committee Session held in Doha, Quater.

There are already 30 World Heritage sites in India, 24 cultural sites and 6 natural properties.
Gujarat’s Rani-ki-Vav will be the 31st site in the country.

 

Kerala’s Splendour With Hop-on Hop-off Boat Service

Kerala Government introduces hop-on hop-off boat service and water taxi service at Kochi and Muziris heritage site and is expected to start in August 2014.

Kerala’s Splendour With Hop-on Hop-off Boats

Initially there are plans to start with the three 25-seater AC boats for hop-on hop-off services at Kochi heritage site.

These services will cover places like High Court Jetty, Marine Drive, Bolgatty Palace, Vypeen, Fort Kochi and Matancherry.