Friday, June 3, 2016

Mango Panna Cotta

I always thought Panna Cotta was a 'difficult to make' dessert. But then now I realize, it isn't. As a teen, I was obsessed with whipping up perfect puddings: caramel, mousse, tender coconut and had this flair to play with the hidden ingredient, agar agar or gelatin, which gave the body to the comforting desserts in various forms and flavours.

Coming to Panna Cotta, which means cooked cream, as you all might know, is an Italian dessert, a basic one made of milk and cream, thickened and moulded by gelatin and flavoured with rum, coffee, vanilla etc.
Generally, you might have come across 'Coulis' ( pronounced /kuːˈliː/ koo-LEE; French) is a form of thick sauce made from puréed and strained vegetables or fruits. The interesting note about this dessert is that it is quite a versatile one, means, once you get the hang of making the basic  pudding, you can be creative with it.

Now, coming to Mango Panna Cotta, as the name sounds, is a combination of mango coulis and cooked milk and cream flavoured with vanilla both set individually by gelatin.You can set it in a pudding dish as layers, Mango Coulis(which is set by gelatin) as the base and with milk and cream on top, the other way round, more of mango and less of milk and cream mix and vice versa. Anyways, I can assure, it tastes yummy. Its easier than you think, though the whole thing seems complicated. You can pleasantly surprise your guests setting them in individual glass cups, as I have done and yes, you will have compliments pouring in! :)

Mango Panna Cotta
For 5 small individual servings 

Before we start, let me tell you, I used 5 glass cups of 100 ml each. Hence I prepared 250 ml of mango pulp and 250 ml of milk and cream mixture to fill them all.

For Mango Coulis

A 250 ml cup Mango Pulp made from de-skinned chunks of fresh mangoes ( Ripe mangoes like alphonso render that bright yellow hue)
1-3 tsps Powdered Sugar or according to your sweet level. ( I did not add as the mangoes were sweet enough)
1 tsp of gelatin (soaked in 3 tbsps of cold water for 30 minutes in refrigerator to bloom)

For the Milk Mixture

150 ml Full fat milk
100 ml Heavy Cream ( I used Amul fresh cream )
2-3 tsps of sugar ( I used 2)
1 tsp of gelatin (soaked in 3 tbsps of cold water for 30 minutes in refrigerator to bloom)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix up and set

Part 1- Mango Coulis

Mix in sugar while you pulp the mango cubes. Take out the 1tsp gelatin from the refrigerator and melt gently in  a pan in low and controlled flame on stove top. Transfer the mango pulp to this and combine in low heat just under the boiling point or remove from fire before it starts to bubble. This is to ensure that the ingredients are incorporated well.

Whisk gently while cooling down.While luke warm, transfer the mix gently to tilted glasses. I used my ice tray to hold the 45 deg position. Secure mouths with cling wraps. With utmost care, return to the refrigerator, holding the position :). I held my breath while doing it ;). Leave undisturbed for 4-6 hours until firm.

Part 2- Milk and Cream

Combine cream, milk and sugar and bring to a gentle boil, in low flame stirring until the sugar dissolves. Switch off.
Repeat the above step for melting gelatin.
Take out the 1tsp gelatin from the refrigerator and melt gently in another pan, in low and controlled flame. Stir in this to the above milk mixture along with vanilla.

Whisk gently while the mixture cools down. Take out the mango coulis glasses which are set well enough. Pour in the milk mixture carefully to fill the mango layer on top. Place them back to chill as such in standing position. Secure with cling wraps. Milk mix gets set within a couple of hours.
Serve chilled topped with mango slices and young mint leaves.


I haven't tried with agar agar. A 5-7 gm sheet should suffice for the above quantity. You need to divide it into equal portions and soak in warm-hot water. Melt on stove top bringing to gentle simmers, until it dissolves completely. Finally combine with the mango coulis and milk mixture, separately. Remember, you do it for both as different batches with an interval of 6 hours. If done in one go, it solidifies as it is.

Perfect panna cottas are softly firm or a bit wiggly rather than hard and firm.

I personally prefer it less sweet and so added minimum sugar.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Sambharam ~ Spiced and Flavoured Buttermilk to Beat the Heat!

Sambharam or spiced and flavoured buttermilk of Kerala holds an important place in the culinary history which dates back to centuries. The drink is popular in other Indian states as Chaas, Majjige, Neer mor etc. The uniqueness of Sambharam, compared to the above counterparts is that it's flavoured with lime leaves or Narakathila, authentically!

Now, what makes this an ideal summer drink?
Buttermilk, being a natural body coolant, compensates the loss of electrolytes during the day, resulting in tiredness and dizziness. The best and natural way to retain body fluids is to drink tender coconut water or buttermilk with salt. This also compensates the loss of sodium chloride in the body through sweat. Primarily, this is way superior to bottled and artificially flavoured carbonated drinks!

So, Bharathy, what are you waiting for? Peak summer, fresh flow of natural indoor lighting, garden fresh lime leaves should check your hibernation in this space of yours. Kick start with this easy to make drink. :)

Sambharam / Pachamoru
Fills 4 glasses

You need:

Yogurt or homemade curd -1 cup
Water - 3 cups
Green chillies - 2 small, slit lengthwise until half
Fresh Lime leaves / Narakathila - 2
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste

Minced ginger (as fine as possible)- 1 tsp
Minced shallots / ulli (as fine as possible)- 2 tsps
Minced curry leaves (as fine as possible)- 1 tsp
Minced cilantro/malliyila (as fine as possible)- 2 tsps


To begin with, wash the green chillies and lime leaves. Tear the leaves and crush them together with the slit chillies. I personally dislike biting into bits of chilly and opt this method to give the touch of heat to the drink. Lime leaves are crushed along with to impart the rejuvenating flavour.
Top them with a cup of thick curd (I used home made) and whisk for a few seconds until creamy. Top it with 2.5- 3 parts of chilled water.

Beat/whisk adding hing and salt. You may discard the lime leaves and chillies at this point. Add the minced ingredients; shallots, ginger and the herbs and mix gently to combine. Fill your glasses and enjoy the refreshing drink!

  • If you use fat free free yogurt, use 2.5 parts of water instead of  3. Use home made, if possible, for best results.
  • If you do not get hold of lime leaves, you can use any variety of citrus leaves as long as they are fresh. You can also substitute a tsp of lime juice if you don't get the leaves too!
  • You can use a metal hand whisk or a beater, instead of the traditional wooden one I use, as well.

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Pongal Recipes

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Chocolate Crinkles

Crinkle Cookies

Wish you all had a wonderful Christmas day and still enjoying the Christmas time!
I see a beautiful Christmas pudding with flambé which I describe as highly exotic in my dear friend's space. My eyes get hooked at those cookies in the corner of the picture. Ah! not to search in the picture she had posted up there, the one she sent me soon after the laborious baking. I ask her about it and she explains. I take her for granted and tell her that I wish to bake this and post  for Christmas. She laughs, because that wasn't a request, but a statement from me. The baking got slightly postponed, guess qualifies for the new year. So, let me thank and dedicate this to Swapna, my buddy, whole heartedly, for motivating and guiding me through to update in my space after months!

The source she mentioned was different, which demanded chocolate chips which I ran out stock and followed this site, verbatim, for the Crackle or Crinkle Cookies.

Crinkle Cookies

Chocolate Crinkles 
 Makes around 30


 150 g plain flour
 60 g cocoa (I used Valrhona for intense hue and flavor)
 1 teaspoon baking powder
 pinch of salt
 200 g caster sugar
 60 g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
 2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 100 g icing sugar


Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it clumps together and resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Whisk together the egg and vanilla together, then add to the flour mixture. Mix with a large metal spoon until combined, then cover with plastic film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 6). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Scoop the dough in a 1 tbsp measuring spoon and shape into balls ( almost walnut-sized). Drop into the icing sugar, tossing until well coated. Place on the baking trays, leaving about 5 cm between each to allow for spreading. Bake for 10–12 minutes or until just set when lightly touched. Cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. The cookies will crack on cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Crinkle Cookies

Crinkle Cookies

These delicious fudgy biscuits are so named because they are dipped in icing sugar before going into the oven. During baking, the cookies expand slightly, resulting in a wonderful crackled look.

And yes, here's wishing you all a healthy, happy and fun-filled year ahead!

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Sura Meen Kuzhambu / Sravu Varutharacha Curry / Shark Fish Curry

Sura Meen Kuzhambu

Shark fish curry is familiar for the Keralites and Tamilians. Surameen Kuzhambu basically belongs to the Chettiar cuisine, made using paal sura or the young and tender sharks. Sravu Curry is not common in central Kerala, though, a much loved thick brown coloured curry made to perfection!

insisted Amma to go for a fish dish everyday this time in Kottayam, the reason being I never get to have these favourites of mine back home. She made the fish and coconut curry, red fishcurry, fried fish and the small fish varieties with coconut. She makes the best ones or at least, we children approve so.

I had been mentioning about shark fish and the curry she makes, which I wished to make a note and Bingo, she finds the young sharks in the shop right beside our home.This is a curry I crave and amma says I would have some extra meal with this side dish when I was a kid.

Now, before hitting the publish button, I did a bit of research to which cuisine the curry belongs and was excited to see the curry amma prepares is a lovely combination of both. The ingredients, method and the look of the final curry in both the cuisines is the  same; dark and thick!

Sura Meen Kuzhambu

Sura Meen Kuzhambu / Sravu Varutharacha Curry /  Shark Fish Curry
Serves a family of 6-8 members
Total time needed- 80 minutes


2 lbsPaal Sura meen / Baby shark fish - cleaned, deskinned and sliced

To roast and grind

3 tbsps Coriander powder
1 tsp Sombhu / Perunjeerakam / Fennel seeds ( This is an imp ing. Do not omit pls)
2 tsps Red Chilly powder
1/2 tsp Jeerakam / Cumin seeds
1 tsp Milagu/ Kurumulaku / Black pepper corns
1/2 tsp Manjal Thool /Manjal podi / Turmeric powder

1/2 cup  freshly grated coconut
A sprig of Curry leaves
10 numbers Shallots
6-7 Garlic cloves, small variety ( if large, 3-4 will fair)

 Extract from lime sized ball (Tamil recipe) of Tamarind ( I used this) OR *4-5 pieces of Kokum / 'Kudampuli' (Kerala recipe)

For Seasoning:

3 tbsp Nallennai / Nallenna / Sesame seed oil
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Venthayam / Uluva ?Fenugreek seeds
8 numbers shallots, sliced lengthwise
3 green chillies, slit lengthwise until 3/4th
A sprig of Curry leaves


Sura Meen Kuzhambu

Dry roast coriander powder till it turns into a deeper brown hue for about 4-6 minutes in low-medium flame. Note the colour. This is very important for the right flavour of the final curry.

Sura Meen Kuzhambu

Add the fennel seeds and chilly powder and turn off heat.
Add jeera seeds, pepper corn and turmeric powder and mix well. The heat in the pan will be enough to heat them up. Transfer this to your large mixie jar. We need to grind it later.

Roast coconut gratings and Curry leaves for a few minutes. Add whole shallots and garlic cloves and roast continuously for a few more minutes until the coconut is browned.
Transfer this to the mixie with the earlier roasted powders and spices.
Grind the whole mix into a fine paste adding enough water.
Prepare the tamarind extract.Mix it with the ground paste and keep aside.

 *If you use Kokum or 'Kodampuli', rinse and soak them in a cup of warm water for 10-15 minutes. You need not extract the pulp. Keep aside.

Sura Meen Kuzhambu

Slice the onions. Slit chillies until 3/4th, lengthwise. Do not separate them.
Heat oil in a wide kadai or the one in which we roasted the ingredients earlier or a seasoned earthern pot. Splutter mustard seeds and brown the fenugreek seeds. Sauté sliced shallots until light brown followed by the green chillies and curry leaves.
Pour the ground mix carefully over the seasoning. (If you use Kokum, add at this point).
 Add a cup of water to dilute and add salt. Simmer the curry and slide in the fish pieces, gently. Continue to simmer until the pieces are cooked soft for 8-10 minutes, in medium flame keeping the kadai closed. Check salt and fish pieces whether cooked. Young sharks are tender and cook soon. If not, simmer in low fire until the oil separates!

Sura Meen Kuzhambu

Serve hot with steamed rice and chips or 'Pappadam'. The curry turns thicker, darker and tastier, the next day!


 Traditionally, we should use whole coriander seeds and red chillies for roasting in Set-1.I have used the powders instead. This doesn't alter theauthentic taste if roasted rightly. This is easier to grind as well, than the whole seeds.
Amma used a 'Manchatti' or an earthern pan in the very final part. The curry was kept closed in it and was reserved for the next day. :).

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