Friday, September 25, 2015

Not your everyday Vegan Banana Cake

First of all i would like to apologize to my Students who asked me more than 2 months ago for this recipe. I cooked for them a version of this banana cake and I couldn't find time to shoot and upload the recipe. I am sorry guys.

Coming back to this cake, this cake is an inspiration from one of the dishes I learnt from my Sister in Law. A much liked fritter in our family which is made when bananas are almost rotten and can't be consumed raw. Their skin is black and the flesh is brown and mushy. That is the perfect time to make that dish. I shall upload that recipe some time too.

For this cake I took not so brown bananas but they need to be ripe enough to be soft and mushy. I like to add my India spices to this cake along with Vanilla so that this cake almost tastes like it came from my in Laws kitchen. I make me yearn more to run to Banaras and meet all of them and cook for all of them and while this cake  baked in oven, my mind starts wandering in my house in Banaras where I find myself in the kitchen, in the Veranda, on the streets and ghats of Banaras with my beloved family. The taste is like my smiles and laughters and giggles of my family all in one bite. Okay enough of the walk down the memory lane.. Let go straight to the recipe because as I write, my mouth is already salivating and I am almost drifting towards daydreaming of how life could be when I would live in Banaras.

Vegan Banana Cake

Ingredients : 

Almost over ripe Bananas : 4
Plain Flour : 100 gms
Whole Wheat Flour : 80 gms
Baking Powder : 1 tsp
Baking Soda : 1/4 tsp
Salt : a pinch
Raw Sugar : 90 grams
Vanilla Essence : 1 tsp
Cardamom Powder : 1 tsp
Black Pepper : 1/4 tsp
Vegan Butter : 70 gms
Chopped Walnuts : 4 tbsp
Raisins : 4 tbsp
Dry Coconut shavings : 4 tbsp

Method : 

Firstly put the over to preheat at 180 degrees. Now mash the bananas into fine pulp. You will notice that when you start mashing the bananas, they will slowly start turning into paste. Its okay if you have little pea sized bits. So make sure that they bananas you are using are so ripe that they can be mashed easily into pulpy paste. Once its done, add your vegan butter, vanilla essence, cardamom powder and sugar and using a whisk, whisk it all together until sugar is almost dissolved and the mixture is homogeneous. You can also use coconut butter or oil and even any other flavorless oil in place of butter. I find butter given it a nice golden brown crust and make this cake more moist.

Now sift in all your dry ingredients except nut and raisin and fold them gently. Avoid over mixing the batter. The batter should be a little thicker than usual cake batter but thats okay. Just add a little water if you think the batter is more like dough. Fold in the nuts and raisin and transfer to greased loaf tin. You can bake these individually in muffin pan or bake these in a round tin.

Bake for 20-30 minutes and serve. If your serve this cake hot it  just tastes like banana fritter. There is another way of serving this cake. Refrigerate this cake overnight and then at time of serving slice it, apply butter on both side and grill it a little. Then a spread little jam over and serve. The Black pepper will give you a kick and the jam in the cake will cut through the richness  and it will taste like heaven. Trust me... Food heaven does have this cake on menu... 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Breadstreet Kitchen Singapore : Restaurant Review from Vegetarian's Palate

4.5/5 Rating

Ever since Gordon Ramsay Announced that he is going to open his flagship restaurant in Singapore, I had been waiting to pay a Visit. I finally got my chance last week on lunch as my husband works near by Marina Bay Sands lunch seemed just perfect. So here is my review on the Gordon Ramsay's Bread street Kitchen about everything.

Image Courtesy : Breadstreet Kichten Singapore

1. Reservation : Reservation is pretty easy and doesn't take much time which I quite liked about the restaurant given that there are many restaurants which take a lot of time to check if the seats are available or not. Start to finish, our call ended in less than 2 minutes. Like it!

2. On visit : There is always someone present to receive you and check your reservation. Throughout my time in Restaurant I kept noticing it thanks for my seat which overlooked the entrance. The spot was never unattended for more than 30 seconds. Brownie points for sincerity.

Open Kitchen and me all smiles
3.Ambience : We sat at level B of the restaurant, right in from of the open kitchen. It was quite adventurous for me as I wanted to see how Gordon Ramsay's kitchen functions, after all its visual school for home chefs like me! It was pretty awesome. Kitchen worked effortlessly or it looked like so which is commendable. Overall absence of the place is relaxed and casual and semi formal. Its perfect for corporate lunches, of casual dates, I have not seen the upper floor, I would be happy if the upper floor is more formal, perfect for dates and fine dining.

The open Kitchen
4. Food : Finally! Within few minutes of your being seated, you would be served worth bread basket consisting of in-house speciality breads like breadsticks, dinner rolls, baguette slices and crackers alongside with butter topped with a pinch of salt. You can ask for multiple servings and its not charges. The breads lived up to the name of the restaurant and they were unlike any other breads I have tasted, my favorite : Multi seeds crackers.  We ordered lunch to share from the vegetarian part , us being Vegetarians. You have limited options for Vegetarians. You will find 1-2 options in each category but do ask the staff if they can convert any dish to Vegetarian, they will be happy to help.

So apart from salads, what we ordered was pretty much all you could find in vegetarians options. Those are : 
Bread Basket with butter 
  1. Flatbread, Butternut Squash, Taleggio Cheese, Mushrooms, Pine nuts, Basil Pesto.
  2. Israeli Couscouse, Sweet Corn, Cranberries, Radish, Spring Onion, Mint.
  3. Risotto with giralle mushroom, peas,  green asparagus, aged parmesan
  4. Banana Sticky Toffee Pudding, Muscovado Caramel, Clotted Cream 
  5. Basil Drink( I think it was called Cosmopolitan, it was in a non alcoholic drink) Comment to this post if you know the name please.

I also ordered Garden Pea Soup with Creme fraiche and I didn't sea that it contained Spiced lobster. I returned and they neither minded nor charged for it. Very Generous! They also said that they could have suggested to convert soup into vegetarian had they know that we were vegetarians. So guys, let them know you are vegetarians and get more options from the Menu.
Peas Soup
The overall food was to die for. I am someone who is heard pin pointing out mistakes in the dish like it was not sautéed enough, the spices were added later instead of starting thats why it tastes like this or the dish still has some water flavor and not simmered enough. BUT! But I could not find flaws in this Restaurant. 

I heard Gordon Ramsay say in a Reality Show that a smart chef know how much to season the dish and does not leave it to the customer and you can taste it in his restaurants. So if you see a little extra oil in your dish, you will realize while eating that it was necessary like in couscous salad. The extra Olive oil added the mediterranean olive oil taste to the dish and was not just sitting around to add shine. There was a finesse in every dish which is expected from a Brand like Gordon Ramsay. 

Anything I would like to improve : More Vegetarian Options and a little more variety in flavor, dishes Scream British, obviously! All the dishes were subtly seasoned so one after the another your palate tastes similar taste profiles. 

Israeli Couscous, Sweet Corn, Cranberries, Radish, Spring Onion, Mint.
The Portion sizes were medium, if you want to share then you have to order more. One portion is only for one.

Prices are suited to the location and the Brand Name. So do not expect the total bill less than a hundred dollar. We spent around SGD 150/- for a lunch which was pretty much okay provided the fact that we gorged on unlimited servings on bread basket. 

Banana Sticky Toffee Pudding, Muscovado Caramel, Clotted Cream 

Overall, Breadstreet Kitchen is one nice place where you want to take your clients for lunch, business meetings and also for your evening dates. For dates, book a seat on upper desk facing the lovely Marina Bay sunsets and light and sound shows.

In Shot here are some Pros & Cons :

Pros :

  1. Food is amazing
  2. Great Ambience
  3. Breads are to die for and they are unlimited.
Cons : 
  1. Limited choices for Vegetarians
  2. No Vegan stuff if you are Vegan
  3. Portion and Price could be better. But Hey! its The Gordon Ramsay!

Suggest me more Restaurants if you want more reviews. Btw next restaurant review is Joie by Dozo.

Kind Note : Please do not use the images provided here without consent or credit.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Whole Wheat Methi Mathri(Fenugreek Crisps)

There is something magical about moments. When you are living them, you don't realize that you are going to remember them and this quality makes the moments special. 

Our Evening Tea time at my Mom's house used to be quite an affair. We Punjabis take every meal very seriously! Evening Tea is no any less. This was the time when most of us would come back home from our work, school, college etc, and  we would see our family after hours. Did I tell you we Punjabi's are full of Drama and and Melodrama too? Starting to miss the family after 7-9 hours no matter how much irritating we find our family, is something I have inherited in my genes!

So this time of the day at around 6:30-7:30pm, we would be having our tea with Macaroni made Punjabi style, Bambinos, Sandwiches,  Poha etc etc and if these things are taking too much of time then we would have mini evening tea before our evening snack which would most preferably be with Biscuits and "Methi Mathri". All of my family members would simply have tea with biscuit and mathri except me!  I have my own separate ritual of having Methi Mathri.

This thin crispy, flaky thing we mostly bought from market.  To me the room temperature mathri gave no enjoyment. I would quietly get up and heat Tawa(griddle) on medium low just when I would  see Mumma starting to make tea and put on the griddle, 4 pieces + 4 Pieces in case anyone else wants it too which they always did. By the time tea was ready, the flakiness which we call "Khastapan" for such food items would be blooming and warm mathri would have whole new taste! I relished this treat with always present in my house : Mint Coriander Chutney! It was an intimate affair between me and my warm melt in mouth Methi Mathri! 

I never though that such simple and negligible act of relishing a small piece of mathri would leave such cherished memory that I would actually miss that in Singapore. Here, its difficult to find such thin flaky Mathri, so I tried to attempt it on my own with few healthier variation, making it with Whole Wheat. It turned out just amazing! So sharing a little piece of my magical memories in form of the recipe below : 

Whole Wheat Methi Mathri

Ingredients : 

  1. Whole Wheat Flour : 1 cup
  2. Plain Flour : 1/4 Cup
  3. Fenugreek Leaves (Frozen and thawed) : 1/2 cup 
  4. Oil : 2 Tbsp
  5. Carom Seeds (Ajwain) : 1/2 tsp
  6. Salt : 1 tsp
  7. Water : to knead a tight dough 
  8. Oil  : to fry

Method :

In a wide bowl, sift together Salt and flours. I took 1/4 plain flour to bring out the flakiness in the Mathri. I feel that the whole wheat flour is too dense to become flaky and crispy. Add Carom seeds, Fenugreek Leaves, 2 tbsp Oil and salt and rub the mixture with hands. Slowly and gradually add the water and knead into a tight dough. The dough should be between crumbly and cohesive, just like pie crust. Let it rest for 30 min. ( I used frozen and thawed fenugreek leaves here because as per my experience, if you use fresh fenugreek leaves, they will be high in surface area and you would be able to use less of them whereas if you freeze them and then use,  use more hence more flavor and also you would be able to manage them well into dough.
After dough is rested well, heat oil in a thick bottom pan to deep fry. In the mean while make coin sized balls of the dough and press them between your hands to flatten them up. The thickness should be 1/2 inch or just that of a need them thin enough so that they don't tear when you lift them. 
Keep the oil on medium low and drop the discs into it. When you drop them, you should see tiny bubbles only and now like big bubbles when you make french fires or stuff like that. Try not to crowd  these and make them in batched. These will take 10 minutes per batch. Keep turning them every 2 min to make sure the browning is even on each side. 
If you are impatient like me, you can baby sit these for 5 min and arrange them in one layer on a baking sheet after 5 minutes and once all discs are cooking in deep fryer for 5 minutes, bake them in one layer on a baking sheet on 150 degrees for 1 hour. 
This will do two things for you  : 
 1. You do not have to stand for 1 hour frying these crisps.
2. Baking will drench out a little oil from them.
Only down side is that they flakiness you get from slow fried crisp will be 80% when baked. I find half fry and half bake method preferable as its less strenuous to the lazy person like me. Whatever method you choose, make sure you let them cool down to room temperature fore storing them and store them in air tight container. These will last for about a month. Try eating them with my method. I am sure you will also love that.. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cheese and Chocolate Truffles

Caution : Addictive food Ahead.

Yes you read it right... Two of the most addictive things in the world.. indeed make an addictive truffle in the world... Now if you  have tasted red velvet cake then you know what magic cream cheese creates as a frosting... and if you have had ravioli, you would know what spell Ricotta does on you... and Chocolate... I mean.. Hello! I am still looking for a person who would resist a tiny miny piece of chocolate... Even the one who claim they don't like chocolate( hush hush.. I do make that claim) do not say no to a small piece of it.. 

So, I had these ingredients lying around my refrigerator and I wanted to consume them in an un conventional way... So I started mixing and matching and voila! I created one of the most amazing sweet treats I have ever tasted in my life.... Its easy.. Its delicious and it involves no cooking.. umm yaa but few seconds in Microwave.. Not sure if that would count as cooking... Anyways... Make this and you will be hooked.... 

Ingredients : 

  1. Cream Cheese (Room Temperature) : 1/4 cup
  2. Ricotta Cheese (Room Temperature) : 1/4 cup
  3. Mixed Dried Fruits& Cherries : 2 tbsp
  4. Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips : 1/4 cup
  5. Vanilla Essence : 1 tsp
  6. Coco Powder : 4 Tbsp
  7. Powdered Sugar : 1/4 cup

To Coat/Garnish : 

  1. Coconut Flakes
  2. Coco Powder

Method : 

Mix everything together very well and microwave for 1 minute. Make sure your cheese are at room temperature otherwise, the truffles would be uneven and the flavor will not be able to develop. The last thing you want is to taste bland ricotta in your chocolate truffle. If required, used hands to make sure the mixture if well combined. 

Once cooled enough to handle, make small balls of this mixture, you can use 1.2 teaspoon measuring spoon to measure uniformly. Coat in coconut flakes and Coco powder and set to chill in an air tight container for 1-2 hours. Its ready....  Enjoy with anything, before or after anything... 

P.S : Do not keep it in a transparent container at an eye level of your refrigerator, otherwise overtime you open your fridge, your hand will automatically grab a piece. Do it at your own risk. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Vegan Mee Siam... So Shiok!

Living in Singapore for past 6 years has given me a lot. There is so much to this little island that one can easily spend lifetime discovering it and yet not getting bored...

When I came across this website : I was blown away that I am lagging so far behind discovering this place full of surprises. So I decided to start digging in my food  journey here and start sharing my experiences.

I discovered Mee Siam very late in Singapore... I was always hesitant at trying Local dishes as they were almost all Non Vegetarian. We in a fix to eat maximum we tried Vegetarian Mee Goreng where we had to always tell twice about No Meat, No Fish, No Chicken and No Egg. Then this Cafe opened up near my office which was Vegan and I found courgae to go an try. There I found Mee Siam which made me a Punjabi Forget Rajma Chawal. Which made me an Italian Lover forget Pasta and thing what was I doing all this while without Mee Siam!

Mee Simply means Noodles and here its Rice Noodles and Siam is a region in Thailand Basically the dish originated there but today's Mee Siam is an evolved version of Chinese and Malay Indians. Traditionally its made with a curry base, (So Thai). This paste is made with Dried Shrimps, Dried Red Chillies, Tamarind, Sugar,  Galangal , Lengongrass and load and Loads of Garlic. This gravy is topped with Prawns, Fish balls, Boiled Eggs, Tofu and Spring Onions. So its basically a Non Vegetarian Dish. But I loved the Vegan Version I tried at the Cafe and so I was determined to get the same flavors at my home kitchen and I pleasantly did achieve it. My recipe is inspired by Since I am really bad at following recipe, I referred her for ingredients and made few... okay lots of changes to the method of preparations and added and modified few ingredients too in order to achieve the taste I fell in Love with ... <3

Here is how I did it :

Ingredients (Makes 4 generous portions) : 

For the Paste : 
  1. Dried Red Chilies : 5-6
  2. Fresg Red Chilied : 1-2(used to add pop of color)
  3. Garlic : 10-12
  4. Ginger : 2 inch 
  5. Onion : 2 medium sized

For Spicy Bee Hoon(Rice Noodles) :

  1. A pack of Bee Hoon( I bought a 400 g pack)
  2. Spice paste : 4 tbsp 
  3. Tauco (Fermented/preserved Soy Beans) : 4 tbsp
  4. Bean Sprouts : 1 cup
  5. Oil : 2 tbsp
  6. Sal tto Taste

For the Gravy : 

  1. Remaining Paste
  2. Sugar : 2 tbsp
  3. Jaggery : 2 tbsp
  4. Tauco (Fermented/preserved Soy Beans) : 4 tbsp
  5. Pan Fried Tofu Cubes : 200 gm
  6. Coconut Milk : 1 cup*
  7. Water : 2 cups
  8. Oil : 4 tbsp
  9. Salt : to taste

For Garnish : 

  1. Tofu Puffs :1 cup
  2. Chives(Roughly Chopped) : 1 cup
  3. Bean Sprouts : 1/4 cup
  4. Crushed Peanuts.

Method : 

Let me inform you first that, this is a dish needs to be cooked in steps and that makes this dish a lengthy process. So to ease yourself,  you can cook few things in advance like the paste. For paste, soak the red chilies in hot water for about 30 minutes. Then grind it with rest of the ingredients into a fine paste. ( You migh want to cover your nose at this point onwards as I forgot too)

Heat oil in a wok for Bee Hoon and cook 2 tbsp of the paste for 5-7 minutes Add  tauco, salt, Bean Sprouts and mix well, add bee hoon and mix well to combine. Take of the heat and set aside.

For gravy/broth, you can use same wok, just wipe it with a kitchen towel first to ensure no bits of bee hoon are remaining or they will burn. Heat  oil and cook the paste for 10-15 min(it would take longer now because of the quantity). Make sure your nose is well covered while cooking the spice paste or chilies will burn your nose... like a lot. Once thoroughly cook which means you would be able to see oil on sides of the paste, add Tauco, sugar, Jaggery, Tofu cubes and salt. Cook for about 1 min and then add the coconut milk and water and let boil. Tauco might break down while cook but don't worry, its okay...

Taste the gravy/broth and adjust sweet, sour, and saltiness as per your taste. It should taste like a burst of all the flavors in you mouth and your mind should go like wohohoo I want more.. Once we feel like this, turn off the heat.

Now in a large bowl, Firstly place the bee hoon and top it with the gravy generously. Garnish with tofu Puffes, Chives Bean Sprouts and Crushed Peanuts and forget everything and just eat... and find yourself in food heaven... :)

Let me know if this dish made you feel as divine as it does to me.... 

Note : I could not find Vegan Fish Balls but they taste amazing in this dish. If you can find please do add them. You can also put the puffs for 2 minutes in microwave to make them taste and look like croutons for extra crunch.

* I haven't seen any recipe using coconut milk but I like its creaminess and subtle sweetness suit my tastebuds It makes the gravy/Broth more aromatic and easy on palate.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Cauliflower Couscous

I have been very attached to Middle Eastern Cuisine for a very long time. I am not sure what exactly attracts me towards this cuisine. Its Rustic style... from the ground cooking... closeness to Fire...earthy feel.. no.. not sure.. may be all of these... may be because I see my country's kitchens in these kitchens... Ladies cooking tens and hundreds of flatbreads... and cooking on the floor.... and many more cooking styles.

Whatever it may be.. I am quiet biased towards Middle Eastern Cuisine... So much so that whenever I cook it.. it makes me feel like I have been there done that though I have never been to middle east and there is no question of cooking in their kitchens...

Couscous is one of my favorite dish.. Its easy, its fragrant with herbs... it has pure authentic Middle Eastern ingredients. Of lately I have been reading a lot about replacing Cauliflower with the Couscous.. I though to myself why.. its anyways healthy and that is main reason I had been reluctant to try it. Until on e fine day when Hubby dear bought an overload of Cauliflower. With extra on hand.. I thought to try it and to my surprise.. It came out amazingly light and delicious.. I didn't miss the Couscous.. Basically loved it... and the best part.. Its Vegan!

So here is the recipe :

Ingredients  : 

Cauliflower Florets : 2 Cups
Turmeric : 1 tsp
Salt : 1 tsp
Black Pepper : 1/2 tsp
Red Wine Vinegar : 2 tsp
Agave Nectar : 2 tsp
Pomegranate Seeds  : 2 tbsp
Cashews : 2 tbsp
Almonds : 2 tbsp
Dry Coconut Chips : 2 tbsp
Mint  (roughly torn): 2 tbsp
Coriander  (roughly torn): 2 tbsp
Coconut Oil : 1 tbsp

Method :

Blanch the florets and let dry. Then in a food processor, roughly pulse them, it should hardly take 10 seconds. Now in a frying pan, roast the cauliflower couscous with turmeric for about 3-4 min. and let cool. We added turmeric just to give cauliflower that yellowish color of couscous.

Now in a pan heat coconut oil and light roast Cashews, Almonds and Coconut Chips for about 2-3 min. We just want to activate the oils on the nut an make them nuttier.

Now in a serving bowl casually dump in everything and mix well. I cut the step of making the dressing of agave, vinegar etc etc because i see no difference in taste if I separately mix it. You can mix if you wish to..

Let it sit and let the flavors develop for around 15 min. and eat, enjoy.. relish the goodness... of guilt free flavors...

P.S. : Adjust seasoning as per your taste.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Easy Vegan Granola Bars

Have you ever gone through insane hunger pangs? Like the ones when you are so hungry that you can eat anything but still do not know what to think what to eat? If your answer is yes then Shake Hands.. We belong to same league.... hehe...

Granola Bars1

I still remember the days before marriage when I used to come home from The Great Traffic Jam of Ring Road of Delhi at 7:30pm in the evening hungry like anything... and Mumma was ready to do pooja for the evening... I would come home tired and hungry and mumma would silently chanting her evening prayers with only her lips moving would signal me to freshen up. She would have put water for tea for me... and by the time I would freshen up she would be done with prayers and would ask me what would I eat.. and I would irritatingly say anything and she would give me options... and I would get angry and say please anything but don't ask because i don't want anything but I can eat anything... (Even I don't know what does that mean.. ) She would quickly go and get something to eat for me... 

Fast forward to life after marriage.... Now I have keep things in store for me for such occasions as I am the only one to ask myself and I am the only one who who has to bear my own tantrums... So better cut the chase and keep something handy and healthy. 

These Vegan Granola Bars are my go to food when I don't want to eat anything but I can eat anything... They are good.. healthy... delicious.. no sugar  and I can eat one or two of them and they will satiate my hunger and keep me going... They are so easy to make.. and so good to keep in refrigerator for weeks...

P.S. : I still throw tantrums whenever I go back to see Mumma  [:)]

Here is my version of Granola Bars.. VEGAN....

Granola bars5

Ingredients : 

Baby Oats - 2 cups
Sunflower Seeds : 1/4 cup
Pumpkin Seeds : 1/4 cup
Silvered Almonds : 1/4 cup
Chopped Walnuts : 1/4 cup
Coconut Flakes : 1/4 cup
Coconut Oil : 1 tbsp
Raisins : 1/4 cup
Pitted Dates : 2 cups
Agave Nectar : 4 tbsp
Cinnamon Powder : 1 tbsp
Salt and Pepper : a pinch

Method : 

Toast Oats, Almonds, Walnuts, Sunflower and Pumkin Seeds in a pan or you can toast then in oven a 180 degrees for 10 min. In the meanwhile, put dates in food processor and pulse them till they become dough like... its okay if there are few bits and pieces left....

Now in a large bowl, mix everything together. Check if the mixture is sticking together.. we don't want it to fall apart. If it does sprinkle a little water on it. Now line a 8x8 baking pan with baking paper and spread the mixture as evenly as possible. Bake it in the oven for 15-20 min or until the house smells awesome and the bars are little goldeny browny on the top.

Take out of the oven and cut into desired shapes and let cool. Store in air tight containers and enjoy whenever you want. 

Tip : Put it in refrigerator where you can see them first thing so that when you raid your refrigerator in the middle of the night.. you just grab them even if your eyes are shut.. hehe..