Saturday, April 18, 2015

Recipe of the Month: Spinach Masala Pongal

Pongal is one of my all-time favourite comfort foods. It is the South-Indian cousin of the well-known Khichri/Khichdi which is popular throughout North India and Pakistan. This amazingly simple dish of pressure cooked lentils and rice with subtle spices and fried cashewnuts is not only flavourful but hearty and balanced too. Not counting the days when I'm sick, I can devour bowlfuls of this golden-yellow hued rice dish topped with homemade ghee on any given day. My mum knows all too well my hankering for this dish so she makes it a point to make it for me whenever I'm in Mysore. My husband on the other hand, isn't such a fan so the occasions where I made pongal at home in Singapore had started to become few and far between.

My mum passed me a neatly handwritten recipe for this Spinach Masala Pongal a long time ago. It was so long ago that I didn't even remember that it existed! I was rummaging through my cookbooks one day, and came across the recipe. I thought why not give it a go and tested it out that very night. Out of habit, I changed the recipe to suit my own preferences. The original recipe called for sliced eggplants and garam masala but I skipped both ingredients and decided to incorporate some coconut milk for added flavour. I wasn't expecting to get any kind of reaction from my husband for this dish so I was shocked when he came back for seconds and even asked me to make it again! Since then, this Spinach Masala Pongal has featured as a staple on our weekday dinner menu. I even pack it in our lunchboxes to take to work. He likes it with garlic pickle but I prefer it as it is. During the first trimester of my pregnancy when I had a lot of food aversions and was retching on a regular basis, this was the one rice dish that I could wolf down without any problems and so I made it a ridiculous number of times then. I made it for my in-laws last month in Singapore and then made it again for my parents and cousin at home in Mysore a few days ago and it got a big thumbs up 

The cover photo isn't great but don't judge the recipe by its cover (tee...hee). This is a really yummy one-pot meal so I hope you make it for your family and friends. Who knows, it might make a regular appearance on your lunch/dinner menu too!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Baker's Corner: Mini Jammy Cakes

After what seems like eternity, I am in India! Hooray! I'm introducing my little ones to my hometown, to the house I grew up in, to my friends and family, to our culture and traditions and to everything that makes me look forward to going back home ☺ The girls were a dream on the flight from Singapore to Bangalore and were equally good on the drive to Mysore which took place immediately after. Not a peep out of either of them throughout the long journey! I must thank my lucky stars! In the coming weeks, they have quite a number of things lined up - their cradle ceremony, getting their ears pierced, their naming ceremony and their uncle's wedding. It is going to be an eventful first holiday for them as it is going to involve considerable travel and meeting a lot of new faces. I hope it doesn't upset their routine too much. Fingers crossed!

It was hubby's birthday last month and as preoccupied as I was with the girls, I still wanted to bake him a cake. I didn't have much time to browse through my numerous cookbooks so I grabbed the first book I laid my eyes on and settled on a recipe that looked easy to make. It was a recipe for these Mini Jammy Cakes. I'd never made mini cakes before so I thought I'd give it a go. From start to finish, the whole process took less than an hour and the cakes themselves were quite good. I reduced the quantity of sugar in the recipe since my in-laws were around and preferred their desserts not overly sweet so they were able to enjoy it too. The recipe calls for ground mixed spice and since I didn't have any ready made spice mix with me, I made my own using cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder, ground cardamom and cloves. From what information I found online, cardamom is not typically found in ground mixed spice but I heavily recommend that you use it because it gives that lovely perfume to the cakes. But then again, not many people are crazy about the flavour of cardamom in their desserts so its your call. This is a great dessert to whip up for tea time or when you have guests coming over.

I'll probably feature one of my mum's and MIL's signature dishes in the coming weeks while I am still here so keep a look out for that! 


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Tale of Two Babies!

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.

- Jessica Lange

I wanted to do a post on motherhood and my fraternal twin girls but as you can see, it has taken me a while to do that! My munchkins were born on November 10th 2014 and since then, life has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride! Each day has been a constant cycle of feeding, burping, changing diapers, playtime and naps. Looking after two babies at the same time is a round-the-clock job and I never imagined that I would get any time to myself in the near future. But turns out that my girls (who are nearly 5 months old) are not terribly difficult to manage and as long as we stick to their well-established routine, they fill up their tummies, look forward to playtime, interact with us, enjoy their baths, sleep well and are seldom cranky. So far so good....I fervently hope things stay the same!