Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Recipe of the Month: Masala Chai (Spice-Infused Indian Milk Tea)

Okay so before you roll your eyes at me for featuring a 'chai' (tea) recipe, please hear me out. Not everyone can make a decent cup of tea (and note that I'm strictly talking about the Indian-style of milk tea here). I certainly couldn't for an embarrassingly long period of time. During the instances that I would have guests over and they would request for tea upon my persistence for a hot beverage, I would break into a cold sweat! Even now I don't consider myself good at making tea. Whoops! I know that is a damaging statement that questions my credibility as a recipe provider but please trust me when I say that this Masala Chai (which is made by brewing black tea with an assortment of aromatic Indian spices) turns out pretty great. My sister and parents will vouch for that!

I have been and always will be a coffee addict. I find that I am unable to start my day without coffee. I'd imagine terrible things happening to me if I don't get my caffeine fix from a cup of frothy filter coffee. Most of my teenage years and all of adult life has gone by drinking cup after cup of coffee so you can understand why I owe allegiance to this beverage. In stark contrast, my tryst with drinking tea has been a fairly recent one....probably only since the past 5 years or so. And this happens only when I am in India because there are a fair share of tea drinkers in the family and I feel rotten to be the odd one out by demanding for coffee. My mum and my sister love tea and they are almost wholly responsible for making me love this beverage. Most of the time it is regular tea that we drink but occasionally the masala version makes an appearance and that really puts a spring in my step!

I haven't yet featured a drink on the blog and I have been thinking about it for a while. For my first drink recipe, I imagined making something fancy on the lines of a mocha latte, salted caramel hot chocolate, an exotic summer cooler, a healthy smoothie or a fruity sangria. Well, clearly that didn't happen! The reason I decided to feature this recipe was because I needed to post something on the blog while holidaying in India. I had exhausted all my favours for guest posts so it time for me to get off my backside and start the ball rolling. I was scouting for something that was simple & easy to make, that was apt for the winter season, didn't require me to go grocery shopping and would highlight common household Indian pantry staple ingredients. BAM! Masala Chai! What is more popular, simpler, suitable on a cold day and quintessentially Indian than that? Moreover, I didn't have my Canon EOS 40D camera or my arsenal of trusty props so I had to settle on using my iPhone and whatever I could find available to jazz things up. I felt like a drink would be more forgiving with regard to compromised photography!

I have previously made my own spice blend for Masala Chai but it was a very random mixture of spices. I didn't have a set recipe for it. So, when I made it while I was at home in Mysore, I developed a recipe for it and tested it out on two occasions. The feedback I got was good enough for me to stick with it so here it is! Make this Masala Chai for yourself and revel in the warmth of these exotic Indian spices 

On a parting note, this will be my last post this year so wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy the holidays peeps. I shall meet you again next year with more recipes, reviews, reflections and ramblings!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Special: Nigella's Ultimate Christmas Pudding

Christmas is in the air! Unfortunately where I'm at right now, a lot more is in the air and water and heaven knows where else. All of us at home recently fell prey to a nasty stomach bug (which is apparently doing the rounds) and are on the road to recovery. Following an entire day of violently ejecting anything I ate and not being able to keep anything down, I had to finally go to the hospital for a shot. After that my dad, mum and sister took turns to follow suit. The poor kids weren't spared either. But they bounced back much better than us adults and seem to be in high spirits despite the health upset. Probably the copious rehydration, rest, timely meds and round-the-clock TLC contributed greatly! The good thing is that after 3-4 days of pure misery, things are looking up and hopefully we will all be in the pink of health just in time to enjoy Christmas and New Year. Fingers crossed!

If you overlooked the last post on the blog which was a guest post for German Christmas Markets you need to go check it out right away! After I called in a favour with my sister-in-law (and fellow blogger) to do a guest post, I asked my husband to do the same. I wanted a dessert post in time for Christmas but I knew it was a little unfair to ask him since he doesn't do desserts. I went ahead and asked him anyway....cheeky me! He is the official gulab jamun maker of our household but the only time he made a western dessert was when he attempted a sticky toffee pudding a long time ago (which I thought was decent but he deemed it unsatisfactory). He said that he would think about it and after that I didn't badger him further. 

So you can imagine my surprise and delight when he sent me these pictures along with the recipe last week ☺ At first I didn't believe that he had made this himself! The poor dear had spent an entire weekend researching, shopping & making this attractive looking dessert for my blog and even took the time to take a few step-by-step pics and decorate it according to the Christmas theme. I have no doubts whatsoever that my husband loves me very much! It is another matter that he invited a bunch of his buddies home to give him company to polish off the pudding hahaha  ☺ Killing two birds with one pud! Smart move, no?

Okay so I'm done with my jibber-jabber. Over to the new dessert king of our household....

Greetings readers! It looks like you will be hearing from me once every year. This is the third post I am doing for Megha's blog and I must say one that I wasn't the least bit confident about. As she has already mentioned, desserts are hardly my forte. I love eating them at any time of the day but am quite clueless when it comes to making them. The lack of motivation to learn stems from the fact that she loves to bake and hence at any given point of time, there is no shortage of desserts at home. There are a few savoury dishes that I cook at home on a regular basis which form the foundation of my culinary expertise. I do experiment with other dishes every now and then (with varying degrees of success) but those end up being savoury as well. When she said she would like me to make a dessert for her blog, I was quite sure it was a bad idea. Nevertheless I decided to give it a shot. One has to make a start someday! 

I'd like to share with you a few pointers while making this steamed pudding. I chose this pudding mainly because it was in-keeping with the season and also because Nigella is a name we both trust when it comes to simple and hearty recipes. When I sent Megha the recipe, she was incredulous at the amount of time it took to make and was like - "You steamed that thing for 8 hours?! Are you crazy?". Like Nigella states, 8 hours combined cooking time might seem awfully time-consuming but it’s not as if you need to do anything to it in that time. The steaming of the pudding is done in two batches on different days so it really isn't as bad as it sounds. The recipe is quite simple and as long as you don't have plans to leave the house (you need to keep an eye on the pudding every hour or so as it is steaming), you don't need to worry about the time. For a guy like me who has only ever made one dessert in his life before making this one - if I can do it then anyone can! 

Another important point I want to mention before moving on - the original recipe states that a heatproof plastic pudding basin with a lid is required but I didn't have that so I used a plain old stainless steel basin. I covered it with a layer of clingwrap and then a layer of foil to ensure it would be watertight. I used a giant wok which I filled with water and placed the metal basin to complete the steamer setup. It worked pretty well and even reduced the combined cooking time from 8 hours to 6 hours. I have provided the original recipe in case you would like to try it out the intended way but you can take heart in the fact that improvisation is indeed possible!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. You will hear more from me next year! For now, do check out this seemingly intimidating but very easy Christmas Pudding recipe 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas Special: German Christmas Markets - A Guest Post by Reshma @ like a lavendeR

When I knew that I was going to be in India for well over two months at the end of the year, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to prepare enough draft posts to keep the blog going. So, I decided to call in a favour!  I wanted to contact a fellow blogger who I was acquainted with, who was actively blogging and whose work I could trust well enough to feature on my virtual home. I must admit that there was only one name that came to my mind and that was Reshma. She is much more than an acquaintance....she is family. She is my cousin’s wife and over the years, my interaction with her has been so much that she has always seemed like part of our family. I am genuinely fond of this girl and I am so happy she took time out from her busy schedule to do a guest post for my blog  She is new to the blogosphere but if she keeps going like how she has been in the limited time that she has been a blogger, I see her going far! Reshma is a designer, an artist and a collector who currently resides in Germany. Her blog titled ‘like a lavendeR' showcases her many interests which include cooking, travel, home decor and much more. I think promising bloggers should be encouraged so make sure you follow the very talented Reshma on her Facebook page, Pinterest & Instagram to get updates on her amazing work. 

Woohoo… I am super enthusiastic and nervous at the same time about this post as it will be my first ever guest post. Thank you Megha for giving me this opportunity.

Greetings "Me in blogland" readers,
I am Reshma Vadiraj from Bangalore, currently living in Stuttgart, Germany. I am a new blogger who is still learning the ropes when it comes to blogging. I write about my travels, food and hobbies.

I am an admirer of Megha's blog and also like her personally. She is a very simple, fun loving and a well organised gal! I like the way she writes and her post 'A Letter to my Daughters on their first Birthday' was very touching. I always follow her Akki Rotti recipe and many other  delicious recipes and my son is a huge fan of  her Chocolate Brownies.
For my guest post, allow me to ignite your imagination. Picture a beautifully lit up sky, a vibrant festive atmosphere, sparkly christmas trees, gleaming rows of brightly illuminated stalls, the enticing aroma of cinnamon, vanilla, roasted almonds, glühwine and the cheery hum of people connecting with each other....the historic and traditional Christmas Markets have come to my part of the world!!!

Let me take you on a tour to the dazzling Christmas Market of Stuttgart and surrounding areas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

My Photo Gallery: Twice Upon a Time

I said I would do a photo gallery featuring my little girls didn't I? Well, here it is! I thought what better time to publish this post then soon after their first birthday. 

I didn't want to do a write-up for this post. I wanted it to be all about the pictures because pictures speak a thousand words, don't they? But rather than it being a steady stream of photos, I thought it would be nice to intersperse the photos with some of my favourite quotes on motherhood, baby & children. Some of these quotes are from known authors but there are others for which the authors are unknown. I just left the acknowledgement out just for the sake of maintaining consistency. So to reiterate, these are quotes that I stumbled across the internet and have nothing to do with me  

This is not my girls debut appearance on my blog. They have been the highlight of a blog post some time following their birth which you can read here if interested. These photos were taken in the past one year - most of them at home and a few outdoors.

If the thought had crossed your mind, I intentionally chose to keep the faces of my children obscure in this post. It is my way of sharing with the world my love for them through the camera lens while still maintaining some degree of anonymity.