January 31, 2012

Donna Hay’s Creamy Cauliflower Soup & Some Photography

S
oup has long been my Achilles’ heel when it comes to cooking. I don’t know if it is because I am not particularly fond of soups, or because they’re not a part of our traditional food repertoire,  or it’s just something else, but 5 times out of 10, my soups just don’t make the grade.

What is so difficult about making soup?  Soup making is no rocket science but I know my daughter’s got a point when she sometimes tells me, “Amma, there’s something not quite right with your soups”!
The cool December-January weather and the occasional chill in the air means it’s definitely season for soup. Given that we live in a hot, sticky tropical climate, soups are not really something we have and tend to be more of an adopted culinary fashion.
I’m still a rather wary soup maker but I continue to persevere as my husband and our daughter both enjoy soup. I am told practise makes perfect, and it seems my soup making skills have seen a lot of improvement in recent times, which is a good thing as I see most soups as one dish meals that maybe just need some bread to complete them.




[Photograph details : Shot handheld with a 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens (Canon) at Aperture -f/ 5.0, shutterspeed – 1/ 30s and ISO – 320. Used software to crop a bit, increase brightness and a bit of contrast.]
And when making soup is coupled with pushing my photography a bit further, I’m all for polishing my skills both in the kitchen and behind the camera. This month’s challenge involves cauliflower soup.
Cauliflower is something that I cook at least once a week, especially now since it is the season for it. Stir-fried cauliflower, Indian style and sometimes with green peas and / or potatoes, is a favourite with my daughter. When I mentioned cauliflower to both the soup lovers here they seemed a bit unsure with the idea., but my md was made up as I had a photograph to create!



[Photograph details : Shot handheld with a 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens (Canon) at Aperture - f/ 4.0, shutterspeed – 1/ 100s and ISO – 400. Used software to crop a bit, increase brightness and a bit of contrast, and a colour filter.]
Simone has been blogging a monthly Donna Hay Styling & Photography challenge (DHSPC) for a few months now.  In case you haven’t heard of her, Donna Hay is a very well-known Australian food stylist, author, and magazine editor. Her signature style whether in cooking or styling food is simple, uncluttered and beautiful. I hadn’t heard of her till about a couple of years ago when I saw her magazine and then saw her on Masterchef Australia and now on Fast, Fresh And Simple.
I have been feeling the need to push the boundaries that my food photography has set for itself and challenging myself this way seemed to be a good idea. I finally managed to join the challenge this month. This month Simone picked Donna Hay’s “CreamyCauliflower Soup” from Issue 51 of her magazine. The original photograph in her magazine is by Ben Dearnley and styled by Justine Pool.
The challenge involves re-creating the recipe with as little change as possible, and then trying to recreate (not copy) the accompanying photograph.
I’ll talk about the photograph first and then go onto the soup recipe. Ben Dearnley is an amazing food photographer and this particular photograph of the soup has a lot of dark tones, quite unlike the photographs one usually sees in the magazine.



Ben Dearnley's photograph from the magazine (Courtesy: Simone of Junglefrog Cooking)

Looking at the photograph, the light is coming in from the top right most likely from a big window. To me, the light seems rather harsh on the right (one third) and very dark on the left (two thirds) where very little detail is visible. I found the fold of fabric on the right in the front, near the bowl, rather distracting and didn’t like the idea of wrapping thread/ wool around the spoon handle.




Re-creating the photograph posed a few obstacles for me. I just couldn’t get the light the way it was in the photograph, and I didn’t have any material in either the colour (blue) or texture (crepe paper or similar cloth). I also noticed that the white stains/ splashes in the original were of white paint on a black board and decided not to replicate that.
So I used a dark black shawl at the base and a reddish brown cloth napkin under the black bowl, and left my spoon plain. The light in my photograph is also from the right ( a window), and I used no reflectors or anything to block the light.
I found the soup dressed with the cauliflower crumbs a bit monotonous so I sprinkled the soup with a bit of red chilli flakes to add a point of interest. I find my cloth napkin a bit distracting too, and am not very happy with the end result but it was the best I could do given that I shot the picture this morning!
I then tried a slightly different composition prop-wise with the light coming from the same direction. I’m not very happy with this one either and am wondering if the print on the scarf is distracting. What do you think?


[Photograph details : Shot handheld with a 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens (Canon) at Aperture - f/ 5.0, shutterspeed – 1/ 25s and ISO – 320. Used software to crop a bit, increase brightness and a bit of contrast and a colour filter.]

The photography part is done and now it is time for the soup itself. I did scale down the recipe (the recipe below is the full one) a bit for convenience. I left out the cream from the original recipe as the soup was quite thick and creamy without it after blending. This made for a healthier soup too. Finding fresh thyme at the market here takes a bit of luck, so I used the dry version of the herb. The recipe below is my adapted version of the original.
Blame it on my Indian palate, but I found the soup a bit bland so I added a bit of garam masala while cooking it and finished it off with a sprinkling of red chilli flakes to add some colour as well as some “spice”. The soup was pretty good and the Parmesan cauliflower crumbs, especially so. I now have one more soup which I think I made quite well.

Donna Hay’s Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients:

25gm butter
1 large onion,  chopped
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 bay leaf
1 head of cauliflower (about 6 cups florets)
About 3 cups peeled and diced starchy potatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
2 cups milk
3/4 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
Crushed white pepper to taste
Red chilli flakes for garnishing
about 1/2 to 3/4 tsp dried thyme (or 4-6 sprigs fresh thyme)

Parmesan cauliflower crumbs:
1 cup chopped cauliflower florets
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

Method:

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme (if using fresh thyme) and bay leaf and cook for 5-8 minutes or until onion has softened. Add the cauliflower, potato, vegetable stock and milk, increase heat to medium and cook for 25-30 minutes or until cauliflower and potato is tender.
Alternatively finish this part of the cooking in the Microwave for about 10 minutes at 100% power. If using dried thyme, add at this point with the garam masala and mix well.
Remove from the heat and, using a mixer-blender/ hand-held blender, blend until smooth. Stir in the salt and pepper. Warm the soup before serving and garnish with Parmesan cauliflower crumbs and red chilli flakes if desired.
While the soup is cooking, make the Parmesan cauliflower crumbs. Place the cauliflower florets, olive oil and grated Parmesan in a bowl and toss to combine. Heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Put the cauliflower-oil-Parmesan into the hot pan and cook, stirring for 2 minutes or until golden and crisp.  Top soup with cauliflower crumbs to serve.
This recipe serves 4.


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January 27, 2012

Scones Rule! Strawberries And Cream Scones & Carrot And Herb Scones : Daring Bakers Challenge January, 2012

I
almost thought I would see January out with just one blog post for the month! I had actually started out with intentions to blog regularly starting this year but that didn’t happen. So, in case you were wondering, you now know why I never make New Year resolutions. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you thought I had decided to give up blogging altogether seeing that not only have I not been very regular here, but I’ve post only once so far this month!

With the year starting on a busy but fun note, and a break from blogging that seemed to be going on for ever for no valid reason (other than some laziness) it was a bit of a surprise when I realised that I had been neglecting my virtual kitchen without meaning to. A Facebook message from a fellow blogger and baker asking if I had seen this month’s Daring Baker challenge brought it home to me that I had a day to meet the post deadline if I wanted to do the challenge.
I knew I was doing this month’s challenge for 2 reasons. The first was because the daughter of the house really likes scones. The second was that having made scones many times before, I knew I wasn’t going to be all nervous and sweating it out in the kitchen with this challenge.




Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!
Scones for a DB challenge? Isn’t that too simple? Aren’t DB challenges supposed to be very complicated and challenge your skills in the kitchen? Well, DB challenges are not only about pushing oneself out one’s comfort zone in the kitchen, they’re also about discovering and mastering techniques involved in baking.
So I wasn’t surprised when Audax, this month’s DB host and our resident DB baking science expert because making a “perfect” scone involves a lot of technique. It is also a challenge that gives you a lot of scope for creativity.
One thing is the pronunciation of the word “scone”. Being Indian (the Asian kind) and not a native scone eater, my knowledge of scones came from my books where cream scones with jam and clotted cream always featured at “la-di-dah” British high teas alongside wafer thin cucumber sandwiches. So I always read scones to rhyme with “Joan” which though accepted is really not THE way apparently, but should rhyme with “John”instead!
This rhyme explains this matter perfectly:
"I asked the maid in dulcet tone,
 To order me a buttered scone.
 The silly girl has been and gone,
 And ordered me a buttered scone."

No one seems to be clear about the origin of the name “scone”. Some attribute it to the Gaelic "sgonn" meaning a shapeless mass or large mouthful, while others to the Dutch “Schoonbrood” (fine white bread), the German word Schönbrot" meaning fine bread and even to a town in Scotland called Scone!





Scones are slightly sweet quick breads popular in Scotland, England and Ireland though they’re supposed to have originated in Scotland where they’re apparently also referred to as “Rock Cakes", "Fat Rascals", and "Singing Hinnies"! And the Americans call them “Biscuits” when they’re savoury and “Scones” when they’re sweet.
The precursors of today’s scones were unleavened round oat cakes (bannocks) which were cooked on a griddle and then cut into triangles. With the discovery of baking powder, they became the lighter scones of today. 
The plain scone, sweet or savoury, can be re-invented in many ways depending on what goes into them like chocolate chips, raisins, fruit, vegetable, herbs, etc. Scones can also be round, square, triangular in shape. They can be crumbly or flaky depending on the recipe. Scones are usually eaten for afternoon tea or breakfast, traditionally with fruit preserves/ jam and clotted cream.




So the possibilities are endless when it comes to making scones, but what is important is getting the technique right when making scones so that they are light rather than hard and lumpy. The most important things to keep in mind to keep the ingredients, especially the butter and the liquid (milk/ buttermilk/ cream) very, very cold and to be careful not overwork the dough. It is also important to use the cutters the right way to stamp out the scones.
There are tips (courtesy of Audax) at the end of this post which should help to produce the best scones you’ve ever made.
My husband and daughter prefer scones sweet while I like them savoury. Given that the challenge recipe makes a small batch and that scones don’t take much time to make, I made a batch each of sweet Cream Scones and savoury Carrot and Herb Scones.
In India, winter is the season for strawberries so I made the sweet Cream Scones so that we could have them for dessert with strawberries and cream. The Carrot and Herb Scones were made with moist winter carrots but any carrot will do. I used black pepper, dried rosemary and thyme but feel free to use whatever herbs you would like.




Since we were to use the recipe given in the challenge, I adapted that recipe with additions of my own and that is what is given below. My savoury scones were very light and flaky while I made my sweet scones more “crumby” in texture by rubbing in the butter some more into the flour. Though both the scones turned out really good, I have always personally preferred buttermilk scones. I find that scones made with buttermilk need less baking powder and the baking soda and the buttermilk results in a lighter scone. You can find the detailed recipe for this challenge here, and I would suggest looking it up just for the detailed information that Audax has provided.
Strawberries And Cream Scones & Carrot And Herb Scones




Ingredients (for Strawberries And Cream Scones) :

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
35 gm frozen grated butter
1/4 cup chilled cream (25% fat)
1/4 to 1/2 cup chilled milk
1 tbsp milk, for glazing the tops of the scones (optional)


Ingredients (for Carrot And Herb Scones) :

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh crushed black pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely grated carrot
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
35 gm frozen grated butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup chilled buttermilk
1 tbsp milk, for glazing the tops of the scones (optional)


Method:

Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
Add the frozen grated butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
Add nearly all of the liquid at once (for the strawberries and cream scones, add all the cream and then half of the milk first) into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth.
Pat or very lightly roll out the dough into a 6” by 4” rectangle that is about 3/4” thick. Using a well-floured 2 1/4“ (58mm) round cutter stamp out, without twisting, 4 or 5 rounds. Gently reform the scraps (do not knead) into another 3/4“ layer and cut two or three more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Otherwise use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges.
Place the rounds just touching on a parchment lined baking tray. If you wish to have soft-sided scones place them close to one another or spaced widely apart on the baking tray if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look.
Bake the scones at 240C (475F) for about 10 minutes until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.  Place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process.
Each of these two recipes makes 6 or 7 scones about 2 1/4" diameter.

If you’re making the Strawberries And Cream Scones, let the scones cool to room temperature. Split them into two each. Spread some strawberry preserves/ jam on the bottom half and them place a layer of fresh strawberry slices and top with whipped cream. Cover with the other scone half and garnish with some cream, fresh strawberry slices and mint.
Serve the Carrot And Herb Scones warm, with soup or cheese spread or a spread of your choice.

All the scone making trouble shooting tips given below are courtesy Audax’s Daring Bakerchallenge for this month.

If your scones usually have metallic/ bitter after-taste, try these tips:

 
Use freshly opened raising agents, many people claim old baking powder has a stronger taste
Look for a single action baking powder (that only uses baking soda and cream of tar tar with a little cornflour) or make your own, since some double action baking powders can have metallic salts in them which some people can taste even in small quantities. Also keep in mind that homemade baking powder works faster and at a lower temperature, so put your recipe together quickly.
Look for a double action baking powder that uses non-metallic ingredients in it, check the ingredients listing on the packet.
Use less baking powder.
If you used an acidic liquid (buttermilk etc) and did not use some baking soda with the normal baking powder then some of the acid in the liquid wouldn't have been neutralised so leaving some salts behind causing the salty aftertase, that is make sure you are using the correct combination of agents for the liquids that you use, see the link below for full details about this.
Use only baking soda and an acidic liquid (buttermilk) like in the famous Irish Soda bread which very few people complain about having an aftertaste.
Use bakers' ammonium (available from King Arthur's flour) it was one of the most common chemical raising agents in the old days before modern baking powder, it smells like ammonia when baking but the ammonia smell totally dissipates and this chemical leaves nothing behind. I use it a lot in my baking it really gives baked goods that old-fashioned taste that people really can pick up on also it gives cookies extra crispness when baked.

If your scones usually have a dry or chalky mouth feel try these tips:

Try smaller sized scones and bake them quickly in a very hot oven and make the dough wetter since large sized scones using a drier dough baked in a moderate oven will give you a dryer crumb and therefore a dry chalky mouth feel.
Over-handled dough will lead to a dry mouth feel.
Eat them immediately fresh out of the oven, scones do really suffer (they become dry and tough) when stored for any length of time.
Try using more fat (about 1/4 cup of fat or so per cup of flour), more fat gives moister crumb. Also try using all shortening, since shortening contains no water or milk solids it gives a very tender crumb.
Try this great recipe for "a touch of grace" biscuits they are the most tender and moist biscuits (scones) that I have had.
Some people claim that a very hot oven is best to start the baking process then lower the temperature to moderate to finish baking the scones.

And if your scones are lopsided:

 
Lop-sided scones are usually caused by uneven cutting out of the scone.
Clean and flour the scone cutter (by rubbing off any wet dough and then dipping the cutter into fresh flour the entire height of the cutter) every time you stamp out each round. Remember not to twist when you are stamping out the scones. If you are using a knife remember to clean and flour it for each cut.
Try to pat out or roll out the dough as evenly as possible.
Sift the dry ingredients three times as uneven distribution of ingredients can lead to uneven scones.
Try to get the scone out of the cutter by applying gentle even pressure on the entire scone circumference that way you do not compress just one place so making that area less tender so raising less when cooked.
Turn the cut scone upside down onto the baking dish, since this side will be flatter than the patted out top surface.
Only glaze the tops of the scone, a small amount of liquid on the sides will inhibit raise in that area.
Some people like to use a fork and prick some holes in the top of the unbaked scones supposedly this helps the scone raise evenly.
Also some people like to use their thumb and press a small hollow into the top of the scone supposedly this helps the scone raise evenly.

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January 9, 2012

Travelling Diva – Recipes From Around The World : A Review, and Vegetable Balls (Dumplings) With Tamarind Glaze

T
he title of my blog and the recipes here, in my virtual kitchen, pretty much sums up the nature of what I cook in my real kitchen. We eat vegetarian food, Indian a lot of the time, but are pretty eclectic in our food tastes so I like exploring and cooking vegetarian food from across the world.
So when Hachette Books Publishing (India) recently sent me Ritu Dalmia’s new book, Travelling Diva- Recipes From Around The World, I was interested to see what recipes the she had put together in this one. Her previous book Italian Khana, was all about Italian cuisine which she and her restaurants are known for.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a nice variety of recipes from around the world, including a couple of Indian ones. The book has over 120 recipes, some accompanied by photographs, and also tips on techniques and time saving shortcuts.. Many of the recipes are vegetarian, and most of the non-vegetarian ones are easily adapted to a vegetarian style of cooking.




The recipes are short yet well explained and most of them have a short ingredient list and do not need a lot of preparation or time to put together. Ritu Dalmia also provides ideas for adaptations/ variations possible for many of the recipes.
This cookbook is more than just a collection of well put together. With each chapter and the each recipe in it, Ritu shares a personal side of her passion for the food she cooks as well as an introduction to how the recipe came about, or her memories connected to that recipe.
For example her recipe for Spaghetti Puttanesca (yes, there’s a bit of Italian in this book too) starts with a story of how on a trip to Italy, there was a particular Indian gentleman who would insist on opening a jar of  Indian mango pickles at every restaurant they ate because he felt Italian food just didn’t work for his palate. And how the pungent smell of mustard oil in that pickle overpowered the aroma of truffles at a particular restaurant was well-known for, resulting in half the diners leaving the restaurant which then kicked them out!
The book starts with an introduction where the author talks about her love for all food Italian and how she slowly started discovering other cuisines on her travels. The first chapter, My Perfect Kitchen, deals with how to stock one’s kitchen and pantry so that cooking becomes a pleasure. The second chapter, Basic Recipes, deals with stocks, sauces and marinades used in/ with the various recipes in the book.
“Sole Food, Soul Food” has recipes for comfort food and one-dish meals, “More For The Merry” gives you recipes for fun finger food to serve at casual parties and lavish buffets, “The Morning After” has great recipes for brunch and picnics, “Table For Two” deals with cooking for special people and special occasions, and “After Hours” has some nice recipes for snacks.
The recipes include Potato And Onion Roesti (Switzerland), Lime And Mint Risotto (Italy), Bhindi Bhojpuri (India), Cold Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Rarebit (England), Fellah Kofte (Turkey), Spring Onion Pancakes (China),  Kugelhopf (Austria), Almond Gazpacho (Spain), Orange Chocolate Pots (France), to name a few.
Ritu Dalmia’s love for Italian is obvious from the number of Italian recipes in this book.
The book ends with a list of eateries in various countries which the author personally recommends and a list of stores in the bigger cities of India where you could source many of the more unusual and exotic food items used in her recipes. Apart from the usual “Index”, she also provides a categorisation of all the recipes in the book according to type, such as Soups, Starters, Accompaniments, Desserts, etc to make meal planning easier.
On the whole I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to go beyond everyday routine cooking, but is looking for a variety of easy-to-cook recipes that are a little different from the usual. I would have preferred to see some more photographs accompanying the recipes, and someone interested in food photography I expected to see photographs of a better quality in book like this.
As a home cook for whom Ritu Dalmia has intended this book, I found it falling short in a couple of areas though. Nowhere does the book seem to tell me how many people the recipes serve. I would appreciate knowing if I would need to double a particular recipe or not when cooking for company especially.
I’m not sure how many home cooks in India own kitchen scales or use them. I have kitchen scales but find it easier to use cup/ spoon/ volume measurements so I would have appreciated those measurements as well with the weight measurements for ingredients.
And lastly, this one would be from all those cooks who do not live in any of the biggr cities of India. Ingredients like Phyllo dough, mushrooms like porcini and shiitake, couscous, cheeses like Camembert, fresh Mozarella, Feta, Halloumi and Philadelphia cream cheese, salad greens like rocket are mostly available only in the larger Indiancities and quite expensive at that.
While I understand that substituting for these would mean loss of authenticity, it would have been nice if Ritu Dalmia had suggested possible locally available substitutes for such ingredients.

About The Author:
One of India’s better known chefs and restaurateurs, Ritu Dalmia is also the host of two popular cooking shows on Indian television. Her award winning restaurants - Diva, Café Diva and Latitude 28 in New Delhi as well as the café at the Italian Cultural Centre are known for their excellent food and service.


 
Though I had marked a few recipes to try out from the book, a busy start to the new year meant I had the time to try out only 2 of them. One was the “Bhindi Bhojpuri” which was okra strips coated with chickpea flour (besan) and spices and the fried till crisp. I have never cooked okra this way and we really liked it. This can be made ahead of time and served with tea or coffee or even on the side as part of a main meal.
The other one was the “Vegetable Balls With Tamarind Glaze”. The original recipe (Chicken Balls) uses chicken and Ritu Dalmia suggests substitutions this with vegetables cooked so they retain a little crunch for texture. I used shredded cabbage and grated carrots and potatoes along with some soya flakes (TVP) to make my vegetable balls.
These tamarind glazed balls are somewhat reminiscent of the Vegetable Manchurian but have nice tang from the tamarind are much healthier as they’re steamed cooked.




The author introduces this recipe by saying “If you ask me where exactly I ate this dish first I cannot tell you because, honestly, I cannot remember. However it has become a favourite in my restaurants over the years and has evolved into a really tasty and innovative dish. I just love the way the tartness of the tamarind combines with the gentle soothing aroma of the sesame oil to make it a fabulous comfort food – but with a special zing to it!”
Vegetable Balls/ Dumplings With Tamarind Glaze
(adapted from the Travelling Diva)

 
Ingredients: 

For the dumplings:

50 gm coriander leaves, chopped
20 gm garlic, finely chopped
300 gm mixed vegetables, finely chopped/ shredded (carrot, cabbage, potatoes)
1 tsp Thai green curry paste (optional)
1 egg, beaten
A pinch of cornflour
Soy sauce to season
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste 

For the sauce:

50 gm seasame oil or olive oil
100 gm spring onion
30 gm garlic, vertically sliced
200 gm pak choi
100 gm Chinese celery, chopped
Soy sauce to season
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
50 gm tamarind paste
20 gm sesame seeds 


Method:

For the dumplings:

Mix together all the ingredients for the dumplings. You can use cabbage, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, green beans and peas.
Form little balls with your hands.
Steam or boil them for 3 to 5 minutes, until cooked. The dumplings should be firm and become white in colour. It is better for them to be undercooked then overcooked as they will cook again in the sauce. Also the vegetables need to be cooked yet retain their crunch.

For the sauce:

Heat the oil in a wok over a high flame. Add the chopped spring onions, garlic and the rest of vegetables and cook on high heat for 1 minute.
Season with soy sauce and pepper. Soy sauce is salty, so do not add sauce until you have tasted it.
Add the tamarind paste and a little water. This will give it a good consistency.
Mix well for a minute or so. Add the cooked vegetable dumplings and toss them for a minute in the sauce so they absorb the flavours.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve. If you want to add some colour to the dish, garnish with chopped spring onions.
This recipe makes about 12 balls, each the size of a large walnut. This hosuld serve about 3 to 4 people.

 
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January 1, 2012

Wishing You All A Happy New Year!

S
aying goodbye to the past year is probably one of the easiest things I have done in a long time, and I cannot say I’m sad to see it gone. The past few years of my life (I should say our life really) haven’t been the easiest and if there was a prize being given out for the “Worst Year Of Them All”, 2011 was pretty close to winning it hands down.
But then life is like that as we all know, ups and downs and you win some, you lose some. Yet, when I sit down and really think some things through, I have to say there has been a lot of good in it all.




Some of the lowest points in these past few years have brought about some of the best things in my life. I started writing this food blog and that opened up a whole new world I had never imagined existed out there. I discovered a passion, which I did not know I was capable of, for photography. It has really confirmed what I have always believed, that nothing is more important than the people in one’s life and that it is never too early or late to start appreciating/ remembering them for what they are to us. And I found and made some of the best friends I have today.
“Thank You” are two small words we use so often and many times without much thought, but they are the only two words I know in English that come close to expressing my appreciation to all of you whom I know (and know me), through this blog and otherwise.
So I’m starting my New Year by saying “Thank You” to all of you, who have been with me throughout the past year and kept me in your thoughts, and been there for me. I deeply appreciate the time and effort that many of you took to write in saying how much you enjoy my blog, recipes and photography.
A big “Thank You” also to all of you who have kept me motivated enough to continue writing this blog, by coming here to read my sometimes irregular posts, and leaving your thoughtful comments despite the fact that I haven’t been very visible at your blogs, many of which are on my “to read” list.
I shall not bore you any further and embarass myself by going on in the manner of an acceptance speech at the Oscars, so I’ll leave you all with these wishes that I borrowed from Joanna Fuchs and hope that 2012 brings all that you hope for and more.



I wish you all........

 Happiness deep down within.
Serenity with each sunrise.
Success in each facet of your life.
Family beside you.
Close and caring friends.
Health, inside you.
Love that never ends.
Special memories of all the yesterdays.
A bright today with much to be thankful for.
A path that leads to beautiful tomorrows.
Dreams that do their best to come true.
Appreciation of all the wonderful things about you.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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