Nuts About Christmas: Outrageous Chocolate Fruit & Nut Cookies

Choco fruit & nut cookies small-001

When I was growing up, Cadbury’s was the preferred brand of chocolates in India. My favorite was a Fruit and Nut bar they still make…

DSC_0362

Velvety Milk chocolate packed with almonds, raisins, cashew nuts, currants… it was the perfect Sunday treat for a little kid :D

DSC_0334

I even remember this TV commercial they had. A layer of nuts and dry fruits on a tray being slowly drowned in a flood of melted chocolate… yum…

Choco fruit & nut cookies small3-001

I thought re-creating the memories and flavors of that childhood favorite would be great in a Christmas cookie. I mean, chocolate, dry fruits and nuts… doesn’t that spell Christmas?

DSC_0318

I used Martha’s Outrageous Chocolate Cookies as a base for these lovelies. And added loads of love and other goodies :D

DSC_0305

So there’s melted chocolate in the cookie batter (lots of it!), plus chocolate chips, pistachios, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, raisins, dates, freeze-dried raspberries…phew!

Choco fruit & nut cookies small2-001

These are crispy outside, chewy inside and so, so decadent! And so full of the good stuff… Now do you get the ‘outrageous’ bit :D

DSC_0301

And don’t they make you wanna reach out and grab one … or two? Go on… it’s Christmas after all :D

DSC_0330

Here’s the recipe.

Outrageous Chocolate Fruit and Nut Cookies

  • Servings: 18-24 Cookies
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

225 grams Semi-sweet Chocolate, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons salted Butter
2/3 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
3 large Egg Yolks
3/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
Seeds from 1/2 Vanilla Pod
250 grams dark Chocolate Chips
15-20 Almonds, roughly chopped
15-20 Cashew nuts, roughly chopped
15-20 Hazelnuts, roughly chopped
15-20 Pistachios, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Raisins
12-15 Dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon freeze-dried Raspberries

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Heat chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted; do not overheat.
In another bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.
In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks, brown sugar, and vanilla seeds on high-speed until light and a bit fluffy.
Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined.
Stir in chocolate chunks and chopped nuts and dried fruits. (Feel free to add nuts and dried fruits of your choice).
Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets.
Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes.
Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Choco fruit & nut cookies small1-001

Cooking Up A Storm: Murgh Saagwala (Chicken in a delicate Spinach sauce)

Murgh Saagwala small-001

As I am writing this, this little country is in the eye of a storm, literally… A warning has been issued (stay indoors and use common sense!), the wind is howling frightfully outside and there is hardly anyone on the road.

DSC_0248

Not very Christmassy, huh? All day at work, I have been dashing from one meeting to another, running between the raindrops, :D (we have offices in different buildings in the same complex, you see), even managing to break an umbrella one time!

DSC_0218

The colors of the day coincide very nicely with the color and flavors of this wonderful curry: dark, robust, full of adventure…

DSC_0270

Chicken legs marinated in yogurt and spices and then cooked in a lovely spinach gravy…Lip-smackingly delicious and healthy too…

DSC_0198

Don’t you feel like taking some soft naan to that gorgeous gravy and not stopping till you’ve licked the plate clean :D

DSC_0266

By the way, how are your Christmas preparations coming along? I can see a lot of holiday cookies and cakes all over blogosphere, so I feel a bit silly writing about a curry at this time of the year, but then I’m never about blending in :D

DSC_0207

I am bringing along a large platter of this gorgeousness over to Angie’s Friday Fiesta, being co-hosted today by two amazing ladies, Margy @La Petite Casserole and Juju @cookingwithauntjuju. If you haven’t been to their blogs yet, you really should. You don’t know what you are missing :)

DSC_0237

Here’s the recipe.

Murgh Saagwala

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 hour plus marination time
  • Print

Ingredients:

750 grams Chicken (I used legs)
250 grams Spinach
4 tablespoons thick Yogurt
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Ginger-Garlic paste
A large pinch Kasoori Methi
3 medium Tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon Coriander powder
1 teaspoon Cumin powder
1 teaspoon Red Chili powder
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon grated Ginger
3 large cloves Garlic, chopped
1 large Red Onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Cooking Oil
1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg powder
Salt to taste

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, kasoori methi and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Apply this mix on the chicken pieces and refrigerate for about an hour.
Blanch the washed spinach and puree to a fine paste.
Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onions.
Fry till golden brown and then add chopped garlic and grated ginger.
Fry for a further couple of minutes and then add turmeric, red chili powder, cumin powder and coriander powder.
Saute till the raw smell of the spices disappears.
Add the chopped tomatoes, mix well and cook till the tomatoes are mushy.
Add the marinated chicken pieces along with the marinade, mix well and cover the pan with a lid.
Cook stirring occasionally on a medium flame till the chicken is almost cooked.
Then add the spinach puree and nutmeg powder.
Mix well and cook for a few minutes till the chicken is completely done. Check seasoning and add more salt if needed.
Serve hot with naan or chapatis.

Murgh Saagwala small2-001

Sweet Tidings: Holiday Banana Bread

Holiday Banana Bread small-001

There’s something about December that makes you want to transform everyday things into something Christmassy, isn’t there :)

DSC_0126

Perking up your outfits with a little bit of red and a touch of sparkle, lighting cinnamon and cranberry scented candles around the house…

DSC_0153

The food in December needs to be appropriately adjusted too… Warm, spicy stews, saucy bakes, and steaming cups of hot chocolate with peppermint and candy canes :D

DSC_0115

A simple banana bread needs to transform into its holiday avatar too…

DSC_0157

The classic soft, moist, fluffy banana bread is thus jazzed up with spices, nuts, cranberries… and chocolate chips, of course :D

Holiday Banana Bread small2-001

It all comes together in 1 bowl. Simple, easy and makes a lovely edible gift, full of holiday flavor!

DSC_0123

We have also been grabbing quick slices of this lovely loaf before dashing out the door this week :D Puts you in the Christmas mood right away!

DSC_0121

I am bringing over a loaf of this holiday goodness to Angie’s Friday Fiesta, who has been completely awesome in throwing a party for us every week for the last 45 weeks!!! Woohoo!! This week she is joined by the wonderful co-hosts Michelle @Giraffes Can Bake and MB @Bourbon & Brown Sugar. If you haven’t visited yet, you really should!! It is so much fun!

DSC_0136

Here’s the recipe.

Holiday Banana Bread

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup Flour
3 to 4 ripe Bananas, smashed
1/3 cup Butter, melted
3/4 cup light Brown Sugar (add more if you prefer a sweeter bread)
1 Egg, beaten
Seeds from 1 Vanilla pod
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
Pinch of ground Cloves
1/2 cup fresh Cranberries
1/2 cup Walnuts, roughly chopped (substitute with other nuts if you like)
1/2 cup dark Chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In a large mixing bowl, mix butter into the mashed bananas with a wooden spoon.
Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and then the spices.
Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
Add the flour and mix. Add the cranberries, walnuts, 1/4 cup chocolate chips and stir until just incorporated.
Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle the rest of the chocolate chips on top
Bake for 1 hour. Cool to room temperature.
Slice and serve!

Holiday Banana Bread small1-001

Get Curried Away: Butternut Squash and Chickpeas Korma

Chickpea and Butternut Squash curry small-001

Brrr… I don’t know about the rest of you but I have started wearing warm socks in the evenings! It has gotten that cold, and pretty quickly!

DSC_0057

It has been really rainy too, though this weekend has been better and we have gotten a bit of sun, accompanied though by the infamous Scandinavian wind. Brrr again…

DSC_0017

It is the perfect weather though for spending time in the kitchen, with a warm iron and curries and stews simmering away gently :)

DSC_0051

When it comes to curries and stews, I love lamb and chicken, but sometimes, I like the idea of going meatless and still coming up with something comforting, filling and satisfying my family’s protein needs.

DSC_0077

Like this amazingly fragrant and warming Butternut Squash and Chickpeas Korma.

Chickpea and Butternut Squash curry small1-001

You know how some days you look into your pantry and refrigerator and scratch your head wondering what to make with the ingredients in there? Well this is one of those dishes…Necessity, invention and all that…

DSC_0055

I had half a butternut squash to play with and a can of chickpeas in my pantry. And some coconut milk and spices, of course! Tadaaaa…

DSC_0009

Now this is by no means an authentic korma. I have never had a korma with coconut in it except outside India ;) but what can I say? The coconut binds all the flavors together fabulously!

DSC_0069

The sweetness of the butternut squash and the creaminess of the soft chickpeas in the lightly spiced coconut gravy… vegan perfection!

DSC_0033

I am quite late to Angie’s Friday Fiesta this week, but I can’t resist joining my friends :D The potluck is being hosted this week by Prudy @Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs and Jess @Cooking Is My Sport. See you there!

DSC_0008

Here’s the recipe.

Butternut Squash and Chickpeas Korma

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 can (240 grams) cooked Chickpeas/ Garbanzo Beans
250 grams Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed
1 large Tomato, chopped
10 Cashew nuts
6 Almonds (or substitute with more cashews)
1 teaspoon Red Chilli powder
1 large Onion, chopped
1 cup Coconut Milk
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 tablespoon Coriander powder
1 tablespoon Oil
1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
2 inch piece Cinnamon
3-4 Cloves
2 Green Cardamom
2 dried Bay Leaves
2 teaspoons Ginger-Garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
Salt to taste

Directions:

Soak the cashews and almonds in hot water for 15-20 minutes. Peel the soaked almonds. Grind the almonds and cashews into a smooth paste using a little water, in a blender.
Heat oil in a large heavy bottom pan on medium heat.
One the oil is slightly hot, add in the bay leaves, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
Saute until the mustard seeds start to splutter and the spices become aromatic.
Now add in the onions and a pinch of salt and saute until they are translucent.
Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes away.
Then add in the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala and coriander powder.
Saute for a minute and add in the tomatoes.
Saute further until you see the oil separating from the gravy (about 5-7 minutes).
Stir from time to time or the mixture may stick to the bottom of the pan.
Then add in the butternut squash and the chickpeas, along with the water from the can.
Add salt to taste and cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes or till the butternut squash is tender. You may need to add a bit more water to cook the squash.
Add the cashew-almond paste and coconut milk. Stir gently, check salt and add more if required.
Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Add water to adjust the consistency as required.
Check to see if the raw taste of cashew-almond paste has disappeared. Turn off the heat and serve hot with rice or flat breads.

Chickpea and Butternut Squash curry small2-001

Bites of Bliss: Coconut Laddoo (Cardamom-spiced Coconut Truffles)

Coconut Laddoo small-001

So every year, the munchkin’s daycare hosts a ‘Kulturfest’, a cultural event, where the little kids, assisted by the staff, put up a show for the proud parents. The evening ends with a potluck dinner brought in by the parents.

DSC_0391

The potluck consists of dishes from the parents’ countries, representing their culture. The munchkin’s daycare has kids from around 17 countries, so it turns out to be quite an interesting spread :D

DSC_0379

Now, the show starts at 4 p.m. and since I work full-time, that in itself is quite a difficult timeline to adhere to. Showing up at 4 p.m. with a dish for 40 is mission impossible!

Coconut Laddoo small2-001

Unless you have a few tricks up your sleeve. Or super blogger buddies to inspire you…

DSC_0437

Enter the Confused Bawarchis, Aditi and Nikhil! Aditi posted this recipe for quick Coconut Laddoos about 2 weeks before the Kulturfest. And I knew exactly what I was bringing to the potluck :)

DSC_0435

Laddoos are traditional Indian sweets and there are quite a few varieties of laddoo, made from a variety of ingredients. The only thing common is the shape: little globes of pure bliss that either melt in your mouth or give your jaws a workout, as you chomp through some pretty fantastic combinations: nuts, flours, dry fruits, spices, rice…

DSC_0390

These coconut laddoos are one of the easiest to make. And quick, really quick. And they are made from 5 ingredients!! How great is that!

DSC_0400

And they taste simply wonderful! Coconutty goodness in every bite. And they are the melt-in-your-mouth variety of laddoos, so kids love them too.

DSC_0381

If you like coconut, it will be really hard not to like these. I took about 40 of these to the potluck and they were the first to disappear off the buffet! I mean, seriously, who can resist them :D

DSC_0418

I hope the gang at this week’s Friday Fiesta also find them irresistible. Angie’s awesome potluck is being co-hosted by Tracy @Scratch It and Stephanie @The Cozy Cook who have stayed over from last week! See you there!

Here’s the recipe (from Confused Bawarchis).

Coconut Laddoo

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Ghee
1+½ cups shredded Unsweetened Desiccated Coconut plus 2-3 tablespoons for coating the laddoos
6 tablespoons Sweetened Condensed Milk
3-4 tablespoons Whole Milk (you may use low-fat milk as well)
1 teaspoon ground Cardamom

Directions:

In a non-stick pan, heat the ghee and add in 1+½ cups Coconut.
Roast this on medium heat for about a minute, stirring continuously.
Next, add in the condensed milk and milk and mix well.
Cook this for about 2 minutes until it all comes together like a dough.
If the mix seems dry, add milk in 1 teaspoon increments until you reach the desired consistency.
Then add in the cardamom, mix well and turn off the heat.
Cool the mix for about 4-5 minutes until it becomes easy to handle.
Roll into even-sized laddoos (approx. the size of limes) and coat them with the coconut that was set aside for rolling.
Serve at room temperature.

Coconut Laddoo small1-001

Smells like the Holidays: Cranberry Gingerbread Scones

Cranberry gingerbread scones

Christmas is definitely in the air here :) Departmental stores have dressed their windows to display reindeer, toy soldiers, snowmen, huge gift boxes…

DSC_0329

We are getting a lot of catalogs from toy stores too, almost like they know there is a super-excited 3-year old in the house :D

DSC_0333

In Scandinavia, kids receive ‘Adventsgaver’ , small presents, everyday from the 1st to the 24th of December in addition to the ‘big’ Christmas presents. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect build-up to Christmas…

DSC_0254

I can see parents thronging stores right now, buying up books, games, toys, accessories and of course candy to be neatly packed into gifts for their little ones. I know I will join in the rush in about a week, but in the meantime, I am sitting back and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells :D

Cranberry gingerbread scones small1

And for me, nothing smells quite like Christmas more than Gingerbread. I love the warmth and flavor of the spices and I adore the way my home smells when I have a batch of gingerbread cookies baking in the oven…

DSC_0366

And isn’t there something wonderfully Christmas-sy about cranberries too? Just their color itself… blood-red, like the prettiest of baubles!

DSC_0282

I don’t generally find fresh cranberries in the stores here, so I bake with the dried ones. But last week, I was thrilled to find punnets of cranberries imported all the way from the US in the local supermarket; I just had to make something special!

DSC_0355

Hmmm… gingerbread and cranberries, doesn’t that sound just right for the holidays :) Add some walnuts and orange zest to the mix and you have the perfect holiday scones!

DSC_0296

These scones are soft, crumbly, moist and fresh with the orange and cranberry flavor. The walnuts provide the nutty, textural element. Imagine all that packed into a gingerbread cookie! That’s what these fellas taste like.

DSC_0295

Dunk one into your coffee, have one for breakfast. They are fabulous! Perfect to get you in the spirit and ready to join the throngs of shoppers :D Bake some for your family and friends too and share the love <3

DSC_0368

I am bringing these fellas over to Angie’s fabulous Friday Fiesta, this week co-hosted by  Tracy @Scratch It and Stephanie @The Cozy Cook. Would you believe these two were besties in school, lost touch and recently re-discovered each other through their blogs!! Isn’t that totally awesome!! Come on over to Angie’s to meet them and other amazing bloggers :)

Here’s the recipe (adapted from here).

Cranberry Gingerbread Scones

  • Servings: 12-15
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

300 grams (2 cups) all-purpose Flour
85 grams (1/2 cup) Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered Ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
A pinch of Salt
120 grams (8 tablespoons) cold Butter, cut into cubes
55 ml (1/4 cup) Milk
2 tablespoons Date Syrup
1 Egg
Zest of 1 Orange
200 grams fresh Cranberries
75 grams Walnuts, roughly chopped

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg & salt.
Add the cold butter cubes and the flour mixture to a food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of peas.
In a large bowl whisk together the milk, date syrup, egg and orange zest until well combined.
Add the flour mix to the wet ingredients along with the cranberries and walnuts.
Mix together until just combined and a ball of dough is formed. Do not over-mix or your scones will be tough.
Flour your work surface and tip the dough out.
Gently shape into a circle about 1 inch thick.
Cut into desired shapes and put them directly on the baking paper on the tray, do not push them down to flatten them.
Gently brush the tops with a little milk and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the tops are golden & cracked and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Serve warm or at room temperature, if you can wait. Store in an airtight container, not in the fridge.

Cranberry gingerbread scones small

Tea Time in Bombay: Mawa Cakes

Mawa Cakes small-001

The people of Bombay, Bombayites or Mumbaikars as they are now known, love their tea. Not just at home or in restaurants… every street corner seems to have its own tea-cart, brewing fresh tea at all hours of the day or night.

DSC_0143

Among iconic tea establishments, the Parsi or Irani cafes of Mumbai deserve a special mention. Established in the 19th century by Zoroastrians fleeing the Islamic regime in Iran, these are like time capsules of an era gone by…

DSC_0033

They serve specialty Parsi dishes, tea time snacks (brun-maska, anyone?) and of course tea, all at very reasonable prices. Only a handful of these are left now, like Britannia and Co., Yazdani bakery, Sassanian and a few others.

DSC_0116

One of the most well-known Irani cafes was B. Merwans and Co. which sadly closed down earlier this year after serving its patrons for exactly 100 years! Imagine that! :(

Mawa Cakes small2-001

B. Merwans was renowned for their Mawa Cakes. Cardamom-scented buttery cakes made with the addition of mawa (milk solids), these are arguably the butteriest (yes, that must be a word) little delights.

DSC_0170

Since there was no refrigeration available in the 19th century and milk wasn’t pasteurized, cafe owners had to boil the milk over and over. And this lead to a lot of milk solids or mawa being available at the end of the day. The cafe owners experimented with adding this mawa to a cake and voila! the iconic mawa cake was born :D

DSC_0003

I have fond memories of devouring quite a few of these as a kid. Also, for a couple of months, right out of college I did an internship at a bank in Grant Road (where B. Merwans was located) and I loved queuing up on Saturday afternoons to buy mawa cakes and other goodies to take home for the weekend.

DSC_0119

The only reason I haven’t made these beloved cakes at home so far is because I can’t buy any mawa here and it does take a long time to make it from scratch as you are basically cooking down milk till all the water evaporates.

DSC_0166

Then a few months ago, while Pinteresting (yes, that is a word too!), I saw this gorgeous post about mawa cakes on Helene Dujardin’s wonderful Tartelette blog, that she got from her Indian friend Bina. Fortunately, she also included a quick recipe for making mawa! All my problems solved, I had to make these at the first opportunity. It still takes close to an hour to make the mawa, so cold weather is the perfect time to try your hand at making these lovelies :D

DSC_0135

These are not too sweet and are laced with just the right hint of cardamom. And the butteriness comes not just from the butter. The rich, fragrant mawa adds another sort of nutty butteriness, which is quite amazing. Try these, you won’t be sorry. Plus, it is a bite right out of history :D

DSC_0182

I have to share these with my lovely friends gathering over at Angie’s Friday Fiesta, co-hosted today by  Nancy @Feasting With Friends and Loretta @Safari of the Mind. Hope they enjoy this hometown favorite of mine.

Here’s the recipe.

Mawa Cakes

  • Servings: 12-18 depending on size of molds
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the Mawa
2 cans (14 oz each) Evaporated Milk (not low fat)
1 cup (250 ml) Heavy Cream

For the Cakes
1 1/4 cups (155 grams) All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Cardamom
Pinch of Salt
1/2 cup (100 grams) Mawa, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 cup (100 grams) Sugar
2 Eggs
6 tablespoons Whole Milk
Almond or Cashew Slivers (optional)

Directions:

Prepare the mawa
Place the evaporated milk and heavy cream in a large stainless steel pot or wide saucepan (12-inch) with tall sides.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high and let it cook, stirring more than occasionally for about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat to medium and let the mixture cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture starts to thicken.
Turn the heat to medium low and cook another 10 minutes.
At this point, the mixture starts looking like a grainy butterscotch pudding.
No worries, everything is going according to plan.
Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking another 10-15 minutes.
Do more than stirring occasionally there too: there is very little moisture left and the higher risks of scorching happen at that point.
The whole process should take about 50 minutes, pay close attention to the mixture during the first and last 10 minutes of cooking.
The final consistency is that of a very thick pudding.
Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate if not using right away. The mawa can also be frozen for up to 3 months. With this mawa recipe, you have 3/4 cup to 1 cup of mawa.

Prepare the cakes
Preheat the oven to 180 C and position a rack in the middle.
Lightly spray with cooking spray (or brush with melted butter) small cupcake, muffin tins or other mini cake moulds. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Reserve.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with hand-held beaters), beat together the mava, butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Turn the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition.
Still with the motor running on low, add the reserved flour mixture and the milk.
Turn the speed back up to medium and beat until the mixture is smooth.
Divide evenly among the prepared cake tins, top each with almond or cashew slivers if using and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Mawa Cakes small1-001

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 387 other followers