Sweet Virtues: Chocolate, Chia Seeds & Dry Fruits Pudding

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Growing up, one of my favorite activities, undertaken about twice a year was Mom and Daughter outings with my mom. We would go down to South Bombay and do all our favorite things.

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Shopping for thrifty yet chic clothes at the aptly named ‘Fashion Street’, hitting Crawford Market for foodie goodies, stopping at Flora Fountain for the latest paperback additions to my ever-expanding home library…

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Those days were full of laughter, long talks, lots of shopping and stops in between to catch quick bites to eat and drink from a fabulous array of street food. One of our favorite haunts on such days was the Khau Galli: a narrow lane connecting Fashion Street to SNDT University. ‘Khau Galli’ literally means Food Lane :D and it really is a street-food lover’s dream!

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First, it is a lane that thousands of people pass through everyday, since it is smack in the middle of the commercial district and also close to colleges and universities. So the food here is quite fresh, lip-smacking and affordable, like street food should be!

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Rows and rows of vendors selling the most scrumptuous Vada Pav, Chaat, Misal Pav, Tava Pulao and of course, Pav Bhaji. And plenty of stalls selling freshly squeezed fruit juices and milkshakes to wash down all the spicy food! Oh, Sugarcane Juice, how I miss thee!

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One of my favorite meals was piping hot Pav Bhaji (a spicy ragout of vegetables, served with hot buttered & toasted rolls, so good!) followed by a luscious Dry Fruits Milkshake.

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Pav Bhaji deserves a post of its own (soon!), but in the meantime, let’s talk about that Dry Fruits Milkshake. It was so thick, you could barely swig it through the straw, so the vendor also gave you a spoon. It was full of figs, cashew nuts, raisins, almonds and dates blended with milk and ice to velvety goodness and then topped with loads (and I mean loads) more nuts.

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Absolutely delicious and re-energizing, so we could continue on our quest for the next bargain :D Mom and I both really loved that shake, so we also started making it at home all the time.

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I developed a craving for it this weekend, but wanted to serve it more like a pudding. So to thicken it even further to pudding consistency, I used that most extolled of superfoods, Chia Seeds.

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This is one of the easiest puddings you can make. There is absolutely no cooking involved. All you need to do is soak the ingredients and then blend the heck out of them. That is it! This treat is creamy, nutty, delicious and so, so, so good for you! And did I mention it is sugar-free?

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You can top it with anything: naughty or nice, your choice :D Nuts, granola, chocolate chips, berries, puffed rice… You can even layer it up with some chopped fruits for a gorgeous breakfast parfait. Health never tasted this good :D

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I am bringing over some tall glasses of this goodness over to Angie’s Friday Fiesta. This weeks co-hosts are the wonderfully talented Tina @Mademoiselle Gourmande and Juju @cookingwithauntjuju.

Here’s the recipe.

Chocolate, Chia Seeds & Dry Fruits Pudding

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 5 minutes (plus soaking time)
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Ingredients:

1/2 cup Chia Seeds
2 cups Milk (or Almond Milk)
2 tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa
10 Dates, pitted
10-12 dried Figs
1/4 cup Raisins
1/4 cup Almonds
1/4 cup Cashew Nuts
Honey or Maple Syrup (optional)

Topping Options (Mix and Match!):

Puffed Rice
Granola
Berries
Nuts
Chocolate Chips
Chocolate Curls
Chopped Fruits
Toasted Coconut
Goji Berries

Directions:

Soak all the ingredients together and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Blend together in a heavy-duty blender, till smooth. Check sweetness and add honey or maple syrup if desired.
Serve chilled with any combination of toppings.

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A Danish Carnival Special: Fastelavnsboller (Cream & Marzipan-filled Shrovetide Buns)

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Fastelavn er mit navn,
boller vil jeg have.
Hvis jeg ingen boller får,
så laver jeg ballade.
Boller op, boller ned
boller i min mave.
Hvis jeg ingen boller får,
så laver jeg ballade.

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That is a song that children in Denmark sing, late January onwards, when Fastelavn draws near. It roughly translates to English as:

Shrovetide is my name,
buns I want.
If I get no buns,
I will make trouble.
Buns up, buns down
buns in my tummy.
If I get no buns,
I will make trouble.

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Now imagine little toddlers singing it in super-cute, cherubic voices and you will understand the charm :D The munchkin was two when she first sang it; first shyly, then real loudly, but so adorably that, it used to make my heart skip a few beats <3

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Fastelavn is the Danish Carnival, the Danish Mardi Gras, kind of a Nordic Halloween and this year, it’s on the 15th of February. Children dress up in cute costumes and go around collecting treats. There are also Fastelavn celebrations in all day-cares and some very interesting activities.

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Cats are an important symbol of Fastelavn. Cat-themed decorations abound (the ones in the photos were made by the munchkin in years past) and one of the traditions is slå katten af tønden (“hit the cat out of the barrel”), which is basically a piñata consisting of a wooden barrel with candy inside. In the old days, there used to be a live cat inside the barrel, but today, thankfully, only a picture of a black cat is pasted on the outside of the barrel.

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The child who makes the candy spill out by breaking the bottom of the barrel, is named the kattedronning (“queen of cats”) and the one who knocks down the last piece of the barrel becomes kattekonge (“king of cats”). And crowns are handed out, of course :D

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Now, remember the buns in that little ditty above? Well, they are not just any old buns. They are very special buns called Fastelavnsboller, made specially around this time.

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I have found them in two main variations: the ones made with yeast dough and the ones made with choux pastry. The ones I made this year are with yeast.

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Super soft, buttery, cardamom-scented buns with lovely vanilla crème pâtissière and marzipan tucked into them. And topped with melted chocolate and sprinkles! Treats fit for little kings and queens, don’t you think :D

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And as you will see from the recipe, these adorable goodies are super-easy and quick to whip up! So, do give them a try. You won’t be sorry!

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Here’s the recipe.

Fastelavnsboller (Danish Shrovetide Buns filled with Crème Pâtissière & Marzipan)

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 60 minutes (plus cooling time)
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Ingredients:

For the Buns
200-250 grams All-purpose Flour
75 grams Butter
1 teaspoon Sugar
25 grams fresh Yeast
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 nos. Green Cardamom
1 Egg
75 ml Milk

For the Crème
3 teaspoons All-purpose Flour
3 teaspoons Sugar
1 Egg
200 ml Milk
Seeds from 1 Vanilla pod

You will also need:
100 grams Marzipan
Melted Chocolate, to decorate
Sprinkles/ Crushed Nuts/ Freeze-dried berries, to decorate

Directions:

In a saucepan, heat milk and butter together till the butter dissolves. Keep aside to cool down.
Place the yeast in a large mixing bowl and add the lukewarm milk-butter mixture to it (make sure the milk isn’t hot, otherwise it will kill the yeast).
Dissolve the yeast in the milk.
Next add sugar, crushed cardamom seeds, egg and salt. Mix everything well together.
Start adding the flour in batches and start mixing. Add just enough flour till the mixture is supple and can be kneaded without sticking.
Knead well for a couple of minutes, cover and keep aside to rise for about 30 minutes.
In the meantime, make the creme.
Take all the ingredients for the cream in a saucepan and cook on a low flame with constant stirring, until it thickens. It should thicken to a smooth, lump-free paste.
Take off the heat and set aside to cool. It has to cool completely before it can be filled into the buns.
Divide the marzipan into 8-10 small pieces.
When the dough has risen, roll it out on a non-stick or slightly floured surface and divide into 8-10 squares.
Place a teaspoon of the creme on each square and add a piece of marzipan.
Bring the four corners of the square together and seal them together so that the filling does not seep out.
Place the buns with the sealed flaps down, on a baking tray.
Brush with a little milk or egg wash and bake in a preheated oven at 200 C, for about 10-12 minutes or till golden.
Take out of the oven and let them cool.
Top them with melted white or dark chocolate and garnish with sprinkles, crushed nuts or freeze-dried berries.

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Treats from the Heart: Marzipan & White Chocolate Love Cakes

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Brace yourselves! It’s that time of the year again! Heart-shaped everything is coming :D

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As in wrote in my last year’s Valentine’s Day post, I don’t believe in making much of a fuss over this day. Romance is wonderful, but I like a bit of it everyday, a look, a touch; it isn’t something that’s packed away for a whole year and bubbles up in the form of pink and red mush, one day of the year.

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At the same time, a day celebrating love is not all bad, so long as you don’t feel the compulsion to spend big bucks, egged on by all the commercial hoopla, just to show your loved ones that you care.

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I like showing my love in little ways, something homemade, something DIY-ed.

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I remember this one year, just before the munchkin came along, I gave my husband a basket of fruit for V-day, with these funny, fruity love stickers. You know, the ones that say ‘You are the Apple of my eye’ or ‘We make the perfect Pear’ or ‘I’m going Bananas over you’! We had a good laugh that day <3

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Well, I am not one to let a perfectly good excuse like V-day go by without baking some goodies. These cuties were inspired by some lovely little, red foil cupcake cases I found a few months ago.

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The ingredients were inspired by what my loved ones love: the munchkin loves marzipan, the husband loves white chocolate… Voila! Little marzipan and white chocolate love cakes were born!

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Just for added effect, I stuck in strawberry halves in some of them. I love the red peeking through and they too look a bit like hearts, don’t they?

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These little cakes sure do spread the love! They are super moist from the marzipan and still wonderfully light and delicious from the white chocolate. You can really taste each ingredient.

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They also met with the high standards of li’l Ms. Picky Eater, who couldn’t stop smiling when she saw them. The strawberry ones are her favorite <3

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How are you guys celebrating? Do you go all out or keep it on the down low? I would love to hear all about it :)

Meanwhile I’m bringing a basket of these goodies to Angie’s Friday Feista, where the fabulous Suzanne @apuginthekitchen and Sue @birgerbird are co-hosting today! Can’t wait to see everyone at the party!

Here’s the recipe.

Marzipan & White Chocolate Love Cakes

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

150 grams good quality White Chocolate
150 grams Butter
100 grams Marzipan with minimum 60% almonds
150 grams All-purpose Flour
3 large Eggs
100 grams Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking powder
A few Strawberries (optional)

Directions:

Melt the butter on low heat in a saucepan.
Chop the white chocolate and add to the melted hot butter. Mix well till all the chocolate dissolves into the butter.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand-held mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes.
Grate the marzipan into the egg mixture and whisk until mixture is fluffy and creamy.
Sift flour and baking powder into the mixture. Add the chocolate butter mixture to the batter and mix everything together gently.
Grease muffin cups and pour the batter into them till half full.
If desired, you can stick in half a strawberry into each muffin, with the cut surface facing up.
Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C. Cool and dust them lightly with icing sugar.
You can decorate them with sprinkles or more chocolate if desired.

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From the Land of Nizams: Hyderabadi Bagara Baingan

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TGIF!! Seriously, it’s been that kind of week! I am so glad to see the back of it! Such weeks shouldn’t be allowed in the beginning of the year…

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Now that it is done and over with, I can turn to more important things… like Friday Fiesta :D Angie’s wonderful weekly soiree has now entered its second year.

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While we are still recovering from the merriment of the two-week long anniversary celebrations, another Friday Fiesta is already upon us and I am so happy for the distraction and the excitement :D

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For this week’s party, I have brought something fabulous from the land of Nizams, Hyderabad. The Nizams were the Muslim rulers of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad. While Hyderabad today is a pulsing IT hub, it has, since the early 18th century been a centre of culture, attracting artists from all over the world.

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Hyderabad today is the capital of 2 adjoining south-Indian states, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. This south-Indian location coupled with the centuries-old influence of the Nizams who were an off-shoot of the Mughals means that the Hyderabadi cuisine is a beautiful amalgamation of Mughlai flavors and traditional south-Indian ingredients like coconut and tamarind. Very unique and very delicious!

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The divine Hyderabadi Biryani and Haleem are part of this unique legacy of the Nizams. Along with a variety of luscious kebabs. And they were pretty good at desserts too… qubani ka meetha, a gorgeous dessert made with dried apricots or double ka meetha, a decadent bread pudding like no other.

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I had some lovely baby eggplants on hand and with Hyderabad on my mind, I made this gorgeous vegetarian curry that Hyderabad is famous for… Bagara Baingan!

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Imagine this… baby eggplants stuffed with a delectable peanut and sesame paste, roasted and simmered in an exquisite, creamy coconut, spices and tamarind sauce. Believe me, it is a curry that tastes as good as it looks, and it does look good, doesn’t it :D

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I hope the lovely bloggers at this week’s Friday Fiesta enjoy this curry as much as we did! This week’s party is co-hosted by two amazing and prolific bloggers Sonal @simplyvegetarian777 and Josette @thebrookcook. If you haven’t been to Friday Fiesta yet, you need to join us today!! Come right over :D

Here’s the recipe.

Hyderabadi Bagara Baingan

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

12 baby Eggplants
1 cup Peanuts
1/4 cup Sesame seeds
2 tablespoons desiccated Coconut
3 Cloves
3 Green Cardamom
1 inch piece Cinnamon
1 tablespoons Coriander powder
1 teaspoon Cumin powder
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
1 inch piece Ginger, roughly chopped
3 large cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1 sprig Curry leaves
1 large Onion, chopped
1 tablespoon thick Tamarind pulp or 3 tablespoons Tamarind juice
1 lime-sized ball of Jaggery
1/2 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds (optional)
2 tablespoons Oil
Salt to taste
A few sprigs Cilantro, to garnish
Pomegranate seeds, to garnish (optional)

Directions:

Dry roast the peanuts till crisp and toasted. Keep aside.
Toast the sesame seeds till slightly brown. Keep aside.
In a pan, dry roast the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves till they release aroma.
Add the chopped ginger and garlic and roast for a couple of minutes
Add the desiccated coconut and toast till slightly browned.Set aside to cool.
Grind together the peanuts, sesame seeds and the coconut and spices mixture, along with a little water and 1/2 teaspoon salt, in a food processor, to a medium-fine paste.
Clean the eggplant. With a sharp knife, make 2 length-wise slits in each eggplant such that you split it into 4 quarters, but they are still joint together at the stem.
Stuff the eggplants with some of the prepared paste. Keep the rest of the paste aside to be used in the sauce.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan.
Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the curry leaves and then the stuffed eggplants.
On a medium flame, cook the eggplants till they are well browned and cooked 3/4th of the way.
Turn-over a few times in between, so they cook on all sides. Take the eggplants out of the pan, onto a plate and keep aside.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same pan and add the cumin seeds.
When they sizzle, add the chopped onion and fry till golden.
Add the fenugreek seeds, turmeric powder, chilli powder and pepper.
Saute till the spices are aromatic and then add the remaining ground paste.
Cook with regular stirring for a couple of minutes.
Add the tamarind pulp or juice and the jaggery. Mix well and allow the jaggery to completely dissolve.
Check seasoning and add more salt if needed.
Add 1/2 cup water and mix well.
Then add the roasted eggplants to the gravy. Mix well, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Cook till the eggplants are soft and completely cooked.
Serve hot garnished with chopped cilantro and pomegranate seeds (if using), with rotis, chapatis or biryani.

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Fiesta Friday Anniversary Special (Part Deux): Honey and Nuts Baklava

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I must say this hasn’t been a great week. I was stuck at home for a couple of days with a fever, cough, sore throat, the works… the freaky weather is not helping, cold, gray, rainy and about to dip to -11 C next week. Hmm…

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But this weekend is all about the Friday Fiesta Anniversary… the block party continues for the 2nd week and that is enough to put me in the right mood :D

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And guess what, my Fish Koliwada appetizer from last week’s party was chosen by Angie and the lovely judges as one of the features… woohoo!!! Talk about starting the weekend on a happy note <3

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This week’s party is all about Mains and Dessert. It goes without saying that they need to be celebration-worthy. Not something that you would make everyday and something meant for sharing with friends…

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If you know me, you know I am all about decadent desserts :D Naturally, I skipped the mains and went straight for the sweet stuff!

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And this is what I have brought to the party: a large serving of luxurious, syrupy, nutty, rose and honey scented Baklava. With notes of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom… and citrus, of course.

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I think the first time I heard about Baklava was when I watched Disney’s Aladdin as a kid. You know when Robin Williams sings “How about a little more Baklava?” in the song ‘Friend like Me”…

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I promptly forgot all about it until years later, in Europe, I was re-introduced to it by Turkish and Greek friends. And I knew what the genie was going on about… more Baklava, yes please!!

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Flaky, crisp layers of delicate phyllo pastry sandwiched with the most divine filling of nuts and spices and drenched with sugar and honey syrup. Ummm… crispy yet soft and dripping with syrupy deliciousness.

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Sinful, indulgent and utterly addictive… and doesn’t it look spectacular? Come and join me at the Friday Fiesta Anniversary Part 2. If last week was anything to go by, there are going to be some really sensational mains and desserts today. And the lovely co-hosts  Nancy @Feasting With Friends and Selma @Selma’s Table will make you feel right at home, as they always do :D

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Here’s the recipe (adapted from Jamie Magazine).

Honey & Nuts Baklava

  • Servings: 24 pieces
  • Time: 90 minutes plus cooling time
  • Print

Ingredients:

100 grams Walnuts
100 grams Almonds
100 grams Pistachios
2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground Cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground Cardamom
150 grams unsalted Butter
2 X 270 grams packets (12 sheets) of Phyllo pastry
200 grams Sugar
100 ml Honey
2 tablespoons Rose water
1 Cinnamon stick
3 Cloves
2 strips of Orange Zest
2 tablespoons Lemon juice
A few Pistachios and dried Rose petals to garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Place the syrup ingredients (sugar, honey, cinnamon stick, cloves, orange zest, rose water, lemon juice) in a medium saucepan with 250 ml water and bring to a gentle simmer.
Let it bubble away, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by a third. Leave to cool.
(The syrup must be cool when it is poured over the pastry otherwise the pastry will go soggy.)
Heat the butter in a heavy-duty saucepan over very low heat, until it’s melted.
Let simmer gently until the foam rises to the top of the melted butter. The butter may splatter a bit, so be careful.
Once the butter stops spluttering, and no more foam seems to be rising to the surface, remove from heat and skim off the foam with a spoon. Keep aside till needed.
Blitz the nuts in a food processor until coarse, then tip into a bowl and stir through the ground cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
Lightly grease a 40 x 25 cm shallow tin with the clarified butter.
Gently unfold the phyllo and cover with a damp tea towel to stop it cracking.
Layer sheets of phyllo in the tin and brush each layer with clarified butter.
After 4 layers, scatter over half the nut mixture; repeat with 4 layers of phyllo , then the rest of the nuts.
Top with the last 4 layers of phyllo, then generously butter the top.
Cut into diamonds with a sharp knife – ensure the blade goes right to the bottom.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven on a hot baking sheet for 30–35 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp, reducing the temperature to 170 C if the baklava looks as though it is browning too quickly.
Remove the baklava from the oven and spoon half the cooled syrup over the top.
Leave for 5 minutes, then spoon over the remaining syrup.
Top with crushed pistachios and rose petals, if desired.
Allow the baklava to cool before removing the individual pieces from the dish with a palette knife.

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Friday Fiesta Anniversary Special: Fish Koliwada

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I still can’t believe it’s been a whole year since Angie, the brilliant Novice Gardener came up with the genius idea of Friday Fiesta! A super-fun, virtual linky-palooza that has become the perfect soiree to start off the weekend :D

DSC_0026Angie has managed to create such a warm, inviting atmosphere at this jamboree that many of us have become regulars and also found some really wonderful friends. It is also a wonderful place for newbies to get the word out about their blogs and find inspiration from other bloggers who have been around for a bit longer.

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But most of all, it is a lot of fun! Mingling with other bloggers, looking at what everyone has brought to the party, trying some of those things out yourselves, learning something new… isn’t that what blogging is all about :)

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Back to the anniversary special: To celebrate event as wonderful as this, the anniversary is being celebrated over 2 weeks :D Yay! Part 1 is all about starting the party off right: with drinks and appetizers!

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So, this is what I have brought to this super-special shindig: A delicacy from my home-town, Mumbai, called Fish Koliwada. ‘Koli’ are the fisher-folk of Mumbai. ‘Koliwada’ means a colony of kolis. There are several areas in Mumbai designated Koliwada, since there are of course a lot of fishing villages across the Mumbai coastline.

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Now the kolis are a passionate and jolly lot. And their food shows it. Lot of seafood (duh!) laced with a myriad of spices. No half-measures, no holds barred. Simple yet robust. Just like this fish koliwada; chunks of fleshy white fish marinated in a lovely medley of spices and fried to perfection.

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Utterly delicious, easy to prepare and can be made for a crowd without breaking a sweat. If you love seafood, you will love this lip-smacking appetizer. I hope Angie and this week’s lovely co-hosts Hilda @Along The Grapevine and Julianna @Foodie On Board enjoy these delectable bites :D

Here’s the recipe.

Fish Koliwada

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

500 grams Fleshy White Fish or jumbo Prawns (I used Pangasius)
1 teaspoon Red chilli powder
100 grams Chickpeas Flour
½ teaspoon Turmeric powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground Ginger paste
½ teaspoon freshly ground Garlic paste
½ teaspoon Garam Masala
½ teaspoon Cumin powder
Juice of half a Lime
½ teaspoon Ajwain (Carom seeds)
Salt as per taste
Oil to pan-fry

Directions:

Clean and wash the fish and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Add all the above ingredients to the fish, mix to coat and leave to marinate for about 30 minutes.
Pan fry the fish pieces in oil on medium flame till it turns reddish-brown in colour.
Squeeze lime juice over the pieces and serve hot.

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Carnival Capers: Maltese Prinjolata

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Hello, hello! How are you guys doing? Remember how I started the year on a super healthy note with this? Well, fear no more, that idea has gone for a toss :D

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Well, to be fair, I never really had a chance. Marta and I had planned this super-decadent Carnival challenge well before Christmas. Do you know Marta? She of the fabulous, magazine-spread quality photos and the baker of fantastic breads…

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Well, get yourselves over to Marta’s blog Platedujour right now! Pronto!! You will be at a loss for words (in a good way!). When your mouth has finally closed, be sure to hit follow :)

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Now, about this challenge: Marta and I, each set out to make a Carnival-themed cake, but not just any Carnival cake, it had to be a really, really decadent (we both love that word, btw!) cake and something neither of us had made before.

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We did not share any other details, each of us was left to our own interpretation of Carnival, only promising that we would both post our dishes at the exact same time :D Such intrigue…such fun! I can’t wait to see what Marta has come up with. Knowing her, it is sure to be mind-blowing!

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So now, back to Carnival and cakes! Carnival, for the uninitiated, is the period that starts from Epiphany (the day when the 3 wise men finally reached baby Jesus) and ends just before Lent.

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Now, since Lent is a period of fasting and moderation, Carnival is the time when one is allowed to kinda, get all the partying out of one’s system :)

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Throughout the Christian world, there are masquerade balls, street parties, parades and feasts. Most countries have their own traditions and customs during Carnival and certainly, special food to mark the decadence of Carnival.

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I researched a lot on the different cakes and desserts made specifically for Carnival. I wanted something that not only tasted rich and fabulous, but also something that captures the joy, the frivolity, the over-the-top madness of Carnival.

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My search ended in the lovely island country of Malta :D Behold, the Prinjolata (pronounced Priniolata)!! During the Maltese Carnival, these lovely cakes are made by cafés and confectioners in enormous sizes and sold by the slice.

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The name Prinjolata comes from prinjol, the Maltese word for pine nuts and pine nuts of course are an important ingredient in this crazy curiosity of a cake! Don’t these little lovelies look glorious and frivolous at the same time? Don’t they call out to the kid in you? Don’t they put a silly smile on your face :D

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This crazy cake starts off with a Genoise sponge, layered with a rich filling of Swiss-meringue buttercream to which lots of chopped pine nuts (and Whisky if you are especially naughty) are added. The two are layered together in a dome-shaped mold and left to chill.

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This dome-cake is then slathered in Vanilla Whipped Cream, topped with glacé cherries and more toasted pine nuts and melted chocolate! Hmm… certainly no half-measures in this cake! Talk about decadent! A lot of work went into it too, the better part of a weekend!

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Let me tell you though, this cake is crazy, decadent and completely divine! The super-light sponge, the rich buttercream, the cool whipped cream, the cherries and the pine-nuts: the combination is just fabulous! Not for the faint-hearted and a very special occasion, once-a-year-only kind of cake! Carnival only comes around once a year, doesn’t it ;)

Here’s the recipe (inspired by Sal Kitchen, but a mish-mash of different recipes).

Prinjolata (Maltese Carnival Cake)

  • Servings: Makes 2 small Prinjolata, serves 6-8
  • Time: 2.5 hours + Chilling time
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Ingredients:

For the Genoise Sponge
20 grams unsalted Butter
3 large Eggs
95 grams Caster Sugar
95 grams All-purpose Flour
Seeds from 1 Vanilla pod (or 2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract)
A pinch of salt

For the Buttercream Filling
2 Egg Whites
150 grams Butter, softened
300 grams powdered Sugar
Seeds from half a Vanilla pod (or a teaspoon of Vanilla extract)
A pinch of Salt
50 grams Pine nuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons Whisky (optional)

For the Topping
250 ml heavy Whipping Cream
40 grams Icing Sugar
Seeds from half a Vanilla pod (or a teaspoon of Vanilla extract)
50 grams Pine nuts, toasted
Approx. 20 Glacé Cherries, cut into halves
50 grams Dark Chocolate

Directions:

For the Genoise Sponge

Preheat oven to 180 C.
Butter a 12-by-18-inch pan, lined with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper and set aside.
Set the metal bowl of an electric mixer over, but not in, a pot of simmering water.
Combine sugar and eggs in the bowl, and whisk until mixture is warm to the touch, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on high speed until mixture is very thick and pale, 6 to 8 minutes.
With a rubber spatula, gently transfer mixture to a large clean mixing bowl.
Sift in the flour in three additions, folding gently after each.
In a small bowl, combine butter and vanilla, then add in a steady stream as you fold in the third addition of flour.
Fold gently, and pour out onto prepared pan. Smooth top with offset spatula.
Bake until cake is springy to the touch and golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on a wire rack.

For the Buttercream filling

Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in the heat-proof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water.
Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.
Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla.
Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes.
Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth.
Add the chopped pine nuts and mix gently.

Assembling the cake

From the sponge, cut out 4 discs of gradually increasing sizes that fit the widening diameter of your dome-shaped mold.
Moisten the mold and cover with a layer of cling wrap.
Place the smallest cake disc at the bottom of the mold. Top with a teaspoon of whisky, if using.
Top with a thick layer of the buttercream filling.
If there is any space left at the edges of the mold, stuff it with small bits of the sponge.
Continue alternating layers of sponge and filling until all the discs are used up and the dome is full.
Cover with cling wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4 hours.

Topping and Decorating

Whip the cream and icing sugar to stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla and mix gently.
Unmold the cake and remove the cling wrap.
Place the cake on a serving plate.
Coat the cake with a thick layer of whipped cream.
Decorate with glacé cherries and toasted pine nuts.
Melt the chocolate and let cool slightly.
Drizzle over the cake.
Refrigerate the cake and serve cold.

Prinjolata small7-001

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