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The Cooker

Updated: 2018-03-05T15:22:30.725-08:00


(Un)Fruit Cake


I happen to like fruitcake. Every year in December I make fruitcake. But I don't advertise this fact. The kids are all too aware of the baggage that fruitcake brings along. As I bake a lot around the holidays, a fruit & nut cake sneaks pasts them very easily! So far I haven't been satisfied with the fruitcake doozies that I've churned out. If making fruitcake was bad enough making a bad

Jampot In My Kitchen


Jamshedpur, aka Tatanagar, Jampot, the city that Jamshedji Nuserwanji Tata on the banks of the Suvarnarekha and Kharkai rivers. This is where my husband grew up and this is 'home' to him. Though Jamshedpur has changed in many ways, it has also remained the same. The slow and simple way of life and the quietness is much the same. Sure, there are way more traffic lights, cars, coffee shops, and

Variations On A Theme


Though this is a recipe for a 'basic' vanilla cake, there is nothing basic about it. Sure it is easy to prepare and uses ingredients that you probably already have, but this is a flavourful and a deeply satisfying cake. Over the years I have baked it umpteen times and each time with a slight flavor variations. This posts lists some of our favourite variations. Here is a picture of a loaf baked

A Happy Medium


These are the results of my (seemingly) endless efforts to bake a decent loaf of whole wheat bread. Since replacing just one cup of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour does not maketh a loaf of bread whole wheat I started by using only whole wheat flour. We suffered through numerous loaves that were either too hard, too rough, or as the children called it too healthy before I came to

Airline Pulao


There was a time, when the kids were very young, that occasional meals were built around a rice dish (a pulao or a khichadi). Along with a yogurt-based salad, roasted papad, some steamed carrots & broccoli we had ourselves a meal. It was one such evening and I was winging a pulao, literally throwing in things that caught my fancy. One of the things I added was a hefty pinch of cardamom and

Methi Times Three


I wish there was a clever or an amusing story to go with this recipe. But there isn't. No preamble. This is quite simply my favourite way of making methi-cha-varan/ methi-daal. It has methi in three forms: slightly soaked methi seeds, methi seeds in the phodni (tadka, tempering) and finally glorious methi greens.Methi-cha VaranIngredients1 cup toor (arhar) daal, washed1 - 1½ cup methi leaves,

Orange. Oats. Almond. Love


The book was renewed till I couldn't renew it yet again. At that point I decided to buy a copy for myself. By now I have lost count of the vegan recipes I have tried from this book. When I'm not baking from it, I'm simply perusing the recipes. A good read. The primary reason for diving into the vegan recipes is the need to cut cholesterol for everyday foods. The other and equally important

So Many Fools, So Little Time


Dessert doesn't get any easier.Berry fool: Crushed/ macerated berries mixed with lightly sweetened whipped cream.An added bonus: the entertainment factor that comes with having the word fool in it's name, as in "Let's have some strawberry < insert the name of your favourite sibling/ cousin>."Rather lame, I know.Photo courtesy my daughter, A.IngredientsThe proportions are a mere guideline.10-12

Bread! hic.


My first attempt at making beer bread was an unmitigated disaster. The taste, texture, and smell: all awful. I blame the beer!It took me a good couple of years before giving it another try. This time I made many changes to the original recipe and ended up with this lovely loaf: As far as I know, the alcohol in the beer burns off in the 45 mins of baking time. What is left behind is the almost

A New Favourite


For years my favourite recipe for banana bread came from The Joy of Cooking. Moist, with a fantastic banana flavour, easy to put together; no reason to look elsewhere. Until now.A recent Home Plates column had not one but two recipes for banana bread; specifically banana-orange bread. Sometimes one comes across recipes that you want to try right away. This was one such recipe. I even had three

You Had Me At Samosa


The samosa casserole has been calling my name for a while. This week I finally got around to making it.While the idea of a samosa filling topped by a whole wheat crust was absolutely appealing, the combination of spices and the way they are used, not so much.Fortunately for me, I found this recipe for aloo phoolkopur samosas. Now this was more like it! Our dinner yesterday: Bengali-ishtyle

Zucchini Overload


"I have something for you."Flowers? Chocolate? A string of South Sea pearls?Not even close.The significant other then handed me a zucchini of extraordinary proportions.So huge one could fatally whack someone in the head with it and destroy the evidence by eating it up. The zucchini in a 13x9 baking pan.Over the next week I was literally chipping away at it. Here is how:Zucchini cake Incredibly

A Party Of One


The morning tea at my Ajji's place (grandmother, in this case my paternal grandmother) was a leisurely and elegant affair. It stretched from about 7 am to 9 am; sometimes even longer than that.The silver tea service was beautiful, the handmade cozies for the teapot and the milk pot colourful and functional, the cups and saucers light and dainty. Everything was perfect and exactly to her taste. So

Difficult Daughter


"Difficult daughter"!That is what my father was surely muttering under his breath as he went up and down the bylanes of MG road in Pune.He was, on what was turning out to be, a fools errand.Who knew it was going to be so difficult finding Parsi sambhar masala in Pune?Finally he was lead to the home of the Parsi couple who ran a home-based business selling Parsi fare. By the cold and terse

He Cooked. And How!


As the kids get older they are no longer satisfied staying on the other side of the kitchen counter. As a result, the kitchen is getting crowded and I couldn't be happier.I will be using this space to list some basic recipes, family favourites, and ideas for quick meals for their reference. The son usually plays the role of a consultant. Sitting by the kitchen counter very generously doling out

How to cook rice


The crowded kitchenAs the kids get older they are no longer satisfied staying on the other side of the kitchen counter. As a result, the kitchen is getting crowded and I couldn't be happier.I will be using this space to list some basic recipes, family favourites, and ideas for quick meals for their reference.The easiest and quickest meal, I think, is varan-bhaat. Especially if both the rice and

Cake Pops: Finally


I've wanted to make these cake pops for the longest time.Today I finally got a chance to make them.Here they are:Seriously, how cute are they?They were quite easy to make: crumble cake/ cupcakes, mix in some frosting, make the balls of this mixture, poke in a candy stick, freeze them for a bit, dip in melted chocolate or candy melts, decorate, and finally ready yourself for the oohs and

Rosemary Daal


My daughter and I love rosemary in everything. Literally everything. In addition to the usual (savoury) suspects such as bread, salad dressing, and flavoured oils we especially like it in daal. Usually moog daal (split mung beans) or toor daal (split pigeon peans, arhar, tuvar). Though rosemary-toor daal is good too, my preference is for the rosemary-moog daal combination.The non-distaff side of

Simple Food


The simplicity of this dish takes your breath away. This is a simple and unpretentious way to prepare chard. The addition of rice gives it such a fantastic texture. If you use red chard, the rice grains take on that colour. Beautiful!Increase the quantity of rice and this becomes a meal in itself.Red Chard-Rice BhaajiIngredients1 bunch chard, washed and chopped1 (or more) green chillies1 inch

Berry Good


Several months ago my friend A lent me her cast iron skillet; one which she hardly used at all. I'm seriously in love with this skillet. I've used it so often for so many things that unless A explicitly asks for the skillet it is mine.The first thing I baked in the skillet was a whole wheat-semolina bread. It was to die for. The recipe needs some fine tuning before it is ready for prime time (on

Gooey Goodness


For as long as I remember my son's birthday cake has been the same: chocolate cake, chocolate filling, chocolate frosting. Sure there are times when he deviated slightly but those were rare occasions.My daughter, on the other hand, firmly believes that variety is the spice of life.Earlier this month when I asked her what cake she wanted for her birthday, pat came the answer 'chocolate lava cake'.

Constant Craving


You know how sometimes a tune gets stuck in your head and keeping on playing. You can't get it out of your head. This is particularly vexing if it is a cheesy tune and it gets stuck in the early hours of the day.Something similar happened last week; instead of a tune, the voices kept saying 'muthia, muthia'. This was surprising since muthias are not something I make often. So where was this

A Renewed Taste Reference


There are many foods for which I do not have a taste reference; either I never had one or have forgotten it.Mawa cake is one such food. This cake is available in most bakeries across India but I do not remember the last time I ate one.A friend had recently baked mawa cupcakes which she shared hoping to know how close they were to the real thing; for she too had no taste reference! Though the

The Plated Dressing


Last week I had met some friends for a potluck lunch. Along with a few other things I had volunteered to take along a salad. The main reason for offering to bring along a salad was the hope that I'd venture to make something other than my usual basil dressing. Unfortunately the days leading up to the potluck were rather hectic and I ended up taking along my same boring dressing.As I was getting

Flop! Flop!


A double flop.The recipe for the cupcakes was from a favourite blogger. Maybe there is nothing wrong with the recipe. Maybe it was a bad idea to substitute cake flour for all purpose flour (the box of cake flour said it was ok to do so).The result were these cupcakes which looked good and smelt great but tasted horrible. Extremely pasty to taste and very doughy.The recipe for the frosting was