Ria's Collection: February 2019

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


The kids and I love to spend a lot time in our home library as well as public library. Everytime we go to the public library , we end up spending way too much time and bring back home way too many books. No matter how many times this has happened, I still carry just one reuseable bag to bring the books home. And after checkout, there will be so many more to carry and I would struggle to bring them all to the car in one go,while making sure Zarakutty doesn't wander away in the parking lot. She sometimes asks me to carry her on my hips as well while I am struggling to carry just the books alone!
Anyway long story short, I've been cooking a lot from such borrowed cookbooks lately. I get bored very easily if I have to cook the same recipes over and over again. That list does not include our daily fare like Kachiyamoru, Meen Varuthathu, Thoran, Mezhukkupuratti , Beef Olathiyathu, Meen Vevichathu etc. Now you must be wondering what are the other things that can get me bored. Well, I like to have the above mentioned items for lunch and for dinner, something else. That's when I like to make to different things.
This dal recipe comes from the celebrated author Madhur Jaffery's cookbook At Home with Madhur Jaffery and it's fantastic! It pairs really well with rice as well as rotis. I like to serve this kind of dal with plain white rice where as the dal made with ground coconut, basically our parippu curry with Matta rice. So I always have stock of varieties of rice at home. Basmati, Jeerakashala, Matta, Sona Masoori, Idli Rice...these are my pantry staples!

I have bookmarked so many other recipes from this book to try. Her recipes are so simple and easy to follow.
Serves 4-5

1 cup masoor dal *, washed and drained
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 packed cup chopped cilantro
1/2 -3/4 teaspoon red chili powder
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 medium onion, chopped
10-15 fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 big grated clove of garlic

Method: Pressure cook the dal with 3 cups of water and turmeric powder for 4-5 whistles. Once the pressure has settled, open the cooker and mash it completely.
Add the tomatoes,salt, cilantro and red chili powder. Bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for 10 mins.Stir and turn off the heat.
Pour the oil into a small pan and on medium heat pop the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Add the onions and curry leaves and fry till the onions start to brown. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for a minute. Then empty the contents into the cooked dal and stir to mix. Serve hot!

* You can use 1/2 cup masoor dal and 1/2 cup moong dal instead. This is what I used and it was delicious!

Whenever I share pictures of my dal on Instagram, I get questioned as to how I make it. Well, this is one way of cooking some delicious dal and it's incredibly easy as well. It pairs really well with white rice, chapathi, poori etc. I really hope you enjoy this curry as much as we did!

Friday, February 15, 2019


Smith Island Cake 2
Hello everyone! I am back and I have lots to tell you! January was a busy month for us since we were travelling back and forth. We came back from Atlanta and then in less than two weeks, we flew to Los Angeles and then embarked on a cruise ship to Ensenada, Mexico. It was a fun filled trip and we came back home with lots of good memories to last a lifetime! Then the mighty winter storm hit us along with Polar Vortex and all I wanted to do was to hibernate until June. Jobin left for India on work for two weeks just hours before the storm began. This year, we've seen a huge amount of snow.
Smith Island Cake

 Today, we complete 9 years of married life. I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by. It feels just yesterday that I was talking to you about our wedding preparations. Now times have changed. We both don't seem to be that enthusiastic about it but Ian on the other hand was just too excited about our wedding anniversary. He has made three cards for us and even decorated the house in whatever way he could. When I was planning on what cake to bake, he insisted that I should sit back and relax while he bakes it for us. He even wrote down a recipe that he found in a cookbook in his own words. It was too cute to see how much our little offspring has grown. Zarakutty just repeats whatever her Cheta has to say and follows him around the house. She is turning out to be a non-stop talker.
Smith Island Cake
I found this recipe in a cookbook called Perfect Cakes that I borrowed from our library. It has some very special recipes for simple and elegant cakes...just the kind I like to bake for us on our special occasions. Nothing over the top fancy for us please. This recipe may seems daunting to you but trust me, it's a very simple one. It's funny how so many people have a feeling that I make complicated things where as in reality, it's really simple. Just read through the recipe and you will know what I am talking about.
Smith Island Cake

Smith Island Cake 2 (1) Makes one 9 inch 9 layered cake

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs,separated plus 3 large yolks, room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch cream of tartar

Frosting: Place chocolate in a large bowl. Heat cream, sugar and salt on medium heat stirring occasionally until sugar melts and the mixture begins to bubble around the edges. Take off the heat and pour over chocolate. Whisk to combine. Add vanilla and butter and whisk well to combine. Cover and chill for 1 hour until the icing is firm but still spreadable.

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 F and generously grease two 9 inch round cake tins, line with parchment paper, grease parchment paper. I used four 9 inch round tins, so it was much easier.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cup sugar. In another bowl, mix together melted and cooled butter, buttermilk, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla.
Pour the butter mix into the flour mix and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape and beat on medium speed until well combined, 15 seconds. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until glossy stiff peaks form. Fold the whites into the flour mixture in two batches.
Pour 2/3 cup batter into the cake tin and bake for 11-12 mins until golden around the edges and firm to touch. Let it cool in the tin for 5 mins and then remove cakes from the pan. Let it cool completely. Continue baking the remaining layers the same way. I got 9 layers.

Sandwich the cake layers with 1/4 cup of frosting and spread the remaining frosting on top and sides of the cake. Decorate as you please.
The response I got when we cut into the cake was phenomenal. Imagine, you slice into a cake and when you gently pull it out, 9 super thin slices sandwiched using a sleek chocolate frosting comes out? It's so exciting and I must say, this cake is mighty delicious. I will really consider making it again. It's simple to make yet so fantastic to look at. The four of us couldn't stop with one slice. Nothing fancy yet incredible!
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