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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book Review | Return of the Trojan Horse – Tales of Criminal Investigation by Amit Dubey


Return of the Trojan Horse – Tales of Criminal Investigation by Amit Dubey

The blurb says:

Hello Amit, don’t waste your time; you can’t hack my system. But we will hack your country! Ameen.

They know me! This wasn’t good. The greatest fear a hacker has is having his identity revealed. During investigative operations, I always guarded my identity like the Kohinoor diamond. Then how could they have reached me? It was a-l-m-o-s-t impossible. 

A young software engineer, who, as a hobby, starts helping the Police in solving criminal cases, turns into a critical resource for the Force. He becomes entrapped in the system. Return of the Trojan Horse is the riveting narration of how he is compelled to draw inputs from his personal life and use sharp thinking and advanced technology to solve the criminal cases he is brought into. Based on real life, the book reveals the next generation methodologies used in crime investigation.

With the advent of internet and technology, our lives have changed drastically. We cannot imagine living a day without internet and our gadgets. Every facet of our lives is touched by technology; from the way we shop our groceries, plan our holidays, to how we book our cabs, movie tickets, etc. Whatever we do on the internet, we leave our digital footprints behind. While technology has made our lives easier, it has also made us more vulnerable.

We live in a world where criminals and terrorists are using hi-tech methods and equipment to plan their acts. And hence it is no surprise that those involved in criminal investigations also use advanced technology and next generation methodologies to crack crimes cases. Return of the Trojan Horse – Tales of Criminal Investigation by Amit Dubey gives us a sneak peek into the world of crimes and criminal investigation and how big a role technology is playing in today’s time.

Before I talk about the book, here is something about the author Amit Dubey that you should know. He is a well-known persona in the field of Crime Investigation in India and helps various police departments and security agencies in India to solve criminal cases. He is an IIT alumnus and a software engineer by profession. He speaks regularly at international conferences on cybercrimes and ethical hacking. He has also been featured by CNN-IBN as a National Security Expert.

Given the author’s background, I had high expectations from the book as I felt that the author will be drawing in from his rich experience in the cybersecurity field and will have something interesting to share. The book didn’t just meet my expectations but surpassed it. There are three different fictional case studies in the book - one dealing with a terrorist attack, one involving a kidnapping case and one revolving around a hit and run case (although I do feel somewhere they do have some resemblances with real incidents). All of them are narrated in simple and easy to follow language. The author doesn’t aim to preach or educate you about anything – he just narrates you a story of criminal investigation and how with the help of technology he helped in solving them. The use of technical jargons is minimal and hence the storytelling never feels overwhelming at any point in time.

As you go through the pages of the book, you will know how easy it is to track anyone who uses a smartphone and is connected to the internet. It is quite scary in a way that we are all oblivious to how vulnerable we all are in today’s time connected by technology.

The narration in the book is crisp and to the point. Yet, it often evokes many emotions in the reader– at some point, you will feel angry, sometimes anxious and helpless and often you will feel a strong sense of patriotism. A good pick for anyone interested in reading stories from the field of cybersecurity, criminal investigation and ethical hacking.

This book makes for a great gift for any book lover. So, this Diwali you can gift it to a book-loving friend of yours.




I received a free copy of the book from Leadstart Publishers in lieu of an honest review.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Jason Cage (Jason Cage Series #1) by aKay Brothers – A Book Review




Jason Cage (Jason Cage Series #1) by aKay Brothers 

Books can make you travel places and that is one way it helps in breaking the monotony of life. Last few months things were quite busy at my end and I was hardly getting any time to read anything worthwhile. All the titles I had at hand were not looking very inviting and were pushed away with the ‘read later’ tag. And then I got a mail from the authors of this new book ‘Jason Cage’ for a review and as I read the blurb I was instantly interested.

The authors of this book call themselves aKay Brothers – a pen name under which they are writing a series of books centering around the life of the protagonist named Jason Cage. The book review I am posting today is for the 1st book that has been published recently.

What an interesting and exciting read this book has been! And now I can’t wait for the next book in the series. At first instance, I felt it was a crime thriller, but then there are elements of paranormal fantasy and also some sub plots in historical settings. The best thing about the book is the pace of the story – it builds up interest in the readers and gets them hooked. Even when the settings in the book change, the pace is maintained and that I believe is one of the hallmarks of a good writer.

But, then there is something that needs to be worked upon. I came across a number of editing errors and spelling mistakes in the book that needs to be done away with to enhance the reader’s experience. A tighter editing is recommended for future books.

Jason Cage is a man with a mysterious birth and has a life that is far from normal. He is tormented by his dreams – they are the precursor of events that are about to happen in someone’s real life or in some cases have already happened. But one thing is common - his dreams bring bad tidings. After losing his parents to unnatural deaths and after a stint at a Medical school where he befriends Lisa and Bill, he finally seeks solace in a Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh. Jason knows that his stay there won’t last forever, so he tries to make the most of his time there by keeping a very low profile. But, little does he knows that his dreams will strike him again and he will not have an option but to follow them.

Don – a peculiar creature resembling a lion is Jason's companion and has been by his side most of the time since his birth. The uncanny and peculiar thing about it is that it is visible only to Jason. The author takes us places through Jason’s dreams – sometimes to a time more than half a century ago where a doctor is trying to frame his friend as a blood sucking vampire and then to place where a man meets his death in the most mysterious circumstances after opening a parcel. There is again a sub plot with the settings in ancient Egypt where a man’s folly leads to the rising of the devil.

Amidst all this, there is this dream where Jason sees that Lisa’s (who used be his crush in his college days) life is in danger. That’s when he decides it is time to venture out and save Lisa. But how is he going to do it? He has no idea where Lisa is and to top it, he has no money. How will Jason embark on his journey to save Lisa and will he be able to do it?

Another plot running through the book is that of Dr Dhristi from RAW. After a successful mission of capturing LeT head (seriously that reminded me of the Akshay’s Kumar starter movie –Baby), she deploys her best man to get hold of Jason Cage. Why? That’s a question I am hoping would be covered in the next books.

Just as is expected from books where the story is revealed in a series, there are too many unanswered questions in the first book of the Jason cage series.

What has the Egyptian devil from centuries ago and RAW from the present times got to do with Jason?

How all of these are going to converge to Jason is a thing to read in sequels as and when they get released.

This is a book outside my frequently read genres and it was a welcome change for me. Anyone who is interested in crime thrillers or books on paranormal fantasy will surely find it a great read. If you want to know more about the book, you can visit the author’s website. www.akaybrothers. You can grab a copy of the book on Amazon too.

I received a free r-copy of the book from the authors for an unbiased review.



Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stuffed Aloo Paratha | How to Make Aloo Parathas | Weekend Breakfast Recipe Ideas



Even though we love parathas, they are not a regular thing in my house. They make an appearance on the dining table once or twice a month and that too when I run out of veggies in my pantry. But, we like to have parathas for breakfast when we are travelling or are on a vacation and want to have a filling meal.

When I was thinking about what to post for the 3rd day of  'Special Weekend Breakfast' theme for BM#79, I realised that I have never posted a paratha recipe on this space. So naturally, I decided to post the recipe for one of the most popular parathas that are made in most homes as a special weekend breakfast. It's none other than Stuffed Aloo Paratha.

Let's check out how I make it -

Stuffed Aloo Parathas

Ingredients:

1½ cup whole wheat flour.
Pinch of salt
Water to knead the dough.

For the filling:

2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and crushed
¼ cup of cooked green peas, slightly crushed
1 green chilli, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves.
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp jeera
½ tsp amchur
½ tsp garam masala
salt as per taste

Ghee or oil for shallow frying

Process:

1. In a large bowl, add whole wheat flour, salt and knead the dough using water as needed. Cover the dough and let it sit for at least 15 mins before you proceed with rolling.

2. Heat a pan and add oil. When the oil is heated, add the cumin seeds, minced green chillies and grated ginger. Add the crushed green peas and the mashed potatoes and all the spices and seasoning. Give the mixture a good stir. Add chopped coriander leaves and mix again. Heat it for another 2-3 minutes and then turn off the gas. Take the pan off the gas and let the mixture cool completely before using them to fill parathas.

3. In order to make parathas, take the dough, knead it for a few seconds and divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal sized dough balls.

4. Using some dry flour roll the dough ball into a roti about 3cm in radius. Place 2-3 tbsp of the prepared filling in the middle. Join the edges and close it forming a ball. Roll it again about 6 cm in radius.

5. Meanwhile, keep a tava for cooking the paratha on gas flame. Place the rolled paratha on the tava, when one side is done turn it over and heat on the other side. Brush ghee on the top and turn it over. Brush ghee on the other side as well. Apply pressure with a turning spoon to ensure even cooking.

6. Repeat the same with rest of the dough balls.

7. Serve the parathas with pickle and yoghurt. Enjoy them hot.

BMLogo

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Paneer Veggie Grilled Sandwich | Weekend Breakfast Recipe Ideas


Can you resist the taste of golden, crisp, grilled sandwich with a cup of hot tea?

Grilled sandwiches are a regular fare during weekends in my house. So, on the 2nd day of Week#4 of BM# 79 under my chosen theme of 'Weekend Breakfast Ideas', I am sharing the recipe for a much loved grilled sandwich. I use freshly made homemade paneer in making the filling for this sandwich. However, you may use grated ready to use paneer also.

Let's checkout the recipe below:

Ingredients:
8 brown bread slices

For the filling:
1/4 cup freshly made paneer
3 tbsp chopped capsicum
1 small carrot, grated
1 small green chilli finely minced
2 tbsp chopped coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp tomato sauce

To assemble:
green chutney
tomato ketchup
butter to grease

Method:
1. In a bowl, add all the ingredients for the filling and mix. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Set aside.
2. Apply butter on one side of each bread slice. On the unbuttered side of 4 bread slices apply green chutney and on the remaining 4 slices apply tomato ketchup.
3. Take the slices with green chutney side up and spread the prepared paneer filling. Cover with the bread slices smeared with tomato ketchup with buttered side up. Repeat the same with the rest of the bread slices.
4. Grill them on a sandwich maker till golden lines appear on both sides. Slice them into two halves.
5. Serve hot with ketchup and green chutney. Enjoy!


BMLogo

Friday, August 25, 2017

Club Kachori Recipe | How to Make Club Kachori | Special Weekend Breakfast Recipe


Anyone who has lived in Kolkata for a while will know about this quite popular weekend breakfast dish - Club Kachori. This dish is DH's favourite and whenever he is in Kolkata, he doesn't miss to indulge gorging on it for breakfast at a popular snack shop in the locality.

For the uninitiated, the name of this dish can be a little misleading. The kachoris here are not like the khasta kachori which are well known all over India; they are more like bite size puri. But, there is a difference. Into the dough of these kachoris, goes coarsely urad dal paste, suji, little chilli and ginger paste and some hing which gives it its characteristic taste

These kachoris as deep fried and are served with a spicy potato curry. In some places, pumpkin is also added to the curry. Panchporan - a Bengali whole spice mix added in this curry, makes it taste a little different from the regular potato curry.

Typically, maida is used to make the kachoris, but at home, I use atta (chapati flour) to make them.
Without much ado, let's check out how to prepare Club Kachori Kolkata style.

This is the first recipe I am posting under Weekend Breakfast Theme of BM#79


Club Kachori

Ingredients:

For the Kachori/Puri

2 cups atta
¼ cup suji/semolina
2 tbsp oil
¼ cup urad dal, washed and soaked in water for at least an hour
¼ tsp hing/asafetida
1 tsp chili paste
1 tsp ginger paste


For the Potato Curry:

6 medium size potato, boiled, peeled and chopped
2 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and pureed
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 green chili, chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp hing
½ tsp each of sauf, methi seeds, ajwain, kaloni and rai (panchporan)
1 red chili
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder, or to taste
2 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
½ tsp amchur
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp kasuri methi
Handful of coriander leaves

Process:

1.       Drain the soaked urad dal and grind coarsely in a grinder. In a mixing bowl, add the coarsely ground urad dal paste, atta, suji, oil, hing, salt, chili and ginger and using water as need, knead a firm dough. Cover it and set it aside.
2.       To make the potato curry heat oil in a pan, add hing, jeera, red chili, green chilli, ginger and garlic and sauté for a few seconds. Now add sauf, methi seeds, ajwain, kaloji and rai and stir so that they start crackling. Now add the tomato puree. Cook for about a minute and then add the chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt, and coriander powder. Cook for a couple of minutes. When you see oil leaving its side, add the potatoes. Stir. Now add 1 cup of water. Stir and bring it to a boil.
3.       When it comes to a boil, the gravy will also start thickening, add garam masala, amchur and crushed kasuri methi and stir. If needed add little more water, cover and bring to a boil.
4.       Check for spices, adjust if needed. When done, add chopped coriander leaves and take it off the flame.
5.       In order to make the kachori/puri, divide the dough into small balls (little bigger than marbles). These kachoris are about 2 inches in diameter.
6.       Roll them into thick rounds (little thicker than puri). Thin ones do not puff well.
7.       Heat oil in a Kadhai and when the oil is heated enough, fry them 2-3 at a time (depending on the size of your Kadhai) on high heat. When it is brown on one, flip and fry the other side for a few seconds. Drain them on paper towel. Repeat the process till you have used all the dough.
8.       Serve the potato curry with these hot kachori/puri along with a dollop of achar, sliced onion and some tomato and cucumber slices for a filling weekend breakfast/ brunch.

Notes:
1. Do not roll them too thin or too big, else they will not puff well.
2. Always fry these kachoris on a high heat, it helps them in puffing.


BMLogo

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Penne Pasta in Red Sauce with Veggies | Pasta in Red Sauce Recipe


On days when I am not in the mood to cook an elaborate Indian meal with roti, subji, dal and chawal, pastas come to my rescue. They not only make for a filling meal, but can be made relatively faster. The recipe I am sharing today is that of penne pasta in red sauce along with some veggies. I have added just capsicum and sweetcorn, but if you are not pressed for time, you can add many more veggies - anything that catches your fancy.

I always prefer to bake my pasta for the final cooking. First I boil the pasta in water till they are just done. When the sauce is ready and I toss in the pasta, cook on stove top for a couple of minutes and then transfer it all in a casserole, top it with cheese and bake it for 15-20 minutes. I think this way flavour of the sauce seeps into the pasta making it taste great.

I am sharing this recipe under Summer Casserole Dishes Theme of Week#2 of BM#79.



Ingredients

2 cups cooked penne pasta
1½ cup fresh tomato puree
¼ cup tomato ketchup
¼ cup finely chopped onions
1 tsp garlic paste
½ cup chopped capsicum
½ cup boiled sweet corn 
Salt to taste
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dry red chilli flakes
¼ to ½ cup grated cheese

Process:

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add the butter, followed by chopped onion and garlic and sauté on a medium flame for 2 minutes.
2. Add the chopped capsicum and cook it covered on a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fresh tomato puree and salt and cook it for 5-7 minutes. Stir in between.
4. When it looks a bit cooked, add tomato ketchup, oregano, chilli flakes and sugar. Stir well and cook on a medium flame for about 7 to 10 minute. The red sauce should be nice and thick by now.
5. Add the cooked pasta, boiled sweet corn and gently toss everything and cook on a medium flame for 2 more minutes. The pasta should be well coated with the sauce.

6. Transfer the pasta in a casserole that has been pre-greased with butter. Top it with grated cheese and bake it in a preheated oven at 180 C for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot. Enjoy!


Notes:

1. You can add any other veggies of choice like broccoli, mushrooms, baby-corn, etc.

BMLogo

Monday, August 14, 2017

Lebanese Beans Salad | How to make Lebanese Beans Salad | Salad Recipe



I was very much hoping that I would be able to keep up with my schedule for the blogging marathon this month. I had been taking part in it since last 2 months so that I could keep this blog running. But, this month my schedule went haywire. A little lack of planning on my part and some unexpected writing assignments that came my way kept me busy and this little space was ignored. I am going to make up for it and will be posting my recipes here now.

My chosen theme for week #1 is Lebanese cuisine and as a part of it, I had posted my version of Fattoush Salad and a recipe for Hummus (without Tahini). The third and final recipe for the 1st-week theme is 'Lebanese Beans Salad'.

It is a simple salad but is power packed with protein. Beans are extensively used in Lebanese cuisine and this salad is one of the great ways to add some veggies and beans to your diet.

Let's check the recipe now.

Lebanese Beans Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup boiled chickpeas
1 cup boiled red kidney beans
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, cut in chunks
1 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
a handful of coriander leaves, chopped
a handful of mint leaves, chopped

for the dressing
juice of 1 lemon
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic finely crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Process:

1. Mix all the ingredients of the dressing in a bowl and whisk nicely.

2. In a large bowl add the salad ingredients and drizzle over the dressing. Shake well so that the dressing is well incorporated.

3. Cover the bowl and let it rest for at least half an hour in the refrigerator. Take it out, shake it and serve.

Notes:

1. If you are using canned beans, make sure you rinse them well with water before adding to the salad.

2. When using dried beans, soak the beans overnight and cook separately in a pressure cooker till they are thoroughly cooked but not mushy.

BMLogo

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hummus | How to make Hummus without Tahini | Hummus Recipe

When you think Lebanese cuisine, the first dip that is likely to come to your mind is - Hummus.

The basic version of it is typically made with chickpeas, olive oil, seasonings and lemon juice. So, for my second post of BM #79 under Lebanese Cuisine, I am sharing a simple recipe for this ubiquitous dip.

Hummus is served in many ways - you can serve it as a dip with pita bread, it is also used as a spread for falafel wraps. For those who are interested in healthy snacking, you can have dollops of it with carrot sticks or cucumber pieces.

The recipe for hummus I am sharing today is without tahini. Tahini, one of the optional ingredients in hummus is actually sesame paste made with a little bit of oil. I had hummus for the first time when I was living in Dublin and to tell you the truth, I was not very delighted with its taste. For our Indian palate it seemed a little too bland - in my view, the one I had wasn't seasoned well - it could do with a little more salt and lemon juice.

In the versions I have tried at home, I use lemon juice a little too generously. Let's check out how I make the basic version of hummus.


Hummus with Carrot Sticks

Ingredients:

1½ cup chickpeas, cooked
2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Add everything in a blender jar and start churning; add water as needed to make a smooth paste.

2. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve drizzled with little olive oil and lemon juice with carrot and cucumber sticks or with some pita bread chips.

BMLogo

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fattoush Salad | How to Make Fattoush Salad | Healthy Recipes

Last month had been an indulgent one for me foodwise. If you have checked my last month's posts, you will notice I posted mostly sweet dishes - brownies, kheer, peda. All that was part of the themes I chose to do for that month's blogging marathon.

But, the result is now seen when I stand on the bathroom scale!

Such is the life of a food blogger - I want to cook all the delicious dishes in the world, but then I have to take some steps back as ultimately I will be on the receiving end.

So, for this month, I decided I would start the blog with something really healthy. My chosen theme for the first week of BM#79 is Lebanese cuisine. And today I am posting the recipe for Fattoush Salad, albeit a customised one. I will tell you why?

Fattoush is a Lebanese bread salad - greens, veggies and toasted pita bread pieces are the main ingredients. But, I have never loved bread croutons in my salad and for that reason, I have skipped the toasted pita chips in the fattoush salad I made.

Second, the dressing typically used for this salad has two vital ingredients among others - sumac and pomegranate molasses. Sumac is tangy dried powder made from a kind of Middle Eastern red berry. Pomegranate molasses as the name says is made from pomegranate and is a commonly used ingredient in Middle eastern cooking. I didn't have both these ingredients at hand, so I made the dressing without them. I have read that these two ingredients can make a lot of difference to the salad and I will surely try them whenever I get to buy them.

I did search about making pomegranate molasses at home and there were many links that said you could make it by cooking pomegranate juice over a low heat for a long time. But, then I am really wary of cooking fruit juices. So, I dropped the idea and went ahead to make my customised Fattoush Salad.

Let's check out how I made my Fattoush Salad.

Fattoush Salad

Inspired from here
Ingredients:

4-5 Romaine Lettuce leaves washed and chopped
1 large tomato, chopped in chunks
1 small cucumber, chopped in chunks
1 small onion, sliced
a handful of mint leaves
a handful of coriander leaves, chopped
1 cup chopped pita bread pieces toasted ( I didn't use)

Dressing:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp sumac ( I didn't use)
2 tsp pomegranate molasses ( I didn't use)

Process:

1. Mix all the ingredients for the salad dressing in a bowl and whisk nicely.
2. Mix all the salad ingredients except toasted pita bread pieces.
3. Right before serving, add the dressing to the salad. Top it with pita chips (if you like) and serve immediately.

BMLogo

Friday, July 28, 2017

Oats Mathri Recipe | How to Make Oats Mathri


After posting sweet dish recipes one after the other here it's time I share something savoury. So, for the 3rd day of my special day/festival theme in blogging marathon, I am sharing a recipe for these oats mathri.

Along with sweets, savoury snacks also have their rightful space in the menu during festivals – be it Diwali or Holi you cannot do without munching on a handful of them.

Looking for some more savoury snack ideas check out these:

Namak Pare
Rice Krispi Chiwda/Puff Rice Chiwda
Masala Peanuts

Using different types of flour in cooking is quite in trend these days. So, I decided to make these mathris with oats flour and whole wheat flour. Without much ado, let’s check how I made them

Oats Mathri
Ingredients
2 cup oats flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ajwain
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp crushed kasuri methi
About ¼ cup to ½ cup water for the dough
Oil for deep frying

Process:

  1. In a mixing bowl add all the ingredients and using water little by little knead a firm dough. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 4 balls. Roll each dough balls 1/8 inch thick and using a cookie cutter cut out circles of the dough. Poke a couple of holes in them and transfer the circles to a clean plate. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
  3. Heat oil in a pan for deep-frying. When the oil is hot enough deep fry mathri in batches in hot oil turning them in between. They are done when they are light brown in colour on both sides.
  4. Transfer them on a kitchen towel so that excess oil is soaked out. Once they are cooled store in air tight container.
  5. Enjoy with a cup of hot masala chai.

Notes:

1.       I churned rolled oats to get oats flour.
2.       Poking holes in the rolled circles ensure that mathri will not puff up like a puri when deep fried.
3.       Keeps well for 2 weeks when stored properly in an air tight container.
4.       The dough should be firm. A soft dough will not yield crisp mathri.
Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!


If you are on social media, take a minute to follow me there for all sorts of recipe updates.


BMLogo

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Instant Peda Recipe | Peda Recipe with Milk Powder and Condensed Milk


Instant Peda Recipe | Peda Recipe with Milk Powder and Condensed Milk

For the 2nd day of Week 4 of Blogging Marathon under the theme ‘Special Day/Festival’, I am posting the recipe for yet another favourite Indian sweet – Peda. It is rich milk fudge flavoured with cardamom or saffron. It is also one of the favourite sweets of Lord Ganesha. So, it sells like hot cakes during Ganesh Chaturthi.

Traditionally Peda is made with khoya and sugar. Making khoya from milk is a painstaking process where you have to heat milk on low flame for a prolonged time so that all the liquid from the milk evaporates, leaving behind a dense and rich khoya. My mom makes peda from scratch and it is really a long process. You have to be really patient to make it that way.

The recipe I am sharing today is quite instant – by using milk powder and condensed milk you can prepare delicious peda in just 15 minutes. I browsed a lot of YouTube Videos before finally trying it out.

The first time I tried it, I heated the mixture little longer than necessary, so they came out little hard – but they tasted good nonetheless. So, I tried it again and this time they came out semi- soft but not soft like malai peda. But, they were good enough.


Ingredients:

200 g milk powder
200 g condensed milk
3 tbsp ghee
4 cardamom pods, crushed and finely powdered

Process:
1.       In a non-stick pan on medium flame add ghee. To it add the milk powder and condensed milk and using a spatula stir well such that the mixture is uniform and well mixed.
2.       Keep heating the mixture on medium heat for about 10-12 minutes and using the spatula keep tossing and turning the mixture as it cooks.
3.       Add the cardamom powder and mix well. Take it off heat. At this point, the mixture should resemble smooth soft dough.
4.       Take the dough out into a clean bowl and let it cool down a little.
5.       When the dough has cooled enough to handle (but not completely cold), grease your palm with little ghee and form small bite size balls.
6.       I used terra cotta moulds to get the design impression on the peda. If you have such moulds, you can do the same. Else you can just flatten the balls a bit and put a finger impression.
7.       If you like you can garnish them with chopped pistachios.


Notes:
1.       These pedas were semi soft with a chewy taste – but not soft like malai peda. If you like them little hard, you can heat the mixture for another 5 minutes.

2.       It is very important to keep stirring the dough while cooking, else it can get brown.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!


If you are on social media, take a minute to follow me there for all sorts of recipe updates.


BMLogo

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Badam ki Kheer | Almond Kheer | How to Make Almond Kheer

I do not get to make kheer often at home as DH doesn't like it much. But, whenever I make it to treat myself, I make 2-3 servings and enjoy a bowl of kheer with every meal. I really like kheer a lot. I like my kheer to be creamy with cardamom and saffron, and there should be lots of dried nuts in it.

So, when I chose 'Festival/ Special Day' theme for week 4 of BM#78, I decided to make almond kheer. With Raksha Bandhan around the corner, I think the recipe fitted the bill perfectly.

On most festive and special occasions in India, Kheer finds a place in the menu. Be it a birthday or an occasion like Raksha Bandhan. There are many version of Kheer - the one with rice being the most common and popular. You can also check out my Carrot and Almond Kheer recipe here.

This Badam Kheer is actually quite rich and should be served in small portion size. Let's check out how I made Badam ki Kheer/ Almond Kheer from scratch.




Almond Kheer

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1-litre full-fat milk
3 tbsp condensed milk
1 tbsp sugar
¼ cup almonds
2 cardamoms, powdered
10 strands of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp milk
Almond slivers, chopped pistachios of garnishing

Process:

1. Soak almonds in water for an hour. Drain the water after an hour and soak them in hot water for 5 minutes. Peel off the skin from the almonds and grind them into a rough paste.

2. Boil milk in a deep non-stick pan. Let it simmer on low to medium flame for about 15 minutes, such that the milk reduces to about 3/4th volume.

3. Add the almond paste and boil the milk for another 7-10 minutes. Depending on how thick and creamy you like the kheer, you can boil it for another 10 minutes or so.

4. Add the condensed milk and sugar and stir well. Add cardamom and saffron milk. Stir again and take it off heat.

5. Let it cool down and then you can transfer it to a serving bowl and keep in the fridge to chill.

6. Serve it chilled with almonds and pistachio garnishing.

Notes:
1.       If you do not have condensed milk, you can skip it and add more sugar for sweetness. I had some leftover condensed milk so I used it in the recipe.

2.       This kheer takes best when served chilled.

Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!


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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

No Bake Raw Dates & Nuts Brownies | No Bake Brownie Recipe


I had long wanted to try a no-bake brownie. But, being an ardent chocolate lover I had my doubts if such a brownie will be worth the try.

Well, we will never know about it unless we try. So for the 3rd day of the blogging marathon under the 'brownie theme,' I decided to try yet another version of our beloved brownies - No Bake & Raw Dates and Nuts Brownies.

I used this recipe as an inspiration to come up with my version. I didn't use chocolate ganache as I wanted to make it as healthy as possible. 

Here is how I made it:

Ingredients:

1 cup dates, pitted and halved
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp Bournvita powder (optional)

Process:

1. Line a 6 inch tin with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a blender jar, add the pitted dates and blend it till it looks like a fudgy mess. Take it out into a large bowl.
3. Now finely powder the almonds in the same jar, followed by walnuts. I then added them together again in the blender jar together for a quick mix.
4. Add it to the bowl again, add cocoa powder and bournvita powder (if using). Using a spatula mix it and then tip it into the parchment lined tin.
5. Spread it evenly and press it to get an even surface. Dust some cocoa powder or bournvita powder over the set brownies.
6. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then slice it. They are ready to devour.




Here are my thoughts on the No Bake Raw Dates & Nuts Brownies

1. For those looking for really healthy brownies, it is a good choice. You can alter the quantities of nuts to suit your taste. Walnuts might give a slightly bitter taste in the end. So, you can use just 2 tbsp of it or skip altogether.

2. I think they tasted best after a day. The first day they tasted like dates and nuts bar. But, on the second day, the flavour of cocoa was more pronounced giving it a good chocolatey taste.

3. If you want to make it more decadent, go ahead and cover the brownies with a layer of chocolate ganache. Or you might add some ganache into the dates and nuts mix. In that case, you might have to let the set brownies rest for a while before you slice to get neat slices.


Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

If you are on social media, take a minute to follow me there for all sorts of recipe updates.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bourbon Biscuit Brownies | Easy Bourbon Biscuit Brownie Recipe



What do you do when you have a sudden urge to have brownies, but do not have any ingredients at hand to bake it? Or maybe you want to bake a brownie but do not have the time to follow a super lengthy recipe.

If you have ever faced such a situation, then this recipe will come to your rescue. For the 2nd day of my brownie theme Blogging Marathon, I decided to post this quick-fix brownie recipe. With just a handful of ingredients making brownies this way is a breeze.

This is cheat's version where bourbon biscuits are used as a vital ingredient – no need of additional flour, sugar, or butter. Looks too good to be true, try the recipe yourself.




Ingredients:

200 grams Bourbon biscuits
50 grams digestive biscuits
2-3 tablespoon Bournvita powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder
About  ¾ cup +2 tbsp milk
1 tsp plain Eno Fruit Salt 
Butter or oil to grease the pan

Process:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease a 8” square cake tin and line it with parchment
2. In a mixer jar, add the broken digestive biscuits, bourbon biscuits and churn it into a powder.
3. Take a large bowl and tip in the biscuit powder, add Bournvita powder, cocoa powder, and stir. Add milk little by little and whisk to get a smooth batter.
4. Add the Eno Salt to the batter and give it a quick stir. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
5. When baked, insert a skewer in the middle to see it comes out clean.
6. Take it out of the oven and let it cool down for 10 minutes. You can then lift the brownies out of the pan along with the parchment.
6. Once, the brownie has cooled down to room temperature, slice it into squares and serve with a generous drizzling of chocolate sauce.


Notes:

1. These brownies are not intensely chocolatey. So, it is best to serve them with a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

2. You can also add 1/2 cup choco chip or chocolate chunks in the batter for an intense chocolate flavour.

3. This recipe should also work with any other chocolate flavoured cream biscuits, like oreo, etc. Instead of digestive biscuits Marie biscuits or Milk Bikies can also be used.

Still, want to try making brownies the traditional way – check out some other recipes already posted here.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Eggless Fudge Brownie with Beets | Eggless Beetroot Chocolate Brownies Recipe


If there is one thing that can make me forget all about conscious eating and diet control – it is chocolate. There are times when I do control myself from having that extra piece from the chocolate bar. But, on most occasions, it has the better of me. That’s why I prefer not having any chocolate bars at home. Perfect solution, isn’t it?

The intense chocolate flavour in fudge brownies is perhaps one of the reasons why I prefer them over cake any day. Give me a slice of soft, dense chocolatey brownie and I will wander into my chocolate nirvana. When I saw Srivalli had listed a brownie theme in the 78th edition of the Blogging Marathon, I instantly chose it.

I have already tried a number of brownie recipes and have shared a couple of them here. Check out these

Eggless Nutella Brownies
Eggless Chocolate Brownies
Eggless Fudge Brownies
One Bowl Eggless Brownies
Sinful Eggless Walnut Brownies
3 Minutes Microwave Brownies

Yet, there are so many brownie variations that are on my to-do list. I have seen many brownies with chocolate and beetroot combination doing rounds on the internet. So, I decided to try it myself. I used this recipe for fudge brownies as a standard and tweaked it to come up with this recipe. 

After having a slice of these beetroot fudge brownies, I realized beetroot and chocolate is a winning combination. There is no trace of any beetroot flavour. Unless you tell anyone, no one will ever make out this secret ingredient in the recipe. I used wheat flour and oil in this recipe to make it even healthier. Check out my recipe below.

Eggless Fudge Brownies with Beets

½ cup whole wheat flour or atta
¼ cup maida
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp instant coffee
100 g dark chocolate
½ cup beet puree
½ cup powdered sugar + 2 tbsp brown sugar
¼ cup oil
¼ cup whisked yogurt
¼ cup to ½ cup water
2 tbsp chopped walnuts

Process:

1. Line an 8” square brownie pan with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven at 180 C.

2. In a large bowl add atta, maida, cocoa powder, coffee, and baking powder. Use a whisk to mix everything together. Set aside.

3. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and add it to a medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave it for 1 minute so that it melts. Whisk it to get smooth melted chocolate. To it add oil and stir. Add sugar and stir it again. Now add yogurt and beets puree and whisk it nicely.

4. Add this wet ingredients mixture to the dry ingredients mixture. Add ¼ cup water and whisk to make a smooth batter. If the batter looks thick, add another ¼ cup water. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and top it with chopped walnuts.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. When done, a skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean.

6. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes before you can lift it from the pan along with the parchment paper. Slice and serve.


Notes:

1. To prepare beets puree, I pressure cooked 2 medium beets. When cooled, I peeled and chopped them and churned in a mixer jar to get the puree.

2. For fudge brownies, I prefer lining the tin with parchment. Since fudge brownies are quite soft and mushy, it is easier to lift the brownies out of the tin along with the parchment.

3. Slice them after the brownie has cooled a bit for neat slices.

4. You can do away with the maida in the recipe and add whole wheat flour or oats flour instead.

5. You can also double the beets puree and omit the yogurt and half the water amount for red looking brownies.

6. I had run out my regular powdered sugar, so I used 2 tbsp of brown sugar. You can regular sugar too.

If you are on social media, take a minute to follow me there for all sorts of recipe updates.


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