Category Archives: Baking

A Happy New Year!

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A very, very Happy New Year to all of you from The Odd Hour Kitchen ūüôā

It has been so very long since my¬†last post¬†that I forgot my password ūüė¶ Silly me!

I have missed logging on & reading all my friends’ blogs, interacting & connecting with folks I’ve never met but yet who are like kindred spirits bonding over our love & passion for food. I have really missed that!

And I’ve missed writing.

So one of my New Year Resolutions, one which I do not intend on breaking, is to be more regular on my blog (at least more than once in 4 months!)… and to remember my passwords!! Fingers Crossed!!

Well one of the main reasons why I haven’t been blogging is that I have been baking… like a lot! I haven’t felt as centered, at one with myself or simply delighted than when I’m in my Kitchen, mixing, whisking, tasting away! I think I may have found my calling.

I took the plunge & decided to take my passion for food a step further… The Odd Hour Kitchen is now a small home bakery¬†ūüôā So with the apron, I now have on a little entrepreneurial hat. And it is such fun! I get to bake all the time, in my Kitchen with my music and spread love & joy through what I bake! All this without the extra calories (& the guilt that goes with it!) from the earlier days, when I just¬†had to bake¬†& whatever came out of the oven went straight to my hips! To be fair, I did share with the husband (who complained about the increasing inches round his waist!), my parents (who honestly don’t need the extra sugar!) & of course eager friends & family. But now with this new “venture,” my food is helping me connect & reach out to so many more!

It started with the¬†Raksha Bandhan festival in August, the day which, according to Indian tradition, celebrates the bond & love between brothers & sisters. The sister ties an ornamental thread or Raakhi¬†on the wrist of her brother who promises to protect her all their life while she in turn pledges to pray for his well being. The brother has to then gift her something pretty, while the sister gets him something sweet… of course, what would an Indian festival be without any¬†mithai¬†(sweetmeat)! There are loads & loads of Indian Sweets…¬†kaju katlis¬†(diamond shaped bites of heaven made with cashewnuts),¬†laddoos¬†(ball-shaped sweets made with different ingredients like chickpea flour, semolina, coconut & of course sugar & clarified butter), I could go on, & on…

But it’s not uncommon to go with chocolates, cupcakes, cookies either. In fact some of my first experiments in baking were nearly charred brownies for my brothers on¬†Raakhi¬†day!

Now, since I don’t burn my brownies anymore, & I have added a few more goodies to my repertoire, it seemed like a great time to open up my Kitchen to more people on¬†Rakshabandhan!¬†So I updated my¬†Facebook page,¬†sent out emails, Whatsapp messages to friends & family & put out 3 products on my menu… bite-sized versions to go with the Indian¬†mithai¬†theme.

And I got a surprisingly decent response & with that the exhilaration of baking to meet orders & deadlines… very exciting! All charged up then, I participated in a Bake Sale & then opened up for¬†Diwali,¬†the Hindu New Year. So far, I’ve been working from festival to festival & with a fairly fluid menu. Of course if somebody calls me & asks me to bake something for them off the menu, any day of the week… I never pass up the opportunity ūüėÄ

I’m hoping to crystallize the menu, get more organized & get myself out there a little better in terms of visibility this new year… & lets see where this goes ūüôā Meanwhile I’m happy to be experimenting, trying out new recipes & baking on request!

So, if you live in Mumbai (or have friends & family that do), & want to indulge your sweet tooth you could call, mail or check out my little online store for comforting goodies.

Here are some of things that I’ve been baking over the past few months.

These CHOCOLATE STREUSEL Cupcakes are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee… not too sweet, with a delicious crunchy chocolate chip topping.

DEVIL’S FOOD CUPCAKES… Rich, Dark, Moist & Mysterious… with a surprise filling in each… Eggless too! For a friend’s dessert night

Light, Melt in Your Mouth… I made these ALMOND SHORTBREAD COOKIES the first time for a friend’s baby shower

This one’s a Gluten Free, Nut Free, Dairy Free CHOCOLATE FUDGE cake… The husband’s childhood buddy & his brother dropped by for dinner & stayed till 5 am! The brother had all these diet restrictions… so this is what I served!

I call these BROOKIES… A Brownie & Cookie Hybrid ūüôā I made these the first time as an experiment on my unsuspecting brothers… it worked! I do them with home made Salted Maple Caramel Sauce & Almonds / Peanut Butter & Snicker Bars / Orange Marmalade

So that in a nutshell is what I have been up to over the past 4 months… with of course a trip or 2 to¬†Jaipur¬†to teach at the school & a visit to Singapore to ¬†see my adorable little¬†babus,¬†my¬†nephews. I do hope to cook more, share more recipes & be around a lot more!

To sign off… Magic, Dreams, Love, the Time to enjoy a good Book, favourite Music or a Quiet Moment alone, the Spirit to give wing to your Creativity, loads of exciting Adventures (inside the kitchen & out!) & of course Joy, Peace & Health…. That’s what I wish for you all this New Year!

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Busy Week Baking!

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It’s been quite a week! The incessant rain, the work at home… And of course, my Kitchen Adventures!

We had a family reunion on Sunday at my aunt’s. It was amazing! Almost everyone was there, together after years! Great conversation, alcohol, food! I was requested to bring along dessert… which I did!

On Sunday – Flourless Orange & Almond Cup Cakes with Ginger & Spice Infused Candied Orange Peels

Then my dietitian, who’s helping me on my weight loss quest (Oh have I been cheating! Luckily she doesn’t follow my blog!), requested me to experiment & work on a few baked goods that are healthy…

On Monday - Whole Wheat, Jowar (Sorghum) & Bajra (Millet) Breadsticks And Whole Wheat & Millet Crackers

On Monday – Whole Wheat, Jowar (Sorghum) & Bajra (Millet) Breadsticks
And
Whole Wheat & Millet Crackers

On Tuesday - Oatmeal & Banana Muffins

On Tuesday – Oatmeal & Banana Muffins

And my Ma & Dad had guests coming over for dinner & guess who was in charge of dessert?

On Wednesday – Mocha Almond Cupcakes

And of course I read up a bunch of recipes & wanted to try them all! Maybe next week?

ūüôā

Amo La Pizza!

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I love Pizza… I so do!

The local Pizza Delivery number used be on our speed dial & up until 6 months ago it was dinner almost every Sunday evening. The husband & I would, at one time, order & almost finish eating 2 large pepperoni pizzas, between the 2 of us! I say Almost, because I would save a couple slices for breakfast! There’s something ¬†oddly satisfying about leftover pizza, straight out of the fridge!

Well, that was 6 months ago. Now with the whole “We need to eat healthy!” thing that we have going & all the other changes we’ve had in our home & lifestyle, it’s been a while since we’ve reached for the speed dial! Though while I was recouping at my parents’ last month, we ordered from this new place that had opened in their neighbourhood,¬†Francescos Pizzeria¬†& it was so¬†good! There was a¬†Bianca, with 5 cheese, sage & a dollop of sour cream on the side & an Eggplant Parmigiana… I had never eaten eggplant as a pizza topping before this… & that’s pretty healthy too!! Indulgence without the guilt!

So when I read about a Pizza Making Class happening at¬†Serafina,¬†the Bombay branch of the popular New York Pizzeria, I was super excited! Back in the day Ma & my grandmother used to make pizza from scratch at home… dough & all. It was delicious but they didn’t quite make the thin, crackly crust that I love. It was going to be awesome learning how to… Specially since I’m still in my¬†I love being a Student¬†mode!

My friend Kiran (you should check her blog,¬†All You Need Is An Egg Plant¬†for her food experiences wherever she travels, gorgeous photographs & great recipes) & I decided to sign up together… We hadn’t met in a while, so what better way for 2 baking enthusiasts to catch up than over mixing bowls!

Serafina had a very warm & comfortable vibe & the chefs, specially Chef Rahul & Ashish, who were going to teach us were very good at what they do & extremely generous when it came to sharing tips & techniques.

I think making pizza is so therapeutic! ¬†You vent out all your aggression & frustration while kneading the dough. And then you pour all your love into gently stretching & rolling out the dough, & spread the sauce & sprinkle the toppings with joy… And feel great & very proud on seeing a delish result!

My Very Own Hand Made Pizza…. Perfect with a glass of White Wine Sangria…. followed by a Red one!

The Pizza just before I popped it into the gorgeous Wood-Stone Oven. The sauce was made by the chefs using special tomatoes from Italy. I wanted to keep the flavours simple, so I topped the pizza with Black Olives, Mozzarella & Basil

I did it! I stretched out & shaped the dough by hand… & did not make the map of India! See, it’s almost a circle! I used the rolling pin just to finish it.

The dough I kneaded… but of course we didn’t use this one. The dough I rolled out had been resting in the fridge for 5 hours.

My work station just before we started… with all the ingredients neatly laid out, & a Recipe Booklet!

Some More Biscuits & the Facebook Page

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Well encouraged by the success of the¬†buttermilk biscuits¬†I made 2 days ago, I thought I’d experiment some more.

I used this recipe from Joy of Baking & tweaked it around a bit. I made half  a batch with Cheddar & Rosemary & half with Chocolate Chips & Lemon Zest.

Cheddar & Rosemary Biscuits

Chocolate Chip & Lemon Zest Biscuits

While the Cheddar ones were a hit with everyone (yay!!!) the Chocolate Chip ones didn’t quite live up to expectation… of course it’s chocolate¬†so you can’t go wrong, yet they weren’t as delish as the cheese ones.

No problem! Gone Wrong? Made Right!

Inspired by an Ice Cream Burger (little Brioche buns layered with ice cream) ¬† my friend Priti had at¬†The Sea Lounge at The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel¬†on Father’s Day this year, I decided to make my very own Ice Cream Sandwich!

My “Made Right” Ice Cream Sandwich

Slice a biscuit in half.

Spread a generous amount of Nutella & pop into the microwave for 15 seconds.

Scoop on a dollop of Chocolate Chip Ice Cream… And it’s ready!!

Oh! And yes… I have a ¬†Facebook Page¬†up now! Check it out & spread the love ūüôā

A Left-Over Lasagna

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The¬†Mango¬†Season is on it’s way out in the City, but that never stops us at the Vakil household! Each year Ma gets dozens of¬†Pairee¬†Mangoes … sweet with just the right amount of tartness & the pulp not too thick… perfect for the juice & squeezes out batches of¬†Aam Ras¬†(Mango Juice), packs it small boxes & freezes it… to be defrosted & eaten when the craving hits you after the fresh fruit is gone! This¬†Ras, in our Gujju household is eaten as a meal accompanied with either¬†Pooris (small, round, deep fried whole wheat flatbread),¬†Poli¬†(thin, layered whole wheat¬†Roti¬†or flat-bread) or our family favourite¬†Safed / Chokha ni Rotli¬†(cottony soft white flat bread made with rice flour).

Safed / Chokhani Rotli

These Rice Flour “Tortillas” are soft, melt-in-your-mouth, & surprisingly light. You could go through a half dozen of these without even realizing it! And they take on the flavour of Mangoes beautifully.

To make these Rotlis, you basically mix equal parts of rice flour & boiling water to which salt & oil are added, & knead out a soft, firm dough. Then you roll out small, thin rounds & roast them on the tawa¬†or griddle.¬†I’ve never tried making them myself… the process always seemed a little complicated for me! And besides I have to admit, with great embarrassment, that I cannot roll out a perfect round Roti / Rotli / Chapati¬†to save my life!

Yes… this Good Gujarati girl married into a Mighty Maratha family cannot make the traditional, staple, Indian flat-bread ūüė¶

But what I can do is make good use of these beautiful Rotlis on the rare occasion that we have a small batch leftover!

And that’s just what I did… Made a perfect light dinner in this gorgeous cloudy weather, after a long walk through my favourite streets in the City, Hot Chocolate & Contemporary India Art… a lovely evening out & about with my oldest, closest pal! Because guess what? I’m not under¬†house arrest¬†any more!

I made my version of a wholesome, flavourful Lasgna using these beauties!

Note: You could use Whole Wheat or Corn Tortillas instead of the Rice Flour ones.

Ingredients

  • 6 – 9¬†Safed Rotlis
  • 100 gm Cheese (grated)
  • Salted Cracker Crumbs
  • Olive Oil

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Filling

  • 200 gm Cottage Cheese (crumbled)
  • 100 gm Sweet Corn (boiled)
  • 1 Green Capsicum (finely chopped)
  • 1 small Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

 

 

 

 

 

Sauce

  • 8 – 9 Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 Onions (finely chopped)
  • 8 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 dried Red Chillies (torn to bits)
  • 1 teaspoon¬†Kallonji¬†(Onion or Nigella Seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon¬†Jeera¬†(Cumin Seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon¬†Ajwain¬†(Carom Seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon¬†Kasoori Methi¬†(dried Fenugreek Leaves)
  • Red Chilli Powder / Chilli Flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Haldi¬†/ Turmeric Powder
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Mixed Herbs
  • 3 tablespoons Tomato Ketchup or Puree
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Wine

Method

Filling

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl & keep aside.

Sauce

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan & add the cumin, carom & onion seeds.
  2. When they start to crackle, toss in the dried red chillies, onion & garlic. Saute till the latter are a light gold.
  3. Add tomatoes & salt. Cook till the tomatoes are soft & then add the chilli powder, turmeric, herbs & fenugreek leaves.
  4. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water or stock & the ketchup .Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Pour in the red wine & simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the flame, allow to cool & then coarsely process the tomato mixture to make a chunky sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting it Together

  1. Grease a deep baking dish and arrange a layer of the Rotlis.
  2. Pour some of the tomato sauce over it & then spoon in the filling.
  3. Cover with the tomato sauce, followed by another layer of the Rotlis, sauce & filling & continue doing so till you run out.
  4. Top up with a layer of the tomato sauce. Cover with grated cheese, cracker crumbs, chilli flakes & herbs.
  5. Drizzle olive oil over generously & bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 C for about 25 minutes.
  6. Serve hot with a dollop of hung yogurt whisked together with some chilli flavoured cheese spread.

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This Recipe Serves 4