Friday, February 25, 2011

Walnut topped Chocolate Brownies

Desserts – my children love to end their dinner always with a dessert.  They do not necessarily want a starter or even a main meal, but a dessert is always a must after dinner.  Not necessarily always to be a pudding or a cake – they content themselves even with a small chocolate as long as it is designated “dessert” and is “sweet”.  I have a very small electric oven in the kitchen, so anything I bake has to be minuscule in size – 4 portions mostly so no chance of a second serving in case all four of us at home like the dessert and are not ready to share.  When it comes to dessert, at home we can be very selfish and really fight over it – all of us have a sweet tooth.  I do sometimes forgo my dessert if I husband wants my share and uses mean means like reminding me of my weight to get it from me.  I have been promised a bigger oven once we renovate the kitchen – but that can be a few years away. 

I have seen many brownie recipes, but the one below is quite quick to prepare and since the butter is more, it is quite moist and creamy.  I also top it with a lot of walnuts which is a good source of proteins.  One of my colleagues once mentioned, “A dessert is really tasty when you feel you have sinned when you eat it.”  Now I would not say I thought I sinned when I ate this brownie, but I did feel guilty after a generous serving.  But then again, it is not that I feel guilty everyday.

Preparation Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 6


250 grams all purpose
2 eggs
250 grams castor sugar
250 grams unsalted butter
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoon broken walnut bits
1 tablespoon milk (if needed)


  1. Beat the butter, sugar, eggs till soft.  
  2. Add the salt, vanilla essence and cocoa powder and beat further till creamy.  
  3. Add the flour and mix well.  
  4. If the mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon of milk.  
  5. Pour the mixture into a buttered and floured cake tin and sprinkle the broken walnut bits on top.  
  6. Bake for 40 minutes on 180 degrees C.  Serve warm or cold.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Soya Bean Roasts

I used to travel to the UK a lot for my work.  One of the things I loved to buy from there was soya nuts from the “food Doctor”.  I remember munching these away while waiting for my flight and not being bothered by the calories they contained and know how good soya is for health.  So it was one of those snacks which I did not feel guilty eating.  The project I was working on ended in the UK and so did my travels.  I have always missed those nuts.  So after experimenting with different flavours, I think I finally found something I am happy with and matches the soya nuts I so fell in love with in the UK.  Not to mention the ones I make at home cost me 1/8th the price of the ones from the food doctor.

Preparation Time:  30 minutes

1 cup dried soya beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon dried mango powder
Salt to taste


  1. Soak the soya beans in water overnight.   
  2. In the morning drain the water and pat dry.   
  3. Spread on a baking tray.  Pour the olive oil over the beans and mix well.   
  4. Sprinkle the salt, mango and cumin powders and mix well and put in a pre heated over at 180 degrees C for 30 minutes.  
  5. Every 10 minutes make sure you move the beans around in the tray so they are evenly browned.   
  6. Depending on your preference if you like them browner, you can keep longer in the oven.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Chicken Curry (Malabar)

If people are able to take advantage of a system, do you blame the people for that or the system itself?  I have several times come across people who complain about immigrants being able to claim benefits from the government here in Belgium even though the locals are unable to profit from those same benefits as easily.  But then do you blame the people for that because they use and/or abuse those benefits or should you blame the government and system itself for having flaws in their procedures which enables people to abuse the benefits?  

I am sure there are genuine cases where people are in need of help and might not even survive were it not for the help from the government and its agencies.  On the same hand, we have people who abuse these benefits and people who really need this assistance are denied it or it becomes more difficult for them to get it.  Were people to be more honest, even if the system had flaws, it would not be abused.  However, it is rare to find honesty these days and hence the system itself needs to then be fool proofed.  But in any case I would not support comments where we generalize a group of people when actually it is just a small part of that group or population that is to blame.

Preparation Time: 1 hour
Serves 6


1 chicken
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
3 red chillies
6 peppercorns
¼ teaspoon turmeric
5 grams cinnamon
5 grams cloves
5 grams cardamom
1 tablespoon aniseed
1 tablespoon oil
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
Salt to taste
4 medium sized red onions
2 cups coconut milk
500 grams potatoes
2 sprig curry leaves
1” piece ginger
1 tablespoon butter
1 small red onion
1” piece cinnamon
6 cloves


  1. Clean and joint the chicken.  
  2. Roast coriander seeds, red chillies, peppercorns, aniseed, cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms.  Grind together to a paste and keep aside.  
  3. Peel and slice onions and keep aside.  
  4. Peel and quarter potatoes and keep aside.  
  5. Peel and slice ginger and keep aside.  
  6. Heat oil in a thick bottomed vessel.  
  7. When hot, fry the onions and mustard seeds.  
  8. When the seeds splutter, add the ground masala and the chicken pieces.  Fry for 5 minutes.  
  9. Add salt and cover and cook on a low fire till the chicken is nearly done. 
  10. Add the coconut milk, potatoes and ginger.  
  11. When potatoes are cooked, and the gravy is thick, remove from fire.  
  12. For the tempering, in another vessel heat butter.  
  13. When hot, add the sliced onions and slightly crushed cinnamon and cloves.  
  14. When onions are brown, pour over curry and serve hot with plain boiled rice.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lady's Finger and Tomato Curry {Okra & Tomato Curry}

Last week I had experimented with on-line shopping for my grocery.  Of course it was not a total success because I missed out on some things and had to go to another supermarket to purchase those and bought things I had already bought on-line – so had a double of many things.  But on the whole, I liked the experience and so am trying it out again this weekend.  Throughout the week I have been adding to my on-line shopping list and then finally yesterday evening I checked out (virtually) and will pick up the grocery tomorrow morning.  It will save me at least 1 hour of time which is so very precious for me on a Saturday – it means either some extra sleep time or then a quick trip to the local library to get some books for the children.  Getting up by 6 o’clock every morning during the week means I would use that extra hour to sleep in and send the hubby to the library with the children.
The recipe below is for a very simple okra and tomato curry which is quick to cook and has a nice tangy taste.  I used it as a side dish to complement some grilled salmon I had made and it worked well together.  Alternatively you can also have it as a light dinner along with some bread or chappatis (Indian bread).  

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 2


150 grams Ladies Finger
250 grams Tomatoes
1 medium red Onion
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon Corn Flour
1 teaspoon Sugar
½ cup milk
Salt to Taste
3 tablespoons sunflower Oil


  1. Slice ladies finger to medium sized pieces.  
  2. Pan fry in 2 tablespoons of oil for 15 minutes.  Keep aside.  
  3. Grind tomatoes and onions to a fine paste and keep aside.  
  4. Mix corn flour with milk to a smooth consistency and keep aside.  
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a thick bottomed vessel.   
  6. When hot, add the tomato-onion purée and cook till the raw taste disappears, approximately 5 minutes on a medium flame.  
  7. Add turmeric, chilli powder, salt, sugar and corn flour mix and stir for 2 minutes.  
  8. Add fried ladies finger and cook for 2 more minutes.  Garnish with cream.