Watermelon Slush

This summer has been oppressively hot and unbearable. The tendency to drink something cold has made me make fresh watermelon juice and have it in the fridge instead of store bought sugary ones. There are days when I long for ice cream, being lactose intolerant keeps me away from them. So here is a substitute, a healthy and tasty one, which will surely keep you cool and happy.

I also tried making granita/ watermelon ice. Once it was frozen, I scraped it with a spoon to form an ice. It does take a long time to do that and I prefer the slush, which takes much less time to do. It is super-easy to make with just 2 ingredients. I did not add the sugar but if you want it sweet, go ahead and add it.

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Chakka Pradaman/ Jackfruit Payasam

Happy Vishu! Vishu is the beginning of the New Year in the state of Kerala. You can read more about Vishu here.

This is a creamy sweet dessert which can be eaten hot or cold. With pieces of fried crunchy coconut, this is heaven! Try it! You can make this vegan by leaving out ghee and adding non dairy butter instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chakka varatti (jackfruit jam)
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped dried coconut or 1 tbsp cashew nuts

Directions

  • Take one cup of jam in a heavy bottomed pan
  • Add 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup of water and cook on a low flame
  • Make sure the jam is mixed well into the coconut milk. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the ginger and cardamom powders
  • Add another cup of coconut milk and cook for another few minutes
  • In a small pan, heat ghee. Add chopped coconut or cashews and fry till golden brown
  • Add to payasam
  • Serve hot or cold

Chakka Varatti (Jackfruit Jam)

Jackfruit is a fruit one either loves or hates. It looks like durian and is sometimes mistaken for one. It can be eaten both raw and ripe. You can prepare side dishes with the young raw jackfuit as they are not sweet. This is considered as the new super food and is called the new vegan sensation. There are recipes calling it a meat substitute. We would never think of it as a meat substitute. There are traditional recipes which taste really well. The fruit is high in fibre.

Jackfruits are grown extensively in the south of India, especially in Kerala. You will therefore find multitude of recipes with both the raw and sweet varieties. Even the seeds of the ripe jackfruit is roasted or added in curries. Cutting the fruit is quite a task. Remember to oil the knife and hand while cutting the whole fruit. It is time consuming but worth the effort. You can even find just the fruit pieces now in stores. When we get the whole fruit my husband cuts it for me. This time, my brother-in-law got the fruit and the family sat together to cut the fruit, while I sat and ate it as it was cut. The ripe jackfruit is sweet almost like honey. Here is a recipe for a jam. You can freeze this jam for upto a year. Whenever required, take a portion to make payasam which will be posted next.

Chakka Varatti (Jam)

Ingredients
  • 4 cups ripe jackfruit pieces
  • 2 cups natural brown sugar (jaggery)
  • 4 tbsp ghee (You can make this vegan by leaving out ghee and adding non dairy butter instead)
Directions
  • Chop up the jackfruit pieces
  • Place in a pan with 1/2 cup water and cook till soft. Or, pressure cook till soft. Cool
  • Blend to a fine paste
  • In a heavy bottomed pan or uruli, add brown sugar, 1/2 cup water and jackfruit paste
  • Keep stirring and cooking
  • Add ghee and continue to cook. Keep stirring till the paste amalgamates to form a thick jam. Cool and store in the fridge. I store it in the freezer for upto a year.

Cinnamon Coffee Crumb Coffee Cake

I have my usual quick dessert recipes which I make often. But at times, I get bored of making the same. This is a new recipe which had some raving reviews from my friends. This recipe has been adapted from Trisha Yearwood’s recipe on Food Network. Though there is quite a large amount of coffee added, the distinct taste is of cinnamon with an after taste of coffee. You could reduce the cinnamon by half if you do not like the taste of cinnamon. This cake was really soft almost like a sponge cake. I made a yogurt honey sauce to go with it, but it was good without the sauce too.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • 225 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Coffee Crumb Topping

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (maida)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 4 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • a pinch of salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC)
  • Prepare a 9 by 9-inch baking pan. Line it with parchment paper and butter it.
  • For the cake: Beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat till well mixed.
  • Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, baking soda, and baking powder.
  • In a small bowl whisk sour cream (or yogurt) and coffee until smooth.
  • Add sour cream mixture and dry ingredients to the sugar-butter mixture and mix well.
  • Pour the batter into the pan.
  • For the crumb: Mix all ingredients except butter. Add melted butter. Mix.
  • Top the cake batter evenly with the crumb topping
  • Bake for 45 minutes till a skewer comes out clean
  • Cool for 30 minutes before serving
  • Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee

Yogurt Honey Sauce

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • Mix ingredients till smooth and serve with cake.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Happy Valentine’s Day!

There was a restaurant called Atlas World Grill in Iowa City (heard they have closed down). They had some very good food there. One of the favorites was their chocolate molten flourless cake. You had to order it when you order the main course as you had to wait for 40 minutes to get it. Though I had always wanted to make it, I was always scared that it will not be good. Finally, I mustered the courage to make it. It turned out really well. Do use good quality dark or bitter chocolate.

The recipe is from master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. This recipe below serves four. I halved it and made two. I baked only one as it is quite rich and shared it. I froze the other one and baked it the next day. (My frozen one rose higher than the first one but did not get a picture of that) Perfect for your spouse’s birthday, a special romantic meal, valentine’s day or to make any meal special! Or maybe make one just for you and enjoy it all by yourself! The best part is that it is really easy to make! Believe me!

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) butter
  • 6 oz ( 1 cup/ 150 g) bittersweet (I used 72ºC dark chocolate) chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450ºF (230ºC)
  • Butter and flour 4 5-6 oz ramekins. Dust the extra flour out. Set aside.
  • In a double boiler, over boiling water, melt the chocolate and butter. Whisk until smooth
  • In another medium bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and salt at high speed till pale and thickened.
  • Once chocolate is smooth, quickly fold in the egg mixture and flour and whisk. (Be careful at this stage, if you do not mix quickly you will end up with scrambled eggs as the chocolate is hot. A tip is to pour the eggs a little at a time and whisk quickly)
  • Spoon the batter into the ramekins and bake for 12 minutes until the sides are firm and the center is soft. Cool for a minute.
  • Cover a plate and invert it. Carefully unmould.
  • Serve immediately just by itself or cream, some strawberries or vanilla ice cream.
  • Tip: Make and keep the batter ahead. Bake it after dinner as it takes only 12 minutes to bake. Do not overbake it!
  • Enjoy!

Roasted Pineapple with A Sprinkling of Spices

What would you do with pineapples, other than eat it fresh, juice it or make a pineapple upside down cake? Roasting the fruit, brings out its sweetness and pepper and chilli on it makes it wonderful. I added a couple of tablespoons of Bacardi rum at the end of the roasting. Try it, it is really worth it and so simple!

Ingredients

  • 1 pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter (vegan butter)
  • 1-2 tbsp Bacardi Rum (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC/ 35ºF
  • Butter a baking pan
  • Slice cored pineapple into 1/2 inch slices
  • Mix sugar and chill flakes on a plate
  • Coat the pineapple slices with the mixture and place on a baking pan
  • Sprinkle cracked pepper on the slices.
  • Top with butter
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, basting with butter every 10 minutes.
  • If using rum, pour over the pineapple slices at the end of 20 minutes and bake for another 10 minutes
  • Serve it just like that or as a dessert with some whipped cream or ice cream
  • Enjoy!