Oct 21, 2014

Ring Murukku

Indian snacks are always a class apart. And Diwali is the perfect time to make a whole lot of sweet and savoury snacks to share with family and friends. I love trying something new each year. In my previous post I had shared my favorite Chakli recipe made with whole-wheat flour. I’m sharing another quick and simple snack recipe perfect for Diwali and one that you can make even at the last moment, Ring Murukku or murukku with a hole ;-)

These Ring shaped crunchy snacks are to die for.  I absolutely love them and have always until now just bought them from the snack section at the Indian store. With the Diwali fever doing it’s rounds I felt I should try making this at home atleast once and I was very pleased with the results. They turned out super crispy and crunchy. I wanted a slightly savory aka spicy snack so I added a little extra red chilli powder than the recipe called for to the dough and the ring murkku had a good bit of heat and was perfect and just my taste.

They are so easy to make, you don’t need any special equipment, just shape them into small rings and fry until golden brown.

I did not take a lot of step-wise pics but have shared a few that I managed to click. It's not a fun task to take pics while handling flour and oil ;-)

Ring Murukku

You’ll Need
1 cup Rice flour
1 Tblsp Urad dal flour/Moong dal flour  
1 tsp Red chilli powder  
1 Tblsp Sesame seeds     
1/8 tsp Asafoetida            
1 tsp Jeera         
1 cup water 
1 Tblsp Butter     
Salt - as needed
Oil - for deep frying

1. Make urad dal/moong dal flour – roast a handful of urad dal/moong dal  until mild brown and fragrant, powder it and sieve it and keep aside 1 Tblsp of the powder.

2. Boil 1 cup of water in a non-stick vessel or any vessel. Add butter and salt to the boiling water and then Rice flour and 1 Tblsp Urad dal flour, mix well. Immediately switch off the flame, cover and let the dough cool down. If too sticky then add some more flour. When the dough becomes cool enough to handle, add jeera, red chilli powder, sesame seeds and knead to form a dough.
3. Pinch out small round balls of dough of equal size and roll them into a thin rope and join the ends of the rope to form a ring.

4. Deep fry few per batch in hot oil. While one batch is getting cooked, you can make the next batch. Or make all the rings together and fry little by little. Fry in high flame until the rings are golden brown, but do not let oil fume.

This is a perfect Tea-time snack and is best eaten the day it is made. But if stored in a good air-tight container you can enjoy them for couple more days. So enjoy snacking and have a fun filled and Happy Diwali!


Oct 19, 2014

Whole-wheat Chakli / Murukku

It’s Diwali season again, the Festival of Lights! People are all busy cleaning up their homes, buying pretty new clothes and lots of fire-crackers and diyas. Many even draw beautiful Rangoli in front of their homes surrounded by lamps of light (diya). It’s a fun festival, colorful, bright and noisy with all the fire-crackers bursting away….and that’s just how we like to celebrate Diwali.
Oh! and the best part…of course the goodies. So many lovely sweets and snacks are prepared and shared and the preparation starts from few weeks before the big day. Some prefer to just buy the snacks, others prepare them at home themselves…either way it’s a lot of fun.

I have celebrated Diwali in our own small ways after our marriage. I still remember our first Diwali when we were just newly married and living in Chennai. Wanting it to be extra special, I made Besan Laddo, Chakli and Gujiya (karanji), all for the first time, and apart from the chakli getting semi-burnt, the rest all came out fine!!  We decorated the house with lots of light and along with my sis-in-law and bro-in-law (who were also newly married), we burst lots of crackers and had a lot of fun. My sis-in-law’s name is also Manju.
Manju chechi (as I call her) had called us to her home for dinner and she made some amazing Dal kachori, Veg Biriyani, raita and Gulab jamuns that evening and it was just splendid. I remember all this just like it happened yesterday…Nostalgia is a weird thing! :-)

After that our next Diwali’s have all been here at Minneapolis and it has been fun every year. We usually go to the temple and burst crackers there and then have a grand potluck dinner at our friend’s place followed by more bursting of crackers. It’s a festival we eagerly wait for each year. We have been lucky to have friend’s whom we can proudly call next to family and we don’t miss a chance to celebrate any festival.

Last year I made some Ring Murukku and Chakli along with some fusion sweets like Gajar Halwa and turned some of it into Carrot Halwa filled Chocolates and Spiced Mango burfi
I will share the ring murukku recipe soon as well. Apparently it has taken my lazy bones a whole year to share this with you :) I’m yet to decide what to make this year…Lol!

I love crunchy snacks and chakli (murukku) is my favorite of them all. My mom’s elder sister, my velliammachi, used to make the most awesome chakli’s I’ve ever eaten. Infact these don’t come quite close to how she used to make them, but for my first try it came out very decent I should say and they are made with whole wheat flour. 
Well apart from the frying in oil, you can say it’s a bit healthy :-P 

Whole-wheat Chakli / Whole-wheat Murukku
Makes : approx 12-20 chakli depending on size

You'll Need
1 cup Wheat flour             
¾ tsp Red chilli powder               
1 ½ tsp Jeera/ ajwain               
1/8 tsp  Asafoetida         
1 tsp hot oil
Salt - as needed
Room temp water - as needed to form the dough
Oil - For deep frying

1.  Place the atta powder in a clean white muslin cloth and tie it up like a pouch. Using a steamer or idli vessel , steam cook atta. Cover and Steam cook for 15 mins to 20 mins.

2.  Untie and when it is warm enough to handle, break it roughly and sieve it into another bowl and break any bigger pieces with hands.

3.  Heat oil in kadai, meanwhile you prepare the dough. Add red chilli powder, asafoetida, salt and jeera and a tsp of hot oil and Make dough with water. It should be a stiff yet smooth and non sticky dough. 

I used the star shaped hole plate to make these chakli.

4. Press the dough using the pressing gun and form into a concentric circle shape or coil shape. I pressed in onto my silicon mat (you can use an oiled plate or wax paper to shape the dough onto)

5. Make sure the oil is hot enough and Using a spatula transfer each chakli into the hot oil and deep fry both sides until crisp and golden brown. 
Drain over a paper towel and store in an air-tight container.

1.  Never let oil fume at any point, regulate the heat now and then
2.  Make sure water doesn't enter the wheat powder while steaming and once steamed the whole-wheat flour (atta) should look dry and devoid of moisture.

Recipe Source: Rak's Kitchen

Have a fun and safe Diwali!


Oct 15, 2014

Chocolate cupcakes with Buttercream Roses to celebrate 3 years of blogging!

Hello to all. It's been since we all met hasn't it? :-) We went for a much needed, month long vacation to Kerala and let me say....we had enormous fun. Our vacation started with a lovely Onam celebration with our whole family. A House boat trip in the back waters of Allepy and a dream visit to Delhi were some of the other highlights of our trip and yes, we saw the Taj Mahal. It's quite an experience I tell you, you have to see the Taj to know its glory. Another major event was a big pooja that my Dad was sponsoring for our home temple - Sarpa Kaavu. An ancient folk dance event called Padayani was performed throughout the night and the entire village came to see it. The program was a huge success and was aired on several TV channels. And best of all our lil'Appu had the best time of all, playing care-free along with his niece lil'Akku to share all the fun, play and kid fights with. In all it was a superb vacation and we are still in hangover mode ;-)

Anyways, it's time to get off my blog-slumber. Today is a special day and the reason why I'm still here. It's our little blog's 3rd b'day. Now that I think of it, my blog and my baby boy are of the same age now ;-) I'm not going to say too much about how much I love blogging and what it means to me....the fact that I'm still here after 3 years says it all.  
If I have you all with me I'll be here sharing more recipes and all kinds of baking joys from my kitchen to yours and your feedback and comments are what keeps me going. 

So Happy 3rd Birthday dear MED :-) 

I love Chocolate Cake and I wanted to try out a really rich and moist chocolate cake. This recipe is perfect in all ways. It's rich, moist and very chocolaty and there's a secret ingredient.....Coffee! Yes, a little coffee adds a huge burst of flavor in this cake. Along with cocoa powder, it also uses fresh bittersweet chocolate, which again adds to it's richness! Yumm! 

It bakes up perfectly and literally perfumes your house with the most amazing chocolaty aroma :-) 

After baking up these beauties I was very much intrigued to try making some buttercream roses, which I've wanted to try for a long time now. So I made a batch of my favorite Vanilla buttercream and tinted them pink and yellow and little bit green for the leaves.

I also tried a dual color tone for the petals which also came out pretty decently. Initially my petals weren't forming properly, but as I continued they started forming and getting in shape. Some of the petals even got a ruffled edge, making it look like a slightly weathered petal. I loved that look. 

I did not get a chance to take any video or step-wise pics while making the roses, mayb next time...but you can find several videos on youtube for this technique.

I'm only sharing the recipe for the Chocolate cupackes here. Both Chocolate and Vanilla buttecream goes very well with these cupcakes. You can find the buttercream recipes here . 

Rich Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
This recipe makes:
24 standard-size cupcakes or
50 mini cupcakes or
Two 8" cakes

You'll need:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
⅓ cup Cocoa powder
¾ cup hot Coffee
¾ cup All-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated Sugar
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
6 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs
2 teaspoons White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard-size cupcake pan/ mini cupcake pan with liners. Place the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Pour the hot coffee over the mixture and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Whisk the vegetable oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla extract into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake pan cups.
If making cupcakes, bake for 9mins and turn over the pan halfway and bake for another 9 mins (total of 18-20mins)
If making mini cupcakes , bake for 5 mins one side and turn pan halfway for another 5 mins (total of 10-12 mins)
5. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on the wire rack to cool completely for about 1 hour.


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Makes 3 cups
You’ll need
Unsalted Butter , at room temp – 1 cup (that’s  2sticks or ½ pound)
Powdered sugar or Confectioners’ sugar (sifted) – 3 or 4 cups
Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 tblsp
Milk or heavy cream – 4 tblsp or as needed
Salt – a pinch (optional)
1.Beat butter until smooth and creamy using a paddle attachment on medium speed if using KitchenAid mixer or using electric hand blender.
2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar , little at a time on low speed, until it mixes well with the butter.
3. Increase the speed to medium and add Vanilla extract, salt (if using) and 4 tblsp of milk/heavy cream. Combine well for few minutes until smooth and creamy. 
(If you want a thicker frosting add remaining 1 cup sugar. If you want a thinner consistency add more milk 1 tblsp at a time )


For the Buttercream Roses:
Prepare Vanilla Buttercream and divide them to color into desired colors using food grade gel colors. Make sure the buttercream is of a smooth yet stiff consistency to hold it's shape. 
Add the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with Wilton's Rose Piping tip # 125 and make the swirls.  For a final touch add some leaves using a leaf tip.
(You can make the roses on a nail ring or directly pipe the buttercream roses onto the cupcakes)
Refrigerate each cupcake after the roses are placed on top to help them stay in shape.

Recipe Source: adapted from Cooks Illustrated

I shared these with some friends and colleagues and they all loved it.  But best of all my lil'Appu loved them the most. He wanted all the roses and the mini cupcakes were just the right size for him to enjoy! It's so much fun baking for family and friends :-)