Mar 24, 2013

Fresh Farm Eggs and New Beginnings!

I know that’s the weirdest title I might have ever read – Farm fresh Eggs and New beginnings? How do they even relate? And No, I’m not talking about chicks being born from the eggs…Lol ;-) And this isn't a recipe post...just some musings and excitement that I want to share.

So to begin with New beginnings , let me announce  very happily and proudly that we are moving to a new single family home and we are just so damn excited. Specially Me, b’coz all my life until now, I’ve only lived in apartment flats , so this is very new. So it’ll be pretty exciting to see how I settle down in a big whole house!
Manish is definitely excited and as for Manav , he can jump and run around as freely as he wants, b’coz now we won’t have to worry about disturbing our nice downstairs neighbors, who were so kind enough to bear with all the noises, thumpings and jumpings of the lil’ monkey :-) 

We move at the end of this month and are now neck deep in packing and cleaning and hoping that the moving from our apartment goes smoothly without breaking anything…my beautiful crystalware – be safe!! Apparently our lil’champ is thoroughly enjoying all the boxes and mess and what goes in seems to keep coming out magically...hehe!

As you can see below, for one of our recent visits to the new home , Lil’Appu has already decided which kitchen drawer he wants to himself…Lol! Must remind myself to childproof the entire kitchen next time we go there…The Kitchen is all MINE!! :-P

Now coming back to the title – Fresh Farm Eggs and that too colorful ones…have you ever seen any like it?
The  previous home owners of the house seemed to have had a very colorful taste in painting the different walls and rooms of the house and so every room is a different shade…trust me, there’s a Lavendar shaded room, Red , Pink, Blue, Yellow and Green walls/rooms , White and Brown rooms as well! But we love it and we are just gonna keep it just as is.
But we still had some more painting left so we called a guy who can paint for us, and he was so kind enough to bring us a crate full of  Fresh Farm eggs from his own home farm.

Other than while vacationing in my hometown village in kerala, I don’t think I have ever held a fresh chicken egg ever and what was even more interesting were the color of these eggs…they were also multicolored just like the rooms in our new house…coincidence or what ?!

Mostly all pastel shades of Green, Blue, Pink, Tan, Brown and White!!
I just had to take snaps and share them with you all…so here’s a few.

Some of the the shells had multiple shades of different colors, like how the blue egg on the right has darker blue dots, the pink one had white dots, a brown egg had pink shades on it etc.

I didn’t have the heart to crack them open but then I was too curious to see if they had colorful yolks as well :-P
Cracked open a few. The egg shell was really firm and hard (not like your easily breakable store bought ones) and they had the most beautiful deep yellow yolk and a nice thick egg white and thankfully they looked very much like normal chicken eggs and no colorful surprises inside and tasted really fresh and wholesome. I’m in love with these eggs for sure.  

From what I’ve read, the color of the eggs is reminiscent of the diet the chickens are fed and also their breeds.  Here's some more info that I found if you are interested to know.

Don't they almost look like those candy eggs that you get everywhere these days as Easter special…So here’s my Easter basket for you all – Happy Easter in advance to all who celebrate!!  

So folks, Manju’s Eating Delights is busy packing and moving to a new home, so new recipes might come in a bit slow for a few weeks…but don’t worry, I have some gorgeous blogger friends who has very happily agreed to do guest posts for me , so stay tuned! Until then…wish me Happy Moving and I hope you all are having a great time!


Mar 18, 2013

Chicken Noodle Soup

Soups are getting a lot of popularity these days. It’s considered like a wholesome meal when paired with a half sandwich or salad. I prefer hot soups but I know of many people who like them cold as well. Some soups are broth based (or clear soups) while the others are thick soups (either made with pureed veggies or creamy versions) and I like all kinds. And in these days of winter there's nothing comforting than a nice warm bowl of hot soup!

Chicken Noodle Soup is one of my favorites. It’s a classic comfort soup that I always love to order when eating out, it’s not very heavy and yet is filling with a combination of colorful veggies, chicken and noodles in a flavorful and warm chicken broth base. Fresh homemade Chicken broth is best, but I’ve used store-bought low sodium chicken broth. For the noodles I used Elbow Macaroni. I also added some whole peppercorns and Italian seasonings which added a huge burst of flavor.

For some added flavor I also like to add some fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley and squeeze a little bit of lemon juice in the soup. Apart from all this, it’s the easiest and quickest soup you can prepare. I love to enjoy it fresh and hot with some crushed crackers on top.
It's a simple yet hearty meal in itself and I usually fill up my tummy with just the soup...It has Carbs in the form of Noodles, Proteins in the form of Chicken , Vitamins and Minerals provided by the hearty Veggies and lots of flavor and goodness from the garlic,fresh herbs, lemon juice and seasonings and not to forget the yummy broth....mmmm i just love the broth!

This recipe makes enough to serve 4-6 people. And in my opinion you can use any Veggie of choice. Add red chilli flakes if you want extra spice.

Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

You’ll need
Onion (diced) – 1 whole
Garlic cloves (minced) – 2 large
Carrots (diced) – 2 medium
Celery stalks (diced) – 2 medium
Cooked Chicken (cut/shredded into small pieces) – 1 or 2 cups
Olive Oil – 1 tblsp
Cooked Noodles (Elbow Macaroni) – 2 cups
Chicken broth – 5 cups (I used low sodium broth)
Whole peppercorns – 1 tblsp
Italian Seasoning – 2 tsp
Lemon juice – juice of half lemon
Chopped fresh Cilantro or Parsley – a handful
Salt – to taste or as needed

1. In a deep pot ( I used my pressure cooker without the lid) , heat the olive oil and sauté the whole peppercorns for a minute and then cook the Garlic, Onions, Carrots and Celery for few minutes until tender.
2. Add the cooked chicken pieces and chicken broth and let it simmer for about 15mins.
3. Next add the cooked pasta/noodles and continue to cook for another 5 mins.
4. Finally add the lemon juice, Italian seasonings and Cliantro and turn off the heat. Check for seasonings (add more salt if needed)

I made this soup for a potluck at a friend’s house and everyone enjoyed it. My lil’Appu came back again and again with mouth wide open to drink the soup and he loved the soft carrots, noodles and chicken pieces, he’s my best and favorite 21 month old food critic ;-)

It’s a mild soup with lots of flavor and less spice and it can be enjoyed regardless of it being Summer or Winter! So go ahead, make some soup and enjoy a nice warm bowl with your family....and don't forget to share your tasty experiences with me :-)

Some other soups that you may also like:


Mar 12, 2013

Kerala style spicy Chicken Fry ... and a thank you for 100,000+ hits!

To be honest, I'm seriously getting tired of this winter. When you think it's gonna get over, it snows :-) Having lived all my pre-married life in the Middle East where it's almost always summer, bearing this icy cold winter is like a nightmare for me. But on the bright side, Spring is just a few weeks away and I'm eagerly waiting for it.
I love the way we can see the changes in the 4 seasons here in US. I still remember how my 5th grade teacher used to describe her US vacations with so much pride and I guess we were studying something related to seasons in geography and she used to draw such a beautiful picture in our minds of how Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter looks so picture perfect in this part of the world and for us little kids, it was like dreaming of dreamland :-) And I'm living in it now!!

Here are a few glimpses of this winter I captured on my Iphone.

On a snowy day, a shot from our patio.

Before heading to office one fine morning, the snow clad trees looked so pretty I couldn't resist taking a snap.

Another quick pic taken before dropping lil'Appu at his daycare...he wasn't very happy with all the cold wind on his face first thing in the morning...but was a darling to pose with Papa :-) This is one of my favorite pics.

The best ways to beat this cold is to actually take part in it. Do winter activities like snow tubing, skiing, ice skating , make a snowman or simply throw snowballs at each other. Though I haven't done any of this b'coz I don’t think I have the courage to stand out in the cold for that long, even with 5 layers of winter cloths on, it definitely sounds like fun and many of my friends are enjoying it with their families. Maybe next year when lil'Appu is a bit bigger and may actually enjoy playing in the snow, I might dare to try making a snowman :-)

Another good way to beat this cold is eat some comforting homemade food. I won't lie to you by saying I only eat homemade food, I do enjoy my share of take-outs and dine-ins at restaurants. But nothing beats homemade stuff, does it?

Chicken fry is a rare treat at our home as I usually never make stuff that includes frying in a lot of oil. Most of the time it'll be grilled or baked chicken or chicken curry. But sometimes frying adds a certain flavor and taste that cannot be obtained by grilling or baking. And how about a typical Keralite version – fried in coconut oil? Delicious!!
My mom never used too much coconut oil in her cooking for as long as I know, so even I got used to the habit of using vegetable oil for my cooking. But the memories of the taste of food that we ate while vacationing in Kerala makes my mouth water and crave for some typical naadan kerala style food cooked in this aromatic and flavorful oil.

And so, when I prepared the Kappa Masala with cilantro-coconut chutney for a weekend lunch , I decided to pair it with some spicy chicken legs fried in coconut oil and garnished with crunchy curry leaves. The taste is beyond explanation and paired extremely well with the Kappa and chammanthi. (I shallow fried the chicken legs, you can deep fry if you want to :-) )

Kerala style Spicy Chicken Fry in Coconut Oil

You’ll need
Chicken legs – 4
Red chilli powder – 1 tblsp
Pepper powder – 1 tblsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Ginger –Garlic paste –  ½ tblsp
Salt – to taste
Water – enough to make a smooth paste of the spice mix
Coconut oil – ½ cup (for shallow frying – I used Parachute brand)
Curry leaves – 1-2 sprigs (about 8-10 leaves)

1. Wash and clean the chicken legs and pat them dry with a paper towel. Make 2-3 slits over the chicken legs with a sharp knife.
2. Make a smooth paste with the spice mix and salt. Do a gentle taste test of the mix to make sure its seasoned well. ( Be careful – its spicy!!)
3. Apply the spice marinade over the chicken legs evenly making sure to get the marination in the slits and all. Refrigerate and marinate for 15-20 minutes.
4. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and fry the curry leaves until crunchy and keep it aside.
5. Now fry the chicken legs in the same oil until its well done and browned slightly on both sides.
6. Garnish and serve with the fried curry leaves on top.

Frying the curry leaves first was actually done by mistake, but it added a lovely curry leaf essence to the oil which gets absorbed by the chicken legs while frying , so I modified my original recipe to do that as the first step. Make sure you do not burn the curry leaves :-)

It’s a simple preparation. The same marination can be used while grilling or baking. And the coconut oil imparts so much flavor , if you haven’t tried it yet, then you must!

Oh and before I stop rambling, I wanted to share the joy of my blog hitting 100,000+ pageviews Yaaayyyyy!!! Thank you all for supporting me and my blog and sharing such lovely comments and feedback . I’ll try to do my best to give you quality posts and delicious recipes collected from my family, friends , books and web + some of my own creations ;-)  

I’m currently active on Facebook , PinterestTwitter and Google+ (I'm still trying to learn Instagram, so mayb that too once I'm done figuring it out). Do keep in touch with me by Following me and let’s be friends!!
And you can always contact me via email : or use the 'Contact Me' page. Have a good day everyone.


Mar 9, 2013

Kappa Masala with Malliela Chammanthi

I'm on Cloud #9 literally from past few days...Reason? Well my Carousel Cake of course, I got so many compliments and praise for that cake that I would have never ever imagined to get and I'm simply so pleased and happy :-) 
Thank you one and all , you keep me going   
But its time to come down to earth now and get back to reality...hehe!

So I am going to share a simple yet scrumptious homely and typical Kerala meal. Kappa with chammanthi...mmmmm! For my non-keralite friends, that translates to Tapioca with coconut chutney. 
Kappa (also known as Tapioca/cassava/Yuca root) is a staple item grown in mostly all Kerala households. In my family every single home including ours has a small area of ground just meant for growing kappa and its very widely eaten all over the south Indian state of Kerala. It is a tubular root with a thick brown skin and white flesh inside. It's cooked like pasta by cooking in salted boiling water and the water is drained away.

Usually I prepare Chenda kappa at home, which is Manish’s favorite. Recently many of my fellow blogger friends  did a virtual cookout together and made this dish called Kappa Masala , adapted from Edible Garden and it looked really good, so I thought of giving it a try.
Manish wanted to call it Kappa Upma, well I guess you could call it that, as long as you sauté  some onions and ginger as well. The preparation is simple and quick and it tasted really good.

Along with the Kappa Masala,  I made some Malliela chammanthi (cilantro-coconut chutney) as a side dish.  The cilantro adds a nice freshness when paired with the starchy tapioca.  The chutney is very fresh tasting and needs no cooking.

The combo that we had was Kappa masala with malliela chammanthi and varutha kozhi (chicken fry) and a little yogurt to cool down the spices (mainly for my lil’Appu) on a beautiful banana leaf ...ain’t it colorful? :-) 
It was finger licking good. The spicy chicken fry recipe will be shared in my next post.
I usually never use coconut oil in my cooking , but for this meal I have used a scant amount just for the flavor and it makes all the difference.

Kappa Masala Recipe
You’ll need
Tapioca (cubed) – Two medium roots (about 3 cups)
Water – enough to boil the tapioca
Garlic cloves – 2-3
Dry Red Chillies – 2-3
Coconut Oil – 1 tblsp
Black Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Split Urad dal – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig (about 6-8 leaves)
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Salt – as needed

1.Peel the brown skin of the tapioca and wash it thoroughly and chop it into small cubes discarding the central vein.
2. Boil some water, season with enough salt and cook the tapioca until cooked through and soft. Once cooked drain away the water.
3. Crush the garlic and dry red chillies in a mortar-pestle or coarsely grind it in a grinder.
4. Heat the coconut oil in a pan, crack mustard seeds and add the split urad dal, garlic-chilli paste and turmeric powder and sauté for 2 mins until the raw smell from the garlic disappears.
5. Add the tapioca/kappa along with curry leaves and mix well. Check for seasoning. Add salt if required. (Remember the tapioca was cooked in salted water)

Malliela Chammanthi Recipe (Cilantro-Coconut chutney)
 You’ll need
Fresh grated coconut – 1 cup
Fresh Cilantro leaves – a handful (about  1/4 cup)
Red chilli flakes –  a pinch
Small garlic clove – 1 (optional)
Salt – to taste

1.Grind together all the ingredients.  Add salt to taste and serve fresh.
(Adding Garlic is optional , it may leave a mild raw taste as we are not cooking the chutney after grinding – we love that taste though)

I recently saw this really cool write-up someone shared on facebook about what non-mallu's (non-Keralites) should know about us keralites and our food and it was damn hilarious, but well said. I've shared it on my Facebook check it out!

When we stay so far away from home and family, these simple meals are what keeps us happy and re-lives our memories! So go on, go get some kappa and prepare this phenomenal dish and enjoy your weekend. 


Mar 5, 2013

Carousel Cake with my pretty pretty horses :-)

Do you love to ride the Carousel or as I like to call it , a Merry-go-round? We simply love it...specially my lil Appu, he screams with glee as the little rabbit or pony he's riding goes up and down as we go round and round, and I simply love the carousel music and all the lovely mirrors and colorful animals. Do you have a favorite animal or seat on the carousel? Mine is definitley the pretty horses :-)

When a friend asked me to make a Carousel Cake for her daughter's first birthday, I was simply excited. My mind flooded with ideas, I even went overboard thinking I could try and make the carousel  to move on top of the cake...Lol!! (This carousel on the cake doesn't move btw) :-)

I bought a Wilton's Carousel set with horses (which made half the cake making easy). My friend also shared an image she found online , which helped me a lot with how to proceed with this cake. As it was for her daughter, I chose baby girl shades of pastel colors and went with a combo of White, Lavendar, baby Pink, baby Yellow and baby Green. The main tasks involved with this cake was decorating the Carousel tent and pillars, decorating the horses, making the central pillar and ofcourse the cake.

I initially considered using Royal Icing for decorating the tent and horses, and made Royal Icing...but as the tent was sloping, the royal icing wasn't setting well and kept slightly drooping down and it became an absolute mess, so off I went and washed off all the royal icing (that was a sad night for me , as I wasn't sure what to do next)  So next day I made regular White Marshmallow Fondant and used Gel colors to make green , yellow and pink fondant. I used the royal icing to stick the Fondant to the carousel tent  (atleast my royal icing din't go waste)

Then came painting the four horses. I wanted the horses to look pretty and shiny, so I bought edible glitters in Gold and Lilac shades and used lemon juice to form a sort of glitter paint and painted them on the horses. I painted two horses with Gold mane-Lilac saddle and the other horses with Lilac manes-Gold saddles and Green ropes for both.
(I had shared a snap that night while I was painting the horses on my facebook page and several people were curious to know the end result, thank you friends :-) )
This was the most difficult task I would say, as the horses had very delicate and intricate designs and the glitter paint wouldn't stick so easily and kept I had to paint once, let it dry the whole night and re-paint them again the next day to make them brighter. I used green food color for the ropes/belt around the horse.

For the central pillar I cut out two boards into a 4inch diamter and wrapped Lavendar ribbon around it. Then I used a baby pink shaded card stock paper and rolled it to form the pillar, stuck it on top of the board and decorated it with various fun stickers of flowers and butterflies :-) The pillars were decorated with lavendar ribbons.

The cake was the best ever Chocolate cake you've ever eaten, moist and chocolatey - paired with my favorite Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. ( I'll be doing a separate post for the Cake and frosting recipe, I promise). I covered the cake with homemade Marshmallow fondant and kept the decorations very simple keeping in mind the color combo used for the tent.

There you go friends, a very very beautiful Carousel Cake. I was holding my breath when I placed the Carousel tent on top of the pillars on the cake to see the final outcome of the cake...and oh my gosh, it looked so beautiful. Infact my pictures don't do much justice to how the cake looked in real.
Check out the cake from front and back....what do you think??

My friend was so happy with the cake and everyone at the birthday party loved it. The cake got a lot of compliments for both looks as well as taste...and I'm so happy :-D Hope you all enjoyed it too as much as I did :-)

Check out some of my earlier speciality cakes, both in Fondant and/or Buttercream decorations here.
Just wanted to add a humble note that I have never been to any Cake Baking or Decoration classes ever.