Mango – King of Fruits

Mango is a tropical fruit with its origin from India and now it has reached many parts of the world. It is a soft fleshy fruit with a very thin skin. The flesh is juicy, sweet and sour with a distinct flavour of its own and varying from lemon yellow to dark orange yellow in colour. The skin is usually green when unripe but varies from yellow to orange and red. There is a big white seed in the centre which is discarded on cutting. Mangoes are a very high source of vitamin A. There are many varieties of mango, Alphanso from India being one the most popular ones. In India, mangoes are very popular and a much awaited fruit during summers. Special Mango festivals are organised throughout the country to enjoy the wide variety that is available here.

India is one of the largest producers and exporters of mangoes. Unripe mangoes can be wrapped in paper and kept at room temperature to become ripe. Mangoes are eaten in a lot of different forms. The unripe sour and green mangoes are used to make pickles, chutneys, candied mango strips (aam papad) and an Indian summer drink panna. Ripe, sweet and yellow mangoes are eaten as it is or used to make milk shakes, juices, sorbets, jams, ice creams and desserts. Since mangoes are available in summers, I thought of creating a chilled summer dessert, mango ricotta parfait.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

Also popularly known as chocolate truffle, the ganache is a very easy, delicious and versatile recipe. This one’s a keeper! Use it to ice a cake (vanilla or chocolate or any flavour on earth) or serve it alongside a dessert – the possibilities are endless. So, we’re saying… even if you haven’t tried the other recipes, give this one a go, because you’ll be surprised by the outcome and marvel at the awesome spectacle of your own creation. Yes its that simple and delicious!

All you need is just 2 ingredients!! Fresh cream and cooking chocolate. You can use any cream you like. Fresh dairy cream is also fine but I usually avoid that for a ganache because its moisture content is high and inconsistent. I use the store-bought packaged fresh cream. For the chocolate too, avoid the regular chocolate we eat because the the fat (cocoa butter) can vary and also, because they have some amount of milk (read milk solids) in it and that differ the outcome.

There are two types of cooking chocolate available in the market – Chocolate and chocolate compound. Either can be used. Chocolate is usually more expensive because it has the natural cocoa butter and compound is man-made chocolate so its a bit cheaper. Both can be used for this.

To begin, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a microwave. If using a microwave, heat it for 30 seconds and then let the chocolate stand for 30 seconds. Then toss it with a DRY spoon. Ensure that no water touches chocolate. Then repeat the 30-30 process till its melted. You must never heat the chocolate in one go because chocolate can burn easily.

Keep a whisk or a spoon ready. Heat the cream in a pan. Bring it to a boil and turn it off. Add the cream to the chocolate and whisk vigorously and quickly.

It will start turning glossy and turn darker in colour. Mix till completely blended.

You will have a glossier, darker and smooth chocolate ganache.

The consistency should be thicker than a ribbon consistency. If you store it in the fridge it will get thicker. Suit your requirement.

This is ideal for icing a cake. You can use it with a chocolate or vanilla cake. We’ve tried both and they taste great! Let us know in the comments below how it turned out. Leave a heart if you liked the recipe ❤

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

500 gm dark chocolate
250 gm fresh cream

Method

  1. Take the chocolate in a glass bowl and melt it either on a double boiler or in the microwave. If melting in the microwave then do 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off to prevent the chocolate from burning.
  2. In a saucepan take fresh cream and bring to a boil. Pour it over the melted chocolate.
  3. Using a whisk mix the cream with the melted chocolate quickly till smooth and glossy.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator till it is a little firm.

Eggless Chocolate Banana Cake

Chocolate and Banana is an eternal combination. They compliment each other so well, that the first thing that comes to your mind when you want to cook with bananas… is chocolate! We’ve already posted a recipe for a Caramelised banana upside-down cake and now we’re sharing an eggless recipe for those of you who choose to bake without eggs.

The ingredients for this are very basic. Flour, butter, sugar, milk, baking powder, cocoa powder, vanilla extract/essence and 2 bananas.

To start, preheat your oven at 180°C and grease and line a loaf tin with baking or parchment paper.

Take the softened butter and sugar in a large bowl.

Cream the sugar and butter for 5 minutes and then keep aside.

In another bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and keep aside.

Mash 2 bananas nicely with a fork and keep aside.

To the creamed butter and sugar, add the mashed bananas, dry ingredients and vanilla essence/extract.

Beat for a minute till the batter is glossy.

Transfer the batter to the lined loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or till a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Leave it to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting. Eggless cakes tend to stick together if you cut it while its still very warm.

Dust it with some icing sugar if you like and serve it with tea or coffee. You can also serve it with some ice-cream.

Go ahead and try this recipe! Don’t forget to tell us if you like it 🙂

Eggless Chocolate Banana Cake

Ingredients

150 gm All-purpose
Flour150 gm Caster Sugar
150 gm Butter, softened room temperature
40gm Cocoa powder
2 Bananas, ripe
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Extract or Essence
50 ml Milk
Icing Sugar for Dusting

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line an loaf tin with baking paper or parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl beat softened butter and sugar for 5 min. In another bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  3. Mash the bananas in a bowl and keep aside.
  4. Add mashed bananas, milk, flour mixture and vanilla extract. Beat for a minute till smooth and glossy.
  5. Pour the batter in the lined cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 mins or till a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  6. Leave the cake to cool for 15 mins and then remove from the cake tin.
  7. Dust with Icing sugar and eat warm.

Mumbai Pav/ Portugese Pão – Soft Fluffy Dinner Rolls

These are really the softest buns you’ll possibly make at home or even eat. Buns and breads are eaten in different forms globally and in all cultures and cuisines. These are very versatile and can be used for multiple purposes. You can use it as a base for garlic breads, to sandwich a patty, make sliders, Mumbai-style vada pav, or just an accompaniment to your main course as a soft and fluffy dinner roll. The possibilities are endless! It tastes best just softly warmed and smothered with butter…. yumm!

You will need very basic pantry ingredients for this. We’re using flour, salt, sugar, butter, yeast and milk. The milk gives it a very soft texture and a creamy taste.

In a bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm milk. Once dissolved, add the butter to the liquid.

Take the flour and salt in a big bowl and add the liquid mixture to it. Mix it well with a spoon. You’ll get a very sticky mixture.

You will need a dough cutter or a flipper or a big spoon to help you handle the mixture. Sprinkle some flour and mix it with the help of the cutter and your hand. Lift and mix.

It will start becoming more manageable. Just be patient with it and continue to lift and push.

Just tackle it left and right and eventually you’ll get a dough thats come together like the above picture.

It should be very soft. That is the reason we do not want to add too much flour, because that makes it tougher. Less flour means a softer dough. Thus, try to use only as much flour as is really required to handle it.

Leave it in a warm place to rise for 30-60 minutes or until doubled.

Punch down the dough and make a round dough ball and cut with a knife or dough cutter into 16 equal parts. First divide into half and then quarter and then further into smaller parts.

Take each portion and roll it into a round ball. Try to tuck the seam underneath with your thumb. Place them in an 8 x 8-inch baking tray at equal distance from each other. Leave space for them to fluff. The tray should also have a high rim because the buns will expand and they be contained on sides so that they can rise up.

Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest in a warm place again for 40-60 minutes or till doubled. Halfway through the rising process preheat the oven at 200 C.

brush it with milk and put it in the oven to bake for 15-18 minutes.

They should be golden brown when you take them out.

Brush butter on them when they’re still warm. That will soften them further.

They’re ready to eat. Use them however you want. Make a slider, vada pav, dinner roll, sandwich, or Mumbai style chilli cheese pav.

That is how soft your buns will be. They are literally comprised of air and are light and fluffy. Just warm some and butter it and enjoy with breakfast. Stay tuned for our next recipe with these buns.

In Mumbai, if you ever just buy pav (btw its called ladi pav there), the traditional old bakeries will give it to you wrapped in newspaper. Well, the paper does in some ways keep it soft and moist. So you can put baking/parchment paper in an airtight box and store them. During summertime put them in the fridge.

Recipe: Soft Fluffy Pav Buns/Dinner Rolls

Ingredients

200 gm All Purpose Flour
200 ml milk
2 ¼ tsp dried yeast (7gm)
1 tsp salt
3 tsp castor sugar
20gm butter, melted

Method

  1. In a bowl take flour and salt. Mix it well.
  2. In another bowl dissolve the sugar and the yeast in warm milk, Add butter and mix well. Add this liquid mixture to flour mixture and mix.
  3. Tip this messy mixture on the counter and knead for 8-10 minutes. It will be very wet and messy but will start coming together the more you knead.
  4. Use as little extra flour as possible to just prevent it from sticking. Use a dough scraper to help lift dough without adding to much extra flour.
  5. Knead it with a lot of force till you achieve a soft and smooth dough.
  6. Place in a bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave in a warm place for 30-60 mins or until double.
  7. Punch down the dough and on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in 16 equal balls.
  8. In a greased 8×8 inch square tin arrange the balls at equal distance
  9. Cover with a damp kitchen cloth and leave in a warm place for 40-60 minutes or until doubled.
  10. Half way through the doubling process preheat the oven to 200 C.
  11. Brush with milk and bake in the preheated oven on lower rack for 15-18 minutes. The buns will be dark golden brown when done.
  12. Brush with softened butter on top when the buns are just out of the oven.
  13. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Wrap in paper or with cling film to store in the refrigerator.

Fresh Ricotta

Ricotta is a fresh and soft Italian cheese… and truly delicious! It has a soft grain and light texture. Traditionally, ricotta was made with milk and whey left after making other cheeses. Thats how it got its name “ricotta” which literally translates to re-cooked. However, ricotta is now very sought after because of its slightly sweet taste and its ability to hold its consistency. Thus, its widely used in desserts and Italian cuisine. Its best use is to add it to the filling for lasagne, ravioli, cannelloni and conchiglie.

You literally need just two ingredients to make fresh ricotta at home. Milk and lemons, thats all!

You can use any milk for this, but the result could vary a bit. We have used regular whole milk. You can use skimmed milk too but you might end up with a lesser quantity of ricotta (which is fine). So, using whole or full fat milk would be better, but even others work well.

Put the milk to heat in a pan. We want hot milk but DO NOT BOIL THE MILK. Now, this is very important. You want to heat it only till you start seeing the bubbles on the edge of the pan. As soon as that happens, turn off the flame. Keep your lemon juice ready and after you have turned off the flame, add it to the milk. Stir very delicately to make sure its mixed.

Let it stand for 10-20 minutes and the soft cheese will start to curdle and separate from the whey. Whey is that thin watery liquid that separates from milk while making cheese or curd. If the milk has still not curdled, be patient. If it still doesn’t, add 1 tbsp lemon juice and it should curdle.

Be sure, not to stir it too much or too vigorously, otherwise you will turn it into cottage cheese. There is a very fine line between ricotta and cottage cheese!. On stirring too much, it will become firmer, and we’re looking for a soft cheese.

When you stir very gently, the cheese will start to show… almost as if emerging from the milk-whey liquid.

It will finally look something like this. Such a beauty!

Keep a pot ready with a big sieve on top. Place a cheesecloth or a muslin cloth on top of the sieve. Make sure there’s enough distance between the sieve and the base of the pot, so that when we leave it to strain, the cheese is not touching the strained liquid whey.

This is what it will look like. At this stage, leave it to drain the excess liquid. The draining time is directly proportional to the firmness of cheese. If you let it stand longer and let more liquid drain out then you will get a firmer ricotta. Alternately, if you don’t leave it for very long so that it retains some moisture, then you will get a softer cheese.

This really depends on the purpose of use.
Soft Ricotta: for, cakes, tarts, cannoli, puddings, mousse and other desserts
Firm Ricotta: for ravioli, cannelloni, conchiglie, lasagne, tortellini and the likes.
Ricotta doesn’t melt on baking and thats why its the first choice for the filling of stuffed pastas.

Its ready to use when cooled. You can store it in the refrigerator for upto a week.

Recipe: Fresh Ricotta

Ingredients

1 litre milk
2 lemons

Method

  1. Take milk in a sauce pan and heat it to just before it comes to a boil. You will start seeing a few bubbles on the edge of the pan.
  2. Meanwhile juice 2 lemons and keep aside.
  3. Line a soup strainer with muslin cloth or cheesecloth and place the strainer over a big pot.
  4. As soon as you see bubble on the edge of the milk turn off the flame and add the lemon juice. Stir it delicately to ensure the lemon juice is mixed well with the milk.
  5. Let it stand for 10-20 minutes. You will see that the soft cheese would curdle and separate leaving behind the whey.
  6. If the milk doesn’t not curdle completely just add an additional 1 tbsp of lemon Juice. Over stirring will make the cheese harder so stir less to get a soft cheese.
  7. Drain the cheese over the cheesecloth and let it stand from anywhere between 20-50 minutes. For a fresh and  light ricotta, drain it for a short time and for a more dense ricotta drain it for a longer period.
  8. This amount of milk will yield ricotta between 260-220gm depending on the amount of drainage time. Use fresh or store in the refrigerator for 6-8 days.

Yeast

What is yeast:

Yeast is a microscopic fungus which is used for leavening or raising agents in baking. When yeast is added to flour for making a dough fermentation occurs converting the starch into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Yeast requires warm temperature for fermentation to happen, but extremely high temperatures can also kill it. Carbon dioxide produced during the process creates air pockets hence rising the dough. On baking the yeast dies and the air pockets become stable, giving the baked product a light and airy texture. Yeast is also used in brewing various alcohols like beer.

Types of yeast:

There are two main types of yeast; fresh yeast and dried yeast. Fresh yeast, also known as bakers’ yeast, is sold in compressed cake blocks. This yeast does not last for very long and tends to get spoilt. It should always be stored refrigerated. This is a preferred choice of bakers and is used widely in all bakeries.  Dried yeast looks like tiny round granules and are available in sachets or jars in the market. It is a great option for home bakers when fresh yeast is not available and only a small amount is required. In ancient times cakes were leavened using yeast until baking powdered was discovered. Ever since, it has been the leavening agent for making bread. I have also used yeast to make bread but a creative version of herbed bread.

Basil

Basil is an aromatic herb which has many varieties, the most common being ‘sweet basil’ which is widely used in Italian and Southern French cooking. It is a herb said to have originated from India, but sweet basil should not be confused with tulsi, which is ‘holy basil.’ The other common varieties of basil include Thai basil, lemon basil and purple basil. Basil gets its name from a Greek word basileus which means king. Thus, known as king of herbs. The best sweet basil is grown in Genoa, capital of Liguria.

Basil grows very easily. It requires a good amount of sunshine and water. Basil is used in its fresh and dried form. Though, some amount of aroma and flavour is lost when it is dried but yet it is a good option when fresh basil is not available. Basil makes a wonderful combination with tomatoes. It is used to flavour pizzas, pastas, risottos, salads, stir fries and many more such dishes. It is best to tear basil leaves and add towards the end of the cooking process. A typically Italian use of basil is in the form of basil pesto. Pesto derives its name from an Italian word meaning ‘to pound’ as traditionally it was made using a pestle and mortar.