Bhapa Doi (Baked Yogurt) Cheesecake: Eggless & No Cream Cheese

Say mishti doi once and most faces light up- from Bollywood celebrities to those far away from their homeland Bengal. It’s an emotion after all!

But its lesser known and equally delicious cousin Bhapa doi (steamed yogurt) deserves a mention too!
With a creamy and light pudding-like texture coupled with the earthy flavour of nolen gur (date palm jaggery), this cheesecake is a sure winner this winter ❄️

You could play around with different toppings like strawberry glaze or chocolate shavings or you may also mix fresh mango puree in the cake batter to make it even more sinful.

With minimal ingredients and a hassle-free baking technique, this cheesecake comes together in a snap! Try it once and feel the magic 🙂

Ingredients:

2 cups parle g/ good day or any digestive biscuit crumbs

1/2 cup melted butter

200 g plain yogurt

100 g hung yogurt

300 ml condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla essence

3 tbsp liquid nolen gur (date palm jaggery)

4-5 tbsp fresh milk (preferably full fat)

Chopped almonds and pistachios for garnishing

Method:

In a bowl, add 2 cups of Parle g/ Good day or any other digestive biscuit crumbs and the melted butter. Mix thoroughly until well combined. Now press the crumbs into an even layer at the bottom of an 8-9 inch spring foam pan. Keep refrigerated for at least 15-20 minutes.

In another bowl, gently fold with a spatula the following ingredients- plain yogurt, hung yogurt, condensed milk, vanilla essence, liquid nolen gur and fresh milk. Don’t use a whisk! Just mix the ingredients with a spatula without over mixing, else the cake may crack while baking.

The best thing about bhapa doi/ steamed yogurt is that there is no fixed measurement of ingredients unlike regular baking. You can add/ reduce the quantities depending on how sweet you want the cheesecake to be but just make sure that the batter is of slightly thicker consistency.

Pour the batter into the cake pan.

Put few drops of the liquid gur/ jaggery on top with a spoon and now spread them with a toothpick/ skewer to your liking and create any random design as seen the pictures below.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 degree Celsius for 50 minutes. Don’t forget to pour some hot water on a baking tray and place the cake pan on top and then bake (water bath).


Refrigerate for at least 5 hours and serve chilled garnished with chopped almonds, pistachios and a drizzling of some warm nolen gur🤍

Boozy Holiday Fruit Cake (Eggless) & a Christmas Nostalgia

Boozy holiday rich fruit cake (eggless) with dried cranberries, dates and raisins soaked in red wine for a month!

Christmas in Calcutta is an emotion. While it may ruffle some feathers, I have to admit that Calcutta is probably the most secular city in India which celebrates festivals like Christmas not out of any religious compulsion but because it’s a delightful celebration of life, something that lifts your spirits.

For those of us who grew up in Calcutta, the festival is synonymous with Nahoum’s rich fruit cake. Surprisingly in December the whole city gets busy in Christmas preps, and the Jewish bakeries and neighbourhood confectionaries start selling homemade plum cakes that are made with rum soaked raisins, dates and candied peels. All of a sudden, Ruma kakima’s sleepy bakery in the dusty bylanes of Free School Street is abuzz with activities.

Nahoum’s will remain my most favourite always- their dense and rich fruit cakes are so moist and loaded with dry fruits. This is my ode to their legendary cakes as i reminisce about the bygone Christmas days of my adolescence when I would patiently wait in a long queue outside the store with my mum just to get my share of treats. That was my Santa moment.

The authentic Christmas plum cake/ fruit cake in Calcutta is prepared with dried fruits soaked in rum for a prolonged period and most recipes are handed down through generations. I have used red wine instead and have also used greek yogurt instead of eggs which is honestly unthinkable in the original recipe. But then sometimes it’s okay to deviate from the original and tweak things here and there just for fun, doesn’t take away anything from the classic 🙂

Ingredients:

Chopped dried cranberries, black raisins, sultanas, pitted dates, candied ginger soaked in red wine (or dark rum) for at least 2-3 weeks (the longer the better)

11/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp each of ground cinnamon, clove and nutmeg

1 tbsp orange zest

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup olive oil (or any vegetable oil)

1 cup brown sugar (preferably) or raw cane sugar (no white sugar)

1 cup greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup of chopped mixed nuts like almonds, pistachios and cashews

Method:

In a mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup olive oil and 1 cup brown sugar. Whisk it well for a couple of minutes until well combined.

Now add the yogurt and vanilla extract and whisk again. It will take a couple of minutes to whisk everything to a smooth consistency.

In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Start with 11/2 cup of all purpose flour. Toss in the ground spices, orange zest (make sure to avoid grating the bitter white pith), baking soda, baking powder and mix everything well with the whisk.

Now throw in the flour mixture into the wet bowl and fold with a spatula. No whisking from this point anymore and also ensure that you don’t overmix the batter. The batter is supposed to be dense and heavy.

The last step is to add the chopped nuts and soaked dried fruits into the cake batter and fold again with the spatula. Reserve some of the soaked fruits for spooning on top of the cake.

Line a square baking pan with a parchment paper and pour in the batter. Sprinkle the remaining soaked dried fruits on top and bake in a pre heated oven at 160 degree C for around 60 minutes. Let it cool down completely before serving.

*Some tips*

Always pack the cake tightly in an aluminum foil to store it. This preserves its shape and moisture.

The cake tastes better with time. The longer it soaks all the goodness from the rum/ wine, the better it tastes.

‘Feed’ the cake with wine/ rum by poking holes all over it with a toothpick and then keep it tightly packed.

Could it get any boozier??

Holiday Spiced Cappuccino

Do you relish your coffee the traditional way?

Or do you love playing around with various flavours to accentuate your coffee experience?

Nothing can be more comforting than curling up on the couch in your fuzzy socks, with your favourite cappuccino with a spicy twist. As much as I love my coffee, I enjoy experimenting with different ingredients that bring out the best flavours. Hints of warm cinnamon and nutmeg makes this a delicious drink that does taste of Christmas.

Do give this recipe a try because Tis the season 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 140 ml hot brewed espresso shot (I used the Nespresso Vivalto Lungo capsule)
  • 140 ml warm milk froth (a good mix of foam & milk)
  • 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg
  • few drops of vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 10 small marshmallows

Method:

In a serving glass/ cup, mix 140 ml of freshly brewed espresso with 1 tsp of brown sugar (or as per your preference) and a pinch of ground nutmeg.

Meanwhile take 140 ml of milk, add few drops of vanilla essence and make froth using your favourite frother/ whisk. I used the Aeroccino 3 which makes great hot and creamy milk froth for the perfect cappuccino. Please note that the froth should at least be warm.

Pour the milk into the glass and top it off with the milk froth/ foam.

Garnish with some lightly toasted marshmallows and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. Enjoy 🙂

*Some tips*

Always use freshly brewed espresso.

You could also add a dash of ground clove along with the cinnamon in the espresso for an enhanced flavour.

2% milk (dairy) is best for cappuccinos. You could substitute with any plant based milk but the froth/ foam may not be of a great quality.

Ultimate Eggless Choco-chip Cookies

Eggless Choco-chip Cookie

Soft and chewy, straight out of the oven, these eggless choco-chip cookies are what dreams are made of. As winter saunters along, nothing can be a better pick-me-up than a homemade chocolate cookie with a cup of cappuccino.

This decadent choco-chip cookie recipe is inspired by Buzzfeed Tasty’s recipe with some tweaks. Below is the recipe:

Ingredients (for 11 biggg cookies): 

11/4 cups of granulated brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup of  olive oil (or any white oil)

1/3 cup of oat milk (or regular milk)

1 tsp Vanilla essence

11/2 cups of all purpose flour

½ tsp Baking soda

6 heaped tablespoon Semi dark chocolate chunks

  • In a bowl, mix 275 g of granulated brown sugar with 1 tsp salt and 125 ml olive oil. Now whisk in 80 ml oat milk and 1 tsp of vanilla essence into the batter and combine everything well until smooth.
  • Now add 200 g of all purpose flour and ½ tsp baking soda into the mix and fold gently with a spatula making sure not to over mix.
  • Throw in the chocolate chunks generously (as much as you please) and mix well. Keep the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 mins.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and make 10-11 balls out of the dough and place them on the paper with some gaps between each cookie. 
All set to go inside the preheated oven

Bake in a preheated oven for around 15 mins at 180 degree centigrade.

Chocolatey goodness!

Let it cool down for 5-10 mins and dig in!

Gajar Halwa Tarts

Gajar Halwa Tarts

As a kid I remember eagerly waiting for winters. Marigold blooms, afternoon picnics, cozy blankets & of course bowls of warm & comforting gajar ka halwa (carrot pudding) made by maa.

I would help her peel & grate the carrots in the hope of getting a bigger share than my sis 😀 Those indeed were the days. During winters, we would rush home from school, throw our bags & run to the kitchen to see what’s in store, just in case we were in for any surprises! Truth be told, my sis was least interested, it was more my thing. Nothing gave me more joy than watching maa or our cook whip up something fancy in the kitchen while I eagerly waited for my turn to relish them 🙂

With the winters approaching, I have been craving gajar ka halwa for a while now & thought of following maa’s recipe with a few tweaks here & there & also turn it into tarts. Not only they taste heavenly but look pretty too! Go ahead & try it out.

Here’s the recipe (for 12 tarts):

Ingredients

450 g peeled & grated carrot

2 tbsp each of almonds, pistachios & cashew

60-70 ml ghee (clarified butter)

200 ml milk (I used oat milk)

130 ml condensed milk

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

12 tart shells (I used store bought)

Pistachios for garnishing

Method

Roughly chop 2 tbsp each of almonds, pistachios & cashew & roast them in 2 tsp ghee. Keep aside. Heat 50 ml ghee in a heavy bottomed pan & add about 450g peeled & grated carrot.

Mix well & cook until the colour changes & the carrot looks well combined.

Halfway add 2-3 tbsp ghee again & stir everything well.

After 10 mins add 200ml milk (I used oat milk).

Keep stirring & simmering on medium heat until the mixture reaches boiling point. This is where you add 130 ml of condensed milk & 1 tbsp sugar. Lower the heat & let everything combine well & come together.

Keep stirring for 10 more mins until the carrot no longer sticks to the pan. Stir in half a tsp of cardamom powder & the fried nuts back into the pan & continue to cook until the halwa turns dark orange/ reddish. 

You can have it as it is or make tarts like I did I used store bought tart shells. Fill each shell with the halwa (pudding) after poking holes in the tarts with a fork. Now line them up on a baking tray.

Before going in the oven

Preheat oven to 180-190 degree celsius & bake the tarts for 12-13 mins. Garnish with chopped pistachios & drizzle some condensed milk before serving.

Little cups of heaven 🙂

Patishapta (Rice flour crepes with coconut filling): Celebrating Makar Sankranti

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In India, the harvesting season is considered extremely auspicious and households all over the country celebrate during the month of January by making sweets of all kinds. Each region has its own take on the festival but the underlying essence remains the same, i.e. to celebrate the prosperity and bring in more luck for the coming seasons. In Bengal, it is known as Makar Sankranti or Poush Sankranti, while in Northern India its Lohri, Bihu in Assam, Uttarayan in Gujarat and Pongal in South India. Different names but similar in spirit 🙂

I have grown up relishing pithey– a sweet made with rice flour, semolina, jaggery, coconut, etc. The sheer variety of pithey can be overwhelming, but one particular which is an absolute favourite and has a lot of fond memories attached to it, is ‘Patishapta’. I am filled with nostalgia as I type on my keyboard because dida (my maternal grandmother) used make the most scrumptious patishaptas I have ever had. Ever since I can recall, I eagerly waited for her to make them and the delightful whiff of her freshly made crepes still lingers in my mind. In fact she couldn’t even take the first batch out from the kitchen as me and my sisters would pounce on the plate to claim our share 😀 She is no longer with us today but the sweet memories still remain fresh as ever.

Last Friday, Makar Sankranti was celebrated in India, and so I decided that I would make Patishapta. I called up mum and noted down the recipe like an obedient student and then checked my pantry. Thankfully I had all the ingredients in stock! Though the magic of my dida couldn’t be recreated but it was tasty nevertheless because S couldn’t stop at just one 😉

So here’s the recipe- (Traditionally, Nolen Gur or Date Palm Jaggery is used but since I didn’t have that so I used brown sugar instead)

* I am not very particular about measurements, unless it is for baking. I just go by my estimation, so you can adjust accordingly.

Ingredients (for about 8 Patishapta):

For the stuffing:

  • 4 cups grated coconut
  • 1 cup brown sugar (or as per your taste)
  • Green cardamom powder (preferably crushed in a mortar pestle)
  • 2 cups milk

For the batter:

  • 1 cup semolina
  • 2 cups maida or all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup rice flour
  • Sugar to taste
  • Water for semi runny batter

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Method:

In a kadhai/ wok on low-medium heat, dry roast grated coconut for a few minutes. Now mix sugar with the coconut and keep stirring continuously. Carry on with it for at least 15-20 minutes. Now add freshly crushed green cardamom powder in the kadhai and mix well.

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The sugar and coconut should combine really well to give a slightly mushy texture. In my case it was taking a lot of time and so I used milk (not used in the original recipe). Maybe my coconut wasn’t that fresh as I used store bought grated coconut. It is very important to use fresh coconut, although after adding milk (you can also use condensed milk for a gooey filling) I got the right texture and it also enhanced the flavour. Once the filling is ready, remove from the kadhai and let it cool.

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Now for the batter, in a large bowl, mix semolina with some water and let it rest for about 30 minutes. After that, add maida and rice flour. Mix well with water to make a batter which is slightly runny. Add some sugar according to your taste.

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Heat a tawa/ round flat griddle. Drizzle few drops of oil and smear it all over using an eggplant stem. Pour a ladle full of the batter into the center of the tawa. Spread it evenly using the back of the ladle.

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When you see bubbles forming on top, put the filling in the center of the crepe and gently fold from both sides. Once folded, press for about 30-40 seconds on each side and remove immediately.

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You can serve them hot just like that or if you have patience, then drizzle some condensed milk/ melted nolen gur (jaggery) on top for a blissful experience 🙂

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BISOU- A little sugar & a whole lot of love!

 

Hello Peeps!

Today being New Year’s Eve, I thought what better way to end 2016 than on a sweet note. So this blog is dedicated to my favourite cupcake shop, BISOU in Suria KLCC, 3rd floor. BISOU- is a French term meaning Kiss! Quite an apt name for the bakery as their cupcakes are like decadent kisses of everything sugary & sweet. This will be a photo blog showcasing some of their amazing assortment of flavours.

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One look at the cupcakes on display & you’ll be drawn towards their counter in no time. They look so pretty that sometimes you just want to stare & not eat. Their cakes are always fresh & moist while they use the best quality ingredients for their cream, ganache & frostings. Service is quick & efficient, however only 4-6 people can have a seat at a time & enjoy their cupcakes peacefully, as it’s a small kiosk with a couple of bar stools. Rest have to either pack for home or stand in a corner & eat anyway 😀

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Next time when you crave for something sweet and are near KLCC, do not forget to check out the bakery. It will simply make your day 🙂

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So here’s wishing all my readers a very happy 2017! See you next year with more interesting reviews, travel tales & lip-smacking recipes.

Sponge cake (with dry fruits & chocolate bits)

Freshly baked...straight from the stove top!
Freshly baked…straight from the stove top!

It was quite sometime that I was craving for simple homemade cakes. The market is flooded with its richer varieties- loaded with cream, ganache, fondant & frostings. No doubt they are absolutely lip-smacking & worth indulging on cheat days but for me nothing is as comforting as a warm slice of the humble homemade sponge cake. So I decided to bake one.

But there was a small hurdle to be dealt with at first 😀 I had no oven! & my microwave didn’t have convection mode but I badly wanted to have some cake :/ I quickly flipped through the pages of my recipe diary, hoping to find at least one cake recipe baked in a cooker/ pan & voila!! I had actually noted down a very simple sponge cake recipe by celebrity Indian chef Rakesh Sethi long back & it came to my rescue today 🙂 He baked it in a cooker but I baked mine in a deep bottomed pan. My cooker wasn’t wide enough to place the cake tin inside. Worked perfectly fine, just that took double the time. One thing I can assure you that there couldn’t possibly be any simpler sponge cake recipe that is fantastic to taste as well. Do try it at your home. I slightly modified the recipe to suit my taste & diet needs 😉

So soft and fluffy!
So soft and fluffy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (I used brown)
  • 1/4 cup butter (I used salted butter)
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk (preferably made from whole milk)
  • 1 cup maida/ all purpose flour (I used wholewheat cake flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Milk for batter
  • Almonds, raisins, dark chocolate bits & shavings

Method:

Take a deep bottomed pan & place it on the stove top on low heat. Pour 1 cup salt into the pan. It will act as the base. This is necessary so that your pan doesn’t get burnt & neither does your cake. Now cover with a lid. Make sure there is a small vent/ opening on the lid. If using a cooker, don’t forget to remove the whistle while closing the lid for preheating.

For the batter, take a big bowl. Add sugar, butter & the condensed milk. Mix well using a balloon whisk. Now slowly add in the flour, baking powder & baking soda. Add milk in desired quantity to make the perfect thick batter.

Throw in some chopped almonds, raisins &  chocolate bits & mix well. Grate 2 pieces of dark chocolate (chocolate shavings) and add in the batter.

Now line the cake tin with butter and pour the batter into it. (That rhymed 😀 butter & batter!) Make sure the batter is evenly spread. Now remove the lid from the pan & carefully place the tin inside it as the pan is very hot. Cover with the lid once again. On low heat it will take you around 50 minutes. On a pressure cooker it takes 25-30 minutes as per the chef. Keep checking with a tooth pick or knife after 40 minutes and when it comes out clean your cake is ready!

Enjoy with a cup of freshly brewed tea like I did or as it is. A slice of happiness, a slice of life 🙂

Note: ALWAYS use the same cup for all measurements (whether 1/2, 1/3 or 1)

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