Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Saffron Semolina Cake

This was my best experience. Baking this cake has been on my mind since many days... I have a big bag of very very fine semolina... making upma with that turns out like a lumpy porridge... the only options with that semolina are idlis or dosas... I thought I would try using it in a cake instead. Initially I was not very sure about the semolina getting cooked properly but eventually it all turned out into a yummy scrummy delicious cake.

As usual there is no butter in this recipe. I used sunflower oil (thought olive oil would not go with the flavour of saffron here) and a tablespoon of semi skimmed milk. I would love to experiment adding some  dry fruits (like dates, raisins etc) though but this time I just made it plain... believe me.. it tasted heavenly...

This cake had such a nice texture from the cooked semolina and a sweet aroma from the saffron. Since this was the first time I was making this cake I made a small quantity in a loaf pan but this would make a perfect breakfast if made in a square or even round cake tin.

I could not just stop taking photos of this lovely looking cake..

okay.. this is how I made the cake...


Very fine semolina - 1 cup
Wholewheat flour - 1/2 cup
Egg - 1
Sunflower Oil - 1/2 cup
Milk - 2 tbsps - warm
Saffron - 2 pinches
Baking Powder - 2 tsp
Sugar - 1/2 cup - Preferably white so that the color of saffron stands out


  1. Grease the loaf tin with little bit of oil.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 degC.
  3. In the warm milk soak the saffron until the batter is ready.
  4. In a large bowl whisk the egg, oil and sugar and beat them nicely.
  5. Mix the semolina and flour in a separate bowl with the baking powder.
  6. Once this is done, mash the saffron strands well in the milk and add the whole thing into the wet mixture.
  7. Add the flours and mix well. If the consistency is too thick you could add some milk.
  8. Pour the batter into the cake tin/loaf tin and bake it in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes (but do check it often). Mine got perfectly baked in 30 minutes. 
  9. Test the cake with a knife or a skewer and remove it from the oven when done.
  10. Release the ends with a knife, place the cake on a plate, let it cool down before you cut it. 

Enjoy every bite... :)

Friday, 17 September 2010

Pasta with balsamic roasted vegetables

I got a gift on my birthday from my friend. It was a goodie basket filled with Italian foodstuff. It had Jamie Oliver's pesto, Filipo Berio Olive oil, Some marinated olives, Jamie Oliver bronze fusili, Biscottis and a bottle of balsamic vinegar.

I was very keen on using this vinegar for roasting rather than using in salad dressings. I had some butternut squash in the fridge and one zucchini... So the menu was balsamic roasted vegetables that I tossed with some pasta and it was so yummy that we thought we will make it again and again..

I also added some onions, garlic and tomato in the roasting pan and it was such a nice blend with the pasta...

Here is how I made it.


Butternut squash - 3 cups - cubed
Zucchini - 1 - cubed
Onions - 2 - quartered
Tomatoes - 2 - quartered
Garlic - 6 pods - minced
Balsamic Vinegar - good 4 tbsps
Olive oil - 2 tbsps
Salt and pepper
Wholewheat pasta - 100g


In a big broad bowl place all the veggies.
Mix the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and give it a good mix.
Toss all these into a baking tray and roast in the oven at 200degC for about 30 - 35 minutes.
Cook the pasta al dente.
Once done mix the roasted veggies and pasta, top it with a tbsp of olive oil and toss well.
Sprinkle some cheese on top if you like.. I prefer parmesan but I didnt have it to hand, so we used some mozzarella... :)
Serve it up in large bowls for a satisfying, healthy dinner....

Sunday, 12 September 2010

A New Venture - Wholewheat Nut and Seed Biscotti

I am a great fan of Heidi Swanson - her website 101 cookbooks (link in My Favourite Bloggers) is filled with healthy, easy and quick recipes. Most of them are vegetarian, which is good for me. She uses less butter/oil, wholegrains, lower fat ingredients but still turns out yummy, mouthwatering dishes.

I have never baked biscotti before. I have been having this in my mind since many days and was researching on healthy recipes for baking biscotti. I had a couple bookmarked but this one at Heidi's website was very tempting as it uses NO BUTTER at all. We had a relaxing day and in the evening I just thought I will bake something while my baby was enjoying his dad-time.

I followed her recipe but did some minor tweaks. Her recipe calls for a pinch of salt which I didnt put as I wasn't sure how that would taste. Also I mixed 1/4 cup olive oil in the batter.


Wholewheat flour - 1 1/2 cup
Mixed nuts and seeds - I used Pistachios, Pecans, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds and Sesame seeds
Muscavado Sugar - 1/2 cup
Extra virgin Olive oil - 1/4 cup
Eggs - 2


Preheat the oven to 150 degC.
In a dry pan roast the nuts and seeds until you get a nice aroma - make sure you add sesame seed at the very end. Once they are a bit cool, chop them roughly.
In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and olive oil. Reserve a couple tsp of olive oil for later.
Mix the chopped nuts with the wheatflour first.
Add the whole dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix.
The dough will be very tight. Pack it into a greased bread loaf pan tightly.
Bake until the loaf is cooked. Mine took about 30 minutes.
Take the loaf out of the oven and turn the heat on to 200 degC.
Run a knife along the edges of the loaf to release it and turn it out onto a clean chopping board.
Using a serrated knife slice the loaf into 1/4 inch pieces. The thinner the better.
Arrange them onto the baking sheet, spray/brush with some olive oil and bake it again for 5 minutes.
Flip the biscottis, apply some olive oil on the other side and bake for 5 minutes.

These crispy and crunchy biscottis tasted so good especially dunk in some good hot coffee. A nice and healthy snack...

I will try out the other biscotti recipes also soon. But for now... I am very pleased about my very first biscotti baking experience.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Warm and hearty lentils and lettuce soup

How many times have you felt so tired but still wanted to relish some comforting, easy-to-make, warm dinner? Well... these days it happens to us a lot... That too on weekends after a day's outing, putting the baby to sleep and then... the last thing I want to do is to stand in the kitchen for an hour to roll out rotis... This soup is perfect for such times. 

I would rather not serve it as a starter because I think this is so filling and satisfying that there would be no chance for the main meals. This is a complete meal in itself. With the warmth of the red lentils, I added half a head of iceberg lettuce, I was quite surprised by the taste it brought out. 

The croutons (they were so big that they covered the whole soup bowl.. the soup rather looks like a crouton soup) were store-bought but still they were baked not fried. A sprinkle of half fat mozzarella (if you like) or parmesan would be an added burst of flavour. These red lentils are so easy to cook and they take only 10 minutes or so to get well cooked.

This is how I made the soup:


Red Lentils - 1 cup (serves 2)
Iceberg Lettuce - half a head
Onions - 1 medium
Garlic - 3 cloves
Vegetable Stock - Optional (you could use water)
Tomato - 1 (if you are using a puree then add just 2 tsp)
Salt and pepper 
Mozzarella or Parmesan

Easy-Peasy method

Heat up some olive oil in a deep pan and saute the onions and garlic until they are cooked.
Add the tomatoes and give it a stir for 2 minutes.
Wash and add the lentils.
Add vegetable stock or water and bring it up to a boil.
After 10 minutes check the lentils and add the lettuce leaves and turn off the heat. 
After 2 minutes, with a hand blender or in a mixie, blend everything together. 
Serve in big bowls with croutons and cheese if you like. 
Dont forget the freshly ground black pepper... 

Slurp... Enjoy a healthy dinner/lunch.. :)