Monday, October 3, 2011

Heart Warming Stories, Soulful Food : Desi Pizza For Single Girls (For an evening full of Gluttony)

"You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six" – Yogi Berra
On cold winter Saturday evenings which happened to be our treat day my mum would give us a choice – pizzas or burgers. Mind you, we hardly ate out and there was no Dominos or Pizza Hut during the 1980’s where I grew up.
Our treat meant that mum would pull out her Tarla Dalal cookbook start making dough and have yummy pizzas out from a battered orange coloured oven in no time.
The kitchen in my childhood home (a stable from the British times converted into a home) was out in the veranda and my memories of those Saturday evenings still stick to the smell of slightly burnt cheese and tomato which travelled through the veranda. We would sit on a swing and look out to the garden waiting for the pizzas to get ready, with half filled transparent glasses from the weekly quota of one Thumbs up bottle split in careful measure between my brother and me.
 We grew up of course and the homemade dough turned into readymade pizza bread from the local bakery. What didn’t change was mum’s secret recipe for the sauce that gave the pizza such a desi flavour and trust me though pizza happens to be one of my comfort junk food nothing has ever come close to what we used to make at home.
A few days ago a sudden urge for those pizzas came over me and off I went BBMing mum to remind me of the recipe!
Because I love olives and can have a full jar in one sitting I used olives in my version of the pizza my mum used to make, I also used readymade bread and tomato puree because seriously, who has the time?
With so many shortcuts, it is perhaps the easiest and fastest vegetarian meal to make when you get back from work at 9pm, skip the gym, dont mind a dinner full of cheese & bread and have just an hour before you eat and crash.
So here goes my recipe for the Sethi’s version of pizza twisted especially for single working girls (and boys too) :-)

What you need –
  • 4 pizza bases (I used the frozen ones at Carrefour and tasted great)
  • 1 can of tomato puree (I love Pomi’s)
  • 4-5 pods of garlic chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon Ajwain (Bishops weed/Carom seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon freshly crushed peppercons
  • 1 table spoon oil
  • 1 Chopped onion for the sauce
  • 1 onion cut into small pieces or chopped (however you prefer it, I use chopped onions, because I buy a pack from Carrefour and save my time and tears)
  • 1 medium capsicum chopped or cut into rings
  • Olives – Green or Black cut into half
  • Mozzarella cheese (we grew up with grated Amul cheese on the pizza, so whatever you get your hands on)
  • Salt to taste
What you need to do –
  • Preheat the oven to around 170 degrees (gas mark between 6-7)
  • Heat the oil in a non stick pan, add garlic and chopped onions
  • When the onions become translucent add the tomato puree, add a little water to the can and scoop out everything from in it.
  • Reduce the heat, add salt, sugar, ajwain, pepper and allow it to thicken
  • Taste the sauce; you might want to alter the levels of sugar and salt to get that perfect tangy sweet and salty sauce. Turn off the heat when the sauce is little thick.
  • Prepare the pizza - A nice thick layer of sauce and top it with onions, capsicum, olives and cheese
  • Dump it in the oven till the base gets brown and crisp (I like my base extra crisp and always leave it a little longer)
  • Cut into 4 or 6 pieces and hog away!*
*Eaten and served best with a can of bud**
**Guarantees sound sleep and a fresh you the next morning!
Happy Gluttony!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Heartwarming Stories, Soulful Food : Gooey Banana Walnut Cake

My interest in cooking is very recent. For starters the NEED to cook led me to get on with the pots and pans. Secondly my love for food left me with no choice but to simply just make what I felt like eating. Thirdly Masterchef Australia happens to be my favourite show on television.

Put the three together and you have me every day at 6.30 pm browsing for recipes to get home and try.
For someone who hated the kitchen, it is quite a three sixty degree change. 

As I started to cook, I realised how something inside me started to change. Cooking for me has become therapeutic and also saves me a lot of money in eating out!

I have been meaning to put down some of my recipes (actually, my versions of recipes I pick up here and there) with a story that leads to each one and honestly I was never confident. 

But something strange happened yesterday. I picked up a new baking tin from the supermarket and while I was putting down the shopping bags on the kitchen counter I noticed that two bananas were over ripe and had to be consumed immediately. 

So instead of throwing them or eating them, an idea of a banana cake popped into my head. Now, for a really really amateur cook like me, who keeps referring to recipes while cooking, something that came up by instinct was a breakthrough. 

I could feel the flavour of the cake, how I wanted it to taste like a banana muffin I had eaten before, but I wanted to be much gooier. That’s when I knew, if this turned out well, I will write about my cooking adventures because my palette for cooking has obviously started to develop as much as my palette for eating it.....Walk with me while I learn, experiment and start to love the world of cooking! 

So here goes my recipe for a Gooey Banana Walnut Cake

What you need -
  • 170 gms self raising flour
  •  170 gms castor sugar
  • 170 gms I know, its butter but it makes it so much yummier. I used desi Amul butter which is salted, next time I will go for unsalted butter or margarine though
  • 3 eggs
  • 5-6 drops of vanilla essence
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • A handful of chopped walnuts
  • Baking tin – grease it with some butter and then throw in some flour (an old trick my mum taught me)
 What you do –
  • Pre-heat the oven to around 120 degrees (I use the gas mark which is somewhere between 2and 3)
  • Just dump all the ingredients (except the walnuts) into a bowl and either use a food processor or a hand blender to blend it into a smooth mixture
  • When the mixture is smooth add the walnuts and mix it well in the mixture
  • Pour into the greased tin and dump it in the oven for around 50 minutes
  • You will know when the sweet aroma of butter and bananas start to fill your home that the banana walnut cake is done!
What I will (and you could perhaps) do next time –
  • Sprinkle some cinnamon on the cake
  • Adding some cooking chocolate, perhaps try this with muffins

This is the kind of cake you just can’t have one piece of. Enjoy it as a snack on the go or with a steaming cup of tea. 

Happy eating :) 


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