Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Moving On Towards ...A Sweet Vegan World

 Hi there! And Thank You for Visiting Vanilla Bites.
Integrating my own journey of following a Vegan way of life and my love for cooking,
I have moved on to write a pure Vegan Food Blog called A Sweet Vegan World.
A Sweet Vegan World is a blog where I share delicious and wholesome Vegan recipes.
So See you there!

"Now I can look at you with peace : I don't eat you anymore" - Franz Kafka

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Simplicity on a Plate.....

Spicy Pan Fried Brinjal Slices with Whipped Curd, Tomato Jalapenos Chunky Salsa and Bulgur Wheat... Simplicity on a plate.....

Ingredients  and Recipe:

For Spicy Brinjal Slices :

1 medium sized brinjal
1/2 cup mint leaves
2 green chillies
juice of half lemon
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp oil for shallow pan frying

Recipe :

1. Cut the brinjal in roundels
2. Make a chutney by mixing together mint, green chillies and lemon juice in a blender till it becomes a smooth paste.
3. Marinate the brinjal slices with the mint chutney, turmeric powder and red chilli powder.
4. Shallow fry the brinjal roundels in very less oil in a pan till fully cooked and slightly crispy.

For Salsa :

1 tomato finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
2 tsp jalapenos finely chopped
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1/2 tsp tomato ketchup
few basil leaves

Recipe : Mix together all the ingredients finely and keep aside.

For bulgur wheat :

1 cup bulgur wheat
1 and 1/2 cup water

Recipe : In a vessel put the bulgur wheat and the water. Put it on heat and cook for about 8-10 minutes

For Whipped Curd :

1/2 cup curd
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Recipe : Mix all the ingredients and whip together till smooth.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Warm Baked Almond Cherry Clafoutis

Don't get intimidated by the fancy name. Basically a Cherry Almond Clafoutis is  an almond based flourless cake base topped with sweetened (macerated) fresh cherries. The other day I saw some beautiful fresh cherries at the my fruit vendor and couldn't resist buying loads of them. So I was looking up various recipes for cherries and came across this one which I really liked. My baby just never eats almonds in any form so I thought this was a great way to get some almonds into his system without him resisting them. The base is simply a mixture of almonds, eggs, cinnamon and sugar... almost like the frangipane filling. And the cherries are macerated with some sugar for a couple of hours or overnight. So these little babies add a great punch of flavour to the base. Its really very easy to whisk up and is super yummy. A great find for my personal collection of  rustic fruit desserts.

 My son loved the sweetened cherries and the almond clafoutis and I am a satisfied mother having found a solution to feed almond meal to him. Now that's a win win solution.. If you find yourself in my shoes.. try this one out..

Ingredients :

For macerating the cherries :
1/2 cup pitted fresh cherries
3tsp sugar

For the base :
1 cup almonds
3 tsp all purpose flour
1/4th cup sugar
1 whole egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 th cup milk
2 tsp melted butter

Recipe :
1. Macerate the pitted fresh cherries with sugar for atleast two hours or best overnight
2. Take a mixer and grind the unpeeled almonds into a  powder.
3. Remove in a mixing bowl and add flour, sugar, whisked egg, vanilla extract, cinnamon powder, milk and melted butter.
4. Now take a baking dish and pour the base mixture into it.
5. Top the mixture with the cherries
6. Bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees C.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Wholewheat Waffles with Mangoes and Berries


 My baby loves to eat waffles, not only eating them but also making them. Even when he was in diapers, he would sit down in the kitchen with a big mixing bowl and loved being involved in the whole activity. Whisking eggs, sifting flour and making a big gooey mess in the process and that would really thrill him and he still continues to do so. So its not me alone who made these waffles but he helped me too. Last year my sandwich maker gave way, that's when I found this awesome model which has detachable sandwich, waffle and panini grilling plates. So I didn't have to buy a waffle iron separately. Anyways somehow the space in the kitchen just never seems enough and everytime I even glance at the crockery section my hubby quickly reminds me of it.. :) 
We all love to eat hot waffles at home. So I make this healthier version with wholewheat flour so I don't have to feel guilty. And you can always get creative with your own favourite toppings. I like mine topped with apple sauce and caramelised apples. My son enjoys his with maple syrup, mangoes and chocolate sauce. My hubby really is such a gentle and a kind soul..he never has any specific food preferences and is always happy with whatever is presented in front of him as long as it is healthy.
So, here goes the recipe...............


Ingredients :
(Makes 6 waffles)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1and 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs ( separated)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp pure vanilla essence
Recipe :
1. Turn on your waffle iron for heating.
2. Put the egg whites in a separate bowl and beat them till stiff.
3. In a bowl mix together sieved whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon powder.
4. In another bowl whip together egg yolks, butter, milk and vanilla essence.
5.Add the dry ingredients in the wet and mix properly. Then fold in the egg whites in to mixture gently.
6. Ladle the batter into the pre heated iron and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes till they turn crispy and golden brown.
7. Top them with your favourite fruits, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, whipped cream or whatever you like.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Walk Down the Fish Market and A Quick Pan Fried Pomfret...

Some weekends, early in the mornings, I love to go to the fish market at Mahim to buy the fresh catch of the day. I have been lucky to have spent a large part of my childhood in the lovely Shivaji Park area in Mumbai. I have walked the small alleys of the fish market here as a little girl holding my dad's hand many times. To me walking around in this fish market comes very naturally and I feel at home here. The hustle bustle of the market, the slippery alleys, the fishy smell, the cats running here and there just don't seem to bother me. The fisher women chatting away merrily are all quite a familiar sight . So here's camera shy fish lady. Her warm smile is hard to miss. She had some real fresh pomfret at her bench the other day which I could not resist buying and she happily cleaned and cut it for me just the way I wanted it.

Over the years, I have observed most of these fisher women sitting in this market. Sometimes, I still struggle with the names of the different fish, and when I ask them, they look at me with amusement and help me out with the same. Sometimes out of curiosity, I ask them how they cook these fish at home and they eagerly provide me with their recipes. As I walk amongst them, I cannot help noticing the camaraderie that they all share and how cheerful some of them are. Amongst all the hustle bustle and the pressure to sell all the perishable fish, they seem to be happy and at peace.  They share their tea together, chat with each other and joke around. They spent a large part of their day at this market and they make the most of it. 
So I made this whole stuffed pomfret with a very simple garlic and chilly paste filling. I usually bake it but sometimes I like to indulge a bit and pan fry it. My Mum was very famous for her stuffed pomfrets and I can't help thinking of her when I make them. She would make them with various chutneys, all of them equally delicious.

Here goes the recipe :

Ingredients :

2 medium sized pomfrets, cleaned and cut with slits for stuffing on both sides
juice of 1 lemon
a pinch of salt

For the paste :
10 cloves of garlic
3-4 red chillies
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp tamarind pulp
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp oil

Recipe :

1. Wash the pomfret thoroughly and marinate it with a pinch of salt and lemon juice.
2. Put all the stuffing ingredients in a mixer and blend to a fine paste.
3. Stuff the paste generously in the pomfret slits on both slides and also rub on top of the pomfret.
4. Take a pan and heat the oil in it and gently fry the pomfrets till cooked.



Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Birthday My Angel!!

Underneath the moon,
Underneath the stars,
Here's a little heart for you.
Up above the world,
Up above it all,
Here's a hand to hold on to.

("Don't Let Me Fall" by Lenka)
Happy Birthday, My Angel! They say that before coming in this world, as souls, we get to choose our parents. If this indeed is true, then I am so thankful that this delightful little baby chose me to be his mommy. He has truly been such a gift in my life and has brought so much happiness and joy, much beyond something I had ever imagined.
The beginning of my Magical Journey : My whole world changed a little over four years ago when I first found out the good news. I had never imagined that pregnancy would be such a mystical experience. Here I was, doing my regular routine things, but something was body was actually busy making a body! and I had no control over it!! That's when I realised how magical our existence truly is. While I was busy making excel sheets, reading, eating, even sleeping..this baby would exactly be getting 2 eyes, 2 ears, 1 nose and 1 mouth, with all the exact details of the human body and will come out at just the right time. I was awed by the power of nature then. Being an ardent reader of  Deepak Chopra's books,  I ordered his book Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives : A Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and wanted to understand more and live my pregnancy with full awareness.  There was a life growing inside me and I wanted to connect with it. As parents, all that we wish for our children is to be happy....whatever they may choose to do in life..we want them to be just we decided to call this baby in my tummy..Happy..till the time it came out. I felt a very deep connection to this baby and a new found sense of calmness had taken over me. And as strange as it may sound, I had a deep sense of knowing of what this baby  would be....But I myself found it strange to even tell anyone about I just quietly patiently waited to know if my instinct was correct... :)
His timing couldn't have been more perfect.. I was going through a massive personal tragedy. I lost my mother in a car accident and my dad was seriously hurt and could never walk after that and soon passed away too. I could not afford to break down. I needed all the strength I could muster and this little 5 month old baby gave it to me. After completing the funeral and attending to my dad.. as I would sit to nurse my baby..this baby would stare at me with his big alert eyes, make gurgly noises and smile at me.. :) As bitter as I felt about the departure of my parents, I couldn't help feeling thankful for the presence of this baby. Sometimes I think, if it hadn't been for this tragedy, I would not have seen him the way I do now..

Today, he is a 4 year old big boy (he insists on being called that :)) and really tests my patience sometimes and we have our moments. But I remind myself that's its a test of my patience, not his. I am learning to be a better person because of him. His unlimited energy and exuberance for life is something that I truly get amazed over. I see in him, pure innocence and truly understand the meaning of unconditional love. I learn to be in the present moment from him.  I learn from him that I too can learn piano, paint, sketch, play chess, learn a new language and learn anything new that I put my mind to. I love the twinkle and excitement in his eyes when he sees anything new. His persistence and negotiation capability just leaves me amazed. Above all his curiosity and hunger for knowledge is something I have to keep up with. I love how he simply just asks..but Why Maa ?? and I have to rack my brains, go back to the basics and answer him. The list of my learnings just goes on and on....

Today, I am the center of his universe, the minute he wakes up he looks for me. But I also know that this window of opportunity is only for the next few years before his friends and external influences become more important to him. I know that phase is coming soon. So I want to make the most of my time with him. Today my time and attention is of prime importance to him and I want to give that to him. He is growing up real fast and very soon he will be his own person (he already thinks he is). And I will be happy then too. I want to be his safety net on which he can choose to fall on if he wishes to and not a net which stifles him. He can fly as far as he wants.. I have the satisfaction of having had my fill at the right time.
So to my dear big boy, Samar..I want him to know that he is truly a very special soul..he is not just ours, but a child of this wonderful universe. He will have his own destiny to fulfil and his own lessons to learn. And that there are two people who would do anything..literally anything to see just a smile on that cute dimpled face...:)

We already celebrated his birthday with all his friends with the superhero cake (no..i didn't make that) at the beginning of  the summers since everyone would go vacationing then. So today is our family celebration day..and I made these little cupcakes for my cupcake. Here goes the recipe.....

Ingredients (for 9 cupcakes) :

For the chocolate cupcakes :
2 cups all purpose flour
2 whole eggs
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 th cup milk

For the chocolate ganache :
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 th cup cream
2 tsp icing sugar
1/2 cup sprinkles
 Recipe :

1. Take a large mixing bowl. Whisk together eggs, sugar and butter.
2. Sift together flour,baking powder and cocoa and add to the wet ingredients.
3. Add milk and whisk till smooth ribbon like consistency.
4. Line the cupcake mould with the liners and spoon in the batter till 3/4th full.
5. Bake the cupcakes at 180 degrees C for 25 minutes.
6. Cool on a wire rack.
7. For the ganache, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave for 2 minutes.
8. Add sugar and cream to the melted chocolate.
9. Spoon the ganache over the cooled cupcakes and add sprinkles on top.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Singapore Chilli Crab

Well, is there anyone who has been to Singapore and not had this awesome dish? 
Here goes the recipe.... 
Ingredients :
2 medium sized hard shell crabs
2 medium sized onions
8 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 inch finely chopped ginger
4 finely chopped bird eye chillies
1/2 cup tomato puree
3 tsp tomato sauce
1 tsp chilli sauce
1 tsp white vine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
1 whole egg
a handful of coriander for garnishing
2 tsp oil
salt to taste
A note on cleaning and steaming the crabs : My mother had a technique of freezing the crabs and then scrubbing them before dismanteling them. I find it very useful so I continue using this technique. After freezing and scrubbing the crab thoroughly, I prefer to steam it in a steamer till it turns orange as it is easier to clean it then.  Remove the soft finger like things inside and all the unwanted parts from inside. Keep the outer shell. As you can later use it for garnishing. Yeah..thats a bit of work..but it surely is worth it!

Recipe :
1. Clean and Steam crab as per the note above.
2. Take a blender and make a fine paste out of the onions and the red chillies.
3. Take a wok and heat the oil in it and saute the garlic and ginger in it.
4. Then add the onion and chilli paste and cook it till its dry.
5. Add the tomato puree, tomato sauce, chilli sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and salt and cook for a minute.
6. Then add the steamed crabs and cook in the sauce for a few minutes. 
7. Then whisk up an egg and add to the sauce. This will give the sauce a rich consistency and taste.
8. Cook for a couple of minutes more and garnish with chopped coriander.
9. Serve with some bread to mop up the sauce.