23 December 2010

Gifts for the holidays

The experience of learning from the internet goes on everyday. There are numerous wonderful websites with some great ideas that I have learnt from.
These are some projects which could be easy DIY  projects for Christmas. I specially love the snow globes.

For the kids...Craft Box
 Bitty Bags

This craft is an easy do-it-yourself project for kids to make.
Found on Martha Stewart's site.....Snow Globes
Another easy one from the same site .....Bath Fizzies
Some ideas for 'Gifts in a Jar'

This site gives you lovely printables too...Jar Gifts 

22 December 2010

Retro mummy's flower sugar giveaway!!

Time to enter another giveaway. Corrie of Retro mummy is holding a great giveaway ...20 fat quarters of Flower Sugar range to be won!!! What a fantastic fabric collection. Visit this place..Retro mummy... to get your chance to win it. Good luck!!

21 December 2010

Tandoori roti ..... without a tandoor.

Lot of Indian dishes often call for tandoori roti as an accompaniment. This is  made with whole wheat flour and traditionally baked in a clay oven or 'tandoor'.  

This is my version of making a tandoori roti at home with ease, with no requirement of a tandoor/oven. The one thing you do need is a griddle, or a tawa, but not the non-stick kind.

The dough used for this is the same as used for a regular roti/chapatti.
1½ cup       whole wheat flour
 ½ tsp          salt (optional)
1 tbsp          desi/pure ghee or clarified butter 

Mix the three ingredients together, knead with water into a medium-firm dough. Knead it well for a minute or two to make it smooth. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Put the griddle on the fire to heat up. 
Take a golf ball size piece of dough and roll out into a roti. A tandoori roti is normally rolled out thicker than a regular roti, say about 4 mm thick.
Take the roti in one hand and with the other smear one side of the roti with some water, just to wet the surface. Now put the roti wet-side down on to the griddle. This way the roti will stick to it....yes we want it to do that.
Here's the fun part now. Turn the heat down low. As soon as you put the roti on the griddle, flip the griddle upside-down so the roti is directly over the fire. This is why we needed the roti to stick to the griddle. Move the griddle around over the flame every few seconds as you check on the roti and see that all of it cooks evenly.  This should take less than a minute.
 Once you see all of it cooked, flip the griddle right-side up and let the underside of the roti cook. When it is done, in a few more seconds, try and prise it off with a par of tongs and it'll come off the griddle easily.
If you feel this side is a little uncooked, as seen below, you can roast it on the direct flame for a few seconds. Take it off the fire.
Your roti is done. Smear a spoon of ghee on it and crush a little in a tea towel.Serve hot with Paneer Korma or Butter Chicken or a curry of your choice.
Enjoy your roti.
Do let me know how it works out for you.( Sorry, but I have no idea of how this will work on an electric hob.)

The Clutch That Turned on its Head

(Before I write anything else, let me apologize for the upside-down, rather, my turned-on-its-head picture. Everything is fine while writing this, but as soon as I post it, it just turns!!!!! Still trying to figure it out, please bear with me...:))
My first serious project sewing with satin....
I used this free pattern from Kwik Sew......Clutch Purse.
 'My satin clutch purse'....lined with printed cotton, closes with a magnetic snap and features a satin flower as an embellishment. I added a small pocket inside that was not part of the pattern.
I was a little wary of using satin, it being a slippery fabric. But it turned out to be pretty easy to sew with, maybe because I lined it with cotton fabric.
The pattern is easy to follow with good instructions. I made the large size - pattern is for two sizes. I omitted the piping part of the design but added a small pocket inside. As an embellishment I made a satin flower that I sewed on to the flap. As I afterthought I realized I could have added a strap to make it into a wristlet. My whip-stitch that I used to sew up the opening that was for turning the purse left a lot to be desired...sadly.

Lot of people who used this pattern really loved it, but I doubt if I'll use it again. I just found it a little bit fiddly to sew .....maybe it's just me..........and I find there are lots of patterns available that might be easier to make.
But I would definitely recommend it to others.

20 December 2010

Butter Chicken...a recipe

Butter  Chicken, a favourite Punjabi dish, is said to have originated from the kitchens of Mr Kundan Lal Gujral who ran the Moti Mahal restaurant from Peshawar before the partition of India. After partition he moved to India, bringing the popular dish with him.
This dish, served with tandoori roti is a meal that my family loves and I find very convenient  to make. Though it looks like a complicated dish, the actual cooking time is just about 15-20 minutes. The assembly of ingredients and marination  is what takes time. Most recipes don't use turmeric powder but I like to use just a little in the gravy to bring out the colour of the tomatoes and red chillies.
Traditionally the marinated chicken is cooked in a tandoor- a clay oven-that gives it a lovely smoky flavor, but at home you can cook it in a regular oven.
Lot of recipes call for cashew paste to thicken the gravy, but I avoid using this as it only adds to the calorie content.
The marinade uses Kashmiri red chilli powder , which is a mild chilli and adds more of a natural red color than anything else.

Butter Chicken ... this recipe Serves 4

800gms-1kg                   chicken pieces (with bones)
For the marinade:
2-3 tbsp                         lime juice
1 tsp                              salt
Mix together:
1 cup                            yogurt/curd, hung in muslin cloth for 15 minutes
                                    to drain out water                                  
2 tbsp                           ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp                             Kashmiri red chilli powder
4                                  cloves
1” piece                         cinnamon
4-5                                green cardamom (powdered)
2                                   green chillies(chopped)
1 tsp                              garam masala
Small pinch                     red color powder
1 tbsp                            chopped coriander
Salt to taste
Note: To add the colour, start with the tiniest amount with the end of a toothpick and add more if needed, as the intensity of colour can vary from brand to brand.

For gravy:
1 tbsp                            vegetable oil
50 gms                           butter
6-8                                tomatoes (about ½ kg), blanched and
3 tbsp                            cashew powder (optional)
2 tbsp                            kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
½ tsp                             green cardamom, powdered
1 tsp                              red chilli powder
1-2 tbsp                         chopped green chillies
1 tsp                              sugar
1/4th tsp                         turmeric
For garnish-
4-5 tbsp                          cream
3-4 tbsp                          chopped green coriander

Rub the pieces with salt and lime juice and keep aside for 15 minutes. Marinate the chicken in the marinade for 6-8 hours in the fridge.
Wrap in foil and cook in the oven at 200-250°C for 10 minutes. Unwrap the foil and cook for further 15 minutes till almost cooked. The rest of it will cook when simmered in the gravy.

Heat the oil in a saucepan then add the butter (this prevents the butter from burning). Add cardamom powder, fry for a minute. (if using cashew powder, add this now and fry lightly for a minute).
Add the pureed tomato and green chillies. Cook on low heat till oil separates from the pulp.
Now add chilli powder, salt, turmeric, sugar. Cook for a minute.
Add chicken and simmer for 3 minutes.
Rub the kasoori methi between your palms (to release the aroma) and sprinkle over the gravy.
Pour over the cream add mix in gently. Garnish with chopped coriander.
Serve hot with tandoori roti or plain naan, fresh salad and green chillies. Be sure to add a bowl of plain curd/yogurt to balance the spiciness.
Hope you enjoy this!!!!

17 December 2010

Women of World War II

This is a national monument dedicated to the Women of the Second World War, situated in Whitehall, London. This war memorial symbolizes the various jobs women undertook during the war.

 It makes for an unnerving sight when you chance upon it suddenly. Then you start to feel the futile tragedy that was the war and what it did to millions of lives.

16 December 2010

The Elephant Parade

This summer, walking down Central London you were sure to bump into brightly painted elephant sculptures. They were the cutest, brightest, most solemn looking creatures you ever saw.
The Elephant parade, dotted all over the city, was an art concept to raise  money for the endangered Asian elephant. It is believed to have raised over £4 million.
The elephants roamed the streets of London till the end of June.
We spotted these at Green Park.

12 December 2010

5-minute Cake in a Cup...a recipe

There are times when you need a quick-fix snack to give you that instant burst of energy...that's my excuse...and you don't have the patience to prepare something time consuming. Here's the ideal snack- a cake that cooks up in a jiffy...it literally takes five minutes from start to finish.
This recipe has been going around the net like crazy....especially great for for your kids to make. There are a few variations to the ingredients but I found this works the best for me.
You just have to try this....
Here's all it takes...
4 tbsp           flour
4 tbsp           sugar
3 tbsp           milk
3 tbsp           oil
2 tbsp           cocoa powder
1                   egg
1                  microwave proof mug
Here's what you do....
In the mug mix all the dry ingredients, namely flour, sugar, cocoa,  together.....
Add in the egg then the milk and oil and mix well.......
Zap it in the microwave on high power for 2 1/2- 3 minutes ) or till you see it rise and set....
Tip out onto a plate if you like or eat it straight from the mug. Add a dollop of cream or a scoop of ice-cream to dress it up and enjoy.

09 December 2010

Cheese-Tomato Bake...a recipe

This is a simple baked dish of bread croutons topped with sliced tomatoes and cheese with a distinct mustard flavour. Goes well as a side dish. The amount of cheese you add can be adjusted according to your taste. In the pictures here I just topped it with just a few cheese slices and used 3 eggs instead of just two.
Serves 4
4 cups                  croutons
2                           medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
225gms               natural swiss cheese, shredded, (about 2 cups)
                             (can use lesser cheese if required)   
2                           eggs
1 ½ cups              milk
½ tsp                    salt
½ tsp                    paprika
½ tsp                    mustard
Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C.
Arrange croutons in a 9” pie-dish.
Top them with slices of tomatoes. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese.
In a separate bowl, with a fork whisk the milk and eggs together with the condiments.   
Pour this mix over the cheese.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until puffy and browned on top.
Serve hot immediately.

05 December 2010

Paneer Korma..

A cardamom-flavoured vegetarian side dish that cooks up in a jiffy.

Recipe. (Serves 6.)
350 gms                      paneer/ cottage cheese, cubed
100 gms                      fresh cream
2                                 onions, grated
2                                 tomatoes, skinned and chopped fine
2                                 green cardamoms, powdered
1 tsp                           red chilli powder
1/4th tsp                     turmeric powder
3 tbsp                        desi ghee/ clarified butter
salt to taste, chopped green coriander.
Heat ghee and fry onions and cardamom for about 3-4 minutes. Do not brown the onions.
Cooking on low heat, add the tomatoes and cook them well. Again, do not let the mix brown.
Add the turmeric, chilli powder and salt to taste and fry well.
Add paneer pieces and cook  for a minute or two to incorporate the flavours.
Mix in the cream and garnish with the chopped coriander.
Serve hot with plain or tandoori roti .

04 December 2010

Homemade Salsa Dip

Try this home-made salsa dip with store-bought nachos/tortilla chips...
Most salsa recipes require no cooking hence making it important to consume it soon especially if not refrigerated, but this recipe increases the shelf life of the salsa through cooking and decreases the chances of contamination. The cooked tomatoes help to stabilize the mix.
Salsa Recipe...makes about 1 cup.
3                   tomatoes,
3 tsp              chillies in vinegar,
1                   small onion, choppped
1/2 tsp           red chilli powder
1                   capsicum
1/4th  tsp       ajwain seeds (carom seeds)
1 tbsp            vegetable oil
1 tsp              sugar
1/4 tsp           salt (or salt to taste)

Blanch and skin tomatoes.To blanch , boil a pan of water. Cut a small slit in the skin of the tomatoes and dip them in water for about 10 minutes. Remove and plunge into cold water. The skin can now be removed easily. Now chop up the tomatoes.
Pierce the capsicum with a fork and roast it over an open flame till the skin blackens. Let cool a little and peel off the skin. Chop it up fine.
Heat the oil, add the ajwain/carom seeds and after a few seconds add the onion and fry for half a minute.
Add all the other ingredients and fry for a further 3-4 minutes. (Can add salt, chilli powder and sugar according to taste)
Let cool and serve with tortilla chips.
Ajwain/Carom Seeds

03 December 2010

Tea Bag Holder...

I've been a follower of this brilliant blog, Lollychops, She is one seriously creative woman, with lots of ideas to share with everyone.
Using one of her tutorials which also features a printable template, I made this little teabag holder that you can pop in your bag to carry along. Or as in my case, make as a gift for someone....
You can find the tutorial here.

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