Friday, January 30, 2009


Every Indian pantry has a variety of spices. Each food preparation requires the right mix of it.
Here comes the funny part. Curry powder is thought to be a staple in Indian households. But, I have never heard of a particular masala called "curry powder" in India. Have you?........... It is a big big misconception foreigners have.

There are 2 things which help a foreigner strike up a conversation with an Indian. One, the weather. Two, curry.

I have been asked many a time:
"Do you know how to make curry?"
I blankly stare back " what curry?"
With a wierd look and shrug they say " Indian curry" .
At that point, I just start my big lecture about the whole curry story, by the end of which those poor, harmless, conversation-starters are bored to death:) but some have left enlightened , I hope. 0:).
Sure, I never want anyone to ask me a curry question again.

I, first, heard of the "curry powder" when I was in Europe. Now, what is the story behind curry powder? I don't know if it is a myth , but I have heard that the famous curry powder was a spice mix developed by the British, who wanted to take home the taste of Indian food. Ok. That's accepted, but because the British developed that in India, does not mean that it is a staple in Indian households.

But, it is a fact that to this day, Indian food is very popular in Britain and is fast catching-on accross the globe.

Things are made easier now-a-days with grocery shops retailing readymade spice mixes. For those of you who have not got into that trend as yet, here are the directions and ingredients to make some of the most important spice mixes which are hot favorites everywhere- Curry powder, Tandoori masala, Pepper masala, Pav bhaji masala and Garam masala.

Curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds,toasted
  • 1 tablespoons cardamom seeds,
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds, toasted
  • 1/8 cup ground turmeric powder
  • 1-1/2 tbspns fenugreek seeds(methi seeds)
  • 1 tbpsn poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tbspn dry ginger powder
  • 1/2 tspn nutmeg powder
  • 1 tspn cayenne


Place all ingredients in a spice grinder and grind. Transfer to a container with an airtight lid. Shake well . Store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.

Garam masala:

  • 5 whole cardamom pods
  • 1 long cinnamon stick -2 inches
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tspn nutmeg powder
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 piece star anise
  • 1 long bay leaf


Dry roast all the above spices lightly on low-flame for about 2 mins. Now powder them in a clean, dry spice grinder until smooth. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Tandoori Masala

  • 4 tspns ground coriander powder
  • 3 tspns ground cumin powder
  • 4 tspns garlic powder
  • 4 tspns paprika powder
  • 3 tspn ground ginger powder
  • 3 tbspns garam masala
  • 1 tspn dried mint
  • 1 tspn chilli powder

Mix all together and store.
Cumin powder and coriander powder must be freshly ground. Store in an airtight container.

Pepper masala:
  • Whole peppercorns - 2 tbsp
  • Coriander Seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Cloves - 2
  • Cinnamon - 2-inch stick
  • Cardamom - 2 pods
  • Fennel Seeds - 1/2 tspn


Dry roast and cool completely. Grind to a smooth powder. Store in an airtight container.

Pav bhaji masala

  • 10 red chillies
  • 3 tbspns coriander seeds,
  • 3 tbspns cumin seeds,
  • 2 tspns black pepper,
  • 1-1/2 -inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 tspns clove,
  • 1 tspn cardamom seeds
  • 1-1/2 tspns dry mango powder
  • 1 tspn fennel seeds
  • 1 tbspn turmeric powder.


Roast all the ingredients and cool completely. Grind in a spice grinder and store in an air-tight container.

Luv 'n' luc'

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Flaunt it - Rasmalai

The rasgullas, I had made, vanished in jiffy. Did you guess the culprit? Clue- It wasn't me.
Rasmalai is nothing, but, rasgullas soaked in reduced, mildly sweetend saffron milk.So, obviously, you must have guessed that my second post will, defintely, be rasmalai. And, yes, you're absolutely right.

It's not that I had rasgullas left over from what I had made earlier. But, not wanting to prepare the same thing a second time, I had to hide a few, secretly away, from the mithai-searching eyes of my sweet-toothed husband. With the rasgullas, safe and sound in tupperware, in the vegetable draw of my refrigerator,( which I have found he never looks into), I slept peacefully. Next day, work's made easy. I had to make only the ras and pop-in the malai(rasgullas)....Guess what? I got the biggest compliment from hubby dear. He said it tasted as good as the authentic mithai-shop rasmalai. Having heard it from his mouth( since he is hard to please) I am on cloud nine.

Here is a chance for all of you to flaunt to your friends and family too. Work your magic. Here we go....
Ingredients :

For ras:(the sweet milk)
  • Whole milk - 4 cups
  • Saffron- few strands
  • Cardamom powder - 1/4 tspn
  • Almonds and pistachios (chopped)- 2 tbspns
  • Sugar - to taste

For malai:


  • In a non-stick pan, heat milk and make sure that it's done on a low flame to prevent it from boiling over.
  • Add saffron to the milk.
  • Stir regularly, to prevent milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
  • Simmer milk, till the 4 cups reduce to 2 cups.(you will notice a lot of milk cream has accumulated in the saffron milk. This adds a good texture to the ras)
  • When that happens add sugar, as per taste, to the milk ( I usually add 5-6 tablespoons). Stir and let the sugar dissolve.Add cardamon powder.
  • Now take the rasgullas and gently squeeze out some of the water(sugar syrup) in it.(don't squeeze it out till it is dry. squeeze out approximately 2/3 of the liquid in it.It should have a little syrup in it)
  • Add these rasgullas to the sweetened saffron milk.Let it soak on a low flame for 2-3 mins.
  • Turn off flame.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
  • Now, transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped nuts (I had only almonds in my pantry).
Luv 'n' luc'

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blog warming - Spongy Rasgulla

My excitement is high, as this is my first recipe post and that too on my own blog. I feel like a new mom. Just want to celebrate. In India, every special occasion serves sweets. So, on this special day of my BLOG-WARMING(I think I coined this word) I am offering you a delicious, mouthwatering and spongy mithai......................a recipe , ofcourse, mercilessly tempting you to make your own.
Rasgullas, they say, were born in Orissa and then gradually made it's way into west Bengal. The Bengalis may want to hurl something at me right now, because they believe otherwise. Let us not be a part of that arguement...............I maintain a neutral stand and right now, let's just celebrate and enjoy this delightful treat.
By the way...........this recipe is not as hard as it looks. This took me hardly 25 minutes. Trust me. If I can, you can too.
This snap is participating in the click contest for feb 2009

Ingredients:(makes 12-14)
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tbspns of lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4-1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tspn cardamom powder
Directions: (for paneer)
  • Boil the milk in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, making sure not to burn milk.
  • As the milk comes to a boil, add the lemon juice gradually and stir.
  • When the milk solids separate from the whey, turn off the heat and drain using a strainer lined with cheesecloth.The milk solids left on the cloth is called paneer.
  • Rinse the paneer under cold water, and squeeze well.(This process takes out the lemon flavor from the paneer)
  • Squeeze out all the water from the paneer. (To check if the paneer has reached the right consistency, take a little piece of paneer on your palm and rub with your thumb for 30-40 secs. After rubbing the paneer , you should be able to make a firm but smooth ball off it. If you cannot form balls, it means you will have to squeeze out more water from the paneer)
  • Once the paneer is drained, put it in the food processor and run it for about 15-20 secs. ( you will notice the paneer will first crumble and break into small pieces in the processor and then it slowly forms one big lump just like chapathi dough)
  • As an alternative to using the food processor, you can knead the paneer with your hands. Place paneer on a dry, clean surface and knead it for 9-10 minutes until it comes to a smooth and pliable dough consistency. This takes a longer time. That's why I use the mixie. Knead the paneer well as you would do with chappati dough ( if the paneer is too crumbly, add a 1/8 teaspoon of water.)
Directions: (for rasgullas)
  • Divide the dough into 12-14 equal parts and roll them into round balls or pat them into flat discs(like I have done) with the palms of your hands. ( the balls/discs should be smooth and they should not have cracks, otherwise they will break when they are cooked.)
  • Combine sugar, water and cardamom in a pressure cooker on medium high heat and bring to a boil.
  • When the sugar dissolves, add the paneer balls and close the pressure cooker.(Make sure the pressure cooker is large enough to accommodate the finished Rasgullas, as they will double in size while cooking and soaking in the syrup)
  • Turn the stove heat to high.
  • If you have made paneer balls then after one whistle, reduce heat to low and cook for about 2 additional minutes. Then turn off heat. If you have made paneer discs, then after one whistle, turn off heat (wait atleast 7-8 mins. and let the pressure be released completely before you open the pressure cooker.)
  • When the rasgullas are done they will be spongy. (There will be alot of dilute syrup left in the pan) Don't worry. Transfer only the rasgullas, carefully, to another dish. Then put the syrup, left in the pan, on low-heat and simmer it for 10-15 mins till you get a thicker syrup. Then return the rasgullas to this syrup and refrigerate it.
  • Serve Rasgullas chilled.
Luv 'n' Luc'


Saffron Apron - this blog is an attempt to highlight good food and the process of making it. Preparing good eats is an art and being able to savor and appreciate its flavors is a gift.Kitchen experiments virtually transit you across the globe and help bring the world to your table. Food is truly a universal experience and the most simple and uncomplicated form of comfort. So, ultimately, this blog is all about food, food and more food.

I'm blogging, purely, because of my insatiable thirst to learn more and secondly, to share my recipes and tips so that everyone can launch out and be confident to cook and bake, anytime. As I mentioned in my profile, my saffron apron accompanied me in my recipe trials and holds a place dear to my heart in helping me realise my passion for cooking and baking .

And about me...........I hail from south India. Though, a native of Kerala - God's own country , I was born and brought up in coimbatore(Tamil Nadu) , a place famed for its ideal climate and flourishing cotton industry.Now, I am living life to its fullest with my partner , Vinit. We lived in Germany for 3 years and are currently living in the USA.
I love to travel and that lent a hand in introducing me to various cuisines. I have accumulated recipes of my favorite munches and would love to share them with you and it will be great to hear your feedback. It will help me hone my skills further.

The style of food preparations I'll be sharing through this blog would be a mixture of anything fantastic from around the world. From varied regional Indian cuisines,to chinese to Italian and mexican.Culinary treats from starters, to snacks to the main entrees to desserts. Have stacks of vegetarian recipes too.

My husband is my greatest critic and loves to critique my food. He is hard to please and sometimes gives me rave reviews, not wanting to sleep on the couch :) . Jokes apart, he lets me know when the outcome of my recipes are good and never hesitates to mention when they are bad and when they need to improve. Likewise, I respect your feedback and it is important to me. So, don't hesitate to opine.
Anything about cooking and baking goes as far as this blog is concerned. Once you attempt the recipes , beleive me, you will realise the amazing cook in you.You will hear plenty and plenty of appreciation and compliments.It will be to such an extent that you may have to wear an extra pair of ears to take it all in
:) .

The recipes I am parting are made simple and easy resulting in scrumptious, amazing and sophisticated outcomes.You can dissect and review them, henceforth, helping me progress. I encourage comments on my recipes. So opinions are welcome.

So all you foodies out there, come on and join the jing-bang pack and let's have a gala time. Hope this voyage is as rewarding for you as it is going to be for me .

Luv 'n' luc'


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