Thursday, December 13, 2012

A walk through the "Weihnachtsmarkt" in Frankfurt




The holiday season is here in full swing. I love this time of the year - streets adorned with lights and decorations, homes decorated with Christmas trees, sparkling lights, lanterns and ribbons, city covered with a white blanket of pure snow, children playing around throwing snow balls at each other...



Walking through the annual Christmas Market at my city and watching all this makes my heart swell with joy!



As the days get darker and shorter, all we need is something to compensate for the gloomy weather and to cheer us up. That is when these sparkling Christmas Markets start appearing all across the country. These markets open in the last week of November and close a week before Christmas. I have always wanted to post pictures of the market at my city on this blog and this time I finally made it.



The market is huge and there are so many beautiful things to capture but given the crowd and cold freezing weather which made me want to put my hands into my jacket pocket at every opportunity, what I have here is not that elaborate. Come with me as I show you around the Weihnachtsmarkt at the historic Römerberg in Frankfurt.





These charming markets have a large varieties of stalls selling traditional delicacies, regional specialties, special handicrafts and of course the famous Glühwein. Each year hundreds of make-shift stalls are set up and almost every stall keeper is a regular. We see them at the same spot with the same stall every year. Each year we look forward to go to the Christmas Market and stuff ourselves with our favorite foods. This year was the same.






We walk around the market inhaling the smells of the hot wine, the roasted chestnuts, the fresh french fries, the freshly baked flammkuchen, the chocolate-candied fruits, Crepes baking on the pan or the fresh Pretzels right out of the oven. As we absorbed the sights and inhaled the smells, it was hard not to stop everywhere to catch a bite of our favorite foods. And of course a trip to the Christmas Market is not complete without a warm mug of Glühwein, which is mulled wine with spices and is perfect for warming chilly fingers on cold frosty winter nights. This is traditionally made in large iron containers. I leave you all with these pictures untill I post here again. Wishing you all happy holidays!



















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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chane Jaisalmer Ke

Chane Jaisalmer Ke


Growing up in India, we had different kinds of curries and fried vegetables with rice or Indian breads for lunch and dinner. Even to this day, a nice serving of curry rich with spices along with some rice is my comfort food! Last week saw me ill and restricted to home. I really craved for comfort food to lift my spirits and get me going.

I also wanted to use the black chickpeas in my pantry and wanted to try something new and exciting. This dish was an answer to all my needs!

Chane Jaisalmer Ke


It was a recipe that I first got from here, but over time I have adapted it a lot. This curry with black chickpeas simmered in a spiced yogurt gravy belongs to the famous Marwari cuisine from Rajasthan.

Ingredients:

1 cup Black Chickpeas (Kala Channa)
2 tbsp Ghee or oil
1 onion chopped finely
2-3 green chillies slit lengthwise
2 Green Cardamoms + 1 bay leaf + 1 inch piece Cinnamon
1 tsp Cumin seeds
¼ tsp Asafoetida
1 onion chopped
2 tbsp gram flour / Besan
½ tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Chilli powder
2 tsp Chaat Masala powder
1 ½ cups beaten Yoghurt
Salt to taste
Few coriander leaves for garnishing

Recipe:

Soak the black channa in water for 6-8 hours or overnight. Drain and pressure cook till well cooked. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Place the cooked chickpeas in a bowl and ligthly mash them.

In a mixing bowl, blend the yoghurt, besan, turmeric, chilli powder, chaat masala and salt. Make a smooth paste without lumps. Add half cup of the reserved liquid and mix. Set aside.

Heat ghee in a pan. Add aesafoitida, cumin seeds, cardamoms, cinnamon and bay leaf. When the cumin begins to sizzle, add the chopped onions and chopped green chillies. Saute till onions are soft and transparent.

Add the yogurt mixture and mix well. Add enough water to get the consistency of you choice. Add the boiled chickpeas. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and let simmer for a few minutes.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

Cooking time: 45 mins
Serves: 3-4


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Monday, January 23, 2012

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies


Hope all of you had a great start in the new year! We had a great start too but lot of things kept me away from the blog and blogosphere. Life is moving at a slow pace thanks to winter. There is hardly any sunlight for pictures these days, and hence no blogging. My days revolves around Work-> Home and nothing else. No long evening walks by the river, no late night movie sessions, no experimenting with new recipes and absolutely no clicking pictures of food cooked. Winter can be really boring sometimes. All I have been doing is and sleep!

Yesterday I baked these gorgeous and simple brownies and even managed to click some shots by the window making best use of the light available. I could not click many shots but thought of posting something here before the blog is forgotten completely!

Chocolate Brownies


The brownies tasted great and more than anything were so easy to put together. We finished them in 2 days and now the husband is asking for more. That explains how they tasted!

Ingredients:

3/4 All-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (brown or white)
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Handful of chopped walnuts
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line the baking tray.

In a small bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together

In a mixing bowl, mix the butter, vanilla extract and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs

Fold in the flour-cocoa powder mixture and chopped nuts

Pour it into the pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes. Test with a skewer and make sure it is done. If still under baked, pop back into the oven for a couple more minutes.

Allow to cool in the tray. Cut into squares, dust with powdered sugar and serve!

Preparation time: 10 mins
Baking time: 20 - 25 mins
Yields: 16 squares.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Almond Olive Oil Cake

Almond Olive Oil Cake


I have been bitten by the baking bug recently. I baked for a party, for colleagues, for friends and then sometimes just to test a recipe! Baking for me has become a therapeutic pastime. It is amazing to mix a few ingredients in a particular order, place it in the oven and watch the cake rising in the oven. Oh, the joy it brings! It makes me forget my worries and let go of things. Strange but true!

Almond Olive Oil Cake


I have been looking for simple cake recipes and when I found this recipe for Almond cake, I knew I had to try it. The cake was incredible! It may have been the best cake I have ever made. I could have eaten all of it, seriously! It had the perfect texture, the right amount of sweetness and light almond flavor with subtle hints of olive oil and orange flavors.

Almond Olive Oil Cake - Torta di Mandorla


All the required ingredients were readily available at home, so I did not even have to go out to the supermarket. How cool is that! The original recipe calls for orange juice, I pureed a fresh orange and the result was awesome.


Almond Olive Oil Cake Recipe adapted from serious eats
Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond powder (almond flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cooking salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 orange chopped and pureed in a blender (or 1/2 cup fresh orange juice)
3-4 tablespoons flaked almonds for sprinkling
some icing sugar for dusting

Recipe:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt to thoroughly combine them and set aside.

Place the eggs, sugar and olive oil in a large mixing bowl, then beat with an electric mixer or whisk. Mix in the extracts and the zest followed by orange juice.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and beat until they are thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake onto a wire rack and let cool. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Time required: 60 minutes
Yields: One 9" cake


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bulgur Stuffed Bell Peppers

Bulgur stuffed capsicums


Bulgur is a quick cooking form of wheat and a middle-eastern staple. It is slowly becoming a staple at my home now. I love the fact that it is easy to cook and nutritious too. Easy, simple and non time-consuming are the key words here! It not only requires less cooking time but also is low on calories. Now, who in the right mind would say no to that? I usually cook it with some vegetables to make a complete one-pot meal. Today I have used it to stuff some colorful bell peppers.

Bulgur stuffed capsicums


There are different varieties of Bulgur available. I buy mine at the local Turkish stores and they have so many varieties. My personal favorite is the köftelik Bulgur , Turkish name for fine form of bulgur and goes very well in place of rice.

Bulgur stuffed capsicums


I have been meaning to post this recipe for oven baked stuffed bell peppers for a very long time. I have made it several times for my guests and they have all loved it. Served as an appetizer or a side dish, they sure are a treat to your eyes! Don't they look appetizing? Although I normally use a rice stuffing, I tried to recreate a dish I ate at a Greek restaurant recently.


Bulgur stuffed capsicums


Ingredients:

3 large bell peppers
1 cup Bulgur
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion chopped finely
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
Handful of finely chopped cilantro and basil
2 tbsp olive oil

Recipe:

Chop the top off the bell peppers. Scoop out and discard the seeds and pith.

In a large pot of boiling water, parboil the bell peppers till slightly tender (about 2-3 mins). Remove and dry on a kitchen towel.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil. Add the chopped onions and stir till translucent. Now add 1 cup of water, cover and bring to a boil.

When water starts boiling, add the bulgur and salt. Give it a good stir, remove the skillet from heat, add the pumpkin seeds, season generously with pepper. Mix well.

Stir in the chopped fresh cilantro and basil.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Using a spoon, stuff the bell peppers with this mixture. Brush the outside of the bell peppers with olive oil and place them in a baking dish.

Cover the tops with the the chopped off caps. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour or till the peppers have softened.

Serve it as an appetizer as a side dish with some fresh bread.

Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour
Yields: 3 large stuffed peppers


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