Sunday, October 08, 2006


A friend of mine S, had her baby shower last month, and so I decided to bake her a special cake for her special day!
However, as soon as I accepted the invite with a response saying, “I am so there and will bring cake”, I panicked!! I had never baked a “real” cake before. Sure there have been experiments with some upside down pineapple cakes, and some scary looking Halloween cakes, where am sure you could guess at this point which part of it was scary ;)

But as this friend is one of the nicest people I know, I was determined to rise to the occasion. No pun intended {-)
Well, finally the cake did get made. I definitely cheated a bit by using some instant karma err mix. I found this super simple recipe in the book “The Magic of Microwave Cookbook”. My favorite part of the book is a 1977 hand written message from a mother who apparently gifted this book to her daughter. It goes something like this “Forget what you ever knew about cooking. Relax, and have fun! Love always – Mother”. Sound advice indeed!

Chocolate Pudding Cake Recipe
For the Cake:
1 package chocolate pudding
1 package (9 ounces) chocolate cake mix (I used moist cake mix)

Prepare pudding according to package directions. Spray the baking dish (12X8 inch) with cooking butter/oil spray. Pour pudding in a baking dish. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour over pudding. Microwave 10 minutes on High, or until a wooden pick inserted in the cake center comes out clean. Once cooled, remove from the baking dish and cover with chocolate frosting.
You can purchase a chocolate frosting package, or prepare it yourself. I also added a little drizzle of cream mixed with sugar syrup on the top to add some color.

For the Chocolate Frosting:
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons light cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)
2 to 21/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Combine chocolate and water in a bowl. Microwave 30 seconds on high, or until chocolate melts. Stir until smooth. Mix in butter, cream, and vanilla essence. Beat in sugar until frosting reaches a desired consistency (enough to be able to spread over the cake).

Now the moment of truth: I started out with the ambitious idea of preparing this spectacular cake, which Keiko created. Since my cake wasn’t even close to what she whipped up, I purchased a cake from Trader Joe’s to accompany my chocolate pudding cake (as a backup ;), and topped it with white chocolate shavings and fresh organic roses. All in all the cake episode ended well, with the cake I prepared tasting good, and the cake I purchased and decorated at home, looking great!!

Chocolate Cake from Trader Joe's (decorated at home)

Friday, July 21, 2006


Given the intense heat wave hitting California this week, I decided to try out fellow blogger Ashwini's chilled cucumber soup recipe.

The soup was very simple to prepare, and was thoroughly enjoyed by R and me in our lush green Japanese Zen garden. We could not have found a better way to cool off!!

I loved the light green color and the creamy yet crunchy texture of the soup. I am usually not a huge fan of cold soups, as soups to me conjure up images of warming up a cold evening! However, this soup is definitely a keeper with its ability to beat any heat wave! It is also ideal as a palate cleanser as a start to a multi-course meal.

I made some minor modifications to the recipe based on what was available in my kitchen. Also added some crunchy garnishings like a fried masala chili & fryums. The spice and crunchiness of the garnish added that extra zing to this very refreshing soup.

Cucumber Soup Recipe
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1 spring onion chopped (the small white onion part only)
1 clove garlic
1 green chili chopped
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp or more sour cream
3-4 mint leaves
1 tsp fresh dill
salt and pepper according to taste
For the Garnish
Fryums (available in Indian grocery stores)
Yoghurt marinated chilli (available in Indian grocery stores)
1 mint leaf

1. Add salt, pepper, garlic and chilies to the diced cucumber and onion. Marinate for 20 minutes.
2. Drain excess water into another container and keep it aside.
3. Put all the marinated cucumber and onions into a blender. Add yogurt, dill and mint and blend until smooth. Add the drained water if soup is too thick.
4. Add salt and pepper if needed
5. Pour into inidividual serving bowls and cool in the refigerator for 2 hours.
6. Fry the yoghurt chili, and fryums.
7. Just before serving, stir in the sour cream and garnish with the fryums and fried chili. You can altertaively garnish the soup with a sprig of dill or the spring onion.

Friday, July 14, 2006


The inspiration of this recipe comes from a visit to Chaat Paradise in Mountain View.

This was the 1st time I had a "healthy" (or atleast a perception of it being healthy :) version of the famous Bhel. Bhel, is one of the essential street foods of Maharashtra. Beaches and waterfronts of Bombay are lined with vendors competing with each other to sell Bhel puri to evening and weekend strollers. There is probably not a single person in Bombay who has not savored this super yummy snack at some point of time or the other.

Bhel literally translated means a mixture of stuff, and that’s exactly what it is! It’s a mixture of puffed rice, spicy farsan/sev, raw onions, tomatoes, green chilies, potatoes, mint and tamarind chutney, all brought together to pack a punch of spice and amazing flavor!

Sprout Bhel Recipe
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the Dry Mix
1 small packet of Puffed rice
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1 cup tomato, finely chopped
1 cup coriander, finely chopped
3 green chilies chopped into tiny pieces
¼ cup sliced raw mango
1 packet of Bhel mix/Farsan (available in Indian grocery stores)
3 tsp thin sev
For the Sprouts
1 cup moon sprouts (available in Indian grocery stores). Alternatively, you can soak some whole moong daal overnight in warm water and let hang tied up in a cotton cloth for a day.
1 tsp dhania-jeera powder
1 tsp red chili powder
¼ tsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste
Mint Chutney
I bought this from the Indian grocery store. Alternatively, you could find the recipe here:
Tamarind-Date Chutney
I bought this from the Indian grocery store. But you can find the recipe here:

1. Mix the sprouts, salt, lemon juice, dhania-jeera powder and garam masala in a microwaveable bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of water and cook for 2 minutes in the microwave. Remove and let cool.
2. In a separate deep bottomed bowl, mix all the dry mix ingredients for the bhel, the mint and tamnarind-date chutney, and the sprouts mix.
3. Mix well
4. Garnish with thin sev and green chillies and serve immediately

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Have been meaning to start my blog about the joys of cooking for a long time now, however just didn't get around to it! We moved into our new home in Mountain View in Northern Calif a few weeks ago, where one look at the kitchen had me completely inspired!!

The new kitchen has a bright happy look, where it opens into a lush backyard replete with a Japanese garden created by the previous owners. As you can imagine, we can't thank them enough!!

Hope you guys enjoy the recipes coming out of this fresh new kitchen as much as I do creating them !!!