Year-end Wrap-Up: Top 10 lessons I learnt in 2012

Image courtesy: Jamie Oliver

1. I enjoy cooking! Not everyday cooking, but trying out new, interesting recipes that make people’s jaw drop in awe. 😉 This was a year when I tried some great new dishes, and  all of them turned out really well. So well, in fact, that it can serve as an alternate career! From yummy pastas to baked fish and roast chicken, I served it all on the table with elan.

2. I’ve got no head for finances, or rather, for tracking investments. I’ve let things slide too long, though. Next year, I’m going to work on changing that for sure.Continue reading

Recipe: Simple, 3 ingredient Nutella cupcakes

I’ve been doing quite a bit of cooking these days, shocking, I know! I guess it’s a sign of growing old or something, but I’m enjoying it. I still refuse to cook regular Indian meals – the thought of that continues to make me want to cry. There’s too many different things to be made, and it’s all just too boring. Besides, I’m not terribly fond of Indian food despite having grown up on it. I’d rather try new flavors and new cuisines – sailing onwards on uncharted territories!

Now that the dramatics are out of the way – let me tell you what’s been bubbling away in the kitchen. A lot of interesting pastas (none with white sauce though, I never did like those much), a couple of chicken dishes (including a chicken curry, which for me is exotic since it’s a traditional Muslim recipe and yummy), a few rice-based delicacies and some baking (which for a change has been turning out right!).

Nutella cupcakes

I used to bake as a kid, back when mommy was around to supervise and check that the temperature was right and the timing perfect. Left to my own devices,, my cakes have typically burnt on the top, sunk in the middle and crumbled to the touch, leaving me in a flood of tears! But I’ve had two wins now, and since I’m still a little surprised about just how well they have turned out, I will share with you a super simple 3 ingredient Nutella cupcake recipe. If I can do this to perfection, anyone can!

So, without further ado, here we go:

Simple, 3 ingredient Nutella cupcake recipe


1 small bottle of Nutella
1 large egg
5 tbsp maida (all-purpose flour)


1) Heat the oven to 150 degrees C. Line a 12-cup mini muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
2) Whisk Nutella and egg in a bowl until smooth and well blended. Add flour and continue to whisk until blended.
3) Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins (about 3/4 full).
4) Bake until a pick comes out with wet, gooey crumbs, about 16 minutes. Set on a rack to cool completely.

They’ll keep for up to 3 days at room temperature – if they last that long!


1) Microwave the Nutella for a minute; it will make it flowy and easier to mix.
2) I baked mine in a star shaped silicone muffin pan; no need to grease.
3) Push out the cupcakes after about 30 mins, else they’ll come out 3-4 tiny pieces – not good!


Easy nutella cupcake

Got any Nutella recipes of your own? Do share in the comments!

My favorite things…

My favorite things is back…after almost a year! I’m so excited to start this series once again. No fixed days or schedule, just a bunch of beautiful, drool-worthy things shared with you as the inspiration strikes.

With the summer sun blaring down on us here in New Delhi, all I have on my mind is ice-cold drinks and easy to cook food.

Nothing beats the heat like a nice, tall glass of ice cold latte. If you consume copious quantities of this refreshing drink, head on over to Pioneer Woman and find out how to make a ice latte concentrate that you can store in your fridge.

Heavy food during summer is a complete no-no, so why not try this yummy fruit salad (recipe by Jamie Oliver)

or try out these really interesting watermelon balsamic cubes (recipe by ShowFood Chef)

If it’s cake that you fancy, but can’t bear the thought of standing in a hot kitchen whisking and beating, try this super simple, totally yummy 1-Pan Fudge Cake (recipe by Ovenhaven)

And finally, if only some desert will do, try out this yummy No Bake Orange Cheesecake (recipe by Modern Gypsy)

What are your favorite summer recipes?

Here are a few more of my other favorite things.

Pasta in tomato sauce

A friend recently gave me some pork ravioli that she bought on her trip to Europe. Since the hubby doesn’t eat pork (something about not liking the thought of eating a pig), I decided to make it on Friday as the hubs was travelling, and it turned out SO good!



1 bowl uncooked pasta
4 tomatoes, diced
1 medium-sized onion, cut in thin long slices
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped fine
100 gm cottage cheese, cut in thin long strips.
2 tbsp olive oil
Herbs – thyme, parsley, oregano and basil
Salt to taste


First, fill a big pot with about ½ a litre of water, a pinch of salt and some oil. Bring it to a boil and put in the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a non-stick cooking pot, pour in the oil. Once it’s hot, throw in the garlic and sauté until light brown. Then add the onions and cook until translucent.


Add in the tomatoes and salt. Mix well.

Now add in the herbs. I generally sprinkle them in without measuring (one of the very few recipes where I don’t actually hyperventilate if I don’t have the exact measure), but I’d say about 1 tsp of each should be just right.


Turn the gas to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes, while you read a book or watch some TV, though you might want to check on it in about 10 minutes. In case the water has evaporated, add in some more, mix and cover.

After 20 minutes, the sauce should be ready. Tip in the pasta and the cottage cheese (keep the gas on low flame), mix well and cook until the pasta is heated through.




Bon Appétit!

Express Prawn Paella

The hubs is out for the week, which means I have some “me” time. This is also my favorite time to cook, strangely. For one, I can eat the food that I like and the hubs hates. I can also experiment with new recipes and dishes without the hubs turning up his nose at the result and saying it the look of a particular dish doesn’t match his “mental image” of what it would like! I mean, honestly, have you heard of a stranger excuse for not trying new dishes?

One of the dishes I made was a dish I love – and the hubs, of course, doesn’t – an express prawn paella.

This recipe uses a non-traditional method – the pressure cooker – to come up with a meal in a jiffy. It may not be as elaborate as other, more traditional paella recipes, but the result is yummy! So, without further ado, here’s how you make…

Express Prawn Paella
Serves: 2
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins


2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 large tomato, skinned and diced
1 cup rice
250 gm shrimp, peeled and devenined – I use the frozen variety
3 cups chicken broth
¼ tsp saffron
¼ tsp ground cumin
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1-2 lemons


1) Thaw prawns; squeeze some lime juice on them, mix, set aside

2) In a pressure cooker, sauté the onion and bell pepper until the onion is tender.

3) Add the tomato and cook for 5 mins.

4) Add the rice and sauté until translucent.

5) Pour in the broth, shrimp, saffron, cumin, pepper and salt. Squeeze juice of half a lemon. Stir.

6) Close the pressure cooker, bring to high pressure on medium heat, and cook for another 3 mins.

7) Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with lemon wedges and serve!


Tip: Make sure you actually squeeze some lemon over the rice – it really brings out the flavor and tastes.

Bon Appétit!

Also see:
Soul food: Prawn rice

Linking up with Foodie Wednesday at Daily Organized Chaos.

Wandering Wednesday #9: Christmas treats!

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

Danish Christmas tree

With Christmas just round the corner, I’m sure you’ve all got your trees up and your shopping done. Now, it’s time to think about the Christmas feast!

Christmas in India is incomplete without plum cake – I can eat huge quantities of it in a single sitting! This year, how about trying out this divine looking German plum cake – a new twist to an old tradition – or then try baking an Indian plum cake.

You could give your celebrations a French twist this year with this yummy bûche de Noël or Chocolate Yule Log cake.

With the weather outside growing colder, there’s nothing more delightful than a glass of warm mulled wine. I also found  a recipe for a chilled mulled wine – not sure if it’s for me, but you could certainly give it a try if you like!

With drinks and desert out of the way, it’s time to think about the main course!

How about this flavorful mustard and maple syrup glazed ham, or a fiery, Goan Pork Vindaloo served over boiled rice? If you’d rather take the roasted route, try out this Italian rosemary garlic roast turkey, or keep things simple, with this yummy Chicken with New Potatoes.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions and treats?

(Click to read older Wandering Wednesday posts)

Wandering Wednesday #5: What's cooking?


Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy looking for interesting recipes online (it’s another matter that I don’t cook too often, but hey, I can look!) so, I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes with you.

My all-time favorite soul food is prawn rice, a recipe I learnt from a Madhur Jaffrey cook book (I forget the name now). The husband, though, loves chinese sytle noodles, and I just came across a really simple recipe from The Local Cook for a chicken stir fry with noodles. Gotta try this out on the weekend!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I need to have exact proportions and measurements to get things right. Which is why I love Mom Food Project’s recipe for three different consistencies of white sauce. No more lumpy white sauce in my baked veggies, yay!

When it comes to all things sweet (and sinful) you can be sure that I’ll be at the head of the line! One of my favorite bread spreads is Nutella — it’s absolutely divine! But if you’re bored of just spreading it out on toast, try out this amazingly simple Nutella bread pudding by ovenhaven and get transported to Nutella heaven!  

Hope these recipes entice you to go into your kitchen and cook!

Got any favorite recipes you’d like to share? You know I’d love to see them, so drop me a line in the comments!

(Click to read older Wandering Wednesday posts)

Soul food:Prawn rice

I’ve been dreaming of prawns recently. (Don’t laugh, it’s true! You can dream of food!) Anyway, I ordered some stir fried rice with ginger garlic prawns the other day at work, but the craving didn’t go away — it got stronger! That’s when I realized I wasn’t craving just any ol’ prawn dish; I wanted me some prawn rice!

But, before I could even think of making some, I had to find fresh coriander. Seeing as it’s monsoon season here in India, that was going to be a hard task — it sure wasn’t available at the grocery store near my house! But I was on a quest. I mean, I was literally dreaming of prawns, remember? So I picked up my car and drove around to a few of the fancier grocery stores, and finally managed to get my paws on some coriander. Now, I was ready to get cooking!

Prawn rice is served as a main course, with some plain yogurt and onion as accompaniments. You can also substitute the prawn with any firm-fleshed fish like halibut or cod (directions for that are at the end of the recipe).

You’ll need:

1 packet frozen prawns
1 cup finely chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon
1 medium sized onion, peeled, cut into fine rounds and halved
1 fresh green chili, finely sliced (optional)
4 tbsp oil
250 gram long-grain rice (you can also use short-grain rice)


In a bowl, mix 1 tbsp of warm water, coriander leaves, green chilies, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala, and 1 tsp salt.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan, put in the contents of the bowl and stir on high for about 2-3 minutes, until the fresh green color changes to a darker green. Tip in the prawns and fry them with the spices on medium heat for about 4 mins.

Turn off the heat and fish out the prawns with a fork, transferring into a tightly covered dish; it will continue to cook a bit in its own steam.

Pour 275 ml of warm water into the pan and scrape up the spices stuck to the bottom and sides of the pan. Simmer for about half a minute.

In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the remaining oil and fry the onions until the edges brown. Then add in the rice and stir around for about 30 sec. Pour in 360 ml of water, the contents from the pan and 1 tsp of salt. Stir and bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to very low.

Check in about 5-7 mins. Once the rice is almost done, add in the prawns, stir, cover and cook for another few minutes until the rice is cooked through.
(ps: that isn’t the best snap; it’s a little blurred – sorry! I was trying to click the picture covertly; didn’t want to dear husband to catch me at it, he’d think I was losing my marbles! ;-))

If you want to substitute the prawn with fish, you’ll need 340 gm of cod or halibut (or any other firm-flesh fish) steaks or fillets. Make sure they are at least 1-2 cm thick. Cut the fillets into bite-size strips, at least 4-5 cm long and about 2.5 cm wide. Follow the preceding recipe.

Serve with plain yogurt and chopped onion with a dash of lemon.


The perfect comfort food – 5 min chocolate mug cake

I recently came across a recipe for a Five-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake, and I just knew that I had to try it. So today, when I was craving some comfort food but wasn’t in a position to cook ’cause I’m not feeling well, I thought this cake would be perfect.

Chocolate mug cakeI have to admit, it took me a bit more than 5 minutes – 15 maybe? I didn’t time it, but then, I’m a pretty slow cook.

Anyway, I did tweak the recipe a bit and I wasn’t sure of some of the measurements, but the cake did turn out pretty darn good!

Here’s the recipe (from ovenhaven )

50g dark chocolate – I threw in 2 9.5gm bars of Dairy Milk, some bitter German chocolate and 4 squares of Giraldini dark chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon – I used 1 heaped tsp of Fabindia’s cinnamon sugar; next time I’ll keep it level
3 tablespoons sugar – I used 2.5, but next time I’ll probably use just 1 ’cause I like my cake to be a bit on the bitter side
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk

Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler. Set aside to cool.

Add flour, ground cinnamon and sugar to a small mixing bowl, and mix well.

Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and mix well. Add the melted chocolate and mix again.

Pour the mixture into a large microwavable coffee mug.

(Since I wasn’t sure if I had got the quantity of chocolate correct, I threw in a few blocks of dark chocolate into the mug and gave it a quick stir before popping the mug into the microwave.)

Microwave for 2 minutes on medium, 1 minute on high. It should be cooked (skewer test comes out with moist crumbs), but still a lil moist. Remember, it will continue to cook while standing.

Allow to cool a little and dig in!!

The cake came out quite moist, with pools of melted chocolate in between. Next time, though, I’ll probably reduce the amount of cinnamon sugar I used.

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Break free

That special pleasure she had felt in watching him eat the food she had prepared—she thought, lying still, her eyes closed, her mind moving, like time, through some realm of veiled slowness—it had been the pleasure of knowing that she had provided him with a sensual enjoyment, that one form of his body’s satisfaction had come from her.
. . . There is reason, she thought, why a woman would wish to cook for a man . . . oh, not as a duty, not as a chronic career, only as a rare and special rite in symbol of . . . but what have they made of it, the preachers of woman’s duty? . . . The castrated performance of a sickening drudgery was held to be a woman’s proper virtue—while that which gave it meaning and sanction was held as a shameful sin . . .

The above paragraph from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged holds powerful meaning and a strange resonance for me. I have always viewed cooking as something I do when I feel like doing it—something special and sacred for the one I love. It has always been a pleasure to cook—on special occasions, when I’m feeling particularly in tune with my significant other, as a gesture of my love. And that is just what I would have preferred to keep it. But thanks to something that someone said to him when he was depressed, we ended up having a huge fight about a year back, and now, it has become drudgery for me. So much so, after treating the whole thing as a challenge, I have now reached the stage when I prefer staying out of the house until late, so I can go home and say I’m too tired to even bear the thought of cooking. The very thought of having to cook as a “have-to-do-thing” fills me with dread….makes me want to bolt. Food has never been a big issue for me. I’m happy eating almost anything. I can get by just fine on soup and toast, as I can on a full Indian meal. But Abid is the opposite. And striking a balance between our different needs is becoming increasingly challenging.