Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cocomango Laddu (Sweet Meatballs)

It's a tradition in most Indian festivals to make sweets. My mom always made the sweets at home because it was easy to monitor the taste. My mom and my brother had the sweet tooth when I was growing up. My dad and I would like the dish to be barely sweet so when she made the dishes she would usually reduce the sugar content so that we would at least eat some of it.

Today was Rakhsha Bandhan the festival where sisters tie Rakhi on their brothers wrists and pray for their longevity. The brothers are expected to protect and take care of their sisters. I had the kids perform this function in the evening after work and school. Since I hadn't prepared anything ahead of time, I resorted to my time tested recipe of quick Mango laddus ( sweet mango meatballs ).  These sweet meatballs are called 'laddus' in Hindi. They can be made of gram flour, semolina and other types of ground grains. I find that the coconut laddus are the fastest and easiest to make.            


1 cup grated dried (dessicated) coconut 
1/4 cup condensed milk
3 tbsp mango pulp
2 cardamoms pods
1 tbsp golden raisins

Above quantity yields about 20 small laddus.


Crush the cardamom pods and peel the shell. Grind the seeds into a powder. I have a small mortar and pestle made of stainless steel that I use for these type of small quantity grinding. Heat a saucepan on medium heat and roast the dried finely grated coconut. Keep stirring constantly to ensure even roasting. When the coconut starts to turn golden in about 4 - 5 minutes, add the condensed milk and continue stirring for about 5 more minutes. Add the mango pulp, the cardamom powder and the raisins and stir for 5 more minutes. By now the consistency is thick enough to make the stirring/mixing difficult.

Let the mixture cool in a plate. Grease your clean hands with clarified butter (ghee). Take a spoonful of the mango coconut mixture and roll it into a sphere. 

Cooking time : 15 minutes
Rolling time: 10 minutes
Total time : 25 minutes


  • Instead of rolling into laddus pour the cooked mixture in a flat dish with raised edges like a pie dish. Spread it evenly and press firmly. Let it set for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator then with a knife cut in diamond shapes to make coconut mango barfi.
  • You can also add a few strands of saffron for a richer flavor and deeper yellow color.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Super Easy Red (purple) Cabbage sabji

I like using red cabbage for a little variety and color to the dinner table. I had seen this cabbage used in salads before but wanted to see how it would taste cooked in Indian style with all the spices. My experiment turned out pretty tasty ( I can say that especially since hubby told MIL that it looks and tastes good ).

What you need: 

1/2 red cabbage chopped in long pieces

1/2 tsp rai (mustard seeds)
2 tsp urad dal
1/8 tsp haldi (turmeric pwd)
1/8 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds pwd
1/4 tsp green chilli paste or 1 green chilli finely chopped
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt (or as per your taste)

Wash the entire cabbage head before cutting. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. Once they start sputtering, add the urad dal. Stir. Once the dal starts turning shades of red, add methi powder, haldi and green chilli. Keep stirring as you add each ingredient. Turn the heat to medium low once green chilli enters the pan. Add the chopped cabbage and stir well till it is mixed with the spices. Then add the salt and stir / mix again. Cook uncovered for about 8-10 minutes stirring intermittently. 
If you cover the pan, the cabbage will turn out all mushy. The final consistently should be well cooked but yet crunchy. 

Serve hot with roti and dal or use as filling for a variation of spring dosa.

Prep time 5 min
Cook time ~ 10 min
Total time 15 min

Variation: Try adding curry leaves after the udad dal - it will give a richer flavour. I didn't have it on hand today so I skipped it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Super Yummy Super Easy Chocolate cake

I have taken PTO for the entire week before school reopens to spend fun time with the kids just chilling out. Yesterday was hubby's birthday. I decided to bake a cake. Though my interest in the kitchen has gone up dramatically, I still look for easy and simple ways to get the desired results. After searching on the internet, I decided to combine things from here and there to see if I could make a lip smacking cake. It had to be chocolate cake as 3 out of 4 members in my family love chocolate. ( Who cares what the birthday boy prefers? ;)  - anyway, it's too soon for me to try a Tiramisu ).  I ended up using the recipe on with minor modifications of my own.
The result was a yummylicious 2 tiered cake! Then I had go and try to apply the frosting and spoil the look.... I wish I had taken a picture of the cake before the frosting. A friend later told me that there are separate knives for applying frosting on cake.

Cake with whipped cream frosting


What you need:

For the Cake

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
1/2 cup milk 
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

For the Frosting

Heavy whipping cream 3 cups
1 tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp instant coffee pwd

How to do it:

Put all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix. I used my electric hand mixer for all the mixing and blending and whipping for this cake. Then add all the remaining ingredients except the water and mix / blend at low to medium speed until you get a smooth paste. Then add the boiling water and mix at high speed. This is to add air and fluff the mixture. Apparently the last step helps make the cake very light and fluffy.

Preheat the oven at 350°F. Pour the cake mixture in a prepared baking pan. The pans can be prepared by coating them lightly with butter or lining with butter paper. For making a 2 tiered cake, use springform pans in 2 sizes. Mine were 8" and 4" diameter. 
Bake for 35 minutes. Check the smaller cake after 25 minutes with a toothpick in the center. It can be removed for cooling while the bigger layer is still cooking. 

Once cooled. Cut off the top layer with a knife to level the cake and put the smaller cake on the bigger one. 

Then you can cover with frosting of your choice. I used whipped cream. Take chilled heavy whipping cream in a mixing bowl and whipped on medium speed until stiff. If you prefer add sugar to the whipping cream to sweeten it. I left it unsweetened. Cover your cake with the whipped cream. Add the cocoa pwd and coffee to part of the whipped cream and use it for the decoration. I yet have to practice this technique to get the pretty results I see in the recipe pictures.