Monday, November 17, 2014

Things I've Been Learning, Making, Doing from the Internet

Like most other people, I used to call them pomegranate seeds. Only when I started blogging did I learn they were called arils. I knew a lot about food and ingredients but when I discovered blogs, I found myself telling bloggers 'I never knew you could do that' or 'Oh, I do it this way, I haven't tried it your way'. Then one day someone told me something which gave me the impression that to even say, conversationally, 'Oh, but doesn't X ingredient go into it, usually?' could be seen as criticism so I stopped saying it in some blogs. I thought it was just conversation, I know I wouldn't be affected by a comment like that. What do you think?

But I digress. One of the few things I did in my baking-only days were brownies. Like I've mentioned earlier, I was quite famous in my family for them. I had only one recipe - from a cookbook for a gadget called the Twink Inframatic Cuisinette which my mother had bought years earlier. It was an all-in-one, all you had to do was change the plates as required and you could turn out waffles, sandwiches, brownies, cakes, and quite a lot of other stuff in the little baking tray that came with it.

Recently, I went to lunch with a friend, we decided it would be a potluck and I would take a salad and dessert. I decided on brownies and wanted a recipe that would help me finish the dark chocolate and drinking chocolate I had at home. I came across BBC Good Food's recipe for the 'best brownies ever' and replaced the cocoa with drinking chocolate and golden caster sugar with ordinary caster sugar. I must have put it in a smaller pan than recommended because only the top baked and the bottom didn't. Even when I baked it again for 10 more minutes. It stayed gooey, so I just put a lid on it and went to bed, hoping it would somehow solidify by morning. (It didn't, of course.) But it was terribly tasty.

It had to be. That recipe seems to be written with so much love and enjoyment it has to work. Well, I took some of it to lunch and to work, and it was a big hit. I put the rest in the fridge. The greatest surprise was the evening - I took it out and it had solidified quite a bit. Unexpectedly, my kid brother, who lives in another city, visited and when he tasted some, he raised his eyebrows appreciatively and said it was great. He had it with all the meals he had. He didn't make fun of my cooking, as he was wont to, and lapped up every morsel. To look at him, the thought of mocking me didn't even cross his mind. He's grown up, I thought, and my brownie is really, really good! He even had it for brunch. Here's a picture which I took during the making of it, I don't have any of the finished product.

Here's a recipe for flourless brownies.

 One of the other things that I used to try my hand at was apple pie or strudel. The pastry would fail me but the fruit mixture would come out fine. Later, I discovered an apple crumble. Last week, I had one lone apple sitting in my fruit bowl and I thought I'd make a quick dessert if the sweet craving hit me at night. Well, it did and I put it together quite easily.

I remembered something from those days about rubbing the flour into the cold and hard cubes of butter such that it resembles bread crumbs and sprinkling it over the apple. I even remembered reading that you only had to let your fingertips do the work otherwise it would become too warm and not work out. So I did that. I used about 4-5 tsps of flour with the little butter that I cut from a hunk of it so I can't tell you how much it was. I started with the butter and 1 tsp of flour and went up to 5 tsps. I consulted the Internet to check the oven temperature and confirm I was on the right track with the rest of the recipe. Cut the apple into pieces, with the skin, toss a tablespoon of sugar into it, a teaspoon of flour and a teaspoon of cinnamon powder. Mix. Top it with the flour-butter mix and pop it in the oven for 25 minutes at about 180 C.

Months ago, I chanced on something called Dhuska, a recipe from Jharkhand and Bihar, which was described as a kind of puri, eaten with chickpea curry. I tried it but I have to say it came out nothing like a puri and everything like a pakoda, and I didn't think the curry suited it either. It was interesting enough on its own. Pickle made a nice accompaniment, though!

Then, those of us - and I'm at the top of the queue, I'm sure - who have been agonising about dwindling readership on our blogs, can read this post for a fresh look and well-articulated reasons on why we keep blogging. The comments are equally interesting.


  1. A long, long time back, I tried the Gujju dal-dhokli after seeing gorgeous pictures and reading prople rave about them. The pictures came out so pretty (yellow+green looks pretty, always!) but no one in the family was taken in by the dal-boiled-roti at all. I still call the arils pomegranate seeds! Some of us just never learn!

    But through all these mistrials, look at the gems! You have to share your brownie-recipe! Was that cocoa/drinking chocolate the only substitution you made or did you alter the fat too?

    1. Anita, no, I didn't alter the fat. I did use ordinary caster sugar and not golden caster sugar, like I said.
      I still feel self-conscious when I say arils.

    2. I've made dal dhokli, I quite liked it but thought it was too thick.

  2. I still do say things like I thought x ingredient went into this too......didn't realize I was being politically incorrect. Dwindling readership and comments that I can count on one hand - story of my blog :)

  3. Oh, I got two or three indications of that, actually, that it was politically incorrect, through conversations with others and directly, once - once when I said something like that, a blogger told me, okay, next time I'll make it like that for you. They said it very nicely but I had the feeling they were at least humouring me if not telling me to stay off. {Shrug}

  4. great dishes can u send the recipe of the dishes to me

  5. This looks very yummy and tasty.

  6. Awesome dish. Loved the snaps looks yummy. Thank u for the ideas. Keep posting with lots more.

  7. I have enjoyed reading your post.