Archive for December, 2007

Coffee Dried Currants Cake

Note: It’s snowing at The Yum Blog – those aren’t white dots but snow flakes.

If plum cakes can be cakes without plums then dried currants can be currants that have nothing to do with currants.

Dried currants as the Wikipedia article rattles, are tiny seedless intensely flavoured grapes from the island of Zante in Greece. Greece account for close to 90% of all the Zante grapes in the world, making it the largest producer and exporter. In fact the production of currants traditionally in Greece has been so large that once it even incited an economic crisis in late 19th century and early years of the 20th century. One of the oldest known raisins in the world, their current name derives from “Reysyns de Corauntz” or “Raisins of Corinth”.

I have never made a cake without chocolate or cocoa – so this is my first attempt. I dumped in ingredients with a rough estimate of what goes inside a cake and I was delighted with the results.



  • All Purpose Flour – 1 1/2 cups
  • Sugar – 1 cup
  • Butter – 1/2 cup
  • Coffee Decoction – 1/2 cup (coffee concentrate)
  • Dried Currants – 3/4 cup
  • Espresso Powder – 4 tbsp
  • Curd – 4 tbsp (adjust as per batter consistency)
  • Baking Powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Cooking Soda – 1/4 tsp


  1. Line and Grease a microwave safe square glass dish (8in to 9in in size). Leave some paper to hang from the sides.
  2. Soak the Dried Currants in Coffee Dicoction for 1 hour or so until the currants are plump.
  3. Powder the sugar. Take a large mixing bowl and cream the butter and sugar.
  4. Add the flour followed by the Espresso Powder. Mix well.
  5. Add the dried currants with the Coffee dicoction.
  6. In a small cup, mix the curd with baking powder and cooking soda. Add this to the batter in the mixing bowl and mix well.
  7. Check the consistency of the batter which should be thick but flowing. Add a couple of more tablespoons of curd or milk to adjust consistency if required.
  8. Transfer batter to the greased dish and microwave on high for 7 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake. Keep for an additional minute or so if the toothpick doesn’t come out clean.
  9. Remove from oven when done and wait for the cake to cool before cutting into pieces.

This is my entry for AFAM – Dry Fruits which is being hosted by us for the month of December.


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Bhajji is a favorite snack in my home. Once on a cold rainy evening, when my son was 2 years old, I asked my son what I should cook for his dinner. Pat came his reply, ‘Bhajji’! So that’s how much of “a Bhajji family” we are 🙂

I make bhajjis quite often, about once in a month. I generally use a wide variety of vegetables to make bhajjis, like, carrots, raw plantain, onion, capsicum, large brinjals, potato, tender yellow pumpkin (parangi kottai), chowchow, paneer etc. All the snacks and tiffin varieties are prepared and served from the stove to the plate. I find it difficult to take pictures most of the time. But this time I decided to take pictures, to post in the blog of course. The bhajjis I make are quite simple. The temperature of the oil and the consistency of the batter matter most while preparing a tasty crispy bhajji. For tips on the right way to deep fry refer to my earlier post on kunukku.

Brinjal and Vazhaikkai bhajjis

Bhajjis 3


  • Gram flour (Besan) – 1 cup
  • Rice flour – 1 cup
  • Water – 3/4 cup
  • Chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Hing – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Salt – to taste
  • Vegetables of your choice – 1/2 kg
  • Oil for deep frying – 2 cups


  1. Heat the oil in a kadai on low flame. The oil will be ready by the time you prepare the batter.
  2. Mix the flours, salt, hing, chilli powder with water and mix well with out lumps.
  3. Wash, peel and slice the vegetable to 1/8 inch thick pieces.
  4. Bring the flame to high. Dip the slices one at a time into the batter and drop into hot oil.
  5. Reduce flame to medium and cook both sides. Drain well and take out the bhajjis on to a kitchen paper.
  6. Serve hot with sauce or Vethal kuzhambu.

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South Indians are famous for their aromatic perfect filter coffee. I prefer to drink coffee made in my home only! Every visitor to my home would never say no to my coffee. So I always keep the decoction ready. 🙂

Coffee estates in Coorg produce some of the best coffee seeds in the world. These are roasted, powdered and sold in various outlets throughout the world. There are mainly two varieties of coffee seeds, peabery and plantation. Chicory is also added to the powder to give a good colour. But for me the best coffee is made from a powder with 50% peaberry and 50% plantation seeds. Which ever outlet I buy the coffee powder I always get it ground in this proportion. Coffee powder stored in Tupperware containers stays fresh for 15 days. It is always good to buy once in a week.

Preparing a decoction is a technique to perfected by practice. At the end of the post I will give some important tips for brewing the perfect coffee.

For making 2 cups coffee.


  • Coffee powder – 3 level tablespoons (or 2 tablespoons heaped)
  • Hot water – 3/4 cup
  • Milk – 1 and 3/4 cup
  • Sugar – 2 teaspoons


  1. Fill the upper part of the filter with coffee powder. Slightly tap on the counter, a few times.
  2. Place the upper container over the lower one.
  3. Pour hot water very slowly. Close and allow the decoction to collect into the lower container.
  4. Heat milk till it reaches boiling point. Pour in to two cups.
  5. Add around 3 tablespoons decoction and 1 teaspoon sugar to each cup. Serve hot.  (Increase as per taste if you prefer your coffee really dark)


Never heat the coffee after mixing with decoction.

If you use decoction stored in the fridge, heat the decoction separately by placing it in boiling water.

You can also make cold coffee using this decoction.

Some filters have bigger holes. After filling the coffee powder you can slightly press it with your fingers.

Some filters have small holes which tend to get blocked. Make sure the holes are clear.

The filter should be totally dry when you add the powder.

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How to bring a house down?

Note: Cross posted at bhawnatheatre.wordpress.com

Let’s tackle the customary introduction first,

Bhawna is a children’s theatre group in Chennai that works towards creating opportunities for children to interact and have a whole of fun without the dividing lines of “special” vs “mainstream”. We currently have 30 children mostly between the ages of 5-11 years including children with special needs, brought together by a common interest in and love for theatre.

We staged our first production “The Selfish Giant” on the 1st of December at CLRI Auditorium, Chennai. The play was adapted from a fairy tale of the same name by Oscar Wilde.

And now for the real stuff – after 3 weeks of an incredible amount of fun and frolic, loads of screaming, a hundred cups of hot cocoa and a lifetime’s supply of chips and not to forget the 3 hour long daily rehearsals – this is how things turned out.

A Garden is discovered

Who's garden
But whose garden is this?

Leave it - Let's just play
Let’s just play – don’t worry too much about what your mom will say.

Hide and Seek
A Game of Hide and Seek – I am not looking, hide fast

Scene 1 - Song
Dancing is good fun

Giant smelling
Fie Fye Foo Fum – I get the smell of children

Please Mr. Giant
Discovered!! Please Mr. Giant, don’t eat me up!!

giant small
Get out of my garden – I am big and I’ll eat you teeny weeny weasels up!!

The Spring Dance – I cannot set in The Selfish Giant’s Garden

Summer Dance – Oops, no golden glow of summer for a very very selfish giant

Autumn Dance – I’m passing over this garden too, but better watch out for naughty winter

Winter’s got style – Ice, Frost, Snow and Hail – Let’s teach the giant a good lesson

Winter Dance
North Wind joins the Winter Dance – Let’s play havoc

A Repentant Giant
Giant realizes his foolishness – I am sorry

Bringing the house down
Let’s have a party – Kids bringing the stage down AFTER the finale piece was over!!!

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Kunukku is a traditional snack, prepared more often than bhajjis in tamizh households. Deep fried snacks are welcome with evening tea during winter months. I always use a lot of vegetables with these snacks to increase their nutritional value. While lot of people totally avoid deep fried snacks, I always believe in eating what ever we like in limited quantities. We have consciously included a lot of physical activity in our daily routine to avoid unwanted weight gain which leads to various health problems. So go ahead and enjoy all the deep fried snacks this winter and include a lot of physical exercise in your daily routine.



  • Par boiled rice or raw rice – 1 cup
  • Toor dal – 1/2 cup
  • Channa dal – 1/2 cup
  • Urad dal – 2 tablespoons
  • Curry leaves – 2 twigs
  • Grated coconut – 2 table spoons
  • Finely chopped brinjal – 2 cups ( Large variety tastes best)
  • Red chillies – 4 nos
  • Hing – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil for deep frying – 2 cups


  1. Wash and soak the rice and dals separately for 1 hour.
  2. Drain the water well.Grind the rice coarsely, add the dals, redchillies, curry leaves, coconut, hing and salt and grind to a coarse thick batter.
  3. Mix finely chopped brinjal. Heat oil in a kadai in a medium flame. Make 1 inch balls out of the batter and fry in hot oil till golden brown.
  4. Serve hot with coconut chutney or sauce.

Tips for deep frying

Temperature control is very important for deep frying the right way. Maintaining oil at a constant temperature – not allowing it to over heat or cool too much is very important.

The flame should be high while dropping the balls so that the batter does not disintegrate or scatter in the oil.

Lower the flame to medium to allow even cooking.

The temperature of oil should never go beyond smoke point. If oil begins to go beyond smoke point, replace with fresh oil.

Oil should be cleaned of any remaining smaller food particles before you proceed with each batch.

Food should be removed when golden in colour to best retain flavour and nutrition and should not turn dark brown.

Drain well while removing from oil to avoid excess oil sticking to the snack. Perforated ladles are best suited for deep frying. Drain on a rack or perforated vessel after removing from oil.

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Walk down The Mall

shimla, india
Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India

police assistance room, shimla
Police Assistance Room, The Mall, Shimla

general post office, shimla
General Post Office, Upper Mall, Shimla

building from colonial era, shimla
One of the many buildings from Colonial Era, The Mall, Shimla

quaint clock, shimla
Quaint Clock, The Mall, Shimla

municipal corporation, shimla
Municipal Corporation, Upper Mall, Shimla

municipal corporation, shimla
Municipal Corporation, Upper Mall, Shimla

public library, shimla
Public Library, Ridge Maidan, Shimla

church of christ, shimla
Christ Church, Ridge Maidan, Shimla

shimla just after sunset
Shimla just after Sunset

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