Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Stained Glass Cookies - Christmas Celebration

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Merry Christmas to all my readers :) 
 
Hope Santa has granted all your wishes!!! :) So he did for me too.. Shhhh will share the granted wish with you later. 

I'm celebrating this Christmas with cute little stained glass cookies :) I baked close to 100 cookies yesterday and have been sharing it with all. 

These see through cookies make the normal experience of eating a cookies into an exciting one for kids since its a combi of cookies + candy :) 

Its very simple to make and for sure a lovely gift for this Christmas :)

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Ingredients:

Maida (All purpose flour) - 3 1/2 cups
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Butter - 1 1/2 cups
Powdered sugar - 1 cup
Egg - 1
Milk - 2 tblsp
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Transparent sugar candies - 10 (I used fox candies)

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Method:

Sieve maida and baking powder and keep it aside. 

Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla essence and milk to it and beat well. Finally add maida and baking powder mixture and mix well until it rolls into a soft dough. 

Roll the dough into a large rectangle and cut into desired shape. Make a smaller hole in the center using similar shaped cutter. Place them on a butter paper lined baking tray.

Crush the candies using a rolling pin. Fill the cookie center hole with the broken pieces of candy. 

Preheat oven to 180°C and bake for 10-15 mins. 

Allow it to cool down for a while and slowly remove from the baking sheet.

Enjoy looking through the cookies ;)

This quantity yields 7 to 8 dozens of cookies depending on the size.

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See to that the hole in the cookies is big enough to show up the glass effect. 

Pierce a small hole on top of the cookies before baking so that you can hang them in your tree.

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Written by: Nithya
Send in your queries by clicking here

Friday, December 21, 2012

Kettle Tea House Review and Giveaway

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Yahooooo! Its already 21-12-2012 and the Mayan Calender ends but not the World :)

Earth is fine and running just as ever, nothing has changed. Isn't that a good reason to party big!!! 

I am going to be introducing to a lot of you about a beautiful place to visit and enjoy this Doomsday, Christmas, New year or just every other day in your life :)

Kettle - is a small cozy tea house in Anna Nagar. If you are a tea lover, then this is your destination in Chennai. 

Location - No. 3362V, AE Block, 10th Main Road, Anna Nagar West, Chennai, Tamil Nadu - 600040. 

Right next to Anna Nagar post office. This lane is opposite to LKS gold house in Anna Nagar. 
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Eat breakfast like a King, Lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper is a famous saying. I would heartily accept it and would say may it be delicious all times along with a cup of hot tea.

A large population of India enjoy tea everyday and as we all know, India is one of the largest grower and exporter of tea as well. In spite of these facts, we don’t have much of organized tea houses in India when compared to coffee!! Isn't that pretty surprising?! I really wish we had one.

Some good hearts heard me say that?!! And here it is all under one roof named Kettle.


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Kettle claims to be an International Tea house with loads of varieties of teas and snacks that pair well with tea, knowing this background increased my expectations as I entered.
The restaurant is picked a cosy corner of a street at Anna Nagar with ample parking and pretty ambiance welcoming you.

You could be a cool freak, a decent delegate or a happy family, Kettle has a place for you all with 4 different ambiances  Tall bar chairs, outdoor table settings, posh couches and chocolate brown coffee table set up from which one can choose any according to the mood. I grabbed the outdoor table to enjoy my food along with the nature. 


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First glance through the beverages menu excited me enough with around 20 varieties of teas ranging from black tea, green tea to our ever famous cutting chai. Some intriguing, unknown yet interesting names were organic HariGhatta, HariMuskar, Kala zulph, white tea and so on. Oh did I forget to mention the fruit teas and herbal teas! The list was sounding delicious with some black currant tea, apricot tea etc.  They have a wide range of ice teas as well for a chill sip.

When I had a word with the manager, I got to know that all their tea supplies are procured from belts of Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiris. The teas depict the true taste of India.

After a brief round of inky pinky ponky, I choose apricot tea. The waiter brought the prettily dressed tea in a glass pot along with a timer. The tea needs to steep for three minutes before I can relish the taste of apricot in my tea and that’s when the artistically dramatic bell rings asking me to grab my cup. I had a refreshing sip before I received the menu card again. 


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Though the tag line reads tea & desserts and I expected the same, I was surprised to see the elaborate menu with more delicious delicacies. They had a lot of choice of dishes that pair so well with teas. The starter menu had dishes from around the world, right from desi Samosa to French pastry Vol Au Vonts, Paneer canapé to Chicken Satey all cooked to perfection and ought to mention the plate presentation was an art piece by itself. Vol Au Vonts just melted in my mouth.

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The starter kindled my taste buds and hunger instincts so I went to order more from the main course menu. There were choices of simple sandwiches to scrumptious pastas. I chose to have a veg club sandwich followed by creamy curried pasta. The veg sandwich that I shared with my friend had one bitter cucumber which let it down slightly but the word yummy is an understatement for the pasta.


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Is that it? Nope. The menu called out loud for my notice of the loooong list of desserts and ice creams. The long list spoils you I say, I really had a great confusion as to what I can treat myself with. After reading all the tempting names out, I relished on a concoction of vanilla ice cream with the right mix of crumbled oreo cookies. The cold stone mixing fascinated me so much that I got back to age 6 and was choosing colored sprinkles, waffle cones, chocolate chips and various other toppings. Simply lip smacking.

If you think all these are complicated for your kid!! Not to worry, kids have a separate part of the menu with simple dishes like peanut butter sandwich etc that they would enjoy without complaining.

The main course portions were huge enough to make a meal by itself and the prices of all the dishes fit your pocket right.  


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Apart from the general food services they also provide some unique experiences in their store. They conduct Tea brewing and Tea tasting sessions in their tea house periodically. I so happened to attend them and was astonished with the experience. They shared the secret of making perfect teas. The temperature, the quantity and time to make each different tea was well explained and the participants got to taste 6 of their teas along with snacks that pair well with the teas. It turned up to be a very informative session.

They have also started retailing their tea leaves for their customers. Those who love the different flavored teas can grab their packs of whole leaf teas right from the store to surprise people at home with amazing teas.

Kettle is also open and ready for Pot Luck parties and birthday parties. They make custom made combos for such parties too. 

Kettle – The best ever tea house that I would have ever dreamt of and it definitely meets International standards.

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Kettle management was sweet enough to offer some goodies to my readers when I expressed interest to do a review of their restaurant. :) Isn't that too generous?!!! 

They have offered to give goodies to three lucky readers of my blog which will be selected by a random lucky draw.


First lucky winner - One Glass kettle + Exclusively flavored Kettle tea leaf pouch


Second and third lucky winner - Exclusively flavored Kettle tea leaf pouch



All you need to do to enter the giveaway is - 

Like to follow Kettle's FB page here - http://www.facebook.com/KettleTeahouse

Like Fourth Sense Cooking's FB page here - http://www.facebook.com/4thsensecooking

Tweet about this giveaway for extra count for the lucky draw :)

Once you do the above leave a comment here and just wait until 1st of Jan to see if you are the picked one :)

I am sure you would love the teas as much as I did :)

Note: This is not a paid or biased review. It is very much my honest views about the restaurant in my town. 

Written by: Nithya
Send in your queries by clicking here

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Curry

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When the western world celebrates and decorates pumpkins for Halloween, the Indians use it for making delicious Sambhar or curry :) 

This is one of my most favorite curry since it has spice, sweetness and also the tang from tamarind. Its such a delicious blend that I completely drool while describing it :)

Yummy is an understatement. Give it a try and you would thank me for the recipe :)
 
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Ingredients:

Yellow pumpkin - 2 cups (large chopped pieces)
Tamarind paste - 1/2 cup
Jaggery - 1 tblsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder - for taste
Salt - for taste
Sugar - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp

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Method:

Wash and chop pumpkin into large pieces. 

Take a heavy bottomed vessel and drop in the chopped pumpkin pieces along with tamarind paste, a tsp of salt, a tsp of chilly powder, jaggery and turmeric powder. Add enough water to cover the pieces and cook closed. Pumpkin gets cooked very soon, keep an eye on it. Remove one piece after 5 mins and check if the skin is cooked, if its still hard then cook for another 3 mins. Once its just cooked and still in shape, remove from flame and filter the water into a fresh bowl. ( you can use the spiced water to make vatha kozhambu). 

Now take a frying pan and add a tsp of oil and splutter mustard seeds. Add the cooked pumpkin pieces and saute for few mins until the water is absorbed. Now add little salt, chilly powder and sugar to it and saute for few more mins. 

Serve it with curd rice or ghee rice :) It does go well with chapathi too :)


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Note:

Do not remove the skin of the pumpkin. If you remove them, there is a chance that it gets over cooked and looses shape. The skin would get cooked well and will add taste to the dish. 

Reserve the tamarind spiced water after cooking the pumpkins for making vatha kozhambu or simply add it to sambar. 

Taste the cooked pumpkin and then add more salt and chilly powder accordingly. 

Adding sugar makes it different, juicy and tasty. Do not skip it.

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Written by: Nithya
Send in your queries by clicking here

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chocolate Cake Balls - Christmas Treats!

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Christmas is round the corner and most of you must be packing goodie bags for your friends and relatives! 

What are you all baking / cooking / packing?!!!

I just made a delicious batch of cake balls for some guest who had made it home for dinner and wow, fantastic, delicious, yummy and so on were the comments!! :P It was pleasant to hear those words and was more than satisfying to see people grab one after the other and gobbling them down :)

Enjoy the visual treat and note down the secret of making them :)

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Ingredients:

Chocolate cake - I made my dark fantasy cup cakes for this. Check recipe here.
Melted butter
Dark cooking chocolate
White chocolate

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Method:

Once you bake the cake, allow it to cool down completely. 

Crumble the cake completely into a large mixing bowl. Now pour in two tblsp of melted butter and mix it well with a wooden laddle.

The mixture should be moist enough to roll into 1 1/2-inch balls and still hold a round shape. Add some more melted butter if the cake crumbs are dry and difficult to make balls. 

After rolling the cake balls by hand, place them on a wax paper. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze them for 2 hours. 

Break the dark chocolate into small chunks and melt it using the double boiling method. (Place the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water) Keep stirring using a dry spatula until the chocolate is completely melted. 

Allow the melted chocolate to come to room temperature. 

Now take the cake balls from the fridge and dip them one at a time in the melted chocolate until it is well coated on all sides. Remove the ball carefully using a fork and place them on the butter paper again. Do the same for all the balls and leave it untouched until the chocolate sets. 

Melt white chocolate and spoon it into a piping bag. Draw lines or any pattern on the cake balls for decoration. Allow this to set as well.

Place them into an air tight container and store it on the counter top or in the fridge for a week and use. 

Enjoy making and enjoy sharing it with friends and relatives this Christmas season :)

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Tips:

If you have dry cake bought from store you can use it to make cake balls and enjoy it in a different form. 

You can use a different flavor of cake like vanilla or red velvet for a difference in color. 

Decorate the balls with sprinkles of your choice or nuts too.

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Make delicious cake balls for your friends this Christmas :)

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Written by: Nithya
Send in your queries by clicking here

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wheat Rava / Broken Wheat Idly

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Rava idly is one of my favorite dishes and I have enjoyed it every time we make it at home. Last time I planned to make them for dinner I just realized I was short of rava and 'BLING' wheat rava was the second option and surprisingly it was yummy too :)

Since these broken wheat are slightly hard we need to give some soaking time for it so that they get soft. These idlies are such a lovely variation to the normal rava idlies or rather a good idea to consume wheat in a different form. :)

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Ingredients:

Wheat rava (broken wheat) - 2 1/2 cups
Green chilies - 3
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Channa dhall - 2 tsp
Urad dhall - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Beaten curd - 3 cups
Salt - for taste
Cooking soda - 1/2 tsp

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Method:

Chop green chilies into small pieces. 

Take 3 tsps of oil in a pan and crackle mustard seeds followed by urad dhall and channa dhall. Fry until the dhalls are slights browned. Now add chopped green chilies and fry for a min. Add the wheat rava and fry in medium flame for 5 mins. 

Now collect this in a mixing bowl and allow it to come to room temperature. Add salt and cooking soda and mix well. 

Finally add 2 1/2 cups of beaten curd to it and mix until the entire rava mixture is wet and comes to pouring consistency. Allow this to get soaked for 1/2 hour. 

Just  before making the idlies add the remaining 1/2 cup of curd and mix well. 

Grease the idly plates with oil and pour in the batter. Steam cook idlies for 15 mins. 

Enjoy the delicious different idlies with coconut chutney :)

This quantity would be sufficient to make 24-28 idlies. 

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Written by: Nithya
Send in your queries by clicking here

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Strawberry Cake with White Chocolate Icing

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Strawberry cake with white chocolate frosting!!! Yummy and a sweet adrenaline rush I should say :) 

This was one cake that I loved as soon as I made it and did a happy feet dance :) Though not so perfect with the frosting, it still made me feel proud of this acquired skill of mine ;) A heart full of roses..Who wouldn't like it! 

The cake is simple, eggless and delicious!! 

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Ingredients:

For cake:

All purpose flour (maida) - 250 gms
Cooking soda - 1/2 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Butter - 100 gms
Milk maid - 200 ml
Water - 50 ml
Milk - 100 ml
Strawberry Emulsion - 1/2 tsp

For frosting:

White chocolate - 100 gms
Butter - 140 gms
Icing sugar - 75 gms


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Method:

Sieve maida, cooking soda and baking powder together. 

Take a mixing bowl and beat butter and milk maid until smooth. Add the strawberry emulsion and beat until well mixed. Fold in the maida, baking powder mixture alternating with milk and water until well incorporated. 

Pour the batter in the greased and floured mould and smoothen the top with spatula. 

Preheat oven to 180°C and bake the cake for 30-40 mins. 

Check if cooked by inserting a tooth pic in the center. The cake done if the toothpick comes out clean.


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Icing:

Chop white chocolate into small chunks. Melt it over double boiler and keep it aside until it becomes warm but does not solidify again.

Meanwhile beat butter and sugar until stiff. 

Beat in the white chocolate into the butter sugar mixture.

Take a disposable icing bag and put in the star shaped nozzle. Fill it with icing and pipe small circles from inside out to make pretty rosettes. 

Enjoy the cake :)

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Tips:

If you dont have emulsion for flavoring, simply use 1/2 tsp of strawberry essence and 1/4 tsp of pink food color to get the same results. 

White chocolate frosting is quite sweet so try to keep the sugar levels in the cake subtle. 

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Written by: Nithya
Send in your queries by clicking here

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sago Murukku / Javvarisi Murukku

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Generally I require fried food like murukku or chips only when I eat sambar or rasam rice. In fact it has so much become a habit to eat rice with these fried stuff, that now I am not able to eat either of them plain :P 

There are few exceptions to the above habit and one of it is this murukku. This tangy murukku that mom made for diwali has really become a hit. Its so nice to have at tea time and while it is chill outside. It has the subtle spice along with the tang of curd and lemon and definitely a hint of sago taste which makes it really unique. 

I am sure it sounds pretty new to a lot of you here just like how it was for me and I thoroughly enjoyed eating them. Come on, lets do 'same pinch' once you try it out :)

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Ingredients:

Sago / Javarrisi / Sabudana - 1 cup
Curd - 1 1/2 cups
Rice flour - 3 cups (aprox)
Green chillies - 10
Lemon juice - 2 limes (optional)
Asafoetida - a pinch
Salt - for taste
Oil - 1/3 cup

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Method:

Soak sago in curd over night. 

Grind it into a smooth paste along with green chillies, salt and asafoetida. If its too dry, add 1/2 cup of curd and grind it into a smooth paste. Don't add water while grinding. 

Now take the ground paste into a large mixing plate and add rice flour to it, little by little and mix well. Keep adding rice flour and kneed it until it is firm enough to squeeze while it is put in the murukku maker.  This quantity would approximately take in 3 cups of rice flour. 

Heat 1/3 cup of oil and add it to the dough along with lemon juice and kneed again. 

Now put the dough into the murukku maker and squeeze in hot oil. Keep the flame in lower medium and fry until it is crisp and golden evenly. 

Remove from oil and pat it dry on a news paper. 

Store in air tight containers and enjoy the murukku for a week :)

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Written by: Nithya
Send in your queries by clicking here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Diwali Celebration - Almond Pudding

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May millions of lamps illuminate your life
with endless joy, prosperity, health & wealth forever!!

Wish you all a very happy Diwali :)

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My Diwali is being beautiful, delicious, happy and memorable :) I hope all of you are enjoying this joyous occasion at its best with your dear ones. Enjoy the day with fire crackers, sweets and loads of wishes :)

My house is loaded with sweets and savories this year and here is one for you all, may be the best of this year :) The rich creamy and sinfully delicious almond pudding :) 

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Ingredients:

Almonds - 200 gms
Milk - 1/2 ltr
Whipped cream - 1 cup (200 ml)
Gelatine - 20 gms
Powdered Sugar - 200 gms
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

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Method:

Blanch almonds in warm water for an hour. Peel the skin and keep it aside. 

Grind the almonds into a smooth paste by adding few spoons of milk. 

Take the gelatine in a cup and add few spoons of water to it. Microwave it for a min for it to completely dissolve. 

Boil the milk and add sugar to it. Mix until well dissolved. Now completely simmer the stove and add the ground almond paste and mix well. Remove from flame. 

Allow it to come to room temperature. Add the gelatine mixture, vanilla esssence and mix well and let it cool completely. 

Finally fold in the whipped cream to it. 

Pour them into moulds or serving glasses and allow it to set in the fridge for 2 hours atlease. 

Serve cold topped with some crushed praline.

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Written by: Nithya
Send in your queries by clicking here.



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