Aromatic Tea – A very special tea for reviving tired bones

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What would cheer you up after a long and busy day ?  A cup of tea of course !  A ‘cuppa’, as the British refer to it with such fondness, is a form of therapy, indeed.

Nothing else can compete with this sweet, milky tea with a subtle blend of cinnamon and cardamoms, which could definitely be the  ultimate choice as a comforting beverage in a cold winter evening to revive and relax your tired bones and muscles.

I remember,  my beloved Indian friend, Sonal,  always took the opportunity to brew this tea – with lots of love, of course – whenever I popped into her cosy home, soaking wet on a rainy day or on a gloomy, cold winter afternoon, shivering and tired.

While sipping this tea, you will enjoy the unmistakable aroma  spice up your nostrils.  By adding a slice or two ginger along with a little love into the pan,  will offer you warmth and release the tension in muscles too.

Try this wonderful cuppa with two tea biscuits and feel the difference.   It’ll be magical! Believe me.

For two teas you will need :

  • Tea bags -2
  • Semi / full fat milk – 2 cups
  • Water – 1/2 cup
  • A stick of a cinnamon
  • Two cardamom pods – crushed
  • A slice of ginger
  • 3 – 4 tsp of brown sugar – 2 tsp for each cup

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Let’s brew it :

  • Pour 1/2 cup of water into a pan and boil.
  • Drop two tea bags, cardamom pods, cinnamon and ginger slices.
  • Boil for several minutes until the tea brewed properly.
  • Add the two cups of milk.
  • Add sugar.
  • Increase the flame and boil until milk comes up to the brim of the pan.
  • Immediately, lower the flame and let it brew for about 3 mins.  If you prefer a stronger cup of tea, then brew it further 2 mins.
  • Strain directly onto cups and serve with tea biscuits.
  • Enjoy!

 

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Cold Buster – A proven home-remedy for common cold

cold2 Everyone has to suffer from common cold from time to time, in proportions to the fluctuations of weather, especially during the transition periods between the seasons in temperate countries.

Both summer colds and winter colds are  distressing,  equally for children and adults.  The most, upsetting fact is that  there is no definite medication  for common cold, caused by rapidly-evolving viruses. There are, however,  many wonderful  home remedies, which work very effectively on a catalogue of symptoms of common cold.

The Ayurvedic remedy  that I share with you contains black pepper, coriander and ginger, two wonderful herbs; the colds buster was passed on to me by one of the renowned Ayurvedic Physician in Sri Lanka; it is highly effective, if used regularly during the period of discomfort; in addition, you don’t have to worry about side effects, as there is none.

Coriander seeds, when pan roasted,  generate heat and ginger, being a natural anti-viral, has many qualities to fight against common colds. Its natural antihistamine and decongestant targets cold symptoms and ease out the symptoms. Also,  Pepper corns are widely known in the Asian region as  the enemy of coughs!!!

So, let’s make this home remedy  while using the essential ingredients in the right proportions: 

  • Take a cup of whole coriander and pan roast them until crispy. ( don’t blacken them)
  • Pan roast 1/2 cup of thinly chopped good quality root ginger, a few garlic cloves and a handful of black pepper corns.
  • Now grind both together into a coarse powder.
  • Store in an air-tight glass bottle.
  • Before bed-time  take a tablespoon of this powder and drop it to a small pan with a teaspoon of sugar.  Pour 2 cups of water.
  • Boil under low flame until 2 cups brew into 1 cup.
  • Sip slowly, sniffing the aroma.

Your distressing cold symptoms will pass in no time.

Get well soon!cold

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Oven Temperature Conversion

gas mark temperature conversion chart Since the temperature dial of an oven has  not become completely universal yet, it is often a challenge to get an idea of it, when people talk about in terms of gas mark, Celsius or Fahrenheit. In order to deal with this seemingly-trivial issue, I am going to give provide you with a programme to do the conversion easily. In addition, you can even download the image in .pdf form for further reference, especially when you are not online. You can download the above image free of charge by clicking on the button below:

 

Download

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Convert Temperatures

Temperature Converting Programme

Housewives, occasionally, have to deal with trivial tasks like converting the
temperatures from one scale to another – Celsius to Fahrenheit or vice versa. The following programme help you do it in a split second, without compelling you to go through cumbersome mathematical calculations.

You just have to type in the temperature to be converted in the relevant box; the answer automatically appears in the other. Isn’t that cool?

Type in the temperature inside a box:

degrees Celsius

  equals

degrees Fahrenheit

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Mint tea – for digestion and restful sleep

mint teaMint, in addition to giving a sweet taste,  promotes digestion.  It also soothes stomachs in the event of a food indigestion or inflammation.  After a heavy meal at night, drinking a cup of mint tea, made with fresh mint leaves,  certainly gives you a lighter stomach and undisturbed sleep.

  • Simply drop a few fresh mint leaves into a cup.  Add boiled water and cover  with a lid.
  • When the water is cool enough to drink, add a teaspoon of honey into it and stir well.
  • Sip slowly and feel the difference!!

mint

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Exotic Tomato pickle – inspired by Nepalese cuisine

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Thanks to my friend Chand’s insistence and guidance,  I never forget to make this pretty, aromatic delicious Nepali pickle at the start of spring every year – a seasonal delight, indeed. Unlike any other pickles, this has no vinegar or  a great volume of unhealthy oils. The mustard oil makes it one of the most delightfully-healthier version of pickles that I have ever tasted.

You need only a few ingredients to make it  :

 Ripped juicy cherry tomatoes 8
Peeled garlic cloves 5
Green chilies slit in the middle 4
Chili powder 1/2 tsp
Mustard powder 1/2 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp

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Let’s make it:

  • First prepare the glass jar by  washing it thoroughly and wiping until dry. Hold a little above from the stove flame to dry  completely.
  • Prick the tomatoes all around with the help of a toothpick and drop them  into a wide bowl.
  • Drop garlic cloves and green chillies.
  • Add rest of  the spices and mustard oil.
  • Combine everything with a spoon, gently tossing and turning.
  • Check the taste at this point and add a pinch or more of chili powder or salt, if you prefer a spicier version.
  • Fill the glass jar and  give a gentle shake. Close tight.
  • This will sit prettily on your kitchen window sill, bathing in the warm glow of Spring sunshine and will be ready to devour in 3 days time.
  • Yummy !!

 

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Roasted curry powder – Sri Lankan

cuyyr powder There is no better way to spice up your dishes than adding your home-made curry powder to your cooking; on one hand, you know for sure what goes in it; on the other hand, it will measurably  enhance the taste, appearance and aroma of the dishes that you love to make. Once, experienced the obvious difference, you will never go for the ready-made packets in stores. The good news is that it will only take about half-an-hour for the whole process and you only have to be careful not to let the spices burn up while roasting them in the pan.

You need the following whole spices : 

 Coriander whole 2 cups
Cumin whole 1 & 1/2 cups
Cloves 1 tbsp
Cardamoms 1 tbsp
Dried red chili whole 6
Black pepper whole 1 tsp
Cinnamon quills 4 broken into small pieces
Raw rice 1 tbsp
Curry leaves and Pandan leaves A handful each

g1 Once roasted, the colour of the spices looks like this.   Let’s make it:

  • Heat up a wide pan on medium flame and add coriander ; slowly, dry roast while constantly running  a wooden spoon through.  When the colour changes into darkest brown / blackish , immediately empty it to a foil sheet.
  • Now add the cumin seeds and roast until its colour also changed into darkest brown.  Empty it to the same sheet on top of coriander and let them cool down.
  • Now add the rest of the spices and roast them, while tossing and turning them continuously.  Add them to coriander and cumin.  Now that the spices are roasted, it is time to grind them up.

Set your spice grinder  to full speed.

  • Add a handful of roasted spices and grind until it smooth, empty on to a sheet of paper and then slowly fill in to an air tight spice container.
  • Continue this process, taking short intervals, as over-heating could damage your grinder.
  • Now fill in a smaller spice container for regular use and the rest must be stored in an  air-tight spice container and pushed to the farthest corner of your kitchen cabinet, away from light.

This will stay with its best quality and aroma intact for about 3-4 months; spice grinder  

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Cake tips, Equipment and Techniques

cupcake cases  cupcake cases- silicon 419IsK3Gc1L__SX355_ cup cake tray cake tin620078salter-60-minute-clockwork-timer233692337   flour   stork

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  • Use the right equipment : To cream up the cake batter, use an electric hand mixer for best results.  Traditionally, a wooden spoon was used, but now, this machine does a quicker and easier job.
  • Measure ingredients accurately :  For a beautiful cake, all ingredients should be measured with 100% accuracy as specified in the recipe.  The best equipment to facilitate this particular need is a digital scale rather than a normal kitchen scale.  For a volume of 1Kg cake, for instance,  you need, 250 g butter, 250 g sugar, 250 g Self-raising flour and 4 eggs.
  • Use the best ingredients :  Using good brands for your cake is very important for the best results.  The brands that I have been using for the past 15 years are shown above.  All ingredients should be kept at room temperature, before making the cake batter.
  • Mixing the cake : Make sure you beat the batter, clockwise with your electric hand mixer in order to get the right consistency – never side to side or counter clockwise.  Mixing will take for about 3 – 5 mins at high speed.
  • Eggs :   Make sure you use Class A medium eggs that are kept at room temperature.  Take out from the fridge 1/2 hour early or if you are in a hurry, drop them in a bowl filled with lukewarm water for 10 mins. 
  • Butter : I personally do not prefer using butter, as the cake goes stiff after  a few hours in cold climates.  Before using, however, you need to soften up the butter, which gives you an extra task to attend to.  There are very good spreads available in supermarkets, especially made for baking purposes, which are naturally creamy and stay creamy in the fridge too. I use Stork, especially for cakes tub, which has never let me down; it rather helped me bake such glorious cakes.
  • Sieve the flour :  Use self-raising flour for cakes, unless suggested otherwise in the recipe. For some cakes, a blend of both self-raising and plain flour are used.   Swift the flour and baking powder together,  holding the sieve, well above the cake batter.  This will allow the air to escape from the flour, giving a very light, soft texture to your cake.  Make sure you use a wooden spoon to co-ordinate flour and batter together, never the electric hand mixer.  Lightly, fold flour bringing from the sides and dropping to the middle and going around gently until all comes together as soft batter.
  • Sugars :  Use Caster sugar, which is  ideal for cakes.  The mixing time will take up to 1-2 mins for caster sugar as it dissolves very  quickly.  However,  you can use granulated sugar, which gives the same results.   The only difference is that you have to extend the mixing time up to 3-4 mins, up until the sugar granules breaks down and dissolves.
  • Baking powder :  Baking powder is a key ingredient,  as it helps the cakes to rise.  Use a good brand and never use too much.  Excessive baking powder will make the cake taste bitter, leave a sunken cake and a wrinkled  surface.
  • Baking tray :   Choose the right size for your cake.  If you have a large tray, you can divide it by using a thick strip of a cardboard to fit for a smaller quantity of batter.  Remember, never to fill the trays to the brim as the cake doubles it’s volume while rising.  So, fill the tray – 2/3  or half.  ( 8″ x 10″ Oblong tray for 1 Kg cake). For cupcakes, use cupcake trays to place the cupcake cases filled with batter so that they do not spill out and stay intact.  Silicon cupcake cases are great for handling and they could be re-used after a quick wash with warm water.
  • Lining the tray : Use parchment paper to line up the tray.  Do not worry if you have run out of parchment paper; you can use  white blank sheet papers, cut into the shape of the tray and brush butter all over,  dust the surfaces with flour and shake off the excess.  
  • Vanilla essence : Use a good brand of natural vanilla essence.
  • Lemon juice      : Dropping just 1tbsp of lemon juice to your cake batter will make a big difference.  It will give a very pleasant aroma  as well as taking the taste to the highest limits.
  • Salt :  Most of the modern recipes do not include salt in theirs.  Yet, salt used as a vital ingredient for baking since Victorian times.  Just a pinch or two salt will help blending the flavours and heightening the taste.
  • Oven : Set the oven to 180 C , 20 mins before you pop the cake in.  Depending on your oven, the self that you place the cake on differs.  It should be either in the middle self or the bottom.  It’s very important to be in tune with your oven. Bake a few small cakes and check the exact place which bakes your cake to perfection.  Do not open the door of the oven in the first 10 mins of baking as it will drop the cake in the middle.  Baking time varies according to the set ups in ovens.  Normal baking time is 15 – 25 mins.
  • Wooden skewers :  Use a thin wooden skewer to insert in the middle of the cake after 15 mins of baking time.  If the skewer comes clean, your cake is ready!!!! If the skewer is damped with a few bits of batter, shut the door and bake for another 5 mins.
  • Cooling :  Leave the cake in the tray for 5 mins to cool off.  If you try to take it out, the cake can break in several places.  Slowly pull from the sides of the parchment paper and take the cake gently out to leave it to rest on a cooling rack for about 10 mins.
  • Cutting the cake :  Dip the knife in hot water, wipe clean before cutting the cake to prevent it from crumbling.
  • Serve the cake  :  Now, serve your cake with a big SMILE !!!     Store the left overs in an air tight container.  When serving next day, microwave the cake pieces on a plate just for 5 seconds and everyone will think  that they came straight from the oven – so soft, nice and warm!!

Continue reading “Cake tips, Equipment and Techniques”

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