Raw Papaya Curry | Kapalangya Moru Curry From Diva Green

Why juice and smoothie papayas when you can curry them? I like using nouns as verbs now.
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This one’s also from Ritu Dalmia’s Diva Green, which is fast finding a place in my heart and on my shelf as “favourite cookbook.” The mix of recipes is great- from Indian to Italian and Asian- and I feel you can please any palate with the recipes in this book. And there are enough dessert recipes in there too :D

Papaya curry is not new to me- my grandmom has been making  the same thing for years now. Kapalangya moru curry… but for the uninitiated, it shall be called raw papaya curry. This recipe comes from Ritu Dalmia’s friend Prima Kurian, who is a home caterer. When it comes to food from home, I usually just call my mother, grandmother or mother in law and ask them how to prepare it- I don’t usually read a recipe. But with this one, I followed it to the T, just to see how it would differ from the versions I’d been making so far.

Turns out, with the addition of 2 ingredients, the curry transformed. It hadn’t struck me before, but the version my grandmother makes is saatvik: without garlic /onions in the body and tempering. Not that we follow a saatvik diet, I guess it’s just how she preferred it.

But the garlic and tempered shallots add a lovely pungency to the curry- something I missed from my grandmom’s no onions, no garlic version. It’s amazing how 2 gloves of garlic can transform a dish! (The only change I made was to use only coconut oil for the temper, as opposed to coconut oil + vegetable oil.)

RAW PAPAYA CURRY (Kapalangya Moru Curry) from Diva Green

For The Curry

  • 1/4 cup grated coconut
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 cup raw papaya, skinned with seeds removed
  • 3/4 cup yoghurt
  • Salt to taste

The Tempering

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 4 dry red chillies
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (jeera) 
  • 2-3 tablespoons sliced shallots
  • A handful of curry leaves

METHOD

  • In a blender, make a fine paste of the grated coconut, garlic, turmeric and green chillies. Add a few spoons of water if you need to.
  • Add the paste to the yogurt and whisk so everything is well combined.
  • Steam the papaya or cook it in water till tender but firm.
  • Add the papaya to the yogurt mix and cook this over low heat for 10 minutes, till the papaya is cooked through, stirring continuously so the curry doesn’t curdle. Pull off heat.
  • In a small frying pan, heat the coconut oil. Add the dry red chillies, the mustard, fenugreek, cumin, sliced shallots and curry leaves and allow everything to sputter.
  • Pour this temper over the curry and serve.

Healthy Dessert Experiment: Chocolate Avocado Pudding

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You know I love sugar. It’s in the title of my blog. I consume quite a lot of it. And I know it is not ideal. When I know it’s getting too much, and my skin starts to show signs of it, I just cut back.

I’ll forego chocolate altogether, and eat nuts and fruit for a sweet fix after a meal. (Ideally, one should be doing that most of the time…but alas! I am, at my core, a dessert-adoring, sugar-loving human.) I have tried, but while I am able to cut back, I can never really cut out dessert completely. It’s the Gretchen Rubin moderator vs abstainer theory- except I fall into neither category! I find it easier to stay off sugar completely for pockets of time, (meaning no peanut butter, no jelly, only pesto on my toast,) instead of lowering my sugar intake. After I’ve been off it for a while, I’ll start to indulge again, slowly (but surely!) And then, I am once again consuming more than I should, so I go back to abstaining for a while. It’s an unhealthy pattern, but it’s how I get by.

But…there is a way, you know. Apart from abstaining and moderating. Healthy desserts. The kind without gluten, or sugar, or dairy, like a Babycakes NYC cupcake.

I’ve been reading some special diet/healthy cooking blogs for a while now, learning more about vegan, gluten-free, whole-food and raw diets. And if you are looking to understand more about raw food, Laura Miller’s Sidesaddle Kitchen is a great resource. On her YouTube show Raw.Vegan.Not.Gross, she dishes up some pretty decadent lookin’ brownies, cake, and ice-cream, using all-natural, raw, unprocessed ingredients. While I won’t be making cauliflower pizza or walnut ‘meatballs’ anytime soon, her dessert recipes are more approachable and a good starting point if you are interested in eating raw.

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Chocolate avocado pudding is nothing new- I encountered it first on Fitsugar, and was surprised at how rich and creamy it looked. Not runny, not sticky, just glossy, a little firm, and creamy- like Jell-O pudding. And after I saw Laura’s version (even glossier and creamier,) and learned the health benefits of this magic pudding, I made a trip to the grocer the next day to pick up some avocados.

I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I left out the nama shoyu- but I did use the balsamic and increased the salt to ½ teaspoon since I was not using nama shoyu. Also, I used light olive oil instead of coconut oil, because the coconut oil here in India has a much stronger, nuttier flavour, which would be overpowering.

CHOCOLATE AVOCADO PUDDING (From Sidesaddle Kitchen.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large avocados, peeled and pitted
  • ½ cup agave nectar or maple syrup
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD
Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Serve!

Takeaways:

♥ Convenience: I give this recipe a 10/10. It’s quick and easy and comes together in minutes, all you need is a blender and your ingredients measured out.

♥  The Health Kick: Well, it’s definitely better for you than  Nigella Lawson’s chocolate pots de crème. Just avocado, natural sweetener and cocoa powder- no eggs, cream or butter, but the same dreamy, rich texture!

♥  The Taste: Hmmm. It’s good folks. Pretty darn good. But somewhere, I did feel like I was eating a chocolate-flavoured avocado. Perhaps it had to do with the quality of the cocoa powder- had I used some phancy raw cacao powder, I’m sure it would have added a richer chocolate taste.

Do you like attempting healthier desserts or would you rather indulge in old-fashioned bad-for-you desserts once in a while?

 

 

Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Fudge Cake + A Love For Cookbooks

It’s been slim pickings here at the blog for a while now so I thought I might as well post something rich and decadent after a-ummm-how shall I put it across? A blog-fast? A locked pantry?

We celebrated my husband’s birthday this month, and every year, he asks for a chocolate cake. He likes cheesecake and loaf cakes and citrusy oil-based cakes as well, but when it comes down to the kind of cake he’d like to cut on his birthday, it must be chocolate. Clean. Classic. Simple. Elegant.

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And if there’s one cook out there who has chocolate cake recipes to suit every kind of palate and occasion, it’s Ms Lawson. Need a fancy cake? Torta alla gianduia from How To Be A Domestic Goddess. Need a cake that’s less dense, but looks difficult and laboured over? Chocolate cloud cake from Nigella Bites. Need something sophisticated and served individually? Molten chocolate babycakes. Gluten-free? Nigellissima’s Chocolate olive oil cake! So you see, she has something for the children, something for the chocoholic, something for the gluten-intolerant.

I picked up a copy of Nigella Bites a month ago, it was a nice hardcover edition, plus it was on sale. I know the number of recipes is limited compared to say, a How To Eat, Feast, or Nigellissima, and I’m well aware that almost all her recipes are available online (either on her website or a food blogger’s,) but the offer was too good to resist. I’d flipped through a copy of Nigella Bites it in a bookshop and quite liked it. (Yes, I’m one of those people- I’ll browse in a bookshop and buy it on Amazon or Flipkart if it’s cheaper there.) I have HTBADG, but I like Nigella Bites because it’s slightly different from the others- fewer recipes, but more step-by-step pictures, and a page after each chapter for notes, so you can scribble your observations and notes to self.

Okay, I’ll say it now- I am a Nigella convert. I’ve been quite open about my contempt for her in the past, but as I browse through more of her books, I began to see why she’s so popular: the pretty prose aside, she does tend cook to like many of us would at home. (I use stock cubes and frozen peas myself.) While I may not be making her ham in Coca Cola anytime soon, there are plenty of other things I can attempt, from involtini to orange breakfast muffins and Vietnamese chicken salad. And even if I don’t end up making all of the recipes, I don’t mind- like having cookbooks to hold and read!

Actually I love collecting cookbooks. I read them like I would a novel, going through recipes and techniques before bed each night, drawing some kitchen inspiration and figuring out how I can use the ingredients I have in a new way.

So most nights, before I sleep, I’ll flip through a cookbook in bed. I’ll just pick a book off my bookshelf, based on how I feel- and I’ll read a recipe or two like a bedtime story. Marcella Hazan’s tips on how best to store basil. Felicity Cloake’s recipe for perfect gazpacho. Amanda Hesser’s baked zucchini with herbs. Ritu Dalmia’s marinated eggplant sandwich recipe, or one of Nigella’s many, many muffin or cake recipes. More than the recipe itself- “…in a bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder..,” I like reading the notes preceding a recipe. What inspired it, who it’s borrowed from, a special meal it was part of, how the author has added her twist to it.

I’ve come across other bloggers who do the same- and I wonder- do you curl up with a good cookbook? And why? For the prose, meal planning, or just to take in the beautiful photography?

Sometimes I wonder if I think about food a little too much: right now, I’m thinking about how to prepare a bowl of wheatberries, currently soaking. And this brings me back to Ms Lawson. She claims to have her mind on food almost all the time, and she’s unapologetic about it. And her recipes too, are straightforward and unapologetic about how they came to be.

This chocolate cake is chocolate cake at its simple, uncomplicated best. No 70% dark chocolate to be melted, just good old-fashioned cocoa powder, flour-butter-sugar-eggs. The way the ingredients are combined differs from some of Nigella’s other chocolate cakes, but it yields a spongy and light cake with a creamy, sweet and slightly tart frosting. It’s got more body than buttercream, so it holds up well, and it’s a nice contrast to the spongy cake.

I also feel it tastes better the day after it’s baked- the rest moistens the sponge and makes it a little richer :D

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NIGELLA LAWSON’S CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE (From Nigella Bites)

I halved the recipe to make just one layer. I also substituted some ingredients, which I’ve added in brackets.

The Cake

  • 400 g all-purpose flour
  • 250 g golden castor sugar ( I used white castor sugar)
  • 100 light brown muscovado sugar (I used light brown sugar)
  • 50 cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 142 ml sour cream ( I used plain yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 175 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 125 ml corn oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • 300 ml chilled water

For The Chocolate Frosting

  • 175 grams dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  • 250 grams unsalted butter (softened)
  • 275 grams icing sugar (sifted)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 

METHOD

For The Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • Grease and line the bottom of two 8-inch sandwich tins.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In another smaller bowl or measuring jug, whisk the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended.
  • In a third, large bowl, beat the melted butter and corn oil until just blended, then beat in the water. Add the flour mixture at once and beat well. Add the egg mixture-sour cream mixture and continue beating till everything is well combined.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tins.
  • Bake the cakes for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before icing the cake

The Icing

  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave  or a double boiler. Allow it to cool slightly.
  • In another bowl beat the butter until it’s soft and creamy. Add the sieved icing sugar and beat till light and fluffy. Then add the vanilla and melted chocolate and mix until everything is glossy and smooth.
  • To assemble, sandwich the middle of the cake with 1/4 of the icing, and spread the frosting over the top and sides.