Do not underestimate

the creativity of this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. By virtue of its simplicity it provides us bakers with a wide-range of opportunity to explore our creative side. Go on over to the daring kitchen site listed below to check out and vote for some amazing concoctions!

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!

As for me, I decided to keep it simple- my edible container was a vegan mocha cupcake which I filled with this extremely light and mildly sweet maple mousse.

Vegan maple mousse

1 package (12 oz.) soft silken tofu
¾ cup (14 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup
2 tsp agar-agar
2 tbsp dark brown sugar


Let tofu come to room temperature. Using a food processor, blender, or hand mixer, blend tofu until just smooth.

Sprinkle agar-agar on the maple syrup and let it rest for 10 minutes. Heat maple syrup on the stove to a boil and then let it simmer 5 minutes until the agar-agar has dissolved. Add the sugar and just stir until it dissolves too.

In a food processor, blender, or a large bowl, blend the tofu with the maple syrup until creamy.

Refrigerate for at least one hour. Remove from the fridge and divide among your edible containers.

Vegan Mocha Cupcakes (Source: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World)

1 cup almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs instant coffee granules


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with paper liners.

Whisk together soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Once milk is curdled, add the sugar, oil, vanilla extract and whatever other extract you’re using to the almond milk and beat until foamy.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, beating until there are no large lumps. Some small lumps are OK.

Fold coffee granules into batter.

Pour into liners, filling 2/3 of the way. Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a rack.

Note:  I am sure I measured some leavening agent wrong or used the wrong kind of fat- but my cupcakes were too moist and therefore crumbling on me. I only could fill a couple for the photograph!


If you look beyond the crumbling cupcake, you would taste an amazingly moist, extremely light (left to my own devices I could eat them all in one sitting- give me a few shows of law and order), mocha-ey cupcakes that go very well with the maple mousse (yes, I was apprehensive at first). Thanks Evelyne for this lovely challenge!

Sambar and curry

Methi/ Fenugreek, a relatively under-utilized herb that belongs to the Fabaceae family, a family with more famous members such as chick peas, peanuts and alfalfa (the poor methi does not stand a chance now, does it?). Despite having its roots in the Mediterranean region, this herb is widely used in Indian cuisine and I guess this is not really surprising given that India is the largest producer of fenugreek. 
Sources: wiki, spice pages
The recipe for this lovely sambar comes from Shyamala’s blog- I did not change much here.  

1/2 cup toor/tuvar dal
Fresh methi (fenugreek greens), leaves and tender stems chopped finely
1 onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1.5 tsp tamarind paste dissolved in 4 cups water
2 tsp oil
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
2 tsp (heapful of homemade powder) sambar powder
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Pressure-cook the tuvar dal 2 cups water with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder. Once cooked, mash the dal smooth.
Heat oil in a deep pan and add mustard seeds, cumin and asafoetida powder. Once the mustard seeds have popped, add the sliced onions and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat till the shallots start to soften.
Add the chopped tomato and let it cook till it begins to turn mushy. Now add the chopped vendhaya keerai (fenugreek greens) and stir till it’s well mixed with the contents of the pan. Let it cook till completely wilted.
Pour in tamarind water and bring it to a boil. Add the sambar powder and salt- mix it in.
Let this boil for 10-15 minutes (until the raw sambar powder smell vanishes), then add the cooked dal and the rice flour dissolved in 4-5 tbsp water. Bring the sambar back to the boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for another 5 minutes (check salt and you are DONE).
Sprinkle the chopped coriander and serve hot over plain rice, or better yet curd rice. 
This recipe is off to Kalyani Herbs & Flowers in my platter event started by PJ
Vendaka (Okra) curry-
1 lb okra
salt, to taste
Red chilli powder, to taste
For tempering
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal (wiki entry here)
pinch asafoetida
1 tbsp coconut oil

Heat the oil in a pan (I used my beautiful cast iron pan- helps a lot). Once hot, add mustard seeds. Once these pop, add the urad dal and asafoetida powder. Let the urad dal brown a little, then add the okra. Let it cook thoroughly- do not add water or close the pan (water is evil when it comes to cooking okra this way). Just a minute or two before it is completely cooked, add the salt and red chilli powder. 
The entire process in a cast iron pot on medium heat took about 15 minutes and the result a non-gooey simple tasting okra. Now this is what I call sada khana (simple comfort food)!

Tip:  Now for a non-gooey okra, wash the okra and pat it dry (this does wonders). Cut the ends off. While cutting okra it also helps to wipe the goo off the knife  every once in a while.

Now if you were at all wondering about my dissipation from the world wide web- here is why!


For those of  you who do not know what is going in the picture above- I got married, is what is going on!