My First Dates Cake

My Dates Story

I love date cakes and who doesn’t,  dates are so rich in iron and are naturally sweet. During my third trimester of pregnancy I had gestational diabetes and had to cut down sugar intake completely. As a sweet lover it was difficult but as a food blogger it was fun. I gradually started enjoying the natural flavours of the food I ate while I started forgetting it was sugar free tea and coffee. You can experience the real taste of coffee and tea when there is less sugar but I was not a fan of muesli and had to have weetabix for breakfast.  As a person who has never tasted it I thought it must be like rusk and bought a large pack of weetabix. I was so disappointed by the taste of weetabix.  It was so bland and had no flavour at all so I had to add a few dates to my breakfast cereal.  Although worried of the natural sweetness in dates I had to eat for my baby.
We usually have dates in sri lanka when its ramazan or if someone brings from abroad.  But since moving to dubai I have been having it very often as  my husband likes to have a few dates with his weekend biriyani or rice and curry. Its delicious try it.
So dates is always available at home in dubai while its the same story back in sri lanka. My dad gets dates from friends while he also buys them, he too enjoys having a few dates every now and then. So I’ve always wanted to make some dates cake with the extras and last week I decided to finish off a pack of dates that was laying on the shelf for the past three months. My dad got a box from riyadh and we had more leftover after sharing.

I was browsing through my recipe books for a dates cake recipe and couldn’t find one specifically for dates cake. I decided to go through some rich fruit cake recipe and used the ingredients as an inspiration.
I’ve learnt a dates cake recipe at my cake decorating school during my basic course yet I decided to keep it for later and create my own recipe.

So here is how I made my first dates cake.
Ingredients
2 eggs
75 gm wheat flour
75 gm sugar
125 gm margarine
150 gm dates deseeded
A handful of mixed nuts I used almonds and cashew nuts.
4 pinches of baking powder

Instructions
1. Beat margarine and sugar.
2. Stir in eggs one at a time with the 4 pinches of baking powder.
3. Blend the dates and nuts to a coarse paste.
4. Stir in to the egg mixture.
5. Fold in the flour.
6. Butter and flour a baking pan and spread the batter.
7. Bake in a moderate oven according to normal baking timings.
8. Serve warm with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

I made a small 6 inch cake with the above ingredients double the quantity to increase size, if you dont like the nuts to be a bit chewy blend it into a fine paste.
Add flour little by little and if the mixture is too runny add a few tablespoons of flour to obtain the correct consistency.
The correct consistency is the normal cake batter but with a bit thickness due to the nuts and dates.
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Healthy option for diabetes patients;
Substitute the sugar with 1/2 a cup kithul treacle or honey.
You can even use stevia extract, add just a table spoon instead of 75 grams.

mafaza

My first cookery school recipe

When I was 17 my mum asked me to join a cookery school and learn to make special food and various cuisines, she also wanted me to go and learn sewing.  I had plans opposite to mu mum and always wanted to do computing and journalism to find work and earn money.
I decided to go ahead with my mums opinion and start learning cookery from a lady who conduct classes. At that time it was just 1000 rupees for 2 lessons with a share. I didn’t take a book to write down notes nor was I interested on what they taught.  It was rather like I was forced to attend. I completed 4 lessons of which 1 was a finger food lesson.
The cookery class teacher taught me how to cook chinese food and make short  crust pastry. Soon after completing the four lessons I stopped going and my mum gave up on me for a while and after three years my mum again started to remind me that I should take cookery lessons.
The reason behind this was my rice was salty while my curry was very spicy with extra chillie making the gravy unbearably hot.
I always tell my mum that practice makes perfect yet she says I need to learn before I practice.
So I started following a diploma in general cookery at mallika school of home science in colombo. Mrs mallika joseph was a very experienced cookery teacher and she taught me a freat deal of recipes which Iearnt with interest as I was so desperately wanting to show my mum I know how to cook good food.
mrs mallika joseph taught me my favourite éclair recipe and Swiss rolls.
She also did the flaky pastry and lumprice.
I enjoyed my lessons and also tried out many recipes with passion and enthusiasm.
I never tried my first cookery school recipe until I got married and had an ifthar party at my house in dubai. It was in the year 2011 in dubai my husband wanted to host an ifthar cum house warming party for his friends at our house in jumeira village circle.
I wanted to do something different and delicious. I remembered the chicken lollipops which my dad used to bring when we had a visitor or during tea occasionally. It was so delicious and technically a bit tough that my mum used to wonder how to learn the art of making those lovelies, during that time we were way too far from the Internet and had no knowledge of whats the internet. It was in the late 1999’s.
So having learnt how to make it and never tried it was a sad story but remembering that I have the recipe and is capable of following instructions was great.
I took it as a challenge and made those chicken lollipops. My very first attempt and I guess my hands were shivering that I almost dropped the bowl of chicken while trying to refrigerate on mixing up the marinating spice. There was double work, cleaning up the mess of marinate from the refrigerator was a huge task and thankfully the chicken wings did not fall.
I mixed the spices and sauces again and left the bowl in the fridge to marinate. The next day I started frying them carefully making sure not to break. Frying cuttlets is one of those tasks I find very messy and difficult while making chicken lollipops was double work.
Finally my chicken lollipops turned put perfectly well, crispy on the outside with no cracks. It tasted good as the ones my dad used to bring from the shop near out house in colombo.
I was just a good cook then, I never had any knowledge or idea of blogging. I hardly took pictures of the food I cooked.
Now three years later am a blogger who photographs every food I cook. It seems like am cooking to blog but the truth is not always I cook to blog but I cook to eat while in between I think of blogging about what I am cooking or eating.
The past few weeks I have decided to cook something I’ve never done in sri lanka and serve my family here in colombo which is why I decided to fry some chicken lollipops. In the meantime I took a few photographs of my chicken lollipops to share on my blog so that my flow readers can try this recipe at home.
It’s very easy to make chicken lollipops.

Cheesy Chicken Lollipops

Ingredients
10 chicken wings
2 medium potatoes
1 onion
2 green chillies
1 tablespoon oil
50 grams processed cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

For the coating
1 egg
2 cups of bread crumbs

Instructions of cooking

1. Boil potatoes
2. Chop onions and green chillies
3. Clean and wash chicken wings and cut the sides.
4. Cook the wings partly and scrape the flesh from one side and gather around the bottom part of the wings making sure the bottom is stable and won’t break.
5. Marinate the chicken wings in some sauce (BBQ sauce mixed with a bit of soya sauce)
6. Place 1 teaspoon of grated processed cheese in the centre of the chicken wings and gather the flesh around in one side.
7. Seal with potato mixture.
8. Dip in egg and bread crumbs.
9. Deep fry in hot oil.

Potato mixture
1. Peel potatoes.
2. Sauté onions with green chillies in 1 tablespoon oil
3. Mash in the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.

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mafaza

In My Kitchen ; Lunch time cooking: colors and ingredients

In My Kitchen

It was time to start cooking lunch when I read sarah Waltons blog post on holi colors. I was walking over to the kitchen thinking of an idea to get some images and post. Lunch time cooking is the most exciting task. We cook a few vegetables with a meat and rice as per our sri lankan menu. Whoever is at home enjoys the lunch, Sometimes leftovers are served at dinner. While getting the ingredients from the refrigerator I was attracted by colorful vegetables I saw on my drawer. I soon started pitching up a story and taking photographs of my ingredients.
I love sri lankan food and enjoy cooking it while trying out new recipes and ingredients as a result I started of cooking the chicken curry for lunch using ma’s curry spice.
I followed the instructions and prepared accordingly.
I then decided to go ahead and capture the colors in cooking up a chicken curry amd here is my story in pictures.

The colors I found in my refrigerator

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The chicken curry in four steps

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The MA’s chicken curry spice mix

I should say a bit about this spice mix.
1. Easy
2. Affordable
3. Delicious
4. Smells good
5. Helps get a delicious sri lankan chicken curry in just 4 steps.

4 step chicken curry using ma’s spice mix-
1. Wash, clean chicken and mix with some chicken curry mix.
2. Temper onion, curry leaves and green chillies.
3. Add the chicken and mix well.
4. Stir in some coconut milk and let it cook, take off when tender.

mafaza

Recreating grandma’s polos curry

My grandma I mean my dad’s mum was good at cooking all things Sri Lankan.
Anything she cooked tasted so good and I cannot choose a favourite yet am so fond of her polos curry which no one can cook to beat her recipe except my aunt my dads only sister.
Having said that I attempted to cook up the dish, nothing better than trying.
So all the ingredients collected and ready to cook off I started making the polos curry.

the aroma of the ingredients

Its true we eat with our eyes first but we all should agree to one thing that our sense of smell is the first to make us feel hungry.
Sometimes I have breakfast late and I still have an appetite to gobble my lunch within the next couple of hours.
That’s due to the aroma of the ingredients used in the food which fills the house and sometimes enters the neighbour’s house arousing their senses creating imaginations. Well, I have felt that sad sense of neighbours cooking many times and have wondered what they might be cooking.

Some ingredients that used in this polos curry –
A handful of curry leaves
2-inch piece of pandan leaf
2 cinnamon sticks
3 garlic
2 large green chillies

These ingredients can be used in any food dishes and they never fail to give a fragrance when tempered in oil, butter or ghee.
The fist step to my granny’s polos curry was clean wash and pat dry these ingredients and temper in oil.

the seasonal vegetable

Polos is a seasonal vegetable its size varies and can be prepared as a savoury vegetable for lunch or as a sweet snack.
Polos is the Sinhala name while its called young jack fruit in English.
You peel the thick hard and prickly skin off and cook only the inside white pieces cut into bite size.

Add the bite size pieces of polos and sauté for a few minutes until well coated in the oil.

The spices

The spices are another element that makes one wander as to where it was purchased. Many brands are available on the market and not all spices are good quality, only a few are prepared with care and has an effective smell and taste when used in cooking.

I added some spices with no specific measurements.
The spices I added and the measurements for 2 cups of polos are –
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/8 teaspoon crushed pepper
Salt to taste

Add all these and mix with light coconut milk, just enough to cover the contents as follows-

Cover and cook on a medium-low heat until the young jack fruit is perfectly cooked. Check every 5 minutes and add more light coconut milk if required.

Once the water is reduced to almost 1/3 and the young jack fruit is cooked well add a tablespoon of thick coconut milk and let it boil.

Take off heat and serve warm.
The curry would look as follows when cooked well –

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mafaza

Cooking for grandma

It’s December holidays and my parents are out of town in business while my grandma is baby sitting me, myson and my sisters along with my aunt and cousin. My grandma cooks well and her food smells good. I remember my grans house filled with aromas from the fresh curry leave plant at the back yard besides the pandan leaves tree which was so huge and my granny never had to buy pandan leaves or curry leaves which ends up in every vegetable and curry cooked while the tempering of the onions and the variety of vegetables and curries release a delicious aroma that wakes up the appetite early before lunch time. Now I’ve got a chance to cook for my grandma who has a liking for western food while some medical precautions restrict her from eating what she wants and she is now obliged to eat what is good for her health. So I’ve gotta make some soft food, unfried and sugar less naturally. She does not restrict sugar from her teas and enjoys a slice of cake or a scoop of ice cream sometimes amidst her diabetics. I decided to make some soft pittu for her to be served with some fish gravy made for lunch.
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I was so happy to hear her words of satisfaction and contentment of having a good home cooked pittu dinner.

Making pittu is so easy and can be prepared for a family of 6 within an hour including all side dishes such as sambol, gravy and eggs.
Pittu is often served with a good chicken, mutton or fish curry accompanied with a very spicy onion or maldives fish sambol. You can even serve it with a milk gravy and some boiled eggs which are optional for those who are lazy to run over to groceries for missing meat and ingredients while you have an unexpected guest. Pittue is not just a dinner time meal we often have it for breakfast as well though it best suits dinner time as a heavy meal. We generally consider pittu as a festive breakfast served along with the delicious sooji porridge refer my post on porridges.
So here is how you make a pittu.
You can make it in a mould thays used for making pittu like the one in the picture below or use an idly pan. If you wanna just try it out you dont have to spend and buy anything as this can be made on a plate or even steamed on a rice cooker.
To steam on a rice cooker take a large piece of soft cloth and put the entire flour mixture and secure into a bundle and place on the steaming attachment that comes with most rice cookers and steam.

To do it on a plate you’ll need a small plate plus a large piece of cotton cloth cum a pot that has a mouth the size of your plate. Oil the plate and place the flour mixture. Wet the cloth and sqeeze out excess water. Cover the plate with the wet cloth and turn it over with the back of the plate facing upwards and wrap gently the excess cloth to cover the back of your plate. Fill the pot with half water and boil. Place the plate over the pot making sure it doesn’t touch the boiling water and is stable, reduce heat and steam for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Once done lift the cloth and place on your work top. Take off the plate using a pot holder and lift the cloth to spill the pittu on to a bowl or tray. If the mixture is perfectly cooked it will be firm and come out easily like a large idly with cracks. In case if you didn’t tap the plate or press the mixture together to level it, it might fall off into pieces as long as the color is changed and tastes cooked it is fine to serve. This pittu made on a plate is called plate pittu.

The utensil I used to make pittus which we call bamboo pittu.
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The pittu mixture once done would look like this
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A cooked pittu would look like
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Rice cakes.

Ingredients
Red/white raw rice roated/unroasted Flour 3 cups
Scraped coconut or dessicated coconut 1 cup
Salt 1 teaspoon
Tap water as required

Method
Add flour, scraped or dessicated coconut amd salt.
Mix by adding some water until tge mixture resembles flaked bread like shown in the picture above.
Once its perfectly mixed the raw flour smell with not be there so use you senses to identify the perfect texture.
Add into the pittu bamboo, a plate, idly moulds or just bundle into a cloth and steam.
It might take sometime depending on the utensil.
A pittu bamboo will take 15 minutes medium heat.
A Plate might take 15 minutes medium heat.
An idly pot time may vary depending on the size.
Bundling on a rice cooker might take 20 minutes or more as you keep the entire contents in one bundle.
Always use your own experience for perfect cooking times.
Bamboo pittus taste better than any others.
Use red or brown raw rice for a diabetic friendly meal.
Call these rice cakes if explaining pittu is tough.
For a healthier version grate and add some carrot, leeks and cabbages into the mixture and steam.

mafaza

Weekly Photo Challenge : Happy

Happiness is a very sensitive feeling that we all feel only at various stages in our lives. Those different stages in our life can be in many different sort of ways either by a relationship, gift, place or even a simple thing like an anonymous tweet.
Above pictures are some of which brings a smile filled with happiness in my life.
Books I love books and one of the happiest days is when I walk into a book store and walk out with a bag of my favorite authors book.
Design and architecture – I love traveling and visiting places that portray a unique interior. Many places I visited in Dubai has amazed me by the structure and design of the place/buildings.
Those visits gave me the happiness of visiting somewhere new and discovering the beauty of that place/building.
Every time I walk in to the fruits section at a supermarket I smile looking at the pomelos which is spread besides the oranges. the story behind my smile is the memory of happy Family get-togethers surrounded by my aunt, uncle and cousins with a plate of pomelo and some salt and chillie.
Shopping in Bangalore are memories that brings a smile filled with loads of happiness which are still fresh.

“Real Happiness lies in making others happy” is a saying which I often use and WordPress has done that by making me and everyone else happy by offering a great new way of displaying the photos in shapes (I like circles) with a lovely topic this week.

Like WordPress 😄

Burjuman World Food Festival 2012

Burjuman world food festival 2012 was held for 12 days. During the 12 days there were a series of workshops, masterclasses, cooking demonstrations, free food sampling and competitions. there was also a 5 day Burjuman junior chef competition where nearly 350 chefs from across the UAE participated under 14 different categories.

masterclasses gave participants a whole new experience bringing to reality the dream of home cooks with a golden opportunity to create a restaurant style signature dish along with a partner of their choice under the guidance of renowned chefs.

kids were also found happily decorating cup cakes. it was really a great joy to see kids walking pass the cup cake decorating stand playfully asking their dads for permission to join the session.

guess the ingredient competition with gifts for the winners gave the participants some fun and a whole new experience. food created by chefs were on display for the public during the junior chefs competition.

The festival is an annual event and I was glad to be there and discover.

I would like to share some pictures from the burjuman world food festival.