Hi, with something sweet

sugar donuts with coffee glaze

I know I know….you can hear a pin drop here. That’s how silent I’ve been for the last month and a half.

But, to justify, I wasn’t well really and until last week it was taking me five minutes flat to walk from one room to the other.

A bad tummy, sky-high fever and heavy doses of antibiotics for fifteen days can do that to me. The good thing that came out of it is that I’m back home to recover and rest…prescribed by the Doctor! Anyway, I’m not allowed street-food (imagine that!) and now I’m strong enough to stand, long enough to deep-fry donuts. Oh, and I’m ready to bite someone…anyone, considering the fact that I’ve been cooped up in the house for the last three weeks!

And Kolkata is currently drowning in its own monsoon. As is Mumbai. Gray mornings, chilly evenings, the steady sound of rain and the occasional thunder rumbling by. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! No wonder monsoon’s my favorite season. I’m trying not to think of muddy puddles, damp clothes and traffic jam.

It almost feels like winter in a way….I could curl up in a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate. Although winter doesn’t come with the uncontrollable urge to make paper boats and watch them sail away on the larger water puddles, wobbling from one side to the other!

Donuts seemed like nice and sweet things to say “hi” with after all this time. I’ve always found them to be a mood-lifter somehow. I spent 1st January this year munching on one (after rounds of “new year” hugs) smothered in chocolate, from Barista. But then, I have to admit, it never actually crossed my mind to whip up a batch. And even though I’ve been craving them for the last 3-4 weeks…yes, that long…I was a little apprehensive, mostly because the prospect of deep-frying anything makes me nervous. Yes, I’m one of those women who blow up an inch, every time they look at something deep-fried…nothing new there.

The sugar sprinkles make all the difference really

I also whipped up a creamy coffee-glaze to go along with the donuts which, to my mild surprise, turned out nicely crisp on the outside and light and airy inside.

Mild surprise, because I’m famous for not following recipes. Or twisting them somehow or the other. And then end up in a mess most of the time, but that’s another story.

This one I grabbed from Gourmet Magazine. The first batch turned out slightly deflated, so I increase the amount of baking soda and baking powder in the dough for the second batch. And magic. There was none left to photograph. You’ll have to be satisfied with the photos of the “deflated” ones.

The garam masala adds a very earthy tone to the otherwise vanilla-flavored donuts. But too much of it may bitter out and turn too strong. Use with caution and discard if you prefer using just cinnamon and nutmeg.

Donuts

Recipe adapted (and tweaked) from Gourmet magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (if garam masala’s too strong for your taste, use a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups vegetable oil, to deep-fry (I used groundnut)
How-to:
  • Cream the butter with sugar till soft and fluffy. Add the egg and beat in well. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, garam masala (or cinnamon and nutmeg) together.
  • Add the flour mixture and yogurt alternatively, into the butter-sugar mixture to form the dough. A sticky, but workable dough.
  • Take the dough out on a well-floured work surface and knead it till it just comes together. Roll it out to a 1/3 inch thickness.
  • Cut the donut shapes out with either a donut cutter or just a sharp-edged bowl and a bottlecap.
  • Heat the oil in a deep-bottomed pan or skillet till it reaches a temperature of 375 degree F.
  • Fry the donuts in batches of 6 or 7, flipping them once, till golden brown. The first side takes about a minute and the second about 30-45 seconds. Be careful to maintain the temperature. Too hot and the donuts will come out well-browned!
  • Take them out and drain the excess oil.
  • Dredge them through icing sugar or add any glaze/icing of your choice. Chocolate, coffee-glaze, jam works well.
The doughnuts (unglazed/un-dredged) can be reheated on a baking sheet in a preheated 250°F oven 10 to 15 minutes.
The coffee glaze was a no-brainer really. Just a 30 ml espresso shot stirred well into 200 ml of sweetened condensed milk.

Cookies and Bandhani

I’ve been obsessed with my mother’s closet since I don’t remember when.

Its weird if you think about it – I’m a full-grown twenty-three (almost twenty-four) year old woman who can cook and housekeep like an expert (at least, by now I can), but I still cannot resist rummaging through my Mum’s dressing table or try on her saris, whenever I get a chance.

I know, I need help.

Anyway, while my dark chocolate & walnut cookies were baking, I pulled out all Ma’s old dupattas. Cottons, silks, chiffons, crepes, lace and what not…she even had one in a ‘fishnetty’ lycra material.

OK.

Most of them have faded and some have huge holes in them and some are torn in half, literally. But what caught my eye was this hot pink bandhani-work dupatta, which was surprisingly intact, kept twisted properly and not the slightest bit faded. The color just popped and said “HI!” to me!

For all who’re wondering what on earth is “bandhani” – bandhani work is a type of tie-dyeing art particular to Gujarat and Rajasthan, India.

As for the cookies – well, they’ve got chocolate, walnuts and honey in them.

What You Need –

1 and a half cups regular, all-purpose flour

– 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder (Dutch is preferable, but any good quality cocoa powder would do)

– Half cup of walnuts, chopped coarsely

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 3/4 tsp baking soda

– 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

– 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

– 3 tablespoons of honey

– 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

– 2 large eggs

How-To:

– Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Prepare cookie sheets.

-Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda together.

– Cream the butter with sugar till smooth and fluffy.

– Add the eggs one at a time beating continuously. Add the vanilla essence and honey.

– Add in the dry ingredients an stir to make a creamy batter.

– Add in the chopped walnuts and mix well.

– Spoon out the batter (1 tablespoon for each cookie) onto the sheets leaving enough gap between each lump.

– Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes. Cool the cookies on cooling racks and serve with…uh milk? I prefer vanilla ice-cream though.

Sugar-Kissed Goodness

I am currently completely hooked on to Cafe Coffee Day’s Cookies. They have a range of Chocolate Chip, Honey & Oatmeal, and “Completely Eggless!” ones in pretty brown and yellow tins. Super fattening and not cheap.

My kind of food, ye-ah!

Anyway, my brother and I managed to polish off the last of the cookies yesterday and two hours later I was already craving for more. So…I watched some television, got some butter and eggs home-delivered and…made cookies! The generous amount of cinnamon in these warms up your throat and the raisins add chewyness.

These cookies remind me of college, when we’d try out sugar-cookie recipes at Adi’s place with a microwave (they used to turn out super-soggy) and make spinach & feta dim sums (a watery lot) with the help of an old idli steamer.

Cookie batter:

– 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

– 1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

– 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

– 2 teaspoons cornstarch

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

– 2/3 cup granulated sugar

– 1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon

– 3 teaspoons finely chopped raisins

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

– 2 eggs

– 2 teaspoons honey

Mix the butter and sugar well till the mixture turns almost white…almost. Add the eggs and beat well.

Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add the butter-egg mixture in. Add honey and stir hard. I like my cookies to be lumpy, but for a smoother batter you could pop it into the processor. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Spoon out dollops of batter on a greased baking tin, leaving enough space between each dollop to allow them to spread. Bake for 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 350° C. Cool on a wire rack and sprinkle generously with icing sugar.