24 February 2015

Homemade buttercream icing and their consistencies


When you think of cakes especially your birthday cakes from childhood days,what is that one thing that makes you nostalgic and pops up instantly in your thoughts and something that made your every b'day extra special ?

 In my case,though my parents were not that much into celebrating our B'days by throwing party something but I have a few low key celebration moments to cherish and it was the unique B'day cakes that made my day sweet and special and what made them unique, well, the icing on the cake !!

When I was a kid, all I wanted was to finger lick the icing,that creamy texture made it irresistible and unstoppable...

When I grew up,it turned into a fantasy...it was as if the cake turned into a gorgeous looking bride embellished in white.....

As time went by and I started experimenting with store bought icings ,I realized ,it was an edible cake makeover.......

However,when I made the fresh homely icing,I realized it makes the cake tad extra special with a personal lovely touch that as they say, has the power to touch many lives around in a special tender sweet way....

Though I love baking ,I don't do it often as I lack the right company to savor them and so ,if I bake that entire cake, I can and I'll devour it within a few hours or a day max (No kidding!!).So,you see,it can be dangerous for me especially since my body acts like a magnet that attracts fats/calories instantly and possess the magical tendency to blow up like a balloon in no time.Yeah, I am strange in every way my dear friend!!!

So,I need to be cautious and bake occasionally and  because of that I may not have all the baking ingredients at home readily available every time.That exactly what happened, when I wanted to bake a cake for my friend and coat it with a lovely glob of icing.

Moreover ,I like to use homemade things mostly that are freshly made with no preservatives added.So , I've been trying to make homemade buttercream icing as well.I've tried different versions so far but this one is my go to butter cream icing .

So, this is how I make homemade buttercream icing,

Buttercream Icing 

(Stiff consistency)
Yields  1- 1 1/2 cup


3/4-1 cup unsalted butter,softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon whole milk
A big pinch of salt


In a large bowl, cream together butter,sugar and vanilla until well blended and creamy. Add in the milk & salt (adjust (more or less milk) to thin it out if desired) and salt is to balance the sweetness, and continue beating until light and fluffy. Keep icing covered until ready to use or keep it refrigerated for later.

1.If you are trying for the first time,first start creaming the butter alone until light and fluffy.Then add sugar (powdered sugar) little by little ,making sure the sweetness you desire is reached ,beat on medium speed until well blended.Then rest process.

2.For Pure White Icing (stiff consistency )instead of butter use 1/2 cup shortening ,add 1/2 teaspoon no color butter flavor to change the shortening taste and /or 1 teaspoon of CLEAR vanilla extract .To thin it for icing cakes ,you can use milk,water or even light corn syrup.

3.While beating the butter & sugar,beat at medium to high speed for couple of minutes to ensure maximum peak/well blended.

4.To make it more stiffer for making rose petals etc use 1--3 teaspoon of Meringue powder (which is made up of egg white and corn starch).It makes the frosting stiff and stable.

Now that my homemade buttercream icing is ready .We can use this icing for frosting the cake ,decorating the cake ,making cake pops etc in multitude ways.However,that depends upon the consistency of an icing .Yep,there are basically three types of icing consistencies which are used for different purposes in decorating the cake :

  1. Stiff consistency - The recipe above,place the icing in a cup and put a knife/spatula down into the center,when it stands stiff,the stiff consistency has reached which can be used to make rose petals especially.
  2. Medium consistency - Add 1 teaspoon of water/milk for each cup of stiff icing and mix well.Place it in a cup and put the knife or spatula all the way down into the center and the spatula will slightly lean ,that means medium consistency has reached.It is used to make designs like borders,shells,rosettes etc.
  3. Thin consistency - Add 2 teaspoon of water/milk for each cup of stiff icing and mix well.Place it in a cup,do the spatula test like above and the spatula will just fall to the side completely.This is the icing used for icing the cake or for writing etc.
Once you nail the basic icing recipe,the fun part is that you can convert it into different flavors of your choice like chocolate icing,lemon icing etc.You can just play with it and turn it into something extra ordinary of your choice and whip up something new every time.

No wonder ,why they emphasize the saying,"Icing on a cake"........ It is whipping whimsical ! :D

Eat,love,live DELICIOUSLY,

16 February 2015

Pav Bhaji Masala Powder|Spice mix


Pav Bhaji is a very famous North Indian fast food loved by Indians all over the world.It is one of those fast food that is not only quick to make but also quite healthy to eat.It can be enjoyed as a snack or as a meal in itself.Pav here means bread roll and bhaji means a mildly spicy vegetable curry made up of a potato-tomato gravy with a variety of vegetables thrown in and tossed in a glob of melting butter served with crunchy chopped onion,a dash of tarty lime juice ,handful of fresh cilantro leaves and served hot.IRRESTIBLE !!

However,what takes this fast food really to next level of drooling is the special blend of spices used ,known as "Pav Bhaji Masala".Though there are different versions of Pav Bhaji Masala,this spice mix can't be substituted with any garam masala or curry powder because by appearance Pav Bhaji may look all yummy and authentic but by taste it will undoubtedly fall apart.It is indeed the unique spice mix used, that brings out the genuine flavor of a pav bhaji in real sense.

This is my version which is inspired by my neighbor in India which I love it.

So,here is how I make my Pav Bhaji masala/powder :

Pav Bhaji Masala

Yields 4oz


Cumin seeds - 2-3 teaspoons
Coriander seeds - 2 tablespoons
Pepper - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric - 1 teaspoon
Black salt - 1 teaspoon
Fennel seeds - 1tablespoon
 Amchur powder - 1 teaspoon
Dry Red chillies - 7-10
Cardamom - 2-3 nos
Cloves - 4 nos.
Cinnamon - 2"
Javitri/Mace - 1-2 nos.(optional)

 Method: Do watch my 4 min video that will show you HOW!

Do store it in an air tight container.You can also use this spice mix for making Tawa pulao,or stir fry etc.It is a multi use spice blend just like garam masala but not as a substitute.

Eat,love,live DELICIOUSLY,

12 February 2015

Kerala Garam Masala |Kerala Spice mix


When I was little, I was the most naughtiest child,I was the one who used to climb our gate,trees etc and sometimes fell,bled but never quit.My neighbors loved me,pampered me and teased my parents saying,"Your son is calmer than your daughter...choti shaitaan hai ye toh...in fact this is your son" ..I even broke my front tooth after falling, when I was climbing onto the window like a monkey and jumped down on my face to accompany my dad to buy milk ...eventually, doctor somehow fixed my tooth by putting braces for a year...

Similarly,I used to climb up on kitchen counters to spy on kitchen shelves where mom would sometimes hide some snacks or other edible goodies ..Oh by the way,beside that was also a looong stick kept exclusively for me, to remind me that mom strictly believed in the saying,"Spare the rod,spoil the child."


 However,nothing stopped me from continuing my mischievous acts ...I used to check one by one cans and bottles that were not made up of glasses which always intrigued my curiosity .... sometimes mom didn't mind me in the kitchen as she thought, that's nice, as a girl should be familiar with kitchen,cooking etc....But then there was this one small can made up of ceramic,"Bharani" that she would not allow me to open by hook or by crook ...she called it her "Magic powder"...And it remained mystery for me for a while up until....I grew up to be a "Real girl"....from a tom boy to a very coy girl.....

When I started helping mom in the kitchen (well,pretending..) ...mom ultimately revealed ,the secret about here magic powder...it was nothing but her "Garam Masala",that she always made fresh and used fresh as fast as she can.....She emphasized,"The more air gets inside the spice mix/garam masala powder ,more speedily the flavor may deplete and consequently, affects the taste of the curries."


Though I didn't get the wisdom behind her explanation then,I realized how true it was when after coming to US,I started buying garam masala powders and every time I used a new one, the taste used to be different and not only that ,I didn't even store it properly and yes ,it affected the flavor of curry accordingly.

Once I made the homemade garam masala,I realized ,a garam masala can make or break a curry because garam masalas differ from places to places in India,even house to house,person to person....there is north Indian Garam Masala and then there is South Indian Garam Masala which can render different flavors to a same curry....but no matter what you use,when it is homemade, the spices become extraordinary .

This is my mom's version of simple Garam Masala and this is how I make Kerala Garam Masala.....

Kerala Garam Masala 

(Yields - 1/4 cup)


Cloves - 1 tablespoon
Cardamoms - 1 tablespoon
Cinnamom - 1 stick
Star Anise - 1 no.
Fennel seeds  - 1 teaspoon
Pepper - 1 teaspoon (optional)

Method : Please watch my 2 minute video ,this will show you clearly how to roast it properly and how to get a fine powder.

  1. Dry roasting spices helps in releasing the natural oil in the whole spices and which further enhances the taste,aroma and potency and accentuates the flavor of a food to the next level.
  2. The exact time to roast depends upon the pan used like thick pan may take some more time and thinner may take less time ,then the quantity of spices used and the heat used to dry roast it.
  3. Always preheat the pan on high flame and then lower the heat to dry roast and keep on stirring otherwise if it takes longer time than needed, it may burn and turn the spices to bitter taste ,so always keep an eye when the spices may crackle or change color and exude strong aroma.That's when you've to stop.
  4. While using a thick pan,it may take only 30 seconds to 1 minute to dry roast after preheating.Thinner pans require additional caution.
  5. Always store it in an airtight container .It's better to make in smaller quantity as the potency of these spices tends to decrease with time.The fresher it is used,more flavorful and fresh curry etc will taste. 

Once you master how to make homemade garam masala, you will never go back to store bought ones.When you will use it for curries ,you will feel the difference it makes -it will scream ,"It is home made and mom made" and the reason my mom called it her magic powder ,it turned every ordinary curry to extraordinary...homely yet magical !!

Eat,love,live deliciously

07 February 2015

How to make a cake on stove top without oven


They say,"Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together' . Well said !! Because that's exactly what happened when one day I rolled up my sleeves with excitement to bake a cake ,whipped up the batter and I TOTALLY FORGOT THAT MY OVEN HAD SOME ISSUES THE OTHER DAY AND IT'S NOT WORKING !!! ...I stood there speechless ,my mind froze for a while...

However,the cooking crazy scientist in me thought of taking it as an interesting challenge to try some magic..A food magic ....I refreshed my basic science lessons behind baking and came up with an action plan to make a cake on stove top in a way that no one has done before.

One of the moist cake I ever baked...

I was not sure initially if  my plan will pay off but I made up my mind and heart to stick through whatsoever.My trash can was smirking at me.....I prayed every God I know-Ram,Rahim,Jesus,you name it wholeheartedly...and fingers crossed and touched wood at times :D...and guess what my prayers got answered and my fingers gave me a thumps up...Yes..."IT WORKED OUT LIKE A CHARM"!! 

No wonder why Julia Child said,"BE FEARLESS!!"....:)

Do you know what I used to make a cake on stove top - "MY PIZZA PAN"....Believe it or not .The trick is to use a pan with holes that allows even heat distribution all around the pan and ensures baking.

So, I decided one day to patent :P my eureka moment  of trial-to-triumph baking this cake by making a video ...so here it is....:)....  

This is how I made a cake without oven on stove-top using "PIZZA PAN" - The ingredient list and method are in the video...:) REST , Seeing is believing !! (my mom would never believe it for sure otherwise:P...exclusively for her :D)

Call me a self-bragger, but I felt on top of the world because once upon a time, to bake a cake in oven was a BIIIIIIG deal for me..my oven was fed up of all disasters and tortures.....finally looks like not anymore :)...And yes,this was one of the moist-est cake I ever baked !!

And that's how my food magic show   aka Youtube channel began......................Do subscribe !Thx.

Eat,love,live deliciously,

04 February 2015

Restaurant style Apollo fish fry recipe


"A small step for me and a giant step for the mankind (family at home :P)!!" Does that ring a bell ? Did that take you out of space ,landed you in moon ? ...Well,it did for me ! When my hubby said one day ,"Today I'll take you out for an Apollo mission."

I was like ...Oh how romantic!!!..Usually Bollywood heroes would brag to bring down stars and moons for their beloved (remember that Hindi movie song- chaand taarein tod laoon.....),here I've a romantic better 1/2 who wants me to take directly to moon...Needless to say,I turned pink without any blush Shy Girl Hands...(I know we are crazy couple!!)

But then my curious mind started working In Deep Thought ...thought that sounds too good to be true...without even asking him anything to clarify, he blurted out,probably after seeing my expression like a statue...."I meant Apollo fish...Let's eat Apollo fish today." ;)


 Since after coming to USA (during initial days),I was still learning all the English names of fish ,when I already was struggling with the Malayalam names of the fish ,I thought Apollo was nothing but the name of a fish !Bright Idea

 On the way to the restaurant,my hubby couldn't stop himself raving about how spicy and one of a kind dish it was . My idle brain started working real hard and thought no wonder why this is called Apollo,it sounds so out of the world....Pondering and Thinking

Since I was silent, my hubby guessed sommmething was wrong with me...he knew how sharp my brain was ..He said,"My dear,Apollo fish is not from moon or related but in fact a famous dish from Hyderabad ",though he had no clue why it was called "Apollo" fish...."It was an exclusive seafood item prepared in Hyderabad,favorite of all spicy food lovers and famous in bars especially,"He said.....That literally brought tsunami in my mouth (I love spicy foods) :D...


When the Apollo fish was served,it already looked red and fiery ! ....The moment I bit into one piece ,I was totally out of this space not in moon may be in mars .Confused.Man,so spicy,so flavorful ,so red what a kick !! Whatever I ate after that became tasteless automatically...it became one of my favorite seafood dish,which I wanted to recreate at home ASAP....I checked every video in youtube and Vahchef's too,,consulted my Andhra friends and took the best of all that would be apt to our spicy taste buds and came out with this very version which was pretty much close to the one we ate at Paradise restaurant.


So, Apollo fish fry is an Andhra special /Hyderbadi seafood appetizer ,where small fish chunks are dipped in a spicy marination ,deep fried and covered with spicy seasoning.

Here is how I made restaurant style Apollo fish at home...

 Apollo Fish Fry recipe


Salmon fillets boneless  ,cut into bite size - 10-12 nos.
Green chili slit -6 nos.
Oil for deep frying

For marination:
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Red chilli powder - 2 teaspoons
Coriander powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Pepper powder - 1 teaspoon
Fennel powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Garam Masala - 1/4
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 teaspoon
All purpose flour/Maida - 2 tablespoon
Corn flour - 1 tablespoon
Yogurt/Curd - 1-2 tablespoons(optional)
Lemon juice -1 tablespoon
Egg ,beaten - 1 no.
Salt to taste

For seasoning:
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Red chilli paste/sauce/Siracha hot chilli sauce - 1/2 cup
Slit green chilly - 6-7 nos
Curry leaves a few



  • Clean the salmon fillet under water and cut them into bite size pieces.
  • In a bowl,add everything under "Marination" above and mix well.
  • Now add a few green chilly and the salmon pieces one by one into the marination and coat every piece well .Keep it aside in the refrigerator for 15 minutes approx so that the flavor soaks into the fish.
  • Heat oil in a pan and put a drop of batter into it ,when the drop surfaces on the top quickly that means oil is ready for deep frying.At this point,reduce the flame to medium-low.Fry two three marinated fish pieces without overcrowding .
  • Meanwhile heat oil in a pan ,season it with curry leaves and slit green chilly.
  • Add the red chilly paste/red sauce.
  • Now add the fried fish pieces to it and toss it with the seasoning.
  • Serve hot.
  • Use any thick fish that won't break while frying.Taste may vary according to the fish used.
  • The pieces should be approx 1-2 inch thick.Square shaped or strips .
  • Adjust the red chilly powder,chili paste,green chillies as per your preferred spice level.
  • If you want more kick you can also add chopped ginger-garlic while seasoning.You can also add hot sauce later. 
  Doesn't that look lip-smacking ? Though the name of the fish and its origin is still a mystery and "fishy" ,the taste undoubtedly is out of the world and may land one in moon or mars....What do you think? Wink wink.....

Eat,Love,Live deliciously,