Dundee cake is a famous traditional Scottish fruit cake with a rich flavour. It was first commercially developed in Dundee on the Scottish east coast in the early 1800s, but the cake has roots more than 350 years ago. Today, Dundee cake remains one of the most popular Scottish food and drink specialties. It is said that the cake was originally made for Mary Queen of Scots in the 16th century. Legend has it that she didn’t like cherries, which were traditional in fruit cakes at the time. Local bakers made a version with almonds instead of cherries, decorating the top in a beautiful fashion with concentric circles of almonds. It became a Dundee favourite, hand baked by those wanting to serve up the finest cake with luxurious, rich ingredients. This happened in the early nineteenth century, and the cake soon spread to other bakeries across Scotland.
    This cake is stuffed with dry fruits, lots of almonds and glazed cherries and coated with a sweet glaze. I stuffed my dundee cake with dates, figs, raisins, lots of almonds and cherries. Dundee cake is often sweetened with some jam or preserve and flavoured with some allspice or a mixture of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg powder. 
     I didn't decorate the top in traditional manner but in flower form with halved almonds and cherries.

You Need ::
All-purpose Flour : 2 and 1/4 cup
White/brown sugar : 1 and 1/4 cup(powdered)
Eggs : 3
Warm Milk : 2/3 cup(as needed to make the batter)
Butter(unsalted) : 1/2 cup
Oil : 1/4 cup
Apricot/orange jam : 3-4 tblsp.
Baking Powder : 1 tsp.
Almonds : 150 gms. (approx.)
Raisin : 1/2 cup
Dates : 7-8 nos.(chopped)
Figs : 7-8 nos. (chopped)
Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
Cherries : 6-7 nos.(chopped) + 4-5 (for decoration, if doing the flower decoration like mine)
Spice Powders : 1 tblsp. (ground spice mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon & cloves) 

Milk : 1 tblsp.
Sugar : 1 tsp.

How To :: 

Process to Peel off the skin of almonds :
  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil.
  2. Place your raw almonds into the boiling water.
  3. Drain the almonds immediately in a colander or strainer and rinse them with cold water to cool them.
  4. Blot the almonds dry with a paper towel.
  5. Use your fingers to gently squeeze the almonds and loosen the skin from them. This is the easiest way to peel off the skin of almonds.
How to Bake the cake :
  • After peeling off the skin, chop about 10-15 almonds in small cubes and cut into halves from rest of the almonds.
  • Put the butter in a large bowl and beat well until soft. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, one at a time, beating well between each addition.  Add oil in the batter and mix well. Stir in the orange and lemon zest and apricot jam. 
  • In another bowl, sieve together the flour and baking powder. In the same bowl, add all the dry fruits, chopped almonds, cherries and spice powders. Mix well everything. Now pour this flour mixture slowly into the butter-sugar-egg batter little at a time. Beat in between to mix well. Add in milk as much needed to make a creamy batter. Beat in high speed for couple of minutes and our dundee cake batter is ready.
  • Preheat your oven to 180 degree C. Grease your baking pan well and pour the batter into greased baking pan. Label the top with a spatula. Now decorate the cake with halved almonds and cherry. I arranged them in flower pattern for a change and placed a half cherry in the center of each flower. You can arrange the almonds in traditional manner also, arrange the whole almonds close together in neat circles on the top of the cake. (see pic below)
  • Place the pan in the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake, comes out with little crumbs. After 45 minutes of baking, remove the cake from the oven, put the milk and sugar into a small pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Brush over the top of the cake and return the cake to the oven for another 5 mins. Checking Guidelines ----- When it’s done it should have just a few crumbs attached. It’s important not to overcook this cake so the center will be a little soft. 
  • Remove and allow the cake to cool in the tin. Rest the cake for at least 4-5 hours before cutting.

Sending this Christmas special fruit cake to Kolkata Food Blogger's Christmas Baking event 

   Pasanda is a popular North Indian and Pakistani dish, derived from a dish served in the court of Mughal Emperors. The Word "pasanda" in Urdu/Hindi means "favorite", traditionally made with lean meat of Lamb. But nowadays this dish is made using Chicken, Prawn and also with Paneer in restaurants. It is basically a creamy and mildly spiced gravy made with pureed onion, tomato and cashewnut paste.

   I wanted to try pasanda recipe for long. This Pasanda recipe I found on Chef Sanjeev Kapoor's website which is made using paneer. As it was my first try, I also went ahead with paneer. I found it a really interesting dish which has creamy gravy made with onion, tomato and cashewnut along with some roasted spices.
   Do give it a try for any special occassion at your home and surprise your guests. Let's move on to the recipe............

You Need :

Paneer Cubes : 300 gms.
Tomato : 3, medium
Onion : 2, medium, finely chopped
Ginger-garlic paste : 2 tblsp.
Cashewnut : 10-12 nos.
Sugar : 1 tsp.
Salt to taste
Oil : 2 tbslp.
Fresh Cream : 1 tblsp.
Fresh coriander leaves to garnish

Spices to be grind :
Dry red Chilli : 1-2
Cumin seed : 1 tsp.
Coriander seeds : 1 tblsp.
Cloves : 2
Cinnamon : 1 inch stick
Poppy seeds/khuskhus : 1 tblsp.
Grated Coconut : 2 tblsp.
Sunflower or Melon seeds : 1 tblsp.

How To :
  • Heat sufficient oil in a kadai and saute the cottage cheese/paneer cubes till light golden. Drain onto an absorbent paper and set aside. Also fry cashewnuts in the same oil till light golden. 
  •  On a hot tawa/pan, dry roast red chillies along with poppy seeds, coconut, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, sunflower seeds, cloves and cinnamon. Now in a wet-grinder, take chopped onion, fried cashewnuts and all the roasted spices and grind to a paste using a little water. Also puree 3 tomatoes separately.
  • Heat 2 tblsp. oil in a pan, add the ground paste and fry for 4-5 minutes till you get a nice aroma or oil leaves the masala. Add tomato puree, sugar, salt and half cup of water. Add the fried cottage cheese and cook further on low heat till gravy thickens. Remove from heat.
  • Lastly stir in the fresh cream and garnish with fresh coriander leaves
  • Serve hot.

Enjoy this creamy Paneer dish with Pulao or any kind of Indian Bread like paratha, Naan or Roti. 

      Chettinad cuisine is the cuisine of a community called the Nattukotai Chettiars,
 or Nagarathars as they call themselves, from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu state in South India. Chettinad cuisine is perhaps the most renowned fare in the Tamil Nadu. It uses a variety of spices and the dishes are made with fresh ground masalas. Chettiars also use a variety of sun dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the dry environment of the region. Most of the dishes are eaten with rice and rice based accompaniments such as dosais, appams, idiyappams, adais and idlis.
       The Chettiars have traditionally been vegetarians. Their feasts at lifestyle ritual functions remain vegetarian. But trade once had them criss-crossing the southern reaches of peninsular India and absorbing non-vegetarian influences from the Malabar Coast, where Christians of the Orthodoxy of West Asia and Muslims lived in large numbers and Hindus too tended to non-vegetarianism. Further non-vegetarian influences became entrenched in Chettiar food habits from the late 18th Century after they established businesses in Ceylon, Burma, the Dutch East Indies, French Indo-China and what is now Malaysia and Singapore. So did non-vegetarian fare from other parts of India through which they traveled en route to their overseas businesses. In Chettinad food, major spices used include star anise, lichen, tamarind, chillies, fennel seed, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, peppercorn, cumin seeds, and fenugreek.

The spice rack of Chettinad Cuisine at The Gateway

         Are you curious why I'm saying you about Chettinad cuisine? Yes, because You can taste this exquisite cuisine at the Buzz, the multi-cuisine restaurant of Gateway near Ruby Hospital, on EM Bypass, Kolkata. The Gateway Hotel who has a legacy of venturing off-beat yet popular cuisines of not only India but Global Cuisine, continues its quest towards the South of India, the very famous Chettinad Cuisine and Kolkata Food Bloggers got the invitation to attend the festival, me and another KFbian Sayantani Mahapatra were present there to preview the amazing spread at The Gateway.  
       Authentic dishes from Chettinad cuisines, like, Chicken Chettinad, Mutton Sukka, Chettinad chicken/mutton/fish/vegetable biriyanis, Kotthu Paratha, Idiappams, lemon and coconut rice, Chicken 65, all sorts of bajjis and vadais, Plain Dosa and Kari Dosa, in desserts Ada Pradanam and Paal Paniyaram ----- all are there to mesmerize your taste bud, and also there is the special Kumbakonam Degree Coffee to complement all these delicacies at the end of a lavish meal.
Master Chef T. Jabaraj from The Gateway Hotel Chennai who has been appreciated by several national celebrities is executing this festival with House Executive Chef Ashis Roy.

Here are some of the dishes they served us to preview but there are plenty others in the menu .....

1. Beverage :
 Rasatini(Chiiled Rasam with Vodka), Jigar Thanda(cold milk with badam, pisin, cream, sabja with ice-cream) and Neer Moru(buttermilk made with curd) are in the list of Beverages.

2. Soup :
Neerkai Rasam( made with gooseberries and toor dal) and Kozhi melagu Saaru(chicken soup made with South-Indian spices) are there to choose in Soup.

3. Appetizers :
All sorts of Bajjis and vadais, Dosa, Kari Dosa, Banana flower bajji, Chicken 65, Prawn Fry, Fish Fry are there to choose from huge lists of appetizers.

Non-Veg. Appetizers 
 Veg. Appetizer
4. Main Course :
There are plenty of side dishes are there to combine with Lemon and Coconut rice like, in Veg, Cauliflower mushroom dry preperation with vechhu paratha, Mixed vegetable with chettinad masala, Paneer and green peas with cream coconut curry, dry roasted potato with spicy masala gravy, Vegetable stew. In Non-veg, chicken cheetinad curry, Mutton sukka, Fish made with roasted and ground coconut paste, chicken stew, deep-fried lamb meat fritters, Kotthu paratha which is a popular street food of South India with all sorts of fillings to serve. And not to forget Chettinad Biriyanis with fish, chicken, mutton and vegetable options.
Non-Veg. main course
 Veg. Main Course

5. Dessert :
Famous desserts of Chettiars are there to satisfy your sweet craving at end of your meal, like Ada Pradanam, Paruppu Payasam, Paal paniyaram are there in the list of desserts.

Hot Beverage :
Finally, after this remarkable feast, drink this popular Kumbakonam Degree Coffee served in traditional manner in a small brass glass and you are sure to relaxed and comfortable.

    A Steward is mixing the sugar and coffee in front of the guests. The coffee was a complete stress-reliever.

       There are plenty of options for both Veg and Non-Veg. people. You won't be disappoint there and I'm sure those delicacies will satisfy your taste bud to the fullest. This festival will go on till 27th of November,'16 and it is on for lunch and dinner. The dishes are not a buffet but a-la-carte, priced around 1000+taxes for two person.

Me with fellow KFBian and with other bloggers at the Chettinad food Festival at Buzz, the multicuisine restaurant of The Gateway.

      Pound cake believed to be a northern European dish, that dates back to the early 1700s. The name "pound" was given to this cake because the original recipes contained One pound each of butter, sugar, egg and flour and the result was always a softest textured crumbly cake which will melt in your mouth in no time. But nowadays, this proportion is not strictly followed because of health reasons, but still it has to have a fair amount of butter and eggs to get a soft, moist and crumbly texture with a lovely golden brown crust.

      There are numerous variations of the traditional pound cake, with certain countries and regions having distinctive styles. These can include the addition of flavouring agents, such as vanilla to make a vanilla pound cake, lemon extract to make a lemon flavoured pound cake or orange extract to make Orange Pound cake and so on.

      Though I have tried a pound cake using buttermilk Pound cake which gave an excellent result, I wanted to try the traditional way of making Pound cake and I have tried this recipe from Joy of Baking, where she has not used the usual way of mixing ingredients, but some "one bowl" or "quick method" way(also known as "dump cake" method), where we mix all the dry ingredients first, then add butter and egg mixture and then cream the batter. This method of mixing reduces the gluten formation in the flour and gives more softer and more tender texture. But one thing you have to remember while following this method is to have all the ingredients in room temperature and and have to follow the exact instruction of mixing. Pound cakes are usually made in bundt pan or in a loaf pan.

You Need : [makes a 9" or medium size cake]
All purpose Flour(APF) : 1 and 1/2 cup
Eggs : 3
Butter(unsalted) : 3/4 - 1 cup(more the better)
Sugar : 3/4 cup
Milk : 3-4 table spoons
Baking Powder : 1 tsp.
Salt : 1/4 tsp.
Vanilla extract : 1 and 1/2 tsp.
Almond slivers to garnish: A handful

How To :
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree C. Grease your baking pan with butter or spray, sprinkle with some flour and dust off excess flour from the pan. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients - eggs, milk and vanilla extract.
  • In another big mixing bowl, take all your dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, powdered sugar (I always powder the sugar in my dry grinder and then mix in batter) and salt. mix them all for 30 seconds. Add the butter and half of the egg mixture. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened.
  • Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for one minute to aerate the batter. Gradually add the remaining egg mixture, in 2 additions, beating about 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the egg and strengthen the cake's structure. The batter should be creamy texture.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and carefully pour into your prepared baking pan. Smooth the top with a back of a spatula and carefully sprinkle some slivered almonds on top.
  • Place the pan in the middle rack of your preheated oven and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake, comes out clean. 
  • When done, remove the pan from the oven and place on wire rack and cool for 10-15 minutes. Then remove from pan and cool completely.

       As this cake is quite rich in eggs and butter, but this can be made for any celebration once in a while or it's a perfect accompaniment with your evening tea or coffee or for a friend's meet up. As holiday season is coming, try to make this cake for your family and enjoy this melt-in-the-mouth cake with your whole family. Your family will love it for sure.

  Beans and lentils are an integral part of Indian diet. Being a great source of Protein and other vitamins, I just like other Indian families, incorporate lentil almost everyday in some ways. Nutty and earthy in flavor, lentils have a huge nutritional value and provides our body a huge amounts of benefits. If you havn't include it in your diet yet, then read below the benefits it provides to our body. 

The 7 most distinguished health benefits of lentils are :

1. Lowers Your Cholesterol : Lentils help to reduce blood cholesterol since it contains high levels of soluble fiber which reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
2. Makes Your Heart healthy : High fiber foods like lentils reduces your risk of heart disease. Lentils are also a great source of folate and magnesium, which are big contributors to heart health. Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
3. Helps in Digestion : Insoluble dietary fiber found in lentils helps prevent constipation and other digestive disorders.
4. Stabilizes Blood Sugar : Adding to the many benefits of fiber, soluble fiber traps carbohydrates, slowing down digestion and stabilizing blood sugar levels. This can be especially helpful for those with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.
5. Source of Good Protein : Of all legumes and nuts, lentils contain the third-highest levels of protein. 26 percent of lentil’s calories are attributed to protein, which makes them a wonderful source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
6. Increases Energy : Lentils increase steady, slow-burning energy due its fiber and complex carbohydrates. Lentils are also a good source of iron, which transports oxygen throughout the body and is key to energy production and metabolism.
7. Weight Loss : Although lentils include all these beneficial nutrients like fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins, they are still low in calories and contain virtually no fat. One cup of cooked lentils only contains about 230 calories, but still leaves you feeling full and satisfied.

              Masoor Dal or Red lentil

Though these are the basic benefits lentils have, but not all the lentils have the same nutritional elements. So it's always better to study about the food before you incorporate it in your diet according to your health status. 
Today I'll share a Bengali lentil recipe which is very beloved to me. And this is my most favorite dal/lentil recipe, too. This is an absolute comfort food for me. Comfort food in the sense that this dal gives me immense pleasure to my soul. I prepare this dal quite often but as I will definitely make this dal when I am home after a tiring day or after a long vacation.
This dal is called "Tomato Dal" and for this, we use red lentil or Masoor dal. Here red lentil is cooked with lots of seasoned red tomatoes. Usually, this dal is made during winter when seasoned best tomatoes are available. But because nowadays tomatoes are available throughout the year, I make this dal often in my kitchen. It's very easy-to-make but tastes divine with a bowl of hot rice. I just need hot boiled potato(aloo sedhho)/mashed potatoes to go with it and some fried papads. These papads/appalams are very special to me as my blogger buddy, Deepasri of Hamaree Rasoi has brought these for me from Chennai and I enjoyed them with this hot bowl of freshly made Tomato dal. Just divine, try this to believe me..............

You Need :
Red Lentil/Masoor dal : 1/2 cup
Tomatoes : 2, cut into bug chunks
Dry red chilli : 1
Mustard seed/rai/Sorshe : 1 tsp.
Green Chilli : 1-2 nos.
Turmeric Powder : 1 tsp.
Salt to taste
Oil : 1-2 tsp.

How To :
  • Clean and wash the lentil at least 2-3 times. In a big saucepan, take about 2 cups of water and add the lentil. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tsp. turmeric powder. Add green chillies and tomatoes. Bring it to boil and then reduce the flame to low. The red lentil takes very less time to cook. While the lentil is cooking, something little foam appears on the upper surface, remove the foam carefully with a ladle. When lentils and tomatoes are cooked, remove from heat and with a wire masher, mash the lentil slightly with the water, take care not to mash the tomatoes completely. 
  • Heat oil in a pan, temper with a dry red chilli broken into 2 and mustard seed. When the mustard seed crackle, pour the boiled dal or lentil into the pan. Then again in medium heat, let it cook for 4-5 minutes to incorporate the seasoning into the dal/lentil. Season with salt. 
  • Your Tomato dal is ready to enjoy with steaming hot rice and a fried papad.

This comfort food of mine is going to take part in Kolkata Food Blogger's
ongoing event, "Comfort Food" and we are featuring one of our fellow member of KFB and an awesome food blogger, Sayantani of A Homemaker's Diary where she shares traditional Bengali dishes, almost lost bengali dishes, other regional Indian recipes and excellently creative baked goodies by her home bakery. 

      Kali Puja, is another major festival for the people of Bengal. Just after nineteen days of the completion of the Durga Puja, the city again geared up with the same enthusiasm to celebrate another popular festival, the Kali Puja. When rest of the India worships Goddess Lakshmi on the occasion of Diwali/Deepavali, in Bengal Goddess Kali is the chief deity for the occasion of Deepavali, the festival of lights. Kali Puja is celebrated on the Amavasya or the no moon night in the Hindu month of Kartik (October/November). This date of Kali Pooja coincides with Diwali, the North Indian New Year or
 the Festivals of Lights.
      Just as people in North India light lamps to welcome Goddess Lakshmi in their houses, people in West Bengal celebrate Kali Puja by lighting lamps in honor of Goddess Kali. Houses are decorated with lamps. Kali Puja is carried out in the late evening. Nobody sleeps at that night and takes blessings from Maa Kali. The main purpose of the puja is to seek the help of the goddess in destroying all evil. The most popular event during Kali Puja is the burning of crackers. Children as well as adults set off to fire the crackers. The whole city is decorated with lights.

    After two days of kali Puja, another festival that is very dear to bengalis, is Bhai Phota or Bhai Duj in North India. Bhai Phota is a festival that strengthens the beautiful bond of love and affection between a brother and a sister. Sisters' fast all morning till the ritual is completed. Married sisters' invite their brothers to their houses. In Bhai Phota, the phota or the tilak applied on brother's forehead is made of ghee, sandalwood (chandan) paste and kaajal. The elder of the brother and sister gives the younger ones rice and durba or grass because Rice is a symbol of plenty and the evergreen Durba is symbolic of longevity. Sisters apply ‘Phota’ or ‘tilak’ on their brother’s forehead with the little finger of her left hand with the chanting of mantras. Then sisters offer sweets and gifts to their brothers and pray for the long and prosperous life of their brothers. Brothers also promise their sisters to protect them from all hardship in their lives. Brothers also pamper their sisters with lots of gifts. It ends with lots of good food and having a good time with relatives and family members.
   And when there is so much celebration, there has to be a sweet or dessert for so sweet occassion. I'll share a quick sweet recipe which can be made within an hour from preperation to finish and there won't be anyone in this World who won't love the taste of this sweet. Coconut and mawa burfi is one such sweet which is loved by all and a very popular sweet during this festival of lights and Bhai Duj.

You Need :
Coconut(freshly grated) : 11/2 cup
Khoya/Mawa : 3/4 cup (in room temperature)
Sugar : 1/2 cup, use as per your sweet tooth
Mixed Nuts(cashews, almonds, Pistachios) : 1/2 cup
cardamom powder : 1 tsp.
Ghee/butter : 1 tblsp.
Grated coconut : 1 tblsp. + chopped Pistachio : 1 tblsp. (For Garnish)

How To :
  • Take fresh coconut and grate as fine as possible. Mawa or Khoya should be in room temperature. Crumble it and keep aside. Chop the nuts and make a fresh crushed cardamom powder from the black seeds of green cardamoms. 
  • Now heat 1 tblsp. of ghee in a pan and add grated coconut. Stir continuously otherwise coconut will change its color and coconut should not change its color. Lower the flame and stir the coconut for 2-3 minutes. Then add the sugar and again in medium flame, stir the sugar and coconut mixture till sugar melts completely. 
  • When sugar melts completely, add crumbled khoya/mawa and mix it with coconut, stirring continuously. Add chopped nuts in the mixture. Increase the flame a bit. Stir for another 4-5 minutes or till coconut mixture doesn't stick to the pan any more. 
  • Lastly add cardamom powder and mix it well in the coconut mixture. Do not dry them too much, the mixture should be sticky. Then it will set nicely and the texture of the burfi will be also soft.
  • You can make these burfis also in one layer and no food color added. As I wanted to make these more colorful, so made this in two layers. Divide the dough into 2 parts and in one part, add 3-4 drops of red/pink food color and mix evenly in the mixture.

  • When the mixture is still hot, grease a plate with ghee or butter, and spread the pink/red layer first on the plate. After that spread the white layer carefully over the red/pink layer. Lastly sprinkle grated coconut allover the white layer, then sprinkle chopped pistachios and press a little with back of the spoon to set them.  
  • Set in refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours and then cut into desired shape and size. 


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