Friday, December 27, 2013

Fruit Cake Cookies

I have been wishing to make fruit cake cookies for a long time now. But never really came across an easy recipe. Searching for an easy recipe in the web took me here. I actually followed this recipe with little changes. Mine is with egg instead of the eggless version. It was really nice and I was excited to bake cookies for the first time. Almost 36 cookies were finished by three of us in less than 2 days. And surprisingly it is not at all difficult to make. So, here you go.


Dried fruits - 1 cup (I used raisins, cashews, almonds, pistachios, coconut and apricots)
Orange juice - 2 tablespoon (You can definitely use rum/wine/vodka)
Lemon juice - 1 tablespoon
Honey - 1 tablespoon
Butter - 1/2 cup, soft (unsalted, omit salt if using salted butter)
Sugar - 1/3 cup
Egg - 1 medium
Powdered cardamom - 1/2 teaspoon
Orange zest - 1/2 teaspoon
Vanilla - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - a pinch
All purpose flour - 1 & 1/2 cup

Mix together orange juice, lemon juice and honey and soak the fruits overnight in it. 

Cream together butter and sugar with a hand mixer for 3-4 minutes. Add salt, orange zest, cardamom powder and vanilla to it. Mix well.

Add flour to it and fold it well. 

Add the egg to it and mix well. Add the vanilla and mix it once more.

Add the fruits to it along with any residual liquid.

Roll the dough in log or any shape you like in a parchment/wax paper. I realized at the last moment that I am out of wax paper, so I wrapped in cling film and it worked. 

Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

Okay, most of your work is done and you can relax. After few hours, take it out and cut it any shape you like. These cookies does not increase in size, so apparently you get almost the same size as you cut.

Now the baking part. My first batch actually was browned which is no good. These are delicate so be careful while baking.

Preheat oven to 170C. Bake them for 10 minutes and see if they are done. If not, bake for 2-3 minutes more but keep an eye all along this extra time. It should be done by 15 minutes.

They are ready and they are delight.

Enjoy them with afternoon tea/coffee or whenever you like.

Happy Holidays from my home to yours! You all have a wonderful, happy and prosperous New Year.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Egg Pilaf/Pulao

Egg pulao is favorite among busy moms to serve something fancy on a weekday night at dinner. It is easy, takes only about 30 minutes and you have something delicious for your taste buds. My mother used to do it on days we used to rebel and refuse to have plain rice and dal. Without further rambling, lets go straight to the recipe.


Rice - 1 and 1/2 cup (I used basmati)
Eggs - 4 (Hard boiled)
Onions - 1+1 medium, chopped fine
Carrots-1/2 cup, diced
Beans - 1/4 cup, diced (You can add any veggies of your choice)
Cardamom - 3-4
Cinnamon- 1" stick
Cloves - 3-4
Raisins - 1/4 cup
Cashews - 1/4 cup
Biriyani Masala - 2 teaspoon
Salt - To taste
Sugar - To taste

First thing first. Start boiling the eggs. Place the eggs in a pot with enough water and salt to it and boil it. I bring the water to boil and keep the eggs in it for 8-10 minutes, turn off the heat and keep the pot covered.

Wash the rice and let it soak for 10 minutes or so. Do not soak it too long, it will break the grains.

Heat oil in a pan. Add the 3C's (clove, cinnamon and cardamom), saute for a minute till the flavour comes.

Add half of the chopped onions to it and cook it for 3-5 minutes till translucent.

Add the raisins, cashews and the chopped vegetables (use any vegetables of your choice, peas and cauliflowers are very much welcome)..

Saute for 3-4 minutes or till the vegetables becomes a bit soft.

Add the rice to it. Now add the biriyani masala to it. This is a store bought masala that you get easily in Indian store. I am usually not a big fan of store bought masala, but use once in a while. If you do not have biriyani masala, no problem. Add cumin, coriander and cinnamon powder, half a teaspoon each, and also 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Mix well. Add salt and sugar at this point. Cover it with warm water. My rule of thumb is that the water level must be over one inch of the rice level.

While the rice is cooking, heat oil in a separate pan and fry the remaining half of the onions till golden and crisp. I really like adding the onion fries on top of any kind of pulao/biriyani/rice dish. It adds that extra flavor and taste and makes the dish a bit more special.

Once the onions are ready, fry the eggs till light golden brown in the same oil. Smear the eggs with turmeric and salt before frying, it will give a nice golden color.

When the rice is ready, top it up with fried eggs and onions before serving.

Egg pulao is ready for you. Instantly it will perk you up with a simple yet delicious flavors.


I am submitting this dish for Cooking with Seeds event for the month of December. Rice is the seed of choice for this month. Rafeeda of The Big Sweet Tooth is the host for this month's event. You can find the details here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Party - Black and White Wednesday 110

This week's Black and White Wednesday episode is the last one for 2013. And its the Christmas edition. Time for celebration, folks!

This image is from last year's Christmas office party. We had a group of about 15 people and were almost family. We were great foodies and would have frequent mini parties like this. Miss you guys and miss the food. A little blurry image (sorry) but it makes me nostalgic.

This is my contribution for this weeks Black and White Wednesday, a culinary event started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook and now managed by CInzia of Cindystar, who is also the host for this week. For participation details, click here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Rice and Lentil Pilaf (M'Judra) with Raw Banana Kebabs

I love Mediterranean foods. I feel at home with these foods. Indian cuisine shares a lot of common spices and ingredients with it. I had a Lebanese colleague and I was surprised to know that he knows most of the spices I used to talk about which he said is a staple of his mother's pantry. I love this rice and lentil pilaf traditionally known as M'Judra. I make it with all different lentils that I use in my kitchen, although I am not so sure if that can be done traditionally. Yes, it demands a little more oil (okay, a lot more) than I usually use in my cooking, but, come on, its December. 


Lentil - 1 cup ( I used masoor, the orange lentil, in this case. I also often use green variety of it.)
Rice - 3/4 cup ( I used basmati)
Onions - 4 Red, medium, finely chopped
Bay leaf - 1 small
Cardamoms - 4-5
Cloves - 3-4
Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Red chilli - 1, or according to your heat tolerance
Cumin powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Oil -  A whole lot, okay maybe 1/2 cup to start with.

Wash the rice and soak it in cold water. Wash the lentils separately and keep it soaked. Soak both of them for 15 minutes or so.

In a pan, temper 1 tablespoon oil with a dried red chilli, and bay leaf.

Wait a minute and add the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Saute for a minute or till the aroma comes out. 

Add the cumin seeds and saute for another two minutes.

Add remaining chopped onions and saute it till it becomes translucent. Now add the lentils to it and mix well.

Add salt, turmeric and cumin powder to it, mix well and add 1 and 1/2 cup warm water to it. Close the lid and make it boil for about 10-15 minutes.

The lentils should be almost cooked by now. Add the rice to it and give it a quick mix. Add a little more water if required and cover the lid and cook for another 8-10 minutes.

While the lentil is cooking, heat enough oil till it bubbles. Turn the heat to medium to low and add the 80% of chopped onions to it. Now, this will test your patience. I have very little of it and easily gets annoyed with this step. Start frying it, occasionally turning up the heat and again turning it down. Goal is to make the onions crispy fried, maybe about 15 minutes. Do not walk away, because the moment you do, they starts to get burned. Yes, its sort of jinxed.

Once they are fried, put them on tissue paper to drain excess oil and sprinkle them immediately with salt. I used black salt here.

After the rice/lentil gets cooked, serve them with a generous amount of fried onions on the top. 

You can eat it like this or serve with yogurt mixed or with kebabs as I have done.

For the kebabs, you need

Raw Banana - 1 medium size
Potato - 1 medium
Onions - 1 medium, chopped
Green chilli - 1 or more, finely chopped
Flour - 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste

Cut the raw banana and potato in half and boil it for 10 minutes. Cool it off completely to take out the peel, otherwise it may cause burn.

Mash them with a masher or your hand as fine possible. It will still remain coarse and thats what I like.
Add onions, chillies, salt to it and mix well. 

Add flour to it, otherwise it is sticky. Make it into patties in size of your choice.

Shallow fry them in 1 tablespoon of oil until golden brown.

Serve them with the pilaf or eat them up on their own.

I am hungry again!

I am sending this to this month's My Legume Love Affair # 66, hosted this month by Simona of Briciole. This event was started by Susan of  The Well Seasoned Cook and is now being hosted by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chocolate Sauce/Syrup

This is the easiest DIY chocolate sauce/syrup ever. It is so easy that I am little embarrassed to call it a recipe. Since lil A was not well last week, she pretty much refused all foods, even her favorite milk. A friend suggested to add chocolate syrup to it and try. I liked the idea. I do not know, what made me check for its recipe in the web, but I did. And seeing so many easy versions, I combined couple to have my own. And it worked! I am so happy to have something that does not have dozens of unknown ingredients to it.


Water - 1/2 cup
Cocoa powder - 3/4 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Vanilla - Few drops

Boil water and sugar in a pan for 2 minutes. Add cocoa powder to it and simmer it until the cocoa powder melts completely, around 5-6 minutes.

SImmer it for 2 minutes more, and turn off the heat.

Let it cool. It will thicken on cooling.

Add the vanilla drops to it.

We really liked it, if you want more sweet, you are welcome to add more sugar. You can also add chocolate chips to it.

I was not sure how it will turn out, so made a small batch. You can increase the proportions. 

Definitely, worth try if you like chocolate sauce.

You can store them in refrigerator for up to 10 days.  

It also makes a cute host gift to give away this season. Your friends will like it.

The above picture is my contribution for this week's Black and White Wednesday, a culinary event started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook, and hosted this week by Urvashi of Budding Homemaker. For participation details visit Cindystar blog.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Coffee, again - Black and White Wednesday # 108

Yes, friends, you got it right! I literally and practically cannot live without it. Be it fancy Starbucks stuff to not-so-fancy at office canteen, I have it all.

This week I am needing it more. Lil A is sick and I am waking up at 4:30 ish for last four days and more than one cuppa is keeping me afloat through the long day.

Curious George is babysitting a not-in-a-great mood toddler most of the times while this tired mama gets her chores done.

The first image is my contribution to this week's Black and White Wednesday, a culinary event started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. This week Priya of The Humpty Dumpty's Kitchen is hosting 108 edition of this culinary journey. For participation details visit Cindystar's blog of Cinzia, who currently administrates the event.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Egg Curry

Egg curry reminds me of the rainy evenings during my childhood. When during those incessant rains my mother would tell me ghost stories amidst of power cuts, getting scared herself all through. The room would be dark with only a candle burning on the table at the corner. We would cuddle up along with our dog on the couch sipping something hot and munching all along. We would worry about my father getting drenched on his way back home and his extra hours among the heavy traffics. After a while Maa would go and prepare this egg curry in a candle lit semi dark kitchen telling me to finish my studies. I would reluctantly sit at my table with my books open but my mind wandering. The curry used to get ready just in time when my father would be back fully soaked up in water and I would rush to him with a towel. And few minutes later we would enjoy this warm curry with plain white rice or with parathas on extra special days.


Eggs - 6 hard boiled
Onions - 2 medium, chopped
Tomatoes - 3 medium, chopped
Garlic - 2 small cloves
Ginger - 1/2 inch
Cardamom - 4-6 small
Cloves - 4
Cinnamon - 1" stick
Turmeric - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin powder - 1 teaspoon
Salt and Sugar - To taste
Oil - 1 tablesppon (I used mustard oil this time, but also use canola oil all the time)

Boil the eggs in a pot. I usually put them with a spoon in a pot of boiling water and boil them for 8 - 10 minutes. I always add 1 teaspoon of salt to the boiling water.

After removing the shells, smear them with salt and turmeric.

Fry the eggs lightly in the oil.

Add cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves to the hot oil, temper for a minute and add the onions.

Saute them for 3-5 minutes till they turn translucent. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to it, it will help in caramelization.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook it for about 10 minutes.

At this point, when the tomatoes are cooked, you can cool it and give it a pulse or two in the mixer to make a smooth paste. But, of course, I did not do it. I cooked for extra couple minutes and smashed it with spatula on the pan.

Add salt, turmeric, and cumin powder to it and mix well. Add a green chilli to make it hot (you can add more according to your taste). Add half a cup of warm water to it and cook for a minute. Add the eggs to it and cook for another 2 minutes with lids on.

You can keep the eggs whole or can cut it in half before putting in the pan. A dash of fresh herb like cilantro or rosemary will spike up the flavor more.

Enjoy with plain white rice or bread of your choice. A total comfort for me.

The above picture is my contribution to Black and White Wednesday # 107 - a culinary events started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. This week it is hosted by Simona of Briciole. For participation details visit Cindystar blog of Cinzia, who now manages the event.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Black and White Wednesday # 105 - The Gallery

This is my first event as a host and I am excited. Thanks to all for your contribution and time for Black and White Wednesday - A Culinary Photography Event.

New bww logo big

Also, much thanks to Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook who started the event and to Cinzia of Cindystar for wonderful administration.

Happy viewing, friends! The photos are in order as they hit my inbox.

"Busy Bee" from Simona of Briciole.

"Napa Cabbage" from Pam of Sidewalk Shoes.


"Porcini" from Haalo of Cook Almost Anything.

"My Vintage Pressure Cooker" from Cinzia of Cindystar.


"Follow The Sign" from Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums.


"Favorite Spot" from Pocketfull Of Spices. Yeah, its me.


106 week of Black and White Wednesday will be hosted by Cinzia of Cindystar. You can send your entries at casacortella AT tin DOT it till Tuesday, November 19.

See you there next week. Happy Wednesday.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Baked Pasta-Easy Dinner

Once again a very easy dinner recipe. We used to have this dish quite often in pre lil A days, but somehow I completely forgot about it. Later I made pasta quite some times but never baked it. Few weeks back I was craving a good pasta dish, and my husband suddenly reminded me about it. I was like, why I did not make it again till now? And given that lil A loves pasta!

That is when I geared up to make the marinara sauce a day before so it will not be a lot of work.

Try this, it can be a hearty dinner if you are a carboholic like me.


Pasta (any kind, I used bow tie one) - 1 cup uncooked. Cook it al dente in pot of water with pinch of salt in it.
Green Pepper - 1 medium, diced
Chicken breasts (diced) - 1 cup
Onions - 1 medium, thinly sliced
Marinara sauce (or any other sauce you like) - 1/2 cup
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste

Cook the pasta in a pot till al dente.

Heat oil in a pan and saute the onions till translucent.

Add in the chicken pieces and green pepper and cook it for 5-6 minutes or till chicken becomes almost cooked.

Add half a cup of marinara sauce and mix well. Cook for a minute or two.

Add the pasta to it and cook it for 2-3 minutes. Arrange it on a baking dish.

Grate generous amount of any cheese of your choice to cover the pasta up. I only had cheese slices at that time, but was craving the dish so bad that I decided to go ahead with it.

Not a very pretty picture though!
Pre heat oven at 200C. Bake at 200C for 20-25 minutes or till the cheese melts and covers the top.

I like it slightly overbaked.

Enjoy your pasta.

If you have the sauce ready and the pasta cooked, it really takes very little effort to make it. And it makes the carboholic in me happy.

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Favorite Spot and Announcement of Black and White Wednesday # 105

Once, not long back, it used to be my favorite spot.

This table and chairs know much of my life secrets, joys and sadness as I shared and celebrated them with my best friend over a cup of coffee here. I don't know why, but I loved this spot more when the trees were bare than in summer.

New bww logo bigThis week I am hosting Black and White Wednesday-A Culinary Photography Event. I am very much excited and delighted. This wonderful event was started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook, and now organized by Cinzia of Cindystar.

For the newbies, here are the rules:

  • Your clicks have to be  anything of a culinary nature or show anything related to food
  • You can shoot either in b/w mode or in color, then process in b/w. You can use any effect you like but keeping the image in a monochrome/grayscale, with Sepia and Cyanotype tones allowed. No color details allowed.
  • Approximate sizes of your pictures shoud be portrait/500 wide & 700 long - landscape/700 wide & 500 long - or 600 square.
  • No need of a recipe, nor a story nor a location (but they are welcome if you like), simply a title for the picture is required.

Please send me your photographs at pocketfullofspices AT gmail DOT com with following details: 

  • Subject: BWW #105
  • Your Name that you want to be published in round up
  • Your Blog's Name
  • Title of Your Pic
  • URL of your post
  • The image(s), max 500 px wide
You have until Tuesday, November 12, to send me your contributions. Even you do not have any blog, you can send me your photos for the roundup.

 And the above photo is my contribution for BWW 105.

So, happy clicking my friends!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pizza and Black and White Wednesday 104

My pantry was almost empty. So mother and daughter duo went for extended grocery shopping. Young and no-more-young tired feet need rest. We were lazy and had this for Saturday dinner.

The bases were bought from local baker's shop. They claimed it was freshly baked in the morning. 

In went tomatoes, green pepper, chunks of onions, and apples with generous amount of grated cheese. I had leftover marinara sauce to smear on the bases. Baked at 180C for 15 minutes. Yum!

I am sending this for this weeks Black and White Wednesday, hosted by Simona of Bricole, a culinary event started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook, and now managed by Cinzia of Cindystar blog. For participation details, check here.

Next week I will be hosting this gorgeous event. Stay tuned for the announcement.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Witch Fingers and Happy Halloween

Trick or treat?  Halloween was unheard of when I was growing up. I came to know in details about it during my stay in US. I do not know why, I loved it (maybe the candy part allured me). I loved to visit the pumpkin patches and carved the pumpkins. We did it even after lil A was born, although last two years she did not get it all, I guess. I talked to her about Halloween yesterday, and she liked the part to go out for trick or treat. Mamma's gal! I was a bit busy last two weeks and did not have time to look out for a pumpkin to carve. Also, it is a bit hard to found, at least I did not found any, so we skipped pumpkin carving this year. Instead to wish you Halloween we have witch fingers to send a chill down your spine!

Lil A was initially a little uncomfortable looking at the fingers and keep saying, "bhoy! bhalo na" aka, I am scared, not good. But I insisted that she try it and she liked it. Licked all the blood, oops, jam from the finger. But, I failed to convince my mom to try it!

This is again very easy recipe, can be gathered in few minutes and takes less than half hour to bake. This recipe makes only about 10 fingers, so increase the amount accordingly for a large batch.


All purpose flour - 3/4 cup
Softened butter - 3 tablespoon
Powdered sugar - 3 tablespoon
Egg - 1
Vanilla - 1 teaspoon

Beat all the stuffs except flour.

Add the wet mix to the flour and mix well. Refrigerate the mix covered for 30 minutes.Meanwhile blanch the almonds for the nails.Soak the almonds in hot water over and for 2 minutes.

I microwaved the water on high for 3 minutes and soaked almonds in it for 2 minutes. Wash under cold water and remove the skin. Note: Do not keep in hot water for long, this will break the nuts.

Preheat oven at 180C/325F.

Take a teaspoon of the batter and roll it into shape of a finger.


Create the knuckles with a fork to make it real.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or till they are pale golden.

To make it more scary and gross, add blood, err jam or red food coloring (of course, I did not have red food color) around the nail bed and on the knuckles.

Scary I know, but you will love it.

Happy Halloween, my friends. How did you celebrate?

I have modified one of the above image for Black and White Wednesday # 103, a photography event started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook, hosted this week by Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu. For event details, visit Cindystar blog.