Monday, March 31, 2014

Decadent Banana Prune Cake in Caramel Sauce, Eggless and Low Fat

This banana prune cake feels so decadent and naughty, but the cake itself has only 2 tablespoons of butter, which if you want can be omitted. The cake gets its moistness from the addition of bananas which together with the pureed prunes add a richness and exotic taste. It such a delectable desert, and goes really well with coconut ice-cream.

I have been experimenting with bananas as a substitute for butter and oil for a while. This cake was made for my father who is vegetarian and cannot eat too many rich deserts. You will not believe that there is hardly any butter, and if you choose to not use caramel sauce it will be surprisingly low in fat. There are also no eggs in this recipe, so it is suitable for vegetarians. If you can eat eggs you may add an egg and omit a quarter cup of milk from the recipe. Add the egg to the wet ingredients if using.

So try this recipe and let me know what you think.

Cuisine:        International,
Good for:      Desert      
Time:            1 hour
Serves:         10
Skill:             Medium
Suitable:       Vegetarian (eggless), low fat
Allergy          Contains wheat, milk


Dry ingredients
2 c               flour
1 c               sugar
3 tb              baking powder
1 tsp            baking soda
1 tsp            cinnamon
1 tsp            salt

Wet ingredients 
1¼ c            milk
½ c              bananas mashed
6                  prunes
2 tb              lemon juice
½ tsp           lemon zest
2 tb              oil or melted butter, optional
1 c              caramel sauce optional

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl.
  2. Mix all wet ingredients in a bowl. Puree till smooth in blender.
  3. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined
  4. Preheat oven to 375.
  5. Pour half into a 6" circular cake pan. Repeat with other half.
  6. Let bake for 30-40 mins untill an icepick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
  7. Let cakes cool till warm.
  8. Gently cakes take out of tin.
  9. Use an ice pick or toothpick and pokes holes in top of both cakes.
  10. Pour half of caramel sauce on one cake. Put other cake on top and repeat poring on other cake.

  1. Add an egg and omit ¼ cups milk.
  2. Omit 2 tb butter and substitute 2tb milk.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Creamy Spicy Roasted Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup is just a comforting food. My first introduction to tomato soup was believe it or not in India. I had it in an ashram, where whenever it was served it was a favorite. Soup was a staple at dinner in the ashram together with with a curried vegetable and chapatis. It was always served in the afternoon, as it was believed that the last meal of the day should be a very light one.

But one my favorite versions of tomato soup in India was at a wedding I attended while there. Guests were served tomato soup in small tea cups as an appetizer. It was rich and spicy and honesty I fell in love with it. I just savored every warm flavor packed sip. It was divine.

The other time I had soup in India that I truly loved, I was able to ask the cook what was the secret. He told me he added the leaf of the cinnamon tree. His soup had this delicious spicy warm undertone from the use of this leaf.

The tomato soup in india though had indian spices as well, making them quite unique and delicious. For my version, I was a bit lazy to go get cumin and other spices and chunkay them, so this is more of the western version of tomato soup. I roasted the tomatoes in the oven to make them sweeter.

My favorite accompaniment to tomato soup would be grilled cheese. It's obvious and traditional but the richness of the cheese and the tanginess of the tomatoes, wow! It's a match made in heaven. While this is really not anything you will see in a traditional Trinidadian menu, it does remind me a bit of tomato choka. I ate my soup with toasted bread drizzled with olive oil.

Cuisine:       International
Good for:     Lunch, Dinner      
Time:           1½ hour
Serves:        3
Skill:             Medium
Suitable:       Vegetarian

20           medium tomatoes
¼ c         olive oil
1 tsp       salt
7             unpeeled garlic cloves
1             onion cur in quarters
½ c         milk or ¼ c heavy cream
½ tsp      basil dried
1tb          sugar
½ tsp      red pepper flakes
½ tsp      black pepper
3             oregano leaves minced
               hot water as needed

  1. Put tomatoes, onions and garlic still in skins into a sheet pan, douse with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper.
  1. Put in 400° oven for 40 minutes turning twice.
  1. When done take out oven and let cool. Take off the tomato skins. And squeeze garlic out of skins.
  1. Add tomatoes, with onions and garlic to a blender and whiz to liquefy completely.
  1. Pour the tomato mixture into a pot, and use 1c water to wash out the blender and pour into tomato mixture. Bring to boil and then lower to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
  1. Add sugar and milk and dried basil.
  1. Taste at this point, and if its too acidic add more sugar to taste.
  1. Add more salt if it needs and the black pepper.
  1. Take off heat. Add 3 leaves minced fine fresh oregano if have. 
  1. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.
© Chillibibi Food Blog  All Rights Reserved 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Perfect Fragrant Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice is a favorite of mine as it smells exotic, it's a smell reminiscent of flowers. As such it pairs fabulously with aromatic spices such as cloves, ginger, cardamom (elichee) and nutmeg. When you make basmati rice the whole house id perfumed with its scent. It pretty hard to cook basmati rice in secret.  


Cuisine:          Indian
Good for:        Lunch, Dinner  
Food Group:   Starch 
Time:              10 mins
Serves:           5
Skill:                Medium
Suitable:          Vegetarian

1 c          basmati rice
2c           hot water
1 tsp       salt
2 tb         ghee (clarified butter) or butter, optional

  1. Check rice for stones and then rinse and drain.
  1. Add rice and hot water to pot, bring to boil, then lower and cover.
  1. Cook for 10 minutes covered, then take off heat.
  1. Leave covered for 5 mins.  
  1. Uncover lid, fluff and enjoy.

Traditional Trinidadian Dhal

Dhal and Rice

I cannot tell you how many times I have eaten Dhal and Rice; this is an indian staple, a nod to my indian origins. Its usually accompanied by a curried vegetable such as bhaji which is a cousin to spinach and a spicy fresh chutney like my coconut chutney or a hot anchar, (a spicy condiment). 

Dhal and rice is a traditional sunday lunch in a trinidadian indian household. It was almost a daily meal for my ancestors where meat was an expensive protein and dhal was a cheap and nutritious alternative. Dhal is actually a yellow pulse called split peas. The resulting soupy broth is also called dhal. Dhal can be made from other pulses such as urad dhal, toor dhal, mung dhal etc. But in trinidad, the most popular dhal is made using the yellow split peas pictured below. 

Yellow Split Peas (Dhal) after it has been rinsed

The one thing really different about cooking this staple is the cooking process. It was only after watching too many food network cooking shows that I realized how unique this process was. I have never encountered this process in either an cook book, indian or otherwise. 

Chunkaying Process

The dhal is boiled with onion and tumeric until soft. Then comes the strange part, oil is heated in a large pot spoon over an open flame and minced garlic, whole geera (cumin) and maithee (fenugreek) seeds added to the oil. The garlic and geera are cooked till they get really black, burnt almost. This hot contents of the pot-spoon are then added to the soupy dhal and the pot is covered as soon as possible to prevent the hot oil from splashing and hurting someone. This process is called chunkaying, and it is used a lot in Trinidadian indian cooking, like in my Bygan Choka. The burning of the garlic is a unique technique, but it adds smokiness and a bitterness that balances the creamy dhal.

Dhal is usually paired with rice, and my favorite type of rice to eat with dhal is basmati rice which you can learn to make in my Basmati Rice post.

Traditional Trinidadian Dhal Recipe

Cuisine:       Trini Indian
Good for:     Lunch      
Time:           1½ hour
Serves:        5
Skill:             Easy
Suitable:       Vegetarian, Vegan


1½ c           yellow split peas, dhal
1 tsp           turmeric powder
½                onion chopped
2                 garlic cloves chopped
1 tsp           geera seeds (cumin)
½ tsp          maithee seeds (fenugreek)
1 tsp           salt
3tb              oil

  1. Soak dhal overnight or for a few hours.
  2. Place in a pot with water about a few inches above the dhal. Add tumeric and boil for 45mins to 1 hour till soft
  3. Heat garlic, geera (cumin), maithee (fenugreek) in a pot spoon with oil.
  4. Cook till they are black. 
  5.  Add carefully to pot of dhal, covering immediately to protect yourself from the oil splattering.
© Chillibibi Food Blog  All Rights Reserved 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Frank's Fluffy Lemon Cardamon Pancakes (Eggless)

Lemon Cardamon Pancakes

Pancakes are my little friend Frank's favorite things to eat, so I named this recipe after him. He is not the only one; I love pancakes for breakfast lunch or dinner. They are so fluffy, light with a hint of sweetness and they take so little time to make. 

Pancakes usually contain eggs which help add lightness and richness, which usually mean that when I am fasting, I can't make the normal pancakes with eggs. Pancakes without eggs usually are pretty dense. This one though is light and fluffy due to added help from some rising agents. The lemon and cardamon also add a wonderful fruity tartness and spice which makes this even more delicious.

Cuisine:        International
Good for:      Breakfast      
Time:            15 mins
Serves:         2 (makes 4 large pancakes) 
Skill:              Easy
Suitable:       Vegetarian (eggless)
Allergy          Contains wheat, milk

Dry ingredients
1 c               flour
4 tb              sugar
1 tb              baking powder
¼ tsp           baking soda
¼ tsp           cardamon (elichee)
pinch           salt

Wet ingredients 
1¼ c            milk
2 tb              lemon juice
½ tsp           lemon zest
3 tb              oil or melted butter

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl.
  2. Mix all wet ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until moistened. Do not overmix.
  4. Pour a large pot spoon full on a greased tawa or saucepan that is on medium heat.
  5. Let cook on this side till bubbles appear, for about 2-3 minutes. 
  6. Flip and let cook for about a minute on the other side.
  7. Repeat with rest of batter.

  1. Add an egg and omit ¼ cups milk.
  2. Use1tb sugar instead of 4tb for a lower sugar pancake
  3. Use  ¼ c whole wheat and ¾ c flour in place of 1 c flour.


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