Spiced Cheese Loaf

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Ingredients

Flour                        - 420 ml        - 1.75 cups
White sugar        - 60ml        - 4 tbsp
Salt                        - 1/4 tsp
Baking powder         - 2 1/2 tsp
Cheddar cheese – 240 ml        -1 cup (shredded)
Egg                        - 1 (Beaten)
Milk                        - 240 ml        - 1 cup
Vegetable oil        -80 ml        -1/3 cup
Mixed Italian herbs – 2 tsps
Chilli flakes        - 1 tsp

Method

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Grease lightly and flour a loaf pan (9X5 inch)
3. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients including seasoning thoroughly, excluding cheese
4. Reserve some shredded cheese and mix the balance with the flour mixture lightly
5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg, add milk, oil and beat well.
6. Add the flour/cheese mixture to the egg mixture and stir lightly until all the dry powder is blended.
7. Pour batter into prepared pan.
8. Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top to cover the entire loaf.
9. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
10. Remove from oven and cool well before slicing.

Notes:
1. Quantity of sugar may be adjusted to individual taste.
2. Caramelised onion can be added to the batter for a variation
3. Jalapeno pieces can be substituted for chilli flakes for a different taste.

Crispy Samosas in Airfryer

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Ingredients:

For outer shell:

Flour                - 600 ml
Ajwain        -1 tsp
Ghee        - 4 tbsp
Salt                -1 tsp

For the stuffing:

Potatoes        - 5 medium- boil and mash
Peas                - 3 tbsp – boil
Ghee        - 2 tbsp
Cumin        - 1 tsp
Ginger        - 1 inch piece, chopped fine
Amchur        - 1.5 tsp
Chilli powder- 1 tsp
Dhania powder- 1 tsp
Garam masala- 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Dry roast the following till aroma is released and crush with the rolling pin.
Anardana                - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds- 1 tbsp

Method:

Add all the ingredients for the shell. Mix well and add water little by little and prepare a stiff dough. Cover with wet cloth and let it rest when the stuffing is prepared.

Heat the ghee in a pan, add cumin and then ginger pieces. Salute well. Add the mashed potatoes, peas, and all the spice powders. Add salt in the end and thereafter the Anardana/coriander seeds. Mix well and transfer to a bowl.

Take a ball of dough slightly larger than a lemon and roll into oblong shape. Thickness should be even. Cut into two. With each half make a pocket sealing the edge by applying water. Fill the stuffing tightly in the pocket and close the samosa. Make the rest of the samosas similarly.

Preheat the air fryer at 180 degrees C for 5 minutes. Place the prepared samosas in the basket, brush lightly with oil and cook for about 20 minutes at the same temperature until it browns. Check in between and turn if necessary.

Remove, cool and serve with tomato sauce, green chutney.

Note:
Cashew nuts and/or raisins can be added to the stuffing as a variation. If desired to fry the samosas, add the samosas to the oil before it heats up fully and let the samosas cook slowly to make the crust crisp.

Hamsadhwani on Electric Guitar

Disclaimer: I am not trained in Carnatic music and despite my best efforts, there can be errors in this material. Carnatic cannot be written accurately using notation so the timing of the tabs and music may be off. Best would be to use the notation as a guide and rely on the audio clips for timing.

Hamsadhwani is a symmetric pentatonic (audava-audava) ragam that uses the notes

Arohanam (ascent): S R2 G3 P N3 S’
Avarohanam (descent): S’ N3 P G3 R2 S

If G# were the root note (equivalent to Sa) the notes of this ragam are: G# A# C D# G G#’

Of course, one can play it with any other root note as long as the intervals are the same. But G# is a reasonable pitch that matches that of many singers (5.5 kattai) and practicing at this pitch will make transcribing from recordings easier. On the other hand playing at a higher pitch – the D above the G# (7th fret 3rd string) – sounds nicer because the lower three strings are not wound and so there is less finger noise when playing. However, that pitch is high (certainly for singing) and the thara sthayi will be even higher so it may not be appreciated by many.

In the Carnatic melakartha scheme Hamsadhwani is the janyam of Kalyani (66th melakartha). It is placed under Kalyani because in this ragam Ga may be played plain or with gamaka. Some others place it as a janyam of the Shankarabaranam (29th melakartha) – though Ga in Shankarabharanam is played plain. The discovery of this ragam is attributed to Ramaswamy Deekshitar, the father of Muthuswamy Deekshitar.

The plain notes (swara sthana) on the guitar for the ascent (arohanam) and descent(avarohanam) for three octaves (sthayi) – middle (madhya), low (mandara), and high (thara) – are shown below (Sa = G#)

Hamsadhwani_ArohanamAvarohanam-2016-04-3-11-37.png

The last three bars (above) shows how the arohanam and avarohanam of this ragam as played with gamakam. The gamakas for Ri and Ni are played as slides and slightly different in ascent and descent. Ri is played as Sa-Ga-Ri and Ni as Pa-Sa-Ni in the arohanam. During the descent Ni is played as Sa-Ni (sometimes Sa-Ni-Sa-Ni) and Ri as Ga-Ri-Ga-Ri. Also Ga is played as a slide or a double slide Pa-Ga or Pa-Ga-Pa-Ga.

Here are some Hamsadhwani phrases transcribed from vocal records.

HamsadhwaniPhrases-2016-04-3-11-37.png

The notation does not capture the timing of the slides accurately, here is an audio of what it should sound like.

Suddha Dhanyasi in Electric Guitar

I am trying to learn to play Carnatic on guitar by transcribing recordings. From lecture demonstrations I have understood that Carnatic ragams are similar to scales in western music but not identical. The notes alone do not make a ragam, associated phrases and gamakas together with the notes make a ragam. Here is an attempt to understand how the ragam Suddha Dhanyasi should be played on Guitar.

Disclaimer: I am not trained in Carnatic music and so, despite my best efforts, there can be errors in all of the stuff below :-). Also, I am not very good at music notation. I am not even sure if Carnatic can be written in this type of notation. Best would be to listen to the audio clips for timing rather than rely on the notation.

The scale-notes of this ragam are the same as the minor pentatonic scale and I have picked G as the tonic note (equivalent to Sa) since it is a reasonable kattai and is also convenient to play three octaves on electric guitars that have limited access to upper frets.

The G-minor pentatonic uses the following notes: G Bb C D F G’ and these correspond to the notes in the Suddha Dhanyasi (SD) ragam:

Arohanam: S G2 M1 P N2 S’
Avarohanam: S’ N2 P M1 G2 S

The image below shows the typical box patterns for two octaves of the G-minor pentatonic scale. Though it is possible to play SD notes this way, the box is not ideal to play carnatic. Carnatic gamakas (micro-tones produced by slides) cannot be played if one were to strictly stick with the box.

wpid-gMinorPent-2014-12-29-20-31.png

SD has to be played as three (or more) notes per string. The notation below shows three octaves of the G-minor pentatonic played three notes per string. Most carnatic songs span at most three octaves.

wpid-gMinorPent3-2014-12-29-20-31.png

Those were the scale notes of the ragam. The notation below shows how to play the arohanam and avarohanam of SD with gamakam for two octaves (the third is identical, just a change in strings). In this ragam the swaras G2 and N2 can be played plain or with gamakam. On guitar gamakas are played as slides rather than bends (I believe in Veena both techniques are used).

Gamakam for G2 is played as a slide S-M1-G2 in arohanam ascent and as M1-G2-M1-G2 in avarohanam.

Gamakam for N2 is played as P-S’-N2 in arohanam and as S’-N2-S’-N2 in avarohanam.

wpid-sdRagam-2014-12-29-20-31.png

Here is an audio sample of SD arohanam and avarohanam played with and without gamakam. Both swaras can be played plain as well. When to play a swara with gamakam seems to be based on context and I think that can be learnt only by playing a lot of songs in the same ragam. From the instrumentals that I have heard, it seems that sliding from one note to another is common and there are no specific rules.

Lebkuchen – German Gingerbread

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Ingredients:

Maida- 250 gms
Almonds- 85 gms (powder in mixer)
Ginger powder- 2tsp
Cinnamon powder- 1tsp
Baking powder-1 tsp
Soda-bi-carb- 0.5 tsp
a pinch each of:
ground cloves and black pepper

Zest of one lemon
Honey- 200 ml
Butter- 85 gms

For the glaze:
Icing sugar 100 gm
water- 2-3 tsp

Method:

Mix all the dry ingredients well in a large bowl. Heat the butter and honey in a pan over low flame until butter melts. Pour into the flour mixture along with lemon zest. Mix well into a solid dough. If liquid is insufficient add a few drops of honey and mix. Allow to cool. Make into small lemon sized balls. Flatten each ball into a disc shape. Preheat oven to 180C. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper giving sufficient space between the discs and bake at 180 degrees C for 12 to 15 minutes until brown.

Remove and cool on wire rack.

Mix icing sugar and water. Dip the top of each biscuit in the icing and spread with a knife. Allow to dry in a warm place.

Masala Buns

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Ingredients:

Plain flour or maida- 250 gms

Oil- 4 tbsp

Salt- 1 tsp

Active dry yeast-1 tsp (double if fresh yeast)

Sugar- 3 tsp

Water- 50 ml

Milk- 50 ml

For the Masala:

Onion- 1- quartered and sliced fine

Green chillies-4-5

A fistful each of Curry leaves and Coriander leaves

Oil- 1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Method:

Masala:

Grind the chillies, greens and salt coarsely and keep aside. Heat the oil in a pan, add onion and a little salt. When onion is done well, add the ground mixture, mix and switch off the stove and allow to cool.

Warm milk and water together. Take care not to heat too much; or the heat will kill the yeast. Add sugar and yeast. Cover and keep aside in a warm place for 15 minutes. Once yeast is fully dissolved and frothy, it is ready.

Take flour and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre and add a tbsp of oil. Add the yeast mixture and knead well into a soft dough. Knead for about 10 minutes until it is not sticky. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover and keep aside for 2 hours.

Add the prepared masala to the dough. Apply 1 tbsp oil and punch the dough for about 5 minutes. Shape into Buns using oil and let it rest covered on a greased baking sheet for about an hour. Leave sufficient space between buns since the size will increase. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees C for 10-15 minutes or till golden. A couple of minutes prior to removing, brush the top with a little milk.

Allow to cool a bit before transferring to wire racks for cooling.

 

Braided Butter Bread

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Ingredients:

Plain Flour- 500 ml and some more for dusting
Butter- 50 gms (softened)
Salt- 1 tsp
Sugar- 3 tsps
Warm Milk- 100ml
Warm Water- 110 ml
Fresh Yeast- 2.5 tsps

For topping:
Mix together 1 tsp each of:
Sesame seeds
Poppy seeds
Caraway seeds
Dry minced onion
Coarse salt

For brushing:
3tsp milk

Method:

Mix the yeast in warm water until it dissolves and keep covered for 10 minutes. Take care not to use hot water. One method is to test the heat the water by applying on your wrist. It should feel comfortably warm and not hot.

Add the milk, softened butter, sugar, Flour and salt and mix well. Knead for about 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise until it doubles for about an hour.

Punch down the dough. transfer to a lightly floured surface. Divide into 3 equal portions. Shape each into a 10 inch rope. Place the ropes on a large greased baking tray and braid. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise for about 45 minutes.

Brush the loaf with milk and sprinkle the topping. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees C for 25 minutes. Remove and cool over wire rack.

Beetroot Salad

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Here is a simple salad using beetroot, tomato and onion.

Ingredients:
Beetroot – 1 medium size
Onion – 1/2 medium size
Tomato – 1/2 medium size
Salt
Lime
Coriander leaves for garnish

Method:
1) Peel the beetroot and grate it.
2) Cut onion and tomato into small thin pieces.
3) Mix them and add salt. Add a dash of lime, and coriander leaves for garnish. Your simple and yummy salad is ready.

Green Peas Chutneywale

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Ingredients

1 cups boiled green peas
2 medium potatoes- Boiled and diced
1 bayleaf (tejpatta)
1 tsp sugar
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
1″ piece of cinnamon
2 tsp cornflour
200 ml coconut milk
Juice of half a lemon
4 tsps oil
salt to taste

Grind into a paste:
1cup fresh coriander leaves
5 green chillies
1/4 cup freshly grated coconut

Method:
Heat the oil in a pan, add the spices. Let them crackle.
Add the ground paste and fry till the oil separates.
Mix the cornflour with coconut milk and add to the mixture. Simmer till the gravy thickens.
Add the boiled peas and potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Remove from fire and add the sugar and lime juice. Serve with phulkas or rotis.