Sweet Pongal / Sweet Rice Pudding

Happy New Year and Happy Sankranthi to all my family and friends. The first post of 2018 is this Sweet Pongal / Rice pudding prepared for Sankranthi festival. Sankranthi celebrated all over India but with different names depending on the state and culture for over a period of 4 days. It marks the first day of sun’s transit into the  Capricorn, marking the end of the month with the winter solace and the start of longer days. It’s also called as Harvest festival where the first crop / rice is harvested .

Festivals are all about  family gatherings , celebrations ,food and memories associated with it .Growing up typically our day would begin with my dad waking us up at wee hrs in the morning, while mom starts   preparations in the kitchen . After multiple attempts, we would wake up and start by decorating the front yard with colorful Rangoli designs ,followed by dads pooja and Moms scrumptous food . After a heavy and delicious meal ,we would gather up on the rooftop & watch all the kids flying kites under the Sun . Mom would make lots of food, but I would eagerly wait for the sweet treats which are specially made during this festival.  Traditional sweet sesame-jaggery based ladoo and rice pudding / sweet pongal. Sweet pongal is always made with new rice and jaggery . Its mushy , soft with perfect amount of sweetness and some nutty crunch with cashews and dried coconut pieces. Heres a recipe. 

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Sweet Pongal

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
  • 1/2 Cup Split Yellow Moong  Dal
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp Ghee / Clarified Butter
  • ¼ cup Cashews and Raisins
  • 1tsp Cardamom powder
  • few Dry coconut pieces
  • 1.5 cups grated jaggery ( melt in 1 cup water )

Directions

  • In a Pressure cooker heat 2 tbsp Ghee on medium flame.  Sauté Cashwnuts and raisins until golden brown and set aside.
  • In the same ghee add washed and soaked rice and dal mixture .Saute for 2 mins on low flame and add 3 cups water.  Close the lid and pressure cook the rice/dal mixture for 3 whistles.  Switch it off and wait until its cooled.
  • Meanwhile in a sauce pan add grated jaggery and 1 cup water . Heat for couple minutes only until everything is dissolved. Now strain this liquid into the cooked rice and dal mixture.
  • Add cardamom powder , milk , fried cashew nuts and raisins. Mix everything with a ladle and cook without lid for 5 mins on medium flame. Switch it off and serve warm.

 

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Thanks for stopping by .

Rajini

 

 

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Indian Spiced Whole Roast Masala Chicken

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite american holidays to celebrate and host. The meaning of being grateful and thankful ,getting together with family and friends and of course the food . Even though I don’t make all of the typical food  ,i do make sure of making pies ( who doesn’t love pies  🙂 ) ,pumpkin ,pecan and apple , garlic mashed potatoes , stuffing and instead of turkey we make Whole Roast Chicken. Not everyone in my family eats turkey ,so instead i make whole roast chicken with lots of spices . Its super moist ,flavorful and the leftovers can be used to make sandwiches . Soo good. Recipe below. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate.

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Indian Spiced Whole Roast Masala Chicken

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • One Whole Chicken
  • 2.5  Tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder (or more depending on your spice level)
  • 1.5 Tbsp Coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 2 Tsp Dried Mint
  • 6 Tsp Melted Butter
  • Salt as needed
  • Around 4 potatoes cut up into 1 inch pieces

Directions

  • Clean and wash whole chicken keeping the skin and make sure it leaves all the water. Pat dry with a towel . Make some cuts all over so you can stuff the masala paste.
  • In a small bowl melt 6 tbsp butter and add ginger garlic paste , chilli powder , coriander powder , cumin powder , turmeric powder, dried mint , salt and garam masala . Mix into a smooth paste.
  • Apply  this spice paste to the whole chicken  all over, including the legs ,thighs ,inside the cavity and under the skin . Tie the legs together with a string and tuck the wings underneath. Retain little paste for the potatoes and for brushing it later while its cooking.
  • Leave it covered in a Big Bowl for at least 4 hrs in the fridge. Take it out an hr before cooking so it comes to Room temperature.
  • Take a  Roasting pan with rack. Cover pan with foil and add spiced potatoes at the bottom. Transfer the Marinated chicken onto the rack . Place the Roasted pan on the lower section in the Oven . Broil it for 1.15 hrs . Brush the masala paste in b/w making sure its moist.
  • Once done cover the pan with a foil and let it rest for 15 mins.
  • Slice it , squeeze some lemon juice and serve with side of the crispy roasted potatoes.

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Thanks for stopping by .

Rajini

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

Fall season- Yes, the season when leaves turn orange and yellow, crispy autumn air and all you can think of is chunky scarves, boots, warm drinks and pumpkins. In India i never tasted pumpkin ,but now I love everything pumpkin and enjoy lattes, ice creams, pies and cakes. I know it’s an acquired taste and lot of people I know, don’t really care for it so much, but this pumpkin spice bundt cake is beyond delicious. It’s not too sweet, pumpkin flavour is very subtle ,super soft and the sour cream icing takes to another level.  Thanksgiving feast is incomplete without pumpkin pie, but if you don’t like pie this cake will be perfect. Recipe below. Happy Baking 🙂

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Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

Cake 

  • 2 cups All purpose Flour
  • 1.5 sticks butter ( 3/4 cup)
  • 1.5 cups Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup Pumpkin puree ( purée from Hachiya persimmons )
  • 3/4 cup  Milk  
  • 1 tsp Vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin pie Spice Powder 

Icing 

  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Cup Confectioners Sugar 
  • 3 tbsps Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Esscence

Mix all the ingredients for the icing in a bowl until completely incorporated and set aside.

Directions

  • Pre heat the oven to 350*F. Mix the dry Ingredients  flour, baking soda, baking powder and pumpkin spice powder and set aside. Spray a 9 inch bundt pan and set aside.
  • In a bowl Beat Butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat for a min or  two. Add vanilla essence ,half of the flour and mix for 2 mins .
  • Next Add pumpkin purée , milk and remaining flour and mix foranother 2-3 mins until well incorporated. Pour the batter into the sprayed bundt pan and bake at 350*F for 55-60 mins .
  • Let cool to room temperature and invert it onto a Cake stand. Spoon the icing on the cake . Enjoy. 

 

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Thanks for stopping by .

Rajini

Mango Kulfi

Hi Friends.Only three weeks left to enjoy this summer weather and we will be rolling into fall season before we know it.  I have been in a rut and havent been posting much ,but finally took a break from everything else and got back to blogging.

This weekend is going to be super hot in bay area and seems to be the  perfect time to enjoy kulfi. I have made it three times already this summer,it’s that good. Rich , creamy and delicious . Best part is you don’t have to make it only in summers, but all year round as I used Store bought Mango pulp .

Childhood memories and the food associated with those memories bring back so much nostalgia. As  kids ,every year we would look forward to going to the All India exhibition also called as Numaish (in urdu) in our City . It starts New years Day until mid February for approx 45 days and features variety of eateries , entertainment, joy rides  and shopping. Its  basically a one stop shop for all handicrafts , garments  from all over India including local food. Apart from shopping for my favourite Lucknowi Kurtis ( embroidered tops ) ,i would look forward to relishing the delicious kulfi . After eating all the popcorn , mirchi bajjis ( chilli fritters ) , Chicken / Egg puffs we would finish off with Kulfi at the end of the Night. Always a standard and everyone’s favourite. Oh how i miss those days !!! . Anyways ,didn’t know that you could  make it at home  and requires just few ingredients. Its  not churned and so is denser & creamier than western ice-cream, which makes it easy to make at home as you don’t need an ice-cream maker. Follow  the recipe below for this delicious mango kulfi . 
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Mango Kulfi

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 can Sweetened  Condensed Milk
  • 4 Cups Whole Milk
  • 3 Cups Mango Pulp ( I used store-bought Mango Pulp .Desai Bandhu is the Brand )
  • 30 Almonds
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • Silvered Almonds for Garnish

Directions

  • Soak the almonds in warm water for about 30 mins . Remove the skins and make a smooth paste with 4tbsp milk.
  • Take a medium-sized pan and add 4 cups milk , condensed milk and almond paste. Cook on medium heat for 15 -20 mins stirring often making sure the its doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. The mixture will starts to thicken and reduce.
  • Switch off the heat and let cool to room temperature. Now whisk in the Mango pulp until everything is incorporated.
  • Pour this mixture into kulfi cups , glasses or moulds and garnish with Slivered Almonds. Cover each one with plastic wrap or Aluminium foil and freeze till it sets for upto 5hrs or overnight. Now they are ready to Enjoy .

 

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Thanks for stopping by .

Rajini

 

Thandai

Hi Friends. Its almost the end of winter and less than a week for Holi. Holi is a  spring festival in  India also known as festival of colors. It signifies the arrival of spring and celebrations usually involve gathering of friends and playing with colors , dance and relishing lots of food and drinks. I still miss the fun in india , but try to celebrate as much as i can here with my friends. One of the most popular drinks in North India served during Holi is Thandai. Its a refreshing drink made with nuts and spices and has a cooling effect on the body hence the name “thandai” . I never tried it back when i was living in India ,but now i make it every  year around this time and it has become one of my favourite drink.  Do try making it this holi . Recipe below.

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Thandai

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon Whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar ( less or more depending on how sweet you like it )
  • 3 tbsps rose water
  • Pinch of saffron soaked in 3tbsps warm milk

Ingredients to be soaked in 1/2 cup water

  • 25 Almonds
  • 25 Cashew nuts
  • 15 Pistachios
  • 1 tbsp Fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp Poppy seeds
  • 10 Peppercorns

Directions

  • Soak the the required ingredients in 1/2 cup water for 30mins . Strain the water leaving a little / 2tbsps water  and grind it to fine paste and set aside.
  • Boil ½ gallon milk in a pot on medium heat for approx 5 mins ,stirring and making sure the bottom doesn’t stick to the pot . Switch off the flame and let it cool to room temperature. Add the paste and sugar to the milk and mix it until completely combined.
  • Set aside in the refregirator for 2hrs so all the flavors are well incorporated.
  •  Strain the milk into a pitcher and discard the residue. Now add the rose water and saffron milk.  
  • Chill for an hr and then pour into serving glasses , garnished with crushed pistachios and almonds. Enjoy.

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Thanks for stopping by .

Rajini

Paneer Zucchini Kofta Curry

Hi Friends. Heres the recipe for Paneer Zucchini Kofta Curry. I remember mom making vegetable kofta curry, when we were kids on special occasions and that used to be one of my favorite on the menu aside from Palak paneer. I favor non-vegetarian food any day , but the deep-fried kofte and the delicious sauce always had me craving for more. I  have cooked with zucchini , but most of the time non-indian dishes and my favorite being Zucchini bread. Since it has a mild , delicate flavor and doesn’t overpower the dish , i used grated Zucchini for the kofte. And the addition of coconut milk to the gravy  gives it a rich taste but not too heavy. Even though its time consuming, the combination of all these flavors is delicious and well worth the effort. So for your next gathering if your are looking to make something diffrent this is a perfect vegetarian dish.

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Paneer Zuchhini Kofta Curry

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

For the Kofte

  • 1 Cup Grated Paneer
  • 1 Cup Grated Zucchini
  • 1 Cup mashed Potato
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Bread Crumbs
  • 3tbsps Corn flour 
  • 1.5 tsp Chilli powder
  • 1 tsp Ginger and garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Salt as required
  • Oil to deep fry

For the Sauce / Gravy

  • 2 tomatoes chopped 
  • 1/2  onion chopped
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
  • 1.5 tsp chilli powder
  • 2tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin pwder
  • 1 tsp Garam masala powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt as needed.
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil

Directions

Making the Koftas

  • Grate zucchini with the skin and set side for 5 mins. It leaves a lot of water. Squeeze the water out of Zucchini and add it to a mixing bowl .
  •  Boil the potatoes,peel and mash them . Add this to the grated zucchini , paneer , breadcrumbs ,mint leaves, corn flour , ginger garlic paste , chilli powder and salt. Mix it well and using your hands, shape them into medium-sized balls /koftas.  Coat with some cornflour if needed to make it extra crispy.
  • Fry the kofta, in batches, for 3-4 minutes or until  golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel and set aside.

Making the gravy /sauce.

  • Heat 2tbsp oil in a pan and saute onions ,tomatoes for 3-4 mins. Remove from heat, let it cool and  grind them into a fine paste .
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan  on medium heat and add ginger /garlic paste.Saute for few seconds and add the pureed onion /tomato mixture,  spice powders and saute until the sides leave the pan for approx 5 mins.
  • Now add coconut milk , 1/2 cup water and simmer on low heat for 10 mins . When the gravy starts to thicken add garam masala and switch off the heat. Now add the fried koftas and let it soak for few mins. Garnish with fresh cilantro and cashew nuts. Enjoy with some fresh parathas , rotis or rice.

 

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Thanks for stopping by .

Rajini

Spinach Cilantro Rotis / Palak Dhaniya Rotis

Rotis are  traditional flat bread originating from the Indian subcontinent and usually eaten with cooked vegetables or curries. Most often made from whole wheat flour and cooked on a flat pan / tawa. There are many variations of rotis in every region / culture. These spinach rotis are inspired from traditional gujrati theplas ,which are more thinner version and made with fenugreek leaves. Since spinach /palak is more easily available,i made these with pureed cilantro leaves for  extra kick of flavor and spiced with red chilli powder and green chillies.  You wouldn’t need any other veggie or curry to eat with because its very flavorful and tasty just as is. Make ahead and you could store it up to 5 days when refrigerated . It’ll make an easy snack or as lunch box for kids with some pickle and yogurt. Recipe below.

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Spinach Cilantro Rotis /Palak Dhaniya Rotis

Ingredients

  • 2 & 1/2  cups Fresh Spinach leaves washed and chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro leaves chopped
  •  2 & 1/2 cups Whole wheat Flour for the dough & more as needed for dusting while making rotis
  • 1/2  cup Chick pea Flour (Besan)
  • 3 tbsp plain yoghurt 
  • 1.5 tsp Green chilli paste ( thai chillies made into paste )
  • 1tsp Red chilli powder ( less or more depending on your spice level)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder 
  • 2 tsps coriander powder
  • 1/4  tsp cumin powder
  • 1.5 tsp salt or as needed
  • 1 tsp ginger / garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp crushed ajwain ( carom seeds )
  • 1/4 cup water or less
  • 3-4 tsps of oil for frying 

Directions

  • In a mixing bowl combine both the flours , chilli powder ,turmeric powder, coriander powder , cumin powder ,ajwain seeds , ginger garlic paste , salt ,chopped spinach and set aside. Grind cilantro leaves and yoghurt into a smooth paste .
  • Add this mixture to the flours along with green chilli paste and knead into a firm dough by adding water as needed and set aside for 30 mins.
  • After 30 mins if the dough becomes too sticky add some more wheat flour and knead it smooth . Divide into 18 to  20 equal portions and flatten each ball b/w the palm of your hand.
  • Dust some wheat flour on a board and roll each ball into a flat disc approx 5 inches diameter with a rolling pin.
  • Heat a nontick frying pan / tawa and roast/shallow fry  the roti on both sides with some oil  until its completely cooked and has brown /black spots on it.  Reapeat the process for all the rotis.
  • Serve them Slathered with clarified butter and pickle or eat as is.

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Thanks for stopping by .

Rajini

Nutella Wine Hot Chocolate

Hi friends . Its still chilly weather in Bay area and I am enjoying every bit of it ,sitting by the fire with a cozy blanket and a warm drink. When it comes to warm drinks, Hot chocolate tops the list for me . My dear friend Rachel ,who loves Hot chocolate a lil too much gave me the idea to make this drink. We both enjoy wine tasting and all wine related things. And come to think of it , i have been to several Vineyards in Napa with wine and chocolate pairing and its the best . So instead of using chocolate chips, i used Nutella because i like the hazel nut flavor which goes really well with wine. Red wine intensifies the chocolate flavor and a  Merlot or Pinot Noir works well. I used BV Coastal Estates 2013 Merlot . Its full bodied with notes of dark berry,plum and Mocha when mixed with milk , nutella and cocoa powder turns into a thick ,creamy , rich  deliciousness . 

So all you Nutella , Wine and Hot chocolate lovers this is the Drink for you. Happy Friday . Do try it and leave me a note .Recipe below. 

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Nutella Wine Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Milk
  • 1 Cup Red Wine ( I used BV Coastal Estates Merlot )
  • 1/2 Cup Nutella Hazelnut spread
  • 2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa powder
  • Marshmallows as needed

Directions

  • In a Medium Sauce pan combine 1 cup milk ,nutella and cocoa powder. Whisk  constantly on  low to medium flame for approx 1 min until  well incorporated.
  • Now add the remaining milk and wine and heat it for approx 2 to 3 mins stiring it until it reaches a rich , smooth texture.
  • Turn off the heat and pour into 4 cups . Serve immedeatly with toasted marshmallows.
  • To toast mashmallows turn the oven to broil mode. On a lined  baking tray place the marshmallows and broil for 2-3 mins until charred. Watch constantly as they toast very quickly .

 

 

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Thanks for stopping by .

Rajini

Ande ka Saalan / Hyderabadi Egg curry

After living in United  States for more than a decade now i have adapted to lot of things culturally. One such thing is to never dropping in on friends/relatives without calling ahead , especially weekdays when we are busy winding down for the day . And it makes sense to me .But , growing up in India its very common for relatives , guests to drop by unexpected without notice and sometimes endup  staying for lunch or dinner. We would pretty often have an uncle or aunt visiting us and mom would whip up a quick meal with Egg curry , lentils / dal , flavoured rice , yoghurt and some fryums. Egg curry seemed a little bit more special than regular veggies and can me made in 30 mins, so mom would make it quite often.

Hyderabadi cusine is known for its rich spices ,salans and biryanis .The use of dry coconut, tamarind, and red chillies along with many spices are the common  ingredients that make Hyderabadi cuisine different .Ande ka salan means Eggs in a gravy ,is often found in most restaurants in Hyderabad (India) served along with Chicken biryani .Its one of the most flavorful dishes usually spicy with a tangy masala gravy, often a staple in most homes. Its my go to dish for any occasion including sunday lunches , whick takes me back to my nostalgic days back home. It tastes delicious served with simple rice or rotis.  Recipe below. 

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Ande ka Saalan / Hyderabadi Egg curry

Ingredients

  • 8 Hard Boiled eggs ( shelled )
  • 2 medium sized onions chopped roughly ( around 1.5 cups )
  • 3/4 cup tamarind juice ( extracted from a lemon sized tamarindpulp )
  • 4 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 tsps red chilli powder ( add more or less accordind to your spice level)
  • 3 tsps coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp dry coconut powder
  • 2 tsps peanut powder ( dry roast peanuts to a fine powder )
  • 1/4 tsp methi powder
  • 1tsp garam masala powder
  • salt as needed
  • chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

Directions

  • Take a deep non stick pan and saute the chopped onions with 2tbsps oil on medium heat until dark golden brown. Cool to room tempeature , grind to a fine paste and set aside.
  • In the same pan add the remaining 2 tbsp oil , turmeric and boiled eggs and saute for a min on low to medium heat.
  • Now add ginger garlic paste ,onion paste , coriander powder , chilli powder , methi powder ,salt and saute for 2-3 mins on low to medium heat .
  • Now add the tamarind juice , peanut and coconut powders and simmer on medium heat for 5 mins  .Add 1 cup of water and simmer on medium heat for 10 more mins .
  • The gravy will start to thicken.Finally adjust the salt ,add garam masala and garnish with chopped cilatro leaves and swtich off the heat.
  • Serve with rice , parathas or rotis.

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Thanks for stopping by .

Rajini

Chai Persimmon Cake

Hi friends. Cant believe it’s the end of 2016. This year was filled with sweet memories of travel to my favorite places ( Paris, London , India ) , meeting family , wonderful moments with friends and loved ones and also starting this blog where I share my love of food and fashion. Although I was not able to post as much I wanted to ,as I work full time and was busy with other commitments , I hope in 2017  i will be able to give more time to this space. Its not the cooking which takes time but finding the right time to take photographs , editing them and writing up. So, to end the year on a sweet note my last recipe is a delicious cake recipe with my favorite ingredients.

Chai is something I Am addicted to I should say 😊. One evening after a tiring day , relaxing and sipping chai along with relishing vanilla cake slice ,thought in my head why not add this sweet , flavorful  concoction in a cake .So the next day I baked  this delicious , sweet goodness and took it to work ,which was a big hit. To add more moisture and softness added persimmon puree which complements the chai and cardamom flavors so well. Its almost the end of persimmon season and I can’t get enough of them 😀 He he. You could substitute the persimmon puree with apple puree too (  Just  core the apple , cut up into pieces , boil till soft and puree them )  . Do try this recipe, you will be surprised how flavorful and delicious this cake is.

Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year filled with love , family , friendships and overall happiness and peace in whatever you are doing and wherever you are.

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Chai Persimmon Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups All purpose Flour
  • 1.5 sticks butter ( 3/4 cup)
  • 1.5 cups Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup Persimmon puree ( purée from Hachiya persimmons )
  • 3/4 cup Chai  ( premade chai liquid)
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 tsp Baking powder.

To make chai

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 -2 black tea bag ( depending on how strong you like )
  • 4 whole cardamoms crushed to powder

Directions

  • Boil water in a sauce pan and add the tea bags and crushed cardamom for  3 mins on medium heat  . Now add milk and boil until it turns brick red color and reduced to 3/4 cup . Turn it off,remove the tea bags and set aside to cool to room temperature
  • Pre heat the oven to 350*F. Mix flour, baking soda and baking powder and set aside. Spray a 9 inch bundt pan and set aside.
  • In a bowl Beat Butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat for a min or  two. Add half of the flour and mix for 2 mins .
  • Next Add persimmon purée , chai liquid and remaining flour and mix for 2-3 mins until well incorporated. Pour the batter into the sprayed bundt pan and bake at 350*F for 55-60 mins .
  • Let cool to room temperature and invert it onto a Cake stand. Dust  confectioners sugar and serve it as dessert or with a cup of chai or coffee.

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Thanks for stopping by .

Rajini