Third World Baker

I live in India and I love baking. This for me is a process riddled with substitutions and inventions. This is how I make things still taste great. (Now featuring non baked food as well, as the mood strikes.)
In which I add bacon to everything
I once ate a vegetarian version of this at my ex’s place and realising its potential with a bit of tweaking, always meant to do my own version of it. The other day, through a concatenation of circumstances I ended up with a pound of bacon in the fridge which I did not want to fry and devour immediately. At first I thought of making a mascarpone, spinach and bacon pasta, which then became a tuna pasta bake (the latter had nothing to do with the original ingredient) for which I went to buy the ingredients today. And I couldn’t find any tuna which wasn’t weird or spiced or dunked in mayonnaise, this being Calcutta. In the end I just came away with a tub of ricotta which cost me almost all of my money. (Cheese is an expensive commodity in the Third World) Thus the idea for the spinach, bacon and ricotta pasta was born. Ofcourse we then had to go to another supermarket and find spinach while elbowing throngs of people ( this being a Sunday night and thus shopping night) which was an adventure in itself. In the end this took all of 10 minutes to cook and was delicious to boot. 


Ingredients:
(Makes 3 servings)
250 g pasta (I used penne)
1 tub riccotta
500 g spinach
1 large onion
4-6 garlic cloves
1 cup milk
6 rashers of bacon (upgrade to 8 if you like, personally I could have done with more bacon)
Put a pot of water into boil with a bit of salt in it.
Once the water starts boiling, put the pasta in to cook, for exactly 10 minutes. 
Drain. 
While the pasta is cooking, cut the bacon with a pair of scissors into a large frying pan. 
Let the bacon sizzle, render fat and fry for a bit. 
Add the onions and the garlic and fry till soft and translucent and beginning to brown. 
Add the spinach in two additions, as it cooks it will wilt and reduce in volume.
Once the spinach is wilted, add a cup of milk and stir. 
Empty the tub of riccotta into this and stir to blend. 
Once the cheese is blended and forms a thick sauce with the milk, check for seasonings and take off heat. 
Stir this into the cooked pasta.
Aaaand you’re done! 

In which I add bacon to everything


I once ate a vegetarian version of this at my ex’s place and realising its potential with a bit of tweaking, always meant to do my own version of it. The other day, through a concatenation of circumstances I ended up with a pound of bacon in the fridge which I did not want to fry and devour immediately. At first I thought of making a mascarpone, spinach and bacon pasta, which then became a tuna pasta bake (the latter had nothing to do with the original ingredient) for which I went to buy the ingredients today. And I couldn’t find any tuna which wasn’t weird or spiced or dunked in mayonnaise, this being Calcutta. In the end I just came away with a tub of ricotta which cost me almost all of my money. (Cheese is an expensive commodity in the Third World) Thus the idea for the spinach, bacon and ricotta pasta was born. Ofcourse we then had to go to another supermarket and find spinach while elbowing throngs of people ( this being a Sunday night and thus shopping night) which was an adventure in itself. In the end this took all of 10 minutes to cook and was delicious to boot. 


Ingredients:

(Makes 3 servings)


250 g pasta (I used penne)

1 tub riccotta

500 g spinach

1 large onion

4-6 garlic cloves

1 cup milk

6 rashers of bacon (upgrade to 8 if you like, personally I could have done with more bacon)

Put a pot of water into boil with a bit of salt in it.

Once the water starts boiling, put the pasta in to cook, for exactly 10 minutes. 

Drain. 

While the pasta is cooking, cut the bacon with a pair of scissors into a large frying pan. 

Let the bacon sizzle, render fat and fry for a bit. 

Add the onions and the garlic and fry till soft and translucent and beginning to brown. 

Add the spinach in two additions, as it cooks it will wilt and reduce in volume.

Once the spinach is wilted, add a cup of milk and stir. 

Empty the tub of riccotta into this and stir to blend. 

Once the cheese is blended and forms a thick sauce with the milk, check for seasonings and take off heat. 

Stir this into the cooked pasta.

Aaaand you’re done! 

In which I cook instead of bake
Today’s dinner was goat with raisins or the easiest goat thing you will ever make. Sure it’s a bit time consuming but essentially you have to do nothing. The book I got my recipe from is a strange one. It is called ‘Cooking of the Maharajas’ and it features recipes from the old  (now defunct) princely states of India. It is however written by an American woman who wrote it for people living in America. The recipes work everytime though. I have been cooking from this since 2005 and rarely have I gone wrong with this. This particular recipe caught my eye when I was looking for something simple and that’s what this was called - Something Simple. 
Ingredients
1 1/2 tablespoons of raisins (seedless obvs)
1 cup yoghurt, (plain, white), beaten till smooth
1 1/2 tablespoon of grated ginger
2-3 tsp of ground red pepper
3/4 tsp powdered cardamom
1 1/2 tablespoon powdered coriander
600g goat (fatty, on the bone and cut into 2 inch pieces)
1/2 cup clarified butter or as much as you like
3 medium onions
Salt to taste
 Beat the yoghurt and soak the raisins in it.
Make a paste of the minced ginger, red pepper, cardamom and cumin and coat the meat in it. 
In the clarified butter fry the onions till soft.
Add the meat and fry, scraping it off the sides and bottom if it sticks. Fry till the meat looks brown (about 5-7 minutes)
Add 1 1/2 litres of water (usually 1 bottle is 1 litre) and cover. Let it boil and reduce. This is something I have discovered while cooking meat, that the only way to ensure it is cooked through is to boil it in a generous quantity of water after frying it , reducing it in the process. 
After the water is half its original quantity, add the yoghurt and the raisin mix and reduce further. 
When it has reduced to a thick sauce, take off heat and pour into baking dish. 
Cover with kitchen foil and bake at 180 C for 45 minutes. 

In which I cook instead of bake

Today’s dinner was goat with raisins or the easiest goat thing you will ever make. Sure it’s a bit time consuming but essentially you have to do nothing. The book I got my recipe from is a strange one. It is called ‘Cooking of the Maharajas’ and it features recipes from the old  (now defunct) princely states of India. It is however written by an American woman who wrote it for people living in America. The recipes work everytime though. I have been cooking from this since 2005 and rarely have I gone wrong with this. This particular recipe caught my eye when I was looking for something simple and that’s what this was called - Something Simple. 

Ingredients


1 1/2 tablespoons of raisins (seedless obvs)

1 cup yoghurt, (plain, white), beaten till smooth

1 1/2 tablespoon of grated ginger

2-3 tsp of ground red pepper

3/4 tsp powdered cardamom

1 1/2 tablespoon powdered coriander

600g goat (fatty, on the bone and cut into 2 inch pieces)

1/2 cup clarified butter or as much as you like

3 medium onions

Salt to taste

 Beat the yoghurt and soak the raisins in it.

Make a paste of the minced ginger, red pepper, cardamom and cumin and coat the meat in it. 

In the clarified butter fry the onions till soft.

Add the meat and fry, scraping it off the sides and bottom if it sticks. Fry till the meat looks brown (about 5-7 minutes)

Add 1 1/2 litres of water (usually 1 bottle is 1 litre) and cover. Let it boil and reduce. This is something I have discovered while cooking meat, that the only way to ensure it is cooked through is to boil it in a generous quantity of water after frying it , reducing it in the process. 

After the water is half its original quantity, add the yoghurt and the raisin mix and reduce further. 

When it has reduced to a thick sauce, take off heat and pour into baking dish. 

Cover with kitchen foil and bake at 180 C for 45 minutes. 

In which I overindulge on peanut butter

I love peanut butter. I love cookies. Hence what better than peanut butter cookies? I originally wanted to make Koulourakia (Greek butter cookies) but my tried and tested recipe seems to have disappeared from the internet. I did find a recipe for peanut butter cookies on Simply Recipes though and with a bit of tweaking it was perfect. The baking time was more than stated on the original recipe but oven temperatures always differ for everyone. The result was a light, crisp cookie infused with peanut butteryness. 

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter. I used Skippy’s standard smooth one but feel free to experiment with chunky peanut butters and see what happens! 
100 g butter
2 small eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. This means that it should be easy to whip around and not stick. 
Add peanut butter and blend. 
Add eggs and blend. (If blending by hand, beat the eggs first)
In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour and the baking powder. 
Pour the peanut butter mix into the flour and blend till just combined. As usual, don’t overmix. 
Cover the bowl with clingfilm or kitchen foil and refrigerate for 3 hours. 




Cookie dough!
At the end of three hours, set oven to preheat at 170 C. 
Butter a cookie sheet thoroughly. 
With your hands roll out a small ball of dough and place on baking sheet. 
Now, using a fork make criss crosses on the ball of dough. This will also flatten it out. The end result should look like this. 

Yes, my baking sheet is old and burnt. 
Bake for 7 minutes and then turn the sheet around in the oven to ensure even baking. Bake for 7 more minutes. 
Cool on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to wire rack. 

The are slightly underbaked since I baked them for 10 minutes as per the recipe. The end result should look like the first photo. 

In which I overindulge on peanut butter

I love peanut butter. I love cookies. Hence what better than peanut butter cookies? I originally wanted to make Koulourakia (Greek butter cookies) but my tried and tested recipe seems to have disappeared from the internet. I did find a recipe for peanut butter cookies on Simply Recipes though and with a bit of tweaking it was perfect. The baking time was more than stated on the original recipe but oven temperatures always differ for everyone. The result was a light, crisp cookie infused with peanut butteryness. 

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup peanut butter. I used Skippy’s standard smooth one but feel free to experiment with chunky peanut butters and see what happens! 

100 g butter

2 small eggs

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tbsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. This means that it should be easy to whip around and not stick. 

Add peanut butter and blend. 

Add eggs and blend. (If blending by hand, beat the eggs first)

In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour and the baking powder. 

Pour the peanut butter mix into the flour and blend till just combined. As usual, don’t overmix. 

Cover the bowl with clingfilm or kitchen foil and refrigerate for 3 hours. 

Cookie dough!


At the end of three hours, set oven to preheat at 170 C. 

Butter a cookie sheet thoroughly. 

With your hands roll out a small ball of dough and place on baking sheet. 

Now, using a fork make criss crosses on the ball of dough. This will also flatten it out. The end result should look like this. 

Yes, my baking sheet is old and burnt. 

Bake for 7 minutes and then turn the sheet around in the oven to ensure even baking. Bake for 7 more minutes. 

Cool on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to wire rack. 

The are slightly underbaked since I baked them for 10 minutes as per the recipe. The end result should look like the first photo. 

In which I overdose on walnuts again and add alcohol to everything
This is not the first time I have made banana bread, but it is certainly the most successful. I knew baking with bananas produced a moist, delicate crumb but I had quite forgotten how good it could be. The last time it was banana nutella cupcakes. This time it is a jazzed up banana bread, adapted from this recipe. 
Ingredients
4 small ripe bananas. Now I would urge you to use the ripest brownest ones you can find. Don’t worry if it is brown inside, it just makes the crumb even more moist.
1 cup flour.
100 g butter, melted.
1 cup sugar. I would preferably have used brown sugar for more body but in the absence of that white had to do.
1 egg. 
Generous splash of Cognac. I used Cognac because it was either that or doctor’s brandy. You can use rum. 
2 tablespoons yogurt. 
Generous splash of vanilla essence. 
1 tablespoon baking powder. 
Cup of chopped walnuts. 
First preheat oven to 175 c. 
Then combine flour and baking powder in a bowl with a spoon/fork/eggbeater. I used to sift these together when I first started baking but there really is no need. 
Melt the butter over low heat. 
In a blender, puree the bananas. 
Add the butter and blitz. 
Add sugar and blitz. 
Add the Cognac/rum and the yogurt and blitz.
Add the egg and ditto. 
Add the vanilla and ditto.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a blender though. You can do all this just as easy by hand. Just remember to beat the egg before adding to the pulpy mix. 
The mixture should be pourable by now. 
Pour it into the flour and mix till just combined. As again, do not overmix. 
Pour it into a buttered baking dish (you don’t need to line it)
Scatter chopped walnuts on top and immediately put inside the oven. Immediately. Remember about the gluten? 
I baked it for 20 minutes on one side and 7 on the other. Always, always always turn your cakes, or the far side risks getting burnt. I would say bake it 15 minutes on each side, and check to see doneness by inserting a knife into it. If it comes out almost clean then you’re done. 
Wait for it to cool and dig in! 

In which I overdose on walnuts again and add alcohol to everything

This is not the first time I have made banana bread, but it is certainly the most successful. I knew baking with bananas produced a moist, delicate crumb but I had quite forgotten how good it could be. The last time it was banana nutella cupcakes. This time it is a jazzed up banana bread, adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

4 small ripe bananas. Now I would urge you to use the ripest brownest ones you can find. Don’t worry if it is brown inside, it just makes the crumb even more moist.

1 cup flour.

100 g butter, melted.

1 cup sugar. I would preferably have used brown sugar for more body but in the absence of that white had to do.

1 egg. 

Generous splash of Cognac. I used Cognac because it was either that or doctor’s brandy. You can use rum. 

2 tablespoons yogurt. 

Generous splash of vanilla essence. 

1 tablespoon baking powder. 

Cup of chopped walnuts. 

First preheat oven to 175 c. 

Then combine flour and baking powder in a bowl with a spoon/fork/eggbeater. I used to sift these together when I first started baking but there really is no need. 

Melt the butter over low heat. 

In a blender, puree the bananas. 

Add the butter and blitz. 

Add sugar and blitz. 

Add the Cognac/rum and the yogurt and blitz.

Add the egg and ditto. 

Add the vanilla and ditto.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a blender though. You can do all this just as easy by hand. Just remember to beat the egg before adding to the pulpy mix. 

The mixture should be pourable by now. 

Pour it into the flour and mix till just combined. As again, do not overmix. 

Pour it into a buttered baking dish (you don’t need to line it)

Scatter chopped walnuts on top and immediately put inside the oven. Immediately. Remember about the gluten? 

I baked it for 20 minutes on one side and 7 on the other. Always, always always turn your cakes, or the far side risks getting burnt. I would say bake it 15 minutes on each side, and check to see doneness by inserting a knife into it. If it comes out almost clean then you’re done. 

Wait for it to cool and dig in!