Friday, May 06, 2016

Classic Cake Series : Madeira Cake

My baking journey began when I was in class 7. We had a stove-top oven which resembled an idli cooker and the cake I had perfected was the sponge cake that was in the oven’s recipe book. Of course that was during the pre-internet stage and cake was still a western goody.

Along the journey I experimented variations of that lovely sponge. I never felt the need to try a different sponge until I actually started studying recipes and cakes. Now that I bake for commercial orders, I have little time left to bake something for myself. And each time I do get a chance I pick a naked cake, which is free from any kind of icing.

I spend a lot of time reading about classic cakes and decided that I am going to try all of them, in my own time, of course. The first on the list was the Madeira cake.

 This cake has a firm yet light and fine texture making it a perfect base for decoration. It is eaten with tea or  for breakfast and is traditionally flavoured with lemon. This cake dates back to 18th century. Madeira cake is similar to a pound cake or yellow cake.

It is named after Madeira wine, a Portuguese wine which was popular in England and the cake was served with wine. It is often mistaken that the cake originated from Madeira Islands.

175 gms / ¾ cup unsalted butter
175 gms / 1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
15 ml/ 1 tbsp lemon juice
225 gms/ 2 cups all purpose flour
7.5 ml / 1 ½ tsp baking powder.

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease a 7 inch round deep cake tin and line with parchment paper. Sieve the flour with baking powder. Beat together butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in the lemon juice. Stir in the flour and baking powder. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.

Bake for about 40 mins , until golden brown or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool in the til for about 45 mins.

The original recipe called for a baking time of 1 ¼ - 1 ½ hour, but my cake was ready in 40 mins or so.

I used two 6 inch pans and divided the batter equally.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

About Me

Hey, thanks for stopping by! I am glad you found me amidst the million other food blogs on the world wide web.

I am Melisha and here’s a little about me. From being a child who hated eating, I grew up into a big foodie who HAS to eat something interesting every day. Cooking and baking are my favourite pastimes. 

Being the only child with a single parent, cooking came in very early into my life. By class 4, I knew to make a decent fish curry – a sample food for most Mangaloreans. I was in class 5 when I made my first chicken curry. It is till date the best dish I have ever prepared. Here’s something I cant resist telling you. It was a dish called chicken pot roast from a recipe book which comes with a product. It was the first time I tried marinating. I loved the fact that so many ingredients went in and the chicken would soak in it overnight that I put in extra ingredients (in fact all) from another recipe on the opposite page. The result was a yummy mix of I don’t know what! I still am very proud of what I did that day. Then of course daily cooking and Sunday experiments continued and there was no looking back.

I was in class 7 when I got into baking. A traditional oven which looked more like an idli cooker and a wooden spoon became my best friends. Of course, I had to rely on the recipe book that came with the oven. I had a base recipe and tried sssoooo many combinations. I experimented. All of them tasted great, but yes did have an occasional flaw. I would on purpose add a little  more of some ingredient to see what it did to the cake. Those experiments have taught me so many things that today I am glad I came that way.

Cakes for all occasions, free Christmas cakes for all those I met, occasional biscuits, a few cupcakes here and there. Several years later, I gifted myself an OTG out of the blue and a hand mixer. It was probably ‘that feeling’ that I would put it to good use.

In my 17th year of baking and my first year as a mother of an adorable boy I decided, I was going to follow my passion and started Just Like Mum’s (  in 2014. I knew I had to do something with my interests. Many friends encouraged me with regular orders. I started taking baking classes because I knew I was good at teaching and was confident of all that I had learnt over the years. I am blessed because I have a wonderful mum and husband who keep my interest as priority and work everything around it.

Why this blog? I loved writing, eating out and started out with this blog for restaurant reviews and now with so many recipes in my diaries, I wanted a place to keep the, safe. Now you know!

Thank you for patiently reading through my story. I hope you find what you are looking for in this blog.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Eggless Tender Coconut Souffle

The day I dug my spoon into a tender coconut souffle years ago, I knew I had to make it. This dessert makes me fall in love with it with each passing bite. The restaurant I had it in served it as part of their buffet and I remember shamelessly serving myself again and again and again. This is a famous dessert in Kerala and there are loads of recipes on the net. Many call it a  pudding too. I didnt want ANY recipe. I wanted an easy peasy exact tasting recipe. After several tries, I did stumble upon this recipe and its super duper awesome. The sad part is I dont remember the source as I had written down too many versions of the souffle.

This has become such a popular dessert now at Just Like Mum's, Bangalore that I get many orders for this one. 

All this takes is three simple ingredients - coconut milk, condensed milk and gelatin. Well, the other recipes on the net have a lot more ingredients and the results were not great. 

Here's my treasured recipe of the tender coconut souffle. 

Ingredients: Sweetened Condensed milk - 400 ml Gelatin - 3 tbsp Tender Coconut water - 5 cups
Method: Take half a cup of warm water and dissolve the gelatin making sure no lumps are formed. In a large bowl, add the condensed milk and dissolve the gelatin mixture in it slowly without forming lumps. Now pour the coconut water into this bowl and mix well.
  Pour into desired serving glasses/bowls and refrigerate for  3-4 hours or until set. Garnish with fruit of your choice or chocolate decorations like I have done and serve chilled.

  • If you have unsweetened condensed milk, add about 2 tbsp of sugar.
  • Use tender coconuts which have cream (malai) in them for better taste and texture.
  • I have not tried this with agar agar, you are free to try it and let me know.
  • This recipe serves a llloooottt of people. Feel free to reduce it as per your choice.
  • Refrigerated, this stays good for a week. 
  • Use garnishes just before serving.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Tao Terraces

A perfect date it was! Asian food, romantic restaurant and my 4-month old fast asleep. 

Tao Terraces would not have happened, had it not been for a meal voucher we got for that place. Considering my little one can’t be out all day, we do not travel far when we want to have a good meal.
The craving for Asian food had been there for very long but I had to avoid it to stay healthy for the baby. This was like a major indulgence in many ways for me.
Tao Terraces is a great place for a fine dining experience. With a water body right in the middle and several Buddha statues adorning the walls, the place warms the heart. Their menu spans across Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines. The place also offers a buffet which we chose in order to make sure we tried a whole lot of stuff.
The buffet per say is not a spread. Each dish is brought to you when you pick it from the menu. I missed peeping through multiple dishes. With the little one sleeping on the couch until mid-way through our main course, Vinod and I did manage to enjoy our food and our time together.
So here’s what we sampled through the afternoon. And yes the pics are bad! With diapers, water bottle, rattle, change clothes, umbrella, hand towels, wallet and wet wipes, I totally forgot to carry a camera. So we had to make do with a mobile camera in low light.
Soups : We tried both the Veg Tom Yum and the Chicken Hot and Sour Soup. Both had sharp tastes but nothing out of the ordinary. Vinod said they were both great for his stuffy nose on a rainy afternoon.

Veg Tom Yum Soup

Chicken Hot & Sour Soup
 Starters : On offer were three veg and three non veg starters.
Chicken Dimsums which were like comfort food for us were great with the honey chilli sauce. The diced chicken with ginger and red chilli was superb with tender pieces of chicken well marinated and cooked. 
Chicken Dimsums

Diced chicken with ginger and red chilli (fish in the background)
The wok tossed fish in fermented black bean and peanut sauce was good but not better than the chicken.
And then we decided we wanted to taste the veg spring rolls. I wonder why I did that. The after taste of flour in the rolls remained until main course arrived.
For main course, there was the quintessential Thai Red Curry and Green Curry. My meal was done with this. I cleared went in for the buffet for these two items and I made sure I had my fill. 

Thai Green Curry

Thai Red Curry
The green curry is usually my favourite but somehow there the red curry took over. It was creamier and perfectly spiced. My mouth is still watering as I write about it. Loved it! I missed the plain rice here. We were served Szechwan fried rice and Hakka noodles, both of which were good.

Szechwan fried rice
Vegetable Hakka Noodles
Somewhere in between we had a mixed vegetable and tofu with bamboo shoots in a black bean sauce. Decent, but again not out of this world. Another dish worthy of mention is the Wok tossed fish in a Chinese Parsley sauce. This was mildly spiced and went well with both the rice and the noodles.
Mixed vegetables in black bean sauce

Fish in Chinese Parsley Sauce
 The buffet also came with a drink. I picked a Fresh Lime soda and Vinod picked a pint of beer.

Fresh Lime Soda
For the dessert, we were served a platter of fresh fruit, banana toffee, Darsan with vanilla ice cream. The Darsan was good but the ice cream was sadly below average. 
The desserts
While this meal was not very different from any of the regular Asian food joints, the ambience gives it those extra points and for me it was clearly the red curry.
Will I go back there? May be, if someone treats me again J
Pay by : Cash and cards
Average meal for two : Rs 1500
Mel’s overall rating : 2.5 out of 5
Location: 5th Floor, 1 MG Mall, Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Halasuru, Bangalore, Karnataka 560008. Phone: 098 86 640445

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shivaji Military Hotel

At the place I work, the food courts are filled beyond capacity during the lunch hours. You have to make a couple of rounds staring into plates to see who is about to finish. Then you quietly stand behind them to politely remind them that it is time they vacated the place. And as they are almost done, you begin to make your way into their chair ensuring nobody gets there before you.
Well, that was the scene at Shivaji Military Hotel when we went there for lunch one Sunday. Our fault, we picked the busiest day and the busiest time (1 PM). But no complaints on that because we expected the rush.
The restaurant is in a narrow lane very close to the Banashankari Bus stand. Ask for directions if needed. This humble eatery has won several coveted awards and you have to visit it in case you are in Bangalore. Like Koshy's, this one is a big checklist item in the 'must-dos' while in Bangalore.

The humble entrance
With our 3-month old baby, we stepped foot into this legendary place known for its biryani. We waited a bit and strategically placed ourselves in such a way that we got to sit as soon as a table was emptied.
Amidst the huge crowds there is not much of the ambiance that could be seen. Maintaining hygiene could be a constant challenge here but it did not bother us much.
While there was a menu, at peak hour, you have to go with what is available. So Chicken Biryani and Mutton Dry was the only thing available and we went with that. The food is served on Eco-friendly leaf plates and the service is fast. While the place can seat about 150 people, the same number were standing around waiting for their 'parcels'.

Chicken Biryani

Mutton Dry
The biryani is great, unique in taste and perfectly spiced. The green masala was evident in this one. I personally like biryanis where the rice and meat is cooked together as compared to the 'assembled' ones. With tender pieces of chicken thrown in, this biryani scored high with raitha and a spicy gravy to go with it.
The mutton was a pepper fry. The right amount of pepper and well cooked meat qualifies itself to a  second helping. The quantity was a little below average but the taste of the biryani left no space for complains.
Vinod particularly mentioned that he liked the food. A big win in itself. We'd love to go back there again on a day when its less crowded.
The pricing is average. However please note that the place is open only from 8 AM to 3 PM and closed on Mondays. Parking could be an issue.
Address: 780, 1st C Main, 45th Cross, 8th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore
Ph no : +91 9845149217
Rating : 4 out of 5
Pay : By cash. Could not check for credit card
Meal for 2 : Rs 450                        

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Fort Cochin

If Kerala is God’s own country, then their cuisine should definitely be heavenly. I couldn’t agree more after I visited The Fort Kochi Connection (FKC) a great addition to restaurants in Koramangala. Situated on the Jyoti Nivas College Road, a basement provides ample parking for two and four wheelers.

I had heard great reviews of the food here especially the buffet. While we could not make it for the lunch buffet, we decided try the place for dinner. A group of friends meeting after long and FKC seemed like the perfect place.

With Mals and half-mals in the group….there was no reason to complain of the choice of cuisine. The ambience is mixed. One section had red lighting making it look like a lounge bar. We skipped that owing to a birthday party that was happening there. We chose the normal seating area. Bright yellow walls and photoframes of the typical Kerala landscape made a decent ambience.

The menu was vast with several cuisine options spanning across food from Kochi, Syrian Christian, Malabar, Chinese, British, Portuguese and Dutch. I am yet to decide if that was a good idea but yes, if you had an idea of the history or Kerala and the influence of various cultures, this would probably make sense. I was there for the food so totally counted on the waiter to recommend the different courses of our meal. 

We had a vegetarian among us who chose the must-try kappa (steamed tapioca) with kadala curry (a traditional favourite made of black chickpeas and served with a red chutney. All three were very good. I made sure I had a bite of each before I lost myself to the meat.
Kadala Curry
This place serves great seafood, chicken and beef. I will be telling you what we ordered through the evening. Get ready for a crash course in Malayalam. Our first choice for starter was Achayan Pothularth which were beef cubes sautéed in spices. Reminds one of the typical Kerala beef fry and make sure you don’t miss this if beef is your thing.
Achayan Pothularth
On the recommendation of the waiter, next on our plates was the Chemmeen Ularthu – a delectable dish of fresh prawn in a semi-spicy mix. The non-Keralites and non-beef eaters seemed to like this one. For me it didn’t score that well, as it was close to what we made at home. To keep the egg lovers happy, we picked the Mutta Chikkiyathu – a variation of egg burji with coconut and mild spices. What I likes about this one was that there were onions or tomatoes to adulterate the taste of eggs and the coconut added a special flavoring.
Chemmeen Ularthu
Mutta Chikkiyathu
So many starters and no chicken. That’s not possible. Again on the waiter’s recommendation, we went for the Dak Bungalow Chicken Fry. The name had a history to it. The taste was good with boneless chicken cooked to perfection in homemade spices. This one was a good choice again though the beef still is my favourite.
Dak Bungalow Chicken Fry
When you have many girls at the table, you end up being full mid-way through the starters. Well, counting on the two boys who were with us, I went ahead and ordered an elaborate main course. We ordered many gravies and to go with it the Kerala staples of appam and iddiyappam (string hoppers). 


The Pachakkari Istew (veg stew) for the vegetarian was a good one with rich coconut milk added to it. To ensure we tried more seafood, we opted for the Neimeen Moilee, seer fish cooked in a coconut based gravy. I liked this one. A little extra tanginess and this would have scored a 10 on 10. The gravy was little on the salty side as well but that could be ignored.

Pachakkari Istew

Neimeen Moilee
We even tried the Syrian Christian Prawn Curry. This was a good choice as well. All the gravies went very well with the appam and idiyappams and a safe bet considering the spice levels are suitable for all palettes.
Syrian Christian Prawn Curry

One of the other must-try items here is the Kappa Biryani which was a great mix of mashed tapioca and spiced beef. This was a first time for me and I loved every bit of it. I wonder why I hadn’t tried this earlier.
Kappa Biryani

The place offers some mocktails as well, but I really missed out on taking down names. So here is one of the pictures. 

Overall, I think the Fort Kochi Connection has done a fabulous job with their food. All that we had had authentic flavours and a home made comforting taste. We decided to give one dessert a try at the end of a sumptuous meal and picked the Vattelappam. This pudding of coconut and jagggery was so good, that I will start my course with it the next time around. A dessert to die for.

Pay by : Cash and cards

Average meal for two : Rs 1000 (including mocktails). For 5 of us, it worked up to close to Rs 3000

Mel’s overall rating : 4 out of 5

Location: Ground Floor, 77/A, Cygnus Chambers, Jyothi Nivas College Road, Koramangala, Bangalore

Ph:  080 67947389 ext:253

Friday, May 30, 2014

Halli Mane

I am not usually a fan of South Indian fare and breakfast is a meal I rarely venture out to try. But a visit to Halli Mane definitely changed that for me. We ended up at Halli Mane as we were on that side of town and needed to finish our breakfast quota for the day.
The name is derived from Kannada where ‘Halli’ means village and ‘Mane’ means house. The ambience is therefore is very much like a village house (a little fancy of course!). The Warli paintings on the walls, some cut tiles turned into splendid art definitely impress a first-timer. The cleanliness and hygiene surely meets the eye. The menu is straight and simple – Karnataka ‘tiffin’ varieties. We definitely feasted on a lot that day leaving no space for lunch.
The humble entrance
Sunlight making its way through the roof
On our plates that day:
Idli Vada

 The nothing-can-go-wrong idli vada. This is a dish that is not just filling but is a must have in any Karnataka breakfast.
Rave idli
Rave idli – Soft, mildly spiced yet really high on taste.
Poori Saagu
Poori Saagu - Soft, non-oily pooris complimented with a mixed vegetable curry. The pooris can tell you if the oil the restaurant uses is clean. This place definitely was!
Masala Dosa
Masala Dosa – another staple among South Indians. The dosa here was impressive – crispy, generous on ghee, ‘bhaji’ tasted great. So that’s a ten on ten right away.
If that was the spicy side of breakfast, there the sweet side.
First up – Chiroti. This is a fluffy  and flaky ghee baked pastry that is eaten with milk. The milk here had a badam flavor and took the chiroti several notches higher in taste.

Coconut Holige

Coconut Holige. We usually buy holige (a sweet roti) from the bakery. But its completely different to taste something that’s so fresh and just out of the pan.

Kesari Bhath

Kesari bhath or Ksheera. Not one of my favourites on a regular day. This one was irresistible though with loads of ghee and dry fruits. Literally a moment on the lips, forever on the hips.

Mangalore Buns

Mangalore Buns – Vinod would have died if we hadn’t ordered this. This sweet bun was better that the ones I tasted in Mangalore as well.
With a fresh lime soda and some teas and coffees, it was tata time for the Halli Mane. Cant wait to go back again.
While at the Halli Mane, expect crowds and a little waiting. Explore the area for safe and hassle free parking. The food is simply superb and the prices are very affordable. We recommend a fast the previous night.
Pay by : Cash
Restroom : Decent
Average meal for two : Rs 250 (for a lot of food)
Mel’s overall rating : 4.5 out of 5
Location: 3rd Cross, Sampige Road, Malleshwaram, Bangalore. Ph: 080 65611222