As you probably know, I am enjoying some well-deserved R&R with my family and have organized a few guest posts for Manu’s Menu to leave you all in great company while I am gone. This is the last guest post for now as I will be back very soon, but I am already thinking of all the other friends I want to invite to teach us some of their great dishes, so fear not… there will be more guest posts coming in the future! Today’s guest is the beautiful and ever so talented Divya from Flavour Fiesta. She has one of the prettiest blogs around, I really love her style: very elegant, great pictures and fantastic recipes that reflect her multicultural background. Not only, she is also the author of a series of posts called Beauty Eats that “explore foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics that will leave you with a healthy radiance that is bound to get some attention!”. Now, how cool is that?? It is an absolute must read… and believe me, the food is delicious! I can’t wait to see what Divya has in made for us today!! But before we do that, aren’t you curious to read more about her and getting to know her a little better? Here goes the short interview!
1. How would you introduce yourself in a few words?
I’m a food enthusiast – I love everything about food and can talk/think/dream about it endlessly. I love food so much that I even have a degree in Food Engineering!
I’ve had the opportunity to live in a number of different countries, so when it comes to cooking, I have a penchant for putting a spin on familiar dishes with the global ingredients. It’s always a culinary adventure in my kitchen!
2. How long have you been blogging for and how/why have you started?
I’ve been blogging for just over six months now and it’s been a fantastic journey so far. I started the blog in March as a way to share my passion for food with other people. I tend to experiment a lot on the kitchen, but since I never write the recipes down, I can never recreate a dish! I can’t tell you how many times my husband has requested certain dishes again, but I just can’t remember how I made them! So for me, blogging was the perfect way to not only share my recipes, but build a collection of recipes for myself.
In addition, blogging has been a way to express my creativity. I really enjoy creating new recipes and learning more about food photography. It’s been quite a learning experience!
3. What is a kitchen gadget or appliance you cannot live without?
I cannot live without my immersion blender. If you asked me what an immersion blender was two years ago, I would have given you a blank stare! But, as I’m learning more about cooking, I’m realizing that there are so many great appliances that can make your life easier.
I used to have a traditional blender, but it would take up so much counter space and not to mention, I had a few occasional messy mishaps. With the immersion blender, it’s so easy to puree soups, beat eggs and even make smoothies! Convenient and easy to use – that’s my type of gadget.
4. What is your ultimate comfort food?
It has to be a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. But not any grilled cheese sandwich. I like it with spicy Havarti cheese, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes and a hint of whole-grain mustard for a little zing. Crispy, crunchy, juicy and spicy – so many textures in one sandwich – it’s the perfect comfort food!
5. Which, among the posts you have written, is your favourite one? Why?
I have a number of favourites, but since I have a major sweet tooth, it has to be my post on decadent nutella truffles. Chocolate, nutella and cream – what’s not to love?
I made the truffles three different ways to showcase how you can take one recipe and make it into three unique truffles. There’s a recipe for a fruit and nut truffle, gingerbread truffle and coconut truffle – all of my favourite flavour combinations. Simply divine!
6. And lastly, what is your favourite dish?
I’m a huge fan of paneer (Indian cheese) and I love anything that has even the slightest bit of paneer in it. My favourite dish is palak paneer (spinach and cheese). Typically, I don’t like cooked spinach, but there’s something about chopped spinach cooked with earthy spices and soft cheese. It’s a dish that will always put a smile on my face.
AND NOW… I’LL LEAVE YOU WITH DIVYA! ENJOY!
I was so excited when Manu approached me to write a guest post for her blog! I came across Manu’s blog a few months ago after she left a comment on my site and I’ve been hooked since then. I enjoy eating Italian food, but didn’t have the opportunity to learn how to make traditional dishes until I came across Manu’s site. She is my go-to resource for authentic Italian cooking – she makes everything look so much easier with her step-by-step pictures. Please check out her lovely site – it’s definitely one of the best for Italian food!
When Manu asked me to write a guest post, I immediately started thinking about what I was going to make. I wanted to make something extra special for my dear friend, so after some brainstorming I came up with a recipe for rosewater, cardamom and pistachio cake. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, so a pink cake is perfect for the cause!
Having lived in the Middle East for quite a few years when I was growing up, I have had the opportunity to sample a number of mouth-watering desserts made with rosewater. It’s somewhat of an unusual ingredient in the West, but in the Middle East and India, it’s commonly used to elevate the flavours of even the simplest desserts. And, it pairs perfectly with cardamom and pistachio in this cake. Hope you enjoy it!
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp cardamom powder
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp rosewater
1 cup milk
½ cup chopped pistachios
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cup icing sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3-4 tsp beet juice for colour
3 tsp rose water
1. Prepare the icing by mixing the softened butter with the icing sugar until well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract, rose water and beet juice and mix well. Add 1 tbsp of milk if the frosting is too thick. Set aside and cool in the fridge.
Note: I used beet juice instead of artificial red dye to give a light pink colour to the frosting. To prepare the beet juice, grate a beet and press the solids through a tea sieve. Collect the juice in a small bowl.
2. Sift the all-purpose flour, cardamom powder and baking powder in a medium bowl.
3. In a separate large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for the cake batter for 2-3 minutes until soft and well distributed.
4. Add the vanilla extract, rose water and the eggs to the sugar-butter mixture and beat well.
5. Add half of the flour mixture to the large bowl and then add half of the milk. Combine lightly. Add the remaining flour and milk and mix until smooth. Fold in the chopped pistachios. Transfer the batter to a greased 9-inch round spring form pan.
Note: Try not to overmix the batter as this develops the gluten in mixture and leads to a dense cake.
6. Bake for 45-50 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. The cake is done when a toothpick comes out clean.
7. Allow the cake cool for 10 minutes and remove from the spring form pan. Cool completely on a cooling rack.
8. Once the cake has completely cooled, spread the frosting on the cake and finish with a light dusting of powdered sugar. Garnish with chopped pistachios. Enjoy!
Thanks so much Manu for giving me the honour to create something special for your site! I really enjoyed creating this recipe for you. 🙂
What an AMAZING cake that is! I loved the tip about using beet juice instead of artificial colours to make the pink icing! I will keep that in mind for sure! Make sure to visit Flavour Fiesta to read this and many more fantastic recipes and tips!
Divya, THANK YOU so much for writing such a gorgeous guest post. I appreciate it a lot! 🙂 And thank you also for reminding us all that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month! Such an important cause! I am double honoured to host this beautiful recipe on Manu’s Menu and I will definitely be making this cake soon… my girls adore pink! 🙂