Friday, October 16, 2009

Diwali Wishes and Sweets

Cashew Cookies with Filling

A very Happy Diwali to everyone!

Last night, on returning from office, I saw a mail from my Mom with a picture of all the sweets and savories she has prepared for the festive season. This is a yearly custom she follows, and the picture is mailed to relatives the world over to salivate and drool over that which they cannot have.

It was around 8:30pm and I felt it just wouldn't be Diwali if I didn't prepare something. So, I set out to prepare 3 dishes ( 2 sweet and 1 savoury ) in 3 hrs flat.

I started at 9 and I was done by 12:15am. Not too shabby, huh? Ofcourse, I chose easy to make things - Festivals are not a good enough reason to stop being lazy. I got all the recipes from some delightful food blogs that I follow.

Chilli Biscuits

1. Chilli Biscuits
Followed the recipe exactly from FingerLickingFood.
On hind sight, I would have added a teeny pinch of haldi, and some ajwain to the dough for added flovour.
The Mint leaves were easy to get since I grow them, Curry leaves presented a bit of a challenge since my Kadipatta Plant is still rather small - but it made the sacrifice of 1 twig of leaves.

2. Cashew Cookies
I followed this recipe from : foodiezone
I substituted almonds with cashews, this made the dough a little wetter so in went more flour ( about twice the recommended quantity ). On being taken out of the fridge, the dough was not as pliant as expected, so i rubbed some butter on my fingers and found it easier to shape. I also added a few drops of Vanilla essence. I filled half the cookies with Strawberry jam and the other half with some left over orange flavored chocolate.

Orange Flavored Chocolate with Nuts

3. Orange Flavored Chocolate with Nuts.
This was my own creation, inspired by this recipe: from fingerlickingfood
It was my first experience with melted chocolate ( I used 1 full bar of cooking chocolate - semi sweet ) For orange flavour, since I didnt have orange juice or zest, I added 1 cap full of Orange vodka. This caused the chocolate to seize and become very pliable and easy to handle.
I tossed in whole cashews and almonds and rolled them into little balls and left them to set over night.

All the photos are taken by Keshav with his camera ( my fingers were all buttery ). He was also the first taster - I can never take the first taste of anything I cook.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More Hibiscus

Fringed Hibiscus
Fringed Hibiscus

Just back last night from a short vacation in Wayanad, Kerala. Fresh from all the hibiscus research, it was the place to be. Wayanad, is hibiscus heaven.

Roads were lined with hibiscus bushes in full bloom, people's gardens had hibiscus fences, even our resort was home to several varieties. I must also mention the profusion of anthuriums, roses and dahlias to be found. But above all, the hibiscus was overwhelmingly present even used to mark borders of plantations. Some of the flowers were massive in size.

All of these pictures were taken in the garden of Wynberg Resorts ( where we stayed ) - Full Trip report with lot of pictures soon.

I have tried to identify some of these flowers with extensive googling. Corrections and additional info is most welcome.

Fringed Hibiscus (Hibiscus schizopetalus)

Also Called: Coral Hibiscus, Skeleton Hibiscus, Chinese Lantern, Japanese Lantern
Origin: Tropical East Africa
A weeping tree hibiscus. Grows rapidly and blooms freely. Flowers look like parachutes and can be recognized by the fringed and lacy petals which are bent backward. It has slender and gracefully curved stems. It will reach about 6 to 8 feet with a spread of 5 to 6 feet. It is a very fast grower. It gets very large in pots, so one needs to prune it often to keep a desired form. Pruning also helps to keep a abundance of flowers, since flower are formed on new wood. Blooms sporadically all year long.


Double Hibiscus
Red Double Hibiscus

Id : Celia, Double Red ( It looks a lot like this, so thats what Im assuming it is )
Source :

White and Pink Hibiscus
Pink and White Hibiscus

Rose of Sharon
Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon ( Hibiscus syriacus )
Rose of sharon bushes can get 8'-10' tall and have a spread of 4'-6'. However, some cultivars stay shorter (e.g., Hibiscus syriacus 'Minerva' reaches only 5'-8'). Blooms on rose of sharon can be white, red, lavender or light blue; some have double blooms. Most rose of sharon bushes bear small, deeply-lobed, light-green leaves (may vary according to cultivar).

White Hibiscus
White Hibiscus

For More Hibiscus Literature and historical data click here
A small hibiscus gallery
Hibiscus Catalog
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