Saturday, May 31, 2008

An Honour! A Snack, A Friend's 'Easy' Recipe & A Break.......

I'm THRILLED!!! Happiness and Sunshine Everywhere!!! So MANY Good ... nay... GREAT things have happened!!
First... Delhibelle has very generously passed on an award to me (making me DROOOOOOL over her dessert recipe.. how I wish I could have a portion of that....) !! Thank U so much Dear!

Secondly... my Ma-in-law sent me some stuff I (badly) wanted and shamelessly asked for!!! Why shamelessly? M was TOTALLY against 'expanding the kitchen to the size of a 5 star hotel kitchen' and it was an additional load for my parents to cart all the way from India from January to mid May... SO!
My first act,within 30 mins of my Parents arrival was to make them snap open their bags and show me 'my loot' which my in-laws sent me and the other stuff Mom- Dad got for me! I had asked for a Medu Wada Maker ( Anjali brand). I had seen this waaaay back in Apna Bazar Co-operative stores in Bombay. I wanted this, only because I am an occasional victim to deep fried wadas and have tried in vain to make round-wadas-with-a-hole-in-them (otherwise they are not medu wadas) and convinced myself that 'this' was the only way I would be successful. So a couple of evenings ago, I finally got around to making medu wadas!
I basically used my wada recipe with the addition of 1/2 cup Yellow Moong Daal soaked with the urid daal to make the batter. And yes, I added the Soy chunks as well! To the batter I also added 1/2 inch grated ginger, 2 finely minced green chilies, 2 crushed peppercorns and 2 finely chopped curry leaves.
Heat oil, not upto the smoking point, in a wok / kadhai. To test how hot the oil is, drop a very small amount of batter in the oil and if the batter rises to the top, you are set. Add the batter to the medu wada maker and press the knob on the top, directly into the kadhai. Deep fry the wadas to a nice golden brown. The first 4 wadas... not so round.. but DEFINITELY Medu wadas!! and VERY crisp!!!
Aaahhhh!! MUCH better!!! The trick was to make the batter thickish (but with a blender that one gets here, that is not possible)
Dunk the wadas in sambar and serve hot with chutney!!
Some Chutneys that go very well with medu wada smabar :
Coconut chutney- Sailu's blog
Nandita's - Coconut Chutney
And my all time fav!!
We now come to making a hearty dinner! Last night , I wanted to make something 'nice' for my parents.. and something not from my blog, I have been re-trying many dishes once again , now that I have more than 1 to cook for! and a while ago my friend Ashwini, who likes to cook, has 2 adorable boys (the younger is a few months old), but is a bit hard pressed for time had e-mailed me her super easy recipe for Daal Makhani. But I got round to trying that just about now! Thank You, Ashwini! this is an easy recipe and yummy too!
For the Daal Makhani:
1 cup Whole Black Urid daal
2-3 tbsp Rajma / Kidney beans
1 small Onion chopped
1 Tomato chopped
1 tsp each Ginger and Garlic paste
1/2 tsp Red Chili powder
1 Green Chili
Salt to Taste
1/2 tsp Garam masala
Butter for tempering
Cream / Butter

Soak the Urid daal and Rajma in water for a minimum of 4 hrs. ( overnight is also fine). Pressure cook these with salt and red chilli powder (depends on your pressure cooker, in my new Pressure cooker it took only 3 whistles and on sim for 4 mins.)
Heat oil / butter in a wok / kadhai. Add onions and saute till brown and tender. Add the ginger-garlic paste. Saute till it does not smell raw. Add the tomatoes and cook until mushy and oil starts leaving the sides.
At this point add the daal and mix well. Add Garam Masala ( I dislike the 'too strong' smell of garam masala so I use it a bit sparingly)stir and give it one good boil. Check for salt, add if required.
Add fresh cream and serve hot with rice or roti. I substituted butter for cream.

I served the Daal Makhani with this absolutely marvellous and fragrant Ghee Rice !!And FINALLY... announcing a small break! I will take a small hiatus from blogging... to WELCOME a new member into my family!


I am due in a week now and so it's time to take a break, enjoy these last few days with M ( who is biting his nails to bits) and my parents and though at a great distance, my in-laws who are very anxious for me! I've had a grand time these 9 months and once I got over my 'cry-baby' days I loved every minute! Thank God I had no nausea or any aversion to any type of smell or food! Sadly, what did affect me was high sugar levels in my last trimester ( and hence the protein diet posts!) and I was on a severe diet and could only fantasize about food, not eat anything I wanted (fret...fret...fume..)! But all is well and it has helped me and the baby is safe (touchwood) !

Before I go however, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Nupur who when I disclosed to about my pregnancy, sent me a parcel of chikki and this awesome candy! I felt pampered when I ate these.. trust me, those first trimester days when hormones play havoc with the system, and no Mommy and Daddy to hold your hand and say 'there, there' and a confused, bewildered and 'lost' husband looking at you with sad eyes , just because the volcano of emotions erupted (yet again)... something like this is a life line and even if it is splashed with a few salty tears, it tastes like heaven!!
And Cynthia .. do I even need to say anything about this warm hearted person? She immediately sent me her recipe for cook up rice (with vegetarian options) which would help me in my protein intake, sadly, I could not try it out.. my Doctor banned rice TOTALLY! But, it is bookmarked and I will try it out the first opportunity I get!!

So see you all soon.... I will not be able to post for a while and may not be able to peep into your blogs.. but I will catch up as and when I can. Have a lovely weekend!!

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Palak Methi Mudda Bhaji from Karnataka

My Parents are here!! Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!
Meeting them after 1 1/2 year was a treat!!! I spent the first week talking, non-stop, at all odd hours of the day/ night (like 4:00 am on the first day of their arrival) and on a volume that threatened to shatter the window panes !! Thankfully the battery ran low after the first week and now I am back to (as) normal as I can get! Their ear drums are safe and my Father sighs with relief! He confesses himself astounded at my capacity and energy to talk SO much (this is after regularly talking to them on the phone for at least 30-45 mins everyday 'to plan' their trip here).
This was also an excellent opportunity for me to pamper them a little with all the food I want to cook for them. And they in turn also wanted to do the same for me!! All in all we are having a wonderful time together!!!
My Mother had this opportunity to make one of my favorites last night, thanks to the fresh bunch of Methi/ Fenugreek I found in the Indian stores! The very sight of that fresh bunch sitting on the shelf was enough to make me pounce on it and grab it, sadly just one was available... well, something is better than ajibaat (ajibaat is a Marathi word for absolutely) nothing...
My Mother learnt this version from her Mother-in-law, who was a fantastic cook and Ma is tickled pink at the thought of having this humble recipe on the blog and wondering why I did not think of it myself.. I have made this before but it is something so routine for me... shrug... but now that I think about it, this combination is wonderful, healthy and deserves its place on the blog.

The root of this recipe is in Karnataka ( Bijapur), the simplicity and the lack of overwhelming 'masalas' is the magic of this recipe.

It goes well with chapati, bhakri and rice (heck I even eat it with whole wheat bread!)

So without further ado, here's my Ma's first presentation on my blog:

2 Bunches Palak / Spinach
1 Bunch Fresh Methi/ Fenugreek leaves
1/2 cup Cooked Moong/ Toovar (arhar) Daal
2 Heaped tbsp. Besan
Marble sized ball of Tamarind (soaked and pulp removed)
Jaggery (twice the quantity of the Tamarind)
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Oil
2 cups water

For the Tadka (tempering)
2-3 tbsp. oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
4 cloves of Garlic, sliced
4 dry Red Chilies
1 -2 Green Chilies ( sliced lengthwise)(+ / - to taste or how hot the chili is)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
a few curry leaves (if you can get them)

Do the prep.Wash thoroughly and chop the spinach and fenugreek leaves (use only leaves if you wish to avoid the slightly bitter taste fenugreek tends to impart, otherwise a small stalk is OK. Cook the daal and mash it slightly. soak the tamarind in warm water, squeeze out the pulp and discard the solids ( you can also use ready made tamarind pulp)
Heat 1 tbs. oil in a wok / kadhai, add the chopped spinach and fenugreek, cover and let it cook.Once the greens are thoroughly cooked, mash them slightly and add the Besan, mix well to avoid lumps. Add in the cooked daal, Tamarind pulp, Jaggery and salt. Add about 2 cups of water and let the mixture cook well.
Tadka: Heat Oil, add the mustard seeds, after they pop add the sliced garlic and cook till they turn golden . Add the green and red chilli pieces. Lastly add the turmeric. Pour this over the vegetable mixture. Mix thoroughly and cook for 2 mins. to incorporate the flavor of the tempering.
Serve hot with chapati, bhakri, rice.


*Points to note:

  • Usually Toovar (arhar) Daal is used, but since it is acidic in nature, Yellow Moong Daal makes an excellent substitute without compromising on the taste.
  • This vegetable is semi solid in consistency. After cooling down it becomes slightly solid so you might want to add extra water if re-heating.
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Monday, May 12, 2008

Dahi Wadas with a small twist!

I continue my quest of finding recipes or making up some with protein as the main focus or even means of making BLAH! tasting stuff YUMMY!
I prowl around blogs (and end up drooling at all the super recipes completely forgetting the quest!) pick up bits and pieces of recipes, sigh when I find a particular recipe SO tempting yet FAR from my 'must -try' list as of now.. remind myself... just a bit more.... a bit more time, then you go right back to the sinful and satisfying carbs ( in moderation whispers the Husband in my ear) POP goes my delectable dream of biting into these and digging my fork into a slice of heaven or even making a hearty meal of Good Ol' Rice!

M sniggers behind me as I type this and says.. "interesting ... how you go from desserts to main course on your wish list and not a mention of protein in there!"

I arch an eyebrow and coolly say.." as it happens, I have a recipe in mind...loaded with protein... and I was just going to make and blog about it.. and when u eat it, I'd like to serve it to you with a generous helping of your words.. compliments of the chef"...Now having said that, I HAD to work on a recipe! This recipe ( which Nupur of One Hot Stove has also tried and liked!) has been on my list for a very long time and the more I thought of it, the craving just kept growing!

I also had a packet of Ruchi Soy Chunks lying (unopened) in the pantry.. now these, I find particularly boring ( not as nauseating as Tofu though) and plain ugly and so the unopened box lay there awaiting nirvana. Well, today's your lucky day I mumbled.
So I carefully measured out:
1 Cup Urid Daal
1/2 tsp methi / Fenugreek seeds
Soak these in Water for at least 4 hrs.

Prepare the yougurt (dahi) sauce. To a bowl of plain yogurt (use any yogurt you have, regular, no fat) add water to thin it out a bit, salt to taste, crushed ginger and green chili paste and sugar (depends on how sweet you like it) and finely chop cilantro for garnishing. Keep this refrigerated. Shook out approximately 20-25 Soy chunks and cooked them as per directions on the box ( with a pinch of salt) drained and squeezed out excess water and let them sit.

Grind Together the soaked Urid Daal + Fenugreek seeds along with the moist Soy chunks to a smooth batter and adding salt. Heat the appey pan and add a few drops of oil. Gently spoon the batter and let it cook to a golden brown , flip and cook thoroughly on the other side. Once done, remove on to a tissue ( not that there is any extra oil on it, but it's a habit with me now)

Soak these wada in the yougurt sauce. It is entirely optional if you want to dunk the wada in water to soften them and then (after squeezing out the water) adding them to the yougurt. I did not go thru all that. Soaking them in the yogurt sauce was, in my humble opinion, enough. Given a bit more time, the wadas soaked up the flavor from the yogurt and became very soft. garnish with a dash of black pepper powder, a sprinkling of red chilli powder (optional) and the chopped cilantro. Enjoy! * Notes:
  • The yogurt sauce was not very thick keeping in mind that the wadas were not pre-soaked, I kept it on a 'flowing but thick' side
  • To one batch of the wadas I also added a pinch of baking soda, to make them crisp. In the end (after adding them to the yogurt) there was no noticeable difference. but if you just want to eat a couple wadas as they are, tastes better.
  • This is just one of my whims, but I stir the batter in one direction only and gently.

Verdict: Not the perfect dahi wada, but overall VERY satisfying and so much healthier ! I am sure I cannot get over my dislike for Soy chunks, but this is a great way to disguise them and enjoy them too! Specially since I am rather partial to dahi wadas and also given to snacking, a habit, I'm afraid I will never get over.

I also realise, no matter what, I must be careful of what I eat, M is right (sigh, he almost always is, where my eating habits are concerned) I am a slave to carbs and shy away from protein. And though I cook good food, I MUST consciously consume more protein and go slow on carbs. And so my quest will continue!

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Stuffing away old phobias!! A bitter awakening! and a MeMe!!

For as long as I have known, I have kept a *safe* distance from THE Bitter Gourd! I always wondered HOW people ever liked and ate it! My eyes would bugger out if they said they *loved* it and it was their favorite!
And I would think... " It does not even look appealing! All spiky!" And who wants to eat bitter stuff? What's the point? It also was not a part of my Mother's cooking, no one would touch it, so she did not force it upon us ( oh she made the usual remarks about us being fuss pots and how one must experience all 'rasas' usually ending with ice cream and bhelpuri being the only food we considered worthy of our notice...)
My first experience of tasting karela was actually at a 'varsha-shraddh' and I couldn't really discard it, but the horrid bitterness travelled down my throat and gagged me and I never forgot the ordeal and swore NEVER to go within miles of 'that' thing again.
I had heard of its benefits but stubbornly refused to apply them in any way to my life. In case any of you want a hasty re cap of how 'good' it is ...read on (source : http://www.herbalcureindia.com/)

Karela fruits have long been used in India as a popular home remedy for
diabetes mellitus.
Latin Name:Momordica charantia Linn.
English Name / Common Name:Bitter Gourd / Bitter melon
Sanskrit / Indian Names: Karavella, Karela
Karela contains Gurmarin, a polypeptide considered to be similar to bovine insulin, which has been shown in experimental studies to achieve a positive sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural response to sweet taste stimuli. Karela fruit is regularly used in the Indian diet and is known as a folk remedy for diabetes mellitus. Bitter melon is rich in iron and has twice the beta carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, twice the potassium of bananas, and contains vitamins C and B 1 to 3, phosphorus and good dietary fiber. It is believed to be good for the liver and has been proven by western scientists to contain insulin, act as an anti-tumor agent, and inhibit HIV-1 infection. At least 32 active constituents have been identified in bitter
melon so far, including beta-sitosterol-d-glucoside, citrulline, GABA, lutein,
lycopene and zeaxanthin. Nutritional analysis reveals that bitter melon is also
rich in potassium, calcium, iron, beta-carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C.
Benefits of Karela / Bitter Melon
Bitter Melon is useful in treating Diabetes.
Bitter Melon reduces sugar levels in blood and urine
Bitter Melon helps achieve positive sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural
response to sweet taste stimuli.
Bitter Melon has shown significant antilipolytic and lipogenic activity.
Bitter Melon is a good blood purifier
Bitter Melon treats worm infestations
Bitter Melon stimulates pancreas and liver and helps in good absorption of food
Bitter Melon is useful as an emetic, purgative, as an anthelmentic, in piles, and jaundice


End of gyan!! Back to getting over the old phobia .. my friends here did not seem averse to eating karela and smiled palyfully at my intense dislike and were amused no end when I shuddered at the thought of making and eating the bitter gourd! They stressed that their way of making it, I would not even realise I was eating karela! Thanks, but ummm.. I'll pass!
Slowly , even blogosphere was getting saturated with the dreaded melon! There was no running away from it! This was the first one that really appealed to me and I was determined to try it out, not for my sake, but for M. He likes it!
Then one day I was chatting with my friend S (my Heroine!) who said she was making stuffed karela for dinner... and for M's sake I asked her to mail me the recipe. She was surprised no doubt at my unusual request, but did not say anything at that point of time ( why discourage something like this?)
That evening I proudly told M that I was going to make karela chips and stuffed karela for him, he was delighted ( and under the obvious misconception that I was also going to eat it !). However at the Indian Store, the bitter melons did not really look that fresh and I ended up with just 2 from the lot that looked better than the rest. Though a bit disappointed M suggested I make the stuffed version first and so I dug up the recipe once again ( it was sent over 2 weeks or so ago and was in my mail box).


In Heroine's words:
3 or 4 small tender Bitter Gourds / karela
1 dry Red chilli (optional)
1 Bay leaf (optional)
1 Finely chopped Onion
1 chopped Green chilli or according to taste
1 small Tomato chopped
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp each coriander pwd and cumin pwd
1 tbsp Besan / Gram flour
1 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
1/2 tsp Garam masala pwd
1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Few sprigs Cilantro finely minced


First scrape the surface of the bitter gourds/karelas...make a slit length wise....don't cut it into half....remove the pulp and seeds from inside...keep aside. Then boil the karelas in water with 1 tsp salt...cook till it becomes tender.Keep aside. Heat oil in a kadhai....add cumin seeds....one dry red chilly whole...and one bay leaf....when the seeds crackle...add green chilli and chopped onion...when the onion becomes transparent...add ginger garlic paste and the masalas and besan and turmeric pwd...cook for a while then add the tomatoes....when they are cooked add the pulp and seeds of the karela...fry for sometime...add salt....then add 1/2 cup water...cover and cook for sometime on low flame. When the water is completely dried...add garam masala and coriander leaves....remove from heat...and let it cool! when the mixture is cool enough....fill into the split karelas....make a paste of 1 tbsp besan...a little salt and water....roll the karela in it and shallow fry them....when its crisp remove and serve hot with roti !

* changes I made: I did not add the pulp and seeds to the stuffing. The bitter gourds I got had real HARD seeds ( are they supposed to be that way?) and also the fact that I was rather nervous about the bitterness.. so all in all, I chucked them away. Also did not add water and cook the stuffing, eliminated that step as the tomato I used was very juicy and the whole stuffing looked good to me the way it was. Verdict: This recipe is THE one for me! And the 'me' is not a typo! As I was making the stuffing I was convinced that it is a HIT! I went ahead and spooned a bit onto a slice of bread and tasted it ( ahem...the stuffing had to cool down before I stuffed it.. ) ooooooooh!! Goooood!

Where I goofed: the part where one rolls the stuffed karela in a thin besan batter and shallow fry it, the batter I made was too thin and so did not 'stick' to the vegetable. But as confirmed from heroine, it was not a big deal and certainly not meant to be coated like a bhajiya! just to ensure that the filling did not spill out.. that I managed well!

M loved it! his obvious enjoyment at this unusual treat was heart warming! He really enjoyed it! his boyish delight and swaying his body with every bite and his compliments made my evening!! And what he said was true.. there was no trace of bitterness in the gourd! Encouraged by this I tasted it and liked it too! Yes, this was not 'that' taste! My dislike ( or dread) for karela dissolved with every bite and now I am convinced that IF I make it in this way, I am going to like it as much as M! Thank you S, for this wonderful recipe!!

And now for the MeMe!! Shubha Of Chutki bhar Pyar Tagged me .. It's been a while since I did a Meme and I'm glad I got this opportunity! Thanx Shubha!!



1) LAST MOVIE U SAW IN A THEATRE?

Charlie Wilson's War



2) WHAT BOOK ARE U READING??

The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle - Hugh Lofting

3) FAVOURITE BOARD GAME?

Snake In The Grass

Saanp Seedi!!!



4) FAVOURITE MAGAZINE? Aah! this varies!


Paris Jail Sentence

I used to read Femina and all that in inda ( never subscribed, just from the library) and now I just leaf thru the colorful magazines when waiting to check out at the stores (all those gossipy mags with all the dumb celebrities hounded from their layers and their fab clothes and the even fab scandals!!)


5) FAVOURITE SMELLS?

Rain Cloud

The wet earth after rains! So soothing !

Perfume :Davidoff's 'Cool Water' !



Chef

Good Food!



6) FAVOURITE SOUNDS?

Belly Laugh

My Dad chuckling! Contagious!


My Husband tramping up the stairs, coming home from work.

Walking

7) WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD?


Kicking Dirt

Being underestimated


8) WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN U WAKE?


Alarm Clock


Huh? *blink, blink* Honey wake up, you are late Again!! Subha ho gayi Mamu!!


9) FAVOURITE FASTFOOD PLACE?



Eating Pizza


USA:

Hardly an option for a Vegetarian.. Pizza hut, Domino's, In n Out, Subway

India :NOW we're talking!


Pav Baji: Achija's (Ghatkopar-Mumbai) Number one !

Manis' ( Ruia College) for The yummiest south Indian snacks EVER!

DP's (Ruia College again) for Masala Pav

Kailash Parbat ( Churchgate) for AWESOME chaat!

The corner Vada Pav wala in Tilak Nagar-Chembur, also in the Kirti College area, Jubo vada pav in Thane (near rthe station) Tip - top for chaats

And a corner in Sindhi colony-Thane (E) where one gets LIP-SMACKING paani puri from the L.L.B Paani puri wala!

Frankie at Shivaji Park!

There is a Dosa Wala in Khar- Mumbai ( for those who know it, near film star Rakhee's bunglow) if he is still there, for the sheer variety of tasty Dosas he made (like a dosa mela there!)

10) FUTURE CHILDS NAME?



Mommy & Baby

Something uncomplicated and short! To be announced!



11) FINISH THIS STATEMENT—'IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY '..


Shy Whistler


I would be just the way I am now, careless with it!

12) DO U DRIVE FAST?



Convertible Female

I used to! Young blood and all that!

13) DO U SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL?

Panda

I used to... when I was little.



14) STORMS–COOL OR SCARY?

Thunder

Absolutely Cool! Majestic!


Hurricane



15) WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR?



Low Rider (pardon the pink!)



A cream colored Fiat ( Premier Padmini), My Basanti!!

16) FAVOURITE DRINK?

Cheers 2

Water!



17) FINISH THIS STATEMENT-IF I HAD THE TIME I WOULD :



Reading


Read to my heart's content ( not that I do not now, but there are chores...)



18) DO YOU EAT THE STEMS ON BROCCOLI? :

Feed Me

Yes, Kinda..... short stems ..



19) IF YOU COULD DYE YOUR HAIR ANY OTHER COLOUR, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR CHOICE?

Red Hat

Black-Brown with burgundy highlights!



20) NAME ALL THE DIFFERENT CITIES/TOWNS U HAVE LIVED IN?



India : India Good Ol' Bombay & New Bombay

Banglore : short stay (3 months)

Kolkatta ( 3 weeks)

Currently in California Los Angeles county , CA



21) FAVOURITE SPORTS TO WATCH?

Tennis Volley

Tennis



22) ONE NICE THING ABOUT THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU?

Cooking Dinner

Apart from being an enthusiastic cook, have you guys seen the wonderful Henna/ Mehendi designs on her blog? Very intricate and beautiful!



23) WHATS UNDER YOUR BED?

Pillow

Nothing except the bosxspring, but back home I'd stuff loads undere the mattress, old pictures, letters , wrist watch (which I forgot for almost a year!), money, hair-bands and clips, an old sim card, pens, pencils and markers, hanky, paper clippings, keys.......


24) WOULD U LIKE TO BE BORN AS YOURSELF AGAIN??



Pregnant Smiley

Yes! If my parents have no objection!



25) MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL?

Falling Asleep

Both! have the capacity to sit up late and get up reasonably early!



26) OVER EASY OR SUNNY SIDE UP?


What Stinks


Eggs STINK!



27) FAVORITE PLACE TO RELAX?


Relaxing By The Fire

Anywhere with a book!


28) FAVORITE PIE?

Eating Pie

Haven't tasted many, but I liked Pumpkin when I had a small slice.


29) FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR?

Ice Cream

Butterscotch , Fresh Strawberry, Mango, Sitaphal, Roasted Almond

30) OF ALL THE PEOPLE U HAVE TAGGED, WHO IS THE MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND FIRST?

C'mon! let's see who is the fastest of 'em all!! If they would like to play along, I'd like to tag:

Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes
Nupur of One Hot Stove
Musical of Musical's Kitchen

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