Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Love between the Lasagne Sheets…

Lasagne with Tomato n White Sauce with Soft Chena N Parmigiano-Reggiano

There is always a first time for something and then there are moments when you do a particular thing and you wonder why I didn’t do this before! For me cooking the lasagne turned out to be both the cases. Not just it is delicious, it is easy too, well almost. The recipe does need your love as much as your patience to make both the sauces. So hoping that we all have that, let’s start the fire in our kitchens! What say?

                           So I had this packet of lasagne lurking around in the table for a couple of months, somehow I always delayed cooking it simply because I haven’t cooked it before. The packet did change places in the meantime, it went missing in between! When it came back finally I thought lets cook it before it vanishes again…

                                        Lasagne is perhaps the oldest types of pasta in the world, knowing this makes me look at it in a different way. People have been eating this through hundreds of years, may be thousands of years in ancient Rome, Greece, England. So next time you are cooking this up, stop for a moment n realize you are cooking a part of history, now that makes it interesting. In fact when I think about it becomes obvious, the success of this dish, the structure of it, the flavors , it won the hearts of people throughout all these time, no wonder it is only a classic!

                                                                     Now we all do cook it differently, we add on things we like, modify. In the ancient times in Europe perhaps it was being cooked without the tomato sauce up until 1492, or at least in parts of Europe since the tomatoes didn’t arrive in many parts of Europe until 1492. So perhaps that time they were cooking lasagne with cheese n other vegetables n meat n fruits.

In my recipe I have made a quick tomato sauce by warming up the chunks of tomatoes before turning them into a puree, then further reducing it, I have added fresh coriander leaves, black pepper, cumin powder, chili powder in it. The second sauce is based on vegetable stock, so if you have vegetable stock in your fridge use that, or make your own or may be stock cubes, whatever you decide.  First I made the vegetable stock in pressure cooker because I was literally running out of time, and then I made the sauce with that stock, simple.

So now it is time to dive into the recipe for you.

For The Recipe:  You will need

For The Tomato sauce:
Tomatoes- 3 Medium
Garlic clove- 2 medium, chopped
Coriander leaves fresh- 3 tbsp, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper- ½ tsp
Cumin Powder-1/2 tsp
Pink rock salt- a pinch
Sugar- 2 pinches
Salt to taste
Butter- 1 tbsp

For the Vegetable stock:
Carrot- 1 medium, chopped into 1inch quarters
Onion- 1 medium, chopped
Green Capsicum/bell pepper- ½ of 1 medium
Garlic- 1 clove, minced
Ginger-1/2 inch, minced
Green Chili- 1, slit slightly
Potato- 2 medium, peeled n quartered
Shahi Jeera -1/2 tsp
Dry Thyme- ½ tsp
Fresh Coriander stalks- finely sliced, 1 tbsp
Dry mixed Herbs- ½ tsp
Vegetable oil- 1 tbsp
Water- 3 cups

For the White Sauce:
Butter- 2 tbsp
Flour-2 tbsp
Vegetable stock- 450ml
Parmesan cheese- 2 tbsp, grated

Lasagne Sheets:12 sheets
Soft Chena- 200gm(soft chena is obtained from curdling cow’s milk by a light acid like yogurt water or the water preserved from previous chena making, if you don’t have these use lemon or lime, add bit by bit until the milk curdles completely , then hang that in muslin cloth and hang it for 30-60minutes)
Pre-heat your oven to 180 Celsius/350 Fahrenheit

1. For the tomato sauce, cut the tomatoes in quarters, put them in a pan, put the pan on low heat to warm them, give them 4 minutes on the pan, sprinkle some fresh coriander leaves, freshly ground black pepper, then take the pan off the heat, transfer the tomatoes in a blender, add some water and puree them. When the puree is done heat the same pan on medium flame, add butter, then add the chopped garlic, give it a minute until it starts to get color, then add the tomato puree, add a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes, add salt to taste, then add the cumin powder, pink rock salt, red chili powder, give it 5-8 minutes in slow flame and its color will deepen. After that take the pan off the heat.

2. For the quick vegetable stock in a pressure cooker take 1 tbsp of vegetable oil, when the oil is moderately hot add Shahi Jeera, minced garlic, ginger n give them 30 seconds, then add all the veggies, green chili,  toss them, give them 2 minutes on low to medium flame, add the dry thyme, coriander stalks, give it 1minute, put the flame to high now n add the water, add a pinch of sugar and salt to taste, add the mixed herbs. Now close the pressure cooker and on a high flame give 2 whistles, then take it off the heat, when the pressure settles strain the liquid, this stock is now our base for the white sauce. Keep the vegetables; they will go in layers between the lasagne sheets.

3. For the white sauce in a pan melt the butter, then add the flour and keep stirring for 2 minutes on low flame, then add a little stock mix, well until there is no lump, then add some more, do the same, then some more. Keep stirring all the time when adding the stock, when the stock is all in the pan  put the heat to high n let it come to a simmer, when it is there reduce flame to medium and give it 5-7 minutes until it thickens, add salt, ground black pepper. When the sauce has thickened add the parmesan cheese and take it off the heat, mix n let it sit.

4. Now it is time to assemble the Lasagne. In a deep ovenproof dish of glass or metal, lay the first layer of the tomato sauce, scatter the vegetables over the sauce, then take 4 lasagna sheets and arrange them over the veggies until the dish is completely covered, then add a layer of white sauce over the sheets, then scatter the soft chena over the sheets here n there, grate some parmesan cheese over them around 1 tbsp. This is our 1st layer, now we will repeat this. So tomato sauce again over them, followed by veggies, lasagne sheets, white sauce, soft chena and Parmesan. 2nd layer done. Now do 1 more.

5. Put this into the middle shelf of the oven at 180 Celsius for about 35-45 minutes until the top is golden n bubbling. Then take it off the oven and give it 10 minutes to settle. Now you should be hungry with your knife to cut it into pieces and lift them up carefully on your plate.

So tell me doesn’t that taste so so nice? Now we understand why people have been eating this for centuries…..Bon Appetit.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Revolutionary Rajma Pancakes –The complete New Road to Rajma

Red Kidney beans/Rajma pancakes, crispy outside, hearty at its soul, served with Tzatziki n tomato, green chili n how it suddenly makes pancakes healthy!

A few days ago when I was picking up rajma/ red kidney beans from the store I was whispering to myself ‘ this time I will do something completely new n delicious with rajma or I will just cook a good  homely rajma curry if that doesn’t happen’ n I gladly announce I did the first one. My smile doesn’t fade writing this line  J . Those red kidney bean pancakes were just not healthy, they tasted scrumptious and they shattered the idea that with rajma only a curry can be done like we find in north India as ‘Rajma Chawal’ or a salad of rajma.  There is a now a new way and it leads to healthy pancakes full of protein. And the opportunities are only starting to open themselves, lots of new cooking is happening in my little kitchen.

                                   So dear readers, no matter wherever you are, we are connected by the love for food n life n I want you to try this recipe when your hands are full of the red kidney beans. Here in India they are known as ‘Rajma’ in the Hindi speaking region and there is a very famous dish called ‘Rajma Chawal’ as I aforementioned, chawal is rice n so rajma chawal becomes a combined dish where a delicious rajma curry is served with white rice. This dish is very popular in the northern part of India  where the rajma is cooked with tomatoes, ginger, garlic, onions, green chilies, basic spices like cinnamon, green cardamom, clove, bay leaf, coriander powder, cumin powder, the ingredients vary from place to place but in its basic structure it stays around what I mentioned.

                                                          Rajma found its way to the Indian subcontinent from Mexico, another great civilization, thorough the hands of the Portuguese. Today it is a staple food in Punjab where the combination of rajma and rice is just loved. It is said that some of the best rajmas are grown in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu, in fact the verities in Jammu are smaller in size than the ones grown in the plain and they a sweetish taste. In Jammu often rajma chawal is served with chutney of ‘Anardana’ which is dried pomegranate seeds.

                                                                              Interestingly a similar structure is served thousands of miles away in New Orleans n Louisiana in the United states, where there is a  classic Monday Creole dish of red beans n rice! The same combination of red beans n rice! In this case the red beans are cooked with vegetable like onion, bell pepper, celery, spices like thyme, cyanine pepper, bay leaf and pork bones and sometimes with ham n sausages. The red kidney beans are enjoyed very much over Latin America since this is the place where it comes from. Some of the much loved dishes here are ‘moros y cristianos’, ‘galo pinto’, ‘arroz con habichuelas’.

                                                                                                          Now when cooking rajma, it is important to pre-soak the beans overnight for about 6-8 hours. You can cook the beans without this step but the pre-soaking is important because of another reason. The red beans contain a toxic phytohemagglutinin, pre-soaking  n cooking the red beans at boiling point for at least 10 minutes is important to get rid of this toxic. Sometimes it is recommended to boil it for 30 minutes to completely destroy this toxic. So soak your rajmas, it is an easy step.

 The pancakes bowled me over when I bite into it, the crunch outside, the subtle hint of the spices, the combination of the green chili n tomato, the yogurt dip, it was a dear delight. And you know what! It tastes great when cold, I mean this is so good to carry when going out to travel or work and they will taste amazing at normal temperature, which makes them even special. 

                               While preparing the batter I used finely ground rice flour which gives it a beautiful flavor n crunch, rice flour doesn’t mute the flavor of other things like flour does. I added and egg which gives its flavor n its moisture. If you don’t have rice flour at all you can use flour or besan or corn flour. If you want you can skip the egg too and it will still be fine.

Okay so now let’s get to cooking n let me tell you the recipe. Here we go!

For The Recipe: you will need

For the Boiling part:
 Red Kidney beans- 125 gm (pre-soaked in water for 7-8 hours)
Red onion- 1 small
Potato- 1 medium or ½ big
Ginger- 1inch
Garlic - 2 cloves
Bay leaf – 1 small
Green chili- 1
Green cardamom – 1
Pink rock salt – 2 pinch
Baking soda- 2 pinches
Dalchini/cinnamon stick – ½ inch

For the Batter:
Smooth paste of the boiled rajma with everything in it
Rice flour-5/ 7 tbsp
Eggs- 2 medium
Salt to taste
Sugar-1 tbsp
Onion- 1medium, finely chopped
Coriander leaves – 2/ 3 tbsp, finely chopped
Green chili- 1 small, finely chopped (you can skip it)
Brown butter – 1 tbsp (butter browned in a pan over heat)
Water- around ½ cups until the consistency is reached, so it varies

For The Tzatziki:
Strained Yogurt- 5 tbsp
Minced garlic- 1 clove
Lime juice- 1 tsp
Coriander leaves- chopped 1 tsp
Sugar- a pinch
Vegetable oil- 2 tbsp
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Let’s begin by draining the water in which the rajmas were pre-soaked, and then put the rajmas in a pressure cooker with enough water to boil them. Add the onion quartered, the potato halved, one green chili, cardamom pod, cinnamon stick, a pinch of pink rock salt, a touch of sugar, 2/3 pinches of baking soda, salt to taste, one bay leaf,  the ginger , the garlic cloves and put in a high heat. Close the pressure cooker and on high heat let it come to one whistle, as one whistle comes, reduce the flame for 2 minutes, then put the heat back on until another whistle comes, then take it off the heat and let the pressure reduce.

2. As the pressure reduces, take the contains out of it, peel the potato, shell the cardamom pod and throw away the skin, then put everything in the food processor or mixer grinder n whizz it until it becomes very smooth in texture. Add some water, it will be eay to blend it.

3. To the smooth mixture add the eggs, the rice flour, salt, sugar and mix well until well combined. The sugar gives the batter a slight hint of sweetness which acts brilliantly when fried, so adjust it, don’t add too much sugar that it becomes really sweet, not too low also. Then add the finely chopped onion n coriander leaves, mix well.  Add water to this batter slowly and we want the batter to be very flowy like when doing a pancake with milk n eggs n flour, it should be like if you pour a ladleful of batter in the pan you can easily roll the batter in the pan to spread it evenly n quickly. Attaining this texture is important, keep the batter light n really flowing.

4. In the frying pan where the pancakes are to be fried melt 1 tbsp of butter over low heat and let the butter go brown and it will attain a hazelnut color, add this butter to the batter n mix well.

5. In the same pan heat it well, and then reduce the heat to low, spread 1 tsp of vegetable oil over the pan, then take 1 ladle of the batter which is about 3 tbsp, and pour it on the pan and roll the pan lightly so the batter spreads uniformly. Don’t try to spread the batter with the ladle, it doesn’t work, let the batter spread on its own and you tilt the pan around, this is why the batter has to be thin. Now increase the heat to medium high and give it about 4 minutes until the touching surface has gotten brown n crispy. In the meantime sprinkle some drops of oil over the surface of the pancake facing you. When the down surface has gotten crispy, lower the heat, carefully with a spatula lift it slowly around the border and you will be able to lift it up, flip it over gently and again sprinkle drops of oil around it, it will take 2 minutes in the low heat to cook.  After this surface just gets cooked carefully lift it out of the pan and on a plate. Here is our first pancake done.

6. Now it is time for the second pancake, keeps the heat to minimum when you are pouring the batter over the pan n rolling it, once it has spread increase the temperature to medium high and just go like before. Make all the pancakes like this.

7. It is time for the tzatziki, hang the yogurt for half an hour and some of the water will drop away. Then beat the yogurt until it is smooth, add the paste of a garlic clove n mix well, add freshly ground black pepper, 1 tbsp lime juice, chopped coriander leaves and the oil and mix very well. Add salt to taste and pinch of sugar, mix well. It is ready now, keep it in the refrigerator.

8. Cut the tomatoes in half, then slice those like the letter D. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper n pink rock salt over them. Take the green chili and cut the stem off, then roll the chili on the board pressing it lightly with your palm and soon the seeds will come out of the cut end, press as you roll and push the seeds out of the cut end. Then cut the chili into thin rings. Now the seeds are out it won’t be that hot at all.

9. Now it is time to serve. Take one pancake and spread some tzatziki inside it, place some of the tomato slices and fold it in half. Sprinkle the green chili rings over it and now you should have your bite!  Or just tear the pancake; dip it in the tzatziki n pick the tomato n green chili while on your way to bite! Yummmmm… Right! I told you…it is so good. 

Wait for it to get cold, try it after some hours and see how yummy it is. Bon appétit

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Why Warm Winter Spaghetti is all you need sometimes…

Winter Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Green Beans, Capsicum, Tomatoes n Parmesan

After a gap of the whole month of February and 20 days of March here I come back, in fact I never have been away,  I used to come n look around but I could never posted  somehow. To tell you I was away from my home in a different city for a new project which is not related to food, so there were long journeys across India  and some of it took as long as 32 hours! I missed all of you so much, even though we are not directly connected, somehow we are connected mentally for the love of food n life and I missed all of that of being with you while I was not here.

                        Spaghetti is close to my heart, not that it has always been. In fact when I first started eating it I quite disliked it, I found it hard n chewy, around that time I was a fan of noodles which are relatively softer , I loved stir-fried noodles that time, I still do. When I started cooking spaghetti initially my disappointment stayed for a couple of trials, the flavors I was putting into it were not attracting me but as I went on cooking it, I was slowly getting there. There is this time period when I realized I’m cooking it right and I began to like it, that was time when the love developed and the spaghetti opened itself to me. It is like the spiral of the spaghetti was a puzzle and when you finally solve it you get to the real flavors where you can only love it. So here is the truth be told: I Love Spaghetti.

                                                                  This recipe that I cooked  just before my journey begun is in fact a true winter recipe, because not just it was made in the winter, it was made with cauliflower, green beans, capsicum which comes in abundance in the winter in my place. When I finally bite into it, I said ‘Ah! Man’ my mind just sang a song, the flavors of the cauliflower, green beans, onions, Parmesan all coming together, the texture of the veggies, the depth of flavors, it was a little heaven for me. This is what good food does to you, it can make you happy n smiling at toughest times, it can make you friends with complete strangers, it can make you feel at home when you are thousands of miles away, in a long tiring tough journey it can make you feel everything is going to be all right.

So now I will present you the recipe straight away! Cook it and discover it!

For The Recipe:

Spaghetti – 150 gm
Cauliflower florets -2/3 medium florets, cut into 1 inch sized thin sizes
Green Beans – 50 gm, chopped diagonally into 2 inch sizes
Onion – Half a medium onion, sliced into half moons
Green Capsicum – Half a medium capsicum, cut into thin slices of 2 inch lengths
Tomato – 1 and half of a medium tomato, chopped
Coriander leaves – 2 tbsp chopped
Garlic – 1 clove, chopped + 1 small clove or ½ a small clove made into a paste
Parmesan cheese -2 tbsp grated
Freshly crushed black pepper-1/2 tsp
Red Chili Powder- a pinch or ¼ tsp
Vegetable oil/olive oil -2 tbsp
Butter – a small blob
Salt to taste
Pink rock salt/Kala Namak – a pinch
Sugar – a pinch

1.  Let’s begin by making the spaghetti, heat 5/6 cups of water in a large bowl, add good amount of salt in it until you can taste the water has got enough salty, when the water comes to a vigorous boil put the spaghetti in and cook it for the amount of time mentioned in the packet or the way you like. When the spaghetti is done, take the spaghetti out n keep some of the water of the spaghetti.

2. While the spaghetti is getting ready, let’s prepare the beans, take a pan and add a blob of butter and 3 tbsp of water in it and add the beans, put the pan on a low heat, cover it. Give it 7/10 minutes, check in between and toss the beans around; when the water dries up add some more water. Take the beans out with any remaining water into a bowl after 7/10 minutes.

3. In the same pan heat the olive oil/vegetable oil. Once the oil is moderately hot add the sliced cauliflower, they will begin to sizzle, keep the heat on medium flame, the cauliflower should start to get slight brown all over, stir them in between. Because we have cut the cauliflower quite thinly it won’t much time to get cooked, once they are slightly brown add the chopped garlic to the oil, give them 2 minutes, then add the onions n give them a mix. Give them 2 minutes, after that add the capsicum slices n give them 5-7 minutes, stir in between. As the cauliflower gets more brown and the onions softens, so will the capsicum it is time to add the chopped tomatoes. Add a tiny pinch of sugar n mix, put the flame to high now and add salt, add half of the fresh coriander leaves, a pinch of black pepper and give everything a good stir. Keep the flame high for 1 minute, then reduce it a low flame and give the whole thing about 7-9 minutes. Stir in between and soon the tomatoes will lose their form and become like a sauce, add the pinch of pink rock salt/kala namak, red chili powder n mix, taste n adjust the salt. At the end of 7/9 minutes when the tomatoes have softened add the prepared beans, then the spaghetti and the 1 tbsp or 2 of the spaghetti water, mix well, when the water dries up a little bit add the small amount of garlic paste that you prepared from a tiny garlic n mix well, add the Parmesan, the remaining black pepper n toss.  And hey! Our spaghetti is done! Sprinkle the remaining fresh coriander leaves.

4. Serve the spaghetti in plates; sprinkle some Parmesan over it if you like more n fresh coriander leaves. Now tell me it is looking amazing right? I know, I know. Now dig in

Bon Appétit.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Last Bite

A Black forest German Gateau Cake ‘Schwarzwälder Kirsch torte’with Cherries from Kashmir, Baked in Bengal

This was his last bite. My Father, he tasted the little portion of the black forest cake that I cut for him n served him on a tea saucer. Back at that moment I had no idea that this was going to be the last thing he will eat, made by me. So for me this is his last bite of any food cooked by me and it is special in that way but it will always have sadness n gloom attached with this memory. Now that my Father has left his body, I run the pictures in my mind of the moment when he looked at the piece of cake in the little saucer, cut into it n very carefully, with a little shaky hand he transferred into his mouth, so that it doesn't fall off the spoon. I was looking for any signs of expression on his face and I find a little sign of satisfaction as he went through the cake. I am just re-running that subtle expression of Dad in my mind.

                            I wanted to do this black forest gateau cake for a long time, sometimes the doubt of eating so much whipped cream halted me, sometimes the doubt of whipping up huge volume of cream by hand made me pause, and sometimes I didn't get the cherries. But then with love that stayed on n upon consistent demand from my cute nephew, I did whip up large volume of cream by hand, whip up eggs with sugar till I reached the ribbon stage, pitted the cherries all by hand n I bake the cake!

                                                     The black forest cake or gateau has its origin in Germany, though the name doesn't come from the Black Forest mountain range in south-western Germany, rather it comes from a special liquor of that region called ‘Schwarzwälder Kirsch(wasser)’ n it is distilled from tart cherries. The liquor has a distinctive cherry pit flavor and alcoholic in nature that gives the cake its distinctive smell n flavor. So ‘Kirsch’ is what makes it special although other liquors are also used such as rum, which is used in Austria and co-incidentally which I also used, red rum.

                                                                                             Making the chocolate sponge for this cake requires a bit of whipping, first eggs n sugar r heated in a water bath until warm while constantly whisking, when the temperature is achieved the mixture is removed from heat and then further whisked until the mixture fluffs up and becomes almost triple in volume. When the whisk is lifted we can see ribbons falling off from the whisk and a figure of 8 made the ribbon stays for a second to be visible. No baking powder is used for this cake and the light volume is achieved by incorporating air in the egg n sugar mixture.

                                                                                                                The touch of Kirsch or rum gives the cake it’s special touch, but then you can always skip it if you want to, in my case my nephew kept away all the cherries from his piece! He likes the black forest cake without the cherries!

I have to tell you this, if you want to eat this cake tomorrow you have to begin today, the cake needs rest for several hours after baking, preferably overnight, also the cherries in soup which is treated with cornflour, need overnight time in the freeze to set, so keep that in mind.

                     So I guess it is now time to tell you about the recipe, here we go to have a walk in the Black forest cake.

For The Recipe: You will need

For the Chocolate Sponge:
Powdered Sugar- 200gm (I used 180gm)
Coco powdered- 45gm
Plain Flour- 90gm
Butter, melted n kept warm-60gm
Salt-1/4 tsp, skip if butter is salted

For the Cherry layer:
Cherries-350gm, pitted and separated from the syrup
Syrup in which the cherries were preserved-1 cup
Lime Zest-1/2 tsp, roasted, dried out then whizzed with sugar
Cinnamon- ½-1/4 tsp, roasted slightly n powdered
Cornflour-1-1 ½ tbsp
Sugar-1 tbsp+1 tbsp (optional)

For the Whipping Cream:
Whipping cream/double cream-500ml
Fine powdered sugar-4 tbsp
Vanilla essence- 1 tbsp

For the Rum syrup:
Red rum- 3 tbsp
Suagr-2 tbsp
Syrup from the cherries-4 tbsp

For the Chocolate Layer n Chocolate shavings:
Dark chocolate-50-80 gm

Save a few whole cherries for decorating the cake.

1. We will begin by making the cake which will need to rest overnight. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius n butter one 8 inch cake tin. So begin by cracking the eggs in a big airy bowl n add the powdered sugar on them. Prepare a water bath or bain-marie, as the water comes to simmer, place the bowl with egg n sugar on top of it making sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Whisk continuously as the mixture warms up, test it by placing a little of the mixture with your finger on your inner wrist, it will take 3-5 minutes to get warm, on your wrist it should feel comfortably warm, not something that is beginning to get intolerable for skin. So when the mixture feels warm enough remove it from the water bath and now either with hand whisk or electric whisk or stand whisk, whisk it until the mixture fluffs up becoming almost triple in volume. If you are whisking by hand it will take about 20 minutes, otherwise it will take about 5-8 minutes, when you will lift the whisk it will fall off smoothly making ribbons on the surface, if you try to do a figure of 8 you will be able to see the figure 8 for a moment before it vanishes, when you can do that you are at the right consistency.

2. Now sift the coco powder n flour alternatively in 3 stages and gently fold in with a spatula, first sift one-third coco powder, then one-third plain flour in 3 stages, until the flour n coco powder has been incorporated. For folding rotate the bowl while you lift up the mixture gently with the spatula and fold in slowly, keep rotating the bowl as you do so. After that add the warm melted butter and gently fold in again. Then carefully place the batter gently into the buttered cake tin which is layered at the bottom with perchment paper, then smooth the surface with a spoon or scraper. Then give one tap on the table before you place the cake tin in the oven, bake for about 20 -25 minutes, when a toothpick inserted comes out clean and you will see the cake will start to shrink from the sides. Then take the cake out of the oven, rest 10 minutes, take it out of the cake tin and place on a wired rack to cool overnight.

3. Now well prepare for the cherry syrup. Take a lime, with a sharp knife cut the peel lightly so that you don’t get the white part under the peel, when you have taken off the zest of the whole lime like that, put them in a baking tray and in a very low oven of around 100 degrees Celsius roast them but keep the oven door slightly open, give them about 5-10 minutes, shake the tray in between until they get brown but not burnt. When this is achieved take them out and cool them and they will crisp up, after that in a mortar n pestle powder them with 1 tbsp of sugar, keep aside.

4. Take 1 inch cinnamon stick and roast it slightly in a frying pan, tossing the pan often for about 1 minute, then crush it to a powder in a mortar n pestle, keep aside.

5. Take 4 tbsp of the cherry syrup and mix the corn flour, lime zest powder, cinnamon powder, 1 tsp of sugar until it is smooth. Then put the cherries with 1 cup of syrup in a pan and let it come to a boil, then add this mixture stirring constantly, very soon the cherry syrup will begin to thicken, taste it, add a little sugar if you think it needs a bit, then take it off the heat, pour it in a bowl, let it come to room temperature, when it is there, cover it with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight and it will settle and almost become like cherry jam.

6. So next day we are ready to put it all together. Mount the cake on a high platform, make it by placing a plate on a deep high bowl, you can rotate it also, now with a serrated long knife cut around the edges of the cake to get 3 layers of the cake. Turn the cake slowly as you cut through the cake. Obtain 3 layers.

7. Melt 40 gm of dark chocolate in a water bath and pour that chocolate over the 1st layer of the cake, make that surface almost coated with the liquid chocolate, after that place that cake layer in freeze until the chocolate solidifies.

8. Now we will whip the cream, freeze the whisk, the bowl for whipping for around 30 minutes. The cream should be very cold, around 0 degrees Celsius, then with an electric beater whisk it, when the cream starts to thicken add the vanilla essence, powdered sugar bit by bit and beat it until it just begins to hold the peak when tested with the whisk. Don’t over beat or your cream will be grainy and if using dairy cream it will turn into butter. Just when the cream begins to hold the peak, stop right there.

9. Dissolve the sugar in the water n red rum mixture. Get the cake layer with chocolate and the cherry mixture out of the freeze, with a spoon spread the cherry mixture on top of the chocolate layer which is now solid, cover that surface completely with the cherries. Now take whipped cream and spread it over the cherries until you cover them completely with cream. Place this layer on a round piece of cardboard so the cake will have a solid base and it will easy to move the cake further.

10. Now take 2nd layer of cake and sprinkle the rum syrup with a spoon or brush over both the sides of the layer. Then carefully place that layer on top of the cherry layer, then on top of this layer spread a layer of whipped cream. Then you place the 3rd layer on top of this cream and again brush the rest of the rum syrup all over the surface. Then cover this surface with whipped cream. Now we have to cover the whole cake with cream, so cover the sides carefully with cream. When it is done, put the rest of the whipped cream in a piping bag and pipe on top of the cake the way you like it, I made small spiral rounds around the edges.

11. Now we will make chocolate shavings, get a bar of chocolate, take sharp knife, hold the blade of the knife between you two hands so it is parallel to your body, then resting your hands on the chocolate bar, putting some weight on the bar so it doesn't slip, drag the knife towards you and the chocolate shavings will appear. Be careful when you do this, do it slowly, get around 1 cup of shavings.

12. Take a handful of chocolate shavings and press it lightly around the base of the cake. Go around the cake until the cake is covered with the shavings around the base. Now place whole cherries on top of each cream round you have made on the top, then fill the middle portion of the top of the cake with a handful of shavings. Now see how beautiful it looks! Isn’t it just so amazing? You just did that!

And now we are ready to cut into the black forest gateau cake! Look at the cake for some time and absorb the beauty; let the cake settle a bit also, and then approach with love and with a knife. Bon appétit.