Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Recipe 92: Gluten-Free Hazelnut and Chocolate Brownie

This brownie has a rich taste of hazelnut and chocolate with an almost fudge like texture. It is perfect for those following a gluten-free food habit. The texture is dense and after chilling in the fridge, it gets even more dense. The best thing is that the flavour is not overly sweet and has a delicate bitterness of the dark chocolate.
Follow my recipe for the rich and mouth-watering brownie you have ever tasted:

Ingredients for 12 servings

  1. 100 gms chocolate slab (70 % dark) broken to pieces and melted
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 2 cups hazelnuts (click to buy Dryfruit Hazelnuts)
  4. 1/3 cup sugar
  5. 1/4 cup flavourless vegetable oil
  6. 1/4 cup full fat milk
  7. 1 tbsp. hazelnut extract/essence (click to buy Ossoro Hazelnut Essence)
  8. 1 tsp. vanilla essence (click to buy Ossoro French Vanilla)
  9. 1/4 tsp. salt


Preheat oven to 160 degree Celsius.
Prepare a baking pan by greasing the sides and lining the bottom with a baking paper.
Toast the hazelnuts lightly in a pan.
Cool them and then roll and rub them with a kitchen cloth. This will get rid of the skins easily.
Grind the hazelnuts to a fine powder texture in a grinder or food processor.
Beat the eggs till they are fluffy and almost double in volume.
In a large mixing bowl, pour the melted chocolate and whisk it with oil.
Fold in the beaten eggs and milk.
Slowly add the hazelnut powder and salt.
Fold carefully with a spatula.
Lastly, add the hazelnut and vanilla extract.
Pour this batter into your baking pan.
Cover the sides with aluminium foil and place it in a deep baking tray.
Fill the tray with hot water. This will ensure thorough baking and keep your brownie moist.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let it cool on a wire rack and garnish the top with some chopped hazelnuts.
Store it in the fridge for about a week and enjoy!

Sohini Nandi
Hello from the Land of Santa Claus!
Professionally I am a Conservation Architect. That means I spend most of my time snooping around dilapidated and haunted buildings. I love the smell of old damp lime washed walls. Sorry to put you off with all the unpleasant details.
Now for the fun facts. I have been living in this extremely cold socialist country (its Finland, for the people who are still guessing!) for a few years. But I was in London doing my second post-graduation (University College London) and working on a few projects for the last 1.5 years.
Being a culture enthusiast, I have travelled far and wide in Europe learning culture and trying the unique local cuisines. Yes, I am a foodie too!
In SpicesnSecrets I will be sharing some of my experiences for similar lost souls in an alien country.
Cheers to life!

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Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Recipe 91: Soya Makhni

Soya is a one of the staples in a vegetarian household after paneer and vegetables.

So, to think of innovative ideas using the same ingredient becomes a must.

I have a recipe that is a lot like the Paneer Butter Masala or Kadhai Paneer. Delicious and creamy, this dish with soya is nothing like you have very tried.

A little cumbersome because of the steps involved, but once you try its easy and you will always make it this way.

There are quite a few ways in which you can enjoy this recipe. For example, you can opt out the capsicum. You can reduce the gravy for a more stir fried style wit masala. Or add more water for a thin gravy. Either way, the dish does turns out well.

I made today's dish using 50-50 quantity of both soya granules and chunks. You can go for just granules or just chunks. Either way, it wont affect the taste of the final dish. The only advantage with soya granules is that the gravy is much thicker because granules suck up the gravy juices and spread out evenly in the dish.


  1. 1 cup soya (half granules and half chunks)
  2. 1/2 cup fresh cream
  3. 2 medium size onion roughly chopped
  4. 1 large tomato roughly chopped
  5. 1 large onion diced
  6. 1 capsicum diced
  7. 1 inch ginger
  8. 4-5 garlic cloves
  9. 3-4 green chillies
  10. 3 elaichi
  11. 1 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
  12. 1 tbsp. kasuri methi
  13. 4 tsp. red chilly powder
  14. 2 tsp. dhania powder
  15. 2 tsp. zeera whole
  16. 1 tsp. haldi
  17. 1 tsp. sugar
  18. 1 tsp. sauf
  19. salt to taste
  20. vegetable oil for cooking


Soak soya for 1 hour in plenty of room temperature water.
Once they bloom and double in size, squeeze out all the water and place them in a bowl.
Add ginger-garlic paste, 2 tsp. red chilly powder and salt.
Marinate soya and keep aside for later usage.
In a pan, heat some oil.
On high heat, fry the diced capsicum and onion.
Ensure that the vegetables are not soft and mushy.
After 1 minute of frying, take them out.
In the same pan, fry the marinated soya on high heat.
Stir continuous and after soya develops some brown color take it out and keep aside.
Now in the same pan, add some more oil.
Temper zeera and sauf.
Add the roughly chopped onions, tomatoes, whole ginger and garlic cloves.
Stir for a minute.
Add salt, haldi, red chilly powder, dhania powder, elaichi and sugar.
Stir well till oil begins to separate.

Switch off the heat and let the mixture cool.
In a blender jar, make a smooth puree of the onion-tomato mixture.
Heat a pan, pour the puree and let it come to a simmer.
Add 1 cup water.
Let the gravy come to a rolling boil.
Add the previously fried soya and kasuri methi.
Cover and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes or till a thin layer of oil forms on top.
Now add cream and previously fried diced onions and capsicum.
Stir for no more than 1-2 minutes on low heat.
Serve warm with rice or paratha or naan!

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Recipe 90: Eggless Sugar Donuts

I am really close to a 100 recipes in Spices n Secrets. With just 10 more left for a century, I had to start the countdown with something sweet.

I am a lover of donuts but the unnecessary overpricing of these simple-to-make dessert, makes me cringe.

I make my donuts at home and it comes out fool-proof every time.

So, if you fancy a donut, just scroll below for a wonderful easy recipe of vanilla sugar donuts.


  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour/maida
  2. 3/4 cup warm milk
  3. 3 tbsp. sugar
  4. 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  5. 2 tsp. dry yeast (click to buy Yeast)
  6. 1/4 tsp. salt
  7. Extra vegetable oil for deep frying

For Sugar Topping:

  1. 1 cup sugar powder
  2. 3-4 drops vanilla essence (click to buy French Vanilla Flavour)


Portion out 1/2 cup warm milk and add to it 3 tbsp. sugar and yeast.
Cover and let the solution sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.
The yeast needs to activate and you will notice tiny bubbles forming on top of milk after 10-15 minutes. It may take more time if you are living in cold climate.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl add the flour, salt and vegetable oil.
Now pour in the milk-yeast solution.
Knead well.
If required pour more milk.
The dough should be soft but not too sticky and wet.
Smear oil all over the dough and cover the bowl.
Let the dough sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
The dough should double in size.
With clean hands, knock the air out from the dough and knead.
Keep the dough rested again for another 1 hour.
Now uncover the dough and take out a chunk of dough.
Roll out the dough to 1-2 inch thick disc.
With a big round cutter cut out as many donuts as possible.
You can also fry these without cutting out the center and fill them later with thick custard or cream or jam.
Else with a small round cutter, cut out the center of the donuts.
Place all the donuts, on a platter sprinkled with some flour and cover them with a cloth.
Rest them at room temperature for half an hour.
For cooking, heat enough oil for deep frying.
Meanwhile, take a medium size bowl and add sugar powder and vanilla essence.
Mix with fingers the vanilla into the sugar.
Keep the vanilla sugar ready for donuts later.
Now check whether the donuts have doubled in size.
Carefully, lift each donut and fry them in hot oil.
After it turns golden brown on both sides, quickly place them in vanilla sugar.
Shake and coat each donut in vanilla sugar.
Serve hot with coffee or tea!

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Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Recipe 89: Dhaba Style Chicken Curry

One of my often repeated dish for a party is a chicken gravy.
Both I and my husband prepare it with minor changes in the recipe but there is no compromise with taste and texture.
So, here it is. Made with extremely simple ingredients, I share my Chicken Curry recipe. It's called Dhaba Style because the method involves lots of stirring and roasting of masalas. The quantity of oil for cooking is more than usual so that a thin layer of flavourful oil forms the top of the gravy. The addition of onions in two forms is also necessary because sliced onions act as barista the pureed onions thicken the gravy.


  1. 1/2 kilo chicken
  2. 4 medium size onions pureed
  3. 4 medium size onions thinly sliced
  4. 2 large tomatoes
  5. 4-5 green chillies
  6. 1-2 inch stick cinnamon
  7. 3 cardamom
  8. 3-4 black peppercorns
  9. 3-4 cloves
  10. 1/2 cup sour yogurt
  11. 2 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
  12. 2 tbsp. chicken masala (click to buy Chicken Masala)
  13. 2 tsp. haldi
  14. 2 tsp. red chilly powder
  15. 2 tsp. sugar
  16. 1 tsp. zeera powder
  17. 1 tsp. dhania powder
  18. salt to taste
  19. vegetable oil for cooking


Wash and clean the chicken pieces.
In a large bowl, add yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, salt, haldi, chilly powder, zeera powder, dhania powder and chicken masala.
Marinate the chicken with yogurt and spices overnight.
For cooking, heat oil.
Temper cardamom, cinnamon, black peppercorns and cloves.
Stir for no more than 20 seconds else the whole spices will burn.
Add the sliced onions and fry till golden brown.
Add the purred onions and tomatoes.
Stir well till oil separates.
Now add chicken along with all the marination.
Add the green chillies and sugar.
On high heat, stir occasionally and let the chicken ooze all its juices.
Adjust the salt.
After 10 minutes, lower the heat and let the chicken and gravy cook.
Cover the vessel.
If you prefer a thinner gravy, then add water.
Cook till the chicken is completely done and oil surfaces on top.
Serve with rice or paratha.

Sanjana Datta Das
Born in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, India, I have travelled all over the country and few places abroad.
My educational background is B.pharm and M. pharm.
With a keen interest in cooking, I am here to share my ideas and views on easy to cook recipes, homecare, babycare and much more.

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Monday, 26 August 2019

Recipe 88: Mixed Dal

Few days back I bought a variant of dal (aka lentils and pulses) which was "mixed".

Never tried it earlier and neither knew how to cook, I went ahead and prepared it the spicy way.

What I ended up having was blog worthy!

This mixed dal was delicious, thick yet syrupy, and needless to say way more nutritious than any other variant.
The mixed dal packet that I got was a combination of Masoor+Aahar+Urad+Green Moong+Chana.
Not necessary you have to have the same packet of dal because I believe my recipe is adaptable to all kinds of dal combinations.

Also, you can mix in the above mentioned dals from their individual packets. Say, combine 1 cup masoor with half cup of aarhar, green moong, chana, with 1/4 cup urad (urad is a black color slimy dal and more if it will turn the finished dish very slimy and dark in color).


  1. 1 cup mixed dal (click to buy Mixed Dal)
  2. 2 medium size onion finely chopped
  3. 1 medium size tomato chopped
  4. 3-4 green chillies slit
  5. 2 tej patta/bay leaves
  6. 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  7. 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  8. 2 tbsp. Kitchen King (alternatively use 1tsp. zeera powder+1tsp. dhania powder+ 1tsp. garam masala powder) (click to buy Kitchen King)
  9. 1 tbsp. ghee
  10. 1 tbsp. ginger-garlic grated/paste
  11. 1 tsp. cumin seeds/zeera
  12. 1 tsp. haldi/turmeric
  13. 1 tsp. red chilly powder
  14. 1/4 tsp. hing
  15. salt to taste


Soak dal in room temperature water for half an hour prior to cooking.
In a large handi/kadhai, heat oil.
Temper tej patta and zeera.
Add hing.
Stir for no more than 20 seconds or hing will burn.
Add and fry onions till brown.
Add green chillies.
Add tomatoes.
Stir for 1 minute.
Make a slurry of kitchen king, haldi, red chilly powder, salt and ginger-garlic paste.
Add it to the tomatoes.
Stir on low flame till oil surfaces on top.
Drain water from the dal and add dal to the onion-tomato mixture.
Add about 3-4 glasses of water.
On high flame, let the dal come to a rolling boil.
Then reduce the heat, and let dal cook for half an hour or till most of dal has disintegrated and the texture of dal is thick.
Cook and reduce the water according to your desired consistency.
Add lemon juice and cook for 1 minute more.
Switch off heat.
Finish with ghee.
Serve hot with roti, paratha or rice.

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