Chocolate Strawberry rolls

What would be the best possible match in the culinary marriage of chocolate? If I were to match the horoscope, I would conclude that it is orange that is the best match closely followed by strawberry. Somehow, a hint of orange in an otherwise ordinary brownie takes my taste buds several steps closer to nirvana. However in puff pastries and rolls it is strawberry that is a match made in heaven. It is not just Valentine ’s Day that Chocolate and strawberries make a great couple, they sure are any morning when I am craving for these rolls.

Speaking of match made in heaven reminds of weddings.  I love weddings, though I don’t get to go to weddings since I live so far away from family these past several years.  Back then it used to be joyous occasion with extended families, food , celebrations and new clothes, something we looked forward to.  Earliest of memories of a wedding stretch back to eighties, from the cinema wedding to a muslim one to family, several of them. The cinema wedding was indeed dramatic. A wedding sequence for the classic Kannada movie Bandana was being filmed in my neighborhood. The movie makers requested women in our neighborhood to go over to the shoot dressed for the occasion. Hoping to catch a glimpse or their favorite stars (Suhasini Maniratnam and Jai Jagadeesh) my neighbor took me along. Once the shoot was over we were to return back home but I would not budge without the traditional meals served over banana leaf. I threw a big tantrum over food. Poor my neighbor could not convince me that it was just a shoot and there would be no food. Instead she just scooped me up and hurried me back home to my mother. Then there was my teacher’s wedding -a muslim one that I distinctly remember. It was the first time I saw her in make-up and bridal finery, but that did not strike me. What struck me was that my teacher who would otherwise be chatty, pacing up and down the classroom sat amidst bunch of women with her head covered, eyes closed in stoic silence.

The best were the weddings in my own families, when my uncles or cousins got married. Each one of those marriages is unforgettable. Preparations would start months earlier once the match was finalized. There would be several trips to shop for clothing, jewelry etc. Strangely it is just not the bride and the groom that got to wear new clothes. The whole family shopped for new clothes, we end up buying clothes (mostly Saris) for members of distant branches of the family even those that we met only during weddings and have trouble remembering names and how they are related to us. These shopping trips spearheaded by the senior most women folk is a family is like Ekta Kapoor soaps- never ending. Every other day someone pops up on their radar that they had omitted from the Sari list.  This loot goes on till the last day. Men folk typically accompany the shopping party the first few times and then they throw in the towel. The very political process of distributing the loot continues parallel with shopping. There always are folks who think the other cousin scored a better or more expensive Sari. It is impossible to make everyone happy even those who were allowed to shop their own stuff will end up no-so-happy after they see the other cousin’s choice. And then there is the dangerous game of recycling Saris. The sari scored in one the weddings in the family of the third cousin twice removed will duly be stored in the closet to be presented to someone else. Some how these senior women in the family like matriarchs in an elephant herd remember everything. I wonder how, I cannot as much remember the matching blouses to my sari. Sometimes even elephantine memory does not help and these recycled stuff short circuit. As with every short circuit these situations are also associated with explosive fireworks of different intensities and some waterworks which if harvested will keep Tamil Nadu happy during the Kuruvai season. Then there will be efforts to please the aggrieved party in form of bribes, praises, more water works from the accused party and they all kiss and make up. This is just the story of Clothes (Saris). There is still jewelry, decorations, food and most important navigating the quagmire of inquisitive relatives who think they have the right to talk to you about everything in your life from bedroom to bathroom to your office desk, nothing is out of bound here.
All these for another day, for now let me focus on chocolate strawberry rolls. These chocolate strawberry rolls turned out to be soft, sweet and chocolaty. It said Sunday like nothing else. So here it is.
We will need,

For the rolls:
Maida 1 Cup
Whole Wheat flour (Chapati flour) 1 Cup
Yeast 1.5 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Sugar 3 tbsp (add more if sweeter rolls are preferred, these are barely sweet, just the way my family likes)
Butter 3 tbsp plus 1 tsp or so to grease
Milk  lukewarm Shy of 1 Cup

Strawberry jam 
Chocolate Chips /chunks of choice (I love mini bitter sweet chunks) as desired


    • Dissolve the yeast in milk + 1 tsp sugar and set it aside. If the mixture turns frothy in the next 15 minutes or so. If it is not frothy they discard and repeat using fresh package of yeast.
    • Mix in all the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and stir it into the milk mixture. 
    • Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture. Mix it well and knead it into a soft ball. Add more milk if the mixture is too stiff.  
    • Grease a bowl with a little butter and place the dough. Cover it with a kitchen towel and place it in a warm spot till it doubles. It took me about 40 minutes. 
    • Punch the dough down and roll it out into a rectangle about 1/4" thick. Spread the strawberry jam all over the dough excluding the the area along 1/2" from the edges. 
    • Scatter the chocolate chips/chunks. Starting from the wider side, gather the edges and start rolling it tightly into a log.Keep the chocolate chips in place while rolling so that they don't bunch.
    • Cut the log into six pieces and transfer it into a greased baking dish one inch apart from each other. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep it in a warm place to double. 
    • Pre heat oven to 375F.  Once the dough had doubled in size, brush some butter over the dough and pop it in the oven. They are done when they are fragrant and golden on top.Serve immediately.

    Ricotta and Panner Peda

    After several years I have started watching a Hindi soap rifling off the internet. I would have loved to watch it legit but for three reason. I am a streamer and I don’t even own a TV, though technically Honey has one in the basement it is far too complicated. That damn thing comes with four remote controls. Turning it on is a nightmare, let alone surf for the right input and subsequently the channel. I did rather solve some trigonometry sums than try to venture into the realm of TV. Miss you KEONICS on/off TV. Two, Hotstar does not stream in USA. I wrote them several times but they would not listen. They don’t even have it on amazon prime channels or Netflix. I almost fell of the chair thinking of Desi soaps on Netflix/Amazon prime. They can fit in tens and thousands of content in the space needed to fit in just Kyun Ki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. Imagine Game of Thrones versus Kum Kum Bhagya, economics of cloud bytes!!

    Post justification for rifling, let us get to the soap. Boy! It is hard to wait. I mean being a streamer and oldest of millennials I loose out on waiting game even before it starts. Hello! how can you go on for days without watching how it ends. Not that I did not watch soaps before. I do remember watching several of them on Doordarshan including Shanti and Swabhiman but those were the times we had only them to watch and nothing else. If there was a power cut during the air time we lost those episodes forever. Also I remember watching a weepy called  Thoda Hai Thode Ki Zaroorath Hai. This one was probably a weekly. Not sure though, it is been a long time and as can be expected I abandoned it midway after it got too tedious. I did watch the Kyon Ki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi initially when Tulasi was a Physics MSc topper (anyone remember?) and abandoned it once she because bahu wearing ridiculous jewelry/sari. I should mention a disclaimer here. I did watch Iss Pyar Ka Kya Naam Doon the original one. It so happened that when the male lead quit the show there was a great hubbub, it was in the newspapers, internet everywhere. I was the proverbial cat that got curious and rifled though the internet and saw one of the episode. The male lead was super attractive, female lead good, story intriguing and it got me hooked. The soap was by then off air and here I was trying to catch up from episode 1. I did manage to watch the whole thing in about a week, of course forward tab helped. Since I started with last episode, there was no waiting to know the end and it suited me perfectly.

    Now for the current soap, how is that the hero and heroine always manage to tangle their dupatta/watch, bracelet /watch. God knows, it is like they wear their accessories with single intention of getting tangled with the other person. It has never once happened to me in real life and I am a rather clumsy person, yeah I have stumbled awkwardly in platform heals, tumbled down wearing PJs but never got tangled in another person’s accessories, not even in my sisters long hair back when we used to share the same bed, not even when sleeping like a logs. I always wonder how the writers came up with this kind of situations. And then hero and heroine manage to get locked in store rooms/ horse stables/lifts/jungle lodges, their own homes and what not. And the viewers are supposed to interpret it as a romantic getaway! Wonder if the writers have any clue how it might pan out in real life? If I ever get locked in a store room or lift with Honey, it would scare the living daylights out of me. What are we to eat? what about coffee? Honey would turn into a vampire without periodic ingestion of caffeine.(Periodic I mean once every 60-75 minutes) Even if single but people with mutual interest were locked in I seriously doubt if they think of a song and a dance instead of figuring out a rational way to get out. So much for willful suspension of disbelief, but hell I am hooked now and I cannot stop watching. Time to check into soap rehab -now called 'netflix'.
    How the hell did I end up writing about soaps when I should have been writing about Peda? There is a connection. Yesterday was Sri Krishna Janmashtami and I made some Pedas. Every time I think of Krishna, I do think of Nitish Bharadwaj –remember the guy who played Krishna in the original BR Chopra Mahabaharata? There is goes, even gods are not free from the clutches of soaps, I am a mere mortal. After all this I did not even realize my pedas were out of focus. But it is too late, Pedas are gone. I will go ahead anyway.

    This is what I do every festival season, get vats of ricotta cheese and sneak it in as many dishes in every possible combinations.
    Here we go, we will need,

    Fresh Paneer 1 measure
    Ricotta cheese 1 measure
    Jaggery 1/2 to 3/4 measure
    Cardamon 1 pod (seeds crushed. save the skin to make masala chai)
    Ghee a few tsps

    • Crumble the Paneer into a thick non stick pan. Scoop the ricotta into it and mix. Place the mixture on low heat. 
    • Crush the jaggery and stir it into the cheese mixture. Keep stirring gently so that the mixture does not burn. The mixture will loosen up but keep stirring till it leaves the edges and comes together into a ball. Remove from heat.
    • Stir in the crushed cardamon. Using the back of a ladle, rub the mixture against the bottom of the pan. 
    • Once the mixture is cool enough to handle (but very warm), remove it onto a greased platter and rub it well using the heal of your hand till the mixture is soft and no longer crumby. Pour in some melted ghee if the mixture is sticky or feels too dry. 
    • Make it into a log and pinch balls the size of a gooseberry and press it into desired shapes. Refrigerate or consume immediately.