Blood Orange Chocolate Brownies: Bring the Booty to Mamma

It has been freezing outside and the sun has been been a pale incarnation of itself ever since the snow storm swept through my part of the country. It started innocuously, with no hint the evening before of what was to come. Surely the manager at our condominium had sent out an e-mail warning us of a state of emergency declared by the governor. But you know what, in all my inexperience of East Coast weather warnings, I declared it bull. In the recent past, I have stayed back home with news of impending storms. Weather advisories showing up on the phone as orange beacons of alarm. Too frequently. But outside, it used to be just fine. I would just end up missing out on my regular runs. The coin dropped and those warnings tempted derision.

It was your regular miserable day when I woke up, and early on, nothing showed up except for tiny flakes of snow which wafted into the tar of the road outside. It did not stick. It shall stop soon, I figured. But those tiny flakes mushroomed into big flakes, the size of cornflakes, and by noon you could see them slowly coating the pavement, painting the park grounds and the road a stark white. The trees too had icing building up upon their boughs. That is how it turned into a squall of sorts, gusts of wind driving it horizontally. Now the important thing during such storms is that you be inside. Watch it from the comfort of your warm interiors. Bless these modern-day trappings, for how often I yearn for the old. This, I would not give up. Then a snow storm does start looking like a living fairy tale. As if you were caught in a giant snow globe, and someone was turning it upside down to churn snow. Fat puffs of it. Oh it had a magical quality to it, the snow. I suspect that had power been lost, that feeling would have been turned on its head. I will take this feeling though my jars of picked red chilli peppers are crying out for the sun.

So maybe it is the weather, or maybe it is this cake-deprived feeling lodged deep inside me, that yesterday I caved in. I wanted something decadent, okay? Something rich to make my senses whoosh with delight. No substitutes for anything therefore. Plain flour, butter, eggs, brown sugar, milk, a blood orange pureed and its fragrant zest. Then plenty of cocoa powder and an Icelandic chocolate bar broken up in chunks, so that they melted inside the brownie batter in perfect little pockets of oozing goodness.

  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup blood orange (I juiced it and retained the pulp, then heated it to reduce it to half a cup)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Nescafe
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • The zest of the blood orange
  • 1-1/2 cups of dark chocolate chunks

I whisked them in the order mentioned and popped them into the oven (at 177°Cfor 40 minutes.

And when I let it cool for a while, but not long enough because I wanted the warmth of it, it turned up with a crisp crust. The brown sugar had caramelised its fudgy insides. A bite, hmm, and oozing blobs of dark chocolate enveloped me with lavish love, whispering, ‘come child, give in now’, and the bite of that blood orange zest, intense. Three big pieces and I had a halo around my head.

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The day it snowed like it would not stop
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From the rooftop of the building
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The next day outside out the rooftop gym
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Red chilli pepper pickle sobbing for the sun 
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Let’s not skimp
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So that we get this. A brownie that woos you in style, because nothing less will do.

Spicy Egg Bath for Your French Toast

Savoury French Toast with chillies and onion is one of the best snack-y dishes you will have in life. Because who can say no to fried bread with some spices thrown in. If you can resist the temptation, let me know. Not that I would hang you upside down or force-feed you, okay? So do not run away, my pretty.

The idea of this post was suggested by Dolly. She wrote a post on French Toast (that rhymed and I declare myself a poet) which brings together the Romans and this fried bread dish. Being the inveterate opinion giver that I am, I had to put in my two bits on her post, to which Dolly responded with an invitation to do a guest post for her. So here I am with two slices of French Toast in my tummy, feeling like a veritable Roman gourmand and typing away whatever comes into my French toasted mind. Now Dolly does not just put recipes – she gives you a backdrop to it which tickles the imagination. When I learnt that the French Toast, which we have corrupted in India with our typical obsession with spices and heat, was actually the product of a 1st-century Roman fellow called Apicius, I was chuffed. Who would have thunk, right?

Below is how you go about making it for yourself. Since I made it for just myself this morning (I foresee the husband protesting and pouting at being left out), it is enough for one.


Eggs, 2

Bread, 2 slices

Half of a small red onion, chopped fine

A chilli, chopped into thin discs

A handful of coriander, chopped fine

Milk (optional), about 1/4 cup

Cumin powder, 1/4 tsp

Garam masala, 1/4 tsp (recipe for homemade garam masala is to be found at the end of the post)

Red chilli powder (a pinch or two)



Wholegrain spelt & malted barley seeded bread slices with ancient and sprouted grains. I found this bread the other day on the aisles and it is delicious. Nutty and with a slightly chewy texture to it.
Spices. From left to right: Garam masala, red chilli powder and cumin powder. These are just roughly put into the bowls so please do not sprinkle such generous helpings of these.
Bread into the egg bath …
…and into the pan.
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Sauces to dip the bread into

Heat a skillet well and drizzle it with the oil of your choice. I am democratic, yes. I used mustard oil because it adds a wonderful flavour to Indian dishes. I did not go crazy with the oil – just enough to drizzle both sides of the slices. You can always opt for a bed of oil because they do crisp quickly with more oil. As a result of the less quantity of oil, I had to leave the slices to toast for a fairly long time.

While the skillet is heating, whisk the egg with above chopped ingredients and spices. Dunk the bread slices in them and coat both sides of each slice well with the mixture. The chopped veggies do not always stay put (perverse things), so you will have to spoon them onto the bread while frying. Now ease the slices into the skillet and toast both sides till they are crisp.

When they are ready to be ravished, just add some ketchup or Tomato Hot & Sweet sauce, because really, this sauce is a beauty. If you like it hotter, go for a sauce like a Bhut Jolokia hot sauce and let steam vent from your ears.

How to make fresh garam masala

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp cardamom seeds

1 tbsp whole black peppercorns

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp whole cloves

2 dried red chillies

2 tbsp ground turmeric

Toast the whole spices (except turmeric powder) on a skillet till they are fragrant (roughly for 2 mins) and grind the spices in a coffee grinder.Add the turmeric powder to the mixture and you have your garam masala which will stay well for up to a month in a mason jar.