Look for: Well-coloured, plump grapes that are firmly attached to the stem. White or green grapes are sweetest when the colour has a yellowish cast or straw colour, with a tinge of amber. Red varieties are better when good red predominates on all or most of the berries. Bunches are more likely to hold together if the stems are predominantly green and pliable.

Avoid: Soft or wrinkled grapes, or bunches of grapes with stems that are brown and brittle; these are the effects of freezing or drying. Also avoid grapes with bleached areas around the stem ends (indicating injury and poor quality), and leaking berries (a sign of decay).


Look for: Firm fruits, heavy for their size, are usually the best eating. Thin-skinned fruits have more juice than coarse-skinned ones.

If a grapefruit is pointed at the stem end, it is likely to be thick-skinned. Rough, ridged, or wrinkled skin can also be an indication of thick skin, pulpiness, and lack of juice.

Grapefruit often have skin defects such as scale, scars, thorn scratches, or discolouration. This usually does not affect how the fruit tastes.

Avoid: Soft, water-soaked areas, lack of bright colour, and soft, tender peel that breaks easily with finger pressure are symptoms of decay.

Look for: Plump, unwrinkled fruit, either firm or slightly yielding. Kiwifruit is fully ripe when it is yielding to the touch but not soft. Firm kiwifruit can be ripened at home in a few days by leaving it at room temperature. Use of a ripening bag or bowl will speed the process.

Avoid: Fruit that shows signs of shrivelling, mould, or excessive softening, all of which indicate spoilage. Some kiwifruit may appear to have a "water-stained" exterior. This is perfectly normal for the fruit and does not affect interior quality in any way.

Note: Kiwifruit contains an enzyme, actinidin, similar to papain in papayas, that reacts chemically to break down proteins. (It has been used as a "secret ingredient" to tenderize meat.)

Actinidin prevents gelatin from setting, so if you are going to serve kiwifruit in a gelatin dish, cook the fruit for a few minutes before adding it to the gelatin.

Cake gel

What is cake gel? Also can you give me a recipe for a simple cake without icing?

Hasmina Hamed Masab Tank

Cake gel is used for making sponge. It gives softer texture to the sponge and gives good results to bakery products. One can make nice brownies, which are easy to prepare. What's more, they don't require icing.

Ingredients: Butter - � kg, sugar - 1/2kg, egg - 10, flour - 50g, melted chocolate - 200g, walnuts - 100g

Method: Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add egg one by one. Add melted chocolate. Add flour and crushed walnuts to above mixture. Put this mixture in mould and bake at 160C for 45-50 minutes.

Egg delights


Can you give me the recipe of egg masala and egg moghulai?

Jyothi Himayatnagar

To make egg masala: Boil four eggs and keep aside. Put 1 tbs oil in kadai, add chopped onion - 1, chopped tomatoes - 2, green chillies - 2, red chilli powder - 2 tsp, turmeric powder - 1 tsp, ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp and cook for 10 minutes. Add water to this and cook further for 10 minutes. Add salt to taste. To this, add boiled eggs, peeled and deep fry in oil. Cut eggs into two pieces and serve hot garnished with chopped coriander leaves.

Egg Moghlai: Boil four eggs and keep aside. Put oil in kadai, add one chopped onion, two chopped tomatoes, three green chillies, red chilli powder - 2 tsp, turmeric powder - 2 tsp, ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp, garam masala powder - 1 tsp and cook for 10 minutes. To this add boiled cashew nut paste - 100g. Add water and cook further for 10 minutes. Add salt to taste. This becomes the gravy for the egg. Add fresh cream - 100 ml and finish the gravy with butter - 40 g. To this, add boiled eggs, peeled and deep fried in oil. Serve hot garnished with chopped coriander leaves.

Badam halwa

Could you please give us the detailed recipe for Badam halwa?

Laxmi Maduri Dilsukhnagar

Take 1 kg almonds. Blanch and remove skin and make a coarse paste in mixer. Put 700 gms ghee in kadai and add almond paste. Cook this mixture till light brown. Put sugar syrup (1 kg sugar) and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Serve hot garnished with saffron and almond slivers.

Tomato tang


Can I have the recipe of tomato chutney and tomato pickle. How long can they be preserved?


To make tomato chutney, take 1 kg tomatoes. Wash, clean, cut into small pieces and keep aside. Put oil in handi, put jeera - 20 gms , ginger - 20 gms, chana dal - 10 gms, red chilli whole - 8 and chopped tomatoes. Add salt and tamarind - 5 gms. Also add jaggery - 10 gms. Cook for 10 minutes and put in mixer to make paste.

For tadka, put curry leaves, chana dal, mustard seeds and 3-4 pieces of whole dry red chillies in hot oil. Put this tadka on top of chutney. Serve chutney chilled. Pickle and chutney can be preserved in fridge for 3-4 days.

Tomato pickle: Take 1 kg fresh tomatoes. Wash and fry in oil, remove skin, chop tomatoes and keep aside. Make coarse paste. Take mustard oil - 4 tbs, add rye - � tsp, kalongi - 1/2 tsp, methi seeds - 1/2 tsp and sounf. To this, add chopped tomato paste and cook for 15 minutes. Add salt, red chilli powder - 1 tsp, lemon juice - 30ml, jaggery - 5 gms and continue cooking for 5 to 8 minutes. Cool and store in fridge.

Queries can be mailed to

Foodline, Metroplus desk, THE HINDU, Begumpet Road, Hyderabad - 500 016 Or call between 11 p.m. and 6 p.m. on 23403902.

By Pradeep Khosla