Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Apple Pie

Mother nature has really perfected herself. Each day the sun rises and sets, moon waxes and wanes when they should. Seasons come and go just when they should. The nicest part of all these changes are that the fruit and vegetables also change. One really looks forward to summer when you know mangoes will flood the market. In December, it is the Kamala oranges from Nagpur. Come February and the grapes are there. Though nowadays with globalisation, the world is getting to be a smaller place and you seem to get most fruit all through the year. I guess it must be autumn in the Southern hemisphere when it is spring in the Northern parts. (Like a friend would say... If he wanted a drink a little earlier in the day then he would simply justify it by saying it was 7 pm in some other part of world and would very conveniently imagine himself there enjoying his tipple.)

But in India, during its season each fruit or vegetable takes pride of place. If it is apples, mangoes, oranges, cauliflowers or peas then every street corner you see nothing but that... on handcarts, on pavements, in stores.
It just makes you want to run into the kitchen and make something using them.

At home, come September ( remember the old Ventures tune?) then it is Apple Pie time. If time is a constraint, then it becomes Apple Crumble.

This time I had enough and more time on my hands as you can see. I had enough time to try out the lattice on top which I learnt from here.

Now for the recipe...

For the crust:

400 grams all purpose flour.
200 grams butter ( really cold and hard)
1 teaspoon sugar

For the Filling:

6 apples sliced finely
3 tablespoon flour
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder


For the crust

Sieve the flour and add the sugar into it.
Put in the butter into the flour mixture.
The key here is using absolutely cold butter. Using a knife, cut the butter into little pieces in the flour itself. Then using only your finger tips, mix the butter into the flour till it starts looking like fresh bread crumbs.
Put a couple of ice cubes into 1/4 cup cold water. Use this very cold water a tablespoon at a time to gather the dough together. Don't make the dough too mushy or you will have a hard time rolling it out.
Keep it in the fridge immediately.
The idea of keeping everything so cold is that it helps make the final shortcrust pastry really flaky.
Divide the dough into two. Roll out one half to a size a little larger than the pie dish you are using. Place it in the pie dish. Use a fork to make little holes in the base crust to prevent it from rising while baking.
The other half of the dough can now be rolled out and strips cut to make into a lattice top after piling the apple filling.

Now for the filling.

Slice the apples. Mix in the sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pile it into the base crust till it is about 2 to 3 inches above the pie plate.

Make the lattice on top otherwise just roll out and place another full crust on top.

Bake at 180 deg C for about 30 minutes or till the top is golden brown and the apple filling is bubbling.

Another tip is that if you want a shiny look then you can lightly coat the top of the crust with an egg wash ( a mixture of equal quantities of egg and water) before baking.

Friday, September 21, 2007


You know the old rut. " Ma, You never make anything nice nowadays. Its always soooooo bbbboooorrrring". Somehow whatever we make, the grass is always greener on the other side. A vegetable made in a friend's house is always "ssoooo yummy!!!!!" whereas the same thing when made at home, will get a response of " yuck, no". Like they say 'ghar ki murgi dal barabar' ( translated as a chicken from ones own house is equivalent to an ordinary dal)
Its always a challenge to come up with nutritious yet tasty, new but not too different tastes...

So thats something I am always on the look out for, new recipes loaded with nutrition, and of course lot of vegetables hidden in it.

A few years ago on a holiday, I had falafel . The taste was so familiar to my palate, but yet so different.
But I somehow forgot about it after that first time. The other day just scouting around all the blogs looking for something for the MBP event on bread, I came across a reference to a falafel recipe on Nupur's blog. It was a part of the Pita sandwich. I had anyway decided on the whole wheat pita bread for an event. So this was just taking the concept forward and going the whole hog.

It looked so yummy and interesting, I had to give it a try immediately. So here goes.

I used the same recipe she did with wonderful results.

No changes at all. It was yum.

I also made the "taratour sauce" to go with it.

I had to make the tahini from scratch. I blended
1/2 cup lightly roasted sesame seeds along with
3 tablespoon light sesame oil.

To make the taratour sauce exactly as per her recipe I added
1/2 cup yoghurt,
1 minced garlic clove,
salt to taste ,
2 tablespoon lemon juice,
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder to the

I made pita bread ( recipe here ) and made a pita sandwich. I stuffed the pita with 2-3 falalfels, some sliced iceberg lettuce, and a salad made with diced tomatoes, cucumber, red/yellow/green capsicum, coriander leaves and parsley, salt and pepper.

The final sandwich was very tasty only it lacked that spicy kick that most Indian palates enjoy. So I add a few drops of tabasco to add that hot taste. PERFECT!!!

( BTW, the kids loved it. They thought it was something quite different). I am glad I tried this one out. It will definitely be a repeat at home.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

I quite enjoy baking and I find it quite therapeutic. Usually it is restricted to cakes and cookies and pies. I find that when you get used to making something often, it becomes second nature and there is no challenge involved in it. But on the other hand, when you try something new, it keeps the interest going and you have to concentrate just that little extra to get it right.

The other day a friend of mine gave me a few packets of instant yeast and I was wondering what to do with them. Made baby naans and they were a huge hit as usual.
Coincidentally or as I prefer to call it - divine intervention, I saw Coffee's blog event on MBP: Bread. It was perfect. I had all this yeast and now I had the perfect opportunity to make something new AND send it for an event. So scouting I went. I had been wanting to make pita rounds for a while. The idea of stuffing them with different fillings really appealed to me. Very novel idea and an opportunity for the children to try out something different.

I landed up at Jugalbandi. They had a very nice healthy looking recipe for whole wheat pita bread. I followed their recipe for the most part, except I used 4 cups of whole wheat flour instead of 3.25. I also had to use 2 cups of warm water to make the dough.

Result?? Excellent. The pita bread was soft , round, well puffed and easily separated. I kept in mind that it should not be too brown. Though I have to admit, I missed a few which got toasted to a crisp :(.

I loved their phrase of 70% puff rate. I like to think I had the same result. They were pretty easy to separate even in the 30 % stuck part of the bread.

I stuffed them with falafel and taratour sauce ( recipe follows).

And Coffee: My most favorite aromas in the kitchen will have to be:

1) Strong South Indian coffee percolating in the filter early morning.

2) Ginger/garlic sizzling in the oil when added to the tadka.

3) Brownies baking in the oven.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Avakai - Andhra Food Series

Though from Andhra who are traditional pickle eating people, our family never ate that many pickles. Even if we did, as children, we would wash the mango piece (wash off the spices) and then take little bites from it to eat along with curd rice.

But as I got older, I developed a taste for the famous Andhra pickles. What do you think? Are we genetically wired to like some foods? Or is it that we feel its familiar and therefore end up liking it?

The pickle that I enjoy eating is Avakai which is mango pieces in mustard and chilli powder with oil and salt. The hot chilli taste really appeals to me and in combination with curd rice..?? I cannot describe the heavenly taste. Also, just plain avakai masala with plain hot rice and a dollop of melted ghee????? .. Simply delicious.

But the only thing was that my mom never made pickles back then. Cos we did not consume pickles regularly, it was not the annual routine summer time event. All this changed when I got married. Here every summer, come mango season and the pickle making would start. Jaadis will be washed and thoroughly dried. Powders will be bought.. Scout for good mangoes and then a whole day will go in the pickle making. Mom in law uses the recipe given by her mom in law... and so the tradition goes on. I always thought pickle making to be a hard, laborious process, but actually it is not that hard. Just need to have everything at hand and put it together.

When I heard of Sunitas think spice event on mustard, I thought avakai will be the perfect entry as it typifies the use of mustard. Ava itself means mustard in Telugu and Kai refers to raw fruit. This is my entry for the Think Spice: Mustard event.

This is the recipe handed down to me by my mother in law which was handed down to her by her mother in law. So I can safely say that this is a tried and tested recipe.


1 kg Mango pieces cut with a part of the shell in each
250 grams mustard powder
125 grams chilli powder
250 grams salt
1/4 litre gingelly oil
2 teaspoon turmeric powder


1 teaspoon methi seeds(fenugreek)

1 teaspoon mustard seeds


Mix all the dry powders together.
Heat 2 teaspoon oil and fry seasoning ingredients.
Cool and add with remaining ingredients to the powdered ingredients.
Finally add to it the mango pieces and mix thoroughly.
Store in a DRY clean bottle or Jaadi. It should easily last for about a year.

Main thing to watch out for is that no moisture should come in contact at any point. This will result in the pickle getting spoilt.

UPDATE: I believe this is also called Mavinikai Upinikai in Kannada so this goes as another entry for RCI: Karnataka.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Banana Halwa

For a long time before I started this blog, I used to spend a lot of time reading all these blogs which are now so familiar. Drool over the pictures, sternly make up my mind that I will make this that and the other.
One of the recipes which caught my eye a long time ago was Banana Halwa which I saw in Indira's blog here. Knowing how much I love banana in any form, I was determined to try it for a longest while, but as usual just sat on it. I think this where all these food blogging events come in really handy. One gets down to things just because there is a date by which it has to be submitted.

Finally, today went and picked up the Nendram Pazham and got down to it.
This was an easy enough recipe - very simple and straight forward. I had to tweak it a bit because I did not have a couple of the ingredients. But I have to say the end product did not suffer because of this fact. It was delicious, not too rich and just what I need after my lunch. I have an extremely sweet tooth and this fitted the job to a T.

This is my entry to JFI : Bananas hosted by Mandira of Ahaar

Now for the recipe which I used:


2 nendram pazham
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons all purpose flour mixed in 1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon cardamom powder

( I missed the lemon juice and cashewnuts as I did not have them handy. Lemon juice may have added that tang and clarified the sugar syrup, I am not sure. Cashews are only a garnish anyway. Also, I used far less ghee than what the original recipe called for as I wanted to watch the calories)


Peel , deseed the Banana fruit. Cut into small chunks.
Pressure cook for about 3 whistles and then when cool, mash in the mixie.
Heat the sugar along with the water. Cook till it reaches a one string consistency.
Mix in the mashed banana till well blended.
After is is a homogenous mass, add the flour / water mixture. Cook again till it looks well cooked. Slowly add the ghee little by little.
Finally add the cardamom powder and cashewnut if using.
Serve. And enjoy the compliments

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chocolate Cake and the Recliner

Recently for my husband's birthday, the kids and I got him this recliner that he had his eye on for a long time. It was one herculean effort to get the recliner up, make space for it in the room, setting it up... But now that it is set up... its a whole new story....

The room duplicates Kurukshetra and the biggest battles now at home resemble mini Mahabharatha yuddhas. Ask me why. Everyone is now is vying for possession of the chair. It is like a land grabber who will not give up for anything on earth. I did not realise how quickly a sweet husband and two lovely children can turn into a bunch of vultures circling their prey. One just has to get up when under him, the other has wriggled in....No one is willing to give an inch. It is a sight to see. To make up for my time on the chair, I end up sitting and rocking myself at 6 in the morning while brushing my teeth. Thats the only time the seat is free for me.... What's a girl to do???? I submit with good grace

Now for the chocolate cake. We made this for his birthday. Turned out well and looked good too.

Heres the recipe...

2 1/4 cup Flour
1 2/3 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Butter softened
2/3 Cocoa
3 eggs
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla essence


Preheat oven to 190 deg C
Grease and flour a 9"X13" pan.
Cream butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla till light and fluffy.
Sift all the dry ingredients till well mixed.
Alternately add flour mixture and water to the creamed mixture.
Pour into the greased pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

PS: When I say grease and flour it means first appl a little butter or vegetable oil to the baseand sides of the baking pan and then dust a little flour on it till there is a light spinkling of flour coating the base and the sides. This helps in freeing the cake from the pan without any mishaps. Otherwise just use parchment paper to line the base after greasing it.

I use an icing when it is for a celebration. But no butter in the icing. I just make a simple glace icing with sugar and cocoa.

1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons hot water

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa. Mix in the hot water one teaspoon at a time till the icing is pourable but not runny.
Pour on top of the cake and spread gently with a knife.Put some grated chocolate or some sprinkles on top and leave to set.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Paneer Bhurji

Very often, we get into a rut and don't know what to make for dinner. I am sure a lot of you out there know what I am talking about. At home that is quite a frequent occurence. Then we go back to our good old favorite, paneer. Paneer in any form is a welcome meal at home. But the thing is all of us look for healthy low oil recipes.
This recipe gives us all those and is a wholesome meal with phulkas. It is light and more importantly, it is quick and very easy to make.


250 grams Paneer grated
2 onions chopped finely
2 tomatoes diced finely
2 capsicums diced finely
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
salt to taste

1 tablespoon coriander leaves


Heat oil. When hot add jeera till golden and sizzling.
Add onions and capsicum. Fry till translucent and still crunchy.
Add tomatoes and cook till they start losing their shape before they get mushy.
Add salt and chilli powder.
Finally add grated paneer and garnish with coriander leaves.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Batata Poha and Wives Are Priceless

I read this online today and was most amused by it. I thought I should share it with all of you.

A man came home from work and found his three children
outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty
food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard.
The door of his wife's car was open, as was the front door
to the house and there was no sign of the dog. Proceeding
into the foyer, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had
been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against
one wall. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a
cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys
and various items of clothing.
In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was
spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog
food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the
table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back
He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and
more piles of clothes, looking for is wife. He was worried
she might be ill, or that something serious had happened.
He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way
out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet
towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor.
Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been
smeared over the mirror and walls.
As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled
up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked
up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.
He looked at her bewildered and asked, "What happened
here today?"
She again smiled and answered, "You know every day
when you come home from work and you ask me what in
the world did I do today?"
"Yes," was his incredulous reply.
She answered, "Well, today I didn't do it."
Wives are Priceless, aren't they?

:) Funny isn't it?
Source: Humor World

Now for the Batata Poha:


250 grams thick poha ( flattened rice. Use the thicker version of poha as it does not disinegrate so easily on adding water))
2 potatoes diced really really small
2 onions chopped finely
2 green chillis chopped finely
2 tablespoons coriander leaves chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil
juice of 1 small lime
2 tablespoons grated coconut ( optional)


Wash the poha under running water in a colander. Leave to soak for about 1/2 an hour.
Heat oil in a kadai. When medium hot, add the mustard seeds till they crackle.
Add the onions and chopped green chillis and saute till translucent. Add the turmeric powder and immediately add the potatoes. Keep frying till potatoes are cooked. If required sprinkle a little water every now and then to hasten the cooking process and to reduce the sticking.
Add salt at this point. Then add the soaked poha. Mix around for a few minutes and add the lime juice.
Garnish with coriander leaves and grated coconut and serve hot.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Kosambari and Random Acts of Kindness

Once long ago I watched a talk show which spoke about random acts of kindness. It really touched a chord within me. We go through life sometimes in such a hurry that we miss a lot of things along the way. We miss a lot of opportunities to help others. Little realising that we need people as much as they need us. One act of kindness performed will come back manyfold even if it is in the form of just smiles. No one need know that we are doing it. It can be our little secret. It is one thing that benefits both the giver and the receiver.

Helping someone disabled cross the street... feeding someone who just needs the next meal... just a smile at people in the lift..volunteer at the school...have a conversation with the elderly at an old age home..just say something nice to everyone you meet a long lost friend.. tell your parents how much they mean to you...there are ways and means. Everything we do need not be linked to money. Each of us has within ourselves the time, patience or talents to give others.

I guess teaching this one value to the kids will help them a lot in the long run. It makes the world a better place to live.

I read on one of these blogs about the blogger helping out in a community kitchen and making things from whatever is available. I am sorry I forgot which one. What a commendable job.. That is exactly what I am talking about. Volunteering your time and effort. Thats all it takes.

Now for the food part... Kosumbri is a salad made typically in Karnataka. It is a salad made up predominantly of lentils along with some raw vegetables and a tadka of mustard seeds.. Garnished with coconut and coriander leaves, it makes a wonderful accompaniment to a meal.

one carrot peeled and grated
one cucumber peeled, seeds removed and grated
3 tablespoons split moong dal soaked for 2 hours
1 green chili chopped finely
1/2 a lime juiced
2 tablespoon grated coconut
1 teaspoon coriander leaves chopped finely
salt to taste


Mix the grated carrot, cucumber, soaked moong dal, grated coconut and green chili.
Add the lime juice and salt when ready to serve ( otherwise the salt will make the cucumber water pour out and will dilute the taste)
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with a meal.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Moghlai Egg Curry

India is a vast country and its cuisine is as diverse as it can get. The same dal is cooked in a hundred different ways as are the rice and rotis. Each degree change in the latitude and longitude results in a slight tweaking of the same recipe until it assumes a completely new avatar in its new home. I guess that's the way the foods habits change from place to place.
I have tried to introduce my children to as many cuisines as possible. As the world gets to be a smaller place in our own time, foods habits also tend to change. In my opinion, they should be able to manage where ever they are. Also, more importantly, enjoy what they eat.
Though a South Indian, I am not overly fond of its cuisine. I guess sambar and pulusus were always on the menu at home and naans and paneer was more rare. Also, I just simply enjoy the taste of all foods north of the Vindhyas. Something about the flavors and the 'ruchi' of its foods and cuisine. Give me gujarati/ punjabi food anyday. I am sure I can eat it 24/7.

Though we are predominantly vegetarian, the only 'non veg' dish in our house is eggs. Though as one of my fellow bloggers said, it does not grow on plants and there fore is clearly non vegetarian, I just feel it adds an extra dose of proteins to our diet.

This recipe was initially sourced off the internet, but then adapted and changed till it got its present form. It goes very well with both rotis and dosas which is a staple at home. It is not steeped in oil as its title may suggest (moghlai being synonymous with oily).


Masala 1:

2 onion

4 cloves garlic

1" piece ginger

3 green chillis

Masala 2
1 tablespoon khus khus (poppy) seeds
1 tablespoon cashewnuts
1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)

2 onions sliced
4 tomatoes

1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon haldi or turmeric powder
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin) powder
1 teaspoon dhania powder
salt to taste

6 eggs hard boiled
1 tablespoon coriander leaves


Grind masala 1 with a little water to a fine paste.

Separately, grind Masala 2 till very fine. ( It is better to dry grind the poppy seeds till fine and then add the cashewnuts and the water)

Heat oil till medium hot.
Add jeera and fry till it sizzles golden brown. Add sliced onions and fry for a few minutes till translucent. Add masala paste 1 and fry till oil separates and it turns golden brown.
Add dry powders that is jeera, salt, chilli and dhania and turmeric powders. Fry for about a minute and add chopped tomatoes.
Fry again till the oil separates and it turns mushy.
Add masala paste 2 at this point stir for a bit and then put in 2 cups of hot water.
Keep stirring till gravy forms and it thickens.
Make cuts on the eggs without cutting through.
Put the eggs into the hot gravy when ready to serve and garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve hot with naans, chapatis or crisp dosas.