Sunday, December 14, 2008

Vangi Bhaath And Old Memories

One of the least eaten or liked vegetables has to be brinjals aka aubergines or egg plant. For some reason, this is a very acquired taste. But this was one vegetable that was cooked regularly at home in one form or the other. I think one reason for this has to be that it is my mother's favorite veggie. She made it in so many different ways and made sure that all her kids loved it as much as she did. One never realises how many different ways the same veggie can be made until such time that we sit down and start writing about it. It then hits you like a tonne of bricks that this was the same veggie in an entirely new avatar.

But I had never eaten vangi bhath till I got married. Thats when my mother in law mentioned this dish for the very first time. Loving brinjal as much as I do, I was totally excited about the combination of rice and brinjal. The icing on the cake was the fact that the end product had a very sweet, spicy and tangy taste all at the same time. Quickly learnt how to make it and it has been a staple on our dining table ever since.

Very easy to make particularly with the MTR Vangi bhath masala so readily available.


2 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 cups brinjal cut up into little bits
3 tablespoons gingelly oil
2 tablespoons cashewnuts
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
8-10 curry leaves
2 tablespoons MTR Vangi bhath masala powder
1 lemon sized ball tamarind soaked in water and juice extracted
1 teaspoon powdered jaggery


Mix the tamarind juice, vangi bhath powder and jaggery till well blended.
Heat one tablespoon oil. Fry the cashewnut bits till golden brown. Keep aside.
Heat the remaining oil. Fry the mustard seeds till they crackle. Add the curry leaves and then the brinjal bits.
When well fried, add the tamarind/vangi powder paste to it. Cook till raw smell of tamarind disappears.
Add the cooked rice to this and mix well till the masala coats each grain of rice well.
Garnish with the cashewnuts and serve hot with papads.

Vangi Bhath Masala Powder:

Grated coconut- 3 tablespoons
Chana dal - 2 tablespoons
Urad dal - 2 tablespoons
Coriander seeds- 2 tablespoons
Sesame seeds- 2 tablespoons
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
Cloves - 2
Green Cardamom - 1
Jeera - ¼ teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds- ¼ teaspoon
Red chillies - 5
Cinnamon- 1" piece
Asafoetida - a pinch

Heat a pan and dry roast the grated coconut till a light golden colour and keep it aside.
Roast red chillies to light brown color and keep aside. Dry roast all other ingredients. When cool, grind all the roasted ingredients together to a fine powder.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Deepavali and Badam Burfi

Happy Deepavali to all my readers. Its that time of the year again. I simply love Deepavali. It is really a festival that brings so much excitement into our lives. The new clothes the crackers, the sweet making, the yummy food that we eat. The list goes on and on. Deepavali is a time to bend all rules and simply enjoy.

My sister in law and I decided to make something really ultra simple this year. So Badam Burfi it is. Minimal ingredients, very simple to make but in my opinion, the lesser the number of ingredients, the taste of each ingredient really stands out. In this case there are only two main ingredients. Almonds and sugar. You can put in other add ons but that is entirely optional and suited to each ones taste. But it does not lack for anything even if you use just these two main ones.Now I had a lot of help cutting the burfi from my little niece ( I hope that explains the little uneven edges :) ). She very ably assisted me every stage even in the stirring and when she could not help, she hopped onto to a stool and gave me company in the long and hard process of waiting for the ball like stage.


Almonds - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Little milk to grind the almonds maybe 2 -3 tablespoons


Soak the almonds in boiling hot water for a few minutes. Peel the skin.
Then soak in hot water for about 6 to 8 hours.
Grind to a smooth paste using the milk.
Place a piece of foil on the counter top and grease it with a little ghee or butter.

Pour the almond paste into a non stick pan along with the sugar and start cooking on a low flame.
Keep stirring and make sure the flame is on low. At this point you can add some cardamom powder if you like the taste.

After about 40 minutes to an hour it will start to gather together and become a ball.
When it does FINALLY (!!!!!%$#@%$$%^) become a ball and your hand is ready to fall off, Then take it off the stove.
Spread on the foil and flatten. Leave for a few minutes to cool and cut into shapes.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chocolate Eclair Pudding and a Great Holiday

Just back from a fabulous holiday, totally relaxed and well rested and raring to go. I was really looking forward to a holiday for a while now but somehow it just did not happen. Finally made plans and just got onto to the plane. There is nothing like a holiday to cheer you up. The only downside was that I was by myself minus husband dear.

Since I was on a no travel, no do anything holiday, I thought I would have enough time to cook and blog every single day. And since I was visiting the US I thought I would have access to all ingredients that I don't usually use here in India. But somehow did not feel like doing even that and did not do anything. I just lazed and watched television. Shopped a bit. So all my grand plans for blogging everyday just fell by the wayside. But thats ok. I don't feel guilty at all.

There was only one recipe I just had to try out. This was a an easy peasy recipe for a chocolate eclair cake which I had seen many years ago and have been dying to try out.

It turned out quite yummy and all that it promised to be - comfort of the custard, the decadent taste of chocolate and the crunchiness of the biscuits in between. To top it all it was the easiest thing to make with it taking only about 15 minutes to assemble. My little niece enjoyed it so much. Now as it is such as easy recipe which does not call for any cooking at all, she has promised to try making it herself. Let's see how it pans out.

Though the ingredients call for instant vanilla pudding , making batch of custard works just as well. Instead of the frozen whipped topping you can substitute 200 ml of fresh whipped cream and instead of graham crackers, our marie biscuits works well.


10 Graham crackers ( Marie biscuits work just as well)

1 packet Instant vanilla pudding. ( Vanilla flavored custard powder - 2 tablespoons)

1 1/2 cups cold milk

200 ml fresh whipped cream or 8 ounces of frozen whipped topping

3 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder

100 grams butter

1/3 cup milk

1 cup sugar


Make custard using the milk. Stir in whipped cream into cold custard till well blended. ( If using fresh cream, take care that you do not over beat the cream. It will result in splitting it. Whip it till it holds its shape.)

In a sauce pan combine the last four ingredients. Cook over low flame till the butter melts and sugar dissolves.

Cool it down and it will gradually thicken.

Now for the assembly.

Line a pudding bowl with the graham crackers. Pour half the cold custard mixture over it. Line with another layer of graham crackers. Pour more pudding mix over it.

Top with a final layer of graham crackers.

Pour thick chocolate topping on top.


It tastes best after a minimum of 12 hours in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Ultimate Cookie - Chocolate Chip Cookie

My husband loves teasing the kids. Now that is a father's prerogative, wouldn't you say? Each time we have cookies on the table, he says "hey kids pass the biscuits, please". They hate it. They have a clear distinction between a cookie and a biscuit and just don't like the words interchanged. In India all small baked goodies are called biscuits. I think it just depends on which part of the world you are from. Cookies if you are from the US and biscuits from most of the other countries. When I asked my kids what the difference between a biscuit and a cookie was, one said biscuits are freely available everywhere whereas cookies are more special things. The other said the textures were different. I guess basically when we say biscuits, we refer to the ready made molded bits of dough baked in mass quantities whereas cookies would refer to non molded variety.

Whatever the definition, in my opinion cookies are little bits of deliciousness which go perfectly with milk or coffee. It provides just that right amount of sugar and butter to give you a lift without overloading on the calories (as long as you stick to one or two at the most).

The Chocolate chip cookie just has to be the one cookie that is loved by everyone. It is the ultimate in taste and cannot be surpassed. I should know. I come from a family of chocoholics. They are true connoisseurs of the chocolate taste. If I have to be really honest here, thats not true. They just love chocolate in any form. In absence of any other chocolate to eat, they don't mind eating even just plain drinking chocolate out of the box or even plain cooking chocolate. My little one especially can get quite desperate if he does not get his daily chocolate fix.

Here is one recipe which never fails to please him or the rest of the family. In fact I have it on best authority that these cookies are the best in the world. My two little nieces who visit from the US, who say, "Kamini Athai, these cookies are yummy. They are better than those we get back home." I can get them to do anything with a bribe of these cookies. Well thats the way the cookie crumbles....(I just could not resist slipping that in.)

Now for the recipe...

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (200 grams approx)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).

Mix flour, baking soda and salt and keep it aside.

In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla.

Mix in the dry ingredients until well blended.

Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Roll the dough into 2 inch balls and place them 3 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 20 to 23 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dondakai Ulli Kharam - Andhra Food Series and Juggling Life

As usual, I am running somewhere else and have to be in another place too while I am desperately trying to update my blog and put in a new post. I always wonder if it such a struggle for everyone. Trying to juggle so many balls and keep them all up in the air at one time. I guess this is something all working women face. Every time I discuss this with my girlfriends, we come to the conclusion that it is because we are middle aged ( much as I hate saying the dreaded words "middle age", the expression just has to be used now). I think this age brings with it many additional responsibilities. Parents are getting older, kids are reaching adolescence and needless to say, are acting up, we ourselves are going through many changes and don't have the energy to cope like earlier. And to add to it, when you are working, the work-life balance gets totally unbalanced.
But anyway, despite feeling really overwhelmed sometimes, I still find time for my blog, for my friends, so life is all good after all. I guess, accepting life as it comes and keeping all those balls juggling high up there and finally everything just works out and falls into place...

Enough of serious talk. (I find my blog is getting pretty serious in the last few posts and that will soon change, I promise.)

Now for the Dondakai Ulli Kharam...

Dondakai is AKA Tindli, Tindora, Kovakai, Ivy Gourd
It is a very commonly used vegetable in Andhra. I find it a vegetable which either excites someone or induces a feeling of absolute disgust in some folk. My husband is one who will not touch it. Not even a teeny weeny bit to taste. On the other hand I simply love it. The taste of eating this along with hot rice, ghee and mudda pappu is simply awesome. It is simple enough to make and is not at all time consuming. The original method of cooking calls for everything to be fried in sufficient quantities of oil, but now for reasons of health, I steam the Dondakai and then fry it for a bit in the oil. This cuts down the oil consumption by more than a thrid and the decrease in taste is fully justified by the health aspect.

Now for the recipe

1/2 kg Dondakai cut lengthwise into quarters
2 onions
4 red chillies
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
5 curry leaves
2 tablespoons Oil

Steam the cut dondakai along with salt.

Grind together the onions and red chillies till it is a coarse paste.

Heat oil and fry the mustard seeds till they crackle and then add the curry leaves. Now add the steamed dondakai and onion paste and keep frying on medium heat till it turns brown.

A little more salt may need to be added.

Serve hot along with hot rice, ghee and mudda pappu ( boiled toor dal- staple of all the Andhra people). Delicious.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Kanda Bachali - Andhra Food Series

This is an ongoing series that I am attempting to do. Put all the recipes on Andhra food ( at least all the ones I know and also the ones I would like to learn) in one place. I think a food blog should be a store house of all your favourite recipes and those of your family in addition to expressing personal views and being your personal space on the World Wide Web.

Writing is a hard thing to do. The creative juices do not always flow readily from either the brain or the fingers. I sit in front of the keyboard hoping that magically the words will simply flow out. But I guess perseverence is the key. Keep at it and it will happen. This is one of those occasions that I have everything ready - the recipe, the photo but no write up.What do I do now? Head straight into the recipe or make a pretence of writing a bit more? I think not. I shall put you out of your misery and move straight on to Kanda Bachali for now and let the creative juices flow for the next post.

Kanda Bachali is a very typical Andhra preparation. Kanda ( in Telugu) is Yam aka Sena Kazhangu in Tamil ( I hope I am right with the spelling) and Suran in Hindi.

Bachali is a type of spinach with thick leaves. It is also known as Basella in English and Basalai Keerai in Tamil. There are two types of leaves. One with small round shiny leaves and purple berries. The other is a little longer leaves. I am not too sure of the different varieties of this particular spinach or their names.

Image from

The taste of Kanda Bachali is a very acquired one. It has a little bit of a bitter taste from the mustard paste and a little tang from the tamarind. The chillis give the right amount of spice to the dish.

Now for the recipe..

1/2 kilo Yam peeled, diced and boiled with a little salt.
2 cups Bachali washed well and chopped finely
2 table spoons Tamarind juice
1 teaspoon Mustard
2 Red Chillies
1/4 tea spoon Hing ( Asafoetida)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon Chana dal
1 teaspoon Urad dal
3 tablespoons Oil
2 Green Chillies chopped finely
1 tablespoon Curry Leaves
Handful Coriander Leaves
1 inch piece Ginger chopped finely
Grind the mustard, hing, red chillies, salt and turmeric into a fine paste.
Heat the oil. Add the chana dal and urad dal and fry till browned.
Add the green chillies, curry leaves, ginger, and the spinach. Fry for 10 minutes.
Add the boiled yam and tamarind juice. Leave for 10 minutes on low flame. After removing fom fire add the mustard paste and coriander leaves.
Serve hot with rice and melted ghee.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yippee!! Finally An Award and Tinda Masala

Hey, Finally got my very first blogging award. It was so exciting and even more so because it came from someone I had not met till then in the "blogosphere". It just goes to show there are real people out there reading my blog and it is simply a wonderful feeling. When I saw a message in my inbox from Rashmi, I thought it was just another comment. Just another comment???? No way. As she put it so sweetly, there was a small something ( a token of appreciation, she said) for me in her blog. I still did not think it was an award. Gently tiptoed my way into her really excellent blog and was so pleasantly surprised. I cannot tell you how excited I got. You must know the feeling. It has been a while ( a really long, long while ago) since I have been at school and the feeling is akin to winning a race on Sports day when you thought you would come in last. It really made my day. Many of you are really active in the blogging word and have got many many awards. The sidebar with all the awards usually is longer than the main blog ( Oh yes, I have noticed and to be really honest I have been pretty green with envy). But this one from Rashmi was so unexpected, it made up for all those times of envy.

Now as usual, everything in life comes with strings attached. So does my award. The "rules" of this award started by Roopa are that we must a) name four of my favourite desserts and b) pass this award to four other bloggers whose blogs I find Yummy.

As for a) it is not going to be hard thing because desserts are my absolute favorite food course. I am extremely partial to Indian sweets. I think what most people find is that Indian sweets are too sweet but I think thats what does it for me. That excessive sweet taste that sends me straight into a high. but part b) thats going to be hard. Choosing just four blogs among all the wonderful ones out there.... that is indeed a hard task. Let me try anyway.

Favorite desserts:
1) Kulfi ( I crave for this at all times, every single day)
2) Kulfi ( Now you know how much I love it that it features as number 1 and number 2 on my list.
3) Jalebis ( Hot little delicious swirlies that add inches to the waistline within minutes)
4) Rasagullas ( Simple and absoluely the best. Chewier the better)

Now for the four bloggers whose blogs I find "Yummy"

1) Coffee's The Spice Cafe

4) Sailu's Sailusfood

They have featured at many a meal at our dining table and have all added a lot of variety to the food at home. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading their blogs, drooled over their wonderful pictures and honestly do find their blogs truly "Yummy". May their blogs live long!!!!!

Now for the Tinda Masala Recipe...

First about Tindas:

The tinda, also called Indian round gourd or apple gourd or Indian Baby Pumpkin, is a squash cucurbit grown for its immature fruit , a vegetable especially popular in south Asia.
The plant is, as with all cucurbits, a prolific vine, and is grown as an annual. The fruit is approximately spherical, and 5–8 cm in diameter. The seeds may also be roasted and eaten.
This unique squash-like gourd is native to India, very popular in Indian and Pakistani cooking with curry and many gourmet dishes. Green colored, apple sized fruits are flattish round in shape and 50-60 grams in weight. Plants are vigorous, productive and begin to bear fruits in 70 days after planting.
Can be confused with Tendli or Kundru due to similar sounding name from different language / region. Tinda in Punjabi or most North Indian Languages is "Indian Baby Pumpkin".

Source : Wikipedia


1/2 kilo Tinda peeled , deseeded and chopped into 1 inch bits
2 Onions chopped finely
2 Tomatoes diced finely
1 tablespoon ginger garlic and green chilli paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon jeera powder (Cumin)
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon amchoor powder ( dried mango powder)
salt to taste
1 tablespoon Oil
1 teaspoon Jeera (Cumin)
1 teaspoon coriander leaves for the garnish
Heat Oil. When medium hot, add jeera and fry till it sizzles and turns golden.
Add the onions and fry till translucent. Now add the ginger garlic green chilli paste and fry till it starts turning brownish.
Add all the dry powders including salt and fry for a couple of minutes. When well mixed, add the tomatoes and cook the whole thing till it turns mushy.
Add the tinda and cover and cook till tindas are totally done.
Garnish with the coriander.
Serve hot with chapatis, phulkas or rice.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Helping Hands and Andhra Food Series : Dosakai Pachadi

We have been going through a harrowing time lately as we had a personal problem and as a result of which, we had to spend a large amount of time in Rajamundry ( a small town in Andhra Pradesh). Now, tho Rajamundry is supposed to be officially home to my dad's side of the family, we have never stayed there for any length of time. My only recollection of the place was short day visits to see family. This time round, however, we had to be there for nearly 3 weeks. It was a visit fraught with tension and worry. But you know the saying, an angel is always around when you need one. There was this family who extended such a helping hand, opened up their house and hearts to us. They were so hospitable and they made it appear that nothing was trouble for them. They were there when we needed them the most. To top it all, we had not met them earlier and this was the first time we were meeting all of them. Even so, we never ever felt like they were strangers. They made us immediately feel like one of the family. I just do not have the right words to thank them and don't think I ever will. Words cannot really express the deep sense of gratitude that I have inside me. It was wonderful to see how people can just step up to lend a helping hand and this has made me more determined than ever that I will always extend a hand when I can in for people in their time of need. Most people do not vocalise what they really want for fear of looking like they are trying to bum off you or that they are encroaching on your personal space. When someone extends a hand like this without even a question asked, it makes such a difference. All I can say is a big "Thank You" from the bottom of my heart.

Now that the serious stuff has been said, the icing on the cake was the food in their house. The taste of the food in their home was quite something else. They had their own cows, so the taste of the milk, ghee and the curd.. oh, the curd was something else altogether. Fully loaded with a layer of thick cream on top.. yummy. And the vegetables, the dals, the pachadis that R made tasted really divine. With all the worries I had, one would have thought I would lose weight but oh no, not me. I was happily tucking in at each meal and never did I once worry about mundane things like weight.
In the memory of all those lovely meals that we ate at her home, I am going to be doing a series of posts on typical Andhra food. She has promised to give me a few recipes and I am definitely going to hold her to her promise and will post them here in turn.

One of the most popular food courses in Telugu food has to be Pachadi ( this is comparable to the thovaigals that the Tamilians eat). Every meal has one pachadi at least which is mixed with hot rice and ghee and relished. I have already posted Usirikai Pachadi earlier but this time round I found nice dosakais in the vegetable shop and promptly decided to make Dosakai Pachadi which is an Andhra favourite. It is a little tangy and has a nice bittery/pungent taste from the mustard seed paste.

Now for the ingredients...

I medium size Dosakai diced into small bits
2 Red chillies
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 pinch Hing ( asafoetida)
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 small lemon sized ball of tamarind soaked in a 2 tablespoons of water
a lemon sized bit of jaggery
1 green chilli
1 tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves
salt to taste
1 teaspoon oil

Heat oil. Add mustard seeds and the red chillies.
Grind to a coarse paste along with the turmeric, hing, salt, jaggery, tamarind, green chilli and coriander leaves.
Add the dosakai and just pulse once or twice.
Serve with hot rice and ghee...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Joys of Grocery Shopping and Layered Biryani

Let me take a poll out here. How many of you enjoy, really enjoy your grocery shopping? Please do let me know because I would like to know if I am in the minority out here.

If there is one thing I really enjoy, I think it has to be grocery shopping. I get such immense pleasure in picking out the perfect fruit and vegetables. I drool at the sight of the piles and piles of fresh, glistening with goodness, produce. Can you imagine, I have the patience to pick out Ladies Finger ( should that be fingers? as I pick so many of them) one by one and I need little over 2 kilos each time to feed my large family who have a real weakness for the veggie. Anyway, I think foodie that I am, I can take any amount of time and it is never a pain for me to go veggie shopping. I pick each one up lovingly, take in its delectable aroma, happily contemplating what it will end up as.... It is just so satisfying.

Anyway now on to the Layered Biryani...

I have been in a culinary rut the last couple of months and have been sticking to "same ole same ole" ( my kids words, not mine). We are in that " Mom, dont we know any other type of vegetables to make for dinner?" refrain.

Anyway, thought why not make layered biryani. Always sounds so good and this was particularly easy to make (the final product looked like I had slaved over the stove though, which was a wonderful thing)


3 large onions, sliced finely and deep fried till golden brown.
2 teacups of mixed vegetables diced into big pieces ( you can use cauliflower, carrots, beans, potatoes, peas etc).
4 green chillis
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
2 teaspoons ginger/garlic paste
30 grams of Biryani masala powder
1 teacup curd

3 cups basmati rice
salt to taste
2 cloves, cardamom each
1 inch piece cinnamon
1 teaspoon jeera ( Cumin seeds)
2 bay leaves

3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons Ghee

few strands saffron soaked in 3 tablespoons of hot water


Heat oil. Add chopped vegetables, 2/3 of the fried onions, chopped coriander leaves, chopped mint leaves, curd, biryani masala and salt to taste. Can add 1/4 cup water if required.

Cook well till the oil comes out on the sides and the vegetables are 80 % done but still have a crunch in them.

Simultaneously, heat the ghee in another pan. Add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, jeera and the bay leaves. Add the basmati rice, fry for a couple of minutes and then add 5 cups of hot water and salt to taste.

Cook till 80 % done. Drain extra water if there is.

Layer the vegetable mixture in the serving dish. Top with the rice. Sprinkle the saffron water over the rice to add a little colour. Sprinkle the remaining fried onions on top along with 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander.

Cover and bake in the oven for about 15 minute. This will result in the grains of rice getting cooked completely yet remaining separate.

Serve hot with raita of choice.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

My first holiday abroad was to the US. It was a trip that I will always remember for many reasons. I tried out so many different types of cuisines each day. Those days, the restaurant scene in India had not quite exploded the way it has today. Today, even in a small town or in the conservative deep down south, you will find pastas and other international cuisines. There was not so much exposure to different tastes back then. I had it better than most because my job was in a hotel where we had the opportunity to try out various cuisines.
So one of the requests I had of my brother was that everyday we try out something new. He was quite obliging and so if one day we had Italian food then the next it would be Carribean food. The next two meals would be Mexican and Mediterranean. It really was an explosion of flavors on the tastebuds and a fantastic experience.

But one memory that I carry back to this day has to be eating cinnamon rolls at the mall. Cinnabon was always a stop when we were at the mall. The aroma wafting out of there was amazing. Always bought a extra few rolls to eat at home the next day. Since then every holiday has included eating these rolls (and putting on a few kilos just eating.)

Then last year, I made a serendipitous discovery that Cinnabon had an outlet at the Dubai Airport. That promptly meant my poor husband, on EACH and EVERY visit had to lug these large boxes back for us to eat. Dozens of rolls in each of them. Imagine his plight. But he was always so sporting about it.

Finally decided, I just had to make them for myself. This recipe has been in my book from the early days of my browsing the net for recipes. I got this one from . Just as usual, never got around to it making it. I finally said to myself, the time is now and made sure I made it immediately. Fortunately, I had all the ingredients required at hand.

It came out very well and the kids simply loved it.

Now for the recipe....


For the rolls:

1 cup warm milk (45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons active instant yeast

For the filling:

1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

For the Icing:
75 grams cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix the active instant yeast through the flour. Then add the other ingredients for the rolls. Knead well till it forms a smooth ball. Cover with a plastic sheet and leave aside till it doubles in size.

After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. (Hint: Tightly close the bottom of the rolls to prevent the filling from running out). Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Chennai Bloggers Meet and Aloo Tikki

Today was quite an exciting day, one that I was looking forward to for a while. I have been off blogging for a few months now due to various personal reasons and despite having many commitments, I was simply determined to go and meet everyone. I have to put on record here that I bravely drove many miles to make it there as I was I think the only one from the other side of town.

We had such a blast all trying to guess who the others were (Confession- I had not done my homework well and was struggling a little bit in this department) but all in all it was great catching up with everyone. It ended up being a warm gathering of friends, rather than strangers meeting for the first time. Internet anonymity is all very well but there is definitely something to be said about old fashioned "in person" meeting

Now the all important topic of food. It was so yummy and I think everyone quite lived up to why they were blogging about food. Each dish on the table tasted sumptuous with mouth watering dishes. I needed to immediately take a 5 mile walk to burn off all the extra calories I must have put on eating all that. Fortunately I am off sweets, so that was one less sin I had to worry about. I made Aloo Tikkis as a starter as the food was going to be predominantly Indian.

Now for the Aloo Tikkis. They are one of the simplest yet scores very high on the satisfaction scale.

For about 20 tikkis you will need the following ingredients:

1 Kg Potatoes ( boiled, peeled and mashed)
2 tbsp Coriander leaves
4 green chillis chopped up really fine
2 slices bread
1 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 & 1/2 tsp amchur powder ( dry mango powder)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1/4 cup Maida ( all purpose flour) mixed in 1/4 cup water to make a coating paste
Bread crumbs
Oil to deep fry.


Boil, peel and mash the potatoes.

Crumble the bread slices and mix it in as well along with the coriander leaves and green chillis.

Add the dry powders to this.

Shape into tikkis and dip into the coating batter then place in a plate which contains the bread crumbs to liberally coat it.

Deep fry and serve hot along with green chtuney/sweet tamarind chutney/tomato ketchup.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Our Newest Family Member

I would like to introduce you all to the newest member of our family - Smokey...

This pintsize is a handful of trouble and keeps us all on our toes. The whole house's routine now revolves around her - feeding and taking her out.

But she is just so adorable.... Don't you agree?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Maangai Saadam - Mango season is fast approaching

At the risk of giving out a hint of how old I am, I have to say that back in the day, everything but everything was seasonal. When it was oranges time, then the market would get flooded with oranges. And just as suddenly, it would go off the market and one had to wait a whole year for oranges to reappear. Ditto with grapes and sapotas and water melons and many other types of fruit. But now things have changed so much. What with globalisation, it is season for the fruit you like in some part of the world or the other. Therefore you get unseasonal oranges and grapes round the year.

Somehow mangoes always managed to keep their exclusivity. There will be mangoes in the market come May and not a day before that. Thank goodness that has not changed. But even so I have to say, raw mangoes are available throughout the year nowadays. This is definitely a new thing. Anyway it is a good thing. We have the opportunity to make wonderful dishes with raw mangoes through the year but still enjoy the anticipation of waiting for THE season.

Seeing mangoes in the market, I decided to make Maangai Saadam. It is very similar to Pulihara (Puliyodarai) and just as tasty, the only difference being that the tang in Pulihara comes from tamarind and here it comes from tart mangoes.

Now for the recipe...

2 cups raw rice

2 large raw mangoes grated

2 tablespoons roasted peanuts

2 tablespoons ghee

salt to taste


1/2 cup grated raw mango

1 tablespoon roasted peanuts

1/4 cup grated coconut

4 red chillies

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder


1.2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon Jeera

1/2 teaspoon hing ( asafoetida)

8-10 curry leaves

3 tablespoons Oil

Cook the rice in4 1/2 cups of water. ( Ensure each grain is separate)

Make a smooth paste with paste ingredients.

Heat oil and add mustard. Fry till it crackles. Add the remaining tadka ingredients.

Add peanuts and fry for a few minutes till peanuts turn golden brown.

Add the paste and stir well till it becomes a little thick.

Add the rest of the mango, ghee and salt and cook till raw mango smell disappears.

Add the rice and mix well.

Serve hot along with vadams or papadams.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

HEAVEN IN A GLASS- A Very Last Minute Entry To CLICK

I know I know... I just hope I have enough time to get this through to B&J. My computer has been really troubling me and my half baked knowledge is not really helping.

So I am quickly sending off this to their photography event CLICK: LIQUID COMFORT. There is no time to waste at all...

Water is a real saviour and the only drink we need in the hot summer months that we face here in Chennai. And water with a slice of lemon and lots of ice cubes clinking in the glass? HEAVEN IN A GLASS!!! Don't you agree?

Now I have to make sure I email this off to Click pronto....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Aloo Sabji With The Most Awesome Parathas

All of last week, I was away at Bangalore on work. It was a wonderful break and I enjoyed myself. Its been a while since I had been anywhere and this was most welcome.
There we were put up at this service apartment. Basic place and basic amenities but the food was superb. There were two Nepali boys working there, and they would churn out this amzing food. Unforunately, my meals were restricted to breakfast and one dinner but what to do.... As I reached the apartment, I asked him for parathas for breakfast everyday. So the first day was this amazing aloo parathas with thick and delicious curd and pickles and on the second day, he brought forth gobi parathas. On the third day, I did not want to push, so I left him to decide what he would make. Only one instruction - no South Indian breakfast. He made these amzing awesome, superb flaky parathas along with Aloo Sabji. It was so so nice. I had to immediately take pictures and thought it will be perfect for the blog. Got him to give me the recipe. In fact I made it for dinner the moment I got home but no camera to take pictures. So I am posting the pictures here taken of the food made by Tinku along with his picture too.

The Aloo Sabji recipe is posted here and the Flaky parathas recipe here.

4 potatoes boiled and diced finely
4 tomatoes chopped really finely
2 inch piece ginger finely chopped
2 tablespoons Oil

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
salt to taste
3 tablespoons kasooti methi
3 tablespoons curd

Heat oil in a kadai.
Add the tomoates and ginger. Cook till it gets totally mushy and and the oil comes out.
Add the dry powders like coriander powder, turmeric powder, chilli powder and garam masala powder. Cook for a few more minutes.

Add the potatoes and fry for a few minutes. Add the curd, the kasooti methi and 1 glass water and cook till potato gets nice and cooked and infused with all the flavors of tomato and kasooti methi.
It needs to have a very watery gravy.

Serve hot with Flaky Parathas(Recipe here).

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Poondu Kozhambu

When I first moved to Chennai, there were a lot of new cuisines we tried out. My husband and I love eating out and we would do a lot of it then ( particularly as he was a carnivore then). We once went out on a busy Saturday night with friends without a reservation. Not a table to be had anywhere. After trying about 4 or 5 places, someone suggested that we try a Chettinad restaurant. Not having ever tried that particular cuisine, and having heard that it is predominantly non-vegetarian I was a little nervous going in. But no choice by then, so we bravely marched in for my first taste of Chettinad food.

Well, I have to be honest here and own up that I was very boring and ordered just appams. Someone else ordered a bunch of things one of which was Poondu Kozhumbu. When it came to the table and was served to me, I cannot even begin to describe the aromas wafting out of it. It just looked so delicious and with browned garlic peeking out of this spicy tangy gravy. Then with the first mouthful, this bunch of incredible tastes just burst on my tongue and tickled my tastebuds. It was " HOT ". "Spicy HOT". But still left me craving for more. Amazing is the only word I can use to describe the memory of eating that. I am very partial to garlic but that was only icing on the cake.

Everytime I wanted to eat this, I would send someone out for it to buy it at the restaurant. Then I saw this months Think Spice hosted by Sunita was focusing on garlic. Immediately said " why not try out Poondu Kozhumbu?" I like the dish and want to eat it often, so why not learn it. Right?

Googled the title and got bunch of recipes. But I knew what I wanted out of it. So chopped and changed and combined and deleted and came up with this recipe. It turned out great ( even if I have to say so myself).

Now for the recipe...

1 cup Garlic cloves peeled
2 medium sized onions diced finely
2 tomatos diced finely
10 curry leaves
Lemon sized ball of tamarind soaked in 1 cup hot water

1/2 teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
1/4 teaspoon hing powder ( asafoetida)
1/2 teaspoon jaggery
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal
3-4 tablespoons Oil to fry

Paste ingredients:

2 tablespoons Coriander seeds ( dhania)
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds ( jeera)
1 teaspoon poppy seeds ( Khuskhus)
1/2 teaspoon peppercorn
4 red chillies
2 inch piece ginger
1 teaspoon oil.

Heat 1 teapoon of oil. Lightly fry the garlic till light brown. Keep aside

Extract the tamarind juice from the soaked tamarind discarding the seeds and the skin of the tamarind.

Heat another teaspoon of oil in the same kadai and lightly fry the paste ingredients. Then grind to a smooth paste using about 2 tablespoons of water.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and urad dal. Fry till they crackle.
Then add the chopped onions and fry well till translucent.
Add tomatos and cook the whole thing till very mushy.
Ad chilli powder, haldi, hing and mix well for a few minutes.
Add the paste and cook really well.
Now add the tamarind juice along with half cup of water and cook till the oil separates.

Add the fried garlic and serve hot as an accompaniment to a meal.

This is my entry for Think Spice Think Garlic hosted by Sunita of Sunitas World

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Olan - RCI Kerala

My mother in law has a friend 'I' who is the most awesome cook ever. She makes the most amazing but ultimately the simplest of foods ever. As they say around here, " it is in the hand". She keeps sending me these delicious little dabbas of simple home cooked food. Her rasams are to die for. Whenever she makes something she thinks I will like, she sends it across and what do you know? I love it.
Now she has promised that she will teach me how to make all those delicious varieties of rasams. That is something I am looking forward to and something I am most definitely going to hold her to.

I have tried out many of her recipes and each one has been simple to the core. Here I have to say, in my opinion, the fewer the ingredients and more simple the method of cooking, the flavor of the dish increases exponentially. I think the reason for this is that the flavor of the main ingredient in the dish really comes to the fore.

The other day for lunch I had the chance to taste something new that she sent me. I have had Kerala food earlier on many occasions, but this was something quite different. Familiar but different. When I asked her what she had made, she said Olan. That was a first for me. I had heard of
stew, avial etc but Olan was a new term. Tasted very nice. The flavor of the vegetables came out very well along with the taste of coconut milk. There was no other flavor or taste over powering this.

So immediately asked aunty for the recipe. Even I could not believe how simple and easy it was. Minimal ingredients, minimal flavorings, minimal work...

Now for the Olan

200 grams White Pumpkin ( Ash gourd)
200 grams Yellow Pumpkin
2 green chillies slit lenghtwise
salt to taste
1 cup water
3 tablespoons coconut milk powder mixed into 1/2 cup hot water
1 teaspoon coconut oil
6 curry leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds.

Dice the white and yellow pumpkin into small bits.
Boil with water, salt and green chillies till almost fully done. ( You may want to boil the white pumpkin first for a few minutes and then add the yellow pumpkin as yellow pumpkin tends to cook very fast).
When done add the coconut milk into pumpkin.
Heat oil and fry the mustard seeds and curry leaves till they crackle.
Pour over the pumpkin and Olan is ready.

I was so excited when I saw RCI Kerala being hosted by Jyothsna of Currybazaar.
So here goes Olan as my entry for RCI Kerala.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gujarati Meal : Part 3 - Khichdi

This the last one in this meal series. I did mention in my previous post that Khichdi was coming along next. Khichdi Kadhi is the ultimate combination. It is so comforting. Khichdi is a combination of rice and lentils usually moong dal. It has various names all over India but in the South it is called Pongal. Khichdi is a bland dish which is served to convalescents as it is considered easy on the stomach. It is also served to babies as their first meal.

This particular recipe of Khichdi is made with both whole moong dal and skinned dal.

It was fabulous and tasted really good and the combination with Kadhi and Sambhaaryu Shaak was out of this world. ( You can see I have a real weakness for Gujju food)

I got the recipe for this Khichdi from Monsoon Spice who has an awesome blog going.


1 1/2 cups Rice
1/2 cup Whole Moong Dal/Green Gram
1/4 cup Split Moong Dal
1 large Onion, sliced
2-3 Green Chillies, split
1 inch Ginger, crushed and finely chopped
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
Few Curry Leaves
3 Cardamoms, crushed
2 Cloves
1/2 tsp Black Pepper Powder (Optional)
2 tbsp Oil/Ghee
3 tbsp Coriander Leaves, chopped finely
Salt to taste


Soak the whole green moong dal for a few hours till fully soaked
Wash rice and skinned moong dal for a few minutes.
Chop onions and coriander leaves and ginger finely.
Slit green chillies in center.
Lightly crush the cardamom and clove in pestle and mortar.
Heat oil/ghee in pressure cooker.
Add mustard, jeera and curry leaves and sauté.When mustard starts to pop, usually with in 30-40 seconds, add finely chopped onion, ginger and green chilli and sauté it for 1 to 1½ minutes.
Now add the crushed spices and sauté it for another minute or so till onions turn translucent.
Drain water from rice and dal and add to sautéed onion and spices.To this add turmeric powder, salt to taste and about 6 to 6 ½ cups of water and mix well(add more water if you like it more mushy and soft).Close the pressure cooker lid and put its weight on and reduce the gas flame to medium. (Alternatively, you can fry the whole thing in a kadai and then transfer to a rice cooker to cook)
Open pressure cooker lid when it is done and add fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with Raita or with Kadhi.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Gujarati Meal: Part 2 - Kadhi

If you ask me what my favorite meal ever in life is, I will have to say Kadhi with Khichadi ( now you know for sure what Part 3 is going to be). It is the simplest, yet tastiest food I can think of. It is very easy on the tummy and therefore highly recommended for convalescents. It is the best get well soon food in India found in all parts of the country in different avatars.

The same basic foods are found in all parts of India but with just a slight tweak in the ingredients, the whole appearance and taste changes completely. Like the More Kozhumbu in Tamil Nadu, Majjiga Pulusu in Andhra Pradesh, becomes Pakoda Kadhi in Punjab and Kadhi in Gujarat.

As a continuation of my Gujarati Meal, I made Kadhi, the recipe for which I got from Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes. This was again a perfect recipe which took all of 10 to 15 minutes to make. It was perfect and exactly what Gujarati Kadhi should be. I am drooling sitting here just thinking about how perfect the Kadhi was. I loved the fact that it was so so simple and easy to make. No grinding, no fuss whatsoever. Just simple food that tastes great.


2 cups sour and thick buttermilk (or yogurt/curd)

1 1/2 tablespoons besan (gram flour)

1 teaspoon chili-ginger paste

3-4 curry leaves

1 tablespoon sugar

2-3 stalks coriander leaves

1/2 teaspoon Jeera ( cumin seeds)

1/4 teaspoon Methi ( fenugreek seeds)

A pinch asafoetida

1 tablespoon ghee



Make a mixture of buttermilk and besan and whisk well till no lumps remain.

Heat Ghee, add cumin seeds, fenugreek and asafoetida.

Now add the buttermilk mixture and mix well.

Add the curry leaves, salt, coriander leaves, chilly-ginger paste and sugar.

Bring it to a boil (Note that curry leaves are not added in ghee, they are added later on.)

Thanks again Shilpa for a perfect recipe.

Gujarati Meal: Part 1 - Sambhaaryu Shaak

One of my other resolutions for my blog for 2008 which I forgot to mention in the look back on 2007 was that I was going to make plenty from the other blogs and more importtantly, POST about it.

Lat week I decided to make it a Gujarati day. That is one cuisine that we all enjoy at home. But just try saying "Let's eat out today, I feel like eating Gujju food today" and see the look of horror on the husbands face. He thinks that we want to eat out all the time. But as I have said time and again, the kids want to eat out a lot of the time. So I decided that a compromise was in order. On the spur of the moment said "ok, today is gujju lunch day at home".

I had earmarked many recipes to try out. Quickly fished them all out. This was one of the easiest meals to prepare. Did not take much time and was relatively simple in terms of ingredients and ease of preparation.

This is one recipe I saw on Coffee's blog here and had promised to try out. It looked very interesting.

Sambhaaryu Shaak tasted as good as it looked on her blog. The only mistake I made was I let it cook for a bit longer than it should have and the end product did not look quite like it should have. It got too brown instead of the beautiful red and very dry instead of the nice gravy that was on her picture. Next time, I will make sure that I watch it all the time and get it to the right shade of yumminess.

But this is a definite make again recipe. It was simply fabulous. Next time I will also try it out with baby eggplant and onions and potatoes all together. I am sure it will be delish.

Here I have to only point out one thing. The only painful thing is the stuffing. So this is recommended only for a smaller quantity and not for a large dinner party unless you have help.

Thanks Coffee for a great, easy to make recipe.
UPDATE: I am cutting and pasting her recipe as she has posted it.
3-4 potatoes peeled ( or baby eggplant or onions)
1 big tomato finely chopped
2-3 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
For the Sambharo:

3-4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp garam masala
4-5 tsp dhanya-jeera/ coriander-cumin powder (about 50% of your sambharo should be made up of this)
1-2 tsp besanJuice of one lemon2-3 tsp sugar (Gujju food is generally on the sweeter side!! If you don’t prefer it then you can omit the sugar and lemon completely.)
A handful of chopped coriander.

To make the Sambharo:

Peel and pound the garlic in a mortar-pestle. You can even grate it in the absence of M/P or use garlic paste, but somehow I have always felt that pounding does make a difference to it.Now add all the other spices to it and mix well. In the end I would pound it again with the pestle for 1-2 min so that the spices blend in perfectly!
To prepare:
Slit the potatoes on both slides, with slits being perpendicular to each other. I would not recommend making a criss cross on the same side as the veggies will often split open while cooking and you wont be able to enjoy it as a whole with spices stuffed in it. Gently open the slits and stuff them with the spices, you can take help of the spoon handle to help you push it till the end. You should have about a cup of sambharo remaining after you stuff all the veggies. You can cook this in a kadai or in pressure cooker, the latter being the faster version. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil, pop the mustard seeds and brown the jeera. Add in the tomatoes and let them soften for about 2 min. Keep about 2 tsp of sambharo and add the rest of it in the tomatoes. Mix it well and let it sizzle for a while mixing in between so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Once it starts releasing a bit of oil, add in the stuffed potatoes, a glass of water and cook for about 3 whistles (will depend on the size of veggies). Once the pressure is released add in the remaining 2 tsp sambharo and give it a good boil. Serve with chapatti or rice.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year !!!!