Monday, December 28, 2009

Apple Crumble and New Year Resolutions

It is that time of the year. New Year is fast coming up upon us. It is time to do something that is now almost mandatory. Make the all important New Year Resolutions.
I make resolutions almost every year, but I am not sure why I do that. I don't think I've ever kept one for a whole month, let alone the entire year. In my opinion, it is impossible to do anything that radical for such a long time time, but I do it anyway. I think it is an annual process of just wanting to turn over a new leaf. Anyway, studies have proven the fact that all New Year Resolutions are doomed for failure. And that they are a near pointless exercise. Now is that supposed to make me feel better? That it is ok for me to be a failure? Or that it is better not to make resolutions at all.

In any case, I've got a few resolutions that I am going to definitely going to TRY to stick to this year, so let us see how it all works out and you, my dear readers are welcome to check back with me anytime during the year on my progress.

Here are some of my New Year Resolutions Version 2.010.

1) Lose weight. This is one resolution that shows up year after year but with no results. I have no answers for this one. I try and try but....

2) Give up sweets for one year. Honestly I will try. Oh that sounds too hard. Maybe eat sweets just once a month? Maybe once a week?? Let's see. No promises on keeping that resolution going through the year.

3)I will spend less than two hours on the internet each day. But that will not count when I am working on my blog or doing my "work".

4) I will definitely stop procrastinating. This simply has to be one my worst faults.

5) Most importantly, post at least once a week on The Bubbling Cauldron. No frivolous excuses any more.

6) STICK TO MY NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS. That is another new year resolution.

I think that's it for now. More, as and when I think of new resolutions to break.

Anyway, here is more on Apple crumble. This is one of the easiest desserts to make. Very easy to assemble and perfect for this weather when there is a nip in the air. Served with either vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream, it makes for a very comforting end to a meal.


4 Apples peeled, cored and diced into small bits.
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons brown/ demerara sugar

200 grams all purpose flour
100 grams butter, frozen cold
75 grams white sugar


Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.

Mix the diced apple, cinnamon powder, flour and sugar till the apples are well coated. Put into a baking dish.

To make the topping, sift the flour into a bowl along with the sugar. Cut the frozen butter using a knife into the flour into tiny bits. Then, using only your finger tips gently mix the butter into flour till it resembles fresh bread crumbs.

Sprinkle thickly over the apple mixture and press down gently to make a semi crust.

Bake for about 30 minutes till the topping is golden brown and apples are done and are nicely bubbling away.

Serve hot with vanilla icecream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Enjoy !!!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mukkala Pulusu - Andhra Food Series

My brother went off to college as soon as he finished his 11th. Thereafter, with post graduation and work, he really did not stay at home other than for the vacation breaks. He had no idea about cooking at all, particularly how to cook home style Andhra food. Slowly as time went by, he turned out to be quite good at churning out simple food. The other day he called me and asked me the recipe for this pulusu. So I thought why not just post it. It will be there as a ready reference whenever he needs the recipe.

Pulusu refers to a gravy item in the Andhra menu. It can be made of dal, yoghurt or simply vegetables or even meat. The famous Chapala pulusu is a fish gravy cooked with onions and tamarind. Basically a pulusu includes the use of tamarind as the souring agent and other spices to give it the kick. It is an accompaniment to hot rice. Mukkalu are pieces. I guess it comes from all the vegetables which are diced and added to make the gravy. This is a regular on our table. Very easy to make yet full of flavor.

You can add any vegetables that you fancy - eggplant, lady's finger, drumstick, sweet potato, bottle gourd, pumpkin etc etc.... My mom always only used sweet potato, bottle gourd and pumpkin and I seem to have continued the tradition.

There are any number of ways to make pulusu and one can add spices to add that kick but we tend to make it in a much simpler fashion with very few ingredients.

Anyway, here goes with the recipe...


250 grams bottle gourd diced into 1 inch pieces
250 grams red pumpkin diced into 1 inch pieces
250 grams sweet potato diced into 1 inch pieces
2 green chillies whole
2 stalks coriander leaves
lime sized ball of tamarind soaked in 1/4 cup water and juice extracted
1 teaspoon jaggery powder
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 1/2 teaspoons rice flour powder mixed in 2 tbsp of water

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon jeera( cumin seeds)
2 red chillies
4-5 curry leaves


Put 500 ml of water to boil. Add the salt and turmeric powder along with the green chillies and coriander.
First add the bottle gourd and sweet potato pieces. After about 10 minutes add the pumpkin (otherwise the pumpkin will overcook and disintegrate).
When just about cooked but still very firm, add the tamarind juice along with the jaggery and let cook till raw taste of tamarind disappears and the vegetables cook completely.
Add the rice flour powder mixture to the pulusu to thicken it slightly.
Take off the fire.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a small vessel and add all the popu ingredients. When fries, pour on top of the pulusu.
Serve hot along with hot rice and ghee and plain mudda pappu (boiled toor dal lightly salted).


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No Bake Cheesecake Which is Also Eggless

Everytime, I make a wonderful dessert, I wonder why I don't make it more often. After I finish more than my fair share, on my own or with some help from my son (particularly if it is a chocolate dessert), then I remember exactly why. The hours on the treadmill to compensate for just one teeny tiny portion of most desserts, makes me wonder if it is really worthwhile. Like someone wisely said, "a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips". But anyway, having a sweet tooth of this magnitude, I guess I just have to grin and bear it. Exercise as much as I can, but still no signs of being able of curb my cravings.

We had family over for a meal recently. And I happened to have cream cheese in the refrigerator (cream cheese is a hard to come by product in Indian stores). So for dessert this was a quick and a delicious option.

This is a really easy easy dessert to assemble. When you combine condensed milk and lemon juice, something magical happens. It gets thick and sets into this wonderful flan/cheesecakey dessert. It takes all of 10 minutes of real whisking and there you go .. a really pretty and light dessert to serve up for your guests. It has a light lemony flavor which lends itself well as a backdrop to the sweetness of most fruit. The cream cheese is also something which can be omitted. It gives the dessert its body. In its absence, the dessert will still set but will be more silky and a lot smoother. And will definitely not have the cheesecake flavor.
Creativity can be given full reign in arranging the fruit in patterns on top.


200 grams`Marie Biscuits or any digestive biscuits
50 grams butter melted
2 tablespoons sugar

1 can condensed milk
juice of 2 lemons
250 grams cream cheese, softened
200 ml creamed whipped

Assorted fruit ( fresh or canned)

Method :

Crush the biscuits in a blender along with the castor sugar.
Mix the melted butter in it and press into a pie plate to get a crust.

In a separate dish, whip the cream cheese, condensed milk and lemon juice till it becomes thick.
Fold in the whipped cream till well combined.
Pour/ spoon into the biscuit base and level the top.

Top with fruit and chill.

ENJOY !!!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bruschetta and Easy Peasy Snacks

We are always having last minute guests for dinner and we end up serving whatever simple food we are having that evening. But the other day, as usual kids were complaining that I was not being adventurous in the kitchen. So I sallied forth into the kitchen to make something "different". Luckily I had already bought some french loaves. And had basil in refrigerator (that is quite a rarity, as it is hard to get here in Madras). So I decided to make veg lasagna and bruschetta.

And as usual we had last minute guests. So my plan of making bruschetta and lasagna worked really well.

Bruschetta is a popular Italian appetizer which has its birth way back in time. Bruschetta means roasted over coals which obviously refers to the mode of cooking it.

Bruschetta is so easy to make provided one has the right ingredients. Also, extra virgin olive oil makes it taste even better. So easy to assemble. And I think it tastes so good because of all the simple ingredients that go into its making. Also, one can give total license to one's creativity as far as the toppings go. Olives, feta cheese , jalapenos, roasted pepper etc etc.. My sister in law puts one layer of pesto before putting the toppings on. She also uses baby spinach leaves. This gives a whole new dimension to the flavor. The key, in my opinion is to keep it simple with not more than 4 to 5 ingredients or else it will become too complicated.


1 French loaf
3 Roma tomatoes
10-15 basil leaves sliced up
3-4 cloves of garlic
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
100 gms Mozzarella cheese grated
salt and pepper to taste
chilli flakes to taste


Slice the french loaf diagonally to get thin slices.
Cut the garlic into 2 halves.
Deseed and dice the tomatoes finely.
Rub the sliced garlic on the slice of bread and then drizzle a little olive oil on each slice and top with plenty of tomato bits.
Place a little basil on this.
Sprinkle salt, pepper and a little chilli flakes.
Top with grated cheese and pop into a hot oven for 10 mins.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ridge Gourd Curry

I think that one person who was my inspiration to start my own blog was Saffron Hut. She has this most interesting blog with amazing photographs and to top it off, she has a very nice take on life and writes very well.
Her recipes are easy, simple and taste good. I have tried a few, but ridge gourd being one of my favorite vegetables, this is one from her blog ended up being a staple on my table. It is a dish which can be cooked with very little oil, which makes it the perfect food for me. But nowhere does it compromise on the taste.

Ridge gourd ( aka Beerkaya, Beerkanga) has a rather bland taste like zucchini and lends itself very well to the taste of the spices added. Here the potatoes, carrots and ridge gourd come together to make a curry which will go well with either rice or chapatis. The kids also enjoyed this with chapatis.

Here is the recipe exactly as in her blog.


1 medium ridgegourd diced
2 potatoes diced
1 carrot diced
2 ripe tomatoes chopped
1 onion chopped
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
3 tsp sambhar powder or curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 small lump of jaggery
salt to taste


Chop all the vegetables into medium cubes

Heat 1 tsp oil in a wide pan and add the cumin seeds when the oil is hot.

When the cumin seeds start sizzling, add the chopped onions
Saute the onions well.

Add the sambhar powder and turmeric powder. Fry well till well roasted and aromas waft all through the kichen.

Add the chopped tomatoes and fry till the tomatoes turn pulpy.

Add the carrots, potatoes, ridge gourd pieces and stir well.

Cover and let simmer in its own juices till all the vegetables are done.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Boorelu - Andhra Food Series

This post has been long on the back burner. I uploaded the pictures and then promptly forgot about it. For some reason, it simply never came to mind. The other day reading about a blog about old memories, the penny dropped and I remembered that I had not finished this particular post.

Boorelu are a very typical Andhra sweet served at most functions and festivals.
I have absolutely no recollection of when I first ate this sweet but the memory of the taste stayed with me for many years. I always imagined that it was this oh-so-complicated dish that I could never aspire to make. Mom never made it ever, so this was something I could only get to taste when I went for a wedding or back home to someone's place for an occasion. I insisted on having it as a part of my wedding lunch menu. Eating one of these balls of yumminess was only a once in a way treat so I made the most of it. I could never stop with one. I had to eat at least 5-6 before I was truly satisfied. (Actually my tummy protested more than my tongue).

Once after I got married I was invited to an aunt's house for dinner. To my pleasant surprise, she served Boorelu as the sweet at the end of the meal. I had no idea that she even knew how to make it. I caught her immediately to come home the next day and teach me.
It was so simple to make. I guess in my mind I had this idea that this was very complicated to make so ... Those were the days before I started a real love for cooking.

It was so simple and the ingredients easily available in all Indian pantries.
Now I do make it though not as often as I would like.

Do try it out and let me know what you think.


1 cup moong dal
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup grated coconut
20 raisins
1 teaspoon coarse cardamom powder
1/2 cup urad dal
1 cup raw rice
Oil to deep fry


Soak the urad dal and rice in water about 8 hours before making the boorelu.
When well soaked, grind to a smooth batter using very little water. Keep aside.

Soak the moong dal for about an hour and grind coarsely in the blender.

Steam for 10 minutes till it is cooked through like an idly/dhokla.

When it cools down crumble the cooked moong dal till it resembles bread crumbs. ( see picture below)

Now put a pan on medium heat. Gently roast the coconut till it gets to be a light brown colour and very aromatic. Keep aside. ( See below)

In the same pan, heat the sugar with about 2 tablespoons for water till it dissolves and becomes a liquid.
Add the crumbled moong dal and roasted coconut and mix well. Take off the heat and add the cardamom powder.
When cool enough to handle, make into lime sized balls putting 1 or 2 raisins into each.

Heat oil to deep fry.
Dip into the rice/urad dal batter. Drop into the hot oil and fry till it is a golden brown.

Serve hot or cold.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Majiga Pulusu and Mom's Cooking- Andhra Food Series

My mom was quite a good cook and my dad always had this story ( he was secretly very proud of her for this talent) that she would taste something either in someone else's home or at a restaurant and will be able to very accurately identify the ingredients that went into it. She was very rarely wrong or if so, off by maximum of an ingredient. She could replicate dishes at home quite easily and also innovate on them.
I always had an interest in cooking but it did not come to the fore till I got married. Then slowly, I started learning a few things from her and others. But the problem was that I only learnt those things that I personally loved as a kid. I totally forgot that tastes change over time and maybe what I loved then may not be quite what I love now.
Unfortunately, Mom is not in a position to really cook now and thanks to her accident, along with many other things, now has totally forgotten how to cook. From being a cook who could rustle up a meal for ten without any problem, she now struggles to remember simple recipes.
Now thinking back, I am glad that I learned the few recipes that I did from her. It is more special now to me.
My sincere advice to all you readers out there is that one needs to learn things that are important and unimportant quickly and never put it off for later. One never knows how things happen and it is sad that there are so many things that I would still have loved to learn from her, if only to make sure she gets to eat exactly what she likes.

Anyway enough of the morose talk...

She is very very fond of Majiga Pulusu aka More kozhambu, kadhi etc in defferent parts of the country. Majiga means butter milk and pulusu loosely translates into gravy(?). It is a combination of buttermilk, spices and vegetables thickened with the use of besan or chana dal ( Bengal Gram).
My dad's constant joke went that her pulusus always had more veggies than the gravy and therefore was wrongly referred to as pulusu. Well that is a healthy way of eating and I totally endorse it. More veggies, the better it is..

Now for the recipe...


1 tablespoon raw rice
1 Tablespoon Bengal gram
2 teaspoons grated coconut
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)
1 teaspoon Dhania (coriander seeds)
1 green chillie

1/2 litre sour curds

500 grams of potato, carrot and bottle gourd
2 Green chillies
2 sprigs coriander leaves
1/2 teapsoon Turmeric powder
Salt to taste

1 teaspoon Oil
1/2 teaspoon mustrad seeds
1/2 teaspoon jeera
2 red chillies


Soak the rice, Bengal gram, coconut, green chillie coriander seeds and jeera in a little water for an hour. Then grind to a coarse paste.

Dice the vegetables into large pieces.

Pour enough water over it just so that it covers the vegetables.

Boil the vegetables along with the green chillies, coriander leaves, turmeric powder and salt.

Mix the curds and the ground paste and cook on a slow/medium flame till heated through and it begins to thicken. Do not let it boil.

Add the boiled vegetables.

Take off the flame.

Heat Oil and fry the popu ( mustard, jeera and red chillies).

Pour over the majiga pulusu.

Serve along with rice.

Enjoy !!!!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sticky Toffee Pudding And All Things Sweet

Of late, my blog seems to be peppered with desserts, chocolate, fudge.... What's happening to me? I am supposed to be off sugar completely. The more I want to be off big bad sugar, the more it shows up, insidiously finding its way into my life somehow. I wonder why? The further I run, the closer it gets. Until it is so so hard to say no and I give in.

Well now I say enough is enough and the next few posts are going to be only spicy SPICY all the way (let us see how long my good intentions last !!!).

Recently I was in Singapore on a short, much needed break, when friends of ours took us to the Cricket Club there. The food was amazing. As usual I had to order the dessert ( did you not read the above and figured out my weakness for anything sweet???). I had heard of but never tasted Sticky Toffee pudding. The name itself fascinated me. How delicious does it sound? Sticky Toffee Pudding. Say it a few times. Aloud. See I told you so. Makes you feel like immediately grabbing a spoon and digging in, doesn't it? My friends tease me all the time saying that I think of nothing but food and if I have to be honest here, I have to confess they are right. And in this case, can you blame me?

Well with a name like that I just had to order it. When it came to the table it looked so yummy. This steaming, tiny little perfectly baked brown cake sitting in a little puddle of gooey caramel. And all of it accompanied by a scoop of vanilla icecream. OOOooooohhhhhh. Just delicious.

And the taste.... it was really yummy. Words cannot do justice. I felt like doing a little jig right there. Jumping around with happiness... silly me. Well anyway. To cut a long story short, instead of jigging I just started digging {:)}.. At the end of the meal, I was simply sitting like a beached whale, unable to move but with a beaming face, totally satisfied.

Warning::: Read, make and EAT at your own risk. Please do not blame me if eating this results in an instant weight gain of 2 kgs or an immediate heart attack. ( I mean, have you looked at the ingredients?)

Now for the recipe....


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup deseeded dates
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup cream
1 cup packed light brown sugar


Toffee Sauce:
Combine the butter, heavy cream and brown sugar in a saucepan; heat to boiling, stirring constantly.
Boil gently over medium low heat until mixture starts thickening. This will take about 6 minutes


Preheat the oven to 180 deg C and grease a 10-inch round or square baking dish.

Sift the flour and baking powder.

Chop the dates fine. Place in a small bowl and add the boiling water and baking soda; set aside. This will foam up. That's fine, it is meant to. When it cools down, belnd in the mixie till it is a smooth paste.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla; mix well until blended. Gently add the flour/baking powder mixture. Add the date paste to the batter and mix really well.

Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake until pudding is set and firm on top, about 35 minutes.

Poke holes in the cake with a skewer. Pour 1/3 cup of the toffee sauce over it and leave it to soak.

Serve hot with the remaining toffee sauce and with either whipped cream or vanilla icecream.



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chocolate Pudding Cake

Chocolate pudding is one dessert that has always been in great demand. This is one recipe that is most requested for whenever we have a pot luck. It is easy, quick and does not call for too many ingredients. To top it off, it is eggless which makes it a perfect dessert for most of our friends.
I am not sure where I got this recipe from but it has been in my handwritten recpe book for a number of years.
I have chronicled my family's addiction for chocolate many many times. This is one dessert that can be rustled up within minutes and will satiate the most demanding chocoholic. I promise you this. Just try it out once and you will be a fan forever. It has a nice fudgey cake like top with a saucey, custardy pudding bottom. It is like two desserts combined to give one heavenly result.
I think the only downside to this dessert is that it can give you a sugar high. My brother insists that it gives an instant hight which lasts the whole day!!!!. But my son did not agree. He feels it is just perfect the way it is.
So here goes with the recipe
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup boiling hot water
Heat oven to 180 deg C.
Mix all the dry ingredients ( the flour, sugar, baking powder ad the salt) in a bowl.
Add the milk, melted butter and the vanilla essence and mix well togehter.
It will be a thickish batter.
Pour into a greased 9 inch square baking dish.
Mix the dry topping ingredients ( both the sugars and the cocoa) and sprinkle over the cake batter.
Finally pour the boiling water over it carefully without mixing or stirring at all.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Serve hot or cold preferably with vanilla icecream .

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chocolate Fudge and Birthday Parties

I remember when the boys were younger, birthdays were something that were looked forward to for months. We would count down the days till D Day arrived. The excitement was almost palpable and on the morning of the birthday???!!! It was crazy. The opening of the birthday presents, the mandatory payasam, the oh so excited to wear the "colour" dress to school instead of the much hated uniform....

I think the idea that a birthday is the day you are born took on a lot less meaning than the fact that it was a day when there is party!!! at home, all friends coming over, games, loads of presents and lots of yummy food. And not to forget the all important goody bag... Deciding what goes into it, helping pick things out to stuff it with...

I usually had all birthdays at home and cooked everything at home. I think the main birthday cake was the only thing sourced out. This was more because my skills were not that strong in the decorating department.

One thing that remained constant in all the birthday parties menus were the jam tarts. I made a mean jam tart and the kids loved it. One little friend in particular loved them. She would come and eat just that. Nothing else.

Fudge was something I would have loved to make but did not know how to. So this little girl's mom taught me this wonderful fudge recipe. She would make it all the time and it was one of the most popular foods at her home. It is now a hot favorite in our house and everytime my little chocoholic son needs his chocolate fix, out comes this recipe and within minutes I have a happy contented face, beaming up at me cos he has OD'ed on it. I have also chronicled his chocolate addiction here.

This is one of the easiest recipes and calls for simple ingredients. It has a everything that you can easily find in the pantry and particularly in the Indian pantry ( this is important as chocolate chips and suchlike are hard to source in India).

There are a few points to watch out for which I will mention as we go along and you are well on your way to making perfect fudge everytime. The key is to know when to add the butter. The sugar syrup has to reach the candy stage. This step is important as otherwise the fudge can turn grainy rather than smooth and creamy.

Now on to the recipe


1cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 cup milk powder ( not skimmed, it should be full fat)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup butter ( approximately 50 grams)

one small cup of ice cold water


Grease an 8" X 8" dish or better still line with parchemnt paper or aluminium foil. (Clean up is a lot easier this way.)

Add the water to the sugar and place on a high flame. Let it come to a boil. Keep boiling till it reaches the candy stage. Keep a cup of cold water nearby. The surest test to see if it is ready for the next step is to drop bit of the sugar syrup into cold water. If it comes together as a little ball then it is ready.

Then, reduce the flame to medium, add the butter into it and let it froth up. Immediately add the milk powder and the cocoa and mix really well.

Pour into the dish and let it set. Cut into squares and serve.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ragda Pattice and Living in Bombay

I think college days are the most fun days for most people. Everyone looks back on their college days with such nostalgia. Everything was so perfect back then and all one needed to worry about was having fun and the next entertainment plans on the horizon. Movies, partying, eating out, meeting boys!!!! The list goes on. I had the good fortune to go to college even for my intermediate which I am not sure many kids do these days. Now it is still school till the 12th and only then college after that.
I went to college in Bombay and for me that was a real experience. I was brought up in a very small township where Vizag was the "big city" for us. So you can just about imagine my excitement on knowing that I was going to Big Bad Bombay for my education and the icing on the cake was that I was going to be in the hostel. I am quite sure that my mom was not very happy about this but dad was quite insistent and I am really glad he did insist. It was a wondeful wonderful time and I grew up in those few years there. I learnt to cope on my own and do things for myself. Homesickness was my constant companion then and it took quite a while before I could shake off that feeling.

But living in Bombay has its compensations. I have to say here that one of the best parts of staying in Bombay was the eating out. Like most students, I did not have a whole lot of money and was always on a tight, really tight budget. But I really savoured every moment of my stay in Bombay. Outside the college gate was this sandwich wallah who would make the most amazing chutney and cucumber sandwiches. Little further down the road was the bhelpuri guy who knew exactly how I liked my bhelpuri . Though I cannot imagine eating off the streets like that now, those days I had absolutely no inhibitions what with having been blessed with a cast iron tummy. On Warden Road there was the Right Place which served up amazing grilled sandwiches just loaded with butter and cheese ( I am just back from a trip to Bombay and made it a point to go to the Right Place. I am glad to report that the taste of the sandwiches is still as yummy as ever and they are still as affordable at Rs.50/-). The Frankies at Scandal Point were all of Rs.5. There was this dosa guy who served delicious crispy dosas for Rs.2 and a dollop of amul butter added to it would increase the cost to only Rs.3. It was unbelievable.

But the single dish that I enjoyed eating was the ragda pattice. I had never tasted it before coming to Bombay. This nicely fried crisp aloo tikki was covered with the white peas masala and all the different chutneys were added on top. Topped with finely chopped onions and sev, IMHO it was food for the gods. delicious to the last bite. It was something that I love to date. But for some reason I always thought it chick peas that were used to make the ragda. Only later I realised that it was white peas that were the main ingredient in the ragda gravy.

In one of Tarla Dalal's books I got the exact recipe which I am giving here.

The recipe for the aloo tikkis is here. The one difference is that you can stuff the centre of the tikki with about half a teaspoon of green chutney to add more flavour.

For the Ragda:

1 Cup white peas soaked overnight
2 boiled potatoes diced finely
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
2 teaspoons greenchilli and ginger paste
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons jaggery grated
1 tablespoon of tamarind juice
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
6 curry leaves
a pinch of asafoetida (hing)
2 tablespoons of oil

To serve

1/2 cup green chutney (Recipe here)
1/2 cup sweet chutney ( Recipe here)
1 cup nylon sev
1 cup onions diced finely

Make the tikkis as mentioned in an earlier post here.

For the Ragda:

Boil the soaked peas with 3 times the water till soft.
Heat oil and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, and asafoetida.
Add all the other ingredients when the mustard seeds start to crackle.
Add more water if required to get a gravyish consistency.
Mash the peas a bit.
Keep aside.

To serve:

Place two tikkis on a plate and pour the ragda over it.
Top with chutneys and 2 tablespoons each of the onions and sev.
Serve hot.


Sweet Date Chutney

Sweet date chutney aka Saunth chutney again is an integral part of each and every chaat preparation. It is also used as a topping on Dahi wada. It adds a tangy sweet taste to whichever dish it is added to.

2 cups dates
1/4 cup tamarind soaked in water
1 cup jaggery
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
a pinch of asafoetida
salt to taste
a pinch dried ginger powder
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin) roasted and coarsely powdered

Wash the dates and tamarind. Drain.
Cook along with the other ingredients and 4 cups of water simmering for about 1/2 an hour.
Cool and strain through a sieve.
Use as required and this freezes well too.


Green Coriander Chutney

This chutney is one of the most versatile chutneys that one can find. It can be used in many ways and is the best accompaniment for paneer tikkas, samosas, kababs and other fried food. It is also great in using to make chutney sandwiches.

2 bunches coriander leaves ( as this usually is a very variable amount, the washed and chopped leaves should amount to 2 cups)
1 large onion
2-3 green chillies
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)
1 inch piece of ginger
salt to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon of lime juice

Grind all the ingredients together with a little bit of water. Best served fresh but freezes very well.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rava Ladoo - Quick and Easy

One of the most commonly found south indian sweets is Rava Laddoo. No festival is complete without Rava Ladooo as the sweet of honour. I guess being one of the easiest sweets to prepare, it takes hardly any time to make. To top it all, the number of ingredients are few and very easily found in any pantry.
I simply love rava laddoos. They taste awesome. One can grind the rava and the sugar to a fine powder which is how they make it here in Madras. But I like it a little more coarsely ground. I think it gets more chewy that way and there is a lot more bite to it. The finely powdered ones just suddenly explode in your mouth. I usually have the ones from Grand Sweets. Though they taste simply divine, the oral explosions can be a little unnerving. Therefore, the preference for a more grainy version of the laddoo.

This was made for Deepavali at home. But as usual was not able to post it then. So here goes..


1 cup Rava or fine suji ( cream of wheat)
4 tablespoons Ghee or butter
1 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cardamom powder
20 Raisins
20 Cashew nuts
1/4 cup Milk


Heat the ghee till melted.

Fry the cashew nuts till golden brown , then add the raisins to the same ghee. When the raisins get plump, take it off the flame. remove the cashew nuts and the raisins.

In the same ghee, add the rava and fry till it gets aromatic and a little brown.

Add the sugar at this point and fry for a few minutes till the sugar strats to melt. Add the milk and take off the flame.

Before the whole mass gets too cool, shape into balls. Use cold milk to wet your hands every now and then to help shape the laddoos.

Cool and consume within the week.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Palak Paneer and Secret of Popeye's Strength

Popeye had it right when he said " I'm strong to the finish when i eats me spinach, i Popeye the sailor man! toot toot (pipe)". Whenever he is bludgeoned by Bluto, the evil villain, this can of spinach magically appears in his hand and once popped into his mouth can and all, it gives him strength of immense proportions. He can now single handedly eliminate all villains and get the babe of his dreams...

I think this story has long been used by mom worldwide to get their kids to eat spinach. I wonder what it is about kids, that if their mom says something it can never be right, but if some silly cartoon character says the same thing, then the matter is taken to be gospel truth. I mean, is it fair to all us moms out here that a cartoon character has to be used each single time to get kids to eat healthy? But one thing in the kids favor at least as far as spinach is concerned, I can safely say I understand. I hated spinach with a passion as you can see from this story here. But once I developed a taste for it, there was no stopping me.

There is a restaurant in Madras that serves up some of the most delicious Palak Paneer. Along with a hot "kadak" tandoori roti,.... oooh la la....

I have tried many different recipes for palak paneer but the perfect recipe has always eluded me till I saw Nita Mehta's book " Paneer all the way" which showed me the exact recipe. The taste was the exactly what I remembered from the restaurant.

This is the recipe as mentioned in her book.


150 grams paneer
1/2 kilo spinach ( Delhi Palak)
1 teaspoon jeera seeds
2 large onions
1 inch piece ginger
4-6 cloves garlic
2 tomatoes chopped finely
2 green chillies
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons ghee
2 pods cardamom
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder


Clean the spinach well and cook the leaves along with 1/2 cup water over a low flame. When done, grind coarsely in the mixie.

Grind the onions, ginger and garlic in the mixie separately.

Heat two tablespoons ghee, and add jeera. When they turn start sizzling, add the onion paste. Fry till the oil separates and the onions turn golden brown.

Add the chopped tomatoes and chopped green chillies.

Fry again till tomatoes turn mushy and oil separates.

Add the ground spinach paste. Add a few tablespoons of water in case it is too thick.

Cook for 5-7 minutes longer and then add salt.

Add cardamom and paneer. Mix well take off the fame.

At the time of service, heat 1 tablespoon ghee and add 1 teaspoon of red chilly powder and take of the flame. Pour over the heated palak paneer.

Serve hot along with rotis, chapatis , rice etc...


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Besan Laddoo

Deepavali has come and gone and though I made a bunch of sweets and savories, they never got posted. At least I was smart enough to take the pictures before everything got consumed. This year I have decided to turn over a new leaf ( no resolutions, mind you, they never work out). Post a little more than I did this last year. So I thought new beginnings have to be sweet beginnings and therefore, here goes the second yummy post of the year.

Besan laddoos have always been my personal favourite sweet but surprisingly it does not do much for the rest of the family. They prefer the Rava Laddoos and the Kajjikais. I guess, the besan flavour is an acquired one.

For simplicity in making, there is no sweet to rival this. Usually, all Indian sweets require slaving over the stove. But this one is just so simple and with minimal ingredients (as you all know, this is a personal weakness of mine - fewer the ingredients , the more pronounced the taste of each ingredient). The only thing is watching it closely so that it does not get burnt. It is only a matter of a few seconds which prevents it from going to a burnt dark orange instead of a delicious golden brown. I made that mistake last year and therefore waited till this year to post this particular recipe. The other way of knowing if it is ready, is the moment when aromas start wafting out of the kitchen. The whole house (actually make that the whole neighbourhood) will know that yummy besan laddos are on their way...


1 cup besan flour (gramflour)

3/4 cup sugar, powdered finely

1/4 cup ghee

1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

20-30 raisins


Heat ghee in a pan.

Add the gram flour and keep stirring till it starts changing colour. At this point, there will be a heavenly aroma throughout the house. You will know it is then ready to take off the flame.

Remember that continues to cook for a few minutes longer and may get burnt so watch out for it.

Take off the flame. Cool for a few minutes till it is at the right temperature to handle.

Add the sugar, cardamom powder and the raisins.

Make into round balls the size of a lime.

Let them cool down and store in an airtight tin.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fruit Trifle

One of my all time favourite desserts has to be the ubiquitous trifle. It is found on the menus of every single club that I have been to. I think it is one better legacies of the British Raj. As children, whenever we went to the club for a meal, it was always a trifle pudding that completed the outing. I am sure many of you out there will know exactly what I am talking about. It is with a lot fond memories that I decided to post about this wondeful dessert.

Though each chef has his or her own recipe, the basics are the same. One of the easiest desserts to make, it is more a matter of assembly rather than acutal cooking/baking. With simple easy to get ingredients, making this dessert is a real breeze.
A trifle is just varying layers of fruit, custards, cake, cream and jelly.


Cake crumbs 250 grams ( You can use leftover cake slices, crumbs, whatever takes your fancy)
Custard powder- 2 tablespoons
Milk - 200 ml
Sugar - 3 tablespoons
Jelly - one packet of any flavor ( strawbery, raspberry being most preferred)
Water 200 ml
Jam - a couple of tablespoons
assorted fruit diced into bits
1/4 cup of fruit juice
Sweetened whipped cream - 200 ml

Make the custard :
Mix the custard powder in a tablespoon of cold milk. Heat the remaining milk till boiling. Mix the custard powder mixture into the boiling milk and stir briskly. Make sure there are no lumps. It also burns very easily so ensure that you are stirring all the time till it thickens. Add the sugar and mix well till sugar dissolves. Leave to cool down.
Make the jelly by heating the water till boiling and pour in the jelly crystals. Leave aside till set.
Take a decorative glass bowl. Press the cake crumbs into the base tightly.
Pour the juice over it evenly and soak it well.
Put the jam over this in a thin layer.
Place the fruit on top and spoon in the jelly in between.
Pour the cold custard over. Top up with the whipped cream.
Leave for a few hours in the refrigerator till all the flavors meld well together.

Serve cold and enjoy.