Friday, December 24, 2010

Shahi Baby Corn And My Dead Silent Picture

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. We have all heard this a million times over. We have also heard that every picture speaks a story. These are very clichéd sayings but hold very true nonetheless. In this day of instant gratification, people want to have a lot of visual stimulation along with the written word. They need to be pulled towards your blog through a lot of good pictures and pretty fonts. And definitely first impressions make all the difference. In my case of food blogging, the picture also serves a dual purpose of showing my readers what the final product should look like.

But by that criteria, when I see the picture accompanying this post, I know for a fact that my picture is dead silent. It is mute and unable to convey what it should.
Along with my picture, I am also struck speechless. It is such a bad and uninspiring picture.
I tried photoshopping it. I tried improving its looks. Increasing the exposure, sharpening it, contrasting it, cropping it.... But NO. It stayed stubbornly silent.
Leave alone conveying a story, this badly behaved picture refused to say even a word.

I pride myself on my picture taking ability (though to be very honest, I know next to nothing about the technical aspects of it). I love it when I get rave compliments for my pictures which accompany the blog posts. It keeps me motivated and always planning on the next picture.

I have only one thing to say here now. Yes it is another cliche. This post is replete with cliches. Don't judge a book by its cover...
What I am trying to say here is that please do not judge the dish by the picture. Maybe it just does not photograph well. But it tastes really good. Really really good. This Shahi Baby Corn is YUMMY to say the least. Go ahead and make it and tell me if you agree with me or not.

This recipe is taken from Nita Mehta's book, Mughlai Vegetarian Khana.


200 grams Baby corn
2 cups Milk

2 tablespoons Cashew nuts, ground to a paste with 1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon Coriander (dhania) Powder
1/2 teaspoon Dry Mango Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
2-3 small Cardamom Pods (seeds crushed)
100 grams Paneer grated
1 tablespoon Coriander leaves chopped

Masala Paste:
3 medium Onions
3 Tomatoes
1 inch piece Ginger
1 Green Chilli

1 tablespoon Oil
1/2 teaspoon Jeera (cumin) seeds
1 teaspoon Ginger, finely chopped
5-6 Almonds, sliced
1/4 Red Chilli Powder


Slice the baby corn lengthwise.

Cook baby corn in the milk along with a pinch of the turmeric powder till it starts boiling. Then simmer for about 2 minutes till baby corn is soft.

Blend all the ingredients for the masala paste in the mixie to a fine paste.

Heat oil. Add the jeera and then after it crackles, add the masala paste.

Cook till the oil separates and it is almost dry.

Add the red chilli, turmeric, coriander, dry mango and garam masala powders. Add the salt too.

Fry for a minute and then add the cashew nut paste. Stir to mix well.

Add the leftover milk from boiling the baby corn and stir for 2-3 minutes.

Add the cooked baby corn and simmer oin a low flame for 3 minutes or so.

Add 2 cups of water to get a thin gravy and simmer till the gravy starts getting thicker.

Add the cardamom seeds, grated paneer and coriander leaves.

To serve, put the hot vegetables in the dish. For the tempering, heat oil, fry the jeera and the ginger. Add almonds and red chilli powder. Pour over the vegetable.

Serve hot along with chapati, nan, pulao, rice etc.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Carrot Cake - Healthy Cake?

To continue with my recurring theme of loving unhealthy foods, would you consider carrot cake to be healthy or unhealthy? Healthy is a word which is very in. Healthy living, healthy choices are all expressions to which we react with pride.

Now as far as carrot cake is concerned, it has carrot, uses only vegetable oil, brown sugar instead of refined white sugar, walnuts... I think it is healthy or at the very least as healthy as a cake slice can be. I definitely think that the carrots give the cake a shining health-halo on top. Most people consider a slice of carrot cake to be health food.

The dense and spicy taste of this cake makes it loved by all. Even though it has a healthy tag and is therefore not supposed to taste good, this cake can really surprise you - it is really yummy. The oil and the carrot in the cake make it moist even if kept for a few days.

This cake can be so easily made with whole wheat flour rather than all purpose flour. I made it with maida but I think next time around, I will experiment with whole wheat flour. I think that will only make it tastier and more dense. Also, the addition of walnut adds a crunch and some amount of omega-3 fats.

The only thing it healthy or not, this cake will tempt you beyond anything else. And then it certainly becomes very unhealthy if you finish the whole cake in one sitting. Indulgence is good only up to a point.

Now on a more serious note: PLAGIARISM. I have heard of it happening, seen it too. It happened to me once and a kind reader pointed it out. When I complained, they promptly took it off. This time a friend posted a link on Facebook about food that he loves. It looked interesting. So I went through the site I saw this picture. It looked so much like mine picture here. I went back to my blog to check. And sure enough it was mine. Now I don't know whether to be flattered or to be mad.
Anyway I took it up. Lets hope something comes of it.

Now to the recipe...


2 1/2 cups Flour
2 cups brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Vegetable Oil
4 Eggs
3 cups Carrot grated
1 cup Walnuts chopped


Preheat oven to 350 deg F or 175 degC.

Sift together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon powder until well mixed.

Pour in the oil and mix till well blended.

Add the eggs one a time, beating throughly each time.

Blend in the carrots and walnuts.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes in a 9"X 13" pan. Or till a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Frost with a cream cheese frosting if you would like (recipe follows)



225 grams Cream Cheese
50 grams Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1 cup Icing sugar

Soften the cream cheese and butter till it is at room temperature.
Cream well with the icing sugar and vanilla essence.
Frost the cake.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Carrot Capsicum Rice - The Dreaded Carbs

I love rice. Is it any surprise? Any self respecting South Indian would. I cannot do without rice. It is very very hard for me to give it up for anything in the world. In today's world, where everyone is so afraid of eating those dreaded 'carbs', I boldly go where other fear to tread. I eat rice without any qualms at all. In my opinion, rice cannot be all that bad considering us South Indians have eaten it for generations without ill effects. I think people are carrying this NO CARBS or the CaRBS ARE REALLY BAD FOR YOU a little too far.

I think the problem mainly lies in the fact that back in the day, people would eat just that. Nowadays, the variety of food available for daily consumption is mind boggling. So, in addition to eating normal everyday food, we tend to over indulge ourselves with desserts, sugars, fats etc..

Now to come to our dish of the day - Carrot Capsicum Rice. This recipe is adapted from Viji Varadarajan's book - "Samayal". This is an immensely simple but very tasty rice dish, which can be easily served up as a one dish meal along with a raita or curds. It does not have too many ingredients and so the flavor of the carrots and the capsicum really comes through. I have tweaked her recipe slightly, with the addition of onions,red chillies and asafoetida.


2 cups Basmati rice

400 grams Carrots grated
400 grams Capsicum diced finely
2 large Onions diced finely
3 tablespoons chopped Coriander leaves

1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds(jeera)
2-3 Dried Red Chillies
10-12 Curry leaves
4 tablespoons Oil

1/4 teaspoon Asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder

2 to 3 spoons Pitlai powder ( recipe follows)
1 tablespoon Lime juice
Salt to taste


3 tablespoons Coriander seeds (Dhania)
1 tablespoon Bengal gram dal (Chana dal)
2 Red Chillies
1/4 teaspoon Asafoetida
2 tablespoons Coconut grated
1 teaspoon Oil

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil and fry the coriander seeds, red chillies, asafoetida and Bengal gram till golden and fragrant. Keep aside.

Heat remaining oil and add the coconut. Fry till golden brown. Keep aside.

When all ingredients are cool, grind to a fine powder.

This is a versatile taste powder which can be used to flavor vegetables and other rice dishes also.


Boil the rice with double the amount of water till fluffy and cooked. Keep aside.

Heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and when they crackle, add the cumin, red chillies and curry leaves.

When cumin turns golden, add the onions, asafoetida and turmeric powder. Fry till translucent.

Then add the carrot and capsicum. Fry for a few minutes. Do not let the vegetables become too soft.

Add the salt, pitlai powder and rice.

Add the lime juice and turn it a few times. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot with raita or simpler still, just curd (yoghurt).


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Waffles - Very Versatile

The first time I ate a waffle was when I was in college in Bombay. As a treat one night, a few of us from the hostel went across to the Taj (of the 26/11 infamy) to have dinner. We went to the coffee shop then called Shamiana. We had a blast that evening. Got dressed to the hilt. It was an evening to remember after all. Here we were, college students splurging on a dinner in one of the fanciest hotels in town. I simply cannot remember what I ate for dinner that night. But for dessert I ordered waffles with fruit, honey and icecream. It was DELICIOUS!!!!. I can even today remember the aromas wafting from it. It tasted divine and the combination of the hot waffle, cold icecream, smooth honey and flavorful fruit was superb.

Waffles are one thing that look so hard to make but in reality are the easiest. It is something which can be rustled up in a jiffy. Waffles are very versatile and can be served as breakfast, dessert or even as a main course. There are any number of toppings that you can put on a waffle. One can also make it healthier by using whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour.

I bought a waffle maker many years ago and it has been on our Sunday/holiday breakfast menu off and on ( I can hear my son pipe up at this point and say "more off than on").

This recipe is now being posted for my sister who just got her waffle maker. May their family have many waffles filled days ahead!!!!.


2 Eggs
2 cups Milk
6 tablespoons or 90 grams Melted Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoon Sugar

Mix all the liquid ingredients (eggs, milk, butter and extract) in a bowl.

Sift the dry ingredients till well mixed.

Add the dry ingredients to the liquid and mix well till it is a smooth batter.

Heat the waffle maker and pour in required batter.

Close and cook till browned.

Serve with maple syrup, honey, fruit... The list goes on.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Korivi Kharam ( Red Chilli Pickle) and Andhra Food Series

This is going to be a real quick post. It has been on the back burner for a long long time. Made the pickle, forgot to take the picture. By which time the fresh red chillies disappeared from the market. And I was determined to take the picture only with the red chillies in it.

The pickle started getting consumed and also changing colour. First I pondered on whether to make a fresh batch whenever I saw the red chillies again. But then better sense prevailed. Thanks to todays daily updates on health and nutrition, I decided that there was no need for any one in the family to eat such spicy food or one that is loaded with salt.

So the next time I saw fresh red chillies in the store, I quickly brought them home and took the pictures. As you can see, the colour of the pickle has changed from a bright red to a a little more brown. When you first make the pickle, it has a beautiful fiery red colour. This pickle has a long shelf life of a year at least. The only thing is that there will be a little colour change.

It is a begging to be eaten food. It just calls out for some hot rice with melted ghee to be poured generously over. But I have to warn you - IT IS SPICY and definitely not for the faint hearted. Actually, at home there is only one brave soul who can take on the might of this spicy pickle. He thoroughly enjoys eating this even if the tears pour down and his face turns red with the heat of the pickle. So this post is for you, Vin.


1/2 kg Ripe red chillies
250 grams Salt
125 grams Tamarind
1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
25 grams Fenugreek seeds (Methi)
200 ml Gingelly Oil (Sesame Oil)
1 teaspoon Asafoetida


Wash and dry the red chillies thoroughly

Grind the red chillies, salt, tamarind, and turmeric powder to a coarse paste.

Store in an airtight and sterile jar for about 2 to 3 days.

Roast and powder the fenugreek seeds.

Heat the oil to medium hot (not smoking) and add the asafoetida.

Cool and add to the ground red chillies mixture.

Finally add the fenugreek powder and mix thoroughly.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Murukku or Thenguzhal - Try Pronouncing That

Tamil is an old classical language. It has been around for many many years. And the point to note is that if you don't speak Tamil in Chennai or at least something resembling it, it is very hard to manage. Particularly a while back. At least now, some lots of the people speak English in the city.

When I moved to Chennai about 20 years ago I did not know a word of Tamil. Not a word. Even now I speak it quite badly. I think the reason for that is that I learnt it from the maids and drivers. Even after 20 years, my Tamil is a disgrace. Whether I can fix this after so long, I am not sure. I never know when to give respect, I end up calling old patis "nee".... I can go on and on with my list of mis-spoken(?) Tamil. But I don't want to bore you too much. Suffice to say that I don't speak it well and that I am the butt of all the jokes with my friends. Thats why I tend to speak in English as far as possible unless and until I cannot avoid it.

But I think the main issue with Tamil is the pronunciation. It is HARD to say the least..
The 'zha', the 'sha'... the H is simply not present. All h's are substituted with g so a Mahesh becomes a Mages. There is no P. So a Padma becomes a Badma and a Poori is now a Boori...

I have a hard time mastering the right pronunciation. What trips me up each time without fail is the 'zha'. Mambazham is the word for mango. Now, it is not that simple. The zha is not with a z sound at all. It is some sort of rolling L. So for the uninitiated, it ends up being mambalam. Things get trickier with the word for banana. Vazhapazham. Bad enough having to negotiate the much dreaded 'zha' once. Imagine having to do it twice over for the same word...

This being a food blog, we have to get down to the more important matter at hand. Food..

Now Murukku is the most delicious snack one can ever taste. It is crunchy and perfect for those hungry times in between meals. My husband A lot of people like to eat something crunchy along with their meals. This is a great substitute to papads/appalams.

I always thought this was a hard thing to make. But once I tried my hand at it, I figured it is easy enough though hard on the hands.

This recipe is adapted from Samaithu Paar (Cook and See). It comes out perfectly each time.


3.5 cups Rice Flour
1 cup Urad Dal Flour
100 grams Butter
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons Sesame seeds (Til) or Cumin seeds (jeera)
1/2 teaspoon Asafoetida
Oil for deep frying


Sift the rice flour and urad flours together.

Mix in the butter into the flour mixture.

Add the salt and asafoetida powder into a cup of water. Mix it well till the salt dissolves.

Mix this water into the flour/butter mixture a little at a time.

Form a dough which is not too soft. You should be able to just hold it together and roll it into a smooth ball.

Heat oil till medium hot.

Put a small quantity of the dough into the Thenguzhal press.

Make circles into the hot oil.

Do not put in too many at one time as it will reduce the temperature of the oil.

When it gets to be a beautiful light brown, take it out of the oil and put on a paper towel.

Let them cool down then store in an airtight container.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Baby Badushas and Happy Deepavali

Here comes that time of the year again. Here's wishing all my readers a very happy Deepavali and a prosperous year ahead.

Deepavali is a festival celebrated with great fervor throughout the country. It is a festival eagerly looked forward to by one and all . It has no age barriers. Deepavali definitely means food, crackers, new clothes, food, visiting people, food, food....

That having been said it is also a festival which ends up being an eating orgy. Food keeps going down the system non stop and without any control at all. Sweets, savories, heavy pulaos, rich curries... the list goes on. In fact, we happily use the kids as an excuse to cook that much. The kids need to eat well.... They need to celebrate... Deepavali comes but once a year..... In the meantime, we have consumed these vast quantities of rich foods. And then struggle with our conscience and weight gain. Thats why our people knew the importance of Leghiyam at the end of the festivities. It is sorely needed to digest all that rich food eaten over the last few days.

We too make a lot of food during this season. In fact, I think I have used more oil and sugar in the last couple of days than in the entire two months preceding it. Just happily pouring in the oil into the frying pans and letting the sugar syrups bubble away to glory. What can I say? Deepavali comes but once a year...

Each year we have a combination of old favorites and a new addition to our feast. I love making one thing new each year. Something I have not tried out earlier. It helps in adding to my repertoire. It is also a good excuse to update my blog. I try to make something traditional and in keeping with the Deepavali spirit. I am all for innovation and creativity, but there is something to be said for the old faithfuls. They have been around for many years and will continue to be there for next so many.

This year I tried my hand at making Badushas. They are pretty simple to make and if you don't count calories (you should not- this is Deepavali, right? And Deepavali comes but once a year..) it is quite a nice sweet to eat for the festive season. It also lasts for a while so thats another plus point. The only thing is I made my badushas really baby sized. They looked cute and are perfect for one mouthful.


3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cooking soda
4 big tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom powder

Oil to deep fry


Sift the all purpose flour and baking soda till well mixed

Add the cardamom powder

Add in the ghee and gently rub in.

Add water a tablespoon at a time to make it into a dough.

Do NOT over knead the dough.

Make small lemon sized balls and make a depression with your forefinger. This helps cooking the badusha through.

Simultaneously, heat the sugar with 2 cups of water till a two string consistency is obtained. (Take a bit of the syrup between your fingers and pull apart. two strings should form)

Heat oil till medium hot. It should not be smoking.

Fry the badushas till golden brown and immerse into the syrup.
Leave the badushas to soak in the syrup for a minute or two.

Take out and let dry.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lemon Bars and Gardens Growing Wild

Recently, I went to visit my sister in law who has just moved to a new home. For me the highlight of the new place was not how nice the area was or how lovely the house was. I was completely fascinated by the fruit trees in her backyard. Now let me clarify. It was not that I have not seen fruit trees earlier or those that are dropping down with fruit. It was simply that these were there for our picking at any time.
Even here at home we have a guava tree that fruits very well. But usually we leave it for the squirrels or parrots to eat to their hearts content. But most times, it is all consumed and never left to fall down or rot.
But to come back to the fruit trees in sis in laws house, there was an apple, a lemon and an orange tree. Being the tail end of October, the apple season was just ending but still the tree had hundreds of apples and the lemon tree was also laden with lemons. For the first few days, I would go rushing into the garden each morning picking all the good fruit that had dropped in the night. Every morning I would pick about 20 to 30 apples and about 10 lemons. I would feel very bad to waste it thinking of all the hungry people out there. But by the end, I just could not cope. The trees were ripening fruit faster than I could pluck or we could consume. So I just gave up and would sadly look at the fruit going to waste each day. This is after giving away apples and lemons to anyone who visited or who we visited..
Luckily the oranges had not ripened yet, else that would have been another added problem altogether.

I made apple crumble ( recipe here) one day and these incredible lemon bars.

Deliciously tart and sweet at the same time, they were fabulous. The recipe is from


1 cup Butter softened ( 200 grams)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups all purpose flour

4 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice
4 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 tablespoons icing sugar


Preheat oven to 175 deg C

Sift the 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup sugar together.

Rub in the butter into the flour sugar mixture till it resembles bread crumbs.

Gather into a dough and press into a 9X13 inch pan.

Bake for 20 mins till just getting firm and golden.

In another bowl whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, sugar and flour.

Pour over the crust and bake again for 20 minutes

The bars will firm up after they cool.

Generously sprinkle the icing sugar over and cut into squares.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Basundi and my Sweet Tooth

I have this incredibly sweet sweet tooth. It just shouts out to be satisfied after every single meal. It controls me totally and just as soon as my lunch is over, it starts shrilly demanding "Give me sweet, give me sweet!!! NOW NOW NOW!!!". Whatever my good intentions and before I can even comprehend what is happening, something sweet is already down my throat. Swallowed, digested and then total regret sets in. But the damage is already done. Like someone famously said "a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.." In my life there have been too many minutes on the lips to count. Ask my hips or my tummy. They know that fact only too well..

I have a particular affinity for Indian sweets. Lot of people feel that Indian sweets are way too sweet but in my opinion that single factor makes it so much more appealing to me. At one time, I could wake up at 6 am and have two jangris without batting an eyelid. Thank god those days are now behind me.

I have been wanting to make Basundi for the longest time. It is so yummy, served deliciously cold and sweet with a few nuts adding a crunch as you eat it.

It is simple to make but just takes forever and forever. It takes a good 2 to 3 hours for the milk to thicken down to the level required. Now here comes technology to my rescue. We have a new fangled thing called the Induction stove at home. We have it for back up just in case.. It took me all of 1 hour from start to finish to make the Basundi. That made it a lot of fun and I had to watch it only till the milk thickened somewhat. After that, it took care of itself.

Now for the ingredients and the method..


2 litres full fat milk
150 grams sugar
few strands of saffron
juice of 1 lime
almonds sliced for garnish


Put the milk in the thick bottomed vessel and bring to a rolling boil.

Add the saffron strands so that it adds its flavor and color as the milk boils.

Reduce the heat and let it boil down till it becomes 1/4 in quantity.

Add the juice of the lime so that the thickened milk curdles a bit.

Add the sugar and cook for a few minutes longer.

Garnish with sliced almonds and serve chilled.


Sunday, September 26, 2010


This is another thing we learnt at the Mexican cooking class mentioned here. It was delicious, perfect tasting and definitely a keeper. The kids loved it, we loved, friends who ate it loved it... you get the message...

Enchiladas are corn/flour tortillas with a filling and a spicy sauce poured on top. Now when it is said so generally, you can imagine the variety that can come up in terms of fillings. It can be meat, vegetarian, beans, cheese, vegetables etc etc either individually or in combinations....

Simple to make it calls for easy ingredients.


20 grams Butter
1 small Onion diced
2 cloves Garlic chopped
1 cup cooked Spinach ( squeezed)
100 grams Ricotta Cheese or Paneer
50 grams Cheddar Cheese
4 Corn Tortillas (recipe below)

For the Enchilada sauce:

1 teaspoon Oil
2 tablespoons Onions finely diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped Garlic
1 teaspoon Red Chilli paste
150 grams Blanched tomato puree

How to make the red chilli paste:

Soak about 5 fresh or dry red chillies (minus the stem) in 2 tablespoons of vinegar for 24 hours and grind to a paste.

How to make the corn tortillas:

1 cup Cornmeal flour
2 cups all purpose Flour
Salt to taste

Mix the two flours and salt well. Add in water a little at a time till a stiff dough forms. Roll out like chapatis and cook for a minute on each side on a hot griddle.


For the sauce:

Heat the oil.

Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes

Add the chilli paste and mix for a minute. Add a few tablespoons of water every now and then to avoid it getting dry.

Add salt to taste.

Now add the tomato puree and cook for 5 more minutes

For the enchiladas:

Melt butter in the saucepan.

Add onion and garlic and cook till translucent.

Stir in spinach and cook for a couple of minutes longer

Take off the heat and add in the ricotta cheese or paneer.


Heat the corn tortilla for a few seconds on the pan. This makes it pliable.

Place about 3 tablepoons of spinach filling on each tortilla.

Roll up and place seam side down in a baking dish.

Pour enchilada sauce over and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Bake/ grill till cheese is all melty.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mani Kozhukattai and Vinayaka Chaturthi

Vinayaka Chaturthi is a festival looked forward to eagerly by our family ( and not just because it means a holiday at home to laze and relax, oh no not at all!!! :).. ). Vinayaka is such a cute looking god. His pot belly and cheery face just make you feel so good. You know immediately that he is right there watching out for you.

Usually we have a purohit to come home and do the puja for us. This year for some reason he did not show up. Waited for a bit and then decided to go ahead ourselves. In this day and age, life is a lot simpler. I had a little book on how to conduct the puja in English ( unfortunately, never learnt the script of either my mother tongue or my domiciled home). Just went right ahead.

The point of this story is "what?" you may ask. In my opinion, doing something with the heart is more important than making sure you do it just right. I may have made a few mistakes in reciting the names or in my methods, but wouldn't you agree it has more value as it was done in total faith and devotion? I just want to know from you, my dear readers, what your opinion on this is. Hinduism, being a highly ritualistic religion, asks a lot of its followers in terms of day to day prayers and all special occasions..What is more important here? Is it ok to take a few shortcuts here or there or make mistakes, but do it wholeheartedly or is it essential to follow everything to a T?

Anyway, to come to the equally important point of what I made as Naivedyam for the god. Every festival has its own special foods that we make. For Ganesh Chaturthi, the prasadam is of a different kind. There is very little oil used in its preparation. He is offered only foods that are steamed. This is because as per Ayurveda, steamed food is easily digested and easy on the stomach. Modaks of different kinds are offered.

This year too, Modaks featured on the menu. But I tried out something new which I had seen in a book. It is called Mani Kozhukattai. Why it is called that I have no idea and my grasp of Tamil does not extend that far. Instead of placing the stuffing inside, each is made separately and put then together. One good thing about this is that it comes out perfectly and there is not much expertise required. On the other hand, to make a stuffed Kozhukattai with a nice thin outer covering requires a lot of experience.

This turned out very well. I am sure Vinayaka was quite happy with my offering this year.
PS : This can be served as a tiffin also. Makes for a nice filling low in fat snack when you need to fill the empty pockets in your tummy.


1 cup Rice flour ( sifted well)
2 cups hot water
1 teaspoon ghee
salt to taste

1/2 cup urad dal soaked for 4-6 hours
Salt to taste
1 inch piece ginger diced finely
2 green chillis diced finely
4-5 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon oil


For the rice flour balls:

Heat water till it comes to a rolling boil.
Add the salt and ghee to it.
Add the rice flour to the boiling water taking care that no lumps are formed.
Cook till it comes together as a ball.
Leave aside till cool enough to handle.
Form little marble sized balls ( for this you need to apply some ghee on the palms before rolling them out)
Steam lightly for about 10 minutes. You know when it is done as the balls start looking little glossy and translucent.

For the Urad dal:

Coarsely grind the soaked urad dal along with the salt using very little water.
Put the paste in a plate and steam till done.
Crumble till it becomes fine crumbs and looks , well..., crumbly.

Heat oil. When hot add the mustard seeds and let it crackle.
Then add the curry leaves, ginger and green chilli to the oil and fry well.
Add the asafoetida.
Last, add the crumbled urad dal and fry for about 2-4 minutes.

Add in the steamed rice balls and mix gently till well mixed. Be careful, as you do not want to break the balls

Serve hot.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chilli Rellenos and A Cooking Class

Eating food from different cultures is now so common all over the world. It is so easy nowadays to procure ingredients to cook anything. Just check out the shelves of any grocery store in the larger cities.

They say that the Indian palate is so used to its own tastes that it is very hard to introduce new tastes. That I am not so sure is true. You find people trying out all types of food. But the thing is that it is always comforting to eat that which is already familiar to the palate.
Though from two ends of the world, isn't it strange to see the striking resemblance between the two cuisines in both the ingredients used and the methods of cooking. I guess the main reason Mexican food has an edge over the other cuisines of the world (in India) is because it is close in taste to Indian food. The use of tomatoes, kidney beans (rajma), onions, chilli, cumin, coriander (cilantro)... they are all the common factors in both cuisines. The tortiallas are very similar to our chapatis.. I think the only difference is in the use of cheese in Mexican food.

Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines and I can eat Mexican for all meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner and all other meals in between. Though I was almost 22 years old before I tasted Mexican food for the very first time, I took to it like a duck to water. Delicious is the only word that comes to mind.

Very recently, I went for a cooking class on Mexican food. It was quite a nice experience.. They taught us a few things which I came home and promptly replicated. Turned out well.

One of my all time favorites is the Chilli Rellano. Sounds foreign? Well it is simply our yummy Mirchi bajji with a different stuffing..


6 Long chillis ( Bajji Mirchi)
100 grams cottage cheese
100 grams cooking cheese (or cheddar)
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
salt and pepper to taste.

100 grams toasted Bread crumbs
2 tablespoons all purpose flour

Oil to deep fry


Make a slit along the length of the chilli

Take out the seeds and the long white string inside.

Make a mixture of the stuffing.

Stuff the green chilli with the cottage cheese mixture.

Heat oil to a medium ( not smoking).

Make a paste with the flour and a little water. Put the bread crumbs on another flat plate.

Dip the stuffed chillis into the flour paste and then into the bread crumbs.

Deep fry till golden brown.

Serve hot with salsa and sour cream.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pancakes and Healthy Breakfasts

I think breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A lot of experts out there have always maintained that a good breakfast energizes you and makes you alert of the rest of the day. It makes the difference between being focussed and mentally drifting off into lala land. It helps in weight loss and also in avoiding constant snacking between meals. Calories consumed early in the day are far better utilized by the body than those consumed later.

Now the point is we all know this, but how many of us act on it?

I have a child who simply says "I cannot eat so early in the morning". What do you do? Try telling him it is good for you , you will do better in your work, it is to no avail. He just will not eat.

But once in a way, we like to make something different. Something that the kids look forward to eating. It may not always be the healthiest but at least they really enjoy every bite. Waffles and pancakes top the list of breakfasts that the kids ask for. Confession time: I don't make it as often as they ask but ...

It is pretty easy to make. Takes just a few minutes to assemble the batter. Few minutes on the pan and delicious pancakes are ready for joyful consumption.

PS: My son hated the pancake introductory picture I put up and so I have promised to make pancakes again on Sunday and take another 'better' picture and update...





3 tablespoons Butter melted
1 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons Baking powder
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 1/4 cup Milk
1 Egg lightly beaten


Sift all the dry ingredients together

Mix in all the liquids (egg, milk, butter).

Make a pouring batter as shown above in the picture. Do not keep the batter too long as the baking powder will lose its strength.

Heat a non stick pan to medium heat.

Pour in a ladle of batter. It will immediately start cooking and. Toss when bottom is a golden brown. Cook the other side for about a minute.

Serve along with maple syrup, honey.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tomato Perugu Pachadi

The weather here in Chennai has been really crazy of late, alternating between hot and humid and cold and rainy. This has promptly resulted in most everyone at home falling sick, down with colds coughs or just feeling under the weather. This is the time when you feel like eating that one thing in particular which will stimulate your tastebuds and nothing else will do. My craving right now is for some super hot tasty rasam. While I go down to make me some, please go through the recipe for Tomato Perugu Pachadi (perugu = curd=yoghurt).

This simply has to be one of the easiest and tastiest raitas out there. It had a very distinctive taste thanks to the generous use of asafoetida which combines well with tomatoes. Goes well with most south Indian foods, or just by itself with rice.


4 tomatoes chopped finely
1 or 2 green chilli cut into small bits
1 tablespoon coriander leaves
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon methi seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
salt to taste
1 cup curd/ yoghurt stirred well
1 teaspoon oil


Heat oil. When hot, add the mustard seeds and methi seeds.

When they crackle, add the green chilli and then tomatoes. Add turmeric and salt and cook till tomatoes get mushy.

When done, add the asafoetida and take off the flame.

Add chopped coriander leaves and mix into the curd.

Serve with hot rice, pulaos or mixed rices.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hariyali Dal

If there is one dish that is bursting with good nutrition, it has to be this hariyali dal.... full of greens or various types, it just screams "HEALTHY!!! HEALTHY!! Spinach (palak), methi (fenugreek), coriander are all added to this dal in generous quantities.

Greens are considered power houses of nutrition. They provide the most concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals. All this despite being very low in calorie count. I guess this why our ancestors used to run around eating plenty of greens and edible leaves from different plants whenever hungry.

Greens have hardly any carbohydrates and so make for the perfect food while on a low carb diet.

This is an easy dal to prepare and is very quick to make. Lot of the taste comes from the addition of amchur (raw mango) powder which adds the necessary tang.

Now for the recipe....


1 1/2 cups uncooked masoor/toor dal
2 cups mixed greens (spinach, methi and coriander are some options)
1 chopped onion
1 teaspoon jeera ( cumin seeds)
2 teaspoons amchur powder (raw mango)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
3/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
3 tablespoons ghee
salt to taste

6 cloves garlic
4-6 green chillies
1 inch piece ginger


Cook dal with 3 cups of water till soft

Heat ghee and when medium hot, add jeera . Once the jeera sizzles, add onion and fry for 2 minutes.

Add cooked dal, greens, amchur powder, tomato, turmeric, red chilli powder, ground paste and salt.

Cook for 10 minutes till it starts simmering and the greens and tomatoes are mushy.

Serve hot with chapatis, naans or rice.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chilli Paneer

These days, there is a gradual change in the food habits of people here in India. We are willing to try out ( mind you, only try out) various cuisines and experiment with different tastes. So with the first tastes of pizzas and burgers and other American Fast food taking hold, soon there was no stopping the Indian palate. Thai, Japanese, Mexican... all cuisines are tried and tested. But you will find the Indian touch in most every cuisine served in India. The pastas with Makhni sauce, the pizzas topped with tikkas...

Chinese is one which has always been popular in India. I think more because of the Indian Chinese cuisine. The original Chinese cuisine is far removed from our Indian Chinese. But this tastes good and I think that is the point. Whatever appeals to the tongue is good!!!.

Chilli Paneer is a spicy starter which is easy to make. The bland paneer lends itself well to the ginger, garlic and chilli flavors with the tang coming from the tomato sauce. One can use firm tofu also in the place of paneer. Usually Chilli Paneer calls for the paneer to be battered with cornflour and deep fried. But for health reasons, I prefer not to deep fry food. Therefore, this other method of simply shallow frying it in a saucepan till it is lightly browned.


200 grams Paneer or Tofu diced into 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon ginger very finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic very finely chopped
4 green chillies chopped finely
1 onion diced broadly
1 capsicum diced in to 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
3 tablespoons Oil
1 teaspoon coriander leaves
Salt to taste


Heat 2 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. On medium heat, place the paneer pieces flat till lightly browned. Turn over and brown the other sides as well. Keep aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a pan. Add the ginger and garlic to the hot oil and let it sizzle ( drooling here at the thought of the aromas in the kitchen at this point).

Add the green chillies and fry for a minute.

Now add the onions and caspicum pieces and let fry for a bit. They need to be left a little crisp and not cooked till totally soft.

Add the soya and tomato sauces and salt.

Mix in the paneer and sauté gently for a couple of minutes till the flavors come together.

Garnish with coriander leaves.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bellam Avakai / Sweet Mango Pickle- Andhra Food Series

When I first started this series, I never ever thought I would know enough to continue it for so long. But it seems that I do and I am mighty pleased. I was not planning to only concentrate on this series but also have a more wide variety on my blog but I think I shall let it take its own course. I guess that is the best way.

When I was a kid, I remember eating out at one of my mom's friends houses. She served this most amazing sweet mango pickle with my curd rice. I think I have never forgotten the taste of that. Though not too much of a pickle person, I was used to eating Avakai ( recipe here ) but always with the mango piece washed to take off the spicy masala. This pickle did not need any of that. It tasted good, masala and all...

And not coming from a family that made pickles regularly, I never had a chance to taste it again.

Now couple of summers ago, I suddenly got a craving for the sweet mango pickle. Luckily for me the urge struck during the mango season when I could indulge myself. Found a recipe and immediately got around to making it. It came out very well. I now only make a small quantity as I am the only fan of this pickle at home.

So here's the recipe... Maybe a little late for this years mango season but nevertheless can still be made...This pickle should easily last a year or more ( if you haven't finished it by then....)


Raw sour mango cut into pieces - 1 kg
250 grams salt
125 grams chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
600 grams grated jaggery
250 ml til oil/sesame oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon methi (fenugreek seeds)

Mix salt chilli powder, turmeric and jaggery in a clean DRY vessel.
Heat the oil and fry the mustard and fenugreek seeds for the seasoning.
Cool and pour over the mixed powders
Mix in the mango pieces and mix really well till all the mango pieces are coated well with the powder/oil mixture.
Store the pickle in an airtight jar.
Always use a dry spoon to take out the pickle.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nuvvula Podi, Ellu Podi - Andhra Food Series

Andhra food is replete with different kinds of powders or podis. I have not seen this variety of podis in any other cuisine of India. It is eaten as the first course mixed with hot, fresh off the stove steamed rice and a dollop of home made ghee. First course mainly because the plate is still dry and one has not yet added any wet, gravy like item yet. This helps in keeping the podi-rice combination from getting soggy.
Podi is almost an instant food. Combined with rice, it is an instant meal. It is made with various dals found in most Indian pantries and flavored with red chillies and asafoetida. Different proportions of dals, chillis etc can be roasted, mixed and ground to make various podis. There are as many permutations and combinations of dals, chillis and other condiments as there are cooks. Each one will have their own personal favorites always in stock ready.

The variety of podis served up in Andhra is simply mind boggling. You have Idli podi (mixed dals), kandi podi (just toor dal), pesara podi (moong dal), karvepaku podi ( podi made with dried curry leaves, kothmir podi ( coriander leaves)... the list goes on.

My sister simply loves all podis and nuvvula podi or sesame seed powder in particular is her favorite. I thought I would learn this just to make some for her. Like I said, there are as many variations of podis as there are cooks. So this particular recipe is from my mom's repertoire. It is simple and has very few ingredients. Just the 4 main ones...

COMPARISON OF COLOURS OF ROASTED VS UNROASTED SEEDS (just to make absolutely clear, left side of the image below is roasted and the right side is raw).


200 grams sesame seeds
6-8 red chillies
1/2 teaspoon powdered asafoetida
salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil ( preferably sesame oil)


Roast sesame seeds till golden brown and fully roasted. See picture above for a comparison of colours of unroasted/raw vs roasted sesame seeds. Keep stirring while roasting to avoid it getting overburnt.

Take off the flame and leave it to cool.

Heat oil in the same pan and add the red chillies. Fry till they darken without getting burnt. Take off the flame and leave to cool.

Grind the sesame seeds, red chillies, asafoetida and salt till well blended.

CAUTION: Do not over grind as the sesame seeds will let out oil and the whole mixture will get lumpy instead of having a nice powdery consistency. Just one pulse (or whirr as I like to call it) of the machine should do it.

Serve with hot rice and ghee poured generously over.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Yam Fry

I think highly starchy foods like potatoes, yam, sweet potatoes etc etc have to rank highly on the popularity scale. Potatoes needless to say will top the list worldwide. Though much maligned now because of all the health conscious folks out there. But in my opinion there has to be some good to it too. Most foods eaten in moderation are good for you. Yams have a lot of pluses. They contain small amounts of Vitamin B and lots of vitamin C. They also provide iron. They are a very good source of energy. They need to be paired with other foods to balance out the lack of other nutrients.
They can be stored for long periods of time without going bad.

But there are a few local vegetables that are unique to each country. I think this is one of those "local " vegetables. It is also known as Kanda in Telugu, Sena Kizhangu in Tamil and Suran in Hindi.

Ever since we turned vegetarian, one thing that my husband misses is fish fry. He used to enjoy it so much. But now he cannot imagine eating it at all.
Yam fry is a very suitable vegetarian substitute for fish. It looks like masala fried fish and tastes somewhat like it too. Very simple to make. This was introduced to us by our cook lady who makes it really well. It is a very sought after dish at our lunch table.


500 grams Yam
lime sized tamarind soaked in 1/4 cup of water and juice extracted
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
salt to taste
Oil to fry


Peel and slice the yam into 2" X 3 " X 1/2 " pieces.
Boil in lightly salted water till almost cooked (do not over cook as it may disintegrate while frying)
Mix the tamarind juice and the powders.
Soak the boiled yam in this for an hour or so till it absorbs the flavors.
When ready to serve, heat a pan. Place the pieces on a medium hot pan in single layers. Pour little oil over each piece. Turn over when golden brown and fry the other side.
Serve hot.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Flaky Paratha - Long Overdue....

This is recipe is so long overdue. Exactly 2 years ago I promised this would up and running in a few days. few days turned out to be 2 years.... sorry. I apologise to all my readers out there to whom I have been promising the immediate post of this recipe.
This was supposed to be put up after my visit to Bangalore on work. We stayed at a serviced apartment where the cook churned out great tasting food each day. You can read all about it here.

Anyway, here goes with the recipe for flaky parathas. This particular recipe has a great home made taste about it. Restaurant rotis are all very well and have their place in the taste department but this tastes just like home. This is not something one can eat outside at a restaurant.

They are very simple to make, but one needs to feel quite generous with the ghee/butter. More adds a lot more taste and makes it that much flakier.

UPDATE: Feel free to be very generous with the ghee while making the parathas and using plenty of oil for frying them. Thiswill make them very crunchy and they will also look a lot more appealing.

Now for the recipe......


4-5 cups Whole wheat flour
salt to taste
3 tablespoons ghee/ butter for making the dough
6 tablespoons extra ghee as needed for smearing and for cooking
water as needed

Make a dough like for chapatis using 3 tablespoons of ghee first then water as needed. Knead well and keep aside for about half hour.

Now for the steps to make the parathas ....

Here are the steps.....

Step 1 : Roll out a small lemon sized piece of the dough into a round like for a chapati. Smear Ghee/butter very generously all over the surface and fold over into a semi circle.

Step 2: Smear ghee/ butter again over the semi circle and fold over into a triangle shape.
Roll out into a large triangle.

Step 3: Again smear ghee/ butter over it and fold into thirds as shown with enough ghee / butter in between each of the layers.

And again into a small triangle...

Step 4 : Roll out again into a big triangle and cook on a tawa / griddle with ghee until it is golden brown. Crush the paratha when hot to open up the layers.

Serve hot with a sabji of your choice.