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Monday, December 28, 2009

Stuffed Bread - Lauki, Carrot and Zucchini Masala

This is another one from the food folder. Wanted to post just pictures for now...I could not think of anything specific to add to the post..So linked it up with a similar post on Cinnamon swirl bread...This time around instead of cinnamon and sugar it is a mixed veg masala (dry sabzi) which goes into the bread (before baking)...

More bread recipes and pictures coming your way!!

Oven roasted Green peas

I love savoury snacks but have to keep away from fried food. Different varieties of sundals, kosumalli and salads are a staple in my everyday menu and my hubby loves them too. Green peas, rajma, chana, kabuli chana etc see their way into my salads, uslis and snacks. As much as I would love eating fried versions of these proteins, I have to stick to sundals and oven roasted versions of these yummy treats.

I saw this picture of green peas snack in my "food" folder and thought I'd write about it. I made this snack by chance and worked my way with the "how-to" of this recipe by accident. I had soaked some kabuli chana to make sundal for a festival and ended up falling sick. I use the cooked chana for something other than chole and made a baked snack out of it. I dint want to fry it so ended up roasting it in the oven. I am sure other food bloggers would have their version of such snacks, but here is how I "cooked" it up. :)

The process is almost the same for all the lentils/dals/bean varieties.

Oven Roasted Green Peas 
You need:
Green Peas (dry) - 3/4 cup ; (or fresh - 1 cup)
Khuzhambu powder - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Garam Masala- 1 tsp(optional)

  • Soak your dry peas overnight (6-8 hrs)
  • Pressure cook the peas (1 whistle) with salt and turmeric - the peas have to be well done but should not fall apart. (Fresh peas can go into the oven right away)
  • Strain excess water and lay it onto a baking tray to cool.
  • When it is reasonably cool to touch, sprinkle khuzhambu powder, hing and garam masala powder and mix well.
  • pour oil and mix till the oil spreads evenly among the peas
  • Leave it for a ten minutes and put it in the oven (middle rack) for 10-12 minutes at 350F (you can use the pre heat time as well)
  • Take them out of the oven....they may look half done but let them cool. They will turn crisp on the outside and remain crunchy on the inside.
  • Store it in an air tight jar /bottle

Perfect for those evening cravings... :)

I use these oven roasted bean varieties as a crunch factor for soups and salads. You could also use these peas as a base for raitha and serve with parata, jeera rice or pulav! Khao tho jaano! :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Penne and Spaghetti

This is a perfect meal for those lazy weekday evenings, especially when you run out of groceries and have one of each vegetable to a crisis to manage!?!...and such creations happen...

I buy whole wheat or the multi grain pastas; Blanch all the veggies (preferably one by one) - zucchini, carrots,cucumber, bell pepper. Roast a diced onions, stir fry all the veggies and fold in the pastas. Add enough salt and pepper, sprinkle herbs - rosemary, oregano and basil. Garnished with coriander leaves/cilantro and of course grated Parmesan...

Fast to cook and good to eat.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cinnamon Swirl Whole Wheat bread

I love Cinnamon and even boil a small piece in water and drink it with honey..(It is said to be good for orthopedic issues). Thanks to my love for cinnamon, every time I am in a baked goods aisle (in a super market), I am tempted to bring home a Cinnamon Swirl loaf. A few months back, I tried my hand at baking this bread too. All I did was to follow a simple whole wheat bread recipe, and include a step before the second rise and the baking.

We hand toss or roll out the dough after the first rise. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar powder onto the rolled out dough. Then fold it /roll it up to get that swirl...its that simple....Leave it for the second rise (covered with a damp cloth) and then bake for 25 minutes at 350F.

  • I generally bake a small loaf to allow even baking and easy slicing.
  • Know your oven and adjust your baking time and temperature settings to suit your oven. For example, smaller the oven , quicker it is heat it, and so is the cooking time. Mine is a 27" whirlpool oven and teh temperature and time settings are to suit similar ovens.
  • Sprinkle a little water on the dough before putting it into the oven..this ensures a perfect crust!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Veggie Pohe

Parched rice or poha is one of my favorite comfort food. I love it with a lot of veggies and roasted peanuts. If  you need a really filling meal in just ten minutes , then Pohe is the way to go.... :). Tamil families have been preparing sweet and savory avul (thats tamil for pohe). My paati and amma make a very yummy parched rice dish in tamarind pulp garnish. This breakfast or brunch item is called puli avul (similar to puliodarai). Avul payasam or just washed avul soaked in warm milk is a common vrath (religious ritual) food. I love the Maharashtrian style pohe with finely chopped vegetables and groundnut. I had to include the recipe for a Non desi friend..I told her that she could find it on google but she insisted that I write down my version (I dont think i have one though!)

Yummy Veggie Pohe
Ingredients: Serves 2
  • Parched rice (Pohe) - 2 cups
  • Mustard - 1/4 tsp
  • Chana dal - 1/2 tsp
  • Moong Dal - 1/2 tsp
  • Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin (Jeera) - 1/4 tsp
  • Salt
  • Curry leaves - 10/12
  • Green Chillies-5
  • Ginger - 1/4 " piece
  • Turmeric  powder (depends on you)
  • hing (Optional)
  • Cilantro / Fresh corainder
  • Lemon Juice - 2tbsp
  • Oil - 1tsp
  • Carrots (Shredded) - 1/2cup
  • Potatoes (peeled, cubed and boiled) - 1/2 cup
  • green, red and yellow capsicum (Bell peppers) - diced - 1/2 cup
  • Roasted groundnuts - 2tbsp

  1. Wash parched rice in a colander and set it aside to drain.
  2. Heat oil in a kadai for tempering mustard seeds, dals, curry leaves, chillies and ginger.
  3. Add the veggies and saute wiht curry leaves, turmeric, salt and hing
  4. Once the veggies are done, add the washed pohe and roasted peanuts and mix well
  5. Mix lightly (to avoid mashing the pohe and veggies) until Pohe soaks up the turmeric and salt well
  6. Once done, squeeze in the lemon juice and  garnish with finely chopped cilantro/fresh coriander
You are ready to serve! Enjoy maadi

How its made!
Parched rice finds its way into every cuisine which has rice as one of its staple food. Paddy is cleaned after harvest, boiled and flattened (beaten) to yield Parched rice. Parced rice is also called beaten or flattened rice. 

Popular Legend  
Use of parched rice in India dates back to mythological times (not sure of the exact CE dates) and is said to be one of the favourites of Lord Kirshna. It is believed that as a child, in his gurukula, Sri Krishna  was out herding the ashram cows. Sudama, Krishna's classmate, had accompanied him on this trip. Krishna and Sudama got caught in severe storm and were held up in the forest all through the evening. Sudama was scared but found solace and strength in Krishna's presence.
Both grew up and went their way after passing out of Gurukula. Krishna went on to rule Dwaraka and Sudama remained a poor brahmin with a family to support. After a long deliberation with his wife, Sudama decided to meet Krishna. Sudama's poverty did not allow him to buy any expensive gifts for his friend, who was now the King of Dwaraka. Sudama borrowed a handful of parched rice from a neighbour, and set out to meet Krishna. As soon as he reached Dwaraka, Krishna welcomed him with a lot of fanfare.

Image source:
Then Krishna noticed a small bundle on Sudama's waist and asked if he had brought him a gift. Sudama was embarrassed to give the small bundle of parched rice to a King. However, the omnipresent Krishna insisted on taking the gift from sudama. Krishna then said "Sudama, any gift given to me with love is dearer to me than the ones given without love."  Then he ate a handful of poha. Sudama was so happy with this gesture that he forgot all about his poverty and the purpose of this visit. 

 Image source: Amarchitra katha

Next morning Sudama reached back home, to find a mansion in the place of his humble hut. He lived the rest of his life with health. wealth and happiness. Following this legend, hindus offer Lord Krishna a small amount of parched rice mixed with jaggery and believe that Sri Krishna would bless them too.

World War Cake

I am a vegetarian and not into using eggs in my cooking. I love baking and cakes are a quick fix snack for the hubby. I had a recipe for an egg less cake and have been successful with every variety of cake I have baked. My recipes are quite simple and don't need too much work (to suit my mobility issues). I make it a point to use only whole wheat flour and not bleached or enriched or self raising flour...

Some time back, on a episode of dinner impossible, I saw this War Cake being made and was surprised. I had assumed that American homes always baked cakes with eggs and/or dairy products. This recipe was featured in the program's episode on "All American Dishes". Food Author Joanne Lamb Hayes came in as a guest chef for this episode. Among the books she authored are:

Grandma's Wartime Kitchen: World War II and the Way We Cooked
Grandma's Wartime Baking Book: World War II and the Way We Baked

As a suggestion for dessert, she mentioned World War cake, a recipe from the post depression, mid century era. It caught my attention immediately and as usual I dug into the past to American Kitchen and eating habits when McDonald was during the World War. It was time when things were scarce, expensive and very rationed. This is what led to the baking of American version of a cake sans eggs and any diary product.

This period was a major shake out time for American economy. War cake is considered to be an exemplary representation of how American homes functioned with what ever was available to them, that too in limited quantities. We know the USA as a land of abundance and mass consumption. This point about its history was rather surprising. I am not sure if this throw away society is the result of those 'everything rationed" times. It was really fascinating to find one recipe by a lady who lived during those times. (I am not sure how authentic it is but I thought I d include it in this post)

As far my research goes, I came to know about two war cakes belonging to very different time lines.One was the Civil war period in the late 1800's and later the World War period in the late 1940's. With time, the World War cakes gained popularity as being the war cake and the civil war cake faded into oblivion. I researched a dug out recipes from both eras. This recipe includes lard (not vegetarian). We can use olive oil instead.

First one is a Civil war cake recipe which dates back to 1800's.

A butterless, eggless, milkless cake.
  • 1-cup light brown sugar
  • 1-cup water
  • 1-cup  seedless raisin
  • 1/3-cup lard
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Put in a saucepan and boil for 3 minutes, let cool. When cool add.
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda dissolved in small amount of hot water.
  • ½ tsp. Baking powder
  • 2 cups sifted flour 
Use two layer cake pans.  Bake in moderate oven (350)
Can frost with maple frosting if desired.
Also delicious if steamed instead of baking and served as pudding.
By Victoria  Date of Birth:  December 2, 1892

Another reference I found online 

Here is the War cake recipe shown in the dinner impossible episode :


  • 1 pound raisins
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda


Combine raisins, brown sugar, water, lard, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch tube pan. Stir together flour and baking soda. Fold dry ingredients into cooled raisin mixture. Spoon into greased pan and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool 5 minutes in pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

I did not include my recipe here as this post was all about WAR Cakes. Will write my recipe sometime later. However, this is the basic cake I baked (similar to the War cake recipe.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Home made whole wheat bread

I started baking bread at home to break away from the routine South Indian food for breakfast menu. I am scared of eating a store bought loaf cos of all the high fructose corn syrup and the additives in the bread to increase its shelf life.

I tried my hand at baking breads in Cyrpus..i thgt i was ok!

I then saw one chef bake a white bread (on FOOD NETWORK) and decided to bake a whole wheat bread at home. I was rather surprised to see that I was quite good with my bread making skills (surprised, cos I seem to remember what I learnt in a fleeting conversation from a chef friend in cyrpus).

I have tried Spiced Italian multi grain, whole wheat and Parmesan cheese, cinnamon swirl and this savory bread stuffed with a squash, tomatoes and capsicum. I plan to bake the hyderabadi dil kush...ooh! I used to love it as a child. Appa used to bring it home for me and my little brother while coming back from work..Ah! I miss those days.

As a start to the bread series, I am jotting down a simple whole wheat bread recipe. Most bread making recipes follow a common process, we just need to vary the base ingredients to get a different bread each time :). One thing worth mentioning here is the amount of sugar or honey that goes into a home made bread to give it that store bought bread's sweetness levels. Believe me its scary...The first time I baked the usual whole wheat bread and I swore never to bake a sweet bread again! I have been making savoury bread ever since. My hubby is happy so am I. :). My apologies for not posting stage wise pictures for this recipe...I haven't baked a simple bread for a long time and I had no idea that I would write about recipes in my blog :-).

Whole wheat bread is generally a bit denser compared to white (maida - all purpose flour) bread. This because whole wheat or any other whole grain flour has less gluten when compared to all purpose flour. This means your whole wheat bread does not rise as much as white flour bread would, making it look denser. The best test for knowing if u are really eating whole wheat rotis is to bake a break and check ;).

Baking this bread (or any other bread for that matter) is all about being patient with the rise and bake time. Total time close to 2 hrs - (prep and bake time)

Whole Wheat and oats bread
Ingredients: makes a single loaf
  1. whole wheat flour  - 3 cups
  2. Oat meal - traditional cooking (rolled) oats - 1/2 cup
  3. yeast (active dry yeast) any brand will do.- 2 packets or 3 tbsps
  4. lukewarm water - 1/2 cup
  5. Salt - 1 tsp
  6. Sugar (raw) or honey - 3 tbsp
  7. lukewarm milk (boiled and cooled )- 1/2cup
  8. Olive oil - 2 tbsp
  9. Some wheat flour for kneading / sprinkling onto the baking tray/bowl
  10. Sesame seeds to sprinkle on the bread  - 1 tsp or less
  11. Milk - for brushing on the dough (instead of egg wash)
  • Microwave 1/2 cup of water and after a few seconds, sprinkle yeast into the cup
  • Stir and then allow it to stand for 8 minutes for the yeast to dissolve
  • Mix 3 cups of wheat flour, oats (rolled and old fashined cooking/instant cooking only - i dont use flavoured oats at home)
  • Add salt and honey (or sugar) into the flour mix
  • Then add dissolved yeast and continue kneading with milk and oil
  • Empty onto a well-floured chopping board to manage a better kneading for about 2 minutes (use both hands)
  • Grease you tray or the bowl you wish to bake your bread in and shift this well kneaded dough 
  • Cover the bowl/ tray with a wet (not dripping though) muslin cloth
  • Let the dough rise until double in volume 
  • Transfer the dough onto a slightly floured board and gently punch out the air
  • Divide the dough into three equal parts and roll them into long strips
  • Work these strips into a cute braid and cover it again
  • allow it to rise until double for the second time.
  • Brush a little milk on the dough and sprinkle sesame seeds
  • We are all set to bake our bread - 375 F for 25 to 30 minutes. (I generally put it into the oven during the pre heat stage to save energy.) 
  • Take care not to over-bake the bread
  • Once done , remove from pan in a few minutes (heat from your bowl/tray will burn the bread)
Cool and slice to serve!

This bread works great as a garlic bread too. Just slice up a garlic into half and smear it onto the slices. Sprinkle parmesan and mozarella onto it and bake it for five minutes at 350 F ....YUM!!!!

  • I generally bake a small loaf to allow even baking and easy slicing.
  • One thing to note about baking is oven settings. It is better to adjust your baking time and temperature settings to suit your oven. For example, smaller the oven , quicker it is heat it, and so is the cooking time. Mine is a 27" whirlpool oven and teh temperature and time settings are to suit similar ovens.

Baadaam Burfi / Khathli

I must have clicked a trillions pictures in the last few years and am kind of confused with what the next post could be. So I have started picking topics to write at random. I picked Baadaam burfi for today. It is a fairly simple recipe with minimal ingredients list and take very little time for preparation.

Dish of the day : Almond barfi / Baadaam Khathli
Ingredients: Serves 4
  • Raw almonds - 2 cups
  • milk- 1/4 cup or less
  • Sugar (raw or white)  - 1 1/2 cup
  • Ghee (clarified butter) - 1/4 cup
  • Elaichi powder (Cardamom) - 1/2 tsp
  1. Soak almonds ( 5 - 8 hours)
  2. Grind soaked almonds (I use it with the skin) and milk into a fine paste.
  3. Put a kadai on medium and put in the paste and keep stirring
  4. Half a minute later, add the sugar and continue stirring
  5. When sugar starts to melt and the almond paste are half done, add the ghee and elaichi powder and continue stirring
  6. when the mixture appears well done (raw smell all gone)
  7. transfer to the mixture onto a plate or a tray (smear the tray with very little ghee)
  8. spread the cooked mixture on this tray and let is cool
  9. slice up your brafiz and its done!

I used raw sugar, so my brafiz are brown. Also, this was a no frills. You could decorate it with raisins or cashew. or roasted almonds

Trivia on almonds  or Baadam (source: wiki)

  1. The word "almond" comes from Old French almande or alemande, Late Latin amandola, derived through a form amingdola from the Greek αμυγδαλη (cf amygdala), an almond. 
  2.  Almond is called لوز lawz in Arabic and baadaam in Persian, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Turkish, Urdu and Kashmiri. In German almond is called "Mandel", as well as "Almond". In Hebrew almond is called שקד shaqed, which has its roots in an ancient Semitic term, as seen in the Akkadian šiqdu and Ugaritic thaqid, as well as in old Ethiopic terms.
  3.  Almonds are a rich source of Vitamin E, containing 24 mg per 100 g.[16] 
  4. They are also rich in monounsaturated fat, one of the two "good" fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol.
  5. Claimed health benefits of almonds include improved complexion, improved movement of food through the colon (feces) and the prevention of cancer.
  6. Recent research associates the inclusion of almonds in the diet with elevating the blood levels of high density lipoproteins and of lowering the levels of low density lipoproteins.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Raagi, Ajwain and Cheese Roti

Ragi or finger millet is a highly nutritious grain, native to (African) Ethiopian highlands. This grain found its way to Asia, and India in particular through trade routes, over 4000 years ago. Ragi mostly grows in arid regions of North Africa, India and Sri lanka

Image source:
We find Ragi featuring as one of the staple grains in most Ethiopian, Sudanese and Morrocon and a few other African cuisines. This grain has found its way into South East Asian cuisine as well. Vietnamese women are fed ragi based dishes during their post delivery months.

Ragi flour has a distinct brown colour

Popular ragi recipes....
Porridge made with milk and jaggery (called Ragi Kanji in tamil) is a wholesome breakfast food. Boiling a home ground list of ingredients for the Kanji powder is a usual routine in our home. This kanji powder, boiled in plain water and then mixed with salt and Buttermilk is considered safe for diabetic patients.

Ragi is also considered an ideal baby food for infants 6 months and above. I grew up on Ragi sprouts and can vouch for it :-). My grandparents and my amma used to painstakigly soak, sprout and grind (in an aattu kallu - an old fashioned granite grinding stone) to extract ragi milk and then make porridge out of the crushed ragi sprout. Ragi sprouts also make a great salad base.YUM...

Western and southern parts of India have various traditional ragi recipes. Karnataka is known for the Ragi mudde, Maharastra for its yummy Bhakri (roti made with ragi) and most parts of south India have some variety of ragi dosai.

Another very yummy ragi dish is the sevai or the idiappam. Conventional idi appam is made of rice. My amma makes  ragi version too. I make my version of  ragi filled roti inspired by sattu parata. (will post more on that very soon)

Nutritive value of Ragi:
Ragi (millet) is rich in thiamin, iron and a good source of natural fiber. Good source of Calcium

I had posted a ragi roti recipe (guest post) earlier. My aunt's version was the Pudina Dhaniya roti.

Ragi roti (my version): Serves 4

Ragi (Millet) flour - 1 cup
Whole wheat flour - 1 1/4 cup
Salt - pinch (optional)
Asafoetida (hing) - 1 pinch
Feta cheese crumbs - 1/4 cup
Mozarella cheese - (grated) - 1/4 cup or lesser
Ajwain (not thyme though both smell the same) - 1/2 tsp

Knead all the ingredients together
divide the dough and roll out your rotis

Dinner is served. 

Today's specials: Ragi roti, pudina-dhaniya chutney, onion salad (in lemon juice), mixed veg and peanuts sabzi, and chole...YUMMY.

Lets eat....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Snake gourd seeds thuvayal

I had written abut coconut thuvayal and chutney recipes in my previous post. The basic difference between the two being, the preparatory phase. Thuvayal requires a little roasting of the ingredients where as chutney is mostly raw ingredients. My amma has been making this thuvayal for ever. She has her ingenious ways to get me and my brother, eat healthy. And we both were basically no-fuss kids so she was quite happy dishing out her new experiments along with the traditional vegetarian food from all over India (Ah! I cant stop bragging about her cooking skills)

Snake gourd

This thuvayal is more like a no-waste-of- good-stuff recipe. I make it the day after I make some dish with snake gourd (podalangai / potlakai ). I scoop out the seeds from the vegetable and store it for use the next day.You may also use the entire snake gourd for this thuvayal.

Ingredients:: serves 4
Snake gourd seeds- 1 cup
mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
jeera- 1/2 tsp
urad dal- 1tsp
chana dal - 1tsp
moong dal- 1tsp
hing (asafoetida)
tamarind - 1/2 lemon size
red chillies - 3/4
curry leaves - 5/6
coriander/cilantro for garnish
coconut - 1tbsp(shredded)
coriander seeds - 1/2tsp
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece

  • Soak the tamarind in just enough water
  • Roast coconut shreds until it tuns a light borwn colour. Shift it to a plate to cool
  • Use the thin film of oil left behind by the coconut to roast mustard seeds, jeera (cumin), all the dals and coriander seeds and red chillies
  • keep them aside to cool
  • saute the seeds and curry leaves and coriander/cilantro
  • Grind all the ingredients together with salt and asafoetida

Serve it with steamed rice, dosai/dosa or idli. I like to use any thuvayal as a base for thayir pacchadi /raita for roti.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dinner Impossible with Chef Robert

Another episode of Dinner Impossible and The handsome Chef Robert Irvine came home. ;)

Image source: 

I try not to miss any of his missions.

Robert overcomes culinary challenges, say a broken oven, missing ingredients, and sous chef and helpers burning or ruining a dish etc.,  and delivers a delicious five course meal before his time runs out. Each week features this exciting, fun-loving chef in a new challenge and a new location. I watch the show just to see him manage a huge kitchen and all the sous chefs working with him on the mission.

If you are in USA and have access to Food network, I recommend that you watch this show. You may also want to try out his recipes from the Food Network site

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Penne with coconnut sauce and roasted almonds

This was my lunch on one of those lazy afteernoons. Boiled whole (multi) grain penne, tossed it in coconut thuvayal and garnished with sliced and spiced raw mango, cilantro leaves, a hint of parmesan (optional) and crushed roasted almonds. Served with my favs! Banana chips. A guilt free lunch!

It was a yummy try it sometime...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lauki Juice/ Bottle gourd juice for battling obesity

People familiar with yogi Ramdev from India would be familiar with his juice recommendations to tackle obesity and diabetes.

Lauki for weight loss
One glass of raw bottle gourd (lauki/sorakkai) juice with a pinch of dry ginger and pepper powder. It works great due to its holistic approach to weight loss. It works on the digestive system as a whole and provides relief from major issues such as constipation, bloating, indigestion and most importantly provides us with water (in disguise). There are numerous other good things happening with this juice.

Image Source:

It is important to follow instructions completely. I say this because, pepper /dry ginger powder has to be added to your glass of juice. Lauki / bottle gourd/ Sqaush is a "coolant". "Heat" from ginger powder or pepper balances the "cold". It is also important to wash the vegetable thoroughly and blend it with the skin for that extra fiber in your diet. Try this and you wouldn't need those 'soluble" store bought "fiber" tablets in a glass of water!

Karela, tamatar aur keera for controlling Diabetes
Same fundamental applies to bitter gourd, tomato and cucumber juice recommended for tackling diabetes. It is better to have all three vegetables together so that any adverse effects of either of the veggies are balanced out by the other. People who are on medication or are battling ailments, respond differently to different food. Ayurvedic experts put in aspects of Vatha(wind), Pittha (bile) and Kapha(phlegm) in our body and look at ways to balance them by coming up with the list of do's and don't. It is better to follow simple inputs with care.

Bitter gourd:

Image source:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Barley, Winter Melon and Carrots - Soup of the day

Hubby dearest hasnt been coming home for lunch and I am on a single pot meal diet these days. I was too lazy yesterday and made this soup for myself.

What I did...
Just boiled winter melon (ash gourd) and carrots with some rolled barley, with curry leaves, coriander/cilantro, kuzhambu powder, turmeric and salt. Home made tomato paste worked its magic and made the soup sweet and sour. for the tomato paste, blanch tomatoes and grind them...Use the excess water for your soup. One tiny clove of crushed garlic was enough to give it a nice pep. Add a few crumbs of feta cheese and Romano cheese and you have a super yummy soup waiting for you.

Roast a pepper papad (/appalam) in a microwave for the "crunch" and you are good to go.A great way to add urad dal/moong dal (depends on the papad) to your daily meal and feel good about avoiding croutons. Ah!

A low fat, guilt free soup which really fills your tummy.  :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Worcestershire Sauce

If you thought that Tamarind was used only in the South Indian Cuisine, then you will be in for a tangy surpirse. The very popular Worcestershire Sauce is majorly tamarind pulp. Other ingredients being anchovies layered in brine, garlic in vinegar, chilies, cloves, shallots, and sugar.I never used it in my cooking as it is not vegetarian. Although vegetarian options exist, I have my doubts.


Tamarind has maximum sugar content when compared to any fruit. Acid content, however, off sets sugar flavour to give it a tangy sour sweet taste. This natural combination of flavours gives Worcestershire sauce its distinct taste.

History of the sauce...

Image source: Wiki
Quoting wiki 
"Mostly used with grilled or barbecued meats. It is also used in cocktails and drinks.It was first made at 68 Broad Street, Worcester, England, by two dispensing chemists, John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, the Lea & Perrins brand was commercialised in 1837 and has been produced in the current Midlands Road factory in Worcester since 16 October 1897. It was purchased by H.J. Heinz Company in 2005 who continue to manufacture and market "The Original Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce", under the name Lea & Perrins, Inc., as well as Worcestershire Sauce under their own name and labelling. Other companies manufacture similar products, often also called Worcester Sauce, and marketed under different brands." 

My research and understanding of its history...
Given this quote from wiki, I would like to add that although many of us think of Worcestershire Sauce as being of English origin. It originally routes its way back to India. Way back in 1835, one Lord Sandy from Worcestershire county, England was posted in Bengal, India (British India). He came back home and asked  a pair of chemists, John Lea and William Perrins, to work on creating a sauce he ate in Bengal ( I am assuming bengali version of fish (meen) Kuzhambu). :-)

Although these chemists couldn't come up with anything great, they left the concoction in a cellar and forgot all about it for two years. Before they threw it out, they decided to taste their creation and liked the fermented and matured sauce (must have tasted like balsamic vinegar). 

Thus, the original Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce came into being. Amazing marketing and promotional campaigns must have led to this sauce finding its way onto passenger ships and restaurants. As of today, this sauce has found its way into most non-vegetarian kitchens across the world.

  • Tamarind is the derivative of Arabic name for the fruit- "Tamar-al-hind" or "Hindustani dates " - Indian Dates in Arabic. 
  • Though called Tamarindus Indica in Latin, a few Tamarind is said to be of African origin : Link 
  • Other brands of this sauce have made it difficult for the original manufacturer to remain competitive in the market. So they emphasize on being the "original" on their label.
  • Thai and Japanese cuisines have their version of made of tamarind, fruits and vegetables


Monday, December 7, 2009

Suran (Yam) Vatthal Kuzhambu

Vatthal / Vathal kuzhambu means "kuzhambu" made of dried ingredient(s). "Vatthal" translates to sun dried in Tamil (with salt at times). This tamarind based gravy dish also has another variant called Vendhaya Kuzhambu (Methi seeds based kuzhambu). My ammama always made this kuzhambu variants in a stone pot called the kallu chatti/kal chatti. It is said that a stone pot adds a distinct flavour to any kuzhambu.

Fresh and / or dried Vegetables which hold up to being cooked in a gravy are ideal for this dish. Other sun dried ingredients such as Manathakkaaali/marthangaalikai, sundakkai, sun dried cluster beans etc work well too. My amma makes vatthal kuzhambu with pappadam or appalam pieces and also just curry leaves.

My ma-in-law's is known to make yummy vathhal kuzhambu and I consder this her "signature" dish.  (We have ardent fans of her vatthal kuzhambu at home). As a part of the guest blogger post spree, I thought I d flaunt her recipe. The perfectionist that she is, she went all the way out to click beautiful pictures with ingredients and then the finished dish for me in the kal chatti

Traditionally, Tamil homes have a "maakallu chatti". "Kallu" means stone in Tamil, and chatti means pot. These pots are generally made of soap stone and need to be handled delicately.

Here's her recipe...
Ingredients : Serves 6
Mustard----1 tea spoon,
chana dal---1 tea spoon,
Urad dal----1 tea spoon,
Methi seed 1/2 tea spoon
Red chilli 2
Chilli powder --- 1 tea spoon
salt --- 1 tea spoon
Pinch of LG
Groundnuts --- 1 table spoon
Turmeric /haldi - 1 tsp
Lemon size tamarind

Jaggery - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 table spoon oil
Curry Leaves (10/11)
Rice flour - 1 tsp
Suran /Yam (can use any vegetable or vatthal of your choice)

  •  Soak the tamarind in water for some time and then squeeze and take the essence of it about 2 glass quantity. Boil the vegetables and then add to the dish and boil for few minutes and finish the recipe (The vatthal kuzhambu can be prepared directly in the kalchatti. 
  • Take oil in the container, and  when oil is heated add mustard, chana dal, urud dal, methi seed, red chilli to it and fry.
  • Once the mustard crackles add chilli powder, pinch of hing powder, curry leaves Add the vegetables to it and cook {if the vegetables are cooked and ready add tamarind water essence along with it and boil} 
  • When vegetables are half done, add thick tamarind pulp, salt, to it and let it boil for some time 
  • After the vegetables are fully cooked, add the remaining tamarind water and boil. now mix rice flour with little water and add this to vatthal kuzhambu, and just keep it on flame for 2 minutes   
  • Finally add jaggery to it which will balance and add taste to the dish. 
  • You could also use Brinjal, Ladies finger, onions, sweet gourd, yellow pumpkin or chepengkazhangu The recipe is fairly simple. Try it! Before I leave..Here is the yummy vatthal kuzhambu made in kal chatti

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pudina Dhania Roti

I requested my Usha Manni (Mami) to contribute to this blog. I am so glad she agreed..From now on you will see quite a few professionally written recipes, tips and much more (apart from my musings on food).

I will be quoting my aunt here. Try her recipes and let me and her know how you did!

She wrote...
I must share what I tried this morning, for S's lunch box. As I had made cauliflower subji i had to make chappatis. thought of making poor S, my guinea pig & try out a new recipe. His luck ,it turned out well.

atta -3 handful
millet flour( ragi atta) - 1 handful
salt - a pinch
milk - 1 tbsp .
mix all the ingredients.
next grind together 10 to 12 leaves of mint( pudina)
few stems of coriander
a small piece of ginger
1 green chilli
1 tsp cumin seed
add this to the atta & make a dough using hot water. once the dough is ready smear a
tsp of oil on it. & roll out chappatis .
so the pudina- dhania chappatis are there for u to try out.

I have to tell you, she is among those bubbly enthusiastic ever smiling people who can just get you out of gloom...God bless her and the family!...So until next time..happy cooking!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rose Pulav (beetroot biryani variation)

I had mentioned about my aunt's beetroot pulav earlier and had posted my version of beetroot biryani in that post...I showed her the post and she got back with her exact recipe. I am more than happy to share it here. She mailed me a detailed version. Love her attention to detail. I can never compete with a thorough professional..right!


raw rice - 1 cup
beetroot - 3
onions - 2
red chillies - 3
coconut grated - 1 small cup
cumin seed - 1tsp
mustard seeds - 1tsp
curry leaves - 10 to 15
red chilli powder - half tsp
salt - to taste
oil- 3 to 4 tsp
cardamom, cinnamon & cloves - 2 each
clarified butter (ghee) or Oil of your choice - 1 1/2 tsp

1. Peel skin of beetroot. cut it into huge chunks and boil in 4-5 cups of water. when the beetroots are cooked, take out the beetroots and grate them. Do not throw away the water in which the beetroots were cooked. Measure 2 cups of the beetroot water(if less, top it up with water).

2. wash, clean & soak rice for 10 mins. drain and keep aside for 10 mins.

3. In a pressure pan, heat one teaspoon of oil. add cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. fry for a minute. add the drained rice and saute it till the grains fall separately.

4. add the beetroot water (which we had kept aside), a little salt for the rice and 1 teaspoon of ghee. close lid, put on the weight and cook for 3-4 whistles.

5. To the grated beetroot, add coconut, red chilli powder and a little salt. mix and keep aside.

6. take a thick-bottomed kadai. heat 2-3 teaspoons of oil. add mustard, jeera(cumin seeds) and pinched red chillies. Next add sliced onions and curry leaves and saute till light brown. add the grated beetroot mix and saute it for about 4-5 mins, stirring on a low flame. close lid and cook for 2 mins.

7. open the pressure cooker. mix the rice and the beetroot mixture gently till evenly mixed. grease the pressure pan with half teaspoon of ghee. put the rice and the beetroot mixture in it. cook for 2-3 mins on a low flame. garnish with fried cashewnuts.

Do try this and let me know how it turned out.

With lots of love,
Usha Manni.

I am posting this pic to link you back to my previous post on beetroot biryani.

Enjoy and take care!

PS: This is her recipe and I just quoted her here! take care

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oats and Barley Wonder

I have like a million pictures of food from my kitchen. Instead of posting the new entrants, I thought I'd write about all my previous experiments. I loved baking this particular cake because of a number of reasons. One of them being its nutritive value and the short and sweet procedure.

All you need:
1 cup rolled oats (cooking oats not the cereal)
1/2 cup raisins
1 tbsp rolled barley (the cooking variety)
1  1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp vinegar (white- i use organic / apple cider) or lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup light brown sugar ( can use white also)
1/2 cup butter milk
Put 1/2 cup butter at room temperature ( microwave it for three minutes)( i substitute it with olive oil)
lemon zest ( 1 tsp) (tip -better zest it on while making your batter - fresh tastes better)
1 1/2 tsp elaichi powder ( i prefer natural "Indian" flavours) (any essence is also fine)
1/4 cup lukewarm water

  • just mix dry and wet stuff as u would for a cake.
  • line the baking pan and bake the batter at 350 F for 25- 30 minutes ( now depends on your oven- so check and then the last five minutes just seal and wrap the pan up with a foil and let is rest in the oven for a few the fork/knife test (poke test) to check if its done
  •  once it is done pull it out and let it cool. 

It is a simple recipe...Let me know how it came out!..Enjoy....:)

Tip: know your baking soda and powder proportions...I have had different rise levels with different brands.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Corn and Semolina Biscotti

This was my Sunday's on the spur baking session to coax Srinath from buying a box of rusks from the Indian store. I promised that I would bake something at home. I have made regular wheat based biscotti earlier. This was my first attempt at using corn for a biscotti recipe. I have tried my hand with corn bread and cake.

Ingredients :serves 4
Corn grits (unprocessed, unflavoured) - 1 1/2 cup
Rava (Semolina )- 1/2 cup
whole wheat flour - 1 1/2 cup
sugar - 1 1/4 cup
salt - 1tsp
elaichi (cardamon) powder - 1tsp
cinnamon (dalchini) - 1/4 tsp
milk /whey/curd - 1 cup
raisins and cherries- 1 cup
cooking oil - 2tbsp
baking soda -1 1/2 tsp
baking powder - 2 tsp
Vinegar /orange juice - 2 tbsps

Making it
  • preheat your oven at 350 F
  • Mix in dry ingredients and add oil and mix well in a large bowl
  • Keep adding milk and folding in the dry fruits slowly
  • The consistency - a slightly set in dough unlike cake batter (similar to makkai ki roti)
  • spray some oil onto your baking tray or pan
  • set in the dough and bake it for 25 minutes (check if done in 15 minutes)
  • Corn tends to burn so keep checking
  • once done take it cool the "cake". slice it into long strips and put it back into the oven at 350 for another 5 minutes  
  • and you are done
I use raw sugar (brown) so my desserts come out looking more "chocolaty" 

  • You could use home made roasted almond powder in place of oil. It is a great way to avoid oil in your baked goods. Proportion needs to be - 1 cup almond powder = 1 1/2 cup oil or butter
  • Know your oven and then adjust your timing as per your oven
  • Work on the proportions for baking powder and soda as some brands tend to leave a stale metallic taste in your snack

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saambhaar Powder ? Kuzhambu Powder is the name!

The name"Saambaar" has become synonymous with South Indian Cuisine. It has become a generic name of sorts for any dish made with tamarind, lentils and veggies.

Every region in south India has a version of tamarind-lentil-veggie recipe original to that place. Tamil variety of the lentil-tamarind-veggie dish is called Kuzhambu. Saambaar / sambar is an extended variation of kuzhambu when dry kuzhambu powder and fresh ground coconut, jeera, coriander seeds, red chillies, methi and onion(optional) are fine ground to take a simple paruppu-veggie kuzhambu to another level.Telugu pappu chaaru, and Kannada Huli are slightgly different from Tamil Saambaar and kuzhambu. A slight difference in procedure gives each dish its distinct flavour and texture.

kuzhambu powder- a wholesome spice mix...
Home made kuzhambu powder has a class of its own. Packaged masalas can never come close to the amma-made versions. My amma or my mamiyaar send me home ground ones. Once I run out of this stock, I grind my own kuzhambu and rasam powder in  a mixer-grinder. It is a different feel to have home ground masalas and podis to cook your meal.

Kuzhambu powder made in different homes may have slight variations. This particular powder is my amma's recipe and proportion of ingredients. Sun drying spices before grinding them is the key to making an aromatic powder. I don't have the luxury of sun drying the spices so I switched to oven "roasting" all the ingredients.

You need:
Coriander Seeds - 3 cups
Tur dal- 1 cup
Chana Dal - 1 cup
Urad dal - 1/4 cup (optional)
Methi (fenugreek) seeds - 1/4 cup
Red chillies - 30 or to suit your taste
Black Pepper corns - 1 cup
Mustard seeds - 1/4 cup
Jeera/Cumin - 1/4 cup
turmeric powder - 4 tbsp

  • Oven roast/sun dry / dry roast all the ingredients one by one (all except the turmeric powder and mustard seeds)
  • Let them cool and then grind into a fine powder in mixer/grinder
  • Lay it out on a flat tray for a while (make sure it is away from water source or dust)...This is to cool the powder for storage (griding makes the powder hot/warm)
  • Store in an air tight container

Feta Cheese Roti

Cheese is a pantry staple of sorts in my kitchen. I have experimented with almost all kinds of cheese available in the market. This time around I had some grainy FETA cheese in the freezer. I first started experimenting with  feta cheese while in Cyprus.

About FETA
It is a great crumbly cheese with a salty flavour. It is basically a salted goat and sheep milk cheese from Greece. It was taken to Italy and further into Europe later in 1400's. Similar cheeses are made in different countries throughout the Mediterranean. My first stint with Feta (a basic curdled and aged cheese stored in salt water) was with the Cyrpus version of Feta. This cheese is slightly different from the original Feta from Greece. The name Feta is however a corruption of the Italian word Fetta (which means slice).

Feta is a crumbly, salty cheese which is great served fresh in a salad, as a slice with crackers, as a psread o bread/roti, used as an ingredient by pastry chefs.

Interesting facts about Feta Cheese
  • Traditional feta is majorly sheep milk with less than 30% goat milk. We also have cow milk feta though.
  • Since 2005, feta has been a protected designation of origin (PDO) product in the European Union.
  • Popular traditional dishes made with Feta-  spanakopita ("spinach pie") and tyropita ("cheese pie" with olive oil and vegetables). i'll write bout these vegetarian Greek dishes in my future posts.

My Feta cheese roti...
I tried a variation of paneer roti (the add to flour kind and not the stuffed recipe). It has come out really well. We need not add salt to the dough, however a little bit of oregano and chilli flakes make it yummier. The last time I made Feta cheese roti, I used a little garam masala. The combo for today was guacamole and raajma. I did not use oil to make them, so dint call them parata. Try it out and let me know and if you already experimented the combo, then you know what I mean! ;) .

PS: I dint add a picture because the roti dint look anything different from a usual roti in pictures...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Nawabi Masala Dosai

Nothing off beat about dish except that it is a usual masala dosai with a twist in the onion raw masala. The twist being, a fine ground "nawabi onion masala" spread on the inside along with the potato peas masala.

What you need...dosai batter, potatoes and peas etc fo the inner masala, and the actual twist to the dish - my special onion paste. 

Ingredients for the Nawabi onion paste - 
Romano / Parmesan cheese
Red chillies

Sounds yummy right, the dosai really did taste great. My husband went crazy with the camera.

Dosai anyone! Served with coconut chutney and guacamole

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beetroot Dhum Biryani

This recipe is from one of the Chefs in the family, Usha Manni (my mami). (We have real wonderful cooks in the family, and two members who have a professional degree in Hotel Management and Catering technology and I take pride in that!). I really look forward to anything and everything she dishes out. She is a real bubbly lady with a never ending enthusiasm to walk, talk and breath anything to do with food. I admire her for her dedication to the family. She gave up her very promising career to be a home maker. (She is a wonderful one at that.) 

Now coming to the recipe, I am sure she too must be shocked that, I learnt this from her while she made it for me during one of my visits to Chennai.The recipe is fairly simple and I hope I am doing a decent job of explaining it here. :-).

All you need:
Beetroot - 3 (small) or 2 (large)
Basmati/sona masoori/ long grain rice - 1 cup
Onion  - chopped - 1/2cup
Red chillies - 2
Green Chillies - 2
Bay leaf, Jeera, Elaichi, Dal chini, Clove - (say a tsp of all together)
Garlic - 2 or 3 cloves
Ginger - 1" piece
Salt - to taste
Oil(very little) - 2tsp
Garam Masala Powder- 1/2 tsp or less(a little)
Corriander leaves - to garnish

How I cooked it...
  • Soak the rice for about half an hour annd then par boil it with a clove, drop of oil and a pinch of salt (use an open container)
  • strain out the rice (al-dante) and let it cool
  • Wash and grate your beetroot (in the raw)
  • follow a simple process to make your beetroot masala base (similar to making a dry masala sabzi with half of the onion )
  • I went "hyderabadi" way from here; I used the oven at 375 for 30 minutes
  • Take a baking dish and rub in a little oil
  • Layer rice and beetroot masala (alternate layers)

  • close the dish with an aluminum foil
  • leave it in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes
  • Before you serve caramelize an onion (slender long slices)  and vertically slit green chillies to garnish
  • And you are done. 

    I made chepankazhangu moorkuzhambu and some vadaam to go with this yummy biryani...Chalo, khana khaathe` hai!

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    Gone Semiya Crazy today!

    This is the simplest version of full meal loaded with starch and cucumber being the only veggie in the menu today. I did not want to eat rice so went ahead with boiling a lot of semiya/ Vermicelli for three different versions of semiya for lunch. These are a take on sevai varieties made in our kitchens (expect for the thayir/curd variety). Nothing innovative about these!

    Base ingredient:

    Boiled required amount of semiya (preferably whole wheat) with a drop of oil and salt until half done (al-dante)

    Now the variations...

    Lemon (Elmichampazham) Semiya:
    just put in the same south Indian tempering you would have for lemon rice. Just mix in semiya instead of rice. I went low on turmeric this time.

    Coconut (Thenga) semiya
    same with this, use the thenga sadam (cocout rice) tempering to mix in semiya

    Cucumber Thayir (curd) semiya:
    Make a basic cucumber thayir pacchadi and add the semiya to it.

    Thats it my lunch for the day is done!

    One great tip from my Mangala Chitthi's  kitchen: (lol....she doesn't know I picked this from her)
    Use a little moong dal along with chana dal and urad dal in your tempering for poha, or any semiya/ rice variety for that extra crunch.

    Next iron chef - Features Indian Cuisine!

    Indians are proud of their "culture", "traditions" and of course their food. We get touchy when anything with "curry powder" is called Indian. Coming to think of it, the word curry powder is too generic and has been corrupted over the years since it was initially taken to Europe as a Condiment from India.

    Indian cuisine is definitely beyond pAlak paneer, aloo gobi and chicken tikka. A small pointer here, a trial to patent chicken tikka masala by some one in the UK and being called the national dish of Britain. There are more ridiculous things happening to anything and everything Indian around the world. Cant blame them, everything Indian is over 3000 years old but we don't take pride in claiming to have invented or discovered anything. No wonder others take a lead in doing it. Remember the US patent awarded for discovering the medicinal properties of turmeric in 1995. It was revoked later. Then came neem and basmati. There was an uproar by Indian across the world and matters were taken seriously. We are waking up now, better late than never... right.

    Coming to the topic, November 1st 2009 episode of Next Iron Chef was based on Indian Cuisine. For people who are not aware of this show; Next Iron Chef is a series on Food Network which basically was to choose an iron chef who later becomes a part of another series- Iron Chef America.

    Image courtesy: Food network

     Looked like except for Chef Jehangir Mehta,
     image source: food network

    None of the other chefs had exposure to Indian cuisine. Two things stuck me here, one that, for being taken in as a base for an episode, Indian Cuisine has come a long way, the other, that top chefs of this country said they hardly knew anything about Indian cuisine.

    I was a bit disappointed to see Chef Mehta not winning the challenge despite hailing from India. This episode saw a chefs lining up thorans, aloo gobi, etc. It was really a great episode but the judges fell short of being "judges" as they knew very little about the cuisine. Their comments had me rolling over with laughter. Not to mention any names but saying one of the judges said that serving plain curd was not good (did she know that Indian do have plain curd to cool their palate), and the other judge said that lentils are always over cooked in Indian Cuisine. Such things doesnt speak well for judges on a major show on National Television.


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