Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Marathon fundraising & Vegetable Biryani

Marathon fundraising & Vegetable Biryani.. well doesn't exactly go together but hey ! what are you gonna do about it !!

Its been such a long time since I wrote any posts. More than a month.. I feel bad to have let it go this far but there has been some important and demanding things going on for the past month. There was my kid's birthday party planning and the vacation we had at Florida Disney theme parks, the photos of which I will post very soon.

Other than that, after a two year long break, I am starting work from Monday , so there was this whole process of searching for a day care for my daughter, setting up my work schedule etc., Having been with her at home for two whole years, I am very apprehensive about getting back to work life and being away from her. I have no idea as to how I am going to manage this change.. but I guess we all get used to things eventually. After all you have to let go sometime.

Another very exciting thing happenning in my life - I am running the Portland Marathon this year and I am doing it to raise funds for AID (Association for India's Development) - a non profit organisation based in India. I am currently a volunteer at the AID Portland chapter and very thrilled about doing the marathon for something I very strongly believe in.

AID has been working to eliminate grass root problems in India for many years now. We have seen that the effort brings about remarkable changes in people’s life and gives them hope for a better future. To continue the good work, we need support from every one of you. It would mean a lot to me if you can please visit my Marathon Fundraising page and show your support. Every small contribution from your side is going to bring about a major change to someone's life. I hope to get all the support I need to raise this money from my fellow bloggers, friends and family. The actual marathon date is on Oct. 7th. You can also find weekly updates about my run on the fundraising page.

Phew !.. After that long talk, moving on to the recipe.. Its Vegetable Biryani. A very common food found in almost all Indian states. Its made very differently everywhere and as amazing as it is.. it tastes super good in every form. I guess thats what makes it a more attractive and mess free food. It is almost a one pot recipe.. well not really :) Everytime I make it, it is a little different in some way. This was today's version of the Biryani


Basmati Rice - 2 cups
Mixed diced veggies (carrot, cauliflower, beans, peas, spring onions) - 1 cup
Onion - 2 medium sized, finely chopped
Oil - 3 tbps
Pepper, whole - 1 tbsp
Haldi - 1 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt as per taste

To grind

Almonds - 1/2 cup
Cashews - a handful
Green chillies - 4 nos
Cloves - 3 nos
Cardamon - 2 nos.
Anise Seed - 1
Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
Fennel seeds - 1 tbsp
Mint leaves - 5 nos.

  • Cook the rice in the electric cooker with some oil to prevent sticking.
  • Once its done, take it out and let it cool in a wide basin to prevent lumps.
  • Boil the veggies other than the spring onions till completely cooked.
  • In the mean time combine all the ingredients under the 'grind' section in a blender and blend into a smooth paste.
  • Heat 2 tbsps of oil, add the pepper and then the onions and fry them till golden brown.
  • Add the cooked veggies, salt, turmeric powder and garam masala powder. Saute till the oil seperates from the sides.
  • Add the ground masala and stir fry the masala on low till the raw smell disappears. This should take only a couple minutes.
  • Now add the cooled rice to the mixture and keep stirring on low till the rice gets mixed with all the masala. Adjust salt if required.
  • Serve with cool yogurt raita.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Kesari to the rescue and MEME - 8 random facts

It has been a while since I uploaded any entry. My girl was sick.. down with viral fever and screamed for my whole attention. She is doing fine and so I am back now.. all is well.

Kesari - A sweet that is almost made in every Indian state, just with some minor variations and called by different names. I love the sweet now and have always loved it. This was one sweet that was amma made very often.. being everyone's favourite. Amma makes it with such perfection that I can still feel the taste linger in my mouth. The best part.. she heats up the left over kesari and slightly let it sit in the stove on low flame to make it all crispy for a next day mid morning snack. Was it yummy or what. So, when we decided to throw a surprise party for our friend K , who absolutely can't handle cakes (Tell me about it..) the first thing that came to my mind was to make Kesari, pour it in a tray and let it set.. so that he can cut it like a cake. Although I can't replicate my mom's perfect Kesari.. I try to do the best I can :) I love this recipe because it uses less ghee and sugar than what is required for a regular South Indian Kesari. Some people might not prefer it this less in sweet.. so feel free to adjust the sugar according to your taste.

Onto the recipe now..


Rava - 1 cup
Sugar - 1-1 1/2 cup (adjust accordingly)
Ghee - 1/4 cup + 3 tbsps
Cardamom (powdered) - 1 tbsp
Whole cardamom cloves - 10 nos
Cashews - A handful
Raisins - 1 tbsp
Safron - A pinch
Yellow Color powder - A pinch (If needed)


1. Add a tbsp of ghee to the tava and roast the sooji till it starts giving out a mild aroma and is light reddish brown in color. This step requires constant attention and stirring. Set aside.
2. Add a tbsp of ghee to the frying pan and roast cashews till reddish brown. Add cardamom and raisins to this. Fry for a minute and set aside.
3. In the mean time take 3 cups water in a deep vessel, add saffron and yellow color to it and bring to boil.
4. Once the water starts boiling, bring the flame down to medium and slowly add the roasted rava, stirring continuously to avoid lumps.
5. Reduce the flame to low and continue stirring till the water is absorbed.
6. Now add the sugar to the rava. This should make the mass a little bit watery as sugar dissolves. At this time add the roasted cashews, cardamom and raisins to this just so to stir them in easily while the mixture is a little watery.
7. The sugar should get absorbed soon and once that is done pour the ghee one tbsp at a time and keep stirring to incorporate it into the rava till all the ghee is over. The mixture should now be almost gathering into a single mass.
8. Remove it from flame. Pour it in a tray to set. Spread the remaining ghee on the top and cut into squares. It can also be served as such without pouring into the tray.

Here is your share..

Sweet girl "Sia" of "Spice Corner" tagged me for MEME - 8 random facts about me that I would like my fellow bloggers to know.. Thanks Sia. Hold on to ur seats.. its a long ride :)

1. My childhood.. I grew up with my grandma and grandpa till I was 4 years old. I vividly remember my grandma cooking in that huge kitchen and my grandpa reading his newspaper in the balcony. Still gives me goose bumps when I think of it.. I was a very content kid. Apparently while I was in kinder garden when all the other kids were crying out loud coz' they miss their mommies, I was the one sitting in the center enjoying the whole funny scenario. Has been a MEAN one looks like... :)

2. My Family.. The two most important people in my life.. my Amma and Appa.. Love them to death. When I was a teenager and a rebellious one, I used to get mad at them for not letting me do so many things.. but now after having a kid I kind of understand why they did what they did. Now I believe that it takes so much energy, courage, strength and dedication to be a parent and I am sure that my mom and dad were real good at doing that. If not for them I would not be here..

3. My bro.. I am very close to my brother. We have kept no secrets from each other whatsoever. My brother is my rock. A loving, adorable and giving person. Appreciates the culinary art.. not many men do that :) He used to save money throughout the year just to get me gifts on my birthday. The first Raksha Bandhan after he got his license he took me to the busy streets of T.nagar and let me indulge in whatever I wanted. That has been a tradition ever since. Only now we are way apart from each other to have that kind of fun. Love ya Bro.

4. Hubby Dearest.. Before getting introduced to dear hubby, I never dreamed of getting married to someone whom I saw only in photographs or with whom I hardly spoke for few minutes. My dad was thoroughly surprise when I agreed to marry him after only talking to him for 10 minutes.. this was all when I was doing dharna to even get married in the first place. Guess you do fall for it when the right one comes along huh ?? Although we had very regular phone conversations for almost 6 months, we actually met only a couple days before marriage. I guess the fact that he trusted me without having to see me or talk to me for hours, made me realize that I could do the same in return. That's how our marriage works.. After all I guess that's why every single successful marriage is "successful".. TRUST.

5. My very favorite lines .. are from Robert Frost

The woods are lovely dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep

I remember the very moment when our English teacher was reading this out loud in the class and me thinking that I am going to remember these lines forever.

6. My hobby.. I used to do compiring and story reading for a news channel in Madras. I did that for almost 4 years when I was still in my college. Remember getting paid Rs. 1000 for that every month.. that was a good amount of money for a college girl. Came handy for a lot of things :) I also learnt to do a little bit of knitting. Although recently acquired interest is jewelry making. It has gone beyond control that I have started visiting the local craft store as frequenly as I would do groceries :)

7. My Buddy System.. I should mention about my fantastic Girl Friends. They are my sanctuary.. The time I get with them plays a major role in saving my sanity. We all are different yet similar which makes it more interesting.. I do hope we all grow to get closer by the day. Not that there is much space for anymore closeness ;) we are almost always together during weekends.. and as our husbands make fun, we spend our time mostly discussing about food, preparing it or eating it :)

8. Finally... my sweetest little angel, Cheeni pottalam (Bundle of Sugar) as her Dad calls her.. our little kunju Nikki (Nikita - meaning sharp). I will ever be thankful to her for making the most depressing years of my life truly amazing and colorful. If not for her it would have been difficult. I should say she turned my life upside down.. in a very good way. Well, we do have our crazy moments but it all passes too quickly to even remember. Her smile and a single hug with that sweet "Mommy.. I love you" is just about enough to make me forget everything else. Although most of the times she uses it to get things done her way.. it still stops me right on my track. Never in a million years would I have thought that I can love someone so dearly and unconditionally.

Well.. had load of fun walking down the memory lane. Hope you guys had fun reading them too. There you go.. now you all know a little more about me :) Thanks again Sia.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Madras Style Morkozambu

Time just flies by these days. There are so many things to take care of and all of a sudden it feels overwhelming. Blogging was put in the back burner I guess although there was not a single day that passed by without thinking how irregular I have become in writing down my recipes. Well.. I sure don't want to give up. Its one of the best outlets I have got in a long time and I am not ready to let go of it anytime soon. So, here I am at 11 in the night.. trying hard to stay awake and continue to blog. Now I realize how hard it should have been for all my fellow bloggers to have come this far. Kudos to every single one of them, out there making an effort to give their best.

If there is a very simple South Indian dish with most of the material needed to prepare readily available, I should say it is Morkozambu. The very simplicity of the dish paired with the fact that it can be tailored to ones tastebuds makes it stand out from the rest of the crowd. This was one of my mom's very frequent dishes. Dad, brother and I had different taste preferences. My mom used to go nuts even trying to decide what to get to the table everyday without us killing each other... leave alone the process of preparing it. But this one always came to her rescue. Especially my brother, whose soul is very hard to satisfy, attains its fulfilment when this dish is served. This was universally liked in our household.. no complaints whatsoever. Now on to the recipe that made everyone happy.


Yogurt / Buttermilk - 2 cups (If using Yogurt, churn it into buttermilk)
White pumpkin - cut into cubes - 2 cups (sauted okra can also be used in its place)
Rice - 1 tsp
Channa dal - 2 tbsp
Green chillies - 3-4 nos
Ginger - 1 inch cube
Jeera - 1 tsp
Coconut - 1/2 cup
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Coriander - 1 tbsp (finely chopped)
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad Dal - 2 tsps
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste

  1. Soak channa dal, rice, jeera, ginger and green chilles in 1/2 cup water for about an hour.
  2. Churn the yogurt adding a little water. Make it into buttermilk consistency.
  3. Add turmeric powder, hing and salt to this.
  4. Also add the cubed pumpkin.
  5. Heat it on a low flame and bring to boil. Mix with a laddle and let boil for 5 more minutes.
  6. Grind all the soaked ingredients along with coconut and add it to the buttermilk mix.
  7. Let boil till the pumpkin gets cooked and the raw smell disappears. This should take about 7-10 minutes.
  8. In the mean time, do tadka with mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves.
  9. Add this to the buttermilk mixture. Add the chopped coriander leaves.
  10. Let boil for another couple minutes, slowly stirring in between.
  11. Serve with hot steaming rice.

This is one easy recipe to make. Very less time consuming and tastes yummy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Healthy Vegetable Kichedi

I guess I am back after a short break. Not that anything important has been going on.. but there has been some ad ons here and there that made the normal life Oh so hectic. Well.. now that I am back, I feel good. I have been cooking dishes and taking pictures, with just absolutely no time to do a write up. Sia Dear, Thanks for being concerned. It does make one feel good when people miss you. This week started pretty good with an awesome weekend away with friends to the Oregon coast. It started off with an early breakfast at A & K's place as usual (They are pretty much our food source for the weekend). Then off we drove to the coast, some 15 of us. Played some volley ball.. ate some awesome pizza... and chatted our time away to glory. As my husband described it.. perfect weather, perfect company and perfect Pizza. One of our girls, our dearest friend S is going to relocate. I hope this weekend would be a good memory for her for years to come. Hoping to spend many more weekends like this with my buddies. Well.. I might just get carried away if I start talking about the fun we have.. So onto how Kichedi appeared at my kitchen countertop.

After cooking for the brady bunch (and then some..), for the entire weekend, our dear friend A fell sick. It feels bad to see someone so active and up on her toes all the time, sitting still and suffering. This was probably the only thing I could do to make her feel a little better.. cook up some comfort food. Hot and Healthy to give her some boost. Onto the recipe now..


Rice - 1 cup
Toor Dal - 1/3 cup
1/2 cup Potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup Carrots, sliced
1 long Eggplant, cut into big chunks
1/2 cup Onions, thinly sliced
2 tsps of ginger garlic paste
Mustard - 1 tsp
Jeera - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Urad Dal - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Roast and grind into powder (I always do this in advance and store)

Red chillies - 2 nos (can adjust according to spice level)
Dhania - 1 tbsp
Jeera - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch stick
Cloves - 3-4
Elaichi - 1-2 nos
Saunf - 1/2 tsp


  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker directly. Add mustard, Jeera, Urad Dal and curry leaves.
  • After mustard splutters, add the ginger garlic paste and saute.
  • Now add the onions, saute for a couple minutes and add the veggies one by one, sauteing each for a minute as you go.
  • Add the ground powder to the veggies along with the salt and turmeric powder and mix well. Saute this for about a minute.
  • Now add the rice and the toor dal. Mix everything and immedietely pour water. There should be a couple of inches of water standing above the mixture.
  • Close the lid and pressure cook it for 5-6 whistles. This should generally cook longer to get the semi-solid consistency.
  • Open the pressure cooker. Pour the melted ghee on top and mix once before serving with yogurt and lime pickle.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Katharikkai Kichedi Kuzambu - JFI Eggplant

Eggplants, Katharikkai as called in Tamil Nadu - a Foe turned into Friend. Never used to like them till before marriage. I guess I started appreciating them only when I stepped foot in the US and truly found how difficult it is to get some good old Indian veggies here. It then dawned on me that I was being punished for hating those cute little "eggplant" guys. I started to crazily buy Indian veggies whenever I see a fresh one .. The love for eggplant should have started then. My mom used to cook many varieties of dishes using eggplant. Her stuffed baingan being my favourite. My brother, who was not a big fan of them then, used to pick a big fight with mom whenever she makes them. Well.. gone are those days. There comes a time when everyone realises the goodness in "Eggplants" :) The huge eggplants that one can find here.. well it was not of much use to me until my husband taught me the art of seasoning and deep frying them. Oh my God.. thats pure heaven. The real winner though was my mother in law, who while visiting US taught me this "Kichedi Kuzambu" using the big eggplants that you get here. I never thought I will like Kichedi Kuzambu using katharikkai.. but one has to taste to know. The dish was a huge success and has become a regular at our household.

So, when the JFI event for eggplant was announced, I immedietly knew what to make. The easiest and the simplest.. but doesn't compromise in taste. Now on to the recipe and then off it goes to the "JFI - Eggplant" event hosted by "Sangeeta of Ghar ka khana". Thanks Sangeeta for hosting the event.


Eggplant - 1 medium sized
Onions - 1 cup
Slit green chillies - 2
Red chilles - 2-3
Curry leaves
Tamarind paste - 1 tsp
Urad Dal
Channa Dal
Turmeric powder

Eggplant roasted and ready to be peeled
Mashed eggplant
  • Cut the eggplants into big chunks
  • Roast them in a deep tava with 2 tbsps oil on medium high until cooked. The skin should be glossy and wrinkled.
  • Take them out and let cool. Once cooled remove the skin and mash the eggplant coarsely.
  • In the same tava, heat 1 tbsp of oil.
  • Burst mustard seeds, urad dal, channa dal and curry leaves.
  • Add the mashed eggplant, 1/2 cup water and the tamarind paste.
  • Also add turmeric, hing and salt.
  • Let boil until raw smell from eggplant disappears.
  • Add curry leaves at the end and let simmer for a couple minutes.
  • Garnish with coriander.

Note: This can be had with ghee, rice and pappad.