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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Belated Father's Day wishes for all the wonderful Dads out there including my very own. My dad has been a great inspiration and a good example for both my brother and I. We will always be grateful to him for that. We would not have become the persons we are now if not for him. Dad, We Love You.

RCI Maharashtra - Kothimbir Wadi

Maharashtra is a nature lover's place, provides loads of fun for adventurers with its lush green and unspoiled landscape. A land of bio-diversity, Maharashtra is a home to rare species of animals and birds. Hmmm.. Is there even an introduction necessary for the cuisine, I can just smell it from miles away. For Maharashtrians 'Anna he poornabrahma', no wonder the food is so rich and satisfying. They consider food equal to the creator himself. The first thought that comes to my mind when I think of Maharashtra cuisine is my friend Suchi's very appetizing meal spread. Maybe because she was the first Maratha I knew. That was probably the earliest influence Maharashtrian cuisine had on me.. and it was a very good one. She had cooked every single marathi dish for us and we have enjoyed each and every one of them.

So, this time I wanted to try something that I never ate before.. that way the traditional recipe won't influence me and I can add my own variations. The choice was made with the help of my dear friends Rady, who is a great cook and a proud Maratha and Deepi, well she is an all rounder, cooks, entertains, knits, embroiders.. the list is never ending. "Kothimbir Wadi" sounded very tempting. Uses lot of coriander, thats always a plus since I simply love the aroma of corianders and it is deep fried.. so its a treat. It could also be a nice evening snack for my hungry hubby. So, I started to look at different recipes for kothimbir wadi including the one Rady sent us. So many variations.. confusion mode.. adding my twist mode.. voila have my own recipe mode. It turned out to be such a simple and easy recipe, that everyone enjoyed including my toddler pie Nikki.

To top it all of.. hubby dear helped with decorating the serving plate and taking pics. He proudly calls himself my "Photo director". Now off this goes to RCI Maharashtra event hosted by Nupur of "One Hot Stove". Thanks Nupur, for taking the time.

Dough ready to be steamed in Idli vessel


Wheat flour - 3/4 cup
Besan flour - 1 cup
Yogurt - 1/4 cup
Coriander - 2 whole bunches, chopped finely
Garlic cloves - 7-8, minced
Ginger - 1 tbsp, grated
Cabbage and carrots - 3/4 cup, shredded
Chilli powder
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
Mustard - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - pinched

Steamed dough ready for deep fry


1. Mix wheat flour, besan flour, coriander, cabbage & carrots, ginger, chilli powder and salt together. Set aside.
2. Do tadka with mustard seeds and pinched curry leaves. Add it to the dough.
3. Add yogurt to this mixture. Knead to incorporate.
4. Now start adding water sprinkling a little at a time till it forms a nice dough.
5. Make small logs out of the dough and steam them in a Idli cooker without weight or an Idli vessel. Steaming should only take 5 minutes. Oversteaming may cause cracking of the dough.
6. Take them out. Let cool and cut into 1 inch thick slices.
7. Heat oil in a deep kadai. Deep fry the pieces. Serve with yogurt mix or mint chutney.

Note: The pieces can be eaten as such without deep frying. Tava frying can also be done in place of deep frying.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cooking for Toddlers - Not so infamous "Potato Rice"

Feeding a toddler as of now is the most difficult thing that I have done. Are you familiar with phrases such as "I don't want to eat", "All Done, Thats it" ? Do you run behind your toddler trying to feed him/her but in the process end up feeding the carpet and the walls ? Do you, after the whole fiasco sit and wonder if only they can eat without throwing a fit, how simple and relaxed your life would be ? Howdy partner.. we are totally in the same boat. My daughter is one such kid.. A total angel until meal time arrives. Then she unleashes the little devil inside. Ofcourse if there is one upside to this story then it is getting a good workout before every meal :)

Keeping that in mind, I thought I would share the recipes of the toddler food that I make for my kid.. the ones that she very rarely likes and enjoys. I am sure this doesn't mean that your toddler might like it and gobble it up.. but its just one more option for you in the tedious process of thinking what to make for him/her. First in this section "Cooking for Toddlers" comes the not so infamous Potato Rice.


Basmati Rice (Cooked) - 3/4 cup
Onions (finely chopped) - 2 tbsp
Potato - Peeled and cubed - 1/2 cup
Almonds - handful
Pulav powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Fresh ground pepper - 1/4 tsp
Hing - a pinch
Salt - as per taste
Jeera - 1/4 tsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp


  • Microwave the potato for 3 minutes on high. Set aside.
  • Grind the almonds into fine powder and keep aside.
  • Take a deep pan and heat butter / ghee.
  • Splutter jeera. Add onions and saute.
  • Add pulav powder, turmeric and hing to the sauteed onions. Fry for a minute.
  • Now add the boiled potatoes and saute for couple of minutes on low flame.
  • Add the cooked rice and salt. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the ground almond powder and pepper. Mix well on low flame for a minute.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve with yogurt.
Note: I always add hing and turmeric in most of my daughter's food as a way for her to get used to the Indian taste. Also, hing and turmeric are considered to have lots of medicinal values.

Trivia Facts:
  • Refering to its strong odour, asafetida is also called the devils dung or the stinking gum.
  • Asafetida is considered native to Iran. The trader caste of Hinduism and followers of Jainism, who are not supposed to eat onions use this as a substitute for onions
  • The "asafetidda bag", containing the paste of asafetida was hung around the neck of children and considered a remedy for cold and flu in the 1900's.
  • Turmeric, hails from the family of ginger and is considered to have ayurvedic properties.
  • It is being investigated to have benefits in the treatment of alzeimer's, cancer and depression.
  • It is considered an very effective antibacterial agent and a readily available antiseptic for cuts and bruises.
Information obtained from

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

TOMATO PULAV - The Life Saver

I came here to the States as a person who had absolutely no cooking skills whatsoever. Not that I didn't so much as take a look at the kitchen before marriage. I used to help my mom a lot.. but something like the Santa's little helper "The Elf" and not so much as the Santa himself. My mom always played the old guy role because of the fear of me burning down the house. I used to cut, clean, stir, wash, wipe, clean, serve.. but not COOK. So, you can imagine how confused I should have been when my husband took me grocery shopping the day we landed here. I had no clue what to buy. So, I came up with the simplest tomato rice.. just by guessing what my mom would have put into the gravy. Tomatoes never let u down.. the rice did turn out good. This dish is a slight modification of the same recipe. The tweaks had been adopted from the "100 Rice Delights" book by the famous culinary expert of Tamil Nadu "Mallika Badrinath". I have watched lots of cookery shows that she hosted and used to adore her style of cooking with ease. Her "Mathiya Unavu Vagaigal " - transalated as "Lunch Varieties" was one of the first few books that helped me understand cooking. My father in law brought this book for me the day before we had to board the flight. Probably knowing my cooking skills at that time he feared that I might fail to feed his son.. which probably would have happenned if not for the book :) On to the recipe now..


Basmati Rice - 1 cup
Tomatoes - 3 big ones
Coconut Extract - 1/2 cup (optional)
Garlic - 4 cloves minced
Green chillies - 6
Onion - 1 diced
Coriander leaves - A bunch, chopped finely
Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
Bay Leaves - 1
Cardamom - 3
Cloves - 3
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Fresh ground pepper - 1/4 tsp


  • Cook basmati rice in 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup coconut milk (If not using coconut milk use 2 cups water) in an electric cooker.
  • In the mean time boil tomatoes in water, remove skin and mash. Set aside.
  • Spread cooked rice on a wide plate and let cool.
  • Heat ghee in a wide bottommed vessel.
  • When hot add mustard seeds and splutter.
  • Now add the cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamoms and cloves.
  • Give it a couple seconds and add the minced garlic, green chillies and onions.
  • Add the chopped coriander. Finally add the tomato paste and cook till oil seperates from sides.
  • Reduce the flame to low. Stir in the cooked rice to this mixture while still on flame. Mix well and let stand for 3 minutes stirring frequently and taking care not to burn.
  • Remove from heat. Sprinkle ground pepper and serve with cucumber raita.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Vazakkai Poriyal / Plantain Curry

Plantain is one thing sure to be present in one form or the other in any Tamilian wedding. The tree is considered very auspicious, symbolically stands for its nature of giving raise to so many plantains at a time .. and thereby unlimited wealth. That being said, you can find the tree at the entry way at any function in our native place. There are a couple of huge plantain trees at my MIL's place , so fertile and green. It forms such a sight and is used from head to toe or in other words from leaves to roots :) . In South India banana leaves are used to serve food and is considered to have medical benefits to it. Eating food served in Banana leaf imparts a special taste and smell that nothing else can bring about. Plantains can be used for almost anything from frying to mashing and stuffing. They can also be cooked at any stage.. So if you are someone like me who gets stuff, puts it in the fridge and forgets about it.. this is your vegetable my friend. Never goes waste. It has always been one of my favourites. Amma makes so many varieties of plantain - poriyal, puttu, plantain peel curry.. the list goes on and they all compete with one another to get a top rank in my taste test. Couldn't decide then.. couldn't do it now. This is one of my own 'kitchen accidents' turned good just like Sia's "Bindi Fry in Yogurt"- Get stuff from fridge, cut it as per your moods at that moment, grind whatever you feel like, Do tadka, Mix it and Serve... Surprise surprise.. It tastes good. Just make sure to buy really raw plantains from the store otherwise you might end up with a slightly sweeter version like mine .. and that was because it was sleeping in the fridge and almost gave up hope on being discovered :(


Plantains - 2 nos
Channa dal - 1 tbsp
Urad dal - 1 tbsp
Red chilles - 3-6 nos, depending on your spice level
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Jeera - 1 tsp
Coconut - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - as per taste

For seasoning:

Mustard - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 3-4 nos


Cut plantain into small squares. Microwave for 4 minutes or until done.
Dry roast channa dal, urad dal, red chilles, black pepper, Jeera.
When they are brittle and reddish brown, add coconut and roast for a couple of minutes on low flame.
Grind into a coarse powder without adding any water. Set aside.
In a wide mouthed vessel, do tadka with mustard, turmeric powder and curry leaves.
Add the cooked plantain. Let it brown on sides by turning every couple of minutes on low flame.
Add the powder and salt. Mix well and let stand for 2 minutes.
Serve this with rice and kuzambu.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I am very new to blogging and knew the least about all the wonderful events that happen here. So, when I accidentally but fortunately came across the mention of jihva event on Bee and Jai's Jugalbandi, I was thrilled. The ingredient made it even more exciting. I have never cooked with Jackfruit nor have I seen my mom do it. The only thing that mom cooked were the seeds. She made a poriyal out of it which tastes awesome. The collection of the seeds is an entire process by itself, our mom asking us to take the seeds out of the store bought jackfruit slices and keep accumulating them in a jar that she would keep on the kitchen countertop. This would go on for days until the jar gets considerable amount of seeds to be cooked. The most fond memory of all is getting a "pottalam" of jackfruit from the streets of kutraalam after a satisfying bath in the nearby falls and gobling them away while walking back home with my cousins. Well.. long gone but still pleasant enough to remember for the rest of the time. Having mentioned that I have no prior experience cooking with Jackfruit, the thought process of what to make for the event lingered on for a while I should say. I also have very bad experiences trying to make burfis, they are never in the right consistency and we always end up eating them as halwas. So, it dawned upon me that two negatives could turn to be a positive - "Jackfruit Burfi" was the answer to try jackfruits and get over my fear of making burfis. Well, the experience was wonderful and for the first time ever, my burfis turned out great. This is my recipe for the JFI event on Jackfruit hosted by Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi.


Jackfruit - 1 cup
Cashews - 1/2 cup
Coconut - 1/4 cup
Milk - 1 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Cardamom - 1 tsp
Almonds (slivered) - 1/4 cup
Ghee - 1/2 cup

  • Pressure cook Jackfruit and cashews with 1/2 cup of milk for a couple of whistles. Remove and let cool.
  • In the mean time, toast the almonds in a little ghee. Also, grease a wide, slightly deep tray with a tsp of ghee.
  • Grind the cooked jackfruit and cashews with coconut into a rough paste.
  • Combine the remaining milk and the paste. Bring it to boil and add cardamom.
  • Keep stirring till they reach a semi solid consistency. At this point add half of the ghee. Reduce heat to medium and keep stirring.
  • When the paste begins forming into a mass and comes off the edges of the pan, add the remaining ghee.
  • Keep stirring until they form a lump and does not stick to the edges.
  • Remove from flame immediately and pour it into the greased plate and spread quickly.
  • After it cools for 30 minutes, cut them into desired shape.
  • Garnish with the toasted almonds and serve.
These burfis can be stored fresh in an airtight container for about 2-3 weeks.

Trivia Facts:

Jackfruit, Botanical name - "Artocarpus Heteroplyllus" is believed to have originated from the Indian rain forests and belongs to the family of mulberries. The tree is enormous in size and can bear fruits till 50 years. The most fruit bearing time is between the ages of 20 and 30. The fruit is considered to be a good source of protein, iron, calcium and vitamins. It is believed that jackfruit tends to be an acquired taste for most people and might not appeal to others who are not exposed to the taste.

For more nutrional information on Jackfruit, visit the nutrition data website

Visit the Purdue horticulture division link for a nice article on Jackfruit and some interesting photographs.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Shahi Tukra & Finding Harmony

Today is a special day for us.. its our marriage anniversary. Truly cannot believe how quickly time flies when you are with someone and still can be YOU. Five years have just fled past us before we could realize. Its amazing. So, today being a memorable day and all... we had to make some sweet. Every year I start with thinking of making something different and somehow after the whole brainstorming, the same kheer appears on the dining table. I very badly needed to change this tradition before my husband brings it up. Also, I wanted it to be thoughtful. The answer was "Shahi Tukra" - The Indian Bread Pudding. This dessert was typically unknown to me until I tasted it recently at an Indian restaurant. My husband loved it.. and if he loves something, then it got to be a real winner. Deciding to make it, I ran through a couple of websites that carried the recipe. They all followed different proportions and different ingredients to make them unique, making it hard for me to choose. So, I took it upon myself to try my own combination of the ingredients. This is the recipe I came up with. This is sure to be one heck of a treat for any special occassion.


Milk - 1 litre
Bread slices - 4-6
Condensed Milk - 2-3 tbsps
Heavy cream - 1/4th of a cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Jaggery - 1/2 cup
Ghee - 4 tbsps
Cardamon powder - 2 tsps
Saffron - 1 tsp
Vanilla essence - 1/2 tsp
Raisins - to garnish
Almonds - to garnish
Cashews - to garnish

Ingredients: bread, almonds, cashews and raisins

  • Combine milk, condensed milk, sugar and jaggery. Bring it to boil and reduce heat to medium.
  • Keep simmering until the milk gets thickened. This might take close to 30 minutes.
  • In the mean time, tava roast the bread slices with ghee on both sides. Take care not to burn.
  • Reserve a table spoon of ghee and use the rest to fry the almonds, raisins and cashews.
  • Add cardomon to the milk mixture and let it cool.
  • Layer the bread at the bottom of a flat pan. Pour some milk to immerse it completely.
  • Repeat the process until all the bread and milk are used up.
  • Garnish with the roasted almonds mixture.
  • Cool in refrigerator for atleast 30 minutes before serving.
Bread Pudding ready to be cooled

Trivia Facts:

The origin of Shahi Tukra is believed to be Pakistani. It literally means Royal Piece and sure tastes like one too. A very basic bread pudding seasoned with cardamom and dry fruits of ones own choice. explains Shahi Tukra as "An Indian dessert in the Moghul style, Shahi tukra, is made with bread fried in ghee, dipped in a syrup flavoured with saffron and rosewater, and covered with a creamy sauce in which decorative slices of almond are embedded."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Verkkadalai Sundal (Peanut Sundal)

There is something about steamed hot peanuts. The ones you get at Marina beach in chennai.. hmm I could still smell them. There has never been a day when we came back from the beach without a bundle of those. My grandma used to tell stories about how I would eat anything if paired with peanuts. We still have the picture of me in the frock that mom had made, sitting in my grandma's porch, munching on the peanuts. I guess I still seek comfort in it because of that deep familiarity. Even now, I always dry roast a bottle of peanuts with salt and store them. It serves as an immediate energy boost when I most need it.

Peanuts come handy for vegetarians like me because it is packed with protein and also serves as a good source of fiber.... why not when you don't have to compromise on the taste. This is one very simple recipe that my mom always made on rainy days. Takes just few minutes to make. A bowl of this and a cup of hot tea is sure to take you to neverland. It is also a healthy snack for toddlers.


Peanuts - 1 cup
Red chilles - 2 nos.
Mustard - 1 tsp
Coconut - 2 tbsp.
Curry leaves - 4 nos.
Unripe mango (grated) - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Hing - 1/4th tsp
Salt to taste


  • Steam the peanuts with turmeric powder in pressure cooker for a couple of whistles and drain them well.
  • In a kadai, heat oil and splutter mustard seeds.
  • Add red chilles, curry leaves and hing.
  • Roast for 30 secs on low flame.
  • Now add the peanuts and mix them well.
  • Saute for a couple of minutes and take them off the fire.
  • Now add the grated coconut and mango.
  • Mix and serve.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pat A Cake , Pat A Cake...

Baking from fellow Bloggers - Banana Cake

Baking - I dreaded that very word for a long time. Recently though, after reading all the blogspots and after being around with friends who love baking, I find myself getting the motivation to try it more often. I should also give credit to my 20 month old daughter. She loves cakes and I didn't want her to eat the ones we get outside that are loaded with sugar. So, I had to find alternate ways of giving her that in a more healthy, home made form.

I came across this "Banana Cake" in the "Aayi's Recipes" website. I love the blogger's way of cooking. The only modification I did was to decrease the amount of sugar to 1/2 cup and substitute it with an extra 3/4th of banana. The outcome is a moist, oh so soft cake that you can sink your teeth into. Kiddo and hubby dearest loved it. Its a very easy to make recipe, serves as a quick snack for your toddler.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Vatral Kuzambu

Copy Cat... My girl acquired this new talent recently, copying whatever other kids do and remembering that for a very long time. Although it tests my limits when she learns the "not so good stuff", I should admit that it’s pretty darn funny most of the times. Well, at least it helped in her swim class yesterday, when the only way we could get her to kick her legs was by having her look at the other kids doing it ;)

Coming to food.. Vathakozambu, a very traditional South Indian recipe, which has taken many versions along the way. My mom tells stories about how this is prepared in proper earthen pots in her native place, using just garlic and spices, stored away to be used for days. It was a staple food in our native village, not only because it didn't require a refrigerator to stay fresh but also developed a very unique taste as days passed. I remember as a little girl, its undoubted presence in every single household when we visited my numerous aunts and grandmas at our native place. I will definitely be posting my mom's version as soon as I get the proportion for making the spice powder from her. The one that I am giving here was given to me by my dear friend Laksh years ago. This is one spicy dish that is sure to please your palate.


Pearl Onions - 10-12 nos, Cut into four lengthwise
Garlic - 2 cloves, Cut into two lengthwise
Sambar powder - 2 tbsp
Gingelly Oil - 2 tbsp
Tamarind paste - 1 tsp
Mustard - 1/2 tbsp
Curry leaves
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Hing - 1/2 tsp
Jagerry - 1/2 tbsp

  • Dissolve tamarind, hing and turmeric powder in 2 cups water and set aside.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a sauce pan.
  • Add the mustard and curry leaves.
  • Once the mustard pops, add the pearl onions and garlic and cook them for 2 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add the sambar powder and fry in oil for another minute.
  • Now add the tamarind water and let boil for 5 minutes on low heat.
  • Add the required amount of salt and the powdered jaggery.
  • Continue boiling for another 5-10 minutes until the kozambu thickens a little.
  • Serve with rice and papad.
This will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Katharikkai-Verkkadalai poriyal

We have an amazing group of friends, and weekends are most likely spent with them entirely. So, weekend cooking, if we are eating at our place and not at A&K's, which is very rare, is mostly done in a blur, trying to put things together when our stomachs are really growling. This is one such recipe that occured out of nowhere. Just kept adding the ingredients and voila ! ended up with something that tastes good both as a poriyal and as a stand-alone curry. I was in such a hurry when making it the first time that I had to think hard to recreate it the next time. Now for the recipe...


Katharikkai (Long eggplant) - 2 nos.
Peanuts - 1/2 cup
Channa dal - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/4 tsp
Toor dal - 1/4 tsp
Cumin - 1/4 tsp
Dhania - 1/2 tsp
Black pepper - 1/4 tsp
Red chilles - 3-4 nos.
Dry coconut - 1/2 cup
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp


Mustard - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 4-5 nos.


  • Cut eggplant into long slits, about 2 inches each.
  • Roast channa dal, urad dal, toor dal, cumin, dhania, pepper and red chillies. Set aside.
  • Roast coconut seperately. Set aside.
  • Grind all the above ingredients to a coarse powder, without adding water.
  • Heat half of the oil in kadai and do thadka with mustard, urad dal and curry leaves.
  • Add peanuts and fry them till golden brown.
  • Now add the eggplants. Cook them on low heat for about 5-7 minutes keeping lid closed.
  • When eggplants are almost done, add the powder, turmeric, salt and the rest of the oil.
  • Roast the eggplants stirring once or twice on medium heat with lid open for about 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with some fresh coconut if desired.
  • This can be served with ghee rice or roti.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Banana Fritters

The banana fritters at PF Chang's is one of my favourite desserts. The warm rolls served with cold vanilla icecream.. hmm now if that can't lift your spirits, what can ?? This recipe is the continuation from my trial with Thai cooking. The dessert was an instant hit with my friends V & G. One of the recipes that hardly takes any time to make, but tastes amazing.


Banana - 2 (slightly firm)
Coconut Milk - 1 cup
Sugar - 2 tbsps
Dessicated Coconut - 1 cup
Oil for deep frying


  • Mix sugar with coconut milk and set aside.
  • Spread the dessicated coconut on a big plate
  • Peel the bananas and cut them into 1 inch rounds.
  • Cut the wonton wrappers into strips, one inch width (~Equal to the banana width, so that it can be rolled in the wrapper)
  • Using a fork, pick a banana piece and dip it in the coconut milk mixture.
  • Then roll them on the dessicated coconut to coat all over.
  • Place the coated banana on a wonton wrapper strip and roll. Seal the ends with coconut milk and set aside.
  • Repeat for the remaining banana pieces.
  • Heat oil in a wide skillet. Deep fry the bananas till they are golden brown, turning half way through.
  • Serve warm with cold vanilla icecream.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Sesame Eggplant

This is the continuation of the Thai recipes that I cooked over the weekend. It is remarkable how most of the recipes in Asian culture use the same known ingredients, yet carry an entirely different taste. In my opinion, recipes in which vegetables are cooked in chunks rather than pureed or chopped leave a very fulfilling feel with the taste buds. The sesame eggplant is one such. It is amazing that something that takes less than 20 minutes to cook can taste this awesome. I got the idea for the recipe from the Appon's Thai food recipes website. My modification was to brush the aubergines with a little bit of peanut soy sauce before roasting them. Also, I roasted them directly in a deep pan instead of using the tin foil.


Chinese eggplants - 2 medium ones
Sesame seeds - 2 tbsp
Butter - 1 tbsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Peanut Soy sauce - 2 tbsp (I used the store bought one. You can use any Thai sauce you like)
Salt - for taste

  • Cut eggplants length wise into half. Cut each piece breadth wise into half again.
  • Mix the salt and the peanut sauce together. Brush the eggplants with the mixture.
  • Melt the butter in a pan and toss the sesame seeds in them for a minute on low flame.
  • Pour this mixture over the eggplant and coat it evenly.
  • Now add oil to the same pan. When it is hot place the eggplants in them. Cover with lid.
  • On a low flame let the eggplants sit for a couple of minutes or till the skin starts shrinking.
  • Flip them over and let sit for another couple of minutes till it turns light brown and cooked.
  • Serve hot with rice.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Thai Curry in Coconut Sauce

We had our friends over on Saturday evening and I decided to cook Thai food for them. For long I have wanted to try the Traditional Thai Vegetable curry from scratch instead of using the paste.. and I felt "what better time than now". So, off I went searching for a reliable source and succeeded in finding one.. sorry two. Now, that was the confusion. I simply could not decide on one since both seemed very delicious in their own way. Well.. then it was endowed upon me to incorporate the two and come up with one very satisfying yellow curry. The first website explained a curry that basically didn't use any paste.. it just relied on the natural taste of the ingredients used


The second one was a recipe for the paste used in the curry.


I took both and did some slight modifications to come up with my version.


For the curry

Coconut milk - 14 fl. oz
Carrots diced into big rounds - 1/2 cup
Water chestnuts - 4 oz
Bamboo shoots - 4 oz
Edhamame/ soy beans - 1/2 cup
Peas - 1/2 cup
Onion - Sliced 1/2 cup
Red bell pepper Sliced - 1/2 cup
Oil for stir frying the veggies.

For the paste

I ommitted the shallots since I didn't have any and the shrimp paste since we are vegetarians. I also used a little more of ginger since the grocers didn't carry galangal called for in the original paste recipe (A type of sweet ginger)

Dried Red chilles - 2
Garlic Cloves - 10 nos. broiled
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece - broiled
Lemon grass - 2 (Skin removed and cut into long pieces)
1 tbsp roasted coriander seeds
1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
1 cube of the Golden King Thai yellow curry masala (subs. with any Thai curry paste)
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp


  • Broil the ginger and garlic in oven over high for a couple of minutes. Take care not to burn.
  • Grind together roughly all the ingredients for the curry paste.
  • Heat oil in a sauce pan. Add the onions. Fry till they are transparent. Add the rest of the veggies and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the paste and fry it along with the veggies for a couple of minutes.
  • Now add the coconut milk and salt. Bring to boil.
  • Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. The veggies are supposed to be still crunchy while serving. Take care not to over cook them as it might spoil the taste.
  • Serve hot with Jasmine rice.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Simple Puffs

I had some subji leftover from afternoon. It was kind of in a weird quantity, not too much to be used again for a meal and not too little to discard. So I thought of just making them into puffs for a nice evening snack when hubby comes back home. Since that is too spicy for my 18 month old, I also baked a batch of the same puffs using just cheddar cheese, basil and pepper for her. Needless to say, in the end there were two very happy people.


Cabbage Poriyal
- 1 cup
Puff Pastry sheets - 4
Grated Cheddar Cheese (or any variety) - 1 cup
Ground Pepper - 1 tsp
Dried Basil - 1/2 tsp
Butter (to apply on sheets if necessary)

  • Mix the cheese, pepper and basil and set aside.
  • Spread out a pastry sheet. Coat it with a little melted butter if directions call for it.
  • Spread half of the cabbage poriyal on top of it almost evenly.
  • Place one more pastry sheet on top. Spread the other half of the poriyal.
  • Hold both the sheets together and roll them.
  • Cut into 2 inch wide discs.
  • Preheat oven and bake thoroughly as indicated in the puff pastry package.
  • Repeat the same process by substituting the cheese mixture.
  • Serve with hot sauce / mint chutney.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Red, White and Green Poriyal

Green Cabbage is a good source of fiber and folic acid. It is also low in Sodium and is considered a negative calorie food. It has always been one of my favourite veggies so mom never had trouble getting them inside my system. Lucky me, hubby dearest is a big cabbage lover too. Surprisingly enough, both of us like it in the same cooked but crunchy consistency. This recipe just provides that. Also, I added some carrots and peas to the recipe since those are the least used veggies in our home and I am always in the verge of somehow incorporating it in our regular subjis.


Cabbage - Cut into thin strips (3 cups)
Carrots - Cubed (1 cup)
Peas - 1/2 cup (thawed, if using fresh boil them to half consistency)
Oil - 1 tbsp


Mustard - 2 tsps
Urad Dal - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves
Salt to taste
Turmeric & Hing
Sambar Powder - 1/2 tbsp

Note: If u don't have sambar powder available mix 1/2 tsp jeera powder, 1 tsp dania powder, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, 1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper powder.


  • Heat oil in Kadai and add mustard seeds. When they pop add Urad Dal, Turmeric, Hing and Curry leaves.
  • When Urad dal turns light brownish, add Cabbage. Saute for a minute. Now add carrots and peas and saute for another minute.
  • Add about 1/2 cup of water to the veggies. Cover the lid and reduce the flame to low, allowing veggies to cook (this maintains the crunchiness unlike boiling them in microwave). This should take about 5. Overcooking might make them soggy.
  • When the veggies are cooked and half crunchy open the lid and stir them to evaporate the last bit of water.
  • Now add sambar powder and salt and cook for another 3 minutes stirring once or twice.
  • Enjoy with rice.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Madras Pakoras

The pakoras made in Madras (Chennai), TN has a very different taste to them. One can normally find them stacked up in tin boxes at virtually any street corner. We love it so much that we always expect dad to bring this home at the beggining of every month when its salary day. Given the fact that mom didn't allow us to eat much of store bought snacks, it used to be a treat for our palates. This is one truly delicious snack that is cheap, fresh and easy to make. Although this recipe doesn't exactly replicate the one we get at our street corner Tea shop, its almost close. After trying too many variations, I got this one from "Samaithu Par" book by Meenakshi Ammal, first published in the year 1972.


Besan flour - 2 cups
Rice flour - 1/2 cup
Onions (slit into thin long pieces) - 1 cup
Green Chillies - 8 -10 nos. finely chopped
Ginger - 1 inch bit, finely chopped
Cashews - 1/4th of a cup
Baking Soda - 1 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp
Curry leaves
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry


Mix onions, cashews, ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and coriander. Top it with the ghee and mix them using hand.
Mix seperately besan flour, rice flour, baking soda and salt.
Add the flour mix to the onion mix and make it into a dough by adding water little at a time. The dough should fall into seperate small lumpts and should not form into one hig mass.
Head oil in a kadai. Take a handful of dough at a time and pinch them into small bits directly into the oil. Fry them well on both sides.
Take them out when they are brown all around and drain in a paper towel.
Serve with coffee for an evening snack or as an appetizer.