Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rasmalai with ricotta cheese

Making Rasmalai the traditional way is a time-consuming process and you should get each step right (paneer, rasgulla) for your rasmalai to taste yum. There's this short cut way of preparing this dessert by using Ricotta cheese. Actually, kudos to the brilliant mind who came up with the idea of making an Indian sweet with cheese. Got the recipe from my cousin. Her recipe with my modifications is what I made for Diwali and it tasted so good. Couldn't resist eating them all myself.

  1. Ricotta cheese - 15oz tub
  2. Sugar - 1/3-1/2 cup for making the patties; about 2-3 spoons for the milk syrup
  3. 2% milk - 2 cups
  4. Half-and-half milk - 1 cup
  5. Elachi pods - about 7,8
  6. Pista and badam - handful
  7. Saffron strands - a pinch
  1. Boil the 2% milk in a non-stick pan on a low flame with 2 spoons sugar added. Make sure you stir the milk now and then in between so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
  2. Warm a spoon full of milk and soak the saffron strands in it. Slightly twist the strands with your fingers so that milk gets the saffron flavor and color.
  3. Mix the ricotta cheese and sugar (1/3rd - 1/2 cup) in a bowl by constantly whipping with a spoon until a smooth mixture is formed.
  4. Take a muffin pan and spoon the cheese mix into the cups. 15oz ricotta makes about 12 rasmalai patties. So, evenly distribute the cheese into 12 parts.
  5. Cook on 350F for atleast 20 minutes in the oven. After 20min, keep pricking the pattie every 5 minutes with a toothpick until its done.

  6. Using a spoon carefully remove the patties from the pan. They'll be quite soft, so handle them carefully lest they should break.
  7. After the milk has thickened in consistency, pour in the half and half milk. Now, half and half is already enough thick. So add it towards the end of the boiling process, otherwise it would taste buttery when boiled for a long time.
  8. Take some pista, badam and grind them along with elachi/cardamom to a somewhat fine powder. Add this to the boiling milk. Doing so, imparts a rich badam-milk kind of flavour to the milk. Use just a few elachi pods, rasmalai has a very subtle flavour of elachi unlike kesari or kheer.

  9. Continue boiling the milk for about 5-10 minutes after adding the half and half. Remove from gas and let it cool. Add more sugar if needed. Add the milk containing saffron to this and stir.
  10. Arrange the patties in a tray and pour the milk.
  11. Sliver the remaining nuts and garnish over rasmalai.
  12. Refrigerate for atleast 6 hours before serving so that the pattie absorbs the milk.
Of late, most of my posts have been centered around sweets. Now that Diwali, the last festival of this year is over, no more sweets for me until the New Year. But you know what, while making rasmalai I figured out something interesting. The pattie soon after baking tasted so much like the milk-sweet Kalakand. On the next occasion to prepare a dessert, I'll try to make Kalakand with ricotta. Till then, adios to sweets!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pineapple Sheera

A typical Maharastrian sweet served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Until I started working in Pune, I did not know that sweet can be had at breakfast time too. Back in the lunch room at our office, the caterer would make pineapple sheera for breakfast. I loved it so much that I would usually skip lunch that day by eating 3-4 rounds of this sweet alone.

Actually, making this at home is pretty simple. No different from the traditional rava kesari excepting for the pineapple part. For the recipe, I followed veggiescookbook.blogspot.com. The blog, however, has been removed recently. For the recipe, I'd say keep the ingredients for rava kesari ready, along with fresh pineapple chunks and a pinch of saffron.

  1. Fry the rava
  2. Boil the pineapple chunks either on stove-top or in microwave. Dont let them get mushy.
  3. Take the leftover water from boiling the pineapple and bring it to a boil on the stove-top.
  4. Add rava while stirring constantly. Cook on low flame, adding more water as required.
  5. Add ghee, and continue stirring until the rava gets cooked. Add required quantity of sugar after this. For a cup rava, I add a cup sugar.
  6. Take the boiled pineapple chunks, cardamom powder, ghee roasted nuts, saffron soaked in milk and ass them all to the kesari.

Few things to note are:
  1. Don't even try to make this with canned pineapple. Its going to suck! I trashed away the entire pot full of kesari I once made with canned pineapple chunks. That was 1/2 hour of effort... Sigh!
  2. Use fresh pineapple that's really sweet. Otherwise, unless you tell people its "Pineapple Kesari", it would easily pass for the plain old rava kesari.
  3. If you take x cups of rava/sooji, take 2x cups of the pineapple chunks.
  4. And finally, the typical kesari tip. Be cautious with the amount of water you add, otherwise it'll turn watery. For fine rava, I use like 2.5-3 cups water for a cup of rava. Cooking with lid on low flame ensures that the rava gets cooked without requiring too much water.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Vijaya Dasami - Dasara - Dussehra: However you call it, its a festival that marks the victory of Good over Evil. A very special festival for the Hindus in India. Dasara and Deepavali are usually spaced 3 weeks apart with Ramzan somewhere in between, before or after. So, all in all, 3 festivals to be celebrated in a short period of 1-1.5 months. The retail stores cash in on this, and put up lighting, sales banners, what not, to attract customers. Ah! Love the festive look on the market streets back in my hometown. Visakhapatnam.

While living in India, I used to look forward to these festivals since mom would feed us all those yummy delicacies. Sadly here, I got away with the Dasara celebration making just one sweet - Chandrakanthalu. Its a sweet popular in the north coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh. Kind of tastes like burelu without the crust. Looks something like this:

Oh! no.. they are not meat balls :) Made it for the first time, wasn't as good as what my aunt (who's an expert at this sweet) makes looks-wise, but taste-wise they were okay.

  1. Moong dal - x units
  2. Sugar - x units
  3. Elachi/cardamom - as required
  4. Fresh Coconut - like 2 spoons for 1 cup dal
  5. Oil for deep frying
  1. Soak the moong dal for atleast 3 hours
  2. Remove all the water and grind the dal to a coarse paste in a mixer. Add water in small quantities while grinding. You don't really need a smooth paste. The mistake I did was adding lot of water while grinding.
  3. Take a thick bottom vessel and add the required quantity of sugar. Pour just sufficient water so as to cover the sugar and boil to make a sugar syrup. Again, be careful with the amount of water used in this step too.
  4. Once the sugar has all melted, add the moong dal paste and cook on low flame with constant stirring. Essentially, moong dal should cook in the sugar syrup. even if you stop stirring for a moment, the dal would burn. Takes about 5 minutes for 1 cup dal to cook completely. Since its already crushed into smaller particles, the dal shouldn't take long to cook.
  5. Once cooked, add grated coconut and elachi powder.
  6. Assuming all went well, that is, you got the amount of water right, the cooked dal should have a halwa-like consistency. Pour it on a greased flat plate and cut it into small squares just like you cut mysore pak or other such sweets. The squares shouldn't be thicker than half-an-inch else when you fry, the interiors would remain raw.
  7. Give it some time to cool.
  8. Meanwhile heat sufficient oil in a kadai. Take out each square that you just cut and drop it in the oil. Fry until it turns golden brown and flip sides. They can burn quite quickly, so remove as and when they turn golden-to-deep brown.
  9. Serve hot and crispy chandrakanthalu! This sweet is a perfect example for "no one can eat just one". Try it yourself, and you'll have to agree with me.
Because my moong dal paste was slightly watery, I could not cut out the cakes. So took spoonfuls of the paste and fried.

After snacking endlessly on chandrakanthalu, we decided to visit the temple. And guess what, there was this amazing "bommala koluvu" put up for public viewing. I always loved the idea of kolu but never saw one directly, since none of my friends and relatives follow this tradition. And here, in a land far far away, I got a chance to appreciate an Indian tradition. Strange, huh? Actually, even in India, if bommala koluvu is kept in temples like here, more and more people will be able to look at it. I just couldn't take my eyes off all those little dolls, they were all so cute and pretty. Mostly the kondapalli wooden toys sold in Handicrafts showrooms like Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh. Some pictures from the Shiva-Vishnu temple, San Diego:

Signing off, looking forward to Diwali!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vegetable Omlette

I know there isn't much to write about the making of an omlette, one of the several quick eats that can be had at home. But then, a couple of tips that would result in a really fluffy omlette are what I wanted to share.

When I first started to make an omlette, they would end up looking like a dosa while tasting like an omlette. I mean, they were so flat unlike the ones we have at these good breakfast places like IHOP. I was told that the only way to really puff up your omlette is to add lot of oil or butter. The calorie freak that I am, I would prefer a dosa-like omlette to a pancake-like high calorie omlette any day. But now, after lots of Googling, I figured out the way to make really fluffy omlettes.

Here are the tips:
  1. The secret zero calorie additive that makes a soft and fluffy omlette is water. Yes, you read it right - water! Beat the egg, add 1-2 spoons water per egg and whip the mixture really well. The color should change from deep yellow to lemony yellow with lots of froth.You don't really need an electric blender for this, a simple whip will do.
  2. If you plan to add veggies like onion, tomato, chillies, do not add them to the egg mixture. Add some salt and pepper to the whipped egg and pour it on a slightly greased pan. After a minute or so, add the veggies. Earlier for my convenience, I would add the veggies after whisking the egg and pour them all at once. But no, don't do that. Give the basic egg mix a little time to cook, before adding the toppings.

This one right here should give you an idea of the thickness of the omlette. Used just one egg for this.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pudina Pulao with Mix Vegetable Curry

Looks like a time-taking recipe, but trust me, the combo can be cooked in just about half hour.

Pudina/mint pulao's been inspired from Mahanandi.

Coming to veggy curry, I got a chance to taste this at a friend's house. She's this terrific cook and a sweet talker who I'm sure would rock the food-blog-world if she starts blogging on a serious note.

The curry just takes 15min to be ready, seriously.. :) All you need is to have a tin of Trader Joes "masala simmer sauce" in your pantry. Its this tomato based sauce with all the Indian kurma spices included in it.

Here's the curry recipe:

  1. Trader Joes "Masala Simmer Sauce" - 1/3 tin
  2. Potato - 1 medium size
  3. 1 cup Frozen veggies (carrot, beans, corn and peas) or fresh veggies - your choice
  4. Cashewnuts - 4
  5. Khus-khus/poppy seeds - 1 tsp
  6. Shredded coconut - 1/2 tsp
  1. Break the whole cashew into small chunks and soak them along with khus-khus and coconut in a small amount of milk. I suggest you do this atleast 2 hours in advance, so that the poppy seeds can be easily blended in the mixer.
  2. Cube the potato and microwave until they are 75% cooked.
  3. Heat a spoonful of oil (not much reqd since the sauce already has enough oil) and toss the boiled potato and the mixed vegetables. Add some salt (just sufficient for the vegetables, sauce contains salt too)
  4. Cook on low flame with lid covered until the veggies turn tender
  5. Add the sauce and may be half cup water to the vegetables.
  6. Simmer for about 5min.
  7. Grind the cashew-poppy-coconut mix to a not-so-smooth-not-so-coarse paste. Its okay if the poppy seeds aren't crushed completely.
  8. Add this paste to the gravy, stir the contents and serve hot with yummy yummy pudina pulao and curd.

Friday, August 28, 2009


A decade ago, when I was first introduced to the pizza, my first impression was that its one complicated thing with so many ingredients and could never be made at home. Also, who wants to take the trouble making it, when its just a phone call away. With so many pizza stores mushrooming everywhere making fancy claims like: "Delivery in 30 min or money-back", flooding our mailboxes with all those coupons, etc etc, it never once occured to my mind to actually try to make a "home-made pizza" until I saw the nutrition guide on pizzahut.com. 800+ calories in one single meal???? Got the shock of my life and started trashing away all those coupons in the bin right next to the mailbox, even without bothering to look at what they've got to offer new.

The hunt for recipes started then. Realized it isn't as difficult as I once thought. The main ingredient is the pizza dough. You can either choose to make it at home, or buy a readymade dough. I baked like 3 pizzas till now, and never once kneaded the dough myself. Trader Joes carries a wonderful pizza dough in the cheese section. It comes in three flavours/types - plain dough, wheat dough, garlic & herbs. Having tried them all, plain dough has emerged a winner in my home. :)

If you use all store-bought ingredients like I did, pizza can be made in as less as 30min. For the sauce, I use Prego "traditional" sauce. If you like herbs, you could use Oregano, Basil, and other Italian seasonings.

I'll now descibe the pizza-making process picture-by-picture:

Let the dough sit for about 15 min on a slightly flour-ed surface. In the meantime, get ready with your toppings. For a veggie pizza, I use onion, green capsicum, tomato, jalepenos, black olives and pineapple chunks.

Slightly grease a baking pan/pizza stone and spread out the dough evenly. This is the hardest part of pizza-making. You could use a rolling pin, if it helps.

If you choose to add herbs, do it now. I dusted some garlic powder too.

Generously spread the pizza sauce leaving an outer border of about 1 cm on all four sides. Prior to adding the sauce, you could add some olive oil if you wish.

Now comes the fun-nest step. Decorate the pizza with your choice of toppings.

Cheese. IMO, Mozarella is the one for pizza. Don't be too stingy with the cheese, while at the same time, don't add too much either.

I usually sprinkle a spoonful of pizza/pasta sauce along with some more herbs on the cheese layer.

Bake at 450F for 10min. You'll know when its ready. The smell that gets filled up in the room.. Ahhh! If only smell could be digitized, I could have sent it to my mom back in India to tell her that the smell that emanates from the oven is more filling that the pizza itself. :)

Oh! So restaurant-y

I know its hard to resist temptation, but its important that you leave it to cool for 10min and then run a pizza cutter/knife through.

After looking at the nutrition labels of all the ingredients (using cheese made from 2% milk), I came up with the magic number 300. That's the maximum number of calories in a pizza made with half pound dough. Now, this is what I call guilt-free indulgence.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Medu vada/garelu

Vada/vadai/garelu (in telugu) has been my favourite breakfast item since childhood. As I already mentioned earlier, while at home, I never ever bothered to look how something is made. Mom feeds, I eat, that's it :) Its only after I began to cook that I realized making garelu isn't my cup of tea. But my craving for vadas doesn't end even though I can't make them. And talking about Indian restaurants in San Diego, sheaaaa!! I am a much better cook than any chef at these places.

The solution to my problem was to make "hole-less" vadas.. :D I know its funny, but I just don't get the vada-with-a-hole ever right. So both of us kind of compromised on the shape of the vada. After all, who cares about the shape when they do taste good. This was until my ma-in-law came and made garelu, the way they were meant to be made. Maannnn! They were so crispy, so light, evenly cooked, what not. But I was scared to drop the vadas in hot oil like she did. More days pass by, she goes back to India, and I get back to my spherical vadas, and then this friend drops by, I offer her my vada, she laughs at it lacking a hole, though she says it tastes good. A day later, she emails me that there is indeed a gadget for vada-craver-no-maker like me. :) Had it not been for her, I would have spent all my life making golu-golu vadai, and may be even telling my children-to-be that this is what a vada looks like. :)

And then, I share this exciting news of vada maker with my mom who's already packaging a bunch of things for me. In goes the vada maker, and here it comes travelling across oceans to give me the boundless satisfaction of making the "holed" vada.

That's the story part.. Recipe, a very popular one, can be found on vahrevah.com. Even if you know the recipe, I suggest you take a look at the video. His aeration technique helped me make softer and lighter garelu.

Now this vada maker thingy did a mind-blowing job for the first batch of say 10 vadai. After that, the batter stuck to the bottom of the tool and didn't fall out of it as freely as it did for the initial round of garelu. Probably it needs to be cleaned after every batch. I had the bestest vadas in round 1 and because I felt lazy to clean the gadget, my batch 2 vadas ended up looking like shrimp and crabs. :)

Here are the clicks:

The vada-maker:

Batch 1:

Batch 2:

And once upon a time,

FYI, some of the objects arranged in a circular fashion above are garelu, the rest being burelu. Hardly distinguishable, ain't they? :) I had to weigh each piece to determine which is which. The heavier ones are sweet and the lighter ones vadai. Hahhahhaaa.. I have come a long way from Pic#4 to Pic#2, haven't I?

IMO, vada-maker is the most innovative kitchen tool ever invented. If you're like me too, scared of dropping the vada-with-hole batter into oil, this will amaze you.

All's good about the vada maker except for the cleaning part. Its sort of complicated on the inside, the design, and hence cleaning becomes tougher. With all that sheet metal, I even got my fingers pricked. :( So, be careful while cleaning.

On a concluding note, thank you dear S. I'll forever be grateful to you.. :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vanilla cupcakes

A simple cake was all I wanted to bake for a long time. The one I remember eating from my Mom's kitchen long long ago. Neither she remembers what the cake is called nor does she remember the recipe. So, I gave up all hope of baking the simplest of simple cakes. This was until Lakshmi blogged her plain cake recipe. So, this was it. "Plain cake" - so simple a name, yet I never knew about it. A zillion thanks to dear Lakshmi. Both me & my husband love it.

Recipe is exactly as shown in the blog referred to. However when you're making cupcakes out of this batter, make sure you only fill the cup until half-full. This is very very important. For all other muffins that I make from instant cake-mixes, I generally fill-up the cup until 75% full and they always come out neat and nice. But with the "plain cake" batter, I had a terrible experience the very first time I tried the much awaited recipe. As usual, the cup was filled upto 75%. Within 10 minutes, I smell something really yummy. Quickly rush to the oven to see the status. My!! the batter puffed up and the cake looked pretty and almost done. It rose to almost 1.5 inches above the level of the cup. Whenever something interesting happens in my kitchen, I scream out for my dear husband (if he's at home). It took him about a minute to come, and you won't believe what I saw. The cupcake was oozing out the batter from the center just like a volcanic mountain oozes out lava. Damn! Should have taken a picture. But, all my hopes and dreams of having a simple cake were shattered at that very moment. Quickly had to turn off the oven and empty the extra batter from each cupcake by inverting it vertically. There was batter all over the place, yucky.. Finally, the cakes were done, and they were yum.

The next time when I baked "plain" cupcakes, I filled up only till 50%. They were neater this time.

Also, one more caveat. Whenever you bake, make sure you keep checking your oven now and then and don't just go by the baking time shown in the recipe. Had I not smelt the cake, and left it for 30min, I can't imagine how my cakes might have ended up.

I also added some raisins and walnut pieces to the batter. But since the batter was quite thin, all the dry fruits settled down at the bottom of the cake. Got to fix them next time. For blending the ingredients, I used a stand mixer from India and not a hand-mixer. It did a good job, and I didn't need to buy one more gadget.

Now, the shots:

First time (that lava time):

Second time:

The other day, I baked a round pound-cake for a change. Here it is..
That's the simplest cake decoration I could think of - whipping cream with candy dots.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chama dumpa (taro root) fry

Calling this a fry is not right, because I've only used about 2 tbsp oil (yes!!) for 2 pounds taro. Baking does the trick. Earlier, I blogged about (baked) fried potato curry. Making chama dumpa vepudu (fry) is exactly same as the other recipe with potatoes, with the following differences:
  • Taro is cooked prior to baking
  • No onions
So, here's the recipe phat-a-phat:

  1. Steam the taro in a pressure cooker until 4 whistles.
  2. Leave the taro root to cool and then peel it. Washing the cooked taro in a running drain of cold/tap water will help remove all the heat.
  3. Once peeled, wash and cut the taro into medium size pieces. Typically, an average sized chama dumpa sold in US can be pieced into about 10-12parts. Don't cut them too small. Also, steamed taro can be extremely slippery on the hands - so be careful not to let your fingers come in the way of the knife.
or (B):

Start with step 3 above and microwave the taro till they are 80% cooked. If you have a microwave, I suggest you follow method (B). Cooking time is greatly reduced and cutting the taro also becomes easier as its un-cooked and hence not slippery.

After (A) or (B),
  1. Bake the taro pieces at about 350F. Don't bake for too long. Only bake until a thin crust forms on the pieces. When left in the oven for a long time, taro becomes dry and hard. Important thing is, you should bake until the sliminess goes away, so that taro becomes easier to work with in the cooking pan. In the traditional way of frying in a pool of oil, taro is fried in batches so that they don't stick to each other. We're skipping this step by baking and then doing a stir fry.
  2. Oil + jeera + curry leaves; baked taro+ salt + turmeric; cook with lid covered for 5min; add chilli powder.
To note:

If you're a two-time mealmaker like I am, *DO NOT* fry the baked taro all at once. Doing so makes them absolutely dry for the 2nd time meal and no amount of microwaving can fix it. What I do is, fry half the baked stuff and store the rest in a sealed container. Just before the 2nd meal, I fry them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Carrot halwa

This is one sweet that I never get bored of eating. Gajar ka halwa with vanilla icecream is the coolest combo ever.

Recipe is pretty simple, but the method of preparation can either be effortless or painful depending on how you choose to grate the carrots. Doing it manually does impart additional taste to the dish but trust me, it isn't really worth the effort. The first time when I made this halwa, I grated the carrots manually and ended up with swollen hands. The next time, I chopped the carrot into inch long pieces and fed them into the mixer. The end result wasn't much different from the mechanical version. However, when you use the mixer, be careful not to over grind the carrots. Remember, you want halwa, not carrot juice.

  1. Carrots - 1lb
  2. Sugar - slightly less that half cup
  3. Ghee - 4 tbsp
  4. Milk - about 3/4th cup
  5. Cardamom powder
  6. Nuts and raisins to garnish
  1. Keep the grated carrot ready - either using a mixer or the hand tool
  2. Heat 3 tbsp ghee in a wide bottomed pan
  3. Add the grated carrot and fry till the carrot turns from bright orange to paler yellowish orange
  4. Now add the milk and cook covered on low flame for about 10min. Keep checking in between so as to avoid burning the carrots. Add little more milk if necessary. Again, its carrot halwa that you want to make, not carrot payasam. So, don't add too much milk. Just sufficient to cook the carrots.
  5. Once the carrots look cooked, remove the lid and leave the flame on until all the milk gets absorbed by the carrots. If you end up with a pool of milk in step 4, don't you worry. Carrot payasam tastes as good as the halwa.
  6. Whether you choose to have payasam or halwa, you need to add the sugar and cardamom powder now. Mix well until the sugar dissolves.
  7. Ghee roast the nuts (cashew pieces and almond slices) with raisins and garnish the halwa. Carrot halwa tastes yummy whether served hot or cold or at room temperature.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Menthikaya pachadi (Sweet and Spicy Mango Pickle)

Surfing the Internet you accidentally land on a page that tells you that you can fly to India for under 1000$ - what's the first thought that pops up in your mind? Parents, Home-Sweet-Home, Family, Weddings, so on & so forth.. An avid Mango lover that I am, the first motivation to grab the ticket and fly home was M.A.N.G.O!!! Oh my!! God only knows how much I miss them here in US. Gone are the days I used to snack on two juicy mangoes everyday, all I can do now is lick the packaged mango pulp from the can. If fruity mangoes are my first love (in May), mango pickles are the second. Avakaya is the famous mango pickle made in the state of Andhra Pradesh. There are several variants of this pickle and each one has its own charm. There's this dialogue from some Telugu movie: "Amma, Avakaya eppudu bore kottaru" which precisely means "You can never get bored of your Mom and also Avakaya".

This year, I'm really lucky to get some freshly prepared Avakaya pickle from India. Last year when I missed the taste of mango pickle in Summer, I asked my mom for the recipe so that I could try it here. "Menthikaya" is a sweeter version of Avakaya which is easier to prepare and also it doesn't require the mango to be too sour. Its a blend of several different tastes just like the Ugadi pachadi (Sour/Mango, Sweet/jaggery, Bitter/Fenugreek powder, Spice and salty) Can be made in less than half an hour and goes well with steamed rice as well as tiffins.

  1. Raw mango (should be sour, okay even if it's moderately sour) - 1
  2. Sesame/Gingelly oil - 1/2 cup
  3. Jaggery powder- 2 tbsp
  4. Chilli powder - atleast 2 tbsp
  5. Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tbsp
  6. Salt, Turmeric, Mustard seeds and Heeng
  1. Peel the mango. Make sure its completely dry (no water/moisture).
  2. Cut the mango into small pieces (see pic below). Trash the seed portion.
  3. Add sufficient salt and a pinch of turmeric powder to the pieces and mix them all. Allow the mango pieces to marinate for about 20 min.
  4. Dry roast the fenugreek seeds and powder them in a mixer.
  5. Take about 1/3 cup oil and heat it in a kadai. Add the powdered jaggery powder and stir continously. Leave it on the flame till the jaggery starts to melt. Leaving it for too long causes the molten jaggery to become hard.
  6. Now add the heated jaggery along with the oil to the mango pieces. While its hot, add chilli powder.
  7. Fenugreek powder - add little by little, because adding in excess would result in a bitter tasting pickle. To start with just add a pinch.
  8. Using the remaining oil, do the tadka with mustard seeds (about a tbsp) and lots of heeng (unlike regular curry tadka).
  9. Time-to-taste: Mix all the ingredients really well and taste the syrup. It should be a little bitter, mostly sweet and spicy. Adjust fenugreek/chilli powder/jaggery/salt. I'm sorry about the measurements. Next time, I'll take a note of how much of each ingredient went into the making of the pickle.
Cover the pickle and leave it undisturbed for about half day so that the sourness of the mango pieces seeps into the syrup.

Few clicks:


After marinating-

End result :)

Friday, May 29, 2009


Samosa sure qualifies as the most popular and most likeable Indian snack item. Garam garam samosas on a cool wintry afternoon is the best treat you can give yourself. Again, I'm posting this now (after weeks of clicking the pic) since I so much want to eat it right away (its 15degrees where I stay), but laziness is what is holding me back from cooking. Bah! Its too cold outside, who'll go and cook. So, satisfying my appetite by drooling at this picture below:

Now, don't laugh looking at the shape of the samosa :) My Second attempt, I think I did a decent job. 

Recipe is from Sanjay Tumma @ vahrevah.com. He's right about adding oil while kneading the dough. Samosas were lot crispier than what I made earlier.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vegetable pulao

I prefer calling this pulao, and not biryani. For biryani is a very divine dish, with lots of hardwork involved. What I'm blogging here can be made real quick.

Version 1 - Healthy and tasty


Pictorial version first. :)

  1. Basmati rice - 1.5 cups
  2. Vegetables - carrot, potato, beans, green peas, etc etc
  3. Onion - 1 medium size
  4. Green chillies - 3,4 (depends on the heat of the chillies)
  5. Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  6. Whole garam masala (cardamom #3, cloves #3, bay leaves #3, cinnamon 1 inch stick)
  7. Biryani masala (any brand) - 2 tbsp
  1. Wash and soak the rice for 20 minutes
  2. Cut the veggies into inch long pieces. Heard that adding potato causes the pulao/biryani to become sticky/mushy when you finally mix the biryani before serving. But still, I can't do without aloo.
  3. Onion needs to cut into thin and long pieces
  4. Slit the green chillies vertically
  5. Heat a tbsp oil and fry the whole garam masala. Don't add too much oil in this step as the GG paste (added next) takes up all the oil that you add.
  6. Fry the GG paste in oil, followed by onions and chillies
  7. Add some ghee, little more oil and fry the veggies. Cover the pan and let the veggies cook on medium flame for 5min
  8. For 1.5 cups rice, add 1 tbsp salt and biryani masala
  9. Drain the water from rice and add it to the veggies. Stir fry everything for another 5 min
  10. Pan to cooker plus water (as reqd)
Serve hot with yummy raitha (curd+onions+cucumber+salt).

Version 2 - Less healthy but more tasty

Drop all the masalas above (ginger garlic, whole masala and the garam masala powder) and use Parampara Biryani Mix instead. This is a semi-solid paste made with a whole bunch of spices and is sold in most Indian grocery stores.

For making "parampara" biryani, fry the onions - then the paste (half packet for 1.5 cups rice) - & then the veggies followed by rice - add salt (a little less 'coz the paste already has salt), water & cook.

Since the paste is oily, and has been made long before we use it, I call this a "less healthier" version of the veggie pulao recipe I wrote above. But, taste-wise, I have to admit, it's amazingly delicious!!! Almost like the one served at Hyderabad House. If you want to prepare authentic hyderabadi biryani without much effort, Parampara comes to your rescue!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Jeera rice

Been a while since I blogged. Was pre-occupied with a million other things over the last 2.5 weeks. Finally, I'm back to blogger!

As an employee, I used to wait for the work-week to end, so that I'll have two days all for myself. Each Friday morning, I'd say "TGI (Thank God It's) Friday" when I wake up :) Even though I'm not working anymore, I still love Fridays. At home, I welcome the weekend with a nice yummy dinner on Friday nights. On a Friday, I'm posting what I made on another TGIF. Bah! Too many Fridays in one paragraph.

As promised earlier, here comes my post on Jeera Rice. Very easy to make, and quite healthy too.

  1. Basmati Rice - 1.5 cup
  2. Jeera/cumin seeds - 3 tbsp
  3. Whole garam masala (Cloves #3, Cardamom #3, Cinnamon 1 inch, Bay leaves #3)
  4. Onion - 1
  5. Cashewnuts - to your heart's content :)

  1. Wash and soak the rice for about 20minutes
  2. Cut the onion into thin, inch long pieces
  3. Add a tbsp of oil + a tbsp of ghee to a saucepan and heat it
  4. In go the jeera, whole garam masala and the cashewnuts
  5. Fry the onions next
  6. Drain the rice and add it to the pan. Toss the contents and fry for 2-3 minutes
  7. Add sufficient salt and empty the pan into a rice cooker
  8. Adding the required amount of water, cook till the rice is done
Here's what we had - Jeera rice with Rajma, Masala buttermilk on the side in a perfect dinner setting on a perfect day :)

Punjabi khana from an Andhra Kitchen. Howz that?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rajma masala

A great side dish for roti as well as rice. Method of preparation is very much similar to chole masala.

  1. Rajma beans (washed & soaked for atleast 8hrs) - 1 cup
  2. Tomatoes (pureed) - 3 medium sized ones
  3. Onion (chopped into small pieces) - 1 large
  4. Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  5. Dhania jeera powder - 1 tbsp
  6. Garam masala - 1 tbsp
  7. Amchur powder or lemon juice - 1 tbsp
  8. Chopped coriander leaves

  1. Pressure cook the beans with salt until soft.
  2. Fry a tbsp of oil, and add the GG paste.
  3. Once the paste is fried, add some more oil & fry the onions.
  4. Tomato puree goes in next along with a pinch of salt.
  5. Once the raw smell of the tomato disappears, add the cooked rajma (along with the water used for cooking the beans).
  6. One by one, add dhania-jeera powder, garam masala, chilli powder, turmeric powder, and a spoonful of sugar.
  7. If I have rajma curry with chapathi, I like it lemon-y. With rice, rajma made with amchur powder tastes better. If you're using amchur powder, add it now.
  8. Stir the contents of the pan and let it cook (with the lid on) on low flame for about 10min.
  9. Adjust salt, masalas as desired. Can add lemon juice now (optional).
  10. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

In my next post, I'll share my Jeera rice recipe. Till then, bybye!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Experiments from Lakshmi's Kitchen

Lakshmi is the first "new friend" I made in the USA. A nice girl who's really good at cooking, and the one who kind of got me into food blogging. She blogs at: Lakshmi's Kitchen  

This post is dedicated to Lakshmi. Couple of recipes I tried from her blog would be presented here.

To start with, the mouth-watering Gobi Manchurian

My changes:
Added tomato ketchup along with other sauces

Vegetable Frittata - Not much of an omlette lover, but enjoyed eating this one. May be because of the veggies.

Many more to try....

Friday, April 24, 2009

French Toast

Never made it before, Couldn't be happier having made it :)

  1. Eggs - 2
  2. Bread slices - 3  (Use bread that is thick & not too soft)
  3. Maida/all purpose flour - 3 tblspoons
  4. Sugar - 3 tblspoons
  5. Milk - 1/3 cup
  6. Vanilla sugar/powder - 2 tblspoons
  1. Whisk the eggs and add all the ingredients (#3-#6) along with a pinch of salt to the eggs
  2. Blend the egg mixture in an electric mixer to get a frothy batter. Smell it now, your stomach would be half-filled with the aroma of vanilla :)
  3. Cut the bread slice diagonally to break into two triangular pieces
  4. Heat a griddle on low flame
  5. Dip each bread slice in the batter, coat it entirely, gently squeeze out the excess dripping batter and fry with a little butter on low flame. French toast can quickly burn, so better to cook slowly on low flame until the bread gets browned

Done! Now, that I got my French Toast right, very soon, I'll try to make my favourite "Strawberry Banana French Toast" in IHOP style :)

Entry to: Event for eggs

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bisibela bath

An authentic Karnataka dish, also called Sambar rice in other parts of the country. A single pot meal that gives the benefit of eating dal, rice and vegetables all in one go! 

Besides dal, rice and vegetables, the important ingredient that goes into the making of Bisibela bath is the spice powder. Most people make it at home, however, MTR bisibela bath masala is good enough for lazy people like me.

  1. Toor dal - 1/2 cup
  2. Rice - 1/2 cup
  3. Vegetables - carrot, beans, potato
  4. Onion - 1 medium size
  5. Bisibela bath powder - 2,3 spoons
  6. Tamarind juice - 2 tbl spoons
  7. Popu/Tadka - mustard, jeera, curry leaves and heeng 
  8. Cashewnuts - as you wish :)

  1. Pressure cook dal & rice together with 2 cups water
  2. Chop the vegetables into inch long pieces and (steam/microwave) cook them too
  3. Cut the onion into thin inch long pieces (as long as the veggies)
  4. Fry a spoonful of ghee & oil and do the tadka
  5. Once the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onions
  6. Next add the cooked vegetables and fry
  7. Add the dal-rice mixture to the fried vegetables. At this stage, add salt and a pinch of turmeric powder
  8. Toss in the bisibela bath masala and tamarind juice 
  9. Adding a little water, bring all the ingredients together. Skip this step if you like your bisibela bath to be grainy and not one mashed lump of rice
  10. Adjust salt, spice powder, tamarind juice as required. You could also add some chilli powder if you like it hot
  11. Garnish with ghee roasted cashewnuts and serve hot

When I cook something from an online recipe, I end up running several times back & forth between the stove & the computer. So as to check if I'm on track :) If you're also like me and if you're going to make bisibela bath using MTR powder, you could avoid running this time - bcoz the recipe above is what is written on the back of the MTR packet. :D

Entry to events:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spicy Thai Noodles

Given a choice of cuisine while deciding on where to have lunch/dinner, Thai would be the first thing that pops up in my husband's mind. I'm not as big a fan as him, but Thai is something I do enjoy eating. Noodles cooked in a sweet-spicy-sour sauce with Tofu - vahrevah!! 

After looking around for Thai recipes, I landed up on this and that. A fusion of both is how I cooked and needless to say (bragging :) ), IT WAS AWESOME !!!

  1. Thai Rice noodles  (Got Rice sticks from Trader Joes)  - 1/2 packet (serves two)
  2. Extra Firm Tofu 
  3. Green and Red capsicums - 1 each
  4. Basil leaves - a bunch
  5. Carrot - 1 
  6. Onion - 1 
  7. Peanuts - a cup
  8. Jaggery - 2 tblspoons
  9. Chilli sauce
  10. Soy sauce
  11. Garlic powder - 2 spoons
  12. Lemon - few drops
  13. Coriander leaves for garnishing
Thai restaurants add what is called "fish sauce" to most of their entrees. When I order, I remember to tell the waiter not to add any egg in my noodles. We tried a different Thai cafe recently, and when I told about my "no egg" thing, the waiter was smart enough to guess that I might be a vegan. He promptly asked if fish sauce was okay. That came as a surprise to me, & for one moment, I cursed myself for eating fish all the while :( So, if you are also a vegetarian, let them know that you don't want fish sauce.

  1. Drain excess water from Tofu and cut into into 1x0.5 inch rectangles.
  2. Spread a drop of oil on a pan and fry the Tofu pieces till they turn golden brown on all sides.

  3. If you are using Rice sticks from TJs, cut them such that each stick breaks into 4 equal pieces. Soak them all in luke warm water for about 20minutes till they get moderately soft.
  4. Cut capsicums, onion and carrot into inch-long pieces.
  5. Wash the basil leaves. Basil is the Star ingredient of this dish. Can't get Basil? - don't even think of making these noodles. If you can't get fresh basil leaves, you could substitute with dried basil.
  6. Prepare the peanut sauce by dry roasting the peanuts and grinding them with jaggery and salt. Add water to the ground mixture so as to make a semi-thick sauce.
  7. Heat two tblspoons of oil and fry all the vegetables with some salt. Cook till tender, not to overcook.
  8. Add Tofu, chilli sauce & soy sauce.
  9. Now add 75% of the peanut sauce and garlic powder and then mix all the contents of the pan.
  10. Taste the curry above, and check the following:

    1. Sweet? - no: add sugar dissolved in water
    2. Spicy? - no: more chilli sauce
    3. Salty? - less: little more salt

  11. Time to go back to the noodles. If they are soft enough, you could stir fry them. Or else, boil them along with the water used for soaking for few minutes till they get soft. Adding noodles to boiling water (like the way we make Maggi) would result in a soggy mess. So, add noodles and water at the same time and heat them just until the noodles are soft enough to bite. They needn't be too soft.

  12. Once the noodles are ready, add the remaining peanut sauce. This step is important, as the noodles would taste bland otherwise. 
  13. Mix the curry and noodles along with few drops of lemon juice and coriander leaves. Don't add too much lemon, it should just be a little sour, not too sour.
That's it! Enjoy your meal.... "home-made" with "restaurant-taste"

Entry to events:
  1. I do see a lot of green & red in the noodles, so posting this recipe to the Red & Green food event, with a link back to this.
  2. It's a vegan world: Thai

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sambar with Toor Dal

Sambar is such a popular South Indian dish that people from the rest of India tag southies as Sambarwalas. No offense meant, had their elders fed them Sambar right from childhood, I'm sure they'd grow up loving Sambar as much as we do. Such a healthy & finger-licking dish!

At home, I make Sambar with Toor dal as well as Moong dal. For now, as I only have the former's click - posting Toor dal Sambar for now. Though I didn't cook Sambar this Morning, I somehow felt a sudden craving for it while working on a cold afternoon - it's 58F outside. As I'm in no mood to cook now, thought I'd satisfy my cravings by just looking at a picture of it that I have. If you have seen the Telugu movie "Ahanaa Pellanta', you'd already know that you can satisfy your tummy by merely looking at a mouth-watering dish. :)

No more chit-chat. Heading straight to the recipe.

  1. Toor dal - 1cup
  2. Onion - 1 medium sized
  3. Tomato - 1 med. sized
  4. Boiler onions (optional) - a handful
  5. Sambar Powder - my vote goes to MTR & MDH brands
  6. Jaggery (optional) - spoonful
  7. Tamarind juice - spoonful
  8. Coconut powder (preferably fresh, dessicated is okay too) - spoonful
  9. Coriander/cilantro for garnishing
  10. Popu/Tadka - Fenugreek seeds, mustard, jeera, curry leaves & heeng
  1. Pressure cook the dal with 2 cups water
  2. Take a thick bottomed vessel (so that dal doesn't burn) and add a cup of water. Don't add a lot of water. After adding all the ingredients in Steps 3-5 below, this is how the contents should appear. 

    Water should just be sufficient to submerge all the ingredients. Not more.
  3. Add about 1.5 spoonfuls of Sambar powder, tamarind juice, salt, pinch of turmeric powder, half teaspoon chilli powder, and jaggery. 
  4. Cut the onions into inch-sized pieces. Also chop the tomato and add them both to the vessel above
  5. Peel the boiler onions and add them too
  6. Now bring the vessel to a boil. Once water starts boiling, let it continue boiling for 10minutes or so. 
  7. Now add the cooked dal and stir all the contents. At this stage, you can taste it & adjust any of the ingredients in Step 3. Particulary salt, tamarind, sambar powder. If you find the sambar too thick, add little more water.
  8. Once the sambar starts boiling again, add coconut powder and let it boil for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in between, or else the dal could stick to the bottom and eventually burn.
  9. Turn off the gas, and add the popu/tadka
  10. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with Rice or Idly.

If the tamarind juice and Sambar powder are added in the right amounts, the end result would turn yummy. You could also add some vegetables like drumsticks, carrot, potato, okra in Step 4. 

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