Monday, April 30, 2007

Kattu/Venn Pongal & Sambar

Kattu/Venn Pongal & Sambar
Venn Pongal/Kattu and Sambar
This is for my cousin, who is a bachelor and loves Pongal and thinks cooking this is rocket science also wanted to contribute to RCI event with a Tamilian dish, though this dish is common in Andhra Pradesh and else where I believe the origins were from Tamil Nadu. Pongal can be prepared 2 ways one sweet and the other hot , sweet pongal called chakra pongali or sakaraipongal and is made of sugar or jaggery, the hot dish called kattu Pongal or Venn Pongal is made of rice and moong dal and is a popular breakfast choice. This is also offered as prasadam/ offering in temples around South India. Pongal is usually eaten with a side of sambar and coconut chutney. Including the recipe for my version of Sambar
1 cup rice
1 cup moon dal

For thadka
2 tbsp black pepper corns ( crush half of them into a powder)
hand full of cashew nuts
2 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp ginger finely cut
1 tbsp jeera
8-10 curry leaves
1. Clean and pressure cook moong dal and rice together is a pressure cooker until about 3 whistles
2. Once cool, heat a pan large enough to hold all the rice, add ghee, jeera, ginger, cashew nuts, curry leaves and mix well
3. now add boiled rice and moong dal and mix well, add salt and little water
4. cook for about 3 minutes while stirring5. before removing from heat add 1/2 tbsp ghee and mix well
Serve hot with sambar and coconut chutney, best when eaten piping hot.

For sambar

2 cups of tamrind water
1 onion cut vertically into thin pieces
1 tomato
1/2 cup lauki
5-6 drumsticks ( I use store brought frozen ones)
2 tbsp Samabar powder ( My favorite MTR)
1 tbsp brown sugar/Jaggery
2 cups toor dal paste ( toor dal pressure cooked and made into a fine paste)
For thadka
1 tbsp jeera
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp urad dal
pinch of hing
3-4 red chilies
1/2 tsp methi seeds
8-10 curry leaves
1. in an pan add tamrind water ,vegetables, salt and haldi and allow to boil for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender
2. now add toor dal paste and mix well
3. add sambar powder and jaggery, check for salt and adjust accordingly
4. in a seperate pan add oil and all the ingredients for thadka and when mustard starts to splutter add this to boiling sambar
5. mix well and allow to boil for about 5 minutes, garnish with corriander

Combination of Venn Pongal and Sambar is heavenly
This is my entry for

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Beerakaya Tokku Pachadi (Ridge Gourd Chutney)

Beerakaya Tokku Pachadi (Ridge Gourd Chutney)
Talk about salvaging the whole vegetable without having to throw out the skin, this chutney falls into this category not only the vegetable but its skin makes a delicious chutney. I learnt this from my mother-in-law and its our favorite mostly eaten with hot rice.Process is pretty simple.

Peel of 3 Beerakaya (ridge gourd)( make sure to wash beerakaya thoroughly under running water)
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp channa dal
2 tbsp urad dal
1 tbsp dhania
1 tbsp methi
5 red chiles ( adjust according to taste)
tamrind size of a dime

1. Heat a pan add channa dal, urad, dhania, methi, R.chilies and garlic fry for a minute
2. now add peeled skin of beerakaya (ridge gourd)
3. add sal, haldi and tamrind
4. fry for about 10 minutes till the skin turns to brown color
5. when skin turn brown, remove from heat and grind it in a mixer
6. remove from mixer and then add thadka

For Tadhka
1 tbsp urad dal
1 tbsp jeera
1 tbsp mustard
2-3 red chilies
7-8 curry leaves
a pinch of hing/asafoetida

1. heat a pan with 1 tbsp oil and add all the above ingredients, when mustard starts to splutter add this to ground paste
2. mix well

Taste extremely well with hot rice

Now for the ridge gourd, I usually make beerakaya fry, again simple and quick
1. Take a pan add all the ingredients for thadka expect hing, add sliced garlic cloves ( about 2)
2. now add cut and cubed beerakaya
3. fry for 5 minutes add salt, I usually a little bit of masala powder can be anything of your choice like idle podi, karam podi etc..
4. mix well and remove from heat and serve

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Navel Orange Icecream cups

Navel Orange Ice Cream Cups

As the weather gets warmer into the 70's and days get longer suddenly there is burst of energy,seems like everyone is outdoors enjoying the sun.

Grocery stores are full of fresh vegetables, greens and fruits. Avocados,cherries, strawberries etc. In sunny California Oranges are abundant and are available all round the year.
Orange blossom's in my backyard

For today's recipe I celebrate the arrival of warm weather and a Californian native Naval Oranges,this recipe will add the oomph and wow factor to any party be it in a park on an a beach or at home. Very light and refreshing with bursting citrus flavor.


3 thick-skinned navel oranges
1/2 quart orange sherbet
1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
Mint leaves, for garnish

First Step
1.Cut the oranges in half and squeeze out juice and pulp
2.Scoop out all of the pulp and and Clean the shells these would serve as cups for ice cream

Second Step

3.In a large bowl, mix sherbet and ice cream together and the orange pulp and juice and stir to combine.
4.Freeze until just firm. Spoon mixture into the orange shells,
Freeze for 2 hours.
5.Serve garnished with mint leaves

Pack this in a icebox and enjoy it outside.Alterations can be made by using low fat sherbet and ice cream.This has a slushy texture and will melt very quickly reminds me of the ice gola's I had as a kid growing up in India.

This will be my entry for Nupur A to Z vegetables and Meeta's monthly mingle theme for Spring

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anapakaya RavaPulusu Kura (Lauki Sabji)

Anapakaya RavaPulusu Kura (Lauki Sabji)

Anapakaya rava pulusu kura is a very typical dish made at our home, Rava pulusu in Telugu typically means dishes made with tamarind pulp and this is no exception.My dad's side of the family always had dished that were made a little sweeter and my mom's side absolutely never used sweetness. So I grew up experiencing and enjoying food from both sides.

1 medium size Anapakaya (Lauki) peeled and cut into cubes
2 cups of tamarind water ( made by adding water to think tamarind pupl)
2 cloves of garlic cut finely
1 tbsp ginger finely chopped
1 tbsp haldi
2 tbsp Jaggery (can be substitute with sugar)
2 tbsp rice flour
2 tbsp water
salt according to taste

For Thadka
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp jeera
1/2 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
1 dry red chili
6-8 Curry leaves
A pinch of asafoetida

1. Heat a tbsp on oil in a pan, when hot add all the thadka ingredients
2. when mustard starts to splutter add ginger and garlic
3. add cut Anapakaya(lauki), add haldi, salt now add tamarind water and allow it cook covered. this usually takes about 5 to 8 minutes depending on lauki
4. keep stirring to avoid buring
5. In a separate bowl mix rice flour and water to make into a thin consistency
6. when lauki is boiled/tender add the rice flour mixture and stirr constantly
7. sabji will start to thicken as soon as the mixture is added and also will get easily burnt if not stirred continuously
8. cook for about a minute or 2 and remove from heat

Serve hot with rice, this dish has a tangy and sweet combination.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Vegetable Pulav

Vegetable Pulav
Vegetable Pulav

Growing up vegetable pulav was made as a special dish during special events like birthdays or festivals, it seemed like complex dish to prepare hence prepared on special occasions, but now I think this infact is very simple to prepare and makes a complete meal. I had few friends for lunch this Sunday so made this for brunch and made raitha to compliment the heat.
I am sure every house has a unique way to prepare this, I myself keep changing the masala's, vegetables types of rice according to time and availability.This dish is very forgiving no matter how you prepare it.

Used basmathi rice along with the following vegetables and masala's and cooked in the rice cooker.

Dry Masala's ( all the below can be customized to individual likings)

4-5 Bay leaves
2- star anise
5 cloves
1 tbsp of pepper corns
2 cinnamon sticks

1 onion sliced vertically
1 potato peeled and cubed
1 carrot peeled and cubes
1 beetroot peeled and cubed
1 tomato cubed
peas and beans can be added
1 big bunch of mint
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 g.chilies
1 tbsp ghee
handful of roasted cashew nuts
1 cup basmathi rice, soaked in water for about 10 minutes

1. Heat 2 tbsp of ghee is a pan, add all the dry masala ingredients and fry for few seconds
2. add ginger garlic paste ,onions, g.chilies and mint fry till onions turn golden brown
3. Now add the remaining vegetables fry for about 2 minutes
4. add soaked rice, haldi and salt
5. mix gently and place the above in a rice cooker and add 1 and 1/2 glass water and allow to cook
6. once done gently mix the rice taking care not to break the rice grains

Serve hot with raita

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Paneer Paratha( Indian Cottage Cheese Paratha)

Paneer Parata ( Indian Cottage Cheese Parata)

Paneer Paratha( Indian Cottage Cheese Paratha)

Paratha's can be made in a million ways, and one such way is Paneer Paratha. Paneer or Indian cottage cheese is a healthy, protein-rich food. Paneer can be made at home or its always readily available in stores. I personally was not able to make paneer which is hard succesfully, the time I attempted it turned out soft and would get crumbled. Today used store brought paneer and grated it finely.
For today's recipe I added fresh herbs along with Paneer, I added fresh methi ,corriander. My kindergartner is just learning about plants, seeds , germination etc so we did a small home project to experience this first hand. Soaked few methi seeds in warm water for about 1/2 hr, then removed from water and placed them on a tissue and wrapped it and sprinkled with water to keep the seeds moist, next day these seeds germinated. My kindergartners eyes sparkled to see his science class happen right in front of his eyes, placed them in a pot and told my him to water it daily, in a day he saw the seeds shoot up and within a week he saw the plants and leaves. so today we cut few leaves and added to paneer, he was so excited that we were eating something that he grew.Kindergartners and their questions are always interesting and challenging for example today he asked who named earth "earth".

For Paneer filling

1 pack of Paneer (grated finely)
1 bunch of methi leaves chopped finely
1 bunch of coriander leaves chopped finely
1 tbsp kasoori methi (dry methi)
1/2 Onion very very finely chopped
1 tbsp Dhania powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp haldi
1 tbsp jeera
Salt according to taste
Process For filling
1. mix in grated paneer, methi, corriander, onion and all the dry ingredients toss and mix well.

For Roti

1 cup atta (flour)
salt according to taste
water for kneading
oil for shallow frying (optional)

For Paratha
1.Mix all ingredients except water. Add a little at a time and form a soft dough. try to make this at least 30 minutes before using.
2.Always keep covered with a moist cloth, and see that the cloth is kept moist

For stuffing paratha

1.Roll a thick roti and place a small portion of the filling in the center
2.bring all the edges of the roti together and make sure that the entire filling is covered
3.and then roll into a nice round shape dusting with flour as required
4. heat a griddle/tava and place Paratha
5.let it cook on one side and then repeat on the other side
6.Add a tspn of oil to paratha and let it fry till it gets golden brown.

Serve hot with raita

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Vankaya Perugu pachadi

Vankaya Perugu Pachadi (Eggplant with Yogurt Chutney)

There are some food that satisfy your soul and taste buds and for me that food if cooked with eggplants elevates it.Eggplants are found in many shapes and colors and are used widely in may cusines like Indian, Chinese, Italian ,Mediterranean. Few of my favorites include eggplant lasagna, eggplant Pannini , eggplant with soy sauce that's found across Chinese restaurants.In India especially south its made into sabji, chutneys and dals(Pulusu).My house it was made into gutti vankaya kura ( stuffed enggplant) ,different varieties of vanakaya pachadi (eggplant chutney) and vankaya pulusu.However not everyone is a fan of this vegetable , it can be quite allergic and cause health problems like joint pains and swelling. Check nutrition fact about eggplant here .Vankaya perugu pachadi is eaten with hot rice, tasty gets even better when sour curd is added instead of fresh.


3 eggplants ( used the long purple chineese eggplants)
1/2 cups curd
2 green chillis
tamrind size of a dime
1 tsp haldi
1 small bunch of coriander leaves

For thadhka
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp jeera
1 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
1 dry red chili
6-8 Curry leaves
A pinch of asafoetida

1.Roast eggplants either on a stove or in oven, I roast them by placing them on a non-stickpan over the heat, this helps avoids cleans up
2.Once cooled peel skin off
3. In a food processor/grinder add peeled eggplant, yogurt/curd, coriander, g.chilies, haldi, tamrind, salt and give it a quick grind
4.Heat oil for thadka and add all the thadka ingredients curry leaves being the last
5. add tadhka to eggplant mixture and mix well

Serve with hot rice

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lasooni Palak (Garlic Spinach Sabji)

Lasooni Palak (Garlic Spinach Sabji)

Lasooni Palak

Spinach is cooked almost once a week in our house, each time in different form and variations. Some times its dal/pappu some times its Sabji and sometimes with paneer what ever be the form its enjoyed by everyone at home.

Best part of cooking with Spinach its a easy and quick to cook , garlic and spinach go very well earthy taste of Spinach and sweetness of roasted garlic make an excellent combination.

For me growing up I never got a chance to cook nor was I interested in cooking, but I sure enjoyed cooking shows in TV one of them being Sanjeev Kapoor's Khana Khazana. I would always write down the recipes even if I never made it.Today's recipe is from one of those collections, although Sanjeev Kapoor recipe included cream to be added at the end I kind of skipped for obvious reasons.

1 bunch of Spinach (Palak)
8-10 cloves of Garlic (sliced thinly)
1/2 Onion cut into small peices
1 tspn Jeera
1 tsnp Urad dal
1 tspn Mustard seeds
2-3 red chilies
1 tspn Haldi
1 tspn Red Chili powder

1. Heat a tbsp of Olive oil in a pan, when hot add urad dal, jeera, Mustard seeds, R.chilies, curry leaves, garlic and Onion
2. fry till Onions turn translucent, add spinach and salt.
3. Mix all of the ingredient well, takes about 3-4 minutes.

Serve hot with rice or roti's. This will be my entry to Indira Jihva for Ingredients (JFI),Going Green with Green Leafy Vegetables.

Also on a different note, was listening to NPR today and I was pretty excited to hear that Jonathan Gold a restaurant critique from LA weekly mostly writing about less known and off beat restaurant was awarded Pulitzer Prize for his Odes to Greasy Spoons.Click here to listen to podcast/interview. He has very interesting take on food and mostly loves to write about ethnic food.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts does not fall into "my favorite vegetables" category for lots of folks, and the main reason for that is the unpleasant smell of these tiny miniature cabbages.Brussels sprouts belong to Cabbage family and are a winter vegetables.They contain good amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fiber.But when cooked correctly these turn delicious and have an excellent nutty and crunchy flavor.

( Image courtesy wiki)
I generally use frozen petite Brussels sprouts from the frozen section of grocery stores and these cook much faster then the fresh ones.
Key ingredient to today's recipe is flavored salts.Flavored salts elevate the tasty of any dish.I used garlic lemon salt for today's dish

1 cup frozen petite Brussels sprouts
2 tbsp Olive oil (substitute Pam or any non stick oil)
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp Flavored salts ( I used Lemon Garlic sea salt)

1. heat a pan with 2 tbsp Olive oil
2. when hot add frozen Brussels
3. cook covered for 2 minutes
4. remove the cover and stir fry till Brussels turn golden brown color
5. add salt and fresh ground pepper
6. mix well

Serve hot, this makes a nice snack or a matter of fact dinner.The whole cup of Brussels has 0 calories ,so one yummy dish packed with vitamins and fat free.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Mint tea Sandwich with Roasted Garlic and Sun Dried Tomatoes Cream Cheese

Mint Tea Sandwich with Roasted Garlic and Sun Dried Tomatoes Cream Cheese
Mint is one of the easiest herb to grow at home, Infact if not contained this completely takes over the garden. Mint adds flavors lots of dishes like marinates,Biryani's , Chutneys and salads.I do grow mint and few other herbs in my yard

It is pouring cats and dogs in Bay Area, does not seem like spring weather.Had few unexpected guests at home for tea, so decided to make tea sandwiches, Tea sandwiches are a tradition in Europe . Tea is enjoyed leisurely with a variety of finger sized sandwiches and wide variety pastries.

For today's sandwich decided to make mint chutney along with roasted garlic and sun dried tomatoes.Roasted garlic has a very sweet taste, but if over burnt sweet taste turns bitter. I oven roast garlic by cutting the top off and by drizzling Olive oil and bake in the over for about 15 minutes at 400.


For Mint Chutney
1 bunch of mint leaves
1/2 bunch of Coriander
1-2 g.chilies ( alter according to spicy level)
a pinch Black salt
1 tspn of Lemon juice

Grind all the above without adding water into a fine paste

For Garlic and sundried tomatoes cream cheese
1/2 head of garlic
1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup cream cheese thawed to room temperature
a pinch of salt ( adjust according to taste)
Grind all the above ingredients in a food processor into a fine paste, Amul butter can be substituted instead of cream cheese.

For Sandwiches
3 slices of toasted bread of your choice ( I used whole wheat), remove edges

1. Spread a layer of mint chutney on a slice of bread
2. On the second bread spread garlic and sundried tomato cream cheese
3. Top with the third layer and cut diagonally

Enjoy with a hot cup of tea

This is also my entry for letter M for series hosted by Nupur and weekend Herb cookinh hosted by Haalo of Cook(almost) Anything at least once

Friday, April 13, 2007

Chatpat Fruit Chaat

Chatpat Fruit Chaat

As said an apple a day keeps doctor away, but eating the same fruit over and over can get pretty boring and pretty soon that particular fruit joins the do not eat list.One way to beat this and to add some excitement would be Fruit Chaat.Sweet from fruits,tangy from chaat masala and tarty from Lemon juice, all these flavors blend well to give you a delicious snack or this is can also be served an appetizer and oh ya this is fat free and can be eaten without guilt cloud hanging.

I had this a while ago at dinner at a friends place who is a Delhi native.Apparently this is sold as street food.It tastes best when dressed right before eating.If made earlier it kind of tends to get soggy and some of the fruits loose their crunchiness.
So pre cut fruits and mix the chaat masala right when guest arrive or when you get hit by sugar bug

1 cup of any fruits ( today I used Apples,Pears, Kiwi, Banana) other options that would gel well are berries like strawberry, Blueberries, Anar Dhaana(Pomegranate seeds), also Watermelon tastes extremely good.

Chaat Masala
1 tspn Chaat masala
1/2 tspn Black Salt (kala Namak)
1/2 tspn Black Pepper
1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tbsp of honey (optional)
1. Clean all the fruits and cut into equal sized cubes
2. Just before eating/serving add Lemon juice, Chaat masala, fresh ground pepper, and black salt
3. If most of the fruits are of tarty nature add a drizzle of honey
4. Toss well and serve

And this makes for your 5 a day of colors/fruits

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Aratikaya Avapindi kura (Raw Plantain with Mustard powder sabji)

Aratikaya Avapindi kura (Raw Plantain with Mustard powder sabji)

Every trip from India there are few things I always make sure I get and those include home made masala's. There is something very special in these no matter even if you replicate the recipe with the same proportions and ingredients it still never comes close to mom's.Packing/last day in India is a huge commotion, all the home made masala's not just mom's but mom's friends,in-laws and extended family keeps pouring in and then there is my dad who is all tensed because of the fact that I have exceeded my suitcase weight limit. All the masala's are packed and stored strategically in different suitcase,just in case customs folks ask to toss stuff from one suitcase.Its a memorable event in itself. I am sure this is the same case with most folks.

Todays recipe uses one of these home made masala,its called Avapindi, a mixture of mustard seeds,Methi/fenugreek, salt and r.chili powder.This is the same powder used to make Andhra famous pickles.Unfortunately I do not have the exact measurement at the moment, will update once I get the recipe from mom.Again weekday cooking for me has to be simple and the thumb rule is it cannot exceed 30 minutes from start to finish including cleaning up ,and yes this sabji does fall into the 30 minutes category.Only time it takes is the time to pressure cook. Once cooked just add thadka and one yummy dish is ready to be relished.
This sabji has a unique taste,Avapindi(mustard/fenugrrk powder) add's a very bitter taste and this is complimented by adding 2 tbsp lemon juice and the result is a very delicious

2 raw plantains (aratikaya)
2 tbsp ginger finely cut
6-8 curry leaves
1 tspn Jeera
1 tspn mustard seeds
1-2 tbsp of Avapindi/mustard powder
1 tspn Urad dal
pinch of hing
1 tspn Haldi
salt according to taste
2 tbsp of lemon juice

1. Pressure cook Plantains with skin on for about 3 whistles.Once done let is cool for a minute or 2 and the deskin the plantains.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in pan add jeera,urad dal, mustard seeds, ginger, curry leaves, hing.
3. Once mustard seeds start to splutter add deskinned Plantain,haldi,salt and avapindi
4. Use potato masher to mix all the above stuff, add a little water if the consistency seems to thick
5. cook for a minute or two
6. Remove from heat add lemon juice and mix well.Garnish with coriander

Serve hot with rice

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Aloo Palak Sabji ( Potato Spinach Curry)

Aloo Spinach Sabji ( Potato Spinach Curry)
Weekday dinners are a herculean effort, After a long day of work, picking up kids from day care/school taking them to various classes I often look for something that I can prepare in time that it can take to get the kids showered and Aloo Spinach Sabji does fall in this category.
Potato's especially the Yukon type cook extremely quick and Spinach literally cooks in seconds.
Another variation for this recipe would be Aloo Methi, substitute Methi both fresh and frozen instead of Spinach

3 Potatoes peeled and cubed
2 cups spinach ,washed and julienned
1 tbsp Ginger Garlic paste
1 tspn Jeera
1 tspn Haldi
1 tbsp of any type of Masala's (garam masala, all spice masala or any home made masala's)
1 tbsp oil for frying
Salt according to taste

1. heat a tbsp of oil in a pan, add Jeera, Ginger Garlic paste and Haldi
2. Then add chopped Spinach ,fry till the rawness is done or spinach seems done partially usually about a minute or 2
3. Add cubed Potatoes, mix well with Spinach add salt and sprinkle a little water
4. when Potatoes are cooked add Masala, Mix well and remove from heat

Serve hot with Roti's, Puhlka or even with Rice

Gobi Paratha

Gobi Paratha
Gobi Paratha

Paratha isthe most versatile food in ways it can be prepared. Aloo, Gobi, Mooli, Paneer, Mixed Vegetables and so on. Since I started blogging every time I write a recipe I now tend to research about the ingredients, History , Origins etc.. This has been very exciting to me.Blogging has become such an obsession, I love the fact that people from all over the world take time to read and comment etc.Also I wonder if I did not blog I would have never learnt all these web 2.0 technologies. Technology for blogging has been so exciting for me to learn and so is the case with Photography.Also started writing my version of Blogging 101, tips and tools(mostly to keep track of what I did) ,will publish once I get it complete in couple of days.

Anyways deviated from my main topic today Gobi Paratha, paratha was originally conceived in ancient north India and then spread quickly to South. These days you find these in any part of India you travel. Its said that Indian immigrants took this dish to Malaysia and Singapore, resulting in variations such as roti canai and roti prata.I have a Punjabi aunt who is an amazing cook, She would cook these paratha that would practically melt in your mouth.Learnt this from here

Ingredients for fillings
1 big Gobi (Cauliflower)
1 Potato boiled and cubed
1 bunch corriander
1 G.chili

For Roti
1 cup atta (flour)
salt according to taste
water for kneading
oil for shallow frying (optional)

Dry Masala's
2 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp kasoori methi
1 tbsp jeera
1/2 tbsp Haldi
salt according to taste

Process For filling
1. Grate Cauliflower, Corriander, G.chili in a food processor into a fine texture add salt and mix well. Leave it for a while and then squeeze water out
2. In a bowl mix grated cauliflower, boiled potato( this acts as glue/binding agent) and dry masala's and mix well

For Paratha
1.Mix all ingredients except water. Add a little at a time and form a soft dough. try to make this at least 30 minutes before using.
2.Always keep covered with a moist cloth, and see that the cloth is kept moist

For stuffing paratha
1.Roll a thick roti and place a small portion of the filling in the center
2.bring all the edges of the roti together and make sure that the entire filling is covered
3.and then roll into a nice round shape dusting with flour as required
4. heat a griddle/tava and place Paratha
5.let it cook on one side and then repeat on the other side
6.Add a tspn of oil to paratha and let it fry till it gets golden brown.

Serve hot with mixed vegetable pickle, raita and today made a impromptu salad of Onions, Tomatoes, Cucumber , corriander, lemon juice, fresh ground pepper and salt
For folks in bayarea try Banana leaf restaurant to get a flavor of Roti prata. This is a very chic restaurant and keep in mind its always crowded. This is our favorite and regular lunch/dinner destination

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Pav Bhaji

After a day long trip with kids in the park for Easter egg hunt I was pretty much tired and ready to fall. Best part of living in Bay area is the wide variety of cuisines that you get to enjoy. Indian restaurants a dime a dozen, in reality you never miss Indian food. One of my favorites is a bakery called Passage to India, their cakes tastes just like cakes in India especially Pineapple and Black forest, Store carries nice variety of cookies and breads, so picked few desi cookies and pav buns.

Pav Bhaji to me growing up in south was pretty much like a chaat variety that one would eat in a restaurant or on roadside stalls.So when I started making this I would make it like Potato mush with Pav masala. Later a dear friend from Bombay gave me Pav Bhaji 101 . So this is her version

2 Potato peel and cubed
1 big onion chopped fine
1 big tomato cubed into small pieces
1 big capsicum cubed into small pieces
1 cup mixed veggies (carrots, peas , beans ) this is optional

For masala
2 tbsp Pav masala
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 tbsp butter

Pav bread

1. boil all the vegetables ,except onion and tomatoes in a pressure cooker
2. heat 2 tbsp on butter in pan, add ginger garlic paste and onions
3. once onions turn brown add tomatoes and fry till tomatoes turn soft
4. add boiled vegetables and mash well with potato masher
5. add pav bhaji masala and salt.
6. mix well add water if consistency seems thick
7. toast Pav buns on both sides with a little butter
serve hot with onions and lemon wedge.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Khajoor Kaju ke laddu

Khajoor Kaju ke laddu
I love dates/Khajoor, especially the plump ones. Dates/Khajoor are loaded with Calcium,Iron, Folic acid and fiber.Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around the Persian Gulf, and have been cultivated since ancient times. Dates are used in a wide variety of dishes in the middle east/ Arabic region from stuffed desserts,to breads,puddings and even Beer.
Dates also have a medicinal value as a cleansing agent and as a astringent in intestinal troubles, also apparently helps in reducing hangover's too.Last week sent entry of Jalepeno Bhajj's for letter J,this weeks its "K" for Khajoor ke laddo for Nupur's A-Z vegetable series

This recipe uses tons of nuts, any type of nuts except peanuts can be used. Today used Pistachio and Cashew nuts, other nuts that will go well with Kajoor are Pecans, Walnuts and roasted Almonds.

Kajoor ke laddu's are very easy to prepare and it literally takes few minutes


1 cup Khajoor pitted and cut into small cubes
1 cup choice of unsalted nuts
pinch of Cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp Ghee

1. Heat a tbsp of ghee in a pan on low heat
2. Add chopped nuts and fry till they turn brown
3. now add chopped Khajoor and mix well, make sure its in low flame
4. A minute or two Khajoor will melt and will start forming into a sticky mush
5. mix nuts and Khajoor well until everything forms into a big lump ,this takes about 2 minutes on medium
6. remove from heat and allow it to cool for few minutes , while its still warm add oil on your palm and take a small portion and roll into a ball
7. additionally roll these balls into dessicated coconut and coat well

This makes a very delicious dessert, has a chewy consistency nuts and Khajoor compliment taste very well and give an excellent texture.Khajoor ke ladoo's are specially an excellent food for expectant mothers.Tuck these in the snack box and kids would love to eat after a soccer game.stays well for a weeks,expect that these disappear much quicker
Picture of dates, courtesy Wiki

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Roasted Rava Upma

Roasted Rava Upma

A colleague and good friend at work from my previous company always got this for her lunch. Lunch time for us was a discussion table about everything from diapers to global warming.I truly enjoyed my time there. Lunch time pretty much became a support group, since we all were of same age with kids finding a balance between work, kids and other things , it was nice to rant and ramble, often looking for tips and suggestions.

Coming to Upma when ever I tried to make like her's mine would always be mushy and sticky, tried different variations by adding less water more oil nothing worked, then eventually found out that Rava she used was roasted and coarse . This gives a very nice texture to upma ,it almost has consistency of uppitu . This can be done just in minutes and can be modified by adding veggies to your heart content ,now this makes one easy dish which is both nutritious and delicious. Also this is very light and does not make you feel stuffed.

1 cup roasted upma/suji Rava (coarse)
1 cup mixed vegetables
1 small potato peeled and cubed into small pieces
1 onion cubed into small pieces
1/2 tomato cut into small cubes
2 tbsp oil for thadka
1/4 cup cashew nuts
2 tbsp ginger finely chopped
2 G.chilies cut finely
8 - 10 curry leaves
1 tbsp jeera
1 tbsp urad dal
1 tbsp mustard seeds
Salt according to taste

1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan ,add Jeera , Urad dal, Mustard ,Ginger, G.Chiles, Cashew nuts, Curry leaves
2. Add Onions ,Potatoes , Tomatoes and mixed vegetables, when Onions turn translucent add 2 glasses on water add salt according to taste
3. let water come to full boil then slowly add suji ,while adding suji make sure to keep stirring, this will help in eliminating lumps.
4. Mix well and cook covered for 2 minutes.
5. Let is cool for 5-10 minutes this will make suji fluff up

Serve hot with a wedge of Lemon

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Spring Colors

After a cold and soggy winter, Spring is a much awaited time of the year. Days seem longer and weather get warmer,this gives me a chance to get my hands dirty in the backyard.My next passion after cooking is gardening. Gardening to me is very therapeutic, Planting seeds and saplings and see them blooms gives me a lot of satisfaction. Suddenly with warm weather it seems like color everywhere in the backyard, all the dead and dried trees suddenly seemed transformed into these plants with beautiful green color and produce a vibrant dose of colorful and fragrant flowers. Few pictures from my modest backyard.

First up Clementine, this beautiful vine produces abundant dark purple flowers thought out summer, When trained well it can cover trellis and forms a beautiful cover of flowers
One looks at these you can't help but smile, a beautiful creeper.Brought this at a local nursery in a 1 gallon pot,now this has spread itself quite a bit

This is my absolute favorite,It is an American Jasmine variety, one week during March and April the tree comes to a full bloom with thousand's of these tiny flowers extremely fragrant just blows your mind away.After this the whole year it behaves like a evergreen with no flowers.Though short lived I try to enjoy this beauty as much as I can.
This is English lavender, so fragrant and yet very delicate. Its gets even more fragrant when air dried.I usually pick a bunch of them enjoy in a vase when fresh and then tie it into a bunch and let it air dry in the garage. You can place this dry lavender in a cloth pouch and place in your linen closet, makes all your linens smell so good and fresh.
I planted this when I was expecting my first kid, so I seen it grow along with my son.
I am not sure of the name of this plant ,but love the color and shape, Thanks to Sia this is apparently called bird of paradise

Roses are my absolute favorite, I grow about 10 varieties. Of all the ones I grow this is my favorite ,this is a creeper and covers the entire fence with its burnt red,orange and yellow colors.A delight to watch the colors in summer
Yellow Iris, blooms only in March/April. Looks beautiful ,not fragrant and very short lived.Once planted these bloom in spring, completely die in fall and come spring again they shoot up like a pleasant surprise.
Gardenia, What can you say about this flower so beautiful and extremely fragrant.Pluck a few of these and place in a room the whole room will be filled with Gardenia fragrance. Saw these the first time we went to Hawaii, after coming back first thing I did was go buy this plant

Well I hope you all have enjoyed a tour of my garden as much I do

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Bhindi Masala (Lady's Finger Sabji)

Bhindi MasalaBhindi Masala

A very common item at our local restaurant's menu is Bindi Masala. Prior to this my only way to cook Bindi was just plain frying, But this recipe is a great alternative way to enjoy my favorite vegetable.

1 pound Bhindi (Lady Fingers) cut into small pieces
1 big Onion finely sliced vertically
1/2 Tomato cut into small cubes
Salt according to taste

For thadka
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp kasoori methi
1 tbsp Jeera
1 tsp Haldi
1 tbsp Garam Masala
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper


1. Heat 1 tbsp of Oil in a pan ,when hot add kasoori methi,haldi and ginger garlic paste and Jeera
2. Add Onion and fry till Onion turns translucent
3. Add Bhindi, salt and garam masala, mix well
4. once Bhindi is fried add tomato and Black pepper mix well and cook for 3-4 minutes

Serve with hot Roti's or Phulka

Atukula Pulihara (Poha Pulihara)

Atukula Pulihara (Poha Pulihara)Atukula Pulihara (Poha Pulihara)
Poha is one of the easiest food to make when you have time crunch or when you have unexpected visitors, Poha is made of rice that's husked and soaked in hot water and then pressed into thin flakes under rollers, used widely in all Indian cuisines from chivda ,dosa,upma and I have read that its made into a dessert in Maharashtra. Since its pre cooked preparing just takes minutes.
However today's recipe is from my grandmother, she would always make this to give as offering(prasadam) to a near by temple.This recipe is not instant, it requires a little preparation ahead and taste even better as a left over the next day.


1 cup Poha ( use a little thicker poha so when soaked does not get mushy)
1 cup tamrind juice (tamrind diluted with water, it should be of running consistency)
2 tbsp haldi
2 tbsp sugar/jaggery

For thadka

1 big onion cut into cubes
1 potato peeled and cubed
1 small cup peas ( optional)
1 small cup peanuts
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp Urad dal
1 tbsp jeera
2-3 chilies chopped fine
8-10 curry leaves
Corriander for garnish


1. Mix salt,Haldi,Sugar/Jaggery in tamarind juice and mix well
2. Add the above mixture to washed and drained poha,mix well ( when adding tamarind juice it should be just enough to cover poha and not make it soggy /mushy)
3. Let the above soak for about 6-8 hours
4. Poha will now have turned yellow and would have absorbed the tamrind flavor
5. Take a pan and when hot add oil,peanuts, mustard seeds,jeera,urad dal,G.chilies,Curry leaves mix well
6. Then add onion and potato saute till onions turn translucent
7. Add marinated poha and mix well and fry till poha gets a golden yellow color

Remove from heat garnish with corriander and usually served with sev .Sweetness of Onions and tarty taste of Poha compliment very well .Make a little extra because this tastes better the next day

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Crunchy Caramel Cashew Popcorn

Crunchy Caramel Cashew Popcorn

Recently I got a marketing/Spam mail from a popcorn company advertising their million flavors.This got me interested in trying to make flavored popcorn.I have tried caramel popcorn from gourmet stores and it is delicious. The softness of popcorn, crunchyness of caramel and nuts makes a delicious texture. Few other varieties that can be made would be Jalapeno cheese, Desi version with Chaat masala and Cheese would be a great variation. Anyways for today took the beaten path and made Caramel and Cashew Popcorn.

Few handy tips before making
1. Use non-stick cookware if possible to make caramel this makes cleaning very easy
2. Cover baking sheet completely using aluminum foil,else baking sheet will get very messy
3. Try to make popcorn and caramel at the same time, so when mixing it will make it easier if both of them are warm


1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 bag of popcorn preferable non-buttered
1 cup of unsalted nuts of choice (cashew, Peanuts, Pecans)

1.Microwave pop the 4 packets of popcorn this makes about 4 big bowls of popcorn

To make caramel
1.Heat a pan, when warm add butter,brown sugar,corn syrup and salt and bring it to a boil.when it forms big bubbles consistently it said to be boiled
2.remove from heat and add baking soda and any flavoring of choice like vanilla or cinnamon, I do not add any since I prefer just the caramel flavor

Process to make caramel Popcorn
1.Pre Heat oven at 250 C
2.line a baking with aluminum foil ,if not this will leave a mess that cannot be cleaned easily.
3.Pour the hot caramel over popcorn and mix well until all the corn is well coated
4.Place this in the oven and bake stirring every 15 minutes for about 1 hr
5.Remove from heat let it cool and place in a air tight containers

This makes for a easy and perfect hostess gift or a homemade gourmet gift for occations like Christmas etc..

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