Friday, November 13, 2009

ABC Halwa

This recipe has been adapted from Rajiv Kapoor's version.

Banana - 2
Apple - 1
Carrot - 2
Sugar - 150 gm
cashew and raisins for garnishing.
Ghee - 150 gm

Method :
Peel, core and chop the apple into small pieces. Peel and mash the banana. Peel and grate the carrots.
Roast the cashew and raisins and keep them aside. In the same pan, fry the grated carrot for a minute and then add the chopped apple and all of the sugar. Keep adding ghee in small quantities. Once you're done adding the ghee mix in the mashed banana and keep stirring till the mixture forms a ball and comes to halwa consistency. Garnish it. The colour of the halwa isn't bad, so few strands of safforn mixed in milk would do.

The original recipe calls for milk and desiccated coconut as well, but I feel the mashed fruit pulp would in itself take time to reach the desired consistency; so adding milk would mean more cooking time and the taste doesn't differ much. Also, I dislike crunchy coconut in halwa. This is ideal to leave the guests guessing on what's gone into the dessert. I did just that :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Zucchini dosa with tomato-zucchini-onion chutney

Inspired by Bouncing-Bubble's Ragi Dosa recipe I've been making different versions with grated vegetables added pretty often. I love how easy they are to make, and I love to think I'm adding nutritional value with all the veggies. And best of all, they're unfermented- I dont seem to have much luck with the fermentation process :(

Last night I prepped all my ingredients, went to the pantry to pull out the ragi and remembered, belatedly, emptying the jar a few weeks before. So because once dosas were in my mind, I absolutely needed to eat some, I decided to substitute rice flour with the ragi and because I dont like the chewy texture of plain rice flour I added some wheat flour to the batter too. The dosas turned out very tasty, and I'm excited to add another recipe to my repertoire of unfermented dosas. I think in future I'll experiment with the quantity of these flours. Until I made them I didnt even think of using atta in a dosa recipe but now I remember something my mom used to cook up with jaggery. Some zucchini got incorporated into the chutney recipe and was, again, surprisingly tasty to eat.

Zucchini dosa
The cup measurements are for teacups, if using the actual cup measure, adjust the quantities of ingredients and vegetables accordingly.

1 cup rice flour
half cup wheat flour
half small red onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, grated with skin
5-6 curry leaves, chopped, if you like eating them, keep whole otherwise
handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
quarter cup yogurt (optional)
1 tbsp. ginger, grated or finely chopped
salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients (except salt) together. If I add yogurt to a batter I like to set it aside for about 15 mins, adding just a little water because the zucchini will let out water as it rests, you can add more later.

When ready to make the dosas, add enough water to allow the dosa to spread on the pan and salt to taste. Pour onto a hot pan sprinkled with oil. Cover the dosa for a little while (the rice flour needs to cook), then turn it and let it brown a bit on the other side. Serve hot with chutney.

Tomato-zucchini-onion chutney

1 tsp mustard seeds
a pinch of asafoetida (hing)
4/5 red chillies (adjust to taste)
half small red onion, chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
half small zucchini, chopped
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp chana dal

Add a little oil to a hot pan and roast the red chillies with hing. Set them aside, then roast the urad dal and chana dal separately and set aside.

Add the onion, tomatoes and zucchini to the pan, cover and let cook on medium heat until the tomatoes and zucchini are soft.

Add all the ingredients used so far into a mixer and grind to a fine paste with salt added to taste.

In a vessel heat some oil, add the mustard seeds to it and let pop. Add the mustard and oil to the chutney and serve.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dahi Tales

Inspired by the post by Couchpapaya.

Dahi butter is the simplest thing to make. Place some dahi in a strainer for one or two of hours till the water (is that called whey?) is nearly drained off. Refrigerate this dahi and use like butter. Wont keep for long and is not as tasty as butter, but is healthier. You could even begin to love it more than butter, tastes something like white butter, without the fat.

For Shrikhand tie up the dahi in a square of muslin cloth and hang for at least 6 hours to drain out all the water. Take the drained dahi and mix it with sugar as per taste. Stretch the muslin cloth over a bowl or patila till it is tight as drum, then take dollops of the dahi and strain it through the muslin. Your basic Shrikhand is ready.

You can add kesar/ ripe mango peices/ dry fruit as garnish. If the basic Shrikhand is too thick you can thin it a bit by adding lil bit of milk. Serve Cold.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bagalabath (Rice and Vermicelli)

Few things are more boring than curd rice. Bagalabath is a tastier form of curd rice.
Bagalabath (with rice) :-
ingredients :
Rice (preferably short grain pudding rice) - 1 cup
milk - 2 cups
Yogurt - as required
A knob of butter and salt as required.
Fried Cashew nuts, pomegranate, green grapes, finely chopped raw mango and chopped coriander leaves for garnishing.
chopped green chillis, grated ginger, mustard, urid dhal, hing and curry leaves for seasoning.

Pressure cook 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of milk. Allow the cooked rice to cool then add curd in small potions and butter. Then comes the seasoning and garnishing as mentioned above. It should be noted that 1 cup of rice when cooked with milk and mixed with curd could yield a huge quantity, much more than what would be expected when plain rice is mixed with curd.

Vermicelli Bagalabath:-
A cup of vermicelli is to be fried in a pan with little oil until it turns golden brown. Then a cup of water and a cup of milk and until the vermicelli sticks turn tender. (Note not to overcook, as that would crush the sticks while mixing). Seasoning and garnishing as mentioned above.


We had invited our friend and his family for dinner last weekend. They are from Northern part of India, and have a keen interest on TN cuisine, so I made authentic south style food for them. Posting few recipes of which I clicked pics. These are very common down south, yet delecable ones.

Ingredients :-
Snakegourd - 500 gm
salt - 2 tsp
Toor dhal - 1/2 cup
channa dhal- 1/2 cup
red chillis- 2 or 3
for seasoning - mustard, urid dhal (whole or broken), hing and curry leaves.

Method :-
Soak Toor and channa dhal for 2 hours in warm water and then coarsely grind them adding a spoon of salt and 2-3 chillis. Keep the mixture aside.
Boil some water in a pan and cook the chopped snakegourd. Remember that about an ounce of water would do for cooking the said quantity of the vegetable. Once the veggie is cooked, add a spoon of salt, mix well and keep it aside.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet, add mustard, let them splutter then add urid hing and curry leaves. Saute them. Now add the lentils mixture, simmer and cook until the mixture turns brown. Keep stirring as the mixture tends to stick to the pan. You may add oil generously to speeden the process, else it takes about 20 minutes. Once you could sense the aroma of nicely fried dhal, add the cooked vegetable and mix well (making sure not to break the veggie into very small unidentifiable pieces!!).
This paruppusili is a common item in the platter of marriages or any such functions in Tamil Nadu.
ps:Other than snakegourd vegetables like Green Beans, Runner Beans or Mangetout (Avarakkai in Tamil), Carrot or Banana Flower could be used.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sabudana khichdi

As a kid, I used to wait avidly for fasting day - for Maharashtrian fasts we load up on starches and peanuts and the food is mouthwateringly delicious!! One of the staples of the fast is the sabudana (sago/tapioca pearl) khichdi. Nowadays I dont need any excuses, I make it whenever I need some quick and easy comfort food.

Soaking the sabudana pearls
This is perhaps the most labour intensive part of the entire process and the soaking can make or break your khichdi. Too much water results in a mushy mess which will cleave to your palate and under-soaking (and then cooking it because you are too tired and hungry to think of anything else) will result in either a couple of teeth missing or a rubberized mess .... so pay attention here.

Different types of sabudana require different times for soaking. In maharashtra you get the absolute freshest pearls which take 2-3 hours to soak. The ones available to me here require 8 hours and more. You'll have to do some trial and error. To figure out when the pearls are soaked perfectly - squeeze ONE pearl gently between thumb and forefinger, if it's squishy and gets back it's shape like elastic without any hard parts then it's done, if it is completely squished to powder then it's over soaked. Repeat for a few more pearls - sometimes you find that one is done, others are still hard at the center. In this case, let them soak for some more time - patience is your friend here.

What works for me - I take the pearls in a sieve, rinse them in running water for about 2-3 minutes (if not using a sieve, rinse then drain), then cover and keep aside. Before covering, I take a handful of water and sprinkle on top. From time to time, I uncover and stir the pearls, if they feel dryish I sprinkle a couple handfuls of water. Do this until the soak test above is succesful.

Sabudana Khichdi
You can add chopped parboiled potatoes after the green chillies in step 1 below, fry until they cook well, then add the sabudana. I skip this since I hate potato in my khichdi but this is the traditional way. Also the amount of peanut powder is conservative, you can certainly go crazy!! All the cup measurements below are actually teacup instead of the standard cup. 1 teacup = 120 ml.

2 cups sabudana, soaked
1 and a half cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, ground to a chunky peanut powder
5/6 green chillies - finely sliced (I like heat, adjust yours accordingly)
cumin seeds
half tsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste
juice of 1 lemon
large handful of chopped coriander leaves

Heat oil in a vessel on high heat. Add the cumin seeds, when they start sputtering, add green chillies and fry them for a bit.

Add the sabudana, peanut powder, salt and sugar. Reduce heat to medium and let it cook. Contrary to the patience it required before to soak the sabudana, you cant leave this alone for even a minute - it WILL burn! What I do is I cover for half a minute, then uncover and give it a stir and so on until the pearls are steamed through. When they start looking transluscent instead of the milky hue earlier you know they're done. Alternatively, just chew on them. It doesnt take long, I give them about 3-4 stirs and the khichdi is done.

Squeeze half the lemon and add more according to your taste. Check your salt seasoning.

Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve hot with a cup of thick yogurt as accompaniment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Raw Plaintain (vazhakai) crispies

Everytime I empty the carton of corn flakes into an air tight container, I found myself staring at the crushed pieces left behind. Apart from using them for cutlets, the powdered flakes could be used for the following recipe as well.

Peel and thinly slice the raw banana and soak the pieces in water to avoid discolouration. To the crushed corn flakes, add salt, hing, ground pepper and haldi, and spread the mixture in a dry plate. Coat the cut banana with the mixture on both sides. (a thin layer would do). Heat the tava, grease it with just a hint of oil, and place the pieces on the tava. Cook both sides in medium flame, adding little oil, so that they don't stick to the tava. Remove when they are slightly brown. Makes for a great starter, and are MUCH better when compared to all the pakoras/bhajis (and the ensuing guilty consciousness!)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bottlegourd Surprise

A friend had invited our family for dinner. She had prepared bottlegourd halwa for dessert and I was absolutely bowled over by the taste. That's when I realised I had NEVER used bottlegourd earlier. I decided to give it a try and with the tips from my mum, prepared the below mentioned dish. I made kheer, halwa, koottu and curry (on different days ofcourse!!) and I'm impressed with the veggie, which is supposed to have nutritional benefits as well.
Here's one which could be had with rice / rotis.

Ingredients :-
Bottlegourd - about 500 gm
cumin seeds - 1 tablespoon
curd - 1 tablespoon
grated coconut - 1 cup
green chillis - 2
coriander leaves - just enough to garnish
salt - 1 spoon or as per your taste
Mung dhal - 1 tablespoon
Oil - 1 tablespoon

Method :-
Soak the mung dhal in double the quantity of water. Set it aside for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a pan and add oil. Add some jeera (cumin seeds) and saute for few seconds.(make sure jeera doesn't turn dark). Now add bottle gourd pieces (peeled and cut into small cubes) and saute for few seconds. Add some water and allow the vegetable to cook until just tender. Add salt while the veggie is getting cooked, so that the salt is absorbed within the veggie. Simmer the hob. Grind chillis, jeera and grated coconut (chutney consistency) and add the mixture to the pan. Leave it for sometime for all the ingredients to blend well. Once off the hob, allow it to cool and then add the mung dhal (make sure to drain all water) and curd. Garnish with coriander leaves/parsley.

-Any dish that you prepare using a combi of coconut and jeera would taste better if you use coconut oil.
- This could be prepared without mung dhal, and would only taste better.

I couldn't call it curry, as there was this gravy.. couldn't name it kootu either as it wasn't of that consistency.. Kosumbari wasn't a good choice for the name as that wouldn involve raw veggies...hence just called it bottlegourd surpirse.. sorry peoples..if you've thought this to be some icecream recipe (like mango surprise).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cabbage With A Spicy Twist

I have majorly been a good girl as far as eating is concerned. I eat most of the vegetables. However there are certain vegetables which I don’t hate per se but I don’t enjoy eating them as well. Tinda, lauki & cabbage are case in example. Thanks to my Mom I know a recipe of cabbage which makes it taste different and tasty (somewhat!).


(Serves 2)

Cabbage                    ½ kg (Finely cut)

Potato                       1 (sliced)

Onion                        1 big (finely chopped)

Tomato                      1 (Finely Chopped)

Salt                           To Taste   

Red Chilly Powder        To Taste

Oil                            1 teaspoon

Ginger Garlic Paste      1 tablespoon


Whole Garam Masala i.e.

Ajwain                       ½ tea spoon

Elaichi                        1 big & 1 small

Cloves                       3-4

Cinnamon                   A very small piece

Tej Pata                     1 small

Black Pepper              4-5

Dry whole Red Chilli     1

In a kadhai pour the oil, as soon as it heats up put the whole Garam masala. As soon as it splutters put in the chopped onions & cook it on medium heat.

As the onion turns transparent add cabbage & potato, salt & chilly powders to taste, cover the thing and let it cook on low flame. After say about 5-10 mins put the ginger garlic paste; turn the vegetables and let it cook. When the veggies are cooked add tomato and cover the thing and let it cook. 

When the tomato is cooked, pull away the lid and cook the vegetable at high flame for 5 mins and the vegetable is ready. Garnish it with coriander and serve preferably with paratha’s.

This dish is very easy & simple to cook but the khada garam masala (whole) & ajwain change the taste of the subzi.

The same recipe can be used alternatively for different vegetable; all you have to do is to replace the cabbage with a cauliflower.

With the same recipe you can make Dum Aloo (take baby potatoes) and all you have to do is to add a teaspoon of curd while adding tomato. Rest all remains the same.

Trust me this recipe has never failed me and if you have surprise guests at dinner and only have boring vegetable like cabbage at home then this is the best variation you can come up with.

PS: The Garam masala makes the thing spicy so go slow as far as red chilly is concerned

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Vegetable Idli

Tired of waiting for the normal idli batter to ferment, I once attempted this variation of idli for dinner. First time it didn't click (reason given below), but thereafter everytime I prepare this, its a hit.

Ingredients :-

Sooji - 2 cups
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Carrots - 2
Peas - 100 gm
Beans - 100 gm
Broken cashewnuts - few
Curd - 2 cups
Salt - as reqd.
Green chillis - 2
Hing - little

Method :-
If you have roasted sooji/rava well and good, otherwise roast the sooji in little ghee for about a minute and let it cool in a bowl. Add salt, hing and then add curd little by little, till you reach the required consistency. (i.e.a little bit thicker one than the usual idli batter). Cut the green chillis into small pices and add it. (Alternatively, slit the green chillis longitudinally and add them. This could be removed before you set the cooker-I personally prefer this, as you don't have to struggle with the chilli pieces in your mouth). Set aside the batter for about an hour. In the meantime, grate the carrots and chop the green beans into tiny pieces. Fry the broken cashews in ghee. Add the cut vegetables and cashewnuts to the batter and place them in greased idli plates. Idlis could be cooked in the pressure cooker for 15-20 minutes until they are soft enough.

This tiffin is not just tasty, but has a nice aroma.

Tastes best with tomato chutney.

ps:Do not be tempted to add the veggies earlier on to the batter. To know why, read second line from above. Grated carrot oozes out the juice and spoils the whole process.

Friday, April 24, 2009

White Bean Soup

Too many soups? Well, I'm trying to cook healthy and I love soups, because they're tasty, pack a nutritional punch and best of all are so easy to make. Pair them with a salad/sandwich or even a simple entree and you have a fabulous weekday dinner.

I tried a new recipe this week, made with the versatile cannellini or white beans, it's creamy texturally because of the pureed beans and milk and very satisfying. I used a pressure cooker to cook the beans since they take a long time to cook (>30 mins on the stovetop in Ina's recipe), but you can definitely use canned beans to save time. I used whole peppercorns and if you dont like getting one in your mouth, substitute with the powder or use a bouquet garni. I liked this version a lot because I think the original might be a bit bland for my tastes.

Though I do feel like I might be desifying all my recipes a bit much, will make a conscious effort not to use cumin/curry powder in the next soup I try :)

White Bean Soup
Adapted from Ina Garten's recipe

1 and three quarter teacups dried white (cannellini) beans (1 teacup ~125 ml)
1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth
half cup low-fat milk (other options: cream, half and half)
water if needed
1 heaped tablespoon ground cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
6-7 pepper corns
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. italian seasoning
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Soak the white beans overnight.

Next day, drain the beans and put in the pressure cooker. Add the bay leaf, peppercorns and enough broth (I used 2 cups) to cook the beans. It took 6 whistles with my pressure cooker. Keep them aside, dont throw away the cooking liquid.

In a stock pot, heat some oil and add the red pepper flakes. Once it becomes aromatic, add the onions and stir them on medium heat until they become transparent.

Add the garlic, cumin powder, italian seasoning (crush in hand a little bit) or fresh rosemary as the original recipe states, a little salt and pepper if needed and cook until the garlic becomes soft. Add some of the cooking liquid from the cooked beans if the cumin powder starts burning.

Add the beans, rest of the liquids and simmer for about 5-10 mins.

Fish out the bay leaf (and any other herbs), then puree the mixture to the desired consistency, and check the seasoning. If you like the soup thinner, add more broth/water.

Serve hot.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Raw Mango Pachadi

One of the reasons I look forward to festivals is the delectable food that gets to be made. Today is Tamil New Year's Day and Maangai Pachadi (Raw Mango Pachadi) is one compulsory item in the menu.

Ingredients :
Raw Mango - 1
Jaggery - About half the size of mango
Salt - as reqd.
Red Chillis - 2
neem flower - about a teaspoon full
Oil, Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, curry leaves and hing - for seasoning

Method :
Cut the raw mango to about 1 inch pieces. Set aside the seed. Heat some oil in a pan, allow the mustard seeds to splutter and add cumin seeds & curry leaves, saute for a second. Then add the cut pieces of raw mango, saute for few seconds, then add water, and allow the mango to cook well. (keep in mind that the skin of the mango should also be cooked-check this with a fork).When its half cooked, add salt.

Grate jaggery and add the same to the pan. Mix well and serve with rice. This can be had as a side.

This dish which contains five different tastes [sour (raw mango), sweet (jaggery), bitter (neem flower) , hot (red chilli) and salt] represents the different states of mind or emotions in one's life.

If Neem Flower is not to be found, the same can be substituted with powdered Methi seeds for the bitter taste.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Daliya Khichddi - For All Those Who are Fighting Weight ;-)

People like us who have an ongoing fight against fat keep hitting a road block because of the lack of a tasty diet food. Let me share with you the recipe of a dish which is not only low in fats but is rich in fiber and is tasty as well.

I am talking about ‘Daliya’ also known ‘Broken Wheat’ at some places it is also known as ‘laapsi’. It is usually eaten in a sweetened form but since I hate sweets I make a ‘khicchdi’ out of it. It is simple & quick to cook.

As per google, Broken wheat is also known as Bulgar wheat. Broken wheat is a very good source of dietary fiber and manganese. It is also a good source of magnesium.


  • Cumin Seeds – half a teaspoon
    (Alternatively you can use Mustard seeds & Curry Leaves instead of cumin seeds)
  • Asafoetida (Heeng) – A pinch
  • Finely chopped Onion – 1
  • Small pieces of Potato – 1 (can be skipped)
  • Finely chopped Tomato - 1
  • A variety of vegetables like, beans, carrot, peas, cauliflower etc all finely cut.
  • Coriander leaves – a small bunch
  • Ginger Garlic paste – ½ teaspoon
  • 1 Green Chilly finely cut (you can obviously skip this)
  • Roasted Broken Wheat – 1 & ½ cup
  • Oil – 1 drop
  • Salt to taste
  • Red Chilly powder to taste

Take a pressure cooker, pour a drop of oil and put heeng & cumin seeds. As soon as the seeds start spluttering add the onions. As the onions turn transparent add tomato, all the vegetables, ginger garlic paste, salt & the chilly powder. Let it cook for a minute & then pour the Daliya in. Again let the whole thing cook for a minute or so.

Add water in it, the water should be such that the whole thing is submerged in it and there is about an inch of water above the whole thing. Close the lid & cook on full flame. As the first whistle blows slow down the gas and after around 5-6 minutes close the gas.

As the steam is out take the thing out and garnish it with coriander powder.

I usually have it with curd or green chutney. The whole process takes 15-20 mins but it tastes tasty and still is very light.

This is my favorite dish on days when I want to keep it light :-)

TIP : It is better that you roast the daliya and store it. This not only saves time later but also avoids it from getting spoiled.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

Since I'm on a diet, I wanted a simple to make, hearty, low-fat vegetable soup for lunch or dinner. The idea was to use butternut squash as base. Butternut squash is sweet by itself (I'd say it tastes the same but is a bit sweeter than the pumpkin) and the recipe I wanted to make had honey added into it. Knowing I wouldn't be able to tolerate a sweetish soup I decided to add some vegetables and a dash of my favorite instant kicker-upper, a habanero chilli. The half a habanero is quite enough to spice up the soup, if you want a kick you could add more though I cant say I will be responsible for the effects. My principle with the habanero is to err on the side of caution. Coming back to the soup, I made a huge batch to freeze, I would say this would generate about 7-8 or more servings. The soup was really tasty -a tad sweetish, more savoury- I'm sure I'll be making this recipe again.

Butternut Squash Soup

4 lb butternut squash, chopped into 1" cubes
5 stalks celery , chopped into 1" pieces
1 big leek, slice the light-green and white parts
half small head napa cabbage, chopped
5-6 pieces garlic, minced
half a habanero chilli, minced
2 tbsp curry powder
1 and a half tsp cumin powder
pinch nutmeg
salt and black pepper to taste
32 oz vegetable broth

Heat some oil in a large pot. Add the garlic and leeks and fry till they become soft.

Add the rest of the vegetables + spice powders + broth. If the vegetables aren't covered with the broth, add water until they are covered.

Let boil, then simmer for 15-20 mins until the squash becomes soft. Add salt and about half a tsp of black pepper, adjust to taste. Puree to a smooth paste.

Serve hot w. a dollop of non-fat yogurt/sour cream/croutons/chopped cilantro/chopped parsley.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It is baking time :-) - A Simple Chocolate Walnut Cake...

An Old recipe re-published ;-)
This cake/ brownie is a one stop solution for following situations

- You are craving to eat a cake but there is no bakery nearby
- Your fren is giving a treat and you want give him/her something different & special
- You want to surprise somebody special but have no culinary skills as such
- You want make your day special for yourself, pamper yourself....
- You have just remembered that its your best friend’s b’day as he/ she calls u, you don’t have time to buy a gift….
- You have hurt somebody & want to patch up sweetly
- Somebody has hurt you, you can suggest him/ her to do this for you ;-)

It can make your day special and It will also make the day special for someone else :-) as you have toiled for it and something which is home made always manages to touch us....

BUT before I start away with the finer details, few things which you need to do before starting baking
- Put up a smile on your face, it affects the sweetness in the cake :-)
- Start imagining some special day of your add on to the excitement
- Wear a lovely dress before u start the process of making & baking (but wear an apron on it otherwise you’ll be cursing me)

Now let's work on the Creating the Magic

:::: Go Get these ::::

~~ Microwave or Oven

~~ A baking dish(Choose a shape as per your mood if you are baking it for your loved one then choose a heart shaped dish... capacity would be 1-1.5 liters)

~~ Brown Sugar (Powdered)1 1/2 cup...if you are not able to find the brown sugar, use normal sugar. The amount of sugar can be increased suiting the sweetness you need

~~ 4 Eggs

~~ 1 Cup Butter / Refined oil

~~ 1 Cup Maida (Flour)

~~ 200 Gms of cooking chocolate (Chocolate bar) Easily available in any bakery, use the bitter chocolate. DO NOT USE EATING CHOCOLATE AS AN EXCUSE, IT AFFECTS THE TASTE

~~ Chocolate/ Vanilla Essence

~~ 100 Gms of Walnut, grounded but not finely

~~ Black cherries

~~ Baking Powder 2 tbsp.

While buying these, buy some flowers, it will freshen your mood :-)(BTW Cup is a normal sized cup usually used for drinking tea/ coffee)

:::: Time for Some Action ::::

Stop!!!!!! Play some nice music in the background and do a jig, it will put you in a good mood and the brownie will come out lovely...BUT don’t fall while doing the jig ;-)

~~ Sift the flour & baking powder. Use a thin channi and sift it 8-9 times, this ensures there will be no lumps in the cake.

~~ Melt the chocolate in the microwave & let it cool down.

~~ Separate the egg yellow and beat the egg white, after it is beaten to death ;-) add the yellow part in it and beat it.

~~ Now add the powdered sugar and oil/ butter in it and beat it.

~~ Once that is done add the flour and fold it. DO NOT beat it just mix it slowly -slowly avoiding making lumps.

~~ Once that is done add 1 tbsp of essence. Take the melted chocolate and mix it in the above batter.

~~ Add the Vanilla & chocolate essence...just few drops

~~ Also add the walnuts in it along with the cherry.

~~ Spread some oil evenly in the baking dish and then pour the batter in it...sprinkle some cherries & walnuts in the batter

.:::: Oh La La!!! Its Baking Time ::::

~~ Pre-Heat the microwave in convection mode for 2 minutes.
~~ Put the lower grill of the micro wave and put the baking dish in. Temperature & Time. In case its convection mode – 180 degree C, initially set the timer for 37 Minutes. After the times is up take out the dish, take a knife put it in the center of the cake if it comes out clean then its ok otherwise put a further timer of 5 minutes. After that let the dish be, in the microwave for 10 minutes. Then take it out and let it cool down (though hot cake too sounds yummy!!!)

In case it’s a Microwave- Temperature would be 540 Degree C. And time would 8-10 minutes and rest all process remains the same.

If you have a choice bake in convection mode, since it's slow cooking the result is 100 times better, the brownies is softer and anything which is softer is better ;-)

Few things to be kept handy

- Gloves to handle the microwave
- Hanky to wipe the drool :)
- If you have kids keep them with you poora time, they might come in between sometimes but the memory of home made cake, the aroma & the whole process will be etched in their mind forever.
Give them the eggs to beat...they will love doing it, trust me. Am saying this from experience....cake baking used to be an occasion at our home and I still love reliving those moments....

Few things you are sure to feel while the batter gets pregnant and delivered...

- A sense of achievement when you see the cake swelling up
- A sense of achievement for doing something yourself for your loved one
- An excitement to get it out quickly
- When the aroma will flow across there will be tingling of your taste bud & of your padosi’s too ;-)
- AND please keep smiling poora time...there is nothing sweeter than a smile and even the cake will start smiling seeing your smile and would come out better.

You know na, Smile is infectious ;-)

Total time spent in getting this ready would be one hour and you’ll gain so much after this one in weight, happiness & love....

And you’ll also spread...weight ;-), love, sweetness & happiness...

So happy caking & baking....

And yes, am not fond of sweets but can’t keep my hands off this one ;-)

Saturday, March 14, 2009


One of the best things about winters setting in here is the early morning calls made by saag vendors. One look at the carts can make you feel healthy. It is loaded with fresh tender green stalks of Sarson leaves, fresh tender and green baathu(, fresh tender and green Palak and juicy white and fresh radishes with green leaves. So much goodness that goes so cheap. You come away with armloads of this stuff for much less than a hundred.

Check the sarson leaves for freshness, tenderness and unspotted leaves. Ditto for Palak. Dont forget to get a couple of radishes with leaves. Of course the radishes in Chandigarh are huge, one can weigh a kilo. You need a Sarson-saag n Palak ratio of 2:1 (my favorite ratio - though you can even go 3:1). Palak can be substituted with Baathu - though my favorite is palak, it makes the saag softer. Or you can add the palak and baathu half-half. If you have bought the mooli with leaves and they look fresh, you can add the mooli leaves to the saag too.

Take a break - listen to this song while you read this ...

Wash all the leaves liberally with fresh water, so there are no vestiges of mitti. These days the saag is well washed by the vendor, so little needs to be done. People in US will probably get everything in packs anyhow. OK, so post washing chop the sarson leaves WITH THE STALKS (the tender part, do away with any hoary ones) in about half a cm bits. I love the scent of mustard when you are cutting up the leaves. Cut up the palak similarly, and/or baathu n mooli leaves. Put it all in a pressure cooker and turn the heat to low. Usually the saag here is so juicy that it sheds water immediately, if your saag looks kinda dry put in some water, enough to cover the saag. Put in half an inch of ginger and a few pods of garlic, some salt (be a little stingy with salt as the saag is kinda naturally salty, you can add later when it is done)

Let the cooker sing for at least 30 mins on low flame and inhale the aroma of saag. Switch the heat off n let the cooker cool off to warm. Traditionally one lady holds the cooker steady with a towel and another uses some kinetic energy to stir the saag into a fine paste with a ghotna, a thick wooden stick with a flat bottom. But these days, alas, we just dump the almost cool paste into a mixie and whir it into a paste - dont mix too much, as a very fine paste does not taste too good.

In a saucepan, heat some desi ghee (tadka size) n put in a pinch of heeng n some red n green chillies, if you neglected to put in ginger and garlic with the boiling saag, now is the chance. Throw the tadka over the saag n stir, n heat on low flame for a bit till it looks all mixed up. Sarson da saag keeps for a long time, so the trick is to re-tadka it whenever you serve it again. A cousin of mine had this killer tadka of diced spring onions and tomatoes with a lot of green chillies and red chillies... yummy !

Makki ki roti is a bit more complex, because the atta is very roughly ground and does not bind too well. Some people like to add a lot of wheat flour to it to make it bind well and roll like a chappati, I dont like that. Mix makki ka atta with wheat atta in the ratio of 4:1. One cup will make about two rotis, so figure that out. Dont forget to throw in a pinch of salt in the makki atta. Use slightly hot water to bind the atta. Add little water at a time and mix well, the atta should be quite soft and lumpy, not as hard as the wheat atta mix.

Sigh ! My aunts used to scoop up big balls (tennis ball size) of makki ki roti and pat out a roti with their hands, flipping it expertly on to a hot tawa. Luckily, i learnt the plastic sheet trick. Make a ball n a peda with the atta and throw a sprinkle of water on a plastic sheet laid out on a chakla. set the peda down on the pastic sheet in pat a roti into shape with your hands, keep your hands wet with the warm water. Start out with small pedas - about the same size as the wheat ones, till you get the trick. Flip the roti on your hand by turning the plastic sheet and slap it on the tawa. Cook it like a parantha. Serve the thali of makki di roti te sarson da saag with a bit of mooli, spring onions and nimbu ka achar.

Makki di roti tastes yummy with kadi as well. I love makki-methi di roti and makki-mooli di roti. To make that you have to grate some mooli (or chopped/cleaned methi leaves) and mix with makki ka atta before you bind it. Put in a bit of chopped dhania and hari mirch too. On no account forget to salt the makki ka atta before you bind it, it tastes quite bland without it. Initially you can make makki di roti slightly bigger than a tikki till you learn how to handle the ductile atta.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sweet Corn Recipes

When we were young, the sibling and me were totally predictable. At any Chinese restaurant, the first thing we would order was Sweet Corn Soup. My parents tried very hard to get us to taste other items "Arent you bored yet?" Nope, we wanted our bowls of soup - 1 by 2. Once I moved to the US and those cravings hit me .... you can see where this is going right? It snowed last night and I figured it was the perfect time to make a delicious bowl of hot, comforting, delicious Sweet Corn Chicken Soup. The recipe below is so quick and easy and the taste beats the Knorr soup packets hollow!

The second recipe is for a sweet corn dip, served canape style. You know, those finicky little appetizer things where rows of fried bread are laid out on a tray, topped with the dip and then decorated with some herbs. Totally delicious, too much work! The dip has always been a huge hit at parties so I take the easy way out and serve it with crackers or salted biscuits and let my guests assemble their own portions.

For both the recipes I use cans of cream-style corn (or creamed corn) available in the grocery stores. You see now why I invariably stock this item in my pantry. Love the stuff!! Try these recipes and you'll love it too ....

Sweet Corn (Chicken) Soup

1 can cream-style corn
garlic, finely chopped
ginger, finely chopped
2 spring onions, chopped, separate the white and green parts
french beans, thinly sliced
carrots, grated
celery, thinly sliced (optional)
chicken, boiled and shredded (optional)
1 can chicken stock/ vegetable stock/ water + couple of cups of water
1 tbsp. corn starch (optional)
2 green chillies, chopped fine
soy sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

Add the chopped green chillies to a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pot. Immediately add the ginger and garlic. Fry, dont let them burn.

Add the whites of the spring onions and fry till they become soft. Add the rest of the veggies and let them cook till semi-soft.

Add the cream-style corn, stir well. Then add chicken, stock+water, salt, pepper, bring to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes. The vegetables should finish cooking now. If you want, you can thicken the consistency of the soup by adding in the corn flour mixed with water.

Remove from heat and stir in the greens of the spring onions.

Serve with soy sauce and the chillies in vinegar for garnishing.

Sweet Corn Dip

1 can cream-style corn
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 spring onion, chopped, separate the white and green parts
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat some oil in a pan. Add the garlic and chillies and fry for some time. The cream-style corn is sweet so add more green chillies if your taste buds can handle them.

Add the whites of the spring onions. After they become soft, stir in the can of corn. Test the dip for seasoning adding salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat, stir in the greens of the spring onions.

Serving suggestions: Cut a slice of bread into 4 (or 6) pieces, deep fry. Arrange the fried bread on a plate. Top with the dip, then top with either a mix of onion+tomato+chopped coriander leaves or just finely chopped coriander leaves.

Alternatively, serve alongside your favorite crackers/ biscuits.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ragi Dosa

Evening tiffin is a much anitcipated mandatory weekend routine in my parents' home. It was a challenging task though, for my mom. But she had the able guidance of my granny, who had bequeathed her with myriad recipes. Ragi Dosa was one of them

Sweet Ragi Dosa:
The good news is you don't need sugar for this!
Ingredients :
Ragi Flour (millet) - 1 cup
Rice Flour - 1 Tablespoon
Jaggery - 1 cup
Cardamom - 4/5 pods
Desiccated coconut - 1/2 cup
Ghee - 1 teaspoon

Method :-
Heat some water in a pan and dissolve the jaggery in it. It would be advisable to distil it after the jaggery is fully dissolved to do away with impurities if any. Add ragi and rice flour to it. Add powdered cardamom as well. Coconut and ghee are optional and I always avoid them in this dish, as sans that ragi dosa is a healthy tiffin.

Heat a pan, and rub an oiled cloth on it. You can make dosas by just rubbing the cloth after each dosa, i/o sprinkling oil. With the iron content in jaggery and the energy that you could gain from ragi, this really becomes a good tiffin. Can be had without any side dish for either b/f or dinner... or a nice evening tiffin like how I used to relish during my childhood days!

Spicy Ragi Dosa :-
Ragi Flour - 1 cup
Rice Flour - 1 tablespoon
salt- as per taste (about a spoon would do)
Onion - 1 finely chopped
Cumin seeds - 1 spoon
Corriander leaves - 1/2 a bunch, finely chopped
Grated ginger, asafoetida

Mix all the above and add water little by little to make batter with such a consistency that if you pour one ladle of it on the sides of the pan and gently move the pan, it should spread to form a fine dosa.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ragda Patties

Though I say I dont like to cook that is not exactly true, I only hate cooking the ordinary stuff dal-chawal, chapatti-bhaji, etc. Tonight as I looked into my fridge and saw a mundane pumpkin and some veg kofta balls I had made in bulk and frozen weeks earlier I knew instinctively what I would end up picking for dinner.

The problem was what to make with them, I have been experimenting with malai kofta recipes and have yet to find a decent one, but I would have to make chapattis too, more work than I was in the mood for. Or I could make a re-imagined Veg balls in hot garlic sauce with fried rice. But, we are on a diet and B will NOT eat rice at night.

And then I hit upon the perfect solution, why not fry them up as cutlets and make my favorite chaat - Ragda Patties. As you might have figured by now, our diet plan is highly selective, even before I put the question to B I knew he would be heartily endorsing shallow fried potatoes for dinner.

The recipe I have for this mouth-watering chaat is amazingly simple, made even simpler since I had a lot of the fixings on hand - I always keep a jar of tamarind-date chutney in my pantry and of course I had the koftas. Squashing the koftas didnt make for very pretty cutlets but they were going to be coverd with the ragda anyway. Because I had made them earlier they had peas, cashews etc in them but for the actual recipe I like to keep the potato cutlets very simple, just like you get on the roadside in Mumbai. The whole thing should take about an hour, less if you are more organized than me.

Ragda Patties

For the Patties: (Should make appox 8 large cutlets)
Potatoes - 3/4 large sized, turmeric and salt.

For the ragda:
Dried White Peas - 1 and a half cups (I use teacups of 125 ml), 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Grind to a paste - 3/4 green chillies, 3/4 large cloves of garlic, 1" ginger, 2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp shah jeera seeds, 7-8 pepper corns, 2-3 dried red chillies, 3-4 pieces cinnamon, 4 cloves.

For garnish:
Chop finely 1 small onion, mix with finely chopped coriander leaves and keep aside.
Tamarind-Date chutney (plain tamarind will do too)
Coriander, Cumin, Pepper and Red chilli Powders.

For the patties: Boil and grate the potatoes (you could mash them too but I like the consistency of grated better). Mix turmeric and salt to taste, shape into cutlets and shallow fry them. If desired, some boiled peas from the next step can be stuffed into the center of the cutlets.

For the ragda: Soak the peas overnight, then boil them with the baking soda in a pressure cooker (if you dont soak the peas beforehand, you will have to cook them longer) and keep aside. In a kadai, heat some oil, add the ground masala paste and fry for a little time, add the peas, salt and let boil until desired thickness is reached.

Assemble the chaat:
Place the cutlets in a plate, pour the ragda on top, add onion+coriander, the tamarind chutney and sprinkle with all the four powders.

Enjoy :D