Welcome aboard!

Indian cuisine is a riot of colours, flavours, and spices. Every state has its own unique culture- ingrained taste bud. And, to many of us staying within familiar tastes is a sacrosanct act. Of course an occasional trip to a speciality restaurant that serves another fare is ok. But, as a matter of routine ...at home...NO!

One of the benefits of being born to parents who dared an interstate marriage (am talking about India of the 70's) was being able to widen a regional taste bud to accept, experiment and, relish eclectic cuisines :-)

I love food! Be it traditional or fusion, cooking is all about turning out fare that is tasty and healthy.I welcome all lovers of good food to come on aboard and share your kitchen adventures.

If you like what you see, do leave a comment. If you don't, please leave a suggestion to help me make this better.

You can also request for any recipe you want. Just leave a note in a comment box.

Happy cooking!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pavakka Mezhukkuvaratti (Bittergourd stir fry)

This quick recipe is a family favourite. A lot of people I've served this to, who generally aren't bittergourd lovers or prefer only the deep fried version, seem to like this version of pavakka mezhukkuvaratti (bitter gourd stir fry). To the recipe then, without much ado:

Pavakka (bitter gourd) - 2 medium sized ( I prefer the dark green ones)
Onion - 1 medium sized
Green chillies - 5-6 Nos (as per your spice tolerance)
Ginger - 2 " piece (julienned)
Coconut oil - 3 teaspoons
Salt to taste
Sliced fresh coconut pieces (optional)

Soak the bittergourds in water with a teaspoon of salt or vinegar thrown in for atleast 10 minutes. This is to dislodge the dirt, the pesticide residue etc that can hide in between the grooves. Then wash thoroughly under running water.

Slit the bittergourds vertically. If the seeds are tender enough let them be or else dislodge them. Now, slice into thin semi circles. Slice the onions thin and slit the chillies. Add all ingredients (including salt and oil) together in a bowl and using your fingers rub everything together till well mixed. Cover and let marinade for 1/2 hour to 1 hour.

Warm a skillet and spread the mixture in. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes on very low flame. Open lid and stir. Allow to simmer cook tossing once in a while till the bittergourd is well done.

Serve as aside to plain rice and south indian curry of choice.

This platter of pavakka mezhukkuvaratti is going to participate at the Vegetable Marathon - Bittergourd event at Nithu's Kitchen. The event is part of the Vegetable Marathon series launched by Anita's Kitchen

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pori-badam urundai (puffed rice and almond laddus)

Deepavali treats need not necessarily make you guilty of high calorie/fat laden indulgence. With a little bit effort and imagination you can make goodies
that are absolutely delicious and yet healthy. If you do not believe me, try these yummy laddus made all out of healthy ingredients. A lot of you might be familiar with puffed rice laddus (pori urundai), I've just given this a little variation plus thrown in a couple of extra ingredients.

Puffed rice (pori/murmure) - 2 cups
Raw almonds - 3/4 cup (ground to meal)
Jaggery (sharkkara) syrup - 1 cup
Cardamom - 4-5 Nos
White sesame seeds - 1/4 cup
Saffron strands - 3 or 4 (optional)
Medicinal (raw) camphor (pachai karpooram) - two pinches (optional)

Powder the almonds in a coffee grinder/chutney jar of your mixie/food processor). Pour the jaggery syrup into a thick bottomed skillet and add the rest of the ingredients one by one. Keep stirring. You will find that the puffed rice absorbs the syrup and will reduce in size. Stir on low flame till everything is well incorporated and reaches a coarse halwa/jam like consistency. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Pull out small sections and shape into small lemon sized balls. Grease your palms with a little odourless cooking oil like rice bran/canola/sunflower or use ghee (clarified butter) instead.

Refridgerate and these keep well for a week.


To make Jaggery syrup - In a seperate vessel boil about 150 ml water and dissolve an equal quantity of jaggery. Filter to remove scum. Pour this into a thick bottomed skillet and simmer till it reaches a thick,syrupy texture.

Sending these to the Diwali Sweets & Snacks event at Home Cook's Recipes.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Quick coconut laddu with condensed milk - repost for event

This was the Deepavali fare I made last year. Reposting it for the Diwali Sweets & Snacks event at Home Cook's Recipes.
Click Here for the recipe.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Eggless apple and dates bran muffins

It's been a long time since my last post. I hope my readers will accept my apologies and also my promise to be much more regular henceforth!
During a train trip from Chennai where I worked, several years ago, to my hometown in Kerala, I met a young couple travelling along with their toddler.I reach my destination by about 8 Am and hence avoid breakfast on the train. This couple, however, were going further and hence picked up breakfast when they reached the Ernakulam station.Once their breakfast ritual was done with the mother pounced upon the just awakened toddler with a pack of commercial potato fries. The toddler was obviously in no mood for the chips but the mother pleaded, cajoled, coaxed, and even threatened till she finished half the packet. The dad pitched in with his, "baby, you should eat breakfast". I was aghast to say the least! But once I started taking notice, I found that this was not a one off case. There are many people who regularly buy bakery goodies for their kids to eat after school; start them on a batter fried chicken, fizzy drink, chips, and instant noodle routine when very young. Started this way no wonder they bloom into coke guzzling-junk gobbling obesity ridden teenage years and then into young adults who have already succumbed to some or all of the degenerative diseases.

This in mind, I try and avoid picking up commercial snacks and edible goodies, as far as possible, where my little girl is concerned. Her only allowed indulgences, till date, are transfat free biscuit brands and chocolates in moderation. Once she gets to the school going- peer influencable age my influence on her is bound to decrease. Hence, why not atleast put some effort into giving her a healthy start.
This wholesome muffin, with loads of goodness in it, is a little different from your regular muffin in that it has more texture. I also found that it tasted much better the next day.

wheat bran - 1 1/2 cups
whole wheat flour - 1 cup
low-fat buttermilk -1 cup
flaxseed - 1 dessert spoon (finely ground)
packed brown sugar - 1/4 cup
baking powder - 1 teaspoon
date syrup - 1 dessertspoon
dates - about 10 Nos (pitted, and chopped)
apple - 1 Nos (deseeded, grated peel and all)
extra virgin olive oil - 1 dessertspoon

Soak the bran and flaxseed in the buttermilk for a few minutes. Incorporate the baking powder with the wheat flour. Add everything together and mix to form a sticky batter. If required, add in a little warm water. Pour into greased cup cake moulds and bake in preheated oven at 200° C for about 20 minutes. Insert a tooth pick to check if it comes clean. If required, bake at 180° for another 4-5 minutes.

PS: The chopped dates and date syrup will make these appear a little sticky in places. Hence cool well, preferably overnight, before eating.

Wheat Bran on Foodista

Monday, August 9, 2010

Brown bread rolls and Paneer tikka kaati roll repost

Been away for quite sometime now. Internet connectivity problems have been bugging us for over a month now. Planning to switch to a wireless connection as soon as we get back from the month long trip to India.
Irratic connectivity is my reason for not appearing on fellow blogger's sites too. Hope my friends will excuse the lapse. Being away for a while has made me lazier, but just had to do this post because I had agreed to Pari of Foodelicious that I would participate in the food event on at her blog. The last time I promised and could not keep it due to certain reasons and then I had told her I'd definitely participate in the next event she hosts. So, here you are Pari. For you...

For the filling

Button mushrooms - 10 Nos
Carrot - 1 medium sized
Chicken sausages (frankfurters/frankies/franks) - 4 Nos (vegetarians use paneer)
Onion - 1
Green chillies - 1-2 Nos
Garlic - 3 cloves
Ginger - 1" piece
Hot sauce - 1 teaspoon
Chilli powder - 1/4 teaspoon (optional)
Salt to taste

Thinly slice the mushrooms. Julienne the carrot and dice the onions and garlic. Mince the ginger and slit the green chillies. Warm a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet and toss in the onion, garlic, and ginger. saute for a minute and then add the rest of the veggies. Boil 2 cups of water and dunk the sausages in. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, drain and slice into thin roundels. Add to veggies along with hot sauce. Saute for a couple of minutes and allow to cool.

Assembling the bread rolls

Brown bread (wheat bread) - 8 slices
Trim the edges of the bread. Place each slice on a wooden chopping board. Slightly wet with water and use a rolling pin to flatten out the bread slice.Place a little filling in the middle and join the two edges to form a roll. Since I used brown bread with added bran , the edges wouldn't stick easily and so I had to place it within my palm and gently apply a little pressure to make it hold.
Preheat oven. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil or baking parchment and line up the rolls. Bake at 200 for 10 minutes. Serve the extra filling on the side.

This is off to Foodelicious' 'Only' Kids Delight

Also reviving an archived Paneer Tikka Kaati Roll post for the same event. The recipe can be found Here

Also sending this over to Sreevalli's Kids Delight -Finger Food
event at Spice Your Life. She has been good enough to allow in my really late entry. Thank you, Sreevalli.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ulli-mulaku chammanthi (pearl onions and dry red chillies dip)

This chutney has been lying in my draft for months together now. Thanks to fellow food blogger, Priya, for hosting an event with onions as theme and thereby giving me reason to resurrect this post.

Ulli-mulaku chammanthi (pearl onions - dry red chillies dip) is a regular feature in the traditional Keralite household. Often paired with steamed cassava roots (tapioca/kappa/kuchikizhangu), this also goes well with south indian tiffin items like idlis and dosas.

Small onions (shallots/pearl onions/cheriya ulli) - 10 to 15 Nos
Long dry red chillies (unakka mulaku/vara mulaka) - 10 Nos
Coconut oil - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

Peel and rinse onions. In a skillet throw all ingredients together except for salt and saute till onions turn translucent. Cool and grind to paste. The texture can be smooth or left coarse. Both taste equally great. Add salt to taste. Drizzle a few drops of coconut oil before serving.

This dip is off to the Healing Food - Onion event on at Priya's Easy N Tasty recipes. The Healing food event series is created by Siri's corner .

Friday, June 25, 2010

Spicy Brown Bread - repost for event

Reviving an archived bread post for Aathidhyam's Bread mania event

The recipe can be found Here

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Launching baby food blog

This little post is to announce the launch of my baby food blog , 'Cooking for baby'. Ever since I started my little girl on solids I've been wanting to record all the baby food recipes that I've made and continue making. My baby  turned 1 on May 6th this year but publishing this blog happened only now. I've been working on this on and off for quite sometime now and though I wrote the first post on May 16th, had some finishing touches to make and so kept the blog private (open only to me).

I request all my readers and blogger friends to take a peep at my fledgling blog and share valuable feedback. Brickbats are as welcome as bouquets if they ultimately help me make this better

Cooking for baby blog can be accessed at http://firstfeeds.blogspot.com/

Would really appreciate your feedback since it is a work in progress.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Burghul (bulgar) vegetable pulav with cucumber and cilantro raitha

Burghul (minimally processed crushed wheat)is a staple cereal ingredient in the middle east. As a child, I saw only the typical south indian upma and conjee made out of burghul. Even then, this conjee (gruel)specially prepared for my thatha (grandpa) with ischemic cardiac disease and not eaten by anyone else in the family, had its hold on me. I just loved those wholesome and flavour filled brown specks!

As I grew into my twenties my fetish for newer and experimental cuisine took hold and since then I try using familiar ingredients in unfamilar ways. Made this delicious burghul for weekend lunch and both my hubby and I loved it steaming hot.

Burghul (bulghar/sambha godumai/dhalia)- 1 cup (200 gms)
Assorted vegetables cut into small pieces- 2 cups ( I used carrots, purple cabbage, white cabbage, cauliflower, beans)
Onions - 1 large
Tomato - 1 medium
Salt to taste
Water - 2 cups
 To be coarse ground
Ginger - 2" piece
Garlic - 4-5 cloves
Green chillies - 4 Nos (more or less)
Fennel seeds (saunf/perumjeerakam) - 1 teaspoon

Whole spices
Cloves - 2 Nos
Cinnamon - 1" stick
Cardamoms - 2 Nos
Star anise - 1 No

Masala powders

Red chilli powder - 1 teaspoon (more or less)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon

For garnish

Chopped cilantro (coriander leaves) - a liberal handful
Freshly squeezed lemon juice - 2 teaspoons

Rinse and drain the burghul wheat. Heat a teaspoon of oil directly in a pressure cooker or biriyani pot and saute the whole spices for a minute before adding the sliced onions. Saute onions till translucent and add the ground paste, keep stirring till a lovely aroma emanates. Add all the chopped vegetables, tomato, burghul, and the masala powders. Pour in 2 cups of water. Close lid and cook for 4 whistles in medium flame. Once the pressure has vent, open lid , add the chopped cilantro, salt and lemon juice. Stir well and replace lid for flavours to mingle. Transfer to serving dish and serve hot with raita of choice. I served mine with a simple cucumber-cilantro raita.

Cucumber-cilantro raitha

Green cucumbers - 3 Nos
Onion - 1
Green chillies - 3 Nos
Chopped cilantro (coriander leaves) - a cupful
Curd (plain yoghurt) - 100 ml
Salt to taste

Chop all veggies and cilantro into small pieces, add to whisked curds. Add salt to taste. Refridgerate for 1/2 hour so for flavours to mingle.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Instant mango pickle (maanga achar)

Instant mango pickle (as against regular pickle that is generally allowed to mellow for a few days before use and stays good for many weeks) is something that my dad and now my husband makes regularly once the mango season sets in. My love affair with the tangy,spicy,succulent mango pickle is something that has stayed intact from childhood till now.

Unripe mangoes  (pacha manga/kacha aam) - 2-3 medium sized
Onions - 1 large

Green chillies - 4-5 Nos (use the Indian or Thai variety for heat)

Red chilli powder - 2 teaspoons (10 gms)

Curry leaves - 3-4 sprigs

Asafoetida - a pinch

Coconut oil - 1 teaspoon

Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Chop the mangoes into small squares. Finely chop chillies and onions. Heat oil in a skillet, add the mustard seeds and allow to crackle. Add the curry leaves, asafoetida, chillie powder, and turmeric powder and saute for a minute or two. Add the chopped green chillies, oniona and mangoes. Toss well adding salt. Take off flame. Can be used immediately. Tastes wonderful with curd rice.

Stays good for 2-3 days if refridgerated.

This lot, made by my hubby, makes its way to Priti's Festive food - His Cooking event on till June 15th.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rava-burghul (bulgar) idlis and a warning note

After obnoxious comments, comments left in strange languages, anonymous comments, here is one, which I feel, takes the cake!

How about something that when one reads sounds perfectly nice and resounds appreciation but if you click on the commenter's profile opens up websites that promote steroids, androgen boosters, brain chemical enhancers to even cedar chests and cabins!

I've never had trouble with anonymous nasties simply because I've disabled the option for anonymity in my comment form.True it also prevents readers who want to leave maybe a genuine comment of appreciation but don't have a registered ID and thereby cuts down on my overall number of comments (and hence 'popularity' as a search engine might view it ;-). But never mind! But of late my blog has been getting comments of the new kind that I mentioned before. It's only through habit that I always click to check a new profile name that comments on my posts. Otherwise it would've been so easy to have allowed these "lovely" comments to be published (easily past moderation) and hence inadvertently promote whatever these sites seek to promote.

Hope fellow bloggers too watch out for these wolves in sheepskins!

Long back, during my preggie days, I posted my Rava and Oats Idli
which I find has turned out to be one of the most popular posts on my blog. Back then someone had commented that I could even try substituting the rava with broken wheat (burghul). Thought it was a good idea but decided to substitute oats with the burghul once in a while. The idlis came out quite good though with a little more bite than the oats-rava combo.

Broken wheat (dhalia/burghul/bulgar/broken wheat) - 1 cup
Rava (semolina/cream of wheat) - 1 cup
Low-fat Curds (yoghurt) - 2 cups
Roasted and skinned peanuts - a handful
Soda bi carb - a pinch
Salt to taste

For tempering
Ginger - 1" piece (peeled and grated)
Green chillies - 3 Nos (finely chopped)
Bengal gram (channa dhal/kadalai paruppu)- 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds (Kaduku/Rai)- 1/2 teaspoon
Indian curry leaves - 2 sprigs

Warm a thick bottomed pan and add in the rava. Dry roast on small flame stirring frequently to ensure even roasting. Brown speckles and an aroma from the rava denote the grains are roasted enough. Spread out on a plate and cool. Transfer to a bowl. Whip the curds with a fork and add to the roasted rava and burghul to form a thick batter. Let stay for about 2 hours.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan and add the bengal gram. When it starts to turn a light brown , add the mustard and let crackle. Add in the finely grated ginger and chillies. Add the curry leaves. Saute for a minute. Add into the batter along with the roasted peanuts and salt. Blend in the soda bi carb. If the batter has turned too thick because of the rava having swollen up add in a little water. But remember that this batter should be considerably thicker than the ordinary rice idly batter. Pour into into idli moulds and steam for 15-20 minutes.

I served these idlis with fiery mulaku chammanthi (chilli chutney) the recipe of which will soon follow!

PS: Please do not mind the rather dull looking picture. Blame it on bad photography skills, wrong light, and hunger !!

Sending this over to Show me your whole grains event on at Divya's Dil se till April 30th.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pumpkin Punch - tried and tasted

I always bookmark interesting recipes from my blogger buddies' sites but the ones that actually make it to my kitchen are:

a) easy and doable - what's the point of cooking something that is so complicated that by the end you feel you'd rather sleep than put in the extra effort of eating what you've made! hats off to people who are such natural born, passionate cooks!

b) made with readily accessible and ordinary ingredients - not that most exotic grains, veggies and other edible paraphernalia are unavailable in the supermarket aisles at Muscat, but somehow can't bring myself to buy that for example, 'tiny bottle of natural sugar substitute' for an amount that will easily fetch me a generous portion of jaggery (unrefined indian cane sugar), palm jaggery, or demerara.

c) easy on my already zapped system - deep fried, maida (all purpose flour) made, cream filled , ghee (clarified butter) sploshed, meat laden etc etc are terms that scare me!

d) novel - this does not mean out of the world! merely something that I have had, loved but don't know how to make; or, something i'm not aware of and yet appeals to me.

Recently I came across a 'cool-cool' drink on Cynthia's blog that happily fitted into my criteria - the pumpkin punch! I've, however, modified it to suit my taste. The result was totally yum and my husband could hardly believe he was drinking up something that had the humble pumpkin as key ingredient!

Here's my version:

Pumpkin - 200 gms (peeled,cubed, and steam cooked)
Fat free milk - 250 ml (boiled and simmered to evaporate just a little bit)
Cardamom - 1 (powdered)
Vanilla essence - 2-3 drops
Demerara (or plain sugar) - according to taste

I whisked everything together together with an electronic hand blender till the pumpkin pieces were completely pulverized and the liquid took on a creamy,frothy texture. Chill and enjoy!

Here is Cynthia's Pumpkin Punch . Thank you Cynthia!

I so wanted to send this over to Priya's Cooking with seeds - Cardamom seeds event but am late by 2 days. Sending it over anyways! Hope you accept it, Priya.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coconut - curd chutney (spicy, tangy coconut-yoghurt dip)

I have a list of items stacked away in my 'growing up' food memory. In fact my growing up food memory is preserved in two different silos - one spanning the years spent with my paatti (maternal grandmother) eating tamilian food, and the other spent at home eating ammas attempts at Keralite cuisine. Amma's combos usually were green gram masala with chappathis, black channa with puttu, potatos in a deep brown roasted coconut gravy again with chappathis, podi chammanthi (chutney) with appams, coconut- curd (yoghurt) chutney with idlis... the list goes on. Somewhere down the lane amma gave up making this for the ordinary red chillies based coconut chutney much more common to keralite palates. My younger brother was brought up entirely in kerala and has always stayed with amma unlike me. And slowly amma's cooking modified itself to centre around his palate in which tamilian fare played no role. And his, is quite a conservative palate!

I love recreating all those dishes that I liked as a kid and also playing around with new items. This simple coconut-curd chutney is something that regularly features in my kitchen.

Fresh grated coconut - 1 cup
Green chillies or Thai chillies (kanthari) - 3to 4 (adjust as per your spice tolerance)
Ginger - 1/2" piece
Curds ( plain yoghurt) - 1 cup
Water - as required to grind the coconut into a smooth paste
Salt to taste

For tempering
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Dry red chillies - 2
Curry leaves - a few sprigs
Coconut oil (preferably) - 1 teaspoon

Grind the coconut along with the ginger-green chillies into a smooth paste adding water little by little. Heat the oil in a skillet and crackle the mustard seeds and roast the chillies and curry leaves. Add the coconut paste in and allow to cook for a minute or two. Whisk the curds well and pour in along with salt. Simmer for a minute stirring all the while. Transfer to serving dish and njoy with idlis or crisp dosas.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stir fried carrots (thoran)

This quick carrot stir fry (thoran) seasoned with a generous helping of grated coconut, aromatic curry leaves, and spices is all I need to pep up a bowl of simple steamed rice into a gastronomical delight!

Carrots - 1/4 kg (grated)
Coconut - 1/2 cup (grated)
Onion - 1 medium sized (cut fine)
Green chillies - 3-4 Nos (minced)
Garlic - 2 cloves (minced)
Curry leaves - a few sprigs
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Chilli powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Oil - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

Heat a thick bottomed skillet, pour in the oil, add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Wait till the mustard splutters and then add the curry leaves. In a seperate bowl toss the grated carrot along with the rest of the ingredients and tip it all into the skillet. Cover and let simmer cook till carrots are tender. Add salt to taste.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fenugreek potion for PMS and Fenugreek (Vendhaya) Idli for a healthy meal

Fenugreek (vendhiyam/uluva/methi) is as bitter and as healthy as it gets. Back home in India, fenugreek is often a recommended household remedy for alleviating menstrual cramps (Post Menstrual Syndrome), curing indigestion, promoting lactation , and preventing diabetes.

It's efficacy in lessening severe menstrual discomfort is something I have first hand experience in. In fact I got this little secret from my friend Bhooma who worked with me at my very first workplace, Indian Express.

First, the PMS remedy:

Fenugreek seeds - 1 teaspoon (5 gms)
Milk - 1/2 cup

Rinse seeds and place them in a cup.Boil milk and pour over the fenugreek seeds.Cover and let stand for an hour or so. Warm the milk again, chew the swollen seeds, and drink the warm milk. Alternatively blend it and gulp down. Add sugar if you absolutely must. Do this everymonth commencing 2-3 days prior to the date of menstruation and continue till second or third day.

Alternatively soak the seeds overnight in water. Next morning blend them with warm milk and drink.

Now, for a fenugreek based breakfast recipe:

I learnt this from my mom's aunt, Valli paatti with whom I shared an apartment during my work stint at Chennai.

Idli rice (Raw rice or par boiled rice works as well) - 2 cups
Fenugreek seeds - 1 small fistfull
Sesame oil (gingelly oil/ellenna/nallennai)- 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

Soak rice and fenugreek seperately for about 3 hours.Grind fenugreek into a smooth, fluffy paste as you would grind black gram (urad/uzhunnu) for ordinary idli batter. Grind rice too into a smooth batter. Whisk both batters together along with the sesame oil and salt. Let ferment overnight or a minimum of 8 hours (depending on the climate). Pour into idli moulds and steam till done.

The PMS fenugreek remedy is off to the Home Remedies 1 event on at A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine

The fenugreek idli is off to my friend, Yasmeen's Health Nut Challenge 4 - Bitter Better Health on at Health Nut

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rainbow Salad Meal

When my veggie intake has been low for a couple of days (nowadays weeks), I decide it is time to make my rainbow salad meal. I call it a meal 'cause it is substantial in itself. For an extra dose of protein alongside, I serve grilled chicken or chickpea sundal.Sometimes I just decide to toss in a handful of sprouts into the salad itself.

Red bell pepper - 1
Yellow bell pepper - 1
Carrot - 1
Zucchini - 1/2
Broccoli - 1 small head
Purple cabbage - a few leaves
Celery - 1/2" stick
Macaroni (any kind) - 1 cup (boiled as per manufacturer's instructions)

For the dressing
Low fat yoghurt - 2 tablespoons
Extra virgin olive oil - 2 teaspoons
Lemon juice - 1 tablespoon
Mustard paste - a couple of teaspoons
Green chillies - 2 Nos
Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
Ground pepper - 1/2 teaspoon

Whisk everything together with a fork or, put them into a glass bottle with lid and shake well.

Cut all veggies into small strips. Steam them for just a couple of minutes (skip this step if you want to). Add the cooked macroni. Pour in the dressing, toss evrything together really well. Let rest covered for 15 minutes. Eat

My salad is off to the Food for 7 Stages of Life - Healthy Fast Food event on at Sourashtra Kitchen and Cook like a bong

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pineapple and Spinach Chunky Soup

No yak yak this time! Been really busy, missed wishing all of you a happy pongal! I did make venpongal, sarkarai pongal, and puli gojju. Abhi loved them (didn't give her the gojju, of course).Hubby is on a tight schedule and that means less respite for me even in the evenings. Add to that a nagging headache that just refuses to completely go. And, call it post pregnancy blues (they do continue this long ?)or whatever, I feel someone wound a tight band around my forhead and wont let go! But decided to post this tonight 'cause I've promised Usha of Veg Inspirations an entry for her first food event. And, she is one nice person I've met through food blogging.

Pineapple (really ripe) - 1 cup (chopped)
Spinach - 1 small bunch
Beans - a few
Carrot - 1 medium sized
Ginger - 1/2" (chopped fine)
Green chillies - 4 (more or less)
Coconut milk - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Garam masala - 1/4 teaspoon
Olive oil - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

Optional seasoning

Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Canola oil - 1 teaspoon

Chop all veggies into bite sized chunks, saute for a few minutes in olive oil. Add the water and 1/2 the coconut milk. simmer till veggies are almost done. Throw in the spinach along with the rest of the coconut milk, salt, and the garam masala. Simmer till spinach wilts.Add salt to taste.

Crackle the mustard seed and add if you opt for the seasoning. I loved this soup made on the go to save an over ripened pineapple from ending up in the waste bin.Its spicy, tangy, and sweet!

Off this goes to Usha's "Healthy Inspirations Event-Soups" that's on at http://www.veginspirations.com/2010/01/event-announcement.html

Monday, January 11, 2010

Podi chammanthi (Coconut chutney to go with appams)

I am a true blue crab sun sign...if I find someone pursuading me too hard (be it for anything) I retreat into my proverbial shell all suspicious :-) what's that to do with cooking? Nothing. Just in a 'verbal diarrhoea' mood coupled with two stray instances of insistent people! I have a bad back thanks to many reasons. Now with Abhi around a bad back is a big hinderance to happy 'mommying'. Hit upon chiropractice as a possible solution albeit a very expensive one. Towards the end of my schedule the therapist started suggesting that my husband who happened to have sprained his back undergo a session and he declined.Then one day I could not go for a prefixed session because abhi (my baby) had to have her vaccination shot. The chiropractor told us that vaccinations were bad and that they affected the nervous system, if we were insistent on giving abhi her shot then we should bring her for a spine adjustment chiro session!! That decided the end of 'my' chiropratic sessions!
Another minor incident is with facebook. I'm newbie at facebook and am fine when people suggest I follow their websites or blogs. I check it out and if I like it I accept. Some are blogs of people who I already follow through a list on my blog, so when they ask me to do the same on FB I am glad to do so. But there was one very persistent person who added me as friend (I'd never before seen that particular site), then suggested I follow the blog. I accepted both suggestions. Then soon after, I was asked to become a 'fan' of the same blog. I declined. Thereafter, I keep getting repeat suggestions that I become a fan of the said blog even after declining it each time! Grrrrrrrrrrrr...

Podi chammanthi is my mom's favourite side dish option with appams (vellayappam) when she is running short of time. It does taste fantabulous with hot appams (I dont like it with idlis and dosas).

Fresh grated coconut - 1 cup
Shallots (small onions) - 2 Nos
Ginger - 1/4" piece
Dry red chillies - 4 Nos (more or less as per your spice tolerance)
Salt to taste

For tempering

Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Coconut/canola oil - 1 teaspoon

Grind all ingredients together in a mixie/food processor adding just a teaspoon or two of water till coarse. Heat oil in a skilet and crackle mustard and fry curry leaves. Toss in the coarse mixture, saute for a minute or two to take away the raw taste of shallots.There, that was quick, was it not?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Fruit cake, happy breakfast, and happy new year to all

"I wish all my blogger friends and readers a glorious, peacefilled, and happy 2010.May all that your heart rightfully desires be yours this year."

This being our first new year with Abhi (our baby) , I decided to go all the way out and make a traditional fruit cake. As a general rule, I'm not a regular baker. Somehow the concept of rigid measurements, high calorie ingredients, and my 'sumo wrestler' aka post-pregnancy figure (not that it was better afore) has kept me away from traditional cakes and cookies. I browsed high and low for a easy do-able fruit cake recipe, found a zillion recipes, then made last minute calls to my mom for her kinda cake measurements, gathered chance advice from my aunt who called 2 days ahead to wish us, and finally added my own permutations to them all
Preparations were punctuated by baby needs, oven cleaning (a year since i opened it last) etc. Finally by 2 a.m. new year's morning my cake was ready to be wrapped up in foil soaking in a final slather of whisky till 11 a.m. this morning (9 hours of drunken merriness, huh!). Cake making and pooja room cleaning had me up till 3 a.m. and so decided to sleep in this morning. Was woken up at 9.30 a.m. by my husband who had made a poori (indian fried bread), mixed veggie gravy, and a fruit salad breakfast for me :-). He also took over Abhi's early morning feeding, diaper changing, and patting back to sleep routine
My special breakfast

Ok, now to the cake. True to the footloose chef in me, my cake does not conform to classic ways and procedures...


Chopped dry fruits and nuts - 3 cups (I used dates, apricots, golden raisins, jumbo raisins, walnuts, cashewnuts, prunes)

Orange peel - 1 medium sized orange's rind with the white pith scraped out (cut into small pieces)
Rum (use any spirit you have at hand) - 2 cups

Put everything together in a skillet and toss till warm, and an aroma emanates. Close lid and let stand overnight. In the morning, I placed this in the fridge and let stand for another 10 hrs or so. Bring to room temperature before using in the cake.


Self raising flour - 2 cups
Whole wheat flour -1 cup
Almond meal - 1 cup (1/2 cup of almonds powdered in a coffee grinder or mixie jar)
Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
Packed soft, dark brown sugar - 1 cup
Unsalted butter - 1/2 cup (about 100gms)
Olive oil - 3/4 cup
Egg whites - 5
Powdered mix spices (cardamoms,nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon) - 1 teaspoon
Vanilla essence - 1/2 teaspoon
Warm water - 1 cup
Whisky - 1/2 cup (for the final drizzle)

Sift the flours and baking powder together for even mixing. Toss in the almond meal into the fruit mixture and mix well. Add the flour bit by bit and mix well.

Beat the sugar, butter, and oil together till frothy ( i used an electric hand blender). Add the egg whites and whisk again till soft (the more the merrier). Add the spice powder and vanilla essence. Pour in a cup of warm water. Add the flour and fruit mixture and blend in taking care that no lumps are formed (add in a little by little).

Pour into a cake tin double lined (2 layers) with baking parchment. Preheat the oven at 250° for 15 minutes. Place the cake tin inside and bake at 150° for 1 hour and 5 minutes. Remove from oven and gently ease in a skewer to check if done. Make tiny skewer holes throughout the body of the cake and drizzle in whisky (or any other spirit). Wrap with aluminium foil and allow to mature for about 10 hours.

PS: Don't worry if the cake that comes out of the oven seems very dry (it will be). That liberal splashing in of whisky and allowing the cake to mellow will make it soft.

PS: When I refer to 'cup' I mean any standard tea cup that holds about 200 ml. The said measurements yeilded 2 medium sized cakes ( a loaf tin and a round tin).

My cake is off to participate in the 'Cakes n Cookies' event at Sara's Corner and Contribute your recipes event- Cakes & Cookies on at Indian Vegetarian Kitchen
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