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!


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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