Sep 28, 2012

Capsicum stuffed with rice

a.k.a. How to Deal with Leftover Rice I saw the original recipe on TV (Peppers and Wild Rice, I think it was called), and decided to adapt it to use up all the rice that gets leftover every day.

De-top the capsicum, keep aside the large part, and chop the top part into small pieces.
Saute 3 pods garlic, half a chopped onion, the capsicum pieces, half a chopped tomato. When done, add half a cup of leftover rice, salt, pepper, and a little lime juice (I've experimented with chilli flakes and oregano- both work well). Stir well, and turn off the flame.
Lightly coat the inside and the outside of the capsicum with oil. Stuff with rice, grate some cheese on top and cook in the microwave for 4 minutes (or till done).
Serve on a bed of rice leftover after stuffing.

Normally, half a cup of rice is sufficient for two capsicums, but since I was cooking only for myself I made only one (and ate the rest of the rice separately).
The first time I made it, I added salt to the veggies, and totally misjudged the quantity. If you are doing so, remember that you will be adding the rice to the veggies, and use salt accordingly.

Sep 26, 2012

Baked apple with raisins

Perfect for all those times when you crave for something sweet, but don't want to overdose on refined sugar. Added bonus- everytime you make this, your house smells like a dream for quite a long time.
It is one of my favourite post-workout snacks.


1 apple (make sure it is firm)
1 1/2 tbsp raisins
pinch of cinnamon powder
maple syrup/ sugar syrup (optional)

Soak raisins in water for about 10 minutes (or till plump). Do not discard the water.
Make a tiny hole on top of the apple, and remove the core (I use the back for a spoon to bore it out). Place apple on a microwavable container
Sprinkle cinnamon powder inside the apple.
Fill the hole with raisins.
Mix maple syrup/ sugar with the water in which raisins were soaked, and pour over and around the apple (I skip the maple syrup/ sugar).
Place in the microwave and cook uncovered for 3 minutes.
Wait till it cools down, cut slices and enjoy.

Sep 25, 2012

Jalapeno poppers

We had these poppers at the dinner to celebrate hubby's birthday, and to my surprise, both kids loved them, despite my repeatedly warning them they were "mirchi" and therefore "teekha". I went through a bunch of recipes for poppers, and ultimately managed to recreate something similar to the stuff we had.


250 gms jalapenos
Cheddar cheese - you need to grate as much as you think you will need
2-3 tablespoons of hung curd (curd hung so all the water drains out)
Cornflour & maida- equal parts, amount by approximation

Wash jalapenos, slit lenghwise and remove seeds (I removed the stalk too)
Mix grated Cheddar cheese with hung curd, and stuff the jalapenos.
In a separate dish, make a batter with cornflour and maida and milk. The batter should be the same consistency as pakoda batter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Dip jalapenos in the batter, and deep fry. I wanted to be too smart and tried to shallow fry- bad idea, because the coating didn't hold well.
When golden brown, take off the oil, drain on kitchen tissues, and serve hot.

Sep 24, 2012

Eggless banana chocolate cake (cooked in a microwave)

In all these years that we have been married, I've never baked my husband a birthday cake- he doesn't have egg yolk, and the only cakes I know are "contaminated" with eggs. 
But this is his 40th birthday, and I thought it was high time I took the plunge. Since nobody I knew seemed to have a good recipe for eggless cake, I took to google, and found this recipe where bananas were substituted for eggs. The results were better than expected, though I would have preferred the cake to have risen a bit more.

You need
Flour/ maida- 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Milk- 1 1/2 cup
Cooking oil- 3/4 cup
Ripe banana- 1, mashed
Cocoa powder- 1 1/2 tbsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp

1. Sieve maida, baking powder and cocoa powder two or three times (Mother's baking tip- the more you sieve, the lighter the cake will be)

2. Warm the milk, and mix the mashed banana in it. Add oil and sugar, and stir till sugar dissolves.

3. Add the maida+cocoa powder+ baking powder mixture one spoonful at a time, making sure it mixes well. Stir in one direction only.

4. At this stage, I added half a coarsely mashed banana to give texture- you can skip it.

5. Pour into a pre-greased baking dish and bake at recommended settings (I required 5 minutes). Test by pushing in a toothpick- if it comes out clean, it is done.

6. Allow to cool. The next step is optional.

7. Cut the cake in half, if rectangular, or bake two identical cakes using the same amount of batter. Spread a thin layer of Nutella on half the cake, arrange thinly sliced bananas in a layer, and place the other half over it, pressing slightly.

I loved the combination of banana and chocolate, but can also add texture by adding walnuts instead of, or in addition to the cocoa powder.

Sep 21, 2012


Dinner is the only meal the entire family has at home, but even after all these years I can never estimate how many rotis I need, and end up with left-overs almost every day. This is the best way to use up all those extra rotis.

Tear 2 or 3 leftover rotis into small pieces. In a kadhai, temper mustard seeds, 1 green chilli and some curry leaves. Add one chopped onion, and some peanuts and fry till onion turns translucent.
Add torn pieces of roti, salt and turmeric to taste, and stir. Sprinkle a little water, close and let it cook for 3 minutes.
Tastes best with raita or curds.

Paneer-cucumber salad, with mango dressing

When the hunger pangs strike between lunch and dinner, I typically try to mix dairy and vegetable so I get my daily dose of goodness, without the pain of "eating right". Normally, I'd cut the cucumber, but after reading about Saleha Singh's "smashing cucumber salad", I can't use cucumbers any other way.

Cut (or crumble) about 50 gms paneer
Cut (or smash) one small cucumber
Toss the paneer and cucumber together, with salt and vinegar, and let it marinate for 15 minutes. Stir again, add a few raisins, and top with 1 tablespoon of mango syrup (I use Mapro, because it has most body).

Also great as a post-workout snack (increase the quantity of paneer if you are using it as that).

Sep 20, 2012

Barbie pachidi a.k.a. Beetroot pachidi

My grandmother used to make this with raw cucumber as an accompaniment to most meals. I prefer the beautiful colour of beetroot, and often have it as a stand-alone evening snack. The name was given by my kids, who think anything pink is girlie- they claim not to like it for that reason only.

1 medium beetroot- boiled
3/4 cup curds
1 green chilli
3-4 sprigs coriander leaves
salt to taste

Grate the beetroot, and keep aside.
Grind coriander leaves and green chilli to a rough paste
Mix, curds, salt, and coriander-green chilli paste, till it attains a smooth consistency.
Add beetroot and mix till the colour is homogenous.
Garnish with coriander/ green chilli.

Sep 19, 2012

Kozakattai/ modak

One of the most arcane dishes in the world, according to me, is kozakattai. Which is when, once I started entering the kitchen, it was the first dish I wanted to try out.
"Mamma, do you think I can ever do it?", I asked.
"You can, but the results depend on the quality of rice flour", my mother assured me. "Don't expect perfection, and you might not be disappointed."
I could get only a handful of decent looking kozakattais, but that's not bad for a start, is it?

For the casing
1 measure rice flour
1 measure water
1 tsp oil
pinch of salt

For the filling
half coconut
elaichi/ cardamom powder

Put water in a heavy bottomed pan and bring to boil. Add the oil and let it mix. Gradually add the rice flour, stirring constantly to ensure that there are no lumps. Cook on low flame till the dough leaves the walls and forms a "dough" in the middle. Take it out, cover in a damp cloth and keep aside.
Grate coconut (do this after making the dough, so the dough gets time to cool and "settle"). Depending on the amount of rice flour you have taken, estimate how much coconut you will need for the filling and take slightly less than same amount of jaggery (for one tea cup of rice flour, I took half of a small coconut).
Take a little water in a heavy bottomed pan, add jaggery, and keep stirring till it dissolves/ melts completely. Add the grated coconut and cook on low fire till all the water disappears. Take off heat. Add cardamon powder and stir.
Grease palms (!) with cooking oil, knead the dough, adding a little extra warm water, if it is too brittle. Divide into balls (bigger than marbles, but smaller than ping pong balls), flatten, make a depression in the middle, and work around the edges with your finger and thumb to form a katori shape.
Put stuffing in the "katori", and close the ends to make a "ponytail" (you can also use a modak mould if you have one).
Grease an idli maker, and place the kozakottai/ modak on them. Steam for 10 minutes in a pressure cooker with the whistle off.
Send up a prayer that it comes out okay (they are unpredictable creatures, since everything depends on the quality of rice flour), take out of the cooker/ steamer. Allow it to cool before taking it off.


Karanji is one of the few traditional dishes that I seem to get right. I first made it five years back, during our first Gokulashtami in Bombay. That was done the traditional way, with maida and lots of ghee. This time, I experimented to make it slightly healthier, and it tasted as good.

For the casing
1 cup wholewheat flour/ atta
1/3 cup milkpowder
pinch of salt
oil for frying

For the filing
1/2 cup grated cocunut
1/2 cup jaggery
elaichi/ cardamom powder

Mix the atta and milk powder together, and using water sparingly, knead it into a dough (same consistency as the atta for making rotis/ puris) atta). Keep aside for a few minutes.
Take a little water in a heavy bottomed pan, add jaggery, and keep stirring till it dissolves/ melts completely. Add the grated coconut and cook on low fire till all the water disappears. Take off heat. Add cardamon powder and stir.
Make small balls with the dough, and roll them into puris.
Place some of the filling in the centre, fold the puri, and after drawing a thin line with oil at the edge, press closed (you can use a cutter to make a nice looking edge also).
Deep fry the karanjis. Place on a kitchen tissue to absorb the excess oil. Can be stored for upto a week (if the last as long- we polished it off within the hour).

Sep 17, 2012

Eggplant-cottage cheese coins

The other day, I found myself the proud owner of two tiny brinjals that were ready to die in my arms. Not wanting to waste them I adapted my eggplant-cottage cheese casserole recipe to make these "coins", and they tasted good enough for me to make them again this weekend.


 Brinjal/ eggplant- 2 medium sized
Paneer/ cottage cheese- 50 gms
Ground pepper- to taste
Onion- half small, chopped fine
Tomato puree- 3 tablespoons
Salt, red chillie powder, oregano- to taste

Dice brinjals, rub salt, and keep aside for 10 minutes for the water to let.
On a shallow pan, fry brinjal slices till lightly browned.
Keep aside, and in the same oil, put tomato puree, salt, oregano, chili powder and cook for about a minute.
Crumble the paneer, add chopped onions, salt and pepper and mix well.
On an ovenproof dish, lay one layer of brinjal slices, top with paneer, lay second layer of brinjal slices, and a spoonful of tomato paste. Top with grated cheese and grill till cheese melts.

I ate with rotis, but will be good as a stand-alone dish too.

Cucumber boats

On days when you don't want to indulge in Crackers or cookies, this is perfect for satisfying those late afternoon/ early evening food cravings.

1 medium cucumber
1/3 cup thick curd hung for 30 minutes to drain the excess water out
1 green chilli
2 pods garlic (I use 3, but I love garlic)
4-5 sprigs dhania patta
salt to taste

Wash and dry the cucumber. Cut off tips, remove the "bitterness", slit lengthwise and remove the seeds.
Pound together dhania patta, garlic, green chilli and salt till well ground.
Add ground mixture to hung curd, and mix well.
Scoop the mixture into the cucumber "shells".

Egg bhurji (with a twist)

I sent out a frantic SOS, "I have a solitary egg, onions, garlic, potatos at home. Can I throw something together with that?" There was really no reason for me not to make myself one of my staple lunches of French toast, or omelets, but I wanted something different. 

Moushumi obliged with an easy peasy recipe that is low on labour and high on taste. This, apparently, is an invention of her husband from his bachelor days. And it is quite delicious.

1 hard boiled egg- chopped
half medium onion- chopped
3 pods of garlic- peeled and smashed (yes, I always go wild with the garlic)
1 packet chilli flakes (came with the pizza the kids ordered on Saturday)
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1/2 tsp butter
salt to taste

Lightly fry the smashed garlic and onions in butter. Add chopped eggs when the onions start to turn translucent- stir on low heat for about 2 minutes. Add tomato ketchup, salt and chilli flakes, and stir for a couple of seconds.

Sep 14, 2012

Idlis with grated beetroot a.k.a. "how to get kids to eat their veggies"

Getting the kids to eat their veggies is one of the toughest tasks known to me. Sprinkling it over their dal-chawal helps only to a certain extent- both kids are perfectly capable of not just removing the subji, but also a chunk of dal-chawal with it.
Grating veggies into idli batter is one of the easiest ways to get them to have their veggies. That the idlis also look much better after the addition of veggies is an added bonus.

For the batter
Soak two measures boiled rice and one measure urad dal in separate containers overnight (or at least for 4 hours). Grind rice and urad dal separately in a mixer- keep the rice a little coarse. Mix the ground batter together, whip a couple of times (preferably with your hand), and leave it to ferment for 4 hours (or overnight).

Making the idlis
Add salt to taste, and mix well (taking care to beat air into the mixture). Add half cup grated beetroot, or grated carrots or finely chopped spinach or any other veggie you want to disguise.
Grease idli pans, put the batter, place in the pressure cooker, and steam without the whistle for 10 minutes. If using a microwave, use recommended settings.

You can also garnish with green peas and sliced tomatos to make eyes and a mouth.

Banana-yogurt smoothie

This was invented on one of those days when I had to consume a banana before it degenerated into nothingness, and I was in no mood to have anything too sweet. The taste has grown on me, and I now make it often.


1 cup curd
1 medium banana (the squishier the better)
a pinch of rock salt
a pinch of roasted jeera ground fine

Put all the ingredients in a blender till smooth. Enjoy.

Sep 12, 2012

Maharashtrian Thecha (Green Chilli-Garlic Chutney)

I first had the fiery hot thecha in a tribal hamlet in Maharashtra, and have been trying to replicate the taste ever since. This is a recipe that I got from my Maharashtrian maid, and it comes closest to the taste I remember.

8 pods garlic, peeled
4 large/ 8 small green chillies
one handful roasted peanuts
rock salt
1 tsp oil

Roast peanuts, remove the skin and keep aside
Heat the oil, and on low fire, fry green chillies and garlic till brownish spots start to appear. Remove from heat and let it cool.
Lightly pound the chillies, garlic and peanuts till they attain a slightly coarse, but even consistency. Add rock salt to taste while you are pounding.

Sep 5, 2012

Ragada-pattice Bambaiya istyle

I adapted this from a bunch of recipes, and make it pretty often, because the actual cooking time is under 15 minutes (pressure cooking time doesn't count). Okay, it may not be exactly the same as the Bambaiya ragada-pattice, but it comes close, and you can have it in the comfort of your home.

For the ragada
Dried white peas/ vatana - 250 gms, soaked overnight
1 tsp halood/ haldi/ trumeric pwd
1 small onion cut fine
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp zeera powder
1 tsp amchur powder
1 green chilli (I used chilli powder, because kids refuse to touch anything with green chilli)
salt to taste
1 tsp oil

For pattice
3 large potatos
salt, haldi pwd as per taste
1 tbsp butter


Pressure cook the soaked vatana with 1 tsp haldi and equal measure water. Cut potatoes into quarters and pressure cook them. I put them in separate containers and cook them at the same time. High flame till first whistle, low flame for 10 minutes works for me- the potatoes should be mashable.

In 1 tsp oil and low flame, fry cut onions, ginger + garlic paste, chopped chilli. Add dry powders when almost done, then add the cooked vatana (with the water it was cooked in), stir, and let it cook on low flame for 3 to 5 minutes.

Mash potatoes, add haldi pwd and salt, make into cutlets/ pattice and shallow fry with butter till golden brown.

Lay the pattice on a plate, cover with the ragada, garnish with cut onions/ coriander/ imli chutney.