Nov 29, 2013


My mother's Rajma is reputed to be the best. I wouldn't really know, because I never had rajma made by anyone else till I went to hostel. And there, we had rajma twice a week. Not any old rajma- a fusion rajma made by Malayali cooks to cater to North and South Indian taste-buds. Add to the fact that the sambar powder didn't really go with the rest of the gravy was the fact that the beans would invariably be insufficiently soaked, and therefore quite bitter. By the time I graduated two years later, I couldn't even think of rajma without wanting to throw up.
All those years as a new bride, the only request I would make to anyone calling me home for dinner was "no rajma PLEASE". And so my mother's rajma remained the only edible rajma I ever tasted.
Gradually, the phobia left me, and I started having rajma again. Not too often, and not too cheerfully, but I could have it without wanting to throw up. And now, I do make it once in awhile.
This version is my own, and I make it often.

250 gms rajma soaked overnight
1 badi elaichi
1 piece cinammon
2 bay leaves
3 small onions, chopped
3-6 pods garlic
1 inch piece ginger
2 tomatoes
4 tsp dhania powder
2 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp kasoori methi
salt to taste
2-3 tbsp cooking oil 
2 tbsp cream

Cook the soaked rajma with the three whole spices in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes (lower after the first whistle and let it simmer for 20 minutes). Discard the whole spices and keep aside.
Take onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes in a blender, and grind to a fine paste.
Heat the oil, lower the flame, add the paste and the ground spices, and cook on a low flame till the raw smell goes, and the masala starts leaving the sides of the kadhai.
Add the cooked rajma and kasoori methi to the paste. Add about 1 1/2 cups water, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the cream, cook for a minute, and take off the fire.
Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Nov 28, 2013

Chocolate fudge

I've made fudge using my mother's recipe, but it had never come out as well as the ones she makes. S when she made them this time, I just had to take a picture for posterity.

Nov 25, 2013

Birthday cake that wasn't

The cake I made for my son's tenth birthday was supposed to be special. More so because of all the people in the house, he is the only one who consistently enjoys and eats the stuff that I make. I had it all planned- a Harry Potter themed cake, with cup cakes sporting spells, and a sketch of HP's face with his trademark glasses and lightning bolt scar. I even got a bunch of icing supplies in anticipation and cupcake liners.
But the best laid plans go awry. Something seemed wrong even while I was stirring the batter, but it was only after I put the cake in the oven that I realised what was wrong- I had used rice flour instead of all purpose flour.
The cake took ages to bake, the batter which should have smoothened out continued to show it's crests and troughs, and I had to make a hasty trip to a cake shop so the kid would have something to cut at night. But, it tasted quite lovely, and I only wish I had the courage to make it again!

Nov 22, 2013

Policha ladoo

I don't like wasting leftovers, and now that I make my own rotis, it tears my heart everytime I have to get rid of the fruit of my mehanat (however inedible it might have become). But there is only so much roti upma you can eat, and the roti pizzas don't quite turn out as wonderful as you hope they would.
Which is why, I jumped with delight when I found that the Maharashtrian Policha Ladoo actually uses leftover rotis as the base.
Since they were pretty easy to make, I was certain the kids would hate it (one doesn't get lucky all the time, does one?), but both of them loved it. I don't need a crystal ball to predict that there isn't going to be too much roti upma for me in the near future.

3 Left over rotis
A lemon sized ball of soft Jaggery
1 1/2 tsp posto/ khus khus
1-2 tsp Shredded, un-sweetened coconut
1 tbsp Ghee


Tear the roti into small pieces, and grind in the mixer with the jaggery.
Dry roast the poppy seeds, and once they start getting brown, add the coconut and roast till dry.
Mix the poppy seeds, coconut, ground roti mix and ghee to make a slightly sticky mass.
Roll into balls.

Nov 20, 2013

Cucumber dal

This is a dal that my mother learnt from her friends in Bangalore. Native to the region, I love it, because it has so many tastes that I love- raw garlic, raw ground mustard, coconut and tamarind. The cucumber makes it a more balanced dish too.

1 measure tur dal (or channa dal), cooked with haldi powder
1 cucumber cut into pieces and steamed
Salt to taste

For ground masala
2 tsp mustard/rai
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 marble sized ball tamarind
2-3 pods garlic
2 red chillies

Grind the ingredients listed under "ground masala" with a little bit of water, till you get a smooth paste.
Add to the cooked dal, add the steamed cucumber pieces and salt to taste, and bring to boil.
Serve with rice or roti.

Nov 18, 2013

Andhra style carrot curry

There are only so many vegetables my family eats, and life often seems like a constant struggle to escape the commonplace of recipes. This Andhra style carrot curry that was made by combining a couple of recipes from the internet is one I am definitely making again.

Carrots - 2, large cut into small pieces
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Asafoetida - pinch
Green chilies - 2 or 3, whole
Ginger - 1/2", grated
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Coriander powder - 1 1/2 tsps
Toasted sesame seeds - 2 tbsps, lightly crushed
Red chili flakes - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp

Heat oil in a cooking vessel. Once hot, add the mustard seeds, and after they start to splutter, add the curry leaves, green chilies, asafoetida and ginger and saute for 5 to 6 seconds. Add the chopped carrots and mix.
Cook without lid on medium flame for 4 to 5 mts, mixing the contents once in a while. Reduce flame, add salt and cook till the carrots are soft, approx 25 mts.
Remove lid, add the coriander powder and mix. Cook for 2 to 3 mts. Add the crushed toasted sesame seeds and crushed red chili flakes and mix.
Turn off flame and remove into a serving bowl. Serve warm with rice or rotis.

Nov 17, 2013

Pazham bonda

Have I told you I love my paniyaram pan? So much, that when my maid misplaced it a few weeks back, I rushed to the market the very next day, and got myself a new one. And given how I love procrastinating, that's saying a lot!
So when I saw this recipe for pazham bonda, I wondered if I could adapt it for the paniyaram pan. You'll never know till you try it out, I told myself, and made it the very same day. Wonder of wonders, the younger one (who is the world's least adventurous and most fussy eater) loved it. Which means, I am definitely going to make it again, and yet again.

1 cup of Wheat flour
1/2 cup of Plain flour (maida)
1 (soggy) banana, mashed
Jaggery, to taste
1-2 cups drinking water
A pinch of baking powder
Cooking oil

Combine all the ingredients above into a batter (similar in consistency as dosa batter). 
Set aside to rest for about 3-4 hours. You can leave it for longer if you have the time as well.
Heat a paniyaram pan, put a few drops of oil into each of the moulds, and pour the dough into them. Cook on a low flame, till it starts leaving the sides, turn around and let the other side cook too.
Drain and place the bonda on a clean kitchen towel.
Serve hot with tea or coffee.

Nov 16, 2013

Masoor dal with cauliflower leaves- the Ayurveda way

Everytime I buy a cauliflower, I end up paying for a whole lot of leaves that I never use. What if the leaves could be cooked separately, I asked myself, and decided to experiment. As luck would have it, I found this nice recipe for an Ayurvedic soup, which I adapted to make this dal.
The jury is out on whether we liked it or not.
1 cup red masoor dal
Leaves of 1 cauliflower, chopped fine
Haldi powder
1 inch piece of ginger
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp coriander powder
Salt to taste
For the tempering 
1/2 tsp of Whole Cumin/Whole Jeera
1/2 tsp of Whole Fennel/Whole Saunf,
6-7 whole Fenugreek seeds/Whole Methi seeds
and a pinch of asafoetida/Hing.

Pressure cook the dal with cabbage leaves, haldi and sufficient water, till well cooked. 
Heat the ghee, and temper the ingredients listed under "for the tempering". Pour the tempering over the cooked dal.
Grate the ginger, and add to the dal along with the coriander powder, and salt to taste. Add about 2 cups of water, and let the dal come to a boil.
Adjust for seasonings, and squeeze juice of a lime quarter.
Serve with rice/ rotis, or drink it as a soup.

Nov 13, 2013

Posto and lal saag

This dish, like many others, has a story. When we were in Calcutta, we would often find this (very imaginatively named) "laal saag" in the market. My mother's Tam Bram sensibilities couldn't make head or tail of it, but since greens (even if they were red in colour) were hard to come by in Calcutta, she was reluctant to let these leaves pass. So she asked around, and got this recipe from one of her colleagues, and started making it.
At that time, I didn't even know something called khas khas/ posto existed, much less know what it tasted like, but many years later, that thing called Nostalgia crawled out of the recesses of my mind, and made me pick up some khus khus during a trip to Delhi. I then asked my mother for recipes other than that of aloo-posto, and got this one.
Love it, because it combines two of my favourites- khus khus and peanuts!
1 bunch lal saag, destemmed and chopped fine
2 green chillis
2-3 pods garlic
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
2 tbsp khus khus
1/2 tsp kala jeera
1/2 tsp haldi powder
salt and sugar to taste
cooking oil

Season the oil with kala jeera, green chilli, garlic and haldi powder. 
Once the jeera starts spluttering, add finely chopped lal saag, salt and sugar (be careful with the salt).
Cover and cook, without adding additional water.
When it is nearly done, sprinkle the khus khus, mix well, and cook till nearly dry.
Garnish with roasted peanuts (optional)

Nov 12, 2013

Aloo bonda

Ever since I had a "Eureka" moment, and used the paniyaram pan for making dahi-bhallas, I have been thinking of new ways to push the barrier. After pakodas, muffins, and sundry other stuff, one of the last bastions of "deep fried" food has been broken.

Presenting Aloo bonda/ Batata Vada made on the paniyaram pan. Since I wasn't sure if I would be able to pull it off, I made this with aloo stuffing left over from making aloo-parathas, but from now on, I am going to make it for itself.

2-3 potatoes
1 onion
1 green chilli
1/2 tsp haldi powder
salt to taste
cooking oil

For the batter
4 tbsp besan
salt, red chilli powder, dhania powder to taste

Pressure cook the potatoes for 2 whistles. After it cools down, peel and mash well.
Cut the onions and green chillis into tiny pieces.
Mix the potatoes, onions, green chillies, salt and haldi powder well.

Make a batter, of dropping consistency.

Make balls a few milimeters less than the diameter of the paniyaram pan's mould. Dip the balls in the batter, and place in the paniyaram pan. Drizzle a few drops of oil in each of the moulds, and cook on a low flame till it starts coming out. Turn over, and cook the other side.

It doesn't taste exactly as good as the deep fried version does, but unless you know the difference, you may not be able to make out.

Nov 10, 2013

Mixed peel chutney

My mother hates wasting anything, and since she is convinced that the bulk of the nutrients reside in the peel, she saves all the peels she can find, to make what she calls "mixed peel chutney". Why she can't just cook veggies with their peel is beyond me, but since the chutney is tasty, I'm not complaining!

1/2 cup mixed peels (carrots, cucumbers work best)
2 to 3 tbsp roasted channa dal
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 to 3 green chillis
1 small ball tamarind
2 tbsp jaggery
Salt to taste

Heat the oil, and temper with mustard seeds and chillies. 
Reduce the flame, add the mixed peels (chopped into small pieces), and sauté till cooked.
Blend with tamarind, jaggery and salt till you get the desired consistency.

Nov 8, 2013

Roast veggies

I had a whole bunch of vegetables in the fridge, and instead of making the usual curry with them, decided to attempt something new. The older one liked it, because it reminded him of roast chicken, but nobody else had anything to say, so this is the first and last time I make it. Pity, because it was nice, in a very different sort of way.

Mixed vegetables cut into equal sized pieces (I used beans, carrots, peas, and potatoes)
2 tbsps soya sauce
1 tbsps Worcesterchire sauce

1 tbsp honey
1 tsp chilli powder

salt to taste

Saute the vegetables on low heat for a few minutes.
Add the soya sauce, the Worcestershire sauce, chilli powder and salt, mix well, and keep cooking till the vegetables are well coked.
Add the honey, stir well.
Check for seasonings before searving.


My younger one is the most fussy eater in the whole world, so when he likes something, you can be sure I make it often.
In the few weeks since I first tried making Bhappa Sandesh, I've made it twice more.

On Diwali with a dash of cardamon powder-

On Bhai Dooj with orange flavour and colouring-

Nov 6, 2013

Carrot-Zucchini Muffins

It is the last day of the school holidays, and I wanted to make something a little memorable for the kids. Carrot-zucchini muffins sounded perfect- something different, yet loaded with goodness.
Unfortunately, though, the kids both binged on biscuits an hour before lunchtime, and didn't exactly enjoy these as much as I hoped they would. But they were good, and I am definitely tempting them with it again, before giving up.

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cooking oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 cup grated zucchini
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup white whole what flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Prepare a pan with 9 standard muffin cups.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, salt, and egg. Add zucchini, carrots, and cinnamon powder.
Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the batter. Stir until just combined. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Let the muffins rest for 10 minutes before placing them into the oven.
Bake the muffins until the edges are lightly browned and they feel firm if gently pressed, about 18 to 25 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 10 minutes; transfer to a rack, and cool completely.

Nov 5, 2013

Arbi Lajawab, with curds

I am not particularly fond of arbi, but the hubby claims to like it a lot, so I am constantly looking for ways to make it more palatable. This recipe looked interesting, and though the arbi was as slimy as it always is, I'll probably make it again, because I did like it.

500 gms boiled and choped arbi
1/2 cup curds
1 1/2 tbsp besan
1 tbsp ghee
2 finely chopped onions
2 tsp ginger-garlicpaste
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp haldi powder
a few curry leaves
chilli powder to taste
salt to taste

MethodCombine the curds and besan and mix well to make a smooth paste.
Add 2 cups of water, salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder and mix well. Keep aside.
Heat ghee in a kadai, add curry leaves and mustard seeds.
When the seeds crackle, add the onions and ginger-garlic paste and saute till the onions turn translucent.
Add the arbi pieces and saute for five minutes, till they turn golden brown in colour.
Add the curd-gram flour mixture, mix well and simmer till the ghee floats on top and the gravy is thick.
Remove from flame and garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve hot with chapatis, or rice.


If you are looking for a really healthy snack, look no further than Kosimbir. It is loaded with proteins, is super tasty, and once you figure out what to do with it, you can experiment all you like.
This is the basic version- one  handed down from my grandmother to my mother to me.

1 cup split moong dal
1 cucumber
2 tbsp grated coconut
1/2 lemon
salt to taste

For tempering (optional)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 green chilli
1 sprig curry leaves
a little cooking oil

Soak the split moong dal overnight (or at least for 4 hours)
Cut the cucumber into tiny pieces and mix well with the dal
Add salt to taste, squeeze the lemon on top, and garnish with grated coconut
If you like, you can make the tempering and pour it over the kosimbir, or you can avoid it with no change in taste.
Serve chilled, either as a stand alone snack, or with rotis.

You can experiment with grated carrots, spring onions, etc.

Nov 1, 2013

Pal poli

Pal poli is one of my mother's signature dishes. While not particularly difficult to make, it is not a very common dish, so she always makes it when she wants to impress someone. This was made by her for Diwali.
1 measure chiroti rawa or maida
1 tbsp oil
1 litre milk
1 measure sugar
Few strands of saffron
Cooking oil for deep frying

Knead the chiroti rawa with oil and water, till it makes a soft dough. Keep aside for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, dissolve the saffron in 1 tbsp warm milk.
Dissolve the sugar in the remaining milk, bring to boil, and reduce to 75% of original volume. Add saffron milk and mix well.
Make small balls out of the dough, roll them out, fold in half, and deep fry. After draining the oil, introduce into the thickened milk. Bring to room temperature, and cool for 1 hour before serving.


Growing up, as I did, in what is now Jharkhand, I was seeped in Bihari culture long before I knew something called "culture" even existed. If Holi meant malpuas and dahi vada, even before Diwali got over, you started thinking of Chaat Puja and the thekuas that went with it. While the adventure of going with the large crowd of devotees to the nearest stream at sunset, and sneaking onto a rock and dipping your feet in the cold water gave you the greater thrill, you knew that there was an equally lovely treat to look forward to after you got back home.
I had forgotten all about thekuas, till a recent post, which opened the floodgates of my memory. Decades after I had last had one, I could actually taste the unique taste of thekuas. With a little bit of help from my friends at IFF, and by relying on my own memories, I managed to recreate something that tasted almost exactly like what I remembered it to be.
2 cups whole wheat flour (atta)
a pinch of salt 
4 tbsp ghee 
1/3 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar (you will have to adjust till you get the taste you want)
2 tbsp saunf powdered on a mortar and pestle
2 tbsp grated coconut
Oil for deep frying

Add the salt and ghee to the flour, and mix well.
Add the powdered sugar, the ground saunf and the coconut, and knead till you get a stiff dough. You will have to keep adding the water a little at a time, and rely on instinct to get it right.
Taste a bit of the dough, and add more sugar if you feel you need it.
Roll out into thickish "rotis", and cut into circles (I used a bottle cap).
Heat the oil, and when a tiny piece of dough rises up immediately, reduce the flame and add the cut pieces. Fry in batches and drain on kitchen towels. Allow it to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Diwali ke Chiwda (with puffed rice)

My mother always tried to make five sweets and five savouries for Diwali. I am not in her league, nor aspire to be, but I did want to make a total of five things for Diwali this year. This may or may not count as a "thing" in her books, but as far as I am concerned, it does.

Adapted from the basic chiwda I first made a couple of months back, I basically used whatever ingredients were on hand. And the result was quite pleasing.

1 cup puffed rice
1/2 cup corn puffs
4 tbsp peanuts
red chilli powder
haldi powder
cooking oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp powdered sugar

Dry roast the puffed rice till nice and crispy and keep aside (skip this step if the puffed rice is already crisp).
Heat the oil in a thick kadhai, splutter the mustard seeds, add the curry leaves, then add the peanuts and lightly fry till done.
Add the puffed rice and the corn puffs, the red chilli powder, haldi powder and sugar and heat with constant stirring till the grains are all well coated.
Turn off the flame, add 1 tsp powdered sugar, mix well. Allow it to cool before storing in an airtight container.