Mar 31, 2014

Vengaya Gotsu

Vengaya Gotsu is one of the man reasons why I developed such a craving for Ven Pongal. I have very pleasant memories of digging into the pungent accompaniment,savouring every last bit of it. Naturally, it placed high on the list of traditional Tamilian dishes that I wanted recipes for. Luckily, my mother's recipe is every bit as authentic as they come, and I've followed it to the letter.

For ground masala:
1 tsp dhania
1 tsp chana dal
4 red chillis

For tempering:
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp methi seeds
a pinch of hing
2 red chillis
1 green chilli

2 onions, chopped (but not finely)
1 potato chopped into small pieces
1 lime sized tamarind ball, made into paste, and diluted with 1 and 1/2 cup water
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp haldi pwd
1 tbsp jaggary (powdered)
1 tsp rice flour, made into a paste with a tsp water
Til oil

Heat the oil, and fry the ingredients listed under 'ground masala'. Powder or grind and keep aside
Heat some oil in a pan, and add the ingredients listed under "tempering".
Once the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add the onions.
When the onions start turning translucent, add potatoes, tamarind water, salt, haldi pwd and jaggery. Mix well, cover the pan, and let it cook till the potatoes are well done.
Add rice flour mixed in a little bit of water. Once it starts thickening, add the ground masala and cook till you get the desired consistency.
Preferably, serve the following day with Ven Pongal.

Ven Pongal

Though it tends to be overshadowed by it's more glamourus sister, Shakarai Pongal, Ven Pongal too has it's own band of followers who swear by it. I was never one of them. Even when I was a child, I barely tolerated it, and after my mother started making the Bong khuchudi, I virtually stopped having it. Till suddenly, the craving struck, and I called up my mother to get the recipe.
In, in turn, had moved on. After years of not making Ven Pongal, because the family had abandoned it, when she wanted to return, it was to a new recipe. And that's the recipe she passed on to me. The Ven Pongal didn't taste quite like the one I remember from my childhood, but I preferred it, because I could feed it to my kids with virtually no danger of them biting into a pungent peppercorn by mistake!

2 cups rice
1 cup moong dal
1 tsp peppercorns
2 tsp jeera
1 inch piece ginger
1 tbsp ghee
1 sprig curry leaves
Cashew nuts for garnish


Roast the moong dal, but not till the point where it starts turning red. Wash the roasted dal and rice, and cook with at least 6 cups water in an open vessel. When it is 3/4th done, add salt.
Meanwhile, dry roast the peppercorns and jeera, and coarsely powder them in a mortar and pestle*.
Heat the ghee, add finely chopped ginger, and the peppercorn-jeera powder. Once the jeera settles, add cashew nuts and curry leaves, and saute till the cashew starts browning.
Add to the 3/4th cooked rice-dal mixture. Mix well, and cook till done.
Serve steaming hot, preferably with gotsu.

Mar 30, 2014

Microwave Eggless Mango Cake

Ever since I got my OTG, I have stopped making cakes on the microwave. A few times when I had extra batter and stuck some of it in the MW, I've seen that the cake made in the conventional oven is much better than the one from the MW.
I was naturally skeptical about trying out this MW recipe, but since it was eggless, I decided to give it a go. And I quite like the result. The original recipe called for cocoa powder, but I replaced it with an equal quantity of cornflour.
This particular cake would have tasted really good with a dollop of ice cream and some fresh mango pieces.

1 cup of plain flour
¾ tspn of baking powder
¾ tspn of soda bicarbonate
3 level tablespoons of cocoa powder (I replaced it with cornflour)
100 gms of oil
2 tbspns of powdered sugar
Mango essence
Orange colour
1/2 tin of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup water 
Sieve the dry ingredients together to mix well. 
Add the oil, essence and food colour, and mix well.
Add condensed milk and water.
Pour into a microwaveable dish, lined with butter paper
Bake on high, 100 percent power. Start checking every 30 seconds after 4:30 minutes. It is supposed to get done in 6 minutes, but mine took only 5.

Malai Makhana Curry

My mother used to cook Makhana a lot when I was a kid, but it has been ages since I had it, and I'd almost forgotten it existed. Was reminded of it's existence a year or two back, when I saw MM post this recipe, but since makhana wasn't available at any of the stores near me, I could only lust. After moving to the new place, I saw makhana at my grocer, but it took me nearly 6 months to finally make this.
I ground the spices, which wasn't such a good idea. Next time, I will remove the spices before grinding, and I am sure I will like it much more that way.

Makhana /Lotus Seeds/Puffed Fox nuts, 3 Cups
Green Peas, 1 Cup
Oil, 1 tbsp

For the gravy:
Bay Leaf, 1
Cinnamon, 1 inch
Green Cardamom, 2
Black peppercorns, 8
Onions, chopped,2 medium
Tomato puree, 5 tbsp
Ginger, paste, ½ tsp
Garlic, paste,1 tsp
Salt, to taste
Coriander powder ,1 tsp
Kashmiri Red chili powder, 1 tsp ( gives a lovely red colour without any heat)
Fresh Cream, ½ cup
Oil, 1 tbsp
Water, enough to get a thin consistency gravy

Dry roast makhanas in a non stick pan over low heat with constantly stirring. When makhanas start going crunchy pour a tablespoon of oil all over them and continue to stir till they start changing colour to pale golden brown. Remove from heat and keep aside.
Boil green peas and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan and then add bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns. Sauté till they start to crackle. Add onions and fry till light golden brown. Add ginger/garlic paste and sauté well. Add tomato, tomato puree and all the spice powders. Sauté till oil separates and then take it off heat. Blend the mix to a smooth fine paste (use water if necessary) and strain it back into the pan. If you don’t want the heat of the whole spices, pls. fish them out before blending the paste. I didn’t want to add red chili powder so I left the whole spices in. If you want to add red chili powder, don’t add the peppercorns or reduce the quantity.

Add water to the strained mix and let it come to a boil. Add green peas & makhanas. Let the gravy simmer well on low heat so that the makhanas get a chance to soak up the gravy and go soft. Add the cream, mix well and cook for another couple of minutes.
Serve hot.

You can avoid the cream by adding milk instead of water to the gravy.
Mushrooms and Paneer also work well with the Makhanas.

Mar 29, 2014

Aloo dum with Fennel Tempering

When I saw this recipe, I knew I just had to try it out, specially since I so seldom use saunf in daily cooking. The original recipe was for an egg curry, but it worked just as well with baby potatoes.

250 gms baby potatoes, boiled and peeled
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
Paste of 1 large onion
2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic paste
Haldi powder to taste
Chilli powder to taste
Salt to taste
Cooking oil (about 1 tbsp)
Dil leaves for garnish
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp sugar

Heat oil and add fennel seeds and bay leaf, fry for a minute till the aroma releases.
Add a mix of fine onion paste, ginger paste and garlic paste, haldi and chilli powder.
Fry the masala well till oil seperates. I added sugar, because the masala seemed to spicy, and it added a nice taste to the dish.
Add boiled potatoes.
Cook on low heat with a minimum of water.
Take off fire. Garnish with dil leaves and a pinch of fennel powder.

Cucumber pachadi

Like any other Tam Bram girl, I've grown up on cucumber pachadi, and never even knew about the existence of  'raitas' till I was in college. Cucumber pachadi is my favourite.

1 cup curds
1 cucumber grated
salt to taste

For Tempering:
Mustard seeds
Urad dal
Green chilli
Curry leaves
Til oil

Beat the curds with some water and salt to taste till smooth.
Grate the cucumber, and squeeze the juice out (you can either throw it away, or slather it on your face, or drink it like I do).
Mix cucumber with the curds.
Heat oil, temper with mustard seeds, urad dal, green chillis and curry leaves, and pour over the pachadi.
Mix well before serving.

Mar 28, 2014

Orange infused chocolate cake

I had measured most of the stuff for a regular chocolate cake, when the Younger One asked me if I could make an orange-chocolate cake instead. Had he asked a little earlier, I had a recipe that I could have used, but since most of the preparatory work had been done, I just winged it.
The combination of orange and chocolate is lovely, and next time I bake, I am making the "real" ones.

100 gms maida
1 tsp baking powder
100 gms sugar
2 eggs
100 gms butter
2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
juice of 1 orange
4 tsp icing sugar

Line a cake tin with butter paper, and keep aside.
Sift together the maida, baking powder and cocoa three or four times till well aerated and keep aside.
Whisk 2 eggs till frothy and keep aside.
In a mixing bowl, mix the butter and sugar taking care that you always stir the spoon in the same direction. Do it till the two are well mixed and creamy.
Add a bit of the flour and some beaten egg to the mixture, and mix till creamy. Keep doing it till all the flour and eggs are mixed. Mix the batter a bit more- the more you mix, the fluffier your cake will be.
Pour the batter in the tin, taking care to push the batter towards the ourside (to prevent doming and cracking)
Preheat the over to 200 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes, or till a knitting needle pushed into the batter comes out clean.
Meanwhile, mix the orange juice and icing sugar together in a bowl. Carefully pour the orange juice mixture over the warm cakes and set aside to cool completely.
I was a little skeptical about the combination, but it was quite amazing.

Added a small bit of orange peel in the tea while brewing it, which helped me savour the cake even more.

Oregano Flavoured Paneer

I've been wanting to make flavoured paneer for a long time, and finally did so today. It tasted really lovely, and I am definitely experimenting more with flavoured paneer.

For paneer:
1 litre milk
1/3 cup curds
1 lemon
1 tsp oregano flakes

For bhurji:
1 tbsp til oil
1 onion chopped fine
1 tbsp (flavoured) vinegar
Salt to taste

Take the milk in a thick bottomed vessel, and heat it. When it starts heating up, stir in the curds (well beaten), and keep stirring. At this stage, add the oregano flakes (or any other flavour you want to experiment with).
When the milk comes to a boil, lower the flame, and squeeze in the juice of 1/2 lemon. Squeeze in the other half if the paneer doesn't seperate.
Line a colander with a muslin cloth and pour the mixture in. Once all the water has drained out, place a weight on the cloth, and leave it for about 30 minutes
Cut into cubes.

Heat the til oil, and fry the paneer pieces on low heat. Remove the paneer pieces.
In the same oil, saute the onions till the raw smell goes. Turn off the fire
Add the paneer pieces, vinegar and salt, and mix well.

Mar 27, 2014

Urulaikizhangu Podimas

Urulaikizhungu Podimas. I had even forgotten the dish existed, but when I saw the vengaya sambar staring at me from the fridge, the memories flooded my tastebuds. Memories of podimas eaten at my Patti's bright and airy Besant Nagar dining room, vague memories of her dining room in Deonar, and wonderful memories of eating with her in Malleshwaram. She might have moved houses every few years, but the podimas remained constant, as did her vengaya sambhar.

2 large potatoes
¾ tsp mustard seeds
a pinch of hing
1/2 inch piece ginger chopped into tiny piecces
1 green chili
10-12 curry leaves
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp chana dal
1 tbsp gingerly oil
1 tbsp lemon juice or as required
salt to taste


Boil the potatoes in a pressure cooker till completely cooked and of mashable consistency.
Peel and mash the potatoes coarsely
Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds. After it stops spluttering, add green chillis, curry leaves, ginger, urad dal, chana dal, and hing. Stir for half a minute
Add potatoes and salt, and saute on a low flame stirring constantly.
Serve with vengaya sambhar and steamed rice.

Patti's meal

My Patti was an excellent cook, but what made her really great was the fact that she cooked not to satisfy her vanity, but to make people happy. She knew the favourite dishes of all the people she was close to, and she always made it for them whenever she could.

This was "my" lunch- vengaya sambar, podimas, cucumber pachadi, rice and ghee- all cooked with love, and served with joy.

This is the first time I have cooked this combination for myself, and I know I will do so again soon.

Mar 26, 2014

Masala bhindi

Nobody at my place is a great fan of bhindi, but when that is practically the only vegetable available in the market, does one really have much of a choice? Forget eating it, I don't like cooking it either, and I definitely didn't want to make it the conventional way.
Experimented a bit, and came up with something that tasted much better than I expected. Not just that, I have been told that the next time I make it, I should make more, because it was so good!

250 gms bhindi- cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion cut lengthwise
1/2 tsp dhania powder
1/2 tsp jeera powder
1/2 tsp haldi powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp amchur powder
1/2 tsp  mustard seeds
salt to taste
2 tbsp besan
2 tbsp cooking oil

Heat the oil, temper with mustard seeds. Once they stop spluttering, add onions, and saute till they start turning transparent
Add the bhindi, and the masalas, and fry till the bhindis are almost cooked (the onions will brown nicely)
Sprinkle besan, fry for a couple of minutes, and serve.

Mar 25, 2014

Vengaya Sambar

If you ask me to choose one dish that I can never have enough of, I would probably choose Vengaya Sambar. Both my grandmothers were experts at making it, as was my mother, so my expectations from the dish are very, very high. But when you take your mother's recipe, and follow it to the letter, it is hard to go wrong. No, I will not say my vengaya sambar compares to their's, but it definitely comes close. And someday, I guess I will get it just right!

1 measure tur dal (soaked overnight)
1/2 tsp haldi powder

250 gms small onions
1 marble sized ball of tamarind

For ground masala:

6 red chillies (I use 2)
1 1/2 tsp dhania
1 tsp chana dal
2 tbsp grated coconut

For tempering: 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp methi seeds
2 red chillis
1 sprig curry leaves
Hing to taste
Til oil- about 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

Cook the tur dal with haldi powder and salt till soft. Mash, and keep aside.
Peel the small onions*
Dry roast the ingredients listed under 'ground masala', and grind to a paste with minimal water
Heat the oil, add the ingredients under 'tempering'. Once the mustard seeds stop spluttering, add the small onions and saute till translucent.
Make a paste with the tamarind ball, dilute it. Add tamarind juice along with salt to the fried onions, and bring to a boil.
Add cooked dal, and bring to a boil.
Add ground masala, bring to a boil, and let it cook on a low flame for 3-5 minutes

Though it can be had hot, I prefer to have it the next day, so the flavours seep into the onions.

* rubbing oil on the onions 15 minutes before peeling makes it easier to peel. I prefer to peel the previous night, and keep in an airtight container in the fridge

Mar 24, 2014

Cà Phê Trứng

I stumbled across Cà Phê Trứng quite accidentally, and was quite intrigued by the concept of adding egg yolk to coffee. But I couldn't get the idea out of my mind either, so when I was making omelet for my hubby yesterday, I saved the egg yolk and made the coffee today.
Sweeter than I would like my coffee to be, it was surprisingly good. No "eggy" flavour, much less an "eggy" smell- if I have to describe it, I would say it tastes a lot like tiramisu might in a liquid form.
Definitely making it again- calories be damned!

1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons coffee powder
2 teaspoons of sweetened condensed milk
Boiling water

Brew a small cup of filter coffee.
Put the yolk and the sweetened condensed milk in a small, deep bowl and whisk vigorously until you end up with a frothy, fluffy mixture. Add a tablespoon of the brewed coffee and whisk it in.
In a clear coffee cup, pour in your brewed coffee, then add the fluffy egg mixture on top.
Mix it well, and your cà phê trứng is ready.
In Vietnam, they serve the coffee over a bowl of hot water, so the coffee remains warm longer.

Chocolate pancakes with Strawberry and Banana Sauce

My younger one is in love with pancakes, so the moment I saw the picture on IFF, I knew I would be making Bhavana Bhakhri's Chocolate pancakes with Strawberry and Banana Sauce  sooner rather than later. Made them today, and the kid lapped them up faster than my pan could supply.
Maida.....1 cup (sieved)
Baking Powder.....1tsp
Drinking chocolate powder - 2 tbsp (the original recipe called for chocolate, but I replaced it)
Butter.....2-3 tbsp
Strawberry preserve- 4 tbsp
Banana ....1 mashed

Sieve the maida, baking powder and chocolate powder a few times till well incorporated
Whisk the eggs with milk till froathy
Add the dry ingredients to the eggs, and mix well, till well blended.
In a pan add 1 tbsp of butter and add mashed banana and saute for few minutes. Add the strawberry preserve and cook till you get the desired consistency.
Heat a nonstick tawa, add 1 tbsp of butter. Pour a ladle full of batter and spread it around the pan. Cook on medium heat till the underside is done and then flip and cook from other side till done.
Take it out on a plate and pour the sauce over it and enjoy the delicious pancake.

Mar 23, 2014

Homemade Roasted Chickpeas

I've been wanting to make this ever since I saw it posted on IFF by Nanditha Suresh about a month back. The right time finally came when I soaked kala-chana intending to make it for dinner, only to be told we had been invited to a housewarming party instead. I could have dumped it in the freezer for making another day, but decided to try the recipe out.
And it was absolutely delicious! Not to polish off an entire bowlful with a cup of tea and a good book.

2 cups chickpeas
1 tbsp oil 
1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/3 tsp haldi powder
Salt to taste
Soak the chickpeas overnight and pressure cook (1 whistle). Drain the chickpeas and let it dry completely.
Pre-heat oven to 200 degree celcius for 5 minutes.
In a bowl mix chickpeas and oil. Toss it well. In another cup, mix the dry spices well to make sure the flavours blend well. Now combine the oil-coated chickpeas with the dry spices. Ensure all the ingredients are mixed well.
Now, place the chickpeas mixture on a baking tray and spread it well. Place it in the pre-heated oven. In the same temperature, let it roast for 30 minutes or till browned.
Now the healthy and tasty snack is ready to be served.

Mar 21, 2014

Papa A La Huancaina

When I saw this Peruvian dish posted by SB about a month back, I knew I had to try it out sometime. With the kids home for the holidays, now is the prefect time and I made it today.

The dressing was really lovely, and I know for sure I am going to make it again soon, maybe even as a dip.

For Huancaina Sauce
Soda Biscuits: 10-12 crackers
Paneer: 250 gms
Red Habanero Chillies : 3-5 pieces (Can increase of decrease as per your spice preference)
Toned Milk: 200-250 mls (Tweak according to the consistency)
Salt: To Taste
Lemon Juice: To Taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil : 2-3 table spoons

For the salad
6-7 Boiled potatoes
6-7 boiled eggs
One bunch of Romaine Lettuce
Black Olives to Garnish

Break the biscuits and add them to the blender, add crumbled paneer, pieces of habanero chillies, toned milk, extra virgin olive oil and salt and blend till a pasty consistency sauce is formed, taste and add lemon juice as per your acidity preference and chill.
On a platter spread the lettuce leaves, potatoes, boiled eggs and pour the sauce evenly over it and serve.

Mar 20, 2014

Summer Salad- with marigold petals

I loved the idea of making a Summer Salad with marigold petals, and impatiently waited for my sunkissed vinegar to mature so I could use that as a salad dressing. The day finally dawned when I could bring the vinegar out, and we had this light Summer Salad to celebrate!

3 or 4 large lettuce leaves per person
1/4 of a cucumber per person, washed and diced
1 large hard boiled egg per person, peeled and halved
2-3 cherry tomatoes per person
2 tbsp sunkissed vinegar
The petals of 1 marigold flower per person
Salt and pepper, to taste

Arrange the lettuce leaves in a bowl, shredding them if they are very large.
Place the cucumber in and amongst the lettuce leaves and then add the hard-boiled eggs and tomatos.
Sprinkle salt and pepper, and spread the vinegar evenly over the salad
Scatter the marigold petals over the salad.

Sunkissed- Marigold infused Vinegar

I almost always have marigolds blooming in my pots, so when I saw a recipe for Marigold infused Vinegar, I was tempted to give it a try. After plucking a few plump blossoms, I washed them clean, and proceeded to tear them open so the florets could dry in the sun. And I ran into trouble immediately- the wet florets stuck to the fingers, and spreading them out became a mammoth task. And after they were sundried, separating the orange flowers from the black and white seeds was another huge effort.
Next time, I shall definitely do it differently. And a next time there will be, because I did like the flavour of marigold in vinegar.

2 cups marigold flowers
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups vinegar

With a sharp pair of scissors, chop off the orange part of the marigold flowers, and wash them in a steel colander. Once the water drains out, spread them out on a newspaper and let them dry in the sun for 4-5 hours (reserve the seeds for planting- you want the cycle of life to continue, don't you?)
Stuff the petals into a bottle, add the salt, sugar and vinegar, and shake well so it all dissolves. Keep it in a cool dry place for two weeks.
Decant the vinegar, throw away the petals and store.
Can be used as a salad dressing.

Aloo tikki burger

I love most things about our new place, but one thing I don't like about it is the fact that it falls in an area where you can't order a takeaway from Mc Donalds. And that can be a bit of a problem since my younger one loves the aloo tikki burgers from MD more than anything else.
Today, I tried to make it at home, and while my whole-wheat burger was not as soft as the original, it wasn't too bad.

For the burger bun
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cups water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup maida
3/4 cups milk
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
milk for brushing
sesame seeds for sprinkling on top

Heat the water slightly, dissolve the sugar in it, and mix the yeast in it. Let it stand for about 10 minutes, till the yeast becomes nice and frothy. If it doesn't froth, let it stand some more time, and if it still doesn't, just abandon the venture.
Mix the flours and salt well, add the oil, mix well. Pour in the yeast solution and the milk, and knead well for at least 10 minutes (this is essential if you are using whole wheat flour)
Roll into a ball, cover with a damp cloth, and let it stand for about one hour. The dough should double in size in that time.
Punch down the dough, divide it into three equal parts, and roll each into a burger shape (to keep the top smooth, you might have to tuck some of the dough at the bottom). Place on a greased baking tray, and let it stand for another 40 minutes. Start the oven after about 30 mins.
Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, brush with milk, and bake in preheated oven at 220 degrees for 20 minutes.

For patty
Boil 3 potatoes, let it cool, mash. Add salt, haldi, chilli powder, jeera powder and dhania powder according to taste. Add 1 tbsp cornflour, and mix well. Shape into three patties, and shallow fry till golden brown.

Assemble it
Slice the burger bun in half.
Spread a layer of mayonnaise, place a lettuce leaf, a patty, diced onion rings, cucumber and tomatoes. Sprinkle some salt and pepper, close it down with the other half of the bun. Hold in place with a toothpick- cherry tomato optional!

Mar 19, 2014

Skinny Lemon Cakes

"Mamma, I'm hungry. Can I have one of your awesome cupcakes", asked my younger one. I knew it was not love for my cooking that was talking- it was only fear that I might dish up spinach muffins again that was coercing him into taking preventive measure.
"Which one?", I asked, hoping he would say chocolate or something equally simple.
"Lemon", he said, before adding, "eggless maybe, since Papa is also at home."
There went my dreams of whipping up a quick sponge cake. Since I was going to Google Uncle to help with recipes, I thought of making something butterless too, so I could conserve my dwindling stocks of butter.
Eggless, butterless, citric. I could only hope I would come up with something decent, but this cake was lovely beyond any I expected. Presenting an absolute winner of a skinny lemon cake.

1 and 3/4 cup cake flour (maida, with 1.5 tbsp cornflour)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 and 1/4 cup curds
1/2 cup castor sugar
grated rind of 1 lemon
3 tbsp lemon juice
yellow colour, optional
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine curd and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat it using hand blender or whisk. Add lemon rind, lemon juice, colour and vegetable oil. Blend it again. Keep it aside.
Sieve flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add this dry mixture to wet mixture and mix everything well.
Preheat oven to 180 degree C for 10 mins. Take a greased muffin pan, and fill it with cake batter (I got 12 cupcakes). Keep the pan in oven and bake at 180 degrees C for 20 mins. Check the cake by inserting a toothpick at the center. It should come out clean

Mar 18, 2014

Cilbir- Poached Eggs in Garlic Yogurt

I first heard of Cilbir when a photograph came up on my newsfeed. Poached eggs, garlic, and yogurt. Three of my favourite things. Naturally, I was intrigued. I didn't think the three would go together, but I had to try it out to know for myself.
Since I hadn't taken down the recipe, I asked Google Uncle for help, and came up with this recipe that I eventually used. Delicious!
1 liter of boiling water
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs
2 cups yogurt
4 cloves of garlic
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoons of butter
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Crush the garlic cloves and add them into yogurt. Stir well until the yogurt holds a creamy texture. Add salt. Keep the bowl next to the flame on which you will be poaching the eggs, so it is brought down to room temperature.
Melt butter in a saucepan, add paprika and remove from heat.
In a deep skillet, bring water to boil. Add salt and vinegar into water. Keep the skillet on low heat. The surface of the water should not be trembling, but it should still be hot enough. Crack an egg into a bowl, and gently ease it into the water. Allow the first one to settle a bit before adding the second egg. Cook each egg for about 3-4 minutes until the outer layer becomes opaque and the yolk is still a bit wobbly, but not too runny.
When you are ready to serve, remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon, drain and place them atop the yogurt in each plate. Drizzle melted butter sauce over the eggs and yogurt, re-heat the butter sauce if needed and serve immediately.

Mar 17, 2014

Tair Shadam

Very many years back, I had a colleague who used to make tair shadam by setting the curds in the rice itself. Though I loved the idea, I never really tried it out. Mostly because I rarely set my own curds (preferring instead to buy it packaged), but also because when it comes to certain things, there is a huge disconnect between intention and action!

But when I ended up with a good amount of left over rice, less than an hour after seeing someone blog about the "dahi chawal" they set, I decided to try it out for myself, and it was pretty good!

1 cup left over rice
500 ml milk
2 tbsp starter for the curds
Salt to taste
1 green chilli

For tempering
urad dal
mustard seeds
green chilli
curry leaves

Separate the rice well, and spread it over the bottom of the bowl.
Boil the milk, bring it down to room temperature, and mix the starter curds with it so it is properly incorporated.
Pour the milk over the rice, add salt to taste and one green chilli (for the flavour), and allow it to set in a warm place overnight.
Temper with mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves and green chilli before serving.

Tair vadai

One of my favourite snacks of all times is Tair Vadai. Nothing can come close to the tair vadai that my mother makes, but the tair vadai I made for Holi wasn't too bad.

Medu vada- recipe here
2 cups curds

1/2 coconut (grated)
1 green chill
small amount of tamarind

salt to taste

For tempering
1/2 tsp urad dal
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves

Grind coconut, green chilli, tamarind and salt with a small amount of water.
Beat the curds with a little bit of water, add the coconut chutney, and mix well. Add sufficient water, since a lot will be absorbed.
Temper with urad dal, mustard seeds and curry leaves, and mix into the mixture
Reserve some of the curds, and add the vadais to the rest. Press down, and let it soak the curds in. Add the rest of the curds before serving.

Mar 16, 2014

Jardaloo Salli Boti (with chicken)

Salli Boti is one of my favourite Parsi dishes, and I absolutely love this version with Apricots. Like the Parsi community itself, this recipe is a perfect blend of Persian flavours (apricots and vinegar), and Indian spices.
The store bought salli (shoestring potatoes) adds that extra crunch which makes it positively divine!

500 gms boneless chicken cut into cubes

For marinade1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

3 large onions chopped fine
½ tsp chilli pwd
½ tsp haldi pwd
½ tsp jeera pwd
½ tsp dhania pwd
¼ teaspoon Garam Masala pwd
1 ½ tsp sugar
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
2 cups water
5 apricots soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes, and chopped
2 tbsp vinegar
Salt to taste
Cooking oil (about 2 tbsp)

Salli or shoestring potatoes or crushed potato chips, as a topping

 Marinate the chicken with ginger-garlic paste, salt and pepper for at least 2 hours.
Heat the oil and sauté the onions till they start turning brown.
Add the chicken, and sauté for about 5 mins.
Add dry spices and salt, mix well and sauté for 5 minutes (if the spices start sticking to the pan, add a bit of water)
Add the diced tomatoes, apricot, salt and water. Bring this mixture to a boil and cook covered for 10-12 minutes till the water is absorbed, and the chicken and tomatoes are cooked through.
Add vinegar, and simmer for another 3-4 minutes for the flavours to blend.
Top with Salli or shoestring potatoes before serving.

Tomato rice

Perfect something for those days when you don't feel like cooking anything elaborate, and you don't want to order in either. Might also be a good way to use up leftover rice, though I made it with fresh rice.
1 measure rice soaked for about 30 minutes (or 1/2 cups leftover rice)
3 tomatoes chopped
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp jeera powder
1/2 tsp dhania powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
2-3 tbsp peanuts
salt to taste

For tempering
mustard seeds
urad dal
roasted channa dal
curry leaves
Put the rice to boil, with double the quantity of water
Roast the peanuts and keep aside
Heat oil, and saute tomatoes, and ginger garlic paste till the raw smell goes. Add the dry masalas and mix well.
Pour in the partially cooked rice, add salt, cover and let it cook till the rice is done (if using leftover rice, sprinkle some water on top, and then close the led)
Temper the oil with mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal and curry leaves, and pour it over the tomatoes. Add the peanuts and give it a good mix.
Serve hot with papad. 

Medu vada

I absolutely love medu vada, but am far too lazy to make them the conventional way. While the doughnut shaped ones do look good, I am not sure if getting the perfect shape is worth all the trouble, specially since the funny shaped ones taste almost as good. So this time, while making tair vadai for Holi, I decided to reserve a few just for myself.
I also tried out a couple of modifications, which gave it an extra crunch.
1 cup urad dal, soaked for at least 6 hours
1 half inch piece ginger 
1 green chilli
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tbsp sooji/ rawa
1/2 tsp baking soda
salt to taste
oil for frying
Grind the urad dal with ginger, chilli and curry leaves, and very little water
Pour the batter into a bowl, add salt, baking soda, and rawa, and whisk well with the hand till nice and fluffy (you can test it by dropping a bit in water- if it sinks down, and then rises up, it's done, if not, beat a bit more).
Heat the oil in a kadhai- test by dropping a bit of batter in the oil- if it rises up with bubbles, the oil is just right.
Take a bit of batter and drop it gently into the oil, turn it around a bit to ensure it is well brown.
Ensure you check the temperature of the oil before every batch.
Serve hot with green chutney, or reserve for tair vadais.

Mar 15, 2014

Masala Crackers

This recipe for masala crackers had been sitting in my list of recipes to try for so long, it was in danger of becoming a permanent fixture there. With Holi around the corner, and me feeling too lazy to make anything else for the festival, I finally decided to make it.
It was much easier to make than I expected, and came out quite soft. Definitely something I will be making again.

Whole wheat flour-1 1/2 cupsJeera- 1 tsp, roasted and lightly powdered
Kasuri methi-1 tsp
Sesame seeds-1 tbsp

Salt -1 tsp or according to taste (I added 1/2 tsp and it was too bland)
Chili flakes -1/2 tsp

Baking powder-1/2 tsp
Oil-3 tbs(Ratio is 1 tbs oil for every 1/2 cup of flour)
Yogurt - 1 tbs
Water -1/4 cup or less (I needed much less)

Mix the flour, jeera, kasuri methi, sesame seeds, baking powder, salt and chili flakes in a bowl
Add oil and curds, and knead the dough, adding water if required. Cover and keep for about 15 mins.

Roll the dough into 1/8 inch thickness and cut into shapes.
Lay them on a cookie tray, prick each cracker with a fork and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes
Place on a wire rack to cool completely and serve with a hot cup of tea.

Malpua- less sinful, less sensational version

Holi without malpuas is, well, incomplete. For the longest time, I didn't dare try o make malpuas, o it was okay. But once I started cooking, I could no longer do without. I tried a new recipe this time, and attempted shallow frying it, but it was just not the same thing. Next year, deep fried it shall be- though I shall perhaps attempt this same recipe.

Whole-wheat flour(atta): 1 cup
All-purpose flour(maida):1 cup
Semolina(sooji):1/2 cup
Milk:2 cups
Ghee for frying


Mix the three flour (Wholewheat, All Purpose ,Semolina)with milk and sugar thoroughly! Let the batter rest for one hour!Now ladle in desi ghee!You may deep fry or shallow fry if using a non stick pan.

Mar 14, 2014

Kaddu ki Subji

I love to drool over pictures of pumpkins, and day-dream over recipes of pumpkin soup. So when I saw a pumpkin at my vegetable stall, I picked it up, even though I had no idea what to do with it. It was after getting back home that I looked for recipes, and I rather liked this one, and decided to try it out. The jury is still out on whether or not the family likes it!

1 small pumpkin/kaddu
¼ tsp methi seeds
1 tsp jeera
1 or 2 dry red chilies (optional)
½ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp amchur
1 tsp sugar or 2 tsp crushed jaggery
2 tbsp oil or ghee
¾th cup or 1 cup water
salt to taste

Wash, peel and chop the pumpkin. Remove the seeds and keep aside either for planting or for making roasted pumpkin seeds
Heat oil/ghee in a pressure cooker, temper with methi seeds and jeera, and fry for a minute on a low flame. Add red chilli, chopped pumpkin, and haldi and red chilli powder. Mix it well, add sugar, salt and water, cover the cooker, and let it cook for 8 minutes (after the first whistle).
Mash the cooked pumpkin, add garam masala and amchur powder. Stir the mashed pumpkin well and cook for minute or two. If the sabzi still looks watery, evaporate it by cooking it without the lid- the sabzi should not be dry nor watery, just in between.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve kaddu ki sabzi hot with puris

Spicing up plain ol' dal

Even plain ol' dal can be spiced up with a few crushed dal vadis- perfect for those days when you want something more than just "regular dal", but don't feel like putting in any additional effort.
Pressure cook masoor dal with turmeric and red chilli powder till soft and mushy. Mash well, add water to get the desired consistency, add salt to taste and bring to a boil.
Temper jeera in some mustard oil. Add 1/2 an onion chopped fine, and when it turns transparent, add about 2 tbsps of crushed vadis. Fry till onions are browned, then pour over the dal and serve.

Mar 13, 2014

Spinach-Salami-Cheese Muffins

A photograph of what seemed like spinach-cheese muffins had been torturing me all day, and by lunchtime, I decided I would burst if I didn't get to eat it soon. Since there was a bunch of spinach leaves in the refrigerator, the time between thought and action was amazingly low!
I took a recipe from the Internet, adapted it to suit what I had in the kitchen, and came up with something I am sure to use again.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Couple of slices of salami cut into strips
Handfull of melon seeds (walnut might be better, but I had only melon seeds at home)

Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Lightly grease 12 cup muffin cups.
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a mixing bowl.
Stir the melted butter, egg, milk, spinach, cheese and salami together in a large mixing bowl until evenly blended. Slowly stir in the flour mixture to form a batter. Spoon about 2 tablespoons into each muffin cup. Sprinkle the melon seeds on top
Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Grab a cup of coffee. Enjoy!

Mar 12, 2014

Crispy Lemon Grass Tofu

A couple of weeks back, I bought a bunch of lemon-grass on an impulse. It was after I got home that I started looking for recipes where I could use them. Some went into a noodle soup, most of it went into my chai, and most of the rest languished in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, a whole bunch of recipes remained in the "to be tried someday" file.
Today, I tackled one of those recipes, and it was much better than I hoped it would be. Onward now- tofu (or 'shona' as the Younger One calls it) might just make an appearance at our dining table more frequently.

Oil for frying
1 block tofu, drained and cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks fresh lemon grass, tender part only, minced
1 tablespoon chili paste
1 red onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey

In a saucepan or fryer, heat 1 inch of canola oil to about 350 degrees. Drain the tofu cubes on paper towels. Place cornstarch in a plastic bag, drop in the tofu and shake to coat. Drop the tofu cubes in 1 layer in the hot oil (cook in two batches if necessary) and fry until golden and crispy. Drain on fresh paper towels.
In a wok, heat a small drizzle of canola oil. Add the garlic, lemon grass, chili paste, onion and bell pepper. Cook until onion just begins to turn translucent, then add the tofu, fish sauce and honey. Toss gently until a fine glaze appears on all sides of the tofu cubes.
Serve over rice.

Mar 11, 2014

Sindhi kadhi

My hubby's aunt often made Sindhi kadhi and Tahdig when she called us over for dinner, and though I was ambivalent the first time I had it, by and by, I grew to like it. One thing that remained a mystery, however, was the nomenclature. When something looked like sambar, and definitely didn't have any curds in it, why should it be called "kadhi"? It was only much later that I found out that the method of preparation of Sindhi kadhi was almost identical to that of regular kadhi, with the main difference being that it substituted tamarind water for curds.
This is the first time I made it, and I am definitely making it again.

4 tbsp besan (bengal gram flour)
A pinch of hing
Few curry leaves
1 tsp jeeraa
1/4 tsp methi seeds
2 small potatoes (cut into big cubes)
2 large carrots, cut lengthwise
1/3 cup peas
1 green chillie
1 inch ginger (chopped / grated)
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp haldi powder
 tamarind pulp, made out of 1 lemon sized ball of tamarind
 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (finely chopped)
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil


Heat oil in a deep pan, temper with jeera, methi seeds and curry leaves.
 Add gram flour and stir, till besan turns little golden in color and lets out a lovely fragrance.
Add hing and mix well. Add about 1 cup water, and stir well to prevent lumps from forming.
Add potatoes, and after 2-3 minutes the carrots and peas.*
Stir in salt, red chilli powder and haldi powder, mix well. Cover the pot with a lid, and let the vegetables cook till they are soft.
After 5-6 minutes, add tamarind pulp and mix well.
Serve hot with steamed rice, jeera rice or tahdig.

* if you are adding vegetables that need to be fried, fry first, then add to the kadhi.

Mar 6, 2014

Aubergine au gratin a.k.a. Baigan Busted

My bid to feed the kids at least one serving of "real" veggies everyday is being frustrated by the lack of veggies in the market. Instead of insipid 'baigan subji", I decided to make them "aubergine au gratin" yesterday. Kids loved the name, and took a really large bite, and then another.
"But Mamma", the Older One finally said, "this aubergine tastes exactly like baigan".

250 gms brinjal (mine were small ones), chopped into small pieces
1 packet sweet corn (will be about 1/3 cup, I guess)
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tbsp cornflour
salt, chilli flakes, oregano to taste (or any other herb you like)
Cheese- lots

Saute the brinjal in butter (with a bit of salt), and when almost done, add the corn, and stir a bit more.
Heat milk, stir a bit of it into the cornflour to make a paste, and when the milk comes to a boil, add the cornflour, stir well, and cook for about 2 mins. Add salt, cheese and anything else you might want to add to the sauce, before pouring it over the baigan and corn.
Sprinkle grated cheese on top, and bake at 180 degrees for about 10 mins.

Mar 4, 2014

Cauliflower Chilli Fry

When there are only so many vegetables your family eats, you try to find new ways of cooking it, so they don't get tired of those few veggies also. This cauliflower was super yummilicious. But I am not sure if I will make it again, because it was far too messy. But again, given the fact that even the Younger One lapped it up, maybe I should make it again though not too soon.

1 cup diced cauliflower3 tsp curd
2 green chillies
4-5 curry leaves

For the Batter to coat the Cauliflower:
2 tbsp rice flour
Red chilli powder, to season
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry
Mix all ingredients to make a thick batter or paste.

To this add the cauliflower and deep fry. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan and lightly saute the curry leaves.

Add green chillies and curd.

Finally add the cauliflower. Mix well.

Serve pipping hot, either as a starter or with rice and dal.

Mar 3, 2014

Tengai Sevai, without coconut

Kids fed, nothing left for me. No coconut or peanuts in the house, so sabudana khichadi out, as also poha. Brand new packet of rice vermicelli purchased, but one cannot really make coconut sevai without coconut. Or, can one? Maybe if it is dressed up differently?

1/3 cut vermicelli
1 sprig curry leaves
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp urad dal
1 red chilli
2-3 tbsp cashewnuts
salt to taste

Cook vermicelli according to the instructions on the packet, keep aside
Heat ghee, temper with mustard seeds. Once they stop crackling add cashewnuts, urad dal, red chilli, and curry leaves and fry on low heat till they nuts are well browned.
Pour over the vermicelli, add salt to taste and stir well.
No, it is not coconut sevai, but it is close enough!