Apr 30, 2014

Dali Toy- comfort food from the Konkan

I first had Dali Toy in Delhi the winter before last, and though I loved it and decided to try it myself soon, I never quite got down to doing so. So when I was hosting the lady who introduced me to Dali Toy, I decided I couldn't put it off much longer.
Having made it, I wonder why it took me so long before attempting it!

1 cup toor dal
1/4 tsp hing
1 green chillie slit
salt to taste
For the tempering
1/4 tsp mustard
2 dry red chillies
1 sprig of curry leaves
2 tsp coconut oil

Wash the Toor dal well and pressure cook with sufficient water and green chillies till well done (20 minutes after the first whistle works for me)
Place the dal back on the fire, add salt, hing and water to get the desired consistency. Bring the dal to a boil
In another pan heat 2 tsp coconut oil and add the mustard, when they splutter add the curry leaves and broken red chillies and toss them about. Do not allow the chillies to burn. Immediately add this seasoning to the dal and cover. Turn off the flame and serve piping hot with rice.

Koliwadi curry with coconut and coriander

I discovered this recipe soon after moving to Mumbai in 2008, and fell in love with it. The original was witha Koliwadi recipe for shrimps, but since I don't have them, I substituted it with baby potatoes. It was lovely, and I have made it several times since. It is one of my favourite dishes to make when I have people over, since it is so very simple and effective. Though I am making it after a couple of years, it was every bit as good as I remembered.

3 tbsp cooking oil
1 onion, grated
½ tsp haldi powder
6 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed to split open
1 tsp chilli powder
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp ginger- garlic paste
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 small coconut, grated
salt to taste

Boil the baby potatoes, peel, prick and keep aside.
Saute onions for 2-3 minutes until softened but not coloured, then add the turmeric, cardamom pods and chilli powder. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, stirring constantly.
Add cinnamon, tomatoes and garlic-ginger paste, and saute for another 1-2 minutes until the tomatoes have softened
Meanwhile, reserve a few coriander sprigs for garnish and blend the remainder with the grated coconut.

Stir the ground gravy into the sauteed onions, mix well, add water and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the potatoes. Continue to simmer for a minute, stirring constantly.
Garnish with the reserved coriander sprigs and serve with rice or chapattis.

Chicken penne in Béchamel sauce

I made white sauce very often, but haven't yet tried out the classic Béchamel sauce. To celebrate a month of mother and son lunches, I decided to make it today.

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 small onion chopped
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
pinch of nutmeg

Boiled and shredded chicken- about 50 gms
200 gms pasta

Cook pasta according to instructions on the packet and keep aside
In a small, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat
Blend 2 tablespoons of flour into the melted butter, and add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Cook over low heat, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes- this is done to reduce the "flour" taste
Slowly add 1 cup of milk, 1 small onion, 3 cloves, 1 bay leaf and a pinch of nutmeg, stirring constantly, and continue cooking slowly until smooth and thickened.
Add shredded chicken and pasta, and let it simmer for a minute.
Serve hot.

Chaman Kaliya

The moment I set eyes on Anshie Dhar's Chaman Kaliya, I knew I had to make it. The mix of flavours looked interesting, and I have had a good experience with all her other dishes. So when we had guests over, tonight, I didn't hesitate before deciding to make this for them.
To say it was a hit is a bit of an understatement, and I felt almost resentful of the fact that a dish that got cooked in such a jiffy walked away with so much of the praise. But that's life, isn't it?

400 gms Paneer (home made)
2 cups milk
2 cloves
3 Green cardamoms
1 tsp Cumin
1 Tbs Ghee
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 1/2 tsp fennel powder (saunf)
A pinch of saffron
1/8th tsp ginger powder
salt to taste
1/2 tsp Kashmiri Garam Masala ( Or use your favorite brand)


If you have freshly made Paneer cut it into squares or rectangles.
If you have store bought paneer, Soak it in hot milk for at least 30 minutes before cooking the dish. (this milk is in addition to the one cup you need to make the dish)
Heat ghee and add the cumin, cloves and the cardamom. It helps if you slightly whack the cardamom with a pestle or a heavy spoon.
Add in the milk, bring it to a boil add in the rest of the spices, except saffron and garam masala.
Simmer this for about 2- 3 minutes , then add the paneer and bring to a rolling boil. Add in the salt.
Bring to a simmer again and let it cook undisturbed for 10 - 15 minutes or until the paneer looks creamy, yellow and soft.
Finish off with Garam masala and saffron and let it stand for 30 minutes before serving. Reheat gently and serve with rice.

Apr 29, 2014

Creamy egg curry

Cloves, cinnamon and cardamon. Kenzy's creamy egg curry had me at 'Hello'. Only, instead of making it with eggs, I decided to experiment with soya nuggets instead. I adjusted the chilli down from 3 to 1, but even that proved too spicy for the kids- I underestimated the power it would unleash when ground- next time, I tone it down even more.

1 big onion
1 inch ginger
1 small green chili (or a part of a larger one)
½ liter milk
1-2 tblspns oil
Salt to taste
3/4 cup soya nuggets soaked in warm water for about 10 minutes

¼ tspn Bengali garam masala (equal parts ground cinnamon, cloves and cardamom)
A couple of sprigs coriander to garnish (optional)

Grind the onion, ginger and chilies to a fine paste, without adding water.
Heat oil. Add the ground paste n sauté well till the paste changes to a darker color n the onions are cooked.
Take off from fire. After 2-3 minutes, gradually add warm milk and stir to blend the milk well with the fried onion/ginger//chilies paste.
Put the vessel back on slow fire n allow it to heat up. Stir continuously.
Let the gravy boil on low heat till you achieve the desired thick consistency for the gravy- I let it thicken to slightly less than cream consistency.
Add soya nuggets which had been soaked in warm water (for about 10 minutes).
Allow the curry to simmer for a couple of minutes.
Add salt, Bengali garam masala and simmer for half a minute.
Garnish with coriander leaves n serve with steamed rice.

Apr 26, 2014

Saunf-ajwain wali Chicken

Kashmiri cuisine uses a unique combination of mustard oil, saunf and ajwain, which I found slightly intriguing. How can three very strong flavours coexist in the same dish? It could either be a complete disaster, or mindblowingly good- and since people have been cooking it for ages, it is more likely to be the latter!
And hence, this dish that I cooked purely by instinct. I tasted a bit of the gravy, and it was indeed good.

1 curry cut chicken, washed and cleaned
1/3 cups curds
1/2 tsp red chill powder
1/2 tsp haldi powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp mustard oil
2 medium onions, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp ajwain, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp saunf, lightly crushed

Marinate chicken in haldi, red chilli powder, salt and curds for about 1 hour
Heat the mustard oil, sauté the chopped onions till they start to turn transparent.
Add ginger paste and lightly crushed saunf and ajwain, and sauté till the onions start browning.
Grind the mixture to paste. Add to the marinated chicken and mix well (do not add water at this stage)
Bring to a boil, reduce the flame, cover and allow it to cook in its own steam for 30-35 minutes (stirring occasionally) till the chicken is well cooked.
Serve hot with steamed rice.

Apr 24, 2014

Chicken Biryani (from WikiHow)

Hubby loves chicken biryani, but we just don't get good biryani anywhere here. This is yet another of my attempts- considerably more successful than the earlier ones, but still not good enough. I will nail it someday.

1 kilogram curry cut chicken 

For marinade-
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp dhania powder
Salt to taste

8 cloves
1 Cinnamon stick
6 green Cardamoms
2 Bay leaves
1/2 tsp shahi jeera (caraway seeds)
1 tsp dhania powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp Gram Masala Powder
5-6 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 green chilli
3 chopped tomatoes
1 inch piece of ginger root, grated
2 measures basmati rice
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup curds

3 medium onions
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 cup of milk
A few strands of Saffron (kesar)
Desi ghee (clarified butter)
Salt to taste

Method:Marinate the chicken and keep aside for an hour
Soak the rice for about 30 minutes
Cut the onion into long strips and fry them till they are well browned- the oil should not be too hot, nor too cold
Heat the ghee in a pan, add half the quantity of whole spices and saute for a couple of minutes. Add ginger garlic paste, and the chicken, and cook till the excess water evaporates. Add tomatoes, mint, green chillis, the powdered spices and salt, and cook till the chicken is almost done
Add the remaining whole spices and salt to the rice, and boil till 3/4th done. Take much more water than needed and drain the rest off.
Heat the milk and add the saffron strands to it

In a heavy bottomed pan with a lid, spread the bottom with melted ghee.
Put a layer of rice,
Then a layer of chicken
Followed by a layer of fried onions
 Repeat and finish off with the rice layer. Lastly, sprinkle the leftover fried onions (if any). Pour the saffron milk on top. Also pour some desi ghee down the sides of the pan and some on top of the rice. It will trickle down with the heat.
Seal the lid by sticking it with some chapati dough or simply fix a big foil before placing the lid. The idea is to restrict the steam from escaping. Place this pot on a very slow flame. Ideally place this vessel on top of another flat pan or tawa, so that the bottom of the pan doesn't come in direct contact with the heat source. Cook for about an hour.
Yummy biryani ready.

Apr 17, 2014

Soft and chewy Spiced Cookies

The kids wanted cookies, and I had run out of butter. All the recipes I found online were for chocolate chip cookies, but of course, I didn't have chocolate chips either. So I adapted one of them to make spiced cookies, and they were really quite amazing. Soft and chewy, just the way cookies should be.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nonsweetened cocoa powder**
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp ginger powder

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.
Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, ginger powder and cinnamon powder and set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix sugar, oil, egg and honey. Add in flour mixture to oil mixture a little at a time until well incorporated.

Divide the dough into 16 parts, and roll each into a ball. Place on a greased baking sheet and flatten slightly with your fingers.
Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 8-10 minutes or until done. Enjoy!

Rava Upma

Considering how easy it is to make, and the fact that I almost always have rava in the house, I am surprised I haven't yet made and photographed one of my favourite dishes, Rava Upma. Rectifying that now.

One measure sooji/ rava
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 green chilli, cut in half (you can cut it fine, but I prefer not to because this way you can fish it out easily)
1 tsp chana dal
1/2 tsp urad dal
1/2 inch ginger chopped fine
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
a few cashewnuts
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste
2 measures water

Roast the sooji till the rawness goes (but not till it gets browned), and keep aside
Heat oil, temper with mustard seeds. Once it stops spluttering add channa dal, urad dal and cashewnuts, and saute for 30 seconds. Add the onions, and saute till onions turn transparent. Add ginger, curry leaves and green chilli,and saute for a minute.
Add water, and salt and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the flame, and add sooji, by gently easing it in with constant stirring. Mix well, and let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Serve hot with sugar.

Fusilli in tomato- basil mince sauce

"Can we have pasta for lunch", asked my Older One. I had been planning to make tengai sevai, but when someone really wants to eat something, it is hard to say no to them. I rustled up this dish using the ingredients I had in the house, and it was polished off in no time at all.

1 1/2 cup pasta
2 fat, juicy tomatoes, chopped
4-6 pods garlic, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp tomato puree
Red chilll powder
Salt and sugar to taste
2 tbsp fresh basil OR 1 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup soya granules
2 tsp olive oil
Cheese and cherry tomatoes for garnish

Heat the oil, and fry the garlic till lightly browned.
Add the tomatoes, and fry till mushy.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packet, drain and keep aside
Soak the soya granules in hot water for a minute, drain and keep aside
Add soya granules, tomato puree, chilli powder, salt and dried basil (if using) to the tomato paste, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Take off the fire. Check the taste and add a bit of sugar, if required
Add the cooked pasta, and torn basil leaves (if using) and mix well.
Garnish with cherry tomatoes and cheese** before serving.

** The cheese is not required, but my family does not consider pasta complete unless there is cheese, so I added it.

Kurkure Bhindi

What do you call a woman who buys half a kilo of bhindi the day before the family is leaving on a short vacation? Before you start calling me names, I'll tell you. You call her by my given name!
But the good thing about knowing there was 500 gms of bhindi in the fridge is that I we ate home cooked food on the last day, and not pizzas!
This recipe is taken from here, and worked out just the way I wanted it to.
200 gms Okra/Bhindi
½ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp amchur powder
¼ tsp chaat masala
¼ tsp garam masala powder
3 tbsp besan/gram flour
salt or black salt
oil for frying the bhindis
Rinse the okra or bhindi in water for 3-4 times. Wipe them dry with a kitchen napkin. Slice the bhindi vertically into 4 pieces. If you have small sized bhindi, then slice into 2 pieces. Take all your sliced bhindi in a big thali or a big bowl.
Now sprinkle all the spice powders one by one on the sliced bhindi.
With a spoon or spatula, gently mix the spice powders with the bhindi.
Sprinkle the besan on the bhindi.
Again, gently mix the besan with the bhindi. The besan must evenly coat the bhindi.
Marinate the bhindi in this mixture for 25-30 minutes. You could also keep it for an hour.
In your kadai, heat up the oil. Add a batch of marinated bhindi and fry. Since I had 200 gms of bhindi, I fried 100 gms first and the next 100 gms later. So the frying was in two batches. Fry the bhindis till golden brown and crisp on a medium flame. Take care and keep on turning the okra so that they get fried evenly. If the oil becomes too hot, you could lower the flame and fry.
keep the fried bhindis on a crumpled kitchen tissue so that the extra oil gets drained.
Serve them directly as they are (the way I did) or if you want you could garnish bhindi with coriander leaves, julienned ginger or sliced green chilis. 
Few points for the fried bhindi recipe:
The oil should be hot, otherwise the bhindi/okra will absorb oil and become soggy and not even look good on the plate. In case, the oil  gets over before frying the second batch, add some more oil.
You can alter the spice powders as per your taste.
I have shallow fried the bhindis. I won’t suggest deep frying as later your kadai or pan will have all the besan, spices and the bhindi seeds leftovers. It looks a mess.
Take as much oil as is needed for the bhindi (okra) so that all the oil gets used up. Thus, you don’t have a messy oil to strain or throw later.

Apr 16, 2014

Flavoured rice dish

It is far too hot to cook, but not only does the family still need to be fed, the family seems to be getting more and more demanding by the day. Uttara Ghosh's flavoured rice was originally prepared using prawns, but when she told me that chicken could be used too, I just had to try it out. And it got devoured even before I could take a decent picture.

1 measure rice, soaked for 30 minutes
500 gms boneless chicken cut into thin slices
4 eggs
2 medium potatoes
2 onions
4-6 pods garlic, minced
1 green chilli
2 tbsp cooking oil
Salt to taste

Boil the eggs, and semi boil the potatoes.
Cut 1/2 onion into long thin slices and mince the rest
Heat the oil, and fry the chicken slices with the minced onions, green chilli and garlic, till the raw smell goes. Keep aside
In the same dish, fry the soaked rice.
Add the chicken, double the quantity of water and salt to taste. Bring to boil, reduce the flame, cover, and let it cook.
Meanwhile, fry the eggs and quartered potatoes till slightly browned.
Fry the onion slices till browned.
When the rice is nearly done, stir well, add the eggs and potatoes, cover and let it cook till done.
Garnish with browned onions before serving.

Apr 15, 2014

Borani Banjan

Some recipes you see and know you want to try out. Anshie Dhar's Borani Banjan was one of them. Eggplant, tomatoes and garlicy-yogurt; any wonder I was salivating just looking at the photograph.
Since my family doesn't particularly like eggplant, I halved the quantities, but I am certain I would have been able to eat it all even if I had stuck to the original recipe!

For Borani
2 medium eggplants
2 tsp oil for cooking ( more for brushing the eggplants if you are baking them)
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp turmeric
Oil for frying ( you can also bake the eggplants)
1 tsp chopped garlic
½ tsp dried mint
Fresh mint for garnish

For the yogurt sauce
1 C yogurt
1 tsp finely grated garlic
2 tbs dried mint

Mix all the ingredients under yogurt sauce, and refrigerate

Cut the eggplants into ½ inch slices.
Sprinkle slices liberally with salt and leave them to ooze the water and then pat them dry. Brush slices with some olive oil and arrange on cookie sheets. Broil until lightly browned. About 3 minutes each side (the eggplants should remain slightly firm in the middle).
Put the 2 tsp oil in the pan and add in garlic, saute and then add tomatoes. Cook until they become mushy then add in the turmeric, coriander and chilli powder. Stir to combine and cook until the spices are well mixed in. Remove from the pan and keep aside.
Now arrange half of the eggplants (in the same pan ) to cover the surface of the pan.
Arrange the cooked tomatoes on top. Repeat with another layer of eggplant and the remaining tomatoes.
Add 1/4 cup water between the eggplant slices and cover with a tight lid.
Cook on low medium heat for about 20 minutes and check for doneness. You are looking for a soft texture but not a mush.
Put a layer of yogurt sauce on the serving dish. Top with the eggplant stacks, lifting each stack carefully. Top with the remainder of the yogurt.
Sprinkle the dried mint on top. Garnish with fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately, with naan.

Apr 14, 2014

Manga pachadi

Manga pachadi is traditionally made in all Tam Bram households on New Year's Day. Raw mango, jaggery, chilli, salt and some neem leaves- to ensure that there is a little bit of everything during the new year. Though we had a virtually unlimited supply of neem leaves in our Calcutta apartment, my mother suddenly decided to do away with the neem leaves- she thought sweet, sour, salty and hot was enough for her, she could do without the bitter. Since I believe in balance, I wanted to add neem leaves, but since I couldn't get hold of them, had to make do with methi seeds instead.
So here's to a wonderful New Year!

1 raw mango sliced
1/3 cup jaggery
A pinch of salt

For temperingOil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp methi seeds (optional- I added in lieu of neem flowers***)
2 red chillies broken
A pinch of hing

Wash and peel the mangoes, and cut into thin medium size pieces. Cook the mangos with enough water to just cover them.
When the mangos start turning mushy, add the jaggery and salt, and cook on medium flame till the jaggery is well blended.
Heat the oil, and temper with mustard seeds, red chilli, methi leaves and hing. Pour over the pachadi, and cook for a few minutes more.
Serve hot, or cold.

*** If you are using neem flowers, fry about 1 1/2 tsp neem flowers in 1 tsp ghee, and pour over  the pachadi.


While I love rasgullas, my family likes rasmalai more, so when the rasgullas came out fine, I decided to convert them into rasmalai.

1/2 litre milk
Few drops kewra essence
Food colouring
Rasgulla made using 1 litre milk
Sugar syrup reserved from the rasgulla

In a thick bottomed pan, heat the milk with the reserved sugar syrup, till it thickens.
Drop the rasgullas in the thickened milk, squeeze to let the syrup ooze out, and cook on a low flame for 3-4 minutes.
Serve chilled


Rasgullas were always sweets bought from the sweetmeat shop and consumed at home. I never even thought they could be made at home, till I saw a bunch of posts on IFF, and decided to give it a try. The trick, they all seemed to say was in kneading till the wrists hurt, and that's not too difficult for me to do, is it?

While it was on my To Attempt list, I wasn't really planning to make rasgullas today. My mother always stuck to tried and tested recipes on New Years because she didn't want to take a risk with the year turning out disastrous. But I reasoned it out the other way- I would like this to be the year when I take risks. Some pay off, some not, but unless you take risks, how will you ever know. And the results were much better than expected!

Milk - 1 litre
Vinegar- 3 tbsp (I made it in two lots, and used some of the whey to start the process off the second time round)
Water - 3 1/2 cups
Icecubes - 4 to 5
Sugar - 1 1/2 cup (I used slightly less)

Heat milk, and once it comes to a boil add the vinegar to the boiling milk and stir properly. Stir continuosly till the whey water clears and the milk curdles completely. Now switch off the stove, add ice cubes and allow it to melt completely.
Pour the curdled milk into a muslin cloth. Wash it well with running water to remove the vinegar. Squeeze the excess water and hang it aside for 30 mins without disturbing it.  
After 30 mins, the paneer would be crumbly in texture. Knead it well for 10mins. Once everything comes together to a smooth pilable dough, form them into smooth mini balls and keep aside. I made 24 mini balls.
Heat water in a wide bottomed vessel, then add sugar, cardamom and keep stirring till sugar dissolves completely. Ensure that the vessel is large enough to give the balls enough place to dance around. When the sugar syrup boils and starts bubbling, add the balls slowly one by one and simmer it for 3 mins. Keep in medium flame, cover, and let it cook for 10 minutes, opening the lid every 3-4 mins to ensure the syrup doesn't ooze out. After 10 mins, the balls would have roughly doubled in size. 
Take it off the fire. Cool and serve. Or make into rasmalais

Apr 11, 2014

Vendekai mor kozumbu

Vendekai mor kozumbu is one of my favourite Tam Bram dishes, and I like it to be just the way my grandmother and mother made it. Unfortunately, when I asked my mother for the recipe, she could not give me detailed quantities, so while making it, I had to wing it. It came out just the way I wanted it to, so not complaining at all.

200 gms ladyfinger/ bhindi
Gingerly oil

2 tbsp rice
2 tbsp chana dal
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 tsp dhania
1 tsp jeera
1 green chilli (or to taste)

2 cups sour buttermilk
Salt to taste

For tempering
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp methi seeds
1 red chillli
1 sprig curry leaves
Gingerly oil

Soak the rice and chana dal for about 30 minutes
Grind to paste soaked rice and dal, coconut, green chillli, dhania and jeera
Mix the ground masala with the buttermilk, add salt to taste
Meanwhile, cut the ladyfinger into halfs, and sauté till cooked. Remove and keep aside.
In the same pan, add some more oil, if required, and temper mustard seeds. Once it stops spluttering, add the methi seeds, red chilli and curry leaves and fry on low heat till the raw smell goes (do not over fry, or the methi seeds will turn black). Add the ladyfingers and remove from the flame.
Add the buttermilk with ground masala, mix well, return to the flame and gradually bring to a boil.
Serve hot with rice

Apr 10, 2014

Peanut butter

For as long as I can remember, I have loved peanut butter. The fact that Dennis the Menace ate nothing else might have something to do with it, but somehow, I think it was just the taste and the texture that I connected with! My kids love peanut butter too, and though my pantry is always stocked with it, I wondered if I could try my hand at making some myself.
After speaking to a number of people, and browsing through half a dozen recipes on the internet, I hit the jackpot. This recipe is not only easy, it is full of tricks and tips for the first timer. Apart from removing the skin (which I always hate), it was easier than expected, and I might just shift to home-made peanut butter from now on.

2 cups raw, shelled peanuts
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more as per taste
1-2 tablespoons peanut oil or other oil (optional, I used 1 tbsp, but am halving the quantity next time)

Optional Add-Ins: 
1-2 tablespoons honey or other sweetener
1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or other spice
handful of chocolate chips
a few spoonfuls of nutella
Method: Heat the oven to 175 degrees and toast the peanuts on a baking sheet until lightly golden and glossy with oil, about 10 minutes- roasting gives the peanut butter a deeper flavor and also helps make the oils looser and easier to blend into a smooth butter. Remove the skins
Transfer the peanuts to a blender while the nuts are still warm. Pulse a few times just until chopped. → For chunky peanut butter, remove 1/2 cup of chopped nuts and set aside.
Run the blender continuously for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. At this point, the peanut butter will look gritty and dry. 
Run the blender continuously for another minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. At this point, the butter will start clumping together. It's not quite peanut butter, but it's getting there! 
Run the blender continuously for another minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. At this point, the butter will be glossy and soft, like very thick peanut butter.
Add the salt, oil and any optional add-ins, and process for an additional minutes till it becomes completely smooth. 
If you have reserved some nuts for clunky peanut butter, add them at this stage, and pulse a few times to incorporate.
Scrape the peanut butter into a jar, and store in a cool, dry place.

Thotakura Ava Pulusu- Amaranthus Stew from Andhra Pradesh

My love affair with Amaranthus started rather serendipitously. I've been seeing these greens in the market for years, but never thought to buy it. Then a couple of months back, I met a friend buying it at the vegetable vendor, and got the recipe from her. I made it, liked it, and mentally filed it with the other recipes that I could make "occasionally". Soon after, I asked my mother for my grandmother's keerai mashiyal recipe, and surprise, surprise, it had the same leaves too! When I bought a big bunch and used half to make alloo-saag Assamese style, I knew I had to experiment with a new cuisine with the other half. This Andhra dish is completely different from the other three, and I am quite in love with Amaranthus.
Guess the experiment also proves that if you go with an open mind, there are gems to be discovered in every part of India.

2 1/2 cups finely chopped Amaranthus leaves
1 big onion finely chopped
4 green chillis slit length wise
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
small lemon sized tamarind (soak in a cup of warm water and extract)
1-2 tsps jaggery or sugar
1 tsp rice flour
3/4 tsp mustard seeds + 1 red chili, ground to a coarse pwd
salt to taste

For tempering:
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp methi seeds
1 tsp split black gram dal (optional)
1-2 dry red chillis (tear into pieces)
5 garlic flakes crushed or large pinch asafoetida
10-12 curry leaves

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel, add mustard seeds, let them pop, add the cumin seeds, methi seeds and let them turn slightly red. Add split gram dal and let it turn red. Add garlic, red chillis, curry leaves, chopped onions and green chillis and sauté till onions turn slightly pink (approx 3-4 mts).
Add the chopped leaves and stir fry for 4 mts. Add the turmeric pwd and salt and mix. Cover with lid and cook till the greens cook (approx 7-8 mts).
Add the tamarind extract and jaggery and mix well. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and cook for another 9-10 mts or till the rawness of tamarind disappears. Sprinkle the rice flour and mix and you will find that the gravy thickens. Cook for a minute, add mustard pwd and mix. Turn off heat.
Tastes best with dosas.

Apr 9, 2014

Fusilli in Fresh Green Sauce

The older one and I are both pasta freaks, and in order to ensure we don't get tired of the same old stuff, I keep experimenting with the sauces. This was a "secret" recipe for a green sauce that I pulled off the net. And given the ease of preparation and the quality of ingredients, it sure packed a mean punch!

  • 200 gms pasta
    1 bunch spinach leaves 
    200 gms peas, shelled
    1/2 small bunch basil leaves
    2 tbsp green pesto
    100 ml cream
    2- 3 tbsp cheese, and a little more for garnish

Cook the pasta following pack instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water, and return to the pan.
Meanwhile, place the spinach and peas in a bowl, and cover with boiling water. Leave for about 3 mins until the peas are tender, then drain well. Tip the veg into a blender, add the basil, pesto, cream and cheese, and whizz to make a smooth sauce.
Pour the sauce over the pasta, and cook on a low heat for a few minutes till the sauce clings to the spaghetti, adding a little of the reserved pasta water if it appears too dry.
Garnish with cheese, basil leaves and baby tomatoes.

Apr 8, 2014

Panagam- Ram Navami special

Despite the ease of preparation, my mother made Panagam only on Ram Navami, and I used to really look forward to the festival, so I could have it. Luckily, when she did make it, she made it in bulk, so I could really tank up on it.
This is my first attempt at it.

2 cups Water
1/2 cup Powdered Jaggery,grated
A pinch Cardamom powder
1/2 tsp Dry ginger powder
1 tbsp Lemon juice
A pinch Salt

Method: Keep all the ingredients ready. Add in the grated jaggery in a vessel containing water and let it dissolve.Now add in the dry ginger powder,cardamom powder,salt to jaggery water.
Add lemon juice. Finally filter it and serve chilled.

Neer Mor

Few coolers are more effective than Neer Mor. You can make it as easy or as complicated as you like, but whichever way you make it, it can be whipped up in a jiffy.
1/2 cup Curd
few Curry Leaves
A pinch Hing
1 tbsp Chopped coriander (I used mint instead)
1 tbsp Chopped ginger
2 Green chillies(optional)
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Water
To Temper:
1 tsp Oil til oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds

Mix the water with curd and prepare butter milk with thin consistency
To this add salt, hing, Green chillies,chopped ginger,curry leaves and coriander leaves.
Stir well.
Heat oil in the pan and temper the mustard seeds. Finally add the tempering into the neer moor and mix well.

Ram Navami Delicacies

Ram Navami falls in the hottest part of the year, and we Tamilians found a perfect way to commemorate the day without having to spend hours slaving over the kitchen fire. Neer Moor and Panagam were deemed the official naivaidyam to be served to Lord Rama. Can there be a better way to beat the heat than with these coolers?
I do think it must have been a lady who thought of it, don't you?

Apr 7, 2014

Amaranthus- Aloo with Mustard and Posto

As a child, I have eaten more than my fair share of Amaranthus. Both my grandmothers made Keerai Mashiyal a few times a week, and that's what I had whenever we visited them during the summer vacations. Once I got married and moved out, the leaf too moved out of my life. A change encounter with the green when I was with a friend got me to try it out, and I rather liked the chauli-baigan subji she gave me the recipe of.
Which is why, when I saw the recipe for Morisa Xaakor Tharir /Daatha’r Sorsori, an Assamese dish, I knew I wanted to try it out. The only problem is that the bunch I picked up didn't have enough stems, so I decided to substitute it with the leaves itself. And it tasted divine with steamed rice.
If this is any indication, I think I am going to love Assamese cuisine.

1 bunch amaranthus/ chauli leaves 1 tbsp Mustard Paste (made by grinding pre-soaked mustard seeds with green chilli, garlic and ginger)
1 tbsp khus khus soaked for about 15 minutes
4-5 baby potatoes
2 tbsp Mustard Oil
Turmeric - 1 tsp
3 Green Chillies 
Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 tbsp
Paste of 1 Onion

Heat mustard oil in a pan and then fry the potatoes for about 4 minutes. Add the Amaranth and fry for an additional 3 minutes. Keep aside
In the same oil fry the onion paste and ginger-garlic paste with turmeric and once the raw flavor is gone add the mustard paste and poppy seeds paste. Fry for 2-3 minutes
Add the potatoes and greens, turmeric, chillies, water and salt
Allow the gravy to boil and once it reaches the boiling temperature, simmer and cook till the potatoes are cooked.
Serve hot with steamed rice. Tastes even better the next day.


After three weeks of virtually living in the office. Two weekends, where we got to meet him for less than a couple of hours. The day after my older one commented that he'd not even seen his father since Wednesday. After all that, the deal the hubby was working on, finally came through. And it was time for celebrations.

An eggless chocolate-orange cake, with Nutella icing, and a bunting festooned between two ice cream sticks. Happy times!

Apr 6, 2014

Brown rice in creamy spinach sauce

I loved the Spinach Rissoto that Roma Patil posted, and wondered if I could replicate it with brown-rice, and without the white wine. With garlic and spinach, I knew I couldn't go too wrong, and I was right. It was quite delicious.

Cooking oil as needed.
1 cup brown rice, washed
7-8 cloves Garlic sliced fine.
1 medium onion chopped fine

1 bunch fresh tender Spinach, cleaned and washed.
2-3 tbsp cream.
2 tabsp Cheese.
1 tsp chilli powder

10 almonds soaked for an hour and sliced
1 tsp chilli flakes
Salt to taste.
(Water as needed)

Cook the brown rice in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes, wash with cold water, drain and keep aside.

Slice a few leaves of spinach into long thin slivers, deep fry till crisp drain and keep aside.
Puree the rest of the spinach with a little water. Add 1 cup water and salt to taste to the spinach purée and bring to a boil.

Saute the garlic and onions till translucent. Add the drained brown rice, and mix well.
Add a ladle full of Spinach purée water. After it is absorbed, add the next ladle. Repeat till the stock is over, and let it cook till the rice is almost done.

Add Cream and sliced almonds and cover for a few minutes.
Add cheese, stir again, and tip into a serving bowl.
Garnish with fried Spinach leaves.
Prepare mixture of Olive Oil and chilli flakes and dribble on the Rice, and serve immediately.

Rose Soya Delight

Sometimes, you look at a recipe and decide you need to try it right away. This recipe by Ros Ruby was one of them, and since all the ingredients were available at home, there was no reason not to make it right away. Frankly, I had no idea what to expect, but when the flavours exploded in my mouth, for a moment, I was in heaven. Definitely a keeper.

Soya Chunks -100gms (I used granules)
Carrot grated-40gms
Yellow Split Lentils-10gms

Cardamom-7 Pods (Powdered)
Cashew nuts-20gms
Rose Essence-1 Tsp (I used rosewater, because it was available at home)
Salt-1/2 a pinch
Vegetable Oil-4Tbsps

Powder the Soya Chunks. Set aside. (even if you are using granules, like I did, powder it well)
Melt the jaggery in 200-225 ml of water. Set aside.
In a thick bottomed vessel, fry the yellow split lentils in oil, drain and set aside.
Into the same oil, add the powdered soya chunks and sauté until lightly fried.
Into this add the melted jaggery followed by the grated carrot.
Keep mixing. Add the salt.
Soya tends to absorb water, so add a little more water, if necessary.
To this add broken cashew nuts and raisins.Keep mixing at intervals until the mixture become soft and cooked.
Add the powered cardamom and turn off the heat source.
Sprinkle the rose essence and garnish with a few split cashew nuts.
Transfer the mixture into a greased container.

Apr 5, 2014

Imli ka panna

Aam panna is one of my favourite drinks, so when I saw a recipe for Imli ka Panna, I knew I had to try it at once. Specially since RK is one person who's recipes I trust implicitly. It was such a refreshing cooler on a hot summer day, that I know I am going to make it more often- maybe I should just make the masala in bulk, to make it easier!
Note to self- reduce ajwain and cardamon next time.
4 tbsp Tamarind Pulp
1 tsp Roasted Cumin Powder
1 1/2 tsp Black Salt (kala namak)
1/3 tsp Green Cardamom Powder
1/3 tsp Black Pepper Powder
1/2 tsp Carom Seeds Powder (ajwain)
6 tbsp Sugar
Salt to taste
5-6 Fresh Mint Leaves (crushed)

Take the tamarind pulp in a big bowl and add five
cups of water to it and stir well to mix.
In a mixer, grind together black salt, pepper powder, green cardamom powder,roasted cumin powder, roasted carom seed powder, mint leaves, sugar and salt into a fine powder.
Mix this grounded spices to the tamarind water and stir well. Refrigerate for some time.(you can seive the water at this point if required)
Take glasses and pour out the panna...Garnish it with mint leaves and a slice of lemon...... add some ice cubes n serve chilled.....

Apr 4, 2014

Depression Cake

After the success of my skinny lemon cakes, I've been looking for other eggless cake recipes that do not require butter either. The Depression Cake (so named because it was invented during the Depression when ingredients were in short supply) seemed to fit the bill, and I lost no time in trying it out.
Unfortunately, the cake seemed to have taken its name too seriously, and every single cupcake sported a depression in the middle. I filled it up with chocolate sauce to make it presentable, but one would still like to know whether to attempt the recipe again or not.

What I did do wrong was to go by my nose and turn off the over when 7 minutes of baking time were left (toothpick test was successful). A few minutes later, I realised I might have made a mistake and popped it back in for 7 minutes, but by then the damage was probably done. That might be the reason for the crater.

1 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose)
3 tbsp cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp  salt

1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup water


Preheat oven to 175 degrees.
Mix first 5 dry ingredients.
Make 3 depressions in dry ingredients - two small, one larger. Pour vinegar in one depression, vanilla in the other and the vegetable oil in third larger depression.  Pour water over all.  Mix well until smooth.
Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners, put the batter in them (this amount made 12 cupcakes), and bake for 25 minutes

Fusilli in Mushroom Sauce, with sauteed broccoli

It is a pleasure cooking for my Older One, because he genuinely enjoys his food, and can be counted on to do full justice to a meal he likes. Since it is now just the two of us for lunch, I decided to make pasta in mushroom sauce today. The only problem was that the recipe I had bookmarked didn't seem as good when I finally started gathering the ingredients, so I decided to adapt my mushroom soup recipe to come up with my own. And it was really yummy!

Pasta in Mushroom Sauce
200 gms fusilli pasta

1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup milk

1 tbsp butter
3 fat cloves garlic chopped fine
1 small onion chopped fine
3/4 cups mushrooms- mostly chopped fine, but with a few large slices
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp cornflour mixed in 1/4 cup milk
1 sprig fresh basil

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, drain and keep aside.

Combine 1 cup mushrooms and 1 cup milk and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
Cool and blend in a mixer to a coarse paste. Keep aside.

Heat the oil, saute garlic and onions till onions turn transparent. Add chopped mushrooms, and saute till browned.
Add the ground paste and cook for a minute.
Add the cornflour-milk mixture, fresh basil, salt and pepper and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the pasta, and serve with sauteed broccoli.

For sauteed broccoli:
Heat butter in a pan, add 1 fat garlic clove finely sliced, and fry till the aroma of garlic fills the room.
Add broccoli florets and saute till lightly browned.
Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Apr 3, 2014

Penne in creamy tomato sauce

I want pasta for lunch, my son informed me. Fair enough, since what he was asking for wasn't too difficult to make.The only problem was that I didn't want to have the regular white sauce, and he doesn't particularly like the red one.  I compromised with this mixed "creamy tomato" sauce, and rather liked it. But who wouldn't  like something which has fresh basil in it?

1 diced onion
3 (fat) cloves garlic, minced
2 fat tomatoes, chopped fine
1 sprig fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 packet baby corn
2 tbsp butter
3 cups milk
3 tbsp cornflour
200 gms pasta


Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, wash, drain and keep aside.
Slice the baby corns, saute them in 1/2 tbsp butter and keep aside
Saute onions, garlic and tomatoes in the remaining butter till it turns mushy. Push it with a spoon to mash coarsely. Towards the end, add torn up basil leaves (keeping one or two aside for garnish). Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep aside
Bring the milk to a boil. Take some of the milk, make a paste with the cornflour, add to the milk, and cook on a low flame for 2 minutes and take off the fire (if you like it running, adjust proportions accordingly- this makes a thickish sauce).
Add the cooked tomato sauce to the white sauce, mix well, and add torn up basil leaves.

Mix the pasta and baby corns, and pour the sauce over it.
Bon appetite!

Apr 1, 2014

Butter cookies- and back to school!!!

For the last seven days, I have been inquiring every day for icing sugar, because I have this lovely recipe for thumbprint cookies that I want to try out. But it is out of stock, and continues to remain out of stock. Finally, my craving for cookies got the better of me, and I decided to whip up a batch of butter cookies, using my mother's tried and tested recipe.
Unfortunately, however, I got over ambitious and tried to make thumbprint cookies out of them. The cookies that looked so professional when they went into the oven, lost their shape completely during the process of baking, and I ended up with cookies that were more than just slightly oddly shaped. But they tasted great, and that's all I really care about.

100 gms sugar
100 gms butter
50 gms rice flour

100 gms maida
a pinch of salt
red colouring and rasberry essence (optional)

Preheat the oven at 175 degrees for about 10 minutes
Cream together sugar and butter
Add rice flour and beat well
Add maida, salt, essence and colouring and knead to a soft dough (without adding any water)
Roll it into balls, place on a baking tray taking care to leave space for them to spread, and bake for 12-15 minutes till golden brown on top.
Remove from oven, and cool before digging in!