8 December 2014

Microwave Aloo

Technology can be both a boon and a bane. Yep, I know, this phrase is so oft repeated that it might have lost its sheen now!! But my only belief is that as long as we use technology to help run our life and not take over it, we should be pretty OK in this day and age :)
For example, a quick potato curry in the microwave is a God-saver when you are racing against the clock.


Ingredients :

Boiled, peeled and cubed potato - 2 medium (or halved baby potatoes - 1 1/2 cups)
Boiled, peeled and cubed sweet potato - 1 cup (optional)
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder (Haldi) - 1/2 tsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Curry powder - 1 tsp (or any masala of your choice, for eg, Garam masala)
Chopped coriander

Tempering :
Olive oil - 2 tbsps
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 2 tsps

Method :

1. Add the cubed potatoes in a micro-proof bowl. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder, chili powder and curry powder. Mix well with a light hand so that all pieces are evenly coated.

2. Tempering is one thing I have yet to muster courage to do in the micro itself !! So I still prefer the traditional way. Heat the olive oil in a tempering ladle or small pan. Add the jeera and let crackle. Now add mustard seeds, and once they crackle too, pour the tempering over the potato cubes.
Mix well.

3. Cook on high in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Remove, stir once and cook on high for 3 minutes more. Remove and sprinkle the chopped coriander.
Serve hot as desired.

7 December 2014

Crispy Bitter Gourd

Crisp fried Bitter gourd is quite a popular accompaniment and cuts away from the normal curry preparations using this Oh-so-healthy vegetable!! But then what's life without a little indulgence??


Ingredients :

Bitter gourd (Karela) - 3, medium (de-seeded)
Bengal gram flour (Besan) - 2 tbsps
Salt to taste
Red Chili powder - 1 tsp
Asafoetida powder (Hing) - 1/4 tsp
Coriander (dhaniya) powder - 1 tbsp
Oil for frying

Method :

1. Slice the bitter gourd into thin round slices. Soak in a mix of tamarind juice and salt for about 10 minutes. This will mitigate its bitterness.

2. Rinse the karela slices in clean water and add to a bowl.

3. Now add the gram flour, salt, chili powder, hing and dhaniya powder. Mix gently and let rest for about 10 minutes.

4. Heat oil in a shallow pan on medium heat. Drop in the karela slices carefully a little at a time. Deep fry till golden brown. Else you can also toss the slices in a little oil and microwave till crisp, which would be a much healthier option.
Serve as desired.

Corn Idli Upma

Another variation in the leftover idli saga...this time with the twist of corn ...

                                                                 CORN IDLI UPMA

Ingredients :

Boiled corn - 1 cup
Leftover idlis - 4 to 5 (Cubed)
Chopped coriander - a few
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder (Haldi) - 1/4 tsp
Green chili - 1 (slit)
Chopped ginger - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds (Rai) - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1 tsp
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp

Method :

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add jeera and let crackle. Now add the mustard seeds and let crackle as well.

2. Add in the grated ginger, saute, followed by the green chili and curry leaves. Saute for a minute.

3. Now add the boiled corn, salt to taste and haldi. Toss well, cover and let cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Now add in the idli cubes and mix well. Let cook for a few minutes so the idlis soak in the flavour as well.

5. Remove from flame and add the lemon juice and chopped dhaniya. Mix well. Serve hot.

Leftover Roti Pizza


Ingredients :

Leftover rotis - 5-6
Tomato puree - 1/2 cup
Paneer cubes - 1/2 cup
Boiled sweet corn - 1/4 cup
Chopped Bell peppers (green, red and yellow) - 1/2 cup
Chopped and blanched spinach - 1 cup
Chopped onion - 1/4 cup
Grated cheese or cheese slices
Red chili powder - 1 tsp
Garlic powder - 1/2 tsp
Dried herbs
Salt to taste

Method :

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add the capsicum and saute lightly. Add chili powder and salt.

2. Add the tomato puree and garlic powder. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes. It is absolutely up to your taste to add spices of your choice here, ranging from garam masala, dhaniya powder to even Curry powder! Remove from the flame as we do not need to over cook the sauce.
(We are cooking the vegetables here, such as capsicum, spinach because unlike a pizza base, we won't be cooking a roti for long, so the vegetables might be left uncooked and a bit uneasy to digest. Onions can however be used raw as they add the crunch factor.)

3. Take a roti, spread 1 tbsp of sauce over it, arrange the paneer cubes, blanched spinach, onion, corn and finally cover with a little cheese. Remember not to over-load the cheese as the roti will be thin and will sag.

4. Heat a tawa on medium heat. Place the roti carefully over it, reduce flame, cover with a lid and let the cheese melt. Take care not to let the roti become too crisp.
Serve the 'Roti-Pizza' as desired.

Pudina Pepper Paratha


Ingredients :

Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Black Pepper Powder - 2 tsps
Salt to taste
Chopped Green chilies - 2 to 3 tsps
Clarified butter (Ghee) - 2 tbsps
Chopped Mint leaves - 1/2 cup
Chopped Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup

Method :

1. In a clean bowl, mix together, flour, pepper powder, salt along with green chilies, mint and coriander. Add ghee and knead into a soft dough using enough water. Rest for 5-7 minutes.

2. Divide into equal sized portions. Roll out into rotis. Heat a tawa on medium heat. Cook the rotis using ghee/oil on both sides until golden brown and slightly crispy.
Serve as desired with curd and pickle.

5 December 2014


Adai is a typical preparation in most households, especially on the occasion of Karthigai, the famous festival of lights celebrated in the Tamil Karthik month.
It's a wholesome pancake combining rice and lentils. It's best served with jaggery which balances out the heaviness of the lentils and eases digestion.


Raw rice - 1 cup 
Boiled rice - 1 cup
Whole black gram (with skin) - 1/4 cup 
Split Pigeon peas (Toor dal) - 1/4 cup 
Dry Red Chilies - 2 
Hing - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste


1. Wash and soak both the rice together for about 2 hours. You can also use 2 cups of raw rice itself instead of boiled rice. 

2. In a mixer blend together the soaked rice and red chilies. Grind coarsely.

3. Rinse the lentils and immediately add to the mixer along with salt and hing. Pulse it just once as we do not want the dals to be too mashed.

4. Transfer to a bowl and check for salt. Add fresh curry leaves and give it a stir. Check batter consistency, add little water if too thick; we need it to be like dosa batter.

5. Heat a flat tawa on medium heat. Pour a ladle of batter and spread evenly. Make 3-4 small holes around the centre and pour a little oil around the adai and in the holes as well. Let cook on both sides till crispy.
Serve hot as desired.

3 December 2014

Broccoli-Palak Paratha

Here's a healthier version of the ever-popular Gobhi Paratha, using the coloured sibling - Broccoli; and to add further greenery, we use spinach.


Ingredients :

Grated Broccoli - 1 cup (You can use cauliflower if Broccoli isnt available)
Blanched and pureed spinach - 1 cup
Whole wheat flour - 2 1/2 cups
Salt to taste
Chopped Ginger - 1 tbsp
Chopped Garlic - 1 tbsp
Chopped Green Chilies - 2 to 3
Oil for cooking

Method : 

1. In a mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients minus the oil and knead into a soft dough using water as required.
[Note : It is usually preferred to lightly blanch the broccoli or cauliflower in boiling water for 5-7 minutes along with a little haldi which will remove the impurities/bacteria from them.]

2. Dab a little oil on the dough and keep aside for 5 minutes.

3. Make small portions of the dough and roll out into puris. Fold both edges in like a book, then fold again to make a small square. Press lightly and roll out again into a 1cm thick paratha.

4. Heat a tawa on medium heat and cook the paratha on both sides using oil (preferably olive) till golden brown.
Serve hot as desired.

27 November 2014

Protein Poha

A nutritious Breakfast/Snack has become the norm, where more and more innovative recipes are springing up using the best possible ingredients in the best possible way for healthy yet tasty preparations. 
Make your breakfast colourful with this Protein packed dish.
Ingredients :
Soaked and cooked White chickpeas - 1 cup
Roasted peanuts - 1 tbsp
Brown Flattened Rice (Thick brown poha) - 1 cup (soaked for an hour at least)
Green chili - 1 (chopped)
Dry Red Chili - 1
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - a few
Chopped coriander leaves - a few
Chopped Garlic - 2 tsps
Mustard seeds (rai) - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 chopped
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Method :

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadhai. Add mustard seeds and let crackle. Add curry leaves, green chili, red chili and saute for a bit.

2. Add the chopped garlic and onion and saute again for about 3-4 minutes.

3. Add turmeric powder, salt and mix. Now add the poha and stir well. Let cook for about 5 minutes on low heat. You can also add rolled oats if you wish at this point, they cook fast and add to the nutritious value of this dish.

4. Add the white chick peas and stir well. Add the peanut and finally lemon juice. Give it one quick stir and remove from the flame.

5. Serve hot garnished with dhaniya leaves.


A refreshing drink that's also an excellent appetiser and is a great accompaniment for most Indian chaat (snack) dishes. 


Ingredients : (For approx 2 glasses of Jaljeera)

Chopped coriander - 50 gms
Green Chilies - 3
Mint leaves - 5 to 6
Lemon juice - 4 tsps
Black Salt - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Chaat masala - 1 tsp
Black Pepper powder to taste
Jeera powder - 1/2 tsp
Roasted and crushed Cumin seeds (Jeera) - as required

Method : 

1. Grind together coriander leaves, mint leaves, green chilies and 2 tsps lemon juice to a fine paste.

2. Transfer to a bowl and add salt, black salt, chaat masala, pepper powder, remaining lemon juice and jeera powder. Mix well.

3. Dilute with as much water as required to make 2 glasses, taking care not to add too much. Stir well, add ice cubes and serve, sprinkled with the crushed jeera.

26 November 2014

Homemade Pizza

Getting the Pizza right, at home, is a challenge I am sure most of us love. My mother loves pizzas with wheat flour base and a thin crust at that. Thought would bite the bullet and try it out this weekend!! 
Above all, I followed the Tawa style of cooking, so no oven used here, unless you want to !!
Ingredients : (Makes six x 6 inch pizzas)
Whole wheat flour - 2 cups (or add 1 cup maida + 1 cup atta)
Instant Dry yeast - 2 tsps (Use curd if you do not wish to use yeast)
Sugar - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Curd - 1 tbsp

Tomato sauce :
Olive oil - 2 tbsps
Tomato puree - 1 1/2 cups
Salt to taste
Chili flakes - 1 tsp
Garlic powder - 1 tsp
Dried herbs such as oregano
(You can also use any dry masala of your choice, eg, Garam masala, Tawa Fry, etc to give it an Indian touch!!)

Pizza Topping :
Chopped Capsicum - 1 cup
Sliced Onions - 1 cup
Paneer cubes - 1/2 cup
Grated Mozzarella cheese + any other extra cheese - as required
(One can add any topping of choice apart from these)

Method :

1. Soak yeast in a bowl along with luke warm water, sugar and 1 tsp salt. Stir and leave aside for 10 minutes till it becomes frothy.

2. Meanwhile sift together the flour and salt in a clean bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture.
[Note : If you do not wish to use yeast, you can use 1 tsp Baking Pwd, 1 tsp Baking Soda and required curd to knead the dough]

3. Add 1 tbsp curd and knead into a soft but firm dough using sufficient water. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm corner for about 1 1/2 hours or till it doubles in size.

4. Take the dough on a floured counter and punch it lightly. Roll into a cylinder and divide into 6 equal portions. Roll the portions out into pizza bases of desired thickness. Prick all over gently with a fork.

5. Heat a tawa on medium heat. Place the pizza base on the tawa, cover with a lid and cook on 1 side only for about 4-5 minutes. Remove and keep aside. Repeat with other bases as well.

6. For the sauce - heat olive oil in a pan and add the tomato puree. Let simmer on low to medium flame for about 4-5 minutes. We do not want to over-cook the sauce as it will be cooked once more with the pizza.
Add garlic powder, chili flakes, salt to taste and any other dry spice/masala you want to add. Finally add the dried herbs, stir for 1 minute and remove.
[I also tend to blanch the vegetables (except tomato and onion) a little, i.e, about 1/2 cooked so that they are easier to digest, especially for elders and children.]

7. Spread about 1 tbsp sauce on the cooked side of the pizza. Arrange the rest of the toppings leaving 1 cm space from the edges. Finally sprinkle grated cheese, you can be really generous here as a pizza without enough cheese isnt much fun :)

8. Place the prepared pizza base back on the tawa so that the uncooked side is directly on the pan now. Cover - cook on low heat for about 7-8 minutes or till cheese starts bubbling and becomes golden brown. At this point you can use the oven (normal or micro) as well. I used a combination of both so the pizzas got done faster!!

9. Remove the finished pizzas on to the serving plate, cut and serve :)

25 November 2014

Tandoori Style Pasta

Penne is by far my most favourite variety of pasta. As long as I have a few packets of Penne in my larder, I am happy to innovate and improvise with Indo-Italian recipes !!

This one uses Indian masalas and I call it...........


Ingredients :

Boiled Penne - 1 cup
Paneer Cubes - 200 gms
Zucchini or Bottle Gourd - 1/2 cup (sliced & blanched)
Capsicum - 1 (Diced)
Grated cheese - 1 cup
Tandoor masala - 2 tsps (*- see recipe below)
Tomato puree - 1 cup
Chili flakes - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Crushed black pepper - to taste
Olive oil - 2 tbsps

Method : 

1. Heat olive oil in a wide pan. Add the tomato puree, chili flakes and cook for 5 minutes.

2. Add the blanched zucchini or bottle gourd slices and toss lightly. Add the capsicum and let cook for 5-7 minutes. We do not want the vegetables to become too soft.

3. Add the Tandoor masala, salt and black pepper. Mix and let cook for about 2 minutes.

4. Finally add the paneer cubes and cover-cook for 3-4 minutes. Toss in the boiled penne and mix gently. Switch off the flame and cover for 5 more minutes.
Sprinkle grated cheese and serve hot with warm bread.

[* Tandoor masala - (Recipe courtesy : Indian Food Forever)
1 tsp Cloves Powder 
1/2 tsp grated Nutmeg (Jaiphal) 
1 tsp Mace Powder (Javitri) 
11/2 tblsp Cumin (Jeera) Powder 
2 tblsp ground Coriander (Dhania) 
1 tsp Fenugreek (Methi) Powder 
1 tsp ground Cinnamon (Tuj/Dalchini) 
1 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper (Kalimirchi) 
1 tsp ground brown Cardamom (Elaichi) Seeds 
Grind all these ingredients and store in an airtight jar ]

24 November 2014

Beetroot Patra

Using the leftover mixture from the Beetroot Vada recipe, we used it as a Patra base. Needless to say, it turned out excellent...


Ingredients :

Beetroot vada mixture - see recipe link above
Colocasia (Arbi) leaves - 4 to 5
Oil - for shallow frying

Method :

1. Wash and pat dry the arbi leaves. Place it face down on the counter and carefully trim away the thick back vein.

2. Spread the vada mixture evenly over one leaf and place another leaf on top. Repeat the process with as many leaves as you want to layer with, but bear in mind that too many leaves will make the rolling part difficult; so best to limit it to max 4 leaves.

3. Roll the leaves a bit tightly and hold in place. Place on the steamer plate and steam cook for about 10 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.

4. Cut the roll into 1/2 inch thick rolls. Heat enough oil for shallow frying in a pan and fry the patra slices till golden brown on both sides. Alternately, if you are health conscious you can also brush the rolls with oil and fry in the microwave oven.

5. Drain excess oil and serve as desired.

Beetroot Vada

This interesting Vada recipe is another from the Sanjeev Kapoor repository..


Ingredients :

Beetroot - 1 (grated)
Garlic cloves - 4 to 5
Onion - 2 medium (chopped)
Dry Red Chilies - 2
Bengal gram (Chana dal) - 1 cup (soaked)
Aniseed (Saunf) - 1 tsp
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Curry leaves - 10 to 12
Rice flour - 2 tbsps
Salt to taste

Method :

1. Grind together the soaked gram dal, red chilies, aniseed, garlic, curry leaves and salt.

2. Transfer to a bowl, add the grated beetroot and chopped onions. Mix well.

3. Heat oil on medium heat for frying. Take small rounds of the vada batter and flatten them lightly.

4. Deep fry till golden brown. Take care here re the colour as the natural deep hue of the beetroot might be misleading.

5. Drain excess oil and serve with chutney or ketchup.

23 November 2014

Eggless Chocolate Cake

I have been toying with the idea of using Flax Seed meal as an egg substitute for baking cakes for quite some time now. Thus far, I have used condensed milk, curd and mashed banana to get the texture right.  But after reading through other blogs and articles I decided to try the Flax Seeds route. So picked up a traditional Chocolate Cake recipe (courtesy : BBC Food recipes) that used eggs and set out on my first tryst with the wonder seed.
(Note : The basic formula is 1 tbsp Flax seed meal dissolved in 3 tbsps water to substitute 1 egg. For Flax seed meal, simply dry grind whole flax seeds)


Ingredients :

Chocolate Sponge:
All Purpose Flour - 115 gms
Baking powder - 1/4 tsp
Flax Seed meal - 3 tbsps (in place of 3 eggs)
Castor sugar - 170 gms
Softened Butter - 170 gms
Cocoa powder - 50 gms
Vanilla essence (optional) - a few drops
Salt - a pinch

Icing :
Chopped Dark chocolate - 1 cup
Cream - 1/4 cup

Sugar Syrup :
Sugar - 3 tbsps
Water - 1/4 cup

Method : 

1. Soak the Flax seed meal in 9 tbsps water and keep aside for 5 minutes.

2. Sieve together the all purpose flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl.

3. In another bowl cream the butter and sugar till the latter is well dissolved. Pour in the flax seed mix , vanilla essence and whisk well.

4. Gradually add the flour mix gradually into the butter mixture. Cut and fold leaving no lumps.

5. Pour into a greased cake mould and bake in a pre-heated microwave oven for 9 minutes at 170 deg C. (I use a combination microwave, so a safe technique I use to preheat it is to place a micro-proof bowl with some water and run the micro for 30 seconds)

6. Meanwhile prepare the sugar syrup by dissolving the sugar in the 1/4 cup water. Prepare the icing as well by melting the chocolate pieces in the micro or on a double boiler, cooling it slightly and stirring in the cream.

7. Remove and cool the cake. Pour the sugar syrup as required to keep the cake moist and cut the bitterness. Use icing as desired and serve.

21 November 2014

Pepper Pulao

A recipe in a ..erm, recipe book appeals to the senses even more when we see it actually being prepared on TV or in a video. This yummy and 'hot' Pulao with the spiciness of Pepper and Red Chili is from one among the thousands from the Sanjeev Kapoor repository !!
It was so inspiring we just had to try it that very weekend. Served with crisps and raita, it was simply AWESOME !!!


Ingredients :

Cooked rice - 2 cups
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 2 tsps
Dry Red Chili - 1
Whole Pepper corns - 10 to 12
Onion (chopped) - 1
Bengal gram (Chana dal) - 1 tsp
Split Black gram (Urad dal) - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds (Rai) - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Curry leaves - a few
Roasted peanuts for garnishing

Method : 

1. Heat a pan and dry roast the red chili, pepper and jeera. Cool and grind to a coarse powder.

2. Heat ghee in a larger pan, add chana dal, urad dal, rai and peanuts. Saute lightly.

3. Add the chopped onion, curry leaves and fry till the onion sweats a bit or becomes golden brown.

4. Add salt to taste and cooked rice and mix well. Remove from the fire. Finally add the ground spices, a little at a time, and mix the rice gently.
Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot as desired.

20 November 2014

Orange Skin Stew

Oranges are amazing therapeutic fruits and irresistibly tempting too. Remember the times when while travelling in buses and trains, or waiting at a bus stop, or even in a classroom, someone nearby would peel an orange and that would make all heads turn?? Well..that's the aromatic power of an orange!! 
I could go on about the benefits of the fruit in its pulp and juice forms, but I would like to share a recipe of a stew made using Orange skin. This stew is quite a regular feature at home whenever oranges are aplenty. 

Having one of those days when you have a sour taste in the mouth or don't feel like eating much? Try this stew and watch how your palate miraculously improves!! It goes especially well with dosas and curd rice. 

Ingredients :

Ripe Orange skin - 1/2 cup
Green chilies - 2 (medium)
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder (Haldi) - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - lemon size piece
Roasted fenugreek (methi) powder - 1/2 tsp (The methi seeds should only be lightly roasted)
Jaggery - pea-size piece (optional)

Tempering :
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds (Rai) - 1 tsp

Method :

1. Gently scrape the excess fibre off the orange skin and chop them roughly into small pieces.

2. Extract tamarind juice up to 1 1/2 cups. Keep aside.

3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan and add rai. Let crackle. Add slit green chilies and saute for a bit.

4. Add the chopped orange skin, turmeric powder, hing and saute for 2-3 minutes.

5. Pour the tamarind extract over this along with salt. Let simmer over medium flame till the orange bits are softer (approx about 10-12 minutes).

6. Add a pea-size piece of jaggery and stir till it dissolves. This is an optional step, but the jaggery not only enhances the flavour of the orange but also mellows the spice of the chilies.
If the consistency is too runny, dissolve 1 tsp rice flour in 2 tbsps water and add to the stew. Let simmer for about 5 minutes more.

7. Once the stew thickens, add the roasted fenugreek powder and stir once. Remove from fire and serve as desired.
Note : It is important not to over-roast the methi seeds as it can spoil the taste of the stew.

Sambhar (Type I)

Sambhar, the ultimate accompaniment for Dosas and Idlis. Sambhar, a lentil preparation that's prepared in so many forms across South India. Some use tamarind, some use only tomatoes, Udupi style, made with ground spices or just ready-made Sambhar powder, the list is almost endless and delicious.

Following are 2 variations that we usually make at home, one by grinding fresh spices and the other slightly simpler as it uses Sambhar powder.

TYPE I (Using Ground spices)
[Type II using Sambhar powder can be found here]

Ingredients :
Oil - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds (Sabut Dhaniya) - 2 tsps
Dry Red Chilies - 3
Asafoetida powder (Hing) - 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek (Methi) seeds - 1/4 tsp
Grated coconut - 2 tbsps
Tomato - 1 small
Split Bengal gram (Chana dal) - 1 1/2 tsps
Split Pigeon peas (Arahar dal) - 1/2 cup
Boiled/Blanched vegetables of your choice - typically drumsticks, capsicum, white radish or Knol Khol(Kohl Rabi). If using capsicum, you can directly cook it in tamarind water, no need to pre-cook.
Tamarind - lemon size portion
Salt to taste

Tempering :
Mustard seeds (Rai) - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek (Methi)seeds - 1/2 tsp
Sesame (Til) Oil - 1 tsp
Asafoetida powder (Hing) - pinch
Curry leaves - as required

Method :
1. Pressure cook arahar dal with a little turmeric powder. Extract tamarind juice using water as required, we need about 1 1/2 cups.

2. Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a small pan and roast coriander seeds, dry red chilies, fenugreek seeds and chana dal till golden brown. Take care not to over-roast.

3. Now add hing and coconut bits. Stir once and remove. Let cool. Grind in a mixer along with 1 small tomato. Keep aside.

4. Use a thick-bottomed saucepan and add the tamarind extract to it. Add salt to taste, curry leaves and if using capsicum, add it as well. Let simmer on low flame till raw aroma leaves the tamarind extract. (roughly 7-10 minutes). If using other cooked vegetables(minus capsicum) add them at this point.

5. Add the ground spices paste and stir. Check salt. Now add the cooked pigeon peas/Arahar dal and stir well so it becomes a homogeneous mixture.
Note : If consistency is slightly runny, dissolve 1 tsp rice flour in 2 tsps water and add to the sambhar. Let simmer for 5-6 minutes more and switch off the gas flame.

6. For tempering, heat 1 tsp oil and add mustard seeds, let crackle. Add methi seeds and give it a very quick stir taking care not to let the methi become too brown else it will spoil the overall taste. Add hing and curry leaves. Remove and pour over the sambhar.

Transfer Sambhar to the serving bowl and garnish with dhaniya leaves. Serve as desired.

Sambhar (Type II)

Picking up from the earlier recipe for Sambhar using fresh ground spices, the second method is using ready made Sambhar powder. Since we are using a dry powder this variation needs little extra portion of lentils (Arahar dal) to add to the texture, consistency and quantity, but cooking time is reduced.


TYPE II (Using Sambhar powder)
[Type I using ground spices can be found here ]

Ingredients :

Tamarind - lemon size
Boiled/Blanched vegetables of your choice - typically drumsticks, capsicum, white radish or Knol Khol(Kohl Rabi). If using capsicum, you can directly cook it in tamarind water, no need to pre-cook.
Salt to taste
Sambhar Powder - 2 tsps
Split pigeon peas (Arahar dal) - 3/4 cup (Pressure cooked)
Curry leaves for garnishing

Tempering :
Mustard seeds (Rai) - 1 tsp
Hing - 1.4 tsp
Fenugreek (Methi) seeds - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp

Method :

1. Extract about 1 1/2 cups of tamarind juice. Add it to a thick-bottomed sauce pan.

2. Add salt to taste, curry leaves and sambhar powder at this stage itself. If using capsicum, add it in as well. Let simmer on low flame till raw aroma leaves the tamarind juice. (roughly 7-10 minutes). If using other cooked vegetables(minus capsicum) add them at this point.

3. Add the cooked arahar dal and stir till the dal is well mixed with the tamarind extract. Let simmer for 10 more minutes and remove from the fire.

4. Prepare tempering by heating 1 tsp oil, add mustard seeds and let crackle. Now add hing and finally methi seeds taking care not to let the seeds become too brown. Pour over the sambhar and transfer to a serving bowl.
Garnish with chopped fresh dhaniya and serve.

19 November 2014

Crisp Dosas

Crisp dosas aren't exactly rocket science !! All it takes is the correct ratio of ingredients and right amount of resting time..


(Makes roughly 15 standard-size dosas)
Ingredients :

Raw rice - 2 cups
Whole, white urad dal - 1/4 cup
Flattened Rice - 1/2 cup
Methi (Fenugreek) seeds - 1/4 tsp
Sabudana (Sago) - 1/4 cup
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup (optional)
Salt to taste

Usually we tend to use the leftover idli batter for dosas as well, after adding a little water for a thinner consistency. However, if you wish to have real soft yet crispy dosas, then making a little extra effort to use the above ingredients and the following method will pay off wonderfully!!!

Method : 

1. Wash and soak rice and urad dal. Soak along with methi seeds for 1 hour.

2. Wash the flattened rice very lightly, just enough to remove impurities and in another bowl, soak along with sabudana for 1 hour. 

3. Grind this to a fine batter using the water used for soaking. A mixer works well for this batter. 

4. Transfer to a bowl or vessel, add salt to taste and mix well. Leave aside for 6 to 8 hours to ferment. 

5. Prepare dosas as desired.

17 November 2014

Jhatpat Chaat

On a busy day, if you are wondering what to put together for a quick and healthy chaat this could help!!! Crispy brown bread instead of Papdi and fruits make for a healthy and wholesome snack..


Ingredients :

Boiled potato - 2 (medium), diced
White chickpeas - 1 cup (Soaked overnight and drained)
Fresh Pomegranate seeds - as required
Chopped apple - as required
Brown bread slices - 4 to 5
Boiled sweet corn - 1 cup
Onion - 1 (finely chopped)
Green chutney - as required
Tomato ketchup - as required
Sev or other Farsaan (optional)
Jeera powder
Chaat Masala
Chopped Coriander (optional)

Method :

1. Cut the bread slices into squares and roast without using oil till crisp on a tawa, or in a microwave.

2. In a bowl, mix together the diced potato, chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, diced apples, boiled corn and brown bread squares.

3. Add the green chutney and ketchup and mix lightly. Sprinkle Jeera powder and chaat masala. Mix lightly again.

4. Just before serving, garnish with the Sev/farsaan, chopped onion and chopped dhaniya. Serve.

10 November 2014

No Bake Chocolate Fudge Cake

On a quiet Sunday afternoon when the onset of Monday weighs down a corner of your mind, nothing like a comfort food to lighten things up!! I set out to make a simple tea-cake while my mother suggested a no-bake fudge she had seen on TV. I had never tried a chocolate fudge at home before and was more than willing to give it a try. And now..we can't stop at one!!


Ingredients : 

Butter - 200 gms
Dark Chocolate - 200 gms
Instant Coffee Powder - 2 tbsps
Brown Sugar - 100 gms
Crushed Digestive Biscuits - 200 gms (coarsely powdered)
Roasted nuts (Almonds, walnuts and raisins) - 1/2 cup (Ground coarsely)

Method : 

1. Heat a thick-bottomed pan and melt butter. When semi-melted, add the dark chocolate and stir till both melt and blend in well.

2. Add the brown sugar and continue to stir till sugar melts. Add the instant coffee powder while stirring the mixture simultaneously. 

3. Now add the crushed and coarsely powdered digestive biscuits and stir again. Finally add the roasted and ground dry fruits and give it a final stir for 1 minute.

4. Remove from the gas top and pour into an aluminium cake tin. Tap gently on a flat surface and sprinkle some more dry fruits on top (optional).

5. Let cool and set for about 2-3 hours. Cut and serve as desired.

7 November 2014

Brown Bread Pudding

Finding a breakfast recipe that is quick to assemble, prepare and of course, healthy is almost an everyday challenge for most of us. A safe and popular bet is to go the Continental way with cereals, bread, eggs and fruits, though Indian food lovers would argue otherwise - but hey! Another debate for another day :)

This morning I was inspired by a pudding recipe shown on TV once, using bread, milk and fruits. Modified it a bit with what I had available and was really pleased with the delicious result - and it was wiped clean off the plates in 5 minutes :)


Ingredients : (Serves 3)

Brown bread slices - 4 (Trim the sides if the baking dish is narrow, but do not discard)
Ripe bananas - 3
Milk - 1/2 cup
Condensed milk - 1/4 cup
Muesli / Cereals - 1/4 cup
Raisins - a few
Sliced almonds - a few
Honey - 2 tbsps

Method : 

1. In a mixer blend the bananas, milk and condensed milk, leaving no lumps.

2. In a bowl, mix the honey, some of the raisins and almond slices along with the cereals of choice.

2. In a baking dish, arrange 2 of the trimmed bread slices and pour a ladle-ful of the milk mix coating the slices evenly. It is optional to arrange fruits over this if you desire. (The more the merrier :) ) Arrange the trimmed bread edges along the sides as well.

3. Place the remaining 2 slices and again cover with the rest of the milk sauce. Top off with the honey-cereals mixture and sprinkle some more cereals over the top if you like the crust to be crunchy.

4. Bake in a microwave oven @ 170-180 deg C for 8-10 minutes.
Remove, cool for about 3-4 minutes, cut and serve as desired.

3 November 2014

Brown Bread Rasmalai

What's life without a sweet touch. Desserts are an integral part of our diet, well..whether or not we are on a diet!! Even if we are, we tend to find shortcuts and supplements to convince our calorie meters !!!
I have always wanted to try out Bengali sweets at home, but yet to break bread with one...However, when I chanced upon this simple to make Rasmalai recipe on TV, albeit with a twist, I knew this was my near breakthrough. Though the recipe calls for plain white bread, I tried it with brown bread just to see how different it would turn out (and because that's what I had at home!!). Must say that the results were quite pleasing and I am not that easily pleased :)
Original recipe courtesy : http://www.zeekhanakhazana.com/recipes/bread-rasmalai.html

                                                         BROWN BREAD RASMALAI

Ingredients :

Brown bread slices - 7 to 8
Almond powder - 1/2 cup
Milk - 3 to 4 tbsps + 1 1/2 cups
Condensed Milk - 2 1/2 tbsps
Saffron strands - a few
Almond flakes - for garnishing

Method :

1. Trim the edges of the bread slices and blend to a powder in a mixer.

2. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the almond powder and 3 to 4 tbsps milk. Mix gently. Take small portions of this mix in hand and make medium sized rasmalais. Keep aside.

3. Heat a pan and add 1 1/2 cups milk along with the saffron strands. Simmer on low to medium heat. After about 7-8 minutes, stir in the condensed milk and keep stirring till slightly thicker. Remove and let cool.

4. Just before serving, arrange the bread rasmalais on a serving plate or bowl and gently pour the milk syrup on top. Decorate with almond flakes and serve. (Best served chilled).

23 October 2014

Motichoor Laddoo with Ice Cream

Motichoor laddoo is one Indian sweet that I never ever tire of. I haven't tried them in sweet shops all over Delhi, but among those that I have, the one at Bansal's in Pitampura wins hands down.
Needless to say, sweet boxes pile up at home during the festive season and there is only so much that we can gorge...but there are always ways to pair them up in interesting and innovating ways...
Here's one such idea.

                             FUSION MITHAI - MOTICHOOR LADDOO with ICE CREAM

Ingredients : 

Motichoor laddoo - 1 per cup being served
Ice cream - vanilla ice cream goes best with any Indian mithai, but here I used a combination of Vanilla, Chocolate and Butter-scotch

Method : 

1. Place the motichoor laddoos on a microwave safe dish and micro for just 30 seconds.
2. Add a scoop each of the ice creams to the serving bowl.
3. Gently place the laddoo on top of the ice cream scoops and crush lightly.
4. Garnish with desired dry fruits and serve.
Note : The trick is to keep the laddoos bearably hot in contrast with the coldness of the ice cream !!

20 October 2014

Healthy Masala Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs, toast and baked beans, if available...a comfort breakfast for me if ever there was one. Especially when there is a nip in the air. Ever ready to experiment, make or (ulp!) break a dish, I decided to try a more colourful version of Scrambled eggs, and if I might say, healthy too!! Read on.......


Ingredients :

Egg white - (of)3 eggs
Milk - 1/4 cup
Finely chopped capsicum - 2 tbsps
Chopped Spinach - 2 tbsps (optional)
Crushed black pepper - to taste
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Green Chutney - 2 tsps (A simple paste of Coriander leaves, mint leaves, green chili and salt)
Salt to taste
Olive oil - 1 tbsp

Method :

1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, green chutney, turmeric powder, pepper and salt to taste till fluffy. Optional to add 1 tsp coriander powder if you want it spicy.

2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan on medium heat.

3. Add milk to the egg mixture and give it a stir. Pour this on to the pan and sprinkle the capsicum and spinach. Quickly stir to scramble up the mixture before it becomes an omelette!!!

4. Reduce heat and cover-cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove lid and check if the scramble is quite dry. Do no over-cook. Stir once more and remove before it becomes too de-hydrated.

5. Serve warm with toast or as desired. 

15 October 2014

Paneer Capsicum Manchurian

A simple, yet tasty manchurian dish...

                                                PANEER CAPSICUM MANCHURIAN

Ingredients :

For Manchurian balls :
Paneer - 200 gms
Finely chopped capsicum - 1/4 cup
Salt and pepper to taste
Cornstarch (Weikfield cornflour) - 2 tsps
Dry Maida for dusting

For Manchurian Sauce :
Oil - 1 tbsp
Chopped Garlic - 2 tsps
Soya Sauce - 1 tbsp
Finely chopped green chilies - 2
Cornflour - 1 tbsp
Water or vegetable stock - 1 cup + 1 cup
Salt to taste

Method :

1. In a bowl mash the paneer and add the capsicum, salt and pepper to taste and the corn starch. Mix well.
2. Take small portions and roll in the dry maida.
3. Shallow fry in enough oil till golden brown on all sides. Drain oil and keep aside.
4. For the sauce, heat oil in a pan and drop in the garlic. Saute but leave them a little crunchy.
5. Add the green chilies and stir fry for 2 minutes on medium flame. Meanwhile dissolve the 1 tbsp cornstarch in 1 cup water or veg stock.
6. Add the dissolved cornstarch, soya sauce, salt to taste and a pinch of sugar. Keep stirring to avoid lumps. When the sauce is slightly thick remove from fire and transfer to the serving bowl.
7. Just before serving, place the manchurian balls on the serving plate and pour the sauce over them. Serve hot with noodles or fried rice.

7 October 2014

Chinese Style Stuffed Dosa

Tired of the normal dosas, I decided to experiment with some different stuffing. With some cabbage and carrots in the fridge, the first thought was Chinese!! A dash of this and a sprinkle of that...not a bad idea.... What can one not do when you have the right sauces at home :)

                                            CHINESE STYLE STUFFED WHEAT DOSA

Ingredients :

For Dosa :

Wheat flour - 2 cups
Soya flour - 2 tbsps
Rice flour - 1/2 cup
Maida - 1/4 cup
Curd - 1/2 cup (whisked)
Water as required
Salt to taste

For Stuffing :

Shredded Cabbage - 1 cup
Grated Carrot - 1/2 cup
Chopped Capsicum - 1/4 cup
Grated Paneer - 1/2 cup
Schezwan Sauce - 2 tbsps
Red Chili Sauce - 1 tsp
Soya Sauce - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 2 tsps

Method : 

1. Mix together the flours and salt to taste, gradually add the whisked curds and stir well leaving no lumps. Add enough water to make a thin dosa batter. Leave aside for 5 minutes.

2. For the stuffing, heat oil in a pan. Add the cabbage and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the carrot and sauté for 2 more minutes. Do not cook too much, we need the vegetables 1/4th crunchy.

3. Now add the capsicum. Add the Schezwan sauce and Red chili sauce and mix well.

4. Tip in the paneer and mix again. Add the soya sauce and salt to taste. Be careful with salt as the sauces would have some salt in them already. Sauté for just 1 minute more and remove.

5. Heat a dosa tawa and grease with a little oil. If the dosa batter is a bit thick add little more water. Pour a ladle-ful batter on to the tawa and spread evenly. Cook with a little oil till cooked and golden brown on both sides.
Note : Always make a small tester dosa first to make sure it comes out OK. If too sticky or if it tears, add a little rice flour.

6. Place the stuffing on one end of the dosa and roll carefully. Serve hot with spicy ketchup.

5 October 2014

Sesame (Til) Rice

Sesame or Til rice is a specialty rice dish that is prepared as a naivedya or offering to Lord Balaji, especially on Saturdays and also the Tamil month of Purattasi(mid Sept to mid Oct). Simple to prepare but rich in taste....

                                                                      SESAME RICE

Ingredients :

White sesame seeds - 1/2 cup
Dry red chilies - 2
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Rice - 1 cup
Curry leaves
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Green chilies - 2
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp
Sesame oil - 2 tsps
Ghee - 1 tsp

Method :

1. Heat a pan on low heat and dry roast sesame seeds till golden brown. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Cook rice with 2 cups water. Take care not to over cook them. Once done spread out in a plate to avoid them getting sticky.

3. Heat 1/4 tsp oil in the same pan and add urad dal, red chilies and fry for 2 minutes. Cool. Grind coarsely in a mixer along with the roasted sesame seeds.

4. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan along with ghee and add mustard seeds. Once they crackle add chana dal, hing, slit green chilies and curry leaves.

5. Add this to the cooked rice plus salt to taste.  Now add 1 tbsp of the ground mixture and check for taste. If needed add more and mix gently.
Serve warm as desired.

3 October 2014

Simple Petha Dal

A simple to make and delicious dal using white pumpkin.
White Pumpkin, also known as Petha (North) or Poosani (South), has many health benefits, ranging from anti-inflammatory properties that help arthritic conditions, improving the overall immune system, anti-ageing properties and also claimed to be anti-depressant!!

Try this simple dal which tastes excellent with rice and roti alike...

                                                                    PETHA DAL

Ingredients :

White Pumpkin (Petha) - 2 cups (chopped)
Moong dal (split green gram) - 1/2 cup
Chana Dal (Bengal gram) - 1 tbsp
Haldi - 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Green Chilies - 2 (slit)
Jeera (cumin seeds)  -1 tsp
Rai (Mustard seeds) - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Dhaniya (coriander seeds) powder - 1 tbsp
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Dhaniya leaves for garnishing

Method : 

1. Cook the chopped pumpkin and washed moong and chana dals, along with haldi in a pressure cooker till done.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add jeera, followed by mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the slit green chilies.

3. Tip in the cooked pumpkin and dals and add salt to taste. Add the dhaniya powder and mix again.

4. Let cook for 5 minutes and finally add the lemon juice. Remove and transfer to serving bowl.
Garnish with dhaniya leaves.

30 September 2014

Spinach Puris

A healthy twist to the normal and bland puris. Mildly spiced and colourful, spinach adds a bunch of good to the puffed up delites...

                                                                     PALAK PURIS

Ingredients :

Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Salt - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds (Jeera) powder - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Spinach purée - 1 cup
Water if required
Oil - for the dough and for frying

Method :

1. In a clean bowl, mix together the flour, salt, jeera, oil (about 2 tbsps) and dhaniya powder. Mix once by hand.

2. Now gradually add the spinach purée and start kneading into a soft dough. Use water only if needed.

3. Meanwhile heat oil for frying on medium heat. Sprinkle some oil on the dough and let rest for just 5 minutes.

4. Divide the dough into small, equal portions. Roll out into puris and deep fry till golden brown.
Drain excess oil and serve as desired.

28 September 2014

Eggless Apple Cup-cake

Badge Apple, Cinnamon and brown sugar...the threesome combination that never fails any dish..I continue my experiments with egg-less treats !!    


Ingredients :

Apples - 2 (medium, grated)
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Brown sugar - 1/2 cup
All purpose flour - 1/2 cup
Whole wheat flour - 1/2 cup
Softened butter - 1/2 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Cinnamon powder - a pinch
Milk - 1/4 cup
Milkmaid - 1/4 cup

Method :
1. Heat a pan and add both white and brown sugar to it. Add 3/4th of the grated apples and stir till sugar melts and the mixture becomes thick. Remove and let cool slightly.

2. Sift together the flours along with baking powder and salt into a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together butter and the apple sauce. Add the milkmaid and whisk again. Add only half the portion of the milk, we can add more later to adjust consistency. Stir well.
If no milkmaid is available increase the quantity of milk and the sugar.

4. Fold the flours into the whisked mix slowly, leaving no lumps. If you feel the batter is bit thick add a little milk.

5. Pour into a greased baking mould.  Bake at 180c for 10 - 12 minutes or till the knife comes out clean.

6. Let cool on a wire rack and serve as desired. 

27 September 2014

Sweet Corn-Poha Halwa

During the festive season, people take immense pleasure and pride in coming up with innovative dishes as offerings for the deities and generally spreading the cheer around them.
My mother's latest experiment in her kitchen this Navrathri.....

                                                   SWEET CORN POHA HALWA

Ingredients :

Sweet Corn - 2 cups
Grated Jaggery (Gud) - 3/4 cup
Flattened Poha (medium thick variety) - 1 cup
Fresh grated coconut - 1/4 cup
Ghee - 1 1/2 tbsps
Elachi powder - 1/4 tsp
Ghee-Roasted Badam, cashews - for garnishing

Method :

1. Wash poha once and drain. Leave aside, without adding any water for 10 minutes.

2. Boil the sweet corn till tender.

3. Heat a pan and add the jaggery to it. Sprinkle just a little water to allow it to melt. Let simmer on medium heat, stir occasionally.
The melted jaggery consistency should be such that if you put a drop of it in water, it should not spread, and you should be able to roll it easily.

4. Once this consistency is achieved, lower the heat and add the grated coconut, stirring simultaneously. Add ghee and stir again.

5. Add the poha and mix, let cook for 2 minutes. Now add the corn and stir. Let cook on slow heat for 2-3 more minutes.

6. Finally add the elaichi powder and roasted badam + cashews. Remove from heat and let cool.
Serve warm.

25 September 2014

Crisp Okra(Bhindi)

A vegetable that is popular with young and old alike...there are many ways of preparing a bhindi subzi (curry), from the simple one using just salt, turmeric powder and chili powder to the more elaborate stuffed versions.
Here is a semi-fried variation...

                                                                  CRISP BHINDI

Ingredients :

Bhindi - 250 gms
Besan - 2 tbsp
Corn starch - 1 tbsp
Dhaniya pwd - 1 tbsp
Chili Pwd - 2 tsp
Garam masala - 1.5 tsps
Salt to taste
Oil - for shallow frying

Method :

1. Wash, dry and de-stem bhindi and cut them lengthwise.

2. In a bowl, add the bhindi, besan, corn starch, chili pwd, garam masala and dhaniya pwd. Mix lightly and leave for about 1/2 hour.

3. Heat oil for shallow frying. Add salt to the bhindi and mix again.

4. Shallow fry the bhindi few pieces at a time till golden brown. Drain excess oil and serve.