Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Simple'N Easy Halwa

Today being Holi ( Indian spring festival of colors), I wanted to make something sweet and colorful and this is what I came up with  in my kitchen. I liked it and would definitely make it again. This is made with Sooji or Rawa but it tastes more like the wheat Halwa.

  1. Sooji or Rawa-1 cup
  2. Ghee or Vegetable oil -3/4 cup
  3. Milk-1 cup
  4. Water-5 cups
  5. Sugar- 1 3/4 cup
  6. Cardamom powder- 1 tsp
  7. Cashew nuts - 1/4 cup (optional)
  8. Food color or saffron - 1 pinch (optional)

Cook the sooji or rawa in milk by adding 1 cup of water  till you get a porridge consistency. When it cools,  add the food color/saffron and make it into a fine paste by grinding in a mixer.
Heat  a heavy bottomed vessel, add 1tbsp of ghee/oil and fry the cashew nuts till they are brown and remove them. (optional).
Now to this vessel add the remaining water with sugar and the sooji paste.
Add 3/4 of the remaining ghee to this mix and cook it by stirring continuously. Add the remaining ghee as needed if the mix looks dry. Keep stirring till the oil/ghee separates. Remove from the fire, add the fried cashew and cardamom powder.
Consistency of this halwa is that of a kesari.

Happy Holi !

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Puttu is the traditional Kerala breakfast item. But in our house we almost always make it for dinner. This is a perennial favorite of my husband. You can either have this with just ripe bananas only, or make it into a heavy meal by taking it with kadala(black chickpeas/Bengal gram) curry and pappadam. Traditionally these used to be made in molds made out of seasoned bamboo or coconut shells, giving it the unique shape - cylindrical or hemispherical.

To serve 3


  1. 1 cup Roasted rice powder (you can get Puttu powder from south Indian shops)
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 3/4 cup grated coconut
  4. Salt 1/4 tsp or to taste

Add salt to the water and mix it with the rice powder. The mix should be not too wet, nor too dry. If you take a little of the mix and press it between your fingers it should hold its shape without being sticky. In case it is too dry, add more water little by little, mixing thoroughly. Put the powder in the mixer or a food processor and whip it for 3 seconds (not more, as otherwise the powder will turn to a dough like form), till the powder is in a bread-crumb form.
Now, mix half of the grated coconut with this powder with a fork. If you are using a puttu maker, line it with a spoon of grated coconut and fill the remaining potion with the prepared powder. If you don't have a puttu maker, you can use a steamer instead. Just line it with the remaining coconut and spread the rice powder over it and steam it for about 4 minutes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Parippu Cheera Curry (Dal Bok Choy Curry)

When I am in a mood to have something from my childhood days, CurryWorld is where I go ( Of course, I make my little twists to whatever I take from there. Veena who blogs CurryWorld is from my native place, Thrissur, and all her recipes tastes so much like my mom's. For a person like me who never learned anything in cooking from my mom, it was a godsend finding CurryWorld. As otherwise when I am in a mood for mom's cooking, it would be midnight in India and I would have had to call her up then :-)
This recipe below is originally from CurryWorld.

  1. Bok Choy or Spinach -1 1/2cup(chopped finely)
  2. Toor Dal-1/2cup
  3. Grated Coconut-1/2 of 1 coconut
  4. Shallots-2 nos
  5. Chilly Powder-1/4tsp
  6. Turmeric Powder-1/4tsp
  7. Salt -taste
  8. Mustard Seeds-1/4tsp
  9. Curry leaves- a few
  10. Dry Red Chilly-2
  11. Water-11/2cup


Cook dal in a pressure cooker along with turmeric powder ,chilly powder and 1 1/2cups of water
Chop the washed bok choy into small pieces.
Grind coconut and shallots together to make a thick paste, by adding little amounts of warm water.
After the dal is cooked add the chopped bok choy or spinach and cook for further 2 minutes.
Now add the coconut paste to the cooked dal and bok choy/spinach mixture, add salt to your taste and mix well. Bring this to boil.
You can adjust the consistency of the curry to your liking by adding enough water.
When the curry comes to a boil, remove from the fire.
Heat oil in a pan and add chopped dry chilly, mustard seeds and curry leaves to this. After the mustard splutters pour this seasoning to the curry.
This curry goes well with rice and chapathi.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dos Leche Choco-Mocha Cake

This is my spin on tres leche cake which is  a light, airy sponge cake soaked with a mixture of three milks: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream. Some say the cake comes from Nicaragua; others, Mexico. Tres and leche are spanish words and they mean three and milk respectively and dos means two. I think by now you would have guessed  some of my cake's ingredients. This is a very filling cake that tastes good had warm or cold. I liked it best when cold with a warm glass of milk. Didn't I mention that its a milk cake :-)

Chocolate cake (home made or semi-homemade; mine was from a box and I used only half of the cake mix )
Condensed milk -1 can
Milk -1/2 cup
Instant coffee-1 tbs
Chocolate chips -1/2 cup(optional)

Make  a chocolate cake, I made mine using only half a box of a standard cake mix pack. If you want to make every thing from scratch, you can follow my cake recipe ( but  just half-en  everything in it. While the cake is being baked pour 3/4th of the condensed milk into a dish, add the milk and microwave it for a minute or warm it on the stove top. When warm, add the coffee and stir till it dissolves completely. Once the cake is done while it is still hot and still in the pan, prick the cake all over and then pour the coffee mixed milks on top. Then cover the top with chocolate chips.  If you are planning to have it warm, keep it back in the oven that is still warm, but which is now switched off after making the cake. This will soften the chocolate chips. Keep it for about 3 minutes and then take it out. Pour the remaining condensed milk on top. If you are planning to have it cold cover it up well before you place it in the fridge.

Que Aproveche !! (enjoy!)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tomato Soup

This is a recipe to turn that lifeless can of tomato soup that you get from a grocery store  into a gourmet tomato soup just by adding a few more ingredients. This soup goes well with  the grilled cheese sandwich that I had posted earlier. 

Serves 3
  • 1 can of Tomato soup
  • 1/2 medium sized onion
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • Chili powder, salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, optional
1.Place the butter in the saucepan and melt over medium-low heat.
2.Add the onion and garlic.
3.Stir continuously until the onions are translucent and soft.
4.Puree the onion and garlic with vegetable broth/stock
5.Add the soup into the pan along with the pureed onion. (Instead of using  the canned tomato soup you may add peeled or whole plum tomatoes that come canned as well. Or for those who wants to use fresh ingredients, you can use fresh, chopped tomatoes)
6.Add chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.
7.Bring the soup to a boil.
8.Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 3 minutes.
9.Once the soup has simmered, check its consistency -if the soup is too thick,add more broth/stock until it's the desired consistency.
To create a creamy tomato soup, return the soup to a low heat and whisk in heavy cream.
Serve immediately or store the tomato soup in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and reheat over a medium-high flame before serving.

Source Martha Stewart Show

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kerala Mutta Curry (Egg Curry)

The greatest egg lover I have seen ever is my father-in-law, who would love to have eggs for break-fast, lunch and dinner (and in between snacking :-) ) if my MIL would allow it!
This is one curry that I made for him once and he enjoyed very much - so I dedicate this to him. This is derived from an old recipe of Mrs.K.M. Mathew (for those who doesn't know her, she was one of the doyen's of Kerala cooking). I got this recipe from one of her cook-books "Flavors of the Spice Coast", which I won in a cookery contest conducted by "Vanitha" the woman's magazine for which she was the Chief Editor.

Serves 6
Hard boiled eggs - 6 nos
Coriander powder - 1 1/2 tbsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon - 1''
Cloves - 3 nos
Cardamom - 2 nos
Onion - 1/4 cup, finely sliced
Green chillis - 2 nos, half split
Ginger - 1 tsp
Garlic - 9 cloves
Vinegar - 1/2 tsp
Thin Coconut milk - 1 1/2 cup, thin
Salt - to taste
Potatoes - 2 medium size cut into cubes
Thick coconut milk - 1/2 cup
Seasoning Ingredients:
Oil - 2 tsp
Shallots - 1 no cut fine
Curry leaves - a few
Grind all the ingredients 2 to 7 together. Heat the oil in a thick bottom pan and saute onion, green chillis, garlic and the ground ingredients. Mix the vinegar with the thin coconut milk and salt and add it to the pan. Add potatoes to this and cook till the potatoes are done, keeping the pan covered. Now add the thick coconut milk to this. Add the boiled eggs, shelled. Simmer the curry for a minute.
For seasoning, heat the oil in another pan and brown the shallots; add curry leaves to this. Add this seasoning to the curry.
This goes well with appam, puttu, kerala porotta, chapathi or even with rice.
Hope you would enjoy this as much as our family does!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Garlicky Bean Stir Fry

This is a simple, bean stir fry that can go well with any type of cuisine - Indian, Chinese or American, and requires very less time, effort and very little ingredients. This is something I make when I am pressed for time. We all love having this with rice and rasam.

Serves 2
1. Beans - 20 nos
2. Garlic cloves - 6 nos cut into small pieces
3. Butter - 1 tablespoon
4. Pepper  and salt - as per taste

Cut the beans into 1'' pieces and add enough water just enough to keep it submerged. Add the salt to the water and microwave for 6 minutes. (instead you can also steam it or cook on a stove-top till the beans are cooked but retains its crunchiness).
Heat a pan at medium heat, add the butter and add the garlic and stir it for a minute. Then add the drained beans to this and saute this till dry. Add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste(if needed). Serve hot.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

If asked what would I love on a cloudy, cold day to bring warmth to my body and mind, I would say a steaming bowl of soup and  a grilled cheese sandwich. But this grilled cheese sandwich is my daughter's favorite whether its rain or shine,with or without some soup to go with it. Here is the recipe to her favorite spicy grilled cheese sandwich.

2 slices white bread
2 tsp butter
1 slice Cheddar cheese (valveeta)
1/8tsp chilli powder(or to your taste)

Preheat skillet over medium heat. Generously butter one side of a slice of bread. Place bread butter-side-down onto skillet bottom and add cheese, on the top of the cheese  sprinkle the chilli powder . Butter the second slice of bread on one side and place butter-side-up on top of sandwich. Grill until lightly browned and flip over; continue grilling until cheese is melted.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Green Peas 'n Tomato curry

This is an easy and a quick curry that goes well with chapatti or even puttu .And looks beautiful as good as it tastes so what more could a person ask for.

  1. Jeera(Cumin) -1/4tsp
  2. Onion -2 medium
  3. Green chilli -1
  4. Turmeric powder -1/4tsp
  5. Coriander powder-1 1/2tbs
  6. Chilli powder-1tsp
  7. Garam masala powder-3/4tsp
  8. Tomatoes -4 nos cut into 4 pieces each
  9. Green peas-1 1/2 cups
  10. Water -1/2 cup
  11. Coconut milk-1cup
  12. Oil-1tsp
  13. Coriander leaves (cilantro) -1/4 cup
Take a heavy bottom vessel and add oil,when it heats up add cumin(jeera); when it splutters add onion and saute till it turns translucent. Then add green chilli,turmeric,coriander,chilli powder and garam masala and when the raw smell turns to cooked smell add tomatoes to it. After 2 minutes add green peas and saute for another 2 minutes, add water ,coconut milk and salt to your taste and cook for 5 minutes.Finally garnish with coriander leaves. Now your lovely and tasty curry is ready. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Easy Lasagna -Garfield Special!

My daughter loves anything Garfiled. Sometimes she even thinks and acts like she is Garfield herself, to mine and my Hubby's annoyance ! She loves it whenever I make my version of Italian food. And as she is a vegetarian, this is how I please her - with the Garfield special lasagna.

To serve 8
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2  cup Velveeta or Cheddar cheese
1 tsp dried parsley(optional)
2 cup soya granules ( if you want you can use ground beef instead)
1 1/2 tsp Meat Masala powder
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups spaghetti sauce (you can either buy this at store or make it yourself)
2 tablespoons water
8 lasagna noodles, uncooked
Saute onion and garlic together; when light brown, add the meat masala powder. Saute till the raw smell is no more and add the soya granules (rinsed and drained) or meat to it. Saute it till  the soya/meat is dried and well cooked. 
Mix the spaghetti sauce and water together.
Mix the mozzarella  and cheddar cheese
Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce mixture into the bottom of a 4 x 11 baking dish. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles, 1/3 rd of the soya/meat, 1/3 rd of the cheese mixture, and 3/4 cup of the sauce. Repeat layers twice.(a total of 2 layers)
Layer the rest of the noodles; pour the remaining  sauce and  sprinkle evenly the rest  of the cheese mixture. on top. Sprinkle the parsley on top. Cover with greased aluminium foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover dish and bake an additional 25 minutes, until top is browned and noodles are tender. Remove from oven and let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Making quick spaghetti sauce (homemade):

1 no pickled Jalapeno peppers (or any moderately hot chilli pepper)
2 tomatoes
1 tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves of fresh garlic)
1 tsp onion powder (or 1/2 a medium size onion chopped fine)
1 cube of tastemaker /chicken bullion granules
Grind all the above ingredients to a fine paste and heat it till it bubbles. Your sauce is ready.
Enjoy your Garfield special!!
Buon appetito!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Black Forest Cake with a Twist

Today is the Saint Valentine's day - this is the cake I made for my valentines (don't mistake me on the use of plural; these are my Hubby and my dear daughter). I dedicate this to them.

This is a cake that you can make from scratch or you can get it done semi-home made - by buying out some of the ingredients from shop rather than making all by yourself.

Totally Home Made:

Ingredients (For the Cake):

  1. All purpose flour ("Maida")  - 2 cups
  2. Powdered sugar - 1 3/4 cup
  3. Eggs - 2
  4. Cocoa powder -1/2 cup
  5. Milk - 1 cup
  6. Butter - 1/2 cup
  7. Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
  8. Salt - 1/2 tsp
  9. Baking powder - 1 1/2 tsp
  10. Baking soda - 1/2 tsp

Ingredients (For the frosting):

  1. Heavy whipping cream - 2 cups
  2. Fresh Strawberry - 18 nos. medium to big ones
  3. Sugar - 1/2 cup
  4. Confectioner's sugar - 1/2 cup
  5. Red wine (or if you prefer something stronger, you may use Rum )-  optional 1/4 cup
  6. Chocolate shavings - 1/2 cup ( you can make this by grating chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler
  7. Flavorless Gelatin - 2 tsp
  8. Chocolate chips or chocolate bar - 1/2 cup (for dipping the strawberries)
Method (Cake):
Sieve all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa powder thrice. Whip sugar and butter  for 3 minutes and add vanilla. Then add eggs one at a time; continue whipping at a medium speed for 3 more minutes. Then add the sieved  powders and milk little by little to this mix. Mix well all the ingredients. Grease and dust two 8" baking pan/trays.  (For greasing and dusting the pan you can apply some little amount of butter evenly on the insides of the pan and then dust it by sprinkling the all-purpose flour to form a thin layer. Tap the pan upside down, lightly on the back  to remove excess powder). Pour the mix into the baking tray/pan. - make sure you fill it only upto 2/3 of the pan. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degree F and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the cakes comes out clean (preferably keeping  the pans in the middle rack for even heat). Let the cake cool for about an hour (or till it reaches the room temperature fully).

Method (Frosting):
Soak the gelatin in 4 tablespoons of water for 5 minutes. Then heat/microwave this till the gelatin melts. Take 8  strawberries make a puree of it adding sugar to it.  Mix the confectioner's sugar and the heavy whipping cream and whip it well till it forms soft peaks. Add to it the cooled gelatin mix and whip for a minute more. Then add half of the strawberry puree to this and whip it again for a minute.

To the remaining strawberry puree add wine/rum and keep it aside.
Cut 4 strawberries into bite size pieces and sprinkle some sugar to it and  keep it aside.
Take the remaining 6 strawberries, wash and dry them well (don't remove the stem/leaves). Double boil the chocolate chips till they melt and dip the strawberries in it. Keep it for till the chocolate sets. ( for best results, keep the washed and dried strawberries for a day in the refrigerator; this will help the chocolates to set faster)

Method (how to put the cake together):
Prick the cakes with a toothpick and then spread the strawberry puree-wine/rum mix on it. Put a layer of the frosting over one of  the puree drenched cakes. Then sprinkle the cut strawberry pieces. Put one more layer of frosting on top of this and put the second cake on top of this. Spread the frosting all around the cakes evenly covering it on all sides. Sprinkle the chocolate shavings on the sides and decorate the top of the cake with the chocolate dipped strawberries.

This cake will taste best the next day if refrigerated overnight.

Semi-Home Made:
If you are busy to do all this from scratch you can make it semi-home made by using either a store bought chocolate cake or using a cake mix of Devil's food cake that can be bought from the grocery store (Pillsbury or Duncan Hines).

You may also use strawberry jam/jelly to substitute for the strawberry puree. Mix 3 tablespoons of jelly with 6 tbsp of water and microwave /heat it till it mixed well.

I have used special pans to get this heart shape above.
Hope you will all try it and enjoy it as my family did.

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