Sunday, December 22, 2013

Golden Rum Cake

With Christmas around the corner, if you are looking forward to baking a good cake for yourself as well as for gift-giving, this is an ideal choice. You can be guaranteed to get recipe requests for this semi-homemade creation.
Sending Christmas cheers from my family to yours..
Merry Christmas to you all!

Recipe source: Allrecipes
 1 cup chopped pecans
 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
 4 eggs
 1/2 cup water
 1/2 cup vegetable oil
 1/2 cup dark rum
 1/2 cup butter
 1/4 cup water
 1 cup white sugar
 1/2 cup dark rum
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan or you can use small bundt pans. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over the bottom of the pan.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in the eggs, 1/2 cup water, oil and 1/2 cup rum. Blend well. Pour batter over chopped nuts in the pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
To make the glaze: in a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum.After the cake cools in the pan for about ten minutes, pour the hot glaze around the edges and it goes right down the sides and soaks into the bottom (which will be the top) and the sides of the cake. I also pour some around the inner ring and then a little along the top (which will be the bottom). I let it sit about 30 minutes then invert it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ginger Snaps

During December I love baking and when I bake a cookie its almost always some spice loaded ones.These ginger snaps are  one of my must bake cookies. A bite into one of these cookies is all I need to get into holiday spirits.
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 & 1/2 to 2 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
½-1 cup coarse sugar
Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper .In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, oil, molasses, and egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger; whisk well and stir into the molasses mixture to form dough

Shape dough into 1 to 1½-inch balls.  Dip each dough ball in the egg white, remove and let the excess drip off so it is lightly coated.   Roll the ball of dough coated in egg white in the sugar so that it is covered in an even layer. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.Place the coated balls on the prepared baking sheets about 2 to 3 inches apart. Flatten the balls a little,I used bottom of a glass to flatten the dough.

  Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, just until the tops of the cookies are set and beginning to crack, about 15-17 minutes total.  Let cool on the baking sheets a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lentil Soup

Here is a hearty vegetable soup to warm up any chilly day.All it takes is 10 minutes from prep to finish. This soup reheats well too,so no worries if you have left overs in case yours is a small family.
Recipe source: Food network
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
11/4 cups  lentils
8 cups low-salt chicken broth/vegetable broth
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
2/3 cup dried orzo pasta
1 cup shredded Parmesan (optional)
Heat the oil in a pressure cooker over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally. Add the lentils and pasta and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat.Put on the weight for your cooker when the steam starts to come and cook for 5 minutes.Switch of the stove  and open the cooker when there is no more pressure.Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Adjust the thickness of the soup to your liking.Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Caramel Spiked Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving without a pie or two is not complete. So here is a pie from our home to yours. This year, as always, we made both the pecan pie and the pumpkin pie. Aishwarya made the pecan pie which turned out perfect and I was all the more challenged to make a perfect pumpkin  pie. Luckily for me it turned out perfect and had all my pie tasters asking for more. It was light, smooth and the best part was it was not mushy like most pumpkin pies are. And the addition of caramel takes this pie to a whole new level. Try this out with some whipped cream and caramel sauce, and its even more irresistible. So if you are still in search of that perfect pumpkin pie with a an extra oomph do try this.
Recipe source:Annie's eats
Yield: 1 9-inch pie
1 (9-inch) partially baked pie crust
1 cup sugar, divided
¾ cup heavy cream, warmed
1 tbsp. dark rum (optional)
2 tbsp. butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup pumpkin puree
1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ tsp. ground ginger
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

To blind-bake a pie crust, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Roll pie dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch disc.  Place it in a 9-inch pie plate, trimming away the excess and creating decorative edges as desired.  Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with the tines of a fork.  Line the crust with a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with baking beads.  (If you don’t have baking beads, dried beans or rice also work.)  Bake 25 minutes.  Remove the baking beads and foil and bake about 5-10 minutes more, until light golden.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. While pie crust is baking take a medium saucepan, spread ½ cup of the sugar out in an even layer over medium-high heat.  Once the sugar begins to melt and change color, gently mix together so that the sugar is evenly melted.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has turned a deep amber color (keep a careful eye on it to be sure it doesn’t burn).  Once it has reached the desired color, remove the pan from the heat.  Add in the cream in a slow steady stream down the inside edge of the saucepan, stirring or whisking constantly to incorporate evenly.  (If any lumps remain, return the pan to the burner over medium heat and cook just until melted.)  Continue mixing in the cream in this manner until it has been completely incorporated.  Stir in the butter and the rum and mix just until smooth.  Set aside the caramel and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, remaining ½ cup of sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla.  Whisk to blend.  Whisk in the eggs one at a time.  Blend in the caramel.  Pour the filling into the partially baked crust.

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and transfer to the preheated to oven 350 F.  Bake 45-50 minutes, or until the center is just set and the edges are puffed.  Transfer to a wire rack to let cool at least 30 minutes. Serve with freshly whipped cream and caramel sauce as desired.

Aishwarya's 1st  Pecan Pie :-9

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Peanut Chutney

 If you want to include more protein in a typical south Indian diet, this would be an excellent choice of chutney. This goes with idli, dosa or even you can substitute this for peanut butter on your sandwich or toast.
It can also substitute for hummus as dip. It is tangy, spicy and really, really yummy.

Recipe Source:
Peanuts (roasted)-1 &1/2 cups
Garlic -8 cloves
Tamarind juice- 1/2cup
Chilly powder (paprika )-2 tb or to taste
Salt -to taste
Green chilli-2 or to taste
Oil -2tbs
For tempering
Mustard seeds - 1&1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1&1/2 tsp
Urad dhal-3 tbs
Curry leaves- 3 sprigs
Oil- 2tbs
Hing -3/4 tbs

Heat oil in a pan add garlic when garlic starts to slightly turn golden add roasted peanuts, red chilly powder, tamarind juice, salt, and  mix  all together, switch off the flame, put it into the blender along with green chilli and make a paste adding enough water.
For tempering heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, when mustard seeds start to splutter, add cumin seeds, Urad dhal and roast this till Urad dhal turns golden, add hing, curry leaves.Switch of the stove and let it cool down. Make this  into a coarse powder using  a blender. When ready to serve mix the  tempering mixture with peanut paste.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Vegetarian Tom Yum Soup (Hot and Sour Soup)

Since the beginning of fall, as the weather becomes colder, it is difficult to have salads as part of our diet.  The solution I thought of was to have more of soups, different varieties of it. One more reason for this fondness for soups in this season is that starting with Diwali, there are a lot many holidays and festivals till the end of the year and it is a time when we all indulge on heavy, calorie rich foods. So it makes sense to have soups for lunch to compensate for that as well.
Tom Yum soup is popular in Thailand and neighboring countries. It is a clear soup, which is spicy and sour and so perfect for the cold weather.

1 t. vegetable oil
1 T. minced fresh garlic
2 t. fresh minced ginger (or sliced galangal)
3-4 thai chilies, seeded and finely diced (optional)
6 cups vegetable stock
2 stalks lemongrass, peeled and chopped into 4-inch pieces
2-3 whole kaffir lime leaves
1-2 t.(Thai roasted chili paset read the label to make sure that all ingredients are vegetarian), plus more for garnishing
2 tablespoons oil of nam prik pao(chilli paste)
1 t. sugar
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh shitake or oyster mushrooms, sliced (if these aren't available, substitute crimini or button mushrooms)
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1 lb. extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed, then chopped in 1" cubes
Fresh cilantro, for garnishing
Cooked noodles or rice, for serving

In a large stock pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic, minced ginger, and thai chilies (if using). Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, or until the garlic smells fragrant. Add the stock, lemongrass stalks, and kaffir lime leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
 Using a slotted spoon, remove the lemongrass stalks and kaffir lime leaves. Add the hot chili paste along with the chilli paste oil, sugar, soy sauce and fresh lime juice, stirring to combine, and bring the mixture back to a boil. Add the mushrooms  and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the mushrooms have just slightly wilted. Turn down the heat to a simmer, then add the fresh tomato and extra firm tofu. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes more. Add salt or other spices as desired and serve hot with your favorite cooked noodles or rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and an extra few drops of chili paste if desired.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Khaman Dhokla

Till a few years back I believed making Kaman Dhokla was a very difficult task which only a seasoned cook can accomplish. This may be because most of my Gujarati friends depended on their moms or in laws to make these or resorted to instant versions of dhokla, never daring to try it out themselves. A while ago I saw a few recipes online as well as in magazines for making these, but still I didn't try making them as I was still not convinced. Over an year ago Kaveri, one of my blogger friends posted this on her blog and as I have always gotten  good results from trying out  her recipes I thought of giving this a try. I was so happy with the result that I have made this a zillion times since then. This is so easy to put together and tastes better than any other I have tasted.
Recipe Source: Palakkad Chamayal
Chickpea flour/Besan – 1 Cup
Curd – ½ cup
Water – ¼ cup
Green Chilly – 1 or 2
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Lemon Juice – 1 tsp
Oil – ½ tbsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – a pinch
Eno – 1 packet /1 &1/4 tsp
Salt to taste

For tempering
Oil – 2 tsp
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Green chilly – 1 Slit
Asafoetida – 1/8th teaspoon
Fresh Coriander/Cilantro Leaves for garnish

In a blender add  turmeric powder, salt, sugar, green chilly, ginger, oil,water,lemon juice and curd and whip to smooth.  Add chickpea flour and blend once more to form a smooth batter.Transfer this to a bowl
Meanwhile heat a steamer with water for steaming. Add the eno fruit salt to the chickpea flour mixture mix gently and pour immediately into a  greased cake pan or plate. Steam for 7 to 8 minutes,
Remove and allow to cool.
Heat a small  pan with oil. Add mustard seeds, once they crackle add asafoetida powder and the slit green chilly.
Pour this over the steamed dhokla, garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
Cut into desired shapes and serve with chutney of your choice

Sunday, October 27, 2013


I am yet to find a place in the Bay Area where you can get fresh Jangiris. When we travel to India also, it is difficult to bring this back as all the syrup would get leaked out of the jangiris, spoiling the rest of the luggage.
When we were back from India this summer, I had brought loads of laddu, peda and other dry sweets back to US with me and been having those to my heart's content. But with Diwali approaching, I wanted to make something fresh and as I was fed up with all those dry sweets, thought of making this for a change.As you can see anyone can make these if you have a little time and some patience.

Whole de-skinned urad dal-1 cup
Rice flour - 1 tsp
Orange food color- 1/2 pinch
Salt A pinch
For Sugar syrup
Sugar-4 cups
water-2 cups
Lemon juice 1/2 tsp
Rose essence 4 drops
Clove - 4 (optional)
Soak urad dal for 2 hrs and grind with very little water (Approximately  1/ 4 cup). Batter should be thick as a cake batter, fluffy and smooth. Mix a pinch of salt, food color and rice flour and mix well.
Make the sugar syrup using water, clove and listed amount of sugar. Syrup should be one string consistency. Add lemon juice, food color and lastly essence, mix well. Now take a zip lock bag and make a hole with a heated nail.or you can use a piping bag and use the smallest piping circle tip. Fill the bag with batter and practice making a few on a plate.
Start with a circle and over it, draw small swirl like circles.
Then heat a flat bottomed pan with  oil always keep the heat at medium.When the oil is hot squeeze the batter directly into the oil in the same manner you have practiced.
Repeat the same to make more to fill  the pan.
Once the jangris gets cooked and becomes light,turn over and cook till crisp and then take out carefully and transfer to the sugar syrup. Leave fried jangris in hot sugar syrup for 2-3 minutes.Take out and leave  to rest for a while say 1/2 hour. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mexican -Style Pasta (Fideo Seco)

Since the beginning of fall I am in the mood for spicy food. So in order  to satisfy my craving I wanted to make something really, really spicy yet easy to make. Then I remembered this Mexican style pasta which I hadn't made for a while. Previously I used to make it from scratch, but this time around, I tweaked it a bit to make it even easier to make on a working day. On the final count, I think it tasted even better than how I used to make it earlier and I couldn't help sharing it with you all.
8 oz. spaghetti,broken
1 jar good quality pasta sauce with onion and garlic
1/2 cup  white onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth/vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chipotle chile plus 1-2 tbs adobo sauce (optional)
3 tbs vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup feta cheese or  queso fresco
1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
1 ripe Hass avocado
Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Saute the noodles, stirring constantly (to prevent the noodles from burning), until the noodles turn a deep golden brown. Add  onion, garlic, and  chilies; continue to saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add the tomatao sauce  it is going to sizzle cook until the puree thickens and darkens,5 to 6 minutes Slowly pour in the chicken broth and bay leaves .  Stir to combine; season lightly with pepper.  (You can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.) Cook stirring occasionally  for 10 to 12 minutes till pasta is done.Serve with cream ,cheese and avocado on top.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

Today is my birthday! For this birthday, Jay and Aishwarya asked me what sort of cake I would like them to make for me; and I wanted something loaded with chocolate. I had seen this recipe at Annie's Eats sometime back and had bookmarked it. So all it needed from me was to direct them to this. They made this chocolate wonder and which surely made my special day even more special.
Recipe source: Annies eats
1¼ cups (6¼ oz.) all-purpose flour
1 cup (3 oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pans
2 tsp. instant espresso or coffee powder
1 cup boiling water
½ cup sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¾ cups (12¼ oz.) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
For the frosting:
9.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. sour cream
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.  In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, espresso powder, and boiling water.  Whisk until smooth; set aside to cool slightly.  When cooled down a bit, whisk in the sour cream and vanilla.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Gradually blend in the sugar and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes more.  Blend in the eggs one at a time.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; whisk to blend.

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the sour cream mixture, beating each addition just until incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Bake the cake layers for about 23-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans during halfway through to ensure even baking.  Transfer the baked cake layers to a wire rack and let cool in the pans at least 30 minutes before inverting onto the rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water or microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds give a stir and microwave for another 30 seconds.Stir and now microwave at 10 second intervals till the chocolate melts.  Set aside to cool until just barely warm.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt.  Beat in the melted and cooled chocolate and then the sour cream.  Continue beating until the mixture is smooth and well blended.

To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers on a cake board or serving platter.  Spread an even layer of the frosting over the top of the cake.  Top with the second cake layer.  Frost the top and sides of the cake again using an offset spatula or spoon for a soft, billowy appearance.  Slice and serve.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kappa Puzhukku

Kappa (kasava/tapioca), is something that brings about nostalgic memories of Kerala for most Malayalees.
So whenever I miss a piece of Kerala, I pick this out at the supermarket, but most of the time I pick up the frozen ones as these are easier to work with. There are different ways of cooking Kappa, but this one is the preparation that we make most often.
 Kappa (tapioca) - 500gm
 Grated coconut - 1 to 2 cups ( If you love more coconut add 2 cups)
 Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
 Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp
 Green chillies - 3 to 4
 Garlic-2 cloves
 Small onions - 1
 Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
 Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
 Coconut oil - 1 table spoon
 Cut the tapioca into small pieces. Bring a big pot of water to a boil.. Add tapioca pieces and close with a lid. When the tapioca is 3/4th done, drain the water. Dissolve 1/4 tea spoon turmeric powder in 1/4 cup of ware and pour into the tapioca Mix and cook for 1-2 minutes,
 Grind coconut, 1/4 tea spoon turmeric powder, cumin seeds,garlic and chillies in a grinder for 10-15 seconds. add this to the tapioca. Cover and cook on low flame for 3-4 minutes. Mix with a spoon.
 Heat oil in a pan. Splutter mustard seeds. Fry thinly sliced onion and curry leaves . Add this into the tapioca and mix well.
 Recipe source: Paakam
Ingredients for onion chamanthi
Red chilli-6
Tamarind-1 tsp
Coconut oil-1tsp
Salt to taste
Crush onion and chillis in a mortar or a food processor. Add salt and mix. Keep half of this aside
Add tamarind to one half of onion- chilli mix, add coconut oil and mix well. One chammanthi is ready.To the other portion add curd and mix you have another delicious chamanthi ready.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Vegetarian Yakisoba

Noodles are something that is loved all over the world, East or West. There are so many varieties of noodles, both in Eastern and Western cuisine. I love to try out noodles in any form, wherever it comes from. Among the Japanese noodles that I have tried out, this is my favorite.
8 ounces soba noodles
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp sambal paste or 2 teaspoons other hot chili paste
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onions,sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 big carrot, peeled and julienned
1/4 head cabbage, cored and shredded
4 scallion tops, chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1 tsp ginger paste
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.Cook the soba noodles in the boiling water for about 2 minutes or until they are al dente.(cooking any longer will cause the noodles to clump together.).
Drain the noodles, rinse lightly with cold water and drain again. (This is important so the noodles won't stick.).
Combine the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chili paste, sugar, and sesame oil in a small bowl and set aside.Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
When hot, add the onions, garlic,ginger and carrots, saute for about a minute now add cabbage. Cook stirring frequently, until the vegetables  are mostly tender
Add the soba noodles and the soy sauce mixture and cook just long enough to reheat the noodles and thoroughly coat them in the sauce.
Serve garnished with the chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kale Pesto Pizza

Even though the summer was not that bad this year, we had a few hot days. But still I avoided using the oven to prevent my house from getting heated up. Surprisingly, on the last day of summer, yesterday, it rained and rained fairly heavy. So I thought why not use this opportunity to use my oven and this is what I came up with.
1can (11 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits
1/4 cup kale pesto, recipe given below
1large plum (Roma) tomato, chopped
1cup shredded Italian cheese blend (4 oz)
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced (optional)

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray or grease a pizza pan or  nonstick cookie sheet. Press each dough roll on cookie sheet; starting at center, press dough into 15x10-inch rectangle.
Spread pesto to within 1/2 inch of edges of dough. Top with tomatoes; sprinkle with cheese.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until crust edges are golden brown and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with basil.

For making Kale Pesto
2 cups roughly torn kale, any variety (approximately 3 large stems, tough stalk removed)
1 clove garlic
4 tbsp cashew nuts, toasted
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 Green chillies
1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients (except olive oil) in the food processor.
Pulse until ingredients are finely chopped.
Turn food processor to on and with food processor running, slowly drizzle olive oil over the ingredients until incorporated.
Turn off food processor and remove pesto to jar.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Aval Payasam

Hope all my Malayalee friends had a great Onam!
I tried making this new payasam for this Onam. What I liked best about this recipe is that it is so easy to put together. So even when you are in the middle of making a full course "sadya" you can pay little attention to this and still end up with a delicious payasam.  You don't have to wait for the next Onam to try this, you can try making it the very next time the urge to have something sweet strikes you!

Medium thick white Aval (Flattened rice)  – ¼ cup
Milk – 3 cups
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
Ghee  – 2 tbsp
Sugar – ¾ cup to 1 cup
Cashew and raisins -1/4 cup

Fry the Aval in  1 tbsp  ghee  in a pressure cooker when aval turns crisp add the sugar. Once all the sugar melts (At this point you can take half the aval and crush it lightly) add milk into the Aval .Stir and let it come to a boil. Place the lid of the cooker and the whistle, and turn the heat to low flame. Let it cook for 25 - 30 minutes . Cook it for some more time until it thickens to the consistency of payasam. Meanwhile fry the cashew and raisins in ghee and add this along with cardamom to the payasam.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Semiya'N Dal Payasam with Jaggery & Coconut milk

In Kerala, where I am from, we do not typically celebrate Ganesh Chathurthi with the same pomp and festivities as in the rest of India. But in our house we always have a little celebration on this day as Jai's birthday as per the Hindu calendar falls on this auspicious day and Aishwarya's the very next day. So as to mark this special occasion I made this simple yet delicious payasam. The payasam is a combination of vermicelli milk payasam(semiya payasam) and dal payasam made with coconut milk. I was again in a mood to experiment and ended up with this delight. So if you are in a mood to try something different from the traditional payasam this would be a good option.
Vermicelli – 1/2 cup
Moong dal split - ¼ cup
Thick Coconut milk – 1 glass
Thin Coconut milk – 1 ¼ glass
Milk – 1 glass
Broken Cashews – ¼ cup
Raisins – ¼ cup
Ghee – 3 tbsp
Jaggery – 3/4cup (or to taste)
Water – 1 glass
Cardamom powder- 1/2 tsp
a pinch of salt
Dry roast  moong dal  until you get a nice aroma of roasted dal. Immediately add water to the dal. Wash and pressure cook till well cooked. Make a syrup of jaggery using one cup water. Strain it to remove any impurities.Dry roast vermicelli and cook this in jaggery syrup, add more water if needed. Once vermicelli is cooked well add the cooked dal to it along with 2 tablespoons of ghee. Cook this over for about a minute.
Add thin coconut milk and combine well. When it starts to boil, Add the thick coconut milk and cook this for another 2-3 minutes  stirring continuously. Remove from the stove add the milk  and cardamom powder salt along with ghee roasted raisins and cashew.
If the payasam is too thick for your liking you may dilute it using more milk. Check the sweetness when adding more milk, add more jaggery syrup as needed.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mocha Mousse Brownie Torte

Today my sweetheart  turned one more year wiser. So to celebrate his birthday I made a cake putting two of his favorite desserts together.The brownie and the mocha mousse turned out to be a wonderful combination. With the brownies turning out dense and fudgy and mousse light and velvety it was indeed a match made in heaven - just like us ;)
 Happy Birthday to the best husband in the world.
1 (1 oz.) envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup cold water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups cold whipping cream
1/4 cup Smucker's Hot Fudge Topping
Heat oven to 350°F. Coat 9-inch spring form pan with no-stick cooking spray. Prepare brownie spread batter in prepared pan. Bake 28 to 33 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely on wire rack.
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small microwave-safe bowl. Let stand 2 minutes to soften. Microwave 30 seconds. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Cool slightly.
Mix sugar,coffee and cocoa in large bowl. Add whipping cream . Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until stiff. Add gelatin mixture. Beat until blended. Spoon over brownie layer, spreading evenly. Chill 2 hours. Remove sides of pan.
 Place fudge topping in small heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Seal. Microwave on High 10 seconds to soften. Knead. Cut a very small corner off bottom of bag. Drizzle evenly over chocolate mousse. Chill.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Customizing a Store-Bought cake

Yesterday our little darling turned 12. We didn't plan a party as we already had one celebrating her upcoming birthday with her grandparents while we were vacationing in India. We gave her a surprise party on 12th which was 12 days before her real birthday and the party was at 12.00 clock. But we couldn't let her birthday pass without any celebration. As we are still in the middle of getting back to our normal routine after the trip, I thought of passing up this opportunity to whip up a cake.  For all her birthdays except the first one I had baked the birthday cake; so it was a bit difficult not to do it this time. I had to hold myself back to be practical so I went and bought a German chocolate cake (I didn't have enough time to order for a custom one at a short notice). Then to personalize it I made a paper Tardis for my die hard Whovian and placed it over the cake. If I had planned ahead I could have ordered some Dr Who merchendise and customized it but as Dr.Who  stuff is not available in the shops near where we live I had to resort to paper tardis.
Aishwarya was surprised that she got one more cake for her birthday and was all smiles when she saw how I had personalized it. She had  a lot of fun playing with the tardis after finishing with the cake ( She is still a little girl when it comes to playing with Tardis).  What I learned from this experiance is that with a little imagination it is easy to customize a store bought cake for whatever occasion you want.
Just to show how much of a Whovian she is I have included some of her sketches/paintings - these days, she eats, breaths and dreams Dr.Who trivia and bores us to death with it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Peaches & Cream Jello

I am in the middle of shopping, packing and re-packing for my upcoming trip to India. In the midst of all this I had not been keeping track of how fast the days are passing by, especially so since it is the summer holidays for Aishwarya. I know, I had been slacking on my blog posts, but wanted to post something to keep this alive. I am not sure how much of blogging I would be able to do while I am on vacation.
The last week was a very hot one in the Bay Area. This is a dessert that I made to cool us down a little so as to give us a break from ice-creams and popsicles that we were gulping down to keep us cold.
Recipe source: Jello mold mistress
For the Peach jello
2 tablespoons (2 envelopes) of unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup boiling water
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of honey
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup and 3/4 peach nectar (I used Goya brand)
1 cup fresh or canned peeled, chopped peaches
Food color of your choice, if required

In a bowl, sprinkle gelatin evenly over cold water and allow the gelatin to absorb the water for two minutes. Stir boiling water  mixed with color into gelatin until gelatin is fully dissolved. Whisk in cinnamon, honey, and sugar. Allow to cool and stir in peach nectar. Refrigerate until thickened to the consistency of a gel. Fold in peaches. Spoon into the mold or into brownie  pan. Refrigerate .

For cream jello
2 packages of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups boiling water
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sprinkle 2 packages of unflavored gelatin  over 1/2 cup cold water and allow the gelatin to absorb the water. Stir in 1 1/2 cups boiling water for 2 minutes until gelatin is fully dissolved. Stir in sweetened condensed milk until the mixture is smooth.Pour this over the peach flavored almost set jello.Refrigerate overnight or until firm. Unmold it to do so fill a sink or basin with warm water. Dip the mold or pan just to the rim in the warm water for about 10 seconds. Lift from water, hold upright, and shake slightly to loosen the gelatin from mold. Place a cold, moistened plate over the top of the mold and invert the plate and mold together. Carefully lift the mold, if gelatin does not release dip the mold in warm water and try again.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Waffle (Make-ahead Waffle Batter) 'N Blueberry Syrup

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers of the world!
Aishwarya told me that a very good dad like her's deserved a berry good breakfast. So a berry filled breakfast was what we planned; raspberry smoothies by Aishwarya and waffles with blueberry syrup by me. But as you may already know, I am one person who loves to get up late, especially on a weekend. So I wanted it in such a way that the most of the items can be made ahead. My search for a perfect make-ahead waffles ended with this recipe from Betty Crocker's Hostess Cookbook. The blueberry syrup is a standard syrup recipe I uses for whichever berries that are in season and can be made ahead too.
I never expected the waffles to turn out this good - they were crispy on the outside and with a perfect texture inside; and waffles tasted delicious with the syrup and some whipped cream. We had one happy and contented father.
1 pkg or  2 and 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 c. warm milk
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/4 c. butter
2 c. flour
The night before: In a mixing bowl dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add remaining ingredients. Mix with an electric mixer. Cover and let rise. Mine was about to overflow from the bowl at about an hour and half . Stir down; cover and refrigerate overnight or until ready to use.Bake the next day in a waffle maker as per the instruction

Ingredients for the Blueberry syrup
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbs lemon juice
Place ingredients in a small saucepan and stir well.Cook over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, and pressing berries against the side of pan to crush slightly, until berries get slightly soft and mixture gets syrupy, 10-12 minutes.
Can serve warm or cool.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cashew Date Balls/Bars

If you are a fan of Larabars, this is a copy-cat of those famous and delicious health bars. This is a very easy one to make and as it uses all natural ingredients is a guilt free snack. What I like best about this is that it is so filling that you won't feel like reaching out to any of the other snacks.
When I had the Larabar the first time, it reminded me so much about the Andi unda (cashew balls) that I love so much. This is a traditional Kerala snack made with cashew, roasted rice, jaggery and coconuts. But when I tasted the Larabars I realized that I could have almost the same taste with lesser number of ingredients and a lot less effort.
If you want to have the exact taste of the Larabars, just avoid adding cardamom and don't dry roast the nuts. I made these changes to make this taste as close to the Andi unda as I can.

8 oz seedless/pitted whole dates
1/2 cup whole raw unsalted cashews (dry roasted)
3 cardamom powdered (optional)
Measure out the dates and cashews and set aside. In the food processor, pulse the cashews until it turns to bite size pieces  Empty cashews into a big bowl.Pulse dates until there are no chunks left. Mix dates  with the cashews  along with  cardamom until all the nuts have been incorporated. The ball should be stiff. Now take a hand full and roll into smooth balls or you can  flatten to about 11/2 inch thickness with a rolling pin and cut it into little bars.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Kettle Corn

Aishwarya's favorite movie time snack is popcorns, more so if they are kettle corns. She has inherited my sweet teeth and prefers the caramalized version best.
This is comparable to the ones that you get in the fair grounds. It very easy to and almost as easy to make as the pre semi made ones you can make in a microwave.

Unpopped popcorn kernels-1/2 cup
Sugar-1 /4 cup
Sunflower oil-5 tbs
Salt-1/8th teaspoon
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil  start to sizzle a bit test the temperature by adding  3 kernels. When they pop its ready to stir in the sugar and popcorn. Cover, and shake the pot constantly to keep the sugar from burning. Once the popping has slowed to once every 2 to 3 seconds, remove the pot from the heat and continue to shake for a few minutes until the popping has stopped. Pour into a large bowl, and  sprinkle with salt and allow to cool, after giving it a nice stir .

Ensalada Mixta or Garden Salad

As the summer is nearing, some of the days (and nights) are getting quite hot. I don't typically like cooking when the weather is warm, as it tends to heat up the entire house. On extreme warm days, we would have some take outs - pizza, Chinese take-out and the like. But obsessed I am with having the daily intake of vegetables for the family, I make sure that we start the take out meals with a plateful of salads so that we won't over-indulge on the unhealthy stuff.
This recipe is a simple to make and tasty salad, with the added health benefit of not  having to use any of the store bought dressings.

Recipe Source
1 romaine lettuce, washed and leaves cut or torn into large pieces
2 tomatoes, sliced or quartered
½ onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, sliced or diced
1 tbs finely chopped cilantro
Juice of 2 limes
2 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the dressing whisk the chopped cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together.
Combine the lettuce, tomatoes, onions and avocado in a large bowl.
Toss the salad with the dressing and serve.

Monday, May 27, 2013

5 Minute-5 Ingredient, no bake Cheesecake

Even though I love cheesecakes, I don't make this that often, thinking of the calories that I need to burn if I have it. But during the weekend when I went shopping to the local supermarket they were handing out some cheesecake samples which tasted very delicious. I was feeling like buying it, but again, the thought of all those calories prevented me.. Still I could not get over the craving for it. So I searched for any options out there for a less calorie cheesecake and found this one. Not only that the calories are less, this was such a breeze to make and tasted as good as the best ones.
Recipe source: HubPages
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 8 ounce tub of cool whip
1/3 cup of lemon or lime juice
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese
1 graham cracker crust
(If you want to make it even lighter, you may substitute with light condensed milk, cool whip lite and lite cream cheese)

The key to this recipe is to make sure that the cream cheese is softened to room temperature. If it's still too cool, it will cause icky lumps.Cream the cool whip, cream cheese, and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add the lemon juice and blend until just combined. Pour mixture immediately to a  graham crust. Refrigerate for an hour to and hour and a half or even better overnight.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Strawberry Lassi

Is a popular and traditional yogurt-based drink which originates in the Punjab region of India. It is a cool, refreshing and healthy  "pick me up" drink perfect for any time of day. Lassi is flavored with sugar, mango, strawberry or other fruit juices
 10 ripe strawberries, rinsed
 2 tbs sugar
 1/4 cup whole milk
 1 cup  yogurt
 3 ice cubes(optional if using frozen strawberries)
Blend everything together in a blender. Serve in a tall glass topped with additional strawberry slices if desired.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spinach, Feta, and Sun-Dried Tomato Omelet

Hope you all wonderful mothers had a fabulous mothers day. I sure had one  with lots of pampering. My day started off with this delicious omelet and grilled veggies courtesy my dear hubby. This was one delicious breakfast which I would love to have any day.
2 large eggs
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons crumbled Feta
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a pinch each of salt and pepper.
Melt the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, swirling it to coat the pan. When the butter stops sizzling, pour the egg mixture into the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the bottom is set, about 10 seconds. Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, pull the set eggs at the edges of the pan toward the center, allowing the unset eggs to run from the center to the sides. (Adjust the heat if necessary to prevent browning.) Continue to cook until a thin layer of unset egg is visible on top.
Sprinkle with the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and Feta; fold the eggs over the filling. Transfer to a plate and serve
 Mother's day present by Aishwarya

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dark Chocolate & Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Wishing all the mothers a great Mothers Day!
This is a cake that leaves you feeling refreshed and light after eating.  Even the cream part alone is so yummy and irresistible. It is a chocolate cake with a light pink frosting(owing to the strawberries and the strawberry jello used), but it doesn't look pink in the photograph though. As I made this cake for a party and didn't have much time to spend on retakes, I let it be as it is.
I was a little apprehensive when I was making this frosting, as I thought that probably the jello and the strawberry flavor would overpower the whipped cream. But surprisingly though, it all combined well enough and turned out to be a wonderful treat.

Chocolate cake (made 2 sheet cakes by doubling the recipe)
Strawberry Whipped Cream:
1 pint whipped cream
2-3 teaspoons strawberry gelatin
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tablespoons food processed strawberries(take some fresh strawberries, wash them, remove the stems, and throw them in the food processor until they become a thick, seedy liquid)
strawberry Whipped Cream:  Beat whipped cream until stiff peaks form.  Stir in gelatin and powdered sugar until desired taste is reached.
For the Glaze:
4 oz (115 g) high quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup (76 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
Place the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until melted and smooth. *Be careful to not get even a droplet of water into your bowl of chocolate and butter.
Assembly of Cake:
Chill sheet cake in freezer for 30 minutes, or refrigerator for several hours. The cake will be a bit sticky, but should not be soft and fragile. If so, place in freezer or refrigerator again until more firm.
Using a sharp, serrated bread knife, cut the cake in half, then those halves in half--4 total. The pieces will be 11" long and about 4.5" wide.
Place 1st layer face-up (on a platter, or whatever you choose to serve the cake on), and spread about 1/2" thick layer of whipped cream on top. Repeat this step finally place your final layer face down.
Crumb Coat  cake with thin layer of whipped cream using a small offset spatula for the top and a straight offset spatula for the sides--if you have a metal bench scraper, you can run along cake to get smooth finish and to achieve sharp corners. Always start at the top of the cake, working your way down. Chill cake for about 30 minutes, or pop back in freezer for 10-15 more minutes to set cream.
Using  clean tools, add a thick layer of whipped cream on the top of the cake, working it over the edges and then finish the sides. Be very generous with your whipped cream, because you will be scraping most of it off with the scraper. It just makes it so much easier to get the smooth finish. Chill the cake for as long as you need, but at least 15 minutes to set the cream.
Drizzle your warm (but not hot) ganache over the top of your very chilled cake so it seeps down the sides. Be careful not to use too much, or you will lose your pink cake underneath! You can use your clean small offset metal spatula to smooth it over the top. Chill to set.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Wheat Puttu

We always used to get the best home made rice flour to make puttu, courtesy to my parents and in-laws. But the puttu powder that we bring back from our trip to India would not last till the next visit, as we tend to make puttu quite often. It was difficult for me to adjust to puttu made with the store bought puttu powder. So to make my precious home made puttu powder last longer, I started experimenting with other options.
Since we get good quality wheat flour here in the US, I first started experiemting with it. But my first few attempts were not up to the mark. Then I came across this nice recipe which proved to be a winner.
Recipe source: Kerala Kitchen
Wheat flour - 2 cups
Coconut, grated - 1/2
Salt - to taste
Water for mixing.
Sieve the wheat flour and salt together. Sprinkle water (very little) on the flour and mix it gently(wheat tends to form a dough easily with water so do not pour water only sprinkle little by little). The flour should be wet enough for steaming. Put wet flour in the food processor and pulse it just for a second or two. It'll help the small lumps to break apart and form a nice wet powdery texture . Now mix half of the coconut to the flour and mix it. put two teaspoon of grated coconut in the puttu maker and then add the flour mix.If you don't have a puttu maker, you can use a steamer instead. Just line it with the remaining coconut and spread the flour mix over it and steam it for about 4 minutes.

Monday, April 29, 2013


It had been a hectic couple of weeks for me and I didn't get much time to blog for the last many days. I had been setting up an Art Show of my student's projects at the elementary school where I teach art. It was a real back-breaking work setting all that up. But it was highly rewarding to see the beaming faces of the students and their parents.
Seeing an inactive blog, some of my friends were even asking me whether I stopped cooking altogether :-). No worries there. I had been cooking and experimenting as usual, as it is a way I unwind even on the busiest of days. But I was not getting time to sit down and type the recipe.
This recipe is  different from the one I had posted earlier, which uses powdered rice. If you live in a place where it is difficult to get the powdered rice, this is a good alternative. In fact now that I started making it, I feel that this is more like the traditional appams in which the raw, powdered rice is used.
Raw rice(sona masoori) – 1 cup
Cooked rice – ½ cup
Grated coconut – ½ cup
Salt to taste
Yeast – 1 tsp
Sugar – 1 tbs or to taste
Soak the raw rice for 4-6 hours.
Grind to a smooth batter adding the cooked rice and grated coconut and enough water.
Add the yeast,sugar and salt.
Mix well and keep it covered for 3 hours or till the batter doubles in quantity
Give the batter a stir,add more water if the batter is too thick-it has to be of pouring consistency.
.Heat Appachatti or a pan and  pour 1/4 cup of batter into it and rotate the appachatti and cover and cook for about 2 minutes in medium heat. Once the middle portion is cooked, remove the cover and cook for another 30 seconds uncovered .Remove from fire and serve with stew or curry of your choice.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Healthy Elvis

Fried peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwiches, dubbed "The Elvis" after the famous singer’s penchant for the tasty concoctions, get a healthy remake in this easy recipe. Here I have ditched the bacon and replaced the PB with a more nutritious option like unsalted almond butter. Just be sure to choose one nut  spread of yours  without hydrogenated oils, added sugars, or salts.
Recipe source: Shape Magazine
2 slices whole grain bread
2 tablespoons nut butter
1 banana, sliced
1 tablespoon agave nectar(Optional)
Toast bread, then spread nut butter on both slices. Layer sliced bananas in between the bread and drizzle with agave nectar.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Gothambu Payasam /Broken Wheat Payasam

Vishu is here and I am sure that any Indian celebration is incomplete without a payasam or kheer. So here is a delicious gothambu(broken wheat) payasam from my kitchen to yours. With all the best wishes for an auspicious Vishu and a bright and happy year ahead!
Broken wheat - 1 cup
Jaggery - 1and1/2 cup or to taste
Thick coconut milk -1  cup
Thin coconut milk-1 cup
Milk -1 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Cashew nuts - 10 - 15
Coconut slices-2 - 3 tbsp
Raisins - 10-12
Ghee - 1 tbsp +2 Tbs
Pressure cook broken wheat with 3 cups of  water for 2-3 whistles. It should be cooked well.Open the pressure cooker when the pressure releases.Stain the excess water completly.
Meanwhile make a jaggery syrup using  1/2 cup water and jaggery. Strain it to remove any  impurities. Pour this is to the cooked wheat and along with 2tbs of  ghee.  Cook this while stirring for about 2 minutes or till jaggery is almost dries up. Add thin coconut milk and stir continuously and when this starts to boil add the thick coconut milk along with milk . Keep stirring and simmer till the payasam becomes thick. Now add powdered cardamom.You can add a pinch of salt to bring out the taste.
Heat 1 tbs ghee and fry cashews, coconut slices and raisins. Add this to the prepared payasam. If you find the payasam thick  once it cools , you may add some milk to get the desired consistency.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Vegetarian Thai Red Curry

Hailing from the land of coconut trees, I am in love with any cuisine that has coconuts or coconut milk in it. So, needless to say I am an avid lover of Thai cuisine. The Thai Red Curry is a perennial favorite of ours. For me a Thai meal is never complete if it doesn't have the red curry as part of it.
One of the things I like about this dish in particular is that you can make it with whichever vegetables that you have  handy, as the secret is in the gravy.
If you keep the curry paste prepared ahead of time, you can put together this in no time.
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon coriander
1/2 tablespoon cumin
20 or to taste (de-seeded) dried Thai Red Chilies
1 1/2 tablespoons galangal/ginger
1/4 cup garlic
3-4 tablespoons lemongrass
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup shallots
1 tablespoon Kaffir Lime Zest
3 tbs oil
Soak the chili pepper in hot water for 10 minutes or until soft. You can see that the color gets brighter once when it's soft.  Skin the zest out from kaffir lime. Slice lemongrass thin to limit the fiber size. Peel garlic and shallots.

Grind the dry spices(peppercorns, cumin and coriander) separately in a spice grinder or mortar and set aside to  add them to the curry paste later.
Squeeze the water out from the chili peppers. Put the rest of the ingredients in the mortar or grinder and make a smooth paste.The paste should be thick and not watery.Add the powdered dry spices to ground paste.
Heat Oil in a skillet.Add the paste and cook it until the oil starts to separate and the paste starts to clump together (3-5 mins).

This curry paste will stay fresh for a few weeks in the refrigerator and for a year in the freezer.
For the curry

Oil – 1 tbsp
Red Curry Paste – 1-2 tbsp
Coconut cream -3/4 cup
Coconut Milk – 1 cans (14oz/400ml each)
Palm Sugar – 1/2 tbsp
Soy Sauce – 1 tbsp optional
Snow Peas – handful
Red Bell Pepper – 1/8, sliced
Green Bell Pepper – 1/4, sliced
Eggplant- 1 medium sized
Carrots – 1 thin slices
Onion – 1/4, sliced
Frozen corn-1/2 cup
Thai Basil Leaves – 4-6, torn up
Extra Firm Tofu – 14 oz block, cubed optional
Heat the oil in a thick bottom pan over medium heat ,stir in curry along with sliced onion and stir for a minute. Mix in the coconut cream.When curry paste is dissolved in coconut cream add the coconut milk ,soy sauce and sugar .Check the saltiness and add salt if needed.Add the cut veggies to this along with a green chilli if you need added heat. Add the basil leaves and cook till veggies are cooked.If you are adding Tofu add it 2 minutes before you are done with the cooking.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Thai Mango Sticky Rice(Khao Niaow Ma Muang )

Thai was my theme of the day. I made the Thai Red Curry and Sticky Rice for dinner and once I had finished making it, my eyes fell on the ripe mangoes that were there in my pantry. So I thought, why not make some Khao Niaow Ma Muang with those yummy ripe mangoes  so as to complete my Thai dinner. So here I am.
For those who haven't tried it before, the looks can be deceiving, but it really is soooo... good.
1 cup Thai Sweet Rice (also called 'sticky rice' OR 'glutinous rice', available at Asian food stores
1-2 ripe mangoes, cut into bite-size pieces (for more on mangos, see below)
4-5 Tbsp. palm sugar Or brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 can good-quality (thick) coconut milk
1/4 tsp cornstarch
water (for boiling or steaming the rice)

Soak the rice in 1 cup water for 20-30 minutes, OR up to 4 hours.
Do not drain the rice. Simply add 3/4 cup (more) water, plus 1/4 can coconut milk, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1 tbs brown sugar. Stir this into the rice.
Bring to a gentle boil, then partially cover with a lid (leaving some room for steam to escape). Reduce heat to medium-low.
Simmer in this way for 20 minutes, or until the coconut-water has been absorbed by the rice. Turn off the heat, but leave the pot on the burner with the lid on tight. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.or you can pressure cook this or 8 minutes.
To make the sauce, warm (do not boil) the rest of the can of coconut milk over medium-low heat (5 minutes). Add 3 Tbsp. sugar, stirring to dissolve and 1/4 tsp cornstarch mixed in 1/4 cup water to this and cook this for another 2 mintues
Taste-test the sauce for sweetness, adding more sugar if desired. (note that it will taste less sweet when added to the rice).
To assemble, place a few 'mounds' of sticky rice in each serving bowl. Top with slices of the mango, then pour sauce over. It should look like an English pudding with custard sauce, with the mounds of rice swimming in sauce.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Kozhukkatta is a traditional south Indian snack, which is basically a steamed rice dumpling. There are different versions of Kozhukkatta, depending on the type of the filling. The filling can be either sweet or savory.  For this particular version, I have used coconut and jaggery mix as the filling.
The Christian population of Kerala traditionally makes this for Easter. I found some references that say that this is to commemorate the stoning of Jesus Christ on his way to the cross - and that these represent the stones. But being the peace loving person that I am,  I prefer to believe that this is a local version of the Easter eggs. Hence I shaped them like Easter eggs and not like rocks.

Rice flour - 1 cup
Grated coconut - 1 cup
Jaggery - 150 gm
Crushed Cardamom - 2
Water - 1 &1/4  to 1 &1/2cup
Salt to taste
Heat a pan and melt the jaggery with 1/4 cup of water and strain the jaggery with a strainer.
Reheat the jaggery. Add grated coconut and keep stirring until it turns to thick consistency. Add crushed cardamom and remove from fire.Keep this aside
Boil 1 1/2 cup of water with salt. Pour the boiled water to the rice flour little by little and mix it with a spoon. Keep it aside till it is warm enough to handle
Knead the dough and make it into a soft ball. Make medium size balls out of the dough. Take one ball at a time and place it in your greased  palm and  flatten it gently to a circle, and keep about  1 tbs filling and bring all  together and seal it by pressing ends.Now roll it back it into a ball or an egg as I did.
Repeat this with the rest of the dough and filling.
Steam the balls or kozhukatta for 10 minutes on a medium flame. Keep it covered for 2 more minutes.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Kashmiri Dum Aloo

Almost a decade ago, when I was not into the internet in a big way, the primary sources of good recipes for me used to be my mother, my grand-mother or MIL. Other than these direct sources, I also used to collect recipes from TV shows or magazines.I used to note down the ones that I found good in a notebook and used to refer to those when I wanted to make it again. This recipe of Kashmiri Dum aloo is one such recipe that I had in my recipe book. All of us used to like this dish quite a lot and it was a good one to serve for a dinner or to take to a potluck, as it is quite an eye-pleaser. I used to make it quite often during those days.
How the times have changed! Now a days I rarely ever need to refer a book for recipes. It is all just a click away. With so many wonderful new things to try out from around the globe, I hardly ever made this dish in the last many years. By chance I was flipping through my recipe book the other day and since I had some nice Idaho baby potatoes with me, wanted to try it out. And as always it turned out to be wonderful both in taste and in presentation.

For Aloo:
Medium potatoes - 5-6 numbers
Raisins - 1 tbs
Cashews - 1tbs, powdered coarsely
Cream - 1 tbs
Salt - to taste

For Gravy:
Tomatoes pureed and strained -3
Capsicum finely chopped - 1
Onions chopped into strips - 1
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Cardamoms -2
Cloves - 3
Peppercones - 3
Cinnamon piece - 1/2 inch
Ba:y leaf -1
Kasoori methi-1 tsp
Water -1 1/2 cups
Cream -2 tbs
Coriander leaves, chopped - 1/2 tbsp
Refined oil - 2 tbs
Salt - to taste

Onion Paste:
Onions - 2, medium
Ginger piece - 1/2 inch.
Red Kashmiri Chillies  or  Paprika - 4-5
Mint leaves - 8-10
Cloves and garlic - 5 (optional)

For Aloo:
Peel and boil potatoes till they are half done. Cool and core with a potato scoop. Mix raisins, potato scooping, cashew, cream and salt. Stuff this mix into the potato hollows and keep them aside.

For Gravy:
Heat oil, add onions and stir-fry till brown. Drain and keep aside. Stir-fry capsicum till done, drain and keep aside. Add whole spices to the oil, allow to splutter and then add the onion paste and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato puree, masalas and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add water, sugar,kasoori methi, salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.Add the cream and give a nice stir
Now put the potatoes in a casserole and pour the gravy over them. Sprinkle the stir-fried onions and capsicum over this and cover with aluminium foil. Bake in the oven at 200 degree C for 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mulaku Baji/Mirchi Baji

When I was pregnant with Aishwarya I didn't have any cravings as such. But one day almost into my 8th month while out shopping  I saw a street vendor selling Mulaku/Mirchi baji outside the mall. So I asked my hubby dear if I could have it. My friends, can you guess what Jai did. No he didn't get me that. Instead  he gave me a big lecture on how unhygienically  it is being prepared and what it would do to me and the baby. To this day I hold this against him and poor fellow he is still looking for a way to compensate for that.
So if you or any one in your family is longing for some fiery mulaku baji  here ends your search.
Ingredients :
Banana peppers-5/8
1 cup  Besan/ chickpea flour
2tbs Rice flour
1/2 teaspoon Asafoetida
1/2 to 1/4 teaspoon Red chili powder
1/8teaspoon Baking soda
Salt to taste
Cooking oil to deep fry
Method  :
Make lengthwise slits on the sides of the peppers without splitting the pepper,remove the seeds see that you do not split the peppers while deseeding.If you are a person who has very little tolerance to hot peppers soak the peppers in hot salted water for 15 minutes.Meanwhile mix rest of the ingredients to a smooth batter the consistency should be that of dosa batter. Dip each pepper in the batter to coat well on all sides. Deep fry them in hot oil on medium heat until crisp and cooked. Once cooked remove from the oil and drain them in kitchen towel. Serve hot.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Homemade Shamrock Shake

Today being Sunday and it being the St.Patrick's day, I thought of making all things green. We had green eggs for breakfast, spinach rice for lunch and I made this Shamrock Shake as a dessert/drink. Shamrock Shake is a seasonal drink that McDonald's introduced to celebrate St.Patrick's Day. I have never tasted the real one but Aishwarya had and she thinks this is very close to the real one,though mintier and yummier by her standards.
Happy St.Patrick's Day!
Recipe source:Cupcakes & Cashmere
3 cups vanilla ice cream
1½ cups whole milk
½ teaspoon mint extract
Green food coloring
Salt a pinch

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

 In a large bowl, beat cream until medium peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.Set this aside.Or you can skip this and use a store bought whipped cream.
 In a blender, combine all shake ingredients and process until thick and fully incorporated. Pour into glasses .Top with whipped cream, and garnish with mint sprigs.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

French Coconut Pie

Today being the Pi Day (3/14), Aishwarya wanted a pie. As it was not a holiday, I didn't have much time to work on anything complicated. So I searched for the simplest recipe possible and came up with this one.I could whip this up in no time as the filling was super easy and I used a store brought pie crust. I  would definitely make this easy and tasty pie again.

Recipe Source:Tasty Kitchen
3 whole Eggs, Beaten
1-½ cup Sugar
1 cup Flaked Coconut (unsweetened)
1 stick Butter, Melted
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 pinch Salt
1 whole 9" Uncooked Pie Shell / Homemade crust
Mix filling ingredients well and pour into the pie shell. Bake at 350F for 1 hour.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ja Jiang Mein

This is an original recipe of Martin Yan, our Chinese cooking guru, slightly modified to suit our taste. As per the chef, Chinese men cook this easy dish when they invites dates over. As today was a very tiring day for me, I was not in a mood to cook.  Jai wanted to impress me with his culinary skills and went over some recipes he had saved to try. He made this in under 15 minutes.. And he did a fairly good job of impressing me with this easy and delicious dish
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup sweet bean paste
1 tbsp chile garlic sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp oil

Rest of the ingredients:
10 oz. dried wheat noodles
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup diced onion
1 cup soy granules, soaked and drained (or ground meat)
2 cup chopped spinach

Make a sauce by combining all the ingredients listed under sauce. Cook the noodles as per the package directions, rinse with cold water and drain.
In a hot wok, add oil, swirl to coat the sides, add the garlic and cook stirring for about 10 sec. Add the onion, stir-fry until almost translucent. Add the soy granules and cook for about 1 min. Add the spinach along with the sauce and cook until the sauce boils and thickens slightly. Now toss the noodles with the sauce.
Serving suggestion:
Serve with  thinnely julienned cucumber and carrots.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Buttermilk Cornbread

It had been quite cold for the last couple of days. Ideal for some hot chili. Even though chili itself is a complete meal, we like to have something solid to go along with that. So I made these cornbread to go along with this. It tastes like freshly baked pound cake, though with a grainier texture. The sweetness of the cornbread nicely complements the spiciness of the chili. You could have this as a stand alone snack also if you like to.
Recipe Source: Allrecipes
 1/2 cup butter
 2/3 cup white sugar
 2 eggs
 1 cup buttermilk
 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
 1 cup cornmeal
 1 cup all-purpose flour
 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Apple Pie Chimichangas

When it comes to food and nutrition, I am very paranoid - especially if it concerns Aishwarya's diet. I become so restless if she doesn't get her daily dose of fruits and veggies. Some of this seems to have rubbed off Jay also. These days even when I tend to go a little bit easy on things once a while, he would be the one to become so concerned.
During the weekends and holidays since we spend more time at home we tend to snack more and end up not having the normal helping of fruits. One way to overcome this problem is to have the fruit itself made up as a snack or a light meal or dessert. This way I don't have to worry about the daily intake of fruits any more.
And this recipe for Chimichangas is an excellent one that serves this purpose. Chimichangas are fried burritos - you can have it with sweet or savory filling. Here I have used the apple pie filling for making Chimichangas

Recipe Source:

For the Apple Pie Filling
4 baking apples, chopped ( used a mix of granny smith and gala apples)
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbs. lemon juice
1tbs butter

For the Chimichangas
8-10 small tortillas
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon
Oil for frying

For the Apple Pie Filling
Combine the water, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until the mixture becomes very thick.
Add the chopped apples and reduce to a simmer along with butter. Allow the apple mixture to simmer until the apples become just tender (approximately 10 minutes). Allow the mixture to cool.

For the Chimichangas
Mix cinnamon and sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside.
Spoon apple pie filling across the bottom 1/3 of the tortilla.Roll in both sides of the tortilla before rolling up the bottom of the tortilla over the filling, and then continue to roll the tortilla up like a burrito.

Meanwhile, heat a small skillet with 1/2 an inch of oil or 1 tablespoon. Once oil is hot, fry the chimichangas on all sides until the tortilla turns golden brown. (approximately 30 seconds on each side) or you can spray the chimichangas with oil and bake it at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove the chimichangas to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to drain briefly. Immediately roll the warm chimichanga in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat and serve.
You can serve the chimichangas drizzled with caramel sauce if you desire.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oats Porridge

Aishwarya usually likes to have cereals for breakfast. But as she got her braces fitted just yesterday, it was painful for her to chew. So when I asked her what else she would like to have for breakfast, she asked for the oats porridge the way my mom makes it. This is the only way she would have the oats porridge and she always claims that her grandma's recipe for this is the best in the "whole wide world". This is not a quick recipe, but the end result justifies the time and effort.
Oats-1 heaped tablespoon
Water-1 cup
Sugar-2tbs or to taste
Milk-1 cup
Add oats and water to a thick bottom pan and cook the oats at medium heat stirring occasionally till the oats is cooked and water is reduced to half the amount. By this time the oats would have thickened and would be looking like thick paste. Now add sugar and milk and  stir continuously till it comes to a boil. Add cardamom and switch of the stove. It may not look so thick now but will turn to a smoothie consistency  once it cools down.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Whenever I prepare a batch of dosa batter, I typically make it as thick as possible. This way I can dilute it to whatever consistency needed for the specific dish I am making. I always make it a point to prepare the batter almost every week. Having the dosa batter ready and available in your fridge is a lifesaver as it opens up so many different possibilities of the foods you can make in a jiffy - dosa, paniyaram, masala dosa and uthappam. Uthappam itself you can make in so many different variations - like onion uthappam, tomato uthappam or a mixed uthappam like this one, not to forget the plain uthappam.
Of the different variations of uthappams, this particular one is my favorite. Hope you would all like this too.
Dosa batter
Coconut-1/2 cup grated
Onion -1/2 cup sliced
Green pepper-1/2 cup sliced
Tomatoes -1/4 cup deseeded and  sliced
Green chillies - 2-3 (chopped)
Cilantro few (chopped)
Curry leaves - few (optional)

Mix onion,green pepper,tomatoes,chilli,cilantro and salt and set aside.
Heat a pan when a it is hot pour a ladle full of the batter onto the hot pan and slightly spred if needed  it should be thick like a pancake.Sprinkle coconut over the batter. Now add the mixed veggies over  the coconut sprinkled batter. See that you do all this immediately after pouring the batter before the batter starts to cook.Drizzle a tsp of oil around the uthappam. Cover the uthappam and  cook for 4-5 mins on low heat.When golden brown, turn drizzle a few drops of oil around the uttappam  and cook for another minute.Serve with chutney of your choice or just tomato ketchup.
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