December 31, 2008

Mixed Fruit Mini Cakes

I’m a little sad to see this year go by. In more ways than one, 2008 was a good year. On the blogging front, quite a few people thought that both my blogs would die very unnatural deaths. They’re both alive and kicking, this one much more than the other. I ran a half marathon in May with 15 posts back to back. In July, I participated in my first ever NaBloPoMo. I didn’t think I could do it, but I somehow did. And I must have passed out or something after that because I didn’t post much in the two months that followed. October was sort of OK. November saw me running another marathon, this time it was twice the distance: 30 posts back to back. I also took part in my second NaBloPoMo that same month. After that, I consciously slowed down. I’m trying to keep it at 3-4 posts a week now.

I became a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher in 2008 and got the cutest set of business cards from them. In fact, they’re so cute, that I don’t feel like giving them out. But then I do. I remember to carry them around and hand them out when appropriate. This blog also featured in national dailies.

While The Telegraph ran this, my blog featured in the Food Bytes section of The Hindu.
I also got “lucky” with a couple of lucky draws and won some stuff lovely stuff.

It is said that life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away. Going by just that, this year rocked. From a food and blogging perspective, 2008 was the year in which I
  • Physically met many bloggers
  • Got my first newspaper mention
  • Tried to get used to being addressed as Raaga in the non-virtual world, rather unsuccessfully I must add.
  • Met both my “name-sakes” and spent time with them
  • Made my first sale of cakes and got repeat orders
  • Learnt to make handmade chocolates
  • Built up my traditional cooking expertise
  • Used fresh fruit in cakes
  • Tried just about every vegetable I could find in the market, including Tinda
  • Burnt my face while attempting to fry vadais, my first burn ever and right across my face
  • Hosted events on the blogosphere

While there is absolutely nothing I can do that will help me hold on to this year, I raise a toast with these mini cakes.

2 cups Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 cup Dry Fruits (figs, apricots, prunes, raisins, currants and sultanas), chopped

1/4 cup Candied Peel

1/4 cup Tutti Fruity

1/4 cup Dark Rum

1 1/4 cup Brown Sugar

4 eggs

3/4 cup Oil

1/2 tsp Clove Powder

1 tsp Cinnamon Powder

For the Caramel:

1/2 cup Sugar

3/4 cup Boiling Hot Water

Glace Cherries, to decorate

Soak the dry fruits, candied peel and tutti fruity along with the cinnamon powder and clove powder in the rum for about 3-4 weeks. In a pinch, soak these overnight.

When you are ready to bake, start by making the caramel. In a heavy bottomed pan, place the 1/2 cup of sugar and heat slowly. The sugar will begin to melt. Stir this mixture with a spoon slowly as the caramel forms. When all the sugar crystals have melted, slowly add the boiling water and stir to form a smooth mixture. Cool this completely. Be careful while adding the hot water.

Heat oven to 400 F. Line the muffin pans with paper liners.

Sift the flour along with the baking powder. In a mixing bowl, add the oil, eggs and brown sugar and beat well. To this, add the flour mixture and the fruits by turns. Whisk well and then add the cooled caramel. Mix well.

Fill the muffin cups with the batter. Decorate with glace cherries. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Here’s to 2008: While you've been a good year overall, I have to bid you farewell. And I have to have to hope that the years that follow will only be better with more peace, less recession worries, less poverty. My wish for everyone in 2009 is lots of health, wealth and happiness!

December 29, 2008

Broccoli Cauliflower Soup

I have already gone on and on about how I love winter, the vegetables, the chaat. I also love the prices of vegetables in winter. So when the local vendor starts selling broccoli at about a fourth of the price he sells it as for the rest of the year, I have to stop and take notice. While I’ve used broccoli a lot in stir fries and salads, I haven’t used it that much in soups. I tried this combination of cauliflower and broccoli in this hearty soup that the two of us thoroughly enjoyed.

1 cup Broccoli florets
1 cup Cauliflower florets
1 tsp Butter
1 tsp Flour
1 cup Milk
1 tsp Chilli Flakes
½ tsp Basil
½ tsp Parsley
Salt to taste

Cook the broccoli and cauliflower florets until soft. Blend in a liquidizer.

Heat the butter in a pan. Add the flour and fry for a couple of minutes without browning the flour. Add the milk and mix well. Bring to a boil over a low flame, stirring continuously. Add the broccoli-cauliflower puree and mix well. Season with the chilli flakes, basil and parsley. Add salt to taste. Bring the entire soup to a gentle boil and enjoy it when hot.

December 27, 2008

Kidney Bean and Pasta Salad

There is nothing permanent except change. That’s something I completely believe in. About a month ago, our diet plan underwent a complete makeover. The weather has also been very conducive. We eat stuffed parathas, salads, and filling snacks during the day and end the day with hot soup. While I try to plan ahead, there are times when I have no idea what to make. I usually try and buy vegetables for the week over the weekend. I then chop them according to different needs and then freeze them in freezer bags. That way, I can throw in a handful of vegetables into just about anything and turn any dish into a complete meal.

This is one of those “make-it-up-as-you-go” salads. I had a can of kidney beans and wanted to use it up. Rajma wasn’t on my mind. So I decided to pair it with some pasta and vegetables. Nothing unusual about that, I agree. The dressing is what took this salad to the next level. I was in an experimental mood that morning and this colourful salad was the result.

1 cup Pasta, prepared according to instructions on the pack
1 can Red Kidney Beans, drained
1 cup Mixed Vegetables, diced and cooked

For the dressing:

1 tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 pods Garlic, chopped
1 Onion, diced
¼ cup Capsicum, chopped
¼ cup Carrots, chopped
1 Tomato, chopped
2 tsp Chilli Flakes
1 tsp Oregano
½ tsp Basil
½ tsp Parsley
Salt to taste

To prepare the dressing, heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic and onion and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the capsicum and fry for another minute. Add the chilli flakes, oregano, basil, parsley and salt and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato and carrots and cover and cook for 5 minutes. Grind this mixture to a paste.

To proceed, place the kidney beans, pasta and vegetables in a bowl. Add the dressing and toss well.

The dressing is like chutney. It works very well in sandwiches and with crackers. All in all, this is a keeper recipe.

I'm sending this to
Sug as she hosts this month's edition of My Legume Love Affair.

December 25, 2008

Coriander Saar

The first recipe I posted on this blog was for my favourite tomato saar. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve made it. I don’t think it goes very well with rice, but it is great as a soup. When I hosted the MBP Soups and Salads, I tried out Nupur’s Tomato Red pepper Saar. That was a hit too.

When I posted the recipe for tomato saar as part of a discussion thread on food, Mo responded to it and asked me to try a similar recipe. I didn’t know her at all, but as it turns out, we know several people in common and her mother even met my mother, albeit many years ago. While I didn’t know her when she first responded, we have since become friends. I promised that I’d try out her version of saar as soon as I could.

Now that coriander leaves are very much in season, I couldn’t postpone making this any longer. This recipe was enough for just me. I ate nothing else. But otherwise, it would suffice as an appetizer for two.

1 cup Coriander Leaves, roughly chopped
2-3 tbsp Coconut, scraped
1 Green Chilli, slit
1 tbsp Tamarind Paste
Salt to taste

For the Tempering:

1 tsp Oil
¼ tsp Mustard Seeds
¼ tsp Cumin Seeds
A good pinch Asafoetida
1 Red Chilli, broken into bits
7-8 Curry Leaves

Pressure cook the coriander leaves with the coconut, chilli, tamarind, salt and about 2/3 cup water. Blend in a liquidizer and bring the liquid to boil over a low flame.

In a frying ladle, heat the oil and add the cumin and mustard. When the mustard splutters, add the asafoetida, curry leaves and the red chilli. When the chilli turns bright red, add the tempering to the saar.

The flavours of this saar are familiar yet different. I know that I will make it again before vendors start rationing out coriander leaves. This saar was perfect for a very cold and gloomy afternoon. I am certain this will be a hit at any party. Thanks for a keeper recipe Mo.

Merry Christmas all of you!

December 23, 2008

Cornmeal Sprouts Salad

As part of our weekly supplies, I always brought back a packet of sprouts. I’d end up putting them in a salad or make stuff like this Ambat. When I was telling Amma about this over the phone, she was very surprised. She felt there was no reason for me to buy sprouts when I could make them without much effort at home.

The first time I made sprouts at home, my maid thought she was doing me this great favour. She put them in a box and slipped the box into the refrigerator! They had just started germinating and she probably decided enough was enough. The next time around, I made sure I kept them out of her sight. One lives, one learns!

1 cup Green Gram sprouts
1 large Cucumber, cut into discs and quartered
1 large Carrot, cut into sticks
5-6 Spring Onions, chopped
½ cup Cornmeal

For the dressing:

1 tbsp Lime Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the cornmeal in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1 cup water and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes. Allow to stand for 10 minutes. Crumble.

Place the sprouts, cucumber, carrot and spring onions in a salad bowl. Add the cornmeal.

Mix the salt and pepper with the lime juice. Pour over the salad and toss. This is a light meal by itself that serves two. I’m sending this to JFI Sprouts as well as to the MLLA #6 hosted by Sug.

December 21, 2008

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

We rarely ever have visitors. One Sunday morning, a fellow blogger dropped by for a visit. We happen to live in the same complex and after a couple of phone calls, we had an impromptu meeting. I had nothing at all to offer her or her cute two-year old. I made these muffins in a hurry. I messed up a little while mixing the batter, but the muffins turned out just fine. Although I made these for the little one, I felt that the cinnamon made them very adult-like, and that maybe vanilla might have been a better option. Swapna told me that her daughter ate an entire muffin and also added that that was a big deal. So, I think I may have a keeper recipe here even if I just threw in everything I could find.


3/4 cup Milk

1/2 cup Oil

1/2 cup Apple
½ cup Raisins

1 tsp Cinnamon Powder

2 cups Flour

1 cup Sugar

1 tbsp Baking powder

1 Egg

1/4 tsp Salt

Heat oven to 400 F. Line the muffin pans with paper liners.

Mix milk, oil, cinnamon and egg in a large bowl until well blended. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Mix only until moistened. Fill muffin cups. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Enjoy while still warm.

December 19, 2008

Penne in Tomato Sauce

I am a big fan of one dish meals and a bigger fan of pasta. For the longest time, I only ate white sauce based dishes as the tomato sauce versions almost always gave me very severe heart burn. I figured I could make tomato based sauces slightly differently at home. So, now I can make my pasta and eat it too. Just when I figured out a way to make tomato sauce that I can enjoy, S declared his undying love for the bechamel variety. So, this is one of my "once in a while" treats. Simple, easy, quick and filling.

1 cup Penne

2 tsp + 1 tsp Olive Oil
2 Onions, ground to a paste
1 tbsp Garlic Paste
3/4 cup Tomato Puree
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Basil
1 tsp Parsley
1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes
1 slice Low Fat Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the 2 tsp Oil. Add the onion and garlic pastes and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the chilli flakes, parsley, basil and oregano and fry for a minute. Add the tomato puree and allow the mixture to boil.

Boil 2 litres of water with a little salt and 1 tsp oil. Add the penne to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Drain.

Add the cheese slices to the sauce and stir briskly till it blends well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the cooked penne in the sauce and serve hot.

December 17, 2008

Gobhi Mirchi ki Sabzi

While shopping one weekend, I found a bag of large green chillies. The variety that you'd make molaga bajji or mirchi ka salan with. I was determined to make mirchi ka salan but I just didn't find the time. I didn't want to make bajjis ( I had made them once about a year ago and hope to get around to posting that sometime soon.) and so the bag just sat in my crisper. One evening, I sat in front of my open fridge and wondered what I could make for dinner. S didn't want soup. So I decided to make some dal, cook a bit of dalia and make a vegetable. I only wanted the vegetable and dal.

I saw a very pretty cauliflower and when I picked it up, I found the bag of chillies right under it. I just decided to pair the two. I had not tried the combination before, so I was a little skeptical. As it turned out, I needn't have worried at all. The chillies weren't very hot, but they lent their flavour to the cauliflower. The flavour of chillies minus the heat. Now, that doesn't happen everyday, does it? I only ate the cauliflower from this dish, but S polished it off. I know that I will make this again.

1 medium Cauliflower, cut into florets

200g Chillies (the large variety), chopped

1 tsp Oil

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder

1/4 tsp Chilli Powder

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the asafoetida. Add the cauliflower florets along with the turmeric and chilli powders and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped chillies and the salt. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

Serve as a side with rice or rotis.

December 15, 2008

Cream of Beetroot Soup

Pretty Pink! Those were my first thoughts when I poured this soup into our cups. The lighting at home is not the best suited to take pictures. As a result, any pictures I take at night are just about average. This is one of the simplest soups I've made, but it had such a lovely hue that I almost felt a little bad drinking it up.

3 medium Beetroots, peeled and diced

2 medium Carrots, peeled and diced

1 Onion, diced

1/2 cup Milk

Salt and Pepper to taste

Pressure cook the beetroots, carrots and the onion together with about 2 cups of water. Liquidize when cool. A
dd the milk and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

We enjoyed this soup with some toast. I am certain this would taste great with crackers or even just by itself. I must admit that I was rather happy just looking at it.

December 13, 2008

Mixed Dal and Dalia Cutlets

There's a huge downside to taking things other than roti-sabzi to work: we get very little for ourselves. But I'm determined to break away from that routine. It is difficult for me to eat the same kind of food on a daily basis. Moreover, we currently don't have a microwave at work. I try and pack things that taste good when cold. While sandwiches and salads are quite welcome, I figured about a year ago, that I can't eat that everyday either.

I made these cutlets a few days ago. Part of this idea came from my recent success with Paruppu Usli, part of if came from Amma's cutlets, and one part came from Nandita's bulgur patties. It was an experiment, and a successful one at that.

1/2 cup Mixed Dal, soaked for an hour

1/2 cup Dalia (Cracked Wheat), cooked

1/2 cup Mixed Vegetables(I used carrots, peas and beans), finely chopped and cooked

1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder

1 tsp Chilli Powder

1 tsp Oil + Oil for frying

Salt to taste

Grind the soaked dals to a coarse paste.

Heat the teaspoon of oil and fry this paste. Add the turmeric and chilli powders along with the salt and fry for about 4-5 minutes. Add the cooked dalia along with the vegetables. Mix well and take off the flame.

When cool, shape the mixture into cutlets. Shallow fry on a lightly greased tava until brown on both sides.

I packed this with a tomato coriander chutney. That recipe will feature here soon. I am glad I packed at least a couple of extra cutlets each. They were an instant hit at work. This recipe yielded around 12 cutlets.

I'm sending this to Sug as she hosts this month's edition of My Legume Love Affair.

December 11, 2008

Peas in Coconut Gravy

This is one dish that I thought my mother made. When I spoke to her, she said she's never made anything like it. Then I figured it must be my aunt in Bombay. She gave me two recipes, both of which didn't seem like anything close to this. Both of them individually told me that I had let my imagination go wild because I had memories of eating stuff that didn't "exist".

I made this some years ago in Bangalore. I just put in things that I thought the dish had. My friend and I ate it with rice and Dali Saar, on a cold December night. It was very nice. There was nothing left over and IMHO, that says a lot.

1 cup Peas, cooked

To be ground to a masala:
1/4 cup Coconut, scraped
2 tbsp Tamarind Paste
2-3 Red Chillies
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
Salt to Taste

For the seasoning:
1 tbsp Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves

Heat the oil in a kadhai and add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard seeds begin to splutter, add the curry leaves. Add the peas and fry them for a minute. Add the ground masala and cover and cook for 4-5 minutes more. Add a little water, depending on how runny or dry you'd like this dish to be. Serve hot with rotis or with rice and dal.

December 9, 2008

Beet Treat

One of the first things we bought as a couple was this Kenstar Food Processor. One of the (my) main reasons was that it came with a juicer. I remember making juices out of everything I could find in the fridge in the first 2 or 3 days. One day S came to me and said, "Just because we bought a juicer, you don't HAVE to juice everything." I think I was attemtping to make carrot juice that morning. I didn't make juice for a long time after that.

But recently, I picked up this Tarla Dalal book and (much to S' disgust) I make different juices every once in a while. I had all the ingredients on hand for this drink called "Beet Treat". I just had them in different proportions. Forget the flavours, the taste and the consistency (and there was nothing wrong with any of those), the colour of this drink was to die for. I thought about why I should put this recipe on my blog, but I had to get that picture in.

3 Beetroots, peeled and diced

1 Carrot, peeled and diced

2 Apples, peeled and diced

Blend all the ingredients in the juicer (or in a liquidizer and strain). Pour over ice and enjoy a glass of this first thing in the morning. This recipe makes 2 glasses and if your partner doesn't want his/her share, it could just be your lucky day!

December 7, 2008

Tomato Soup

I've talked often about "memory food". When I start cooking, my thoughts drift to the place I called home for two decades. All of Amma's vessels were part of the RevereWare collection. On a wintry night (like the ones we have every day this time of the year), I cannot help but think of Amma's large copper bottomed RevereWare Dutch Oven filled with her signature tomato soup simmering away. We'd lay the table with cups for Appa and Amma. H and I got large opalware bowls. Amma would make croutons, the fried way of course. (And she would ration them out to us.) Then she'd bring the hot pot of soup to the table. During the rains, all we ever wanted was a bowl of soup with a small blob of home made butter and loads of croutons. And then the race to see who'd get to seconds fastest. Somehow, even today, it seems like the most comforting dish in the whole world.

My picture does the soup no justice whatsoever. I still think the fried croutons and the butter give the soup part of its character, I must admit that the soup does have its own stand out on its own. Is it the soup? Is it the memory? I haven't the faintest which it is. But it doesn't matter really, does it?

1/2 kg Tomatoes, diced

2 small Carrots, peeled and diced

1 Onion, diced

2 pods Garlic

1/4 Milk, optional

1 Potato, peeled and diced

Salt and Pepper to taste

Pressure cook the vegetables and the garlic with 4 cups of water. When cool, blend in a liquidizer and strain. Bring the liquid to a boil. Add the milk, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with croutons.

To me, this is a complete meal. Others, S included, beg to differ. Maybe it is the memories that make this simple soup such a family legacy. And on this day, I am happy to have those memories. Memories of our dining table, of our home, of our family spending time with each other over dinner, of Amma dishing out one delicacy after another, before and after work, and making it seem like no work at all. To the lady who taught me so much of what I know today, about just about everything; the lady who is a phone call away when I am faced with a problem at work, an issue with my in-laws, or a major task in the kitchen; the one I have come to consider one of the best cooks there is or ever was; the one about whom Appa says, "There's some magic in her hands for sure"; to the one who is my friend first and then my mother: Happy Birthday Amma!

December 6, 2008

Apple-Cucumber Salad

I feel like a preschooler these days. I pack so many meals in different boxes every day. All in an attempt to eat healthy. While growing up, I went from lunch at 12.30 to dinner at 8, with just a glass of milk after school, at about 3.30. I was never hungry. I wasn't interested in food. College was a slightly different story. Our "lunch break" was from 10.30 to 11 and I'd go from 10.30 to 8 with just a glass of milk. I even went to work after college, and somehow never got hungry in between. These days, my story is very different. I am perennially hungry. And it doesn't help much that my colleagues seem to have food packets open all day long.

So, to help myself from indulging, I pack my breakfast and take it to work. That means that I have a fruit milk shake and coffee before I leave. I pack the "solid" part of my breakfast and eat it at work. That way I can say no to the chips or the cookies or the namkeen that are offered to me.

Regardless of what I eat for lunch, or how much I eat, I seem to be very hungry again by 5 in the evening. And again, it doesn't help much that my colleagues order
Aloo Tikki or pav bhaji or papdi chaat from a famous chaat chain nearby. So, while we've switched to soup for dinner, I try and pack a "snack" for the 5 p.m. pangs.

This salad is one of those snacks. I'd been to a friend's place for dinner when S was traveling. I insisted that I'd have only soup and she made some chickpea tagine and this salad. She had already cut the cucumber, cabbage and apple. The dressing is really what made this salad divine. And what I loved about it was that we made it up as we went. As soon as S was back, I made this. I chopped the vegetables differently and so this doesn't look as pretty as the one my friend made, but the taste was identical.

1/2 cup Cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup Cucumber, diced
1/2 cup Apple, diced
For the Dressing:
1 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Lime Juice
1 tsp Chilli Flakes
Salt to taste

Place the cabbage, apple and cucumber in a bowl. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together. Pour over the vegetables.

Voila! The salad is ready. I know that I will make this very often. It is simple to make and the flavours, sweet, spicy and sour, come together very well. And it is the perfect excuse to say no to that bag of chips.

December 2, 2008

Cherry Pancakes

Sweet beginnings. They make the journey so much better. I know that this is really the opposite of what I said here. Ending the meal with something sweet is different from a meal that is sweet to start with. Or so I believe. While I'm not the biggest fan of sweet breakfasts, I love my occasional pancake or muffin routine.

I had lost track of many events. Even those that I participated in regularly. I did manage to dig out a bag of Peterson's Triple Cherry Blend that S brought back for me last weekend. I wanted to make a cherry syrup to pour over normal pancakes, but decided to blend in the dried cherries into the pancake batter. (All of you know what must have promted that!) The taste was absolutely great.

1 cup Flour

1 tbsp Sugar

1 Egg

1 cup Milk

1/4 cup Dried Cherries

½ tsp Baking Powder

½ tsp Vanilla Essence

1 tsp Butter

A pinch of Salt

½ tsp Butter for frying

To Serve:

Maple Syrup

Beat the egg and then add milk. Gradually add the flour and the baking powder while continuing to blend. Add the sugar, salt, butter and vanilla essence and mix well. Blend in the cherries.

Heat the pan and add the butter. Coat the entire pan with the melted butter. Pour a ladleful of the batter onto the pan. Do not spread it with the ladle. Allow the batter to flow and form a circle. Cook for a minute and turn over. Cook on the other side for about half a minute and then transfer to a plate.

Repeat with the remaining batter. Stack the pancakes on a plate and serve hot with maple syrup.

I'm sending this plate to Rachel as she hosts the AFAM: Cherry.

December 1, 2008

Announcing Think Spice with Masala Arbi Fries

There are loads of spices on my kitchen shelves. Spices, herbs, condiments, spice mixes, the list is endless. But I tend to stick to the same old tried and tested spices while cooking. For ages, I've had a bottle with small packets of different spices: ajwain, shahjeera, anardana and kalonji. This bottle traveled with me from Hyderabad to Bangalore to Gurgaon. I hardly used the contents of this bottle until sometime last year. No prizes for guessing what brought that about.

I now use these different spices in my cooking and have gone beyond the usual cinnamon-clove-cardamom routine. Sometime last year, Sunita started the Think Spice event and I think I tried to participate in each edition until Kaykat chose Wasabi. Sometime around then was also when we went on vacation and my blog suffered a bit as a result of that. A few months ago (or was it a year ago?) I signed up to guest host the December edition of Think Spice. So, here I am. And my choice of spice this month is Carom.

Also known as Ajwain/Omam/Owa/Vaamu, this spice is used in many dishes. I've seen it used most with ingredients that are likely to cause flatulence as this, quite like asafoetida. So, while I've seen it being used in Oma Podi in Madras, in Gurgaon, this spice goes into pakodas and parathas. I use it in some side dishes with vegetables like potatoes or colocasia, and at times temper dal with it. So get ready to cook with carom this month.

  • Post a recipe of any kind, using the chosen spice, also, in any form you desire (seeds, powder, bark, etc). Feel free to share all your thoughts and information on the chosen spice.
  • Include a link back to this post for the benefit of your readers and future references.
  • Email me your entry with your name, a picture of your dish and the permalink of your recipe by or before the announced deadline to with the subject -Think Spice...Think Carom.
  • Non -Bloggers are also welcome to participate. Just e-mail me your entry with a picture to
  • The round ups will be posted during the first week of January.
  • Feel free to use the logo.

Here's an easy dish to get you started. This is perfect finger food. Indian style fries if you may!

1/4 kg Colocasia, peeled and quartered lengthwise

1-2 tbsp Oil, for shallow frying

1 tsp Carom seeds

1 tsp Cumin-Coriander Powder

1 tsp Chilli Powder

1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder

1/4 tsp Garam Masala

2 tsp Oil

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a frying pan and shallow fry the colocasia pieces until lightly browned. Drain on absorbent paper.

Heat the 2 teaspoons of oil in the same pan. Add the carom seeds and fry for a minute. Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, and cumin-coriander powder and fry for a minute or so. Add the fried colocasia pieces and toss well. Add the salt and the garam masala. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

Enjoy this as a snack with tea, or as finger food with drinks. It is a hit either way. Now let me enjoy this plate of fries while I start waiting for your entries to come in.

November 30, 2008

Tutti Fruity Cake

Madhurena samaapayet

Appa used to say this to us all the time. Especially on days when there was a sweet dish of some sort on the dining table. H and I would want to attack that bowl of gulab jamuns or payasam as soon as it came to the table. We would (probably) then use that as a nice excuse to not eat enough of the other stuff on the pretext that we were full. So Appa would repeat this and it is loosely translated from Sanskrit as "sweets at the end". I don't know if this really is a saying or if he created it. He'd say "shashtratulaye sollirukku" which means it is mentioned in the shastras. The shastra here could well be "Appa Neeti", but we never questioned it.

As I complete yet another month of posting once a day, I can't help but be extremely pleased with myself. The first full month recipe marathon was great. I used it more as an avenue to clean up my overflowing drafts folder. I wasn't sure I had the time for this, but I've managed. Since the NaBloPoMo this month didn't have any particular theme, I managed to kill two birds with just one stone.

This past month, I posted so much Indian food that a very dear friend asked me if I haven't "gone retro with a vengeance". I had about a week, give or take, of non Indian food. This blog (its keeper too) has no specific leanings. Italian is a favourite, but many Konkani and Tamil dishes are "memory food" if not comfort food. Gujarati food is probably my favourite Indian cuisine. Telugu cuisine is what I'm learning so I can cook some of S' favourites. All these have been represented (not equally though) this past month. My biggest passion is baking. This month didn't see as much, but it wasn't completely ignored.

In keeping with tradition, I'd like to "end with a sweet dish". The NaBloPoMo challenge and the Recipe Marathon have been perfect for me. After the last NaBloPoMo, I got so lax that I posted barely 3 posts each in August and September. October showed some signs of this blog coming back to life. And November had it so healthy that it ran a marathon. That in itself calls for a celebration.

Here's a simple cake that I baked for my SIL's son when S was traveling to Hyderabad. I used butter in my cake after ages. (There's no reason why a 3 year old should be denied the goodness of butter!)

1 cup Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 cup Butter

1/2 cup Sugar

2 Eggs

1/4 cup Tutti Fruity (or any chopped dry fruits)

Preheat the oven to 325F. Prepare a loaf tin or an 8-inch cake tin.

Sift the flour with the baking powder. Add the butter, sugar, and eggs. Beat well for 2-3 minutes. Blend in the tutti fruity.

Spoon this into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and serve with some ice cream for dessert. Or simply enjoy the cake with a glass of milk.

On the last day of the marathon, do check out what's cooking at Siri, Srivalli, Ranji, PJ, Curry Leaf, Medha, Priya, Bhawna, Raaji, Ruchii, Anu, Kamala, Roopa, Divya Kudua, Rekha, Divya M, Lakshmi, Lakshmi Venkatesh , Sripriya, Viji, Kamalika, Pavani, Karuna and Roochi.

November 29, 2008

Crumb Tossed Vegetables

We've switched to having soups for dinner. Since we have dinner quite late (given our very hectic evening schedule tha includes the gym), this is an attempt to cut down the amount of carbohydrates that we eat at night. Actually, it is an attempt to cut down on rice. Since I have about 15-30 minutes on any day to make dinner before we rush to the gym, I end up making rice. I don't have the patience to come back from the gym and start rolling chapatis. (I don't have the patience to roll chapatis even if I've rested all day and have the entire evening to just make chapatis.) I decided to make some soup and a side dish. I made Amma's famous tomato soup, some chilli soya, and this. The meal was more than just filling.

1/2 cup Broccoli florets

1/2 cup Cauliflower florets

1/2 cup Carrots, diced

2-3 tbsp Bread Crumbs

1 tbsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Chilli Flakes

1/2 tsp Parsley

1/2 tsp Basil

1/2 tsp Roasted Garlic

Salt to Taste

Place the carrots, broccoli and cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle a little water over the vegetables and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the chili flakes, parsley, garlic and basil. Add the cooked vegetables and the salt. Toss well and cook for a minute or two. Add the bread crumbs and toss again. Transfer this to a lightly greased baking dish and bake for 10 minutes.

I'm sending this over to TC as she hosts this month's edition of JFI. Check out :
Siri, Srivalli, Ranji, PJ, Curry Leaf, Medha, Priya, Bhawana, Raaji, Ruchii, Anu, Kamala, Roopa, Divya Kudua, Rekha, Divya M, Lakshmi, Lakshmi Venkatesh , Sripriya, Viji, Kamalika, Pavani, Karuna and Roochi.

November 28, 2008

Crispy Vegetable Casserole

There's something about one dish meals that appeals to lazy human beings like myself. They're not always simple or easy, but at least the effort doesn't need to be multiplied over several dishes. And over the years, my reliance on these one dish meals has only increased. A day has only so many hours and I'm willing to spend only so much of that time cooking meals. I made this casserole quite a while ago and it took me many many months to post it. But I am certain that I will make this often in winter when a hot meal is needed on the table as quickly as possible.

1/2 cup Flour

2 Eggs, beaten

3/4 cup Milk

2 tsp Mustard

2 tbsp Oil

For the topping:

2 tbsp Butter

2 -3 Garlic Pods, crushed

1 Onion, cut into eighths

2 Carrots, cut into 2-3" pieces

1/2 cup Beans, cut into 2-3" pieces

1/4 cup Sweet Corn

1/4 cup Broccoli florets

1/4 cup Mushroom, sliced

2 Tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 tsp Mustard

1 tbsp Mixed Herbs

1 tsp Chilli Flakes

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Sift the flour and salt together. Add the beaten eggs, mustard and milk and make a smooth batter. Keep aside.

Pour the oil into a baking dish and place the dish in a preheated oven at 400F for 10 minutes.

Cook the carrots, beans, and broccoli in the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes.

In the meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and saute the onion and garlic. Add the mushroom, corn, and tomatoes along with the mustard, herbs and chilli flakes. Add the carrots, beans and broccoli and mix well.

Remove the dish from the oven and pour in the batter. Top with the vegetable mixture and place he dish back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

This is like a large vegetable pancake and makes for a light dinner for two. A one dish meal is what I have today. What do my friends have? Check out: DK , Siri, Srivalli, Ranji, PJ, Curry Leaf, Medha, Priya, Bhawna, Raaji, Ruchii, Anu, Kamala, Roopa, Divya Kudua, Rekha, Divya M, Lakshmi, Lakshmi Venkatesh , Sripriya, Viji, Kamalika, DK, and Pavani to find out for yourselves.

November 27, 2008

Butter Garlic Vegetables

I love eating out. I am a food blogger and most people somehow expect that I am against "eating out". Quite the contrary. I am about the laziest person you'll ever meet and will jump at the first opportunity to not do something. Cooking included!

My favourite kind of food when I'm eating out is Continental. And at some places, they serve some lovely veggies on the side, especially with sizzlers. I think that I order those dishes just for the sides. I attempted recreating the side dish at home not as a side dish, but as one of the 3 meals that we carry to work on most days.

Browsing the intranet for food related articles, I found an article that talked about cooking vegetables. I usually cook all vegetables together in the microwave or in the pressure cooker. But I liked this method that talked about varying lengths of cooking for time for different vegetables. This way vegetables like broccoli don't get totally disintegrated. I didn't save a link to that post and it is easily over a year since I made this dish. It has been languishing in my drafts for the longest time.

8-10 Baby Potatoes, peeled

15-20 French Beans, strung

2 Carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch strips

8-10 Broccoli florets

1 tbsp Butter

1/2 tbsp Garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp Chilli Flakes

Salt to Taste

In a large pan/vessel, take around 2 litres of water. Add the baby potatoes and bring to a boil. When the water boils, add the beans. After about 3 minutes, add the carrots. When the carrots are slightly soft (not mushy), turn off the flame and add the broccoli. Drain after 2 minutes and plunge the vegetables in ice cold water. Drain and keep aside.

In a pan, heat the butter and add the chilli flakes and garlic. After a minute, add the vegetables and salt. Toss until coated.

Intended as a side, I can eat this dish just as it is. And as always, I love the fact that it looks like a rainbow. Nothing like some healthy food for a healthy lifestyle, not to forget good exercise. Check out the blogs of these marathon runners:

1) DK
2) Siri
3) Srivalli
4) Ranji
6)Curry Leaf
15)Divya Kudua
17)Divya M

19)Lakshmi Venkatesh




23) Pavani

November 26, 2008

Basil Walnut Pesto

I have experimented with several types of pesto. A few years ago, I hadn't tasted it. Now, it features quite regularly on our menu. While at one time I thought of it as a mere pasta sauce, I now use it as a salad dressing, as a spread for garlic toast, as a dip. What I love about pesto is how the flavour changes with each ingredient. This walnut pesto is a favourite with small bites of garlic bread.

1 cup Basil Leaves

1/3 cup Walnuts, toasted

4-5 pods Garlic

5 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Grind together all the ingredients to a coarse paste. You may pound them in a pestle if you wish. Add the olive oil a little by little to facilitate the grinding.

Store in an airtight container. You could use this in many ways. As a pasta sauce or salad dressing. Check out little bites of toast at my namesake's blog. While you're at it, do check out the blogs of other marathon runners as well: DK , Siri, Srivalli, Ranji, PJ, Curry Leaf, Medha, Priya, Bhawna, Raaji, Ruchii, Kamala, Roopa, Divya Kudua, Rekha, Divya M, Lakshmi, Lakshmi Venkatesh , Sripriya, Viji, Kamalika, DK, and Pavani

November 25, 2008

Broccoli Corn Bake

Laks and I were chatting a long long time ago about casseroles and I realized I hadn't made a casserole in ages. Somewhere during that conversation I remembered the Broccoli, Corn and Mushroom Bake I had at Red E or Stop at Sams (a diner that, sadly, doesn't exist anymore). When I have no bread at home to go with the bake, I tend to add pasta and make it a meal. So while I was talking to her, I decided what our dinner would be. It had to be a casserole. There weren't any mushrooms at home (there almost never are in summer!) so I went ahead with broccoli and corn.

1 cup Spirali Pasta, cooked according to the instructions on the pack
1/2 cup Broccoli florets, steamed
1/4 cup Sweet Corn, steamed
1 tbsp Butter/Olive Oil
1 tbsp Flour
1 cup Milk
1/2 tsp Parsley
1/2 tsp Basil
1 tsp Chilli flakes
1/2 tsp Garlic Paste
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 slice Low Fat Cheese (optional)

1 tsp Butter to grease the baking dish

3 tbsp Bread Crumbs

Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the garlic paste, parsley, basil and chilli flakes and fry for another minute. Add the flour and fry without browning the flour. Add the milk and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring continuously. If adding cheese, add it at this point and stir the sauce well. As the sauce thickens, add the salt and pepper. Stir in the broccoli, corn and pasta.

Grease a baking dish with the teaspoon of butter. Pour in the white sauce-pasta mixture. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the mixture and bake in a hot oven (400F) for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

As I go continental this week, see what my friends are doing: DK , Siri, Srivalli, Ranji, PJ, Curry Leaf, Medha, Priya, Bhawna, Raaji, Ruchii, Anu, Kamala, Roopa, Divya Kudua, Rekha, Divya M, Lakshmi, Lakshmi Venkatesh , Sripriya, Viji, Kamalika, DK, and Pavani.

November 24, 2008

Knol Khol (Kohlrabi) Thuvayal

One of the benefits of being an adult is that one gets to do what one wants. I apply this logic to my eating habits. So, while my upbringing made me eat all vegetables without as much as twitching my nose, there are vegetables that I promptly forgot about when I set up my "own" kitchen almost 10 years ago. This year, it seems like I am trying out new vegetables with a vengeance. I also discovered thuvayals sometime this year. More like rediscovered really. And I also figured that the easiest way for me to "like" a vegetable that I didn't see eye to eye with for the past 3 decades is to make a thuvayal (or thogayal) with it.

Kohlrabi has started making its appearance in markets here. Knol khol in Tamil and Gaanth Gobi in Hindi, I had no reason to ever like this vegetable. I think I had this aversion to all vegetables that look like this: Tinda and Chayote Squash being part of the same family for this purpose. I bought 3 of these last week because they were so fresh and they were really calling out to me. Amma suggested that I make it like this. But I wasn't sure if I was ready to come really face to face with this vegetable yet. A standard karumadhu does nothing to mask the taste of any vegetable that features in it. She also suggested putting into a kurma. I had not the patience to chop that many vegetables. She then went on to ask me why I bought them if I didn't want to eat them at all. (How could I explain to her that I was just keeping my resolve? I've never resolved to do much, and on the rare occasions that I have, I've not kept the resolve for long.) Anyway, I ended up making this thuvayal.

1 cup Kohlrabi, peeled and diced
2 tsp Oil
3-4 Red Chillies
2 tsp Urad Dal
1/2 tbsp Tamarind paste
Salt to taste

For the tempering:
1 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Urad Dal
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves

Heat one teaspoon of oil in a pan and add the diced vegetable. Saute for a couple of minutes and cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Keep aside.

In a small pan, heat the other teaspoon of oil and add the urad dal. When it turns slightly brown, add the red chillies and fry for a minute. Grind this along with the tamarind paste, salt, and sauteed vegetable.

In a frying ladle, heat the oil for the tempering. Add the urad dal and mustard. When the mustard splutters, add the asafoetida and curry leaves. Add this to the ground paste.

As we come near the finish line, see what my fellow marathoners are up to: Siri, Srivalli, Ranji, PJ, Curry Leaf, Medha, Priya, Bhawna, Raaji, Ruchii, Anu, Kamala, Roopa, Divya Kudua, Rekha, Divya M, Lakshmi, Lakshmi Venkatesh , Sripriya, Viji, Kamalika, Pavani, Karuna and Roochi.

November 23, 2008

Palak Raita

I have no idea how I learnt this dish. Or where. Or who from. But I have been making this regularly ever since I figured that spinach could be used this way. I made this yesterday and S said I hadn't made this since we got married. I will be making this more often through this winter when spinach is available in plenty.

1 bunch Spinach, cleaned

1 cup Curd, beaten lightly

1/4 tsp Ginger paste (optional)

1/4 tsp Cumin Powder

Salt to taste

For the tempering:

1 tsp Oil

1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

2 Red Chillies, broken

Place the cleaned spinach in a microwave safe bowl and cook for 4-5 minutes. Cool and chop roughly.

Add this to the beaten curd along with the salt, ginger (if using) and cumin powder.

In a frying ladle, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the red chillies. After a minute turn off the flame and pour the tempering over the spinach-curd mixture.

With a little over a week of the marathon left, check out these blogs: Siri, Srivalli, Ranji, PJ, Curry Leaf, Medha, Priya, Bhawna, Raaji, Ruchii, Anu, Kamala, Roopa, Divya Kudua, Rekha, Divya M, Lakshmi, Lakshmi Venkatesh , Sripriya, Viji, Kamalika, Pavani, Karuna and Roochi.

November 22, 2008

Thengai Sevai

As a child, I was not in the habit of eating "tiffin" after school. Amma never bothered making any after school snacks for us as we were barely interested in food. All we wanted to do was dump our bags at home and go out to play until our respective curfew times. Also, instant sevai was not popular three decades ago, if it did exist then, that is. Amma would make sevai from scratch on weekends and we looked forward to those days. (And we took turns "twisting the press".) This is one of my favourite snacks and I love taking it in my lunchbox every now and then. Not as much effort as back then, you see!

2 cups Concorde Instant Rice Sevai

1/4 cup Coconut, scraped
Salt to taste

For the tempering:
1 tsp Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves
1/4 tsp Urad Dal
3 Red Chillies

1 tbsp Cashews (optional)

Prepare the rice sevai as per instructions on the pack and keep aside.

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the urad dal. When the urad dal begins to change colour, add the mustard and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves, red chillies and cashews (if using). Add the coconut and fry for a couple of minutes. Turn off the flame.

Add this to the prepared sevai along with the salt. Mix well taking care not to mash the sevai. This is good as a snack for 4 people.

Check out : Siri, Srivalli, Ranji, PJ, Curry Leaf, Medha, Priya, Bhawana, Raaji, Ruchii, Anu, Kamala, Roopa, Divya Kudua, Rekha, Divya M, Lakshmi, Lakshmi Venkatesh , Sripriya, Viji, Kamalika, Pavani, Karuna and Roochi.

November 21, 2008

Capsicum Paruppu Usli

About 2 months
ago, I had not attemped to make paruppu usli. I always thought it was one of those labour intensive dishes. And I had eaten just three types of paruppu usli: Beans, Cluster Beans and Vazhaippoo (Banana Flower). Last year, when I posted Stuffed Capsicum on this blog, my other namesake had this to say in her comments:

"my mom makes a variation of this where she stuffs the capsicum with capsicum paruppu usli and then sprinkles rava on top and bakes it. The rava gives the crunchy layer and the capsicum is fabulous!"

I knew that I would try this out sometime. I love paruppu usli and I love capsicum. So what's not to love about a dish that has both? I don't think Arundathi has blogged about it yet, and so I asked her for the recipe, and modified it a little. This was part of the Dasara spread at my place that included avial, puliyodarai, tayir vadai, sundal, and semia payasam.

1/2 cup Toor Dal, soaked for 2 hours

1/2 cup Capsicum, chopped

2-3 Red Chillies

1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

Salt to taste

1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds

7-8 Curry Leaves

2 tsp Oil

Grind the soaked dal and the red chillies to a coarse paste and mix it with the turmeric powder, asafoetida and salt. Steam this mixture in a cooker for 10 minutes. Crumble when cool.

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the curry leaves and the capsicum. Fry for 4-5 minutes. Add the steamed dal mixture.

Cover and cook for another 5 minutes over a low flame. I served this with a multitude of dishes and it was good for 4. On a normal day, it would probably be enough as a side dish for 2 people.

I'm sending this to dear Sug for the second edition of Vegan Ventures.

You could follow Arundathi's mother's method as well. The next time we have a party at home, I'm quite sure I will. In the meanwhile, here's some food for thought: Siri, Srivalli, Ranji, PJ, Curry Leaf, Medha, Priya, Bhawna, Raaji, Ruchii, Anu, Kamala, Roopa, Divya Kudua, Rekha, Divya M, Lakshmi, Lakshmi Venkatesh , Sripriya, Viji, Kamalika, Pavani,
Karuna and Roochi.