January 27, 2008

Mixed Vegetable Poha

Poha is one of favourite breakfasts. And I make it quite often, not just for breakfast, but for dinner as well. And I add as many vegetables as I possibly can while making it. Potatoes were a standard in the one Amma made. My Mami added peas to it. I add whatever I can lay my hands on. I love eating colourful stuff and the addition of a variety of vegetables results in a rainbow like dish and I kind of love it. Many months ago, I was looking at one of Nandita’s videos and I saw her add soya granules to her poha. Then Rajitha came up with soy as the ingredient for this month’s WBB. I thought about the various ways in which I could sneak in soya in a breakfast dish. I thought about a banana shake with soy milk. I thought about soya beans in gravy to go along with toast. But I remembered that I had a packet of Soy Day granules. So in that went into my poha on a chilly morning. I made a very heavy breakfast so that I could do with something light for lunch.

1 cup Beaten Rice (Poha)
1/3 cup Soy granules
1 Carrot, cut finely
3 Spring Onions, chopped
2 tbsp Corn
2 tbsp Peas
1 tsp Oil
¼ tsp Cumin Seeds
¼ tsp Mustard Seeds
¼ tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1 Green Chilli, slit
Salt to taste

Wash the beaten rice and drain it. Add the salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder and keep aside.

Soak the soy granules in water (or prepare them as per the instructions on the pack. I use Soy Day as the effort involved from my side is minimal. It soaks in ordinary water.)

Heat the oil in a kadhai and add the mustard, cumin and the asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the green chilli and the spring onion whites. Add the curry leaves and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the carrots, peas and corn. Add some salt and then cover and cook for a few minutes. Add the beaten rice and soy granules. Garnish with the spring onion greens. Enjoy this as soon as it is made.

Off this goes to Rajitha in celebration of Soy this month.

Light Fruit Cake to celebrate

Not many can have a father
Who’s half as great as you.
Others might try, but they fall shy
You’re a top-notch father, it’s true.
So that’s why on your birthday,
I want to make sure you know,
I admire your sincerely and love you dearly,
And those feelings continue to grow.

I came across this wonderful poem on a site called and this poem was penned by Karl and Joanna Fuchs. And I could relate to the emotion. I am in Chennai to celebrate, among other things, Appa's birthday. I owe this man a great deal. He has always stood behind me in everything I've wanted to do. Pushed me to excel in just about everything I did. And as far as helping me hone my culinary skills, while he always maintained that he can "boil water without burning it", he has been a willing guinea pig. The man who ate semia upma and told his then 13 year old daughter it was delicious. Much later I realized that I'd used twice the amount of water I should have. A lot of my initial cooking happened when Amma was out of town and that meant that H and Appa were left to my "raj". While on the face of it, he may have thought I don't really care about his likes and dislikes, one word of appreciation from him can put me on cloud nine for a long long time. And so, while I didn't exactly learn any cooking from him, he taught me a lot.

I baked a cake late last night ans brought it with me this morning. The first thing we did after entering the house was to have him blow off the candle and cut the cake.

1 cup Raisins
1 cup Apricots
1 cup Figs
1/2 cup Sultanas
1/4 cup Currants
1/4 cup Dates
1/4 cup Candied Peel
1/4 cup Glace Cherries
1 cup White Wine
1 cup Dark Rum
3 cups Flour
1 cup Oil
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1/2 tsp Nutmeg Powder
1/4 tsp Clove Powder
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Sugar

Soak the dry fruits for at least 2 days in the white wine and rum along with the spice powders.

Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Prepare two 8" cake tins.

Sift the dry ingredients. Add the oil and sugar and beat well. Add the beaten eggs with the essence and then fold in the flour mixture. Stir in the fruits along with the liquid and then divide the batter into the cake tins. Bake for 45 minutes.

As India celebrates her Republic Day, we celebrate the other occasion that makes the 26th of January ever so special. Happy Birthday Appa!

Incidentally, this is my 200th post. I can't believe I've reached a double century. It is thanks to all of you.

January 24, 2008

Vegetable Stew

I have never learnt to make any Mallu (Keralite) food. Maybe it was because I had easy access to it whenever I wanted. The only things I think I attempted to make were the Kadala Curry and Egg Curry after inspiration from Sig. There's a lot of stuff that I make that is so similar to Keralite food. My everyday upkari becomes a thoran in Kerala. I could pass off my proper Iyengar avial as a Keralite dish. But to me these foods are not typical of the only state in southern India that I am not connected to directly. (Being someone from Karnataka and Tamilnadu, I'm married to someone from Andhra Pradesh!) These are foods that I have grown up eating and can hence only think of them as Konkani or Tamil, however similar they may be.

Stew is quite another story. I can't remember where I first had it. But I remember licking my lips as I placed in my mouth the last piece of appam soaked with the remnants of the stew in my bowl. And I remember that taste as so distinctly Keralite. I have made this quite often and I used to take it to my uncle after my aunt passed away. It was the last dish I took to him on my way to work. I made this yesterday for the first time since then.

1 cup Coconut Milk
1 tsp Oil
1 cup Mixed Vegetables (Potatoes, Carrots, Beans, Cauliflower and Peas), boiled
1/2 cup Onions, sliced
7-8 Curry Leaves
8-10 Pepper Corns
1 Cardamom Pod (optional)
1" stick Cinnamon
3 Cloves
2 Green Chillies, slit
Salt to taste

Heat the oil and add the curry leaves and onions. Add the cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns (and cardamom, if using) and the green chillies. Fry these for a few minutes. Add the boiled vegetables and the coconut milk along with a little water. Add the salt and mix well. Crush some of the potatoes to thicken the stew. Allow it to thicken and then take off the flame.

I love stew with appams, but figured that it tastes great with rice too. Off this goes to Jyothsna of Curry Bazaar for this month's RCI - Kerala.

January 23, 2008

Fruit Cookies

One of the books that I picked up recently was The Cookie Book. It has over 300 recipes. I tried a few muffin recipes from this book, but wanted really to make cookies. I think what put me off was the 6 letter word I found in almost each recipe: butter! I finally decided to bring the butter out from the deep freeze and put it to use. I'd promised my team some baked goodies to celebrate a mini milestone. So, I thought, why not??

These chewy cookies are a real treat and considering how many cookies I got (roughly 50), I felt the 1/2 cup butter was understandable. When I see 1/2 cup, I feel like the entire 1/2 cup is going into one cookie and I think that's what puts me off. I modifed the recipe that I found in the basics section of the book. I remembered Anita asking me to try cookies with half and half (flour and wheat)

1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, softened

3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour or Atta

3/4 cup Flour

1/2 cup Sugar

1 Egg, beaten

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

1 cup Candied Fruit Bits (Papaya, Pineapple, Mango, Apricots)

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

Beat the sugar and the butter until fluffy and add the essence and the egg and mix well. Fold in the flours and
gently stir the fruits in.

Grease a cookie sheet and drop spoonfuls of the dough on to the sheet. Leave ample space in between each cookie.

Bake for 10 - 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and then store in an air tight container.

Off this goes to Nags of For the Cook in Me who is hosting this month’s A Fruit A Month event. I even bought a raw papaya to make something savoury, but the baker in me took over.

January 21, 2008

Piyava Baje (Onion Fritters)

Every once in a while, I make something that is deep fried. As an afternoon snack on a weekend. As an accompaniment to a meal when I don't feel like making a vegetable. But the times are few and far between. So, when we do have something like this, it is truly a treat.

This is something I grew up with. The occasional Sunday lunch was accompanied by stuff like this
. I made this many months ago as part of lunch as I was too lazy to make a side dish. I have been meaning to post it since and I discovered it in my drafts just today. In time for the Jihva For Ingredients: Onion being hosted by Radhika of Radhi's kitchen.

1 cup Onions, sliced
1 tsp Green Chilli paste
1 tsp Ginger paste
1/2 cup Gram flour (Besan)
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Heat the oil in a kadhai.

In a vessel, mix all the other ingredients together without adding any water. Drop spoonfuls of this mixture into the hot oil and fry till reddish brown.

Drain on absorbent paper and serve with tomato ketchup or with some rice and dal.

In addition to sending this to the JFI event, I am also sending this to Mansi for her game night party event.

January 18, 2008

Green Salad

We switched to having salads for lunch in the new year. But we didn't stick to it for more than a week. The reason being the variety of vegetables in the market. I love cauliflower and spinach. I absolutely love methi. Once this season passes, I'll be left to deal with piles of gourds and lady's finger and brinjal. We're eating healthy, but it's not all just salad. Here's one that I'd made a few days ago.

I got fresh green chana in the market and decided to make this salad. I followed a process similar to the Middle Eastern Salad.

1 cup Green Chana (Harbhara/Chhollia)
2 Carrots, sliced
1 bunch Spring Onions, chopped
1 Cucumber, cut in quarters
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
3 tbsp Lime Juice
1 tsp Yellow Mustard
1 tsp Maple Syrup
1 Red Capsicum, sliced
1 stalk Celery, chopped

Mix all the vegetables with the chickpeas in a large salad bowl. Add the salt and pepper. Mix the maple syrup and mustard along with the lime juice and pour over the salad. Toss gently. Enjoy it right away or chill it for about 30 minutes.

I'm going to look forward to having more salads in summer when spending time in the kitchen won't exactly be something to get excited about.

January 13, 2008

Strawberry Muffins

Ever since I saw Sharmi's post on Strawberry Muffins, I wanted to make my own. I had to wait for the lovely berries to be in season before I could try them out. So, I tried variations. I found great success with almond raisin muffins and the black currant raisin muffins both of which were variations of Sharmi's Strawberry Muffins.

Now, strawberries are in season. And we have been buying them regularly. I made these with the first batch that we brought home this year. I found a recipe for raspberry muffins in one of the books that I acquired last month. This was a low fat recipe. I was quite thrilled. It also wasn't very sweet. It fit perfectly in with our plans and I substituted half of the flour with atta and was very happy with the result. I suppose these muffins would go very well with some butter and jam, but I didn't have time to experiment. We sampled only two of these and the rest went as a housewarming gift to a friend. I also used half the batter to bake a cake to take to the party.

This is a very simple recipe.

1 cup Strawberries, chopped
1 1/4 cup Flour
1 1/4 cup Atta or Whole Wheat Flour
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 cup Sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp Oil
1 cup Buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Prepare the muffin pan by greasing or placing muffin cases.

Sift the dry ingredients together. Mix the buttermilk and oil and add the egg. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until it all comes together. Add the strawberries and spoon the mixture into the muffin pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

One of my nieces turns 18 today and she is probably the only one I actually watched growing up. Kind of right in front of me. When she was about 3 or 4 years old, she saw me putting on some lipstick and asked me to put some on for her too. I told her she was too young. She, almost never seeing that there was an age difference between the two of us, asked me how I got to do it when she didn't. I told her, "When you turn 18, you can too." These muffins go out to her as she turns into a young woman. I also sent her some top of the line L'Oreal stuff and she is excited like no other kid I've seen. Happy Birthday Kalyani. My friend, Muly, also celebrates her birthday today and will be extremely happy to have a couple of these. Happy Birthday Amulya!

This recipe is supposed to make 12 muffins, but I almost always get around 18 with most recipes. I think it has to do with the size of my muffin cups. So, I made 9 muffins and converted the remaining batter into a cake. I topped the cake with some left over fruits and nuts from my New Year Cake and when it was baked, I melted about 2 teaspoons of jam and poured it over the cake as a glaze. The cake continues to be low fat as the batter is the same. But it is loaded with dry fruits and nuts. And the jam glaze gave it additional flavour. It wasn't exactly a pretty, decorated cake. Everyone knows how brilliant I am when it comes to decorating cakes. So, we won't go down that path now. This cake goes to the wonderful woman who also celebrates her birthday today. The one who tells us what to eat, what not to eat and also tells us why. The one who never fails to impress upon us the importance of eating right. Starting from our first big meal of the day: breakfast. As I got to know her a few months back, it turned out we had loads in common. Eventually, I figured I knew her husband's family for almost as long as I've been alive and the two families go back 3 generations. We had a two hour chat session that freaked us out. We got on the phone soon after to continue our journey of discovery. A month before that day, I didn't know this girl. And suddenly, we were chatting like long lost friends. We have still not met each other, but I would count her as one of my very good friends. It is thanks to her that I started this blog. I am so glad to have found this friend. It is through her that I have met all of you. Nandita: Here's wishing you a very happy birthday!

January 11, 2008

Mor Kazhi and Menthi Kuzhambu

There are favourites and then there are favourites... and then there's mor kazhi. While we were kids, lunch was always rice, sambar, rasam, curd and a vegetable. Sometimes the sambar became dali saar and we had a konkani meal complete with a masla randeyi. And at other times, we had plain dal and avial or mor kuzhambu. On other days we had menthi kuzhambu.

Known as Vathal Kuzhambu (or Vatha Kuzhambu) in many households, I think that Menthi Kuzhambu or Vendhaya Kuzhambu is one of those dishes that leaves you licking your fingers. At our home, this is traditionally made with brinjal, lady's finger or yam. My Iyer friends make it with shallots, pumpkin and even radish. I make it with just about anything I can lay my hands on. I have even made a version of this with garlic. My father had once told me, "If you want to make me happy, learn to make menthi kuzhambu for me" and I (thinking it was too much trouble) said, "It's OK with me if you're not that happy... let's have paruppu kuzhambu". Now, I know better!

On days when we had Menthi Kuzhambu for lunch, we tried to have mor kazhi for dinner. The combination is simply superb. I made this for dinner last week and I'd also made some rice just in case S doesn't like this mor kazhi of mine. But the rice was eaten about two days later.

Menthi Kuzhambu


1 Radish, sliced
1 tbsp Vathal (Sundaikkai, Cluster Beans or Manathakkali - optional)
1-2 Red Chillies
1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Asafoetida
1 tbsp Toor Dal
2 tbsp Tamarind Paste
1 tsp Oil
7-8 Curry Leaves
1 tbsp Sambar Powder
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a vessel and add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, toor dal, vathal and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves and the chillies. Add the radish and fry for a minute. Add the sambar powder and fry for another minute. Add the tamarind paste, salt and a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the radish is cooked.

My friend Preeti suggested that I cook the vegetable in the sambar itself. She also suggested that I use gingelly or sesame oil while making this type of sambar. So, while a lot of how I cook comes from Amma, these are two things I remember while making this.

Mor Kazhi is probably one of my favourite snacks. I don't know how many things I am allowed to count as favourites. Instead of waiting for leftover Menthi Kuzhambu, I decided to make both items fresh. My very first attempt at making mor kazhi was a success. I think I'll experiment with different flours from now on too.


1 cup Flour

1/2 cup Rice Flour

4 cups Buttermilk

1 tsp Chilli Paste

1 tsp Ginger Paste

1/4 cup Coriander, chopped

1 tbsp Lime Juice

2 tbsp Oil

1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

1/4 tsp Urad Dal

1/4 tsp Chana Dal (optional)

2 Red Chillies

7-8 Curry Leaves

Salt to taste

Mix the flours with the buttermilk and add the coriander leaves along with the ginger and chilli pastes. Add the salt and the lime juice and mix until well blended.

In a kadhai, heat the oil and add the urad and chana dals, mustard and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the red chillies and the curry leaves. After a minute, add the buttermilk-flour mixture and mix well and remove any lumps. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.

Serve hot with menthi kuzhambu. I am told that there are several ways in which mor kazhi is served. Cut into squares, made into balls. I would love to try this out in all the different ways it is made. I have only eaten this at home and only in this manner. And I love it.

January 8, 2008

Potato Gnocchi in Garlic Butter Sauce

A houseful of guests. And then an empty nest. We weren't exactly "relieved" to come home to an empty house. We weren't exactly feeling terrible about it. Mixed feelings would best describe what we felt on the evening of the 31st of December. Almost two months of having guests at home made us "get used to" the idea of having more than just us in the house. And at times I felt as though everyone should have just stayed on till New Year's and celebrated the end of the two month long party that started around Diwali.

We had no plans for New Year's Eve. We were not sure about what to do and where to go. I was at work the entire day and just wanted to get back home as soon as possible. The roads felt like all of Delhi was heading to Gurgaon to party. And I didn't want to be stuck somewhere on the road from Delhi to Gurgaon. Thankfully, we reached in about the same time that we normally take. I wished my colleague a happy new year and rushed home in the biting cold.

S had requested Italian food. I thought about a lot of things. And then decided to make it special. I had seen a recipe for lasagne on the net and I can't remember exactly where. So, the "Italian" bit fit really well into the evening's plans. I also wanted to make some sort of finger food. We had some bottles of fruit wine stashed away and cheese is usually what we love with our wine. But I thought there'd be too much cheese, what with the lasagne and all that. So, I made some gnocchi instead.

For the gnocchi:

1 cup Potato, boiled and mashed

3 tbsp Flour

Salt to taste

1 tsp Salt and 1 tbsp Olive Oil for boiling the pasta

For the Garlic Butter Sauce:

2 tbsp Garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp Chilli Flakes

1 tsp Mixed Herbs

1 tbsp Butter

1 tsp Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Knead the potato, flour and salt lightly into a dough. Make small balls of this dough and flatten them using a fork. Boil plenty of water and add the salt and olive oil. Drop these flattened rounds into the water and remove them when they come to the surface. Drain completely and keep aside.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic, chilli flakes and herbs. Add the cooked gnocchi and the salt and pepper. Toss around a little and take off the flame.

I really didn't think I'd pull off something quite as fancy as a cozy candlelight dinner for two. I actually set the table, got the candles out, lit them. Poured the wine into the glasses and had everything ready before S returned from the boys' party at his boss' place.

It was an evening to remember. OK, the lasagne got burnt a little, but so what? In my opinion, it beat any party that we were invited to and didn't attend. No hotel, restaurant or pub could have given us a better deal.

I'm sending this to Sunita for her monthly event Think Spice - Think Garlic.

January 7, 2008

Cream of Carrot Soup

Year after year, my summer vacation was a 50 day affair. Starting on the first Sunday in May and ending on the last Sunday in June. The routine never changed. Except for the summer of '92. I had just taken my Class 10 exams and was free from the 14th of March. And school was not to resume until July. Three and a half months. It was the summer of several firsts. I attended shorthand classes that summer. I learnt tailoring from my aunt. I discovered a very different world that existed only for me. One that I entered everyday almost as soon as Amma left for work. The world of exotic and ordinary cooking. The world of Tarla Dalal.

Amma is one of ten children and the youngest of eight sisters. Her eldest sister had come to spend the summer with us. This aunt was married even before Amma was born. Many of my friends mistook her to be my grandmother and my aunt and I always joked that she was old enough to be my mother's mother and so there was nothing wrong if people thought she was my grandmother. This aunt was my partner in crime that summer. The very first day of my vacation, I wanted to make soup. She tried to tell me that it would be a waste as Amma had already made lunch. (As an IIT campus family, we all came home for lunch from school, work etc. and then went right back.) She also told me that when someone comes home on such a tight schedule, it is hard enough to eat a three course meal, let alone have soup first.

After much convincing, I agreed to make soup on a Saturday. It was a hit. After that, I started making a different soup each night for dinner. In between sessions of Rummy and endless TV watching (without any cable), I'd start making soup for dinner. My aunt was extremely fond of food. And I, of cooking. So we made a great pair and I think that was one of the factors that led to the summer of '92 being as enjoyable as it was. I learnt to make pakodas and some other amchi food. I also tried my hand at pani puri and bhel puri and made her the guinea pig. She wasn't the type who'd say something was good if it wasn't. So, if she said something was good, then you could bet all your money that it would be. She put up with my first attempt at handmade lasagne, navaratan korma and even enjoyed my black forest cake.

It was during this time that I learnt to make Carrot soup. I have modified the recipe over the years, but each time I make it, it turns out just fine. The recipe (found in one of Tarla Dalal's initial books) calls for English carrots, but I love the colour that the local carrots impart. And with most of my recipes, this one has also been tweaked.

6 large Carrots, chopped

2 Onions, diced

4 cloves Garlic

1 Potato, diced

1 cup Milk

Salt, Pepper and Mixed Herbs to taste

Pressure cook the carrots, onions, potato and garlic with about 2-3 cups of water. Cool and blend in a liquidizer.
Bring the mixture to a boil over low heat and stir in the milk. Add the salt, pepper and herbs and simmer for five minutes. Serve with warm toasted bread.

The 12th of January would have been my aunt's 90th birthday had she been with us. She departed last Saturday night. I will miss her for sure. But I think I had already started missing her over the past few years as she slipped into the illnesses that old age often brings. Her love for food, people and gossip is something I will fondly remember. Her affair with the "good things" in life took her all over the world, into the homes and hearts of many. Her generosity is something that has ensured she will be remembered for a long time. Not many people give away what they have with abandon.

Dearest Ramapachi: For touching lives in a way that only you could have, for love given unconditionally, for a life fully lived, I will always remember you.

January 5, 2008

Cheese Muffins

After having tried several kinds of sweet muffins, I wanted to try something savoury. And without knowing what proportions to use, I didn't want to end up wasting a lot of ingredients. Browsing through one of the many cookbooks that I have acquired over the past couple of weeks, I found a recipe for Cheese Muffins. I made them for sometime back and they were a hit. More anything else, this recipe opens out possibilities for me. I am already thinking about the different herbs and vegetables I can add to the batter to make it "ideal" food. Here is an adaptation of the cheese muffin recipe from the book Cakes and Bakes.

1/8 cup Oil
1/4 cup Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbsp Sugar
A pinch of Salt
1/2 tsp Chilli Powder
1 egg
1/4 cup Milk
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
25g Cheddar Cheese, diced

Preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F). Place paper cases in a nine inch muffin pan.

Sift the dry ingredients and keep aside. Whisk the eggs, milk, oil and thyme. Slowly add the dry ingredients and stir gently. Place a spoonful of batter in each cup. Add a few pieces of cheese to each and top with another spoonful of batter.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Enjoy these muffins when they are fresh out of the oven. My guess is that they'd go very well with Salsa or Pizza Sauce. We didn't quite have the time to find out. They were gone before we knew it. The next time around, I'm going to make it to go with pasta or soup.

January 4, 2008

Pineapple Rasam

I do not know about the origins of this dish. And I haven't bothered to find out. I've had it at several functions, at my cousin's place and have loved this enough to have it served at my wedding. (I am half Konkani and half Tamil, married to a Telugu. Our wedding was mostly Konkani Saraswat followed by some Telengana rituals, but the food was completely Iyengar! Equal representation, isn't it?)

I attempted to make this some time ago. We bought a pineapple (atrociously expensive) because I love the fruit. We ate some, I used some up in Pineapple Sasam and with what was left, I made this rasam.

I don't know how "authentic" this recipe is. I made it partly from taste and partly from memories of Amma or my cousin making it. I loved it and savoured it to the last drop.

1/2 cup Pineapple, chopped
1/2 cup Tomatoes, chopped
400 ml Toor Dal Water (Use plain water if need be)
2 tbsp Cooked Toor Dal

1 tbsp Rasam Powder
1/4 tsp Asafoetida

1/2 tsp Pineapple Essence
1 tsp Jaggery
Juice of 1 lime or 1 tbsp Tamarind Paste (I do a half and half)
Coriander Leaves for garnish
Salt to Taste

For the tempering:
1 tsp Oil or Ghee
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
7-8 Curry Leaves

In a vessel, take the dal water and dal and add the asafoetida, salt and rasam powder. Add the tomatoes, pineapple, pineapple essence, jaggery and tamarind paste of and bring to a boil. (If using lime juice, do not add it at this stage. Add it at the very end and boil once.) Simmer it for 4-5 minutes.

In a small kadhai, heat the oil or ghee, add the mustard seeds, and when they splutter, add the curry leaves.Add this to the rasam. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

You can drink this as a soup or have it with rice. Mangalorean blood runs deep in my arteries and that is probably a reason why I love this sweet and sour number which is not very popular among many.

January 3, 2008

Kala Chana Chaat

Healthy street food! Feels like an oxymoron of sorts, doesn't it? But we discovered this during our trip to Mussoorie. Stuck in a jam for about an hour, trying to get out of the hill station, we found solace in this nice chaat dished out by a roadside chaatwallah. I recreated it at home with whatever I could find and the result was pretty good. This must seem like an ordinary salad, but since I enjoyed it so much, I thought I should share the recipe with you.

1 cup Black Chana, soaked overnight and cooked

1 Carrot, grated

8 Cherry Tomatoes, halved

1 Cucumber, chopped

1 Onion, chopped

1 tsp Tamarind Paste

1 tsp Date Syrup

1 tsp Cumin Powder

1 tsp Chilli-Ginger Paste

1/2 tsp Lime Juice

Salt to taste

Chopped Coriander for garnish

Mix all the ingredients together and toss around a bit. Your salad is ready.

I know this doesn't even qualify for a post, but I am posting it here nonetheless. I hope you enjoy this as a meal or as part of a meal.

January 2, 2008

Penne and Vegetable Saute

Wishing all of you out there a very happy and fulfilling 2008!

After a spate of weddings, house guests and parties, S and I celebrated New Year's eve with a candlelight dinner for two. It was a very enjoyable evening with some plum wine, home made Potato Gnocchi, Vegeratrian Lasagne and Fruit Cake. I will share the recipes with all of you very soon.

We had decided in November that we would change our diet plan in 2008. More vegetables, more fruits, more fibre, less carb, less fat. That roughly translates to soups and salads on most days. Sautees also fit in very nicely with this plan. Since I am not on a zero carb or zero fat plan (and probably will never be - every food group has a place in our system), I will not eliminate either of these completely. And considering how much I love baking, I will continue to bake every once in a while. And I just received my copy of How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson in the mail. So, I cannot allow this investment to go waste.

But keeping in mind the resolution, I share with you a simple recipe that is tasty, filling and nutritious all at once, not to mention colourful!!

1 cup Penne, boiled/cooked

1/4 cup Sweet Corn, blanched

1/4 cup Broccoli florets, blanched

1/4 cup French Beans, cut and blanched

1/4 cup Carrots, sliced and blanched

1/2 cup Mushrooms, chopped

2 tsp Olive Oil

2 tbsp Garlic, chopped

1 tsp Chilli Flakes

1 tsp Basil

1 tsp Parsley

Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add the chilli flakes along with the basil and parsley and fry for a minute. Add the mushrooms and after about 2-3 minutes add the remaining vegetables along with pasta. Add the salt and pepper and toss the mixture around in the pan. Enjoy this saute straight from the stove.

This is really as simple as it is beautiful. I will be making this more often when these lovely vegetables are in season here.

Off this goes to Sunita for her monthly event Think Spice - Think Garlic.