November 30, 2009

Macaroni Casserole

These days I seem to need all the inspiration I can find to cook. I've tried different meal plans, tried to cook as much as possible in advance, etc. But there are days when even the best laid plans turn their noses, lift up their thumbs and say Na-na-na-na-na. Last Thursday was one such day. I remembered my namesake's moussaka and Nupur's green bean casserole and ended up making a casserole with just about everything I could lay my hands on.

2 Potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced

1 cup Macaroni, prepared according to instructions on the pack

1 cup Pasta Sauce

1 Onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup Spinach puree

1/4 cup Sweet Corn

1 tsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Mixed Herbs

1 tsp Chilli Flakes

1 cup White Sauce

1 slice Cheese

1/4 cup Bread Crumbs

Salt and Pepper to taste

Butter to grease the tin

Grease the tin with the butter. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).

Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the onions. Add the mixed herbs and the chilli flakes. Add the corn along with a little water. Cook until the corn is soft and the water has evaporated. Add the spinach puree and a little salt. Keep aside.

Blend the white sauce with the cheese and keep aside.

Arrange the potato slices to cover the base of the tin. Spread the pasta sauce over the potatoes. Spread the macaroni over this. Cover with the spinach and corn mixture. Pour the white sauce over this spinach layer. Season with salt and pepper and cover with bread crumbs.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve hot.

There were two things that I really liked about this casserole: The different flavours that came together beautifully and the wonderful colour combination that made it a visual treat.

November 29, 2009

Beetroot Patties

I have a colleague and cabmate, S, who has a colleague and best friend, D. D's mother is, like my colleague P's mother, an excellent cook. Since I leave for work very early, and since I cook our breakfast and lunch in the morning before leaving for work, I end up eating breakfast at work because there just isn't any time. Very often, S and D have their breakfast at the same time in the office cafeteria. Every once in a while, I taste D's breakfast and I must say that her mother makes the most unusual dishes.

Last week, D brought these beetroot patties for breakfast. I had one bite and found that I couldn't stop myself from taking the second... and the third. S gave me the recipe on the way back home that evening and I was all set to try it out this weekend. All I can say is that I will make these again and again, all through this winter.

1/2 cup Beetroot, grated

1/2 cup Carrot, grated

2 tbsp Roasted Peanuts

1 tbsp Oil

1 tsp Ginger Paste

1 tsp Garlic Paste

1 tsp Green Chilli Paste

1/2 tsp Chilli Powder

1/2 tsp Amchur (Dry Mango Powder)

1 tsp Cumin-Coriander Powder

1/4 tsp Garam Masala

2-3 slices of Bread

Salt to taste

Cornflour to coat the patties

Oil for frying

Heat the tablespoon of oil and fry the ginger, garlic and green chilli pastes for a minute. Add the beetroot and carrot and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the peanuts along with the salt, chilli powder, amchur, cumin-coriander powder and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the garam masala. Crumble the bread slices into the beetroot mixture and mix well. Take off the flame and allow to cool.

Form small balls of this mixture and flatten them slightly. Coat them in the cornflour and shallow fry on a pan until crisp on both sides. Serve with a salad on the side (or some tomato ketchup).

Please do remember that there are only two days left for the Tried and Tasted event. Do hop over to Sunshinemom's blog and pick a recipe that you've always wanted to try and send it over to me.

November 28, 2009

Tried & Tasted: Chickpea Salad

I have been having so many problems with blogger of late that I don't even know where to start. This seems to be the cooking season and I see new recipes, new resolutions and absolutely finger licking yummy food everywhere I look. I had lost my inspiration to cook in between and found comfort in the dal-roti-rice-sabzi routine. My new cab route leaves me with 3-4 hours of time to spare, depending on how much I sleep. In these 3 hours, I have to get ready for work, cook, eat, catch up with S, etc. So, even on those days that I do manage to cook something different, I almost never get around to taking a picture of it, let alone blog about it.

In the midst of this all, I volunteered to host an event. When I agreed to, I had expected November to be a "light" month. It has turned out to be my busiest yet. And it doesn't help that much that winter is here early. It only means that I need to spend extra time applying moisturizer (or end up scratching myself all the time).

Plus, blogger doesn't allow me to leave a comment. That means I am unable to thank someone for inspiration to cook or even tell them how much I liked a certain recipe or even say hello. All in all, nothing seems to be going my way.

And amidst all this, I am still my lazy self. So when I find myself hosting an event which celebrates another blogger and her blog, I spend hours going through her entire blog, for the entire month, only to settle on the simplest recipe I can find because:
  • I'm making lunch for just myself
  • I have everything on hand
  • I like what I see
  • I am running out of time for my own event

So, this afternoon I chose to make Sunshine Mom's Tongue Tickling Chickpea Salad with Italian Dressing. The only changes I made to the recipe was to omit the almonds and replace dried fenugreek with paprika. I'm typing this post with a bowl of this salad by my side. Try it and I'm sure you'll find yourself serving this salad quite often. This is my entry to the Tried and Tasted event that I am hosting at The Singing Chef. What are you cooking?

P.S: There seems to be yet another problem here. My pictures don't seem to be displaying here.

November 22, 2009

Senaikkizhangu Karumadhu (Yam Saute)

I've talked often about how I eat everything, all fruits and vegetables and all kinds of foods without exception. There are some things I know I like and there are some things I like simply because my dear brother, H, couldn't stand them. The opposite of this also held true for quite a while. I didn't "like" lady's finger simply because he loved it. Yam was (and still is) the one vegetable he absolutely hated. I liked it as a child, but I continue to relish it as an adult as well. I made this saute, a staple at my parents' home, recently. And then I made it again.

Here's the recipe, handed down from mother to daughter and then from daughter to the world!

2 cups Yam, peeled and diced

3-4 Red Chillies

1/4 tsp Turmeric (optional)

1 tbsp Tamarind Paste

1 tsp Oil

Salt to taste

For the tempering:

1 tbsp Oil

1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

7-8 Curry Leaves

Pressure cook the yam with the tamarind paste, turmeric (if using), salt, chillies and a teaspoon of oil with 3 cups of water. Drain the water.

In a kadhai, heat the tablespoon of oil. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves and the drained yam.

Saute for a minute, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove the lid and allow the pieces to crispen. Serve hot with some rice and sambar, your meal is complete!

Please also remember that the Tried and Tasted (Sunshine Mom's Blog) is on at The Singing Chef. Do send in your entries.

November 16, 2009

Maida Polo (Dosa)

It is a known fact that I love upma for breakfast. What I really love about upma is the ease with which the dish is ready. My real favourite has to be the Indian pancake variety: Dosa, Uttapam, Pole, Doddak, etc. When we visited Bombay last month, I woke up early by force of habit (even though I was on vacation). That gave me some time in the kitchen with my aunt. This aunt has been the inspiration for many recipes that I use today and the all time favourite recipe of hers for me would have to be Garlic Baby Potatoes. This time I watched her make these dosas. They're incredibly simple to make. They can be really soft or very thin and crisp (whichever way you like them). They need no fermentation. Could you ask for more?

1/4 cup Udad, soaked overnight

1/2 cup Flour

Salt to taste

Oil for frying

Wash the udad. Wash well and grind using a little water. Fold in the flour. Add salt and water to dilute it as required. (Don't add too much water as the dosas will not turn out well.)

To make the dosas, heat a tawa and smear a little oil on it. Simmer the flame and pour a ladleful of the batter in the centre of the tawa. Quickly spread the batter while forming concentric circles. Turn the flame back to high. Add a little oil on the sides and centre. Usually not more than 1 small spoonful per dosa. When crisp, carefully turn the dosa over and allow the other side to cook a little. Repeat for the other dosas.

Serve with chutney or molaga podi or pitti chitni. (If you're willing to wait that long, that is!)

November 15, 2009

Pumpkin and Tomato Soup

When I started blogging, I don't think I had even tasted Pumpkin Soup. Pumpkin was best used in sambar or vathal kuzhambu. I didn't think very much of this vegetable. Amma used to make a typical upkari with finely chopped pumpkin, but I didn't miss it if she didn't make it for a decade. I loved making (and eating) Pumpkin Pie. In the past couple of years, I have used this vegetable extensively in soups, side dishes and even used it in a cake. And I've been expermenting quite a bit.

The latest experiment was with a soup. I started out making the traditional tomato soup, but decided to use of the bag of cubed pumpkin that was stashed away in the freezer. I quite enjoyed the soup. It was rather filling and all I needed to go with it was a couple of cream crackers.

1 cup Pumpkin, cubed

4 Tomatoes, diced
1 Onion, diced
2 pods Garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pressure cook the vegetables and the garlic with 2cups of water. When cool, blend in a liquidizer and strain. Bring the liquid to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

If you're like me, there, dinner's on the table!

November 14, 2009

Baked Stuffed Chillies

I have always avoided buying chillies. But I usually end up with a bag of the "bajji" variety chillies in the hope of making mirchi bajji. I have made that once (but sadly, the post languishes in my drafts) and the other times that I bought the chillies, I saved the bag from going into the trash by making this once and this the other time.

Today was a little different. I was quite determined to use up the chillies in a different manner before they turned into something unrecognizable. I had some aloo paratha stuffing left over and I modified it to stuff these chillies.

6 large Chillies, slit and deseeded

2 Potatoes, cooked and mashed

1 Onion, chopped finely

2 tbsp Coriander Leaves, chopped

1/2 tsp Garam Masala

1 tsp Chilli Paste

Salt to taste

To be ground:

1/4 cup Roasted Peanuts

1/2 tsp Amchur

1/2 tsp Coriander Powder

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

1 tsp Chilli Powder

1 tbsp Oil

Mix the potato, onion, coriander, garam masala, salt and chilli paste. Add the ground mixture and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 250 C. Use a little oil to grease a baking tray. Stuff the potato-peanut mixture into the chillies and arrange them on the tray. Brush the chillies with the remaining oil. Bake for 15 minutes, turning once in between.

This makes a wonderful side dish with some rice and dal, but as we discovered this afternoon, it is a finger licking good accompaniment to beer.

November 7, 2009

Announcing Tried & Tasted November 2009

After a really long hiatus, I am finally back. Thanks again to all of you who've stopped by to ask how I've been doing. I do need to get back into the groove of blogging and blog hopping. So, what better way to do this than to host an event. Zlamushka's Tried and Tasted train now halts for the month of November at my station, The Singing Chef. And this month, we celebrate the very versatile blog of Harini, better known to everyone as Sunshinemom.

  1. Cook any recipe(s) from Sunshinemom's Tongue Ticklers( and post about it. Stay as true to the original recipe(s) as possible. Therefore, there is no need for re-posting it, simply link to the original post :-)
  2. Link your post to the originator of the event Zlamushka at (feel free to use the logo - thanks to Ksenia ( for designing this logo) and to the post with the original recipe. Please always link to both sites, so both blogs are given credit and you are avoiding copyright fuss.
  3. Send me an e-mail ( with your name, your post URL as well as the original URL and a picture (300px by height, please).
  4. Deadline is the November 30th 2009 and the round up will be posted within a week.
  5. Non-bloggers are more than welcome to participate Simply e-mail me ( with your experience of what you cooked and please include a picture.

The round up will be posted during the first week in December, where I will also announce the Blogger of the Month for March 2010.

Get ready to cook up a storm in your kitchens. And don't forget to tell me all about it.