Monday, December 9, 2013

Mixed vegetable Kurma

Certain events, smells, food etc in life bring back great memories.
One such thing for me is vegetable kurma! Growing up in a very orthodox tambram household eating kurma/ kuruma was out of question, even if it was full of vegetables. 
The strong garlic flavored kurma s served with parottas were a treat if we went to eat out, which we rarely did too!
I first tasted a very flavorful kurma at my dear friend Aarthi's house in Brooklyn, NYC! Yes, you read that correct,of all the places , brooklyn. We both were residents and she invited my family for dinner at her place. She served kurma with ghee rice and I still recall that wonderful aroma and taste of the food served by Aarthi.

I have modified it a little to my ease and here I present with the wonderful vegetable Kurma.
My MIL made idiyappams ( recipe to follow soon) and we devoured them with this kurma.

Get Ready ( serves 6- 8 people)

  • 3 cups mixed frozen vegetables
  • 1 large potato peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion sliced ( i used some left over red and white onions)
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 cloves
  • 1 cardamom
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste

 To grind

  • 2 green chillies ( more if you need hot)
  • 2 inch piece ginger peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp khus khus/ kasa kasa/ poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp cashews 9 soak the kasa kasa and cashews in little water)
  • 1 tbsp saunf/ sombu
  • 2 cloves of garlic ( optional) i did not use garlic
  • 1/3 cup grated coconut


  • Soak the kasa kasa cashews for 20 mins. Gind it with coconut, saunf, green chilli and ginger and garlic
  •  ( optional) into a fine paste with little water. keep aside
  • in a  samll pressure cooker, add oil and add the bay leaves, cloves, cardamom and fry for few seconds.
  • When fragrant, add the onions and saute till translucent.
  • Add the tomatoes and fry for a few mins.
  • Add the mixed veggies, potato and  saute for 1-2 mins.
  • Add the ground coconut paste, water just barely enough to cover the vegetables and salt to taste.
  • Cover the cooker and pressure cook for 1 whistle. simmer for 7-10 mins and turn the heat off.

Serve hot with idiyappam, aapam, chappathi or puttu.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fruit salad

Thanks giving is round the corner! All you peeps must be getting ready to have friends and family over to celebrate!
So here is an easy dessert that will be a crowd pleaser. The only work is chopping the fruits, but you must be having a lot of manpower in the household. So put them to use..!

A very easy make ahead dish and that will make you a rock star in any party!

Get Ready

  • 1, 8 oz tub Cool whip lite
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 mangoes diced small
  • 1/2 cup grapes cut in half
  • 1 small tub blueberries
  • 1 pear peeled and diced ( soak them in water mixed with lemon juice so they don't brown)
  • 3 cups strawberries hulled and chopped
  • chopped nuts like walnuts, almonds ( optional)

any other fruits that you have in hand  like oranges, apples, cantaloupe, pineapple and bananas

  • In a bowl add the cool whip, sour cream, sugar. Whip till the sugar is well incorporated
  • Add the chopped fruits, toss them well
  • Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate.
  • Add bananas, apple etc at the end before serving so they don't change color.
  • Serve chilled as a dessert.

Also check out my cranberry orange bread and Cranberry Salsa

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Aloo Methi / Potato and Fenugreek greens curry

Fenugreek greens or mendhiya keerai  is widely used in the Indian cuisine. The seeds, green leaves and dries leaves are used in cooking. It has a distinctive sweet smell and the seeds are pretty bitter.
It is thought to have a lot of medicinal value to improve glucose tolerance in diabetics. Did you know it can increase milk production in nursing mothers too!

Aloo methi is a very simple dry curry/ subzi which is easy to put together. I used half a bunch that I got from the Indian store.

Get ready
  • Potatoes 4-5 peeled and cubed medium
  • Water enough to cook the potatoes
  • Methi leaves  ( washed, picked and chopped ) 1 cup
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds / kadugu
  • 1/2 tsp urad dal/ ulutham paruppu
  • 1/8 tsp asafetida or 3 squirts from the bottle
  • 1/2 tsp red  chilli powder ( increase as per taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pav bhaji masala or amchur  powder ( optional)
  • Salt to taste

  • In a pan add the potatoes, cover with enough water . Add a pinch of salt and the turmeric powder and cook till they are soft, but not mushy. You can microwave them with water too. Drain water and set aside

  • In another pan, add oil and add the mustard seeds, urad dal, red chilli, asafetida and do the tempering.

  • Add the methi leaves and sauté them till the wilt.

  • Add the cooked potatoes, red chilli powder, salt, red chilli powder, pav bhaji masala and toss.

  • On medium to low heat, cover the pan and cook tossing in between to roast the potatoes.
  • To get some crispness, spray some cooking oil on the potatoes.
  • Cook on low fire till potatoes are golden and crispy.
  • Serve hot with rice, chapathi or top it over bread toast.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dal Paalak / Lentils & Spinach Curry

Fall is in the air and it means the season for families to be together and have fun and of course more food.
Endless pumpkin recipes, candies and desserts begin to show up everywhere in the blog world.
But here I present a very humble dish, which most people already know.

A very simple and easy lentil curry for chapathi/ rice. My little girl who would normally have nothing to do with spinach ate this curry. I mixed with some steaming rice and ghee and ate with out a peep!

Victory dance for me....!

The lentils in the dish absorb a lot of water over time. So if the dish is a tad runny, it will thicken once cooled. same way you can add some hot water to dilute it if too thick.

Get Set

  • 1/3 cup  red lentils/ masoor dal ( can use toor dal or yellow moong dal)
  • 3 cups of chopped spinach
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 small tomato chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1&1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small jalapeno ( optional) ( i used a red chilli as i did not have jalapeno)
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice ( optional)


  • Pressure cook the lentils with water just enough to cover them for 2-3 whistles and set aside. If cooking on stove top,wash and soak them in water for 30 mins, before cooking. this fastens the cooking process.

  • In a pan add oil, when hot add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle.

  • Add the chopped onions, jalapeno and saute till they are slightly browned over medium heat.

  •  add the tomatoes, ginger, red chilli powder and cook till the tomatoes are mushy.
  •  add the chopped spinach, turmeric powder and saute till the spinach wilts.
  • Mash the cooked lentils and add it to the spinach mixture.

  • Add the water little by little till you get the desired consistency.
  • Add salt, cover and simmer for 5 mins.
  • Uncover, add garam masala powder and cook for 2-3 mins on low heat.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vazhakkai Podi / Plantain Crumble

Hello my dearies! How is the week going for you all?
Plantain or raw banana is not something i frequently cook with. They are either too ripe or I will my chance to pick them up from Indian store when the shipment comes.
I got hold of some recently and wanted to make a podimas which my mom used to make.

Tastes good with sambar/ rasam/ pulissery rice.
Tried my hands on taking pics while cooking, not the best though!

Get Ready  ( serves 2-4 )

  • 2 raw banana/ plantain/ vazhakkai
  • 2 tbsp channa dal
  • 1  dried red chilli ( more if you want the heat)
  • 1 tsp grated coconut ( optional)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of asafetida
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds/ kadugu
  • 1 tsp urad dal/ ulutham paruppu
  • few curry leaves ( optional)

  • Wash, top and tail the plantain

  • Cook the plantain in water with skin for approximately 10 mins. It should not get too soft/ mushy

  • Drain the water and let the plantain cool completely. This is very important.

  • In a pan add a little oil and roast the dried red chilli, channal dal till golden and fragrant. Set aside.
  • Powder the roast dal, red chilli with some asafetida and optional coconut into a coarse powder. set aside
  • Once the plantains cool thoroughly, peel the skin off.

  • Grate the plantain and set aside.

  • In a pan, add the oil and do the tadka with mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves.
  • Add the grated plantain, powdered spice mix. salt to taste.
  • Gentle toss them all till incorporated.
  • Sprinkle some water, cover and cook for 1-2 mins.
  • Turn the heat off and serve hot with rice, sambar or pulissery aka more kuzhambu.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Paneer Burji Sandwich

Hi there my friends! Continuing with my Lunch box series, here I come with an easy and quick sandwich. You may see that this picture was taken in a hurry in the morning while packing lunch. So you have to excuse me for all the mess in the back ground! he... he..

Get Ready ( all measurements this time are a guesstimate only)

  • 2 cups crumbled Paneer
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp pav bhaji masala ( can be replaced with any spice powder of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • A pinch of turmeric powder ( optional)
  • salt to taste
  • Lots of cilantro chopped
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Bread slices and butter to toast

  • In a pan, add oil and saute the onions till golden
  • Add the grated ginger and toss
  • Add the crumbled paneer, pav bhaji masala, turmeric powder, salt and cilantro.
  • Toss them all together, reduce heat and cover.
  • Cook for 1-2 mins. check salt and adjust spices
  • Uncover and turn the heat off.
  • spread butter on the bread slice, add the paneer burji mixture. butter another slice of bread and put it on top of the other slice. this helps the burji to stick to bread rather than falling out.
  • In a pan, use cooking spray or butter and toast the sandwich till golden on both sides.

One can just pack them with bread without toasting. serve with some tomato ketchup or chilli sauce on the side.

Pack your lunch box with some fruit/ yogurt/ chips/ juice box to complete the meal.

Of course little post it notes with jokes/ messages would add the extra touch.
sigh.... wish I am all that organized and plan ahead person....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chakka Pradhaman / Jack Fruit payasam

August,September & October is the month of  festivities in India. Starting with Varalakshmi pooja till navarathri, one will have endless opportunities to make payasam or other offerings to almighty.

So, here is a quick and tasty payasam made out of Chakka!.
Chakka ( malayalam), aka Palapazham ( tamil) or  jack fruit is very native to the south and east of India. Did you know that it is one of the largest fruits to bear on trees.
It is very seasonal mainly during the summer moths in the tropics. Jack fruit may not be available readily here in the US, but have seen all the time in asian supermarkets.

                                                                     Source from here

                                                                 Image courtsey

Jack fruit has a unique aroma which you will either love it or hate it. Apparently the aroma can be described as a combo of apple, pineapple etc. No, you don't eat the green part of the fruit in case you wonder. There is fleshy and fibrous fruit inside which can be cooked raw or eaten ripe as a fruit.

Chakka Varatti/ chakka varatiyathu or jack fruit jam is made by cooking jack fruit in jaggery, ghee with cardamom and other spices till it becomes like a halwa. Varatti has a long shelf life and can be used to prepare, ilayada, payasam etc.
I remember my parents making them at home and tastes super yummy when hot.

My dad had bought his ready made chakka varatti from palakkad, Kerala and I brought here after my recent trip to India. I don't know if it is available in Chennai!

Get ready

  • Chakka Varatti 1 packet ( 100 gms)
  • 2 Maggi coconut milk powder sachet  ( 100 gms each or 2 cups in total)
  • 1 cup warm water to dissolve coconut milk powder
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 tbsp broken cashews
  • 1 tbsp Ghee/ clarified butter
  • 1/4 tsp dry ginger powder aka sukku podi ( optional)
  • 1 tbsp small coconut wedges ( optional)


  • Whisk the coconut milk powder in water without any clumps and set aside.
  • Heat the regular milk in a heavy bottomed pan
  • Add the chakkai varatti to the milk. Whisk well and turn of the heat.
  • Let it sit for 15 -20 mins as it will help to dissolve the varatti well in milk.
  • whisk again till the chakkai vartti is fully dissolved i nthe milk.
  • Put the milk back on heat and add the coconut milk.
  • Cook on low fire till the mix comes to a boil.
  • If it is too thick add some more 2% milk till you get to the right Kheer consitency. It will thicken with time, so don;t make it too thick.
  • Turn the heat off. sprinkle ginger powder.
  • In another small pan, add the ghee and roast the cashews, coconut wedges till golden.

Serve Hot or cold.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Potato Poha / Aval Upma

 Kids are back in school! Mine are, how about yours? Eventhough they drove me crazy on some vaction days, it was kind of easy to go to work in the morning.

No lunch packing, i mean, how cool is that?

My son has always favored home packed lunch and i am always on the look out for new ideas.

Poha/ beaten rice/ flattened rice/ Aval is an easy snackable item in Indian kitchens. They absorb water and can used for sweet and spicy dishes. This one is an easy snack/ tiffin item that would be liked by the old and not so old!

So, Here we go....

Get Ready

  • 1 cup poha / Aval / flattened Rice
  • 1 tablespoon Peanuts
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 small green chillies slit
  • 1 medium sized potato peeled and small cubed
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds/ kadugu
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds/ jeera
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Pinch of asafetida
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste


  • Wash the poha under running water 2-3 times. Add water just to cover the poha and let it sit for a minute.
  • Drain the water completely from the poha after a minute. Add a pinch of salt, gently toss. Cover with a lid and set aside for 20 mins.
  • Cook potatoes in water in a microwave safe bowl for 5-6 mins till they are soft, but not mushy .
  • In a pan add oil, once hot add the mustard seeds. After they pop add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle.
  • Add peanuts, asafetida and fry till peanuts are golden.
  • Add the onions, green chillies and sauté till onions are golden bad well done.
  • Add the cooked potatoes to the sautéed onions and cook for 30 secs.
  • Reduce the heat.
  • Add turmeric powder, poha, salt, sugar and gently toss all together. Cover and cook on low flame for a minute or two.
  • Adjust salt/ sugar according to taste.
  • Turn the heat off, garnish with lots of chopped cilantro.

Enjoy for breakfast , lunch or evening snack with some coffee or tea.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Shpeak only English Please!

Have you had your nails mani'ed or pedi'ed recently? Not me though! I dunno, I've never been regular in keeping my toe nails looking super cool! One thing that puts me off from going to the chinku nail place is not understanding what they talk.

Let me share what I felt !, Peelingsu!
The scene is me walking into a nail place!

Me: I want a pedicure!
Nail Girl ( NG): 10 mins wait please!
Me: Okay, flipping through all the magazines, got my fix of J lo's beach body and AJ's anorexic images

NG: come in!
 they start doing my pedicure. NG enages in a conversation with her chinku colleague!
Ng: anjong.. shankoung etc....
Me translating & thinking :  kaalai pardui! pedicure e paninadhillai pola irukku! eva kaalai pidikkanuma? tip tharuvanu ninaikkara..

 goes on and on till

NG: Ok All done $ 15 dhollars please!

It is natural for one to think that they are talking about you when you don't understand a word from their thiru vai!

I come out thinking " appada, all done1 i should look at some you tube videos and learn how to do pedicure!

Next day at work. My MA says , patient is ready in room 2! 2 yr old carlos has a fever.

I knock and enter the room. Carlos looks happy on mom's lap. Mom has had enough time to appify make up, lipstick etc, even though her son is very sick!  How come I never get time to do anything to keep myself pretty! Azhagu irundhadhane  enru think pannnuvadhu enakku theriyum!

Mom: Habla Espanol?
Me: No, let me get my MA

MA walks in. Ola, ola goes on!
I ask mom how long has Carlos has had the fever?

MA and Mom talk for atleast 2 mins in semma fast spanish.
MA looks at me tells fever for 1 day!
What the heck? yuo both were talking so long and you tell me 1 day

couple of semma long spanish conversations go on and i tell mom that Carlos has a cold and treat him with tylenol/ motrin etc.

Mom looks at me thinking is she " Loca"

Romba kodumaiappa, when you don't know what people are talking if you cannot understand!
so makkale, Sheak English please if you are in Us of A!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kale Chips

Source: Mindbodygreen

Let us imagine you are at your local grocery store/ supermarket. You are intrigued by the dark green curly leaves sitting on your grocery store shelf. You are thinking ," Hm.. is it spinach, lettuce?" By this time you walk close to the aisle and read the label " Curly Leaf or Dinosur Kale". You think," oh well, whatever! i don't know how to cook it, never tasted it". I am sure DH or my kids won't eat this any way!You just pick up our good old spinach and move on!

I don't know about you, I surely have done this many times!  kale is on a abrgain now. So I had the courage to pick up a bunch! Your mood is , Heck, it is only $ 1.99 even if I waste it, i want to try it!

BTW kale has a lot of antioxidants, you know the same good stuff seen in Broccoli, sweet potatoes :))

And that is exactly what I did!
Found everyone raving about Kale chips and I had to make it!
So, Here it goes!

Get Ready

  • 1 bunch of Kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon dosai milagai podi ( can be replaced with chilli powder, chaat masala etc)
  • Kosher salt to taste

  • Pre heat oven to 350 F. Line your cookie sheet with foil. helps with cleaning, trust me!
  • Wash the bunch of kale and  rip the leaves into large bite size pieces. make sure you don't include the thick vein in the middle, as it is hard to chew!
  • In a bowl add the oil and milagai podi.
  • Add the kale leaves and gently toss them all so the oil and spices are well coated on the leaves.
  • Arrange them separately on a baking sheet. Sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

  • Bake for 15 mins or till the leaves are crispy.

Let them cool and store them in an air tight box.

Snack on them as much ( not much with 1 bunch though) you want guilt free!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Paalada Pradhaman

Hope you all are enjoying spring! Not so great for people with allergies huh?

Here is an ultimate payasam/ kheer from Kerala. Palada Pradhaman is made with paal (milk), Ada ( partially cooked rice wafers). Ada pradhaman can be made with jaggery and coconut milk too. But My favorite is the milkier version.
You cook the ada in milk and get it reduced. Palada pradhaman has a milky flavor and takes some time to cook. But, let me tell you it is worth that time!

I had bought a packet of Ada from India which I used. I have not seen them in the grocery stores in USA. We enjoyed this for this Vishu/ Tamil new years's day!

Here is the recipe!

Get ready

  • 5 cups 2% Milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup Ada
  • 1 can Condensed milk
  • Sugar to taste ( i used 4- 5 tsp at the end)

  • Cook the ada as per packet instructions. Boil 2 cups of water. turn the heat off and add the ada. cover and let it stand for 20 -25 mins. drain and set aside.
  • Take a heavy bottomed pan, i used a small pressure cooker without lid.
  • Add the 5 cups of milk, 1 cup of water, drained ada to the pan.
  • keep stirring to avoid burning of milk. It will start to boil over. reduce heat and cook by stirring.
  • milk has to reduce to almost half it's volume. This may take 25 -30 mins.
  • Add the can of condensed milk and stir well.
  • Add sugar as desired for taste.
  • Let it come to a boil and turn the heat off.

Serving suggestions

No need for garnishing with cardamon, cashews etc.
serve warm or cold.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Savory Muffins 2/ Iyengar Bakery Nostalgia

Hello Friends and sorry for the long hiatus. 2012 wasn't particularly exciting for me! Ever since my last post in March 2012, I've had a really rough ride. The worst being losing my mother to breast cancer after 18 months of pain, suffering, chemo, radiation etc.
My mom was an inspiration for me to cook, and I miss her dearly. But I am happy that her sufferings have been put to an end. I know she is always there for me and my family in our thoughts and dreams.

So, here I am blogging in this new year. I missed you all friends and your mouth watering recipes!

How many of you recall the taste of" Khara bread/ khara bun" from  Iyengar's bakey. A totally new take on the usual sweet buns that we have all had growing up in India, right!
Here is my attempt to re create the same flavor.

I'm telling you all it tasted pretty awesome and was moist 2 days later too!

Here we go with the recipe!

Get Ready: ( makes 7 muffins)

  • 1 cup All purpose Flour/ Maida
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  • salt to taste ( start with 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable Oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp grated carrot
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped Jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives

  • 1/2 tsp oil to saute the veggies
  • Pre heat oven to 375 F and line your muffin tin with liners.
  • In a pan, add little oil and once hot saute the onion, carrot, jalapeno and red bell pepper for a few mins. turn heat off and set aside.
  • Whisk all the dry ingredients together to incorporate well.
  • In a bowl, crack the egg. Add the liquid ingredients into the egg and whisk well.
  • Fold in the flour mixture, sauteed veggies to the wet ingredient. add salt as per taste.
  • Pour 3/4 in the muffin cups and bake till a tooth pick inserted comes out clean for approximately 30 -35 mins.
Enjoy it warm with some butter spread or just like that.

One can add some Ajwain/ Carom seeds, Cilantro, Cumin seeds, whole pepper corns for some kick in the butt heat, or other herbs of your choice.

PS: The single balloon and present on the earlier picture was added by my 4 yr old. ( Er... tantrum made me do it :))

See, how fluffy it is inside!