Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rawa Ladoo for Indian Cooking Challenge

The day I received the mail from Srivalli announcing this month's recipe for the Indian Cooking Challenge, I wanted to be part of the event. I anticipate a lot of learning from this -recipes tried and tested and tips from other bloggers. I conveniently blame it on a lot of factors that I did not attempt the trial reicpe until 9 this morning, local time, which is 5 and 1/2 hours behind IST and there , I have a reminder in my mail box. And then I gave myself the 'first-gear start'. And what a race....Tuesday..OIL BATH, Nothing in the fridge to just reheat, Wimbledon starts'12 noon local time...and anything more??? Oh yes, I have piled up four days' ironing watching Federer or Williams or Murray at the best of their best !!! With all this threatening me, I ask myself shall I give it a pass? Sigh!!!! But amidst all this I did succeed making the rawa ladoo both ways listed by Srivalli!!! I just needed to know if I get more number of ladoos following one or the other :)

Method 1 :
Rawa 1cup
Sugar 1 cup
Ghee 25 grams
Milk 25 ml
Cardamon powder a pinch
Cashews and raisins few
Grated fresh coconut 25 grams

Heat part of ghee in a kadai and roast cashews and the raisins. Keep aside.
Roast coconut in the same kadai until a bit dry and keep alongwith cashews and raisins.
Add the rest of the ghee to the kadai and roast rawa until golden.
Mix all ingredients except the milk in a bowl. Add the warm milk to this mixture gradually, testing with each addition if you are able to gather balls of the mixture.
When you are able to do so, stop adding milk.
Put it all back in the kadai on the stove and blend on the lowest flame for 2 minutes.
Switch off the fire; cover kadai with a lid and rest it for a further 2 minutes.
Make ladoos while still warm.

Method 2 (My usual one )
Rawa 1 cup
Sugar 1 cup
Cashews and raisins few
Cardamon powder 1/4 teaspoon
Ghee about 5 tablespoons

Roast rawa (without adding ghee) until golden. When slightly cool run in your mixie and powder as fine as possible.
Powder the sugar.
Roast the cashews and raisins in some ghee.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Heat ghee in a kadai until warm but not smoking.
Add ghee in small quantities to the dry mixture and gather in balls.

Incidentally both methods gave the same number of ladoos. I halved the ingredients and the yield was 10 pieces (probably smaller than what Srivalli predicted) in both methods.
Since the method 1 does not involve any pounding, sifting etc., I shall mail this to the dorm living girls (Niki in her blog gently hinted that this blog was supposed to be student oriented) to appease their sweet craving once in a while.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lemon Crackers -Yet another eggless treat!!

We baked these cookies while my parents and Niki were here. Based on the original recipe which calls for eggs, we decided to use the cooking oil alternative. Also, as I had made the lemon juice concentrate earlier that week, we used that juice. The result was a very lemony, sweet melt-in-the mouth crackers, which were a big hit.

125 grams All purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
pinch of Salt
70 grams cold Butter cut into small cubes
60 grams Powdered sugar or superfine Castor sugar
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon grated Lemon rind

For topping:
3 table spoons Lemon juice concentrate.
Alternatively, mix icing sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and use it.

Line baking trays with non-stick baking sheets.
Sift flour and baking powder. In a mixing bowl, add salt to the sifted flour and slowly rub in the butter with tips of your fingers. The dough should resemble bread crumbs.
Stir in sugar, lemon rind and oil to form a soft but not sticky dough.
Divide dough into about 20 portions.
Roll them into ribbon like ropes of about an inch long.
Pre heat oven to 190 deg. C.
Place lemon ribbons on the prepared tray and bake for 15 minutes.
Take out and cool.
While still warm brush on top of crackers the topping.
When completely cool, transfer to airtight cookie jars.

Enjoy with your cup of tea just as we did :)

Friday, June 26, 2009


Rasavaangis are ideally done with ash gourd or with fresh, tender brinjals. This is a combination of delectable spices and tangy tamarind. It tastes heavenly with hot rice and ghee.

About 200 grams of Brinjals would suffice to make for two serves.

200 grams brinjals
3 tablespoons Channa dhal
A small lime size of Tamarind
2 teaspoons Coriander seeds
5 pieces Redchillies (can be adjusted to taste)
2 teaspoons Urad dhal
1/2 teaspoon Black peppercorns
2 tablespoons Dessicated coconut
1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
Curry leaves 2 sprigs
Turmeric powder 1/4 teaspoon
Asafoetida 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Oil for tempering and about 2 tablespoons to fry channa dhal

Wash and soak channa dhal for about 1/2 an hour. Drain and keep aside.
Cut the brinjals lengthwise in quarters or eigths. Cook them till tender.
Add very little water to tamarind and keep.(do not soak)
In a pan, keeping aside some oil for tempering, heat oil. When hot enough shallow fry the channa dhal.
(The dhal will now resemble what we buy as snacks from Haldirams - Slightly puffed and roasted)
Drain on absorbent paper.
In the same pan roast coriander seeds, urad dhal, peppercorns and redchillies until slightly brown and crisp.
Add to the above the coconut, tamarind ans asafoetida and grind to a fine paste. Wash the mixer jar and collect adhering paste also. Add another 1/2 cup of water to the paste.
Put the pan back on fire. Add the oil for tempering. Put in the mustard seeds and when they splutter, put the cooked brinjals, turmeric powder, salt and the ground mix.
Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the channa dhal and curry leaves.
Serve with hot rice.


The same quantity of ingredients will suffice for about 200 grams of ash gourd.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Saabudhana Kichdi - javvarisi upma

The first time I tasted this was when I was visiting my uncle in Bombay. Manni made it for breakfast one morning. I don't know if I liked it then or not. Much later, my cousin's wife made saabudhana vada, which I instantly liked. Since, around Namakkal we have many tapioca plantations and Sago factories, appa's clients bring home lot of sago seeds. Amma will use some for her vadaam making and distribute the rest. Nowadays, she powders a few kilos in her mixie and sends us for starching our sarees.

One friend in Malaysia used to observe fast on all nine days of Navrathri. She would have one meal a day which does not include rice, wheat etc. All of us, when we invite friends for the celebrations, will try to include one sago dish so she can have. That is when I googled and found the recipe I use. Some dishes were listed under VRAT KA KHANA or something to that effect. This recipe turns out well, though we need some patience and time with the sago seeds which may get glued clumps or just won't cook enough and so on. The saabudhana kichdi and the aloo poha are my husband's favourite upmas.

Here is the recipe that serves just two.

100 grams sago seeds ( better if the pearls are slightly big)
150 grams potatoes
3 tablespoons roasted and skinned peanut powder
4 pieces green chillies
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Curry leaves and coriander leaves for garnish.
Oil about 2 tablespoons. ( You have to compromise on oil usage as otherwise the sago seeds with clump)
Salt to taste
( You may use onions if desired, just that I did not list as it was Vrat khana )

Wash sago seeds in a colander under a tap. Some starch may run, but it is okay. Soak the washed sago in very little water for about an hour. Drain, allowing to retain little moisture. Mix with this a portion of the salt.
Peel and cook potatoes. Dice or mash as you wish.
Heat oil in a heavy pan. add the mustards and cumin. Allow to crackle. Add turmeric powder, salt and green chillies. In a few minutes add potatoes and saute until the salt blends with the potatoes.
Bring the fire to medium low and add the sago seeds. Cook on this flame until sago seeds are transparent and glossy. This takes about 15 minutes to be done. Try not to let the sago get sticky. Add the powdered peanuts and cook until the entire mixture is well blended.

A very tasty kichdi is ready. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

If you are using onions, add the chopped onions in the beginning cooking them a little before adding the potato on.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Aloo ki tikki - The LG microwave version

Last year when my parents celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, both of my sisters wanted to gift my mother a microwave oven. But I was trying to talk them out as those two themselves were using their respective gadgets for re-heating only. So they prevailed upon the one person who will listen to them - my husband! In spite of my misgivings and to their delight (they can point out to me "we told you so"), my mom is using hers as much as I do.

That came with a very colourful instructions manual and a very interesting cookbook which I carried with me. Trust me it is a rather easy to follow book for some very hifundo recipes.

Today's weather was very dull here and with the T20 finals I was wanting to sit at home glued to the television.That's when I decided to make this popular Punjabi snack as detailed in this book. It turned out well though the oil fried version would have been succulent, this was no less in taste.

Ingredients for Tikki:
250 grams potatoes
2 tbsp bread crumbs

for Filling:
100 grams channa dhal
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1/4 garam masala powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2-3 green chillies (chopped)
salt to taste
2 tbsps chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp oil

Cook potatoes in microwave. Peel, mash well and add the bread crumbs. Mix well and make a smooth paste.
Cook channa dhal, slightly mash it and add all the ingredients for filling except the oil.
Oil your palms slightly amd pat the potato mix well.
Put some filling in and seal with potato. Flatten slightly in your palms.
Repeat with all the potatoes and filling.
Preheat oven to 250 deg C.
Place the tikkis in an ovensafe dish. Brush very little oil on them.
Bake for about 20 minutes repositioning the tikkis once or twice at intervals so they are browned evenly on all sides.
Serve with tomato ketchup, green chutney or sonth.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cookies Galore

I bought this particular cookbook just because the author had a few eggless cookies included. Betty Saw is a well known name in Malaysia.My neighbour recommended this book and I went ahead and purchased. I've tried all of her eggless ones. Needless to say, I have had excellent results and at times disastrous ones that I resolve I should give up baking. I'm not cut out for it.

But when you 've had good ones why not share them?

Laavanya of Cookerycorner celebrates her birthday tomorrow. (19 th of June).
She was my niece's housemate in Singapore. When I first met her, I marvelled at how those young girls, who had until their school finals been protected and pampered by parents, had adapted to living on their own in an alien country, getting on by themselves. That infused some confidence in me to let the string lose for my daughter. Kudos to you Laav, I know Niki looked up to the three of you in her teens. She learnt a lot from you. Happy birthday dear. Wish you many more to come by.
This post, I have put up specially for you. There are, not one, but three cookies for you.

Butter cookies with jam centre: (Betty Saw )

270 grams plain ( all purpose ) flour.
1 teaspoon baking powder
240 grams butter at room temperature
90 grams icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
ready-to-use strawberry or any flavoured jam

Line baking trays with non stick baking paper.
Sift together flour and baking powder
Mix the butter, icing sugar, vanilla essence and sifted dry ingredients in an electric mixer.
Beat at lowest speed for 10 seconds and at medium speed for 5 minutes until the mixture is smooth and light.
Spoon the mixture into a cookie press fitted with large star nozzle. Pipe out circles with a tiny hollow centre on the prepared trays. Fill the centre with jam.
Bake in a preheated 180 deg.C oven for 12 - 15 minutes.
Cool on racks.

Butter Almond Crispies:(Betty Saw)

2 tablespoons corn flour
210 grams all purpose flour
250 grams cold butter diced
100 grams almond powder
100 grams icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
sugar dragées for decoration.

Line baking trays with non stick baking sheet.
Sift together cornflour and all purpose flour.
Cream icing sugar, vanilla essence and butter until light and fluffy.
Add sifted ingredients and almond powder pulsing until well combined.
Spoon into cookie press or piping bags and press out desired shapes on the prepared trays.
Bake in a preheated 180 deg.C oven for 15 minutes.
Cool on wired racks.

Cashew cookies:

70 grams cashews coarsely powdered.
150 grams castor sugar
250 grams all purpose flour
75 grams butter at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Cardamon powder and clove powder just a hint
Cashews broken for placing on top

Cream butter and castor sugar until light and fluffy.
Sift together all purpose flour and baking powder.
Add to the flour the cardamon powder and powdered clove.
Mix the dry sifted ingredients to the butter-sugar and combine well while adding the cashew powder in small quantities.
Pulse until the mixture is smooth.
Hand roll the cookies, place a cashew on top.
Place on prepared trays.
Bake on preheated oven at 160 deg.C for 15 minutes or until golden.
Cool on wire racks.

A big day for me -An Award

I am thrilled; Someone seems to like my blog so much to share her award. Thank you Sowmya , (visitmykitchen), you made my day.
But friends please bear with me.I am such a novice, that I have to first learn how to go about it. However, I can't express adequately how very touched I am for the recognition. As such when I receive a comment it is overwhelming. This is much larger in magnitude.
Thank you al once again.
Lata Raja

Tomato Rice - Lalitha's recipe

Tomato rice is one of the most voted dishes at our home.I have collected about a dozen recipes for tomato rice alone. The very first being my mom's longtime maid's to the most recent from Anupama's blog. Meantime, my friend Lalitha makes this yummy rice. Each recipe is unique. I simply love all of them for the variety.

Yesterday was my husband's star birthday. I had wanted to send something special for his lunch. Breakfast is always lowkey as he leaves for work at 6 in the morning. I was planning Bhel puri for evening to be followed by very light dinner. So I set out to make a proper lunch. I made this tomato rice, mixed vegetable raitha and aloo pudina chaat. I shall post this Aloo recipe sometime soon, because I want all of you to enjoy the tomato rice.

Raw rice - 2 cups (best to use normal rice than aromatic )
Tomato paste -150 grams (I pureed few tomatoes as I didn't have tomato paste)
Tomatoes - 2 medium (chopped)
Onions - 2 medium (chopped)
Green chillies -2 (slit and deseeded)
Ginger - 1"piece (chopped)
Cinnamon -1"stick
Cloves - 4 pieces
Bay leaf - 1 small leaf
Chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Garam masala powder - 1 teaspoon
Jaggery -2 teaspoons (powdered)
Curry leaves and coriander leaves - for garnish
Ghee 2 -3 tablespoons
Salt - to taste

Wash rice, cook in a heavy pan or pressure cooker adding some ghee and salt.( I tossed it in ghee few minutes prior to cooking). Cook till rice is tender but grains retain shape. Keep aside to cool.
You might cook rice adding the spices too as they will impart their flavour to the rice.
Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a pan, add the spices (if you omitted in the rice), chillies, ginger and onion. Toss these for a few minutes until onions are translucent.
Add chopped tomatoes and cook further till ghee separates.
Pour the tomato paste with 1/2 cup of water in the pan.
Add salt, chilli powder, turmeric powder and the garam masala powder. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Add the jaggery.
When the gravy has been well blended add rice. Stirring occassionally cover and cook for ten minutes until rice is well coated red and looks glossy.
Add the remaining ghee and take off the stove.
Garnish with curryleaves and coriander.
Serve with raitha.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Arisi Upma Kozhukkattai

This is a simple, but sumptuously filling food. Can be had for breakfast, dinner or evening tiffin provided you keep your dinner options very light. This is easily digestable as it is steamed twice.

You can avoid the cashews and peanuts.

Raw rice -1 cup
Thuvar dhal -2 tablespoons
Red chillies - 2 pieces
Whole black pepper -1 teaspoon
Urid dhal -2 tablespoons
Coconut (grated) - 1 tablespoon
Green Chillies -2 pieces
Ginger -small piece
Curry leaves - few
Mustard seeds -1 teaspoon
Channa dhal - 2 teaspoons
Cashews and roasted peanuts (optional)- just a few
Oil/Ghee -1 1/2 tablespoons.
Salt to taste

Put raw rice, thuvar dhal, red chillies and black pepper in the mixie and dry grind to semolina consistency.You may seive the finer powder and use for dosais etc.
Soak urad dhal for about 20 minutes.
Grind to a fine paste the urid dhal, coconut, ginger and green chillies. (you may chop these and use in whole , grinding only the urad.)
In a heavy pan, put 1/2 tablespoon ghee. Add mustard seeds. When they crackle add the channa dhal, cashews and peanuts and the chilly,ginger coconut if you had not ground alongwith the urad.
Toast them until nuts are brown. Add curry leaves and salt. Add about 2 1/4 cups of water.
Bring to a boil and reducing the flame to very low, add 1 tablespoon ghee, the urad dhal paste and stirring well, gently add the rice powder. Stir constantly for few minutes.
Transfer to a vessel that will fit in your steamer and steam for 10 minutes.
Take it out and let it cool. If there were any lumps, break them well. Shape the kozhukkattais and steam again for 10 minutes.
You may have them without any accompaniment. But if you must, serve with chutney, thokku, tomato ketchup etc.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mysore Masala Dosai

Salalah, in the Sultanate of Oman is considered Kerala of the Gulf . This small town lies serenely, in the western most part of Oman, almost near the Yeman border.The Dhofar mountains to it's North and the Arabian sea to the South encapsule this town. As your plane takes off from Muscat's Seeb westwards you see mostly barren rocky mountains all the way. But as the aircraft descends, the coconut palm lined coast is a treat to your eyes.
The rains that come down in July- September season, carpet the Dhofar mountains green. People from all of the other Gulf states come to Salalah during this Khareef season. It is so much business that the land lords let out their premises for only on a 9 month contract and you pay extra rent during the three months to make up their otherwise lost revenue from tourism.
We had one Udipi restaurant there. Whenever we were there my husband used to ask only for their Mysore masala dosai. I'm not a fan of masal dosai and used to wonder what difference was there between the two. So I went ahead and asked them for their recipe and they gave me willingly :)

Mallika Bhadrinath has given a very nice recipe. This is a bit different in the combination. So here is the recipe I used.
It makes 8 very thin but large dosais.


Raw rice -200ml

Urad dhal -2 tablespoons

Thuvar dhal -2 table spoons

Fenugreek - 2 tablespoons

Salt to taste.

Semolina -1 teaspoon

Sugar - 1 teaspoon

Tomato chutney -about 1/4 cup ( recipe below)

Potato masala -1 cup (recipe below)

Soak fenugreek, urad dhal and the thuvar dhal together for a few hours. Wash and soak rice for 1 hour. Blend the fenugreek and dhals in your mixie adding water in small quantities until well blended and frothing. Add the rice and grind to a very smooth batter. Mix the salt, sugar and semolina. Let it stand to ferment just a few hours. (you can use the batter by evening if you grind in the morning)
If you have left over, well fermented idli or dosai batter add that to this batter and you can make your dosais in about two hours after grinding.
Grind the tomato chutney ready. Cook the potato masala and keep aside.
On hot tawa pour out the batter and spread as thin as possible.Add little oil or ghee. Cover the dosai with a lid.
After a minute open the lid, spoon in the chutney and spread on the side of the dosai well. Place some potato masala in the centre and fold triangles.
Repeat with all the batter. Serve hot with chutney, dosai milagai podi or milagu kuzhambu.

Tomato chutney:
Tomatoes - 6 medium sized.
Onions -1 large
Tamarind -size of a small marble
Urid dhal - 1 teaspoon
Channa dhal - 1 teaspoon
Redchillies -3 pieces
Salt to taste.
Oil -1 teaspoon

In a pan put a teaspoon oil and when hot, put in the dhals, chillies, tamarind and onions.Saute until the onions are translucent. Add tomatoes and saute further until tomatoes are pulpy. Take off fire, cool and blend to a chutney.

Potato masala:
Potatoes -150 grams
Green chillies - 2 pieces
Salt to taste
curry leaves, coriander leaves, mustard seeds, cumin or fennel seeds, cashews, channa dhal-for the garnish.

Cook potatoes well. Remove jackets and mash well. Add the salt.
In a pan put some oil. When the oil is hot put mustard and fennel seeds to crackle. Add chillies and dhals.Saute until they are golden.Add the potatoes and let it all mix well. Take off the stove and add curry leaves and coriander leaves.Potato masala is ready.

Sambhar saadham

Way back in 2000, I was looking for an authentic recipe for Bisi bele baath and found one very interesting on Mr. Hemant Trivedi's cookery corner. I printed a copy of the same and have been using it ever since. It turned out so well that I keep his recipe of sambhar powder handy at all times. My mother goes one step ahead. She has also kept the special masala readymade by dry roasting the ingredients. Lately, I read in one of the blogs that the authentic BBB does not include shallots. So, I dropped the BBB title and simply call it Sambhar saadham.
This recipe features on our dining table whenever, I need to empty my fridge before a visit to the green grocer.Depending on the type of veggie I have left over, the menu transforms as pulav, avial, kootu etc.

I have stuck to Mr. Trivedi's recipe mostly, only the quantity of rice, dhal and veggies vary.

Rice - 1 cup
Thuvar dhal - 1/3 cup
Mixed vegetables (cut in big pieces) - 1/2 cup
Shallots -1/4 cup
Tamarind -1 medium lemon size ball.
Salt to taste
Sambhar powder (recipe below) - 2 teaspoons
Masala powder (recipe below) - 1/2 teaspoon
Grated copra - 3 tablespoons
Ghee - 3 tablespoons
Turmeric powder -1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds -2 teaspoons
Curry leaves, Coriander leaves - for garnish

Peel the Madras onions and retain in full pieces.
Extract pulp from tamarind to make about 1/2 cup of extract.
Cook vegetables separately according to their cooking time and mix them.
Cook dhal in a pressure cooker until tender but retains form.
Cook the rice a bit longer than regular. (as for curd rice or pongal).
Roast the grated copra until very bright red and flavoursome.
In a pan heat the ghee. Put in the mustard seeds and let them crackle.
Add shallots and saute them until they are brown. Pour the tamarind extract, add turmeric powder, salt and sambhar powder.
On medium heat let the tamarind extract simmer and reduce in volume.
Meantime add the cooked vegetables to the same and let it simmer.
After about 10 minutes add the cooked dhal and let it boil.
Now carefully transfer the rice and mix well not allowing it to stick to the pan. Stirring occassionally, let the rice and sambhar mix well.
Add the copra and the masala powder. Mix thoroughly. Take off the heat and garnish with curry and coriander leaves.

A very delectable one dish meal is ready to be served hot with anything from roasted potatoes to just crisps.

Sambhar powder:

Redchillies -1 cup
Dhania -3/4 cup
Urad dhal -1/2 tablespoon
Channa dhal - 1/2 tablespoon
Thuvar dhal - 1/2 table spoon
Black pepper -1/2 tablespoon
Turmeric powder -1 teaspoon
Asafoetida -1 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 3-4 sprigs
Fenugreek -1/4 teaspoon
Mustard -1/4 teaspoon
Cumin seeds ( optional) -2 teaspoons

Dry roast all the above ingredients individually. Then mix them in the still warm kadai. Close with a lid while it has cooled down slightly (so that no water condenses) and let it stand so for about an hour. Powder them coarsely. Store in airtight bottles. ( Mr. Trivedi says this will serve only for 3 or 4 times as he is not in favour of storing these powders for long lest they lose aroma.)

( But I store them. They keep well in our fridge for atleast two months.)

Masala powder:

2"X 4 pieces cinnamon
7 numbers cloves
25 grams Maratta moggu.(A unique spice.) if you don't find them, I guess it is okay. I use less than 25 grams.
10 pieces red chillies if they are spicy or slightly more.

In a pan, put some ghee (I dry roast this also), and add the maratta moggu on medium fire until it cracks open slightly.
Immediately remove and keep aside.
In the same pan, roast the redchillies and other ingredients on very low flame for exactly a minute and a half.
Add to the maratta moggu, let them cool. then powder not so fine, but coarse to touch.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Yesterday, after posting a comment for one of my dishes, Niki, my daughter mailed updating her Summer class schedule etc. in order that we plan our chats and calls accordingly. I mailed back filling in news here as it is almost a week that she left home. I promised to post more of recipes that she and her friends can fix amidst their crazy class and labs that seem to fill their days.

This will be one such recipe. Best of it will be that she can put it in her one nonstick pan and get done with if she chooses to. However, the microwave enthusiast that I am, I used more plates and dishes than she would :(

I've tried to simplify specifically with those foursome in mind. You are free to chop, grate or grind masalas to make it taste better.

Brinjals (tender ) -200 grams
Basmati Rice - 150 ml
Coriander powder -2 teaspoons
Red Chillies -2 pieces
Very thin tamarind extract - 1 tablespoon
Shallots (Madras onions ) - few
Garlic - 2 cloves
Roasted peanuts - 1 tablespoon
Curry leaves - few
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Oil or ghee - 2 tablespoons
Garam masala powder - if desired, in some small quantity.
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt - to taste

Wash and cut brinjals. Wash basmati rice and cook till tender but grains separate. Crush the garlic and shallots coarsely or simply chop.

Heat oil in a pan, crackle mustard seeds. Drop the red chillies, onions and garlic in the pan. Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and roasted peanuts. Saute for few minutes and put in the brinjal and tamarind extract. Add salt and cook brinjal until pieces are tender. With the fire low, add the cooked rice and mix well. Garnish with curry leaves just before switching fire off.

Serve hot with crisps and any pachchidi.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mushti Dosai

Few years before and after my marriage, I worked for a Nationalised Bank in India. It took me months to secure a transfer to Mangalore, where my husband was posted. I got a posting in a branch that was labelled "ËXTREMELY LARGE". The business hours will be very busy and crowded that you hardly had time to smile at your colleague sitting in the adjacent chair. But after lunch break, the afternoon session will be relatively relaxed, everyone joking and gossipping as you balanced your ledgers. (we weren't wired then, so your made entries and closed the day balancing them).

Speaking not a word of Kannada, Tulu or Konkani I used ask a colleague to convey to a customer what I had to say. Then, few of my friends at work decided to language tutor me. And coach me they did with lot of fun and fervour, that I was able to read and write Kannada and talk haltingly in all three!!

One such freind, Deepa gave me a womens' magazine and told me to copy a recipe. Her condition was that I take notes down in Kannada, no translations allowed. That is why to date the recipe is noted down in Kannada and saved in my cookbook. However, I'm writing it now from memory, though off and on I fondly recall how well they took me into the fold.

This is a very simple dosai, best had well fermented. Any chutney, sambhar or masal will go well with them.
The following recipe makes 8 to 10 yummy dosais.

Raw rice - 1 standard cup
Urad dhal - 1 fistfull ( about 1/10th of a cup )
Fenugreek seeds - 2 teaspoons
Dessicated coconut - 2 tablespoons
Poha - 1/4 cup
Salt -to taste
Oil /Ghee - little

Soak fenugreek seeds a few hours early. Wash well and soak the rice and dhal together for about an hour. Wash poha separately and soak just until soft.
Blend in the jar of your mixie the coconut and fenugreek seeds first until fenugreek is frothing. Add on the rice - dhal mix and grind further. When more than half done put in the poha and grind to a smooth batter. Add salt. Rinse the jar and add the adherring batter too to the lot.
Stand the batter overnight to ferment.

Pour ladlefuls on hot pan, cover with lid. Cook for few minutes until done. Not necessary to turn over as the steam would have taken care of the top side. If you still want that side well done turn over for few minutes.
Serve with chutney, masal, idli milagai podi or sambhar.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rasam -Naagaiyanallur style

Naagaiyanallur is a small village in Tiruchi district. Most families there were in the culinary business. So famous that, they were the most sought after groups in the entire Salem, Trichy, Karur, Erode belt to be hired for every function in the family.They create sheer magic that our tongues will tickle at the mere look and aroma emnating from the kitchens.

As both my parents were born with lot of siblings, there were some big eventful wedding to insignificant, but crowded small functions happening in the family throughout my childhood. Oh we just used to love those days as preparations will go on for days and the house will be filled with all kinds of aroma. As kids we would be fascinated. They were the caterers for my wedding and my sisters' weddings too.

This RASAM is their trademark recipe. I can't claim to have achieved 100% taste. But I know it is sure somewhere in that range. The recipe makes for four servings.

Tamarind -1 small lime size
Tomato - 1 medium
Thoor Dhal -4 tablespponsful
Salt - to taste
Rasam powder (recipe given) -1/2 teaspoon
Asafoetida -1teaspoon
Turmeric powder -! teaspoon
Mustard seeds -1 teaspoon
Cumin seeds -1 teaspoon
Black pepper powder, cumin powder -just a hint of each
Curry leaves - few
Coriander leaves - few
Ghee - for tempering

Soak tamarind in warm water and extract pulp until the water is almost clear.
Cook thuvar dhal and half tomato in the pressure cooker. Mash well , mix some more water.Keep aside.
To the tamarind extract, add salt, 1/2 spoon of asafoetida, turmeric powder, the other half of tomato and rasam powder.
Microwave on medium high for 8 minutes.
Add the cooked dhal. Return to microwave and cook on high for 4 minutes.
Temper mustard seeds, cumin seeds and some asafoetida in ghee.Quickly transfer to the rasam. Drop the curry and coriander leaves. Dash a bit of pepper and cumin powders. Close immediately until you are serving at the table. This locks the aromatic goodness.

For best results, the tamarind extract should boil well. Rasam should be off the fire just when it is frothing.Don't boil. The thuvar dhal must be well cooked, mashed and should be thin. Thick paste is for sambhars. Rasams are meant to be lighter.

This rasam is suitable to drink and for rice.Rasavadais will need more thicker base.

Hope you will enjoy this rasam as much as our family does.


Red chillies 2 cups
Coriander seeds 1 cup
Black whole peppercorns and Cumin seeds put together 1/5 cup
Heat in your microwave the redchillies until brittle.
Roast coriander seeds, peppercorns and cumin seeds. Transfer all of these to the jar of a blender and powder to a fine consistency.
If you are getting the powder done in commercial mills, it is enough to sun-dry the contents. However, adding just one drop of castor oil to the red chillies while roasting helps reduce irritation while roasting and also enables longer shelf life.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mysorepaak -Happy Birthday to a dear friend

Tomorrow, the 8th day of June is the birthday of one very dear friend. She simply walked up to us one evening during our walks and introduced herself. Her two very cute children were eagerly befriending my daughter and on that very first instance we struck a friendship that we cherish. Through her we found more friends in Johore Bahru. Ever since, we are more family than anything. Despite age differences we discuss everything.

Today, most of us are in different countries. But thro' Skype, Facebook or whichever network we keep in touch. Inspite of her busy schedule as a kindergarten teacher and the kids in middle and high school, she keeps contact. So this post is dedicated to you LALITHA...Wish you a very happy birthday and many happy returns!!!!

The Mysorepaak recipe was not just handed down to me by my paternal grandma. It was something she sat next to me and made me do for the family when I was merely 13 years of age. I have mastered her technique so much that she used to say that neither of her daughters or daughters-in-law picked it up from her as I did. Incidentally she taught me to make Halwa too.

Weight watchers may not even want to try this recipe, for it doesnot turn out well if every ingredient is not to measurement. However, I invite you to try once and forget the calories in the taste.

In the days when I was learning this recipe, the sugar was less sweeter and not as fine. So, they added more sugar. Now this recipe makes sweet mysorepaaks that may melt in your mouths. The one rule I follow is to melt butter fresh for the ghee.

I meant to weigh the ingredients but forgot to, because I usually go by volume. I use my cups those are 175ml in size.The following recipe makes 60 pieces as big as shown in the picture.

Gram flour (the fresher, the better)-2 cups
Sugar -4 1/2 cups
Ghee (molten consistency)-2 cups
Cardamon powder-2 tablespoons
Water - 1 cup
some ghee to grease the tray

Seive the gram flour well. Put this in a plate and add 1 1/4 cups of the ghee to this and mix well to make a thick batter. Keep aside. In a heavy pan put the sugar with a cup of water and stir well. The sugar should boil to give you a syrup that will form a string when pressed between the thumb and forefinger,then pulled apart.

At this point, keep the fire on the lowest and pour the flour- ghee mixture in it with one hand while trying to stir with the other. This point forward take care to stir constantly. At intervals add the rest of the ghee in small quantities until all of it is used up. Add the cardoman powder too.

The mixture will bubble in the middle at first and slowly begin to leave the sides.You may feel more pressure in your stirring too. When it leaves the sides, quickly transfer to prepared tray. Let it cool a bit and with a knife shape pieces.

There you go. Serve as dessert and bask in the praises.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Coconut Fruit Plait.

I have copied this recipe from the packet of Blue Key Bread Flour. Mrs.Loo, my Chinese neighbour in Johor Baru, is 10 years my senior; our birthdays are one day apart :) I have never known her to be idle. She had four daughters, of whom one was away in Uni, two were in Junior college and the last in secondary school.

Her husband worked in Singapore and the girls schooled there. To beat the Causeway traffic, they would leave home at 5.30 in the morning. So her day starts earlier than that, with never ending chores. She taught me to bake bread, a few cookies, buns et al. From her recipe book I have borrowed some notes and use them. This is one such recipe, simple yet the results are good to see and eat, of course.

Flour-500 grams
Active dried yeast-1/2 tablespoon
Water-260 grams
Salt-5 grams (1 Teaspoon)
Sugar-70 grams
Butter-50 grams
Dessicated coconut -50 grams
Milk -1 tablespoon
Mixed dry fruits -100 grams

Glace icing and Cherries or Castor Sugar and Cherries

Raise the yeast in a bowl.
In a bowl put in the flour, sugar, salt, dessicated coconut and butter. Mix thoroughly. Add the yeast and knead until a smooth dough develops. Add mixed dry fruits and knead further.
Rest the dough and let it rise for about an hour.
Divide dough in twelve equal portions. Roll three of such balls into thick ropes and make a plait.

Leave on a baking tray. Repeat with all the dough. Place the plaits on baking trays, leave for some more time until the oven preheats. Bake at 210°C for 18 minutes.

Cool on wire racks. While still warm make the topping.

These buns can be baked one or two at a time depending on the capacity of the oven. If you are not baking all in one go, just cover the prepared plait so it does not dry from top.

Makes a good breakfast or a teatime snack.

Eggless cake - Niki's Baking Attempt

This is a Nestle recipe. Back in India, some one from Nestle visited my sister's home and demonstrated this recipe using Milkmaid. Ever since she bakes this often. It is very simple and very delectable.

So, when she goes back to Kansas, Niki wanted to bake this for a friend whose birthday is sometime in June, as this friend is a very strict vegetarian and does not eat eggs. She wanted a practice attempt at home.

Inspite of having a Nestle plant in Tema, I did not find their condensed milk on the shelves of the super markets. Suddenly, three days ago, we spotted just a few cans tucked behind the evaporated milk cans and we swept them all into our trolley. So yesterday she baked the cake and is happy to have done a good job.

Maida - 200 grams
Sweetened condensed milk - 1 tin (385 grams/13.6 oz.)
Butter - 100 grams
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Bi Carbonate of Soda - 1 tsp
Aerated Soda - 150 ml
Vanilla Essence - 1/2 tsp

Grease the baking tin and set the oven at 180°C/350°F.
Soften the butter. Add milkmaid and beat well. Add the vanilla essence.
Sieve together the maida, baking powder and soda bicarbonate.
Add maida mixture and aerated soda alternatively to the batter until all the maida and soda are used up.
Pour the batter into the baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 45 - 50 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool for a while. Turnout over a wire rack or a plate lined with cloth (to absorb the moisture)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tomato pulikkachchal

My mom's recipe notebook has some randomly written tips. She has actually copied down how each vegetable can be kept fresh longer.... In the 60s and 70s, the fridge was a luxury!
Here is how she kept her tomatoes. wash them and rub gently dry and arrange on a flat plate or on a newspaper looking up. Next day turn them over. Repeat this process the next day and so on, until all the tomatoes are consumed. she kept them even after dad bought her a good capacity fridge :)
Our dear Velamma, our then live-in maid, would purchase firm tomatoes and stock them for her. Velamma used to indulge us with all our favourite vegetables. Whenever she spotted good veggies she would purchase saying that one of us will eat it heartily. She stayed with us until my daughter was about a year and a half. Velamma died of good old age two or three years later. She doubled and trebled her duties whenever the need arose without being asked to. She nursed my grandmother when ill, stayed up with me at night when I was term due and nannied my colic stricken daughter.. and much much more. We miss her and can never replace her.
Guess that is a big dose of nostalgia folks. Now the recipe, that can serve as a side dish, ready mix for rice or just a dip with hot samosas, french fries etc. You get about 200ml of finished dish with the following measures.


Firm, ripe tomatoes - 250 grams
Tamarind paste - 1 tablespoon
Red chillies - 6 pieces
Green chillies - 6 pieces
Sesame oil - 5 tablespoons
Salt - to taste
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves - few
Cilantro - few strands chopped
Tumeric - 1/2 teaspoon
Asafoetida - 1/2 teaspoon

Wash tomatoes and drop them in boiling water. Boil until the peel cracks. Drain, but reserve the water for further use. remove the skin and puree the tomatoes. Add salt, tamarind pulp and the reserved water.
Put the oil in a pan and on medium fire and let the mustards crackle. Then add the asafoetida and turmeric. Break red chillies in twos and slit green chillies. Put them in the pan and saute for a while.
Pour the pureed tomato and bring to a boil. Lower the fire to medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes until oil separates and floats on top. Garnish with the curry leaves and cilantro.
Store in clean jars. Stays well in the fridge for 4 days.