Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cup of corn

They are available in most places you are likely to visit during any given weekend - right from crowded multiplexes to plush shopping malls to the humble neighbourhood departmental store! They come in various sizes - S, M and L.

Well, well, I am talking about the 'cup of American sweet corn'. Two spoons of it and you would be lost in the taste.. The next thing you would know is that you are scraping the bottom of your cup with the plastic spoon with this awful feeling - 'aah, got over so soon!'

This yummy healthy snack is our all-time family favourite. Tried my hand at recreating this magic at home. K's final verdict (which made my day): 'This corn is the best I've ever had. It is much much better than the ones we get outside' :-)

Ingredients (serves two)
  • Sweet corn (boiled): 1 + 1/2 cups
  • Butter: 2 tsp (those who are calorie conscious, pl dont omit this.. this ingredient is 'the' taste amplifier)
  • Salt: to taste
  • Pepper powder: to taste
  • Corriander leaves: 1/2 tbsp, chopped very fine
  • Lemon juice: 1+ 1/2 tsp
  • Boil the sweet corn. Just follow the instructions on the cover. My packet instructed me to immerse the cover in boiling water for 3 - 5 minutes. Did just that and the corn tasted great
  • Drain out all the water in the sweet corn and set aside
  • To this, add salt, pepper, butter, lemon juice and finely chopped corriander leaves
  • Quickly mix everything very well
  • Adjust the salt-pepper-lemon juice ratio to your liking
  • Serve hot!!
You could create endless variations using tomato ketchup, chaat masala, grated cheese..... etc. This yummy cup of corn goes straight to 'Food for 7 stages of life - Kids special event', hosted by RV and inspired by Sudeshna

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tomato & Spring Onion Rice

Each one of us have a handful of dishes which we can cook even in sleep. We have made them over and over so many times, we do not need to stick to any specific recipe. We know how much of what goes into the dish, where the ingredients are available, etc etc. We can cook even with the lights off!!

This tomato rice is one such a recipe for me. Utterly easy yet absolutely tasty – it can be put together in 15 – 20 minutes flat! It requires just a few ingredients, mostly seen in our pantry. This recipe is from my mom. Her usual tomato rice has onions instead of spring onions. Here, I have used spring onions since I had them handy. They added beautiful colours to my tomato rice!

Ingredients (serves two)
  • Raw rice (any variety): 1 cup
  • Water: 1 + ¾ cups
  • Onion (large): 1, sliced fine [or] Spring onions: 6 - 7 sprigs, finely chopped
  • Tomatoes (slightly bigger than medium): 4, sliced
  • Green chillies (optional): 1, chopped
  • Garlic (optional): 3 – 4 pods, sliced
  • Turmeric powder: ½ tsp
  • Chilli powder: ½ tsp or to taste
  • Salt: to taste
  • Garam masala: 1 tsp
  • Cashews: 5- 6
  • Cloves: 2
  • Cinnamon: Small bit
  • Cardamom: 2
  • Bay leaf: Half of one leaf
  • Jeera: 1 tsp
  • Corriander leaves: to garnish
  • Oil: 3-4 tbsp

  • Wash the rice well. Drain water and keep aside
  • Chop all the vegetables and keep them handy
  • Take a pressure cooker
  • Add oil
  • Finish off with the tadka of cashews, cloves, cinnamon, bayleaf, cardamom and jeera
  • Now add the green chilli, garlic and spring onions. Sauté till they are slightly brown
  • Once done, add tomatoes
  • Also add the salt, garam masala, chilli powder and turmeric powder
  • Sauté for a about 2 – 3 minutes
  • Now add the rice and sauté gently for another three minutes.
  • Add 1 + ¾ cup of water
  • Close the cooker with the weight on. Keep it on medium flame. Once three whistles are done, let it stay on a low flame for 2-3 minutes
  • Switch off after two minutes
  • Once the pressure is released, mix the rice, adjust salt and garnish with coriander leaves
  • Serve hot!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Capsicum Paruppusili

Go to any traditional celebration like a wedding or an upanayanam in Chennai - you are bound to be greeted by the famous paruppusili, staring at you from the vaazha yelai (banana leaf). Paruppusili is basically a dry curry which is an amazing combination of lentils and vegetable tossed together with minimum tempering. A prominent hing signature adds a brilliant aroma to this dish. This paruppusili is mostly had with Mor Kuzhambu (the tamilian kadhi) or venthiya kuzhambu (a non-dal tamarind based gravy).

The procedure to make paruppusili is slightly longer than most south indian dry curries. But believe me, the effort would definitely be worth it. The most common vegetable used in paruppusilis is beans. But, any vegetable would actually go well with the legumes. This recipe is from my mother. I just substituted beans with capsicum.

Ingredients (serves 2 – 3)

• Toor dal: ½ cup
• Red chillies (long): 3
• Capsicum (deseeded and chopped): 1 and a half cups
• Oil: 4 – 5 tbsp
• For the tempering:
• Mustard: 1 tsp
• Urad dal: ¾ tsp
• Curry leaves: 15 – 20
• Hing: ½ tsp


•Wash and clean the toor dal. Soak for a minimum of 2 – 3 hours along with the red chillies
•Drain all the water. In a mixie, make a coarse dry mixture (without water) of the dal and the red chillies adding the required salt
•Now, steam them in the cooker for about ten minutes. I use idli plates to do it. But, it is upto you to use them or not
•Once steamed, let them cool. Crumble them into pieces. Now, run it in the mixie for exactly one whip. This removes all the lumps in the steamed mixture
•Now, a kadai
•Add about 1 – 2 tbsp of oil and fry the vegetable very well. Add a little salt so that it cooks faster. Once it is done, keep aside
•Now in the same kadai, add the remaining oil
•Finish off with tempering and add the dal mixture and fry very well. This requires tossing and turning of the dal constantly on medium flame
•Once this is done, add the cooked vegetable
•Toss it repeatedly so that the two blend well
•Hing should be prominent. So, adjust it to the point that it casually dominates the dish but not to the point of making the curry bitter. Adjust salt also
•Once you feel the two are blended, switch off the stove
•Serve with hot rice and ghee

Capsicum paruppusili is my contribution to ‘My Legume Love Affair – 17’, created by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook and hosted by Sra

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rava Ladoo

I have a feeling ladoos are always the easiest sweets to make. Make a mix - of anything, drizzle some hot ghee over it and lo! Yummy ladoos are ready in a matter of minutes. And during diwali, this is one of the reasons why ladoos secure a definite place among the list of sweets-to-do in most households.

One of the diwali sweets this year at my home was - the easy rava ladoo. This is a popular diwali sweet in Chennai. Despite its tremendous popularity, each home has its own ways of making the rava ladoo. I have never tasted rava ladoos of two homes being similar. Well.. this recipe is from my mother and this yields about ten medium sized ladoos.
  • Bombay rava (suji): 1 cup
  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Ghee: 1/3 cup
  • Cashews (broken into bits): 7 - 8
  • Raisins: 10 - 15
  • Grated coconut: 1/3 cup (optional)
  • Take a heavy bottomed kadai
  • Add 2 tbsp of ghee to it. Once hot, fry the cashews and raisins till golden brown. Keep aside
  • Add the rava and elaichi powder. Fry till a yummy aroma arises and it turns golden brown. Do this on a low flame. Let it cool down
  • Once it is cool enough for the mixie, run the rava and elaichi powder in the mixie till it becomes a reasonably fine powder. Run it a couple of times if the rava is stubborn. Empty into a large basin
  • Now, powder the sugar. Add it to the rava in the basin
  • Introduce the cashews, raisins and the grated coconut into the basin
  • Mix very well.
  • Heat the remaining ghee. Pour on top of this mixture
  • Make firm ladoos quickly
  • If making of the ladoos are a trouble, add a little more ghee to it. Else, sprinkle some warm milk on the mixture and try again. In a couple of trials, the ladoos should be done
  • Enjoy!
My Rava Ladoos are my contribution to "Sunday Snacks: Festive snacks of Navarathri and Diwali", hosted by Indrani

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Potato Halwa

What?? Halwa with potatoes?? Was my first reaction when I first saw this recipe. But, at the back of my mind I had resolved to make it whenever an opportune moment presented itself. Such a moment came few days ago. My in-laws had come to stay with us for a couple of days. So, I thought of trying this Potato Halwa. I had my own sweet share of anxieties, hows, what-ifs and buts before getting in. But, I took the plunge (thankfully!). What came out was a serious piece of dessert that can be served with your head held high even for the best of parties.

However, one area of caution (for people like me) is that while the dish cooks, it emits a certain natural smell of potatoes. Personally, I don’t like it. I was also scared this smell might remain in the final product. Fortunately, the halwa did not have even a trace of it. It is advised to add a slightly extra dose of cardamom, edible camphor and saffron so that this smell is camouflaged perfectly. My overall verdict: A very impressive dessert.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • Potatoes (peeled and grated): One and a half cups
  • Sugar: ½ cup (or more or less depending on how sweet you want the dish)
  • Milk: 1 cup
  • Ghee: 1/3 cup
  • Water: ¼ cup
  • Cardamom (powdered): 1 tsp
  • Saffron: few strands
  • Edible camphor: one pinch
  • Yellow colouring: one pinch
  • Almonds: Chopped fine (to garnish)


  • Heat a heavy bottomed or a non-stick kadai
  • Add 2 – 3 tbsp of ghee
  • Add the potatoes, water, milk, sugar on medium flame
  • Keep stirring occasionally
  • After about 15 minutes, the potatoes would almost be done
  • From now on, pay close attention to it. Simmer the flame
  • Add the cardamom powder, camphor, saffron, and yellow colouring
  • Keep stirring it
  • It would solidify further
  • Now add the remaining ghee
  • After cooking for some more time, the halwa would completely comes off the sides of the kadai
  • It would be sort-of semi-solid in consistency. It would not stick to your fingers and you would be able to make an unsticky slightly hard ball out of it
  • This is when it is called complete
  • Pour the halwa into greased moulds of desired shapes
  • Serve warm or cool garnished with almonds
  • Done!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pav Bhaji

A makeshift kitchen that probably measures 6 x 6 ft, some hundred-odd customers at any given point in time.. a couple of service boys running around frantically, a pot of water to wash your hands, the background of blaring horns and most importantly, hungry growling stomachs and unbelievably tasty food!! I talking about the very famous Kaiyendhi Bhavan(s) of Chennai.. This literally means, 'a place where you receive your food with your arms stretched' (sorry.. lot of originality lost in my attempted translation).. This is probably one dimension of Chennai Street Food which I urge all my friends to explore, whenever they make a trip to Chennai. Believe me, you will not be disappointed.

All of us love street food. We never get tired of it. (Wonder why we get tired of vegetables so easily!?!) A few attempts at making Chaat and other street food stuff got me pass marks with great difficulty. Going through Nupur's recipe of Pav Bhaji (the signature dish of Mumbai streets), and the associated reviews gave me an instant confidence of an impending victory with Pav Bhaji. I stuck to Nupur's recipe like I had been bound by glue. The only deviation was that I added the juice of one lemon to the bhaji after switching off the flame.

The Pav Bhaji was so good that, the first time I made it, even before I could click a snap, it was all gone. So, got to click this snap when I made it for the second time. This recipe serves four reasonably generously. The recipe is a winner all the way!


  • Potatoes (medium): 3, skinned and cut into large chunks
  • Cauliflower (medium): 1, florets measuring to 3 - 4 cups
  • Capsicum: 1, chopped
  • Tomatoes (medium): 5- 6, made into a paste in the mixie
  • Peas (frozen or otherwise): 1/2 cup
  • Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
  • Pav Bhaji Masala: 1-2 tbsp (according to taste)
  • Butter: 1 tbsp for the gravy + more to be smeared on the pav
  • Oil: 2 -3 tbsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Lemon: 2 - 3
  • Onions (medium): chopped fine, to garnish
  • Corriander: chopped fine, to garnish


  • Dunk the chopped cauliflower florets in boiling water for a minute - to de-worm them (just in case)
  • Boil vegetables (cauliflower, potatoes and peas) for about three whistles, till they are tender
  • Take a kadai. Heat oil
  • Fry the capsicum for a whle
  • Then add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry well again
  • Add tomato puree
  • Add the turmeric powder and chilli powder. Saute very well
  • Close the lid and let it cook for some time
  • After the raw smell has disappeared, add the boilded veggies and pav bhaji masala and the butter
  • Keep sauteing and mashing till it becomes a smooth mixture
  • Add water if needed
  • Now, once it comes to a boil, keep the flame on an absolute low and let it remain there for about 20 - 25 minutes. This is when the wedlock of the veggies and the flavours takes place to give that irresistible taste to the bhaji
  • Keep stirring it once in a while. Adjust salt and the masala quotient
  • Once it is done, switch off.
  • Add the juice of one lemon to it. Mix well
  • Garnish with corriander leaves
  • Now, the bhaji is done
  • Halve the pav and toast on both sides on a pan. Add a good coating of butter in between and serve with the bhaji.
  • Sprinkle the bhaji with chopped onion, corriander leaves and a wedge of lemon
  • Absolutely divine! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Columbian Karamani (Lobhia) Rice

Weekday lunches are usually personal affairs for me. I am my customer. I am the final boss. This is my time to make and taste different flavours from other blogs that I passionately bookmark during my daily visits. I usually try to put something together in less than 15-20 minutes. This way, I will have tried something new, yet not spent too much time cooking..

One such a weekday lunch experiment was inspired by Meera's Columbian Rice. This rice is made out of Black-eyed peas or 'Lobhia' or 'karamani', as we call it. This just called for a couple of hours of soaking of the bean. You will practically sing through the remaining recipe. End result: Divinely flavourful, absolutely earthy rice!

Karamani: 1 cup (soak it for a couple of hours if you have time)
Rice: 1 cup
Water: 2 cups
Onion: 1, sliced
Bayleaf: 1
Red chilli: 2
Oil: 2 tbsp
Corriander leaves (to garnish)

Grind to a paste:
Garlic: 2 cloves
Corriander: 2 - 3 tbsp

  • Add some water to the karamani and cook it for about two whistles - till it is semi done
  • Reserve the cooking liquor
  • Wash rice, drain water and keep aside
  • Now, take a nonstick kadai. Heat oil and make the tadka
  • Add the onions and saute' till they are slightly brown
  • Add the ground paste of garlic and corriander. Saute'
  • Add the rice. Saute gently for a couple of minutes
  • Now, measure the karamani-cooked cooking liquor. Add water to it. On the whole, we need two and a half cups of liquid to cook the rice
  • Introduce the measured two and a half cups of liquid into the kadai
  • Lower the flame
  • Cook covered for fifteen minutes
  • Once done, mix gently
  • Garnish with corriander leaves - something that i skipped in all the hunger and hurry :)
  • Serve steamy hot!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cabbage Kofta Curry

It gives me enormous happiness in refering to my friend - R's visit again and again.. She gave me a great recipe of Cabbage Kofta curry. I could never believe this humble hostel vegetable could metamorphose into such a scrumptious party dish. After googling for some more information on the curry, I realised that there are umpteen variations to this dish. So, armed with the culinary wisdom R bequeathed me and some google-insights, I set out to make my own version of Cabbage Kofta Curry. This curry made out of cabbage balls, simmered in a rich thick gravy is a definite once-in-a-while indulgence!


For the koftas:
Cabbage: 1/2 of a slightly big cabbage, chopped very fine
Green peas: fresh or frozen: 1/4 cup
Green chilli: 1, finely chopped
Shajeera or Jeera: 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1/2 tsp or to taste
Besan: About 1/2 of a cup (or more or less; since this is the binding agent which holds the koftas together)
Salt: to taste
Oil: to deepfry the koftas

For the gravy:
Onions (medium): 3
Tomatoes (large): 3
Garlic: 5 - 6 cloves
Ginger: 1/2 inch piece
Cashews: 7-8, soaked in warm water for half an hour
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp or to taste
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Oil: 2 tbsp
Corriander leaves, chopped: to garnish

For the tadka:
Cloves: 2
Cinnamon: 1 inch piece
Elaichi: 2
Bay leaf: 1
Jeera: 1/2 tsp

Method to make the koftas:

  • Wash and clean the vegetable. Chop into very fine bits. Now, in a pressure cooker, steam the cabbage and the peas in an open vessel for about ten minutes
  • Let the steam release. Cool the cabbage a bit, so that the skin on our fingers is not compromised
  • Now, preferably using a clean cloth, (or, if a cloth is not found handy), atleast using your hands, squeeze all the water from the vegetable. Do NOT throw away the vegetable water. This can be conveniently poured into the gravy at later stages
  • This step is very important because removal of all the excess water would mean that the koftas would be easy to make and difficult to break. If this step is not done, then, the whole kofta mixture would become soggy and would definitely not yield right results
  • Now, add the shajeera, salt, chopped green chilli, red chilli powder, and the necessary besan and make koftas out of them
  • Deepfry the koftas
  • Now, we are done with one part of the dish

Method to make the gravy:

  • Take a kadai
  • Heat oil and make the tadka
  • Now add the ginger-garlic-tomato-onion paste. Cover the kadai. Let it cook for about ten minutes on a slow flame. Just keep giving it an occasional stir.
  • Add salt and all other masala powders. Again let it cook for about 5 - 6 minutes
  • Once you feel it is done, add the cashewnut paste. Cook well again for about five minutes.
  • Add necessary water whenever you feel. The gravy should not be too thick because, after introducing the koftas into the dish, the koftas would soak up all the available water and the curry would turn out very thick.
  • After introducing the cashewnut paste, keep stirring because, this paste tends to stick to the bottom of the kadai
  • When the gravy has cooked enough, introduce the koftas gently
  • Keep the stove on a slow flame all the time, slowly toss the koftas around in the kadai. Do it gently so that the koftas do not break
  • Once done, garnish with corriander leaves
  • Done!
  • Serve hot with roti or naan!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Hostel days were total fun! It was even more fun when somebody went home and returned. For their bags would be loaded with all those lovely goodies. The next week or so would keep us busy, munching our hearts out. The best part was that knowledge of the existence of and access to those snacks was restricted to those who belonged to the room.

On one such an occasion, my roommate, who was from Bijapur regularly brought Chooda - a crispy savoury snack made out of rice flakes. I feel this low-fat chooda incarnated only to satisfy those 4-o clock snack-cravings. I wrote down this recipe, probably two years ago from Payaswini's cookbook- a nice collection of kannada recipes. I have tweaked it here and there to suit my tongue.


  • Thin poha: 4 cups
  • Peanuts: 1 cup
  • Cashewnuts (broken): 1/4 cup
  • Fried bengal gram: 1/2 cup
  • Dry coconut pieces (kopra): 1/4 cup
  • Mustard: 1 tsp
  • Red chillies (cut into bits): 4 - 5
  • Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Hing: 1/2 tsp
  • Sugar: 2 tbsp
  • Curry leaves: 2 / 3 sprigs
  • Salt: to taste
  • Oil: 2 - 3 tbsp


  • Take a heavy bottomed kadai. Keep it on slow-medium flame
  • Dry roast the poha gently till they become crisp. Take care while roasting. Ensure that they dont break. Keep aside
  • Now dry roast the peanuts and the fried bengal gram individually. Keep aside
  • Now add oil in the kadai
  • Add the mustard seeds. Allow them to crackle
  • Add the broken bits of the red chillies and curry leaves. Allow it to change colour
  • Now add cashews and kopra pieces. Fry them till golden
  • Add the turmeric, red chilli powder, hing, salt and sugar. Mix for few seconds
  • Now add the peanuts, fried chana dhall and the poha
  • Mix well, but take care not to damage the poha
  • Adjust salt and sugar
  • Done!
  • Store in an airtight container for future use.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kadai Vegetable

In reality, all of us have personal favourites. Be it a TV show, or an aunt, or an actor, or a cricketer - all of us are both perpetrators and victims of favouritism. And, we 'definitely' have our favourite food! Instinctively, we are drawn towards our favourite food..
If we introspect carefully, whenever we visit restaurants, we would probably be ordering a particular dish again and again - probably seeking some kind of comfort given the bewildering array of choices presented in the menu cards.. This definitely happens to myself and K. When at any restaurant, no matter what we order or dont order, Kadai Vegetable would eventually find its way up our table, and eventually, our stomachs!

Such personal favourites should be made at home, for sure. My search yielded these two recipes that came close to what I taste all the time. Making a medley of both these recipes, I have made my own. It yields yummy results all the time.

Ingredients (serves three)

  • Capsicums (medium): 2
  • Carrots (medium): 2
  • Beans: 6 - 7
  • Cauliflower: 6 - 8 florets
  • Potatoes (small): 2
  • Tomatoes: 2
  • Onions: 2
  • Paneer: 10 - 15 pieces
  • Green peas: A handful
  • Garam masala: 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tbsp
  • Bay leaves: 2 Nos
  • Oil: 5 - 6 tbsp
  • Salt: to taste
  • Cashews (optional): 5 - 6
  • Corriander leaves: to garnish
    To grind to a coarse powder:
  • Corriander seeds: 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
  • Red chillies: 3


  • Chop all the vegetables into fairly big one 3/4 inch pieces. Do NOT chop them too small
  • Coarsely grind cumin seeds, corriander seeds and red chillies and keep aside. Dry roast it if you feel like to increase the aroma. Else, omit it
  • Fry one onion in one tsp of oil. To this, add curry leaves, cashews and tomatoes and make a fine paste
  • Now, in a kadai, add 2- 3 tbsp of oil and fry all the vegetables till they are done. No need to add paneer now. This can be added later. Keep the fried vegetables aside.
  • Now heat another kadai (or the same one, as per your wish)
  • Add oil and tadka using bay leaves
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and onions and cook well
  • Add the ground tomato paste and cook again till all the raw smell disappears
  • Meanwhile add the ground dry masala, turmeric powder, garam masala
  • When you feel the tomato paste has cooked enough, add the saute'd veggies and paneer
  • Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup water and cook covered till the vegetables are soft
  • Let the gravy thicken to reach the right consistency
  • Garnish with corriander leaves
  • Serve hot with rotis
  • Done!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Groundnut ladoos

Peanuts again!

If there were a club for peanut lovers, I am sure to be its President. I am one of those who can eat/enjoy groundnuts in absolutely any form. When I saw Valli's peanut ladoos which she had made for Ganesh Chaturthi, I instantly knew this is going to be yet another lip-smacking incarnation of the wonder nut!!

My recipe, which makes about 17 fairly big ladoos, is completely Srivalli's except that I had used 3-4 tbsp of ghee for double of her quantity of peanuts. My ladoos tasted a little more sweeter than they should have been because I had used two packed cups of grated jaggery instead of two loose cups.. This is one place to be slightly cautious.. Else, the ladoos were yummmmmmm!


  • Roasted peanuts: 2 cups
  • Grated jaggery: 2 cups
  • Ghee: 3 -4 tbsp (just to hold the ladoos together- add more if you feel like)
  • Cardamom powder: 1/2 tsp
Method to make the ladoos:

  • M/W the peanuts till they are done or roast them in a kadai. I M/W-ed the nuts for about four-and-a-half minutes, just kept stirring once in 40 seconds or so. They were done fast.
  • Allow the nuts to cool and remove the skin
  • Grate the jaggery on the other hand and measure two (loose) cups
  • Add the nuts, jaggery and cardamom powder and start whipping in the mixie
  • The texture of the ladoos is a question of personal choice. I had mine about 90% smooth, just wanted one or two pieces of peanuts in between for texture
  • Empty the contents of the mixie into a wide basin
  • Heat 3 - 4 tbsp of ghee and pour on top of the mixture
  • Make ladoos
  • Done!
  • Finish of as many ladoos as you can while making them since you may not get to see them once you take them out of the kitchen :)
  • Enjoy!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Masala Peanuts

Peanuts gently coated in spicy gram flour batter coupled with a hot cup of tea is a perfect way to spend pleasant winter evenings. Usha's recipe ended my search for a M/W masala peanut recipe. These addictive pop-ins are tremendously tasty, yet fabulously fast to make. My version takes about six-and-a-half to seven minutes in my M/W. This recipe serves three.


  • Peanuts: (1 cup)
  • Besan/Gram flour: 1/2 of 1/4 cup i.e., 1/8 of a cup
  • Rice flour: 1/8 of a cup
  • Jeera: 1 tsp
  • Oil: 11/2tbsp
  • Salt: 1/2 tsp + one pinch (or to taste)
  • Hing: 2 pinches
  • Water: 1/8 of a cup - to sprinkle
  • Chilli powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 2 pinches
  • Saunf (optional): 1/2 tsp


  • Mix all dry ingredients in a large M/W bowl
  • Add oil and mix well
  • Now sprinkle water little by little. This would mean some parts would turn into a lump. It is ok
  • Mix well
  • M/W for one minute
  • Now using a spoon, remove the lumps
  • Mix again and M/W for another minute
  • Keep M/W ing (30-40 seconds at a time) and mixing till the nuts turn dark brown
  • Let it stand for about ten minutes
  • M/W Masala peanuts are ready!


Chitrannam is definitely one of my favourite rice items. This is straight from my patti's kadai. My patti in turn, learnt it from her aunt, who hails from Bellary. It is a hybrid of tamarind rice and coconut rice - slightly blander than the former, but, spicier than the latter. The aroma of ground mustard seeds is definitely a bright underline in my patti's chitrannam.

To grind to a fine paste:
  • Grated coconut : 1 cup
  • Red chillies: 10 Nos
  • Mustard: 1 tsp
  • LG: 1/4 tsp
  • Tamarind: 2-inch piece
  • Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
  • Salt: to taste
For the tempering:
  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
  • Groundnuts: 2 tbsp
  • Cashews (optional): 5 or 6
  • Channa dhall: 1 tsp
  • Urad dhall: 1 tsp
  • Red chillies: 2, broken into pieces
  • Curry leaves: 10 - 15
  • Coconut oil: 1 - 2 tbsp
  • Gingelly oil: 1 - 2 tbsp
  • Raw rice: 1 cup
Method to make Chitrannam:

  • Pressure cook the raw rice adding 1 tsp gingelly oil to it. The cooked rice should not be sticky Now, spread the cooked rice on a plate, preferably under the fan
  • Take a heavy-bottomed kadai.Add coconut oil and gingelly oil. (Both oils add to the flavour of the dish)
  • Temper using all the items listed above
  • Add the ground paste and fry very well till the raw smell of the tamarind and coconut disappear.
  • Add the cooked rice in it
  • Mix well
  • Done!
  • Serve hot!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Kaara kozhukattai

I was looking at a very quick neivedyam during one of the days in Navarathri. I was flipping through my cooking diary frantically and I landed here. Atti Kindi Kozhukattai. Or simply Easy Kaara Kozhukattai. It is from Solai's Kitchen ( I followed her recipe to the last line. Just that Iused four instead of six red chillies and used the modak mould to make the kozhukattais. They looked good and tasted yummy too.

Boiled rice (puzhungal arisi: One and a half cups
For the tempering:
Oil: 2- 3 tbsp
Mustard: 1 tsp
Channa dhall: 1 tsp
Urad dhall: 1 tsp
Red chillies: 4 (broken into small bits)
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Grated coconut: 3 tbsp
Hing: One big pinch
Salt to taste

Method of preparation:

  • Soak the rice for a couple of hours
  • Drain water and grind it with the required water and salt for two minutes in the mixie. The batter should have the consistency of dosa batter.
  • Add a cup of water to the this. Do not be apprehensive of adding water because once this is put on the stove, it will quickly dry up
  • Take a heavy bottomed kadai
  • Temper with all the above mentioned items except coconut.
  • After the tempering, add the rice paste. Stir constantly. Initially little lumps would form. On constant stirring, the whole batter would become one large lumpy substance
  • This is the time to introduce grated coconut to it
  • Keep stirring once again
  • Make desired shapes and steam for about 5 - 7 minutes
  • Serve hot with chutney of your choice

Atta Ladoos

I had previously mentioned the visit of my close friend R. We landed up yapping till 4 in the morning.. And to our utter surprise, a large portion of our discussion was on food!! Yummy discussions indeed.. R remembers me as a single working woman who was completely calorie conscious! She had no clue that I had even taken interest in cooking. She was surprised to see this transformed friend and was more than glad to share her cooking secrets with me.

This atta ladoo is a direct bi-product of those lovely late night talks. About making these ladoos, all I can say is, they are easier to make than blogging how to make them! So simple, yet so tasty and nutritious! This made a quick evening prasadam during Navarathri.

Ingredients (makes 7 ladoos)

  • 1/2 cup wheat flour / atta
  • 1/2 cup grated jaggery or a little less if you prefer it little less sweety
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 - 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 - 2 tbsp cashews and raisins
Method of preparation:

  • Take a kadai. Dry roast the atta till a heavenly aroma arises. Empty the roasted atta in a fairly large bowl
  • Add the grated jaggery to it
  • In the same kadai, heat ghee
  • Fry the broken cashews and raisins till they become golden brown
  • Pour the ghee over the atta
  • Add the cardamom powder
  • Mix well and make ladoos
  • If making the ladoos becomes a trouble (in most cases it wont), just heat a little ghee and pour over the mixture
  • Yummy ladoos are ready in ten minutes flat!

Vadai Curry

If anybody were to ask me to name one truly local Chennai dish, the first name that would come to my mind is Vadai Curry. This yummy easy accompaniment to idlis can be made with leftover masala vadais or the vadais can be made afresh. In my waist-friendly version, I steam the vadais instead of frying them. This recipe isfrom my close friend Gauthami. I have added my imagination here and there to make it more yummy.

Ingredients (Serves 2 generously)

For the Vadais:
Chana dhall: 1/3 cup
Toor dhall (half of chana dhall): half of 1/3 cup
Urad dhall: 1 tbsp
Raw rice: 1 tsp
Green chillies: 2
Saunf: ½ tsp
Ginger: ½ inch piece
Corriander leaves: 1 tbsp
Salt: to taste

For the Tadka:
Oil: 3- 4 tbsp
Mustard: 1 tsp
Jeera: ½ tsp
Saunf: ½ tsp
Cloves: 2
Cinnamon: 1 small piece
Bayleaf: 1
Curry leaves: few

For the gravy:
Green chillies : 2 (chopped)
Onions (medium); 1
Ginger-garlic (grated or paste): 2 tsp
Tomatoes (medium): 2
Turmeric powder: ½ tsp
Garam masala: ½ tsp
Dhaniya powder: ½ tbsp
Chilli powder: to taste
Coconut paste: 2 tbsp (optional)
Corriander leaves (to garnish)

Method of preparation:

· Wash and soak the three dhalls and raw rice together for two hours atleast
· Now add the other items and grind to a rough paste. Do not add water while grinding
· Steam it for about 7 – 10 minutes or till it is done in a cooker. You could choose to deep fry the vadais also
· When the vadais are cool, break them into pieces and have them ready
· Now heat a kadai. Heat oil for tempering
· Add mustard, jeera, saunf, cloves, bay leaves, curry leaves and cinnamon. Saute for a couple of minutes
· Add green chillies, ginger garlic, and onion. Saute for another 3 – 4 minutes
· Now add the tomatoes
· Add the required salt and add all the masala powders – turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and dhaniya powder
· Cover and cook for about five minutes. The tomatoes should loose its raw smell
· When the tomatoes are cooked, add the broken vadai pieces to it
· Let it cook for another five minutes
· Now add some water. Adjust salt and let it cook on a slow flame till the vadais absorb the water and the vadai curry becomes a thick gravy.
· Add the coconut paste if you want to. You could also conveniently skip this step
· If you want the curry to be more flavourful, add another ½ tsp of garam masala at this stage
· Garnish with coriander leaves
· Serve hot with idlis

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kondai kadalai sundal

Sundal, yes, the good old sundal!!

It is a staple in almost all Tamil Nadu homes during dussera. I remember fondly all the various varieties we would 'collect' going as a group from house to house for navarathri 'kolu'. One problem during these times would be that one would invariably be coerced into singing atleast a few lines.. But, I guess, you would have to 'earn' the sundal. That was the price paid to get all those wonderful varieties of sundals. A few would add some small goodies like bangles or hairclips or small chains. This would add to the entire excitement! This was a necessary part of our growing up. Today when I look back, I am so glad such small pleasures made all of us so happy.

This basic kondai kadalai or kabuli chana sundal is a lovely comfort food. The recipe is utterly simple. Tenderly cooked chana mildly tempered in coconut oil, garnished with grated coconut and with a lovely soft hing undertone!

Ingredients (Serves three generously)
  • Kondai kadalai or kabuli chana (raw): 1/2 cup
  • Red chillies: 2 Nos, teared into small pieces
  • Curry leaves: a strand
  • Coconut oil: 1 tbsp
  • Mustard: 1 tsp
  • Urad dhall: 1 tsp
  • Jeera: 1/2 tsp
  • Hing: 1 big pinch
  • Coconut (grated): 1/4 cup

Method of preparation:

  • Soak the chana for 8 hours or overnight
  • Pressure cook the chana for 7 - 8 whistles till it is tender
  • Heat a kadai. Add coconut oil
  • Tadka with mustard, urad dhall, jeera, red chillies, curry leaves, a pinch hing
  • Add chana and cook covered for a while
  • When you feel it is done, add the grated coconut
  • Finish after a minute. Done!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oats Ladoo

It is Navarathri. Everybody is making all types of prasadams for the goddess during these nine days. Huge celebrations all around. I decided to do my little bit and resolved to make one item a day. Either a sundal variety, or some kind of sweet.

On the other hand, the thought of making ladoos with oats has been pinging me from one corner of my brain for quite some time. So, decided to try a ladoo with oats. The goddess is also not spared from our cooking experiments. :) The recipe that is followed is very similar to pori urundai that is generally made at home for karthigai deepam. This recipe makes 12 medium sized ladoos.

Oats - (Quaker quick cooking) - 2 cups
Jaggery - 1/2 cup
Water - 1/4 cup
Cardamom (powdered) - 4 Nos
Peanuts - 4 tbsp
Sesame seeds - 2 tbsp
Cashews - 6 Nos (optional)
Raisins - 1 tbsp
Roasted channa dhall (pottukadalai) - 2 tbsp
Rice flour - 1 - 2 tbsp

Method of Preparation:
- Take a heavy bottomed kadai. Keep it on a slow flame.
- Dry roast the peanuts, cashews and sesame seeds separately.
- Remove the skin from the peanuts. Keep aside.
- Now dry roast the oats till they turn golden brown. This happens rather soon. So keep stirring constantly so that they do not burn.
- In the same kadai, add jaggery and water.
- Let the jaggery dissolve completely. Strain to remove any impurities.
- Now keep the syrup in low flame and add the cardamom powder.
- Keep stirring till the syrup reaches the soft rolling ball consistency. This can be checked by pouring a drop of the syrup in a small bowl of water.
- Turn off the flame and add the roasted oats, peanuts, cashews, raisins, channa dhall, sesame seeds.
- Mix vigorously.
- Dust your hands with rice flour and quickly make ladoos out of it.

Naivedyam - first for the goddess and then for us is ready :)
Just a thought, using the same method, one can make breakfast bars also. Adding a few more ingredients, some vanilla essence and a few nuts, this mixture can be poured on a greased plate and cut into rectangles. Need to give it a try sometime!!

Dal Makhani

One of the nice things that happened to me last week was the visit of my friend R. It was a lovely rendezvous after a looonnnnnggg time. Though both of us have been in touch very regularly, meeting in person was something very special.

Naturally, my head was full of ideas as to what I would make for dinner.. With a lot of yeses and nos, I decided to make few of my favourites. I tried to keep it very simple so that we have enough time to just sit and talk. With a menu as simple as Dal Makhani, Jeera rice and Phulkas, we did get ample time to catch up on our two-years’ bottled-up tales till four in the morning!

Coming to this post, I would like to dedicate it to my dear friend R. She wanted this recipe and I am blogging it, particularly for her. My recipe for Dal Makhani s adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor and Sanjay Thumma.

Ingredients: (serves three)

Sabut urad dhall: ½ cup
Rajma: 2 tbsps
Ginger ( grated or chopped): 2 inch piece
Garlic (grated): 6 cloves
Tomatoes (medium): 3, ground to a fine paste
Garam masala pwd : 1 tsp
Dhaniya pwd : 1 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
Turmeric powder: ¼ tsp
Kasuri methi : 1 tbsp
Butter : 3 tbsp
Oil: 2 tbsp
Milk : ½ cup
Salt: to taste
For the tadka: Cloves, cinnamon, elaichi, bay leaf and 1 tsp jeera
Corriander leaves: to garnish

Method of preparation

· Soak urad dhall and rajma in three cups of water for eight hours or overnight
· Add half the ginger, half the salt and half the chilli powder and pressure cook the dhall till the rajma becomes soft. Do not throw away the cooking liquor
· Take a kadai. Heat oil. Tadka with the items mentioned
· Add ginger – garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes
· Now add the tomato puree
· Cook on a slow flame with a covered lid for five minutes
· When it starts boiling, add chilli powder, coriander powder and salt
· Cover the lid and cook well again
· Now, add the butter and cook again
· When it has cooked for about 10 - 12 minutes in all, add the cooking liquor and cook very well
· After it has cooked for about 10 minutes, add the dhall and mix well
· Adjust salt and cook again covered
· The cooked dhall would be brownish red in colour
· Now kasuri methi should be added. This is ‘the’ ingredient that adds all the lovely flavour to the dish
· Now add ½ cup of milk. You could go upto one cup also. The technique is to add the milk gradually, little by little, so that the milk does not curdle. You could add cream if you want to make the gravy rich
· Cover and cook on as low a flame as possible till the gravy reaches the right consistency. The more the gravy cooks, the better it tastes.
· Garnish with coriander leaves.
· Done!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Paruppu Podi

Spending summers at grandparents' place is an absolute luxury. Both myself and my brother have nostalgic memories of those lovely carefree summers spent in my grandparents' home while we were children.. My ammamma, a superb cook, would make absolutely lovely food. She would plan the menu very meticulously and get everybody in the house to do their bit - in bringing the grocery or vegetables, or scrapping coconuts, etc. One of her specialities is her paruppu podi. This protein-packed family must-have, served with hot rice and dollops of ghee on it, is a sheer treat to all the senses. Here is the recipe for it.. just the way my paati makes it.


Toor dhall: 1 cup
Channa dhall: 1/2 cup
Urad dhall: 1/2 cup
Moong dhall: 1/2 cup
Horsegram - 1/8 cup
Dry red chillis (long) - 20
Asefotida / hing: 1/2 tsp
Salt - 3 tbsp

Method of preparation:

Dry roast all these dhalls separately in a heavy bottomed kadai on a low flame.Roast till the dhalls give out a good aroma and till they turn golden brown in colour. Turn off the stove and in the heat of the kadai, just toss the salt and the hing for a minute. Cool the dhalls and grind to a fine powder.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Green Moong Curry

Women of today are great jugglers. We juggle between work, studies, children, home, shopping, domestic emergencies, parties, and what not!!! In these situations, having half an hour to make lunch or dinner is not uncommon. This recipe was born out of one such an emergency. The dhall takes about 25 minutes to make, serves about three people and tastes great too. Parallely, one can finish off with the rotis since this dhall needs only occasional stirring. A nutritious meal in half an hour for a busy weekday. My mom makes this gravy a little runny and serves it with bread. Yummmmmmmm!!


Moong (green) – ½ cup
Onions (med) – 2 Nos
Tomatoes (med) – 3 Nos
Green chilli – 1 or 2, slit
Ginger-garlic – ½ tbsp, grated
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Red chilli powder – ½ tsp or to taste
Garam masala – ½ tsp
Salt – to taste
Corriander – to garnish
Jeera – ½ tsp for tadka (bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom are optional)
Oil – 2 tbsp


· Was the moong well and pressure cook for three whistles.
· Meanwhile roughly chop the onions and tomatoes and blend in a mixie.
· Take a kadai. Add oil.
· Add jeera for tempering.
· After jeera splutters, add the grated ginger-garlic and green chillies. Fry for a couple of minutes.
· Now add the onion-tomato mixture.
· Add the powders – salt, chilli powder, turmeric powder and garam masala.
· Cover and cook for about five minutes.
· Now remove the lid and cook till all the raw smell is gone.
· Add the moong along with the liquid (not it your moong has too much liquid in it).
· Let it cook for about ten minutes on a low flame.
· Garnish with coriander leaves.
· Done!
· Serve hot with rotis.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Peas Dosa

If you live in India and have tasted UNIBIC biscuits, you will read (on the back cover) that in those days in England, when cooks had to taste their cakes, they would test a small portion of their cake batter in the oven. It would not be soft like the cakes, but, it would be brittle. This yummy thing is what is known by the name of cookies today.

Similarly, you don’t have to be a great cook to realise that the best of our recipes are those born due to some contingency, or some minor innovation that happens on-the-go. My peas dosa was born this way. I had run out of moong. So, just substituted dry green peas and followed exactly the same procedure that I follow for making pesarettu. A healthy wholesome meal is ready for the family!

Dried green peas: 1/2 cup
Raw rice: 1/2 cup
Onions (medium): 2
Green chillies (medium): 3
Ginger: 1/4 inch
Coconut: 4 tbsp (optional)
Salt to taste
Oil - to make dosas

Wash and soak peas and rice separately for eight hours.
Chop onions, ginger, green chillies roughly and grind into a smooth paste.
Grind the soaked green peas and raw rice separately.
Mix everything and add salt.
Make dosas.
Cook on a medium flame so that the dosa is well cooked.

Incidentally, this recipe also got published in the Hindu. This is my entry to MLLA-13 conceived by Susan of the "Well-Seasoned Cook" and currently being hosted by Sunshinemom of "Tongue Ticklers......".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kaima Idli

Saturday was given a divine farewell by doing absolutely nothing.. We landed ourselves in Sunday evening almost instantly. The thought of the hectic impending week was not quite pleasant. The Aussies and the English were wrestling each other at the Ashes. At the bottom of our hearts, we were happy that the English had an upper hand.

Against this backdrop, K wanted something fiery to munch on. I gave him a couple of options.. “Nah, not this” came the replies. Then I left him to himself to figure out what he wanted. “Kaima idli” came an enthusiastic voice!! ”Make kaima idlis, I really love them”, K said. I had eaten it in once in Chennai and remembered very vaguely how it tasted. But in those days, I never bothered what went down my throat.

What is google there for?? I immediately chose two recipes and which I thought came closest to the kaima idli of my faint memory. This is what I used:

Ingredients (Serves one)
· Idlis – 2 Nos, cut into squares or small rectangles
· All purpose flour / Maida – 3 tbsp
· Chilli powder – ½ tsp + ½ tsp
· Mustard – ½ tsp
· Urad dhall – 1 tsp
· Jeera – ½ tsp
· Onion – 1 (Big)
· Tomatoes – 2 (medium)
· Green chillies – 2 (medium)
· Ginger (grated) – ½ tsp
· Garlic (sliced fine) – 2 big cloves
· Tomato sauce – 2 tbsp
· Curry leaves – 10
· Corriander (finely chopped) – 1 tbsp
· Oil – 1 cup + 2 tbsp
· Salt to taste

Method of preparation

· Cut the idlis into small squares or rectangles
· Make a running batter out of maida, chilli powder and salt, adding necessary water
· Dip the idli pieces in this batter and deep fry the pieces till reddish brown
· Drain them on a kitchen towel and keep aside
· Chop tomatoes and green chillis; slice onions and garlic and grate ginger
· Take a non-stick kadai
· Add 2 tbsp oil
· Add tadka of mustard, urad dhall, and jeera
· Now add, ginger, garlic, green chillis, curry leaves, onions, tomatoes and cook well.
· Add salt, chilli powder and keep stirring
· The water content from the tomatoes should dry to a great extent. Keep cooking till the onions and tomatoes should get cooked really well. Only then the dish tastes good
· Now add the fried idlis
· Mix well
· Add the 2 tbsp of tomato sauce. Mix well again
· Cook for yet another 2 minutes
· Garnish with coriander leaves
· Serve hot with chutney of your choice

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Doodh Peda

These days, whenever I visit anyone, friends or relatives, I make it a point to make something nice, mostly a sweet dish and take it for them, instead of randomly picking up something on the go from a sweet shop. The whole cycle of thinking about what to make - depending on the distance of the visitees (is there a word like this?? I know consignor and consignee exists), buying necessary ingredients, putting in my effort preparing it, spending some anxious moments thinking how it would turn out and say a silent prayer that the people for whom it is made enjoy it..... all this give me a greater sense of satisfaction than buying a packaged box of assorted sweets from any renowned sweet shop.

On one such occasion, I made Doodh pedas for K’s aunt. The recipe is absolutely followed from It yielded about 18 fairly large sized pedas. Also, it took me seven minutes in my M/W, but for Hetal and Anuja, it took only three mins. That was the only difference. Else, their recipe is absolutely untweaked.


Butter - 1/2 cup or 113 gms
Milk powder (Nestle Everyday) - 150 gms
Condensed milk (Nestle Milkmaid) - 1 tin of 400 gms)
Elaichi powder - 1 tsp
Saffron - one pinch or few strands
Raisins / badam / pistas - to decorate
Oil - 1 tbsp - to grease your hands while making pedas

  • Take a fairly deep Microwave safe bowl
  • Add butter in it and just melt the butter. No need to bring it to a boil
  • Once this is done, add the condensed milk and milk powder
  • Mix very very well.
  • Now M/W for one minute
  • Stop and mix again
  • M/W for another minute and mix again
  • After two minutes or so, mix the cardamom powder and the saffron into this mixture
  • M/W again for one minute
  • Keep M/W-ing till the custardy-mixture reaches a slightly soft chapati dough consistency
  • Once this is reached, mix well and allow the mixture to cool for ten minutes. This is what the cooled mixture looks like.

Once the mixture comes to a manageable temperature, make pedas after greasing your fingers and palms with oil

  • Garnish with raisns or halved badam or pistas or with anything that suits you.
  • Delicious pedas are ready!!

Well, off these pedas went to K's aunt's house.. I am glad she liked them.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chronicle of my cooking

I have been a silent follower and awed admirer of many food blogs for quite some time now.. wondering how on earth these extremely busy women find time to write things on the web.. I realise, what starts as a humble hobby becomes an absorbing passion and finally turns out to be a compelling obsession. As one of the blogging marathoners rightly suggested, blogging about food makes you look at food differently. I think that is what keeps all these energized bloggers going.

A natural consequence of what I have been reading - an urgent fire to start a blog and write all I know began burning one day. I finally managed to take the plunge this January, but, for reasons known best to me.. it never took off.. With all my vigour, i managed to post one recipe. And that was the end of Solomon Grundy!!

I pulled myself up to start yet another one.. This time, I am hoping my indefatiguable spirit would help me cross the first 21 days of blogging, after which it would become installed as a habit (says Robin Sharma in The Monk who Sold his Ferrari, anything done continuously for 21 days becomes and habit and remains with the person forever).

So, here is me, awaiting all your encouragement to make this blogging journey a very memorable and pleasant one.

Come, lets cook along!!

Happy eating and happy living!!


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