Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sambar Rice

Any dish cooked on a slow flame for a long time is bound to taste divine. I have read somewhere that chefs of Bukhara Restaurant of Maurya Sheraton in Delhi cook their Dal Makhani for over six hours! That is really something.. and it leads me to wonder how creamy, wonderful and comforting that dal would be!

One of my dishes that fit into this category (not six hours of simmering!) is my mom’s Sambar rice. I choose to make this on those days when I am in no mood for active cooking, but have a lot of time on hand – perfect for lazy Sunday lunches and an amazing crowd pleaser. A bowl of steaming sambar rice and potato chips for that added crunch would make any tummy truly happy. This recipe serves two growlingly hungry stomachs.


Rice: 2/3 cup
Toor dal: 1/3 cup
Tamarind: (soaked for a couple of hours): medium sized lemon
Vegetables (potatoes, drumsticks, green peas, carrots, tomatoes, beans, cauliflower, onions): 3 cups
Sambar powder (homemade or store bought): 2 tbsp
Salt: to taste
Curry leaves: Few sprigs
Corriander: to garnish
Gingelly oil: 5 tbsp
Ghee(to drizzle on the rice while serving): few tsps

For grinding:
Grated fresh coconut: 4 tbsp
Dhaniya seeds: 2 tbsp
Red chillies: 2 Nos
Chana dal: 1 tbsp
Corriander leaves (optional): 1 tbsp

For the tempering:
Red chillies (halved): 2 Nos
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Chana dal: 1 tsp
Urad dal: 1 tsp
Jeera: ½ tsp
Cashews (optional):1 tbsp
Hing: One big pinch


Cook the rice and the dal separately in a pressure cooker. Keep aside.
Wash and chop all the vegetables into slightly larger pieces. Keep aside.
Roast all the needed ingredients and grind to a fine powder and keep aside.
Heat the tamarind water in a fairly large vessel. Add the sambar powder and the vegetables and curry leaves and boil for about 10- 15 minutes till the vegetables are cooked and all the raw smell disappears.
Add the toor dal and let it cook for a while. (Usually at this stage, I transfer all my contents to my pressure cooker because it is heavy bottomed. Also, I find it easy to cover and cook the dish slow flame for a long time over a slow flame)
Add the ground masala and let it boil for some more time.
Now add the cooked rice and add the needed salt.
Now add about a cup of water and lower the flame. Let it cook covered on the slowest possible flame for about a minimum of 25 minutes.
Give it a good mix once in a while so that nothing sticks to the bottom. Ensure that the whole thing has come together well. The end product should be in a pouring consistency. The sambar rice will thicken as it cools down.
Switch off the flame and garnish with coriander leaves.
Now, in a separate pan or skillet, finish off the tempering and pour it over the sambar rice.
Mix well.
Serve this sambar rice with loads of ghee and potato chips or papads.

This Sambar Rice is my contribution to 'Festive Rice Event' by Torview

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eggless vanilla custard with chopped fruits

If each one of us were faced with this question ‘Pick your favourite course of a meal?’, I am sure each one of us would come up with a different thing. My answer would definitely be ‘desserts’. The degree of sweet-madness is so high that sometimes when no dessert is available, I satisfy my incurable sweet tooth with one spoon of sugar or honey or in many cases even Bournvita! I am sure there are a few good-hearted souls out there who do relate to this.

Unsurprisingly, some 70% of my bookmarked recipes also comprise sweet dishes. I have vowed to try out as many of them as possible at my own comfortable pace. Here is a recipe of one of those easy-to-make hearty desserts from my interminable list of bookmarks. This basic recipe of eggless vanilla custard goes very well with any kind of chopped fruits when served chilled and is great with cake when served warm. I prepared this custard, chilled it for about two hours, added it to a bowl of chopped fruits, drizzled some honey over it and added some chopped nuts for a healthy yet wholesome dessert. You could also experiment with various colours and flavours.

Ingredients (serves four)

Milk: 2 cups
Corn starch / Corn flour: 2 tbsp
Sugar: 5 tbsp or more or less to taste
Fruits of choice: chopped
Honey: few tbsp to drizzle on top
Nuts (chopped): according to taste
Vanilla essence: ¾ tsp


Heat about one and a half cups of milk in a vessel and bring it to a boil.
To the remaining half a cup of milk, add cornstarch and mix well to avoid lumps.
Now add this cornstarch-milk mixture to the milk vessel.
Keep the flame on simmer and keep stirring constantly so that no lumps are formed and there is no sticking and scraping business.
When the mixture comes to a boil, add the sugar and let it boil again.
Let it thicken a bit more.
Take the vessel off the flame and add the vanilla essence and stir well.
Cool this mixture. It will thicken further on cooling. (If you dont want it too thick, you need to reduce the quantity of cornstarch.)
Once it reaches room temperature, chill in the fridge for 2 – 3 hours.
Chop the fruits and assemble them in serving cups.
Pour the custard mixture over it.
Drizzle some honey over it.
Garnish with nuts and serve chilled.

Since this recipe is from a bookmark, this eggless vanilla custard with chopped fruits goes to ‘Bookmarked Recipes – Every Tuesday’ event by Priya Mitharwal.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oatmeal Date Raisin Peda

I see a little irony here. This is my first participation in this marathon food blogging event ‘Sugar High Fridays’ and my entry for this event has no sugar or its sweet cousins in any direct form. Nevertheless, it is sweet because of all the dates and raisins it is loaded with. Hence, this oatmeal-date-raisin peda rightfully qualifies to be a part of this great event ‘Sugar High Fridays – Bite Size Desserts’ hosted by Aparna, one of my favourite bloggers.

This peda is adapted from Sharmi’s Fudge. Truly it is a cinch – right from start to finish. I felt these pedas are nothing but a fudgy younger brother of oatmeal breakfast bars, probably with a smaller shelf life. It takes no more than 20 minutes to put together. If you are looking for a dessert that would leave your mouth sweet, though not cloyingly so, and that is not loaded with too many calories, this is the thing for you.

Ingredients (Yields 14 medium size pedas)

Instant Oats (Quaker): ¾ cup
Peanuts (roasted and skin removed): ½ cup
Almonds (raw, chopped into tiny pieces): ¼ cup
Dates (chopped fine): 15 Nos
Raisins: ¼ cup
Cardamom: ¼ tsp
Ghee (to grease hands while making the pedas): 2 – 3 tsp
Water: About ¼ cup


Dry roast the oatmeal for about 3 – 5 minutes. Let it cool for a while.
Make a fine oatmeal powder out of it and keep aside.
Grind the almonds and peanuts coarsely with the cardamom. Keep aside.
Grind the dates and the raisins along with ¼ cup water to obtain a tight paste. (You could also use milk to make the paste, but, would reduce the shelf life of the sweet greatly. So, I used water.)
Mix the oatmeal powder and nut powder together.
Add the date-raisin paste to little by little and make small lemon sized balls using greased palms.
Now flatten the balls slightly and add a chopped almond in the middle for decoration.
A very healthy dessert is ready to be relished.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bread Chaat

When I was newly married, I used to bombard my mom with phone calls mostly concerning some recipe or the other. She reciprocated enthusiastically by not only wholeheartedly transfering her cooking knowledge over the telephone, but also went a step further by watching recipes shown on the television, meticulously taking notes and then dutifully handing them over to me. This bread chaat is again from her kitty. This recipe is a breeze to put together and is sure to please anybody on any given evening.

Ingredients (Serves one):

Bread slices (white or brown, crust removed): 2 Nos
Milk: 4 - 5 tsps
Onion / Mint / Corriander / Tomato chutney: 2 - 3 tbsp
Sev or Boondi: 1/4 cup
Tomatoes / Onions/ Cucumber/ Corriander (finely chopped): 1 tbsp each
Thick chilled curd (mixed with a pinch of salt and 1 tsp sugar): 1/2 cup
Chaat masala - to taste
Chilli powder - to taste
Rock salt - to taste
Jeera powder - to taste


Take the serving plate and start assembling the chaat one by one. Start with the crust-removed bread.
Smear chutney all over it. It can be any leftover chutney which has been used for idli, dosa, etc. If no chutney is available, just grind together 1/2 of a tomato, a fistful of corriander, a little piece of a green chilli and some salt together and pour all over the first slice of bread.
Close using the other slice like a sandwich.
Pour few tsps of milk over it. (I am really unsure why the milk is added, but it is given in the recipe. So, I unquestioningly did it).
Pour the curd all over the bread slice generously.
Now add the sev and the finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and corriander.i
Now sprinkle all the masalas to suit your taste.

Since this recipe is from a bookmark, this plate of bread chaat goes to ‘Bookmarked Recipes – Every Tuesday’ event by Priya Mitharwal.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


My mom is a wonderful cook. It is not only about the taste. Her cooking has a methodology. She is a person of exact measurements. If you were to ask her a recipe, you would hear her say, ‘a tsp of this, a tbsp of that, ½ cup of this.......... etc’. This makes it easy for advise-seekers like me not only to get a dish right the first time, but also successfully replicate it several times in future.

This aviyal recipe, which serves four, comes from my cooking diary which is a store-house of a lot of my mom’s lovely recipes. This aviyal was the result of a telephone conversation with my mom some three years back. For some strange reason, I could never get down to making it till this morning.

Aviyal, a festive dish, is nothing but a medley of variety of chopped vegetables cooked in a coconut-green chilli sauce. The strong flavour of coconut oil is the highlight of this dish. It goes great with any variety of mixed rice like coconut rice, tamarind rice, sambar rice, or even plain rice. Avial is a great accompaniment to adai also. Though this avial has a daunting list of vegetables, I used only about 5 – 6 types (whatever I had handy).


Potato: 1 No
Carrot (big): 1 No
Beans: 7 - 8 Nos
Colocassia / Arbi: 5 - 6 Nos
Elephant yam: 3/4 cup chopped
Green peas: handful
Cauliflower: 7 – 8 florets
Drumstick: 4 – 5 pieces
Red pumpkin: 3/4 cup chopped
White pumpkin: 3/4 cup chopped
Chou-chou: 3/4 cup chopped
Cluster beans: 7- 8 No
Sweet potato: 1 No
Mocchai (hyacinth bean): handful
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Coconut oil: 2 tbsp
Curd: ½ cup

To grind:
Green chillis: 4 Nos
Coconut (grated): 1 cup or more or less as desired


Wash, peel and chop all these vegetables in a slightly longish fashion.
Add a cup of water, some salt and a pinch of turmeric.
Pressure cook the vegetables for three whistles.
Now heat the pressure cooker or another kadai.
Add the cooked vegetables and curry leaves with the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
Add the ground chilli-coconut paste and bring to a boil.
Add the curd and bring to a boil.
Adjust salt and switch off the flame.
Now drizzle coconut oil over it and mix well.
Aviyal is super-ready to be served with anything you wish!

Since this recipe is from a bookmark, this bowl of aviyal goes to ‘Bookmarked Recipes – Every Tuesday’ event by Priya Mitharwal.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My favourite Recipe - Eggless Blueberry Loaf

When I first read about this event 'My Favourite Recipe' - I instantly knew which one I would be sending. My Eggless Blueberry loaf wins hands down since it gave me my first taste of success in baking. Also, I celebrated my one year of blogging with this loaf. For these two reasons, it shall remain my favourite recipe. Warm buttered slices of my Eggless Blueberry Loaf go directly to Apy's 'My Favourite Recipe'.

Happy Vinayaka Chaturthi!

Kaju Katli

Even the stiffest sweet-haters would readily indulge in this little thin diamond. The calorie-conscious good citizens would dump their dietary resolutions for a brief while if they were confronted with a box of these goodies. And the compulsive sweet lovers like me would rest peacefully only if we had the solace of emptying the entire box! I am speaking of the famous Indian sweet - Kaju Katli or Cashew diamonds. Mildly sweet with no other added flavours, this sweet is sure to impart mouthfuls of cashewy goodness (and truckloads of calories) with each bite. My almost foolproof recipe from Saffronhut yields about twenty katlis.

  • Cashews: 1 cup
  • Sugar: 0.6 cup (or more if you prefer it sweeter)
  • Water: ¼ cup
  • Ghee: 2 tsps (for greasing)


  • Powder the cashews finely. In order to do this, break the cashews into rough bits using your hands. Then place the bits in the fridge for about an hour. This step makes the cashew pieces brittle and they powder finely with very little effort.
  • Mix sugar and water in a non-stick kadai or saucepan.
  • Keep gently stirring till the sugar water begins to vigourously bubble. Once it happens, add the cashew powder.
  • At this stage, the cashew powder is prone to forming lumps. So, stir vigourously.
  • Keep the flame at low all the time.
  • After some stirring, you will see the lump solidifying. Keep stirring continuously so that it does not stick to the bottom.
  • When the mixture solidifies further, do a plate test. Drop a drop of the kaju mixture on a dry plate. Let it cool down a bit. Collect the contents and try rolling it between your fingers. One should be able to make a loose ball out of it. If the loose ball consistency is not reached, then wait for a while and try again.
  • Keep stirring all the time.
  • If the loose ball consistency is attained, immediately take the kadai off the heat and stir (off the flame) for about two minutes. Then let the mixture cool.
  • While it cools, get the kitchen counter, wax paper, rolling pin, ghee and a greased knife ready.
  • When the mixture becomes finger-friendly, knead well with your hands on the wax paper. The dough would become smooth and glossy. Add 1 – 2 tsp of ghee if needed.
  • Take a portion of the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll to ¼ inch thickness.
  • Cut into pieces.
  • Gather all the bits and pieces and roll again. (A greedy cook like me would omit this step conveniently since I strongly believe that the cook has the first right to those out-of-shape yet tempting incentives :-))
  • Repeat with the remaining cashew dough.
  • Store in an air-tight container. Stays at room temperature for a week very easily.
  • If by any chance, you miss the loose ball consistency and land up with a harder than intended lump, Saffron Hut advises to add some milk and knead. When it happened to me the first time, I just emptied the contents into a greased plate and cut them into burfis. You could do either of these things for emergency damage control.
  • Enjoy!


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