Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheddar Corn Chowder

I was requested to bring a soup for our Annual Christmas Party last week. I decided to make chowder. I browsed online for a vegetarian version. Chowder is usually made with clam or bacon is added to the corn. I found one vegetarian recipe on food I also liked a recipe by The Barefoot Contessa, which called for bacon. I created my own version from both of them.  It was a great hit at the party. My daughter loved it so much that she wanted to have it again the next day.

2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 glarlic cloves, minced
6 sprigs fresh thyme,leaves only
1/4 C all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t turmeric powder
2 Idaho potatoes,peeled and diced
6 C vegetable stock
6 C corn kernels(frozen)
2 C half-and half(or heavy cream)
1 C  grated sharp white cheddar cheese

1. Heat butter and oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme and cook until the vegetables are soft(8-10 minutes). Dust the vegeatables with the flour and stir to coat well.
2. Pour the stock and add the potaotes. Bring it to a boil and cook until the potatoes are cooked but not too soft(7-8 minutes). 
3. Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and half and chedder cheese. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with crackers.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Coconut Macaroons

I love coconut sweets. Almond Joy is one of my favorite candies. I had been searching for an egg less macaroon recipe. I looked through my books and found it in The 30 Minute Vegan. I made a small batch for trial. The kids liked it. The cookie was light and less sweet.

1 C flaked coconut
1 C all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 C agave nectar
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 C mashed banana(1banana)
1/4 C coconut oil
1 t coconut extract(optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degree F. Oil a baking sheet. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk well.  Add the wet mixture to the dry and gently mix well.
2. Using a rounded teaspoon, create mounds from the batter and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes,until golden brown.

For chocolate macaroons, melt 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chip and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a double broiler. After the macaroons have cooled a bit,top them with the melted chocolate. Allow them to sit till the chocolate hardens.
If you do not have a double boiler, place 1 cup of water in a large pan. Place the chocolate chips and oil in a smaller pan. Place this pan in the
larger pan and heat the water.  Stir the chocolate chips till they melt.

I substituted agave nectar with honey.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bitter Gourd Pitlay(stew)

My mom is an awesome cook. She infused a love for vegetables in us by making food interesting. She used to make these lovely stews, we call them kootu with different vegetables. I learned Tamil Nadu, specifically Tanjore cooking from my mom when I was a teenager. The other day she made this divine pitlay with bitter gourd(bitter squash).  I have to share this on my blog.

2 bitter squash
1/2 C tamarind extract
1 t sambar powder
1/4 t turmeric powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 C cooked chickpeas
1/2 C cooked toor dal
For masala:
2 t coriander seeds
1 t  channa dal
5 red chili
1 t  grated coconut(optional)
For seasoning:
mustard, urad dal, red chili, curry leaves, and asafoetida
1 t coconut oil

1. Wash the vegetable, peel the scales, remove the seeds and dice. Place the vegetables in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of tamarind extract, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, mix and set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Drain the water by gently squeezing out the bitter squash. Mix the remaining tamarind, sambar powder,1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the vegetable. Pressure cook the vegetable for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, roast the ingredients for masala in 1/2 teaspoon oil. Allow it to cool and powder it in a blender. Keep aside.

4. Mix the cooked vegetable, dal and chickpeas in a 2 quart saucepan. Add salt as required. Add 2 teaspoon of the ground masala. Bring it to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar if the pitlay is too bitter. Remove from the stove.
5. Season the mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves and asafoetida in coconut oil. Garnish the pitlay with the seasoning.  Serve hot over plain white rice.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Milagu Kuzhambu(black pepper)

Sambar and Kuzhambu are typical Tamil foods. Some of them can be medicinal too. Growing up in India, my mom used to make this awesome kuzhambu during rainy seasons. It is called milagu(black pepper) kuzhambu. It goes well with plain rice or curd rice. It is concentrated and stays fresh for a few days.

2 T sesame oil
Lemon size tamarind
2 t coriander seeds
1 t toor dal
1 t channa dal
1/2 t cumin seeds
1/4 t fennugreek seeds
4 red chili
2 t black peppercorn
10 fresh curry leaves
1/2 t asafoetida
salt to taste
mustard seeds and urad dal for seasoning

1. Roast coriander,cumin, fenugreek seeds, red chili, black pepper and curry leaves in 1/2 teaspoon oil. Allow it to cool. Add tamarind, asafoetida and powder everything in  blender.
2. Mix the powder into 2 cups of water.
3. Heat sesame oil in a 3 quart saucepan. Season the mustard seeds and urad dal. Gently pour in the mixture. Stir, and cover the saucepan. Cook for 20 minutes, till the kuzhambu thickens. Serve over white rice.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

It is that time of the year when there is a party every weekend. Lots of cooking, baking and eating. I have a friend who hosts holiday party every year. She likes to have only appetizers and dessert. We get to try a variety of Indian and American appetizers. No party is complete without a dip of some kind  served with chips, veggies, or crackers. This year I brought spinach and artichoke dip with  home made pita chips. I used the recipe that I got from the chef in my school. It was a great hit at the party.

3 cloves garlic, roasted and chopped
1/2 C chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1(14 ounces)jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1(8 ounces) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
4 Pita bread, cut into triangles

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a small baking dish
2. In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese,1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.
3. Transfer the mixture to the greased baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned. 
4. Lightly brush pita bread triangles with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange them on a baking sheet and bake them at 350 degrees till they are crisp and golden.
5. Serve the pita chips with hot dip.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Garlic Rasam(Soup)

If you have a garlic lover in the house, this is the perfect recipe for them. You could make it with as much or as little garlic as you want. It is a perfect concoction for someone with a cold. I made this last week for my husband who was recovering from one. I never used to like garlic in rasam. But, I tried this at my sister's, and loved it.

1/2 C tamarind extract(1 t tamarind paste mixed in water)
3-4 cloves garlic
1 t ghee
1 tomato, chopped
3 green chili,slit
1 t sambar powder
1/2 t asafoetida
4 curry leaves,
cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
1/2 t rasam powder
mustard seesds for seasoning

1. Place the tomato, chili and curry leaves in a bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mash well with hand. Add the tamarind extract and sambar powder and mix. Keep aside.
2. In a 2 quart saucepan, season the mustard seeds in 1 teaspoon ghee. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomato mixture. Add asafoetida, and 1/2 cup water. Simmer till the smell of sambar powder leaves. Add the chopped cilantro and rasam powder. Bring it to a boil. Remove from the stove. Serve hot in a cup or over white rice.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich are one of my favorite choice of lunch on a cold day. I prefer to use fresh tomatoes on the vine and fresh basil. Adding garlic kicks up the flavor to the soup.

3 cloves garlic,minced
5 tomatoes, blanched and chopped
2 C low-sodium tomato juice
1/3 C fresh basil,chopped
1 C milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C low fat cream cheese,softened
basil leaves, thinly sliced

1. Heat 1 table spoon olive oil in a large pot. Saute garlic for 2 minutes.    Add tomato and juice with enough water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
2. Add basil  and blend with an immulsion blender. 
3. Stir in the milk, salt and pepper. Add cream cheese, whisking vigorously. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with sliced basil.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pecan Pie

We all have our likes and dislikes. That includes pies as well. I like Pecan pie, but my husband loves it. What do you give someone who has very limited needs? I go crazy every year trying to get my husband gifts. This year I decided to do something different for our anniversary.  I decided to make pecan pie for him. I found a recipe for Southern Pecan Pie online at  I found it easy to make. My husband loved it, and so did my son.

Ingredients For the crust:
11/2 C all purpose flour
3 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 C butter,chilled and diced
1 egg yolk
3 T ice water
Ingredients for the Filling:
11/2 C pecan halves
3 eggs
2 T all-purpose flour
1 C light corn syrup
3/4 C sugar
3 T milk
3 T butter,melted
1 t vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl,combine the dry ingredients for the pie crust. Cut in the butter crisscross with two knives, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 
2. Mix yolk with water and stir in until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin covered with stocking.Make sure the crust is 2 inches larger than the 9 inch pie plate. Gently lift the crust and place it on a 9 inch pie plate.
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
5. Arrange the pecans in the bottom of the pie crust.
6. In a large bowl, stir together sugar and flour. Mix in the eggs, corn syrup,milk,butter and vanilla. Blend well and pour over pecans in crust.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown and filling is set. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

I substituted 3/4 cups of brown sugar for sugar in the filling.
I added 1/4 cup of chopped pecans in the filling.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Vegetable Kurma

It has been a long time since I made kurma.  I decided to make it for lunch.  My sister makes the best kurma in the world.  When we were young, she used to make it once in a fortnight.  I used a lot of vegetables in this recipe.  It could be served with pulav,puri,or plain rice.

1onion, chopped
3 C vegetable(cauliflower,carrot,pepper,potato,green beans,green peas), chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 t saunf(fennel seeds)
1 T olive oil
1/2 t turmeric powder

For Paste:
1 cardamom
2 cloves
1 inch cinnamon
3 cloves garlic,minced
1 inch ginger,minced
2 t fennel seeds
1 t poppy seeds
3 green chili(more if required)
1 T grated coconut
1 t cashew nuts

1. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat.  Add bay leaf and fennel seeds. Once it splutters, add oinion and saute till gloden brown. Add tomato and cook till oils separates.
2. Add turmeric powder,  the chopped vegetables, and enough water. Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, bend the ingredients for paste in a blender.
4. Stir in the paste to the vegetables. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.    
5. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve warm with rice or puri.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vegetarian Chilli

I can never order chili when I go to Mexican restaurants, because it is made with meat. So, I searched online for a vegetarian version and started making my own chili at home. It is filled with vegetable and beans. My kids love  to eat it with rice an loads of sour cream. It makes a great single dish dinner.

1/2 C black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 C chopped tomato
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 C chopped zucchini
1/2 C chopped mushroom
1/2 C chopped carrots
1/4 C corn
1/2 C vegetarian beef crumbles(optional)
2 T chili seasoning
1 t ground cumin and coriander
1 t fresh chopped cilantro
1 T masa or corn flour
1 t chili powder(optional)
salt to taste

1. Saute onion and garlic in oil on medium heat for 3 minutes. Transfer it to a slow cooker with all other ingredients, except salt and corn flour. Pour enough water. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
2. Mix corn flour with 1/2 cup water and stir into the chili. Add salt and cook for few more minutes. Add cilantro. Serve warm over white rice. 

Dal Makhani

A delicacy from Punjab, Dal Makhani is made with  whole uard dal and rajma. It is loaded with protein and fiber. Makhan means butter. This dish is made with butter and cream. Dal Makhani  with roti or rice on a cold and rainy day will warm everybody's heart. Traditionally, this dal is cooked for hours on a low flame to bring out the rich flavor.

1 C whole black gram(urad sabut)
1/4 C red kidney beans(rajma)
2 t olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1T grated ginger and garlic
2 green chili,chopped
1 t coriander powder
1/2 t dry mango powder(amchur)
1 t red chili powder
1 t garam masala
salt to taste
2 T heavy cream
1 T butter

1. Soak the beans overnight.
2. Pressure cook the beans with just enough water, along with ginger and garlic for 20 minutes.
3. Heat a pan with olive oil on medium flame. Add cumin seeds and let it crackle. Add chili and onion and saute for 10 minutes. Add tomato and cook till pulpy.  Add chili powder, garam masala and amchur.
4. Remove the beans from the cooker and mix it into the tomato mixture. Add salt and butter. Cover and cook on low flame for 2 hours.
5. Stir in the cream. Cook for few minutes. Serve warm with roti or rice.

1.I cooked the onion and tomato and poured everything into a crock pot and cooked on low for 6 hours(added salt after 4 hours).
2. For a low fat version, omit butter and substitute 2 tablespoon fresh beaten curds(yogurt) for cream.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Herb Biscuts

One way to warm the house in winter is by baking. I do a lot of baking in winter. Last weekend, I made biscuits for breakfast. It was quick to make, took only 20 minutes.

1/2 C shortening
2 C all-purpose flour
1 T sugar
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
3/4 C milk
2 t chopped fresh basil or 3/4 t dried dill weed or basil

1. Heat oven to 450 F.
2. Cut shortening into flour, sugar, baking powder, herbs  and salt in a medium bowl, crisscrossing 2 knives, until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
3. Stir in milk until dough leaves sides of bowl.
4. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times. Roll or pat 1/2 inch thick. Cut with floured 2 1/2 inch round cutter.
5. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
6. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm.

I used Smart Balance buttery sticks.
I reduced salt to 3/4 t.
The dough should be sticky before kneading.
Place the cookie sheet in the middle rack.

Capsicum Rice

I love all kinds of pepper. Green pepper or capsicum is a wonderful vegetable that can be used in numerous dishes. I give my kids different kinds of rice for lunch. Capsicum rice is flavorful, tasty and my kids love it.

1 C cooked rice
1 green pepper, chopped
1 T olive oil
mustard seeds, urad dal, channa dal, curry leaves, and red chili for seasoning
2 t roasted peanuts
1/2 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
For masala:
1/2-inch cinnamon
1 clove
1 t coriander seeds
1 t channa dal
5 red chili
4 black pepper
1/2 t dry roasted sesame seeds
1/2 t dry grated coconut

1. Cool cooked rice.
2. Roast the ingredients for masala in a little oil, powder them, and keep aside.
3. Heat oil in a pan on medium flame and add the seasonings. Add the pepper and cook till soft. Add turmeric powder, salt and the powdered masala. Saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the rice. Mix gently. Serve warm with choice of raita and papadum.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Roasted Butternut Soup

Colorful warm squash soup would be heartening on a cold winter night. I love using various colorful vegetables in fall. Butternut squash soup is a favorite Thanksgiving food in my house.

1 butternut squash
cooking spray
1 T olive oil
11/2 C chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 C stock or water
2 C coarsely chopped peeled potatoes
2 t chopped fresh sage
salt to taste
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

1. Preheat oven to 400 F
Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard the seeds. Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes or until tender. Cool. Discard peel; mash pulp.
2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add onion; saute 4 minutes. Add garlic; saute for a minute, stirring constantly.
3. Add stock or water and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until potato is tender. Let stand for 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Blend with emulsifying blender. Serve warm with bread.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sarson Ka Saag(Broccoli rabi)

 Sarson ka Saag with Makai ki Roti on a cold day would warm you up instantly.I found fresh mustard greens(sarson) in the indian store yesterday. I decided to make it  for dinner today. I cooked the greens in the slow cooker. A friend of mine told me that it has to be cooked for hours on low heat.  My kids were not a big fan of it, but my husband loved it.

1 bunch mustard greens, chopped
1 bunch spinach, chopped
3 green chili(more if you want it spicy)
salt to taste
1 T oil
1 T grated garlic
1 T grated ginger
1 large onion, chopped
1 t cumin powder
1 t coriander powder
1/4 t turmeric powder
1/2 t chili powder
1 t aamchur powder(dried mango powder)
11/2 t garam masala
1 t corn flour

1. Cook the greens with chili and salt with enough water in a slow cooker, or boil in a pressure cooker, without the lid.
2. Heat oil in a pan and saute the garlic, ginger, and onion till they are cooked. Add the spices and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Transfer the onion mixture to the greens. Slow cook for 3 hours. Blend the greens in the cooker using an emulsifying blender. Stir in the corn flour if the saag is thin. Serve warm with hot makai ki roti(corn meal roti).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lemon Rice

1 C cooked rice, cooled
juice from one lemon
salt to taste
1 T cashew nuts, roasted
1 t roasted peanuts
For seasoning:
1 t mustard seeds
1/2 t urad dal
1/2 t channa dal
2 green chili, chopped
1 red chili, broken
curry leaves
1/2 t asafoetida
1 t turmeric powder

1. Season everything. Pour it over the rice.
2. Add salt and lemon juice. Mix gently. Check for taste and add more juice if needed. Enjoy with chips or papad.

Dum Aloo(Baby Potato in gravy)

I bought pink baby potatoes to make mashed potatoes for the kids. When I heard from my neighbor that she made Dum Aloo, I decided to make it too, as it has been a long time. Tiny potatoes are perfect for this recipe. This dish tastes a little sweet and sour.

12 baby potatoes
1 large onion, chopped
2 chili, slit
1/2 inch ginger, minced
1 tomato, chopped
1 C tomato sauce
2 T khoa, shredded or 2 T milk powder
1/2 C yogurt, beaten
1/2 t turmeric
1 t cumin and coriander powder
1/2 t dried mango powder(aamchur)
1 t kashmiri chili powder
1/2 t sugar
1 t kasuri methi
salt to taste

To powder for masala:
1-inch cinammon
3 cloves
2 cardamom pods
2 pinches nutmeg powder
5 black peppercorn
2 t poppy seeds

1. Wash and dry potatoes. Prick them with fork. Arrange them on a broil pan. Spray with olive oil and broil in oven till they are tender. Keep aside.
2. Powder the ingredients for masala. Keep aside.
3. Heat 2 T oil in a large pan on medium heat. Fry 2 bay leaves. Add the masala powder and fry for 2 minutes.
4. Add onion, chili and ginger. Cook onion till it is translucent. Add cumin, coriander power, turmeric, aamchur, and chili powder. Add tomatoes and cook for 4 minutes. Add tomato sauce, and sugar. Cook for a few minutes.
5. Add khoa or mix milk powder in 1/2 cup of water and stir it to the sauce. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in the sauce. Add water if necessary. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes.
6. Open the lid and stir in the yogurt. Cook for 5 minutes. Sprinke kasuri methi. Serve warm with roti or naan.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oats Idly

I got this recipe from my sister today, and decided to try it out for dinner. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone in my family, excepting my son liked it. It was quick and easy to make. Oats idly is low in fat and filling too. Idly is known to be a healthy and low fat food. Oats idly is high in fiber. It tastes more like rava idly. If you like rava idly, you would definitely like Oats idly.

1 C rolled oats
1/2 C cracked wheat or sooji rava
1/2 C curd
3/4 C water
1/2 t baking soda
salt to taste
grated carrot
1 T roasted cashew pieces
fresh cilantro, chopped

For seasoning:
minced green chili, or chili paste
curry leaves

1. Dry roast oats and cracked wheat separately. Allow to cool and powder them separately.
2. Beat the curd and mix it with water. Mix the powdered mixture with the curd. The batter should be slightly thick. Add salt, cashew, cilantro, and the seasoning. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
3. Fold in the carrot. Pour 1/4 cup of batter on greased idly plates. Steam in pressure cooker without the weight for 10 minutes.
4. Serve warm with coconut chutney.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mexican Rice

Mexican rice is cooked with tomato sauce. It is usually served with black beans. It is similar to the tomato rice made in India.

1 C rice
1 T olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 Chipotle pepper, minced
1 t chili powder
1 t powdered cumin and coriander
salt to taste
1 C tomato sauce
1 C water

1. Heat oil in a pan  and saute garlic, pepper, and onion on medium heat till the onions are translucent.
2. Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, and salt.
3. Mix tomato sauce and water. Mix it to the onion. Add rice. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or till the rice is done.

Mexican Tortilla Soup

Last week I had this soup in California Pizza Kitchen. It was very good. I looked for the recipe and made it tonight for dinner, with Mexican rice and corn bread. The soup turned out  to be very tasty and filling.

1 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, minced
11/2 large tomatoes, chopped
1(15-ounce) can black or pinto beans, drained
1/2 C corn
2 t chili powder or to taste
2 t ground cumin
2 C water or vegetable stock
1/2 medium-size avocado, cubed
1/4 C fresh cilantro, minced
2 handfuls of tortilla chips

1. In a medium-size pot, heat the oil, and saute onion, chili, and garlic over medium heat until the onions are translucent.
2. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, chili powder, cumin, salt and water. Cover and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the avocado and cilantro.
3. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a handful of tortillas and sprinkle the avocado and cilantro.

Substitute 1 can of diced tomatoes for  fresh tomatoes.
 Different varieties of chili peppers such as Chipotle, Serrano or Anaheim can be used.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thai Coconut Soup

This soup is loaded with vegetables, and is very light. Kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, Thai basil, and galangal ginger give authenticity to this soup. But, regular ginger and basil can be substituted. Lemongrass can be found in Asian stores. It can be chopped and frozen too.  I found this recipe in the book, The 30-Minute Vegan. My family enjoyed this soup.

3 C water
1 can(15-ounce) coconut milk
3 kaffir lime leaves, or 1 t lime zest
11/4 C chopped yellow onion
2 carrots, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T minced fresh galangal ginger
2 C small broccoli florets
2 C chopped bok choy
1 T finely minced lemongrass
1 t seeded and minced thai pepper or other hot pepper
1 pound extra-firm tofu, small cubes
2 T freshly squeezed lime juice
1 T pure maple syrup or brown sugar
2 T minced fresh Thai basil
soy sauce to taste

1. Place water, coconut milk, and lime leaves in a large pot over medium heat. Begin prepping the vegetables in the order given above, placing them in the pot as you go.
2. After adding the tofu, allow the soup to cook for 5 minutes, or until the veggies are just tender.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, remove the lime leaves and serve hot.

Kaffir lime leaf is the bay leaf of Southeast Asia. It is added to stocks and soups and removed before serving.
Lemongrass is a popular grass in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine that imparts a citrus flavor to the dish.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mint Pulav

2 C basmati rice
1 C water
1 C coconut milk(optional)
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 C green peas
1/2 C chopped green pepper
salt to taste
lemon juice to taste
To Make Mint Paste:
1/2 C fresh mint
1/4 C fresh cilantro
1 T fresh grated coconut
3-4 green chili
1 inch ginger, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch cinnamon
1 clove
1/4 t turmeric powder
1/4 t chili powder(optional)

1.Blend the ingredients for paste. Keep aside.
2. Cook rice. Fluff with fork when done.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan on medium flame. Saute onion and pepper till it is cooked well. stir in the paste, and cook till you get a nice aroma. Add peas and cook for 2 minutes. Add salt.
4. Mix in the rice. Check for salt. Add lemon juice as necessary. Serve with raita.

1. Do not cook rice separately. Saute the vegetables and paste. Add uncooked rice. Add water and coconut milk. Cover and cook, or transfer to a rice cooker and cook.
2. Substitute coconut milk with 1 cup of water.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Aviyal(Vegetables in Yogurt Sauce)

Aviyal is one of my favorite South Indian dishes. This is a popular dish from Kerala. It is a one pot dish with a medley of vegetables cooked in a yogurt sauce. It is typically served as a side dish with rice or Adai(lentil pancake).  I try to make this dish at least a couple times a month. It is a popular dish in my home. 
1 Carrot
1 small potato
1/2 green plantain
1 drumstick
10 string beans
10 kothavarangai
10 flat beans(avarakai)
1/2 C white pumpkin
1/4 C pumpkin
1/4 C rutalu
1/2 C fresh grated coconut
6-8 green chili(as per taste)
3/4 C fresh curd
2 t coconut oil
curry leaves
salt to taste

1. Cut the vegetables into long pieces(finger length).
2. Grind coconut and chili in a blender to smooth paste. Keep aside.
3. Place the vegetables in a large pan with little water. Cover and cook on medium flame. Add salt.

4. Mix the paste with curd. Stir in the curd to the vegetable.

 Add oil and curry leaves. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from stove. Serve over rice.

 Note: My mom grinds cumin seeds with coconut and chili. That is Tanjore style of making Aviyal. I make it  Kerala style without cumin.

Taza Pulav

11/2 C basmati rice
1 medium onion, sliced
1 small tomato, chopped
2 C chopped vegetables(potato,carrot,beans,cauliflower,green peas,and pepper)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, chopped
3-4 green chili, slit
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 inch cinnamon
2 clove
1 cardamom
1 nutmeg flower
1 T cashew nuts(optional)
2 T oil(less if desired)
1/4 t turmeric powder
chili powder to taste
salt to taste
1/2 t garam masala
2 C coconut milk
1 C water

1. Wash and soak rice  for 10 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a pan. Roast cashew on low flame
3. Add dry spices and fry for 2 minutes.
4. Add ginger, garlic, and chili. Saute rapidly for 2 minutes. Add onion and saute till it is cooked.
5. Add all the vegetables and tomato. Mix well. Add cilantro, turmeric and chili powder. Add garam masala.
6. Drain rice and mix it in. Add salt, coconut milk and water. Cover and cook till the rice is done(medium flame). It should be done in 15 minutes. Or transfer to electric rice cooker and cook.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Plantain with Tamarind and Dal

Green Plantains are low in sodium, low in calories and rich in potassium. They are good source of energy for diabetics. I use green plantains in different ways to accompany rice. Yesterday, I cooked it like a gravy to go with white rice. I used toor dal, black-eyed peas and tamarind to cook with the plantain.

2 large green cooking plantains
1/2 C tamarind water
1/4 C cooked toor dal
1/4 C cooked black-eyed peas
1/4 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
mustard seed,and urad dal for seasoning
To powder:
3 red chili
1/2 t corriander seeds
1/4 t urad dal
1/4 t raw rice

1. Peel plantain and cut into big cubes.
2.Cook plantain in enough water, with turmeric and salt. Add tamarind water and cook till the smell leaves.
3. Dry roast the ingredients to powder, and blend to make masala.
4. Stir in the dal and black-eyed peas.
5. Add the powdered masala. Mix well and cook for a minute.
6. Season with mustard and urad dal. Serve over cooked rice.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Beets Dry Kari

4 beets
1 t cumin,coriander powder
1/2 t chili powder
salt to taste
1 T crushed raw peanuts(optional)
1 t oil
mustard seeds, urad dal, and broken red chili for seasoning

1. Pressure cook the beets with skin for 3 whistles. Peel when cooled and dice to small pieces.
2. Heat oil in a pan. Season mustard, urad and chili. Add the beets, spices and mix gently. Cook for 3 minutes.
3. Sprinkle peanuts. Sprinkle lemon juice if necessary. Enjoy it like a salad or with rice.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chinese Fried Rice

Easy to make, loaded with vegetables, and my kids love this fried rice.

2 C rice
1 T sesame oil
1 bunch spring onion, sliced
1 T chili,garlic, and ginger, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced into small pieces
10 string beans, diced
broccoli florets
cauliflower florets
6 baby corn, diced
6 mushroom, diced
1 T soy sauce
1 t chili sauce or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook rice with little salt and oil. Cool it.
2. Heat oil in  a wok or a broad pan on medium heat.When the oil is hot, add chili, ginger and garlic, and saute quickly. Add the vegetables and saute till they are cooked, but crunchy. Mix in the spring onion.
3. Stir in the sauces,salt,and pepper. Add the rice. Mix well.

Vegetable Soup

I love making soup when it is cold. Today I did not have bread to make sandwich for lunch. I raided my refrigerator and made soup with the vegetables I found. It turned out well. It was low-fat too.

1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 turnip,diced
1/2 parsnip,diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red potato, diced
6 green beans, diced
4 florets cauliflower
1 small tomato, chopped
1 T edamame(green soy beans)
1 t dry parsley
1 T dry white beans
1 T dry basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 T olive oil

1. Heat oil in a pan. saute garlic and onion.
2. Add the rest of the vegetables. Add enough water to cover the vegetables.
3. Add the parsley and basil. Add the dry beans. Transfer everything to a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour or on low for 2 hours. If you do not have crock pot, put everything in a pressure cooker. Add salt. Cover and cook for 4 whistles.
4. When the soup is done, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with bread.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taza Khana: Sev(Omapodi)

Taza Khana: Sev(Omapodi)


My brother loves omapodi. This recipe calls for ajwain(omam), hence the name.

2 C besan(chick pea flour)
1 C rice flour
3-4 T butter
1 T ajwain
1t asafoetida
1/4 t turmeric powder
salt and chili powder to taste
oil to fry

1. Sift the flour together. Mix all the dry ingredients along with butter. Add enough water to make a soft dough.
2. Fill the dough in the sev maker, one with full of holes. Press the dough over hot oil. Take care not to burn the sev. Repeat the process for the remaining dough.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chakli(Mullu Thenguzhal)

4 C rice flour
1 C mung dal + 1 handful channa dal
1 T sesame seeds
salt to taste
1/2 t asafoetida

4-5 T ghee
oil to fry

Method :
1. Dry roast both dal and grind to smooth powder. Sift to get fine flour.
2. Sift rice flour. Mix both flour together. Add sesame seeds, salt, asafoetida and 1 teaspoon chili powder(optional), and mix well.
3. Heat oil in a pan.
4. Take 2 cups of floor mixture in a large bowl. Add 1-1/2 tablespoon ghee. Sprinkle water and make a dough.
5. Fill a portion of it in Chakli maker (use 1 with 'star' hole')
6. Press in to the hot oil and fry until golden brown
7. Repeat the process for the remaining dough and flour mixture.

Do not make the dough all at once. Make it as and when needed.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Double Layer Maida Cake(Burfi)

As a kid, I used to love maida cake served at weddings. I made double layer sweet this year during navaratri. I made some modifications to the recipe. My brother, who does not eat any sweet, loved it so much that he took home some of it.

Ingredients for white layer:
1 C maida(all purpose flour)
1 C ghee, melted
11/4 C sugar
1/2 C water
1/4 t cardamom powder
2 drops rose essence

Ingredients for chocolate layer:
First 4 ingredients
1 T cocoa powder
2 drops vanilla essence

Method for white layer:
1.Roast maida with ghee till the raw smell leaves. Take care not to burn the flour. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.
2. Heat sugar and water in a heavy bottomed vessel. Boil the syrup rapidly.
3. To test the consistency of the syrup: Drop a little syrup in a bowl of water. The syrup should stay without spreading in the water. Take care that it does not form into a soft ball.
4. Remove from stove. Add maida mixture, cardamom, and rose essence to the syrup. Stir briskly till the mixture blends. Add a pinch of baking soda and mix well.
5. Quickly pour on a greased tray. Pat the mixture for even distribution.

Chocolate layer:
1. Fry maida in ghee. Add cocoa and vanilla after removing the mixture from heat. Mix well and set aside.

2. Prepare burfi as mentioned above.
3. Pour it on top of the white burfi while it is still hot. Allow it to set for a minute and cut into pieces.

Cut the burfi while it is still warm.
Grease the knife before making pieces.

Bhoondi Laddu

Everybody in my family loves laddu. I started making this for Diwali 9 years ago. The first 2 years I did not get it right. The syrup was not right. I finally figured out the mistake : I left the syrup on the stove even after turning it off.

2 C besan
1 pinch baking soda
3 C sugar
1 C water
1 T roasted cashews, broken
5 clove, fried in ghee
1 t fried raisin
1 t diamond sugar candy(optional)
1/2 t powdered cardamom
kesar food color

1. In a large pan melt sugar in water. When the sugar dissolves, continue to heat to form syrup of half string consistency. Remove from stove. Add a little kesar food color and saffron to the syrup.
2. Sift besan and baking soda. Add enough water to make a batter, not too thick or thin. When poured on a sieved spoon(bhoondi ladle) and tapped, bhoondi should be rounded.
3. Heat oil in a broad pan. When the oil is hot, pour a ladle of batter on a bhoondi ladle. Keep the ladle over the oil and tap gently or rub fast with the spoon. Small droplets of batter will fall into the oil. Remove the bhoondi when it is half cooked(should not be crisp), and put in the sugar syrup. Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
4. Add cardamom, cashew, diamond sugar candy,raisin, and clove to the sugar, bhoondi mixture. Gently mix everything.
5. Allow it to cool slightly. Grease your hands with little ghee. Take a little bhoondi mixture and make ball; gently tossing in your right hand, while pressing with your left. Place the laddu on a tray. Allow it to set before storing.

The syrup should be removed from heat immediately after 1/2 string consistency.
The syrup should be warm while putting the bhoondi in it.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I make mysorepak every year for Diwali. I have seen many recipes, but I use the one that I got from my sister-in-law. She makes the best mysorepak. It is easy to make and my kids love it. My son just had a piece, straight from the tray, still warm and gave it an A.

1 C besan
1 C melted ghee
2 C sugar
1/2 C water

1. Sift the besan, and mix it with 3/4 cup ghee and fry over medium heat till the raw smell leaves. Take care not to burn the besan. Set it aside in a bowl.
2. Mix sugar and water in a large pan. Dissolve sugar over medium heat. Heat the sugar to make syrup of one string consistency. When a spoon dipped in the syrup is lifted it should form one string.
3. At this point, add the besan mixture to the syrup, while stirring constantly. When besan is blended with the syrup, continue stirring. Keep adding the remaining ghee little by little.  When the mixture thickens and becomes frothy, pour it on a greased tray.
4. Cut into pieces while it is still warm.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

White Pumkin Stew(kootu)

In south Indian food, kootu(கூட்டு) is a low fat food, which can be made with many vegetables in different ways. Kootu can be eaten with rice or flat bread(roti).

1 C white pumpkin, peeled, de seeded, and cubed
1 T peanuts
1 t channa dal
1/2 t sambar powder
1/4 C cooked toor dal
For masala:
1t channa dal
1/2 t coriander seeds
3 red chili
1 pinch asafoetida
1 t fresh grated coconut(optional)

1. Pressure cook the first 4 ingredients with little salt and water, for 3 whistles.
2. Meanwhile, in a little oil, fry the ingredients, powder and keep aside.
3. Take the cooked pumpkin in a saucepan, add cooked dal and heat for 2 minutes. 
4. stir in the masala powder and heat for 2 minutes. Season mustard, urad and curry leaves in 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil. Serve with rice or roti.

Roasted vegetable Panini

I love my panini grill. I make a lot of sandwiches for lunch. It is creative and kids love the variety. For this sandwich I used roasted red pepper and portobello mushroom.

4 square ciabatta bread
1 large red pepper
4 large porotbello mushroom
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
hot sauce(optional)

1. Cut the red pepper from top, and remove seeds. Flatten the pepper with the heel of your palm.
2. Clean the mushroom with wet paper towel, remove the stem and make 3 slits on the top.

3. On a plate, mix 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil(EVOO), 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ground pepper, and crushed red pepper(optional).
4. Coat vegetables with the oil mixture, and place them on a broiler pan, top side up. Broil till the peppers are blackened. Remove from pan. Place the pepper in a plastic bag while still hot and seal. When the pepper is cooled, peel the skin and cut pepper into strips.
5. Mix mayonnaise and horseradish in  a bowl. Spread the bottom slice with the mayo.

6. Layer the bottom with pepper, Cheese and mushroom, in that order. Place the top and grill it in the panini. Enjoy with spring mix salad.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

7 Cup Sweet

With Diwali fast approaching, I am trying out various sweet recipes. This is easy to make and kids will love it. There are 7 cups of ingredients in this recipe.

1 C besan
1 C ghee
1 C grated coconut
1 C milk
3 C sugar
1/2 t cardamom powder

1. Melt ghee in a thick bottom pan. Fry besan on low flame till the raw smell leaves. Take care not to burn the besan.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and keep stirring. Continue cooking till all the liquid evaporates and the mixture does not stick to the bottom. Add cardamom and mix. Pour the mixture on a greased pan. Cut into pieces while it is still warm.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bagara Baingan

I have not been able to blog for almost 2 weeks due to Navaratri. But I am back.  I  found very tender Indian eggplants in the Indian store last week. As soon as I saw them, I decided to make this dish. Typically, this recipe does not call for tomatoes. But I had this at a friend's party, and she had used tomatoes. I decided to use it too.

15 small purple eggplants
1 onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 T tamarind juice
1/2  t turmeric powder
salt to taste
2 T oil
curry leaves
mustard, channa dal, urad dal, and red chili for seasoning

Masala Powder:
11/2 t sesame seeds
1 t poppy seeds
2 T roasted peanuts
1inch cinnamon stick
2 clove
2 clove garlic
1/2 inch ginger, chopped
2 t coriander seeds
1/2 t cumin seeds
5 red chili
1 T grated coconut

1. Wash eggplant, and make four slits from the rounded end, with enough opening to stuff masala. Leave the stem intact.
2.Dry roast sesame and poppy seeds separately. Roast the remaining ingredients with little oil.  Powder them in a blender with a little salt. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in a broad pan on medium heat. Add the ingredients for seasoning. Add onion and cook till done.  Stir in the tomato and cook for a few minutes. Add turmeric powder and curry leaves, and cook.
4. In the meantime, stuff the eggplant with a teaspoon of masala. Place the eggplants in the pan in a single layer. Cook for 4 minutes.  Gently turn the eggplants and cook for 4 minutes.
5. Pour the tamarind juice. Add a little water. Stir in the remaining masala, and salt. Cover with a lid, lower the heat, and cook for a few minutes. Gently turn the eggplants occasionally. Add water if necessary. Check the eggplant. Remove from heat and serve with jeera rice or roti. The eggplant should be tender, but not mushy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Navaratri is around the corner..I'm getting organized for it, buying favors for the ladies and kids.  We have to fix the padi(கொலு படி) to arrange the dolls. Navartri means 'nava'- nine and 'ratri'- nights. It is celebrated in honor of Goddess Shakthi and her various incarnations.  It is celebrated differently in various parts of India.  Gujratis associate Navaratri to Dandya and Graba Ras. Bengalis celebrate Durga Puja in this season.  In TamilNadu, people celebrate this season by keeping Golu(கொலு). 

During Golu, we arrange variety of dolls on steps specially made for this purpose. The steps have to be in odd number. Typically, the first couple steps from the top are arranged with idols of Gods, like Ashta Lakshmi, Dasavatharam,etc. The next couple steps are reserved for puranas or sants. Then, human life, depicting marriage, economy,etc. It is like this to show that man has to evolve from human tendency to divinity.

Golu is more a social occasion than a religious one.  Women and kids are invited to see golu. Girls are expected to sing devotional songs.  The first 3 days are for Devi Durga, next 3 days are special to Devi Lakshmi, followed by 3 days devoted to Devi Saraswathi. The 9th day is Saraswathi Pooja. Students thank Saraswathi for her grace. Skilled workers thank Devi for their skills.  The 10th day is called Vijaya Dashami.  This is an auspicious day to start education for little kids. Children learning music, and arts, visit their gurus to pay their respect and start a new lesson. kids.

On these nine days, people make a sundal(சுண்டல்) with dry beans. Each day has its own special beans.  The women and kids who come to see the golu are given goody bags. Women are also given turmeric, kumkum, betel leaf and nut with flower and fruit.

So.. ladies and kids enjoy this golu season..

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pasta Salad

Sorry friends, haven't been able to blog for a few days. For those who do not like to eat pasta with sauce, this salad is a nice alternative.  I usually make myself pasta salad when I make pasta for kids.

1 C cooked penne pasta
1/4 red pepper, cut in strips
1/4 orange pepper, cut in strips
1/2 C broccoli florets
1/2 C cherry tomatoes, cut in half
lettuce, cleaned and torn
1 garlic, minced
1 T pesto sauce
1 T virgin olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan  cheese to garnish

1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan, and saute garlic and the vegetables(except tomatoes,and lettuce) 
2. In a small bowl, combine oil, balsamic vinegar and pesto.
3. In a large bowl, cobine pasta, vegetables, lettuce and tomato. Add pesto mixture, salt and pepper. Toss gently. Sprinkle with parmesan.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

White Kurma

I learned this recipe from my sister's mother-in-law.  It is so called because there is no tomato in this recipe.

1 C cauliflower florets
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 t fennel seeds
1/4 t turmeric powder

To be ground to masala:
1/2 inch cinnamon
1 clove
1 cardamom
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, chopped
1/2 C grated coconut
1 t poppy seeds, soaked in warm water
1 T cashew nuts
2-3 green chili

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan to medium heat. Add bay leaf, fennel seeds and onion. Saute onion until cooked. Add turmeric, salt, and the vegetables. Add enough water, cover and cook.
2. Meanwhile, blend the ingredients for the masala with little water.
3. Mix the masala to the vegetables. Stir gently and cook for a few minutes. Serve with peas pilaf or puri.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Doodi Subji(Bottle gourd)

1 medium doodi, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 onion,chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1-2 green chili, slit
1 t ginger, grated
1t garlic, minced
1/2 inch cinnamon
1 clove
1 cardamaom
1/2 t turmeric powder
1 t coriander + cumin powder
1 t goda masala
1 t poppy seeds, soaked in warm water
1/2 t cashew nuts
1/4 C milk or coconut milk

1. Heat oil in a pan to medium heat. Add cinnamon,clove, and cardamom. Add chili, ginger and garlic, and cook for a minute.
2. Add onion, and cook till it is done. Add the powdered spices and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add tomato and cook till it is mushy, for 3-5 minutes.
4. Stir in the vegetable. Add enough water, cover and cook till it is cooked.
5. In the meantime, make a paste of the nuts and poppy seeds. Mix the paste to the vegetable, along with milk or coconut milk. Stir gently and cook for 2 minutes before removing from the stove.
Serve with roti or naan.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vege Burrito

Burrito is one of my favorite Mexican dish. It is a whole meal wrapped up in a tortilla. My kids love to take it to school for lunch. Even my mom likes it. I make it a few different ways. Today, I made it simple.

5 large tortilla, burrito size
1 small onion, chopped
few cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
1 can pinto beans, or black beans, drained
1 T taco seasoning
1/2 C cooked rice, mixed with chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 C guacamole
1/2 C salsa
1/2 C shredded lettuce
1/2 C shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 C sour cream
hot sauce(optional)

1. Mix taco seasoning to beans and heat it in microwave
2. Mix onion, tomato, and pepper in a bowl. Add a little salt, lemon juice and gently mix.
3. Warm the tortilla in the microwave.
4. Set all the ingredients on the table. Let everyone build their own burrito.
5. Spread sour cream on the tortilla.Spread hot sauce on it . Layer it with rice in the center. Followed by beans, onion mixture, salsa, guacamole, lettuce and top it with cheese. Fold tortilla tightly to partially enclose the ingredients, tuck in the ends and  complete the rolling.