Saturday, July 27, 2013


Apam is  a pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk. It is a typical breakfast item in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is slightly sweet and usually eaten with sweetened coconut milk or chutney or meat gravy. I like it with coconut milk, that is the best combination.
There are different ways to make Apam, depending on the geographical location. Some people add toddy* to the batter to make it soft and for a "kick" as well. In Kerala coconut may be ground along with rice for the batter. In Tamil Nadu some people grind cooked rice for the batter. No matter what variation, Apam is a wonderful dish which can be addictive while eating.A special pan called Apam kadai is used to make Apam.
The other day we were discussing different food that we used to eat for breakfast in India. I cannot even dream to eat some of those in the morning now. Imagine we used to have Puri and potato for breakfast!
Anyway, I invited couple of my neighbors for breakfast this morning, because on of the uncles I had invited has never had Apam in his life. Now he can go to India and say that he had his first Apam In USA!
This is the recipe that I have been using for a long time.

2 C raw rice
2 C par boiled rice
1/2 C de husked black gram
coconut extract from 1 large coconut
1/2 t baking soda
6 T sugar

1. Soak rice and dal together for 3 hours.
2. Grind to thick, smooth batter. Add salt at the end. Allow to ferment for 18-20 hours.
3. Next day, grate coconut and take extract using 1-1/2 cups water. Strain well and pour on top of batter with sugar and baking soda. Let it stand for 2 minutes before mixing well. Batter should be thin.
4. Heat the Apam pan to medium heat high heat. There is no oil required if using non-stick pan.
5. Pour one cup of batter in the center of the pan. Hold the pan by the ears away from the heat and swirl it around so that a thin layer outside and thicker in the middle. Cover with the lid and lower heat to medium. Remove the cooked Apam when the sides are golden brown.

6. Repeat the process with remaining batter. Serve warm with sweetened coconut milk or chutney.
* Toddy is palm wine also known as "Kallu" in Tamil. It is alcohol taken from Palm tree.
Be sure to add the right amount of coconut milk. Excess of it can cause Apam to stick to the bottom.
The pan should be hot before pouring the batter. Reduce the flame after pouring. For best result avoid using Apam pan for any other purpose.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Vazhakai Puli Kootu(Plantain stew with tamarind)

Every part of Banana tree is used in South Indian kitchens,from the trunk of the plant to fruit. A good friend of mine gave me her mother's recipe using plantain. It is a stew made with tamarind and can be had with rice. I made this kootu couple days ago for dinner. My son who usually doesn't like any kootu ate it 3 times. It was that good!

2 Plantain,peeled and diced 
1/2C tamarind extract(gooseberry size tamarind)
1/4 C black eyed peas, cooked and drained
1/2 C cooked toor dal
1/4 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 t channa dal
1/2 t urad dal
3 red chili
1/4 t rice
For tempering:
1/2 t mustard seeds
1/4 t urad dal
2 red chili
2 t coconut oil

1. Place plantain, tamarind extract, turmeric powder, salt, asafotida and enough water in a medium saucepan and cook till plantain is soft.
2. Meanwhile, roast all the ingredients for masala with 1 teaspoon oil. Allow to cool and powder it. Keep it aside.
3. Add cooked dal and black eyed peas to cooked plantain. Stir in powdered masala. Cook          for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. 
4. Heat coconut oil and temper mustard and urad dal and red chili. Add it to the kootu. Serve hot with cooked rice.          

Vazhakai Podimas(Plantain Curry)

I had 3 plantains left in my refridgerator for a week. My mom suggested that I should use
1 potato with it and make this dry side dish for bitter gourd sambar. I used a lot of onion and green chilies for this dish.

3 plantain and 1 potaoto, cooked
2 onions, chopped
3-4 green chillies,chopped
mustard seeds,urad dal,channa dal for seasoning
1 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
1t chopped cilantro
lemon juice to taste

1. Peel cooked vegetables and mash.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, urad dal and channa dal; stir till  they splutter. Add chopped chili and onion; stir till onion is cooked. Stir in turmeric powder and salt. Add mashed vegetables; stir everything for 2 minutes.  Check for salt. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve as side dish with rice and sambar.   

Vegetable Stir-Fry

Chinese food incorporates a lot vegetables in the dishes. Their food looks very colorful. Atleast once a week I make some Chinese dish. Yesterday I made Stir-fry for my husband. He had it for lunch with some white rice.

1 carrot
1/4 pepper (any color)
5 sugar snaps
4 string beans
4 broccoli florets
3 mushrooms
2 spring onion, chopped
2 pods garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, chopped
2 green chilies, chopped
1 t chili sauce
1 t coriander-cumin seeds powder
2 t soy sauce
1 t rice c vinegar
Salt to taste
1 T corn starch
3 T water

1. Cut vegetables (except sugar snaps) into 2 inch strips. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok to medium heat. Saute chili, garlic and ginger for a few seconds. Stir in the vegetables quickly for a few minutes.  Add tofu strips and continue to stir some more.
2. Add cumin-coriander powder, chili sauce, vinegar and salt and continue to stir.  Mix corn starch with water. Stir this in along with soy sauce for 2 minutes.  A
Garnish with chopped spring onion.  Serve hot with white rice or sticky rice or brown rice.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mung Dal Paratha

I never knew that Mung dal can be used to make Parathas. Heard about this from a friend recently and tried it out yesterday. Wow! It was too good and very filling. It tasted like eating roti with dal.

Ingredients for the stuffing:
1 C mung dal, cooked
2 greeen chili, chopped
chili powder, to taste
1/4 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 t pomegranate seeds(optional)
1/2 t aamchur powder(mango powder)
1 t fresh cilantro, chopped

For Paratha:
3 C whole wheat flour
enough hot water
1 t oil
1/2 t salt

1. In a large bowl, mix the ingredients for paratha together to make soft dough. Cover and keep aside.
2. Cook mung dal with enough water. Make sure not to over cook dal. Let it cool; add remaining ingredients for stuffing and mix gently.
3. Divide dough into big balls(15). Flatten each ball with rolling pin. Spoon 1 spoon of stuffing in the center; cover by folding edges for outside and roll again to make somewhat thick paratha. Repeat the process with remaining dough.

4. Heat griddle to medium; cook paratha on both sides. Drizzle oil and cook again on both sides till golden brown. Serve with any vegetable or plain with yogurt.


Maravalli Kizhangu(Tapioca) Dosa

Tapioca or Yucca is a root that is abundant in Tamil Nadu. It is energy boosting vegetable for farmers. I remember eating boiled Yucca for after school snack. My mom also used to make a sweet dish called puttu with it.  Brazilians use this vegetable to make cake and other savory dishes. There is one more dish that my kids love, Tapioca chips. Recently I learned yet another dish that can be made from this root, Tapioca Dosa. This can be prepared soon after grinding the batter. I served this for dinner tonight with coconut chutney.

2 C Par-boiled rice
1/4 C Toor dal
1 T Urad dal
4-5 red chili
curry leaves
2 C grated Tapioca
salt to taste

1. Wash and soak rice, dal and chili together for 4 hours.
2. Peel and grate Tapioca.
3. Drain water from soaked rice; grind along with Tapioca to a smooth batter. Stir in asafoetida, curry leaves and salt.
4. Heat griddle to medium; pour 1 ladle of batter, spread it to a slightly thick round; drizzle with oil and cook on both sides by turning once. Make soft dosas. Serve with any chutney of your choice.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Adai(Lentil Pancake)

Adai is one of the most popular dishes in Tamil Nadu Brahmin community. It is a wholesome pancake made with different kinds of lentil. Whenever my mom used to make small onion sambar for lunch, we would definitely have Adai for dinner. I also like it with Avial. My husband though likes it with brown sugar. We just had awesome adai with chili powder(Milagai podi) for dinner.

1 C Channa dal
1 C Toor dal
1/2 C Urad dal
1 C par-boiled rice
1 T mung dal
3-4 red chili(adjust to taste)
5 pepper corn
1/4 t asafoetida
salt to taste
1 onion, chopped(optional)
1 sprig curry leaves
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Soak Channa dal, Toor dal, Urad dal together; red chili,black pepper and rice together
 for 4 hours. Soak mung dal separately for 15 minutes.
2. Grind rice, red chili and black pepper to a smooth batter. Add drained dal to it and grind coarsely. Add drained mung dal in the end. Remove from grinder or blender; stir in salt and asafoetida; mix well.
3. Stir in chopped onion, curry leaves and cilantro before making Adai.
4. Pour 1/2 cup batter onto hot griddle and spread it round and thick. Make a hole in the center with spatula. Drizzle 1 spoon oil around the batter and in the center. Turn it over when color changes and cook on both sides till golden brown.
5. Serve it plain or with sambar, avial or milagai podi.
This batter does not have to be fermented. Onion can be omitted. Fresh grated coconut can be mixed into the batter. 

Channa dal Chutney

I developed my love for cooking and eating from my mother. She used to treat our palates to variety of dishes when we were growing up. She used to make specific accompaniments to every dish. Potato curry was made with Onion Sambar, Vathal Kuzhambu was accompanied by Parippu Thuvayal. For Idly and Dosa, my mom used to make different variety of chutney, coconut, tomato, channa dal, peanut, onion etc. Our favorite chutney to go with Idly was Channa dal Chutney. I like to add a little curd(yogurt) to it.
Yesterday I made this chutney for dinner to go with Idlly. Oh how I enjoyed it!

1/2 C Channa Dal, roasted with 1/2 t oil
3-4 red chili, roasted along with channa dal(adjust to taste)

1 pinch asafoetida
1/4 C fresh grated coconut
salt to taste
mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves for tempuring

Blend all the ingredients adding enough water. Remove from blender. Top with tempured seasonings. Serve with Idly or Dosa.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sushi Rolls

Being a food lover, I've always been a little disappointed that we cannot find too many vegetarian options at a Japanese restaurant. The first time I had sushi was at work. I liked the taste of seaweed. Many years ago my friend gave me fresh seaweed salad. Not everyone would like the taste of it. There is a Vegan restaurant that we go to once a year for my son's birthday (it's 45 miles away). Anyway, this year when we went there we tried a variety of sushi, made with yam, cucumber, pepper and avocado. They were amazing. My manager at work taught me how to make sushi.
A few weeks ago I went to an Asian Market nearby and bought the necessary items and tried my hand in making sushi. I have to say, they turned out good and every one liked it. Though my mom doesn't like the taste of seaweed.

Bamboo Sushi mat
Sushi Nori(roasted seaweed)
2 C cooked rice
1 T rice vinegar
small red pepper, julined
small cucumber, julined
1 carrot, peeled and julined
1/4 avocado, julined
prepared  Wasabi
soy sauce
How to make Sushi Rolls:
1. Place freshly made steamed rice in a large flat bowl. Sprinkle rice vinegar over the rice and mix the rice swiftly with a flat wooden spatula. Be careful that the rice does not become too sticky. Cool rice to room temperature. Cover the bowl with a damp towel to prevent rice from drying out.
2. Place a sheet of Sushi Nori over the bamboo Sushi mat with the shiny side down.
3. Spread Sushi rice evenly over the nori and leave 1 inch space at the edge of the nuri. Place your favorite fillings across the center of the sushi rice.

 4. Place your thumbs on the back of the mad and begin rolling away from you. Be sure to support the fillings with the rest of your fingers. Roll the sushi until the edge of the nori is placed under the sushi. shape the roll by pressing lightly with both hands. Remove the bamboo sushi mat and slice sushi roll into six to eight pieces.

5. Serve Sushi rolls with soy sauce and wasabi.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Green Peas Paratha

Looking in my freezer for something, I came upon a bag of frozen peas and decided that it would be a treat to make stuffed Parathas with it. My daughter helped me make it for her dad for Father's Day. I made his favorite dish, Mirchi ka Salan to go with it.

Ingredients for stuffing:
2 C fresh or frozen green peas, boiled, drained and mashed
2-3 green chili, chopped
1/2 t coriander-cumin powder
1 t chili powder(optional)
1/4 t turmeric powder
salt to taste
Ingredients for Paratha(Flat Bread):
3 C whole wheat flour
enough hot water
1 t oil
1/2 t salt

1. Add water, salt and oil to the flour and knead to a soft dough.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium pan. Saute chili and mashed green peas; stir in salt and spices. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
3. Divide dough into large balls(tennis ball size). Flatten ball with rolling pin; place 1 tablespoon filling in the center, close it by bringing  the ends  over the filling and make into a ball. Flatten  it  with  rolling pin to make a bread.
4. Repeat the process with remaining dough.
5. Cook Parathas on a hot griddle using a teaspoon oil and both sides. Serve hot with yogurt and pickle or any vegetable. It would be great plain too.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


My daughter was very excited to plan the dinner menu yesterday when I told her that my childhood friend was coming over. She wanted me to make Mexican food for them. Although they couldn't make it here, my kids still wanted Mexican. I made Enchilada and Mexican rice. We had a great dinner. Enchilada is a baked tortilla stuffed with meat,cheese and sauce. I substituted beef with vegetables and beans. It is a very filling single dish item.

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
3 garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
5 mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 C pink beans, soaked, cooked and drained
2 10 oz. can Enchilada sauce
1 T taco seasoning
11/2  C grated cheddar cheese
5 enchilada style tortilla(6 inch)

1. Heat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease 13x9-inch glass baking dish. In 10-inch skillet, cook saute garlic and onion in 1 T oil over high heat for a minute. Lower heat to medium and cook the vegetables till they are soft and crunchy. Stir in cooked beans and taco seasoning.
2. Stir in 3/4 cup of the enchilada sauce and 1 cup of the cheese.
3. Spoon enchilada filling onto tortillas; roll up and place seam side down in prepared baking dish.
4. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over top; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
5. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until hot. Garnish with sour cream and home style salsa.
Serve with Mexican rice.

I have used soy crumbles along with vegetables in the past.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Chocolate Walnut Cake

Who doesn't like chocolate? Well,in my house, we all love chocolate, especially my daughter. Any time I want to bake something it has to be with chocolate. We celebrated my husband's birthday yesterday, and guess what cake my kids wanted, chocolate of course. This year I made a simple chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and topped it with toasted walnuts. It was delicious.

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate,chopped
2 C granulated sugar
1/3 C plus 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/2 C buttermilk
2 eggs
2 t vanilla extract
3/4 t salt
2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
6 T milk
3 C confectioners' sugar
1 C walnuts,toasted and chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2.In a large saucepan, melt 1 1/2 sticks butter,chocolate, granulated sugar,1/3 cup cocoa and 1 cup water over medium heat, whisking until smooth and warm. Let cool for10 minutes.
3. Grease bottom and sides of 9-13 inch metal baking pan. Whisk buttermilk,eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon salt into chocolate mixture. Add flour, baking powder and baking soda; whisk jult until blended. Transfer batter to prepared pan; bake until springy in center, about 45minutes.
1. In medium saucepan, melt remainig 1/2 stick butter over medium heat. Whisk in 6 T milk and remaining 1/4 C cocoa, 1 t vanilla and 1/4 t salt; remove from heat. Whisk in confectioners' sugar until smooth(mix in 1to 2Tmore milk if too thick). 
2. Let cake cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes, then frost warm cake.
3. Sprinkle with walnuts. Let the cake cool completely before cutting and serving

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mirapakaya Pattani(Hot Pepper with Green Peas)

My friend at work got me hooked to watching Indian version of Top Chef. I watch it online. A few weeks ago one of the judges on the show made a dish with long hot peppers(Bajji Milagai) and green peas. My friend made it and brought it to work last week. It tasted very good. I had to make it too. I bought the long peppers from Indian store and made the dish  for dinner couple days ago. It was delicious, but hot as hell. We had it with roti. You can use Italian hot peppers for this dish.

2 Tablespoon oil
5-6 long peppers, de-seeded and sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 Cup green peas, boiled
cinnamon, 1 inch piece
3 cloves
2 cardamom
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
chili powder to taste
salt to taste
1 Tablespoon cashewnuts
1 Tablespoon grated coconut

1. Deep fry sliced peppers and keep aside.
2. Grind cashew and coconut to paste(with some water).
3. Boil green peas, drain and set aside.
4. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add cinammon, clove, cardamom and bay leaf; fry for a minute. Add onion and cook well till it browns. Stir in ginger-garlic paste and stir constantly for a minute. Add tomato and cook till it becomes pulp. Add turmeric powder and chili powder and salt. Stir well.
5. Stir in the cashew-coconut paste. Add some water and stir for a couple minutes. Stir in pepper and peas. Let it simmer for 5 minutes or until oil separates. Remove from heat. Serve hot with roti, naan, dosa or appam. This will not go well with rice.

I used less oil than used by the chef on TV. I sauted pepper instead of deep frying.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chili Garlic Rice

I can manage cooking Indian food for a week or so without going to Indian store. Any longer,  I have to be innovative in my kitchen. I've not been able to go to Indian store for 2 weeks. This week I have to manage with vegetables from local farmers' market.  I made hot and sour soup this morning.  Trying to decide what to make with it for dinner, I came up with this idea of chili garlic rice. We all went to our favorite Vegan restaurant 2 weeks ago to celebrate my son's and my sister's birthday. We had orange mock chicken there.  On a recent visit to the supermarket I bought a sauce packet for orange chicken. I made it along with the rice today. It turned out to be nice.

1 Cup Basmati rice, cooked and cooled
2 Tablespoon sesame oil
3-4 garlic pods, minced
2-3 green chili, diced
1 small carrot, diced
3 string beans, diced
few broccoli florets
3 mushrooms, diced
2 spring onions, sliced
salt to taste
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon green chili sauce

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan over medium high heat. Saute garlic and chili for a minute. Add diced vegetables, except green onion and stir fry for 3 minutes.
2. Stir in pepper, salt, green chili sauce and soy sauce. Stir in cooked rice. Garnish with sliced spring onion. Serve hot.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Cake

With a house full of chocolate lovers how can I make anything but chocolate cake for my son's birthday!
My son found this lovely cake recipe online and wanted it for his 13th birthday today. This is a tender, luxurious layer cake with ganache glaze and decadent bittersweet filling. I was in heaven when I took the first bite!

2-1/2 Cups milk
1 Cup butter, cubed
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-2/3 Cups all-purpose flour
2 Cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons butter, cubed
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2-1/2 Cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream

10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 Cup heavy whipping cream

1. In a large saucepan, cook milk, butter and chocolate over low heat until melted.  Remove from heat; let stand for 10 minutes
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and vanilla; stir in chocolate mixture until smooth. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into the mixture ( batter will be thin). Transfer to three greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans.  Bake at 325 F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
3. For filling, in a small saucepan, melt butter and chocolate.  Stir in confectioners' sugar and cream until smooth.
4. For ganache, place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate; whisk until smooth.  Cool, stirring occasionally, until ganache reaches a spreading consistency.
5. Set aside 1/2 cup filling for garnish.  Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with half of the remaining filling. Repeat another layer. Top with remaining cake layer.  Spread ganache over top and sides of cake. Decorate with reserved filling.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ma Po Tofu

Szechuan province in China is known for its spicy food. People there use prickly ash in their dishes. Prickly ash looks like pepper corn covered in a pink covering. It numbs your taste buds when bitten which helps mask the spice in the food. It is known as triphala in India.
When I visited my sister in California, she made a tofu dish in a spicy sauce, called Ma Po Tofu. It tasted very good. Yesterday I made this dish to go with Szechuan Rice. It was so spicy I thought my kids may not be able to handle it. To my amazement my daughter loved it. My son had it with sour cream.

1 Package (14 ounces) firm tofu, drained
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 vegetable broth, divided
2 Tablespoons black bean sauce
1 Tablespoon chili sauce
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tblespoons sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 Cup fresh green onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon prickly ash, dry roasted and broken (pound in a mortar)

1. Drain tofu. Place between layers of paper towels. Place a cutting board and heavy cans on top for 15 minutes.
2. Cut tofu into 3/4-inch squares. Place in a shallow dish; sprinkle with soy sauce and ginger.
3. Stir together 1/4 cup broth, black bean sauce, chili sauceand cornstarch in small bowl; set aside.
4. Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add garlic; cook for a minute. Ad remaining 3/4 cup broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simer 3 minutes.
5. Stir sauce mixture and add to wok. Cook and stir 1 minute or until sauce boils and thickens. Stir in tofu an simmer, uncovere, until heated through. Mix in prickly ash. Sprinle with green onion. Serve with cooked rice.

You can add bite-size pieces of 1 green bell pepper and 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets before adding sauce mixture.

Szechuan Rice

Everyone has a special something that they are good at making. My sister is good at making different kinds of rice. Whenever she visits us she makes one variety at least. Yesterday, before leaving for Canada she made this awesome Szechuan Rice. In the process of cooking, I realized that I was out of  soy sauce. Fortunately, I was able to borrow it from my neighbor. It turned out to be a treat. I also made Mapo Tofu with it.

1 Cup Basmati rice, cooked and cooled
1 Tablespoon + 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2- inch ginger, chopped
3 green chili, slit(optional)
1 onion, chopped
3-4 large mushroom, cleaned and chopped
1 carrot, diced
3-4 baby corn, diced
2 Tablespoons green peas
2 Tablespoons Chinese red chili sauce(adjust to taste)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
salt to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Heat 1tablespoon oil in a wok over medium heat. Quickly saute minced garlic, and remove from oil. Add ginger and garlic. Saute for a minute; add onion and chili. Cook for 3 minutes. Add mushroom and saute for 2 minutes before adding carrots, peas and corn. Stir in soy sauce, chili sauce and salt. Add cooled rice and mix well. Mix in 1 tablespoon oil or chili oil.  Serve hot.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Hot idly and Kadappa on a cold night.. aww.. not to be missed! I've never made kadappa before. It is one of my sister's specialties. Today, I learned to make it from her( she made it and I watched ). It was an awesome combination. Even my kids enjoyed it. It tastes like kurma, only this is made with mung dal.

1 Cup mung dal
2-3 green chili pepper, slit
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 Cup diced carrots
1 medium potato, diced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 Tablespoon oil
1 inch cinammon
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 curry leaves
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 small tomato, chopped
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste
To grind to paste:
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cloves garlic
2-3 green chili(optional)
2 Tablespoons grated fresh coconut

1. Pressure cook mung dal, chili, garlic, carrots and potato with turmeric with a lot of water.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cinammon, fennel and curry leaves to splutter. Add Onion and cook for 4 minutes. Add tomato, turmeric and salt; cook for 5 minutes.
3. Remove cooked dal from the pressure cooker and stir into the saucepan. Add ground paste to it. Stir well, adding water to make it to sambar consistency( stew consistency). Bring it to a boil. Remove from heat. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve hot with idly or dosa.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vegetable Lasagna

Everytime my daughter wants something special, it always is Lasagna. She could live on it everyday! It is a wholesome meal with all the food groups. I always make it with lots of vegetables.

12 ready to cook lasagna noodles (1 package)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium bell pepper of any color, diced
1 Cup broccoli florets
3/4 Cup pesto
1 container marinara sauce
1 container (15 ounces) ricotta cheese
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 Cup chopped parsley
3 Tablespoons margarine or butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Cups milk
2 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Add carrots,bellpepper and broccoli, and cook for a few minutes. Stir in pesto and marinara sauce. Add salt to taste. Let the sauce cook till the vegetables are tender.
2. Mix ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsely, 1 chopped garlic, and pepper to taste.
3. Melt margarine in 2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook garlic in margarine about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until garlic is tender. Stir in flour.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubble; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.
4. Heat oven to 350 F.
5. Place 3 noodles in ungreased rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.  Spread half of the cheese mixture over noodles.  Top with 3 noodles; spread with half of the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Top with 3 noodles; spread with remaining vegetable mixture. Pour sauce evenly over the top.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
6. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes or until hot in center. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

German Chocolate Cake

My sister's birthday is tomorrow! My son and my sister have their birthdays in the same week. It seems almost everyone has their birthdays in January! When my sister visits me, she gets to choose the cake she wants. This year she wanted German Chocolate Cake. I went to the good old Betty Crocker book for the recipe. It was a bitter cold day, and some cake would definitely help the house get warmer. Fortunately I had all the ingredients at home. I hope she likes the cake!

4 ounces sweet cooking chocolate
1/2 Cup water
2 Cups sugar
1 Cup stick margarine or butter, softened
4 large eggs
2 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup buttermilk
Coconut -Pecan Frosting

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease bottom and sides of 3 round pans, 8x1 1/2 or 9x1 1/2 inches. Grease the pans and line the bottoms of the pans with waxed paper.
2. Heat chocolate and water in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring until chocolate is melted; cool.
3. Beat sugar and margarine in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in chocolate and vanilla on low speed. Add remaining ingredients except frosting. Beat on low speed just until blended. Pour into pans.
4. Bake 8-inch rounds 35 to 40 minutes, 9-inch rounds  30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to  wire rack. Remove waxed paper. Cool completely.
5. Meanwhile make Coconut-Pecan Frosting, leaving side of cake unfrosted.

Coconut-Pecan Frosting
1 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup stick margarine or butter
1 Cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large egg yolks
1 1/3 Cups flaked coconut
1 Cup chopped pecans

1. Mix sugar, margarine, milk, vanilla and egg yolks in 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick.
2. Stir in coconut and pecans. Cool about 30 minutes, beating occasionally, until spreadable.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Soybean Subji a la Slow Cooker

Soybeans are rich in protein. They are known as meat without bone. Yesterday I made subji using dried soybeans. I forgot to soak the beans overnight. So, I just soaked them in a hot pack container for an hour and cooked the beans in crock pot. In about 6 hours the subji was done and it tasted yummy. We had it with aaloo parntha.

1 Cup dried soy beans, soaked for an hour in a thermos (use hot water)
1 of each cinnamon stick, clove, and black cardamom
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, minced
2 green chili, slit
1 Onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder
1 teaspoon goda masala
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
salt to taste

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan to medium heat. Add cinnamon, clove and cardamom. Add ginger, garlic, and chili. Give it a quick stir. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes; add tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in cumin-coriander powder, goda masala, chili powder and salt. Stir in soybeans.
2. Pour the bean mixture into slow cooker. Pour enough water and set it on high for 5 hours or until soybean is soft. Serve hot with roti or paratha.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vathal Kuzhambu

There would be very few South Indians(esp. Tamils) who do not like Vathal Kuzhambu. It is my all time favorite. My kids love it any time. They would always ask me to give curd rice in their hand with a spoon of kuzhambu in it. My mom used to make us kids sit in a circle on the floor, and feed us all by hand. She would also tell us stories. We would never know how much we ate. Those were the days. Some of my friends might remember it.  Yesterday I made sundakai vatal kuzhambu with red pohi with toor dal. It was amazing! :)

lemon size tamarind, soaked in 2 Cups water
2 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
little methi seeds
1/4 teaspoon channa dal and toor dal
2 dried red chili, broken
1 Tablespoon vathal ( sundakai or manathakkali)
2-3 teaspoon sambar powder
salt to taste
curry leaves

1. Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the next 4 ingredients; when mustard seeds splutter, add vathal and saute for a minute. Add asafoetida and sambar powder and stir for a few seconds.
2. Extract tamarind juice and discard tamarind. Stir in the tamarind water to the saucepan.  Add salt and curry leaves. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer till kuzhambu thickens and tamarind smell leaves. Remove from heat. Serve with plain rice. It could also be eaten with dal rice(parripu sadham) and curd rice.

1. Vathal is dried berries. They can be salted or unsalted. Vathal can be made from okra, beans, bitter squash (karela), manathakkali or sundakai.
2. Typical accompaniment for vathal kuzhambu is parripu thuvayal.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stuffed Bell peppers

Bell pepper is a wonderful vegetable that can be used in a number of dishes. I bought sweet yellow bell peppers last week in my local farmer's market. I made a one dish dinner yesterday with these puppies. I made stuffed bell peppers and roasted butternut squash soup. The whole family enjoyed this warm meal on a rainy night.

3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 Cup chopped mushroom
1/2 Cup black beans, drained
1 Tablespoon sliced black olives
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder
1 Cup rice(not Basmati)
2 Tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in 3 Cups hot water
6 red, green, yellow, or orange bell peppers

1. Wash and soak rice.
2. Heat oil in a shallow, heavy-bottom pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add mushroom, cook for 2 minutes. Add black olives, black beans, chili powder, cumin-coriander powder, and salt. Stir for a minute. Add tomato paste mixed in water, and bring to a boil.
3. Drain rice and add it to the pan. Add half of parsley, stir and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat and let rice cook for20 minutes,or until rice is tender, and the liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle more water if required.  Stir in the remaining parsley. Set aside and let cool slightly.
4. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the top of each bell pepper and set aside. Remove and discard the core and seed from each pepper.
5. Lightly spray a baking dish. Rub or spray the peppers with oil, arrange them in a single layer in the dish. Divide the stuffing equally between the bell peppers. Use wooden tooth-picks to secure the tops back in place.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the bell peppers are tender. Serve hot.

1. I like to use black rice or mix wild rice with short-grain rice.
2. I add chopped Jalapeno peppers to the rice for flavor.
3. My kids like to add shredded cheese to the rice and also like to eat it with sour cream.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Chocolate Truffles

There are 2 chocolate lovers in the family,one being moi. This holiday season I wanted to try something new. I thought truffles would be difficult to make. I looked through Betty Crocker book, found a recipe and decided to make it. I gathered all the ingredients and found that I did not have liqueur and whipping cream. I went to the store at 8:30 PM and started the process at 9:30 PM. I finished making the truffles at midnight. But, it was worth it. I boxed the truffles as holiday gifts for my friends.  I was thrilled to hear that they were delicious.

1 package(12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips(2 Cups)
2 Tablespoons stick margarine or butter
1/4 Cup whipping (heavy) cream
2 Tablespoons liqueur ( almond, cherry, coffee, hazelnut, Irish cream, orange, etc.), if desired
1 Tablespoon shortening
Finely chopped nuts, if desired
1/4 cup powdered sugar, if desired
1/2 teaspoon milk, if desired

1. Like cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips in heavy 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in margarine. Stir in whipping cream and liqueur. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes; stirring frequently, just until thick enough to hold a shape.
3. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Shape into balls. (If mixture is too sticky, refrigerate until firm enough to shape.) Freeze 30 minutes.
4. Heat shortening and remaining 1 cup chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth; remove from heat. Dip truffles, one at a time, into chocolate. Return to aluminum foil-covered cookie sheet. Immediately sprinkle some of the truffles with finely chopped nuts. Dust some of the truffles with cocoa powder and some with powdered sugar. Refrigerate about 10 minutes or until coating is set.
5. Drizzle some of the truffles with a mixture of 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon milk.  Refrigerate just until set.  Serve at room temperature. Store truffles in airtight container.

1. Do not use vegetable oil spreads because they contain very little fat and there is water content too, which can affect the texture of the chocolate.
2. For the first batch I used margarine instead of shortening, and the chocolate sauce for dipping the truffles became thick. I had to coat them with hand, and some of the truffles were not smooth. So, for the second batch I used butter and added a little cream to the chocolate mixture and left the sauce on very low heat while dipping the truffles. The result was smooth and shiny truffles.