Friday, November 6, 2015


My most favorite holiday is Diwali. Its the only festival where we don't have to wait for puja to eat!
I love this loud festival of lights and fireworks. Its been 20 years since I celebrated Diwali in India. I miss fervor of the holiday season, shopping for clothes, buying firecrackers, visiting friends and exchanging sweets. Most of all making delicacies with loved ones. Living outside India, I don't get the feel of any festival, mainly because our community is sporadic and we don't get off from work or school. I try to bring the festive mood in my house by making some special treats. My daughter likes limited Indian sweets. My son though, will eat anything. 

I kicked off this season with jangiri, my favorite sweet.  I love the crispy exterior and juicy interior.  I'll be mailing the sweets to my daughter tomorrow. Jangiri is a squiggly shaped fried dough dunked in sugar syrup. It is made from urad dal batter.

1 Cup white urad dal
1 Tablespoon rice
1 1/2 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup water
Kesar color
few strands of saffron
2 tsps rose essence

1. Soak dal and rice together for 20 minutes.
2. Grind to smooth thick frothy batter using very little water.  Add kesar food color before removing from grinder. Keep aside.
3. Mix sugar and water in a heavy bottom pan and cook on medium heat, constantly stirring till half string consistency is attained. Stir in food color, crushed saffron and rose essence. Turn the stove off.
4. Meanwhile heat oil in a flat bottom pan. 
5. Fill a plastic condiment squeeze bottle with batter. snip the nozzle on top to make it wider.
6. Gently squeeze the bottle over the oil making a ring and squiggly rings around the base ring. It will look like a flower. Cook on both sides by turning gently. It should not be too crisp and make sure the color does not change. Remove jangiri from oil and place it in hot sugar syrup. Soak on both sides for a minute.
7. Remove from syrup and arrange on a flat plate.
8. Repeat the process with remaining batter.
For best results, batter should be smooth and thick. 
Oil should not be too hot.
If syrup crystallizes, add little water and heat till sugar dissolves.

Half string consistency:  Syrup should be sticky. When tested between 2 fingers, a thin string of 1/2 inch should form and break 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stovetop Pizza

 Somebody had shared the YouTube video of how to make no bake pizza in under 15 minutes. Last week I tried this with my daughter. Boy was she happy. She just loved it. We made it in just 15 minutes and in a pan on the stove!

1/2 Cup self rising flour
1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. dry yeast
2/3 Cup warm water
1 pinch salt
1 tsp. honey
Pizza sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Desired toppings

1. Mix flour and salt in a non-stick pan. Add yeast, water, and honey. Stir quickly to form dough.
2. Press and spread dough in the pan for base.
3. Evenly spread pizza sauce on the base.
4. Top with your favorite toppings.
5. Top with cheese.
6. Cover the pan with lid with vents closed and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.
7. Open vents and cook for 10 minutes. Check for burning and reduce heat if needed.
8. Remove from pan. Slice and serve hot.


Paneer Tikka Kati Roll

Kati roll or Frankie is a popular Mumbai dish. It is a wrap filled with vegetables, paneer or meat and cooked on egg on the bottom.The wrap is then toasted on the skillet with butter and served with hot green chutney. My version is one without egg, filled with marinated vegetables and paneer tikka that was broiled and not fried.

Ingredients for roti:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
salt to taste
1 Tbsp. oil

Ingredients for paneer tikka and vegetable:
1 package paneer, sliced think, 2 inches long
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp amchur powder
salt to taste
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. grated garlic
water to make paste
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 Tbsp. oil

1 Green pepper, sliced
1 Onion, sliced
1 Cup sliced cabbage
1/4 Cup vinegar
11/2 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. coriander powder
1 tsp. pomegranate powder
1 tsp. amchur powder(dried mango)
1/4 tsp. black pepper powder
1 pinch asafoetida
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste

Method for making roti:
1.In a large bowl, mix 1 Tbsp. oil and little salt to all purpose flour and wheat flour. Add enough water and knead to soft dough. Cover and keep aside for 10 minutes.
2. Make 10 baseball size balls from the dough. Using a rolling pin make thin round rotis.
3. Heat skillet to medium heat. Cook roti on both sides. Remove and set aside. Repeat process for all the roti.

Method for Paneer Tikka:
1. In a medium bowl mix the dry ingredients for paneer tikka and ginger garlic with just enough water to make marinade. Toss paneer slices and marinate for 20 minutes.

 3. Spread marinated paneer on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Spray with oil and broil for 10 minutes till paneer is slightly crisp.
4. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a pan to medium high. Add green chili, onion and pepper; saute for 5 minutes. Add tomato and cook for a few minutes. Mix broiled paneer and cook for a couple minutes. Remove from stove and set aside.

5. Take the sliced vegetables in a large bowl. Add vinegar and dry ingredients for kati roll masala(listed beneath sliced vegetables). Toss together and set aside.
How to Build Kati Roll:
1. Place one roti on a plate. Spread butter on the surface. Place some marinated vegetables in the center of the roti. Top with paneer tikka. Sprinkle with some kati roll masala.

2. Fold the bottom and then the bring the sides to wrap the stuffing. Stick a tooth pick to hold the wrap. Repeat process with all the rotis.
  3. Heat skillet to medium heat. Add butter to the skillet. Place 2 or 3 kati rolls with folded side up and cook and both sides till slightly crisp. Remove from heat. Repeat process for all kati rolls.
4. Serve hot with spicy green chutney.
Ready made kati rolls rotis are available in the Indian Stores to make it easy. Kati roll masala is also available in the stores. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Pineapple and Cream Cake

Browsing through my Facebook, I came upon a discussion about how cakes in India are moist and fluffy. From the thread I got the idea to make pineapple cake for my husband's birthday which was yesterday. I looked online for sponge cake and went with Cake Boss's recipe. I made the right choice. Oh the cake was fluffy and light! I made two-layered cake filled with crushed pineapple(homemade) and whipped cream and frosted with the same. It was a great hit.

Ingredients for sponge cake:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole milk(I used 2%)
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour

For the filling and whipped cream:
1 large can pineapple chunks, drained and syrup reserved
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. Beat eggs in large mixing bowl with paddle attachment for 4 minutes.
2. Add sugar, and continue beating for another 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and stir on low until just combined.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add to eggs mixture on low speed until just combined,
4. In a saucepan, heat milk and butter on low heat just until butter is melted. Add to batter, beat just until combined.
5. Pour into two greased and floured 8" round cake pans.
6.Bake at 325F for 45 minutes or until middle springs back, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire cooling racks and cool completely.
7. Make tiny holes with toothpick on the top of the cakes. Spoon half of the reserved syrup over the cakes. Let them sit overnight.

Method for making whipped cream filling and frosting:
1. Pour chilled cream into a large chilled glass bowl. Add 1 tsp vanilla, powdered sugar and 2 tsp reserved syrup to it.

 3. Beat everything together using chilled beaters(electric hand blender) until soft peaks are formed and thick. Use this to fill and frost cake. Left over whipped cream can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen.

Assembly of cake:
1. Place one cake on the cake stand or plate. Spread top with whipped cream.

2.Top with pineapple(chop the chunks ahead).

3. Layer the other cake on top.

4. Cover with remaining whipped cream. Decorate with pineapple. Refrigerate cake until the time of serving.

Note: Please do not skip step 1 of the sponge cake.
I made my own pineapple in syrup. It was less sweet and tasty.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Baingan ka Bartha(Smoked Eggplant)

Baingan ka Bartha is a popular dish from UP. It is roasted eggplant, mashed and cooked with onion and tomato, usually served with roti(Indian flat bread).

1 large Italian eggplant
1 large onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
3-4 green chili, chopped(change per taste)
1 tsp. red chili powder
1 tsp amchur powder(mango powder)
salt to taste
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
1 tsp. garam masala

1. Wash eggplant and pat it dry. Pierce eggplant with fork. Spray eggplant with oil. Place on a broil pan and broil in oven on high, turning eggplant so all sides are broiled. Remove from oven, allow it to cool and peel skin off eggplant. Scoop the flesh in a large bowl and mash well with potato masher. Leave aside.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a pan on medium high. Add green chili and saute for a minute. Add chopped onion and cook till translucent. Add tomato and cook for a few minutes. Add chili powder, amchur powder, and salt.
3. Stir in mashed eggplant. Cook on low flame for 30 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro. Serve with hot rotis.

Note: Eggplant can be roasted over flame too. This gives a smoked taste to the dish.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Quinoa Pilaf with Tempeh and Broccoli

After a long and dreary winter, spring has finally set foot. There is a lot that needs attention now, yard work, prepping my vegetable patch. I have to divide my time between these activities and cooking. I like to make simple dishes with minimal ingredients that is also wholesome. This month's edition of Vegetarian Times had the answer to my wishes. There were several dishes that could be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

After many weeks I cooked with quinoa, the new fad grain  in orange juice and vegetable stock and served it with tempeh and broccoli cooked in orange juice. Tempeh is fermented soy bean cake, originally from Indonesia. It could be made with a combination of grains like millet, brown rice and barely too. It could be found in all major grocery stores. It is a nice substitute for meat.I followed the recipe from Vegetarian Times. Cooking in coconut oil brought a nice flavor to the dish.

Quinoa Pilaf
1 tsp. coconut oil
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp. salt
Tempeh and Broccoli
2 Tbs. coconut oil
1 8-oz pkg. tempeh, cubed
2 tsp. minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile, minced
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
4 cups broccoli florets
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 Tbs. chopped toasted cashews

1. Heat coconut oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa, ginger, and garlic ; saute 1 minute.
2. Add orange juice, 1 1/2 cups water, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce
 heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes, or until quinoa is tender.
3. Meanwhile to make Tempeh, heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tempeh, and cook for 7 minutes, or until lightly golden, stirring occasionally.
 4. Add ginger, garlic, and chile, and saute 30 seconds.
5. Add orange juice, broth, and soy sauce to tempeh, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Add broccoli and stir-fry 5 minutes, or until broccoli is crisp-tender.

6. Transfer Quinoa Pilaf to serving bowl. Top with Tempeh and Broccoli. Garnish with green onions and cashews.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Upside down Orange Cake

Browsing through my emails, I came across a recipe for this beautiful cake. Having a case full of naval oranges, I decided to end my spring break with  this sweet caramelized  orange cake. What a treat it was. I baked it directly in my trusty cast iron skillet.

1 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2-3 naval oranges
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup corn meal
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350* F. Spread butter to bottom of a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Sprinkle brown sugar.
2. Grate 1 tsp peel of orange, and set aside. Using a mandolin slicer, slice orange to 1/8-inch thick slices. Remove peel using a sharp knife and remove seeds. Arrange sliced oranges in single layer over sugar in skillet.
3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder, and salt with a wire whisk In a small bowl, whisk milk, oil, egg, vanilla, and orange peel until blended. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and beat on low speed until blended. Increase speed to medium and beat 1 minute. Spoon batter over oranges and spread evenly.
4. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in skillet on wire rack 10 minutes. Run knife around side of cake to loosen from skillet. Place platter on top of skillet;carefully invert cake onto platter. Remove skillet. Let cool 30 minutes.

Asparagus Fettuccine

A nice way to serve spring asparagus through this beautiful dish. This recipe incorporates asparagus in two ways: blended into a smooth sauce that's tossed with fettuccine, and sauteed in bite size pieces that is stirred into the dish just before serving.

5 Tbs. olive oil, divided
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb. asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. fettuccine
1 Tbs. grated lemon zest

1. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes, until golden. Stir in asparagus, and season with salt. Saute 2 minutes, then cover skillet, cook for 5 minutes until asparagus is bright green and just tender. Transfer half of asparagus to plate and set aside.

2. Cook remaining asparagus 1 minute more, then transfer to food processor. Add lemon juice, pepper, and remaining oil. Blend until sauce is smooth.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot, and toss with asparagus sauce, reserved cooking water, and lemon zest. Stir in reserved asparagus, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lauki ki Kofta

Lauki or bottle gourd is a very popular vegetable in India. Kofta is fried dumpling made with a variety of vegetables and cooked in a mild creamy sauce. It is a popular Mughal dish. Today I made kofta from bottle gourd and grated paneer. I cooked the koftas in appe pan instead of frying.  It is a favorite dish in my family. My son loves to eat it served over rice.

Ingredients for Kofta:
1 Lauki, peeled and grated
1/2 Cup grated paneer
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 green chili,chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste

Ingredients for sauce:
1 onion, chopped
1 large tomato
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 pod garlic, mined
1/2 inch cinamon
1 clove
1 cardamom
1 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon kashmiri mirchi powder
1/2 teaspoon dried mango powder(amchur)
1 teaspoon Kitchen King Masala
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
2 Tbsp. grated fresh koya
2 Tbsp. cream


1. Squeeze water from grated lauki. Mix with it grated paneer, chopped chili, chili powder, turmeric powder, salt and flour. Make small balls out of the mixture.

2. Deep fry lauki balls in batches till golden brown. I cooked the koftas in appe pan. Keep aside.

3. Blanch onion and tomato. Cool, grind together to puree. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a saucepan. Add cinnamon, clove and cardamom. Add all spices and stir for a minute. Stir onion tomato puree. Add water as required. Cover and cook on low flame,stirring occasionally till raw smell leaves for 10 minutes.
4. Add grated koya and cream and cook for a few minutes. Gently add koftas to the sauce and cook for couple minutes. Add a teaspoon crushed kasuri methi.
5. Serve hot with Naan or rice.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Almond Brownies

I'm just recovering from a virus, and for some unknown reason I've got the urge to bake for a couple days now. Browsing through some old recipe books I found this recipe for almond brownies. This is a light tasting dessert. Even my son who doesn't like nuts enjoyed it. I'm mailing some to my daughter tomorrow!


2/3 cup shortening
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped almond paste
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs


1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.
2. Heat shortening and chocolate in 3-quart saucepan over low heat until melted. Remove from heat.
3. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread in prepared pan.
4. Bake until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly. Cut into bars.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Zucchini Bread

This has never happened before, I'm totally out of bread for breakfast. My son takes peanut butter sandwich to school for breakfast everyday. He's been taking dry cereal for the past couple days as I have been sick. Feeling better today, I had to make something for his breakfast tomorrow. This is my first time making Zucchini bread. I've not tried it yet. But, my son who just got home from soccer practice has given two thumbs up! So has my husband. They said it tasted like banana bread.
3 cups shredded zucchini
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cups vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon clove powder
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease bottom only of  1 large loaf pan with shortening
2. Mix zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pan.
3. Bake 1 hour 10 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack. Loosen sides of loaf from pans, remove from pan and place on wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Kerala style Potato Stew

One of my favorite Kerala dishes to have with Idiappam is Stew. This was served every Sunday for breakfast in the dining halls at the dorm when I was in college. It is a very simple dish with just potatoes and onion. This can also be made with other vegetables. It has a rich texture to it as it is cooked in coconut milk. The aroma of coconut oil and curry leaves would make one to go for extra serving.

1 Onion,sliced
2 Potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic,diced
1 inch ginger,diced
2-3 green chili, sliced
1/2 Cup thin coconut milk
1/4 Cup thick coconut milk
salt to taste
1Tbsp. coconut oil

curry leaves to garnish
1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a saucepan to medium heat. Add onion, chili, garlic and ginger. Cook till onion is translucent.
2. Add Potatoes, cook for couple minutes. Add salt and 1/4 Cup coconut milk mixed with enough water to make it thin to the saucepan. Cover and cook till potatoes are cooked well and soft.
3. Slightly mash potatoes to thicken stew. Add thick coconut milk, bring to a quick boil, stir in coconut oil. Remove from heat. Garnish with curry leaves. Serve hot with Appam or Idiappam.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


My love for cooking has moved me to try different types of food from cultures all around the world. One thing I have observed is there are a lot of similar dishes under different name. One such dish is Mexican or Spanish dish called Empanada. It is very similar to a dish called Somas in Tamil or Gujiya or Karanji in Hindi. It is a circular dough filled with meat or cheese or fruit, and fried or baked.
My son had to make 20 empanadas for a project in Spanish class. The recipe given was one with meat. He wanted to make them at my house with his friends. I told him that it was not happening and asked him to make a vegetarian version. He discussed with his friends and decided to make Spanish rice and stuff the empanadas with rice and cheese. Last week, I had 6 teenage boys cooking rice and making empanadas. It was a great team work and they made 48 great tasting empanadas, of course under my supervision.

1 package frozen empanada discs, thawed
1 Cup rice
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, diced
3-4 mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbsp. sliced black olives
1/4 Cup cooked black beans
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
salt to taste
1 Tb sp. tomato paste mixed in 2 cups water
1 Cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

1. Wash and soak rice in water for 5 minutes.

2. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and cook till soft. Add garlic, pepper, cook for 3-4 minutes. Add mushroom, cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander powder and salt to taste. Add black beans. Pour tomato paste mixed with water. Cover and cook till all liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Pre-heat oven to 425 F. Remove empanada disks from package. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, spray with oil. Place empanada disk on the cookie sheet. Place 1 Tbsp. rice in the center of the disk. Top with a generous amount of cheese. Seal the edges by bringing the top edge to the bottom. Use a fork, press along the edge to make indentation. Repeat the process with remaining disks. Prick empanadas in a couple places with a fork. Spray with oil. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Soda Bread

As the name suggests, Irish Soda Bread is specialty of Ireland. It is quick bread made with  baking soda instead of yeast to leaven. Hence the name Soda bread. Here in the US. we see it a lot around St. Patrick's Day in March. This is my first attempt in making this bread. It has turned out well. I love to eat a slice of the soda bread with a generous amount of Irish butter.

4 Cups all purpose flour, plus additional for currants
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbsp.(half a stick)cold butter,cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 Cups buttermilk, shaken
1 extra large egg, lightly whisked
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 Cup currants

1. Pre-heat oven to 375o F. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in the mixer fitted with kneading paddle.
3. Set the mixer on low, add butter and mix well.
4. Beat egg, buttermilk and orange zest together in a bowl.
5. Gently add the mixture to the mixer set on low and knead till everything comes together.
6. Mix 1 Tbsp. flour to the currants and add it to the dough.
7. Remove from the bowl. Gently knead on a floured board to form a ball. Flatten it to 6 inch diameter and 2 inch thick. Place it on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a cake stick inserted comes out clean and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on wire rack.
8. Serve warm with butter.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ribbed Gourd Poriyal

Ribbed Gourd, also known as peerkankai in Tamil is a wonderful gourd that can be cooked in many ways. We can make chutney with the skin and pulp. My mom makes kootu (kind of dal) with this vegetable. Today I cooked finely chopped ribbed gourd with chopped onion and lots of chopped green chili as a side dish served with rice. It would be a great accompaniment for roti too.

1 large onion, chopped
2-3 medium size ribbed gourd
3-4 green chili, chopped
salt to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons oil


1. Chop onion. Peel the gourd and chop into small pieces.
2. Heat oil in a pan to medium heat. Temper mustard seeds, urad dal, chopped green chili and curry leaves. Add onion and cook till translucent. Stir in turmeric powder. Add gourd and cook for few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt to taste. Cook till gourd is soft. Serve with rice or roti.