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.

Guthi Vankaya(Stuffed eggplant cury)

We'll find stuffed eggplant recipe in almost every part of the world. In India too, it differs from region to region. The difference is in the spice mixture used. I love to try out dishes from everywhere. Guthi Vankaya  Koora  is specific to Andhra Pradesh. It is nothing but small purple eggplants stuffed with spices and cooked in tamarind juice and water. It tastes awesome with pappu(dal) and rice.


6-8 small round eggplants, washed
1 medium onion, sliced
1 Tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
2-3 green chili, slit
1 Cup tamarind juice
few curry leaves
mustard seeds, urad dal, Chana dal and asafetida for tempering
1 Tbsp. oil

For masala
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3-4 dried red chili
1-inch cinnamon
1 clove
1 cardamom
1 teaspoon fresh grated coconut
4 Tbsp. roasted peanuts


1. Roast all the ingredients for masala except roasted peanuts in a little oil. Powder once cooled.
2. Wash eggplants, make four slits from the top to bottom, keeping them intact. Keep them soaked in salted water for a few minutes.
3. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan to medium. Add mustard seeds, urad dal, Chana dal and asafetida to temper.
4. Add slit green chili, curry leaves and onion. Sauté till translucent. Add ginger garlic paste and stir for a couple minutes.
 5. Meanwhile pat dry eggplants. Stuff them with masala.
6. Place eggplants in one layer in the pan with onion. Gently cook for 5 minutes.
7. Add tamarind water to eggplant. Add more water if required. Mix remaining masala with little water and stir into the pan. Lower the heat, cover and cook till eggplants are soft, turning every few minutes. It took less than 15 minutes to cook.
8. Serve hot with steamed rice.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Chur Chur Paratha

Chur Chur Paratha is famous dish from Delhi. It is crispy layered bread stuffed with crumbled paneer. The first time I even heard about this dish was when I saw it on a Face Book page. It looked interesting. Looks similar to South Indian layered parotta, only that is not stuffed. I must say my son who does not like any kind of roti or paratha ate it without any complains. He loved the fact that I had no side dishes to go with it.

Ingredients for Paratha:

2 1/2 Cups wheat flour
1/4 Cup rice flour
1 Tbsp. ghee + 4 Tbsp. ghee for parathas
salt to taste
Wheat flour for dusting

Ingredients for the Stuffing:

1 Cup crumbled paneer
1 Potato, boiled and mashed
1 Small onion, finely chopped
1-inch ginger, grated
1 small green chili, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon chat masala
salt to taste

1.Mix the dry ingredients for paratha in a large bowl. Add 1 Tbsp. ghee to the flour mixture and mix well with your hand. Make a well, add 1/2 cup water and knead, add more water and make a dough. Cover with wet paper towel and set aside for 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, take crumbled paneer in a bowl. Add mashed potato, chopped chili, grated ginger, salt, red chili powder, chat masala and chopped cilantro. Mix well. Stuffing is ready.
3. Remove paper towel from the dough, knead it well to form a smooth dough. Divide dough into 10 medium size balls. 

4.Take one ball, dust it in wheat flour, roll it to a large circle. Brush all over with ghee. Now fold from bottom like accordion. Take one end and make it into a spiral wheel, tucking the end to the bottom. Take this in your hand and press along the outer edge to make a basket. Fill it with one teaspoon of the filling. Seal by closing the edges to make a ball. Make sure to seal it without gap.  Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls.


 5.Dust the stuffed ball with flour and roll into a circular paratha.
 6. Heat a griddle to medium heat. Place paratha, cook for 2 minutes. Flip it and cook the other side for 2 minutes. Brush one side with ghee. Turn it over and brush the other side with ghee. Cook both sides till golden brown. Remove from pan, place it on a paper towel, crush slightly by pressing sides to center. This brings out the flaky layers. Repeat the process with the remaining stuffed balls.

7. Serve Chur Chur Parathas with raitha, and pickle.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup

Kabocha squash is an Asian variety of winter squash. It looks a lot like Indian pumpkin. It is also known as buttercup squash. It has a creamy texture when cooked and tastes like chestnuts. Even the skin is tasty when roasted. I made this one pot dish for dinner tonight. It was a hit. It had a sweet and tangy taste to it because of lemon juice I added before serving.

1 Medium size kabocha squash,seeded
1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
2 ribs of celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2- inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
4 cups vegetable stock
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Garnish with lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 400o F. Use a heavy chef's knife to cut the kabocha squash half into a few large pieces. Take care while cutting the squash. It can be a challenge. Scoop out the seeds(you can toast them like pumpkin seeds) and stringy insides. Place the squash pieces on a foil lined roasting pan. Rub with oil over all sides, and sprinkle with salt. Place the squash pieces skin side up on the pan. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until completely cooked, soft, and caramelized at the edges. Remove from oven and let sit.
 2. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large heavy bottomed pot. Add the onions and celery. Lowe the heat to medium and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, and coriander and cook 2 minutes more.

3. Once squash is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Place the roasted kabocha squash flesh into the pot with the onions and celery mixture. Add the stock, salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring the soup to a simmer, then lower the heat to low, partially cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

Add more salt to taste. Sprinkle with lime juice and chopped cilantro to serve.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spinach with Dal South Indian style(Keerai Masiyal)

After celebrating Holi over the weekend, it was time to have some plain food. Looking in refrigerator, I found a bag of spinach bought last week. My mom cooks spinach in different styles. I started missing my mom, who is visiting India now, and decided to make masiyal. It is a simple side dish that can be had with rice or roti.

1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and chopped
1/2 cup cooked toor dal
salt to taste
mustard seeds, urad dal, red chili, curry leaves and coconut oil for tempering

To grind:
1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 green chili

1. Cook chopped spinach in enough water for 10 minutes or less. Add a pinch of sugar to retain the green color.
2. Mash cooked dal and stir into the cooked spinach.
3. Grind coconut, cumin seeds, and green chili with a little water. Stir this into the spinach-dal mixture. Cook for 2 minutes, brining it to boil. Turn the heat off. Temper mustard seeds, urad dal, red chili, and curry leaves in 1 teaspoon coconut oil and garnish masiyal. Serve hot as a side dish with sambar rice, rasam rice or curd rice.

Keerai masiyal tastes super with vathal kuzhambu and curd rice.