Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chipotle Veggies with Black Beans Rice

This is now a new family favorite. Thanks to my colleague Alex who shared his mother's recipe for this delicious chipotle sauce. These chipotle chillies in adobo sauce are available quite readily in the US and even this specific brand is easy to get. The kids also really loved the different flavor and I've made it a few times since I got back. Last time I served this with some tasty guacamole 
A salad, as pictured, also works well as a side. It's also easy enough to be a weeknight dinner.



Chipotles in Adobo Sauce (canned) - 2 chillies and some sauce (the rest can be transferred to a glass container and refrigerated for use later)
Mushrooms - 16 oz, wiped with a moist towelette and quarter (can substitute with boiled potatoes)
Paneer - 200g, cut into cubes
Onion - 1 medium one,  peeled & chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, peeled
Tomatoes - 1 medium, chopped
Butter - 3 tsp
Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt - half cup

Tequila - 1 shot (as per the original recipe but I skipped) :)
Salt - to taste

1) In a pan melt 2 tsp of  butter and saute onions, garlic and the chopped chipotle chillies, saute for a few minutes. then add tomatoes and a bit of salt. Allow this mixture to cool a bit.

2) Grind together  the onion-tomato-chili mixture with some sour cream or greek yogurt to a smooth sauce.

3)  In a pan, melt 1 tsp of butter and add mushrooms (or boiled potato cubes) in a single layer. Allow to cook down - no need to stir. sprinkle some salt and saute for a few more minutes before adding the chipotle sauce with some water to thin it down.

4) Allow this to come to a boil and simmer together for about 10 minutes or so until it thickens. Add in the cubed paneer and allow to cook for 5 more minutes.


Basmati Rice - 2 cups, rinsed
Black beans - 1 can, drained and rinsed
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Carrots - 1 small, chopped
Corn - half cup, frozen
Tomato - half, seeded and chopped
Garlic cloves - 3 to 4, chopped
Jalapeno peppers - 1, seeded and chopped (optional) 
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - half tsp  (reduce if using jalapeno)

Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp (optional)
Vegetable Broth - 2 cups OR  1 heaped tsp of Vegetarian Bouillon paste
Water - 2 to 4 cups (adjust based on whether broth is being used - total must be 4 cups) 
Coriander/Cilantro leaves - 3 tbsp, chopped
Lemon juice - to taste
Salt - to taste
Olive oil - 2 tsp 

1) Heat oil in a pan, and add cumin seeds, toss in chopped garlic, jalapeno (if using)  and onions and saute for a few minutes.

2) Next add chopped carrots, corn, tomatoes and continue to saute with some salt & turmeric powder. Add chilli powder at this point and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

3) Next add the basmati rice and keep tossing for another 5 minutes on medium flame until well toasted.

5) Transfer to a rice cooker, and add vegetable broth and water combination (or veg. bouillon paste + water) - the total must be 4 cups. Adjust salt as needed and cook till done.

6) When rice is cooked, stir in the drained and rinsed black beans, coriander leaves and lemon juice to taste. Cover and let the flavors come together for about 15-20 minutes before serving.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Lemonade Syrup / Concentrate

Summer is here and the kids are often clamoring for something cold.. Though I now make quite a few fresh fruit/veggie juices (thank you Blendtec), lemonade is always a favorite at home and with the abundance of lemons one sees in the market at this time, it's hard to resist. I like to make a lemonade concentrate so it's easy to whip up lemonade in a jiffy...

My favorite method to get the most juice is to whack each lemon with a hammer on all sides (really, I kid you not). What this does is, it breaks down the cell walls and the lemon turns softer and it makes it super easy to get maximum juice out of it. For my carpal tunnel afflicted hands, this is an important step... Whatever juicing method works for you is fine but this is mine...


Fresh Lemon juice - 1.5 cups (about 10 lemons or so, depends on size)
Sugar - 1.5 cups
Water - 1.25 cups
Ginger - 1 inch, grated (optional)
Zest from 1 lemon
1) Combine sugar, ginger & water in a bowl, bring to a boil, stirring until all the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest and remove from the stove. Allow to cool.

2) Meanwhile juice the lemons and measure so you have 1.5 cups.

3) Strain the cooled ginger flavored sugar syrup and mix in the lemon juice. 

This can be refrigerated for several weeks.

To make lemonade - add about 1/3 cup of the prepared lemonade concentrate, add ice cubes as necessary and top the glass with cold water. 

Variations: Add orange juice (pictured) with water and lemonade syrup for an orangey lemonade. Or mix with Pomegranate juice or brewed and cooled tea. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Baby Potato Roast

I'm sure I've said this before but baby potatoes are the cutest :) Potato fry or roast is an eternal favorite but when made with baby potatoes it is extra special. Peeling them can be a bit laborious but it's worth it to bite into tender, spiced potatoes with a crisp crunchy coating... The kids love this too and using sambar powder instead of chilli powder lends flavor without it being too spicy for them.

My MIL gave me this tip to add some bread crumbs and it lends a lovely crunch to this dish.


Baby Potatoes - about 35
Sambar powder - 1 to 1.5 tsp (I use Shakthi brand - you could use chilli powder for a spicier version)
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Bread crumbs - about 2 tbsp (optional)
Oil - 1 tbsp

1) Pressure cook baby potatoes with some salt - I followed the same method I use for sepakizhangu, allow to cool a bit and peel.

2) Heat oil in a wide pan on medium  preferably non-stick/ceramic, add turmeric, salt and sambar powder to the oil, stir for a few seconds (ensuring they don't burn) before adding the potatoes.

3)Toss on medium flame until well coated with spices and cover and keep for about 10 minutes or so.. stirring every once in a while. This will allow the salt and spices to penetrate the potatoes.

4) Remove cover and allow to toss until it crisps up on the outside.  Add bread crumbs if using.. it lends a crunchy exterior to the potatoes.

NOTE: The key is to not increase the flame or rush the process but continue roasting on a medium flame until done.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Jicama Cucumber Mango Salad

I mentioned jicama (pronounced hicama) in my previous post  as one of our snack items when in Mexico... sprinkled generously with tajin which is a Mexican spice powder and with a squeeze of lime a lot of things taste great! I've always seen jicama in the global food store near our place so bought some to make a salad. The friend who introduced me to jicama told me that people who want to lose weight eat it because it is high in water and fiber. Infact, 1 cup of jicama has about 50 calories,  approx 12 grams of carbs, 7 grams of which is fiber.  It doesn't have a very strong taste.. but it's more neutral, crunchy and juicy so blends well. Looking it up in wiki reveals that it's the veggie used in popiah and rojak in Singapore as well.. interesting!

Coming back to my salad recipe...



Jicama - 1small one OR half of a big one, peeled &  cut into thin matchsticks
(English) Cucumber - 1, washed and cut into thin matchsticks
Mango - not too ripe or raw (refer to this post on how to pick), peeled and cut into strips
Coriander/Cilantro Leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped
Tajin (mexican seasoning) - chilli lemon powder - to taste
Honey - 1 - 2 tsp
Olive oil - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste


1) In a large enough bowl, toss together thin strips of  jicama, cucumber and mango with the coriander leaves.

2) In a small bowl, combine the honey, olive oil and the tajin seasoning (you can use some lemon juice with a combination of chilli powder & chaat masala as a substitute)

3) Mix this in with the veggies. Taste and add salt as needed. Allow to marinate (I put it in the refrigerator) for an hour or so before serving.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Mexico Trip

I visited Mexico for the first time as part of a business trip and wanted to document the fun week & mainly the food I had at Guadalajara (pronounced Guada-la-hara) - which is the city I visited. I was treated to different kinds of Mexican food thanks to my colleagues who played such gracious hosts.  What struck me most was how much it resembled India...  I'm also thankful I got to experience the real Mexico and not an Americanized tourist version, which I understand from friends is what most holiday spots there are.

Soon after I landed & checked in at the hotel,  my friends picked me up and we visited Tlaquepaque which is a nearby city that has many restaurants, small street shops that sell a range of items such as souvenirs, wooden toys for kids, handmade bead bracelets,chains,  painted pottery, glass art etc. We walked around to look at the handloom items & did some shopping as well  before going to the Casa Fuerte restaurant... It was a great open atmosphere with a live cuban band playing and very relaxing and cool. My friends suggested I order  the tamarind margarita and it didn't disappoint.  I was quite nervous about what vegetarian options I would have but with a "no carne" check on every dish that the waiter suggested, I realized i had quite a few options... I chose the nopalese (cactus) salad served with an avocado by the side and a fried slightly sweet plantain stuffed with cheese - two appetizers that tasted great. This is my first time tasting cactus and I quite liked it. For dessert we shared a guava tart drizzled with caramel and served with some kiwi and strawberry sauces on the side.

Nopalese Salad, Plantain Tortillas & Tamarind Margarita at Casa Fuerte

Guava and Caramel Tart

Breakfast was usually the buffet at the hotel and it we had quite an elaborate selection each day - even for a vegetarian like me... I usually had the egg white veggie omelette with a spicy salsa that absolutely reminded me of the freshly ground (on the ammi) red chilli chutney from my grandmother's kitchen. The highlight was the variety of fruits we had - perfectly ripe, red guavas, mangoes, papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges and grapefruit. I haven't had such tasty guavas in a long time. They even had a guava dish where it was sliced, scooped out a bit and replaced with a mild & sweet creamy cheese & coconut filling and topped with some caramelized coconut flakes and walnuts. I really enjoyed it.

For lunch we visited different places each day.. I had a tasty panela (cheese) salad the first day at Roby's and the dressing was the highlight - it was a cilantro based one that was absolutely refreshing and light. I also tried chilaquiles divorcidad - which is basically a dish of fried tortilla strips topped with 2 kinds of salsas the green one and the red one and drizzled with some cream and with some crumbled queso fresco on top and washed it down with a hot cafe con leche.  Some days we ate in the office cafeteria and I had a medley of veggies with rice that tasted exactly like lemon rice (sans the seasonings and with some corn). They use chayote (chow chow) in their stir fries and fajitas and i quite liked the crunchy sweetness it lends.  I also tasted jamaica (hibiscus) juice and that is something i plan to make so have bought dried hibiscus leaves.

Chilaquiles Divorcidad & Cafe con leche

For snack we usually got cucumbers or jicama (which is a crunchy tuber) or watermelon slices sprinkled generously with Tajin (a spicy and tangy chili powder) and squeeze of some small green lemons. I have since then bought a jicama and made a salad, combining it with cucumbers and mango - very tasty. Will post the recipe sometime soon.  Another interesting dish i tasted was a lemony dessert made with cream and marie biscuits called "Carlotta" - something I want to recreate at home as well.

Cucumbers with limon and Tajin spice mix

I also had some Chile Rellenos - chilies stuffes with cheese and served with rice and beans at the Los Otates restaurant. We went to the Las Tequillas restaurant for dinner one day,  opted for the patio seating and enjoyed the cool weather.. it overlooked a ground where a soccer match was being played while we munched popcorn dipped in the spicy salsa with some mango margaritas... For dinner the suggestion was for me to try quesadillas (and these are not toasted but deep fried like puris) with different fillings like oaxaca cheese, zucchini blossoms, corn truffles (huitlacoche). Each one was unique and with some of the spicy salsa it tasted good. I also wanted to try the famous mole sauce so I ordered a dish of sweet plantains that were topped with a dark mole sauce with hints of chocolate in it... it was a delicious dinner and the ambience was great too.

Fried Quesadillas with Tortillas and Chocolate Mole Sauce

We also visited the downtown area of Guadalajara one evening , walked around soaking in the sights...  the Cathedral there is beautiful and grand, there is also a statue of the father of Mexico - Miguel Hidalgo and the orphanage that is now converted into a museum... The courtyard also had some sculptures by Sergio Bustamente - very different... had chairs and sofas with legs and arms and some even had eyes...  and some that were positively alien looking. We then we to La Cantina which is almost 100 yrs old and tucked away with a small unassuming entrance where we were entertained with live music and it was a great environment where everyone was friendly and singing together. We then went to a small restaurant which seems very popular called La Chata where I tasted some good Enchiladas with salsa verde and perfectly cooked and seasoned fried potatoes.

The Guadalajara Cathedral

Miguel Hidalgo - the Father of Mexico

Orphanage turned Museum

Me with one of Sergio Bustamente's creations

After several days of Mexican food we went a Fusion place and didn't think I would be ordering burgers in Mexico but i was quite glad I did that in the Il Latina restaurant because they were fabulous... I liked the ambience of this restaurant - it was quite cool and I liked how for lamps they used  inverted buckets that were painted and decorated and there was a framed  wall filled with paper boats ..  The burger had portobello mushroom, grilled zucchini and red peppers layered with some caramelized onion - delicious. For appetizers we shared a wonton dish, filled with sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese served in a creamy green sauce & some tomato bruschetta that my friends and I enjoyed. The desserts looked very tempting but I was too full to even share one.

Stuffed wontons with a green cream suace and roasted red peppers

Grilled Vegetables Burgers

Finally on Friday, we drove to Lake Chapala after work and had a late lunch of veggie fajitas with some super guacamole and fresh made corn tortillas. Walked around the lake which was beautiful.. it was quite expansive & surrounded by mountains. It was nice to see houses with fences lined with bougainvillas and frangipani trees and it reminded me of India quite a bit.

Lake Chapala

Veggie Fajitas, Guacamole and Corn Tortillas served with rice and frijoles (beans)

I had a great time, picked up some Spanish along the way and hope to one day visit with my family. My daughter suggested I pack her in my suitcase the next time I go there.. :)  I also picked up some mexican candy for the kids -  there are a lot of tamarind based ones that are sour, spicy and sweet. Also some coconut based ones - one in particular that reminded me of kamarkattu (found in TamilNadu made with coconut and caramelized sugar). I also tasted something that reminded me of the Agra Pethas but this was made with calabaza squash cooked in sugar syrup.  Interesting how these 2 countries so far apart have quite a few similarities....

Thanks to my friends who made sure I had a great time and treated me like a "princesa".
Muchas Gracias A & G :) 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Creamy Mashed Potatoes & Rajma Salad

I had no idea that the kids would love mashed potatoes.... The few times I have tasted mashed potatoes myself (in the past), I wasn't really impressed -  it tasted quite bland so I had no desire to make it at home myself.

However, for a school potluck, I had signed up to bring in mashed potatoes and my search took me to Alton Brown's recipe... I liked the idea of a garlicky, creamy mashed potato and like all of his recipes,  it didn't disappoint- in fact it was quite a hit. I have made it many times now and the kids can't seem to get enough of it - even my daughter who is not a big potato fan relishes it like it's some creamy chocolate mousse or some such delicious dessert... with her eyes closed and with a long "mmmmm...." sound for every spoonful. In contrast, my son is the kind who is keen on gobbling down food as fast as he can and if he likes something the gobbling rate just increases... :)  My husband who only likes spicy food also enjoys this and me, well I wish I didn't like it as much as I do... considering how it's not exactly diet friendly :)

Here,  I've served the mashed potatoes with a crunchy kidney bean salad and it made for a satisfying and easy dinner that the family enjoyed.



Potatoes (preferably Russet) - 3 to 4 big ones
Garlic - 3 to 4 cloves, sliced
Milk - 3/4 cup
Heavy Cream - 1/4 cup (replace with milk for a lighter version)
Cream cheese (low fat) - 1 oz, softened (this is my addition and is esp. useful if you are not adding heavy cream)
Dried Rosemary - 1/4 tsp (optional), I add this because i like the combination.
Parmesan cheese - 1/4 cup
Salt - to taste (about half tsp to a tsp)

1) Rinse, peel and dice potatoes into big cubes. Add to a pan and cover with water & add salt. Let this come to a boil and allow to cook until potatoes are very tender (test with a fork) - must be at a fall apart stage.

2) Meanwhile, in a small pan on medium low, combine sliced garlic, dried rosemary, cream and milk and allow to simmer for about 4-5 minutes. Cover and let rest until potatoes are done.

3) Once potatoes are at a fall apart stage, drain them completely and mash them with a potato masher till nice and smooth. If the potatoes are well cooked, this should be a breeze. Now add in the cream cheese and the garlicky milk-cream mixture and mash together. It will seem soupy and watery but fret not, it will thicken to the right consistency as it cools down a bit.

4) Stir in parmesan cheese and serve while still hot or warm....

For the Salad, toss together canned and rinsed kidney beans (cooked Rajma) with chopped peppers, cucumbers, carrots, de-seeded tomatoes, chopped kale or spinach. For the dressing, combine a tbsp of olive oil with some lemon juice, salt and pepper and toss with the veggies. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ribbon Pakoda

I prefer savoury snacks to sweet ones and karaboondhi, seedai, thattai and these ribbon pakodas all fall into my favorite category. Though my mom uses a different recipe for ribbon pakoda, this one is from one of my aunts (J periamma). When I tasted her ribbon pakodas they were just perfect in the flavours they had and had a melt in the mouth texture (which sounds counter intuitive for a crunchy snack but I'm unable to find a more suitable description).  I found that her secret was ground pottukadalai (dalia or roasted channa - that we use when making coconut chutney). It also had a lovely garlic flavoring... so here's her recipe - the only change is that I've added extra chilli powder and some sesame seeds...


Rice flour (Arisi Maavu)  - 2 cups
Besan (Kadalai Maavu)- 3/4 cup
Pottukadalai maavu - 3/4 cup (grind pottukadalai to a fine flour)
Black sesame seeds - half tsp (optional)
Salt - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Butter melted - 2 tbsp
Oil, to deep fry

To Grind:
Asafoetida /Hing/ Perungaayam- small piece
G. chillies - 10
Garlic - 7 cloves of garlic
Water - about half cup

1) Grind Asafoetida, Green chillies, garlic with water to until well blended. Strain this and set aside the flavored, spicy water.

2) Sift rice flour, besan and pottukadalai with salt to ensure there are no lumps. Take this mixture in a bowl with chilli powder and add melted hot butter and mix well. 

3) Next add the flavored water from step 1 above gradually while mixing to form a stiff and smooth dough. Add water as required if flavored water is not enough.

4) Use the dough press with the one for ribbon pakoda (it has 2 slits). Grease the press and add the dough. 

5) Heat oil on medium (or slightly more) until a small bit of dough when added sizzles immediately and floats on top. Do not heat the oil too much. 

6) Press the dough to form strips directly in the hot oil ( a swirling motion of the hand when pressing enables the dough doesn't pile up and is spread out as a single layer)

7) Allow to cook on one side before flipping over and cooking till done (the bubbles surrounding the dough will subside quite a bit when ready). Drain to a paper towel and repeat this process until all the dough is used up.  

Store in an airtight container (once completely cooled) and enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shortcut Undhiyu

I love undhiyu and first followed Nupur's recipe - and blogged about it a while ago. It truly is a labor of love and the flavors of the different vegetables and the methi dumplings are phenomenal. However, wanting a quick fix solution that will allow us to indulge in this curry on a weekday, I devised this shortcut method of using a combination of frozen foods and some fresh vegetables and this doesn't disappoint. This is in no way a traditional way of making this curry but it satisfies my undhiu cravings fabulously and enables us to have it more frequently.You can change the veggies around to your preference.

I use the Bhagwati brand Methi Gota (frozen) - see picture below for the Undhiyu recipe and also to make Kadhi Pakodi effortlessly and it has a great flavor and all it needs is some heating up in the toaster oven.


Methi Gota - half pack, frozen
Potatoes - 2, small to medium
Surti Papdi Lilva -  1 pack frozen
Carrots - 2 (or use 1 small sweet potato)
Suran (yam) or Raw banana - half cup (optional)- cubed
Oil - 1 tbsp
Sugar - 1/4 tsp  ( to maintain green colour of curry)
Salt - to taste
Lemon juice - about half tbsp

To grind to a coarse green  paste:
Shredded Coconut - half cup, loosely packed
Green Chillies - 5 to 6
Garlic cloves - 3 to 4
Ginger - 1.5 inch piece
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves - half bunch, (stalks and leaves, ends trimmed)

1) Pressure cook (in separate pans) the surti papdi lilva, yam & sweet potato (if using) and potatoes. Peel potatoes, cut into big cubes and set aside
2) Cut carrots into small rounds. microwave or parboil with a bit of water for about 5 minute.
3) Cook the frozen methi gota in a toaster oven for about 10 minutes (or follow package directions). Cut each into half.
4) Heat oil in a wide pan, add the veggies and continue to saute for a few mins.  Add about half cup water to this mixture with some salt, sugar and the ground green paste.  Cover and allow to cook on medium-low flame.

5) Once the water has evaporated, stir in the methi gota and continue cooking for about 10-15 minutes more with occasional stirring.

6) Finally switch off the stove and stir in the lemon juice.  Delicious with rotis.  

Monday, March 9, 2015

Stuffed Mini Peppers

I have been seeing these colorful mini peppers quite frequently these days and couldn't resist buying them. Many times, I just use them as substitute for bell peppers but there was a recipe on the back of the bag for a stuffed pepper that sounded pretty tempting... I modified it from a purely cheese filling to include some chopped spinach. The white filling with specks of green contrasts really well with the colorful peppers (this time though since I blended everything it's a green filling, but tasty nevertheless).

Assorted Mini Peppers - about 15 to 16
Onion - half of a small one, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, minced (or use garlic powder)
Spinach - 1.5 cups, chopped
Cream cheese - 3 to 4 oz, softened
Cheddar Cheese - 2 tbsp
Mixed Italian herbs (dried) - half tsp
Dried Red Chilli Flakes - half tsp
Salt and Black Pepper - to taste
Bread Crumbs - 2 to 3 tbsp (optional)
Olive oil - 1 tsp and to drizzle

1) Wash and dry the peppers. Slice them in half (you can keep the stalks or remove them)

2) In a small saucepan, heat olive oil and add in chopped garlic, onion and red chilli flakes. When they soften a bit add the spinach and some salt (go easy on the salt). Saute until spinach has wilted and cooked down a bit.

3) Stir this into the softened cream cheese along with cheddar cheese and italian herbs - season with black pepper to taste
NOTE: (this time since I forgot to leave the cream cheese out I put that along with the spinach mixture and blended.. hence the green colored filling - I personally prefer leaving little green specks in a white filling, which didn't happen this time).

4) Lay them on a cookie sheet sprayed with oil and top each pepper with a bit of bread crumbs and drizzle lightly with olive oil (a few drops on each peppers is more than enough).

5) Bake in a 350 degree F (pre-heated oven) for 15-20 minutes....  Allow to cool a bit and enjoy warm. .

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fruit & Chia Yogurt

Here's another snack or mini meal or even dessert that we love at home..  It packs a good protein punch from the greek yogurt and also has the goodness of Chia seeds & fiber from the fruit added. The topping is optional but it makes for a tasty, crunchy addition and takes the snack to the next level.

Another versatile recipe that you can change and play around with by using different flavored greek yogurt & various fruits such as blueberries, apples etc.


Greek Yogurt (I use the Fage brand) - 6 oz flavored or unflavored
Fruit of choice - Apples, Blueberries, Strawberries etc
Chia seeds - 1 tbsp, soaked in 3 tbsp of water for 10 minutes
Honey or Agave nectar - to sweeten (if desired)

Almonds - 3, chopped
Chocolate chips - 6 or so, chopped
Craisins (Dried cranberries) - 5, chopped

1) If using unflavored yogurt, sweeten with a drizzle of honey or Agave nectar.
2) Stir together the soaked chia seeds, yogurt, fruit and add in the toppings (which lends a crunchy texture).  Enjoy! 

TIP: As a substitute for Greek Yogurt, take plain yogurt and scoop into a strainer lined with a muslin cloth, set over a bowl and into the refrigerator for a few hours. You will be left with a thick creamy yogurt in the strainer that can be used in lieu of store-bought greek yogurt.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Potato Soup & Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Our dinner yesterday was a very satisfying meal and it pleased me no end that the kids couldn't get enough of the soup. Even though it was a tad spicy by their standards they still slurped it up once i topped their bowls with a bit of parmesan cheese and kept asking for more.

I just played off of my Broccoli Soup recipe with some tweaks and it worked  - the potatoes add a smoothness and creaminess that is unbeatabale :) 


Medium Russet Potatoes - 3, washed, peeled and diced into small cubes
Medium Yellow Onions - half, peeled and chopped 
Carrot - 1 medium, chopped into small cubes
Celery Stalks - 2, chopped into small cubes
Broccoli florets - half cup, chopped (I used frozen ones that have been defrosted)
Flour - 1 tbsp
Milk - half cup
Vegetable Broth - 4 cups (I used  4 cups water + 1 tsp better than bouillon)
Salt - 1/4 tsp, or to taste
Red Chilli Flakes - half tsp, or to taste 
Dried Rosemary - 1/4 tsp (optional) 
Cracked black pepper - to taste
Extra Virgin Olive - 1 tbsp

1) Heat oil in a deep pot and toss in onions, carrot, celery & broccoli stalks and saute for a few minutes. 
2) Add in the diced potatoes and continue to stir - add some salt, red chilli flakes and rosemary at this point. 
3) Pour in the broth and allow this to cook on medium for about 10-15 minutes... 
4) Mix the flour with the milk until there are no lumps and add to the soup pot and allow to cook for another 10 minutes or so. 
5) You could puree the whole thing using an immersion blender... but i scoooped out slightly more than half of the soup and blended it (I used a Blendtec - make sure you are careful when blending hot liquids, some blenders need slightly cooled ingredients, else they can splash out) . 
6) Return the blended ingredients back to the soup pot, adjust seasonings (salt and pepper) and stir for a few more minutes.

Tasty, creamy potato soup is ready to serve. For kids, you may want to top with some cheese (parmesan or cheddar would go great).

As for the salad, it's as simple as tossing together some cooked quinoa, black beans and some veggies with a lemon-olive oil dressing.  The sweet mini peppers add a wonder burst of colors... i think some fruit could also be added... avocado or oranges would go great.


Quinoa - 3/4 cup, washed
Water - 1.5 cups
Black beans - 1 can, drained and rinsed completely
Cucumber - half, chopped
Tomatoes - 2/3 cup, chopped (I used grape tomatoes), for normal tomatoes de-seed them.
Sweet Mini Peppers (or any bell peppers of choice) - 4, chopped
Salt - to taste
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Lemon juice from half of a big lemon
Cracked black pepper - to taste

1) In a small pot add washed quinoa with double the quantity of water, add some salt and allow it to come to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. 
2) Toss the hot quinoa with the black beans (helps cool it down)
3) Meanwhile combine the chopped veggies (and fruit, if using) in a large bowl. 
4) Whisk together Olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make dressing. 
5) To the veggies, add in the black beans and quinoa, pour dressing and toss together. Salad is ready to serve. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Thavana Podi (Coconut-Tamarind Powder)

I hadn't heard of Thavana Podi until recently, when my MIL mentioned it... Intrigued, I asked her to describe it and she said that it uses a lot of the same ingredients as Theeyal and was a drier version with similar flavors and is usually paired with curd rice.  When my husband's aunt (G athai) visited us a few weeks later, I asked her to make it so I could observe and also note down the recipe... Apparently this is quite popular in Nagercoil and something that her mother in law would lovingly make for her often since G athai loved this podi.  She said she likes to make it tangy....

She set about roasting the coconut and gathering all the things needed for the podi while I took note of the measurements.... This tastes great with curd rice.. it has a tanginess and spiciness with the coconut flavor shining through. Instead of fresh coconut, we used dessicated coconut since that makes the process go by faster. With thanks to G athai, here's the recipe for Thavana podi...

THAVANA PODI (Coconut Tamarind Powder)

Dessicated Coconut - half cup heaped
Garlic - 8 cloves
Dried Red Chillies - 5-7 (depending on spice level, increase for a spicier version)
Black whole urad dhal - 1 tbsp (you can also use white, split)
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Tamarind - one 3 inch piece (flat), when rolled up it was the size of a small gooseberry
Coconut oil - half tsp

1) Heat coconut oil on medium in a pan and first roast coriander seeds, urad dhal and red chillies for about 4-5 minutes. 
2) Then add in half of the garlic cloves (4), curry leaves and the dried coconut and roast till coconut is dark brown (since we are using dried coconut it's easier to achieve this step quickly).  
3) Add the tamarind piece and stir for a minute more before switching off the stove. Finally add the remaining garlic cloves. 
4)Allow the mixture to cool completely and grind to a powder. Store in a clean, dry jar. 

p.s. Athai explained that the reason for adding some of the garlic cloves without frying is to lend a bit of moisture to the podi that helps the texture of the end product.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cranberry Orange Bread

This is a quick bread which I made a few months ago for my husband's office Thanksgiving Potluck - it's very festive and has all the perfect flavors for something to bake during the holidays. I heard from him that his colleagues loved it and were asking for the recipe. I then baked a loaf for us to try at home and we were very pleased with the rich taste coupled with the brightness from the cranberries and orange. Easy to put together and tasty - so a winner of a recipe really.

What I love most about this recipe from Anne Burell is that it can be made in no time using a food processor and orange and cranberries go so well together...


All purpose flour - 2 cups
White Sugar - 3/4 cup (in one variation I reduced to 1/2 cup)
Brown Sugar - 1/2 cup
Butter - 1 stick, cold (cut into small pieces 1 stick = half cup)
Orange zest - from 1 large orange
Orange juice - 3/4 cup
Orange - chopped segments from 1 orange (I used canned mandarin oranges)
Egg - 1
Craisins (Dried Cranberries) - 1 cup
Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
2) In a food processor, combine flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and butter. Pulse until this resembles crumbs. 
3) Add orange juice, orange zest and egg, pulse until just combined.
4) Remove to a bowl, stir in dried cranberries and chopped orange. 
5) Transfer to prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour 15 mins or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Do remember to rotate the pan once mid-way (for even cooking). 
6) Allow to cool for 20 minutes in pan, before removing... Slice when completely cool. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fruit Tart (Easy and Eggless)

This is such an easy dessert to make and looks so elegant and makes you seem like such an accomplished baker, when in fact this is something that can be put together with just a little effort.  This dessert has been made several times in the past few months and has always been well received... and my kids have declared this to be their favorite. This is also a very versatile recipe and you can change it around to use different fruits that you prefer or are available at any point in time.

Onto the recipe now... this is based on Paula Deen's recipe which I have modified a bit...



For the Crust:
All Purpose Flour - 1 cup
Butter, unsalted - 6 tbsp (softened and cut into pieces)
Confectioner's (Powdered) Sugar - 1/3 cup

1) Preheat oven to 350F
2)  In a food processor, or using your hand, combine butter, sugar and flour together until it comes together like a ball.
3) Press this evenly into a 12 inch tart pan... I used 11 inch spring form pan and use a fork to form ridges along the edges and also used the tines of the fork to press holes on the base so it doesn't puff up too much. 
4) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until light golden and set aside to cool.Remove from pan.

For the Glaze:
Lemon/ Orange Juice - quarter cup (I used storebought)
Lemon Juice (fresh) - 1 tbsp
Cornflour - half tbsp
Sugar - 1 tbsp

1) While the crust is baking, in a small pan, heat together the juice, lemon juice, cornflour and sugar on medium heat and cook with frequent stirring until slightly thick and clear.  Allow this to cool down a bit.

For the Filling:
Cream cheese / Mascarpone cheese - 1/2 pack (4 oz), softened, if using cream cheese, which is what I used.
Sugar - half cup
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

(You could also replace a part of the cream cheese with whipping cream, if you wish to give it a lighter texture and taste, but the slight tartness of the cream cheese helps strikes a good balance with the fruits and helps it keep the tart not too sweet).

1) Beat together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla till smooth.
2) Spread  this on the cooled crust.

For the Fruit Topping:
Anything that suits you... I once used strawberries, pineapples, kiwi slices and blueberries and another time used cherries, blueberries, strawberries and pineapple.
Arrange the fruit slices on the cream cheese filling in a patter or even just randomly.

Thanks to Amar anna for his shot of the tart (or pie as he remembered it)
Brush the glaze on the fruits and refrigerate for at least 2- 3 hours before serving.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Date Choc-Nut bites

Since the New Year just went by, I'm sure quite a few of us have some resolutions and I think being healthy should definitely be top priority...

Here's a quick, healthy snack that can be whipped up in a few minutes and is sure to please adults and kids alike....


Dates - 12 (pitted)
Nuts - half cup (I used a mix of almonds and walnuts)
Bittersweet chocolate chips - 2 to 3 tbsp
Chocolate Protein Powder - 1/4 cup
Chia seeds - 3 tbsp (you can use flax seeds as a substitute)

1) Pulse together the dates and nuts (I used my Blendtec processor)
2) When coarse, add in the chocolate chips, chia seeds and protein powder, pulse till well combined.
3) It can stay in an airtight, dry container for a week or so with no issues at room temperature. Refrigerate for a longer shelf life and bring to room temperature before eating.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dolphin Cake

Our daughter celebrated her birthday on October 10th and this year she wanted a dolphin cake... since I had tried the buttercream transfer method earlier, I was initially inclined to use the same method and got a dolphin picture to trace... but along the way I changed my mind and decided to give fondant a try to make little dolphin figurines and then extended it to other sea creatures as well.... It's pretty much like edible play dough  and a lot of fun to work with.  End result was that she was very happy with the cake and that made me a satisfied mom.

For the actual cake she wanted a chocolate cake with a raspberry frosting... so I started with my trusted recipe for chocolate cake. For the filling, I combined lightly sweetened whipping cream (whipped to stiff peaks) and folded in thawed frozen raspberries... the end result was a mildly sweet, slightly tangy pink filling and it worked out great with the rich chocolate cake so she chose a great combination and we all enjoyed it.

Here's a picture of the cake the decorations

Dolphin Cake
Fondant Decorations ready to go on cake

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Waffles & Green Lantern Cake

It's been ages since I wrote anything here... I've been taking pictures and noting down recipes to blog about but just haven't had the motivation to resume blogging - can't explain why.... 

We celebrated our son's birthday on August 5th and since he's into super heroes quite a bit, he wanted a Green Lantern Cake... (Green being his favorite color, this is the super hero he chose for his cake). I thought quite a bit about how to execute this and had a few ideas... one was to have cupcakes with the Green Lantern logo since that was fairly simple to draw... but the day before his birthday i decided to check out the 'Frozen Buttercream Transfer" method and looked at a few youtube videos before deciding on that approach... So i printed out a picture, whipped up some buttercream and gave it my best shot at tracing it. While there's a long way to perfection, this did the trick and my son was very happy with the result.  Here's a picture... 

Today,  I  wanted to post this super simple recipe for a flourless chocolate waffle... my husband said he enjoyed this at a restaurant near his office f so I wanted to give it a go at home and I must say that it was a hit...  It can be served plain or with some ice cream but it's quite decadent by itself. I replaced part of the eggs with flax seeds in an effort to make it healthier but perhaps replacing all of it may work too if you want an eggless version (though I haven't experimented with that myself)...


Unsalted Butter - 6 tbsp (if using salted, skip the added salt) 
Eggs - 2 (if not using flax seeds, use 4 eggs instead) 
Flax seeds - 2 tbsp, powdered
Water - 6 tbsp

Semisweet chocolate chips - 1 cup
Salt - a pinch
Vanilla - half tsp, optional

1) In a glass bowl combine butter and chocolate chips and microwave for a minute or two, stirring every 30 seconds after the first minute (for me it took about a minute and 30 seconds to melt the chocolate). 

2) Meanwhile combine the powdered flax seeds with 6 tbsp of water and allow to rest for about 5 mins. The texture will change to become sticky, similar to egg whites.

3) Beat the two eggs until combined and stir in the sticky flax seed mixture, with a pinch of salt and some vanilla. 

4) Combine this with the melted chocolate butter mixture.... waffle batter is now ready. 

5) Heat up the waffle iron and spray with some oil, pour about 1/3 of a cup of the batter, close and allow to cook... My waffle iron has an indicator to show when it's done... It may seem soggy initially, so be careful when getting it out... but it will firm up quite well when it cools down a tad. 

I know that this picture is not too tempting but trust me that that this is a winning recipe for chocolate lovers.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pizza Margherita

This is the simplest of pizzas one can make but pretty much screams summer with the freshness of basil and the sweet/tart taste of ripe tomatoes, drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and topped with some ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese... my mouth waters as I write this...

I sometimes go with pita breads, or wraps or even naans for the base if I'm not making it from scratch (which is as easy as making chapathi dough, if using the yeast specially made for pizza crust).   The topping is also best made ahead so the flavors can marinate together before going on the pizza.

My best wishes to all the moms out there today.... Happy Mother's Day! :)



Pizza dough base - home made or store-bought (I sometimes use Pita breads/Naans)
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese - half cup, torn into small chunks
Shredded mozzarella - 1/4 cup

Firm Tomatoes - 2 or 3, seeded and cut into cubes
Garlic cloves - 2 or 3, minced
Basil Leaves - 1/3 cup, chopped
Balsamic Vinegar - half tbsp
Extra virgin olive oil - 1 tbsp 
Salt & Pepper - to taste


1) Ensure that tomatoes are firm, yet ripe. Remove seeds and pulp before chopping - this will ensure that the pizzas don't get soggy. 

2) Toss together in a bowl the tomatoes, garlic, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and allow this to marinate for atleast 30 mins. 

3) Preheat oven to 425F. 

4) To the pizza base add a light layer of shredded mozzarella,  top with the tomato-basil mixture (ensure that it's not watery, drain if necessary). Top with chunks of fresh mozzarella. and more chopped basil if preferred.

5) Bake in a hot oven for about 12-15 minutes or until base is cooked through and cheese is melted.  Best when eaten fresh :) Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chocolate Brownies

There are all kinds of brownies and while some people prefer the fudgy, chewy, dense ones there are others who prefer cake like brownies... I personally couldn't decide where I fit in but this Baker's recipe  has been quite a hit with me and pretty much everyone who has tried it....

It has a super crust and the resulting brownie is perfect in every way. What's more, it needs just 5 minutes to pull the batter together and all you need is one (fairly big) bowl and a simple whisk!  I don't think it can get easier/tastier than this.  It's great on its own and I'm kind of partial to the chewy, crispy edges. Infact,  I once poured about a quarter of the batter on a sheet as a very thin layer and made a brownie brittle of sorts... which was super tasty and would make for a great ice cream topping.

CHOCOLATE BROWNIES - makes one 9x13 inch pan

Baker's brand Unsweetened (baking) chocolate - 1 pkg, 4 oz
Butter, unsalted - 3/4 cup (1 and a half sticks)
Sugar - 2 cups
Eggs - 3
Vanilla - 1 tsp
Flour - 1 cup
Salt - a pinch
Chopped walnuts/pecans - half cup, chopped  (optional) - I didn't add this time


1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 13x9 inch pan with foil with some extra on the sides as an overhang (which enable the brownies to be lifted out easily when done). Spray the foil with oil and set aside

2) Cut the chocolate into squares and add to the bowl, add in the butter. Microwave this for 2 minutes, to melt.

3) Remove from the microwave and stir the chocolate butter mixture to make sure it's melted uniformly.

4) Stir in 2 cups of sugar, next add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.

5) Finally add the salt, flour & nuts (if using)  and stir until well combined.

6) Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.

7) Allow to cool and cut with a serrated knife -  serve warm with ice cream, if preferred.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Broccoli Parmesan Rice

This is a quick and simple rice that can be made with leftover rice and makes for a great lunchbox dish for kids...  Since both my kids love broccoli, I've often made a garlicky stir-fry of broccoli florets topped with some parmesan cheese to go with pasta dishes like Mac'n cheese and it has always been quite well received... so I kind of extended that idea and mixed in some rice and spices and my daughter has now declared this to be her favorite lunch item (atleast it is the current reigning one, since her tastes & likes keep changing)... so I've been making this quite often for her lately.

The rasam powder I use is a store bought one and it adds a touch of mild spice without overpowering the dish...  you can change it to whatever spice fits the bill for you.



Cooked Rice - about 3/4 to 1 cup, cooled similar to what we would do for fried rice
Broccoli florets - 1 cup, small florets (fresh or frozen should work)
Garlic cloves - 2, minced
Rasam powder - 1/2  tsp (you could also use sambar powder)
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt and Pepper - to taste
Parmesan cheese - 1 tbsp
Extra virgin olive oil - 2 to 3 tsp


1) Heat a pan on medium high heat and add the oil followed by minced garlic, allow to cook for abt 30 seconds or so, taking care not to burn it.
2) If you are in a rush, you could microwave the broccoli florets with a tsp of water for 2 minutes & have them ready. 
3) Pop in the broccoli florets soon after, followed by turmeric powder, salt and rasam powder. 
4) If not previously microwaved, add about a tbsp or so of water, reduce heat to medium, cover and allow to cook for 4 minutes so broccoli is tender crisp. 
5) Continue to saute for a few more minutes before adding in the cooled rice (grains should be separate). 
6) Stir in the rice for a few minutes and add salt and pepper to taste, as required. 
7) Finally, stir in the parmesan cheese and switch off the stove.  Delicious broccoli parmesan rice is ready! 

Seeing an empty lunch box when she gets back from school always makes me happy :)