Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lemon Rasam & a quick snack

The past few days we've all been down with fever and cold one after the other and all we've been craving and making is loads and loads of rasam... mostly using this recipe but I made this tasty rasam for a variation. The lemon and ginger taste amazing together and I simply love the flavour and brightness that only limes/lemons can impart.


Tomatoes (I used Roma) - 2 (not too big), peeled (peeling is optional)
Toor dhal - 2 to 3 tbsp, cooked
Green chillies - 4 to 5, slit in half
Ginger - half inch piece, chopped
Coriander leaves - 3 tbsp, finely chopped
Lemon/Lime - 1/2, juiced or increase/decrease to taste
Cumin seeds - half tsp
Black pepper (whole) - half tsp
Rasam powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - half tsp
Salt - to taste

Nallennai (Gingelly oil) - 1 tsp
Ghee (Clarified Butter) - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - quarter tsp
Cumin seeds - quarter tsp
Curry leaves - 5
Asafoetida - a small pinch

1) Chop the peeled tomatoes finely. Microwave with some water for 5 minutes. Allow to cool a bit and mash.

2) Coarsely pound cumin and pepper together ( I used my handy-dandy mortar & pestle). Dissolve the 2 to 3 tbsp of well cooked toor dhal in 2 cups of water & keep aside.

3) Many people season rasam at the very end, but I do it in the beginning. Heat a pan with 1 tsp of nallennai, and season with mustard seeds, once it splutters, add cumin seeds, asafoetida & curry leaves.

4) Next add the crushed cumin and pepper, chopped ginger, slit green chillies and after a few seconds of sauteeing them, add the crushed tomatoes with the water they cooked in. Next add the rasam powder, salt, turmeric powder and the toor dhal mixed with water. Allow this to boil for about 10 minutes.

5) Switch off the stove, add the lemon juice, coriander leaves and the tsp of ghee. Cover and allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Here's a quick snack I made when we had some surprise guests... It's just vegetable crackers (plain, salted ones will work too) that has been topped with a layer of 'Laughing Cow' cheese (any flavor), topped with thin slices of cucumber/tomato slices with a tiny dollop of sour cream and a leaf of cilantro/coriander. Best eaten as soon as it's made or it can get soggy. My daughter loved making and eating them as well.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Princess Castle Cake

My daughter turned 5 today (10-10-10) and we wanted it to be magical in every way (unfortunately we have been falling sick one after the other) so we couldn't celebrate like we had planned. Though it was low key, we still made it special for her and I baked her this Princess Castle Cake. We had been planning on this for a while now. .. it was supposed to be bigger with 5 turrets instead of just the one but then we stuck to the smaller, scaled down version due to lack of time and energy. She had an awesome time decorating it - helped roll the cones in purple sprinkle sugar, stuck the nougats, m&ms, jelly beans, the flags and was extremely happy about it.

I used store bought icing which was too thick and inspite of me freezing the cake for an hour & trying to do a crumb coat, it was very hard to get it on smoothly. Well, i should've just made my cream cheese icing instead which definitely is easier to work with.

Here's one with with the birthday candles lit up...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Veggie Pizza & Pizza Sauce

You may have noticed the new look - i changed it on a whim and I'm still not sure how I feel about it but I've always wanted a template that allows 3 columns instead of two so that's why I started to experiment. Well, onto the recipe of the day...

When I'm running short on time but still want something different and exciting, I rely on store bought pizza crust. I used to buy the refrigerated ones (e.g. Pillsbury) but not anymore... Almost all the supermarkets carry their own fresh made pizza dough and after having sampled them from many stores in my area, i prefer the ones from Harris Teeter. It yields a nice soft, fluffy crust and they also have whole wheat versions of the same which tastes equally good and is a whole lot better than the ones in the cans. I'm also including a recipe for a no-cook pizza sauce which tastes delicious - I got this from the allrecipes website.

I also prefer home-made pizza because I can pile on the veggies, add my favorite Tandoori Paneer & make it spicy. Here are a few of my favorite toppings:


Pizza crust of your preference (store bought/homemade) - 1
Marinara / Pizza sauce - home made (see below) or storebought or use this Thokku recipe
Mozzarella cheese / Pepperjack cheese - about 6 to 8 oz, shredded
Toppings of your choice - choose from Tandoori Paneer, Sliced Red Onions, Bell Peppers (Red & Green), Broccoli, Pineapple pieces, Olives, Mushrooms, jalapenos & Tomato slices.
Chilli Powder, Salt & Pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1 to 2 tbsp

1) I usually saute the veggies separately in a tsp of oil and season them with chilli powder and salt. This lends a spiciness to the pizza. As for the Broccoli and mushroom I add salt and pepper (instead of chilli powder). For the paneer follow this recipe to marinate them. Following which, toss them in a pan with some oil for a few minutes or leave them as is and they will get cooked when on the pizza.

2) Preheat oven to 400F or 425F. Roll out (or flip if you feel particularly adventurous :) ) the pizza dough, in a wide sheet pan that has been sprayed with oil, to desired thickness Spread pizza sauce uniformly. Sprinkle some crushed red pepper if you prefer for some added heat or some crushed (dried) pizza seasoning.

3) Sprinkle a good layer of cheese on the sauce. Now place the toppings making sure they are evenly distributed. Add a touch more cheese on the top. You could add a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top but I usually don't because my veggies are already sauteed - maybe if you are using raw veggies that would be a good idea.

4) Place in a preheated oven and cook for about 15-20 mins or until the crust is cooked through. The cheese would've melted & become gooey by now. Remove, cut into slices and serve.

HOME-MADE PIZZA SAUCE (no cook) - makes enough for 2 pizzas

Tomato paste (canned) - 6 oz
Hot water - 6 oz
Grated Parmesan cheese - 3 tbsp
Garlic - 1 tsp, minced
Honey - 1 tbsp
Onion powder - 3/4 tsp (it's okay to skip if you don't have this)
Dried Oregano - 1/4 tsp
Dried Marjoram - 1/4 tsp
Dried Basil - 1/4 tsp
Black Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/4 tsp
Dried Pepper flakes - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste

Note: if you don' t have the individual herbs, use italian seasoning or pizza seasoning instead.

Combine all of the above in a bowl and stir well until they are mixed together completely. Use on pizza as a sauce base.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chettinad Vegetable Kurma

This is a recipe that I tried from here and it was quite a hit at the party for which I made this. It was mild and creamy and was a tasty variation to the usual red gravies. It pairs really well with chapathis or parottas or even with some ghee rice. I made this a while ago but couldn't post it sooner.


Carrot - 1 big, cut into small cubes
Beans - 10, cut into small pieces
Peas - a handful
Cauliflower - half cup, florets
Potato - 1 small, cut into small cubes
Capsicum (Green bell pepper) - 1/3 cup, cut into cubes
Onion - 1 medium, chopped finely
Tomato - 1 medium, chopped
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Seasoning - 1 clove, 1 small cinnamon, a pinch of sombu
Oil - 3 tsp

To Grind for Masala Paste:
Grated Coconut - about half cup (not packed)
Cashews OR Almonds - 6
Pottukadalai (Roasted gram) - 1 tbsp
Poppy seeds (Kasa Kasa) - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - 1 small piece
Clove - 1
Cardamom - 1
Fennel seeds (sombu) - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 10
Ginger - half inch piece
Garlic - 6 cloves

1) For the Masala paste -
In a tsp of oil, add cinnamon, cardamom, clove & fennel seeds then add the ginger, garlic & green chillies, pottukadalai, poppy seeds, cashew/almond and fry for a few minutes. Finally add the coconut. Grind this to a smooth paste with some water .

2) Microwave the cut vegetables with a few tbsp of water and some salt for about 5 to 7 minutes.

3) In a big pan, heat oil and add clove, cinnamon and sombu, followed by chopped onion. When that softens and gets cooked, then add the tomatoes and salt & the chilli powder - cook till slightly mushy.

4) Now add the microwaved vegetables and allow the mixture to boil for a few minutes. Now add the ground masala paste and sufficient water. When it starts to boil, allow this to simmer covered for about 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure the curry doesn't become too thick. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.