Sunday, August 31, 2008

Papaya Jam Turned Halwa

My (Jaya) periamma made this when she visited us (long ago while I was still in school). As always we had an abundance of Papaya since they were kind of overtaking our garden at one point and only my dad did justice to them. I just couldn't stand papaya but this jam that periamma made was just perfect in everyway... I couldn't believe that it was made with papaya and ate bowlfuls of it plain. When I saw Viji post yet another of her lipsmacking jam recipes and saw Papaya, i was reminded of periamma's version and decided to make it. I thought that I'd try it in the microwave but I must've gone wrong somewhere since I ended up, not with a smooth jam, but a slightly crystallized sweet which my husband promptly declared was Halwa. Another friend of ours who popped by that day, tasted and also liked it a lot and was like... "what sweet is this?, it's very good..." and it was gone in no time.


Papaya - 1 small, ripe
Sugar - amount based on papaya puree

1) Microwave the peeled and cubed papaya pieces with a bit of water till soft. Mash them. I think my periamma may have pureed it in a blender and that may have affected the consistency too. Mine wasn't as smooth.

2) Measure the mashed amount of papaya and add to a large microwaveable bowl. Measure out an equal amount of sugar (it's pretty sweet this way, if you're going to eat it plain, you can reduce the sugar a bit) and add to the bowl as well.

3) Microwave it in 3 to 5 minute increments until thick and pasty, stirring every 3 minutes atleast. It didn't take very long for me - about 12 to 15 minutes.

Microwave Thiratti Paal

I was bowled over by the simplicity of this recipe and of course the taste too. With minimal effort and time you get a very enjoyable, yummy dish. However, since microwave times vary I would highly recommend those of you who try this to watch it like a hawk while it's cooking, especially after the first couple of minutes to ensure that it doesn't burn. Microwaves tend to cook the food even after the oven has been switched off and that is something we need to keep in mind to prevent it from burning (and I talk from experience - after having to scrape off burnt, brown bits of this during my initial attempt).


Condensed Milk (e.g Milkmaid) - 1 tin (400g)
Yogurt (curd) - 2 to 3 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tsp

A large, deep microwaveable bowl (so the mixture doesn't boil over when cooking)

1) Combine the condensed milk, yogurt and ghee in a large bowl and microwave for 2 minutes (uncovered)

2) Stir and allow to cook 2 more minutes.

3) Now is when it's absolutely imperative to fix yourself right next to the microwave and not budge. Stir and cook for the last 2 minutes - and keep in mind that even though the mixture looks white on the top, sometimes it will turn into the pale brown colour after you stop the microwave and stir (because it's cooked a bit more in the middle). For me it was done at this point (so 6 minutes total). If yours doesn't look done - stir and allow to rest a while before cooking more. Please adjust cooking times based on your MW power.

4) The mixture will thicken more upon cooling. Enjoy warm or cold.

I would like to send this as my entry to Srivalli's Microwave Event: MEC - Potluck Party.

Divya tagged me for a meme which has to be the easiest one I've done so far. It just requires me to list 3 lines from the nearest book - now even I can do that :)

To be precise, the rules are:
* Pick up the nearest book
* Open to page 123
* Find the 5th sentence
* Post the next three sentences
* Tag 5 people and acknowledge the person who tagged you.

Here's an excerpt from the book I have closeby so I can read & re-read bits of it anytime I want an extra boost:

In the small circle of the home she has never quite forgotten the particular uniquenss of each member of the family; the spontaneity of now; the vividness of here. This is the basic substance of life. These are the individual elements that form the bigger entities like mass, future, world.

These are lines from 'Gift from the Sea' by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, a treasured gift from my friend Kaye.

Thank you for this easy tag Divya.... and now for my turn to tag, I'm only picking 3 ... I think most others have done it already.

Rajitha, Sujatha & Vegetable Platter

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cream 'n Crunch Toasts

This is a lovely variation to the usual sandwiches and makes for a yummy breakfast. Since the veggies are grated or chopped very small, the cooking time is really fast and yet they retain a slight crunch. Any cheese would work but since I only had cream cheese, I used that and the creamy contrast to the crisped up toasts was great.


Whole wheat bread - 5 to 6 slices
Carrot - 1 small, grated (about half cup)
Potato - 1 small / half big, grated
Capsicum - half of a medium one, chopped finely
Cabbage - quarter cup, chopped finely
Tomato - half, chopped
Sriracha chilli sauce - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder - 1/2 tsp
All purpose flour - 1 tbsp
Margarine / Butter - half tbsp
Cream cheese (or any other cheese) - 2 oz (softened/shredded)
Milk - 2/3 cup
Salt & Pepper - to taste

1) Heat margarine in a pan and add the cabbage, carrot, capsicum, potato and saute for about 4 to 5 minutes till crisp-tender.

2) Add the tomato, salt and chilli powder and cook some more. Now add the flour and when completely mixed, pour in the milk and cook on a medium flame.

3) To this add, sriracha chilli sauce, if preferred, and the cheese & black pepper as necessary. Let it boil and keep stirring until it thickens & has a creamy consistency.

4) Allow this mixture to cool for a while. I used the time to whip up a Strawberry-Banana smoothie to go with this for our breakfast.

5) Preheat the oven to 400F. Slather on the creamy veggies onto the toasts evenly and place them on a baking sheet. Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes till the toasts turn crisp. Serve hot for a yummy breakfast.

Also check out:
Bread Cups with Creamy Vegetables

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Vellam Aval

This Vellam (jaggery) a.k.a Sweet aval is something that my MIL makes for breakfast along with a spicy-coconutty version and my husband loves them both. This is very different from the ones that I grew up with because my paati would make a puli aval upma where the aval (beaten rice flakes) is soaked in tamarind water and then mixed with seasonings and finely chopped shallots - I simply loved that. Thanks to a neighbour who lived in several parts of N. India (because her dad was in the Indian army), I got to enjoy bowlfuls of Batata Poha as a kid. I must say that the savoury versions of aval are my favorite but the sweet aval also makes an apperance every once in a while at home because of my husband's sweet tooth.

I added some crushed ginger to the jaggery syrup because I think ginger & jaggery work well together but that is entirely optional and not something my MIL does. The ghee also is not a necessity and it tastes just as good without it.


Thick Aval / Poha (Beaten Rice flakes) - 1.5 level cups
Jaggery - 6 small cubes, crushed
Ginger - half inch piece, crushed
Cardamom - 1 or 2, powdered
Water - 1 to 2 tbsp
Coconut - 2 to 3 tbsp, grated
Ghee - 1 tsp (optional)

1) Wash the aval and drain almost all the water (1 or 2 tsp at the bottom is okay). Let it rest for about 10-15 minutes and fluff it gently. It would've softened by this time.

2) In a saucepan, add crushed jaggery, ginger and 1 or 2 spoons of water and allow to melt on a medium flame. When it has melted completely, allow to boil for a few minutes and pour through a sieve & discard the impurities, if any.

3) Return to the sauce pan, add the aval and gently fold (a silicone spatula works great). Finally add the grated coconut, sprinkle the powdered cardamom and ghee, if using and switch off the stove. Sweet aval is now ready to serve.

Srivalli is organizing a fundraiser (Donate for Heart) to help Lakshmi, a mother of two who needs heart surgery as soon as possible. Your support to help this family is greatly appreciated. Please visit Srivalli's site for details & how to contribute. Thank you.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bombay Toast

My friend used to bring golden slices of Bombay / French toast for lunch and it was rather popular amongst us... she always had yummy, different lunch/snack items - like waffles, pooris with a kheer (very new to me since at home my mom always made channa or potato curry), date biscuits etc. Since my 2 yr old prefers to have soft food items so it's easier for her to chew quickly, I usually give her melted cheese on bread, dosa or idli with rasam/sambar, upmas with yogurt etc. for breakfast... Decided to try Bombay toast and was rather happy when she liked it since the egg-milk mixture makes it very moist.

Whole wheat Bread - 1 slice
Egg - 1
Milk - 2 to 3 tbsp (I used whole milk since it was for her)
Sugar - abt 1 tbsp or to taste
Butter / Ghee - 1 tsp

1) In a shallow wide bowl, beat the egg, sugar and milk till combined and slightly frothy.

2) Heat a pan/griddle on medium. Soak the bread in the egg-milk mixture for about 30 seconds on each side until most of the mixture is absorbed. I had about a tbsp or two remaining.

3) Melt the butter on the pan and put the soaked bread on it. Lower the flame so it will cook through completely. Pour the leftover egg-milk mixture on the bread slice (it will all be absorbed when cooked).

4) Cook until golden brown on one side, flip over and cook the other side as well until completely done.

Cut into cubes and serve with fruit & milk (I served with apple slices & some dried cranberries )

I would like to send this as my entry to WBB-Combination Breakfast hosted by Latha of Masala Magic this month. WBB is the brainchild of Nandita.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kondakkadalai Kuzhambu

Kondakkadalai is nothing but black channa and this kuzhambu is super yummy. Besides using black channa to make kadala curry (to go with puttu) or a sundal, every once in a while this kadalai makes an appearance in this tasty kuzhambu for us to enjoy.


Black Channa - 1 heaped cup, soaked overnight
Tamarind - lemon sized pulp, soaked in 1 cup warm water
Sambar powder - 3 to 4 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp (optional)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Onion - half, chopped
Salt - to taste

Gingelly oil (Nallennai) - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - half tsp
Urad dhal - half tsp
Vendhayam (Methi seeds) - few
Asafoetida - a pinch
Curry leaves - few

To Fry & Grind:
Garlic - 2 cloves
Onion - quarter of a small one, cut into pcs
Channa dhal - 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp (optional)
Peppercorns (whole) - 2
Coconut - 3 tbsp, grated

Fry the above (except coconut) in a tsp of oil. Allow to cool and grind with coconut and some water to make a smooth paste.

1) Pressure cook black channa with some salt and sufficient water till very soft (1 whistle on high and 25 minutes on the lowest flame possible)

2) In a pan, heat the oil and season with mustard seeds, urad dhal, methi seeds, asafoetida & curry leaves. Add the onions and fry till translucent.

3) Add the chilli, sambar & turmeric powders and fry for about 30 seconds before adding the extracted tamarind water. Add the cooked black channa and salt to taste.

4) Add about 2 cups of water and let this boil until the gravy thickens a bit (about 20 minutes or so).

5) Now add the ground paste and let boil for another 5 minutes or so and it will thicken to a good consistency. Serve with rice.

Other tasty recipes with black channa:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Potato Bondas

I missed the Poori craze last year and only got to posting my version much later but this year, Anita announced a Batata vada party and wanted us to get to work and prepare deep-fried potato goodness... so here I am with a south indian version - Urulaikizhangu (Aloo) Bonda. Mine has a bit of twist since I add a few other veggies as well to go with the potatoes and they are such a welcome, delicious tea-time snack.


Ingredients for the Filling:
Potatoes - 2, pressure cooked till soft & peeled
Carrot - 1, peeled and chopped finely
Beans - about 8-10, chopped finely

Green Peas - a handful
Onion - 1 large, chopped finely
Ginger - 1 inch piece, chopped
Green chillies - 5-6, chopped finely
Coriander leaves - 3 tbsp, chopped

Curry leaves - few, chopped
Chilli powder - half tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 to 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - half tsp
Urad dhal - half tsp
Channa dhal - 1 tbsp, soaked for a while

Ingredients for Outer Covering:
Besan (Gram Flour) - 1.25 cups
Rice Flour - 1/4 cup
Chilli Powder - 1 tsp or more to taste
Salt - to taste

Baking soda - 2 tiny pinches
Water - enough to make a thick batter (like used for bajjis)
Use readymade bajji mix if you have that on hand.
Oil - to deep fry the bondas

1) Peel and mash the boiled potatoes. Microwave the carrots, beans and green peas with a bit of salt & a splash of water for about 5 to 7 minutes covered till soft.

2) Heat oil and season with mustard seeds, urad dhal, channa dhal, curry leaves, g. chillies & ginger. Then add the chopped onions and saute till translucent and soft.

3) Now add the chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and after a few seconds, add the microwaved vegetables and mashed potatoes. Cook on a medium flame, stirring often until the masala is well incorporated well and the mixture is dry. Toss in the chopped coriander leaves and allow this to cool a bit.

4) Make small balls with this potato mixture (about 2 inches in diameter). Mix the ingredients for the batter with water as require to make a thick batter.. (sufficient to coat these potato balls).

5) Heat oil to deep fry (test if it's hot enough by adding a tiny drop of the batter. It should sizzle and float to the top almost immediately, as opposed to staying in the bottom) . When hot, take each potato ball and dip lightly in the batter to coat on all sides evenly. Drop into the hot oil and deep fry till golden. Serve warm with tea.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Grilled Pineapple

I didn't realize that Sig's MM Grill-It event had a deadline of 15th August. (Monthly Mingle is the brainchild of Meeta). For some reason I thought it was only due at the end of the month so had to hurry up and post this.

My entry is very simple... I've been meaning to grill some fruit for such a long time and finally got down to grilling some pineapple using my cast iron stove top grill pan ... these slices were about 3/4 inch and were a bit more tart than usual. I was fine eating them as is but my husband has quite a bit of a sweet tooth so for his, I spread a very thin coating of butter on the pineapple slices while it was still hot from the grill pan and sprinkled some brown sugar on top. The house smelt like I was baking a pineapple upside down cake :)

I also made some pesto and roasted vegetable paninis (used the grill pan for this as well) and we enjoyed a tasty grilled dinner.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


This is such a popular rice variety and I've tasted so many variations of this... The best aspect of this is that the pulikaachal (spiced tamarind paste) can be made ahead and stored so making the actual rice can be done in a jiffy and it also stores well making it ideal for picnics or the long, fun trips by train or anywhere else. This and some vadaam would make anyone drool.

I read Veda's account of her grandmother's recipe for Iyengar Puliogare alongwith her description, detailed steps and photos and it compelled me to try this at once. The making of the gojju or pulikaachal does take a while because slow simmering is key to getting the correct consistency and flavour but since this can be stored for a while, it's a sound investment of time and enables a delicious and quick meal later on. Thank you Veda for sharing such a winning recipe.

I halved her recipe and also made some changes because my rasam and sambar powders are storebought and so I had to compensate the ingredients to account for that.



Puli (Dark tamarind) - 3/4 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Rasam powder - 3 tbsp
Sambar powder - 1 tbsp
Viji's SIMP - 2 tsp
Salt - 1.5 to 2 tbsp
Jaggery (Vellam) - 1 cube

Powdered methi - 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp

Nallennai (Sesame/gingelly oil) - 3 tbsp
Channa dhal - 3 tbsp, soaked in hot water
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dhal - 1 to 2 tsp
Red Chillies - 8, broken into two
Ginger - 1.5 inch piece, cut into tiny bits
Curry leaves - 2 stalks
Asafoetida - 1/4 inch piece, crushed

1) Soak the tamarind in about about a cup or 1.5 cups of warm water. When very soft, squeeze and extract as much juice as possible from the pulp, strain, keep the juice and discard the leftover pulp.

2) Heat a deep pan, and add nallennai, season with mustard seeds, urad dhal, soaked channa dhal, crushed asafoetida, curry leaves, ginger and broken bits of red chillies. Once the mustard seeds splutter add the tamarind extract.

3) When the tamarind water begins to boil, add the rasam powder, sambar powder, turmeric powder and mix thoroughly to blend. Reduce the flame to low and allow this mixture to simmer.

4) After about 15 minutes, add the salt, jaggery and allow to thicken some more.

5) After another 15 minutes, add Viji's SIMP and let the mixture continue to simmer until it thickens up really well. For me, the entire process took about 90 mins total. Towards the end, add the powdered pepper and methi and switch off the stove. The thick paste (pulikaachal) can then be cooled completely and spooned into a dry bottle and refrigerated until ready to use.


Rice - 1 cup, raw cooked
Channa dhal - 2 tsp, soaked
Peanuts - 1 tbsp, chopped
Red Chillies - 2
Sambar powder - 1 to 2 tsp

Onions - 1/4 c. chopped (optional)
Curry leaves -few
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Urad dhal - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch

Nallennai (Gingelly oil) - 2 to 3 tsp

1) Cook the rice separately with about 3 cups of water and allow to cool completely so the grains are separate.

2) Heat a pan with some oil and add the seasonings (Mustard seeds, Urad dhal, Channa dhal, curry leaves, asafoetida, broken red chillies & peanuts) and fry them till golden.

3) I added red onions but that is not traditional - so, if you are using it, add them along with sambar powder and turn for a few seconds. Switch off the flame and pour this on the cooled rice.

4) Add the pulikaachal/gojju to taste and mix thoroughly so every grain of rice is coated with the masala. Let it sit for a while for the flavours to be absorbed before serving with (microwaved) vadaam or potato chips.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Thai Sticky Rice with Mangoes

This has to be my favorite dessert at Thai restaurants... I love the texture of the plump, short-grained rice fragrant with the coconut and how it pairs so beautifully with sweet, succulent, ripe mangoes - a perfect Summer dessert. I was lucky enough to lay hands on some good quality mangoes and wanted to make this dessert but didn't have the actual Thai sticky rice or arborio and since this was something I decided to do on a whim, I didn't have the patience to run out and actually buy the right kind of rice and instead used the normal rice. The texture wasn't quite what it should be (obviously) but it tasted good nevertheless. The next time, I'll be sure to try this with the actual sticky rice.


Sticky Rice - half cup
Coconut Milk - half cup (I used a canned variety)
Salt - a pinch
Sugar - 1 to 2 tbsp, to taste
Sweet ripe Mangoes - sliced, to serve

1) Cook sticky rice till tender and translucent.
2) On a low to medium flame (important), heat the coconut milk whilst stirring. When it simmers, add the salt and sugar. Taste and adjust accordingly.

3) Keep aside about a tbsp or two of the coconut milk and add the sticky rice to the remaining. Switch off the flame and allow to sit while the rice absorbs the coconut milk.

4) Place the rice in a bowl and arrange mango slices and spoon over some of the reserved coconut milk. You can also toast some white sesame seeds and sprinkle on top for a slight crunch.

We had ours with some Thai red curry and steamed rice for a tasty Thai meal.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lemon tea

During my summer holidays when I was in the 9th std, my friend & I went to my dad's office to use the computers there to work on our project... (some BASIC language coding is all I remember of the project now)... but the taste of the hot lemon tea that they made at the office canteen and promptly delivered to my dad's office room still lingers in my mind. It was hot with a golden, honey like colour and lip-smackingly sweet, balanced with the rich tea flavour and tart lemon juice. Tea & Coffee were a big No-No for me and my dad and we thrived on Maltova but we made an exception for this lemon tea... and i had it quite often during the course of that project. Of course, now that I've become quite a tea fan... i make this often at home but I find it a bit hard to be as liberal with the sugar so it doesn't quite taste like what I had long ago but still is satisfying and soothing. It's great when served hot or cold.

Ingredients:Water - 6 to 8 oz
Tea - 3/4 tsp to 1 tsp (depending on how strong you want it)
Lemon - abt half of a lemon
Sugar - to taste

Method:1) Boil the water in a sauce pan and add the tea leaves. Switch off the flame, cover and let it seep for a couple of minutes.
2) Pour this through a sieve. Squeeze the juice of the lemon and the tea will turn into a golden, honey colour. Stir in sugar to taste and serve immediately for the hot version.

3) Or refrigerate this tea and add a few cubes of ice and a mint leaf on top for a refreshing cold drink.

I would like to send this to Easy Crafts who is hosting AFAM-Lemon this month. AFAM was originally thought of by Maheshwari .

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Flavorful Baked Tofu & Summer Rolls

I've been wanting to try out Nupur's Summer Rolls for a very long time now and finally bought the rice wrappers. Once the necessary veggies were chopped, these were a breeze to put together and the rice wrappers were very sturdy and also sealed beautifully when rolled. It made for a delicious, healthy, light dinner on a Friday evening. I wanted to make some really flavorful tofu because the rest of the veggies going in were raw (read bland) and this came together really well, so much so, we ate more than half of this just by itself and only stuffed the remaining in the rolls.


Extra Firm/Firm Tofu - 10 oz
Light (less Sodium) Soy Sauce - 2 tbsp
Sriracha Chilli sauce - 2 to 3 tsp or to taste
Tomato Ketchup - 1 tbsp
Honey - 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp (optional)
Sesame seeds - 1 to 2 tbsp
Cornflour - 1 tbsp
Black pepper (powder) - to taste
Oil spray (like PAM)

1) Wrap the Tofu blocks in 2 thick paper napkins (or washcloths) and press down with a weight so that all the water is released and it's kind of dry. This way it will absorb more of the marinade. Cube the Tofu into 1 to 1.5 inch pieces.

2) Meanwhile in a big bowl, blend together the soy sauce, chilli sauce, ketchup, honey, ginger garlic paste & sesame seeds. Toss the Tofu pieces in it and let it marinate for an hour atleast. If it's going to be marinated for very long, then it's probably better to refrigerate it.
[NOTE: The marinade shouldn't be too watery]

3) When ready, preheat the oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with foil (if preferred) and spray some oil. Sprinkle the cornflour and pepper powder on the tofu cubes and toss so it coats evenly.

4) Spread this out on the baking sheet in a single layer and coat with a little bit more oil. Bake in a hot oven for 30 to 35 minutes (turning over once halfway through the process) or till browned. Enjoy as is or use in the summer roll recipe.

For Nupur's Summer Rolls

These are extremely versatile and so we are at a liberty to pick the fillings going in so I just used what I had on hand that day - shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, the baked tofu pieces (above), mint and coriander leaves, mung sprouts, roasted red bell peppers and sprinkled pepper and the dipping sauce on the veggies before rolling them in. Yum!

This is my entry to JFI-Soya being hosted by the very talented and artistic Sia of Monsoon Spice. JFI is the brainchild of Indira of Mahanandi .


Check out my other Tofu / Soy recipes:
Pan-Fried Tofu with Peanut dipping sauce
Tofu Scramble
Soya (granules) Upma

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Barley Puli Pongal

I'm all for tangy dishes... and if they are also spicy then it's a win-win combination. Puli pongal is a dish that is normally made with rice rava (coarsely ground rice), similar to what is used for arisi upma but I had some pearl barley on hand and wanted to use that instead. I prefer a slightly chewy texture so I thought that this would be a great substitute for the rice and really liked the end result. It had a slight creaminess to it and not very chewy but had a bit of bite instead of being mushy.


Pearl Barley - Half cup, soaked for about an hour
Tamarind (gooseberry sized) - soaked and juice extracted
Onions (red / shallots) - 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped
Dried Red Chillies - 2, broken into bits (or to taste)
Curry leaves - few
Nallennai (Gingelly oil) - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dhal - 1/2 tsp
Channa dhal - 1 tbsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Salt - to taste

1) Heat oil in a pressure cooker, and season with mustard seeds, urad dhal, channa dhal, asafoetida, red chillies and curry leaves. Then add the chopped onions and saute till browned.

2) Next, add the soaked & drained barley, 2.5 cups of water, tamarind extract (which should amount to about half cup) & salt. Cover and pressure cook for 3 whistles (1 on Med-High and 2 on medium)... till done. Serve warm.