Cook's Hideout: 2007

December 23, 2007

Chocolate and Coffee Pudding

This is my entry to Sugar High Friday# 38: Pudding event, hosted by Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte . Recipe is from my cookbook Chocolate - cooking with the world's best ingredient by Christine Mcfadden and Christine France.

All purpose flour - 3/4 cup
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Salt - pinch
Unsweetened Chocolate - 1 oz
Butter - 1/4 cup (half a stick)
Sugar - 1 cup
Milk - 5 tbsp
Vanilla essence - 1/2 tsp

For the topping:
Instant Coffee powder- 2tbsp
Hot Water - 1/2 pint (1 cup)
Sugar - 5 tbsp
Brown sugar - 7 tbsp
Unsweetened Cocoa powder - 2 tbsp

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 inch square baking pan.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and keep aside.
  • In a double boiler over simmering water; melt the sugar, butter and chocolate. Remove the bowl from heat.
  • Add the flour mixture and stir well. Stir in the milk and vanilla extract. Mic with a wooden spoon, then pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan.
  • To make the topping dissolve the coffee in the water. Let cool.
  • Mix the brown sugar, sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the pudding mixture.
  • Pour the coffee evenly over the surface. Bake for 40 minutes or until the pudding has puffed up and set on top.

The coffee mixture forms a creamy sauce underneath. Serve immediately with whipped cream.

December 19, 2007

Coconut Milk Kadhi

This recipe is from Indian super chef Sanjeev Kapoor's cooking show "Khana Khazana". This kadhi uses coconut milk instead of yogurt or buttermilk. Since my husband does not eat any yogurt based products, I wanted to try this for him. The dish turned out delicious and my DH liked it too.

Ingredients (makes about 4-5 servings):
Coconut milk - 2 cups (I used canned Lite Coconut milk)
Besan (chickpea flour) - 2 tbsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Mixed Vegetables (Potato, carrot, cauliflower, red pumpkin, broad beans etc) - 1 cup

For Tadka:
Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Red Chilies - 4
Curry leaves - 6

  • Whisk in besan, turmeric and salt in coconut milk and keep aside. Make sure there are no lumps.
  • Microwave or boil the veggies till tender.
  • Heat 2 tsp oil in a saucepan, add the tadka ingredients and after the seeds splutter add the veggies and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Slowly add the coconut milk mixture. On slow flame, simmer the kadhi for about 5 minutes or until the mixture does not smell raw anymore.
Serve with steamed rice.

December 14, 2007

Festive Cranberry Dal

My cousin S gave me the recipe for this dal. Cranberries are everywhere this time of the year and this dal is a good way of using some of them.

Toor dal or Masoor dal - 1 cup
Cranberries - 1/2 cup, rinsed and chopped in half
Green chilies - 5-6, chopped

For tadka:
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Dry red chilies - 2
Hing - pinch
Curry leaves - 6

  • Pressure cook dal and cranberries separately for 2-3 whistles. I add a pinch of turmeric and salt to the cranberries.
  • Heat 1tsp sesame oil on medium flame, add the tadka ingredients and once the seeds start spluttering add the cooked dal and cranberries. Season with salt and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve with rice or even roti.

December 13, 2007

Kohlrabi Curry

I wanted to try Kohlrabi after seeing this recipe. I really loved the refreshing flavor and texture of this cabbage family member. It has long green stalks that are completely edible.

August 26, 2007

Butternut Squash Curry

I picked up a butternut squash (Thiyya Gummadikaya in Telugu or Sweet pumpkin) from the farmer's market last week without any particular recipe in mind. I have never cooked with butternut squash before and had to ask my mom for a quick curry recipe and to my surprise both my husband and I loved it.
Pic Updated March 2013
Butternut squash - 1 lb. makes about 2 cups chopped
Tamarind paste - 1 tbsp
Green chilies - 3
Red chilies - 3
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 4
Hing (Asafoetida) - pinch
Turmeric - pinch
Sambar powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

  • Place the chopped squash pieces with 1/2 cup of water and turmeric in a microwave safe bowl and cook in the microwave for about 8-10 minutes, until the pieces are fork tender. You can also boil the pieces on stove top.
  • In heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, add urad dal, mustard and cumin seeds, hing and curry leaves. When the seeds splutter, add squash and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add tamarind paste and 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook on medium low flame for 5-6 minutes.
  • Add sambar powder and salt, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice.

The curry was slightly sweet and sour with silky sweetness from the squash and tartness from tamarind paste. Loved it and I packed a little bit in my lunch box for tomorrow.

Next time I want to try Asha's Butternut squash stir-fry and Indira's Butternut squash halwa.

August 20, 2007

Chocolate Bread Halwa

I made this as an afternoon dessert over the weekend. I wanted to have something fast and didn’t have the patience to prep anything. I used ingredients on hand. The end result was creamy and delicious Indian style chocolate pudding. I made it using whole grain white bread and low fat milk, to make it a little healthy.

Bread – 4 slices
Milk – 1¼ cups, heated for 2 mins in the microwave
Sweetened Condensed milk – 3 tbsp
Sugar – 3 tbsp (more or less per taste)
Dark chocolate – 4 oz. chopped fine
Ghee (or butter) – 2 tbsp + 1 tsp
Cashews – 2 tbsp
Raisins – 2 tbsp
Elaichi – 1 tsp
  • Sauté cashews and raisins in 1 tsp ghee.
  • Cut and discard the brown part on the bread and chop each slice into 4-6 bite size pieces. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp ghee on medium low flame, shallow fry the bread pieces till nice and golden. Remove and keep aside.
  • Add both milk to the same pan. Add sugar; bring the mixture to a simmer on medium flame, mixing well till sugar dissolves.
  • Add the chopped chocolate, elaichi and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Slowly add fried bread slices, mix well. Cook for another 5 minutes. Garnish with fried cashews and raisins (and little bit of shaved white chocolate).

August 18, 2007

Spaghetti With Spinach and Mushrooms

This recipe is from Vegetarian Times magazine. Very simple preparation and toasting spaghetti gives it a nutty flavor.

Spaghetti - 8oz. broken into thirds
Low-sodium vegetable broth - 1 15 oz. can
Tomato paste - 2 tbsp
Harissa or red pepper flakes - 1 tbsp
Mushrooms - 1 lb. quartered
Garlic - 1 clove, minced
Spinach - 1 lb. coarsely chopped
Chickpeas - 1 15 oz. can, rinsed and drained

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Place pasta on baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden, shaking the pan once or twice to brown evenly.
  • Bring vegetable broth, 2 ½ cups water, tomato paste, harissa and saffron to a simmer in saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.
  • Heat a large pan over medium high heat, and add 2tsp olive oil. Add mushrooms, and cook until browned, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Reduce heat to medium, and stir in pasta and 2 cups of hot broth.Cook 4-5 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.
  • Add spinach, chickpeas and remaining broth. Simmer 5-7 minutes more, or until noodles are tender and most of broth is absorbed.Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

Nupur (@ One Hot Stove) has taken up a project of compiling easy recipes made from the food that is most commonly found in our pantry. I think this recipe can be easily modified to be made with canned mushrooms and spinach and the proportions can be changed accordingly.

Hope you like the recipe Nupur and can use it in Campus Kitchen.

August 10, 2007

Dalia Khichdi

This is my contribution to Shaheen's (@ Malabar Spices) Summer Express Cooking event. Shaheen wants all of us to don Rachel Ray's cap and make 30 Minute meals.

I shared an apartment with 2 American girls few years ago and thats when I truly realized that Indian cooking does take a lot longer than American cooking. I used to slave in the kitchen to make my dal and rice (I didn't have a pressure cooker and had to microwave my dal which took almost forever) and my roommates used to make (mostly sandwiches and pastas with store-bought sauces), eat and clean in matter of minutes.

Thanks Shaheen for coming up with this event, it definitely made me re-think about my cooking and prepping process. I'm eagerly waiting for the round up for tips and recipes from fellow bloggers.

My contribution is my mother-in-laws recipe. There is no need to plan anything ahead for this recipe and takes about 30 minutes including the preparations. It is great as a quick dinner, lunch or breakfast.

While the khichdi was cooking, I even had time to make Majjiga charu (spicy buttermilk) as a side dish.

Ingredients (For 2 people):
Dalia (Cracked Wheat) - 2/3 cups
Moong dal - 1/3 cup
Onion - 1 medium
Carrot - 1 medium
Potato - 1 medium
Peas - 1/4 cup, frozen, thawed under running hot water or in microwave
Green Chilies - 4
Ginger - 1"piece
Curry leaves - 10
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Hing - a pinch
Salt & Pepper - to taste


0 - 5 minutes: Prepping the veggies and heating the pans.
  • Heat a pressure cooker on medium-low flame and a non-stick pan on medium-high flame.
  • Chop the veggies into chunks (don't have to be finely chopped, but make sure that all the veggies are almost the same size).
5 - 20 minutes:
  • Add dalia to the non-stick pan and roast till light brown. Remove and keep aside. Next roast the moong dal until fragrant and slightly brown. This will take about 5-6 minutes. I rinsed and drained roasted dalia and moong dal at this stage, but it is optional.
  • Mean while add 1tbsp oil in the pressure cooker, add cumin seeds and hing. After the seeds crackle, add ginger, green chilies and curry leaves. Fry for 30 seconds, add the onions, potatoes and carrots. Saute for 3 minutes.
  • Add the roasted dalia and dal along with 2 cups of water, peas, salt and pepper. Pressure cook on high till 2 whistles.
  • Let the cooker cool and enjoy khichdi with any chutney, pickle or left over curry.
I served my khichdi with left over (thanks Lavanya from Cookery Corner for the recipe) and majjia charu (spicy buttermilk).

Note: You can make it even faster by eliminating the roasting dalia and dal part and using frozen mixed vegetables instead of fresh ones.
If you don't add the dal that makes it a terrific vegetable upma.

Dalia Khichdi w/Long beans Thoran & Spicy Buttermilk
For Majjiga Charu:

Red Onion - 1/2 medium or 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
Green chilies - 2
Curry leaves - 4
Yogurt - 1 cup
Turmeric - a pinch
Salt - to taste

For tempering/ popu:
Ural dal - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Hing - pinch

  • Whisk yogurt with 1/2 cup of water to make smooth buttermilk (or simply use buttermilk). Add turmeric and salt, mix well.
  • Heat 1tsp oil in a small sauce pan. Add the popu ingredients and when the seeds splutter, add curry leaves, ginger and green chilies. Fry for 30 seconds, add onions and saute till slightly brown. Add this to the curd, mix well.
You can have this with plain rice also.

July 26, 2007

Strawberry Jam

My husband is a big Costco and BJ’s fan. I like buying milk, salt, spices, nuts, bread that are definitely much cheaper (although in bulk). But I don’t like buying fruits and vegetables there. To me buying 20lbs bag of potatoes, 5 lbs of apples and 3 dozen eggs is almost putting money down the drain. The reason being we are just 2 people at home eating and how many months or years are you going to feed on the same bag of potatoes and apples? Apparently that’s not what my husband thinks; he says we still spend less based on per lb or per unit price. Well this is a very hot issue that is still under discussion and no outcome has come out of it yet.

Coming back to my Strawberry jam, we bought 4 lbs box of strawberries and I had to use them up before they start going bad. I found the recipe in my “Five-a-Day Fruit & Vegetable Cookbook”and it turned out pretty good.Very easy to make with few ingredients and tastes fabulous.

Strawberries – 4 cups
Sugar – 2 cups
Lemon – 1


  • The night before you want to make the jam, clean the strawberries with a damp paper towel and remove the stems. You can leave them whole if they are small, otherwise cut them into 2 or 4 depending on the size of the berry. Make sure that the berries are completely dry before you do anything.
  • Take the berries in a non reactive bowl, glass being an excellent choice. Add sugar, cover and let sit overnight.
  • In the morning, transfer the berries and their juices to a large heavy bottomed pan. Add the juice of 1 lemon, mix well (preferably with a wooden spoon) and heat the mixture on medium-low flame with occasional stirring. Sugar will slowly dissolve and the berries will start to fall apart. The mixture needs to be cooked till it reaches jam consistency*.
  • Cool the jam completely and transfer into sterilized bottle**. Will store in a cool dry place for almost a year.
* How do you know you reached the right consistency? Book has 2 suggestions, none of which worked for me. First one is to check the temperature of the mixture with a sugar thermometer and when it reads 212ºF it is ready (I don’t own a sugar thermometer and have no intentions of buying one). Second method is to chill a saucer, put a drop of the berry mixture on it, and chill it again for 3 minute. When you try to push the drop it should from ripples (ahhhh.. what?? I didn’t know if chilling should be done in the freezer or in the refrigerator).

So that’s when I had to make an urgent call to my mom, who has jam making experience and she gave me a better idea (that really worked for me). Put a drop of the mixture on a small plate and try to move it around. If it starts flowing then the jam is not ready yet. If it resists movement and doesn’t move, then it is ready; remove from heat immediately. It took about 30-35 minutes for the jam to come together.

**To sterilize jars: Wash in hot soapy water, then rinse thoroughly and drain. Place the jars on a baking sheet and dry in a warm oven for 15-20 minutes.

July 23, 2007

Punjabi Thali for RCI-Punjab

I finally made it before the dead line for the RCI-Punjab event hosted this time around by Richa of As Dear As Salt. I thought I was on top of it till the 15th of this month and never realized it’s already the 23rd.

So here is my Punjabi thali (in Anti-Clockwise direction) Tandoori Naan, Jeera Rice, Tandoori Gobhi, Paneer Makhmali and Mango milk shake.

Both the curry recipes are adapted from Tarla Dalal’s Swadisht Subzi recipe series. I served the curries with store-bought Tandoori naans and jeera rice (sautéed cumin (jeera), caraway seeds (Shah jeera), bay leaves and green chilies in 1 tsp oil and mixed this with rice).

For dessert I made thick mango shake instead of mango lassi, because my husband is not a big fan of yogurt and lassis. For the milk shake, I blended chunks of fresh mango with light cream and sugar till light and fluffy.

On the whole, this is not a very heart healthy thali, but definitely delicious and satisfying. (A 30 minute work-out might help you with the guilt)

Tandoori Gobhi
This can be served as a side dish for rotis, chapathis and naans or as an appetizer (with less gravy). This dish is my new favorite. All the masalas (spices) blend so well that it tasted nothing like I imagined and my husband didn’t even notice the yogurt.

Cauliflower (Gobhi) – 1 small, cut into florets
Onion – 1 medium, thinly sliced
Green peppers – 1 medium, thinly sliced (I used half green, half red)
Cumin seeds – 1tsp
Salt – to taste

For marinade:
Yogurt – ½ cup, beaten
Besan (Chickpea flour) – 3 tbsp
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Garlic paste – 2 tsp
Kasoori Methi – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp

  • Microwave cauliflower in some water for 3-4 minutes or parboil on stove top.
  • Mix all the ingredients for marinade thoroughly. Add cauliflower florets and leave for at least 15 minutes.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil, add cumin seeds and after they splutter, add onions and peppers and sauté till transparent about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add cauliflower along with the marinade and cook for 7-8 minutes or until cauliflower is cooked through. Season with salt and serve hot garnished with coriander leaves.
Paneer Makhmali

Slightly different take on our regular paneer recipe and tasted awesome with naan and rice.

Paneer – 3 cups, cubed
Onion – 1 medium, chopped
Tomato puree – 2 tbsp
Garam masala – ½ tsp
Milk – 1/4 cup (I used light cream)
Salt – to taste

For the marinade:
Mint leaves – 1/2 cup
Coriander leaves – 2 cups
Green chilies – 3-4
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 3 tsp
Cashews – ¼ cup
Salt – to taste

  • Grind all the ingredients for the marinade into a thick paste with little water.
  • Marinate paneer pieces in this mixture for at least 15 minutes.
  • Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan; add onions and sauté till pink. Add tomato puree and 1/4 cup water, cook covered for about 5 minutes.
  • Slide in the paneer pieces and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  • Add milk (or cream) and cook on medium low flame till the milk cooks and evaporates.
  • Add garam masala and season with salt. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

July 21, 2007

Kakarakaya Kura - Bitter Gourd Curry

Yet another recipe from my neighbor back home. This is a very yummy and not at all "bitter" bitter-gourd recipe. It keeps well for days in the refrigerator.

My mom packed this curry for me to bring back to US during my last India trip. All you have to do it cool the curry completely and pack it in polyethylene bags (same thick plastic bags used to pack pickles). I put the packet in the refrigerator as soon as I was home, then transferred into a Ziploc container and it usually stays fresh for at least 10 days.

Kakarakaya (Bitter gourd) – 3 medium, diced
Tamarind pulp – 2 tbsp, divided
Turmeric – ½ tsp

For Masala paste:
Onion – 1 medium, chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp
Sesame seeds – 2 tbsp
Grated coconut – ¼ cup (fresh or dry)
Jaggery – 1 tsp
Salt & Chili powder – to taste

  • Mix 1 tbsp tamarind in ¼ cup water. In a pressure cooker, take the chopped kakarakaya pieces along with tamarind water and turmeric. Cook for 2-3 whistles (depending on your cooker, I cooked for 3 whistles in mine) until the pieces are tender, but not mushy. Remove, drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze the extra water and keep aside.
  • While the veggies are cooking, grind all the ingredients for masala with little water to make a smooth paste. (You can grind the ingredients raw or fry them in 1tsp oil for extra depth in flavor.)
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan; add the kakarakaya pieces and the masala. Sauté on medium-low flame till the masala paste is cooked thoroughly and turns golden brown and all the moisture evaporates. Serve with rice and dal for a complete meal.
Kakarakaya Kura & Tomato pappu with Rice

July 17, 2007

Eggplant-Chickpea Tagine

I made this for JFI-Eggplant, but couldn’t get around posting it on time. Recipe is from my "Vegetarian" cookbook (Edited by Valerie Ferguson). Recipe takes almost an hour from start to finish, but it is worth every bit of the time and effort you put into it. Spices used make this Moroccan style stew make it taste almost like an Indian dish.

Eggplant – 1 medium, chopped into bite size pieces
Zucchini – 1 medium, thicky sliced
Chickpeas – 1 16oz. can, rinsed and drained
Potatoes - 2 medium, chopped
Onions – 1 large, sliced
Garlic Cloves - 2, chopped
Dry apricots - 8 (I substituted with a tablespoon sugar)
Ground Coriander - 1tbsp
Ground cinnamon – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Turmeric - 2 tsp
Chili Sauce - 1 tbsp
Tomato paste – 1 tbsp
Passata* – 2 ½ cups (I used tomato puree instead)
Water – 2/3 cup
Salt & Pepper– to taste

  • Put the eggplant and zucchini in a colander, sprinkling salt over each layer. Let stand for ½ hour. Rinse very well and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Preheat the broiler. Arrange the zucchini and eggplant on a baking sheet and toss in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Broil for 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and golden.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy pan and cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the spices and stir over the heat for 1 minute.
  • Add the potatoes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring. Pour in the passata, tomato paste and water and cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.
  • Add the eggplant, zucchini, chili sauce and chickpeas. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook, partially covered for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with rice.
  • Passata is a cooked tomato concentrate and you can find the recipe for making it here.
  • Recipe also uses 2 cups Brown mushrooms. The dish turned out delicious even without the mushrooms.
  • Also this recipe makes a big pot of stew, you can refrigerate it for upto a week without any problem.

July 14, 2007

Challa Ponganalu (Poha Dosa)

These dosas are fluffy, slightly tangy and extremely easy to make. I had this recipe for a while now (courtesy of our neighbor in India) and when I saw Asha’s Avalakkai dosa, I had to give it a try.

Rice – 1 cup
Poha (Atukulu) – ¾ cup
Buttermilk - for grinding
Salt – to taste

  • Soak rice overnight. Soak poha for ½ hour.
  • Grind rice and poha with buttermilk and salt to make a thin batter similar to dosa batter consistency.Cover and allow to ferment overnight or for atleast 8-10 hours.
  • Make dosas on a non-stick skillet with little oil.
  • Serve them hot with chutney or podi of your choice.

July 09, 2007

Nethi Beerakaya Pachadi-Silk Squash Chutney

I have never cooked with Nethi beerakaya aka Silk Squash before. Nethi beerakaya bajji (fritters) are very famous in Andhra. I bought 2 squashes from the Indian store and made pachadi with one and bajji with the other.

To make the bajjis, cut the veggie into thin circles. Dip them into bajji/ pakora batter (besan+chili powder+cumin powder+salt+water to make a thin batter) and deep fry till golden brown. Serve hot sprinkled with chaat masala along with ketchup. We gobbled down our bajjis before I could take the pictures, so all I have here is raw silk squash pieces.

Here’s the recipe for pachadi.

Nethi Beerakaya – 1 medium, chopped (no need to peel, just rinse thoroughly)
Tomato – 2 medium, chopped
Tamarind pulp – 1-2 tsp
Chana dal – 1tbsp
Ural dal – 1 tbsp
Jeera – 1 tsp
Red chilies – 4
Salt to taste

  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan; add dals, jeera, red chilies and sauté till lightly browned. Remove and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add chopped beerakaya pieces, tomato, cover and cook till tender. Remove from heat.
  • Once cool enough to handle, grind the dals first to a powder, then add the veggies, tamarind pulp, salt and blend to a smooth paste.
I like mine a little chunky, so I didn’t blend it all the way through. Tastes great with rice/ idlis/ dosas or on sandwiches.
Here's another interesting nethi beerakaya recipe from Indira’s blog.

July 07, 2007

Tomato Rasam

This is my husband’s special tomato rasam recipe. Our dear friend V, gave instructions on phone and fortunately (for me) it turned out pretty good (in his words “restaurant style”) the first time he made it. He is very proud of his rasam and making it used to be a secret ritual for a while. But finally I coaxed him to tell me the recipe for the blog.
So here it is my husband’s very famous tomato rasam.

Tomatoes – 3 medium, ripe
Tamarind pulp – 1 tsp
Rasam powder – 1 tsp (any brand, he uses MTR)
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – ½ tsp
Ghee – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1tsp
Garlic cloves – 2
Curry leaves – 4-5
Salt – to taste
Coriander leaves – chopped for garnish

  • Make a small “+” cut on the tomatoes; drop them in 1½ cups of boiling water and blanch for 4-5 minutes. Remove from water, cool, peel skin and puree in a blender.
  • In the same water used for boiling tomatoes, add the tomato puree, tamarind paste and bring to a simmer.
  • Add all the powders and salt.
  • Bring to a boil; simmer on medium-high flame for 5 minutes.
  • In a small pan, add ghee and do the popu/ tadka with mustard seeds, minced garlic, curry leaves. Add this to rasam, mix well, garnish with coriander leaves. Enjoy with rice and papad or as soup.

June 16, 2007

Vankaya Pulla Kura - JFI: Eggplant

Huge thanks to Sangeetha (@ Ghar Ka Khana)for choosing Eggplant as the ingredient for JFI (Jihva for Ingredients) this month. I guess people either just love eggplant or hate it and I happen to be in the extreme eggplant lover’s side. It is one of those veggies that is extremely flexible – stir frying (simple baby eggplant curry) or stuffing (deliciously stuffed gutti vankaya or barli vangi) or jazzing up with cheese (in eggplant parmesan) makes it only more irresistable.

Here is one of many ways of making simple eggplant curry; it requires a little more time that the regular curry, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Vankaya Pulla kura literally translates into Eggplant Tangy Curry. Baby eggplants are boiled in tamarind water and then fried with masala powder to make this tangy-spicy curry. Recipe is from one of our aunt, actually our neighbor next door in India, who is my mom’s dear friend.

Baby eggplants – 8
Tamarind pulp – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste

To make the masala powder:
Chana dal – 1tbsp
Urad dal – 1tbsp
Coriander seeds – ½ tbsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tbsp
Red chilies – 3-4

For tempering:
Chana dal – ½ tsp
Urad dal – ½ tsp

  • Fry the ingredients for masala powder in a ½ tsp oil, let cool and grind into a coarse powder (making it into a coarse powder gives the dish some texture).
  • Cut eggplants into long thick strips (if the eggplants are very small use them whole, but make “+” cut on one side).
  • In a saucepan, combine eggplants, tamarind paste, 1tsp salt and ½ cup water. Mix well and bring this mixture to a boil. Simmer till the liquid evaporates, but the pieces are still intact (pieces should not become mushy, so make sure that the only enough water with the veggies when simmering. If there is too much liquid, then drain out the extra water). Keep the cooked pieces aside.
  • In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil; add the dals for tempering and after they turn golden brown; add the cooked eggplant pieces. Sauté till the pieces turn nice and crispy on the bottom. Add salt (remember that we added salt while boiling) and masala powder; cook for another two minutes.
Enjoy with hot steaming rice and dal. You can use the same technique of boiling with tamarind and sautéing with masala powder for Ridge gourd (beerakaya) and Ivy gourd (dhondakaya).

June 15, 2007

RCI-Maharashtra: Flower-Batata Rassa

This month’s Regional Cuisine of India (RCI – brain child of Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine) event is being hosted by lovely Nupur (@ One Hot Stove). And this month’s state is Nupur's very own Maharashtra.
Many of Maharashtrian dishes are simple made with basic ingredients from the pantry (just like Andhra food). I would like to thank Nupur for giving this opportunity to learn more about this cuisine.
This recipe is adapted from this site (thanks again Nupur for the site). I wanted to buy black Maharashtrian masala listed in the recipe to make the dish more authentic, but couldn’t find it in the Indian grocery near me, so I used garam masala instead.

Cauliflower – 1 bunch, broken into florets
Potato – 2 medium, chopped
Onion – 1 medium
Green chilies – 4, chopped fine
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1tsp
Ginger + Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
  • Heat 1tbsp oil in a pan; add cumin seeds and after they crackle, add turmeric, ginger + garlic paste and fry for 30 seconds.
  • Add chilies and onions and fry till onions turn golden.
  • Add potatoes and cauliflower florets, 1 cup water and mix. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or till they turn tender.
  • Add garam masala, powders, salt and mix gently taking care not to break the florets. Let the gravy simmer for 5 minutes to thicken the gravy.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice or chapatti.

June 10, 2007

AFAM-Orange Berry Muffins

This is my entry to this month's A Fruit A Month (AFAM) blog event being hosted by Sharmi (@ Neivedyam). These muffins are very easy to put together and they are very (berry) delicious. The orange flavor in these delicate, cakey and generously blueberried muffins is in the background.

Orange - 1
Buttermilk - about 3/4 cup
Eggs - 2 large
Honey - 3 tbsp
Unsalted Butter - 1 stick, melted and cooled
Sugar - 1/3 cup
All-purpose flour - 2 cups
Baking powder - 2 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Blueberries - 1 cup fresh-preferably or frozen (not thawed)

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffins cups.
  • Zest and juice the orange. Pour the orange juice into a large glass measuring cup or a bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup.
  • Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.
  • In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently but quickly stir to blend. The batter will be lumpy and bubbly and according to the author*, its nothing to worry about and thats just the way it should be.
  • Stir in the blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
  • Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. When fully baked the tops of the muffins will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

* Recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook “Baking: From my Kitchen to Yours”.
These muffins are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be wrapped and poppd into the freezer; where they'll keep for up to 2 months; rewarm in a 350 degree F oven, or just split and toast them.
I refrigerated mine in a ziplock container and they lasted for almost a week.

May 30, 2007

Chimichanga with Pinto Beans

Chimichanga is a deep fried burrito usually stuffed with rice, beans, vegetables and cheese. Wiki says “According to a legend, Monica Flin, who started the restaurant El Charro in 1922, accidentally dropped a burrito into the deep fat fryer. She immediately began to utter a Spanish curse-word, but quickly edited herself to say chimichanga, the Spanish equivalent of thingamajig.
Instead of deep frying my chimis, I baked them and I have to say that I didn’t miss the fat or the calories in the baked version.

Dried pinto beans – 1 cup (or 1 can)
Salsa – ½ cup (home made or store bought)
Lime juice – 1tbsp
Cheddar cheese – 1 cup (I used reduced fat cheddar and monterey jack blend)
Salt and pepper – to taste
Flour tortillas – 5


  • Cook the beans (pressure cooker makes life easy here, but canned beans are far better). Mash the beans and let them cool.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Combine beans, salsa, cheese, lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Spread the bean mixture on one half of a tortilla, tuck the tortilla over the mixture; fold the sides; roll the tortilla to make a wrap. (Use a toothpick to tuck the loose end if needed.)
  • Arrange them on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray (cover the sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up).
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes per side or until the chimis are golden brown on all sides.
Serve warm with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

Spanish rice with Pinto Beans

I just love all kinds of beans and I try to keep my pantry full with both canned and dried beans (ya.. I agree I go a little over board and buy more stuff than I need. It’s always better to have them when you don’t need them, but not have them when you need them doesn’t feel right).
I had of bag of pinto beans (bought a while back), that I finally decided to cook. Dried beans need planning, time and energy to cook(all of these are missing in me on a weekday) , but I decided to finish this bag and swore not to buy anymore dried in the near future.
I soaked about 2 cups of beans and used one cup each in 2 recipes; Spanish rice and Chimichangas.

Dried pinto beans – 1 cup (or 1 can)
Brown rice – 1 cup
Bay leaves – 2
Onion – 1 large, chopped fine
Green peppers – 2, medium (you can use any color peppers)
Jalapeños – 2 , chopped
Garlic cloves – 3, minced
Tomatoes – 2 medium
Tomato paste – 1 tsp
Lemon juice – 1tbsp
Cumin powder – 1tsp
Chili powder – 1tsp
Salt and pepper – to taste

  • Sort through the beans, soak overnight. Rinse and cook along with brown rice in a pressure cooker with bay leaves. (Beans cook faster in pressure cooker. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, then cook rice and beans separately. Pinto beans take almost 1 – 1½ hours to cook.)
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan; sauté minced garlic and onions till onions turn transparent and pink, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Add peppers, jalapeños; cover and cook till veggies are tender.
  • Add tomato puree and chopped tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper; cover and cook for 5 minutes.(If using canned pinto beans, add rinsed and drained beans to the veggie mixture at this stage, let them heat through, then rice to this mixture.)
  • Add the cooked rice and beans to this mixture. Squeeze lemon juice; mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Garnish with green onions and serve hot with guacamole, cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack or pepper jack cheeses would taste awesome) and sour cream.

May 25, 2007

JFI - Jackfruit Masala Curry

Bee and Jai at Jugalbandi are hosting this month’s JFI with a very special ingredient – Jackfruit (or Panasa kaya in telugu)
. I have never cooked with it before but I have tasted both ripe jackfruit and the yummy jackfruit curry (panasa pottu kura) that my Peddamma (Mom’s older sister) makes. But never have I thought of using the ingredient myself (don’t ask me why).

I have to thank Bee and Jai for choosing jackfruit as the ingredient, as it made me try it and both my husband and I liked the dish.
This recipe is from my cousin.

Jackfruit – 1 can, drained and rinsed; chopped into bite size pieces
Onion – 1 large
Tomatoes – 2 medium, ripe (I substituted one tomato with 1 tsp tomato paste)
Ginger-garlic paste – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – 6
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Red chili powder – ½ tsp
Chole masala – 1 tsp (or Garam masala)
Aamchur powder – ¼ tsp (or little bit of tamarind pulp)
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Salt – to taste

  • Heat 2 tsp oil on medium heat; add cumin seeds and when they splutter add curry leaves and onions; sauté till transparent and lightly browned on the edges.
  • Add turmeric, ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds.
  • Add tomatoes; cover and cook till the tomatoes are tender.
  • Next add the jackfruit pieces, ½ cup of water. Cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add the powders and salt; cook for another 3-5 minutes. Serve with steamed rice or rotis.

May 19, 2007

RCI-Andhra: Thokkudu Laddu

This is one of the 10 things I miss about my Mom’s cooking. They are also known as Bhandar laddu because they were originally made in Machalipatnam/ Bhandar, Andhra Pradesh. These laddus are made with besan (chick pea flour) and are very similar to besan laddus, but are more time consuming to make and way more delicious.
Photos Updated: December 2012.
My mom always makes them when either my sister or I visit India. Freshly made laddus just melt in your mouth and they also keep well for almost 10 days at room temperature and almost 1-2 months in the refrigerator.
This recipe has been on my to-post list for almost 6 months now. I took the pictures during my India trip last year and it is a perfect Andhra treat for RCI-Andhra blog event hosted by Latha. Recipe is a two step process, first make the janthikalu and then grind and make the laddus.

Besan (Chick pea flour) – 1 cup
Sugar – 1 cup (or more depending on how sweet you want)
Cardamom (Elaichi) – 6 pods
Ghee – 4 tbsps
Cashews (fried in ghee)

  • Janthikalu (Murukulu): Add just enough water to besan to make a thick batter.

  • Fry janthikalu in hot oil till golden brown. Remove onto paper towels and allow to cool slightly.

  • When they are cool enough to handle, crush them into small pieces and grind into smooth powder. Sieve the powder 2-3 times to remove any big pieces of janthikalu.

  • Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup. Simmer sugar and water (level of water in the vessel should just above sugar) until it comes to one-string consistency.

  • When you get to this stage, remove the vessel from heat; add the powdered janthikalu, ghee, cardamom powder and cashews. Cover and keep aside until the mixture is easy to handle. Then make laddus and enjoy the warm, freshly home made delicacies.


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