Friday, February 29, 2008

Lemon Pudding Cakes

You know, I was a strange child... Well, I guess not much has changed...! What I'm referring to is the fact that I've always loved lemons. Lemon flavored anything and I was all over it. So what's weird about that? I was so lemon obsessed that I would take slices of raw lemon and eat them. No salt, no sugar, no nothing. I'd even walk around sucking on lemon slices at our family friends' houses. Man, those aunties gave me some weird looks!! I still love lemons, but have managed to restrain myself from sucking on them (well, for the most part, anyway!).

So, when Coffee announced that this months JFI was for lemons and limes, I thought this is going to be a piece of cake! Turns out, it wasn't! I thought of lemon desserts and wanted to try something new. I've been indecisive on what to make for so long until I finally settled on this lemon pudding cake recipe from my Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking book.

I'd never had pudding cake before, but the description sounded really great. "A lemony cake rises to the top, leaving a delicious sauce on the bottom," is the preface to the recipe. Now, that was an offer too good to refuse!! Sure enough, the result was a delicious, spongy cake on top with a lemony pudding on the bottom (sort of like lemon curd). The taste was light, refreshing, and delectable! The bonus? This dessert is actually LOW FAT and relatively low-cal!! I decided to make these in individual ramekins and they're so cute!!



Eggs - 3, separated
Milk - 1/2 cup
Lemon juice (fresh squeezed!) - 1/4 cup
Lemon zest - 1 tsp (about the zest from 1 medium lemon)
Sugar - 1/2 cup
All purpose flour - 1/3 cup
Salt - 1/8 tsp


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease four 6 oz ramekins and keep aside.

2. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks. Stir in milk, lemon juice, and lemon peel.

3. Add the sugar, flour, and salt. Now, beat this until it's smooth.

4. In a separate bowl, use clean beaters and beat the egg whites until you have stiff peaks. Don't over-beat the egg whites until they dry out!

5. Fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Don't worry about getting everything perfectly mixed. Let there be bits of white color running through the yellow. If you over-mix, you'll just deflate the air you've already beaten into the egg whites!

6. Now, pour the batter into the greased ramekins and place the ramekins in a 9x13 pan.

7. Pour boiling water in the 13x9 pan around the ramekins so that it comes up to a depth of 1 inch.

8. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, until light golden brown.

Tastes great warm, but good cold, too!

A bite for you!

Spiced Oatmeal Muffins

I was rummaging through my fridge when I realized that I had a container of buttermilk that was a little old, but not quite expired. After I checked to make sure it was ok, I wanted to find a way to use it up quickly! Plus, I was sort of in the mood to bake something. So, I rummaged through this new baking book I got (The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion) and found a recipe for oatmeal muffins. Mind you, I still can't bring myself to eat oatmeal on its own, but that's another story!

Anyway, the recipe sounded really easy and healthy (oats, buttermilk, raisins, brown sugar). So, I thought, why not add some spices to the basic mixture and jazz it up a bit? My initial thought was to try to add a mix of spices that would resemble Indian tea masala. Masala chai meets oatmeal. Neat idea, huh? I thought so, but that's my twisted mind at work!

It turned out to not have as much of a spiced kick as I wanted, but was still delightful. The spices wound up more in the background and were subtle, combined with the flavor of the oats (without any sliminess!), juicy pop of raisins, and sweetness of brown sugar. Not only are these muffins really satisfying, they make a great start to the day! (Just keep in mind that the oats need to be soaked overnight.) I'm giving you the spice measurements that I used, but feel free to tweak them to your taste. :)

So, they're off to Suganya who's hosting WBB healthy eats this month! Without any further ado, let's get to the recipe, shall we?

This recipe yields 12 muffins.


Quick cooking or rolled oats - 1 cup
Buttermilk - 2 cups
Brown sugar - 1/2 cup, packed (you could cut back a bit for less sweetness)
Butter - 4 tbsp, melted (1 tsp per muffin!)
Egg - 1, lightly beaten
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking soda - 3/4 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
All purpose flour - 1 1 /2 cups
Raisins - 1/2 cup

Optional spices:

Allspice, ground - 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg, ground - 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon, ground - 1/2 tsp
Ginger, ground - 1/2 tsp
Clove, ground - 1/4 tsp
Cardamom, ground - 1/2 tsp


1. Soak oats in buttermilk overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

3. In a large bowl, combine the oat and buttermilk mixture, butter, egg, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4. In another bowl, stir the raisins and spices (if using) into the flour. Pour into the large bowl used in the previous step and combine quickly and gently. Overworking will result in tough muffins!

5. Line muffin cups with paper liners or grease them.

6. Divide batter evenly between the cups and bake at 425 F for 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Then, remove from pans and allow to finish cooling.

Enjoy warm! They really don't need anything on them!

For a real treat, take the leftover muffins, cut them in half, and warm them in a hot oven until the edges become slightly crispy. Enjoy with or without butter. Delicious!! Alternatively, you could toast them (cut side down) on a slightly buttered griddle for the same effect. Try it. You'll be glad that you did! :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Meen Kuzhambu with Ground Onion (Fish Gravy with Ground Onion)

I had the worst craving for fish the other day. It's funny that when I was a kid, I never used to care for fish very much. I'd much rather eat shrimp or crabs and used to get quite irritated when Amma would buy fish. Funny how times have changed! I've become a self-professed fish addict as well! I found myself dying for fish and drove to the fish market, cooked the fish right away and ate it. Man, was that ever satisfying!!

When I was thinking about how to make the gravy, it occurred to me that I could add a bit of coarsely ground onion with the masala. I found it to help balance the sourness of the tamarind a bit as well as give the gravy a bit of richness that was really divine! Just be sure to compensate with enough extra spice or the gravy will be dull, since the onions will make it feel less spicy than usual!


Fish - 1 1/2 lb, cleaned and cut into small steaks
Shallot - 3 medium, sliced finely (you could use 1 medium onion instead)
Tomato - 2 medium, chopped
Tamarind - small lime size, soaked in water, juice extracted

Dry roast for a few seconds and coarsely grind with 1 shallot (or 1/4 onion):

Coriander powder - 2 tsp
Fennel powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder - 3-4 tsp, or to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

For seasoning:

Oil (recommended: sesame oil)
Fenugreek (methi) seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


1. Wash the fish well with turmeric powder and lime juice. Keep aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add the fenugreek seeds and toss for a few seconds until lightly brown.

3. Add the curry leaves and shallots. Fry until the shallots brown.

4. Then, add tomatoes and saute until they soften a bit.

5. Now, add the tamarind juice, masala paste, 1 cup of water, and required salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until the gravy becomes thick (to your desired consistency).

6. Now, lower the heat and add the fish pieces. Cover the pan and cook for about 3-5 minutes on medium low until the fish is cooked. Re-check for seasoning and turn off.

Serve with a platter of steaming hot white rice and enjoy with some fish fry!! :)

a serving for you!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Asparagus Poriyal (Asparagus Side Dish)

Asparagus... How I love it!! It's good for you and apparently an aphrodisiac, too (more info on asparagus here). Tastes delicious on its own, in pastas, soups, etc. What's not to like?? So, I thought of making it Indian style for a change and it turned out to be a nice change from my usual asparagus methods. Really simple dish for anytime use!


Asparagus - 1 bunch, cleaned and cut into small pieces
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped
Salt - to taste

For seasoning:

Red chillies, broken - 5, or to taste
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - few


1. Heat oil in pan and do seasoning with ingredients listed. Add onions and fry until translucent.

2. Then, add garlic and fry for 1 minute until garlic softens a bit.

3. Now, add the asparagus and required salt. Lower the heat and cover the pan.

4. Cook until the asparagus is almost done. Then, open pan and finish cooking.

asparagus poriyal

Goes well as a side dish for any gravy, rice, chappathi, roti, etc. Do try it out and enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Chinese Chilly Chicken

The idea to make this dish had popped up over the weekend when my husband and I were in the mood for something different to eat. I thought of making a Chinese style fried rice, but my husband was in the mood for chicken. I had some bell peppers and onions and made this concoction that wound up tasting pretty similar to dishes you get in Indian-Chinese restaurants. It's sort of like a moister version of chilly chicken.

I've used a chili-garlic sauce, for spice, that's a variant of sambal oelek just because I'm a garlic addict, but I'm recommending sambal oelek for the normal people out there! Sambal oelek is a chili sauce that is made with ground chillies. You could substitute with any chili sauce that you like (sriracha, Maggi sauces, etc.). It would all work! In the end, this dish was definitely a thumbs up!! :)


Boneless chicken, cut into small pieces - 1 lb
Onion - 2 medium, cut into large chunks
Bell pepper - 1 large, cut into large chunks
Garlic - 4 cloves, crushed or chopped finely
Ginger - 1 1/2 inch piece, crushed or chopped finely
Soy sauce - to taste
Tomato ketchup - 3 tbsp
Sambal Oelek - 3 tbsp, or to taste
Green chillies - 3, chopped
Scallions (spring onions) - 1 small bunch, chopped for garnish (optional)

To marinate chicken:
Egg - 1, beaten (optional)
Soy sauce - to taste
Sambal Oelek - 1 tbsp
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp (optional)
Cornstarch - 1 tsp


1. Marinate the chicken with the marinade ingredients for 30 minutes. Then, lightly fry the chicken pieces in a couple of spoons of oil until light brown. Remove from pan and keep aside.

2. To the hot pan, add the onions, bell peppers, green chillies and saute for 2 minutes.

3. Add the crushed (or chopped) ginger and garlic and saute until the veggies are crisp-tender and the garlic and ginger have softened a bit.

4. Now, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the sauces, salt (if needed) and the cooked chicken pieces. Let simmer for 3-4 minutes and turn off. Sprinkle scallions over and serve hot.

Goes well with white rice or fried rice or even as an appetizer. Enjoy!

For more of a gravy consistency, add a teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in half a cup of water to the pan and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.

The little bit that's left is off to Bindiya of In Love With Food for her Chinese food event!

Btw, I've joined the foodie blog roll which is for people who have food blogs. For more info, click here or on the banner on the side of my blog!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Award Show and Cinnamon Quick Bread

2 awards on the same day??!!! Oh, my goodness! I am so touched and flattered at the same time. My blog is still a baby... All of barely 3 months old and people have thought that I'm worthy of deserving awards already? I'm speechless.

This "Nice matters Award" was presented to me by dear Uma of the Essence of Andhra blog. Thank you so much, Uma! I am so flattered that you would think of me to pass this award to! I'd like to pass this on to each and every one of the bloggers (established and new) out there as well as the readers of our blogs. You guys rock!

This next award was presented to me by our very own Cham of Spice-Club who says that I give usual recipes a twist. Thanks so much for choosing me, Cham. It means so much! There are so many bloggers that I'd like to pass this on to, but I'm told I have to choose only 5. So, here goes:

Mansi of Fun and Food for her mouthwatering recipes, fun and funky style. This girl knows how to have fun and make you have fun with her!

Pravs of Simply Spicy. Her gorgeous pics would tempt a vegetarian to want to eat non-veg! I get the urge to try all of her recipes as soon as I read them. I can't thank you enough for all of your encouragement in the first posts, Pravs. You were the first person to comment!

Shn of Mishmash. Her stories draw me in to them and her photos... Words cannot describe them! Lots of wonderful Kerala recipes here.

Sig of Live to Eat. Her dedication and the effort in each of the posts she's published is apparent on reading them. Recipes from every corner of the globe with drinks to match!

Maheshwari of Beyond the Usual. The title of her blog speaks volumes about its content. I was a regular visitor to her blog from before I started mine. Awesome recipes, Mahesh!

Plus, all of the other wonderful bloggers out there that I wasn't able to mention. You are my inspiration every day! I love visiting each and every one of your blogs to see the latest surprises you've got in store for me!

To celebrate, I'm offering you all some cinnamon quick bread! This is from my Pillsbury complete book of baking cookbook. It's fast, easy, and tastes awesome with my minor adaptations which I'm including here! :)


All purpose flour - 1 cup
Whole wheat flour - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Baking powder - 4 tsp
Cinnamon powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Raisins - 1/2 cup
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Buttermilk - 1 cup
Oil - 1/3 cup
Vanilla - 2 tsp
Eggs - 2

For streusel:

Sugar - 2 tbsp
Cinnamon powder - 1 tsp
Butter, softened - 2 tsp


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour bottom only of 9x5 or 8x4 loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients (except streusel ingredients and raisins) and beat for 3 minutes on medium speed.

3. Toss raisins with a tbsp of all purpose flour and fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.

4. Combine streusel ingredients on a small bowl until crumbly. Sprinkle over the batter and swirl with a knife or fork so that the batter and streusel are marbled.

5. Bake at 350 F for 45-55 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on a rack.

Can be wrapped tightly and stored in the fridge.

A slice for you:
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Masala Shrimp

I came up with this dish on a spur, really. I was thinking of what to make for Sunita's Think Spice - Star Anise event and was royally stuck. I googled for ideas until my eyes hurt (just kidding!), and kept reverting to the idea of making pulav rice. But, I wanted to do something a bit different. Then, I realized I had some shrimp... What if I ground some star anise with the masala?? And, voila! A new dish was born.

So, how did it come out, you ask? Well, we ate it for dinner last night and my usually silent husband couldn't stop complimenting me on the dish. Coming from him, this is huge!! Then, I took a bite and had to agree. It was sooooo good. By now, you want to look at the recipe, right? I hope you do, so here's the recipe!


Medium shrimp - 1/2 lb, cleaned (I left the tails on, but that's up to you!)
Onion - 1 medium, sliced finely
Tomato - 1 medium, chopped finely
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped
Butter - 1 tbsp
Oil, as required
Salt to taste

Grind to a paste:

Red chillies - 6, or to taste
Black peppercorns - 1 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds - 2 tsp
Star anise - 2
Cloves - 3
Cinnamon - a small piece
Garlic - 4 cloves
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp


1. Heat oil and butter in a pan. When hot, add the onions and fry until golden brown.

2. Then, add the ground paste. Fry until the raw smell is gone.

3. Add the tomatoes, salt to taste, and 1/2 cup water. Saute until the tomatoes soften and you get a thick consistency.

4. Add the shrimp and continue to saute on medium-high heat until the shrimp is cooked and coated with the masala sauce. This should only take 5 minutes or so. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp or they'll be rubbery!

5. Turn the heat off, add coriander leaves and a squeeze of lime juice, if desired. Check for seasoning.

Serve hot. Tastes great with pulav rice or by itself as a starter. If you make it a little looser, you could mix it with white rice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kovakkai Pirattal (Ivy Gourd in Thick Gravy)

This dish features one of my favorite vegetables - kovakkai or ivy gourd. Another one that is based on a segment from Sun TV's Unavum Aarogiyamum series with chef Jacob. I've been meaning to make this for a long time, but somehow hadn't been able to get around to it until recently.

According to the chef, kovakkai pirattal is a Naanjil naadu dish. Naanjil naadu area of Tamilnadu extends from Madurai to Kanyakumari, he said. He also said that the use of deeply roasted coriander powder is characteristic of this cuisine.

This particular dish utilizes the roasted coriander powder, green chillies as the exclusive source of spice, and both coconut and poppy seeds to give a creamy texture. The ivy gourd remains crisp-tender after cooking and the explosion of flavors is amazing!


Kovakkai/Ivy gourd - 2 cups, cut in half lengthwise (if very large gourds, cut in four lengthwise)
Onion - 2 medium, chopped
Tomatoes - 2 medium, chopped
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds - 3 tsp, dry roasted until dark brown and powdered
Fennel powder - 1/2 tsp
Garlic-ginger paste - 2 tsp
Poppy seeds/gasagasa - 1 tbsp, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
Coconut, grated - 1/4 cup

For seasoning:

Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
Green chillies - 10-15, finely chopped
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


1. Grind coconut with poppy seeds and keep aside.

2. Heat oil in pan. When hot, add fennel seeds and fry until they turn brown and splutter a bit. Add the curry leaves and green chillies.

3. Add onions and fry until golden brown. Then add garlic-ginger paste and fry until the raw smell disappears.

4. Then, add tomatoes, turmeric powder, roasted coriander powder, fennel powder and fry until the tomatoes soften a bit.

5. At this point, add the kovakkai/ivy gourd, salt, and enough water to cook the gourds. You can cook them on medium-low heat without closing the pan, but it will take longer than if you close the pan for a bit. So, if you're in a rush, close the pan and cook (on low heat) until mostly cooked, but still a little crunchy.

6. When the gourds are crisp, but tender add the coconut-poppy seed paste. Let it barely simmer (just a bubble or 2 on the surface) and turn off.

This kovakkai dish goes extremely well with rice dishes, pulav rice, white rice, or even chappathis. It was excellent and would be equally delicious without the coconut paste (in my humble opinion!).

One more look:
kovakkai pirattal

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mini Orange Scones

My husband happened to be working from home last week. He loves sweets, so I was trying to find something quick and easy to make for him as a tea time snack. I had a craving for scones and found a recipe for mini orange scones in my Pillsbury's "Complete Book of Baking" book.

It served as a great springboard for me. I decided to use raisins instead of mini chocolate chips (I didn't have them on hand), and added some ground ginger to the dough. The pictures probably don't convey this, but the end product was absolutely lip-smackingly good! I'm not going to pretend that these are very healthy, but they're great for a treat. My husband was very happy to have these! :)


All purpose flour - 1 cup
Whole wheat flour - 1 cup
Sugar - 1/3 cup
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
Ground ginger - 1/2 tsp (more or less according to your taste)
Butter - 1/3 cup, cut into chunks
Orange juice - 1/3 cup (the juice of 1 softball sized orange)
Milk - 1/3 cup
Orange zest, grated - zest from 1 orange
Raisins - 1/2 cup


Sugar - 3 tbsp (I only needed about half of this)
Cardamom - Seeds of 3 pods powdered


1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, ground ginger). Mix well with fork or whisk.

3. Add butter to this and break into bits using fork or your fingers. Combine well with the dry ingredients so that the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

4. Add the raisins and toss lightly. Then, add the orange juice, milk, and orange zest.

5. Stir gently just to moisten the dry ingredients.

6. Drop by teasponfuls (I just used a mini ice cream scoop) onto prepared cookie sheets.

7. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over the scones.

8. Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes, until light golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets.

Makes about 30 scones.

They taste great warm with orange marmalade and reheat well, too!

warm scone with orange marmalade :)

Loved these so much, I'm sending these to Marta of An Italian in the US for her fresh produce of the month - orange event!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Red Bell Pepper Chutney

I had this whole batch of idli maavu sitting in the fridge and was running low on chutney. I was thinking of my options as far as making chutneys and for some reason, I was totally stumped. If it were left up to my husband, he'd want coconut chutney every day. I don't do this mainly for health reasons.

Anyway, I was searching around for recipes, when I came across a recipe for red bell pepper chutney on I happened to have a red bell pepper in the fridge, so I tried it and it was FANTASTIC! Even my husband liked it, and that's saying a lot. Basically, if it's not coconut chutney, peanut chutney, or mint chutney, he's not thrilled. So, I was pleasantly surpirsed with this one.

It's got the fragrance of bell pepper, and is hot and a little sour from tamarind. Easy, quick, and yummy!!


Red bell pepper - 1, coarsely chopped
Tomatoes - 1 large or 2 medium, coarsely chopped
Green chillies - 10, or to taste
Garlic - 3 cloves, coarsely chopped
Tamarind - small gooseberry size
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Salt to taste

For seasoning:

Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


1. Heat oil in pan until very hot. Add tomatoes and fry on very high heat until they soften a bit on the edges.

2. Add the bell pepper, garlic, green chillies, curry leaves and continue to fry on very high until the edges char a bit and the veggies have softened.

3. Cool completely and grind with tamarind and salt to taste. Add a little water if necessary to grind or if you don't want a very thick chutney.

4. Heat oil in pan and season the chutney using mustard and curry leaves. Pour seasoning over the chutney.

Serve with any tiffin item like idli, dosa, uthappam, etc. Enjoy! :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Seems like pineapple upside-down cakes have been popping up all over the blogosphere, huh? Well, this past weekend was my mother's birthday and I was thinking of what to make. She loves pineapple, and this cake is also one of my husband's favorites. Add to that the fact that it's really easy to whip up if you have the ingredients on hand, and it was perfect for me. Plus, it's a real crowd pleaser!

This recipe comes from Pillsbury's The Complete Book of Baking, which has been a go to book for me for years. :)


Firmly packed brown sugar - 1/3 cup (can go up to 1/2)
Melted butter - 2 tbsp (original uses 1/4 cup)
Canned pineapple slices - 6, or enough to cover pan base
Maraschino cherries - 6
Eggs - 2, separated
Granulated/white sugar - 1/2 cup
All purpose flour - 3/4 cup
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Pineapple juice - 1/4 cup (I used the juice from the canned pineapple)


1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Combine melted butter and brown sugar in bowl and spread on bottom of ungreased 9 inch round cake pan. Place pineapple slices over mixture, placing cherries in the middle of each pineapple slice (i.e., in the hole).

3. Beat egg yolks in a small bowl until thick and lemon colored. Beat well, gradually adding sugar.

4. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and pineapple juice and mix well.

5. In another small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. (When you pick up the egg beaters, you should have peaks of egg whites on the edge that don't fall off.) Now, fold the egg whites gently into the batter in the other bowl.

6. Pour the batter over the pineapple and cherries in the cake pan and spread to form an even layer.

7. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 2 minutes (DO NOT FLIP OVER YET).

8. Then, turn over onto serving plate carefully. Slowly remove the pan and replace any fruit/sugar mixture that may have remained stuck to the pan.

Serve warm with ice cream or whip cream, if desired! Sooooooo yummy! This is not a huge cake, so it's ideal as a quick dessert for a small crowd. You can also alter this by using other fruits as you please. :)

want a slice?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pomegranate Rice

Valentine's day is tomorrow!!! Crazy, huh?? Everyone seems to be in a loving mood. I'll spare you a lot of the deep romantic mushy poetry and give you a brief glimpse of a day in my life:

It's early morning before S has to go to work. I get up and he's invariably downstairs in front of the computer doing who knows what (software eng... go figure!). I go into the kitchen to start making breakfast. It's probably 1/2 hour until he has to leave. I start reminding him to get ready. "Yeah, yeah, yeah," comes his voice from the basement. 10-15 minutes later, he goes upstairs to take a shower and appears 20 minutes later. It's now about 15 minutes until he has to leave. Breakfast is made and I'm calling for him to come and eat. "I'm coming, " he yells and finally appears 10 minutes later in a frantic rush. Barely manages to choke breakfast down, grabs his lunch, and is about to run out the door when he stops and turns around. "Have a good day, sweetie. I love you," he says with that look in his eyes and leaves.

That look in his eyes... It was that look in his eyes that made me weak in the knees the first time we met. And it still happens every time he looks at me! Ok, ok, I'll stop boring you with my love story! *laugh*

With Valentine's day coming upon us, I was thinking of what to make for Pooja's Valentine day event as well as AFAM - Pomegranate hosted by Sra when this idea suddenly came to me. I thought, what about making rice with pomegranate juice?? The more I thought about it, the more the idea appealed to me and I figured I could make it work.

The overall result was a variety rice dish that was a bit tangy, but not overly so. We really liked it a lot! Now, I share the recipe with you all...


Basmati rice - 2 cups, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and washed
Pomegranate juice - 2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Chilly powder - 2 tsp, or to taste
Fennel powder - 3/4 tsp
Coriander leaves - 3 tbsp, chopped
Raisins - 1 tbsp (optional)
Cashews - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

For seasoning:

Cinnamon - 1 inch piece
Cloves - 5-6
Star anise - 2


1. Heat oil in a pan and add the seasoning ingredients.

2. When they are sizzling and fragrant, add the chilly powder and fennel powder. Fry for a few seconds until fragrant. Do not over-fry or the chilly powder will burn and get bitter! :)

3. Now, add the pomegranate juice and water.

4. Bring to a boil and add coriander leaves, salt, and rice.

5. Reduce the heat to simmer and allow to cook until the rice has absorbed all of the water (15-20 min)

6. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, fry raisins and cashews in little bit of ghee, and add to rice. Serve with raita or any side dish of your choice.

I hope you all, Pooja, and Sra enjoy this one! :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Keerai Poriyal and a Royal Side Dish!

A couple of more simple side dishes for busy weeknights.:)

Keerai Poriyal:

First, we have keerai poriyal (spinach stir-fry). You can absolutely use frozen spinach if you're in a real rush, but nothing beats the taste of fresh! This is a very easy yet amazingly flavorful way of preparing spinach. The spinach is scented with garlic, onions, and infused with the smoky taste of fried red chillies. Definitely a winning combo!


Fresh spinach - 1 medium bunch, cleaned and cut into small pieces
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped finely
Salt to taste

For seasoning:

Red chillies - 5, or to taste, broken in half
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig, torn in half (optional)


1. Heat oil in pan and do the seasoning. Add onions and fry for 2-3 minutes.

2. Add garlic and fry until garlic softens and onion is translucent.

3. Add cut spinach, squeezing well before adding to pan to make sure you're not adding excess water. Spinach has a tendency to let out a lot of water as it cooks, so make sure you've removed any water used in washing it before adding to pan! :)

4. Now, add salt and blast the heat as high as it will go on your stove! Stir frequently until the spinach has wilted and there is no liquid left in the pan.

Enjoy as a side dish with any rice, roti, sambar, rasam, etc. As my appayee (father's mother) used to say, make greens so that they retain their green color! Looks appetizing and they retain their vitamins. :)

Royal vegetable side dish:

This next one is based on a dish I saw on Sun TV's Unavum Aarogiyamum cooking series presented by chef Jacob. This dish was apparently made a very, very, very long time ago for royalty. But it tastes awesome for commoners like us, too! The combo he used was eggplants and 2 other root vegetables. I had tapioca (yucca) and potato on hand, so that's what I decided to use. It was soooo phenomenally good!

The taste was sort of nutty from the roasted dal flour and a bit spicy from black pepper. Black pepper is the only source of spice in this dish, so be sure to adjust accordingly! It is so comforting, especially with the cold weather!


Small eggplants - 8-10, cut into large dice
Tapioca/yucca/maravali kizhangu - 1/2 cup, cut into large dice
Potato - 1/2 cup, cut into large dice
Urad dal - 1 tbsp, dry roasted and powdered
Rice flour - 1 1/2 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coarse black pepper - 2 tbsp, or to taste

For seasoning:

Oil/ghee (Ghee is traditional, but feel free to use oil)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs


1. Boil the potato and tapioca/yucca until cooked, but still retaining its shape. Strain and keep aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan and do the seasoning. Add the eggplant and turmeric powder.

3. When this is 3/4 cooked, add the urad dal powder, rice flour, salt, taro root, and potatoes.

4. Fry, stirring constantly until the roasted smell of the dal comes out. Make sure you stir constantly, without breaking the vegetables, to make sure the powders don't stick on the bottom of the pan. I found a non stick pan verrrrry useful here!

5. Once everything has cooked and is nicely browned and crispy, add the coarse black pepper. Allow to heat through and turn off the heat.

This is also very versatile and can go with a variety of dishes (rice, rotis, pulav, sambar, rasam, etc). You can also substitute the eggplant with other vegetables that retain their shape well. Alternatively, the tapioca and/or potato can be subsituted with other root vegetables.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Green Chicken

I'm not sure if any of you remember the Muppets, and specifically, Kermit the Frog. Somehow, thinking of this green chicken reminds me of Kermit singing his famous song, "It's not easy being green." (Click here for more info abt that and sources for the song.)

Anyway, back to green chicken. I'm not sure how the chicken feels about being green, but it's certainly very easy to eat lots and lots of this green chicken! So much so that Amma will eat this.

We always tease my mother that she has a "chicken allergy" because 90% of the time, she will out right refuse to eat any chicken preparation. However, she loves this one every time I make it! To me, that's a huge compliment!

Overall, this is a very simple recipe that just involves grinding, marinating, and cooking. A great and light side dish with any biryani, pulav, chappathi, roti, etc.

And now to the recipe:


Chicken - 2 lbs, cut into pieces
Onions - 2, sliced finely
Lime juice - juice of 1/2 of a lime
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp (OPTIONAL)
Salt to taste

For grinding to paste:

Mint leaves - 1 cup
Coriander leaves - 1 cup
Green chillies - 15, or to taste
Garlic - 8 cloves
Ginger - 1 1/2 inch piece
Cumin seeds or powder - 1 tsp


1. Marinate the chicken with the ground paste, turmeric powder, and salt for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Heat oil in a pan. Saute the sliced onions until translucent.

3. Now, add the chicken with the marinade. Saute for 2-3 minutes.

4. Then, close the lid and lower the heat to low and allow the chicken to cook until it's done (about 20 minutes or so). Add water during the cooking process only if necessary.

5. Open the lid and see how much liquid is left. If there is still a lot of liquid in the pan, increase the heat and allow the gravy to concentrate.

6. Turn the heat off, add lime juice and garam masala (if using). Adjust salt if necessary. Serve with any pulav, rotis, etc.

Note: This dish doesn't go very well with white rice

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Roasted Potato and Bell Pepper Poriyal/Masiyal

Sometimes I impress myself. This was a creation from a moment of inspiration. I was thinking of making a potato poriyal (side dish) when I realized that I had some bell peppers (capsicum) in the fridge. So, I thought, why don't I put them together? Then, it occurred to me that I could take it one step further... I could take baby potatoes, roast them in the oven, and then use them to create a new dish. The consistency was close to a masiyal, but not quite. Hence my ambivalence in naming it. Call it what you want!

The result? So good that my husband took one bite and said, "Are you going to blog this??!! You absolutely should!" And now, I share that awesome recipe with all of you. :)


Small red potatoes - about 8
Bell pepper - 1 medium, chopped
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Green chillies - 6-8, or to taste, chopped
Garlic - 3 cloves, chopped
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp

For seasoning:

Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Clean potatoes, drizzle them with a little oil and salt. I chose to leave the skins on the potatoes because they are tender, but you can peel them if you want.

2. Spread oiled potatoes on a cookie sheet/sheet pan and bake at 450 F for 40 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time.

3. Remove potatoes and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.

4. Using a fork or potato masher, lightly mash the potatoes. The goal is to break them up a bit, not turn them into mashed potatoes! Alternatively, you could chop the potatoes if you prefer a more uniform look or mash them if you want a more smooth texture.

5. Now, heat a pan with oil and do the seasoning. Add onions and bell peppers and fry for 3-4 minutes.

6. Then, add garlic and saute until onions are translucent. I like the bell peppers to be crisp but tender. If you want them softer, just cook it a bit longer.

7. At this point, add all of the masala powders and fry for a few seconds until the raw smell disappears.

8. Add the potatoes and required salt and stir gently to combine. Reduce the heat to low and leave it on the stove for 2-3 minutes for the flavors to combine.

9. Turn the heat off, adjust salt, and enjoy as a side dish with sambar, rasam, chappati, rotis, etc.

Hope you guys like this as much as we did. Am sending this to Sia (ode to potato event) of Monsoon Spice and Dhivya (potato feast event) of Culinary Bazaar as this is potato month!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mor Kuzhambu (Buttermilk gravy)

Any Tamil movie fans out there? Do any of you remember that song, "Ada yennatha solvenungo? Vadu maanga oorudhungo... Thayir sadham ready pannungo!" from the movie Sivakasi? Well, anything to do with curd (curd rice, mor kuzhambu, etc) reminds me of this song and makes me laugh.Yeah, yeah, yeah. Major digression, I know. :)

Ok, ok. I'll get to the point now. This is another simple dish that you can make with water based vegetables (white pumpkin, chayote, bottlegourd, even zucchini!) or okra (fried in oil first) and makes for a light meal. Warm, tangy, and a little creamy, it's a great one especially in this cold weather. I used chow chow (chayote) here, but you can use the same method with any of the other veggies I mentioned!


Chayote (chow chow) - 1 medium, chopped into bite size pieces
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Buttermilk or beaten curd - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste

Grind to smooth paste:

Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 8, or to taste
Coconut - 2 tbsp
Fried gram dal (dalia, pottu kadalai) - 2 tsp

For seasoning:

Whole red chillies - 2
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


1. Place cut chayote in a pan with very little water, turmeric powder, and a pinch of salt. *Be sure not to add too much water, as the vegetables will let out water as they cook.*

2. Take the ground paste and mix the curds or buttermilk with it.

3. Once the chayote is cooked, add the buttermilk paste, salt, and lower the heat to low. When tiny bubbles are just starting to form on the surface, the gravy is done. **DO NOT let this boil because the mixture will separate (due to buttermilk and coconut combination), so be careful with this step. :)**

4. Do the seasoning and pour into the cooked gravy. Again, heat until tiny bubbles start to form and turn off the heat.

5. Enjoy with hot rice and pickle! My choice of pickle? Vadu mango, of course!

chow chow mor kuzhambu

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Keerai Kootu (Spinach in Lentil Gravy)

This is basically just a quick and delicious dish that you can make with fresh or frozen spinach. Great for those days when you really don't feel like doing anything, but still want a tasty and healthy dinner!


Spinach, fresh - 1 medium bunch (or a 10 oz package of frozen spinach)
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Tomato - 1 large, chopped
Green chillies - 7,or to taste, slit in halt vertically
Moong dal (paasi paruppu) - 1/2 cup
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp

For seasoning:

Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp (optional)
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Whole red chilly - 1 (whole or broken in 1/2 for more spice)


1. Wash moong dal and place in pressure cooker along with onions, tomatoes, green chillies, turmeric powder, water and a pinch of cumin powder. Do not keep too much water or the resulting kootu will be watery.

2. Pressure cook for 2 whistles. Let pressure release and open cooker. If a lot of water remains, evaporate some of the liquid (place on medium high heat for a few minutes) before adding spinach.

3. Now, add spinach, cumin powder, and salt. Cook until spinach is cooked and kootu has thickened. Try not to let the spinach lose its vibrant green color.

4. Do the seasoning and add to the kootu. Let it come to a boil and then turn the heat off.

5. Serve with piping hot white rice, pickle, papadam, ghee and enjoy! :)

Note: I normally go a little heavier on the spinach, but this was all I had the day I made this dish. If you're like me, you can put up to 2 bunches of spinach or a 16 oz bag of frozen spinach!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Palak Paneer

I am sitting here shocked and a bit amused. Why, you ask? Well, after all of these years I have managed to resolve issues with my arch enemy: palak paneer! Yes, I'm sure there are many die hard fans of this dish, but I have never been able to handle it. I guess that's because it was always slimy any time I saw it being served. On top of which, it was a standard dish at any Indian function, so I was forever tormented by that slimy pile of green goop!

So, what did it take to convert me? Well, I was looking at Sailu's site one day and there was a photo of palak paneer that actually looked somewhat appetizing?! I decided at that point to try out her recipe and it was fantastic!

I did make some minor changes, such as using curd instead of cream, but it was her recipe that converted me. Thanks so, so much to Sailu for converting me to liking palak paneer! I even ate the leftovers! :) I'm not actually going to write a recipe here since I basically followed hers. Do try it out. You'll be very pleased!

Teriyaki Chicken Wings and Superbowl XLII

First of all, I have to say that I hope people had a chance to see the Superbowl last night. What a game!!! It was fantastic (for details, click here). To top it all off, our local Giants beat the pants off of the undefeated Patriots!! Victory tastes so sweet!!!!

But, I digress. I couldn't help myself! Coming to the point... I wanted to share this recipe for Teriyaki BAKED chicken wings that are so fantastic, it's unreal! We had a plate full of wings and the four of us had devoured them in no time. I saw the original recipe on food network a long time ago (click here), but made lots of changes.

I used chili-garlic sauce, but you could just as easily have used green chillies. You can basically tweak this around any way you choose. :)

My modified recipe:


Chicken wings - 18, separated into pieces (cut at wing joint to separate)
Salt and pepper to season wings
Green onions (scallions) - 3 stems, chopped for garnish
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped for garnish

For teriyaki basting sauce:

Soy sauce - 2 tbsp, or to taste
Orange juice - Juice of 1 medium orange
Hoisin sauce - 3 tbsp (Asian barbeque sauce available in Asian section of grocery stores)
Ketchup - 3 tbsp
Rice wine vinegar - 1/4 cup
Brown sugar - 2 tbsp
Chili-garlic sauce - 3 tbsp, or to taste
Garlic - 6 cloves, finely chopped
Ginger - 2 inch piece, finely chopped


1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes until thickened to a glaze consistency.

2. While the sauce is thickening, preheat oven to 400 F.

3. Sprinkle wings with salt and pepper. Keep in mind that there's soy sauce in the sauce to use later, so don't over-salt the wings!

4. Coat a sheet pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil lightly drizzled with oil. Spread wings out in a single layer. Bake for about 15 minutes.

5. Raise oven temperature to 450 F and bake for another 10 minutes, or until somewhat crisp and mostly cooked.

6. Now, take wings and coat with teriyaki sauce made in step 1. Bake at 450 F for another 10 to 15 minutes.

7. Remove from oven and garnish with green onions and coriander leaves. Use extra glaze as a dipping sauce. Enjoy with your beverage of choice!

finger lickin' good!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ridge Gourd Skin Chutney (Peerkangai Tholu Chutney)

Some of you might be a bit confused at reading the title of this post. Yes, I made chutney with the skins of ridge gourds (peerkangai). Yes, I ate it and it was fabulous! I'd heard about this previously from my mother, who used to make this occasionally. I'd bought the ridge gourd for another use when it occurred to me that I could make chutney with the peels. I love when I do something right!

Here's the yummy (yet simple!) recipe:


Peels of 2 medium ridge gourds (peerkangai) - about 1 cup of peels
Red chillies - 4, or to taste
Urad dal - 1 tsp (to give the chutney some thickness and body)
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Coconut - 2 tbsp
Tamarind - small gooseberry size
Salt to taste

For seasoning:
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Urad dal - 1 tsp (optional, for flavor)


1. Heat oil in a pan and add urad dal, curry leaves, red chillies. Fry until the dal browns and the chillies darken in color.

2. Then, add the ridge gourd peels and coconut and fry until the peels soften.

3. Cool this mixture and grind in a blender or mixer with tamarind and salt.

4. Do the seasoning and mix into the ground chutney. Serve with idli, dosa, uthappam, etc. Enjoy!

ridge gourd peel chutney

I guess you could say this is a delicious way of "going green." I mean, you are recycling in a way, right? :)