Saturday, March 22, 2008

Filter Coffee

I recently saw a recipe for filter coffee on Viji's blog and it really piqued my curiosity. I mean, I'd been playing around with filter coffee for a while, but never grew up around it, so it's really been trial and error for me. I have to tell you that Viji's method is right on! The only thing I changed was decreasing the amount of coffee powder because we don't take it quite as strong. Just follow her recipe to the tee and you'll have yourself a really awesome cup!

This is my entry to Sig's MBP for mixed drinks. If you've had too much of some of the other drinks one night, you'll definitely need a good cup of coffee in the morning! :) MBP was started by Coffee of the Spice Cafe. Enjoy!

Just for kicks, I've decided to send this in to Jugalbandi's Click Metal for this month.

Update: Sorry all! I've just been reminded that Viji's blog is restricted, so I'm including the recipe I used here as well.

Visit this page at Wikipedia for a pic of the Indian coffee filter.

Assemble the top part of the filter onto the bottom part. Put about 1-2 tbsp coffee powder (for 2 people) and press it down with the plunger shaped sieve press. Remove the sieve press. Boil water and pour about 1/2 cup of water evenly over the coffee powder. Cover the filter and allow decoction to drip down.

Once the decoction has finished dripping, boil milk (we used 1/4 decoction to 3/4 lowfat milk but you could go stronger, if you like), about 1 1/2 cups to make a full 2 cups of coffee. Once the milk has boiled, add the decoction to the milk. Now, pour into cups. Add sugar and froth it by pouring it back and forth between the cup and a bowl.
For a real homey touch, use the traditional tumbler and dabarah as I have in the photo!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Vegetable Frittata and Whole Wheat Biscuits

It's been ages since I made a frittata. If you're not familiar with them, frittatas are like crustless quiches. Basically, they're composed of eggs and whatever you want to add to flavor them. They're started in a pan and baked in the oven to finish. The end result is an egg dish that looks like a pie and can be served hot, warm, or room temperature.

This time, I decided to load up my frittata with veggies. I used a combination of onions, asparagus, zucchini, spinach, and roasted red peppers. It turned out to be very light on the eggs, which was fine with me. I used only 4 eggs to make this dish, but if you'd prefer to have more eggs to balance the veggies, you could go up to even 6 eggs.

(Serves 6-8)


Eggs - 4
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Garlic - 3 cloves, grated
Asparagus - 5-6 spears, cut into 1 inch long pieces
Zucchini - 1 medium, cut into medium dice
Frozen spinach - 1 10 oz package, defrosted and squeezed dry (You could use fresh, if you have it)
Roasted red pepper - 1, coarsely chopped
Salt - to taste
Parmesan cheese - 2 tbsp
Milk - 2 tbsp
Crushed red pepper flakes - to taste
Olive oil


1. Beat the eggs with milk, Parmesan cheese, salt to taste, and black pepper. Keep aside. Preheat the oven to 425 F

2. Heat oil in a 10 inch skillet. When hot, add the onions and crushed red pepper flakes. Fry until the onions turn translucent.

3. Now, add the asparagus, zucchini, garlic, and a little salt. Fry until the veggies are crisp-tender.

4. Add the frozen spinach and roasted red peppers. Toss for a few seconds.

5. At this stage, add the egg mixture. Stir gently to combine. Allow the whole thing to start to firm up a little around the edges.

6. Now, place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the eggs are fully cooked and the
frittata is solid. You can check for doneness with a toothpick, if you're not sure. The toothpick will come out dry (i.e., no uncooked egg) when it's done.

7. Remove from the oven. Carefully run a spatula around the edges and the bottom of the
frittata, being careful not to break it. Gently slide it out onto a serving dish. You could just serve it out of the pan, if you want.

I garnished it with just a little bit of shredded Parmesan, but that's totally optional. Cut into wedges and serve!

Frittata slice!

I served these with whole wheat biscuits, since my husband loves biscuits. The recipe is my modification from one I originally saw on Lisa's blog here. I used garlic and Parmesan to flavor these and boy, were they a hit!!

I love these because they're wheat and they use olive oil instead of butter and/or shortening. You wind up with biscuits that are soft and fluffy as clouds. Truly wonderful!!

Whole Wheat Biscuits:

All purpose flour - 1 cup

Whole wheat flour - 3/4 cup

Salt - 1/2 tsp

Baking powder - 1 tbsp
Olive oil - 5 tbsp
Milk - 1 cup
Parmesan Cheese - 2 tbsp
Garlic - 2 cloves, grated
Black pepper powder - 2 tsp, optional


1. Preheat the oven to 450 F

2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking powder).

3. Now, add the olive oil, milk, cheese, and garlic.

4. Stir until just combined. Do not over-stir or the biscuits will be tough!

5. Drop onto a greased baking sheet in 1/4 cup amounts. Sprinkle black pepper on top, if desired.

6. Bake at 450 F for 10-12 minutes until light golden.

Makes about 12 biscuits.

The final resulting breakfast:

Breakfast of Champions!

I am sending these over to my dear girl Mansi, over at Fun and Food. She's hosting this month's WBB, with the theme of balanced breakfasts. I hope she is satisfied with the balance of protein, veggies, and whole grain in this breakfast! :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Asian Chicken Soup

So, I was rummaging through the fridge one day and really had nothing on hand to eat for lunch. To top it off, I was already hungry and was thinking of something quick cooking that I could make. Suddenly, I remembered this soup I used to make quite a bit when it's cold. I had ingredients that would work, so I figured, why not? It was excellent!!

This soup is basically an Asian inspired spin on chicken noodle soup. I combined boneless chicken with carrots, celery, bell peppers, and rice noodles. You could really use any veggies you want, including snap peas, mushrooms, cabbage, bok choy, bean sprouts, etc. You could also use tofu instead of chicken, and make this a vegetarian soup. It's warm, spicy, and comforting. If you're sick (as I was on said day), it really hits the spot!!

I'm giving the recipe for the mix of stuff I used, but you're only limited by your imagination! Of note, this soup is very light on the chicken and heavier on the veggies, but that's personal preference.

(This recipe serves 3-4)


Boneless chicken tenders - 1 piece, chopped
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Carrots - 1 large, coarsely chopped
Celery - 2 stalks, coarsely chopped
Bell peppers (any color) - 2 medium, coarsely chopped
Rice noodles - 1/2 cup
Chicken stock - 4 cups, plus more, if needed
Soy sauce - to taste
Salt - to taste, optional
Green chillies - 5-6, or to taste
Garlic - 5 cloves, chopped finely
Ginger - 2 inch piece, chopped finely

For garnishing:

Coriander leaves - a handful, chopped
Scallions/green onions - 2, sliced
Lime wedges to squeeze on soup
Chili garlic sauce - optional
Green chillies soaked in vinegar - optional


1. Heat oil in a soup pot. When hot, add the onions, green chillies and saute until the onions soften.

2. Then, add the vegetables (carrots, celery, and bell pepper), garlic, and ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add chicken stock, soy sauce, and a little salt, if desired. Allow to simmer until the vegetables are mostly cooked.

4. Now, add the chicken and the noodles. Simmer until everything has gotten cooked. Check for seasoning. If the soup has gotten too thick while cooking, add a little more chicken stock or water.

Pour into soup bowls and garnish with coriander leaves, scallions, lime wedges. If you want more of a kick, use some sriracha sauce, chili-garlic sauce, or chillies soaked in vinegar. The flavor punch is really amazing!!

my lunch!

This is really a complete meal in and of itself, but feel free to eat it with spring rolls, dumplings, wontons, or anything else your heart desires! Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pumpkin and Eggplant Curry

A while ago, I saw a recipe for eggplant and pumpkin/butternut squash curry on Suganya's blog and have been wanting to make it since. Well, I finally got around to making it with my own modifications. In my frantic rush on the night I made this, I totally forgot to add mustard seeds and urad dal to season it. I had originally thought to do this, but it was great even without these! Thanks, Suganya, for the inspiration!

I chose to use some of the curry powder that Cham sent to me as the main flavoring to this dish. The end creation was a vegetarian dish that gives you the same satisfaction as eating a non-veg dish. (I think carnivores understand what I mean, right?)

I will qualify this by saying that if you're not a fan of pumpkin to begin with, this dish might not convert you to being a pumpkin lover. However, combining it with another vegetable, and adding spices definitely cuts the sweetness and makes it taste great. So, I'd still urge you to try this out. If you really hate pumpkin, you could try using potatoes or other types of squash instead for a different flavor.


Yellow pumpkin - 1 cup, diced
Baby eggplant - 1 cup, diced
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Green chillies - 5, chopped (or to taste)
Tomato - 2 medium, chopped
Cham's curry powder - 1 tbsp (you can use your favorite curry powder or sambar pwdr)
Black pepper powder - 1/2 - 1 tsp, per your taste
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Salt to taste


1. Heat oil in a pan until it's extremely hot.

2. Add the eggplant and saute it on very high heat so that the edges char a bit and the eggplant softens slightly. Remove from the pan and cook the pumpkin in the same way (char it slightly on very high heat and remove from the pan).

3. In the same pan, heat a little more oil. Add the onions, green chillies, and curry leaves. Fry until the onions brown a bit.

4. Now, add the tomato and curry powder. Fry until the tomatoes soften and the raw smell of the masala goes away.

5. Add the cooked vegetables, salt, half a cup of water and cook on medium low until the vegetables are fully cooked and have absorbed the flavor of the masala.

6. Turn off the heat, add pepper powder, check seasoning. If desired, you can add a squeeze of lime juice to heighten the flavors. Suganya used coriander leaves at the end, but I had none on hand that day. Feel free to use them if you like!

Tastes great with any roti, chappathi, etc.

Dinner anyone?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Curried Chicken Burgers and Spiced Oven Fries

As I mentioned in my last post, I received my surprise ingredient from Cham, of Spice Club. She sent me her homemade curry powder which smells out of this world!!

Ok, so you might be wondering what I made with Cham's curry powder. Well, my twisted brain was at work again and I came up with this idea to use it in a burger... My initial thought was to use ground lamb, but I didn't have any on hand and just couldn't get to the store. So, I thought it would still work with ground chicken. Boy, did it ever work!! Paired with oven fries, also using the same curry powder, this made one spectacular meal!

Cham, you are such a dear to send me your curry powder. I am so glad to have received it and to have used it to make such a delicious burger! I do have a more "normal" use also in store for it, but will post that later.

Curried Chicken Burgers:


Ground chicken - 1lb
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Garlic - 5 cloves, grated
Green chillies - 10, or to taste, chopped
Coriander leaves - 3 tbsp, chopped
Cham's curry powder - 1 tbsp
Pepper jack cheese - 8 small slices (1 slice per burger)
Salt to taste
Small buns - 8 (figure 1-2 per person, depending on appetite)


1. Mix all ingredients together and let soak for about 1/2 hr.

2. Form into small patties (I was able to make 8 small patties) and place into skillet on medium heat. Cook on both sides until browned and cooked through.

3. Place cheese on top of the burgers, cover loosely with foil, and allow to melt while keeping the pan on low heat.

4. Toast buns.

Place burgers and desired toppings (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, etc.) on buns and enjoy hot! You can use any desired dressing or sauce on these as well (ketchup, chutney, etc.) We used a green olive spread (crushed green olives, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and crushed red pepper) as our dressing, but ketchup or chutney would be equally delicious!

If you have leftovers, don't worry... They taste even better! I just had the last of them for lunch and it was awesome!! :)

Spiced Oven Fries:


Potato (russet) - 1 medium, chopped into sticks
Sweet potato - 1 medium, chopped into sticks
Cham's curry powder - 1 tbsp, or to taste
Salt - to taste
Olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Toss potatoes and sweet potatoes lightly in oil and spread on lightly greased cookie sheet or sheet pan.

3. Bake at 425 F for 25-30 minutes. Lower the heat to 400 F and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

4. Once cooked, remove from oven, toss with salt and curry powder. Serve with burgers and enjoy!

I will be passing on the love to Revathi of En Ulagam, and Mansi of Fun and Food. Get your creative juices flowing, ladies! Am looking forward to seeing your dishes!

Mystery Ingredient!

What is Arusuvai? It is the brainchild of Latha and Lakshmi of the The Yum Blog – the Arusuvai Friendship chain is, in Latha 's own words,

"about sending along a surprise ingredient as a gift to your friends for them to prepare something tasty with it, share the recipe, and pass on other surprise ingredients to more people. Arusuvai means six tastes (aruu = six, suvai=taste) in Tamizh and is used to refer for Tasty preparation with six tastes - inippu/ thithippu (sweet), orappu/ karam (hot), kassappu (bitter) , pulippu (sour), uppu(salt), tuvarpu (tastes that one gets in raw leaves).”

Latha, of Masala Magic, has started the arusuvai chain here in the US. I am just so happy that I've been able to participate in the fun!

I was so excited when Cham, of Spice Club, contacted me to ask if I'd like to receive a surprise ingredient from her! Would I like to receive something?? Was that really a question? Of course I'd love to get something!! :)

When Cham told me that she'd sent the package, my eager, impatient side set in. I couldn't wait to see what she had in store for me. When I opened the package, she had enclosed a sweet card that said, "Good Luck" in huge letters on the cover... Was she trying to tell me something? *laugh* Inside was a pair of cute earrings and a packet with the secret podi (spice powder).

The smell was just divine... I could smell fennel, black pepper, and cardamom for sure. Maybe some cloves, too, I thought. So, I consulted with her and found out what it really is.

Mystery Powder!

Turns out, this is Cham's own curry powder blend. She actually went through my blog, saw that I had a lot of non-veg dishes, and thought I might like this particular podi! I can't thank you enough, Cham!

So, what did I make with this wonderful podi? Stay tuned for my next post!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tomato Onion Chutney (Thakkali Vengayam Chutney)

This is another quick and easy chutney that tastes awesome. I've modified this from a recipe that I saw on Tomato is the predominant flavor, which is accented by sweet onion, tangy tamarind, and the unique, earthy flavor of coriander seeds. It's the roasting of the coriander seeds and grinding them into the chutney that truly makes this a special dish!

So, if you've got minimal ingredients around and are in a fix, give this chutney a try. You'll be glad!


Tomatoes - 3 medium plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Onion - 1 medium, coarsely chopped

Tamarind - small gooseberry size
Red chillies - 6-8, or to taste
Coriander seeds - 2 tbsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Asafoetida - large pinch
Salt to taste

For seasoning:

Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 5-6 leaves, torn


1. Heat oil in a pan. Add red chillies, fry until they've darkened, and remove.

2. In the same hot oil, add onions, curry leaves, coriander seeds, and fry until the onion is translucent.

3. Now, add the tomatoes and allow to soften slightly. Add asafoetida and turn off the heat.

4. Grind the cooled mixture with tamarind and salt.

5. At this point, do the seasoning with mustard and curry leaves and pour over ground chutney. Mix well and serve.

Enjoy this with idli, dosa, uthappam, or any tiffin items!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eggplant Potato Curry

This is another one of those quick side dishes that sort of comes together when I open the fridge and see what's there... Decide to pair this with that, add some of x, y, and z spice, and voila! Yumminess!!

Eggplant was paired with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and spices to make a dish that was tasty with rice, chappathi, roti, etc. Am sending this over to Pooja for her VOTW event this month!


Baby eggplants - 4-5, chopped into bite sized pieces
Potato, thin skinned - 1 medium, chopped
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Tomato - 2 medium plum tomatoes, chopped
Chilly powder - 2-3 tsp, or to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Fennel powder - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

For seasoning:

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


1. Heat oil in a pan. When hot, add seasoning ingredients. Then, add onion and saute until they soften.

2. Now, add the eggplant and potatoes. Saute until the color of the eggplant changes slightly.

3. Add the tomatoes, salt, and spice powders. Cover and let cook until the veggies are cooked, the sauce has thickened, and the raw smell of the masala is gone. Turn off and serve!

Enjoy with white rice, on the side with sambar, rasam, chappathi, roti, etc.

In other news, I've received my Arusuvai from Cham and am contemplating the possibilities... Stay tuned! :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Aatu Kaal Soup (Mutton Bone Soup) and a Meme

It's been a few days since Uma tagged me for a meme. I'd been postponing it a bit, but I'm finally doing it.

Here are the rules for the Meme..
  1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
  2. Share 5 facts about yourself.
  3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them)
  4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.
Five facts about me...? Ok, here goes!

1. I hate bananas. I don't mean dislike. I mean cannot stand them, do not get them within 10 feet of me, the very thought of them creeps me out kind of hatred. I have no idea how or why this happened, but it's a very deep hatred (emotional scarring??!!). It got to the point that one day I was sitting in the exam hall and one of my classmates brought a banana for breakfast, but I didn't know it. Suddenly, while writing the exam, I could smell the stench of banana... It was so bad, I had to leave the room for a few minutes!

2. I am, shall we say, "vertically challenged?" I'm talking short, people. Very short. I mean, I can't survive one day in the kitchen without my footstool!

3. I have a tendency to put everyone and everything else before myself. Not sure if that's just a female thing, but I've always been guilty of it!

4. I am a hopeless romantic! I'd always been one of those girls with fantasies of Prince Charming on a white horse. Well, my husband doesn't know how to ride a horse, but oh, well!

5. Dogs creep me out, too! I've always been a bit scared of them. I mean, it's fine if they're not within reach, but the minute they can touch me, I'm a little scared. My poor in-laws had to lock up their dogs when we were in India on our wedding trip!

I guess that's plenty for now, huh? Let me pass on the love, now. I'm going to tag Anu, Laavanya, Dhivya, Lavanya Raj, and Sagari.

Now, for a comforting, warm, spicy soup!

This aatu kaal soup is one that I made using bones (with little bits of meat attached) from a goat leg that I'd bought. I had a really bad sinus thing going on a couple of weeks ago and this soup was just what the doctor ordered! The idea is basically using the bones to create a quick mutton stock and seasoning it up with awesome spices to make a flavor combo that really rocks! Hope you guys like this one as much as I did. :)


Mutton bones - 2 lb, cleaned of excess fat
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Tomato - 1 medium, chopped
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder - 3 tsp, or to taste

Dry fry and coarsely powder:

Whole black peppercorns - 2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp

For seasoning:

Onion - 1/2 medium, chopped
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Fennel seeds - 1/4 tsp
Garlic - 3 cloves, crushed


1. In a pressure cooker, place the mutton bones, coriander powder, turmeric powder, chilly powder, onion, tomato, salt, and about 3-4 cups of water. Use more water to make a thinner soup or slightly less for a thicker consistency.

2. Cook all of the above on low heat for 30-45 minutes. This is basically a mutton stock.

3. Once the pressure has subsided, open the cooker. Add the coarse powder (black pepper, jeera, and fennel) and allow to boil to the desired consistency. Now, reduce the heat to low.

4. In a separate pan, heat oil. When hot, add the fennel seeds and let brown and splutter. Then, add the seasoning ingredients and fry until the onions have softened. Pour this into the soup.

5. Once the whole thing comes to a boil, turn off. Enjoy by itself or with hot rice to make a quick and satisfying meal!

Aatu Kaal Soup for you!

Update: Also check out Shaheen's version here.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Poached Pears

I had made this for a dessert recently. Poached pears are so easy to prepare and are such a showstopping dessert! The color that gets absorbed from simmering them in wine is truly amazing. So, if it's a special occasion or if you want to treat yourself, this is the perfect dessert!

Basically, the idea here is to cook the pears in wine (poach them), flavored with spices and sugar, cool them, and fill them with a creamy, slightly sweet filling. It's light and decadent all in the same bite!

I used mascarpone cheese, which is a really creamy Italian version of cream cheese. If you can't find it, cream cheese would be fine as a substitute. I found the original recipe here from Food Network's website, but made lots of flavor changes. Also, I made this for 2 servings, but you could easily scale up. A full bottle of wine will be enough for 6 servings (6 pears).


Pears, any firm variety - 2, peeled with stem intact
Red wine - 250 ml (1/3 of a bottle)
Water - 250 ml
Sugar - 1/2 cup, or to taste
Star anise - 2
Cloves - 5
Cardamom - 2
Butter - 2 tsp

For filling:

Mascarpone cheese - 4 oz (1/2 of an 8 oz container)
Cream or milk - 2 tbsp
Confectioner's sugar - 2 tbsp, or to taste
Ground ginger - 1/4 - 1/2 tsp (optional)


1. Bring water and wine to a simmer in a medium pot. Add star anise, cloves, cardamom, and sugar.

2. Now, add pears and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until tender. You can check if they're done by piercing with a fork or butter knife.

3. Turn the heat off the stove and allow the pears to cool completely in the liquid. At this point, they can be refrigerated until you're ready to fill them. Allowing them to soak in the liquid for at least 24 hours will really deepen the color to an amazing ruby red!

4. When you're ready to fill the pears, remove the cores from the pears using an apple corer or paring knife. Be careful to leave the pear whole!! Keep the poaching liquid as we'll use it soon!

5. Whisk the mascarpone, cream, confectioner's sugar, and ginger (if using) until smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag or place in a ziploc bag, force the mixture towards one of the bottom corners, and cut about 1/4 inch off of the bag's corner to make a "poor man's pastry bag".

6. Using your desired bag, fill the pears and keep aside.

7. Now, strain the poaching liquid and place in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half. Add the butter to the sauce and drizzle the sauce over the pears. Allow to reach room temperature and serve!

Am sending this off to our singing chef, Raaga, who's hosting AFAM this month where the chosen fruit is pear! Enjoy!! :)