Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Doubly Surprised and Grateful!

You can imagine my surprise and excitement when I saw an award waiting for me on not one, but 2 blogs!! Both Dhivya of Dhivya's Cuisine and Jayasree of Experiments in Kailas Kitchen awarded me with the Yummy Blog Award:

"Yummy blog award is the award given to the blog with most yummy recipes/photos”

Thank you both so much for deeming my blog deserving of such a wonderful award!

First of all, I'm told that I should tell you all about the yummiest desserts that I have prepared or tasted. This is a tough one since I really love to bake...


Black Forest Cake (my fave cake!!)


Kaju Katli


They're not in any particular order and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Now comes the challenge of passing this award on to only 4 yummy blogs. I had many blogs to consider, but a lot of people have already received this award. Of the people who are left, I tried my best to narrow it down to 4 awesome blogs.

1. Mallugirl of Malabar Spices - Am constantly wiping drool off my face on visits to her blog.

2. Deeba of Passionate about Baking - She's stolen my heart with her delectable goodies and style of presentation!

3. Pravs of Simply Spicy - Need I say more? One visit will leave you craving for more!

4. Dhivi of Culinary Bazaar - Not only are her recipes mouthwatering, she actually takes the time to show you each one with step by step instructions and

Congratulations, ladies, on the extremely well deserved awards! Hope you enjoy them and wear it with pride. :) Will be back later today or tomorrow with a recipe.

I feel like there should be an announcer with a funny voice saying this part:

Rules for the ‘Yummy Blog’ award Reciver:

The person who receives the award should display the "Yummy Blog !" logo on their blog and also the meaning of the award which is "Yummy blog award is the award given to the blog with most yummy recipes/photos".

The receiver should also quote their favorite yummy-licious :) dessert(s) that they have ever prepared/eaten. Don’t restrict yourself to any dessert, chocolate bars also welcome.

Also the receiver should pass on the award to four other bloggers whose blog they find "yummy" and let them know about the rules.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Toasted Orzo Salad

Orzo is one of my favorite things to eat! If you don't know what it is, it's a pasta that's shaped like rice. My favorite way to eat orzo is in salads (pasta salad type dishes). I guess that's why I tend to think of eating it more in the warmer weather months.

This particular dish involves toasting the orzo in oil to add a slightly nutty background flavor to the dish which is really delightful. I used basically whatever vegetables I happened to have on hand on that day, so feel free to substitute whatever you like in this dish! I went with a very simple springtime flavor mix of asparagus, roasted red peppers, and peas accented with garlic and lemon.

This salad is perfect for entertaining, too because it can be served cold or at room temperature. For the same reason, it's perfect for road trips or picnics! Hence, I'm sending this straight over to Easycrafts' Fun in the Sun event.

FYI, leftovers make a great cold lunch the next day!


Orzo - 3/4 cup
Red onion - 1 small, rough chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped finely
Red bell pepper - 1 medium, roasted, peeled and rough chopped
Frozen peas - 1/2 cup, defrosted
Asparagus - 1 cup, cut into large pieces (about 1 inch long)
Lemon juice - 1 tsp, or to taste
Water - 1 1/4 cups to 1 1/2 cups
Chili garlic sauce - 1 tbsp, or to taste
Salt to taste


Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the orzo and let it toast to a pale golden color. Then, add the onion, garlic, and asparagus. Saute until the veggies are crisp-tender. Now, add the water, peas, and salt to the same pan. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pot. Allow the water to absorb into the orzo. (Note: You may need a little more water depending on the heat level you're using. Be careful not to use too much water or else the pasta will get mushy on you.) At this point, transfer the orzo to a bowl and add chili garlic sauce to taste along with lemon juice and roasted peppers. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to serve. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature!

I was so excited to find out that I'd won best presentation for VOTW bittergourd. In fact, I was jumping up and down like a little kid when I was telling my husband about it! Thanks so much to each and every one of you that voted for me. I cannot put into words how good it feels! It seems like just yesterday that I started my little blog. I really appreciate everyone's support and encouragement as well as your brilliant ideas (cooking and otherwise). I find myself learning something new from you all each day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Vegetable Enchiladas

I don't know about you, but I love enchiladas. All types just make me plain happy! I made these on a night where I didn't feel like eating meat. Ok, ok. I know that totally contradicts with everything I said in my last post, but so what? Believe it or not, there really are days when I don't feel like eating meat. There, I admitted it. Hey, even carnivores need their veggies sometimes, right? :)

I had a bunch of random vegetables in the fridge and thought, "Why not make enchiladas with these?" The result was definitely a home run! Even my husband didn't mind eating his veggies that night. He's going to kill me for that one, but oh, well!

Back to actual food talk... You can really use just about any veggie you want here. I used bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes. For flavor, I used Mexican chili powder, cumin powder and oregano as well as chipotle peppers. Chipotles are smoked jalapeno peppers. I buy them canned in adobo sauce, which is a red, somewhat tangy sauce. They keep in the fridge for months with no problem. If you've never tried them, they give your food a spicy (duh!), smoky bite which is really addictive.

I chose to make my own red sauce, but feel free to buy your own or use green sauce (made from tomatillos). You can even use store bought salsa (green or red) or enchilada sauce as your topping sauce. The recipe might look a little long, but it's really not complicated. I promise!



Bell pepper, any color - 2 medium, chopped
Eggplants - 4-5 small, chopped
Zucchini - 1 large, chopped
Onions - 1 medium, diced
Tomatoes - 2 medium, chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves, ground to paste
Mexican chili powder - 1 tbsp
Cumin powder - 2 tsp
Dried oregano - 1 tsp, crushed
Chipotle in adobo - 3, chopped - increase if you want it more spicy
Salt to taste

Scallions - 1 small bunch, chopped
Pepper jack cheese - 2 cups, shredded
Tortillas - 10-12 flour or corn, softened per package directions

For sauce:

Garlic - 1 clove, grated or finely chopped
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Chipotle in adobo - 1, chopped (optional)
Tomato sauce - 1 28 oz can
Sugar - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt to taste


1. Heat oil in a pan. Fry onions until softened. Then add the chopped veggies (tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, zucchini) and garlic. Saute until the vegetables are cooked. Add chili powder, cumin powder, oregano, salt, and chipotle. Toss for a minute until the raw smell is gone and everything has come together. Turn the heat off and let this cool.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients and allow to simmer until thickened and the flavors have melded. Takes about 10 minutes. Keep aside.

3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare a 9x13 pan by sprinkling a few drops of oil and a spoonful of the sauce on top.

4. When ready to assemble, keep the filling, sauce, cheese and tortillas ready. Take a tortilla and place some cheese in the middle (say 1-2 tbsp). Then, put some of the filling on top of the cheese, being sure not to overfill. Fold the sides in (like you would for a wrap) and place in prepared pan, seam side down. Repeat for the rest of the tortillas. Note: You might not be able to fit all of the enchiladas in one pan. If so, just prepare another pan in the same manner and continue.

5. Once all of the enchiladas have been placed in the pan, pour the remaining sauce on top. Then sprinkle the rest of the cheese as well as the scallions. Sometimes, I do green chillies on top as well!

6. Now, bake the whole thing covered (use some aluminum foil to cover the pan) for about 15 minutes at 375 F. Then, broil the top, if desired for 1-2 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned. Let it rest for 5 minutes and serve with sour cream, jalapenos, etc.

I'm sending this in to sweet Dhivi for her AWED - Mexican food event. Hope you all enjoyed this one! :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kheema with Vegetables

This post is dedicated to all of you carnivores out there. Have you ever found yourself with a die hard meat craving?? I mean, you feel like you need meat NOW and nothing but mutton will do...? I get into these fixes every so often and start acting like a crazy woman until I've actually eaten the mutton.

So, one day, I found myself in the aforementioned state but didn't really feel like making 10 different things. I thought about Amma making kheema sometimes and remembered having ground mutton on hand. Then, I thought adding a bunch of vegetables would make it into a complete dish to eat with leftover chappathis.

This dish turned out to be a winner in more ways than one. First of all, it was meaty enough to handle my meat craving. Plus, it was loaded with vegetables, making it a complete dish paired with rotis or rice. I used whatever veggies I had on hand that day, but you can use anything from beans, cabbage, mushrooms, eggplants, bell peppers, cauliflower (maybe), carrots, etc. Also, you can change the masala to suit your tastes, too. Go crazy!!


Ground mutton - 1 1/2 lb
Baby eggplants - 3-4, chopped
Green bell peppers - 2 large, chopped
Frozen peas, defrosted - 1/2 cup
Potatoes - 2 small, chopped
Tomatoes - 3 medium, chopped
Onions - 2 medium, chopped
Garlic - 5 pods, chopped or crushed
Ginger - 2 inch piece, chopped or crushed
Green chillies - 8-10, chopped
Fennel (sombu) powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tsp
Chilly powder - 3 tsp, or to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Yogurt 2 tbsp
Pepper powder - 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Lime juice - 1 tbsp


1. Heat oil in a pan. Add the ground meat and brown.

2. Now, add the onions and green chillies. Saute until the onions have softened.

3. At this point, ginger and garlic are added and fried until the raw smell disappears. Then, add yogurt, fennel powder, coriander powder, chilly powder, and turmeric powder.

4. Fry until the mixture thickens and the masala smells roasted. Now, add the vegetables (eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, bell peppers) and salt. Cover and cook until the veggies are done.

5. Finally, open and check for seasoning. Add the pepper powder and lime juice and serve this spicy, rich kheema hot with rice, pulav rice, or rotis. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bittergourd Two Times

Growing up, bittergourd was one of my favorite vegetables. Hey, I never claimed to be normal in any respect! I think my mother was shocked that I would relish it, but she could never bring herself to eat it. I still adore this gourd that gets so little respect, so when Pooja announced bittergourd for this month's VOTW, I was totally excited!!

I'm sharing two recipes here. One is my Amma's recipe for bittergourd fry that she used to make all the time at home and I just adore it. It's a very simple one that even Amma will eat! The other recipe is one that sort of came about in Amma telling me about something that my Anni (brother's wife) made recently with green bananas. I tweaked things around and a new dish was born. It's a beautiful baby, if I may say so myself!

Amma's Bittergourd Fry:

One thing to keep in mind is that the bittergourd amount will reduce dramatically in cooking them. 2 medium bittergourds will feed about 2-3 people as a side dish.

This particular dish is meant to be fairly spicy with the heat coming from green chillies and black pepper. It sounds so simple, but is absolutely delightful! You can soak the bittergourd in salt and squeeze it out, if you want, but we never do.


Bittergourd - 2 medium, chopped finely
Green chillies - 5-6
Black pepper powder - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

For seasoning:

Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 4-5 leaves


Heat oil in a pan. Season with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the green chillies and fry for a few seconds. Now, add the bittergourd pieces and salt to taste. Fry on medium heat until the bittergourd is cooked and crispy. Turn off and serve as a side dish. It goes really well with sambar, rasam, even non-veg dishes and curd rice. Enjoy!

Bittergourd Tamarind Masala:

This one involves cooking of the bittergourd with tamarind and then seasoning it with masala. Onions, tamarind, and a little sugar are used to compensate for the bitterness. Like I said, it's the first time I made this and I will definitely be making this again!!

The taste was out of this world! I adored the combination of the sourness with the spice and slightly bitter taste of the gourds. Simply fabulous!!


Bittergourd - 1 medium, chopped into large dice
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Tamarind - 1 gooseberry size, soaked in water and pulp extracted
Jaggery - 1 tsp, or to taste (optional, to balance the sourness)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Chilly powder - 2 tsp, or to taste
Fennel powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

For seasoning:

Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 4-5, torn


1. Place bittergourd in a pan with tamarind pulp, jaggery, a pinch of salt, and just enough water to cook the gourds. Cook until done and keep aside.

2. In another pan, heat oil until hot. Season with mustard seeds and curry leaves.

3. Add onions and fry until golden brown. Then, add the masala powders (turmeric, chilly, fennel powders) and fry for a few seconds until you smell their aroma.

4. Now, add the cooked bittergourd and salt to taste. Saute on high heat until the masala has coated the bittergourds well and the flavors have come together. If it looks too dry, add a touch of water. Turn off and serve.

You can serve this as a side dish or a main dish. It is just too good mixed with rice!!

Also, vary the consistency to your liking. You can certainly make it thinner for more of a gravy consistency as well. Enjoy!!

I am sending both of these delicious dishes to dear Pooja. I hope she enjoys these as much as I do!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Happy New Year!

Tamil Greetings Happy Tamil New Year Orkut Graphics @

Wishing each and every one a very happy Tamil New Year! A fresh start, a new beginning that coincides beautifully with spring. Hope those of you who celebrate the festival had a great one!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Green Sprouts Adai

Amma was visiting last week, so we were having a bit of fun planning meals. One day, we were thinking what to make for dinner on a day later in the week. I remembered that I had some kollu (horsegram dal) and thought we could make something with that. Somehow, the idea of adai came up. Usually adai is made sort of similar to uthappam in thickness, but the batter consists of a combination of lentils/dals. Suddenly, inspiration struck and I thought, we could use whole moong dal in combination with the horsegram dal and sprout both dals before using them.

To make sprouts, take the required amounts of the dals and soak them in water for about 12 hours. Then, drain off the liquid and place the dals in a moist cloth towel for 24-48 hours. You will see the dals sprouting by that point. Just make sure that the cloth stays damp and you'll have no problems.

For the adai, we didn't stray much from the usual adai ingredients. We added ginger, green chillies, and chopped onion. But, we also decided to add a bunch of spinach to give it even more nutrients. So, this is one power packed meal that Popeye would be proud of!

nutritious and delicious!


Whole moong dal - 1 cup, measured before sprouting
Horsegram dal - 1 cup, measured before sprouting
Red onions - 2 medium, chopped
Ginger - 2 inch piece, rough chopped
Green chillies - 15, or to taste
Spinach - 1 medium bunch, rough chopped
Salt - to taste


1. Sprout the dals first.
Soak them in water for about 12 hours. Then, drain off the liquid and place the dals in a moist cloth towel for 24-48 hours. You will see the dals sprouting by that point. Just make sure that the cloth stays damp and you'll have no problems with this step!

2. Now, take the sprouts, ginger, and green chillies in a mixie or blender and grind to a coarse, fairly thick paste.

3. Add the spinach to the above mixture and pulse until combined. Add salt to taste and onions.

4. Heat a tava or griddle on medium heat. Place a small amount of batter on the tava and slowly spread it using a spoon until it's thicker than dosa, but a little thinner than uthappam. Drizzle a few drops of oil around and cover.

5. Flip over and cook until done (about 3-4 minutes per side). Be careful that the pan is not too hot or else the adai won't be cooked through by the time it browns!

Serve warm with coconut chutney or any other desired chutney. Enjoy!

This power packed adai is off to dear Srivalli for her awesome dosa mela!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Coconut-Onion Chutney (Thengai Vengayam Chutney)

This chutney is one that my cousin's wife made on her first visit to our place. I will admit that I'm not the biggest fan of coconut chutney, but this conconction totally won me over!

Coconut is combined with tamarind, red chillies, and seasoned with the special addition of fried onions. Absolutely a gorgeous mix of flavors and a very versatile chutney. Try it and see what you think!


Coconut, grated - 1 cup
Fried gram dal (pottu kadalai) - 2 tbsp
Tamarind - small gooseberry size
Red chillies - 10, or to taste
Salt to taste

For seasoning:

Curry leaves - 8-10 leaves
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Red onion - 1/2 small, chopped or 1 shallot chopped
Asafoetida (perungayam) - pinch
Red chillies - 2, broken


Grind together coconut, red chillies, salt, tamarind, fried gram dal to a smooth paste. Heat oil in a pan. Add red chillies, mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves. Once everything is roasted and the seeds have spluttered, add the onion. Fry until softened. Add the asafoetida and turn off the heat. Pour the seasoning over the ground chutney and serve with any tiffin items (idli, dosa, uthappam, etc). Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Garlic-Pepper Rice (Poondu Milagu Saadham)

By now, I'm sure that most of you know that I am a self-professed garlic addict! Needless to say, I was pretty psyched about this month's JFI hosted by Mathy with the theme of garlic.

I chose to make a variety rice dish that is really easy to throw together. The flavors of garlic and black pepper are complemented by green chillies, cumin, and curry leaves. You can have this rice done with only a few minutes of prep work.

The results?? Huge hit with us! It makes a perfect foil to most curries or dry items. Perfect for when you don't feel like bothering to make a huge, elaborate rice dish!


Basmati rice - 2 cups, washed, soaked in water for 20 minutes and drained
Freshly ground black pepper - 2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Frozen peas - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste

To grind to paste:

Garlic - 10 cloves
Green chillies - 10, or to taste

For seasoning:

Curry leaves - 6-8 leaves, chopped
Black peppercorns - 1 tsp


Heat oil in a pan. Add the peppercorns and let them sizzle. Now, add the curry leaves. When they've finished spluttering, add the ground paste. Fry until the raw smell is gone. Then, add the rice, cumin powder, pepper powder, and fry for a few seconds. To this, add 3 cups of water, peas, and required salt. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low and let cook until the rice is cooked and water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). Turn off the heat and let stand for another 10 minutes. Then, fluff with a fork and serve with side dish of your choice!

Gaaaarlicky goodness!!

We had this with pepper chicken and spinach. Enjoy!

Yes, I really used 10 cloves of garlic and it was awesome! Feel free to decrease per your taste, though.

Want more garlic? Check out my garlic avocado rotis!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cocoa Brownies

I know I've been missing for a little while. Unfortunately, I've been sick for the a few days and have not had any energy to bother with anything! Am doing a little better now and have been wanting to post this brownie recipe (modified from an Alton Brown recipe found here) for a while now.

These brownies are truly a decadent delight! They use cocoa powder and have a texture that's similar to flourless chocolate cake. So, if you're looking for chewy, fudgy brownies, this is not your recipe. The end product here will be cake-like with an intense chocolate flavor. Try them and you'll be in love!

Mansi, this is the recipe for the brownies I sent you, if you were wondering! :)


Butter and flour - to prepare baking pan
Eggs - 4 large
Sugar - 1 cup
Brown sugar - 1 cup
Melted butter - 8 ounces (2 sticks)
Cocoa powder - 1 cup
Vanilla extract - 2 tsp
Instant coffee powder - 1 tsp
All purpose flour - 1/2 cup
Salt - 1/2 tsp


1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Butter and flour 8 inch square baking pan, line with parchment paper (if desired) and keep aside.

2. Attach the whisk attachment in a stand mixer. Beat the eggs at medium speed until light yellow and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Don't overbeat the eggs or you could wind up with a mess!

3. Add the sugars and whisk to combine. Once combined, add all of the other ingredients and whisk again for about 2-3 minutes until well combined.

4. Pour batter into prepared 8 inch square baking pan and bake at 300 F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Cool on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes, then turn out of the pan and cool completely. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Yield: about 16 brownies.

Note: Wait until the brownies have cooled to cut them, or else the cut edges won't be as sharp. I know it's hard, but try to have some patience... Or just stand next to them and start eating pieces from a corner like I did!