Palm Sunday treats

We went on a spring break trip to the Olympic Peninsula last week, got floored by the wonders of nature, and got back just in time yesterday to make “Kozhukattas”, the rice flour dumplings filled with jaggery sweetened coconut for celebrating Palm Sunday today.
Sweet Kozhukatta ( Coconut rice dumplings)

Rice flour – 2 ½ cups

Grated jiggery – 1 1/3cup
Coconut – 2 cups

Ground cumin – ¼ tsp

Ground dried ginger – ½ tsp

Cardamom powder – ¼ tsp

Salt – ¼ tsp

Hot water – 3 cups +

Oil -1 tbsp.

Mix grated coconut and jaggery in a pan, cook with constant stirring at medium heat, till the jiggery is melted and mixed thoroughly well with the coconut. Cook for 5 more minutes till the mixture is dry, at this point add cardamom, dried ginger and cumin powders. Mix well, turn of the heat.

Mix rice flour and salt in a large bowl, add the hot water while mixing with the handle of a wooden spoon to make very soft but lumpy dough. Allow the dough to cool enough for you to knead with your hands, a stand mixer with the dough hook attached works just as well. Knead till the dough is soft and pliable.

To make the dumplings. Make key lime sized portion of the dough. Make a deep thump print on the dough ball at the middle and work around it with your hands to make it bigger. Fill with 1 tbsp. of the coconut filling, and completely cover the filling by working the dough around it. You can smoothen the dumpling further by gently rolling it in your hands.


Simple strawberry verrine

Here is an easy dessert that you can serve to friends no matter how awesome they are !

Fruit Verrine


Recipe here. Cut the cake into rounds fitting the dessert cups you have. You need two cake rounds per /serving. I usually slice the 9X13 sheet cake into two layers before punching the circles out

Thin custard

1 ½ cups milk
1 cup water
1 egg yolk
½ tbsp. corn starch
 ¼ cup sugar
 ¼ tsp vanilla essence

Blend all ingradients together and cook at low heat with constant stirring till the mixture bubbles plus one minute. Cool down, do not refrigerate. Add 1 tbsp. rum if you will

Thin fruit syrup

1 cup strawberry jam
2 cup water
1/2 tsp gelatin
2 tbsp rum ( optional)
Mix all ingredients together in a blender and warm in a sauce pan till the mixture looks clear. Cool down, do not refrigerate.


Finely chopped banana and strawberry – 3 cups

Whipped cream

Whip 2 cups of cream with ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar till soft peaks form

Putting it all together:

Take two cake circles. Keep the first one in the dessert cup and add the thin fruit syrup till the cake is soaked. Arrange the fruit pieces on top and keep another cake circle on top, gently press down. Spoon some thin custard over to soak the cake. The custard will take some time to seep in , wait 10-20 minutes before proceeding to the next step. Top with whipped cream and level with a spatula. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hrs. Decorate with thin strawberry slices

I have made 12-36 individual servings out of the measurements given here, depending on the size of the serving glass used

Hello spring !

When spring gently tiptoes in, there is no denying it. Almost every tree here is in bloom, air is brisk, and I sneeze twice for every word I speak. Hello spring, also hello Zyrtec !
Last weekend I was going through some of the food photographs I have taken in the past couple of years. Most of these pictures were hastily taken and therefore much begs to be focused in many. There were also a couple of photos of some of my favorite desserts, here is one. This is a version of the delicate “Pastel de Tres Leches”, the three milks cake. The milk mixture for this recipe has whole milk,coconut milk and condensed milk instead of the classic combination of condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream. I have made this cake many times over but managed to take pictures apparently only once, and that was two years ago in summer when Petunias were in bloom. 

Coconut Tres Leches cake
2 1/2 cups - all purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons - baking powder

1/4 teaspoons - salt
1 ½ cups - sugar

½ cup - butter

2 - eggs

1 teaspoon -vanilla essence

1 1/4 cups -water

Milk mixture

1 can -condensed milk

1 cup -milk

1 cup -coconut milk

½ tsp -rum flavoring

¼ tsp -cardamom powder


1 ½ cups-Whipping cream

¼ cup-Confectioners sugar

Assorted fruits chopped

Toasted coconut flakes ( dry roast the coconut flakes in a pan over low heat)

Mix all ingredients for the milk mixture, refrigerate till use.

Lightly butter and flour a 9x13 pan. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, keep aside. Cream butter and sugar together till light and fluffy ( 4-5 min). Add eggs one by one, and mix till the mixture is creamy. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture in three batches alternating with water till everything is thoroughly combined. Add vanilla, mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, bake at 325C for 25-30 minutes. Check doneness using a wooden skewer, it should come out clean

Once the cake is done, quickly unmold to a serving plate ( keep the cake upside down, it will give you a flat surface to decorate), press lightly so that the cake sits even. Poke holes all over the cake with a skewer stick. While the cake is still hot, spoon the milk mixture over the cake and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs. If you see any milk that seeped through, spoon it over the cake.

Whip cream with confectioners sugar till soft peaks form. Spread or pipe over the cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes and assorted fruits, serve chilled

Quick Mango Phirni

I have hit upon a writer’s block :) This I presume is due to the thirty eight sentences I wrote in this bog in the past one month. This too shall pass, but for now here is a recipe for a quick “phirni”ish dessert, a flash drama in leftovers.

1 cup - leftover cooked rice straight out of the fridge

3/4 cup - ripe mango chopped

¼ cup - condensed milk

2 tbsp. - crushed/shaved almonds

Cardamom powder - a pinch

The rice needs to be cold to get the right texture for the dessert. In a food processor pulse rice and mangoes with 1/ 4 cup water till the rice is coarsely ground (aim for the cooked grain to be chopped into 5-6 pieces). Transfer the ground mixture to a bowl, add condensed milk, cardamom powder and almonds. Mix well, refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. I love to serve it with more toasted nuts and mango pieces on top. Pistachios work great in this recipe too.

Makes 6 shot glass servings + a little more


A very rustic flatbread

Some of the true gems of Indian cuisine are never to be found in restaurants, here is an example. This is akin to my child saying five times a day that “Amma you are the best ’. Has she made a study in comparison? No ! Do I doubt the genuineness of that statement for a split second,not a bit ! So all I am saying is, this rich in coconut, whole wheat flatbread made in a cast iron pan is a national treasure :). Just kidding, but it is really good.

This flatbread goes by the name “Roti” in my house, not overly helpful of a pointer I know. The whole wheat flour in the recipe is an absolute must and so is the requirement of a cast iron pan to make it. We used to get freshly ground wheat from the local flour mill back in the days, which was coarse, wholesome and just perfect for making this bread. 


Cast iron pan - You absolutely need it to make it

Whole wheat flour - 1 ½ cup

Grated coconut - 1 cup

Coarsely crushed cumin - 1/2 tsp.

Coconut oil - 2-3 tbsp.

Salt - ¼ tsp.

Water- to make the dough and also for shaping the bread

Mix whole wheat flour with salt,grated coconut and cumin. Make a soft and sticky dough by adding  1 to 1 1/4 cup water. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Spread some oil on the cast iron pan and heat. When the pan is ready ( sprinkle some water, it should sizzle),take one portion of the dough and place it right at the middle of the pan. Using your hand dipped in cold water, spread the dough to a 1/4 inch thick round. Cook at high heat till the edges of the bread looks cooked - the center will still look uncooked. At this point sprinkle about ½ tsp coconut oil on top of the bread, and turn over. Turn the heat to low, and cook the bread till it is is fully cooked through ( about 4 minutes). Quickly turn the bread and cook for 1 more minute in the other side. Serve immediately with any curry you happen to have in stock or as an over indulgence involving even more coconut, with a crushed coconut chutney. The chutney is made by pulsing ¼ cup grated coconut with one green chilly, 2 curry leaves, ⅓ tbsp chopped ginger, and a pinch of salt together in a food processor.


Kale !!

Here is some poetry for you.

Kale I may,
eat some day.
But hey,
that day was yesterday!

The end

 Raw kale thoran
A thoran is a Kerala style mildly spiced stir fry of vegetables seasoned with plenty of  grated coconut. This recipe veers slightly off the course since kale here is not cooked, would have never told you about this otherwise :) Cooked kale is not my pal, don't tell anyone.

Kale very finely chopped - 4 cups

Carrot finely chopped - ¼ cup

Beetroot finely chopped - 2 tbsp.

Grated fresh coconut - 1 cup

Mustard seeds - 1 tsp.

Cumin - ½ tsp.

Turmeric - ¼ tsp.

Green chilies chopped ( optional ) - ½ tsp.
Garlic minced - 1/2 tsp.

Lemon juice - 1 tsp.

Olive oil or coconut oil - 1 tbsp + 1 tsp.

Salt to taste

Add 1 tbsp. olive oil, lemon juice and salt to the chopped kale. Mix well with your hands, pressing the Kale down frequently for 2-3 minutes. Toss in the finely chopped beetroot and carrot, mix well and keep aside. Heat 1 tsp. oil in a small pan. When the oil is hot , add mustard seeds, wait till it stops spluttering. Add cumin, green chilies and  garlic, stir fry for a couple of seconds. Add coconut, some salt and ¼ tsp. turmeric,mix well. Turn the heat off. Sprinkle the seasoning over the marinated kale mixture in the bowl. Toss with a wooden spatula, pressing down firmly. Keep covered for 5 minutes before serving

The Arthinkal Dal

Okay there is no such thing, I just made it up, easy !

If you ask a random lot of people from India what their comfort food is and jot down all the answers, you will notice a rather high incidence of a three letter word. That word will be “Dal” which translates simply in to “lentils”. Dal is a preparation of lentils, a collective name for a simple sustenance accompaniment to rice or roti and to many the fondest remembrance of the way things were done in their homes. 
We have Dal recipes attributed to entire states, ethnic groups, villages and even households. That is why we have such culinary gems like “My Dal”, which must be just as good as “Your Dal” which in essence is your own take of your “Grandma’s Dal” which passed through a state of being your “Moms Dal” while you were growing up.

What we are talking about today is one such Dal out of the many million forms in which it exists and I am calling it “The Arthinkal Dal” :) which hopefully will convey the point that this recipe has its roots in Arthinkal, my hometown.

I am not quite sure if everyone in Arthinkal makes Dal this way, but my mother surely does and as a result I do too. We both love our quaint little village and so I have decided to commemorate :)

Happy weekend everyone !

The Arthinkal Dal

Split yellow lentil - 1 cup

Thinly sliced pearl onions - 2 tbsp.

Whole pearl onion - 2 nos

Curry leaves - 10 nos

Coconut oil - 4 tbsp.

Chilly powder - 1 tsp ( or to taste)

Salt - to taste

Cooking lentils for this recipe is the most important part of getting this curry right, along with the use of some good quality coconut oil. To achieve this add 2 ½ cups of water to the lentils along with the sliced pearl onions, 5 curry leaves and 2 pinches of salt. Heat the pan till the water comes to a rolling boil At this point, lower the heat to a minimum ,cover the pan with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes. You might want to check it after 10 minutes. When the lentils are ready for the next step it will be soft but still holding its shape. Remove the lid,using a wooden ladle mash about ¼ of the dal, adding some water if the mixture is dry. Crush whole pearl onions with the remaining curry leaves using a stone mortar . Add it to the cooked lentil along with the chilly powder. Turn the heat to high and cook for 2 minutes. Turn of the heat and add the coconut oil on top, cover with the lid,do not mix. Open the lid 5 minutes later, stir well and serve with rice


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