Light !

May your inner light shine so bright year around, Happy Diwali !

Karikku payasam ( Tender coconut payasam )


Tender coconut pulp - 2 cups ( more the merrier)

Condensed milk - 14 oz ( 1 can)

Tender coconut water - 5 cups

White rice cooked - 1 ½ cup

Cooked tapioca pearls ( optional ) - 3 tbsp

Cardamom crushed - 2 pods

Pistachio crushed - ¼ cup

Coarsely chop the tender coconut pulp, keep aside. In a food processor grind the cooked rice till each grain breaks into 3-4 pieces. Take out half of the ground rice and then grind the remaining to a smooth paste. In a saucepan boil the tender coconut water,add the rice paste, semi ground rice, chopped tender coconut and tapioca pearls for 5 minutes with constant stirring. Add the condensed milk and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Turn off the heat, add crushed cardamom and pistachios. Serve chilled.

Happy Halloween !

Here is a stuffed mushroom recipe to scare you, Happy Halloween ! 

Stuffed mushrooms

White mushrooms - 24 nos

Minced chicken breast or minced beef or minced uncooked prawn - 1cup

Panko bread crumbs - 1 cup

Parmesan cheese grated - 3 tbsp.

Onions finely chopped - 1 cup

Garlic minced - 1 tsp.

Ginger ground - 1 tsp.

Fennel seeds crushed - 1/2 tsp.

Curry leaves finely chopped - 1 tsp.

Olive oil - 4 tbsp

Green chilli minced - ½ tsp or less

crushed black pepper - ½ tsp

Salt - to taste

Wash mushrooms, detach and reserve the stems. Pat the cleaned mushrooms dry on paper towels. Chop the mushroom stems finely. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a pan, sauté the onions till translucent . Add garlic, ginger, curry leaves, green chilies and fennel seeds, sauté for 2 more minutes at medium heat till the onion begins to turn golden. Now add the chopped mushroom stems, salt and sauté till the mixture dries up. Turn off the heat and keep aside. In a bowl mix minced chicken/beef or prawn with the sautéed onion mixture, ¼ cup panko bread crumbs and crushed black pepper . Mix and keep aside. Sprinkle the clean mushrooms with salt and toss the with 2 tbsp olive oil. Fill each mushroom with the prepared filling and arrange on a baking sheet. In a bowl mix panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the stuffed mushrooms and bake at 350C for 20 minute or till you see the mushrooms releasing moisture. As soon as the baking is done transfer the mushrooms to a another baking sheet so that the shrooms don't get soggy in the liquid released while baking

Soup for dinner

I love everything about fall season, the thousand shades of yellow everywhere, the lingering rain( which we are yet to see), and the wind whirling the fallen leaves around. There is so much going on in nature that I really need my time to sit and soak it all up :) , therefore I make this soup and call it dinner and sometimes lunch too. It really is a complete meal.

Mexican spiced chicken and rice soup


Corn kernels - ½ cup

Cooked black beans- 1/2 cup

Cooked brown rice- 1 cup

Boneless chicken small pieces  -1 cup

Onion chopped - ½ cup

Canned crushed tomatoes- 2 cups

Garlic, minced - 2 tbsp.

Cumin - ½ tsp.

Coriander powder - ½ tsp.

Cilantro, finely chopped - ¼ cup + more to garnish

Tomato paste- ¼ cup

Paprika - 1 ½ tbsp.

Black pepper - crushed - ½ tsp.

Salt - to taste

Celery seeds - ½ tsp

Lemon - 1

Oil - 1 tbsp.

To garnish


Sour cream

Cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend or Pepper Jack cheese grated

In a food processor grind the cooked rice till each grain breaks into 3-4 pieces, keep aside. Heat a sauce pan, add cumin, dry roast for 1 minute, transfer to a bowl, crush and keep. Heat oil in the same sauce pan, add onions and garlic and sauté till translucent. Add coriander powder and celery seeds stir well. Quickly add chicken pieces, some salt and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients along with the crushed cumin at this point followed by 6 cups of water, adjust the salt. Mix , cover and cook for 30 minutes at low heat. Gently stir, add the crushed black pepper followed by the juice from one lemon . If the soup gets too thick, add hot water to bring it to the desired consistency, readjust the salt. Mix well, serve hot topped with grated cheese, chopped cilantro, avocados and sour cream.

Serves a hearty meal for 4 people


Panchara palpayasam

I now officially enter the week of nostalgic ramblings, please bear with me. This Friday marks the day of Onam, the state festival of Kerala celebrating the glorious days of yore. Getting together with family and friends and sitting down to enjoy a splendid vegetarian feast known as ‘Sadya” served on a banana leaf marks an important part of the celebrations. There is also a sense of relief and restfulness in my head and a lingering sense at the back of my mind that now since the exams are over I will have more time for my meandering ways. This passing sense of ease is rooted on those days eons ago when as school children we all finished the term exams just before the Onam holidays began. I am never the one to let go off such peaceful thoughts ever , even if I am not writing exams any more !

Payasam is THE dessert of the Sadya spread, and there are many ways to make it using different ingredients. Here is an easy recipe for a timeless classic, Panchara palpayasam- a rice payasam flavored with sugar and milk and nothing else, made the easy way using a pressure cooker.

Panchasara pal payasam ( Made in a pressure cooker)

Rice - ( broken rose matta variety) - ½ cup

Sugar - ½ cup+ 2 tbsp.

Milk -3 cup

Water - 2 cup

Wash the rice, drain, mix with the rest of the ingredients in a pressure cooker. Lock the lid on ( keep the pressure regulator off) heat till you see small wisps of steam coming out of the vent pipe. At this point place the pressure regulator weight on the vent pipe. Now wait till you feel that the cooker is going to let out the first whistle. You will know it by instinct :), or keep an eye on the regulator weight, it will begin to shake a little. Now turn the heat to low and focus on doing something else. Come back to the pressure cooker 45 minutes after and turn off the stove. Open the pressure cooker after another 30 minutes or so, after letting out any residual steam. This payasam tastes best when served at room temperature. I love it chilled as well.

Cherry almond cake

This cake is too good to be existing, really ! Whole wheat flour, cherries, whole almonds, and a no stress mixing method, but the result is a moist and tender cake which is served best with a cup of black tea.
Cherry almond whole wheat cake

Whole wheat flour - ½ cup

Whole almonds - ½ cup

Softened butter - ½ cup

Sugar - ¼ cup

Baking powder- 1 tsp.

Eggs -2

Vanilla extract - 1 tsp.

Pitted cherries - 20-25 nos

Confectioners sugar ( Optional) - 1 tsp.

Mix baking powder and whole wheat flour gently with a wire whisk.. Pulse whole almonds with 1 tsp sugar till coarsely ground, add to the flour mix, mix again with a wire whisk. In a large bowl, using a wire whisk beat butter, remaining sugar and eggs together till it is combined ( 3-4 minutes), slowly add the flour mix and gently combine with a wooden spatula. Pour into a greased and floured 9 inch tart pan. Evenly arrange cherries on top, bake at 325 C for 20 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a skewer, it should come out with tender crumbs attached. Serve dusted with confectioners sugar.


Happy 4th !

To the country I have come to love, more by each passing year, HAPPY BIRTHDAY !

Mascarpone- berry custard tart

Almond tart shell

All purpose flour-1 ½ cup

Almonds-3/4 cup

Sugar- ½ cup

Salt - 14/ tsp.

Softened butter-9 tbsp.

Egg yolk - 1

Grind almonds with sugar in a food processor till coarsely ground. Add rest of the ingredients and pulse till the dough comes together and not more. Press the dough evenly on a tart pan, cover with cling wrap and freeze for at least 2 hrs. Pre-heat oven to 350C. Remove the cling wrap from the frozen tart shell, line the shell with Aluminum foil, arrange pie weights or dried beans on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, bake for another 12-15 minutes or till the shell is golden brown. Cool completely on kitchen counter.

Mascarpone custard

Mascarpone cheese - 1 cup

Milk - 2 cups

Egg yolks -2

Corn starch - 3 tbsp.

Vanilla bean - 1

Sugar - ¾ cup

Unflavored gelatin - 1 tbsp.

Mix milk, eggs and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add vanilla bean, gelatin and sugar and cook in medium heat with constant stirring till the custard thickens. Remove the beans, scrape seeds and add it to the custard. Mix well, cover and refrigerate for 2 hrs.


Chopped strawberries- 1½ cup

Blue berries - ½ cup

Berry jam -2 tbsp.

Keep the prepared fruits in a bowl. Microwave jam to loosen it. Mix with fruits, refrigerate.

Assembling the tart

Remove the tart shell from the pan. Keep on a serving plate, fill the shell with the cooled custard, arrange berries on top. Drizzle some more of the cooled custard on top. Refrigerate for 6 hrs. or more before serving.

Egg pulav for the understocked

This egg pulav is for people like me, whose unrelenting enthusiasm to cook something special for dinner is only matched by their abundant reluctance to go grocery shopping. When faced with empty refrigerators, we dream the impossible, set our bars too low, and go about treading territories uncharted. Mostly we are lost, but at times there is a surprise. This egg pulav is one. I made it for the first time when the only vegetable that was in sight was a big and forlorn onion.
Like you, I also understand the importance of including a lot of vegetables in the diet, here is how I tackle it. After I make this egg pulav, I will ring up T to gently announce that the dinner is ready and most politely ask if he will have time to stop at the grocery shop to buy some cucumbers and carrots and yogurt (may be?) to make a raita rich in vegetables. The moment something close to a nod is conveyed, a three page shopping list is emailed. This is a recipe that works :) ,every single time.

Egg pulav


Eggs boiled and peeled - 6 nos

Basmati rice - 4 cups

Green chilies chopped - 1/2 tsp.

Onion , thinly sliced - 1 ¼ cup

Curry leaves - 10 nos

Very finely chopped cilantro leaves - 2 tbsp. ( optional)

Lemon juice - 1 1/2 tbsp.

Ghee- 1 tsp.

Crushed cardamom - 6 nos

Cumin - ½ tsp.

½ tsp. clove powder

½ tsp. cinnamon powder

¼ tsp. nutmeg powder

Veg oil - 1 tbsp. + for frying onion (~½ cup)

salt -½ tsp + to taste

Wash basmati rice, soak in water for 10 minutes, drain and keep. While the rice is getting drained heat 1 tbsp. oil in a vessel large enough to cook the rice. When the oil is hot, add ¼ cup sliced onions, spices, curry leaves, chilies and salt. Sauté under low heat till the onions are translucent but not browned ( takes 3-4 min) . Add 6 cups of water to the sautéed mix, followed by the drained rice. Mix well, adjust the salt if needed. Bring the water to a rolling boil at high heat. Now cover the vessel with lid, bring the heat down to low, and cook covered for 12 minutes. While the rice is cooking heat the remaining oil and fry/deep sauté 1 cup onions till golden brown, drain on paper towels. In the same oil sauté cashew nuts and drain on paper towels. To the hot oil, roll in the eggs one by one and roast for 1-2 minutes, till the eggs are browned, drain on paper towels. Discard any remaining oil after it cools down. When the cooking time for the rice is over, remove the lid, add lemon juice, ghee, nuts, chopped cilantro and fried onions, fluff the rice gently with a fork. Transfer immediately to the serving bowl and cover with a lid. Let the flavors blend for at least 15 minutes. Serve topped with the roasted egg with pickles and vegetable salad/raita on the side. Yields 6 servings


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