I have resolved,

to take everything easy, speak my head and not heart whenever required, make phone calls to my friends often enough to induce earnest irritation on the receiving end, keep the house as if we are having guests the next moment, get less embarrassed thinking about the possibility of getting embarrassed, and eat more soup than anything else in this brand New Year about to begin tomorrow.

We wish you all an exciting year ahead; live your life with zest, happy 2011 everyone !

crab cake1

crab cake2

Coconut crusted crab cakes


Cooked crab meat – 1 cup
Egg – 2
Boiled and mashed potatoes- ½ cup
Bread crumbs – 1 tbsp
Jalapeño skin chopped– 1 tbsp
Black pepper coarsely crushed -1/2 tsp
Green onion minced – 2 tbsp
Ginger minced – 1 tbsp
Garlic minced – ½ tsp
Fennel seeds crushed -1/8th tsp
Dried coconut flakes – 1 cup
Salt – to taste
Oil – for frying

Mix crab meat with 1 egg and rest of the ingredients except coconut flakes and oil. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Beat one egg. Spread the coconut flakes on a plate. Form small patties with the crab meat mixture, dip it in beaten egg, and roll in dried coconut, arrange on a plate. Heat oil in a frying pan and shallow fry the patties on both sides turning after each side is done. Drain excess oil on paper towels. Serve hot with chutney mayo or a dollop of sour cream. Makes about 20 small crab cakes.
Wish you a very merry Christmas !

Merry Christmas

May the love, peace and happiness of the season be with you.

Now you know where those wrapped little boxes went,don't you ?
Let there be lights !

Christmas lights from Peacock lane,Portland Oregon.
Baking !

Our Christmas week will come to you in pictures, here is one to show how the whole house is at work to keep things going !

The baker
Season’s sweet things – “You-know-what”

Gleeful happenings are taking place on the lower quarter of our Christmas tree, ornaments are constantly switching places and ribbons seem to be perennially on the move. A pink Dora whistle and a yogurt tub lid were found spending time on the tree for a while, before getting replaced with a scrubbing pad and a piece of chalk. Altogether it looks like so much Christmas fun for someone in the house!


I purposely decided not to start off this post mentioning fruitcake; you are still here, aren’t you? People from my home state are long known to pledge their allegiance to this cake perhaps from the time when British inspired bakeries began making the cake, substituting difficult ingredients like molasses with home made caramel syrup, adding on other spice favorites like shajeera, lavishing on cashew nuts, and skimping on candied fruits for good. Every Christmas we bake some, buy some, gift some, eat even more and then start off again in our relentless pursuit for making the best fruit cake ever. The journey is on and we all know that getting there is perhaps all the fun!


My favorite fruitcake recipe still is the most viewed post in this blog, so I think it is only fair to share one more. The Rum and raisin fruit cake gets its intense flavor and melt in the mouth texture from the boiled raisin puree used in the recipe. Always make sure that you bake the cake till the cake tester comes out clean with some crumbs attached to it. Also if you are using a dark surface cake pan, cover outside with Aluminum foil to prevent over browning of the cake during the prolonged baking time.

fruitcake3 copy

Rum and raisin fruitcake

Granulated sugar 1 ½ cups + ½ cup
Butter ¾ cup
Eggs 2
All purpose flour 2 ½ cups
Baking powder 2 tsp
Ground cloves ½ tsp
Ground nutmeg ¼ tsp
Ground Shajeera 1 tsp
Salt ¼ tsp
Orange extract ½ tsp
Rum ¼ cup +1/4 cup+ 2 tbsp
Raisins 2 cups + 2 cups
Chopped cashew nuts 1 cup

Raisin Puree
Cook 2 cups of raisins with 1 cup of water, and ¼ cup of Rum with occasional stirring till the raisins are very tender. Cool the mixture, blend to a fine puree adding just enough water to get the blender going if needed.

Caramel syrup
Mix ½ cup sugar with 2 tbsp water in a sauce pan, turn on the heat, and mix well till the sugar dissolves. Now stand back and wait for the sugar syrup to start caramelizing, mix with a wooden spatula till the syrup turns deep golden brown. Turn the heat to low, add ½ cup water ,increase the heat a bit with constant stirring till all sugar clumps dissolve. Cool and refrigerate up to 1 week.

Soaking fruits
Soak 2 cup raisins in ½ cup orange juice+ ½ cup water+ ¼ cup rum for 1-2 days in the refrigerator (Or microwave the mixture (without rum) for 4 minutes, add the rum and soak for 4-6 hours). Drain off the excess liquid before adding fruits to the batter.

Heat oven to 325 degree F, grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan

In a bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt, and spices with a wire whisk.

Cream butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes, add eggs, orange extract, spices, caramel syrup and continue creaming for 2 more minutes. Add the raisin puree and flour mixture alternating between the two, mixing very well after each addition. Add soaked raisins, chopped nuts and mix well with a wooden spoon. Spoon the batter (it will be very thick, you may add a couple of tablespoons of water to the batter if and only if it is needed, otherwise the fruits will sink to the bottom of the cake) into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hr and 30 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake come out clean with a few crumbs on it. Start testing after 1 hr 15 minutes. Keep the cake on a wire rack to cool down for 20 minutes. Invert the cake, brush it with 2 tbsp of rum (optional) and let the cake rest for a day before serving. Store at room temperature for up to 7 days, refrigerate for up to a month

Packed !

pic 036 copy
Season’s sweet things – Indian spice cookies

It is the season again, my favorite of all times. As we begin December, I am not craving for sunshine or missing the crisp air of autumn, I have only Christmas in my head for now, and that is where I will stay for the rest of this year. I try to do everything early enough, so that I can kick the kitchen apron off, bunch up icing tips, tuck away rolling pins, brush all purpose flour off every surface in the house, and relax as we get close to Christmas day. That never seems to happen, I go like a spinning wheel come December, till about Christmas Eve when everything suddenly settles, and serenity comes back with such a force that I will not ever have it in any other way at any time in my life! There, I said it!

masala cookie1

Now I dare you all to make a batch of these cookies I loved to hate growing up. My attitude has mellowed ever since, this year I am even making some to include in the goodie basket for friends, a few of them are probably in for a surprise. Hidden behind the deceptive appearance of a crumbly butter cookie lurks an inner self perked up with some good amount of chilly powder and garam masala. A couple of bakeries in my home town used to spice these cookies up so high that your lips will burn for some good number of minutes after you ate one. When you adjust the heat level to fit your tolerance, you will see that these cookies are delectable in a different way.

masala cookie2

Masala/Spice Cookies

All purpose flour 3 ¾ cup
Butter 1 ¾ cup
Confectioners sugar 1 ½ cup
Cashew nuts, finely chopped 1 cup
Garam masala 1 ½ tsp
Chilly powder 2 tsp
Ginger paste 1 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp

Heat oven to 350 degreeC. Soften butter with a wooden spoon, add the rest of the ingredients and make smooth dough with the help of a wooden spoon or a hand mixer. Do not over work the dough, if it gets sticky refrigerate for 20 minutes. Make 1 inch balls of the dough and arrange on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes or till the edges begin to brown. Immediately transfer cookies along with the parchment sheet to a wire rack. Cool, store in air tight container for up to a week.

Makes approximately 70 cookies

Optional : Decorate with edible gold dust to fit the season.

masala cookie3
Felt - the stuff memories are made of

Felt ornaments

To make these felt ornaments you will need

Stiff felt
Star cookie cutter
Assorted buttons
A discerning three year old to glue stuff together
The winner is ....

A BIG THANK YOU to all of you for stopping by and leaving precious comments in my previous post, I am sending you all my love and friendship. I used random line picker to pick the luckiest. The winner of the all –things-good - gift basket is ….


Dalia, please send me an email (spicyana at gmail dot com) with your postal address.

Now Christmas begins……
Allow me to say…..


to all my readers for being very nice to me. It has been more than 4 years since I jotted down my first blog post in a moment of passing curiosity. This blog has gone through bouts of hyperactivity, stretches of inaction and everything in between ever since. But for some reason beyond my brain, you have decided to stick with me, choosing to visit, even when this space was dormant for over a year. Such gracious acts should be remembered, and I will.


This post will be open for comments till the end of this month. The winner will be randomly picked, and will be announced here on Dec 1st.

Wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving and a relaxing long weekend. Try not to fret over your turkey, will you? We are going to take it easy, and visit our pals over the long weekend, so lots of chatter is assured to be on the table. Have a very nice time folks, and please enter your name for the drawing.

Here is a recipe for a sort-of – Indian -inspired-cottage pie – (but made with chicken instead) we made this weekend to ward off the cold weather blues.



Chicken pie with Indian spices

Potatoes – medium size – 4 nos

Cooked, shredded chicken – 2 cups

Green peas – ½ cup
Carrots-chopped – ¼ cup
Onion- chopped – 1 cup
Tomato- chopped -1
Garlic-minced – 1 tsp
Ginger –finely chopped -2 tsp
Jalapeno skin –chopped- 1 tbsp
Cilantro- chopped – ¼ cup
Turmeric – ¼ tsp + ¼ tsp
Paprika- 1 tsp
Black pepper –crushed – ¼ tsp+ ½ tsp
Cumin powder – ¼ tsp
Cardamom-crushed – 1 pod
Nutmeg powder – ¼ tsp
Cinnamon powder – ¼ tsp
Clove powder – ¼ tsp
All purpose flour – 2 tbsp
Coconut milk – ¼ cup
Oil – 2 tbsp + ½ tsp
Salt- to taste
Butter or cheese – 2 tbsp

Heat ½ tsp oil in a pan; when it is hot add ¼ tsp turmeric powder and ¼ tsp cumin powder, fry for a couple of seconds. Add coconut milk, stir well, and turn off the heat. Cook the potatoes, peel and mash with the coconut milk mixture prepared above, ¼ tsp crushed black pepper and salt to taste. Keep aside. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add chopped onion, ginger, garlic and jalapeño. Sauté till the onion pieces turn golden brown, add all other spice powders, all purpose flour and sauté for 1 more minute,. Add carrots, green peas, chicken pieces, tomato, and mix well. Cook covered at low heat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and add ½ cup water (or vegetable broth). Mix well, cook till the mixture thickens and all the water evaporates. Add chopped cilantro and mix.

Fill ramekins about 3/4th with the chicken mixture, and top with mashed potato. Fluff the mashed potato with a fork. Grate some frozen butter, or cheese over it. Bake at 375 oC for 20 minutes or till the potato layer turns crusty and gets golden brown specks
You can never eat just one

apple chips1

Apple chips are very easy to make, easier if you have a mandoline, but easy nonetheless. I have always used my knife for this purpose, but at times demand for the chips exceeds my supplying power, and my chopping skills go astray. If a certain someone in my household is reading this by chance, look no further to see what is in my wish list for this year’s Christmas. Wow, we are talking Christmas already, with due respect to all the months in the calendar, where did this year go?

apple chips2


Apples (like Gala or Pink lady or Granny smith) – as many as you like

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degreeF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If using a mandoline slicer, slice the whole apple into very thin rounds. If using a knife, it is easier if you halve the apple first, anchor the half on the flat side on a chopping board and slice lengthwise as thin as possible. Now arrange the pieces without overlapping on the baking sheet. Bake/dry for 1 hour in the oven. Check to see if the pieces are sticking to the paper. Loosen the pieces if necessary, dry for 10 more minutes or till the pieces are crispy. Enjoy!
A bowl of noodles for the weather

At the beginning of summer, which now seems was like eons ago; I picked up a weakling of a lemon grass plant from a garden sale. No aspirations were harbored about brewing pots of flavored soup, liberally distributing bundles of the herb to my friends, freezing some to survive the winter or even selling some lemon grass to get rich fast ! All we wanted was to see if the plant will fare in our back yard, may be setting forth a leaf or two on the go, which will be put to good use in a soup. But as life will have it, we were able to do everything I have listed above except for the getting rich part, for which it turns out that we will have to wait!!

noodle cup

The plant is still going strong despite the weather getting colder. If it fails to come back next spring it will still be alright with us, the plant has served us enormously well already, I will be buying one again next year.
noodle cup2

This season brings steamy hot noodle bowls to our table once again, with a plentiful supply of lemon grass at hand; we have been making this favorite yellow curry noodle dish very often.

Yellow curry noodles recipe

*You can cook the noodles and make the sauce ahead of time and keep it refrigerated. Before serving, keep the noodles in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain. Heat up the sauce in a microwave oven. Then serve with freshly stir fried vegetables and meat

Rice noodles (any width) - 8 oz
Sliced mixed vegetables - 3 cups
Quick yellow curry paste - made using the recipe given below
Thinly sliced boneless chicken pieces - 1 cup
Chopped Thai basil - 4 tbsp + for garnishing
Chopped green onion - 2 tbsp + for garnishing
Chopped cilantro - for garnishing
Corn flour - 1 tbsp
Coconut milk - 2 1/2 cups
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Lemon grass leaves - 3 leaves made into a knot
(or chopped stalk – 2 tbsp)

Yellow curry paste

Cumin - 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder - ½ tbsp
Ginger - 4 tbsp
Lemon zest (optional) - ½ tsp
Fish sauce - 1 ½ tsp
Brown sugar - 1 tsp
Chopped cilantro - ¼ cup
Turmeric - ¼ tsp
Cinnamon powder - a pinch
Lemon grass stalk chopped - 2 tbsp
White pepper - 1/2 tsp
Green onion chopped - 2 tbsp

Grind all ingredients together in a blender adding just enough water to make a smooth paste. You will need to use the entire recipe of the paste for this noodle dish, but you can easily scale up the recipe and freeze it for future use. Spread the paste in half inch thickness on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 2 hours. Peel the parchment backing off; break the frozen paste into pieces and store frozen in a zip lock bag. When you need it you can simply take out the required number of pieces.

Preparing the noodle bowl

Boil 5 cups of water in a sauce pan. Add the dry rice noodles, cover with a lid and turn off the heat. After 20 minutes, drain the water, spread the noodles on a plate, and keep covered.

Heat ½ tsp oil in a pan, add the curry paste and corn flour, fry the paste for a minute with stirring, add 2 cups of water, stir very well to break apart clumps, add a bundle of lemon grass leaves (or chopped stalk) and cook till the mixture starts to thicken. Then add 2 1/2 cups of coconut milk. Taste the sauce and adjust salt. Turn of the heat. Add 2tbsp of chopped green onions, and 2 tbsp of chopped Thai basil. Before serving, reheat the sauce if needed and discard the knot of lemon grass leaves if using.

Thinly slice vegetables and keep aside (carrots, broccoli, choy, bell pepper, zucchini etc.) Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add ½ tsp sugar, when the color turns to golden brown add chicken pieces and stir fry at high heat at for 4 minutes. Now toss the pieces with soy sauce. Add vegetables, ½ tsp of crushed ginger, 2 tbsp of chopped basil and stir fry for 5 minutes or till the vegetables are just about tender. Taste and adjust the salt.

To serve, arrange some noodles on a bowl, ladle ¾ cup of sauce over, and top with stir fried vegetables. Sprinkle with some chopped green onions, cilantro, and Thai basil.Serve hot.

Serves 4.
Spaghetti squash thoran


What else do you think we made with some spaghetti squash we had? THORAN! The quintessential everyday meal dish served with rice in Kerala and in many other Indian states, yet so unfairly denied a place in Indian restaurant menu cards. Versatility makes this dish popular, with a miniscule amount of creative thinking thrown in; you can make perhaps ten different thorans based on a head of cabbage! I am not saying anything further.



Thoran recipe
Spaghetti squash strands prepared – 3 cups
Cooked beans (Moth beans/Mung beans/Cowpeas) – 1 cup
Grated coconut – ¾ cup
Green chilies minced – ½ tsp (or less)
Onion chopped – ¼ cup
Cumin seeds – 2 pinches
Garlic – one clove, minced
Curry leaves – 10-15 nos
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Salt – to taste

Spread the prepared spaghetti squash on a chopping board and make several cuts with a knife to shorten the strands. Crush the grated coconut in blender adding turmeric and green chilies, or with a wooden spoon thoroughly mix the three ingredients in a bowl. Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds. When it stops spluttering add chopped onion, chopped garlic, cumin and curry leaves. Cook at medium heat till the onion pieces are translucent. Add the prepared spaghetti squash and salt. Mix very well, till all the clumps break up. Add the beans and mix again. Turn the heat to low and add the crushed coconut mixture. Mix well, cover the pan with a lid and cook at low heat without stirring for 6- minutes. Serve with rice.

How to prepare spaghetti squash ?
Spooky sights in the neighborhood…

Our carved pumpkin reflecting the family’s general attitude towards the world


Dead leaves leave their marks everywhere, you only have to look close enough....

Have fun !
Diwali treat -Spaghetti squash halwa

Diwali is around the corner, many million lights will illuminate the Indian subcontinent in a week’s time, celebrating the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and life over death. This is also the time to be in India, if you are a connoisseur of fine Indian sweets, sweet shops offer their best, and households make the most compared to any other time of the year. To celebrate this season of mirth and indulgence I made some halwa with that squash which begs to be made into a halwa !

Happy Diwali

Spaghetti squash is your friend, if you wish to make a halwa like you do with the carrots-ie by starting off with grating it. All you need to do with this one is to microwave ( boil/bake) it, and then with a fork, score the flesh out. Thin spaghetti like threads you get, could easily be made into a halwa. Sources inform me that I could use these cooked squash threads as fake spaghetti when I go on a no-starch diet. I will not get there that fast, but knowledge is power!

Happy Diwali2

Spaghetti squash halwa

* Tastes like a cross between a crunchy Agra peda and moist pumpkin halwa.

Preparing the squash
Cut the squash open horizontally into two pieces. Remove the innards with a spoon. Add two tbsp water to a microwave safe plate and keep the squash cut side down on it. Microwave at high heat for 6-8 minutes. Check for doneness by running a fork deep into the flesh. If strands are falling out, it is ready. Let the squash rest for 5 minutes before you work on it.

Now, run the fork lengthwise on the flesh and you will see it falling out as fine uniform spaghetti like threads. Scoop out all the flesh this way.

Making halwa

Prepared squash threads - 2 cups

Sugar - 1 1/4 cup

Milk - 1/4 cup

Water- 3/4cup

Butter/ghee - 2 tbsp

Slivered Almonds - 3/4 cup

Cardamom - seeds from three pods -powdered

Heat a pan and add almonds, roast with constant stirring at high heat for about 5 minutes or till the pieces begin to change color. Turn off the heat, when the pieces cool grind it into a fine powder using a coffee grinder or a blender

Mix water, milk and sugar in a pan. Boil till the sugar dissolves and a syrup forms, add squash, mix very well and cook covered for 10 minutes at medium heat. Then increase the heat to high and cook till the mixture thickens. Add butter/ghee and cardamom. When the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, turn the heat to low. Add almond powder in 4 batches, mixing very well in between to avoid forming lumps.

Line a baking tray with butter paper and spread the cooked mixture on top in about 1/4 inch thickness. After it completely cools down, keep the tray in freezer for 1/2 an hour. This helps in cutting through the threads easily. Cut into shapes, let it come back to room temperature and serve. You can serve hot halwa spooned in little cups when it comes out of the stove too. Make 12 healthily generous portions.

You can never say no…

to the urge to make pickles !

tomato chutney2

Pickles run in families, if you grew up with shiny little Horlicks bottles sitting around a well’s rim glaring at you, you will agree too. I cannot seem to stop pickling, while many are just ordinary some turns out to be very good enough to write home about. I literally do that- every single time when a pickle turns out good, I swiftly pass the recipe on to my mother. It is my way of telling her thank you, for passing the pickling gene on!

tomato chutney

Ripe tomatoes are easy to pickle using an Indian style recipe, you don’t have to worry too much about chopping, just cut them up, and throw into the pan, let the seeds be in there. When it cooks down to the tasty spicy mush, you will be thankful to the seeds for the added texture. The recipe that we have here is a good way to pickle cherry tomatoes if you so wish, clean them well and throw them in, no hassle about chopping and such. This pickle fares really well as a dip for some crusty bread, thanks to the olive oil in the recipe.

tomato chutney3

Tomatoes - roughly chopped – 5-6 lbs
Garlic – chopped – 1 cup
Ginger julienned – 1 ½ cups
Jalapeño- chopped – ½ cup
Curry leaves – ½ cup
Mustard seeds – 1 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds – ½ tsp
Olive Oil - 1 cup
Vinegar – 1 cup
Brown sugar – 1 tbsp

In a thick bottomed large sauce pan (preferably a Dutch oven), heat 1 tbsp olive oil. When the oil is hot add mustard seeds, when the seeds finish spluttering add brown sugar quickly followed by fenugreek seeds, garlic, ginger, jalapeño and curry leaves. Stir well and cook for about 5 minutes at high heat. Turn the heat to low and add tomatoes, and salt, stir well and cook with occasional stirring till most of the water evaporates and the mixture begins to turn thick ( This could take 1/2 to 1 hr depending on the tomatoes used) At this point, increase the heat and cook with constant stirring till the mixture begins to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add vinegar, stir very well, and add the remaining olive oil. Cook for 2 more minutes at high heat. Turn of the stove and let the pickle cool down. Store at room temperature for up to a month or keep refrigerated for long term storage.
Apricot tarts for a rainy day

Days now resemble the kind of days I was used to for a long time, sun rises around 6.3am and sets by about 7 pm, and this rings a vague bell of normalcy in my head. This will not last long, it happens during a short window of time before it gets too cold and too rainy in fall. I am an early riser, I love it when the world sleeps around me when I gleefully make my first cup of tea, and splatters it in the microwave only because I was 20 seconds too late to get it out. Now when I look through the window at 6am in the morning, the world suddenly turns into a flat familiar landscape, no matter where you are you are in the same place!


What else I see when I look out of my window on a rainy Saturday morning? The color purple, that too lots of it, thanks to perennial verbena plants blooming in this glum weather as if they are on a mission. To make the most of everything, I suddenly decide to bring some of those flowers in, and bake an open face tart to fill our kitchen with warmth and color.


A tip on storing left over puff pastry sheets

I usually cut the leftover puff pastry sheets into squares or rounds, arrange it on a baking sheet lined with parchment and freeze for about 1 hour, then transfer it to a Ziploc bag to store it in the freezer. This helps me to pull out just the right amount to use at a time. No heartbreaks over over indulgence you see! To thaw, arrange the rounds on a baking sheet; keep on the kitchen counter for 10 minutes, before using.


Decided to send the first photo for the October-DMBLGiT event hosted by My Diverse Kitchen. Thank you for hosting, Aparna.

Open face apricot tarts

Puff pastry base, cut into 2-3 inch rounds or squares 12
Apricots (thinly sliced) 4
Sugar 3/4 cup
Crushed toasted nuts ¼ cup

Arrange the puff pastry cutouts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of sugar to reach all of it evenly. Arrange the apricot slices in an overlapping fashion ( 6-8 nos/base). Dust with the remaining amount of sugar on top. Bake at 400 degree C for 12-15 minutes till the base is puffed up and begins to brown around the edges.

Making a fondant ribbon rose

A fondant ribbon rose is an easy sugar flower to make, classy enough to adorn a wedding cake or sufficiently playful to sit atop a toddlers Birthday cake. Even without much practice you can make one flower per minute from pre-cut fondant ribbon. I made all the flowers for Sarah’s Birthday cake while watching a movie. You just can’t beat that convenience!

ribbon roses-cupcake

Two slightly different methods of making these flowers are
here and here

ribbon roses-making
Our little girl turns three today...

Sarah Bday -2

Sarah Bday -3

Sarah Bday -3b
Pineapple mousse with a hint of rum

Homemade desserts used to be very simple in the times when I was a kid, payasams were made whenever an occasion called for celebration, custard was considered fancy, un-churned ice creams of varying degrees of toughness were all considered exceptional. For everything else, there were local bakeries and ice cream parlors to turn to, from cream horns to jelly rolls they got it all covered for us.

Pineapple pudding

On those days of simple living, only one fruit stood on its own as the whole dessert course for a non vegetarian feast in our neck of the woods, and that was not mango but pineapple! A piece of pineapple served along with Biriyani on some social functions hinted that no ice creams will be served thereafter. The fruit seemed like a perfect ending for the feast packed with a riot of flavors. Even now, I couldn’t agree more!

Pineapple pudding-closer

Pineapple mousse with a hint rum – Egg less and super easy!

Pineapple pudding-closest

Pineapple – 1 can (10-12 oz)

Evaporated milk – ½ cup

Sugar – 1 cup

Confectionary sugar -1/2 cup

Heavy whipping cream 2 cups

Caramelized almonds – 1 cup (recipe follows)

Plain gelatin – 1 ½ tbsp

Artificial rum extract – ½ tsp (optional)

To prepare nuts, caramelize 2 tbsp of sugar in a thick bottomed pan. When the color turns to golden brown turn off the heat and add 1 cup of thinly sliced almonds. Mix with a fork to coat the nuts with caramel. Spread on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Crush with hands when cooled. Store up to a week in an airtight container.

Puree pineapple along with the syrup in a blender till very smooth. In a thick bottomed vessel combine 1 cup of sugar with pineapple puree. Cook till the mixture boils; keep boiling for 5 more minutes with constant stirring. Add evaporated milk, stir well. Dissolve gelatin in 3 tbsp of hot water, add to the pineapple mixture with constant stirring. Add rum extract, stir well, and turn off the heat. Let the mixture cool completely on the kitchen counter. When the mixture is at room temperature start whipping heavy cream with ½ cup of confectionary sugar , whip till soft peaks form. With a fork beat the pine apple mixture to break up lumps if any. Slowly fold in the whipped cream in 3-4 batches. Spoon the mousse into ramekins. Sprinkle with crushed caramelized nuts, chill for at least 6 hours before serving. Serves 12.

Ginger chicken wrap – Indian style

Life is keeping me busy this week; I will try my best to come up with an enormously boring drown-out post in a couple of days. Meanwhile just to keep you entertained, here is our favorite Indian style ginger chicken wrap recipe complete with chutney yogurt and a truck load of vegetables :)


Ginger chicken wrap

Flat bread (Naan/Chappathi/Lavash/Tortilla)

Baked spicy ginger chicken strips ( recipe follows)

Baked /grilled vegetables (Zucchini/egg plants/bell peppers etc.)

Onions thinly sliced

Tomatoes, sliced

Lettuce, chopped

Cilantro/Jalapeno /green onion, finely chopped (optional)

Chutney yogurt (recipe follows)

Lemon (Optional) - to taste

Layer vegetables and chicken pieces on the flat bread, sprinkle with chopped herbs, squeeze 1/4th of a lemon over if you wish, add a dollop of a chutney Mayo. Wrap it up and enjoy!


Baked ginger chicken strips

Boneless chicken strips (approximately 6x2 inch) 12 nos
Ginger chopped 3 tbsp
Jalapeno chilies (seeds removed) 2 nos
Cumin ¼ tsp
Salt ¼ tsp
Paprika (Optional) ½ tsp
Turmeric (Optional) ¼ tsp
Yogurt 1 tbsp

Grind all ingredients except chicken to make a fine paste. Rub the spice mix over chicken pieces, marinate for 20 minutes to over night. Preheat oven to 400oC. Arrange the chicken pieces on a wire rack kept on a baking tray. Bake for about 20 minutes or till the chicken pieces are cooked. Chicken pieces can be grilled too.

Chutney Yogurt

Green yogurt 1cup

Grated coconut (fresh/dry) 2 tbsp

Ginger paste ½ tsp

Crushed cumin ¼ tsp

Cilantro ¼ tsp

Salt To taste

Mix everything together in a bowl using a wire whisk, refrigerate till use, keeps well up to 1 day.

Lavender-Caramel Pots de Crème

I smell fall in the air, rains are back, looks like it is time to head indoors once again. Each season holds its own charm, but from a food blogger's perspective having pure natural sunlight around for more time is definitely an advantage. Summer is also a ‘props” bounty time, walk out and pluck a bunch of flowers and leaves from the patio or backyard and your photos shine!

Pots de-1

We are back from a short but invigorating stay with friends at the coast. I still hear the ocean in my head, but it is time to get back to the usual, what else could do the trick than making a simple no fuss comfort dessert perfumed with home grown lavender blossoms!

Pots de-2

Eggs 2 whole + 1 yolk
Evaporated milk 1 cup
Milk 1 cup
Sugar ¾ cup + 2 tsp
Dried lavender blooms ¼ tsp

Heat the oven to 325oC
Heat two tsp sugar in a thick bottomed pan till it is golden brown.

Turn the heat to low and add couple of tablespoons of milk, increase the heat and stir well till no caramelized sugar clumps remain.

Add the rest of the milk, evaporated milk and cook till the mixture boils, turn off the heat.

Add the lavender blooms; let it seep for about 10 minutes. Sieve the hot milk to remove the blooms.

In a bowl, beat sugar, eggs + yolk with a whisk, start adding the hot milk ¼ cup at a time beating thoroughly after each addition.

Divide the mixture between ramekins or Pots de Crème jars, till the ramekins are 3/4 th full. (Baby food jars works well too). Lift foam formed on the top using a clean paper towel or a spoon.

Keep the ramekins/jars in a casserole dish and keep in the oven. Pour hot water in the dish till the ramekins are about 3/4th immersed in water.

Bake for 30 minutes, remove from oven , let it cool at room temperature for half an hour, the Crème will be a bit wiggly in the middle, but it will set as it cools down.

Cover the crèmes with a plastic wrap and chill for 1-2 hours before you enjoy it.
We wish you all a very Happy Onam !

Making pazham ada from scratch

Five days from today, people in a green strip of land in southern India will sit down for a splendiferous vegetarian feast called “sadya”, served with great reverence on a banana leaf, fresh flower carpets called “pookalam” adorning their front yards, vivid memories of the season from years gone by floating in their heads. The rest of us from that place scattered around the globe, will scramble about to see if we can make at least one curry from the sadya fare, luckiest will find an Indian store nearby to gather everything they need to make the sadya, many will still prepare one no matter what, some will actually find fresh banana leaves, but all will be thinking of Onams gone by!! Regardless of where you are, if you have experienced an Onam before, you will surely be thinking about it, it is that kind of a season!


From here, I could go on a nostalgic rant (plenty of whiffs and sobs included) and make you flee from this blog instantly; instead I chose to make some ada from scratch for making a payasam for this year’s Onam and post a pictorial of sorts. . For beginners, ada in this context is a crushed up eggless flat rice noodle used for making payasam, the king of all desserts from my place. This is a melt in the mouth – oh-so –really –good – ada almost exclusively made of mashed ripe plantains, with just enough rice flour to hold everything together. The result is absolute plantain flavor explosion in every bite! Once you prepare the ada, you have two delectable options ahead of you, make ada pradhaman (payasam with jaggery) or prepare a pal payasam (with white sugar). I am making pradhaman for Onam, for the trial run I made some pal payasam.

If you are to make this the way it is traditionally made, you will dip your hands in batter, and with fingers pointing down, gently wave over a banana leaf which in turn will be rolled up and steamed. The batter in the traditional recipe is thinner than the one I used here, and could contain more rice flour than this recipe as well. I purposely decided to digress because
1) we are using parchment paper instead of banana leaf, less water in the batter is better.

2) I wanted this ada to be extra smooth and bursting with plantain flavor.

If you are planning to make this paysam, you still have enough time to do so. Making this will only take some 60 minutes out of your life. This freezes incredibly well, I have a batch in my freezer waiting for Onam as we speak.

Here you go, 1-2-3 !

step 1 copy

step 2 copy

step 3 copy

Making Pazham – Ada

Plantains (ripe, with plenty of black spots on the skin) or very ripe bananas – 5 nos
Unroasted rice flour – 3/4 cup
Ghee or clarified butter– 1 tsp

Peel plantains and puree till very soft in a blender, add ghee followed by rice flour 2 tbsp at a time, blending in between. Add some water to loosen the batter if it gets too thick. The batter should fall from the spoon in thick sheets when lifted.

Cut 30 cm x10 cm parchment paper pieces. Spread 4 tbsp of the batter on the paper, making it as thin as possible. An offset spatula is very helpful in doing this. Roll the paper tightly starting from the short side; keep the roll seam side down in a steamer. Repeat the same with the rest of the batter. Steam the rolls for 30 minutes. Let the rolls cool down for 20 minutes, peel the paper backing off. Chop the cooked ada sheets into thin pieces. Use fresh for making pradhamans or freeze up to a month. Before using in the paysam, crush some ada with your hands, so that some will break down into irregular pieces, which to me improves the ruggedly look of the payasam.

Pal Payasam

Ada – 3 cups

Milk – 10 cups

Sugar – 21/2 cups

Crushed cardamom – 4 pods

Long method
In a thick bottomed pan, melt sugar with ½ cup of water. When the syrup forms, add ada, cook with stirring for about 10 minutes. When the mixture thickens, add a cup of milk to loosen it. Add the rest of the milk, turn the heat to medium, and cook with occasional stirring till the milk reduces to about ¾ th of its initial volume. At this point turn off the heat, add crushed cardamoms and keep it covered. The payasam will thicken as it cools.

Quick method
Add all the ingredients to a pressure cooker. Keep on the stove in high heat till you see steam coming out of the vent. At this point keep the valve weight and turn the heat to very low/simmering mode. Cook for 40 minutes this way, occasionally lowering the heat if the cooker readies to blow a whistle. Open the cooker 20 minutes after turning the heat off. This is pretty much a hands off method, and the end result is just as good.

Ada Pradhaman

Ada – 3 cups
Brown sugar – 2 cups
Molasses – 1 cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Coconut milk – 2 cans (13 oz each)
Dried ginger powder – ½ tsp
Coconut slivers fried in ghee – ½ cup Optional

Mix molasses, brown sugar and ¼ cup water in a thick bottomed pan. Heat till the sugar melts, add ghee, ada and cook with constant stirring for 5-10 minutes. Mix 1 can of coconut milk with 3 volumes of water and add to the mix. Cook with stirring till the ada pieces are tender (~20) minutes. Add the remaining can of coconut milk, cook for 2 more minutes with constant stirring, and turn off the heat. Add powdered dried ginger and fried coconut pieces. Let it stand for 20 minutes for the flavors to blend.

• Substitute molasses and brown sugar with three cups of grated jaggery
• If using fresh coconut milk, use 6 cups of thin milk for the first step and 3 cups of thick milk for the second.


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