Off we go to coconut land !

This fall we will be walking around in flip flops, basking in the sun, strolling in verdant stretches of beaches,slurping on fresh coconut water every now and then to rev up our spirits. Not really but close ! We are off to Kerala for a month long vacation,although we surely will be walking around wearing flip flops ,this time it is all about spending most of our time driving back and forth on NH47, the main thoroughfare in my home state, shuttling between the preparations for two weddings in the family. My brother and T’s brother are both getting married.

We are looking forward to seeing most of our extended family this time and to facing all that comes with it :) We will be back in time for Christmas, until i see you all again, keep having fun. Here again is a cake, made for a friend’s baby shower.

A deep sea party!

sarah 4th-1

Our little girl who would like to be known hereafter as “BIG GIRL SARAH” celebrated her 4th birthday last week.

sarah 4th-3


She wanted a mermaid cake; I made one, turns out now that she had the deep sea princess Ariel in her mind. She is very happy about the cake I am assured, but the mermaid’s hair should have been the color red!


That is the fun with a 4th Birthday, you realize that your itsy bitsy, once flannel bound bundle of joy has a very detail oriented plan about everything !

sarah 4th-2

A quote from her favorite Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears a who describes it best.

"A person's a person, no matter how small."

ഓണാശംസകള്‍ !

Payasam Carrot -1

We wish you all a very Happy and Cheerful Onam , complete with a scrumptious sadya, replete with warm memories of the Onams past !

Payasam Carrot -2

If you feel like experimenting with the payasam you are making this Friday, here is a special something for you. This is a carrot halwa meets pal payasam kind of sweet stuff. You will process the carrots till it goes to an almost Halwa-ish stage, before taking a turn and swiftly adding it to a pot of pal payasam. I can only describe it aptly in Malaylam, a language I heavily rely on for speaking out what I really,truly and sincerely mean.

ക്യാരറ്റ് വിളയിച്ച പാല്‍ പായസം !

ഓണാശംസകള്‍ !
Payasam Carrot -5

Carrot rice pal payasam (Milk and rice pudding with carrots sautéed in ghee)


Milk – 10 cups
Water- 2 cups
Broken red rice – ¼ cup
Carrot - very finely grated – 5 cups
Sugar – 1 3/4 cup
Ghee- 1 tbsp
Cardamom – 4 pods
Cashew nuts – ¼ cup
Raisins – ¼ cup

In a non stick pan, mix grated carrot with ¼ cup sugar and ½ tbsp ghee. Cook with constant stirring at high heat, till the grated carrots dries up (about 10-15 minutes). Turn off the heat. You can do this step ahead of time, and keep the prepared carrot frozen until ready to use. In a pressure cooker, mix milk, water, rice and sugar. Close the lid, turn on the stove. When you see steam coming out of the valve, put the regulator on, keep in high heat for 2 more minutes. Turn the heat to low and leave the cooker undisturbed for the next 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and open the cooker after releasing the steam. Add the prepared carrots; turn the heat back on, cook with constant stirring at medium heat for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add cardamom powder. Heat ½ tbsp ghee in a small pan, add cashew nuts and raisins. Sauté till the nuts begin to turn golden brown. Add it to the payasam. Serve warm or cold.

Berry quick muffins!


Sarah’s school opens in sixteen days, that is about seven days to be precise, but sixteen because that is her favorite number for the past couple of days or so we are told. She is so looking forward to seeing her bosom pals again and to saying Hello to her teacher Ms. Charcie whom she plans to adopt someday.

Before we fall back into the school year routine (she is going to pre-school, I know we are not even half way there as far as routines go), we thought of catching up on necessary life sustaining skills and made some berry quick muffins together.

This is a recipe any three year old kid can make, with a little bit of help from adults. These muffins are only mildly sweet, superfast to put together, and splendid to eat warm out of the oven, with a dab of butter on top. We had so much fun making them, and my child says that she will be making it again.


Blueberry quick muffins


Whole wheat flour – 2 cups
Blueberries – 1 cup
Sugar – ½ cup
Salt – ½ tsp
Baking powder – 3 tbsp
Butter – ¼ cup- melted
Egg –slightly beaten – 1
Milk – 1 cup

Heat oven to 350C. Lightly butter a muffin pan (regular size/12 muffin cups per pan) Mix 1 ¾ cup of flour with baking powder, sugar and salt. Add milk, melted butter, and egg to the flour mixture. Combine everything together with a wooden spoon until just combined, do not over mix. Now sprinkle 1/4 cup flour over berries, gently toss to coat. Add the berries to the batter, gently fold in. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups till about 3/4th full. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or till a toothpick inserted at the center of the muffins comes out clean. Keep the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Unmold, serve warm with a dollop of butter or enjoy after the muffins cool down. 
Substitute blueberries with peaches, mangoes, other berries etc. 
This recipe is adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

Sweet potatoes (or is it yam?) and green peas curry


Can’t tell a sweet potato from a yam? I can’t either, you have company! Every year around Thanksgiving someone will brief me about how to and why, which I dutifully forget by the time spring arrives. One of the life lessons about vegetable curries that I have learned after moving here is that you are never actually limited by the options around you. You can make anything out of anything, that’s it, thank you!!! 


Here is a curry that we often make with sweet potatoes/yams assuming that these are pumpkins (where we live, pumpkins are not hard to find, I must add). This is made based on a simple “Mallu” logic that a curry concocted with ground coconut mixed in and topped with more toasted coconut cannot go wrong. Adding caramelized onions at the end makes it very special and sets it apart from the formidable Erissery.


Sweet potatoes cut into chunks – 4 cups

Cooked green peas – 2 cups

Onions chopped – ½ cup

Grated coconut – 3/4 cup + 1/2 cup

Green chilies – 2 nos (to your taste)

Cumin – ¼ tsp.

Curry leaves – ¼ cup

Turmeric – ¼ tsp.

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp.

Salt – to taste

Add sweet potatoes to a stew pot, sprinkle with half the amount of turmeric and ¼ tsp. salt. Add 1 ½ cups of water, mix well and cook till the pieces are tender. Then add the cooked green peas, adjust salt if needed, turn the heat to low. Grind 3/4 cup of coconut, green chilies, half of cumin and the remaining turmeric to a coarse paste. Add it to the cooked potatoes, and cook for 2 more minutes at low heat. Turn off the heat. Heat 1 tbsp. of Oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds. When the seeds stop spluttering, add chopped onion and sauté till golden brown. Now add the remaining 1/2 cup of grated coconut, curry leaves, cumin and toast till the coconut turns golden brown. Turn off the heat and add the seasoning to the curry. Mix well and serve with rice or enjoy it as such.

On a Sunday ....


I would rather be here !
Diamond Lake OR

Roasted Indian eggplants


One of these days we will stop eating eggplants in our house, which simply means that I will, because I am the only one who does it currently! I love this vegetable, T despises it, and S so far has shown no affection. So for old times sake, I buy a couple of Indian eggplants every once in a while, and do what I always do. I roast them in a microwave oven, and then eat them all on my own, for lack of good company!


Roasted Indian Eggplants


Indian eggplants – 6
Black gram,skinned – 3 tsp
Cumin – ¼ tsp
Chilly pepper flakes – ½ tsp to 1 tsp
Salt- ¾ tsp + ¼ tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp

Wash eggplants, leave the stems on. Mix ¾ tsp salt with 2 cups water in a bowl, keep aside. Make 4 to 6 deep cuts on the eggplant running from top to bottom, immediately plunge it in the salted water. Repeat with all eggplants. While the eggplants are soaking, heat a pan, when the pan is hot add black gram and dry roast till the color turns pale yellow. Add cumin and then roast till gram turns brown. Add pepper flakes, turn off the heat, cool. Grind the mixture to a coarse powder adding ¼ tsp salt. Add 1 tbsp oil to the spice powder, mix and keep aside. After the eggplants are soaked for about 30 minutes, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Using a knife, liberally apply the spice mix deep into the cuts. Arrange on a microwave safe plate, microwave at high for 3 minutes. Let it stand for 1 minute. Open the door, close the door again and microwave for 3 more minutes or till the eggplant turns soft to touch but still preserves its shape.

Hello again!

It is not easy to keep blogging about food, to do it every week with gusto is like making a minor miracle happen, to people who do it with such assured ease and charm i tip my hat, you are all beyond awesome!


But then, getting back to blogging with some regularity is even harder after you take a break. . You start with misspelling your blogger account password several times before hitting it right by chance, your survival coding skills are beginning to fade away, and then suddenly you so miss the good company that you want to get back into the bus no matter what.

So here i am, i was trying to take life a little easy ( turns out, it wouldn’t work !) ,thank you so much for sending mails, messages, and flying over to visit me. For all the much appreciated loving thoughts you sent my way, i give you back potatoes! Roasted, Indian style, made in a flash, in a microwave oven ! Here we go...


Indian style roasted potatoes


Red potatoes ( medium size) - 5 ( cut into ¼ inch thick rounds)
Crushed red pepper flakes - ¼ to ½ tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - ¼ tsp
Paprika - ½ tsp
Cumin - ¼ tsp
Curry leaves ( optional) - 10

Sprinkle salt and ½ tbsp oil over the potatoes, toss to coat. Arrange the pieces on a plate, and microwave uncovered at high for about 4 minutes. Open the door, after one minute, microwave again at high for 4 more minutes. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Heat the remaining oil in a small pan. When the oil is hot turn off the heat, immediately add cumin, followed by pepper flakes and curry leaves. When the oil is cooling down, add paprika. Transfer the potatoes to a glass mixing bowl, add the seasoning, and toss well to coat. Microwave at high for one minute, serve hot.

Kadala Pidi aka Undayum Kadalayum

Please go on and repeat the title after me 5 times, that is a crash course on Malayalam for you. Now you have proved that you can learn our language easily, please proceed and try your luck at enouncing the following line 3 times “ethappazham puzhungi vizhungi”. Well done! You are hereby ready to plan your retirement in a beautiful little cottage by the backwaters in Kerala. You will thrive; conversing in the language with such fluency that will put the locals to shame! Thank you. Also, none of these words are bad; title of the post means chickpeas and dough balls roughly and the next one is something like “Plantains boiled and swallowed”.


The name by this dish is called in northern Kerala ( Undaym Kadalyum) sounds more like a title of a story I might have heard as a child, but it is not. As a matter of fact, I had no idea about its existence until about two years ago a friend from Kannur casually mentioned it when we were talking. The description sounded more like a vegetarian version of kozhi pidi, a dish made of rice dumplings and spiced chicken.


The dumplings can be made using rice flour, wheat flour or using both. Black chick peas are preferred, but if you cannot get it by any means, garbanzo beans could work too. The prep work is time consuming; you really will have to make the dough balls as small as uncooked garbanzo beans to get the dish right, but well worth the effort I would say. I got the generous company of my three year old while working on the dough, who had a better idea about how small, small should be. While the tiny dumpling I made looked like an Indian gooseberry at the beginning, she got it right at the very first time. It is all a matter of perspective I say!


Kadala Pidi 


Rice flour – 2 ½ cup
Chick peas black – 2 cups
Coconut grated – 1 ½ cup
Curry leaves – ¼ cup
Onion chopped – 1 cup + 2 tbsp
Garlic crushed – ¼ cup
Ginger crushed – 1/4 tbsp
Green chilies – crushed – 1 tsp
Cumin – 1 ½ tsp
Fennel seeds – crushed – 1 tsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Chilly powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Oil – 4 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp

Soak black chick peas over night in water. Cook till the peas are soft in a sauce pan or by using a pressure cooker. When the peas are cooked (with the skin still intact), add 1/4 tsp salt, keep for 10 minutes, and drain excess water. Keep aside

Heat a frying pan and add 1 cup of grated coconut. Dry roast with constant stirring till it is golden brown. Turn off the heat, immediately transfer to a plate. Let it cool. Grind the roasted coconut to a fine paste using a blender, adding just enough water to keep the blades working. Keep aside.

Add the rice flour in a large mixing bowl, add 1 tsp crushed cumin,1/2 cup coconut , 2 tbsp finely crushed onions, and ¼ tsp salt. Add some boiling water (about 1 ½ cup, add more if needed) and mix with a wooden spoon till the flour comes together as a soft dough. When the dough is still warm (but not hot) knead the dough really well with your hands, till it is soft and without lumps (for about 6 minutes). Apply some oil to your hands and form small balls out of the dough (size of a cooked garbanzo bean), and arrange on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat the process till all the dough is used up.

Heat 1 tbsp oil, when it is hot, add crushed green chilies, ½ tsp crushed cumin, crushed garlic, crushed ginger, crushed fennel seeds and sauté for 1 minute. Turn the heat to low, add garam masala, chilly powder, coriander powder, and turmeric powder. Mix well, and sauté for 1 more minute. Now add three cups of water and ½ tsp salt to the mixture. Bring the heat up, cook till the water comes to a rolling boil. At this point add the

dough balls. Keep covered and cook for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring to keep the balls separate. After 10 minutes, open the lid, add the cooked chickpeas, adjust the salt if needed and continue cooking with occasional stirring till the mixture starts to thicken. Now add ground coconut, mix well, and cook at high heat with constant stirring till the mixture becomes almost dry with the gravy thickly coating the dough balls. Remove from the stove.

Heat 2 tbsp oil, when the oil is hot add 1 cup finely shopped onions, sauté till the pieces are golden brown. Add curry leaves, when the leaves stop spluttering turn off the heat and add the seasoning to the cooked dumpling mixture. Stir well to combine, keep covered for 5 minutes before serving, garnished with toasted grated coconut and cilantro

Serve along with onion tomato raitha

Onion tomato raitha

Chopped tomato – 1 cup
Chopped onion – ¼ cup

Yogurt – 1 cup
Water – ½ cup
Salt – to taste

Mix everything together and keep for 1 hour before serving.

A crinkled egg

Coconut oil has seen it all, from getting dissed as a health hazard to being lauded as the next best thing to boost your well being, and everything in between. Looks like we are talking about its benefits once again, but I do have my doubts about how long this is going to last. There is presumably only one reason for the roller coaster ride coconut oil is taking with regard to public affection, which namely is an astonishing lack of unbiased information about the nature and effects of the oil. We are surely in need of some meticulously planned, un-skewed research to shed the much required light into the properties of virgin coconut oil. Where else should they do it other than in places were the palm grows in plenty? KAU, are you there?

egg oroast 1a

When it comes to using coconut oil in anything, people from Kerala are in no dearth for ideas. My earliest memories of the world around me are a little blurred, thanks to that bottle of coconut oil my mother used to empty on my head during bath times. The oil never left my eye you see ! The oil did not help much with my hair either, but to this day I love coconut oil in cooking. We use it in moderation, but curries from my home state in India are not quite the same with out coconut oil in it.

egg oroast 1

This is my favorite Kerala style egg roast, the only way I make them these days. I especially love the crinkled appearance of the egg, which is achieved by pouring hot oil all over it. To make it work better you can use some more oil than what is called for in the recipe to fry the eggs, and then use only the required amount to fry the onions.

egg roast 3

Egg roast

Eggs, hard boiled and peeled – 4
Onions thinly sliced lengthwise – 4 cups
Kashmiri chilly powder – 1 tsp
Vinegar – 1 tbsp
Coconut oil – ¼ cup
Salt – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – 10
Green onions chopped – ¼ cup ( optional)

Sprinkle salt all over the sliced onions, mix well, keep aside for 20 minutes. Now using your hands squeeze most of the water out of the onions and spread on a paper towel. Heat oil in small sauce pan (so that you can spoon the oil easily). When the oil is hot, add two eggs at a time. Spoon the hot oil over the eggs; you will see the surface crinkling. Turn the eggs around, and take it out and drain excess oil on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Roasting two eggs usually takes one minute.

Now to the hot oil (you may need to switch to a sautéing pan at this point) add the sliced onions, sauté till it gets a pale golden brown color. Turn off the heat. Take 1/4th of the sautéed onions and grind to a fine paste adding chilly powder ,vinegar and ¼ cup of water in a blender. Add the ground mixture to the sautéed onions in the pan, turn on the heat, add curry leave, and green onions if using, and sauté at medium heat till the gravy is very thick. At this point, add the eggs, and gently toss to coat with the gravy. Turn of the stove; keep the pan covered for a minute before serving

egg oroast 4

Cardamom cashew cookies

card-cookie 1

Snow in summer plants are not in bloom yet, these photos were taken on a day two years ago when I could go out and pluck a flower from our back yard, and then compose a shot around it. I love flowers as props, but only when I can get them from our garden. Our first snow storm which amassed a whopping one inch of snow came a week ago, and in just a couple of hours withered the first blooms on my lovely Euphorbia plant, which blossomed for the first time after taking its time to grow up . My gardening pals assure me that it will spring back in a week or two, I hope it does, or else I am going to be very annoyed at the snow, don’t you dare come back this year, or may be you can, on Christmas day, that is fine with me. Thanks.
card cookie 2

Perched snugly below these flowers are some lovely cardamom cookies, slathered generously with some white chocolate. What make these cookies burst with flavor is the powdered toasted cashew nuts in them, so if you decide to skip the decorating part altogether it will be quite alright. Just like you would do with any other rolled cookie, chill the dough for a good one hour before you start working with it.

card cookie 3

Cardamom cashew cookies

Cashew nuts – 1 cup
All purpose flour – 2 cups
Salt – ½ tsp
Butter, unsalted – 1 cup (two sticks)
Sugar - 2/3 cup
Egg yolks – 2
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp ( or seeds from 10 pods powdered)
White chocolate chips (optional) - for decoration 3/4 cup

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread cashew nuts on it. Roast the nuts at 350oC till the nuts are slightly browned (takes about 10 minutes, but keep an eye on it from after 5 minutes)Turn the oven off; take the sheet out, cool on kitchen counter. When the nuts are cool, grind to a fine powder adding ¼ cup sugar, keep aside.

Cream butter and the remaining sugar together till fluffy (about 5 minutes), add eggs and beat again for 2 more minutes. Add the ground nut mixture, cardamom powder and mix well for a minute. Now add the flour mixture and mix thoroughly to combine (for 1 minute). Devide the dough into two, cover with kitchen wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Heat oven to 350 degree C. Roll the dough between parchment sheets to about 1/8th inch thickness and cut shapes out of it. If it gets difficult to lift the cut out shapes, return the dough to fridge, chill for 5 minutes and then take out the cutouts. Keep the cookies 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes or till the edges begin to brown. Cool the cookies on a wire rack, store in an air tight container for up to a week. Makes about 40 cookies.

Decorating (optional)
Keep the white chocolate chips in a thick glass mixing bowl. Microwave till the chips look glossy but still hold the shape. Take the bowl out and with a fork, whisk thoroughly, till you a get a smooth mixture. Apply the molten chocolate on the cookie using a brush. Sprinkle with some crushed nuts or decorative sugar crystals if you like.

Chicken Vindaloo

It is snowing now; the strange white stuff does not fall from the sky very often where we live. When it does and accumulates to anywhere near 1 inch, we call it a snow storm and make snow men with zest. A certain person makes chicken vindaloo; I am not naming names, but will share a recipe with you today.

vindaloo 1

After being surrounded by so much food trivia these days, we now know that vindaloo, originally had no “aloo” in it. The name is derived from Portuguese words for wine and garlic. But I wouldn’t be upset if you decide to throw in some potato chunks into the recipe that we have here, the curry can definitely stand it

vindaloo 2

Like many other Goan recipes Vindaloo is a blend of the best of both worlds. The spice mix is very easy to make, as you do not need all the components of the garam masala, but having some Kashmiri chilly powder in your pantry is very helpful.

vindaloo 3

Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken pieces (bite size) – 2 lbs
Garlic cloves – enough to fill ¼ cup
Ginger chopped – ¼ cup
Whole cloves – 8 nos
Black pepper – 10 nos
Cinnamon – One 3 inch stick
Cumin – 1 tsp
Kashmiri chilly powder – 3 tbsp
Vinegar – ¼ cup
Onion thinly sliced – 1 ¾ cup
Oil – 3 tbsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Cilantro – to garnish

Heat a thick bottomed pan, lightly brush with oil. Add garlic cloves; roast it for about five minutes at medium heat, frequently tossing with a spoon. Do not let the cloves char. Transfer the roasted garlic cloves to a bowl. To the hot pan now add whole cloves, black pepper and cinnamon and roast for a minute, add cumin, stir well, turn off the heat and quickly add the chilly powder. Mix everything together with a spoon. Let it cool down. To a blender jar add all the roasted ingradeints, ½ tsp salt, ginger and vinegar. Grind to a fine paste. Pat dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel, add the ground spice mix, and toss very well to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate over night (at least 6 hours)

On the next day, heat a pan and add half a spoon of oil. Add ¾ cup onions, sauté until tender, do not let the onions change color. Transfer to a blender jar and grind to a smooth puree. Add to the marinated chicken and mix well to combine. Heat a large pan for making the curry. Add 1 tbsp oil, when the oil is hot add the remaining onion pieces and sauté till golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain excess oil on a paper towel, keep aside.

Add 1 tbsp oil to the same pan, when the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces, and stir well for the first 1 minute. Now keep the heat at medium, and stand back till the chicken pieces start caramelizing. This could take 5-10 minutes. Toss the pieces occasionally to help with even browning. The more time you spend on this step, the tastier the curry gets. After some time you will see oil separating. Now add 1 1/2 cups of water and caramelized onions, give the curry a final gentle toss with a spoon. Keep the lid on, and turn the heat to medium. Let the curry slowly simmer for the next 20 minutes. Turn of the heat and keep 5 more minutes with the lid on before serving. Serve garnished with cilantro. I some time add some sautéed strips of jalapeno skin at this point, but that is purely optional. Serve with plain cooked rice, or with flat breads.

* If you are not able to find Kashmiri chilly powder use half regular chilly powder and half paprika.

The marble cake ! What are you making amma? Marble cake, YUM ! Oh.. But why honey bee , why?

My child then launched herself into a frantic search under the couch, inside a box, and unearthed a couple of marbles she plays with, picked it up, puffed a weensy sigh of relief and left the place without looking at the cake again. Now may I ask, why do we loose our inherent ability to connect the dots as we grow up? Offer me many leads on anything and I am still clueless. When you are three you need only one to get going! Chocolate vanilla marble cake is one of the three desserts I fondly remember from when i was young. Back then it was always served plain with out any frosting which undoubtedly was the best way to enjoy a cake with such intense milky taste and a melt in the mouth texture.


Unlike I did while making this cake you see in the photo, mix coco with only 1/4th of the batter, which helps in getting a finer marbling. There are many ways to make this well working recipe taste even better. Add 1 tsp of instant coffee granules to the coco mixture and you could call it a mocha marble cake, or just add ¼ tsp instead and make people wonder about what kicks the chocolate flavor up a notch in the cake. Substitute milk with evaporated milk and the cake tastes out of this world, trust me.


I am sending this post to the Kerala kitchen event hosted by Ria this month celebrating recipes from or inspired by the cuisine of the state

Vanilla-Chocolate Marble Cake

Recipe All purpose flour – 1 ½ cup Corn flour/starch – ¼ cup Sugar – 1 cup Butter – ½ cup (1 stick) Eggs -3 Baking powder – 2 tsp Vanilla essence – 1 tsp Coco powder – ¼ cup Milk- ¾ cup Salt – ½ tsp

Make sure all ingredients for this cake are at room temperature. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree F. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Mix all purpose flour, corn starch, salt and baking powder with a wire whisk for about 1 minute, keep aside.

Beat softened butter with sugar till it is light and fluffy. This step is very important to get the right texture for this cake. You will have to mix at medium speed if using a stand mixer for about 6 minutes. Now add eggs one at a time mixing in between. Add vanilla essense.Keep mixing for 2 more minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add the flour mixture in four batches, alternating with milk. Mix till everything is well combined. Add 4 tbsp boiling water to coco powder, mix well with a spoon. Take out 1//4 th of the batter to a separate bowl and whisk in the coco mixture. Mix very well. Spoon the white and chocolate batter in an alternating fashion to resemble a checker board. (Use a big spoon for white and smaller one for chocolate to make it easy) Once you spoon in all the batter, tap the pan twice strongly on the work bench to remove the gaps between the two batters. Now run a knife deeply through the batter going from one side to another from one end to the other in a swirling fashion. Repeat the swirling process 2 more times.

Bake for 40 minutes or till a tooth pick inserted at the center comes out clean. Keep the pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool for 10 minutes. Unmold the cake and allow to cool down completely ( ~ 1 hr). Enjoy with a cup of tea.

* I used Hershey's Special dark coco to get the deep chcolate color you see in the cake
Craving street food

This post is for you if you crave street food and good health (not necessarily in that order) all at the same time. Indian street food dwells in a realm of its own. That is where interesting flavors first got juggled together, red food color was whisked in with zest and monosodium glutamate was never put under a taboo. Who could resist the reddish orange fluorescent glow of a piping hot plate of chilly idli, eaten from a brightly lit peddler stand where a tea samovar is always brewing? You can then enjoy whatever you have ordered listening to the cacophony of cast iron spatulas pounding on giant cast iron griddle in the process of making kothu parotta, to the tang of which to this day I am an addict. Also, I have suffered dearly for it. That is all I am saying.

Kothu parotta-2

You could order a kothu parotta, from many of the restaurants in India now, it is that time in the country, when big hotels are running street food stands. Also you could easily make something very similar at home according to your own terms, with out compromising the taste, with out adding MSG or food color or anything that annoys you even if that is broccoli! Here is how.

Before we begin, please suffer though some trivia. In India, you would make this with shredded up porottas (not to be confused with parathas), a flaky oh –so-good flat bread, which is toothsome to eat on its own. However, the
making of porottas requires talent, patience, training and a good amount of vegetable shortening called Dalda, all of which I am in short supply. So I usually make some crepes, over cook them, shred, chop some vegetables and throw in some left over chicken curry if I have it, stir fry everything together with some spices and call it a complete meal. To make everything immensely better, these days I use whole wheat crepes, and declare it healthy, with out compromising the taste of course. I am starting to develop an affection towards using King Arthur Flour Company’s white whole wheat flour these days, that way you could be on a secret little mission to serve whole grains to the family and they will never have a clue! KAF Company is not paying me a dime to write this, but I am still doing it because I have a good hunch that you will like it too.

Kothu parotta - 3

If you don’t have left over chicken curry, you have to make something which vaguely tastes so, by following a quick method described below, which should only be used for the purpose using in this recipe. It will not really taste that great otherwise as a regular chicken curry.

Kothu parotta - 4

Spicy Stir fried crepes (Indian street food style)

*Crepes chopped - 4 cups
Onions cut into ½ inch squares - 1 ½ cup
Ginger- finely chopped - 2 tbsp
Garlic - finely chopped - 1 tsp
Green chilies -cut into rounds - ½ tsp
Carrot thinly sliced - ½ cup
Bell pepper sliced - ½ cup
Cabbage shredded into long strips - 1 ½ cups
Tomatoes - cut into 1 inch pieces - 1 ½ cup
Zucchini/radish/or any other vegetable - ½ cup
Green onions- chopped - 1 cup
Cilantro chopped - ½ cup
Boneless chicken pieces from a chicken curry -shredded to pieces - 1 cup
Gravy from the curry - 4 tbsp
Vegetable bouillon cube - 2
Cumin - ¼ tsp
Fennel - ½ tsp
Black pepper - crushed - ½ tsp
Lemon - 1
Oil - 2 tbsp

Heat Oil in a wok. When the oil is hot, add cumin and fennel, quickly followed by onion, ginger, garlic, green chilies and crushed bullion cubes. Stir fry for two minutes. Then add carrot, bell pepper, zucchini, and stir fry for a minute. Now add chicken pieces, followed by gravy and toss very well to mix. Add chopped crepes and cabbage, stir fry for 1 more minute at high heat Turn the heat to low and add tomatoes, crushed black pepper, half of shopped cilantro, half of green onion. Toss very well to mix everything. Serve piping hot with a wedge of lime squeezed over, sprinkled with cilantro and chopped green onion Serve with a simple cucumber raitha.
*Recipe follows

All purpose or whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Water -1 ½ cup.
Salt -¼ tsp

Mix all ingredients together in a blender to make a thin batter (crepe/dosa batter consistency). Heat a griddle, brush lightly with oil, Spread ¼ cup batter in a thin layer. Cook for a minute. Turn it over and cook the other side, till brown spots form. Lift it from the griddle and keep uncovered on a baking tray. Make crepes using the whole batter. When the crepes cool down, roll two of them up, and shred with a knife

Quick fix chicken masala
(If you don’t have left over chicken curry)

Boneless chicken pieces - 1 cup
Garlic chopped- ½ tsp
Ginger chopped - 1 tsp
Tomato chopped - ½ cup
Clove crushed -1
Fennel seeds crushed – ¼ tsp
Cinnamon powder - ⅛ tsp
Chilly powder - ½ tsp
Paprika - 1 tsp
Coriander powder – ½ tsp
Cilantro chopped – 2 tbsp
Salt – ¼ tsp

Heat a sauce pan, when the pan is hot, add all ingredients except tomato and chicken. Stir to combine (for less than 1 minute). Now add tomatoes, chicken, salt and ½ cup water. Mix everything together and cook covered till the gravy coats the chicken pieces. Cool and store till further use. This amount of masala prepared substitutes the chicken pieces and gravy listed in the recipe.

Cucumber raitha
Finely chopped cucumber – 1 cup
Yogurt -1 cup
Minced onion – 1 tbsp
Minced green chilies – ¼ tsp (or less)
Salt – to taste
Mix everything together in a bowl. Keep covered for 10 minutes before serving.

Indian food and blogging

Food blogging is one of the most enlightening activities I have ever done. It is such an amazing feeling to be surrounded by so much talent and dedication. Together, my fellow food bloggers capture the most amazing food pictures, bring out the beauty of simple things, demystify the complicated and then most importantly remind all of us that cooking is essentially all fun.

spinach cake 1

To me many of these blogs also offer a revised understanding of the diverse cuisine I root my feet deeply in. You know this already; Indian food served in restaurants world wide represents only a minuscule fraction of the country’s intensely diverse cuisine. Each state in India has its own very unique dishes that the people living in a neighboring state might not be even aware of. Also with in these states lie niches of culinary identity emphasizing the fact that unless you purposely make an effort to understand it, you will never get a glimpse of it, even if you are living close by.

This could sound like an exaggeration, but it is not! The delicious, twelve layered
chatti pathri is as much of a foreign dish in my neck of the woods as potato gnocchi, yet the Malabar region from where the delicacy is from is in my home state Kerala and is only a couple of hours drive away from the place I lived many years. Of course the situation has improved with the advent of local travel cookery shows in TV, but it seldom cross language barriers.

spinach cake 2

This is where Indian food blogs are increasingly playing the part in unraveling the secrets of dearly local Indian cuisine. When people share an heirloom recipe or reminisce on a local favorite dish in the town that they grew up, or blog about a popular street food from a place they lived in India, I am sitting here in front of the computer, feeling very lucky that I chanced upon it. Almost 6 years into reading Indian food blogs, I am increasingly getting illuminated about the umpteen ways to cook curry, make a pulao, or make a dessert from just plain milk and sugar!

Thank you fine people !
Five Indian dishes I never knew about before I started blogging.

Bakkar wadi

Lemon Sun pickle

Naksha Bori

Dal Dhokli

Mango rice

The following is not an authentic Indian recipe, but an inspired creation based on the comforting flavors I like in an Indian style snack. Serve it with a cup of tea on the side. These toasted cakes will happily go very well anywhere a falafel goes, most importantly in wraps.

Toasted spinach cakes

Garbanzo beans/Kabuli chana – 2 cups
Whole wheat flour - 1/4 cup
Onions finely chopped – 1 /2 cup
Ginger minced – 2 tbsp
Spinach chopped - 2 cups
Coriander leaves chopped – ¾ cup
Cumin crushed – ½ tsp
Jalapeño chilies chopped – ½ tsp
Baking powder – 1 ½ tsp
Oil – 3-5 tbsp

Soak garbanzo beans in water for 6 hours. Drain, and grind it along with ginger and jalapeño to a coarse paste in a blender. At this point take out half of the mixture out. Continue blending the remaining half till the mixture is smooth. Mix both coarse and smooth purees and stir in the whole wheat flour. Add onions, spinach, coriander leaves, baking powder, cumin, and salt. Mix very well to combine. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan, spread the mixture evenly in the pan (you can use a baking pan of any dimension; make sure that the mixture is spread to half inch thickness). Loosely cover with Aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degree for 15 -20 minutes or till a tooth pick inserted at the center comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan. Brush the top of the cake with some oil. Turn it over to a parchment sheet, and brush the bottom part also with oil. Cut out shapes using a cookie cutter like I did, or simply cut into squares. Heat a pan, brush generously with oil. When the pan is hot arrange the cakes on top of it. Cook for 1-2 minutes each side, or till you see toasted dark brown spots on the cakes. Serve with coconut chutney and of course tea!

On mulligatawny soup

On the matter of mulligatawny soup, I stand divided against myself, doesn’t really know what the real thing is, or if there is a real McCoy for this altogether. I have tasted mulligatawny from a couple of restaurants in India, each time the soup presented itself as a concoction different from the one I had before. The texture ranged from being moderately thin to thick enough to almost cut with a knife. Ingredients varied a lot too, but the flavoring spices were probably the same. The soup originated in Anglo-Indian kitchens, while India was under the colonial rule, and the name probably is derived from Tamil words “Milagu thanni” which literally translates to “pepper water”


When I hear the word "thanni", out of all respect for the venerable mother language Tamil, I think of water, flow and clarity. So if I am to conjure up the image of a soup from this name, my first instinct will be to think in line of a consommé, a rasam of sorts. On the contrary, it turns out that this soup nowadays has the status of a complete meal in a bowl, texturally more complex than I originally thought it would be.


There was this one remarkable bowl of Mulligatawny I had, from the roof top restaurant of erstwhile Classic hotel ( nowadays goes by the name Madurai Residency)in Madurai, from where looking at the lighted up ancient city on a mild weather evening was almost an ethereal experience. It was a warm and hearty bowl of chicken soup with vegetables and lentils, with layers of flavor coming from spices like cumin, nutmeg and cloves.


Here is my mulligatawny soup recipe, based on the trace of memory I have about the soup mentioned above, guided by several other recipes around, and utterly devoid of curry powder for good. This is my favorite soup for now. I told you “SOUP” at the beginning of this year, and I am sticking to it.

Mulligatawny soup


Cooked basmati rice – 1 cup
Chicken split breast – 1 piece
Diced mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, beans, corn, radishes etc) – 2 cups
Vegetable bullion cubes – 2
Masoor dal or any other quick cooking lentil – 1/4 cup
Onion Diced – 1 cup
Ginger, finely grated – 2 tbsp
Garlic, finely chopped – 1 tsp
Cloves – 6
Nutmeg powder- 1/8 tsp
Cinnamon powder – 1/8 tsp
Lemon -1
Celery seeds – 1 tsp
Coconut milk – 3/4 cup
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro, chopped – 1/4 cup + enough to garnish
Cumin – 1/2 tsp
Black pepper – Coarsely crushed – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp

Heat oil in a sauce pan. Sauté onion, garlic and ginger till the onions are translucent. Add, cloves, turmeric, nutmeg powder, cinnamon powder, cumin, celery seeds, and masoor dal, mix well with a spoon. Add 5 cups of water, crushed bullion cubes and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Add the chicken piece and vegetables. Turn the heat to medium; add some salt and cook covered for 15 minutes without stirring. Meanwhile blend coconut milk and rice together adding a cup of water till the mixture turns into a coarse paste. Add it to the soup, stir well, turn the heat to very low, and cook covered with out stirring for 10 more minutes. Turn of heat, take the chicken piece out. With the help of a fork and knife shred it into small pieces. Add the pieces back to the pot. Squeeze the juice from a lemon and add to the soup. Add ¼ cup cilantro and crushed black pepper. Turn of the heat. Keep the soup covered for 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro, with a wedge of lime on the side and some crusty bread.

Persimmon-Greek yogurt frozen parfait
It rained through most of the long weekend, my head almost felt like a “muddy mud puddle”. Our little girl uses these words generously to describe anything from a drop of water on the floor to the real thing, but my head definitely was closer to the latter, as a result of my own doings.


I started sorting my food photos from the past several years on Saturday morning, but it quickly turned into a bigger task than I originally thought it would be. Reason, even though I was not blogging often enough for almost two years, it turns out that I was liberally taking photos of almost anything special i cooked or ate. There were abstract photos of licked clean plates and rugged dish towels, about the capturing of which I have no wisp of memory remaining now. The good news is that as of today, my photo folders contain a lot less digital clutter, well worth the effort, even if my head felt like a “muddy mud puddle”

Then we realized that we needed dessert, and there were persimmons lovingly gifted by a friend, waiting to be made into one. If you ask me what the flavor of this fruit is like, following is my answer. Persimmons are peaches trying to be mangoes, who haven’t realized their inner sapotas yet. To let the subtle flavor of the fruit shine through I made a frozen parfait, making of which involves very less cooking of the fruit pulp.

This dessert could easily be prepared using other fruits like mangoes, peaches or even berries. If you are not able to find Greek or any other type of hung yogurt at your grocery, these easy instructions will help you to make some from your home made or store bought yogurt.

Persimmon-Greek yogurt frozen parfait

Persimmons- 2
Greek yogurt or prepare hung yogurt 1 ½ cup
Sugar -1/2 cup + 2 tbsp
Gelatin – ½ tsp

Making 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 1/4 cup water ,increase the heat a bit with constant stirring till all sugar clumps dissolve. Transfer to a wide mouth glass jar and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours or till it becomes very thick but still scoop-able.

Flavoring yogurt
Gently mix caramel syrup with Greek yogurt, Refrigerate till use.

Preparing fruit puree
Dissolve gelatin in 2 tbsp hot water. Microwave the mixture for a couple of seconds to completely dissolve gelatin. Keep aside. Peel persimmons, puree with ½ cup water and 2 tbsp sugar. Transfer to a sauce pan and heat with constant stirring till the mixture is warm, but not boiling. Turn of the heat; add dissolved gelatin while mixing the puree very well with a wire whisk.

Putting everything together
Now take some shot glasses or jelly molds and spoon some persimmon puree to fill 1/4th of the mold. Freeze for 1 hour. Now pipe in caramel Greek yogurt to fill the mold. Level the top with a spatula or a knife. Freeze for at least 1-2 hrs depending on the size of the mold used. To unmold the parfait, wrap a towel dipped in hot water around the mold, loosen the edges if needed with a knife and invert over a plate.


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