Sunday, May 31, 2009

WYF: Cook book/Recipe book

This month's theme for What's your favourite event series is Cook book/Recipe books. You must be aware of one of our blogs which we have dedicated mainly to "Help on blogging" for new bloggers and "Reviews on cook books" for giving a quick view on different cook books for those intending to purchase some. This month I invite you all to send me your reviews on the cook books you own..

# Please include the following in your post

1. A picture of the front cover of the book in your post
2. Mention the author and publisher name
3. The recipe categories
4. Why you would recommend the book
5. Which level- Beginner/ Medium/ Difficult

# No restrictions this month on the number of entries.

# Vegetarian recipe book reviews are preferable or atleast vegetarian recipes should constitute a major part of the book

# The complete review with the photograph of the book would be published under the "Cookbook Review" label of the blog.

# Please add a link to the "Cookbook Review" label as well as event announcement in your post.

# It would be highly appreciated if you could add the logo in your post and also if possible, somewhere in your blog to spread the word

# Please mail me your name, a picture and link to the post at

Although reading all these might make it appear complicated, it would be exactly a five minute job of taking a picture, writing down a few words about the books and providing a link. Hope you all come up with reviews for all the cookbooks you have.

Waiting to see the books that inspire you in cooking up delicious food for your family..

Club sandwich

Inspired from Rekha's version at Plantain leaf with changes to suit our taste buds.


Bread slices
Green chutney
Mixed fruit jam

For green chutney, grind coriander leaves, green chillies, salt, ginger paste and mint leaves.

Cut the corners of the bread slices and spread jam on one slice and green chutney on another. Keep the third slice plain. Place bread slices above the other and cut it diagonally.
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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ragi diamond cuts


1 cup ragi flour
1/2 cup maida/all purpose flour
Salt to taste
Oil to fry

Make a soft dough of ragi, all purpose flour,salt and water. Roll into medium thickness chapatis and cut them into small squares or diamond shapes. Deep fry them in hot oil till crisp and done..Dont let it turn black, else it will be bitter.

Cool and store in an airtight container. Easy snack for tea time.

Sending it over to PJ for the RCI:Jain cuisine event started by Lakshmi

Just a day more for the WYF:Quick Meal event to end..Pls rush in ur entries
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Milagu Jeeragam rasam


Lemon sized tamarind soaked in water
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves

Masala ingredients

1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp red gram dal (thur)
1 tsp black pepper
3 red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds

Dry roast the masala ingredients except cumin seeds. Cool and grind to coarse powder. This can be stored in an air-tight container for future use.

Add salt, asafoetida and 2 tsp masala powder to the tamarind extract. Add 2 cups of water and allow it to boil well. Temper with mustard seeds and curry leaves.

Can be served with rice or had as it is as a soup.

A quick recipe that is very beneficial to health during illness because of the medicinal properties of cumin seeds and pepper. Sending it over to Trupti for the Comfort food for illness event.
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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Announcing Sugar High Fridays - Fruit & Nut

Ok, Summer is here, and so is the time to whip up some cool and refreshing desserts! This month, Fun and Food is proud to host the SHF June 2009, with the theme of "Fruit & Nut" Sugar High Fridays, or SHF, was started by Jennifer a long time ago, and has been passing through hosts and roundups for some wonderful sweet delicacies. Fran just finished posting about the Gluten-free SHF Roundup, and now its my turn! This time, I ask you to get creative with your summer fruits, combine them with nuts, and whip up something equally delicious, then send it right over. But first things first, so take a moment to check out some basic rules:

Rules for Participation:

1. You can make any dessert you want, as long as it contains 1 Fruit and 1 Nut at the least.

2. Send your entries to with subject line SHF-June, and please include a link back to this announcement or homepage. Please send your entries in English only, or with a link to the page which has English translation on your blog. Re-size your pictures to 200x200px. The deadline for sending in your entries is June 25th 2009.

3. Archived posts are allowed, but only if they are republished during the event period. Also, please limit upto a maximum of 2 entries per blog.

4. The roundup will be posted on the last Friday of June (26th June), so come back and make sure your entry is a part of the mega-roundup.

5. Non-Bloggers are welcome to email me their recipes, and I'll surely include them in the roundup as well.

So what are you waiting for? This one should be simple, and outright fun, for home-cooks and chiseled cooks alike! Beat the Summer heat by making cool desserts, or go for the traditional baked goodies. Whatever you choose, make sure its "High on Sugar" and send it right in! I look forward to all your wonderful entries!

Cheese corn veggies on toast


1/2 cup mashed corn
1/2 cup mixed vegetables
1/4 cup grated cheese
Salt to taste
Pepper powder
Finely chopped coriander leaves
Finely chopped green chillies
Bread slices

Mix all the ingredients except cheese and bread slices. Remove corners of bread slices and cut diagonally into half. Spread it on the bread slices and press well. Add grated cheese and grill for a minute till cheese melts.

Serve with sauce.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ragi halwa


1 cup ragi flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
Roasted nuts and raisins
2 tbsp ghee

Heat ghee and roast the ragi flour for 3-4 minutes. Add the all purpose flour and roast for another 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of hot water to it and mix well without lumps. Add sugar, cardamom powder and keep stirring till it becomes a big lump. Add the roasted nuts and raisins and mix well.

Transfer to greased plate. Cool and cut into pieces.

Sending it over to Shanti for her Sweet time event

Parita of Parita's World and Dharani of In my kitchen shared this awards with me..Thanks a lot

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chinese Noodles: Recipe

Chinese Noodles
I'm sure Asian cooking guru Jaden of Steamy Kitchen would cringe if she saw this noodle recipe, but I can't help it. It was my go-to dish my last year in college and it's a keeper. My senior year I shared a big beach house with four other girls in Santa Cruz, California. I seemed to be the only one really interested in cooking. One was a Japanese American basketball player who ate bowls and bowls of rice, one was a perpetual dieter, another favored baked or fried foods that always seemed to incorporate Crisco, and one was a pint-sized Chinese American sophomore from Sacramento who came from a very large family. She didn't cook very frequently, but this easy noodle recipe was something I learned from her.

I recently received a number of Annie Chun's noodles. The dried chow mein noodles reminded me of this long forgotten recipe. Perfect for a college student or anyone else for that matter, it's fast, cheap and easy. It can be eaten very simply or dressed up any number of ways with toppings. It's good served hot or cold. I like it with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro and green onions and shreds of chicken. But it's surprisingly satisfying plain too. I have no idea if it is in any way authentic, I only know it makes a comforting meal when you can't think any further than the pantry.

When you make chow mein noodles be sure to rinse them or they can get very sticky. I've used this sauce on flat rice noodles and even on spaghetti in a pinch. While the recipe I learned was equal parts ketchup and oyster sauce, you could add ginger, toasted sesame oil, Chinese chile garlic sauce, Sriracha sauce, whatever you like! It is one of the reasons I always have a bottle of good quality oyster sauce on hand.

Chinese Noodles
serves 4

12 ounces dry chow mein noodles
3 Tablespoons ketchup
3 Tablespoons oyster sauce

Optional garnishes:
Sliced green onions, cilantro, cucumber, roast pork or shredded chicken

Cook noodles according to instructions and rinse briefly. Combine ketchup and oyster sauce in a large bowl, then add noodles and toss to combine. Top with any garnishes you like.


Note: This recipe is very similar to one in the New York Times by Mark Bittman called Egg Noodles with Soy Broth. It calls for noodles dressed in equal parts soy sauce, ketchup and a dash of rice wine vinegar.

Semiya/vermicelli idli


2 cups roasted vermicelli
1 cup roasted rava/sooji
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp ginger paste
Few curry leaves
Roasted cashew pieces
Finely chopped coriander leaves
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp blackgram dal
1 tsp bengalgram dal
1 1/2 cups curd
1 1/2 cups water

Heat oil and add mustard seeds, dals and curry leaves. When it splutters, add it to the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Keep covered for 15 minutes.

Mix well and pour into idli plates. Steam for 7-8 minutes. Pierce a knife and check if it comes out clean. Cool for a minute and serve with chutney or sambar.

This is my final entry to the WYF:Quick Meal event

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Just five more days to go for the event to end..Pls rush in your entries

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Eric Nernberg is back at the Union Grill in Pittsburgh!

If you have lived in Pittsburgh for some time, then I'm sure you must have hear of Union Grill, the famous restaurant that owes its charm and eclectic food to Eric Nernberg, the face behind this eatery. Established in 1994, the Union Grill has been inviting food-lovers with variant tastes, catering to their different culinary needs. Well known for large servings of delicious meals made from scratch, the Union Grill has thrived under Chef Jim Dillon. The Half Price Happy Hour, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every day, and the $10 wine list are just a few of the things that have been drawing crowds to this popular Pittsburgh based restaurant.

However, in2003, Eric decided to leave the reigns of the restaurant in the hands of his elite staff, and head East towards Thailand, to try something new. Here he opened up his culinary forte to welcome not just the people of Thailand, but also the US Marines to the advent of good food. His new venture thrived for 6 years, but Eric always missed Union Grill, which was his alma mater, and also his prodigy. SO he decided to pack things up in Thailand for good, and return back to what he loved the most!

Now, Eric Nernberg is back in Pittsburgh, and with his new experience globe-trotting through the east, he aims to expand the food creation at Union Grill. Besides serving what his customers have loved the most, he plans to renovate and expand the Union Grill to appeal to current crowds and to draw even more clientele. If ou are planning to be in Pittsburgh anytime oon, do take a day to stop by the new and improved Union Grill to see what surprises the founder holds in store for you!

Maddur vada


1 cup roasted rava
1 cup rice flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 big onion chopped
Finely chopped green chilli
Few curry leaves
Bit of asafoetida
Salt to taste
Pinch of cooking soda
Oil to fry

Mix all the ingredients well and sprinkle some water to make it a dough. Make small balls of it and flatten them by patting with hands. Spread little oil in hands if required to prevent it from sticking.

Deep fry the vadas in hot oil till golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately with chutney and sambar.
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cooking with Amy on View from the Bay!

View from the Bay

Last week I was on View from the Bay and you can watch me demonstrate a recipe with only three ingredients! Ok, it has four if you count the salt.

There are also three delicious Spring recipes reprinted from my book, Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers: Chilled Pea Soup with Creme Fraiche and Chives, Fava Bean and Ricotta Crostini with Fresh Mint and Deviled Eggs with Watercress. If you can't find or don't want to bother with fresh fava beans, edamame make a great substitution. For the demo I used frozen green peas in the soup. Only use English peas if they are sweet and not starchy.

allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"

I was also on Dining Around with Gene Burns yesterday. It was a great experience, Gene is a wonderful interviewer. You can download the podcast or listen online if you like.

Besan halwa


2 cups gram flour
1 cup sugar (adjust as per taste)
1 tsp cardamom powder
Roasted nuts and raisins
3-4 tbsp ghee
1 cup milk

Heat 2 tbsp ghee and roast the gram flour till nice aroma comes. Mix the milk with 1 cup water and slowly add it to the flour and keep stirring. Add sugar and cardamom powder and keep stirring well. Add the rest of the ghee and mix until it starts leaving the sides and becomes a lump. Transfer to a greased plate.

Garnish with roasted nuts and raisins.
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

BBQ & Grilling Tips - Perfect for Memorial Day

As we approach summer, its time to get out your barbecue grills and start having some fun with them, especially around Memorial day weekend! Whether its camping or just a backyard bbq, there is always a thrill attached to grilling; in fact we absolutely love it! But as easy as it sounds, grilling is not everyone's forte. I am sure all of you must have had some good and bad experiences with barbecues; it serves to be one of the best events for a pot luck, meeting with friends, chilling out and having fun. A few simple pointers go a long way in making a bbq successful. I'd like to share with you some common tips and techniques about grilling, what bbq grills work best, what food to grill and how to make sure you are doing it right, followed by a beautiful Memorial Day BBQ Menu to get you going!

I'm no expert at bbq, but we've had our fair share of grilling, and it has taught me a few tricks that will make an outdoor barbecue less stressful and more fun. If you are interested in knowing how bbq attained such a craze in US, here's a brief history about how bbq's originated. The first step, of course, is to buy a bbq-grill, and though there is a wide variety of products available to suit your style, I love the charcoal grill, especially for small-scale grilling.

Buying a Grill: Though charcoal grills are still most widely used, I'd recommend a Gas or an Electric Grill (especially for first-timers) as they are the easiest to use and produce nice results. They burn hot enough to make distinct "char" marks and add the smokey flavor to your food. If you have to use charcoal, for picnics or camping, try to avoid the self-igniting briquettes. Though easy to burn, they can give the food a petroleum flavor.

Basic Tips & Techniques: Grilling is a lot of fun, but not everyone can manage a great job the first time. Here are some general techniques to help you in your outdoor grilling venture.

1. Prepare the fire a half hour or more before grilling. For quick lighting, use a chimney starter with crumpled newspaper in the bottom and briquets or charcoal above. Or stack the charcoal in a pyramid shape and light with a liquid or electric starter.

2. First make sure that the grill is medium-hot. For most of the grilling recipes, the fire should be medium-hot with a single, even layer of coals lightly covered with grey ash. Less heat, and there'll be no "smoky " falvor to your food, too much high heat, and you'll practically burn and blacken your food! Also, adding a handful of aromatic wood chips such as mesquite, hickory, alder, or fruitwood chips over the coals can add whole new dimension of flavor to your food.

3. Make sure to clean the grill with a wire brush, and remove any previous residue food bits from the grill, before putting anything new onto it. Any burnt food chunks sticking to your main entree can so kill the taste!

4. Place the food item to be grilled on the clean grill. Be sure to put the presentation side down first on the grill in order to utilize the intense initial heat which guarantees the beautiful "grill marks" on the side that is visible on serving.

5. As the item cooks, move it around slowly so that it does not burn, and turn it over when it is cooked half-way. This is where the art of grilling comes in. The goal to perfect grilling is to give the item delicious dark brown (not black) grill marks on both sides and remove it from the heat without overcooking it.

6. To reduce the chance of overbrowning, apply tomato- based sauces or those containing sugar or other sweeteners only during last 20 to 30 minutes of grilling. For grilling paneer, do not marinade for more than 20 mins before grilling or it will turn out soggy.

7. Try to space food so that it does not stick to each other and also shift items from the center of the hot grill over to the sides as you keep placing new food in the center. Closing the lid speeds up the cooking time and increases the smoky flavor, but also increases the likelihood of a small fire, so be careful. And remember to open the small air vent on the top of the grill if you decide to close the lid.

8. Use a pair of gloves and tongs to remove hot food from the grill to prevent yourself and your guests from getting burnt.

9. Position your grill according to the direction of the wind so that coal burns quickly and at the same time, your guests don't have to put up with the heat! A corner of the backyard is not always the best spot; wind governs where you place your grill!

10. Last but not the least, be prepared! Keep a suppy of charcoal and igniter fluid handy so you don't have to run in the middle of the bbq to get more coal. Once it loses heat, its very hard to bring it back to the right temperature again. Also, keep a first-aid kit handy for accidents and burns, especially with children around. Try to maintain a safe distance between the grill and the serving area to prevent random accidents.

Direct & Indirect Cooking
There are two methods to grill food over a gas, wood, charcoal, or infrared - direct or indirect cooking. based on what you are cooking, you should choose the method that the recipe demands.

With the direct heat method, the food item is placed directly over the flame or coals. This method exposes the food item to very hot temperatures, often in excess of 500F or 900F for infrared grills. This is the fastest way to cook food items on a grill. The food items are cooked by the flames and radiant heat coming from the heat source of the grill.This method is ideal for grilling steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage, pork chops and skewers. All veggie and fruit skewers use this method. The food items must be carefully monitored so as to not burn them.

With the indirect heat method, you place the food item so that it is not directly over flames or coals. This is done by having the fire or coals on only one section of the grill and placing the food items on the other side. In a charcoal grill, it is best to place a foil pan of water under the food to keep it from drying out. This method is best for large cuts of meat or bone-in poultry. It allows the food to cook all the way through without burning or charring on the outside of the meat.

Best Items to Grill

Vegetables: Capsicum, Potatoes, Onions, Corn, Eggplant, Zucchini
Fruits: Pears, Pineapples, Apples, Grapes, Apricots, Plums,Peaches
Meat: Steak, Chicken, Fish, Sausage

I hope this article can help some amateurs like me to host a successful barbecue event, or at least enjoy the experience of grilling. Once you master it, grilling can be wonderful and addictive! Use these basic tips and techniques to make your outdoor grilling & bbq a fun and relaxing event this summer!

Memorial Day Vegetarian BBQ Recipes:
Paneer Tikka with Mango Dressing
Grilled Pesto Burgers
Grilled Asparagus Salad
Grilled Peaches with Chipotle Raspberry Sauce

Bendakaya gojju


1/4 kg ladiesfinger/bhindi/okra/vendakaai cut into rounds
Lemon sized tamarind ball soaked in water
Salt to taste
1 tbsp grated jaggery
Few curry leaves
3 tbsp grated coconut
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Bit of asafoetida

Dry roast each seperately and grind to powder
3-4 red chillies
1 tbsp bengal gram dal
1 tbsp blackgram dal
1 tsp white sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp pepper

Heat oil and add mustard seeds, bengalgram dal and blackgram dal. When it splutters add curry leaves, asafoetida and cut okra. Keep frying on low flame till okra is cooked. Add tamarind extract, turmeric powder, salt, jaggery, grated coconut and cook for 3-4 minutes till raw smell of tamarind goes off. Finally add the masala powder and water as required and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Serve with rice.
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Crispy paneer stuffing dosa

We had this dosa at a mall recently and the filling was quite interesting and tangy.


Dosa batter
200 grams paneer cut lengthwise
Salt to taste
1 tsp soya sauce
1 tsp red chilli sauce
1 onion cut lengthwise

Fry the paneer pieces slightly and keep aside. Heat 1 tsp oil, add onions and fry for a few minutes. Add a bit of salt, soya sauce and red chilli sauce. Finally add the paneer pieces and mix well.

Make thin and crispy dosas and place the paneer filling inside. Roll and cut lengthwise into three or four pieces. Serve immediately with chutney and sambars.

Crispy paneer stuffing dosa goes to Solkadi for the Dosa feast

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Sweet Life in Paris: Book Review

The Sweet Life in Paris I know why David Lebovitz gets inundated with questions from people planning trips to Paris. I know why perfect strangers want to visit him or better yet, dine with him. In addition to knowing exactly where to get the perfect baguette and being on a first name basis with every important chocolatier in town, he's also very funny. If you've ever visited his blog, you know what I mean. An artist friend of my parents moved to Paris and because, horrors! he still wasn't online, I printed page after page of it for him, in part, to convince him he needed to get online, if for no other reason than to read David's blog.

While I am a fan of his cookbooks, his latest book really takes the cake. And yes, that would be chocolate cake. In The Sweet Life in Paris his observational powers and his equal parts snarky and self-deprecating humor give that other ex-pat David, a run for his money. In fact, perhaps that's why David Sedaris moved to London. Paris might not have been big enough for two hilarious American Davids.

I got through almost 4 pages before laughing out loud. I challenge you to do the same. In between laughs you can pick up nifty recipes for mostly sweet but also some savory dishes like chicken mole or tagine with apricots and almonds, tips on where to find great hot chocolate or how to make your own, and a list of essential addresses in Paris. It's the perfect book for anyone who dreams of living in Paris or who actually does.

Black eyed pea cutlet


1 cup mashed black eyed pea
2 bread slices
2 boiled and mashed potatoes
Salt to taste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp amchur powder
Finely chopped coriander leaves

Dip the bread slices for a second in water and squeeze out all the water. Add other ingredients except oil and mix well. Make small balls and flatten them. Roll in either rava/sooji or bread crumbs. It can either be deep fried in hot oil or cooked on tava with very little oil till cooked on both sides.

Serve hot with sauce.

Sending it over to Sunshinemom's MLLA-13, an event started by Susan

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Moong dal paratha


1 cup wheat flour
Salt to taste
1 cup green gram dal (moong dal)soaked in water for 2 hours
1 tsp garam masala powder
Finely chopped coriander leaves
Finely chopped green chillies

Make a soft dough of wheat flour, salt and water and keep covered for 1/2 hour.

Drain out the water from the dal and grind coarsely. Add salt, garam masala powder, green chillies and coriander leaves. Mix well and make small balls of it.

Make medium balls of the dough and roll out into thick poori. Place the stuffing in the center and cover with dough from all sides. Dust with flour and roll out again into thick parathas. Cook on hot tava with oil/ghee till brown spots appear on both sides.

Serve hot with pickle/curds.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Poori payasam


1 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1tsp cardamom powder
Roasted nuts and raisins
4 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
Oil/ghee to fry

Make a soft dough of all purpose flour, salt and water. Keep aside for 10 minutes. Roll out into small puris and fry them till crisp. Dip them immediately in warm water for a few seconds.

Heat the milk and add sugar. Add cardamom powder and let it keep boiling for 10-15 minutes on low heat. Add the fried pooris to the milk and garnish with nuts and raisins.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cabbage poricha kootu

Usha of Veg Inspirations sent in this recipe for the WYF:Cuisine event..I didnt make any changes to the ingredients and we enjoyed it with rice.


1 small cabbage cut finely and cooked
3/4 cup cooked redgram dal (thur dal)
Salt to taste
1 tsp turmeric powder
Bit of asafoetida
2 tsp oil
1 tsp blackgram dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves

Masala paste

2 red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup grated coconut
1/2 tsp pepper

Heat oil, add mustard seeds and blackgram dal. When it splutters add curry leaves and asafoetida. Add the cooked redgram dal, turmeric, cooked cabbage and salt. Cook for 2 minutes and add the masala paste. Add water as required and cook for 5-10 minutes till slightly thick.

Serve hot with rice/rotis.

Sending it over to Divya for her Bookmarked Recipes event

Read why it is advisable to invest early..

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Rumali roti


1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup maida/all purpose flour
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil

Make a soft dough of the ingredients and keep covered for 1/2 hour. Make small balls and roll out into a thin chapati.Stretch it to make it as thin as possible.

Cook on an inverted wok till brown spots appear on both sides and fold it like a handkerchief.

Serve hot with any spicy side dish
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chana dal kosambari


1 cup bengalgram dal soaked in water for 2 hours
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 green chilli finely chopped
Finely chopped coriander leaves
2 tbsp grated coconut

Cook the bengalgram dal in little water till soft. Dont overcook it till mushy. Drain out the excess water.

Add the rest of the ingredients to it and mix well.

Serve as a salad.
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Friday, May 15, 2009

Arbi roast

Another crispy version of arbi fry with less oil.


1/4 kg arbi/colacassia/chepankazhangu/Taroroot
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp bengalgram dal
1 tsp blackgram dal
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
1/2 cup poha/beaten rice powder

Pressure cook the arbi and remove the skin. Cut into small rounds.

Heat oil and add mustard seeds and dal. When it splutters, add turmeric powder and poha powder. Add arbi, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well and keep roasting on low flame till crispy.

Serve with rice.

Today's post on helping new bloggers: Writing and publishing a post
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Frommer's 500 Places for Food & Wine Lovers

Frommer's 500 Places for Food & Wine Lovers

I would love to tell you about the decadent and exotic trips I have planned this year. But my only travel plans are as follows--a trip to Seattle this weekend for the food blogger conference and two 3-day wedding weekends, one in Portland, Oregon and the other outside of Denver. Not exactly Paris, London, Barcelona, if you know what I mean. If last year was the year of the "staycation" I'm pretty sure this year will be the year of armchair travel for many people.

When it comes to salivating over future destinations, I've got a great book to recommend, Frommer's 500 Places for Food & Wine Lovers. This is a compilation, with highlights from various guides chosen by none other than Holly Hughes, a name you may recognize as editor from the annual Best Food Writing series.

Now the cover of the book features an "Outstanding in the Field" dinner. Not exactly the most accessible type of travel experience since dinners generally sell out months in advance and start at about $150 per head, but getting past the cover, what I like about the book is that destinations run the gamut from once-in-a-lifetime experiences like Crystal Food & Wine Festivals aboard luxury cruise ships to deep dish pizza in Chicago. In other words, something for everybody. The book covers shops, restaurants, cooking schools, festivals, tours, markets, wineries, you name it.

You could take this book on a road trip, but I suspect it will be the perfect book for your next trip to the sofa. Snuggle up and read about where to get Burgoo stew in Kentucky, a famous food emporium in Milan, or the malt whisky trail in Scotland. It's the virtual vacation that won't cost you a dime, once you've paid for the book, of course.

I'm giving away two copies of the Frommer's 500 Places for Food & Wine Lovers. Simply leave a comment with your suggestion of a favorite place for a food or wine lover, the more detail the better! While the book is primarily focused on the US there are recommendations from all over the world so don't limit your suggestions to just domestic ones. One entry per person. You must be a US resident or have a US mailing address to win. Winners will be chosen at random and while you must fill out your email address in the comment submission form, it will not be visible to anyone other than me. Good luck!


Black eyed pea rice


1 cup cooked black eyed pea
2 cups cooked rice
Salt to taste
1 tsp oil
2 cloves
Small piece of cinnamon
1 small bayleaf
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp bengalgram dal
1/2 tsp blackgram dal
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
Finely chopped coriander leaves

Heat oil, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, bengalgram dal and blackgram dal. When it splutters, add cloves, cinnamon and bayleaf. Then add ginger paste, turmeric powder and cooked black eyed pea. Add salt and garam masala powder. Mix well and add the cooked rice. Finally garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot with raita.

This quick rice variety is my second entry to WYF:Quick Meal event

Also sending it over to Curry leaf for the FIC:Favourite event started by Sunshinemom and Lori's MLLA-11 event started by Susan

I have a new blog ( that would feature my blogroll and awards.

Two other important sections in this blog would be "Cookbook reviews" and "Help on Blogging".

Help on blogging segment would feature notes for new bloggers who need assistance. The first step in this direction is "Creating a blog" .

Now for the second and most interesting section about Cookbook reviews. Inviting you all to be a part of this blog by sending me reviews of the cookbooks you have so that we can have one place that would feature all the cookbooks. It would help others to choose the books that would suit their needs and style of cooking. Please mail me the reviews and a picture of the cookbook front cover at I will soon come up with a logo that we can have in our blog sidebar which will link to the reviews of cookbooks. Hoping to get a good response from you all in this small effort of making a collection of good cookbooks.

My first cookbook review is LIFCO's How to Cook
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009


My recent addition to cookery books is one on Udipi cuisine and this is the first recipe I tried..


2 cups raw rice
1 cup grated coconut
3 cups grated jaggery
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cardamom powder

Soak the rice for half and hour and drain out the water. Grind it along with coconut and salt to a thin paste.

Heat the jaggery with little water and once it melts completely, add the paste to it and keep stirring to get a big lump. Add cardamom powder and transfer to a greased plate. Cut into pieces once cool.

This Udipi special sweet is off to Sia for her RCI:Udipi and Mangalore cuisine event, the series started by Lakshmi

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Paneer stuffed dosa


Dosa batter
1 cup crumbled paneer
1 small tomato chopped
1 small onion chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Heat oil and add cumin seeds. When it starts spluttering, add the onions and fry for a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes to it and cook till it turns mushy. Add turmeric powder and crumbled paneer. Add red chilli powder and salt and mix well.

Pour a ladle of dosa batter on the tava and spread it. Pour a little bit of oil in the sides. When cooked, place a little paneer filling in the center and fold it.

Serve hot with chutney and sambar.

Sending it over to Rinku for the CFK:Tomato event started by Sharmi
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More Chow Tips!
Here are two more Chow Tips--one about how to get more juice and peel from lemons and another about extending the life of fresh herbs.

In case you missed the last set of tips, here are links for:
* An easy way to roast and char eggplants for baba ghanoush without a grill
* The quickest way to marinate beef
* The tastiest technique for cooking whole baby artichokes
* What to do with leftover risotto

Monday, May 11, 2009

Raspberry Coconut Breakfast Cake

Summer is the season for fresh Berries, and what better way to get the antioxidants into your system than by beginning your weekend with a slice of this delicious Raspberry Coconut Breakfast Cake! Actually, I was tempted by seeing the IHOP commercials about the Strawberry Festival that's going on, but it looked like way too many calories to indulge in. So to satisfy my sweet tooth, I thought of baking something that's not too unhealthy, and can pacify my cravings too. Thus was born this Raspberry Breakfast Cake - baked with fresh raspberries, almonds, coconut, a bit of vanilla, and coconut milk, it is a perfect way to enjoy a summer morning with a cup of hot coffee, as you plan how to spend the weekend with your family. Off this goes to Meeta's Mingle, celebrating Spring Cakes this season.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-3/4 cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)
3/4 cup chopped or whole raspberries

Lightly coat a 10-11 inch round cake pan or a regular Loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix the coconut flakes with the coconut milk and vanilla essence, whisk and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar over medium speed until well combined. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the eggs, one at a time, until completely incorporated. You can even do this by hand, making sure you beat well after addition of each egg, so the mixture becomes light and fluffy.

Now add the coconut milk mixture, followed by the flour mixture, beating slowly after each addition so that the batter becomes white and fluffy. Finally fold in the raspberries and slivered almonds.

Pour the batter evenly in the prepared cake pan, and Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely, before attempting to slice the cake.

Serve a wedge with coffee for breakfast. For a more indulgent dessert, cover the cake with white buttercream frosting and garnish with more fresh raspberries.

Related Recipes
Raspberry Swiss Roll Cake
Mango Cake with Streusel Topping
Cranberry Orange Bread

Quick cheese corn cutlet


6 bread slices (I used brown bread)
Salt to taste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp chaat masala powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 cup cooked sweet corn
4 tbsp grated cheese
Pepper to taste
2 tbsp roasted rava

Mix corn, cheese, pepper and salt as per taste. (Cheese already has salt, so take that into account).

Dip the bread slices in water and remove immediately. Squeeze all the water and add a bit of salt, red chilli powder, garam masala powder and chaat masala to it. Mix well. Make balls of it. Flatten them and place little corn cheese filling in the center and cover well to make a ball. Shape them into rounds or heart shapes. Roll it lightly with rava or with bread crumbs. Repeat for the rest.

It can be either deep fried in hot oil or cooked on tava with little oil till crispy on both sides. Serve hot with sauce.

Quick cheese corn cutlet ready in minutes.

This is my first entry to WYF: Quick Meal event.

Also sending it over to Poornima for the MFT:Cheese event started by Bindya

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bittersweet: Book Review

Bittersweet:Lessons from My Mother's Kitchen

It's Mother's Day and I can't think of a more fitting tribute than Bittersweet:Lessons from My Mother's Kitchen. Lots of "memoirs with food" are about discovery and love and various happy episodes in life, but Bittersweet is not that kind of memoir. A seasoned war correspondent and Pulitzer prize-winning author, Matt McAllester begins his tale with the death of his mother, a woman who struggled for years with mental illness and alcoholism. He is someone who knows how to write about pain, but this is another kind of pain altogether. It is personal.

Just as food is a way to explore pleasure, it is also a way to explore grief and healing. McAllester tries to find the mother he has lost and that the world lost to madness, through her recipes and his recollection of meals she prepared for him in happier times. His writing is masterful and deeply confessional. The recipes, and the sense of discovery and understanding that come from this journey are bittersweet indeed, but beautiful, at times funny, and always very moving.

Although Bittersweet is not a happy-go-lucky kind of story, it is absolutely compelling. Tastes of British, Italian and French cooking, and the wisdom and influence of Elizabeth David are woven into the story of his mother and his road back from grief. There are recipes for scones from Scotland, an improvised cassoulet and an almost mythical strawberry ice cream. Even without the recipes, Bittersweet would be haunting and lovely. The book made me care deeply about the author and the sad story of someone brilliant who slipped through the cracks and most of all, it reminded me that food is sometimes the thing that gets us through the most difficult times as well as the happiest ones.

Cucumber kosambari


1 big cucumber cut into small pieces
Salt to taste
2 tbsp grated coconut
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 small pieces of red chillies
1 tsp lemon juice

Mix cucumber, salt, coconut and lemon juice well. Temper with mustard seeds and red chillies.
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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kovakaai curry


2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder or sambar powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp bengalgram dal
1/2 tsp blackgram dal

Cut the kovakaai into thin rounds or into thin pieces lengthwise. Heat oil, add mustard seeds, bengalgram dal and blackgram dal. When it splutters, add the turmeric powder and then the cut vegetables. Cook on low heat till it becomes soft. Sprinkle some water in between for faster cooking with less oil. Finally add salt and red chilli powder and mix well.

Serve with rice.
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Friday, May 8, 2009

Aloo chaat


2 boiled potatoes
Oil to fry
1 small onion chopped
Salt to taste
Cumin seeds powder
Chat masala powder
Sweet chutney
Green chutney
Red chilli powder
Fine sev
Finely chopped coriander leaves

Cut the potatoes into cubes and fry them in hot oil till crispy.

Sprinkle the masala powders, salt, sev and chutneys over it. Garnish with chopped onions and coriander leaves and serve immediately.

Sending it over to Pallavi's Sunday snacks-Chats event.
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Apricot Stuffed Pork Loin: Recipe

Apricot Stuffed Pork Loin
A few years ago I discovered a wonderful mustard at the Fancy Food Show. I wrote about it and not long after it won the gold prize at the Napa Valley mustard competition. That was just one in a long line of award winning products. Pam Kraemer founder of Dulcet Cuisine has a real knack for creating outstanding mustards, sauces, and now ketchups.

I'm always excited to try new products from Dulcet Cuisine and play with them. Kraemer uses very high quality ingredients and isn't satisfied until her products are the best they can be. They don't just make great condiments, they really shine as ingredients in recipes. She usually does all her own recipe development, but now and then I get to help out and share my creations.

I have to admit, I had never stuffed a pork loin before. But it turns out to be very easy and impressive. Rather than butterfly the whole loin and stuff, roll and tie, I just created an incision in the loin and made a pocket large enough to accommodate a very savory and sweet stuffing with a kick of spice. This recipe uses Dulcet Cuisine's wonderful new Sweet Orange Chili Mustard as part of the filling and the glaze. It's sweet and has a real kick to it and a rough texture. Once you have the basic technique down, you can change this up any number of ways--use different kinds of bread, dried fruit, liquid, mustard, etc. I think it would be a great dish for a dinner party.

Apricot Stuffed Pork Loin
serves 4 - 6

1 boneless pork loin roast, about 2 1/2 lbs
2 Tablespoons oil

1 cup wheat bread cubed, about 2 slices
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tablespoons Sweet Orange Chili Mustard
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup Sweet Orange Chili mustard
1 Tablespoon honey

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make a hole for stuffing that runs lengthwise through pork loin. Insert a sharp long thin knife lengthwise toward center of loin, then repeat at opposite end of loin to complete incision running through middle.

Combine the stuffing ingredients and mix well. Stuffing should be very moist. Open up incision with your fingers, to create a 1 1/2-inch-wide opening, then fill with stuffing, pushing from both ends toward center.

Pat pork loin dry and and season well with salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until very hot, then brown pork on all sides, about 2 minutes.

Place stuffed loin on rack in a foil-lined roasting pan. After 30 minutes, baste with the glaze, baste again 15 minutes later. Roast to about 160°, about 1 1/2 hours. 


Hotel Sambar


1 cup cooked redgram dal
1/2 cup cooked greengram dal
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste
Lemon sized ball of tamarind soaked in water
1 tsp jaggery
Finely chopped coriander leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 big onion-chopped
1 tomato-chopped
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves

Masala powder-

3 tsp coriander seeds
3 tsp bengalgram dal
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
2-3 Red chillies
2 tsp rice

Roast the coriander seeds, bengalgram dal and fenugreek seeds in a drop of oil. Then roast the red chillies seperately. Cool and grind all the masala ingredients together.

Heat 1 tsp oil, add mustard seeds. When it splutters add curry leaves and then the onions. Fry for a minute and add tomatoes. When it becomes mushy, add the tamarind extract, turmeric powder, salt, red chilli powder and jaggery. Cook for 3-4 minutes and add the masala paste. Then add the cooked dals and more water as required. Cook for five minutes till the sambar is of the desired consistency and garnish with coriander leaves.

Tastes great with rice or South Indian breakfasts like idli, dosa, upma and pongal.
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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bread halwa


3-4 slices of bread
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp ghee
1 cup boiled milk
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Few roasted nuts

Roast the bread slices in 1 tbsp ghee till golden brown. Cut into small pieces..It is optional to remove the corners. Heat the milk and add the bread pieces to it. Keep stirring till the bread absorbs the milk and becomes soft. Add sugar, cardamom powder and mix well till sugar melts. Add ghee and stir for a minute.

Garnish with roasted nuts and raisins.

The halwa would be the best if sweet bread is used. Other variations would be adding some fruits or some cocoa powder and choco chips.
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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chow Tips starring me!

I could spend hours surfing over at It's that hip food site that was briefly a magazine. It includes not just recipes but blogs, stories, message boards, cool videos and one of my favorite features, Chow Tips. At 45 seconds a piece, they don't take much time to watch and give you just the details you need.

When I talked to the video producer at Chow I suggested six different ideas for tips, and to my surprise, she said yes to all of them! Here are the first four, two more are on their way. I hope you enjoy watching them as much I enjoyed shooting them.

As an added benefit, Chow has also also posted the recipes for Roasted Baby Artichokes with Meyer Lemon-Saffron Aioli andCheese Stuffed Risotto Cakes from the cookbook I wrote, Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers.