Thursday, November 30, 2006

Radish Stir Fry

Dear Foodies,

I made Mysore rasam a few days back and paired it with this simple radish stir fry. The rasam has a comforting feel attributed to the freshly ground spices that it is made from. My mother very thoughtfully made some kind of a simple veggie stir fry along with it, something that would gel with the rasam and not take snatch away its glory.

I used Red Radishes to make this dish. I dont remember eating the red colored ones in India, radish is called mullangi in Telugu and the one I am used to seeing is white and my mother made Sambar with it (similar to Indira's recipe). When I saw these tiny lil beauties at the grocery store for the first time I was tempted to buy them though I dint know what to do with them. The first few times I made use of them in sambar, but then I was using up just 3-4 at a time and the pack never got over !! So I tried making a stir fry with these and it tasted really good. If you have tasted them, you will see that they are not as strong in taste as the white ones, those were really sharp in taste and even brought tears in your eyes !! But these cute reddies do no such thing. They take well to the spice powders and have a comforting feel to them.

This dish can me made in a jiffy and does not need much of your attention either. Cooking them this way also retains most of their nutrients as they are mainly steam cooked with very little oil used. Here goes my recipe.

  • 10-15 nos - Radishes, the small ones neatly washed.
  • 1 nos - Onion, chopped
  • 2 nos - Red chilli, dried
  • 1 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp - Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp - Urad dal
  • 1 tsp - Channa dal
  • 1 Tbsp - Oil, for sauteing
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp - *Curry Powder(kura podi)/Dalia Powder or 1 tsp - Coriander powder
  • 2 tsp - Coconut flakes (optional)
  1. Neatly wash & clean the radishes and chop them. Peeling them is left to your choice. Cutting them is the only tedious part for this dish !! Peel and chop the onion, size same as that of the radishes.
  2. In a wide pan heat the oil, once hot add the mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter add the cumin seeds and the dals. Toast them till the dals turn a slight red and add the red chilles and then the onions.
  3. Saute till the onions become transparent. Now toss in the chopped radishes. Sprinkle salt and cooked covered. The salt will bring out the water in the radish that will be enough to cook them. Sprinkle some water if needed. Stir in between to avoid charring.
  4. Once the radish pieces turn soft add the choice of spice powder you use and stir fry for a few minutes, uncovered. Add the coconut flakes now if using.
  5. Serve with hot rice and sambar/rasam. They also pair well with chapatis.

  • Other veggies like beans, potatoes, beetroot, carrot, bottle gourd, chow-chow can be cooked in a similar method.
  • The Kura Podi I used is the pack my roomies mom made in India and sent it along for us :-) I will try and get the recipe from her and post it soon :-)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Baking Adventures - Shortscones ??

Dear Foodies,

This is what I conjured up for Nandita's WBB # 7 - Baking for Breakfast event. Will be back with the recipe in sometime :-)

Off-late I have been trying to bake a lil whenever I can manage some free time. I dont like using eggs and so keep browsing for recipes that dont need it. Substituting eggs in a recipe is tricky, as you more often then not have to compromise on the texture or the taste. I am still on the look out for egg-less cake recipes, so any of you who have some do share them with me :-).

But in the meantime I was also looking at recipes for cookies and scones too. That was when I chanced upon this amazing blog, Baking Sheetby Nic. She has a huge collection of recipes which are soo well written and neatly explained. The first scone I had was a cinnamon scone at Panera bread and it was love at first bite :-) , so the moment I saw the scone recipes on Nic's site I was really excited to make some at home. I was going through the list of cookies and scone recipe she has and found a lot of them that did not need eggs. Browsing through her recipes frequently gave me a picture of the basic method and I experimented with the flavors depending on what I had in hand. I have made chocolate chip scones, coffee scones and berry scones, all of which were absolutely delicious. I only made about 4-5 medium sized scones each time and so they vanished before I and my friends were done tasting them. I have been planning ever since to make a bigger batch that would last a few breakfasts alteast, but never found the time or the motivation to do so.

When Nandita unveiled the theme for WBB event to be Baking, I rushed to my apt that very evening to bake some scones. Well it was actually night by then, I went home at 11:00pm and started out :-) I planned on making scones, but once the dough was ready I was in no mood of shaping them like those triangles and so shaped them randomly like cookies or bit sized scones. I then realised that shortbreads are, vaguely put, the cookie shaped version of scones. So now I dint know what I had made.....and so I named them ShortScones ..hehe..

I am going to give you a rough estimate of the ingredients I used. As I am still learning how to bake the perfect scones, I would suggest that you go over the Nic's blog for her detailed recipes.


Dry Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup - All purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup - Sugar, I used the fine powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp - baking powder
  • 1/2 cup - Butter, chilled and cubed ( I used half a stick of butter)
  • a pinch of salt
Any of these: 1/3rd to 1/4th cup
  • your choice of chopped berries (strawberries,raspberries,blueberries,cranberries)
  • dry fruits and nuts (apricots, raisins, walnuts,peacans)
My choice:
  1. 1/3 cup- Chocolate chips + 2 Tbsp - Cocoa powder
  2. 2 Tbsp mango pulp + 1 tsp - Elaichi powder
Wet Ingredients: 1-2 Tbsp of
  • Water or Orange juice/Lemon juice + a few drops of the zest or Buttermilk or Soymilk
Procedure: ( Preheat oven to 300deg F)
  1. In a bowl sieve in the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the sugar and mix well, toss in the cubed butter. And rub it into the flour mix with your hands by applying slight pressure on the cubes forming a coarse flour mix.
  2. Now add in your choice of berries/dry fruits/choco chips and mix well
  3. Next add the wet ingredients a tsp at a time and get the flour mix together, so you can shape it. When using berries you will need very little of the liquid to do the job.
  4. The mixture does not have to be kneaded, and should be loosely packed, shape the into a lil thick disc and make cuts with a blunt knife like you would to a pizza and place it on a parchment paper lined baking dish.
  5. Bake for about 15-20 mins, until a tap on the surface gives a hollow sound and it has a wonderful golden brown color. You can also test it withthe knife coming out clean when done trick.
  6. Break the individual scones along the cuts you made and enjoy one right out of the oven and try to store the rest if you can stop yourself from eating more ;-)
While baking these treats the way I have done them, keep in mind that they continue to cook for a little while after being taken out of the oven. The Cardamom- Mango rounds and nankatai were a lil soft when I removed them from the oven but turned crisp on cooling. So time them accordingly.

Chocolate Hearts :-)
I made a heart-shaped batch of chocolate chip + cocoa powder combo. These were my favorites, well ofcourse I shud add I am a huge chocolate fan !! Anything that has to do with chocolate or coffee or soft toys will grab me 100% :-) The chocolate chips that were at the center did not totally melt, but were warm when rite out of the oven and gave a nice gooey, chocolatey taste that was very very delicious. I dusted these with some icing sugar just for the heck of it :D I am going to try refining this recipe to get a near brownie taste soon.

Cardamom-Mango rounds
The second batch was with the cardamom powder and mango pulp, shaped as round cookies with a cashew topped on each. I arranged these cookes too close to each other in the tray and so they came out as one big cookie that I had to break. The mango pulp did not contribute much to the taste as the quantity was far too less to dominate. The cardamom powder was the ruler. This cookie very dearly resembled an Indian sweet, but niether me nor my friends could pin-point at the name though. Let me know if you try these out :-)

Savoury Nankatai's
I also tried out savoury Nankhatias taking hints from Jyotsna's recipe. Instead of 1/2 cup of sugar and cashews I added just 1/4th cup sugar and 2 tsp of salt. I also added some hand-crushed cumin seeds. I did add some vanilla essence but skipped the saffron in her recipe. I also dont think you will need 1/2 cup of butter, a little more than 1/4th of a cup ( 1/3rd of the stick) should be good, I found my biscuits too buttery and a little more flour would have helped.

These biscuits posed wonderful sweet and salty contrast to the other two. The cumin seeds in the biscuits added a very nice flavor, though I added just about a pinch of seeds, the flavor spread through every bite. Absolutely yummy !!

I warmed the chocolate hearts and Cardamom- mango rounds for 5 sec before eating them and along with a glass of warm milk or hot coffee/tea, made up our breakfast for a few days :-), all thanks to Nandita ofcourse for getting me to bake and thanks to Nic and Jyotsna for their wonderful recipes :-)

P.S: Here is Nabeela's recipe for scones. She has pics showing the usual method of shaping scones :-)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mysore Chaaru

Lentils cooked in Tamarind & freshly ground spices
Dear Foodies,

Mysore chaaru or Mysore rasam is one of my favourites, and is perfect for a cold winter night. I'll be posting the recipe in the evening, hopefully in time for your dinner :-)
Mysore Chaaru

This rasam was a regular at our home and more often than not it would feature on the Saturday menu. Why you ask ? Well, we usually had tiffins for dinner on Saturday's, and this rasam can be a standalone meal with just papads or vadiyum to accompany it. A simple aloo fry or any veggie, steam cooked and then stir fried along with some tadka, go very well with this dish. ( I used radish this time) And so it was ideal for an afternoon lunch with no leftovers for dinner and no worries for mummy too :-) .

This rasam has a wonderful medley of spices with pepper being the main source of 'heat' in the recipe, and this gives the warmth in the body when savored on a cold night. You can add a dried red chilli to the spice mix if needed. The rasam is also slightly thicker than the usual rasam but thinner than sambar. The freshly ground spices give a very distinct flavor to the the rasam, making the meal satisfying to the soul and the body. Do try it out and enjoy the winter night :-)

  • 1 cup - Toor dal, boiled and mashed lightly
  • 1 key lime sized ball - Tamarind, soaked in water and pulp extracted
  • 2 nos - Tomatoes, slit into four portions.
for spice powder:
  • 1 tsp - Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp - Coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp - Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp - Toor dal
  • 1/2 Tbsp - Channa dal
  • 1 1/2 tsp - Coconut flakes or fresh coconut
for popu/tadka:
  • 1 tsp - Ghee
  • 1 tsp - Cumin seeds
  • 4-5 nos - Curry leaves
  • Coriander leaves for garnish
  1. Heat some oil, roughly about 1 tbsp, in a wide pan and toast the ingredients under the spice powder one after the other. The coconut can be added after the stove is switched off, as it needs very little heat else, it might burn. Allow them to cool.
  2. In a vessel, pour in the tamarind extract, 2 cups of water, salt and the slit tomatoes. Allow it to boil.
  3. In the meantime, powder the spices, add some of the tamarind extract to aid in grinding if required.
  4. Add this spice mixture to the boiling tamarind water and continue to simmer.
  5. Once the raw smell is gone add in the mashed dal and again bring it to a boil. Add another cup or half of water if needed. I generally take out the tomato pieces for a moment and mash them throughly at this stage.
  6. Once the dal gets harmonized with the spices and tamarind turn off the heat.
  7. Add the popu done in ghee and serve hot with rice and vadiyam/veggies.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rasgulla & Rasmalai !!

Paneer/Cheese balls cooked in sugar syrup
Dear Foodies,


I was sooo excited after digging my teeth into one of these lovely, juicy lil fellas that I had to put it up on the blog immediately. Will get back with photos detailing the recipe later this weekend.

But if you cant hold on until then, then jump over to Priya's blog for her recipe.
After seeing Priya's post on rasgulla's I was really tempted to try it out. So this weekend a friend and I tried making this absolutely delicious sweet and I have to say it is a cakewalk making them. Thank you soo much for the recipe Priya.

I am not going to detail the recipe as it is very similar to how Priya made it. I just made a few changes that. I used a gallon of whole milk (Vitamin D milk). I learnt that the best way to split the milk is to add the lemon juice right when the milk is boiling and begins to rise ( a timely tip from a friend). After filtering out the water and looking at the amount of paneer left my friend and I sadly estimated the no. of rasgullas to be 20 lil ones. I did not have a cheese cloth and used one of the many free t-shirts we get around the campus, it took the paneer just about an hour to dry out completely. I totally forgot about using the blender which Priya mentioned and kneaded it by hand as given in one of the links she provided. We kneaded it for about 15 mins and I would have added about 4 teaspoons of all purpose flour. We then started to make tiny balls out of it and thats when we realised it was becoming a never ending process...the estimate of 20 slowly became 40, then 50 and finally stopped at 60 rasgulla's !! While making the balls don't apply too much pressure, knead it well and lightly press to get the shape you desire. I pressure cooked 20 rasgulla's in one batch. I made the syrup with 1 cup of sugar in 3 cups of water, but I had to add more as the sugar vanished once the rasgulla's were cooked. So taste the syrup to make it a little sweeter than you really want the as the sugar got absorbed into the rasgulla's leaving the syrup bland. I added a few drops of rose essence in one batch and 4-5 elaichis in the other, both of them were excellent. The rasgulla's were extremely fluffy and soft, when flattened with a spoon they immediately bounced back to shape taking in more syrup. yummmmm :-)

I pressure cooked the rasgulla's for a little more than one whistle in a Hawkins pressure cooker got from India. I turned off the heat 2 mins after the first whistle, basically I saw to it that I dont hear the second one.

I had a little more paneer left after two batches of rasgulla's and so made rasmalai with the rest. I reduced 2 cups of milk to half the quantity, in the microwave, added 2 tablespoons of condensed milk and 1/2 cup sugar, then dunked the flattened balls into it and microwaved it covered for 15 mins. I was a little lazy to use the cooker again and so microwaved the rasmalai. You can follow the same timings as for the rasgulla to make these. After you have reduced the milk, drop-in the paneer balls with room for them to grow and pressure cook for a little more than one whistle.
I added 4-5 powdered elaichis and sliced pistachios to the milk for additional flavor. Even this one was a winner, tasting super yummy.

Thank You Time !!
(Paneer balls ready to get transformed into fluffy Rasgullas)
This post is going to be my platform to finally say my Thank you's to all those who made me the foodie I have become !! The first Thank You is surely to my Mom and Dad. If not for their enthusiasm for good food I wouldn't have been such a foodie. My mother, I think is THE best cook. My lunch box at school always found friends other than me to empty it. She constantly experimented with different cuisines and churns out wonderful dishes. Any dish I make is perfect only if it tastes just like how my mom makes it and that I have learnt is extremely difficult :-P !! Even now when I am so far away from her kitchen I still continue to pester her to make my favorite dishes so that I can post them up on the blog here, and she has been doing it soo wonderfully with my Dad capturing them through photos. (Well the secret is, I want the recipes..and blogging is an excuse to get the secret ingredients from her ;-) shhhh) My Dad is a great foodie too, we used to compete in setting the salad plate for dinner and it used to be soo much fun. He would also neatly chop the fruits of that season and leave them in the fridge for all of us to gobble them up with out any trouble :-) Well....I could go on and on about the two of them. So I will end now with a huge Thank you and loads of hugs to you :-) Love you ! Today (14th, Nov) is my Dad's b'day, Happy Birthday Nana :-)

My roomies and friends and my brother who got trapped once, are the poor souls on whom I have been testing my experimentations all throughout. If not for their words of encouragement even for the worst turnouts in the kitchen...I wouldn't have dared to start this blog !! They are always pouring out praises that boost my confidence and I end up torturing them even more with my new experiments ...hehehe I know you guys repent it now...but its tooo late, the damage has been done. :D Thank you guys :-) ( Applause )

There are also the wonderful bloggers who share their tried and treasured recipes, so that newbies like me can flaunt the recipes at parties and with friends and take all the praise too. Thats a perfect example for 'having the cake and eating it too' couldn't have been any easier. Each one of the bloggers has re-defined cooking as not just a chore, but as a way of showing your love and affection towards your family and friends. Cooking should be done with a consciousness to make delicious and healthy food is what many of them have showed through their blogs. I also started the Treasure Trove section to thank all the bloggers for sharing their recipes and now I am going to say it here too. Thank You !

I was tempted to put a stat counter after reading Indira's post about her reaching a blog milestone ( Congrats to her again) a few days back and I was shocked on seeing the results !! I thought there were just a bunch of fellow bloggers who came to my blog and I always took the no. of comments to be the sole yardstick for readership !! I realized that apart from bloggers there are soo many others who come here, some who either leave their footprints through comments and many who are silent visitors. Thank you all soo much for dropping by, it really means a lot to have you guys visit me :-)

And most importantly, I'd like to thank Meeta, the person who gave us a chance to Give Thanks. Her blog is a delight not just for foodies but also to those who enjoy beauty. Each one of her photos is a masterpiece in itself and she has constantly been raising the bar for good pics !!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Vote for VCC Q3 2006

Dear Foodies,

VKN who writes at My Dhaba has been hosting a wonderful event called Virtual Cooking Competion that draws a lot of lip-smacking recipes to his blog. He is currently hosting the third in the series - VCC Q3 2006. The theme for the event was Festive Foods (any cuisine).

The winner of the event is decided based on the votes the recipe receives. So go over to his blog and have a look at the huge collection of recipes and cast your vote for the best of the lot :-)

Vote Here

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bisi Bele Huli Anna

Bisi Bele Huli Anna - Rice and Lentils cooked with veggies
Dear Foodies,

A couple of months back there was a sudden surge of Bisi bele baath recipes in the Indian blogs. Thats when I decided to make it too. It is a one pot meal, not as simple as kichdi or tomato baath, but definitely very very yummy and comforting. I made a cooker full of it on a saturday and it was all over by the evening with me needing to scrape a little from the bottom of the vessel for dinner :-)

Bisi Bele Huli Anna, is a Karnataka speciality. Bisi - hot; Bele -dal; Huli - tamarind; Anna - rice. Its similar to sambar rice, the rice here is cooked along with the sambar made from freshly ground spices.

Here goes the recipe for this splendid medley of rice and dal. The recipe list is long but all you have to do is roast all of them in a skillet and grind. So don't shun this wonderful dish looking at the long list of ingredients. This is a perfect one-pot meal for a cold, rainy weekend lunch.


  • 1 nos - Potatoes, cubed
  • 1 nos - Carrot, cubed
  • 1 nos - Onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup - Green peas
  • 1/2 cup - Lima beans
  • Coriander leaves for garnish
  • (You could choose any combination of veggies)
To pre-cook:
  • 2 1/2 cups - Rice, I used sona masoori
  • 1 cup - Toor dal
  • 1 key lime sized ball of tamarind soaked for 10-15 mins in warm water.
To grind:
  • 2 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp - Cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1 tsp - Fennel seeds/saunf
  • 2 tsp - Coriander seeds/dhania
  • 1 tsp - Fenugreek seeds/Menthulu
  • 4-5 nos - Cloves/lavang
  • 5-6 nos - Whole pepper
  • 1 no - Cinnamon stick, 1 inch long
  • 2 nos - Cardamom/elaichi
  • 1 nos - Star anise
  • 1 Tbsp - Urad dal
  • 1 Tbsp - Channa dal
  • 2 Tbsp - raw rice
  • 1 sprig - Curry leaves
  • 2 nos - Red chillies, dried
  • Oil for sauteing the above, roughly 2 Tbsp.

  1. Pressure cook the dal and rice separately. You can toss in the vegetables that take time to cook along with the dal. Soak the tamarind in some warm water.
  2. Heat some oil in a skillet and slightly toast the ingredients under the 'to grind' list. Take care to avoid burning any of them. I roasted the ingredients in 3 steps, first those from mustard seeds to cardamom in one go(add the fenugreek seeds last, they burn really fastttt), reserved them, then roasted the dals and rice and finally the curry leaves and red chilies. Allow all of them to cool.
  3. Transfer all these to the grinder and blend to get the spice powder. This masala does not have to be extra fine.
  4. Extract the pulp from the tamarind and bring the water to a boil. Also add the vegetables not cooked with the dal. Once they get cooked, add the spice mix and boil for a few minutes.
  5. Next add the cooked dal and fold in the rice taking care not to mash the vegetables. Add salt to taste and more water if required to get a slightly watery dish.
  6. Pressure cook for 1-2 whistles or leave covered on the stove top stirring occasionally till the masala blends with the rice and comes together as complete dish.
  7. Mix in some fresh coriander leaves and let the rice stay covered for a few more minutes
  8. Serve hot with a small dollop of home made ghee, some more coriander leaves and some vadiyum/papad. Now sink into the couch with your plate & your favorite movie playing on TV :-) You can also serve it with some tomato-onion raita too.

My notes:
  • You can use veggies of your choice. Beans, zucchini, chole etc. I personally don't like adding cauliflower to sambar dishes as they become mushy.
  • I prefer my bisi bele baath a little liquidy with the rice grains soft, unlike the separated rice grains for pulao dishes.
  • You can adjust the amount of red chillies and cloves according to your taste. I added a teaspoon of mom's sambar powder too apart from the spice mix.
There are loads of recipes for this from other bloggers:

Well I am going to stop here...looks like nearly every Indian blogger has written about it !!!

Blogging tips