Today's Guest Blogger: Sandhya

Here comes the Guest blogger's space after a short gap! Till now, I was doing this space with my friends and non-blogger buddies. But I realized it is time to invite the you, the lovely bloggers out there, to adorn my blog with your fabulous recipes!

And the first person, who came to my mind was Sandhya Hariharan @ Sandhya's Kitchen. She remains a very special person to me always, as she was the first person to visit my blog and leave her comments. (I still remember the date: 22/09/09!) My joy knew no bounds when I received the first comment on my blog; I am sure all of us can remember that date, very much like the "first love" :D Thanks Sandy, you have no idea how much happiness your comment gave me! Those who haven't yet had a chance to peek in her kitchen, please do it right away. She has a lip-smacking collection of recipes with great clicks!

Over to Sandhya:
Hi I am Sandhya Hariharan .. My friends call me Sandy.. For tat matter my little one calls me San ,Sandy & Sandhya..... Amma..
This is my first guest Host in 10 months of blogging !! Thank you Rohini....Muwaah ..

Meet Sandhya:
Well.. Its ages I have written something about myself.. Last I wrote was for my campus interview ..
A South Indian having her upbringing in Mumbai... This is what I would call myself.. A total blend in culture ...coz I have been rared for 15 years of my early life which I can hardly forget... Lived in Chennai , B'lore and now in London... I love travelling to new places , learning their food culture.. and having it in my kitchen.

Meet Sandhya's Kitchen:
My Love & Passion for Cooking grew after meeting this handsome Hunk Hari who would never tired of praising & appreciating everything I cook. No matter how disastrous it could be. By Product of this Passion is Sandhya's Kitchen.

Sandhya's Kitchen is a very passionate culinary corner where I ponder & experiment Cooking. Looking forward to make it a one-stop location for any kind of Vegetarian Breaks in years to come.
I would take this lovely opportunity to thank all my blogger friends who visit my blog and shower their lovely comments. I have grown a lot in my cooking and as a person .. in these 10 months..

Inspiration/role model/favorite cook:
South Indian cook in me is very much what my mother has imbibed... Now I'm learning in bits and pieces from my Mil , Granny.... and of course my mom...

My Inspiration:Gordon Ramsay.. I love the way he does it . I totally admire his art of putting together the right ingredients and bringing the right flavours. The way Gordon presents food in Tele shows...

Favorite Cuisine: Mumbai street food / Thai food

Recipe Name: Pav Bhaji
This recipe is no new to anyone... But I have grown with this recipe.. I could cook Pav Bhaji since when I was in Class 9 .This recipe has been improvised in flavours and ingredients as I have grown and finally compiled into the final version.
I have posted this recipe when I begun my blog.. and have been updated with better pictures from time to time. Find this recipe in my blog here.

Sunflower oil - 2 Tsp
Chopped garlic - 3 cloves(optional)
Finely chopped green chillies - 1-2 Nos (depending upon hotness)
Medium sized onions - 2 Nos chopped finely
Freshly grated ginger - 1 Tsp
Medium size Tomato - 4 Nos diced finely
Cauliflower florets - 1/2 cup
Green Pepper - 1 Nos chopped finely
Green Peas - Handful
Carrot - 1/2 Cup
Potato - 3-4 Nos boiled &mashed

Powders & Garnishing:
Pav Bhaji masala - 2-3 Tsp( I have used an Everest one)
Turmeric Powder - 3/4 Tsp
Chilli Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Salted Butter - 50 gm
Salt - To Taste
Lemon Juice - 3-4 Tsp
Coriander Leaves - 1/4 cup

For Serving:
Sliced Lemon - 4 pieces
Dinner Rolls(Pav) - 8
Salted Butter - 10gm
Finely chopped onions - 1/4 cup
Sliced Lemon - 4 pieces
Cheese - Optional

Cook cauliflower,peas,carrots,green pepper together in a pressure cooker and keep it aside.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan .Add garlic & green chillies and saute for 30-40 seconds. Now add ginger & onions and saute until it turns light brown. Add a pinch of salt while frying onions. It will help to evaporate the water & fry quickly.

Add the diced tomatoes to it and cook on medium heat for three to four minutes, stirring continuously or till oil separates from the masala.

Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder , 1 tsp pav bhajji powder to the mixture.

Now add the cooked vegetables & mashed potatoes to this mixture along with 1-1.5 glasses of water. Using a potato smasher, press the vegetables a few times till all of them are completely smashed.Bring it to a boil and simmer for ten minutes. Add the rest of the pav bhaji masala and salt now.

Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes and stir continuously.

Garnish the bhajji with chopped onions and lemon juice.

For Serving:
Heat some butter in a tawa. Slice pav horizontally into two and pan fry in butter for half a minute, pressing two or three times or till pav is crisp and light brown.

Garnish the bhaji with chopped coriander leaves, a little of butter and serve hot with pav accompanied with remaining chopped onion and lemon wedges.

See you all soon with another interesting post. Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging! :)

Aval Upma

Most of you, who are reading my blog for sometime now must have known my love for Upma. I know, it is sometimes boring, dull and irritating. I have a big list of "I-hate-Upma" buddies! But to me, it is an ultimate comfort food, when I am not in a mood for an elaborate meal. Sometimes it is for breakfast, most of the time I even have it for lunch!

So presenting you one more Upma from my cook book, Aval Upma or the ever-famous Kanda Aloo Poha!

Aval Upma
Flatted rice cooked with Potatoes, Onions and spices
What we need:
Aval / Poha / Flattened rice - 2 cups
Potato, medium sized - 1
Onion, medium sized - 1
Curry leaves - 1 few sprigs
Red Peanuts - a handful
Green Chillies - 1 or 2, minced
Mustard - 1 tbsp.
Jeera (Cumin) - 1 tbsp.
Chana dal - 1 tbsp.
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Oil - a tbsp.
Salt - according to taste

How to do:
1. Wash, clean and soak the Aval/Poha with very little water for about 10 minutes. Ideal way is to leave them damp after cleaning.
2. Heat oil and add mustard, followed by Jeera and Chana dal. When the dal starts to brown, add the curry leaves, turmeric powder, green chillies, red peanuts and onion.
3. Fry till the onions turn soft and throw in the diced potatoes. Add salt.
4. Fry for a couple of more minutes till the potatoes are well-cooked.
5. Now slowly add the soaked Aval/Poha and stir gently so that the spices are incorporated and the poha is not broken.
6. Leave it for a minute and remove.

Garnish with coriander if desired and serve hot. It is a simple, stand-alone dish and doesn't need any side, but still you can serve it with some yoghurt.

See you all soon with an interesting Guest Blogger!! Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging! :)

Sago Murukku ~ ICC March '10

When Srivalli announced this month's Indian Cooking Challenge, I was bit relaxed; not because I know to make Murukku. As a matter of fact, I have never made Murukku at all. I have only seen Amma doing it, but have never even touched the Murukku Achu but once (that was this time, when I brought it from India). Thank God I did it! Thanks Srivalli, from now Sago Murukku will not just be a challenge, but a regular affair at home! Amma usually makes Thenkuzhal or the typical Murukku. So Sago Murukku was new to me, but I was only thrilled with the outcome. It was perfectly crispy and so irresistible that it got finished in 2 days!!

But the flop-side was that the murukku didn't come out as a continuous piece; it got broke into small threads in spite of using the exact measurements given. And I was expecting a chakli-style murukku. Is my murukku ok? Or can somebody point out what could have gone wrong?

Sago Muruku

Rice flour and Sago coils

What we need:
Rice Flour - 2 cups
Besan flour - 1/2 cup
Fried gram flour - 1/2 cup Fried gram is the roasted gram dal which we get in shops. One needs to powder it and use.
Sago - 1/2 cup
Salt - according to taste
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp or as per taste
Curd - 1/4th of a cup

Muruku Achu/Murukku Press

How to do:
Making the dough:

1. Dilute the curd with water to make buttermilk. Wash and clean the Sago and soak it in the buttermilk for 3 to 4 hours.
2. Once the Sago is soaked well and is soft, mix in all the flours, salt, chilli powder.
3. Heat 2 to 3 tbsp. of Oil and add it to the mixture. Knead well to bring it to a chapathi dough consistency.

Deep-frying the murukku:
1. Heat oil. Meanwhile, take a small portion of the dough (the size of a medium tomato) and press into the dough.
2. When the oil is hot enough (not smoking), press the murukku directly over the oil.
3. Reduce to medium flame and fry till the murukku is golden brown on all sides.
4. Remove and drain on a kitchen towel.
5. Store it in a air-tight container for longer shelf life.

Important Notes:
Sago should be well soaked to avoid bursting.
You can lightly grease the insides of the murukku press with oil.

Hope you all enjoyed this month's challenge. See you all soon with another interesting post. Till then Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging! :)

Keerai Masiyal

Our blogger buddy, Sarawasthy @ Taste of Sara's kitchen is celebrating her birthday today; let us all wish her a wonderful Birthday and many many happy returns of the day!

I am on a recipe marathon, should I say? Well, there are so many posts lying in my drafts for a long time. Before any of them go stale, I want to deliver them hot and fresh! :)

Keerai Masiyal / Mashed Amaranth Gravy is that my-kinda-food which I turn to, when I miss home, or when my spirits need a lift. My brain is so complicated and one thing that I often go over and over is "Green means Healthy".. So anything green, I would eat without grudges telling myself that I am doing something good for my health! Oh, I don't graze grass though, that the cows in my farm(ville) will take care! ;)

So, I was so overwhelmed with joy when I saw these amaranth (mullai keerai) here in a Srilankan store I frequent often. This bunch was silently peeping through and the following was the conversation.

Me: Hey wait, Aren't you that.... Amaranth... Mullai Keerai??? What are you doing here?
Amaranth: Don't be silly.. What do you think I'm doing in a grocer's shop? Waiting for someone to buy me..
Me: But I have never seen you here before..
Amaranth: Oh ya, everyone likes me so much that as soon as I arrive, they come and buy me off.
Me: Oh, I see... *still contemplating whether to buy it or not*
Amaranth: Hey listen, I know you have been searching for me for so long... So don't pretend! I am tired of the usual curries these people make. Take me home soon before someone else buys me. I will be happy turn into that Keerai Masiyal / Keerai Kootu your mom often makes. I know you love that too!

Half an hour later, I was coming back home in the train happily with a bunch in my bag. The fresh smell of the leaves had done enough to make me go hungry; over and above that I was now and then opening my bag and smelling them, much to the confusion of my fellow passengers! Heck, what do they know about Keerai Masiyal??!!

Keerai Masiyal
Mashed Amaranth tempered with spices and coconut

What we need:
Amaranth leaves / Mullai Keerai / Thota kurra - 1 small bunch
Coconut oil - 2 tbsp.
Mustard - 1 tbsp.
Cumin (Jeera) - 1 tbsp.
Red Chillies - 3 to 4, broken
Urad dal - 1 tbsp.
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Fresh Coconut, grated - 2 to 3 tbsp.
Rice flour - 2 tbsp.
Salt - as needed
Water - as needed

How to do:
1. Wash, clean and roughly chop the amaranth bunch. Make sure you trim the roots off.
2. Place them in a deep pan/vessel, add just enough water to immerse them, add a pinch of salt.
3. Bring them to a boil, when keeping the stove on medium-high. Then reduce the heat and boil for another 3 to 4 minutes. If the leaves are tender, they take less than 5 minutes to get cooked.
4. Dissolve the rice flour without lumps in 2 to 3 tbsp of water and and add it to the leaves. Add the remaining salt.
5. When the raw smell of the flour wears off, add the grated coconut, give a good mix and remove from the heat.
6. In a small seasoning pan, heat Coconut oil, add mustard seeds, followed by cumin, red chillies, urad dal and asafoetida.
7. When they are nicely done, add the seasoning to the gravy.

You can add curry leaves to the seasoning for an added flavor.
Instead of using rice flour, you can soak a tbsp. of rice and grind it with coconut and add it to the gravy.
Use only coconut oil for seasoning; any other cooking oil won't bring out the actual flavor of this masiyal.

Hungry Puppy Caption Contest:
If you are creative (unlike me), have a good humor sense (unlike me, again!) and interested in captions, there is an opportunity for you to win some goodies. Please click on the picture below to know more about it!

What am I thinking? Enter your best caption for a chance to win a delicious prize.
See you all soon (now when I mean soon, it means soon!) with an interesting post! Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging! :)

Onion-Cherry Tomato Thogaiyal

Here comes yet another thogaiyal / thuvayal / Chutney for rice from my cook book. I am a great fan of Thogaiyals and I am always on the look out for new varieties. This one, I first made with the shallot or the small onions and the taste was just excellent. Then I wanted to try it out with the red onions and so made some minor changes and used some cute little cherry tomatoes and this time too the result was just lip smacking! Do try it out for yourself, and I bet you can't agree with me more...

Onion-Cherry Tomato Thogaiyal
What we need:
Red Onion - 1, medium sized, cubed
Garlic - a small pod, Optional
Cherry tomato - 5 to 6, cut into halves
Red Chilli - 3 to 4, adjust according to your spice tolerance level
Urad dal - 3 tbsp.
Tamarind paste - a tbsp.
Salt - to taste
Oil - less than a tbsp.
Curry leaves - a few, Optional

How to do:
1. Heat oil and add the Urad dal and red chilli. Keep frying them till the dal starts to turn light brown.
2. Now throw in the cubed onions, halved cherry tomatoes and a pod of garlic (and curry leaves, if you are using them)
3. Add salt and saute them well till the onions and tomatoes are cooked.
4. Transfer to a blender, add the tamarind paste and blend into a smooth paste using very little water.
Serve with rice, sesame oil and roasted papad. I bet, you'll lick your fingers at the end of the meal. I did!! :D

See you all soon with another interesting post. Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!

Kunuku Paniyaram

Hello buddies,
I am back after a self-imposed mini break!! We had been to Vienna and Bratislava (the capital of Slovakia) for the Easter weekend and it was just a wonderful experience. Vienna is known for its architectural beauty and it took us less than a minute to fall in love with the beautiful city and its lovely atmosphere. More than anything, we found the people a lot friendlier in Vienna than any of the European cities we had been to. Twice we were approached by total strangers offering us help, because we apparently looked like hapless tourists (and oh, we were!!) standing in intersections of every street, reading the map and looking at the numbers!! ;)

And for foodies like us, there is a street called Naschmarkt which is completely dedicated to food, spices, fresh farm produces and hot street food. The minute I entered the street, my nostrils were filled with the aroma of spices, Olives, just-made Falafels.. And we tried our Indian khana at a local restaurant called 'Indian Pavilion' and the food was just awesome! So anyone of you, visiting Vienna next, please do try out this wonderful eatery!

After loads of walking, tons of clicks, and pleasant memories, I am back to the routine.. Yup, Farmville, Blogging, Eating, Sleeping.. What else do you expect???!!! ;)

Coming to our recipe of the day.. You might be confused reading the title, because Kunuku is a different recipe made from Adai batter and Paniyaram, as we all know is made of Dosa batter. By know you should have made the obvious connection. Yes, I just made Kunuku's using the Paniyara Kal.
Image Courtesy: Indiamart
Though I am a great fan of deep-fried foods, I am little freaky/ worried when doing it at home. I would rather prefer eating French fries once in a month from McD or Burger King rather than attempting it at home. So, naturally when the remaining of Adai batter in my fridge screamed "Kunukku" at me, I could not resist the idea of using my Paniyarakal which I flicked recently from my mom during the India trip. ;)

So, here comes the recipe.. This calls for usage for very little oil and the result is just too good!
Kunukku Paniyaram
Mixture of Dals, tempered with spices and shallow fried

What we need:
Par boiled rice - 1 cup
Toor dal - 1/4th of a cup
Chana dal - 3/4th of a cup
Moong dal - a tbsp. Optional
Red Chillies - 4 to 5, adjust according to your spice tolerance level
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Asafoetida - 1 tsp.
Salt - according to taste

Onion - 1, medium sized, finely chopped
Green chillies - 1 or 2, Optional
Oil - to shallow fry

How to do:
1. Wash, clean and soak the rice and dals separately for 3 to 4 hours. Soak Moong dal separately for half an hour.
2. Grind the rice first to a smooth batter. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Now grind the dal to a coarse paste, along the red chillies, asafoetida, salt. Add the Moong dal in the end, whipping for just 5 seconds. Mix the dal, rice together.
4. Heat the Paniyarakal and grease with little oil.
5. Meanwhile, mix the chopped onions and green chillies in the batter. I like to have them raw, but you can also saute them in little oil, before adding to the batter.
6. Spoon in the batter into each of the Kuzhi (or Compartment). Don't fill it to the brim; leave some space to help you turn them later.
7. Leave them on with the lid for 4 to 5 minutes on low-medium. Then, using the spatula gently turn them to the other side. If needed, add some oil to the sides.
8. Again, let this side cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
9. Remove them and serve with coconut chutney.

1. Generally, Adai batter is thicker than Dosa batter, it should not be a surprise if Kunuku takes more time than Paniyaram.
2. Adding a handful chopped Mint leaves and Coriander will increase the taste and flavor by many folds.

Just after finishing, I realized that I have made an eligible entry for MLLA 22nd helping!! The most popular monthly series "My Legume Love Affair" was started by Susan and is hosted this month @ Ruchika Cooks.

Since Kunuku was not interested in going alone to the event, I am sending along
Chole Tikki
Pasi Paruppu Sundal to the same event.

See you all soon with anoher interesting post. Till then Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!

Chegodi Bracelet with Thatai Hearts & My "Compulsive"ness-es

So Me back!!! A month of hectic sessions left me worn out and I had a very satisfying weekend to give a fitting end to the whole thing. Of course, I would be continuing the course after sometime but hey, DO WE NEED A REASON TO SHOP?? TO GET PAMPERED? :)
That's what I did! A nice relaxed pampering session at the hairstylist, then some feel-good shopping* followed by relaxed Sunday and it spilled over to Monday, Tuesday too!

* Feel-good shopping means, shopping/buying and filling up your house with things, you absolutely know, you don't need, but doing it just for the heck of it! It can range anywhere from show pieces to fashion accessories, majority of them being Clothes!

Amma (and now DH) keeps telling me that I can open my own shop with the accessories I have! ;) But still the compulsive shopper in me peeps out every time I enter the mall/shop, takes over my original personality and whenever I come to, I am standing with bags full of items that will possibly lie in the wardrobe forever...

That said, I am a compulsive packer too. Meaning, whenever we go on trips, I always end up packing twice the amount I would need. For 4 days trip, I will have 8 dresses and corresponding accessories. And DH will always wonder why my bag is always heavy. My answer would be, "Because I am a girl!" End of conversation.

Now, what has all these to do with today's recipe? Definitely, this Chegodi Bracelet with Thatai hearts are not a result of my addictive-shopping. But they were born due to the "window shopping" by Sanjana @ KO Rasoi. She wants to give away a lovely Bracelet to one of us in turn for some unique dishes that are results of inspiration from that lovely bracelet. I have been thinking about it ever since she announced the contest, and now I am with this!
Chegodi or the Ring Murukku is not at all new to us. In fact, I was supposed to do it for ICC November Challenge (For my new buddies, ICC was initiated by Srivalli), but had to drop it due to my then-India-trip. But I had it at the back of my mind that I must try it out and found all right reasons to make it now.

Thatai is also one of the famous south Indian snack and our favorite munchie. Like the majority of us, I am no exception when it comes to munching snacks all the time. (Read: Compulsive Muncher)

So here I am, presenting the "Chegodi bracelet with Thatai hearts" for MY LOVE FOR SNACKS and sending them to Sanjana's "Wear your Food" contest!.

Whoops, what a lengthy prelude! By now, you know I am a compulsive talker, a compulsive writer..! Since you are still reading this, I am awarding the title "Compulsive Reader" to you!! :D

Chegodi / Ring Murukku
This recipe is exactly what Srivalli had given us.

What we need:
Rice Flour - 1 cup
Water - 1 cup
Split Yellow Moong dal / Pesara pappu / Mung Dal / Pasiparuppu - 1 1/2 - 2 tblsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Sesame Seeds - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Ghee or oil - 1 tblsp
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

How to do:
Making the dough:
1. Soak moong dal in water for half hour to 1 hour.
2. In a deep bottom pan, boil water, then add salt, ghee and moong dal.
3. Bring it to boil, simmer and slowly add the rice flour. Using a rolling pin or the ladle, mix the flour with water by stirring it well.
4. When the flour is mixed and done, turn off the heat immediately. Cover with lid and keep aside for 10 to 15 mins.

5. Once the dough is cool, add chilli powder, sesame seeds, cumin seeds and mix well. Knead till you get a smooth dough. Adjust the salt and spice depending on your preference.

Frying the Chegodi:
1. Heat a pan with oil, enough to fry 3 -4 at time. Simmer once it gets hot. The temperature should not be smoking hot.
2. Grease your fingers with oil and pinch out a small lemon size ball and roll between your palms to form a thick rope. Bring the two ends to together and press to form a rope. Ensure the ends are firmed pressed as not to give out during frying.
3. Continue with the rest of the dough until you are done with the entire batch. You can either cover it with a plate or a cloth to prevent the dough from getting dried.
4. Check if the oil is in the correct temperature, by dropping a tiny bit into the oil. Then gently slide the rings or the chegodis in batches of 4 -5.
5. The flame has to be on high until the chegodis come up to the surface, then lower the flame to medium and cook till you get a golden colour on the chegodis.
6. When the chegodis are golden all over, using a slotted ladle, remove to a kitchen towel and cool. Store in an air tight container for longer shelf life.

Notes: Remember to turn the heat to medium to high and high to medium for getting the chakodis to golden colour and also to be cooked evenly. Only this way you get crispy chakodis. These should not be cooked on low flame as they will absorb more oil and can turn soggy also at times.

Variation: Instead of Cumin and Sesame seeds, 1 tsp of Ajwain or Omam can be used along with chili powder.

Well, I purposely didn't join the ends for a few of them, just to create a chain effect!
Oops! Where are the hooks?

Crispy Spicy Rice wafers

What we need:
Rice flour - 1 cup
Urad dal Flour - 2 tbsp.
Butter - 2 tbsp.
Salt - according to taste
Chana Dal - 2 tbsp.
Curry leaves - a sprig (I didnt add this)
Chilli powder - 1 tsp.
Asafoetida - a pinch
Oil - to deep fry
Aluminum foil/Plastic sheet - to press the thatai's

How to do:
1. Soak the chana dal for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. In a bowl, take the rice flour, add the Urad dal flour, salt, chilli powder, asafoetida and mix well.
3. To this add the butter and keep mixing till it is evenly incorporated.
4. Add the soaked chana dal, torn curry leaves. Add water slowly and mix till you get the chapathi dough consistency. Close with the lid and set it aside for 10 minutes.
5. Heat Oil in a pan. It should be hot, but not smoking hot.
6. Meanwhile grease the plastic sheet with oil. Take a small ball of the out of the dough, press it on the sheet and make a flat round. Repeat with the rest of the dough. (I used a cookie cutter to get the heart shapes)
7. Slide 2 or 3 at a time (depending on the size of your kadai) and cook on medium-high till the bottom side turns golden brown.
8. Turn over with a slotted spoon and cook till this side turns brown.
9. Drain on a kitchen towel and store in an air-tight container for longer shelf life.

Heart puffed up with so much love!

Hope you all enjoyed today's post. See you all soon with another interesting recipe. Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!

Ariselu / Athirasallu / Athirasam ~ ICC Feb 2010

Oh boy!! This is the only word that comes to my mind at the end of this month's ICC. When Srivalli, who initiated Indian Cooking Challenge announced this month's challenge I was both over-whelmed and under-whelmed at the same time. Overwhelmed, because Athirasam as we call it Tamil is definitely one of my favorites. Under-whelmed, as all of us know, it is one of the difficult sweets to make. I am a great fan of the Kalyana Athirasams, the ones that come along with Murukku in the "Seer" in our marriages. In fact, Amma saved some from the Sashtiapdhapoorthy (60th Marriage day) of her sister and passed it on to me when Mom-in-law came here to visit us.. So that explains my love for this wonderful sweet :)

I immediately called up to check with Amma to get her inputs. She only asked me, "Are you sure you are going to do this?" This was enough to scare me once again and I was contemplating till last week how am I going to do this. Then finally, I decided.. Chalo, what's wrong in trying!!

First attempt was a total mishap with all the dough turning into hard bits with no scope for correction. Amma suggested that it could be because of the wrong consistency of the Jaggery and that I be a little more vigilent next time. Yes, vigilent I was, the second time. This time I took out the Jaggery at the right time, and I was finally able to make something that came close to be called Athirasam.

I made use of the second recipe given by Srivalli and found it simpler than the first one.

Ariselu / Athirasallu / Athirasam
This method yields about 8

Ingredients Needed
Rice Flour - 1 glass (standard measurement)
Jaggery - 1/2 glass
Coconut,grated - 2 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Water - 1/2 glass
Sesame seeds - 1 tbsp

Oil for deep frying.

Method to prepare:
1. Grate the Jaggery and add water just enough to cover it.
2. Cook it on high and removed the scum.
3. Then add the cardamom powder.
4. Once it starts boiling, add the grated coconut. You will see lot of bubbles coming out.
5. At this stage, add the Rice flour slowly and stir it together well. You will know when the consistency is correct, so till then you got to keep adding the flour.
This dough can be stored and used whenever you want. If it becomes too hard, just add about 2 tsp of water along with 2 tsp of sugar.
6. Get it to boil, while you keep stirring it. The mix should become soft again. When you handle it, it should come together as a soft dough. Divide it to equal balls.
7. Heat a kadai with oil to deep fry these. In a greased plastic sheet, pat them down to equal sized discs. Press down the sesame seeds over the top.
8. Once the oil is hot, gently drop these into them.
9. Fry on both sides. Since the sesame seeds are just pressed over the top, they will get into the oil. If you want to avoid this, try adding to the dough.
10. Once they are golden brown, remove and drain them on a kitchen towel. They will be soft when you remove them, will become crunchy once they are cooled.

Update: Some of my blogger buddies have passed on TOFAS which I'll update soon. Please excuse me for my laziness! :(

See you all soon with another interesting post. Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!

Guest Post #3 : Madhurya

Before any of you could scream "LAZY" on my face, let me tell you why I am "ON" and "OFF" the blogosphere. I have joined an intensive course for my next level Deutsch and it is taking up around 5 to 6 hours of my time everyday incl. travel. So I get drop-dead tired by the time I come back. Rest of the day is taken away by household activities (those of you in Facebook, you know I am getting addicted to FV too!). So, till the end of this month, please excuse me for my untold absence from my blog and of course, yours too! I shall catch up with all your lovely posts as and when I get time!!

So, coming to today's Guest, Madhurya is a dear friend of mine. We met here in Zurich because of a mutual friend. Thanks to so many common interests we share, it didn't take much time for us to become good friends. Madhu, as I call her, is a trained carnatic music singer and violinist. I always get mesmerised listening to her divine rendition of the ever-green classical songs.

Of all, she is an amazing cook too! Her Specialty (or should I say, Uniqueness?) is she never uses Garlic and Onion in her cooking. She intelligently uses her kitchen spices to recreate an even better . Though my amma's cooking taught me to use the minimum of these 2 stuff, over years I have become used to these that I feel so handicapped without Onion or Garlic in my cabinet! Amma will be angry seeing this... *blush*

C&S: Tell us about yourself!
Madhurya: A very jolly, creative, enthusiastic & a friendly person.

C&S: What does Cooking mean to you?
Madhurya: Cooking is a beautiful art. I love to try new recipes and also to invent new recipes :D

C&S: Your inspiration/role model/favorite cook??
Madhurya: For every human being in this world, Mom's cooking is the best cooking. I'm no different... :D Next to my mom, my Grandma, My mother in-law and myself :D

C&S: Your favorite Cuisine?
Madhurya: South & north Indian, Italian cuisine

So, do visit her blog "Subhojyam" and enjoy her spread! Here we go to our recipe which is my all-time favorite!!

Raw Mango Pickle

Raw Mango – 1 (cut into small pieces)
Chilli powder – 3-4 tbsp (add according to the amount of Mango)
Salt – To taste
Refined oil – 5-6 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 2 tbsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1 tbsp
Asafoetida – 1 pinch

Preparation of Pickle:
1. Wash the cut mango pieces and keep it aside.
2. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds. After it crackles, reduce the flame and add jeera (cumin), fenugreek seeds. Add 1 tbsp of chilli powder and fry lightly.
3. Now add the mango pieces, rest of the chilli powder, salt, asafoetida and mix well. Cook for 1 min and remove from flame.
4. Leave the mixture outside open for 1 hour and then refrigerate.
Enjoy it with Rice varieties, especially with curd rice.

Additional Info:
This pickle will stay good for 1 week if it is refrigerated. This one is so easy and simple to make.

Hope you enjoyed today's post. See you all soon with another interesting recipe! Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!!

Happy Birthday Nithya!

Our dear blogger pal, Nithya of 4th Sense Samayal (better known as the creative, innovative, enthusiastic blogger!!) is celebrating her birthday today! So friends, please join me in wishing her a very Happy Birthday and many many such wonderful returns of the day!
Happy Birthday Nithya!!

Image Courtesy:

Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani & Mirchi Ka Salan

Whenever I see/hear "Hyderabadi Biryani", I starting drooling... Not for the non-veg version though.. Wait!! Am I making a mistake by saying "Non-veg version of Hyderabadi Biryani"??? Oh yes, I am.. Isn't Hyderabadi Biryani always made with Chicken or Mutton or whatever...?

Being married to a Tamilian brought up in Hyderabad, I thought my DH will be the right person to show me a place that serves authentic veg version of this biryani. But he was also thoughtful when I asked for it. He and my in-laws did know a couple of joints that served the veg version, but all of us were quite skeptical because these joints are famous only for the non-veg biryani and always had the risk of (read: accidentally) mixing up both. So no taking chances!!

Now what? Put on your thinking hat and start experimenting.. That's what I did. Some enormous googling, some addition, some innovation and lots of patience resulted in a lip-smacking (authentic looking and tasting) Hyderabadi Veg Biryani! Traditionally, these biryanis are slow-cooked in dum-style i.e. a big vessel holding alternate layers of gravy and rice cooked not on direct heat, but kept over a bed of hot charcoal. I have used to oven-method to replicate it.

And what more could be a perfect partner for biryani other than mana Mirchi Ka Salan? Ever since I saw Malar's version of Mirchi ka Salan, I was looking out for an opportunity to do this exquisite combo! So here goes our very own Hyderabadi Delights Vegetable Biryani and Mirchi Ka Salan, hand-in-hand all the way to Pari's "The Combo Event" hosted to celebrate her 100th post. Hearty congrats dear!
Hyderabadi-style Vegetable Biryani
Basmati rice slow-cooked with vegetable gravy
Serves 2

What we need:
For rice:
Basmati rice - 2 cups
Water - 3 cups
Ghee - a tsp
Cardamom pods - 2
Salt - to taste

For Gravy:
Mixed Vegetables - 2 cups
I have used Carrots, French Beans, Potatoes, Green Peas, Cauliflower. I micro-waved them for 5 minutes. You can also par-boil them or use Frozen vegetables.

Onion - 1 big, thinly sliced
Tomato - 1 big, chopped into big cubes
Green Chillies - 2 to 3, slit
Coriander leaves - a bunch
Mint leaves - a handful
Ginger-Garlic paste - 1 tbsp.
Thick Yoghurt - 4 to 5 tbsp.
Turmeric powder - a tsp.
Cashews - 10 to 15
Oil/Ghee - 3 to 4 tbsp.
Salt - to taste

Whole Garam Masala:
Cinnamon stick - 1" inch piece
Cloves - 4 to 5
Bay Leaf - 1
Star anise - 1
Cardamom pod - 2 or 3
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp.

Biryani Masala powder:
Dry-roast the following ingredients and powder them: Cinnamon stick (2" inch), Cloves(4 to 5), Green Cardamom (4 to 5), Black Cardamom (1), Cumin (2 tbsp), Red Chilli (3 to 4), Peppercorn (1 tbsp)

For Garnishing:
Saffron strands
A tbsp of milk
Uff, that was a long list. Don't panic, you'll feel rewarded at the end! ;)

How to do:
Cooking the Rice:
1. Wash and soak the basmati rice for an hour.
2. Heat Ghee in a heavy-bottomed vessel. Drain and add the rice to this. Meanwhile boil 3 cups of water separately.
3. Stir till the rice becomes a little hard. Add the boiling water, cardamom pods and salt to this.
4. Cook till all the water is absorbed and holes start appearing on the surface. Switch off, cool and fluff it up with a fork. Set aside.

Preparing the Gravy:
1. Heat Oil or Ghee in a wok. Throw in all the ingredients marked under "Whole Garam Masala" and fry till the aroma is released.
2. Now add the cashews and fry till the cashews turn golden brown.
3. Add the Onion, green chillies and ginger-garlic paste. Fry till the onions start to turn brown.
4. Throw in the tomatoes, half of the coriander and mint leaves and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the salt, turmeric powder and 2 (heaped) spoonful of Biryani Masala powder.
5. Mix and add the vegetables. Coat them well with the masala and fry for 5 minutes till they are done. Remember, we have par-boiled them; so it should not take more time to cook.
6. Add the Yoghurt/Curd, give a good mix and remove from the flame. Add the remainder of coriander and mint leaves and mix.

Arranging/Cooking the Biryani:
1. Mix the saffron strands in milk and set aside.
2. Take an oven-safe vessel, or a heavy-bottomed deep vessel.
3. Arrange alternate layers of Cooked Rice and Gravy, starting with Rice and ending with rice, i.e both bottom-most and top-most layer must be rice.
4. Sprinkle the saffron-milk over the rice.
5. If using oven, cover the vessel with an aluminum foil and cook in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 30 minutes on 200° C.
For stove-top method, cover the vessel with a lid, lower it into a bigger vessel filled with water and place the whole arrangement on the stove on low-medium and cook for 20 to 30 minutes.

When ready to serve, dig out a layer all the way till the bottom and serve with some chopped coriander over it.

Mirchi Ka Salan
Chillies cooked in mildly spiced gravy
Serves 2

What we need:
Jalapeno Pepper / Long green chilli, medium-hot variety - 5 to 6
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp.

To sauté and grind:
Onion, medium sized - 1
Tomato, medium sized - 1
Garlic - 4 to 5 pods
Ginger - 1" inch piece
Coconut, grated - 2 tbsp.

To Dry roast and powder:
Roasted Peanuts - 3 tbsp.
Sesame seeds - 1 tbsp.
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp.

To Temper:
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp.
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp.
Curry leaves - a sprig
Oil - 2 tbsp.

How to do:
Making the paste:
In a tbsp. of oil, gently sauté the diced onions, along with garlic and grated ginger. When the onions turn soft, throw the chopped tomatoes, saute for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle the grated coconut and switch off. Let the mixture and then blend to a smooth paste with very little water.

Making the dry masala powder:
Dry roast peanuts, sesame seeds and cumin and make a fine powder using a mixie.

Making Mirchi ka Salan:
1. Heat oil in a kadai and sauté the chillies till the skin starts turning white. Remove and set aside.
2. In the remaining oil, add the cumin, fenugreek seeds and the curry leaves. When the cumin crackles and fenugreek turns dark brown, add the ground onion-tomato paste.
3. Stir well till the oil starts to separate. Now throw in the turmeric powder, red chilli powder and powdered peanut-sesame-cumin powder. Sprinkle little water to avoid the burning.
4. When all gets blended well (you can see that mixture will no more stick to the pan), add a cup of water and salt.
5. When it starts boiling, add the sautéed chillies and stir. Adjust the consistency of water based on how thick you want your gravy.
6. Allow it to boil for a minute and remove.

Serve the Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani and Mirchi Ka Salan together and relish the irresistible combo! :)

I agree the whole thing is a bit tedious process and involves a lot of work. But it is definitely worth every bit of it. So save it for a special occasion or a party-day where your efforts would be noticed and appreciated! :)

Hope you enjoyed today's combo. See you all soon with another interesting post. Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!

Guest Post #2

Today's Guest Post is by one of my ex-colleagues and a very good friend, Karpagam. A kind-hearted person, great cook and of all, a very helpful person she is..! We used to have a gala lunch-time every day, with all the team members sitting in one big table and sharing everyone's lunch box (typical pattikadu style!) Those days are so memorable time of my career. :)

These 2 recipes I am posting today are her specialties and I can vouch 100% for the taste! :)

French Toast

3 eggs
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
Sliced white bread - 10

1. Beat the eggs lightly.
2. To this, add sugar, salt, and milk and stir it well.
3. In a medium-low heated Tawa/Skillet, add butter.
4. Place the bread slices one at a time in the egg mixture for a few seconds.
5. Transfer to the tawa and cook until bottom is golden brown. Turn and brown the other side.

Serve hot with honey/jam. You can team it up with a glass of Orange juice and a fruit for a satisfying breakfast!

Milagai Killi Sambar
Broken chilli Sambar

Toor dal – 1 cup
Tomato – 2
Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
Tamarind Juice – 1/2 Cup
Green Chillies – 4
Garlic flakes – 5
Onion – 1
Oil – 1 tablespoon
Salt – As required
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
Jeeragam (Cumin seeds) - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry Leaves – 5
Coriander leaves – for taste
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon

1. In a pressure cooker, take the toor dal, tomato, green chillies, Asafoetida and turmeric powder. To this, add 2 cups of water and Pressure cook till 4 whistles.
2. In a pan, heat oil and add Mustard followed by Fenugreek seeds, Jeeragam and curry leaves.
3. When they are donea, add garlic and fry till golden brown.
4. Add chopped onion and fry till the onion turns transparent
5. Add Tamarind Juice and cook for 3 minutes.
6. Add this to the boiled dal, along with salt to taste and pressure cook again for 5 minutes.
8. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.

Hope you all enjoyed today's guest post. See you all soon with another interesting recipe. Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!

Khasta Kachori / Moong Dal Kachori ~ ICC January Challenge

Kachoris or Samosas? I would have without a second thought, said "Samosa".. But having tasted this Kachori now, I will have a dilemma from now on, when it comes to Kachori or Samosa... Of course, they are no synonyms! Since I hadn't tasted Kachoris for a long time now, I had no idea how would it even look like.. I don't wanna sound like a moron anymore ;)

ICC January gave me the perfect timing to rekindle my memory cells and refresh my palates. Thanks to Srivalli, whose brain child is Indian Cooking Challenge, who made the right decision, choosing Kachori over Samosa, otherwise a moron like me would have never remembered this delicious savory! Needless to say, the end result was simply delicious, crispy Kachoris that brought a wide smile on DH's lips :)

Thanks to Medhaa, whose tried and tested recipe is what we are going to use for this month's challenge. Over to the recipe.. I have pasted the recipe, as is as given by Medhaa. Also I made the kachoris a bit smaller than the usual, as I preferred it that way.

Adapated from Medhaa's Aunty recipe

Resting Time for the Dough is app 1/2 hr - 1 hr
Frying time for the Kachoris - 20 mins for each batch app.
Soaking Time for the Filling is app. 1 hr
Cooking Time for the Filling is app 15 mins
Yields - 15

For the Dough
Ingredients Needed:

All purpose flour / Maida - 2 cups
Oil/ Ghee - 1/4 cup ,
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Water for kneading

Mix the flour and salt, Add the oil/ghee and mix till you get a bread crumbs texture.
Slowly add water and make a soft dough. Knead well for about 8 minutes.
Cover and keep aside to rest for atleast half hour.

Special Tips / Notes for the dough:
1. Keep the dough covered at all times, if not it will dry up and not puff up when frying. If the dough is made right wet cloth can be used if not just a towel.
2.The dough could spring back for many reasons:
Dough is too cold (If wet cloth is used)
Dough is not soft enough.
Not kneaded for enough time.
Oil is less.
Not rested enough.

Khasta Kachori - Moong Dal Kachori

Ingredients Needed:
Split Moong Dal (yellow) - 1/2 cup
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Hing / Asafoetida - a pinch
Curry Leaves - 2 tsp chopped fine (opt)
Green Chilli - Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Sauf / Fennel seeds powder - 1 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Mango powder / Amchur - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

1. Wask and Soak dal in water for atleast 1 hour. You can go upto 4 hours not more.
2. Drain the water well.
3. Grind the dal to a coarsely. (Will resemble Idli Rawa)
4. Heat oil in a pan.
5. Add the hing and cumin seeds.
6. Once the seeds splutter add the curry leaves.
7. Add the dal.
8. Lower the heat and keep stirring for 5 minutes till the dal stops sticking to the pan.
9. Cook for another 10 minutes on low till the dal turns slightly brown.
10. Add all the masalas.
11. Cook for few minutes till the aroma of the spices hit you.
12. Add Salt.
13. Remove from heat and keep aside to cool.

Special Tips / Notes for the filling:
1. The fillings have to be really dry if not when rolling they will ooze out when rolling.
2. Adjust the masalas according to your taste. What is given in this recipe is spicy to the extent one can still enjoy.
3. For idea on pressing the filled kachori, check out Manjula's method. If you try to press out using a rolling pin, the filling may come out and make holes in the kachori.
4. Fry the kachori's on medium low to get a crisp outer layer, that is the key. For people using electric stove, the numbers can be going from 6 to 4.

To Make Kachori's
Make a small ball from the dough. Roll out into a 2 inch diameter circle. Or flatten the ball using your fingers having the center thick and sides little thin.
Place about 1.5 tsp of the filling in the center of the rolled dough.
Cover the filling with the dough by slowly stretching it over the filling. Seal the ends and remove excess dough. Repeat with all the balls and keep aside for 5 -7 mins.
Then using your palm, flatten the balls by lightly pressing it, as using the rolling pin will make the filling come out. (See notes below). Keep aside covered. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Meanwhile heat some oil for deep frying. The oil should not become smoking hot. Test to see if the temperature is right by dropping a tiny ball of dough and see if it is rising slowly to the top.

Drop the kachoris in batches of 3-4 gently into the oil. It should rise up slowly. If you don't want to use lot of oil, use just enough for two or three at a time and fry them.

After it rises up (about 2 minutes), turn it over.
Cook for about 6 to 10 minutes till the side down gets a golden brown color.
Turn and cook the other side for another 6 minutes or till its golden brown in color.
Remove when done, cool and store in airtight container. Serve with coriander chutney and tamarind chutney .

Special Tips / Notes for making the Kachoris:
You can fry 3 kachori's at a time.
The oil should be at a heat when you drop some dough it should come up slowly, if the dough comes up too fast the oil is too hot, if it does not come up then the oil is cold.
It will not be crisp if the oil is too hot.

Hope you enjoyed this challenge as much as I did. See you all soon with another interesting post! Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!

Happy Birthday Anupama!

Our dear blogger buddy and my shweeeet friend Anupama, is celebrating her birthday today! Isn't that so nice to be born on a day dedicated to LOVE? No wonder she is such a lovable person! :)

So, may we all wish Anu a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY and many many wonderful returns of the day!

And wishing all my friends and readers a HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!
See you all soon with an interesting recipe! Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!

Killu Milagai Rasam - Dedicating to a loved one!

Duh... Another rasam? Why is it again RASAM???? Before you could fire me with any questions, let me clarify! More than this rasam, my memories associated with this rasam are more special!

Every one of us has this special person in life whom we love/like unconditionally.. No no wait! I am not talking about Parents, Spouse, In-laws, Boy friend/Girl friend, Siblings.. True that we love these people and we always need to love them! But apart from these relationships, we may share a special bond with one person, who may be a friend, a distant relative, a cousin or a colleague, whom we love/like without any special reason! Do you agree with me?

So I am dedicating this post, to my that-special-person, my cousin, S. I am 12 years elder than her, but I am her favorite "Akka" and she is my sweetie-pie. Right from her childhood (and mine too! You know, I am not that old!) we have a mutual affection for each other, which keeps growing each day. I was (and am) so pleasantly happy to love and be loved by a cousin, as I don't have siblings and I used to be one nasty, mean, b****y cousin to the rest of them ;)

And this rasam, is one of auntie's speciality and S's and my favorite too. Now over to our "Killu Milagai Rasam"... Since "Fenugreek" is a main flavoring ingredient of this Rasam, I would like to send this to, SE (Denu)'s Cooking with Seeds:Fenugreek. CWS was initiated by Priya and hosted this month by SE.

Killu Milagai Rasam
Broken Chilli Rasam/Soup

What we need:
Tamarind - a lemon sized ball
Red Chillies - 3 to 4
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tbsp.
Mustard - 1 tsp.
Cumin (Jeera) - 1 tsp.
Asafoetida - 1 tsp.
Ghee - a tbsp.
Salt - according to taste
Water - as needed
Curry leaves - a sprig
Coriander, finely chopped - 2 tbsp. Optional

How to do:
1. Extract the tamarind in 2 cups of warm water. Set aside.
2. Heat Ghee in a deep bottomed vessel and add the fenugreek seeds.
3. Wait till they start turning brown, now add the mustard and allow it to pop.
4. Add cumin, torn/broken red chilli pieces and curry leaves.
5. When they are done, throw in some Asafoetida and a pinch of turmeric powder.
6. Now add the extracted tamarind water with salt. Check for seasoning and adjust the consistency according to taste.
7. Bring to a boil and remove.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with rice. To serve as a soup, let this rest for sometime, this is for the tempering's flavor to seep in, and then strain and serve.

Award time:
My lovely buddies never stop sharing their happiness with me. So here comes another shower of appreciation.
Priya on her 200th post shared with me this award. Hearty Congratulations dearie, wish you many many such wonderful milestones! *wondering how long would it take for me reach that milestone*

Malar has passed on to me:

Nithu shared with me:

Devi has shared with me:

Hearty congrats to Sara too, on her 200th post.
Thank you so much friends. Your every comment, award only boosts me to do better. Kindly do accept these awards from me too!

T&T Rotli from Lataji's Kitchen
Lataji is one blogger I always look upon and admire at. The way she gives every minute detail when making the dishes, her constant encouragement, and her immediate response to any queries only teach me how to be more perfect as a blogger! Here's something I tried from her kitchen and absolutely loved!
These Rotli's were so soft and perfectly layered that I actually kept peeping into the layers the first time I made it. :) And now whenever I am making Roti's at leisure, I make Rotli's instead. Thanks Lataji, for presenting us such wonderful recipes

It was a long post, I know. Here I sign off, promising to see you again with a Guest Post. Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!

My First Guest Post!

So I am joining the band-wagon too! Yes, starting today "Guest Post" will be a regular feature in my blog. Here I am planning to present you some delicious recipes from my family and friends who have inspired me, motivated me and the most important of all, from some of the wonderful persons, whose cooking, to me, is indeed a magic!

I am not promising to make it a weekly section, but I shall try to be regular as much as possible (given that I am such a lazy person, "regular" itself is too much a commitment to make!)

Kick starting this series with Pranita Raj, whom we fondly call Chinnu. We (as in my DH) are distant cousins, but when it comes to similarities, interests and tastes, we are not that distant at all! And she is the person who gave me the right push to start this "Guest Post" series. A greatly talented person esp when it comes to designing dresses and presenting the food artistically, this recipe of hers was featured in one of the editions of last week's 'Eenadu'.
Also she is planning to start her own food blog soon. So Wishing her good luck, let's hear what she has to say!

C&S: Tell us about yourself!
Pranita: A HR by profession, an artist by heart.. Thats what I am.. Super creative and Uber Crazy... :)

C&S: What does Cooking mean to you?
Pranita: I enjoy experimenting with food and as my husband loves homemade food, I always look to innovate and try out new dishes..

C&S: Your inspiration/role model/favorite cook??
Pranita: My mom is the best cook in the World :)

C&S: Your favorite Cuisine?
Pranita: I like Chinese and South Indian cuisine.

Recipe Name: Fruit Chaat
Speciality of this recipe: Done within minutes and very nutritious. Considering that Maha Shivratri is around the corner, what could be more apt than a recipe with fruits!

Fruit Chaat
Serves 2

A Pineapple (cut into two halves length wise, and scooped out, and the pulp cut into small bite-size pieces)
An Apple/Pear (cut into small bite-size pieces)
2-3 Chikoos/Sapota/Sapodilla (cut into small bite-size pieces)
6-7 Fresh Strawberries (cut into small bite-size pieces)
A few seedless Grapes (halved)
Watermelon Half (cut into small bite-size pieces)
Kiwi (optional and cut into small bite-size pieces)
Half a Cucumber (cut into small bite-size pieces)

For the Dressing:
2 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 a cup Lime juice
2 tsp Chaat powder
1 tsp roasted Jeera/Cumin pwd
1/2 a tsp freshly ground Pepper
A pinch of salt (optional)

For Garnishing:
An orange cut into two halves, some strawberries and grapes.

Take all the cut fruits in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix all the ingredients of the dressing.
Add this mixture to the fruits and toss lightly.
Serve in the scooped out pineapple. Garnish with this orange halves.
Tastes best when served chilled. :)

See you all soon with another interesting post. Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!

Ellu Podi / Ellu Urundai

Ellu or the Sesame seeds is the one of the most versatile seeds that have a place in every other cuisine in the world. They are known for the nutritional benefits and are exceptionally rich in Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Calcium and also have Vitamin B1 and Vitamin E.

There is also a general belief that Sesame seeds have the property to regulate the menstrual disorders in Women. Although I do not recommend taking it without any Professional advice, I myself have experienced it working like magic.

Over to our simple Ellu Podi or Sesame powder..

Ellu Podi
Sweetened Sesame Powder

What we need:
White Sesame seeds - 1 cup
Powdered Jaggery - 3/4th cup
Cardamom Powder - a pinch Optional

How to do:
1. Check for any impurities and dry roast the sesame seeds till they turn light brown.
2. Let them cool and powder them in the mixer.
3. To this, add the powdered Jaggery and pulse it for 3 to 4 times. Mix in the cardamom powder and pulse it once more.
4. Allow it cool and store it in an air-tight container.

You can use this powder to make Ellu Sadam (Sesame rice), Ellu Sevai (Sesame Rice Hopstrings) and also add this at the end when making "Vatha Kozhambu", it tastes awesome!

To make Urundai or balls, all you have do is to shape the powder using your hands into balls immediately after pounding. The stickness from the sesame and the slight warmth will help in shaping them.

These yummy Sesame balls find their way to Priya's Cooking with Seeds: Sesame. Thanks Priya for organising such a wonderful event!
See you all soon with another interesting recipe. Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!


Hope this post finds you all in good colors! Here I come again after a tiny gap, with a yummy, tasty, healthy and traditional South Indian Curry, Avial. I love Avial! (read in block letters!) Yes, to an extent that I don't need rice or Adai to go with it. I simply like to relish the bowlful.

I am sure there are various methods to prepare Avial; so I am sharing with you amma's version. I have also tasted other variations like Avial with Onion-Tomato, Avial with Tamarind, each of them tasty in their own way. Hope one day I'll post all of them!

Mixed Vegetables cooked in Coconut-based gravy
What we need:*Mixed Vegetables - 2 cups
Thick Yoghurt/Curd - 1/2 cup
Salt - according to taste

To temper:
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp.
Mustard - 1 tsp.
Curry leaves - a sprig
Asafoetida - a pinch

To grind:Coconut - 4 to 5 tbsp.
Cumin (Jeera) seeds - 1 tbsp.
Green chillies - 2 or 3 Red Chillies taste good too
Ginger - a small piece, de-skinned

*I have used Raw Banana, Carrot, German Turnip, Potato, Cluster beans, Beans. Ash-gourd, Yam, Drumstick are also best vegetables for Avial.

How to do:
1. Wash and cut the vegetables into long pieces. Boil them till they turn soft.
2. In a deep bottomed vessel, heat Coconut oil and add mustard seeds.
3. When they crackle, add Curry leaves and asafoetida.
4. Now add the boiled vegetables (along with the water used to boil them). Add salt as needed.
5. When they come to a boil, add the ground coconut mixture and give a good mix.
6. Bring to a boil and remove from flame. Now add the thick curd and mix well.

Serve with rice and appalam or Adai.

1. Use only coconut oil for tempering as it gives that special flavor. Also before serving, add a generous amount of coconut oil, mix well and serve.
2. If you are including Drumstick, cook them separately as they can get mushy too easily.
3. A little sour curd will enhance the taste.
4. If you have Banana leaves to spare, keep the lid of the vessel tightly closed with a banana leaf. The flavor and smell is just too good!

T&T Tandoori Mushroom Capsicum Tikka Rice from Sushma's blog
Sushma, we all know is such a innovative cook. I get excited everytime she posts an Indo-Chinese dish or Tandoori dish, as she not only does it in a simple way, she also ensures it is so tasty and delicious. I always wanted to try her preparations; So I chose this Tandoori Mushroom and Capsicum Tikka Ricefor a lunch when DH was working from home. Not only did the otherwise I-wont-eat-Mushroom-Person loved it, he also asked me to make it often. Thanks Sushma for sharing it with us the wonderful recipe, we simply loved it!

Award time:
Akal's Saappadu has passed this to me.

Kanchan has tagged me again with the Kreative blogger award. She wants us tell yet another 7 interesting (or not interesting!) things about ourselves. So here you go!
1. I am or rather was a very short-tempered person. I have refined a lot over years, especially after marriage. DH has played a major role in moulding me! ;)
2. I get real terrible dreams. Often I dream that I have become blind or I am surrounded by Crocodiles, wake up screaming and bring down the whole house. So don't you dare to sleep next to me ;)
3. I have only 26 teeth. Rest of them has been taken away in the process of installing bridges and setting my teeth right. :(
4. I love reading books, ok this one is old.. I love reading the same books again and again. Like for example, I have read Sidney Sheldon's Master of the Game more than 5 times and Dan Brown's Da Vinci code for more than 4 times. Crazy, ain't I?
5. I like to have Tea as many times in a day as I can (though I have it just once!).
6. I am the only person in my family who loves Dogs.. So much.. So much.. That I like to pet and cuddle all the dogs on the road going for a walk ;)
7. As much as I used to hate Greens, I just love them now! And I really miss them now, as we get only selected varieties here.

Thansk buddies for sharing your happiness with me too!
Guess I have bored you all enough. Here I sign off promising to see you all with another interesting recipe! Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!

PS: Does the spell-check feature in the Editor (of Blogger) work for you all? It doesn't, for me! :(

Arisi (Kurunai) Upma

Is this something to do with the weather? I have started justifying the word Couch Potato. I am literally lying on the sofa doing nothing the whole day! And you know what? Sometimes, it is fun! Once in a while I pamper myself with this eat-something-do-nothing phase..

Coming to the recipe, Arisi Kurunai Upma is a complete, wholesome meal by itself. Arisi Kurunai is nothing but broken rice. It is also called as "Noi" in tamil. As for preparation of this broken rice, a simple procedure would be to :

Wash the rice and drain it completely. Leave it for half an hour and then pulse (remember not to grind) it in the mixer twice or thrice. This helps in getting a coarse texture.

Over to our recipe..

Arisi Kurunai Upma
Broken rice tempered with mild spices
Serves 2

What we need:
Broken rice - 1.5 cups
Moong dal - 2 tbsp.
Water - 3 cups
Coconut, scraped - 3 to 4 tbsp.
Mustard seeds - 1 tbsp.
Cumin (jeera) - 1 tbsp.
Urad dal - 1 tbsp.
Chana dal - 1 tbsp.
Dry Red Chilli - 2 or 3
Salt - according to taste
Asafoetida - a pinch
Curry leaves - a sprig
Coconut oil / Cooking oil - 1 tbsp.

How to do:
1. Soak the moong dal in warm water for 10 to 20 minutes. If using store-bought broken rice, wash it well.
2. In a deep-bottomed vessel or pressure cooker, heat a tbsp. of oil and add mustard seeds.
3. When it crackles, add cumin, urad dal, chana dal, red chillies, curry leaves and a pinch of asafoetida.
4. When the dal turns light brown, add 3 cups of water and salt as needed.
5. When water starts boiling, add the broken rice, soaked moong dal and coconut scrapes.
6. Cover with a lid and cook until the rice is done. It should take around 15 minutes. If using pressure cooker, let it give out 2 to 3 whistles.

Garnish with fresh curry leaves if desired and serve with chutney / Gothsu (recipe follows). IMHO, it tastes best with a dash of pickle! To impress the kids, all you have to do is shape them into nice round balls! Like this!
T&T Ginger Rasam from A2Z Vegeterian Cuisine:
Rasam is indeed a comfort food for most of us. That too, with a running nose and sore throat, nothing can be more filling as a warm bowl of rasam! Ginger is also an effective ingredient to send sore throat packing (Remember the vicks ad, where the sore-throat-devil gets chased away!) So when the lovely ladies @ A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine came up with this Ginger rasam, I bookmarked it and tried it almost immediately. I strictly prohibited myself from making any alterations to the original recipe. Man, flu or no flu, it was so wonderful! Thank you dearies, for the yummy rasam!

Now, competing the shower of snow outside my window, is the shower of awards in my blog. Sorry buddies, I am very late in acknowledging some of them.
Swarna passed on to me
Devi, Sowmya, Indu (a.k.a) kitchen queen shared with me
Sowmya also showered me with
Thank a ton friends, it means a lot to me!
See you all soon with another interesting post! Till then, Happy Cooking and Happy Blogging!