Sunday, January 31, 2016

Chai (Tea) Masala Spice Mix / Blend ~ Day 31

A warm, aromatic and flavorful spice blend for making delicious Chai / Tea.  This spice mix is also delicious in making smoothies, cookies, cakes, and ice cream.  Homemade chai spice blend is a breeze to make and when stored properly it will stay fresh for a couple of months. 

  • Green cardamom - 1/4 cup
  • Fennel seeds - 1/4 cup
  • Cloves - 2 tbsp
  • Black pepper - 2 tbsp
  • Dry ginger - 1 piece, quarter size
  • Cinnamon stick - 2

Combine all the ingredients and grind into a fine powder using a coffee grinder or blender jar. Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Kitchen Tips - Cooking Odor Removal ~ Day 30

There are many ways to eliminate cooking odor in your kitchen quickly and effectively with natural ingredients.  This method always works for me whenever I do heavy cooking and frying.  Simply add some cinnamon and lemon into a pot of water, bring it to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  You can even add cloves, fresh rosemary and or orange peels.  Do you have any tips for removing cooking odor?  Feel free to share.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Radish (Mullangi) and Onion Pachadi / Raita ~ Day 29

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

  • Curd / yogurt - 2 cups or more
  • Radish - 1 medium, peeled and shredded
  • Onion - 1, finely chopped
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Green chillies - 2, small, finely chopped
  • Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida - a pinch
  • Curry leaves - 3, thinly sliced
  • Salt - to taste
  • Oil - 2 tsp

  1. Heat oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds.  Add urad dal, cumin seeds, green chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida. Fry until urad dal turns golden brown, about 10 seconds.
  2. Add the onions and saute for a minute and add radish, turmeric powder and salt.   Saute for another 2 minutes.  Let it cool.
  3. Whisk yogurt and add the radish mixture.  Mix well.
  4. Serve with curries, plain or variety rice, roti, chapati, cooked quinoa or just plain.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Poached Pears in Palm Jaggery Syrup and Coconut Whipped Cream ~ Day 28

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2
  • Pears - 2, halved and cored
  • Sugar - 2 tbsp
  • Cinnamon - 2
  • Cloves - 4
  • Star anise - 2
  • Saffron strands - few
  • Ground ginger - 1/2 tsp
  • Orange blossom water - 2 tsp (optional)
  • Grated Palm jaggery - 2 tbsp
  • Water - 2 1/2 cups
  • Chopped nuts - for garnishing (Not pictured)

For the whipped cream:
  • Chilled coconut milk - 1 can, refrigerated overnight
  • Powdered sugar - 2 tbsp or to taste

  1. Place the pears in water along with cinnamon, cloves, saffron, star anise, sugar, ginger and orange blossom water (if using).  Bring it to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until fork tender.
  2. Take the coconut milk out of the refrigerator and flip it over and separate the cream and water.
  3. Place the cream in the mixer bowl and whip until peak forms.  Add the powdered sugar and mix just until combined. Set it aside.
  4. Remove poached pears from the water.  Add grated palm jaggery to the water and reduce until it reaches a syrup consistency.  
  5. Drizzle the syrup over the pears and top it with whipped cream.
  6. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Homemade Croutons with Indian Spices ~ Day 27

Once you try these homemade croutons, you will never go back to the store-bought ones.  These croutons are ridiculously easy to make with your favorite Indian spices.  It is not only so delicious in salads, it can be served as a snack too.  
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 to 18 minutes
Yield: 3 cups

The measurements are approximate.  I used these measurements for 1 pack, about 8 small buns.

  • Any kind of slightly stale bread - 1 loaf, cubed, (I used Brat Buns)
  • Kasoori methi - 2 tbsp, crushed
  • Chat masala - 1 tbsp
  • Tandoori masala - 1 tbsp
  • Ground black pepper - 1 tbsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil - 1/4 cup

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients, except the bread.
  3. Add the cubed bread pieces and toss to coat.
  4. Place the the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking tray.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  5. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ragi (Finger Millet) Kuzhi Paniyaram ~ Day 26

On days, when my idli / dosai batter fail to ferment (which happens rarely), I keep the batter out fermenting for an extra day.  After the fermentation, the batter turns sour and it is perfect for making these paniyarams. I usually add some finely chopped green peppers and grated carrots to this and make it as masala paniyarams.  In this recipe, I added some sabudana which gives a spongy texture to the paniyaram, a tip that I read from a magazine.  
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 25 to 30 Paniyarams

  • Leftover Idli or Dosai batter - 2 cups
  • Ragi / Finger millet flour - 1/2 cup
  • Sabudana / Sago / Tapioca - 1/4 cup, soaked for 2 hours and drained
  • Onion - 1, finely chopped
  • Green chillies - 4, finely chopped
  • Ginger - 2 tbsp, finely chopped
  • Curry leaves - few, chopped
  • Salt - to taste
  • Oil - for frying
  • Aebleskiver Pan  -  for making paniyarams

  1. Whisk together Idli / Dosai batter, ragi flour and sabudana.
  2. Add chopped onion, green chillies, ginger, curry leaves and salt.  Mix well.
  3. Heat Aebleskiver pan / kuzhi paniyaram pan with 1/2 tsp oil in each cavity.
  4. Fill the cavities with the prepared batter. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Flip the paniyaram with a fork or a skewer.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  
  6. Remove when both side are cooked completely.
  7. Serve hot with spicy tomato chutney or chutney of your choice.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Carrot Paneer Masala with Mint (No Onion & Garlic Recipe) ~ Day 25

Paneer is an all time favorite food among kids, and my kids are no exception.  I like to combine it with healthy vegetables rather than cooking it in butter masala.  Another fresh and flavorful ingredient in this dish is mint, which blends beautifully with carrot and paneer.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

  • Carrots - 1 lb, peeled and diced
  • Mint - 1 cup, chopped roughly
  • Paneer - 3/4 cup, crumbled
  • Peas - 1/2 cup, thawed, if frozen
  • Coconut cream - 1/4 cup (I used the Trader Joe's brand)
  • or
  • Coconut milk - 1/4 cup
  • Cinnamon stick - 1-inch
  • Cloves - 4
  • Oil or ghee - 2 tbsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Water - 1 to 1/2 cups

For grinding:
  • Fresh coconut - 1/4 cup
  • Cashews - 3 tbsp
  • Poppy seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
  • Green chillies - 4
  • Garam masala - 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

  1. Place poppy seeds in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 20 seconds.
  2. Soak the poppy seeds and cashews in hot water for 15 minutes.
  3. Once soaked, grind it along with all other ingredients for grinding.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oil / ghee in a skillet / kadai.  Fry the cinnamon and cloves for 15 seconds.
  5. Add the chopped mint and saute for 20 seconds.
  6. Add carrots and 1 cup of water.  Cook until tender over low heat.
  7. Add the peas, ground masala and salt.  Mix well and cook for 7 to 8 minutes.
  8. Add the crumbled paneer, mix well and cook for 2 minutes.
  9. Finally, add the coconut cream or coconut milk.  Cook until it reaches one boil.
  10. Serve hot with roti, chapati or poori.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Plantain (Vazhaikai) Roast ~ Day 24

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

  • Plantain / Vazhaikai - 4, peeled and cut into 1-inch thick discs
  • Chick pea flour / Gram flour / Besan - 1/4 cup
  • Sooji / Rava / Coarse semolina - 3 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Urad dal - 2 tsp
  • Red chilli powder - 1 tsp or to taste
  • Sambar powder - 2 tsp or to taste
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Oil - 4 tbsp
  • Curry leaves - few

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the plantain discs, chickpea flour, rava / semolina, chilli, sambar, turmeric powders, asafoetida and salt.  Mix well to coat and set it aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet.  Splutter mustard seeds.  Add urad dal and fry until golden.
  3. Add curry leaves and the plantain mixture.  Stir well.  Arrange the plantains in single layer. Sprinkle 2 tbsp water and cover the skillet.  
  4. Cook over low heat until bottom turns crisp.  Flip the plantains and cook until crisp and tender.
  5. Serve hot as a side dish for any rice dish.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Energy Bites ~ Day 23

These no bake energy bites are perfect for breakfast, before or after workout, or even for a healthy dessert.  This recipe is so versatile that you can add anything that you think is healthy.  I made it with the ingredients that  I had in my pantry.

  • Rolled oats - 1 cup
  • Protein powder - 3 scoops (I used plant based chocolate fudge flavor powder)
  • Almonds - 1/4 cup
  • Walnuts - 1/4 cup
  • Chia seeds - 2 tbsp
  • Dried fruits - 3/4 cup  (I used dates and golden and black raisins)
  • Unsweetened desiccated coconut - 2 tbsp
  • Nut butter - 1/2 cup (I used peanut butter)
  • Honey - 2 tbsp

  1. In a food processor, place oats, nuts, fruits and chia seeds.  Pulse until coarse.
  2. Add the protein powder, nut butter, coconut and honey.
  3. Pulse until well combined.  Roll into 1-inch balls and store in refrigerator.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Cauliflower Crust Pizza ~ Day 22

 Can pizza be healthy?  Yes, and you don't have to feel guilty to have a slice of pizza anymore. This low calorie, grain and gluten - free cauliflower crust pizza is a healthy and delicious alternative for a regular pizza.  You can make it in many different ways as you like. I made it without the sauce and toppings.  But, feel free to use your imagination while making this yummy pizza.

 Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2

  • Cauliflower - 1, small
  • Dried basil - 1/4 tsp
  • Dried oregano - 1/4 tsp
  • Garlic powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Basil leaves - 4, thinly shredded
  • Ground flax seed - 1 tbsp, substitute for 1 egg (mix with 3 tbsp water, set it side for 5 minutes) 
  • Salt - 1/4 tsp
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese - 3/4 cup (I used pepper jack cheese)
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese - 1/4 cup

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line a pizza pan or baking tray with parchment paper brushed with oil.
  3. Cut cauliflower into florets.  Process florets in a food processor until it resembles like rice.
  4. Cook cauliflower rice in the microwave for 5 minutes on high powder.  Let it cool for a minute.
  5. Place cauliflower in a clean dish cloth and squeeze out the water completely. 
  6. Mix in the dried basil, oregano, garlic powder, salt and Parmesan cheese.  Stir to combine.
  7. Add the flax mixture and mix well to form a ball and place it on the baking tray.
  8. Flatten the dough firmly into desired shape.  Bake for about 10 - 12 minutes or until the sides of the crust turns brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and sprinkle mozzarella cheese and basil over top.
  10. Bake for another 4-5 minutes.  Remove and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
  11. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sweet Potato and Fenugreek (Methi) Leaves Stir Fry ~ Day 21

Of the many different types of sweet potatoes, I used a variety called, Hannah Sweet Potato / Yam.  It is dry and firm with cream colored skin.  The flesh is cream to whitish in color.  The sweetness from sweet potato and a light bitterness from the fenugreek leaves strike a perfect balance to this dish.  I had it with a cup of homemade yogurt and it was so delicious.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

  • Sweet Potato - 3, peeled and cubed
  • Fenugreek (Methi) Leaves - 1 bunch, plucked, washed and chopped coarsely
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Red chilies - 3, broken
  • Ground black pepper - 1 tsp
  • Amchoor / Mango powder - 3/4 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
  • Asafoetida - a pinch
  • Fresh coconut - 2 tbsp
  • Curry leaves - 4
  • Oil - 3 tsp
  • Salt - to taste

  1. Steam cook the sweet potato until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.  You can also cook it in the microwave for 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet and splutter mustard seeds.  Add asafoetida, curry leaves, cumin seeds and red chilies.  
  3. Add the chopped fenugreek / methi leaves and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the sweet potato and stir well.  Add black pepper and salt.  Mix well and cook for 2 minutes over low heat.
  5. Remove from the heat, add fresh coconut and give it a stir.
  6. Serve with rice as a side dish.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Apple Crisp ~ Day 20

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 - 15 minutes
Serves: 2


For the filling:
  • Apples - 2, cored and chopped
  • Granulated sugar - 2 1/2 tbsp
  • Lemon juice - 1 tsp
  • Cornstarch - 1 tbsp
  • Ground cinnamon - 1/2 tsp
  • Ground ginger - 1/2 tsp
  • Ground nutmeg - 1/8 tsp

For the topping:
  • Unsalted butter -  2 1/2 tbsp, melted
  • Rolled oats - 2 tbsp (I used Trader Joe's multi-grain cereal mix)
  • Brown sugar - 2 1/2 tbsp
  • Walnuts - 1/4 cup, coarsely ground
  • Chickpea flour - 2 tbsp
  • Ground cinnamon - 1/4 tsp
  • Salt - a pinch

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, place all the filling ingredients and toss well to coat.
  3. Spoon the mixture equally into two ramekins and set it aside.
  4. Combine, the oats, brown sugar, ground walnuts, chickpea flour, ground cinnamon and salt.  Mix well.
  5. Add the melted butter and stir well.  Sprinkle topping over the apples.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbly.
  7. Let it col for 10 minutes.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Rajma Pulao with Drumstick Leaves / Kidney Beans Rice with Moringa Leaves ~ Day 19

Moringa leaf / Drumstick leaf is best known for its high nutritional value and medicinal benefits. Though it is widely available in India, it is a rare find here in the U S of A.  But, where I live, fresh leaves are available all the time at the Indian or Asian store, for only $2/pack.   I love incorporating this super green into various dishes, so the kids get all the nutrients from it.  This power-packed, healthy, one pot dish is a great choice for a quick lunch or dinner.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 3

  • Basmati rice - 1 cup
  • Dark kidney beans - 2, 15oz cans, rinsed and drained 
  • or
  • Dry beans - 1 cup (soaked overnight with enough water, cooked until soft and drained)
  • Moringa leaves / Drumstick leaves - 1 cup (leaves separated from the stem and washed)
  • Mint leaves - 1/4 cup
  • Carrot - 1, large, grated
  • Onion - 1, medium, thinly sliced
  • Green chilli - 2, slit 
  • Ginger - 1-inch piece, grated
  • Garlic - 2 cloves, grated
  • Dried Pomegranate / Anardana powder - 1 tsp
  • Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
  • Water - 2 cups
  • Salt - to taste

For tempering:
  • Ghee and Oil - 2 tbsp, each
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Bay leaves - 2
  • Cinnamon stick - 1
  • Cloves - 4
  • Cardamom - 1

  1. Wash and soak the basmati rice for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat ghee/oil in a large, deep skillet.  Add cumin seeds.  When it starts to splutter, add bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom.  Fry for 20 seconds.
  3. Add the sliced onion, grated ginger, garlic and green chillies.  Saute, over medium heat, until onions turn translucent and slightly brown.
  4. Add the grated carrot, moringa leaves and mint leaves.  Saute for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the kidney beans, pomegranate powder and garam masala powder.  Mix well and cook for 7 to 8 minutes.
  6. Drain the rice and add it to the kidney beans.  Gently mix and add 2 cups water and salt.
  7. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is done.
  8. Remove from the heat and gently fluff the rice with a fork.
  9. Serve hot with your favorite raita.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ridge Gourd (Peerkangai) Thogayal with Peanuts and Cilantro

Thogayal or Thuvayal is basically a thick chutney made with either coconut, thoor dal, cilantro or ridge gourd.  It is usually served as an accompaniment with steamed rice.  Traditionally, this ridge gourd thogayal is made with minimal ingredients like urad dal, red chillies and asafoetida. I like adding peanuts and coriander leaves for some extra protein and fiber. Black pepper and ginger, give heat and flavor to this dish.  Traditional or not, I love all kinds of thogayals and this surely is a yummy one. 
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

  • Ridge Gourd / Peerkangai - 1, large
  • Peanuts - 1/4 cup
  • Urad dal - 1/8 cup
  • Cilantro / Fresh coriander leaves - 3/4 cup, packed, washed, roughly chopped 
  • Red chilies - 2
  • Green chilies - 2
  • Black peppercorns - 1/2 tsp
  • Ginger - 1-inch piece, peeled 
  • Tamarind - a small marble sized
  • Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp
  • Garlic - 2 cloves (optional)
  • Curry leaves - 5
  • Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Water - for grinding

  1. Wash and peel rough edges of the ridge gourd.  I usually leave the skin intact since it is high in fiber.  Cut into small discs or cubes.  Set it aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet.  Fry asafoetida, urad dal, peanuts, chillies, peppercorns, ginger, tamarind and curry leaves over medium-low heat, until golden.  Transfer the ingredients into a plate and let it cool.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in the same skillet.  Add the cut ridge gourd and saute, until soft and lightly charred.
  4. Turn the heat off and add the chopped coriander leaves and mix well to cook in the remaining heat.  
  5. Once cooled, grind the dal, peanut ingredients and salt into a power first.  Then add water little at a time and grind into a thick, coarse or fine paste.  
  6. Add the sauteed ridge gourd and coriander leaves. At this point, you can just pulse it couple of times, to get tiny pieces of ridge gourd while having thogayal, or grind to a smooth paste.  
  7. Serve with steamed rice.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Orange - Raisin Scones with Maple Glaze ~ Day 17

These buttery, soft, orange flavored scones are extremely easy to make.  It takes only 25 minutes from start to finish.  Sweet flavors, like raisin and orange blossom water combined with the intense orange zest and a maple syrup glaze are what make these scones so delicious and irresistible.

 Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 8 Scones

Recipe adapted and modified from: Sugardishme

  • All-purpose flour - 1 1/2 cup
  • Granulated sugar - 1/8 cup
  • Baking powder - 1/2 tbsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Orange zest - 1/2 tbsp
  • Raisins - 1/2 cup
  • Cold butter - 1/4 cup (half stick), cut into small pieces and keep it in the fridge until used
  • Buttermilk - 1/2 cup (I used homemade yogurt for buttermilk)
  • Orange blossom water - 1 tbsp (optional)
  • Milk - 2 tbsp, for brushing the scones before baking
For the glaze:
  • Powdered sugar - 1/3 cup
  • Milk - 1/2 tbsp
  • Orange juice - 1/2 tbsp
  • Pure maple syrup - 1 tbsp

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange zest.
  3. Add raisins and mix well to coat.  Add the butter to the flour and mix with your fingers until it forms a coarse crumble.
  4. Pour the buttermilk and orange blossom water (if using) and mix gently to incorporate using a spatula or a wooden spoon.  Do not over mix.  
  5. Place the mixture on a lightly floured surface and press it down to 3/4 inch round thickness.
  6. Divide the dough into 8 equal triangles using a pizza cutter.  Cut it just like you would slice a pizza.
  7. Place the scones on the baking tray.  Brush with milk and bake for 15 minutes or until the bottom of the scones turn light brown.  Remove and let it cool.
  8. Prepare the glaze by mixing together the ingredients for the glaze until smooth.
  9. Drizzle the glaze over scones.  Enjoy with coffee or tea.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Eggplant Rollatini ~ Day 16

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Serves: 6

  • Eggplant - 2, large, thinly sliced (about 12 slices)
  • Marinara sauce - 1 1/2 cups
  • Grated Mozzarella cheese - 2 cups
  • Ground black pepper - 1 tsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil - 2 tbsp

For the stuffing:

  • Ricotta cheese - 15 oz container
  • Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
  • Onion - 1, chopped
  • Frozen Spinach - 3/4 cup, heated through and squeezed well
  • Green pepper - 1, finely chopped
  • Shredded carrot - 1/2 cup
  • Grated Parmesan cheese - 1 cup
  • Fresh basil - 2 tbsp, chopped
  • Dried Oregano - 1 tsp
  • Red chili flakes - 3/4 tsp
  • Ground black pepper - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil - 2 tbsp

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Arrange the sliced eggplant in two baking sheets and brush both sides with olive oil.  Season the eggplant slices with salt and pepper on both sides.  Bake until tender and pliable, but not fully cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Let it cool.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a skillet. Add garlic and fry until golden.  Add the onion and saute until translucent.
  4. Add spinach and cook for a minute.  Add green pepper and carrot.  Saute for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the dried oregano, ground black pepper and red chili flake and salt.  Mix well.  Let it cool.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, cooked vegetables and chopped fresh basil.  Mix well to combine.
  7. Spread 1/4 cup marinara sauce in a large baking dish. 
  8. Spread a spoonful of ricotta mixture on the eggplant slice. Roll the eggplant slice tightly and place it in the baking dish seam side down.  Repeat the process with the rest of the eggplant slices.
  9. Spoon some more marinara sauce on top of the rolls and sprinkle mozzarella cheese.
  10. Bake the rolls, covered with foil, for 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Sabudana (Sago) Khichdi / Spiced Tapioca ~ Day 15

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Soaking time: 3 - 8 hours
Cook time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

  • Sabudana / Tapioca - 2 cups
  • Potato - 1, medium, boiled and cut into cubes
  • Peanuts - 3/4 cup
  • Green chili - 3, finely chopped
  • Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
  • Ginger -  1 inch piece, grated
  • Turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp or a pinch
  • Asafoetida - a pinch
  • Kala namak / Black salt - 1 tsp
  • Lemon juice - from 1 lemon
  • Curry leaves - 5
  • Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup, finely chopped
  • Salt - to taste
  • Oil - 2 tbsp

  1. Using a colander, wash the sabudana well.  Using a colander will help remove all the powdery sabudana while washing.  Soak in enough water for 3-4 hours.  If you are going to make the khichdi for breakfast, soak it overnight. After soaking, drain the sabudana completely.
  2. Dry roast the peanuts and make a coarse powder.  Keep it aside.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet, and add cumin seeds.  When it starts spluttering, add asafoetida, green chillies, grated ginger, turmeric powder and curry leaves.  Saute for 15 seconds.  
  4. Add the potatoes and saute gently.  Add the drained sabudana, peanut powder, salt and black salt. Mix thoroughly to coat.
  5. Sprinkle 2 tbsp water, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes over low heat.  Turn the kichidi once in a while.  When all the sabudana / tapioca pearls turn translucent, remove from the heat.
  6. Add the lemon juice and coriander leaves and toss well.
  7. Serve hot with mint yogurt raita.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Barnyard Millet Yogurt Rice / Kuthiravaali Thayir Saadam (Bhagala Bhath) ~ Day 14

The quintessential Thayir Saadam, every South Indians comfort food, gets a healthy makeover with barnyard millet.  Barnyard millet is high in fiber, has low glycemic index and gluten free too. Here is my version of creamy, scrumptious and divine thayir saadam / yogurt rice.
Preparation time: 10 min
Cook time: 15 min
Serves: 4

Barnyard Millet / Kuthiravalli - 1 cup
Water - 3 cups
For mixing the rice:
Yogurt / Curd - 2 cups
Milk - 1/2 cup
Salt - to taste
For tempering:
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 2 tsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Green chillies - 3, small, finely chopped
Curry leaves - 5
Ginger - 1 inch piece, finely chopped
Green pepper - 1/2, finely chopped (combination of red, yellow and green can be used as well)
Carrot - 1, small, grated
Red onion - 2 tbsp, finely chopped (optional) 
Oil - 2 tsp
For Garnishing:
Cucumber - 1/2, finely diced
Apple - 1/2, finely chopped
Grapes - 10, halved
Pomegranate arils - 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped

Barnyard Millet
  1. Wash the millet couple of time and drain the water.
  2. Add 3 cups of water and pressure cook the millet until soft.  Once done, transfer the millet into a large mixing bowl and mash well and let it cool.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in skillet and splutter mustard seeds.  Add urad dal, and asafoetida and fry until golden.
  4. Add curry leaves, green chilies, ginger, onion (if using), peppers, and carrot.  Give it a quick toss (about 30 sec) and remove from the heat.  This will retain the crunchiness of the veggies.  If you want them to be softer, cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add milk to the millet rice and mix well with a wooden spoon without any lumps.  The best way to mix the rice is to use your hand.  
  6. Combine yogurt and salt.  Add the vegetable mixture and combine well.
  7. Lastly, add the cucumber, apple, grapes, pomegranate arils and coriander leaves.  Mix everything well. 
  8. If the rice is too thick, add milk or yogurt accordingly.
  9. Serve with Indian pickle of your choice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sakkarai Pongal / Sweet Pongal ~ Day 13

Pongal wishes to everyone with a sweet / sakkarai pongal.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Raw rice - 1 cup, washed
Split Moong dal - 1/4 cup
Milk - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Jaggery - 2 cups, powdered
Ghee - 1/4 cup
Cashews - 8
Raisins - 10
Clove - 3
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Edible camphor - a pinch (optional)

  1. In a small skillet, dry roast the moong dal until golden brown.
  2. Combine rice, dal, milk,water and 1tbsp ghee and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles.
  3. Meanwhile, dissolve jaggery in 1/4 cup water on a low heat.  Strain the jaggery syrup for impurities.
  4. Once the rice is cooked, mash the rice and add the jaggery syrup and mix well.  Add 2 tbsp ghee and cook on low flame, stirring constantly, for 5 minute.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a small pan.  Fry the cashews and raisins.  When the raisins plumps up remove from the heat and add the cloves and pinch of edible camphor.  Pour it over the pongal along with cardamom powder.  Mix well to combine.  
  6. Serve hot.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Paruppu Poli / Puran Poli ~ Day 12

Celebrating Bhogi, the first day of the harvest festival, with Puran Poli.
 Preparation time: 1-2 hours
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yields: 8-10
Serves: 4


  • All purpose flour - 1 cup
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Channa dal /  - 1 cup
  • Jaggery - 1 cup
  • Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Sesame oil - 4 tbsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Water - for kneading
  • Ghee - for frying 

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, turmeric powder and salt.  Add 2 tbsp oil and mix well.  
  2. Add water little at a time and knead into a soft and pliable dough.  
  3. Add the remaining oil and knead one more time.  Cover and let it rest for 1-2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, cook (in a pressure cooker or on the stove top) channa dal with enough water until soft. 
  5. Drain and cool, lightly.  In a saucepan, melt the jaggery with 1 tbsp of water.  Strain the jaggery syrup to remove impurities.  Rinse the saucepan and add the jaggery syrup, cooked dal, coconut and 1 tsp of ghee.
  6. Cook on a medium heat until thick and the mixtures starts leaving the side.
  7. Cool completely and grind the mixture with cardamom powder to a smooth paste using a food processor.
  8. Divide the mixture into lemon sized balls. Take the dough and knead again.
  9. Take a large piece of parchment paper for making poli.  
  10. Take a small amount of dough and flatten it slightly on the parchment paper.  Place the sweet ball in the middle and cover the edges.  Pinch and remove excess dough.  Now flatten the dough using your finger and make thin discs.
  11. Heat a nonstick or a cast iron skillet. Carefully lift the flattened discs and place it on the hot skillet.
  12. Cook until the bottom turns slightly brown.  Flip it and apply little all over.  Cook both sides with ghee.
  13. Repeat the process until all the dough is used.
  14. Serve warm.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Black Pepper and Curry Leaves Spaghetti Tossed with Clarified Butter (Ghee) ~ Day 11

Everything gets better when you cook with butter.  And, if it happens to be ghee / clarified butter, it's even better.  Nowadays, you can find ghee practically in any major grocery store here in the USA.

This rich, aromatic, warm and spicy spaghetti is so comforting and addictive for cold winter nights.
 Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 -12  minutes
Serves: 4

  • Organic Spaghetti - 1 lb
  • Black peppercorns - 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves - 10
  • Ghee / Clarified butter - 3 tbsp (you can use half olive oil and half ghee as well)
  • Salt - to taste

  1. Cook pasta in boiling water with some salt for 7-8 minutes or according to the instruction on the package.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat about 1/2 tsp ghee and roast the black peppercorns, cumin seeds and 5 curry leaves for 30 seconds.  Let it cool a bit and grind into a coarse powder. Mortar and pestle can be used to crush the peppercorns as well.
  3. Drain the pasta and reserve some water.  In a large skillet, heat the reaming ghee and splutter mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and add the ground pepper powder.  Add the cooked pasta and salt and toss well to coat. 
  5. Serve hot.  If pasta gets dry after a while, add little pasta water and mix.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Baked Masala French Fries ~ Day 10

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4

  • Russet Potatoes - 3, large
  • Olive oil or Coconut oil - 2 tbsp
  • Finely chopped coriander leaves - for garnishing

For the Spice Mix:
  • Coriander powder - 3/4 tsp
  • Cumin powder - 3/4 tsp
  • Red chili powder - 1 tsp
  • Ground black pepper - 1/2 tsp
  • Mango powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Kasoori methi - 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Salt - 1 tsp
  • Optional: Onion powder - 3/4 tsp and Garlic powder 1/2 tsp

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.  Line a baking tray with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Wash, peel and cut the potatoes into finger size strips and place it in water.
  3. Combine all the spice mix ingredients.
  4. Pat dry the potato strips well in a kitchen towel or paper towel.
  5. Place the potato strips on the tray and add oil and coat well.
  6. Sprinkle desired amount of spice mix and rub the potato strips.  Make sure all the sides are coated well.  Arrange potatoes in a single layer on the baking tray.
  7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, turning the fries halfway through.  Bake until golden brown and crispy.  Sprinkle coriander leaves before serving.
  8. Serve hot with ketchup or any dip.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Simple Tomato Paruppu / Pappu / Dal ~ Day 9

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

    • Toor dal and Split moong dal - 1/2 cup each (just one variety of dal can be used as well)
    • Tomatoes - 3, cut into medium sized chunks 
    • Green chilies - 3, chopped or slit
    • Ginger - 1 inch, julienned
    • Turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
    • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
    • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
    • Asafoetida - 1/4 tspSalt - to taste
    • Oil - 2 tsp
    • Curry leaves - few
    • Fresh coriander leaves -  for garnishing

    1. Wash and rinse both the dals and pressure cook with enough water and turmeric powder for 4-5 whistles.
    2. In a saucepan, add tomatoes, green chilies and ginger.  Add water just to cover the tomatoes. Adding too much water will result in watery soup.
    3. Bring it to a boil on a low flame. It takes only 4-5 minutes to cook the tomatoes.  Cooked tomatoes should be firm, not mushy.
    4. Add the cooked dal, and salt.  Mix gently and just bring it to one boil.
    5. Heat oil in small pan and splutter mustard seeds. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves.
    6. Add it to the dal and mix well.
    7. Garnish with coriander leaves.
    8. Serve with steamed rice and dollop of desi ghee.

    Friday, January 8, 2016

    Akki Roti with Edamame - Taste of Karnataka ~ Day 8

    This is a very popular breakfast dish from the State of Karnataka in India.  Akki means rice in Kannada language.  These rice flour tortillas are so simple to make yet it tastes so delicious.  In this recipe, I have used edamame to add some protein to the dish.  You can use dill or fenugreek leaves as well.

    Preparation time: 5 minutes
    Cook time: 20 minutes
    Yields: 4

    • Rice flour (white or brown) - 1 cup
    • Shelled Edamame - 3/4 cup, frozen or fresh,  ( if frozen, cook in the microwave for 1 minute)
    • Onion - 1, medium, finely chopped
    • Grated Coconut - 1/4 cup
    • Green chilies - 2
    • Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
    • Cilantro / Fresh Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, finely chopped
    • Salt - to taste
    • Oil - for frying
    • Water - 3/4 to 1 cup
    • Parchment paper for making rotis.

    1. Using a blender jar or food processor, pulse the edamame and green chilies.   It should be coarse and not mushy.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, combine rice flour, chopped onion, coconut, chopped edamame-green chili mix, cumin seeds, chopped cilantro and salt.
    3. Add water little at a time and knead to make a soft dough.  The dough should be moist and spreadable by fingers.
    4. Heat a cast iron skillet.
    5. Divide the dough into 4 equal balls. Take a small piece of parchment paper and spread little oil.
    6. Take one ball of dough and place it on the parchment.  Dip your finger in water and flatten the dough evenly into a round disk. Make a hole in the middle.
    7. Pick the parchment paper and place it on the hot skillet.  Remove the parchment paper.  It should come off easily.
    8. Spoon some oil around the edges and in the middle.  Cook on a medium heat until bottom is golden brown.  Flip and cook on the other side.  Repeat the process.
    9. Serve hot with chutney of your choice.

    Thursday, January 7, 2016

    Avocado - Fruit Salad with Citrus Dressing ~ Day 7

    Preparation time: 15 minutes
    Serves: 2 -4

    Avocado - 2, pitted and cubed
    Cherry tomatoes - 10, cut into halves
    Cucumber - 1, small, peeled and cubed
    Pineapple chunks - 3/4 cup
    Grapes (red, green or both) - 1/2 cup, cut into halves
    Black beans - 1 can, rinsed and drained
    Salad mix - 2 cups (I used spring mix)

    For the dressing:
    Orange Juice - 1/4 cup
    Lemon Juice - 2 tbsp
    Lemon zest - 1 tsp
    Olive Oil - 3 tbsp (I used avocado oil)
    Ground black pepper - 1 tsp or to taste
    Chat masala - 1 tsp (optional)
    Salt - to taste

    1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the salad.
    2. Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing in another bowl until smooth.  You can also use a blender to make the dressing.
    3. Before serving, add the desired amount of dressing to the salad and serve.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2016

    Turnip Mor Kootu / Turnip in Yogurt Gravy ~ Day 6

    Mor is buttermilk in Tamil.  This quick and simple recipe is usually made with winter melon, coyote squash, spinach or banana stem.  Today, I only had Turnip in hand and I really was craving for mor kootu, hence this became the recipe.   I don't add any tempering to this kootu except for the coconut oil and curry leaves.  If you prefer, your choice of tempering can be added to the dish.
    Preparation time: 10 min
    Cook time: 15 min
    Serves: 4

    • Turnip - 1 lb, peeled and cut into cubes
    • Grated coconut - 1/4 cup
    • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
    • Green chilies - 2
    • Black pepper - 1/4 tsp
    • Ginger - 1/2 inch
    • Yogurt / Curd - 1/2 cup, beaten
    • Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
    • Curry leaves - few
    • Salt - to taste

    1. Place the turnip in a skillet or saucepan and add water just enough to cover the turnip.
    2. Cook until tender.  Meanwhile, grind the coconut, cumin seeds, chilies, ginger and black pepper to a smooth paste, using little water.
    3. Add the ground paste and salt to the cooked turnip and stir well.  Let it come to a boil on a low flame.
    4. Add the yogurt/ curd and remove from the heat.  Stir gently to incorporate.  
    5. Heat coconut oil in a small pan and fry the curry leaves.  Pour this over the kootu and give it a stir.
    6. Serve hot with any mixed rice or adai.

    Tuesday, January 5, 2016

    Cabbage Pakoda / Pakora / Fritter ~ Day 5

    Preparation time: 10 min
    Cook time: 30 min
    Serves: 2

    Besan flour/ Chickpea flour - 1 cup
    Rice flour (Brown or White) - 1/2 cup
    Shredded cabbage - 1 cup
    Finely chopped green chilies - 2
    Red chili powder - 2 tsp
    Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
    Chopped ginger - 1 tbsp
    Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
    Chopped curry leaves and cilantro - 2 tbsp
    Salt - to taste
    Oil - for frying

    1. Combine all the ingredients, except flour and oil.  Mix well and rub the mixture to get the natural juices out.  
    2. Add both the flours and mix well.  Add water tbsp at a time to get a thick and tight dough.  Make sure not to add too much water.
    3. Heat oil in a pan. Using your hand, drop spoonful of batter into the oil.  
    4. Fry until golden brown, on a medium-low heat. Turn the pakoras once in a while with a slotted spoon for even cooking.  Drain on paper towel.
    5. Enjoy with coffee or masala tea.

    Monday, January 4, 2016

    Roasted Kabocha Squash and Carrot Soup with Coconut Milk ~ Day 4

    Preparation time: 5 minutes
    Cook time: 25 minutes
    Serves: 4

    Kabocha Squash - 2 cups, skin removed
    Carrot - 1, large, cut into cubes
    Coconut milk - 1 can (I used Trader Joe's light one)
    Serrano or any type of chili - 1 or 2
    Fennel powder - 3/4 tsp
    Salt - to taste
    Dash of ground black pepper - optional
    I garnished with Korean red chili threads.

    1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
    2. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.
    3. Place the cut squash, carrot and chili pepper in the tray and coat with olive oil.
    4. Bake the vegetables for 20 minutes, turning them halfway through.
    5. Cool slightly and puree with coconut milk.  Add water if necessary.
    6. Transfer the puree to a saucepan and add more water to get the right consistency. 
    7. Add fennel powder and salt. Mix well and heat the soup, making sure not to boil.
    8. Garnish with more fennel powder and serve hot.

    Sunday, January 3, 2016

    Spiced Hot Cocoa with White chocolate ~ Day 3

    Rich, creamy and delicious homemade hot chocolate. The incredible flavors of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg combined with white chocolate and cocoa are warm and comforting.  Perfect for cool winter nights.

    Milk - 1 cup
    Unsweetened Cocoa powder - 2 tbsp
    White Chocolate, chopped or White Chocolate Chips - 2 tbsp
    Sugar - 2 tbsp or to taste
    Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
    Pinch of Ground Cinnamon
    Pinch of Ground Cardamom
    Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
    Whipped Cream

    • Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat until steamy.
    • Pour it in your favorite mug and top it with whipped cream.
    • Find a cozy place, sip and enjoy!!!

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

    Kodo Millet / Varagu Arisi Upma ~ Day - 2

    This is a healthy twist from a traditional Arisi Upma recipe that calls for broken rice grits.  You cannot tell the difference in taste and you will not miss the rice.  Lately, I have incorporated millet in my daily diet instead of rice.  It is gluten free and diabetic friendly too.

    Kodo Millet (Hindi:Kodon/Kodra; Telugu:Arikelu; Kannada:Harka; Malayalam:Koovaragu)
    Preparation time: 5 min
    Cook time: 25 min
    Serves: 4 people

    Kodo Millet / Varagu Arisi - 1 cup
    Toor dal - 4 tbsp
    Black peppercorn - 1 tbsp
    Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
    Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
    Urad dal - 2 tsp
    Red Chili - 2, broken
    Freshly grated coconut - 2 tbsp
    Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
    Curry leaves - few
    Oil - 4 tsp
    Water - 2 1/2 cups
    Salt - to taste

    1. Coarsely grind the toor dal, black peppercorn and cumin seeds in a blender.  Mix it with kodo millet and keep it aside.
    2. Heat oil in a large non stick skillet or kadai.
    3. Splutter mustard seeds.  Add curry leaves,asafoetida, urad dal and red chilies.  Fry until golden brown.
    4. Add water and bring it to a boil.  Add the grated coconut and salt.  Mix well.  Reduce the heat.
    5. Now add the kodo millet and dal mixture.  Mix thoroughly to combine.
    6. At this point you can cover with tight lid and cook until the water is absorbed for about 15 minutes.
    7. Or, you can transfer the millet mixture into a pressure cooker and cook for 3 to 4 whistles. 
    8. Once done, add a tsp of ghee and give it a good stir. This is purely optional.
    9. Serve hot with coconut chutney or lemon pickle.

    Friday, January 1, 2016

    Soft Pretzels (Jalapeno & Cinnamon Sugar) Day - 1

    Hello friends,

    Wish you all a very happy new year - 2016

    After a long hiatus, I am back to blogging.  I missed all of you and my new year resolution is to update this blog with regular posts.  For the first time, I am going to attempt to post every day.  Wish me luck.  Thanks to Niv Mani of Panfusine for the motivation.  Here is my first recipe of the year.

    Recipe source:  King Arthur
    All purpose flour - 2 1/2 cups
    Sugar - 1 tsp
    Salt - 1 tsp
    Instant yeast - 2 1/4 tsp
    Warm water - 7/8 to 1 cup*

    *Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall.  Your goal is a soft dough.

    Boiling water - 1 cup
    Baking soda - 2 TBSP
    Jalapeno - 1. roughly chopped
    Coarse, Kosher or pretzel salt, optional
    Unsalted butter, melted - 3 TBSP
    Sugar - 1/4 cup
    Powdered cinnamon - 2 TBSP

    • To make dough with a food processor:  Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a food processor equipped with the steel blade.  Process for 5 seconds.  Add the water, and process for 7 to 10 seconds, until the dough starts to clear the sides of the bowl.  Process for another 45 seconds. 
    • At this point, you can divide the dough in half. Add chopped jalapenos to one half, mix until combined. Place both the dough into a floured bowls and turn to coat. Cover and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
    • While the dough is resting, prepare the topping. Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally dissolved.  Pour the mixer into a pan and set aside to cool.
    • Preheat the oven to 475 degree F.  Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable spray of lining it with parchment paper.
    • Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces. If you halved the dough for two different flavors, divide each half into 4 equal pieces.  Allow the pieces to rest. uncovered, for 5 minutes.
    • Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28" to 30" long), and twist each rope into a pretzel. Working with 4 pretzels at a time, place them in the pan with the baking soda/water, spooning the water over their tops.  Leave them in the water for 2 minutes before placing them on the baking sheet.  This baking soda "bath" will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color.

    • Transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle some salt to the jalapeno flavored pretzels.  Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
    • Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they are golden brown.  Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with melted butter.  
    • Mix 1/4 cup sugar and 2 TBSP powdered cinnamon and sprinkle over the plain buttered pretzel to coat.
    • Eat the pretzel warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave.
    Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel