Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black Pepper Soup (Pepper Rasam)

Black Pepper Soup (Pepper Rasam)
In winters, people would avoid cold food and eatables and would want hot and spicy things to consume. In this page, I describe one such item. It is Black Pepper Soup or Pepper Rasam as they call it in South India. All of us know pepper is a well known herb cum spice and it has medicinal properties. It is a nature’s medicine for cold and fever. This soup can be drunk hot or cold. It can be eaten with rice too.  
2 tsp              Tur dal
2 tsp              Black pepper
1 tsp              Cumin seeds
3 tsp              Coriander powder
1 tsp              Salt
¼ tsp              Turmeric powder
¼ tsp              Asafetida
1 tsp              Tamarind paste
3 nos              Red chilli
1 tsp              Ghee
½ tsp              Mustard seeds
Few                Curry leaves
1 bulb            Fresh garlic (peeled)
  • ·       Soak toor dal, dhania , pepper, cumin seeds and red chillies in hot water.
  • ·        Take 2 cups of water in a vessel boil garlic for 5 minutes, add salt, turmeric powder ,turmeric powder, tamarind paste, asafetida and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • ·        Grind the soaked items as per first step with a few cloves of garlic into a coarse paste and mix in the tamarind liquid and let it boil for 10 minutes till the raw smell fades. Add 2-3 cups of water, garnish with crackled mustard seeds and curry leaves.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Poha (Vegetable Puffed Rice )

Poha (made from puffed rice) is the North Indian equivalent to our Avul Upma in the south. However, Poha is much more interesting and has a appealing twist to it. I was introduced to this recipe by my daughter. She visited Indore a few years back to visit her in-laws family, and was introduced to this dainty dish as a breakfast item along with hot jalebis from a neighbouring sweetshop. In the winter season, this spicy dish is amazingly delicious, and super quick to prepare for a unexpected guest, or just as a breakfast or snack dish. The chief ingredients for poha are puffed rice, potatos, green peas and  onion, with finely chopped onion, sugar,a twist of lime and fine sev for topping.  It was really chilly this morning, and I made this fine dish to compensate for the overcast skies.

Ingredients :
2 cups                   Puffed rice
2 nos                     Potato(medium size)
1 cup                     Green peas
2 nos                     Onion(big), finely  chopped
¼ cup                    Carrot(cut into small bits)
10                           Green chillies(medium size)
10 tsp                    oil
1 cup                     Coriander leaves-chopped
2-3 cups               Fine sev
½ tsp                     Turmeric powder
3 tsp                      Dhania powder
½ tsp                     Armchur
½ tsp                     Gharam masala
1 tsp                      Cumin seed powder
1 ½ tsp                  Salt
·         Cut the potato into tiny bits, microwave for 4 minutes with green peas.
·         Wash the puffed rice and drain
·         Heat oil (10tsp) in a wide mouthed pan, put green chilli bits, sauté for 5 seconds, add dhania, armchur, gharam masala, cumin seed powder and turmeric powder and stir well. Now add the chopped onion  and sauté again for 5 minutes. When it turns light brown, add the cooked potato-pea mix, salt and mix well. Cover with a lid and cook for five minutes.
·         For each serving fill the bowl with the cooked poha, top it with fine sev and garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves, and finely chopped green chillies (if you like it spicy). You could also squeeze a small rind of lemon, and add a sprinkle of sugar for variation

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Thursday, November 25, 2010


This a wholesome snack. A little effort is needed, but the end result will be very satisfying.
2 Cups                       Rice floor
¼ cup                         urad dal
½ cup                         fried grams(dalia, pottu kadalai)
¼ cup                         ground nut(pea nut)
¼ cup                         coconut-grated
1 tsp                          red chilli powder
1 tsp                          salt
½ tsp                          asafetida
2 tsp                          til seeds(sesame)
½ tsp                          cumin seeds
300gms(approx)    oil
Few                            curry leaves

·  Microwave the rice floor for 2 minutes or sauté in empty pan to remove moisture, if any. Allow it to cool.
·  Fry urad dal to light brown colour. Powder urad dal together with pea nut and fried gram
<   · In a wide mouth bowl, mix rice floor, salt, sesame seeds, grated coconut and asafetida well. In this add the powdered peanut-fried gram-urad dal. Add 6 tsp hot cooking oil and mix all these contents. Now add water to make a soft dough.

Rounding up: Heat the cooking oil in a frying pot. Take a small quantity of the mixed dough, make it a ball and flatten into circular thattais of desired size. Better pre-prapare the thattais to be fried to make enough for each frying batch. As one batch is frying next batch to be fried will be ready. Take the fried thattai from the pot when it turns light brown. Pat dry oil or strain.
Note: One can try making the thattai in oven, but at a discount to taste since oil without doubt enhances it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gooseberry Chutney

Gooseberry Chutney
In the realm of culinary world, gooseberries have many uses. Pickles(boiled as well as raw) with spices, preserved in salt water or in honey, cut gooseberry dried in sun to make pickles when it is not season for this fruit. There can be endless uses for gooseberry.
Health benefits are numerous being rich in vitamin C; it is considered an elixir of life. Taking one gooseberry preserved and seasoned in honey is believed to promote health and immunity. In chyavanaprash this is the main ingredient.
Recently I chanced to find in my daughter’s freezer a few old but well preserved gooseberries and as it
was meager to make pickle or any other use, I remembered this chutney which I learnt from my m-i-l.
5                              Gooseberries
4                              Green chilli
¼ cup                    conut scraping
1 tsp                      salt
1 tsp                      oil
¼ tsp                     Mustard              
½ tsp                     urad dal
Few                       curry leaves
Remove the seeds from the gooseberries, add chilli, salt, coconut scrapings and grind them all together. Garnish with  splutterd mustard-urad dal and curry leaves. This chutney goes well with rice and as a side dish with any meal.  

Carrot Halwa

Carrot Halwa (Gajar Halwa)
½ liter
½ cup
5 tbsp
Elaichi (Cardamom)
1 pinch
Edible Camphor

Wash and peel  the carrot. Shred  the carrot in a food processor if you have one. Otherwise grate the carrots with a mandolin. 
Microwave the carrot for 4 minutes. Next, boil the milk in a non-stick pan or vessel and then add the cooked carrot gratings. 
Simmer the carrot and milk mix , stirring often till it becomes thick. 
Now add ½ cup sugar, stir well till the halwa gets a thick consistency without sticking to the bottom and sides of the pan. At this point add edible camphor, cardamom and garnish the halwa with roasted cashew-raisin mix.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Red Pepper Chutney

Red Capsicum Chutney

I love Red Capsicum because of its bright and pleasing color, and it is chock a block full of anti-oxidants, Vitamin A and C.Mother Nature seems to paint vivid colors on those vegetables and fruits high in anti-oxidants. The Capsicum family is also supposed to have anti-inflammatory properties.While all these are in the back of my mind, I pick this vegetable in the market for its color and taste. This is an unusual chutney made of bell pepper and tomatoes, delicious and quick to prepare. And surprise, surprise, a variant of this Bell-pepper chutney called Ljutenica is a national relish of Bulgaria. The ingredients of Ljutenica include tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, black pepper, vegetable oil, sugar and salt.

  •            Red peppers                     2 nos
  •    Tomato                               3 nos
  •        Red chilli                          5 nos
  •       Urad dal                             ¼ cup
  •      Asafoetida                        ¼ tsp
  •       Mustard seeds                  ¼ tsp
  •       Salt                                      1 tsp
  •       Tamarind paste                  1 tsp
  •       Cooking oil                         5 tsp

  • Cut the red peppers and tomato into small bits. Microwave the peppers for 4 minutes.
  • Heat a pan, pour oil, mustard seeds, red chillies, urad dal and asafoetida one by one. 
  • When Urad dal fries to light brown add the red pepper and tomato bits simmer for 10 minutes,stirring. 
  • Now add tamarind paste and salt and mix well. Remove the contents from stove and let it cool. Grind to a smooth paste.
  • This chutney is very tasty and goes well with rice, chapathis and even idli-dosas. 
  • One can also add a couple of cloves of garlic for added taste

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mysore Masala Dosa

If idli is the 'queen' of South Indian tiffins, 'dosa' is truly the 'king', with umpteen variations. Rava dosa, onion rava dosa, plain dosa, paper roast, plain roast, set dosa, masala dosa, vegetable dosa, pesarattu... the list is endless. The dosa batter itself has multivarious proportions each out performing the other in quality and taste, crispness and ability to take the dosa from the tava in one piece without mutilating the culinary art work . I do not know if this 'dosa' originates from Mysore, but I was introduced to this masterpiece by my sister-in-law whom I visited three years ago. It tasted marvelous and I got the recipe from her. Recently when I was out of ideas for making a tiffin for my family, I remembered this 'dosa' and I at once grabbed the opportunity. It came out very well and everyone loved its crisp appearance and wonderful taste.

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The batter formula:
  1. Idli rice                      2-3/4 cups
  2. Raw rice                    1/4 cup
  3. Urad dal                    1/2 cup
  4. Fenugreek seeds        2 tsp
  5. Salt                            3 tsp
Wash the  above (items 1-3) three to four times in water.Soak the rice and urad dal in water in separate bowls for one to one and half hours. Grind the rice separately and urad dal separately in a food-processor or ultra grinder for 15 minutes till it reaches to a smooth paste. Add 3 tsp salt and keep the batter in a warm place to allow it to ferment. After fermenting, the batter will raise to almost double the original level.
The masala part:
Vegetables: cauli flower, cabbage, beans, carrot, onion, green chillies chopped to fine bits. Each vegetable 1 cup, onion 2 cups and chilli to needed taste. Cut coriander leaves  about one cup and keep aside.
Masala Powder: chilli powder, dhania powder, amchur(dry mango powder), garam masala powder, garlic powder, turmeric powder all 1/2 tsp each, add salt 1 tsp and mix together well.
Making of the dosa:
In a non-stick pan, apply a little oil, and spread one ladle of dosa batter uniformly (use a medium sized ladle). Apply 2 tbsp oil all around the dosa and cover with a lid for a few seconds. Spread the finely cut vegetables  on the dosa and top the mixed masala powder( about 1/4 tsp) and blend the vegetables and coriander leaves and cover with the lid again. After one minute, when the dosa  cooks to a brown colour fold it in half. Serve it with coconut chutney.
For Coconut chutney: 1 cup fried gram, 1/4 cup coconut, 4 green chillies, 1/2 tsp salt, tamarind paste- 1/4 tsp. Grind them all together and garnish it with with mustards seeds and coriander leaves.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Farro Perlato Risotto(Wheat Pulav?)

We always think of basmati rice for making pulav. This recipe describes risotto made with Farro Perlato. The first time I ate it, it tasted like wheat pulav.

Farro Perlato is the Italian word for Emmer wheat. It is a wheat grain, actually a kernel that resembles barley from Popola di Foligno in the heart of Umbria.
Like the other grains in the wheat family, Spelt and Kamut, Farro is botanically closer to ancient varieties of grains. Farro is the first known grain in history, loved and appreciated – partly through force of circumstance, since at times it was the only food available - by the ancient Etruscans, Egyptians and Romans .

Farro has a high vitamin, mineral and fiber content. It is pleasantly chewy with a distinct sweet wheat taste. My son-in-law picked it up on a whim from Costco. I changed the risotto recipe slightly to make it like wheat pulav. It turned out to be really delicious, with a pleasant nutty feel to the grain. The ingredients for this risotto are:

  1. Farro Perlato    2 cups (can we try with Indian white wheat?)
  2. Onion     1
  3. Potato    2
  4. Tomato  5
  5. Carrot   1
  6. French beans- 1/2 cup pieces
  7. Ginger   1"
  8. Green chilli- 4
  9. Olive oil- 50g
Asparagus- 1bunch
  1. Basil- 1 bunch
  2. Salt-   2 tsp
  3. Pepper powder- 1tsp
  4. Garlic powder- 1tsp
  5. 21 Seasoning Salute- 2tsp 
  6. Cut all the vegetables into small bits and keep aside.
Heat a pan adding 3 tsp olive oil and saute the wheat to a light brown  colour. Take another sauce pan with lid. Heat 10 tsp olive oil add onion, green chilli and the cut vegetables and saute in medium heat. Cover the pan with lid and let the contents cook for 10 minutes. Now add  the finely chopped tomato bits and basil leaves, wheat one by one. Stir the contents often. Add salt, pepper powder, garlic powder and 21 Seasoning Salute (available at Trader Joe's) mixing well simultaneously. Cover the lid and let the contents simmer for 30 minutes, periodically stirring the contents of the pot. Serve it hot with potato wafers. Enough for 4-5.
Note: Water is not to be used for cooking,- moisture in the vegetables will do for cooking the wheat.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Badam Burfi

For festivals like Diwali and other occassions I make this simple, tasty, and nourishing sweet. Most people like badam for its nutrients and this burfi will be  a delicious item. Easy to make too. What is needed is a little patience.

  1. Badam              200 gms
  2. Sugar                400gms
  3. Ghee                 250gms
  4. Kesar pwdr       1/4 tsp
  5. Nutmeg pwdr   1/4tsp
  6. Saffron flr         1 pinch
  7. Milk                  1 cup
  8. Soak the badam in boiling water for 30 minutes. Peel the skin by sqeezing and pressing the kernel out. Grind the badam kernels in a mixer to a smooth paste adding the milk. Take a sauce pan, heat 1/4 cup water adding 400gms sugar. Let the sugar melt. Stir slowly in medium heat. Now add the badam kernel rind, add kesar powder, slowly adding the ghee spoon by spoon( don't put all the ghee at once). Put saffron flower and nutmeg powder, stir non-stop, till the consistency becomes thick and comes unstuck in the pan around. Pour it onto a greased tray and cut into desired shape. You can make 40-50 medium size burfis
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Orange peel Gothsu or Pickle

Usually we peal the orange and throw away the skin. The orange peal can be made as a pickle or gothsu and is a very good side dish for curd rice.


  1. Orange peel -six full orange( Nagpur or Naval) 
  2. Tamarind paste- 2 tsp
  3. Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
  4. Green chilli- 4 nos
  5. Chilly powder- 20 gms
  6. Jaggery- 20gms
  7. Asafoetida- 1/2 tsp
  8. Mustard seed- 1/2 tsp, urad dal- 1tsp, red chilli- 2nos(for seasoning)
  9. Curry leaves
  10. Oil- 5-6 tsp
Wash and cut orange peal into thin pieces. Slit green chillies. Microwave orange peals for 3 minutes adding a little water. In a sauce pan pour 4-5 tsp oil, heat. In the hot oil add fenugreek seeds, red chillies and urad dal. After spluttering add the cooked orange peal-green chilli mix and saute for five minutes adding three cups water. Add tamarind paste, salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, jaggery, asafoetida, curry leaves and cook for 15 minutes. The consistency should be pickle-like thick. The orange gothsu is now ready.

Makhan Peda

This is a rich, healthy mouth watering delicasy. Easy to make it too! (30minutes)
Children will love its creeamy taste.

    1. Fresh khova    300 gms
    2. Maida              100 gms
    3. Sugar              300 gms
    4. Oil to fry
    5. Cut bits of almond, walnut, pistachio, and raisins- one cup
    6. Powdered cardomom
Rose essence   few drops as flavouring

Take khova, knead well adding maida into a soft dough. Do not add water. Make lemon size balls and shape the same like a cup, fill with nut bits (about 1 tsp)
adding  little cardomom powder. Close the dough cup gently making it a round ball. Then flatten the ball like vada, fry in oil to a golden brown colour. Strain and kepp aside
Make sugar syrup add adding rose essence. Now, soak the peda in this syrup. Cool and serve.
Note: For making syrup add equal amount of sugar and water and boil till syrup comes to caramel consistency.

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Moong Dal Vada

This is an easy to make vada and very tasty item
    1. split moong dal- 1cup(approximately 200gms)
    2. Rice floor -1 cup
    3.  green chilli- 4 nos(chop into tiny bits)
    4.  ginger- 1pc(grated)
    5.   salt- 1tsp
    6.  asafoetida- 1/4 tsp
    7.   1 onion(finely chopped)
    8. 1/4 cup coriander leaves 
Wash the moong dal well and after adding 1 cup water, pressure cook for 4 whistles. After the dal cools, add 1 cup rice floor, chopped chillies, asafoetida, chopped onion and coriander leaves. Hand mix all these together to a paste. Make lemon size balls, flatten to vada shapes and deep fry in oil to a golden brown colour. Now moong vadas are ready. Taste with coconut chutney or tomato sause.
Note: Moong dal vada absorbs little excess oil and this can be pat dried in paper towel.

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Tava Naan

  • Self rising flour - 3 cups
  • 2 tsp Rapid rising yeast (fleischmann's yeast)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp oil
  • Water 1/2 to 3/4 cup

Heat 1/2 cup water in microwave for 40 secs. Add yeast to the water and stir it. Now, sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl, add the yeast-water and oil to it. Take a spatula to make it into a soft ball. If it is too sticky add more flour. If the yeast-water is not enough add milk or yogurt or even water as needed. Take few drops of oil and spread it gently over the dough. Wet a paper napkin and spread it over the bowl. Let it sit for few hours. Wait upto four hours for the dough to double up in size.

Take a liberal pinch of dough and flour it to prevent it from sticking to rolling pin. Roll it like how you do roti. Now begin heating your tava and add cook it like roti. Oil is not needed. You may butter it after taking it from Tava.

This is lot easier to make than rotis. I may venture out to stuffing and baking like puffs or even adding turmeric, onion or garlic or mint to make masaala Naan on tava.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Deepavali Special - Besan Ladoo

1. Channa dhal 2 cups(soak for 4 - 5 hours)
2. Sugar 1 - 1.25 cups
3. Cardomom 11
4. Nutmeg powder a pinch
5. Saffron 4 or 5
6. Ghee
7. Almond slices
8. Raisin

Drain water from Channa dhal. Grind this to a coarse mixture and add it to a glass bowl. Add a teaspoon of ghee and mix it. Microwave the mixture for 2 minutes. They mix it thoroughly. Microwave the mixture for 2 minutes. Let it cool for little bit. The mixture would be cooked and be clumpy. Try to seperate the clumps with your fingers. If it is hard use the food processor to reduce the mixture to rava consistency.  Now heat a pan and add 1/2 tsp of ghee. Add the mixture to it and add  sugar, cardomom, nutmeg and roasted almond slices / raisins. Stir it for few minutes till it gets slightly sticky. Now after it cools down - roll it with your hands.

These ingedients are enough to make 30 ladoos(small).

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Deepavali special - Onion Sambar

1. Onion (1)
2. Tomato (1)
3. Curry leaves (few)

Sambar base:
4. Iyengar Sambar powder(2 tsp)
5. 777 Sambar powder (1 tsp)
6. Tamarind paste(Lakshmi) - 3/4 tsp
7. Salt
8. Turmeric Powder pinch
9.  Asafoetida pinch
10. Toor dhal (cooked)

11. Oil 1 tsp
12. Fenugreek seeds few

Begin by heating oil and adding fenugreek seeds. Add cut Onion and saute till it becomes brown then add 3 cups of water. Now add a pinch turmeric powder, asafoetida, sambar powder, salt to taste, tamarind paste and curry leaves. At this point add tomato too . Let it boil for few minutes. Then add the cooked dhal to it and let it simmer for some time. If it gets too watery add fried gram / besan / rice flour. Alternatively adding potatos/ yellow pumpkin to sambar will help maintain sambar consistency.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gonkura Thokku

Among the pickles and thokkus of Andhra Pradesh two items stand out. The first is avakkai and the close second is Gonkura. These two items are 'must' as starters in any Andhra meal. Gonkura as a green has health benefits too carrying lot of iron and calcium. The secret of preparing the gonkura thokku is attempted in this page.:

Gonkura leaves-  1 bunch
Red chilli-            25
Fenugreek           1/2 tsp
Mustard              30gms 
Salt                     4 tsp    
Onion                  1(big)
Garlic(optional)   6 cloves
Til oil                  100 gms
Turmeric Pwdr    1/2 tsp
Jaggery               2 tsp

First pluck out the gonkura leaves from the bunch. The leaves so collected must be washed thoroughly in water. Sqeeze the water gently and let it dry on a clean and dry cloth so the leaves are free of moisture. Chop the onion into small pieces. Separately fry the mustard and fenugreek seeds.After they splutter, keep aside. Saute the red chilli, adding 2 tsp oil. Powder the fried mustard-fenugreek-chilli mixture in a dry grinder.
Now, heat the  til oil in a pan , add 2 tsp mustard seeds- after it splutter add the chopped onion, fry till golden brown. Now add the clean and dry gonkura leaves and saute for five minutes. Add turmeric powder-1/2 tsp, jaggery powder- 2 tsp, salt- 4 tsp and mix the contents thoroughly. Finally add the powdered chilli-mustard-fenugreek masala and mix well. Cool the gonkura thokku and bottle for storage.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Kozhukkattai Modakam or Stuffed Rice Dumplings

Kozhukkattai (Tamil), Modakam or Stuffed Rice Dumplings
This delicasy is mostly prepared on Vinayaka Chathurthi and on special occassions meant to propitiate the elphant headed god. This offering is believed to be specially liked by the lord among all other Ney vedyas. The secret of making this item lies in making the outer rice pouch and can be done well if following an easy process. Step by step procedure is attempted in this article.

1. Ingredients
  • Rice 200gms(for making the outer pouch)
  • Coconut grated 100gms(coconut poornam)
  • Jaggery-25gms
  • Elachy- 2nos
  • White til- 100gms(for til poornam)
  • Jaggery- 25gms
  • Elachy- 2nos
  • Channa dal 100gms, toor dal- 50gms, red chilli-3, asafoetida-1/4 tsp, salt- 1/2 tsp, lemon juice- 2tsp, grted coconut- 2 tsp, curry & coriander leaves( For Dal poornam)

Method for outer pouch or choppu
Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes. Wash and rinse the rice and grind the rice to a smooth paste adding 1/2 cup water. The consistency should be neither too thick nor too thin but should be medium. In a sauce pan add 1/4 cup water, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 tsp cooking oil , heat all these adding the ground rice paste. Stir the contents till the rice paste cooks to a ball. Add little water if necessary. The dough will be opaquey and will be ready for making the choppu or outer pouch. Keep aside for 10 minutes.

Method for Coconut poornam:
Put the grated coconut and jaggery in a pan with little water stir fry to a halva like paste. Add elachy powder. Filling for coconut modakam is ready

Method for til(sesame) poornam:
In a dry pan fry  the tiil it splutter, add jaggery and elachy grind to a powder in a mixie. Til Poornam or filling is ready

Method forDal or Paruppu poornam
Soak the channa-toor dals for 30 minutes, rinse and grind adding coconut, red chilli, curry leaves, asafoetida, ginger and salt. Add no water and grind to a coarse paste
Now rub oil in idly plate steam the above mix like idly. After it cools add lemon juice and coriander.

Shaping the modakam or kozhukkattai:
Now take a sppon of rice dough. Rub your fingers with a couple of drops of oil shape the dough into a cup like shape and fill the three vsarieties of poornams as per your choice. Arrange them in idly pan and steam for 5-10 minutes without weight.

Now the modakams are ready. The above ingredients are sufficient to make 30-40 modakams(medium size)

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