Monday, November 4, 2013

New kid on the blog!

Hello folks!!

Here's introducing the new kid on the blog - my sweet lil baby boy, born on 13th Oct.

This creation of ours has been taking over all the other creations i was supposed to update the blog with! And guess it will continue for some more time... till then, please be patient with me. I do promise to come back with a lot of exciting stuff to cook and bake.

Till then, Cheers!!
Sum :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Veggie Thai Red Curry

This Thai curry has been a recent favorite at my place. We both are loving this, made quite often, with varying veggies, mushrooms, tofu etc. Thai cuisine is a close cousin of Indian cousin, with many spices used in common. Also use of coconut milk makes it especially closer to the South Indian cuisine. Eaten with sticky Jasmine rice or any other cooked ice, it makes a wholesome meal.

However, the combination of spices along with some not used in Indian curried and the method of cooking makes it quite different in taste from Indian curries. Most of the Thai curries are generally not vegetarian. And even the veggie ones often contain fish sauce, shrimp paste, making me hesitant to try one at restaurants.

So searching for recipes and experimenting on combinations, this is the one I have come up with and have stuck with it for quite sometime. We're happy with the taste of this customized, vegetarian home made Thai red curry. Here it is....

Veggie Thai Red Curry

Coconut milk - 1 can
Bell pepper / capsicum - Chopped, 1 cup, a mix of red, green, yellow
French beans - a handful (optional)
Sugar snap peas - a handful
Baby corn - a handful
Firm Tofu - 200g, washed and drained, chopped into bite sized pieces
Eggplant - chopped (optional - i don't use it as i don't like it)
Carrot - 1, chopped (my addition)
Mushrooms - 1/2 cup, halved
Thai basil leaves - a handful
Soy sauce - 1 Tbsp
Sesame / any other oil - 2 Tbsp
Salt to taste - abt 1 tsp
Red curry paste

Red curry paste:
Dry red chilies - 3-4 (vary according to your spice tolerance)
Cumin- 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch stick
Kafir lime leaves / bay leaves - 1-2
Fresh coriander leaves/stalks - chopped, a fistful
Brown sugar - 1/2 to 1 Tbsp
Fresh lemongrass - 2-3 Tbsp. minced
Shallots / red onion - 1/4 cup, sliced
Garlic - 2-3 cloves
Galangal / ginger 1 inch piece, grated
Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Lime / lemon zest - 1/2 tsp
Tomato ketchup / tomato puree - 2 Tbsp (optional)
Fresh lime juice - 2 Tbsp

For the paste:

  • Boil 1/4 cup water and turn off the heat. To this, add the dry red chilies and let them sit for 5-10 min.
  • After it is cool enough to handle, grind the soaked chilies with the rest of the ingredients for curry paste into a smooth mixture.
  • This is the Thai red curry paste. This can be made ahead the previous day and stored in the refrigerator.

For the curry:

  • Heat a heavy bottomed pan and add half the oil.
  • Optionally marinate the tofu pieces in some soy sauce, salt and pepper powder
  • Shallow fry the tofu in this till the raw smell is gone, sprinkle some salt if not marinated and keep aside. 
  • In the same pan, add the remaining oil and fry the red curry paste prepared, on low flame
  • Once the oil starts separating from the mixture, add the coconut milk, salt and bring to a boil
  • Meanwhile add the chopped vegetables, mushrooms and let cook in the coconut milk curry
  • Mix in the fried tofu as well and boil for a few minutes
  • Add soy sauce and basil leaves
  • Make sure the veggies are still crunchy and just cooked. Overcooking makes the veggies soggy.
  • Serve hot with some piping hot jasmine rice and enjoy!


  • Some of the ingredients mentioned in the list may not be easily available in an Indian kitchen - like galangal, kafir lime etc. These I usually substitute with the mentioned alternative ingredients like normal ginger, bay leaves, etc. I don't see much of a difference.
  • I add vegetables of my choice to this curry usually and do not always stick to the original Thai veggies.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Coffee Walnut Cookies

The first time I made these cookies was late one Saturday night when we were watching movie after movie and I suddenly felt like munching something! Went into the kitchen during a couple of commercial breaks and Ta-Da! It was ready! Had used the food processor then and it was such a breeze to bake them! And well, the batch I baked that night got over even quicker ;) But i did have more of the cookie dough saved up in the fridge, which I baked again a couple more times and they didn't last long enough either, to take some decent pics!

Being coffee lovers that we are, we literally fell in love with these cookies. But then the amount of butter that goes into it restrained me from making them quite often :). But then it is Okay to indulge once in a while, right? Some solace is that it is also loaded with healthy fat from walnuts. So made another batch of these recently and made sure we get some pics this time!

I had bookmarked this recipe from Suma's Cakes and More, which is originally from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert. It is a breeze if making in a food processor; making it by hand is not very tedious either. And the best part is the dough can be stored in the fridge as logs for a few days and when needed, all the work needed to be done is pull out one log, cut it into discs and bake! 

Since it makes quite a huge batch, this is a blessing, rather than having to make all the cookies at once, and rolling them on palms! I chose to make rather small cookies and got about 25-30 cookies from each log and there were 5 logs! Shared them with friends also, after devouring them enough. The cookies also stay fresh for quite a long time - about a month in an airtight container, that is if you can resist it that long! 

Coffee Walnut Cookies

Preparation time: 15 min (if using food processor; slightly more if making by hand)
Baking time: 10 - 17 minutes (See below for details)
Makes: ~100 small cookies / 50-60 medium ones

All Purpose Flour – 2 cups 
Walnuts – 1 cup (roughly chopped)
Sugar – 3/4 cups
Salt – 1/4 tsp 
Unsalted butter – 3/4 cup ( 170 grams) / chilled and roughly cut up (I reduced it by 2-3 Tbsp and added some milk instead)
Milk- 1.5 Tbsp (Added this to replace part of butter; not needed if using the entire amount of butter)
Instant coffee- 3 teaspoons (Divided use, original recipe has fresh ground coffee beans)
Coffee Essence – 1 tsp (skipped this)
Vanilla Essence - 1 teaspoon
Coffee beans –  to put on top (I didn't use this)

  • Put the walnuts, flour, sugar and salt if using, in the bowl of a food processor and pulse till the walnuts are finely ground. (If not using food processor, do this step in batches in a mixie jar.)
  • Pulse again with 2 teaspoons of coffee till well blended. (If not using the food processor, continue with a hand mixer or even by hand in a large bowl). 
  • Add chilled butter and pulse again till breadcrumb like mixture forms (or mix with a large fork)
  • Add the coffee extract and vanilla essence; pulse just until the dough begins to form lumps around the blade. (Mix the dough together either by hand mixer or even by hand till it roughly comes together.)
  • Take out the mixture; pull together to form a dough; add milk if you feel there is a need for binding; knead briefly to make it smooth. 
  • Roll into logs (I made 5 small round logs) wrap in cling wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

To bake the cookies:
  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C / 375 degrees F.
  • Take logs out, slice 1/4″ apart. I made them thinner as I wanted smaller cookies. If slicing as 1/4 inch, they spread out more too.
  • Push a coffee bean firmly in the center of each cookie, if using. 
  • Roll the edges of a few in the remaining coffee if you wish. 
  • If the cookies do not get a good round shape when sliced, just shape it holding it gently but firmly against your palm.
  • Place the cookies slightly apart on ungreased pan and bake.
  • If making small cookies or using milk in place of butter, they get done in 9-10 minutes. If making larger cookies or using the entire butter, they take about 15 to 17 minutes.
  • The edges will be slightly starting to brown, and the cookies will still be soft when done. They get crisp once they cool.
  • Cool completely and store in air tight container or just finish off a batch... nothing like warm cookies just out of the oven ;)

  • The first time I used a food processor and the next time made the dough by hand. If making by hand, make sure you mix pretty fast before the butter starts to melt due to your body temperature.
  • Replacing part butter with milk didn't change the taste much.
  • I baked the 5 logs in 3 batches, just when needed - they stayed in fridge for 3-4 days and were fine.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Banana Split Icecream

I've become so lazy to clean the house these Days, I'm surprised at myself! But have been doing other things - things that I love, so some consolation! Well, i have Always hated cleaning, though i like the house to be clean :D
And this poem i came across on FB a few Days perfectly describes me! And I seem to have taken it quite too seriously that the house was in a big mess. And I had to clean it lest we had to run away elsewhere!!
And so started the boring task of cleaning.... and after a couple of minutes I was hungry! Yeah... Another excuse, you say? Huh.... My Eyes went to the lone banana lying on the table and just as i was about to grab it and eat, my head started dreaming of a banana split icecream! Ahhh... I wanted it NOW!
But then i exercised some restraint to wait till i finished the cleaning before indulging in a plateful of sinful icecream. And it really worked! I finished the cleaning in the shortest possible time, took a shower in just a couple of minutes and ran to the kitchen to fix up that plate! Ahhh... miss the Corner House in namma Bengaluru.... This is no recipe as such, but a wonderful way to indulge!
In its classic form it is served in a long dish called a boat. A banana is cut in half lengthwise (hence the split) and laid in the dish. There are many variations, but the classic banana split is made with scoops of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream served in a row between the split banana. Pineapple topping is spooned over the strawberry ice cream, chocolate syrup over the vanilla, and strawberry topping over the chocolate. It is garnished with crushed nuts, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries [Wiki]
This is no recipe as such, but a wonderful way to indulge! Feel free to pair up any flavor of icecream that you like and any topping you fancy... and enjoy!

Banana Split

(For one serving - Scale up as you wish)
One long banana
Scoops of ice Creams - Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry - I used Chocolate bits, Strawberry and vanilla
Toppings - Chocolate sauce, Strawberry sauce (I didn't have patience to make a chocolate sauce, so used nutella instead!)
Pineapple pieces - a few - i used mango instead
Chopped toasted nuts - Walnuts, cashews, peanuts if you fancy

  • Split the banana into two, lengthwise and Place on a serving platter
  • Scoop out one scoop of each icecream
  • Top it with one of the toppings on each of the icecream scoop
  • Sprinkle with the chopped nuts
  • Wait no longer to indulge!! Enjoy!!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Basil Tawa Pulav

Another quick recipe from D for a weekend lunch... He is so resourceful in the kitchen that i can't stop admiring! What do you do when the kadai/pan is needed for cooking lunch but it is in the sink unwashed after the breakfast? Of course wash it and use it, right? In case of D, he uses the tawa instead :D And churns out an even better tasting tawa-pulav!

And what do you do when you feel like having a pudina peas pulav, but there is no pudina in the kitchen? Postpone it till you get pudina? Nope! Use the basil that is lying in the fridge instead... that will turn into an all new dish - Basil pulav.
And combine the two together, you have this flavorful, quick and easy Basil tawa-pulav!

This one is from the archives, from the last summer but i'm posting it now that again inspired by the raining of fresh basil in the veggie markets.

Here's the recipe...

Basil Tawa-Pulav

Preparation time: 15 min 
Cooking time: 15 min
Serves: 3-4
Source: D's experiment

Fresh Basil       - 1 small bunch, cleaned and chopped
Green Peas       - 3/4 - 1 cup
Cooked Rice    - 3 cups (preferably Basmati)
Cooking oil      - 1 Tbsp; Used olive oil
Cumin seeds    - 1 tsp
Cinnamon        - 1” stick, broken into 4-5 pcs
Cloves              - 4-5
Ginger             - 1" cube, grated/ chopped fine
Garlic - 1-2 cloves, chopped fine
Green chilies   - 2-3, adjust according to taste
Black pepper powder - 1/2 tsp, adjust according to taste
Salt                  - ~3/4 tsp or as per taste

  • Heat oil in a pan.. err tawa :) and add cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves
  • After half a minute, add grated ginger, garlic, slit green chilies and peas. Sauté for 1-2 minutes
  • Add chopped basil and sauté till just the rawness disappears
  • Sprinkle some salt, pepper powder and mix
  • Mix in the cooked rice thoroughly, add more salt if required and fry the rice for a few minutes on the hot tawa
  • Serve hot, optionally with any raita
  • Make the rice with a little less water so that the grains are separate
  • Can add onions as well

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ridgegourd-Peel Chutney

When it came to cooking, our grand mothers never threw off the peels, seeds and rinds of so many veggies. They probably knew it that these 'wastes' do contain many nutrients and fiber  in some cases more than the actual veggie or fruit and can be put to better use than dumping it into the trash. And so some very good, amazing tasting delicacies were churned out, disguising the main ingredient so well that everyone who ate it would love the taste and not bother to know what has gone inside!

The same was carried over by my mom and MIL as well and thus it continues with me too! The list is endless, with chutneys made from veggie peels/seeds, dosas with rind of watermelon, methi stalks (recipe soon to follow), gojju with jack fruit seeds, and so on. 

One of my favorites till date is the chutney made from ridge-gourd (heerekai) peel. Mom usually made tovve (dal) with the ridge gourd and the peel was used to make chutney, as an accompaniment. That used to be one of my most favorite meals! She used to make sure that the chutney is ground just a few minutes before meal time so that the roasted lentils that went into it were still crisp in the chutney and gave a nice texture when mixed with hot rice with a spoonful of oil or ghee!! What a combination!!

So, next time you are about to throw off the peel, stop and turn it into a nice delicacy! Here's the recipe...

Heerekai sippe / Ridge gourd peel chutney

Preparation time : 5 min
Cooking time : 5 min
Serves : 4 -6

Heerekai / Ridge gourd peel - from 1 big or 2 small ones - don't peel too much, just the outer ridges would do
Coconut - 1/2 cup, grated
Dry Red chilies - 5-6, depending on taste
Chana dal / Toor dal - 1 Tbsp
Cooking oil - 1 tsp
Tamarind - a small marble sized ball
Coriander and Curry leaves - 1-2 sprigs each
Salt - ½ tsp or as per taste

For Tempering:
Cooking oil - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - A few sprigs
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Hing/asafetida - a pinch

• Roast chana/toor dal, red chilies, curry leaves in a tsp of oil till the lentils change color
• Add the peel to it and continue roasting till the raw smell is gone from the peel
• Let it cool slightly
• Grind the above with all other ingredients, adding a little water. Do not make it into a fine paste - a bit of texture gives a better tasting chutney
• Transfer the ground chutney to a serving bowl
For tempering / tadka:
• Heat the oil in a pan, add mustard and allow to splutter
• Add curry leaves and hing
• Garnish the chutney with tadka

• Do not make the chutney too smooth – a little coarse consistency will give a better taste
• Can use chana dal / toor dal or even urad dal or a combination of them
• The chutney tastes good with dosas, rottis too.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rajma Masala - Dilli wali style!

I had some colleagues in Bangalore who were from Northern parts of India and were cribbing about not finding good North Indian restaurants in Bangalore. Bangalore being a cosmopolitan city, at least in the last decade or so, I can never agree that there are restaurants serving some particular cuisine missing! Especially when the cuisine in question is North Indian - which has been there from the time i was a kid...

But then, it is a natural tendency for people to miss their native cuisine in other parts, as they will be looking for 'that particular taste, aroma and combination' that they are used to from years, and any small change in taste, one is not satisfied. But whereas for other cuisines, we are generally more forgiving - because we are not so used to that taste and small changes does not matter, as long as the dish tastes good on the whole.

Also, we just generalize food as North Indian, whereas that comprises of so many varieties of cuisines from different parts of Northern India... just like someone saying Neer Dosa is South Indian. Well, it is, but if you ask a Kannadiga, they'd say it is Mangalorean, to be precise :)

Well, coming back to Rajma Masala, the colleagues of mine always had high standards for it, and they regarded it as one of the simplest, most common but often spoilt dish! They'd never be satisfied with the quality of Rajma Masala anywhere else but in their homes and in some places in their home towns!

And all said and done, i tasted the Rajma Masala in a restaurant in Delhi when we were there for a visit, and then realized what my colleagues were saying!! It was the best rajma ever i had had!! And i was bent upon learning to make it the same way, taking tips and recipes from them/their wives! 

And now, this version has been certified as almost as good as a Rajma Masala made in Delhi! Here it is...

Rajma Masala

Rajma (Red kidney Beans) - 1 cup, Soak overnight
Tomato - 3 medium sized
Onion - 2 medium sized
Cloves - 3-4
Cinnamon - 1" pc
Cardamom - 1
Green chilies - 2-3
Ginger - 1” cube
Garlic - 2-3 cloves
Garam masala powder - 1/2 Tsp
Red chili powder - ½ - 1 tsp, depending on taste
Jeera powder - ½ tsp
Coriander powder - ½ tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp, as per taste
Sugar - ¼ - ½ tsp
Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp, chopped

• Soak rajma overnight in enough water.
• Tie the whole spices - cinnamon, cardamom and cloves in a muslin cloth and drop it into the pressure cooker along with the soaked beans.
• Pressure cook rajma and spices with enough water for 3-4 whistles, and then put it on sim for at least 30 more minutes. At the end of this time, the rajma beans should be cooked soft but not mushy.
• When cool enough to handle, remove the muslin bag and discard along with the spices in it. The beans would have the flavors imparted by now.
• Boil tomatoes in water till tender, cool and make puree
• Heat oil in a pan
• Add chopped onion and sauté for 2 minutes
• Crush ginger and garlic and add the paste and continue to sauté till the onions turn translucent
• Add all the spice powders and mix thoroughly so that no lumps are formed
• Mix in tomato puree, salt and sugar and bring to a gentle boil
• Add the boiled beans, and water if necessary to maintain a gravy consistency
• Let it boil for 5-10 minutes, till the beans absorb the taste and flavors from the gravy
• Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with steamed rice or rotis.

• Cooking for at least 40 minutes ensures the rajma is cooked well - as my Delhi friends insist it should be :D
• The tomatoes can just be crushed well and added too, instead of grinding it to a puree, but i prefer grinding it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pasta in Creamy Basil Pesto

Ohh I love spring and summer here in Scandinavia for the fresh veggies and greens that comes to the market! Back in India, the change in seasons hardly went noticed – except for very seasonal veggies and fruits like mangoes in summer, jackfruit in rainy season, avrekayi in winter and a few more, there is hardly any change in the availability of other veggies. However, here seasons are a big deal! Everything depends on the seasons and the same goes for the food that you cook due to the availability of ingredients. Of course you get most of the items as frozen these days, but we are more of fresh-food loving people!

So one of the things I look forward to in spring and summer is fresh basil! Oh how I have fallen in love with this herb! I love love it and so does D. So every time we see a bunch of fresh basil, we just greedily grab it! And most of the times it goes into a pesto and then to a pasta, though occasionally there are other experiments with it.

This is one of the pastas that we love – quick, flavorful, wholesome, as rich/dull as you want it, and versatile – do any changes you want and it tastes differently good! It is also good for lunch box (see notes below).

If you’re in a place where you can get fresh basil, don’t miss trying this! Here’s the recipe…

 Pasta in Creamy Basil Pesto 

Pasta - 200 gms, Penne or any other shape
Onions - 1 medium sized, chopped (optional)
Green chilies - 1, slit (optional – only if you want extra heat)
Olive oil – 2-3 tsp
Full Milk/Cream/Crème Fraiche – 1/2 cup, adjust according to the consistency needed
Cheese – Parmesan / Mozzarella – 3-4 Tbsp, shredded

For the Pesto:
Fresh basil leaves – 1 medium sized bunch
Walnuts or pine nuts – 1/2 cup
Garlic – 1-2 flakes
Olive oil - 1 Tbsp
Pepper powder - ½ - 1 tsp, adjust acc to taste
Salt - ½ tsp or as per taste

• Pick and wash basil leaves.
• Optionally toast the walnuts / pine nuts slightly – it is ok to use raw too
• In a blender/mixie jar add the nuts, basil leaves and garlic and pulse till coarse
• Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and continue to pulse till almost smooth and scoop out into a bowl

• Cook pasta as per instructions on the packet, drain and let cool slightly
• Heat 1 Tsp of oil in a pan and sauté the onion with green chilly if using, till they are cooked but slightly crunchy.
• Add the pesto prepared above and bring to a gentle boil.
• Mix in the pasta, adjust salt and pepper
• Finally add the cream/milk to make it slightly saucy – or to the consistency you prefer.
• Garnish with shredded cheese and mix well

• Pasta can be just mixed with the pesto and served as is – But I prefer doing it his way and adding some cream so that it is more saucy and gets coated with the pesto well.
• Mixing it ahead of serving time makes the pasta dry. Mix just before serving.
• I make this for D’s lunch box also sometimes. I boil the pesto with cheese and cream and pack the cooked and completely cooled pasta and the pesto sauce separately. He heats it in a microwave and mixes just before eating.
•I also add some veggies like capsicum sometimes to make it healthier and to add a new dimension.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mexican Rice

Me: What shall we prepare for lunch?
D: I feel like eating something different…
Me: I too was feeling like… Shall I make some Thai curry and rice?
D: Ummm… But I feel like eating Mexican, not Thai today….
Me: Hmmm….. Mexican?
D: Yeah… Why don’t you search and tell me the recipe for a nice Mexican rice and I’ll cook it for you…
Me: Wow! Cool!!

This was our conversation one weekend, when D decides to hijack the kitchen and produce some amazingly awesome stuff! One of the reasons I love weekends for ;). Being very experimental in the kitchen, he churns out some really tasty stuff, most of the times some innovative dishes! Initially I used to be apprehensive about the taste when he decides to add some ‘random’ ingredient or follow a ‘unique’ method. But over time, I have come to trust his culinary skills and have chosen not to interfere with him when he’s in the kitchen, except to help him with the chopping, cleaning and doing the dishes later! And I even decided to add to my blog some of his creations (only some of them, when I have the patience to click some pics before hogging on it). 

I did have an idea of what goes into a Mexican rice usually and was sure I had most of the ingredients at home. When I googled, I came across a lot of recipes with small differences, and I decided on this one adapted from a couple of them, with my own modifications to suit our taste buds and ingredients.
It was one delicious lunch, I must say…. Very different from the usually tomato rice I make… though the ingredients are not very different from an Indian recipe… Mexican rice recipes, they say are very close to Indian… 

So here’s the cheesy, sticky Mexican rice, which we loved and have made it a couple more times later….

Mexican Rice
Tomatoes – 3-4 medium sized
Onion – 1, medium sized, finely chopped
Green bell pepper - 1, finely chopped
Jalapenos – 1-2, finely chopped (with seeds and ribs removed)
Black/red beans – 1/2 cup, soak for a few hours if using dried ones
Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
Bay leaf - 1
Red chili powder - 1 tsp (adjust as per your taste preference)
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Long grain white rice – 2 cups, wash, soak for a few minutes and rinse
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Olive oil/ butter - 2 Tbsp
Fresh coriander – 1/4 cup, chopped
Lime/lemon juice – 2 tsp
Cheddar cheese – 1/2 cup grated

Cook the beans in enough water and a little salt till soft but firm and drain
Blanch the tomatoes in hot water and peel off the skin and puree till smooth
In a pressure cooker / a large saucepan, heat oil/butter over medium heat.
Add onions and garlic and sauté till slightly done
Add the peppers, then rice, beans, bay leaf, jalapenos.
Sauté until the rice is slightly browned.
Add 2 cups of water, tomato puree, chili powder, cumin powder and salt and bring to a boil.
If using pressure cooker cook for one whistle. If cooking in the saucepan, reduce heat and simmer till the rice is just cooked
Let cool for about 10 minutes and mix in the coriander, lime juice and mix gently taking care not to make the rice mushy
Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with grated cheese and serve hot.

Chopped veggies can also be added
I use the red kidney beans that I have in my pantry; usually black beans are used
The cheese gives a nice gooey and rich taste to the rice – We like to add it at the end and not mix it in for that extra effect.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pasta Salad with Yogurt Dressing

Ohhh... I've been missing here in action, haven't I? Well, blame it on pure lethargy... to write and post :( Though i have a dozen posts in drafts, they are just pics and i still need to do the writing... And just the way I am, I was too pre-occupied with other things that i didn't feel like blogging.

And today, there was a deadline for my next article in VK and I had to write! Writing as I was, i thought why not start posting something on my beloved blog as well and here I am....

This is one other salads that i make quite often, and had not made it to the blog yet. I usually make a salad to accompany a not-so-healthy meal, like pizza / lasagne, etc just so that the guilt is reduced :D. 

So without much rant here's the recipe...

Pasta Salad with Yogurt Dressing

Pasta - Fusili or any other shape - 2 handfuls
Apple - 1, cored and chopped
Green, red, yellow Capsicum - 1 cup, deseeded and chopped

For dressing:
Yogurt - 1/4 cup
Mayonaise - 4 Tbsp
Olive Oil - 1 Tbsp
Vinegar - 2 tsp, optional
Italian dried herbs - Thyme/Oregano - 1 tsp
Salt                  - ¼ tsp or as per taste
Black pepper powder - ½ tsp or as per taste
  • Cook pasta as per the instructions on the pack, and allow to cool completely
  • Core and chop apples; Deseed and chop capsicum. 
  • Mix these in a large bowl
  • in another small bowl, mix the ingredients for dressing.
  • Give a good shake, and add it to the salad
  • Mix well and serve

  • Add the dressing just before serving as the pasta absorbs the liquid and becomes dry.
  • If the dressing seems thick, thin it out by adding a little water or buttermilk 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

VK Column 5: Spicy Starters

Vijaya Karnataka, 3rd March 2013... Thank you VK!

Check out the originals here -

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Haalbai - A healthy, irresistible sweet

Hello folks! Here I am after a break... just felt like taking off from blogging, so the absence. I am like that - just don't feel like doing certain things at times!!

Presenting here today is an authentic, South Karnataka sweet - Haalbai, which is almost fat free, healthy, melt in mouth, light and makes you crave for more! It is made of whole grains - wheat, rice or ragi. My favorite is the one with wheat, shown here. It requires soaking the grains and extracting milk from it. The milk extracted is then heated in a heavy bottomed vessel until it thickens to a halwa consistency. Then it is poured over a greased plate and cooled and cut into squares. Some people do use coconut milk also along with the extracted milk, but it is optional. Without the coconut milk, all the fat used is a teaspoon of ghee for greasing the plate!

Coming to the taste, it is a cross between halwa and may be burfi - though not exactly. It can be cut into any shape and retains its shape firmly, but at the same time it is soft with a melt in the mouth texture. It can be had at room temperature or cooled in the refrigerator and had. It's just irresistible!!

I had made these for last Deepavali, by myself, but never got to posting it till now. Let me warn you before hand it is definitely time consuming, but once you are done with it, its totally worth it! You'll be proud of yourself for trying it out!!

Here's how you make it...


Preparation Time: ~1 hr
Cooking Time: ~ 1 hr

  • Whole wheat grains - 1 cup 
  • Freshly grated coconut - 1 cup (optional – I did not use it)
  • Grated jaggery - 2 cup
  • Ghee – 1 tsp 
  • Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp 
  • Clean and soak the wheat grains in water overnight or up to 12 hours
  • Grind the soaked wheat grains into a smooth paste using very little water & strain using a fine mesh or a muslin cloth.
  • Repeat the process twice & discard the residue
  • If using coconut, grind it along with the wheat
  • In a large heavy bottomed vessel, add the extracted milk, jaggery, and bring it to a boil
  • Add cardamom powder and bring to a gentle boil.
  • Keep on stirring till the whole mixture thickens. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour.
  • The mixture should leave the sides of the pan. When completely cooked, the mixture is non-sticky & gets a uniform gloss. 
  • Spread on a greased plate & allow it to cool. Once cool, cut into squares & serve
  • It should stay in the refrigerator for about a week.
  • This proportion yields about one 10 inch plate of halbai, which can be cut into about 25 pieces
  • Before taking it off the pan, do a test. Take a tsp of the mixture & spread on a greased plate. It should be able to come off without sticking to the plate. This ensures that it is done.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Column 4: Cookies

Here's the fourth of my column in Vijaya Karnataka, a kannada daily... Date: Sunday, 27 Jan 2013. Pg 21
The original cookies are here on the blog -