November 29, 2006


Hello everybody! Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and ate a lot. Now, make some room for my delicious dishes too! Before that, I have some beautiful photos to share with you from the Carolina Coast where we were for a short break last week and then my contribution to 'Jihva' and Poori with Field beans masala!

A beautiful Sunrise:

Even more beautiful Sunset:

A sunny stroll on the beach:

Well, hope you enjoyed the photos as much as we did. Now on to my recipes:

A delicious American classic Jello Jiggler dessert with a Indian twist using Jaggery! This would be my entry to 'Jaggery for Jihva' being rounded up by Kay of 'Towards a better Tomorrow' who suggested that we should come up with some unusual dishes if we could.I thought 'Okay then, let me see who has thought of making this dessert before?!'I am hoping that I am the only one who came up with this Jaggery Jello Jiggler:D Btw, I love the name 'Jihva',I wish it had a equally beautiful logo as well so I could display it with pride ;)

A quick Info:
Jaggery ,Bella,Vellam,or gur as we call it in India, is an unbleached and unrefined sweetener made from sugarcane .It is found in South America as Panela and in Mexico as piloncillo. (Photo:

Here is my Jaggery Jello Jiggler: Makes 2-4 servings

This is how you make this super simple but delicious Jello:
1/4 Cup packed Jaggery,crushed (or more Jaggery if you want it sweeter)
1 cup water (1 Gelatin envelope for 1 1/4 cup liquid, total proportion)
1 Envelope(1/4oz) of Knox or Jell-o Original unflavored unsweetened Gelatin,
1 tbsp heavy cream (1 more tbsp cream if you want it creamier)
1/2 tsp cardamom pd.

Spray a Jello mould with no-stick oil lightly, keep it aside.
1. Soak Jaggery in water for 5 mins and boil in the Microwave until melted for 3-4mins. Strain through a strainer lined with paper coffee filter to a bowl.
2. Add cardamom pd to the hot mix. Add gelatine to 1 tbsp heavy cream and stir until smooth.
3. Add immediately to the hot Jaggery water,stir gently to mix.
4. Pour into the mould and place it in the fridge.Do not touch it until set.
5. Finally, immerse the bottom of the mould in hot water.When edges are loose, invert onto a plate and serve. Your Indian Jello is ready to dig in :))

After that yummy dessert, a delicious Field Beans Masala:

Let me give you an authentic Karnataka dish; my home state back in South India along with some puffed wheat flour Pooris to scoop it up. These beans are called Field Beans in English and Avarekai or Avarekalu in Kannada ,which are grown in India and elsewhere mainly during summer.Lot of good memories are associated with this Field beans dish which is my Grandmother's recipe and she used to make it often with fresh beans along with Idlis and Dosas:)I make some Pooris with this dish which is one of the fried breads of India.

This is how dry Field Beans look as you get it in the Indian stores:

A Summer delight:

Usually every summer in India ,Indians get a surplus supply of fresh green beans which are delicious to eat and have unique taste unlike any other beans we usually get here like Navy,Kidney etc,.If you cannot get this particular beans, you could use the same masala with any beans available.Ofcourse, it tastes different from this field beans dish.

Another look of field beans masala.It looked so good , I decided to put up this photo as well!

In US, usually we get plenty of dried beans in Indian stores but hardly any fresh one's ,at least where I live. You do need to soak the dry beans overnight,drain and cook next day in a pressure cooker with water.These are also called Val, Surati Val or Val beans which are split beans.I prefer to use whole Val or field beans in this traditional dish, which is really called Avarekalu Palya in Kannada to be authentic!

A delicious plate of Field beans masala with puffed Pooris, served with onions and a slice of lemon:

To Make Beans Masala, you need:

You need to soak 1 cup dry Field beans overnight and the next day, ,drain the water, add 3 cups of fresh water and cook until soft.I use pressure cooker on low heat for 30 mins ,so they don't get mashed.

Dry roast each separately: 1 1/2 tbsp Coriander seeds,3/4 tbsp cumin seeds,1/2 tsp Fenugreek or methi seeds, 1 tsp peppercorns,2-3 dry red chillies,1 tbsp poppy seeds.Fry 2 big onions sliced in 1 tbsp oil until brown,1 small garlic, saute for few mins.

Take them out. Add all these to the blender along with 1/4 cup fresh or dry dessicated coconut,1 tbsp roasted chana dal or chutney dal,1/2 tsp turmeric,1 tsp paprika or chilli pd ,enough water , grind to a smooth paste.

Soak and squeeze out 3 tbsp tamarind juice.Heat 1 tbsp oil or butter, add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds,curry leaves (Optional),1 garlic minced,1/2 onion chopped,fry until soft. Add ground masala ,tamarind juice and 1 cup of water and simmer until the raw smell goes on medium heat for 10 mins.

When it's thicker and a little oil shows on top, add cilantro,salt,adjust the chilli pd if needed.Add in all the beans with water and simmer until thick.Tastes better next day. Add as much water as needed, don't make it too thin. Need to be able to scoop up the beans with poori Indian style!If it's too thin, microwave it on high for 5 mins.Don't burn the gravy.

Now, let's make some Indian whole wheat puffed bread, shall we?!

These are just like paratha dough but rolled out into smaller circles and deep fried.Pooris are not usually made everyday unlike chapatis and parathas because they are deep fried.They are usually reserved for weekends, special days or whenever we have guests.They are delicious to eat right out of the fryer (after draining on paper towel that is) since they get deflated quickly after few mins unless you add 2tbsp fine semolina which retains the puffed shape for a longer time than just wheat flour Pooris but get a little crispier . Did you get all that?:D
I talk too much, don't I? I will shut up now and make some Poories........

This is how you make Pooris: Makes about 16 pooris/4 servings

Mix and knead
2 cups of either wheat flour or Plain flour ,1/2 tsp salt ,1 tbsp fine semolina with enough milk or water until you get a firm pliable dough,cover and keep aside for 15 mins.Divide into golf ball sized or smaller portions to make round balls again.

Take a ball, roll out to a 4" and 1/8" thick circle. Cover until ready to fry.Don't use too much flour or let them dry too much before frying.Heat the oil to deep fry while you roll them out.You can use 4"-5" cookie cutter for a perfect Poori:)

When the oil is hot (375F),slide in one Poori into the oil,press it down gently under the oil for a few seconds with a wide spatula until it starts to puff,and then let it go.Splash some oil on it carefully if it helps the poori to puff up.

It will puff as you can see in the picture, if the dough not very soft,didn't roll them too thin or you didn't make any holes in it:) Be patient and practice. Try to make a perfect circle instead of maps like me.You can cut with cookie cutters too:D

After few minutes, flip gently and fry the other side until golden.Drain on the paper towels and serve them any gravy dish or dry fried veg or meat dishes.

Perfectly puffed up Poori!

That's all there is to it. Cook all these comfort food and enjoy the new tastes! :)

Here is another dish of Field beans sambhar (South Indian gravy) to eat with rice I cooked for us, using a fellow blogger's recipe. Lera's Bangalore style tasty Field beans curry(Avarekaii saaru). Thanks Lera :)

Well..enjoy good life and good food ,be happy and think positive!
See you all later in good health next week with my VERY special post ;)

November 22, 2006


This is my contribution to Nandita's (of Saffron Trail) WBB #7 for 'Baking For Breakfast'. Thank you for hosting, Nandita.

This is also my contribution to Ana of 'Morsels and Musings's food blogging event 'Festive Food Fair'.
Thanks for hosting,Ana :)

These unique combination of goodies also make a delectable breakfast on Thanksgiving day for a great start for you and your guests before you jump into cook that Turkey :) Enjoy!!

Have a great Thanksgiving with your families and have fun !
When I baked a Coffee cake last week for my 'Give Thanks' post, I thought of including that cake into 'Baked Breakfast' for WBB #7 as well. But, since Thanksgiving is this week, I baked one more baked breakfast of delectable Scones with savory Latkes and Masala Chai which makes a fabulous breakfast on Thanksgiving morning!

What a combination,did you say?! Only my kind of brain can come up with this kind of Scottish,Jewish and Indian medley:D Enjoy...have a delicious breakfast on me while I go for a short break after posting this, but will check my e mails often! :)

Mixed Berries Cream Scones with Strawberry Jam, Potato Latkes and Masala Chai for breakfast:

This Scottish QUICK BREAD is said to have taken its name from the Stone of Destiny (or Scone), the place where Scottish kings were once crowned. The original triangular-shaped scone was made with oats and griddle-baked. Today's versions are more often flour-based and baked in the oven. They come in various shapes including triangles, rounds, squares and diamonds.Scone is also a village in central Scotland.Scones originated in Scotland between 1505-1515.( Info, courtesy of

A 'Heart' shaped beautiful Scone baked to perfection!

To make Scones you need: (Makes 6 big or 10-12 Smaller Scones)

Preheat the oven to 400F.

1/2 cup dried mixed berries, 2 cups plain flour, 1/4 cup sugar,1 tbsp Baking pd, 1/4 tsp salt,6 tbsp chilled butter,1 egg,1/3 cup cream or half and half or milk,for brushing on top; 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp cream.

In a blender with a mixer blade,add all the ingredients one by one with liquids first and then dry flour,run the blender just until they are mixed.Do not mix too much.Or you can mix all with a spatula or by hand until just mixed.

Take the lump out,place on a clean surface,knead gently to a smooth ball.Divide into two balls,pat one to a circle 1/2" thickness,either score into 6 wedges or cut into diff. shapes.Repeat with other ball.

I made 6 big Scones of diff. shapes without dividing the dough and with 1" thick circle as you can see. Place them on a ungreased cookie sheet 2" apart and brush the top with cream or milk,sprinkle sugar.Bake them for about 12-15 mins or until golden on top.Do not let them bake too much.Under-baked is better than over-baked:)

Take the sheet out of the oven,immediately put all the scones onto a cooling rack. That's about it. You should serve these with any jam you like.
Makes one delicious breakfast with soft and light scones jam or Orange Marmalade.

Scones with various shapes are ready for Breakfast:

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According to legend, when the Jews returned to cleanse their Temple, which had been defiled by pagan worship, they discovered only enough consecrated oil to keep the holy lamp burning for one day. However, the oil miraculously lasted eight days, the time needed to secure a new supply.Potato latkes are a traditional Jewish deep fried food treat, with the oil used for cooking recalling the miraculous oil in the sacred lamp.Potato pancakes called latkes, sometimes served with applesauce or sour cream, sometimes as a side dish with meat, are the food of Hanukkah.

Since I am just cooking Latkes for a savory breakfast, I skipped the very traditional Jewish recipe with egg etc, and suited it to own taste. Here is how I made my Latkes...

A plate of crispy fried Latkes:

To make Latkes you need:(Makes about 10-12 Latkes)

Heat oil to 375F or you can shallow fry or bake in the oven too.But tastes best fried:

1 big Russet baking potato,2-3 green and white parts of Spring onion chopped,1/2 big red or white onion coarsely grated,1/2 tsp garlic pd and ginger pd or some fresh garlic and ginger,salt, pinch of dry red chilli flakes and 1-2 tbsp plain flour or corn starch just enough to bind.

Chop and add all the ingredients into a bowl except flour ,and grate potato lengthwise to get long noodles like gratings.Mix all gently and add just enough flour to bind the mix.It should be loose not like a batter at all.

Idea is to get fried potatoes which looks like spiders with legs spread and a lump in the middle:D I know, there goes your appetite:)) But they taste out of this world,believe me!! It's fried potatoes after all.When the oil is hot,drop a small portion with a fork or with your fingers gently so the grated long strips spread out not in a lump.It's very imp not add water and too much flour to the mix.

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Flip to the other side gently to fry to golden color, do not burn. Drain on paper towel and if you are serving right away,put them in the oven on warm until you are ready.Serve with Apple sauce or some Sour Cream.

Indian Masala Chai:

A Chaiwallah in India:

In India, chai is most popularly sold from street vendors called chaiwallahs. These chaiwallahs carry pots of chai and serve it in tall glasses. It is also a family tradition in India to welcome your guests with cups of chai, specially in North India.Most of South India prefers Coffee. Each family has their own recipe for making masala Chai and preparation method.There is no wrong way making Chai but make with spices you prefer.Indian Masala chai is made with Assam , Darjeeling tea leaves etc,.I use 'Brooke Bond Red Label' brand tea leaves here.

Personally, I do not like peppercorns in my chai.I skip that and add a little of everything else you see in the list below.I also use fat-free milk and no water at all in my chai.You must add little sugar to Indian chai,it is NOT herbal or black tea people! Lemon slices are not necessary either. I have given you the traditional blend for Masala Chai below.But it's up to you to add whatever spices of your choice.Chai you see here is my way of making it at home for us.

Here is my positively glowing golden Masala chai as I made it:)

The most commonly used ingredients in Masala Chai include;

Cardamom-A wonderfully fragrant spice ,green cardamom is what you use for masala chai.
Cinnamon -Cinnamon in stick form is used for chai.They should be crushed slightly before use.
Cloves-whole cloves slightly crushed are used.Only one or two cloves are enough to infuse a large pot of chai.
Pepper-Whole peppercorns are used.
Ginger-Ginger root should be fresh.Ginger has a pungent, almost citrus flavor with warming effects.It should be crushed a little when making Chai.

This is how I make my Masala Chai:

To make two cups of masala chai,you need:

2 1/4 cups fat-free milk,2 tsp sugar.
Spices; 2 cloves,1/2" fresh ginger,2" cinnamon stick,2-4 whole green cardamoms and 1-2 tbsp of tea leaves,depending on how strong you want your tea.

Indian tea leaves do have strong flavor.I add just 1 tbsp of tea leaves for two cups.I skipped peppercorns,added here on the plate just to show you the ingredients.You can add if you want to.
Now take a pan, put on medium heat,add milk and sugar.Do not let boil too much,just get it up to a simmer.

Meanwhile,gently crush or bruise all the spices , NOT powder, and add to the simmering tea pot, turn down the heat to low and let it simmer for 3-5 mins.
Strain into two cups using strainer lined with a coffee filter if the leaves are very fine. Adjust the sugar and voila!!

My style Masala Chai is ready for you to enjoy! :)

Have a great Holiday!

We are off to the beach for a short Thanksgiving holiday just for 4 days. I know what you are thinking! Who goes to the beach in Nov,right?! Surprisingly, LOT of people! :D
Most resorts were booked up and we got a suite in the nick of time!! Anyway, my Laptop is coming with me, so no worries :))

November 15, 2006


Let me thank the hostess of Monthly Mingle 'Give Thanks' first! Danke`, Meeta of WFLH for hosting this event. I appreciate your friendship as well:))

Thanksgiving is just around the corner.It's time for us to think of good people in our lives and thank them all for their kindness and love which sustain us through our good times and bad. Here are my thanks!!

My Family:
My husband Arvind,who doesn't talk much on a daily basis,not a fussy guy and never looks at my posts unless I ask him to, out of the blue bought me a Cannon Power shot 6 mega pixels camera last week and he says "it takes better photos for your blog:O "Ooohhh! Did he think of ME when he was at work? OYYY!!
Now that calls for a big fat "thank you" from me!:D
My two kids who make my life easy, joyful and complete! Thank you Trishala and Tushar! I thank my lucky stars for having all three of you in my life.And of course I thank my family back home in India although they might say "huh?!" because they are not used to 'Thanksgiving'!:D

My blog friends, Ladies first:
When I started blogging on July 14th 2006,one of the very few who visited me was 'Menu Today' and she advised me "leave some comments Asha, let us know you" and I did! I never forgot your kind advice, MT! A special thanks to you:)

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Ladies, I thought of listing ALL of your names in here to thank each one of you but realized that there are more than 60 of you ladies, 'Desi' and 'Pardesi'!(ie Indians and non-Indians):) I never thought that I had so many blog friends.I will try my best to visit you all whenever I can.I am overwhelmed by your affection. A big "THANK YOU" from me to all of you ladies! I respect and adore each one of you intelligent, savvy , strong women and cherish your friendship.

Susan in Italy, Grazie! You are a great lady, who takes on other cultures,their food and make us aware of it in your posts.I have learnt from you!Rowena, Grazie and Mahalo! Thank you for your sweet e mails. Nee! Thanks luv! May God bless you with 100 sons Indian style;D
Keshi and Margie, I thank you both:))

No! I haven't forgotten you Gentlemen :)
Jeff with his crisp,to the point,mostly one sentence comments:), Johnny with his own style(!), Deepak the Megalomaniac:),Sanjay who tracks my posts by his RSS feed:),DeepSat, Kulpreet,SOUTHPAW, Kishore, DilipUK, Twisted DNA,Orhan, Prasad and Paresh. Thank you! I appreciate all of you handsome guys, and may we remain blog friends for years to come. Wish you all the best in whatever you do in your lives.(Did I forget you? Remind me!)

My teenage blog buddies! Thank you Isha, Julia, Sneha and Raghu! My best to all of you,a very bright future is surely ahead of you.So young and so smart!!:))

Finally, to all the 'Ghost readers' who showed up , thank you!Others who didn't, please say 'thanks' to the blog authors when you visit them for their hard work! Not just to me and my blog , to ALL of us!:)

Let me make you some breakfast while you relax and hope that we will be blog friends forever! Here's my sweet and savory offerings for all of you in friendship:

Apple-Cinnamon Coffee Cake With Struesel Topping, Hash Medley, fresh Grapes and hot Coffee are on the menu !!

Apple-Cinnamon Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping:

To bake a coffee cake you Need:

2 cups all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup sugar, 2 1/2tsp baking pd,1 tsp sweet cinnamon pd,1/4 tsp each salt and nutmeg pd, 1/2 cup butter,1/2 cup milk,1 egg, 1 big apple,chopped finely to 1/4" cubes or slices.Grease or spray a 9x9x2 baking pan.Line with parchment
paper. Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Streusel topping: 1/4 cup each quick cooking oatmeal and plain flour,1/4 cup packed brown sugar,1/2 tsp cinnamon pd,1/4 cup butter softened,2-3 tbsp crushed walnuts(Optional).Mix all these with your fingertips until it resembles coarse lumps.Keep aside.

Mix all the dry ingredients first and add cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs.Mix all the wet ingredients in a seperate bowl and add to the dry.Stir everything just until moistened.Or you add all except apple into a blender with a mixer attachment,and mix all but not too much.Add in Apple pieces and mix with a spatula.

Posted by Picasa Pour the batter into the pan,tap gently to get the bubbles out,sprinkle the Streusel topping on the batter evenly.Bake for about 40 mins or until a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean.Cool on the rack for 15mins and cut into 9 squares and serve.

Coffee cake is ready. Got fork?:)

Hash Medley:

Hash or Hash Brown is a potato and onion dish seasoned and sauteed in butter or oil until it is golden and served for breakfast along with pancakes, Sausages, Grits etc in the south. Well, you know me!:) I added lot more colorful veggies along with Potatoes and made into a Hash Medley! Tastes great.

How to make Hash Medley you Need:

Chop 2 potatoes peeled,chopped to a 1/4" cubes or you can use canned diced potatoes too or a frozen potato hash,1 onion diced, green,red and yellow peppers diced,few jalapenos, few Olives,few broccoli and cauliflowerettes,1 small carrot and all diced to the same size.

Heat oil or butter in a non-stick pan,add carrots first,saute for 2 mins and then add potatoes,fry until half done.Then add all other vegs to the pan and stir-fry until cooked and golden.Add salt and pepper or any spice you like.

Serve with a big slice of cake, Hash Medley,Grapes or any other fruit and a cup of steaming coffee. Sounds great , doesn't it? Hope you bake this delicious Coffee cake and Hash Medley.

Enjoy and have a great day :))

A final note:
Blogging is not easy as some people might think! We do get addicted to it before we even realize! It does take time and energy to do this! So, my humble advice to you would be 'take a break' and 'it's okay if you cannot leave comments on every post of everybody'! But do visit when you can and able.Also keep in mind that this blogging and commenting 'business' is a two way street!;D

Our families must comes first, then these blogs:) Enjoy blogging, but don't let it stress you more. I used to feel guilty if I miss even one post of my fav bloggers. But now I have learnt to take it easy and take my time, visit blogs when I am done with my usual work. It's not a competition to win medals but a hobby which gives us a venue for our creativity and so relax, enjoy it all:)

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Have a great Thanksgiving my blog buddies:)

Before I forget, 'thank you' Blogger service, for providing these freebee blogspots for people like me to go crazy like I have here!:D