December 19, 2007


Merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah to all of you!

Well...this is my last post in 2007! Christmas and Hanukkah are almost here, hope you baked lot of cookies and ready to have some fun! Although personally we don't celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah at home, I love baking few cookies and kids love decorating the X-mas tree with colorful ornaments. My last year's holiday posts are here and here. I love how people smile more and kinder around this time, even though they are little stressed about shopping for gifts and getting ready for the big day!!

Have a wonderful blessed Christmas and Hanukkah, enjoy the holidays with your families! :)

Photos are from and

About Christmas and Hanukkah:
To read all about how Christmas is celebrated around the World, click on the link. If you are curious about how did the Christmas start or the history of Christmas, click on the link.

Click on the link to read the beautiful story of Hanukkah; about the "Miracle of the Maccabees" etc.

Now, the cookies!!

I am sending these delicious Rugelach to Susan from "Foodblogga", who is hosting "Eat Christmas cookies" event. If you want to try myriad recipes for cookies, head over to her round up here to bake them to your heart's content! Thanks for hosting Susan!:)

Rugelach in Hebrew means "creeping vine", according to WIKI. Usually dairy products are not used in this to keep it Kosher. But I do like Cream cheese and added colored sugar added to this recipe! I adapted the recipe from "Ina Garten" of "Barefoot Contessa" with my own different fillings like Mango jam,Papaya jam,Raspberry jam, Pineapple jam with coconut and Nutella! YUM!!

To make the crust:
4 ounces cream cheese,softened, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, 1/8 cup granulated sugar, 1/8 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour.

Combine 6 tbsp of granulated sugar, 1/8 cup brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup walnuts to top the jam. Keep aside.

1/4 cup fruit preserves, pureed or any jam, nuts you like or chocolate and coconut fillings etc. Use your imagination!!

Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk.

To sprinkle on top: Mix 3 tbsp granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon powder or red and green colored sugar.

How to make them:

Cream the cheese and butter in a mixer until creamy and light. Add 1/8 cup sugar, the salt and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just mixed. Take out the dough onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in two pieces, wrap each piece in plastic and chill for 1 hour or more(must do this).

Roll each ball of dough into a 9" circle using as much flour as you need on the counter top. Spread each with the jam filling and sprinkle the filling and press the filling lightly. Cut the circles into 12 or 8 equal wedges, starting with the wider edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, end piece under on a baking sheet sprayed or lined with parchment paper. Chill in the fridge for 30 or more minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon pd or take colored sugar and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for about 17-25 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Remove, let them cool on the sheet for a minute, and then remove them carefully onto a wire rack and let them cool completely.

Makes 24 mini cookies or 16 big cookies. Process is little messy and you must chill the dough and the rolled cookies as long as you can but they are so delicious, they are absolutely worth the effort and time. Hope you try.

Meeta from "What's for lunch honey?" blog's "Monthly Mingle" this month with an interesting theme of "Drop in and decorate".She is asking us to bake and decorate cookies and donate them to shelters etc in our own community. I will take these cookies to a family with kids I know who would love and appreciate them. Thanks for the great idea Meeta!:)

Festive cookies:
These are the easiest and delicious cookies to make and with red and green festive colors,they make a attractive presentation and I am sure kids would love to grab by the handful!

You need: 1 stick butter (1/2 cup) softened to room temp, 7 tbsp Powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp Vanilla essence, 1 1/4 cup plain flour, 1/8 tsp salt. Red and Green food color and colored sugar to sprinkle.

To bake cookies:

1. Add and beat butter, sugar pd and vanilla until creamy and light in a blender with paddle attachment or in a bowl with a wooden spoon by hand.
2. Add in sifted flour and salt little at a time and mix just until just blended.Take out on the counter top and knead to a soft dough gently, not too much.
3. Divide this dough to two and mix red and green food color to each and knead to blend the colors. Cover in Saran wrap or plastic and chill for half an hour in the fridge.
4. After 1/2 an hr, preheat on the oven to 350F. Take out the dough, shape the colored dough into wreaths, canes(make 2 ropes,and twist then around each other), 2" round balls and crescents.
5. Place them on a double layered cookie sheet and bake for about 12 mins. DO NOT let the cookies get brown on top. Take out the cookie sheet, let the cookies cool for 2 mins on the sheet. Gently remove them on to a cooling rack. Let them cool completely before you store them.

Note: To make plain white butter cookies without color or fancy shapes like the photo below, add 1/4 cup more flour (ie 1 1/2 cup instead of 1 1/4 cup) to the above recipe, chill the dough and shape into 12 round cookies and bake. Take out the cookie sheet out of the oven and sprinkle some sugar powder on top and transfer them to cool on a rack. Makes about 12 cookies. Double the recipe if you need more than 12.

Vanilla-Butter cookies:
This recipe can be adapted to make Khara/spicy Biscuits/cookies. To make Khara biscuits or spicy cookies just skip vanilla and sugar from the above recipe and add finely chopped curry leaves and green chillies or chill flakes, pinch of Ajwain/Caraway seeds, 1 tsp cumin powder, salt. Bake as above. Enjoy! :)

Here are two holiday punch and a mocha drink I liked to wash down all those cookies!

Holiday red Punch:
Recipe from "cooking light" magazine.
To make it:
3 cups of Cranberry Juice,
3 cups Raspberry Juice,
2 cups club soda,
1/4 cup Vodka or black currant liqueur.(Skip this if you like non-alcoholic punch)

Mix all and add Ice cubes or chill to serve.Serves 6-8.

Non-alcoholic party Punch:
This recipe from "" web site which I liked.
To make it:
4 cups cranberry juice
1 cup sugar
2 cup orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups ginger ale

Mix juice and sugar, chill. Add ginger ale just before serving. Serves 10 to 12.

Minty Hot Mocha:
Recipe from "Cooking light" magazine.
To make it:

1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 cup water, 2 tbsp instant coffee granules, 4 3/4 cups skim milk, 1/2 tsp Peppermint extract.

1. Mix sugar and cocoa, add water, boil stirring constantly. Stir in coffee granules.
2.On medium heat, simmer these for 5 mins.Add milk, stir for 5 mins. Take off the heat.
3. Add mint extract, beat well with a whisk until frothy. Serves 6.

That's it folks!:)

I am back blogging and commenting after almost 3 weeks of silence! Hope you are all keeping well. I had a good productive break, caught up with lot of reading too. We had our wedding anniversary last week (Dec 7th) which I didn't tell you here since I made a big deal about our 20th last year!:D

We enjoyed our anniversary in Charlotte last weekend relatively quietly this year, watched movies, shopped a little and visited few restaurants of course!! Thank you Linda, TBC, Raks, Neema, Kribha, Raaga and Meera for your wishes!

See you next week! :)

November 28, 2007


My post overflowing with Toor dal dishes this week goes to Linda of "Out of the Garden" blog who is the hosting JFI event this month. JFI event is originally started by Indira of "Mahanandi". Linda has chosen India's most favorite "Toor dal" as a theme to cook for this November. Thanks for hosting Linda, excellent choice for JFI!:))

About Toor dal:
"The pigeon pea is a member of the family Fabaceae. Other common names for Pigeon peas are arhar, red gram, toovar/toor (Hindi/Gujarati/Marathi/Punjabi), togari bele (Kannada), Kandi pappu (Telugu), gandul, guandul, Congo pea, Gungo pea, Gunga pea, and no-eye pea. The Indian subcontinent, Eastern Africa and Central America, in that order, are the world's three main pigeon pea producing regions.
In India, split pigeon peas or toor dal are one of the most popular pulses, routinely used everyday in dal or Sambhar, specially in South India.
Pigeon peas are nutritionally important, as they contain high levels of protein and the important amino acids methionine, lysine, and tryptophan. In combination with other cereals and vegetables, pigeon peas make a well-balanced food group."
Info from WIKIPEDIA.

Except in non-veg Dhansak and very few others, Toor dal is not usually used in cooking non-vegetarian dishes, so it's all vegetarian dishes here this week here!:))

Toor dal-fresh Dill spiced dumplings cooked in Tomato Gravy:
This is a classic Tamil dish called "Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu", which means Dal dumplings in gravy, somewhat like Matzo balls in soup! The basic recipe idea is adapted from a cookbook called "Dakshin Bhog" and I changed the recipe a lot by adding Dill leaves to the dal and simmering it with spiced Tomato gravy, very nutritious and flavorful. Try it!:))

Toor dal-fresh Dill spiced dumplings:

Make the dal-dill dumplings first:
1. Soak 1/2 cup of Toor dal for 2 hrs in hot water, drain and add to a blender. Add 2 red chillies or 1/2 tsp chilli flakes,salt, 1/8 tsp of hing and grind to coarse paste without adding water.
2. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan, add 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds, 1 finely chopped green chilly,1/4 cup minced onion,fry until soft,add 1/2 cup chopped Dill leaves,stir for minute.
3. Add in dal paste, 1 tbsp grated coconut, 1 tsp rice flour, stir well for 1 minute until dal slightly changes color.Mix well and cool slightly. Make large marble sized balls and keep aside covered.

Sambhar powder: Roast 1 tbsp Coriander seeds, 1 tsp Cumin seeds, 1 tsp Tuar dal, 1 tsp Chana dal, 1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds,2 red dry chillies, 1/4 tsp Pepper corns,1" cinnamon stick, cool and powder.
Now make the gravy: 1. Heat 2 tsp each of oil and ghee in a deep pan, add 1 tsp mustard seeds, pinch of hing and few curry leaves.
2. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of Tomato sauce(canned), 1 cup water, 1/4 tsp turmeric,1 tsp sugar, salt, Sambhar pd, and cilantro and simmer on low heat until it boils for 2 minute and yu get a good aroma of Sambhar.
3. Now drop 3-4 balls of dal in the sauce,wait they come up on top,take them out and keep on a plate.Repeat with all the balls until they are cooked in the sauce.
4. To serve with rice and papad, heat the Sambhar gravy first and then add Dill balls to the gravy.Once they are cooked, they do not break. Delicious, enjoy!:)

Madras(Pearl) Onion Sambhar:
We call Pearl Onions as Madras onions in Karnataka. After Theeyal, this is my favorite Sambhar to cook immediately after I come back home from any vacation, craving for some spicy dal!:D
I like the Pearl onions to be still slightly crunchy in the Sambhar. I fry them separately and then add to cooked dal to prevent them from getting mushy if you cook with Toor dal in pressure cooker.

How to:

Roast these until golden, cool and powder: 1/4 cup dry grated coconut, 1 tbsp Coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds, 1 tsp Pepper corns, 1 tsp Channa dal, 2-3 dry red chillies,1 tsp Poppy seeds. Add 1/4 tsp hing or asafoetida and powder in a coffee grinder.
Season: Heat 2 tsp oil, add 1 tsp Mustard seeds, 1-2 red chillies, few curry leaves.
To make Sambhar:
1. Peel about 20 Pearl onions, stir fry these in 3 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan until they are golden on the edges and almost cooked. They still should be whole and slightly crunchy. Cool.
2. Pressure cook 1 cup Toor dal with 3 cups of water, and 1/4 tsp Turmeric until soft. Mash slightly.
3. In a deep dish, heat oil and add all the seasoning ingredients, fry. Add cooked dal, Pearl onions, ground Sambhar powder, few chopped cilantro, salt and 1 tbsp Tamarind juice.
4. Simmer for 15 mins and serve with rice , pickle and Pappadoms. Tastes better the next day.

Special Masale Dose!
Quick and crisp (Adai)Toor dal-Rice masala dosa, sprinkled with MTR brand red Chutney powder, stuffed with Potato-Tomato filling, served with Coconut-Garlic Chutney and ghee! Sounds good huh? I thought I will give a special twist to the good old Masala dosa and combination of all these three slightly different than usual dishes makes one very tasty masale dose! Enjoy!:))

To make the batter: Soak 1 cup long grain rice, 1/2 cup Toor dal, 1/4 cup Chana dal, 2 tbsp Moong dal, 2 tbsp Urad dal for 4 hrs.
2. Drain all the water, add as much water as you need to grind the soaked dal in the blender until you get a thickish coarse batter like Semolina/cream of wheat, do not have to grind until very smooth.
3. Add the batter into big bowl, adjust the salt and it's ready to use right away or keep it in the fridge if you don't need it immediately.

Potato-Peas-Tomato filling:

To make this: 1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan, add 1 tsp mustard seeds,2 tsp Urad dal,few chopped curry leaves, 2 chopped green chillies, 1/2" fresh ginger grated or minced.
2. When they turn slightly golden, add 1 minced onion, 1/8 tsp chilli pd, stir until edges are golden. Add 3 peeled, cubed Potatoes, 1/4 cup water, cover and cook until almost cooked.
3. Add 2 large Tomatoes chopped, salt and cilantro. Mix and cook until all the water has evaporated. Adjust the spices and serve.

Coconut-Garlic Chutney:
This is an easy chutney you can make in a jiffy and you will love it if you like Garlic! Keep the chutney creamish in color!

This is how you make it: 1. Add 1 cup of grated fresh Coconut, 2 fresh green chillies, 1/4 tsp pepper corns, 3 garlic,few Cilantro stems (not leaves), few curry leaves, salt, 1 tbsp yogurt to the blender.
2. Grind all these to a smooth paste without adding water if you can. Sprinkle little bit of red chili pd on top and serve.
I used MTR brand dry red chutney powder to sprinkle on top of the dose. To make your own, you can powder 1/4 cup roasted Chana dal(chutney dal or chana dalia) and powder it with red chilli pd, salt, Hing.

How to make Masala Dosa:

1.Heat a electric griddle to 300F. Take a ladleful of batter, pour and spread into huge oval shaped dosa, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp chutney pd, drizzle with oil or ghee.
2. When the bottom is golden, brush 1 tsp of Garlic chutney, add a 4 tbsp of Potato filling in the center of the dose.
3. Fold in one side of the dose to the center and repeat the other side in the same way and take it out on a plate.
4. Serve the crispy dose with little Ghee,Potato filling and Garlic chutney on the side.

Toor dal-Chana dal Chutney:
This nutritious and quick to make Dal chutney tastes great with some freshly cooked hot rice and ghee or with some plain Yogurt and rice. Keeps well in the firdge for atleast a week!

You Need: 1/2 cup Toor dal, 1/4 cup Chana dal, 1/4 cup dry grated Coconut, 3 dry red chillies or 1/2 tsp red chilli pd, 2 tsp Coriander seeds, 1 tsp Cumin seeds,1 tbsp Peanuts, 1 Garlic, few curry leaves, salt, 2 tsp Tamarind juice.
Seasoning: 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp Mustard seeds, 1 red chilly, broken.
To make it:
1. Heat a pan, roast both dals, coconut, Peanuts, chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, garlic, curry leaves one by one until reddish. Cool.
2. Add salt and tamarind juice to the blender along with roasted dal etc and grind with very little water to a coarse paste.
3. Heat oil to season, add mustard seeds and red chilly. When they splutter, mix with chutney. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

More Toor dal dishes I have already posted:
Beets Rasam
TogariBele Saaru, Mysore style
Dal Palak
Okra-Tomato Sambhar
Adai with Beans Palya and Chutney
Toor dal-Dill Sambhar
Toor dal-Beans-Dill Bassaru
Zucchini-Carrots Adai

Last photos of the Fall:

Turning bright red before all the leaves fall out. Now all these trees are almost bare!!


November 21, 2007


A very happy Thanksgiving to all of you!:))

Here is my last year's Thanksgiving post! This post is just to thank all of you all more than the usual recipes galore. Enjoy your families and friends! I will be on a short break from Thursday until Sunday. Kids have 5 days of holiday, got to start driving to some unplanned little town just for a weekend getaway!:)

Historically, harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations were held by most of the cultures all over the World. You can read all about it here.
Here are few an interesting facts and Myths about Thanksgiving!! Did you know they had suggested the Turkey as one of the birds for American symbol before they chose the Eagle? They also think that they might not have had the Turkey for the "First Thanksgiving" feast!!

"Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a traditional North American holiday to give thanks at the conclusion of the harvest season.Families and friends gather for a reunion, a day of thanks, and a festive meal." (WIKIPEDIA)
President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a Federal holiday as a "prayerful day of Thanksgiving" on the last Thursday in November, 1939 and was approved by the US congress in 1941.

Here is my thanks:
I thank each and every one of you who come to visit to say hello to me every week and share part of your lives with me and teaching me a lot about many things too and to my family for being there for me always. Without all your support, my blogs and life in general would be colorless and bare!! I have made many new friends through blogging this year and in one short year, you have made me feel so loved and appreciated like never before.For that, I am grateful to all of you.I haven't even had a day of allergy or flu for more than a year, I think my mind and body are happy and in sync, thanks to all of you and my family!!:)

Blog friends, let's keep all our blogging purely fun and without malice. Life is too short for ugliness, let's all be beautiful!! Enjoy, laugh, love, live, (try and forgive mean people who leave nasty comments!) and count your blessings. Wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!:)

I thank GOD for bringing Fall colors to North Carolina at last! There is light at the end of the tunnel after all. YAY!!:D

NC is in it's element with full force. It's just gorgeous around here right now!! Heaven is back on Earth!!

"The World is my Oyster!!"
This quote comes from Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor";
Why, then the world's mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.

Sword? Nay, I shall open my World Oyster with a click of a mouse at crack of dawn, with a smile on my face and with light loving heart armed with my fully loaded blog roll to reach all your Laptops in every corner of the World! How about that for a change Shakespeare saheb?! Hahaha!!

Photo from fotosearch.
I thank God for laptops too!:D
It's still amazes me how these little Laptops and desktops connects and unites us all like minded people from all over the World!! It's like having the whole World on your lap and you forget the real World around you sometimes!:D

Thanksgiving feast in USA:
"Thanksgiving meals are traditionally family events where certain kinds of food are served. First and foremost, Turkey is the featured item in most Thanksgiving feasts (so much so that Thanksgiving is sometimes referred to as a "Turkey Day"). Stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn, turnips, yams and pumpkin pie are commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner." Info from WIKIPEDIA.

Our Thanksgiving Feast!
(We are having our Thanksgiving lunch a day early, so we can plan to leave on Thursday afternoon, that's why a little delayed post today!)
Turkey cutlets with Mushroom Turkey Gravy, whole wheat Bread-corn-herbs stuffing, Cranberry-Pineapple-Mandarin orange sauce, Apple butter, Mango Chutney, sauteed Green and Yellow beans in sauce topped with French's crunchy fried Onions, Mashed Garlic Potatoes with gravy and maple syrup glazed Yams(skipping Pumpkin Pie this year)in Graham Cracker crust with little cream on top (which melted by the time I took photos!) and served with warm Apple Cider flavored with a Cinnamon stick and lastly, added a handmade Turkey to the platter, my son's old elementary school craft project, a wooden clothes pin Turkey!!:D

Here is a platter for you, enjoy!:)

Thanksgiving 3

How did Thanksgiving became a tradition in my house?!
Before we moved to USA from England, we had never heard of Thanksgiving at all! That first year in 1994, we were really puzzled to see all these traveling,celebration and most of all cooking Turkey and all the mishaps one encounters while cooking that bird! When you don't have kids in school, you don't really learn much about local traditions and then kids grow up and teach us a few lessons of history of the land too!:)
I still didn't really think of celebrating until one day my son, then a 3rd grader, who is born and raised in US said "I am an American, I want a Turkey too!" Well..who can say no after that!!:D
I baked a 7lb Turkey for the first time following all the directions on the pack, it came out perfect. Turkey with all the trimmings was on a beautifully decorated table made my son and us very happy. Then he decided he doesn't want to deal with all bones after all. So next year, we just baked the Turkey breasts and year after, we baked a whole Chicken Tandoori style and now we are back to Turkey cutlets and all those trimmings!!:D
Anyway, we like the thought behind the "Thanksgiving" of giving thanks to all the people around us for caring and helping us thru' the year, not to mention the yummy feast attached to it and decided to celebrate Thanksgiving as one of our Traditions too just like we chose to celebrate Diwali and Shivaratri! Now, we look forward to Thanksgiving like any other family in America!:))

This post goes to Meeta of "What's for lunch Honey?" blog as my entry for her "Monthly Mingle" with a theme of "Traditional Feasts" this month. Thanks for hosting Meeta!:))

Here are my maple and Dogwood trees infront of house blazing with color and lawn is green too!


Savor every minute of life, enjoy the long weekend! See you all on Monday in your blogs and will post JFI-Toor dal next week!:))


I tried and loved Mythreyee of "Try this recipe" blog's Chana Masala recipe on Monday. This is not the usual North Indian Chana or Chole masala but very tasty South Indian style recipe, I added a cubed Potato instead of grinding it. I served it with Pooris, it was delicious. Thanks Myth!:)

November 14, 2007


Here is my RCI-Bihar entry which is hosted by Sangeeta of "Ghar ka khana" this month. Thanks for hosting Sangeeta!:)

About the state of Bihar:

Picture of Bodhgaya of Bihar, a place where Buddha had achieved enlightenment while meditating under the Bodhisattva tree. Photo from here.
The name Bihar derived from Sanskrit word "Vihar" meaning abode, is a land of monasteries. Called as "Magadh" in ancient times, Bihar boasts of many Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim and Sikh shrines.The state capital of Bihar is Patna and the language is Hindi with Bihari dialect.More about Bihar is here.
"The land of the enlightened Buddha, Bihar boasts of a rich culinary heritage that has been passed down through generations. The authentic cuisine of Bihar reflects the styles of the Mauryas, the Guptas, the Turks, the Afghans, the Mughals, the Persians, the Bengal Nawabs, and the Europeans. Bihari cuisine is known for its simplicity and elegance.The staple diet of Bihari people are rice, wheat chapatis, dals and milk products with the generous use of mustard oil and panch phoran." This Info is from here.

About Bihari dishes:
Bihar cuisine is one of the those which stumped again like state of Odiya! I just couldn't find any cookbooks exclusively devoted to Bihari cuisine although you do find Bihari Kababs, Litti recipes here and there in other cookbooks. Sattu, a yellow gram flour is used commonly in various dishes in Bihar. For some of the following delicious and authentic vegetarian Bihar recipes, I had to refer to these two websites making my own changes to simplify the recipes. They are here and here. Thanks to both sites!:)

Bihari Litti, Kothmir chutney and Achari Baingan Bharta:
Littis, made of plain flour crust stuffed with Sattu flour make a great snack with coriander chutney, and mashed grilled Eggplants, spiced with pickle juice. I baked these Littis but I think deep frying them gives the crust much better texture! Try it.

To make Litti:

For the Litti dough, you need:
1 1/2 cups Plain flour, 1/2 to 3/4 cup Yogurt, 1 tsp baking powder, salt. Mix and knead all these without using any water and using as much as yogurt you need to make a pliable dough. Make 6-8 balls.Cover and keep it aside. Make the filling.
For Sattu Filling:
1 cup Sattu (powdered yellow chana gram flour or chutney dal flour), ground 2 garlic, 1" fresh ginger, 2 green chillies or chilli pd, 2 tbsp minced cilantro, 1/2 tsp Nigella (black onion seeds), 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp Ajwain seeds, 1 tbsp Lemon juice, 1 tbsp Lemon pickle juice from the readymade jar and salt.
Mix all these, add just enough water to make a moist thick dough for filling.DO NOT make it soft! Make 6-8 balls.

How to make the Littis:
Preheat the oven or heat the oil to deep fry.
1. Dust each dough ball with dry flour lightly and press it out on your oiled left palm about 3" diameter in size with your right palm.
2. Put a ball of sattu filling in the center of the patty and close it from all sides and seal the edges.
3. When all the littis are stuffed, either bake in the oven till one side is brown spots come on the littis or you can deep fry them which will have a crisp outer layer.
4. Take them out, dip in ghee if baked and serve with cilantro chutney and Baigan ka bhurta (mashed and spiced egg-plant).

To make Kothmir Chutney:
Kothmir is a Hindi word for Cilantro or Coriander leaves. This spicy chutney is a great accompaniment for Littis.
1. Mix all these and grind; 2 cups chopped fresh Cilantro, 3-4 garlic, 2 green chillies, 2 tbsp lemon juice, salt.
2. Take it out into a bowl and add 2 tbsp warm Mustard oil and mix with it to be authentic Bihari chutney or heat 2 tbsp oil and add 2 tsp mustard seeds until they splutter. Add it to chutney and mix.

Achari Baingan Bhartha:
Achari means pickled in Hindi. Baingan Bhartha is grilled mashed spicy Eggplants. Here in this recipe, it is spiced with a tbsp of juice of any jar of pickle which give a wonderful taste!
1. Wash, wipe, brush some oil on top and bake 1 large purple Eggplant in 350F oven for 50 mins until it cooks inside out.
2. Take out, hold it under the cold water until the skin shrivels. Peel the skin and scoop the soft pulp with a spoon into a bowl.
3. Discard the skin and any seeds inside. Mash the pulp with a fork until coarse and let it cool.
4. When cooled, add 1 onion minced, ground 2 garlic and 1" ginger, 4 tbsp minced cilantro, salt, 1 tbsp lemon or mango pickle juice from the pickle jar, 1 tbsp Mustard oil and mix well.
Alternately; if you don't like raw taste of ginger-garlic paste in Bharta, heat 1 tbsp oil and add 2 tsp mustard seeds, then ginger-garlic paste, saute quickly and add to the Bharta along with other spices shown above.

A Bihari Thali; Kichdi with it's Chaar yaars and Kesar Kheer!!
Chaar Yaar means "four friends". Bihari Kichdi is usually served with it's four friends ie Raita, Papad, ghee and Pickle!! I loved this Kichdi, which almost tastes like our own Bisibele Bhath but cooked with Moong dal and Masoor dal. YUM!:)

To make Kichdi:

Season first:
Heat 4 tbsp ghee or butter in pressure pan , add 1 dry red chilly, 2 Bay leaves, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tbsp Ginger -Garlic paste, Fry or a minute.
Then add:
1/2 cup Masoor dal, 1/2 cup Moong dal, fry until slightly golden. Then add 1 cup Basmati or long grain rice, stir to mix. Add about 3 cups of water, 1 cup cubed mixed vegetables ( I used Green Peas and Cauliflower), salt and cook on a gentle heat for 3 mins or until they are cooked.
While it's cooking....Roast the whole spices lightly and powder with others:
Seeds from 1 Cardamom, 3 cloves, 1 Black Cardamom seeded, 1" Cinnamon stick, 1/2 tsp chilli pd, 1 tsp Cumin seeds, 2 tsp Coriander seeds, 1 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp turmeric.
And then....
When the pressure releases, open and add the ground powder. Heat thru' once more and adjust the spices. serve with Chaar yaars!:))

Palak Raita:
This yogurt relish is mixed with cooked Spinach gives the Raita a great texture and taste as well to make Kichidi even more tasty and nutritious.

1. Take 1 frozen bag of Spinach, thawed and squeeze out the water or chop about 2 cups o fresh Spinach. Cook these, drain as much water as possible, cool and chop it finely.
2. Beat 2 cups o plain Yogurt, add black salt (Kala namak) or plain salt, 1 tsp Cumin seeds powder, 1/4 tsp Prpper powder, 1-2 minced green chillies.
3. Add cooled Spinach and chill for 1/2 an hr before serving.

Saffrony Kheer:
Kheer or pudding is cooked with Chawal/rice, Saffron, sugar and flavored with Cardamom, raisins and Cahews rounds up a beautiful meal! Enjoy!:)

To make Kheer:
1. Take 1/2 cup Basmati or any rice - 1/2 cup, wash and drain. In a non-stick pan, add 1 tbsp Butter, rice, 3 cups of full cream milk, 1/2 cup sugar, few strands of Saffron and 1/2 tsp Cardamom seeds powder. Cook all these on medium with frequent stirring until rice is soft and milk has thickened like thin porridge.
2. Heat 2 tsp ghee or butter, add 6 Cashew nuts, 10-15 Raisins, fry until golden and add to the rice Kheer, mix. Serve warm or chilled.

Bihari Kababs:
Bihari Kababs are usually made with Beef strips or Lamb strips depending on which community non-vegetarians people of Bihar belong to. Meat is marinated with very flavorful mix of spices overnight and grilled, served with lots of salad on the side.
Vegetarians, you can use the same masala on big chunks of Tofu or Paneer to make Kababs.

To grill Bihari Kababs: 1. Slice 2 Beef fillets (or Lamb fillets) into about 12 1/2" thick, about 4 or 5" long, 2" wide strips. Place them in a Zip-lock bag.
2. Heat 2 tsp oil, add 1 large onion sliced and fry until golden. Put in the blender along with 2 tsp oil, 1" ginger, 3 garlic, 2 tsp Fennel seeds, 1 black cardamom, 2 green cardamom both seeded, small piece of Mace, 2 cloves, 1" cinnamon, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp peppercorn and salt blend all these into smooth paste with 2 tbsp lemon juice or yogurt.
3. Pour into the Zip-lock bag, lock and mix the meat and spice well. Keep it in the fridge to marinate for 4-6hrs or overnight.
4. Turn on the grill. Skewer the Kababs lengthwise and grill it about 10" away from grill turning frequently for about 15mins or so until you get brown spots on the Kababs. Do not let it burn.
5. Serve with yogurt sauce and salads.
Yogurt Sauce: Blend 1/2 cup plain yogurt, few strands of Cilantro,1 green chilly, 1 garlic, salt and pepper until well mixed and serve on the side.

That's about it for RCI-Bihar, loved all these dishes! Enjoy and see you all next week with what else but my Thanksgiving post!!:)

November 07, 2007


A very happy Deepavali to all of you.
May this Deepavali bring all of you loads of happiness,Peace, health and wealth.
Eid wishes to all our Muslim friends too, enjoy the festivities!:))

A colorful Rangoli with a beautiful deepa in the center!

Photo from fotosearch. Here is my last year's Deepavali post!

The Sanskrit word "Deepavali" is derived from Deepa = light and Avali = a row, that stands for victory of brightness over darkness. "Row of lights" are lit and colorful Rangolis are created to welcome Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and to bring prosperity to our homes and huge fireworks display will be enjoyed by all at the end of the day.

A Indian boy lighting rows of little lamps!

One of the most loved festivals for Hindus, Deepavali or Diwali in India is celebrated with lots of enthusiasm. This festival is celebrated for five days. On the third day, Diwali or 'Festival of Lights' is celebrated. Fireworks and colorful Rangolis are always associated with this Deepavali. Diwali is celebrated with people lighting diyas/Earthern lamps all around the house. Lakshmi(Goddess of Wealth) Puja is performed in the evening to seek her blessings and elaborate meals are prepared for the family. Diwali gifts and sweets are exchanged among the family and friends.
Photo from

Although, this festival is celebrated by different communities in a many different ways, the main idea is to celebrate the victory of good over evil, to bring a spiritual light into our lives. In India, Diwali is now considered to be more of a national festival, and the fun aspect of this festival like fireworks etc is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of their faith.More info about Diwali stories and rituals is here.

This post goes to Vee of "Past, Present and Me" who is hosting this month's "JFI and Festival series" combined to make a "Diwali special" Thank you Vee, looking forward to the delicious round up!:))


Well.. Here is my Pre-Deepavali sample thali, I am going to make this weekend! Usually, I make a grand feast for Deepavali like last year but I cooked so much for Dasara, I am cutting down Diwali menu a little this year. I might make some more snacks this week like Chakli which I have already posted. Enjoy!:)

Deepavali Feast!
Menu: Mom's Vegetable Bhath, Parathas, Green Tomatoes Kurma, Carrot-Moong dal Kosumbari, Onion Pakodas, Mini Samosas(store bought), Latha's Mysore Pak and Moong dal-Coconut Payasa, Mysore ajji style!!:)

Now the recipes..

Vegetable Bhath:
This is how my mom makes the vegetable Bhath, which is a spicy coconut paste combined with mixed vegetables and then mixed with cooked and cooled long grain rice. Basmati is not a good match for this spicy masala, which has it's own aroma. Coconut-veggies masala cab be made early and keep in the fridge for atleast 2 days.

Cook 2 cups rice, spread on a wide pan and let it cool.Cook 2 cups of cubed mixed veggies like Green beans, Carrots, Greenpeas, Turnips and Cauliflower separately and drain water.Keep aside.
Grind these with very little water to a thick coarse paste: 1 cup grated coconut, 3-4 green chillies, 4 cloves, 1" cinnamon/Dalchini, 1" Ginger, 2 large Garlic, few curry leaves, stems of Cilantro to avoid green color, 20 leaves of mint.
To make it: 1. Heat 1 tbsp oil and ghee mixed, add 1 small onion chopped and fry until edges are golden. Turn down the heat, add ground masalas and cooked drained veggies, mix gently and simmer for 5 mins.Do not fry, just heat thru' the masala.
2. Add this masala by ladlefuls to the rice with salt, toss gently until well mixed,adjust the salt and use only as much masala you need. Serve with a Salad.

Green Tomatoes Kurma:
We had our first Spring frost last week, that means no more red tomatoes for me! But they were loads of green Tomatoes left on the plants. I made this Kurma with a recipe my friend gave me in B'lore, little different than my own Kurmas! You can use any vegetable you like with the same masala. Goes very well with Poories, but I made some layered Parathas for Kurma.

1. Chop 6-8 Green Tomatoes into big chunks or any veggie you like,peel and cube 2 small potatoes, keep aside. 2. Heat 1 tbsp oil and butter, splutter 1 tsp mustard seeds and 1 tbsp Chana dal, and 1 tsp Urad dal. Add all the Tomatoes and potatoes with a cup of water and cook until almost done. Turn down the heat.
3. Add ground Kurma Masala, simmer gently until you get a good aroma. Tastes great next day. Add more water if needed but Kurma should be thickish.

Grind all these to a smooth paste: 1/4 cup grated fresh coconut, 3-4 red chillies or red chilli pd, 1 tbsp roasted chana or gram dal (chutney dal), 1/2" ginger, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/8 tsp turmeric, 1" cinnamon stick, few cilantro stems,6 Cashews, 4 cloves, 1 tbsp Poppy seeds(pre-soak in boiling water to make it easy to grind) and 2 Cardamoms(seeds).

Carrot-Moong dal-red Onion Kosumbari/Salad:
A typical but easy and delicious K'taka salad, Carrot Kosumbari, you might have seen in many blogs and in K'taka round ups too. A very refreshing lemony salad to eat with spicy dishes, here is mine.

1. Soak 1 tbsp Moong dal in hot water for 30 mins, then drain all the water, keep aside. Grate 2-3 Carrots to a bowl, add 1/4 red onion finely chopped,1/2 green chilly finely chopped, Moong dal,few chopped cilantro, squeeze 1/4 or more lemon juice, salt and fresh ground pepper.Cover and chill for 15 mins before serving.
You can season it with heated 1 tsp oil, mustard seeds and few curry leaves too.

"Feather light" Onion Pakodas!:D
This is my favorite way of making feather light onion Pakodas, crunchy and tasty. It's also very easy to make in a hurry too. Hope you try!:)

1. Take 1 or 2 large red onions or Vedelia onion or regular onions, slice 1/4" thick half rings,put them in a wide mouthed bowl.
2. Add 1/4 tsp of baking soda, salt, 2-3 green chillies finely chopped,finely chopped few curry leaves, few cilantro, 1/2" grated ginger, 1/2 tsp crushed Ajwain/Carom seeds, 1 tbsp crushed Coriander seeds to the bowl with onions, 2 tbsp hot oil, mix, cover and keep aside.
3. Heat enough oil to deep fry. Now, sprinkle about 3-4 tbsp Besan/ chickpea flour on the onion mix and gently stir just to coat the onions with Besan. Flour should just clinging to the onion, do not add any water at all.Adjust salt and chillies.
4. With a fork, pick a small lump of onion mix and drop in the oil with the help of a spoon. Fry until golden, Drain on the paper towel. Best eaten hot!!

Mysore special, Moong dal Payasa with ground coconut and poppy seeds:
Hesarubele-Kayi-Gasagase Payasa or Moong dal Payasa/porridge with sweet ground coconut is my ajji's recipe which is typical Mysoorean style dessert. I love the grainy soft dal with a great taste of coconut and poppy seeds paste. I add way less sugar than the my grandmother since I don't like any of my desserts too sweet. Please add as much sugar as per your taste!:)

1. Heat 1 tbsp ghee, fry 1/2 cup Moong dal until golden and add 1 cup of water and cook until dal is soft either in pressure cooker or microwave or in the same pan. Add 1 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup grated Jaggery or brown sugar, simmer.
2. Add ground coconut paste, simmer until thick. Heat 1/2 tsp ghee and fry 1 tbsp Raisins and Cashewnuts until golden and add to the Payasa. You could add more milk to the Payasa if it's too thick and Saffron if you need some color.
Grind these to smooth paste: 1/4 cup fresh Coconut,1 tbsp Poppy seeds(pre-soaked in hot water for 5 mins), 1/2 tsp Cardamom seeds, enough milk to grind to a smooth paste.

Latha's "melt in the mouth" Mysore Pak:

I have made Mysore Pak before with my own recipe but after looking at Latha's golden Mysore Pak, I had to try with her recipe. Although, they didn't come out as good as Latha's, they were very tasty and had melt in the mouth texture just like we get in the sweetmarts in K'taka! Here is her recipe!
Here is how I made it: Warm 1/2 cup Besan(Chickpea flour) in a non-stick pan with 1 tsp ghee. Heat 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup Sugar in the Microwave until sugar dissolves. Add to the warmed Besan, whisk briskly.Add 1/2 cup ghee and 1 tsp Cardamom pd into the pan, keep stirring on medium heat until you honeycomb like texture. Drop the mix into greased plate. Cut into shapes and let it cool.Enjoy!:)

One more look!:)

We lit our front porch with votive candles, a bit toned down than last year's, it was too cold outside!!:)

Kids and Arvind enjoying "noiseless" Deepavali firecrackers all covered up in winter jackets and shoes while mom took photos!!;D

And that's it for this year's Deepavali. Have fun this Friday with all the feast, family, friends and fireworks. Be safe and enjoy. See you next week with Bihari dishes!:))

October 31, 2007


Happy Halloween to all of you!:)
Wish I could say "beautiful Fall" too like last year but our lake has dried up 35%! We have been living here in this town for almost 9yrs, never seen weather like this before. It's been a real nightmare! It did rain for 3 days last week but it's just a drop in the Ocean! I don't see much Fall colors here either so far! But good thing is it's lot cooler now!:)
They found the last book of Nostradamus!!
Btw, I loved the episode about the last book of Nostradamus they showed on 'The History channel' last Sunday at 9pm. Did you watch that? Although I watch this with interest,I don't believe he wrote about our future! Interesting thing in his last book, which was recently found in an Italian library, was the exact date of Apocalypse or Doom's day for us all Earthlings, a belief which is supported by Mayan culture and by an American Psychic Edgar Casey as well!! Of course, we Hindus know that the end of KaliYuga is coming soon too, right?
Still I am a little surprised to learn the exact date and year (of how soon it will be upon us!) as they are revealed by these prophecies but I am not going to tell you here! Even though it's not believable, don't want to scare you too much now even on the Halloween day, do I?! I guess you can Google for it if you want to know. Boo!!!!

Anyway, have fun dressing up and trick or treating, eat lots of good candies and enjoy some of the Halloween jokes I found at this fun site. Oh! Don't forget to listen to the music on my sidebar!!! ;D

Wanna meet a witch?
It was said that to meet a witch you have to put your clothes on wrong side out and you have to walk backwards on Halloween night. Then at midnight you would see a witch!

What is a vampire's favorite sport?

I love this time of the year, just for all those marathon horror movies they show on the TV! Most "horror" movies are funny rather than scary to me, funniest being the "Exorcist" girl puking green stuff, all that "Ketchup" everywhere and another hilarious scene is when they walk around in the dark all bugeyed, very scared and always call out "Hello, anybody there?" whenever they hear the noise!! Hahaha!!
My favorite scary movies are "SAW, 1,2,3", LOVE them all and 4th one just released. They are really good!!! Latest movie I watched is "Turistas" which is not bad at all, plenty of almost realistic blood and gore! Best movie is "The Omen"!;D

What is a vampire's favorite mode of transportation?
A blood vessel!

What is a vampire's favorite holiday?

Have you seen my last year's Halloween post?! Have a very scary Halloween and have fun tonight!:)
(Photo from wikimedia commons)

Why did the vampire go to the orthodontist?
To improve his bite!:D

Are ya talkin' to me??
NO!! I did not carve this Pumpkin, too much work! I posted these funny scary vegetables last year too from a book I have.

This Pumpkin photo is from a book "PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD" by Joost Elffers, a beautiful book with various carved vegetables!

What type of dog do vampire's like the best?

What is a ghoul's favorite flavor?

Spooky Scary Devil Salad with bloody, wormy beverage!

This salad is to make. Just tear some iceberg lettuce, put a dollop of sour cream. For eyes,place two slice black olives. For eye brows and tongue, slice a red bell pepper to shapes and add them. Stick two spicy Doritos for horns and serve with salad dressing, grated cheese, red onion slices, chili etc. Salad tastes delicious!
For Bloody drink, pour in some V8 vegetables juice and drop in some candy worms!! You can drop in some whole black Olives to scare some more!!:)

Why do witches use brooms to fly on?
Because vacuum cleaners are too heavy!

How do witches keep their hair in place while flying?
With scare spray!

Witch's Hand reaching for you! RUN!!:D
A fun creation with cheese sticks and Almonds, kids enjoy eating these! Try it.

First take a small shallow bowl,fill it with flavored cream cheese to stick in the fingers. To make Witch's hand, buy 5 Mozzarella sticks, cut them shorter for pinky fingers and Thumb. Place a small blob of cream cheese on the top end of the fingers and stick slivered Almond slices. Stick them upright in the cream cheese bow, place some bugs and that's it!

Do zombies eat popcorn with their fingers?
No, they eat the fingers separately!

"Scream" Spiced Pumpkin Pie bars and cake:
Usually, I bake Pumpkin Pie for every Halloween. This year, I thought I would bake a good and tasty "no butter" Pumpkin bars or cake. These smell and taste excellent with added Pumpkin Pie spice which I love. Pumpkin Puree makes it very moist and scrumptious to eat. My kids loved it. Hope you try! This recipe is adapted from "Taste of Home" magazine.

You can either bake two round cakes and layer it with icing or bake one Rectangle and a round cake with different frosting or bake one big rectangle in a sheet pan, or cut the recipe into half and just bake one cake.frost and cut into bars to serve with whipped cream!
You need:
1 1/2 cups or 1 15oz can Pumpkin puree,
1 1/2 cups sugar,
1 cup oil,
4 Eggs, (or 8 tbsp of Apple sauce for vegetarians, doesn't rise well though!)
1 tsp Vanilla essence,
2 cups Plain flour,
2 tsp baking pd,
1 tsp baking soda,
1/2 tsp salt,
1 tsp Cinnamon pd,
1 tbsp Pumpkin pie spice, (if you don't have Pie spice, you can use these instead; 1 tsp ground sweet cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves)

1/2 finely chopped Walnuts or any nuts you like.

For frosting: 1 16oz can of cream cheese or Vanilla icing, Orange and black food color.

To bake the bars or cakes, preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the two pans or one 15" by 10" baking pan and keep them ready.

How to bake:
1. Mix all the dry ingredients except nuts first and keep aside.
2. In a bowl or KitchenAid, beat the Pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, Eggs, Vanilla.
3. Gradually add dry mix and beat well until well incorporated. Stir in nuts.
4. Pour into two pans or one big pan and bake for 20-30mins or until ot done.
5. Take out the cake carefully and cool on the rack.
Icing: Heat the icing can for 10 secs in the microwave and save some white icing for black frosting. Add few drops of Orange color to Vanilla and mix well. Add a black food color to the rest and mix.
When cake is cool, apply Orange on the whole cake and chill until firm. Then use black icing to pipe in whatever scary shapes you like!

What kind of streets do zombies like the best?
Dead ends!

A delicious slice for you with whipped cream:
Look at the texture and color of that bar inside! I am very pleased with this recipe. Glad I deviated from my usual Pumpkin Pie! Kids were fighting for the last piece too! Yup,Pumpkin bars are all gone already!:))
This yummy slice of cake is going to Hima's "What's your favorite Dessert?" event. Thanks for hosting Hima!:)

What did one ghost say to the other ghost?
"Do you believe in people?"

What does the papa ghost say to his family when driving?
Fasten your sheet belts!

Graveyard Cake with Headstones!
But I still have this cake left, had to hide it from the husband and kids for the next day! This cake batter is the same as above, just baked 1/3 of the recipe in a round pan and frosted with Chocolate icing for my kids who love chocolate! Vanilla-Orange is the one for me!:)

What do you get when you cross a vampire and a snowman?

Why don't skeletons ever go out on the town?
Because they don't have any body to go out with!!

Chocolate Cupcakes with brain frosting anyone?
Recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes is adapted from Family Fun! Idea for brain frosting came from various Google search images, the idea for blood is all mine!:p

Preheat the oven to 350F and line your muffin pan with 12 cupcake foil or paper liners.
For Chocolate Cupcakes, you need:
1/2 cup butter, softened,3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 2tsp vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2tsp baking powder,1/4 tsp salt,1/2 cup Chocolate chips, and 2/3 cup milk.
To bake:
1. Sift or mix all the dry ingredients well in a bowl, keep aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar first, add eggs,one at a time, mix well. Add Vanilla and half the milk.
3. Add in flour mix, mix. Then rest of the milk, chocolate chips and mix well. Add to 12 cupcake paper cups and bake for 18-20 mins or until they are baked. Cool and frost.
For brain icing:
Mix 1 cup vanilla Cream icing with two drops of red and a drop of green food coloring to get the gray brain color.Mix well, pipe in swirls on the cupcakes.
For blood, Mix 2 drops red food color and 1 tbsp water and with a spoon,drizzle the blood on the brain and peel the paper, open your mouth wide and gobble up!:D

What's a vampire's favorite fast food?
A guy with very high blood pressure!

Go ahead and grab one. I dare ya!!:D
I was supposed to use round tip for icing the brain. I couldn't find it as usual in my overloaded pantry, so I used a Zigzag icing tip, didn't look exactly like brain! Oh well.. so what if my brain is not perfect, tasted delicious to eat!:D

Why did the Vampire subscribe to the Wall Street Journal?
He heard it had great circulation!!

Some of you haven't seen these Spooky Eggspressions I posted at Aroma!:))

Just need few hard boiled Eggs, Ketchup and Olives to create these! Thank you all who voted for me on the last Click event! I appreciate it!!:)

Here is my son, a Ninja warrior this time!:D
My daughter thinks she is "too old" to go out for candies, so she will not be going for trick or treating anymore! Hurray for me, One less costume to buy!:D

That's it for this Halloween, I know this year's post is creepier than the last year! YESSS!! Have fun Trick or Treating tonight with your kids and be safe!:))