March 28, 2007


Spring is here and so is my Allergy season!!;D A beautiful tree in my front yard.Aren't we all glad Winter is over at last?!

JFI, Tomatoes!!

Okay,Here I am with loads of Tomatoes! Phew! Last week was some week I tell ya, thought it would never end.So much work and so busy,it was hard to catch my breath!
Beautiful Tomatoes are RP from "my workshop" blog's choice for JFI for April.What a glamorous vegetable/fruit for this event,loved creating these recipes. Thank you RP for choosing Tomato and for hosting JFI for this month!:)

Before I start with my "Hanumanji ke Dhum"(Hanuman's tail) post as one of my reader calls it, I would like to share some 'Saturday Night Live' moments which kept me laughing last week with all of you!

1. Last week's letter for Nupur's A to Z cooking event was "I", for which I steamed some Idlies.Bee, a witty girl that she is, left a comment that "nice. very nice. I'm waiting for someone to make "ijjat papad" for 'I',that will be fun."!!;D I replied "Bee,I would like to keep my Ijjat and my Lijjat papads to myself,thank you very much!!" :P
2. Ayesha,another reader left a comment "Asha,Tried ur Kesar Murg .. It was awesome .. used a cup of saffron milk instead of coconut milk ....U should have also given the risks of making this dish,(I thought "UH OH!!") like burning ur nose while trying to inhale the irresistible smell :-) .... I literally burnt my nose while smelling it and i couldnt control the temptation to smell....It smelled so wonderful,I burned my nose trying to smell the dish while it's cooking!" :D For days,I imagined her eating Kesari Murgh with a red nose and made me laugh every time!!:D
3. I made Migas or Sundance Eggs for WBB "Eggs" event and Kate said "looks like one hell of a breakfast!very filling and yet tasty and easy to make.Have to make this for my hubby..."whats for breakfast honey... sundance eggs luv !" and I thought that was a hoot!;D
Thanks to all three of you for making me laugh on a truly hectic 10 days and this is why I love blogging so much.All your comments,not just these three, make me feel that blogging is worthwhile and I want ALL of you know that I truly appreciate you.There is no better reward than to enjoy what we do with a big open heart without malice!

That reminds me to tell you that I have decided NOT to open my blogroll and comment on weekends because I find myself little too much obsessed with it all!;D So if you don't see me in your blogs on Sat and Sunday,don't worry,I will catch up with you all on Monday!!Now that's said,let me start with...

Plum Tomatoes, my favorite kind among all of the Tomatoes!

The tomato is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family, native to Central, South, and southern North America from Mexico to Peru.It is thought that the Pueblo people believed those who witnessed the ingestion of tomato seeds (got it?) were blessed with powers of divination!They are fruits rather vegetables and are high in Vitamin C and A,are said to prevent Cancer if consumed regularly.More a Wikipedia.

What's on Menu this week? Tomatoes, of course!!
Tomato Chicken,
Tomato Bhaat,
Tomato Salad,
Focaccia al Rosemarino con Olive e Pomodoro!(Olive and Sun-dried Tomatoes Focaccia with Rosemary)

Here is my official entry to JFI; Tomato Chicken:

You Need:
3 chicken breasts and 2 thighs cut up to bite sized pieces,1 cup tomato sauce,2 large plum tomatoes sliced,2 large onions,sliced into half rings,3 green chillies sliced in halves,few fresh curry leaves,1 small bunch of coriander leaves ,turmeric , 1.2 tsp sugar and salt to taste.
To grind: 1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp peppercorns,2" cinnamon (Dalchini),1/2 tsp Cardamom seeds, 4 cloves, 1" ginger,3 garlic.
For seasoning: 2 tbsp cup oil, 1 bay leaf.
How to:
1. Heat oil in a pressure pan,add Bay leaf,onion and green chillies,saute until reddish on the edges.Add in all the ground paste,fry for 2 mins.
2. Add chicken,fry for 5mins until they are white,add Tomato sauce,1 cup water,salt,cilantro and 1/2 tsp sugar.Mix and pressure cook on low heat for 5 mins and turn it off.
3. Open the lid,add 2 sliced Tomatoes and simmer until you see the oil on the surface,garnish with few chopped coriander,1 tbsp butter and serve hot with white rice.
4. Your fabulous tasting Tomato Chicken is ready to devour.Make the sauce thick to serve with Parathas and thin to serve with rice.

Another peek:

My yummy Ugadi special; Tomato Bhaat, Bengaluru style!:D

You Need:
2 cups rice cooked and cooled, 1 large onion sliced to half rings,6-8 Plum tomatoes,1/4 tsp turmeric, a handful of fresh coriander, a few cashew nuts, salt to taste, 1 tbsp coriander seed powder, 1 tsp cumin seeds powder.
Grind to Paste: 3 garlic cloves,1" inch ginger, 3 red chillies, 1/2 onion lightly roasted ,cilantro,4 cloves, 1/2 tsp cardamoms, 1" cinnamon stick.
Seasoning:2 tbsp ghee,1 tsp Cumin seeds, 2 bay leaves,few Cashews,raisins,2 green chillies.
How to make it:
1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in big pan enough to hold 2 cups cooked rice,fry the sliced onions with a pinch of salt until crisp and reddish,keep it aside.Cook rice seperately,spread it on a wide plate to cool.
2. Add butter to the pan,put in all the seasoning ingredients,saute for a min.Add Tomatoes,coriander pd and cumin pd,cook until little soft.
3. Add ground masala and cook until thick and you see the oil on top.Add salt and cilantro,adjust the spices and turn the heat down.
4. Add the cooled rice,mix well and taste it to check the salt.Add crisp fried Onion,cilantro, mix well.Serve with a Salad and some crisps or Vadas.

Seasoned Cherry Tomatoes-Yogurt Salad/Raita:

Here is a wonderful, refreshing Summer salad I made, with my home grown Cherry Tomatoes.It's very typical Kannadiga raita/pachadi which can be eaten with plain rice too.It is an easy eye pleasing salad which is also healthy and delicious to eat.Take advantage of summer sun and put those beautiful cherry tomatoes to work! Goes very well with any spicy dish you have or as a light lunch on it's own.Tastes delicious if kept in the fridge for a day and goes well with just plain rice on a hot summer day.

You Need:
2 Cups of sliced Cherry Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt
1/4 Cup Red Onion chopped
Salt and Pepper
1/2 tsp garlic Powder

Season: ( Optional)
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
Curry Leaves
1 Fresh Green chilly, chopped or chilly flakes

How To:
1. Mix all the above and serve chilled. Add salt just before serving.
2. To make it even more tastier, you could season it. Heat oil, add mustard seeds,curry leaves,1 chopped green chilly.Add to the salad.
3. Keep it refrigerated until needed.

Focaccia al Rosemarino con Olive e Pomodoro!
Focaccia is a flat, rustic and chewy Italian herb bread served with cold cuts as a Sandwich.Also makes a great appetizer on it's own as well!

Here is my Bread Machine version of Focaccia:

1 1/2 pound dough, you need:
1 cup warm water,3 cups Bread flour,1 tsp sugar,1 tsp salt,1 1/2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil,1 tsp dried Rosemary,1 1/2 tsp Red Star active yeast,3 pieces of Sun-dried Tomatoes chopped finely.
Topping: 12 Black Olives sliced, 1tsp grainy Kosher salt,6 pieces Sun-dried Tomatoes chopped,3 tbsp olive oil to brush, 1 clove garlic sliced, 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese(optional),2 tbsp chopped fresh Rosemary.(Saute 1 red onion sliced in to rings with 1 garlic and little salt for smalled round version)

How I baked Focaccia:
Add all the ingredients except toppings in the bread machine on dough cycle and wait for the beep!! Take the dough out,spread on a cookie sheet brushed with some Olive oil,with your hands gently stretch and press dough to fit evenly or half way in the pan about 1" thickness.Cover and let it rise in the warm oven 30-40 minutes until doubled.
Preheat oven to 400F. With two fingers, poke holes all over the dough.Brush with olive oil and sprinkle Kosher salt, and bake for 10 mins,slide the pan out and quickly add the other toppings on top,press gently and bake again for 10-15 more mins or until reddish.Do the same for round ones,top with sauteed onion rings and garlic.Remove and cool on a wire rack.Cut into squares and serve warm or slice horizontally,add lunch meat and cheese for a yummy Sandwich!Place it in a Zip lock bag to keep it fresh at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.Enjoy :)

Focaccia squares made with Rosemary,Black Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes:

Bread Machine method and ingredients differ slightly than for hand made Focaccia dough. For those who don't have Bread Machine, here is a wonderful site by Anna Maria Volpi with step by step photos and even more beautiful Focaccia than mine.I didn't use that recipe but I hope you really try to make some either way and enjoy the delicious Focaccia.

Grazie ed il arrivederci!!
(Yeah, googled it for "Thank you and bye". Hope it's right orelse I will get smacked on the head by Italians!;P)

If you have missed these at Aroma..

French Onion soup

Masoor-Dill soup with Dill cream

Corn Chowder with Chipotle flavor

Beet and Avocado Rotis with Chutney

Some pics of Spring flowers from my yard:


March 21, 2007


Phew!! Last Saturday was hectic, lot of noise and screaming 6 Tweens and two teens loaded with too much sugar and cheese, just glad that's over for this year!!;D
Seriously, we did have a great time. Kids enjoyed the party very much. Daughter got a Laptop and son got a Electric Guitar from us. Well..back to business now!! :)

What's cooking this week?!
I baked yummy light Savory Dill muffins for Saturday breakfast to make the day special for kids and made some Chana dal-Dill Vadas/fritters, a Bhath/rice dish (will post next week) and a delicious Pineapple Phirni for Ugadi (Hindu New Year) on Monday.
My daughter's friend brought us a really delicious dessert made of milk, Jackfruit, Lychees and Jell-O pieces etc, to the party which she said is popular a Vietnamese dessert but didn't remember the name of that dessert in Vietnamese! :D

Light Cheese-Dill Muffins:

You Need:

2 cups plain flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 3 tbsps fresh chopped dill, 3 tsps baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 large egg whites (lightly beaten), 1 cup skim milk, 3 tbsp melted butter, 3/4 non-fat cottage cheese.

How To make them:

Preheat the oven to 400F.Lightly grease 12 regular sized muffin cups, or coat with no-stick spray.In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, dill, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl,mix the egg whites, milk, butter, and cottage cheese.Stir the liquid ingredients into dry ingredients just until blended.Do not over mix,it releases the gluten and make Muffins dense.

Spoon the batter into 12 regular sized muffin cups.Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned.Cool for a minute, and remove the muffins on a cooling rack.To heat,place them in the 350F oven for 5 mins to get them fresh again.

A sneak peek inside:

They taste delicious as they are or with some savory Cream Cheese. You cannot keep these muffins for more than two days because of the Cottage cheese. Enjoy!:))
(Recipe adapted fro Beatrice Ojakangas's "Light Muffins" book)

Ugadi goodies:

Chana dal-Dill Vadas:

You Need:

1 cup dry Chana dal, soak it overnight in water and drain next morning to grind.
Chop Green chillies, few red chili flakes, 1" ginger grated, few Cilantro, few curry leaves, 1/2 onion minced, enough salt,(coarsely powdered 2 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds,1/2 tsp Ajwain, 1/2 tsp Fennel seeds) 4-6 tbsp chopped fresh Dill leaves . Save 1 tbsp of whole Chana dal and keep it aside.

How to make Them:

Grind Chana dal to a coarse paste without water if you can to a thick paste and take it out into a bowl. Add all the other prepared chopped ingredients including saved whole chana dal and spices, mix all gently. Adjust the salt and make small balls or as big as you want and flatten slightly. Heat oil in a deep pan until medium hot or at 375F.

When the oil is hot, take a ball on your palm and flatten slightly or as thin as you want and gently slide in to hot oil carefully.You can oil sprayed foil to make these. Fry both sides until reddish and crisp, drain them on a paper towel.You can serve these crispy Vadas as they are with Coffee or Tea or with some coconut chutney or spicy dal as dip. That's it..enjoy..

One more look!

Pineapple Phirni:

How make Phirni:
1. Heat 2 cups 2% milk mixed with 2 tbsp Rice flour.
2. Add 2-3 drops of Yellow food color and 1/4 cup(or to your taste) sugar.
3. Add 1/2 tsp Cardamom powder or Pineapple Essence if you have it.
4. When the milk starts thickening,sugar has melted,take it out of the heat.
5. Add 1/2 cup drained Pineapple chunks(canned is better) and stir gently and simmer until you get the right consistency for Phirni.
6. Serve chilled or at room temp.It's delicious! Make sure Pineapple is drained well of all liquid to prevent milk from curdling.

Here is the mysterious but absolutely delicious Vietnamese dessert. My daughter's friend brought it for the party for us:

Some kids' birthday party photos from last Saturday! :)
Daughter's cake with 16 candles:

Son's 12th birthday cake:

Daughter's most wanted birthday gift:

Son's gift, which made him very happy!
Our dog relaxing on the bed!:)

In addition to the excitement of turning 16, my daughter got another surprise package in the mail on Monday which made her very happy. She has been chosen as one of the students for High school National honor society last month!:)

A Medal for Academic achievement and a membership for a "National Honors Society of High School Scholars"

A patch for the same.(She is in Early College program right now ie she graduates one year early from HS and sent by the county to college, with free tuition for the first year of college)

This cord (I didn't understand what or how is this used for when I saw it first since I went school in India) supposedly goes around your neck with your HS graduation gown when you graduate and supposed to be very honorable for a high school student to have. These are all a fitting reward for her hard work and dedication. We, as parents are very proud of her!:)

Have a great weekend and I will you see next week with lots of what else but Tomatoes!:))

March 14, 2007


Hello everybody,YUP!! New template again!After receiving many mails from readers that they can't leave comments or get into this blog,I decided to change the template.I see many of you can access this blog now which makes me very happy.If you still have trouble commenting,read Kalyn's comments in my sidebar where she advised me what to do.Hope it helps you too!

One more thing buddies,please read the whole recipe and understand it before you start cooking any of my dishes.If you have any doubts at all,you are welcome to ask me about anything before you mess it up! ;D

Well..I am thrilled to bits today to give you a my ultimate(fruit of my labor!) Naan recipe for which I finally hit a perfect balance after many tries and trials.I was sooo happy with these Naans, I even postponed this week's planned post to next week so I can bring you this Naan ASAP. After going through innumerable cookbooks and hours of internet surfing,after many unsatisfactory results than Naans,I finally ended up with this recipe adding,eliminating and adjusting the amounts of the usual ingredients.I just couldn't stop smiling when I tasted this delight.I have given you step by step photos to make it easy is for you.I know I am hyperventilating now!!:P

A perfect Garlic Naan:

You Need:
A bread Machine with dough cycle or grease your elbows and get ready to knead!!:)
Take 1 Pack (1/4oz)Active dry Yeast,1 cup warm (105F-115F)water,2 tsp Sugar,2 tsp salt,3 tbsp oil,3 tbsp Yogurt,1 egg,1 tsp dry Parsley and 3 3/4 cups Bread flour.
To brush on top:Mix 3 tbsp Melted butter,3 minced Garlic or 1 tsp Garlic pd,pinch of salt and 1 tsp minced cilantro.

In Bread Machine;
add the ingredients as in the above order given,liquid first and then solids.Put it on the dough cycle and wait until it beeps.Do not add garlic to the dough now which kills the yeast if added in excess with yeast!
By hand; mix all the ingredients and knead until you get a dough and set aside to rise covered until double.Punch down and let it rise again.

Now preheat the oven; to the maximum 550F or as high as you can go with Pizza stone inside.Melt butter to brush on top with a brush and heat a grill or cooling rack on stove top medium high to get that burnt look on the Naan.
Take the dough,cut into four or eight pieces.I made four huge ones like Afghani bread called "Snowshoe"(shapes like ovals) naans!Press gently and stretch it to make a tear shaped Naans.

Place one Naan on a foil to make it easy to slide in the oven and put in the oven quickly and bake for about 3 minutes.When you see the Naan puff up and slightly reddish on top,take it out with a pizza peeler or leave it in the oven for 5 mins to let the top get brown and skip the next step of browning the top manually.

Invert/flip the top of the Naan with the bottom up on the heated grill/rack to get that reddish look on top evenly, moving it over the heat Place it on another big cooling rack,brush the top of the Naan immediately with melted garlic butter generously and let it cool.

Or if you don't want to do this and did let the Naan cook in the oven for 5 mins until brown on top,brush with garlic butter immediately after taking it out of the oven.I like soft Naan, so I do bake for 3-4 mins,grill the top and brush with butter.It's up to you to choose either way.

Serve these with any creamy rich veg or non-veg gravy dish and have a great meal.These serve for 6 people as they are thick and soft to mop up the gravy.

That's it!! Look at those beautiful Naans!! I ate quarter of one Naan even before it's even cooled and it's hiding behind or under the three!:D

Gola Kurma Masala:
I also made Gola Kurma masala to go with Naan,which I used to make in B'lore as a young bride.I bought my first pressure cooker 2 week's after I got married and with it came a recipe book which is completely yellowed now after 20yrs!!:D
One of the recipes in this book is "Gola Kurma Masala"(real title "Vegetarian Mutton Kurma!" because the gravy with Golas look like meat chops!!),a wonderful recipe which I had almost forgotten and haven't made in a long time. When I saw how beautiful these Naans looked,I thought of this vegetarian dish,took a while to find the book,wiped the dust off, and cooked!

Gola Kurma Masala:

"Gol/Gola" means round or circle in Hindi.In this case,a steamed or boiled like pasta,then fried crispy flour balls added to and simmered until soft in a delicious vegetarian Kurma gravy!Once I made this dish and gave a bowl to my Coorgi vegetarian neighbor in B'lore,she almost had heart attack because she thought I brought her a non-veg dish.She loved it after I explained to her how I made those Golas!!:D

How to make it:

Grind all these first to a smooth paste:
2-3 tomatoes or 1 cup Tomato sauce,2 green chilies,1 tsp chilli pd,2 big cloves of garlic,1" piece ginger,few curry leaves,2 tsp of poppy seeds,1 tsp fennel seeds,1 1/2 tbsp dry coriander seeds,1" cinnamon,1/2 tsp cardamom pd,3 tbsp grated coconut,3 cloves,1 tsp sugar,salt.
Golas: Make them as explained below.If you think they are too many of Golas for this dish,you can add half and freeze the rest for next time.Don't add Golas more than a cup. This green peas Kurma is excellent tasting even without the Golas. Enjoy.

Mix 1/2 cup plain flour,2 tbsp Besan/Gram folur,3 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds,1/8 tsp of soda,1 tsp garlic pd, and 2 tsp ghee or butter,knead to soft dough.Roll them like rope about 1/2" thick,(looks big in the photo bcos of the Zoom)cover and let it rest for 1/2 an hr.

Then cut them about 1" pieces and steam them without water covered in pressure cooker or boil in lot of water with little salt until they float on top.When done,separate them on plate and cool.Shallow fry or deep fry,when cooled and keep them aside.Soak and cook 1 cup dry Green Peas until soft until soft but do not overcook.

Grate or process 1 large Onion.Heat 1 tbsp each butter and oil,fry this until soft and slightly reddish.Add ground Masala and fry until the oil shows on top.Then add fried Golas and peas,simmer gently until Golas are soft.Garnish with Cilantro and serve.

A vegetarian plate for you!:))

Sailaja's (of "Sailu's Kitchen/Food")
most delicious Coconut Chicken curry:
I love all her authentic Andhra recipes so much that I don't know where to start and where to end to try them all! I decided to try this since my kids love non-veg with Naan.It reminded me of a Andhra restaurant(Amaravati?)dish at Brigade road in B'lore we used to visit eons ago!!Thank you for sharing such a great recipe Sailu!:)
Vegetarians: Don't miss out on this great tasting gravy because it's non-veg,You can skip the meat and add Cauliflower or Koftas instead.Tastes divine,believe me.

Sailaja's Coconut Chicken Curry:

I followed the recipe as it is mostly except added boneless chicken,1 tsp red Kashmiri chilli pd instead of green chillies because my kids somehow think that if any gravy doesn't look red like Spaghetti sauce,it's not edible! Little morons!!;P
Also added some yogurt to marinate and added 1/2 cup tomato sauce to make reddish !! Arvind said "she is right,green chillies taste better". Ah..!!!I can't please everybody people,next time I will make it with green chillies!;D

You Need:
2 lbs chicken breast and thighs pieces,1 onion chopped,1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste,1 tbsp coriander pd,2-3 green chillies slit,1 1/2 tsp garam masala pwd or2″ dalchini, 2 green cardamom, 6 cloves finely ground,cilantro,salt.
2 tbsp oil and butter.
Grind:1 large onion roasted,3-4 green chillies,1/2 cup fresh grated coconut or 1 can coconut milk,colantro,10-12 mint leaves,10-12 cashew nuts,soaked in 2-3 tbsps milk.

How to make it:
1. Marinate the chicken in 1/4 cup Yogurt,coriander pd,turmeric,ginger garlic paste,2 slit green chillies and few mint leaves for 10-15 mts. Make a paste of fried onion,green chillies,coconut,cilantro,mint leaves and cashew nuts. Keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a pressure pan, add the green chillies and chopped onions and saute till it softens. Add the marinated chicken and cook on high heat for 4-5 mts, combining the ingredients once in a while.(Add tomato sauce now if you are using it)
3. Reduce the heat,add the ground paste and salt and mix well.Let it cook for 8-10 mts, uncovered. Cook till oil separates.Add water if necessary.
4. Finally add the garam masala pd or powdered masala,pressure cook the chicken for 3-4 mts.Turn off heat and garnish with fresh cilantro.It's done!
5. Serve with rice,Naan or Parathas.

Naans with delicious Chicken Curry.Enjoy!:))

Both my kids have their 12th(son)and 16th(daughter) birthdays this week on the 14th and 16th of March respectively but the party will be on the 17th Sat.Imagine two very busy parents (over tired mom included!) and two happy kids with loads(9 kids total!) of happy and stuffed up to the nose with food friends!!;D This year I am not baking or cooking but buying everything for the party,thank God for that. You too have a great weekend guys!

Here are some "Aroma" dishes if you would like to try:

Gajar(Carrot)Masala Roti with Garlic chutney

Pineapple-Coconut mini Bundt cakes

Latha's Maddur Vadas

Cornmeal-Methi vadas