February 28, 2008


Aloo-Gajar Rezala and Rajgaro-Aloo Pooris are my two contributions to Supriya from "Monsoon Spice" blog's event. As a part of celebrating the "International Year of Potato" in 2008, she is hosting a "Ode to Potato" event this month.Thanks for hosting Sia!:)
The potato originated in the area of Peru and Bolivia, now there are thousands of varieties grown all over the World. In recent years, China has become the world's largest potato producer, followed by India.The potato is also popularly associated with Idaho in US. Potatoes are rich in Vitamin C, Potassium and also high in Carbohydrates, not exactly a "diet" food. Regular potatoes turned green are said to be toxic, so we are better off avoiding those! (Info from WIKI)

Potato-Carrot-Mushroom Rezala with Rajgaro-Potato Poori:
Rezala is a "shahi" (royal) dish originated in Bengal in India and in Bangladesh as well. Rezala is usually made with Chicken, Mutton and is always a non-veg dish. Well....who says you "always" have to follow the rules, right? :D

I added Potatoes, chunky sweet Carrots and whole Button Mushrooms to the same Rezala gravy as in the recipe from one of the cookbook I have! It tastes fabulous and smells like royal dish with the addition of Rose water or can use Kewra(Camphor) water as well. A wonderful Sunday lunch for us served with Rajgaro pooris, cucumber slices,red onion rings and tomato slices with a slice of Lemon on the side which I forgot to add in the photo! :)

Aloo-Gajar Rezala:

To make Rezala, you need:
2 large Yukon Gold or any firm waxy Potatoes, peeled, cooked and cut into large chunks, 2 sweet Carrots, cut into large rounds, Microwave with little water until halfway cooked, drain, about 10-15 small round Mushrooms, cook a little in the MW, drain the water. Mix these 3 and keep aside.
Season with:
2 tbsp Butter ad 1 tbsp oil,
2 Bay leaves.
Grind these to paste:
1 large onion, finely minced or coarsely ground separately,
2 large Garlic and 1" Ginger, ground to paste together.
Powder these:
1 black Cardamom (badi elachi) or 2 green Cardamoms, use only the seeds,
1 small piece of Mace,
1 tsp roasted Cumin seeds powder,
1 tsp roasted Coriander seeds powder,
3 cloves,
1" Cinnamon, (Dalchini),
pinch of Saffron strands,
1 tsp mild Kashmiri or any bright red chilli powder.
For fragrant sauce:
4 tbsp Yogurt or Sour Cream
1 tsp Paprika for color,
1/2 to 1 cup water,
1-2 tsp Sugar.
1/2 tsp Rose water or Kewra (Camphor) water.
2 tbsp Walnuts or Almonds, ground separately to a smooth paste with 2-3 tbsp milk or cream.

How to:
1. Heat butter and oil in a deep wide dish, add bay leaves. Pour in ground or minced onion, 1/2 tsp salt, fry for 3 mins, just until it becomes truculent but not brown.
2. Add ground ginger and garlic paste, stir fry for 2 mins, until raw smell of ginger disappears.
3. Now, add 1 tbsp cold water to cool the sauce, add in sour cream or yogurt 1 tbsp at time, stir until sauce thickens and oil shows on top. Add paprika, chilli pd, mix.
4. Add the veggies, 1/2 cup or more water, let it simmer. Add Powdered masala, Rose or Kewra water, enough salt, sugar, let it simmer gently.
5. when you get delcious aroma and you can see the sauce thicken slightly, turn down the heat.
6. Add Walnut or Almond paste, mix well with sauce. Simmer for 5 mins. Make sure veggies are cooked and then take off the heat. Garnishing with Cilantro is optional.
Tastes best the next day and that beautiful color comes mainly from the Paprika. Balance the sweet, sour and heat by adjusting the spices. Serve with Parathas, Pulao, Baturas or Pooris. I added Rose water. At first, dish does smell like Rose or flowery but after sometime it disappears as you cook and you are left with a very subtle flavor and aroma. That's what makes this dish wonderfully "shahi"! :)

Rajgaro-Aloo Pooris:
When I made Thalipeeth at Aroma with Rajgaro/Rajgiri flour, Smita told me that Rajgaro flour is made of Amaranth grains. Rajgaro flour is easily available in Indian stores or here at Amazon. Vimmi suggested that I could also make Pooris with this flour and mashed aloo as her mom makes them in India. So here is how I made these delicious Rajgaro pooris. I added some plain flour too so it's easy for me roll them out. They tastes wonderful and soft. My thanks to Vimmi and Smita!:)

To make these you need:
1. Mix and knead 1 cup Rajgaro flour, 1 cooked and mashed Potato or 1/2 cup Potato flakes softened with hot water, 1/4 cup plain flour and 1 tsp salt to a firm dough. Cover and rest for 15 mins.
2. Heat oil to deep fry the Pooris. Make small golf ball sized rounds out of the dough, roll out to 4" circles and deep fry until they are puffed and golden both sides. Drain on paper towels.
3. Serve with Aloo-Gajar Rezala. These pooris are very soft and do not absorb much oil and tastes wonderful. Hope you try.
Note: If you don't have Rajgaro flour, skip it and use whole wheat flour to replace.

Here are some more spuddy posts:
Potatoes Galore!
Aloo Batura
Potato-Sour Cream soup

Dessert anyone? :)

I am sending Sweet Potato Foster dessert served with Chocolate Crepe and Vanilla Ice Cream as my second entry to Dhivya K from "Culinary Bazaar" blog. My first entry I sent to her was Rosti for the "Potato Feast" event. Enjoy this too DK!:)

Sweet potato Foster with Vanilla Ice cream piled up on Chocolate crêpe:

Banana Foster is a typical New Orleans and Caribbean dessert, in which Rum is added and set on fire! (Flambe`) I used Sweet potato instead of Bananas and didn't really Flambe` to save my eyebrows!:D
This dessert is always served hot on cold Vanilla Ice cream but I made a few Chocolate crêpes to serve on, which are thin French pancakes. You can see my well used French crêpe pan in the collage. I bought this in World Market and pan is made in France, specially used to make these crêpes!:)

To make sweet Potato Foster:

You need: 2 tbsp Butter, 1/4 cup Brown sugar, 2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed to 1" piece, 2 tbsp Rum, 1 tsp sweet Cinnamon pd or Vanilla essence.
Scoops of Vanilla Ice Creme and few Chocolate crêpes to serve on.
How to: 1. Heat butter in a non-stick pan. Add sugar, sweet potatoes and stir until it cooked but mashed.
2. Add Rum, let it cook for a minute and add essence or cinnamon pd, mix and keep aside.
To make crêpes: 1. Whisk 1/2 cup plain flour, 1 egg (optional), 2 tbsp good quality Cocoa pd, 2 tbsp powdered sugar, 2 tsp melted butter, enough milk to make a thinnish batter, 1/2 tsp Vanilla essence well and let it rest for 5 mins.
2. Heat the crêpe pan or any non-stick pan, spray no-stick oil. Pour a ladle full of batter in the middle, pick up pan and swirl to spread the batter to circle quickly, cook and flip.
3. When both sides are cooked, fold into triangles, place them on a plate.
To assemble the dessert:
1. Place a Chocolate crêpe on a serving plate, top with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream and top that with warm or hot sweet Potato Foster.
2. Dust with Cocoa powder and serve immediately! YUM!


Awards time again!!:)

Recently, I was bestowed with "Excellent blog" and "Nice matters" (you can see the other logos on my side bar) awards by Pravs, Daagh, Kribha, Cham, Bharathy, Pragyan, Sig, Maya, Mona, Dhivya K, Dhivya Vikram,Purnima and Meera. Gattina gave me the "friends for forever" ball last week as well. Hope I didn't forget anybody else who awarded me, remind me if I did. Thank you so much girls, I appreciate it. Being a fellow blogger along with you all is a privilege to me, thanks again!:)

I know most of the bloggers I know have these awards already and it's very very hard for me to choose a few since you all have excellent blogs! I would like to pass the "Excellent Blog" award to sra, Indosungod, Sig, Gattina and shn. Although these girls and their excellent blogs don't need my award to be shining stars on their own, I appreciate your loyal support to me and my blogs as well! Thanks buddies, hugs to you. Be proud and stay proud!:))

Book I read:

"Video" by Meera Nair.
It's her debut book with ten short stories, a beautifully written, very humorous err...hilarious stories. First story is too funny to review it here, you need to read the book. (Okay, a sneak peek: Naseer visits his cousin Khaleel and watches a "forbidden movie accidentally" and Rashida, his wife is very angry at his request and all that entails which involves neighborhood women too eventually! ;P)
Hope you read it, does have pretty good stories.

I didn't have time to watch any movies this week though, been Spring cleaning the house a bit early! My allergy season is almost here too!! AHH! :D

Srivalli's Potato Kurma:
Even my kids loved this yummy vegetarian side dish! They do love potatoes but not the spicy gravy usually, but they enjoyed this Kurma. It tasted even better the next day with Parathas, has a great flavor of fennel seeds. Thanks for the recipe Sri!:))

Have a great weekend folks!:)

February 21, 2008


Beautiful New Orleans:
Beautiful city of Mardi Gras, French quarter, Cajun and Creole food, river front, Audubon,French market, Horse carriages, Cafe Du Monde's Chicory coffee (you can buy this coffee online here) and Beignets, music and all that Jazz!! We love New Orleans, spent a week vacationing there in 2003. Everything was magical as if we weren't in USA at all! After Katrina, we visited that city again in 2006 and we were heart broken to see the devastation. Although downtown New Orleans is unaffected, certain neighborhoods are completely wiped out and we could see cars piled up and rusting in the car parks. My heart goes out to all the lovely New Orleans residents who suffered a great loss and still suffering! Take a photo tour here.

St. Louis Cathedral/Jackson Square and a typical French style building right opposite the famous Cafe Du Monde, photo taken in 2006:

New Orleans

Muffuletta sandwiches are said to be originated at Central Grocery in New Orleans by a Sicilian immigrant in 1906. They are very popular sandwiches in New Orleans along with Roast Beef "Po' boys"(poor man's sandwiches). Muffuletta is made of round loaf of crusty bread similar to Focaccia, split and filled with layers of sliced cheeses and meat like Salami etc. and stuffed with delcious marinated Olive salad. Muffulettas in New Orleans are so huge, sometimes as high as 3" with fillings dripping with olive salad, that it easily feeds 4 people generously, just need a few beverages to complete the meal!:D
Vegetarians can skip the meat and add sliced Zucchinis, Cucumber,Tomatoes etc. Hope you try this delicious sandwich!:)

Basic Whole Wheat Bread:

The bread recipe is from the book "Ultimate Bread" by Treuille and Ferringno. This is a very basic white bread recipe, easy to bake even for beginners. The original name for this bread is "Pain Ordinaire" which is "Ordinary Bread" in French. You can add wheat flour, Rye or Barley flour along with white flour and mix 1/4 cup buttermilk with 1/4 cup of the water to make it more flavorful. I made this simple and round bread just to make Muffuletta.
You need:
2 tsp Yeast,
1/2 cups water,
1 tsp sugar,
3 1/2 cups Wheat bread flour,(or plain flour)
1 1/2 tsp salt.
To bake the bread:
1. Sprinkle yeast to 1/2 cup of warm (115F) water, and sugar, set aside for 5 mins. Sift flour and salt together in a big bowl or stand up mixer.
2. Mix in yeast mix to flour, mix well or use paddle hook on the KitchenAid.
3. Add as much water as you need and let it all come together into firm, moist dough.Knead until smooth and elastic with the dough hook or by hand.
4. Cover the bowl and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 to 2 hrs.Punch down and let it rest for 10mins.
5. Put the whole dough on a baking sheet, pat gently to a 10" circle and cover again and let it rise for 1/2 an hour.
6. Bake in the preheated oven at 400F for about 35-45mins, depending on your oven. It sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a rack. Bread tastes wonderful to make any kind of sandwiches. You can also shape this bread dough into French Bread/Baguettes and bake as well, great to make Garlic bread!

New Orleans Muffuletta with Olive salad:

To make Olive salad my style, you need:

Mix 1/4 cup Olive oil, 1/4 cup green olives stuffed with pimento,chopped, 1/4 cup Black olives,pitted and chopped,1 tbsp red Wine Vinegar,1/4 cup roasted red peppers, 1 tbsp Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsp chilli flakes, 1/4 cup chopped bottled Garden vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, Celery, Pearl onion etc soaked in vinegar, drained and chopped roughly, 1 minced Garlic, 1 chopped Shallot, 1 tbsp Capers, salt and pepper to taste all these in a bowl and chill in the fridge as long as you can, preferably overnight or more is great too.
To assemble Muffuletta:
1. Slice the loaf horizontally, add a thick layer of 1/2 of the Olive salad, lay the cheese slices like Mozzarella, Provolone etc and then layer meat slices like Pepperoni, Salami,Ham etc and cheese slice again and end with the rest of the Olive salad on top and cover with top slice of bread.
2. Press the loaf, cover with foil or cling film tightly and chill in fridge for 30mins. Take it out and cut inti quarters to serve with pickled pepperoncini. That's about it, your yummy Muffuletta is ready to dig in without going to New Orleans!

Muffuletta is ready for you!!:)
If you like warm slice of Muffuletta, press the sandwich in Panini press or grill until cheese melts or you can also microwave for a minute until cheese melts.

Try it!


Ready for some sweet-tart Lemony Biscuits now?

Lemony Tea Biscuits are my contribution to Coffee from "The Spice Cafe". She is hosting Jihva this month which is originally started by Indira of "Mahanandi". She has chosen "Lemon/Lime" as her JIHVA ingredients for February. Thanks for taking time to host Coffee!:)

Lemony Tea Biscuits:
This recipe for flavored southern biscuits is from "Southern Cooking" by James Villas with my slight changes. He says "one of the southern tradition/ritual in the finer homes even to this day is to have "high Tea", sitting in their porches and gardens!" Tea and dainty little Lemon flavored Biscuits make a fine accompaniment for afternoon tea. I have glazed the biscuits with Lemon syrup. Any citrus syrup will do too, enjoy!:))

You need these to make them:

You Need:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour,
4 tsp baking powder,
1 tsp salt,
1 tbsp sugar,
4 tbsp cold butter,cut into small cubes,
1 cup milk.
2 tbsp melted butter,
1 tbsp Lemon Zest.(grate only the yellow outer skin,not the white part)
3 tbsp Sugar,
juice of 2 Lemons.

Preheat the oven to 450F.
Spray a large baking sheet with no-stick oil.
Mix 2 tbsp sugar and lemon juice well until dissolved and keep aside.

To make them:
1. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, baking pd, salt, sugar, and cold butter. Mix until it resembles bread crumbs.Add milk, fold gently just enough to mix, do not over mix.
2. Knead 3-4 times on the counter top, pat out to a rectangle about 1/4" thick, brush melted butter evenly on top and sprinkle Lemon zest on top.
3. Roll up like Jelly roll or like cigar lengthwise, cut into 1" rolls.Place them on the baking sheet 1" apart and lightly dab them the tops with sugar and lemon glaze, do not soak it in.
4. Bake for 12-15 mins or until golden on top.Cool on racks and store them in the air tight container.
Note: If you don't want to make the swirls or pinwheel rolls, gently roll out the dough to about 1" thickness and cut out 3" circles, glaze and bake!

Serve at room temperature with jam or jelly for breakfast or with Tea/Coffee in the afternoon!!:)

Book I read last week:

"The red carpet-Bangalore stories" by Lavanya Sankaran.
Author is raised in Bangalore and living there now with her family (after moving back to India from USA), she writes her very first witty (cosmopolitan people are "one-Thara" people, as Ram her character in the book says!:D) and very articulately written book. It is sprinkled with expletives thru' out the book which I don't like to read or hear in the movies, which is my problem of course! I am old fashioned in that way.
It's a collection of 8 stories, all set in Bangalore (Silicon Valley of India!), writes about new and old generation clashes, about "foreign returned" engineers, ABCDs , perception and presumption of life in USA! IF it's a true portrait of modern day B'lore, specially as in the first story (I really hope it's just fiction!), it shocks me! I have been away from Bengaluru for too many years I guess, again it's all my fault!!! :P
She won a "Poets and writers best of first fiction 2005" award for this book. She is a very BEAUTIFUL girl too, looking at her photo on back of the book!
Saw the movie "SAW 4" at last, my favorite most "intelligent" REAL scary bunch of movies (SAW 1,2,3) if you ask me, love them all! :D

Few dishes I tried from other bloggers:

Vimmi's delicious Baingan da Bharta:
Here is a simple but great tasting Baingan da bharta I tried from Punjabi blogger friend Vimmi. I have never cooked Baingan Bharta before since it always involves the usual dhania-jeera pd, garam masala etc. This recipe uses the minimum of spices and tastes excellent with Parathas. Thanks Vimmi, loved it and as you said, it's absolutely delcious!:)
Srivalli's Spicy Peanuts:
Happy cook made these peanuts last week with the recipe from Srivalli's blog. Although this dish is not new to me (my mom always roasts the peanuts in 2 tbsp oil in a pan and seasons), I wanted to try Sri's deep fried version. It came out very well, great to munch on cold Winter evenings, love the fried garlic. Thanks Sri!:)

Enjoy your weekend!:)

February 13, 2008


Happy Valentine's day to all of you. Spread the love!

A surprise Valentine's day snowfall overnight for us today in NC!! A very beautiful white day to start the Valentine's day!:)

"Pomegranate Soup":

I read "Pomegranate Soup" by Marsha Mehran last month which tells the story of three Iranian sisters and their survival in Ireland with a secret from the past which haunts them wherever they move. Book also comes with few popular Persian recipes with their fond memories of them. I decided to make some of the recipes for you which of course enjoyed very much at home by us.

Three young Aminpour sisters flee Iran during the revolutionary era to England. Just when they are settling down in the new country, one of the sister is threatened by her past secret and they flee to Ireland to escape. While there, they start a restaurant cooking Persian delicacies but face hostility,resentment and prejudice by the locals. Just when they are getting comfortable there, their past (Well..you will have to read the book to know what that is!) catches up again. As the time passes, finally they are accepted into the Irish society, youngest sister finds love and all is well in the end!!:)

Iranian/Persian Menu:
Pomegranate soup (Aash-e Anar),
Lavash (Nan-e Lavash),
Elephant Ears( Goosh-e Feel).

I am sending this wholesome Pomegranate soup to Meeta from "what's for lunch honey?" for her Monthly Mingle event with the theme of "One-dish dinners" this month. Enjoy all in one dinner Meeta!:)

One pot dishes are a great solution to our busy lives. They are also healthy and less labor intensive, saves lot of time without needing to use more than one pot to wash up later. You have a choice of making soups, stews, Casseroles and Risottos in one pot and if you make a large batch,they are easily freezable for the next time too!!

Pomegranate soup goes to sra from "when soup came alive" to her "AFAM" event as well. She has chosen "Pomegranate" this month to cook and blog about. Thanks sra!:)

The pomegranate fruit is originated from Persia, has been cultivated and widely used in Asia and the Mediterranean region.They are rich in antioxidants.More info is here.

In India and Iran, Pomegranates are called Anar. The most famous and memorable Hindi movie made in India in 1953 is "Anarkali", which means "pomegranate blossom" bestowed for the beauty of a dancing girl in the Mughal court! It's a love story with a tragic ending of a Mughal Prince Jahangir who falls in love with a young beautiful courtesan, which is forbidden by his father Emperor Akbar. On Emperor Akbar's order, she was buried alive as her punishment for falling in love with the prince!!

Pomegranate-Beet soup (Aash-e Anar):

Pomegranate soup is simple and deliciously tangy, all in one meal with very subtle spices. Just adding Pom juice will not give you the bright red color, I added a slice of Beet (not traditional) , chopped finely to the soup which gives that vibrant color. You can use any kind of meat balls or add veg Koftas but lamb koftas are traditionally added to this soup in Iran.

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil or butter, saute 2 small onions chopped, 2 garlic chopped, until golden. Add washed and drained 1/3 cup Moong dal (yellow split peas), 1/2 cup rice, saute for a minute in oil. Add a slice of Beet, finely chopped to the soup.(You can skip this if you don't have the Beet on hand but soup looks yellowish!)
2. Add 4-5 cups of water or stock, salt, pepper, 1/4 tsp turmeric. Bring it to Boil and then turn down the heat to simmer, cover and cook until rice and dal are half way cooked ie for 30 mins. Add 3 tbsp Parsley, 3 tbsp Cilantro, 2 tbsp mint leaves, 1/4 cup green onions to the pot, mix,cover and simmer again for 15 mins.

3. Meanwhile, mix Lamb or any ground meat with any spices you like or just with little salt, make medium sized round meat balls and drop them into the soup.
4. Add 1 1/2 cups Pomegranate juice, 1/2 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp Angelica Powder, (I didn't have this pd) simmer until cooked soft. Adjust the salt and pepper.
5. Garnish with garlic chives and serve with or without Lavash on the side.

Note: Although this recipe doesn't have these, you could add 1 tsp cumin seeds powder, few chili flakes for more taste.

Nan-e Lavash
goes to "Flat breads" event hosted by Petra from "Chili and Ciabatta" blog this month, a "bread baking day #7" event started by Zorra from "kochtopf". Thanks for hosting, enjoy the beautiful bread!:)

Lavash, also called Naan-e Lavash in Persia, is a popular bread. You can have this with soups or serve with Kababs. Easy to make, it tastes great right out of the oven. Usually, it is rolled out to a very large rectangle and thin, almost crispy bread. Since I don't have that much of counter space, I made it as big as I can and about 1/4" thick. You can use stand mixer with dough hook to make the dough too to make it easy on you. Enjoy.

Lavash (Nan-e Lavash):
(Cut this recipe into half (ie use 2 cups flour etc) if you want less lavash for your family or you can divide 4 cups flour dough into half and freeze for future use too!)

1. Warm 1/2 cup water until 110F to 115F, add 1 tbsp of quick rising Yeast, 1 tsp sugar,let it foam.
2. In a wide pan, add yeast water, 1/4 cup Olive oil, 1 cup warm milk, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, 2tbsp Sesame seeds, mix.
3. Add in 4 cups plain flour gradually, 1 cup at a time and mix with liquid until you can knead it to a dough. Divide into 4-6 balls, cover and let it rise for 30 mins.
4. Preheat the oven for to 500F. Roll out a ball of dough as thin as you can and into a rough rectangle shape. Place it on a buttered or sprayed baking sheet, brush some water on top, sprinkle some Poppy seeds and bake for 5 mins. As soon as you see the red spots on top, take it out, do not let it burn. Fold and cover it with a fooi to reheat or serve immediately. Repeat with other dough pieces. Your yummy Lavash is ready!!

Elephant ears (Goosh-e Feel):
Here is a fun dessert for the young and the old called Elephant Ears, which refers to the shape of the crisp sweet which looks like Elephant ears! Again, very easy to make and sprinkled with sweet Cinnamon (not Dalchini) and sugar, it's delcious. (Skip egg, use half the recipe to make a few Gooshe Feel, like I did. This following recipe makes quite a large batch!) Here is the recipe as it is given in the book.

Make the sprinkle first:
Mix 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 tbsp Cinnamon powder well and keep aside.

1. Beat 1 egg in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup Rose water and 1/2 tsp Cardamom powder. Mix well.
2. Slowly, add in 3 1/2 cups plain flour, knead.Make balls, roll out thin, cut into 5" circle. With your index finger and thumb, pinch the middle of the circle until they touch.
3. Heat oil, fry these until golden. Drain on paper, sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top generously before they cold.
4. Store in an air tight container when cooled.

Cheesy Lavash!!
My kids love Cheese bread! So, as soon as the Lavash came out of the oven, I added Jack cheese on top, sprinkled some steak spices and folded it into half. The heat in the hot Lavash melts the cheese and it's delicious to eat soon after the cheese melts!

I managed to read just one book this week, didn't have much time to spare. Husband and my son were both sick from the dreaded cold Virus going around everywhere these days. Both are okay now, "old girl" and the young girl took care of them well! :D

"Fried Butter" by Abe Opinkar, about his certain memories attached particular food. He says when mom was pregnant with him, she became sensitive to light, so she would draw all the curtains in the house in Summer and start making fried eggs to soothe herself and she tells him the whole house smelled like fried butter when she was carrying him.

He also writes few beautiful paragraphs about Indian Basil and why it's worshiped and how it is used in daily lives of Indians! He once drove 45mins in the storm just to buy the 3 plants of rare Indian Basil (Tulsi Basil as he calls them) from a herb nursery!!:)

He talks about why French do not like to bathe often, the history and the reason behind it, talks about his high school days in Japan and his experiences in Latin America and Israel too. A very enjoyable read.

Movie I watched:

"Immortal Beloved", a movie about the life of composer Ludwig Van Beethoven with his beautiful music. Immortal beloved was a name he had given to a woman he loved and mentioned in his letters he had left behind after he dies but nobody knew who she was but they try to investigate to find her identity! All these geniuses are so eccentric,aren't they?! ;p

Have a wonderful day today and a great weekend!:)

February 07, 2008


Gujarati Thali (platter) is my contribution to "Regional Cuisine of India", a event started by Lakshmi from "veggie cuisine" and Mythili from "Vindu" blog is hosting this RCI event this month showcasing the beautiful state of Gujarat. Thanks for hosting Mythili!:)
(Since it's RCI and I am proud to showcase our Indian states one by one, 2-3 dishes per post rule do not apply!!:D)

Palitana, a largest "Temple city" in Gujarat:
A pilgrimage site on the Shatranjaya hills with 863 temples built over a span of nine hundred years!! Isn't this absolutely amazing to look at?! I didn't know anything about this city until now!! (Photo is from www.indbazaar.com)

Gujarat is situated at the westernmost part of India,laced with beautiful beaches and ancient temples.Its official and primary language is Gujarati with Gandhinagar as it's capital. Most of the Gujarati Hindus are very strict vegetarians and their vegetarian cuisine is unmatchable in taste and variety. Kutch is one of the important areas in the state which has an independent identity and they speak Katchi. Here is the photo of the world's first Swaminarayan Temple built in Ahmedabad.
National leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel are the natives of Gujarat. Gujarat was also the site of some of the most popular resistances against the British including the Satyagrahas in Kheda, Bardoli, Borsad and the Salt Satyagraha. Dandiya Ras, Garba are few of the popular dances for the region.(Info from WIKI)

Gujarati Thali:
Lilva Pulao(Surti Papdi, Avarekalu), Mathri (a crispy snack, store bought), Vatana Bateta no Rotlo (Greenpeas and Potato roti), Lachko dal, a beverage/dipping sauce called Komal and Sukhdi(Wheat flour, Cardamom, ghee)for dessert!

Gujarati Thali

Gujarati dishes:
Most of these recipes came from Tarla Dalal's "Gujarati cookbook", who has undeniable authority on Gujarati cuisine, being a Gujarati herself. I did make some changes to her original recipes to suit my taste and convenience. Here are the recipes the way I made them, enjoy!:)

I bought Haldiram's Mathri at the Indian store but they are easy to make at home. It's not in the Gujarati book, so I am not sure if it's a Gujarati snack! Anyway, here is the recipe:
1. Mix 1/2 cup plain flour, 1/2 cup Wheat flour, 2 tbsp Semolina/Rava, 2 tbsp hot oil, 1 tsp Ajwain seeds, 2 tsp grated ginger, salt, 1/4 tsp Baking powder, 1/2 tsp crushed peppercorns , few chilli flakes, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp crushed Kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves), 1/2 tsp crushed Coriander and fennel seeds with littler water to make a stiff dough. Let it rest for 10 mins.
2. Make a large marble sized balls, press a little to flatten it and deep fry them until golden.

Lilva Pulao:

Simple and delicious!
Grind these to coarse paste: 1/2 cup Cilantro, 3 green chillies, 1/2" fresh ginger, 2 garlic without water.

1. Cook Lilva beans(I used frozen Surti Papdi) with water and little bit of salt until soft, drain. Keep aside. Cook 1 1/2 cups of Basmati or long grain until soft, fluff and keep it aside to cool a bit.
2. Heat 2 tbsp butter or ghee, add 2" Cinnamon sticks, 2 cloves. Add cooked and drained Lilva beans, salt, ground paste. Mix well for 2 mins.
3. Squeeze 1/2 a lemon juice and add cooked rice and mix well. Serve with Lachko dal.

Lachko Dal:
A very simple dal seasoned with Cumin and garlic.
1. Cook 1/2 cup Tuar dal with 2 cups of water, salt, 2 green chillies, 1/4 tsp turmeric in a pressure cooker.
2. Heat 2 tsp ghee, add 1 tsp Cumin seeds, 1 broken red chilly, 2 garlic sliced (my addition), when golden, add the dal and simmer.

Greenpeas and Potato Rotlo:
I added a bit of wheat flour to make the dough pliable.Without it, it's hard to make the Rotis.
1. Cook 3 large Potatoes, peel and mash. Put it in the wide mouthed dish. Heat 1 cup frozen green peas in the Microwave, drain the water and mash as much as you can, add to the mashed potato.
2. Add in 2 tbsp Rice flour, 3 tbsp wheat flour or cornstarch (my addition), salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp green chillies(2) and (1") Ginger paste to the Potato mix and knead. Divide into 6-8 round.
3. Heat the non-stick pan. Take a piece of foil, spray no-stick oil. Press a dough ball to a thickish square roti with your palm, gently place it on the tawa and cook both sides, drizzled with some oil on top until crisp and golden. Cool them on the cooling rack. Repeat with other dough balls and serve with Komal.

In her book, Coconut and yogurt are just mixed with water and seasoned to serve as a drink. You can do that if you like. I didn't want to drink coconut milk as it is! So I heated both up without adding any water, seasoned to serve as a dipping sauce for Rotlo and as side dish with Pulao too. It tastes excellent!
1. Beat 1 cup plain yogurt and 1 cup Coconut milk (I used canned), salt and 1 tsp sugar with a whisk well. Put it in the Microwave for 5 mins at 50% power. (Might split if you heat it on high heat or you can simmer on the stove top gently until little thick like sauce.) Cool it before adding seasoning.
2. Heat 1 tsp oil, add 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 3 minced curry leaves, 2 tsp minced Cilantro, stir for a minute and cool. Then add it to the yogurt mix. Serve with Rotlo or Pulao on the side in a cup.

I am sending this yummy heart shaped Sukhdi to Pooja from "my creative Ideas" blog for her "Valentine's day" special event. Thanks for hosting Pooja, hope you like my entry.
I am also sending this to Zorra for her "Heart for your Valentine" event. Thanks for hosting Zorra!:)

Sukhdi, a popular Gujarati dessert:
I wanted to make something really Gujarati for dessert. Sukhdi or GolPapdi as it called, is made of Wheat flour, ghee, Cardamom and sugar and cut into diamond shapes. This sweet is somewhat like between making Mysore Pak (lot easier than that!) and Rava Laddoo. I made it into heart shape for Valentine's day!!:)

Here is how to make Sukhdi:

1. Heat a non-stick pan, add 1/2 cup of ghee. When hot, add 1 tbsp Poppy seeds, 1 cup Wheat flour, keep stirring until it is cooked and smells good like roasted flour. Add 3/4 cup brown sugar or Jaggery. Stir until sugar melts.
2. Add 1 tsp Cardamom powder, mix well. Take off the heat, add 2 tbsp milk, stir to mix well. It will form into a lump and it starts to leave the sides of the pan.
3. Take out and shape it into any mould you like and garnish with toasted Almonds. You can serve this warm or cold.


Books I read:

1. "Around the table" by Lela Nargi and various authors' remembering and writing about their home, families and food including Maya Kaimal's Kerala and American grandparents.
2. "Parineeta" by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. A tiny story book, not the filmy version although I love the film too which I own.

Movies I watched:
1. After I watched "The Godfather" movies last month, I wanted more of Marlon Brando!:D
I borrowed "A streetcar named desire" from the library. Boy, he was so handsome when he was young!! Did you know his son Christian Brando's mother is from India, born in Calcutta(Kolkota)? Christian Brando died recently of Pneumonia.
2. "The toast of New Orleans", a 1950s musical about a "not so sophisticated" Bayou fisherman(Mario Lanza) who gets trained as a Opera singer and becomes the toast of New Orleans but falls in love with his co-singer(Kathryn Grayson) who thinks he is below her at first and then...you know how it goes, Bollywood ishtyle!;D Loved it.

Here are my Super Bowl goodies:
Tandoori chicken Puff pastry, Spinach and Feta Puffs, Raspberry and sweet coconut puffs for dessert, Taquitos, spicy Buffalo wings, Sesame crackers, Bagel chips, Guacamole, Spinach dip, Cheese Fondue with Pretzel bread cubes, Chili with Doritos!! A Cosmopolitan for me and few Beers for Arvind went well nicely too!:D
Super Bowl was as exciting as these were, we loved the game this year. Well done Giants!!:)

For Nita, who requested the recipe for Puffs. Enjoy!:)
Tandoori Puffs: Chop chicken to small cubes, about 2-3 cups. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan, add 1 onion very finely chopped, 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste, 1/4 tsp each turmeric and chill pd or paprika,salt,fry until onion is golden.Add 1 tsp sugar, 2 tsp of Tandoori masala (store bought, best one I use is Sharwood's brand or you can make it like this recipe), 1/2 tsp cumin-coriander powder and 1/4 tsp Pepper powder and mango pd or 1 tbsp yogurt. Stir in the chicken, stir on medium heat and fry until cooked thru' without adding any water. When done, adjust the spices and cool. Cut Puff Pastry to 4" squares, place a tbsp or more of Chicken, fold over and seal. Bake at 400F for 12-15mins.(You can add this chicken on Tortilla with cheese and cover with another, heat it to make Quesadillas too!)
Greek Puffs: Microwave frozen Spinach until cooked and dry, cool. Add salt, pepper, pinch of Nutmeg and Feta cheese, mix and stuff in the puffs. Do the same as above.
Sweet puffs: Any Jam plus 2 tbsps of sweetened coconut or Chocolate chips and coconut(my son's idea) or Nutella and Almonds etc.

Have a great weekend!:)

February 01, 2008


Hello friends, have a great time watching Super Bowl this Sunday night!
I am very excited, getting ready to prepare snacks, dips and Cheese Fondue I am planning to make. My kids are already upset that they have to get up early on Monday morning and have to go to school!:D
We are not partial to any particular team but we fully intend to enjoy the game. May the best team win!! GO Patriots and Giants!!:)

I baked a beautiful Rum Raisin bread last week, loved the rich flavor with plump Rum flavored raisins. You will not smell the Rum at all in the bread after it's baked. If you don't have Rum on hand, you can use Sherry, Cognac, or even Orange juice instead of Rum to soak Raisins but it won't be Rum Raisin bread anymore!:D
I specially liked the warm French toast made with these slices and served with crunchy, slightly spicy Rösti for Sunday brunch. You can serve just plain slices with any flavored cream cheese for breakfast as well. Do try if you can.

Rum Raisin Bread:
This recipe comes from a book called "Beard of Bread" by James Beard, a great chef and food writer, most popularly recognized as the father of American cuisine. He is the founder of his namesake annual award foundation for the best cookbooks,chefs and writings, "The James Beard award". I am grateful to him for giving us this recipe!:)

To make the Rum-Raisin bread, you need:

You need:
1 1/2 cups dark Raisins soaked in enough Rum for an hr.
Yeast mix:
1 cup Milk,heated until warm,
3 tbsp sugar,
2 tsp salt,
6 tbsp Butter
2 Packages of Active Yeast.(14gm or 1/2 oz),
1 cup warm water (110F-115F).
To mix and knead:
1/2 cup granulated sugar,
1/2 cup softened Butter,
6 cups of plain flour (you may not need to add all 6 cups and also you can mix 4 cups plain and 2 cups wheat flour), sifted.
one large loaf pan approximately 9 1/2" to 4 1/2" or bigger, buttered or sprayed with oil.

To bake the bread:
1. Soak the raisins first for a hr. After an hour,drain all the Rum, add 1 tbsp flour to the raisins and keep aside.
2. Heat the milk until warm and pour it in the big bowl or KitchenAid bowl and mix in all the other yeast mix ingredients along with warm water.Mix well.
3. Stir in 3 cups of flour and mix well to a smooth batter with the paddle hook or with a spatula.
4. Now keep adding rest of the flour and mixing either by hand or mixer until you get a soft kneadable dough.You may need all 6 cups or little less, use your judgment.
5. Change into dough hook ,knead for 6 mins or by hand for 10 mins. When elastic and soft, brush some oil or butter on the dough, cover, let it rise in a warm place until double for 1-2 hrs.
6. Punch down the dough, add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup soft butter and the floured raisins, knead well again with dough hook or by hand.
7. Put it the buttered loaf pan, tap the pan few times on the counter top to make the dough sink in, let it rise for 30 mins or until 60% raised.
Preheat the oven 400F.
8. Bake the bread for 40 to 50 mins or it's golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bread. If top is becoming too brown before it cooks inside int he 20 mins of baking, cover the top of the bread with foil.
9. Cool on a rack. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge and slice when needed.

Cinnamon French Toast with Rum-Raisin bread:
I made a few Cinnamon French toast with thick slices of Rum Raisin bread for our Sunday breakfast and served with wedges of Rösti. YUM!! Believe me, they taste way better than those we get in restaurants which we pay so much money for!!

To make 6 slices of French toast: 1. Beat 2 eggs, 2 tbsp cream or milk, 1 tbsp sugar,1/2 tsp Vanilla essence, 1 tsp Cinnamon powder well in a wide plate.
2. Cut 3 1" thick slices bread in to half each and place into the egg mix, leave for 1 minute and flip them to soak the other side. With a spoon, brush the sides of the bread with egg mixture.
3. Heat a wide non-stick pan, brush some butter on the bottom and add the slice and cook both sides until golden.
4. Serve hot sprinkled with powdered sugar and pancake syrup on top.You will love it.

Rösti goes to DhivyaK from "Culinary Bazaar" for her "Potato Fe(a)st" event, celebrating the "International year of the Potato". Thanks for hosting your first ever event DK, enjoy!:)

WIKI says "Rösti(Raw-stee) means "crisp and golden" and is a potato dish from Switzerland. It was originally a common breakfast eaten by farmers in the canton of Bern, but today is eaten all over Switzerland. Many Swiss people consider Rösti a national dish."
It is similar to Southern Hash brown made with the similar ingredients but with cubed potatoes, veggies and sauteed unlike Rosti which roasted whole without stirring at all in the pan.

This is how I made my jazzed up Rösti:
You can add any vegs, herbs and spices you like to the potatoes or just potatoes, salt and pepper, your choice. Experiment with different cheeses too, enjoy.

1. Peel 3 large Russet or any floury potatoes and grate them with large holes.Add 1 tsp Lemon juice.
2. Mix in 1 tbsp soft butter or olive oil, salt, pepper, (few chill flakes, 1/4 tsp Cumin seeds pd, optional,not traditional) 1/2 tsp Oregano or Thyme, or spices you have, mix well.
3. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat add spray some oil. Pour in all the potato mix, press down with a spatula to flatten it, cover and let it cook for 2-3 mins. DO NOT stir it. When you think the bottom is golden and crisp, give it a shake to loosen the bottom. Drizzle some olive oil on top.
4. Since you can not flip the whole thing like dosa, take a big flat plate, gently slide the whole Rosti on to the plate with uncooked part facing up, then place the pan on top of the plate and flip the plate on the pan so the uncooked top of Rosti goes on the bottom of the pan. You got all that?;D
5. Press again gently with spatula and let it cook until golden. Just before taking it out, sprinkle some cheese like Cheddar or Gruyère on top, let ot melt and sprinkle 1 tsp of fresh or dry Chives on top. Cut into wedges and serve right away.


Thanks to all of you who recommended books and few movies in my last post. I have ordered "My life in France" by Julia child and will be renting few of those movies you recommended too!:)

Here are the two books I read since my last post:
1. "My grandmother's Chinese Kitchen" by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, who describes her grandmother's great influence on her life and cooking when she was growing up in China. She says her grandmother got upset with her because the author refused to bind her foot when she was young to make them look pretty, while her grandmother herself couldn't walk, had to be carried around since her feet had completely deformed and painful as a result of binding since she was a child!!
2. "Monsoon Dairies" by Shoba Narayan, a wonderful book by a great writer. Her description of "Tamil mamis" and her paati's milkman who gave "English" names for each of his 3 milking cows, who also has 3 wives with the same "English" names too, kept me in stitches for days! :D
Incidentally Shoba Narayan is also a James Beard award winner, not for this book but for her other writing and she speaks on NPR "All things considered" as well!)

I watched all three of "The Godfather" movies at last. I had watched the first one long time ago but hadn't watched the sequels until last week, thoroughly enjoyed them all!:)

Now the breaking news!:D
I traded in my Toyota Highlander to brand new fully loaded (with seat warmers, which we don't really need in NC!:D) Nissan Rogue! Just had it delivered all the way from Japan, built specially with my choice of black leather seats with red stitches. I am loving my little Rogue! I still have that "Cauvery" L plate too!

Have fun on Sunday night!:)