Potato Stew

This is a curry I make often because it goes well with a lot of sides. It tastes great with pooris, rotis, dosas, appams and even bread.

2 large potatoes, chopped into 1" cubes
1 large onion, chopped into small chunks
1&1/2 tbs chopped ginger
4-6 green chillies, slit
8-10 peppercorns
1tsp mustard seeds
2tbs oil
1&1/2tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp heaped garam masala
2 cups water
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
1 sprig curry leaves
salt to taste

Heat oil in a kadhai, add mustard and peppercorns.
Once they splutter, add the onions, green chillies and ginger and saute till the onions just begin to brown.
Add the masalas and fry for a min.
Add the potatoes and mix well.
Add water, 1/4cup of coconut milk, curry leaves and salt and bring to a boil.
Cover and cook on low heat till the potatoes are done. Check the seasonings.
Remove from flame, add the remaining coconut milk and mix well. Keep it back on low flame for about 1-2mins, however do not let it come to a boil. Serve hot.

In many parts stew is made without the masalas. The curry would be white in colour and tastes very different. I prefer the above version, but will post the other recipe soon.


Idiappam is a popular dish in Kerala. Made with just rice flour and coconut, this light and fluffy dish is usually had at breakfast or as a snack. I love to eat it with some sugar sprinkled on top but it tastes just as great when served with a mildly spiced potato curry...

2 cups idiappam powder ( Many brands are available in the grocery stores now, I like Nirapara. You can also use rice flour but it may not give the same results as it depends on the quality and type of rice used to make the powder)
2 - 2&1/4 cups boiling water
1tbs ghee
salt to taste (about 1tsp)
1cup fresh grated coconut
idli moulds

Mix the salt and flour in a bowl. Add 2cups of boiling water and ghee. Using the back of a spoon mix as well as possible. Cover and keep aside for sometime. This will cook the dough a little and cool it down making it easier to handle. 
When it is still warm, knead into a soft but firm dough, adding some more warm water if necessary. Fill the dough into the idappam press ( same as the one used for making sev.)
Sprinkle a little coconut on each idli mould.


Using the press, squeeze the dough into the moulds as shown above. Sprinkle some more coconut on top.
Steam for 5-8 mins till done. Remove from the moulds and serve hot with sugar or potato curry.

If you do not have idli moulds or just to make it easier, line a steamer plate with a damp muslin cloth. Sprinkle coconut and squeeze out the dough in a circular motion covering the entire surface of the plate. Sprinkle coconut between each layer and finally on the top.

Fold the edges of the cloth over the plate to cover. Steam in a steamer or pressure pan for 10-15mins till done. Cut into wedges and serve hot....I love it this way...

This is my entry to the 'FIC : WHITE' event hosted by Lubna Karim of Kitchenflavours, originally started by Sunshinemom of TongueTicklers...

Chicken Tandoori

For our Christmas party in my apartment, I had to make a non-veg starter. I had some other plans for the day so I wanted to prepare something that did not involve much work and yet was impressive. Tandoori was the first thing that came to mind. This recipe is from the VahReVah chef Sanjay. I make it frequently at home and we love it.

I have always followed the recipe exactly except for increasing the spice. I also add some kashmiri chili powder for color.
I bake it for about 30-35mins and then broil on high to give it that burnt tandoori look.
Serve hot with some squeezed lime and its AWESOME...

Fruit Cake~Dundee Cake

Merry Christmas to All!!
At our home, every Christmas mom buys a Dundee Cake from the Monginis Bakery. Rich and delicious, it is one of my favourite cakes. I got this recipe from a book my sis in law gifted me and I have been waiting ever since to try it. I was a little apprehensive, as I always am when trying a new recipe, especially one that uses so many ingredients.  But, it was well worth the effort and I couldn't have been more satisfied.  

175gm butter
175gm light brown sugar
3 eggs
225gm all-purpose flour
10ml( 2tsp ) baking powder
5ml( 1tsp ) ground cinnamon
2.5ml( 1/2tsp ) ground cloves
1.5ml( 1/4tsp ) freshly grated nutmeg
200gm sultanas( golden raisins )
150gm raisins
150gm candied cherries, chopped
100gm chopped mixed( candied ) peel
50gm chopped blanched almonds
grated rind of one lemon
30ml( 2tbsp ) brandy
115gm whole blanched almonds, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 325˚F/160˚C. Grease an 8" round deep cake tin and line with baking parchment.
Sift together flour, baking powder and spices.
Take the nutmeg, sultanas, raisins, cherries, candied peels, almonds, lemon rind and brandy in a bowl and mix well.

Cream the butter and sugar till pale and light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture alternately with the fruit mixture until evenly combined. Transfer to the cake tin. Smooth the surface, then make a small dip in the center so that the cake does not rise to a point.
Decorate the top of the cake by pressing the blanched almonds in decreasing circles over the entire surface.


Bake for 2-2 1/4 hrs in the middle rack, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cut out a thick slice and ENJOY...

It is important to use a deep pan. Since I did not have one, I used a spring form pan.
It is best to allow the cake to rest for a while. I wrapped mine in foil and left it overnight before slicing.
Use a sharp knife as it is a little difficult to cut the cake because of all the fruits.

Sharkara Payasam

My parents just celebrated their anniversary back home and my mom made some payasam for the occasion. I was so sad i missed it and it had been a while since I made any payasam. So I followed moms instructions and made some yesterday and I almost felt at home...

This payasam can also be served as prasadam, as in temples all over Kerala.

100gms uncooked rice
200gms jaggery, grated; (use the darkest variety available)
water - 4 times the rice
2 1/2tbs + 1/2tbs ghee
1/2tsp cardamom powder
Few cashews and raisins

Boil water in a heavy bottom vessel. Add the rice and stir well. Reduce the heat, cover and cook, stirring every few minutes till the rice is done(add more water if necessary) and the water is mostly absorbed. Be careful not to overcook the rice, it should not get mashed when stirred.
Add the jaggery. Cook over low-medium heat till the mixture is thick and there is no water left. Add 21/2 tbs of ghee and keep stirring for another 4-5mins. Stir in the cardamom and take off heat.
Lightly brown the cashews and raisins in 1/2tbs of ghee and add to the payasam. Mix lightly and serve warm for the best flavour.

Since I was trying the recipe for the first time, I made a very small quantity. This recipe is good for 2 -3 servings.
You can add more ghee if you like to make it richer.

I am sending this to "Harvest: Festival of Rice" event by Sudeshna.

Stuffed Brinjal Curry

Mom always pan fried eggplants and that's the only way I liked to prepare them. I never liked the thought of eggplants in a curry. But when we lived in Hyderabad a few years back I had this dish at a friends place and loved the flavors. 

This recipe is adapted mostly from Prema's My Cookbook with a few changes of my own.

8-10 small eggplants
1 big onion
2 big tomatoes
1 tbs ginger garlic paste
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red chili powder
salt to taste
2tbs roasted skinned peanuts
2 tbs roasted sesame seeds
2 tbs fresh grated coconut
1/4 cup fresh chopped cliantro
1-2 tsps lemon juice

Saute the onions until golden. Add garam masala, red chili powder and some salt. Take off heat.
Grind about a third of the sauteed onions along with the peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut into a smooth paste, adding water only if needed.
Wash the eggplants, keeping the stems intact. Make a cross slit on the opposite side of the stem, through the length off the eggplant without splitting into quarters.
Stuff some of the ground paste into each eggplant.
Keep the onions back on heat and add the eggplants, the remaining paste, 1 cup of water and the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil, cover and cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes, until the eggplants are tender. Check the seasonings, and stir in the cilantro and lemon juice. Serve hot with chapatis or rice.

Garlic Chicken

This is one of my favorite Chinese gravies and its wonderful served with some fried rice or noodles.
The actual recipe calls for deep frying the chicken. But as an healthier alternative I pan roasted one big chicken breast and cut it into chunks. This simplified the dish so much more and it tasted just as great. Hope you like it...

1 big chicken breast, poached and cut into 1"chunks
1 capsicum, cut into 1"strips
3 spring onions, whites and greens, separated, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2tbs soy sauce
1tsp red chilli paste
1/2tsp white pepper powder
1 cup water
1tbs cornflour dissolved in 1tbs water 
salt to taste

Heat 1-2tbs oil and saute garlic and chillies for 30seconds. Add the spring onions and capsicum and sautee for 1 min on high. Add the chicken and fry for 2-3 mins.
Add the water and seasonings and boil for few mins. Check the salt. Add cornflour paste and cook for 1-2 mins till thick. 

Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot with fried rice or nood

Chicken Fried Rice

One thing I miss a lot being in the US is Indian-Chinese Food. I have tried many restaurants out here, but the food is totally different from what we get in India. So now, whenever I'm tempted to eat fried rice or noodles I just cook it at home. 
Most chinese dishes usually involve a lot of prep-work but are very easy to cook. The stir frying has to done on a very high flame, so it is important to have all the ingredients at hand. But once we are done with all the chopping, the dish gets ready in minutes and served hot, there is nothing more satisfying...

1 cup rice
2 cups water/ chicken broth
1 tsp oil

1 small capsicum, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 cup chicken, boiled and shredded
1 egg, beaten
2 green chillies, finely chopped
4 spring onions, separate the white and green and chop finely
1/2tsp pepper powder
a pinch sugar
salt to taste
2 tbs oil

Here is how I like to cook rice for this dish, so that each grain is separate. It is best to do this some time in advance and cool the rice...

Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a wide vessel (I use a non-stick kadhai). Add the rice and oil, stir lightly once. Cover and cook on low heat for 15mins. Take off heat, do not lift the lid, keep aside for 10 mins, then fluff up the rice using a fork and cool completely before using in the dish.

Heat 2tbs oil in a wok or a wide kadhai till smoking. Add the egg, and scramble quickly. Add the green chillies, spring onions and vegetables and stir for 1 min. Add the chicken and stir for another min. Add the cooled rice and toss well together. When the rice is heated through, add the seasonings and mix well for a min. Check the salt and remove from heat. Top with spring onion greens and serve hot.

Tangy Pasta with Vegetables

For Manoj and I, dinner on Friday just has to be something something other than the regular roti and rice, sort of like a prelude to a long and relaxed weekend.
This time. there was some left-over garlic bread so a pasta dish seemed like the best choice. I used store bought pasta sauce, makes it a ton easier! I have tried a lot of the brands available and although a lot of them taste great, I now use Trader Joe's Organic Marinara sauce. It has a lot less sodium compared to others, is low fat and does not have a lot of scary ingredients added to it. I did not have any chicken or shrimp in the fridge, and a total vegetarian fare was just not appealing, so I hard boiled a couple of eggs, discarded the yellow and just used the white. You can add a whole lot of vegetables to this, that would make it even better.......

Ingredients :
120gms uncooked pasta
1tbs oil
2 cloves garlic, finely choppped
1 cup pasta sauce
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 big zucchini, cut into small pieces
1 capsicum, cut into smallpieces
2 egg whites hard boiled, cut into pieces
grated cheese ( parmesan )

Method :
Cook the pasta as per package instructions. Time this so it cooks just as the sauce is ready, so you can add the pasta directly from the water to the sauce.
In the mean time, heat some oil in a pan. Add the garlic and sautee for 1/2 a min, then add the zucchini and capsicum and cooked egg whites, and sautee on high heat for about 2 mins. Add the tomato sauce, red chili powder, pepper powder and basil and bring to a simmer.
Add the cooked pasta and mix well. Add some pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce if needed.
Sprinkle with some grated cheese and serve hot.

Pineapple Cream Cake

I was at Hyderabad for a year after marriage where I took a baking class conducted by Radhika Mandala. I enjoyed the class and learned some great recipes.

I baked this cake for Valentine's Day. This was my first attempt at making a pastry and it came out really well. Everyone loved it and I hope you will too...

50 gms Flour
50 gms Cornflour
3 Eggs, separated
1 tsp Baking Powder
100 gms Superfine Sugar
1/2 tsp Pineapple Essence
1 can Crushed Pineapple
1 1/2 cups whipped cream
1 cup Pineapple Syrup

For the cake :
Pre-heat the oven to 385˚F/ 200˚C ). Grease and line an 8" round tin.
Sieve the flours and the baking powder together 3 times.

Using an electric blender beat the egg whites to form soft peaks. Gradually add sugar and beat till thick. Add the yolks one at a time and beat well at low speed till well blended.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the sieved flours. Do not stir or over-mix.
Add the essence to a corner of the bowl and fold it in gently.

Bake for about 20-25mins till firm.

Once done remove the cake from the tin and cool completely. Slice the cake into two.

For the filling and icing :

Drain the pineapple can and reserve the syrup. Add water to the syrup if necessary to make a cup and add enough sugar to sweeten. Add a few drops of pineapple essence.

Whip the cream to stiff peaks.

To assemble the cake :

Using a spray bottle or spoon soak one slice of cake in the pineapple syrup. The cake should be moist but still firm.
Top with a layer of whipped cream and pineapple pieces. Top with the second slice, also soaked in syrup. Cover the top and sides with a thick layer of whipped cream. Decorate with pineapple pieces and whipped cream.
Refrigerate for 2-3 hrs so it sets well.

I doubled the recipe so I could have more layers. The cake was huge so everyone had a big portion.
I used Non-dairy ready to whip topping instead of the cream. If using heavy whipping cream, you will have to add 2-3tbs confectioners sugar to the cream half way through whipping.
Vanilla ice-cream is also a great option, but then the cake will have to kept in the freezer. Transfer to the refrigerator for sometime before serving.

A Beginning...

'Do u Blog??'...is a question i have been asked several times and i've never really given it much thought. However, being a housewife in the US and with all the time i have to spare the blogging fever has finally caught me. 
I have always loved cooking. Now i have a kitchen all to myself and a husband who is very supportive of all my experiments. There has never been a better time...