Monday, November 30, 2009

Dates Pickle

My friend M’s mom is a very good cook.I like the ease at which she talks about cooking and the flair with which she does it.Sad,I can’t taste most of the dishes she cooks.Why,you may ask—because she cooks excellent non-veg dishes and I am a vegetarian.She feels satisfied when people happily gorge down the food she cooks and is very sad when I stick with salads and pickles.Ajay loved the lunch/dinner invites at their place and was always exhausted by the time he finished coz he just wouldn’t be able to choose which dish to eat!!

Whenever I’m there,she takes care to prepare a vegetarian main dish-pulao or fried rice.Once,she was especially happy and shoved towards me a plate full of pulao with something on the side.I wondered what it was and reconfirmed if it was vegetarian.She gave me the thumbs up and I tasted it.One spoon after the other,I was hooked.I forgot all about the pulao:).

I’ve always wanted to make the yummy Dates pickle that she made that day but never got around asking the recipe.Few months back when I met her,I hurriedly wrote down the recipe and wanted to make it ASAP.But since the recipe measures were for ½ a kg of dates,I was a bit apprehensive.Then comes Bharathy with her rocking dates pickle and would you believe that it is the exact recipe I had but with just 10 Dates,enough to satisfy my cravings..YAY!!

Dates Pickle
Recipe courtesy M’s mom—made easier by Bharathy


Dates – 10,deseeded

Green chillies finely minced-2
Ginger – a one inch piece- chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves- chopped
White vinegar-1-2 tbsps
Sugar – ½ tsp[I increased it to 1]
Chilly powder-1 tbsp
Asafoetida/Hing – ¼ tsp
Fenugreek/Methi-Roasted and powdered finely– 1/4 tsp[I didn’t add this]
Turmeric powder- a pinch
Salt - As needed

Ingredients for the seasoning

Oil – ½ cup[I reduced it to ¼ cup]
Curry leaves – a sprig
Mustard seeds- ½ tsp


Cut each Dates into 4 pieces.
Heat oil in a pan.add green chillies, ginger, garlic bits and curry leaves.Saute for a few seconds.
Add dates.Keep the flame to minimum or just put off and add the all the powders. Ensure they are mixed up and heated well enough,rather than getting burnt.
Add vinegar(I added a little water, just enough to make the pickle a little saucy-as I love that way :)..though addition of water is strictly 'Not' recommended as in any pickles).Adjust the flame and bring the sauce to a boil.
Add salt and sugar.Mix well.
Store the dates pickle in a ceramic jar or glass bottle.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Green Peas Masala ~ Thattukada Style!!

Most of my Google searches these days are for side-dishes.Yes,the one thing which I am always at a loss for.Since we have dry chapathis/phulkas for lunch and many a times for dinner too,I have to introduce some varities on the sides.After all,for how long can one eat dal and dal fry and dal get the drift,don’t you??

We are not very fond of those Korma’s or Shahi dishes to have on a daily basis.It doesn’t serve the purpose of having rotis instead of rice.On the contrary,we’ll be consuming more calories in the form of all the butter,ghee and cream which goes into these curries.So I turned to my treasure house of recipes-yup,my own recipe collection from Vanitha magazine which I have bound into two books.I saw a very simple recipe for Green peas masala which sounded perfect.I had some frozen peas inside the freezer and I tried it rightaway.

After tasting we felt the only thing missing was the ambience of a Thattukada[Road-side eateries which are quite popular in Kerala] and some Porotta’s to soak up the gravy.Perfect thattukada peas masala!!

Green Peas Masala ~ Thattukada Style


Green peas – 1 cup[I used Frozen]
Potato – 1 medium,chopped
Carrot – 1 medium,chopped
Onions – 2,medium,chopped
Green chilly – 1 or 2[according to your spice levels]
Salt to taste
Haldi – 1 tsp

Grated coconut – 4 tbsp
Garam masala – 1 ½ tsp

Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Small onions/Shallots – 4-5,thinly sliced
Curry leaves – 1 sprig


Pressure cook the green peas with potato,carrot,onions,green chillies with haldi and salt to taste for 2-3 whistles or till the vegetables become soft.
Grind the coconut with few tbsp water to a smooth paste.
In a kadai,add the oil and splutter mustard seeds.
Add small onions and curry leaves and sauté till the onions become golden brown.
Add the cooked peas and vegetables.
Mix in the coconut paste and garam masala and let the curry come to a rolling boil.
Check for salt and add more if required.
Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.
Tastes well with Chapathi and Idiyappam.

Check out my other versions of Green Peas Masala here and here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vegetable Stroganoff with Garlic Bread and Corn on the side!!

I remember having this dish at a quaint li’l restaurant in Cochin –The Attic,while me and Ajay sat discussing our future plans,days before our wedding.No wonder then,I don’t recollect the taste of the dish at all,all I can remember is that had liked the dish so much so that I ordered the same when we went there few days later.Ok,let me be honest here,we chose the restaurant not because of the food[though the food is really good too],it was one of those few restaurants where the crowd was limited[very limited],the waiters were non-interfering and the ac was on full blast with good music playing in the background.Uh..what more could we ask for!!

I have had Vegetable Stroganoff at different places and each time found that it was different from the one I had before.I liked it nevertheless.I was in for a disappointment when I searched for a recipe for it though,I did not find even one worth trying.I decided to experiment and try my own version.I remember seeing a recipe in GoodHousekeeping which used Soup mix powder for the gravy,went ahead with that idea.Loved the end result,next time,I’ll try out the spicier version.

Vegetable Stroganoff—The easier version!!


Onions – 2 medium,chopped
Mushrooms – 200gms,sliced
Carrot – 1,sliced
Olive oil/Butter – 1 tbsp
Knorr Mushroom Soup packet – 1
Water – 2 cups or more,as required
Salt and Pepper-to taste


In a pan add butter/olive oil and add the chopped onions.
When they start browning,add the mushrooms and carrot and sauté on medium heat till the mushrooms cooks well.
Now add the soup powder and keep stirring.
Add a cup of water and mix well and break lumps,if any.
Depending on the consistency[I wanted a semi-thick consistency]add more water.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot on a bed of Herb rice.

Herbed Rice


Cooked rice – 1 cup
Dried herbs/Parsley – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Butter – 1 tbsp


In a pan add butter and mix in the rice.
Stir well so that the butter coats the rice evenly.
Add dried herbs and salt to taste.

P.S – Though this one tasted good,I felt it lacked something.Was I supposed to cook the rice with the herbs??Please help!!

Corn on the side
Recipe adapted from


Sweetcorn - of 2 freshly boiled cobs
Garlic - 3-4 cloves; finely chopped
Fresh coriander - a handful ; finely chopped
Roasted red chili flakes - 1/4 tsp
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste


Heat butter in a pan on low. Add the garlic & saute for a minute.
Add the sweetcorn,roasted red chili flakes,chopped coriander & salt to taste.
Saute it on high flame for 5-7 minutes till the edges of the corn begin to brown. Take off heat, squeeze in some lime & toss well.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Garlic Bread

Well,it came straight out of the box from from my Birthday dinner:).You can check out instant garlic bread recipe

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Birthdays are always special.Whether it is you who are celebrating or someone close to you.I always looked forward to that special day in my life every year[I am sure most of us do:)].In school,where we were permitted to wear ‘colour dress’ while everyone else wore the boring uniforms,preparations started almost months back.As to what I would wear to who will accompany me to distribute chocolates.Shopping was done usually the previous day,lest I change my mind later:).Little tricks that amma learnt.

Amma always woke me up with a kiss and her birthday wish.Then it was appa’s turn and then my bro’s.Now of course,the baton has turned to Ajay.He has to[yup,its compulsory,lol] wish me at midnight and has to[:)] wish me throughout the day.Gifts would be chosen much beforehand,he just has to buy it for me..afterall,its my birthday:).He feels I would grow out of it after sometime,hah wishful thinking my dear.

Had a fantastic birthday this year too.Thank you all for wishing me through mails,phone calls,sms's and messages on Facebook and Orkut.Love you all,you just made me day extra special.

Made a simple Chocolate cake[Eggless] and that’s all the cooking I did.Ajay took me out the whole day not letting me do any cooking.We cut the cake in the evening with friends and then later ordered Pizza.Hmm,back to the grind from today..why don’t the birthdays come twice every year;).
Chocolate Birthday Cake
Recipe adapted from Divine Taste


Plain Flour/Maida – 200gms
Cocoa powder – 50 gms[I used Cadbury's]
Baking powder – 2 tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Sweetened condensed milk/Milkmaid – 1 tin/400gms
Butter,melted – 150 gms
Vanilla essence – 2 tsp
Water – 150 ml


Grease and line the bottom of a 9” round cake tin with greaseproof paper/baking parchment/butter paper.I used a heart shaped tin.
Preheat the oven at about 100 to 120 degrees centigrade.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda.
In a mixing bowl,add the sifted flour mixture and make a well in the center.
Add in the condensed milk, melted butter, vanilla essence and water. Beat with an electric hand mixer, whisk or spoon just until the mixture is uniform and smooth and there are no lumps.Take care not to overbeat as this tends to make the texture of the cake hard.
Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for an hour at 150 degree centigrade.

For the icing


Icing sugar – 2 cups,sifted
Cocoa powder – 2 tbsp
Butter – 90 gms,softened
Vanilla essence – 2 tsp

Mix together everything in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon till smooth.
If the mix is too thick,you could add a few tbsp milk to ‘loosen’ it,but add only if required.

Assembling the Cake

Level the top part of the cake with a serrated knife and the cut the cake into 2 or 3 horizontally[I cut into 2].
Fill and cover with the icing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Deluxe [Classic] Brownies!!

I’ve often wondered how I crave for stuff when its shown on tv,like the Maggi noodles ad.Yesterday,I almost got up instantly from the sofa to make myself a hot bowl of maggi when I saw the boy licking his bowl clean in the ad.Few days back,while watching Notting Hill,in the scene where they have dinner together and fight for the last brownie,I was drooling and wanted to have it for myself.I wondered why I haven’t made a brownie in ages.Leave alone bake,I can’t remember the last time I had a brownie.

To be frank,I expect my brownie to be chewy and fudgy and full of chocolatey goodness.I wasn’t sure if I could recreate that taste,so maybe that’s why I didn’t try baking it myself.I’ve bookmarked so many recipes for the same,but didn’t take the plunge.

Enter Betty Crocker.Yeah,I just cant stop raving about the book I bought recently.For those who asked,I got it from one of the Book Fairs going around in Ernakulam.Though I don’t see myself baking/trying out all the recipes,they are a treat for the eye..such goodlooking pictures..:)

So here’s the first recipe I tried..and loving it..:)

Deluxe [Classic] Brownies
Recipe source – Betty Crocker’s Baking for Today

Ingredients [Makes 16 brownies]

Butter/Margarine – 2/3 cup[about 150 gms]
Unsweetened chocolate – 5 oz[about 140 gms]
Sugar – 1 ¾ cup – I reduced it to a cup and a half
Vanilla extract/essence – 2 tsps
Eggs – 3
All purpose flour – 1 cup
Chopped nuts – 1 cup – I used walnuts


Heat oven to 350F/175C.*
Grease/line bottom and sides of a 9’ square pan.
In a saucepan,melt butter and chocolate over low heat,stirring frequently-cool slightly.
In a medium bowl,beat sugar,vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes.Beat in chocolate mixture over low speed.
Beat in flour just until blended.Stir in nuts.Spread in pan.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or just until edges crack and brownies pull away from sides of pan,
Cool and cut into 4 rows by rows.

*Set the temperature according to your oven-my brownies started to burn slightly by 25 minutes,so I loosely covered the pan with a foil and proceeded by setting the temp to 150C and increased the baking time.Though the crust looks a li’l burnt,it didn’t affect the taste in any way!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Praline Vanilla Sponge Gateau

It's tough really,to decide if you are addicted to something or not!!.While at it,I thought it would be impossible for me to live without blogging,blog-hopping and the latest craze-Farmville on Fb.When I took a short break[I was at my mom’s place in Kerala]the internet connection was quite slow and it took ages for me to even log in,ok not exactly.I thought I’d die of a no-internet life,but strange,after the first day,I kept myself distanced from it and in a few days,totally forgot about it!!I am surprised myself..:)

I am back in Chennai now,though totally not loving it-after 2 weeks of pampered life.Hmm..:).As usual,got a few stuff from there which I am totally excited about.Got Betty Crocker’s book-Baking for Today at a throwaway price..I am still not done looking at the pics..:),got a few baking tins,a Xmas tree shaped one,another one which almost looks like a Bundt tin and a Brownie pan.

Got to start baking in a few days..:).
Made this cake a while back,about 2 months back for a friend’s wedding anniversary.Ria has got some amazing baking recipes up her sleeve and this has become our favourite.This should be one of the instant-est cakes I’ve ever made.Got a party invite at 4 in the evening and by 6,I was ready with the cake..:).Good I say..:).Though the pictures don’t do justice,it was a delicious cake with a classic touch to it.

Praline Vanilla Sponge Gateau

Recipe adapted verbatim from Ria

For the sponge

Vanilla- 1 tsp


Beat eggs and sugar till thick and creamy and falls in thick ribbons when poured from a height (approx. 8-10 mins).
Then add in flour ,vanilla and beat till it forms a real thick batter which is almost mousse like(approx.4-5 mins) [I know that for a sponge we should be very careful not to let the air escape and we need to fold in the flour little by little. BUT for this cake this method works like a charm! :) ]
Pour into a prepared round tin and bake in an empty pressure cooker sans the weight for 5 mins on high flame and then reduce the flame to medium high and bake for 20 mins. [You must put in a steel ring/holder and then place the cake tin on it.]
Open the lid and do a skewer test to see if the cake is done.
Take the tin out of the cooker and let it cool in tin for 10 mins.
Remove the cake from the tin and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

You can bake the same in an oven at 180 degrees for 25-30 mins or till done.I baked it in the oven.

Basic Butter Icing

Unsalted butter, softened-75 g
Icing sugar-140 g
Milk-1-2 tbsp ( optional)

Mix butter and powdered sugar to a smooth paste like consistency.
Add milk if you need to make it a bit more loose.
If you like your icing to be thick , double the recipe.


Butter-1 tbsp
Cashewnuts-2 tbsp
Sugar-3 tbsp

Caramelise sugar on a medium flame till golden brown.
Add nuts & butter to it and mix well.
Pour onto a butter/tissue/parchment paper and let it cool completely.
Crush/powder them into tiny bits.

Assembling the cake

Cut the cake horizontally into 2 or 3 [I cut it into 2].Me too.
Sandwich each layer with 3-4 tbsp of butter icing.
Sprinkle some praline in between the layers (optional)
Spread the remaining icing on top and sides.
Sprinkle the crushed praline on top and on sides.
Cut into wedges and serve.

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