Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Indian Cooking Challenge ~ Rava Laddoo

Accepting a challenge made me feel so good.When Srivalli announced the Indian Cooking Challenge,without giving it a second thought,I jumped in.Now,when I actually think about it,well..I’m getting jittery.There are so many items which popped up in the poll which sound Herculean to me and many more which I am not much fond of.But it’s a challenge and you can’t go back on your word,isnt it?:)

For this month,it was decided that before the Challenge begins,we’ll have a red carpet dish..er trial dish before the REAL challenge.Srivalli suggested Rava Laddoo and it was accepted by all.Why is it that this sweet is tried out by many except me,Oh yeah,it happens to me all the time:).I remember having mouthful of this laddoo during Diwali,when this was made in huge numbers.I don’t remember ever helping out amma while making these and anyway,I suck at shaping them in perfect rounds,so amma could very well do without my help;).

I was hesitant at the outcome of the laddoos,but the recipe is quite easy and I didn’t get any major hiccups while doing it.I was apprehensive about the shape too,but I guess they look fine.

So let me introduce the first dish or rather the trial dish for the Indian Cooking Challenge-Rava Laddoo.

Cooking method- I followed the exact recipe given by Srivalli[you can check out the recipe in her blog here].

Rava laddoo

Ingredients- Makes- 10 Laddoos of normal size[I got 20 small sized laddoos]

Rava / Semolina - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Ghee - 25 gms
Milk - 25 ml
Grated fresh coconut - 25 gms
Cardamom powder - a pinch
Cashew nuts - 10 whole nuts
Raisins - 10 nos


Heat 2 tsp of ghee in a kadai.
Once the ghee is hot enough, simmer the flame and roast cashew nuts and raisins. Once the raisins balloon up, remove.
Then roast the grated coconut. Remove once done.
Keep all these aside.

Add the remaining ghee and roast the Rava till its well roasted and aroma starts coming out.
In a bowl, take all the roasted Rava, Nuts, Coconut and add the Cardamom powder. Then add the sugar. Mix well.[I skipped this step,instead,I added everything into the kadai afer roasting the rava and continued with the recipe].

Then slowly add the warm milk into the bowl. Check if you are able to gather as balls. When you find that milk added is enough to get you laddos, transfer it back to the kadai and simmer for 2 mins.

Mix well and then cover it and let it rest for 2 mins. Then immediately make balls or laddoos.

I enjoyed this month's challenge,trial dish actually-nevertheless.I am looking forward to the upcoming challenges..way to go:)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Poori with Aamras

While in college,the only time I properly ate food was during breakfast.Lunch was a quick bite and a cold drink,tea was gulped down hurriedly and dinner was had in front of tv or while on the phone.I guess those five years in College were the only times I troubled amma being a teen[almost out of teens,teen:)].Soon after I got married and even though I whipped up few stuff in my kitchen,I struggled with what-to-make-for-breakfast thoughts.Both amma and ma-in-law made varieties of food for breakfast day after day and all I could think of was making dosas or idlies of readymade batter:).

I’ve come a far route from those days and can think of many ideas even if I don’t have any leftover batter[home-made;)].

I first had Poori and Aamras at one of hubby’s cousins wedding.I was blown away with the yummy combination,something I’ve never had before.After a while,we cousins stopped having poori and had only bowlfuls of aamras.We almost felt dizzy afterwards,eating so much of it:).

Summers are the best times to try out such royal dishes for breakfast since mangoes are available in abundance.We couldn’t stop eating this yummilicious breakfast:).

Poori with Aamras

For making the Poori

Atta – 2-3 cups
Salt to taste
Water – as required to knead the dough[about 1 cup]

Oil – to deep fry


Mix salt with atta,add water and make a firm dough.
Knead the dough for a few minutes till the surface becomes smooth.

Poori dough should be firmer than chapathi dough or else it will soak up too much oil.

Pinch off small balls of the dough,flatten with a rolling pin and deep fry them in hot oil,till they puff up and become golden brown.

Check out Indira’s and Shilpa’s Poori pictorial for more info.

For making the Aamras

Mango pulp – about 2 cups
Sugar – 2-3 tsp
Milk – ¾ cup
Saffron strands – 2-3

Crushed cardamom - seeds of 1 or 2


Make a smooth puree of mango pulp,sugar and milk.
Add saffron,crushed cardamom and mix well.
The texture of the aamras should be such that it should fall in dollops when served.
Chill and serve with piping hot Pooris.

Make the most of this combo during the the Mango season;)

Sending this across to Divya for her Show me Your Breakfast event


To Srivalli for her Mango Mela.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Palmiers~Little Hearts

Few years back,when my brother was doing his studies in MIT-Manipal,I used to look forward to his term-break trips back home.I knew that he would bring me stuff from a duty-paid shop nearby.Stuff like Kit-Kat[when it was not yet launched in India] and Little Heart biscuits were my favourites.I just couldn’t have enough of them.Soon after they were available everywhere and I lost interest in them.I think it had more to do with *my-brother-brought-it-for-me* stuff:)

My interest in Little heart biscuits grew further when I saw it in many blogs.Divya and Cham had made it with Puff pastry sheets making them more tempting for me.I had decided that those would be the first stuff I would try when I get puff pastry sheets.After a long delay,I made these.I had a few sheets leftover from the Veg Puffs and instead of re-storing it,I made these cutey little hearts which were gone the minute they came out of the oven.

I don’t think mine came anywhere near the real ones in terms of looks,but we loved the crispy and crunchy and mildly sweet home-made little hearts.My vanni tried it too and below is her little hearts;)

Little Hearts


Puff pastry - 1
Sugar - few tbsp


Thaw the puff pastry according to the instructions given.
In a clean work surface,sprinkle some flour and sugar and keep the pastry sheet on top.
Sprinkle some more sugar on top and slightly roll it with a rolling pin.
Find the middle of the sheet and mark it with a knife.
Start rolling from either sides till both sides reach the middle.
Now the sheet will resemble a log,cut it into small ½ inch thick strips.
Place them in a greased baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes or till they become evenly brown.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Aviyal ~ A medley of Vegetables!!

Few people talk fondly about their canteen/mess food.My cousin S actually looked forward to her canteen food,can you believe that??Her school had a canteen which served piping hot food.She used to rave about the bubbling in the pan Sambhar,full of flavour Aviyal,crispy papads,a bowl of curd and it's so hot you can’t even touch kind of rice.Every morning,even if she forgot to take her books,she diligently packed her plate inside her school bag[every one were required to carry their own plates to the canteen].

For my part,as clichéd as it may sound,my school /college canteen sucked big time.Of all the years I’ve spent in the campus[almost 17 years,starting from K.G till my graduation days]I must have gone to the canteen 2-3 times,that too when I was forced to accompany some friends.It was a convent run canteen and the fish-non-veg stink was too much for me to bear.I am not being judgemental here,I have no qualms in having food along with my non-veg friends,but its just that the smell from the canteen used to put me off.

It's funny how people think vegetarians only have one sambhar and one aviyal to eat and nothing else.Many feel that we are losing out on stuff because we don’t eat non-veg.

Ok,has it started to appear that I am on a rant mode-it wouldn’t be surprising if I told you that off late I’ve been showered with compliments like –I’ll run out of recipes for my ”only vegetarian blog”.So I thought I will post this life-saver dish for vegetarians;).Of course,Aparna’s post inspired me to dig out the photos of this dish from my drafts.You can read all about Aviyal’s origin and the stories associated with it here.

Aviyal ~ A medley of Vegetables!!

Usually,in Kerala,all Naadan-Homegrown vegetables are used for aviyal.Ash gourd/Coloured cucumber,Yam,Brinjal,Yardlong beans,Drumsticks,Raw banana,Snake gourd&Green chilly.All the vegetables are sliced lengthwise and are used in a descending order-more of ash gourd,little less yam,even little brinjal and so on.
Due to the unavailability of many of these vegetables,new ones like Carrots,Beans,Potatoes etc have been added to the aviyal.As they say-anything goes into the aviyal-the more the merrier!!

Mixed vegetables about 3-4 cups – I used ash gourd,pumpkins,carrots,beans,drumsticks and yam
Green chillies – 2-3,chopped lengthwise
Raw mango* – ½ of 1 small one-cut lengthwise

To be ground to a coarse paste

Grated coconut – ½ of one coconut
Haldi/turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Jeera – ½ tsp

Coconut oil – 3-4 tbsp
Curry leaves – 2-3 sprigs

Chop the vegetables lengthwise[about the size of your small finger].Wash and keep aside.
Grind the grated coconut,haldi and jeera to a coarse paste without adding water,keep aside.
In a thick bottomed kadai/pan add the coconut oil and add all the vegetables into it.
Keep mixing till the oil coats the vegetables.
Add water-not much[about 1/2 cup should do]just enough to cover the vegetables and green chillies and cook the vegetables till soft.Take care not to overcook.
Add salt and the chopped raw mango to the cooked vegetables,mix well and then add the ground paste.
Spread the paste on top and cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes,open the lid,mix everything.
Add a tbsp of coconut and fresh curry leaves.
Serve hot!!
*If raw mango is not available,you can use ½ a cup of curd/yogurt.

Aviyal is more of a side-dish than a gravy and the doneness is checked by the texture of the cooked vegetables coated with the ground coconut mix.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Icing

A year back,if someone told me that my parents would keep a pet[that too a dog] inside our house,I would have looked at them as though they were insane.Appa had real hardcore reasons for Why NOT to keep a pet at home.Amma ran miles away at the mere mention of pets.Me,well I could very well do without one.My brothers and hubby were all for it and they tried every trick in the book to make us see sense in their ideas.

Today,we are celebrating Pluto’s first birthday.Appa gives him* his daily dose of sweet,amma sings Happy Birthday and I am baking a birthday cake for him.

What brought about so much of a change in our attitude?I guess you will know it only if you live with it.The unconditional love of a pet dog will make the most hardest of hard rocks melt.My brother brought him home less than a year back,when he was a month old.He instantly became everyone’s darling.When amma called me up and said,he would be waiting for me next time I go there,I went eeesshh.But I too was spellbound at the way the love he shared with all of us.

Today,he’s the darling of the house.We call him our brother.A dear part of all of us.The little I could do is to bake a cake for him.He loves sweets and I am sure he’ll lick my hands off if I were to serve it to him.
We couldn't keep our hands off it ourselves:)

Love you Pluto…Happy Birthday to you!!!

*We refuse to call him IT:)

Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Icing


Maida – ½ cup
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Powdered sugar – ½ cup
Eggs – 2
Cocoa powder – 2 tsp
Granulated sugar – 2 tsp
Milk – ¼ cup
Oil – ½ cup
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp


Preheat oven to 170*C.
Grease and line a square cake tin.
Sift together maida and baking powder.
Beat the eggs well - you can either use an electric beater or a hand mixer.
Add the powdered sugar and mix well to form a creamy mixture.
Add the cocoa powder and sugar to it and mix.
Now add the oil and milk and beat well.
Add the flour little by little.Make sure there are no lumps-the batter will be quite liquidy.
Pour into the greased pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the tin for a while and then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing

Softened butter – ½ cup
Icing sugar – 1 ½ cups
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Cocoa powder – 1 tsp

Cream together butter and icing sugar till soft and creamy.
Add cocoa powder and vanilla essence to the butter-sugar mix and beat well.
Keep aside in the refrigerator or a few minutes.
Spread on the cool cake and serve!!

Recipe source - Vanitha Magazine

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ambya Ambat ~ Mango cooked in Dal-Coconut Gravy

Is there something called too-much-mangoes?I don’t think so:).Last year we didn’t have much during the mango season but this year we are making the most of it.The-so-called best of the lot Alphonso mangoes have not been so good this time and we stick to the good ol’ Chennai special Banganapally mangoes always.

They are so good to eat by themselves and I don’t feel like using them up in our cooking.But our mango-shopping last time gave us a few not-so sweet mangoes which were perfect to use up in cooking.I decided to make the most of it by making some Aamras and Ambya ambat.Ambat is a sweet dish made using ripe fruits and combining them with a dal and coconut mix.I usually make ambat using bananas[nendrapazham].I wanted to make this one as it is one of my dad’s favourites.He celebrated his birthday few days back and this one’s for him:).

Ambya Ambat ~ Mangoes cooked in Dal-Coconut gravy


Ripe Mango – 1,chopped into cubes
Channa dal – 100 gms,about ½ a cup
Grated Jaggery – 4 tbsp
Grated coconut - 1 cup

Red chilly - 1
Haldi/turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Cashewnuts - a handful

For the seasoning

Oil/ghee(or a mix of both) - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a sprig


Cook the Channa dal and the cashewnuts in a pressure cooker till done.Channa dal should be just cooked enough,not mushy.
Add the chopped mangoes and cook till soft.
When the mangoes are soft add jaggery and salt and mix well till the jaggery melts and blends with the dal.
Make a smooth paste of coconut,haldi and red chilly.
Add this to the cooked channa dal-mango mix.
Mix well and let it boil.
Prepare seasoning in a pan with oil,splutter mustard seeds and add curry leaves.Add it to the boiling ambat.
Serve hot!!
Sending this across to Srivalli for her Mango Mela!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Veg Puffs and the Puff Pastry Saga:)

Scene One
Venue – Nuts N Spices – Spencer Plaza,Chennai

My first visit there,I was amused by the array of goodies they had.Had passed the shop many times before,but never thought they stacked anything other than nuts and spices:).Little did I know,they had almost everything I had thought was unavailable in Chennai.Baking ingredients,cooking chocolate,vanilla beans,chocolate-butterscotch chips,different types of sugars,all types of sauces,cake-mixes etc etc.I just had a teeny weeny hope that they might stock puff pastry too,seeing the overstacked freezer.I decided to ask the salesman.

Me – Ahem..excuse me..do you have puff pastry??
Him – Huh..what?
Me – Puff pastry?
Him – Illa ma,puff-um pastry-um ingey kidaikkathu[no,we don’t have Puffs(as in Veg-egg puffs) and pastries here]:)
Me – uh uh,not that.Puff pastry sheets..??
Him – Sheet ellam Landmark-ila thaan kidaikkum[You will get sheets(as in paper)in Landmark(another shop)-I tried not hard not to laugh but I could see hubby and my bro looking elsewhere and laughing uncontrollably]
Me – ok,fine!!

My co-sis brought them for me from abroad,during their last India trip.

Scene Two

Hubby – Div,whats this huge stack of rolls inside the freezer?
Me – *Like I suddenly remembered something look*,Oh,those are Puff Pastry sheets.
Hubby – Are’nt these the ones you kept reminded Vanni[my co-sis] about??
Me – Hmm yeah..
Hubby – Then how come you haven’t done anything with it..??
Me – Yeah..soon!!

Yesterday,it was *soon* and I unpacked the puff pastry sheets,made a regular veggie filling and made Veg puffs.I am still amazed how easy it was and how quickly it got done.I envy all of you who have access to readymade puff pastry sheets.If I had to make those on my own,the idea of making puffs would be put off forever:).So here’s a very basic recipe for the filling.

Veg Puffs


Puff pastry sheet – 1 roll
Flour to dust

For the filling

Potato – 2,medium
Carrot – 1
Baby corn – 1
Green peas – ½ cup
Cauliflower florets – 3-4
Onions – 2,small

Oil – 1 tbsp
Jeera – ½ tsp
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Haldi powder – ½ tsp
Cumin-Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Red chilly powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Chat masala – 1 tsp
Salt to taste


Chop the vegetables finely.
Cook them till soft,but not mushy.
Drain them and keep aside.
In a kadai,add oil and splutter jeera.Add onions and ginger garlic paste and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add the masala powders – haldi,cumin-coriander,garam masala,chat masala and red chilly powders.
Saute till everything gets mixed.
Add the cooked vegetables and salt to taste.
Mix well and keep aside to cool.

Thaw the puff pastry sheets according to the instructions given.
Cut them into small squares/rectangles.
Dust some flour on your working surface and roll these squares/rectangles to slightly bigger sizes.
Keep the filling in the middle and seal the edges.
Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes at 180*C.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

From your Blogs # 6 ~ Cooking with Nags!!

For me,one of the biggest joys of blogging is,when someone tries out a dish from the blog and likes it.More so,if the person is a blogger-blogs about it.Few weeks back,I was in Kerala attending a cousin’s wedding.I was introduced to someone from my cousin's family and while we were talking,she said she checks out my blog quite often.I was dumbstruck with a wide open jaw;).I just couldn’t hide my astonishment and rest of the day saw me smiling and giggling all the while.I guess that’s the power of blogging!!

Since last 2-3 months,I’ve not been been blogging quite regularly.Reasons being,a)Lazy b)I was travelling and out of station,c)Lazy,d)I fell sick,e)Lazy..you get the picture don’t you:).But hey,everyone goes through that phase na..c’mon I need those assured nods;).I haven’t been cooking anything new too,just the same old stuff.So that’s another reason.I knew I had to pull up my socks when I got mails and sms’s from friends asking me why there were no updates.It does feel good when someone makes you feel wanted!!

I’ve been trying out several recipes from your blogs,but today its exclusively a post with dishes I’ve tried out from Nags’ blog.I’m sure many of you have tried out her recipes since her dishes are always quite simple and do-able.I hopped on to her blog through her sis Bharathy and I was hooked.I love her no-nonsense posts and now her step-by-step recipe series,which actually made me try out those recipes.I still have bookmarked so many recipes,but for now I’ve chosen these..

Simple White Bread – As much as I would have loved to flick the title from this post,I stick with the original name:).I am at a loss as to describe how it was..I think more than the taste or looks,I was more happy about the fact that the wonderful smell in the kitchen of fresh bread baking was thanks to her….:).I was literally jumping with joy.I baked my first bread loaf..yippee!!!

Pumpkin Erissery – I had bookmarked this recipe when she posted it and was in love with the cute pumpkins.I don’t think anyone could have made pumpkins look so pretty and cute other than her and I think I told her that too:).We make a similar curry called Alchikeri[note the similarity?!] which is one of my favorites.I loved this one too and have made it a couple of times ever since!!

Spicy baby potatoes – She says she flicked it from her sisters blog and me..I have flicked it from hers.And let me tell you,its worth flicking;).A great side dish with dal or sambhar,the baby potatoes surely won me over!!

Butterscotch Blondies – I was in love with this at first sight.Taking step by step pictures while cooking it on your own is not my forte and I am in awe with those who do it effortlessly:).The moment I purchased those cute butterscotch chips,I decided to make this one.Only thing,I substituted the brown sugar with regular white sugar and some of the blondies got stuck to the pan and refused to come out looking pretty.They tasted great though,prompting me and hubby to name them – Butterscotch Crumble!!

Eggless Chocolate Melting Moments – I have no words to describe this beauty,I would just say-truly delicious and yeah,best for gifting.I’m sure it would make people[to whom you are gifting it to] think you are a domestic-baking Goddess:).

And now last but not the least – Stuffed Gobi Paratha – Another one in the step by step category.I had planned to make this long back when she said making it was an easy peasy job.But you know how much I’m scared of stuffed parathas.I have nightmares that the stuffing would come out while rolling and that’s why I kept delaying it.I pulled up my socks and attempted it finally…this one got a 11/10 from hubby,the icing on the cake being his comment that he liked it better than the Aloo paratha..now now that’s one compliment I treasure!!

I have also tried out her Carrot Rice,the pic I'm not able to find from the files now.Also her Ghee Roasted bananas for MBP-Event.

Recipes I'm planning to try out - Vanilla Pound Cake,Marie Biscuit Chocolate Logs,Puliogare and Easy Broccoli Soup.Also the Rich dark Chocolate Cake,only if it was in Cup measures than grams:)

Thank you Nags,for these wonderful recipes!!I would surely make these again!!

And thank you for those wonderful tips on Food Photography.I have benefited a lot from it,though its not quite visible from the pics I take..still;)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Coffee Cake with Coffee Buttercream Icing

One thing I always check while going through a new blog or cooking site is the baked goodies/cakes section.I jot down recipes which sound appealing to me[almost 90% of them do;)].My recipe book is over flowing with recipes now,mainly baked goodies since I never know when baking bug would hit me and I’ll have to rush to the kitchen,and not let the thought of logging on to the net and searching for the recipe deter my spirits.

I had bookmarked and written down Deeba’s Coffee Mocha Gateau long back and every time I set out to make it,I develop cold feet[yeah,that happens when you decide to attempt Deeba-the Passionate Baker’s recipes].I felt I wasn’t yet ready for it,but I badly wanted to try out a Coffee flavored cake.I remembered my Vanni’s[co-sis] recipe which she had given to me long back while I was trying out Microwave recipes.I tried it out with a few changes.This one is in fact a MW cake recipe,but here,I have baked it in the convection mode.

A wonderful cake with a subtle coffee flavor,it was liked by all.Perfect for that coffee craving and I’m sure it would taste great with a cup of piping hot coffee.It can be made without icing too.So what are you waiting for..??:)

Coffee Cake with Coffee Buttercream Icing


Flour/Maida – 1 cup
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Brown sugar – ¾ cup[I used regular white sugar]
Butter,softened – ¾ cup
Instant Coffee powder – 3 tbsp [I used little less than 2 tbsp-increase/decrease according to your taste]
Boiling water – 1 tbsp
Eggs - 2
Vanilla essence – 2 tsp
Milk – ¼ cup


Preheat oven to 180*C.
Grease and line an 8’ round cake tin.
Sift together maida and baking powder twice and keep aside.
Mix together coffee powder and boiling water.
Cream the butter and sugar till fluffy.
Add the eggs one by one,beating well all the while.
Add vanilla essence and beat well.
Alternately add the flour and milk to the mix,beginning and ending with flour.
Pour into the greased cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.

Microwave instructions - MW on 80% for 8 minutes.

Coffee Buttercream Icing

Softened butter – ½ cup
Icing sugar – 2 cups
Instant coffee powder – 1 tbsp
Boiling water – 1 tbsp

Cream together butter and icing sugar till soft and creamy.
Mix together coffee powder and boiling water.
Add it to the butter-sugar mix and beat well.
Keep aside in the refrigerator or a few minutes.
Spread on the cool cake and serve!!
I sprinkled some grated chocolate on top--for me,a cake without chocolate is kind of incomplete..so..:)

Sending this across to Birthday-baby Ria,who is celebrating Cakes,Cookies and Cocktails in her blog:).

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Strawberry Granita

Last week,during our regular veggie shopping,we saw a small stall called Tropical snow outside the shop and decided to check it out.It turned out to be a flavoured-shaved-ice stall,in short-something like candy or ice-stick,as it is commonly known.One spoon into it and so many memories came juggling into my mind.I’ve always loved ice-candy and still prefer it to a dollop of ice-cream.Maybe it’s the child-like feeling that draws me to it,I do get transported back into childhood with a single lick;)

Some time back,I had written down a recipe for Strawberry Granita from one of the cookery shows on Tv.I have never tasted a granita,but the end product they showed looked quite similar to a melted ice-candy.Since it was made using Strawberry crush*,the recipe was quite an easy one.I decided to make it when the temperature soared to 42*C and Chennaites were left to the mercy of the SunGod!!

Strawberry Granita


Strawberry Crush – 2 tbsp
Ice cubes – 10-12
Powdered sugar – 1 tbsp


In the small jar[Chutney jar] of your mixer,add all the ingredients together and grind till the ice cubes get crushed and everything is mixed well.
Serve immediately!!

Isn’t that an easy-peasy recipe??
Sending this across to Happy Cook for her Strawberry Feast.
*Strawberry crush is a squash like thingy made of strawberry extracts.It can be mixed with water or milk for a refreshing drink.
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