Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sheera~Sooji Halwa

Today is the first day of the nine-day festival of Navrathri.There is festive spirit all around with people setting up their Golu and getting prepared for the visits and fun.I am invited to many houses too and boy,I love wearing a saree and visiting my neighbours' home and look forward to the goodie bag they give,the Sundal for the day and the bangles.

Only thing which annoys me is the request for a song.Not a single visit goes by without the hostess saying,"sing a song",or rather "oru paattu paadu ma".Any excuses of sore throat or bad voice or even ignorance does not work here,so I give in most of the times.Now who wants to hear me sing??
I decided to start the day with a sweet prasadam.Sheera or sooji halwa is one of the easiest prasadams you can make in a jiffy.I do have my trusted recipe here,but since today is Wednesday,the day we blog-hop I picked the recipe from Shireen's blog Ruchik Randhap.Shireen is a Manglorean and I identify so much with her style of cooking though the methods are a bit different.
Blog-hop Wednesdays is an event started by Radhika,wherein we are assigned a blog every alternate Wednesday and we are supposed to cook from that blog and blog about it.What a great way to get to know each others blogs and bring variety to the dining table!
Sheera~Sooji Halwa
Recipe source - Ruchik Randhap


Sooji rava/semolina - 1 cup
Water - 1 cup 
Milk - 1 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Salt - a pinch
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Cashewnuts - 10
Raisins - 6
Saffron - a few strands soaked in milk


In a sauce pan,boil together milk and water,mix in salt and sugar and switch off the flame.Keep it warm.
In a thick bottomed pan,melt ghee and roast the cashewnuts till golden brown and raisins till they puff up.Drain and keep aside.
Roast the rava in the same pan till it slightly starts turning golden brown.
Mix in the milk-water-sugar mixture and the saffron and keep stirring.When everything gets mixed and the rava starts forming lumps,close with a lid and let it cook for a minute or so.
Open the pan and add a tsp of ghee(optional)and mix it well.Mix in the roasted cashews and raisins.
Serve warm.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Love your Blog ~ Amanda's I am baker

If you love baking or you love reading baking blogs,you shouldn't miss Amanda's blog.I discovered I am Baker sometime back and I am hooked to it.Amanda is a mother of four and churns out baking goodies one after the other,not only for her family,but for her friends and acquaintances as well-how sweet is that!

Amanda is a pro in Cake decorating,still she challenges herself from time to time by decorating different cakes using the same icing tip.Check this out-

Wilton grass tip for 3 different Cakes

Cake by the Numbers

She also posts detailed tutorials for beginner cake decorators with step by step pictures.

Lilac Cake Tutorial

Rose Cake Tutorial

Rose Cookie Tutorial

Vertical Layer Cake Tutorial

Have you ever seen a cake with 25 layers?Amanda thinks she's crazy to attempt something like this but someone who struggles with even 2-3 layers,I feel it isn't crazy from any angle.It is sheer determination.Check out her 25 layered July 4th Cake.

When she had a baby boy,she made these cookies to celebrate and share it with her family,friends and hospital staff.

It's a Boy Cookies

Check out how she used one cake mix to make 6 different cakes in jars for a deserving family who had just had their first baby.

Her Mother's day cake almost had me teary eyed,which mother wouldn't like to have a cake like this?

Last but not the least,here is a Homemade Cake recipe mix which she uses for most of her cakes.
Homemade White Cake mix

*All pictures published with the bloggers permission.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Eggless Chocolate Walnut Cake


It's been a while since I baked last.I mean,in my kitchen and in my oven.When I was in my hometown a while back,me and amma did a good amount of baking together.I had compiled a list of Eggless recipes and we baked a cake/cookie everyday I was there.The star of course,was Nankhatai.I will share the recipe for THE Nankhatai in a while.The best I've made so far.

Amma isn't very fond of Chocolate cakes,so despite wanting to bake this cake for long,I had to skip baking this.Made a mental note to bake this as soon as I landed in Chennai,but it wasn't to be.Life's quite busy these days and to measure,sift,line the pan and bake did seem like a bit too much work,yes it happens to me too!
While watching Masterchef last night,I saw this fudgy,gooey chocolate cake they made for a team challenge and thought to myself-this is it!I got to buck up and bake and the first bake after the break's got to be a chocolate cake.(it rhymes!!)

The recipe is quite easy to put together.It uses oil in place of butter(no waiting for butter to soften)and chopped walnuts and chocolate chips(my addition)as a natural topping.I love the combination of chocolate and walnut and added a tsp of instant coffee to the batter to pep up the flavor and the resulting cake's a winner.Fudgy and chocolatey with the crunch of walnuts,this one's truly a chocoholics treat.
Eggless Chocolate Walnut Cake
Recipe adapted from PAB


Flour - 1 cup
Cocoa powder - 1/2 cup
Instant coffee powder - 1 tsp
Thick curd(homemade) - 1 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Baking powder - 1 1/4 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1/2 cup
Vanilla bean - 1/2 of 1 bean,scraped(or else use a tsp of Vanilla extract)
Chopped Walnuts - 1/2 cup
Vanilla bean sugar(or regular sugar) - 1 tbsp
Chocolate chips - 2 tbsp


Preheat oven to 200C.Grease and line an 8' round cake tin.
Sift together flour,cocoa powder and coffee powder,reserve. Picnik collage
In a mixing bowl,beat together sugar and yogurt till creamy.Mix in baking powder,baking soda and scraped vanilla bean,beat well and let it rest for a couple of minutes or till bubbles start to appear on top. Picnik collage
Beat in the oil.Add the sifted flour mix and beat till you get a smooth batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Picnik collage
Sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts,chocolate chips and sugar.
Bake at 200C for 10 minutes and 170C for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack for further cooling.
Picnik collage
  • Cool the cake completely before cutting.I was impatient and cut the cake while still warm(the batter was too delicious and I couldn't wait!).
  • The cake remains soft even after refrigeration,but if you are not eating it immediately,cover the cake with a cling film on top and warm it up in the microwave just before serving.
  • Though the cake is delicious on its own,it would pair up wonderfully with ice-cream or even some chilled coffee.
Similar recipes


Friday, September 16, 2011

Indian style Fried rice with Shahi Paneer

Disclaimer - This is NOT an authentic fried rice recipe,nor is it similar to Indo-Chinese rice recipes.

Long before Chinese food starting delighting our taste buds,at a time when restaurant outings and takeaways were not so popular,we had(and loved) this fried rice.I do not know from where amma learned to make this,but she has been making this ever since we were kids and to this day I prefer her way of fried rice to any restaurant's.When paired with a Paneer dish,the whole meal becomes a delicious package in itself.
I know,Fried rice is made with Chinese sauces & co,but amma makes it with Indian spices and hold your breath,without onion,ginger and garlic.Now I got your attention,didn't I?Then why don't we just name it Pulao or Biryani,well it is made just like fried rice substituting Chinese sauces with Indian spices,then why can it not be called Indian style Fried rice?

Ajay was aghast when I told him during one of our telecon's that my favorite meal would be fried rice with PBM.He sure hid his amusement,but I chuckled when he was silent for a while after that.Anyone would think I was insane.But believe me,for this fried rice,paneer is THE combination.Try it for yourself!

Indian style Fried rice

Basmati Rice - 1 cup
Carrot - 1 medium,chopped
Beans - 3-4,chopped
Baby corn - 1,chopped
Capsicum - 1/2 of 1 big,chopped
Cashewnuts - a handful,chopped(optional)
Ghee/Oil(or a mix of both) - 1 tbsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp(preferably homemade)
Salt to taste


Wash basmati rice well under running water in a shallow pan till the water runs clear.Soak for 10-15 minutes.
In a pan,add water and when it boils add the soaked and drained rice and cook till just done(the rice should break when you press it between your fingers,do not cook further as it would make the rice mushy).Drain and keep aside.
In a thick bottomed kadai,add ghee/oil(or both) and fry the cashewnuts till they turn golden brown,drain and keep aside.
Saute the vegetables starting with carrots,beans and baby corn.Cook on low flame(do not add water) till the vegetables are just cooked.Mix in the capsicum and the fried cashews.
Add garam masala and enough salt to taste.Mix well and do a taste check.
Switch off the flame and slowly mix in the cooked and cooled rice.
Warm the rice a little just before serving.

  • You could add any vegetables of your choice.I usually add tender leaves of cabbage and some times even broccoli too.Red and yellow capsicums too could be added to make the rice more colourful.
  • If you overcook the rice,wash it well under cool tap water and keep it refrigerated for half an hour or so.It would be easier to handle.

Shahi Paneer (without Onion&Garlic)
Recipe source - Manjula's Kitchen

I couldn't believe a north Indian gravy would taste this good without the usual onion-garlic masala paste.This is a mildly spiced curry perfect with rotis and rice and delicious when paired with Indian style Fried rice!


Paneer - 200 gms
Cashewnuts - 12
Tomatoes - 2,chopped
Green chilly - 1,chopped
Ginger - 1/2' piece
Oil - 3 tbsp
Jeera - 1 tsp
Asafoetida/Hing - a pinch
Bay leaf - 1
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder/haldi - 1/4 tsp
Curd - 1/2 cup,beaten well
Sugar - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Garam masala - 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves - 2-3 tbsps,chopped
Kasoori Methi - 1 tsp,crushed


Slice paneer into small cubes and shallow fry in a sauce pan with 1 tbsp oil till it starts turning golden brown.Flip and cook the other side too.Drain into a paper towel and keep aside.
Grind the cashews to a fine powder,keep aside.
Grind together tomatoes,green chilly and ginger to a smooth paste,keep aside.
In the same pan,add the remaining oil and when it turns hot,splutter jeera.Mix in hing and bay leaf and saute for a minute.
Add the tomato paste,coriander powder,red chilly powder and haldi and mix well.Cook the mixture,stirring occasionally till it reduces in volume(about4-5 minutes).
Mix in sugar,cashew powder and yogurt.Cook for a minute and then add the fried paneer pieces,a cup of water and salt to taste.Let it boil.
Cover the pan and simmer for a few minutes till the gravy starts turning thick.
Add garam masala,chopped coriander leaves and kasoori methi and turn off the heat.Mix gently and keep it covered for a few minutes.
Serve hot.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nimbya Solla Nonche ~Lime Peel Pickle & the Giveaway Winner

There is something special about homemade pickles.As I have shared before,we are not pickle fans.Yes,we do turn to our bottle of pickle when we have kanji or sometimes with dosa when there is no chutney or sometimes even idli.The bottom rack of my fridge is loaded with pickles,spoiling us for choices.So why did I make a fresh batch??
After a long time,I made some Lime sherbet.Every time I make it,I think of some ways to utilize the peels.I still have a dried Lime peel pickle made about 2 years back almost half a bottle full.So thought of doing a similar pickle like this and ended up with this delicious and tangy lime peel pickle.It has a very slight bitter aftertaste,probably because I used only the peels after squeezing out all the juice.You can try it like this or just quartered lime(without juicing).
Picnik collage 
Lime Peel Pickle

Lime peels,quartered - about 30-35 limes
Ginger - 1' piece,chopped fine

For the pickle masala

Red chillies - 100gms,a mix of Byadgi chillies and regular red chillies
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Hing/Asafoetida - 1tbsp
Salt - 1/4 cup(do a taste test before adding more salt)
Water - enough to grind the masala


If you are using fresh lime for this pickle,quarter the limes and put in a big mixing bowl.Or else,after juicing the limes,follow the same procedure.Mix in the chopped ginger.

For making the masala-In a mixer,add the red chillies and pulse for a while till they become powdery.
Add the mustard,salt and hing and add enough water to grind.Pulse till it becomes a smooth paste[it should not be grainy].
Mix this masala with the lime-ginger in the mixing bowl and give a good mix.
Add in more water if the pickle is too dry.I usually add some water to the mixer and add it.But do not add much water as the lime will start oozing water as it sits.
Do a taste test and check if it requires more salt or hing.
Keep it covered overnight or at least for 5-6 hours for the flavors to seep in.
Pour into sterilized jars and keep refrigerated for longer shelf life. IMG_6021

Now for the Giveaway winner.First of all,let me thank you for the overwhelming response.So many silent readers commented and said such nice things about the blog.Thank you,I am touched.I wish I could choose every one of you as winners!!But worry not,seeing the response,I am tempted to host more giveaways of such kind.All in good time.

The winner is Anna(chosen through the random tool).Congrats Anna,the Pigeon Handi is all yours:).Please send me your complete address with phone number to

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Onam Sadya @ Ente Keralam-Restaurant Review

Another Onam passed by.One of the most important thing we miss during Onam here is the Ona sadya.The variety of curries and savories and pickles,ah thinking about it itself is making my mouth water,and not to forget the payasams,most of the sadyas serve 4 of them!!I try and make Sadya every year with at least 1 payasam to get the Onam feel.This year though,we decided to relax and have it at Ente Keralam.

On Thiruvonam day,,along with a couple of my friends,we decided to recreate Onam festivity in Chennai,at least the Pookkalam/Flower bed part.Since almost all of us were novices,the outcome was nothing much to write home about,but we are quite proud of our effort:)
For lunch,we decided to head to Ente Keralam,one of the popular Kerala joints in the city.Dressed in ethnic Kerala attires,we were in for a shock when we stepped into the vicinity.There were hundreds of people waiting outside and all waiting for their turns.We almost decided to head back home,but what's a simple wait compared to a grand Onam sadya?
We got a table after almost a hour and a half wait.But credit has to be given to the manager who kept his cool and was very friendly,despite people breathing down his neck for their turns,including yours truly.
The sadya arrived almost five minutes later(which on regular days takes about 10-15 minutes),probably to serve more people.To be very honest,I was disappointed with the first impression.On normal days,the sadya is plated so beautifully,almost like a food pookkalam in itself.The pickles,curries and everything else causing a colour riot which soothes the eyes.As they say,you eat with your eyes first and then taste it.But here,it looked like it was done in a hurry-burry(which in reality could be the reason for the haphazard appearance).
A taste of everything and we were willing to let go the appearance and dived straight to the plate.We were quite hungry too so that could also be a reason.
As you can see from the pic above,the sadya was replete with all the regular Onam fare.My favorites were the madhura curry,koottu curry and the avial.Hungry or not,the meal overall was a delicious one.We glanced through the tables nearby and all of them were enjoying the sadya amidst serious talks about the rush waiting outside.Nobody wanted to finish their sadya in a hurry:)

Halfway through the sadya,we noticed that some of the regular sadya dishes were missing here.Like Olan,which is a main dish in sadya,instead of that there was a bowl of cut kumbalanga soaked in coconut oil which was something new to us.Also missing were Erissery,Rasam and Kichadi.But no complaints,the taste of whatever was served made up for it.

It was time for Payasam,the most awaited in any sadya.In fact,we restricted ourselves from having seconds because we wanted to have enough space left for the king of payasams and they didn't disappoint here.There were 4 payasams served.
We had a taste of each and were in a dilemma which one to finish first.Kept the paalada aside as we wanted to save the best for last:).Though we were not very happy regarding the quantity of paalada served,in reality,after the grand sadya,there's only so much payasam you can eat!!But we asked the server for a second helping and he obliged happily:)

The sadya is overseen by Thirumeni Unnikrishnan Namboodiri.One plate is priced at Rs.475+taxes.

On normal days,you can have regular Kerala Sadya,which is very similar to this.Make sure you reach there early for lunch as meals like these are best enjoyed when eaten in leisure.

Ente Keralam is situated at Kasturi Ranga Avenue 1st Street, Poes Garden and 5th Avenue, Shanthi Colony, Anna Nagar

Disclaimer-This is not a paid review.I liked the restaurant and thought of sharing my experience with my readers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pigeon Hard-Anodized Handi Giveaway

I haven't cooked up anything new.I am in no mood to click pictures,upload and later edit them all.Moreover,writing up a new post seems like such a big task to me right now.But I cannot disappoint all my lovely readers who keep visiting this space and motivate me.So here's a small token of love.

I am giving away one(1) Pigeon hard-Anodized Handi to a lucky reader(shipping only within India).

Product Details-
Pigeon Non-Stick Hard-Anodised Handi 150mm

  • 4mmThick Body with Thermocore Base
  • Triple Layer Scratch-Resistant GREBLON Non-Stick Coating from GERMANY.
  • Metal Spoon Friendly
  • Strong & Sturdy Handle.
  • ISI Certified.
  • Useful to make Dry Vegetables, Gravy Curries, Upma, Sambar, Dal etc.,
  • Spiral Bottom for even heating, Cooks Faster.
  • Heavy Weight Aluminium to be sturdy on the Gas top.
  • PFOA FREE for healthy Cooking (Chemical Free)
  • 1 Year Manufacturer's Warranty

All you have to do is comment on this post.You can also share a word or two about your favorite cookware.I will be choosing the winner on September 14,8.00AM(IST).So start commenting--Good luck!! Giveaway Closed.

Disclaimer - This is NOT a paid advertisement.Giveaway is sponsored by me.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Onam Recipes

There is something about this time of the year.Back to back festivals which brings in so much joy and the variety in different kind of foods being prepared.I am just back from my hometown and one thing which struck me the most is the concept of ready-made Onam sadya.Yes,I am too guilty of resorting to having Sadya in restaurants but never imagined the ready-made fever will catch up in Kerala too,especially when it comes to Onam.Everything from Puli Inji to Kurukku Kaalan,from Mangakkari to Sharkaravaratti to Palada pradhaman is available in stores,one just has to choose the dishes for the main menu!So,happy food shopping folks!!

But we food bloggers have to make everything from scratch,if not for us,at least for our blogs' sake;).So here are some special Onam dishes for you to try!!

Homemade Banana Chips

Mangakkari ~ Instant Mango Pickle

Varutharacha Sambhar



Kumbalanga Cherupayar Parippu Curry

Pineapple Pachadi/Madhura curry

Kadalaparippu Pradhaman

Now here are some special Onam dishes from my fellow bloggers!!

Sharmilee's Ada Pradhaman

Kaalan from Chitra Amma's Kitchen

Paalada Pradhaman from Salt and Spice

Parippu Curry from Indian Cuisine

Mathanga Vanpayar Erissery from Rinku Naveen(also check out her complete recipes from Onam Sadya Vaibhavangal)

Sig's Onam Sadya

Happy Onam to all my readers and hope you have a fun-filled festival,eat till you burp:)

*(image source)

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