Happy Holidays!!

I am truly excited-I won the MLLA for November!!I usually am not in luck with the lucky draws and so I could not believe when Simona mailed me that I won.Thank You Susan and Simona and of course, my lucky stars!! It is the perfect end to 2011 for me.

                           Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

                                    Have a safe and a fun season!!See you all in 2012.


Onion & Tomato Focaccia

 Focaccia is a rustic Italian bread with a taste and fragrance similar to pizza.It can be topped with herbs or cheese or Onions. While not very common, I have seen some exotic toppings like fruits as well. It requires very little or no kneading at all, one of the few breads that is simple to make.It can be served as an appetizer by topping some mild cheese on top or as a sandwich. I chose to top it with Tomatoes and Onions sprinkled with Rosemary.

Recipe: Martha Stewart
7 cups Bread Flour
3 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsps coarse salt+Extra for sprinkling
3/4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil+1 tbsp
1 tsp Dried Rosemary
2 tomatoes, finely clied
2 Medium Onions, finely sliced into half moons

  • Combine flour,water and yeast in a bowl
  • Cover the bowl and keep it aside ina warm place and let it rise for 2 hours until the dough is tripled and consists of sponge like bubbles
  • Add salt
  • Using a mixer with a dough hook, mix the on low speed for 3 to 5 min
  • When the dough clings to the sides of the bowl, raise the soeed and beat for an additional 15 seconds
  • Turn the dough onto a floured surface. DO NOT add flour to the dough. Add more flour, if necessary to the work surface
  • Fold the bottom edge about one third of the way to the center and the top edge to the center
  • Repeat with left and right sides until all edges meet at the center
  • Place the dough once again in a lightly floured bowl with the smooth side up
  • Cover the bowl and let it rise in a warm place for an hour until doubled
  • Return the dough on to a well floured surface
  • Repeat the folding process of folding the edges towards the center
  • Return the dough into the bowl and let it rise for an hour
  • Preheat the oven to 450F
  • In the mean time, heat 1 tbsp of Olive oil 
  • Saute the onions till translucent and cook tomatoes till tender
  • Add the dried rosemary and keep the mixture aside
  • Pour 1/4 cup of olive oil on to 2 baking sheets
  • Coat the sheets well
  • Place the dough on the floured surface
  • The dough should be very soft
  • Divide the dough into 2 portions
  • Evenly coat the dough with oil and place the 2 portions on the baking sheets
  • Shape them into ovals or rounds
  • Drizzle with the remaining olive oil
  • Evenly distribute the tomato and onion mixture onto the 2 doughs
  • Sprinkle with sea salt
  • Bake until the focaccia is browned on the top about 25 to 30 min
  • Serve the Focaccia warm

Black Bean Soup

'Santa Claus is coming to town'. Under that pretext we make the little one clean her toys, eat her food etc., Yes, Bribe it can be considered but I consider it to be a motivator.And trust me the solace is only temporary.Things will go back to normal for the most part come January.I enjoy while it lasts!!
I wish I had Santa and the Celebrations growing up. My mom's life would have been much easier. We put up the tree and decorate the tree as a family. It is something that she looks forward to and something that I look forward to in the gloomy winter season.
Here is a hearty soup perfect for Winter.I used canned black beans and allow me to blame it on the impatience to make this soup.

Adapted from:Eating well
2-15 oz cans of Black Beans, drained and washed(To clean any excess salts)
1 Red Bell Pepper,finely chopped
2 Medium Onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup Salsa
2 tsps Cumin powder
1/4 cup Sour Cream, optional
2 tbsps Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Water
  • Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a pan
  • Add onions and red bell peppers
  • Cook till they are soft
  • Add Garlic and let it cook for 2 min
  • Stir in the cumin powder ans salt
  • Add beans, salsa, and water
  • Simmer for 15 min
  • Puree half of the soup in a blender
  • Combine the puree with the remaining soup and simmer for an additional 10 min
  • Stir in a dollop of sour cream if desired
  • Serve hot with bread


Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

She looks and smiles! She shouts in joy! The little one gets a sparkle in her eyes and a sense of excitement when she sees a full moon or a Sunset.And then the pretend play of going to the moon or space begins.I try to deflect and procrastinate the "Rocketship launch" as she refers to it as I usually am deeply burrowed with house work but she is persistent each and every time.She whisks us into her tiny world in no time and we lose track of time.We become kids once again to only let the reality hit us hard.This luscious dessert is for my "Mini astronaut"

 Recipe: Hershey's Recipe Collection

3- 8 oz packages Cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tsps Vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Salt
2 cups Dark/Bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp Shortening

Brownie layer
6 tbsps Melted Butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup + 2 tbsps All Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Butter a 9 inch Spring foam Pan
  • Combine Melted Butter,Sugar,and Vanilla Extract in a bowl
  • Add 2 eggs and mix until well combined
  • In another bowl, combine flour,Cocoa Powder,Baking Powder,and Salt
  • With the Beaters on the low speed, slowly add the Butter mixture into the flour mixture and beat until all the ingredients are incorporated well
  • Pour into the pan and bake for 30 min until the brownie begins to pull away from the sides
  • In the meantime, prepare the cheesecake batter
  • Beat Cream Cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth
  • Set aside 2 tbsps chocolate chips
  • Gradually beat in the eggs, whipping cream, Vanilla and Salt until well combined
  • Place the remaining chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about a 1 1/2 min until chocolate is smooth after stirring.
  • If needed, microwave for another 15 sec
  • Slowly, add it into the cheesecake mixture
  • Once the brownie is removed from the oven, immediately pour the cheesecake batter over the brownie Place a roasting pan or a pan big enough to hold the Spring foam pan
  • Return the Cheesecake batter pan to the oven; Place it in the roasting pan and pour hot water until the water comes halfway to the spring foam pan
  • Bake for 50 min until the center is set
  • Remove from the oven
  • Set aside to cool on a wire rack
  • Let it cool and remove from the pan
  • Place the remaining 2 tbsps of Chocolate chips and shortening in a bowl
  • Microwave for 30 sec and stir till smooth If needed, microwave for an additional 10 sec or in 10 sec increments until smooth 
  • Drizzle on top of the cheesecake
  • Refrigerate for at least 8 hours
  • Serve cold

Pindi Chana

I first bumped into this dish in a buffet at a restaurant which my mom and I instantly fell in love with. My initial impression of this dish was that it is Chana Masala which came with a different name.However, it had a completely different taste and was I wrong in thinking that it IS Chana Masala!!

Pindi Chana is a dish from Rawalpindi and hence the name 'Pindi'. Pindi chana uses tea bags which imparts the dark color.

1 15 oz can of Chick Peas
1 tea bag (Plain)
2 tsps Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Cumin Coriander powder
1/2 tsp Amchur Powder
2 Medium Onions, chopped
3 Green Chillies, chopped
1 Tomato, chopped
1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
1 tbsp Ginger Garlic paste
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli powder
4 tbsps Ghee

  • Pressure cook Chana along with the tea bag until soft
  • Once cooked remove the tea bags
  • Heat 3 tbsps of ghee 
  • Add one teaspoon cumin seeds and let them become brown
  • Add onions and sauté till golden.
  • Stir in ginger-garlic paste, chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin-coriander powder
  • Add cooked chana and salt
  • Meanwhile heat one tablespoon ghee in a pan, add the remaining cumin seeds and tomatoes. 
  • Add green chillies and a little salt and toss.
  • Cook till soft by adding a little water
  • Add to the chana along with Amchur Powder and Garam Masala
  • Stir to mix well and cook for fifteen to twenty minutes on low heat. Serve hot.

Hoppin' John

Here is another rice dish- Hoppin' John! Hoppin John has many variations and no single place to give the origins from, but it is fundamentally a rice and black eyed peas dish. Black eyed peas are considered to bring luck when eaten on New years Day. This is a vegetarian version and has some mild Indian flavors.
Happy Thanksgiving!

1 15.5 ounce can black beans
2 cups short grained rice
4 cups Vegetable Stock
1/2 cup Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 Garlic clove, chopped
3/4 cup Celery, chopped
1 Bay leaf
1 green chilli, chopped
2 tbsps Olive oil
1 tsp Cumin powder
1 Medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the onions 
  • Cook till translucent
  • Add the Chillies, clove,Red bell pepper and celery
  • Cook till the vegetables are cooked 
  • Add the Bay leaves, dried thyme, and cumin powder 
  • Pour the stock and boil the stock
  • Slowly add the rice and cook till the rice is soft
  • Let the rice cool down
  • Fluff the rice with a fork 
  • Serve it warm 

Dum Biryani

Biryani is a rice dish that has many variations which can include Vegetables, Meat, eggs and nuts. The name is originated from the Persian word berya(n) which translates to 'fried' or 'roasted' (Source: Wiki)
Dum Biryani differs from the regular biryani in the way it is cooked.  It is quite popular in Hyderabad. The cooked rice, typically Basmati or any long grained rice, flavored with Yogurt is alternately layered with spiced Vegetable mixture which is then covered with dough and cooked on coals slowly and this process is referred to as 'Dum' . Now, that is the traditional way. I cook mine in a similar way with some substitutions.
The ingredients seem to go on and on but it is not as difficult as it seems.

Adapted from Tarla Dalal.com
For The Rice
1 cup rice, preferably Basmati
2 cloves, whole
3 Cardamom Pods
1 Cinnamon Stick
3 Bay leaves
Salt to taste
1 tsp Oil

6 whole Red Chillies
1/2 cup Cashew nuts
1 tsp chopped Ginger
3/4 cup chopped onions

Yogurt Masala
1/4 cup beaten Yogurt
2 tbsp chopped Coriander leaves
2 tbsp chopped Mint leaves
1 tsp garam masala

For The Gravy
3 tbsp Butter
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 Medium Onion, finely sliced
1 Potato, peeled, cubed and boiled
2 carrots, chopped
1/4 cup Peas
1/4 cup Beans, chopped
1/2 cup Cauliflower florets
1 tsp Ginger garlic paste
Salt to taste

For Garnishing
2 tbsps Ghee

1/4 cup Cashew nuts
1 small onion, finely sliced into half moons

1/8 tsp red food coloring (Optional)
  • Soak the rice and set aside for 15 min
  • In a large pan, bring 1.5 cups of water to a rolling boil 
  • Add the cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamoms and salt.
  • Slowly add rice and 1 tsp of oil
  • Cover and simmer till the rice is nearly cooked
  • Blend all the ingredients-Red chillies, Cashew nuts,Ginger, Onions to make a paste for the masala
  • Heat 2 tbsp butter in a pan
  • Add the cumin seeds
  • Add Onions and cook till the onions turn translucent
  • Add the vegetables, blended red masala, and salt if required and 1/2 cup water
  • Cover and cook till the vegetables are cooked
  • In the mean time, in a bowl, combine beat yogurt,coriander leaves,mint leaves, and garam masala
  • Remove the vegetables mixture and set aside
  • In a heavy bottomed deep vessel, spread the vegetable mixture
  • Spread the cooked rice evenly and then with the Yogurt Masala
  • Cover it with a lid or an aluminum foil
  • Place it on a tawa and cook on a slow flame for about 20 min
  • Heat 2 tbsps ghee and fry Cashew nuts and Onions till golden brown and crisp
  • Top the rice with the fried onions and Cashew nuts
  • Sprinkle the red food coloring and gently mix with the rice. The red food coloring should not over power the rice.
  • Serve hot with Raita or Mirchi Ka Salan


Here we are in mid-November and I wonder where 2011 has gone. The months have disappeared and I feel not much has been accomplished from my to do lists that I usually draft at the beginning of the year.I had a few books to read and things to do with the little one and I will tell you with a good amount of guilt that I could have done much better. However, I can safely say that this year was one of the most traveled, if not the most.Besides the nearby places,Alaska and Montreal are the two places which involved long journeys. With the little one and over 10 hours of flight/drive each way, I am proud to say, we survived!The trip to Alaska is one of our best travels.Long journeys got us exhausted but each place was unbelievably beautiful.
Here are some pictures from our trip!

The flan recipe is extremely simple and the end result is fabulously delicious. It needs just a few ingredients and you will have a sinful and an elegant dessert.

Recipe: All recipes
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • In a pan, melt sugar until it melts and turns golden in color.
  • Pour the hot syrup into a 9 inch round pan or a baking dish
  • Quickly rotate the dish such that the dish is evenly coated with syrup
  • Set aside
  • In a bowl, beat eggs 
  • Mix in the condensed milk, Evaporated milk and Vanilla extract
  • Pour into the set dish and cover with an aluminum foil
  • Bake it covered for an hour
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool completely about 2 hours
  • Invert the dish onto a plate 
  • Cut into pieces and serve

Rumali Roti & Mutter Paneer

'Rumali' translates to 'Hand kerchief' in Hindi. The Roti is as thin as a cloth and hence its name.Preparing Rumali Roti can be seen as a daunting and an overwhelming task in the house. Of course, we cannot match a restaurant's texture and size but it was a good experience to make it. While I could not perfect thinning it out by flying in the air,my Rumali roti had a combination of thinning out with a rolling pin and flying in the air. I followed Sanjay Thumma's You tube video to make it. The end result is a decent sized thin roti.I have yet to master the art of "throwing the dough in the air", but I am quite happy with my results. The idea of using an inverted steel bowl to make it is pretty neat.

Rumali Roti
1 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Atta flour
1/2 cup Maida (All purpose flour)
1 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Salt
Water to knead
  • Combine the Whole Wheat flour and the All Purpose flour
  • Add Salt
  • Slowly adding water, knead the dough into a soft and an elastic dough
  • Cover the dough with a moist paper towel and set aside for 15 min
  • Divide the dough into equal portions and make balls out of the dough
  • Roll the dough into a 8 inch diameter circle. Make sure that the edges are thin
  • Now, as shown in the video, follow the instructions on how to throw the dough into the air and make the roti as thin as possible.
  • Heat an inverted stainless steel bowl on the stove
  • Coat the bowl with salt water
  • Quickly place it on the bowl and cook until a few brown spots appear.
  • Do the same on the other side
  • Fold or roll the roti like a handkerchief 
  • Serve with Mutter Paneer (recipe follows)

Mutter Paneer-

1 block of Paneer, cubed and soaked in water for 15 min to soften it
3 cups of peas, frozen and thawed
2 tbsps oil+ 1 tsp of oil
1 cup of Cherry tomatoes, halved; You can use the regular tomatoes as well but I like these as they tend to be sweeter.
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
3 green chillies
1 tsp of Tomato paste
1/2 tsp Kasuri Methi
1 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
1/8 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp Cumin coriander powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tbsp Chopped fresh coriander
*2 tbsps of cream(optional)

  • Heat 2 tbsps of oil and add Cumin seeds
  • Add the Onion and green chillies. Cook for a few min until onions turn translucent
  • Stir in the ginger garlic paste,turmeric, garam masala, kasuri methi and cumin coriander powder
  • Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for about 5 min until they are soft
  • Dissolve the tomato paste in 1/4 cup of water until smooth
  • Pour it into the curry and simmer for a few mim
  • In the meanwhile, heat a the remaining oil in a pan and fry the softened paneer pieces until very lightly browned.
  • Set aside on a paper napkin to drain any extra grease
  • Add the peas in to the curry; Cook for 3 min
  • Add the paneer pieces very gently. The paneer pieces should retain the shape
  • Stir in the cream if desired and garnish with coriander
  • Serve hot with the Rumali Roti 

Stuffed Shell Pasta

Believe it or Not! I don't own an iPhone or an iPad.Most of my friends/relatives carry either one of them or both.It is not because I don't care for the creator or admire his creativity. I just do not care for any technology. It is an irony that someone with an engineering background is not very fond of tech stuff. I love reading paper backs and use a paper and a pen to write. Well, at least when I have an option!In recent months, I have grown to admire Jobs and his work.So, when I read about the release of his biography by Isaac Waterson,needless to say, I bought the book.It is a humongous book(good to use as a mini bench:-),definitely bigger than I expected.I will certainly need some time to sit down and read it end-to-end. What do you own - relating to Jobs or Apple?

Adapted from Eating well

3 cups Whole milk Ricotta Cheese
1 bag of fresh Spinach, finely chopped
2 Medium Onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
I box of Jumbo Shell Pasta about 24 (I used Barilla)
1 tbsp of dried Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 tbsp of Olive Oil
1/2 cup Bread crumbs
2 /2 cups of Tomato-Vodka sauce
1 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
Sea Salt to boil the water
1/8 tsp salt
  • Preheat the oven to 375F
  • Cook the pasta according to the package instructions
  • Boil 6 quarts of water with salt
  • When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta
  • Once al dente*, typically will take about 15 min, drain the water preserving a cup of water
  • In the mean time, heat a table spoon of olive oil
  • Add the chopped onions and cook until the onions turn translucent
  • Add the garlic and the Italian seasoning
  • Add the spinach and 1/8 tsp salt and cook till the leaves wilt
  • In a bowl, combine the spinach mixture with the Ricotta Cheese and the breadcrumbs
  • Set aside
  • In a 8X11 baking dish, spoon a 1/2 cup of sauce evenly in the dish
  • Soon after draining the water, separate the shells on a plate; Else, they tend to stick and can ruin the shape of the pasta
  • Stuff about 1 1/2 tablespoons of Spinach Ricotta mixture inside each shell
  • Place the shells in the baking dish in an even single layer. The shells can be close to each other and need not be apart
  • Pour the remaining sauce on top of the shells
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese
  • Bake in the oven for about 25 min or until the cheese melts
  • Serve warm (*I cook for about 18 min to make it softer for the little one)

Mashed Amaranth

I have misunderstood Amaranth to be Gongura for the longest time, until very recently when I came across Amaranth labeled as Thotakura which came as a surprise, of course!It was always a challenge for me to identify Gongura leaves from Thotakura leaves. I believe I am getting better at it now. Gongura has red leaves or red stalks depending on the variety and Thotakura does not. That is the best way I can describe the difference.
Thotakura was the most used vegetable in my maternal grand parents' house. It used to be cooked as a curry- finely chopped seasoned with simple 'tadka'. Today's dish is Mashed Amaranth. Amaranth leaves are lightly boiled and pureed which is mixed with cooked moong dal and simmered with spices to perfection.

Recipe- Chandra Padmanabhan
1/4 cup Moong Dal, rinsed
1 cup water
2 bunches amaranth leaves( Thotakura in Telugu)
Salt to taste

2 tsps ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp urad dal
2 red chilli
Pinch of Hing(asafoetoda powder)

  • Bring Moong dal and 8 oz of water to a boil
  • Continue to cook for about an hour
  • Do not drain any water. Add salt and mix well
  • Set aside
  • Wash the Amaranth leaves and chop them finely
  • Boil the leaves but making sure the leaves do not change color
  • Puree the boiled leaves
  • Heat 2 tsps of ghee in a pan
  • Add Urad dal, cumin seeds and mustard seeds, Red chillies and hing
  • Add the seasoning to the mashed amaranth
  • Mix this with the cooked dal
  • Cook for 10 min
  • Serve hot with rice!

This goes to one of my favorite events MLLA, guest hosted by Simona of Briciole and started by Susan of The well seasoned Cook.

Green Capsicum Chutney

Some have suggested that perhaps, I should add more Indian dishes to the blog and I am slowly going towards that path. Over the next few weeks you will see me add more Indian dishes to my posts, dishes that I cook on a daily basis.I hope you will enjoy them!

2 Green Capsicums/Bell Pepper, coarsely chopped
6 red chillies, broken, dry roasted
3 green chillies, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, dry roasted
1/4 cup Sesame seeds, dry roasted
1/3 cup fresh grated coconut
3 tbsps fresh coriander, chopped
1/4 cup tamarind pulp
2 tbsps oil+ 1 tbsp oil
2 tbsps urad dal
1 garlic clove, minced (Optional)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
6 curry leaves
Pinch of turmeric
  • Heat the oil in a wok
  • Add the capsicum pieces, green chillies and turmeric.
  • Dry roast the peanuts, sesame seeds, red chillies separately
  • Cover the wok with a plate of water
  • Let it cook till the pieces are tender
  • Blend the cooked capsicum pieces, roasted peanuts, roasted sesame seeds,coconut, tamarind pulp, coriander seeds and garlic clove to a smooth paste; Add water as needed but please make sure to add water in small increments such that the paste wont be runny
  • Heat the remaining spoon of oil
  • Add the urad dal, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds
  • Fry for a min until they turn golden brown
  • Add the hing
  • Stir in the blended chutney

Aloo Bonda w/ Coconut Chutney

Deep Frying is a big no-no in my house. Either because me and V are not in the best health, best shape or that the house starts stinking after a while. We never used to notice when we deep fried earlier, that there used to be a certain smell that you cannot get rid of easily in the house. I guess that is where my love for baking began.
However, I will admit that frying has its own taste and it can be quite addictive. We very rarely deep fry as is evident from my blog posts but I will never say never!!

Aloo Bonda has become one of my favorites after one of the cooks at my mom's made this and I fell in love with it.And yes, my Bonda has a few ears too:-)

3 potatoes, boiled with the skins
4 Curry leaves
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp Urad Dal
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1 inch ginger, chopped into pieces
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
5 green chillies, finely chopped
Pinch of Hing

1 cup Besan/Gram flour
Salt to taste
Pinch of Baking soda(Optional)
Oil to deep fry

Aloo Stuffing
  • Peel the skin off of boiled potatoes and mash them; Set aside
  • Heat a tbsp of oil and fry Urad Dal, Cumin seeds and Mustard seeds
  • Fry for a couple of min until they turn golden brown
  • Add the green chillies, curry leaves and turmeric
  • Add a whiff of hing
  • Combine till the potato mixture is well coated with the seasoning
  • Divide the mixture into golf sized balls
  • Set aside
  • Combine the besan with enough water to make it a smooth batter.
  • Stir in the salt and baking soda, if using
Bonda -
  • Heat Oil in a wok. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a small drop of batter and look to see if it turns golden brown and floats
  • Dip the potato ball in the ball and evenly coat it
  • Drop it slowly into the oil and fry until it is golden brown
  • Continue till all the balls have been fried
  • Serve them hot with coconut chutney
Coconut Chutney-
1 cup Dahlia(Putnala pappu)
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
6 green chillies, finely chopped
1 inch Ginger, finely chopped
1 tbsp Ghee
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Mustard seeds
Pinch of Hing
  • Blend the Pappu, Coconut, Peanuts, chillies, ginger with enough water to make it a smooth paste; You can also add buttermilk if you would like slightly sour taste
  • Heat a tbsp of Ghee
  • Add Cumin seeds and Mustard seeds
  • Add some hing
  • Mix it quickly to the blended coconut paste

Methi Thepla

It was so much fun to watch Shriya as Cinderella this Halloween. We have been loyal to Disney the last couple of times with her being a Minnie Mouse last year.I will hate to get to those years when she will no longer want to dress up and I can no longer shop for these fancy costumes.Oh well! We will cross the bridge when we get there...
Fall is my favorite season and you would have heard me say this a lot of times in my posts. It is a very pleasant season with vibrant colors. It is almost like Nature puts on a show every year. But sadly, this year the leaves have withered away even before we realized it was Fall. Not to mention the unusual snow at this time of the year. We were with out power for a couple of days and that is the longest we have ever been with out power. It in fact did seem like a spooky Halloween weekend!!
Methi Thepla is a type of bread similar to roti, but it has lot more flavors than the regular roti.This can be served for lunch, dinner or breakfast. This can accompanied with yogurt or pickle but I like to eat it as is!!

1 cup Wheat flour/Atta
1/2 cup Methi leaves, stems separated and discarded and leaves chopped
1 tbsp Kasuri Methi
1/4 -1/2 cup buttermilk; Add more if needed
1 tbsp oil
Pinch of Turmeric
Salt to taste
  • Combine Wheat flour, salt, Methi leaves, kasuri methi, turmeric
  • Adding the buttermilk slowly,begin to knead until the dough is elastic
  • Add the oil and continue kneading until it becomes soft
  • Cover the dough using a moist paper towel and keep it aside for half hour
  • Divide the dough into balls of equal sizes
  • Using a rolling pin, roll out into thin circles similar to rotis of about 6" in diameter
  • Heat a tawa and apply a 1/4 tsp of oil
  • Place one thepla and cook on both sides for a couple of min
  • Roll it and serve hot with pickle if desired

Paneer Bhurji

To those of you who do not eat eggs at all, this version of Paneer can be a great substitute. Especially when Paneer is cooked like Bhurji, it resembles scrambled eggs. Infact, I have seen some interesting variations of curries with Eggs and Paneer on the internet. Perhaps, I will try that soon. For now, enjoy the 'paneer only' Bhurji version.

1 block Paneer, soaked in warm water for 10 min and crumbled
2 Medium Onions, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup Green Peas, Optional
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
1 tsp Garam Masala
2 tsps Cumin Powder
Pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp of Kasuri Methi
1 tsp of Pomegranate Powder
2 tsps Oil
1 tsp Coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Heat 2 tsps of oil
  • Add Onions and let it cook till translucent for about 5 min
  • Add tomatoes and cook till soft
  • Stir in the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, Garam Masala and Cumin Powder
  • Cook for a couple of min
  • Add the Kasuri Methi and Pomegranate Powder
  • Add the crumbled paneer and make sure that the paneer is well coated with the seasoning
  • Garnish with Coriander leaves
I like to squeeze in some lime juice when I am eating just the curry but that is completely optional

Coconut Rice

Coconut Rice is prepared in various cuisines and countries. One of my friends who is Puerto Rico mentioned to me that they make rice with coconut milk as the base.It was always my impression that Coconut Rice is an Indian dish primarily hailing from Kerala. It is quite a pleasant surprise that Coconut Rice either in the form of pudding or simply rice is served across the world.

1 cup Rice ; I used Tilda Basmati
1/2 - 3/4 cup fresh grated Coconut
3 Green Chillies, slit vertically
6 Curry Leaves
1 tbsp of Oil
1/2 tsp of Turmeric
1 tsp Chana Dal
1 tsp Urad Dal
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
Pinch of Hing
Lemon juice Optional

  • Cook Rice using 1:2 rice to water till soft but the grains should be separate
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan
  • Add Chana Dal, Urad Dal, Cumin Seeds and Mustard seeds.
  • Fry till golden brown
  • Add Curry Leaves and Hing
  • Add Green Chillies and turmeric
  • Add the coconut and fry till the coconut turns golden brown
  • Add the cooked rice and mix well until all the tempering has coated the rice
  • Squeeze lime juice and serve

Red Bell Pepper Chutney

A very dear friend of mine invited my parents when they were here a couple of years back which is when she prepared this fabulous Bell Pepper Chutney. She is a fabulous cook and her Biryani needs a special mention. I firmly believe that a recipe when prepared by different people will create different flavors. While I can replicate the recipe, I cannot replicate the taste. But, But!! I finally could achieve a similar taste after experimenting for several times and of course a few flops.So,a big thank you, Pooja!

2 Red Bell Peppers, coarsely chopped
1 Garlic Clove, peeled and minced
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Chilli Powder
3 Curry Leaves
2 Tbsps Oil+ 1 tsp
Pinch of Hing/asafoetida
1 tbsp finely chopped Coriander leaves
3 tbsps thick tamarind pulp
Salt to taste

  • Heat 2 tbsps of oil in a pan
  • Add the Red Bell Pepper pieces and Curry leaves and cook till they are soft but they should NOT turn black; Else, there can be a slight bitter taste when blended
  • Add the minced garlic
  • Cook for a min or so
  • Stir in chilli powder and salt
  • Add the tamarind pulp and let it cook for a couple of min, until the raw smell goes away.
  • Blend the Red bell pepper mixture along with the coriander leaves until smooth
  • In a small pan, heat the remaining tsp of oil
  • Add Cumin seeds, Mustard seeds and hing; Let them splutter
  • Quickly add them to the blended Bell pepper mixture
  • Serve hot with rice or idlis or dosas

  • Polenta w/Mascarapone, Tomatoes & Chard

    Polenta is an Italian dish. It is made with cornmeal, yellow or white. It is smooth and creamy and resembles Upma both in taste and texture. It was once considered a peasant's food but today, you can find this on the menus of some gourmet food places.

    Recipe:Food Network

    1 cup instant polenta
    1 can plum tomatoes
    1 bunch swiss chard
    1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    4 tbsps unsalted butter
    Salt and Pepper to taste
    Mascarpone or Farmer's cheese

    • Bring 5 cups of water to a rolling boil; Whisk polenta slowly until it is smooth and creamy
    • Top with the unsalted butter and allow it to melt
    • Add salt and pepper to taste
    • Stir in butter, salt and butter till well combined.
    • Pour evenly into a rectangular dish and let it cool down. You will be able to cut into squares once cooled
    • Cut the swiss chard into about an inch pieces; Coarsely chop the tomatoes
    • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan
    • Add the tomatoes and chard and saute till the chard leaves welt about 10 - 15 min
    • Let it come together; Set aside
    • Cut the cooled polenta into squares or shapes of your choice
    • Place a polenta square on a plate
    • Spoon the tomato & chard mixture on top
    • Garnish with a dollop of mascarpone cheese. Alternately, garnish with crumbled farmer's cheese
    • Serve warm

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