December 21, 2013

Almond-butter & Banana Smoothie

Almond-butter & Banana smoothie is one healthy recipe that you can happily add to your breakfast table. Banana, almond butter, almond meal, honey & milk.. I mean can you find a better & healthier combo?! There's nothing in this recipe that you have to worry about skipping/replacing!!


December 17, 2013

Alfredo sauce (without cream)

Alfredo sauce is a white sauce made with butter, cream, milk & cheese. It is good for all kind of pasta dishes especially as pasta sauce in lasagna. Fettucine alfredo is one of the first & foremost recipe made with alfredo sauce dates back to 1914 (wow!!!!) and gained popularity from 1920 through a couple of American tourists to Rome!



December 16, 2013

December 14, 2013

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Yesterday was special.. very special, my daughter's birthday! I simply cannot believe how the time has flown since she entered into our lives.. six years ago!


December 12, 2013

Paneer Tikka Kati Rolls

VJ doesn't prefer packed lunches. He loves hot & fresh food and so, comes home everyday (well, almost) for lunch. If for some reasons he couldn't make it to home, his next best place would be an Indian restaurant near his office and his default choice would be "kati rolls", for their kati rolls are big & filling, loaded with paneer & other veggies.



December 5, 2013

Corn-Mozzarella Bread Cups

Yummy, healthy, kid-friendly snacks in under 30 mins. Seriously, I am not kidding!! This cute little snack can be made in just 3 easy steps, make the bread cups, make the filling, put them together, bake & eat.. it's as simple as that.. no fretting.... no sweating!!


December 4, 2013

Dal Panchratan

Dal Panchratan, also called as Panchmel dal is a Rajasthani special. The word "Panch-ratan" means five gems as this recipe is made by combining five protein-rich lentils that is commonly available in any Indian kitchen. I used toor dal, moong dal, black whole urid dal, black chickpeas & whole masoor dal to make this supremely delicious & a filling dal!



December 3, 2013

Eggplant Pesto Bread Sandwich

This is my first time trying a sandwich that is undisputedly loved by everyone at home! Also, this is the first post in my space for a sandwich recipe!!


December 1, 2013

Murungai Keerai Adai

A healthy variation from the regular adai varieties. Murungai keerai (drumstick leaves) adai is not only healthy and rich in nutrients but also very tasty. A 100g of cooked murungai leaves has considerable source of nutrients (Vitamin A as beta carotene, calcium, protein, potassium, Vitamin C) compared to 100g of carrot, milk, yogurt, banana, orange put together (Thanks to wiki!)



November 27, 2013

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer, a rich & spicy palak (spinach) based gravy with paneer and other Indian spices. This iron & protein rich gravy is one of the popular north-Indian curries all over, especially in Punjabi dhabas. Palak Paneer serves as a perfect side for rice/roti. I personally have seen a lot of desi folks and Westerner friends going crazy for palak paneer.



November 22, 2013

Nutella Mug Cake

Just for the record, I am crazy about chocolates & nutella. So, when I made this nutella mug cake, I was more than happy, for this cake is a "delicious" mix of both. The cake is super addictive and if not for single serving, my sugars would have shot up roof high!! In a way, this "single-serve" mug cake is a perfect fix for your everyday sugar rush!



November 15, 2013

"Fuyu" Persimmon cookies

Before anything, let me tell you, this is my first time trying persimmons (the fruit that is orange in color and looks like tomatoes) and they are so good. One of our guests got these little treats from their garden and I just can't thank them enough! Unsure about the taste, I just let the fruits sit on my kitchen counter-top for almost a week, when I finally decided to make cookies with them (after a lot of reading & research).



November 12, 2013

Basil Pinenut Pesto Pasta

A simple, down-to-earth recipe for a delicious pasta! Pine-nuts, almonds, basil, I mean, can a recipe get more healthy? With some grilled veggies on the side, this can be a complete meal!


November 9, 2013

New-york Style Bagels

The way I got introduced to the bagel trend was very funny! My first time tasting bagels and I almost turned them down.. many thanks to one of my friends who re-introduced bagels to me that I once kind-of gave up.



November 7, 2013

Gobi Matar Masala

This recipe of cauliflower & peas masala is very similar to my matar paneer gravy, but with one surprise ingredient. 



Strawberry-Banana Kulfi Pops

Kulfi is a popular frozen dairy dessert from India. Unlike western ice-creams, kulfi doesn't require any whipping / churning which makes it very easy to be made at home.

The traditional method of preparing kulfi is by simmering sweetened & flavored milk in low heat with constant stirring until its volume reduces by half. The thickened, semi-condensed milk is then poured into moulds and frozen until solid. Especially with the availability of condensed/evaporated milk, making kulfi at home is really an easy-peasy affair.



November 1, 2013

Rava Laadu

Rava laadu have always been one of my favorite sweets since childhood. With minimal set of ingredients, rava laadu is a simple & easy recipe that you can put together in a snap.


October 31, 2013

Kaju Katli

"Deepavali" (festival of lights), the biggest & the brightest of all Hindu festivals is just around the corner. And, here is the recipe for soft, chewy cashew fudge that you can share with your family & friends on the day of Deepavali! After all, Deepavali is all about celebration, fun, sharing & togetherness, isn 't it?! 


October 30, 2013

Rava Upma

One of the simplest & humblest south Indian breakfast ever! Hot rava upma with an array of chutneys, spicy sambar, couple of medhu vadai and a cup of hot & strong filter coffee to finish.. pure bliss.. the day can't start any better, could it?!


October 29, 2013

Capsicum-Paneer Paratha

I have this recipe bookmarked for quite sometime and just today, got the time to make it! 

Such simple yet wonderful flavors from capsicum & paneer mix. With a simple cucumber raita on the side, this recipe will work great for lunch-box. Seeing my family enjoy this delicious paratha, I am only glad that I tried it!


October 25, 2013

Ribbon Pakoda

There were times, when mothers selflessly devoted their entire time for kids & family..
There were times, when kids didn't demand or complain much..
There were times, when family get-together was a frequent affair..
There were times, when buying snacks from stores is way more than luxury..
There were times, when simple things in life brought a lot of happiness & satisfaction..

And, I am one among the fortunate few, to have grown-up during those amazing times, when life was much simpler, happier, healthier.. 



October 24, 2013

Almond-Butter Granola Bars

Easy?.... Yes!
Quick?.... Yes!
Tasty?.... Yes!
Healthy?.... Yes!
Vegan?.... Yes!

Oats, dates, nuts, honey, almond butter.. just 5 ingredients and 10 mins of your time!!



Roasted Red Bell-Pepper Pesto

Use it as a dip or as a smear on your breads & bagels, use it as a sauce for pizza or on your pasta, this is one of the most aromatic & flavorful pesto around!

My daughter is a big-time fan of pasta, she is crazy about anything & everything in the name of pasta, right from simple, plain pasta to sauce-based (marinara/alfredo) to pesto-based, of all kinds. She never, and I mean never gets bored of pasta! This is one of the recently added recipes to our pesto list!


October 21, 2013

Mini Apple Pies

Last weekend at Costco, I picked up a dozen (or may be more) of braeburn apples, by mistake. Braeburns are very different from the regular ones that we used to buy (like red delicious), with a unique sweet & tart flavor, very similar to granny-smith. So, my kids conveniently turned it down, just another reason to get away with fruits... how clever of them, huh?!?! But, can they really escape from the fruits and more so, the "mommy" power?!?! Let's see!



October 20, 2013

Gujarathi Kadhi

Creamy, smooth, spicy, delicious, refreshing, flavorful, comforting... this is what is "kadhi" for me! 

Though I was brought-up in a south-Indian family set-up with occasional home-made north-Indian recipes, kadhi always takes me back to my roots & is comforting in every possible way, for this is the north-Indian version of our very own "Morkuzhambu"!

This recipe is for making plain kadhi, but you can add deep-fried pakoras (made with besan flour / moong dal) and increase its nutritional value. Kadhi pairs up well with rice/ roti/ kichadi.



October 17, 2013

Pumpkin-Carrot Bread

From "Navarathri" sundal recipes to "fall-inspired" pumpkin bread.. a big shift indeed! It just isn't me, but this time of the year.. bold & bright shades of yellows & reds, frosty mornings, cold evenings, spirit of thanks-giving & halloween in the air, smell of cinnamon, ginger & baked caramel apples, celebrations & such.. the season that contains all these beautiful things in itself.. Autumn (or) Fall, warrants for such wonderful treats!



October 11, 2013

Maa Laadoo

A sweet & cutesy little give-away prasadam for guests during Navarathri! 

Sugar, Ghee, Roasted nuts - what's not to like in this divine prasadam? Try this and you 'll fall in love with this sweet for sure, just as my family did!!



October 9, 2013

Kunukku

A crispy & savory cross between adai & vadai! Kunukku uses the same ingredients (well, almost) as adai, and deep fried in oil like vadai. The texture of kunukku is similar to vadai, but tastes like adai.

Kunukku can be prepared & offered as prasadam during one of the Navarathri days, a crunchy break from the sundal monotony!


October 8, 2013

Karamani Sundal (Sweet Version)

What I love about this sundal is that unlike savory ones, this sundal uses jaggery, and is sweet! I have always been a big fan of this sweet sundal even though my mom never makes it. So, if I know that my neighbors are making this sundal, I "intentionally" pick that day to see their golu and eat this sundal to my heart's content!



October 7, 2013

Payatham Paruppu (Moong dal) Sundal

A simple snack, cooked with moong dal and tempered with a simple tadka! 

Making these nutritious snacks is no big deal! The trick to make a tasty sundal depends on well-cooked legumes. Perfectly cooked legumes should neither be too hard to bite nor too mushy. Legumes needs to be soaked for the right amount of time, and cooked just right.

This savory sundal is also tempered with the same set of ingredients as the other sundals. So, if you can cook the legumes & season them to perfection, nothing can beat this healthy snack!


October 5, 2013

Ellu podi (Sweet Version)

A sweet prasadam for Navarathri, unique & different from the regular "savory" sundal varieties. 

Sweet ellu podi is usually prepared on Saturdays, as sesame seeds is the preferred offerings for Sani Bhagavan (Saturn God, one of the Navagrahas).

Click here to check out my recipe for 'savory' ellu podi!


Pattani Sundal

One of the tasty, nutritious evening snacks, that you can prepare and distribute as prasadam during Navarathri.


October 4, 2013

Kothamalli (Coriander) Podi

Very flavorful rice-mix! The most appetizing part of this podi is the aroma, inviting aroma from the roasted/powdered coriander seeds. Mix in a spoonful of this podi with hot rice & ghee and enjoy with morkuzhambu/ kootu/ appalam on the side. Personally, I love to have it with some plain yogurt on the side.. Yum is the word!!



October 2, 2013

Kadalai Paruppu Sundal

Sundal - a south-Indian salad made from legumes. Channa dal sundal is one of the easiest sundal that doesn't need much of a planning. My mom usually makes this sundal on the first day of Navarathri, trying to get herself warmed up and get into the groove of soaking legumes on the previous night for the next 7-8 days.


Basic Info
Complexity - Simple
Prep time - 1 hr
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 2

Ingredients
Kadalai Paruppu (Channa dal) - 1/2 cup
Water - 3/4 cup
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Broken urid dal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves  3-4 nos
Dry red chilli - 1 no
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup


Method
Soak channa dal in water for 1 hr. Bring 3/4 cup of water to a rolling boil and add salt, soaked channa dal to it. Let it cook for about 30 mins or until channa dal is soft to the touch but not mushy. While boiling, remove scum, if any that collects on top. At this stage, most of the water would have been evaporated and the channa dal will be left with very little water.

Heat a tsp of oil, splutter mustard seeds, fry urid dal until golden brown, add hing, curry leaves & red chilli and fry for a min until fragrant. Add channa dal (along with the remaining water) and saute for couple of mins or so. Finally, remove from heat and add grated coconut and give it a good mix.

Channa dal sundal is ready for neivedhyam (offerings)!

Navarathri

Navarathri (or) Sharada Navarathri is a major festival dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga, is celebrated across all parts of India for ten days. Navarathri literally means nine nights and the tenth day is celebrated as Vijayadasami. Navarathri usually falls in the Tamil month "Purattasi" (between Oct & Nov) and it starts on "Pradhamai", the day right after Amavasya ("no-moon" day).

Lord Brahma granted Mahishasura, the “buffalo demon” a boon that he will remain invincible to all "men" and none of the men-folk could harm (or) kill him. Empowered by this boon, Mahishasura set out to conquer the world, the Heaven and Earth, and brought about the defeat of the king of deities, Indra. At the pleading of Indra, Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva created Devi Durga, by combining their own divine powers (shakti). Endowed with the trinity’s shakti, Durga proved to be a formidable opponent who fought Mahishasura for nine days, beheading him on the tenth. The nine nights known as Navrathri, symbolize the nine days of battle between Devi Durga and Mahishasura, while the tenth day, which is Vijayadasami literally means the victorious tenth day of conquest of good over evil.


While south-Indians celebrate it as Navarathri & Vijayadasami, North-Indians call it as Durga Puja & Dusshera. Of the nine days, the first 3 days are dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga (Goddess of power), the next 3 days are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) and the last 3 days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi (Goddess of wisdom). The ninth day is celebrated as Saraswathi pooja / Ayudha pooja, when weapons, tools and implements of day-to-day life like books, pens, computers are worshipped & revered. The tenth day, the day of victory of good over evil, is considered as an auspicious day to start all kinds of new venture right from kid's education to high-end business.

South-Indians keep golu, arrangement & display of clay/wooden dolls of Gods & Goddesses in steps. Pooja rituals, chanting slokas (sacred verses) are performed every morning in front of the golu and in the evening, friends, families & neighbors are invited over and devotional songs are sung in praise of Gods & Goddesses. In short, golu is considered to be a divine & auspicious affair. It is still in practice to give வெற்றிலை-பாக்கு-மஞ்சள்-குங்குமம்-பூ-பழம்-கண்ணாடி (betel leaves, supari, turmeric, vermillion, flower, fruits, mirror) or anything that signifies prosperity & good fortune along with a small gift / money & neivedhyam (offerings for that day).

Golu 2013 in our home!
Neivedhyam is usually sundal - south-Indian salad made with different legumes. My mom makes sweet prasadam on Tuesdays & Fridays, Sweet ellu podi on Saturdays, Kondakadalai on Thursdays/ on Sarasawathi pooja. For rest of the days, she prepares sundal with channa dal, moong dal, peanuts, dried peas, black channa.

Memories
Back in my native, when I was young, Navarathri celebrations used to be big & pompous. Our navarathri celebrations begins atleast a week before right from planning & buying give-away gifts for guests till getting the golu steps & dolls down from the attic & getting them ready for Navarathri. The evening before the first day of Navarathri, we set up the golu steps and arrange dolls in 5 (usually odd numbered) steps with all the other arrangements like background, lighting etc. For me, all nine days means decking myself up with the newest of the clothes and all kind of gold jewels from head to toe and visit our neighbors who invited us. My tasklist for Navarathri includes adorning the golu with a new kolam/rangoli everyday using sozhi (small shells), color powders etc, to invite neighbors (I even remember the exact phrase of how I would invite "எங்காத்துல கொலு வெச்சிருக்கு, வெத்தலை பாக்கு எடுத்துக்க அவசியம் வாங்கோ"), to arrange "மஞ்சள்-குங்குமம்" & other items in a tray and distribute them to the guests. Also, I cannot forget the "மாமி, கொலு கொலு சுண்டல்!" chorus by the neighborhood kids in front of everyone's doorstep demanding prasadam!

Recipes
(1) Kadalai paruppu sundal


(2) Payatham paruppu sundal


(3) Ellu podi (sweet)


(4) Arisi puttu/Aval Puttu


(5) Kunukku


(6) Vellai kondakadalai sundal
(7) Verkadalai sundal


(8) Pattani sundal


(9) Karuppu kondakadalai sundal


(10) Karamani sundal (Sweet version)

(11) Karamani sundal (Savory version)

Credits:
Few of the info were taken from
- http://bheemeshwaridevi.wordpress.com
- http://en.wikipedia.org
- Mahishasuramardhini photo courtesy: http://www.bhmpics.com