January 30, 2013

Manna Cookies

One of the keys in making stress-free family meals on a regular basis is to have your kitchen properly stocked. Can you imagine how taxing it would be if you had to purchase each and every ingredient every time you are working on a recipe? Shopping could be overwhelming (well, sometimes yes!) if done on a recipe-to-recipe basis. This is just one good reason to have a well stocked pantry!

When it comes to my pantry, I should say it is a little over-stocked! I have few (well, more than a few !??!!?) items in my pantry that I may have used just once or twice. One such item that I found (yeah, kind of bumped into it when looking for something else) in my pantry is "Manna health mix" (check out this link to know more about this product). This item seems to be idling in my pantry for quite a few months now, as my kids rejected this healthy (but not so tasty) breakfast porridge right after they had it for the first time.

But, smart moms (ahem .... ahem) knows how to work their way through any kind of food challenges that they might stumble upon! I had a ragi biscuit recipe in hand for quite sometime and thought, "hey, why not replace ragi flour with manna flour?!". Guess what, it worked out so perfectly just as I expected. With cocoa powder & chocolate chips, no wonder my kids too are appreciating this healthy snack!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 15 mins
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 2 dozen

Manna health mix - 2 cups
All purpose flour - 2 tbsp
Cocoa powder - 2 tbsp
Light brown sugar  - 1/2 cup (packed)
Granulated white sugar - 1/2 cup
Butter - 1 cup (melted)
Yogurt - 2 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Vanilla Extract - 2 tsp
Chocolate chips - 1/4 cup

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Line a baking sheet (that can hold upto 20-25 cookies) with parchment paper.

Dry roast manna health mix powder until fragrant. Take care not to over-roast / burn them.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients (manna health mix, all purpose flour, cocoa powder, cardamom powder, baking powder) in a large bowl. If possible, sieve the dry ingredients together so that they are evenly mixed.

For the wet ingredients, whisk melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, yogurt, vanilla extract in another large bowl until sugar melts.

Now, add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in 3 batches and mix them well. Finally, fold the chocolate chips into the cookie dough.

Take about a tbsp of the cookie dough and drop onto the cookie sheet evenly spaced apart. Gently press the cookies with the back of a fork (do not attempt to flatten your cookies with the fork).

Bake them for about 15 - 20 mins until the color of the cookies are slightly changed and are set completely. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool down.

Enjoy these healthy cookies with a cup of coffee/tea.

  • You can replace manna flour with ragi flour (or) use equal portion of ragi flour & manna flour.

January 28, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Strawberry shortcake - mmmm.... where do I even start?! Fresh, sweet & juicy strawberries layered between soft & crumbly shortcake topped up with rich & creamy whipped cream .. yummmm... every bite is a pure pleasure!

Yesterday, I was at Whole foods and just couldn't stop myself from bringing home a bag of fresh & ripe strawberries! Since then, I have been looking to bake some kind of a dessert with those bright red wonders! I was totally happy when I pinned down on this simple recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Cookies - the recipe that has all the flavor & texture of strawberry shortcake in a cookie! As expected, cookies turned out to be tasty & super flaky with a burst of flavor in every bite!

With Valentine's day around the corner, try these cute li 'l cookies "with a heart" and surprise your loved ones! There is no better way to show them your love and appreciation than to cook something delicious with all your heart. This recipe will be a sure delight for your family & friends!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 20 mins
Cook time - 15 - 20 mins
Serves - 15 - 18 cookies

Fresh Strawberries - 1 cup (hulled & diced into bite-size pieces)
Fresh Strawberries - 4-6 nos (slice and shape them into thin hearts)
Granulated sugar - 1/4 cup + 1.5 tbsp
All purpose flour - 1 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Butter - 3 tbsp (cold, unsalted)
Heavy cream - 1/3 cup
Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Line a baking sheet (that can hold upto 18-20 cookies) with parchment paper.

Combine diced strawberries, 1.5 tbsp of granulated sugar, vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Set aside for atleast 20 mins. This helps in bringing out the flavor of strawberries.

Whisk together the flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix in the butter to the flour mixture until coarse crumbs are formed. Stir in the heavy cream until the dough starts to come together, then gently fold in strawberries.

Flour mixture should look like this after adding butter & heavy cream.
Take about a small golf-sized dough and drop onto cookie sheets evenly spaced apart. Gently press the heart-shaped strawberries on top of the cookies. Sprinkle with sugar. 

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy them warm/cold with a scoop of ice-cream! Yummm!!!

  • Cookies tastes great on the same day of baking but the texture becomes soft as it cools.
  • A scoop of your favorite ice cream (or) a dash of fresh whipped cream on top takes these cookies to the next level.

January 27, 2013

Oats Dosa

Oats saga continues ...

This is a healthy tweak to my mom 's recipe for 'godhumai dosa', in which I have reduced the quantity of wheat flour & rice flour by half and replaced rava with oats (4 times). Dosa came out really crispy and tasted just like the original! As always, it's hard to tell that there is oats in the recipe!

My kiddo is a big time fan of thin & crispy dosas! Being instant dosa, this doesn 't require any kind of elaborate process, and is a good alternative for after-school tiffin/snack. Based on my experience, I would prefer to make these dosas anytime, other than weekday breakfast. It's actually too much for those fast-forwarded mornings!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 10 mins
Cook time - 30 - 45 mins
Serves - 10 - 12 dosa

Oats - 1 cup
Whole wheat flour - 1/2 cup
Rice flour - 1/4 cup
Buttermilk - 1 cup
Water - 1.5 cups (approximately)
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Green chillies - 1 no (finely chopped)
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1 tsp

Dry roast oats until fragrant & slightly crisp. Use a mixer / food processor and grind roasted oats into fine powder.

In a bowl, mix wheat flour, rice flour, buttermilk, grated ginger, green chillies, hing, salt and mix well. To this, add powdered oats, 1 cup of water and mix everything together. 

Splutter mustard seeds & crackle cumin seeds in a tsp of oil and add it to the batter and mix. Let the batter sit for about 20 mins. Oats tends to absorb water and so, batter might get thicker after the 20 min wait. So, add remaining water (as required) to adjust the batter consistency.

Heat a non-stick tawa/ flat bottomed pan on medium-high.

Take a ladleful of batter and pour it starting from outer side to center of the pan in a circular motion from atop (4-5 inches height). Sprinkle about a tsp of gingelly oil around the dosa and let it cook.

Wait for the entire dosa to change color and you should also see the edges starting to brown. Use a flat spatula to turn the dosa. Let dosa cook for about a min on the other side.

Then, transfer dosa to a plate.

Serve these thin & crispy dosas with gun powder (milagai podi) / chutney / sambar.

  • Batter should be in pouring consistency and a lot thinner than the regular dosa batter.
  • To check if the tawa/pan is hot enough, just splash little water on the tawa and you should see the water skitter around upon contact.
  • If the pan is at the right temp and batter is at the right consistency, as you pour the batter it should spread to the inner sides by itself and forms holes to give that lacy effect.
  • If you try to turn the dosa too early, it will break.
  • Not only patience, but practice too is a virtue, when it comes to making instant dosas!
  • Dosas should be eaten when hot. Dosas tends to lose its crispiness as it colds.
Linking this to the event "Mission Breakfast" @ NivedhanamsCookcookandcookThoushaltcook

January 22, 2013

Semiya Upma

Upma is one of the simplest & convenient breakfast that you can put together in no time. Upma is ideal for breakfast / evening snack / dinner. Toss in a few veggies and you have a healthy recipe for your breakfast table. Add a cup of yogurt on the side and you have a complete meal for lunch/dinner.

My daughter is a crazy fan of noodles. She loves anything and everything in the name of noodles and that looks like noodles. Per her food dictionary, she calls it as 'noodles upma'! This is one of the "yummy in my tummy" recipes that makes her super-happy which in turn makes me happy! After all, what goes around comes around!!

Basic Info
Complexity - Simple
Prep time - 10 mins
Cook time - 15 mins
Serves - 3

Vermicelli / Semiya - 1 cup
Water - 1.5 cups
Onion - 1 no
Tomato - 1 no
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Channa dal - 1/2 tsp
Whole urid dal - 1/2 tsp
Dry red chillies - 1 no
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp (adjust to your spice level)

Dry roast vermicelli until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside.

Heat oil in a wide pan. When hot, add mustard seeds & cumin seeds one after the other and let them splutter & sizzle. Add channa dal, urid dal, dry red chillies and fry them until golden brown. Next, add onions and saute until soft & translucent. Next, add tomatoes and stir for 2-3 mins. To this, add red chilli powder, hing, salt and cook the mixture until raw smell of all the spices are gone.

When it is ready, pour the water in and let it come to a rolling boil. (At this stage, make sure you have added enough salt or adjust accordingly). Add roasted vermicelli, simmer and cook with occasional stirring in between till vermicelli is soft & cooked and all the water is evaporated.

Serve it hot with pickle/chutney.

  • Make sure to dry roast vermicelli first, even if you are using roasted vermicelli (vermicelli that comes pre-roasted in packets).
  • You can choose to add favorite veggies of your choice and increase the nutritional value. But, make sure to cook the veggies before adding water/vermicelli.
  • Coconut chutney / pickle / yogurt serves as a perfect side.
Linking this to the event "Mission Breakfast" @ NivedhanamsCookcookandcookThoushaltcook

Mysore Bonda

Cold weather, Dull evening, Stuffy nose, Rumbling stomach - are you in a similar fix? Well, I know what exactly will make you feel happy & better! 

A cup of strong filter coffee with hot & crispy bondas - mmmm... bliss in a bite! Crispy outer layer & soft as a cloud inner layer with a burst of spiciness here & a touch of earthiness there, a sip of hot coffee in between to pause and enjoy the moment - pure ecstasy!!!!!

Go ahead and do yourself this favor! After all that hard work, you deserve a rewarding break!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 2 hrs (includes soaking & grinding urid dal)
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 16-18 nos

Urad dal (whole) - 1/2 cup (heaped)
Water - 1/2 cup (or) less
Fresh coconut - 2 tbsp (chopped into tiny pieces)
Whole Peppercorns - 1-2 tsp
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 tbsp (finely chopped)
Rice flour - 1.5 tsp
Oil - for deep frying

Wash and soak urad dal in water for atleast 1.5 hrs (or) until the quantity of urid dal is doubled. Using a mixer/grinder, grind urid dal into a fine & smooth batter with as little water as possible.

Add coconut pieces, peppercorns, hing, salt, curry leaves, rice flour to the batter and mix well.

For frying, heat oil in a deep pan on medium flame. 

Have a bowl of water next to the batter. When the oil is hot & ready, wet your fingers with water, make balls of desired size out of the batter and gently drop it into the oil. Fry them till they are golden brown on all sides (Do not crowd the oil). Drain excess oil in a paper towel and enjoy hot & crispy mysore bondas!

  • Grinder is the better choice when it comes to grinding urid dal. You can get thick & frothy batter  even with less water.
  • Batter should be at the right consistency. If the batter is watery, bonda will get oily. If stiff, bonda will get chewy and hard.
  • If you have the time & patience, spicy coconut chutney is the perfect accompaniment for these cute li 'l savory balls.

January 19, 2013


Chocolatey, dense, fudgy, moist, chewy - that's how I would like to describe my first-time home-made brownies! Try this simple yet delectable recipe and you will be happy that you did, I promise!

I have always craved for cakes and cookies but not so much for brownies. Infact, I have never cared for brownies until recently, when I made a batch of these goody-goodness for dessert. My family & guests were so happy & contended with this simple home-made dessert topped up with a scoop of coffee icecream. Yummmm .. Couldn't ask for more!

Believe it or not, since then I am so tempted to bake another batch of these delicious squares, but holding it off just from the fear of over-indulging!! A word of caution there, you guys!!!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 20 mins
Cook time - 20 mins
Serves - 9 big squares

Semi-sweet chocolate chips - 1/2 cup
Butter - 1/2 cup
Eggs whites - 1/3 cup (from 2 eggs)
Sugar - 1/2 cup
All-purpose flour - 1/2 cup
Cocoa powder - 2 tbsp
Chopped walnuts - 1/2 cup (optionalalmonds or hazelnuts would be yummy as well)

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x9 inch brownie pan with butter.

Whisk together the sugar and the eggs until frothy. Set aside. Melt the butter and chocolate chips on low heat (refer Tips).

Stir in the chocolate mixture into the sugar mixture. Add flour and cocoa powder and mix gently. Fold in the nuts.

Bake for about 25 mins or until the brownies are set and the top is shiny.

I used the double boiler method to melt chocolate chips. It is a traditional method which assures that the chocolates are melt properly without scorching (or) burning. Fill 1/3 rd of a deep saucepan with water and a glass bowl that snugly fits on top of the saucepan. Have enough water to indirectly heat the glass bowl. Make sure that the bottom of the glass bowl isn't touching the water. Heat the sauce pan over low heat and let it simmer. Now, place the glass bowl over the saucepan, add butter & chocolate chips and keep stirring until chocolate & butter melts.

January 11, 2013

Bread Upma

A nice variation from the regular toast with an Indian touch! Tasty breakfast or after-school snack that can be made in a jiffy!! My go-to recipe when there is excess of bread lying around in my kitchen and has never failed to satisfy my family 's taste buds!

Add finely chopped vegetables of your choice and increase nutritional value of this recipe! Adding yogurt/buttermilk gives it a very nice flavor. Bread absorbs all that yummy yogurt/buttermilk (along with the spices) and every bite of this upma has soft & juicy (not soggy!!) bread that you wouldn't want to stop eating!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 20 mins
Cook time - 15 mins
Serves - 3

Oroweat country buttermilk bread - 6 slices (any bread would work just fine)
Onion - 1 no (Medium sized)
Tomatoes - 2 nos (Medium sized)
Cilantro - 2-3 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Hing - a pinch or two
Yogurt - 1/4 cup
Buttermilk - 1/4 cup
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Lime juice - from 1/2 lime

Trim the edges and cut bread into small 1 inch squares. Set aside.

Mix yogurt & buttermilk together and set aside.

Heat oil in a wide pan. When hot, add cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add onions and saute until they are soft & translucent. Now, add tomatoes and stir for 2-3 mins. Then, add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, hing, salt and cook the mixture until raw smell of the spices are gone. Take pan off the heat, add yogurt/buttermilk mixture and give it a stir. Taste & adjust salt.

Now, add bread slices into the pan and give it a nice mix so that the yogurt/buttermilk & spice mixture coats each & every bread slice.

Remove pan from heat, add lime juice and give it a gentle mix. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot!

Linking this to the event "Mission Breakfast" @ NivedhanamsCookcookandcookThoushaltcook

Oatmeal Pancakes

Oatmeal pancakes ?!?!?!? yeah, yeah ... you heard it right!! My think-tank is working overtime when it comes to using oatmeal for breakfast!! I used to consider oats as a boring ingredient that can be used only to make an even-more boring porridge. Boy... I was wrong! As you could see, oatmeal is one of the versatile ingredients and the options seems to be endless.

Try this recipe and you will surely feel happy & good about eating healthy breakfast, pinky promise!

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 15 mins
Cook time - 20 mins
Serves - 8 pancakes

Oats - 1 cup (I used quaker old-fashioned oats)
Wheat flour - 1/4 cup
All purpose flour - 1/4 cup
Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp

Melted butter - 2 tbsp
Buttermilk - 1 cup + 2 tbsp
Ground flaxseed powder - 1 tbsp

Blueberries - 1/4 cup

Ripe Banana - 1 no (thinly sliced)
Pure Maple syrup - as required
Walnuts - finely chopped (as needed)
Blueberries - a handful

Add 3 tbsp of water to 1 tbsp of flaxseed powder. Mix well and set aside for 10 mins.

Dry roast oats until crisp & fragrant. Once cooled, grind it into a fine powder using a mixer/food processor. Mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Take a flat wide bottomed pan and heat it upto 350 deg F. To check if the pan is hot enough, just sprinkle few drops of water and you should see the water droplets skitter, move and bunch up into small ball upon contact with the pan. This is the right time to start making your pancake mix.

First, mix all the wet ingredients together. Make a small well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour over the wet ingredients. Using a whisk, mix the dry & wet ingredients together. Do not overmix. To be really precise, use the whisk to gently fold in the mixture for just 10 times (Yeah, keep a count). It is perfectly fine if the mixture is of thicker consistency and has lumps here and there. Fold in the blueberries.

Take a ladleful (about 1/4 cup) of the pancake mixture and pour it gently over the hot pan. Do not attempt to spread the mixture with your ladle. Just leave the batter alone and see how beautifully the pancake rises. 

When it starts to bubble up, flip it to the other side. Once both the sides are browned, remove from heat.

Serve it hot with your favorite fruits, nuts & maple syrup.

  • Use 1 egg in place of flaxseed powder, if you do not mind using eggs.
Linking this to the event "Mission Breakfast" @ NivedhanamsCookcookandcookThoushaltcook