Monday, July 21, 2014


You will not find many recipes using Paneer in this food blog of mine. It's because I am very picky about it. I'd eat it in an Indian-ised Cheesecake,Chili Paneer from a restaurant in Bangalore( I do not remember it's name now!), Malai Kofta from Sukh Sagar, Bangalore& Amma's Cheese Fingers.Malai Kofta was not a dish we made at home. It was never a dish we ordered when we went out together as a family. We are hard core non vegetarians and eating out only means eating meat,poultry & seafood!
But. There is always an exception when you live in a hostel which serves a not-so-good packed lunch along with breakfast.It gets cold by the time you get to the college and gets very very cold by lunch time. So, Jitha and I would eat out at the college canteen or at the close by restaurant called Sukh Sagar.They served only vegetarian food which was totally delicious by the way. We simply loved eating there.
Malai Koftas were the highlight of all the food we ordered out there.Each plate had one huge kofta with lots of gravy. The kofta was like a tennis ball. Huge! But,it was so soft and so good! I've never eaten one after that. Recently, I was going through my recipe collection and found a recipe for it which I had noted down a very long time ago from one of Smita Chechy's cookbooks. I think it is Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe.
I always run out of ideas for our dinner curries,to go along with Chapathis.I had a block of leftover Paneer after making Amma's Cheese fingers,sitting in the freezer which, I knew would go for a toss if I didn't use it immediately.That's how I landed up making this curry.Here's how I made it.
Serves 6

250 grams paneer
125 grams potato
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Salt & Pepper to taste

Masala 1
2 onions,sliced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
2 small green cardamom
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
3 dried red chilies
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 black cardamom
3 cloves
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 green chilies
3 tomatoes,chopped
3 tablespoon chopped cilantro
4 tablespoon oil

Masala 2
3 tablespoons cashews
3 tablespoons grated coconut

Other ingredients:
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 cup yogurt
4 tablespoon malai / fresh cream
2 tablespoon ghee
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon garam masala

Koftas: Mix all the ingredients together and form a smooth dough. Divide into 12,shape them and deep fry in hot oil until browned.Drain and set aside.
Masala 1 : Heat oil  on medium high heat and saute all the ingredients through ginger,for 4-5 mins.Add the chopped tomatoes and cilantro and cook for another 2 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool completely. Once cool, grind to a smooth paste.
Masala 2: Grind together coconut and cashewnut to a fine paste using a little bit of water.

Heat the ghee in a large pan and once hot, add the ground masala (Masala 1)to it. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Then add the turmeric powder,yogurt & sugar. Cook for another 1 minute.Add the ground masala (Masala 2), 2 tablespoons malai,salt & some water and simmer covered, for a few minutes. Open the lid,add the koftas and remove from fire. Pour remaining malai on top & sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon garam masala and serve immediately.
That aroma when you are sauteeing Masala 1 is incredible! It smells like you are cooking something non-vegetarian! :) This curry will thicken as it cools, so adjust the water accordingly. The sauce can be made ahead,re-heated and then add the koftas in the end, if you want to make this curry ahead of time.We shared this curry with some friends and they felt that it tasted really good and different!

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Acold coffee holds so many precious memories for me.So so many! It was one of those drinks Amma made for us after school.She used to be so delighted in making it for us. And the two of us were equally happy to gulp it down during those hot,humid Summer-y days in Kannur. Ritchie,my brother, loved it more than me. It was a fact that was known to all 4 of us. He was almost addicted to it and would ask for two tall glasses every time we drank it.
Then later, when Amma refused to make as much as he used to ask for,since it's quite high in sugar, he learnt to make it all by himself. He was really small then. We have an age gap of 8.5 years between the two of us. So when I was in 10th standard, he was only in 2nd grade. He was so happy to have learnt the art of making a good cold coffee that, he would check with me ever so often, whether I needed some.He never measured the ingredients.He just knew it!
Tropical Iceberg will always be the drink I'd order from Cafe Coffee Day.Those countless cloudy evenings when Vasu, Anjana & myself would spend at the M.G. Road Cafe were such fun filled days! We would carry our assignments,sip into our cold coffee ( just me and Vasu...Anjana is an espresso drinker!)and pretend as if we were working on them just so that they wouldn't ask us to clear off from the tables.
Moving to the United States ended my Tropical Iceberg dreams.Seriously.Wherever I went, it just wasn't the same. I was pretty sure that it existed somewhere. Maybe not by the same name but it did exist. That's how I consoled myself. Whenever I ordered a cold coffee here, it would be ice cubes and some coffee diluted with milk thrown into one big container with a straw.The coffee orders are huge unless you know what size you want. And when you place a wrong order while you are experimenting with things,a Large can feel like an XXL!
Later, I even hated the idea of going to coffee shops here. But. After moving to Minneapolis, I went to a coffee shop called Caribou and tried explaining to the girl behind the counter, the kind of coffee I wanted. I did this at every store I visited before, but in vain! Immediately,she said,'Oh! You mean the blended kind?'. THANK GOD! Yes! That's exactly what I wanted. Atleast,it sounded like that. When the order came, I was so so happy that it was the exact same thing I always wanted!
From then on, I only go to a Caribou. Yes, no Starbucks for me.I've even got Jobin's Mummy hooked on to it. She tells me to order that coffee I like.The problem starts when we go out of State. Caribou is not as widespread as it's counterparts. Which means, I don't drink coffee when we go elsewhere! Why take a chance,right? So guys, this is how we make it at home. This tastes more like what Amma makes and a bit of Tropical Ice Berg. And the blended coffee I drink here, is a mix of the two.
Serves 2

1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 scoops of Milk Chocolate Gelato / Ice Cream
Chocolate syrup

Freeze the milk in a ziptop back until it's almost frozen.It should squish if you press hard.Pour the chocolate syrup randomly inside,on the sides of the serving glass.
Blend together the chilled milk, sugar & coffee powder together until they become slushy. Pour it into the chocolate syrup lined glass, top it with a scoop of gelato and decorate with extra chocolate syrup and coffee powder . Serve right away!

Ian can probably have a sip or two of this iced coffee and that would be it! It's too much caffeine for that little guy! Please feel free to adjust the ingredients to your taste. You can even use Vanilla Ice Cream or Coffee Ice Cream if that's what you have on hand! Don't forget to sit back, relax and enjoy this cold summery drink!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I am back with another recipe using honey! This time it's paired along with a favourite ingredient of mine, Potatoes! I can eat anything made with potatoes,any time of the day! It's such a versatile ingredient and is an instant favourite with most people. I tasted this dish 11 years ago at Mainland China,Bangalore. One of my closest friends,Vasu, is a vegetarian and she had ordered this as her appetizer. The entire plate vanished in no time and it was just the two of us!
A few months later, I spotted this recipe in a book Mamma gave me.I noted it down in my navy blue diary. You should see the condition of that diary now. It's falling apart but at the same time, it's filled with delicious recipes too! So, I have kept it safe. Have you ever come across people who steal other's hand written cookbooks? I have and it's not a good experience at all! The number of years and effort you put into writing that book is just too precious! So,wherever I am now, all my books are kept safe! If someone wants a recipe and asks for it, I will be more than happy to share it with them.It's better to be safe than sorry!
The original recipe calls for blanching sliced potatoes and then frying it. Instead,you can use frozen fries and skip a step. I am giving you the recipe from the book but feel free to substitute it. It will yield the same result. There's some joy in skipping steps in a recipe,isn't it? Especially if they give the same results!
This is a delicious appetizer and tastes best when eaten immediately. Fried potatoes retain some crunch when served alone but, when they are tossed in a slightly sticky sauce, they get soft faster.So,if you are planning to take this appetizer with you,to someplace, it will taste just the same but they will be a bit soft.
There are a few things that you need to be careful about while making this recipe. We are adding the sauces directly to the oil,which means,it can get burnt very very easily . Once burnt, no amount of modifying can rescue it. It will taste bad.So, reduce the heat to low before you add the sauces. It's applicable for all recipes containing sauces &  powders. This recipe calls for chili paste and since I didn't have it on hand, I substituted it with red chili powder / cayenne. Feel free to increase or decrease the amount to suit to your tastes. Try to have the fried potatoes ready on hand before you make the sauce, so that way you can toss it immediately. The sauce will thicken a bit as it sits and might not coat the potatoes as much as it would,when hot.

250 grams potato (or frozen fries)
50 grams cornstarch
Salt & pepper
Oil for deep frying
2 tablespoon oil
3 dried red chilies
2 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon green onions
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste

IF you are using store bought frozen fries,fry as mentioned behind the packet and toss them in the sauce.
IF you are making the fries at home,wash,peel & cut the potatoes into fingers. Blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes and let it drain completely. Once cool, toss it with cornflour,salt and pepper.Shake off the excess flour & deep fry in hot oil (350F) until golden brown in colour.

For the sauce: Heat oil in a large saute pan and add the ginger garlic paste. After 30 seconds, add the dry red chilies and mix well. Decrease the heat and add the remaining ingredients and stir it well.Add the fried potatoes and toss well to coat. Serve right away garnished with green onions, cilantro and white sesame seeds.

Ian loved it! Just like his Appa & Amma,he loves potatoes in any form. He took his share and sat on our rocking chair to eat them peacefully. Every now and then he would ask us to get him water because it is a bit hot for him.These days he calls Jobin,'Jobi'. So it was very funny to see him call out to 'Jobi',for water!  I hope you try this sometime,it really is a quick one to pull together and tastes fabulous!Next time, I will use the readymade fries. We usually don't stock fries in our freezer. So, it's going to need some planning next time on!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I am sure some of you might have smirked at the idea of writing about how to make the perfect rice. If anyone thinks that cooking some rice is a rocket science,they are so mistaken! Infact,even a child can make it. Here, I am talking about the easiest way to make the Kerala Matta rice. The chubby rice.The fatter the rice grain, the starchier it is. The starchier the rice, the more liquid it needs to cook. It also takes a longer time than its skinnier counterparts.
Many people, including myself must have found out a way which works out best for them. I always went ahead with the pressure cooker method. Infact,that's the quickest way for matta.But,how many whistles do you give it? How much water do you use? What's your proportion of water to rice?
Kerala Matta rice is also known as Palakkadan Matta, Rosematta,Chomanna Ari, Parboiled Red Rice etc.,

I never gave much thought to it until Peramma told me how to go about it. It rocked my world! It's the most easiest way to cook the matta rice without your kitchen filling up with starchy spray everywhere! No more messy countertops/cooker lids / stoves. If you have already figured a way to cook yours without the above mentioned side effects,good for you! It took me a while, you see.
Last weekend,we had this rice talk with our friends and they felt the need to rinse out the cooked rice, add more water and give it another boil, which made it a lengthy process to cook matta.That's when I told them about the method I follow. I really feel that this is the best way to go about it provided, you have a large cooker.If not, try a smaller proportion. Here's how my Peramma told me to do:

1.5 cups Palakkadan Matta rice
12 cups water

Equipment : Pressure Cooker

Method: Take the measured rice in the pressure cooker and wash it,rubbing the grains,until the water turns clear,about 4-5 times. Add the 12 cups of water and keep the cooker on the stove. Turn on the heat to low,cover the cooker and wait for the steam. It will take anywhere between 5-6 minutes. Place the weight and cook the rice on low heat for 1 whistle. Turn off the heat and let pressure go down on it's own. Open and use as needed.

Updated on 16 July 2014 : This is not an absorption method for cooking the rice. There will be plenty of water after cooking,which can be drained off if needed.If you consume the starchy water as Kanji, you are of course, consuming the starch! :-)

Monday, July 14, 2014


This cake has been on my to-bake list for atleast 2 years now. I really don't know what took me so long though.All the ingredients are my pantry staple.I am sure, it's your pantry staple too. Sometimes,certain good things have to wait. I am so glad that wait is over because this cake is a very good one. Moist,buttery, melt-in-the-mouth soft and slices beautifully! Isn't that how a good cake is meant to be?
I love adding honey to my food,indirectly. You would have seen that in my WHITE HOUSE HONEY & OATMEAL MUFFINS, HONEY ROASTED ALMONDS & BBQ PORK SPARE RIBS.This cake recipe is from Donna Hay. I chance upon this one while I was browsing through the numerous recipes she has on her beautiful website. If you haven't visited her's , please do. It's a magical place to be.The original recipe doesn't call for almonds to be scattered on top but I thought that would make our cake look prettier. You can omit that step,for sure!
Jobin is the reason why we have honey at home. He drinks a concoction of lime juice, honey and warm water every morning before his run.Even though he's been telling me to try it, I just cannot. The taste of raw honey makes me gag.I am not joking.But, it's a totally different thing, if it's added indirectly to my food. I adore it. I love whatever I've tasted so far that's been cooked with honey.One of my favourite dips these days is Honey Mustard. Two things that I dislike in the raw form,when combined, becomes my most favourite thing to dip my food into.I don't think I can get more weird that this!
So, the other day I was watching Food Network and Ian was watching it with me.We were watching a cupcake show and immediately the little boy started asking me for cake. It was a very clear request which was slowly changing into a demand. And I had zero cake in the house. I somehow convinced him I would make one that day and pacified him by giving him an ORANGE -RAISIN BUTTERMILK SCONE. Later, when he was taking a nap, I made this cake. I was so glad that I did it because he woke up asking for it. I have always noticed that if he goes to sleep asking for food, even if I fed him a minute ago, he would wake up asking for the same thing, be it 10 hours later. I do have a boy who loves to eat,for sure!

Makes one 8 inch loaf
Serves 10-12

1 3/4 cups (260 g) self raising flour
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) honey
155 g unsalted butter,melted
3 large eggs,slightly beaten
3/4 cup (180g) sour cream / thick yogurt
1 cup sliced almonds

Method: Preheat the oven to 350 F/180C.
Place the flour and sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine butter, eggs, honey & sour cream,until well combined.Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into a prepared loaf tin,top with sliced almonds and bake for 45-50 minutes or until done. Let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then, unmould it and let it cool completely.

All I can say is that, this is a delicious cake.Usually butter cakes need the regular beating and folding of the ingredients,whereas, this one doesn't require that method and it still produces a marvelous cake.This cake can be baked in a jiffy since you are melting the butter and not waiting for it come to room temperature before using it! See, isn't this a winner, all the way? We really liked this cake and this should keep Ian happy for a few days.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Minnesota likes to be cool,cold and coldest for the most part of the year.After living here for almost 5 years, I have now begun to understand the hype of Summer around this part of the globe. Everyone just waits for it to be warm.And that doesn't last for more than a few weeks here.By then it's Fall already!Then the days fly by till January and after that, nothing moves or changes for the next few months. That's the season I am not looking forward to!
For me, Summer should make you feel warm and not hot and sweaty. I don't like hot days. I always tell Jobin, that, there's a smell in the air which reminds me of Summer always. I think it's the humidity and the heat from the roads which produces that smell. It also means, I get to smell the wafting aromas of everything that's cooking on our neighbourhood grills. It's such an awesome smell of seared meat and roasted veggies. Yum! That's the summer I like.
This is that time of the year when you get to go to the Farmers Market and enjoy the beautiful produce & flowers that's grown locally.It really is a beautiful sight! This is the time when Lemonade stands pop up here and there, with variety of flavours. I love a good Lemonade. But, I also love a good,very cold Lassi. Amma is the biggest fan of Lassi in our house. She just simply adores that cold concoction of thick yogurt and sugar.
We don't get a decent Lassi anywhere in Kerala, from our personal experiences. It's always a sour thing. A good lassi is not sour. It's just the plain goodness of freshly set yogurt and not the ones that's been lying around in the fridge for days! We always look forward to our trips to Karnataka & Tamil Nadu and then gulp down our share of Sweet Lassi. It was not until we moved to Minnesota that I got a chance to taste a Mango Lassi.
It was about 4 1/2 years ago when we both, right after moving to this town,went to buy Chicken Biriyani from a store which was a good 10 miles away from where we lived. While I waited in the car, Jobin brought me a plastic container filled with Mango Lassi. I was a bit hesitant to try it, even though I love Mangoes. Boy! I was so wrong! It was one of the most delicious drinks I've had so far. It was sweet, thick, cold and delicious down to the last drop. I don't know how they made it there but here's how I make it at home.

MANGO LASSI My own recipe
Serves 3-4

1 cup thick whole milk yogurt
Scant 1 cup tinned sweetened mango pulp (or to taste)
1/4 cup whole milk
3 ice cubes
a pinch of ground cardamom (optional)

Method: Blend everything together until the ice blends in with the lassi.Serve cold garnished with a sprig of mint.

I bet you all knew how to make it already, right? This is hardly a recipe. A few things are thrown into the blender and that's it! All 3 of us love this,especially Ian. The first time he tasted this was when he was around 8 months.You will not believe if I told you the fuss he made when that got over! We ordered another one for him, which he gulped down happily, only half way though. He loves yogurt so it was not a surprise to me!
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