25 October 2006


Adeeti, my neighbour back in Singapore, taught me to make this lovely snack last Deepavali. This year, I decided to try doing it again, and it turned out wonderfully well.

You'll need a rolling pin, and a pizza/serrated cookie cutter.

Thanks, Adeeti! Thought of you every bite!

makes about 400 gms

1 measure ghee
1 measure milk
1 measure brown sugar
5 measures all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cardomom powder
Oil for deep frying

(Note: When I say measure here, I used a regular serving spoon, with a volume of about 80ml. The proportions stay the same even if you use a larger measure like a teacup.)

Bring ghee, milk and sugar to boil in a heavy bottomed pan. Simmer till sugar dissolves completely.
When done, take it off the stove, and add cardamom powder. Add flour, 1 measure at time, mixing well after each addition. Knead into a smooth dough.
Divide dough into 4 equal parts.
On a smooth surface, roll each part into a chappati of about 2-3 mm thickness.
Cut into small diamond shapes with a pizza cutter.
Heat oil.
Fry in batches till browned. Drain on a paper towel and store in an airtight container when cool.

Badam Halwa

Badam Halwa

150 gms Almonds
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 cup ghee (or more if required)
a few strands saffron
2 tbsp almond slices or slivers (for garnish)

Soak almonds in hot water for 20 minutes. Peel, and grind to a smooth paste with milk. Keep aside.
Bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to boil in a heavy bottomed pan.
Simmer and stir occasionally till sugar completely dissolves. Lower flame and simmer for 5 mins more.
Add almond paste and saffron. Stir till will blended and there are no lumps.
Cook on a very low flame till the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan.
Add cardamom powder and mix well.
Add ghee, 1 tbsp at a time, stirring well after each addition till ghee to totally absorbed.
Transfer to serving bowl, and garnish.

Notes: If you continue stirring too long after mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan, it might tend to harden into a burfi after it cools to room temperature.

Hemu's delicious kodubale

I've been wanting to eat kodubale for ages now, but in this neck of the woods, one has to make it onself. I'm the sort who always went down the road, back home in Mysore, to a friendly neighbourhood thindi joint to get my fix of kodubales and chaklis on demand. In the backwoods of Japan, however, this is not so easy. Even the ready snacks available at the Indian stores in Tokyo are all Haldiram stuff. That stuff is good too, but not quite the same as a nice crunchy kodubale!

Then I started bugging people all around for the recipe. Each person I asked gave me a different proportion for the same stuff! So I made a little at a time. When I say little, I mean very little. Somehow I wasn't too satisfied with the results. Most of them called for coconut. And dessicated coconut really doesn't make the mark as a substitute.

Last week, just before Deepavali, I started cribbing to Hemu how I wasn't getting it right at all. Hemu who?? Once upon a time, used to be the annoying kid brother of my best friend! But even all those years ago, he showed all signs of a good foodie. And he was more than game to volunteer his tasting and critical analysis at any kitchen experiment! Now he's all grown up and busy in a high flying job, but is still a foodie at heart! This is one guy who should start his food blog. Maybe I should get his big-sister to motivate him to start one...

Anyway, Hemu delivered. He got me this recipe, which, with a minimal tweaking, worked wonders!

Hemu's wonderful Kodubale

3 cups raw-rice
1 cup roast chana dal
Red chillis to taste
1 tbsp (generous) jeera seeds (roasted)
1 cup coconut
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
water for kneading
oil for frying

Dry roast red chillis till fragrant, and let cool.
Grind to a fine powder with rice and roast chana dal.
Dry roast jeera seeds till fragrant. Add to the flour. Add salt to taste.
Grind coconut.
Heat 2 tbsp oil and add to the flour and mix lightly.
Add coconut and mix well.
Knead into a hard dough, adding 1 tbsp water at a time, as required.
Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 10 mins.
Heat oil.
Roll small portions of dough into 5mm diameter cylinders.
Take about 4cm or so of rolled dough, gently bring ends together. Seal ends to firm a circle.
Deep fry in batches in moderately hot oil for about 4-5 minutes a batch, till well browned.
Drain on paper towel, and store in airtight container when cool.

If using dessicated coconut: In a small microwave safe bowl, soak coconut in just enough water to cover, for about 5 minutes. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Then grind to paste.
The oil needs to be about the heat you'd use to fry Gulab Jamuns. Hot, but not smoking.

My entry for RCI: Karnataka hosted by Asha.

Happy Deepavali

Happy Deepavali one and all.

I've been busy cooking up a storm all of last week, sweets and the nominal savory, the odd dinner party, and of course our regular meals. All of it turned out wonderful. I unfortunately didn't get pics of all the yum grub I cooked at the Deepavali dinner party we hosted for a few friends. And by the time I realized that I'd forgotten, it was all gone! That is the best compliment I could ever hope for.

Here's the sweety-snacky spread I made up for the festival (clockwise from top left): Badam Halwa, Shankarpalis, Kaju-pista burfi and Kodubales.

My first thought was that I'd post it all in one big posting, but then decided to split it into smaller posts. Makes things easier that way.

10 October 2006

Recycled Oothappam

Nice thing about the festive season is how often we end up having hot Urad-dal vadais. But sometimes I do go overboard, and end up with more vadai batter than I can handle, and the resident gourmets decide they've had enough, and wouldn't care for anymore, thank you so much.

The problem with vadai batter is that it doesn't taste all that great if it isn't used (up) immediately. If it sours even the least bit its a disaster. The last time I had surplus batter, and other leftovers, I tried this little experiment. And it didn't turn out all that bad.

Batter, rice flour, cooking soda, veggies, a little tadka and lo-presto... Oothappams!

Recycled Oothappams

1 part Urad-dal vadai batter
3 parts rice flour
cooking soda (depending on volume of batter)

Mix well and let it stand for an hour and a half.
Add grated carrots, finely chopped onions and any other veggies that you like in an oothappam.
Optional: a tadka of mustard seeds and hing.

Heat tava (griddle).
Spread one cup (depending on tava size) batter on tava. Add a little oil around the edges. (Please don't try to make this paper thin like a dosa)
When done, and roast the other side too.
Serve hot with sambar, chutney or any other condiment of choice.

09 October 2006


What's a vegetarian to do when she's got a bad craving for a nice Mexican dinner? Cook it herself of course. I'd planned to post this one weeks ago, but somehow never got around to it.

It was an awesome dinner. Tacos, Mexican style rice and (unfortunately) virgin coladas!

I'm so thankful that I was able to get my hands on taco shells. I certainly wasn't looking forward to making tortillas from scratch. Tacos were to be filled with (clockwise from top left) store-bought taco sauce, shredded lettuce, beans, and grated cheddar cheese.

Bean filling
makes 4 cups

1 can refried beans (I used El Mariachi)
1 big onion (sliced)
1 tomato (diced)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
2 jalapenos (minced)
salt to taste
2 tbsp oil

Heat oil.
Saute onions and garlic till the onions start to brown. Add tomato, jalapenos and crushed red pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add refried beans. Adjust salt to taste.
Stir till well combined. Simmer for 3 minutes.
It's now ready to serve.

Mexican rice
serves 4

1.5 cups long grained rice (I used basmati)
4 cups tomato puree
1 big onion (chopped fine)
6 cloves minced garlic
4 tbsp oil
2 tbsp jalapenos (minced)
1 tbsp cumin powder
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup vegetable stock
salt to taste

Heat oil in a wok.
Add onions and garlic and saute till onions are transparent.
Add rice, and saute for just 1 minute on a very low flame.
Add tomato puree, cumin powder, crushed jalapenos, vegetable stock.
Stir gently to combine, and ensure that rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Adjust salt to taste, and simmer for 25 minutes, or till almost done.
Stir in chopped cilantro. Cover wok until rice is fully cooked.

Pina Colada (virgin)
makes 2

There are quite a few recipes for this mocktail online, but this one best replicates the one I liked best, as served at Margarita's, my favourite Mexican restaurant in Singapore.

3 cups pineapple juice
1 cup coconut milk
2 scoops Ice-cream
Pineapple wedges for garnishing

Blend in a food processor and pour into serving glasses.
Top with whipped cream, and a slice of pineapple.

The ice-cream - I prefer using pineapple sorbet, or if I can find it, any store bought coconut or pineapple ice cream. Vanilla works perfectly. If using vanilla ice cream, do add a drop of pineapple essence before blending. That brings out the pineapple flavour.

Dal Dhokli

All this cold and gloomy weather does inspire me get some fancy cooking done. Fancy?? Hmm.. at our place, anything other than sambar, rasam and vegetable gets classified as fancy cooking!

The first time I tried dal-dhokli was when a neighbour made some for me in Singapore. And I was well and truly hooked. What I like best about is that it's a one dish meal. Filling and extremely satisfying. Flavourful, yet not too spicy-hot for my three-year old. It doesn't show in the pic, but it's full of what I call desi-pasta, chappati dough cut into small pieces and boiled in the dal base. Served with rice and sliced onions, it can be quite a heavy meal.

Absolutely nutritious and delicious too!

Dal Dhokli
serves 4

2/3 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp ajwain
salt to taste
water to knead

Make a tight dough with all the above (like for pooris).
Roll into slightly thick chappatis (about 2-3mm)
Cut chappatis into 1" strips. Make diagonal cuts and shape like diamonds.
Keep aside.

1.5 cups yellow moong dal
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 onion (chopped fine)
1 tomato (chopped fine)
1/2 cup groundnuts (cooked)
1" piece ginger (grated)
1 green chili (or more, to taste)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch asafetida (hing)
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
Oil for tempering
water, if required, to adjust consistency
chopped coriander leaves

Wash and cook moong dal with turmeric, in plenty of water.
After dal is cooked, stir well till its a smooth blend.
Heat oil. Temper with mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing. Add whole or chopped green chili.
Add onion and saute till it turns transparent. Add ginger and garlic and continue to saute till the raw smell is gone.
Add tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Add cumin, coriander and garam masala powders.
Add the cooked dal and groundnuts.
Adjust salt to required taste.
Bring to a boil, adding water to adjust consistency.
Add the cut chappati bits, a few at a time.
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or till the chappati bits are cooked through.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
Serve hot

Ideal consistency, prior to adding chappati pieces, would be slightly thin, like tomato sauce. It tends to thicken as it simmers.
I use whole green chilies. It imparts flavour, and at the same time, doesn't make the dish too spicy. Easier to discard if one doesn't want to bite into a piece by mistake :)

Ratatouille & Pasta

I was browsing Epicurious in my usual hunt for something new, something different, and I came across this gem.

Lacking access to all the basil and thyme called for, I thought 'why not use what I can get?'

And it was quite a success. No leftovers!!!

Initially I was quite skeptical of whether the resident gourmets would like the combination of eggplant and pumpkin, but decided to follow the recipe to that extent anyway. And it worked out real well. The combination of oregano, crushed red chilli and fresh ground black pepper was really awesome!

So here's my version of that lovely ratatouille.

Ratatouille with pasta
serves 4

2 eggplants (cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
2 onions, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste
2 cups yellow pumpkin (cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
1 red capsicum (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
1 green capsicum (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp (minced) garlic cloves
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tsp crushed red chillis
3 cups penne
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Grated parmesan cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 180C.
Toss together eggplants, onions, 1/4 cup oil, and salt in a large roasting pan.
Roast mixture in oven for 15 minutes.
Toss in squash, bell peppers, 2 tbsp oil, and more salt and roast mixture, until bell peppers are tender, about 20 minutes.
Simmer tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and remaining oil in a heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.
Add roasted vegetables, crushed chilli and adjust salt to taste.
Add fresh ground pepper to taste.

Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente and drain.
Toss pasta with 1/3 of ratatouille and serve topped with remainder.

Garnish with grated parmesan, if desired.

Does adding crushed red chilli make this less 'authentic'?? Do tell...
Next time I want to add more veggies to this. Any suggestions?

08 October 2006

Apple pie

Can anything beat a lovely apple pie on a cold rainy day?? And that too when the sun has set by quarter past 5??

This was one of those days... by 4, I had to have the lights on in the house. And the gloomy weather was starting to make me cranky. Very cranky!!

And I was in the mood to whip up a nice, warm dessert that wasn't overly sweet.

A quick look in the freezer showed that I had some sheets of puff pastry. And there were a handful of apples close at hand. And that lead to the making of a lovely warm apple pie! Perfect indulgence on a gloomy, dreary day.

For an amazingly simple and utterly delicious apple pie, do read on.

Apple pie
makes 2 pies in an 18cm pie plate

4 sheets puff pastry (20cmx10cm) (thawed)
4 large apples
1 cup raw sugar (brown sugar)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 160C
Peel, core and slice apples.
In a large bowl, toss apples with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Let stand for a few minutes. Transfer to a large colander and let the excess liquid drain out.
Lightly grease pie plates.
Trim puff pastry to requires size and line the bottom and sides of the plate, leaving a 1/2 cm overhang.
Arrange apple slices neatly over base. Cover with remaining pastry.
Seal the edges and trim away any excess.
Bake till the crust is well browned (took me about 30 minutes)
Serve warm.

Notes: If you are making a fully covered pie, do remember to make a few slits on the top sheet to let out steam. A lattice pattern like this one has its steam vents :)

04 October 2006

Orthodox cooking...

.. no problem! Some random surfing and linking lead me to 'Cooking with Kurma'.

I suddenly developed this craving for some of that totally delicious, onion-and-garlic-free grub served at the ISKCON temple at Bangalore. And random linking led me to the site of Kurma Das, an Aussie chef , who's a member of the Hare Krishna movement. All said and done, one should really appreciate the sheer variety of dishes developed by the Hare Krishna chefs.

I once attended a wedding where the bride and groom were serious followers of the ISKCON movement. And that has to be one of the most delicious wedding meals I've ever eaten. The variety of food was amazing, and the creativity that went into the entire menu planning was the work of genius. I'll never forget one particular course of bhaturas served with mixed vegetable korma. That has to be among the best korma I've ever tasted. That too without onions or garlic.
Does anyone have any such recipes to share?? I'd really be grateful for some inputs!

Getting back to 'Cooking with Kurma', the site doesn't have too many recipes, but what's there is quite interesting. I think that menu planning link is interesting. I've already got some good ideas for menu combinations for my next party!