Thursday, October 30, 2008

Diwali Celebrations and Events

Wishing everyone a very Happy Diwali (belated). Though I am away from home this Diwali, I am lucky to be with my parents and my brother and family, that too in a country that celebrates Deepavali and has a national holiday for the same:-)

This Diwali season has been very eventful for me. Apart from being able to spend 3 full weeks away from home but still feeling at home with parents and family, I got to meet my classmate and friend from school after 12 years, with her family! Also, I was extremely pleased to meet Priti and Nags. On the flip side, this is my first Diwali without R to celebrate together, he is away for work.

Apart from traditional simple diyas, we also got some brightly painted Diyas from the Little India market.

The previous eve, we applied henna on our hands with the Mehndi cone we had bought. The picture below shows the Mehndi butterfly tattoo on my daughter's hand. I made a similar tatto for my niece who is a year older than my daughter.

And an impromptu design with a diya on her palm.

The children also enjoyed lighting sparklers, without which Diwali celebrations would have been dull.

Of course, no festival celebration is complete without a Pooja and offering to the Gods and Goddesses. We made Murukku and Unni Appam for the festival, which are usually made during Vishu. Below, I share the recipes for the two snacks.

Murukku - A Savoury Snack

To make the Murukku seen in the picture, you will need:

Rice flour - 3 cups
Urad Dal flour - 1/2 cup
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Sesame seeds - 1 tsp
Asafeotida/ Hing - 1/2 tsp
Ghee/Butter - 1/4 cup
Salt - to taste
Oil - for deep frying (we used Canola oil)

  • In a mixing bowl, knead all ingredients into a thick dough adding only enough water
  • With a murukku press or mould, start pressing out the dough into circular forms of medium size on to cut papers or a plate
  • Slide them into the oil for deep frying and fry until both sides turn light golden brown
Note: Murukku can be stored in air-tight containers. Children love to this, but if you prefer a spicier hot version, just add red chilly powder while kneading the dough.

Serve with tea/ coffee

Unni Appam - A Sweet Snack

Traditionally, this snack is deep fried in ghee, and is also known as Neyyappam. However, we did not use ghee or butter while preparing it.

To make the unni appams seen in the picture, you will need:

Rice - 2 cups
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Black Sesame seeds - 2 tsp
Cardamom powder - 2 tsp
Jaggery - 1 cup
Coconut - chopped into small pieces - 1/2 cup
Oil - for deep frying (we used Canola oil)


  • Soak the rice for 2-3 hours, drain and grind it to a thick batter
  • Melt and strain the jaggery, and mix it along with cumin seeds, sesame seeds and chopped coconut pieces in the rice batter
  • Ensure that the batter consistency is not too thick, and it can be poured into the appam griddle
  • Heat oil in the appam griddle, and start pouring the batter into it using a ladle
  • Usually, the appams turn automatically within the mould after one side is done. If this does not happen, just turn the sides after one side is done, and take the appams out after both sides turn dark brown
  • Dry them on kitchen napkins

Note: You can also add mashed bananas to the batter and make Banana Appams.

Serve with tea/ coffee

Now, to the events.

After Rakhi, Krishna and Ganesh Chaturthi, Onam and Navaratri celebrations, Priti of Indian Khana is hosting Festive Food event again with Diwali Celebrations. This entire post and the two recipes go to this amazing event.

The Unni Appams, a sweet snack, goes to

Vaishali's Sweet Vegan, as it has "no butter, milk, cream, ghee or other dairy products, no eggs, and no honey" .

Another great event this month is Easy Craft's WYF: Party Food.

I am sending both the snacks, as a party calls for savoury and sweet dishes, and the murukku and unni appam are ideal for family get-togethers, children's parties, freinds' parties, etc.

Finally, these two different-shades-of-brown goodies go to a lovely colourful event hosted by Sunshinemom at Tongue Ticklers, Food In Colours; the FIC-Brown event for October.

PS: I am not able to visit all your blogs as I am on a kind-of-vacation-like mode, which means though I could blog this post, the next post will most likely be after a week or two when I return home and settle down. I promise to catch up on all your posts and the comments in the previous posts

Friday, October 17, 2008

Okra w/ Coconut n Tamarind Masala

It is long since I posted an Okra recipe here. However, bhindi dishes feature quite regularly in our weekly menu, considering that it is my daughter's favorite vegetable. Very often, I just stir fry it with all the powders thrown in without any chopped onions. This time, I felt like doing something different with it. As I start my 3 week vacation tomorrow, I was trying to finish everything lying in the refrigerator. Of course, I did make a lot of other things, which I will post later, but I so wanted to post this Okra with Coconut and Tamarind Masala as seen in the picture.

You will need:

Okra/ lady's finger - 250 gms
Coconut - grated - 1/2-3/4 cup
Tamarind - one small lemon sized ball OR 3-4 tbsp paste
Ginger - peeled and pounded - 2 tbsp
Green chilly - sliced - 1
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 strand
Hing/ Asafeotida - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt - to taste


  • Grind coconut, cumin seeds, green chilly, tamarind paste and ginger into a coarse mixture
  • Heat oil in a pan, splutter mustard seeds, add the asafeotida and curry leaves
  • Add the turmeric, red chilly, and coriander powders, slightly roast for 2 seconds, and add the cut okra pieces, mix well
  • Cook covered for 3-5 minutes, add salt, mix well, and leave on low flame for the okra to be cooked
  • When the okra gets cooked, add the ground masala, and stir well without breaking the okra pieces

Another bright picture:

Serve with hot rice/ chapathi

Note: Unfortunately, A did not like it this way. If you have children who do not enjoy vegetables with coconut, do refrain from making this for them:-(

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cucumber Coriander Soup

Coriander is a herb that my mother always stocks in her refrigerator, and uses quite a lot in her dishes including sambar, rasam, chutneys, snacks like pakoras, sandwiches, parathas, drinks like spiced buttermilk, etc. While garnishing soups, she generally limits the use of this herb to a lesser quantity, and I preferred it that way too.

However, this weekend, I wanted to finish two things that had been lying inside the fridge for about a week - 2 cucumbers, and a large bowl of washed and dried coriander leaves. I thought of a simple salad, but no, my little one would not eat it, and raw at that. So I decided to make a soup out of the cucumber. While thinking of boil ing it and using vegetable stock, my eyes fell on a bowl of freshly set curd, and I decided to use buttermilk in the soup.

To make the Cucumber Coriander Soup seen in the picture, you will need:

Cucumber - 2 medium sized
Coriander - a large bowl - chopped
Curd - Fresh and not sour - 2 cups
Green chilly - 1
Water - 1 cup
Turmeric - a pinch (optional)
Jeera/ Cumin Seeds powder - 1/2 tsp
Pepper - to taste
Salt - to taste

  • Peel the cucumbers, peel them (if too many seeds, de-seed), grate them into a bowl like you would grate carrots, and boil with a cup of water until well cooked and semi-dry
  • In a mixer add 1/2 a cup of water to the 2 cups of fresh curd, blend well for 5 minutes and keep aside until cream settles on top
  • Remove the cream from the buttermilk, and add salt, green chilly, turmeric, jeera powders and chopped coriander leaves and blend well
  • Add this to the boiled grated cucumber, and keep on low flame for 3-5 minutes stirring continuously, adding enough water only to adjust consistency if required

Note: If you do not add turmeric, the soup will not have the light yellow colour, and will be more natural with the green coriander and white cucumber buttermilk combo with just a tinge of brown jeera. Also, I did not remove the cream, which is why my soup is slightly thicker and creamier (you can see on the sides and glistening on top in the picture)

Serve with crushed pepper in soup bowls

'Herb Mania' is an event started by Dee of Ammalu's kitchen, and is being hosted this month by Siri at Siri's Corner.

The Cucumber Coriander Soup is my entry to the Herb Mania: Coriander/ Cilantro event.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Navarathri Festive Food

I did not want to miss the Navaratri Festive Food Event, but deliberately delayed this post until I could make the wheat laddoo at Uma's Essence of Andhra and rava laddoos by Sireesha of Mom's Recipes. And surprise! I ended up making a laddoo with Rava, Wheat, and Rice Flour together on Vijayadashami. I wish to call them Thri-Laddoo (you can pronounce it 3-laddoo in English :D). I also did not use sugar, and substituted it with jaggery.

To make the Thri-Laddoo, you will need:

Rava/ Sooji/ Semolina - 2 cups
Wheat flour - 1 cup
Rice flour - 1 cup (I used Puttu Podi)Coconut - grated - 1.5 cups
Milk - 1/2 cup - boiled and cooled (or according to consistency for laddoo)

Jaggery - grated - 1 cup (I grated a big block of jaggery to get 1 cup)
Cashew - 1/2 cup
Raisins - 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder - 4-5 pods
Ghee - 5-6 tbsp (a little too generous use, being a festival food)


  • Take a non-stick pan, heat a tbsp of ghee, add the cashews, roast them, add raisins, roast until raisins swell up and turn golden brown, and remove into a small measuring bowl
  • Heat a tbsp of ghee again, add the rava and roast until light brown and crisp, and remove into a mixing bowl
  • In the same pan, add another tbsp of ghee, add the wheat flour and roast until light brown taking care not to burn, and remove into the same mixing bowl as the rava
  • Again, heat another tbsp of ghee, add rice flour and roast until light brown and remove into the mixing bowl
  • Heat a tbsp of ghee again, add the grated coconut and roast until golden brown and remove to a measuring bowl
  • In the mixing bowl add the jaggery while the roasted rava, wheat, and rice flours are still warm and mix well. Leave this mixture to cool down
  • Add roasted coconut, raisins, cashews, and cardamom powder to the cool mixture and mix well. The jaggery would have melted a little leaving the mixture with a binding texture
  • Add milk at this stage and ensure that the consistency is just enough to form round laddoos with your hand
  • Start rolling the laddoos with your palm and leave on slightly warm pan

Offer as Prasad in Pooja, and later serve with your festive meal:-)

Another shot:

Palak Puri

Puris are usually made at my house only for festive occasions, or when my daughter has not had anything of wheat and I start feeling guilty. A loves puris, and apart from wheat bread or wheat dosa, she hardly eats anything made containing wheat, like chapathis/ rotis. She also likes Aloo Parathas, but again (more guitly), those are rare too in my house!

I had bought fresh palak (spinach) and did not want to make the palak paratha or dal palak curry, so decided to try a new combination. The palak puris turned out to be really tasty, and I also made Lauki-Moong Dal (Bottle Gourd in split-dehusked-green gram bean) curry.

To make the puris, you will need:

Wheat flour - 2-3 cups
Spinach/ Palak - 2 cups - chopped
Green chilly - 1
Cumin seeds/ Jeera powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt - to taste
Water - for mixing dough
Oil - 2 tsp and for deep frying


  • Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, add turmeric, jeera powder to roast, add palak and green chilly, cook covered for 3-5 minutes, and cook uncovered after adding salt until dry and cooked
  • After the palak cools down, grind into smooth paste
  • Take wheat flour in a mixing bowl, add the palak paste, and start kneading after greasing your plams with a little oil or ghee/ butter until the dough is well done and keep aside for 15-20 minutes
  • Heat in a heavy bottomed pan/ kadai
  • Start rolling out small balls of the dough into thin circular puris

  • Add one into the oil and keep adjusting the flame in order that the puris don' get burnt
  • After one side puffs up, turn it over with the ladle and ensure that the other side is also well done
  • Drain the extra oil, and start with the next puri

Moong Dal with Bottlegourd Curry

Things you need:

Bottlegourd - cut into cubes - 1 cup
Moong Dal - 2 cups
Green chilly - 1 - sliced
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Jeera/ Cumin seeds powder - 1 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Methi/ Fenugreek seeds powder - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 strand
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt - to taste


  • Pressure cook moong dal with bottlegourd and green chilly in about 1.5 cups of water for 3-4 whistles
  • Mash the dal well after it cools down, without breaking the cooked bottlegourd pieces
  • In a tadka pan, heat oil, splutter mustard seeds, add curry leaves, and while the pan is still hot, add the powders and mix well
  • Add this to the moong dal wih salt and mix well, add water to adjust consistency and bring to boil

Serve with puris (I made normal puris also, just in case A refused to eat the unfamiliar green coloured one).

This post is my entry to the Festive Food Event: Navaratri hosted by LG of Taste of Mysore

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Saas Bahu And Pakora

I have been watching a lot of movies after moving to Mumbai (not anything to do with being closer to Bollywood town) and that too in the theater/ multiplexes. I love watching movies, and most of our let's-watch-a-movie-tonight outings here were abrupt,unplanned decisions which worked better than organized, planned outings in Hyderabad. The last movie I watched in the theater and one of the first that I watched the same day of release (we went for the late night show the day this movie was released) was 'Saas Bahu Aur Sensex.'

I am not a movie critic, and I will only say that I liked the movie, especially Farooq Shaikh. I went for this movie only because of him:-), and I am glad I did. When I read Bharathy's lovely post for her sis, and remembered Nag's contest, I so wanted to post before the deadline. I am so forgetful, I never will be an early bird!

In the entire movie, the stockbroker and his ladies are not shown having chai together, but yes, they do meet close to tea-time to discuss stock market investments. The gossip ladies who follow Mrs. Bineetha Sen discover her 'interest' in the stock market while 'waiting and watching' over a cup of chai. I also liked bits of the 'Saas-Bahu' tiffs shown in the movie, especially the kitty party scene where the Saas belittles the Bahu on her Samosas (another chai snack). Somehow, I feel a nice hot chai snack is what goes for this contest, and therefore, decided on Pakoras.

And this post is dedicated to my friend J, who moved to a different city just when we were getting to be very good friends and our children were getting to fight with each other more often. We still are good friends, but distance doesn't help us have hot pakoras along with chai and discuss how to invest better for our children.

Finally, to make the pakora seen in the picture, you will need:

Besan/ gram flour/ garbanzo flour - 2 cups
Baking soda - a pinch
Onions - 4 large - sliced round and halved
Ginger - 2 tsp - peeled and pounded
Curry leaves - 2 strands
Cilantro - 1/2 cup - finely chopped (Optional - I didn't have at the time:-(, but I recommend it)
Green chillies - 2 - finely chopped (Optional - R doesn't like to bite into green chillies in any dish)
Red Chilly powder - 2 tsp
Jeera/ Cumin seeds powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Water - per consistency
Oil - enough for deep frying


  • Take about 2 tsp of oil and mix well with the baking soda in a mixing bowl, before adding the besan and remaining ingredients
  • Make a thick batter with all the ingredients
  • Heat oil in a deep frying pan and drop spoonfuls (I used a tablespoon) of batter into the oil
  • Adjust heat to ensure that the pakoras do not get burnt, and keep frying until both side are done to a nice brown colour
  • Drain the excess oil on kitchen napkins or tissues

Note: First, you can do a test fry, and see if it is absorbing too much oil, or the insides are cooked right, and adjust batter consistency with more besan, or more water accordingly

Serve hot with chutney and chai

Edited to add:

I just realized I missed another great event that I could send the pakoras to. Hima of SnackORama is hosting Sunday Snacks event with the theme Fry It for this month. I just love this event and followed the previous Bake It theme with awe, not to say that I missed it because I don't bake (yet! :-().

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I too make/ have breakfast!

I was quite amused because, while browsing through my posts, I found that I have posted only two breakfast dishes, both being upma and the remaining being side dishes to go with a breakfast item.

I checked my photo archives, and discovered a few pictures, not great, but post-able. So, here is one of them.

I am not very good at making Puttu, and after my daughter managed to break my Chiratta-Puttu mould, I mostly make puttu in my steamer, without the traditional Puttu Kutti, or a pressure cooker. I always get fresh homemade Puttu Podi (Puttu powder/ coarse rice powder used to make Puttu) from my mother.

To make Puttu, you will need:

Puttu powder/ Coarse rice flour - 2-3 cups
Grated Coconut - 1/2 - 1 cup, according to taste
Salt - 1/1 - 1 tsp, to taste
Water - about 1/2 - 3/4 cup - warm, for the correct consistency

Method (in a steamer):
  • Take the rice flour in a pan, mix salt, and slowly add the warm water while mixing well without forming any lumps
  • Ensure that the flour thickens and the water is mixed well but not to form a paste, the mixture should still be loose and kind of similar to slightly wet bread crumbs
Note: If lumps are formed, you can whisk in a mixer/blender and break the lumps
  • Keep water in a the steamer for boiling, and on the steaming plate, add a thin layer of grated coconut first
Note: If you have a muslin cloth or a plantain leaf, you can use this as the base in the steaming plate
  • Add a thin layer of puttu podi mix on top of the grated coconut
  • Repeat the layers of coconut and puttu podi mix alternately until the prepared mix is over, ensuring that the top layer is that of grated coconut

Note: If you find that mixing in alternate layers is time-consuming, just mix the grated coconut into the puttu podi while mixing with water and salt. I prefer it the 'layer' way.

  • Now cover the steamer, and if the steamer has a whistle, keep upto two whistles, else steam for about 10 minutes on medium flame until you can smell the flavour of steamed coconut and rice in the vapours from your steamer:-)
Remove the steaming plate, and serve portions along with Cherupayar/ Green Gram Curry