Sweet Khaaja


This recipe is from my friends mom, Dr. K.R. She can make hundreds of these in no time.  It is a fairly easy sweet to make but I failed miserably the first time I made these and then actually saw aunty make this in person and figured out what went wrong.

A simple dough is shaped into long rolls, sliced, fried and drenched in a simple sugar syrup. The fried rolls absorb the syrup and changes the texture of the rolls and turns it into a sticky confection. A lot of Indian sweets follow this same pattern. Sweets like these are in a category of its own in Indian cooking. Maybe the equivalent of making cookies or fudge in western cultures.  Sweets play an important role in happy events and celebrations in India.  They are made to celebrate religious festivals, special occasions and given to friends and families as gifts.They can also be served as tea or coffee time snacks.They are fairly sweet so usually one piece will do.

So for Christmas, I offer you all a Khaaja. Have a great Holidays!



Sweet Khaaja

2 cups All purpose flour

pinch of salt

1 stick Blue Bonnet margarine

1/2 c water

2 tbs rice flour

Oil for frying

Sugar syrup:

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light or dark Brown sugar

1.5 cups water


Melt the margarine and add 1/2 c water to it. In a mixing bowl add flour and salt and add the melted margarine. Knead into a soft and pliable dough for 5 minutes. Set aside.

Make the syrup by combining both the sugars and 1.5 c water. Bring to a boil and then shut heat down very low to keep warm.

Take the dough and divide into 2 sections. Take a section and roll out into a square as thin as possible. Sprinkle some oil all over surface except for one edge. Sprinkle rice flour onto oil and spread evenly all over surface. Starting at the edge with oil-rice flour mixture, start rolling into a tight swiss roll. When you come to edge that does’t have oil-rice flour mixture, smear little water and seal edges to roll. Now cut into about 1 inch sections. Then flatten them slightly with rolling pin.

Heat oil in a skillet on low flame. Add the khaaja pieces and fry slowly, once they start floating you can increase heat until they are golden brown. Remove from oil and add to warm syrup to coat.you can shut off the heat to the syrup.

Roll out the second dough ball as above and fry. When this batch is ready to remove from oil after frying, remove the first batch from sugar syrup and place on a tray and add the second batch to syrup. Served best when made fresh.

Tip: You can make these ahead of time by frying the roll pieces and then refrigerating them. When you want fresh Khaaja, place them on a baking sheet and warm them up in the oven and then place in warm sugar syrup as needed.



Bacon Egg Cups


imageThis is a quick and easy breakfast, especially if you have guests home for the holidays.It also is something I make ahead of time and refrigerate.Then I warm it up for a grab-and-go breakfast on the way to work. It is low carb and high  in protein and filling. Calories per serving 190, carbs 5.6 g, Protein 15g

Bacon Egg Cups

Serves 6

6 slices of bread of your choice

6 eggs

6 bacon strips- cooked

1 cup sausage crumbles- cooked

1 cup Shredded cheese of your choice

Salt and Pepper to taste

Parsley flakes

1 tbsp Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400. Get a large muffin pan and spray with non-stick spray. Cut bread with a circular cookie cutter to fit your tray. Place on bottom of tray. Edge with bacon strips. Add some sausage crumbles and cheese. Crack 1 egg into well. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley flakes. Bake for 15 mts. Remove and garnish with parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

I have made this with an omelette filling adding onions, tomatoes, peppers etc.

Can top egg with a little basil pesto or salsa.


Date Pickle


This request is from my friend, A.R. She loves this pickle. I debated posting this recipe but finally thought….all good things are better when they are shared! This pickle is very good accompaniment to a spicy rice dish like biriyani. It is sweet and spicy at the same time.

Date Pickle
3 Cups (about a 24 oz container) chopped Dates
2 cups vinegar
 1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp ginger, sliced finely
2 tbsp  garlic, sliced finely
3 green chilies, chopped finely
few sprigs of curry leaves
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp Pickle masala or to taste ( can usually find at Indian stores, I like Periyar and Grandma’s brand)
1 tbsp kashmiri chili powder
Soak the chopped dates in 2 cups of vinegar to soften for 10-15 minutes. Place in saucepan and add 1 tablespoon sugar and cook until soft. Mash up big pieces.
 In another saucepan add oil and then mustard seed, After they are done spluttering add sliced ginger, garlic, green chilies, curry leaves and fry for just a few minutes. Do not brown.  Add salt, pickle masala, and  kashmiri chili pdr. Sauté for a minute or so then add dates. Remove from heat and add little vinegar as needed to make a chutney or jam like consistency.
Place in clean bottles
 Yields about 30 oz or 2 pint jars
Can be stored in refrigerator for a few weeks.

Peanut Chutney for Idli/Dosai


South Indian breakfast items, Idli and Dosai are usually served with Sambar (a tangy lentil dish) and an array of chutneys which act like condiments. Coconut chutney is probably by far the most common. I recently have been making this spicy Peanut Chutney instead. I love anything with peanuts and that maybe why I love this chutney.

Try it!

Peanut chutney

Peanut Chutney

2 c Dry roasted peanuts, (I use Planters)

2 tbs oil

1/2 tsp cumin

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 green chilies, chopped

1-2 tsp chili powder

1/8 tsp Hing (asafetida)


For Tempering:

1 tbs oil

1/4 tsp black mustard seed, sprig of curry leaves, 2 dry red chilies. (1/4 tsp whole urad-optional)



Warm up 2 tbs of oil in a small frying pan and add garlic and brown, add cumin seeds, green chilies and peanuts. Roast until a medium  brown. Take off stove and add chili powder, hing and salt. Mix together and then transfer to a food processor/grinder. Grind well to an almost smooth paste with plenty of warm water until it reaches a pourable consistency.

Add tempering:

Warm up 1 tbs oil in a small frying pan and add black mustard seeds. After they are done popping add a sprig of curry leaves and 2 dry red chilies (can also 1/4 tsp whole urad) and toss into chutney. Can also grind these items together when grinding the peanuts.

Serve with idli or dosai.

Tapioca (Koppa) Biriyani


It has been awhile since I posted but I hope this post will make up for it. Will see if I can get back into the cooking, picture taking and posting thing again.

Koppa Biriyani is a typical Kerala dish encompassing all the flavors keralites love. I think if a cooking show challenged me to make a dish that epitomizes Kerala cooking and my palate then it may be this dish that I would choose to make.

Koppa is tapioca or yucca. This ubiquitous root vegetable is an everyday staple in Kerala households (and toddy shops!) and when cooked is like potatoes. It can be eaten very simply boiled and salted served with a fish curry or a shallot chutney or cooked with turmeric yellow, coconut mixture. Koppa and Fish curry is the most commonest combination but I love the way meat goes with it. Beef is eaten widely in Kerala and added to koppa it is amazing. Any meat probably could be substituted. This is a very “meat and potatoes” meal. Biriyani is a misnomer because that dish usually has rice with some type of meat but instead of the rice this uses tapioca. Enjoy!


Koppa Biriyani


3 lbs or so of Chuck Roast- Beef, cubed ( can use lamb, goat or chicken)

2 lbs  of Frozen or fresh Tapioca/Yucca pieces

2 tbs Oil of your choice-coconut oil will taste more authentic

1 lg onion- sliced

1/4 tsp Mustard seeds

2 tbs Ginger, chopped

2 tbs Garlic chopped

3-4 dried Red chilies

Meat masalas appox 1-2 tsps. each- garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric, red chilly powder

Sprig of Curry leaves and cilantro for garnsh

Salt to taste



Boil Tapioca chunks in a large stockpot of salted water. Cook until tender yet holds it shape. Drain and remove center fibers and cube into chunks. Set aside.

Meat preparation-In a large saute pan, add oil and when hot add mustard seed. Allow to pop. Then add onions, ginger, garlic, curry leaves and saute until softened. Add red chillies. Add masala powders and saute for a few seconds then add meat. Add salt to taste. Toss well and let cook until tender. Cover the pot for the first 10 minutes or then uncover. You want the curry to be semi-dry. Add a little water if sticking to pan. This will take at least 20 minutes. You should have tender meat pieces with a little bit of thick gravy.

Combine tapioca chunks with the meat curry and mix well. Garnish with cilantro.

Kerala Diamond Cuts



Christmas time is always a nostalgic time and these diamond cuts always recreates memories of those long gone. My paternal grandmother would make these fired, crispy, sugar coated snacks when we would visit her in Kottayam over the summer. Being a diabetic, she would reserve some without adding the sugar coating. When my dad would visit us in Muncie he would ask me and my mom to make these crunchy snacks so probably reminded him of his dear mom too.  I make these every Christmas and this year decided to use them as favors.  The cumin seeds added to the sugar syrup makes it perfect. It is a great accompaniment with a cup of afternoon coffee or tea. There is a North Indian version called Shakara para but I think they add sugar to only the dough and no sugar coating on the outside like these diamond cuts.

Kerala Diamond Cuts


1 cup all purpose flour

1/2  cup  powdered sugar

pinch salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1 tbs ghee

Sugar syrup– 1 cup sugar and 4  tbs water, 1 tsp cumin seeds—combine together and bring t a boil and set aside


Combine the flour, salt, baking pdr, cardamom pdr, powdered sugar and ghee. Rub together to incorporate all the ghee and add water little by little to make a soft dough. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for 20 mts. In the meantime make the sugar syrup and set aside.

Take sectioned balls of dough and roll out onto a floured surface into a fairly thin sheet. Use a knife or pastry cutter and make vertical strips and then cut on the bias diagonally.

Heat up oil in a frying pan and deep fry diamonds a deep golden brown. After frying all the dough, sprinkle the sugar syrup over the cuts and toss until all is coated and glistening. Spread out in a thin layer on a cookie sheet. I added some colored sprinkles due give them a festive flair. Allow to air dry, tossing intermittently. Once all have dried, transfer to an air tight tin.






Decoration Ideas for any party


For our SAMA FEST dinner we came up with colorful centerpieces that were easy to make and elegant. My friend made a multicolor peacock out of construction paper and had them color copied. I added the candle part. We found 3 royalty free indian designs and had it printed on gold Vellum paper ( available at any craft store). This acetate type paper is somewhat translucent so that when you put a light source behind it, it will shine through. We wrapped the vellum paper around a standard glass vase and added a matching ribbon.


When I printed the paper, the red was not as bright as I would like so went over it with a sharpie.
It almost looked like printed silk fabric.


For the hall decorations, my friend, AR, made multicolor peacocks out of fabric and glitter paper onto large poster boards. She then hot glued black ribbon to the back and we tied them to the pillars in the hall. Here are some of her beautiful creations.




Tropical Fruit Salad


My sister was looking for a new fruit salad recipe for a wedding she needed to cook for. I told her about this recipe and thought I hadn’t made it in awhile. My husband loves fruit salad. It is similar to Frog’s Eye Fruit salad in that you add a very small round pasta called Acini de Pepe or the star shaped Stelline pasta. It gives the consistency of tapioca.


Tropical Fruit Salad

Serves at least 10-15


2 cans chunk pineapple

2 cans Mandarin oranges

4 containers of Del Monte Diced Mango–yields about 2 cups

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 block of Cream cheese, softened

1/2- 1 cup sugar, as per taste

1 cup uncooked pasta- Stelline or Acina de Pepe

1/2-1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

3 tbs chopped nuts- walnuts/macadamia, hazelnuts–whatever you like

Handful marshmallows


In boiling water cook and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the reserved fruit juice and let sit in it for a few minutes until totally cool.

Take whipping cream and start whipping until it gets frothy. Add sugar gradually and then the very soft cream cheese. Whip until fluffy and thick. Combine all the drained canned fruits in a large bowl. Reserve some of the liquid.  Drain.

Combine the pasta to fruit and gently fold in the whipped cream to combine. Add coconut, nuts and marshmallows. Garnish with more nuts and refrigerate for an hour or 2 before serving.


  • You can add mango pulp as you whip the  cream for added flavor.
  • May omit marshmallows if vegetarian.
  • Add fresh fruits if in season.
  • Delicious when topped on warm pound cake.
  • Layer with angel food cake for a light trifle.

Egg Korma


It has been a hectic few weeks and was not able to post anything. We had our annual entertainment and dinner program of the South Asia Muncie Association last weekendSAMA FEST 2013. I was on the Board so had many organizational things to get together as well as headaches to sort out too. The Board learned quickly that you cannot please 100% of the people a 100% of the time. Overall we had a lovely evening and had 360 guests–our largest turnout yet. Our whole decoration theme was birds to play on the fact that we migrated from other places to the US and that we should appreciate the  multicolored array of our feathers  but that we are still all the same. The centerpieces all carried the bird/multicolor peacock theme. It was a very cohesive plan.

I wrote the script for the entertainment program–Called “Yatra (means a journey) A Discovery of Heritage and Homeland” . It was about 2  friends ( one Indian and one American) are traveling to South Asia and they visit different regions and see the cultural items from that state they visit. There were dances from Punjab, Bollywood, Bengal, South India, Bangladesh and skits in between. It turned out beautifully. Isn’t it nice when what you visualize something in your head and it  becomes a reality? It was all about appreciating the regional differences and coming together as one in unity. In previous years this was called Diwali program then became named Diwali/Eid/Christmas, even though none of the evenings’ program included anything about Eid or Xmas. So this year the Board wanted it to be non-denominational and all inclusive. We decided to showcase and embrace regional differences without having religion in the mix. Some didn’t like the change, some absolutely loved it. The Americans( Which was half of the audience) enjoyed it and never realized each state in India is almost like a different country with its own language and culture.  Anyway, the next Board can go back to what was done in previous years and we will support them.


Anyway, that week I did not cook much so now back to reality.
Here is a dish I made for breakfast to go with Dosai and Idli but you can make this  for a quick weeknight dinner too. Enjoy!

egg korma

Egg Korma

Serves 4


6 hard boiled eggs

1/4 tsp mustard seed

Pinch of cumin seeds

1/2  medium onion diced

1 tsp ginger and garlic paste

2 sliced green chillies

1 tomato, diced

1 tsp chili powder or to taste

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp garam masala or egg/chicken masala

few curry leaves

Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

1 tbs vegetable oil

Salt to taste

To Grind:
3 tbs unsweetened coconut flakes

1 green chili

2 tbs of cashews

1 tsp Khus Khus/poppy seeds

1/2 tsp Fennel seeds


Take all items to grind and puree to a smooth paste adding little water. Set aside. In a frying pan heat oil. Add mustard seeds and wait until they stop spluttering. Add cumin seeds. Then add chopped onions, slit green chilies curry leaves and ginger-garlic paste. Sauté until light brown. Add the masala powders and salt to taste. Fry until aromatic then add ground coconut mixture. Add some water to make a thick gravy. Allow to cook on simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Keep adding water if it is getting too thick.  Add salt to taste. Add the halved boled eggs gently and coat with gravy. Cook for about  5 mts and then garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serve with rice, biriyani, dosai, appam ,  chapathis


Ode to the Idli



Oh Idli…we have had our share of upsets and failures.

I have fought many battles with you, for you…knowing you could be soo much more.

You can be hard, unwieldy, unforgiving. You make me dance to your rhythm, and only yours.

You have disappointed me many a time but I keep coming back to you, knowing your potential, knowing all that you can be are at my fingertips.

You left me frustrated and sad many times after all the time and effort I spent…. honing you, molding you,

I know I can make you better than the last time we met. I know I can.

I put up with your erratic behavior and time and time again keep running back to you.

All out of love.

Oh Idli, be all that I know you can be.

Idli–a South Indian Breakfast staple ( and a finicky one at that)

Makes 30-40


4 cups Idli rice (Sona masoori)

1 cup whole urad dhal

Water for grinding

Salt to taste

Idli Steamer


Rinse the rice well and soak in cool water for at least 4 hrs. Rinse the urad dhal and soak separately for 1 hr at the most. Drain off water and blend the rice first with just enough water to blend. Should be little grainy in texture ( for dosai batter you would grind to a fine paste). Now grind the urad dhal. Keep adding water as you grind because it needs to be fluffy as you puree it. This is a key. Urad needs a good amount of water or else you will end up with hard, flat idli.

Combine and fold both batters. Add little salt. Cover and let sit in a draft free warm place. Leaving in the oven with the light on is a good place. Let sit for 8-10 hrs to ferment.The batter is ready when frothy air bubbles can be seen throughout. Do not overmix and deflate the air bubbles.

Before preparing, add more salt to taste. Prepare your idli cooker plates and ladle batter into moulds. Steam cook for 5-8 minutes. Remove from cooker and let cool down slightly. Remove and serve with sambar and chutney.


Tips: (learned the hard way, after much trial and error)

Soak the rice and dhal separately. Use cool water not too warm.

Use whole urad dhal, not split urad.

Don’t soak Urad too long—use cold water…even ice water is good. Too long fermenting can make it lose its fermenting properties. 30 mts to an hour is  more than enough.

When grinding the urad dhal it needs more water than you think. Add cold water little at a time. Even if is a paste continue grinding until it becomes  light and frothy.
Getting a Dosai/Idli grinder has done wonders to my recipe. There is a big difference in the lightness using this. Invest in one if you do make dosai and idli frequently.

Here is the one I have–


Here are some idli steamers too



Make Kanchipuram Idli by adding chopped onions, Chopped  cilantro, chopped tomatoes and green chillies before steaming.

Can add grated carrots and beans and peas before steaming

Add sugar and steam to make sweet paniyaram (usually made in a small round pan for Ebilskivers I used for Unni appam)
Can make savory Paniyaram too–adding chopped onions, green chilies, cilantro leaves

Chepala Pulusu–Andhra Fish Curry


Chepala Pulusu

This is for all my Andhra friends out there…Chepala Pulusu (Chepala-Fish, Pulusu-a tangy gravy). This dish is similar to the Tamil Meen Kolumbu.

The use of red chili and tamarind makes this curry very spicy and tangy. In my home state of Kerala we do not use the type of  tamarind used in this dish for fish curries—we use a special sour fruit–kokum ( a fruit from the tree Garcinia indica, part of the mangosteen family) .

_indica Garcinia indica

_indica Garcinia indica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this dish the addition of sambar tamarind yields a more thick and dark colored gravy.

Chepala Pulusu


1-2 lbs-Pomfret, Porgy, king fish, Blue fish, etc…cleaned and sliced into steaks or chunks

Marinade for fish: 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp lemon juice, salt

1 large onion + 2 green chilies- pureed

1/2 onion, sliced

Few sprigs of curry leaves

1 lg tomato–pureed

3-4  tbs oil

1/2 tsp Mustard seeds

1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

2-3 tsp Red chili powder (or to taste)

1/2 tsp paprika

2 tsp coriander pdr

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

1tbs unsweetened coconut flakes

1 heaping tbs of tamarind block/paste dissolved in 4 tbs water and strained

Chopped cilantro for garnish


Step1:   Take the cleaned fish and add marinade ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hr.Heat oil 1-2 tsp oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the fish until light brown. Remove from oil and keep aside.

Step 2:  In a frying pan add remaining oil and add mustard seeds and fry til popped, add cumin and fenugreek seeds. Add sliced onions and curry leaves and fry until brown. Add ginger-garlic paste. then pureed onions. Fry until lt brown. Add all masala powder and sauté for a few minutes (until raw smell is gone). Add pureed tomatoes and allow to cook for 5 mts. Add more water if gravy is getting too thick. Oil should start separating. To this add tamarind paste and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add more water as needed to get a semi thick gravy. Add coconut flakes. Now drop in the fried fish and allow to cook for another 5 mts.

Transfer to a dish and garnish with chopped cilantro. Best served with white rice. Serves 4-6.

Chepala Pulusu




This a quick and easy dessert or sweet when you have company that drops in for tea/coffee or dinner. Also a good potluck item when you want to take something to a friends house and don’t know what to take. This has saved me on a few occasions. My dad used to like this (as well as Bananas foster and pineapple upside down cake) when I would whip this up quickly after eating dinner.



3 cups fine vermicelli

2 tbs ghee/butter

2-3 cups water

1-2 cups sugar (per taste)

2 tsp cardamom pdr

chopped pistachios and sweet shredded coconut


Heat a frying pan and add 1 tsp or so of ghee. Add the thin vermicelli and roast until a light golden brown color. Add the water and cook until the vermicelli is soft and most of the water is reabsorbed. Keep Stirring. When cooked add the sugar and cardamom powder. When you add the sugar it may get watery again so keep stirring until most is reabsorbed. Add ghee.  Add the nuts and coconut. Transfer to a plate or tray. Smooth out and garnish with more nuts and coconut. It will get firm as it cools. You can cut it into pieces or serve warm.


Dhaba Egg Dosai


Dosai ( a lentil based crepe) is our family’s favorite breakfast. We sometime have this for dinner too. There is some prep time involved so not something you can whip up immediately. There are dosai Nazi’s out there that like their dosai a certain way….some like it crispy and brown, others soft and pliable. I prefer the former. I hate white colored dosai’s that are flimsy in structure. It turns out the best if made on a seasoned cast iron skillet. Non stick pans don’t produce the same amount of browning and crispiness that we like. The pan you make for dosai should not be used for anything else or else you will have it sticking to the pan.

Dosai is the base for many fillings. It can be eaten plain with chutney and sambar or filled with a myriad of stuffings. I have filled with chicken masala, beef masala, the traditional potato masala but the quickest ones are no filling of egg dosai.

Dhabas (or Thattukadas in Kerala) are street side vendors open only at night to make fast food for the truckers that travel at night. Sometimes they serve some of the best Indian food around. And Dosai is one of them.You can find a myriad of dosai varieties at some Indian restaurants that prepare more South Indian dishes. They can be almost 3 feet long if prepared on a restaurant griddle.

Here is the proportion of ingredients I have finally perfected after much trial and error  that gives me the crispy and brown color that I like.

Dhaba Egg Dosai


2 cups  Basmati rice

3/4 cup urad dhal
1/4 cup toor dhal
1/4 cup chana dhal
1 tsp methi seeds
salt to taste
2 tsp sugar
Few eggs seasoned with salt and pepper
Step 1
Wash and rinse the rice well. Place in a bowl and cover with water…at least 2 inches above rice. Cover and set aside. Take all the dhals and rinse well, cover with water like the rice and set aside. Let sit for 3-4 hrs.
Step 2
Drain all the water from rice and dhals. Take the rice and add little lukewarm water in a blender and grind until smooth and pancake batter like consistency. Do not add too much water. Place into a large bowl. Now grind all the dhals the same way as the rice until a smooth batter forms.. Combine the rice batter and the dhal batter and whisk together until well incorporated. Cover and set aside on your counter or place in the oven. Let sit for at least 8 hrs for the batter to ferment.When ready the batter should be frothy and have small bubbles throughout mixture.
Step 3
Heat up your cast iron skillet on medium heat. Beat up the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Take some of the batter in a separate bowl and add the salt and sugar. Should just be mildly seasoned. Put a little of ghee or oil onto skillet to coat. Take a ladleful of the batter and spread out the batter starting at the center in concentric circles to get a thin crepe. Drizzles a  few drops of ghee or oil onto surface. Take your beaten eggs and pour a tablespoon or so to the top and spread around the dosai and let cook. Drizzle a little more ghee if needed to enhance crispiness.  It usually will cook without having to flip.
dhaba dosai
Roll up and it is ready to eat with sambar, chutney, or even chicken curry (my daughters favorite combo)
Here is a Video of me preparing this delicious dosai.

Avial, A Kerala Tradition

The pookalam during Onam. Onam is the traditio...

The pookalam during Onam. Onam is the traditional festival of Kerala, India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Onam is a festival celebrated in Kerala by people of all religions. This 10 day festival time commemorates the annual return of a much loved mythical King, Mahabali from the underworld. It is also a harvest festival.The season is marked by shopping for new Onakodi (traditional Kerala clothing made of fine cotton and gold zari borders), making a pookalam (a round motif placed on the floor made with flower petals), annual snake boat race or Vallamkali and the great Onam Sadya or feast.

This feast is served on a banana leaf with course after course of vegetarian dishes, and sweet payassums (dessert). There are at time almost 18 different dishes served for this feast.


Avial ( pronounced avee-yil) is a very traditional Keralean dish and a must for the special days of Onam. This mixed vegetable dish has ground coconut (like most dishes from Kerala) and a little yogurt. In India there are more variety of veggies that are included in this dish but here in the US, options are more limited. we can’t get Chena, chembu etc so I use vegetables we get here like bell peppers, zucchini and squash. It is quick and easy to prepare.

This recipe was requested by my med school classmate, from Ooty, NG—-enjoy!


1 red and 1 green bell pepper

Handful of green beans, trimmed
1 zucchini
1 squash
1 potatoe
2 carrot
1/2 onion, sliced

If available- 1/2 a green mango, 1/2 a green plantain

6-8 curry leaves

1/2 cup plain yogurt
Salt to taste
Coconut oil to drizzle

To grind:
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 green chilies
1/4 tsp turmeric


The key is to cut all the vegetables in the same size and thickness- generally in long sliced pieces.
Add all the veggies in a saucepan, with salt and curry leaves, add a little water. Cover and cook until soft.Can do this in the microwave as well.
In the meantime, take all the ingredients in the “To grind” list and grind to almost a semi-fine paste.

Add this to the cooked veggies and combine. Cook uncovered until most of the water has evaporated.Will be slightly mushy. Add more salt if needed. Remove from stove and add yogurt and drizzle a little coconut oil.


Sambar- Spicy South Indian Lentils



I make sambar at least once a week. It is a spicy, tangy lentil dish packed with protein and flavor. Usually an accompaniment with plain rice, idli, dosai or  vada. A true south Indian meal is rarely complete without it. It always tastes better the next day. I cook the dhal in my rice cooker– it has a soup setting so no fuss. But you can cook the dhal on the stove. This is a recipe for a weekday sambar, nothing fancy, easy to prepare.


Serves 6-8


1 cup Toor dhal, rinsed

1 tsp turmeric

3-4  cups water

2 cups mixed chopped vegetables- Zucchini, carrots, potatoes, eggplant, beans, , etc (can also use froz vegetables)

1 cup frozen okra

1 cup chopped sliced cherry or grape tomatoes

2-3  tbs sambar masala (found at any Indian grocery store, I like Periyar or Eastern brand, you may add more or less according to how spicy you want it)

1-2  tbsp tamarind paste dissolved in a 1/4 cup water and strained

1 tsp asafetida (Hing or chayyam)

Salt to taste

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Seasoning: 1 tsp oil, 1/4 tsp mustard seeds, 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (uluva), 2-3 red chilies, 1 small onion-sliced,


Wash the toor dhal well and place in a rice cooker with 3 cups water and 1 tsp turmeric and cook on medium heat until well cooked and dhal is falling apart. You can also use a pressure cooker as well for 3 whistles or use a pot on the stove. Mash up the cooked dhal– I usually use my immersion mixer and give it a few twirls to make it more smooth but some prefer to keep it a little chunky.

Place all the vegetables, except the okra and the tomatoes– in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp salt and a pinch of turmeric. Microwave for 5-7 mts or until cooked. With a slotted spoon transfer the vegetables to the cooked dhal. (Reserve the water to use for thinning out the sambar if too thick.)

Add sambar powder and let boil for a few minutes. Turn down heat, add the asafetida and the tamarind paste water. Do not let boil after adding tamarind or it will become frothy.

If the sambar is too thick, add some of reserved water. Add salt to taste. It will thicken some as it cools. Add frozen okra, cover and remove from stove. The frozen okra will cook quickly and won’t get slimy this way.. If using fresh okra, add and let the sambar simmer for a few minutes before turning it off.

Season Heat oil in a small frying pan, add mustard seeds, allow to splutter. Add fenugreek seeds, red chilies and sliced onion and a pinch of salt. Allow to brown. Add the tomatoes and sauté for a few minutes. Add this seasoning to the sambar and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves

Sweet Coconut and Cranberry Boondi


This sweet is one of my favorites. It is made with a batter of Besan or chick pea flour that is fried then soaked in a sugar syrup. The basic part is the boondi (fried round balls of the besan batter) which you can turn into another sweet, the ladoo. Plain boondi can also be added to yogurt as a Raita.


Sweet Coconut and Cranberry Boondi

Serves 6-8


1 cup besan flour

1/2 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

saffron strands or few drops orange food color

1 tsp cardamom powder

1/2 cup sweet coconut flakes

2 tbs raw pistachio nuts, crushed finely

1/2 cup dried cranberries or Craisins

Ghee for frying

1 large slotted spoon or Boondi spoon


Sift the besan and add the water. Whisk well so there is no lumps. Make sure it is a easily pourable thin batter.

In a separate sauce pan add the sugar and 1/2 cup water and allow to boil. Turn off the heat when it reaches one string consistency. (See pic) Add a few drops of orange color or crush a few strands of saffron into syrup. Set aside.

Add ghee in a frying pan and put on medium heat. Hold the slotted spoon over the ghee and pour a ladle of the batter into the slotted spoon and allow it to flow through. Move spoon around gently. Do not move spoon around too fast or else we get long threads instead of round balls. This will take some practice. Allow to fry to a light yellow and with another slotted spoon scoop out boondi and drop into warm sugar syrup. Continue with rest of batter.

Mix the boondi in the syrup. It should absorb most of the syrup. Add cardamom powder.( At this stage if you pack them into tight golf ball sized balls it becomes ladoo.) Add the dried cranberry, pistachios and coconut. It’s done. As it stills it will become more dry and soak up all the syrup. Serve slightly warm.

Other variations- Instead of coconut and cranberries you can add raisins, chopped dates, almonds, cashews etc.




Chicken Kathi Rolls



It is always hard for me to figure out a weekend lunch. Eating out has become a drag, really nothing very appetizing around town. One of the questions that I hear often, that makes me go crazy sometimes is ….What’s for lunch? What’s for dinner? Sometimes I wish I could just do the asking and the other person would do the hard part and come up with something.

Well here is one I came up with to the age old question of What’s for lunch. These Kathi rolls ( also called Kati or Katti rolls) are usually made by street vendors in India and is filling and tasty. Some add an omelet in these rolls filled with the meats. You can make the vegetarian version with panner, tofu, veggie burgers, grilled veggies, etc. At Taco Bell in Bangalore, India they serve a version called Kathitto and in NY and London there is the famous Kati Roll Company http://www.thekatirollcompany.com/index.html.

I made abut 50 of these for our recent Indian community picnic and it went like hotcakes. One dear aunty grabbed an extra one and hid it under her arm to give it to her son-in-law who was showing up later. She finally relinquished it to a friend who lamented that he didn’t get one. We kidded aunty saying before she leaves we will need to frisk and shake her to see if any kathi rolls will fall out :-))

Here is a video from Nizam’s in Calcutta where these rolls are to said to have been created

Chicken Kathi Rolls


6-8 Uncooked Indian paratas (found at any Indian store or can make your own or use tortillas)

6 Chicken thighs, each cut into about 3-4 strips


handful of cilantro leaves

1 tsp Turmeric

1 tbs Cumin powder

1 tbs Coriander powder

1 tsp Chili powder (or to taste)

2 tsp Garam Masala (or meat masala of choice)

2 tsp salt

1 tbs olive oil

lemon juice from 1/2 lemon


Romaine lettuce leaves

3-4 green onions, julienned

handful of cilantro leaves

3 Roma tomatoes, sliced

1/2 large Red onion, sliced


3 tbs Tamarind Chutney (can find Maggi brand in Indian store)

1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt


Step 1:

Take all marinade ingredients and puree together in a blender. Add little water to help blend. Add this to washed and sliced chicken thighs. Mix well and refrigerate a minimum of 1 hour. Can leave overnight. Take chicken out of marinade and grill until cooked. (Can do this in a frying pan as well adding little oil.)Set aside

Step 2:

Prep all accompaniments to get ready for assembly of rolls. Mix sauce ingredients together


Step 3:

Prepare Paratas on a skillet until cooked and light brown. Place in aluminum foil to keep warm

Step 4: Assembly

Place parata on a plate. Starting at one end, add 1 large piece of romaine lettuce then 2 pieces of grilled chicken, add a few sprigs of cilantro, 2-3 slices of tomato, few slivers of green onion, few slices of red onion, and then top with sauce. Roll up tight into a roll and wrap in foil. These can be warmed up as is in the oven if planning to serve this for any get together.

They are ready to eat! Can have some extra sauce on the side or serve with mint/cilantro chutney, tomato sauce or chili sauce.

Chicken Kathi Rolls

Chicken Kathi Rolls

* A Sweet Treat * Beet Root Halwa


This is a recipe for my sister who liked it when she came over one day. It is quick and easy dessert. Halva or halwa is Arabic for sweet and served for special occasions. There are different types of halwa made from flour, dhals, some vegetables like carrot and bottle gourd. Some cities that specialize in a specific type of Halwa lend their names such as  Bombay Halwa, Kozhikode halwa etc.  Gajjar halwa or carrot halwa is fairly common and you can find this on most Indian restaurant buffets. The key for success in making these sweets are constant stirring to aid in evaporation of as much liquid as possible and lots of ghee. The sugar combined with the ghee produces a glistening texture to the sweet. Halwas are super sweet so a little goes a long way.

Beet Root Halwa has a rich color like no other and can be made with fresh beets. The drawbacks to using fresh beets are that they can taste muddy if not fresh, they are harder to grate and takes longer to cook. The canned beets work perfectly every time and are so easy to grate. This sweet tastes especially good when topped on plain vanilla ice cream when still a little warm. An impressive dessert for any guest!


Beet Root Halwa

Serves 6-8 if serving by itself, serves 8-12 if topping ice cream


A must—Plastic gloves

3 cans of Small Whole Beets ( 15 oz ea)

1 to 1 3/4 cup sugar (according to taste)

1/4 cup Ghee (clarified butter)

3/4 cup milk

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 cup dedicated coconut flakes (can use sweetened coconut but then reduce the amount of added sugar)

1-2 tablespoons cashews or slivered almonds


Drain the canned beets. Put on rubber gloves and grate medium fine. The gloves are a must as it will stain. Squeeze out any excess water. In a large frying pan add a tsp of ghee and toast the nuts until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

To the same pan add few tablespoons of ghee and add sauté the beets for a few minutes. Keep stirring until most all the water is absorbed. Then add the milk . Cook for a few minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Add sugar, and continue stirring. The liquid may increase so keep stirring until most has evaporated. Drizzle a little more ghee and add the coconut and cardamom powder. The coconut will absorb the rest of the liquid. The mixture should be somewhat dry and glistening. And the toasted nuts and remove from stove. Serve hot or cold, can also serve with ice cream.

Summer Spring Rolls


My daughter has gone back to college (boo hoo! ) my son is with his friends at their lake houses ( wish I had more friends like that!) and my husband is away for a week at a conference.These rolls are a perfect meal for one that entails minimal cooking dish. These Vietnamese spring rolls are a family favorite and a make a nice party appetizer, especially in the summer. It is low fat but very filling. You can find the Vietnamese Spring Roll wrappers at any Asian grocery store. They are wafer thin, stiff round sheets that can be stored in your pantry for years. The wafers are softened by dipping them for a few seconds in hot water.


Summer Spring Rolls

6 Spring Roll wrappers

1 large handful of rice noodles

1 cup steamed shrimp, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 cup grated carrots

1/2 large seedless cucumber, julienned

4 green onions, julienned

a bunch of cilantro leaves, left whole

Sauce- 2–3 tablespoon peanut butter, 2 tsp Soy Sauce, chili paste to taste- microwave together for a minute or so


In a bowl, place noodles and cover with hot water. Cover and let it sit for 10 mts. It should be soft by then. Drain off water.

Set out all ingredients to start assembly of wraps.

In a flat plate add few tablespoons of hot water. Dip the wrappers in the plate and flip over until moist ( only a few seconds) and transfer to a flat surface. It will continue to soften as it sits.

Starting at one end of the wrapper, smear some of the sauce and then arrange 3-4 shrimp. Top with the approx. 1 tbs cooked rice noodles, then the grated carrot, cucumber and a piece or 2 of green onion and a few sprigs of cilantro. Before wrapping add a little more sauce on to one side of the wrapper and roll, tucking in the edges into a roll. It will stick to itself and stay sealed. Slice on the bias and serve with more sauce for dipping.

NOTE: You can make this vegetarian by adding any veggies that you like. For non veg- can add any meat you like.


Rice papers to make spring rolls
Rice papers to make spring rolls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aloo Parata and Chicken Tikka Masala


This past week was my daughters 21st birthday (Where did the time go!:(….,) so this post is one of her favorites—Aloo Parata and Chicken Tikka Masala ( also can be called Butter Chicken/Chicken Makhani)

Aloo Parata


2 cups chapathi flour or Atta ( can use whole wheat flour as a substitute)

1 tbs oil

1 tsp salt

Water to make a dough

1 large Potato, boiled and mashed

2 green chilies, minced

1 tsp grated ginger

1/4 tsp cumin pdr

2 tsp chopped cilantro

Salt to taste


Combine flour, salt water and oil and knead well. Coat dough with a little oil and cover with a wet paper towel. Keep aside for 20-30 mts. Into mashed potato add green chili, grated ginger, cumin pdr cilantro leaves and salt.

Take dough and knead again. Make golf ball size balls. Roll out into a 2 inch disc, add a spoon of potato filling and pinch ends together to encase filling. Apply little oil to rolling surface and roll out gently into a flat round disc. Heat a skillet and grease lightly with oil or vegetable spray. Cook parata on both sides until slightly brown. Press with spatula to make it puff up slightly.Top with a little butter and serve with any curry.


 Chicken Tikka Masala


4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into small pieces

2 tbsp.  tandoori masala ( usually can find in the international section of grocery store)

1 cup plain yogurt

2 tomatoes

2 tsp ginger-garlic paste

2-3 green chilies

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp Hing or asafetida (may omit if can’t find it)

2  tbs butter + 2 tbs oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 tsp chili powder (or to taste)

2 tsp Paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp garam masala powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

Whole garam masala-5-6 cloves, 2-3 cardamom, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 bay leaf

salt to taste

2 tbs Methi leaves (can substitute with cilantro leaves)

pint of whipping cream or half and half


Into chicken add tandoori masala and yogurt and set aside for 15 mts. The place on a flat baking sheet and bake  at 35o for about 15 mts. The switch to broil and let chicken brown a bit.

Puree tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, green chilies, sugar and hing. In a sauce pan add butter and oil then add the whole garam masala spices. Then add chopped onions. Sauté for a few minutes and add tomato puree mixture. Allow to cook well. May take 10 minutes. Should see the oil rising to the surface a bit. Add spice powders, salt and methi leaves. Fry for a minute and add chicken. Cover and cook until done. Add half and half/cream at the end and heat. Remove from stove. May sprinkle a little garam masala at the end and chopped cilantro leaves. Serve with Parata or Rice

Shrimp Kabobs with Masala Corn and Peas Orzo


Since summer is here now and the temps are in the 80’s here is a perfect menu for the grill.



Shrimp Kabobs
2 lbs shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 large red Onion
2 zucchini or squash
Cherry tomatoes, if you like them
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp chili pdr
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbs lemon juice
Salt to taste
Mix all marinade ingredients and add to shrimp. Cut veggies into large chunks and add to shrimp. Refrigerate for a minimum of 15 mts.
Soak wooden skewers in water for 15 mts. Skewer shrimp and veggies.
Place on hot grill for 15 mts and turn until cooked.

Grilled Masala Sweet Corn
Husked corn- marinate with olive oil, salt, chili pdr,
Grill for 10 mts, turning frequently

Peas Orzo
2 cups dry orzo pasta
4 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 cup frozen peas
Salt to taste
Boil 8 cups water in large pot. Add some salt and add Orzo. Cook for 5-8 mts and drain when cooked.
Set aside.
Heat oil and butter in a sauce pan. Add garlic, red chili flakes, peas and salt. Add cooked orzo and toss.

Serve kabobs on a bed of orzo.

Cuisine of Spain and Portugal


I have not posted anything in awhile because I was away on vacation. We spent 10 days in Spain and Portugal. In Spain we visited Madrid, Granada, Seville and Salamanca. In Portugal we visited the southern Algarve region which included Vilamoura, Almancil, then a visit to Fatima, Avila ending in Lisbon. The cobbled pathways of Algarve region, beautiful blue and white tiles adorning every house, the red tiled roofs and the beautiful monuments, palaces, churches and Plaza Mayors of these cities were breathtaking.
I was amazed at the miles and miles of olive farms and orange orchards. Oranges are used like lemons here in the US…in sweet and savory dishes.
We went to a family run olive oil farm and saw how they processed olive oil.Also visited a Salt flat and saw the processing of Flor de Sal ( the highest grade of table salt). We drank Bica (shot size cup of pure coffee) café con leche and the famous Portuguese egg tarts (I will try to recreate this later and share the interesting history behind them in another post)
Here are some dishes we had. Paella, grilled fish, tapas, lots of Spanish Sangria and wines.




Zeppole Di San Guiseppe- For Father’s Day



Don’t get scared reading the title of today’s post. Zeppole is an Italian pastry and this specific zeppole is made on the Feast of St Joseph on March 19 which is also Father’s Day in Italy. So it being Father’s Day here in the US and Feast Day for my husband’s family namesake I am making Zeppole Di San Guiseppe.

I am partial to Italian pastries, especially growing up on the east coast. In the town where I grew up there is an excellent Italian bakery—Di Mare’s Pastry Shop. (www.dimarepastry.com) Any birthday without a Di Mare cake would not be a birthday. It has been there since we moved to Old Greenwich, CT in the 70’s. This bakery is still going strong and always a destination when we visit home. Sometimes my kids and niece and nephew would visit there everyday during our stay for some of their specialties- Tiramisu cake, strawberry shortcake, Italian butter cookies, sfogliatelle, napoleons, pastries, etc. We would even try to bring back a box of their delicacies.

These Zeppole pastries are really a fritter of Pate a choux dough (used to make cream puffs) topped with a vanilla bean and lemony custard. There is nothing like a custard made with real vanilla beans. Splurge and get some, they will keep in your pantry for a long time. Many of you may not attempt this recipe but save the recipe for the custard—it is great! This basic custard can be used for other purposes like fruit salad, as a cake filling etc. or just by itself.

Zeppole di San Guiseppe


For the Dough:

4 tbs unsalted butter

3 tbs sugar

Pinch of salt

250 ml water

1 1/4 cup flour

6 eggs

Maraschino cherry- garnish

For the Lemon Vanilla Custard:

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

1 vanilla bean

Zest from one lemon

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour


Make Custard:

In a sauce pan combine milk, cream, split vanilla bean an lemon zest. Bring to a boil. Remove the vanilla beans and scrape all the seeds into the milk and discard the pod. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl until light and yellow. Add the flour and combine well. Take a cup of the hot milk mixture and whisk into egg mixture ( called tempering) then add all the egg mixture into the sauce pan with the milk. Return to stove and while continuously whisking, heat gently until thick. About 3-4 mts. Remove from heat and cover surface with plastic wrap so a skin doesn’t form and refrigerate.


Now make the Dough:

Combine the Water, butter, sugar, salt in a sauce pan and allow to boil. Sprinkle in the flour and get ready to mix well until it forms a smooth ball and comes away from the pan.Remove from stove and with a hand or stand mixer, add one egg at a time incorporating into flour dough. Will be a thickish mixture. Ensure to beat out any lumps. Put into a piping bag and let sit for 15-2o mts.

Cut pieces of foil and grease lightly with oil. Using a star tip, pipe out circular mounds approximately 3-4 inches. Heat oil in a frying pan and when hot add the piped dough with the aluminum foil. Gently pull out the foil as it fries. Fry until golden and drain on a paper towel. Take this fritter and top with the cooled custard and garnish with a maraschino cherry.


They look perfect!


Unni Appam, A Tea Time Snack



This snack is one of my daughters favorites. Unni appam ( means little appam) is a very traditional Keralean tea time snack. It is also made for special Hindu festivals.It requires a special pan with multiple round wells. I had one from India but the batter kept getting stuck to the bottom so found a non stick Ebleskiver pan. (Ebelskiver is a Danish round pancake.) It works perfectly.

Though traditionally made with rice soaked for a few hours and then ground, this entailed an extra step and more time than I had so used plain rice flour. It came out well.

Unni Appam
2.5 cups rice flour
1.5 cups powdery jaggery (type of brown sugar)
1/4 cup water
2 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp Sliced coconut, diced ( or toasted coconut flakes)
2 tsp ghee
1 banana, mashed
Pinch of salt
Sugar as needed if you like it sweeter
1 tsp baking powder dissolved in little water

Oil as needed


Step 1:
In a small frying pan, add ghee and add sliced coconut. Brown well. Alternatively could substitute with toasted coconut flakes
Set aside.

Step 2:

Heat water and add jaggery to make a syrup. Allow to boil. Set aside to cool.

Step 3:
Combine rice flour, salt, cardamom pdr, cooled sugar syrup and toasted coconut. Add mashed banana and whisk thoroughly. Add little water to make a thick batter. Cover and set aside to ferment for 2-3 hrs.

Step 4:
Dissolve baking pdr in water and add to thick batter. Mix well. Heat ebelskiver pan and add oil half way up the wells. Heat at medium heat. Drop spoonfuls of batter into wells. Use a skewer or spoon to turn over the appams when they start turning brown. Drain on paper towel and serve with tea while warm. Store in a closed container.




~Instead of rice flour you can soak rice in water  for a few hours and then grind into a batter.
~When mixing batter, whisk well until somewhat light and frothy.
~Keep heat on medium or else the appams will brown too quickly and not cook in the center
~You can add black sesame seeds to batter as well.

Green Tomato Pachadi


Pachadi is a yogurt accompaniment found with any Kerala meal. It can be made with different vegetables or even fruits. It is very similar to raita that is made in north India. The yogurt is seasoned with curry leaves and mustard seeds and gently heated. Yogurt is a critical component of any Indian meal—it soothes the GI tract after a spicy meal and acts as a digestant. No meal is complete without that last bit of rice and yogurt.

Green tomatoes are firm and have almost an apple like consistency with very little water content.

green cherry tomatoes Houston, Tx

green cherry tomatoes Houston, Tx (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can make a pachadi out of most any vegetable– spinach, okra, tomato, pineapple, beetroot, mango, cucumber, eggplant, and list goes on. They all will follow the same method in the following recipe.

Green Tomato Pachadi


1 large green tomato- sliced

3-4 diced green chilies

1/2 a diced onion

2-3 diced garlic

few sprigs of curry leaves

1 tbs oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

2 cups plain yogurt



In a sauce pan heat up oil. Then add mustard seeds. After they have spluttered, add onions, green chilies, curry leaves and garlic. Add salt to taste. When onions have softened, add green tomatoes. Sauté until tomato is cooked. Remove from stove and add yogurt stirring well. Return to stove and heat on a low flam until yogurt is warm. (It will curdle if placed on a high flame. Keep stirring)

Serve with any Indian meal. Serves 6


Guest Post–Want Some More S’more Bars?


Today is a guest post from none other than my daughter who is home for the summer from college. Enjoy!


Hi everyone! For the past four months I haven’t been able to re-create any of my mom’s freshly baked desserts, due to the lack of kitchen appliances in my dorm. Upon arriving home, I was craving something sweet so I decided to make a  S’more bar complete with a graham cracker crust, warm melted chocolate and toasted fluffy marshmallows…YUM. S’mores are something that automatically takes me back to childhood summers so I couldn’t think of a better dessert to eat my first day of summer vacation.  I found a recipe online which seemed easy enough to try for my mid-afternoon dessert craving, however, I added chopped walnuts for a little added texture  and white chocolate chips in addition to the milk chocolate.  Enjoy!


1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup butter or margarine, melted

2 cups milk chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 bag of big marshmallows

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix and crumbs. Stir in melted butter until soft dough forms. Press into ungreased 13×9-inch pan.

2. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until set. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes or until chocolate begins to melt. Spread chocolate evenly over crust.

3. Set oven control to broil. Sprinkle marshmallows over melted chocolate. Broil with top 4 to 5 inches from heat 20 to 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted. (Watch closely; marshmallows will brown quickly.) Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm. Store any remaining bars tightly covered.


These bars were super easy, and equally sweet. The graham cracker crust was chewy, and contrasted well with the smooth chocolate and warm marshmallows. Perfect for a quick midafternoon pick-me-up 🙂

Tip Tuesday- Cleaning Fish


pictograms used by the United States National ...

Tip Tuesday Cleaning fish

In my home state of Kerala, fish in an integral part of our diets. We are blessed with a long sea coast and many backwaters giving us a variety of freshwater and saltwater fish. We malayalees eat fish daily so we know how to clean fish.
Some people don’t eat fish because they think it smells. A lot of people’s perception of fish is that it smells like canned tuna fish. Fresh fish, cleaned properly should not smell.
Ask your fish monger when fresh fish usually comes in. When buying ask if it was previously frozen. If buying whole fish look for bright eyes and red gills. Have them show you before buying it. If buying fillets, make sure it is firm and vibrant in color. Do not buy grayish and friable looking fish. If it smells bad, it is not fresh.

Immediately when bought home, remove wrapping and rinse in cool water. Remove the black lining in the cavity of the fish. Descale. Then cover with a good coating of salt and drizzle with white vinegar ( or lemon juice). Rub the surface and insides well.You will notice a grey cloudy residue washing off the fish. Rinse well. Do not let it sit in the salt vinegar wash otherwise you will end up with ceviche!

The fish should have no smell and be ready to prepare any way you please. If planning to make it in the future, you can marinate it and place them in the refrigerator for 1-2 days or in a resealable freezer bags and place in freezer. Use within 4 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator for a few hours when ready to prepare.

EAT MORE FISH, It’s good for you!

Cleaning Fish

Cleaning Fish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Restaurant Round Up-Dallas



We were in Dallas recently because my husband had a renal conference to attend. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in downtown and housed in the Reunion Tower of the hotel was Wolfgang Puck‘s restaurant, Five Sixty. It is housed in an enormous globe structure, 560 ft above ground, with rotating 360 degree views of downtown Dallas. This Asian inspired restaurant should not be missed if you are ever in the area.

English: A view of Reunion Tower and Hyatt Reg...

English: A view of Reunion Tower and Hyatt Regency Dallas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Whole Point

Here is what we had…every dish was delicious.

Assam Scallop Curry– with a mustard and yogurt gravy, served with coconut jasmine rice. My husband loved it.


Beef Short Rib Rendang Curry– a tender, slow cooked malayasian curry…I loved the added peanut crunch.


Appetizer- Lobster spring rolls with chili sauce and dessert, a very tropical Mango Coconut Tart with Pineapple sorbet. An awesome meal.


Kerala Kitchen

So after my husbands conference we thought of a late lunch and googled for some Kerala places and found Kerala Kitchen. My daughter asked why on earth would you go to a mallu place when away in Dallas, when you make Kerala food every day?? I guess, it is my husband and my favorite cuisine. Anyway this hole in the wall place showed up near DFW airport and we thought, why not. It is literally in a Texaco gas station, but don’t judge the food by its surroundings. It was a clean place with 2 booths and 2 tables. The owner was a very helpful and gracious host. We ordered the Kerala plate with fish curry and was overwhelmed by the variety and quantity of food. The owner kept bringing out refills of rice, fish curry, Mozhu curry and veggies. Safe to say it was a very filling lunch for $8! A 2 hour nap followed.

Kerala plate included Fish curry, Beef fry, Avial, Vanpayar (red bean)  thoren, Mozhu curry, Pachadi, good old Uncle Bens rice, tomato chutney, pickle and papadum and Semiya Payassum for dessert. These are all items you will find at the dinner table every day in any malayalees home—no nonsense, nothing fancy, home cooked food. Was great!


The Ranch at Las Colinas:

When our evening plans changed we googled some nearby steak places and this place came up with good reviews on Yelp. How can you leave Texas without eating steak? It was a good choice.


So what did we order? Elk Tacos- was spicy and flavorful topped with a  mango salsa. And the steak—-The best and most expensive steak they had on the menu- 33 oz Wagyu Tomahawk Ribeye for two with mashed potatoes and broccolini. It was the best steak we had ever tasted. We had it medium well and it was melt in your mouth tender. Wagyu is a type of beef raised anywhere outside of Kobe, Japan,  raised in very specific conditions to enhance the marbling of the meat. It is one of the most premium types of beef you can buy because of the care that goes into caring for these animals. I think this came from Colorado and not Japan.



All in all a relaxing few days in Dallas and some great meals.

Related articles

Mango Curry- Sweet and Spicy


Mango and its longitudinal section

Mango and its longitudinal section (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption]

This is one of my favorite warm weather recipes. When we here in the US  finally start getting mangoes in the Spring, they are usually a little on the tart side. These mangoes are perfect for this curry. The best accompaniment is just plain white rice.

Mango Curry


2 firm mangoes, peeled and diced into chunks

3 split green chillies

Curry leaves

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. plain yogurt

To grind:

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 green chillies,

2 cloves garlic

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp red chili pdr

1/2 cup water

Final Seasoning: 1 tsp coconut oil, , 1/4 cup sliced onions, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds,, 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds, 2 dry red chilies, few curry leaves


Step 1

In a sauce pan combine mangoes, salt, green chilies and few curry leaves. Add a little water and allow to cook for about 10 minutes until mango is somewhat translucent and mushy.

Step 2

In the meantime grind the items in the “To grind” list–should be somewhat coarsely ground ( not to a fine paste)

Step 3

When the mangos are cooked add the ground coconut mixture and reduce flame. Stir together and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from stove and stir in plain yogurt until combined.

Step 4

In a small frying pan for the final seasoning- add oil, then add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. After they have spluttered add the onions and fry until almost golden. Add curry leaves and red chilies and add to curry.

Serve with white rice. Serves 6.


Dinner tonight—Brown Basmati rice, Mango Curry, Asparagus Thoren ( stir fry),  Kerala Fish curry

Nargisi Koftas–Indian Style Scotch Eggs



I just love the name of these koftas—Nargisi Kofta. Reminds me of one of my favorite Bollywood actresses of yesteryear- Nargis. She and Raj Kapoor were the most perfect couple in the romantic comedies of Awara, Shree 420 etc…My dad was a great lover of Raj Kapoor films and my sister and I saw these films over and over again. Those were the days….and really was probably the Golden Age of Bollywood cinema.

Remembering Raj Kapoor

Remembering Raj Kapoor (Photo credit: ramesh_lalwani)

Shree 420

A beautiful song from Shree 420

Anyway I digress….back to the koftas. After I had made the Keema Stuffed Tilapia, I had some leftover meat filling so decided to try this recipe. I think Scotch eggs are the British original version ( made with sausage) and Nargisi kofta came later or more than likely it was really the other way around. I guess like the age old question, which came first?- The chicken or the egg….

Narcissus up close

Narcissus up close (Photo credit: Bart Hanlon)

These Koftas get their name from the white flower with yellow center, the Narcissus (Nargisi in Hindi) and you can see why.

This recipe requires making the keema filling —see my previous post on how to make the filling here-


Nargisi Koftas


2- 3 cups Keema filling

2 slices bread

5 Hard boiled eggs

1 tbsp All purpose flour (maida)

1 beaten egg

1 cup Bread crumbs

Oil for frying


Soak the bread (crust and all) for a few seconds in water and mash into the keema filling—this will help bind the meat together and easier to coat the egg. Take the hard boiled egg and roll in a little all purpose flour ( better if the egg is still a little moist) then coat the outside with the keema filling making it as smooth as possible. You can make the outer layer as thin or thick as you want but it needs to be smooth or else after breading, it will fall apart in the oil.

Dip into beaten egg and then roll in bread crumbs. Coat well. Set aside and repeat for remaining eggs. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry until golden brown. Drain onto paper towel. Serve with ketchup, chili sauce, mint or cilantro chutney. I made a tomato gravy and placed the koftas into it as a main dish.


  • If you are making a large quantity, then use egg whites instead of the whole egg for the breading process….the yolk will make the oil foam a bit and burn after a while. Or else you will have to change out the oil more frequently. Using just the egg white will prevent this from happening.
  • Instead of adding soaked bread to mix with keema, you can used a bit of mashed potato or bread crumbs to help as a binder.
  • I don’t see anyone eating more than one piece as it does turn out to become the size of a baseball.
  • The next day mu husband had the koftas on a toasted English muffin for breakfast

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Here is my husbands breakfast


Related articles

Keema Stuffed Tilapia


Note: I had started this post last week but do to unforeseeable circumstances ( which I may share later) wasn’t able to post it. The only issue is I didn’t get too take was the final picture.

This is an original recipe of mine. I have not seen or tasted this before but there maybe something like this out there. This recipe is not something you will make everyday but it is worth the effort if you have the time and you like whole fish. Good to make on the weekends.

Keema is any type of ground minced meat. I had cooked some beef to make cutlets and had no energy to finish making it so decided to stuff a marinated whole tilapia instead. This was then pan fried. You can bake or broil this too. Using a little of coconut oil adds lots of flavor. If you do not eat beef, you can substitute with ground lamb, chicken or turkey. It turned out great. My husband loved it with rice and salas ( raw onions, green chilies and tomatoes with salt and vinegar) after a long plane ride back home from India. I think next time I am going to make it with a seafood stuffing like mini shrimp.

There are 3 phases- Marinating the fish, Making the filling an then bringing them both together. Hope you like it!

Keema Stuffed Tilapia
3 whole medium sized fish, cleaned and scaled (Tilapia, Red Snapper, Porgie will work well)
Juice of half a lemon ( or white vinegar)
1 tsp turmeric
3 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
3 tsp salt

Make 3-4 vertical slits along the length of the fish and apply marinade all over ( in cavity and slits). Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Keema Stuffing

2 lb of beef chuck roast (may substitute with ground beef, chicken, turkey, lamb etc), boiled until cooked
1 tbsp Coconut or any other oil
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion, diced
3-4 green chillies, chopped finely
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp each cumin and coriander pdr
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili pdr
Few curry leaves and cilantro leaves

1 beaten egg


Take cooked beef and mince in a food processor. In a medium frying pan, heat up oil, add cumin seeds and let splutter, add diced onions, green chilies, ginger and garlic. Saute for few minutes then add chili pdr, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala and curry and cilantro leaves. Now add meat and combine.If you are using ground meat then just add the raw meat here and sauté until cooked. When it cools down a little add the beaten egg. This will help bind everything together when cooking.

Remove fish from fridge and stuff cavity with the meat and egg mixture. Pack tightly and bring edges of fish together as much as possible.

Pan fry Method: Heat up 4 tbs coconut oil in a non stick frying pan. Add the fish (do not crowd the pan) Resist the urge to flip it before it is crispy and brown or else pieces will get stuck on the pan. Intermittently baste the top of the fish with the oil that is in the pan. Flip and let other side get brown and crispy.

Bake or Broil Method: Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Place fish in pan and drizzle a little of coconut or olive oil over the top. Broil for at least 20 mts until cooked. Or bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 mts until cooked.

Serve with rice and salas.


Chicken Kabobs , Tzatziki and Cilantro Tabbouleh


Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food are always on the list for the most healthy of diets. The addition of olive oil and garlic, lemon juice are some key components. Tabbouleh is a light lemony side salad dish made with cracked wheat (bulghur) and lots of parsley. I don’t like parsley much so added more cilantro instead. Even though it is at freezing here today, this light, refreshing meal will remind me of summer. Enjoy!


Cilantro Tabbouleh


2 cups Cilantro, chopped finely

1 cup Parsley, chopped finely

1 cup each of chopped tomatoes and cucumber

2-3 cloves garlic minced

3 green onions, chopped finely

1/2 cup Cracked wheat or Bulghur wheat

1 cup hot water


Juice of half a lemon

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste.


Boil the water and pour over the cracked wheat and let stand, covered for 30 mts. Now prepare all the ingredients for the salad and toss together. Check the cracked wheat. The water should have absorbed, but if there is any remaining, just drain. Add to salad. Mix dressing ingredients and toss together. Serve chilled as an accompaniment.

Chicken Kabobs


6 chicken thighs, skinned and cubed into boneless kabob pieces


1 cup chopped cilantro

1 cup chopped mint

2 stalks green onion

6-7 cloves garlic

4 green chilies

1 tbsp. yogurt

Juice of half a lemon,

1 tsp Lemon zest

1/2 a tomato

2 tsp Cumin pdr

1 tsp coriander pdr

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp red chili flakes

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
Wood or metal skewers


Clean and prep chicken thigh meat. Set aside. Puree all the ingredients of the marinade in a blender. Should still be able to see specks of the cilantro and mint leaves. Pour over chicken. Let marinate covered in fridge for minimum 1 hour. (Overnight is even better)

Soak wooden skewers in water for 15 mts. Discard leftover marinade. Skewer meat onto them and broil or grill for 25-30 mts until cooked. Should have some brown spots on the meat. Serve immediately.

1 cup yogurt
5 cloves garlic
1/2c chopped cilantro
1 cup diced cucumber
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and purée for a few seconds. Chill.

Top a Pita bread with chicken kabobs and Tzatziki sauce, accompany with Tabbouleh salad.



No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies



Sometimes you feel like having a cookie and if your oven is not working then this cookie is for you. This is not my original recipe, just one I like to use. It is a one pot cookie. The key in this recipe is to make sure the mixture is kept at a rolling boil for at least one minute.

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chunky or smooth peanut butter
Pinch of salt
3 1/2 cups quick cooking or old fashioned Oatmeal ( not instant)

Combine all the ingredients except the oatmeal and peanut butter into a saucepan.Allow to melt and bring to a rolling boil. Let it boil for at least one minute. Then add peanut butter and mix until melted and combined. Remove from stove and add the oatmeal and mix together.
Take a piece of parchment paper and drop spoonfuls of the batter and spread to desired size cookies. Allow to cool until set. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 18-20 cookies.

Bollywood in the Ballroom


This year I am on the local Indian Association board. We plan about 3-4 events per year and the first one was a potluck dinner with a Bollywood theme—Bollywood in the Ballroom. We had about 125 people come and enjoy, dinner, Bollywood charades and dancing. There was a lot of organizational teamwork involved but our Board had a blast doing it. We served things like Foot Path Falafel, Delhi Belly Chicken Curry, Veer-Zaara Veg curry, Kohinoor Pulao and Dhobhi Ghat Aloo Gobhi.

  • Here are the centerpieces we came up with that can be used for any party. I printed Bollywood movie posters onto Vellum paper ( a transparent acetate like paper that can be found at any crafts store-JoAnns, Michaels etc) I cut them out taped them into a cylinder and put a led light in the center. We chose multicolor table cloths and for the center got black poster board and trimmed the edges with plastic film reel strip. We added old DVDs and some plastic Mardi gras beads ( worked as favors too).Turned out very nicely and not costly at all.

You can use this same technique for any party… For graduations/birthdays/ anniversaries—copy pictures of the graduate or special person onto a Word document and then print them out onto the vellum paper. As your are printing the image, stand by the printer and take it out immediately as the wet ink will make the paper curl, especially darker images. Don’t touch the image as it will smudge. Place on a flat surface immediately to allow ink to dry. Cut it out and just tape the edges to make a cylinder. I printed 2 images on one sheet and the 3rd by itself and cut them out….so its a 3 sided image.

These are easy, inexpensive and personalized….all things that I love.






Crunchy Murukku – A Tea Time Snack



I have always wanted to try making murukku. I am definitely not an expert at this and know there are many variations. They didn’t turn out too bad for a first time and the pics came out well.

This is a crunchy snack perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.

Crunchy Murukku

1 cup rice flour
1/4 cup urad flour
1/4 c besan flour (a.k.a-Channa dhal/Gram/garbanzo/chick pea flour)
2 tbsp softened butter ( is a must)
2 tsp red chili powder- or to taste
1/4 tsp hing or asafetida
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp white sesame seeds
Enough water to make dough

Heat up the flours individually in a dry frying pan and combine together. Do not brown, just heat up. Heat up the cumin seeds and sesame seeds the same way until fragrant. Add to the flours. Add the rest of the ingredients and add water gradually until you get a soft firm dough. Cover and set aside.
Cut squares of foil and grease.
Place dough into a murukku maker ( see pic below) with the star attachment and swirl into a 2-3 inch circle. Heat oil in a frying pan and drop into oil a few at a time. Flip over and fry until golden. Drain on a paper towel.Makes about 20-30 pieces depending on size. Store in a covered container or Ziploc bag.



Note: You probably can make this with a cookie press or a piping bag, if you can find a really small star attachment.


Heavenly Rose Phirni



I must give some credit for this recipe to Asha at http://www.selfveda.com and another friend GB. Adding fruits comes from Asha as her post shows. And adding rose syrup comes from GB. She actually served this on top of vanilla ice cream. Thanks for the inspiration! Wish my kids were here to try it:(

The coarse grinding of the rice gives this a custardy pudding like consistency.
I made this for church and think everyone enjoyed it.Someone said this was a very girly dessert! This is perfect for a party.

Rose Phirni

Serves 6-8
1  cup  Basmati rice
4 cups milk
1 c sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp cardamom pdr
1-2 tbs rose syrup
Strawberry ice cream topping or mango pulp ( can also use fresh fruits)
Sweet coconut flakes
Chopped pistachios, optional
Saffron dissolved in a tablespoon of milk

Rinse rice well and soak for 4 hrs. Grind slightly in food processor until somewhat grainy.
Boil milk in a heavy sauce pan. Add ground rice and stir continuously to avoid lumps. Cook for 10-15 mts, stirring frequently. When rice is cooked add sugar, rose syrup, and cardamom pd and saffron milk. Top with fruit topping, garnish with coconut and pistachios. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Here are some pics of how the rice should look and the Phirni made in a larger quantity. ( Also made Vellayappam for church)



For Easter- Chocolate Nests



I am posting this recipe before Easter if anyone wants to try making them before Sunday. I made these for a friend to practice it before making it. Sorry N. and N., you girls were the Guinea pigs! The both of them as well as my niece, M. will be making them for Easter and I will post their pictures when they are done.

These are soo cute as an Easter centerpiece and very easy to make. Enjoy!

Chocolate Easter Nests

2 cups Chow Mein noodles ( these crunchy noodles can be found in the Asian section of any supermarket)
1 cup milk chocolate chips ( can use white/dark chocolate)
1/2 c shredded sweetened coconut
Few drops green food color
Egg shaped M&Ms
Cupcake/muffin  tray

Mix coconut with food color until uniformly mixed. Keep aside
Melt chocolate in the microwave at 30 sec intervals mixing in between. Should be smooth and melted. Do not overheat or the chocolate will separate. (Melt chocolate in small batches if making a large quantity)
Mix the noodles in a little at a time  into the melted chocolate and coat well. You may need more or less of the noodles. Place plastic wrap onto muffin tray wells and press chocolate mixture into it. Depress the center slightly. Rim the edges with the coconut and place in refrigerator for 15-20 mts until hardened. Remove from tray and place 3 eggs in center of nest. Makes about 10-12 nests. More if you use a smaller muffin tray  and shallower depth.

Variations- You can use white chocolate  instead of milk chocolate and color the coconut pink and put mini peeps in the nest. You can also use pretzel sticks instead of the noodles. This would make a nice Easter centerpiece if displayed on a large tray with scattered peeps and eggs.

Happy Easter!!

Kerala Uppumavu



In Kerala, uppumavu, made from rava,is usually eaten with a banana. There is a balance of sweet and savory. In other parts of South India mixed veggies are added and served with chutney.

My grandmother used to serve this with Kerala beef fry or Pothe erachi fry for breakfast. (Pothe is water buffalo, a very lean meat). This is still my favorite way of eating this dish.

This is the way my mom makes it..very soft with the addition of butter. The rava is not dry or grainy.

Kerala style Uppumavu

1 cup Rava ( Cream of Wheat)
2 cups water
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 chopped onion
2 green chilies, diced
1 tsp grated ginger
1-2 tbsp cashews and raisins
Few curry leaves
1-2 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil

Heat oil in a frying pan and add mustard seeds. When done spluttering add onions, green chilies, curry leaves, grated ginger , cashews and raisins and salt. Sauté for a few minutes then add butter and water. Check salt and add if more is needed. Bring to a boil and add the rava slowly while mixing to avoid lumps. Be careful as the rava can bubble up and splutter.Cover and turn off heat. Let sit for 5-7 minutes. Serve with a banana. Usually it is mashed into the uppumavu and eaten together.

Some of my Favorite Things


I just love unique serving dishes and dinnerware. It is all about presenting your great culinary creations in a way that makes any dish all the more tastier.It also serves the purpose of making your guests feel special and feel welcome with a certain  flair inherent to your own style. That is what entertaining friends and family is all about. Here are my recent favorite things that I picked up at World Market. (www.worldmarket.com) I just love this store because of all the international things that they carry…..especially items from India. This is from their new collection–Voyage Les Indiennes

They have complete dinnerware sets but I just bought the salad plates and the matching embroidered napkins and used my white dinnerware plates.The four designs–elephant, horse, monkey and peacock are colorful, unique and stylish.Love this!

Kerala Beef Fry


This is one of my husbands favorite dishes and I make this every 2 weeks. It keeps well in  the refrigerator and only gets better. It is a typical Kerala Christian staple. My husband likes it sautéed with lots of onions, black pepper and tomatoes.


2 lbs of beef chuck roast, cut into 1 inch cubes

Coconut oil

Ginger-2 tbsp diced

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 tBsp Meat masala (Periyar, Nirapara,Grandmas brands )

1 tbsp coriander powder

1/2 tbsp cumin powder

1 tsp Garam  masala (I make my own)

2 tsp red chili powder

1/2  tsp turmeric

Sliced coconut, a handful

2 tsp black pepper

Onions-1 lg, sliced

Garlic-5 cloves smashed in mortar with pestle

Roma tomatoes-2,sliced

Handfull of curry leaves

Chopped cilantro for garnish


First chop up beef into 1 inch cubes, rinse and drain. In a wide bottom pot add 1 tablespoon coconut oil (usually I use canola or veg oil and the cocnut oil for special days) add mustard seeds and let splutter. Add ginger and 1/2 of the curry leaves, saute lighlty then add all the masala powders (meat  masala, cumin, coriander, chili powder, turmeric, garam masala) and 1 tsp black pepper (save 1 tsp for later) , saute for a few seconds then add all of the drained meat. Mix well and then add the coconut slices. Add salt to taste and a little water if looks too dry. Do not cover and let cook for at least 20-30 minutes. Stir intermittently. There should not be much gravy at the bottom as needs to be somewhat dry.Remove from heat when done.

Now take a frying pan and add the rest of the coconut oil. Once hot add the sliced onions, saute and then add the crushed garlic and let brown.

Then add the chopped tomatoes. Sautess for a few mnutes and add the cooked beef to this mixture with curry leaves. Heat should be moderately high. Add the rest of the black pepper. Let the pieces of beef get brown and mix until all pieces are uniformly brown. Remove from heat. May garnish with some chopped cilantro.

Serve with Rice and Mooru Kachiathu (spiced yogurt). I also like beef fry with Puttu or Upumavu (reminds me of my maternal grandmother who used to have Poothu erachi fry (a lean water buffalo made the same way as this dish) at breakfast time.

Merry Christmas!! 2011


Christmas time has to be the best time of year. The kids are off from school and college, the clean fresh chill in the air and snow on the ground makes the season perfect. Decorating the house is a must. Went with a peacock theme for the family room and red and gold for the living room. Here are some pictures.

I try to do some sort of Christmas party for my friends- whether it be a lunch time open house or a dinner party. This year decided to do it an a banquet facility because my husband wanted to call some of his staff and the thinking was that it would just be easier if it wasn’t at home. Well that was far from the truth..considering transporting decorations and food from home to the hall but for the most part there was plenty of space for the guests to move around, had  good audio-visual equipment and had plenty of seating. There always things I learn from each party as to how to improve things (next time will have 2 buffet lines!) but all in all it was fun from the planning to exection. Here are some centerpieces I made for the 15 tables. All from items I got from a craft/hobby store. Just used wrapping paper and ribbons for the center place mats, plain cardboard boxes covered with paper and ribbon and christmas tree decorations. The reindeer were on sale and the trees were made from vase filler that was already in the color of our theme—Aqua and Red and Silver  (my daughters choice…I questioned it initially but really made a difference and does go together…..not the typical green and red christmas colors) . The only bad thing was glitter got all over my kitchen and car…..I will be cleaning this up for awhile!! Party favors were a box of christmas cookies and a silver bird ornament.

Cake Therapy


A friend of mine wanted some cakes that had a british theme for a party held on the day of the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Here is what I made her.

Sticky Toffee pudding cupcakes

Prince William’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake ( was actually sed for his Groom’s cake)

Persian Love Cake- a cardamom chiffon cake with a saffron and rosewater whipped cream frosing decorated with candied rose petals.

Also made a birthday cake for her son who is a Lego fan….loved how the lego man and bricks came out..all from rice Krsipie treats. Was painstaking work. Made all the marshmallow fondant myself. Love the side tiles. Loved Adam’s expression of awe when he first got to see it. That made it worth it! Told mom that this is my form of therapy and its true.

Gulab Jamun….a rose could only be as sweet


Here is a recipe from my good friend Indira. She does desserts so well that everyone asks her to make them for their potluck parties . Her easy Tiramisu is to die for but her gulab jamuns are awesome.

Gulab jamun is a popular dessert in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh and actually from the Arab desert nations. It was brought to Indian during the Mughal period. It is made of a fritter dough of sorts consisting mainly of milk solids, traditionally, khoya, an Indian milk product, and is rolled into a ball together with some flour and then deep fried. It is then put into in a sugar syrup flavored with cardamom seeds and rosewater or saffron. These days, Gulab Jamun powder is also commercially available, so the dessert can be prepared easily but at times these pre made powders may be alittle stale and loses some of it’s leavening abilities, leaving you with golf ball hard fritters.

The term gulab jamun comes from Persian, gulab, “rosewater” referring to the rosewater-scented syrup, and Hindustani word jamun from “Syzygium jambolanum”, a South Asian fruit with a similar size and shape.



3 cups Non Fat Milk Powder

1 cup Bisquick Baking Mix

1 cup Whipping cream

4 cups sugar

1 cup water

1 tsp Rose Water

3-4 Cardamom pods

Oil for frying


Mix together milk powder and bisquick. Mash up any big lumps. Take whipping cream and whip slighlty until a little frothy and light. Add to flour and milk powder mix and combine into a dough. Should come together in hand when sqeezed. Make sure it isn’t too wet.

On medium heat combine water, sugar, cardamom pods and rose water and heat until reaches a syrupy consistency. Set aside.

Now roll the dough into smooth balls or log shapes avoiding any cracks. You can put a little water on your palms when rolling to ensure a smooth surface. Make them the size of a marble. They will swell up to a ping pong ball size after frying and soaking in the sugar syrup so don’t make the jamuns too large.

Heat oil of a low to medium heat and add the jamuns. Turn over gently to brown all sides. Do not use high heat as the outside will burn with a raw center. After brown add while warm into the prepared sugar syrup. Let site for an hour or so. Can remove it from the syrup if prefer the jamuns to be less soaked. Will stay covered in the fridge for more than a week. Just heat them slightly in the microwave.