Monday, November 30, 2009

Ravva Kesari/Rava Kesari/Sooji halwa

Ravva kesari is made as an offering to god in our house every saturday and also during Satya Narayana Swamy Vratam. This can be made very quickly and so I opt this as a dessert when we have friends over unannounced.

1 cup sooji /bombay ravva
1&1/2 cups water
1&1/2 cups milk (boiled)
1 cup sugar(add more if u like)
1cup ghee(reduce if u like but it tastes gr8 with lots of ghee)
1/2 tsp cardamom pwd
6 cashews halved(optional)
2-3 almonds sliced(optional)
4-6 pistachios(optional)
4 raisins(optional)
Orange food color(optional)

Fry the nuts and raisins in 1 tbsps ghee and keep a side. Heat a heavy bottomed pan and add 3 tbsps of ghee and add the sooji and saute till it turns light brown and a nice aroma fills the kitchen. Meanwhile boil the milk and water add the color if using. Add to the sauted ravva stirring constantly to avoid forming lumps and cook for 10-12 mins, adding more hot water if required. When the ravva is cooked, slowly add the sugar, the remaining ghee and the fried cashews, pistachios, almonds and raisins and cook for 3-4 mins. Serve warm. Enjoy!!!

Chepala vepudu/Andhra Fish Fry

Back in India, we ate (they still do) lots and different kinds of fish. I love fish curry, fried or baked. But after coming here its limited. For some reason i donot like to make traditional Indian curries or fry with the fillet we get here. So this week when I went to an Asian market I bought a live tilapia , asked the guy to clean it and cut it into steaks just like in India. After coming home I made fish fry and had it along with white rice and rasam. The combination was great.

1 tilapia (cut into steaks about 5-6 pieces and washed)
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
4-6 curry leaves
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 tbsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 tbsp red chiili pwd (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Mix all the above with the fish and keep aside for 15- 20 minutes or longer if you can. Heat a little oil in a pan and add the curry leaves and when they start to splutter, add the marinated fish pieces one by one and cook on medium- low heat for 5 mins on each side. Keep aside.

Grind to  paste:
 1&1/2 large onion
 2-3 green chillies
 3-4 curry leaves
 1 tbsp cilantro
1/2 tsp cumin pwd
1/2 tsp corriander pwd
 Salt enough for the onion

Heat some more oil about 2 tbsps in a pan and add the ground paste and fry till the raw smell disappears and the oil separates. Add the fried fish and saute for 2-3 mins and garnish with cilantro.Serve with rice or on its own.Enjoy!!!

Capsicum/Shimla mirchi/green bell pepper with coconut and ginger

Capsicum/ bell pepper can be eaten both raw or cooked. I  cook capsicum in different ways and this is one of them. It is easy to make and tastes great.

4 capsicum/bellpepper/shimla mirchi (de-seeded and cut into bite sized pieces)
1&1/2 inch ginger
2 tbsps fresh coconut or dessicated coconut pwdr
4 green chillies(adjust to taste)
1 large garlic pod
A pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste

Make a paste of coconut, ginger, garlic, green chillies with very little water if necessary and keep aside.

1tsp aavalu/mustard seeds
1tsp jeera/cumin seeds
2 dried red chillies- torn
6-8 curry leaves
1/2 tbsp minappappu/urad dal
1 tbsp oil

Heat a pan add oil and when hot add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and when they start to splutter, add the dried red chillies , curry leaves and urad dal and when the dal changes color, add the cut capsicum pieces and saute for 2-3 mins. Add the tumeric and about 4-5 tbsps water and cook on low heat covered for 6-8 mins. Add the paste of coconut, ginger, garlic, green chillies and salt and cook till the capsicum is a little soft.
Serve with rice or phulkas. Enjoy!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

My first Daring Bakers challenge.....Cannoli !!!!!

I joined the daring bakers and was excited to see that this months challenege is not baking but deep frying for making crunchy, creamy cannoli. I never had cannoli before and so this was indeed a challenge for me.

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts, and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michele Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
Cannoli are known as Italian-American pastries, although the origin of cannoli dates back to Sicily, specifically Palermo, where it was prepared during Carnevale season, and according to lore, as a symbol of fertility. The cannoli is a fried, tube-shaped pastry shell (usually containing wine) filled with a creamy amalgamation of sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate, candied fruit or zest, and sometimes nuts.

Although not traditional, mascarpone cheese is also widely used, and in fact, makes for an even creamier filling when substituted for part of the ricotta, or by itself. However, cannoli can also be filled with pastry creams, mousses, whipped cream, ice cream etc. You could also add your choice of herbs, zests or spices to the dough, if desired. Marsala is the traditional wine used in cannoli dough, but any red or white wine will work fine, as it’s not only added for flavor or color, but to relax the gluten in the dough since it can be a stiff dough to work with .I used cranberry juice instead of wine.

Cannoli forms/tubes - optional, but recommended if making traditional shaped cannoli.
Deep, heavy saucepan, enough to hold at least 2-3-inches of oil or deep fryer
Deep fat frying thermometer. although the bread cube or bit of dough test will work fine.
Metal tongs
Brass or wire skimmer or large slotted spoon
Pastry bag with large star or plain tip, but a snipped ziplock bag, butter knife or teaspoon will work fine.
Cooling rack
Paper bags or paper towels
Pastry Brush
Sieve or fine wire mesh strainer
Electric Mixer, stand or hand, optional, as mixing the filling with a spoon is fine.
Food Processor or Stand Mixer –  optional, (I made the dough by hand)
Rolling pin
Pastry or cutting board
Round cutters or the lid of a small bottle or the dough can also be cut into squares and rolled around the cannoli tube prior to frying. If making a stacked cannoli, any shaped cutter is fine, as well as a sharp knife.
Mixing bowl and wooden spoon if mixing filling by hand
Plastic Wrap/Clingfilm
Tea towels or just cloth towels

I halved Lisa's recipe, added cranberry juice, mixed the dough with hand (it turned out great and did not take much time at all) and made my filling with heavy cream , sugar and pomegranate juice instead of ricotta cheese since S doesn't like it.

Heavy cream filling:
1 cup heavy cream
4 tbsps sugar
1/4 cup fresh pomegranate juice
A pinch of cardamom pwd
A few drops of rose water

With a hand blender, blend all the ingredients for filling till stiff.Spoon into a ziplock bag, cut a small hole on one side of the bag and squeeze into the cannoli  shell from both sides and garnish with pistachio pwd , chocolate pwd and pomegranate seeds.

 Lisa's recipe:


2 cups (250 grams/16 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners' sugar

Note - If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).


2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

Note - If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

Pasta Machine method:

1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through

2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.

3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.

For stacked cannoli:
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).

2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).


1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.


1/2 cup (123 grams/4.34 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1/2 cup (113 grams/4.04 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup (122.5 grams/4.32 ounces) canned pumpkin, drained like ricotta
3/4 cup (75 grams/2.65 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 to 1 teaspoon (approx. 1.7 grams/approx. 0.06 ounces) pumpkin pie spice (taste)
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 2 grams/approx. 0.08 ounces) pure vanilla extract
6-8 cannoli shells

1. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta and mascarpone until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl, cover and chill until it firms up a bit. (The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

2. Fill the shells as directed above. I dipped the ends of the shells in caramelized sugar and rolled them in toasted, chopped pecans.

- Dough must be stiff and well kneaded
- Rolling the dough to paper thinness, using either a rolling pin or pasta machine, is very important. If the dough is not rolled thin enough, it will not blister, and good cannoli should have a blistered surface.
- Initially, this dough is VERY stubborn, but keep rolling, it eventually gives in. Before cutting the shapes, let the dough rest a bit, covered, as it tends to spring back into a smaller shapes once cut. Then again, you can also roll circles larger after they’re cut, and/or into ovals, which gives you more space for filling.
- Your basic set of round cutters usually doesn’t contain a 5-inch cutter. Try a plastic container top, bowl etc, or just roll each circle to 5 inches. There will always be something in your kitchen that’s round and 5-inches if you want large cannoli.
- Oil should be at least 3 inches deep and hot – 360°F-375°F, or you’ll end up with greasy shells. I prefer 350°F - 360°F because I felt the shells darkened too quickly at 375°F.
- If using the cannoli forms, when you drop the dough on the form into the oil, they tend to sink to the bottom, resulting in one side darkening more. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to gently lift and roll them while frying.
- DO NOT crowd the pan. Cannoli should be fried 2-4 at a time, depending on the width of your saucepan or deep fryer. Turn them once, and lift them out gently with a slotted spoon/wire skimmer and tongs. Just use a wire strainer or slotted spoon for flat cannoli shapes.
- When the cannoli turns light brown - uniform in color, watch it closely or remove it. If it’s already a deep brown when you remove it, you might end up with a really dark or slightly burnt shell.
- Depending on how much scrap you have left after cutting out all of your cannoli shapes, you can either fry them up and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for a crispy treat, or let the scraps rest under plastic wrap and a towel, then re-roll and cut more cannoli shapes.

Note: Do check out the amazing cannoli creations of fellow daring bakers here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


S loves rasgullas. Last weekend when we went to the Indian grocery store, he wanted to buy them from a tin but wanted to make them for him. So I made them today. Ingredients:

Making of chenna  here
 Chenna made from 1/2 gallon of milk(drain with out any water)
For sugar syrup:
2 cups sugar(reduce if u like)
4 cups water
1/4 tsp cardamom pwd
3-4 drops rose essence or rose water

Boil sugar and water along with cardamom powder in a heavy bottomed pan and keep aside. Meanwhile, knead the chenna till it becomes smooth and when u roll, it makes a perfect ball. Make small marble sized balls(they will double in size) and slowly drop in the boiling sugar syrup.Cover and cook for 10-12 min on low heat,turning once in between(u will see that they have doubled in size). Add  rose essence just before turning off the stove.Remove into a bowl carefully along with the syrup and set aside to cool.When cool refrigerate for atleast 5-6 hours.Serve chilled or room temperature. Enjoy!!!

Note: Rasgulla can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight box for upto 5 days.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hyderabadi chicken Biryani

Hyderabad is famous for its biryanis and I never appreciated biryani when I was in India....infact I hated it so much that when ever biryani was made at home, something different was made for me . But after coming to the US, I made it frequently for S, his friends and relatives. But, I used to cook the basmati rice and chicken together with all the spices in the pressure cooker. But the last time when I went to India, I learned making the proper way of making biryani from one of our cooks.He makes amazing food and when I told him how i made my biryani, he insisted on teaching me how he makes it. We had friends over yesterday and I made this biryani and so could not take proper pics.I will update them soon with a step by step tutorial.

 For Marinade:
        2lbs skinless chicken with bone( cut into medium sized pieces, washed and squeezed without water)
        2 cups curd (beaten)
        1/2 cup chopped mint leaves/pudina
        1/2 cup chopped cilantro/kothimeera
        6-8 green chillies (slit lenght wise)
        1/2 onion(thinly sliced(optional))
        1/2 tsp turmeric
        1&1/2 tbsps red chilli  pwd
        1 tbsp dhaniya pwd/corriander pwd
        1 tbsp cumin pwd/jeera pwd
        2-3 tbsps lemon juice
        2 tbsps ginger garlic paste
        Salt to taste
Grind together:-
      2 green cardamom
      1 black cardamom
      6-7 cloves
      1 bayleaf
      1&1/2 inch cinnamon stick
      2 pieces of mace/javitri
      1 whole star anise /anaasa puvvu
      1/2 tsp kala jeera
      1/2 tsp fennel seeds
Mix all the ingredients for marinade, the ground powder and check for salt except chicken. Add the chicken pieces and mix well.Keep aside overnight or atleast 5-6 hrs.

For rice
 3 cups basmati rice( pre washed and soaked in water for atleast 30 mins)
 Whole garam Masala
--3 green cardamom
--2 black cardamom
--6-8 cloves
--1 inch piece of cinnamon
--1 tsp kala jeera
--1 tsp fennel seeds
--1 bay leaf
--1/2 star anise

Add 2 tbsps oil to 8-10  of cups water along with salt and boil. Tie the whole garam masala in a clean cloth (make a pouch) and add to the boiling water and check for salt.The water should be a little salty but not too salty.Drain the soaked basmati rice and add to the boiling water and cook till the rice is 80% cooked (ie when u squeeze a garin, it should have a little bite to it), remove the garam masala pouch and drain immediately and keep it aside.

1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
Soak a 2 tsps of saffron starnds in 3 tbsps warm milk or water  and keep aside for 15 mins
3-4 dried plums(optional)
12-14 cashew nuts  fried in 1 tsp ghee
1/4 cup fried onion(optional)
2 tbsps rose water(optional)

In a deep and heavy bottomed vessel with atight lid,arrange the marinated chicken tightly.Add the dried plums and fried cashew nutsAdd the 80% cooked rice and scatter the fried onion, mint leaves, soaked saffron solution, rose water and close the lid tightly (if you donot have a tight lid,cover the vessel with a clean kitchen towel and close the lid or close the lid and seal it with dough made with water and whole wheat flour or all purpose flour) and cook on high flame for 5 mins,20 mins on medium flame and 15 mins on very low flame.
Switch off and carefully open the lid and mix very gently and serve when hot with raitha and salan of your choice.Enjoy!!!

Baby bok choy and tomato dal

Last week when we went to an Asian grocery store,I picked up baby bok choy.After coming home they went into the fridge and all forgotten about.I usually stir fry bok choy with onion and green chillies and serve as a side dish or add it into my soups. Today I made it for dinner combined with toor dal and tomato.

1 cup toor dal (washed)
1&1/2 cups bok choy(chopped)
1 small onion (chopped)
2-3 green chillies(slit length wise)
1 medium tomato (chopped)
1tsp sliced ginger(optional)
1&1/2 tsp sambar pwd
A small marble sized tamarind
A pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste

1 tsp aavalu/mustard seeds
1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
3-4 dried red chillies(torn )
5-6 curry leaves
2 pods of garlic or a pinch of hing

Heat 1 tsp oil and saute the onions, green chillies, ginger for a minute.Add the washed and chopped bok choy and saute for 2-3 mins and add tomato, toor dal, tamarind, turmeric and sambar pwd along with water and pressure cook till done.Add salt and mix well.
Heat an other pan add oil/ghee and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds.When they splutter, add the dried red chillies, garlic or hing, curry leaves and saute for another 2 mins.Switch off and add to the cooked dal and mix well.Serve with rice or phulkas.Enjoy!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Beerakaya tokku pacchadi/Ridge gourd skin chutney

My mom-in-law makes vegetable pacchadis/chutneys with any and every vegetable and greens and we love  them. I made a few changes of my own to her beerakaya pacchadi. Mil adds green chillies,which I substituted for red and added 1/2 tbsp sugar.

Peel of three beerakayalu/ridge gourds along with seeds and 1/4 cup of ridge gourd(optional)(wash them throughly)
1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
1/2 tsp dhaniyalu/corriander seeds
2-3 menthulu/methi seeds
6-8 dried red chillies(adjust according to your taste)
1/2 tbsp sugar(add more if u like or omit completely)
1&1/2 tbsp minapapu/urad dal
2 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
A small marble sized tamarind

1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
1tsp avalu/mustard seeds
6-8 curry leaves
2 dried red chillies(torn apart)
1 tbsp minapappu/urad dal

Saute  red chillies, jeera, corriander seeds, methi seeds in a little oil and keep aside. Saute urad dal it changes color and emits nice aroma(take care not to burn) and keep aside.Let cool and powder. Saute the skin,seeds and pieces (if using)of the ridge gourd,tamarind till the raw smell disappears.Cool.Add to the powder, along with salt and sugar and make a paste using as little water as possible.Check for seasoning.Keep aside.
Heat another pan and add a tbsp oil and add the cumin, mustard seeds and let them splutter.Add the dried red chillies and urad dal and saute till the urad dal changes color.Add the curry leaves.Add this tadka to the ridge gourd paste and mix well.Serve with rice and ghee or phulkas or parathas.Enjoy!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Anapakaya Pappu(Sorakaya /Bottle gourd/Dudhi)

Growing up we had this vine in the backyard and it grows like a crazy giving us loads of anapakaya...even after mom shared them with family and neighbours ,we would be left with so many of them  and yet i loved this vegetable.Mom made many varieties with them and anapakaya dal is one of them.
Anapakaya pappu is bottlegourd cooked in toor dal along with tangy tamarind,hot green chillies, tumeric and onions.And finally add the talimpu.....and the result...yummmmmm!!

1 cup kandi pappu/toor dal
1&1/2 cups anapakaya/bottle gourd cubed
4-5 green chillies slit length wise
1/2 onion sliced
A pinch of turmeric
Marble sized tamarind washed

1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
6-8 curry leaves
2-3 dried red chillies
1 clove of garlic crushed or a pinch of hing
1 tbsp ghee or oil

Wash the dal and put it in a pressure cooker.Add the bottle gourd, tamarind, green chillies, onion, turmeric and add enough water (I used 2 and 1/2 cups water) close the lid and pressure cook for about 3-4 whistles. Let it cool and then open the lid,add the salt to taste and mix well.Donot mash the bottlegourd.

Heat ghee in a pan and add the mustard seeds and cumin.When they start to splutter,add the dried red chillies
and garlic or hing. Saute for a min and add the curry leaves and switch off the stove.Carefully add this to the cooked dal and mix gently.Serve with rice and papad or phulkas.Enjoy!!!!

Nutella and banana or strawberry sandwiches

I love chocolate !!!!!!Anything that has chocolate in an instant hit with me.I usually have a bottle of nutella stashed away in my pantry.One day when we where staying in Atlanta,one of my neighbours dropped by with her grandchildren and I had nothing to offer them as they never had Indian food and I didnot want to she suggested I make a nutella I started making one and in the process added strawberries in one and banana in the other.The kids loved them and so did we and 've been hooked to these ever since. And its so simple u will need all of 15-20 mins.Photos will follow.....

4 slices of bread
1 medium banana(sliced)
4-6 strawberries(depending on the size)
3-4 tbsps nutella
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsps pwd sugar

Apply enough nutella on one side of the bread slice and arrange sliced bananas and apply nutella on the other slice if u like.Close the sandwich and apply butter on the outside (both sides)and sprinkle pwd sugar.Keep aside.Repeat with the other two slices but add sliced strawberries instead of the bananas.Add butter on the outeside and sprinkle pwd sugar.Heat a pan and when hot add the sanwiches and cook till both the sides turn a golden brown.Take care not to burn.When done carefully remove from heat and cut diagonally or into strips and serve with  chocolate dipping sauce.
Note:Omit the pwd sugar if using a sandwich maker.

Chocolate dipping sauce:

Mix 2 tbsps of nutella and 2 and 1/2 tbsps of heavy cream and serve.Enjoy!!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Paneer and peas butter masala

My mom says 'm  obsessed with North Indian food and hubby dear agrees......and maybe  jusssst a taaaaaad bit...I still remember when we first ate it in a dhaba on the way to Rayaghad where my mom's parents lived at the time.I was about 10 ,we had it with butter naan and was delicious!!!Paneer is  very versatile.You can whip up an entire meal with paneer as a main ingredients, like appetizers,curries,pulaos,biryanis and desserts.Here's my version......

250 gms of home made paneer(cubed)
1/4 cup green peas
1 very large onion blanced and pureed
3 medium tomatoes pureed
3-4 green chillies(paste)
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2tbsp corriander pwd
1/2 tbsp cumin pwd
1&1/2 tsps tomato paste or 1&1/2 tsps tomato ketchup
1 tsp kasoori methi pwd
1 tbsp redchilly pwd
1 tsp garam masala pwd
8-10 cashews paste
3 tbsps heavy cream(optional, increase if u like)
2 tbsps unsalted butter
Salt to taste
A pinch of sugar
A pinch of red food color(optional)
Cilantro for garnish
1/4 inch ginger thinly sliced  for garnish (optional)

Heat a kadai and add the butter.Add the pureed onion and cook till the raw smell disappears.Add the tomato paste, tomato puree and green chilly paste and ginger garlic paste.Cook till the tomato is fully cooked and the raw smell of the ginger garlic paste disappears.When oil starts to separate,add peas and cook for 10 mins.Add the cashew paste and cook till the raw smell disappears(take care not to burn).Add the cumin pwd,corrinader pwd,garam masala pwd,salt,chilly pwd,sugar,kasoori methi pwd,food color if using any.Saute for 2 mins and add the paneer and 3/4 cup of water and cook covered for 5 mins and add the cream.Cook for 5 more mins or till the required consistency is acheived.Garnish with the sliced ginger and cilantro.Serve with naan or jeera rice or pulao.Enjoy!!!!!

How to make Chenna/Paneer

Making paneer or chenna is easier than u might think it is.All u need is milk,lemon juice or vinegar,curd and a piece of cloth and you're all set to make paneer/chenna.So next time u wanna make paneer butter masala or shahi paneer or even rasgulla or sandesh,do try to make ur own paneer/chenna.

1 gallon milk
2 tbsps lemon juice or vinegar or 1 cup of curd with whey
1 tbsp water

Heat a heavy bottomed pan and add milk.Let it come to boil,stirring(to avoid the milk from buring).

Add lemon juice mixed in 1 tbsp water and stir for a sec.Switch off the stove.The milk breaks and clear water can be seen .

 Line a strainer with cheese cloth.

At this stage,drain the chenna onto a cheese cloth,lined in a strainer.

Make sure to drain the water completely or  set it with heavy weight,keep aside for an hr and cut it into peices and use as paneer.or crumble and use in sweets.

Oats Dosa

I always buy Oats (when 'm in the healthy mode) and never finsih dear hubby finishes them off ....this time I wanted it to be different and bought some oats and stocked up the pantry and forgot all about it.I found them way back in the pantry when I was searching for something and decided to try something with oats for breakfast the following  morning I googled and found this recipe here and loved it.Do try it and you'll love it.

3/4 cup urad flour
1&1/4 cups rice flour
 1/4 cup+2 tbsps  rolled oats or old fashioned oats (not the quick cooking or instant oats)
Salt to taste
2 tsps sugar

Soak the oats in a little water and set aside for 10-15 mins.And then blend till smooth adding more water if required.Add the urad and rice flours and 1/2 cup water(if needed) and blend till smooth.Take it into a bowl and keep in a warm place overnight or for about 10 hrs.Just before making the dosas, add the salt and sugar and mix well.The batter should be of pouring consistency.Neither too thick nor too thin.Heat an iron griddle ,add a tsp of oil and wipe with a wet tissue or half cut onion.....reduce the flame and pour a laddle and half of the batter and spread it in a circle with the back of the laddle.Spray  a little oil around and on the dosa, turn up the heat and let cook till the dosa turns golden brown.Take care not to burn.Flip and cook for 1/2 min and then fold or roll and keep aside.Repeat with the rest of the batter.Serve with chutney or sambar.Enjoy!!!!

Note: If u want steamed dosa,pour a laddle full of dosa batter and spread it a little thick add a tsp of oil to the sides and cover cook on low heat till it is cooked.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

PullaVada/Pumpkin Vada

This is a recipe post by one of my friends V.She won the first prize in a contest held in a community we're a part of.I asked her if I could post it in my blog and she agreed....Thanks V....and here's the recipe in her words....

Pulla Vada maa intlo it is one of the favorite snack.Pumpkins vorlo ninchi vasthey chaalu, compulsary ga ee snack cheyalsindhey!It is very easy and does not require much time to prepare.

  • Par boiled Rice/ Idli Rice- 1 cup
  • Coconut - 2 spoons
  • Tamarind - A very small piece
  • Red chillies - 6 to 7 depending on taste
  • Jeera - 1 spoon
  • Soaked Channa dal - 2 spoons
  • Mustard seeds and curry leaves for tempering
  • Coriander leaves - few sprigs
  • Salt - to taste

  • Wash and soak raw rice in warm water for couple of hours. Drain.
  • Chop pumpkin into 1 inch piece and soak them in boiling water for 2 minutes (Just to soften the pumpkin)
  • Soak channa dal and keep aside.
  • Grind the rice, pumpkin, red chillies, jeera, coconut, tamarind, salt into fine paste by adding very little water. Pindi thick ga vundali. Jaaruga vunthey vada asalu raadu..appudu kodiga rice flour add chesukovali.(The batter/dough should be a little thick...if its thin add a little rice flour.)
  • Heat oil. do the tempering with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add it along with coriander leaves and channa dal to the dough.
  • Heat oil in a deep dish.
  • Take a plastic sheet or wax paper. Apply little oil. Take some dough and pat it flat to half a cm thickness.
  • Deep fry the flattened vada in the oil and remove when it turns golden brown.
  • Suggested Serving: Kobbari pachadi.
  • Can also be roasted instead of deep frying(make them thin)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gudlu vankaya pulusu/Eggs cooked with eggplant in tamarind sauce

Eggs are a good source of protein and choline.Choline is an important nutrient for development of the brain, and is said to be important for pregnant and nursing women to ensure healthy fetal brain development.Children should have a whole egg at least 3 times a week.Courtesy wiki.Egg is cooked in so many different ways. Cooking boiled eggs in a tangy tamarind sauce is one of them and I love it this way.Amma would add brinjal to this some times and thats what I did.

4-5 eggs
5 small brinjal(optional) sliced into 6 pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 green chillies,slit
4-5 currry leaves
1 tsp avalu/musatrd seeds
1 tsp jeera/cumin
2-3 tbsps of thick tamarind pulp(adjust to taste)
1&1/2 cups water(more if required)
1 tbsp red chilli pwd (optional)
1 tsp sugar
A pinch of tumeric
Salt to taste

Boil eggs in water with a little salt (to prevent the shell from cracking).let cool and remove shells and make small slits on all sides.Keep aside.Heat oil in a kadai/pan add the boiled eggs and fry till golden brown on all sides(can omit this if u don't like it).Keep aside.Add cumin, mustard seeds when they satrt to splutter,add curry leaves, onion and chillies.Saute till the onions turn translucent.Add the sliced brinjal,tumeric,salt,redchilli pwd ,sugar and cook till the brinjal is 3/4 cooked.Add the eggs and tamarind pulp along with 1 and 1/2 cups water and boil till the gravy thickens(add more water if required).Adjust seasonings.Serve with rice.Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quesadilla and Mexican rice

I love Mexican food.I wanted to make quesadilla for brunch today.But I had to make something different for my 19 month old  and he loves Mexican rice.So this was our brunch menu,quesadilla with  side of mexican rice.I know the pics donot do justice....I will re post them when I make them again.....

Mexican rice :
2 cups of spanish rice or any long grain rice
1 medium onion chopped
2-3 tomatoes (pureed)
2 jalapeno peppers finely chopped
1/2 cup mixed veggies(carrots,peas,green beans chopped (optinal))
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves(grated on the finer side of the grater)
1 tbsp tomato paste(optional)
2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup cilantro
A pinch of saffron(optional)
1&1/2 tbsp cumin pwd
1tbsp corrinader pwd
Salt to taste
Olive oil/butter

Method :
Heat olive oil or butter.Add the rice and fry till it turns golden brown.Donot burn.Keep aside.Heat oil in a pan and add bay leaf,garlic,jalapenos,onion and fry till the onion is translucent.Add tomato paste and satue for 2 mins.Add the mixed veggies and saute for 3-4 mins.Add the tomato puree,cumin pwd, corriander pwd and chicken broth ,saffron and let it come to a boil.Check for salt.Add rice,mix and cook till the rice is cooked adding more water if necessary.Add  the finley chopped cilantro and fold it in gently.Serve hot.Enjoy!!!!!!


2 large flour tortillas
1 can of balck beans(washed and drained)
1 large onion sliced thin
1 large red bell pepper
1/4 cup canned/bottled jalapenos(chopped finely)
1tbsp oil
salt to taste

Method :
Heat oil in a pan and add red bell pepper and saute for 2 mins and add the onion ,salt and cook till it gets translucent.Add the drained beans and  mash some of them.Add the chopped jalapenos and saute for a min and switch off the stove.Heat the tortillas in microwave for 30 secs wrapped in a damp paper towel.Keep aside covered.Take one tortilla place it in a pan and add cheese to cover half the tortilla.Add the bean and onion mixture and spread then add the cheese again to cover the mixture.Carefully fold over the tortilla and place a heavy bottom vessel to cover the top of the tortilla and once the cheese on the bottom melts.Flip around the quesadilla and let the cheese melt.Plate, cut and serve with sourcream.Enjoy!!!!!!

Gunta Ponganalu/Gunta Pongadalu/Ponganalu

Gunta Ponganalu is a dish made especially in the Rayalaseema region of Andra Pradesh.They are made in a special pongadala pan.My grandmother  made this frequently for breakfast when we visited them for Sankranthi every year.She served these beauties with peanut chutney ,coconut chutney or any non veg curry......I loved it with chicken curry and also fish pulusu.....just typing about it is making my mouth without further ado, lets move on to the recipe.

Ingredients :
3 cups left over uthappam batter(u can find the recipe here) or u can use left over idli batter(recipe here)
1 onion finley chopped
2 green chillies finely chopped(optional)
1 tsp vaamu/ajwain
1tsp jeera/cumin seeds
1/4 cup finely grated carrot(optional)
3 tbsps finely chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
A pinch of tumeric(optional)
A pinch of baking soda(optional)
2 tsp of black pepper(if not using green chillies and if u want to use both,reduce the black pepper to 1tsp)

Method :

Mix all the ingrdients.The batter should not be as thick as the idli batter or as dosa batter should be in between.Heat the pongadala pan and spary oil .

Pour in the batter till its full.

Close the lid and cook on medium to low heat for 5-8 minsand turn them around and cook on the other side for 4-5 mins and they are done.

Serve hot with chutney of your choice.Enjoy!!!!

Note : Gunta ponganalu can be had for breakfast lunch or dinner.They are quiet filling.
Make sure to cook them on medium to low heat for about 5-8 mins on each side.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chole/Garbanzo beans cooked in spices

I always loved the chole my mom made.Mom usually made it to go with phulkas,but I relished it by itself.Last year when my mom visited us I made this and she said she loved the way I make it  and asked me to make it frequently through out her visit.I want to send it to the steady pulse event.

2 cups kabuli channa, washed and soaked overnight and cooked till soft or canned garbanzo beans
2 tomatoes finley chopped
1 large onion finley chopped
1&1/2 tsp ginger grated
3-4 green chillies finley chopped
1 tsp kala jeera
1 tsp fennel pwd
2 tsp cumin pwd
2 tsp corriander pwd
1 tbsp garam masala pwd(2 cloves,1/2 inch piece of cinnamom,1 green cardamom)
1 tsp amchur pwd
1 tsp anardana pwd
1 tbsp redchilli pwd(reduce or increase to ur taste)
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp kasoori methi
a pinch of methi seeds pwd
a pinch of hing
cilantro for garnish
lemon wedge for garnish

Method :
Heat oil in a deep kadai and add hing and kala jeera...when it splutters,add chopped grren chillies and onion.Saute till the onion turns translucent.Add the grated ginger and saute for a min.Add the tomatoes,salt,red chilli pwd,garam masala,tumeric,kasoori methi,fennel pwd,cumin pwd and dhaniya pwd and cook till the oil leaves the sides and the tomato is mushy and cooked.Add the channa and about one and half cups water and let cook till the channa are completely cooked and the water reduces to half(u can mash some channa at this stage if u like ).Add the kala namak and anardana pwd and cook for another 3-4 mins.Check for salt.Garnish with cilantro.If u like more tartness,add a dash of lemon juice and some sliced raw onion .Serve with phulka or puri or jeera rice.Enjoy!!!!

Gulabjam/Gulab Jamun/Gulab Jamoon with Khoa/Kohya/Mawa for ICC

I'm now a proud member of Indian Cooking Challenge started by Srivalli .This months challenge is to make gulab jamun.Gulab jamun...deep fried balls of heaven with sugary syrup which melt in your mouth.........Sure I make gulab jamun once in a while with the ready mix but never with khoya and to top it home made khoya and thats the challenge.I never made khowa so this is a challenge for me.It took me two  hrs to make khoya.
I followed Alka's method with a few changes of my own.

Ingredients for sugar syrup :
2 cups sugar(add more if u like)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp rose water
1 tsp cardamom pwd
A few strands of saffron

Heat a thick bottomed vessel and add the sugar,saffron and water and bring to a boil.Remove the scum which forms on the top with a ladle.Now add the cardamom pwd.The syrup should not be too thick nor too thin.Add more water and sugar if required.Switch off when the syrup get to the desired consistency and add the rose water.Keep aside.Always prepare the sugar syrup before frying the jamuns.

For making Jamuns:
1&1/4 cups koya/mawa/Khova
1cup maida
1 tbsp rice flour
1tsp milk(optional)
1/4 cup chocolate chips/morsels(optional)

Method :
Mix all the ingredients except chocolate into a soft dough adding moisture if required.Now make small balls and stuff each ball with one chocolate chip and form round balls again.They should not have any cracks on them.Fry the jamuns in a deep kadai on low flame to ensure that the middle is also completely cooked.Donot disturb the jamuns when cooking.turn only once or twice or they will break.Fry till they are golden brown and remove with a slotted ladle and immediately add to the sugar syrup.Let sit for atleast 30 mins to an hour inorder for the gulab jamuns to absorb the sugar syrup.Can be served warm with vanilla ice cream or chilled before serving.Enjoy!!!!!

When making making the jamuns wet hands in water to ensure crack free balls.Fry one jamun first.If it come out flat add a little more maida to it.

Thanks Srivalli for a wonderful challenege.......

Uthappam/Oothappam/Savoury pancakes topped with vegetables

I made uthappam for breakfast today.Both me and my brother like them.I never could finish one of these and my brother one and half.They are quite heavy.I guess u can have them for lunch or dinner too.We never did though.My mom made uthappam batter seperately.They are basically rice and lentil savoury pancakes with onions,tomatoes and vegetable toppings of ur choice.So u get ur carbs,protein and veggies in one serving.

1 cup split urad dal,pre-washed
1/2 cup yellow moong dal,pre-washed
1/2 cup channa dal,pre-washed
2&1/2 cups rice,pre-washed
1 cup atukulu/poha,pre-washed
1/2 tsp menthulu/fenugreek seeds

For toppings:
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 green chillies finely chopped
1 carrot grated
1 large tomato deseeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup finley chopped cilantro
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds

 Keep aside.

For uthappam batter:
Pre-wash and soak all dals and rice together along with menthulu.Pre-wash and soak poha seperately.Soak all of them for 8 hrs.Wash and drain water and gring in a wet grinder or mixie till till it becomes soft, adding water if necessary.The batter should be thicker than the dosa batter and thinner than the idli batter.Keep in a warm place like oven,overnight, slightly covered.In the morning the batter would  rise and is fermented.Add salt just before making the uthappam.

Method to make uthappam:
Heat an iron girdle or pan and spread a tsp of oil over it .Pour a ladle full of the batter onto the hot pan and spread it (uthappam should not be crispy nor too thick).It should be about 1/2 inch think.Drizzle a tsp of oil around and on the uthappam and cover it and steam cook for 4-5 mins on low heat.When golden brown, turn and cook for another min or two.Serve with chutney of ur choice.
My mom always served it with peanut chutney and I love the combination.So thats what I did.Enjoy!!!!

Note :
This measurement is for a family of 4 people.Double or half the measurements according to the needs of ur family.The unsalted batter can be stored in fridge.
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