Monday, November 22, 2010


Fall is my most favorite season.  The deep rich golds, reds, yellows and browns that color everything, the chill autumn air, the cool deep golden sunlight that makes everything look magical! My, I Love Fall!!!
It also inspires me to bring the lovliness inside and I would like to share a few pictures of the same with you.
                   Wheat grass bouquet signifying harvest placed in a pebble filled glass jar.

Mini pumpkins and hurricane lamp decorating the coffee table.

                              Pumpkins, berries and lights add the autumn-ness to the living room.

                                                      Flower Power in the kitchen

               Thankful for the lovley friends, good times and good food that surrounds this table :)

As I said earlier, wanted to bring the richness of outside indoors too. So I covered the table with a rich yellow table cloth, placed some fall leaves gathered from my backyard on it and covered it with a transparent table cloth.  I was happy with the result!

I enjoyed setting up the home with these lovely decorations. Cant wait to start on my Christmas stuff soon :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Anyone familiar with Indian cuisine has tasted or at least know Gulab Jamun- those delicious, golden, melt in your mouth dumplings (for lack of other description) floating in honey flavored syrup. Well, Kala Jamun is the dark rich cousin, slightly more complicated to make but just as delicious. Kala jamun literally means black jamuns, named after their namesake fruit.

This recipe is made using an instant Jamun mix, a short cut method, just like all my other recipes. Just a few things to remember to get perfect Kala Jamuns- make it atleast a couple of days ahead so they get a thorough soak and have patience as they need to be fried twice


1 pack instant Gulab Jamun mix

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp cardamom powder

5 tsp milk (or as needed)

15 raisins (optional)

Oil for deep frying

For Syrup:

2 cups sugar

1 ½ cup water

½ tsp kewra water

Dessicated coconut (optional)

Sieve the jamun mix to remove all lumps and make a dough using just enough milk and making sure not to knead, but just mix until a ball is formed. Cover with a damp cloth and rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile heat oil on a medium flame. In another large saucepan, heat the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add kewra water.

Take ¼ of the dough and knead in the cardamom powder, sugar and divide into 15 tiny rounds. (Optional- insert a raisin into each one and make rounds). Divide the rest of the dough into 15 rounds. Flatten each one, place the smaller round in the center, cover and pinch together the ends and roll into smooth balls. Keep covered until all are done. Deep fry all the 15 jamuns on a medium heat until they turn golden brown. Remove, drain and refry them till they turn purpulish black in color. Remove from oil and add directly into the warm sugar syrup. Let soak for atleast 4 hours or more. Remove from the syrup and roll into dessicated coconut and serve.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Or Kolambi che Kaalvan, is a version of green shrimp curry from Maharashtra. It is a spicy, delicious medley of green chillies, cilantro and a few other spices. The first time I ate this at my friend’s house many years back, she had put in a ton of chillies into the paste and the curry was unbearably spicy, but that did not deter my hubby or me from licking our fingers and plates clean. When I saw these gorgeous shrimp at the market, I had to buy them and make my hubby’s favorite shrimp curry – spicy green shrimp curry, as he calls it. I have toned down the spice level in the gravy though, feel free to adjust the spiciness to your liking.


1 pound large shrimp

5 -8 green chillies

8 sprigs cilantro

3 cloves garlic

½ inch ginger

¼ tsp black pepper

½ inch cinnamon

3 cloves

1 onion chopped fine

1 tbsp grated coconut

1 tsp lemon juice

Pinch of salt and turmeric

Clean, shell and devein the shrimp. Grind to a smooth paste the cilantro, pepper, chillies, ginger, garlic, cloves and cinnamon with a little water.


Marinate the shrimp for 15 mnts in half of this green puree, salt, lemon juice and turmeric. Grind the coconut to a paste with a little water.

Heat oil and add the chopped onions and sauté till light brown. Add the rest of the puree and sauté for a few minutes.
Add the marinated shrimp, cover and cook for 6 minutes. Add the coconut paste and stir in ¼ cup of water. Cover and cook till done, another 12 minutes or so. Serve with chappatis or white rice.

Monday, September 6, 2010


This Chilli pickle is a spicy, I mean SPICY accompaniment, surely not for those with delicate stomachs and tongues. I tasted this pickle immediately after making it and decided to not serve this as it was simply too potent. When I actually did serve a little bit to my friends the next day, they LOVED it and I was truly surprised! I guess, that after the pickle rests, it actually does taste better as the flavors tend to mellow down and marry well.

This pickle can be stored in an airtight bottle for almost 4 months in the pantry or upto a year in the refrigerator. Tastes great with parathas, dal chawal, dosas, idlis, curd rice, well almost anything. Do try it out and let me know your thoughts.


Ripe red fresh chillies – 400 gms washed and dried
Cilantro- 2 bunches washed and dried
1 large lemon sized ball of tamarind
¼ cup + 2 tsp oil
2 tsp mustard oil
½ tsp methi powder (optional)
1 tsp jiggery pounded
4 cloves of garlic chopped fine
1 tsp channa dal
1 tsp udad dal
¾ tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves

Wash and dry the chillies and cilantro very well. Any moisture will reduce the shelf life of the pickle drastically. Soak tamarind in 1 cup water and microwave for 2 minutes. Let cool and squeeze out all the pulp from the tamarind and set aside.

Cut the chillies into large pieces. Heat 2 tsp of oil and fry the cut chillies on medium heat till they turn soft, about 7-8 minutes. Make sure the exhaust fan is on and all the windows are open as the chillies can be really pungent when fried. Remove from pan and let cool. In the same pan add the cilantro and fry until just wilted. Remove from pan and cool.

Grind the chillies, cilantro and the tamarind pulp to a smooth puree. Heat ¼ cup oil and add the dals, mustard seeds and garlic and try till garlic is golden and soft. Add the curry leaves. Now add the chilli puree and salt. Stir and fry well for 10 minutes. Add the jaggery and methi powder and cook for 25 to 30 minutes on a medium or till the oil separates. Let cool and store in clean airtight containers.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Idlis are a favorite in our household. But they tend to be hard work what with all the soaking, grinding, cleaning the grinder, mixing, fermenting that is involved. Rava idli is the quicker, easier solution to satisfy a sudden attack of idli craving.

I have to admit that I was not a big fan of rava idli growing up but nevertheless I always keep a few packets of the instant mix in the pantry handy at all times as they make a quick breakfast or snack. I decided to try making rava idlis from scratch and guess what? They were really easy to make and came out just as good (actually some friends claimed better than) the instant rava idli mix. And I have to agree as I actually enjoyed them. Infact they were so good that I decided to make 170 for the VaraLakshmi Haldo kumkum :) For all my friends who wanted the recipe, here is how I made it.


2 cups rava (coarse sooji)
1 ½ cup yogurt
1 tbsp cashew nuts chopped and toasted
1 tsp udad dal
¾ tsp channa dal
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp of green chillies and ginger paste
Sprig of curry leaves chopped
1 tbsp green beans thinly sliced (optional)
1 tbsp grated carrots
1 tbsp grated coconut
Chopped cilantro
Pinch of asafoetida
¾ tsp Eno fruit salt
1 tsp oil

Heat oil and add the dals, mustard seeds and hing. When the mustard splutters, add the cashews, curry leaves.

Add the sooji and fry on medium heat for 8- 10 minutes stirring constantly. Turn off the heat when the rava starts to get golden streaks when stirring. Let cool.
Mix the ginger chilli paste, coriander and salt into the yogurt in a large bowl. Add the cooled rava and enough water and mix well to make a smooth batter. Add the Eno fruit salt and mix well. The batter will turn a little frothy as it should.

Heat a large pot (of cooker) with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Grease the idli molds and place tiny amounts of coconut, beans and carrots in each mold. Spoon in the idli batter into the molds and place them in the cooker and steam on medium high for 10 mnts. The yummy healthy rava idlis are ready!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I am a big fan of Indo Chinese cuisine, well, actually any Asian cuisine, but love Indo Chinese in particular. This is one of the dishes that is most requested by my family and friends. The recipe changes depending on the vegetables on hand when I start preparing it, but it mostly always turns out good no matter what I add or leave out of the dish. This particular recipe can be tweaked to your choice, make it vegetarian by leaving out the prawns or substitute it with chicken, tofu,  be creative depending on the moment.

The trick to cooking good Chinese cuisine is to have all the ingredients prepared and handy before starting to cook and quick cooking on really high heat


Egg noodles, 1 pound

4- 5 cups assorted vegetables, julienned (cabbage, capsicum, carrots, snow peas)

1 tsp crushed dry chillies

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped

1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped

1 onion, sliced

3 green onions, chopped and whites separated from the green stalks

Shrimp – 1 pound


1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp soy sauce

Salt and pepper

Marinate the prawns with the marinade ingredients and set aside for 15 minutes. Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok on high and sauté the prawns until they turn pink. Remove from wok and set aside.

Prepare noodles according to instructions on the noodle pack. Strain and set aside.

Add 2 more tbsp of oil to the wok and increase the heat. Add the chopped ginger and garlic and stir. Add the red chilli flakes, onions, white part of the green onions and quickly fry for a minute. Stir in all the vegetables and sauté. Add the soy sauce, aji-no-moto (optional) , salt and pepper and fry for 2 minutes till al dente. Add the prawns and cook for a minute. Mix in the cooked noodles and cook for a a few more minutes. Add the chopped green onions and serve.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I come from a family of fabulous cooks. Even my uncles add creative twists on regular recipes which make their dishes taste out of this world. This is one such recipe I grew up eating and is a ‘must do’ each time I visit my uncle’s home in India. It took a lot of arm twisting to get this recipe out of him as he has no recipe; it is all in his head. Even as I am writing about this, my mouth is watering and try as hard as I have, I am unable to create the magic that he does with this recipe. Nevertheless, I can bet that you will love this recipe if you make it.


Whole chicken cut into bite sized pieces

Ginger garlic paste, 2 tsp

1 bell pepper cut into strips

Curry leaves

Green chillies split, 8

Salt and pepper

Masala powder-

11 cloves dry roasted

8 cardamom pods, dry roasted

2 inch cinnamon, dry roasted

1tsp coriander powder


Green chilli sauce, 8 tsps

Soy sauce, 4 tsp

Vinegar, 1 tsp

Ajino moto – 1 tsp (optional)

Red color mixed in a little water (optional)

Microwave the coriander powder for 1 minute. Grind the dry spices and mix with the coriander powder and set aside.

Mix in the chilli sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, red color and aji no moto and set aside.

Wash and clean chicken, add the ginger garlic paste, turmeric and salt and set aside for at least 20 minutes. In a pan add 2 tsp of oil, and add the chicken. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until all the water evaporates. Add the ground masala powder along with salt and fry for 5 minutes.

In a separate pan, heat oil and fry the bell peppers, curry leaves and green chillies and add to the chicken along with the oil. Mix in well. Now, add the sauces and mix well. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes more. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.