Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kerala Kadala Curry

Kerala kadala curry is black chickpeas cooked in authentic Kerala style. Its no surprise that Malayalees love coconuts. We come from the land of coconuts! That is why we like some curries with the taste of coconut mixed with pepper and coriander powder. Hence this way of cooking chickpeas involves a coconut milk based gravy, spiced up with pepper and coriander powder.
I made this for a breakfast get-together with our friends here with Vellayappams. The North Indians among them liked it as well!

Here goes -


Pressure cooking chickpeas:
2 cups kadala (black chickpeas)
2 Tsp Turmeric powder
2 Tsp Red chilly powder
Coconut Milk - 1/2 cup
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
5 green chillies, chopped
1 Tsp ginger paste
1 Tsp garlic paste
1 Tsp Turmeric powder
1 Tsp Red chilly powder
1 Tbsp coriander powder
2 Tsp ground pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 Tsp cinnamon
some curry leaves
3 Tbsp oil
Coconut paste:
3/4 cup scraped coconut
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves
2 cardomom pods
1 Tsp ground pepper
1 Tsp coriander powder

  • Soak kadala (black chickpeas) overnight in some salted water
  • Pressure cook kadala with enough water and spices under 'Pressure cooking chickpeas', till about 7 whistles. Set aside.
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and roast cloves, cardomom and chopped onion mentioned under 'Coconut paste'
  • After color of onions changes, add coconut. Once coconut is roasted to a light brown, add spices mentioned here, roast for some more minutes and set aside to cool.
  • In same saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and spurt mustard seeds. Add chopped onions. When it starts to change colour, add ginger-garlic paste and chopped green chillies
  • When the above is cooked, add chopped tomatoes. Then add the spices mentioned under 'gravy'
  • When tomatoes are tender, add the cooked chickpeas along with the water. Let this come to boil on low heat
  • Mean while, grind the roasted coconut mixture to a fine paste adding very minimum water
  • Add this paste and the coconut milk to the kadala gravy and let this boil for about 2 minutes
  • Season with curry leaves
Kerala kadala curry is ready! This delicious and spicy gravy is best had with appams, puttu or noolappam. Yummy!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Very Quick and Easy Chole Recipe

This is my quickest chole recipe yet. I use just one vessel which is my pressure cooker for the whole cooking process. And it all comes together in around 30 minutes! It is slightly like the Punjabi way of making chole or rajma, where all the indgredients are put into the pressure cooker with the ghee and just simply cooked for some number of whistles. I make a slight variation as in frying the veggies slightly in the pressure cooker itself and then adding the soaked chana and pressure cooking everything together (If you are not comfortable about using just your pressure cooker for the tadka part, you could do it in a sauce pan, taking care not to fry as much as we usually do. Then simply add the half-done tadka along with the chana in pressure cooker before cooking. 
I find this way of making very easy, quick and double as flavor-full because of cooking everything together in a closed way (pressure cooking). I urge you to try this quick method!

Total Cooking Time: 30 minutes (does not include time for soaking chana)


2 cups of white chana/white chickpeas
1 large onion (or 2 medium)
1 large tomato (or 2 medium)
1 Tbsp of ginger paste
1 Tbsp of garlic paste
4 or 5 green chillies
1 Tsp cumin seeds2 Tbsp of oil
1 Tbsp of curd
Some coriander leaves for seasoning
Ground spices:
1 Tsp of turmeric powder
1 Tsp of Red chilly powder
2 Tsp of Garam masala
1 Tsp of coriander powder  
Salt to taste 

  • Soak the chana in some salted warm water for at least 6 hours
  • Finely chop onions, tomatoes and green chillies
  • In your pressure cooker itself, add the oil and saute cumin seeds. Then add the onions and once they caramelize slightly (not much, since we are going to pressure cook everything with the Chana anyway), add the ginger-garlic paste and green chillies
  • Once the raw smell is gone from the above, add the tomatoes and all the ground spices and saute till the tomatoes are slightly tender
  • Add the soaked chana (straining out the water used for soaking first), then add sufficient water so that it comes to about 2 inches above the level of the chana. 
  • Add 1 Tsp of ghee. Stir this in well. Close the cooker with weight. Pressure cook on medium high till about 6 - 7 whistles
  • After opening, add about 1 Tbsp of curd and the coriander leaves, stir and let boil for about 2 minutes
 The chole are now ready to serve! Serve this hot with some rotis, pooris or even rice and sabzi. Its superbly homely and a real comfort food!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Banana Crumb Muffins for Breakfast!

Muffins, muffins and more muffins! This is my latest mantra. I just love muffins and quick breads. They just make your breakfast meal that much more special. Muffins especially. Fluffy and moist, these go perfectly well with your morning coffee or milk. They just make you feel so good all morning! Here is my banana muffin recipe.

This recipe cistomized from


2 cups of All Purpose flour
1 cup of packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp salt
6 Tbsp sour cream
2 Tsp vanilla extract
4 medium/3 large ripe bananas mashed

Crumb topping (optional):
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp AP flour
1/8 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp cold butter (I used a butter substitute)

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F (176 C) and line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper liner/or grease each cup.
  •  Whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, and the salt and set that aside
  • Secondly, to the mashed bananas just add the 1 cup of brown sugar, vegetable oil and the egg and whisk until well combined
  • Add the vanilla and sour cream and give the wet batter a good whisk till well combined
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold the dry stuff into batter. TRY NOT TO OVER_MIX the batter. Just use a flat spoon/spatula/ladle and simply ensure there are no obvious dry flour. The batter should be a bit lumpy and thick.
  • Fill each cup of muffin tray with the batter until 3/4th way full.
  • Crumb topping (optional) - Mix the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon (mentioned under crumb topping). Now add the cold butter and mix into this (either with hands or fork) until a coarse texture is obtained. Sprinkle evenly on the batter in each muffin cup.
  • Bake this for about 25 mintues. Toothpick inserted must come out clean  
Note - I was able to make about 16 muffins with these measurements.So if you have a 12-cup muffin tray, while the 12 muffins are baking, you could set aside the remaining batter, covered. Just bake them after these 12 are done. Trust me they will turn out fine as well!
An awesome way to start your day. A muffin and a glass of fruit shake. Wow!
Give my blueberry muffins a peek as well!!


Spicy Shrimp Biriyani, Our Sunday lunch!

I learnt the art of making basic biriyani from my good friend here, Veena. She is my Guru and a brilliant Biriyani maker! I made my first chicken biriyani here in the USA and gave her Gurudakshina, which was a plate-full of that same biriyani!
Building on that basic knowledge I gained from here, I tried the Prawns/Shrimp Biryani. Since both I and my husband are prawn lovers, I just had to try this one out. Try, I did. And now this is a regular one on a lot of weekends. So here's my take on the authentic prawns biriyani. It is a simple recipe.

Serves 4
Cooking Time: About 2 hours

1/2 pound (a little more than quarter kg) of medium sized prawns (tail-off, peeled, deveined and washed)
2 1/2 cups of Basmati Rice 
2 medium onions
2 medium tomatoes
1 Tbsp gingerpaste (either home-made or store-bought)
1 Tbsp garlic paste (either home-made or store-bought)
5 medium sized green chillies
1 Tbsp of raisins
1 Tbsp of cashewnuts 
2 Tbsp of oil
2 Tsp ghee

Main biriyani masala:
1 Tsp Turmeric Powder
1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 Tbsp Garam Masala
1 Tsp Cinnamon
Salt to taste
For Marinade:
1 Tbsp gingerpaste (either home-made or store-bought)
1 Tbsp garlic paste (either home-made or store-bought)
1 Tsp Turmeric Powder
1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder
3 Tbsp of Curd
Salt to taste

Extra spices:
7 - 10 cloves
1 Tsp whole cardomom seeds
Some Bay leaves
Some Cilantro leaves for seasoning

  • Wash and soak rice in water for about 30 minutes
  • Mix ingredients mentioned under 'Marinade'. Cover the prawns with this. Let sit for about 20 - 30 minutes.
  • Cut one half of an onion into long thin slices. Cut the rest of onions, tomatoes and green chillies into fine pieces
  • Grind the cardomom seeds and cloves together to form a fine powder
  • Cook rice with two times its measure of water, some salt, half of the fine powder prepared in previous step and bay leaves until 90% done. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, heat about 2 tbsps of oil in a saucepan, and caramelize the long slices of onions until a deep brown. Set aside. In same oil, roast the raisins and cashewnuts. Set aside
  • In the same oil, caramelize the finely cut onions (add more oil if required). Add green chillies, ginger and garlic paste and fry till raw smell goes
  • Add the tomatoes and all spices listed under 'main biriyani masala'. Mix well and let cook till mushy.
  • Now, add the marinated prawns along with marinade to this, cover and cook for about 5 - 8 minutes, taking care not to overcook the prawns
  • Time for final 'dum' cooking - In a large baking pan (akin to a 9 X 13), add 2 teaspoons of ghee. Spread it around. Add a layer of prawns masala, then a layer of the rice, some of the fried onions, raisins and cashew, layer of prawns masala and finally the last layer of rice and remaining onions, cashew and raisins. Top with cilantro leaves
  • Seal tightly with oven-safe aluminium foil. Bake at 350 F (176 C) for about 30 minutes
  • Ready to serve

This biriyani tastes awesome with some vegetable raitha and dates chutney. Perfect for a Sunday lunch!  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Peach and Pineapple Cobbler

Well, in school, the only cobbler I knew was the guy who fixed our broken sandals. But here in the USA, this is also the word for a very delicious dessert, made with a layer of syrupy fruits with a cakey topping. Talk about poles apart!!

I have an earlier blog for a similar dessert - apple crisp. But the difference is that, a 'crisp' as I understand is almost always made with an oats topping, giving it a crunchy crust. Whereas a cobbler has a more cakey topping, made basically using all purpose flour and milk. Since I am so big into fruits, I have decided this dessert is going into my frequent recipes book (a purely hypothetical book that I have never written and never intend to!!)

Here, I have tried the authentic peach cobbler, as is usually made by Americans, but I also added pineapples! And the result was truly delicious, complete with the gooey-ness and good-ness of both the fruits! 

Here goes -

Fruit Filling

2 1/2 cups of cut and diced pineapple
2 1/2 cups of cut and diced peaches
1/4 Tsp cinnamon
2 Tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar

Crust part

1/2 cup of butter
1 1/2 cup of AP flour
2 1/2 Tsp baking powder
3/4 Tsp salt
1 cup of white sugar
1 1/2 cup of milk

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Melt the butter in a 13 X 9 pan and set aside to cool.
  • Add all the ingredients listed under 'Fruit Filling' in a saucepan and stir well. Heat the fruit mixture on medium flame till juices come out and start boiling. Set aside
  • In a separate large bowl, mix the ingredients listed under 'Crust Part' except butter (the butter must remain in the baking dish after melting). First mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Then mix in the butter and milk. Stir the batter well, but do not over-whisk/mix
  • Finally, pour the wet batter into the baking dish containing melted butter. DO NOT STIR (the butter will move to the side which is how it should be). Plop chunks of the fruit mixture over the wet batter, spreading all around. Again, do not mix.
  • Bake for about 45 - 50 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
  • Let it cool down a bit. But serve when warm. With vanilla ice-cream! Or leave the ice-cream out. Its good any which way!
Do give this one a try. It is very very easy but very very tasty!  


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cauliflower and Pasta casserole with Tomato sauce and Cheese

Pasta it is!! I was shopping at Walmart one day when I came across this jar of blended tomatoes. It was tomato pasta sauce. Of course I wanted to try it! Geez! And of course it does make perfect sense to also buy pasta :) And so I did. 
I had seen a recipe in LauraInTheKitchen describing cauliflower with pasta. So that gave me the idea for this recipe, which is basically the same but I actually baked the whole thing together along with cauliflower. So here is the recipe, if you need a relatively quick dinner and just want to get the ingredients together and let the oven do its thing!!

1 cauliflower head, cut onto florets
2 cups pasta (any kind will work)
2 large eggs
1 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup of tomato pasta sauce(any kind of canned tomato sauce will work)
Garlic powder
Fresh parsley (optional)
About 2 tbsp of bread crumbs and Cheddar Cheese (shredded or chunks) for topping

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F (176 C)
  • Spray a casserole dish (about 13 X 9) with cooking spray (or grease with oil/butter)
  • Whisk the eggs with melted butter. Mix in the flour and make a batter
  • Mix the batter into the cauliflower florets. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder and toss the mixture. Set aside
  • Boil the pasta in some salted boiling water for about 10 minutes
  • Drain the water and season pasta with pepper
  • Final step is arranging the casserole - First spread the cauliflower mixture as bottom layer. Add the boiled pasta next and spread it out. Next layer is the pasta sauce
  • Finally garnish with some cheese, chopped parsley and bread crumbs
  • Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour till top is light brown, cauliflowers are tender and cheese is melted
  • Attack with a fork!
This is super easy to bring together on your dinner table.  Trust me the one hour wait is totally worth it. Because in the end you have a beautiful, healthy casserole on your table. Go a step ahead and add a layer of sauted spinach as well! Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Easy and Tasty Breakfast with Cornmeal and Rava Idlis

Well, I guess Idlis are a favorite with a lot of Indian folks. Soft and much healthier than dosas, these just need you to have them steam cooking in your cooker while you do something else. No standing at the furnace like for dosas. But what if we forgot to soak Urad dal or rice and really needed these soft creations for breakfast?
Well, here is a super quick fix for that, using cornmeal and rava. (If cornmeal is not available, just replace that as well with rava)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes 

Yep! This will be ready in less than half an hour!!
Recipe customized from


1 cup Cornmeal
1 cup Rava (Semolina)
1 cup Curd
some grated carrots
some chopped coriander leaves, curry leaves and green chillies
Cumin seeds
Mustard seeds
Chana dal
1 Tbsp oil 
1/2 Tsp Baking soda

  • In a saucepan, fry the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and chana dal
  • Now add the cornmeal and rava and saute till lightly browned. This will give a nutty flavor. Add the salt at this point and mix.
  • Switch off the heat and add the coriander, curry leaves, chillies and carrots
  • Now add the curd and enough water to male a thick batter
  • Let sit for about 15 minutes
  • Add about half teaspoon of baking soda and mix well
  • Now its ready to be made into idlis. We can use any method we are comfortable with. Either stovetop in a pressure cooker or in microwave
I served this hot with coconut chutney once and the next time with sambar. In my opinion, these idlis are even good enough to snack for tea. Very easy and very healthy!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Blueberry Muffins Recipe

Ok, so I had been wanting to add this one to my recipe list for a long time now. This is the easiest and the most fun recipe I have tried so far and the result was soooo gooood!!! While I was making them, my husband's response to my little chit-chats from the kitchen were restricted to just uh-huh's and hmmmm's. But, the moment I took these little rockstars out of the oven and lined them on a rack to cool, I could hear somebody jump from the couch and rush into the kitchen and utter just one word.. "wow"! Yay! Score for me!

But, seriously I'm not kidding. I was surprised at how easy this was to put together. Apart from the blueberries, the other ingredients are most probably in most every gal's fridge. Please try these out. They are so fluffy, moist and tender. They are just so cuuuute! 

Recipe customized from (this lady is super funny and has a lot of easy recipes, perfect for the goofy and lazy cooks like me!)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 18 - 22 minutes
Makes - 12 - 15 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 Tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Crumb Topping (optional):

2 tablespoons oats
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • Line a 12 mould muffin pan with paper liners (or grease with butter)
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C approx.)
  • In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt
  • Take about 2 tbsps of flour from the above mentioned mixture and cover the blueberries
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients with sugar, starting with oil and sugar, followed by the eggs, vanilla and milk
  • Now add the dry ingredients to the wet and gently fold. Its ok if we have a lumpy batter, we just want to ensure all are combined. Do not stir, otherwise the muffins will be dense instead of light and fluffy
  • Second last step, gently fold in the blueberries and divide the batter between the twelve muffin moulds
  • Crumb topping (optional)- mix together all ingredients mentioned under crumb topping till we get a lumpy mixture
  • Just add little blobs of the crumb topping over each of the muffin batter in the mould
  • Bake for about 18 to 22 minutes. A tooth-pick inserted must come out clean. (I took mine out at 19 minutes and they were perfectly moist and fluffy)

Let cool for about 15-20 minutes before removing. Serve warm. For longer storage, it is best to refrigerate them. Whenever we need one, we need to just microwave it before popping into our mouth! A superb breakfast addition!

Aloo Palak Recipe

Of late I have become a spinach buff. Healthy, fibrous, these are one of those veggies which are tasty and nutritious at the same time. I mean, it cannot get better than that. So much so that, whenever I go to IHOP (my favorite restaurant here), I end up ordering the spinach and tomato omlette!

We Indians have quite a lot of recipes with spinach and aloo palak curry is a very famous one. I had made this around a week back. The pictures taken in the process were just resting in the camera long forgotten in the midst of my recent week long visit to my sister's in LA. Now that I'm back and slowly back to blogging, this recipe becomes the first to see the light of day in the Internet. Here goes,


Spinach - 2 bunches (about 500 gms), washed and blend to paste
Potatoes - 2 medium, cut into cubes
Onion - 1 large or 2 medium, finely chopped
Ginger garlic paste (either home-made or store-bought) - 2 tbsps
Green chillies - 3 long, finely chopped
coriander leaves to season
Oil - 2 Tbsp
Ghee - 2 Tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
turmeric powder - 1 Tsp
Red chilly powder - 1 Tsp
Garam masala - 3 Tsps
coriander powder - 2 Tsps
Ground cinnamon - 1 Tsp

  • Blend the spinach leaves into a coarse paste
  • Fry potatoes in 1 tbsp oil and set aside (preferably on a tissue paper to remove excess oil)
  • In same saucepan, fry the cumin seeds and onions till caramelized
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and green chillies, fry till raw smell goes
  • Add all the dry spices and saute for about a minute
  • Add in the blend spinach paste. Cover with lid and cook for around 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat, till the raw smell of spinach vanishes and you get the smell of the spices. Add some ghee to the curry at this point. This gives a rich taste and smell.
  • Finally add the dried potato cubes and season with coriander leaves
This curry is super nutritious, easy and best had with phulkas or chapathys.