Friday, February 29, 2008

Babycorn, Cherry Tomatoes & Sprouts Salad with Feta Cheese

This is a beautiful salad - winter fresh veggies and lightly steamed sprouts drizzled with a light salad dressing bursting with the tanginess of lime; its piquant flavour balanced with crumbly salty feta cheese and crunchy lettuce.

Delightfully light and yet so satisfying that you can make it your meal - my friend almost did and I had to steer him gently to the rest of the dishes on the table!

One forkful says it all - no stories needed.

This salad made so flavourful with a simple lime juice dressing goes to Jihva for Ingredients - Lime/Lemon being hosted at The Spice Cafe this month; the event itself is the brainchild of Indira of Mahanandi and while I have been following it for a long time now, this is the first time I am contributing.

Babycorn, Cherry Tomatoes & Sprouts Salad with Feta Cheese

Babycorn - 6-8
Cherry tomatoes - 100gms
Mixed bean sprouts - 100 gms
Coriander leaves - handful
Iceberg Lettuce - 3-4 leaves
Spring onions - 3-4 (not the greens)
Feta cheese - 4-5 tablespoons - crumbled or diced into small pieces

Juice of one small lime
Red wine vinegar - 1 tablespoon
Olive oil - 2 tablespoon
Freshly crushed black pepper

1. Wash the babycorn and cut lengthwise into halves. Rinse the sprouts.
2. Boil salted water in a large vessel and add the babycorn and sprouts to it. Turn off the gas after a minute and keep covered for another 3 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, wash and halve the cherry tomatoes. Slice the spring onions thinly.Wash the coriander leaves and lettuce thoroughly, drain water and keep aside. Crumble or dice the feta cheese.
4. Combine dressing ingredients, mixing them together briskly.
5. Drain the babycorn and sprouts;keep aside till cool.
6. Take a salad bowl and put in the babycorn, tomatoes, sprouts and onions, tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces and add it along with the whole coriander leaves - then toss in the feta cheese.
7. Pour in the salad dressing a little at a time and gently toss till well combined.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Chickpeas,Raw Mango and Apricot Tagine with Couscous

I first saw a Tagine - the clay vessel as well as the eponymous dish cooked in it - on a cuisine show on TV. I was quite fascinated at the way everything was cooked together, including the meat, gently simmering till all the tender ingredients came together in a rich flavourful stew. I loved the different looking vessel called the tagine, a deep clay vessel with a conical lid which collected the condensation while cooking and it went right back into the dish.

The episode was filmed in Turkey, and this dish was being prepared in a traditional Middle Eastern household; when it was done, a boy went out to the local bakery where they had already given a loaf of bread to bake, and returned with warm freshly baked bread.
The family then sat down to a simple meal of tagine with the rustic bread. Seemed delicious.

I haven't found a tagine as yet...but I did discover along the way, that the dish could be cooked as usual or even in a slow cooker (crock pot). There are also vegetarian versions and the main thing is that most of the ingredients should cook together on a low flame for that distinctive rich stew.

Couscous is another dish seen in many Middle Eastern recipes. I have come across many articles about couscous - the correct way to cook couscous so that it remains fluffy, the fact that it is actually a kind of pasta, the different kinds of couscous. So, when I came across a packet of couscous I immediately picked it up.

Couscous goes well with, I looked up some tagine recipes. Many of them were with meat, and others with pumpkin and mixed vegetables. I didn't want to add pumpkin because it usually sweetens the dish - and my home lurvves spicy food!

After looking through many recipes, I came across this one on the BBC website. Which I adapted. A lot.
Tagine is definitely going to become one of my favourites because it adapts itself so well to whatever ingredient catches your fancy!

I decided to leave the squashes and pumpkins aside and go ahead with bell peppers, carrots, fresh red chillies, apricots, zucchini and raw mango. Chickpeas goes into most tagine recipes as are onions and garlic.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans/chana) are legumes rich in dietary fiber, protein and folate and magnesium. They have been found to significantly lower levels of total and LDL ("bad") cholestrol. Their richness in folates and magnesium especially increase their efficacy in reducing risk factors involved in heart attacks. Combining chickpeas with garlic or turmeric gives added cardio protection. Combining it with a whole grain like brown rice or whole wheat pasta provides high quality protein comparable to that found in meat or dairy products, without the additional fat content of those foods. Besides lowering cholestrol and being a source of protein, its high fibre content stabilises blood sugar levels making this an ideal food for those who need to control their sugar levels.

Apricots are full of beta carotene and fiber, and this along with their high lycopene content makes them important heart healthy foods. Being rich in Vitamin A, they also protect one's eyes. Remember carrots? Add this one to that orange food list.

What came out of this mix was an incredibly rich stew with a whole gamut of flavours. It could even be served with brown rice instead of couscous, and for a one pot meal you could cook the brown rice in the tagine. I'm going to try that the next time.

The couscous was quite simple to make - I didn't have steamer to cook this in, but I used these tips, spread it on a large steel thali (plate), poured hot water over it and then covered with another thali for about 4-5 minutes. It came out perfectly done. Couscous looks deceptively light (maybe because it resembles our rava or semolina), but be warned that it is quite heavy and a little goes a long way. Couscous while being low in saturated fats and cholestrol is high in dietary fiber and carbs.Read more here.

I am sending this to the Heart of the Matter Event, a brainchild of Ilva and Joanna - this time the theme is Stews and Casseroles and it's being hosted by Michelle of The Accidental Scientist. Thanks for the date extension Michelle!

If you haven't heard of this lovely event, go over and find out more as it turns one next month. The trio of bloggers are making a superb attempt to raise our consciousness of heart healthy foods and a wholesome diet.

Chickpeas, Raw Mango and Apricot Tagine with Couscous


Cooked Chickpeas - 2 cups (from a can or soaked overnight and pressure cooked till tender and peeled)
Onions - 2 medium chopped
Garlic - 2 -3 cloves minced
Cinnamon - 1 stick
Tomatoes - 3 medium chopped
Zucchini - 1 cup chopped into big pieces
Carrots - 1 small chopped
Green Bell Pepper - 1 chopped
Fresh Red chilli - 1-2 small chopped
Dried apricots - 8 chopped

Chilli powder (cayenne) - 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 3 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Olive Oil - 1 tbsp

Chopped fresh coriander or mint - half a cup chopped

500 ml vegetable stock (I used the water in which I cooked the chickpeas, already flavoured with black cardamom (moti elaichi))


1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan, preferably one with a domed lid.Put in the cinnamon stick and then the chopped onions and saute till golden and soft - about 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for 2 minutes, next go the spice powders for about 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the apricots, saute 1 minute then pour about 4 tbsp of water into the pan, cover and cook on low for about 5-8 minutes till the apricot is soft, adding a tbsp or two of water if needed.

3. Toss in bell peppers, red chilli,carrots and tomatoes and cook on high for 3-4 minutes; then lower flame, cook covered for about 15 minutes till the tomatoes are pulpy adding a little of the stock if necessary.

4. Add the salt, chickpeas and zucchini to the pan, pour in 300ml of the vegetable stock or chickpea stock and 100 ml water and continue cooking covered for about 25 - 30 minutes on a low flame.

5. The vegetables should be well cooked but still holding their shape and the stew should have thickened a bit. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve over couscous.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My Arusuvai "surprise" ingredient is here!

The Arusuvai Friendship Chain has been going across India for sometime now, the brain child of the Yum blog, Bhags and Bharathy . It's funny that this chain was inspired by the Amish Bread Friendship starter which was going across the US - and then the Arusuvai chain has in in turn inspired another Arusuvai journey across the US!

Latha of Yum Blog says the Arusuvai Frienship Chain is "about sending along a surprise ingredient as a gift to your friends for them to prepare something tasty with it, share the recipe, and pass on other surprise ingredients to more people. Arusuvai means six tastes (aru=six, suvai=taste) in Tamizh and is used to refer to a Tasty preparation with six tastes - inippu/ thithippu (sweet), orappu/ karam (hot), kassappu (bitter) , pulippu (sour), uppu(salt), tuvarpu (tastes that one gets in raw leaves)."

I must also mention here the efforts of Srivalli from Cooking 4 All Seasons who got in touch with me and patiently waited for me to come back from my trip and mail her so that she could start looking for the next link in the chain to get in touch with me - thanks so much Srivalli!

But coincidences abound and it was from Deeba from Passionate About Baking that I got my "surprise" package. And what a beautiful package it was!!

A bottle of orange extract (which very coincidentally I was looking for just the previous week) was the "surprise" ingredient; I'm going to have a fun time deciding what to do with it!

And there was also a tiny notepad and pencil attached to a board in my favourite colour Purple :), accompanied by a lovely handwritten note.Thanks a lot Deeba! Can't wait to get crackin' on this.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Spaghetti in Meat sauce (Ragu) with Fresh Red Peppers

This recipe is adapted from the recipe I use for Tagliatelle alla Bolognese; most of us are familiar with "Spaghetti Bolognese". But Bolognese may well be a misnomer at times, and you might not find it on many menus in Italy - the country of it's origin.

And in Bologna itself, the province from which this dish gets it's name, meat sauce is "never served over spaghetti" and "the meat used is ground beef.Period."
Thus speaks that grand lady of Italian cooking - Marcella Hazan. She of the quick scorn for Americanized versions of "Italian cooking" and probably the one who taught many non Italians the traditional way of cooking Italian cuisine, through her very popular book "The Classic Italian Cookbook" and more recently "The Essentials of ClassicItalian Cooking"

The base of this dish is meat sauce - spaghetti or any other pasta can be used with the meat sauce which is called ragu.
Ragu refers to any meat sauce which is cooked long and slowly, simmering till the meat is tender and the sauce is imbued with the flavours of the meat cooked in it - making the sauce rich and satisfying.

The Italian word ragu originates from the French word "ragout" which means "stew". And even more interesting, "ragout" in turn comes from the French verb "ragouter" -"to stimulate the appetite".

So, a meat sauce cooked in the Bolognese style would be one with just enough tomato to give it a slightly sweet flavour, not the meatbits-drowned-in-tomato-sauce-version, which is what one sometime gets.

It is also characterised by milk being added to the meat to reduce the acidic content of tomatoes which come later, and definitely by being simmered for "a long long time"

I have been following a recipe for sometime now, it is in my book of handwritten recipes and dates back to the era when I didn't think it necessary to jot down where I got it from. But pretty much produced some really nice Bolognese ragu over the years. Except for the beef. *ahem*
I have even used chicken mince instead of lamb at times.

So, this time since it was just for the two of us (felt bad calling the delivery guy for a small quantity for this mutton dish,so ordered a quarter kilo of mince as well ...*sigh*), I decided to try something different.

I put in cooked Kidney beans (rajma) which I then cooked again with the mince.

Fresh red chillies and peppers in the sauce boosted the flavour. I did add some chilli powder and a touch of cumin since the kidney beans,while giving the sauce great body, tends to temper down the taste.

Together the fresh chillies, peppers and the rajma made a lot of difference to this sauce and it was very interesting.

I am posting the original recipe which I normally use and the changes I made are in brackets.

Tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce

Pasta - 300 gm tagliatelle (I used spaghetti)

Ragu or meat sauce:

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter

Onions 2 medium - finely chopped
Celery - 1 cup finely diced (didn't have any on hand so omitted it)
Carrots - 1 cup diced (I used half a cup of carrots and added 1 big fresh red chilly sliced and I small red pepper deseeded and diced)
Mutton mince - 200 gm
Milk - 1 cup
Marjoram - 1 tbsp dried (I used dried thyme)
1 bay leaf
pinch of grated nutmeg
Tomatoes - 250gm,blanched,skinned and chopped finely (I used six medium tomatoes and omitted the puree)
Tomato puree - 2 tbsp
White wine - 1 cup (this could be omitted)

Freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
1 cup kidney beans soaked overnight and then cooked till tender (they shouldn't be overcooked) and 1 clove of minced garlic were other additions to this recipe.

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy bottomed pan, and chopped onions and fry till it changes colour.
2. Add celery and carrots (and the garlic,chopped chilli and peppers) and fry for another 2 minutes.
3. Stir in the mince,some salt and pepper and continue cooking till the meat loses its raw colour, stirring constantly till the mince is free of lumps. (add the cooked kidney beans at this stage)
4. Mix in the milk and let it simmer till the liquid evaporates, stirring frequently. Add the wine next and simmer again till it also evaporates.
5. Add the bay leaf, nutmeg, herbs, chopped tomatoes, puree,salt and simmer gently for about an hour and a half till the meat is tender, the fat separates from the sauce and the mixture has no water but is a thick sauce. ( I have tried pressure cooking the mince and then simmering it in the sauce and that just doesn't give the same taste as cooking the mince in the sauce.)
In the initial stages, you might have to keep adding water a bit at a time to prevent it from sticking, that's ok.
6. Adjust the salt, add freshly crushed pepper and mix well.

15 minutes before serving, bring water to boil for pasta with a tsp of olive oil and cook the pasta in it till tender. Drain and toss in a tsp of olive oil and season with salt and freshly crushed pepper.

Plate the pasta into 3-4 portions and ladle the ragu over the pasta. Serve warm.

This dish joins Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth every week over at Once upon a Feast....this event is fast approaching it's first birthday!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

French Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache

On a recent trip I came across vanilla beans - an ingredient I have been looking for ever since I started visiting Vanilla Garlic, where amazingly creative Garrett waxes eloquent about vanilla bean varieties, vanilla sugar and what not......

So, when I saw that test tube shaped bottle with three long curling-black-as-gnarled-wood vanilla beans, I grabbed it up. Isn't it an oxymoron that the bean itself is this dark blackish brown and the colour one associates it with is white....vanilla icecream, vanilla white, plain as vanilla.....
I came back and it lay on my spice rack, where I could see it while cooking. I would open the bottle and take a deep breath and place it back. It's time had not cooking depends a lot on what I feel like, I rarely cook something "just because".

And so Valentine's Day drew nearer and though I did feel like making something this year, I somehow couldn't bring myself to think of chocolates or strawberry or pink and red stuff. So I kept looking at recipes and putting it off.

Today I caught sight of my vanilla in-a-test tube and knew that this is what I wanted to make - something with this rich aroma which makes the world seem like a nicer warmer place. I vaguely remembered a recipe on Vanilla Garlic and when I checked - there it was - perfect for my mood and for the day - French Vanilla Cupcakes.

So I set about making this as a cake. I followed the recipe exactly since I wasn't sure whether the custardy consistency he referred to would make it differ in anyway. The only thing I changed is the quantity of sugar - I used 1 1/2 cups instead of 2 and it was quite sweet.

The Circle of Life

The cake was oh-so-soft! but still had a nice brown crumb. It tasted of vanilla and a dozen childhood memories......and is perfect for my Valentine's Day this year.

I had decided to make a chocolate ganache to go with this since I'm not too fond of meringues. But when it came to making the ganache, I realised I am still the girl who likes to draw and hates painting in the sketch......I didn't feel like frosting the whole cake!
I just wanted more of the creamy vanilla flavour, so I just frosted the 3 cup cakes and part of the main cake.

Three valentines for the three of us

This goes to the Serendipity Bake Off hosted by familiabencomo with help from the soapchix at Serendipity Soaps and to Pooja at My Creative Ideas for her Valentine event.

And one of the pics goes to Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi for their event Click - this month's theme is FLOUR.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Broccoli Soup

The weather just isn't letting up here and we have been having unseasonally cold weather. "Its February!", I want to scream,"Time to put back the sweaters and move around with a light stole, and oh yes! no socks on my feet the WHOLE time!!".

Instead we are stuck with single digit minimum temperatures and its slated to get worse! My daughter, down with a bad cold, was struggling to breathe through her blocked nose....mealtimes quickly turned into a nightmare.

So, what do I do? Plan a week full of soups, runny khichdis and lentil stews.

One of the soups I made was a broccoli soup with potatoes and carrots in it to give it a bit of body and more flavour. I usually add spinach to this soup which makes it a darker green, but didn't have any on hand.
Having been in hot and humid Chennai for such a long time, my soups tend to be as light as possible and so I don't really add cheese - but colder temperatures may warrant some calories, so go ahead if you feel like.

Broccoli is a vegetable related to the cauliflower (it looks like a green version of cauliflower anyway) and a member of the cabbage family. But what I found out was that the stem of the broccoli is much more fibrous than cauliflower, and remains crunchy when cooked.

In Italian , it is known as "Broccollo" which means "Cabbage sprout" and shares the sulphur smell of cabbage and cauliflower, which is released if overcooked.
So, to prevent nutrition loss as well as the smell, it is always better to steam this vegetable for salads and stir fries, so that it is just tender and not mushy.

It is packed with vitamins like A,K,C and riboflavins as well as fiber, calcium and potassium. Besides a huge list of health benefits which include protection against cancer and cardiac disease, it also has anti oxidant properties which help the skin.

While researching foods that would help my digestive system's limited capacity, I also found out that this vegetable supports stomach health by eliminating bacteria responsible for gastritis and ulcers.

Broccoli is no longer as difficult to get in India nor as expensive, and it is a good idea to make it part of your diet, even if just once a month.

This soup is going to "No Croutons Required" which has just been started by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen and Holler of Tinned Tomatoes. The event is a new monthly soup and salad challenge and this month's theme is Vegetarian Soups and is being hosted by Lisa.

Broccoli Soup


Broccoli - 7-8 florets
Carrot - 4 tbsp grated
Potato - 1 small grated
Onions - 1 chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves chopped
Bay leaf - 1
Butter or vegetable oil - 1/2 tbsp
Vegetable stock - 350 - 400 ml
salt to taste
freshly crushed black pepper
Cream - 1 tbsp per portion (optional)


1. Heat the butter or oil in a heavy pan and drop in the bay leaf. Add the onions and saute till translucent, put in the chopped garlic cloves and fry one minute.
2. Add the grated carrot and potato and fry for 2 minutes. Put in the broccoli pieces, saute one minute, then the salt and the stock. Bring to boil and then cover and simmer for about 20- 30 minutes till the vegetables are cooked and soft. Alternatively, you can pressure cook the vegetables at this stage.
3. Strain the water and let cool. Remove the bay leaf, blend the vegetables to a smooth paste and add as much of the strained soup liquid as needed to give it a thick creamy consistency.
5. Pour it back into the pan, adjust the salt and heat through. A dash of cream and a sprinkle of freshly crushed black pepper and it's ready!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Kadala Curry (Black chickpea in coconut curry)

Puttu and kadala curry - traditional Kerala breakfast at it's best. A very satisfying and nutritious combination of slightly bland puttu (rice flour and coconut, usually, filled into cylindrical moulds and steamed) and a spicy nutty gravy, I had it first at a dear friend's house and still remember the amazing taste. His mother who is one wonderfully brave woman, gave me the recipe.

I'm still a bit partial, though, to puttu with sugar and ghee which is what Mom used to make when I was growing up.....and no, haven't yet acquired a taste for plantain mashed into puttu which is another way of eating it!

I felt like having the kadala curry today for lunch, and had no intention of making the puttu which (for me) involves a lot of work. So I cooked the chickpeas but just as I started on the masala bit, we lost power.

Luckily I already had some coconut grated with cumin and green chillies in the fridge, left over from another dish. So I decided to use that and then change the recipe to accomodate the other ingredients without the usual roasting and grinding.

The onions which are usually roasted and ground went in grated. The tomatoes followed suit, though I could have just chopped it finely. The cloves and garlic went in whole at the beginning and the red chillies and coriander seeds were replaced by powders. I added ginger garlic paste instead of grinding them.

I fried all the ingredients a little more than if they would have been roasted including the coconut paste. The gravy needed some more tang I thought, so I added a spoon of tamarind extract just to give it that extra something. Perfect.

I wasn't very sure about how thw changed recipe would taste, but the thought of thinking up another dish was enough to put me off - and of course, I just HAD to have kadala curry!

Well, it did taste like kadala curry - different since the spices and coconut weren't roasted, but delicious in it's own way.

This is the recipe I usually use.

Kadala Curry (Black chickpeas in coconut curry)


Black chickpeas (kadala/kala channa) - 3/4th of a cup, soaked overnight and then pressure cooked for 20 minutes till soft.

Mustard - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - handful

Onions - 1 sliced

Masala paste:
Onion - 1 small
Tomatoes - 2 medium chopped
Ginger - 1" piece
Garlic - 2 cloves
Cumin - 1 tsp
Black peppercorn
Red chillies - 4
Dhania - 1 tbsp
Coconut - 1/2 cup grated
Clove - 2
Cinnamon - 1 " piece

1. Roast the ingredients of the masala pastes (except the onion and tomatoes) on a low heat till they change colour and are well roasted. Add the coconut last and when it turns brown, then add the onions first and lastly the tomatoes. Cool and grind to a smooth paste.

2. Heat oil in a heavy pan, add the mustard seeds and when they splutter, the curry leaves. Then fry the sliced onions till they are translucent.Put in the masala paste, fry for 1 minute, add the cooked chickpeas and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, add salt and let simmer for about 10 minutes till it becomes a thick curry.

3. Serve hot with puttu, appam or rice.

This dish is going to My Legume Love Affair - an event being hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. As she so rightly points out....

"Legumes are consumed and revered in every culture that has the arable land to cultivate them on. Chock full of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, they are one of the natural wonders of the plant kingdom and a staple where meat, fish or dairy are scarce. They are also the banner diet of many a staunch vegetarian and vegan, offering myriad options in flavor, shape, color and texture, fending off the notion that alternative lifestyles need be boring."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Weekend Breakfast Blogging - Adai Avial

I spent a week at my parent's place last month and enjoyed some real good home cookin'. One of the breakfasts was adai and I realised that somewhere along the way I had tweaked Mom's recipe so much that it didn't resemble the original too much!

Now, reinvention isn't a bad thing, but it was great to taste the original which was much more crisp and spicy and tasted soo much better - the slathering of white butter (see pic) and chunks of jaggery helped of course, items we don't see much of, at our place.
To be fair, my parents stay away ffrom these too due to health reasons, but I think they see our visits as a legitimate excuse to sneak these banned items into the house!

Anyway, once I was back, I decided to go back to Mom's original recipe one Sunday; and since we didn't have anything much planned that day, decided to make Avial to go along with it - one of hubby's favourite combinations.

Avial is a mixed vegetable stew which is common to both Tamil Nadu and Kerala, though if you ask me, it originated in Kerala and then seeped into Tamil Nadu via Palakkad....

The Kerala version is much drier than the Tamil version and I have also seen versions where the curd is added just before serving it, so that it doesn't sour the dish.

I tend to make this dish according to the menu involved - if it's part of a main meal, then I cook it drier and with the veggies chopped bigger. If it's more of a gravy accompaniment (like with adai) then I make it with more liquid and also with the veggies a bit smaller.

The vegetables itself are a matter of debate.....I remember both MIL and my mother insisting that one shouldn't use "English vegetables" and stick to "naatu" (local or desi) vegetables as far as possible.
So, for me that means no cauliflower and peas. Bhindi or okra as well as bittergourd are definitely a no-no due to their texture and taste. Some people also avoid colocasia (arvi) but I like a few pieces. I usually like to add drumstick, raw bananas, elephant yam,carrots (I know , I know English veggie - but I like the colour it adds to the dish!) and ash gourd (pushnikai).

But go with what you like....after all its the combination of different veggies with the coconut and yoghurt which gives its delicious taste.

Adai in itself is a protein packed dish with a healthy combination of rice and lentils. This when combined with the mixed vegetables in a coconut and yoghurt curry makes it a complete meal and gives a great start to the day.
(The traditional blob of home made butter is best kept for children who will burn it off!)

I am sending this combo to Weekend Breakfast Blogging which is the brainchild of Nandita of Saffron Trail. It's being hosted this month by Suganya of Tasty Palettes and the theme this month is Healthy Eats. "Meals that are balanced and include various different food groups like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, etc are welcome", she says.



Raw rice - 1 1/2 cups (you can also use parboiled rice)
Combine equal quantities of urad dal,chana dal and tur dal to make one cup
(chana dal = bengal gram lentil,tur dal or arhar dal = split pigeonpea lentil, urad dal = split white lentil)

Red chillies - 4-5
Black peppercorns - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds (jeera) - 1 tsp

Grated coconut - 1/4 cup
Curry leaves - 10-12
Onions - 2 medium finely chopped

Hing - pinch

1. Soak the rice and dals in water overnight or for 4-5 hours.
2. Drain the water and grind along with the red chillies, peppercorns and cumin to a coarse paste, without adding too much water.The batter will be thick with pieces of dal not fully ground. This gives crisper adais.
3. To the batter add grated coconut, curry leaves, hing and salt. Add the chopped onions to the batter just before making the adais.
4. Heat a non stick griddle or a dosa tava and pour one ladle of the batter; spread gently into a medium circle which will be a bit thick. Make a small hole in the centre so that it cooks evenly.
5. Drizzle half a tsp of oil all around the adai and cook on a medium high flame for about 3-4 minutes, once it becomes golden brown on the bottom flip it over and cook the other side for another 2-3. minutes.
6. Serve hot with avial or jaggery on the side.



2 cups of chopped vegetables (thick fingers) from the following - elephant yam, sticky potato or potato, carrot, raw banana, ash gourd (pushnikai), drumsticks.

Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Green chillies -4
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp

Grind the above into a paste and mix with half a cup of thick yoghurt which has been beaten with a spoon.

Curry leaves - 5-6
Coconut oil - 1 btsp


1. Pressure cook the vegetables with about half a cup of water and a little salt, for just one whistle (5 minutes) so that it is cooked but not mushy.
2. Add the coconut yohurt paste and curry leaves to the cooked vegetables and gently heat the mixture and simmer for about 5 minutes till the chillies lose their rawness. Adjust the salt and turn the flame off.
3. Drizzle the coconut oil over the stew and serve hot with adais.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Upside down Strawberry Yoghurt Cake

I bought some strawberries hoping that my daughter would like to try a new fruit (I dont remember ever buying strawberries in Chennai when she was younger, considering they cost the earth and then some) - she took a small bite and then very firmly told me "No berry amma!" shaking her pint sized head from side to side for added emphasis.

So that was that, as any mother of a 2.5 year old will tell you - and I was left holding a box of strawberries.
Both hubby and I are not strawberry lovers and we no longer live near a certain friend of ours who just loves strawberries in any form - even in her drinks!!! :)

Coincidentally,a few days later while searching for something else, I came across this recipe on Happy Burp which Vaishali made sound so simple, I just had to try it!

So I did, though instead of using strawberry yoghurt, I used plain yoghurt and added the fresh strawberries I had .
I reserved some to put on the base of the ring mould as a sort of an upside down cake and it made it look very pretty when it was done.
It seemed to remind me of those jam tart biscuits we used to get when we were young (pre Jurassic era!) - does anyone remember them? I haven't seen them at all since.

The proportions I used were exactly the same as the original recipe except that I didn't use a yoghurt pot but instead used one of my steel katoris (cups) which holds about 150ml of curd.

So 3 cups of flour (2 cups wheat flour and 1 cup refined flour) :2 cups of sugar:1 cup of yoghurt: 1/2 cup veg oil: 1 egg - as in the original recipe.

To this I added - 1 cup of chopped fresh strawberries and 1.5 tsp of baking powder and 4-5 tbsp of milk, since the batter seemed a bit too thick.

I reserved about 2 tbsp of the chopped strawberries and laid them out on the base of the greased cake tin and poured the batter over it.

Baked in a pre heated oven set at 180C/350F for about 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes in the oven and then remove to a wire rack and let it cool completely.

The cake was moist and really soft. Since I had divided the cake batter into two portions, the second time around I left it in the oven for another 10 minutes after it was turned off, so that it was a bit more browned.

There was a faint aftertaste though and I'm not sure where that came from - accomplished bakers any ideas?.....but I would definitely make this again...

Thanks Vaishali - this recipe is a keeper!

This recipe is going to Bindiya's event "Few of my Favourite things" which she hosts on her blog In Love with Food and the month's theme is cakes and muffins