Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ela Ada

I know I'm way late once again in making a post. I'm leaving for India this weekend and when is a better time to shop than now. Have shopped till I dropped :).
Busy with all the packing and the excitement is driving me crazy. Will be visiting my sister, in Dubai, for 2 weeks and then, off I fly to India where family, weddings and good weather wait for me. Glad to leave winter behind. Looking forward to mom's food and loads of fun.

I'll be gone for a good 3 months, but, I think, I will pop-in here, once in a while to make new posts.

Before I bid adieu , I thought I'll post one more recipe. Mouth-watering Ela ada. It's a very popular snack from Kerala. Can be served for breakfast too.

I had searched the whole of Saint Louis for banana leaves and finally found some frozen banana leaves at an asian food market. I was so excited because I have been longing to make ela adas.

For those of you who can't find banana leaves, you can substitute it with parchment paper.

Ingredients: (Makes 5 adas)
  • Rice flour - 1-1/2 cups
  • Hot water - 1-1/2 cups
  • Salt - to taste
  • Banana leaves or parchment paper.
Ingredients for for filling:
  • Grated coconut - 1-1/2 cups
  • Jaggery - 1/2 cup ( or according to taste)
  • Cardamom powder - 1/4 tspn

Clean banana leaves with a wet cloth. Then place them over low heat for about 10-20 secs to season the leaf. Set aside( If using parchment paper avoid this step)

Directions for making the rice dough:
  • In a pan slightly roast rice flour.
  • Then add hot water with salt and stir well.
  • Take off heat. Cover and set aside to cool a while.
  • When slightly cool, knead it to make a soft dough. Cover and let it rest.
Directions for the filling:
  • In a skillet, over medium heat, melt the jaggery with a tablespoon of water.
  • Strain this melted jaggery and get rid of the dirt left at the bottom.
  • Return the strained jaggery to the pan and add the grated coconut. Cook for 5- 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the mixture starts to thicken, remove from heat and cool till it reaches room temperature.
Directions to make Ela Ada:
  • Cut the banana leaves or parchment paper into small, 20 cm squares.
  • Divide the rice dough into 5 equal parts
  • Spread one ball of rice dough evenly on the banana leaves/parchment paper; use your hands to spread the rice dough as thin as possible leaving a 1 cm margin on all sides. ( See pic)

  • Place filling on one side of the spread dough. (see pic)
Fold the leaf/parchment paper in the middle and press the sides to seal the ada well.
  • Take an idly steamer and add water to it and place on medium heat.

  • Place the leaves / parchment paper flat on the idly mould trays and steam in the idly steamer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Once the adas are steamed and cooked, peel of the leaf/parchemnt paper and serve with some hot tea or coffee. Ela ada can be served hot or at room temperature

Luv 'n' luc'

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rich Fruit 'n' Nut Cake or Plum Cake

Happy Halloween! Boo!

A very dear friend, Sheeja had her birthday last Saturday, the 24th of October. I made this cake for her. I got this recipe from a fellow blogger's pages - Annita, author of My treasure, my pleasure .

The cake is rich and one of the best cakes I have ever made. Filled with the richness of dried fruits and nuts.
Needless to say, she loved it and that's what made all the pains making it, worthwhile.

For the recipe click here

Have fun!

Luv 'n' luc'

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2-in-1 Recipe - Carrot Halwa / Carrot Kheer

Diwali wishes everyone. And prayers for a prosperous, healthy and happy year ahead.

My hubby has been pestering me, for days, to make carrot halwa. Finally, with a little time on my hands yesterday, I prepared it for him. He was mighty pleased.

Whenever I make carrot halwa, I save the left over and beat it into a glass of milk with some saffron strands and make carrot kheer out of it. I would recommend serving this kheer chilled.
So, basically, this is a 2-in-1 recipe.


(Serves 4)

  • Carrots - 5 (grated)
  • Milk - 2 cups
  • Evaporated milk - 1 cup( substitute with plain whole milk)
  • Sweetened condensed milk - 5 tbspns
  • Sugar - 1/3 cup or to taste
  • Cardamom powder - 1/4 tspn
  • Cashews and raisins - 4 tbspns each
  • Ghee- 1 tbspn.

  • Fry cashews and raisins in the ghee and set aside.
  • Take a sauce pan and add milk and set on medium-low heat.
  • Add the carrots and stir and let cook for about 15 mins.
  • Then add evaporated milk and condensed milk and cook on high heat for 10 mins , stirring continuously. ( Cook for longer if the milk has not been completely absorbed into the carrots)
  • Add sugar and reduce heat to low.
  • When the mixture reaches a halwa consistency. Turn off heat and add cardamom, cashews and raisins.
  • Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Luv 'n' luc'

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cabbage Thoran

Have been so busy of late. Have not found time for anything, leave alone blogging. Had quite a few guests over the past week, that I've had time for nothing else since. (sigh!) Now, I resent going to the kitchen.

Here is a very simple recipe for thoran. Thoran is a dish from Kerala. A very simple, steamed and seasoned cabbage side dish .

Ingredients: ( serves 4-5 )
  • Shredded cabbage - 4 cups
  • Mustard - 1 tspn
  • Green chilli - 2 ( slit)
  • Chopped onions - 1/4 cup
  • Urad dal - 2 tspns
  • Curry leaves - 4-5
  • Oil - 2 tspns
  • Salt - to taste
  • Turmeric powder - 1/8 tspn
  • Grated coconut - 1/4 cup

  • Heat Oil in a pan and add mustard. Once they splutter, add green chillies and urad dal. Saute ( abt. 2 mins)
  • Add onions and curry leaves. Saute.
  • Reduce heat to low. Add cabbage, salt, turmeric and 1/8 cup of water. Cover and let it steam for about 8-10 mins. Stir occasionally.
  • Finally, add the grated coconut. Stir and cook for about 2-3 more mins.
  • Thoran is ready.
Luv 'n' luc'

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Salad with honey balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Autumn has set in and the thought of winter makes me sigh. I love the snow. But it's the dark, cold, gloomy days that I dread. But, there's nothing we can do about it. Time can't stand still. Right?

Then a bulb glows in my head.
Aha! There's one thing that I "CAN" do. Enjoy the days before winter sets in. I had to make use of the wonderful fruits and veggies I saw at the stores. With the last of cherries, apricots and spring mix salad leaves on the market, I made this salad a couple of weeks ago.

Oh ya! It, sure, was soul gratifying. The bright colors in the salad were enough to lift my spirit. The sweetness from the fruits and the slight bitterness from the radicchio, subtle bite of the salad leaves and the tangyness of the vinaigrette ......altogether, it was a party in my mouth.

I have listed ingredients for 2 kinds of salad mixes. the first one has the fruits mentioned above. For those of you who have run out of luck finding these ingredients can try the second option of the salad mix. I'm not mentioning any measure for the salad leaves and fruits. Use as much or as little as you like.

Salad Mix No.1:
  • Baby romaine
  • Tango
  • Radicchio
  • Baby spinach
  • Apricots
  • Cherries
  • Plums
  • Steamed french beans
  • Salad Mix no.2
  • Lettuce
  • Baby spinach
  • Valencia oranges
  • Apple
  • Grapes
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Pecans
For the honey balsamic vinaigrette
  • Honey - 3 tspns
  • Lemon juice - 4 tspns
  • Aged balsamic vinegar - 5 tspns
  • Olive oil - 2 tspns
  • Salt and pepper-to taste
  • Blend all the ingredients for the vinaigrette together with a blender or beat well with a whisk.
  • Pour over the salad mix and toss. Serve immediately.
Luv 'n' luc'

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I flew to Omaha last week to visit one of my very good friend's from school. Another friend flew down from Philly too. The 3 of us met after 9-10 yrs. Had such a wonderful time. Was not really in a mood to get back to blogging :(

Today, I'm posting my mom's recipe for kurma. I love it and whenever I make it, I feel it does not taste as good as her's. Then I realized that her kurma tastes better because she adds a special ingredient to it.............she pours her love into it :)

This kurma pairs well with rotis or Parattas. but, I like it best with dosas or idlis.

  • Oil - 2 tbspns
  • Slit green chillies -2
  • Bayleaf -1
  • Cinnamon stick - 1 inch piece
  • Cloves- 3
  • Cardamom - 1
  • Star anise - 1/2
  • Chopped onions- 1 cup
  • Curry leaves - 1 stalk
  • Chopped ginger - 1 tspn
  • Coriander powder - 6 tspns
  • Turmeric powder - 1/8 tspn
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tspn ( or to taste)
  • Potatoes - 2 (cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • Carrots - 1 (chopped)
  • Beans - 7-8 (cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • Peas - 1/4 cup
  • Salt - to taste
  • Coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Saunf - 1 tspn
  • Poppy seeds(kas kas) - 1 tspn
  • Garlic - 1 clove.
  • Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup
  • Yogurt - 6 tbspns
Method :
  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add the chillies, bayleaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and anise. Saute about 2 mins.
    Add onions and ginger. Saute till the onions are translucent.
  • Add coriander powder, chillie powder and turmeric. Saute. Add 1/4 cup water and saute on medium-low heat till the masala is well cooked. (about 5-6 mins)
  • Add the vegetables and salt and 1-1/2 cups of water and pressure cook for 2 whistles.
  • In the mean time grind the coconut,poppy seeds, saunf and garlic to a fine paste using little water.
  • Once the vegetables are cooked add this ground coconut mixture to it and cook for 3-4 mins.
  • Finally, add curry leaves and yogurt and stir for a minute. Switch off heat and add coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot .
Luv 'n' luc'

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Achamma's sambar - the ultimate homemade sambar

I would like to thank all my readers for wishing me well when I was ill. I've recovered now. Thank you so much.
Most of you may think that it's a good day for me today. But, no. It's quite the opposite. A very sad day for me. Why? Read on.

I love my grandma. She was a small statured, plump woman and the cutest, sweetest and the most warm-hearted little person I have ever known. I loved her cooking. She was a great cook and I don't know how she really did it. It was like as if she had some magic potion which she used in all her dishes to create those wonderful, aromatic and delightful dishes. Anything she cooked tasted like heaven.

She never had recipe books nor did she ever have to measure ingredients. Everything was in her little silver-haired head and the magic at her finger-tips.

Today, sadly, is her first death anniversary and the following recipe,I, fondly, share in memory of the sweetest and most lovable grandma in the world.

This sambar recipe is a bombshell and it comes from her and She didn't forget to hand it down. So, today my mom still makes it for all at home and when we (my siblings and me) got engaged to be married, my mom handed it down to us. It's always been compliments galore for me, when I make this sambar.

I wish my gramma were here today.I miss her ever-so-much.
"Achamma this post is in memory of you. Sure, you are looking down on me now."

I have made this sambar using Okra( Ladies finger). Some alternatives for okra are drumsticks, white pumpkin( winter melon), brinjal( aubergine) or shallots. My favorite is shallot sambar but could not find any this time.

Ingredients: (serves 3-4)

  • Toor dal - 1/2 cup
  • Tomato - 2 (cut into quaters)
  • Ladies finger (cut into 1 inch long pieces)
  • Tamarind - size of a bing cherry
  • Turmeric powder - 1/8 tspn
  • Asafoetida( Hing) - 2 pinches
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1 tspn
  • Grated coconut - 1/3 cup
  • Curry leaves - 7-8 large leaves ( plus more for tempering)
  • Chopped onions - 1/4 cup
  • Coriander powder- 4 tbspns
  • Chilli powder - 1 tspn( or to taste)
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tspn
  • Dried red chillies- 2
  • Salt - to taste
  • Oil - 2 tbspns
  • Wash the dal. Pressure cook it with tomatoes and 1-1/2 cups of water. ( 2 whistles will be sufficient)
  • In the mean time, take 1/2 tbspn of oil in a pan and saute the okra till the slime disappears. Set aside (If using drumsticks or the other alternatives, avoid this step)
  • Add 1/2 cup of water to the tamarind and extract tamarind juice from it and discard the pulp. Set aside.
  • In another pan, add another 1/2 tbspn of oil and add Hing.
  • Then add fenugreek seeds. When it turns light brown and splutters, add coconut, curry leaves and onions and fry.When the coconut turns a golden brown and a wonderful aroma arises, add coriander powder and chilli powder. Toast well. Stir constantly. ( abt 5-6 mins on medium-low flame) . Then grind this to a fine paste and set aside.
  • When the dal is cooked, add the vegetable to the dal and cook along with salt, turmeric powder, tamarind extract and the ground coconut mixture. cook for about 5-6 mins.
  • If the sambar is too thick, add as much water as required to make a consistency that satisfies you.
  • Finally, temper mustard, curry leaves and red chillies in 1 tbspn of oil and add it to the sambar.
  • Serve with rice, idly, dosa or methu vadas.
Luv 'n' luc'

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not again.........

Hi all,

Just a small note to inform you all that I'm down with a horrible cold, throat infection and fever again. Just the weather taking its toll. See you soon.

Luv 'n' luc'

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fruit and Nut Oatmeal cookies.

When I receive an invitation from friends to enjoy a nice home cooked dinner or lunch at their home, I have the habit of carrying some goodies for them. It is not about giving them something in return for their invitation, but just a token of my appreciation. I usually like to pack something homemade, as opposed to store-bought, because I think it is worthwhile putting in a little time and effort for your friends, especially, when they slog away, making a good meal for you. But, I have to admit that I do have times when I have had, absolutely, no time on my hands and retreated to giving store bought stuff. (Guilty )

There was this one time when a friend invited me for dinner and I decided on baking these cookies for her. She is new to baking and so I had packed these cookies for along with the recipe as well. Such an easy recipe that I knew she will not have any trouble, what so ever, baking these anytime. I was sure she would love the cookies and the recipe. Sure as I was, she remarked that these cookies will never go out of style in her home and has showered me with praises.

How I came about this recipe .....when I was in India for a holiday, my sister, Preetha- who is a passionate foodie, made some of these delicious oatmeal cookies for us. She is a fantastic cook and there, you have the answer to where this recipe comes from . So, it is "SHE" actually deserves all those praises.

I love baking and especially when the results are so good, who wouldn't?

Ingredients:( makes about 45 cookies)

Butter - 1/2 pound(2 sticks/225 gms)
Light brown sugar (firmly packed) - 1 cup
Granulated sugar - 1/2 cup
Eggs - 2
Pure vanilla extract - 1 tspn
All purpose flour( maida) - 1-1/2 cups
Baking soda - 1 tspn
Salt - 1/2 tspn(optional)
Uncooked oats - 3 cups (quick or old fashioned oats)
Raisins and chopped walnuts - 1-1/2 cups


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F( 177 C)
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and sift twice.Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat butter and sugar till creamy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add vanilla and beat.
  • Add the sift flour mixture and mix well.
  • Stir in oats, raisins and nut. Mix well with a wooden spoon.(mixture will be thick and sticky)
  • Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls( or easier with a small ice cream scoop) onto an ungreased cookie sheet .
  • Don't press the dough down or try to shape them, as they will shape themselves while they bake.
  • [ NOTE : make sure to drop the dough 2 inches apart from one another as they will spread out while baking. If each scoop of dough is dropped too close to one another, you will get one super sized oatmeal bar and not separate cookies.]
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes.
  • Cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer the cookies gentlt to a wire rack to cool off completely.
  • Store in airtight containers.

Luv 'n' luc'

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Paruppu pradhaman/ Paruppu payasam

I just recovered from an ankle injury and fever. That's my reasonable excuse for not being able to post any news recipes or check out your posts. I'm sure all of you understand and I don't have to apologize. It's good to be back :)
Onam is coming up, on September 2nd this year, which is on wednesday. For those of you who want to know the significance of Onam, click here. Onam too, like Vishu, is celebrated with pomp and splendour in Kerala. Onam is the time of harvest and prosperity. Onam sadhya is similar to what we have for Vishu . I have mentioned about Vishu in one of my previous posts. To read about it, click here .
So here is a very traditional recipe of a very rich payasam called paruppu pradhaman. This is a thunderbolt recipe. Will definitely create an everlasting impression. Extremely scrumptious. The wonderful warm taste of jaggery and the bite from the dal is what makes for it's unbeatable flavor. The creaminess that the coconut milk renders to the payasam ................Unbelievable.
Actually, words cannot do justice to the taste of this payasam. You have to try it to believe me.

Usually, my mother adds ghee-roasted coconut pieces as well, to garnish the pradhaman. I forgot to set aside some coconut for garnish, so, I have not used any.

  • Ingredients: (Serves 3-4)

    Moong dal - 1/2 cup
    Water- 1-1/2 cups + 1 cup
    Coconut milk - 400 ml
    Jaggery - 9 small peices ( Abt 3/4 cup)
    Cardamom powder - 1/4 tspn
    Ghee - 1 tbspn
    Cashews and raisins - 3 tspns each.
  • Dry roast the moong dal in a pan, on medium heat, till a nice aroma arises and the yellow dal turns golden color. (Takes about 6-8 mins)
  • Take a pressure cooker and add the dal and 1-1/2 cups of water. Cook for 2 whistles.( or till just done. The dal should not be mushy)
  • In another pan, melt the jaggery with 1 cup of water and strain the jaggery to remove the dust at the bottom.
  • Add the cooked dal to this melted jaggery and let it simmer on low heat for about 20 mins.
  • Add the coconut milk to the above mixture, cook on medium heat for 10-15 more minutes. Stir constantly. ( Add more water to the payasam if it is too thick)
  • Add cardamom powder.
  • Heat ghee and roast the cashews and raisins separately add to payasam.( If u have small, sliced coconut pieces, you can fry that and add it too)
  • Serve warm or at room temperature. ( I like it at room temperature)
Luv 'n' luc'

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Honey wheat bread

I have always been intimidated when it comes to baking breads. This is my first try and I'm pleased with myself. Gave myself a pat on my back and sat down to share the recipe. It tasted great and loved the idea of home baked :)

I browsed, quite a while, for bread recipes and I came cross this recipe. It was pretty easy to follow. So, I boldly went ahead and decided to try it. I did alter the recipe a bit by adding more milk and water and using wheat gluten as well. I made one loaf and a bunch of buns. The result was some wonderful, warm, hearty bread.
And to think that something so simple intimidated me all this while................a shame :)

Ingredients: (Makes 1 loaf)

1-1/8 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
Milk - 1/4 cup + 2 tbspns
2 tablespoons oil ( I used olive oil)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 tspns of wheat gluten ( optional)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

  • Take 1/8 cup of water and add yeast and sugar to it.Let rest for 5 mins till creamy and bubbly.
  • Combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat gluten and salt.Mix well and set aside.
  • Combine milk, oil, honey and the remaining sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir.
  • Add flour and the yeast mixture. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 mins. Place dough in a greased bowl, and rub some oil all over the dough. Cover with a clean towel or a plastic wrap like I have done. Let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
  • Punch dough down; knead for a few minutes until smooth.
For a loaf:
  • Form the dough into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan and cover with lastic wrap.
  • Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. If loaf starts browning too soon, lightly lay a piece of foil on top of the loaf to prevent too much darkening.
For Buns:
  • Divide the dough into 9 equal parts and place them close to each other in a greased tray.( see pic)
  • Let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. If loaf starts browning too soon, lightly lay a piece of foil on top of the loaf to prevent too much darkening
When baked, remove bread from oven and allow to rest in pan for a few minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cover with a cloth. Slice and enjoy while still warm! Leftover bread can be stored in an airtight bag or frozen for a month.
Luv 'n' luc'

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Golden And Delicious Sarkkarai Pongal.

I was invited by a friend, Lakshmi, for a pooja at her home on Aadi Velli last friday. There were mango leaves tied at her door. As I stepped into her home, the fragrance of incense sticks was in the air. The ambience was calming.

After a little prayer and a while of chit chat, she handed me a cute, red, star-shaped bowl which contained beetel leaves, arecanut, fruits, flowers and a cup of prasad. The prasad was a golden, aromatic Sarkkarai Pongal.

As soon as I got back home, I restlessly opened the cup and scooped out a heaped spoonful of pongal and as it touched my taste buds.................. pure pleasure. It nearly put me in a daze.
I have never, ever tasted such wonderful Pongal, very sweet though.
I quickly pick up my cordless and call Lakshmi to ask her for her recipe and she, graciously, agrees to give it to me.
Personally for me, it was extremely sweet, but it was apt for serving as a prasad . Prasad at it's sweetest and tastiest best . It was like eating gold :)
You can see for yourselves the golden color and specks of cardamom in the pongal (pic. 1). And in pic 2 is a heaped spoonful of the pongal with cashews, raisins and saffron. All visible. I wish I could impart some of its aroma too via this blog :)
Trust me.......it tasted heavenly.

Below, is the recipe that Lakshmi gave me. Don't be apalled at the amount of jaggery and ghee used here. It is made like that, purposely, for serving Deity Devi.
This recipe makes for a very very sweet pongal. If you are not using it for a pooja and making it for a simple dessert, you can reduce the level of sweetness and ghee according to taste.

Thanks Lakshmi for the recipe.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)
  • 2 cups milk.
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups jaggery
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • A pinch of cardamom powder
  • Cashew and raisins
  • Few strands of saffron.


  • Boil rice in milk.
  • Once rice cooked, reduce heat and add jaggery till all the liquid eveporates.( the rice will be a little mushy at this point)
  • Stir well and regularly to avoid burning.
  • Fry cashew and raisins in a little ghee and add it to the rice mixture along with the rest of the ghee. At this point add saffron and cardamom powder as well. Serve warm or cold.

Luv 'n' luc'

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oven-dried tomatoes

As, I always say-
Homemade is always better than store-bought because when it's homemade, we can know and control the ingredients that go into our food.

I'm not saying that I always make everything homemade, but I try, as much as possible, to do it that way. But, I do have lazy days when I just don't want to enter my kitchen and anything from outside my kitchen sounds great :)

But, I'm not fond of buying sun-dried tomatoes from stores, because I've read that many use sulphur dioxide when drying tomatoes to retain their color. It's not only in dried tomatoes that this chemical is used. It's used even in dried fruits.
Hmmm! We don't want sulphur dioxide in our food right???
So, go homemade on this one. I use my dearest oven to dry my tomatoes.They taste equally good.
In spring and summer, when we get very good tomatoes, I always dry them and store them. To preserve them, you need to add a lot of Olive oil to jar. This is not a waste of olive oil. You can use this olive oil for making pizza's pastas or anything else you wish. The olive oil get's infused with tomato, garlic, oregano and Italian herbs and tastes all the more flavorful.

The flavors in these dry tomatoes are very intense. Great for topping pizzas and crostinis. Great to toss in with some pasta and great in some sandwiches. Go well with some salads too. With 10 tomatoes, I got just half this jar of dried tomato. So, if you want more, use more tomatoes.
  • Tomatoes- atleast 10
  • Garlic cloves (chopped finely) - 2
  • Oregano - 1 tspn
  • Sugar - 1 tspn
  • Salt - 1/2 tspn
  • Olive oil - 1 tbspn.( plus more for storing the tomatoes)
  • Italian grill seasoning- 1/2 tspn( optional)
  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 C)
  • Cut tomatoes into halves vertically and scoop out all the seeds and the mushy centre.( I don't discard this tomato liquid. I keep it and use it in some curry or soup)
  • Dry the inside of the tomatoes with paper towels and brush some olive oil on the interior.
  • Line a baking tray with some parchment paper and lay the tomatoes skin-side down on it.
  • Now sprinkle a pinch of salt and sugar on each.
  • Put a little garlic on each tomato( as seen in the pic)
  • Sprinkle oregano and Italian grill seasoning on the tomatoes and put the tray into the oven for 15 mins.
  • Then reduce the oven temperature to 220 degrees F (105 C) and let the tomatoes dry in it for 1-1/2 hours.
  • When the tomatoes are dry, let them cool.
  • To store dried tomatoes, put them in a clean, dry glass jar and fill it to the brim with olive oil. This helps preserve them.
  • This is not a waste of olive oil. You can use this olive oil for making pizza's pastas or anything else you wish. The olive oil get's infused with tomato, garlic, oregano and Italian herbs and tastes wonderful.
  • When using the dried tomatoes out of the jar, use a fork to remove the desired amount of tomatoes from the oil and close the lid of the jar immediately. Chop and serve the tomatoes as you please.
Luv 'n' luc'

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Coconut Chammandi and an Award.

Coconut chammandi is nothing but a very thick coconut chutney. I love this simple recipe and hope you do too. Chammandi is very popular is Kerala and is mostly served with Rice dosas. It is also had as a side-dish with rice.
Before I head to the recipe, I would like to share the great news that I have been nominated for an award by 2 fellow bloggers. The most lovable Ria and lovable Dolon, are the people behind this. Thankz a bundle Ria and Dolon. Much appreciated.

The Kreativ Blogger award comes with some rules:-

1. You must thank the person who has given you the award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who has nominated you for the award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on which of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated

So, here I go with the 7 things people find interesting about me:

1) I'm not a morning person. I hate waking up early. I don't nap at noon, but I sleep so soundly at night that even if someone carries me away at night I won't know it:)
2) I'm a chatterbox and I had an apt job as a Radio Jockey and program producer :)
3) I'm a hardcore romantic at heart and love romantic films and books which make my tummy tingle and my heart sing. Ask me my favorite read and movie. I'll, definitely, be lying if I say it's not "Gone with the wind".
4) I love the soft breeze running through my hair during a slow dusk walk.
5) I love to travel( well, who doesn't?). I Wish I could travel around the whole world and experience different cultures. My dream destination before I got married was Switzerland, and my wonderful hubby surprised me with a trip there on our first anniversary. I've done quite a lot of country hopping- Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Holland, France and UAE. Looking forward to many more. I don't have A dream destination anymore. Why? Because, now, it's become dream destinationS (plural). I want to visit Greece, Egypt, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China and Mauritius/ Maldives.
6)I'm crazy about perfumes, handbags, footwear and jewellery.
7) I'm a chocoholic and would kill for some good Biryani. I'm also a coconut addict.

My 7 nominees are:

Now, to the recipe:
  • Grated coconut- 1-1/2 cups
  • Peanuts- 2 tbspn
  • Chana dal- 2 tbspns
  • Urad dal - 2 tspns
  • Curry leaves - 12-15 leaves
  • Dry red chillies -3
  • Tamarind - gooseberry sized piece.
  • Shallots- 4-5
  • Salt - to taste
  • Hing - a pinch
  • Oil- 2 tspns
  • Heat 1 tspn of oil in a pan and add hing.
  • Then add the peanuts, chana dal and urad dal and saute till light brown. Transfer this to another bowl and set aside.
  • In the same pan, add the second tspn of oil and add red chillies, curry leaves, shallots and salt and saute till the onions are soft and the curry leaves let out a good fragrance( takes about 4-5 mins.
  • Let all the fried ingredients cool
  • In the mean time, put the tamarind in 1/4 cup of hot water and extract the juice. Save this tamarind juice.Remove the left over pulp and discard.
  • Grind all the ingredients to a very a coarse paste. Do not add extra water. (as you can see in the pic.)

Luv 'n' luc'

Friday, July 24, 2009

Oven-baked Tandoori Chicken

I'm going straight to the recipe today.

Ingredients:( serves 3-4)

  • Skinless chicken legs - 10
  • Tandoori chicken masala - 3 tspns ( click here for recipe)
  • Chilli powder - 1 tspn
  • Kashmiri chilli powder - 1 tspn
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tspn
  • Salt- to taste
  • Ginger-garlic paste - 3 tspns
  • Lemon juice - 2 tspns
  • Yoghurt - 2 tbspns(or greek yogurt- 1 tbspn)
  • Beetroot( beets) juice - 3 tbspns ( optional )
  • Oil - 2 tspns
  • Place 2 tbspns of yoghurt in a tea-strainer and let it stand for 20 mins. This helps the whey water to drip away from the curd and leaves you with a thick yoghurt. Throw the water away and use the strained curs in the marinade. For those of you who have greek yoghurt, you can omit this first step.
  • Mix all the ingredients together and marinate the chicken for about 2-3 hours or best overnight.( the beetroot juice is a natural source of color and is used to add more color to the chicken. I use it to avoid using artificial color )
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F( 177 C).
  • Then place a pan on medium heat. Roast the chicken in the dry pan for about 3 minutes.This is called searing. Turn the chicken over to the next side and roast for 3 mins.( we do this for the masala not to taste raw ).
  • Transfer the drumsticks to a baking tray lined with alumium foil .
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes in the centre rack of the oven.
  • Then turn the chicken legs over to the next side and bake again for 15 mins.
  • Remove chicken from oven and cover chicken with additional foil( this is done to avoid it from drying out)
  • Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees F( 260 C)
  • When the oven reaches 500 F, remove the covering foil of the chicken and bake it on the top most rack of the oven for 5-6 mins. (till the chicken gets a nice char on it) .
  • Serve with onions and lemon.
Luv 'n' luc'

Monday, July 20, 2009

Spiced Buttermilk/ Sambaaram

There is no better way to beat the heat than with some cool buttermilk. Why would anyone want coke and pepsi with all the artificial stuff in it when there is simething all natural which can reduce your body tempreature as well as good for you. I like my buttermilk spiced with just ginger,salt and some bruised curry leaves. My husband likes it with some chopped green chillies as well. Do it any way you like. Stay healthy and happy.


ButterMilk - 2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Salt - to taste
Curry leaves - scant 20-25 leaves (bruised with your hand)
Coursely mashed ginger - 1 inch piece
Chopped green chilli - 1 (optional)
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and let it rest for 30-45 mins in the refrigerator.
Serve cold.

Luv 'n' luc'

Friday, July 17, 2009

Luscious Cherries

This is my entry for the Click event conducted by Jai and Bee. Theme : Bi-colour.
It's a simple one. But, I loved it and just wanted to join the fun :)

Luv 'n' luc'

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries or Finger Chips

Hey everyone, Hope all of you had a great weekend. First of all, my apologies for not making new posts and not catching up on many of your blog posts. I was caught up in something of high priority which kept me busy for a while. So...... Really sorry. Anyways, I'm back now.

Poor hubby dear started to feel a tingle in his throat as the july 4th weekend started. We women have a sixth sense right? So, I suspected it would become something worse than a tingle and cancelled all plans for the weekend.The photography crazy person that he is, he was adament on going to view the fireworks and he took these awesome clicks on saturday.
And Sunday, as I suspected, he came down with a throat infection, cough and fever. He is on the road to recovery now and all is well.

As he recovered , last Saturday , went to the movies. Saw Ice Age- Dawn of the Dinosaur. And in 3D. I've always been a fanatic of animated pics and I absolutely adore the Ice Age series. I mean who wouldn't? It's so much fun and shooo shweeet. Remember Monsters Inc., Ants, Lion King, Toys, Robots ..........and I can go on and on. It was so good to see Manny-the Mammoth have a family. Diego never failed to charm and Sid never failed to make me laugh. If you have not seen it as yet......you are missing something really nice.

Today's recipe is a very simple one. Sweet potato finger fries.
This is an inspiration from the recipe by Ellie krieger from foodnetwork. I have added my own touch to it by adding olive oil and cutting the sweet potatoes into very thin fingers.


1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled (2 medium potatoes)
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste

  • Preheat the oven to 4oo degrees F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick fingers, and toss with the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake until the "fries" are tender and crisp, about 18 minutes.
  • Now reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F and bake for another 15-20 mins.You will get nice crisp chips.
  • Season with additional salt, to taste. Serve immediately.

Luv 'n' luc'

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Here we go, back to coconut.
Did you know that the early Spanish explorers called it coco, which means "monkey face" because the three indentations (eyes) on the hairy nut resembles the head and face of a monkey.Now, don't tell me that this post should have been titled differently :). Coconut is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and fiber and oh! .........fat and calories too.With that said, I am not going to harp on health benefits and disasters but I have to add that coconut has myriad medicinal properties as well. So, because I'm a coconut addict, I convince myself that the pros outweigh the cons and thus, anytime is coconaka time :)

This chicken curry goes well with rice or rotis.What's even better is, it takes hardly 20 minutes to fix.
INGREDIENTS(makes 3-4 servings)
  • Chicken -1-1/2 lbs(cut into peices)
  • Oil - 2 tbspns
  • Onions- 1 large (sliced)
  • Green chillies-2 nos.(slit)
  • Tomatoes - 2 nos.
  • Ginger- garlic paste - 1 tspn
  • Coconut milk - 1/2 cup
  • Chicken curry masala- 2 tbspns(available in Indian grocery stores)
  • Coriander powder - 3 tspns
  • Turmeic powder- 1/2 tspn
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tspn
  • Salt - to taste
  • Coriander leaves- to garnish
  • Heat oil in a pan and saute slit green chillies in it.(be cautious of splutters).
  • Add onions and saute till transparent.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and keep stirring it for about 4-5 mins.
  • Now, add turmeric powder, coriander powder, chilli powder, chicken-curry masala and salt and saute.
  • When the masala is well-fried, add chopped tomatoes and stir well.Add chicken and 5-6 tbspns of water . Cover and cook on low heat till chicken is done.
  • Add coconut milk and stir well. Cover and cook for another 2-3 mins.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with coriander leaves.
Luv 'n' luc'

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's all about Oikos- Organic Greek Yoghurt

Here is an opportunity for all of you to try this product Click here to get OIKOS COUPONS.

STONYFIELD FARM. I'm sure all of you have heard about this dairy brand. They make great yogurt. Organic, ofcourse. Stonyfield Farm now also makes Oikos Organic Greek yogurt which can be used in a variety of ways while cooking – in baking, as a substitute for sour cream, and mayonnaise, and to create tasty low-fat dishes. Greek yogurt is strained, making it thicker and more versatile in recipes than regular yogurt. Oikos is organic, which means it's made without artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners, and it's made from organic milk produced without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, or artificial growth hormones (rBST). Now, that, in itself, is a winner winner all the way.

So, 3 weeks ago, I received a very friendly mail from Kristina of STONYFIELD FARM. She came across my blog and sent me coupons for Oikos along with a complimentary reusable eco-friendly tote. She requested that I try out the Oikos product and and let all my readers know what I thought about it. So that's what I'm going to do. I was really thrilled when I received her mail, as this is my first ever offer of the kind. Thanks for the opportunity Kristina.

Over the weekend, I made a tea cake and came up with my own recipe for it. I used the fat-free Oikos Greek yogurt in the recipe. I cut down on the quantity of butter as well. Used only half of what is normally required for a cake.The result........I got a very very moist cake and I absolutely was pleased with myself and with Oikos Greek yogurt. I made a moist cake with half the amount of fat. I felt no guilt when I gobbled-up a piece.

Oikos has flavored yogurts too, like blueberry, vanilla and honey. I tried the Vanilla yogurt. The pure vanilla used in it really came through. These will be great for lassi.

Other than the cake recipe,I have other recipes, in my blog, in which you can substitute some ingredients with Oikos yogurt.

Like Palak Paneer (Click here for recipe). You can substitute the sour cream with Greek yogurt. And in the Hyderabadi Biryani (Click here for recipe) substitute the hung yogurt with Oikos.

To check out more recipes from the Oikos website click here .

THE VERDICT: I absolutely loved OIKOS and I'm sure I'll come up with many other ways to use this product. So, for me, Oikos will be a staple in my household. I love that it's zero fat and organic and can help me come up with more low fat recipes.

So, if any of you want are thinking twice about trying this product, just go right ahead. It's worth it. It's available in the diary section of most grocery stores.

Click here to get OIKOS COUPONS.


  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup Oikos Greek yogurt( substitute with sour cream)
  • 3/4 cup of apple sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla

Directions :

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 C)
  • Grease and flour 2 loaf pans
  • Sift the baking powder and flour together and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs, beating well after each addition.
  • Add the flour mixture and beat until everything is well incorporated.
  • Add the vanilla and mix well.
  • Now add the Oikos and apple sauce and mix.
  • Pour the mixture into the 2 greased and floured loaf pans.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Luv 'n' luc'

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hey Everyone..........

Hey everyone,
How have all of you been doing? I'm doing great and had a wonderful break. It's nice to be back. I missed you all.............I mean it.

About what I did when I was away....................visited Chicago, New york and Niagara. Had picnics and potlucks. Watched tons of movies. Was fun.

How about you all? What did you do the last 30 days other than blog? Lemme know. Really inquisitive. From Monday, I'll be back to regular blogging. I guess that answers Rush's query. Poor girl missed me, or should I say she missed my posts ;)

A sneak peek at what my post will contain on monday.........

STONYFIELD FARMS. I'm sure all of you have heard about this dairy brand. They make great yoghurt. Organic ofcourse. Stonyfield Farm now also makes Oikos Organic Greek yogurt which can be used in a variety of ways while cooking – in baking, as a substitute for sour cream, and mayonnaise, and to create tasty low-fat dishes. Greek yogurt is strained, making it thicker and more versatile in recipes than regular yogurt. Oikos is organic, which means it's made without artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners, and it's made from organic milk produced without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, or artificial growth hormones (rBST).

So,while I was on holiday, I received a very friendly mail from Kristina of STONYFIELD FARMS with coupons for Oikos. I will be trying out a recipe with Oikos Organic Greek yogurt and as requested by her, I will let you all know what I think about the product.

So, see you all on monday.

Luv 'n' luc'

Thursday, May 21, 2009

One more award before I go

I know, I know....... I said I'm on a break. But just wanted to thank Pooja for giving me this wonderful award . I appreciate it Pooja. It means a lot. The award says chirpy and cheerful blog. Now, it does make me feel happy that my blog passes on cheer to many. Thanks again.

All of you have fun and take care. See you in a month.

Luv 'n' luc'

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Roasted bell pepper soup and something special for the deserving.

Hey guys. Hope all of your are in the pinkest of health and happy about good weather too. I'm doing great. I'm taking a long break from blogging for a month. Quite a lot of travelling, parties and picnics on the way. I'm really excited.

Before I go, I would love to pass on a very special award to some very special food bloggers . This award was given to me by Muneeba. I would love to hand it over to some of my blogger buddies in whose pages I see more of a "raw passion" for food and cooking than mere blog posts. According to me, these few have a big time infatuation with food. Their zeal never fails to impress and I'm always surprised at the time and effort that goes into each post of theirs. Love their recipes too.
So here's to that gusto.
I really meant every word and you are truly deserving.

About today's post. It's roasted bell peppers soup.I know summer is not the time for soups. But summer is the time when you get good bell peppers in the market. So why not make good soup? Here is a wonderful recipe of a wonderful fresh soup.

Bye everyone. See ya after a month. Y'all have fun and so will I:)

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onions, chopped
  • 1 small carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 bell peppers (red,yellow and orange)
  • 1 small russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1 cm. cubes
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine(optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 (3/4-inch thick) baguette slices, cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/8 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. To roast bell pepper, cut each into four pieces and remove the seeds. Toss the peppers in 1 tbspn olive oil and put them onto a tray lined with aluminium foil. ( I place them skin side down)
Roast for 20 mins. When done, put the hot peppers into a plastic box and let them sweat for 5 mins. This makes it easier to remove the skin of the pepper. When the skins are removed, set them aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and oregano and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add wine and let the alcohol in it evaporate completely( takes about3-4 mins)
  • Add the broth, bell peppers, potato and sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat.
  • Add salt and pepper. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.Add milk and cheeses and simmer for another 2 mins.
  • Cool the soup slightly.
  • Puree the soup in a regular blender, taking care while blending warm liquids.
  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and saute until they are crisp and golden, about 8 minutes.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with croutons.
Luv 'n' luc'

Friday, May 15, 2009

Party time - Pineapple cream cake

ONCE UPON A TIME................I think that's the best way to start today's story because this is a picture of a cake I made 4-5 months ago and the following story too dates back to that time( or should I say that age ;). I pulled this out from my archives.

So, it's once upon a time:)

5 months ago.......................

I looked right. I looked left. Turned right.Turned left. Backed up. Curb parked, parallel parked and finally.......... got my driver's license. By the way, did I mention that it was my second attempt. (And no, I am not proud of that).

My first attempt was a disaster. I shivered with nervousness and everything that could possibly go wrong,went wrong. I switched-on the wiper instead of the beams, I didn't stop at the "stop" signs and I never checked my mirrors because I was petrified of taking my eyes off of the road. I even put the right indicator and turned left :) I was so nervous, but there's atleast one thing I can proudly say -I DID NOT pee in my pants that day : P

I was determined not to let that happen again (talking about the nervousness). So, after a few more weeks of practice, I attempted again with confidence. My second shot at it was far, far better and fruitful. I was so thrilled with my success that I drove my way home with music blasting from my car stereo. You should have been there to see that proud look of triumph on my face when I tucked my license into my purse. ( I looked like I had hit a jackpot)

Atlast, a free bird, not having to depend on my partner everytime I want to visit the mall or a friend.....I decided to rejoice and planned a party for two . The highlight of that day was........no, not my license card, but a fine pineapple cream cake. Tasted scrumptious and it's become a household favorite.
Me excited today :)
I got this award from Lena. Thank you so much Lena. I feel elated.

There are some rules to the award:
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs (Only if you like).
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blog

As usual, now comes the difficult part. Deciding which blogs to pass the award to.
I would like to pass on the award to:


  • Butter( at room temperature) - 2 stick( 225 gms)
  • Sugar - 1-1/2 cup
  • Eggs(large) - 4
  • Pineapple extract - 1 tspn
  • All purpose flour - 2 cup
  • Baking powder - 2 tspns
  • Salt - 1/4 tspn(optional)
  • Butter milk - 3/4 cup

For Frosting:

  • Heavy whipping cream ( chilled) - 1-1/2 cups
  • Powdered sugar - 3/4 cup
  • Corn starch - 1/4 tspn(optional)
  • Pineapple pieces - 1/2 cup
  • Pineapple extract - 1 drop


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F( 177 C)
  • Butter two 8" round cake pan or line it with parchment paper.Set aside.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
    Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
    Add vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Now add the flour mixture and mix Stir in the milk until batter is smooth. (Do not over beat the cake batter as it will result in a hard cake)
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven.
  • Do the toothpick test to see if the cake is done.(See note below)
    If the cake is not done, reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees F(135 C) and bake for 8-10 mins more.Repeat tooth pick test.
  • When the cake is done, let it rest in the cake pan for 10 mins.Then remove the cake from the cake pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
    And tada! You are a great baker.

Directions for frosting:

  • Whip the chilled heavy cream with an electric whipper and as it thickens add the powdered sugar and corn starch.
  • When the cream starts forming stiff peaks, drop spoonfulls on the cake and spread it out neatly.
  • To add additional details on top of the cake, like the curls, you need cake decorating cones and cone-tips.( available is all super markets). Fill a cone with the left over cream and pipe out the design of your choice on the cake and garnish with pineapple pieces.


The tooth pick test :Take a tooth pick or a bamboo skewer or a knife and poke it deep into the cake.If it comes out clean when removed, then the cake is ready.If it comes out with wet cake batter, it needs additional time to bake.

Luv 'n' luc'

Monday, May 11, 2009

A trip to Holland, Michigan and a box of windmill spiced cookies

We drove 7 hours to Michigan. All for the sake of seeing my favorite flower- the tulip.

I was really disappointed that the field had scanty patches of tulips. I hated their fields(As you can see in the first snap)Maybe it's because I've visited Netherlands and seen their vast vast fields of tulips in bloom. I didn't care much for these here.

I thought that our trip would go to the dumps. But, fortunately, for us, the Windmill Island pepped up our day. Windmill Island features a 240 year old working Dutch windmill "De Zwaan" (meaning graceful bird).

It is the only authentic Dutch windmill in the USA. It was brought in parts all the way from Netherlands and rebuilt here.

Next came Neli's Dutch village. A lot of dutch dancing and fun rides. Nothing worth mentioning.

The stunner was Lake Michigan Light house. It's called the "BIG RED" and it's one of the most photographed light houses in Michigan. It looked cute. The best part was sunset. Oh! It was so breath taking and romantic ;)

Finally, about the cookies part. I bought a cute box of some authentic Dutch cookies from the Windmill Island. They were imported cookies which were made in Netherlands. Boy, they were awesome!
They were spiced with ginger and cinnamon and had that wonderful taste of dark brown sugar. They had a very crispy crunch too.
On the whole, it was a pleasant weekend.

Luv 'n' luc'


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