February 28, 2012



This recipe if from my friend R who is great at cooking traditional South Indian food. The thing is I have not tasted her Karakuzhambu, but I asked her for this recipe since I knew that it would be good. Well, her other dishes are, so I made sure this was on my blog :)
I have this strong attraction for South Indian food these days, that all these traditional cooking is taking main stage in everyday food. I am so glad R shared the recipe with me, this is one of the best kuzhambu I have tasted. Somehow reminded me of the "Grand Sweets" Karakuzhambu that they have in Chennai. Only even better.
She asked me to add either manathakkali or sundakka vathal, but I added both since I had it. The "Grand Sweets" version has both too. This recipe calls for a lot of heat, so if it does not suit you, then you may adjust it according to your palate.




Small onion - 1 cup
Garlic cloves - about 12
Curry leaves - A sprig
Red chillies - 3
Mustard - 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds -1/2 tsp
Manathakkali vathal - 1 tbsp
Sundakka vathal - 1 tbsp
Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Chilly powder - 1 tbsp(more if you can take more heat)
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Sesame Oil - 3-4 tbsp
Tamarind extract taken from a lemon sized ball
Salt - To taste


In a pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds.
Once the mustard starts to splutter, add the red chillies and curry leaves. Add the sundakka and manathakkali vathal. After they get roasted, add the small onion and garlic cloves.
Then add salt, coriander powder and chilly powder.
When everything starts to get nicely sauteed, add the tamarind extract of about 4 cups taken from a lemon sized tamarind. You could alternatively used tamarind extract, but it may not give the same result.
Let the kuzhambu boil down and reduce a little in volume. It took me about 10-15 min on medium flame.
Add the asafoetida finally and boil for a minute more. Turn off heat.


Serve with hot steaming rice. It tasted even better the next day.


February 21, 2012

Avocado Bruschetta


A little different from the regular tomato bruschetta, this avocado variant is lemony, fresh and vibrant. All that we need here for the gloomy, wet weather we have been enduring for a really long time. I served it on whole wheat mutligrain bread drizzled with some EVOO and baked in the oven prior to adding the avocado. You could alternatively toast using a toaster. The stove top method did not get the bread toasty enough to hold the avocado topping.
So the next time you have some bread and avocado sitting in your counter, you know what to do!


Avocado Bruschetta


Avocado - 3 medium
Vinegar - 2 tbsp
Lemon Juice - 2 tbsp
Red Chilly flakes - 1/4 tsp
Salt - To taste
Garlic - 1 small pod finely chopped
Cilantro - 2 tbsp
Olive Oil - 2 tbsp

Whole wheat bread - About 4 slices


Take out the seed in the Avocado. Score the avocado flesh into little squares and scoop out leaving the skin.
In a mixing bowl, mix the lemon juice and vinegar. Slowly stream in about 2 tbsp of Olive oil mixing vigorously. It should form a nice emulsion. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Add the dressing to the avocado and toss to coat.

Serve on a slice of toasted bread. I put my oil drizzled slices in a preheated 425F oven for about 5 min.


February 15, 2012

Beetroot Biriyani/Pulao with Black Beans Raita


My mom always has had rave reviews about this particular kind of rice called "Seeraga Samba."
She tells me that this rice has a very aromatic quality to it just like basmati rice and is also very flavorful. It is extremely cute to look at, kind of like baby basmati.
If you are not able to find this at your store under the name of "Seeraga Samba" or "Kalijira", you could use the regular white basmati rice. It shouldn't make that big of a difference. The grated beets add a lovely pinkish red hue to the rice grains. I tried not to add any other vegetable just to keep the color intact.
It looks beautiful when it is done, like the tiny grains just blushed!

The raita was something I decided to make with the pulao when I started planning this meal. Keeping the beans crunchy is key to making this raita. Mushy beans and yogurt is not what I would recommend. Finish off with some cilantro for some fresh flavor.


Beetroot Biriyani/Pulao with Black Beans Raita

Beetroot Biriyani/Pulao:


Seeraga Samba rice - 2cups
Water - 3 cups
Clove - 3
Cinnamon stick - 2-3
Cardamom Pod - 3
Star Anise - 1
Beetroot - 2 cups (grated and packed)
Shallots/Onions - 1 cup chopped
Tomato - 1/2 cup chopped
Chilly powder - 2 tsp (or to taste)
Green chillies - 2 small slit
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp
Grind to a paste:
Garlic - 6-8 pods
Ginger - 2 tbsp roughly chopped
Shallots - 2 tbsp roughly chopped
Fennel seeds - 1/2 tbsp


Grind the ginger, garlic, shallots and fennel seeds to a paste and set aside. Do not add water.

In a large pan, add 2 tbsp oil, and add the washed and thoroughly drained rice. Sauté till the grains turn opaque. Turn off heat and cool. At this point I add the rice to the rice cooker and use the same pan for making the masala.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in the same pan, add the cloves, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom and green chillies.
Add the ground ginger-garlic paste and sauté well till the raw smell is gone.
Then add the chopped shallots, followed by the tomatoes. Once they are halfway cooked, add the grated beets and mix well. Allow to cook till the beets soften. Finish off with salt and chilly powder.

Now add this beets masala to the rice. Add 3 cups of water, and let the rice cooker do its thing. If you are using a pressure cooker, cook for about 20 minutes or two whistles. Do not overmix after it is done.



Black Beans Raita:



Dried Black Beans - 1 cup
Yogurt - 1 cup
Shallots - 1/2 cup
Cilantro/Coriander - 1/4 cup chopped
Salt - to taste


Soak the black beans overnight in some water. Pressure cook the beans for about 15 min or 2 whistles depending on your cooker. It should not get mushy, it should still have a bite to it.
Drain water, rinse with cold water till the water runs clear.
Add yogurt, shallots, cilantro, salt and mix well. Garnish with a little more chopped cilantro and serve with biriyani or any kind of rice.


February 12, 2012

Tandoori Paneer Pizza


I am an avid lover of Indianised pizzas. I try mixing Indian spices into the pizza sauces, adding cilantro, topping it off with curried eggplants. Really, the list just keeps going on and on in my kitchen. My daughter loves to keep it simple... the two magic words "Cheese" and "pizza."
So, whenever I make "adult" pizza at home, I try to reserve some dough to make a small cheese pizza for her. At least, it is made with whole wheat, so I don't feel that guilty. But I wished that she would eat something as colorful as this!
And for this pizza, I added colorful bell peppers I got at my local store, mixed it up with some spring onions and finished it off with the wonderful robust flavors from the tandoori paneer. I do not own a tandoor, and I turned to my trusty oven to bake the paneer cubes.
Here goes the recipe.

Tandoori Paneer Pizza



Whole wheat/Regular pizza dough (Recipe coming up)
Pizza sauce - As required
Paneer - 2 cups cubed into one inch pieces
Red bell pepper -1 small
Green bell pepper -1 small
Yellow bell pepper -1 small
Tandoori spice mix - 1 tbsp
Thick yogurt - 1/2 cup
Salt -To taste
Red chilly powder -1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Cilantro - 2 tbsp chopped
Green onions - A bunch chopped
Part Skim mozzarella cheese - As required (I went really light, so about 1 cup for the entire large pizza)


Preheat oven to 400F to bake the paneer.

In a bowl combine yogurt, spice mix, cumin, salt, red chilly powder, turmeric, cilantro. Toss in the paneer and let it marinate for about 30 min.
Bake the paneer pieces till they get firm and golden brown on the sides. About 15 min. Keep aside.

Raise the temperature to 450F to bake the pizza.

Spread the pizza dough onto a tray/stone and spread some pizza sauce on it.
Add the peppers and spring onion evenly on the dough and sprinkle some salt over it.


Finally add the paneer and the cheese.
Bake till the crust is brown and the cheese is melted.


February 2, 2012

Easy Chocolate Fudge


Easy Chocolate Fudge


Dutch processed cocoa - 4 tsp
Fat-free Condensed milk - 1 can
Skim Evaporated milk - 1 can
Butter - 4 tbsp
Vanilla - 1/2 tsp
Sliced almonds - For garnish


Mix all the ingredients in a non-stick pan or a heavy-bottomed pan on medium-low heat. Keep stirring till it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
At this stage it should not be sticking to the pan anymore.
Pour it into a small tray lined with parchment paper. Top with the sliced almonds. Allow to cool for at least 2 hours.
Cut into desired shapes.
Store in airtight container.