Friday, April 25, 2014

Ridge Gourd / Peechinga Subzi

A beautiful accompaniment for chapathis. They are mild, juicy and tasty. I like such juicy subzis for chapathi so that I needn't worry about another gravy.


Ridge Gourd - 1 medium, cleaned and chopped to small cubes
Big onion - 1 medium, chopped
Green chilly - 1, chopped
Ginger - half inch piece, crushed
Garlic - 2 medium cloves, crushed
Tomato - 1 medium, chopped
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urid dal - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - as needed


1. Heat a kadai, add oil. Splutter the mustard seeds. Add urid dal and saute till they turn brown and crisp.
2. Add the chopped onions, green chilly, ginger and garlic. Saute till raw smell is gone (do not saute for more than a minute, you need all those juices in there).
3. Add in the tomatoes and saute for 30s. Sprinkle chilly and turmeric powder, saute for another 10 seconds and then add in the cubed ridge gourd. Add salt. Give a good stir and cover and cook till the gourd is cooked well.
4. Once cooked, open the lid, stir well and serve hot with chapathis

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easy - Peasy Beef Samosa

I never thought making samosas were this easy! Do you have some left-over beef fry /curry and chapathi dough? Then please roll out the dough, fill in some shredded beef fry, tuck them in and deep fry! Your kids will love..we actually fought for that last one!!

The only problem with atta being used as the wrapper is that the samosas should be consumed immediately. As it sits, they lose their crispness. But I am sure there wouldn't be any left. If at all you want the crispness to last longer, please use a maida dough instead of atta.

You can follow the same recipe for chicken samosas too, if you have some leftover chicken curry. Easy - peasy..aint it?


Left-over beef curry or fry - around 2 cups (if there is too much gravy, just cook them for some more time so that the moisture dries up. You do not want it to be too dry, something like wet will be perfect)
Chapathi dough - as needed
Oil - for frying


1. Shred the beef in a food processor.
2. Roll out a small ball of chapathi dough. Cut them in half as shown. Twist them to make a cone and fill in a tbsp of beef. 
3. Tuck them in, press tightly to close
4. Deep fry in oil

Enjoy with some tomato ketchup.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chicken Cutlets

Another childhood favorite of mine. During school days, we used to have this everyday for lunch (we used to have beef cutlets more than the chicken version) mostly because it stores well in fridge. During those days, every day mom had to pack 5 lunches plus the elaborate breakfast. So making cutlets for the week was like a Sunday ritual and would make a quick dish for lunch. They got made on Sunday evenings and would go in the freezer. They would last till Thursday, as Fridays were non-meat days. Shaping the cutlets was my duty, so I am kinda expert at it now!

I mostly make the cutlets mild (I like it that way). So if you want to spice them up just adjust the green chillies or chilly powder as per your taste or add some pepper powder.


Boneless chicken - 500g, cooked with some salt and pepper powder
Big onion - 1 big
Green chilly - 2
Garlic - 2 cloves
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Oil - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt - to taste

Boiled potato - 1 medium, mashed

For coating
Egg - 1, beaten
Rusk / Bread powdered - 1 cup


1. Place the big onion, green chilly, garlic and curry leaves in the food processor. Pulse them 3-4 times, till finely chopped. Do not pulse for too long in one stretch since the onions will start releasing the juices.
2. Heat a kadai and add oil. Once hot, add the chopped onion mixture on medium heat. Make sure heat is never too low as then the onion juices will start oozing out. You do not need that, you need your mixture to be dry.
3. While onion mixture is being sauteed, place the cooked chicken pieces in the same food processor bowl and pulse 3-4 time. Again you just want them shredded, and not ground. If its ground (which happens if you try to do it in a mixie), it will be more like a paste and will not get the taste of chicken.
4. Saute the onions till they are dry and almost brown. Add in the turmeric and chilly powders and saute till raw smell disappears.
5. Add the shredded chicken and mix well. Adjust salt. Sprinkle the garam masala. Saute till the chicken mixture is combined well and semi-dry. Switch off the stove. Allow it to cool a bit.
6. Mash the potatoes and add to the chicken mixture (you need to be careful not to add too much potatoes. If there is too much potatoes, it will become mushy and will be difficult to shape. Plus the taste of potatoes will overpower the chicken taste). Mix well.
7. When the heat is bearable, start shaping the cutlets.
8. Dip them in beaten egg and then in the rusk/bread crumbs. Store in freezer or deep fry in oil.

Challas tastes best with these cutlets.

Chicken Stew / Ishtu

For Easter and Christmas, our day starts with Stew/Ishtu for breakfast. Its such an unavoidable item for breakfast and when paired with Appam, they make a terrific combo. The rich, creamy stew combined with feather-like appams melt in your mouth and slowly glide through your food pipe tickling your taste buds at the right spots. They are mild, yet spicy (from the whole spices added) and tangy (from vinegar) all at the same time. The secret to good ishtu is that there should be a balance between all these flavours - mildness, tangy, spicy - none of the flavours should be overpowering.


Carrot - 1, washed, peeled and diced
Potato - 1, washed, peeled and diced
Cooked chicken pieces (fairly big pieces) - 2 cups (You can directly add uncooked pieces too)
Chicken stock (optional - left from cooking the chicken) - 1/2 cup
Whole spices
   Cardamom - 1
   Cinnamom - 2 inch piece, broken to smaller pieces
   Cloves - 4
   Whole black pepper - 5-6
Big onion - 1 medium
Green chilly - 1 or 2, as per your tolerance. I like to keep it mild, so add only one
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Ginger - 1 inch pieces, julienned
Thick coconut milk - 1/2 cup
Thin coconut milk - 1 1/2 cups (it should not be too thin, something like semi-thick)
Coconut oil - 2 tbsp
Vinegar - 1 tbsp


1. Heat a kadai, add coconut oil.
2. Once hot (throughout cooking, it should be on low-medium heat), add the whole spices and wait till they splutter.
3. Add the diced onion and saute till they turn pink (take care not to saute for more time)
4. Add the julienned ginger and green chilly (slit), mix in
5. Add in the diced potatoes and carrots, stir well. Let them get cooked in the oil for a while (approx 3 min). Take care not to burn them, keep stirring).
6. Add in the chicken pieces (cooked or uncooked) along with the chicken stock. Add half cup water if chicken stock isn't available. If using uncooked chicken, you donot need any water as chicken will start releasing its juices. Cover and cook till carrots, chicken and potatoes are cooked well.
7. Once cooked (you should be able to smash the potatoes easily with the back of a spoon), add the semi-thick coconut milk. Mix well. Add salt. Smash some pieces of carrots and potatoes so that the sauce becomes thick. 
8. When the coconut milk starts to boil (do not allow to boil well), quickly add the thick coconut milk and immediately switch off the stove. Stir for a minute, to ensure coconut milk do not curdle.
9. Add vinegar, stir well. Serve hot with Appams

Monday, April 21, 2014

Banana Muffins

I just followed the Banana Bread recipe and just added couple of tbsp of milk to loosen up the batter since it was thick. And finally sprinkled some choco-chips on top. They made a yummy treat.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mango Ice-cream

The mango season is back again!! The heaps of mangoes in the market and people going around it touching and smelling to buy the right ones is an endearing sight. I think Dubai imports mangoes from around the world. Having tasted them from many parts of the world, I still feel that our own Indian varieties are the best. No wonder mango is the national fruit of India!

Coming to Ice-creams - I think I started my culinary journey with ice-creams. Whenever there is excess milk at home (there was no concept of storing milk for 3-4 days, you buy it for your day's need. If there is excess, you need to either make curd or ice-creams. Milk, however you refrigerate, used to get spoiled after 20-24 hrs. I wonder what all they add these days to store for weeks/months), my mother before rushing to office would give me instructions on how to make it. These used to happen mostly on Saturdays. So by around 10 o'clock, I would start boiling, stirring milk. It was a long process then, where we need to wait till milk to reduce to half its volume, then take it off the stove, add sugar, beaten egg, keep stirring, then again on to the stove, stirring again until you get somewhat thick consistency. Then again you need to keep stirring while cooling them under the fan. By now, the supposed ice-cream would have again reduced in volume, as the chef keeps tasting the will-be-ice-cream. Somehow I would transfer it to a steel container and freeze it, and again would taste them every now and then. By the time mom would come back from office and by the time it should have properly frozen, there would be hardly anything left in there. They were so tasty.

Now that summer is making its entry to Dubai (this year a li'l late though) and since mangoes are in plenty, I thought of making some ice-cream. This is my first-time making the mango ice-creams. Searched the net, and found Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe. It was ohh-so simple; involved no cooking, stirring. I immediately jumped on, peeling and chopping the yellow you can read below.


Mangoes - 2 big, I used Badami. Alphonsos would be the best
Milk - 1 cup
Condensed milk - 3/4 tin
Sugar - 3 tbsp (adjust as per your liking)
Lemon juice - 1 tsp


1. Peel and cut the mangoes to cubes. Puree them in big jar of the mixer.
2. Add sugar, lemon juice & condensed milk and pulse again in the mixer.
3. Add milk and adjust the consistency.
4. Pour into freezer-proof bowls and keep in freezer for atleast an hour.
5. After an hour, take them out and pulse them in the mixer again. Freeze them again. If possible set overnight.

Padavalanga Thoran / Snakegourd Thoran

A simple, everyday recipe.


Snakegourd - 1 medium
Small onions - 5-6, thinly sliced
Green chilly - 2, slit lengthwise
Garlic - 1 clove, crushed
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Salt - as needed
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch


1. Clean the snakegourd and remove the seeds. Wash thoroughly. Chop them finely.
2. Heat a kadai, add oil. Once hot, splutter the mustard seeds.
3. Saute the small onions for few seconds and then add the crushed garlic and green chillies. Saute till the raw smell is gone.
4. Add the chopped snakegourd pieced along with grated coconut. Sprinkle some salt and the turmeric powder. Mix well. Sprinkle some water if needed. Cover and cook till the snakegourd pieces are cooked well. Towards the end cook with the kadai open so that all the moisture dried up.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Pesaha Appam / INRI Appam / Indriyappam & Kalthappam with Peseha Paalu (Maundy Thursday Special)

I know I am late, pretty very late to post this recipe!! But you know, INRI appam is not something you make on any other day, so had to wait till Thursday afternoon when I finished the long process of making appam, and then it was the church time - another 2 hrs in church, came back tired! Then came Good Friday, almost full day in church, came back tired!
Thats my excuse for posting this Maundy Thursday special on the Holy Saturday.

I think I should be frank - I never looked forward to Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. They weren't fun-filled, yeah, you should be mourning - I know. But I don't think its anything any kid looked forwarded to. 2-3 days, almost completely in church, that too in the sweltering April heat (I was a late-goer to church those days, so most days will end up standing outside the church since the church will be full with those lucky early birds who reserve their seats under the fan :) ). Our services were mostly 4 hrs long these days, and even that I couldn't stand. Hmm...God had other plans - God made sure I marry an Orthodox Christian, whose services were almost a day long!! I think I almost fainted the first Good Friday post marriage.

Coming to the Pesaha Appam - I was never a big fan of it either. At my home, there is always chaos associated with Maundy Thursday - my grandmom would be running like a headless chicken. The appam and paalu is made on a large scale, mainly because it need to be shared with almost every house in the street. One side, one maid will be grating the coconut, another will be soaking, drying, grinding, roasting the rice (she does it the traditional way always - no readymade rice powder). In between, my grandmom made sure we had our regular 3 meals as well. There is another unwritten rule as well - the maids are there to help only, they are not allowed to touch the ingredients after roasting the rice or grinding the coconut (yeah, untouchability still prevails in some cases). I still remember her squeezing the coconut milk with her 80-year old shivering hand. I was asked to keep out of kitchen these days - may be she couldn't handle one more female in the kitchen. Once the appams & paalu is made (which will be late evening), I would be called in - to take the packed appam/paalu to nearby houses and also to mourning houses (where there has been a death recently). Every house will serve you appam & paalu, and you have to have them! By now, chaos in the kitchen would have reached its peak!!

Since we kids never like the traditional appam (steamed version), my grandmom would fry the batter on tawa which is preferred over the steamed version. (I have explained this version as well below)

By then its time for us to go for our parish's appam murickal (cutting the appam by a priest). It will be organised in one the houses in the family unit (every parish is divided into clusters of 30-40 houses, called family units). Again having appam - paalu. Then we cousins would gang-up and visit our relatives' houses to taste their appam-paalu (after all pesaha is all about sharing and caring). By the end of the day, you have too much of this steamed/fried cakes and coconut milk in your tummy.

I think kids are a major reason for your change in attitude. Actually they teach us much more than what we teach them..I feel so. Somehow, after my son was born, I suddenly had this urge to re-create traditionals items at home. Pesaha Appam would have been the last thing I would have wanted to make. But yeah...I have been making it for the past 4 years. The first year was a flop, even though I had an hour long conversation with my mom & grandmom on how it need to be made. Second year was also not too good. Third was ok. And the 4th (this year's) was loved! Nirvana!!

INRI Appam - Indriyappam - Pesaha Appam - Pulippillatha Appam

Ingredients (Yield - 1 small steamed + 1 small kalthappam)

White rice - 1 cup (I have made it the traditional way by soaking, grinding, sieving. You can always use a cup of pathiri podi instead of this long process)
Urid dal - a handful
Grated coconut - a handful
Small onion - 6
Garlic - 2 cloves
Salt - as needed
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Water - as needed


1. Soak rice in enough water for 3-4 hours. Drain water, spread the rice on a thin tea-towel / plate and keep it in sun till the moisture dries up. Care should be taken not to dry it up completely.
2. Once its almost dried, grind it in mixer to fine powder. Sieve it well so that you get only the fine powder. Grind the residual grainy pieces once again and sieve the to get the fine powder. Discard the grain.
3. Heat a cheenachatti/heavy pan or kadai and add the fine rice powder into it. Keep stirring on low heat till the rice powder is (very) hot. Donot allow it to become brown. Switch off the flame and remove from stove, keep it aside.

4. Soak the urid dal for atleast 2 hours. Grind it into a smooth paste. Keep aside. After grinding, it should not be kept for a long time, as then the fermentation process will start. So you need to be little fast from now on.
5. Grind together coconut, small onion, garlic & cumin seeds and keep aside.
6. Mix together the roasted rice powder, coconut mixture and dal paste along with enough salt. The batter should be the consistency of vattayappam - not too thin, not too thick.
7. Heat appachembu / idli thattu with enough water in it. Take a steel plate and grease it with some oil. Pour the batter in this plate, until its half full (you do not need your appam to be too thick). Place a cross (made from palm received on palm sunday) on the appam.
8. Once steam starts coming from the appachembu, place the batter in it and cook for 12-15 minutes.
9. After specified time, check if its cooked by inserting a toothpick. If the batter/crumbs do not stick to the toothpick, your appam is done. Remove it from the steamer and allow to cool.

Kalthappam / Tawa fried appam


Pesaha appam batter - 1 cup
Coconut pieces - 1 tbsp
Small onion, thinly sliced - 2 tbsp
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp


1. Heat a small pan and add coconut oil. Once its hot, add the thinly chopped coconut pieces in it and roast till they are brown. Drain oil and add this to the batter.
2. In remaining oil, add the thinly sliced onion pieces and let them become brown and crisp. Add them as well to the batter.
3. Now heat a tawa (iron tawa works the best), and grease with some coconut oil. Once the tawa is really hot, place the batter mixture on the tawa. You can spread it using a ladle or spatula (then they cook faster). Drizzle some coconut oil on the top as well as on the sides. Now cover with a lid and cook till the down side becomes brown. Once its browned, turn it upside down and cook this side too (covered). Once both sides are cooked, remove from tawa.

Pesaha Paalu


Jaggery - 1 block (as shown)
Thick coconut milk (thani paal, onnam pal, from the first press of grated coconut) - 1/2 cup
Thin coconut milk - 1 cup (randam paal, from the second press)
Very thin coconut milk - 2 cups (moonnam paal, from the third press)
Dried ginger powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Very fine rice powder  - 1 tsp (I used pathiri podi, this is used to thicken the pesaha paalu. If you like your paalu to be thicker, add more rice powder mixed with coconut milk. Do not add rice powder directly to the boiling milk, as it would form lumps immediately and will not serve the purpose. So always mix it with cold milk and to the boiling mixture).
Water - as needed


1. Heat a kadai, add grated jaggery with 2 tbsp of water. Stir occasionally till jaggery melts. Switch off the stove, allow to cool a bit, then sieve it to remove the impuririties.
2. Heat the same kadai, add the sieved jaggery syrup along with moonnam paal (very thin coconut milk) and let it come to boil, stirring occasionally.
3. Once it boils and starts to reduce in volume, add half of the randam paal (from second press) and let it boil.
4. Meanwhile mix the remaining half cup of randam paal with the rice powder and add to the boiling mixture. Now the paalu will start to thicken. Keep stirring in between. Once it has reached your required consistency (I wanted it more on the thinner side, while my grandmom makes it somewhat thick) add the very thick coconut milk. Do not allow to boil again. Once steam starts to come, switch off the stove immediately. Keep stirring for a minute more (so that the coconut milk will not curdle). Sprinkle cumin & dried ginger powder, stir well