May 27, 2018

Vepampoo (Neem Flower) Rasam

How to make Vepampoo (Neem Flower) Rasam

            Vepam Poo Rasam/Neem flower Rasam is an aromatic rasam made using neem blossoms (also known as the Indian Lilac) & ghee which is usually prepared for Tamil Puthandu/New Year. Puthandu is the day of new beginnings. This day is celebrated by Tamilians with neem flowers and raw mangoes to symbolize growth and prosperity. Intake of the Neem flowers once in a month is highly recommended to cleanse our digestive system. This Tamilian recipe can be served along with Steamed Rice, Poriyal & Appalam/chips.

                I learned this recipe from my MIL and love the flavor of the neem flowers roasted in ghee which makes it super aromatic & satisfying. There are a few variations you can do in this recipe, see notes below. Check out my other Rasam Varieties too.


Lemon sized, Tamarind - soak, strain & make tamarind extract 
Rasam powder -2 Tbsp
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 Tsp

For Tempering:

Mustard seeds - 1 Tsp
Curry leaves - 2 Sprigs
Asafoetida - a pinch
Ghee - 1 Tsp + 1 Tbsp
Picked, washed & dried, Neem flowers/ Vepampoo - 2 Tbsp
3 Dry Red Chilies, broken

Stovetop Directions:

  • Heat the 1 tsp of Ghee & fry the Mustard seeds, Red Chilies, Asafoetida, Curry leaves. Add the remaining ghee, fry the Neem blossoms until dark brown, crisp & aromatic (but don't let it turn black).

  •  In a different pan, heat the tamarind extract with Turmeric powder, Salt, Rasam powder & boil it just until it froths & turn off the heat.

  • Finally add the tempered ingredients to the boiled tamarind mixture & serve hot, with a south Indian meal platter.


  • You can opt for the following in your recipe if you like - chopped tomatoes or cooked toor dal.
  • You can omit rasam powder & increase chilies if you like too.
  • Frying the neem flowers in ghee is to reduce the bitterness.
 Sharing this from my recipe diary in SriValli's CCC# 55: May - Week 4.

May 20, 2018

Hyderabadi Colocasia/Arbi Roast

How to make Hyderabadi Colocasia/Arbi Roast (Fried & No fry method)

            Colocasia, Arbi, Taro, Seppankizhangu are just a few ways to call this tasty tuber. This is an easy and delicious side with masala coated cubes of Arbi. Although this recipe calls for frying the colocasia, scroll down all the way to see the no-fry method using the same ingredients for a low-calorie version without compromising on flavor. This Nawabi cuisine recipe is from chef Venkatesh Bhatt. I have given his exact recipe as well as my version of the low-calorie, no fry recipe here. You can try both versions or just pick your style & go with it. 


4 to 6 whole Seppankizhangu/Colocasia
2 slit green chilies
Coriander powder - 1/2 Tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 Tbsp
Chili powder - 3/4 Tsp
Tamarind water - 1/4 Cup
Salt to taste
Cumin seeds/Jeera - 1/2 Tsp
Garam masala powder - 1/2 Tsp
Ghee/Clarified butter - 2 Tsp
Oil - as needed
Chopped Coriander leaves - for garnish

Stovetop Directions:

  • Boil colocasia immersed in water for 15 minutes or pressure cook for two whistles. Let cool, peel the skin & make cubes of the desired size.
  • Fry the colocasia cubes in hot oil until crisp & forms a golden brown crust. Remove from oil onto an absorbent paper.

  • Heat 2 Tbsp of oil on medium heat in another pan, add cumin seeds, green chilies, coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and saute until the raw smells disappear. Now add the tamarind water, let simmer until it is cooked & thickened. Finally, add the fried colocasia give it a toss, drizzle some ghee & let roast (opened) for a few minutes on low heat.

  • Remove from heat & garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve with your favorite meal platter & enjoy.

No-Fry Arbi Roast Method -

  • For the low-calorie (no fry) version of the recipe - Boil/cook the colocasia until soft, peel & cube into medium pieces. Skip the frying part. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a pan, add cumin seeds, chopped onion (optional), coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and saute until the raw smells disappear. Now add the tamarind water, let simmer until it is cooked & thickened. Finally, add the cubed colocasia give it a toss, drizzle some ghee & let roast (opened) for a few minutes on low heat. Remove from heat & garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve with your favorite meal platter & enjoy.

           Sharing this recipe with my fellow bloggers at Valli's CCC# 55: May Week 3. Do check out the other recipes at CCC.

March 25, 2018

Poricha Kootu / Kuzhambu

How to make Poricha Kootu / Kuzhambu

                 Kootu is a typical Tamilian side dish. This is a medium thick stew made with dal, vegetables, and a coconut based spice mix. This version is called "Poricha Kootu and it's one of the many healthy dishes from the South Indian cuisine. There is another version of this which is made with lots of garlic, ideal for lactating moms. Be sure to check the notes on the bottom for other variations of this dish. Serve it with rice, a side of pickle and papad. This being my mom's recipe, that I had written down a long time ago comes from my recipe diary for this  CCC# 54: Mar Week 4.


Ash Gourd/Vellai Poosani, peeled & cubed - 250 gms
Onion, chopped - 1 (Optional)
Tomatoes, diced - 2 no:s
Toor dal - 1 cup (cooked soft)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 Tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 Tbsp
A sprig of curry leaves
Half a lemon's juice (optional)

For the masala:

Roast and grind the following into a fine paste.
Oil - 1 tbsp
Dry red chilies - 2 no:s
Urad dal - 1 Tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 Tbsp
Coconut  pieces or grated - 1 cup

Stovetop method:

  • Pressure cook the Toor dal until soft with 2 cups water and a few drops of oil and set aside.
  • Heat a pan over low-medium heat and add all the ingredients listed in the masala group except the coconut and saute until golden crisp and fragrant. Finally, add the coconut & saute for a few mins. Let cool, add a little water and grind into a fine paste.

  • Heat a larger pan with a tsp of oil, add mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves and saute until golden brown. Add chopped onions to the pan and saute for a while. Add the tomatoes, ash gourd, salt, turmeric powder and water; cover & cook until the ash gourd is soft. Add the ground masala paste, cooked Toor dal and let boil for two minutes and remove from heat.

  • Optionally, you can squeeze half a lemon into it after the Kootu has cooled down a bit. 
  • Serve hot with steamed rice and your favorite sides.


  • You can use a mixture of Toor dal & yellow moong dal for variety.
  • A variation of this kuzhambu is made with lots of garlic, ideal for lactating moms.
  • The ash gourd can be substituted with any country vegetables like brinjal, chow-chow, pumpkin, bitter gourd, snake gourd, drumstick, broad beans or a combination of veggies.
  • By diluting the recipe to have lesser vegetables & more gravy you can achieve the Kuzhambu consistency. 
  • Vengaya vadakam can be fried and added at the end for an aromatic finish.

March 4, 2018

Whipped Strawberry Sensation

How to make Whipped Strawberry Sensation

               This recipe has been our family favorite and my son will ask for this frozen dessert every chance he gets, be it his birthday, dinner party or friends visiting from out of town. This is such a super easy recipe that your tweens/teens can make it on their own & surprise their family members. In fact, my son started off with assisting me in the kitchen just cos' he has a sweet tooth and I am now convinced that one day he will be able to cook for himself. 

               This recipe is from a magazine clipping that I had saved years ago. I also learned from a friend that this is also an old recipe and was made by whipping up heavy cream. By using Cool Whip, we can cut down on time spent in making the dessert. It is also a make-ahead dessert, to save you time. Sharing this quick & easy recipe with my fellow bloggers at CCC# 54: Mar Week 1.

Prep time: 20 mins
Freezing time: 6 hours
Servings: 12 slices


4 cups fresh strawberries, divided
1 can (14oz) of sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tub (8 oz) COOL WHIP whipped topping, thawed, divided
8 to 10 OREO chocolate sandwich cookies, finely chopped/ground
3 tbsp butter, melted


  • Line 8x4 inch loaf pan with foil. 
  • Powder the OREO's using a food processor or chop/crush finely. Mix in the melted butter and set aside.

  • Mash or finely chop 2 cups of strawberries and add them to a large bowl. Stir in condensed milk, lemon juice and 2 cups of the COOL WHIP, pour into the foil-lined pan.

  • Top with combined chopped cookies & butter; press into the mixture and cover/wrap tightly.

  • Freeze at least 6 hours. To serve, invert onto a plate. Remove foil. Frost with remaining COOL WHIP. Top with remaining strawberries (sliced) and serve immediately. 


  • Best served at once. If you need to refreeze, you can do so without the strawberries on top.
  • Can be made-ahead, except for the strawberry topping. 
  • Make sure it is stored in the freezer in an air-tight container, so it doesn't absorb other odors.

February 23, 2018

Broken Wheat Tomato Dosa (No Fermentation Required)

How to make Broken Wheat Tomato Dosa

         How many times have you heard whining & complaining from your family members when they hear that they will be served the ever so popular Upma for breakfast/dinner? I was fed up with hearing all the whining (majorly coming from the man of the house) and sang 'Hallelujah' when I came across this recipe to use up the bag of broken wheat that was sadly sitting in my pantry. Thanks to Mrs. Revathi Shanmugam cookbook for this quick no fermentation recipe

         I so wanted to deform the broken wheat into an unrecognizable batter before the big baby got home for dinner, but there he was staring into the bowl of soaked broken wheat & making a face which meant that he was even more afraid of the rawa now :)

         This dosa stayed soft for a few hours (with use of oil) and can be packed for kids lunches too. Sharing this easy, healthy & tasty recipe with my friends at SriValli's CCC# 54: Feb -- Week 4.

Soaking time - 1 hour
Fermenting time - None 
Serves - 2 to 4 

godumai rawa/broken wheat - 1 cup
thakkali/tomatoes - 2 no:s
green chilies or dry red chilies - 2 no:s
inji/ginger - 1 inch long
karivepillai/curry leaves - a sprig (optional)
kothamalli/coriander leaves - as per taste
salt to taste
oil as required to make dosa


  • Soak the broken wheat in enough water for about an hour. 
  • In a blender/grinder add the ginger, chilies, curry leaves, coriander leaves and tomatoes and grind to a fine puree. If you have room add drained rawa to the puree & grind to a medium fine consistency. (by following this way, we can avoid adding more water for grinding). If you need to grind the wheat rawa separately, only use minimal water as needed so the dosa batter doesn't become too runny. Add salt to taste & transfer batter into a container.

  • Heat a tawa/pan on medium high & pour a laddle full of the batter & make a circular dosa as thin as possible. Drizzle a few drops of oil around the edges & cook for a minute & flip it over to cook the other side for a few seconds and enjoy with your favorite side. Enjoy the dosas with Potato MasalaChutney varietiesSambhar or Milagai podi.

February 4, 2018

Inji Kara kuzhambu

How to make Inji Kara Kuzhambu (ginger in spicy tamarind sauce)

         On a cold rainy day, many of us crave for some spicy comfort food. Our morning started with snowflakes, changed into sleet & then rain. So, I decided to make this recipe from my recipe diary ( a recipe noted from a TV show years ago). The lady mentioned that the recipe was originally from Pondicherry(Puducherry), located in the southern part of India.

        Serve it with hot steamed rice, and appalam/papad or chips and you have a zesty meal to make you feel warm & fuzzy on any given day. It is a spicy dish, so go easy & drizzle some sesame oil on your rice to make it even tastier.


Servings: about 4

nalla ennai/sesame oil - 2 tbsp
poondu/garlic - 5 pods
perungayam/asafoetida powder- 1/4 Tsp
manja thool/turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Puli/Tamarind - 1" sized ball soaked in water & strained with minimum amount of water
vengaya vadagam - 1 tbsp
karivepilai/curry leaves - 1 sprig
salt to taste
vellam/jaggery - 1 tbsp, powdered (optional)
coriander leaves - optional

Ingredients for the masala:

nalla ennai/sesame oil - 2 Tsp

Group 1
milagu/black pepper - 1tsp
Jeerakam/cumin seeds - 1 tsp
milagai/dry red chilies - 5 no:s

Group 2
poondu/garlic - 5 pods
inji/ginger - about 2 inches, sliced

Stovetop method:

For the masala - 

  • Heat a pan/kadai with a tsp of sesame oil, add group one ingredients & saute in oil until crisp & aromatic. Transfer contents to the mixie/blender jar & let cool for a couple of minutes.
  • Reheat the pan, add group 2 ingredients & saute on medium-low heat until well roasted & soft.
  • Powder roasted group 1 ingredients finely & then add sauteed group 2 ingredients & run the mixer/blender for a couple of seconds to make a coarse paste.

To make the kuzhambu -

  • Heat oil in a kadai/pan, add asafoetida powder, vengaya vadagam & let it fry until crisp. Add few curry leaves & garlic pods - saute until garlic is golden brown & cooked soft.
  • Using a little water, wash the mixie/blender & add the ground masala to the kadai, pour the strained tamarind water, add turmeric powder, salt & jaggery(if using). Let simmer for a few minutes on low heat.

  • Check seasoning, drizzle some sesame oil on top and turn off the heat.
  • Serve with steamed rice & papad/chips. Can also be eaten with paruppu podi or Karivepillai podi.
Sharing this tangy recipe with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC Feb #53 -- Week 1.

December 24, 2017

Sugar Cookies

How to bake Sugar Cookies

             Sugar cookies are very appealing to the eye as it is the perfect base for frosting, sprinkles and other sweet decorations. Kids go for it anytime like their other all-time favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies Sugar cookies can be made with a cookie press or may be rolled and cut into shapes moreover, it is fun to decorate with kids either with icing or sparkling sugar. I have only used colored sugar here, you can also do some icing & decorations on top like I did on my Lime shortbread trees. The point is to have fun with your baking, this holiday season. Happy Holidays!!

Makes about 130 small cookies
(I only made half the quantity)


3 & 2/3rd cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (I used white sugar)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Decorating Sugars

Optional Gadget - Cookie Press
(can also be made without the cookie press)


  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Put the flour, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon into a small mixing bowl, whisk to combine; set aside.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter & sugar. Using an electric beater, mix until light & fluffy. Mix in the vanilla & then the eggs, one at a time, until completely combined. Add the reserved dry ingredients & mix on low speed, until just combined.

  • At this point, you can divide the dough into two parts & add desired food color.

  • (OPTIONAL STEP) ONLY FOR COOKIE PRESS USERS - Assemble the cookie press with the desired disc. Load the cookie dough, just until the max fill line. Press cookie dough out onto a greased baking pan about 1 inch apart. You can add sparkling sugar sprinkles if you like at this point.


  • FOR USERS NOT USING A COOKIE PRESS - Since the dough is made a little softer than usual, we need to dust it with some more flour to get the right consistency. Wrap in plastic & refrigerate for 3 hours. Lightly dust your work surface & roll out your dough about 1/4" thick & use your cookie cutters to cut out your favorite shapes. Lift the cut-out cookies using small spatulas or nylon spreaders and assemble on the baking sheet about 1" apart. You can add sparkling sugar sprinkles if you like at this point.

  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.

  • Cool cookies before removing from the pan & transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Important Notes:

  • For non-cookie press users - It is important that you dust it with some more flour to get the right manageable consistency. Wrap in plastic & refrigerate for a few hours before you work with the dough.

Sharing this recipe from my cookie press booklet with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC #52 December Week 4.

December 17, 2017

White Chocolate Shortbread (Eggless)

How to bake White Chocolate Shortbread

         Shortbread is supposed to be mild tasting and so tasty on its own is even more delicious with add-ins like chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips. You can also add chewy dried cranberries, but I had to skip cranberries upon request from my kids. Adding dried cranberries will enhance the sweetness in the recipe too. Glad to share this recipe (from a magazine clipping )with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC #52 December Week 3.

Makes about 35 cookies


2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour (maida)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups confectioner's (icing) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4th cup, chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
OPTIONAL - 1/2 cup(75g) dried cranberries, coarsely chopped (I chose to skip this ingredient)


  • Preheat the oven to 325 F (170 C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift the flour, salt & cocoa powder into a bowl.
  • Beat the butter, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale & creamy. Stir in the flour mixture, cranberries (if using) & chocolate chips.
  • Use a spatula to mix all the ingredients in, until it forms a ball of cookie dough. Cover tightly & refrigerate for about 20 to 30 minutes until the butter hardens & the dough becomes easy to handle.
  • Roll tablespoons of the dough into balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Use a fork to flatten slightly, & make an impression on the top. 
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through for even baking. Remove from oven  & let cool completely on the baking sheets & transfer to a wire rack.

Important Notes;

  • To achieve, a browner shortbread, add a total of 4 tbsp of cocoa powder instead of two. And you get a double chocolate shortbread.
  • The chilling of the dough prior to baking is a very important step so the dough will be less sticky & easier to handle.
  • After sharing a batch with a friend, I could only save (hide) it for a week, to check for freshness. My shortbreads stayed fresh for a week, in my pantry.

December 10, 2017

All-Time Favorite Cookies

All-Time Favorite Cookies 

 Here is a quick look at some favorite cookie recipes, all in one place just for you.

November 26, 2017

(Fresh) Methi Chaman Pulao

How to make restaurant style Methi Paneer Pulao

                This is one of chef Venkatesh Bhat's recipe that was aired maybe last year. I was so tempted by this recipe, I tried it within a few days & was amazed that it truly tasted like a fine dining restaurant dish. It is definitely a party/pot lock recipe with its richness & aromatic flavors. If you want to cut down on ghee, you can do so & still enjoy this pulao with all its flavors. But, please do try it out as mentioned in this recipe at least the first time, before you make changes to it in order to enjoy its full flavor. Sharing this with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC# 51: November Week 4. Do share your comments on how your family liked the pulao. 

Ingredients :

A) basmati rice (uncooked) - 1.5 cups
     methi / Fenugreek leaves (leaves only) 1 cup, tightly packed.
     onion 1 medium, sliced
     ghee - 2 tbsp + 2 tbsp
     oil - 2 tbsp
     saffron - 1 big pinch
     milk - 1/2 cup
     ginger-garlic paste - 2 tsp
     Salt to taste
     1 inch, ginger - julienned 
     fried onions - 2 tbsp

B )   To fry/saute in oil

      cloves - 4no:s
      cinnamon 1 whole
      cardamom pods - 4 no:s
      black cardamom - 2 no:s
      bay leaf 1
      black peppercorns - 8 or 10 no:s
      halved green chilies - 2 no:s

C )  For the Marinade: 

      Mix all the ingredients listed below & add the paneer as the final ingredient & fold gently. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

      fresh curd/yogurt - 1/2 cup
      ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
      salt for the paneer
      green chilies 3
      turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
      coriander/dhaniya powder - 1 tsp
      chili powder - 1/2 tsp
      dry roasted jeera powder - 1/2 tsp
      garam masala powder -1/2 tsp
      cubed paneer - 1 cup

Stovetop method:

  • Wash and cook the rice until it's almost cooked (3/4th done).
  • Wash thoroughly and chop the methi leaves (discard the stems). Before adding to the pan, squeeze the chopped methi leaves to remove some of its bitterness, if you desire.
  • In a large deep pan heat oil and add whole garam masalas ( listed under ingredient list B), fry until aromatic & lastly add green chilies. Saute for a minute and add sliced onions, let it turn translucent add ginger garlic paste and, julienned ginger. Let saute until the raw smell is gone and then add the chopped methi leaves & saute until the leaves are cooked.
  • Now add the marinated paneer ( listed under ingredient list C ) add salt & 2 tbsp of ghee, stir gently & cook for a few minutes until the raw smell of the marinade disappears.
  • Pour warm milk into a cup & add the saffron & give it a stir.
  • Layer the cooked rice on top of the paneer-methi mixture, drizzle 2 tbsp of ghee & sprinkle the saffron-milk mixture on top of the rice. 
  • Cover the pan with a lid. Place the covered pan on top of a tava/griddle & cook on medium heat until rice is completely cooked. Top with fried onions & then turn down the heat to the lowest setting for 'dum' cooking for a few more minutes & turn off the heat when the rice grains are fluffy & separate.

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