August 22, 2019

Kalkandu (Rock Sugar) Pongal

How to make Kalkandu (Rock Sugar) Pongal

            The jaggery pongal is quite popular & well liked by everyone, but the kalkandu pongal is kind of like the shy cousin of the jaggery pongal. Many may not have tasted it and hence not know about this less known , but equally delicious pongal version. The recipe was duly noted in my recipe diary cos' my grandma & mom used to make this pongal occasionally. To make this pongal taste rich, I have used evaporated milk instead of regular. Sharing this divine recipe with my friends at Sri Valli's CCC# 41: February -- Week 2.

Ingredients for 6 to 8 servings:

uncooked rice - 1 cup
Pasiparuppu/Moong dal - 1 tbsp
Kalkandu/Rock sugar - 1.5 cups
Evaporated milk or regular milk - 1 cup + 2 tbsp
Elakkai podi/Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg powder - 1/8 tsp
Ghee - 3 tbsp
Saffron - a pinch
Raisins - 1 tbsp or more
Cashewnut - 2 tbsp

Pressure cooker method:

  • In a pressure cooker, cook (until soft & mushy) the rice & dal together with 1 tbsp of ghee, and excess water. (ex: if you normally add 2.5 cups of water for 1 cup of rice; add 3 cups of water instead).
  • Soak the saffron in 2 tbsp of warm milk.
  • When the rice is cooked, add the kalkandu/rock sugar to it, stir to let it melt in the heat. Add the milk & stir on low heat, taking care not to burn it.
  • Add cardamom and nutmeg powder. Add the soaked saffron to the pongal.
  • In a separate pan, melt ghee & fry the cashewnuts & raisins. Toss them into the pongal & serve hot or cold.

October 28, 2018

Nuts & Wheat Ladoo

How to make Nuts & Wheat Ladoo

              Also known as Atte ka Ladoo in Hindi (can also be made without nuts) is a simple Indian sweet made with basic ingredients from our pantry. A great after workout snack or a health-boosting dessert alternative. They make great homemade treats instead of store-bought processed snacks. These delicious balls are jam-packed with flavor and nutrients. These ladoos being high in calories are great for kids to keep their energy levels up any time of the day.

Ingredients for about 40 ladoos:

whole wheat flour - 3 cups
Cashew nuts - 1/2 cup
Pistachios - 1/4 cup
Almonds - 1/4 cup
(superfine) Sugar - 2 cups
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tbsp
melted ghee - as needed to make ladoos

Stove-top method:

  • Dry roast all nuts in low flame for 2-3 minutes, until the raw smell disappears. Let it cool down & powder them finely and set aside.
  • Dry roast the wheat flour on low heat until it loses its raw flavor and smells aromatic. 
  • If your sugar is not super fine, you may powder it before adding it to the flour.
  • Add the powdered nuts, sugar, cardamom powder to the roasted flour, and mix it well. Melt ghee on low flame & keep it warm, until you finish making all ladoos.

  • Take a small batch of the flour mix, pour a ladle full of hot ghee, stir & make balls using your hand. Repeat the process until all of the flour has been turned into ladoos. 
  • Store in air-tight container & enjoy with your family & friends.

Sharing my mom's recipe from my recipe diary with my friends at CCC #59 Oct Week 4.

October 21, 2018

Cashew Badam Halwa

How to make (quick & easy) Cashew Badam Halwa

             Although I did not have a sweet tooth during childhood, I have always been a sucker for milk sweets - Bengali sweets being my most favorite, followed by 'Thirattu Paal' and 'Paal Khoa'. When I moved to this country and felt deprived of my favorite sweets for a long long time and store-bought sweets weren't as good as the ones you get in India, I had to find a way to satisfy my craving. At first,  I added sugar to the unsweetened store-bought khoa to make 'Paal Khoa' and that was delicious by itself. After a few times, I decided to up my game by adding powdered nuts to this concoction and thus ended up with the 'Ultimate Paal Khoa'. Since then, I never went back to the regular Paal khoa. I had found my "soul-food"! The only drawback being, that this is super rich & will take a toll on your weight :o). To control my temptations, I only make it during Diwali season every year and, yes I do go overboard during Diwali time anyways... and end up blaming the festive season by calling it holiday weight gain.

           It takes only a few minutes to make this deliciously sweet halwa, but it tastes royal. I'm sorry, I'm raving so much about this halwa. My opinions might be biased as I love milk sweets, so why don't you try this easy peasy recipe this Deepavali to make your family & friends happy; that is if you have any leftovers to share ;o)


2.5 cups/12 oz/350 Gms Unsweetened Khoa
2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Cashew powder
1 Cup Badam
Milk - 1 Cup
a few strands of saffron

Stove-top method:

  • Grate the Khoa with a peeler or chop it up into smaller pieces. Powder the raw nuts as desired.
  •  Heat the milk with the Khoa. Once the Khoa blends with the milk, add the powdered nuts & sugar. Heat on low-medium & keep stirring until you reach halwa consistency. Top it with saffron strands & serve warm or cold.

Sharing my recipe with my friends at CCC #59 Oct Week 3. Do check out their latest Diwali recipes as well for more inspiration this season.

August 26, 2018

Sorakkai/Bottle Gourd Halwa

How to make Sorakkai/Bottle Gourd Halwa

            This was the very first sweet that I ever made, probably in my late teens. I remember my great grandma watching me fumble my way through the steps of the recipe that I had written down possibly from a Tamil magazine or newspaper. What I liked about this recipe is that it uses the basic ingredients that would already be available in an average Tamil household in that time period & does not ask for mawa or food colors etc. Of course, if you like you can substitute evaporated milk, mawa or food colors as you like. I have tweaked the recipe by using the pressure cooker to speed up the process. Do try this easy recipe & enjoy.

Ingredients for about 4 servings

1 large sorakkai/bottle gourd- 5 cups grated/minced
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk/regular milk
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
A pinch of turmeric powder
A pinch of salt

For frying

1 tbsp ghee
A few cashewnuts

Stovetop method

  • Wash, peel, remove the seedy area & finely mince the bottle gourd in a chopper. You can also use a grater & grate the bottle gourd. Squeeze out the juice and set aside as we will not be using it in the recipe.

  • Heat a pressure pan on medium heat, add the minced/grated bottle gourd, a cup of milk & 3/4th of a cup of sugar. Stir, close, add the whistle & let cook on medium heat for three whistles. When done, let the steam out manually or naturally. Add turmeric powder, cardamom powder, salt & keep stirring occasionally until all the liquid evaporates. 

  • Meanwhile heat a tiny pan with ghee, fry the cashews until golden brown & add it to the halwa when most of the liquid has evaporated. 

  • Simmer for a few minutes until you get halwa consistency & serve warm or cold.

Sharing this simple yet delicious recipe with my fellow bloggers at SriValli's CCC #57 Aug Week 3.

August 17, 2018

Kathirikai Paal Curry/ Curried Eggplant in Coconut milk

How to make Kathirikai Paal Curry 

                This recipe has been in my recipe diary for many years now and has finally made it to the blog. Thanks to the influence my recent trip to Srilanka has had on me for dishes made with coconut milk. Let us talk more about my trip in a later post. I have had a love affair with coconut milk since childhood. The sweet, creamy & delicious milk is hard to resist after all. Let's jump straight to the recipe before I go way off topic here. A little bit of this milk can make a world of difference to your dish. Do try this recipe & enjoy.

Ingredients (3 servings):

small violet brinjals, sliced - 5 no:s
chopped onions - 1 no:
curry leaves - a few
chopped tomatoes - 1 no:
ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
thick coconut milk - 1/4 cup
oil - 1 tbsp
mustard seeds, cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp each.
red chili powder/paprika - to taste
salt - to taste

Stovetop method:

  • Heat a pan with 1 tbsp oil, add mustard, cumin seeds & curry leaves. Once the mustard pops, add the chopped onions & saute until translucent.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste & let cook for a couple of minutes & follow with turmeric powder, red chili powder & salt. Add the sliced brinjals and half a cup of water, cover & let the brinjals cook until tender, but not mushy.
  • Finally, add the coconut milk (thick milk) & let simmer for a couple of minutes, before you serve it with rice, roti or even dosa.

Sharing this with my fellow bloggers at CCC #57 Aug Week 3. Have a look around, you might like some of their recipes too.

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.

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