July 30, 2017

Varutha Arisi Sojji / Roasted Rice Upma

How to make Varutha Arisi Sojji / Roasted Rice Upma

            Most households probably get around to making two or three kinds of upma's - semiya upma, arisi rava upma & wheat rava upma. This was new to me when my MIL made this for dinner the first time. Her story behind this goes like this - during her childhood days, her mom used to make this as a quick and low-cost meal to serve a large family living on a budget. 

            This can be a lunch box recipe (stays fresh) or can be breakfast/dinner. This can be served with Milagai podiChutneys/ThuvayalsSambhar, or Gothsu. This family (MIL) recipe comes from my recipe diary & is being shared with SriValli's CCC#46 July week #4.

Ingredients for 3 servings:

Pacharisi/Raw rice - 1.5 cups
Paasiparuppu/Green gram dal - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Grated coconut - 3 tbsp
Crushed black pepper  - 1 tsp
Water - 1 cup (for dal) + as needed to cook your rice
[ I used, 1(rice) 3(water) ratio ]

For thalippu/tempering:

Oil - 2 tbsp
1/2 Tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp, kadalai paruppu/bengal gram dal
Dry red chilies - 3, broken
1 tsp, jeera/cumin seeds
a pinch of asafoetida powder
a sprig of curry leaves

Stove top method:

  • Dry roast the dal & rice separately in a dry kadai/pan, until slightly golden, crisp & aromatic.
  • Heat the oil in a large cooker/kadai and add the ingredients listed for tempering one by one & fry for a few seconds, taking care not to burn them.
  • Pour the required amount of water for the dal & rice to cook, add salt & let it come to a boil.
  • When the water begins to boil, add the roasted rice, and dal. Cover & let cook on medium until rice & dal are cooked soft. (If using pressure cooker, use the weight & let cook for about 10 minutes or 2 whistles)
  • Sprinkle crushed pepper powder, add grated coconut, give it a stir and turn off the heat. 
  • Serve hot with Kathirikai gothsu or try any of these thuvayals or chutneys.

July 23, 2017

Mangai Sadham / Mango Rice

How to make Mango Rice/Mangai Sadham

            Manga sadham/Mango rice is one of the lip smacking rice of the south. This recipe brings back nostalgic childhood memories. Sneaking up to the terrace when the adults are busy taking an afternoon nap - find the biggest green mango that you can reach - pluck - take a bite - wait for it & make a sour face literally. On other occasions, it would be sliced and sprinkled with salt & paprika for a sour & spicy treat.
            The sourness of the rice will depend on how sour your mango is.  Serving this with Karivepillai thayir pachadi a.k.a Curry leaves raitha. The two flavors play well together.If you are a skeptic about the combo, try it before you dismiss the idea. 

Ingredients for 4 servings

1 large unripe/green mango
1 cup uncooked rice, cooked but not mushy
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 Tsp, chili powder
2 dry red chilies, broken
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
a pinch of asafoetida powder
a sprig of curry leaves
1/4 Tsp turmeric powder
1/4 Tsp roasted & powdered fenugreek seeds (optional)
Salt to taste

Stove top method:

  •  Fluff the cooked rice gently, mix in a tbsp of sesame oil & spread the rice on a plate and let it cool. 
  • Grate the mango, peeled or unpeeled.Heat remaining oil in a pan and when it's hot, add mustard seeds and fry for 30 seconds.Add curry leaves, dry red chilies and asafoetida powder cook for a minute. Add turmeric powder, fenugreek powder (if using),  grated mango, salt, and cook for a few minutes on medium heat, until the raw smell of the chili powder is gone.
  • Turn off the heat, add the cooled rice and mix gently. Check seasoning & serve with papad & curry leaves raitha.

May 14, 2017

Baked Apple Roses

How to make Apple Roses

        "Mothers are like buttons, they hold everything together."

      That reminds me of my mother who holds all the family members together. She was always the one, who knew what was going on with everyone in the family. Especially when all of us (my brothers & I) moved out of the house. We may not be in frequent touch with each other; but we would be in constant touch with Amma, so she always had the latest updates. Some of us are too busy to listen to others and then some of us are too busy to share things about our life. Mothers always have the time to listen to her children and read between the lines too. 

      Motherhood teaches us a ton of things and humbles us. I only wish someone had prepared me for what to expect, and how to handle the 'n' number of situations that arise in parenting. I guess that is what makes every mother unique. But hey, I feel better reading the following quote :)

"Good Moms Have Sticky Floors, Messy Kitchens, Laundry Piles & Happy Kids."

Happy Mother's Day, to all the Mom's & all the Dad's who take on the role of a mother!


Ingredients for 6 to 8 roses:

1 sheet of Pepperidge farm frozen pastry, thawed
2 large apples, cored & sliced
1.5 Tbsp lemon juice concentrate or juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 cups of water or more as needed
cinnamon powder, to sprinkle
fig preserves - 3 tbsp
1 Tbsp, water

Special equipment needed:
Muffin pan - greased or lined


  • Preheat oven to 375° F. (Please read notes below)
  • Wash, cut in half, core & slice the apples into very thin slices. 
  • In a microwave safe bowl, add the water, lemon juice and sliced apples & microwave for 3 minutes. Drain & let sit. 
  • In another bowl, add the preserve & 1 tbsp of water and microwave for a minute; stir & set aside.
  • On a floured surface, unwrap & place the thawed pastry sheet, dust with flour, using a rolling pin, stretch it out as needed to make 6 to 8 strips that are 1.5" wide.
  • On every strip, smear some preserve, place the apple slices on the top half of the strip, sprinkle with apple spice mix and fold over the bottom half of the pastry strip and roll tightly to form the roses. 

  • Place the roses into the prepped muffin pan & bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove & let cool.
  • Dust with confectioners sugar & serve on a platter. 


  • My roses were only mildly sweet because the only added sweeteners were the fruit preserve & the confectioner's sugar on top. If you like more sweetness, try adding a 1/8th tsp of brown sugar into the center of every rose, after they have been rolled up & ready to go in the oven.
  • Any fruit preserve can be used, or you can even skip it.
  • Try adding cinnamon sugar instead of plain cinnamon, prior to rolling the roses.
  • Can also be served with a drizzle of caramel sauce on top.
  • If you are baking on a cookie sheet, make sure you press the pastry sheet with wet fingers at the end of the roll, to make sure, it doesn't open up during baking.

April 30, 2017

Goji Berry-Almond-Date Power Balls (No Cook Recipe)

How to make Goji Berry-Almond-Date Power Balls

              The talk and use of goji berries have been on the rise lately upon hearing about its super powers. Here is a no sugar added, all natural, gluten free, vegan, zero cooking, paleo, nutrient rich recipe that is healthy and tasty enough for your taste buds. I feel good about this recipe as it uses purely natural sweeteners (dates, goji berries & raisins) and has some crunch and satiety value in it, so we can enjoy a nutritious snack when hunger strikes.

              They’re thought to help prevent premature aging, boost the immune system, have benefits for diabetes and protect against heart disease and cancer. Goji berries could interact with some drugs, so talk with your doctor first. Otherwise, it's probably safe to eat goji berries in moderation. Please use at your own discretion. Research implies the following health benefits of goji berries:
  • Very Nutritious
  • Excellent Source of Antioxidants
  • May Have Anti-Aging Benefits
  • May Help Prevent Cancer Growth
  • May Improve Blood Sugar Control
  • May Boost Energy Levels
  • May Help You Lose Weight
  • May Improve Cholesterol Levels
  • May Help Boost the Immune System

Ingredients for 10 to 15 balls:

dried Goji berries - 1 cup
pitted Dates - 1 cup
raw Almonds - 1 cup
Pumpkin seeds - 1 tbsp (optional)
Cardamom powder/Cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp
Raisins - 1 tbsp

No cook directions:

  • Wash the goji berries to remove impurities & dry them off.
  • Coarsely powder the almonds in any kind of food processor. Transfer the contents into a mixing bowl.
  • Next, pulverize the goji berries into powder. Transfer into the bowl.

  • Grind the dates, as much as you can. Add it to the mixing bowl.
  • Add other ingredients powdered or whole to the mixing bowl. Stir/mix thoroughly and make into balls.
  • Store in an airtight container & enjoy your nutritious snack when hunger strikes.


  • You can try substituting other nuts, dry fruits and seeds as needed to make your own combination.

            This recipe was noted down from a health based tv show and is from my recipe diary. Sharing the joy with my fellow bloggers at Sri Valli's CCC # 43 - April Week 5.

April 2, 2017

Cabbage Masala Poriyal

How to make Cabbage Masala Poriyal

              Continuing with last week's theme (cabbage), here is another spicy accompaniment for your Indian platter; be it with roti or rice. The speciality of this dish is in the ground masala with peppercorns, red chillies, coconut, cumin & coriander. You can substitute the channa dal with toor dal, if you like. Also, the same recipe can be used to make a dry curry or a kootu/wet curry according to your needs. I have tried both varieties & they are both excellent. You can check out other recipes that use cabbage as a main ingredient here. Sharing this delicious recipe with my fellow bloggers at CCC # 43 April Week 1

Ingredients for 4 servings -

finely cut cabbage - 3 cups
chopped onion - 1 no:
boiled kadalai paruppu/channa dal -1/2 cup
tamarind paste - 1/4 tsp
salt to taste
cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
jaggery - 1 tsp (optional)
oil - 2 tbsp
curry leaves - a sprig

Grind together -

dry red chillies - 2 no:s
fresh/frozen grated coconut - 3 tbps
coriander seeds - 2 tsp
cumin seeds - 1 tsp
black pepper - 1/2 tsp
water - just enough to grind

Stove top method -

  • Cook cabbage separately  in just enough water or steam till soft.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan, add cumin seeds, curry leaves, onion & fry till golden.
  • Now add the ground paste & cook until the raw smell disappears.
  • Add salt, jaggery, tamarind paste, boiled channa dal and cooked cabbage. 
  • Sprinkle water, is needed & let simmer for a few minutes. 
  • Serve with roti or rice.


  • You can make this recipe as a curry/porial or as a kootu/gravy. For kootu, cook the cabbage & dal very soft & increase the quantity of water.

March 26, 2017

Cabbage Capsicum Rice

How to make Cabbage Capsicum Rice

            Here is a really no fuss, quick lunch box recipe, I had noted down from a tv show.  The flavor & color of the rice will vary slightly based on the kind/color of cabbage & capsicum used in the recipe. Check out my pictures below for an idea. It really doesn't need an accompaniment, but its totally upto you, what you serve it with. Sending this quick recipe to my fellow bloggers at CCC # 42: March Week 4.

Ingredients for about 3 servings -

Basmati rice - 1 cup, soaked for 20 mins
Water - 1.5 cups
Cabbage - 250 gms, shredded
Capsicum/bell pepper - 1, cut into strips
Onion - 1, sliced
Ginger-Garlic paste - 1 Tbsp
Krambu/Cloves - a few
Elakkai/Cardamom - 2 no:s
Pattai/Cinnamon - 1 whole
Green chillies - 3 no:s, slit
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
fried cashews (optional) - about 6 no:s

Stove top method-

  • Heat a kadai with oil, add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom; saute for a minute on medium low & add green chillies, onions - saute until golden brown, add ginger-garlic paste & saute on low, preferably covered (so it doesn't splatter) until the raw smell disappears.
  • Add the capsicum & cabbage on high heat, saute for about a minute. Add the drained rice, 1.5 cups of water & salt. Stir, cover and cook for about 10 minutes on medium low heat. When the rice is cooked soft, top it with fried cashews & serve with any raitha, curry, papad or just plain.

February 26, 2017

Old fashioned Banana Cream Pie

How to make an old fashioned banana cream pie

          This year, for my son's b'day; we decided to have home-made banana cream pie, instead of the usual birthday cake. It's not that weird, considering the fact that he has been asking us to pick up a banana cream pie every time we hit the grocery store for the last couple of months. So I figured, why not? Whatever makes him happy, is good enough for his birthday. This recipe is from my recipe dairy, probably noted down from a food network show. Top it with whipped cream or go all the way & drizzle some caramel sauce, and top it with shaved chocolate just for good measure.

         I made the pie crust from scratch with this recipe - Buttery & flaky pie crust and for my li'l one, who is a devoted chocolate lover I made some delicious Chocolate Brownies. If you ask him, there cannot be a celebration without something chocolatey :)

Ingredients for 8 to 10 servings:

3⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour or 2.5 tbsp of corn starch
1⁄4 tsp salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium firm & ripe bananas, sliced
1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked
Sweetened whipped cream or Cool Whip

Optional Toppings:

Caramel/Chocolate sauce
Chocolate shavings
Sliced bananas or berries


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a saucepan, combine sugar, flour, and salt; stir in milk and mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil; boil for 2 minutes.
  •  Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of cream mixture into egg yolks for tempering and pour the egg yolks slowly into the saucepan. 

  • Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly and remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla; mix well; allow to cool slightly. 
  • Place the sliced bananas evenly in pastry shell and pour cream/custard mixture over the bananas. 
  • Bake the pie for about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. 
  • Let it chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or two, before topping with whipped cream & serving in slices.
  • Cover loosely with foil/plastic wrap & use within 3-4 days under refrigeration.
Sharing this recipe with my friends at SriValli's CCC# 41: February -- Week 4.

February 12, 2017

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.

January 29, 2017

Poosanikai/Pumpkin Chutney

How to make Poosanikai/Pumpkin Chutney

          I bet we all get tired of the same old chutney varieties. I also like to incorporate  vegetables other than onions & tomatoes into my chutneys. So here's one version of the pumpkin chutney, which tastes more like poosanikai paruppu thuvayal, if you know what paruppu thuvayal  (dal chutney) tastes like. That recipe is for another post, cos' I have a story to go with it. This recipe is from one of Mallika Badrinath's cookbook's - Chutney Varieties; and is being shared with my groupies at - CCC# 40: January -- Week 4.

Ingredients for about 2 to 4 servings:

Chopped yellow Pumpkin/Poosanikai - 2 cups
Dry red chillies- 4 no:
Oil - 3 tsps
Kadalai paruppu/Bengal gram dal- 1.5 tbps
Thuvaram paruppu/Toor dal - 1.5 tbps
Salt to taste
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Urad dal - 1/4 tsp

Stove top Method:

  1. Heat a tsp of oil in a pan & fry the red chillies, toor dal, bengal gram dal until it turns golden brown & crisp.
  2. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate.
  3. Heat the pan again with a tsp of oil, add the chopped pumpkin pieces & roast for a few seconds & sprinkling some water, cover & cook until soft.
  4. Powder the roasted ingredients from step one with salt & then add the roasted pumpkin pieces. Grind to a coarse chutney.
  5. Heat a tsp of oil, add the mustard seeds, when mustard splutters add urad dal & curry leaves, fry for a few seconds, until crisp. Season the chutney with this & serve with idli, dosa or rice.

January 15, 2017

Kathirikai Rasavangi (eggplants cooked with toor dal & tamarind)

How to make Kathirikai/Brinjal Rasavangi

The "Samaithu Paar" books by S. Meenakshi Ammal were the first cookbooks my mom bought for me, to take with me into my newly wedded life. At that time, I had no clue how important these books were going to be for me, when I was all alone & far away from mom with no clue on how to cook. Boy! Some of the recipes truly saved my day during my first year of marriage. Especially, when I found that my hubby had been cooking for a few years and was a more experienced & better cook than me. Through trial & error, the recipes in the book taught me how to cook some traditional/homestyle recipes. Rest assured, you will be seeing quite a few recipes from this series throughout the year in my space. Sharing this healthy homestyle recipe with my friends at Valli's CCC# 40: January -- Week 2. The ingredients in this recipe reminds me of this delicious Paavakkai Pitlay, somehow.  


350 gms of tender eggplants/kathirikai, sliced
3/4th cup Toor dal/Red gram dal - pressure cooked until soft
1 lime sized ball of tamarind, juice extracted
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
2 tbsp, oil

To roast & grind:

2 tbsp Kadalai paruppu/Bengal gram
3 tbsp coriander seed
6 dried red chillies
4 tbsp grated coconut
1 tbsp, oil

For tempering:

1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp ulutham paruppu/black gram dal
1/8th tsp asafoetida powder
a sprig of curry leaves
2 red chillies
1 tbsp, oil

Stove top method:

  • Using a thick bottom pan, roast the bengal gram dal, coriander seeds, red chillies and grated coconut using a little oil, until crisp & aromatic. Let cool & powder finely & keep aside.
  • Cut the eggplant into slices. Heat oil and saute the eggplant in it for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until its almost cooked.
  •  Add the tamarind water to the eggplants and add enough additional water to cover. Add salt to taste and the turmeric powder, and bring to a simmer until the eggplant is tender.
  • Add the cooked toor dal and add the spice powder previously prepared, mix well & bring to a rolling boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • In another pan, heat some oil and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop, then add the urad dal and asafoetida powder. As the urad dal turns golden add the curry leaves, remove from the heat and add to the rasavangi. 
  • Serve hot with steamed rice.


  • Ash gourd can be used instead of eggplant. Use 2.5 cups chopped ash gourd, cook it in plain water and add the tamarind water to the cooked gourd.
  • Dried beans can also be cooked and used with either Eggplant or Ash Gourd Rasavangi.

January 1, 2017

Twisty Pesto Cheese Straws

How to make Twisty Pesto Cheese Straws

            Here's a quick & scrumptious recipe for your next party. I am glad I took the time to finally make these crispy, flaky, cheesy hors d'oeuvres from a Good Food magazine clipping (Dec 2013). I would love to customize this to the Indian palate, by adding a spicy alternative to pesto, next time. You can also easily turn this into something sweet for the young ones. The best part of it, is that its crisp on the outside, yet so soft when you bite into it. Kids just love these. Sharing this final recipe of the year, with my friends over at CCC# 39: December -- Week 5


(makes around 25 pcs)
5-6 oz, cream cheese
2 tbsp basil pesto sauce
1 lb/490g sheet puff pastry (2 sheets of frozen pastry sheets)
a little flour, for dusting
1 egg, beaten

  • Heat oven to 400°F. Tip the cream cheese and pesto into a bowl and mix well.
  • Unroll the pastry on a lightly floured surface and cut in half lengthways. Spread the pesto mix over one half, place the other piece of pastry on top to create a sandwich, then cut in half lengthways to create 2 long rectangles. Divide each rectangle into short strips, about 1cm thick. Twist each pastry strip and place on a baking tray lined with parchment.
  • Brush with egg and bake for 20 mins until risen and golden brown.

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