Thursday, December 24, 2015

Phirni - A Traditional Rice Custard

 Though rice and milk are  common ingredients used in preparing various sweets and desserts, each one has its own texture, flavour and taste. A creamy, smooth and silky traditional Rice Custard called Phirni  is prepared using rice and milk. The joyful experience when a scoop of the richly flavoured Phirni  slides down one's palate can not be described in mere words!

Rice - 1/4 cup
Milk - 4 cups
Sugar - 1/4 cup
Cashew nuts - 6
Cardamom powder - 1 pinch
Chopped nuts, raisins and saffron strands for garnishing
1. Wash and soak rice for at least 2 hours.
2. Grind the soaked rice, cashew nuts and cardamom powder together into a very smooth paste adding little water if required.
3. Blend sugar and the rice and cashew paste together.
4. Boil 3 cups of milk in a thick bottomed vessel.
5. Lower the flame and blend the paste into the boiling milk stirring continuously so that no lumps are formed.
6. Cook the mixture till  it thickens and becomes shiny.
7. Add the 4th cup of milk and stir well and cook for another one minute.
8. Switch off flame and allow the custard to cool down to room temperature.
9. Pour the custard into a blender and whisk till it becomes smooth and light, for about 30 seconds.
10. Pour back the custard into a bowl and refrigerate for four hours.
11. Soak saffron strands in one teaspoon of warm milk and pour over the now set custard / Phirni along with the milk used for soaking.
12. Soak raisins in warm water to plump them up. Top the Phirni with plumped up raisins and chopped nuts.

Enjoy the creamy, smooth and silky Phirni / Rice Custard  with the Christmas feast.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Shenga Chutney Pudi - Spicy Peanut Powder


Listening to grand father's funny stories, singing together nursery rhymes, playing Antakshari, competing to get the cool drink bottles from the crates piled up in the isle of the bus, eating crunchy munchies prepared by aunts, enjoying the timely jokes cracked by uncles, sight seeing, shopping, learning the local History and Geography on father's insistence, peacekeeping between the squabbling children! Our family trip of four generations to Uttara Karnataka was filled with fun and adventure.  It was meal time when we reached Gulbarga where my cousin and his wife were stationed. We unanimously decided to finish our meals before we visited them since we did not want to invade their peaceful home  as a hungry army of  four generations! 
The couple insisted that we ate at least some  Chivda as we had visited them for the first time. We were amazed by the way my cousin's wife presented  the Chivda ! Bowls of Chivda with curds  topped with Shenga Chutney Pudi, which  tasted crunchy, creamy, sweetish, salty and spicy, all at the same time! It was a most welcome  dessert that  we enjoyed on that hot sunny day! My cousin's wife was very happy to share the recipe with us.
Peanuts/ Shenga / Kadalekai - 1 cup
Chickpeas/Chana dal - 2 tbsps
Fresh coconut gratings - 2 tbsps
Red chillies - 6
Curry leaves - 2 twigs
Tamarnid - a small marble size ball shredded
Garlic - two cloves (Or more if preferred) chopped
Asafoetida powder - 1 pinch
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Sesame oil - 1/4 tsp
1. Dry roast peanuts in a heavy bottomed pan on low flame till the nuts crack, and keep aside.
2. Dry roast coconut gratings similarly till it turns dry and keep aside.
3. Heat oil in the same pan and add Chana dal and red chillies and roast till the dal turns slightly red in colour.
4. Add garlic and curry leaves and roast till the curry leaves become crisp. The chick peas would have turned into a golden brown colour by now.
5. Add the shredded tamarind and roast for a few more minutes. The entire roasting should be done on low flame.
6. Add the asafoetida powder and roast till it gives out a pleasant aroma, and switch off flame.
7. Cool all the ingredients thoroughly.
8. Grind the ingredients roasted in sesame oil together into a powder.
9. Now add the roasted peanuts, roasted coconut gratings and salt, and blend only for a few seconds. You can add 1/4 tsp of jaggery powder at this stage which is optional.Stir the contents in the mixer and pulse for another 2 seconds till you get a delicious and coarse Shenga Chutney Pudi.
Relish the versatile and flavoursome Shenga Chutney Pudy with idlies, dosas and rotis. It can be relished with hot rice and ghee. You can use the spicy Pudi  as a topping for your curd or raita bowl or you can sprinkle it on the salad.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sabudana Wada - Sago Fritters

Our recent pilgrimage to Maharashtra doubled up as a food pilgrimage too as we had the opportunity to savour the most delicious Maharashtrian food. We enjoyed a hot, delicious and sumptuous meal on a highway hotel and were too stuffed to eat the Sabudana Wadas which arrived later. Hence we got them parceled so that we could have them during our tea break. The warmth of the parcel and the flavour that emanated from it were so irresistible, that we found ourselves munching them away as soon as the car took off to continue our journey! The crispy outside and  the soft interior with the unique crunch of peanuts was something out of the world! 
I am posting this recipe to celebrate  Kadkekai Parishe (Annual Groundnut Fair) happening at Bangalore today. I prepared the Wada dough before hand and left it in the refrigerator to set. Later shaped them into Wadas and fried them for the evening tea.
Sago / Sabudana/ Javvarisi - 2 cups
Potatoes ( Medium size) - 4
Peanuts - 1/2 cup
Onion ( Finely minced ) - 1/4 cup
Green chillies (minced) - 2 tsps.
Ginger (Minced) - 1tsp
Curry leaves ( minced) - 2 tbsps
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Oil - for frying
1. Wash and cover sago with water and allow to soak for 2 hours and then drain in a colander.
2. Pressure cook potatoes and allow them to cool.
3. Blend the peanuts coarsely using a mixer.
4. Peal the potatoes and grate them. Grating helps the Wada dough to have an even texture without any lumps.
5. Squeeze the sago and add it to the grated potatoes.
6. Add the peanuts, minced onion, green chillies, ginger, curry leaves and salt.
7. Mix all the ingredients together by gently kneading till they come together into a ball. 
8. Rest the Wada dough in the refrigerator.
9. Pinch out lemon size balls from the dough and shape them into Wadas.
10.Heat oil in a kadai and drop the Wadas gently in hot oil. Splash hot oil carefully on top of the Wadas using the ladle. Allow to cook for some time till the Wadas become stable and then flip to the other side. Cook till the Wadas become golden in colour. Cook them in small batches of threes or fours so that they do not stick together.
11.Remove the Sabudana Wadas using a perforated ladle and drain them on a colander or a tissue paper.
Enjoy the delicious Sabudana Wadas with mint or coriander chutney.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Badam Burfi - Almond Fudge

Badam Burfi is supposed to be a luxurious sweet which is prepared only on important and happy occasions like Deepavali. This rich fudge is a must while celebrating the first Deepavali (Talai Deepavali) of a newly married couple! These melt in the mouth Badam Burfies can be prepared very easily at home following a few simple steps.

Almonds - 1 cup
Sugar - 2 1/2 cups
Ghee - 2 tbsps
Cardamom - 2
1. Soak almonds in hot water for an hour.
2. Remove the skin of almonds and peel the cardamoms. 
3.Grind the almonds and cardamoms together into a thick and slightly coarse paste, using little water or milk or almond milk.

4.Grease a plate using little ghee and keep it ready.
5. Add one cup of water to the sugar and boil it in a heavy bottomed vessel.

6. When the syrup starts foaming with lots of bubbles,(known as Gejje Kodi stage - gejje means the small bells in an anklet, kodi is boil ) decrease flame.
7. Add the ground almond paste and blend thoroughly.

7. Cook on low flame stirring all the time till the almond paste and sugar syrup combine together to form a mass.
8. When the sugar starts to crystallize on the sides of the vessel, you can see the bubbles turning into  pits. 

9. Blend in ghee at this stage and immediately pour on to the greased plate.

10.Once it is still warm and softly set mark the squares using a sharp knife.

The Badam Burfies can be now easily removed and stored. 

Enjoy the flavoursome melt-in-the mouth Badam Burfies this Deepavali with family and friends.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tava Fried Vegetable Battalu Kadubu - Pan Fried Vegetable Cup Dumplings

Every week end my son-in-law picked up a parcel of  Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings from an eatery called Lok Lok Dumpling Bar located  in the Rhodes Waterside at Sydney. On hearing my description about the hot and luscious dumplings with  crisp bottoms my grand daughter was very much thrilled and at once we got all set to try out the recipe. We decided to make the dumplings using Jolada Hittu/ Sorghum flour and to my grand daughter's delight it turned out to be a healthy and delicious snack. 
Sorghum flour / Jolada Hittu - 1 cup
Salt - 1 pinch
Sesame oil - 1 tsp
1. Blend salt and the flour and keep aside.
2. Boil one cup of water along with sesame oil.
3.  Pour the boiling water over the flour and mix using a spatula.
4. Cover with a lid and keep aside.
 Finely grated carrots - 2 cups
 Salt - 1/4 tsp
 Pepper (Coarsely Powdered) - 1/4 tsp
 Sesame oil - 1 tsp
1. Heat oil in a pan and add the pepper powder followed by the carrot gratings.
2. Add salt and saute till the carrot is dry.
1. Knead the flour into a soft dough.
2. Take a lime size ball of the dough and shape it into a moderately thin cup ( Battalu). 

3. Place a table spoon of the carrot filling in the center.
4. Bring the edges together like a purse and press the corners together.

5. Similarly pull the opposite edges together and press to make the kadubu look like a four cornered cup or lamp.

6. Make more Battalu Kadubus using up all the dough and the filling.

7. Place the Battalu Kadubus in a steamer and steam them for 15 minutes.
Allow the Kadubus to cool down a little.
1. Arrange 6 kadubus in a greased pan.
2. Dribble ghee around each kadubu and cook on medium flame till the bottoms become golden and crisp.
Fresh coconut gratings - 1 cup
Salt -1/4 tsp 
Red chillies - 6
Grind all the above ingredients into a smooth paste.
Blend  the paste with one cup of sour curds to make the chutney.
Splutter 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds in one tsp of hot sesame oil and pour over the chutney.
Enjoy the Tava Fried Vegetable Battalu Kadubu with the spicy Coconut Chutney.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lemony Vazhaikai Porial - Raw Banana In Lemony Seasoning

The versatile Vazhaikai / Raw Banana can be cooked into various mouth watering dishes, especially the Porial varieties. Vazhaikai Porial seasoned with lime is a delicious variation which is very easy to prepare. Though I prepare this Porial often I realized that I had not posted the recipe yet. Here is the recipe for the Lemony Vazhaikai Porial.

Raw bananas - 3
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Split Black gram dal - 1/2 tsp
Split Bengal gram dal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Broken red chillies - 2
Curry leaves - a few
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Lime - 1
1. Chop and discard both the ends of the Vazhaikais and cut each one across into two or three pieces.
2. Cover with water and cook till the pieces are done. (Insert the tip of a knife into the white portion to check if it is cooked. The banana should not become mushy.)

3. Drain the cooked banana pieces and peel the skin.
4. Allow the peeled banana to cool down so that it is completely dry before grating.
5. Gently grate the cooled banana pieces (in one direction only) using a grater to retain the shape similar to that of long grain rice.

6.Heat oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds.
7.When the mustard seeds splutter add the dals, and fry till they are golden in colour.
8.Add the broken red chillies followed by asafoetida, turmeric powder and curry leaves.
9. Add salt, squeeze in the juice of lime and switch off flame.
10. Mix in the grated bananas gently into the seasoning and garnish with coriander leaves.

A delicious LEMONY VAZHAIKAI PORIAL is ready to be served.

Monday, September 21, 2015



It is heartening to see how the girls living in far away countries miss their favourite dishes they enjoyed back at home. The flavours of the tasty podis/spice powders enhanced by their mother's or grandmother's loving touch was something to die for! They are ever eager to share home made goodies brought by their visiting parents, among themselves. Dibs received one such precious Podi called Ounty Powder from one of her close friends. I started my 'recipe probe' regarding the powder with the strange name called Ounty! The Oun in the word  is pronounced similar to OM as in Aum.I obtained the recipe and learnt that it is a Kuzhambu Podi known as Ounty Bhurko in Sourashtra language.  It is usually prepared in bulk and stored in air tight containers.It can stay fresh for months without any loss of flavour.
I tried out the recipe of Ounty ( Kuzhambu) Bhurko (Powder), and it turned out to be a super  flavoursome kuzhambu powder. I used the powder to make Tomato Ounty / Tomato Kuzhambu which all of us enjoyed with our dosas.

Here is how I prepared the Sourashtrian Ounty Bhurko, and the Tomato Ounty using the flavoursome Ounty Bhurko.


Coriander seeds - 1 cup
Red chillies -  5
Rice - 1/4 cup
Split Black gram dal - 1/4 cup
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tbsp ( Turmeric sticks are used in bulk preparation)
1. Dry roast all the ingredients together (except the turmeric powder) on medium flame till they become crisp and emanate a very pleasant flavour.
2. Cool the roasted ingredients and then grind them together into a smooth powder.
3. Add turmeric powder and blend once more.
Allow the powder to cool down before storing in a clean air tight jar.

Onion - 1
Ripe and red tomatoes - 2 big
Green chilly - 1
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Salt - 1 tsp
1. Chop onion and green chilly finely.
2. Wash and chop the tomatoes into small cubes. 
3. Heat oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds.
4. When the mustard seeds splutter add the curry leaves, chopped green chilly and onion.
5. Saute till the onion becomes translucent.
6. Add the tomatoes.
7. Stir in salt and cover and cook till the tomato becomes slushy.
8. Remove lid and keep cooking till the oil comes out.
9. Mix the OUNTY BHURKO in half a glass of water and pour it into the kadai.
10. Stir well and cook till the OUNTY/KUZHAMBU thickens. Add more water and cook if the gravy is too thick.

Garnish with coriander leaves and enjoy the flavoursome Sourashtrian TOMATO OUNTY with Idlies or Dosas.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Kashundi - A Mustard Relish From Bengal


 I was horror struck  when a sharp, hot and pungent sting hit my nostrils as it raced through my palate and rocketed beyond! I found myself breathless and fumbling for water, water and more water ! Yes, I had just tasted a spoon of 'Kashundi' which was just then freshly prepared by Dibs! I was stupefied when I learnt that the Bengali Mustard Relish had to be savoured very little at a time, that too along with the main course! How did I forget the Tamil adage 'Kadugu siruttaalum kaaram kuraiyaadu'?  Meaning  'Mustard is miniscule, but its heat is not!'
This miniscule spice which pops up in the seasoning of every day cooking in every Indian household has been in cultivation in India since the time of Indus Valley Civilization. I have used the ancient spice in powdered form in my pickles, or ground only about a spoon with coconut and chillies for my Sasves or Mor Kuzhambus. I was amazed when I found out that Kashundi - a creamy and appealing dish from Bengal - was an out and out Mustard preparation. It can be added to various dishes similar to other masalas while cooking. It can also be relished as a pickle or dip with  meals and snacks.
Traditionally the ingredients were placed on a rough and heavy stone slab called Shil in Bengali (Ammi Kal in Tamil). A cylindrical stone called Noda in Bengali ( Kuzhavi in Tamil ) was rhythmically rolled over the ingredients till they were crushed and ground  to a paste drawing out excellent  flavours.
Here is how Dibs prepared the lip smacking, flavoursome Bengali Mustard Relish -  KASHUNDI using her blender.

 Mustard seeds (Black / White) - 2 cups
Mustard oil - 1 cup
White vinegar - 1/2 a cup
Salt - 1 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Bhoot Jolokia also known as Ghost Pepper - 1 or Green Chillies - 5 to 6
( Beware Bhoot Jolokia or the Assamese chilly is one of the world's hottest! You can replace it with  normal green chillies if you are not game for the super hot 'bhoot' !)
1. Soak the mustard seeds in vinegar and little water overnight.
2. Add salt, sugar, turmeric powder and green chillies to the mustard-vinegar mixture, and grind all the ingredients together into a paste. ( It can be slightly coarse or very smooth as per your requirement).

3. Little more water can be added  as required if the paste is too thick.
4. Pour in the mustard oil when the paste is done and blend once again.
5. Store the Kashundi in a clean air tight glass jar.
The antibacterial property of the Mustard seeds acts as a preservative and lends Kashundi a long shelf life. 
Savour only very little at a time. Dipping a finger in the Relish for every morsel of Rice and dal  (Dal Chawal) is the best way to enjoy Kashundi. Thanks to the guidance of my son-in-law ! I have now learnt to relish the Bengali KASHUNDI with every meal and 'tiffin' too without the least bit of hesitation!

Thursday, July 2, 2015


 Long drives! Picnics! Delicious and innovative dishes prepared by Dibs! These have always been the highlights of my Sydney visits ! Our latest picnic destination was Cattai National Park.

Cattai National Park is a beautiful reserve forest along the Hawkesbury river in New South Wales. It is densely vegetated with varieties of  giant trees belonging to the Eucalypt family, and other evergreen trees and foliage. As we zoomed through , we peered out hoping  to spot the hidden wild life . The first encounter we had was with a fox with a shimmering golden brown coat which crossed the road as we entered the park.  Pacific Black ducks, Purple Swamp Hens and other water fowls thronged the wharf. 

A sort of  dense silence prevailed in spite of the  screeching  Noisy Miners. Dibs spotted a Rozella and Rainbow Parakeets fluttered everywhere. There were different species of cockatoos too.Though it is winter there was enough sunshine, and we were comfortable enough  to walk and enjoy the beauty of the park. 

The walking trails lead us through bushes and shrubs where we were taken by surprise by herds and herds of Wallabies.

We silently jumped with excitement when we saw a herd wallowing in the sun.

 We clicked and clicked our cameras and mobiles until they slowly disappeared into the bushes as if they were tired of posing ! 


Finally we were very hungry when we reached the picnic area, ready to wolf down the surprise meal assembled  by the dynamic Dibs, on the spot !
 This is how the ensemble looked !

And now for the recipe -
Sweet Potatoes - 4 big
 Gram flour / Besan - 2 tbsps
Ghee - 2 tbsps
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder - 1 pinch
1. Wash, peel, cook and mash the sweet potatoes smoothly.
2. Heat ghee, add Besan and roast till it emanates a pleasant aroma.
3. Mix in the rest of the spice powders and salt.
4. Finally add the sweet potato mash and stir the 'spread'  till it comes together into a ball.
Store in a clean and dry box.
Sorghum flour/ Jolada hittu - 4 cups
Rajgira flour - 1 cup
Salt - 1 tsp
Sweet potato spread -2 tbsp
Ghee - 2 tbsps
1. Mix Sorghum / Jola flour, Rajgira flour and salt together with the sweet potato spread. 
2. Add boiling water little by little and mix  the dough till it comes together. Use a wooden spoon or spatula for mixing. 
3.Cover and leave it aside till it cools down. When the dough is comfortable enough to handle ,  knead it into a smooth dough adding ghee. Allow to stand for about ten to fifteen minutes.
4. Cover a baking tray with a sheet of foil and grease it with ghee.
5. Place the big ball of dough in the middle of the sheet.
6. Roll out evenly, a huge 1/8 inch thick Rotti using a rolling pin.
7. Smear some ghee all over the big rectangular Rotti and bake till it becomes golden
brown and crisp on the edges.


Allow to cool and cut the Baked Jolada Rotti into rectangular pieces and store in a clean dry box.
Spread a spoon of Sweet Potato Spread on a  piece of baked Jolada Rotti .
Top it with a slice of tava roasted Halloumi Cheese and baked baby potatoes.
Besides  Onion slices, Tomato rings and cut Cucumber pieces , place a large serving of assorted green leaves salad and pickled jalapenos on the side ! 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Grilled Akki Rotti With Sprouts - Grilled Flat Bread With Rice Flour And Sprouts

I was awed by the the conventional foods dished out by Dibs, using unconventional cooking methods in record time ! Grilled Akki Rotti with Sprouts is a nutritious, crisp and chewy version of the traditional Akki Rotti that she makes often. My five year old grand daughter loves to take a wedge of this tea time snack to her kindy. It is most enjoyable with a hot cup of 'tea time' coffee ! This is how she prepares it.

Rice flour - 2 cups( Just enough to bind all the ingredients)
Sprouted Moong dal - 2 cups
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Finely chopped green chillies - 1 tbsp
Finely chopped fresh ginger - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Finely chopped Kale - 1 cup
Kasoori Methi - 1 tbsp
Ghee - 2 tbsps
1.First mix all the ingredients together except the rice flour.
2.Mix in the rice flour and bind the ingredients together into a soft spreadable dough adding water little by little. 
1. Apply ghee liberally and grease the ribbed cast iron pan thoroughly. 

2. Spread the dough into a one inch thick rotti in the greased pan.
3. Sprinkle some more ghee on top of the spread dough.
4. Grill for 20 minutes or till the Akki Rotti turns into a golden brown colour.
5. When done, remove from the oven and cut into wedges using a sharp knife.
Enjoy with chutney or any other spread you like. It tastes super delicious even without the dips. 

We finished the entire Rotti straight from the oven, before we could even click the cut wedges !