Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh What a Lovely Sunday Morning!

One Sunday morning, we woke up, stretched and yawned in our bed. There was a soft pitter patter outside and the air was nippy. Sundays are an excuse to relax and treat ourselves to a nice breakfast. The other days are mundane with the usual toast or cereal. M had a craving for pies, the ones from Romeo's Pies downstairs in our handy little Forum Plaza. So off we went, wrapping our coats closer, still yawning, and came back home with two piping hot pies. Made some hot frothy coffee, courtesy: the little 'mixer thingy', a gift from my dear MIL. It's like a tiny whisk that runs on batteries and is great for cappuccino.

Mmmm, oven fresh pies, hot coffee, the light drizzle outside and Sunday! You know what I mean :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Never judge a pumpkin by its looks!

M probably would say this to someone after he ate the pumpkin kootu I made the other day! He doesn't care much for the poor old plain veggie - the pumpkin. I don't really blame him, see he doesn't cook much and so he cannot do what I mostly do - work out a mental recipe while I look at veggies at the market. To him, it will always be the boring, plain looking, least appetising thing. To me, it's what in season now, fresh, in it's prime of life and cheap! So I was adamant to buy it and make something nice. I made this very very simple kootu (veggies cooked in a lentil and spice gravy) and it changed the way we look at pumpkins!

  • 2 cups diced (peeled) pumpkin - any variety. I used kent pumpkin - it's skin is green and has streaks of creamy yellow (see picture, source:
  • 1 cup cooked toor dal
For tempering -
  • 1 tbspn oil
  • 1/4 tspn mustard seeds
  • a pinch of hing
  • a few curry leaves
  • 2 red (dry) chillies
  • 1/4 tspn turmeric powder
  • 1 small onion, sliced
To grind into a paste -
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut (can use desiccated coconut as well)
  • a small piece of ginger
  • 3-4 green chillies
  • 1/2 tspn jeera (cumin seeds)
  • a handful of fresh green coriander/cilantro
  1. Microwave (or cook) the pumpkin till soft.
  2. Meanwhile, grind the ingredients mentioned above into a paste.
  3. Heat oil in a pot and add all the ingredients for tempering in the order mentioned above.
  4. Once the onion is cooked, add cooked pumpkin, cooked toor dal and the ground masala paste.
  5. Add salt to taste and water to adjust consistency. Kootu is generally a fairly thick gravy, so do not add too much water.
  6. Serve hot with rice and papad.
I'm so thrilled with this recipe, for two reasons - I can now incorporate pumpkin in our menu and M sheepishly accepted that it tasted good :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Festival of Lights!

The flame danced gently, washing the room with a soft glow. It whispered stories of faith and strength. It was as if it coaxed us to look deep inside ourselves and seek the pure light within...

Sigh! That's the magic of Deepavali. The humble light reminds us of much greater things in life than petty issues like wealth, material possessions and the like.

Yet, the heart refuses to forget the sweets and there's nothing 'light' about those! A sinfully generous dose of sugar and an extravagant use of ghee takes us to 'sweet heaven' almost instantaneously! I made Doodh Pedas (milk based sweet cakes) and 7 cups (no points for guessing the recipe).

Both were pretty easy to make, except I had to stir the 7 cups for quite a bit and I had NOT expected that :) Anyways, they turned out quite well, thank God for that! In fact, mum always says if something is made with a warm heart and good thoughts, it can't go wrong. Plus I had my confidante Ganesha's watchful eyes over me as I stirred and stirred over the hot stove. Exactly like I'd asked him to, he must've sprinkled in some magic sugar of his own :)

I found the recipe for the Pedas on and it was as easy and delicious as it looked there. Thanks to Hetal & Anuja!

And 'thanks mum' for the 7 cups recipe - 1 cup milk, 1 cup besan (chickpea flour), 1 cup coconut, 1 cup ghee and 3 cups sugar - voila! Although, I used only 2 cups sugar and just a little less than a full cup of ghee. Simply combine everything in a heavy bottomed pan and keep stirring. Work those arms until the whole mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan. Pour into a greased square cake tin and cut into desired shapes. Mine looked like little bricks, rough and rustic, although I would have preferred a smoother finish. Well, who cares still promises to take us to sweet heaven, in every single bite!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Recreated Meal: Missi Roti

I've always struggled with quantity and proportion while cooking. I often tend to make more than enough for the two of us, especially so for rice, dal, sambar, etc. I must admit, M is very cooperative and easy-going, so finishing off the excess over a couple of days hasn't been that big an issue. Still, at times we do get bored and I run out of creative ways to make it appealing - you know, garnish it with something interesting or simply mix everything with a dollop of ghee and lovingly (read cleverly, he he) hand it over to a distracted M as he watches do run out of these little escapades! And yesterday was one of those days - leftover dal, neither enough for the two of us nor too little to ignore. That's when, thankfully, Missi Roti made a flash appearance in my groaning mind. What a great way to use up that little bit of dal!

  • leftover dal - I mean in all its glory, spiced, seasoned and relished yesterday :) It doesn't really matter how much you have, although you'd need at least a cup of it.
  • wheat flour or atta
  • a little bit of salt to taste
  • optional - chopped onion, red chilli powder and chopped coriander. I say optional because, ideally the dal should have all of this, but just in case you want to enhance the flavour.
  1. Add as much flour as the dal will incorporate and knead into a soft dough. If the dal isn't enough and if you want to make a couple of more rotis, then add some warm water. If you're adding onion, etc, do that now, while you knead.
  2. Roll into rotis and cook both sides on a hot skillet with a drizzle of ghee.
  3. Warm 'n' soft missi roti is ready to be served with spicy pickle and yogurt.
What a relief! The dal has left my fridge and it left with a flourish.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monkey See Monkey Do :)

I've been quite busy these past couple of weeks, although I don't really know what I accomplished! But with Deepavali coming soon, I'm kind of excited and busy making some fun stuff to give as gifts. I'm planning to make the sweets/mithai tomorrow and I'll post the recipes if they turn out well :) But for now, it's just a quick post of these recipes I picked from the internet and tried out.

Kothu Parota from - this turned out quite well. I did not have the authentic Malay or Kerala Parotas, so I used store-bought chapathis.

The other recipe is for Nan Khatais from Manjula's Kitchen. I tried this with a friend and though we started with a flourish and had a lot of fun it did not end very well. Our baking skills were not at their best and let's just say the nan khatais looked pretty before they went into the oven. But the recipe sounds and looks good and Manjula aunty has loads of great recipes on her website.
So, that's it from me for now. Happy Deepavali everyone!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Herbs 'n' Spice & All Things Nice

The other day, I was out running a few errands and doing some shopping when I saw this at the entrance of a shop - 'Coriander 3 for $1'. Now, if you are an Indian living in Sydney you'll probably share my excitement about this. In my local supermarket I have to pay almost $3 for a bunch. I simply love, love, love fresh coriander. There is something endearing about it. The colour, flavour and smell of this humble herb can add so much more to a dish. I've also heard that it has blood purifying qualities. So all the more reason for me to stock my fridge with lots of fresh coriander. So, I went into this shop with my heart singing a little tune and found to my surprise that there were other herbs there too, all fresh and pretty cheap. So I ended up buying bunches of coriander, mint and dill, making my grocery bag look like as if I ripped it off from a patch of greens.

Back home, I was eager to include all that lush green stuff for lunch. So I decided to make akki rotti (flat, Indian bread) with all the herbs. It turned out really yummy and my kitchen smelt so heavenly!

Here's the recipe -

  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 1.5 cups chopped finely herbs - coriander, mint and dill
  • 2 green chillies, a piece of ginger and tspn of cumin seeds (jeera) - crushed in a mortar and pestle, you could even make a paste in the blender.
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • salt to taste
  1. Combine all the above ingredients in a large bowl and using enough water, make a soft pliable dough.
  2. Take a fistful of the dough and place it on a piece of baking paper (cut to a medium square or circle). Gently pat it into a fairly thin, round shape. Same as a chapathi, only you'll be using the pressure of your fingers instead of the rolling pin. M likes to call this 'rotti with unique finger print technology' :) Traditionally, a fresh banana/plantain leaf is used as the base and boy! do I miss that! Well, I have to make do with the next best alternative and I find baking paper convenient. You could even use a piece of thick plastic sheet, but with it comes the added challenge of burnt plastic, etc. So I choose to use baking paper and you'll know why in a minute :)
  3. Heat a skillet/griddle/tawa on medium heat. If yours is non-stick then you don't have to smear any oil on it. Place the baking paper, rotti side down on the hot skillet and wait for a couple of seconds before peeling it off. It comes off easily and you can start patting your next rotti on it.
  4. Drizzle a little bit of oil/ghee around the rotti as it cooks on the skillet. Turn around and cook on both sides until light brown.
  5. Serve hot with coconut chutney or chutney pudi and ghee.


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