Dec 14, 2009

Black rice and Lychee dessert...

Okay now i am not sure how many of you are familiar with 'Black rice'. In case if you have not i thought i shall just add few information about it.

Black rice is one of several black-colored heirloom plants producing rice variants such as Indonesian Black Rice, forbidden rice, or wild rice. High in nutritional value, forbidden rice is rich in iron. Unlike other black rice from Asia, it is not glutinous or rough. This grain is high in fiber and has a deep, nutty taste. Black forbidden rice is a deep black color and turns deep purple when cooked. Its dark purple color is primarily due to its high anthocyanin content [1] [2]. It has a relatively high mineral content (including iron) and, like most rice, supplies several important amino acids. - Courtesy WiKipedia

Here it is called as 'Kavini Arisi'. Actually i don't know what it means but it is used quiet popularly in the Chettiar households of South India. It should be easily available in the Asian stores.

Some of the dishes that can be made using kavini arisi/ Black rice is Sweetened version like a pudding, or Halwa which is a fudge like dessert or Kheer which is a syrupy dessert.

What is traditionally made at home is a 'Kavini Arisi Payasam'/ Kheer. The rice is broken and ground to a paste which is again cooked and sweetened and flavoured with cardamom.

But i have an interesting recipe which is a fusion of Thai and Indian.

Basically the rice is cooked and diluted with thick coconut milk. I add Rose syrup or Rosewater and bits of Lychees to it. I simply love the nutty taste of this rice which is further enhanced with sweet smelling rose syrup and juicy lychees. It tastes divine the second day.

I urge you to give it a try because it is unusual and will surely be enjoyed.

I used

1 cup black rice
2packets coconut milk - 400ml
Rose water - 2 to 3 tbsp
1/2 cup milk
sugar to taste
Tinned Lychees

Soak the rice overnight...

Boil 3 cups of water and pressure cook the rice till it turns nice and mushy..
You can use a masher to mash it up a little bit.

Now let the rice to cool for some time.

Add sugar , boiled milk and one packet of coconut milk and rose water and leave in the refrigerator to chill. When it has chilled completely add the second packet of coconut milk and give it a stir.

Chop the lychees into bits and mix it up.

Serve chilled.

Corn and Broccoli in Bechamel sauce...

'Bake' is what this dish is very fondly called at home. Baking is not a common method of cooking especially in south Indian cuisine. I cant think of any dish which calls for baking at all. OTG was a much feared and occasionally used by which I mean 'used for occasions' sort of gadget at home. I know i sound quiet primeval.

My cakes and bakes are popular now ... but i alone know how many have gone down the drain to have finally made it to the table.

Anyway coming back to the 'Bake'... It is basically vegetables in bechamel sauce , topped with loads of cheese and baked. Normally 'cauliflower bake' is what is popular at home. But personally i like corn and spinach or corn and broccoli .

I do it very often as it is a big hit with my boys . Frankly i dont remember anybody disliking this dish . It can be made a day ahead and baked just before serving and also it sits pretty on any party table.

Some people like to flavour their bechamel sauce with garlic and bay leaves but mine is just plain milk and roux combined, and heated to get this creamy white smooth sauce. Only thing one needs to watch out for is to not let it form lumps .

This tastes best with garlic bread.

What you will need is a nice fresh head of broccoli.. and a tin of sweet corn. I used Green giant Sweet corn kernels.

Cut the broccoli into tiny florets and you can either steam them or blanch them.

Now to make the Bechamel sauce you will need :

3 heaped tbsp of butter
2 heaped tbsp of plain flour
salt to taste
500ml of milk

Heat a pan and melt the butter. Now add the plain flour and fry it till the raw smell changes and it becomes light brown.

Take the pan off the flame and keep it on a surface and add the milk (I use slightly warm milk).. while simultaneoulsy whisking it briskly . Return the pan to the flame and heat it and allow the sauce to thicken. Add salt to taste.

Now combine the corn and broccoli in the white sauce.

And pour it in an attractive oven proof dish..

Now top it with a liberal helping of cheese ... i like to use a combination of cheddar and mozzarella if i am going to serve immediately. Else i just use plain cheddar. Also dot it with tiny blobs of butter .

Now bake it in an 180 degree oven for about 20 to 25 mins till it begins to bubble and browns on top.

Garnish with tomato slices and basil . Serve with warm garlic bread.

Nov 26, 2009

Minty coconut drink...

Having grown up in the land of coconuts i must admit i do have a soft spot for them and use it quiet liberally and lovingly in my cooking. Its delicate flavour, and the creamy texture gives an instant lift to any dish. Very often it helps to remedy goof ups , in my case i should say almost everytime. I am quiet poor in my judgements with salt u see! So cooking without coconuts would certainly make me go nuts!

What i am going to share with you is a supremely simple tender coconut drink with zingy lemon and mint flavouring. My favourite part in this recipe is that i get to use the meat too.

I took ..

Tender coconut water - 1 large glass

juice of half a lemon

sugar according to taste

crushed ice as much as you want

meat of one coconut

very finely cut mint leaves...

Now pour the coconut water, lemon juice , meat of the coconut and sugar in a blender and blintz it just twice...

Fill the glass with crushed ice and pour it over and top it with freshly chopped mint and enjoy!!!

Nov 11, 2009

Chocolate Cup Cakes...

NOV is a month of birthdays ! at least in my calendar. So my dear friend 'C'who hates to celebrate birthdays had no choice but to take us in when a bunch of us stood at her door with goodies and tiny birthday slogans !. She is plain embarrassed she says!. But would that stop us from baking cakes and cards and gifts ! No never!.

'L'my other friend baked a beautiful orange flavoured cake with dotty dates chips in them. It was so light and full of flavour!. Now i am going to pester her for the recepie! Honestly it was so good!..

I made chocolate cup cakes!!.

I adapted this from Hershey's recipe and absolutely loved it. I liked it for two reasons . One it did not have even an ounce of butter in it and secondly it called for basic ings.. nothing exotic.

It turned out super moist and super soft. I think it is a must have recipe for all cup cakes fans like me. I adore cup cakes!!.

Choco Cup Cakes

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups cocoa
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup veg oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water


Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder,b.soda and salt in a large bowl.

Add eggs, milk , oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of of hand mixer for 2 mins.

Stir in boiling water and continue to mix. ( Batter will be thin)

Pour batter into the prepared muffin cups

Fill 2/3 cups and bake for 20 to 22 mins

Cool completely.

They taste good with out icing or frosting. But those of you who don't mind can dip them in Ganache and enjoy them with a blob of ice cream...

For the Ganache

1/4 cup cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tbsp unsalted butter

Heat cream till steaming

Remove from heat and add chocolate and let it stand for 5 mins

Add the butter and stir till smooth.


Nov 3, 2009

Pasta with Meditteranean vegetables

After crazy few weeks life seems to be returning to some normalcy. Highlight of this month was last week I celebrated my 13 yrs of bliss with my dear 'P' who took me out for a lovely dinner. Normally the tradition is a quiet dinner at some place far and serene. This time we decided to take the boys along. So i had to explain what the occasion was to them only to have them disappointed that they were not invited for the wedding.

It was a huge spread on the buffet which had Thai, bit of Italian , German and even Burmese food. What i liked about this buffet was that the menu had lot of new things that one would usually not expect. Like barbecued ham with prune sauce, steamed whole fish with lime and ginger sauce, khaosuey, barbecued chicken with schnitzel, baked gulab jamun and many more ..... boy! it was quiet a spread. I didn't know when to stop... shame on me!.

The second best thing that happened to me this week was the stock of fresh organic vegetables that this friend sent me over from his farm. All my favourites.. Zucchini, red and yellow peppers, and mushrooms... I was all set to make Ratatouille then i decided to do a pasta instead.

It is super simple with squishy and juicy vegetables sauteed in lots of garlic and tomato sauce.
It surely is a quick fixer and very very satiating particularly on a hungry day.

Zucchini - 1/2 chopped
Red pepper - 1/2 seeded and cubed
Yellow pepper - 1/2 seeded and cubed
Mushrooms - 10 sliced
Tomato - 3 medium - boiled, peeled and pureed
Passata - 1 tbsp
Olive oil - generously
Garlic - 4 finely chopped
Dried Thyme - 1 tbsp
Whole wheat pasta - 2 cups cooked

Heat oil and add the garlic and saute till light brown.

Add the vegetables and cook for few mins.

Add the pureed tomato and passata and cook till the vegetables become squishy and soft. I like my vegetables half done...

Now add thyme and saute for few more min..

Toss in the Cooked whole wheat pasta an let the sauce coat the pasta. Serve with Parmesan shavings.

Oct 15, 2009

coorg chicken curry....

Pandemonium - pan -duh - mo-ne-um : wild uproar or unrestrained disorder; tumult or chaos

That is what my household is right now.noisy, chaotic and people hammering and drilling all the time. We just shifted to a new house. Now that explains my sudden missing in action doesn't it. Anyway with 90 percent of work being complete there is still no semblance of returning to normal life.

House in Coorg...

Midst of all this we managed to sneak a trip to Coorg which is near Mysore in Karnataka . Coorg is famous for many things -' Coffee','pepper' 'Rain 'and 'Pork curry'. Now calling it 'rain' in Coorg is an understatement because it is hardly mild and it is always a downpour. It is most of the time wet or chill...This time of the year is great to visit . P and I visit coorg once in three months but this is our first time with the boys.

What fascinated the boys most was the fire place in the house .... They were thrilled to bits and loved the idea of burning fire inside the house. As far as P and me , we enjoyed our pork curry and kadubu which is a steamed rice cakes.

Coorg cuisine is an interesting mix of kerela and karnataka. Predominantly meat eaters, they also have interesting vegetables like Bamboo shoot, wild mushrooms and wild mango curry.

We had a very interesting chicken curry in a friends house and she was nice enough to share it with me.

Let me warn u before hand - This is a dynamite... Chilly hot!!!!.. but heavenly and goes well with rotis and rice.

1. Marinate one kilo of chicken in lime juice, and salt and leave it over night.
2.Heat 2 tbsp oil and add 1 tbsp cumin, 1 1/2 tbsp pepper, 6 to 7 cashew nuts, 1 inch ginger,8 cloves garlic, 10 shallots and fry for few mints.
3. Then add 3 tbsp of red chili powder and 1 heaped tbsp of coriander powder and fry for few more mins...

Now turn off the heat and let it cool...Grind this mixture into a fine paste. This is the base for the chicken Curry.

Heat oil and add 2 chopped onion and few curry leaves. Then add the chicken and fry it for a while. Add a heaped tsp of turmeric powder and 1 finely chopped tomatoes. Continue to cook the chicken. Now add in the ground paste and salt and cook on high flame for a few mins...

Cook the chicken on a slow flame now and fix yourself a nice cool lemonade and relax...

After about 20 mins .. check on your chicken. The gravy should have reduced to a consistency.

Now you may garnish with lemon wedges and coriander leaves and enjoy it with steaming rice!!!

Sep 2, 2009

Pasta sauce

Actually iam not a big fan of red sauces. Pesto sauce and pasta aglio e olio are my favourite which is full of flavour and simple ingredients.Once i tasted pesto i never tried any other sauce. I am totally in love and committed to my pesto.
I guess the raw smell of the tomatoes is not very appetising for me i thought...

First time i tried out this recipe and surprisingly i liked it. Mainly because it is so simple and uncomplicated and surely didn't smell raw. Pasta with garlic bread ! Certainly a union made in heaven...

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot or 1/2 large carrot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 3/4 pound of fresh tomatoes, boiled ,peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 teaspoon passata
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method :

1.Heat olive oil in a large wide skillet on medium heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot and parsley. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened and cooked well.

2. Remove cover and add the minced garlic. Increase the heat to medium high. Cook for garlic for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes. Add the passata and the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat and cook on slow flame for a good 20 to 30 mins.

3.Makes about 2 1/2 cups of sauce.

Aug 30, 2009

steamed and sauted pearly rice dumplings...

Okay here comes another favourite snack of my boys , actually mine too. These are mini rice dumplings called kozhukattai's in Tamil. They make superb tea time snack. If u want to impress your guests with something totally new then,you should give this a shot. This is not a commonly done dish even here.

At home it is n and p who help me roll out these mini kozhukattai's with their tiny little hands which makes it even more adorable. They enjoy this activity completely and for me it is job done.

You can make it absolutely non spicy for kids or make it hot and chilly for adults.

you will need

For the kozhukattai -

Rice flour - 1cup
salt to taste
oil - 1 tsp
hot boiling water - as required

To the rice flour add enough salt, oil and boiling water, a little at a time and keep stirring to form a stiff dough . It should look like this.

Now comes the interesting part. Take dough a little at a time and roll them out into tiny round this..

Now place them in a steamer and steam it for about 10 mins. They will look beautiful and glistening like this..

For sauteing you will need

Mustard - 1/2 tsp
Cumin - 1tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves a few.
Dried Red chillies - 2

Heat a tsp of oil and add urad dal, mustard, cumin, red chillies and curry leaves and let it splutter and brown a little bit. Now toss in the dumplings and check for salt and give it a good toss. At this stage for the dare devils you may add plain chili flakes ....

Kozhukattai ready ... enjoy!!

Aug 15, 2009

pomegranate cooler....

Temperature in Chennai continues to mount and refuses to show any sign of mercy. Past two days has been really bad. Last evening the three musketeers,boys and me , went to the beach in an attempt to fly kites and get some breeze. mm.. mm. hard luck. No breeze and no kites. Finally we dunked in the sea and cooled ourselves.

Got back home and was yearning for something chill and refreshing. Ransacked my fridge for fruits and found pomegranate. Didn't want the plain old pomegranate juice . So i added few this and that and yep it was quiet refreshing and interesting. So i thought i will share it with u all.

Pomegranate cooler

Pomegranate juice - 1 cup
Ginger juice - 1/2 tsp
honey - 1tbsp
Rose water/orange blossom - 2tbsp
sugar - if needed
mint - very very finely chopped

1. Blintz all the above ingredients.
2. Check for sweetness
3. Top with ice cubes and finely chopped mint.

and sip.. sip... sip.

Aug 12, 2009

pretty pulao....

This time i decided to do a pulao. Honestly pulao is a very muddled up dish especially in the south. Any flavoured rice - has just one name and that is 'Biriyani', atleast from where i come from. It can be brinjal biriyani, tomato biriyani, mutton biriyani..and so on.

Pulao to me has to be mild and flavoured and not overpowering with too much spices and masala....And my pulao's has to be white . Talk about mind blocks!

It is such a versatile dish and there is so much space to get innovative.
There is nothing more comforting than a mild falovoured rice with a good curry... won't you agree..

Vegetale pulao:

Cloves -4
Cardamom - 3
Bayleaf - 2
Cinnamon - 2 sticks

Seasoning:Cumin seeds - 1 1/2tsp
Peppercorns - 1tsp
Cumin pdr - 1/2 tsp
Corriander pdr -1/2 tsp
Onion - 1 finely chopped sp
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tsp
G- chillies chopped - 1tsp
Mint leaves -1/2 cup chopped
Corriander leaves - 1/2 cup chopped
Yoghurt - 1/2 cup

Vegetables:Chopped carrots -1
Peas - 1/2 cup
Chopped potates - 2

Rice - 2 cups soaked


First soak the rice .

Heat 2 tbsp of oil and add all the spices. Then add chopped onion and saute till pink. Add G & G paste and saute further for aout 2 mins. Add green chillies followed by mint and cilantro. Add cumin pdr and corriander pdr. I added some chilli pdr as well but it is optional.

Now add the vegetables and saute . Add about 1/2 cup of yoghurt. Cook till the masala is coated well on the vegetables. Keep aside.

Now switch on the rice cooker and pour 4 cups of water and wait till it comes to a boil. Then add the rice and the gravy and give it a stir. Add salt to taste and cover it up.

When the rice is cooked gently fork it to fluff it up and serve with nice chilled raita.

You can also garnish the pulao with birishta/fried onion .

Jul 31, 2009

Parmesan muffins !!!!!

Muffins are adorable. They are so comforting and so easy to make. My boys love it and i make it very often for them to snack at school. Generally i make them with various fruit combinations like banana, orange or carrot& cinnamon. But this recipe is something very different and i adapted it from cinaras place and was greatly pleased. I read the recipe and saw ...Parmesan & oregano,what more do i need ... I was already in the kitchen trying it out. The original recipe calls for wheat flour. First time i tried it with wheat flour and the second time with plain flour. Honestly i liked plain flour better than wheat. It wasn't bad but still plain flour was better.

They are more like breakfast muffins. Heat them up , slice it and lather it up with a big blob of butter and mmmmmm.... .....

Parmesan Muffins :
(adapted from Cinarasplace)You will need:

2 cups : Plain flour
1tsp of sugar
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate
1 tsp oregano
1/4th cup of Parmesan grated
1 1/4th cup of buttermilk
1/4th cup of butter melted
1 large egg
grated cheese for topping


1.In a bowl mix the flour, sugar,baking powder, soda , oregano and grated Parmesan and mix well.
2. Add the buttermilk, melted butter and egg.
3. Mix only until incorporated.
4. divide into 12 muffin cups to 1/3rd capacity.
5. sprinkle grated cheese on top.
6. Bake in oven at 200 *c for 15 mins.

Jul 29, 2009

Sardine curry with red rice

Sardines as far as i know is one of the easily disliked variety of fish around. My!! what a way to start a post. They are messy to eat, they stink and totally unappetising . Why would anyone like to eat Sardines!

Wait till you read this. This humble fish is truly incredible. It has extraordinary health benefits to offer that i have completely changed my opinion about them.

Sardines have very high concentration of omega3 fatty acids. They are considered to be one of the best sources of omega 3's around surpassed only by few other fishes.Now we all know that Omega 3 fatty acids are poly-unsaturated fatty acids and a diet rich in omega 3 helps reduce bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol.

Because of their size they have less accumulated toxins compared to larger fishes , such as tuna which immediately becomes safer to eat.

And of course they are great source for Vitamin D and Calcium.

They are also inexpensive and readily available that We don't have to opt for tinned ones .

I have found an interesting way of eating sardines. I learnt to make a thin gravy from a Mallu friend and i eat with Red rice and papadam. It is grrrreat!!!!

Ings :

Sardines - 500gms

For paste:
Coriander powder - 2tbsp
Red chillies - 10
Turmeric powder - 1tsp
ginger - 1 " piece
3 fat cloves of garlic
150 gms of coconut

For Tempering :
Coconut oil - 2tbsp
few curry leaves
sliced shallots - 9
1" ginger julienned
green chillies - 3 sliced
Kokum - 3 to 4
250 ml hot water.

1. Clean the sardines and set aside.
2. Grind the ings for the paste either in a pestle or in a food processor.
3. Soak the Kokum in a small bowl of hot water.
4. Heat the coconut oil over moderate heat and toss in the mustard seeds followed by curry leaves, shallots ginger and chillies. When the onions are golden , tip in the kokum. This is a sour fruit mainly used in the coastal part of south India. This will add a tang to the curry.
5. Bring it to simmer and and stir in the ground spice pate. Add 250 ml of hot water and simmer for 10 mins, until the sauce thickens mildly.
6. Add the cleaned fish to the pan, and continue cooking further for 10 - 15 mns until the sauce has reduced and sardines are tender.

Serve with hot red rice.

Jul 21, 2009

swedish tosca cake...

'P' is a huge fan of pastries and cakes.... and he has an impeccable sense to pick the right ones too. I guess that is because everytime we decide to travel i dig the books to discover culture and places to visit ,while he has just one mission - that is 'food'and places to eat.
When we were in Stockholm we had this lovely swedish tosca cake in a bistro.Actually he called for the cake and i being the fusspot that iam, called for green tea and shamelessly ended up gobbling most of it. What i liked about this one was that
it was light and had this amazing chewy flaked almond topping ...

It took me less than five mins flat to put it together .... You will know why....

Ings :
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1tsp baking powder
1 cup melted butter
1tsp almond essence


1/2 C sugar
1/2 C butter
1/2 C flaked almonds
1tbsp milk
1 tbsp flour


1. Whisk together the eggs and sugar to a nice creamy mix..
2. Add the flour and melted butter and combine well.
3. Now add the almond essence and pour it in a lined 9 " spring tin.
4. Bake for 30 mins in a 180 degree oven.

For the topping ...

Melt butter and put all the other ingredients and mix it.. Dont let it boil though.
Quickly pour it on top of the cake and broil it. Dont step aside , keep a watch and remove when it turns golden brown on top. Actually the sugar caramalizes at this stage and the almonds get mildly roasted and the result is this....

Enjoy it with a nice cup of tea or coffee... I had mine with a refreshing green tea.

Tosca anyone???...

Jul 1, 2009

Pineapple and cucumber Gazpacho..

After a great week of practically no cooking at home,iam happy to return to my kitchen. Well it was a week of birthday and get togethers.

It was P's birthday on the 29th... We badly wanted to go out for dinner with my twin beasts... The summer heat was not one bit inspiring to leave home.... finally we did and decided to go to 'UpperDeck' in 'Fisherman's cove'.. It is a beautiful hotel set on the remote shores of the east coast. It was here that i had this amazing cucumber and avocado gazpacho... God i cant tell u how incredibly comforting it was!!! Since then i have been attacking my cookbooks and churning and chilling various combinations that 'p' left town till iam done with my affair with gazpacho . Today i tried one with Pineapple and cucumber.... It was gorgeous.

I Used ..
2 cups chopped pineapple
2 cups chopped cucumber
1 1/2 tbsp chilli chopped
1 1/2 tbsp scallions chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup of pineapple juice
1-2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
2 tbsp extra virgin olve oil
1/4th cup raw macadamia nuts..

In a blender process 1 cup pineapple and 1 cup cucumber along with chillies, scallion,limejuice,pineapple juice and salt at high speed till smooth.
At this point check for salt and chilli and correct seasoning.

Add the remaining cucumber, pineapple,cilantro and olive oil and just slush it. We want the gazpacho to be chunky. Stir in the nuts and drizzle olive oil and serve chill. I did not have macademia so i used pine nuts which was good too...