Thursday 25 April 2013

Cream Fruit Salad

Assorted fruits & nuts in Cream

This is a post that has been in my drafts for a week, the one which I had planned to post before I started to India. But in the hurry burry of the packing & cleaning & last minute shopping & preparations, I did not get time. Yes, this was a sudden twist in the normal vacation plan of ours. We had to start 2 weeks ahead of our anticipated plan & that too in a notice of 5 days.. So u can imagine the work package that come with it :D But anyways happy to get an extended vacation & enjoyment in the scorching heat of South India !! 

So back to the post, this is a very simple & quick dessert that can be prepared with the available fruits & nuts at hand. I had it at my friend Rameena's place & immediately fell in love with it. And so one day when I had a craving I messaged her for the recipe.. I knew it was a simple one, but wanted to get it right, exactly like hers ;) You know, this is an easy way to feed fruits to kids & also even adults too !! So, off to the recipe ;)

I Took: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 ppl

I Used:

Cream - 300 ml
Vanilla Essence - 1 tsp
Sugar - 3 tbsp or As Needed
Mango - 1 no
Apple - 1 no
Honey dew - ½ a normal sized fruit
Almonds - As Needed
Cashews - As Needed
Raisins - As Needed

The Way:

  1. Whip up the cream with sugar & vanilla essence till it gives a nice foamy texture
  2. Cut the fruits into cubes as for fruit salad and add it to the whipped up cream
  3. Add the chopped nuts and give a mix. This tastes more heavenly when you roast the nuts in a little ghee before adding to the whipped up cream
  4. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight as time permits & serve chilled


You can use any fruit & nut of your choice. I used the ones that I had available that day !!


Thursday 18 April 2013

Sambar | Kerala style Sambar (Without Coconut) | Varutharacha Sambar | Arachuvitta Sambar

There was a time when I never used to get Sambar right. That was during my spinster times. I used to feel so bad then and complain to my mom, 'I am not able to make even a simple sambar'. Now you might think how can such a basic recipe like Sambar go wrong? Sometimes the most simple & commonly made dish would not turn out good until you find out the small trick & nuances of it that makes your shtyle stand out from others' right?? And to make matters worse, after marriage, Deeps became a fan of my mom's Sambar. He too fell prey for her Idly, coconut chutney & sambar combo special of my mom ;)

But that's not the end of the story.. I found out that even Deeps made awesome Sambar. I was like 'Ohh my, I am doomed now'. Finally one day with the determination of mastering it, I called up my mom and got the recipe. I was asking her, 'Ma tell me, how much tamarind.. What do you mean a lemon sized?? Small one or big one? How many spoons of coriander seeds' Finally she got fed up.. She was like 'Chitra, add little of everything. Taste it and add more if required'. I was skeptical and scared the first time and was with crossed fingers when Deeps came from office & tasted it. But he was very impressed. He was like, 'This tastes the best. Better than my mom & yours' That's the best compliment that you can ever get for cooking, right?? I was thrilled.

But I forgot how much of everything I had added. Lol.. Then I understood why my mom said lil of this and a lemon sized of that !! After that I slowly got the hang of the quantity. And most of the times I cooked this special sambar of mom's like a professional. So when Hasna suggested me to link up 'Butter Beans Masala' of my mom's for her lovely 'Mummy Ka Magic' event, I thought this is the most apt one for the event, as this recipe would always be the numero Uno of my mom's best veggie dishes :D. Her shtyle as it's simple and with NO coconut and a hit among our guests !!

Recipe Source: Ma

I Took: 

Preparation Time:40 minutes

Cooking Time: 35-40 minutes

Serves: 4-5 

I Used:

Tur Dal - ½ cup
Onion - 1 medium sized - sliced
Tomato - 1 no - cut into 8
1 no - large
3-4 nos
Ladies Finger
4-5 nos (small ones)
a small lemon sized
Garlic - 2 cloves
Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Asafoetida - ½ tsp
Curry Leaves - 2-3 sprigs
Coriander Leaves - 2-3 sprigs
Salt - As Needed

To Roast & Grind:
Oil - 2 tsp
Coriander Seeds - 3 tbsp
Red Chilly - 5 nos
Urd Dal - 3 tbsp
Fenugreek Seeds - ½ tsp
Asafoetida - 1 tsp

To Splutter:
Oil -2 tsp
Mustard  - 1 tsp
Red Chilly - 2 nos

The Way:

    1. Heat oil in a pan. Roast coriander seeds, red chilly & urd dal until it turns light golden brown in color. This would take 2-3 minutes

    2. Now add fenugreek seeds & asafoetida and roast for about a minute and not more. Else the fenugreek seeds can add a bitter taste if it's roasted for a longer time
    3. Allow this to cool & add water (3-4 tbsp) & grind it smoothly to a thick paste

    4. Soak tamarind in water for 15-20 minutes and extract the juice/pulp out of it and keep aside
    5. Rinse tur dal in water for 3-4 times and then soak them in water (around 2 cups) for 20-30 minutes

    6. Then pressure cook it with salt & garlic. Mash the pressure cooked dal well, so that there are no visible wholes of dal

    7. Heat a pan/kadai. Add the cut drumsticks (cut to 2 or 2.5 inch pieces). Add water (around 1 to 1.5 cups) and turmeric and salt
    8. Cook on medium flame until the drumsticks are half cooked. You can cover the pan and cook for faster cooking. This would take around 6-8 minutes

    9. Once the drumsticks are half cooked, add the onions (sliced), tomatoes (cut into 8 pieces), brinjal (cut into 8 or 12 depending on the size of the brinjal) , ladies finger (cut into 2 inch pieces) and other vegetables) and cook until the vegetables are half cooked

    10. Now add the ground paste (also adjust salt) and cook again until the vegetables are done
    11. Add the tamarind pulp & asafoetida (if needed. A strong aroma of asafoetida is a must for a good sambar :)) & allow it to come to a boil

    12. Then add the boiled & mashed dal. Cook for 3-4 minutes until all the ingredients come together 

    13. Add curry leaves and allow it to boil for another minute. Then switch off the flame
    14. In a tadka pan/kadai, heat oil. Splutter mustard and broken red chillies. Take care not to burn them

    15. Add the tadka to the sambar. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves

    Serve hot with steamed rice or idly or dosa!


    • You can add more vegetables of your choice like pumpkin, potato, white gourd, radish, carrot & plantain stem
    • Adjust the quantity of ground masala as you increase the vegetables
    • Another variety is to omit all vegetables & onion and use only shallots (include tomato) called 'Ulli Sambar'. You can follow the same method for that also


    Monday 15 April 2013

    Cheesecake - Baking Partner Challenge #9

    Hello, my dear pals.. Hope u all had a wonderful Vishu or Tamil Puthandu or Pohela Boishakh or Gudi Padwa or Ugadhi. Yes, the names are very different. But they all mean the same and every one of them is celebrated in a very similar way with their own lil' twist & turn. Just like how we tweak our recipes to suit our individual taste buds or to incorporate the ingredients available at hand or locally !! So now that the festive mood is over, let's get back to business :D

    Challenge of the month for the 'Baking Partners' group was Cheesecake.. U could have your pick from Japanese Cheesecake or Eggless Cheesecake or No Bake Fruit Cheesecake or the Perfect Cheesecake ;) Yup, you guessed it right, I went for the Perfect Cheesecake. Yea, you could say that the name fancied me, alright !! But the actual reason ,was the tiresome & grueling chore of shopping with a Norsk translator in hand and many a times some normal ingredients are exotic ingredients at this small beautiful village ;) So finally the Perfect Cheesecake seemed to fit into the profile..

    But did it turn out to be actually perfect?? That's now an interesting question.. Coz, I don't know to judge this particular piece. I have not had cheesecake before. And certainly it did not appear similar to the pictures I have seen or from the source. I could feel a slight taste of the eggs & the sourness from the sour cream. And it was a litttttle dense too, not on the very fluffy side !! Having said all these, I must also admit that Deeps & I enjoyed having it. though it was a different taste from the normal cakes ;) So I don't know, is this a success or disaster or semi success story, you experts tell me :)

    Recipe Source: Simply Recipes (in turn from Dorie Greenspan cookbook)

    I Took: 

    Preparation Time: 45 minutes

    Baking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

    Idle Time: Overnight

    Yields: 8-12 servings

    I Used:

    Digestive biscuits - 1 cup / 8 nos (original recipe calls for Graham Cracker biscuits)
    Sugar - 1 tbsp
    Salt - A pinch
    Unsalted butter - 35 gm (omit salt if using salted butter)
    Cream cheese - 450 gm
    Granulated sugar - 135 gm 
    Salt - a pinch
    Vanilla Essence - 1 tsp
    Eggs - 2 large
    Sour cream - 80 ml
    Heavy whipping cream - 80 ml
    Sour cream - 200 ml
    Powdered sugar - 20 gm
    Vanilla Essence - 1 tsp

    The Way:

    Prepare Springform pan
    1. Prepare a 16*16 inch square of aluminum foil. Place the springform pan in the middle of the foil
    2. Gently fold up the sides of the foil around the pan
    3. No holes should be created in the foil as you do this as the presence of holes will allow water to get into the pan and ruin the crust. Press the foil around the edges of the pan
    4. Place a second large square of foil underneath the pan and repeat gently folding up the sides of the foil around the pan and pressing the foil against the pan 
    5. Gently crimp the top of the foil sheets around the top edge of the pan
    Prepare Crust 
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the baking tray in the lower third of the oven
    2. Blend the biscuits to a fine powder
    3. Place in a wide bowl and mix in sugar and salt to it
    4. Stir in the melted butter and mix well into the biscuit powder
    5. Place this biscuit powder mix in the springform pan. Use your fingers to make an even layer at the bottom with a slight rise along the inside edge of the pan
    6. Place this in oven for 10 minutes
    7. Remove from oven and allow to cool
    8. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degree F
    Prepare Filling
    1. Allow cream cheese to come to room temperature. Then beat on medium speed them till smooth, soft & creamy
    2. Add sugar and beat for 4 minutes
    3. Add salt & vanilla essence beating after each addition
    4. Add eggs one at a time. Beat for a minute after each addition
    5. Add sour cream, beat until incorporated
    6. Add heavy cream, beat until incorporated
    7. Pour this into the springform on top of the biscuit crust and smoothen the top with a spatula
    Cook Cheesecake
    1. Prepare 2 L of boiling water
    2. Place the springform pan in the baking tray, Pour the boiling water into the baking tray to create a waterbath for the cheesecake
    3. Water should reach halfway up the springform
    4. Cook for 1.5 hours or until it turns slight golden on the top. In my case it took 1 hour and 15 minutes
    5. Turn off the heat. Open the door of the oven 1 inch and allow the cake to cool for another 1 hour. This is to prevent the cheesecake surface from cracking
    6. Cover the top of the cake with aluminium foil so that it doesn't touch the cake and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight
    Prepare topping
    1. Stir in the powdered sugar & vanilla essence into the sour cream
    2. Unmould the cake form the springform and spread the topping over the cake. If interested you can top it up with a fruit coulis of your choice

    Thursday 11 April 2013

    Chettinadu Kozhi Kulambu

    Chicken cooked in Chettinadu Style with shallot & tomato paste & freshly ground coconut masala

    If there is one ingredient with which I would cook anytime without getting bored then that would be chicken. And every time I like to try on a new type or variety. And mostly only when there are guests, would I make an already tried & tested version. Just to be on the safer side u know..  

    There are some other great chicken recipes, passed down from my mom, which I thought would make it to this place before this one. But somehow this one made it first. This is an extremely flavorful desi style chicken curry. The pre-process involved is a little bit of effort. But believe me, once the dish is done, you will feel every second of the work that you put in was very worth it :) And serve it with some hot idiyappam or idly or dosa or steamed rice, you will experience some unseparable combos. Last but not least, I would not suggest this with any biriyani or other elaborate one pot meal.. So go, make some and have fun eating !!

    Recipe Source: Sanjeev Kapoor

    Serves: 4 persons

    I Took:

    Preparation Time: 30-40 minutes

    Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes

    I Used:

    Chicken - 500 gms
    Yogurt - 2 tbsp
    Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
    Ginger-garlic paste - 2 tsp
    Grated coconut - 3 tbsp
    Poppy Seeds / Khus khus - 1 tbsp
    Green Chilly - 1 no
    Fennel Seeds - 1 tbsp
    Shallots - 20 - 25 nos
    Tomato - 2 nos
    Garlic - 4-5 cloves
    Red chilli powder - 1 tbsp
    Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
    Curry leaves - 1 sprig
    Mint - 2-3 sprigs
    Bay Leaf - 1
    Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
    Cloves - 2
    Cardamoms - 2
    Lemon juice - 2 tsp
    Oil - 3 tbsp
    Salt - As Needed

    The Way:

    Prep Part

    1. Marinate the cleaned chicken pieces (cut into medium sized pieces) with yogurt, ¼ tsp turmeric powder & ginger-garlic paste. Refrigerate the marinated chicken for 15-30 minutes
    2. Grind together coconut, poppy seeds, green chilli and fennel seeds to a fine paste
    3. Grind the shallots to a fine paste
    4. Grind the tomatoes and keep the puree aside
    5. Crush the garlic
    6. Mix red chilly powder, coriander powder and the remaining turmeric powder with ¼  cup of water to make a smooth paste

    Cooking Part

    1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamoms and cloves and saute
    2. When the aroma of the spices start coming, add the crushed garlic & shallot paste 
    3. Saute well on medium heat till the shallots turn golden in color
    4. Add the powder paste (Step 6 of prep part) and saute till the raw smell goes off
    5. Dash in the curry leaves & mint leaves and mix well
    6. Now add the coconut paste and saute for another 2-3 minutes
    7. Mix in the tomato puree and saute for 2-3 minutes
    8. Now add the marinated chicken and salt and combine well
    9. Add the required amount of water (around 1.5 - 2 cups) and cover the pan and allow the chicken to cook. Note that the chicken would release some water, hence adjust the quantity of water that you add accordingly
    10. Allow 10-15 minutes of cooking depending on the chicken, for it to be well cooked
    11. Sprinkle the lemon juice over top & serve hot

    Tuesday 9 April 2013

    Kerala Style Kadala curry | Black Chickpeas Curry | Kala Channa Gravy

    Black Chickpeas cooked in ground coconut & shallots paste

    This is an easy peasy side dish for the chiratta puttu or normal puttu. This is the popular side dish for puttu. Not much of ingredients or elaborate process. Pressure cook the chickpeas & side by side prepare the ground paste and the whole dish will be complete in less than half an hour. Yummy tasty gravy ready for the puttu !! So without much story, diving into the recipe straight :)

    Recipe from Deeps:

    Yields : For 2 persons

    Preparation Time: 30 minutes

    I Used:

    Black Chickpeas - ½ cup
    Grated Coconut - ¼ cup
    5-6 nos
    3-4 nos
    Red Chilly powder - 1 tsp
    Coriander powder
    Garam Masala
    2 tsp
    ½ tsp 
    Salt - As Needed
    Oil - 1 tbsp
    Curry leaves - A sprig

    The Way:

    1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in water

    2. Rinse the soaked chickpeas in water & boil it in pressure cooker & keep aside

    3. Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan. Add grated coconut & 5 shallots and saute

    4. When they start to turn a little golden color add the red chilly powder & coriander powder and saute for about 30 seconds and remove from flame, else it will burn

    5. Grind the roasted ingredients to a fine paste

    6. In a pan, take the boiled chickpeas (along with the water used to boil) and add the ground paste and salt to it. Allow it to come to a boil

    7. Take a tsp oil in a pan. Add 1 chopped shallot & the curry leaves to it. When the shallots turn brown, add them to the chickpeas curry

    Serve hot with puttu/idiyyapam.