Tuesday 30 July 2013

Vazhaipoo Poriyal | Vazhachundu Thoran | Banana Blossom Stir Fry - without Coconut

Banana Blossom stir fried with shallots & peanuts

There are certain veggies that we hate in childhood but turn close to heart when we grow up right? And when u relish on it now, you can always hear your amma saying 'How difficult was it to make her eat this one when she was young?' Isn't it?? Vazhapoo was one such veggie.. But to say the truth, I was a very picky eater when I was young, rather I had an aversion to food as such. Though you would never believe that if you see me munching & gobbling varieties of cuisines now ! 

Called by a wide variety of names as Vazhakoombu/Koombu/Kudappan/Chundu/Vazhapoo/Plantain or Banana Flower, this veggie is a very healthy & is a rich source of Vitamin E & antioxidants (now does that impress you?) And this dish you can say is yet another handiwork of my mom to make it even more healthier by avoiding coconut & substituting it with crushed peanuts. I would say that it retains the original flavor of the Vazhapoo which is usually shadowed by the addition of coconut & also the peanuts adds an extra crunch to the dish ! Even Deeps who is not a fan of this veggie would have a helping when the stir fry is prepared this way :)

The below picture goes to the Color me Purple (And Blue & Violet!) event of the "The Color Me Photography Challenge Series" - the brainchild of Priya !

Recipe Source: Ma
Serves: 3-4 persons

I Took:
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

I Used:

Banana Blossom/Vazhapoo - 1 flower - about 2 cups after cleaning & chopping
Peanuts - 3 tbsp
Shallots - 4-6 no
Red Chilly powder - 2 tsp
Mustard - ½ tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - As Needed

The Way:

  1. Clean vazhapoo & chop them finely. Then rinse them in water. Use a big strainer or colander to rinse them as it is more easier that way
  2. In a pan mix the cleaned vazhapoo, red chilly powder & salt. Add enough water & cook until the vazhapoo is done
  3. Coarsely grind the peanuts. You may just pulse it for 3-4 times
  4. In another pan, heat oil. Splutter mustard
  5. Then add shallots & saute till they turn golden in color. Now add the peanuts & saute well for a minute or so
  6. Finally add the cooked vazhapoo & give a thorough mix 
Serve with rice & a gravy of your choice :)


Monday 29 July 2013

Creamy Basil Pesto Pasta Recipe

At times, we need to indulge in very simple & tasty food right, which saves our cooking time & at the same time makes our heart & tummy full ! This pasta always does that to me. A busy eve when you do not have time to cook an elaborate dinner or a lazy afternoon & craving for some quick lunch? Try this then !! Having shared the Basil Pesto recipe with you, I thought I should share this simple pasta recipe too. Check here for tips on how to cook pasta. Enjoy :)

I Took: 20 minutes

Serves: 1 person

I Used:

Pasta (I used Penne) - 1 cup
Basil Pesto - ¼ cup
Parmesan Cheese - ¼ cup
Olive Oil - 2 tsp
Salt - As Needed
Pepper - As Needed

The Way:

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat
  2. Add the basil pesto & stir it
  3. Once the pesto is warm add the parmesan cheese & mix. You can add the pasta boiled water if required to thin out the sauce
  4. Add the pasta & mix well so that the sauce is incorporated. Add salt & pepper to taste

Friday 26 July 2013

Kerala Parippu Vada | Channa Dal Fritters | Lentil Fritters

Fritters made from Channa Dal & Onions

Come to the God's own country & it is difficult to leave the place without spotting this snack. This is one of the yummiest finger food that you can find in the 'chaya kadas' (Tea stall) in Kerala. Pair it up with a cuppa chai & that makes your eve on a rainy monsoon day :) And did you know that this combo of Parippu Vada & Kattan Chaya (Black Tea) was once the watchword or identity of the Communist comrades ! I guess it is the simplicity of the dish & the abundance that made it so. Again, strictly my views :D And one can never forget the train journeys in South India, especially Kerala & Tamil Nadu without hearing the 'Uzhunnu Vada/Parippu Vada' shoutings ;) 

My mom seldom makes this one at home as it is Uzhunnu Vada that is popular at our abode, but my Mil is an expert in this. Give her 15 minutes (plus the soaking of the dal in the afternoon), she pulls up this yummy snack with hot steaming tea for us in the evening. And we are always ready to gobble this up in lesser time than she took to prepare it ;) So why don't we now see how to prepare this easy & popular snack?

Recipe Source: Mil

Makes: 25-30 medium sized fritters

I Took: 

Soaking Time: 2 hours
Preparation Time: 15 minutes

I Used:

Channa Dal/Kadala Parippu - 2 cups
Onions - 3 nos - medium sized 
Green Chilly - 5 nos 
Ginger - A 2 inch piece
Curry leaves - 3-4 sprigs
Oil - To Deep fry
Salt - As Needed

The Way:

  1. Rinse the channa dal in water 3-4 times. Soak it in water for 2-2.5 hours
  2. Chop the onion, green chilly, ginger & curry leaves finely
  3. After 2-2.5 hours, drain the water off the channa dal thoroughly. Use a colander if required & then pat dry the dal using a kitchen towel. Do not over soak the dal as it may increase the moisture content & may cause the vadas/fritters to break
  4. Now grind the soaked & dried dal coarsely in a mixie without water. Do NOT grind to a fine paste. Just pulse it 3 or 4 times. Add NO water at all as it may again increase the moisture content
  5. Add the chopped onion, green chilly, ginger, curry leaves & salt to the coarsely ground dal and mix well
  6. Heat oil in a kadai. When the oil is hot enough to fry the vadas, reduce the flame to medium high
  7. Make small gooseberry sized balls with the dal mix. Then flatten the balls using your palm. Hold the ball in one palm and press the other palm over the ball so that they get flattened 
  8. Take care not to break the balls. You may moisten your palm before flattening each ball. It is advisable to flatten the balls before adding to the oil, else they will break. Now deep fry the vadas until golden brown or till done
Drain off the excess oil & serve hot.


Thursday 25 July 2013

Eggless Strawberry Banana Muffins | Strawberry Banana Yogurt Cupcakes

I love strawberries, but they have to be sweet. Now that's an ambitious request right? Very seldom I come across fully sweet strawberries. Most of the times it will be semi-sweet or sour. Then I resort to milkshakes or smoothies or yummy bakes, as they would need a small amount of sugar & would taste out of the world :) Last week we had a guest for lunch & they bought us a lot of fresh berries - blue, black, red & straw ;) And also we had a small outing to a nearby lake during the weekend. Then I thought I would bake some of these muffins & make it a tea outing that day ! I should admit that I thoroughly enjoyed baking these cuties, as they filled my whole house with a yummilicious smell. Do try them out as they are very simple & less time consuming and also you are guaranteed of a fabulous outcome !

Recipe Source: Joy of Baking 

I Took: 25 minutes (Prep) + 25 minutes (Baking)

Makes: 12 regular sized muffins

I Used:

Strawberry - ½ cup - cut into bite sized pieces
Banana - 1 big sized - mashed
All purpose Flour - 1 cup + 2 tbsp
Butter - ¼ cup
Yogurt - ¼ cup
Vanilla Essence - 1 tsp
Granulated Sugar - ¼ cup + 2 tbsp
Baking Powder - ¾ tsp
Baking Soda - ¼ tsp
Ground Cinnamon - ¼ tsp or an inch stick mashed with banana
Salt - ½ tsp

The Way:

  1. Mash the bananas. If you do not have ground cinnamon then add the cinnamon stick to the banana & mash it
  2. Melt the butter (in an oven or saucepan) & allow it to cool to room temperature
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 175 degree Celsius in conventional mode 
  4. In a bowl whisk together yogurt, vanilla essence & mashed banana. Add the melted butter & stir to combine
  5. In another large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon (if available) & salt. You can sift it for 3 times for even mixing of the dry ingredients
  6. Then gently fold in the strawberries into the flour mixture making sure that they are coated well with the flour. This helps the berries to prevent from sinking during baking
  7. Now add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients & stir gently so that they are combined. Do not over mix, else the muffins might become hard
  8. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or butter the muffin cups in the pan 
  9. Place 2 spoons of the batter in each cup using a spoon 
  10. Bake it for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted through it comes out clean. Do not mistake the fruit within the muffin to be wet batter. Mine was done in 25 minutes

Sunday 21 July 2013

Fresh Basil Pesto Sauce Recipe

Some days I do not like to cook elaborate meals. Then I stick on to easy, ready to make dishes. This basil pesto sauce is one among them. I mostly use it for pasta but you can very well use them in a variety of ways. Spread it on a bruschetta or as an appetizer dip or use it as a spread or chutney for your sandwich. You can also mix it up with some mayonnaise to use up as a salad dressing or use as a spread or dip for your grilled chicken !! The uses are many & it's an effortless recipe :) Great right? 

I have some freshly growing basil sprigs on my window sill & I had been waiting for them to grow up to a considerable height so that I can use them. And now my emotions are that of a happy little kid :D This pesto sauce can be refrigerated for a week. Store them in air tight containers then. Alternately, it can also be freezed for upto six months.

Recipe Source: Adapted from here

I Took: 10 minutes

Makes: ¼ cup

I Used:

Fresh Basil leaves - ¼ cup
Walnuts/Pine Nuts - 4 tsp (I used Walnuts)
Garlic - 1 clove
Grated Parmesan Cheese - 2 tbsp
Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - As Needed

The Way:

  1. Add walnuts/pine nuts & garlic in a blender/mixer. Pulse it till crushed
  2. Add the fresh basil leaves to it & blend again
  3. Add olive oil and give it a quick pulse. Finally add the grated Parmesan cheese & salt and blend or pulse to your desired consistency
  4. I like it smooth rather than crunchy, so I blend it to a smooth paste. You can add water if necessary for the consistency 
Use as desired :)


Friday 19 July 2013

Khatta Meeta Karela | Sweet & Sour Bitter Gourd

Bitter Gourd stir fry with Indian spices & Jaggery

Summer is at it's good mood here & I should admit that I am having a great time. Usually it seems that,  summer here means no snow & frequent rains with sun peaking out once in a while. But this time it's more of the radiant bright yellow hue with less of rains & I sincerely hope it remains the same :) And the pathways & gardens & fences are lined with bright & chirpy flowers in brilliant & bold shades. Even the river that flows through the center of this town looks lush green with the shadow of the big pines & apple & cherry trees on it's banks !! And the days are long as 20 hours, that  you never see the night for nearly 4 months a year,  unless you are a very late sleeper.. Feels heavenly right?? Wait before you decide that this is more better than your hometown :D All these goodness is compensated during the next 8 months of the year, when it snows heavily & you see the sun only for 4 hours a day !! And you can talk about the temperatures in (minus two digit) range :( But, some people do enjoy that weather right, so all together it comes as a package :) So here are some pics for you my friends !!

I have been doing a lot of cooking these days, but the photo shoot does not happen that often & hence it doesn't make it to this space. I had been having a lot of guests & get togethers & some experimental cooking.. Come summer time & it is jolly time for we ladies out here. Frequent get togethers & that implies food, food & a lot of food.. But summer is just an excuse to meet more frequently than in winter :D So coming to today's recipe, it's a bitter gourd stir fry that gels well with rotis & parathas and even with steamed rice & Morukari (Gravy with curd) as I had. Bitter gourd is Deeps' favorite veggie & so it features often in our menu (& hence this space ;)) & I not being a great fan of it, like to experiment with it to suit my taste buds. This recipe is from my mom's old cooking diary which too has a story with it ;) Maybe some other time, I guess I have talked enough for now..  Definitely try this recipe if you are not a great fan of bitter gourd as it has the perfect blend of sweetness & sourness to it which would take you a step closer to liking the healthy veggie !! Some other recipes with bitter gourd that are there in the blog are PitlaPavakka Puli Kuzhambu, Pavakya Pulin Curry & Bitter Gourd Fry.. 

Recipe from Ma's ole diary 

Serves: 3-4 persons

I Took: 35 minutes

I Used:

Bitter Gourd/Karela - 500 gm
Onions - 2 nos - big - chopped
Ginger-Garlic Paste - 1 ½ tbsp
Red Chilly powder - ⅓ tsp
Coriander powder - ⅓ tsp
Amchur (Dry mango) powder - ½ tsp
Turmeric powder - ⅓ tsp
Jaggery - 4 tsp
White Vinegar/Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - As Needed

The Way:

  1. Wash & scrape the bitter gourd. Remove the seeds and cut them into ½ inch thick pieces
  2. Boil them in salt water. I kept on microwave high for 12 minutes. Drain the water & keep aside
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Fry onion slices. When they turn translucent add the ginger-garlic paste & saute well
  4. Once the raw smell goes off add turmeric powder, red chilly powder, coriander powder, amchur powder, salt & 4-5 tsp of water & mix well
  5. Add the boiled bitter gourd pieces and mix well. Cover & keep on low flame for 5-6 minvutes
  6. Remove the cover & add jaggery to it. Cover again & cook for 2 minutes 
  7. Remove from flame & add the white vinegar OR lemon juice & mix well
Serve hot with parathas or roti or puri


Some more awards (Hiyaaaa) & a word of apology !!

First & foremost I should apologize to my fellow blogger friends who bestowed awards on me.. I have delayed it so long to acknowledge them. These awards were given to me in April and as I was in a very busy & skeptical time then planning the vacation & in a dilemma over the dates of the journey, I totally missed this. When I came back from my vacation I totally forgot about this. Two days back when I going through some comments I suddenly remembered about them. So apologizes first my sweethearts & a big heartfelt THANK YOU for recognizing my humble space. 

Dhanish of My Srilankan Recipes (Find a variety of traditional Sri Lankan dishes & beautiful bakes here), Nilu of Kitchen Serenity (The humble & down to earth blogger with simple & easy to make dishes) & Techie2mom of My Cooking Adventures (Do check out her snacks & appetizers. They are quite a variety) awarded me the 'Liebster Blog' Award. Asha Shivakumar of Food ~ Fashion ~ Party (A style diva blog with International standards & recipes. Just love gawking at her space) gave me 'The Versatile Blogger' award. Do check out their spaces for more food & fun !

As I have talked quite a lot about  me & the awards in the previous posts here & here, I am keeping my mouth & hands tight shut here.. I would like to share this award with all my blogger friends & co bloggers who take great enjoyable pains in maintaining such beautiful & unique spaces. Enjoy blogging & have a great time. Keep smiling & have fun !!


Monday 15 July 2013

Lemon Glow Chiffon Cake - Baking Partner Challenge #12

So Baking Partners are back with a bang to celebrate it's one year anniversary of successful baking.. Yes, we have turned 1 year old. And this time there were 2 suggestions for baking the recipe of the month 'Cakes'. Humi suggested 'Medovik/Russian Honey Cake' & Saraswathy suggested 'Chiffon Cakes'. As I had an eye on baking Chiffon or Foam cakes from a long time, I chose Chiffon cake for this month's challenge. Thanks Saraswathy & Swathi for this wonderful challenge. Now let me share some facts with you that Saraswathy shared with us on Chiffon cake.

Chiffon (pronounced She-fon) cakes are a type of foam cakes and are light & soft & definitely yummy !! They contain egg yolks and whites separately whisked and folded in together with vegetable oil, all which makes them moist, soft & light.. This cake doesn't call for butter & the lower quantity of sugar gives me an extra reason to savor this low cholesterol cake;) Use of oil instead of butter aides in the airy quality of the cake & gives a longer shelf or refrigeration life. Refrigeration makes the oil in the cake soft & the cake becomes all the more tender. Deeps liked to have it chilled & directly from the fridge. He said, 'It tastes better when chilled'. Even my neighbor & friend 'P' was very happy with the cake & said it tasted awesome :D

The chiffon cake was created by Harry Baker, a Los Angeles insurance agent, in 1927.  Baker carefully guarded his secret technique for almost two decades, only selling his cakes to celebrities and the famous Brown Derby restaurant. The popularity of his cakes grew quickly, and he eventually sold the recipe to General Mills in 1947. 

I have halved the recipe here & used some substitutes for ingredients not available in this town. Refer the notes too while baking this cake, as they can help you get a perfect cake on your first attempt itself. The whisking of the egg whites is the most important part.. U get that right, consider half the work done. So lets see how to make this soft & tender cake. I have used normal buttercream icing & strawberries for serving.

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Serves: An 8 inch round cake pan with a ramekin in the middle

Store: Stays fresh for 3 days in room temperature, 10 days refrigerated, 2 months frozen


I Took:

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Baking Time: 50 minutes

Cooling Time: 85 minutes

I Used:

Dry Ingredients
All purpose Flour-1 cup (refer notes)
Corn flour-2 tbsp
Caster Sugar-¾ cup
Salt-¼ tsp
Baking Soda-¼ tsp
Lemon Zest-½ - 1 tbsp
Wet Ingredients
Canola/Sunflower Oil-¼ cup
Large Egg yolks-1 no / 65 g
Water-⅓ cup
Lemon juice-1 tbsp
Vanilla Essence-½ tsp
For Meringue
Cream of Tartar-¾ tsp (refer notes)
Sugar-1 tbsp
Large Egg Whites-3 nos

The Way:

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients. First work the sugar & lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is grainy & very aromatic. Add the all purpose flour, corn flour (or the cake flour - refer notes), baking soda and salt to it
  2. Whisk together until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. If you have a stand mixer, use the beater attachment & beat on low
  3. Then make a well in the center of the ingredients and add the oil, egg yolks, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix until the batter is smooth & has no lumps. In a stand mixer, mix for about 1 minute on medium speed
  4. In a second large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they are foamy. Add lemon juice (or cream of tartar) & beat (if on stand mixer, beat on medium speed) until they reach soft peak stage. This happens when the whisk or the beater start to leave a trail or when the peaks fall over when the whisk is raised
  5. At this stage add the 1 tbsp sugar & continue to beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks when the whisk is raised
  6. Using the balloon whisk (or a slotted spoon) add ⅓ of the egg whites to the cake batter & gently stir until incorporated. Add the remaining egg whites to the cake batter and very gently fold them into the batter until they are incorporated and no trace of egg whites remain
  7. Pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan and run a metal spatula or knife through the batter to prevent air pockets. If you do not have a tube pan but would like to have a similar shape, then place an oven usable ramekin in the centre of your round pan and pour the batter to the sides of the ramekin as I did
  8. Preheat the oven on conventional mode at 165 degrees
  9. Bake in the lower rack of the oven for 50-55 minutes (refer your oven manual too) or until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed in the center
  10. Once cooked, take the cake pan & immediately turn it upside down on a bottle (or another ramekin or tumbler - whichever suits best for the pan). Allow to cool completely which took about 85 minutes for me
  11. Use a palette knife and loose the sides of the cake. Pull out the sides and work similarly on the bottom. Turn it over on to a plate upside down & sprinkle with a dusting of icing sugar or a topping of your choice & serve


  • Do not grease or line or flour the cake pan. This will hinder the cake from rising up
  • Always use large eggs as called for in the recipe. Do not use medium or small sized eggs
  • Try to use castor sugar than normal ones 
  • The recipe calls for cake flour, but since I could not get it here, I used the substitute. Take an equal amount of All purpose flour. Remove 2 tbsps of flour from it & replace it with 2 tbsps of corn flour (NOT corn meal). This works just fine
  • Cream of tartar is used to stabilize the egg whites while beating up. Since I couldn't get those, I used the substitute lemon juice. Works perfectly OK
  • Make sure that the bowl used to whisk egg whites are clean & grease free. Traces of grease or egg yolks will not guarantee you proper whisking of whites
  • Proper & correct whisking of egg whites is essential to ensure the texture of the cake. Under or over beating can cause the cake to collapse or become too hard. Do the 'Overturn bowl test' to ensure that your whisking is the right amount. When you overturn the bowl of the whisked egg whites, it should hold & must not fall off
  • Do not let the egg whites sit for long once whisked. Immediately fold it onto the cake batter as this stage of stiff peaks is short lived
  • Take care while folding in the egg whites as over folding can cause the egg whites & thus the cake to deflate. Fold in gently using a whisk
  • Before pouring the batter into the pan, take the bowl and hit against the kitchen counter. This will cause bubbles to rise up to the top and pop. Do not hit the pan after pouring the batter as this may cause the formation of more bubbles

Here are some links that helped me greatly. Hope you guys too find it useful !


Wanna see what the others in the Baking Partners group baked?? 

Saturday 13 July 2013

Peerkangai Kootu | Ridge Gourd Kootu | Chinese Okra with Mung Dal

Cooked Ridge Gourd & Mung Dal with Indian tempering

For me kootu is a very healthy comfort food. Pair it up with steamed rice & rasam, I am a happy person :) Coz I do not have to think about cooking a dal & preparing a veg stir fry separately. Everything goes in together this single dish and gives me a tasty & healthy & easy recipe.. Truly comfort, right? Many would like to have kootu as a side dish with vathakuzhambu or kara kuzhambu but somehow I find it best with rasam. Rasam being subtle, I can enjoy the flavors of the kootu to the max ! Here, you can prepare this with channa dal also. But mung dal is a personal favorite & easy to cook and also it doesn't need much soaking time. Peerkangai (Ridge Gourd/Chinese Okra) being a versatile veggie, you can use even the peel/skin to prepare thogayal or chutney & not to forget about the health benefits. So let's see how this easy kootu can be prepared.

Recipe from Ma

Serves: 2 persons

I Took: 30 minutes

I Used:

Peerkanga/Ridge Gourd - 1 no - medium sized
Mung Dal/Channa Dal - ¼ cup (I used Mung Dal here)
Grated Coconut - 2 tbsp
Red Chilly powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
Salt - As Needed

To Temper:

Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard - ½ tsp
Asafoetida - ½ tsp
Red Chilly - 2 nos
Curry leaves - A sprig

The Way:

  1. Wash & clean the dal & soak in water for 15-20 minutes. Then pressure cook it till done
  2. Clean the ridge gourd & peel the skin. Reserve the skin/peel for chutney/thogayal. Chop the gourd into small cubes. You need not discard the middle soft portion as in other gourds
  3. Now add the chopped ridge gourd, red chilly powder, turmeric powder & salt to the cooked mung dal. If the dal is too mushy, add ½ cup water & cook uncovered until done. Do not pressure cook the gourd as it will get overcooked
  4. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard. When it splutters, add red chilly, curry leaves & asafoetida & saute. Take care not to burn
  5. Add this tempering to the cooked kootu. Add the grated coconut & give it a mix
  6. Remove from flame & serve with steamed rice & a gravy of your choice