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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cauliflower in coconut-cashew sauce

This morning I did not touch my laptop. Instead I decided to cook, but something different.  The vegetables I had were cauliflower, carrot and green peas.  I decided to cook it in a mildly spiced coconut-cashew sauce.

Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables tastes great even when cooked simply, with a little salt. It
makes a great raw veggie with a nice coconut mint dip or chutney too! A must try for raw vegans.

It has a high amount of potassium and calcium, good for human consumption, but also the favorite of butterfly caterpillars. Butterfly lay their eggs under the cauliflower leaves. These eggs hatch into tiny pastel green/blue caterpillars that begin eating up the vegetable from its stem upwards. They are found at the base of the florets and can go undetected. I'm sure they are as nutritious as the cauliflower but vegetarians just cannot eat the caterpillars!! The cauliflower is cut into florets, usually leaving its tender stem on, and as a practice, soaked for around 20 minutes in heavily salted water to get rid of the tiny caterpillars.  In my experience, the caterpillars inside cocoons are not affected at all and continue to stick to the stems, while the big buggers that have fed on the cauliflower leaves kind of enjoy some salt - ha ha. The best way is to manually pick them out.  I am happy to cook a cauliflower that has a few caterpillars because it is one way to know that the vegetable is not heavily sprayed with pesticides.

Here is the recipe of Cauliflower in mildly spiced coconut-cashew sauce.
I have added other veggies too and it tastes yummy with green peas & carrots too!

Cauliflower florets from one large cauliflower and a cup of other veggies like green peas, carrot and capsicum
1 medium sized onion chopped fine
2 medium sized tomatoes diced with seed and skin
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp salt (or more if necessary as you cook)
1 small bunch chopped
coriander / cilantro leaves

Ingredients for the sauce:
1/4 cup fresh grated coconut
1/4 cup cashews
3-4 garlic pods
1/4 inch piece of ginger
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1  green chili pepper
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 sprig curry leave (optional)
Water for sauce consistency

  • Blend all the sauce ingredients with sufficient water into a very smooth thick paste and keep aside.
  • Take oil in a cooking pot and fry the onions until they turn opaque or are half done.
  • Stir in the cauliflower florets along with green peas and carrots and add 1/2 cup of water. Cook with lid on until cauliflower is half cooked. 
  • Add salt and tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are soft and cauliflower almost done. Do stir occasionally.
  • Mix in the sauce (use clean water to rinse the blender and add that water to the sauce).
  • Mix well, cover with lid and cook on medium to low flame until it begins to simmer. 
  • Taste the sauce and correct its flavor before you serve (that's something I always do before serving)
  • Garnish with more coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or rotis.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm Making Sweet Pumpkin Soup tomorrow!

Its raining in Mysore in November! The reason - depression over the Bay of Bengal. The weather conditions on the eastern coast of India suffers gusty winds and storms, uprooting trees and disrupting life. The most recently affected areas were Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and according to weather reports, the depression has eased out a bit. All of South India is receiving rain showers that will continue throughout the month of November. I love to watch the rain with a big bowl of steaming soup! Yes, its going to be Sweet Pumpkin Soup at the buffet table tomorrow!

For those of you who would love to make their own soup on a cold day, here's my recipe.

Sweet Pumpkin Soup


For the Base
Sweet Pumpkin diced with skin          1 cup
Onion diced                                       1 medium
Garlic                                                 3-4 pods
Ginger grated or finely chopped          1/2 tsp
Tomatoes diced                                  1/2 cup
Water                                                 3 cups or more if necessary

For the Garnish
Carrot very finely diced or minced       2 Tbs
Green/red/yellow bell peppers minced 2 Tbs
Green string beens sliced very fine       2 Tbs
Ajwain* seeds/thyme/oregano               1/4 Tsp
Ground Pepper                                   5-6 corns
Salt                                                     3/4 Tsp or as per taste


  • Boil or pressure cook sweet pumpkin, onion, ginger, garlic and tomatoes with water until soft
  • Smash or puree this mixture after cooling it in a blender (juicer will work too)
  • Add more water to bring about the consistency of your choice and bring it to the boil
  • Add salt, pepper, ajwain seeds or thyme/oregano and turn off the flame
  • Add the very finely diced raw vegetables to the hot soup and keep covered for 5 minutes
  • Serve hot on a cold afternoon or as dinner with the bread of your choice

I hope it will be a cool afternoon tomorrow!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Banana Bread

So finally we have an oven at home.  Its a 40L Morphy Richards OTG that I bought through Flipcart and  love it.

After spending hours on the internet, trying to get simple recipes with ingredients that are easily available in stores nearby Gokulam, I found the most delightful recipe for Banana Bread.  I have changed the recipe a bit  so I could make it immediately in my new oven with ingredients that we have in the kitchen.  The result was delightful!  The dates and figs give it richness and the chocolate chunks become soft and moist inside the bread.  The whole experience is absolutely divine!

The picture was taken in the kitchen late in the evening with the fluorescent tube light that gives a bluish tinge :-)

Banana Bread

2 cups Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
4 large ripe Bananas
1 cup mixture of chopped dates & figs and chocolate chunks
100 gms butter (or substitute for vegans)
1/2 cup sugar (or sweetener of your choice)
1 tsp vanilla extract


     Sieve the flour, baking powder and baking soda and keep aside (if using self raising flour do not add baking powder)
     Mix sugar and butter in a large bowl until creamy (5 mins)
     Add vanilla extract and mix
     Mash bananas and add to the mixture in the bowl
     Add mixture of dates, figs and chocolate chunks and mix all the ingredients
     Add flour spoon by spoon and mix with a spatula ensuring that all the flour mixes up well, forming a sticky dough
     Use a tablespoon or two of milk if necessary if the dough gets too thick to mix (I added a couple of tablespoons of milk, but this would depend upon the size of bananas used)
     Pour in two greased loaf tins and bake at 180ºC or 350ºF for around 45 minutes to 1 hour or until done
     Cool on a rack and slice; serve warm or at room temperature

Hope you enjoy making it as much as I did! 

Is my family happy or what!!!

I would like to give credit to my wonderful and dear friend Warren J. Baker for giving me tips on how to use the oven and how to bake.  Thank you Warren for everything you do for us! We love you!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Roasted Aubergines Bharta

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with a distant relative (courtesy FB) who wanted my recipes on how to make different types of rasams.  In return, she gave me some of her Parsi Fish Sauce recipe (ummmm love the Pom fret in white sauce - pronounced saas by the Parsis!).  Unfortunately I do not cook any meat or fish ~ thanks to Ganesh who just about manages to eat an occasional egg and is otherwise a totally ghee loving vegetarian.  (God! I miss my fish sometimes ;-))

My distant relative Rashna Variawa suggested a great recipe with eggplant or aubergines and her recipe of Baingan Bharta (a spicy aubergine mash) reminded me of the kind my mom-in-law would make ~ hot chili spicy!  Here's the recipe for the Roasted Aubergine Bharta or Chutney.


Eggplant or Aubergines or Brinjals ~ 2 medium sized
Onions ~ 2 medium
Garlic ~  2-4 pods
Green chili (optional) - 1
Coriander leaves chopped - 1 tbs
Lime juice - 1 tbs
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Curd (optional) - 1/2 cup


Fire around 4 barbecue charcoals to red hot and roast the eggplant, onions, garlic and chili.  This roasting can also be done on the gas stove (like I do).  You can roast the eggplant directly on the flame, but the chili, onion and garlic will need a wire mesh over the flame to grill.

Peel the skin off the roasted ingredients (use a bowl of water to wetten your fingers while pealing).  Put all the ingredients in a blender, add salt and pulse run it so as to ensure it does not become too pasty.  Serve garnished with coriander, with chapaties or as a side dish.  My picture shows curd added, and that's because the chili was too hot!!!

When I made guacamole recently, it somehow reminded me of the roasted baingan bharta except that all ingredients in the guacamole are raw.

Enjoy cooking and I will bring you some more recipes soon!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Finger Lickin' Dum Aloo

This morning I received a mail from my friend Tracy who runs Operation Shanti ( ) that our 6 kids studying at St. Francis School (Central Syllabus) have performed very well in their 4th Unit Test.  Nanjunda, studying in the Second Standard scored 86% and Surya also in the same class, scored 98%.  Even the 4 Kindergarten kids did very well at school. This is very good news and I had to share it with my readers.

Sometimes, when I read or hear some news, it triggers some memories of my wonderful childhood and at its very center stood the most beautiful woman in the world - my mom.  She was herself childlike and innocent, my friend and many a times even my playmate.   We played silly games at home on holidays and ate way too much fruit, chocolates and peanut chikkis!  She cooked few dishes, but whatever she cooked tasted too good.  My mom made potato chips (french fries) so often, we even had it for breakfast on many days!  Those were the days of potato chips and Kissan Tomato Sauce... mmmm...  I love potatoes in any form, fried, cooked with daal or as a gravy, mixed with other veggies, or simply boiled and mashed (with a big dollop of salted butter... ooooh whats wrong with me!!!).  One thought is leading to the other and if I continue in this way I'll never give you a recipe in this posting!

Anyways, here's the story of my Dum Aloo adventure.  I wanted to cook the cute baby potatoes in gravy and simply made up my own recipe one day as I like simple methods of cooking and hate to fuss with preparing one dish over several hours. End of story and the recipe for my Dum Aloo for 4 - 6 persons is:

Baby potatoes (washed and pealed)     1 kilo
Onions quartered                                  2 big/3 medium
Garlic                                                   6-8 small cloves
Ginger                                                  1/2 inch piece
Tomato (freshly pureed)                       1 cup
Coriander seeds                                   1 tbs
Cumin seeds                                         1 tsp
Dry red Kashmir chili                            4-5 or per taste
Turmeric powder                                  1/4 tsp
Garam masala                                       1/2 tsp
Oil                                                        3 tbs
Salt                                                       1 tsp
Coriander leaves chopped fine              2 tbs

  • Dry roast in a wok, Coriander seeds, Cumin seeds and dry red Kashmir chillies, until the aromas just begin to rise.  Cool and blend the mixture in a dry blender (I prepare a bigger quantity and store in an airtight bottle to use it for some of my other preparations).  
  • Blend together onions, garlic and ginger into a paste.
  • Heat oil in a wok and add the ground onion, garlic, ginger paste and stir fry on low to medium flame until the color changes slightly to golden (all of it will not change to golden unless you add double the quantity of oil - and that can be avoided).
  • Add turmeric powder and the dry ground powder of coriander, cumin and chili and stir well for half a minute.  
  • Add the baby potatoes, mix well and allow it to cook on low flame for 2-3 minutes. Stir now and then.
  • Now add the salt and tomato puree and mix well.
  • Cover with a tight lid and cook on low flame until the potatoes get cooked.  Stir occasionally.
  • Add 1/4 cup of water if the gravy tends to dry up.
  • Once the potatoes are cooked, sprinkle garam masala and turn off the flame.  Cover and keep for 5 minutes.  
  • Mix well, garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with rotis.
Note:  I cooked this dish in my pressure cooker.  I did not add extra water as tomatoes have enough and the pressure inside the cooker, with around 2 whistles is just enough to cook the potatoes quickly.

Good luck with baby potatoes!


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Its Khichri Time!

Yes its Khichri time!  The only soothing meal for people on the Pancha Karma treatment.  Also known as Pongal, this dish is basically made for breakfast, lunch or dinner and is quite simple to make.  

Before we proceed with the Khichri, I would like to take you back to the last week of December 2011 when Cyclone Thane struck the South Eastern coast of India and the surrounding places causing severe damage to property and lives.  The beautiful Auroville or City of Dawn faced a catastrophic loss during that time.  Our friend and the well known Ashtanga Yoga teacher Monica Marinoni lives and taught at her shala in Auroville.  It was painful to read her recent mail which I would like to quote:
Hi all,
during the cyclone Thane that hit Auroville and its surrounding region on December 30th, the Ashtanga Yoga Auroville shala was destroyed and had to be closed. 
All classes have been cancelled and not happening in Auroville for the time being.
I will be teaching at Ashtanga Yoga Boston from February 1st to March 30th. 
Future teaching schedules will follow as things organically evolve.
I am very pleased to go back to teach in Boston and looking forward to meet old and new students again.
Big love to you all!

This is a little detail of the damage and struggle she faced (very bravely) after the cyclone, in her words:

 I had a lot of cutting of wood to do on my land, lots of trees were down (everywhere in Auroville). So that was a major task involving chainsaws and lots of workers. We couldn't even go out of the houses the first day before starting to clear up roads and paths in the jungle of branches.Then the shala was taken down since it had been hit by the swinging in the cyclone of two huge rain trees that I had at the back of my house and was completely broken, and also that has been finished. We also had to take down those two....We had no power and phone for almost a month, and in all this mess I was planning to leave to teach somewhere else, as for the time being I have no plans to re-build in Auroville. Not easy, but done now.

Monica is a good friend and a wonderful mom and human being.  Perhaps this cyclone happened to take Monica to different parts of the world to teach what she is best at - Ashtanga Yoga!  Good luck to you Monica and I wish you get many many teaching assignments all over the globe!

Ok - here's all about Khichri!

Khichri with vegetables - made by Warren J. Baker

Pongal or Khichri

Pongal, or khichri with moong daal, is one of the most soothing foods to eat, especially when you want something light or wish to remain light or you have an irritated tummy.  It is also highly recommended whilst undergoing panchakarmaª.  “Khichri” means “mixture” and pongal is a mixture of daal and rice, cooked together in a simple manner.  In South India, pongal is made during the harvest season and the dish is named after the Pongal or Makara Shankranti festival.
While khichri (or khichdi as it is known in Maharashtra and other northern Indian states) is cooked more like a dry rice dish with masoor daal (split red daal), pongal is cooked with rice, moong daal, a lot more water, to create a thick soup.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Uncooked rice
1 cup
Moong daal
1 cup
2 Tbsp
Cumin seeds
1 tsp
Ginger freshly, grated
½ tsp
Black peppercorns, whole or lightly crushed
a few
2 pinches
to taste
Hot water
8 cups (or more)

Wash moong daal and rice together, put in a colander to drain the water and set aside.
Boil the water and set aside.
In a heated pot, add the ghee.  Add the cumin seeds and black peppercorns and fry until cumin seeds pop.  Add the asafoetida and stir for a second.  Add the daal and the rice and stir-fry on a medium to high flame for 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the ginger, hot water, and salt and boil over a medium to high flame, stirring occasionally until the daal and rice are soft and the mixture has turned into a broth.  If the consistency is too thick, add more hot water and simmer on a low flame for another 5 minutes.  The rice and daal need to be cooked soft, almost overcooked.  Garnish with more ghee and serve hot or warm.

¨      If you are on the panchakarma treatment, make pongal or khichri with just rice, moong daal, water, salt, and ghee.  Consult your Ayurvedic doctor before adding any extras into the dish.
¨      To make pongal interesting, you may add vegetables (green peas, green beans, carrots, and even spinach).  Vegetables should be added after the daal and rice have been mixed in and before the water has been added.
¨      You may also add grated dry coconut and fried cashews to both the plain and vegetable pongal.

Khichri with Masoor Daal

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Uncooked rice
1 cup
Masoor daal (split red lentils)
1 cup
2 Tbsp
Cumin seeds
1 tsp
Black pepper, crushed
½ tsp
Curry leaves
1 sprig
2 pinches
Onions, finely chopped
½ cup
Turmeric powder
¼ tsp
Coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp
Hot water
6 cups
to taste


Wash the masoor daal and rice together, put in a colander to drain the water and set aside.
Boil the water and set aside.
In a heated pot, add the ghee.  Add cumin seeds and fry until they pop.  Add the curry leaves, crushed black pepper, and asafoetida and stir for 15 seconds.  Add the onions (optional) and fry until they are translucent.  Add the turmeric powder, daal, and rice, and mix well.  Fry on a medium to high flame for 5 to 7 minutes, constantly stirring.  Add the hot water and salt and boil over a medium to high flame until the water has almost evaporated.  Cover with a tight lid and cook on a low flame for 5 to 7 minutes (similar to cooking plain rice or pulao).  Garnish with more ghee and coriander leaves and serve hot with raita or chutney.

-      Khichri with masoor daal is usually dry; it should not be a mushy dish.
    You can turn khichri into a casserole, or add vegetables (carrots, green peas and green beans).  Add the vegetables after the onions are translucent, then further stir-fry for a minute or two before adding the daal and rice.  Spinach khichri is also very delicious.  Add spinach after the water has completely evaporated, and mix lightly.  Cook for few minutes before turning off the flame.

ª Panchakarma is an ayurveda detoxification process that brings balance the three doshas (body types), namely, vata, pitta, and kapha.  Pancha means “five” and karma means “actions,” or in this case, therapeutic cleansing treatments.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ragi Masala Dosa

Dosa is one of the most favourite breakfast (or anytime snack!) dish in the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.  The world famous Mysore Masala Dosa is what most of us Mysoreans grow up eating, but never tire of.  However, it is not easy to master the art of making a regular rice dosa.  It is primarily dependent on the variety of rice and proportions of parboiled rice, raw white rice and black gram daal or Urad Daal.  Besides, the white dosa has to ferment to perfection for superior output and all this is a bit complicated for people who have never tried it.

The Ragi* Dosa is simple to make, nutritious and always turns out perfectly well!
In my last post I promised to give the recipe for Ragi Dosa.  I know it may not be possible to get Ragi flour everywhere else in the world.  I encourage you to try this recipe with Buckwheat Flour or any other flour made from non-glutenous grains or cereals like buckwheat, quinoa and millet.  Here's the recipe and you may substitute the Ragi flour with the non-glutenous flour available to you.  My friend Mark Steinberg from New York did a fantastic experiment with buckwheat flour and I am proud to reproduce excerpts of his email communication to me along with his pictures of the process.  Also check out recipes for potato palya and chutney below!


RagiAfrican millet grown mainly in the southern states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.  It is the cheapest millet available in India.  People make ragi porridge or ragi balls with ragi.  Because ragi is inexpensive yet nutritious, ragi balls form the staple of most farmers’ and peasants’ diet in these states.

Ragi Flour (or any non glutenous flour such as buck wheat flour)              5 measures
Urad Daal (black gram daal)                                                                   1 measure
salt to taste
water as required

Wash and Soak the urad daal in plenty of water for about 2-3 hours.  Drain the water and blend the bloated soaked daal with fresh water and salt in a blender into a fine paste the consistency of pancake batter.  Blend the flour along with water into a paste of the same consistency and mix the two pastes well.  Let the batter stand for 6 hours (or more in cold climatic conditions) to ferment.  The batter should be fluffy when it is ready and sufficiently fermented.

Scoop up a little fermented batter and pour it on the center of a heated skillet or tava an spread the batter evenly using a flat bottomed steel cup or a deep ladle.  While spreading the batter, move your hand in a circular motion, spreading the batter wider on the pan with each round.  This takes a little practice.  Add a few drops of oil on the dosa and leave it on the pan until the edges begin to rise.  If the dosa is thick, flip it over to cook the other side. Put some potato palya in the center and fold the dosa into half.  Serve with coconut or peanut chutney. 

Now check out what Mark did in his kitchen with buckwheat instead of ragi!

Here's what he had to say - " I think what happened is that it took a very long time to ferment. I left the batter out for about 6 hours before I made the dosa, but little had changed. Also, maybe I didn't have the
pan hot enough. They came out more like a pancake than a dosa. So I left the batter out overnight and in the morning, no change. But by the late afternoon it was fluffy and bubbly! I'm guessing that's what is supposed to happen. "

The next afternoon ~ bubbly-frothy dosa batter.  Perfectly ready to pour out!

Potato Palya
Serves 4 to 6.
Potatoes, boiled and semi mashed
4 large
Cooking oil
4 Tbsp
Mustard seeds
½ tsp
Cumin seeds
½ tsp
Curry leaves
2 sprigs
Green chillies, slit in the middle
Chana daal
1 tsp
Onions, finely sliced
2 cups
Turmeric powder
¼ tsp
½ cup
Ginger, freshly grated
1 tsp
Coriander leaves, finely chopped
to taste

Heat oil in a hot pan.  Add the mustard seeds and heat until they pop or sputter.  Add cumin seeds, curry leaves,chana daal and chillies and fry until chillies are sautéed and the daal turns golden.  Add onions and fry for about 2 minutes.  Add turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds.  Add ½ cup of water and salt to the frying mixture and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add ginger and mashed potatoes and mix well.  Leave on the stove for a couple of minutes.  Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and serve with dosas, chapattis, and poories.  You may even use the potato palya to make excellent grilled sandwiches.

Peanut Chutney
Makes approximately 4 to 6 servings.
Roasted peanuts
2 cups
Fresh grated coconut (optional)
½ cup
Green chilli or dried red chilli
2 or per taste
Mint leaves
1 cup (loosely)
Tamarind paste
1½ Tbsp
Onion, chopped (optional)
1 small
Garlic (optional)
2 cloves
Coriander leaves
1 small bunch
to taste
Water for grinding

Sauté mint leaves and chillies for a couple of minutes with two to three drops of oil.  You can also skip sautéing the mint and chilies, and instead add raw mint and chillies to the mixture.  Blend this with peanuts, coconut, tamarind, and salt, with enough water to make a rough paste.  Add garlic, onion, and coriander leaves and grind for five more seconds.  Serve with items such as idli, dosa, chapattis, upma.

Serve Ragi Masala Dosa hot for breakfast or an anytime healthy snack!

All pictures (except one - the dosa on the pan) in this blog are taken by Mark Steinberg in his New York apartment kitchen!

Enjoy making dosas and remember the golden rule of all times applicable to everything in life - practice makes perfect!