Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Minestrone Soup

Previous day Preparations


Broiled-Buttered Asparagus & Beans

Onions and Shallots in Creamy Sauce

Oven Roasted/Broiled Squashes

Main Course

Baked Vegetable Lasagna

Stuffed Manicotti ready for Baking

Baked Manicotti


Apple Pie and Coconut-Custard Pie

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Breakfast and Lunch

Here is the Breakfast and Lunch that I prepared on a classes-free Saturday.(No Soccer, No Ballet , No Theatre performance... Yippee! )


Kambu(Pearl Millet) Dosa
Milagai Podi
Filter coffee


Cabbaga-Potato Kootu
Carrot Kosumbari
Broccoli-Beans Usili

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Diwali Sweets & Savories

Without a doubt, INDIA is the land of many festivals and we celebrate festivals all year round. Out of all, Diwali and Pongal rank the top in Tamilnadu. I try to celebrate all our Indian festivals here in US as much as we do in INDIA. To me, Celebrations are one way to teach cultural values to our kids. I enjoyed lighting lot of diyas at home while kids enjoyed lighting sparklers with Mr.B outside.

Here are some of the sweets and savories I made for DIWALI.

Microwave Kalakand

Last month, my friend brought kalakand to the office and everyone liked it. I have to thank my friend who shared this recipe with me. I was really hooked to the recipe as it is so simple to make in a microwave.


Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese - 15 oz tub
Sweetened Condensed Milk - 1 can
Cardamom Powder - 1 tsp
Some Pistachios


Grease a microwaveable square bowl (Pyrex) with little ghee at the bottom and the sides. Combine Ricotta cheese and Condensed milk in the ratio 1:1. Add the cardamom powder to the mixture and mix well. Microwave the contents for five minutes. Take it out, stir the mixture and microwave it again. Repeat this process
several times till the mixture turns to grainy texture and slight discoloration from white to light brown . Make sure the mixture doesn't become too dry. Cool the mixture and cut it into square pieces . Sprinkle chopped Pistachios on top and serve.

Notes: Make the ratio of cheese:milk to 2:1 if you prefer less sweet.

Gulab Jamun

Sweet Thukkada

Ribbon Pakoda or Cheeval

Spicy Thukada



Rice flour -4 cups
Urad flour -1 cup
Cumin seeds-1 tbs
Butter -3 tbs softened at room temperature
Salt - 1tbs+1/4 tsp
Oil for frying


Combine Rice and Urad flour. Add cumin seeds, pinch of hing ,butter and mix itwell. Add little water and make it a soft dough . Keep oil in a kadai under medium heat. Take a portion of the dough and keep it inside the Muruku Press and press it directly into the oil in circles. Alternatively you can make circle on a greased-flat spatula and slide it into the oil. Deep fry them till it become golden or until the bubbles in the oil stops. Remove the murukku from the oil using a slotted spatula. Once cooled , store it in an air tight container and enjoy!

My mom used to reserve the last batch of dough to make semi-cooked muruku for my grandma. I did the same this time for my father-in-law. I liked that too. Semi-cooked murukku is nothing but half cooked, non crsipy murukku. To make that, remove the murukku from the oil within few seconds after you slide it in the oil. This should be eaten hot.

Do not stuff the muruku press fully. Just fill 3/4th of its size. It makes hard to
press if you fill the press fully.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sprouted Moong Bhel


Sprouted Moong - 2 cups
Puffed rice - 2 cups
Red onion - 1 finely chopped
Carrot - 1 grated
Tomato - 1 finely chopped
red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Fresh Lemon Juice - 1 tbs
Salt to taste
green chillies -3 chopped finely
Coriander leaves - 2 tbs finely chopped
Sev(thin) - 1 cup

For the Sprouts
Soak whole moong overnight in water . Drain it the next day and let it sprout either in a sprout maker or cheesecloth for a day.


Microwave sprouted moong for 5 minutes with very little water and keep it aside. Drain water if any . Heat a tablespoon of oil in a kadai. Temper the mustard seeds and add rice puffs,moong,grated carrot,onion,tomatoes, red chilli powder and salt . Give a quick toss and switch off the flame. Squeeze lemon juice. Garnish with finely chopped green chillies, thin sev and corriander leaves just before you serve.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vegetarian Thali for Lunch

My son has become so obsessed with vegetarian thali nowadays. When he was in India for summer vacation, he would go to restaurants several times a week just to have veg.thali. He told me over the phone very often that he had a big lunch for just a dollar(rs->$). Here is my version of the same .

Vegetarian Thali:

Ulunthamparuppu Saadham (Black gram Dhal & Rice),
Mulangi Poriyal(Raddish)
Collard Greens Kootu
Aviyal(Mixed Vegetables in Coconut gravy)
Coconut-Sesame chutney
Home-made yogurt
Gulab jamun
Gingelly oil
Vadagam(sun dried onion&urad balls)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Peanut Cabbage Bhel

Here is the second version of Healthy Bhel. This time I used boiled peanuts instead of sprouted moong. I savoured this snack many times during my recent vacation to Chennai,INDIA. The street vendors sell this snack in push carts in the beach , in front of shopping stores in T.Nagar...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garlic Penne with Basil and Parsley

Just got some time to publish this old post. I am too busy these days with my job, everyday cooking, running for the classes for both of my kids and the list is endless. I am too exhausted by the end of the day (11 p.m) and Mr.B doesn't let me blog after that.

It's been a while we had pasta at home since my son went to INDIA for vacation. We would make at least thrice a week when he is around.

Having totally fed up with idli,dosas and rice varieties, I made a simple pasta dinner yesterday with fresh herbs from my garden (I have plenty of herbs in my garden. I prune (harvest) them several times for giveaways and hang dry to have dried herbs and still it is growing rapidly).


Penne Pasta - 1 Box
Garlic - 2 Big cloves
Lime Juice - 1 tbs Freshly Squeezed
Chili Flakes - 1 tbs
Fresh Parsley - 2 tbs
Fresh Basil - 2 tbs
Salt - 1 tbs
Olive oil - 2 tbs
Parmesan Cheese

Bring a large pot of water with salt to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook for 8-10minutes or until al dente. I cooked mine for just 6 minutes as it is small penne. Reserve a cup of pasta water, drain and return to pot. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic, sun-dried tomatoes , parsley-Basil for about a minute. Add red pepper flakes, lime juice and lime Zest. Add the pasta water and stir in the cooked pasta. Drizzle little olive oil over the pasta. Adjust the salt to the taste. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and serve.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Yummy Fried Plantains

Sweet-Fried plantain is one of the favorite snacks of me and Mr. B . We enjoyed savoring this dish several times in Cuban Restaurants in Miami. They serve this dish in the name "Plátanos Maduros" meaning Ripened Plantains.


Plantains - 2 (Firm and Ripened)
Sugar - 4 to 5 tbs
Oil - for frying

Method :

Peel the plantains and slice them into 1/8" thin rounds. Fry the plantains in oil, turning occasionally, until they are caramalized or turned golden brown for about 2 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle the plantains with the confectioner's sugar and serve hot.


I coated the plantains with little sugar before frying as the plantains weren't that ripe and I couldn't wait. Plantains will be very sweet if the skin is fully black and ripened. You can fry the plantains in Ghee too. I enjoyed this plantain (Nenthrapazham in TAMIL ) in the form of Ethakka Appam/Pazham Pori in Nagercoil.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Strawberry Pannacotta

Panna Cotta is a luscious creamy dessert originated in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Panna Cotta is an Italian phrase which literally means "Cooked Cream" made by cooking together cream and sugar, then adding gelatin and cooling it. I chose this recipe as I had the heavy cream and pick-your-own Strawberries from Stultsfarm in the fridge.


Strawberries - 1/2 cup (about 16)
Powdered Sugar - 1 cup
Heavy Cream - 1 1/4 cups
Gelatin packet - 2

Sprinkle Gelatin powder in little cold milk , stir well and keep it aside. Blend the strawberry in the mixer with little milk until smooth, seive it through and discard the solids. Meanwhile heat a saucepan over medium heat. Combine heavy cream, sugar and strawberry liquid and cook it in low heat. Mix the hot cream into the gelatin. Mix it well. Pour the creamy gelatin mixture in equal amounts into four small ramekins. Refrigerate for 4 hrs . Top it with strawberry syrup and sprigs of mint before you serve .

Friday, June 20, 2008

Creamy pasta with Arugula and Parmesan cheese

I usually cut the Arugula from my herb garden every other week and my son adores any dish made out of it. Here is the pasta dish which I made with heavy cream and loads of parmesan cheese.

I made the dish the same way I made
Lemony Cellentani with Arugula except that I omitted
the lemon and added heavy cream and cherry tomatoes.

Jicama with Home grown Dill


Jicama - 1 cup cubed
Dill - a small bunch
Chili powder - 1tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp (optional)


Microwave Jicama pieces for 5 minutes. Wash and chop the Dill weeds. Take a teaspoon of oil in a kadai, add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start to splutter, add Jicama pieces, turmeric, Chili and salt . Give a nice toss. Add the chopped dill weeds and cook for few more minutes.

Serve with roti and daal.

Mr. B and Junior B enjoyed like a snack. I and my sister preferred the salad over this.

Refreshing Jicama(Pronounced hee-kah-mah) - Cucumber Salad

Other Names: fan-ko (China), sankalu (India), sinkamas (Philippines)

Thank you all for your participation and guesses. It's nothing but JICAMA also called mexican potatoes or yam bean or Mexican turnip(Pachyrhizus erosus). It is a tuber that belongs to the morning glory family that hails from Mexico and South America. This vegetable is characterized as a cross between an apple and a potato. Jícama is very popular in Vietnam, known as 'cu dau' or 'cu san'.

Whenever I go for vegetable shopping (farmer's market, Wegman's, Shoprite) ,I have the habit of picking up some new stuff (could be anything) every time . I always wanted to buy this tuberous root in the grocery store but I was hesitant somehow to buy the odd rugged looking vegetable in the produce section. I never thought it could be eaten raw until recently. It's a great vegetable to serve raw on a crudité(raw) platter as it doesn't discolor like potatoes. It has crunchy white flesh inside tastes similar to that of water chestnuts, more aptly vaalaithandu (plantain stem) but sweeter. It can also be sautéed or boiled. I made couple of dishes using this.

Jicama has less starch and fewer calories than potatoe has. If you want to have a low carb and low calorie summer snack, go for Jicama-Cucumber salad. Jicama retains it's crispness even after it is boiled or sauteed. I think Jicama also belongs to the acquired taste vegetable category.


Jicama(Peeled and Julienned) - 1 cup
Cucumber(Peeled,seeded and Julienned) - 1 cup
lime Juice - 1 tsp -
chili powder - 1/4 tsp
corriander leaves(chopped) - 1 tsp
Kosher salt


Toss together Jicama,Cucumber and chili powder. Add freshly squeezed lime juice, chopped corriander leaves and salt and give a nice toss. Let the salad sit for 15- 20minutes to absorb the flavor. Serve this crunchy and refreshing salad on a hot summer day.

You can make variations to the salad by adding shredded carrots, papaya, beets etc.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Banana Nut Bread

All my family members, except my husband, treat our tummies with Idli,Dosa and what not for breakfast . Mr.B sticks strictly with cereals in the morning. He loves to eat any cereal that has a hint of banana. His favorite one is Post Banana Nut Crunch. I decided to make the Banana nut bread (he loves it) as an alternate to his everyday (boring, to me at least) cereals. I think it's o.k to make this once a week though it's not that healthy as cereal because of the fat added. I made the bread this weekend with the help of my two lovely kids (they volunteered). I altered a bit of the recipe that my sister printed it from net. The recipe is very simple if you have the ingredients handy in your pantry. The bread came out really good and moist. Here is the recipe of my first ever successful baking.


All Purpose Flour : 2 cups
Sugar : 3/4 of a cup
Eggs : 2
Salt : 1/4 tsp
Butter : 1 stick(softened)
Bananas : 3 ripened
Almonds : 1/4 cup(chopped)
Baking Soda : 1 tsp
Pure Vanilla Essence: 1 tsp


Combine flour and baking soda . Mix it well. You can sift both together to mix evenly. Add salt and sugar to the flour. Mash the bananas roughly and add to the flour . Add slightly beaten eggs , vanilla essence, half of the almonds and butter and mix them thoroughly. Be gentle with the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with butter on the bottom and sides. Pour the batter into the pan and top it off with the remaining chopped almonds. Bake for an hour , or until the time when a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Set it to cool for 5 minutes. Turn the pan upside down gently and the bread slides off nicely from the pan. Enjoy the bread with a cup of tea.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beetroot Jam

Beetroot Jam is one I always enjoy since my childhood. If you are from Tamilnadu, especially from south of it, you might have tasted this Jam several times during happy occasions.. Here is the recipe.


Beetroot - 3
Sugar - 1 1/2 cup
Honey - 1/4 cup
Ghee - 3 tbs
Dates -10 (Roughly chopped)
Vanilla Essence (optional)
Nuts (optional)


Peel the skin of the beet and quarter them. Pressure cook the beet for one whistle. Purée the cooked beet in a blender. The beetroot bunch made 3 cups of Purée. Combine beetroot Purée and sugar in a deep bottomed vessel and boil over low to medium heat. Stir the Purée consistently so that it doesn't stick to the pan. You can add some ghee to avoid the puree sticking to the bottom. Add the honey to the Purée. The Purée will tend to turn again watery because of honey. Keep stirring until it has turned to thick consistency . At the end add chopped nuts and dates and give a nice stir. Allow it to cool.I didn't add any preservatives or essence. I like the flavor of beet as such.Use it as a spread for bread or crackers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Semi-Homemade Pizza

Who would ever dislike pizza, especially if made at home?. My family enjoyed the pizza that I made with the store bought dough this evening. Yes, it came out really yummizza! This is the second time I am trying with store bought dough. First time it didn't come out well. May be because I didn't let the dough sit to reach the room temperature before rolling it.


Pizza dough - 1 pack
Yellow Onion - 1 sliced in rounds
Jalapeño - 3 finely sliced in rounds
Shredded Mozzarella - 3/4 of a pack
Pizza Sauce - 1/4 cup


First roll out the pizza dough. To prevent the dough sticking to the surface, lightly dust the surface with flour. I just tried to imitate the professional pizza makers (roll out with both my hands) and I succeeded a bit. If you can't do that turn the pizza dough into a ball and using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a nice circle as you do for paratha.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the pan with oil. Place the rolled pizza dough on the pan. Smear pizza sauce evenly on top of the dough and sprinkle the Mozzarella cheese liberally (like an extra cheese topping). Finally top it of with onions and Jalapeño peppers and bake it for 15 mts or to perfection.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Lemony Cellentani with home grown Arugula

Arugula the peppery, strong scented herb is the latest addition to my herb garden this year. Argula has slender toothed leaves that are rich in Vitamin A & C and an excellent source of folate. It also provides phyto-nutrients & beta-caratone that promotes healthy eyes, skin and immune function. Arugula is normally eaten raw in salads. It has an acquired taste meaning that you don't fall in love with the taste at the first time. But you could get used to the taste gradually. I picked the tender ones to make this dish as it has milder flavor compared to matured leaves that are very pungent.


Cellentani Pasta - 2 Cups
(corkscrew shaped)
Arugula - 1 cup
Chili Flakes - 1 tbs
Lemon Zest (grated) - 1 tbs
Lemon Juice - 1 tbs
Garlic (Minced) - 3 cloves
Sun dried tomatoes - 7
Parmesan Cheese - 2 tbs
Olive oil


Cook pasta according to package directions with 1/2 tsp of salt and a tablespoon of oil. Drain well reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Meanwhile take out the arugula leaves from their stems. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sauté till it becomes golden brown. Add the sun dried tomatoes, arugula leaves and sauté the leaves until wilted. Add the reserved water,lemon zest and chili flakes. Stir in pasta and cook for a minute. Pour lemon juice over pasta. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and serve immedietly.


Sun dried tomatoes in oil tastes better than the simply dried ones. As I used latter, I soaked for a min in the water to plump it up.


I made this dish for the third time within a week as per my son's request and that shows the sure success of this dish. I altered the recipe little bit everytime. One time adding heavy cream along with the pasta water and next time adding fire roasted tomatoes.