Sunday, October 7, 2012

Navaratna Kurma (Mixed Vegetables and Cottage cheese in a mild curry)

With winter approaching, home made dinner will be preferable mostly and recently I have been experimenting some variations in Veg Kurma, Paneer curry etc. I have tried this Kurma many times before and we all love it, but this time I had some time to click a shot at the end.

Navratna (9 gems) Kurma is a famous Indian side dish for chapatis and is referred to having a combination of 9 different vegetables, fruits and nuts cooked in a rich creamy gravy. This comes down from Mughlai tradition if I remember it right. In most Indian restaurants, heavy cream is used for the gravy, but to lighten it you can use cashew paste and milk combined. Almost all Paneer gravys have similar ingredients and this one is no different. But I believe the fruits and nuts give a twist in the taste, especially the pineapples and raisins. I have tried this recipe with and without pineapple and I relish it both ways.

  • Chopped mixed vegetables (I used carrot, peas, potatoes and cauliflower) - 2 cups
  • Onions - chopped finely - 3/4 cup
  • Ginger - 1 inch
  • Garlic - 3 medium sized cloves
  • Green chilly - 1  
  • Tomato Puree - 1 cup
  • Tomato Paste - 2 tsp
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Garam Masala powder - 1 tsp
  • Cashewnuts (soaked in water) - 10 pieces
  • Heavy cream - 1 tbsp (You can substitute with 1/4 cup milk)
  • Raisins - 15
  • Chopped Pineapple - (1/2 inch cubes - 6 - 8)
  • Paneer cubes - a few
  • Corriander leaves - a handful
  • Grind the Ginger, garlic and chilly to a paste. Set aside.
  • Grind the soaked cashews and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a kadai (I use a butter and oil), and add the rasins. Once they puff up, add onions. Fry until it starts to change the color.
  • Add the Ginger/Garlic/Chilly paste and fry for a min
  • Add the tomato paste, tomato puree and salt and fry for a 2 - 3mins.
  • Add the spice powders, fry them for a min, cover and cook well in medium heat until the raw smell goes (3 - 4 mins)
  • Add the vegetables, 1/2 cup water, cover and cook for a few more mins until the vegetables are almost cooked.
  • Add the cashew paste and pineapple and boil for a few more mins until the vegetables are fully cooked.
  • Add Paneer cubes and heavy cream (or milk) at the end and boil for a min, until the mixture comes to a gravy consistency.
  • Garnish with corriander leaves.
 Serve hot with Rotis or Naans.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Suyyam - Ganesh Chathurthi Special

Happy Ganesh Chathurthi to everyone!  This is one festival I look forward to every year. Not only Lord Ganesh has a special place in my heart, this festival also brings back childhood memories. I used to like the shopping part - looking around the cute idols with beautiful decorations and finally making up the mind to select one after a huge dilemma.  Although at that time I didn't quite understand the ritual of immersing the idol in water to dissolve, as I grew up, I learned that it symbolizes his journey towards Kailash taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees. And ofcourse, I like this festival for the special kozhukattais (modak).

Here is a sweet for this special occasion. This is a famous south indian sweet, originating from Trinelveli region but made widely across all parts of Tamilnadu. I have heard from many people that they love this sweet. I love the filling part and can finish it off just just like that. This filling can also be used for Kozhukattai (Modak) and Puran Poli. Sometimes I make extra and store it in the refregirator to make poli a few days later.

  • Chana dal (Bengal gram) - 1 cup
  • Jaggery powder - 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom - 4 pieces
  • Shredded coconut (fresh) - 1/2 cup
  • Maida or all purpose flour - 1/2 cup
  • Salt - a pinch
  • Ghee - 2 tsp
  • Baking soda - a pinch
  • Idli batter - 1/2 cup (optional)
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Pressure cook Chana dal, drain the water and grind it to a coarse paste with jaggery powder and cardamom. Set aside.
  • Heat the ghee in a wide pan and add the chana dal paste and shredded coconut. Fry in low heat until all the excess water is gone and the mixture comes together to a consistency to make balls. This may take about 6-8 mins. Let it cool down for a few mins.
  • Meanwhile, mix the all purpose flour, salt and baking soda together. Add water and make it into a semi-thin batter (should not be too thick). If you have idli batter, you can omit the baking soda and salt.
  • Make small balls out of the filling, dip them in the batter and deep fry them in batches.
  • Remove them in a paper napkin to remove excess oil.
Serve hot garnished with shredded coconut. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Baingan Bartha (Smoked eggplant cooked with spices)

Baingan Bartha or Baingan ka Bartha is another popular side dish for Rotis/Chapatis in North India. One of my favorite dishes too. The authentic recipe suggests roasting the eggplant in Tandoori oven. Alternatively, the eggplants could also be roasted in many other ways like gas/charcoal grill, stove top direct flame, conventional oven or microwave oven. Believe it or not, I even tried this in pressure cooker once, and it came out quite well. I like it when I bake it in oven and hence usually plan a bit ahead while making this dish.

 I learned this from a friend who used to prepare this during our camping trips with lots of patience. It comes out delicious when grilled in charcoal or gas grill. This is a perfect dish when you have that extra time to grill the eggplants while chit-chatting with your family or friends during camping or on a backyard patio and munching some snacks. I have tried this in various ways, but can't replicate my friend's dish thats usually grilled. It carries a unique flavor. I also realized that once the eggplants are grilled, carefully mashing them also adds taste. The mild taste of onions and tomatoes spiced up with chilli and cumin powders give the perfect combination for eggplant.

If you are an eggplant lover, one more recipe to try in the line.

  • Large eggplant - 1
  • Finely chopped onions - 1/2 cup
  • Finely chopped g.chillies - 1 tbsp
  • Finely chopped garlic - 1 tbsp
  • Finely chopped tomatoes - 1/2 cup
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Cumin powder - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Corriander leaves - to garnish

  • Wash the eggplant, rub olive oil on it and bake in a tray for 30 - 40 mins in 350 degrees. The skin should be well shrinked and inserting a knife into the eggplant should be easy.
  • Meanwhile finely chop the onions, g.chillies, garlic and tomatoes. Set aside.
  • Remove the eggplant from the oven, remove the stem portion, peel off the skin.  Carefully mash the eggplant with a ladle as it will be too hot. You can aslo let it cool and mash it using hand. I prefer hand just to make sure its completely mashed.
  • Add salt to the mashed eggplant, mix well and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a wide pan. Season with cumin seeds. Add chopped g.chillies and garlic and fry for a min. Add onions and fry until it changes color.
  • Add all the spice powders and fry for a few mins in medium heat.
  • Finally add mashed eggplant and tomatoes together. Mix well, cover and cook for a few mins.
  • Add chopped corriander leaves and fry until the mixture becomes thick and comes together.
Delicious Baingan Bartha is ready!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bread Pakoras

Its been a very hot summer this year and almost everyday I have been trying to make something chilly like smoothies & lemonade as thirst quenchers. With extreme heat, we have been avoiding outdoors mostly this summer. I try making a few new snacks whenever I have some time in the afternoon and I now look forward to making them everyday since they don't require a lot of thought and could be pretty satisfying for a mini meal. I try to keep it healthy as much as possible like Yogurt parfait, Fruit medley, Fruit muffins etc.

Today, for a change I tried a hot and savory snack - Bread Pakoras. This is a great snack when you have those few extra slices of bread that you don't want to waste. And a  great tea-time snack too!

For the Batter
  • Gram Flour (Besan) - 1 cup
  • Rice flour - 2 tbsp
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Baking soda - a pinch
  • Salt - as required
 For the Stuffing
  • Bread Slices - 6 (White or Wheat, medium size)
  • Potatoes - 1 large
  • Chopped vegetables - 1/2 cup (Peas, Carrots, French beans - mixed)
  • Ginger - 1 tsp (finely chopped)
  • G.Chillies - 2 (finely chopped)
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Corriander leaves - a hand full (finely chopped)
  • Salt - as required
  • Green chutney (Optional) - 1 tbsp (store bought is fine)
  • Oil to deep fry
  • Boil the potatoes, peel and mash them. Set aside.
  • Boil all other vegetables together, drain and save the water, mash the vegetables slightly with a laddle.
  • Add the mashed potatoes to the vegetables and mix well.
  • Now add salt, ginger, g.chillies, cumin seeds and corriander leaves and mix well to make a thick stuffing.
  • Make 6 medium sized balls out of this mixture and arrange it on a plate.
  • Heat oil for deep frying.
  • Prepare the batter by mixing all ingredients given under batter along with some water. The batter needs to be a little watery and not thick.
  • Transfer the cooked water from the vegetables in a wide bowl.
  • Take a bread, cut off the crusts and quickly dip the slice in the vegetable water. The slice should be fully wet, but not over soaked.
  • Place the wet slice flat on your palm, use the other palm and squeeze out the excess water.
  • Spread the green chutney on the bread and then place a vegetable ball on the slice. Cover it with the slice and seal the top. To make it easy, I usually use a round shaped cookie cutter and cut the wet slice to a round slice - this is easy to cover and seal the stuffing. If not, you can still make it with square slices and remove the excess bread left at the top while sealing.
  • Dip it in the batter and deep fry it in oil under medium heat until golden brown.
  • Repeat it with all other slices and drain the excess oil in a paper towel.
Serve hot with sweet chutney and hot tea!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Karuvadu Fry (Dry-Fish fried with onions and mild spices)

Here is an authentic south indian recipe for sea food lovers. Dry-fish (Karuvadu) is a common seafood delicacy in most non-vegetarian families in south. Mom used to make it occasionally but I almost forgot this recipe after I moved to the US. The main reason being that I don't find dry-fish in stores here and another reason is that I can't replicate the taste like mom's dish whatsoever. I lost interest in this dish altogether for the last few years. My parents have visited us this summer and after a long time I enjoyed it thoroughly when mom made this dish. It indeed brought back my old passion back and I'm now motivated to make this dish often. She adds lots of onions and slow-roasts the dry fish with mild spices and turns out to be a very flavorful dish. 


Dry-fish (Any kind, Sear fish preferred) - 1 lb
Pearl Onions - 20 nos (chopped fine). You can substitue with 1 cup of finely chopped red onions, but definitely pearl onions add taste to this dish.
Red onion - 1 medium (chopped fine)
Green chillies - 4
Chilli powder - 1/2 to 1 tsp (adjust to your taste)
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - a few

  • Soak the dry-fish in hot water for at least 5 mins.
  • Heat some extra oil in a wide pan (A cast iron vessel is preferred).
  • Add onions and green chillies and fry until onions start changing color.
  • Add the dry-fish, chilli powder, turmeric and fry well. Don't add salt now as the dry-fish already has salt.
  • Add 3 tbsp water and cover for 10 mins. Once the dry-fish becomes soft, check for salt. By this time dry-fish would have released it salt content. If needed, add a bit more salt.
  • Raise the heat, and roast it well by continously stir-frying gently until the water completely evaporates and the oil starts to release. At this stage, the onions are fully roasted. This will take at least 10 mins.
  • Add curry leaves and stir-fry slowly for another 2 -3 mins.
Awesome Karuvadu fry is ready! Enjoy with any kind of rice dish. Best combo is rasam rice and yogurt rice.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cabbage and Egg Stir-fry - A Simple Combo

Cabbage used to be one of my least favorite vegetables in my childhood. To me it was a stinky vegetable with no taste. As I grew, my taste buds changed and I started loving cabbage - even a plain steamed cabbage with salt is sufficient for me to enjoy this vegetable nowadays. As I started trying new dishes, I learned quite a few interesting variations with cabbage.

Here is a yummy variation - Cabbage stir fried with eggs.  Mom makes this often and it tastes yummy when she makes it as usual. This is the only recipe with cabbage my daughter loves too. Otherwise, she wrinkles
 her nose at the mere mention if this vegetable and she comes up with a myriad of excuses to not eat it. When combined with egg, it gives a different flavor and makes it quite different.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Madurai Style Chicken Curry

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer. I just wish we had more rain.

Feels good to post a recipe after a long time! During my break, I received several requests to post chicken recipes. Here I am, back with a chicken curry recipe that goes well with Idli, Dosa and Appam. This is made with a fresh aromatic spice powder that is prepared instantly. This chicken curry is quite popular in in the southern region of our state. While growing up in Madurai I enjoyed this often, especially in restaurants. I finally got the recipe for this curry from a friend.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stuffed Okras

Happy New Year Everyone! Hope you all had a great holiday season. Like many people, I am not good at keeping up New year resolutions. They are easy to make, but not easy to keep. I recently read that a study shows that the average time most people stick to their New Year’s Resolution is one month. I am one of them. I have tried and given up now. These days, I tend to make commitments anytime in the year, when I really have the spirit to do it. And my simple solution to keep up with commitments is lowering the bar - I try to set realistic goals, yet demanding goals - something that can still give me a satisfaction of Mission accomplished!

With that being said, I certainly do have some things I would like to get better at in 2012. The first and foremost is "Post more often"! I started my previous year with the same goal and have not been good in keeping up with it :) However this year it is more realistic since I will be done with my school in a few months and certainly looking forward to get back my time to do my favorite things. The second one is "Eat a healthy breakfast". I'm not a breakfast person. Except in the weekends and when I am on vacation, I don't really eat breakfast. Although I've started practicing the habit of eating breakfast since last September, I would like to get regular at it and making it more healthier is this year's goal - probably a step ahead. Hoping to keep up with these two as much as I can.

About this recipe, this recipe is adapted from a cookbook. I made it a while back and tweaked a little bit to suit my taste. Okra is something that I get fresh many times during the week in my local grocery store. If I have the patience, I end up collecting fairly tender ones during my visits, although not always - especially when the store is crowded and 3 people plunging their hands into the box at the sametime to get the Okras. I do not prefer shopping during busy times and hate making my way through the aisles when it is crowded. So, I shop when it is dead. One quiet day, I was lucky to see the store keeper dumping some fresh okras in the box right in front of me and obviously I bought a few pounds. This dish came out so good with those tender okras. Definitely worth a try.


  • Fresh tender Okras - 15 numbers

  • Chilli powder - 1 tsp

  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp

  • Turmeric - 1/4 tsp

  • Dry Mango powder - 1/2 tsp

  • Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp (optional)

  • Peanut Powder (finely powdered) - 2 tbsps

  • Ginger / Garlic paste - 1 tbsp

  • Tomato Ketchup - 1 tsp

  • Tomatoes - 1 medium (finely chopped)

  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp

  • Olive oil - 2 tbsp

  • Corriander leaves - chopped -a handfull

  • Salt - as required


  • Wash the okras, pat dry with a paper towel. Remove the front and back parts. Set aside.

  • Take a large flat pan, preferably non-stick and heat 2 tsp of oil. Add the full okras and give it a quick toss for 2 -3 mins on high heat. Keep stir-frying continuosly until you see a few brown spots on the okras. Remove from heat and cool for 5 mins.

  • Meanwhile to prepare the stuffing, mix all the spice powders above with tomato ketchup and salt to a smooth paste. You can add a few drops of water if needed. The paste should be thick and should stay intact within the okras when stuffed.

  • Slit the Okras in the middle, but not fully. Take a okra, fill it with the paste, tightly close it and wipe off the extra paste outside. You can use a small flat dinner knife if that helps.

  • Repeat this for all okras and set aside.

  • Heat the remaining oil in the pan, season with cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a min. Then add chopped tomatoes and fry until they become a paste.

  • Add the stuffed okras and add the remaining stuffing, if any. Give it a good slow stir and and spread the okras individually throughout the pan.

  • Cook in low heat until the okras are fully cooked. Takes about 20 mins. Keep stirring often every few mins. When done, season with Corriander leaves.

You now have another great side dish for rotis!