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Semiya Paayasam – Vermicelli Payasam

It was MAHASHIVARATRI yesterday. This day brings back fond memories of my late maternal Grandma.

I have seen and learnt about this wonderful day from her, she was an ardent devotee and very sincere with everyday pooja rituals and fasting. Let me share with you whatever my Grandma taught me :)

How is MAHASHIVARATRI celebrated:

MahaShivaratri or the Night of Shiva is celebrated with great fervour to honour Lord Shiva.?Shiva temples have ritual worship and abhisekham every few hours on this day where LORD Shiva in Lingam form is bathed with milk,honey,yogurt,sugar and water. It is pure bliss to watch these abhisekams.

Devotees observed a day and night fast. A few fast with consumption of milk and fruits while I remember my Grandmother used to fast even without drinking water. They do not sleep on the night of MahaShivaratri, instead they keep chanting “OM NAMAHA SHIVAYA” throughout the night and singing in praise of the LORD, only early in the morning they break their fast with the prasadam offered.?Observance of this fast and keeping awake during the night is believed to liberate us from this sinful cycle of birth and death as mortals.

Legends behind the Celebration:

( source http://www.mahashivratri.org/)

According to one of the most popular legends, Shivaratri marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati.

According to another version of the legend, Goddess Parvati performed tapas and prayers on the auspicious moonless night of Shivaratri to ward off any evil that may befall her husband. Since then, womenfolk began the custom of praying for the well being of their husbands and sons on Shivaratri day. Unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal husband.

The legend of Shiva Linga or Lingodbhavamurthy is deeply related to Mahashivaratri. The legend narrates the story of vain search by Brahma and Vishnu to discover the Aadi (beginning) and the Antha (end) of Lord Shiva. The legend thus proves the supremacy of Lord Mahadeva over other Hindu Gods and explains why the lingam is believed to be one of the most potent emblems in Hindu ideals. Since it was on the 14th day in the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna that Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Linga, the day is extremely auspicious and is celebrated as?Mahashivaratri - the grand night of Shiva.

Ok now to my story.. My husband’s work has been crazy for a long time now. Yesterday he had to work late (he is the reason behind this posts delay :P ) , nothing surprising..hmm So I just had to make a simple offering to Lord Shiva – Semiya Payasam. For me Shiva is always the most forgiving and wonderful. Legends say he accepted even wild boar a hunter offered him with pure devotion , so I am sure he accepted my payasam too :D He sure was double pleased with the way my 21 month old did pooja to him and offered him the Paayasam .. so pure and so innocent …

Now to the recipe


What’s needed :-

  • A fistful of vermicelli
  • 4 cups of milk
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of Cardamom powder (I used 2?cardamom?pods roughly smashed as I?didn’t?have the powder)
  • 2 tbsp Ghee
  • A fistful of cashewnuts n raisins

How To’s:-

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a thick bottomed pan. Fry cashews in the ghee to a golden color, remove.
  2. Add the raisins fry them until they are fluffy, remove.
  3. Add the remaining ghee and fry the vermicelli to a golden brown. Add ? of milk and boil, stir occasionally so that the milk doesnt get burnt a the bottom.
  4. When the vermicelli has absorbed all the milk, add some more milk and allow the vermicelli to cook well.
  5. When the vermicelli is fully cooked , add the sugar and remaining milk. Boil for some more time until the payasam reaches the desired consistency(thich but not too thick ;) )
  6. Add the cardamom powder. Remove from heat. Garnish with fried cashew nuts and raisins

How Not to’s

  1. Do not be generous with adding the vermicelli, lesser the better as it literally drink the milk as it cools. If you add a lot then you will have to be more generous in adding milk to make it thinner everytime.
  2. Do not forget to stir frequently else milk might burn.
  3. Do not add the sugar before the vermicelli is cooked well as sugar retard its cooking.

How simple is that ?

May LORD SHIVA bless all of us.



Pressure Cooker Chicken Biriyani- Served with Love

My dear vegan and vegetarian friends /readers, sorry that this post is not for you. Couple of my friends and relatives have been requesting for Chicken recipes and somehow I kept delaying it… Reason I am not a big meat lover … Any given day I would prefer fruits and veggies over meat.

DH Vicky is a Chickenitarian…He will come to the kitchen all of a sudden and tell me ” You know what I smell the E-seth biryani .. and its so tempting”. Now this single sentence has a lot of inbuilt meaning to it… Yes it actually indicates that Chicken has not entered my kitchen for weeks… (This is the treatment that food items receive when they are not of high interest to the chef at home :D ?)Then I promise and console him that the coming weekend he will get his biriyani.

Well as promised I make the briyani and a couple of weeks later he will again come back with the same dialogue but probably a different chicken dish… his brain has an amazing capacity to store the flavours and smell of Chicken recipes and electronic gadgets.. names of people and other stuff don’t have space there.. space crunch in grey cells :D

Now if you are wondering what is E-seth briyani… In Chennai there is a place called “Tambaram” where I grew up and this place has a small briyani stall called E-seth. You must taste the briyani they serve, it is absolutely amazing.. My husband got hooked to the taste the day he tasted ..as if its a big thing for a Chicken lover hihihi

The briyanis we get in the Indian ?restaurants here oops they are not even half as good as the ones we get back home. India has countless number of briyani recipes… I keep telling my western friends that Indian restaurants here can never to do justice in representing the Indian cuisine..I don’t blame the restaurants because that’s an impossible task. For those of you who are wondering why I say so here is a geographical fact that could help you understand better and of course help me tell you how much we Indians are proud of MOTHER INDIA

“India – 31 states, 1618 languages, 6,400 castes, 6 religions, 6 ethnic groups, 29 major festivals, and One Country-INDIA ..As Mark Twain said?India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grand mother of tradition. Our most valuable and most artistic materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only and as said by Albert?Einstein “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made!” India is the best place one can be born to.”

I am and I will always be proud to be an Indian. ?Ok now back to our discussion on cuisine, each state has multiple regions and each region has different cuisines … So I can see you nodding your head in agreement with me. Perfect, now I can peacefully go back to our E-seth briyani.. I tried recreating their magic here with my pressure cooker style briyani. After several attempts I got one that is close to that taste and I stick to it because Vicky loves it :D ?His opinion matters to me the most when it comes to Chicken recipes

All those chefs out there who define briyani as rice and meat/veggie cooked in layers in dum, please forgive this lazy gal and her short cut pressure cooker biriyani. It saves fuel, time and effort and of course it tastes great so no worries ….Here is my recipe :-


What’s needed :-

  • 2 Lb Chicken
  • 3 cups Basmati Rice
  • 2 Cups Onion ?chopped
  • 2 to 3 Cups chopped Tomatoes(depending on how tart your tomatoes are)
  • 6 Thai green chillies Slit open into two
  • 1/2 cup of mint leaves loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro chopped
  • 2 Tsp of Ginger garlic paste
  • 2.5 Tsp of Chilli powder
  • 5 to 6 Tsp of Corriander powder
  • 3 Tsp of salt
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp of Oil
  • 2 inches of cinnamon
  • 4 Cloves
  • 5 cardomom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup of yogurt

For Marination

  • 5 Tsp of lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 Tsp chilli powder
  • 1 Tsp Corriander powder
  • 1 Tsp Ginger garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp Salt

How to’s:-

  1. Wash and cut chicken(with or without bones) into small pieces and marinate for atleast half an hour using all ingredients listed for marination
  2. In a Pressure cooker heat oil and fry bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and cardomom
  3. Now add onions and saute really well because fried onions really add to the taste of this dish.
  4. When onions turn slightly brown and crispy add ginger garlic paste, along with chopped green chilli, chopped corrainder and mint leaves.
  5. When the raw smell of the ginger garlic paste is gone, add tomatoes , marinated chicken along with turmeric powder, red chilli powder, ?corriander?powder and salt.
  6. Saute till you get a nice thick gravy.
  7. Rinse 3 cups of Basmati rice and drain all water from it add this to the gravy to the rice. ?Also add 4 cups of water and 2 cups of diluted yogurt and mix well.
  8. Allow 2 whistles and swtich off.
  9. Now you can add little corrainder/cilantro leaves and mix carefully without breaking the rice.
  10. I usually serve it hot with boiled eggs and cucumber raita. E-seth serves it with bhagara baingan which Vicky doesn’t like so why take pains ;)

How NOT to’s:

  1. Generally for dum biriyanis or layered biriyanis you should rinse and soak the rice for half an hour, for pressure cooker biriyanis skip the soaking else you will not have the grains separate in the end result. We dont like mushy pongal briyani.. I bet you would not either.
  2. Always use the measuring cups for measuring rice and water for your biriyanis, eyeballing does not work all the time.


I have tried this biryani in Electric Rice cooker and turned out equally good

When Arundhuti of Gourmetaffairs announced the event “Serve with Love” the only dish that won in the running race between various favourite dishes of my sweetheart Vicky is the Chicken Biriyani. So this clear winner races off to “Serve with Love”



Crispy crunchy Orange Almond cookies

There is an animation series “The super sleuths” which has my son’s favourite POOH and Tigger in it. There is an episode which is about “COOKIE TREE”. Finally they conclude there is no such thing as Cookie tree…..Pooh was correct it would be a great idea to have a cookie tree in the backyard … Silly old bear got me into this cookie craving:)

Reality hit me hard when there were no cookies left in the cookie jar. Living in an apartment I had no backyard first of all and of course no cookie tree. What is the option left …bake some cookies.

I was staring at my pantry and fridge alternatively thinking of what cookie to bake. I found a couple of organic oranges which had almost 3 to 4 stickers on them saying? or should I say screaming that they were organic..as if one was not enough to convince me. Then I saw a packet of almonds and my brain suggested ” Orange Almond cookies” … my heart immediately fell in love with the idea.


When the cookies were baking my GOD the smell was heavenly and at last when we tasted it wow they were delicious… It was a midnight baking episode as usual.That’s the ideal time when I can be assured that I don’t have my toddler tugging my pajamas or running inside the kitchen to see how an oven works..

Coming back to the recipe Oranges add heavenly flavour to cookies…almonds are too good for your health and in addition I made the cookies with? light whole wheat flour from King arthur brand…I guess it is made with spring wheat instead of regular wheat.. so its? light. ?I am sure the recipe will work just fine even with the regular wheat flour or atta. I promise you that these cookies are totally guilt free..

Here is the recipe



What’s needed:

  • 1 cups blanched sliced almonds + a few more to top the cookies
  • 2 cups light whole wheat flour (King Arthur brand)
  • 1 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 5 tbsp of ?sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 7 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

How to’s:-

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Grind the remaining almonds to a coarse powder in a food processor or in small batches in a coffee grinder. (You can toast them slightly before grinding if you want to ..)
  3. Transfer to a mixing bowl and sift in the flour,flaxseed meal, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. In another bowl, mix the oil and sugar well.
  5. Add the egg next and beat well, then beat in the orange zest, juice, vanilla, and salt.orangealmond2
  6. Stir in the flour-almond mixture.
  7. Line the baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease them.
  8. Pinch off a little dough at a time, roll into a ball and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
  9. Flatten the balls to form cookies ( I made square cookies too :D ).orangealmond3
  10. Press a sliced almond into the center of each cookie.
  11. Bake the cookies for? 20 to 25 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Please start watching them like a hawk after the first 15 minutes.
  12. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pans, then cool on a rack.orangealmond5

These cookies became very crunchy as they cooled off… so I? thought they are the best tea time cookies. My son loves to dunk them in milk and munch them away to glory :)


It’s no more our tea time cookies its ALL TIME COOKIE… We eat it after meals as dessert too :) .. and eat one whenever we go to the kitchen

This is my entry for Sugar High Friday : Sweet comfort hosted by Kate at A Merrier World

I am all set to make my next batch of Orange Almond cookies..


Happy baking you all,


Kaanum Pongal and a feast

This is a post without any recipes but I promise a virtual feast for your eyes :D

Well ?as I told in my previous post that Kaanum Pongal is all about meeting and greeting people. Now how do you manage to meet and greet when you are stuck with bone chilling cold outside and snow covered upto the horizon??? ?Only way we could think was to invite people home.

After all it was not a bad idea. We decided to invite my husband’s co-workers, a selected few. How did we select a few? Well the criterion was simple ?”bachelor guys who will definitely miss Pongal or Sankranthi being far away from home“.

We decided we will give them a nice treat ..a PONGAL FEAST..Bachelors rejecting ?an invitation for homemade food is near to impossible.. so we received acceptance from all of them promptly.

As the theme was Pongal, we kept the menu strictly vegetarian and South Indian. The menu that we finalized was

  • Medhu vadai(appetizer)
  • Idli
  • Dosa
  • Uthappam
  • Arachu vitta sambar
  • Tomato Chutney
  • Coconut Chutney
  • Ven Pongal
  • Sakkari Pongal (Dessert)

My friend Krithika called up and said that the menu sounded like “MURUGAN ?IDLI KADAI” menu…now that is for sure ?a wonderful compliment… thanks gal:D

She said she wanted to come to Chicago from Dallas immediately… its not practical I know… That is the reason I decided to post the pictures ?” a virtual treat for my best friend and other blogger friends :)

Enjoy the feast…

We cut the veggies the night before and packed them up neatly in the fridge.feast1

I spent the next day in front of the stove happily…


All the cooking (except dosa) and the cleaning was complete before the guests arrived :D feast3

That was quite an achievement for us with a toddler challenging us throughout…

Finally when the feast was declared open you should have seen the big grins on those faces..that’s the magic that idlis and dosas can do to tamilians ?away from home :D ?They were asking us we made our idli and dosa batter at home with such astonishment as if it were some rocket science…




Anyway it was a feast with a very happy ending … the guests and hosts were equally happy and satisfied.

After all we Indians believe in

Athithi Devo Bhava” (Guests should be treated like GOD)…

I also want to request all my readers that if you can please donate for Haiti …

You can find more information at





Pachai Mochai kootu – Pongal special

Here I am wishing all of you a wonderful and delightful ?PONGAL.

PONGAL is tamizh Thanks giving. Yes this is a 4 days celebration to thank nature for all its timely shower of blessings that helps us get a good harvest and ofcourse good food ?for a long time after that…

Day 1 is BHOGI – Its actually a trick I believe that our ancestors did to make us drag our lazy bones to clean the house “properly” atleast once… by clean up I mean total decluttering of the house and throwing away all that stuff that we collect over the past year ( and more than half of it is junk…) … People make a sweet dish called Boli or Puran poli on this day to appreciate all the hard work gone in cleaning …

Day 2 SURYA PONGAL – As the name suggests this is the day ?we pray to SUN GOD and offer him our thanks for a good crop this year and pray for another good year ahead. On this day we make “SARKARAI PONGAL” a sweet rice pudding made with freshly harvested ( or atleast new ) rice and dal (and lots of gheeeeee and milk)… Its absolutely yummy I promise. This Pudding is traditionally made in a open Pot which is decorated with fresh turmeric root tied around its neck and then with vibhuti kumkum etc.. the milk and the water is first allowed to boil and rise real high … when this happens people shout “PONGAL O PONGAL” and then the rice and dal is added. When the rice is overcooked, nuts and raisins sauted in ghee are added along with jaggery. Nowadays technology and convenience have taken away Pots and replaced them with “PRESSURE COOKER” ?so people call it Cooker pongal .Well well its seems like ?I have given a recipe here though that was totally not intended in this post.

Every family has a different tradition and they make different dishes to go with PONGAL to make a big feast.

DAY 3 MAATU PONGAL – Maadu is a tamizh term used to refer all COWS n BULLS in general. This day is celebrated to thank all the cattle friends who helped the farmers in the farm. Now this is limited to households that really own cows and bulls. I have seen people wishing their friends “Happy birthday” on maatu pongal to tease them… I have question to all these hyper intelligent people “Did you ever think if all the cows and bulls on earth where born on the same day for us to celebrate MAATTU PONGAL ?for their bdays:P?”

DAY 4 KAANUM PONGAL- Kaanum means “to see”.. Its a day set aside to meet and greet friends and families… Go out and have fun.. My GOD you should go see how the Cinema halls and Beaches in Chennai will be bursting with crowd..

Anyway thats in short how much we Tamils love this long weekend of Thanks giving and the tradition it brings along.

My sister and I loved drawing those huge kolams in the frontyard for the whole month of chilly margazhi. Everyday we would spend quite a good amount of time deciding on the pattern and theme of the kolam and then drawing it.. on Pongal the month changes to Thai so we would end our creative journey of kolam for the year on PONGAL drawing a huge Color Rangoli in the frontyard… While we did this Amma will be busy in the kitchen .. ya she?used to make traditionally a feast which will always ?be served on Vazhai Izhai (Banana leaf) ?and will include

  • Sakkarai Pongal ( Open pot not Cooker)
  • Steamed rice
  • Sambar
  • Pumpkin kootu
  • Sweet potato poriyal
  • Sugar cane
  • Pachai Mochai kootu
  • Vadai.

My favourites being the last two :) .. Pachai Mochai is seasonal green beans, it quite looks like lima beans but is not the same. We used to love it and hog it ?…becoz its seasonal and we love it… well the redundancy was intended to convey the message. I can make vadais here so thats not a problem but I MISS PACHAI MOCHAI … boohohoh :(

You must think I am crazy that I dont miss sugarcane during pongal being here in the US. Think whatever you want …but I miss the mochai more ..

So how can I go to bed today in peace with this craving… so I decided to fake and convince the mochai craving teeth of mine to get satisfied as now with “Lima beans” made this way…

Well the recipe was Amma’s so it turned out pretty good enuf to rest the cravings for a while



Whats’s needed:-

  • 1 Cup of ?frozen Lima beans ( or Pachai Mochai if you are lucky enough)
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp of grated coconut
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 tsp of saunf or fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp of ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of chilli powder ( or more )

For seasoning

  • a small piece of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds or saunf
  • couple of cloves
  • 1 tsp of oil

How to’s:-

  1. Pressure cook the beans. Dont make them mushy , they should be just cookedmochai1
  2. Grind coconut, saunf, ginger, garlic, chilli powder and tomatomochai2
  3. Heat oil in a kadai or pan, add the seasonings and then add the cooked beans
  4. Now add the ground masala and salt.mochai3
  5. Mix well and cook till the raw smell of the masala is gone
  6. You can have the masala a little like gravy or make it dry.. As you like it…
  7. Serve as side dish with Rice and sambar ( or curd rice or rasam rice)

Hope you like this simple yet lovely recipe of my amma. I am now gonna have a spoonful of this kootu, close my eyes and travel back home for savouring those wonderful PONGAL moments ….

I am sending this to



Thiruvadirai Kali

This post had been in draft for a long time.. .?I thought of posting it now before PONGAL comes knocking on my door… You see I believe in “Better late than never”..

Namaha Shivaya vaazhga Naadhan thaal vaazhga

Imai pozhudhum en nenjil neenga dhaan vaazhga”

(Blessed is the name Na Ma Si Va Ya ! blessed are the Lord`s feet !
Blessed are the feet that part not from my bosom even for the time, the eyes take to wink !)

These are lines from Shiva puranam. I love reading Shivapuranam because it spreads such peace and serenity in my heart. ?I am glad we entered 2010 on an?auspicious?day “THIRUVADIRAI” aka “ARUDRA DARISANAM”Shiva1

  • Thiruvadirai is celebrated on the day of ?Thiruvadirai star in Marghazhi ( a month in tamil calendar between dec to jan).
  • There are only two stars that have the prefix ?Thiru.? ?One is Arudra THIRUVADIRAI, favored for Shiva.?The other is Thiruvonam, favoured for Maha Vishnu.
  • It is believed that Arudra is the largest of the stars and it denotes a red flame. It is believed that in the form of light the Lord performs his functions of creation, protection, destruction and concealment. Nataraja is considered the manifestation of the Lord as light.
  • In the month Marghazhi, on the day when Thiruvadirai star and new moon coincide, people celebrate the ecstatic dance of Shiva.
  • Why do we make Kali for Thiruvadirai?- ?A devotee called Sendanar had the habit of eating only whatever was left of the food offered to the Lord and then distributed among other devotees. On Thiruvadirai day in a Marghazhi, he could offer to the Almighty only some pittu and kali. With much regret that he could get nothing better, he offered these to the Lord. As he stood a little later in Nataraja?s sanctorum, the Lord effected a shower of pittu and kali on Sendanar, in recognition of his deep devotion. Since the day of that miracle, kali is the special offering to Lord Nataraja on Marghazhi Thiruvadirai. ?I read the above details ?from?http://www.bhattar.com/html/nov_dec.html

My maternal grandmother is from Rameshwaram and she was a very spritual person. She was the one who has told us so many stories from Hindu mythology. She once told us about the SHIVA TEMPLE in a place called Utharakosamangai near Ramanathapuram in Tamilnadu. This temple has a Natarajar idol made entirely from Maragadam (Emerald). The idol is always kept in sandalwood kaappu ( a layer of sandalwood paste covers the idol). This kaapu protects the residents of the town from the strong radiations from the idol. Only on the day of Thiruvadirai this sandalwood kaapu is removed and a new kaappu is applied. It is considered very auspicious if you can get Lord Nataraja’s darshan wihtout the kaappu.. its very difficult as the temple will be bursting with the crowd.

I have had the desire to visit this temple since my childhood days, dunno when it will materialise..

Now to the recipe. By the time I decided to prepare kali it was too late to wake up my mom or periamma for the recipe so I decided to follow ?Susvaad Ramya’s recipe. I just altered it slightly to suit our taste buds.



What’s needed:-

  • Raw rice ? ? ?1 cup ( I used long grain rice)
  • Moong dal ? ? ?1/4 cup
  • jaggery (crushed) ? ? ? ?3/4 cup
  • crushed cardamom(take out seeds from) ?4
  • grated coconut ?flakes ?2 cups
  • cashews(broken) 5-6
  • Ghee 1 tbsp

How To’s:-

1.Wash and dry the rice and moong dal under the fan.Dry roast the rice and ?dal in a heavy bottomed pan till it is slightly pink and aromatic.kali1
2.Cool and grind it in a mixer until is coarse powder.
Roast some cashews in ghee and keep aside.
3.Heat about 3 cups of water in the pan and dissolve jaggery in it.After it completely dissolves ,filter it in a fine sieve to remove impurities in it.Put the filtered Jaggery water, back on heat.
4.When it starts boiling, put the ground rice little by little and keep stirring.Add coconut, cardamom and cashews.kali2
5.When everything is mixed together.?Pressure cook this mixture like you would cook rice or keep stirring like ?I did until the rice is cooked in pankali3


My husband is just skeptic about anything that is called KALI.. He will just refuse to touch anything with that name Kali So I just told him its a sweet prasadam. When he had licked his bowl clean .. I told him its “THIRUVADIRAI KALI” hihihi

Its really good to have such situations when your husband is dumbstruck and you are the clear winner ;) that too when it happens on a new years day hihihi the joy is tripled :D

Thanks a lot Ramya … all of us loved the kali

Catch you all on Pongal..



5 minutes Maaladdu

If you had grown up in India, I am sure you will remember the Maggi Ad telecasted in 90′s “Ma bhook lagi… bas do minute bete… Maggi Maggi Maggi”. Well thats how they marketed Maggi and it made its grand entry into the Indian kitchens,altering the traditional food practices, with its promise of convenience .. 2 minutes evening snacks for hungry kids returning from school. ?They knew the psychology and marketed it right to attack the mother and child indulgence. Highly successful marketing strategy coz even now Vicky n I cook Maggi at times.

Well as a kid even I wanted maggi for snacks. ?After all it was easy to get carried away by the such advertisements when you are a kid and blissfully ignorant of the health factor. I was even a member of the Maggi club.

In this post, stay assured, I am not going to tell how to make Maggi noodles but instead it is a quick snack – a traditional one.

Maaladdu is just a laddu made with flours like those of moong dal or chickpeas (besan) or roasted dal with sugar, ghee and cashews. The maaladdu I am going to talk about in this post is the one made with Dalia or Pottukadalai or Roasted dal coz thats the quickest maaladdu I know of. ?If you remove ghee then this recipe is nothing, yes that will be pure injustice done to it. So I have tried my best to reduce the ghee.

Talking of this laddu and ghee reduction I am reminded of my sister. It was long back during our school days, whenever she came back from the school and wanted a snack, she would not waste a minute thinking. She would go run the mixer grinder with some pottukadalai and sugar, fill a bowl with it and eat it as if it were the only thing ?on earth that tasted so good. She absolutely loved it and just to avoid any health related advices she would skip the ghee ?and eat the pottukadalai maavu instead of the laddus :D

I made these laddus a couple of weeks back, Vicky loved it cause it has ghee and is sweet; very simple criteria for him to like a snack or sweet. A sweet start in 2010

Here is the recipe



What’s needed:-

  • 1 cup of Pottukadalai or Roasted gram
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1/4 tsp Cardomom powder
  • Ghee say about a Tbsp
  • Few cashewnuts broken
  • Reduced fat milk to help roll the laddus.

How To’s :-

  1. Grind the sugar and the Roasted gram together to a fine powder. Transfer it to a bowlmaladdu1
  2. Melt the ghee and fry the cashewnuts (Avoid the cashewnuts if preparing for toddler(s))
  3. Add the ghee and nuts to the gram mixture
  4. Mix well, add a couple of spoons of milk. Try to take a little of the mixture and roll it into a ball.
  5. If you can make balls (what we call as laddus) go ahead and roll the rest of the mixture
  6. If not add a couple more teaspoons of milk and try rolling again…maaladdu3

How Not To’s:-

  1. Do not add too much milk. Add little by little testing everytime for the right consistency for rolling the laddus. Else you might end up with a gooey porridge and not Laddus.

Enjoy the laddus.. Nobody can eat just one :D Grab one if you want ;) maaladdu2



Orange and Choclate chip cookies

I hope all of you would have watched the Movie AVATAR by now, if you have not I would highly recommend that you do. It is totally an amazing experience. James Cameroon has won again… He has used technology to bring to screen a delicate love story with a deeper message. The message is ?extremely spiritual about conservation and peaceful co-existence with nature. A message sent at the perfect time. ?When Jake Sully talks to the holy tree in Pandora, he says ” There is nothing green left on Earth.” ??Cameroon is telling you “Time is almost running out… do something to save our Planet”

Sekhar Kapur for Green peace organisation says

” Millions of people across the world have been telling the politicians that this is too important an issue to ignore – the future of the planet is at stake ..The US has done the most to cause climate change, and is doing the least to try and stop it – Obama can make a difference – yes he can! Tell him that he needs to be a climate leader and not a follower.

This week, India announced that it will reduce its carbon intensity by 20% – 25% by 2020 – an important step in the right direction. By announcing this before the Copenhagen summit, we can come to the negotiating table with our heads held high: we’ve made that first gesture, and we’re willing to go further. The developed world should now feel ashamed if they don’t do more than the pittance they have offered to do so far. “

Well I am really not sure if we should wait for World leaders to come to a consensus on this issue. To cut the long story short … the point is we are the last generation who has to act fast so that this EARTH does not undergo more damage before we hand it over to the next generation.

If we Marathon runners could cook up so many dishes together… VOICING TOGETHER ?for a GREENER TOMORROW ?could work wonders. ?So I will be highly delighted if you could add one more resolution to your list this NEW YEAR 2010… “LIVING A GREENER LIFE” …?It doesn’t cost a dime believe me .. you can check my post ?”You can save the world” for a few tips.

If you already follow them… keep up the good work and please spread the message.

Now coming back to the Marathon its the final day of the Marathon and hurray we have managed to touch the finish line. Pat yourself on your back on my behalf. Now to appreciate all ?my fellow runners ?for this wonderful achievement and the great treats they have shared in this week, I have a jar of ?Orange and Chocolate Chip Cookies as we all welcome the year 2010 together. Let us hope it brings “Good health, peace and all wonderful things for everyone on Earth…”

Now to the recipe… this cookie recipe was bookmarked from?Sunita’s world. The moment I saw the recipe I knew I would be baking it… I did .. the verdict —-Wow Orange and Chocolate together…it tasted yummilicious..

My son had his fair share of joy by pulling out the choc chips and throwing them around before he ate the cookies.

I did a few minor changes to the recipe like adding whole wheat flour and more orange zest.Here is the recipe for my records



What’s needed:-

(Makes 18-20 cookies)


This week, India announced that it will reduce its carbon intensity by 20% – 25% by 2020 – an important step in the right direction. By announcing this before the Copenhagen summit, we can come to the negotiating table with our heads held high: we’ve made that first gesture, and we’re willing to go further. The developed world should now feel ashamed if they don’t do more than the pittance they have offered to do so far.
  • 1.5 cupswhole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup APflour
  • 1 tbsp orange zest(Preferably organic orange)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tbsp of smart balance vegan butter ( use butter instead if you want to)
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp of ?oats
  • a big handful of chocolate chips
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp of milk

How To’s

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 320 F.
  2. Grease a ?Cookie Sheet.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and the oats.
  4. Add the honey to mixture and mix well
  5. Now add butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips.ochocchip3
  6. Add the ?Orange zest, chocolate chips, milk and orange juice and gently mix, just mix DONT KNEAD.
  7. Make equal sized balls and ?flatten them on the cookie sheet.ochocchip4
  8. Put your rack in the center of the oven.
  9. Bake till the sides begin to brown, but they are still soft in the?center. It took me about 20 minutes
  10. Remove them from the oven, Cool them in the sheet for a few minutes and then cool them on a cooling rackochocchip5
  11. Eat some and store the rest in air tight containers.

I cannot resist a Choclate chip cookie now with the the flavour of Orange and Choclate ..no way that the Cookies go straight to their storage area.

Hope all the runners love these cookies.ochocchip7




Whole wheat Pav& Bhaji -Especially for Nupur

Day 6 of Recipe Marathon

Oh GOD! Am I dreaming …(pinch) nope its true… I have survived the marathon full 5 days and I am still running … Thanks a million Nupur you helped me overcome a blogging block.. but for you my blog would have been weary and dry in?December?as the Chicago winter.. You can look at my blog calendar for proof. If it had a mouth and it could shout I am sure it will be “Thanks Nupur” .

Now I should treat Nupur for this wonderful act of hers …I thought a lot and finally decided it has to be “Pav Bhaji”. Now tell me which Mumbaite will say NO to Pav Bhaji. But I was a little reluctant to serve PavBhaji to Nupur whose bhaji recipe is linked to the Pav Bhaji page in Wikipedia… My mind was like you got to have some guts to do this gal…

I convinced myself that even Nupur would love if someone else made her Pav Bhaji :D at times won’t you Nupur?

Added advantage, my Man lovessssssssssssss Pav Bhaji too. So its like “Ore kallula rendu maangai“.. ( Those who know tamil and have watched the movie “Kadhaala Kadhalaa” you know how to read this line :D ).

When I started making Pav Bhaji this is how the conversation went

Me: How about Pav Bhaji

Vicky: You are gonna make pav bhaji… that has lots of butter how come?

Me: I will not use butter

Vicky: Then that is not Pav Bhaji ( I know he is talking the truth)

Koki : Ok I will add a little butter

Vicky : ?How many Pavs and how much bhaji?

Me: What do you mean by that… are you gonna eat that for breakfast lunch and dinner ???

Vicky: Why not ? You should go to Mumbai. They eat it any time of the day in Mumbai ( He takes advantage of the fact that he has visited Mumbai)

Me: Is this true…?

Now Nupur and other Mumbaites you have to help me…is this true?

Anyway I wish to visit Mumbai at least once, not to verify Vicky’s statement but to salute Mumbai and the spirit of Mumbai. I have great respect for this city ( no not for the slums or the slumdog millionaire shooting spots), but for its spirit. I have known no other city which has undergone so many disasters as Mumbai and ?yet has recovered back to normal life at an amazing speed.

“SALAAM MUMBAI” ( no not the Mira Nair movie, its my salaam to Mumbai)

Coming back to Pav Bhaji.. I make the pav bread ?at home for two reasons

  1. I don’t think the hamburger buns can do justice to this dish.
  2. I make whole wheat flour making it healthier

Pav bread recipe is from Chef Sanjay Thumma’s shows.

Bhaji Recipe is Nupur’s ofcourse but I used a different combination of veggies and adjusted the spices.

Here comes the recipe for the Pav Bread & the Bhaji:-



What’s needed :-

For the PAV Bread (Makes 10 Pavs)

  • 3.5 cups of whole wheat flour (atta)
  • 3.5 gms of yeast (quick rise)
  • Around 1.75 cups of luke warm water
  • salt to taste
  • 1.5 tsp of sugar
  • 3 tsp of ?olive oil ( you can use butter for the authentic pav)

For the Bhajipavbhaji2

  • 2 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 1/4 cup of potatoes diced
  • 1 cup of carrots diced
  • 1/4 cup of peas
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups of tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp Everest pav-bhaji masala
  • 1 tbsp butter ( Yes I did, to please Vicky’s tastebuds)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder

How To’s:-

The Pav Bread

  1. In a bowl add sugar, yeast, 0.5 cups of flour and 1 cup of warm water. Stir and let it rest for 10 minutes or till the mixture is bubbly or frothypavbhaji1
  2. Mix the flour and salt well.
  3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and knead, add water little by little
  4. Knead the dough well for 10 minutes or more till it is smooth and elastic
  5. It will be slightly sticky but thats fine, add the oil or butter and knead well.
  6. Coat the dough with little oil, cover it and let it rest for at least an hour or until it doubles in sizepavbhaji4
  7. Grease and flour a baking dish or a cookie sheet
  8. Once the dough doubles in size, punch the air out and roll into 10 balls of dough
  9. Arrange them with 1/2 ?inch distance in between each ball. pavbhaji5
  10. Let them rest for another 40 minutes. You will see that the balls will double and will be brushing each otherpavbhaji7
  11. Preheat the oven to 400F
  12. Bake till the tester inserted in middle comes out clean
  13. Brush with some butter and bake another 4 to 5 minutes so that the top gets a lovely golden brownpavbhaj8


  1. Pressure cook carrots, cauliflower, potatoes and peas
  2. Heat oil in a kadai or pan saute the bell pepper
  3. Add ginger garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes off
  4. Add salt and spice powders followed by the tomato puree
  5. Add the cooked veggies and butterpavbhaji6
  6. Cook and mash till the Bhaji reaches the desired consistency. It took me nearly 20 minutes of simmering.
  7. This helps the flavours blend beautifully

To serve

  • Garnish the Bhaji with chopped onions & cilantropavbhaji9
  • Break the Pav bread and cut them across the horizontal cross section. Toast them slightly with butter or olive oil
  • Sandwich the Bhaji between the Pav slices

What are you waiting for .. bite into it.. and?realize?the taste of bliss.pavbhaji11

Want a bite???

Catch you all tomorrow with a treat for all my fellow runners

Happy cooking,


Oven Roasted Ennai Kathrikai Kuzhambu

Day 5 of the Recipe Marathon

Couple of weeks back when I was chatting with my dearest Mony anna, he reminded me of this “Ennai Kathrikkai Kuzhambu”.

Mony anna’s mom, my Periamma(aunt), is an expert cook, GOD I could just lick my plates clean when she cooked. No wonder Mony anna loves and enjoys eating and talking about food so much :D . As Anna and I discussed about the recipe,we got PEriamma into the video chat and I got the recipe from her. The problem with these Ammas ( I mean my mom , my periammas) is that they will not give you the precise quantities ; not that they are hiding their best kept secrets. Its just that their moms gave them the recipes exactly this way and that they are not used to cooking with teaspoons and tablespoons…its all eyeballing or padi kanakku.

She told me “Try couple of times and you will get the quantities precisely tailored for your taste buds”..well she is not wrong.

Mony anna is quite talented in describing a recipe and its taste so well that you almost can drown your laptop or phone in your drool.

In his words ” The flavour of the deep fried eggplants, if you can master that part, then this recipe will turn out perfect and is easy” ?Thats how this experiment of mine with one of my favourite vegetables “Eggplant/Kathrikkai” started.

I did two important changes to the recipe to make it low fat ( yes yes its the same Koki talking who made the cheesy manicottis)

  • Eliminated coconut by making my own spice mixture with more dals to give the gravy the intended thickness
  • Oven roasted the eggplants instead of deep frying. ( While the veggies were roasting, I finished of the poriyals and rice so no time wasted)

I am not the only one who thinks deep frying eggplants is a bad idea. Read on

According to an Australian study, eggplant absorbs more fat in cooking than any other vegetable. When researchers deep-fried a serving of eggplant, they found that it absorbed 83 grams of fat in just 70 seconds?four times as much as an equal portion of potatoes?adding more than 700 calories. Try one of the many other cooking options instead of frying or saut?ing -(Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition)

Eggplants are good source of dietary fiber, ?vitamins B1, B6 and potassium. It?s a good source of copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, and folic acid. It is a low GI food and can relieve gastric troubles.

Eggplant is a native of India so nothing surprising that each state in India has so many dishes made out of this vegetable. I read an interesting fact about eggplants

In various parts of Europe, people suspected that eating eggplant caused madness, not to mention leprosy, cancer, and bad breath, which is why eggplant was used mostly for decoration in England and the United States nearly up to the 20th century”

I had a hearty laugh reading this one. Vicky would have blamed poor eggplants for all my craziness if he had read this quote. :P

Now to the recipe :-



What’s needed:-

  • 5 to 6 Indian or Thai eggplants
  • 12 to 15 red pearl onions
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • Lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • 1.5 Tbsp of Oil ( I highly recommend Gingelly Oil)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp of jaggery

For the spice powder

  • 1 Tbsp Tuvar dal
  • 1 Tbsp Channa dal
  • 1 Tbsp Urad dal
  • 1.5 Tbsp of corriander seeds
  • 2 to 3 Red chillies (according to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp of fenugreek seeds
  • 10 to 12 whole pepper corns
  • 1/4 tsp of saunf or fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp of cumin seeds

For seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of Urad dal
  • 1/4 tsp of saunf or fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp of cumin seeds
  • A dash of hing
  • Few curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder

How To’s

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F
  2. Soak the tamarind in a cup of warm water
  3. Cut the eggplants into slices. Peel and cut the pearl onions into halves.
  4. Toss the eggplants and onions with a Tbsp of oil so that the oil coats them really well
  5. Line a baking dish with foil and place the egg plants and onions in a single layer.
  6. Roast in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, turning it in between to ensure even cooking.
  7. When the egg plants are cooked remove from the oven.enkathri2
  8. Dry roast the ingredients for spice powder, cool and grind them to a fine powderenkathri1
  9. Heat rest of the oil in kadai or pan add the ingredients for seasoning.enkathri4
  10. Once the mustard splutters, add the tomatoes and cook well
  11. Squeeze the juice out of the soaked tamarind
  12. Once the tomatoes are mushy add the eggplants, onions, salt, the spice powder and tamarind juice.enkathri5
  13. Add 1 more cup of water and let the gravy cook till the raw smell of the spices is gone. You might have to add more water to adjust the gravy to the desired consistency.
  14. Add jaggery mix well and switch off the stove.enkathri6

My mom says adding a tsp of ?gingelly oil at the end adds to the flavour. This is optional though.

I must thank Mony anna and Periamma, for the dish was absolutely tasty and every bite into the roasted eggplants was divine. ?And ya the roasting did not change the authentic taste of the dish a bit… so again the deep fryer looses to the conventional oven.

They say this dish tastes even better the next day but we did not have any left to test this ;) so will have to wait till I make them next time.