Archive for the ‘Recipe Marathon’ Category

Recipe Marathon: Day 7: Ghar ka Khana (Simple home made meal)

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

To all the Iron chefs out there reading this post, howdy!!

Are’nt we the iron chefs? We don’t have a fully equipped kitchen, or an Infra Red stove and grill, or a fast freezing nitrogen gadget, neither do we have a sous-chef who can do the cutting and prepping work for us, yet we manage to put up a glorious show every day. And the only thing that we most definitely have is the judging part of our home made meal :)

I believe that even if you are offered the chance to eat food prepared by the world famous chef’s, nothing can match the taste of simple dal and rice. You travel to 100 different places, yet at the end of the day don’t you crave for a simple aloo paratha, dosa, khichdi or rice?

But the real test is, can we make a idli taste like idli and not like a bullet :)..or a fluff up a roti that does not turn into a plastic sheet after few minutes..

I faced that test last year and I am talking from that experience, cooking a simple South Indian meal. And that was also due to IKE (no, don’t worry, I am not going to talk about the hurricane again). We had got our cozy nest and we had the house warming ceremony few weeks after IKE showed its force. The point is, we couldn’t find someone to gather the veggies needed, cook for the D-day and transport it for the house warming.

And our priest knew the situation and gave us a simplified list of food to cook. Nothing major- Just what you will find in a South Indian home every day. Sambar, Rice, Rasam, Dal,Poriyals, Kheer, Savory Pongal, Sweet Pongal, Vadais and Kozhukattais (modagams).

And there we were, N and I, standing near the stove in our cramped kitchen in the apartment, taking turns to cook these stuff for us and the guests for the Graha-Pravesam from 2 in the morning of the D-day. If you are wondering, no, none of our relatives were able to make it.

There was nothing special to cook, no biryanis, no baking involved, but what we think as simple food really took 5 hours to make. But seeing these dishes on the plates, all our guests oohed- and aahed and said that is what they were waiting to savor, a simple home cooked meal. And nothing can beat that compliment.

And that is what I am going to serve for the host Nupur, my fellow runners in this marathon , and our readers for the final day of the recipe marathon before we welcome the new year. Better said, we are welcoming the new year with a feast!

This feast is also for special bloggers who gave me constructive criticism when I started blogging and still keep checking on me from time to time (There, I could see that smile on the corner of the mouth), from awards to advice, thanks for your support. And because of this marathon, I got some blogging buddies and yummy recipes to try out.


The traditional thali (plate) featured above has:

Cabbage-Okra Stir fry
Lemon Tomato Rasam
Drumstick Sambar
Carrot Kheer
Mango Pickle
Jeera Applam

Here are the recipes:

Rice: Plain cooked rice, made in a pressure cooker.

Dal- tuvar dal cooked in a pressure cooker and mashed.

Ghee- Home made ghee from butter recipe is here.


Cabbage-Okra Stir fry- Caught my eye after Nupur tried it, I just followed the recipe, but added a bit of achar masala for the spice.


Lemon Rasam- Made it in my lead vessel (eiya sombu), recipe can be found here


Sambar- Recipe can be found here

Carrot Kheer:
Carrots -2- medium size
Sugar- to taste
milk- 1 cup, water- 1 cup, sweetened condensed milk- 1 tbsp
cardamom powder- 1 pinch
saffron – few strands
badam-cashew powder- 1 pinch


Grate the carrots. Mix together a cup of milk and a cup of water. Boil the grated carrots in this till mushy, and till the milk has reduced down. Add a tablespoon of condensed milk, sugar to taste and badam-cashew power,garnish with cardamom powder and saffron. Serve chilled or warm.

Hope that was a fulfilling meal. Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

I don’t make many resolutions ‘coz I know I have to try hard to keep up 😉

But seems like my resolution of a healthy 2010 is already in the bin and I have hit the sack before New year (Got a flu,been drowning Nyquil for the past few hours).

Couple of ideas if you are planning to be in Houston and not going to go partying :)

The Meenakshi temple at Pearland always has a New year program with food stalls from famous restaurants in Houston. That means everything from Pizza to Chole batura to Pav Bhaji will be available at these stalls. Sometimes, you can also pick up stuff like calendars, decorative materials etc., etc., There would also be cultural programs at the wedding hall.

BAPS- Swami Narayan Mandir had some special programs and fire works for Diwali. That fireworks show was much better and brighter than the one on July 4th!! But BAPS also has an amazing canteen (now you know why I have a food blog) and their chinese food -gobi manchoorian is one of The Best you can have.

Sugar Land is celebrating is 50th Anniversary and there is going to be a party at Sugar Land Town centre with the music and lights and it is separated into party for adults and kids at different timings in the evening.

Houston City centre is also having a band (Blues brothers tribute) and fire works!

Wherever you are, stay safe and enjoy! And do check out this space from time to time.

For folks who can read tamil and have been reading these posts on this marathon, my thank you’s in election style -” Periyorgale, Thaimargalae, Nandri, nandri”.. Meendum varuga..Vanthukitte irrunga :)

If you missed any of the posts during this marathon:

Day 1: December 25 : See the recipes here

Day 2: December 26: Check out what’s cooking here

Day 3: December 27: Still going strong, see the delicious recipes here

Day 4: It is all about Spice

Day 5: Veggies, Grains and more!

Day 6: Colors of Food

Print Friendly

Recipe Marathon: Day 6: Cabbage Kofta (Cabbage flour balls in tomato gravy)

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

I think that the best time for guests to come home will be the weekend as you’ll get your money’s worth of unlimited sight seeing. I’ll be roaming around like a zombie in my PJ’s and cooking and N will be trying to clean the garden and the house. And of course there is the free attraction-a mini zoo in our community, some deers, lots of boars and even more snakes!

Most of the weekends will go like this, and I am sure we give a nice impression to our neighbors. But the past one month was really hectic and we were running around like headless chickens. We were planning to meet up with couple of our neighbors who had just moved in, but it was always like a quick Hi and a Bye. But few weeks ago, our friend down the road called us around 10 on a Sunday morning while I was still sleeping(??!!!). She invited us over for a cup of coffee and little did we know that we were actually going for a brunch. She had sneakily planned this brunch and treated us to a paniyarams, bise-bela bath, tomato rice, yogurt rice and pineapple sheera. We had a really good time and we chatted for a good 3-4 hours.

Again, few days ago when we caught up over the phone, I learnt that she was expecting her bundle of joy. I wanted to really cook something for her, but at the same time, did’nt want to try something that may give more morning sickness. And she was saying she wanted to have something less spicy, yet healthy. So I made this cabbage kofta, and this apple date cake and took it over to her place.

This cabbage kofta is something I found from Ashwini’s Page and she had tried it from
Married to a desi.

I’ve made a few varieties of kofta’s like
paneer kofta
, egg kofta but a cabbage kofta was something new and I wanted to try it out. The main attraction for me was that there was no need to make onion paste, tomato puree and the cashew masala we usually make for the koftas.

My recipe for day 6 of this recipe marathon is simple cabbage kofta. And I followed the recipe of Married to a desi.


Ingredients : (Makes 20 koftas)

For koftas:
Besan flour- 1/2 cup
Cabbage- one head of cabbage, small size
Carrot- 2
Garam Masala powder- 3/4 tsp
Salt- to taste
Oil- for deep frying

For gravy:

Roma tomatoes- 4 or 5
Chopped onion- 1/4 cup
Coriander seeds- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Kofta Masala powder- 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste- 1 tsp
Red chilies- 4
Poppy seeds- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste
Butter- 1 tbsp
Cilantro- one handful


Grate the cabbage and add salt to it. Leave it aside for sometime(30 mins) so that it gives out water. Do not add carrots at this stage. Squeeze out as much water as you can out of the grated cabbage. Add the carrots , besan flour, garam masala powder and start forming them into cylinders or lime sized kofta balls. Pour oil in a pan and wait till it is hot. Deep fry the koftas in oil till golden brown. Drain and keep aside.

The kofta will be crispy if you can squeeze out water from the cabbage first. If you want, you can also roll the kofta balls in dry besan powder to add another coat, before frying.

Chop the tomatoes and blend it well with all other ingredients given for gravy except the butter (How easy is this gravy?). Add about 2-3 cups of water and simmer this gravy for 20 minutes. When you can see bubbles drop in the butter and mix it well. Taste if the gravy is raw or if it still needs to simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Check for salt and spices. Drop the koftas one by one and mix slowly to coat. Let it sit for 5 minutes in the gravy.

Serve the cabbage kofta with rotis or naan. We enjoyed it with phulka.


I did not use saunf or anardhana powder given in the original recipe (as I did not have them), but the gravy had its own flavor. I have also cut down a lot on spice- used less chilies and coriander seeds.

I was also worried about the kofta disintegrating in the gravy but it absorbed the gravy so well and kept its shape.

The kofta can also be served as a fried snack -like a veggie cutlet.

The marathon is coming to a tasty end and thanks to Nupur we are having a blast, cooking and sharing. Tomorrow is the last day of this Marathon, before we welcome 2010.

Day 1: December 25 : See the recipes here

Day 2: December 26: Check out what’s cooking here

Day 3: December 27: Still going strong, see the delicious recipes here

Day 4: It is all about Spice

Day 5: Veggies, Grains and more!

Print Friendly

Recipe Marathon: Day 5: Veggie Noodle Nests

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

I was banned from making Rice noodles (Idiyappams) at home forever, once we came out of N’s wheat allergy phase. He said he does not want to look at upmas, pongals, idiyappams for centuries. Poor guy, I can’t blame him and he really had years worth of pongals in those 8 months of wheat free diet.


The thing is even if I make rice noodles, I never make plain noodles as the plain lemon noodles or coconut noodles are very common. I serve it with some korma or stir fried vegetables.

But when I came across this post, I could only admire the creative thinking of
Rak’s Kitchen when I saw this stuffed- Idiyappam (stuffed rice noodles).

My mom makes something similar, a stuffed uthappam. But then uthapam batter is something I have to grind and I can refrain from grinding. But how on earth am I going to get rid of all those rice noodles bags sitting in the pantry that we had stocked?

C’mon, don’t look at me like that- we are not responsible for the increase in rice prices last year :) I am not interested in wasting food and I had to think of a way to use them up and that was when I saw this recipe.

Rice noodles are very simple to make, gluten free, easily digested and if there is a korma to go with it, rice noodles can be a fulfilling meal.

Noodle Nests are my suggestion for a light dinner for the day five of this recipe marathon.

Veggie Noodle Nests:

For the rice noodles:
Any rice noodle bag which will be enough for two people.

For the korma:

Vegetables of your choice (I used brussels sprouts, peas, carrots, potatoes)- all together-1 cup
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp

Masala to grind:
Coconut- 4 tbsp
Red chilies- 4
Poppy seeds- 1/4 tsp
Coriander seeds- 1 tsp
Ginger-Garlic paste- 1/2 tsp
Roasted chana dal (potu kadalai)- 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp

To temper:
Oil- 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- few
Coriander Leaves- to garnish


Cook the rice noodles according to the instructions given on the pack. Drain and keep aside.


Cube the vegetables, boil them with a bit of salt, drain and keep aside.


Grind all ingredients given under “to grind” section. Grind them to a powder first and add water in minimum quantity to make it as a paste.

Heat oil in a frying pan and add mustard seeds, when they splutter add curry leaves and boiled vegetables. Add salt to taste and turmeric powder. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.


Add the masala paste and coat well. Cover and cook on a low flame till the masala is cooked through. Garnish with coriander leaves.This korma will be a dry gravy.


In a idli plate, spoon some cooked noodles, layer with the korma and cover with noodles. Make them look like a nest (and the veggies the stuffing)


Steam in a idli cooker for 5 minutes(The water in the idli cooker should be boiling, not starting to boil when you keep the rice noodles in). Serve hot.

This version of rice noodles was so yummy that we skipped the steaming part for the second set. Since I had already cooked the noodles unlike the original recipe, we just layered some on a plate, spread the korma on top and heated it in microwave for 2 minutes.



The original recipe calls for making idiyappams, I skipped that part and used ready made noodles. The original post’s masala is also different and this masala I used is the korma masala I make often.

Couple of my noodle nests came out perfectly round and in some of them, the stuffing came out of the nests.

Some of the noodles turned out to be bit soggy as they were not freshly made, but overall a yum way to finish up all the rice noodles bags I have stocked up. And a nice way to get kids eat the veggies too.

Did you notice? There is no onion in this recipe!

See what is cooking at this tasty marathon, hosted by Nupur

Day 1: December 25 : See the recipes here

Day 2: December 26: Check out what’s cooking here

Day 3: December 27: Still going strong, see the delicious recipes here
Day 4: It is all about Spice
This veggie noodle nests are going to Srivalli’s Kids delight

Print Friendly

Recipe Marathon Day 4: Easy Vegetable Seekh Kebabs

Monday, December 28th, 2009

I am a big fan of street food, chaat and tikkis. There was this small chaat shop near vitan in Mylapore and they used to make this awesome pav bhaji and bhel puri. Slowly, the tension of studies, thesis and work took over and I didn’t have time to go out in the evenings and grab some chaat. I got a bag of haldirams or banana chips or lays and munched them.

But when I went home for a vacation after long time(2 years) and after a scorching summer (We hit 110 a couple of days in TX), all tanned and clothes hanging everywhere, I was not able to eat the usual meals properly.

Sis and Brother in Law took me to this place one evening for dinner. If I remember well the place was Mirchi’s. They had this real, fire pit set up under each table and the appetizers were vegetarian kebabs of every kind you can think of. Though I have been to kebab factory and similar places, this concept was unique. Some of the kebabs were well done and they were warming in this BBQ pit on the table and some were cooking and we were able to toss them in to our plates depending on the done-ness we liked. I was so hungry and for a change, some one was cooking for me! I kept feasting on the kebabs (must have gobbled a dozen at least) when BIL looked at me kindly and reminded that there was a full buffet as well :)

It was embarrassing that I ate till I looked like I am going to burst, but they gave the best gift I ever got in a long time- good food and rest. Even if you are an adult and can run your own show, sometimes you just wish you were a kid, am I correct?

My mouth is watering now to even think of their golden-brown kebabs. This is a recipe from my sister and this book like the previous biryani and this is a healthy version of kebab as we use dried fruits and nuts and vegetables. I guess the restaurant used fresh nuts,figs and dates as that was the harvest season and boy, the fruits just melt and caramelize beautifully.

And this is what I am going to taste with tea during this recipe marathon , come on in with a blanket and make yourself comfortable by the grill!

Ingredients: (makes 6 cylinders)

Boiled Potatoes -3 (Medium size)
Grated Carrot- 1 medium size
Frozen peas -1/4 cup
Salt to taste
Tandoori masala- 3/4 tsp
Cashew nuts and almonds- 4 tsp (together)
Raisins- 3 tsp
Dates- 6 each
Chopped Green chilies-3
Ginger-garlic paste- 1/4 tsp
Butter- 1 tbsp
Chopped Cilantro- 2 tbsp
Sun flower oil- 2 tbsp
Bamboo Skewers -4


Mash the boiled potatoes. Remove the seeds from the dates. Finely chop raisins, dates and nuts. Soak the skewers in water for 10-15 minutes so that the dry sticks won’t catch fire when they are baking/grilling.


Heat one teaspoon oil in a pan and add grated carrots, mashed potatoes and peas. Add salt, stir fry them well, add ginger garlic paste and the tandoori masala powder. (If you do not use tandoori masala powder, use a mix of cumin powder, coriander powder and red chili powder).

Add the chopped green chilies and cilantro.

Do not add water but make sure that the vegetables are stir fried well. At the final stage, add nuts, dates and raisins and mix well. Add the butter and mash it well with the veggies . Let it cool. Divide it in to equal parts.


Take a skewer out of the water. Take one part of the kebab mixture. Dab it with a tea spoon of water so that it will hold it shape and make like a kebab (cylinderical) around the skewer. Arrange all other kebabs in a similar way. Brush with a bit of oil on top of the kebabs.

Baking: I baked these kebabs at 375 oven for 10 minutes each side as N tends to smoke them so much :)

Grilling : If grilling, wait till both sides are golden brown. Do not keep turning the kebab.

Pan frying: I made some patties as well, with the same veggie-nuts mixture and I shallow fried them in a tea spoon of sun flower oil till each side was golden brown. The raisins and dates may caramelize when you pan fry and the patties may get a brown color but that’s OK.

Serve the kebabs with a slice of lemon and ketchup. Enjoy with a cup of steaming hot chai and a favorite movie.


This is what we have been offering for the past few days during the marathon hosted by Nupur of One hot stove :

Day 1: December 25 : See the recipes here

Day 2: December 26: Check out what’s cooking here

Day 3: December 27: Still going strong, see the delicious recipes here

I am sending this easy vegetable seekh kebabs to for Oraphan’s Easy Veggie 50th Post celebrations.

I am glad that you visited us for tea. Waiting to see you all tomorrow with some “steaming” stuff to feast on.

Print Friendly