Monday, June 27, 2011

Carrot/Gaajar Halwa

Carrot Halwa is one of the most famous dessert in North India especially in Punjab and is normally known as Gaajjar kaa halwa among Indians. Any parties, poojas and other functions are incomplete without a touch Gaajar Halwa. I have been making this from the time I came to US and my kids love this a lot because of its softness and sweetness and color and  and and hmmm, I do not know what all reasons should I give to make this more often. Someone has rightly said that when you make a dish so often you really do not have the judgement of the quantity of ingredients you use. This happens with me most of time and carrot halwa is one among them. I just grate few carrots, saute it in some ghee, add some milk, a handful of sugar and garnish it with some ghee roasted cashews and raisins. It is that simple and I love its change in color in each and every step of the cooking process. So this time when I made it, I thought of preparing it with by measuring so that I can blog this in cups and spoons. So friends here is this awesome dessert/sweet that you can make it easily without worrying it might go somewhere wrong in the process of cooking.

Ingredients :-
Grated Carrot :- 4 cups
Milk - 2 to 2 1/2 cups( i microwaved it for 10-15 mins stiring it every 5 mins in between/ you can boil it on stove top and keep aside as well)
Sugar -3/4 cup
Ghee - 2 tsp(you can use more as per your choice)
cashews and raisins few
Cardamon powder - 1tsp

Preparation Method:-
  • Heat up a non-stick pan on med flame, add ghee, saute the cashews, raisins and keep aside.
  • Add the grated carrot to the same pan, saute well till it looses it's orange color and become soft. It took me around 10 mins of sauting in medium flame.
  • Add the hot milk to it and keep stirring till the carrot absorbs all the milk, and it took around 8-10 mins for all the milk to incorporate and mix well with the carrot.

  • Now add the sugar, you will see littlee bit more moisture adding up and the color changing again to deep orange. Keep stirring around 4-5 mins till all the moisture is absorbed.
  • Switch off the flame and add cardamom powder and mix well.
  •  Move into a serving dish and Garnish with raisins and cashews. Serve warm or cold..

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pineapple upside down cake

Pineapple upside down cake is our all time favorite cake with great texture and taste. It tastes really good with the topping of pineapple and cherry in butter and caramelized brown sugar, must say it is a classic dessert. This recipe do not use any cake mix, pudding etc, but even then is a super ezee and quick bake and can made for any occasions. You can serve them as it is or with a dollop of ice-cream or whipped cream. So bake them today and enjoy with your loved ones!!


For Topping:-
  1. Canned pineapple slices - 1 can(i used 7 slices out of it)
  2. Maraschino cherries - 7
  3. Brown sugar - 3 tbsp(Adjust according to your sweet level)
  4. Butter -¼ cup

For Sponge cake:-
  1. All purpose flour- 1½ cup
  2. Baking powder - 1 tsp
  3. Baking Soda -½ tsp
  4. Salt - a pinch
  5. Pineapple juice drained out of the canned pineapple - 1/2 cup
  6. Eggs - 3
  7. Sugar - 1 cup
  8. Butter/margarine - ½ cup

Preparation Method:-
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Grease a 9 inch round cake pan with the butter around the edges and base.
  • Pour the melted butter in the pan and sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Spread it evenly with hands removing any lumps formed. 
  • Arrange the pineapple slices on the brown sugar and place the cherries in center of each pineapple slice.
  • Add All purpose flour, baking soda and baking powder in a wide bowl. Give it a thorough mix with a wire whisk or sift them together.
  • In a bowl cream butter and sugar beating them well with a hand mixer/whisk. 
  • Add in eggs one at a time beating them well till creamy. 
  • Fold in sifted flour mix, little by little, combine them well. Add in pineapple juice and gently mix everything. 
  • Pour the batter on top of the arranged pineapple and cherries.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tooth pick or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. 
  • Take out of the oven and let it cool completely.
  • Keep a serving plate on top of the cake, turn plate and pan over, pat on top of the pan and remove the pan. 
  • The beautiful pineapple upside cake is ready to serve. You can serve them Warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!!!!

Updated Note on 6/19/2013: - You can make this cake with fresh pineapples, I've made them with fresh pineapple  many times. Slice the pineapple in rounds and keep them boxed in refrigerator for couple of days. It oozes out lot of juice by itself which can be used in the batter(instead of pineapple juice from canned pineapple). Increase 1/4 cup of sugar while making the batter since canned pineapple juice is very sweet compared to the juice of fresh pineapple. It tasted marvelous and came out perfect and Spongy

Updated on 01/01/2012. 

I bake this cake often since it is one of the the easiest and most delicious cake of my choice. I made this Pineapple Upside down cake for celebrating 2012 New Year Celebration with friends. Adding this recent picture.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ezee Vermicelli Upma

Here I'm sharing today the all famous Vermicelli Upma, the quickest and easiest breakfast and all time favorite of my kids. My son believe it is a kind of non-sticky noodle because of its texture and similarity in looks. You can either cook the Semiya/vermicelli in boiling water, drain them off and add to seasoning/tempering/thadka or do the seasoning and add the boiled vermicelli to it and mix. If you do the second way, you'll get to taste all crunchy nuts but if you are in jiffy go for the first method. This gets cooked in no time, so is a great option for woking women on their busy mornings. Try it out, Enjoy!!!!


Vermicelli - 1cup
green chilly - 2 finely chopped
Onion - 1 finely chopped
ginger - 2 tbsp finely chopped
dry red chilly -2 broken into half
mustard seeds - 2 tsp
peanut - 2tbsp
urad daal - 2 tsp
curry leaves - few
coconut oil- 3 tbsp
water - 1 3/4 cup

Veggies - ½ cup

Preparation Method:-
  • Dry roast the vermicelli and keep aside(you will find the roasted vermicelli in stores, opt out roasting if you buy that).
  • Heat a frying pan, add oil and splutter the mustard seeds. Add urad daal, peanut, curry leaves, dry red chilly and stir for a min.
  • Add onion, green chilly, ginger and saute for 2-3 mins till onion is translucent(don't over fry the onion).
  • Add the water and get to boil, add salt as well. Lower the flame to med and add the roasted vermicelli slowly and stirring it slowly.
  • Keep stirring till it absorbs all the water(take care of vermicelli not to become sticky).
  • Switch off the flame and serve warm as breakfast or tea time snack....
Note:- You can add mixed veggies while sauting the onion, it tastes great and serves a great, healthy breakfast

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

watermelon smoothie...

The most awaited summer has come, kids are enjoying their play outside. My husband is in full form to hit the soccer and cricket grounds. But this time summer seems to be very hot, that too so early. It is great time for fruits, they are the best sellers in the market. They are consumed as it is, in the form of Juices, Smoothies, Milk Shakes, Fruit punch's and many more colorful forms. It is a treat for the eyes to watch them in so many colors and really refreshing for the mind in hot summer. 
So here is my watermelon Smoothie, very simple and easy to prepare and very tasty too...

Water Melon - 2 cups
Lemon Juice - 2 tsp
Ice cubes few
Sugar - 3 tbsp(optional, i added it for my kids only)

Preparation Method:-

Blend everything together. Strain and serve with few more ice cubes...
(You can add some Whip cream or vanilla ice-cream on top to make it rich and more sweet, but we love them as it is)

Note:- Watermelon in nature, are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and B6. They are also a great source of potassium, and extremely low in sodium. Daily consumption of watermelon is said to be very effective to cure kidney disorders.

Spinach Omlette and Sandwich

Very simple and quick recipe, healthy and nutritious too. You can substitute egg with egg whites if you want to reduce the cholesterol/fat count. I often use it for sandwich filling as well. You can try it out in either way, you'll figure out its a smart option for power packed breakfast or lunch.

1) Chopped spinach:- 1/4 cup(add some salt and pepper on top, toss it and keep aside)
2) Eggs - 2
3) Salt - 1/2 tsp
4) Pepper - 1/2 tsp

Preparation Method:-

Beat the eggs well add some salt and pepper and mix well. Heat a non-stick pan on med heat, spread some spinach, pour the beaten egg on top and spread some more spinach on top again. let it cook for 5 mins and flip it. keep for 1 min and take out of the pan..Serve hot.

For Spinach omlette Sandwich:-

Divide the Omlette into 4 equal parts. Toast 2 slices of bread, top 1 slice of bread with a piece of omlette, a cheese slice, a slice of onion, tomato and cucumber pickle cover it with another bread slice and serve.
I always use brown/wheat bread or multi-grain bread, it is nutritious and healthy

Note:- I have not using any cooking oil since I made the omlette in non-stick. If you want to drizzle some oil you may do that.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kerala Fish Biriyani/Pomfret Fish Biriyani(Malabar Style Fish Biriyani)

Fish Biriyani is yet another specialty of Kerala Cuisine. It is more popular in malabar region I believe where fish is an integral part of daily diet. Being from Thalassery where fresh fish is abundant we used to have fish as a main or side dish every single day. Our lunch menu used to be Boiled Rice with a simple Vegetable Curry made with vegetables grown locally, a healthy Veg Stir Fry(Thoran) and a mandatory Fish Curry or Fish Mulakittathu or Fish Fry. Though the fish we get were simple fishes like Sardines(Mathi), Mackerel(Ayala), Stingray(Thirandi), Shark(Shraavu) etc, we kids were happy with one or two pieces of fish in the corner of our plate and the sniff of it helps us consume the rice without any tantrums unlike the cute little picky eaters now a days.

I prefer Fish Biriyani over any Chicken/Lamb Biriyani, my husband is a fish lover too especially this Fish biriyani. I remember him eating all the fish pieces and asking us for fish again and again when he visited us for the first time couple of days before marriage. I could see the embarrassment on my MIL's face and me and my MIL laughs everytime we discuss about it. My hubby is a person with zero formalities and I could see him 'trading' chicken for fish with my cousins when we came to my home first time(for Virunnu/Salkkaaram) after marriage ;) Those were some sweet memories of life. So I love to make this fish biriyani for him and kids and my Son absolutely loves it too.

As I mentioned before in Malabar, Kaima Rice also known as Jeerakasaala Rice/Jeera Rice is used for making Biriyani which tastes way better than the Basmathi Rice. It has a very good fragrance in its own and when cooked with spices and ghee the biriyani tastes fabulous. You guys might laugh at me when I say I carried some Kaima Rice/Jeera Rice last time when I flew back from India :-)  My FIL and my hubby were literally pulling my legs when I bought them from local store near our home. I made this fish biriyani with Jeera Rice and my hubby who was making fun of me before started appreciating me whenever I made Biriyani with this rice. You can definitely use Basmathi Rice which is also aromatic and tasty if you don't find this Jeera Rice in your local grocery stores. Try out this awesome Fish Biriyani and Enjoy!!!!!

For Rice :-


1) Jeera Rice/Kaima Rice - 2 Cups(Can use Basmathi rice instead if you don't have Jeerakasaala  Rice)
2) Cinnamon stick - 2 small
3) Cardamon - 2 to 3
4) Cloves - 4
5) Bay leaves - 3
6) Whole pepper -10
7) Ghee/Oil - 2 tsp
8) Water- 3 3/4 cup
9) Salt -2 tsp
10) Ghee fried cashews and raisins a handful

Preparation Method:-
  • In a thick bottom vessel, add some ghee/oil in low-med flame. Add whole spices(ingredients from 2 to 6) saute for few minutes till they start to give a nice aroma, pour in the water and salt and get to boil.
  • Add the rice, stir with a spoon till the bottom of the vessel, cover it with an air tight lid and let it cook till all the water evaporates.
  • Switch off the stove and let it sit for few minutes say 10 minutes(don't put the spoon and try to sir the rice immediately, rice might stick when it is very hot and stick to the bottom). 
  • Move the rice to two to three platters and let them cool so that rice do not stick to each other.

Preparing Fish Masala:-

  1. Pomfret Fish sliced and cleaned ~ 2 lbs(you can use fish of your choice, preferably less bone fish like kingfish)
  2. Turmeric pdr - 1 tsp +  ½ tsp
  3. Chilly powder- 1 tsp + 1 tsp
  4. Onion very finely sliced -2 big(~ 3 cups) 
  5. Tomato finely sliced - 2 med(~ 1½ cups)
  6. Green chilly slit into halves - 4
  7. Ginger, garlic very finely chopped or crushed - 2tbsp each
  8. Curry leaves a sprig
  9. Coriander leaves chopped ~ 2 tbsp
  10. Salt to taste
  11. Garam masala - 1 tsp
  12. Vinegar ~ 2 tsp
  13. Oil -1 tsp + 2 tsp
  14. Thick Coconut Milk - 3 tbsp(I used canned coconut milk, if using fresh coconut milk extract  ½ cup to 1 cup coconut milk. can use water instead as well but coconut milk gives a better taste)
  15. Water ~  ½ cup(can add bit more according to the gravy required)

Preparation Method:-
  • Marinate the fish with 1tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp chilly powder, salt and vinegar and keep aside for an hour if possible. 
  • In a non-stick pan add a tsp of oil and slightly fry the fish both sides and keep aside.
  • Add 2 tsp oil in a frying pan, add onions and saute for few minutes till they turn translucent, add green chilies, crushed ginger, few curry leaves, salt and saute till onion turns light brown. 
  • Add the chopped coriander and tomatoes and saute well till tomato are soft and oil starts leaving the edges.
  • Add ½ tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp of chilly powder and garam masala and saute to mix. Dilute the thick coconut milk by adding  ½ cup of water, add to the masala and stir well till everything is incorporated.
  • When the gravy start to boil add the fried fish pieces and mix with masala very gently taking care not to break the fish. 
  • Simmer the heat to low-medium, cover the pan and let it cook for few minutes in low heat(10 minutes). 
  • Take off the stove and let it cool for few minutes. 
Layering(Dumming) and finishing:-
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degree F in bake mode. 
  • Take a baking tray add a layer of rice, followed by a layer of fish masala, cahews, raisins.
  • Repeat the process with rest of the rice, masala, cahews and raisins. 
  • Garnish on top with some fried cashews and raisins. Cover the top tightly with a silver foil.
  • Bake it for around 25-30 minutes. Serve hot with raita, pappad and pickle.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Green,green Go green with Moong/Cherupayar Dosa and green chutney

I recently discovered this dosa, actually I'm not sure of the name as I heard this is called 'Pesarattu' an Andra breakfast usually served with Peanut Chutney. I got this recipe from my little sister who recently got married and moved to Edison, NJ. She was lucky enough to get some great friends and she got this recipe from one of a wonderful friend from AP. When ever we go to NJ, I definitely visit this friend and I'm sure she won't let us leave without having something. My kids too really love to go there as they know their quota of chips here is unlimited. Thank you dear Swaroopa for bearing with my kids who mess your home every time we visit and being such a nice person. And thanks my sis for sharing me this so easy and quick recipe. This is a great rescuer at times when I just do not have anything pre-planned for my breakfast of lunch and even my kids love dosa-chutney anytime, everytime...

For Dosa:-

1) Whole Moong/Green gram/Cherupayar - 1 cup soaked for an hr or two
2) Green chilly - 3
3) Ginger - 2 tbsp chopped
4) Coriander leaves- A small bunch chopped
5) Salt

Grind the first four ingredients and make dosa batter out of it. Add some salt and jeera(optional) before you make dosas. Heat a non-stick pan, pour a scoop of batter and spread in circular motion to make nice round dosas. Flip it and wait for a min and take off the flame. Make required amount of dosas and served hot with Peanut or coconut chutney.
Its so simple yet healthy, rich in protein and delicious.
You can spread some finely  chopped onion, curry leaves and coriander leaves on top of the dosa and flip it off when done or add it to the batter and make dosas as well. I did not do it becaue since my kids do not like it.

For green chutney:-
To grind:-
grated coconut - 1 cup
green chilly - 3 sliced
Ginger - 1 tbsp chopped
corainder leaves - 3tbsp
curry leaves few

Coconut oil(any oil can be used)
mustard seeds - 1 tsp
urad dal- 1tbsp
curry leaves
whole red chilly - 2 broken

Grind the 'to grind' ingredients pour in a bowl. Add oil in a pan, splutter mustard seeds, add urad dal, curry leaves and whole red chilly. Stir them for a min and pour over the chutney.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Appam/Vellayappam/Kallappam with Spicy Egg Curry

Appam is a very common breakfast of Keralites. In Malabar area it is even called vella(white) appam since it has a pure white color and also Kallu(toddy) Appam because traditionally fresh toddy was used to ferment this appam batter. My granny used to get the toddy from the person who extracts toddy from the coconut trees near our plot. Very fresh toddy is said to be good for health(even for kids, I'm not very sure of this fact-just mentioning what I've heard as a kid). Here we use yeast to ferment the batter instead of this so called toddy.

This Appam basically requires a special pan or even deep kadai with a proper lid to cover it. I use a non-stick appam vessel and this do not require even a drop of oil. Appam goes well with egg curry/chicken curry/veg stew or even simple sweetened thin coconut milk(you can try this for kids who do not like much spicy food, i'm sure they will love it). So here comes the recipe for Appam and egg curry, Enjoy!!!!!

Appam vessel
For making Appam : -Ingredients:-
  1. Raw rice/Pachari/Basmathi Rice - 2 cup
  2. Cooked Parboiled Rice/Cooked Puzhukkal Ari - ¾ cup
  3. Thick coconut milk - ¾ cup
  4. Yeast - ¾ tsp
  5. Salt- 1 tsp
  6. Sugar - 2tbsp
  7. water - 1 cup (required to grind the rice)
Preparation method:-
  • Wash an clean the rice, soak the rice for atleast 5-6 hours.
  • Grind the rice and cooked rice with enough water and transfer into a wide bowl. Consistency must be almost like dosa batter not too thin nor as thick as Idli batter.
  • Add yeast, sugar, salt, coconut milk and stir well to incorporate everything. Keep the batter overnight for fermentation in a dry warm place(at-least 8 hrs). 

    Appam Batter
  • Heat up the Appachatti/Appam pan, pour a laddle of batter, wait for 30 secs so that the middle part of the pan absorbs some batter, then lift the vessel and move the vessel in a circular motion so that the batter sticks/spread evenly on the sides of the pan.
  • Close the pan with the lid and let it cook till the middle part is not sticky(keep the stove in med-high not in full high).
  • The appam should be soft and middle part will be bit thick and soft. Take out the appam from the pan. Make desired amount of appams  and serve hot with egg curry..

For spicy egg curry:-

  1. Boiled eggs -4(make slit with a knife on the eggs)
  2. Finely sliced onions- 2 big
  3. Sliced Tomato -1
  4. Green chilly -4 split into halves
  5. Fresh Ginger finely chopped ~ 1 tsp
  6. Fresh Garlic finely chopped ~ 1 tsp(Can substitute with fresh ginger-garlic paste or fresh crushed ginger-garlic)
  7. Turmeric powder-  ¾ tsp
  8. Chilly powder - 1 tsp
  9. Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp(optional, I prefer pepper instead of chilly powder )
  10. Coriander powder -1 tsp
  11. Chicken masala - 2 tsp
  12. Thick Coconut milk - 3 tbsp(mix with 1/4 cup water and mix well)
  13. Oil- 2tbsp
  14. Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
  15. Chopped Coriander leaves few
  16. Curry leaves few
  • Heat up a kadai or pan, pour oil in it, splutter mustard seeds, add onion, ginger-garlic, green chilly, curry leaves and stir for a while.
  • When the onion is translucent(don't get it to dark brown), add tomato's and stir for a while.
  • Add in masala powders and stir in med flame for 1 min and mix everything well.
  • Add the eggs and add in a cup of water and bring it to boil in med flame.
  • Add the coconut milk and let it cook for another min.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and curry leaves and serve warm with Appams...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spinach Pakoda

It was a rainy Sunday, my husband and kids were taking a nap after lunch and I was sitting and browsing. I knew my hubby will not sleep more than an hour and he will start asking for Tea from the bed itself. Such a rainy day 'Chai' really needs some pakodas to munch and I didn't have anything preplanned. I had some spinach in the fridge and thought of making the normal spinach pakodas that i make, but was being lazy to finely chop everything, mix and fry it. I came across this recipe of Spinach pakoda where you don't have to chop the spinach and so easy to make it and I wondered why didn't this way of making pakoda strike my mind before.

  1. Spinach - 1/2 lbs
  2. Besan flour - 1/2 cup
  3. Corn flour - 1tbsp
  4. Salt - 1 tbsp
  5. Pepper pdr - 1 tsp
  6. Cumin pdr- 1/2 tsp
  7. Chilly pdr - 1tsp
  8. Asefoetida - a pinch
  9. Water- 1/2 cup
  10. Oil as needed to deep fry
Preparation Method:-
  • Wash and pat dry the spinach leaves well and keep aside.
  • Mix besan flour and rest of the ingredients in water and make a batter, batter should be thin.
  • Heat a kadai in medium heat and pour the oil. To check for the correct heat of the oil, put a drop of batter in the oil and if it comes up right away without changing color your oil is hot enough.
  • Dip spinach leaf in the batter one at a time and slowly drop it in the oil.
  • Fry for 2-3 mins and turn it upside down. Remove it from the oil when the spinach turns golden brown color on both sides.
  • Repeat the process for the rest of the spinach leaves.
Be careful not to overheat and burn the spinach. Stove should always be in medium heat.

Recipe courtesy- Manjula's kitchen...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Raagi Dosa with Egg Roast

Raagi dosa as I call it, is made with Raagi and wheat flour. My concept of Raagi flour was to be used to prepare baby food which we call 'kurukku' and even I loved the leftovers of that 'kurukku' because it was so sweet like any kheer. I had seen my grandma and aunt making it for my cousin brother when he was a baby. And when I had my son and I went to India for vacation my grandma made the same for my son too. Anything other than Raagi was really out of question for me and this Raagi dosa evolved out from my mother-in-law who was bit diabetic and a person who avoid eating rice at night. So on a normal India call to my mother-in-law I  asked her what did she made for dinner and she told me she had made Raagi dosa. So she gave me the recipe of this Raagi dosa and from then I started making this dosa regularly whether it is for breakfast or dinner with a bit of variation. Even me and my hubby is not fond of eating rice at night, so this is a better and healthy substitute for rice or for those who go lazy to roll the chappathi for dinner(of course we all have some of those lazy days to make dough, roll out the roti and make rotis out of it).


Ingredients for Dosa:-

Raagi flr- 3/4 cup
wheat flr- 3/4 cup
salt - 2 tsp
Jeera/Cumin - 1 tsp
water 3 cups (u can add/reduce water as needed, batter should be of normal dosa batter consistency)

In a bowl add ragi flour and wheat flour and mix well with a spoon. Add water and keep mixing so that no lumps are formed. Add in salt and Jeera and mix well. Heat a non-stick pan, pour a laddle of batter and spread in a circular motion to make a nice round dosa, drizzle oil if necessary(I did not use any oil). Let it cook for few seconds or a minute till they turn light brown color. Fold it into half and take out from the pan. Make required amount of dosas like this and serve hot with egg roast..

Ingredients for Quick n Ezee Egg Roast:-

Boiled eggs - 5(make slits on each egg using a knife)
Onion - 2 big( finely sliced)
Tomato - 1(finely sliced)
Green chillies -3(sliced into half)
Ginger - 1 tbsp finely chopped
Turmeric pdr- 3/4 tsp
Chilly pdr - 2 tsp(u can add/reduce it according to your spice level)
salt to taste
curry leaves - a sprig
oil- 2 tbsp

In a frying pan add oil and saute onion, ginger, green chilly and salt. When onion turn light brown add tomato and saute for a while. Add turmeric powder, chilly powder and some more curry leaves and stir for 2 mins. Add eggs and mix it well with masala(check for the salt in btw). Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 5 mins in low flame. Switch off the flame and serve hot with Raagi dosa/chappathi. Garnish with few more curry leaves and coriander leaves if desired...

Note:-Without adding wheat flour Ragi dosa will be very sticky and might not come out clean from the tava. Adding cumin seed is optional, I add while making most of the dosas.
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