Wednesday 30 December 2009

Ring Out the Old, Ring In the New….

First of all, a New Year calls for a new look, so this blog gets a revamp and I hope you will like it. Since this is a new layout, please bear with me if some things don't work right away and do let me know about it. Now on to the post then….










I thought I had an overdose of those best of the year programs they keep showing on the TV at this time of the year. Top 50 songs of the year, top 10 movies of the year, Top 20 News of the year, the significant 10 happenings of the year and so on. And here in UK, they also have the most annoying people of the year. To be very honest I enjoy watching this more than the Top/significant ones. But if all this was not enough, here is my own ‘Best of the Year’ post, thanks to Srivalli.



Year 2009 was a lot quieter and calmer compared to the previous year. Shreya turned 2 yrs old and although she entered what they call ‘the Terrible Twos’ phase, it was a little better to manage my time. Either that or I have got used to cooking, keeping an eye on her, talking/entertaining her and playing with her all at the same time. I can not say the same about my patience though :) But I was able to pay more attention to what I was doing in the kitchen apart from mechanically chopping vegetables, making Rotis and washing utensils.

The most significant achievement for me has been my foray into baking this year. Moving on from the basic Butter cake (Recipe coming soon) I tried my hand at Cookies, Muffins, Breads, Scones and even some layered cakes. I admit that I haven't posted all of them here yet, but they will see the light of this blog soon! As for the cakes, I still have a lot to be desired in the decorating & making it look great department.

Blogging wise, I haven't been really able to increase the posts but I would like to believe that I have been consistent. When I started this blog in March ‘08, I wasn't even sure I will come this far! I did cross the 100 posts mark this year ":)

I have joined the Book Club and also started participating in The ICC. The former has exposed me to Books, which normally I wouldn't pick up to read, at the same time inspiring me to try different things to cook. As for ICC, the Gulab Jamun challenge clinched it for me and I look forward to each month’s challenge now.

2009 also saw a major change in our everyday meals and hence the sudden surge of ‘Healthy eating’, ‘Soups & Salads’ posts. I am not sure how long we will be able to maintain this, but right now its looking quite good.

Although each post is very dear to me, I have tried to come up with the top 3 list and here it is.

Top 3 recipes


Top 3 Bakes

I hope to continue posting different recipes, to try out a lot of recipes from my fellow bloggers and most importantly have a lot of fun in the kitchen in the year 2010. The coming year will also see a few events being hosted on this blog, a completely new arena I am stepping into so I hope I can count on all of your support!

Have a great New Year!

Saturday 26 December 2009

This book makes me cook: Kathrikai Bhaji (Aubergine Fritters)

Finding this month’s book in my local library proved to be some thing of a task for me. Finally I managed to get the book called for me from another library.

The book chosen for this month was Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair. There are essentially 6 stories, involving – of course 6 women, tied together by the central story of Akhila, who is a single woman at 45 yrs, having worked hard to keep her family (mother, 2 brothers & a sister) afloat after the sudden demise of her father. She is trying to find the answer to the question – does a woman need a man to cope with life? The other 5 women, her co travelers in the train to Kanyakumari, try to help her arrive at the answer by sharing their own life story with her.

The first thing that struck me about the writing was the extensive use of adjectives & similes, specially in the initial chapters. Although the vivid description of a railway station & platform left me feeling nostalgic, as if I was standing on that very platform, some times I felt she had delved into too much of a detail, which took away the spotlight from the story.

The story itself did not work for me either. I could not identify or even empathise with any of the characters. Their discontent towards life sounded hollow to me, except may be for Akhila & Mari. Even in the case of Akhila, there were some aspects which were beyond my understanding. It might be that I couldn't really appreciate the position she was in, but that is where I thought the writer had failed to make me feel for Akhila. For example, I saw no reason for her to put up with her opportunist & ungrateful sister while she pretended to be the one making sacrifices!

As for the food part, I did not find too many culinary references and being the serious kind of book that it was, no dish sprung to mind immediately. But there was the mention of Kathrikai Bhaji, which caught my attention and so that is what I made.

Kathrikai Bhaji (Aubergine Fritters)

Serves 2 as a side


  • 2-3 Aubergines, cut into thin slices
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Besan (Chickpea flour)
  • 2 tblsp chopped onion
  • 2 tblsp finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp Red Chilli powder
  • salt
  • Oil for frying


Combine all ingredients except for the aubergine slices and oil in a mixing bowl. Prepare a medium thick batter (slightly thinner than Dosa batter) using a little water.

Heat the oil and then lower the flame.

Dip the slices of aubergine into the prepared batter and fry in the hot oil turning them every now & then. Remove them out of the oil when they turn light brown and are crisp. Drain on a kitchen towel.

Serve hot on their own as a perfect evening snack with Tea/Coffee or as a side with the meal.

My Notes: This was the first time I has included chopped onions in the batter for the fritters, only because they were mentioned in the book. I thought they might add an extra crunch but there was no real difference, so its perfectly OK to skip them.

On another note, hope all of you had a lovely Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year!

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Chegodilu/Chekodi for ICC

I had not heard about it before this, I must admit. But now I not only know what it is, I like it too. So here it is, this month’s ICC, deep fried yet again but savoury this time. Quick to prepare, it can be a great snack to munch any time!

I followed Recipe #1 and used store bought rice flour.


Picture 036

Makes about 20


  • 1 Cup Rice Flour
  • 1 Cup Water
  • salt (as per taste)
  • 1 tsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • 1.5-2 tblsp Yellow Moong Dal (Soaked in water for about an hour)
  • 1 tsp Sesame Seeds (Til)
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tsp Ajwain/Carom Seeds (Optional)
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder (Adjust according to taste)


Bring the water to a boil in a sauce pan. Add the salt, ghee & Moong Dal & wait for it to come back to a boil, lower the flame and add the rice flour. Mix it vigorously, while switching off the flame. I used the back of a wooden spoon for this and it worked out really well.

Cover the rice flour mixture & leave it to cool for about 15 minutes. When its cool enough to handle, add the chilli powder, sesame seeds, cumin seeds (or ajwain) and knead.

Heat the oil & once its hot enough, put it on a low flame.

Take a small lime sized lump of the dough & roll it out between your palms to get a thick rope. Get the two ends together & press them to form a circle. Continue with the rest of the dough.

Fry these circles in the hot oil, keeping the flame on high for the initial 2-3 minutes & then continue to fry on a medium flame till they turn a light brown. Drain on a kitchen towel.

Picture 031

My Notes: Since this was my first time with Chekodi, I didn't really know what to expect. But I assumed that they should be crispy & crunchy, maybe like the Muruku or Chakali. Although they turned out very good, I found that they were a little soft from the inside. I think I should have rolled out thinner ropes and fried them on a medium flame for some more time. Nevertheless they tasted great & I will give them a try again very soon.

Friday 4 December 2009

Hot, Sweet & Sour Veg Soup

The weather is getting colder by the day, which itself is getting shorter and shorter. It starts getting dark by 3.30-4 in the afternoon and it does feel a little odd in the beginning. But as time passes we will get used to it & in fact I am sure it will feel odd when the day starts to stretch after March-April!

When its cold & dark, you feel like having something hot & spicy, at least I do :) I have a weakness for anything that has Garlic & Soy Sauce as its main ingredient. Of course for me this mainly means what is popularly known as the Indo-Chinese cuisine. This soup is as good as it gets. Full of flavour & healthy veggies. Perfect for me when I ‘think’ I am on a diet.

Hot, Sweet & Sour Vegetable Soup

Picture 008

Serves 2


  • 2 medium sized carrots, chopped
  • 5-6 Baby Corns, cut into rounds
  • 1 Green Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 French/Fine beans, chopped
  • 4-5 Asparagus tips, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Green chilli paste (optional)
  • 500 ml Vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 tblsp oil
  • 1-2 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1-2 tsp White Vinegar
  • 2-3 tsp Corn Flour
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper


Boil the Asparagus tips till they turn bright green, approx 2 min. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a deep pan. Add the onions, ginger & garlic and sauté. Add the chilli paste if using and fry for 2 more minutes till the onions turn soft.

Add the  carrots, beans, baby corn and mix well. Put in the soy sauce, a little salt (keeping in mind that the soy sauce is salty too), pepper powder and the sugar.  Mix and cook for another minute.

Add the stock and bring it to a boil. Add the pepper and vinegar, mix and simmer till the vegetables are cooked, aprrox 10-15 minutes.

You can get this soup ready till this point and go ahead with the following steps when you are ready to serve.

Dissolve the corn flour in a little bit of water and add it to the soup to thicken it. Also add the boiled asparagus now, stir and cook till the soup reaches the desired consistency. Serve piping hot!

Picture 010

My Notes: It was delicious, full of flavour and completely filling. Give me a bowl of this hot soup and a mystery novel to read or an Agatha Christie’s Poirot movie and I am set for the evening!

Looks like Meeta’s Monthly Mingle is celebrating Soups at the right time, over at Tongue Ticklers this month!

Monday 30 November 2009

Kadai Paneer

Paneer is something we can never do without. Its almost as if we get withdrawal symptoms if we haven't had a Paneer dish in more than 5 or 6 days! So when JFI:Paneer was announced, I was very excited, both to participate and to feast on the round up! But looks like I am just about managing to send in my entry.

This one features in almost all the restaurant menus & I have to admit, is always my preference if asked to choose. One main reason being it goes very light on the cream, even in a restaurant ( Of course this home made version doesn't use any cream at all). Since there is no cream, it tastes quite different from the other Paneer dishes and is a very good refreshing change.

I found this recipe here, and more or less followed it to the letter.

Paneer Kadai

Picture 0771

Serves 2


  • 2-2.5 cups Paneer cubes
  • 4-5 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tblsp oil
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 tblsp Coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1” Cinnamon stick
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 tsp Garlic paste
  • 2 tsp Ginger paste
  • 1-2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp Kasuri Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves)
  • Fresh Coriander leaves, chopped
  • Salt


Heat oil in a kadai. Add the red chillies, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and the crushed coriander. Also add in the onion and fry for approx 3-4 min on a medium flame.

Add the ginger paste, garlic paste and red chilli powder and mix well. Sauté for another 2-3 min.

Add the tomatoes and salt and cook till the tomatoes turn soft. Add the paneer and mix gently. Also add the kasuri methi. Add some water if you want the gravy to be thinner.

Cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes. Add the chopped coriander leaves, mix and turn off the heat.

Serve hot with Roti or as a side dish with Rice.

Picture 086

My notes: This wasn't exactly like the ones I have had in the restaurants but it was delicious all the same. The gravy was quite watery & if continued to cook, the dish turned out dry. I might try adding some grated onion next time. Also the tomatoey taste was quite strong since the tomatoes are actually being boiled here, reducing the quantity might make a difference.


This is my entry for JFI:Paneer an event originally started by Indira.

Sunday 29 November 2009

Bread Alone with Scones

‘This Book makes me Cook’ will be a regular feature on this blog from this month onwards and I have already started wondering why I had not joined it earlier. First of all as I have mentioned a lot of times earlier, I love reading and in spite of the busy schedule now or earlier when I was working, I have somehow always managed to squeeze in some reading. But most importantly the Book Club gives me an exposure to a lot of good books which otherwise I might not come across.

Take for example, this month’s Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks. If I had passed this one on the shelf in a library I don't think I would have actually picked it up, but having read it now, I am glad I did.

Its all about ‘Wyn’ who is jolted out of her ‘too good to be true’ comfortable life, which in turn makes her realise that there is more to life than being tied to a single person (her husband in this case). The writing itself was very interesting, changing between past & present tense with ease. The separation from her husband proves to be beneficial to Wyn as she realises her long lost passion for baking bread. Once she has it in her, for baking bread, she is not deterred by various hurdles, the main one being the tough Linda, in the bakery where she takes up work.

The most striking part of the book, for me, was the friendship between Wyn and CM. I completely identified with them and felt fortunate to have experienced a similar kind of relationship with my friends. Its funny how your friends sometimes know you better than yourself and can actually predict how you will react to a certain situation. This was a good read although I would have liked some more ‘action’ in the end.

It looks natural to be making a bread inspired from this book but I settled for Scones. Scones are mentioned on more than two occasions in the book and everytime the vivid description made me want some :) So I decided to make Cherry Scones, following a recipe from the Home Baking Cookbook which is the latest addition to my fast expanding Kitchen bookshelf!

Cherry Scones

Picture 114

Makes 8-10


  • 225 gm (2.25 Cups) Plain Flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 85 gm (0.4 cups) Butter, chilled
  • 1 Egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tblsp Caster Sugar
  • 3-4 tblsp Glace Cherries, chopped
  • 2-3 tblsp Milk

Method: Pre heat the oven to 220 deg C and grease a baking sheet.

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub the flour & butter between your palms till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar, cherries and add the beaten egg. Mix along with 2 tblsp of milk, using a spoon to form a soft dough.

Sprinkle some flour onto the work surface and knead the dough very lightly. Roll out very lightly to a thickness of about 2 cm. Using a cookie cutter, cut out 8 rounds and transfer them to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough to form more scones. Brush lightly with milk.

Bake the prepared scones in the pre heated oven for about 8-10 min until well risen and golden. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool and then serve with butter.

Picture 121

My Notes: This was our breakfast last Saturday and we loved it. The original recipe has Sultanas along with the cherries but I skipped it as GM is not too fond of them. If you want to use them, add about 2 tblsp of Sultanas along with the chopped glace cherries.

Make sure that the rolled out dough is quite thick otherwise you will end up with cookies instead of scones! Exactly what happened to my second batch of dough :)

Sunday 22 November 2009

Recipe Index

Recipes - Categories

Cookies, Bars & Scones

Picture 168



Cakes & Muffins

Picture 071

Savoury Bakes

Golden Onion Quiche




Sandwiches & Wraps


Snacks & Street food





Starters and Appetisers


Rotis etc (Flatbreads)


Rice Preparations

 5Aug08 097


Accompaniments to Roti & Rice

Dals (Lentils & Beans)






Picture 086


Picture 018

Chutneys & Raitas

20Aug08 033

Jams & Pickles

Picture 090

Soups & Salads

Picture 008

Sweets & Desserts


Spice Mix (Masala Powders)


The Basics

World Cuisine

Picture 0351

Naivedya Series

20Aug08 385

Healthy Eating



One Dish meals

5Aug08 087


Recipes - Ingredients











Dals (Lentils & Beans)



Curd (Yogurt) &  Buttermilk


Besan (Chickpea Flour)




Picture 193


























Sunday 15 November 2009

Gulab Jamun…

from scratch! Yes, I have wanted to try this out since a long time but every time I made them, it was for an occasion & so I didn't want to take a chance and ended up using the Gits pack. They always turned out fantastic for me, although I have heard from others that there might be problems even there. So making them from scratch was something very daring and I was not prepared to do it until ICC came by.

Turns out that these Gulab Jamuns are also for an occasion, a milestone to be precise. This is my 100th post and what better way to celebrate than with these universally loved Jamuns!

So here they are, Gulab Jamun from scratch, right from making the Khava/Khoya at home. Well, almost. The challenge gave 2 options, either make the Khava/Khoya at home using milk or start with readymade Khava/Khoya. I found a midway. I made the Khoya at home but not with milk but Ricotta Cheese instead as per this recipe.

This recipe has been one of the most useful ones I have come across through blogging. Staying in London, it is quite difficult to find Khoya, so all those recipes having Khoya as one of the ingredients were just buried in a folder. But thanks to this I can make them now! Ricotta Cheese is easily available & as it turns out, this is quite economical too.

Gulab Jamun


Makes about 25-30 Gulab Jamuns:

For the Khoya

  • 500 gm Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Ghee (Clarified Butter)

For the syrup

  • 2.5 cups Sugar
  • 1.5 Cups Water
  • 1/2 tsp Cardamom powder
  • 6-8 Saffron strands
  • 1/2 tsp Rose essence

For the Jamuns

  • 1.5 cups Khoya (The recipe for khoya here, yields the exact amount)
  • 3/4 cup All purpose Flour (Maida)
  • Milk (As reqd, approx 1-2 tblsp)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • Oil for frying


To make the Khoya: Take a non stick saucepan & heat the ghee in it. Add the Ricotta cheese and continue to heat this on a low flame. The cheese will appear to be melting in the beginning but will start losing the moisture after some time to get converted into Khoya. Keep stirring in between to avoid burning. The whole procedure will take about 30-40 min.

To make the syrup: Take the sugar in a deep saucepan, add the water and bring to boil while dissolving the sugar. Once it starts boiling, reduce the flame to lowest and add the cardamom powder, Saffron strands and Rose essence (if using). Mix properly & heat on low for another 10 min and then turn off the flame.

To make the Jamuns: Heat the oil for frying. Take the Khoya in a mixing bowl and add the maida and soda. Add milk a few drops at a time to make a soft dough. Make small rounds by taking small amounts of dough and shape them into jamuns, taking care that they turn out with a smooth surface and do not have any cracks on them. For this you might have to press the dough between you palms while shaping them. Fry these Jamuns in the hot oil at a medium-low flame till they turn brown.

Remove and drain them. Then add them to the prepared sugar syrup. Wait for some time for the jamuns to soak up the syrup and then they are ready to be devoured. If they don't get over immediately, store in a closed container. Although the recipe for ICC mentions that they should not be stored in the fridge, I have always kept them in the fridge and never saw any problem. And we do like cold Jamuns :)

Picture 1391 Picture 151

My Notes: This was a fabulous experience. I had a sense of achievement at having attempted & successfully made Gulab Jamuns at home without using any ready made packs! The best part was when GM said they were better than the the ones made with Gits packet! I am sure this is the way I am going to make them from now on, sorry Gits, you have just lost a loyal customer!

New Kid on the block

Seriously, she really is a kid, 2.5 yrs old. I might have stiff competition coming up here, right at home!

My daughter not only pretends to cook Pav Bhaji, Pasta, Pizza etc but also demands that her ‘dishes’ be photographed just like her Mom’s ! Have a look..

Picture 1541 

Dont miss the apron :) The DVD player is supposed to be her oven & my oven gloves are always in the living room with her trying to ‘bake’ something!

And why am I putting this on ‘my’ blog? Coz I know one of these days she is going to demand for her ‘dishes’ to be posted on the blog too, so this might just be an introduction for a ‘guest cook’!

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Pumpkin Soup with sweet corn

Getting Inspired is not new to the Hindi film industry but I recently saw a new level of such inspiration when I caught a couple of songs of the yet to be released movie ‘Radio’ starring Himesh Reshammiya. ‘Mann Ka radio’  reminds me of I want You, Savage Garden & the other one ‘Janeman’ seems to be lifted from 'Notting Hill, ‘When you say Nothing at All’, right down to the bench in the park! In fact, if you search for the Hindi songs on Youtube, it mentions the respective English ones in the ‘related videos’ category!I am waiting have a look at the other songs in the movie now!

Coming to the soup now, as I have mentioned earlier, somehow I can not imagine a soup without Tomato in it apart from the sweet corn soup of course. So in that sense this is the first time I have tried some thing other than tomato, it still has sweet corn in it but not in the usual way.

I have vouched for this book earlier, and this soup also comes from the same one. One of the best things about this book are the beautiful pictures which make you want to make them immediately. It also helps that the recipes are quite easy & straight forward. I needed such recipes especially for the soups, since I needed motivation to make it a regular meal in the first place!


Pumpkin Soup with Sweet corn

Picture 227

Serves 2


  • 3 cups Pumpkin or Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded & diced
  • 1 cup Sweet Corn kernels
  • 2 tblsp Butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • 1.5 cups vegetable stock (or water)
  • Salt & Pepper

Method: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a deep saucepan. Add the onions and cook till it softens, approx 5-6 min.

Add the diced Pumpkin (or butternut squash) along with half the sweet corn, stir well & season with salt & pepper. Cover and cook for sometime, approx 6-8 min.

Add the milk and stock and give it a good stir and bring it to boil. Then, simmer and cook till the pumpkin has cooked through. Keep an eye on the soup while its cooking as it may boil over because of the milk.

Meanwhile pre heat the grill. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and mix with the remaining corn. Season with salt & pepper and keep it under the hot grill to toast, approx 6-8 min.moving the sweet corn halfway through.

Once the soup is cooked, blend it to a puree using a hand blender or a food processor.

Serve the soup hot, topped with the toasted sweet corn.

My Notes: The first experience with a tomato less soup was great. We liked the sweet pumpkin & sweet corn combination. The toasted sweet corn was even better! This soup was filling & delicious.

Saturday 31 October 2009

White as snow in August!

It was pure chance that I came to know about Flowerfest. The idea appealed to me instantly. The main reason being that I am very bad  at recognising flowers and that is such a shame because I love flowers so much. I have seen a lot of flowers & I know a lot of names but I cant seem to connect the two together.Picture 154

For example, take this one. I have seen this flower too many times. I know that there is a flower called Daisy. But I had never associated the two. It was only when I googled that I came to know this was indeed a Daisy – African Daisy, the botanical name being Dimorphotheca pluvialis. This snap was taken when we had visited the Leeds castle back in August.


I am hoping to improve my flower knowledge through this series. Thanks Manisha for this event.