Saturday 31 January 2009

MBP: Easy Breezy Breakfast

Although I like to cook and everyone at home likes what I cook, there are times when I reach an absolute stagnancy wherein I just don't feel like eating what I have cooked. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that the dish turns out inedible. What I mean is that I get fed up of having the same type of taste every time I cook with a particular ingredient be it a vegetable or a spice.

In desi terms they say "Haath baith gaya hai" (The hand is set), so everytime I make a particular dish, it ends up tasting exactly the same. While this is sometimes considered to be a sign of a well seasoned cook :), I had reached a point where I just wanted to have something different. While in India, I did have a chance to do just that, but its been hardly a month since I have come back and I am already reached that threshold where things start looking very monotonous. Now I can not really wait for the next trip as its definitely going to be quite some time before I get a chance to even think about it. So something had to be done and I came up with a plan.

The plan is to observe a 'No self Cooking' week every month. No, that does not mean GM is going to don the apron for that week. While he would readily agree to it, its not practically possible everyday for a week, lack of time being the major reason. I do allow him to make a mess in the kitchen once in a while though :) What this plan really means is that for a whole week every month, I will be trying out recipes from fellow bloggers for the everyday meal options and of course share them here on this blog.

For now, here are Jugalbandi's Spring Onion Pancakes, which I feel are a great weekend brunch option or even a hurried breakfast on a weekday since they are so easy & quick to make.


Although their recipe states that the flavours can be changed/added according to preferences, I stuck to Spring onions. The pancakes were served with this Chutney.

Please note that the above picture does not do any justice to the actual Pancakes. I was in a hurry and the batteries ditched me as well, so I could only manage this single shot, while the original idea was to get several snaps, showing off the light brown crust on the other side (Believe me, I did get get a nice one...)

This is my entry for this months MBP, an event started by Coffee of The Spice Cafe and being hosted at Simple Indian food. The theme for the month is Easy Breezy Breakfast.

Thursday 29 January 2009


Long long ago, once upon a time I had made a crumble or crisp as they are also called. Well, it didn't turn out the way it should have. Might be because of something I did, that I shouldn't have, or something I didn't, that I should have. The bottom line is that it did not see the light of this blog since it was not up to the standards (Ahem!).

I wont go into further details about the crumble itself since this post is not about the dish but the things that went into it.


Yes, it was a Rhubarb & Apple crumble. I had taken this pic with all the intent of posting it along with the recipe, but as mentioned earlier, it was not meant to be. Or rather it was actually meant to be, so this pic makes an appearance on the blog after all as my entry for the comeback edition of CLICK this month, the theme being RED.

Now that I have a little more (?) experience with baking, maybe I should give the crumble another attempt....

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Request a recipe

If you have a particular recipe in mind, which you would like to see on Taste Buds, please leave a comment here with the following details:

Name of the recipe
Any particular reason for requesting this recipe
Your Name and your blog, if any


I will try to publish the same as early as possible. Please note that although I don't claim to be an expert on any of the recipes, I will try my best to research, try & test (If I haven't already tried it) before I publish anything on the blog.

Monday 26 January 2009

Paneer Bhurji

Thinking about what to cook for Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner is very difficult for me, but the tougher thing is to decide what to pack in the lunch box. It should be filling and also convenient to be carried along. Most of the times I end up making wraps - nothing fancy, just a Bhaji/Stir fry filling in a Chapati or sometimes Tortillas depending upon the filling. But again there is that question of what filling???

The filling ranges from a simple Potato Bhaji to a beans gravy (black eyed beans, Rajma, Chickpeas etc). This way I have a satisfied feeling of having packed something substantial in the lunch box and GM is happy that he is not really eating in the routine way...

Paneer Bhurji is what I make on days that

  • I have run out of vegetables OR
  • We are not in the mood for vegetables OR
  • We are in the mood for something special

But then I have never considered this one to be a special Paneer dish as with the others. One of the reasons is that, I usually make this when I am pressed for time, and if I don't have potatoes at home! Potato will always be my first choice!

Bhurji denotes quick & easy for me. Paneer Bhurji is both of these in addition to being delicious. Its ready in no time and serves as a great lunch box solution.

Just fill spoonfuls of this delicious Bhurji into Chapatis/Rotis or even Tortillas and you have a 'Wrap' ready to go!

Paneer Bhurji

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Serves 2


  • 2 cups grated Paneer (Cottage Cheese)
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 2 Green Chillies, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 tblsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp Haldi (Turmeric powder)
  • Fresh Coriander leaves


Heat oil in a pan. Splutter the cumin seeds and then add the green chillies & onion. Saute for about 3 min.

Add the Haldi and then the tomato and cook till the tomato turns mushy.

Add the grated Paneer and salt and mix. Cook on low flame for about 5 min till the extra water reduces.

Add the chopped coriander leaves, give it a stir and switch off the flame. Add a dash of lime juice if desired.

Serve hot with Chapati/Roti or Phulkas or as a side dish with Rice, i.e. when its not made for the lunch box :)

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Palak ki Kadhi

Kadhi is a curd based preparation generally made as an accompaniment for Rice dishes such as Pulao, Khichdi or even plain steamed rice. A Kadhi has two components namely the curd based gravy and the additional component which enhances the taste by imparting its own flavour. The famous Punjabi Kadhi has gramflour dumplings called Pakodi while down south it is called Mor Kolumbu and the Pakodi is replaced by a variety of vegetables such as White Pumpkin, Radish, Okra, Snake gourd etc.

The Kadhi that we prepare, can be considered as being the intermediate between the North and the South. While it does not have Pakodi in it, it is sometimes made with vegetables and sometimes had plain, without anything added to it and called Palade in kannada. The most common vegetable used is the Snake gourd.

Although it would seem that the taste of the curd will not change too much with the added component, in reality the taste changes drastically with each of these additions.

Here I am presenting a Palak (Spinach) based Kadhi, the recipe for which was tweaked from the Bawarchi website and was recommended by dear N!

Palak Ki Kadhi


  • 1 cup chopped spinach leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 dry Red Chillies (or as per taste)
  • 1-2 pinches of Asafoetida (Its 2 for me, I like the flavour a lot!)
  • 1/2 tsp Haldi (Turmeric Powder)
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 2 cups curd
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tblsp Besan (Chickpea flour)
  • Salt
  • Oil


Whisk together the curd, water, salt and Besan to form a mixture without any lumps and keep aside.

Heat oil in a deep vessel and splutter the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Add the garlic, Asafoetida, dry red chillies, Haldi one by one and fry for a min or two.

Add the chopped spinach leaves and saute for about 3-4 min.

Add in the curd mixture and mix properly. Heat on medium.

Once the Kadhi starts to boil, stir and switch off the flame after 2-3 min. It has to be boiled only to let the Besan be cooked. If boiled for a longer time, the curd starts getting separated.


To enjoy it to the fullest serve hot with plain Rice and some roasted Papad!

This Kadhi is on its way to Tongue Ticklers for the FIC-Yellow event. Looks like there's really going to be a lot of sunshine this month!

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Til-Gul (Sesame-Jaggery) Ladoo for Sankranti

Sunday evening, when we were in the midst of deciding what to make for dinner or whether to just dial in a pizza, our family friends here in London called & informed us that they were coming over in another 10 minutes. What followed was a mad frenzy to make the house look like there were civilised people staying in here! It is almost always like that on weekends, since there is no pressure of getting things done on time, most of the time they don't get done at all!

Anyway, we somehow barely managed for the house & the family to be in a presentable state and they arrived, along with a basket full of goodies for the occasion of Lohri, which was yesterday. Lohri is a festival of bonfire which is celebrated in the northern part of India. This festival has its counterpart in almost all the regions- Pongal in the south, Sankranti in the west and so on. It marks the beginning of Uttarayan (when the earth starts moving towards the sun). It also signifies the starting of the Harvest season, a period of rest before the harvesting actually begins. Read more about it here.

Coming back to the basket full of goodies, apart from a box of sweets it had Revadi (A candy like preparation of sesame & sugar with a slight rose flavour)  and groundnuts in the shell.

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The first Revadi that went into my mouth took me straight into the open ground of Lodhi Road Complex in Delhi, which is where the bonfire used to be every year for Lohri. Sweets made from Sesame are exchanged on the occasion of Lohri, since it is celebrated during winter and sesame is considered to be a "heaty" substance. The groundnut denotes the harvest of the season.

Makar Sankranti, which is what we call this festival is celebrated in almost the same way and on the 14th of January, a day after Lohri. 13th January is celebrated as Bhogi, but more about this in another post. On the occasion of Sankranti, sweets made from Til (Sesame) & Gul (Jaggery) are exchanged with a chant of "Til Gul ghya gode gode bola" in Marathi & "Yellu (Sesame) Bella (Jaggery) tagondu Yellu  Bellada haage irona" in Kannada, both of which basically mean "Let our relationship be as sweet as this combination of Sesame & Jaggery".

The name Makar Sankranti, where Sankranti means transition in Sanskrit, is derived from the fact that on this day the sun begins the transition from Dhanu Rashi (Sagittarius Zodiac) to Makar Rashi (Capricorn Zodiac). The festival holds special significance for new born babies and newly wed ladies and they are gifted black clothes with white designs and ornaments made of halwa (sugar), another sweet specially made for the occasion.

As with all other festivals, food again plays a very vital role during Sankranti also. As I have mentioned earlier, sweets made from Sesame & Jaggery are a must and this is what this post will cover. Apart from this, on the day of Bhogi (13th Jan), the spread usually consists of Bhogi (a spicy khichdi), Shejji Bhaakri (Flatbread made from millet) and accompaniments such as Lassun Chutney, curd, Brinjal bhaji etc. But for now I am presenting the recipe for Til-Shenga-Gul Ladoo (Ladoos made form Sesame, groundnut & Jaggery)


Makes about 20 small sized Ladoos.


  • 1 1/2 cups Til
  • 1/2 cup Groundnut
  • 1 cup Jaggery, grated
  • 1 tblsp Ghee (Optional)

Method: Roast the Til lightly, taking care not to burn it. Allow this to cool down.

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Roast the groundnuts separately till you see dark specks on the skin. Allow to cool & then remove the skin by rubbing between your palms.

Reserve 2/3 tblsp of Til and Coarsely grind the remaining Til & Groundnut separately. Mix both of them along with the grated Jaggery and also the ghee. The ghee is added to aid in the Ladoo making process.

The mixing process takes a fairly long time. This is because the Jaggery has a tendency to form lumps and this has to be mixed properly by rubbing between the fingers to separate it out and form a uniform mixture. This is very similar to mixing cold butter with plain flour that we do for the cookies, crusts, puff pastry  etc. Also add the reserved Til now and mix.

If the mixture seems too dry for making Ladoos, add some more ghee, but this will alter the taste. Alternatively, warm the mixture a bit. This will make the Jaggery melt a little and it will be easier to make the Ladoos. Prepare small lemon sized Ladoos from the mix by continuously pressing the mix between your fingers. The pressing action will release the "oil" from the Til & groundnut which will help in holding the Ladoo together.

Picture 179

Do not store, distribute among friends & relatives with the above mentioned in whichever language you are comfortable!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Makar Sankranti! Let our friendship continue to be as sweet as it has been and more!



Monday 12 January 2009

Hot & Fiery Jhunka

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There can be no other adjective to describe this one. In my opinion if the Jhunka is not hot (spicy), then it is not the real thing. Pair it up with Jwarichi Bhaakri (Jollad Rotti), place some Lassun (Garlic) chutney and sliced raw onion and you have a delicious rustic meal ready for you.

But there was a time that I searched for excuses to avoid eating this one.  My all time favourite and successful excuse was that it gives me stomachache since it has so much of Besan (chickpea flour) in it. Others included that the Jhunka was too dry or too hot and so on. Funnily enough these are the very reasons, I like Jhunka so much now!

Mom made this on days that we would run out of fresh vegetables or simply as a change from the routine Chapati Bhaji meal. I didn't have the nerve to ask her for the recipe when I was making it, because I knew that I would be definitely taunted about it.....What? You want the recipe for Jhunka? What's wrong with you? Wasn't that supposed to be bad for your stomach? and so on. So I made it as per my recollection of seeing her make it and some guess work on my part. It turned out to be good, exactly the way I like it.

The other version is the Pithla which is gravy like and goes well with rice. In fact Pithla-Bhaat comes a close second as the ultimate comfort food after Varan-Bhaat for many of us.

Although the basic ingredient, Besan, remains the same there are mainly two ways to prepare each one of these. The major difference being the use of either red chilli powder or green chillies. Just altering this one item brings a lot of change to the way Jhunka tastes and looks.


Serves 2


  • 1 cup Besan (Chickpea flour)
  • 1 tblsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 4-6 curry leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Haldi (Turmeric powder)
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust according to taste & the type of chilli powder, the one I have used is fairly hot)
  • salt to taste


Heat oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds. Add the curry leaves and garlic and fry them.

Add the chopped onion and saute until they turn translucent. Add the Haldi and mix. Cook for a minute.

Add the salt and the red chilli powder and mix well. Let this roast for half a minute.

Add 2-3 tblsp of water and bring to a boil. Now add the besan, spoon by spoon while stirring vigorously. Keep mashing with the back of the spoon so that there are no lumps remaining.

Cook the Jhunka on medium-low heat till the besan is properly cooked (it will let out a nice aroma) and keep stirring in between.

As mentioned earlier this is best served with Jwarichi Bhaakri (Sorghum flatbread). But I didn't have the flour on hand to make them, so we made do with Phulkas instead. As mentioned earlier, a lot of guesswork went into this, so I had this Batata Ras Bhaji as a backup, but as it turned out, it wasn't really necessary!

Picture 028

And don't skip the raw onions even if you are averse to them. Apart from enhancing the taste, they also serve the purpose of adding that much needed 'juice' with this 'dry' preparation. And there's always the mint or if you are like me and not too fond of mint, have some saunf (fennel seeds) later on :)

Some variations to the above recipe

  • If you want to make the green chilli version, add 2-3 chopped green chillies before adding the chopped onion to the tempering. Adjust the quantity of green chilies according to the spice level & your taste. Proceed as usual and skip the red chilli powder in the next step.
  • To make Pithla (Gravy like) increase the amount of water to 1 cup and cook on low flame, stirring in between. When its finally done, it should have a paste like consistency. Pithla is generally made with green chillies but you can always try the red chilli powder version as well.
  • Adding chopped fresh coriander leaves takes the Jhunka/Pithla to an altogether different level.

This goes to Sometime Foodie for JFI-Chickpeas, an even initiated by Indira of Mahanandi.

PS: I am of course going to tell Mom that I made this & it turned out well & we finished. or rather scraped it out of the bowl and that I will be making this very frequently, even when the refrigerator is full of vegetables!

Monday 5 January 2009

Naivedya Series: Puran Poli / Holige

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To complete the Puran (sweet filling made of split chickpea) trilogy, I am now presenting the most famous of the lot - Puran Poli or Holige as it is called in kannada. Although it needs no introduction, if I had to describe it to some one who hadn't heard of it, I would say that it is like a Parantha (stuffed flatbread) with a sweet stuffing. It is the ultimate festive dish, almost always made during Holi and also features as a favourite on any other special occasion.

Making Puran Poli is considered to be difficult for the basic reason that if all the proportions and the timing is not taken care of, they can turn into real disasters. In fact, it is said in our part of the country that if some one can make good Puran Poli and Jawar Bhaakri (Flatbread made from Sorghum) then the person is a complete cook!

I have started to make Puran Poli only after I came to London after marriage. I have had my share of disasters during the initial attempts but after a lot of trials & errors, I would like to believe that I have reached at a personal formula for making very good Puran Poli.

The most important part is of course making good Puran, having the right consistency and perfect sweetness, not too much and not less either. It has to be soft yet firm for it to be rolled out between the dough.

Here I would like to add that the significance of Puran is not only limited to these delicacies but it also takes part in the actual pooja in the form of Aarti. Puranachi Aarti or Hurnadda Aarti is performed by making small diya shapes, out of the above prepared Puran. Batti/Vaath (wicks) soaked in pure ghee (clarified butter) are placed in these and lighted to form the Aarti. Once the Aarti is completed, this Puran is distributed as Prasad. The taste of this Puran prasad can only be described as divine because it is totally different from the normal puran because of the presence of the  burning wick on it.

 Puran Poli

Makes 8-10


For the filling (Puran)

  • 2 cups Chana Dal (Split Chickpea)
  • 1.5 - 2 cups grated Jaggery
  • 1 tsp Cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

For the Poli

  • 2 cups Maida (Plain Flour)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat Flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tsps oil


Pressure cook the dal . Drain and mash it very finely.

Put the dal to heat in a kadai. Add the grated Jaggery, cardamom powder and nutmeg and mix.

Continue to heat until all the water has dried and a homogenous mixture is obtained. Take care that the puran does not dry out completely otherwise it will be very difficult to roll it out. Make small balls of this puran, each one having about 1 1/2 tblsp of the puran.

Put a Tawa (griddle) to heat and divide the dough into equal large lemon sized balls. Roll out to Poori size and fill it with the puran and seal it from all sides just like that for a stuffed Parantha.

Place on a floured surface and carefully roll out into 2-3 cm thick Poli(roti/flatbread).

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Place this on the heated tawa. Cook till small bubbles start appearing, at this point flip the puran poli and let it cook on the other side. Drizzle some oil/ghee on the sides and take care not to tear the Puran Poli while flipping it. Cook well on both sides till brown spots/freckles appear and then remove.

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The most ideal way to have Puran Poli is with lots of Toop/Tuppa (Ghee) and some milk. In fact I have been told of functions & marriages where Puran Poli was served with bowls full of both Ghee & Milk! Although the amount of Ghee has considerably reduced since those times, the milk still holds good.

My favourite way to have Puran Poli is with just a tsp of Ghee,  a bowl full of Katachi Amthi / Kattina Saaru (recipe coming soon) and some coconut chutney on the side. Yes, I do have weird taste (read food combinations) when it comes to certain food items :) Go ahead and try this combination & let me know what you think!

Friday 2 January 2009

Back to blogging & the routine....

As is evident, I am back from my India after a hectic but great holiday, but it took me a while to get back to blogging. Call it writer's block or plain laziness (I would like to put it on the infamous jet lag!), I felt that I did not have anything to say at all. This despite the fact that I was surrounded by delicious food items during the whole of my stay there in India, courtesy the wedding. The best part about the whole thing and probably the major reason I am not readily writing about it is that I did not cook any of those. In fact I hardly went into the kitchen other than to refill my plate!

But now I am back to cooking and as a result back to blogging as well and it feels great to be writing again!

Since this comeback post marks the beginning of the new year, I can not help but look back on the year that has gone by. The year in which I started blogging, made new friends, interacted with people who share my passion for cooking, learnt a lot more than I had imagined and enjoyed the whole process immensely. Here I have to thank all of you who visited my blog frequently, left comments and suggestions and those precious words of encouragement.


I am filled with enthusiasm to share new recipes and to try out great ones from other blogs as well. I wish all of you  a great New Year!