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!