Wednesday 15 September 2010

Parippu Vadai from a Diverse Kitchen

Aparna’s blog, A Diverse Kitchen, has been a constant source of inspiration. For me, its the best example of a food blog which successfully combines traditional and western recipes. If you have to decide the ‘category’ of this blog by going through the recipe index, its a tough job. The main reason being the wide variety of recipes you will find here. The blog totally lives up to the name and is indeed very diverse. It is the chosen blog for this month’s T & T event  being hosted by Srivalli at Cooking 4 all seasons.

I made these Parippu Vadai from Aparna’s blog and couldnt have found a simpler traditional palakkad iyer recipe, which goes a long way. They can be an accompaniment to the main meal or treated as snacks. Whats more, since they do not have any onions or garlic in them, they can be included in the Naivedya Thali too. I followed the exact recipe but I am giving it here anyway for easy reference.


Parippu Vadai (Spicy Lentil fritters)

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  • 1 cup Chana Dal (split Bengal Gram)
  • 2 tblsp Toor dal (
  • a pinch of Hing (Asafoetida)
  • 6-7 Curry Leaves
  • 1-2 Dried red chillies (depending on how spicy you want it & how hot the chillies are)
  • Salt
  • Oil for deep frying


Soak both the dals together for about an hour.

Once ready, grind together all the ingredients except the oil into a thick coarse paste using as little water as possible. The ideal would be to use no water at all. Aparna suggests reserving some dal before grinding and then adding it later on to the paste.

Heat the oil in a kadai. Now shape the vada using your fingers – flatten the mixture using your thumb & fingers and gently slide them into the hot oil. Fry them at a medium low flame until they are crisp and start to brown.

Drain them on a kitchen towel and serve hot.

My Notes: The Vadas were crispy and really tasty. I was wondering how they will taste with only red chillies and no other spices. But that was enough and the Hing adds its own flavour.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

A Sweet Punch thats Savoury – Golden Onion Quiche

To be very honest, I am not a Quiche person at all. The main reason being that I dont eat eggs, not in their usual form at least. I only tolerate them in cakes, muffins, cookies etc. Apart from that I am not at all comfortable with eggs, mainly because of the smell. That may explain why I am buying Vanilla essence every other week. I add it to recipes that dont call for it but have eggs in it, just to neutralise the smell.

Having said that, I have always wanted to try making a quiche because it requires some skills to get the pastry right & also to get the filling set to the right consistency. Its always good to challenge yourself even though you know you are not even going to touch the final product, right? But again, this is not my first attempt and the reason this blog hasn't heard about my earlier attempt is that it was a miserable failure to say the least. I think I went wrong at the basic – the pastry and then went on to mess up the filling as well. So the end result was a patchy & cracked pastry case with a runny, curdled and horrible looking filling. That put me off Quiche even more.

But since I had decided to try my best to complete all the Sweet Punch challenges, I had to give this one a go, if only to see if I had it in me to get it right. And I did get it right and was very pleased with the result. So much so that I could not resist eating a slice, although my original plan was only to feed GM :)

The recipe was quite straight forward and simple. I used red & green peppers along with Onions for the filling and also reduced the quantity of eggs to 2 for the filling. Apart from this, I also blind baked my pastry before filling it & baking it again. It was my opinion the last time I made quiche, that I failed because the pastry wasn't cooked properly so this time I decided to cook it before putting the filling. For more details please read the below recipe.

Golden Onion Quiche

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For the pastry

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 100 gm Butter, chilled (I used salted and skipped the salt in the recipe)
  • Cold water as reqd ( approx 1-2 tblsp)

For the filling

  • 1 tblsp Olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 each of green & red pepper, diced
  • 100 gm Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt & pepper

Method: Pre heat the oven to 200 deg C. Have 8/9 “ round tin ready.

Sieve the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add the chilled butter and mix/ rub to get a breadcrumb consistency. I did this using a fork and rubbing the butter into the flour. This works really well because you avoid touching the butter which in turn ensures that the butter stays chilled.

Now add the egg and bring together the dough using as little water as possible.

Flour the work surface and roll out the dough to a thickness of approx 1 inch and enough for the tin.

Now line the tin with the rolled out dough such that it fills it completely and also covers the edges. Press lightly at the corners and secure.

Now to blind bake, cover the surface with baking paper or foil. Place some baking beans or any beans or even raw rice. This is done so that the pastry doesn't rise & puff up and is baked evenly.

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Red Kidney Beans for blind baking                 All baked & ready for the filling now

Slide this into the pre heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until it starts to turn light brown. Once done, remove from oven, take off the beans and the baking paper. Let it cool for 2-3 minutes before proceeding with the filling.

While the pastry is being baked, heat the oil in a pan for the filling. Once hot, sauté the onions till they turn golden brown and then add in the diced peppers. Cook for another 3-4 minutes and turn off the heat.

Transfer this into a bowl and add the milk, cheese, egg and season with salt and pepper.

When the pastry is ready, fill this mixture into the pastry up to the brim and then bake in the oven again for 20-25 minutes or until set, firm and golden on the top.

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Enjoy warm.

My Notes: I did have a little bit of the filling left although I made a small quiche in a mini pan as well. So the quantity of milk can be reduced to 3/4 of a cup, I think.

As mentioned earlier the end result was superb. Will I make it again? Definitely! Will I start eating Quiches more frequently? Maybe. I would like to try some more flavour combinations before I have a definite answer for the last question. I have to find something which might mask the strong smell/taste of the eggs. Any suggestions?

Friday 3 September 2010

Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup

I admit I said the break was going to be only for a week but here I am, after more than a month. I did come back from the holiday in a week but have been running around to sort out a lot of things, hence the delayed break on the blog front. I missed a couple of events which I try to participate every month. And the most important thing is that my unread folder in the reader is over flowing with all your lovely posts!

As for the holiday it was great & a much needed break from the routine. We went to Cornwall for a week and stayed in a chalet with another family. The weather did try to dampen our spirits (literally!) but we managed to have fun anyway. Here are a few pictures.

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Another significant part of this holiday was that for the first time we did all the cooking while there. It was fun and a great experience rushing to make something while getting the kids ready to go out. Especially since it was our first experience with a hot plate. I have a new found respect for all those who manage to cook on a hot plate every day and manage to dish out perfect rice, gravies etc, basically anything! Even making simple tea took 2-3 attempts for us to get used to it.

Although I have been cooking regularly, I havent made anything new or that is not already on this blog but I did have this recipe waiting in the drafts folder, so I am finally posting it.

As I have mentioned earlier, Soup for a long time only meant Tomato soup and an unadulterated one at that. I did not want to add anything to it for fear of ‘ruining’ (altering actually) the taste. I did try some canned versions and even managed to finish my portion most of the times but I was still not convinced. That is until I tried the roasted red pepper version.

Red peppers have a special place in my fridge, the rule is there should always be at least one red pepper in the fridge to be used whenever the need arrives. And it is needed every 2 days usually. Apart from adding them to stir fries, Fried rice etc, we also like to have a simple sandwich with houmus (also spelt as hummus) and roasted red pepper. The best use is of course in this soup which is so simple to make that it leaves you doubtful about the way it will turn out. But it is super delicious and a great change from the regular Tomato Soup while giving you the same satisfaction.


Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup

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Serves 2


  • 3 Red Peppers
  • 3 Medium sized tomatoes
  • 1 tblsp Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Crushed Red Chilli
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Salt & Pepper


Roasting the red peppers:

a) The red peppers can be roasted directly on the flame on your gas, in which case keep turning them to cover each area and roast them till the skin chars (turns black) and starts to loosen. This method gives a firmer result as in it is easier to handle the peppers. Just wait for them to cool down, then peel the skin, which comes off easily and then chop them coarsely.

b) The other method is to use the oven. Pre heat the oven to 220 deg C on the grill setting. Lightly grease the Peppers and place them on an oven tray as close to the heating coil as possible. Remember to keep the oven door open for the grill to work. Keep turning the peppers to get the skin charred throughout. This does take a bit more time than the earlier method but you are free to do any thing else while the oven is on. Once the peppers are roasted thoroughly, remove them into a box and close the lid or use a zip lock bag. Wait for them to cool down and all the juices to collect. Peel the skin, chop coarsely and retain the juices.

To prepare the tomatoes, bring a saucepan full of water to boil and immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water for a minute or two. Take them out when you see the skin cracking. Allow them to cool and then peel them and chop coarsely.

To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a deep pan. Add the chopped onion and garlic and fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add the crushed red chilli, the tomatoes and the Red Peppers along with the retained juices.

Add the smoked Paprika and season with salt & pepper. Add about 2 cups of water and bring it to boil. Then simmer for about 10-12 minutes until the soup has reduced a bit. This simmering will bring out the flavour in the tomatoes. The time depends upon the consistency that you want. We like the soup to be quite thick so I wait until almost all the water has reduced.

Switch off the heat and wait for it to cool down. Then blend the mixture, I use a hand blender.

Once ready to serve, heat through and adjust the seasoning.

My Notes: As simple to make as it is, it tastes way better than the canned ones. You can do the roasting part a day in advance and keep the roasted, peeled peppers in the fridge and use them the next day, which makes it even quicker to make. 


Souper Sundays2


This Soup is off to Souper Sundays being held every week at Kahakai Kitchen, where Salads & Sandwiches keep company too!