Monday, 26 January 2015

Dhaaba Shtyle Rajma

Childhood in our sleepy lil hamlet of Alwal was made memorable by the yummy food my mom dished out,hungry after playing ,we would devour it all up in a jiffy.There was another sweet chef who fed us the most yummy punjaabi khaana ..left us wanting for more and more...Our dear Aunty...She was mom to our  best friends.
.For us ,she was a constant supply of yummilicious Punjabi khaana...starting from the masala chai to the kadhi to the plain dal to the.......Rajma.....I could kill for this dish...
I remember,I used to be thrilled when my mom and dad had to go out and  left us at Auntys home ,in my lil mind was the undying hope that aunty would have made rajma for lunch[please God please!!!]

Years later ,when I was pregnant with my second baby,I craved for rajma like never before...Unfortunately I was not able to have the rajma to my was never the same as aunty made..I have found myself searching for the perfect Rajma recipe ....never the familiar taste.

I chanced upon a recipe from the net and did my additions to that....and BAM!!!I had the perfect recipe....THE PERFECT RAJMA!!

My recipe asks for unsoaked kidney beans[rajma] 
If you wish you can soak and cook it .


Rajma 250gms
Onions -3 big sliced
Tomatoes-4 to 5 big sliced
Ginger -a small piece
Jeera-1/2 tsp

Turmeric powder-1/2 tsp
Chilly powder-2 or more tsp[depends on how spicy you want it to be]
Kitchen king Masala-1 and 1/2 tsp
Garam masala-two pinches[purely optional]

Garnish with coriander leaves

1.Cook the unsoaked rajma in a cooker [with enough water] for  10 to 12 whistles[if you add a pinch of baking soda,it gets cooked in 7 whistles,I read that info in thefoodofindia blog]
2.Take a kadhai and heat oil in it.Add jeera and let it splutter
3.Add the sliced onions ,ginger and garlic
4.Once the onions get transparent,add the masalas and saute
5.Add the chopped tomato and add salt.
6.Cook till mushy soft and well done.
7.Cool and grind to a paste
8.Mix this gorgeous paste to the cooked rajma ,add a cup of water[if needed] and check for seasonings.
9.Close the cooker and cook the rajma for another 2 whistles[or simply boil on medium flame for 20 mins...pressure cooker is easier ,na?]
10.Once the pressure has,add a spoon of ghee and chopped coriander

Resist as much as you can....the heady Rajma aroma,its silken texture and taste will get you ,once and for all :D

Serve hot with phulkas or with plain rice.....
Sheer blissssssssssssss.........

Monday, 22 September 2014

Sugar Cookies with royal icing
Hello peoples...been a long time.Have been busy and basically fighting attacks of laziness that lasts for more than 24 hours 
My lil girl has been after me to bake some cookies,and sugar cookies at that.Well seriously I wasnt in mood for cookies..but couldnt handlethe pouty face for more than 2 minutes...hence agreed.
Must say ,it was v.easy...the house smelt divine and the cookies got polished off[thankfully i halved the dough and kept one portion in the fridge  ..I got this amazing recipe from Pininterest, .
Am copy pasting the recipe as is....i made it just the way it has been explained.
3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, unsalted, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, large, lightly beaten
1 TBS milk
2 TBS powdered sugar
In a medium-sized bowl whisk together:
3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Using a stand mixer, whisk until creamed (light yellow in color):
1 cup butter, unsalted , softened
1 cup granulated sugar
Add to the butter mixture and whisk in:
1 egg, large , lightly beaten
1 TBS milk
Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, and beat until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
Divide the dough in half, wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Sprinkle surface where you will roll out the dough:
2 TBS powdered sugar
Remove one wrapped pack of dough from the refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick.
Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 mins. to chill.
Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment paper or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges.
Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to a cooling rack.
Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.
The Icing recipe is a mix from many sites.I jus added what I felt would work 
1 cup icing sugar
3 tsp milk [or more]
2 tsp corn syrup [or more]
mix all of these without lumps.divide and add food colour and essence if needed.
Ice designs on the cooled cookies.wait for it to set before you serve it.
Waiting to be iced

Anagha tries her hand at designing

blue n pink heart

aimless designs :)

the flower almost looks like a snowflake..dont you think?

made for Anaghas best froiend ,Wami.

Tada...happy baccha party 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Fly away Pickle :)

Holidays are here...summer heat is also here..though not very welcome,it does bring in its share of gifts. Apart from undesirable "gifts" like sunburn,prickly heat and sun stroke...,we do get to indulge in summer fruits..mangoes,watermelon...yumm.

I am in awe of people who pickle foods and use the yumminess later.Perfect way of preserving one seasons offerings right through the other seasons.

When a dear friend Mona ,asked me if I could pack some of the mango pickle for her to take back home to Muscat,I was surprised.I never felt I made top class pickles.
I was happy that my family loved the pickles and preserves I made ,to think that someone else would want to have some...was very flattering :)

Well,I decided to make a whole new lot of mango pickle for her.
I made a traditional avakkai pickle ,a famous pickle from Andhra Pradesh.
Bite size raw mango chunks sundried and then mixed with Sesame oil and red hot spices and condiments.

I sundried them once more after they were made,just to prevent any chances of moulding,lateron.

Had the pickle packed ,sealed and tagged[thanx to my super hubby ] a day before she arrived.

She was very pleased to see the bottle, I was the one having spicy regurgitations...What if she didnt like it?What if it was too spicy?too salty?..what if it leaked??????

Mona has taken her flight to Muscat and I am waiting with bated breath ...for a all clear !
Mona sweetly whatsapped that the pickle was a hit ..and thankfully no complains about leaks or breaks.

Mission accomplished!!Paaras Vignettes is official ..packed ,tagged and all.... :)
mango chunks with a coating of salt and turmeric 


Some spice added to the sundrying mango

Whole lot of spices and oil mixed in with a heavy dose of garlic

one more lot of sun cooking before being bottled 
all bottled and packed.

Paaras Vignettes all set to go abroad!!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Avial ...Ammas Recipe

Avial is a well known dish..this I learnt when Sanjeev Kapoor declared on some show, that Avial was one of his favorite dishes!!!
Frankly, all my childhood,I just crinkled up my nose when my amma made Avial..I just couldn't understand the "funda" of these adults who oohed and aahed with every bite of those vegetables.
When I shifted to hostel ,far far away from home,I yearned for these very vegetables and curries that amma so lovingly made. The "sorry -excuse -for -a -curry" that was served in hostel made all of us regret shunning the yummy home food,at one time or the other .

This fact of life, I try to knock into my kids heads,but in vain[I guess they take after their mom]

Ok Back to Avial....well,it was certainly not one of my favorite dishes ever,but when I came home on a short vacation once,amma had lovingly mixed up some avail and hot steaming rice with pappadams.I remember ,I had binged like there was no tomorrow...and that's when I realized ,how many avail lunches I had wasted!!

My mother and her mother spin stories around pretty much anything. Makes vacation completely worthwhile. This is a story that my grandmom told us.

When the Pandavas were in exile and were living in disguise, as simple poor brahmans. They went to Panchal kingdom for the Swayamvara of the princess.
The brahmans headed to seat themselves in the courtroom, while  Bheema, who was the "perpetually hungry one " went into the kitchen to check on the spread.

As my amma says, poor kid just tasted and checked on salt in all the dishes . The utensils were swiped clean...and the cooks and helpers in the kitchen started blaming Bheema .
He was irritated and just wanted to slip free from there. So he asked the helpers to get all the "leftover" stuff.
The helpers got pieces of different vegetables, leftover scraped coconut [the milk squeezed dry from it, for payasam], some pots of curd ....Bheema quickly cooked the vegetables after slicing them lengthwise, added the coconut and chillys after pounding them and then poured the curd ...he mixed it and poured a ladlefull of coconut oil... huffed, and left the kitchen .

When people were served this assorted vegetable curry, they did not even ask for sambar or any other curry. They kept asking for more of "this" curry.. It became a super hit. Finally one person asked, what is the name of this curry?? The brahman from the crowd said... "Bheeman Curry" [this is time when amma smiles her best smile :D]And thus was born..Avial.

This story has worked with my son. He was made to believe that avial has the magical powers of Bheema.By the time he realized that he was being tricked,he grew to love the curry :)

There are many recipes of avial. My mom in law makes a terrific avial, in which she  incorporates ,raw mango is yummilicious. Will post her recipe in a bit. I will today post the recipe of the avial I shunned and then loved !! My ammas recipe.The Bheeman curry :)

1.Vegetables that can be used are
  • Ash Gourd/Bhopla/Kumbalengya/Safed kaddu
  • Pumpkin
  • Raw banana
  • String Beans
  • Suran/Jimikand/Elephant foot yam
  • Snake Gourd
  • Tindora/Tindli/Ivy Gourd or Gherkins
  • Cucumber

2.The ground paste that forms the base of the curry
   Half a coconut grated
   5 to 6 green chilly

3.Thick yogurt-beaten nice.

5.Salt to taste
6.Coconut oil
7.Curry leaves


Cut all the vegetables in long strips.,and cook together with some turmeric and salt and very little water.
Grind together the grated coconut and green chilly[add more chilly if you like the heat]
Mix the ground coconut and the yogurt.
Add it to the cooked vegetables .Mix well.take off heat[don't allow it to boil]
Pour a generous amount of coconut oil and bruised curry leaves.
Serve with hot rice ,pappadams and enjoy the Bheeman Curry...

One Picture minus the flash :)

Sunday, 6 April 2014

As Promised ,Weekend Mutton Curry and Vegetable Pulao-Amma Special :)

Today my house smells like the weekends of my childhood. I am not really sure if I am feeling nostalgic or am feeling proud of having recreated the magic..with full help from my amma [via phone :) ]

When I called amma for help,she was so anxious.She

kept telling me that she hadn't cooked this in a decade and would not remember the recipe.I insisted and slowly but surely ,flowed the recipe ...hihih.

At first ,she wasn't sure of the mutton curry ,she wasn't sure of the pulao..and added insult to injury by saying..You are a far better cook that I am,why do you want the old recipe?Are you kidding me??When will she ever understand what her food did to us? Bah!

Well, the best combination according to me ,is Mutton curry,Pulao and Raita...achar ,pappad etc are added luxuries..but can be very well managed without.

So here goes...


Mutton -1 kg
Onions-3 large,sliced
Tomato-2 large ground and 1 medium chopped
Green Chilly-4+2 for garnish
Ginger garlic paste-1 tbsp.
Turmeric powder-1 tsp
Yogurt-6 tbsp.[4 for marination and 2 for cooking]

Dry roast all the ingredients and powder coarsely.keep aside.
5 cloves,
1 inch pc of cinnamon,
1 tsp. pepper ,
Cardamom 3,
Sesame seeds 1tbsp. ,
poppy seeds -1 tbsp.[I did not have poppy,so managed without it]
 cumin 1 tsp 
9 to 10 red chillies and
1 tbsp. of coriander seeds

For garnish
Chopped coriander leaves
Mint leaves
Geen chilly slit
Juliennes of ginger

Marinate the mutton in 4 tbsp. of yogurt,chilly powder ,salt and a few springs of mint leaves.Keep aside for 1/2 and hour.

Heat oil in a wok and toss in the onion slices with a pinch of salt.
Saute till the onions take a golden hue. Add the ginger garlic paste and green chillies.Once done,take it off heat ,cool and grind .

Take a little oil in a pressure cooker or a heavy bottomed wok.
splutter some cumin and ad the ground onion paste.Saute the paste ,add the ground masala powder and turmeric and saute well.
Add the ground and chopped tomato and saute well.
Add 2 tbsp. of yogurt and saute till oil separates.
Add the marinated mutton and mix well.Fry for 2 minutes and then add 1 cup of water.
Check for salt,cover and cook on medium low flame [with occasional stirring ] till the meat is done.

Alternatively, the meat can be pressure cooked for 6 whistles..i prefer the slow cooking method ,but when you are pressed for time,try the pressure cooker method.

Once done,garnish the curry with slit chilly ,julienned ginger ,coriander leaves and mint leaves.

Juliennes of ginger and green chilly for extra spice :)

Basmati rice-2 cups

Cinnmon-1 inch pc
Star anise-1
Cumin-1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste-1 tsp
Onion -1
Saumf[fennel seeds] 1tsp
Tomato-1 sliced
Turmeric powder-1 tsp

Carrots,Peas, Potatoes,Beans ,Capsicum

for Garnishing
Cashews,Raisins and Bread Croutons


Heat 2 tbsp. of ghee and fry on low flame, Cloves ,Cumin ,Cinnamon ,Cardamom ,Star Anise ,Ginger garlic paste ,Saumf[fennel] Onions .Cool and grind this masala.

Now in a pressure cooked, heat very little ghee and add the ground masala paste.saute .
Add turmeric and the vegetables and tomato.
Saute well.
Add the washed and drained rice and fry for a minute.
Add 4 cups of hot water[ 2 cups of water for every cup of rice]
Add salt and pressure cook for 2 whistles.
Before serving, we can garnish with friend Cashew, Raisins and Bread croutons.[As my family doesn't like fried nuts of dry fruit with pulao,I just added the bread croutons...they are my ammas touch :)]

Serve the Pulao with Mutton curry and a simple raita [Chop onions,tomatoes,green chillies and chopped coriander leaves.Add with salt to beaten curd..chill and serve]
The bread croutons add a crunch to the pulao

Friday, 4 April 2014

Poola kizhangu Malagushiyam {Spicy Tapioca Curry}

Doesnt that exhaustive name make you feel like,it should be worth it?Well,you are in for luck ;) ...its completely worth the toiling you do to pronounce the name !

Tapioca is  native to Northern Brazil but is spread throughout the South American continent. The plant was spread by Portuguese and Spanish explorers ,to most of the world ,including Gods own country.

There is a story that did rounds when I was in my school.My friends who also hail from Kerala told me a funny ,yet believable[remember I was still in school..naive levels are pretty high then!!] story.How did tapioca get that musical name ??
Apparently ,there was a woman who was uprooting kappa/poola from the ground ,when a Sayip [Britisher] came by.
He asked her "What is this " .
She answered in malayalam[ofcourse] "Thappi nokuaa" [which meant I am looking for hidden roots] 
He returned a happy man,satisfied that he got the name of that amazing root..Tapi-o-caa.
Isnt that the most believable story ,ever????

Contrary to my favorite story ,the name tapioca is derived from the word tipi'óka, the name for this starch in the Tupí language, which was spoken by the natives when the Portuguese first arrived in the Northeast of Brazil.[wikipedia to the rescue ]

Little did the Portuguese realize that this starchy root will one day become the staple to Gods own people :) ...the combinations that Malayalees have developed with this humble root are amazing.

The most favorite one is Kappa/Poola kizhangu with Meen curry.Simple cooked tapioca with a fiery fish curry.The burst of flavours is unimaginable .You have to eat it to believe it .

The recipe that I am posting is a simple curry no frills..just plain curry with the tempting aroma of curry leaves and coconut oil.

This Malagushiyam is a staple in our part of Kerala.Its light on the tummy,satisfying and tasty.There is a way to peel tapioca. The brown woody cover has to be removed,also the pinkish skin laying under the brown layer has to be peeled off...Only the white milky part of the root is to be cooked.People keep the fibrous almost twine like vein of the root or take it off as per personal preference.I keep the vein :)

So here goes..

Tapioca/Kappa/Poola kizhangu-1kg[peeled,cut into bite size pieces and washed well]
Chilly Powder-as per taste or 2 to 3 tsp
Turmeric Powder-1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Curry leaves and Coconut oil for seasoning


Put the cut tapioca,chilly and turmeric powders ,salt and water just a little more than the level of the tapioca[to cover it and a little more] .we dont want the gravy too watery.
Pressure cook for 2 whistles .Take off heat.
Once the pressure settles down,open and mash a few pieces to get a yummy thicker gravy.
Adjust salt.
Now add a few springs of curry leaves and a generous splash of coconut oil.I use virgin coconut oil..and the aroma makes me go "Coconuts"!!
Serve hot or cold with rice ,chapathi ,puri,idli ,dosa and even puttu....

The aroma of the curry leaves and coconut oil is heady!

The coconut oil I use

How do I look ? ;)

Ready to be served

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Chicken Meat Loaf

Meat loaf ..this word first came across to me as a possible description of a Meaty looking Loafy person ;) ..well I was such an uninitiated person and thankfully I did not mouth my imagination to the sweet person who mentioned it to me .
She then saw the lost expression on my face and offered me a sliver of the meat loaf she got from the shop.
I absolutely loved it,but found it a little high on salt .

This was my 1st ever meat loaf ...I liked it ,but thought it could be better.

Its been many years since then ,and I have made many a meat loaves..and I have tried many mixes and found each one great!
Chicken loaf is the best ,by far...and my family agrees.I find it easier to cook,chew ;) and digest!

The thing with chicken loaf is ,that all I  need to do is make the mix and stack it up in the freezer and pop it into the oven when I feel lazy to cook a full dinner/lunch.
It goes so well with breads ,as a side dish to flavored rice and is plain yummy as a meal in itself. 

I like to keep a stock of either cooked or yet to be cooked loaves ,as the hungry mouths I have in my house are unpredictable at all times.
The cooked ones dont stay for a long the hungry mouths come with little hands and fingers  as an attachment and at one point or the other,they reach for the loaf!!!

My recipe for the loaf is not traditional at all and it changes with what ingredients I have on hand.

So here goes..

Chicken Meat loaf

Chicken mince 1 kg
Eggs -------------2
Bread powdered-4 slices
Onions diced or grated-2 
Garlic-minced -2 big cloves
Pepper- to taste
Tomato sauce-1/4cup [or my homemade ketchup]
Mustard or Kasundi [thats my touch ;)]-3 tsp or more
Chilli flakes or powder-to taste
Oregano+Basil+Rosemary Mix-1 tbsp[or just a big spoon of ready made Pizza masala]
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 deg
Mix all the ingredients together and check for seasonings.
Put into a greased loaf tin and brush a thick layer of tomato sauce or my homemade ketchup homemade ketchup over the loaf.
Bake at 180 deg for 1 and 15 mins[check on the loaf from 1 hour onward.It is done and ready to go,when a skewer or toothpick poked into the middle of the loaf comes clean]
Let the loaf rest for 5 to 10 mins ,before slicing the yummy loaf!!

Make pretty sandwiches with chicken loaf slices ,mayonaise,mustard,sauce and veggies.

P.S-The Loaf can be made even more interesting by adding chopped capsicum , jalapeno peppers ,boiled egg[grated] etc .