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Five of many things about me!

1) I have had wonky teeth almost all my life. Only when I realised that I was nearing 30(I turned 30 this year, so please don’t think I am very old) I decided to fix my teeth. I am glad I did because I see many people smiling at me these days.

2) As much as I love cooking and feeding my loved ones, I also love being fed and taken out to eat. Be it for a posh night out at a fine dining place or a greasy Takeaway or a child friendly Italian, my gluttony is a sight of embarrassment everywhere.

3) I sort of hate low-fat versions of anything. Except maybe double cream. Because I am a believer. I would rather eat a small portion of the proper malai kulfi than a big cup of a low fat one. I like to reduce portions than substitute. But what I haven’t understood yet is how small should it be really ūüôą

4) I am not skinny. I don’t wish to either. I think I like the way I am. Just about average is what I am. Although, I may not be as proud when it comes to my mind. Ha, I go mental about some really silly things and I have very weird OCDs. So, overall, an average looking person with a birdbrain.

5) I don’t eat chocolates! Maybe once or twice a year.That’s all.

As a matter of fact, I am glad you made it this far to know about me. So, I leave you with an interesting recipe as a reward for taking your time to read until this point.

It’s sort of a challenge to come up with ideas to cook sprouts differently. One could simply throw them in a salad or make a curry. I have tried making sprouts sandwiches too. They are mighty good. But one Sunday, when I decided to fry¬†pooris for lunch, I also had some leftover sprouts in fridge. And there you go, this dish was born. All I did was slightly cook the sprouts with salt, turmeric and chilli flakes. Next, let it cool and stuffed them into pooris. It was a little tricky at first but as it cooled even more, it became a lot easier to roll and fry. So, the next time you make pooris, try stuffing them with these humble mung beans for a lovely change. I don’t have step by step pictures but I will try to update the post when I make it the next time.


I served it with tadka dal and khatti meeti aloo(sweet and sour). Perfect Recipe to help you get your Sunday nap in order.

 

Featured Image source: Google 

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Really simple yet healthy south Indian breakfast ideas!

I have to admit that ever since I started to cook on my own, I may have not given breakfasts much of an importance for a very long time.Thankfully, years ago, I realised I shouldn’t skip breakfast. But ¬†after I became a mother, I realised I should only make it more healthier than other meals. And here I am with a quick roundup of some healthy Indian breakfast ideas. Although these recipes need a little bit of pre-prep the previous night, they are all family friendly recipes which makes it ideal for busy mornings.

  1. Brown rice Set dosa 

Ingredients: 

Brown rice – 1.5 cups , Idli Rice – 1/2 cup , Aval/Poha/Rice Flakes-White or red(I have used red)- 3/4 th cup, Urad dal-1/2 cup Fenugreek seeds– One teaspoon, Salt– to taste

Soak the brown rice and fenugreek seeds for a minimum of 4 hours. The rest of the ingredients can be soaked for an hour or so. Grind all together in a mixer/blender to a smooth batter. The batter should be slightly on the thicker side after grinding. Add salt and mix well. Leave to ferment overnight. Once fermented, if the batter looks very thick, you could add some water to adjust the consistency.The batter should be light and you should be able to pour it quite easily onto the tawa/pan. And try not to spread it too much like normal dosas. You should be able to see those little holes forming as soon as you pour a ladle of batter. And cook like normal dosa and serve with any side dish of your choice.

2. Samba Godhuma Rava idly/Wheat Idli/Lapsi Idli 

Ingredients :

Lapsi/Plain godhuma Rava/Wheat Rava/Samba Rava– 3 Cups, Urad dal– Just over one cup , Red rice flakes– A big spoonful, Salt– to taste

Soak Urad dal and Red rice flakes for an hour. Soak the Wheat rava for half hour. Grind the urad dal and red rice flaked to a smooth and fluffy batter and squeeze out as much water as you can from the wheat granules. Add half the quantity to the blender/grinder and grind til smooth. Add this ground wheat paste, rest of the whole wheat granules directly to the ground urad dal and red rice flakes. Add salt and mix well. Leave to ferment overnight. You will be able to make spongy idlies for breakfast. Serve with any side dish of your choice.

The reason why only half the wheat rava is ground and added is to get that coarse texture for idli. If you want, you can either add the soaked wheat rava directly to ground urad dal or you can just roughly grind and then add. The ground batter will look like this.

3. Ragi red Rice dosa with Moringa/Drumstick Leaves

Ingredients: 

Ragi flour/ finger millet flour– 2.5 cups , Red raw rice flour-1/2 cup, Urad dal– 1/2 cup, Fenugreek seeds-1 teaspoon , Salt– to taste

Moringa/Murungakeerai/Drumstick leaves– As preferred

Soak fenugreek seeds for a minimum of 2 hours. Soak Urad dal for atleast 20-30 minutes. Grind Urad dal and fenugreek to a smooth paste and mix in the flours and add salt. Mix well and leave to ferment overnight.

Just before you make the dosas, clean and wash the drumstick leaves and add them to the batter and make dosas as you would normally do.

4. Mung dal dosa /Mung beans Dosa

Ingredients: 

Green Mung beans/whole moong dal/Pachai Payaru– 2 cups, Idli rice or raw rice– 1/2 cup, salt to taste.

This dosa is also known as pesarettu although pesarettu is a little more prettier looking than my version.

Soak the dal and rice together overnight. Grind them together with salt to a smooth batter in the morning. This batter need not ferment. You can make dosas immediately. Optional ingredients to add to the batter are cumin seeds, shallots, green chillies and minced ginger. Serve with chutney of your choice.

5. Turmeric Idlis

Ingredients : 

To the normal rice idli batter, add a tablespoon of turmeric powder before you steam the idlies. Mix well and then pour it onto idli moulds. This is one of those simple ways to include more turmeric in your diet.

6. Jowar/Sorghum Dosa 

Ingredients : 

Sorghum/Jowar/Cholam flour– 2 cups, Idli rice or Raw rice – 1/2 cup, Fenugreek seeds– one teaspoon, Urad dal-1/2 cup Salt– to taste

Soak Idli rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds for a minimum of two hours. Grind to a smooth batter and add the sorghum flour to the ground batter. Add salt. Mix well and add water if necessary to bring to a dosa batter consistency. Leave to ferment overnight. And make these dosas like your regular dosa and serve with side dish of your choice.

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Smoothie series #4 Popeye smoothie

Quinoa, brown rice, wholegrain breads, millets, leafy salads, beets and fruits! Oh how I wish I only ate what I just said above. Someday I am hoping to eat these regularly. Until then, I will only keep liking pictures on Instagram and make some healthy smoothies occasionally. So here is the next one called the Popeye Smoothie! 

It has a good amount of spinach to keep you charged through the morning. I have been told most greens are best to have for breakfast but I hardly follow this rule because I am most of the time just plodding along to get the breakfast done rather than think about making it healthier. But I am getting there slowly and I will hopefully make many more super healthy breakfasts.

 

A handful of spinach – I used organic baby spinach 

One banana 

Milk 

Pistachios or any nuts of your choice 

Simply blend it all together and sprinkle any seeds of your choice or you may just drink it as such. This time I added a scoop of pistachio protein powder because the husband requested for it. And it was delicious anyhow! So feel free to mix and match. But spinach seems to go very well with bananas for some reason. 

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From farm to plate(About my parents farm)

When I was little, I didn’t think I would ever learn to cook. I thought cooking was one of those menial tasks and it involved no amount of fun. Maybe because our¬†mother never let us help her much. The best she wanted from us was that we helped her decide what to¬†eat¬†and that we finished what was served. But, as I got older and a little wiser if I may say so, I started to realise that there was¬†more to cooking¬†than merely chopping and mixing.

Have you ever stopped for a moment and thought about where the tomatoes or spinach that you eat came from? No no, I am not that kind of a person who grows her own vegetables and eats only from her own garden. But I am the kind that likes to go pick stuff from the farm preferably or to the least from the market. I find it comforting. I am a little more independent here¬†in London than in Chennai, so I end up buying way too much and often times from very expensive organic shops. I do this with a slight hope of avoiding those greasy takeaways that we do every now and then. Buying too many vegetables is one way of making sure that i almost never want to waste any of it and less of hearing that ” we have eaten out so much this week and we should be spending less bla bla” from the husband. But only the one who cooks can understand the emotions¬†of another isn’t it??? So,When I do cook, I try to use the best possible ingredients.I don’t make what I made the¬†day before or sometimes even a week before. I love food cooked with different coloured vegetables and a reasonable amount of flavour. Apart from trying to make it healthy,I do¬†all of the above¬†to earn that well deserved break from cooking. So when we eat out, I feel a little less guilty.

But here comes the best bit, I am actually very pleased to tell you that my parents own a small farm in Chennai which is a few miles away from our home. And ever so often we get some lovely greens and other vegetables delivered to our house. What a blessing!!! And every time my mother tells me on the phone that she cooked some really delicious stuff using our own farm fresh produce, I would feel so jealous. The last time while I visited home, I was lucky enough to have tasted lots of food made with vegetables from the farm. And needless to say, today I am a bit nostalgic and missing all the food and fun.

Here are some pictures of the produce from the farm which I clicked last year.

 

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The white long ones are Banana Stems which make for an amazing South Indian Style Kootu/Lentil coconut gravy.

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Raw Bananas, Guavas and Vazhapoo(Banana Stem flower)_MG_6981

Musmusukai Keerai(Mukia maderaspatana)

Usually served in the form of Kootu(Curry with lentils and coconut)

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Agathi keerai(Sesbania Grandiflora)

Usually served as Kootu or a dry stir fry with Toor dal and coconut

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Manathakkali Keerai (Solanum Nigrum)

Usually served as Kootu or a chutney

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Helpers around the farm and the house_MG_6993

The bunch of leaves below the Banana Stem flower is Murungai Keerai (Drumstick leaves). This is a very tasty one and usually cooked in Sambar or added to dosais and adais. 

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Banana stem flower (Best had as Kootu or a Vadai(Dumpling)_MG_6997

 

Agathi Poo (My mother made an amazing thokku(Pickle) with this flower and it was out of the world.  I will find a picture of this pickle and post it sometime soon. _MG_6998

 

The little black beauties in the picture above are fresh manathakkalis/black night shades/sunberry. These berries are sun dried and added to kara kuzhambu(a spicy tamarind based curry).

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I hope you enjoyed this postūüôā

 

Smoothie series #3 Papaya, Dates& Seed mix Smoothie

I am not going to lie by saying I was so busy and I couldn’t post any smoothie recipes after the first two. I have only been eating some proper finger licking south Indian breakfast all this while on most days because the mother was here. So, it was clearly a well thought through decision to only make healthy smoothies once a week when family visits you. And get pampered for the rest of the days. Now, the family is back to good ol’ Madras and the three of us are back to the grind. Which means, I will be trying very hard to eat healthy and end up getting stressed only to gobble up cheesy potato wedges with Jalapenos and almost half of the medium(sometimes large) pizza which the husband lovingly orders to cool me down. Oh well! So,while I am still in the mood for a smoothie for breakfast, here is the next one.


To make this you will need : 

Fresh Ripe papaya- roughly cut to one cup

Two pitted dates 

A sprinkle of sunflower seeds and any other seeds of your choice. 

Milk or yoghurt of your choice 

First crush the seeds in the blender and then add fruit and milk. Blend altogether once and enjoy. 

Chickpea Raita/Dip

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It has been a long week for various reasons. But that doesn’t mean we ate¬†boring¬†meals. Chickpeas are much loved in our house and after making a little batch of sundal(spiced chickpeas)the other day , We had some leftover Chickpeas/Channa and so I¬†decided to quickly whip up a dip. This was made to go with a simple Wheat Upma which would’ve tasted rather bland without any side. Upma is usually had with chutneys,pickles or Sambar. But this combination brought a lovely change.

I will get straight down to the recipe.

A Cup of Chickpeas

Chopped onions -1 

One Green chilly

Coriander leaves

Salt

Turmeric

Coconut powder or finely grated coconut 

Cumin powder

For the seasoning- Mustard seeds and some oil

Heat up some oil, add mustard seeds, green chilly and onions. Lightly saute onions and then add cooked chickpeas, salt and turmeric. Give a good mix and add coconut powder and coriander leaves and switch off the flame immediately to avoid burning coconut.

Beat yoghurt till smooth and add the above mixture and sprinkle some cumin powder on top for that earthy flavour to come through.

I am quite sure this dip would go well with vermicelli upma or biryani as well although I am yet to try it myself.

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Smoothie Trails #2 The very Berry Smoothie! 

Sometimes, when words are not enough to explain how one feels, there is always food. Food is also a form of a love. Atleast to me it is. I think it’s my duty to make good food regardless what we have been through the day. Because good food comforts you. But it is also my duty to make food that not only comforts the soul but also nourishes the body. And I am on a hunt to find recipes that can give you that instant gratification yet not increase your waist size. I may or may not end up finding many such recipes but for now, I am going to do my best and blend it all away to make smoothies. 

Here I present to you, the Very Berry Smoothie that may not give you an instant kick like a Oreo milkshake  but it surely is going to some good for the body. 

Here’s what you need : 

Mixed berries – I used fresh raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. More of blueberries as we are a little partial to those little beauties. 

Milk or yoghurt – your favourite kind 

Oats or granola- you can skip this if you want to have a light drink. This time I chose to add some granola with raisins for a little bit of sweetness as berries are mostly tart. 

A spoon of Dark Cocoa powder – optional 

I also added a scoop of whey protein for my husband. But I would’ve preferred it without. 

Blend it all together till you reach a smoothie like consistency and there you have it. 


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Smoothie Trails #1 Banana Flaxseeds and Vanilla

I am kickstarting a new series called the “Smoothie Trails” on the blog. This series will feature some( I am aiming for 5-10 atleast) easy and healthy smoothie recipes to start your day on the right note. This is my attempt in spreading the word on eating well. All of these recipe ideas will use simple ingredients but most importantly fresh ones. You can also easily tweak any ingredients to make it just the way you would like it. Let’s get started with the first recipe that uses everyone’s favourite Bananas.

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To make this smoothie : 

Banana- 1 medium sized ripe

Any Milk of your choice or Greek Yoghurt

Vanilla pods or extract

Flaxseed powder – A spoon

Granola bites or Oatmeal to give you more fiber.

Blend all ingredients except the flaxseed powder to a thick puree. And sprinkle some flaxseed powder on top and there you have it.

 

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Some television talk and a healthy recipe ūüėĀ

First of all, I am not a TV person. I don’t remember the last time I sat down on the couch to watch some tele on my own. Not because I am so busy but it is just not my thing. Pah! What a boring wife/friend do I make of myself!

My way of relaxing is to lie down and browse for recipes after I have had a glass of good wine. When it comes to a drama or a sitcom, I hardly have any patience to begin with. But there have been a few shows which I really loved watching. Downton Abbey will remain my most favourite ever. I also liked watching Gavin and Stacey, Only fools and Horses and some episodes of IT crowd. Okay, they are all British because I am a little biased towards the English when it comes to humour, cakes and manners.

We now find a little time to watch our favourite shows after the man-cub goes to bed, but the challenge now is choosing which one to watch. So, every time my husband and I decide to watch, we spend way too much time on choosing than actually watching. This is one of those things like “where do we eat out” dilemma. But there are always exceptions. So, we do manage to find shows that interest both of us such as the ones I said above. But 99 times of 100 , we are on opposite poles and choose what each other won’t enjoy. So, one such show that I watched recently which I knew he wouldn’t enjoy is an American TV show called Grace and Frankie. It was surprisingly a delightful watch. I am now moving onto Season 2 which was released earlier this month. This is available on Netflix if you want to watch too. I am not great at reviewing TV shows as I don’t watch a lot but all I can say is if you are looking for something rather warm yet funny, then you might give this a try.

But before you do that, you may also check out my recipe for a delicious side. Perfect for munching on while you Grace and Frankie.

Oven baked Sweet Potato fries:

Step 1 : Cut Sweet potatoes lengthwise. Put them in a food bag, add salt, paprika and Olive oil. Shake the bag to coat evenly.You could leave for about 20 minutes before you bake. (Might be a good idea to turn the oven on now for preheating)

Step 2 : Arrange them on a baking tray. Make sure you use a cooking spray or some sort of oil to avoid sticking. And another tip I learnt is to separate each of these sticks so they don’t stick together and become mushy.

Step 3: Bake in a preheated oven at 190-200 degree celsius until they start to look like friesūüôā

Serve on its own or with any sauce of your choice although my favourite is Sweet chilli.

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A Mangooooeey fudge recipe.

Is your mother one of those generous souls who never knows to cook in small quantities? Mine for sure doesn’t know. The other day when we were on the phone chatting, my mother had told me she was busy all day as her dearest sister visited her after long. I knew she must have cooked a lot and spent the day gossiping and also exchanging recipes etc etc etc. My auntie is no less when it comes to cooking. She cooks well and cooks a lot of food each meal. These two ladies can happily spend their time watching tele, shopping and what not. Simply because they have a lot of house helpers and they can afford to be served each meal. So much so that I do feel very jealous at times. But despite all the help, they  choose to cook each meal only taking very little help from the maids. They find so much pleasure and happiness in cooking for others. Be it for the men of the house or for maids, the food is the same. And needless to say, the food is way too delicious when it is cooked with so much love. I have seen my mum make dosas after dosas for her maid and still does. I would’ve expected it the other way round, but such is the kind of love the family shows when it comes to serving food. I failed to understand this respect while I was younger, but I am ever so glad that I have realised it now. I may not cook enough to feed an army like they do, but whatever little I cook, I cook with love.

While we are on the theme of cooking with love and no negativity, I did manage to flop a lovely recipe this week. I tried to bake a cardamom cake and failed miserably. Not because I went in with anger, but because I was lacking sleep. That’s all!  But we all tasted it a little bit while it was warm, and fed the rest to the ducks this morning. Oh poor ducks, they must’ve cursed me later on for giving them such awful cakes. But just to compensate for that cake disaster and feel rather good about fixing our vintage refrigerator, I thought I should make an easy dessert that I was quite sure would be a hit with the boys because whats not to love about anything with mango in it. I have been wanting to make fudges for a while and this came about as a good chance. It was whipped in five minutes and cooked in seven minutes. But took overnight to set as a fudge. Yummy was my son’s response while he was licking my mangoo-eeey fingers.

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I thought I should share this very simple recipe on the blog and here it is

Mango puree- 1 cup or less (I used Alphonso)

Milk powder-3 cups

Double cream – 180-200ml

Sweetened condensed milk – According to your preference for sweetness

A pinch of saffron

Mix all the ingredients except mango puree. Do a taste check for sweetness.

Microwave for 3-4 minutes till it starts to bubble on the sides. Take it out and tip in the puree and mix well.

Microwave again for 3-4 minutes till it has bubbled well and looks like a thick paste.

At this stage, it should be still a bit flowy. Now, take a plate or a wide pan, grease with ghee or butter. Spread the cooked mixture evenly. Let it cool before you refrigerate for setting.

Beautiful looking easy peasy fudge is ready to be gobbled up.

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