Mar 30, 2007

Jalfrezi Paneer

This is one of our favorite vegetables. So much so, that we end up making it every time we get paneer. The home-made version of this sabzi is definitely better than the hotel one; which comes with floating oils.

Jalfrezi or “dry fry” is an Indian curry in which marinated pieces of meat or vegetables are fried in oil and spices to produce a thick, dry sauce. You can use bell peppers, onions, paneer, French beans, or any of your favorite vegetables.

If you are making Paneer Jalfrezi, you can either use home-made paneer (cottage-cheese) or store bought fried paneer. Here’s how you can make panner at home:
Making Paneer

You will need 1 gallon of milk and 1/3 to ½ cup fresh lemon juice. Bring milk to a boil in a large pan. Reduce the heat to low and, while gently stirring, add the lemon juice. When the milk separates into cheese curds and yellowish whey, remove the pan from the heat. Line a strainer with a triple thickness of cheesecloth 22 to 24 inches square. Using a slotted spoon gently transfer the large pieces of paneer into the strainer, then slowly pour the smaller bits and whey through it. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth and tie the cheese into a tight bundle. Rinse the paneer curds with a slow stream of water to remove the lemon taste. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid. Place the cheese into a slanted surface draining into the sink. Neatly fold the cheesecloth over the cheese to make a flat, square parcel and balance a heavy, flat weight on top of it. Drain and press the paneer until it is firm. Refrigerate it. You can cut the paneer into ½ or ¾ inch cubes and shallow fry them in ghee or oil. (Extracted from “India – The Vegetarian Table” by Yamuna Devi).

I used store-bought fried paneer. The recipe for Jalfrezi has been adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s “Simply Vegetarian”.

Jalfrezi Paneer

1.400 gms Paneer – cut into cubes
2.2 medium tomatoes
3.2 medium capsicums
4.2 medium onions
5.½ tsp ginger paste
6.½ medium bunch coriander leaves
7.2 whole red chillies
8.3 tbsp oil
9.1 tsp cumin seeds
10.1 ½ tsp red chilli powder
11.½ tsp turmeric powder
12.Salt to taste
13.1 ½ tbsp vinegar
14.1 tsp garam masala powder
1.Wash and cut tomatoes, onions, and capsicums into slices.
2.Clean, wash, and chop coriander leaves. Remove stems and break red chillies into two.
3.Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds. When they change color, add red chillies, ginger, and onions. Sauté till the onions turn golden brown.
4.Now, add the red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Stir well and add capsicum. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add paneer and toss. Add salt and vinegar and cook for 2-3 mins. Stir in the tomato pieces and garam masala powder
5.Serve hot with chapatis.

This is my entry for the letter “J” for Nupur’s A-Z series. Hope you like it!

Mar 27, 2007


Since a long time, I wanted to change the look of my blog. I am not happy with any of the templates that Blogger offers. It took me some time to figure out the HTML codes. But, finally I did it! I added a new header, changed the page background color, added a site meter to the blog. Do let me know how you find the new look. I tend to use too many colors sometimes. So, any kind of feedback is appreciated:)

Mar 23, 2007

I is for......?

Hmmm..this was a tough one. I racked and racked my brains to come up with some vegetable starting with “I”. All I could think of was “Idli”. But, it’s a snack, not a vegetable. So, I cancelled it. All the while I was thinking that maybe there’s something popular that I am not remembering right now. I waited for a few days, hoping for a miracle. Alas, nothing did. I also tried the following options:

1.Ate hubby’s head to come up with something starting with I. He said, “Idli”..duhhh…

2.Asked a couple of friends. Again, no positive outcome.

3.Searched my recipe books (I have only 4)..but found nothing suitable.

4.A Google search for “Vegetables starting with the letter I” also turned disappointing.

5.Thought of cheating and renaming some dish, but again couldn't think of any:(

And then finally it stuck me. Back in our courtship days, I and P used to frequent many restaurants and try different dishes. We are both food lovers. We relish eating everything from mocktails, soups, starters, main courses, and ofcoz the dessert. For us, no meal is complete without a dessert. On one such expedition, we tried something new and instantly liked the dish. You can classify it as a starter, snack, or vegetable. This dish is a wonderful blend of the South-Indian and Chinese cuisine. Yes, it uses idlis too. I think you must have guessed it by now. Recipe adapted from here.

Idli Manchurian

1.8 Refrigerated or hard idlis
2.½ cup Cornflour
3.½ cup all purpose flour (Maida)
4.1 ½ tsp Soya sauce
5.¼ tsp Ginger
6.¼ tsp Garlic paste
7.Oil to deep fry

For gravy
1.1 big Onion
2.5 Green chillies
3.1/4 tsp Ginger paste
4.¼ tsp Garlic paste
5.1 Capsicum
6.½ cup spring onions
7.½ tsp Soya sauce
8.1 tbsp Oil
9.2 tbsp Cornflour
10.½ tsp red chilli sauce
11. Salt to taste

1.Cut idlis into small squares. You can use instant mix to make the idlis. I always prefer making the batter from scratch using 2:1 ratio of rice and udad daal.
2.Mix maida, cornflour, ginger garlic paste, soya sauce, and very little salt with water to a medium batter. The batter will be very sticky and stiff.
3.Dip idli pieces in this batter and deep fry till golden brown. Drain on paper napkins.

(Fried Idlis)
4.Finely chop onion, green chillies, capsicum, and spring onions.
5.Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add onions, green chillies, and ginger-garlic paste. Fry for some time. Add capsicum and fry till cooked.
6.Add the soya sauce, red chilli sauce, and fried idlis.
7.Add 2 cups of water to the cornflour and mix thoroughly. Pour this in the idlis. 8.Add salt and spring onions. Boil this mixture till the gravy thickens.
9.Serve hot with rice or enjoy as a snack.

Idli is a South Indian snack famous all over India. It is a popular breakfast item. Idlis are steamed and cooked in a special utensil called the “Idli Stand”. Served with sambhar and chutney, idlis should always be consumed hot. There are several varieties of chutney that can be served with Idli – garlic, coconut, mint, red-chilli to name a few. There’s a famous joint named “Mani’s” near Ruia college, Matunga. It serves tastiest Idlis I have eaten so far. The best thing about this joint is that it offers free refills of sambhar and chutney. Idlis are prepared and devoured in many forms such as masala idlis, fried masala idlis, vegetable idlis, and kanchipuram idlis.

Manchurian is famous vegetable gravy from China. The gravy is a bit sticky and has a distinct ginger-garlic flavor. I have eaten three kinds of vegetable Manchurian up till now; made from cabbage, cauliflower, and idli. In cabbage Manchurian you make vegetable balls of cabbage and add them to the gravy. In Gobi Manchurian, dip cauliflower florets in the batter and fry them before adding to the gravy. Vegetable Manchurian is usually served with rice and noodles and consumed hot. Manchurian reminds me of the famous political movie named “The Manchurian Candidate”. I was greatly impressed with the story, suspense, and the ending of this movie.

Idli Manchurian combines the softness of Idlis, the crispiness of fried idlis, the freshness of vegetables, the garlicky taste of the gravy, and the stickiness of cornflour to form a wonderful filling dish. Idli Manchurian is my entry for Nupur’s A-Z series. Mark your calendars for next weekend for the letter “J”. Yippy, I still remember A,B, C, D:)

Mar 21, 2007

A Pineapple A Month

AFAM (A Fruit A Month) is a popular blog event by Maheswari, that focuses on one fruit every month. Bloggers need to come up with dishes with the fruit as the main ingredient. This month the focus was on Pineapple.

(Photo from Wiki)
I wonder why a pineapple is named so. Is it because of all the pines on this fruit or as it tastes sweet and tangy like the apple? My quest took me to Wiki where I discovered a plethora of information on this fruit. Pineapple or Ananas Comosus is called so as it resembles “pine cones”. This tropical fruit is native to Brazil and Paraguay.
Here’s what I found interesting in the Wiki article, “The World War II Mark 2 hand grenade was commonly known as the "pineapple" because of the grooves cut into its surface. Ian Fleming employs "pineapple" as a slang term for a grenade in the James Bond novels.”

Pineapple is available in many forms today – crushed, chunked, or drained. It is used in juices and milkshakes. It is the main ingredient in many cakes and desserts. Whether you eat it raw or use it in any form, this juicy fruit is delicious. Removing the outer covering is a pain and it’s better to get it removed from the fruit vendor. Juice stalls in Mumbai sell a special fruit dish; a concoction of varieties of fruit pieces. These include pineapple, apple, and melon topped with a chat masala.

If you have visited any Maharashtrian wedding, you must have spotted a table full of beautiful artifacts. This is called the “Rukhwat”. Rukhwat contains special gifts for the bride such as utensils, home-made sweets, poems, special messages, and best of all gifts and handiwork made by family and friends. I always love making a rukhwat item for a near and dear one. You can include anything such as a painting, show-piece, or embroidery work. I remember making one such rukhwat item for my Tai (elder cousin sister). I and Mom used a Parachute oil bottle. We cut 1-inch long pieces of yellow plastic material, folded these pieces, and stuck them in a circular fashion on the oil bottle. They soon took the form of a pineapple. The top was covered in green plastic leaves. I wish I had a photo to share with you, but my description will have to suffice for now.

Coming back to the event. This is my entry for AFAM. Here’s the recipe for a savory raita:

Pineapple Raita

1.1 tsp oil
2.1/4 tsp mustard seeds
3.1/2 tsp ginger paste
4.1/2 cup canned pineapple, finely chopped
5.2 tbsp pineapple syrup, from the can
6.1 cup yogurt, beaten till smooth
7.Salt to taste
8.1/4 tsp red chili powder, to taste
9.5-6 curry leaves

1.Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and allow to splutter.
2.Once they stop spluttering, add ginger, curry leaves, chopped pineapple and the pineapple syrup.
3.Simmer on low heat for 3 minutes or until thick.
4.Remove from heat. Allow to cool.
5.Add yogurt into a bowl and beat till smooth. Add salt and red chilli powder to the yoghurt and mix well.
6.Pour the above mixture in the yoghurt and mix again.
7.Serve chilled with Jhatpat Pulav.

Jhatpat Pulav is named so as it is ready in a jiffy and tastes similar to the authentic pulav. This pulav is a discovery of my friend B. We used to make this pulav when we were bored of eating daal-chaval. Here’s the recipe:

1.1 cup rice
2.½ cup frozen vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, and French beans)
3.1 ½ tsp Biryani Pulav paste (We use Priya brand)
4.Salt to taste
5.1 tsp ghee

1.Wash the rice in 2-3 changes of water.
2.Defrost the veggies and add to the rice.
3.Add the masala paste, salt, and ghee. Add water and stir well. Taste the water to check if you need to add more salt or masala.
4.Pressure cook for 1-2 whistles.
5. Mix well.
Jhatpat Pulav is ready. You can add chopped potato to the rice. Tastes even better.

To all my blog buddies:I would like to know what Pineapple is called in your mother tongue. It's called "Ananas" in Marathi. Do share the names alongwith the pronounciation:)

Mar 19, 2007

Happy Gudi Padwa!

As spring knocks our door, we welcome the New Year and worship the Sun. Yes, it’s New Year for us. I am feeling kind of nostalgic, sitting here far away from home. I am missing all the sweets, celebrations, and the cute little gudi that we hang outside our door.
(Pic from
We used to get a holiday on Gudi Padwa; our school administration being full of Maharashtrians. After taking bath, we used to pray to the Gudi and offer flowers and haldi-kumkum to it. Mom used to give us a neem leaf to eat. I and my bro used to touch our parent’s feet and then I used to command him to touch mine:) Mom mostly prepared basundi on this day. Read in details about Gudi Padwa here.

I welcomed the New Year by trying a new sweet - Rava Kesari. Some time back, we had invited our friends (P and S) for dinner. P came carrying a thali full of orange colored barfis, which tasted delicious. These friends have helped us a lot since we shifted into the new apartment. Be it taking us to the store for grocery shopping, lending things, or being guinea pigs for all my cooking adventures:)A special thanks to both of you. P pointed me to the recipe for making rava kesari. Here’s out it turned out:

This sweet is ready in a jiffy – took just 20 minutes to prepare. I did not have orange food color, hence added saffron. I think I should have added just a bit more saffron are my sweet is looking more yellow than orange. Taste delicious, nonetheless. I decorated a plate full of sweets and offered them as Naivadya. I wanted to be the devoted wife and wait till P got home from office. But then, I tasted one barfi, forgot all my devotion, and gobbled 5-6:)

This day is also special for me and hubby as we got engaged on this day last year:).

A very Happy New Year to my parents, friends, relatives, and my blog buddies!

Navavarshyachya Hardik Shubheccha!

Mar 17, 2007

Roll Baby Roll

This month Rooma made us do some extra rolling exercises, when she chose “Rolling” as the topic for MBP. This is the second time I am participating in MBP. For blog events, I always try to make something that I have never tried before. I had seen a few interesting recipes and they were in my “Must-try” list. MBP gave me a chance to make and savor them.

Introduction to the rolling pin: A rolling pin is a wooden cylindrical utensil, with handles at both ends to roll out dough. Don’t mess up with the person handling the rolling pin or it may come swirling at you:) Rolling pins are used daily to roll out chapattis. Other uses include making parathas, theplas, puris, and papads.

I was introduced to the rolling pin when my mom was after my life to learn chapattis. She used to keep aside some dough everyday and make me roll out at least 2 chapattis. And I would use all my strength to roll out the dough. I can still imagine her standing next to me giving all those instructions, “Roll a bit on the edges”, “Don’t roll more in the center”, “Don’t use so much pressure” and on and on. What used to start out with a small round chapatti soon used to loose all shape and turn into a perfect amoeba:( That is when I started dreading the rolling pin. I stayed as far away from it as possible. I have to admit that I did not cook anything on a regular basis till I came to the US. Here, I learnt the knack of using a rolling pin and am quite comfortable with it now. Here are my two experiments using the rolling pin.

Aloo Gobi Paratha

Well, I make chapattis daily but still hadn’t tried making stuffed parathas. MBP gave me a perfect opportunity to experiment with veggies in the dough. My dear friend Manasi presented Aloo Paratha as her entry for the JFI. I made these with some variations.

1.I added half cup shredded cabbage to the mashed potatoes.
2.Secondly, I heated oil and added mustard seeds, asafoetida, and turmeric powder to it. Then I added some curry leaves and poured this mixture to the mashed veggies. I also substituted green chillies with red chilli powder.

Results: The experiment was totally successful. P was a bit skeptic about adding the cabbage, but became happy when he tasted the parathas.

Vegetable Frankie

I was introduced to this Mumbai snack in my school days. I used to go out with a couple of friends for a round of Shivaji Park. Our evening used to end with a visit to the Tibbs stall near the park. While my friends used to munch on their chicken frankies, I used to enjoy my veggie Frankie. The stall-version contained extra oil and used to come wrapped in paper. Frankie is basically, veggies rolled into a roti and then fried together. When I described this snack to my mom, she came up with a recipe of her own. Mom used to make them on weekends when we used to get bored eating chapattis. When I had described her method to my hubby, he demanded his mom-in-law to treat him with this snack. And, he had completely loved it. Later, I browsed through Nupur’s blog and found her recipe for Frankie. I combined my mom’s and Nupur’s recipe and made delicious veggie Frankies this weekend. I had asked P to bring Spinach from the store and I wanted this to be a surprise for him. Whilst I was busy with the preps, he was standing next to me playing a guessing game. He took at least 15 guesses before he guessed it right, and by that time I was almost done with the snack:). Yes, this recipe does take a lot of time, but it’s worth the effort. Here's the recipe:

For the paratha
1.1 cup cut spinach
2.2 cups wheat flour
3.3 tsp besan
4.½ tsp red chilli powder
5.¼ tsp turmeric powder
6.¼ tsp ajwain
7.¼ tsp ginger paste
8.¼ tsp garlic paste
9.Salt to taste

For the vegetable stuffing
1.2 medium potatoes
2.1 big onion
3.½ capsicum
4.½ cup peas
5.½ tsp mustard seeds
6.Pinch of asafoetida
7.Salt to taste
8.¼ tsp ginger paste
9.¼ tsp garlic paste
10.½ tsp red chilli powder
11.¼ tsp turmeric powder

For the paste
1.1 tbsp all purpose flour (or corn flour)

Making the stuffing
1.Boil the potatoes and peas. Mash them together. Finely chop the capsicum and onion.
2.Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, asafoetida, and turmeric powder. Add the onions and fry till light brown. Add the ginger and garlic paste.
3.Next, add capsicum, mashed potatoes and peas, red chilli powder, and salt. Fry for some time.

Making the parathas:
1.Mix together all ingredients and make firm dough. Use enough oil.
2.Make small balls of the dough and roll out parathas.
3.Semi-cook both sides of the paratha on a pan.

Assembling the Frankie
1.Make a paste of all-purpose flour and water.
2.Add some cooked vegetables on top of one paratha.
3.Spread the vegetable on the paratha. Don’t spread more on the edges.

4.Roll the paratha and seal one end with the paste. You can also seal the bottom on one side.

5.Heat a pan and add some butter. Fry the assembled Frankie on both sides till it is crispy.

6.Add some chopped onion and chat masala on the Frankie and serve hot with ketchup.

Results: Super-successful and savory. A must-try if you haven’t tasted this before. Definitely better and healthier than the street stall Frankie.
Thanks Rooma for hosting this MBP!

H is for...

For H, I choose a simple vegetable that combines the flavors of harbhare and coconut. Harbhare, or chana as called in Hindi, is used in a funny context. When friends praise you and you start walking on clouds, they will say, “Aye, chane ke zaad pe mat chadna”. Usal is any preparation that uses cooked sprouts. Usually, usal is prepared by making a “vatan” – a mixture of veggies, coconut, and spices. You can add tomatoes to make gravy.

Harbharyachi Usal

1.1 cup harbhare/chana
2.½ cup grated coconut
3.1 onion
4.1 tsp cumin seeds
5.1 tsp mustard seeds
6.Pinch of asafoetida
7.½ tsp turmeric powder
8.1 tsp red chilli powder
9.1 tsp garam masala powder
10.1 tbsp cut jaggery
11.Salt to taste

1.Soak one cup of harbhare overnight.
2.Pressure cook for 3 whistles. Drain all the water.
3.Take around 10-15 harbhare and grind them in the mixer. Finely chop the onion.
4.Heat a pan. Add the grated coconut and cumin seeds and fry till the coconut turns light brown.
5.Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add asafoetida and turmeric powder.
6.Add onion and fry till it turns golden brown.
7.Now, add the harbhare, the grinded harbhare, salt, jaggery, red chilli powder, and garam masala powder. Mix thoroughly.
8.Add the grated coconut, cumin seeds mix. Add ½ cup of water.
9.Cook till the water evaporates. Garnish with coriander.

Chana Chaat: You can use some harbhare to make this chatpata chat. Take some harbhare, add finely chopped onion and tomatoes, red chilli powder, salt, and pepper.

Mar 13, 2007

Need for spice

Do you experience the sudden urge to eat something spicy at times? I had this uncontrollable urge this evening, and we were out of snacks. There were no chips or spicy snacks in the house. And I had to, had to eat something I liked. So, off I went rattling my brain in search of something spicy and tangy.

I didn’t have to think too much. For a long time now, I had been meaning to make my favorite snack – Dadpe Pohe. This is a different kind of Maharashtrian snack. My mom used to make this for Sunday breakfast. My dad had this irritating habit of starting the TV for the 8o’clock Rangoli. I and my brother used to cover our heads with pillows. But, dad used to increase the volume. Finally, after many groans and complaints, we used to get up. Then the four of us used to have the normal discussion of what to make for breakfast. Now, my bro likes the normal batate pohe, but I would any day prefer dadpe pohe. So, after much cajoling I used to have my way and mom used to make dadpe pohe. I have to tell you that this dish is so easy to make and taste delicious. I used to gobble down at least 4-5 plates:-). Here’s the recipe for my favorite Sunday breakfast.

Dadpe Pohe

1.3 cups thin poha
2.1 medium onion
3.1 medium tomato
4.3-4 green chillies
5.1 cup grated coconut
6.1 tsp red chilli powder
7.½ tsp turmeric powder
8.¼ th tsp garam masala powder
9.½ cup groundnuts
10.1 tbsp lime juice
11.1 tsp cumin seeds
12.½ tsp mustard seeds
13.Pinch of asafoetida
14.Salt and sugar to taste
15.Oil for frying

1.Wash the poha. Finely chop the onion and tomato. Finely chop the green chillies.
2.Add the onion, tomato, and grated coconut to the poha.
3.Add sugar, salt, red chilli powder, and garam masala powder to the poha. Mix thoroughly.
4.Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin and mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, add asafoetida, turmeric powder, and green chillies. Add the groundnuts and fry for some time.
5.Pour this mixture in the poha and mix thoroughly.
6.Add lime juice and mix again.

Verdict: Hubby had not eaten this poha before. When he tasted it, he found it similar to Bhel. He loved this snack. It’s a must try for all those who haven’t tasted it before. It takes just 15 minutes to prepare. Hope all of you try it and like it too!

Mar 10, 2007

"G" of Indian vegetables

When I thought of G, I thought of gajar, gobhi, and green peas. Out of this, I picked green peas. There are so many other vegetables that go well with green peas. I love aloo matar, matar paneer, and dahi aloo matar. Anyways, as my entry for the letter G in Nupur’s A-Z series, I chose to make a combo that I love whole-heartedly. Here’s the recipe adapted from a wonderful book by Sanjeev Kapoor.

Green Peas with Mushrooms

1.Green Peas – 1 cup
2.Button mushrooms – 15
3.Onions – 2 medium sized
4.Tomato puree – ½ cup
5.Ginger paste
6.Garlic paste
7.Cardamoms – 4
8.Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
9.Red chilli powder – 1tbsp
10.Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
11.Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
12.Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
13.Salt to taste


1.Wash and drain green peas. Wash and cut the mushrooms into quarters. Finely chop the onions.
2.Heat oil in a kadhai. Add cardamom, cinnamon, and chopped onions. Saute till the onions turn golden brown.
3.Add ginger-garlic paste and cook for half a minute.
4.Add the tomato puree, red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, and salt. Cook till the oil leaves the masala. This recipe calls for using cashewnut paste, but I didn’t use it as it adds a sweet flavor.
5.Add one cup of water and bring it to a boil. Add the green peas and mushrooms. Cook on high heat till the peas are fully cooked. Serve hot.

Mar 9, 2007

Carrot cake for my bunny

When I had seen the theme for this month’s MM, I had smiled to myself. I wanted to bake a cake for my hubby’s birthday, which was on 7th March. It was the perfect opportunity – to bake a cake for him and participate in the MM. Some weeks back, our friend S had baked a superb carrot cake for a potluck. I was greatly impressed. Unlike my baking experiments in which I got a ready made cake mix from the store, this guy had baked this delicious cake from scratch. For those who have not tried carrot cake or those who have been put off by it, let me tell you that it tastes wonderful. This cake is my contribution to Meeta’s Monthly Mingle.

I was on the lookout for a decent carrot cake recipe. A Google search for “Carrot cake recipe” yielded many results out of which I short listed this. I was all set to start baking on the afternoon on 6th March.

1.The first and most painstaking task is carrot shredding. The recipe calls for using baby carrots and though I knew how difficult that would be; I wanted no compromises in this cake. You have to be really careful while shredding the carrots; I almost grated my fingers once or twice. You will need almost a whole bag of baby carrots.

2.Next combine the oil, sugar, vanilla, and eggs and beat well. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and mix well. The batter is super stiff at this point, so much so that you can hardly mix it.

3.Pineapple adds moisture and sweetness to this cake. Open the can of crushed pineapple. Add the shredded carrots, drained pineapple, and 1/2 cup walnuts to the cake mix and mix well. The batter will start to soften.

4.Apply butter on all sides of the baking pan. Sprinkle some all-purpose flour in the pan. Pour the batter in the pan and level it. The amounts of ingredients mentioned in the recipe were suitable for a 13*9 inch pan. I was using a 9*9 inch pan and used up the remaining batter to make 12 cupcakes. This is how the batter looks before baking:

5.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

6.Bake the cake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes. Insert a knife in the cake. If it comes out clean, your cake is ready to be devoured. Cool the cake for 10-15 minutes.

7.You can make cream cheese frosting. I used store bought Vanilla Frosting. Apply the frosting evenly on all sides of your cake.I chopped some carrot pieces and used them for decoration. The cake looks kind of made by a school girl:) Refrigerate the cake.

Verdict: Hubby cut the cake at 12 o’clock. Happy Birthday, Hubby! It was delicious and savory. The batter tasted too sweet on tasting, but the baked cake could have used a little bit more sugar. There is no bitter taste of all the carrots and the frosting makes the cake even more delicious. The pineapple and walnuts added an extra flavor to the cake, so don’t miss out on the pineapple. The entire baking and frosting process took around 3 hours. We sent the cupcakes to our dear friends, who also loved them.

Mar 5, 2007

Baking adventure # 1

Yeah, we baked a cake. After getting comfortable with cooking vegetables, mastering perfectly round chapattis, I decided it was time to try my hand at baking. I feel cooking is just like walking – you take one step at a time.

My hubby has been gifted with a sweet tooth. We have a Fresh Market right across the street and I have a tough time every time we go there. First, he spends at least 15 minutes staring at all the desserts. Then he wants to buy everything. When I decline, he literally behaves like a five-year old, looks all sullen and sad. Finally, I have to drag him away from the store. I promised him that I will make something that he always feels like buying from the store – a banana nut cake.

I bought a few things that are common in almost all the cakes – vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, and confectioner’s sugar. I also bought different baking pans (this costs around 2$ each in the Dollar Store),a measuring cup, and a blender. With this, I was all ready to start my first baking adventure. Here’s the recipe (adapted from here) for a wonderful banana nut cake:

Banana Nut Cake

Wet ingredients
1.2 ripe bananas
2.6 Tbs. melted butter
3.1 tsp. vanilla extract
4.2 large eggs

Dry ingredients
1.1-1/3 cup all purpose flour
2.1/2 tsp. baking soda
3.1/4 tsp. baking powder
4.2/3 cup sugar
5.1/2 tsp. salt
6.1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1.Combine and whisk together all the dry ingredients except for the walnuts.
2.Mash the bananas, melted butter, and vanilla extract together.
3.Lightly beat the eggs together.
4.Mash the banana mixture with the eggs until smooth and well blended.
5.Pour the banana mixture onto the dry ingredients. Add the walnuts (reserve some for adding on top of cake).
6.Thoroughly mix all the ingredients.

7.Apply butter on all sides of the baking pan. Sprinkle some flour.
8.Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
9.Sprinkle some walnuts on the batter.

10.Bake for 55 minutes at 350°F.
11.Insert a wooden toothpick or knife in the center of the cake. It should come out clean.
12.Cool the cake for ten minutes.

13.Remove the loaf from the pan.
14.Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for 4-5 days.

Verdict: The cake turned out absolutely Y-U-M-M-Y. While the cake was baking, our whole house was filled with its delicious smell. I and hubby were so excited, that we were opening and checking the oven every 7-8 minutes. The cake soon started disappearing before our eyes.
This is a wonderful snack for tea-time or a nice dish to serve your guests.

Mar 2, 2007

Too many cooks...

Heard the old saying, too many cooks spoil a dish? Well, I don’t think so. Too many cooks give too many suggestions, but they also have too much fun, laughter, and sweet memories of cooking together. My sweet friend M, who happens to be an expert cook, was going to India. And instead of us giving her a farewell treat; she thought she would give us all a treat. She wanted all of us to get together at her place and cook something special. Well, some of our non-Maharashtrian friends had heard so much about puran poli and M was the only one who could make it from scratch to end..So, puran poli it was going to be.

Puran Poli is the traditional Maharashtrian dish made from stuffing jaggery in wheat balls and then rolling the flour. This dish is mostly made during Holi. I remember shouting “Holi re holi purnachi poli” when the holi was set afire. Kannadas refer to this sweet as Holige, while Telugus call it Obbattu. Whatever you call it, the truth remains the same – puran polis are everyone’s favorite. The stuffing can be made of coconut and jaggery, or white sugar (pithi sakhar), or of lentils. More about puran poli on Wiki. Puran polis are always served with a generous helping of ghee. I like to dip them in milk or pour the milk over the poli so that they literally melt in my mouth.

Puran poli reminds me of Holi back in India that I am so much going to miss this year. My mom makes puran polis every year. She makes the puran the previous day and on the day of playing colors (Rangapanchami) my dad uses the puran yantra (a manual machine with a handle) and softens the puran. Mom starts making polis once we go out to play colors and stops after we come home some 3-4 hours later. After we consume 2-3 polis, our eyes become too droopy..Yes, all the ghee and puran definitely makes you, we do nothing else but take a long afternoon nap and then wake up to eat more polis for dinner. And yes, we sure keep some for the next day..they taste more delicious.

Over the years, I started helping Aai make the polis. I learnt how to fill the dough but always kept messing up. Well, this time I wanted to see, learn, and experiment everything from start to end. So, off I went to help and enjoy. Our other friends started coming one by one, and soon the kitchen was filled with 7-8 females helping out with different stages of making the polis. Here’s the recipe and some photos. This is my entry for Trupti's Spring Fling 2007 event.

Holi special - Puran Poli

Makes around 25-30 polis
For the puran
1.1 kg chana daal
2.¾ kg jaggery
3.1/4th tsp nutmeg powder
4.1 tsp saunf powder
5.1 tsp cardamom pwder
6.1 tsp soonth (ginger powder)

For the flour
1.5 cups wheat flour (maida optional)
2.Pinch of salt


1.Wash the chana daal in 2-3 changes of water. Cut the jaggery. Check if you have powders of all other ingredients; else grind them in the mixer.

(Cut jaggery)

2.Pressure cook the chana daal with one whistle. Set aside for some time. Check if the daal is so cooked that of you mash it with your finger, it gets mashed, but doesn’t turn into pulp. Drain the water only if it is excess, otherwise preserve it for cooking.

(Jy and Pa transferring the daal)

3.Cook the daal on medium flame. Add jaggery. Keep stirring from time to time.

4.After some time, add all the powders.

5.Keep stirring so that the daal doesn’t stick to the bottom of the vessel.

(Me stirring the daal)

6.The daal will thicken after an hour. Take a wooden spoon and place it in the daal. If it stands on its own without falling, it indicates the puran is ready.

7.Now, comes the difficult part. Mash the puran using the chopper, puran yantra, or masher. The puran should turn soft.

(Pa mashing the puran)

(Va churning the puran in our make-shift churner)

8.Make dough of the flour just like you make for making chapattis.

(Dough made by Sm)

9.Make small balls of the puran.

10.Take a little bit of dough at a time and roll it into small chappatis.

(Me and As making small chapattis)

11.Now, comes the fun-filled and challenging part. Hold the small chapatti in your hand. Bring your fingers closer so that your hand forms a cavity (similar to a lotus).

12.Add the puran in this chapatti. Close the chapatti from all sides. Press lightly from both sides.

(M filling the puran)

(Me and Sm filling the puran)

13.Dip both sides into flour. Roll the chappati delicately. Sprinkle flour from time to time. If your chapatti splits open from somewhere, patch it up with flour.

(M rolling the poli)

14.Heat a flat pan. Place the poli on the pan and cook on both sides. Pour ghee while cooking.

(Sh cooking the poli)

(Done..ready to eat)

15.Serve hot with ghee and milk.

(Looks delicious, eh?)

Verdict: The puran polis were simply delicious. I learnt doing everything – filling the puran, rolling the dough. The entire process from start to finish took approximately 5 hours. But don’t let the time and efforts daunt you – puran polis are definitely worth all the effort.

We also made katachi amti (a spicy curry made from puran), rice, and saffron milk alongwith the puran poli. So, it was a memorable feast all in all. Thanks M for making it happen!

Wish you all a colorful and happy Holi! May your life be filled with bright colors througout the year!

Mar 1, 2007

JFI: Potato

Being a new blogger, I am slowly getting to know all the blog events. When I visited the blogs of some food bloggers, I used to get confused reading terms like JFI and MBP. Then I got accustomed to these terms. JFI (Jihva for ingredients) is a wonderful monthly event that focuses on a new ingredient every month and people need to cook a dish with the decided ingredient as their main ingredient. There’s so much you can cook with a single ingredient – soups, starters, vegetables, desserts, parathas..your creativity is the limit. When I saw the ingredient for this month’s JFI, I was very excited to participate. I knew that our hostess Vaishali was going to be flooded with recipes:)

Potato, the world’s most famous tuber, with its rich nutritional values is a part of our daily diet. Potatoes contain lots of carbohydrates and starch. They also contain abundant vitamins and minerals. Potatoes are produced in a plethora of varieties including russet, long white, red, and Yukon gold. Potatoes can be cooked in a number of ways – peeled, cut, boiled, and mashed. Stay away from potatoes that have any kind of green spots – these can prove to be toxic.

Potato reminds me of a childhood game called “Batatyachi Sharyat”. It is game of collecting potatoes placed one after the other. It reminds me of snacks like sev batata puri, batata wada, batata bhajji, aloo tikki; of aloo paratha, dum aloo, samosas..It reminds me of a silly song,"Jab tak rahega samose mein aloo, tab tak rahega Bihar mein Laloo"..My teachers often used the expression that a not so intelligent kid's head is filled with potatoes and onions..Potatoes remind me of the street vendors yelling "Kanda Batataaaaaaaaa".There are so many dishes that you can prepare using potatoes. Anyways, I decided to make simple, quick, and easy-to-make vegetable using potatoes. Here’s my entry for JFI - Potatoes.

Batata Rassa


1.4 potatoes
2.1 big onion
3.2 tomatoes
4.2-3 green chillies
5.½ tsp mustard seeds
6.½ tsp cumin seeds
8.¼ tsp turmeric powder
9.¼ tsp ginger paste
10.¼ tsp garlic paste
11.½ tsp red chilli poweder
12.½ tsp garam masala
13.Salt to taste
15.Oil for frying

1.Boil the potatoes and cut them into big pieces. Finely chop the onion and green chillies. Cut the tomatoes in huge pieces and puree them in the mixer.
2.Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard and cumin seeds. When they splutter, add a pinch of asafoetida and turmeric powder.
3.Add green chillies and ginger garlic paste. Fry for some time.
4.Add the chopped onions and fry till the onions turn golden brown.
5.Now, add the tomato puree, red chilli powder, garam masala, salt, and a pinch of sugar.
6.Stir for some time on low flame.
7.Add the boiled potatoes and some water. Boil for some time.
8.Garnish with coriander.

Till then,looking forward for the next JFI!