Sep 28, 2007

A curry and a drink

I know I am two days late for RCI and AFAM (what a shame!), but I am hoping Asha would include my entry in the roundup. I have been extremely busy last week and had no time to blog. My parents arrived in the US this Monday and the last few days we were busy cleaning the house, buying stuff, making trip plans, and cleaning some more.

RCI: Karnataka

Half cauliflower, couple of baby carrots, and few french beans...leftover vegetables in my refrigerator. No matter how many vegetables I use up in the week, some always remain and are carried forward to the next week. I mean, how much can 2 people eat?

I am always on the lookout for mixed vegetable recipes that give me the chance to clean my fridge of such leftover veggies. Pav bhaji, Kadhai vegetable, Vegetable Pulao are normal dishes. But after a while, we get bored of eating the same stuff again and again.

For RCI: Karnataka, I tried out a mixed vegetable curry from the book Curry Cuisine. This book contains veg and non-veg vegetable recipes from India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The Indian curries are categorized into North India (Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Lucknow, and Bengal), and South India. The book contains beautiful pictures of major spices used in these states.

Rasa Kayi are mixed vegetables cooked in tomato gravy and flavored with fennel seeds. This curry is a common preparation in Karnataka.

Rasa Kayi/Mixed vegetable curry
(Adapted from the book Curry Cuisine)


  1. 1/2 cup carrots - washed and cut into 1inch pieces

  2. 1 boiled potato - cut into huge chunks

  3. 1/2 cup green beans - washed and cut into 1inch pieces

  4. 1 cup cauliflower florets

  5. 2 onions - cut into small pieces

  6. 3 tbsp vegetable oil

  7. 1 green chilli - slit lengthwise

  8. 1/2 tsp red chilli powder

  9. 1/2 tsp corainder powder

  10. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

  11. Salt to taste

  12. 1/2 cup coconut milk

For the spice paste

  1. 2 garlic cloves - peeled

  2. 3/4 inch ginger root

  3. 1 green chilli - finely chopped

  4. 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)

  5. 2 tomatoes - washed and cut into huge chunks

  1. Grind all the ingredients for the spice paste in a blender. Add water if neccessary. Keep aside.

  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add the onions and green chilli. Cook untill the onions are soft. Add the carrots, red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and salt to taste. Mix well. Lower the heat and add the potatoes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

  3. Add the cauliflower florets and green beans. Add the spice paste and mix well. Cook covered for 10-15 minutes.

  4. Remove pan from heat and slowly add coconut milk, stirring to blend well.

  5. Serve hot with puris/rotis/parathas or hot rice.

Verdict: This recipe is a keeper. The fennel seeds left out a beautiful aroma that wafted through my kitchen. The vegetables mixed with the curry were super tasty. As I said, this vegetable recipe is an excellent resource to use up leftover vegetables.

AFAM: Grapes

Grape Banana smoothie

  1. Add 2 ripe bananas and 2 handful of red/purple grapes in a blender. Blend to a smooth paste.

  2. Add 1 cup ice and crush it. Next add 1/4 cup milk and blend again.

  3. Serve cold.

Rasa Kayi is being sent to Asha for RCI: Karnataka, while the Grape banana smoothie is my entry for AFAM-Grapes.

Sep 19, 2007

Weaving friendship through Cranberry-nut upside down muffins

It arrived at my door with love, packed with some delicious brownies. The brownies were packed with utmost care. Enclosed was a card in a beautiful writing and an instruction sheet.

It weaves friendship in a unique way by stinking. The day it arrived I greeted it with love. I placed it on the kitchen counter with care. Every two hours, I would pay a visit and stare at it lovingly, making sure that nothing’s wrong in its growth.

The next three days I ruthlessly mashed it. On the 6th day, I again changed my avatar and fed it some flour, sugar, and milk. It got confused seing the change. It hoped things have changed for the good. But I proved it wrong again. For the next 3 days, I again mashed it. By the 10th day, it was clueless and scared. So, when I poured it in a bowl it had no clue what would happen next.

Ever since Bee announced that she was sending some scary, smelly things in the mail, I was anticipating their arrival. Wondering what I should bake with the special batter, I paid a visit to the local library. My hand fell upon a book that's a gem for amateur and professional bakers. As I turned page after page, delicious recipes for cakes, muffins, pies, tarts, and cookies greeted my eyes. The book I am talking about is Better Homes and Gardens: Old Fashioned Home Baking. There were so many recipes to choose from that I soon got confused. As the 10th day for processing the batter approached, I finally settled on one recipe. For all those who have received the starter, Nupur has provided the schedule to be followed. Here's my little experiment with the Amish Friendship starter.

Cranberry nut upside down muffins
(Adapted from Better Homes and Garden: Old Fashioned Home Baking)
Yields: 12 muffins
Original recipe

  1. Grease twelve muffin cups or line them with paper bake cups. Set muffin cups aside.

  2. In a small covered saucepan, cook 1 1/2 cup cranberries and 3/4 cup sugar over low heat just till the mixture starts to form juice. Stir frequently. Uncover and heat to boiling, stirring from time to time. Boil gently, uncovered, for about 5 minutes or till the berries pop. Stir in 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (I didn't have nutmeg. I added 1/4 tsp cardamom powder). Divide the cranberry mixture evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Set the muffin cups aside.

  3. In a medium mixing bowl stir together 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup chopped nuts, 2 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt. Make a well in the centre of this mixture.

  4. In another bowl combine 1 beaten egg, 3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup cooking oil, and 1/2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel. Add the egg mixture all at once in the dry mixture. Stir till just moistened. Batter should be lumpy while making muffins. Spoon batter on top of the cranberry mixture in the muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

  5. Preheat oven to 400degrees.

  6. After pre-heating, bake the muffins at 400degrees for 20-25 minutes.

  7. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes.

  8. To remove muffins from cups, invert them into wire rack or a dish.

Recipe using Amish Friendship starter

  1. Step 1 and 2 are same as above.

  2. Step 3: In a medium mixing bowl stir together 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour, 1/3 cup chopped nuts, 2 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt. Make a well in the centre of this mixture.

  3. Step 4: In another bowl combine 1 cup Amish starter, 1 beaten egg, 2/3 cup milk, 1/4 cup cooking oil, and 1/2 tsp finely shredded lemon peel. Add the egg mixture all at once in the dry mixture. Stir till just moistened. Batter should be lumpy while making muffins. Spoon batter on top of the cranberry mixture in the muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

  4. Steps 5-8 remain the same as above.

Verdict: Super tasty! Super moist! Delicious. Warm. Perfect. We soon ran out of words to describe them. We savoured each bite, filled with different tastes of cranberries, lemon peel, nuts, and the sweet batter.

As for the Amish friendship starter, it sure is weaving friendships all across blogosphere. Jai and Bee's special way of sending the batter moved me to tears. For a minute I wondered why did these people send me so much love? They hardly know me. But then I smiled and thought, there are still some people who go out of thier way to treat others special.

Passing the starter: I am passing this starter to:

  • Shilpa: For her enthusiasm in baking and taking her decorating skills to a new level.

  • Sharmi: For doing an excellent job with the JFI: Rice round-up.

  • To a local friend B who loves cooking and baking.

  • To my Wilton cake decorating class instructor, Veronica for being an excellent guide and mentor:)

Fellow blogger's outstanding experiments with the Amish Friendship starter:

If you have baked something using the Amish starter, please leave a comment in this post and I will update the list.

Sep 17, 2007

Fodnicha Bhaat

What would you do with a bowl of leftover rice? Would you throw it or make a simple stir fried rice that will be ready in 10 minutes but taste great?

Fodnicha bhaat is one of my favorite rice dishes. Aai used to make it when she would be bored of eating leftover rice alone. Of course, we wouldn't touch the rice being averse to all leftover items. So, mom used to add an onion make the rice spicy.

Fodni is a simple tempering of mustard, asafetida, and turmeric powder added to the rice. You can use the same method to make Fodnichi Poli or Fodnicha Bread by substituting cooked rice with chapati pieces or bread crumbs.

I usually don't make this rice as I seldom have any leftover rice. During weekdays, we make 1 cup rice and 1 cup daal and this suffices us for around 2 days. If ever there is any leftover rice, I simply mix it with some puliogare paste. Mom had made Fodnicha bhaat during our recent India trip and P liked it so much that he made me cook it on a weekend.

Fodnicha bhaat/ Stir fried rice
Ready in: 15 minutes (if you are using left-over rice)


  1. 1 cup cooked rice (left over or fresh)

  2. 4 green chillies - washed and chopped fine

  3. 10-15 curry leaves - washed

  4. 1 small onion - chopped fine

  5. 1 tsp mustard seeds

  6. Pinch of asafetida

  7. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

  8. Salt to taste

  9. 1/4 tsp red chilli powder


  1. Separate the rice in a plate. Add salt to taste and 1/4 tsp red chilli powder in the rice and mix well.

  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium flame. Add 1 tsp mustard seeds, and once they splutter, add asafetida and 1/2 tsp turmeric.

  3. Next, add the green chillies and curry leaves. Fry for around 30 secs. Add the chopped onion and fry till it turns light brown.

  4. Add the rice and mix together all the ingredients. Cover and cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes. Serve hot.

You can add leftover vegetables in this rice to make Mixed Vegetable Stir Fried Rice. Serve with raita or plain yogurt.

Sep 10, 2007

Farasbi Harbhare bhaji

Some vegetables have no taste of their own, or they are really bland. No matter how many spices you add in them, they still remain bland.

For me and my hubby, Farasbi/French beans tops this "bland taste" list. I buy french beans in minimal quantity and use it in pav bhaji, kadhai vegetable, or rice dishes. However, my mom makes a unique combo using this veggie. She combines them with harbhare/black chana and spices them up with coconut, coriander mix. I remember my colleagues complimenting its taste and uniqueness whenever I carried it in my lunch box.

Since the time I have started blogging, I have pestered my mom for several recipes at odd times. I catch her online on Yahoo messenger alternate days, and almost every week there's a recipe request either for a blog event or for increasing my blog posts. Our conversation goes like this:
Me: Mom, tell me the recipe for Farasbi Harbhare vegetable.
Mom: Soak harbhare overnight.
Me: How much?
Mom: Approximately.
Me: What does approximately mean? Tell me, how much should I take to serve 2 people?
Mom: About 1/2 cup.
Me: ok..Then?
Mom: The next day, wash and cut farasbi. Cook both farasbi and harbhare in a pressure cooker.
Me: Hmmm..ok..(Frantically, noting all her instructions in a Word doc or Notepad, ignoring all the spelling mistakes).
Mom: Make a tempering and add vegetables to it. Next, add red chilli powder, salt, garam masala. (She's dictating all this at a super fast speed.)
Me: Go slow, go slow. And repeat the last sentence. How much red chilli and garam masala?
Mom: Andaje.. (meaning approximately)
Me: Aai, I told you "approximately" won't work. I don't want to mess up the dish. Plus, I want to post the recipe on my blog. I can't tell my readers to use approximate spices..They will stop visiting my blog.
Mom: (after much pondering)..Ok..Around 1/4 spoon red chilli, 1 tsp garam masala.
Me: Fine. Tell me the rest of the recipe.

And so, mom dictates the rest with some halts and questions from me. She uses a spicy mixture called 'vatan' in Marathi to spice up this dish. Here's a detailed recipe:

Farasbi Harbhare bhaji/French beans with black chickpeas

  1. Soak 1/2 cup black chickpeas in double the quantity of water, overnight.
  2. The next day, wash and cut the french beans in 1 inch pieces. You should have 1 cup of cut french beans.
  3. Drain the water from the soaked black chickpeas.
  4. Pressure cook the chickpeas and french beans for 2 whistles. You can either cook them together or in separate containers. Once cooked, drain the water and keep aside.
  5. Add 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 2-3 green chillies, and 10-12 coriander sprigs in a mixer/blender. Add water and blend into a paste. This is the spicy mixture or 'vatan' for the vegetable.
  6. Heat oil in a pan over medium flame. Make a tempering using 1 tsp mustard seeds, pinch of asafetida, and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder.
  7. Add the cooked french beans and chickpeas. Mix together.
  8. Next, add 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, salt to taste, 1 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp sugar, and 4 tsp peanut powder. Mix well.
  9. Add the spicy paste made in step 5.
  10. Add around 1/4 cup of water and mix again. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes.

Verdict: When I chatted with mom again, I told her the outcome of the vegetable. We loved it. We will be making this combo again and again. Do give it a try and enjoy its unique taste.

Sep 2, 2007

RCI Orissa round-up

Many thanks to all the enthusiastic participants for sending such lovely entries for RCI: Orissa and thanks to Lakshmi for giving me the oppurtunity to host this event. Most of you (including me) had no idea about Orissa cuisine, but we all took great efforts to dig up some mouth-watering recipes. Sincere apologies from me for not replying to all your mails. This was partly because of my India trip and mostly because some mails landed up in my Spam folder. All those who will be hosting blog events in the future, please remember to check your Spam folder from time to time so that you don't miss any entries. (Updated: I had missed out Cinnamon's and Priyanka's beautiful entries in the round-up. Check it out in the Besara, Mitha, and Meals section.)

A little information about Orissa cuisine before we move to the round-up. Orissa cuisine can be broadly divided into the following categories:

  1. Rice or bhata: comprises of khichdi, jeera rice, and other rice dishes.
  2. Roti: covers the famous luchis made using all purpose flour, puris, and chakuli (a type of dosa made using rava, maida, and besan)
  3. Pitha: These are mostly prepared using rice flour, suji, sugar, or jaggery. Pithas are made by stuffing a sweet mixture into rice balls and then steaming them (just like the modaks). Pithas are prepared during all Orissa festivals and poojas.
  4. Dali: These curries are made using toor daal or chana daal and an abundance of spices. The famous dalis include Dalma and Chana dali.
  5. Bhaja: This is the stir-fried method of cooking vegetables.
  6. Tarkari: These gravy vegetables are made using individual or a combination of vegetables mixed with spices. Famous curries include Ghuguni, Jahni Posta, and Alu Posta.
  7. Khatta: These sweet and sour condiments complete an Orissa meal. Khajur (dates) khatta, dahi nadia, and tomato khatta are some well-known khatta types.
  8. Non-veg items: are made using mutton or fish and served in the form of curry.
  9. Besara: These vegetable curries are made using a base of mustard paste and panch phoron or panch phutan. Panch phutan is a unique mixture of 5 spices - mustard (rai), fenugreek(methi), fennel (saunf), cumin (jeera), and nigella (kalonji). These spices are dry roasted and ground to a powder and used in vegetable preparations.
  10. Mitha: Famous Oriya sweets include Rasgolla and Chena Kheeri.

While most of us explored the Bhata, Roti, Dali, Tarkari, Khatta, Besara, and Mitha categories of Orissa cuisine, we did not explore the Pitha category. Ghuguni, Dalma, and Aloo Posta were clearly the favorites.

I have divided your entries into categories based on the type of dish and the snaps you sent me. Here's presenting RCI: Orissa round-up.


Aloo posta: Suma of Veggie Platter

Alu Posta and Khajur Khatta: Madhuli of My Foodcourt

Begun bhaja: Meenakshi from her Yahoo blog

Bhendi Masala: Mandira of Ahaar

Palette in pastels: Sra of When my soup came alive

Jahni Alu Posto: Aarti of Aarti's Corner

Mashed potatoes with Oriya flair: Nupur of One Hot Stove

Besara and Tarakari

Bhanda gobi khofta curry: Roopa of My Chow Chow Bhaath

Cabbage curry: Nags of For the cook in me

Dahi Baigana: Musical from Musical's kitchen

Ghuguni: Madhu of Ruchi

Ghuguni: Suma of Veggie Platter

Ghuguni: Jyothi of Andhra spicy

Jahni alu rye: Sajeda of Chachi's Kitchen

Saru Besara: Musical from Musical's Kitchen

Phul Gobi do Piaji: Roopa of My Chow Chow Bhaath

(Updated: I had missed out Cinnamon's beautiful entry in the round-up. Check it out.)
Chhatu Besara: Cinnamon of Cinnamon Trial

Non-veg items

Machha Besara :Sandeepa of Bong Mom's Cookbook

Goat curry aka Mangso Tarkari: Pragyan of Cooking at Pragyan's


Luchi with ghuguni : Prema of My cookbook

Luchi: Suma of Veggie Platter

Luchis with Dalma and Anda Saga Rai: Asha of Foodie's Hope

Chana Dali & Piaj Sag Bhaja with Luchi: Sia of Spice Corner


Vegetable Khichadi: Roopa of My Chow Chow Bhaath

Jeera Pakhala: Swapna of Swad

Jeera Rice: Nags of For the cook in me

Orissa Kichdi: Kajal of Kajal Dreams

Tomato rice Oriya style: Srivalli of Cooking 4 all seasons


Rice Pudding: Bee and Jai of Jugalbandi

Rasgulla: Aarti of Aarti's Corner

Nadiya Kheer: Archana of Tried & Tested Recipes

Chena Kheeri: Asha of Foodie's Hope

(Updated: This was missed out earlier.)
Rasabali: Priyanka of Lajawaab

Oriya Meals

Oriya Thali: Sharmi of Neivedyam. Her thali comprises of Dalchini Palau, Phulcobi Do Piaji, Channa Dal, Bhat Payasa, and Puris.

Oriya thali: Linda of Out of the garden presents her special Orissa thali complete with Kolatha Dali, Mushroom Besara, Summer Squash Rai, and Dahi Ke Baigan.

Oriya meal: Hima of SnackORama presents an Orissa meal containing Khichdi, Coconut chutney, Whole brinjal fry.

The Cooker's oriya meal comprises of Tomato-Khajur Khatta and Jhanni Posta.

(Updated: This was missed out earlier.)

Oriya meal: Priyanka's Orissa meal contains Alu-Potal Rasa, Chana Dali, Luchi, and Rasabali.

Hope you all enjoyed this round-up. If I have left out any entry, please mail me and I will update the round-up. Have a great weekend!