Friday, August 30, 2013

Sweet coconut milk

Krishna Janmashtami brings fond memories from the past. One of them is this sweet coconut milk which was a part of our janmashtami celebrations. Team it up with Neer dosa or any other dosa/ idli/ steamed rice balls / string hoppers and you will know what bliss means !!

 This recipe requires no cooking ( happy ?? :) ) . Here goes the "no cook " sweet coconut milk recipe which is simple to make but is great on the palate. You are going to love this, trust me !!

Ingredients :

You can skip the jaggery and cardamom to make plain coconut milk used in preparing various delicacies. The method to be followed is the same.

Grated coconut - 1 cup
Scraped jaggery - 1/4 cup ( you can increase the quantity if you like it sweeter )
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp ( if using whole cardamoms, use 3-4 and grind along with the coconut )

Method :

1. Grind grated coconut to a fine paste by adding water ( approx. 3/4 cup or a little more if required ).
2.  Take a strainer and place a bowl beneath it . Pass the ground coconut through the strainer . Thick coconut milk ( 1st milk ) will get collected in the bowl.
3.  Do not discard the coconut remnants in the strainer. Grind them once again with water ( approx 3/4 cup ) and repeat step 2. This coconut milk ( 2nd milk ) will be thinner than the first. You can repeat the procedure of grinding and straining once again if you wish to.  Give a quick stir so that the thick and thin coconut milk gets mixed well.
4.  Add cardamom powder and scraped jaggery to the coconut milk and mix well. Continue stirring till all the jaggery gets dissolved. Serve immediately or refrigerate, if using later since it might go bad pretty soon because of uncooked coconut.
5.  Serve with neer dosa or any dosa / idli/ string hoppers

Sending this to "Walking through memory lane " hosted by Avika flagged off by Gayathri 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Krishna Janmashtami spread - Neer dosa with sweet coconut milk and coconut chutney

Krishna Janmashtami marks the birth of our beloved Lord Krishna and is a day of religious fervor and celebration. Lord Krishna symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and hence this day brings hope that no matter what, ultimately, goodness and truth will prevail.

We celebrate this day with a typical Manglorean treat - Neer dosa with sweet coconut milk and coconut chutney. Old memories come flooding by on this day and I remember my mum churning out neer dosas  for the midnight feast...yes, we would wait for the 12 0' clock strike signaling the birth of Lord Krishna to start our dinner. The ringing of bells in the nearby temple would echo all around the sleepy colony and mark the birth of Balkrishna. The feeling is ethereal…sheer bliss !!

Once the clock struck 12, we would offer our prayers to the Lord and get down to enjoy the special feast. Now, I have moved to a different country where there is no ringing of the temple bells nor is there dahi handi ( breaking of the earthen pot by a human pyramid ) which invariable follows Krishna  Janmashtami. But I do have a small celebration at home and the joy pervading the house is priceless !!

Im sharing here the recipe of Neer dosa. Neer means water and dosa is well, dosa :) The  word neer comes from the fact that this dosa batter, unlike the regular batter, has a very watery consistency giving you really thin and soft melt-in-the-mouth dosas …Neer dosas do not need fermentation and hence for non-planners like me, they are a blessing in disguise. It goes well with most spicy chutneys.

Recipe source : My mum

Ingredients :
Raw rice  - 2 cups
Grated fresh coconut ( optional but lends a wonderful taste ) - 1/2 cup
Salt - to taste
Oil - to grease the tawa

Method :

1.  Wash and soak raw rice for a minimum of 2 hours.
2.  Drain the water and grind it to a fine paste with grated coconut adding water little at a time. *
3.  Once ground finely, add water till the batter has a watery consistency.
4.  Heat a non stick tawa/ griddle . In case of non stick, you needn't apply oil but if in doubt, grease the tawa with very little oil *
5.  Take a ladleful of the batter and start pouring from the edges of the tawa towards the center ( will need some practice ). Quickly swirl the tawa so that the batter covers the empty spaces. Close the tawa with a lid and let it cook for about 20- 30 seconds. There is no need to flip. With the help of a wooden spatula, fold the neer dosa in half and fold this half again to get a quarter ( triangle shape ).If you find the neer dosa to be thick at this stage, add a little more water in the batter and continue. You will get the right consistency after judging 2-3 dosas.
6.  Transfer the dosas to a cooling rack / mesh or they will become soggy due to the moisture.
7.  Enjoy hot with sweet coconut milk and coconut chutney.

Notes :
1. Do not add too much water while grinding rice since it will be difficult to grind it to a fine consistence. Add water, little at a time.
2.  To grease the skillet with oil, I use a tiny top segment of an onion ( with the stem intact for me to hold the piece ). I simply dip the flat end of this onion piece in oil and grease the skillet by rubbing it all over. The dosas do not stick to the pan and also give a nice flavor.

Sending this recipe to Healthy breakfast event hosted by Nandoo’s kitchen

and to Nivedhanam's  South Indian Cooking Series  and to Anu's healthy kitchen

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I remember my aunts ( my mom's sisters ) making nankahatis when I was a child. My grandmother didn't own an oven so my aunts would just make the dough and off they would march to the friendly neighborhood bakery to bake them in their large ovens. These are my earliest memories of nankhatais. I have gobbled up a number of them ever since and fell in love with them. But I never summoned up the courage to bake them myself assuming that so much of culinary expertise would go into making these beauties. But I was wrong and well, I was happy about being wrong :) These are really simple to bake and gets done in no time. Nothing could stop me now !!! I went ahead to bake them and so wonderful they turned out to be.

Nankhatais, like most Indian dishes, can be made in a variety of ways. Here I have made nankhatais using maida only. It can be made various combinations of maida, sooji and besan.

Recipe source : Shab's cuisine
Gives : 18 - 20 Nankhatais.
Ingredients :

Plain flour - 1 cup
Ghee / Unsalted butter ( softened at room temperature ) - 1/2 cup
Powdered sugar - 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Almond, cashew or pistachios ( optional ) - for garnishing

Method :

1. Sift together plain flour, cardamom powder  and salt and keep aside.
2. Cream butter ( or ghee ) and sugar together until the butter turns pale.
3. Add the flour mixture to the butter - sugar mixture in three parts and mix well to form a smooth dough. The dough should just come together to form a ball. Resist the urge to add more flour if you can easily pinch off balls from the dough.
4. Preheat the oven to 180  degrees celcius and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
5. Make about 18-20 balls from the dough and place them on the baking tray. Take care to leave space between two balls since they tend to expand on baking. If you want flattened nankhatais, gently press the dough balls before baking. You can place almonds, cashews or pistachios in the center of each ball and press the nut.
6. Bake at 180 degrees celcius for 15 minutes.  Check once at the end of 10 minutes because the surface of the nankhatais must not change color.

Notes :
1.  The surface of the nankhatais might appear soft at the end of baking but don't over bake them. They will harden once cooled.
2.   Bake only till the underside and the edges of the nankhatais turn (very) slightly brown.
3.  Traditional nankhatais have a flat bottom and dome shaped surface. Do not press the dough balls if you wish to have this shape. But if you want flattened cookies, press the dough balls gently and then bake.

Sending this recipe to "Whats with my cuppa 2 " hosted by Avika and Nupur's blog

and to “Bake fest “ hosted by Palachinka flagged off by Vardhini

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fish (Salmon) tikka

Fish tikka has always fascinated me and why wont it ? It is such a healthy appetizer without compromising upon the taste at all.  It, when served with capsicum and tomato makes for a beautifully laid out spread too….sure to win hearts when you are planning to host dinner for your friends !!

I had a guest coming over too…someone who I recently befriended. What got us talking ( endlessly !!) was our common passion …. cooking, baking and an eagerness to learn more. I decided to make fish tikkas as appetizers when I invited her over for dinner. This was my first attempt at fish tikkas and a successful one at that. You really can't go wrong with it , with just the right amount of spices. It doesn't take long too ( except for the marination time ) which is just my kinda recipe ….quick yet drool worthy !!!

It is simple to make but looks so exotic…I secretly feel it is such a cheat way of garnering some praise for one's culinary skills..I looovvveee such dishes :) Go ahead, make these and be prepared to be showered with heaps of praise :)

Ingredients :

You can replace fish with chicken to make chicken tikkas.

Serves : 2 - 3

Boneless fish ( I used salmon fillets )   - 300 - 350 gms, skin peeled and cubed into bite sized pieces
Capsicum - 1, cubed into bite sized pieces
Onion-  1/2, cubed into bite sized pieces
Firm tomato - 1 , pulp and seeds removed and cut into bite sized squares ( or you can use cherry
                                                                                                                                        tomatoes )
Skewers for holding the pieces

Marinade :
Thick yoghurt - 1/4 cup
Ginger-garlic paste - 1  tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1  tbsp ( I like my tikkas spicy but you can adjust it according to your
                                desired spice level )
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Lemon juice - 1/2 tbsp
Oil - 1 tbsp

Method :

1. Clean the fish pieces and pat dry them. Marinate them with all the ingredients given under "Marinade" and keep in the refrigerator for about an hour or more ( the longer the marination period, the better ). You can also keep it overnight in the refrigerator. 
2.  Mix the capsicum, onion and tomato in the marinade just before grilling.Thread the marinated fish pieces onto skewers alternating with capsicum, onion and tomato in desired sequence.
3.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius on broil/ grill.
4.  Place the skewers on a  grill rack and place the grill rack on the topmost shelf, closest to the upper heating element. Do not forget to place a drip tray below the grill rack since water will start dripping as the fish pieces get grilled.
5.  Grill the fish for about 15-20 minutes ( depending upon the oven ) turning the skewers once in between for the fish to get grilled evenly. 
6. Remove from the oven. Serve hot with mint chutney, chat masala and lemon wedges.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spinach / palak cutlets

Whenever I bring home a bunch of spinach, I invariably (and always with a sense of guilt ) , postpone using it up until the fresh green leaves slowly start giving way to black ones. It is then that they catch my attention and then bringing it back from the throes of death , I end up with a palak dish that day. Maybe, it has to do something with the fact that Spinach was never really my best friend. Actually, none of the oh-so-healthy leafy vegetables are ( Sigh !). 

This time, when I brought this fresh bunch of spinach, I was determined not to let it shrivel and wither away.  The very same day, I took it out and set out to make a healthy cutlet out of it. Just mix up all the ingredients , shallow fry and have a lip smacking and healthy appetizer/ snack . So what are you waiting for ? Grab those ingredients, fasten the apron strings and get goes the recipe…

Ingredients :

Makes 8 - 10 medium sized cutlets

Spinach ( palak ) - 1 big bunch
Potatoes, boiled and mashed - 2 large or 3 medium sized
Peas, steamed and lightly mashed  - 1/3 cup
Green chillies, chopped - 2
Ginger, peeled and grated (or finely chopped or pounded) - 1/2 inch piece
Coriander leaves, finely chopped -  1/4 cup
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp ( more or less depending upon the desired spice level )
Coriander powder powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice - 1/2 tbsp
Semolina or bread crumbs (optional ) - for coating
Salt - to taste
Oil - for shallow frying

Method :

1.  Wash and clean the spinach leaves. Pat them dry.
2.  Blanch the spinach leaves thus : Bring a large pot of water to boil. You can add little salt . Once it gets boiled, turn off the heat. Immerse the spinach leaves in this hot water and close the vessel with a lid. Keep like this for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the lid and pass the water with the spinach through a colander . The spinach leaves will get collected in the colander. Run cold water through the leaves to stop the process of blanching and to preserve the nutrients. Squeeze out all excess water from the leaves. Chop them and keep aside.
3.  In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except oil and make 8-10 balls out of it. If the mixture is too sticky, apply little oil on your palms while forming balls.  Flatten the ball into thick discs ( or whatever shape you desire ).
4.  You can shallow fry the cutlets straightway or coat them with semolina or breadcrumbs and then fry. They taste good, either ways ( I have included pictures of both ). Serve hot with tomato ketchup or chutney of your choice.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Homemade pizza

 Pizza is an absolute favorite with the husband. So adhering to the age old saying " The way to a man's heart is through his stomach " , pizza makes its appearance in my kitchen quite often. It is quite effortless to make and is such a versatile dish that you can pretty much experiment with the toppings. If you have a family with differing taste buds, simple bake small sized pizzas for each family member with their favorite toppings …Such a feat it will be to keep them all happy at the same time :)

We would often buy pizza from the oh-so-famous "Pizza Hut " or " Dominoes ". When, we moved to Singapore, Canadian pizza became a rage ( obviously so, since they have the one-for-one offer and I felt less guilty about buying pizza way too often :) ) Celebration for us means , binging on pizzas n colas, like the time when India won the world cup in 2011. We were ecstatic and celebrating was imminent. And so, pizza and coke it was for us. I wanted to learn to make this at home so I don't always buy it from the pizza outlets,simply because it is too expensive and also homemade is always better, considering hygiene and health.

My first pizza recipe was from a cookbook Sugraas-siddhi from Mrs. Uma Amrute, my cooking class teacher. The pizza was a hit and I made it a second and a third time too. Nevertheless, I , did experiment with different recipes from the internet . I stumbled upon this recipe during one such browsing session from Simply Recipes. The crust was perfect and is such a breeze to make it as well. Even baking beginners won't fail… Try it for yourself, you will have a beaming family asking for more !!

Recipe source : Simply Recipes

Ingredients :

Makes one 10 - 12 inch pizza

For the dough
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour or maida ( original recipe recommends bread flour )
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Pizza topping  :
1/4 cup Pizza sauce ( See recipe here )
2 tbsp Tomato sauce ( optional )
150 - 200 gms boiled chicken ( cut into pieces )
2 tsp kebab powder
8 - 10 pineapple cubes ( fresh or canned …drain the liquid when using canned )
1/2 red capsicum, chopped into tiny cubes
1/2 green capsicum, chopped into tiny cubes
1/4 large white onion, thinly sliced ( You can use regular red onion here )
Grated cheese ( I used mozzarella )…enough to cover the base of the pizza

Method :
1. Marinate the boiled chicken pieces with the kebab powder and keep  for about 3-4 hours.After that, shallow fry in a pan and keep aside.
2. Pour warm water in a large bowl ( or a wide surfaced deep plate ) and sprinkle yeast on it and let it sit for 5 minutes till it is completely dissolved. You may stir it to completely dissolve , if need be.
3.  Mix in the olive oil, salt, sugar and the flour. Knead to make a smooth dough. If the dough becomes too sticky, you can sprinkle in a little more dough.
4.  Place the dough in a bowl lightly coated with olive oil. Turn the dough around so that it gets coated with the oil. Cover it with a plastic wrap ( or a kitchen towel ) and let sit in a warm place till the dough doubles up in size ( takes about 1 1/2 hrs…more or less depending upon the warmth of the place  ). After that, remove the plastic wrap and punch down the dough. Form into a ball and let it sit for another 10 mins. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
5.  On a floured work surface, take the ball of dough and start flattening it to form  a 10-12 inch circle using your finger tips. If the dough is no too elastic to be stretched merely with hands, use a rolling pin and gently flatten it. You can pinch the edges to form a lip. Transfer it to a baking tray lined with baking paper.
6.  Spread pizza sauce and tomato sauce on the dough. Then sprinkle some grated cheese to cover it up. Add the shallow fried chicken pieces, pineapple, red and green capsicum and onion.
7.  Bake for about 10-15 mins or until the pizza base and cheese turns brown.

Notes :
1. The toppings and their quantities can be varied according to one's taste and liking.
2. The chicken can be substituted with paneer for a vegetarian version of this pizza.
3.  I have spread grated cheese on the base of the pizza. You can also sprinkle some on the top towards the end of baking.
4. I have used store bought kebab powder to marinate the chicken. Alternatively, you could also marinate the chicken with a mixture of red chill powder, turmeric powder, ginger - garlic paste, lemon juice and salt.
5. If the place isn't warm enough for the dough to rise, switch on the oven light ( don't turn on the oven ) and place the dough inside the oven. Alternatively, you can switch on the radiator and place the dough near it . It will rise beautifully.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pizza sauce

Up until a few months back, I , invariably used tomato sauce for my homemade pizzas. But , this time, I was determined to make pizza sauce of my own, just to get that kick out of making everything from scratch. Well, I could also blog about it :)

The hunt began and found innumerable recipes for pizza sauce on the internet. I couldn't zero in on any one particular recipe so based on my own instincts and the taste of the family, I decided upon this version of pizza sauce. It is simple to make and lends a wonderful flavor  to your pizza. Of course, you can substitute it with store bought tomato sauce but making this pizza sauce yourself is immense satisfaction !! Try it and you will agree :)


This recipe yields sauce for one large pizza

Ingredients :

Tomatoes  -  2 large 
Garlic cloves, finely chopped -  2 - 3
Herbs mix ( I used store bought italian seasoning ) - 1 tsp ….( you can use basil and oregano )
Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 1 tsp 
Salt -  to taste  ( I used 1/2 tsp )
Olive oil - 1 tsp

Method :

1.  Puree the tomatoes and keep aside.
2.  Heat oil in a pan and add chopped garlic.
3.  Once the garlic turns brown, add the tomato puree and give a quick stir. 
4.  Add the herbs mix, pepper, salt and sugar. Mix well.
5.  Let the mixture simmer on low flame till the sauce thickens a bit. It will take roughly about 8 minutes.
6.  Remove from fire and cool. There, you go !!! Spread it on your base and with a few toppings thrown in, you are in for a delicious treat !!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Penne pasta in white sauce

For someone who grew up in a typical South Indian household, breakfast meant idli/ dosa and lunch was synonymous with rice and a coconut based gravy. Needless to say, pasta was as foreign to me as well, idli/ dosa is to an Italian ( giggle, grin, chuckle ) !! Fast forward to a few years later. Packets of instant pasta flooded the markets and curious to taste this exotic sounding food, I bought it one day and mum made it for me. I didn't quite like it and obviously so, pasta never reappeared in my house for a long time again.

A couple of years passed and a lot had changed. Marriage and moving to a different part of the world meant that I was in sole charge of the kitchen . I used to cook the usual fare everyday and one such day , out of boredom, I decided to try something new. A colleague at workplace used to bring pasta for lunch quite often and I had slowly begun to like it. Well, to break the ice between the two of us ( pasta and me :) ), I decided to try making it at home once again ( Well ok, Im not counting the first try as mine..:) ). I gathered all that was required and began, albeit, a little wary all the while !!

That was the first time but not the last !! Both, me and hubby loved the outcome :) and so I went on to cook pasta more often than before. It is so easy to prepare and gets done so quickly that it is one of those dishes which I decide upon when I don't feel like working forever in the kitchen. Pasta, like pizza is quite a versatile dish and you can add your favorite veggies and meat in desired proportions . Here, I have added carrot, peas and chicken.


Ingredients :

Penne pasta  -  1 cup
Chicken, boiled and shredded or cut into tin pieces -  150 gms
Carrot, finely chopped - 1
Peas - 1/2 cup
Garlic cloves, finely chopped - 2-3
White sauce ( See recipe here ) - 1 cup
Red chilli flakes (optional ).. - 1/2 tsp ( See notes below )
Mixed herbs or basil, oregano and thyme  (I used store bought pasta spice mix ) - as per taste
Grated cheese (optional ) - 2 tbsp
Olive oil - 1/2 tsp + 2 tsp
Salt - to taste

Method :
1.  Boil about 8 - 10 cups water. Add pasta, 1/2 tsp oil and a pinch of salt and cook till al dente ( pasta should be soft but firm ).
2.  Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan. Add chopped garlic cloves and sauté till they turn brown.
3.  Add the vegetables ( here carrot and peas ) and the chicken pieces ( shreds ) and stir for a while.
Do not overcook the vegetables…they must be  crunchy.
4.  Add the pasta, red chilli flakes, salt to taste and mix well.
5.  Add the pasta sauce and mix well so that all the pasta and the veggies are coated well.
6.  Add herbs and grated cheese and mix. The cheese will melt in the hot pasta. Serve with a glass of wine…heaven foodified :)

1. While adding the seasoning and grated cheese to the pasta, please bear in mind that the white sauce for pasta already contains these two ingredients. So, use them minimally in the pasta.
2.  The pasta sauce contains salt so adjust salt accordingly in the pasta.
3.  For the red chilli flakes, I just pulsed  few dry red chillies in the blender. Do not add water.

White sauce for pasta

This recipe is for the white sauce used in pasta. It is a creamy and rich sauce and lends a wonderful flavor to  pasta. It is quite easy too and requires minimal ingredients.


Ingredients :

Plain flour ( maida ) - 2tbsp
Butter - 2 tbsp
Milk, boiled and cooled - 2 cups
Pasta spice mix or your favorite herbs - as per taste ( I added 1/2 tsp of the spice mix)
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Grated cheese - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste

Method :

1.  Melt butter in a pan . Then add the plain flour and mix them together. The mixture will turn lumpy.
2.  Now, add 1/2 cup milk in the butter-flour mixture and mix well to remove lumps. Now, pour in the remaining milk gradually stirring continuously and on low flame.
3.  Stir the mixture continuously so as not to burn the milk. Gradually the milk will thicken.
4.  Add the herbs mix, pepper and salt and mix well.
5.  Lastly, add the grated cheese on top and give a quick stir. The cheese will melt in the hot pasta.
6.  You can use this sauce immediately or store in the refrigerator for further use. But do not keep for long since it is devoid of preservatives.  Use within 2-3 days.

Here's the recipe for Penne pasta made using this white sauce.