Side Dishes for Rotis/Dosas/ Naan.

Alu Rassewale.

Alu Rassewale simply means the gravy form of the humble potatoes. .This original recipe was given to me by my good friend Ritu. She had called all of us home one morning for a Kanya Pooja and had made like 60 of the softest puris you have ever eaten and this amazing Alu Rassewale to go with it.  What struck me most about the dish was its simplicity and ease of preparation. Also,  this has no onions so it could be had on any day which makes it  an instant hit..And of course, between you and me, all of us are a little partial to any dish with potatoes…and this one was no exception. I had asked Ritu to come home one day and show me how to do it , as she does not believe in the measures and methods rule…She looks at  the numbers of potates, and the rest simply happens. My proportions are simply an approximation of what it could have been.


3 or 4 medium to big Potatoes.(Boiled and mashed to 1 inch sized chunks)

4 medium sized Tomatoes chopped in to small pieces.

1 cup Water.

Turmeric a  pinch.

1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder

1 Tsp Dhania Powder.

1/4 Tsp Garam Masala

1 Tsp Salt

Curry Leaves, Oil,Jeera to season.


  • Mix all the powders (turmeric,red chilli powder, dhania powder, garam masala powder and salt) in a little container and add 1/8 cup of water and dole it in to a paste.
  • Pour oil in a kadai, allow it to get hot, add jeera and curry leaves and immediately add the paste.
  • Allow 2-3 seconds for the paste to cook in the oil and add the chopped tomatoes and allow to cook till mushy.
  • Add the mashed potatoes and mix in the required salt as well. You may want to moderate the salt as we have already added a spoon with the powders.
  • Let this curry cook for a few minutes and now add a cup of water and allow to simmer for a good ten minutes.
  • Switch off the stove and garnish with chopped corrainder.
  • Serve HOT with puris or parathas.



At a loss for words???

My little one, S, was watching me empty the clothes out from the washer to the dryer – a mundane scene from everyday at home…and she suddenly wanted to know “Where is the gift that Shruti didi gifted you, on  your b`day?

I, for one, had no clue what Shruti had gifted to me on my bday that had happened in April..she was desperately trying to remind me some thing that was easily on top of her head …

“It was a glass tumbler with chop-sticks” , she said…Now she really had be flummoxed…I could`nt for the life of me imagine why Shruti would give me a glass tumbler that too filled with chopsticks…She was really at a loss for words now…She desperately wanted me to remember..”It makes the room smell nice”, she twitted in…Then it struck me in a flash!!! Shruti had gifted me a lovely Lavender flavoured reed diffuser!!!!!

Italian Cuisine.

Baked Spaghetti with Roasted summer vegetables.

My forays in to italian cooking were actually inspired by Giada Di Laurentis of food tv fame. I love the way she presents her dishes, simple, striaght and very delectable. Of course my various visits to Olive Garden also were an additional motivation to venture in to this style of cooking. I always loved the calm fresh beauty of the tuscan countryside from what little I had seen on travel blogs and glossy travel magazines.

Spaghetti and roasted vegetables.

Baked Spaghetti with roasted summer vegetables, is an italian dish that could easily be refixed a hundred different ways, all of them leading to decadent different end results, all of them being extremely tastly and satisfying. I think of it more as a comfort food during the cold winter months. Its easily a favourite among my friends and I am sure my sisters S, and D would love to have tasted it.


Spagetti Pasta          – 1/2 a Box (Barilla/Great Value/Trader Joe`s or whatever)(You could also substitute any pasta like penne, rigatoni,bowtie)

Yellow Squash         – 2 (Cut in to 1 inch long strips)

Onions                         – 1 (Cut in to 1 inch long strips)

Zuchinni                     –  2 ( Cut in to 1  inch cubes)

Peppers                       – 2 (Cored and cut in to 1 inch wide strips)

Dried Basil                 – 1/2 Tsp

Dried oregano          –  1/2 Tsp

Dried Thyme            – 1/2 Tsp (Optional)

Dried Parsley           – 1/2 Tsp

Black Pepper            – Crushed off a grinder – 1 Tsp


Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1/3 cup

Garlic                         – 5-6 pods

Marinana Sauce     – 2-3  cups or 1 Bottle of Store Bought sauce.

Mozarella Cheese  – Grated 1/2 cup – (Store bought park skim mozarella can be used a  low cal option).

Parmesan Cheese  – 1/3 cup.

Lemon Zest              – 1 tsp


All the dried herbs could be got at any store like Trader Joe`s or Walmart at the Spices section.

Fresh herbs are always a pleasure to cook with, so plan cooking italian,If you get fresh herbs , as they have a very short shelf life.

All the measurements of cheese and herbs and salt and pepper are completely indicative. If you want to go easy on the cheese, or increase the pepper for a kick, or reduce the oregano, feel free to do so.


  • Start by boiling the pasta in a big container filled with water and salt. Allow the pasta to cook for 8 mins or as per the directions provided on the cover.
  • Boil the pasta till its done “Al Dente”. This is a point when the pasta is about 60% cooked and is firm and has a bite to it. The pasta will finish cooking with the vegetables and the sauce in the oven. Drain in a colander.
  • In the meantime, take a cup and pour the Extra Virgin Olive Oil in to it.  Add finely chopped garlic pieces to the oil, so the garlic can sort of marinate in the oil and and flavour it.
  • Garlic,herbs and lemon zest marinate in Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Garlic,herbs and lemon zest marinate in Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Add crushed pepper, freshly chopped parsley ( or dried) and lemon zest and allow to sit for ten mins.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 F
  • Grease  a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, and onions, and drizzle the dried herbs like basil, oregano and parsley and then pour the olive oil garlic herb mix on the veggies. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 12-13 mins till they are tender.
  • Veggies, ready to get roased
    Veggies, ready to get roased
  • In a large baking dish. grease the bottom and the sides and pour the semi cooked pasta, roasted veggies, marinara sauce, half of the mozarella cheese, salt and then top it with the remaining grated mozarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 25 mins till the cheese gts golden on top.
  • Serve Hot with ciabatta bread.
Italian Cuisine.

Pasta Sauce….

Many of my friends who try out my italian want to know whats the best pasta sauce that should be used ? Should it be made from scratch? Or should it be store bought? Well, I feel that there is no comparison to making your own pasta sauce from scratch. I love making my own pesto and marinara sauces. But basil is a litte hard to come by in this season. I normally buy a box of fresh organic basil from Trader Joe`s for the best pesto sauce. In times of non-availability, the store bought one should do…

Mezzetta - Napa Valley Bistro - Roasted Arrabita.

These days Walmart stocks a variety of pasta sauces – Emeril, Newman etc. But my favourite is the Mezzetta Naps Valley Bistro`s sauces in my vegetarian flavours – Mediterranenan Olive, Homemade Style Marinara & Roasted Arrabiata. The Pesto sauce from Trader Joe`s is also a personal favourite.

Bon Appetit!!!

Poriyals / Kootu Varieties.

Cabbage & Peas Poriyal.

Cabbage & Peas Poriyal
Cabbage & Peas Poriyal

Cabbage,as a vegetable  is an excellent source of Vitamin C. It also contains significant amounts of glutamine, an amino acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties, and an excellent source of dietary fibre. Cabbage as a vegetable was very common in my household. Probably thats why I was not a great fan of it. To make it a little more interesting my mami would add peas to the cabbage liberally. I am posting this as part of “Everyday Samayal”.


Cabbage          –  1/2 sliced and chopped in to small pieces.

Peas                   –  1/4 cup.

Coconut           – 2 spoons

Green Chilli    – 1 or 2

Salt, Hing.


Urad Dhal, Mustard, Curry Leaves.


  • Place a kadai on the stove. Add 2 spoons of oil and when warm, slowly add urad dhal.  When it starts to brown, add the mustard and curry leaves.
  • Slowly add the cabbage and the peas and stir in well. Add salt, hing.
  • Cover and cook for ten mins or as long as the cabbage is well cooked.
  • Quickly pulse in the mixer 2 green chillis and coconut.
  • Add to the cabbage and mix in well.
  • Serve HOT with Drumstick sambar or Pavakkai Pitlae.

Life Outside…

This morning was a little choatic after a lovely day home with my daughter yesterday as the schools here were closed on account of snow. Its always a little more difficult when you get a day off from daily routine, during the midweek….Anyways, S showered and dressed and grudgingly drank up her Ragimalt.  She does have a bone with the Ragimalt drink. She wants Bournvita every single tme she drinks her milk!!!

Outside my patio...
Outside my patio...

When dad and daughter left for school, I stole a minute to go to the patio to drink in the beauty of the morning. Still, around me, not even a whisper of wind…White..Even the lake ahead of my patio, had some how gotten drawn in to the cold of the morning and frozen!  Lovely moment, me and the white of the snow. …Should I take a walk there? I was wildly contemplating, when S called to say that schools were closed and they were on the way home…oh well…its another day !

Kerala / Palakkad Recipes. · Sambar / Rasam / Kuzhambu Varieties.

Pavakkai Pitlae.


Definitely an acquired taste, bitter gourd (Latin Momordica charantia) is also called Balsam pear or bitter melon. Young immature bitter gourds are the best for cooking: the skin is bright green in color, the flesh inside is white, and the seeds are small and tender.Bitter gourd contains vitamin A, B1, B2, and C. It also contains minerals like calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper and potassium.It helps purify blood tissue, enhances digestion, and stimulates the liver.

When I was a small girl, I used to watch my grandfather have his daily dose of this bitter vegetable and wonder why he would even want to try?? He was a diabetic, but a very strict person in his diet. You could not tempt him to eat anything that he did not want to. As a rule, there were no exclusions for any of us, kids to avoid any vegetables. No matter what is cooked, had to partaken by all of us. That way, I would also get a small dash of the pavakkai from my mami, as she had to play with the rules. Nevertheless, I knew she would just dollop a little as she knew how much I hated it. As days went by, I actually started liking this vegetable..Although Madurai appa left us in 1995, I still remember him everytime I eat this vegetable, in whatever form I make it.

Today as I had saved a little after making the Pavakka fry, I decided to make the Pitlae. I am guessing this is the “Pal Brahm” way of doing it, but I can never be too sure. It`s simple and easy and very good for health.


Bitter Gourd          – 1/2 de-seeded and chopped.

Tamarind              – 11/2 cups of juice extracted.

Toor Dhal              – Cooked 1/4 cup

Turmeric               – A pinch.

Salt, Hing, Curry Leaves

To Roast in Oil:

Bengal Gram          – 2 spoons

Pepper                 – 8-10

Red Chillis             – 3-4.

Coconut                – 1/4 cup.


  • Take a kadai and pour a spoon of oil, when warm add mustard and allow to splutter.
  • Add curry leaves and immediately the chopped bitter-gourd and allow to saute for 3-4 mins.
  • We do this to get a better flavour as well as to slightly tone down the bitterness of the bitter-gourd.
  • Now add the extracted tamarind juice.
  • Add sufficient salt, hing, and turmeric and allow to boil on medium heat.
  • Roast the aforementioned ingredients in oil and grind to a smooth paste with water and set aside.
  • When the tamarind mixture along with the vegetable is reduced by 1/3`rd, and when you feel that the raw smell is done with, add the ground paste, along with the cooked toor dhal.
  • Stir well and allow to boil. Finally add curry leaves and a chopped cilantro.
  • Serve Hot with your favourite side dish or Cabbage Poduthuval.

No Need of Onions!!! · Sambar / Rasam / Kuzhambu Varieties.

Milagu Kuzhambu (Pepper Gravy simmered in tamarind and spices cooked with baby brinjals)

Delicious Pepper Kuzhambu with whole brinjals.
Delicious Pepper Kuzhambu with whole brinjals.

I remember the first time I ever had it in my Mom in law`s place in Srirangam….She had made her special dishes, as we were visiting and when I had it, my senses simply shot up. It was all the more tantalising as she had used teeny tiny whole brinjals, to float and take in the flavours of the gravy. That trip I told her that I simpy had to have the recipe and she more than generously passed it on to me. Since then its been a favourite of mine, as it can be made as a spicy side for Pongal, to mix with rice, or  simply in its thicker form to take with delicious “thayir sadam”…I usually make a lot of it ahead so it is an inclusion to my husband`s plate almost everyday.

To all my friends in Enclave, here it is…to look up and try, whenever….


Black Pepper          – 1 spoon

Bengal Gram           – 1 spoon

Red Chillis                – 3

Dhania                       – 3/4 spoon

Coconut                    – 3 spoons


Tamarind                 – Ball sized soaked or eqv Tamarind Paste.

Brinjals                     –  4 – 5 small ones washed and cleaned.

Curry Leaves, Salt.



  • First saute the pepper alone in a spoon of ghee and set aside to cool in the mixer jar.
  • Fry the remaining ingredients in oil, ie,  bengal gram, dhania, red chilli and finally add the coconut in the end just for a few seconds.
  • Add a  little water and grind all this  is to smooth paste.
  • Take a container, and add the required quantity of the tamarind paste and dilute. Optionally extract the tamarind juice and keep.
  • Add the ground paste, salt, turmeric, hing, curry leaves to the tamarind juice and keep on stove.
  • Slowly add whole small brinjals along with stalk in to the vessel.
  • Keep the kuzhambu on medium low and allow to simmer enough to reduce by one third.
  • Delicious Milagu Kuzhambu is ready to be eaten with rice or as a side for Venn Pongal.

Sending this delicious home made preparation to Think Spice Think Pepper – hosted by Dil Se of Divya Vikram and started by Sunita.


Eggless Cakes

Eggless Vanilla-Choclate-Orange Marble Cake.

Eggless Vanilla-Choclate-Orange Marble Cake.
Eggless Vanilla-Choclate-Orange Marble Cake.

One of the best things that I love about eggless cake is the ability to feast on it without any fear of day or occassion. I always seemed to run out of ideas for a sweet as a Naivedhyam on Fridays and for other gatherings. This is a great option for those quick last minute addition to picnics or parties…


All purpose flour     – 2 cups

Whole Milk             – 2 cups

Sugar                      – 1 1/4 cups

Oil                          – 1/2 cup

Vanilla Essence       – 1 – 2 Tsp

Cocoa Powder        – 1/4 cup. (Optionally you could use Bournvita too, but watch out for your sugar proportions!)

Orange zest             – From one whole orange.

Baking soda            – 1 Tsp

Baking Powder        – 1 Tsp

Orange food color   – A pinch


  • Preheat the oven to 350 F and keep the baking tray all ready by spraying it with butter spray or lining it with parchment paper.
  • Measure out the milk, and add the oil, pure vanilla extract and sugar and whisk  to dissolve any clumps.
  • Take another dry mixing bowl and measure out the 2 cups of  flour. The measure should be levelled and exact and not heaped.
  • To this add the baking soda and baking powder and mix lightly.
  • Slowly incorporate the dry mixture little by little in to the wet mix and whisk lightly taking caution not to overmix as this might remove all the air and rob the cake of the sponginess.
  • This your base cake batter. Remove two small portions to incorporate the orange and the choclate flavour.
  • To one portion add the bournvita/cocoa powder and mix well.
  • To the second portion of batter add a pinch of orange food colour and all of the orange zest.
  • Now take a heavy 9″ pan and pour out the plain vanilla batter.
  • Take the chocolate batter and randomly pour it in the cake pan.
  • Now repeat the process with the orange portion.
  • With a butter knife/toothpick in any direction to create a marble effect.
Marble Cake
Marble Cake
  • Pop the cake pan and allow 35 – 40 mins for the cake to get done.Make sure by inserting a tooth pick to see if it comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool and enjoy heavenly scented cake afloat with the aromas from the orange zest and vanilla.