It has been 7 years since Anubhavati was born and I must say it has been an amazing ride! The journey has taught me a lot, not only in documenting what I cook for my family, but more in terms of photography, presentation and definitely my writing skills. Many of my readers mention that they enjoy the little titbit or narrative that comes before the actual recipe itself!!
Pilafs and one pot meals are always a pleasure to cook up and serve as they enable to act as a source of carbohydrate, protein and vitamins all in one…not to mention the fact that they are fuss free and easy. One of my favorite has been my mom`s version of the mixed vegetable rice – Vegetable bhath. My kids love this version as the rice is pinkish red because of the addition of beetroot! They also love my Mint Rice and the Tomato Rice that I make!
This one was passed on to me by a friend K and she was more than happy to let me feature it on the blog. The star ingredient of this rice is really Green Chillies. The heat and the spice is only from the chilies and the resulting flavour is unique and very delicious.
2 Cups Basmati Rice.
1 Cup Peas.
6-7 Green Chillies.(Reduce if needed).
1 Bunch Cilantro.
1/2 Tsp Garam Masala.
1 Tsp Dhania Powder.
1 Onion chopped.
1/3 Cup Coconut Milk Powder.
Grind the cilantro, cashews and the green chillies to a coarse paste adding NO water. The green chillies are the star ingredient here and the aroma and flavour is allowed to shine in the dish. We do not add any red chilli powder.
Dice the onions, carrots, and potatoes if needed, and thaw out the peas and corn if using.
Soak the basmati rice in water for about 30 minutes.
Take a pressure pan and add about 2-3 tsp of ghee or oil.
Season with bay leaf, cloves and cardamom crushed. When the aroma starts wafting from the seasoning, add the chopped onions.
When the onions are sauteed, add all the chopped veggies, salt and allow it to cook halfway through.
Add the pulsed chilli-cilantro paste and mix it in. Now follow with all the dry spices – Turmeric Powder, Dhania Powder and Garam Masala.
The mixture has to get cooked and the raw smell from the spices should slowly disappear.
Now add the soaked and drained rice, coconut milk powder and about 2 1/2 – 3 cups of water depending on the final consistency. Add salt to taste. You could also add a spoon of ghee to facilitate the cooking.
Close the pressure cooker, place the weight and cook on low/sim for about 25 minutes.
If on opening, there is excess water, let it cook for a couple more minutes.
If its mushy after 25 minutes, switch off the stove and allow it to stay open until its ready to be served.
Fluff with a work and serve with a cup of Boondhi Raita.
Plum Cake – It always brought back memories of Christmas holidays, time off from school, colorful stars outside homes, carols at school, and of course Plum Cake from the local bakery. It was truly a master piece and every bite would burst with sweet, tang from the raisins, the caramel sauce and the whole gamut of flavors that are so complex tapping in your taste buds in a way that you have never known before…I love this cake so much that I had decided I was going to make the egg less version of the Fruit Cakeat home as often as I can. This is a more to go version and I love the compelling tastes in both of them a lot! It might seem like a lot of ingredients but once you actually bite in to this cake, you will agree that its completely worth it. The source of this recipe is from a friend R who got it from a post on a Facebook group.
1 1/5 Cups All Purpose Flour.
1 Tsp Baking Soda.
A pinch of salt.
1 Cup Dark Raisins soaked in water for 30 minutes.
1 Cup Golden Raisins soaked in water for 30 minutes.
Handful of dates chopped.
1/4 Cup Butter.
1 Cup Brown Sugar.
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon Powder.
1/2 Ginger Powder.
1/4 Tsp Candied Ginger.
1/4 Tsp All Spice Powder (Garam Masala )
1/4 Tsp Orange Zest.
1/2 Cup Orange Juice.
1/2 Cup Tuitti Fruiti.
1/2 Cup Water.
2 Eggs at room temperature.
1 Tbsp Date Syrup/ Golden Syrup/ Caramel Syrup.
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract.
Soak the tuitti fruit in the orange juice for at least 1 hour and set aside.
Remove the water from the golden raisins and black raisins and discard the soaked water.
Take a pan and add the black raisins, golden raisins, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon powder, all spice powder, ginger powder, and salt.
Add the 1/2 cup of water and allow to boil the mixture for about 3-4 minutes.
Remove from the flame and allow to cool.
Drain the tuitti fruity , save the orange juice and add the tuitti fruity to the mixture.
Beat two eggs with a whisk and add it to the mix after it has cooled down COMPLETELY.
Add vanilla essence, chopped dates, orange zest, date syrup and orange juice.
Mix completely and slowly add in the dry ingredients – all purpose flour, baking soda and salt.
Preheat the oven to 350F and bake the cake for about 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick that’s inserted in to a cake comes out clean.
Cool it on a wire rack and when completely cool, cut in to slices and serve.
“Is Peas a fruit? or a vegetable” ? My daughter asked me one day and I really had to look it up to provide her with an answer. Surprise Peas is a fruit! Pea Pods are considered a fruit as they have seeds and they are developed from the ovary of a flower. Well, there`s a new thing that I learnt for today. Peas is a favorite with everyone in our home. We add it to everything….rice, gravies, kootu varieties, and some times alongside vegetables too. When I wanted to make a dish where the star ingredient was Peas naturally everyone welcomed it. I was always on the lookout for easy one pot recipes and when I saw this one on Ramki`s blog, I was awash with excitement. I dressed it up with the ingredients that I wanted with, but the root idea is completely his genius. It takes roughly 15 minutes from start to finish and it had the extra ordinary restaurant taste. There are a few points to be noted:
This method works ONLY with a pressure cooker with a solid base. I have a Prestige 5 Lt Pressure Cooker with Anti-Burning Base.
If you are cooking on a coil/ glass top please switch on your burner for about 3-4 minutes BEFORE you place your cooker on it for maximum results and to avoid burning. Once you switch off the cooker, please move it to another burner as on coils, the heat is retained.
Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker with weight and gasket.
The whole concept of One Pot One Shot is to be able to throw in all the ingredients and cook them in their own juices using steam without adding any water. This camelises onions, cooks rice, flash cooks vegetables retaining their nutrients and breaks them down rendering them completely cooked and ready to consume.
In the pressure cooker, directly add the butter, sliced onions, grated chillies, grated ginger, grated garlic, peas, chopped methi leaves, cashew powder, garam masala, dhania powder, cumin powder, milk powder and salt to taste.
No need to mix.
Now place it on HIGH on the stove with the weight and wait for two whistles. They will come quickly one after the other.
Switch off flame and in a few minutes release the pressure.
You will see completely cooked veggies inside but they wont be mushy.
Now add the beaten curd, sugar, whipped cream (heavy cream) and give it a quick mix.
I added a few pieces of pan seared organic tofu to the gravy.
Mix, garnish with chopped cilantro if needed.
One Pot One Shot Methi Matar Malai can be served with hot rotis, phulkas or Jeera Rice.
“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication”
The most tastiest dish is probably the most simple and yet the most comforting. What could it be? The porridge that your mother makes with the most available ingredients on hand…sometimes it`s hot steaming rasam, or a bowl of soup, or a cup of dhal…be it whatever it may, what really counts is the small acts of care and love that go with it. This is a delicacy that I learnt from my good friend`s wife. She is an expert in making it and would never fail to send it for me whenever she did…I loved biting in to its crisp rings and enjoy the crunchiness and the simple flavors. It never felt greasy at any point and you would almost feel like it was baked! There are simply a few things that have to be taken care of when you make this murukku. I have enlisted them at the very end…hope this helps.
2.5 Cups Raw Rice Flour.
1 Cup Roasted Urad Flour.
2-2.5 Tsp Salt depending on the taste.
3-4 Tsp Oil / Vanaspati /Ghee.
Rice Flour could be made in two ways. One way is to wash the raw rice, allow it to dry by spreading on a sheet and when completely dry, getting it powdered in the Flour Mill. The other way is to use the Rice Flour that`s readily available in the stores. Either way make sure that the rice flour is sieved and set aside.
This Murukku is called “Vellai” as it`s almost white in color. This is acheived by roasting the Urad Dhal on a low flame until you get the wonderful aroma. It should NOT be roasted red as we do in Kozhukattais. Once they Urad Dhal is well roasted, cool, powder and sieve. Set aside.
Mix the rice flour, urad flour, and salt and add the required amount of oil/ ghee/ vanaspati. Use room temperature water and mix to get a smooth pliable dough. When done, smear the ball with a spoon of oil and keep covered with a damp cloth so the dough does not dry out.
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed vessel and keep a dry collander lined with a paper towel ready.
When the oil is hot enough, press it in to little murukkus with a Murukku Press directly on to the oil.
When the murukku hits the oil it will hiss and get fried. Once the bubbles subside, remove the murukku with the help of a slotted ladle or a skewer and drain on to the collander.
These Murukkus are very crisp yet buttery, light yet melt in the mouth soft.
Store in air tight containers for about 2-3 weeks.
This is the most simplest and minimalistic murukku with just 3 ingredients, yet the most flavourful.
If you find the dough is dry, sprinkle a few drops of water and a tsp of oil. If you think its too squishy, add a few spoons of rice flour little at a time and a spoon of oil and knead it together.
Coating the ball of dough with oil, helps it to retain all the moisture without drying out.
Sometimes the best party foods I would say are appetizers alone! I could survive with just different appetisers. I guess what makes them so loved are the fact that they are bite sized, easy to handle and extremely tasty. This one was something I had pinterested a few months back and almost forgot about ! When my daughter wanted to call her friends over for a mini birthday party, this was something I thought about. It was fun to see them dress up the marshmallows with different colored “gems”.Obviously all the girls wanted the pink ones and I was left with an odd numbered white marshmallows!!! Easy to make, also the kids love getting involved. I made another batch with white chocolate over white marshmallows and dressed them up with strawberries! Pretty!
A Bag of Pink and White Marshmallows.
A Tsp Butter.
M&M`s of all colors.
Arrange all the marshmallows on a tray.
Place the melting chocolate on a glass container and place this over a saucepan of boiling water.
Slowly stir the chocolate until it melts.
Add a dollop of butter and stir.
Slowly take the marshmallows one by one and swirl the head in the melted chocolate.
Everyone loves cake. Period. It`s one of those things…I guess it evokes feeling of comfort – Soft fluffy layers of sponge cake piped with buttercream, or decorated with fondant, filled with fresh fruit cream, or sometimes just a plain vanilla cake..I mean literally plain vanilla! I loved my German Black Forest Cake and my favorite Coffee Cake with Toblerone Shavings but I was always on the lookout for a good Eggless sponge cake. One of my readers sent this in to me, and when I tried it, I fell for its crumbly texture. I rehashed it with a little more splash of color and the kids loved it. Tuitti Fruity rules! The best part about this cake it uses ingredients that are always available in your pantry!!!
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour.
3/4 Cup – 1 Cup Sugar.
1 Cup Beaten Fresh Curd / Substitute with Sour Cream/ Hung Curd/ Greek Yoghurt.
1/2 Cup Avocado Oil/ Canola/ Vegetable Oil.
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder.
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda.
1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract.
1/3 Cup Tuitti Fruity.
2 Tsp All Purpose Flour to dust the Tuitti fruiti.
Grease a tin loaf pan on all sides and line the base with parchment paper. I love to make cakes that are bite sized so I used my brownie pan.
Preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C for about 10 minutes.
Measure out the tutti fruity and coat it with a layer of dry all purpose flour. This will keep the surface of the tutti fruity dry and allow it to stay on top rather than sink to the bottom.
Sieve the All purpose flour and set aside. In a mixing bowl beat the curd slightly until its smooth with NO clumps. Add the granulated sugar and cream until well mixed.
Add the measured baking soda and baking powder to the creamed mix in the bowl and allow to sit for about 5-7 minutes. You will see tiny bubbles forming and the creamed mixture slightly increasing in volume.
At this point add the oil and the vanilla essence.
Add the all purpose flour in to the bowl little by little and fold it in, Be careful not to over mix too vigorously so as to not rob the batter of the air bubbles.
Transfer to a cake pan/ loaf pan/ brownie pan and bake for 10 minutes at 400F. Reduce the temperature to 350F and then continue to bake for about 30 minutes.
The time taken depends on the size and depth of the cake pan that you are baking the cake in. Please keep an eagle eye on it. After 30 minutes try to insert a toothpick in to the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, then the cake is done.
Optionally you could brush the top of the cake with some milk 10 minutes BEFORE the ending time to get a lovely sheen.
I lined my top of the cake with cherry halves dunked in flour as the kids love the way it looks!
Great Valentine`s Day Cake? Christmas Cake !!! Dress it up any way you want.
Remove the tuitti fruity and make it an Eggless Plain Vanilla Cake Sponge. What I really love about this cake is that its fuss free and easy to whip up.
Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first. ~Ernestine Ulmer
Gulab Jamuns have always been a very very common yet very delicate dessert. It can be paired with Vanilla Ice Cream for a great summer time dessert for weddings and parties. Gulab Jamuns are a definite addition to our Diwali Day breakfasts along with all the other sweets and savories that Madurai Amma makes…Gulab Jamuns were always made by me. It was not very easy for her to bequeath her right in the kitchen to me. When such opportunities presented themselves, I would take them up with elan and come up to speed. She would be pleased I presume, but she would never articulate her feelings.It would be an awesome feeling, to get up, have oil bath, wear new clothes and burst firecrackers on Diwali morning. The next best thing was of course the breakfast – It was always hot steaming idlis, hot steel tumbler filled to the brim with coffee and a plate full of Diwali Sweets and savories made at home.
I had always managed to pull in customs from both families to add to my own, and I enjoyed doing that a lot. I would try to recreate the dishes staple in my husband`s home for numerous occasions, during his childhood days. Sometimes I brought customs from my own childhood all the while telling stories to the kids, about anecdotes and incidents during those times. It always managed to comfort me…This time around, I wanted to make the Dry Jamun version which my kiddo, and my nephew loves. Hope you try it and like them too! The ingredients are few and minimalistic and the procedure is also very simple. This is inspired by Nisha Madhulika`s version, with a few adaptations of my own.
For Making Khoya/ Mawa:
1/4 Cup Butter.
1/2 Cup Milk.
1 Cup Non Fat Dry Milk Powder/ Full Fat Dry Milk Powder/ Milk Mawa Powder.
4 Tsp Maida/ All Purpose Flour.
Pinch of Baking Soda.
3-4 Tsp Milk.
For the Sugar Syrup:
1 1/2 Cups Sugar.
3/4 Cup Water.
1/2 Tsp Cardamom Powder.
A few drops of rose essence.
The first part of the process is to make Mawa which is the base for the Gulab Jamun. Add butter to a pan and switch on the stove on medium heat.
Pour in the milk and whisk it gently. Once its mixed well, slowly add the milk powder and whisk to bring them together. Keep the flame on medium low and keep mixing it now and then. It should NEVER catch the bottom, so this is possible only if you continue to mix on medium flame. The runny mixture will slowly start getting together until it pulls away from the sides of the pan. Switch off the flame and transfer to an air tight container. This is the base for the Gulab Jamun. It will be a mass that holds together.
Prepare the Sugar Solution as per the directions below. Set aside.
Take a large bowl, topple in the prepared mawa, add about 4 tsp of All Purpose Flour, a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of baking soda. Knead the dough by pressing with your palm and mixing it all in. The Mawa gets crumbly but because the oil content in it, the warmth from your hands allow it to soften and bend easily. Keep kneading and if required add a few tsp of milk, a Tsp at a time. Once the dough is smooth and without any cracks keep covered for about ten to twenty minutes.
Pour out enough ghee/ oil (enough to completely submerge the jamuns ) in a heavy bottomed kadai.
Keep the flame strictly on medium and allow it to get hot enough.
Start rolling out smooth balls and slowly drop them in to the kadai. Keep the rest of the dough covered with a moist kitchen cloth. Keep moving the jamuns on medium heat untitl they are uniformly fried on all sides, almost to a dark brown. Drain out the oil and place the jamuns in a dry bowl lined with paper towels.
After a few minutes, add it slowly to the sugar solution.
Continue and complete all the prepared dough and allow the jamuns to soak for about twenty minutes.
Take a dry plate and spread granulated white sugar.
Take the jamuns one at a time, roll completely in the sugar and place on a parchment sheet. The residual syrup o n the jamuns help in the sugar coating, Allow to dry.
Garnish with silver varq and store in a dry air tight container in the fridge.
Preparation of Sugar Solution:
Take 1 1/2 Cups of sugar in a heavy bottomed vessel and add half the water. Keep stirring on medium flame until the sugar is completely dissolved and it gets slightly syrupy. When you drop the syrup with the ladle, it will slightly fall in a stringy line…but still stay watery. It does NOT need to become one string consistency. Flavor with cardamom powder and rose essence and still aside.
Spaghetti has always always been a favored dinner entree in our home teamed always with plain marinara. There is something very comforting about a plate of spaghetti dunked in hot marinara sauce and topped with melted parmesan. No additions, nothing. The simpler, the better. On cold winter nights, the kids find it as comforting as a pot of Rasam and Alu Fry. This summer I had valiantly decided to grow a herb garden and bought Thai Basil, Sweet basil and mint. The herbs were lovingly tended and spoken to and watered and it was amazing to see them grow and flourish. I had pruned the herbs and decided to make Pesto with the basil. I have a whole mason jar of pesto stacked away for the winter! This recipe is forgiving as you can substitute kale with spinach, collards etc.
1 Bunch Kale cleaned and roughly chopped.
1 Bunch Fresh Basil.
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts.
1/4 Cup Almonds.
3 Cloves Garlic.
1/3 Cup Parmesan.
Zest & Juice of one lemon.
Himalayan Pink Salt.
1/4 Cup Olive Oil.
Spaghetti Pasta/ Angel Hair/ Any pasta of your choice.
2 Zucchini sliced in to half moons/ rolled in to pasta form with a spiralizer.
One Carrot sliced in to half moons/ circles.
Add the nuts, salt, half the kale, all of the basil and the remaining ingredients in to a food processor and blend with 2-3 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Add the remaining kale and blend again until almost smooth.
Store the Pesto in an airtight glass jar and you can use this for up to 3 weeks.
Cook the pasta as per directions with a tsp of salt. Drain but reserve a little of the hot pasta water.
In a wok, add a spoon of extra virgin olive oil, and slip in the sliced veggies.
Toss, season with salt and pepper and then add all the pasta.
Top with as much pesto as necessary and little of the hot pasta water to bring it all together.
Serve hot topped with grated cheese.
The Olive Oil in the pesto serves as a natural preservant. When refrigerated it stays fresh for about 2-3 weeks.
Use this pesto as a spread on Sandwich Bread.
Add a spoon of basil kale pesto to 1/4 Cup Greek yoghurt to make a cooling dip for Bruschetta.
No Kale? Thats fine too! Just toss in a bunch of baby spinach leaves or collard greens.
Madurai – Arguably has the most glorious history of all the Indian cities and conjures up images of so many many things for me – the Meenakshi Amman Temple, crowded roads, my Alma Mater, the station, KPN Bus Stand where I have spent many hours patiently waiting to board the bus which would take me back to Madras, mountains of freshly strung jasmine flowers and hawkers selling them, Dindigul Road where we used to go to buy books etc, and so many many things, As far as being a foodie goes, Madurai was literally food heaven -My favourites here are too many but still I am going to try to put them down as each name brings forth memories that have been buried in the back shelves of my brain! British Bakery, Hotel Guru Prasad, New College House, Hotel Supreme, the Idli Kadai close to my hostel which would dish out steaming hot Idlis in record time accompanied with mint and tomato chutneys, Raja Barley when I would get my favourite macroons and “Kuchi Muttai”, the mess hotel near the station, the bakery near my hostel, and finally the Nagapattinam Nei Mittai Kadai close to the temple.
This store is probably more than 60 years old but have maintained their quality and their demand. Their all time favourites are their Wheat Halwa which is served in dried lotus leaves piping hot, and the “Kizhangu Pottlam”. Literally translated to parcelled potatoes, these are deliriously spicy potato preparation thats only available for an hour in the mornings. People apparently bought them as a substitute when they are unable to cook the vegetable side at home. They simply buy a packet and almost used to function like a packet of chips would do in the present day. My mother used to have it when she was a little girl and her dad bought it for her. I had heard so much about this preparation and on my recent trip to India, I actually got a chance to try it. It was incredibly spicy yet delicious. I did recreate it at home but had to downgrade the spice levels on account of the kids 😦
1 Big Onion chopped.
4-5 Potatoes Boiled with salt.
1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder.
2.5 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.
2 Tsp Besan/ Kadalai Maavu/ Gram Flour.
Salt to taste if needed.
Oil as needed.
A pinch of Kari Masaal ( Garam Masala)
1 Tsp Mustard.
1 tsp Broken Urad Dhal.
2 Red Chillies broken in to half.
10 Curry Leaves torn.
4-5 Grated Garlic.
1 Tsp Grated Ginger.
3 Tsp Fennel Seeds.
Mash the potatoes after removing the skin from it and patting it dry. Set aside.
In a kadai, add 2-3 tbsp oil and allow it to heat up.
Add the mustard seeds and when they splutter, add the broken urad dhal, fennel seeds, ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Instantly the aroma of fried fennel seeds wafts in the air and that’s the time you tip the diced onions in.
Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and adjust salt if needed.
Sauté until slightly brown and add the besan/ gramflour and allow it to fry in the oil.
Now add the mashed potatoes and mix them all together.
Add a pinch of Garam masala powder and mix them all in.
Garnish with another spoon of oil and chopped cilantro.
Serve hot with Vengaya Sambar, Tomato Rasam and Curd Rice.
You just cant go wrong with relatively simple comfort food. The most comforting foods are the most hearties and the most easiest. The very first time we went to the Rangoli Restaurant at T.Nagar was something I could never forget. I got to sample comforting, wholesome gujrathi and rajasthani rustic cuisine here and I was completely smitten. I remember starting the course with the huge thali plate with a multitude of minuscule steel cups. They had around 2 dry vegetables, 2 gravies and one daal, curd, pickle, shrikhand, dessert and sample starters. They also serve unlimited hot and super soft rotis with refills of the accompaniments too. Then they served hot khichdi with a dollop of desi ghee. It was almost redolent with the aroma of freshly melted ghee on a bed of hot mushy khichdi which almost reminded me of the “paruppu sadam” we eat as kids. Now I was hooked! It was the simplest of all the dishes that were served but I could never really recreate it at home for quite some time. I guess it was the basmati rice thats cooked to a mushy consistency and I figured it out completely by accident. It`s really my goto dish on days that are crazy, rainy and otherwise dull.
1 Cup Basmati Rice.
1/4 Cup heaped Moong Dal.
Handful of Toor Dhal.
5-6 Cups Water.
1 Tsp Ghee to add to rice.
Salt to taste.
2 Tbsp Ghee.
2 Tsp Jeera.
1 Cinnamon Stick.
10 Curry Leaves torn.
Wash the rice and dal until its clean and add the 6 cups water.
Transfer to a pressure cooker vessel and add a Tsp of ghee.
Pressure cook as you would for regular rice/dal. I normally wait for one whistle and then bring down the flame to sim and THEN cook for ten minutes. Switch off.
When ready to release pressure, open the lid and with a masher, mash the rice well until mushy.
Season with the ingredients specified and pour over the khichdi.