Friday, July 30, 2010

The Perfect Dosa

Want to indulge in a savory pancake? Heres a great recipe for dosa, these are like indian style crepes. My mom used to always make these paired with spicy potatoes for me and my siblings at breakfast time. And although they tasted great- mom's cooking is the best!- they never came out like the way they are in indian restaurants.

In those restaurants they were like the perfect dosa...the edges are golden brown and crisp, whilst the inside is delectably soft.

It took me a while to perfect my dosa. The hardest part is making sure it didnt stick to the pan and making them come out thin and crispy like a paper dosa.

Once you become expert dosa maker youll see making these are time saving and effortless..

The good thing is you can make a large amount of batter to last up to a few days..

Rice and urad dal consist on the majors portions of this recipe, the channa dal is used to give a nice brown color to your dosa, and the methi seeds are there to give it a nice crunch.

What youll need:
1 1/2 cups fat, short grain rice
1 cup urad dal
5 tablespoons channa dal
1 1/2 tbsp methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)
large non-stick pan

Combine first four ingredients and let it soak in water for 4-5 hours or overnight. Once soaked drain most of the water and blend everything to a smooth consistency. Pour into a bowl and mix batter gently. Add salt to taste. About 2 teaspoons. Keep the batter by the stove and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it ferment for several hours. Once it is ready you may keep it in the fridge or make some dosai. Keep heat on high and let pan become very hot. Using a small ladle (about 1/2 cup batter) pour batter in the middle of the pan and swirl gently outwards until it resembles a crepe. Drizzle a little oil around the edges of the dosa. Cook 2 minutes.


never grease your dosa pan

and make sure your pan is very hot.
Dosa is ready when it looks beautifully golden brown on one side. It is not neccessary to cook other side, optional.

I often make these for my husband for breakfast, when hes in a hurry for work, I just take the batter out of the fridge and quickly make a couple of dosas. This recipe makes about 4 cups of batter and can last up to 3 days.

Oh by the way these are versatile as well and can be eaten with anything you like. Plain is just as perfect.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Coconut Chutney

Speaking of coconuts, when I went to Chennai last year, one day my mother in law and I went touring the streets in a rickshaw checking out local vendors. We had stopped by a coconut vendor where the guy was selling young coconuts. This is the first time I saw young coconuts, and I thought they were a different type of coconut because I am used to seeing coconuts in their rough, brown shelled states. In actuality though, there is only one type of coconut plant, and these large greens ones were basically unripened coconuts.

The vendor guy cut a small hole in one, stuck a straw in it and gave it to us to drink. It's coconutty water was so sweet and buttery and refreshing. We then proceeded to eat its flesh, which was also buttery and silky and extremely soft. Not at all like a brown coconuts' flesh; which is harder and more textured. I didnt have my camera with me then so heres a google image of young coconuts.

During my stay in Chennai, almost every morning I would have coconut chutney accompaniment with my breakfast. This chutney is traditionally served with dosa and idly, vada, upma, utappam, and pongal- recipes which I will be adding soon :)

There is no real cooking involved in making this chutney.
Typically freshly grated coconut is used but its absoultey fine if you don't have coconuts lying around, packaged unsweetneded shredded coconut is great too.

Makes about 3/4 cup chutney

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tblsp roasted dalia (roasted split bengal gram)
1 tblsp cashew pieces
1/8 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 inch green chili chopped
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, roasted
2 tbsp fresh tamarind juice
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste

2 tsps rye
2 small dried red chilis
1 tsp oil

Combine coconut, dalia, cashews, cilantro, green chilis, cumin seeds, tamarind juice, ginger and garlic paste and salt and a little water. Grind until just smooth. Pour into small serving bowl. Heat oil in small pan. Add rye and red chilis. Wait until rye begins to crackle. Take off heat and pour this over chutney. Mix chutney and serve.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Masala Machli (Spicy Fish)

Get a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids from this delicious fish. Enjoy with freshly made white rice for a satisfying meal. You can use any fish for this preparation, I am using salmon here. The marinade is the most simplest in indian cooking, consisting of only four ingredients.

You will need:

1 salmon steak (1/2 lb)
Corn oil

For the marinade you will need:

1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 tsps mustard oil

It's the mustard oil which will give the fish a deep, smoky flavor. Combine dry ingredients, then add ginger garlic paste and mustard oil. Rub cleaned, and de-scaled salmon fillet with this. Let it marinate up to 4 hours in the fridge.

Heat a non stick pan on high. Coat the pan with a few droplets of oil. Place salmon fillet in pan and sear it for 2 minutes each side. Place heat on medium-low and continue cooking for 8 more minutes. Salmon is cooked when flesh turns light pink within. Enjoy with plain white rice or any accompaniment of your choice.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chicken Khorma

This classic chicken khorma or "chicken salaan" as I'd like to call it is the epitome of good memories of my childhood. Id remember coming home from school to gobble down my mom's chicken khorma and rice. Khorma is usually referred to any curry made with yoghurt to produce a smooth and velvety like texture. After trying for a couple of years to make the perfect chicken khorma I finally settled on this recipe. There are several variations of chicken khorma out there and this is the one I make the most. This is an onion and tomatoe based version and has a rich tasting flavor with a great color. It is perfect to make for guests as well and can be made ahead, and reheated later on.


  1. 3 skinless, bone-in chicken leg and thighs about 1 lb

  2. half of a large onion, chopped lengthwise

  3. 1 roma tomatoe chopped

  4. 1/3 cup thick yoghurt

  5. 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste

  6. 1 tbsp minced green chilis (serranos preferred)

  7. 9 almonds, soaked in water

  8. 2 tsps ground coconut

  9. 1 tbsp coriander power

  10. 1 tsp cumin powder

  11. 1 tsp red chili powder (or more if desired)

  12. 1 tsp tumeric

  13. 1/2 cup cilantro

  14. one tablespoon oil


In a medium pot heat oil, and add onions. Saute on medium-high until they become golden brown about 5 minutes. Meanwhile put alomonds soaking in water in the microwave for about 4 minutes. The skin of the almonds should be peeled off. Combine almonds, yoghurt and coconut powder and grind to a smooth paste in a small blender. Set aside. After onions have become golden brown, stir in ginger and garlic paste, and tumeric. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add red chili powder, salt, cumin, coriander and some of the cilantro. Add in chopped tomatoes and put heat on medium and let it cook for 8 minutes stirring ocassionally. Do not add water. When the tomatoes become mushy turn the heat to high and add in chicken pieces and fry for a few minutes. Put heat back on medium and stir in yoghurt and almond paste. Add in a glass of water. Let it cook for 20 minutes. When chicken is cooked khorma is ready. Serve with bread or plain rice.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spinach and Onion Pakodas

My husband and I came back tired from the beach and after a long day of swimming and travelling we came back tired. After we reached home my husband asked me to make a quick snack. It was also about to rain. So I decided this was the best and quickest thing to make. Bhajias as they are also called, are a favorite snack. There are numerous kinds of pakodas, with this being the simplest and the most popular. You can use a variety of vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, and eggplant. These pakodas are best eaten as soon as they are cooked; they lose their crispness as they sit. You will need:

1 cup besan flour
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp salt
Half of a large onion chopped lengthwise
1/4 cup fresh spinach roughly chopped
Oil for frying


1. Combine besan with the dry ingredients. Slowly add water until the batter is wet but not thin, resembling pancake batter. Heat oil in deep fryer on medium high. Once heated (test by dropping small amount of batter in pan), slowly drop in a tablespoon sized batter in hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Serve with ketchup or hot sauce.

Friday, July 23, 2010

20 Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is one of nature's most powerful healers. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. Tumeric has been used for over 2500 years in India, where it was most likely first used as a dye.
The medicinal properties of this spice have been slowly revealing themselves over the centuries. Long known for its anti-inflammatory properties, recent research has revealed that turmeric is a natural wonder, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer's disease.

Here are 20 reasons to add turmeric to your diet:
1. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.
2. When combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.
3. Prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs in mice.
4. May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to commit suicide.
5. Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia.
6. Is a natural liver detoxifier.
7. May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain.
8. May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.
9. It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.
10. Has shown promise in slowing the progression of multiple sclerosis in mice.
11. Is a natural painkiller and cox-2 inhibitor.
12. May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.
13. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.
14. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
15. Boosts the effects of chemo drug paclitaxel and reduces its side effects.
16. Promising studies are underway on the effects of turmeric on pancreatic cancer.
17. Studies are ongoing in the positive effects of turmeric on multiple myeloma.
18. Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.
19. Speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.
20. May help in the treatment of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.

Turmeric can be taken in powder or pill form. It is available in pill form in most health food stores, usually in 250-500mg capsules.
Once you start using turmeric on a regular basis, it's fun to find new ways to use it in recipes. My favorite way to use it is to add a pinch of it to egg salad. It adds a nice flavor and gives the egg salad a rich yellow hue.
Contraindications: Turmeric should not be used by people with gallstones or bile obstruction. Though turmeric is often used by pregnant women, it is important to consult with a doctor before doing so as turmeric can be a uterine stimulant.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bhaghara Chawal

Today I wanted to make rice but I was not quite in the mood for plain white rice which is what I usually make for dinner. Yet I didnt want something too fancy either. So I thought hey Ill make some bhaghara chawal. I have looked online from the past and I never found a recipe for this simple rice. (I looked online today too and still did not find one). So heres a first or at least one of a few. I learnt this recipe from my mother who said the secret to great tasting bhaghara chawal lies in using fresh and good amount of ginger and garlic paste. Of course you also need a few spices like shah zeera , and a few cloves, and a bay leaf. This dish goes great with just about anything, and is very versatile.


1.5 cups of basmati rice or any long grain rice

3 cups water

1/2 medium onion chopped finely

1.5 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste

2 tsps ghee or clarified butter

2 tsps shah zeera

3 cloves

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon oil

salt to taste


In a medium pot heat oil and ghee. Add shah zeera and cloves. Wait until the spices splutter. Add chopped onion and stir. Sprinkle a little salt over the onions. Let it become golden brown, then stir in ginger and garlic paste. Continue frying for 3 minutes then stir in rice and bay leaf. Add water. Add salt to taste. Let it come to a boil then switch to medium heat and cover tightly with a lid and let it continue to cook for 10-15 more minutes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chicken Haleem

This preparation is called haleem in pakistan, india, and
bangladesh. In other countries such as Iran, Turkey, or the Gulf, it is called Harisa. Though the term varies from country to country it always consists of three main ingredients: wheat, lentils and meat. This preparation is always popular as a starter during many
different occassions such as Ramadan, weddings, and dinner parties. It is slow cooked for several hours until it reaches a paste like consistency and is like a thick soup. I like to use equal parts of cracked wheat, barley, and oats. I also like to use bone in chicken because the bones provide extra flavor. When I make this dish I like to make more so I can freeze it. When thawed and heated it still tastes delicious.

4 bone-in chicken thighs
3/4 cup cracked wheat
3/4 cup barley
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup chana dal
1 medium onion chopped lengthwise
1 green chili chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 tablespoon coriander
1 tsp tumeric
1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup mint
2 tsps ghee or clarified butter
1 tablespoon oil
salt to taste
fresh lemon juice

Soak cracked wheat, barley, and chana dal seperately in water for 3 hours. In a heavy bottom saucepan add oil and one teaspoon ghee. Add chopped onion to this. Saute for 5 minutes on medium high heat until onion becomes golden brown. Add ginger and garlic paste, and tumeric. Stir until smell of ginger and garlic is gone. Add a little water to deglaze. Add the rest of the spices and green chilis, and 1/4 cup cilantro and mint. Add chicken and fry on medium high heat for abour 7-8 minutes. Add about 4 cups water and cook until chicken is tender and breaking off the bone. Take off heat and allow to cool. Shred chicken and discard the bones. Put the chicken back in the pot. Add soaked wheat and lentil. Stir in oats. Put pan back on heat and let it cook on medium to medium low for one to two hours, stirring perdiodically. After wheat, and lentils become soft, use a hand blender to blend to a paste like consistency. Spritz with fresh lemon juice. Take off heat and garnish with remaining cilantro.

Cabbage Chicken

Why did the man cross the road? To eat the chicken.
Here is a recipe of my own creation. These days I am loving subzis whilst having an aversion to too much meat (no, I am not pregnant). I am always trying to get my husband to eat more veggies but like most men he refuses to eat soleley vegetarian dishes. There has to be some type of meat. Hence the creation of this dish. The unique flavor of this awesome recipe comes from the slow cooking of onions until they become caramelized. For this preparation you will need:

2 cups of chopped green napa cabbage
1/2 medium onion chopped lengthwise
1/2 pound boneless chicken thigh meat cut into small pieces
one heaping tablespoon ginger and garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp rye
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 of a green chili chopped
1 tsp red chili powder
cilantro 1 cup chopped
one tablespoon oil
salt to taste

In a non stick pan add one tablespoon oil and rye. Leave heat on high. Let the rye splutter until they become greyish color. To that stir in chopped onion. Sprinkle half teaspoon salt on onion, mix and leave on medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add little water if needed to deglaze pan. When onion starts becomes browned (but not burnt) add water. The water should become brown, this means the onions are becoming caramelized.

This is what I mean.

Next stir in ginger garlic paste and tumeric. Add in the rest of the spices and cook for 2-3 minutes. Next add the chopped cabbage and 2 cups water. Cook for a good 20 minutes and add in the chicken and half of cilantro. Add more water and cook until cabbage is softened and chicken is cooked. Take off heat and garnish with cilantro.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Shepards Path Cake

Beautiful isn't it? Yea I thought so too. And yes this is homemade. Well, not exactly. That gorgeous, piece of artwork in the middle of the cake is called an edible image icing. It was not made by I. There are several websites out there which will make it for you. The one I went to is called This is the largest size they can make, measuring 7 x 10 for your standard 1/4 inch sheet cake. Simply upload an image- the dimensions must be at least 300-500 or bigger and they will do the rest.
So how did I end up making this cake? Well first I thought about searching online for general pricing of sheet cakes with edible images. Of course they are costly but I wanted to know the exact pricing. They were all around 35 dollars for a 1/4 sheet cake. Then I looked at prices for a 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch sheet cake without images. The typical price for a 1/4 inch sheet cake is 16.99, and 29.99 for a 1/2 inch. I needed a 1/2 inch cake with an edible image that could feed up to 70 people. So I decided to make the cake myself.
What you will need for this cake:
*Two Duncan Hines Cake mixes, French Vanilla Flavor
* Two cans of whipped cream flavor frosting, or any flavor you prefer as long as its white in color
*Betty Crocker's Yellow Buttercream cupcake icing
*17 xs 11 cookie sheet
*star tip, number 119 with piping bag
*pearl dust edible glitter
*frosting spatula

Follow the directions on the back of the cake box. One cake box batter at a time. So you will need to bake twice. I used a non stick metal cookie sheet so my baking time was reduced to about 20 minute each time I baked the cake. While your cake is baking, prepare your frosting by spooning your frosting out and putting it in a bowl. Mix the frosting 15-20 times. After making two separate cakes, let them cook for 10-15 minutes. Get a large tray and place one cake on it carefully using a spatula. Slide the other cake on top. Now its time to frost. Using a small amount of frosting you will need to frost the sides and top area with a thin coating. This is called crumb coating. This way you're sealing up the crumbs to prevent them from messing up the look of your frosting. Now you will need to place the cake in the fridge for about 10 minutes so the frosting on the cake hardens. After ten minutes take the cake out of the fridge and frost the entire cake using the rest of the whipped cream. Now its time to place your edible image icing on top of your cake. First freeze the image for about 3 minutes. It must be dry in order to peel off. If it doesn't come off there are a number of ways you can do to make it peel off. Place the image on the middle of the cake. Now you may pipe borders around the image and around the cake. Using you cupcake icing you can do whatever design you prefer. I piped leaves on every corner and a frame around my edible image. Then I used pearl dust glitter to sprinkle on top after everything was done. Place in the fridge, COVERED, until ready to eat.

Best version of ground beef

You can use this preparation for pretty much any dish like spring rolls, lasagna (desified), samosas etc. But it is best when eaten with khichdi, paired with kachumar salad, and a papad. MMM. The key to this dish lies in the freshness of ingredients. Of course the same can be said of most indian recipes. But for this preparation it is especially important.

So, heres my recipe for the best ground beef:

1 pound ground beef
1 and half medium onion chopped lengthwise
lots of fresh cilantro, washed and chopped about 1 cup
one green chili, I prefer serrano
Ginger and garlic paste
Salt to taste
Tumeric 1 tsp
Mirchi 1/2 tsp

In a medium saucepan add two tablespoons of oil. Add chopped onion. Saute on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add salt. This will ensure the onions will get browned faster. When the onions become golden add ginger garlic paste. Add tumeric. Let it cook until the smell of the ginger garlic is almost gone. The onions must look almost brownish, and almost caramelized but not completely. Add half of the cilantro. Put in the mirch. Stir. Add a little water if needed to deglaze. Add ground beef. Do NOT stir. Let it cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Check it and make sure its not burning. After five more minutes it should be done. Take out in separate container and use however you desire.