First Birthday! Lentil Saagu/ Lentil Stew

Dear friends,

It is the first birthday of Kannada cuisine! It has been a wonderful journey and I look forward to an exciting long drive...Thanks you all for your support, love and encouragement.

Updates from my kitchen: Finally I was in the kitchen yesterday.
After a strong dose of Menasina Saaru, I started craving for something mild. What would fit such a bill better than Idlis? Because we were having Idlis for dinner, thought of making something more nutritious than chutney to go along. That is how this recipe was conjured up, more out of necessity than anything and easy to be on the dining table before our supper time @ 7.15 PM!

You will need, (Serves 2 )

Split Masoor Dal 1/4 cup
Potatoes 2
Turmeric a pinch
Oil 1 tsp
Onion 1 small
Tomato 1 medium diced
Ginger grated about 1 tsp
Clove 3
Cinnamon 1/4"

For the tempering/Oggarane
Ghee 1 tsp
Hing a generous dash
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Dry red chillies 4-5

  1. Wash, clean and pat dry the potatoes. Dice and combine with washed moong dal, tomatoes and turmeric, oil in a pressure cooker and cook till the dal is soften about 2 whistles. Set it aside to cool
  2. When the cooker is cool enough to handle, prepare the tempering.
  3. For the tempering, heat ghee in a small pan, drop the mustard seeds, jeera, hing, ginger onions and the chillies. Remove it after a quick minute or two. Pour over the dal mixture.
  4. Heat the dal mixture once again. Throw in crushed cloves and cinnamon, adjust salt, sqeeze in the juice of half a lime and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
  5. Serve hot with Idlis/ Pooris/Chapati


One good news and one bad news and one not so bad news! First for the good news, I got 'YUM YUM BLOG' award from my friend Sushma. Thanks a lot Sushma, it means so much to me...It makes me look back, to the days when I was just scribbling as if there was not much to do otherwise and then there is a gradual improvement in terms of writing, my yarn has slightly tightened though I would want to tighten it more after all, prose like poetry is appreciated when it is rather concise. Then the pictures. I blamed my camera for not giving me good pictures, before realizing my own skill-deficiency and last but not the least the HTML thing! Boy! it is so difficult. I find SAS easier with all the number crunching. This HTML after all requires an intuition for designs and colour co-ordination which I lack so much. But these are all areas which needs attention and of course some love. At the end of it all, despite the long journey that it seems, I so much look forward to it. The best part of the journey is the new circle of friends that I have made over the blog-o-sphere... For a person like me who takes ages to get comfortable with people, it is a blessing in disguise that internet offers me the degree of privacy that makes me comfortable and allows me to be open enough to make new friends. Now that is for the good news

Now for the bad news. Recently I discovered that one of my recipes was copied and posted as her own by a fellow blogger. Though there were minor alterations, it was not much more than a copy-paste job. At once i felt so bad, as if being swindled by the hawkers in Majestic, Bangalore....i did try to contact the lady but there was no response. I guess that is the way their psyche works right? If they can copy something that is not their own and claim it to be their own, then there is not much to be offended by a small cribbing-complaining email. Right? I felt like a kinder garden kid complaining about another kid who stole my candy. Any way, it is just the beginning I guess, besides somebody felt my writing was good enough to be copied! that is something to cheer about, after all I can still produce more such writings, and enjoy the run because of the sheer joy of it. But the person who copied it will definitely not know the joy of running. Now I have a feeling that all her recipes are lifted from a variety of sources. I would not be surprised if blogger decides to shut down her blog because of copyright-violation-complaints. So much for the name of blogging! What is the point? I do not get it.

The not-so-bad news is that I have not been cooking much the whole of last week and therefore I have nothing much to post! Just that the cold had taken its toll and I do not feel like cooking much. I wish i had the proverbial 'Huggi-Patre'/ 'Akshya pathre' that could conjure me up food I wish to eat... Would it not be a sci-fi thriller if there were a computer program that could instruct a modern kitchen to cook and produce yummy food with the press of a button?, a modern version of Akshya-pathre! Ah! But now got to get back to the kitchen.. tummy rumbling and I have to forage the fridge...

By the way, my blog will turn one year old this week...
So far, for now..

Tomato Choka

Cooking to me is like an experiment in the laboratory, just that I am like the first year student in the chemistry lab having more than one idea that will set off his/her lab partner's duppata on fire! It is another story, it happened to me. Just that it was my Kurta not the dupatta. My stupid lab partner spilled some HCL on my Kurta and it developed a 3-4" hole in the matter of seconds, my classmates noticed some smoke as well.. but I could not see as it was on my rear side! what did i do? I wore the same kurta every week to the lab for the rest of the course! Imagine same burnt kurta every time I went to the lab! But then I did not want to take chance with the rest of my wardrobe knowing what a moron my partner was..I hope my lab instructor was much more sensible as to not interpret my action from the angle of affordability.
Story apart, my experiment in the kitchen is so much similar, I have scalded my fingers, palm, wrist so many a times that I have innumerable scars squeezed right in that small area starting from finger tips to wrist! But then it is an adventure right? the best part is, if successful, tongue, stomach, mind and Honey are all happy contended, a very small price to pay for all the happiness indeed!!
I like cooking that way, like an adventure, setting out not knowing what lies ahead at the end of the process. Never sticking to a recipe or measurements, never really knowing what lies in store in the next step! But of late, I am also looking at cookbooks, with their meticulous measurements and awe-inspiring instructions. In fact I feel some of the cook books make cooking look so tedious,I am sure there are people who put down the book saying, 'my-gosh-I-do-not-think-i-will-ever-be-able-to-make-it'
There is one cook book I was recently impressed with, that i even thinking of buying my own copy. It is Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. So many recipe ideas from around the world, I am impressed, the only down side may be is the absence of glossy pictures. I love the look of those glossy sheets. But never mind the recipes are good enough to compensate for the missing pictures. But again, the book is predominantly for the western palate and I would have to pump up the spice level a bit.
This is one such recipe from the book. But then I am not very honest to the book, I always tinker the recipe to suit my taste. So this is my version of the dish which is originally from the Indian immigrants in Trinidad and Tobago. It was yummy with Chapatis and we loved it.

Tomato Choka

You will need,
Brinjal /Eggplant the large ones 1 about 1 lb or so
Tomatoes medium 3
Red onion medium 1 diced
Garlic 3 cloves
Green Chillies 6 (adjust according to taste, this makes it pretty spicy)
Lemon juice a dash
Oil 2 tbsp

  1. Wash the eggplant and tomatoes and pat them dry.
  2. Turn on the broiler. Place the eggplant and tomatoes on a baking sheet, spray some non-stick spray onto them, pop it into the oven.
  3. Keep a close eye, once the skin of the vegetables is charred, remove from the oven and flip them around. That is about 10 minutes in my oven.
  4. Just about 5 minutes before the vegetables are charred on all sides, throw the pods of garlic onto the baking sheet.
  5. After 5-7 minutes remove from the oven.Set it aside to cool
  6. To prepare the choka, heat oil in a wok. Add the slit green chillies. Remove from heat.
  7. Once the roasted vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel off the charred skin and coarsely chop the pulp and throw it into a mixing bowl. Stir in diced onions
  8. Pour the Tadka over the vegetable mixture, stir adjust salt, lemon juice and serve warm/room temperature with rice or chapatis.
Note: I like to slightly cook onions because Honey has a problem eating raw onions. So I sauteed onions in the tadka for a couple of minutes. So which ever way you make it, it tastes good!

Black Bean Salad

One more recipe long awaiting its moksha (in the form of blog posting of course) is my black bean avocado salad. It is something we had on Christmas but I have been making it ever since. We have fallen in love with the dish. The idea is borrowed from a Mexican Fajita platter. They generally provide guacamole and beans separately along with a host of other condiments. Me and honey both like the guacamole and the beans but we are trying to keep it rather figure friendly so we do not want to load ourselves with sour cream and cheese. Therefore I decided to combine guacamole with black beans and use no fat what so ever. Was not Avocados high in fat? So here it is. We eat this dish all by itself, sometimes on a toast, some times on a corn taco and sometimes with a basket of baked chips. Goes well with practically everything.

Avocado 1 ripe diced
Red onion 1 small diced
Black beans 1 can drained and rinsed
Tomato 1 medium diced
Green chillies 3-4 (adjust according to your heat levels, we are big time spice eaters)
Fresh Coriander a small bunch chopped fine.
Ground cumin 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Pepper a dash

  • Toss all the vegetables and beans together.
  • Mix in the seasonings, taste and adjust. Sit the mixture for at least 30 minutes to an hour for all the flavors to combine.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.

This is my entry to SWC Salads under 15 minutes hosted by our beloved LG...

Lemon Muffins

For some reason, my November-December baking season has stretched beyond December. I have been making muffins, scones well into Jan! I am happy that I am making more egg less goodies, that way I am trying to overcome one of my biggest handicaps, not baking with out eggs! Here is one more way to make a cute muffin with out eggs or too much of butter.


All purpose flour 1.5 cups
Half and Half about a cup
Lemon zest 1 tsp
Lemon juice 1 tbsp
Candied Lemon peal 1/4 cup
Butter 1 tbsp
Salt a pinch
Baking powder 1tsp

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  • Shift the flour with baking powder, mix in the lemon peel, lemon zest and salt.
  • Cut butter into small chunks and rub it into the flour.
  • Pour the half and half gradually into the flour and mix gently. Mix everything just until it is all well combined. Do not over mix.
  • Spoon the mixture into mini-muffin tin.
  • Bake till the muffins are all puffed up and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
    In my oven it is about 15 minutes, depends on your oven.It is a good idea to keep a close eye though.
Enjoy with a cup of hot coffee!Sending this recipe to FIC-Yellow

Moolangi/ Radish/ Daikon Chutney

It is rather not easy to get the long tender white radishes here in North America. When ever i see some, I am sure to get those! We use the radishes in curry, chutney, paratha and of course in salads. The other day I made some chutney and of course it is very tasty with hot rice and ghee.

You will need
For the chutney
Radish washed a chopped 1 cup
Roasted Channa (Hurigadale/kalade poppu) 1/4 cup
Dry red chillies 3 (more if you need it spicy)
fresh Coriander a handful
Tamarind Paste 1/2 tsp
Jeera 1/4 tsp
Coconut 1/4 cup
Salt to taste

Oil 2 tsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Hing a dash
Curry leaves 4-5

  • Roast the red chillies in a tawa for two minutes till it darkens slightly.
  • Combine the roasted chillies with all other ingredients listed under the chutney and about 1/4 cup of water in a blender and grind it till smooth.
  • Remove the chutney in a serving dish
  • For the tempering, heat oil, dump the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. Once they crackle, remove it from heat and pour it over the chutney. Serve at room temperature

    This is my entry to the Chutney dip mania hosted by Ramya.

Makhi Di Rotti/ Corn Flat Bread

Continuing from the last post,no Sarson Da Saag is complete without Makhi Do Rotti, rotti made from hardy yellow corn flour. It is not the same corn flour used as a thickening agent in the Indo-Chinese dishes. Makhi is the flour made from corn on the cob- 'Butta' or mekke Jola as we call it in Kannda. These rottis are hardy and have a sweet after taste. Needless to say it goes very well with the Saag.

Yellow Corn Flour 1 cup
Hot water As kneeded
Butter 2 tbsp or more
Salt a pinch

  • Boil water.
  • Take the flour in a wide mouthed plate -what we call a 'Parath'
  • Mix in the salt and make a well in the center.
  • Pour over the hot water and using a spoon/spatula, mix in the flour into the hot water.
  • It will be very hot therefore needs some caution as to not scald one's hands!!
  • Add more hot water if needed. The resulting dough should be like that of chapati.
  • Once cool enough to handle, pinch lemon size balls.
  • Heat a tawa, roll out the pinched off dough into discs using your fingers.
  • Place the dough discs carefully onto the hot tawa.
  • Cook on both sides till the sides are sort of golden brown and serve hot with loads of butter.

Sarson Da Saag/ Spiced Mustard Greens

Winter conjures up some images in my vacant head, reminds me of North India, the chills, the smell the tandoor on our erstwhile neighbour's courtyard. (The little boy in their house was called 'Lovely' which I used to find very amusing!) Also some special dishes like Sarson da Saag, Makhai di Rotti and markets teaming with fresh peas, cauliflower and eggplants. Back then when we were in Amritsar, peas and caulifower used to become so cheap in winters that we could afford to eat them for the entire year. I remember getting peas for as little as Rs 2/ kilo and it was definitely not 1964! it was very much late 1990s. The converse is true for summers. Hardly any fresh vibrant vegetable in the market, most of veggies looked sad and of course extremely pricy as high as Rs 35 per kilo. May be that is why my father likes winter so much. Not to mention the Lodhri festival, where bon fires are lit on streets and we kids used to go and throw in some sesame seeds into the fire and eat a lot of Chikkis, Papa used to have a few drinks with our neighbour (ever heard of Patiala peg?, that it was) after the merry making, it was 'come back home' to dream of all chikkis and the hiss of burning sesame seeds.
Amongst all the wintery favorites in Punjab, probably Sarson da Saag will top the list. We all love it too. Besides, it is rather simple a dish with a lot of nutrition and flavours packed in. It goes best with Makhai di rotti, but then chapatis will do too. We had it with oodles of butter and Makhai di rotti


We will need

Mustard Greens 1 lb
Onion 1 medium diced
Ginger 1/4" grated
Garlic 3 cloves (big cloves grated , yes it is sort of garlicy because it is a winter dish)
Kashmiri Chilly powder 2 tsp
Coriander ground 1 tsp
Cummin ground 1 tsp
Garam masala 1/2 tsp
Tomato 1 small chopped
Oil 1 tbsp
Butter 3 tbsp

  • Wash chop the mustard greens.Microwave it for a minute or two till it wilts down slightly
  • Heat oil and butter in a pan. Drop the jeera. Follow it with onions, ginger and garlic. Saute till the onions are traslucent.
  • Add the chilly powder, dhania powder, jeera powder along the tomatoes. Cook till the tomatoes are mushy and oil oozes from the mixture.
  • Now combine the wilted greens, adjust salt.
  • Cook till the greens are soft but still bright green in colour. Finish with Garam masala.
  • Serve hot with Corn rotti and extra wads of butter. If you prefer to make it figure friendly, just omit the butter, but the taste will not quite be the same
This recipe goes to the Monthly Mingle 29- Healthy Family Dinner hosted by Meeta

I am hoping, families love their greens!Especially the little ones

Avalakki Bisi Bele Bhaat/ Spiced Poha Porridge

During my perusal of a few of my favorite blogs, I came across this recipe by
Sushma . I remember eating it in temples on Ekadashi. The eleventh day of a month in the Hindu calender.We are supposed to fast on the day and eat very little before retiring to bed. So most often then not, it is Upittu, Avalakki(beaten rice) or things like that. I cannot fast every month but I end up fasting on Vaikunta Ekadashi and Mahi Ekadashi, the two most auspicious of Ekadashis.
It on on such occasions that this particular recipe becomes very useful. I had to do a test run before I note it down so here it is. It turned out to be yummy and very easy as well. So here it is.

Avalakki BBB

This recipe goes out to the Easy Breezy Breakfast Event.

Methi Mutter Malai/ Creamed Spinach & Peas

Growing up with siblings is so wonderful. Me and my sister like all other siblings share a special bond. We have had our days, fights, managed to break ladles and knives during the hottest of fights but then after all said and done, she is still just a little kid with big eyes. She will remain that way long after she had had her kids and grand kids.It is just the distance that getting older brings in between us that I definitely do not like. I would give my world to go back to those days when me and her were confidants in crime, whether it was pinching coins from mom's Goddess Lakshmi Hundi-piggy bank or eating dirty ice candy on stealth. I do wonder if she remembers any of those, but I for sure remember one incident that even today as I write gives me goose pimples.About 20 years ago, we lived in Mysore the city of palaces and there was a saw mill right next to our house, very close to Mysore palace. We often used to go there and play in the saw dust and the trolley which shoves heavy lumber onto the sharp huge blades. The trolley could be moved by steering a lever on the dock. It used to be fun. One of us would sit on the trolley mostly my sister because she was too small to steer the lever and if our other play mates were around I would join her and some body else would steer us all. Most of the times we used to be there well after school and therefore the saw mill would be closed with the blades safely removed. On one day, it was just me and my sister and we both went there just like any other day and I sat her on the trolley, started to steer it. I did not realize that the blades were very much in place and I kept steering. When my sister was about a feet and a half from the blades, some one came it and yelled at me to stop. Gosh! I stop and I have goose pimples all over. Boy!! What was i ever thinking when I was doing it all.. What a monkey was I...
I cannot but thank god that nothing untoward happened that day, otherwise.......
I could not have had the wonderful Methi Mutter Malai ever in my life. Lol

She is a awesome cook and this dish is probably her master piece. I tried to extract the recipe from her but I suspect there is at least one key ingredient that she is hiding from me for, however much I try, it simply is not like what she makes. Never mind, this version too is really good. I had a lot of guests the other day and everyone liked it. Very easy recipe to scale up as well...


You will need,

Peas 2 cups
Methi leaves frozen 3 cubes
Onion 1 medium
Garlic 3 cloves
Ginger 1/2"
Heavy Cream 1/2 cup
Turmeric a pinch
Chilly powder 2 tsp (Adjust according to taste)
Dhania powder 2 tbsp
Garam Masala 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil 3 tbsp
Jeera 1 tsp

  • Wash the peas, thaw the Methi cubes and wring out excess moisture out of the Methi.
  • Grind onions, garlic and ginger into a smooth paste.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Drop Jeera into the hot oil. Once it stops spluttering, add the onion paste. Stir well to combine and cook the mixture till it is golden in color and oil starts to ooze out.
  • Mix in the Chilly powder, Dhania powder, Turmeric. Stir well to combine, gently toss everything a couple of times making sure it does not stick to the bottom.
  • Stir in the peas and methi. Add about 1/4 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, gently mix in the cream and garam masala. Adjust salt.
  • Simmer for a few more minutes till the flavors are all combined.
  • Remove from heat and serve hot with Roti/Poori or any other breads.We had it with pooris and it was delicious.
This recipe goes out to the epic My Legume Love Affair- Seventh Helping hosted this time by our beloved Srivalli, initiated by the Well Seasoned Cook-Susan

Indeed I do not need to emphasize my love for legumes!Do I?

Christmas Lunch

Christmas was a rather strange festival for us. When we were kids, we used to have vacations only during the Dasara festival- one complete month. But those at St.Mary's used to get 2 weeks for Dasara and 2 weeks for Christmas. We used to gloat during Dasara festival and envy them during Christmas. My cousin used to study at St.Mary's and she used to come along with her mother to visit us and we did be green with envy. Also I did not have Christian friends till I got to college. So all I knew about Christmas was the much envied Vacation.
Once I got to college, I became friends with two Christians. One particular year, one of them invited us - a gang of about 7-8 to their Christmas lunch. We were served some amazing food. She also managed to feed us friends some mutton cutlet by stealth. It tasted good till we got to know what was in it! We could not have guessed but for a through bred non-vegetarian amongst us. I don't know I simply could not puke or feign nausea, may be out of respect or may be I was too intimidated by the crib and all other holy stuff on display that day.. Any ways, they say, it is not a crime (paapa) to do something out of ignorance. So I forgave myself. But these days I am extra cautious of what ever I eat. Simple rules. I do not have to break my belief to appear polite right. Never mind, I wonder what that friend of mine is doing these days. It has been some time that we spoke to each other...
My other Christian friend was slightly different. She used to drop by with a box of home made cup cakes some where between Christmas and New Year. No prizes for guessing I loved those visits! Then Christmas also meant 'Home Alone' series. Oooo How I loved Macaulay Calkuin, the snow and the soundtrack of the series... Did not so much like the last one though the kid was cute. hehe

This Christmas, being here in USA, was a different experience. It is such a big thing here. And of course it is the season of eating, shopping and spending times with loved ones. I was rather surprised to see perfectly sane and resonable folks turn into shopping manaics for a few weeks. It was good to see so many people at the shopping mall though. And who would not love to shop. (I would shop till I drop had I the kind of money) As a pleasant surprise, Honey got me a Donna Karen perfume that I had been eyeing for quiet some time but the price tag had sort of put me off. This is what we did on Christmas.
  1. Got up sort of late, relaxing morning.
  2. Bundled up into the car, the late morning was rather warm after a brutal snow storm and went out for a drive
  3. Found eveything closed even Dunkin Donuts!!! But our Patel stores was open. Picked up some vegetables including 'Avarekai' from Patels'
  4. Came home, fixed something elegant but simple.
  5. Poped open a bottle of sparkling Cranberry juice and drank half a bottle, reserved the other half for another occassion.
  6. Watched a movie and hit the sack early.
Here is our Christmas lunch plate. For the main course it was stuffed portobellos, Roasted popatoes, brussels sprouts, and black bean salad. When I passed the loaded plate to Honey, his first reaction was 'what is this all?' No rice, no chapatis!! But then by the time we were half way through, we were full.

Here is the stuffed portobellos,

Portobello Mushrooms 2
Spinach 1/2 package fresh pre washed baby spinach
Mozzarella cheese 1/4 cup (or more if desired)
Chilly flakes a generous pinch
Olive oil 2 tsps

  • Heat oil in a pan. Saute Spinach wilt it down completely. Stir in salt and chilly flake, turn off the flame.
  • Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a tawa. Grill the mushrooms for about 3 minutes on each side. Set aside to cool
  • Once the spinach is cool enough to handle, stir in the cheese.
  • Pile the spinach and cheese mixture on to the cavity of mushrooms.
  • Turn on the broiler. Pop the mushrooms into the oven and broil it for about 4-6 minutes. Keep a close eye. It tends to burn very quicky.
  • Serve it hot.

Akki Payasa/ Rice Pudding

I should confess I am not the biggest of sweet toothed, not in terms of quantity but sweets are always welcome. Just a spoonful or so will satisfy my craving but I end up craving for 2-3 sweets each day. This holidays it was a surfeit of sweets, baked, simmered, deep fried all kinds of sweets. I almost ran of ideas and had to rely on something very traditional and is a proven crowd pleaser for the last of parties. So I dished up akki payasa, also known as Phirni, Pal Payasa etc depending on which part of India you hail from... My mother-in-law is an acknowledged expert of this particular dish. Also, this is something she makes frequently and with an incredible degree of practiced ease, as if I am sitting with my laptop while munching on a handful of peanuts! It is creamy, comforting and I actually do not know of anybody who does not like this particular dessert..

Akki Paysa

Serves 8 ||  Calories per serving (Kcl) | total 284 | Protein 10 |  fat 17 || Fiber 0.4 gm |

Rice a handful about 1/4 cup (I used Basmati)
Whole milk 2 liters
Sugar 1/2 cup (adjust according to taste)
Saffron a few strands
Cardamon 2
Raisins a handful
Cashew a handful
Ghee 2 tsp

  • Wash rice in several changes of water. Drain well.
  • Combine the rice and whole milk and bring it to a boil. Add the saffron and ground cardamon. Simmer for about 3 hours stirring periodically and scraping the sides.
  • Heat the ghee in a pan. Drop the raisins and cashews. Toss them in the ghee and cook till golden brown. Set it aside to cool.
  • Once the milk mixture has reduced to a quarter of its original quantity and the rice is cooked, add sugar. Check and adjust if needed more. Pour over the raisin and cashew mixture. Stir. Remove from heat.
  • Once the Payasa cools down to room temperature, pop it into the refrigerator.Serve chilled. The payasa tastes best after it has sat for at least 6 hour. I prefer to sit it overnight in the refrigerator.Enjoy!!

Happy new year

Wishing you all a very happy, prosperous new year..

Happy eating!