Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sprouted Moong Pulao - A new beginning

When life gives you lemons, go make lemonade! When I was given this box of beautiful looking sprouted moong from my friend T, I had to make something wonderful out of it... Did I tell you that I don't eat sprouted moongs already ? So I made this flavorful pulao and trust me anyone (even me who doesn't like sprouted moong) will fall in love with this dish...

While we are talking of life and lemons, it has been a crazy few months. I will be changing jobs after being at the same place for eons. Today was my last day at my old place and I start at my new place tomorrow. So here is to a new beginning for me and anyone who is reading this!

So here is a simple flavorful and healthy pulao everyone - Enjoy!


2 cups of cooked Rice
1 and 1/2 cup of sprouted moong
2-3 Bay leaves
couple of cloves
2 small sticks of cinnamon
1 tea spoon of red chili powder (if you want to make it a little spicy)
1 tablespoon of ghee
1 tea spoon of Jeera or Cumin Seeds
1 tea spoon of lemon juice
Salt to taste (optional)

How To

Cook Rice with a little bit of salt (Salt is optional). Make sure the rice is not over done.
Heat a pan. Add ghee and bay leaves and and the cumin seeds and the cloves and cinnamon sticks.
Once the seeds splutter, add the sprouted moong and cook for about 5-7 min until the moong softens a little bit.
Add the red chili powder (if you want) and Salt and mix the rice.
Add the lemon juice to the rice and moong pulao and serve fresh.

Actually you can enjoy it a couple of days later too, just warm it up and squeeze some fresh lemon juice!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer memories : Potala Aloo Bhaja

I am in a nostalgic spree, so here is my summer time memories again!
Summer was the time for long afternoon siesta and happy munching on makka poda (lightly roasted corn) and chat session (both food and gossip) with cousins. Though I was an only child, I never was lonely during summer vacations. Either lots of my cousins would come over and we would spend  time wrestling, chatting, teasing each other at our place or we would all head over to my grandma's place.All meals would be on the floor with us lined up against the wall and eating on banana leaves (if it isn't pakhala of course) while mom and aunts would keep serving us. Any and everything seemed yum and palatable then, even things that seemed disgusting at home. One of the things that I didn't like growing up was potala or parwal or pointed gourd. In summer there used to be very few vegetables available and potala used to be abundant. And it didn't help that we had a huge garden where this grew in abundance. One of the following potala dishes: potalo rasa, potala bhaja, potala stuffed , aloo potalo tarkari or potalo chutney would be made nearly every day! And I wasn't a happy camper.

Things changed when I started working in Delhi. Summers in Delhi were worse. Very few vegetables were available and the prices were atrocious. And after few years there, I started missing potala during summer. And now I am a serious convert and don't hesitate to buy it at 7$ a pound from the local Indian grocery whenever I see it and sometimes even get from the frozen section.
 The fry here is made from the fresh potala/parwal.

1/2 pound of potala or parwal
1/4 pound of potatoes (you can add more if you want)
1 table spoon of ginger garlic paste
1 tea spoon of turmeric powder
1 tea spoon of chili powder
2 table spoon of oil (I used olive oil)
1 tea spoon of Cumin powder or garam masala powder (not both)
Salt to taste

How To
Peel the potala/parwal.
 Cut the potatoes and potala/parwal in thin stripes.
Heat the oil in the pan. Add the potatoes and potala and cook for 2-3 minutes in medium heat.
Add the ginger garlic paste, salt, turmeric and chili powder and mix well.
Reduce heat, cover and cook until the potatoes and potala cook through (about 20 min).
Add the cumin powder or garam masala and cook on high heat for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Remembering Aei - my grandma

I had been planning to write this post since a long time. But I was scared to jinx anything. But the inevitable happened.  This post is an ode to one of the most amazing persons in my life - My grandma or Aei (in Odiya we call her this).

Born in 1922, in the pre-independence era, she was amazingly forward thinking for her age. She was the first girl to have completed elementary school in her village. She was very good at maths and could do mental math easily even at a later age.

She married and adapted easily to her in-laws family and made everyone her own. Mom to a huge family of 13 kids, she never complained about the work load. She always treated each kid specially and I don't think any of her kid lfelt ess loved than the other.

And yes they always had guests. "Atithi devo bhava" - was something that is still practiced in her house. If there is not enough food for the guest, she would skip a meal to ensure that the guest is fed! Drivers, gardeners, anyone who steps into her house is fed and fed well like her own child. 

I also saw diversity at best in her house. They had family friends from all religions and the kids from those families considered her as their mom too. I remember an occasion where an Uncle (my mama's friend) who had just returned from Haj, came over to visit Aei after the trip to take her blessings. Oh and the goodies that came during Christmas from the Christian family friends, I think only the best was ever sent over.

I was her oldest grand child and obviously treated very specially. I have such great memories of childhood spent at her house every summer. She was one person who treated me as her equal even when I was a kid and discussed all her feelings with me. We used to chat late into the night after everyone slept off. I learnt how not to judge people based on my conversations with her. (OK it is still a learning process for me - something she had mastered really well). She had a kind thought for everyone and even at this age inquired about everyone's well being while she herself was ailing...

Aei turned 90 in April and passed away last month. Though I am sad, I know she had a rich life and lived a good life. She passed away at her oldest daughter's house, surrounded by her kids and grand kids.

I will miss you Aei but I know you have gone on to a better life! You will make your next abode nicer and pleasanter for everyone around you!

Blogger friends, thanks for the comments and inquiries over the last month. I wanted to take some time to get my thoughts together and write this post. I don't think I have done justice to such an amazing person, but this is my small tribute to her!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kancha Kadali Bara (Green Plantain Cutlet)

Last year when I was on a quick getaway with school friends, my cousin E volunteered to stay over the weekend. She made this for the kids at home and it was a super-duper hit! This is a super yummy side dish and loaded with tonnes of healthy stuff too. Green plantain is rich in iron and the fresh herbs add a unique flavor to the dish. I have no problem getting my kids to eat (if I don't add the green chillies). It is a staple in our house these days and gets made at least once a week! She says that you can add these baras/cutlets to a spicy tomato based curry to make kofta curry! But my baras get finished off as is and the kofta curry is still on my to-do list.


2 large plantains
5-6 large potatoes
1 large onion chopped fine

Green chillies cut into small pieces (optional if making for the kids)
1 bunch of coriander leaves
1 bunch of mint leaves
1/2 inch ginger - grated

Salt to taste
1/2 lemon (optional) or 1 tea spoon amchur powder (optional)
Oil to pan fry the baras

How To

Take the skin of the plantain and boil them with the potatoes in a pressure cooker for 1-2 whistles. If you dont want, to take the skin off the plantain before boiling then leave the plantain skin on, boil and then take the skin off.
Peal the skin of the potatoes and plantain (if you haven't done it earlier). The skin comes off super easy!
Mash the boiled potatoes and boiled raw plantain well.
Add the chopped onions, green chillies, grated ginger, chopped mint and coriander leaves.
Add either the amchur powder or lemon and salt and mix well.
Make small sized balls once the mixture has cooled down and can be worked with hand.

Shallow fry in low heat in a nonstick skillet with a tea spoon of bara per batch. Once done, flip to the other side and cook again for a few minutes. Enjoy yummy and healthy kancha kadali baras with rice and dal.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Pana Sankranti with chatua

Also celebrated as the Odiya New Year! Happy Odiya Nua Barsa!
We celebrate all our festivals with food - of course. Usually it is very hot in Odisha by this time and we offer panna (a special drink) as offering to God. I had made fruity pana a few years back and I have also posted  mango pana. The pana that is most popular in Odisha for panna sankranti is bela pana. All these drinks help in cooling the body!

My mother in law offers chatua as offering to god on Pana Sankranti along with the Watermelon Pana. Chatua is a very healthy mixture of whole grains, pulses and nuts. The whole grains are dry roasted in low fire and so are the pulses and nuts. Then the mixture is sent over to the local neighborhood mill for grinding. It is mixed with milk and banana and gur (jaggery)  and served to god. Then you can add additional fruits and enjoy. The left over mixture of chatua powder can be stored in an air tight container and eaten for breakfast.

1 cup whole wheat grains
1/2 cup channa dal or bengal grams
1/2 cup Barley or Jowar seeds (I didn't have it, so I didn't use it)
handful of peanuts
1/2 handful of cashews (use any nuts of your choice)
1/4 cup of gur (Jaggery)
1  banana
2-3 cups of milk (add more if you want a thinner consistency)
fruits of your choice (I used apple, orange and cucumber)
fresh coconut flakes (optional)

How To

Dry roast the wheat grains, bengal gram one by one. Do the same for the nuts. Easier to dry roast them separately so that you don't burn anything.
Once the nuts and pulses and grains cool, grind them in your grinder of your choice. I used my coffee/spice grinder and did them in small batches.The chatua powder is ready.
Mix the chatua powder with milk and mashed bananas and jaggery.
Add fruits and coconut flakes as per taste and enjoy.

Additionally I saw  in the news that chatua powder is being offered as a cheap and healthy supplement for pregnant and lactating mothers in Odisha.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Quick fix for lunch - paneer, chole pulao

I love Odiya food, which means a lot of rice and fish. I love my rice and in all forms whether it is pakhala or fried rice or ghee anna or chuda bhaja. I also realized that I do have few other rice dishes here too, well I guess I cook rice variations often. But these days with my attempts at eating healthy, I am trying to take a more wholesome meal to work for lunch. This is still rice, so still loads of carbohydrates, but I have added some nuts, chole, paneer and raita to balance the meal out a bit. This is all made from left over chole, paneer from the previous day, so if you dont have have paneer or chole, feel free to play with the protein/nut of your choice. Add some boiled veggies or frozen veggies and it will be even more nutritious! Here is to healthy good food!

1 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup chole
some paneer chunks
3-4 cashew, broken into bits
1 tea spoon of Shaan Biryani Masala
1 green chili
Mint leaves - handful
Salt to taste
1 tea spoon of Olive Oil

How To

Heat a spoon of oil on medium heat in large pan. When it is hot, add the cashew bits.
Then add the green chillies and paneer, and keep stirring until paneer turns slightly golden in color.
Now add the cooked chole and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Now add the rice, salt and Shaan biryani masala and mint leaves and mix well and remove from the fire.
Pack lunch and enjoy at work with some minty cucumber raita!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quinoa Upma

"A" aunty, our neighbor (yes we have an neighbor here in US who gets us food at times, isn't that awesome?) - came over with this Upma to our place. "Kinwa" - whats that I asked ? Then she spelled it out - Quinoa . She said it was one of the healthiest whole grains with high protein content, that doesn't spike the blood sugar levels. She is 70, looks 60 and is active like a 40 year old. Well if she eats it and says it is good for you - has to be! I bought a packet of this from the local grocery store and have been experimenting since... It is slightly tough to chew, and has a different tast to it, but takes on the flavors of the spices pretty well. I used it in place of Suji or Rava here to make upma... You can use it as a rice substitute too! So go ahead and try this unique cereal/grain and let me know how you like it. If you have any recipes using Quinoa, let me know and I will be happy to try them!


2/3 cup Quinoa
1 small Onion - finely chopped
1 carrot- diced
10-12 green beans cut into small pieces
1 boiled potato - diced
1/2 inch of ginger - grated

handful of peanuts
1-2 green chillies

1 tea spoon of mustard seeds
1 tea spoon of cumin seeds
1 tea spoon of urad dal
1 tea spoon of channa dal
1 table spoon of cooking oil
fresh curry leaves a bunch
Salt to taste

How to

Bring 1 and 1/2 cups of water to a boil, add salt and quinoa. Let it simmer covered in a pan for 15-18 mins. When completely cooked, fluff with a fork and set aside.

In a separate pan, heat oil, splutter mustard and cumin seeds. Add green chillies and curry leaves and peanuts and urad dal and channa dal and stir.

Add the chopped onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables (carrots and beans) and some salt, cook it covered for a few minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked, add grated ginger and the diced boiled potatoes and mix well.

When the vegetables are completely cooked add the boiled quinoa. Check for salt and mix well.

Let it stand on low flame for about 2 minutes. Turn off the stove and eat it warm. Squeeze half a lemon - will taste great too. Else sprinkle some coriander leaves. Make it yours!

Enjoy! I like mine with a little bit of coriander chutney !

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    Happy Holi with Methi Mathri

    I called home and Mom was making preparations for  Holi. Usually she makes Dahi Vada and Aloo Dum and Spicy Bhujias for Holi... When I was young, my Papa's friends would come in huge groups of 10-15 to play Holi. Mom would have Dahi Vada and Aloo Dum prepared and ready for a group of 10. Once the 1st batch of men would leave, she and her team would quickly clean up the plates and get ready for the next batch of papa's friends. This would continue until noon. After noon, a big group of 10-15 ladies would come over with kids so that the moms could go play Holi. Holi was one colorful and Happy event! Happy Holi everyone - wherever you are! 

    I made Methi Mathri to celebrate Holi. I am not brave enough to try Bhujias or Sevs and I did want to make something spicy and fried to keep the Holi spirit going. I called up Mom and took her recipe and tweaked it a little bit. It was really fun making (with Hindi music blasting in the background) these Mathris and remembering Happy Holi times...


    1 cup Maida
    1 cup Atta (whole wheat flour) 
    1/3 cup sooji or rava
    Salt to taste (I added about 1 tablespoon, but you can put a little bot more if you want it salty)
    1 tablespoon of dried Kasoori methi (crumbled well with your hand)
    1 tea spoon of ajwain seeds
    1/2 tea spoon of black pepper powder
    1/2 cup oil for making the dough
    Additional oil for frying

    How To

    Start with mixing the dry ingredients (Atta, Maida, Sooji, Kasoori Methi, ajwain seeds, salt and black pepper powder) nicely in a large bowl.
    Add a few tablespoons of oil to the mixture and mix well. Keep adding the oil in small quantities and kneading the mixture, until all the oil is incorporated and you get a mixture that looks like crumbs.

    Add warm water and make a dough. Cover with a warm towel and leave aside for 15-20 min.
    Make small bowls and roll out the dough (thick circles). I cant make circles, so I used a circular bottle cover to cut mine into shape.
    Take a spoon/bread knife and prick the circles on both sides.
    Now when you fry these circles in medium heat, they don't puff up like pooris.
    Fry the circles in medium heat, until you get nice golden color Mathris.

    Enjoy Mathris and have a Happy Holi!

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    My favorite drink for winter - Hot chocolate

    Happy Valentine's day

    The minute I reach India, I go looking for a Nescafe vending machine. But people's taste has changed in India I guess, I don't find a single Nescafe coffee machine, until I reach Bhubaneshwar airport! Well I do know there is no Nescafe machines here, so I stick to drinking hot chocolate. I love the Starbucks hot chocolate made from the sachet. I also stock up on the Hot Chocolate powder served in Williams Sonoma during Christmas! And so when I am home and want something to indulge on - its a piping hot cup of hot chocolate. Knowing my ever crazy love for chocolates and hot chocolates, I got these bars of chocolates as gifts this Christmas. So I had to try a yummy cuppa with this...

    How To 

    So its simple. Take some good quality chocolate and add some 1/4 cup milk and put in the microwave for 30 seconds. Take out, mix and put back in the microwave until the chocolate is melted. Add sugar per taste, add some milk and microwave for 1 more minute. Now enjoy your hot chocolate.

    Add marshmallows if you want! Shave some chocolate on top if you want! Have fun - go ahead and indulge!

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Spicy Mexican soup

    It was yet another cold chilly evening. I came back from work with my mind set on this soup! Don't ask me how or why. I wanted to have a spicy soup. I searched on the web for a spicy soup and this soup  is a combination of several recipes I saw. I went to the grocery store and bought the canned stuff and the tortilla chips! I felt the chips would add a nice crunch to the spiciness of the soup. Unfortunately my son took a fancy to the chips and finished them all! Hey add the chips if you have them, the soup is great even without it.

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 large onion diced
    2-3 large green/yellow/orange peppers
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2- chopped jalapenos
    2 tablespoons ground cumin
    1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes with chipotle peppers
    1  whole corn cob boiled and then its kernels removed from the cob
    salt and pepper to taste
    handful of coriander leaves 

    tortilla chips - as much needed  (optional)
    1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
    dollop of sour cream (optional) 

    How To

    Turn on the broiler. Cut the green/yellow peppers and sprinkle oil and char in the broiler for 10 min. Let it cool and cut into small pieces (remove the black pieces if any on the peppers).
    Heat about 1 table spoon oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and minced garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add the charred peppers and the ground cumin.
    Mix in the tomatoes with the chipotle from the can. Add the chopped jalapenos. Pour in about 2-3 cups of water, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes.
    Mix the corn into the soup, and continue cooking 5 minutes.

    Serve in bowls and add coriander leaves and tortilla chips (if you have any). Top with cheese (if desired) or sour cream.

    While you enjoy this spicy soup, I would like to thank Viki for sending over these lovely awards... Thanks Viki! Hop over to her blog to see the yummy treats she creates and shares...

    See you again soon!

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    Happy New Year 2012

    Here is wishing everyone a lovely New Year ahead! Also my toddling blog turns 3 today. I know I haven't been a regular here, but have to celebrate this blogging birthday with a cake today. I love mangoes and when I saw this cake at Evolving Tastes I knew I had to make it once. I love the taste of this cake, but it reminds me more of a rava mango halwa, than a mango cake... Hey but if you like sweets and like mangoes, you will enjoy it, after all whats in a name!


    2 and 1/2 cup suji/rava
    3 cups Mango pulp ( I used store bought Kesar Mango pulp)
    1/2 cup Butter (melted)
    1/2 cup sugar
    2 and 1/2 tea spoon baking powder
    1 tea spoon ground cardamom
    handful of raisins and cashew nut (optional)

    How To
    This is a super easy recipe. Mix the dry ingredients separately from the wet ones initially. You don't need a mixie or a beater.
    Then combine all the ingredients together and set aside for 10-15 min.
    Pre heat oven to 375 F.
    Pour the batter into a baking pan and bake the cake for 25-30 min.

    This measurement made 1 big cake and 6 cup cakes.
    As suggested by Evolving Tastes in the comments below, please use fine suji for a cake like texture.
    My cake was over-baked and less sweet. So keep an eye on the cake, once done remove from the oven. It should be a nice golden yellow color cake.
    My cake was slightly less sweet, so I sprinkled some powdered sugar. You can add an orange glaze.
    I also tried mine with hazel nut spread! I found it divine - you tell me how you enjoyed it ?

    My cup cake with icing sugar dusting and hazel nut spread