Creating a blog was out of the question for a long time for me, as measuring everything in the kitchen was like biting into an eggshell. I enjoy cooking and don’t want to waste even a slightest bit of enjoyment in that small world of mine. But little did I know that everything will change, when my husband came home with the Oscar nominated film ‘Julie and Julia’( a real life story) where Julie Powell (part played by Amy Adams) challenged herself to make all the 524 recipes from Julia Child's cook book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ and blogging all her experiences (The Julie/Julia Project). It was an inspiring movie. A few days later when we were discussing this casually with a friend of ours over tea…everything changed dramatically…..” How about you making at least half of it in one year? Not French but your own. 262 recipes that will inspire others and present it as a blog?” For a minute my mind traveled faster than light… With an experience as a helper in my mother in laws kitchen for 6 years followed by a three year everyday struggle to satisfy the palate of my foodie husband, if I cannot do it then why should I cook? But on the other side with an experience in English literature extending no more than expanding outline stories in English grammar class when I was 18 and two small kids that come in handy at times, will a commitment for the next one year work? Anyway my ‘cook's ego’ didn’t allow me to say no...

So my friends …here I am opening my recipe book, trying to perfect and present 262 recipes in the coming 365 days….A Challenge that will of course tastes good. Come.. Have a walk with me along my journey.. Cheering and inspiring….Forgiving and tolerating…Testing and tasting….for ‘A Tasty Challenge’

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Swiss Chocolate Cream Cake

Recipe No: 300
On May 10th 2012 ‘A Tasty Challenge’ celebrated its 2nd birthday. I have a great satisfaction when I think of the very first post I published two years back. I thank all my friends and family who supported me in this venture….
This is also the 300th recipe I am posting, (Including the ones that I left uncounted when I did the 262 recipe challenge) and to make the occasion special I made this Swiss Chocolate Cream Cake. Even though the steps in making this Cake are simple, it takes a bit of time to reach the point where you can eat the Cake. But once you taste it you will feel like you are paid for your patience.
Ingredients                                        Serves 14-16
To make the Sponge Cake (You can use Sponge Fingers/ Lady fingers instead)
  • Eggs………………........3
  • Sugar………………......1/2 Cup
  • Vanilla Essence……..1/2 Teaspoon
  • All Purpose Flour…..2/3 Cup (Maida)
  • Corn Starch/ Flour…2 Tablespoons
  • Salt………………….…...a pinch
  • Baking Powder….…..1/3 Teaspoon
  • Baking Soda……….…1/4 Teaspoon
  • Butter…………………..2 Tablespoons
  • Milk………………….….3 Tablespoons
To make the Chocolate Cream
  • Chocolate Chips…............2/3 Cup (I used Semisweet Chocolate;100 grams/ 4 oz)
  • Instant Coffee Powder….1/4 Teaspoon
  • Milk…………………………...1/3 Cup
  • Butter………………………...6 Tablespoons (1/3 Cup)
  • Powdered/Icing Sugar...3/4 Cup
  • Egg Yolk………………….....1
  • Vanilla Essence…………...1/4 Teaspoon
To make the Whipped Cream
  • Heavy Cream……………….1 ¼ Cup
  • Powdered/ Icing Sugar…1/4 Cup
  • Vanilla Essence…………....1/4 Teaspoon
For Decoration
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream 
  • Chopped Nuts or Grated Chocolate
Method of Preparation
To make the Cake
  1. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and grease it. Alternately apply a thin layer of Butter and dust it with Flour.
  2. Sift together All Purpose Flour, Corn Starch/ Corn Flour, Salt, Baking Powder and Baking Soda. Keep it aside till ready to be used.
  3. Preheat the oven to 320˚F/ 160˚C.
  4. Beat together Eggs and Sugar till it is tripled in volume and attains a pale yellow color. (Please refer the picture to see the volume attained.) I did it in a stand mixer. But if you are using a hand mixer or an Egg Beater, please do this step on a double boiler as it makes the whipping easy (This is mentioned in the 'Notes' section for Jam Roll). Add the Vanilla Essence in between.
  5. Heat Milk with Butter till it starts to simmer along the edges (I heated it in the microwave for 20 seconds.) and pour it into the Egg mixture while the beater is still on. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Sift the Flour mixture once more on to the top of the whipped Egg mixture and fold/ mix very gently to combine. Do this process with utmost care as we don’t want to destroy the volume attained; but everything should be combined well. It is better to do this with a spatula.
  7. Pour this mixer into the greased baking tray and bake in a preheated oven for 20-23 minutes.
  8. Once the Cake is spongy and an inserted tooth pick comes out clean, remove it from the oven; tap it twice on the counter; keep the pan upside down on a cooling rack and leave it there to cool.
  9. Once cooled, cut this horizontally into three equal parts and keep it aside till ready to be used.
  • Corn Flour/ Corn Starch is different from Corn Meal and you cannot substitute Corn Flour with Corn Meal.
  • When the Egg reaches its full volume it should be homogenous. The non aerated fluid like portion, if present in the bottom, will make the Cake hard.
  • Tapping the baked Cake on the counter and leaving it upside down to cool can help the cake from falling.
  • Don’t open the oven until the last few minutes of baking or the Cake might fall (sink in the middle).
  • You can avoid the whole step of making this sponge Cake and use Lady Finger Cake/ Sponge fingers instead. (I just want to make sure that my readers can make this even if the Lady/ Sponge Fingers are not readily available in their place.)
  • This Sponge cake recipe can be used for most of the pastries.
To make the Chocolate Cream
  1. Melt the Chocolate Chips and Instant Coffee granules along with half of the Milk in a double boiler (the bowl containing the Chocolate Chips placed in a pan with simmering Water without its bottom touching the Water). When the Chips are melted, remove it from the double boiler and mix in the remaining Milk. Keep it aside till ready to be used.
  2. In the same double boiler, place a bowl with the Egg Yolk and a tablespoon of Water; keep on beating with a whisk until the Yolk is frothy and hot to touch. (Place a finger in the Yolk mixture and make sure it is nicely warm but not too hot; please refer the picture to see  before and after.) Keep on stirring during this process or it will form lumps from the cooked Egg Yolk. Let this cool down a bit.
  3. Cream/ mix together Butter, Powdered Sugar and Vanilla Essence until smooth.
  4. Add the Egg Yolk mixture and the Chocolate mixture to the creamed Butter. Combine this mixture for 4-5 minutes on medium speed or until it is really smooth, creamy, thick and lighter in color. Keep this aside till you are ready to assemble the cake.
  • Let the Chocolate and the Egg mixture cool down before adding into the Butter mixture or the heat will start to melt the Butter making it soupy.
To Make Whipped Cream
  1. Whip together Cream, Sugar and Vanilla Essence till the Cream is stiff. (Meaning the Cream should hold the peak when you take the beater out.)
  • It is good to use Icing/ Confectioner’s Sugar while whipping the Cream, as the Corn Starch present in the Icing Sugar can slightly stabilize (hold the shape) the Cream.
To Assemble the Cake
  1. Line a loaf pan (same one we made the Cake in) with Parchment paper in such a way that there is excess paper on both sides for easy lifting. (Don’t grease the paper now.)
  2. Pour 1/3rd of the Chocolate mixture on the bottom of the tin and cover with a layer of sponge Cake/ fingers and then 1/3rd of the Sweetened Whipped Cream.
  3. Repeat layering in the same order ending with Whipped Cream. Chill this thoroughly for at least 8 hours. (Overnight is the best.)
  4. Turn the Cake upside down on a nice plate; peel off the parchment paper, cover with Sweetened Whipped Cream; decorate as you wish (with Chopped Nuts, Chocolate curls, Chocolate rectangles, Chocolate Wafer cookies or Chocolate Cylinder Cookies) and serve cold.
  • Chilling the Cake is important here, as it will give time for the moisture from the Chocolate filling and the Whipped Cream to sweep into the Cake, making it soft and moist. (I prefer to chill it overnight; finish decorating and Chill again for another 8 hours. The waiting period is the hardest in making this Cake, but it is totally worthy…)
To make the Decorations
  1. It is up to you to decide what to decorate the Cake with. Here are some of the suggestions…
  •  Sweetened Whipped Cream (Make it the same way we made Whipped Cream for layering) to cover the Cake with.
  • Chocolate Curls. To make it, melt Semisweet Chocolate Chips until smooth and spread thinly (If it is thick it won't form curls) on the back of a parchment paper lined (use a tape to fix the paper) cookie sheet. Chill it for a few minutes (like 4-5 minutes) and scrape off the Chocolate curls with a knife as shown in the picture.
  • Marbled Chocolate pieces. Spread the (spread it thicker than Chocolate curls) melted White and Semisweet Chocolate on the back of a parchment paper lined (use a tape to fix the paper) cookie sheet so that it makes a marbled design; (please refer the picture) chill it for 1 minute (not more); make cutting marks on the Chocolate with a knife (Make the cuts while the Chocolate is still soft) and let it cool completely in the fridge for at least an hour. Take it out and separate the pieces. (If you try to cut the pieces after the Chocolate solidifies, the Chocolate will break off easily; so make the marks before cooling the chocolate.)

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and
serve it to your family with love…

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Nadan/ Kerala Chicken Curry

Recipe No: 299
This is my 'everyday Chicken Curry' and the recipe comes from my Mother.  Of course, there are some differences in the method of preparation between our dishes, but tastes almost the same. So here is it...
Ingredients                                             Serves 4
  • Oil…………………………........4 Tablespoons
  • Red Chilly Powder….........1 ½ Teaspoons
  • Coriander Powder….........2 Teaspoons
  • Turmeric Powder…….......1/2 Teaspoon
  • Garam Masala Powder…3/4 Teaspoon (Homemade is the best)
  • Ginger Garlic Paste……..2 Teaspoons (Instead use 6 big cloves of Garlic and an inch Ginger crushed)
  • Chicken…………………........650 Grams (Cut into medium sized pieces)
  • Onion sliced Thin……......1 ¼ Cup
  • Curry Leaves……………....2 Sprigs
  • Tomato sliced……………...½ Large/ 1 medium
  • Thick Coconut Milk……...1/4 Cup
For Tempering
  • Coconut Oil………………...1 Tablespoon
  • Mustard Seeds…………....1/2 Teaspoon
  • Shallots sliced thin……...2
  • Curry Leaves……………....1 sprig
Method of Preparation
  1. Heat 2 Teaspoons of Oil in a pan on medium low heat and fry Red Chilly Powder, Coriander Powder, Turmeric Powder and Garam Masala Powder for a minute or until fragrant. Do stir throughout to avoid burning.
  2. Add the Ginger Garlic paste to the fried Masala Powder and cook well stirring continuously for about another minute or till the raw smell is gone.
  3. Add the Chicken and Salt; mix well on high heat and let it fry for a minute.
  4. Pour a cup of Water to the Chicken; mix well; cover the pan and let it boil. Once boiled, lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. During that time, heat 2 Tablespoons of Oil in another pan on medium high heat and saute the thinly sliced Onion and Curry Leaves till the Onion is golden brown. Stir only now and then in the beginning but do stir continuously towards the end to ensure even browning and to avoid burning. (Please check the picture to know the level of browning.)
  6. Once the Onion is browned, mix it with  the simmering Chicken together with the Tomato and let it continue cooking till the Chicken is tender for about another 15- 20 minutes.
  7. Once the Chicken is nicely cooked and the gravy is reduced to a desired consistency, add the Coconut Milk and mix well. Check for Salt and add more if needed.
  8. Switch off the heat and prepare the tempering.
  9. Heat Coconut Oil in another pan on medium high heat and splutter the Mustard seeds.
  10. Add the sliced Shallots and Curry Leaves; fry till they are golden brown and pour this on top of the prepared Curry along with the remaining Oil.
  11. Sprinkle a pinch of Garam Masala Powder and a sprig of Curry Leaf on top of the Curry and keep it covered for 30 minutes. Mix well before serving it warm with Rice, Flat Breads, Appam, Idiyappam or Bread.
  • Burning the Spice Powders or the Onion will ruin the taste of this dish. So do take extra care during those steps.
  • Sometimes the Tomato will not be able to give the necessary sourness to the Curry, especially if it is very ripe. In that case add a few drops of Vinegar towards the end. The Curry shouldn’t be sour but you will know that something is missing if a bit of sourness is not present. So adjust according to your taste.
  • The time you keep the prepared dish covered at the end is called ‘Pathrapakam’ as per the elders, which means the dish should sit in the pan in which it is made for some time to get the real taste.
  • Sauteing Onion side by side with Chicken will reduce the total time of preparation.
  • You can add cubed Potato to this curry along with the fried Onion if you like. In that case add some Salt together with the Potato . Also reduce the resting time at the end to 15 minutes to avoid Potatoes from being over cooked. Don’t let the Potato over cook or the taste of the Curry will change. (The picture at the end has Potatoes in it.)
  • You can avoid tempering at the end, but doing it, especially in Coconut Oil, gives a very desirable smell and taste to the dish.

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and
serve it to your family with love…

Monday, May 7, 2012

Thakkali Pachadi/ Tomato in Yogurt

Recipe No: 296
This is not a traditional Pachadi recipe, but it is something like a Pachadi and a very easy recipe that goes well with warm Rice.
Ingredients                            Serves 3
  • Oil…………………….....1 ½ Tablespoons
  • Mustard Seeds…......1/4 Teaspoon
  • Onion……………….....1/4 Cup (Cut into thin 2 cm. long slices)
  • Ginger………………….1/4 Teaspoon (chopped fine)
  • Green Chilly………….1 small (sliced thin; around ½ Teaspoon)
  • Curry Leaves…………1 Sprig
  • Red Chilly Powder…1/2 Teaspoon
  • Coriander Powder….1/2 Teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder…..a Pinch (Optional)
  • Tomato…………………1/3 Cup (cut into cubes)
  • Curd/ Yogurt………...1/2 Cup
  • Salt and Sugar to taste
Method of Preparation
  1. Heat Oil in a pan on medium heat and splutter the Mustard Seeds.
  2. Add the Onion, Ginger, Green Chilly, Curry Leaves and Salt; saute till the Onion is wilted. (Don’t let it brown.)
  3. Reduce the flame to low and add Red Chilly Powder, Coriander Powder and Turmeric Powder; fry for a few seconds till the raw smell is gone.
  4. Add the Tomato and saute till it starts to mash. (Don’t let it mash too much.)
  5. Switch off the heat and let it cool down completely.
  6. Beat the Curd so that it is smooth and add the cooled Onion- Tomato mixture. Check for the Salt and add more if needed.
  7. Mix in a pinch of Sugar so that the taste is balanced. (You will need a good pinch of Sugar if the Curd is too sour.)
  8. Serve it with warm Rice.
  • Let the Tomato mixture cool thoroughly before mixing with the Yogurt or the Yogurt may separate spoiling the whole dish.
  • The balance of sourness, sweetness and saltiness is the beauty of this dish and adding a pinch of Sugar in the end brings all of them together. Please adjust the amount of Sugar depending on the sourness of the Yogurt and your taste.

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…

Friday, May 4, 2012


Julie of Erivum Puliyum Passed this award to me. Let me take this opportunity to say how honored I am...
'Liebster' means favorite  or dearest in German.

I would like to pass this award to these amazing and talented fellow bloggers...
Sojo of My Culinary Experiments
Bindu of Adukkalathalam
Yummy O Yummy
Tina of Kaipunyam
Umm Mymoonah of Taste Of Pearl City

In accepting the award,the recipient agrees to :
- Thank the person that gave the award and link back to their blog.
-Copy and paste the award to your blog.
-Reveal the 5 blogs you have chosen for the award and let them know by commenting on their blog.

Surabhi Nayak of My Cook Book passed on these awards a few days back... Let me take time to thank her...



I am supposed to write 7 random facts about me. As I already did that in another post..., I am avoiding the step...

I would like to pass these awards to these fellow bloggers...
Reshmi of EasY CooK
Amina Khaleel of Amina Creations
Annz of Anzz Cafe
Sayantani of A Homemaker's Diary
Vimitha Anand of My Culinary Trial Room
Vardhini of Cooks Joy
Poornima Nair of Tasty Treats

Now this is what you have to do
  1. Please accept the award and post it in your blog with the name of the person who has given you the award with his or her blog link.
  2. Share 7 completely random pieces of information about you.
  3. Include these set of rules.
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and let them know about the award by leaving a comment in their blog.
Thanks a lot once more for showering me with encouragement....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Recipe No: 295
I considered myself as one of the biggest consumers of Jujips back in India and have no idea that this can be made at home until this recipe aired on ‘Magic Oven’, a long time back. The original recipe is  slightly changed so that it can be made by ingredients available here in United States. (I will mention the substitutes along the way.) Even though substituted with the available ingredients, this recipe came out perfect.
  • Gelatin…………………..............3 Tablespoons (If using sachets, use 4)
  • Water………….........................1/2 + 3/4 Cup
  • Light Corn Syrup…................1 Teaspoon (Original recipe called for Liquid Glucose)
  • Sugar……………………..............1 ½ Cups
  • Salt………………………..............a dash
  • Lemon Juice……………...........1 ½ Tablespoons
  • Coarsely ground Sugar….....½ Cup
  • Food Colors and Essences….2-3 drops each
Method of Preparation
  1. Soak Gelatin in ½ cup cold/ room temperature Water for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Boil ¾ cup Water in a deep heavy bottom pan on high heat and add Sugar and Salt. Stir and let it dissolve.
  3. When it comes to a boil, add the soaked Gelatin and let it melt. Wait till the mixture boils again.
  4. Once boiled, lower the heat to medium and let it cook for 15 minutes. (This has a tendency to boil over, so please do keep an eye on it and stir often to avoid burning on the bottom. Don’t be shy to set your kitchen timer for 15 minutes during this process.)
  5. Add the light Corn Syrup and continue stirring for another minute and a half.
  6. Stir in the Lemon Juice and switch off the flame.
  7. Pour this into another bowl and remove the foam as much as possible. (Divide this mixture now if you are making more than one flavor.)
  8. Add Food Color and Essence to the Gelatin mixture. (Repeat this for the other portions also if you are making more flavors.)
  9. Take a flat bottomed plate/ tray and spread 3-4 drops of Water and Oil each on the bottom. (This will help to remove the Jujips easily from the tray. Prepare one tray/ plate for each flavor.)
  10. Pour the Gelatin mixture into the prepared plate and let it cool for 12- 16 hours at room temperature. (overnight is the best) By this time the Gelatin mixture will be solidified.
  11. Once solidified, run the knife along the edges; sprinkle some Sugar on top (to avoid sticking) and take the whole thing out on to a cutting board. Sprinkle generous amounts of Sugar on top and cut it into small pieces. It may stick to the knife, but sugar will help you through.
  12. Roll each piece in Sugar and serve. Do store the rest in air tight containers in a cool place. (Room temperature is the best, but if it is too high, do refrigerate. I prefer refrigeration only if the Sugar coating starts to melt.) 
  • Liquid Glucose, which is present in the original recipe is not available in United States and Light Corn Syrup is the best substitute.
  • Soaking Gelatin in Cold/ room temperature Water is extremely important or it may not thicken the Jujips as intended.
  • Keeping an eye throughout the preparation of Jujips and continuous stirring (as much as possible if not fully) is advised.
  • As the foam/ scum that forms on top of the Gelatin mixture ruins the appearance and texture of the Jujips, do remove it as much as possible.
  • The tray/ plate in which you cool the Gelatin mixture decide the thickness of the Jujips. So if you are not dividing the mixture, do take a larger plate.
  • Sugar that is available in US is finely granulated; so no need to grind it when used for coating. But if Sugar available in your area has bigger granules (like those available in India) do grind it a bit before using.
  • Customize the flavors of Jujips by using different Extracts and Essences; but do go for the fruit flavors. Don’t forget to pair it with matching food colors. (I mean, if you are using Banana Extract, do use Yellow Food Color.)
  • Here are some of the examples for the color-flavor combinations… Yellow Food Color and Banana Extract, Red Food Color and Strawberry Extract, Orange Food Color and Orange Extract, Mango Extract and a drop each of Yellow and Orange Food Color; Tonovin for Grape flavor (as Tonovin Essence itself give the color, no need to add separate food color), Lime/ Lemon Extract with no food color (this will have a cream color without any food color) etc: - Please be creative about the flavors...
  • Making Jujips in different flavors make it interesting.

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…

Friday, April 27, 2012

Vanpayar Mezhukkupuratti/ Sauteed Red Mung Beans

Recipe No: 294
Ingredients                                             Serves 3-4
  • Vanpayar/ Red Mung Beans…1/2 Cup
  • Oil………………………………………2 Tablespoons
  • Shallots…………………………..…..5
  • Garlic cloves………………………..3 Big/ 6 small
  • Curry Leaves……………………...1 Sprig
  • Red Chilly………………………..…3-4 (substitute with crushed Red Chilly according to your taste)
  • Salt to taste
Method of Preparation
  1. Wash the Beans thoroughly and boil it on high heat together with 1 ½ Cups of Water. Once boiled, reduce the flame to low and let it cook until tender.
  2. When you feel that the Beans is almost cooked but a bit of Water still remains, add the necessary Salt; mix well and let the Water evaporate and the Beans finish cooking. (The best way to check whether the Beans are cooked is by biting into one of them. If it is soft, it is done and don’t wait for the skin to split open.)
  3. Switch off the heat and keep aside until needed.
  4. Crush together Shallots, Garlic and the Red Chilly (If you are using Chilly Flakes don’t crush it; just add it to the Oil while sauteing) in a Mortar and Pestle slightly. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, do use a food processor (or just slice it thin in extreme cases), but please don’t make it too fine. (This process can be done while cooking the Beans.)
  5. Heat Oil a pan or a wok on high heat and saute the crushed ingredients together with Curry Leaves for about 30 seconds. (Don’t let it burn; do stir)
  6. Add the cooked Beans; mix well; reduce the heat to medium low and let it fry for about 8-10 minutes or till the required texture is attained. (I like it a bit on the crispy side.) Don't forget to stir now and then in order to avoid burning on the bottom.
  7. Switch off the heat and serve it hot with Rice.
  • The extent to which the Beans should be cooked for this recipe require special mention. It shouldn’t be mashed; but cooked well enough so that it remains soft. This process will take around 20-30 minutes, so please don’t try to rush the process.
  • Red Beans can be cooked in a Pressure cooker but take care not to overcook. You may have to drain the excess water in that case to prevent overcooking; but discarding the cooking liquid, which may contain the nutrition, can be avoided if cooked on stove top.
  • Don’t add Salt at the beginning of the cooking process as it will increase the cooking time of the Beans. But don’t forget to add Salt before it is done cooking; otherwise the Beans will not absorb Salt.
  • Coconut Oil is not a must for this recipe even though it tastes the best.

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stuffed Mushrooms

Recipe No: 293
This is the simplified vegetarian version of the Chicken Stuffed Mushrooms that I posted earlier. It is easy, delicious and perfect for an appetizer.
Ingredients                                                    Serves 3
  • Mushrooms…………......8 oz/ 227 Grams/ 12 small Mushrooms
  • Oil……………………………1 Tablespoon
  • Onion chopped………....1/3 Cup
  • Garlic chopped fine…..1 big clove
  • Cream Cheese…………..4 oz/ ½ Cup/ 125 grams (At room temperature)
  • Bread Crumbs…………..1/4 Cup
  • Butter……………………...1 Teaspoon
  •  Salt and Pepper to taste
Method of Preparation
  1. Clean the Mushrooms and remove the stems taking care not to break the caps.
  2. Chop the stems finely and keep aside till ready to be used.
  3. Heat Oil in a pan on medium high heat and saute the Onion and Garlic till slightly translucent.
  4. Add the chopped Mushroom stems and saute till it is cooked for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add necessary Salt and pepper and switch off the heat. Let this mixture cool to a room temperature.
  6. Once the mixture is cooled, mix in Cream Cheese and make sure the seasonings are on spot.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400˚F/ 205˚C.
  8. Lightly salt the Mushroom Caps and fill it with the Cream Cheese mixture. It is okay if some of the filling covers the top of the Mushrooms rims especially, if the space inside the Mushroom cap is very small. Repeat this with all the Mushroom and place them on a greased baking tray.
  9. In another bowl, melt Butter and mix it with the Bread crumbs.
  10. Sprinkle the Bread Crumbs over the stuffed Mushrooms and bake it in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or till the Bread crumbs are slightly brown and crispy.
  11. Once the Mushrooms are cooked, remove from the oven and serve hot.
  • I used Baby Bella Mushrooms (with a brown cap) in this recipe but regular white button Mushrooms will be good.
  • To clean the mushrooms, I give it a light rinse and wipe it thoroughly to remove the Water. Don’t let the Mushrooms absorb too much Water while rinsing.

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Baked Yogurt

Recipe No: 292
I ate this once from Thiruvananthapuram Taj during our last visit to Kerala a couple of years ago. It was one among the long array of desserts in the dinner buffet but, the best in my opinion. It took a while for me to get this correct but it sure is different, easy and delicious. Here it goes…
Ingredients                                                 Serves 4
  • Greek Yogurt……….1 Cup (Substitute mentioned in ‘notes’)
  • Condensed Milk…..1/2 Cup (Sweetened; Milkmaid)
  • Saffron……………….a pinch
  • Sugar…………………1 Teaspoon
  • Cardamom…………3
Method of Preparation
  1. Take the seeds out of the Cardamom pods and crush it finely in a mortar and pestle (or something in which you can powder stuff in small amounts.).
  2. Add Saffron along with Sugar to the same Mortar with the crushed Cardamom seeds and crush finely.
  3. Mix the crushed mixture with Sweetened Condensed Milk and Yogurt; mix till incorporated evenly. Keep it in the fridge for 5-10 minutes so that the Saffron can infuse properly. (Adjust the sweetness by adding more Milkmaid at this stage depending on the sourness of the Yogurt.)
  4. Pour the Yogurt mixture equally into 4 Ramekins (small bowls that can withstand baking) and cover each of them with Aluminum foil.
To make Baked Yogurt in the Oven
  1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F/ 162˚C.
  2. Place the Ramekins in a big baking tray with hot Water till half way up the Ramekins.
  3. Place this in the preheated oven and bake for 15-17 minutes. Remove it from the oven; take the Ramekins out of the water (be sure to use kitchen mittens to avoid burning) and let it cool.
To make Baked Yogurt on stove top
  1. Heat some Water in a pan (that can fit the Ramekins) to a point just below simmering and place a small kitchen towel in the bottom (The kitchen towel will help to bake the Yogurt evenly.). Place the Ramekins on the towel; close the pan and let it cook for 15-17 minutes. Once cooked, take the Ramekins out of the Water and let it cool.
  2. Things to remember: If cooking on stove top please adjust the temperature of the Water so that it never boils but remains hot. I suggest heating the Water till it starts to form small bubbles on the sides; place the Ramekins and then reduce the temperature to low (not too low) and keep the Water hot throughout cooking. Higher temperature will spoil the texture of the Yogurt. (It will become grainier; but it will still be tasty.)
  3. The level of the Water should be till half way up the Ramekins. Once cooked, take the ramekins out of the Water and let it cool.
Chill the Yogurt for an hour in the Refrigerator. Serve Baked Yogurt in the same Ramekins or run the tip of a knife through the sides and turn it into another plate before serving.(The little yellow specks in the Yogurt is the Saffron.)

  • Please use Yogurt with minimum sourness for this dish. But it is possible to use whole, low fat or fat free Yogurt in this recipe. I used plain fat free Greek Yogurt.
  • I made this dessert with regular yogurt too, but I like it the most when made with Greek Yogurt which is really thick and smooth. But in case Greek Yogurt is not available in your place hang the Yogurt and get rid of all the moisture before making.
  • A very easy way to get rid of the water content in the Yogurt is by the following method. Place a large strainer on top of a bowl so that the bottom of the strainer does not touch the bottom of the bowl (You should leave the space for the straining Water.) Place a cheese cloth (or a cloth with slightly large meshes) on the strainer and put the Yogurt on the cloth. Cover this and let it stand in the fridge for 3-4 hours. By this time most of the Water will be collected at the bottom of the bowl. Discard the Water and use the thickened Yogurt.
  • Saffron is used in this dish for the taste and color. So it is recommended not to use Saffron food color instead. However you can change the flavor of the dish by substituting Saffron and Cardamom with Vanilla extract or Rose Essence if you like.
  • Crushing Saffron along with the Sugar makes the crushing process easy.
  • This dessert should be served slightly cold. If you keep it for longer time in the Refrigerator it will become a bit hard. In that case either keep it at room temperature for sometime  or microwave it for 5-8 seconds to bring down the temperature before serving.

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chicken Pakora/ Pakoda/ Bhaji

Recipe No: 291
There is a small restaurant near our home, here in Alpharetta, which serves these awesome Pakoras. Whenever we go by that area we stop at this restaurant and amazingly kids will never ask ‘are we eating from outside today?’ We all know that we will have Chicken Pakoras at any time of the day, even if we just had our food. This is the result of my desperate attempt to recreate its taste… I will never say that it taste the same but it is pretty close… (I think... I hope...)
Ingredients                                      Serves 6
  • Boneless Chicken……......450 grams (thighs preferred; cut into bite (small) size pieces)
  • Oil for deep frying
To Marinate
  • Salt…………………………....1/2 Teaspoon
  • Pepper Powder………......1/4 Teaspoon
  • Lemon Juice…………….....1 Teaspoon
To Make the Batter
  • Besan/ Chickpea Flour….1/4 Cup (Kadala Mavu)
  • Maida………………………….2 Tablespoons (All Purpose Flour)
  • Rice Flour………………..…..2 Tablespoons
  • Baking Soda………………...1/4 Teaspoon
  • Red Chilly Powder………..1 Teaspoon
  • Salt……………………………..1/2 Teaspoon
  • Garam Masala Powder…1/2 Teaspoon
  • Ginger Garlic Paste……...1/2 Teaspoon
  • Curry Leaves ……………...1 Teaspoon (Cut into very small pieces; 6-8 leaves will do)
  • Coriander Leaves…….…..2 Teaspoons (Cut into very small pieces)
  • Lemon Juice………………..1 Teaspoon
Method of Preparation
  1. Wash the Chicken pieces and drain thoroughly. Wipe off the excess Water as much as possible with a kitchen tissue.
  2. Marinate Chicken with the ingredients mentioned in the ‘to marinate’ section and keep for at least 3-4 hours in the refrigerator. (If you don’t have so much time, please do keep it marinated for at least 1 hour at room temperature; but overnight in the fridge is the best.)  Pakora that we eat from the restaurant has added food color; so if you are using it, please do add along with the marinade.) Let the Chicken come to the room temperature before mixing with the batter.

  3. Mix all the ingredients to make the batter (adding a bit of Water if needed) and mix in with the marinated Chicken. (Don’t make the batter too thin as there will be some liquid in the marinated Chicken too. So if you feel it is too dry after mixing the batter with the marinated Chicken , do sprinkle some more Water.) Keep aside for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Heat at least an inch of Oil in a frying pan on high heat. Once really hot, reduce the flame to medium or medium high (depending on your stove; too low heat will make the Chicken absorb too much Oil and too high heat will burn the Chicken without cooking) and deep fry the Chicken pieces. Do try to drop the pieces one by one to avoid clumping. Don't overcook and do stir now and then to ensure even cooking. If you are doubtful about the cooking time (which depends on size of the pieces and the heat of the stove), do take one piece out of the Oil and check.
  5. Repeat the process with all the Chicken pieces.
  6. Serve it hot with Ketch up or Mint or Tamarind Chutney.
  • Adjust the amount of Salt, Coriander Leaves and Curry Leaves according to your taste.
  • If you dont have Maida, do use 4 Tablespoons of Rice Flour and vice-versa. 
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan while frying as it will decrease the temperature of the Oil resulting in over absorption of Oil by the Pakoras.
  • I served this with a Chutney made of some Mint Leaves, Coriander Leaves, Green Chilly, Ginger, Salt and Yogurt.

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and
serve it to your family with love…

Friday, April 13, 2012

Vazhuthananga Pulincurry (Brinjal/ Aubergine in Tamarind Gravy)

Recipe No: 290
A few weeks before a good friend of mine gave me her Mother’s recipe for Prawn in Tamarind gravy (Konchu Puli pizhinjathu).  Even though I am not a big fan of 'sourness', I like the dish so much that I started experimenting the same with many vegetables and this is one of them. Since a vegetarian loving friend of mine asked for its recipe after tasting and I promised her that I will post it in the blog, I am doing this…
Ingredients                                               Serves 4
  • Oil………………………...2-3 Tablespoons (Coconut Oil preferred)
  • Ginger chopped…......1 teaspoon heap
  • Shallots………………....7-8 (Sliced big; about ½ cup)
  • Indian Green Chilly…2 (depending on the taste; I use long ones which are less spicy)
  • Curry Leaves…………..2 Sprigs
  • Tomato sliced………...1/2 medium
  • Brinjal…………………...2 medium (sliced into long medium sized pieces; about 2 cups)
  • Red Chilly Powder…..1 Teaspoon
  • Coriander Powder.….1 Teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder……1/4 Teaspoon
  • Tamarind Water….…3/4 Cup (Squeeze a large Gooseberry sized Tamarind in hot Water)
  • Salt as needed
Method of Preparation
  1. Heat Oil in a ‘Chatti’ (an earthen cooking vessel) or a stainless steel pan (please refer the notes) on high heat and saute the chopped Ginger for 30 seconds.
  2. Add Shallots, Green Chilly, Curry Leaves and Tomato; saute till the Shallots turn translucent.
  3. Add the Brinjal (squeeze off the excess Water if any) and fry in the Oil for two minutes or till the Brinjal pieces changes its color slightly.
  4. Mix in the Chilly Powder, Coriander Powder and the Turmeric Powder; saute for a minute. Do stir often to prevent burning.
  5. Add the Tamarind Water, Salt and more Water if needed (I used ½ Cup more); mix well. Let it boil and then lower the heat to medium low and cook till Oil starts to float on top and the gravy level is reduced to a desired consistency. (This will thicken a bit when cools down.)
  6. Drizzle a bit of Coconut Oil and some Curry Leaves (Break it into pieces for a stronger smell) on top; switch off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  • The amount of Tamarind depends on your taste. So do taste in between adding rather than dumping everything at once.
  • Tamarind will sometimes be hard; so in that case use hot Water to squeeze the pulp and do discard the seeds (if present) and the hard fibrous parts after squeezing.
  • As Tamarind is extremely acidic, it can react with Aluminum and the non stick coatings; so please use a stainless steel pan or earthenware (the best) like the Chatti to make this curry. However, as prolonged contact of acid with steel is also not good, don’t store the leftovers in stainless steel containers.
  • It is necessary to wash and discard some seeds from the Brinjal if the ones available contains a lot of ripe seeds. In that case use a colander which will allow the seeds to flow out throw the holes while washing.
  • If you are not using Coconut Oil in the beginning, please do try to use it at the end for drizzling. This will give that appealing smell without using a lot of it.
  • A note regarding the two photos: Yes... They are both the same dish .The one on top gives the exact color of the dish when done, but for me the lighting was not so good and it came out a little blurry. The one below is over lighted (I am sorry for that) but not that blurry. So if you are looking for the color of the finished dish, do check the picture on top; but if you are looking for the size and shape of the pieces when done, do refer the picture below... I apologize for the inconvenience caused...

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My baby girl was born yesterday....but now she is 9!!!

My little girl celebrated her 9th birthday a few weeks before. Let me invite you guys to a small conversation that happened a few days before her birthday…
Me----- “Hey Leah, what do you want for your birthday?”
Leah--- “I can’t believe that you forget… You promised me that I can cook all by myself on my 9th birthday”
Me-----(In my mind) Yes, that promise happened a few months back… I said those words just to avoid her disturbing me in the kitchen while I was experimenting something… But I really thought that she will forget it until someone else, possibly her pesky little brother who selectively remembers and reminds everyone of anything that shouldn't be remembered and reminded, reminds her…
“Oh… are you sure that you want to do it? I will not help… I will not come near the kitchen… you will have to do everything by yourself…” (I have to make sure that I tried my best to make her drop the decision.)
Leah--- That’s exactly what I want… I don’t want anyone in the kitchen…. I want to cook by myself.
Me----O………….k…. (does that sound as unconvincing as I was then?)
So together we decided on the recipe… It is going to be a Brownie… from ‘A Tasty Challenge’. Together we made this Brownie a number of times in the past… But still I tried to impart a bit of hesitation in her mind…, mainly because I just can’t admit that my little girl has grown so much… I just can’t… It is not fair… she was born just yesterday…. I changed her diapers and put her to bed very recently… But as the conversation proceeded she convinced me that all these things happened 9 years ago…
Me----“So there is baking involved… you have to switch on the Oven… Will you do it?”
Leah---“Yes I will… You just stay there and see whether I am doing it right. That's it”
Me----O…..k… (I am still not sure about this whole idea; but it wont cost anything after all...)
Sure or not that day came and Leah was as determined as ever… And I have to say she pulled it off quite well…
I took a print out of my Brownie recipe and showed her where all the ingredients are…; left everything to herself and checked our smoke detector for proper functioning… you know.. just in case…)
I sat on the dining table, which is next to the kitchen and listened to Leah reading each and every sentence from the print out and making her own comment on the sentence as if she is 'The Next Food Network Star'… She even fired her little brother once, when he tried to sneak into the kitchen to swipe some Chocolate chips….
She measured, she mixed... I sat there at the table browsing....listening and smiling to the commentary from the kitchen....
She used a parchment paper on the bottom….
She poured the batter….
Her pesky brother volunteered to do the 'quality control'….
But I interfered when what started as a simple 'quality control' went wild….

After baking it came out good… But I was too skeptical about taking the brownies out of that pan… So I took a photo of it in the pan itself… I went back for more browsing while Leah let the Brownie cool down a bit….
But after sometime she came with this….
Then she cut it…; shared with her brother and us….
Oh forgot to mention… during this time, news went out that Leah is baking by herself and two of our friends with their families came to taste her Brownie… (Brownie tasting ended up in dinner and a long time of unlimited chatting!!!) Oh.. by the way....that painting on the table... Leah did it... I thought at least some of you would love to know...

Even though I started writing this post to portrait my daughter’s first attempt at cooking by herself, I would love you guys to sneak into her party too…

Usually we celebrate our kid’s birthday at home with some of our good friends, their kids, some home cooked food and a homemade cake of there preference… This time was also no difference…

For the first time in her life when Leah said she don’t want a Princess or a Fairy Tale character Cake, I realized with shock that my little princess is growing up… Her choice was a ‘swimming pool’ Cake... I sighed as she made her choice... she did not ask for a ‘High-Heeled Shoe Cake’ or a ‘Louis Vuitton Hand Bag’ Cake…. At least she is not a diva yet!!!

 It was a Rev Velvet Cale with a Cream Cheese filling and Butter Cream frosting... As you can see, I ended up covering the cake with fondant... Birthday Girl was more than happy to see my creation... and so were the guests...

Both of us were excited with the idea of an ‘all starters’ party’, as appetizers and soups being  her favorite… And this was the menu….

Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches and Egg Tea Sandwiches… (Most of our guests were not familiar with Smoked Salmon and hence we made an alternative too…)

Alligator Samplers… (It was actually fired Alligator with Indian spices…; It was my husband’s idea to incorporate something adventurous and he simply hated when I called them ‘Alligator Samplers’… he told everyone ‘Cheenkanni Varuthathu’!!!)
Amazingly it tasted just like Chicken and a four year old girl in the party went crazy (in a good manner) over it and ate right from the bowl where I kept it in bulk. (See, I got some good foodie friends!!)

Chicken Chilly…
Pav Bhaji…. (For easy handling I substituted Pav with Bread…)
Chemmeen Kozhukatta…

Salad with Vinegar, Salt and Pepper dressing... I think this goes well with Chicken Kebab

Chicken Kebeb
Fruit Trifle

If God allows, there will be more fabulous birthdays for my daughter, but I know I will never forget her 9th Birthday… when she convinced me that she can cook all by herself…

And I hope she will never forget it either…. Love you Leah... love you a lot....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chicken Sliders

Recipe No: 289
This is a very easy and tasty appetizer that can be converted to a full meal with the addition of some Fries and a Salad. I made this with Chicken, but you can substitute it with any meat of your choice. With a hint of Chinese taste, this will satisfy any non vegetarian palate.
Ingredients                                            Makes 8
To make the Patties
  • Ground Chicken………...1 lb/ 450 grams (raw Chicken is a must)
  • Red Chilly Powder….....1/2 Teaspoon
  • Black Pepper powder...1/4 Teaspoon
  • Ginger Garlic Paste……1 Teaspoon
  • Coriander Leaves………1 Tablespoon (chopped fine)
  •  Salt to taste
To fry and make the sliders
  • Butter………………………2 + 2 Tablespoons
  • Oil…………………………..2 Tablespoons
  • Dinner Rolls………….…8 (I used Potato Rolls; but any small buns will do)
To make the Sauce
  • Onion chopped fine…..1/2 Cup
  • Garlic chopped fine…..2 big cloves
  • Ketchup…………………..2 Tablespoons
  • Chilly Garlic Sauce….1 Tablespoon (If not available, please use 1/2 Teaspoon Sambal Oelek.)
  • Worcestershire Sauce...1/2 Teaspoon
  • Dark Soy Sauce…….…..1 Teaspoon
  • Water……………………....1/4 Cup
Method of Preparation
  1. Mix all the ingredients to make the patties thoroughly. Divide it into 8 equal sized portions.
  2. Make each portion into a patty approximately the diameter of your buns. Keep them aside.
  3. In a wide pan on high heat, melt Butter and Oil together. Once heated, place the patties in a single layer and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the patties are nicely browned on one side.
  4. Turn them over and let the other side also brown for about 3 minutes. (By this time the patties will be mostly cooked through.)
  5. Once browned on both sides, remove the patties from the pan and keep them aside.
  6. To the remaining Oil (add a bit more if needed) add the chopped Onion and Garlic; sauté till slightly wilted.
  7. Add Ketchup, Chilly Garlic Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Soy Sauce and Water; mix well and slide the patties back into the sauce. (Add the liquid oozed out of the patties (if any) too.)
  8. Let it cook for a minute on both sides in the sauce or till the sauce is reduced considerably. (A bit of the remaining sauce is good.) 
  9. In the mean time, cut the dinner rolls horizontally into two, apply a light pat of Butter on the cut sides of both halves and toast them in another pan on high heat. (You have to toast them only on the cut sides.) Once slightly browned, take and keep them on a plate ready for the patties. Repeat this with all the Rolls.
  10. Place the patties on the bottom half of the Rolls and spoon the remaining sauce equally on top of the patties.
  11. Place the other half of the bun on top of the patty and serve hot.
  • Water is an enemy in making patties. So make the minced Chicken as dry as possible. (Meaning remove all the Water content with a kitchen tissue.)
  • The minced Chicken mixture is usually on the sticky side; so please rub your palms with Oil to reduce sticking.
  • The patties will be mostly cooked during frying itself, but by putting them in the sauce you can ensure that it is fully cooked. Before taking it off the stove, please check at least one patty for 'doneness'. The color of the meat will change from pink to almost white when fully cooked.
  • If you don't have  a pan to fry all patties at one time, please do it in batches.

Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and 
serve it to your family with love…