Monday, June 16, 2008

Inspiration !

What are the basic necessities for us to live? “food , clothing and shelter.”(I remember writing this down during a school homework.) But if you ask me today I would surely add one more … and that is “inspiration”.We need to live an inspired life. We only need to keep an open ear and clear sight to be inspired….it could be a beautiful flower , a clear sky , an insightful book , your best friend , a parent or sibling or even a flashing thought…just stay tuned and you are inspired ….and you can for sure see your life taking a beautiful turn.

The other day I was honored with an “inspiration award “ and was asked to note down the few things that inspire me. I started jotting down my inspirations in my head and found it hard to stop. But to mention a few…

I am first inspired by my parents. I am forever protected by their love and the feel of it does inspire me to be their daughter.

I am inspired by my teachers….the teachers who taught me various subjects and instilled good values, the teachers who turned out to be wonderful friends, the teachers who are legendary figures and have inspired me by their life long passion. They inspire always to remain a student.

I am inspired by my friends and my family. They inspire me to be happy and in love.

The innocence in my toddler and the confidence in my kindergartner give new meaning to my life and inspire me to live each moment.

I am inspired by books….books that speaks my thoughts, books that take me tours without moving an inch.They inspire me to explore.

I am inspired by spiritual talks, retreats and exercises that help me introspect. I am inspired by nature ….They inspire me to be enlightened.

I am inspired by dance and music ….I am inspired to lead a passionate life.

.the list is long ……and I am grateful for this inspired life….

Let me pass this Inspiration award from my sister Suma to a few bloggers who have

inspired me… I would love to know about their inspiration.

From Suma to Cynthia of Tastes like home, Susan of The well seasoned cook, Shn of Mishmash and my brother Naveen of Life is beautiful.

I am also grateful for a few more awards that have been showered on me recently. My sincere thanks to all my blogger friends who considered me for the awards....

let me pass on theses badges to deserving bloggers..

Good chat blog award From Ranji to Purnima

I love you this much award From Susan to Susan and Bharathy

Rocking girl award From Purnima to Asha

This award I received from Suma goes to each and every one of you who stop by and read my posts and let me tell each one of you ." you make my day!"

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Prayer !

A Prayer to heal a fellow blogger....who till yesterday was not known to me.. !!!A sincere and whole hearted prayer for healing this unknown friend .....

This is an appeal on behalf of a group of food bloggers who are friends of Briana Brownlow @ Figs With Bri.

Bri was diagnosed with breast cancer two and half years ago. A mastectomy, chemotherapy and two years of relatively good health later, the cancer is back. It has metastasized to other parts of her body. At the age of 15, Bri lost her 41-year old mother to the disease. Now, she’s waging her own war against breast cancer. More about it here.

She is going through intensive chemo and other treatments and needs to focus single-mindedly on healing and finding what treatment works best for her. Her health insurance, unfortunately, does not cover holistic alternatives which she would like to try. Bri and her husband Marc have enough on their plates right now in addition to worrying about her medical bills.

The team organising the JUNE edition of CLICK at Jugalbandi has organised a fundraiser to help Bri and her family meet her out-of-pocket medical costs for ONE YEAR.

CLICK is a monthly theme-based photography contest hosted by Jugalbandi. This month’s theme is: YELLOW for Bri

Yellow is the colour of hope. Through the work of the LiveStrong Foundation, it has also come to signify the fight against cancer.

The entries can be viewed HERE. The deadline for entries is June 30, 2008. The fundraiser will extend until July 15, 2008.

The target amount is 12,000 U.S. dollars. We appeal to our fellow bloggers and readers to help us achieve this. Bri deserves a chance to explore all options, even if her insurance company thinks otherwise.

There’s a raffle with exciting prizes on offer. After viewing the list, you may make your donation HERE or at the Chip-In button on any participating site.

Your donation can be made securely through credit card or Pay Pal and goes directly to Bri’s account.

This month’s photo contest also has some prizes. Details HERE.

You can support this campaign by donating to the fundraiser, by participating in CLICK: the photo event, and by publicising this campaign.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A train journey and Methi rotis!

Just the thought of the rhythmic movement of the train journey brings back nostalgic memories of childhood. The fight with my brother for the window seat and the upper most berth , the unending munching of snacks as soon as the journey began, running from compartment to compartment making friends , just staring out of the window and wondering how the trees and houses outside move…….the list goes on and on……

But I especially want to share with you an experience I had seven years ago during a 2 day train journey from Delhi to Chennai. I had an interview in Delhi and was returning to Chennai with my Husband. We shared our compartment with an old couple who were on a pilgrimage to the different temples in South India. I was having a slight temperature and was feeling very weak and dizzy.

The old couple started to unpack the delicacies, and shared their food with all the fellow passengers. Their food looked inviting; due to my weakness I did not want to eat anything. They realized my dilemma, and took out a pouch from their bag in which they had home remedies for any illness on their journey. They gave me a spice mix which they assured would help in any stomach upsets and weakness. Their love and sincerity was enough for me to accept this medicine and in an hour or so I felt better. They then unpacked their bag in which they stored their food items again and extracted wonderful smelling methi parathas….(fenugreek flat breads or rotis). I don’t remember eating methi parathas which were so tasty.I wished I could repay them their love and affection.

And I was glad I could be of some help when we landed in Chennai railway station. They were expecting to be received by a friend who did not turn up. We helped them to a telephone booth where they tried calling their friend, but they were disappointed to find no one answered on the other end. They felt completely lost in an entirely new place. I invited them home and they reluctantly agreed. They had no where to go. At home we tried to make them feel comfortable and we all had hot tea. Eventually their friend who had misunderstood their train number came home to pick them up after a few phone calls. They left home blessing us and leaving us with a joy I find hard to put to words.

So here’s a recipe of methi rotis I made , which I dedicate to that old couple !
Blend in 1cup wheat flour, 2 tbsp gram flour, 2 tbsp soya flour,a bunch of cleaned fenugreek leaves, 1tsp ginger garlic paste, pinch of turmeric , green chillies (paste) ½ tsp, salt to taste, 1tsp oil, 2tbsp curd. Blend to make dough using enough water.Keep aside for 15 minutes. Make small balls and flatten into circles with a rolling pin.

Fry on hot pan smearing some butter , till both sides turn golden brown. Have hot with pickles or curd or just straight from the pan.
I submit this to roti mela hosted by srivalli.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

capsicum and rice!

Each time I visit the Indian store for a sack of rice, I take a deep breath and pause before lifting the heavy bag into he cart. The prices have shot up so much that each grain in the sack seems like a precious gem. And I am reminded of the story my grandma used to tell us when we were little.” The story of three grains of rice”.
I remember snuggling close to her at night, head on her arm and hand smoothing her soft belly while she transported us into an imaginary world of words ……..
“once upon a time there was a very poor girl who had hardly anything to eat. Once her dad found three grains of rice and send her to the near by pond to wash those three grains so that they could cook and eat them….While washing those grains one slips off her hands and she goes in search of the rice and explores a magical palace under water…”.thus goes the story……”\
I still remember her stories as if I have heard them yesterday….each story filled with life adventure and moral values…
I am not going into the detailed version of the story ammumma narrated … it just conveyed that, even in dire circumstances, we should hear our voice within….and should not succumb to greed.

Now from the story of three grains of rice, let me pass on to the story of the many grains of cooked rice, left over in my fridge … which given a make over …found solace our tummies.

As I was glancing through one of the magazines I loved the picture of a capsicum (bell pepper) bowl stuffed with stuff I do not eat. So I thought, why not use the same capsicum cup and fill it up with stuff I love to eat!

Thus the left over rice after a touch up entered cooked capsicim cups!
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok. Season with mustard seeds , cumin , urad dal , red chilli and curry leaves. Add chopped onion (1 cup) and diced almonds (1/2 cup). Fry till translucent, add 1tsp turmeric powder and enough salt and stir in 2 cups cooked rice. Squeeze juice from half a lemon and garnish with coriander leaves.
Now for the capsicum cups…. Take a capsicum, slice off the stalk and remove the seeds. Wash well and let it stand. (If it topples, level the corners of the closed side to balance while standing) Keep the capsicum in microwave and cook for 1 minute on high. Fill this cup with the seasoned rice and enjoy! (You can creative your own filling according to your choice) ...
this goes to pooja of creative ideas , who is hosting VOW Bell peppers and JFI.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sooyi Bhajjilli Ghashi

This is a traditional Konkani recipe which stimulates all your senses…..Soyi means grated coconut . Bhajjille means fried. So Soyi bhajjilli ghassi is a gravy dish rich with the flavour of fried and ground coconut. The thought of this recipe not only evokes my taste buds , it evokes my olfactory senses …..The smell of fried coconut with coriander seeds and curry leaves is something you should never miss in your life time.

Last week I prepared Chonnyachi Ghassi.
Chonno is a black chick pea , widely used in Kerala. And ghassi is a dish served during all Konkani festivals , weddings and ceremonies.The ones we eat at the temple Utsavs is the best. This is how I prepared it at home..
Soak one cup of black chana overnight and pressure cook it with enough salt and a piece of kokum and keep aside.
Heat pan and add One tsp urud dal and 1tsp fenugreek seeds. Fry and keep aside. Now fry 1 cup coriander seeds and 1 1/2 cup coconut grated. Add 7-8 red chillies (according to taste), add a bunch of curry leaves. Keep stirring till the coconut turns dark brown. Then let it cool . Mix in the fried urud dal and fenugreek seeds and powder . You can store this masala for future use. Mix this ground masala into the cooked channa and boil it. You can replace channa wth other ingredients or combinations like Dal and a vegetable , or channa and another vegetable or green peas .., according to your taste and use the same masala…
We call this masala, Massolu.
Try it out and charge your self
I also submit this to Click event at Jugalbandhi.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Ammumma and Abu and their family tree....

The tiny hands which should have played with toys and fumbled with pens and books had to deal with the heavy kitchen utensils. The tiny face which should have glowed playing in the sun had to face the smoke and soot from the kitchen.

Till yesterday she was happy with her books and school and in one day fate took a different turn. Her mother was ill and she had to take the responsibility of her younger siblings and house.

She was none other than my grandmother….the most intelligent person I have encountered. She embraced life as it was, and even in the direst circumstances kept her faith alive.

I remember her taking one handful of Dal from the amount she had taken for cooking and putting it in a separate jar. I saw her repeating this with what ever ingredient she used in kitchen. When enquired why? , she told that there was a time in her life when food was scarce and it was difficult to make ends meet. She used to store just a handful of all ingredients and store it separately without anyone’s knowledge. When it was the month end and it was time to go grocery shopping, she still had enough stuff which would keep them going for few more weeks.

She is one of the most creative person I have seen. Creativity according to her does not need any pre requisites. It blooms with an open eye and clear thought and minimum materials.

I have tried to follow this always…in kitchen , in the house or in dance….
Here is one bread bowl (born from the sheer motivation from my kids who look for variety)

Cut the ends of the bread slices.Roll the bread slices with a rolling pin. Grease the muffin pan with butter and keep the bread slices fitting the muffin pan in the shape of a bowl.Bake it for 10 minutes on 350 degrees F or till the sides start to brown. Once done fill these bread bowls with grated carrot and dress with Italian ranch dressing and serve it hot.

Submitting this to Jihva for love , Though the recipe listed is not Ammamma's recipe , it does have the ingredient love and quick flashes of creativity which I have inherited from her.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Reduce your cholesterol level with this curry leaf chutney!

Those faded green pockets were sitting quietly beside the red and round tomatoes. I gave them a passing glance but did not stop to investigate on them. Just then a Chinese lady came up to those green pockets and enquired., “ what are these? How do you eat them?”
I looked up to the placard which had the vegetable’s name and read out loud.”tomatilloes”. I had no idea , how this vegetable tasted , though the name and looks suggested , it belonged to the tomato family.I decided to give it a try and filled my cart with a few of these green pockets.

Back home , I peeled open its green skin and found a smooth and shiny ball . I surfed the net for a dish with tomatilloes , but couldn’t make up my mind on what to try. So I came up with a recipe of my own. Blending together the goodness of curry leaves and flavor of fresh coconut , tanginess of ginger and a kick of shallots , I made a tomatillo chutney , the taste of which lingered on our palettes longer than usual.

What I used:
Tomatilloes 3
Curry leaves ½ cup
Grated coconut ¼ cup
Green chillies 2
grated ginger 1tbsp
Shallots a handful
Mustard seeds 1tsp
Cumin 1 tsp
Salt to taste oil for seasoning


Heat a pan. Add in chopped tomatilloes, curry leaves and shallots on low heat till the tomatilloes turn soft. Keep aside to cool. Once it cools down add in the coconut, ginger, green chillies and salt and grind to a smooth paste. Add in water if you need and season with mustard seeds and cumin and a few curry leaves. Evoke your taste buds… and enjoy!

You can also make this chutney without tomatilloes. A daily dose of curry leaves can reduce the risk of cholesterol .
I submit this to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Susan of well seasoned cook and also for the click event.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Magic Spice that works wonders!

Two days back I read about Dosa mela being hosted by Srivalli, and wanted to participate. But I did not have much time to spare. So I am reposting an article I once wrote in my travel blog. I am sure this would be an unique recipe born out of circumstances and blends well with this theme.So read on , friends, about the secret spice that works wonders......

He was feeling terribly lonely and upset, for this was the first time he was in his house without his wife. This was no more a home to him, without her around. For the first time he realized, how much he had got used to her. She had managed their lives with such skill, that life just flowed so smoothly for him. He was always welcomed home with the appetizing aromas from their kitchen, where she used to cook wonders! He was always eager and proud to invite friends and guests home for lunch and dinners, for he was sure she would present on their table her magical recipes, rich in color and quality!!!

The thought of her food made him feel hungry as usual. He involuntarily opened the kitchen cupboard where she used to store her goodies, home baked muffins and loafs. As he took his first bite he was transported into a different world,"yes, this is the taste of heaven!", he thought. Now he will have to spend two more days without her in this house. She was hospitalized for a minor eye operation. He was grateful to her for having prepared and stocked upon his favorite frozen meals and mouth watering raisin breads.

He recalled the day when he first set foot in their new home. The day was well etched in his memory. His mind had captured it like a black and white photograph. How could he forget their day of wedding!The day when this wonderful woman stepped into his life, and became his life itself. Those were nostalgic moments......laughter and music of bygone days still echoed in his ears.

He took a second bite of the coffee muffin......every thing his wife prepared was always special. He was not her only silent admirer. He had heard numerous praises for her culinary magical skills. He had worn each of her praises like a feather in his cap. As he took his third bite, his memory flashed back to a few years when he was helping her out in their kitchen. He remembered how adamant she was, giving him strict orders not to touch her spice box, which was a wedding gift from her mother. Even after all these years she still preserved it like a treasure. He had spied her dutifully opening it whenever she was cooking, and wondered what magical spice it was ...... it needed no refilling , and still served to be a major ingredient of all her recipes. By the time he was finished with the last bit of the finger licking muffin, he was filled with an intense urge to open the spice box and find out what contents it held."She was not going to find out any way..." he assured his guilty self.

He slowly opened the spice box, doubly careful, not disturbing any of the magical contents...He saw something he least expected. He was awe-struck.....He saw in it a white note which was at the verge of wear and tear. Was his wife hiding anything from him? His heart missed a beat...How he had dotted on her and loved her!!!He felt an ache in his throat.... what would he find when he opened this treasure of hers?... what was the secret that she withheld from him for the past 25 years...?He was totally blank as he opened the note.....He could well recognize his mother- in- law`s bold hand writing... it read"what ever you cook my dear, do not forget to add in this magic spice, YOUR LOVE..."

Now he understood exactly, how and why her food turned out to be so special.....

What does this story have to do with my travels, my impressions? I`ll tell is this magical spice which came in handy for me, when I was a novice in the wonderful world of spices and flavors.

We were alloted a three bedroom apartment in Japan, which we had to share with two other team mates. Our team also occupied yet another apartment in the same building. So there were seven of us who made a real good team.....majority of us were vegetarians....and I could see that our team members were living on fruits and chocolates. My conscience pricked when I had to cook just for the two of us. I offered to cook for the whole team and I relished the look on their satiated faces.....They turned out to be my guinea pigs ,who readily obliged to every experiment that eventually was tested on their palates.

One evening I planned to make semia vegetable upma. Semia is a vermicelli or wheat noodles which I carried along with me from India. I cut all the vegetables, all set to cook : poured boiled water on my semia....I just needed to strain it , so that they don't stick to each other; and then season it with mustard seeds, jeera (cumin seeds), turmeric powder, green chillies and curry leaves, and blend it with the stir fried vegetables."Trrrng....Trnnnnn.g......rang the telephone...............................................................

......................after the long chat over the phone I completely forgot about the soaked vermicelli, which had now turned into a paste. Now what will I cook for dinner? I need to satisfy seven tummies..I could not afford to throw this over cooked vermicelli .... but feeding them this gruel would be definitely cruel and sacrilegious on my part. We could hardly get any Indian stuff in the remote country side we stayed...and each and every bit of groceries we carried along with us was of utmost value. “Annam Parabrahmasvaroopam”, goes a saying in Sanskrit, meaning food is God .I had been a fussy eater as a child giving infinite tensions to my mother....But here, in a land far away from home I realized the divinity in food.

So what do I do with the over soaked paste......Eureka!!!!!!A bulb sparked somewhere in my cerebellum and off I went surfing my cupboards for stocked up flours.....There was the wheat flour, semolina, all purpose flour and the rice flour.....I blended all these in equal proportions adding the overcooked semia and water to make a batter. I now opened by spice box(my mother gifted me !!!), adding a dash of pepper, turmeric,coriander powder and yes.. also an extra dash of that magical spice , love .....I stir fried the vegetables and seasoned it and added this to my batter making it look more appealing and colorful.

That night we had a sumptuous dinner, with vegetable vermicelli dosas and hot and spicy sambar. I was overjoyed to find that my friends shared an increased appetite that day. I experienced the joy of serving , the joy of giving......

When I met our team in Japan they were mere strangers to me..... but in no time we were sharing a roof and our food ... and here away from home I still had a family... I felt great. Yes ....magic spice works wonders!!!........

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

From tree top to table top!

The soft breeze is caressing the tall beauties pregnant with its heavy fruits. Amma is sweating heavily in the back yard, partly from washing the heavy loads of laundry and partly from the fear of those heavy fruits ready to be pushed down by the wind.

Its more than two weeks since they called Purusha to drop the coconuts, still there is no trace of him. Purusha is always in demand. He can only be seen like a lightening, flashing here and there in the neighborhood on his bicycle, with the best round coconuts, a sickle and a few ropes.

Now Amma is done with her laundry , and is on her phone calling neighbors to give “purusha alerts” …” ….if you see Purusha hanging around, do direct him to our place…..”

Finally Purusha turns up …..He demands unjustifiable fees for climbing those trees….And as usual he wins….and also gets to choose the best coconuts he can carry along with the fee.

He grips on to the tree with ropes balancing on his feet and climbs up with ease…dropping the bunch of coconuts ….in no time our yard is full of green, orange and brown coconuts and a few broken flower pots , an aftermath of Purusha’s hard work.

When the Sun goes down, everyone in the family is seen carrying these coconut bunches to heap it up in our shed. The next few weeks we would be drinking loads of tender coconut water, eat the various flavors offered by coconut in curries, have papads fried in fresh coconut oil…….

One dish which was commonly made in my home with freshly squeezed coconut milk was “dheeve ummen”, which is a traditional Konkani dish. “Dheeve” meaning white and “Ummen” means gravy.

So hear goes the recipe for “Dheeve Ummen…”

What you need:
1. 2 cups chopped vegetables( potato, bitter gourd, edo , potato and long beans are the usual combination)
2. 2 pieces of kokum( it can be replaced with star fruit or tomatilloes) This is added to reduce the bitterness of the bitter gourd.
3. coconut milk(I used 1 can coconut milk, though usually we use freshly extracted coconut milk)
4. green chilies 3
5. mustard seeds 1tsp
6. cumin 1tsp
7. curry leaves 1 sprig
8. oil to season
9. salt to taste


Add the chopped vegetables, green chilies and enough salt in a vessel. Add enough water covering the vegetables. Boil until vegetables are cooked. Add coconut milk and simmer for a few minutes. Temper with mustard seeds and cumin and curry leaves and serve hot with rice.

I submit this to Pooja of creative ideas for her VOW Bitter gourd.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kyoonki Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi......(because the mother in law was once a daughter in law)

When I initially played the role of a nayi bahu (new daughter in law)..., I used to walk around the kitchen with a sense of uncertainty...unable to figure out what is expected of me..., as all pair of eyes were studying me ...from the elders in the family to the tiny tots ...., from relatives to the servant maids ...! I wondered how I will fit into this new house hold , which my mother in law and sister in law were managing so well. The usual cold wars between saas and bahu(mother in law and daughter in law) was missing here. As days passed , I understood that my mother in law would just accept everyone as he or she is ...and we daughter in laws had the freedom to live according to our taste... I knew I was lucky!

One day I saw her making rice balls and putting them in boiling water.
"What are you making, Amma?” I asked
"Udkaanthuli undi (rice balls in water) she replied
I had not heard of a dish like this.... but in my home my mother used to make rice balls in daal or lentils.
"This is what your sister in law likes... so I make this ... not the usual Konkani dish , which we make with daal." she replied...
I was amazed to see how she always adopted to the likes and dislikes of others in the family. She used to avoid certain ingredients if it was not my sister in law's choice. When she knew that I liked the rice balls in lentil soup, she invariably prepared one with daal and one without daal...
How could one be so flexible?...may be because she was once a daughter in law herself.

So here is a toyaa-thuli undi(rice balls in lentils soup) enriched with vegetables...This is my own version of the dish...


Toor daal 1 cup
Rice flour 1 cup
Assorted vegetables of your choice 1 cup
Baby onions 3-4
Ginger garlic paste
Green chillies 2
Cumin 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Coconut grated 2 tbsp(optional)
Salt to taste
Oil for seasoning
Coriander leaves a bunch
lemon juice 1 tsp

Pressure cook the daal with salt. In a vessel, mix rice flour 1 tbsp cumin, grated coconut , salt and boiling water to make a dough. Make small balls and keep aside. heat oil in a deep pan , temper with mustard , cumin , green chillies. add ginger garlic paste and chopped onions. Add in the cut vegetables. M ix in cooked daal and dilute with water. Add enough salt according to taste. once this mixture starts boiling add the rice balls. Simmer it and let it cook for 10 minutes. once the rice balls are cooked garnish with coriander leaves and lemon juice and serve hot.

This post is being submitted to Holler of Tinned Tomatoes, hosting No Croutons Required, a monthly soup event that is also hosted by Lisa of Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen. This month's theme is Spicy Soups.
This also goes to WBB Balanced Breakfasts hosted by Mansi and to Jugalbandhi's click event.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Do you have Those purple beauties in your fridge?

Mother in law to the newly wed daughter in law: We have guests for lunch today, See whether we have those big eggplants in the fridge?

Daughter in law dutifully opens the fridge and finds the purple baingans mocking at her. She had never had a fascination for that vegetable , which though looks firm is all slimy once cooked. She couldn't imagine this being cooked for the guests !!!
Imagine going to a house for food and being offered baingans?".. she thinks.....

A few years later....

Daughter in law , ransacks the fridge looking for the huge purple beauties , to make her ma in law's side dish..
It happens... we fall in love with things you once detested in life....
So here goes the recipe for Vaingan Bhajjille( Eggplant fry)....


1 large egg plant
1 tsp turmeric powder
1tsp chilly powder
a pinch of asafoetida
1tsp coriander powder
1/2 cup rice flour
oil as needed
salt to taste


Wash and clean the egg plant. cut it length wise into thin slices.Marinate with turmeric powder , chilly powder, coriander powder, asafoetida and salt. Heat a pan , and spread some oil .dust the egg plant with rice flour and fry on the pan. Fry both sides until done . The rice flour makes it crispy .

Believe me , you can taste egg plants which are not slimy... but crispy ...that you would even take it for a starter...

This goes to Vegetable of the week hosted by Pooja.

Friday, February 29, 2008

My first experiment in kitchen

I was around twelve years old , when my Amma was hospitalized for two weeks for an Ayurvedic treatment .
"You are my responsible daughter, ! always help Appa and take care of your younger brother.", Amma spoke these words to me as she waved us goodbye.

I was suddenly feeling grown up , and felt the whole responsibility of the house hold on my shoulders..

I bossed around the house, as if I had a tough time juggling between, school and housekeeping... while it was my father who managed the whole situation.

One day I decided to launch into the kitchen , with a women's magazine "Vanitha" ...This magazine featured many appetizing recipes. I wanted to show Amma how grown up I was , and how I have lived up to her expectations...
I followed the recipe as per instruction...but things were getting harder with time...I was not able to stir the wok with one hand and pour the broken wheat with another...the vegetable broken wheat upma, formed lumps ...shattering my hopes.. I did not loose heart.. I poured in more water ..then more broken wheat.. then more water....the amount was increasing ...I had to stop when the whole wok was to the brim.
In order to cover up my folly , I garnished the contents of the wok with , grated coconut ..

Appa , came into the kitchen and congratulated me on my venture.
I gave him an artificial smile , and warned him not to taste it as it was a gift for Amma.

I packed the contents of the wok in a vessel and took it to the hospital..when I entered her room, there were two more people from the adjacent room chit chatting with her..Appa proudly told Amma , that I had made something special for her.. and I had to give her what I made.. Amma's two friends also wanted to taste it..I knew it would taste horrible ..and felt like hiding under the bed.I held my breath prepared for the worst reaction....
As Amma took her spoonful I waited for her to spit it out.. but to my surprise she ate it.. and tried more...
" I am so happy that you made this for me.. I was getting bored of the hospital food..." Amma said with tears in her eyes..
Then I knew for sure that it was not the upma I made which made her eat more , but her love for me..

Here is a broken wheat upma for you.. but this is not the one I made for my Amma.I have forgotten that recipe:)

Broken wheat Vegatable Upma

what you need:

broken wheat 1 cup
onion 1/2 cup chopped
vegetables of your choice(beans, carrots, green peas , cauliflower) 1/2 cup
mustard seeds 1tsp
cumin 1tsp
urud dal 1tsp
shredded ginger 1tbsp
green chillies 2-3
curry leaves 1 sprig
grated coconut 1/4 cup
coriander leaves for garnish
lemon juice 1 tsp
water 2 cups
oil for seasoning
asafoetida 1tsp
salt to taste


heat oil in a wok , add mustard seeds, cumin , urad dal , curry leaves, ginger and green chillies and asafoetida.Add onion and fry till translucent. Add in the vegetables and stir well. Mix in the broken wheat and stir till it starts browning.. meanwhile boil water in a separate vessel. Add in the boiled water , while stirring the contents of the wok,... Add salt to taste and stir well.. keep closed for a few minutes . garnish with lemon juice, grated coconut and coriander leaves...

Have it as it is hot or with any Daal or sambar !
This goes to WBB Healthy eats hosted by Suganya.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


He is catching up with the news , browsing through the news paper after dinner. Hand involuntarily moving from the bowl full of grapes to mouth.
She sits down with the good housekeeping magazine.

She : So when will you ever learn?

He: what?

She: What is your weight?

He: (pursing his lips) I did not check.

She : So when will you check?

He : don't know

She: Did you exercise today?

He: No

She: yesterday?

He: No

She : what all food did you have today?

He: Whatever you packed for me!( face full of innocence)

She: You sure you did not have any thing else?

He: nothing that I can remember.

She: So when did you have this( she is showing golden wrapper....the ones which comes with chocolates)?

He: what? Oh! that I don't exactly remember!

She: (This act of innocence , is what makes her loose her control) Why don't you keep a food dairy.....if you have a passion to do something you can do it...( her voice slowly breaking)
Do you remember when you started promising me to take care of your health? how much can I do? I am really worried! When will you ever start to take care?

He: ( seeing her eyes filled with tears he slowly grasps the seriousness of the situation. he is soft and mellow) You are there to take care na?

She: (she has decided not to give up)Don't try to play with me?

He: I promise you.....I will be more careful more chocolates............I am going to keep a record of what I eat.............happy?

She:I don't believe you....(she off to sleep)

Next day ....He is busy doing exercise when she wakes up.Her heart melts(she still tries to keep a stern countenance).The whole day he is making loud plans to start walking regularly....
In a week he brings home an exercise bike....and is burning calories regularly.

She wants to make up for all that she blurted out that night....she is only happy to have motivated him....

She is reminded of an easy chocolate recipe....
she blends together 1/2 cup Marie biscuit powder,
1/2 cup coconut milk powder
1/2 cup drinking chocolate powder
1/2 cup condensed milk
makes a dough....a mold different shapes with it.....

She : this is for you...

He:(is cautious and watching her reaction) I'll just take one....(while scooping two)

I Submit these temptations to valentine's day theme hosted by pooja.
and to heart for your valentine event.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Legume loveaffair!

Just 10 more days to go.....she thought. Her house was buzzing with activity....uncles aunts , cousins.....zooming in and out of the house...there was laughter , gossip, unending chatter resonating from all corners of the house.It was a celebration!

She too immersed herself in the aura of joy and love that filled her house....The thought of leaving her house in the next 10 days made her throat ache. And she knew everything would be different....a new house , a new family , a new way of life .....and a new friend for life. She was mentally preparing to embrace this newness, still yearning to hold on to each moment.

" The pandit is here! are you ready ? " some one shouted from the veranda.
She went in the pooja room , a place she felt calm and composed . She closed her eyes in front of the lighted lamps, and unable to find words of prayer...she just remained as she was feeling not excessive joy nor sorrow .. but hope and love!

Pandit came into the pooja room and asked her to bring the nava dhanya or nine pulses. He filled the nine small clay pots with soil , watered it and asked her the scatter the pulses in each of the pots.
Then he recited a few Sanskrit slokas .
" panditji, what is the significance of all these rituals? could you please explain to me? " she en quired.

" I am glad that you asked. You will have to take care of these nine pots for the next nine days. water it when needed ...and see it germinate and grow. This same ritual is also performed in the bride groom's house. The healthy growth of these legumes will predict the depth and beauty of your marriage. Do not let it get soggy nor let it wither... its up to you! " Panditji answered with a teasing smile.

And for the next nine days she visited the pooja room every hour monitoring the minute changes....even though it was just a ritual , she believed it had a lot to teach her....the same care , love and hope that let her legumes to germinate would sprout a healthy and beautiful relationship.And each day as she sat looking at those tiny pods spring to life, activating dormant enzymes it was teaching her life lessons. Thus began her legume love love affair!

Whenever I soak green gram over night to make sprouts ... it does take me back to my daily vigil in my pooja room.
Moong sprouts are my favorite , it is a no hassle food.. no cutting , peeling shredding.. just soak it overnight. drain the water and let it sprout!
So here goes my entry for the legume love affair hosted by Susan of the well seasoned cook...

What you need:

1 cup of moong(green gram)
1/4 cup of fenugreek seeds
1/4 cup of grated coconut
1tsp chilli powder
1tsp turmeric powder
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp musturd seeds
sprigs of curry leaves
2-3 shallots(optional)
1tsp oil
1tsp lemon juice
salt to taste


Wash and soak moong and fenugreek seeds overnight. Let it drain and tie it in a wet muslin cloth or drain it in a colander. If in a colander just sprinkle water once in a while. Let it sprout.
Heat oil in a pan. splutter mustard seeds , add in curry leaves. sprinkle some asafoetida, add in the sprouts. Add some water. only enough to cook the sprouts. meanwhile blend the grated coconut, chilly powder, turmeric powder , some curry leaves,jeera or cumin seeds and chopped shallots.mix well either with hand or coarsely grind it.Once the sprouts are cooked , which would take 5-6 minutes, add in the coconut mix.add salt and mix well. squeeze in the lemon juice just before serving!

This goes well with rice or any bread or even just as a snack!
remember , this is packed with lot of health!To read on the health benefits of sprouts click here.

Thank you Susan for triggering the memories of my legume love affair! I think this post will also be right for the valentine's day theme hosted by Pooja of creative idea... though it is not a pink dish... lets go green !

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

soy samosas......through a journey of transformation!

The painter creates art on his easel with colors , a sculptor breathes life into his carved wonder, a singer experiences bliss at the rendering of melody, a dancer elevates one and all to the horizons of rasa., a writer vents his thoughts through words.......each and everyone gaining happiness from the presence of his own art. But in the case of a passionate cook.... this formula does not work. The one who creates sumptuous dishes would be rather happy with the disappearance of the piece of art...which would credit to the culinary skills of the artiste cook!

I gain the most satisfaction when my experiments in kitchen disappear , when every one happily munches on without complaint , when kids are engrossed in eating , their faces grinning while they eat!
The most challenging hour is the evening , when my kindergartner rushes from school , yelling, "Amma , what is today's special?"
His palate demands variety every evening....(can't complain! Today I realize what my mother might have gone through , trying to satisfy the picky eater in me)

It was almost time for my son to return from school... and I had still not figured out what to make for a snack!
I glanced at the leftovers on the counter and "eureka!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"This would be the best way to feed him the papaya curry I made for lunch!"
I boiled two potatoes, peeled and smashed them ..added salt . Blended this with the leftover papaya side dish.
now what?.....................opened the counter tops for ideas...there popped out the soy flour which I had bought two days back after reading about the soy event.
soya flour?..............hmmmm.. why not ?
So in went 1/2 cup of soy flour in a mixing bowl. next I added1tbsp of heated butter and made into a dough with enough water and a pinch of salt.I made small balls and rolled it like a poori.

placed the pappaya potato mixture in the middle. close from all the three sides to made a triangle.

deep fry and Papaya soy samosas are ready!!!

Kids are happy.. and I too secretly enjoy the accomplishment of making my kids eat the papaya dish...Q
Even the papaya dish is ready in a jiffy... here you go...peel off the skin from the raw papaya and grate it. Heat a pan, add 1tbspof coconut oil. splutter mustard seeds , cumin seeds curry leaves and 2 split open green chillies. add in the grated papaya.reduce the heat and stir .add asafoetida, once done remove from fire and serve hot!

I submit these soy samosas to the WBB SOY EVENT hosted by rajitha.
Both the soy samosas and papaya dish also goes to AFAM event hosted by nags.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Where the mind is without fear....

WHERE the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

On this occasion of Indian Republic day....when thoughts on freedom and patriotism are in the air .... it is this invocation , that passes my mind....these powerful words written by the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. These words of wisdom are beyond time and are relevant today as it was at its birth. It speaks of that heaven of freedom, which each of us can aspire to achieve... freedom from our own fears and low self esteem...

Why not celebrate our republic day with a quick tricolored sandwich.....

What you need:

bread slices 4
grated carrot 1/2 cup
cream cheese spread
boiled potato 1 thinly sliced
coriander leaves a bunch
garlic 2 cloves
baby onions 2-3
green chilly 1-2
grated coconut 2tbsp
ginger shredded 1tsp
pepper 1 pinch
salt to taste
lime juice 1tsp


To make coriander chutney, grind together , coriander leaves, garlic ginger , green chillies , baby onions, grated coconut and enough salt.squeeze in the lime juice.

Discard the brown sides of the bread . spread coriander chutney on one slice. cover with the second slice of bread. On the top of the 2nd slice , spread cream cheese and arrange the sliced potatoes. sprinkle pepper. cover with yet another slice. now spread the grated carrots on the top of the third slice.sprinkle salt n pepper(optional). cover with the final slice and your tricolored sandwich in ready!

I submit this post to theme of the week-orange white green.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

They make my eyes water...onions and bygone days!!!

She is a great story teller, my grand mother. Our summer holidays were filled with fairy tales she weaved for us, grand children. I remember the magic in her voice when she used to transport us into a world of dreams and imagination , our eyes , ears and mouth wide open. Every day of summer holidays was a feast for us. Our favorite dishes spread for each meal , our grand mother was always planning what to cook for the next meal.On days when we were exhausted from stuffing our tiny bellies with the home cooked delicacies and we convinced her to not make dinner , she squatted beside us with her eyes filled with affection holding a large plate heaped with afternoon's left over rice. And we would know what would follow. She always had and still has a way to get things done, with out ever uttering a word. She would chop the baby onions and green chillies and mix it together with salt. Pour spoonfuls of oil ( oil which was used for frying papad) onto the rice and mix in the onions and chillies! The faint aroma would force itself into our nostrils and without any coaxing we six grand children would surround her with open mouths! Our Uncle too would pop in from nowhere , and would get his share. This would be accompanied by some interesting story...and in no time the plate would be clean.

Baby onions were always my favorite. It always enhanced the taste of any dish! though my favorite still is my grandmother's balls of rice enriched with the flavors of baby onions and green chillies...

An onion dish which is a family favorite is "ulli theeyal" It is a dish of god's own country , Kerala. Kerala is home to me ! though I am not a Malayalee. Malayalam , is a language close to my heart though its not my mother tongue! Born and brought up in Kerala, we imbibed kerala culture and language and of course food . so here goes my favorite "ulli theeyal" .ulli meaning baby onions or shallots... and theeyal meaning a burnt dish.

What you need

baby onions 250 gms
tamarind lemon size
grated coconut 1 cup
red chillies 5( according to your spice level)
coriander seeds 5 tbsps
fenugreek seeds 1tsp
cumin seeds 1tsp
urud dal 1tsp
oil for seasoning
mustard seeds 1tsp
curry leaves a few sprigs
salt to taste


Heat a pan and add fenugreek seeds, urad dal , cumin seeds, grated coconut , coriander seeds , red chillies 3-4 onions 1 sprig curry leaves. keep on mild heat and keep stirring until the while coconut turns brown and the aroma fills the whole kitchen.Allow this to cool and grind to a smooth paste. Mean while soak the tamarind in warm water to take the extract. Heat oil in a pan , splutter mustard seeds and add in curry leaves and diced baby onions. stir in till translucent . Add the tamarind extract and let it boil. Mix in the ground paste , add salt . let it cook for one minute and your ulli theeyal is ready to eat!

I submit this to RCI kerala cuisine hosted by curry bazar. and JFI Onions hosted by radhi's kitchen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Spice up this winter!

" Aangikam Bhuvanam Yasya,
Vachikam Sarva vangmayam ,
Aaharyam Chandra taradi,

( The whole Universe is HIS body,
All the sounds embody His speech,
The moon and stars are his ornaments ,

With this invocation let me welcome you to this blog!.. "Satvika"

Have you ever thought that what we eat influences our thoughts? and what we think makes us who we are? According to Ayurveda which advocates a healthy way of life there are three categories of food with individual characteristics which in turn reflects on an indivivual's personality. They are the satva , rajas and tamas. In the satva category we can find fresh fruits , vegetables , legumes , milk and nuts which instill satvik qualities ,... in the rajas we can find spicy and hot food , red meat, sour and pungent food which makes one impulsive and succumb to too much anger and vigour, and the tamas consists of onions , garlic etc which gives rise to inertia. There should be a proper balance between these three......70% of satva, 20% of rajas and 10% of tamas to lead a healthy life! This is what inspired me to name my blog satvika!

Winter is gaining momentum and who doesn't yearn for something hot and spicy:)
Last week PP who can hardly resist fruits brought home 2 big water melons ! WATER MELONS and winter might start with the same alphabet.... but how can they ever go together. This is the last thing I wanted!I always associated water melons with peak summer in Chennai, where vendors piled up their truck loads of water melons on the streets and and waited for the customers under the scorching sun.
But here, when outside temperature has dropped to -20 degrees who will ever imagine to eat water melons!
Water melons waited on my counter for a week, receiving my pathetic glances.... and one fine day I decided to experiment with it! why not a spicy watermelon curry! flash backs of cut watermelon sprinkled with salt and chilly powder on our hike to Tirupati temple struck me... and that is how this recipe was born!

What you need:

diced water melon 3 cups
garlic cloves 6
shredded ginger 2 table spoons
coriander seeds 4 tbsps
turmeric powder 1 tsp
chilly powder 1 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
lemon juice 1tbsp
coriander leaves for garnish
oil for seasoning
salt to taste

coarsely grind together garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, turmeric powder and chilly powder and 1 cup water melon. heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Then add in the coarsely ground mixture and allow to boil. Add in the remaining water melon cubes . Add salt and cover and cook for 5 minutes. before removing from heat , sprinkle lemon juice and garnish with coriander leaves before serving!Have it hot with rice or any bread !