Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Southern Flavours | Chandra Padmanabhan | A Book Review

Book: Southern Flavors
Author: Chandra Padmanabhan
Published by:  Westland
Food photographer: N. Prabhaakkar

Every once in a while, I come across a cook book that makes me want to take it home and scour through its pages. And to me always the first impression is important. It decides if I'm going to scan through the pages. Well, this book surely took me into the recipes with beautiful macro shot pictures. In one single picture, you would embrace the dish!

I received this beautiful cookbook "Southern Flavors" by Chandra Padmanabhan from Blogadda, as part of their Book review program. This is my first book review. I have heard about her recipes through various people, but never owned any cookbook of hers (or any other) for the matter of fact.

Meet Chandra Padmanabhan, with her the best of her cookbooks for her myriad fans, Southern Flavours. She is the author of Dakshin, Southern Spice, and Simply South. They are her tried and trusted book which are sold all over the world with no fuss. I am very happy to possess the best of her recipes through this book.

Southern Flavors is for a beginner, and not alone for beginner but to all those who have no idea to use certain healthy herbs and grains. We get an insight into more varieties of our regular ingredients. I would also say, anyone from a varied cuisine who wish to try the Southern cuisine of India, this would be a great initiative. This is a treasure of South Indian recipes and some of which are completely out of our minds and never seen in the modern kitchen.

Announcing Cooking Challenge # 2 - Spices of Andhra

After a wonderful completion of the event series 1, I would love to invite you to Cooking Challenge # 2, Spices of Andhra. Andhra is a wonderful spicy cuisine, with great aromatic flavors.
Andhra Pradesh is known for its heavy use of spices and chillies. Rice is the staple food in the Andhra cuisine and is usually consumed with a variety of curries and lentil soups or broths. With Rice being the staple food, they are had with pappu - kandi pappu (Toor dhal) or Pesara pappu (Moong dhal) cooked with vegetable or greens. Garlic and onion in the seasoning while some regions prefer asafetida.

Cooking Challenge 1 - Round Up

I started this event, Cooking Challenge, with an intention for people (co-bloggers and others) to get into each cuisine and explore their recipes. I am sure to say that this was a great event. We had overwhelming entries, flavorful entries with beautiful pics and presentation. Now, before getting into a visual round-up, I want to share an award for sending most number of entries for the event, CC-Flavors of Tamil Nadu by Kalyani of Sizzling Taste Buds. with almost 9 entries.
Also, there were few recipes which were viewed more times compared to the other recipes, they are in the order of most viewed,

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Homemade Butter Naan | without Yeast

Baking is slowly getting in pace or I'm getting in pace with baking. Though, not a regular baker, I love to try new recipes at home. And Sundar likes to try something completely new recipes and new cuisines too. I always have hesitations trying new things as they might not turn to our liking. I was avoiding yeast based recipes just because of this fear. There are so many wonderful recipes that go missed if you still immerse in that fear. But some have
replacements to yeast recipes.

Butter Naan is one of the recipes which we order on our regular basis at an hotel. If this is missed at a hotel visit, then we tend to feel that we have certainly missed something at the visit. That is what my aunt tells me everytime. And by default most of us order only butter naan. It is something like a basic dish to order and you can continue with other varieties as an addition to it.

First I wanted to try the non-yeast version, then planned to try the yeast version. But now I feel this simple recipe sounds too good!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rajma Curry with Butter Naan

I first had Rajma in a small restaurant in Sanjay Nagar, Bangalore. I just loved the taste. Till then I was not a fan of this bean variety. I had never even attempted to prepare. But we used to Rajma with Chaval. They were just adorable. Although, panner and gobi side dishes were available, I resist cooking for the night and get this for the dinner. This was a small restaurant by the road side and prepared some nice authentic dishes of a exotic flavor.

Rajma is a red kidney bean, and Naan is Indian bread.. A side dish of kidney beans is prepared with spices and then enjoyed with naan or roti or rice. Two different elements cooked separately comes together as a final dish. You can make this one day as a side dish for say Roti's, Naan's, chapathi's, tortillas etc. Since this side dish is even more awesome the next day, if you have leftovers, enjoy them then traditionally with rice.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

India Republic Day, 63rd Republic day

In India, Republic Day commemorates the date on which the Constitution of India came into force replacing the Government of India Act 1935 as the governing document of India on 26 January 1950.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fresh Fruit Pastry

Pastry is a term used in India to refer to any cake made with a fresh cream filling or frosting. The most popular ones are the Black Forest, Pineapple pastries, or any other fruit pastries.
I had the Fresh Fruit Pastry once in a bakery in edison. I have had the other pastries when I was a kid in India and we used to crazy for Black Forest Cake.

Pastries are usually made with fat-free sponge cakes where all the sponginess comes from the eggs.

The Fresh Fruit Pastry is a soft sponge cake and decorated with thin slices of fruits. I used soft fruits like strawberries, kiwi fruit and pineapple. I think you can’t really use harder fruits like apples and pears for obvious reasons that it will be impossible to cut them. Moreover apples and pears can oxidize and turn brownish. If you use watermelon or cantaloupe, they will watery and hence make the cake soggy. So, rightly choosing the fresh fruits is very important.

The fresh fruit pastry is pleasing to the eyes and palate. What else could you think of using for this?
The Fresh Fruit Cake is very light and not overly sweet. A great cake for almost any occasion or you can create an occasion for the cake.  Always, plan the seasonal fruits, as they give the natural sweetness.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Methi Malai Mattar

I had bought 2 bunches of Methi leaves this week. And got rid of doing the routine recipes I was preparing all this while. I also had some left over whipping cream which I had used for frosting. I have been quite reluctant to try some high calorie food these days. But, it is that we always want change in our food. And I'm such a person who look for change on day to day basis. I get bored with the routine recipes easily. The most difficult part is choosing the recipe rather cooking. Sometimes I would say, I do not like to make the same dish with the same recipe, but opt to try for a different version of it. As long as Sundar doesn't insist on the same recipe, I change it every time.

There was too much reflection in the picture, and since it was rich and creamy it reflected more of the light. The gravy was more greeny and healthy (if you add less cream). ;)

Malai along with Methi makes it all the more creamy with the flavor of spices and peas to it makes it all the more delicious that you will forget of your diet restrictions. I always plan to be on diet but forget in a day or two, and end up preparing a very high calorie food.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kothamali Thogayal (Coriander Dip)

A simple dip or chutney or even can be prepared as a coriander rice. This is something that would help us on a lazy day. I tell you, winter makes me so lazy. Lazy is just not the word. Hasini asks me sometimes, mommy if you sit down to watch TV, "what am I going to eat?" So, during winter, lots of hubby cooking days comes :) and my hubby is a very happy man cooking for me. But, he never wants me to comment or criticize after eating. Well, who will criticize when food is served at a cozy couch (esp., after marriage)?

A simple thogayal for you, which can also be prepared with mint or curry leaves. So enjoy with your favorite tiffin either idli, dosa, or for variety rice, or even for your curd rice.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mango Kalakand

The year has just begun, with the most important and very traditional festival Pongal and some traditional sweets to go with the festival. Slowly we begin to make and bake sweets for the festivals. I don't tend to make much sweets, only some occasionally. I prepare sweets only for sundar, you know I not a sweet lover. One reason is I'm not fond of sweets and another is its quite time consuming.

This is quite an easy and simple sweet to prepare. I have seen most of them preparing the Kalakand. So I wanted to attempt it this time. They are some what similar to Palkova. I have always said sweet is not my favorite, but when it comes to Palkova I do not feel that way.

It is just the ease to prepare the sweet made me to prepare the sweet. Just 10 mins, and you have the sweet done. Of course, you require some ingredients, specially in you pantry as part of this recipe.  And you can alter the flavors to suit your family. Plain Kalakand, Mango flavored, Kesar Flavored, rosewater flavored, Gulgand Flavored etc.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Maa Vilakku

An age old tradition of lighting lamp with maa vilakku. They are done by both the sub-sects, iyer and iyengar. The Saivites do it on any of the Fridays of Thai month or on aadi month in Tamil calendar. The Vaishnavites prepare on Purattasi month.

We light lamp in our home, and invite the Godess (ambal) to our home in the form of "Jothi". This is a wonderful experience every-time. We all can say slokas praising Goddess Parvathi, and recite Lalitha Sahasra namam on these days.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bread Raita

It was a left over party at home, so I made Tawa pulao and Bread Raita. Since bread is all in all handy food in my pantry. I use them in most of the day today recipes. But have you heard of making it into a raita? Yes! next time you have left over bread in your house you can make bread raita. Do try this recipe. If you want whip this up in to an easy snack sprinkle some sev on it and enjoy.

Tawa Pulao

Tawa Pulao is a term which all Mumbaikars are well versed with. I can bet there will be not a single person in Mumbai who must have not eaten Mumbai Tawa Pulao. For those who don’t know what Tawa Pulao is, Let me tell you Tawa Pulao is sold on Mumbai Streets. In almost all corners, junctions or roads of Mumbai you will find Tawa Pulaos.

When I ate this Tawa pulao one time, I had the taste lingering in my mouth for a longer time. It tasted familiar to something which I prepare. I was surprised to know the addition of the Pav bhaji masala to the rice. When asked to one of my friends, she said it is very usual and normal in Mumbai street foods to have this masala cooked along with their rice and called as Tawa Pulao. This is made in the same large skillet where Pav Bhaji masala is heated. This rice is also heated along side and is made using the Pav bhaji masala.

More than to the yummy taste, it is so easy to prepare, esp., when you run out of vegetables. It requires less amount of veggies or you can also prepare with left over rice. They taste as good as always.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Purana Poli

"Pazhayana Kazhithalum Pudhiyana Pugudhalum", Lets clean our houses and get rid of old unused items. Lets not burn, rather recycle and donate.

The great series of festival, Pongal starts with Bhogi. Staying here I miss drawing Kolams, eating Sugarcane.
The recipe for Bhogi is Purana Poli, Paruppu Vadai, and Payasam.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Open face Avocado Sandwich

Butter or Avocados, I would say Avocado. I love these little greens too buttery for a bite! This sandwich is one of my pleasures. It's great, no hassles lunch, or dinner, just face it! Sometimes, we do not feel like cooking.
If you cut the bread into smaller squares and toasted them in the oven, this would make a great appetizer. Any recipe that invites Avocados, invites me too! They are so tasty and requires no cooking at all. That makes my life simple! I will not call this as a recipe at all, it does not require much do about. 

Sankaranthi Kootu

A very special kootu, Sankaranthi kootu, is a great one to go along with pongal. Although, we never try to prepare this on any other days. Somehow, life moves like a flash, we also rush around things. This is yet another simple kootu,

Pongal is not a single day festival, it is a series of 3 days. The festival is also called as Harvest festival. The farmers worship Lord Indhra and Sun God for appropriate rain and abundant yield. So, these days helps for the family unity. Like that this kootu is prepared with lots of vegetables along with field beans and pray God for family unity.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stuffed Eggplant Curry / Gutthi Vankaya Koora

I just love these stuffed veggies curry. They are too tasty to stop eating. Little time consuming, but when you take a bite, you will not hesitate to take longer time to prepare.

Every week, when go for my weekly grocery purchase to Indian store, I get the eggplants or brinjals. But somehow, I never find time to prepare the stuffed curry. I should say, I bought 3 consecutive week, but never got the time to prepare them.  Today my entire cooking and cleaning got over in the morning itself. So I prepare stuffed eggplant in my relaxed way.

When you try a new recipe, don't we require our own time to prepare? I do take that much time. More to this, kuttan sleeps in the afternoon and he wakes at the drop of a pin. So, how am I to grind in my mixer. I waited till he woke up, to grind the spices. This is how my cooking goes from the afternoon to the late evening, still I enjoy every minute of it.

Hindu Festivals, 2012

The list of Hindu Festivals 2012 or Hindu festival Calendar 2012 is listed here. Along with the important festivals in 2012 like Diwali, Navrathri, Sankaranthi, Ugadi, Ganesha Chathurthi, Akshaya Tritiya, Holi, Sivarathri, RamaNavami, Varalakshmi Vratham, Tamil months. Raksha Bandhan, Onam festival, Sri Krishnashtami, Pongal, Caradayanombu, Sankatahara Chathurthi are all listed here.

The festivals are listed as per the monthly calendar from Guruvayoorappan Temple, New Jersey.

Hindu Festivals, 2012

Pls comment your requirements like more specific additions to calendars or any other modification is required to help you better.

Remember:  This Calendar is based on New Jersey temple Calendar, it will surely vary for people in India. And it might be the same for US, west time zone or might be slightly different.

I would like to thank Aparna and Gomathi for the Happy Blogger Award!

Monday, January 9, 2012


I really think that the women in my family live through cooking. The stories that they tell about how they learned to make a certain dish and what occasions they cook it on tell a lot about themselves and our family history. Recently I've gotten to know my mother-in-law a lot better by learning to cook from her, importantly I've learned the dishes my husband loves the most. In-fact, he is specific to have that particular taste for these dishes.  She is the best kind of mother-in-law, I have met no other friend who can claim a the same with their m-in-laws to the one I have with mine. Knock on wood.

I have already shared  about each of our likes to food at home. Sundar hails from southern part of Tamilnadu, Nagercoil, specifically the village Erachakulam. This dish is traditionally prepared there, and usually on the occasions of Thiruvathirai as a side dish for Kali.

Channa Dhal Masala Fry

Welcome back Bihari cuisine. This is one easy side dish for Parathas/ rotis, It hardly took 20 mins to complete the dish, as I had all the spices ready to be cooked.

The dish does not make you stuffed, so it can be prepared for stuffed rotis or parathas. I made this for my Palak Parathas and I loved the spices in this curry to my mild spiced parathas. A great combination, I felt.

Palak Parathas

I love to try foods from various cuisines. Just wonder how I was eating just Tamil cuisine (I love you Tamil cuisine, always!) all these days? May be my mom made such tasty dishes which never made me to think of other cuisines. Thank you mom!
But, Sundar has never got complaints on my cooking, did you Sundar?

I hopped into Bihari cuisine and tried couple of dishes.
Food habits of the people in Bihar show how the cuisine of the state has evolved over centuries under the influence of various cultures and regimes which controlled it from time to time.

Thiruvathirai Kali

Thiruvathirai Kali is prepared on the auspicious occasion of Thiruvathirai. Cendanar of Naukoor, a disciple of Paddinattu Adigal, used to eat only after feeding some Saiva devotees. Due to a constant bad weather he could not get together all the essentials for a proper meal. He had no option but to mix water with flour and prepare a mashed paste. Lord Siva understood his predicament. He wanted the people to know how sincere his devotee was to him. Therefore he disguised himself as a Siva devotee and visited Cendanar’s hut and enjoyed what was given to him as food. The temple attendants saw the premises scattered with the mashed paste the following morning. Inquiries led to an understanding of Cendanar’s piety and he was thereafter bestowed with all due respect. This incident took place in a Markali Thiruvathirai. This is why Thiruvathirai Kali forms an important prasad on this holy day.

All these traditional sweets are loved by Sundar. He craves for them, I should say. And he loves to have Thalagam along with this.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Capsicum fritter (bajji)

I was chatting with my friend yesterday and she asked some tips on making bajji or pakoda. She is totally new to cooking. She felt home sick and she wanted to have some home made snacks or some fritters. I was in her place couple of years back. I used to call for all tips and basic recipes to my mom or aunt or my granny. I wonder that I don't have one single post of bajji or pakoda! But why? I make them once in 2 weeks and apart to that on-demand to Sundar's request.

I always like to try variations in my own recipes and also the traditional recipes. And this is one of the kind of recipes. My pati always wants to try all kind of bajjis for various vegetables. When I keep myself to her, I make only couple of vegetables. I still don't see half of her enthusiasm in me in most of the things. People of our earlier generation are too enthusiastic and work like a flicker. I try hard to be like her one day and get too exhausted the next day.

This is something great for a rainy day, and a tangy snack once he comes from office. Sundar, sometimes calls on his way back home and ask me to prepare some.

Curry Leaves Rice

A variety rice for the days when we do not want to stick with the routine Sambar and Rasam. And these days I tend to be inclined to Curry leaves more. We are just enjoying the flavor that comes out of curry leaves and wonder how many simple recipes I make these days? As I told I was a person who keep the curry leaves at the corner of the plate.

Gone are those days, enjoying the flavors of the healthy herb, Curry Leaves. Try this recipe and try your variations, and alterations.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Perfect Guacamole

I first had Guacamole at Chipotle, NY.  I think all of us would have tasted Mexican through Chipotle first. The flavorful cilantro rice with super healthy black beans and other veggies are too good to resist for a mouth. How could one have them without the Guacamole Dip?

Guacamole, a dip made from avocados, is originally from Mexico. The name is derived from two Aztec Nahuatl words - ahuacatl (avocado) and molli (sauce). The trick to perfect guacamole is using good, ripe avocados. Check for ripeness by gently pressing the outside of the avocado. If there is no give, the avocado is not ripe yet and will not taste good. If there is a little give, the avocado is ripe. If there is a lot of give, the avocado may be past ripe and not good. In this case, taste test first before using.

An Inspirational Award

Thanks to Cuisine Delights for sharing this beautiful award. Blogging world is a wonderful place to explore and dwell with all you great friends. All your comments inspire me to blog more and more. Each of your comment means so much and I welcome all your suggestions and variations to the recipes I post here in this little space.

The inspirational blogger award has got a very lovely thought of answering 8 questions regarding you as a person along with this sweet award. My answers are marked in purple.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tutti Fruity Buns

The days are over flowing with my baked goodies. I still, take a huge amount of time to bake. But slowly am trying to reach that zone of comfortableness. Well, in such a place I was so excited to bake with Mr. Yeast. Mr.Yeast is been waiting for a very long time in my pantry. He pops up every now and then to ask did you call me? I just set him aside and cook something else. But now I am ready to go for a trial and some tests.

I looked at more than 1 site to see how to proof Mt. Yeast. I was so worried if I was on right way. But everything has to be tried out to achieve. So, I started to prepare them Tutti Fruity Buns.

I have not seen these buns here till now. My mom loves buns. I wish I could have tried them when she was here. She would have lived on my buns. Before my marriage, we used to go to walk everyday. Just a casual walk around our place. So, she sees Adyar Bakery and enters for the buns. Somehow, I used to feel they are quite blank and choose black forest cake instead.

Bisibelabath & Simple potato fry

Tastes evolve, but certain classics stand the test of time. Why do certain dishes remain fixed on our menus (during occasions or get-together) for decades while others come and go? The answer is simple: they are unwaveringly, irresistibly good. What's more, by virtue of their staying power, they offer windows onto the eras in which they were born. 

One such dish is our Bisibela bath or Sambar Satham. All dishes have their unique flavors and taste although they can be altered to suit our palates. The flavors you see here will be unique without much masalas that are prepared in most of the Brahmin houses. 
This dish is authentic to Karnataka Cuisine, but when it came to chennai they were modified and altered more to suit our taste at home. We are going to see a very simple version of Bisibelabath. Lets hop in to the recipe,

Celebrating Pongal Festival


The great tamil festival "Pongal" starts with Bogi. Bogi Festival falls on the last day of Margazhi month of tamil calender. Traditionally Bhogi festival is for Lord Indiran, who has been worshiped as "God for rain". This is to thank Lord Indiran to give enough rain for the harvest.

Picture coutesy: google


But generally, the prior to Bhogi every one clean up their houses, get rid of old unused items. In tamil it is called "Pazhayana Kazhithalum Pudhiyana Pugudhalum". In villages people collect all the old, unwanted items and they bornfire in centre of the village.

Also, people paint the houses, put kolams and color the kolams. People take oil bath and make poli, vadai, payasam for neyvethyam to god and in particular to Lord Indiran.

Happy Bogi and lets celebrate environment friendly bogi festival.

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