April 29, 2008

Eggless Chocolate Cake

This is really the simplest cake I have ever made. It is eggless, has just 5 spoons of oil, takes less than 10 minutes from flour to baked product and can me made in a basic microwave oven. The best part is that the people who eat it will “assume” that you toiled for hours to get this cake ready.

I have made this many times in the past and the result has always been “Wow!” I’d been pushing
Srivalli to announce cakes for her MEC and finally she did. I think I was drowning in that thing called work and I’d managed to come up for a gasp of air before the sheer force took me in once again and there – I saw the announcement. I thought I was going to miss the bus yet again and then I caught her online and pleaded with her to extend the deadline. And she did.

So without making her wait any further, let me post the recipe for this microwave cake that is definitely a keeper.

1 1/2 cups Flour

3 tbsp Cocoa Powder

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 cup Powdered Sugar

5 tbsp Oil

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

1 tbsp White Vinegar

1 cup Milk

Sift the dry ingredients together. Add the liquid ingredients. Blend well. Pour into a greased 8 inch microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 5-7 minutes. Allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Your cake is ready. While baking, you could top it with some cashews and brown sugar, coconut and sugar... or just about anything you like.

Chocolate cakes work best in pureplay MW ovens as they don't need to brown on top. A vanilla cake bakes just as well, but the top remains whitish brown. And when one doesn't frost the cake, it looks a little odd. Another thing to note while baking a cake in a MW is to never flour the pan after greasing. The rationale is that the flour-fat mixture actually gets cooked!

April 28, 2008

Garlic Baby Potatoes

Baby potatoes... I find them extremely cute. I find them a big pain to peel, but hey, the things we do for... love? cuteness? food?

Food is the most likely answer. We buy bags of baby potatoes every once in a while as S promises to make me some Tatties. He made them once when I had no clue how to take decent pictures. And after that, I’ve just done whatever comes to my mind with the potatoes.

This is something my aunt made for us and as kids, we used to get pretty kicked about the dish. It is about as simple as side dishes get (once you’ve peeled all the little ones).

250 g Baby Potatoes, boiled and peeled
1 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
¼ tsp Asafoetida
1 tbsp Garlic Paste
1-2 tsp Chilli Powder
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
Salt to Taste

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the cumin seeds and asafetida. When the cumin seeds crackle, add the garlic paste, chilli powder and turmeric powder. Fry this paste for a couple of minutes. Add the baby potatoes and salt. Mix well. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Cook uncovered for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with rotis or rice and dal.

God must lie in the simple joys of life.

April 23, 2008

Oats Upma

Every month, Coffee usually sends us on a trip around the blogosphere. It reminds me of school and the projects we completed while there. She gives us a task and we come back and present it in class (read blog). Sometimes she goes on leave and we have substitute teachers. This month's substitute class teacher is Pavani and she sent us all to bring back a one pot meal.

I'm probably the biggest upma lover around and can make upma with just about everything. Nandita's Oats for Dinner is something I've been making even before I discovered the doctor or her blog, but it fitted in perfectly with the theme this month. Plus, the two pictures look so similar that you could easily interchange them and not really get to know. There are a few changes and my recipe is here:


1 cup Roasted Oats

1 Onion, chopped

1 cup Mixed vegetables, chopped and cooked (I used carrots, beans, cauliflower and peas)

1 tbsp Oil

1/2 tsp Urad Dal

1/2 tsp Chana Dal

1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds

1/4 tsp Asafoetida

7-8 Curry Leaves

½ tsp Chilli Flakes

¼ tsp Turmeric Powder

1 tsp Green Chilli paste

1 tsp Ginger Paste

Salt to taste

Coriander Leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the urad and chana dals. When the urad dal begins to brown a little, add the mustard and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves, onions, ginger and chilli pastes and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the chilli and turmeric powders and fry for a minute more. Add the mixed vegetables and the oats and fry the entire mixture for 1-2 minutes. Add 2 cups of boiling hot water and salt to this. Mix well, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes on a low flame.

I'm a one dish meal queen in any case and this blog is full of these time saving meals. I will bookmark this round up as I have Meeta's Mingle One-Dish Dinners and Mallugirl’s Express Cooking challenge. They're any working girl's real best friends.

April 22, 2008

Vegetable Rice

I haven't been cooking a great deal. It is already so hot in Delhi/Gurgaon that all I want to do is sit down with tall glasses of juice or iced tea. But meals must be eaten and one dish meals rule my roost during these hot months. This rice makes an excellent lunch idea and I'm sure it will be a hit at parties too.


250 g Mixed Boiled Vegetables (Carrot, Beans, Peas)


1 cup Basmati Rice

¼ tsp Turmeric Powder

½ tsp Oil

1 tsp Salt


2 tbsp Coriander Seeds

1/8 cup Coconut, scraped

2-3 Cloves

2-3” stick of Cinnamon

2-3 Red Chillies

2 tbsp Tamarind Paste

Salt to taste

1 tsp Oil


1 tbsp Oil

1 tsp Mustard Seeds

¼ tsp Asafoetida

8-10 Curry Leaves

Coriander Leaves for the garnish

Heat the oil and roast the coriander seeds for 2-3 minutes. Add the chillies, cloves, cinnamon and coconut and roast for a little longer. Grind this mixture to a paste adding the tamarind paste and salt.

Add 2 cups of water and cook the rice in a pressure cooker with the oil, turmeric and salt.

In a pressure pan, heat the oil for the tempering, add the mustard seeds and the asafetida. When the mustard seeds splutter, add the curry leaves and the mixed vegetables. Fry for a couple of minutes. Add the ground masala and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked rice along with salt and mix thoroughly. Cover and cook on a low flame for 2-3 minutes.

Cloves form an important ingredient in this dish and I am sending this to Canela & Comino for the Think Spice - Think Clove event, Sunita's initiative.

I must admit I got a wee bit jealous last week when I read Nupur's post. I thought about how happy it would make me to receive a small package filled with lovely stuff. And my dear friend, Nandita, seemed to have read my mind. I received this cute parcel from her yesterday and I am so thrilled.

Apart from a sweet letter, the box contained a packet of methkut, some kairi murabba, an assortment of flavoured teas, an agarbatti holder and the garlic-groundnut chutney that I have been craving for quite a while now. My colleagues who watched me open the parcel were shocked to see its contents. They're used to seeing calendars, organizers, placement brochures and random stuff, but never food. Did I notice a bit of jealousy? I sure did. But that's OK. At about the same time that I was in seventh heaven, my namesake got a small package from me with some Nankhatai, aloo mash, fake chicken drumsticks and a readymade curry paste. I'd been meaning to send her the fake chicken drumsticks for weeks now. I noticed her handwriting in her mango pickle post and was shocked to see how similar it was to mine. The only way I could show her was by sending her a sample. Now, this weekend, I shall make some sweet and savoury nankhatai and send them over to the doctor. I do want a clean chit of health afterall. Thanks Nandita! You're a darling.

April 21, 2008

Papad Mangodi ki Subji

If it took a few trips to Gujarat for me to fall head over heels in love with its cuisine, I must admit that I fell in love with Rajasthani food long before I set foot in the state. I think it was the Thali at Mansukh that did it. Or was it the daal-bati-churma at the Trade fair in Delhi? Maybe it was the sit down meal at Dhola-ri-Dhani in Hyderabad? Whatever it was, I know I've enjoyed this cuisine and am quite thrilled when I try stuff at home.

A few years ago, I bought the Rajasthani Cookbook by Tarla Dalal and made a fantastic meal of dal parathas, gatte ki kadhi and khasta kachori. I couldn't believe that my kachoris turned out so like the ones I'd eaten at chaat shops. I made this dish in the peak of summer last year (when I was out of vegetables). It almost seems like I made it and then waited for the RCI Rajasthan to be announced. That was not intentional.

1 cup Moong Dal Mangodi

4 large Urad Papads, torn into small bits
1 cup Fresh Curds, beaten
2 tsp Coriander Powder

1 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Dry Mango Powder (Amchur)
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Ginger Paste
1 tsp Green Chilli Paste
2 tbsp Oil
1.4 tsp Asafoetida
Salt to taste

Place the mangodis in a plastic bag and run a rolling pin over it to crush them.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pressure pan and add the crushed mangodis. Add a cup of water and pressure cook for 3 whistles.

Beat the curds with the chilli powder, coriander powder, dry mango powder and turmeric powder. Heat the other tablespoon of oil and add the cumin and mustard seeds. When the mustard splutters, add the asafoetida, ginger and chilli pastes and fry for a minute. Add the beaten curd mixture and salt and continue to cook for a few minutes till the mixture comes to a boil. Add the mangodis(along with the water they were cooked in) and the papads and cook for another few minutes.

Serve with rice or parathas.
According to Tarla Dalal ( Mangodis are sun-dried grape sized dumplings made from soaked and ground moong dal or sometimes from urad dal. Due to scarcity of vegetables, the ingenious Rajasthanis use different forms of pulses to whip up healthy and tasty meals. Mangodis or moong dal badis are often used to rustle up several tasty and mouth-watering recipes.

This is off to Padmaja at Spicy Andhra as she hosts the RCI Rajasthan - Flavours of the Desert event. I hope to send in more entries, but in any case don't want to miss the boat.

April 19, 2008


You know how it is when you have nothing to do and thoughts fly all around inside your head. Some make you think about the future, some remind you of the past. You begin missing someone and then one thing leads to another. This is exactly what happened to me yesterday. I got the day off as it was Mahavir Jayanti. I had absolutely nothing to do all day. I started my day with the mushroom pancake and then sat down to blog about it. I’d made it specifically for the event. So I figured I should blog about it when I have the time and not put it off to when I don’t.

Having done that, I got on the phone and chatted with two women I’ve never met, but would consider myself pretty close to. The first phone call was prompted by something I saw on this girl’s blog. We’ve been chatting online for about 2 months now and apart from the fact that we share the same name, we’ve found that we have so much in common. Since I found one more thing in common (something that you don’t usually notice online), I felt I had to call her. Then I called the next. Both these women have tried to reach out to me when I was extremely busy just to make sure I was OK. I had a really long weekend and I decide to call them both and tell them that I was fine. But I still felt I had to surprise my namesake by showing her what we have in common.

Then Amma called and we chatted for an hour. During that hour, I was transported back to my childhood. We talked about food, my father, my brother, some friends from IIT. That did it. Any talk of IIT Madras gets me extremely nostalgic. I wanted to do something that would make me feel good. Something that would help me get my arms around that imaginary pillow for a feel good hug.

I decided to make nankhatais. My mother makes the best nankhatais that I’ve eaten. She used to make these by the dozen and stack them up at home. I’d never tried to make them. My classmate went to the US a few years ago and then sent me an email asking for the recipe. She said, “Perellam teriyaadu ya, unnnoda Amma dabba dabba va roppi vechiruppa… andha biscuit (I don’t know the name, your mom used to have containers filled with these biscuits.) Amma was shocked when I forwarded that email to her. She said, “I didn’t know that she’d ever eaten them, let alone get nostalgic about them.”

These biscuits call for ghee(clarified butter), something that is always in short supply in our house as I almost never use it. The last time I bought some brand of ghee, it was horrible. That lasted us a year. I bought a much smaller bottle of Britannia ghee. This is really good. Looks, tastes and feels just like home made ghee. I grew up on cow’s milk. So to me, my butter and ghee must be yellow. White just doesn’t make the cut. Since I bought the ghee as recently as three months ago, I had plenty of it.

The recipe also needed powdered sugar. I have bura sugar at home which I always thought was powdered sugar until I tried to bake a cake with it. That cake would probably go down in my “Hall of Shame”. Picture perfect, but horrible tasting. So I decided to powder a little sugar just for this. When I was done powdering the sugar, I couldn’t resist tasting it. That opened the next floodgate of memories. My brother had a classmate whose mother was very close to mine. Their house was on the way back from school for me and so, at times, Amma and I would visit, or I’d even drop in on my own. She would always indulge me. She’d give me freshly made idli or dosa with powdered sugar and for some reason it would taste divine. The same thing at my own place never did taste the same. We lost her a few years ago to cancer. I remember how it took her away, and how she fought it. She was always cheerful. My strongest memory of V Aunty is when she was in remission. I didn’t know then that it was remission. I thought she’d fought cancer and survived. Then she succumbed. She was at the Apollo Cancer hospital right across the street from my office. I’d take lunch for her and for uncle everyday, never knowing, even on the last day, that it would be the last.

It’s funny how all of this is connected and how sometimes everything comes together. I remember when V Aunty and Amma would make batches of nankhatais and V Aunty also suggested making them spicy with chillies and cumin. All these memories came to me yesterday. And I am glad they did. Because, to me, memories are what make life worthwhile.

I made half the original recipe as it was the first time I was making them and they turned out delicious.

¾ cup(generous) Flour
1/8 tsp Cooking Soda
¼ cup Powdered Sugar
1/3 cup (generous) Ghee (Clarified Butter)
¼ tsp Cardamom and Nutmeg (Powdered)

Cream the sugar and the ghee until well blended.
Sift the flour with the soda. Add this to the sugar-ghee mixture. Add the cardamom and nutmeg powders. Make a dough and divide into small balls. Flatten each ball onto a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 180 C.

Allow to cool and dig in.

These cookies are off to Barbara, who is hosting Livestrong with a taste of yellow, for two reasons. They contain yellow ghee and the memories of a dear friend lost to cancer.

This is also one of those recipes that is distinctly Amma – so representative of her love for food, her love for us and of course, of her showing her love through her food. This is off to this month’s JFI, the theme of which is love. In real time, I also shared these cookies with friends. What good is good food if you can't share it with people who've touched your life?

April 18, 2008

Mushroom Pancake

Ever since I started blogging last year, there are a few events that I have tried not to miss. Some new ones have been added and I've tried to keep pace. There are times when I am completely unable to blog. But those months would have entries to 4-5 events, if not anything else. Weekend Breakfast Blogging would be one such event. I have sent in an entry each time this event was hosted. I am a big fan of breakfast and this is an event that celebrates the most important meal of the day.

I tried to make this in the microwave today and I am quite happy with what I got to eat. It has been ages since I cooked in the microwave and this dish reminded me of all the conveniences I was missing out on.

1 Onion, chopped finely
3 pods of Garlic, chopped finely
7-8 Button Mushrooms, sliced
6 Baby Potatoes, sliced
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Parsley
1 tsp Oil
1/4 cup Milk
2 tbsp Flour
1 tbsp Cream of Wheat (Semolina/Rava/Sooji)
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
3 tsp Sour Curd
1/4 tsp Soda
Salt to taste
1 slice Low Fat Cheese, torn into big pieces

Place the oil, garlic and onions in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, paprika, parsley, and salt. Microwave on high for 2 minutes again. Add the mushrooms and microwave on high for 3 minutes.

Blend the milk, cream of wheat, curd, soda and baking powder in a blender. Pour this over the mushroom mixture and mix well. Place the cheese bits over this and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until the mixture sets.

Serve hot with some salsa on the side.

This is my entry to the WBB 21, an event started by Nandita, guest hosted this month by Easy Crafts.

April 13, 2008

Mysore Masala Dosa

This is one post that I've been meaning to make for months together. I just realized that Srivalli's Dosa Mela will come to an end very soon and I'd promised her a simple post. I have been extremely busy and have been neglecting this blog as well as all of yours. I think things will be a little better from the next month onwards.

I am sharing Amma's Mysore Masala Dosa with all of you. It is fairly simple to make once you have all the ingredients. Though it isn't as simple to stop eating even when you're full. Sometimes, I skip the masala and have a Mysore version of my regular dosa.


For the Dosa Batter:

1/2 cup Urad
1 cup Rice (Boiled or Raw)
1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds

Salt to taste

Oil for frying

For the Mysore Red Chutney

6-8 Garlic Pods

4 Red Chillies

1 tbsp Tamarind Paste

Salt to taste

For the
Potato Masala:

4-6 Potatoes, boiled
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Tomato, finely chopped
1 tbsp Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Chilli paste
1/2 tsp Ginger paste
7-8 Curry Leaves
Salt to taste

For the Green Coconut Chutney:

1/3 cup scraped Coconut

3 Green Chillies

1/2 cup Coriander Leaves

1/4 cup Roasted Gram Dal (Pottu Kadalai)

1/2 tsp Ginger Paste

1 tbsp Tamarind Paste

Salt to taste

Wash the urad and rice. Add the fenugreek seeds and soak in plenty of water overnight. (At least 4-5 hours). Wash well and grind using a little water. Add salt and water to dilute it as required. (Don't add too much water as the dosas will not turn out well.)

For the potato masala:

Heat oil in a pressure pan. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves. Add the onions, chilli and ginger pastes, turmeric powder and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato and salt and fry for another minute. Add the boiled potato pieces and a little water and cook for 1-2 whistles.

Prepare the red and green chutneys by grinding the ingredients of each to a fine paste.

Heat a tawa and smear a little oil on it. Simmer the flame and pour a ladleful of the batter in the centre of the tawa. Quickly spread the batter while forming concentric circles (spiral actually!).

Add a little oil on the sides and centre. Usually not more than 1 small spoonful per dosa. When crisp, carefully turn the dosa over and allow the other side to cook a little (this is not done in restaurants, but I prefer to turn my dosas and toast them on both sides).

Turn the dosa back and spread some red chutney over it. Place a little bit of the potato masala on one half and fold the other half over. Serve with chutney,
sambar, or molaga podi or a combination of all these.

I am sure you will enjoy this dish and with that happy thought I'll send this to Srivalli. I did make a special vegetable dosa for this event, but I am unable to find the cable that connects this camera to my laptop. S is in Las Vegas with my usual camera. For this very reason, I am sending a really old recipe to her dosa mela.

Despite the fact that I've not been visiting people's blogs and have been ignoring even my own, three dear friends from the blogosphere presented me with this award. I can't believe it and am truly overwhelmed. Thank you Arundati, Sig and A-Kay. I am touched. And I'm passing this on to each of you who patiently reads through my posts and leaves comments even at times when I am too busy to check and respond. I'll be back in action soon.

Wish you all a very Happy New Year!

April 6, 2008

AFAM Pears Round Up

Here is the round up of the AFAM Pears. This was the first time I hosted an event. And I must admit that I was a little apprehensive. Would I get it right? Would I be able to announce the event on time? Would the event get ample publicity? Would I receive a good number of entries? And last of all, would I publish the round up as planned?

I needn't have worried so much. As given the enthusiasm of everyone I've interacted with in the blogosphere, no event can fail even it wants to. March was my busiest month at work and at home and this round up comes on the last day of the first week (as promised) as I didn't get a chance to even look at my blog as S was severely unwell.

I haven't had a chance to be innovative with the classification of entries and this may be the simplest round up you've seen yet. The 39 entries that the AFAM Pears received


Grilled Pears

Alamelu Rao

Pear Upside Down Cake


Pears in Orange Sauce with Custard


Pear Black Bean Salsa


Pear Koshimbir


Grilled Pear Salad


Pear Chocolate Pie

Dhivya Karthik

Ricotta Cheese Pancakes and Grilled Pears


Pear Walnut Cake

Evolving Tastes

Pear Apple Cranberry Crisp

Happy Cook

Poached Pear Tarts in Chocolate Sauce


Pear Pecan Chutney


Gjetost with Pears


Poached Pears


Melange Appetizers


Pear Swiss Roll


Pear Almond Yogurt Cake


Baked Pear Pudding


Apple Pear Salad with Honey Dressing

Nandita sent us some beautiful pictures and this salad

Shaved Carrot and Pear Salad


Pear Almond Loaf


Pear Salsa


Pear Samosa


Pears Salsa & Pears Murabba


Pear Walnut Salad


Pear Turnovers


Pear and Rum Souffle Omelette


Grilled Pear, Goat Cheese and Walnut Salad


Pear, Apple, Walnut Sludge


Fruit Mocktail Lemonade


Pear Halwa


Pear Crostini


Pear Bhaji

The Cooker

Pear Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Uma Priya

Sweet Pear Fritters

And the three entries from this very blog

Instant Pear Apple Compote

Mixed Fruit Smoothie

Ginger Pear Muffins

Thanks Maheswari for allowing me to host this event. I enjoyed hosting it as much I've enjoyed participating month on month. And thank you all for your support and participation. Happy Yugadi everyone!