October 29, 2008

Pizzaiolos - We Knead To Bake, Then We Toss The Dough: Daring Baker Challenge October 2008

This month’s Daring Baker Challenge is dedicated to Sher of What Did You Eat? She, Glenna of A Fridge Full Of Food and Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums were to have hosted this month’s challenge but Sher passed away of a heart attack on the the 20th of July this year. And Glenna is no more a Daring Baker, for personal reasons.
So Rosa is hosting this challenge with Sher’s recipe idea and it’s a Pizza Party at the Daring Bakers. Welcome one and all.

This month’s recipe is from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and the pizza dough requires an overnight rest in the fridge. We had to stick to the recipe and method for the dough but had freedom to get creative with the sauces and toppings while keeping to the theme of “less is more” and not going overboard with the toppings!
And we had to toss the pizza in true pizzaiolo style!!

The complete recipe for the challenge can be printed here.

My Pizza Making Experience:

I make pizza on and off but had never tried a dough which needed an overnight rest in the fridge. And I have never, ever tossed dough before! But more on that soon.

Making the dough was fine. I halved the recipe to make three 9” pizzas. I just followed the instructions and that was all there was to it. I used my hands to knead the dough because I find pulling off the bread dough from the electric mixer hooks a messy job.

The dough had its mandatory overnight snooze in the fridge. Given the unusually high temperatures here in the past 2 weeks, that ball of dough had a more comfortable night than we did!

We were to have a pizza dinner, so I took out the dough 2 hours earlier, as instructed, and this is where the fun began. I divided the dough into three, pressed out each into a little circle and now had to toss the dough into a pizza.

I had visions of dough sticking to the ceiling, or maybe landing on the floor or even ending up somewhere in between. While this month’s challenge would have entertained us immensely I had a dreadful feeling we would have to go to bed without dinner. Luckily, while we had a good laugh with my daughter doing her best to capture my not so graceful pizza tosses, we didn’t have to go without dinner. But I was just too tired to eat.

By the way, can you see a ghost in my kitchen window? No we don’t live in a haunted apartment. That’s just the pizza dough flying past!!

The Sauce and the Toppings:

I didn’t get very adventurous this time. I just used my home-made Marinara Sauce which I make in large quantities and freeze in small single use portions.

Two pizzas were topped with spring onions, capsicum (green bell peppers), shredded cabbage, sweet corn and paneer (an Indian soft cheese), some mozzarella and dried Italian herbs.

My husband wanted onions, apple, mozzarella and the herbs. So that’s what he got.


The pizzas were good. My husband’s choice of apple and onion was very good with a nice mix of sweet, salty and tangy.

I didn’t find this pizza base all that much better than my usual pizza recipe. I know a lot of fellow DBs thought the texture of this pizza was excellent. It could have been that all that tossing, tearing and getting the dough back into some resemblance of a pizza took its toll on the dough.

I know that I definitely won’t be tossing pizza dough again as I don’t nurse any secret ambitions in this direction.
My daughter and I did enjoy giving tossing dough a try and I couldn’t ask for more than another “savoury” challenge.

The other Daring Bakers have been busy and inventive with sauces and toppings and there are quite a few sweet pizzas out there too. So that’s where you ought to be heading for, until its time for another DB challenge.

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October 26, 2008

Scottish Shortbread

Printable version here.

This month’s choice for “This Book Makes Me Cook”, selected by Rachel, is Enid Blyton’s “The Naughtiest Girl In School. Enid Blyton’s books formed a large part of the books that I cut my “reading” teeth on, so to say. I have read most of her mystery series and used to be envious of the girls who went to Mallory Towers and St. Claire’s and had such exciting lives. Now I look back, it seems like the plot in one book was very much like the next, but back then I had a lot of fun reading them.

The main character in this book, Elizabeth Allen, is a spoilt and naughty girl.
In Chapter 1 “The Naughty Spoilt Girl”, her parents have to go away and her governess, a Miss Scott, has had enough of Elizabeth’s pranks and bad behaviour and refuses to stay any longer. So her parents decide to send her to boarding school where she would be looked after well and hopefully learn to behave better.
And so
 “Elizabeth's things were packed and ready. She had a neat brown trunk, with "E. Allen" painted on it in black. She had a tuck-box too, with a big currant cake inside, a box of chocolate, a tin of toffee, a jam sandwich, and a tin of shortbread.”
The word shortbread caught my attention in particular because my daughter loves it. She likes it so much that she has learnt to make it by herself, from one of my cookie books. So it seemed perfect that since we were reading an Enid Blyton book which Akshaya used to enjoy not too long ago (she now thinks such books are for kids), that she make this shortbread which she so loves and I would post it.

This is how Akshaya makes Scottish Shortbread from my cookie book Cookies: Step-by-step Techniques from Sunset Books.


1 ¼ cups all purpose flour

3 tbsp cornstarch

¼ cup sugar

½ cup cold butter, cut into pieces

Some sugar for sprinkling


In a bowl, stir together the flour, cornstarch and sugar. Rub in the butter pieces, using your fingers, till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Gather this into a ball.

Place this ball in an ungreased 8” or 9” piedish, tart tin/ cake tin with a removable bottom. Press the dough out in the pan, firmly into an even layer. If this is not done, the shortbread will not firm up when baked and will crumble. With the tines of a fork, make decorative impressions around the edge and prick the surface evenly.

Bake at 160C for about 40 minutes or till the shortbread turns a pale golden brow. Do not allow it to brown any more or you will find that the bottom of the shortbread will be burnt!
Remove from the oven and sprinkle the sugar over the short bread. While still very hot, mark the shortbread with a knife into 8 or 12 wedges. Allow to cool completely then remove from the pan and serve with tea.

This recipe makes 8 or 12 wedges, depending on how you cut the shortbread.

This Scottish Shorbread is my submission for this month’s This Book Makes Me Cook. Do take a look at what my fellow bloggers Bhags, Rachel, Siri, Dee, Srimathi, Harini, Shweatha and Simran have been inspired to cook.

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October 23, 2008

Two Tantalizing Dessert Sauces: One Butterscotch, The Other Chocolate

When Rachel of Tangerine’s Kitchen announced that she was guest-hosting Coffee’s Monthly Blog Patrolling and the theme was going to be “Tantalizing Sauces”, I knew what I was sending in.
I had bookmarked two dessert sauces to make at home, and this announcement was the push to get me going.

The first, a Butterscotch Sauce is for them (my husband and our daughter) and the second one, a Chocolate Sauce was for me. I don’t like butterscotch, and they’re not wild about chocolate the way I am. In fact, I overheard Akshaya telling her friend (who doesn’t like chocolate) just a couple of days back, “My mum loves chocolate so much, she even enjoys the bitter kind!”

The Butterscotch Sauce is from Simply Recipes. There’s a step-by-step set of instructions with pictures to ensure you make authentic butterscotch. My daughter says its good and it must be as she considers herself a bit of an authority here.

I saw the Chocolate Sauce at Ellie’s Kitchen Wench, which she had adapted from David Lebovitz’s Best Chocolate Sauce. I decided to follow the master’s recipe.
David Lebovitz says this is his favourite and describes his Chocolate Sauce as

"my 'Little Black Dress" that many women consider their multi-purpose, never-fail-to-impress sexy black number hanging in their closet."
What appealed to me about this sauce, besides the fact it is chocolate, is that it contains neither butter nor cream and is thick and tastes rich.

And both these sauces take very little time to make!

So Rachel, these are for you.

On an aside, I will be away from Goa (and a computer) for a week and will be unable to reply your mails till I get back.

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October 21, 2008

Celebrating One Year of Posts At My Diverse Kitchen!

Guess what? My blog is celebrating its first birthday!
I am finding it difficult to believe that I have been blogging for a year now. I started this blog, exactly a year ago, with no particular plan in mind. For a long time, I had wanted to put together as many recipes as I could from our native Palakkad Iyer style of cooking which is what I mostly cook. And my husband and daughter (she especially) thought I ought to start a blog to share what I cooked in my kitchen. Thus My Diverse Kitchen was born.

It seems unbelievable now, but I didn’t have the faintest idea of what blogging involved. I just had a vague idea about posting some recipes and writing about food. And as far as the technical side of a blog and all things blogging, I didn’t even know that anything like this existed!

If anyone had mentioned terms like HTML and CSS, they would have caught me with my mouth open. I’m still a bit clueless, but I have become somewhat adept at identifying this stuff in my blog and doing the necessary “copy and paste” level of functioning to alter desired features on my blog.

I still remember the thrill and feeling of importance at seeing my first post on my screen, and the elation that someone had discovered my blog and left a comment. The first recipe post I wrote had a grand number of 2 comments, one from Shella and my reply to hers! And last week my blog got a two line claim to fame in the local newspaper. I have to say it felt very good.

Blogging has changed a few things in my life.
I have met (virtually, mostly) a lot of very nice people from across the world and can count on some of them as good friends. I have discovered and cooked a lot of food I might never have before. I have learnt about different styles of cooking and even discovered some vegetables  and foodstuff I never knew existed!

I can now bake some reasonably good bread though I’m far from being an expert. I have also figured out that it is very easy for one to put on weight because of food blogging!!
My camera has become as much a part of my kitchen as my pots and pans. My husband and daughter have got used to the idea of most of their food posing for the camera before reaching their plates!

Many blogs have been celebrating 2nd, 3rd and 4th blog anniversaries and I hope mine will too, some day. But a first birthday is always a bit more special and I think celebrations are in order here.
So I thought I'd celebrate with an event. (I can hear the groans and  “not another one”). I would much rather send you all a piece of cake, but given that this is next to impossible, the only other thing I can think of is an event.

What’s better than celebrating with something sweet? So join me in celebrating at My Diverse Kitchen.
What would you make to serve at an anniversary celebration? Something sinfully delicious? Something sweet for sure and most definitely special. So that’s what I want you to send me for this event.

Now, no birthday celebration is complete without a gift.
So send me your most delicious celebratory fare and my family and some friends will pick out the one out all the entries, which they feel deserves a gift.
While entries are welcome from all over the world, only entries from India, the U.S. or Canada would be eligible for the gift. I am sorry but this is because of my difficulty in dispatching it to other parts of the world.
I would like to announce, after making enquiries, that all entries would be eligible for the gift I promised. I would be happy to ship this to the winner, wherever she/ he lives.

And the gift? Well, that’s going to be a surprise till the round-up. I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun by opening the gift before the party.
But I’ll be nice and give you a clue. It has something to do with food. ;-D

So get creative make, cook or bake something, post it on your blog between today and the 30th of November, 2008 and please link back to this post.
Then e-mail me at mdk[DOT]aparna[AT]gmail[DOT]com with the following details. Please note the e-mail id is not my usual one.

Your name:

Your location:

The name of your blog:

The name of your sweet/ dessert:

The link/ url to your post:

And a 300 pixel wide picture of your dish (if possible).

If you do not receive an acknowledgement of your mail within 3 days of sending it in (unless I am away), please leave a comment at this post and I will get back to you.
This request is especially for all those silent readers of my blog. If you do not have a blog and would like to participate you are most welcome. In fact, I hope you will join me in these celebrations.

Just send me an e-mail with your recipe and write-up and a picture (if possible) and I would be happy to post it for you.

Please note that the last date for submission is the 30th November, 2008. I will announce the prize and the winner within the following week. Looking forward to your participation.

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October 20, 2008

Sopa de Feijao Branca e Legumes (Black Eyed Bean and Vegetable Soup)

Printable version here.

Soups are really not on my list of favourite foods. My husband and daughter, unlike me, love soup. When we eat out, they usually start dinner with a soup whereas the soup invariably ends up being my dinner. Soup fills me up so well, there’s never any space in my stomach for anything that follows.
When we are in the mood for a light dinner I tend to make heartier soups that would be a meal in themselves. This soup made it to our dinner table, one night last week, with home-made dinner rolls.

This soup is my version of a Portuguese soup that goes by this name. Soup, along with bread, is a very popular food in Portugal and their cuisine features quite a variety of soups. However, there is very little choice for a vegetarian, as most of their soups include meat. Even the soups made with vegetables would invariably have chorizo (pork sausage).
This soup is vegetarian.


1 tsp oil (or butter)

1 big onion, finely chopped

½ tsp garlic paste

2 bay leaves

4 cups water (or vegetable stock)

1 cup cooked black eyed beans

1 vegetarian stock cube (leave this out if using stock)

2 medium potatoes, cubed

2 medium carrots, cut into rounds

¼ cup thinly sliced cabbage

¼ cup sliced beans

3 tbsp tomato paste/ puree (I used

2 tbsp marinara sauce + 1 tbsp ketchup)

1 tsp chilli powder (or crushed black pepper)

salt to taste


Heat the oil, add the bay leaves and garlic paste. Stir a couple of times and add the onions. Saute till soft and add the 4 cups of water and stock cube (or stock). Bring to a boil. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Cover the pan and turn down the heat to low.

Let the soup simmer, for about 20 to 30 minutes, till the vegetables have cooked and the soup has reduced a bit in quantity.
Pour into bowls and serve hot with bread.

This recipe serves 4.

This soup goes to Sra of When My Soup Came Alive who is hosting Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook's event, My Legume Love Affair: Fourth Edition .
It also goes to No Croutons Required: Hearty Vegetarian Soups hosted by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen.

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October 18, 2008

Spiced Pear Galette

Printable version here.

A galette is a French term for flat round cakes, either sweet or savoury, made from flaky pastry, yeast dough or unleavened dough. The nice thing about galettes is that the crust doesn’t need any special shaping and is just folded around the filling. This gives the galette a rustic and homely look.

It is the season for the Indian variety of pears here. Most of the time, when I do see pears at the market, it seems to the yellow skinned and soft variety from China. I prefer the smaller green skinned crunchy variety (from Kashmir or Himachal Pradesh, I think) which have a slightly grainy texture and are juicy and sweet.

I have used these pears in this galette. Working with this recipe from Recipezaar, I made a crust using oil, while I tweaked the filling a bit, using a lot more spices to make an absolutely delicious galette.


For the crust:

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

2 tbsp sugar

¼ tsp salt

5 tbsp oil (preferably olive oil)

2 to 3 tbsp cold water

For the filling:

6 small pears, cored, peeled and sliced

1 tsp lemon juice

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp powdered ginger

½ tsp freshly crushed black pepper

¼ tsp powdered nutmeg

½ tsp powdered star anise

2 tbsp brown sugar (adjust according to sweetness of pears)

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp flour

For glazing:

2 tbsp apricot jam

1 tbsp water


For the crust:

I used the food processor but you may do this by hand too. I also find that keeping the flour and the oil in the fridge to chill before using them to make the dough helps.
Pulse the flour, sugar, salt and oil a couple of times it it resembles bread crumbs. Add the water one tbsp at a time and pulse a couple of times. If doing this by hand, make sure you handle the dough to the minimum possible and do not knead the dough.
Put his crumbly looking dough onto your work surface and bring together, with your hands, to form a ball. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate it for about an hour.
Make the filling during this time.

For the filling:

I used an Indian variety of pears which are very crunchy and these need cooking. If you are using a softer variety of pears, the pears do not require cooking. In this case, just mix all the ingredients for the filling together and use.

This is how I made my filling.
Put the sliced pears in a pan with a tbsp of water and all the other ingredients except the flour. Cook till the sugar melts, everything is well blended and the pears are a bit soft. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Putting the galette together:

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll the dough between two sheets of parchment or lightly greased aluminium foil, into a circle about ¼” thick.
Slowly peel off the parchment or foil and place the dough circle on a baking sheet.

Mix the flour into the cooled filling and place this filling in the centre of the dough circle, spreading it out a little leaving 2” free at the edge. Pull up the dough and loosely fold the edges around the filling leaving the middle open.
Bake at 190C for about 40 minutes till the crust is golden brown.

Melt the apricot jam and water to form a glaze. Brush over the hot fruit filling.
Serve warm or cold.
This recipe serves 6.

This Spiced Pear Galette goes to the following events:

Sweet Vegan which is hosted by Vaishali of Holy Cow!

FIC: Brown hosted by Harini, the Sunshinemom at Tongue Ticklers.

Sweet Pies hosted by Ivy at Kopiaste.

SHF – Spice Up Your Life  hosted by Anita of Dessert First.

The Norishing Fall Recipe Carnival at The Nourishing Gourmet and 

Fresh Produce Of The Month: Pears At An Italian in the U.S.

I am probably not being fair to these bloggers who are hosting the above events by sending them the same recipe post. It was only when I was writing up this post that I realised that galette seemed the perfect fit for all the events, and I just couldn't resist sending my galette to all of them. :)

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October 16, 2008

Savoury & Spiced Caramelised Onion, Red Pepper and Paneer Rolls

I have been seeing a lot of cinnamon rolls on various blogs in the past year or so and have always wondered how it would be if I made some similar rolls with a savoury filling instead. This thought finally became reality when I decided to try making them in time to post for World Bread Day 2008.

The recipe for the dough is adapted from the Yeasted Breakfast Bread Dough in my Tassajara Bread Book. I used this dough because it is less rich compared to the dough usually used for cinnamon rolls. I made some adjustments to the dough recipe and made it egg-free as well.

I guess the tweaking of the recipe is fine as the author of the book, Edward Espe Brown, himself says,
"Recipes do not belong to anyone -- given to me, I give them to you. Recipes are only a guide, a skeletal framework, to be fleshed out according to your nature and desire. Your life, your love, will bring these recipes into full creation (p. vi)."

For the filling, I used caramelised onions, red bell peppers, spring onions and crumbled home-made paneer (from 3% fat milk).

These savoury rolls are soft and light and great to serve as a snack, appetizer (if you make them slightly smaller), or with soup for a light dinner. Here’s the way I made them.
Savoury & Spiced Caramelised Onion, Red Pepper and Paneer Rolls

(Adapted from the Tassajara Bread Book)


For the dough:


1 cup lukewarm water

11/2 tsp active dry yeast

2 tbsp honey

1/3 cup powdered milk

1 tsp ground flax seeds in 1 tbsp water (or an egg)

11/2 cups all-purposeflour


3 tbsp oil (you could use melted butter)

11/4 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 1/2 tsp roasted and crushed cumin seeds

1 tsp freshly crushed black pepper (or more, if you like)

1 cup all purpose flour

About 1/2 cup or so more flour for kneading

For the filling:

1 ½ cups chopped onions

1/2 cup chopped spring onion greens and whites

3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 tsp oil

1 1/2 cups crumbled paneer

1 tsp red chilli flakes (or according to taste)

1 tsp mixed Italian herbs

1/4 tsp salt



In a bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and honey. Add the honey, milk powder and flax seed+water (or egg). Mix well. Add the whole wheat flour and mix into a batter and beat well (Brown says 100 strokes!).
Cover and keep aside for about 30 minutes for it to rise.

Add the oil, crushed cumin, black pepper and salt to the risen batter and fold in. Also add the 1 cup of flour or more as required, and knead till the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 5 to 10 minutes using just enough flour to get a smooth dough which doesn’t tear easily. The dough should be reasonably soft but not sticky. Cover and keep aside, allowing to rise for about 40 minutes.

During this time, heat the 1 tsp oil and sauté the chopped onions till they turn soft and light brown/ caramelise. Add the chopped red pepper spring onion, after adding the salt and chilli flakes and saute for another 30 seconds or so. Now add the herbs and mix well. Allow to cool.


After the dough has risen, roll it out on a floured surface into a rectangle (approximately 18" by 11") that is about ¼” thick. Do not roll it thinner. Place the dough rectangle such that the longer sides face you.
Spread the cooled filling evenly over the dough right up to the shoter edges of the rectangle. Then sprinkle the crumbled paneer over this and then the spring onion greens and whites as well over the paneer, on the edges of the longer sides.

Using your finger dipped in water wet the longer edge of the dough away from you. Slowly roll the dough rectangle as tightly as you can, keeping the filling in (jelly roll style), from the edge of the rectangle closest to you. The wet edge will help seal the roll.

With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 12 equal pieces, about 1 1/2" wide. I found it easier to divide the dough into two halves and make two smaller rolls, cutting each into 6 pieces. Place the rolls, cut side up, in a greased rectangular baking. If the rolls are a little close together, when the rise, they will expand upwards rather than outwards. 
Cover and let them rise for about 20 minutes.

Brush lightly with milk and bake at 190C for 30 minutes or so, until they're done and the golden brown in colour.
Serve warm. This recipe makes 12 rolls.

These rolls go to the World Bread Day being hosted by Zorra at 1x umrühren bitte.
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October 14, 2008

Subzi Dal (Mixed Vegetables In A Yellow Lentil Gravy)

Printable version here.

I saw this Subzi Dal featured in some magazine quite a while back. I have an idea I must have come across it while waiting to see the doctor or dentist or some such place because I never did write it down. All I remember is the name and that it was made with cooked lentils and some vegetables, and it seemed to me a perfect idea to combine both in one dish instead of cooking the two separately.

So using the idea, I have come up with my own recipe for this using ingredients and quantities to suit our tastes. While I have used yellow lentils (tuvar dal) here this can also be made with split moong lentils (moong dal) or split puy lentils (masoor dal).

So whenever I need cook up something wholesome but quickly for dinner, to serve along with chappathis, this tends to be one of my choices. I usually cook dal in a slightly larger quantity than required, and then freeze the rest in 3 or 4 single use portions. This way I usually always have dal to use.


1 ½ cups cooked yellow lentils (tuvar dal)

1 ½ cups mixed vegetables

(cauliflower florets, thinly sliced green beans, finely diced carrots,

green peas, sweet corn)

1 big onion, thinly sliced

1” piece ginger, cut into julienne

1 tomato, chopped into small pieces (optional)

1½ tsp oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp aniseed/ saunf (optional)

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

¼ tsp asafetida powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

2 green chillies, slit lengthwise

1 tsp powdered jaggery (optional)

1 tsp lemon juice

salt to taste

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves for garnishing


Steam cook or microwave the mixed vegetables at 100% for about 4 minutes, till they’re just cooked and still firm. Mash the yellow lentil well and keep both aside.

In a pan, heat the oil and add the cumin, aniseed/ saunf (if using) and fenugreek seeds. Stir a couple of times and add the asafetida powder. Stir once (do not allow to burn) and add the ginger julienne and sliced onion. Sauté till the onion is soft.

Add the steamed vegetables and the mashed lentils. Add a cup (or a little more if you think you need to) of water, the turmeric powder, green chillies, tomatoes (if using, I didn’t) and the salt. Mix well and bring to a boil. Then simmer the mixture for about 5 minutes till the vegetable-lentil mixture is well blended and a bit thick in consistency. If you are using jaggery, then add it at this point.

Take the dal off the heat. Add the lemon juice, mix well and garnish with the chopped coriander. Serve warm with chappathis, parathas, naan or rice.

This Subzi Dal is my submission for Yellow and Orange which is the theme for October at The Heart Of The Matter.

Now to a couple of other blog related matters. Thank you very much Curry Leaf, for thinking my blog to be cool and giving it the Butterfly Award.

Rachel and I have Italy in our Ovens this time with Apricot Pistachio Biscotti. Do step across and take a look.

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October 12, 2008

Pachcha Mathan Erisseri (Spicy Pumpkin With Toasted Coconut)

Erisseri is a vegetable preparation from Kerala, without which a “sadya” (traditional feast) is incomplete. Erisseri, also an intrinsic part of Palakkad Iyer cuisine, features often as a part of the daily meal and is served as a side dish along with rice. The addition of toasted coconut, as the final step of cooking, gives the Erisseri its unique flavour and taste.

Here I have used the variety of pumpkin called pachcha mathan (green pumpkin), which is generally used to make Mathan Erisseri. In Kerala, and some other states of India, we get two varieties of pumpkin. One, which we call “Mathan”, is the typically yellow/ orange on the outside with a somewhat ribbed skin and a deeper orange on the inside. This is the kind one sees being carved for Halloween.

The other, which we call “Pachcha Mathan” is also the same shape and ridged but the outer skin is a mottled green and light yellow/ creamish colour while it is a pale orange/ yellow on the inside. This variety of pumpkin is tastier when cooked and I happened to come across it in the market here.

Erisseri can be made with various vegetables, depending on what is available seasonally, such as idichakkai (bread fruit), chakkai (raw jackfruit), chenai (elephant yam), mathan (pumpkin), vazhakkai (raw plantains), to mention some.
Pachcha Mathan Erisseri

1/4 kg pachcha mathan (pumpkin which is a mottled green and yellow on the outside)

1/2 cup fresh grated coconut (for grinding)

1/4 cup fresh grated coconut (for toasting/ roasting)

1 - 2 dry red chillies

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

salt to taste

1 sprig curry leaves

1 1/2 tsp coconut oil

1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 1/2 tsp black gram lentils (urad dal)


First prepare the spice-coconut paste. Grind together ½ cup coconut, cumin seeds and red chillies, adding just enough water, to a fine paste. Keep aside.

Peel and cut the pumpkin into roughly ¾” by ¾” cubes. Put these in a pan, adding a cup of water, turmeric powder and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer till the pumpkin is cooked and very little water remains.
Now add the spice-coconut paste, mix and simmer for a couple of minutes. Take off the heat.

Heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and when they splutter add the lentil and brown. Then turn off the heat and add the curry leaves. Stir and pour over the cooked pumpkin.
In another pan, toast (without oil) the ¼ cup grated coconut, stirring constantly, till it turns brown. Take care to see it does not burn. Add this to the Erisseri.

Stir lightly just before serving. Serve warm. This recipe serves 3 to 4 and is served as an accompaniment to rice and sambhar or rasam.

This Erisseri goes to AFAM (a Fruit A Month) being hosted this month at Madhuram’s Eggless Cooking.

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October 8, 2008

Dill, Onion And Paneer Rolls

Printable version here.

I made these rolls quite some time back, only because my “bhajiwaali” (my regular vegetable lady who brings fresh vegetables in a basket on her head) persuaded me to buy some dill. I decided to err on the side of caution, not knowing how to cook it or how it might taste, and bought a small bunch.
Dill is unknown in the part of India that I come from (at least, I’ve never seen or heard of it). But it is quite common here in Goa and known as “shepu bhaaji”. I also know that it is a part of cuisines in some states of India.

Not knowing quite what to do with the dill, I searched the internet, and it seemed a great idea to bake the dill in some bread. Dill bread seems to be a Swedish bread (called Dillbröd) and most recipes require using either cottage cheese or cream cheese and egg. Both cheeses are not available here, so I used home-made paneer and left the egg out. This recipe is what I came up with, based on the many recipes I found on the internet. The rolls are very soft and tasty. If you like dill, then these rolls are definitely a must. We didn’t quite like the taste/ flavour of dill (I guess it’s an acquired thing) so I made them again without the dill and we loved it. They're also very easy to make.


1 ½ tsp dry active yeast

½ cup warm milk

1 tbsp honey

1 cups all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp oat bran

½ tsp salt

½ cup paneer, crumbled

2 tbsp dill, chopped

melted butter for brushing (optional)


Add the yeast and honey to the milk, stir well and allow the yeast to proof.
Put all the remaining ingredients into the food processor and the yeast mixture and process, adding water if necessary, till a soft, smooth and elastic dough is obtained. This can be done by hand, if you prefer.

Take the dough out of the processor bowl and knead a couple of times, by hand. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise till double in volume.

Gently deflate the dough and divide into 6. Shape each into a roll and place on a greased baking sheet. Allow to rise a little, for about 20 minutes.
Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or till the rolls have browned. Brush with melted butter and allow to cool.

Serve with soup.

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October 5, 2008

Varatharaitcha Vendakkai Sambhar (Okra in a Spiced Lentil and Coconut Gravy)

ambhar is one of those very well known south Indian preparations that has crossed all state boundaries. Idlis or dosas are never quite complete without the Sambhar.
I’m sure there are very few Indians who haven’t heard of or tasted Sambhar. For those of us to whom this is something new, a Sambhar is a “curry” made of one or more vegetables cooked in tamarind water to which cooked yellow lentils and a spicy coconut paste are added.

Vegetables (one or a combination of two or more) typically used to make sambhar are okra (ladies’ finger/ vendakkai), drumsticks (murungakkai), eggplant (katthirikkai), pumpkin (mathan), ash gourd (elavan), shallots (chinna vengayam), tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, to name some. While the rest of the method of preparation remains the same, the tatse of the Sambhar would vary with the vegetables used to make it.

I usually use a single type of vegetable to make this particular type of Sambhar, at any given time, as we prefer it this way. If you can find drumsticks, chop one up into 1 1/2" long pieces and cook it with the okra. Drumsticks give sambhar unbelievably awesome flavour extra.
I do sometimes add tomatoes as well for added taste. If using tomatoes, add them to the sambhar right at the end, just before adding the coconut paste. Otherwise they will cook too long and turn mushy.

Sambhar is frequently prepared and served in Palakkad Iyer homes. It is usually eaten mixed with rice, along with a dry vegetable preparation on the side, as the first part of the main meal. Of course, it also accompanies idli,dosai and sometimes vadai (deep-fried savoury black gram lentil snacks).

The “Varatha” in the first word of this post title means “fried” and Araitcha” means “ground to a paste”. This refers to the spices and coconut, which are fried/ roasted in very little oil and ground to a paste that is added while making this Sambhar.

Broadly speaking, we make two types of sambhars. One is the subject of today’s post and the other one is Podi Potta Sambhar, which is made using Sambhar powder (or podi).
In some homes, the coconut for this sambhar is not fried/ roasted before grinding it to a paste with the spices. My version does.
Varatharaitcha Vendakkai Sambhar (Okra in a Spiced Lentil and Coconut Gravy)


200gm okra (ladies’ finger/ vendakkai)

2 meduim tomatoes, quartered (optional)

3/4 cup cooked and mushy yellow lentils (tuvar dal)

tamarind, the size of a big marble

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 big sprig of curry leaves

1 tsp powdered jaggery (optional)

salt to taste

2 tsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 1/2 tsp (urad dal)

For the paste:

1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 1/2 tsp Bengal gram (chana dal)

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

3 dried red chillies (adjust to your desired levels of spice)

1/4 tsp asafetida powder

3/4 cup fresh grated coconut

1 tsp oil


Soak the tamarind in one and half cups of warm water for about 15 minutes. Using your fingers, squeeze out and strain the tamarind pulp and keep aside.

Then prepare the paste.
For this, heat the 1 tsp oil, turn down the heat to medium, and then add the coriander seeds and Bengal gram. Roast them for about a minute or till the Bengal gram turns golden. Remove this onto a plate.

Now add the fenugreek seeds (take care as these brown very quickly) and the red chillies to whatever oil is remaining. Stir once or twice and as the fenugreek seeds start turning brown, add the asafetida powder, stir once and remove to onto the plate.

Put the coconut into the same pan and roast, stirring constantly, till it turns golden to reddish brown, taking care not to burn it. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
Grind the coconut and the roasted spices into a fine paste, adding as much water as is necessary. Keep aside.


Cut the top and tail off the okra and cut them into 1 1/2 “ long pieces. In a deep pan, heat 1 tsp of the oil and add the okra pieces to it. Stir fry the okra, over medium heat, for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tamarind pulp/ water, salt, curry leaves and turmeric powder. Bring to a boil, and then simmer till the okra is cooked. Then add the tomatoes and let them cook for about 5 minutes or so.

Now slightly mash the cooked lentils with a spoon and add to the above mixture. Mix well and allow to boil for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut-spice paste and the jaggery if using. Many people do not add the jaggery, but I remember my maternal grandmother adding a little bit of jaggery to all preparations made with tamarind. I find this practice adds to the flavour of the preparation without giving it a sweet taste.

Again, mix well till everything is well blended. If the Sambhar is too thick, add a little water to adjust the consistency. Sambhar should be the consistency of a slightly thick gravy. Allow to come to a boil and take it off the heat simmering for a couple of minutes.
In a small pan, heat the remaining 1 tsp oil and add the mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add the black gram dal. Stir till it starts turning golden. Pour this into the Sambhar. This is the tempering.
Stir only when ready to serve. Serve hot. This recipe should comfortably serve 4.

On a different note:

Nags of Edible Garden had announced a movie theme based event on her blog in last month. The first ten submissions to her event were to win two free tickets to the Hindi movie, Saas, Bahu Aur Sensex.
It so happened that I had sent in an Olan and actually made it somewhere (in the blog world) early! I am a bit particular about punctuality in real life, though. And I won two tickets to watch the movie.
Thanks, Nags.

I got a mail on a Friday afternoon telling me that I had two tickets to watch the movie at 2.00pm the next afternoon! They were not willing to let me postpone watching the movie to Sunday afternoon. So after quite a bit of juggling, as Saturdays are half days at work and school in Goa, we managed to make it to the theatre with 5 minutes to spare.

Now we had heard rather sad reviews about the movie, but we did have “free” tickets and we hoped that with Faroque Sheikh (who was excellent, by the way) acting in it, the movie would be watchable.
Frankly, it was not worth it. The theatre with a seating capacity of 300 had about 15 of us watching it! So I guess I needn’t say anything more. And it was sad to see the few very good actors who were in it totally wasted on the movie. I thought Warner Brothers would have better sense than to invest in something like this, let alone choose this to be their vehicle into Bollywood.

My blog was given two more awards by fellow bloggers, Ivy of Kopiaste passed on a Brilliant Weblog and Preeti of My Kitchen Stories gave me a Good Job Award. They are displayed on my page for badges. I’m sorry I took a little while to acknowledge them and thanks to both of you.

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October 3, 2008

WBB: Grains in my Breakfast - The Round-up

Every food event in blogosphere is incomplete without a round-up. So may I present to you all the round-up to Nandita’s Weekend Breakfast Blogging which I guest hosted in September?
It wasn’t easy picking a theme, because everytime I would come up with a fantastic idea, I would find that a previous host had announced it. So I finally came up with this theme, announced it and then found that Suganya of Tasty Palettes had just announced Whole grain as her theme for JFI. Well, I guess great minds do think alike. :D

This round-up features 51 (and one of mine) wonderful healthy and tasty recipes cooked for breakfast in kitchens across the world. Most of them are easy enough to make so do try them out and add variety to your breakfast. These breakfast recipes have not been presented in any particular order.

Nandita of Saffron Trail (Mumbai, India) and the brain behind this event sent in some Poha Idlis. This recipe is her secret to white, soft and fluffy idlis. Unfortunately, she couldn't find the pictures she had taken of her idlis and promises to update her post with new pictures the next time she makes them.

Jayasree of Experiments In Kailas Kitchen (Kerala, India) cooked up some spicy and crisp Corn Methi Adai which she likes with powdered jaggery. She has been experimenting, successfully, by replacing wheat and rice with cornmeal in many traditional dishes.

Mansi from Fun & Food Café (California, U.S.) cooked up some Wholegrain Blueberry Pancakes. Her best pancakes ever, these are full of the goodness of whole grain and fruit. As Mansi herself asks, “What could be more healthy, tasty and beautiful at the same time?”

Srimathi (Foody Guru) of Few Minute Wonders (San Diego, California) baked some Breakfast Cupcakes (Eggless Whole Wheat Banana Dry Fruit Muffin). She had some very ripe bananas and planned to use them in banana bread, but later decided to make some healthy egg free and nut free cupcake/ muffins instead.

Siri from Siri’s Corner (Washington DC, U.S.) made Sun-Dried Tomato Couscous. Cous cous is what Siri turns to when she wants an easily made, healthy and tasty meal whether for breakfast, brunch or dinner.

Meera from Enjoy Indian Food (U.S.) made some Quinoa Appe. These spicy grain and lentil pan fried dumplings are one of the many ways Meera uses quinoa in her cooking.

Meera also cooked up some Millet Chi Usal. She adapted her grandmother’s recipe which uses Jowar but substituted sprouted millet in this recipe.

Ivy from Kopiaste (Athens, Greece) turned Quinoa into a Fruit Salad for breakfast. She turns some yogurt, honey, fruits and this grain into a most unusual fruit salad.

Mints of Vadani Kaval Gheta (U.S.) made some egg-free Carrot Pancakes which she enjoys with maple syrup and fruit.

EC of Simple Indian Food (India) made Ragi Oatmeal Soya Dosas which are not only chock full of fibre but soft, tasty and very easy to make.

Soma of eCurry (Plano, Texas, U.S.) baked a Vegetable and Fruit Wholegrain Bread. Her bread is full of wholesome goodness from the wholegrain, vegetables, fruit and nuts in it.

PJ of Seduce Your Tastebuds (moving to China) made Puttu and Kadala Curry. This happens to be one of her favourite breakfasts and if she can’t make it at home, she orders it from a restaurant.

PJ also sent in a Ragi Porridge (Infant Food) which is her little one’s breakfast. Also called finger millet, Ragi made into porridge is an extremely nutritious food for weaning babies.

Shellyfish of Musings From The Fishbowl (France) cooked up a Multigrain Porridge. One of her standard multigrain breakfasts, she equates this porridge with “soft and fuzzy flannel pajama pants - not terribly sexy, but comfortable, cosy and familiar”.

Susan of Food Blogga (San Diego, California, U.S.) baked some Healthy Muffins. Like Susan says, “healthy muffins are usually bland, rubbery, or dry” but not these ones. On the third take, she came up with the perfect recipe for healthy and tasty muffins.

Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf (New Jersey, U.S.) made some Wholewheat Bagels which she serves for breakfast with cream cheese or honey or her favourite pizza bagel.

Arundati of Escapades (Hyderabad, India) made some Whole Wheat Flour Pancakes. Her delightfully fluffy pancakes are absolutely egg-free.

Bee and Jai of Jugalbandi (North Western U.S.) baked a 100% Whole Grain Sourdough Rye Meteil. This bread, their first sourdough experiment, is a 40% whole rye and wholewheat bread delicately flavoured with onion and caraway.

Supriya of Queen of my Kitchen (U.S.) made Adai. She serves these savoury rice and lentil pancakes with tomato carrot chutney and zuke-a-mole.

Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey? (Weimar, Germany) made some Vegetable Millet Cakes. She used whole millet and vegetables to make these little pancake-like cakes for which she has plenty of serving suggestions depending on which meal of the day you plan to make them for.

Rupa of A Virtual Vegetarian (California, U.S.) made some Keenwah Khichadi. She replaced the sabudhana in Sabudhana khichadi with quinoa to come up with this mildly nutty flavoured breakfast.

Manuela of Baking History (Massachusetts, USA) baked a Prune and Walnut Whole-Wheat Loaf. This loaf is one her favourites for breakfast, spread with fresh cream cheese accompanied by a cup of strong black tea.

Alka of Sindhi Rasoi (Mumbai, India) made some Juar Do Dodo. This is a nutty flavoured Indian flatbread made from the flour of Jowar which is a sorghum-like grain.

Divya Kannan of …And A Little Bit More… (Washington, U.S.) has sent in three entries.
The first one is a Roasted Garlic Challah Bread. This challah contains no eggs as they’ve been replaced with flax seeds.

The next one is a Wholesome Bread Upma with Anaheim Chillies. Here she presents an Indian Upma with a fiery Mexican twist.

And the third submission is some Oats Dosai. These savoury Indian pancakes made of oats are crisp and full of flavour.

Arundathi of My Food Blog (India) baked a Whole Wheat Bread with Za’atar. Since she was baking a 100% whole grain bread for the first time she decided to keep it simple but spiced it up with Za’atar.

Priti of Indian Khana made some Dosas and Chutney. She serves this all time south Indian favourite with some chutney and ginger pickle.

She also served up some Wholegrain Pancakes. She had planned to make a Banana Bread when a recipe she had seen earlier made her change her mind and make these tasty pancakes.

Divya Vikram from Dil Se (Los Angeles, California, U.S.) made Methi Theplas. These are Gujrathi flatbreads with Fenugreek leaves and quite easy to make.

She also sent in some Whole Wheat Pancakes Without Eggs. As the name suggests these egg-free pancakes are fluffy and lightly sweetened with jaggery.

Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs made Banana-Berry Breakfast Cakes. Faced with the prospect of a half tub of strawberry yogurt sitting in her fridge, Ricki decided to revisit her childhood Sunday brunch memories with her vegan fruit pancakes.

Karuna of Foodie By Nature (San Diego, California, U.S.) made a “Desi” French Toast. She gave this regular French Toast and Indian twist by spicing it up.

Monika of Monika’s World and Thoughts (Bangalore, India) made Multigrain Chilla for Sunday breakfast. The secret ingredient in these chillas is in the multi grain powder she makes at home.

Mythreyee of Paajaka (Cupertino, California, U.S.) made some Oats Adai with Cauliflower and Broccoli. She created this recipe for a cooking competition to make a healthy, yet easy to make south Indian breakfast.

Kamalika of Janaki Patti’s Kitchen (Chennai, Tamilnadu, India) made Adai. She serves this savoury lentil and rice pancake with Aviyal or Coconut chutney or jaggery.

Sujatha of Spicy Khazana (Chicago, Illinois, U.S.) cooked up some Rava Pongal. Pongal is usually made with rice, bur Sujatha substituted it with rava to make a delicious Sunday breakfast.

Geeta of PaytPooja (U.S.) made some Dalia/ Broken Wheat Upma. An extremely nutritious meal, this can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

Apu of Annarasa (U.S.) baked some Chewy Muesli Bars. These bars are a nice combination of oats, raisins and nuts and also make for a great snack to carry along when on the move.

Nate n Annie of Chez Annies (California, U.S.) sent in some Steel Cut Oatmeal with Craisins, Raisins, Slivered Almonds and Buttermilk. This, with the added fibre of flax seeds and sweetened with agave syrup, is their perfect breakfast.

Lakshmi of Kitchen Chronicles (Germany) made some Instant Bulgur Rava Idlis. A favourite at breakfast with her family, Lakshmi serves these idlis with chutney or sambhar.

She also sent in some Power Cereal. This is a nutritious home-made cereal which is very filling and especially good for children.

She also made some Nutrition Powered Oats Dosas. These thin savoury and spicy pancakes are made from oats and served with oinion chutney and sambhar.

Cham of Spice Club (California, U.S.) a Vietnamese Crepe/ Bahn Xeo. This crepe, normally non-vegetarian, is made in a vegetarian version by Cham and she serves it with Nuoc Cham sauce.

Srivalli of Cooking 4 All Seasons (Chennai, India) cooked up Bansi Rava/ Samba Godumai Upma. Srivalli’s version of this south Indian breakfast is full of vegetables and she has added her own special touch to it with some spice and nuts.

Sireesha of Mom’s Recipes (Paris, France) made some Wheat Rava Upma. Normally made with Semolina, her version contains much less oil and is very filling too.

Mahimaa of Indian Vegetarian Kitchen (Los Angeles, California, U.S.) made a Bread Upma. She made this very simple yet tasty breakfast using multigrain whole-wheat bread.

Geeta of The Fragrant Kitchen (Los Angeles, U.S.) made some Ragi Adai/ Finger Millet Patty. Geeta used a recipe her mother gave her and added some more ingredients to make these steam cooked patties her own creation.

Priya of Priya's Easy N Tasty Treats (Paris, France) made Ragi Idlis. These idlis, served with Coconut chutney or Karaikuzhambu, are made from finger millet flour and especially rich in calcium.
Preeti of My Kitchen Stories (Hamburg, Germany) baked a Whole Wheat Bread. Her bread was soft with a hard crust and apart from having it with a variety of cheeese and jam, she also made some corn-potato pattie sandwiches.
Sukanya of Sukanya's Musings (Singapore) made some Samba Rawa Uppuma/ Kichadi. This very nutritious breakfast made with broken wheat and vegetables is perfect for diabetics.
And the last submission to to this round-up is my Puttu With Cherupayarukari, a traditional and popular breakfast dish from Kerala.

Thank you all for participating and making Nandita's event such a success.

I would also take this opportunity to apologise to all of you who have been caused some trouble because of the mistake I made in typing out my e-mail id in the WBB announcement. As a result of this a lot of the WBB e-mails you sent me have gone to someone else, who must be confused at all the delicious food pictures and details flooding her inbox!

I have collected all the submissions that showed up in the links to my blog, but I have a feeling there are still a few I am missing. If you have sent me a WBB submission, and it is not featured here, may I request you to please leave a comment here? I shall add your entry to this round-up at the earliest.

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