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Chocolate & Vanilla Marble Cake

>> August 31, 2010

From the very first time I tasted a marble cake, the design has intrigued me. When I learnt how it is done, it seemed quite simple. I prepare the cake both in convection as well as microwave mode. If baked in microwave, the cake does not have crust on the side, but tastes the same and has the same design.

the recipe

flour – ¾ cup (approximately 15 tbsp)
castor sugar –  ½ cup or 12-14 tbsp
baking powder – 1 tsp
vanilla extract – 1 tsp
eggs – 3 (at room temperature)
butter – 75 gms (at room temperature)

cocoa powder – 1 ½ tbsp
milk – ¼ cup

the method

Sift together the flour and baking powder three times.

Preheat oven at 180oC. 

Prepare a cake tin – apply butter and then sprinkle flour – dust off excess flour (keep the tin in a refrigerator so that the butter doesn’t melt away)

cake mixing

Place the butter in a slightly deep bowl. Use a fork or electric beater and soften the butter. Add the castor sugar 1 tbsp spoon at a time and continue whisking till the mixture doubles in volume. Add the eggs one by one, whisking one minute per egg. When all three eggs are added whisk for another 5 minutes at high speed. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.

Add the flour 2 tbsp at a time and mix with a wooden spatula. When the flour is thoroughly mixed, divide it into two portions.

Mix the cocoa powder in ¼ cup milk. Add the mixture to one portion of the cake mixture and mix well.

Use two slightly big spoon - one for the vanilla mix and one for the chocolate.

Place one spoon of vanilla mix in the middle of the cake tin (don’t flatten). Then place one spoon of the chocolate mix on the vanilla. Again place the vanilla mix. Repeat the process alternatively till both the mix is placed in the middle of the cake tin. Using the back side of the spatula or the pointing finger, dig into the middle of the chocolate and vanilla cake mix and make swirls with some gap till the end of the tin. The cake mix would have evenly spread. Pat the sides of the tin to get rid of air bubbles. Bake it in the pre heated oven for 22 – 25 minutes. Once the top has formed crust use an aluminium foil or aluminium plate to cover the tin to prevent burning.


French Onion Soup

>> August 27, 2010

You need not have a French onion to prepare this soup…..it can be prepared from the usually variety.

It is a hot soup with lots of pepper which is balanced with the caramelised onions. The basis recipe is prepared with beef broth, but it tastes with chicken or vegetable stock.



>> August 22, 2010

Erissery can be prepared with red oriental beans or green gram and there are a number of options while choosing the vegetables. Raw banana, yam and pumpkin are the usual veggies and I learnt recently that erissery is prepred with raw jackfruit too. This is almost like my version of erissery b’coz I have added coriander powder and the end result is actually tasty.

the ingredients

green gram – ½ cup
pumpkin, cubed – 500 gms

chilly powder – 1 – 1 ½ tsp
turmeric powder – 1 tsp
coriander powder – 1 tsp
salt – to taste

ingredients to be coarsely ground

coconut – ¼ part
cumin – ¾ tsp
small onion – 5
garlic(optional) – 5

for the tempering

oil – 1 tbsp
mustard – ½ tsp
small onion – 3-5
curry leaves – 2 sprig
coconut, grated – ¼ part

the method

The consistency of erissery is similar to a mash so the preferred utensil to prepare it is a pressure cooker.

Pressure cook the green gram to an almost done consistency (two whistle – I dint soak the green gram) with just adequate water. Stir in the pumpkin pieces, turmeric, chilly powder, coriander powder, salt and coarsely ground coconut mixture. Pour water if need be. Pressure cook for one whistle. Now the pumpkin and green gram would have completely cooked. Stir with a spoon to make it into a mash consistency and cook it in high heat if there is excess water. 

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When it crackles stir in the onion and curry leaves. Add a pinch of salt and turmeric and stir for few seconds. Add the grated coconut and fry till golden brown. Pour it over the pumpkin mix and stir well.


Masala Curry

>> August 21, 2010

Masala curry is one of the dishes in an Onasadya. Though the name is masala, it is mildly spiced that goes well with the other vegetable curries. The masala curry also tastes good with puttu, idiyappam / string hoppers / sevai and hoppers / appam.
the recipe

Black Garbanzo beans / kadala – ¼ cup
Green chilly – 1
Garlic – 5 -7

Boiled Potato – 2 small

Oil – 1 tbsp
Onion – 1
Ginger, chopped – 1 tbsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Chilly powder – ½ - ¾ tsp
Garam Masala – ¼ - ½ tsp

Coconut – ¼ part
Salt to taste

the method

Soak the garbanzo beans overnight and cook it with garlic and green chilly.

Heat oil in a pan and stir in the onion. Add ginger and curry leaves and sauté for a minute. Add the turmeric, chilly powder and garam masala and stir for a minute. Then Add the cooked beans and diced potatoes. Add salt. Stir in the ground coconut paste and let it boil till the curry thickens.


Sambar - traditional method

Preparing a sambar from the scratch is not an interesting idea these days. The number of sambar powder brands stands testimony to it. However I like to have the traditional recipe once in a while especially with idlis. The recipe follows…..


Dal – ¼ cup
Green chilly – 1

Condiments to be fried, powdered and ground to a paste

Oil – 1 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coriander seeds – 2 tbsp
Red chilly, dried – 7 – 9
Coconut, grated – 1/4 parts

Vegetables, cubed (whatever is available or as per need)

Drumstick – 2
Potato – 1
Carrot – 1
Pumpkin – 6 – 8 pieces
Ladies Finger / Okra – 5
Beans – 5
Tomato – 2

For the tempering

Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Small onion – 6-8 or Onion – 1

Other ingredients

Tamarind – 2 tbsp soaked in water
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves, chopped (optional) – 1 sprig
Cumin – ½ tsp
Asafoetida – ¼ tsp

the method

Cook the dal with green chilly.

Fry the condiments one by one. Fry the coconut till it is brown in colour. Powder all the condiments together with the fried coconut and cumin. Then, grind the powdered condiments to a smooth paste.

Par boil the vegetables and then add the cooked dal, ground paste, turmeric powder and salt. When the vegetables have completely cooked add tamarind pulp and asafoetida.

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Add onion and fry till it is brown in colour. Pour the tempering over the vegetables and dal mixture. Sprinkle coriander leaves. Aromatic sambar is ready!


Beetroot pachadi

>> August 20, 2010

the recipe

Beet root, grated – 2
Mustard – ½ tsp
Cumin – ½ tsp
Green chilly – 2 -3
Coconut – ½ cup
Curd – 1 cup
Salt – to taste

the method

Cook the beetroot till done. Grind together the mustard, cumin, green chilly and coconut. Add to the beetroot. Add salt to taste. Whisk the curd and pour to the beetroot mixture.



>> August 18, 2010

Onam is round the corner and it is time to delve into some traditional dishes. Olan is a mild preparation served in a Onasadya. It also tastes good if served with papad or a tangy curry like theeyal.

the recipe

Ashgourd / white pumpkin - 250 gms
Pumpkin - 250 gms
Red Oriental bean (Cowpea bean) - 100 gms
Coconut milk :
First Extract - 1/2 cup
Second Extract - 3/4 cup
Green Chillies - 5 - 7
salt - to tast

for the tempering

oil, preferably coconut oil - 1 tbsp
curry leaves - 1 sprig

Soak the beans overnight and cook it. Cut the ashgourd and pumpkin into flat cubes. Cook the ashgourd in the second coconut milk extract for 5 minutes. Then add pumpkin, green chillies  and salt. When cooked add the cooked beans and first extract of coconut milk.

Heat oil in a pan and fry the curry leaves. Pour it on the ashgourd and pumpkin mixture. Olan is ready.


Cauliflower & Egg Scramble

>> August 16, 2010

Cauliflower is a nutritious vegetable with lots of disease preventing components like antioxidants  and VitaminC. (More details about the healthy benefits of cauliflower)

Cauliflower is good for a stand alone recipe or as an additive in soups, rice, curries or fries. Cauliflower and egg scramble can be served with toast, rice or tomato rice.


Caramel Toast for kids

>> August 15, 2010

This is a crispy, crunchy and sweet toast which kids and grown up kids would love to eat. Not my own recipe, though I named it for the sake of blogging. The first time I came across a toast with ghee and sugar on it was at one of our acquaintance place when I was in the second standard (at school). My mother also witnessed the same and ….


Onion pakoda / pakora

>> August 09, 2010

the recipe

Gram flour / besan / kadala mavu – 8 tbsp or more

Asafoetida – ¼ - ½ tsp
Coriander leaves, chopped – 1 sprig
Chilly powder – ½ tsp
Water – as required
Salt – to taste
Onion, cut into slightly thick julians (lengthwise) – 2
Oil – to deep fry

the method
Prepare a thick batter with gram flour, asafoetida, chilly powder, salt and water. Add coriander leaves, onion and mix well. Heat oil in a pan. Spoon half a tablespoon of the onion mixture and fry it in hot oil.


Thai Prawn Curry

Prawns (big) – 20 – 25
Onion – 1
Capsicum, diced – ¼ cup
Tomato , diced (only the flesh part) – 1
Green chilly or fresh red chilly – 1
Chilly flakes – ½ tsp
Pepper powder – ¼ tsp
Soya sauce – 2 tbsp
Coconut milk, first extract – ¾ - 1 cup
Salt to taste
Sugar – 1 pinch
Oil – 2 tbsp

Heat oil in a pan and stir in the onion, capsicum, tomato and chilly and sauté for a minute or two. Add chilly flakes, pepper powder and salt. Stir for few second and then add soya sauce. Add a pinch of sugar. Stir in the cleaned prawns. Saute for two minutes and pour the coconut milk. Check salt, bring it to a boil. Serve hot with rice.


Potato Wedges

the recipe

Potato – 250 gms
Pepper powder – ½ - ¾ tsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 2 tbsp

the method

Cut the potato into wedges. Boil water in a pan. Place the wedges in the water with a little salt and parboil. This takes about 5 minutes. Drain the water.

Heat oil in a pan (preferably a flat pan) and add the parboiled potato wedges. Add salt. Stir till all the sides have become light golden brown. Season with pepper powder and mix well. Can be snacked or served as starters with mayonnaise.


Bittergourd Pachadi

The bitterness of bittergourd seems to have resulted in a variety of recipes. Pavakka pachadi is a curd based dish with mustard paste and fried bittergourd. A tasty dish to go with rice.

the recipe

Bittergourd - 500 gms

Coconut & Mustard paste

Coconut - 1/4 cup
Mustard - 3/4 tsp
Cumin - 3/4 tsp
Greenchilly - 3
Small onion - 3-4 or Onion - 1 medium
Salt - to taste

Frying & Tempering

Oil - to fry
Onion - 1 medium
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp

Curd, lightly whipped - 3/4 cup

the method

Cut the bittergourd into thin pieces, sprinkle salt and mix well. Heat oil in a pan and fry the bittergourd till light brown.

Make a smooth paste with the ingredients for Coconut & Mustard paste.

Heat oil in a pan and saute the onion till light brown. Add curry leaves and turmeric. Stir in the fried bitter gourd. Add the coconut and mustard paste. Let it boil. Add salt. Turn to low flame and add the whipped curd. Serve with rice, papad.....and sambar.


Shrimp Tempura

Tempura is a cuisine of Portuguese origin with much popularity in Japan. Thin strips of vegetables or sea foods like shrimp or squid are fried in the tempura batter.


Meat & Rice Steam Cake (Puttu)

>> August 08, 2010

Rice steam cake or puttu is a staple breakfast of Kerala. Puttu is served with black garbanzo beans or plantain on normal days and it is served with stew or spicy curries - veg or non-veg on special occasions. Puttu is prepared with coconut for the steam to pass through the flour mix and also gives a nice aroma especially when the steam escapes through the lid. Variants of puttu are prepared with wheat, ragi or corn flour. Fruit puttu is prepared by mixing chopped bananas (specific to Kerala) in the flour mix.

Meat puttu or irachi puttu is a delicacy of its own kind. The meat strands and the rice flour makes a good combination. A puttu mould, available in Kerala either as a vertical pipe or in the shape of a coconut shell is normally used to steam the flour mix. There is a hearsay that puttu was traditionally steamed in bamboo shoots.

If the mould is not available, place a wet muslin cloth on the steamer and then place the flour mix on it and steam till brisk steam escapes through the lid.

ingredients for the steam cake

Rice flour – 1 cup
Coconut, grated – ¾ cup
Water  - ½ cup or less
Salt – ½ tsp

ingredients for the meat mixture

Meat (boiled & minced) *– 250 gms
Onion, finely chopped – 1
Green chilly, finely chopped – 1
Garlic finely chopped – 1tsp
Garlic finely chopped – ½ tsp
Garam Masala – ½ tsp
Chilly powder – ½ tsp
Pepper powder – ½ tsp
Coriander leaves, finely chopped (optional) – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 2 tbsp

* Boil the meat and mince it in a mixer grinder – place the meat pieces in a mixer jar and run the mixie for just 1 second. The meat will become strands as seen in the picture.

Heat oil in a pan and stir in the onion, green chilly, garlic and ginger. Stir till the onion start to brown. Add salt, garam masala, chilly and pepper powder. Stir for a few seconds and place the minced meat. Stir till the meat is crisp. Add the coriander and stir for few more seconds.

rice mixture

Place the rice flour and coconut in a bowl. Make a salt solution and sprinkle it on the rice mix while simultaneously mixing the rice flour to form crumbs. When the rice mix is completely moist stop adding water.

Place 1 tbsp meat mix in the puttu mould and then place 3 tbsp rice mixture and then place 1 tbsp meat mix, continue filling the mould until it is full. Cover and place the puttu mould on a steamer until brisk steam escapes through the lid. Let it steam for 2 minutes to let the meat mince turn soft. Irachi puttu is ready. Serve hot.


Mixed Veg Theeyal

>> August 03, 2010

Theeyal is a 'vegetable in fried coconut paste curry' with a tangy taste. Sea food and meat are also cooked in this curry base though not very popular. At home, theeyal is usually prepared with shallots (small onion), bitter gourd, yam or ladies finger. 


The bitter gourd version is not much liked due to the bitter taste even though a dash of jaggery/ sharkara / vellam is added to reduce the bitterness. Experimentation with a variety of vegetables seems to have solved the bitterness to a good extent.

the mix of vegetables

Potato – 1
Carrot – 1
Tomato – 2
Onion – 1
Bitter gourd – 1

fried coconut masala

Coconut, grated – ½ part
Chilly powder – 1 ½ - 2 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Cumin – ¼ tsp

other ingredients

Oil – 3 – 5 tbsp
Mustard – ¼ tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Turmeric – ¾ tsp
Onion – 1
Tamarind pulp – from 2 tsp tamarind ( if allergic to tamarind 2 pieces of cocum may be used)
Jaggery, grated - 2 tsp
Ginger (optional) – 1 cm piece
Green chilly – 1
Salt – to taste

the method

Chop the vegetables as preferred.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and stir in the chopped bitter gourd, green chilly and 1 onion. Sauté till the colour of the bitter gourd has turned pale and slightly brown.

In another pan fry the grated coconut in 1 tbsp oil till brown. Turn off heat. Add chilly powder and coriander powder and stir. Place the coconut mixture in a mixer with the cumin. Grind it to a smooth paste. (Fry the coconut in medium flame to avoid burning / blackening of the coconut. Add more oil if needed).

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and place the mustard seeds. When it crackles stir in one chopped onion and saute till light brown. Add curry leaves, ginger and turmeric. When lightly fried add chopped tomatoes. Pour the ground fried coconut paste, salt, sautéed bitter gourd, chopped potato and carrot. Add half cup water and let the curry boil. When half done, add tamarind pulp. Stir in the jaggery when the vegetables are completely done. Boil and turn off heat.


Hot 'n' Sweet Chicken

>> August 02, 2010

When you talk about curried chicken, the recipes are endless with the option to mix various ingredients that result in completely different tastes. This is a tomato puree base curry inspired by the butter chicken recipe.  Since it was just a normal day, the extra fat content that can come with the use of butter and the sautéing of chicken in oil was a no-no. Yet, the craving for some gravy and a different taste ended up in a mix & match of ingredients with some herbs,..........and the outcome was a hot & sweet taste. 

the recipe

Chicken, cleaned & cut – 1200 gms
Ginger Garlic paste prepared from 12 – 15 cloves garlic and 3 cm piece ginger)
Lime – 1

Garam Masala – ½ + ½ tsp
Chilly powder – 2 ½ - 3 tsp
Pepper powder – ½ + ½ tsp
Turmeric – 3/4 tsp
Onion, chopped and pounded – 2
Tomato puree – from 2 tomatoes
Cream / Coconut Cream – ¼ cup
Mint leaves (optional) -1/4 cup
Coriander leaves – ¼ cup
Salt – to taste
Oil – 2 tbsp

Marinate the chicken pieces with 1/3 of ginger garlic paste, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper powder, ½ tsp garam masala and the juice from 1 lime for about an hour. Marination gives a soft texture to the meat.

Heat oil, stir in the onion till translucent and add the 2/3 ginger garlic paste. Saute for about 2 minutes and add the turmeric, chilly powder, ½ tsp pepper powder and ½ tsp garam masala. When lightly fried pour the tomato puree and bring it to a boil. Stir in the marinated chicken and mint leaves. Mix well and cook till almost done. Add salt if needed and pour the cream. Stir in the coriander leaves and mix. Serve as preferred.


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