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Lemony Star Cookies for Christmas

>> December 23, 2010

Its Christmas time and the designs that come to my mind are stars and Christmas trees. I took an adventurous step towards preparing these star cookies bcoz I don’t have a star shaped cookie cutter so I decided to cut out a butter paper in the shape of a star and then stencil it on the cookie dough. I adapted a short bread kind of recipe since I dint want the cookie to rise. A lemony flavor is induced for a change in the cookie as well as in the frosting.

the recipe

ingredients for the cookies

flour – 1 cup
butter – ¼ cup
melted butter or veg oil – ¼ cup approximately
egg – 1
sugar - ¼ cup
salt – 2 pinch
vanilla extract – 1 tsp
lemon rind – 1 tbsp

ingredients for the frosting & deco

butter – ½ tbsp
sugar – 3 tbsp
buttermilk – 2-3 tbsp
lemon juice – 5-6 drops
silver sugar balls – as required

the method

Bring the butter to room temperature. Beat it till fluffy. Mix the sugar and salt. Add the powdered sugar and beat well. (Since this is a small quantity I used a fork to beat the mix). Add the egg and beat well. Pour the vanilla extract and melted butter or oil. Mix well. Add the lemon rind. Stir in the flour in batches and mix well. Make it into a disc shape and keep it in refrigerator for half an hour. Grease a baking tray or spread a butter paper and apply butter. Cut the cookies into preferred shape, place it in the baking tray and keep it in the refrigerator for another half an hour. Bake at 170C for 10 – 11 minutes. Remove from baking tray immediately. Cool it on wire racks.

For the frosting, mix together butter, sugar and lemon juice. Heat till sugar melts. Add buttermilk and boil until a pale white color forms. Turn off heat and cool it.
Brush the frosting on cookies and place the silver sugar balls in preferred design or just sprinkle it on cookies.

the recipe goes to Dr.Sameena's Cakes and Cookies for Christmas event  & Champa's Bake Off Event


Christmas Menu - Compilation of recipes


Main course


Pethipireethu | Kul Kulz | Anglo-Indian Christmas snacks

Pethipireethu | Kul Kulz - Sweet version & Savory version in the background


1 kg rice flour (fine roasted flour used for idiyappam / string hoppers)
1 egg - substitute eggs with 50 gms of butter if you dont like to add egg
1 large coconut - grated and ground to a paste (with just adequate amount of water)
2 tables spoon - black sesame seeds - wash thoroughly 2 to 3 times
salt to taste
Oil to fry 
1 table spoon - butter 


Keep as many greased flat plates or trays ready to place the tiny balls.

Place the rice flour in a large bowl. Beat eggs with butter and salt and add it to the flour. Add the ground coconut and sesame and start kneading into a soft dough without any coarse surface. 

Start making tiny balls. Make sure it is even by using a tea spoon or a smaller spoon to scoop out the dough and then make it into rounds. Use a fork to make a shape - just press the ball against a greased steel fork.

If possible use a deep and slightly large pan to fry. If the dough sits for long it will lose its smoothness and start dry off.

Heat oil in a pan and gently place the shaped pethipireethu into the oil. Do not stir. Fry in low to medium to avoid quick browning. When the sides start to turn golden color, gently turn it with a slotted spoon. When the other side is also golden, as seen in the picture, drain it from oil. Serve as such or make a sugar syrup and follow the method as in this Diamond Cuts recipe. To make the syrup use 3 cup sugar and 1 cup water.


Chicken Shahi Pulao

>> December 21, 2010

Shahi Pulao is a very mildly spiced, creamy yet very tasty pulao. Basically this is a veg pulao. I chickenised it to find contentment for my meat loving family. Chicken Shahi Pulao can be had as such or with muttom kurma or any curry of your choice.

ingredients to prepare the rice

Rice – 500 gms (approximately 1 ¾ cup)
Cardamom – 3
Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
Cloves – 3
Bay leaf – 1
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Shahi jeera – ¼ tsp
Beans – ¼ cup
Carrot – ¼ cup
Potato – ¼ cup

ingredients to boil the chicken

Chicken (boneless) - 500 gms (chopped to bite size pieces)
Ginger – 1 tsp
Garlic – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – ¼ tsp
Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
ingredients for the green chutney

Coriander leaves – ½ cup
Mint leaves – ½ cup
Ginger – 1 ½ inch piece
Garlic – 5
Green chilly – 1
Onion – 1 small

ingredients for the Shahi paste
Cashew nuts – 2 tbsp
White Sesame seeds – 2 ½ tbsp
Poppy seeds – 1 tbsp
Coconut – 4 tbsp

other ingredients
Ghee – 1 + 1 tbsp
Pepper powder
Salt to taste
the method

rice preparation

In a heavy bottom pan or pressure cooker add 2 tbsp ghee and add the whole spices except shahi jeera. Add the vegetables and sauté for a minute. Add shahi jeera, salt and rice and stir for about five minutes. Add double the quantity of water (for 11/2 C rice add 3 cup water) and cook till rice is done.

To boil the chicken, heat a pan and add oil. Place the ginger and garlic and stir in the chicken. Saute in medium heat. Add salt and let the chicken cook in its own juices. Add 1/8 cup water if need be. When chicken is done add the garam masala and turn off heat.

To prepare green chutney, grind all the ingredients.

Soak the ingredients for shahi paste for about one hour. Grind it to a smooth paste.


Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a pan and heat the green chutney in low flame. Add half of the cooked chicken. When the chutney starts to boil, turn off heat.

In another pan heat 1 tbsp ghee in low flame and add the shahi paste. Add the remaining half of the chicken and pepper powder. Heat it for about 2 minutes and turn off heat.

Shahi pulao can be served as individual servings or layered in a bowl and served from it.

In a bowl place a layer of rice, followed by a layer of green chutney with chicken. Then place another layer of rice, followed by a layer of shahi paste with chicken. Finish it with a layer of rice. Sprinkle grated paneer or roasted sesame.


Kashmiri Paneer

>> December 19, 2010

I saw this tomato based Kashmiri paneer recipe on TV a few months back. After two trials I made some improvisation in terms of ingredients to bring out my own version. The original recipe calls for the use of ghee. My first trial was with complete ghee and the second trial was with complete oil. Learnt that the use of ghee is essential for a nice texture to the gravy. For calorie reasons I used a combination of ghee and vegetable oil. Can be had with roti’s or rice.

the recipe

paneer – 200 gms
tomato – 4
curd – 3-4 tbsp
chilly powder – ¾ tsp
salt – to taste
black cardamom – 2 or green cardamom – 3
bay leaf – 2 small
ghee - 2 tbsp

ingredients not in the original recipe

Pepper powder – ½ tsp
Sugar – ½ - ¾ tsp
Oil – 2 tbsp
Onion – 1
Garlic – 3 cloves

the method

Cut the paneer into 4 cm long x 2-3 cm wide slabs.

Chop the tomatoes, onion and garlic and puree it with the curd.
Heat oil in a frying pan and add the ghee and vegetable oil. Deep fry the paneer pieces till light to golden brown (may be fried in batches). In the original recipe, the paneer was fried till it turned almost black. Drain the fried paneer pieces and place it in ¼ cup water or milk.

To the remaining ghee + oil add the bay leaf and cardamom and fry till the aroma comes out. Add the pureed tomato and curd mix. Add the chilly powder and salt and let the puree boil for five minutes. Add pepper powder and sugar. Check taste and add more sugar and pepper if needed. Half cup water may be added if the gravy is too thick. Add the fried paneer pieces and simmer for ten minutes.


Mint Chutney - lemon flavored

>> December 17, 2010

Mint Chutney needs no introduction though i prepared this chutney using lemon as the sour ingredient instead of the usual tamarind that goes into the chutney making process in South India. The addition of lemon makes it more fresh in taste.

the recipe

Mint leaves - 1/2 cup
Coconut, grated - 4 tbsp
Small onion - 6
Green chilly - 1
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Salt - to taste
Lemon juice - juice from 1 lemon

the method

Place the peeled and chopped ginger, small onion and green chilly in a blender. Blend it to a coarse paste. Add the coconut, mint leaves, salt and lemon juice to the onion mix. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water. Blend it to the desired consistency. Serve with rice, biryani or pulao or as you please.

grinding the coconut and mint for a long time can take away its taste. thats the reason the cutney is ground in two batches.


Beef & Koorka (Chinese potato) stir fry

Koorka or Chinese potato is a favourite vegetable in our family. Koorka mezhukupuratti and hot rice itself is  a fulfilling meal. I use veggies in beef to reduce the quantity of meat intake which can keep a check on the calories while not compromising on the taste.

the recipe

Beef   (boiled with ginger, pepper and green chillies) - 500 gms

Koorka, (boiled) - 200 gms
Small onion, chopped - 10 - 15
Ginger, finely chopped - 1 tsp
Garlic, finely chopped - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Turmeric powder - 1/4 - 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder - 3/4 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp

the method

Heat oil in a pan and add the finely chopped garlic. When light brown add onion and stir till translucent. Add the ginger and curry leaves. Saute for a while and add chilly, turmeric, coriander, pepper and garam masala. Stir for a minute and add the boiled beef with about 1/4 cup of its stock. Add the boiled koorka. In medium heat keep stirring till beef and koorka is mixed well and the beef stock is completely evaporated. Serve with rice.


Stuffed Paratha

>> December 01, 2010

the recipe

Chapati dough – to make 12 thin chapatis ( I used 1 ¼ cup wheat flour)
black sesame – ½ tsp or more
cumin  - ½ tsp or more

ingredients for the stuffing / filling (the combination and quantity of veggies can be as per need)

potato – 1
carrot – 1
cauliflower – ¾ cup florets
beans – 5-7

onion – 1
garlic paste -  1 tsp
ginger paste -  1 tsp
garam masala -  ½ tsp
turmeric  1/8 tsp
chilly powder – ½ tsp
pepper powder – ¼ tsp
oil – 1 tbsp
butter (optional) – 1 tsp
raisins (optional) – 5
salt – to taste

the method

Heat oil in a pan and stir in the onions. When translucent add garlic and ginger. Stir for a minute and add turmeric, chilly, pepper and garam masala. Stir for few seconds and add all the chopped vegetables. Add the finely chopped raisins and salt. Add enough water to cook the vegetables till soft (pressure cooking is better). Add  butter to the cooked vegetables and mash it to a coarse paste.

Roll out the dough into thin chapattis. While rolling place a pinch of sesame in 6 of the chapattis and place a pinch of cumin in other 6 chapatis.


Place a chapatti with the sesame on the rolling board. Place 1 ½ to 2 tbsp of the veg mash in the chapatti and spread it evenly (leaving ¾ inch space on the sides). Close it with another chapatti rolled with the cumin seeds. Seal the edges by gently rolling it. Heat a griddle and cook the stuffed parathas with oil pressing down the sides. Serve with raita or lentil curry.

the recipe goes to Stuffed Paratha event by Vardhini


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