Tuesday, January 29, 2008


India is truly a mosaic of varied cultures, and no aspect of culture asserts this fact as strongly as cuisine! The stark difference in ingredients, procedures and practices followed in different parts of India is a typical example -- and every cuisine has its share of unique features and abundant charm.

South Indian cuisine is no different. The subtle Keralite blends of coconuts and condiments coexist with the spicy curries of Chettinad, just as the fiery pickles of Andhra Pradesh complement the slightly sweetish cuisine of Karnataka. Like all other parts of India, South India too has a large repertoire of recipes to its credit, ranging from breakfast and the quintessential "tiffin" to main course dishes, snacks, festival or fasting foods, pickles, and the lot!

Typical South Indian snacks like pesarattu, sundal, appam, idlis, dosa, uttapas etc are served in restaurants across the country (especially in a typical South Indian restaurant) but when it comes to breakfast or snacks we usually reach out for easy options like upma, idli or a dosa, and that is what exactly I am presenting to all you foodies this time…. Not only are they easy to make and nutritious but also very filling. Combined with spicy coconut chutney and steaming hot sambhar is just enough to keep you going till lunch.

Transport yourself across South India with these recipes, and enjoy yourself discovering the unique features of this cuisine with easy recipes....

Rawa Idli
Soft and spongy rawa idlis can be made in a jiffy for a quick and satiating breakfast.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes. Cooking Time: 7 to 8 minutes. Makes 12 idlis.

For the batter
1 cup rawa(semolina)
¼ cup curds (dahi)
1 cup water
1 tbsp chopped coriander (dhania)
salt to taste

For the tempering
½ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
½ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
a pinch asafoetida (hing)
1 tsp urad dal (split black lentils)
1 tbsp broken cashewnuts
4 to 6 curry leaves(kadi patta)
2 green chillies, chopped
1 tsp oil
½ tsp ghee

Other ingredients
¾ tsp fruit salt
oil for greasing

For the batter
1. Combine all ingredients together, other than the fruit salt and leave aside for 10 minutes.

For the tempering
1. Combine the oil, ghee, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal and asafoetida in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes.
2. Add the cashewnuts, curry leaves, green chillies and microwave for 1 more minute.

How to proceed
1. Pour 1 cup of water in the base of a microwave safe idli steamer and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Grease the idli moulds using little oil.
2. Add the tempering and the fruit salt to the batter and mix well.
3. Pour 2 tablespoons of batter into each greased cavity of the idli moulds and microwave, covered, on HIGH for 2 minutes.
4. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 8 more idlis.
5. Serve hot with coconut chutney and sambhar.

Shepu Sweet Idli


All time favourite with a sprinkling of iron strength! Dill, besides making this recipe colourful and interesting also loads it up with iron.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 15 minutes. Makes 15 idlis.

½ cup finely chopped dill (shepu) leaves
2 cups raw rice, soaked for 4 hours, drained
¼ cup freshly grated coconut
½ cup thick rice flakes (poha)
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup crushed jaggery (gur)
1 tsp fruit salt
salt to taste

1. Grind the soaked rice with the grated coconut to a thick smooth paste, adding a little water.
2. Wash the rice flakes, drain and add the buttermilk. Set aside for 10 minutes.
3. Grind the rice flakes in buttermilk to a smooth paste, add the jaggery and grind further till smooth. Add this to the rice batter.
4. Add the chopped dill leaves and salt and mix well.
5. Check the consistency and now add a little water only if required so as to get a thick batter.
6. Add the fruit salt to the batter and sprinkle a little water over it.
7. When the fruit salt starts bubbling, mix gently.
8. Spoon out the batter into greased idli moulds and steam for 8 to 10 minutes.
9. Serve hot.



The preparation which has put South India on every culinary hot spot of the world. Served traditionally with sambhar and chutney.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes.
Cooking Time: 20 minutes.
Fermenting Time: 4 hours.
Soaking Time: 2 hours.

Makes 8 dosas.

1 cup raw rice (chawal)
1/3 cup urad dal (split black gram)
2 tbsp cooked rice (chawal)
2 tbsp beaten rice (poha)
5 to 7 fenugreek seeds (methi)
salt to taste
oil for cooking

To serve
coconut chutney

1. Wash the raw rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds. Soak in a little water along with the beaten rice and cooked rice for at least 2 hours.
2. Grind to a smooth paste with a little water. Cover and keep aside for at least 4 hours. Add salt and mix well.
3. Heat a non-stick tava and grease it lightly with oil. When hot, pour a ladelful of the batter, spread using a circular motion to make a thin dosa and cook on one side.
4. Pour a little oil along the edges while cooking. When crispy, fold over and serve hot.
5. Repeat with the remaining batter.
6. Serve with coconut chutney and sambhar.

When the dosa is cooked, put some potato bhaji on it. Roll to form a cylindrical shape and serve hot.

Rice Appe


Traditional appes made with rice.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes. Cooking Time: 40 minutes.
Fermenting Time: Overnight.
Soaking Time: 2 hours.

Makes 20 to 24 appes.

1 cup raw rice (chawal)
1/4 cup urad dal(split black gram )
1/4 cup crushed peanuts
2 tbsp chopped onions
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai/ sarson)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
2 green chillies, chopped
8 to 10 curry leaves (kadi patta)
a pinch asafoetida (hing)
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
oil for cooking

To serve
coconut chutney

1. Wash and soak the rice and urad dal in lukewarm water for at least 2 hours.
2. Drain and grind to a smooth paste with 1/2 cup of water.
3. Cover and set aside overnight to ferment.
4. Next day, heat the oil in a small kadhai, add the crushed peanuts and chopped onion and stir for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, green chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida.
5. When the mustard and cumin seeds crackle, add this to the fermented batter.
6. Add salt and a little water if required and mix to form a thick batter.
7. Heat the appe mould on a medium flame and grease it with a little oil.
8. Pour a spoonful of the batter into each mould.
9. Cook till the outer surface becomes golden brown and then turn each appe upside down using a fork so as to cook the other side.
10. Remove and repeat with the remaining batter.
11. Serve hot with coconut chutney.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Warm your way through Winter

Wintertime – a fantastic season for that extra hour curled up under your razai; invigorating walks in the crisp fresh air; for warm and nourishing food and drinks.

Why do we feel hungrier in winter? Have you ever wondered? Cold weather brings a drop in your body temperature, which stimulates your appetite. Eating helps to generate heat and keeps your body warm. Your body works harder and spends more energy just trying to keep you warm during winter, so your desire to eat more comes from your body’s natural increase in energy use.

It is tempting to use cold weather as an excuse to overeat but you do not need a layer of extra fat to stay warm...add an extra layer of clothing instead!! While you definitely can enjoy a healthy appetite during winter, do monitor your calorie intake, or you could end up putting on unwanted weight at the end of the season.

“Eat wisely to stay healthy” is the only health slogan for cold winter days. It’s beneficial to focus on foods that keep you warm and get your body temperature back to normal. Be good to yourself this season with healthy, hearty winter foods that will leave you feeling fine and avoid adding inches to your waistline.

Bring a little sunshine into your home during the cold winter months by enjoying the bounty of produce that's available this season. Fresh fruits like citrus fruits, amla, nd vegetables, herbs and some cereals and pulses are few of the foods that make us feel warm, supported and secured. Hence eat all the tradtionaly foods like gaund ke laddu, urad pak, gajar ka halwa, etc to keep you warm but in resricted amounts though.

Healthy Oondhiya

Startling though it may seem, here is a wonderful and healthy modification of the famous festive Gujarati dish which is ordinarily loaded with oil. I've changed this recipe and cut down on the oil along with the invisible fat which you get from coconut.
The methi muthias added to this recipe are baked to a wonderful rich golden brown colour that are very appealing and also cut down a lot of the calories you get in the fried version.
A good amount of iron and calcium is available from this hearty dish and this is sure to become your family favourite.

Preparation Time : 15 mins.
Cooking Time : 30 mins.
Serves 6.

For the oondhiya
2 cups surti papadi (double beans)
1¼ cups kand (purple yam), peeled and cut into cubes
1 cup baby potatoes
1¼ cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
3 to 4 small brinjals
½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
a pinch soda bi-carb
salt to taste

To be mixed into a masala
1 cup chopped coriander (dhania)
½ cup poha (beaten rice flakes)
¼ cup green garlic, chopped
3 teaspoons coriander-cumin seed (dhania-jeera) powder
1 teaspoon ginger-green chilli paste
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
1 ripe banana, mashed
salt to taste

For the baked methi muthias
1 cup chopped fenugreek (methi) leaves
1/3cup whole-wheat flour (gehun ka atta)
1/3cup besan (Bengal gram flour)
½ tsp ginger-green chilli paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
¼ tsp garam masala
1 tsp oil
Salt to taste

For the garnish
1 tablespoon chopped coriander (dhania)

For the baked methi muthias
1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and knead into a soft dough using a little water.
2. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions, shape into even sized rounds and flatten them by placing between your palms.
3. Place on a greased baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C (400°F) for 7 to 8 minutes. Keep aside.

For the oondhiya
1. String the surti papadi taking care not to separate the 2 sides.
2. Wash the papadi, add the carom seeds, soda bi-carb and salt and mix well.
3. Make criss-cross slits in the kand, baby potatoes, sweet potatoes and brinjals taking care not to separate the segments.
4. Fill half the masala mixture into the slits of kand, baby potatoes, sweet potatoes and brinjals. Keep aside the remaining masala mixture.
5. Combine the surti papadi, stuffed vegetables, remaining masala mixture with 3 cups of water and pressure cook for 2 whistles.

How to proceed
1. Transfer the cooked oondhiya, methi muthias into a large serving dish and toss lightly.
2. Serve hot, garnished with the chopped coriander.

Minty Morning


This is a variation of the most popular breakfast juice of all time, the orange juice. It is sure to appeal to everyone's taste buds as well as health.
Oranges boost overall resistance and also stimulate the salivary glands thus aiding digestion. Mint on the other hand is rich in iron and vitamin C. It is also the best digestive and cooling herb. By combining the health-giving properties of oranges with mint; this juice makes for a powerful cleanser.

Makes 2 small glasses (300 ml).

4 medium sized oranges, peeled and separated into segments
8 to 10 sprigs of mint (phudina) with the leaves, roughly chopped
crushed ice to serve

1. Juice all the ingredients.
2. Add some crushed ice in 2 glasses and pour the juice over it. Serve immediately.

1. Blend all the ingredients using little water (if required) till smooth.
2. Strain the juice using a strainer or a muslin cloth.
3. Add some crushed ice in 2 glasses and pour the juice over it. Serve immediately


Gaund is an "edible gum" that is extracted from the bark of a tree.
It is available in crystal form as pearly yellowish translucent pieces of varying sizes. The bigger crystals are more expensive.
Gaund is a "heaty" food i.e. food that provides heat to our body and is usually had only in the winters. It is deep fried in ghee and then added to the dish it is being used in. I have also discovered that if you dry roast it on a non-stick pan, it puffs up just like popcorn. This is a great way to cut down on those unnecessary calories. These delicious gaund laddus are a traditional winter delicacy that are had with a glass of warm milk for breakfast. I personally prefer them as a dessert after a nice meal.

Preparation Time : 15 mins.
Cooking Time : 30 mins.
Makes 15 laddus.

1¼ cups whole wheat flour (gehun ka atta)
3 tablespoons gaund (edible gum)
½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon cardamom (elaichi) powder
¼ cup ghee

Other ingredients
ghee for deep frying

1. Heat the ghee in a pan, add the whole wheat flour and roast it over a slow flame while stirring continuously till the flour turns golden brown. Allow it to cool.
2. Deep fry the gaund in hot ghee, one tablespoon at a time till the pieces puff up. Drain on absorbent paper and keep aside.
3. Add the powdered sugar, fried gaund and cardamom powder to the roasted wheat flour and mix well.
4. Divide the mixture into 15 portions and shape each portion into round laddus using your hands. If you find it difficult to shape the laddus, add a little melted ghee.
5. Store in an air-tight container.

How else can you shift your winter into high gear? Eat frequent winter-friendly meals to keep your energy levels at an even keel all day.
So go on, pull out the winter woollies, stock up the kitchen with these delicious and nutritious foods and look forward to a wonderful winter.