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Lemon Rasam

South Indian soup with lentil, lemon and tomato flavored with green chillies and ginger

A South Indian meal is incomplete without rasam. Be it sambar, molagootal or any other South Indian gravy, we always have a second serving of rice with rasam and then end the meal with a curd rice. There are many varieties of rasam. I have posted the paruppu rasam sometime back and here comes another simple rasam recipe.

Lemon rasam is a bit different rasam from the typical rasam as it prepared without tamarind and rasam powder. Tomato and lemon gives the tangy flavor and sourness to the rasam. The heat of green chillies and crushed ginger adds unique flavor to the rasam. Enjoy this lemon flavored rasam with rice and potato roast or yam/chena roast.



Toor dal / pigeon peas - 1/4 cup
Tomato - 1 medium, sliced
Green chillies - 4 to 5, slit
Ginger - 1" piece, crushed
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp + a pinch
Salt - to taste
Coriander leaves - 2 sprigs, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon

Ghee - 1 tsp
Mustard - 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin - 1 tsp
Asafoetida / Hing - a pinch


1. Pressure cook the dal with 1 cup water and a pinch of turmeric powder. Mash the dal well and set aside.

2. Combine tomato, green chillies, ginger, turmeric powder and salt. Add 1 cup water and cook till the tomatoes and chillies have become soft.

3. Add the mashed dal and add more water if you want a thinner consistency. Cook till the rasam becomes frothy. Remove from heat and add coriander leaves.

4. In a pan, heat ghee and add mustard. When it pops add hing, jeera and pour over the rasam.

5. Allow the rasam to cool a little and add the lemon juice.


1. Add lemon juice only after rasam cools, otherwise it will turn bitter.

2. Do not boil the rasam after adding the dal.


Bengali Chanar Jalebi | Paneer Jalebi

Pretzel shaped jalebi made with fresh paneer/chana soaked in a cardamom flavored sugar syrup

Through blogging, I have been able to widen my knowledge about other cuisines and learn new recipes. Divya's South Vs North Challenge is one such platform to get to know and try authentic Indian recipes. This month Chandrani of Cuisine Delights has challenged the Southern team with Bengali chanar/paneer jalebi.

Chanar jalebi is made with fresh paneer, shaped into pretzels, deep fried and soaked in a cardamom flavored sugar syrup. My first attempt was a disaster with a very sticky dough and hard sugar syrup! Not wanting to throw it away, I made small balls, deep fried and coated them with hard syrup. Nevertheless, I wanted to give a second try rectifying all the mistakes I made previously and ended up with crispy and juicy jalebis!



Full cream milk - 1 litre
Lemon juice - 3 tbsp
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Water - 1/4 cup
Saffron strands - few
Cardamom - 3, crushed
Maida - 2 tsp
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Milk - 2 tsp
Oil - to deep fry


To make chenna/paneer:

1. Boil the milk. When milk starts boiling, reduce the heat and add lemon juice little by little and stir lightly.

2. When milk starts curdling, remove from heat and let it stand for 2-3 minutes or until whey water becomes clear.

3. Line a colander or sieve with muslin cloth or cheesecloth. Pour the curdled milk into it and squeeze out the excess water.

4. Keep the sieve on top of a bowl and let it rest for 15-20 minutes or until all water is drained away.

To make the paneer dough:

1. Once the paneer has drained well, transfer it to a plate. Add maida, baking powder, cardamom powder and milk.

2. Mix well and knead the paneer for atleast 10-15 minutes to make a smooth dough.

To make sugar syrup:

1. In a heavy bottomed pan, add sugar and water. Heat them on high flame and stirring continuously to dissolve the sugar.

2. Bring it to a rapid boil. Do not stir at this stage. Reduce the heat to low and add the crushed cardamom and saffron strands.

3. Let it simmer in low flame for 1-2 minutes or until syrup comes to a sticky consistency.

To shape and make jalebi:

1. Divide the paneer dough into small round balls. Take a ball and roll it into a long thick rope. Twist the ends of the rope to make a pretzel like shape.

2. Heat oil and deep fry them in medium heat until golden. Immediately dunk into the warm sugar syrup. Let the jalebi stand in the sugar syrup for 3-4 hours.

Enjoy these crispy jalebis hot or cold garnished with nuts.


1. Make sure water is completely drained from paneer otherwise the dough will become very sticky.

2. While rolling the paneer balls into ropes, some will start cracking. Lightly moist them and roll again.


Gobi Panch Phoron | Cauliflower Fry with Five Spice Mix

Cauliflower stir fry with panch phoron - a whole five spice blend mix of cumin, fennel, mustard, nigella and fenugreek 

Panch phoron is a flavorful and aromatic spice blend of cumin, fennel, mustard, nigella and fenugreek seeds in equal quantities and is used to flavor vegetable stir-fry's, dals and pickles. Few days back I had posted the recipe of panch phoron and promised to share few recipes with this spice blend. Here's a simple and delicious one using this wonderful spice mix.

This is a simple stir fry with cauliflower cooked with the five spices. When these spices are tempered in hot oil, they give out a wonderful aroma and  imparts a great flavor to the cauliflower. There are not much spices going into this, except for some heat from the green chillies and red chilly flakes. This goes well with chapathi and dal chawal. I even had some with kothamalli/coriander thokku and it paired well, so guess it'll go well with sambar and rasam too!



Cauliflower - 1 medium
Green chilly - 2
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Panch phoron - 2.5 tsp
Asafoetida/Hing - a pinch
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red chilly flakes- 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp, finely chopped


1. Cut the cauliflower to medium size florets. Put them in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and keep aside. Coarsely grind green chilly and ginger.

2. In a pan, heat oil and add panch phoron. Once they splutter, add turmeric powder, hing and green chilly-ginger paste. Fry for a minute.

3. Now add cauliflower and mix well. Cover and cook till cauliflower becomes soft. Then add salt, red chilly flakes and saute for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves.


1. Take care not to burn the fenugreek seeds while tempering.

2. Chilly flakes is optional. I added them for more spice and color.


Kadalai Paruppu Sundal | Chana Dal Sundal

Sundal is a snack made from different lentils and legumes and is usually prepared during Navratri as a neivedhyam. But I love to have these sundals anytime, especially as a evening snack with tea/coffee. Sundal is a very healthy and filling snack.

Chana dal/kadalai paruppu sundal is one of my favorite among the different sundal varieties. Though I soak the chana dal for sometime before cooking it, you can make this sundal instantly without soaking too. The cooked chana dal should be soft and firm to touch and should not turn mushy. In case you have forgot to soak the lentils the previous day to make sundal, you can make this quick and easy chana dal/kadalai paruppu sundal for neivedhyam.



Chana dal / Kadalai paruppu - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Grated coconut - 2 tbsp
Green chillies - 2, chopped
Salt - to taste
Lemon juice - 1 tsp (optional)

Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Whole dry red chilies - 2, halved
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Asafoetida / Hing - a pinch


1. Soak the chana dal for 30 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cup water and pressure cook the dal with turmeric powder for 1-2 whistles or until soft. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When it pops, add ural dal, red chillies, hing and fry till the dal turns golden.

3. Now add green chilly, curry leaves and fry for a minute. Then add cooked dal, salt and mix well. Saute for 3-4 minutes.

4. Add the grated coconut and fry for a minute. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.


1. Make sure the dal is not over cooked and mushy. It should be firm to touch and soft.

2. Squeeze in more lemon for a tangy sundal.


Cucumber Mint Raita

Mint flavored cucumber raita seasoned with freshly roasted and grounded cumin-pepper

Raita is something I make often to accompany curries and pulao. Making raita as part of our daily meal is a good way to include curd. Curd helps in soothing the stomach after eating spicy food. And raita is a delightful way to have curd if you do not like eating plain curd like me!

I often make a simple onion-tomato raita to go along with my curries and pulao. For a change, I made this mint flavored cucumber raita. The mint flavor is not so over powering and lends a fresh aroma to the raita. The raita tastes best when chilled and served.  Greek yogurt works best for this raita, though you may use normal yogurt too. Relish this raita with curries, pulao, biriyani and even as a dip.



Cucumber - 1 medium
Mint leaves - 25 to 30, finely chopped
Greek yogurt - 1 cup
Cumin/Jeera - 1/4 tsp
Black pepper - 5
Salt - to taste
Lemon juice - 1/2 tsp


1. Dry roast the cumin and pepper. Powder them using a mortar and pestle.

2. Peel the skin of cucumber and remove the seeds. Grate the cucumber and squeeze out any excess water. Keep aside.

3. In a bowl add curd and whisk well. Add salt, cumin-pepper powder and mix well. Add the grated cucumber, mint leaves and mix well.

4. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Add lemon juice just before serving.

Tips & Notes:

1. You can use normal yogurt instead of Greek yogurt. Make sure the yogurt is thick.

2. You can add finely chopped green chillies for some spice.


Punjabi Bhindi Masala

Ladiesfinger/Bhindi cooked in a onion-tomato gravy and spices

Bhindi/Okra is one of my favorite vegetable. Be it a simple stir-fry, South Indian curry or sabzi, this vegetable adds a magic to the dish. I wanted to make bhindi sambhariya with the bhindi, but then at the end decided to make this simple yet delicious Punjabi Bhindi Masala to accompany roti for dinner.

This bhindi masala is full of flavors from the spices. The addition of dry mango powder adds a tang to the masala and kasuri methi gives an extra zing. This bhindi masala goes well with chapathi/roti and even with dal-chawal. Also this doesn't take much time to prepare, so you can make quickly for lunch box or dinner.


Bhindi/Okra - 300 gms (about 20-22)
Onion - 2 medium, finely chopped
Green chilly - 1, finely chopped
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Tomato - 2 medium, chopped
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1/4 tsp
Amchur/Dry mango powder - 1/4 tsp
Kasuri methi - big pinch
Jeera/Cumin - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves - to garnish


1. Wash, dry the bhindi and cut them into 1 inch pieces. Add 2 tsp oil in a pan and saute the bhindi gently in medium flame for 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tbsp oil and add jeera. Add the onions and fry. When onion becomes soft, add green chilly, ginger-garlic paste and fry till onions turn golden.

3. Then add turmeric powder, coriander powder. red chilly powder, garam masala, amchur powder, kasuri methi and remaining 2 tsp oil. Mix and saute for 2 minutes.

4. Then add tomatoes, salt and mix well. Cook till the tomatoes become soft and oil leaves the sides.

5. Now add the fried bhindi and gently combine with the masala. Let the bhindi cook in the masala for 6-8 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot.

Tips & Notes:

1. Do not add salt while frying bhindi. Do not cover and cook bhindi.

2. Do not stir a lot after adding bhindi to the masala. Gently combine with the masala.


Panch Phoron ~ Five Spice Mix

Five whole spice mix using cumin, fennel, mustard, nigella and fenugreek seeds

Panch phoron is a whole spice blend used in Eastern Indian and Bangladesh, especially in Bengali cuisine. Panch phoron literally means five spices. It’s a blend of Cumin seeds, Fennel seeds, Mustard seeds, Nigella seeds and Fenugreek seeds in equal proportions. Unlike other spice powders which are roasted and pounded, panch phoron is not ground.

Panch phoron is usually tempered in ghee or oil and is added in vegetable stir-fry’s, lentils and pickles. Each spice brings out a distinctive flavour. Cumin has a unique flavour and adds an earthy, strong and warm flavour. Fennel is highly aromatic and slightly sweet. Mustard has a sharp, hot and pungent flavour. Nigella seeds have a peppery and smoky flavour. Fenugreek is very aromatic and has a slightly bitter taste. The tempering releases the aroma and flavours of these spices.

The five spices not only impart flavour to the dish, but have significant health benefits too. Cumin helps in digestion and is an excellent source of iron. Fennel is used for digestive problems and a rich source of anti-oxidants, dietary fiber, minerals and vitamins. Mustard seeds speed up metabolism and are good source of antioxidants, selenium and magnesium. Nigella boosts immune function, fights cancer, inflammation and allergies and is a natural remedy to many diseases. Fenugreek seeds are used to cure digestive problems and a rich source of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients.

The panch phoron spice mix can be kept fresh for long time by storing in an airtight container. I will be posting few recipes using this spice mix soon!


Cumin seeds/Jeera - 2 tbsp
Fennel seeds/Saunf - 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 2 tbsp
Nigella/Kalonji - 2 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds/Methi - 2 tbsp


Combine all the ingredients in a airtight container. Shake well and mix.


Kiwi Mango Smoothie

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So starting the day with a good and healthy breakfast is essential to keep your energy levels up and help lift your mood throughout the day.  With so many breakfast options open to us these days, skipping breakfast is no excuse. What better way to start your day than with a nutritious and filling smoothie to keep you going until your lunch.. You can use whatever fruits and vegetables are in season and try out different combinations with water, milk, fruit juice or low-fat yogurt. Get antioxidants, protein, vitamins and much more from a single glass.

We think of oranges for vitamin C, but we should actually think of kiwifruit as there is twice as much vitamin C in kiwifruit as there are in oranges! Kiwifruit is a powerhouse of vitamins,minerals and anti-oxidants. I paired up kiwi with mango, banana and apple juice to whip up this creamy, thick and delicious smoothie. The tartness from the kiwi is balanced with the mango and banana while the apple juice gives it a delicious extra kick. Enjoy this filling and healthy breakfast smoothie with toast or sandwich.



Kiwi - 2
Mango pulp - 1 cup
Banana - 1, medium size
Apple juice - 1/2 cup


1. Peel the skin of kiwi and slice them. Cut banana into small pieces.

2. Add all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


1. Make sure the kiwi is ripe. It should slightly give in when pressed.

2. The smoothie was sweet enough so I haven't added sugar. If you want more sweetness, add in some sugar or honey.

3. For a tangy taste, use orange juice instead of apple juice.


Garlic Alfredo Pizza with Spinach, Corn and Sun-Dried Tomato

Homemade pizza with garlic Alfredo sauce topped with baby spinach, sweet corn, sun-dried tomato and mozzarella-cheddar cheese

Homemade pizza is another thing that has been on my to-do list for a long long time. Guess everything will happen when the right time comes! Finally pizza's turn has come up as the Groovy Gourmets picked pizza as this month's theme. And its not just any normal pizza, but an unusual one. The idea was to come up with a pizza with uncommon toppings than the usual toppings added in pizza, one more cheese other than mozzarella and a different sauce rather than the usual tomato based pizza sauce.

For the pizza dough, I followed the one in Rak's Kitchen which is a foolproof recipe. Pesto sauce and white sauce are two good alternatives to tomato pizza sauce. I decided to make an Alfredo sauce as the base for my pizza. Alfredo sauce is a white sauce which is often used to accompany pasta dishes and made with butter, cream and Parmesan cheese. I added some garlic to infuse more flavor into my sauce. For toppings, I used baby spinach, sweet corn and sun-dried tomatoes as they paired well with my garlic alfredo sauce. I used a combination of mozzarella and cheddar for the final touch.

The pizza tasted really good and unique from the normal pizza. It was a delight to bite into the creamy and cheesy pizza. I'm happy that my first attempt to make a pizza turned out fruitful. I have planned few more pizza's to make in future, so keep watching this space for more pizza recipes!


For the pizza dough:

All purpose flour / Maida - 1 ½ cup
Active dry yeast - 1 tbsp
Milk - 1/4 cup
Water - 1/4 cup
Sugar - 1/2 tbsp
Salt -3/4 tsp
Olive oil - 2 tbsp

For the sauce:

Thick cream / Heavy cream - 1/2 cup
Garlic - 1 tbsp, minced
Pepper - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/8 tsp
Parmesan cheese - 1/4 cup
Butter - 1 tbsp
Olive oil - 2 tsp

For the topping:

Dried oregano - 2 tsp
Baby spinach - 1/2 cup, roughly chopped
Sun-dried tomato - 1/8 cup
Sweet corn - 2 tbsp
Mozzarella + Cheddar cheese - as required


To make pizza dough:

1. Boil the water and keep aside. In a wide bowl combine oil, sugar and salt. Then add the boiled water and mix well till sugar dissolves.

2. Add milk, mix and then add yeast and mix well with a whisk. Set aside for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. The yeast should be completely dissolved.

3. Then add the flour and bring everything together to form a smooth pliable dough. No need to knead the dough.

4. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and keep in a warm place for 1½ - 2 hours. After 1½ -2 hours the dough would have raised.

5. Remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead very lightly to push the air out the dough. Roll the dough under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth. Cover the dough and set aside.

To make the sauce:

1. In a sauce pan add oil and butter. Once the butter melts, add the minced garlic. Saute for a minute. Then add the cream, salt and pepper.

2. Bring the mixture to boil and then simmer till the sauce becomes thick for about 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally.

3. Then add the cheese and cook for one more minute. Set aside.

To assemble & bake pizza:

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degree Celsius. Grease a pizza pan or line with aluminium foil.

2. Roll the pizza dough using a rolling pin to a circle with 1 inch thickness. Fold the ends inside and press to get a small depth. Prick with a fork gently to make sure the base is cooked evenly.

3. Now spread the sauce and sprinkle the dried oregano. Then arrange the toppings over the base and add the grated cheese over the toppings.

4. Bake the pizza for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese melts and the base turns golden brown. Cut into slices with a pizza cutter or very sharp knife. Serve immediately.

 Enjoy with a sprinkle of chilli flakes and tomato ketchup!