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Capsicum Masala Rice

Delicious and satisfying one pot meals are perfect for a lunch box or when you don't have much time to cook and most important, you have to wash just one pot at the end! This capsicum masala rice is one such quick and easy, yet tasty one pot meal. Crunchy capsicums and freshly ground spice blend peps up the flavor of this spicy rice dish.

Roasted peanuts in the spice blend gives a beautiful nutty flavor to the rice while the tempering of curry leaves and asafoetida lends out a beautiful aroma . The masala is spicy, so reduce the amount of chiilies in the spice powder when making for kids. Also this is a 'no onion no garlic' recipe, so its perfect to make during festival days. If you have cooked rice or left over rice ready, this can be made in a jiffy, as there is not much chopping or sauteing. Serve this spicy capsicum masala rice with a raita of your choice and papad.


Serves 2-3

Spicy rice dish with capsicum combined with a fresh blend of roasted peanuts and spices


1 cup basmati rice
1 large capsicum, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp gingelly oil
Salt to taste

For the spice powder:
½ inch cinnamon
4 dried red chillies
1 ½ tbsp raw peanuts
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp chana dal
1 tsp split urad dal
1 tsp jeera / cumin
¼ methi / fenugreek seeds

For the tempering:
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp split urad dal
1-2 dried red chillies, broken
¼ tsp asafoetida / hing / kaayam
1 sprig curry leaves


1. Wash and soak the rice for 10-15 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and cook the rice. Spread the rice on a plate and allow to cool.

2. Dry roast all the ingredients for the spice powder over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes. Cool and then grind to a fine powder.

3. Heat 1 tbsp oil and add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add urad dal, red chillies, hing and curry leaves. Fry till dal turns golden.

4. Then add the capsicum and saute for 3-4 minutes. The capsicum should be soft but still crunchy in texture.

5. Add the spice powder, salt and fry for a minute. Then add cooked rice, remaining oil and gently combine everything.

My Notes:

1. Adjust the amount of red chillies according to your spice level.

2. Make sure rice is not overcooked and each grain is separated.

3. Do not over cook the capsicum. The crunchiness should be retained.


Litti Chokha

Litti Chokha is a famous traditional dish, eaten mainly in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. Litti is made of wheat flour balls stuffed with sattu and spices. This stuffing is known as Pitthi.  Sattu is a popular flour in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which is made from roasted bengal gram / chana dal. Sattu is a nutritious flour which is cooling in nature, rich in fibre, low in calories and light to the digestive system. In olden times, litti was cooked in the hot sand or clay oven. Nowadays, it is either cooked in a tandoor or oven. Hot litti is dipped in ghee and served with chutney and mashed eggplant, potatoes or tomatoes.

For this month's South Vs North Challenge, started by Divya of You Too Can Cook, Nupur of UK Rasoi has challenged the South Team with this healthy and delicious Bihari Litti Chokha. Litti chokha is easy and simple to make if you have sattu. But it may not be easily available in the Indian grocery store, but still you can make this flour at home. Hop over to Nupur's space for the sattu recipe. Litti is usually eaten as a snack but can also be served for lunch and dinner. This dish can be consumed long after being prepared, thus apt to carry during long journeys. Dipping the hot litti in ghee enhances the taste, so do no skip the ghee! The true flavor of chokha comes from mustard oil and roasted garlic, so do not omit them too.


Makes 8-10 Litti

Baked wheat flour balls stuffed with roasted chickpea flour and spices, served with mashed potato, spices, roasted garlic and tomatoes


For the litti:
2 cup wheat flour
½ tsp ajwain / carom seeds / omam
2 tbsp ghee
½ tsp baking soda
Salt to taste
¾ to 1 cup warm water

For the stuffing:
½ cup sattu / roasted chickpea flour
½ inch ginger, grated
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped coriander leaves
½ tsp jeera / cumin seeds
½ tsp ajwain / carom seeds / omam
1 tbsp mustard oil
1 tbsp pickle spice
½ tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

For the chokha:
2 large potatoes, boiled
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
4-5 large cloves garlic
1 large tomato
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
½ tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
1 tsp mustard oil


To make dough for litti:

Sieve the flour and add all the ingredients, knead it into a not too soft dough with warm water. Cover the dough and keep aside for 30 minutes.

To make stuffing/pitthi:

Take out sattu in a mixing bowl and add jeera, ajwain, ginger, green chillies, coriander, pickle spice and lemon juice. Mix well to form a crumbly mixture. Add 1 tbsp water if it is very dry.

To make litti:

1. Divide the dough into lemon size balls. Take one ball and flatten between palms. With the help of fingers, expand the dough to 2-3 inches in diameter.

2. Place 1 tbsp of the stuffing and bring all sides to the middle and seal completely. Pinch off the the extra dough from top and gently flatten them.

3. Preheat the oven to 200 C / 392 F. Prepare the remaining litti and place on a baking tray. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until brown, flipping every 10 minutes.

To make chokha:

1. Peel the potatoes and mash them coarsely. Set aside.

2. In a preheated oven at 220 C / 425 F, place the tomato and garlic in a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool and peel the skin. Keep in a bowl and mash with a spoon.

3. Add this to the mashed potatoes along with onion, ginger, green chillies, coriander leaves, oil and salt. Combine well.

How to serve:

Dip hot litti in ghee and serve with a bowl of chokha and green coriander chutney.

My Notes:

1. Do not apply any extra flour while shaping or rolling the litti.

2. Instead of oven roasting garlic and toamto, you can also roast them on gas flame for 12-15 minutes on medium flame.

3. If you do not like the raw taste of mustard oil in chokha, you can heat the oil and add to the chokha.

4. While baking the litti, flip them at regular intervals to ensure even cooking.

5. Pickle spice is the wet oily masala in a pickle excluding the pieces. I have used the mango pickle here.


Savory Caraway Cheddar Biscotti

Home Bakers is a group started by Priya of Priya's Versatile Recipes, where each month we get to bake new recipes and learn different baking techniques. For this month Home Bakers Challenge, we are baking biscottis and Priya has given us options to bake both savory and sweet biscottis.

Biscotti are twice baked cookies originating from Italy. The biscuits are oblong-shaped and very crunchy. Since they are dry, they are often served with a drink to dunk in.  This is my first attempt in making biscotti and am pretty happy that they came out crunchy and delicious. Caraway or the kala jeera, lends a beautiful flavor to this cheesy biscotti.


Recipe Source ~ Food with Presence
Yields 10-12

Savory and spicy biscotti with cheddar cheese and caraway seeds


1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne / red chilly powder
½ tsp caraway seeds


1. Heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Put the eggs and cheese in a bowl and using an electric whisk process until it is well combined and thick.

3. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne and caraway seeds. Pulse three or four times, just to integrate the dry ingredients using the whisk or using hand.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead 3-4 times it until it holds together and the dough is coated with flour.

5. Shape the dough into a 8 inch long and 4-6 inch wide rectangle/log. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and gently flatten.

6. Bake at 180 C / 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until the log is firm to the touch. Cool for about 10 minutes.

7. Then cut on them into half-inch slices. Arrange the biscotti flat on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

8. Flip and bake again for another 10-15 minutes or until biscotti are slightly golden. Cool completely before serving.


Grilled Zucchini Pizza Bites

The theme for this month's Groovy Gourmets challenge are canapés. A canapé is a small, prepared and usually decorative food, held in the fingers and often eaten in one bite. Crackers or small slices of bread or toast or puff pastry or vegetables, serve as the base for canapé often topped with cheese, sauce or relish.

Zucchini pizza bites are a delicious and healthy way to satisfy the longing for pizza. These zucchini bites also make a great evening snack for kids. Choose a large zucchini for making these bites, but if you have a small zucchini cut them diagonally. I topped with corn kernels but you can add capsicums, tomato and olives or just have them plain with pizza sauce and cheese.


Adapted from Skinny Taste
Makes 12-15 bites

Grilled zucchini topped with pizza sauce, cheese, corn kernels and Italian herbs


1 medium size zucchini
¼ cup pizza sauce
¼ cup grated mozzarella
¼ cup corn kernels
Italian mixed herbs
Olive oil


1. Cut zucchini into ¼ inch thick rounds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a grill pan over high heat and drizzle few drops of olive oil. Place the zucchini rounds and grill on both sides for 2 minutes.

3. Transfer to a plate. Spread pizza sauce and top with cheese and corn kernels.

4. Heat the grill pan over low heat and place the zucchini rounds and grill till cheese melts.

5. Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle with herbs and serve warm.


Carrot Beans Thoran | Beans Carrot Stir Fry

Thoran is an easy and healthy South Indian stir fry. Carrot beans thoran is one of the most common and simplest stir fry that goes well with any South Indian gravy - be it a sambar, rasam or kuzhambu. It even tastes great with plain white rice mixed with ghee. This simple thoran can also be made for the onasadya.

This is a quick and basic thoran recipe that beginners in cooking can easily try. Garlic adds a lovely flavor to the thoran but if you can skip it if you do not want. Carrot and beans have high nutritional values and this stir fry is a delicious way to include them in our daily meals. Serve this thoran with any South Indian gravy.


Serves 3-4

Simple stir fry with carrot, beans and coconut


3 medium size carrots, cut into small cubes
2 cup chopped beans
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil

To grind:
½ cup grated coconut
2 green chillies
5-6 curry leaves
2 cloves garlic (optional)

For the tempering:
1 tsp mustard seeds
¾ tsp split urad dal
Pinch of asafoetida / hing / kaayam
Few curry leaves
1 dried red chilly, broken


1. Coarsely grind coconut, green chillies, curry leaves and garlic without adding any water. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When it crackles, add urad dal, asafoetida, red chilly and curry leaves. Fry till dal turns golden.

3. Add the carrot, beans, turmeric powder, salt and mix well. Saute for 2 minutes. Then add the ground coconut and combine.

4. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. Take care not to overcook the vegetables.

5. Stir fry for another 3-4 minutes or until it becomes dry.


Crostini with Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella

For this month's International Food Challenge, we are exploring Campania cuisine of Italy. Campania is a region in southern Italy, well known for their pizza, pasta and cheese, specially mozzarella cheese. Fresh vegetables also play an important role in the Campania cuisine. Priya Suresh of Priya's Versatile Recipes, host for this month, has suggested four wonderful recipes from this region. I choose to make the simple crostini with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.

Crostini is an Italian appetizer meaning little toasts.  Crostini are made by thinly slicing bread, typically ciabattas,  and toasting or grilling it so that it becomes crispy. The slices can be drizzled with olive oil, herbs and salt or a sauce and then served plain, or they can be dressed with an assortment of toppings and used as appetizers or garnishes with foods such as soups.The toppings may include a variety of different cheeses, meats, and vegetables. This is a simple crostini recipe with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella which makes a great snack.


Recipe Source : Food Family Finds
Serves 2-3

Crostini with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella


1 loaf French Bread, sliced
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
¼ cup / ½ stick butter, at room temperature
1 clove garlic, minced


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F / 180 degrees C.

2. In a small bowl, mix garlic and butter. Brush both sides of sliced bread with garlic butter. Top with cheese and tomato slices.

3. Bake 10 – 15 minutes until cheese is melted and serve warm. 

My Notes:

1. You can also add some chopped basil leaves for the topping.


Walnut Barfi

There are many variety of barfi made with different nuts, flours and even fruits. But I never heard of walnut barfi until I tasted this at a relatives place for the first time and it tasted very delicious and yummy. Once could never guess that the main ingredient in the barfi was walnuts. I wanted to try this barfi for Diwali, so immediately called them up and got the recipe for the walnut barfi.

I have always been hesitant to try out Indian sweets. Its a bit tricky business, you need to achieve the one-string consistency and then know exactly when to remove from heat and transfer to a greased plate. Nevertheless, keeping aside my fears, I gave it a try. And see the result, delicious melt-in-mouth barfi!


Yields 15 medium pieces

Indian sweet made with walnuts and almonds


¾ cup walnuts
¼ cup almond / badam
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 tsp ghee


1. Roast the walnuts and almonds for 4-5 minutes. Allow it cool and grind them into smooth powder. Grease a plate/tray with ghee and keep it ready.

2. Heat a non stick pan over medium heat and add sugar and water. Mix well till sugar dissolves completely. Keep stirring and cook till one string consistency is reached. (See Notes)

3. Now add the walnut-badam powder and mix well. Keep stirring till the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan.

4. At this stage add ghee and keep stirring until it thickens and forms a mass. Remove from heat and immediately pour into the greased tray.

5. Flatten the mixture with a spatula and allow it cool for few minutes. Cut into your desired shape while it is slightly warm.

My Notes:

1. To check one string consistency, wet your fingers and take a drop of syrup in between your thumb and index finger. If a single string is formed between the fingers, it means syrup has reached one string consistency.

2. The barfi was not too sweet, so if you want more sweet add 1 cup sugar.