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Potato Bonda | Aloo Bonda


Deep fried potato balls dipped in gram flour batter.

Potato bonda is perfect a snack with the evening tea. If you have mashed potatoes in hand, you can make this in a jiffy. Leftover potato masala can be used as a stuffing for dosa or sandwich.

During my initial days of cooking, I was always afraid of deep frying. So here is a small trick. Take a steel ladle, like the ones used to spread dosa. Dip it in the hot oil and then place the balls dipped in batter in the ladle. Gently invert the balls into the oil. Remove the sticking batter in the ladle and repeat for the rest. Easy and safe, right?

Ingredients:

Potato - 3 medium
Onion - 1 medium, finely chopped
Green chillies - 2, finely chopped
Ginger - 1 tsp, grated
Asafoetida/Hing - a pinch
Curry leaves - 1 sprig, finely chopped
Coriander leaves - 2 to 3 sprigs, finely chopped
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Cumin/Jeera powder - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp + deep frying
Salt - to taste

For batter:
Besan/Kadalamavu - 1 cup
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida/Hing - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste

Method:

1. Boil the potatoes. Peel, mash well and set aside.

2. Heat oil and add onions, green chillies, ginger, curry leaves and hing. Fry till the onions become soft and translucent.

3. Add turmeric powder, cumin powder and saute for 1-2 minutes.

4. Add the mashed potatoes, salt and combine well. Add coriander leaves and mix well. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

5. Allow the mixture to cool. Once cool, make round balls out of the potato mixture.

6. In a bowl mix together besan, chilly powder, hing and salt. Add water little by little to make a thick batter.

7. Heat oil for deep frying. Dip the potato balls in the batter and slowly and gently drop into the oil.

8. Fry till golden on both sides and drain on a tissue paper.

Serve with coconut chutney.




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Mixed Vegetable Sambar


Vegetables cooked with pigeon peas/toor dal and spices and tempered with mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves




Sambar is a staple food in South India. Each of the South Indian states have a different way of preparing sambar. It can be made with a wide variety of vegetables. Most commonly used vegetables are small onion, drumstick, pumpkin, brinjal, radish, ladiesfinger, tomato, potato, carrot and capsicum. You can make with just one vegetable or a combination of any of the above vegetables. Sambar is made in two ways. One is using sambar powder and other using freshly grounded coconut and spices. This sambar is prepared using sambar powder.

Enjoy this piping hot sambar with a bowl of rice or with idli/dosa.


Ingredients:

Pigeon peas/Toor dal - 1 cup
Small onion - 8 to 10
Potato - 1 medium, boiled & cubed
Pumpkin - 1/2 cup, cubed
Vendakka/Ladiesfinger - 4 to 5, cut into 1" pieces
Carrot - 1 medium, cut into cubes
Sambar powder - 1½ tbsp
Tamarind - 1 lemon size ball
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tsp
Coriander leaves - to garnish

Tempering/Tadka:
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 2
Curry leaves - few
Asafoetida - a pinch

Method:

1. Wash and pressure cook the pigeon peas/toor dal with enough water and a pinch of turmeric powder. Mash and keep aside.

2. Soak the tamarind in 1½ cup water, extract the pulp and keep aside.

3. Heat 2 tsp oil. Add small onion, vendakka, carrot and fry till the onions become soft.

4. Add pumpkin, tamarind extract and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the vegetables in the tamarind extract till they are soft and tender.

5. Now add the potatoes, salt, sambar powder and mix well. Allow to boil for few minutes.

6. Add the mashed dal, combine and and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes.

7. Add red chilly powder and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

8. Heat oil in a tadka pan and add mustard seeds, red chillies and asafoetida. When crackling, add curry leaves and pour into sambar. Garnish with coriander leaves.


Serve hot with rice or idli/dosa.


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Grilled Tomato Cheese Sandwich


Simple grilled sandwich with tomato and cheese.

Sometimes we get bored of the everyday dosa, idli and upma or the oats and cornflakes for breakfast. On those days, sandwiches are an alternative. Make hearty and healthy sandwiches and serve with a glass of juice or milk for a filling breakfast. Sandwiches make a good lunch box option too. Have it with a fruit for a complete meal.

Tomato and cheese make a delicious combination. The juicy acidity of the tomato pairs well with cheese. Oregano gives a good flavor to tomato and cheese. You can even use mixed herbs instead of oregano. This serves for two people.


Ingredients:

Bread slices - 4
Tomato - 1 big
Cheese slices - 4
Mayonnaise - 2 tsp
Oregano - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Pepper - to taste
Butter - 1 to 2 tsp

Method:

1. Cut the tomato into thick slices and season with salt and pepper.

2. Cut the edges of the bread and spread mayonnaise on one side of each bread.

3. Keep a cheese slice on top of this and place 2 slices of tomato.

4. Sprinkle oregano on the tomato, keep another slice of cheese and cover with bread slice.

5. Spread butter on the outside of the bread.

6. Grill on a heated tawa or griddle for 2-3 minutes on each side till cheese is melted and bread turns golden brown.


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Cottage Cheese Guacamole


Avocado and cottage cheese dip.

Guacamole is an avocado based dip, originated in Mexico. Traditionally, it is made by mashing avocado along with onion, chillies, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, tomato and salt in a mortar and pestle and served with tortilla chips. You can also serve this dip with veggies like carrot, celery.

I have never eaten avocado before, so was little apprehensive about its taste and making a dip with it. Nevertheless I decided to make the classic Guacamole with the avocado. I added some cottage cheese to give a creamy and cheesy texture. The dip was yummy and bursting with flavors.


Some useful facts and tips about avocado and guacamole:

Avocado is a pear-shaped fruit with a yellow-green, smooth and buttery flesh. Avocados are a good source of vital nutrients, bone supportive vitamin K, vitamins B, E and folate. They are rich in fiber and healthy fats while naturally low in sugar and sodium.

How to choose avocado for guacamole?

Avocados must be perfectly ripe for a good guacamole. Unripe avocados have bright green skin and ripe ones have a deep purplish-black skin. Check for ripeness by gently pressing the outside of the avocado. If the avocado gives in, it's ripe. If there is no give in, it's not ripe. If the avocado feels very soft to the touch it may be very overripe.

(Image source: Hass Avacados)
How to store guacamole?

Serve guacamole immediately after preparing. For later use, chill it. To store guacamole, place it in an air-tight container, squeeze some lemon juice on top and cover with a plastic wrap on the surface of the guacamole before covering to help prevent oxidation. Store in the refrigerator. If refrigerated guacamole turns brown during storage, discard the top, browned layer and enjoy the rest.

And a debatable question. Is cottage cheese and paneer same? I thought they are the same, but there are minute differences. Both are soft cheese made from milk, but cottage cheese has a curd-like texture and not pressed unlike paneer which is pressed and made into blocks. Cottage cheese has salt, whereas paneer has no salt.


Off to the recipe!

Ingredients:

Ripe avocado - 1
Low fat cottage cheese - 4 tbsp
Garlic - 1, finely chopped
Red onion - 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Jalapeño - 1, de-seeded and finely chopped
Cilantro - 2 to 3 sprigs
Juice of half a lime/lemon
Salt - to taste
Pepper - to taste
Tortilla chips

Method:

1. Slice the avocado in the middle and scoop out the flesh. Mash it well.

2. Add cottage cheese and again mash well.

3. Add jalapeño, cilantro, onion, lime juice and blend everything in a mixie or food processor till smooth.

4. Transfer to a bowl, add salt & pepper and mix.

Serve with tortilla chips.


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Carrot Halwa | Gajar Ka Halwa


Sweet dish prepared from carrots and milk, garnished with cashew-nuts and pistachios.

Love is in the air! And the perfect way to celebrate is with a sweet dish and enjoy with your loved ones. Let's celebrate this Valentines Day with this tasty and nutritious carrot halwa.

Recipe is simple - 'Grate carrots, add milk just enough to immerse the carrots, cook the carrots in the milk and then add sugar, cardamom powder and cashew-nuts'. Sounds simple isn't it? Making this halwa involves two laborious steps. One is grating the carrots, lucky if you have a food processor which will reduce lot of time. And second is stirring continuously till the milk is completely evaporated. Here you have no choice to escape than keep stirring it! But the end is fruitful - you get a delicious and yummy halwa!

Ingredients:

Carrots - 3½ cup, grated
Milk - 3 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Ghee - 3 tbsp
Cashewnuts - 5 to 6, broken into small pieces
Pistachio - to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a non-stick pan. Fry the cashew-nuts till golden. Remove and keep aside.

2. To the same pan, add the grated carrots and fry for 2-3 minutes.

3. Then add the milk and bring to boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the flame to medium and stir continuously till the milk is evaporated.

4. Add sugar and combine well.

5. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, add the cardamom powder, fried cashew-nuts, remaining ghee and cook till it leaves the sides of the pan.


Notes:

1. Use a heavy bottomed non stick pan.

2. Use full fat milk to enhance the flavor of halwa.

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Banana Milkshake


Rich and frothy beverage made from banana, milk and vanilla ice-cream.

Make a delicious milkshake with added health benefits of bananas. Bananas are rich in fiber which keeps digestion regular and maintains low blood sugar. The high amounts of potassium in bananas can lower one's blood pressure and prevent the weakening of the body's bones. The vitamin B6 in bananas acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and plays a pivotal part in proper nervous system function, making one banana a day a healthy choice.

This is a refreshing and nutritious milkshake that is quick and easy to make. For a low fat shake, substitute ice-cream with yogurt or just blend together bananas, milk and vanilla essence.


Ingredients:

Banana - 1
Cold milk - 1 cup
Vanilla ice cream - 1 big scoop
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

Method:

1. Chop the banana into small pieces. Add the banana and 1/2 cup milk in a blender. Blend to a smooth consistency.

2. Add rest of the milk, ice cream, vanilla essence and blend till smooth.


Pour into glasses and serve immediately.


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Karuveppilai Poondu Kuzhambu | Curry Leaves Garlic Gravy


Tangy and spicy aromatic gravy infused with flavors of curry leaves and garlic.

Chef Damodaran's 'Suvaiyo Suvai' is one cookery show that I love to watch. I like his country-style cooking and his way of preparing a dish makes you drooling. He made this spicy, tangy and flavorful gravy in one of the episodes.

Curry leaves and garlic are two of my favorite herbs that I try to incorporate in most of my dishes. They have several health benefits.
  • Garlic has high anti-oxidants and helps in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. It’s a good anti-clotting herb and can prevent heart disease and cancer.
  • Curry leaf helps for good digestion and is a good remedy for nausea. Curry leaves are also known to improve eyesight and good for hair growth and color.
Enjoy this gravy with plain rice and poriyal or parippu sadam. It serves as an side-dish for idli, dosa, appam, pongal etc.

Ingredients:

Curry leaves/Karuveppilai - 1 cup
Garlic - 15 big cloves
Tomato - 1 big
Tamarind - 1 lemon size
Onion - 1 big, sliced
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder - 3 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Green chilly - 2, slit
Gingelly oil - 3 tbsp + 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

Tempering/Tadka:
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Whole red chillies - 2
Curry leaves - few

Method:

1. Heat 1 tsp oil and add curry leaves. Fry for 2-3 minutes.

2. Grind the curry leaves and tomato to a smooth puree.

3. Soak the tamarind in 1 cup hot water and extract the pulp. Keep aside.

4. Heat oil in a vessel and add the mustard seeds. When it pops, add urad dal, red chillies and curry leaves.

5. Add onions and fry till soft and translucent. Then add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for 2-3 minutes.

6. Lightly crush the garlic. Add the garlic and fry for 5-6 minutes.

7. Then add curry leaf- tomato puree, turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chilly powder, green chilly, salt and mix well.

8. Bring to boil. Once it starts to boil, add the tamarind extract and boil for 5 minutes. Simmer and cook to a semi-thick consistency.



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Vegetable Puffs


Crispy baked snack with potato, carrot, beans, green peas, onion filling using puff pastry sheets.

Making puffs at home is pretty easy if you have puff pastry sheets. Just make any filling with vegetables, stuff them in the sheets and bake them. Different kinds of stuffing can be prepared with vegetables of your choice.

Puffs are healthy snack as it is baked and you can sneak in lot of veggies in the filling. Serve with tomato ketchup.

Ingredients:

Puff pastry sheet - 1
Onion - 1 big, finely chopped
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tsp
Green chilly - 1, finely chopped
Potato - 2 medium, boiled and mashed
Carrot - 1/3 cup, finely chopped
Beans - 1/3 cup, finely chopped
Green peas - 1/3 cup
Cumin/Jeera - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius (400 degree Fahrenheit).

2. Keep the pastry sheets outside 30 minutes or thaw them as per the instructions in the packet.

For the stuffing:

1. In a pan heat oil and add jeera. When it crackles, add onions, pinch of salt and fry till onions turn golden around the corners.

2. Add ginger-garlic paste, green chillies and fry for 3-4 minutes.

3. Then add carrots, beans and green peas. Mix well and cook till the vegetables turn soft.

4. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chilly powder and mix well. Saute for 2 minutes.

5. Now add the mashed potatoes, salt and garam masala. Combine well and cook for 4-5 minutes.

6. Add the coriander leaves, mix well and remove from heat.

Vegetable Filling for Puffs

Arranging puffs and baking:

1. Carefully remove one pastry sheet and lay on a floured surface.

2. Cut it into 4 squares each. You can cut into smaller parts too.


3. Place a tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each part.

4. Slowly pull from one side and seal to the other end. Then seal off all other sides.


5. Place them on a baking tray and bake them at 200 degree Celsius for 20 minutes or until the top has turned golden brown.


Serve with tomato ketchup.


Notes:

1. Handle the pastry sheet as little as possible using a light careful touch to avoid stretching and damaging the layers.

2. Whenever cutting the pastry sheet, use a sharp knife.

3. If pastry sheet has become too soft to handle, refrigerate till firmer, approximately 10 minutes.

4. Do not put lot of stuffing into the pastry sheet.

5. The filling should be dry. Do not add any water to cook the vegetables.
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