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Mawa Gujiya | Khoya Gujiya

South vs North Challenge is an monthly challenge started by Divya Pramil, where every month South team and North team challenge each other with recipes from their region. This month, Santosh Bangar is the host of North team and she has challenged the South team with the delicious mawa gujiya. For the South team, Soumya has challenged the North team with kambu dosai.

Mawa gujiya or khoya gujiya is a traditional Indian deep fried sweet, specially made during the Indian festival Holi and also for Diwali. The outer layer is crispy with a flaky pastry while its moist and gooey inside with a rich stuffing made of khoya (milk solids), coconut, nuts, raisins and cardamom. This is a very addictive sweet and you can just stop at one or two. Gujiyas stay well for up to 8-10 days in an airtight container. Slightly warm the gujiya before serving them.


{ Deep fried pastry stuffed with khoya, nuts, raisins, coconut and cardamom }
Makes 10 medium gujiyas


For the dough:
1 cup maida / all purpose flour
1 tbsp ghee
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
½ cup mawa / khoya
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp grated coconut
6-8 almonds, chopped
1 tbsp raisins
1/8 tsp cardamom powder

For the sealant:
2 tsp maida / all purpose flour
2 tsp water

Oil to deep fry


1. For the dough, mix maida, salt and ghee in a bowl. Add warm water little by little to make a smooth dough. Cover with a wet towel and set aside for 30 minutes.

2. Fry the khoya  in low heat until it turns light brown. When it becomes warm, add sugar, coconut, almonds, raisins, cardamom powder and mix well.

3. For the sealant, take maida and water in a bowl and mix to form a paste.

4. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions. Roll out one ball into a thin circle. To make a perfect circle, use a round cookie cutter or small bowl.

5. Place a heaping teaspoon of the khoya filling on one half of the circle, then apply the sealant on the edges of the circle.

6. Bring the other half of the circle, fold it and press the edges. Using a fork, press the edges to seal completely.

7. Prepare the remaining gujiyas and keep them covered until frying. Once all gujiyas are done, heat oil to deep fry.

8. Fry the gujiiyas in batches of two-three on medium heat until golden. Drain them on a paper towel.

Notes and Tips
  • Do not add sugar to the khoya while its hot. It will make the filling watery.
  • Make sure to seal the edges properly otherwise the gujiya will break and filling will ooze out while frying.
  • Try to avoid flour for dusting while rolling the dough. If dough is sticky, add some more flour and knead well.

Kothamalli Thogayal | Coriander Thogayal

Thogayals are an excellent accompaniment for rice and comes handy on busy days or when you are lazy to make an elaborate lunch. Thogayals can be made with just coconut, or with vegetables and herbs. It goes well with plain rice as well as with a simple rasam. 

This thogayal is made with fresh coriander leaves and is spicy, tangy and flavorful. It pairs well with rasam, molagootal and also with other South Indian kuzhambu (gravies). I love to have it with some plain rice drizzled with ghee or gingelly oil. Kothamalli thogayal and curd rice make a great combo too! Its great way to finish off coriander leaves that need to be used up soon. This thogayal stays fresh for 3-4 days refrigerated in an airtight container.


{ Spicy dry chutney with coriander leaves, coconut, shallots, tamarind }
Serves 2


1 cup tightly packed coriander leaves
2-3 small onion / shallots
1 clove garlic
½  tsp tamarind paste / marble sized tamarind
3 tbsp grated coconut
2 tsp gingelly oil
1 tbsp urad dal / ulatham paruppu
2 tsp chana dal / kadalai paruppu
3-4 dry red chillies
1/8 tsp asafoetida / hing
Salt to taste


1. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Add urad dal, chana dal, red chillies and asafoetida. Fry till the dals turn golden. Set aside.

2. In same pan, add remaining 1 tsp oil. Add small onions, garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then add coconut, tamarind and fry for 1-2 minutes.

3. Lastly add the coriander leaves and saute for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

4. Allow it to cool. Grind them along with dals, chillies and salt to a coarse paste, adding little water if necessary.

Notes and Tips
  • You can use coconut oil or any other cooking oil instead of gingelly oil.
  • You can also use the tender stems of the coriander leaves for the thogayal. Roughly chop them up before adding.
  • The thogayal is on the spicier side, so reduce chillies according to your spice level.

Cheesecake Cupcakes

For this month's Home Bakers Challenge started by Priya of Priya's Versatile Recipes, Siri Nuggehalli of The Brave Cook gave some wonderful options to bake from macarons, whoopie pies to neapolitan cakes and cheesecakes. I chose to bake this highly additive cheesecake cupcakes.

This cupcakes are like mini baked cheesecakes. Though the original recipe calls for vanilla wafers as base, I wanted a crushed biscuit base as in regular cheesecakes. I also added some lemon zest to give a kick to the sweet cream cheese layer. Unlike the regular baked cheesecakes which takes lot of time to make and set, these cupcakes can be put together quickly and just need few hours to chill. You can serve them with fresh berries or top with a berry sauce or jam.


{ Cupcakes with biscuit base and cream cheese filling, topped with berries }
Recipe Source ~ Kraft Recipes
Makes 6 cupcakes


For the base:
6 digestive biscuits
25 gms butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
250 gms cream cheese
100 gms sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp lemon zest

For the topping:
Chocolate sauce


1. Preheat the oven to 150 C | 300 F. Line 6 muffins cups with paper liners.

2. Crush the biscuits roughly and process them in a food processor or mixie to fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and mix well.

3. Place a heaping tablespoon of the biscuit crumb on to the bottom of each muffin cup. Press them evenly with a spoon or finger tips. Cover and refrigerate till filling is done.

4. Beat cream cheese in a low speed until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar and beat until combined. Add egg, vanilla extract, lemon zest and beat until incorporated.

5. Spoon the cream cheese filling equally over the biscuit base.

6. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 150 C | 300 F or until firm. Allow to cool them completely. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

7. Top the cupcakes with chocolate sauce and halved strawberries.

Notes and Tips
  • Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.
  • Instead of chocolate sauce, you can top with caramel sauce or berry jam. If using jam, just warm the jam a little and spoon over the cupcakes.

Kerala Kadala Curry

Puttu and kadala curry is the most popular and staple breakfast combinations in Kerala. Anyone visiting Kerala should never miss to try this heavenly combination. This Kerala style kadala curry is made using black chickpeas, simmered in an aromatic and spicy gravy of roasted spices and coconut. This curry is also served as a side dish to appam and idiyappam.

Most of the Sundays amma makes puttu and kadala curry for breakfast. Mind you this is a very heavy breakfast, so a light lunch is prepared on those days. To get the authentic taste, I highly recommend using coconut oil only to make this curry. Even if you don't make puttu or appam, you can relish this flavorful curry with dosa, chapathi or poori. The curry stays fresh in the fridge for up to two days.


{ Black chickpeas simmered in roasted coconut and spices gravy }
Serves 4


1 cup black chickpeas
1 big onion, chopped
½ tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp mustard seeds
Pinch of asafoetida / hing
1 sprig curry leaves
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
Salt to taste

To roast and grind:
2 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp fennel seeds / perumjeerakam
6 - 8 dry red chillies
½ of medium sized onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove (optional)
½ cup grated coconut


1. Wash and soak chickpeas overnight. Drain the water and add fresh water enough to immerse the chickpeas and pressure cook until soft.

2. Drain the chickpeas. Do not throw the water away. The water will be used for the gravy.

3. Heat 2 tsp oil in a small pan. Add coriander seeds, fennel seeds, red chillies, onion, garlic and coconut. Roast until the coconut turns dark brown. Cool and grind to a smooth paste.

4. Heat 1 tbsp oil and add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add curry leaves, asafoetida and onions. Fry till the onions become soft and translucent.

5. Then add ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder and saute for a minute. Add the ground coconut paste and fry for a minute.

6. Add 2 cups of the reserved chickpeas water, salt and mix well. Bring to a boil and let it boil for 2-3 minutes.

7. Add the cooked chickpeas and mix well. Add water if its thick and boil for 2-3 minutes. Cover and simmer it for 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Notes and Tips
  • The gravy will thicken up a little after sometime, so add sufficient water and adjust the consistency of gravy.
  • Adjust the amount of chillies according to your spice level. The amount of chillies mentioned makes a spicy curry.
  • Roasting the ingredients to dark brown color is essential, otherwise the taste and color of curry will vary.

Vegetable Poha Upma | Masala Aval Upma

Upma is the typical breakfast item in many South Indian households. It is easy to prepare and can be done in very less time. There are different varieties of upma made with rava (semolina), semiya (vermicelli), broken wheat (gothambu rava), etc and even leftover bread and idli. Aval upma is another kind of upma made with flattened rice flakes. It is a very healthy and tasty breakfast dish and quick to prepare too. 

I have incorporated vegetables in this upma making it a filling and nutritious upma recipe. The addition of spice powders adds a lovely zest to the otherwise bland poha. I also make a simpler version of aval upma without the vegetables and masala, which I will be posting sometime later. This is an ideal recipe for working people and who have little time in the mornings to make breakfast. It makes a great lunch box recipe as well as a delightful evening snack. Serve this delicious upma hot with a bowl of curd or a sprinkle of sugar.


{ Flattened rice flakes with vegetables, peanuts and spices }
Serves 2 - 3


2 cups thick poha / aval
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
1 small carrot, finely chopped
5-6 green beans, finely chopped
1/4 cup green peas
2 tbsp peanuts
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chilly powder
¾ tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves

For the tempering:
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp split urad dal
2 dry red chillies
¼ tsp cumin seeds / jeera
¼ tsp asafoetida / hing
1 sprig curry leaves


1. Cook the vegetables until soft. I usually cook them for 3 minutes in microwave. Or you can steam them for 3-4 minutes.

2. Wash and soak the poha in enough water just to immerse it. Soak for 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

3. Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When it starts spluttering add urad dal, jeera, red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves. Fry till dal turns golden.

4. Add the peanuts and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then add onions and fry till the edges are slightly brown. Add the green chillies, ginger and fry for 2 minutes.

5. Add turmeric powder, red chilly powder, coriander powder, garam masala and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the cooked vegetables and saute for 2-3 minutes.

6. Add poha, salt and mix well. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Notes and Tips
  • You can also add other vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower and capsicum. For 2 cups of poha add 1 cup of any mixed vegetables.
  • You can squeeze in some lemon at the end if you want a bit of tang.

Gazpacho | Spanish Cold Tomato Soup

This month for the International Food Challenge, we are heading to Spain and Sharanya of Just Not The Cakes, the host for this month chose the Andalusian cuisine. Andalusia is one of the most populous and second largest communities in Spain. The cooking in Andalusian cuisine is dominated by the use of olive oil. I chose to make Gazpacho soup which is the most popular dish of this region.

Gazpacho is a tomato based vegetable soup, traditionally served cold. This soup is eaten often in the southern part of Spain called Andalusia. Gazpacho is widely consumed during the summer months as its very refreshing and healthy to have on a hot day. The soup base is made from tomatoes and served with fresh vegetables, croutons for crunchiness and a drizzle of olive oil. You can serve some toasted bread or crostini alongside this soup for a complete meal.

The soup should not be watery or thin, so addition of stale bread helps in thickening the soup. You can use either green or red capsicum, but I used both to balance the flavor of tomatoes with slight bitterness from green capsicum and sweetness from red capsicum. Olive oil adds creaminess to the soup, so add lots while blending the soup and some extra while serving. Gazpacho is an ideal make-ahead recipe that just gets better with time. Make this soup as an appetizer or serve with some toasted bread as a main dish.


{ Spanish Cold Tomato Soup }
Recipe Source ~
Serves 3 - 4


6 large tomatoes
1 medium sized cucumber
1 medium sized green capsicum
1 medium sized red capsicum
1 medium sized red onion
1 clove garlic
¼ cup / 50 ml olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp cumin powder
6 bread slices
2 tbsp olive oil, for croutons
1 celery stalk with leaves
¼ cup blanched almonds
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Cut a cross in the base of each tomato and then blanch them in batches in a pan of boiling water Transfer to a bowl of iced water and cool.

2. Peel the skin, halve them and remove the seeds. Place the halved tomatoes in a bowl and strain the seeds and juice over the tomatoes.

3. Remove the crusts from bread. Soak 3 slices in a bowl of water for 10 minutes, then squeeze out excess water and set aside.

4. Cut onion, cucumber, capsicum into half and remove seeds from cucumber and capsicums. Roughly chop one half of the cucumber, capsicums and onion.

5. Process soaked bread and garlic in a food processor until a paste forms. Add tomatoes and roughly chopped vegetables and process until smooth.

6. With motor running, gradually add olive oil, then add vinegar, lemon juice and cumin. Strain the soup and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

7. Refrigerate soup for 1 hour to chill or overnight until ready to serve.

8. Meanwhile finely chop the remaining onion, cucumber,capsicums and celery stalks with leaves. Keep them separately.

9. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat and add almonds. Cook tossing until golden and remove from pan.

10. Cut the remaining bread slices into small cubes. Heat oil over medium heat in the same pan and add bread cubes. Cook tossing until golden.

11. Serve chilled gazpacho drizzled with extra olive oil and with vegetable accompaniments, croutons and almonds passed separately.

Notes and Tips
  • Use fresh and ripe tomatoes. Choose tomatoes that are not too sour.
  • Use white vinegar if sherry vinegar is not available.