April 28, 2009


Egg Sambal is typically a Malaysian dish but can be found in Indonesia too. I have tried it at various food stalls here in Singapore and always loved the tangy flavour. It seemed like the perfect thing to make after we got back from tiring 3-day vacation in Bali. Yes, I know. We should've come back revived and all that but thanks to the heat, that really didn't happen. I did manage to shop a bit for handmade soap and aromatherapy stuff so no complaints! 

Since I was really lazy to cook up anything, I didn't hardboil the eggs like they usually do for egg sambal. I fried them up and cut them into strips. The gravy used is very similar to the gravy base I made for stir-fried tofu. It made a great side-dish for a simple vegetable rice

Fried Egg Sambal Recipe

Eggs - 4
Tomato - 1, finely chopped
Onion - 1, finely chopped
Tomato paste / ketchup - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 3 pods, crushed
Tamarind paste - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander / malli / dhania powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Oil - 2 tsp + 2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Spring onions - 2 stalks for garnish (optional)

How to Make Fried Egg Sambal

1. Break the eggs into a bowl and mix well with salt. Pour onto a heated pan with 2 tsp oil and make a thick omelette. Once cooled a bit, cut into strips and keep aside. 

2. In the same pan, add 2 tsp oil and add the onions and garlic. Fry lightly until the onions turn soft and transparent. Take care not to burn them by maintaining the heat at medium-low.

3. Next, add the turmeric, coriander, chilli, salt and tamarind paste and fry for about a minute. Then add the chopped tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes break down and the oil separates from the sauce. 

4. Add the fried egg strips and mix well without breaking them too much. If the omelette is thick enough, the strips will hold their shape while mixing. Simmer for a minute or so, remove from fire, garnish wtih cilantro / spring onions and serve warm as a side to any rice dish or even roti. 

April 21, 2009


Olan is a true Kerala dish made with coconut milk and pumpkin as the main ingredients. I love the texture of the cooked beans (vanpayar is most common in olan) and the mild spices in this dish and make it now and then even as a side dish for roti. Olan is one of those dishes in a Kerala sadya that lends more variety than flavour since it's quite mild and doesn't necessarily hold its own when served with an avial or thoran.

So try this simple yet authentic Kerala Olan for this Onam this year and be surprised at how such simple ingredients can create such a magical dish.



3/4 cup black-eyed beans 
1 cup pumpkin, cubed 
3 - 4 green chillies 
1.5 cups coconut milk 
1/2 tsp Jeera / jeerakam powder
Salt to taste
To Temper:
2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
4 shallots sliced thin (optional)
A few curry leaves 

How to Make Olan

1. Soak the beans for atleast 5 hours and pressure cook for 3 whistles in 3 cups water. Set aside.  (I have once done this without soaking it and it came out fine. I am sure it depends on the kind of beans, the place and other factors so please soak them to be on the safer side)

2. Add the cubed pumpkin, slit green chillies, jeera powder and a little bit salt into a pan with 1 cup water and let it cook on a low fire until soft. Cook closed for best results but check to make sure it doesn't get too mushy. This shouldn't take more than 5-7 mins. 

3. Add the beans and 1/2 cup coconut milk to the cooked pumpkin pieces. At this stage, adjust water so that the curry is not too watery or dry. Ideally, there should be enough liquid to cover the pieces. Cook for another 4 mins or so on low fire. If you feel the curry is too watery, add 1 tsp rice flour mixed with 2 tbsp water and mix well. 

4. Add the rest of the coconut milk, adjust salt and heat through for not more than 2 mins.  Remove from fire. 

5. Heat oil and add all the ingredients for tempering. Once the shallots turn a golden brown (if using, otherwise just wait for the mustard seeds to pop), add it to the curry. Mix well and serve hot. 



- Back home, my mom makes this with ashgourd (kumbalanga) and cowpeas (vanpayar). This is said to the more authentic version, the one that we see in Kerala Sadya. The reason why pumpkin is not used or is used in addition to ashgourd is because of the other important dish in a sadya that already uses pumpkin - erissery

- You can use a mix of ashgourd and pumpkin, mix of yellow and white pumpkin or only yellow pumpkin, like I have done. Even with the beans there is a lot of flexibility. Cowpeas (Vanpayar) is the most common but sometimes people add the pods from yardlong beans (achinga payar).

April 13, 2009

Asparagus Thoran Recipe | Kerala Thoran Recipes

Yeah you read right. I actually made a thoran with asparagus and it tasted good enough for me to want to share it with you! I originally bought the asparagus to make some baked or grilled dish with it. That's the week I fell sick and couldn't think beyond the simplest recipes like rasam or thoran or dal chawal. So here you go.

April 8, 2009

Eggless Chocolate Melting Moments Recipe | Eggless Cookies

Eggless Chocolate Melting Moments RecipeHere's another easy-to-bake eggless cookie recipe for baking beginners - Melting Moments! Melting moments are classic cookies or biscuits that use cornflour along with normal flour for a melt-in-your-mouth texture. I added a twist to them by making it chocolate flavoured.

Eggless Chocolate Melting Moments RecipeI am sorry for not including the cup measurements. I was adding and subtracting ingredients on a hunch so my cup measurements all went out the window. You can use the culiverter tool on the bottom of the right sidebar to get measurements in cups in case you don't own a kitchen balance. Please don't let that deter the aspiring baker in you.

I don't have step by step pictures for this but its really not as complicated as a cake or a brownie. I do have a picture of the dough, which is not very pretty but I felt you'd like to see it.

Eggless Chocolate Melting Moments RecipeIts really simple with no complicated ingredients or steps. Not even an egg! So all you vegetarians out there, you can go for it too! Probably a good cookie to bake for easter too.

Eggless Chocolate Melting Moments Recipe
(makes 12)

125gm butter, at room temperature
60gm icing sugar + more for dusting
100gm plain flour / maida
25gm cornflour
20gm cocoa powder

How to Make Chocolate Melting Moments

1. Beat butter and sugar using a hand beater or an electric beater on low until smooth, creamy and combined.

2. Sift the plain flour, cornflour and cocoa together into a bowl (if you don't have a sieve, just make sure you mix them well until combined).

3. Add the flour mixture little at a time to the butter mixture and mix until its all combined.

Eggless Chocolate Melting Moments Recipe
4. Make small balls with the dough and press gently. Space them a good 2 inches apart on a tray. The cookies spread while baking. I didn't need to use a baking sheet, the cookies were quite well-behaved and didn't stick to the tray at all.

5. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C. It took about 30 mins to bake. Let it cool completely before removing from the tray and dusting with some icing sugar. Its hard to tell when its done because of the colour but I would recommend that you check after about 20 mins, probably by taking out just one cookie, letting it cool a bit and tasting it.

Eggless Chocolate Melting Moments Recipe

- You can store these for about 4 days in an air tight container.

- Its great to pack and send people, or to take to someone's house when you are visiting, which is what I did.

- If you want a more rounded shape for your melting moments, shape into balls and don't flatten. The cookies flatten as they bake so the rounder you start off, the more rounded the end result. I wanted flat ones, so I flattened the dough a bit.

This pic was taken 4 days after I made them. Still pretty and tasty, I can tell you ;)

Eggless Chocolate Melting Moments Recipe

April 6, 2009

Kathirikai Poriyal Recipe | Brinjal Poriyal Recipe

How to make Kathirikai Poriyal

I used to think that poriyal and thoran meant one and the same, the former being the tamil version of the latter. But the differences are quite stark, the most significant one being, thoran doesn't use any lentils in the recipe unless you use urad dal while tempering. Poriyal uses lesser coconut and more lentils, the type of lentils depending on which part of Tamil Nadu you are from. Would love to hear abour your versions too!

I don't have much else to say about this particular recipe except that its another kathirikai recipe from my huge list :) Since TH doesn't like coconut much, I tone down the amount in all my poriyal recipes (though the original Kerala thoran recipes are made my way!). Poriyal is his domain, so I don't mind making it his way ;)

April 3, 2009

Yellow Dal / Dal Tadka Recipe / Dal Fry Recipe / How to Make Dal

How to make Dal Tadka (Dal Fry)

Dal tadka or dal tarka is one of the easiest and most popular dal recipes in India. It's usually made with masoor or toor dal and mashed up with rice to make an easy and tasty meal that's rich in protein and carbs. While every household makes dal tadka differently, the basic ingredients remain the same - dal cooked and mashed, spices added, and tempered. The tempering is the most important part and even lends name to the dish - tadka means tempering in Hindi. 

While this is not a very popular style of making dal in Kerala, I figured this is useful for those who are away from home and looking for a simple dal recipe to satisfy their cravings and comfort their homesickness. 

Yellow Dal / Dal Tadka Recipe / Dal Fry Recipe / How to Make Dal
I had used the pictures of this recipe for one of my photography series posts - angles in food photography. Like I mentioned in that post, sometimes the simplest of dishes can make a great meal, like we enjoyed that weekend. I just wanted to jot down the recipe here for those of you looking for a comforting bowl of yellow dal for your dal chawal.

You may also want to check out other popular dal recipes like jeera dal, dal panchratan, and dal makhani. Browse all dal recipes here.

Yellow Dal / Dal Tadka / Dal Fry / How to Make Dal
Ingredients for Dal Tadka:
Toor dal - 1 cup
(you can also use masoor dal / red lentils)
Tomato - 1, cubed
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Asafoetida / hing - a pinch
Amchoor / dry mango powder - 1/2 tsp 
(if you want it tangy)
Sugar - a pinch (optional)
Salt - to taste
For Tempering:
Onion - 1/4 cup, chopped fine
Garlic - 3 pods crushed (optional)
Jeera / cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Dry red chillies - 3 to 4, halved
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
For Garnishing:
Chopped fresh coriander leaves (optional)

How to make Dal Tadka:

1. Pressure cook the dal, tomatoes and turmeric powder with 3 cups water. I cook it usually for 4 whistles since it takes longer to cook dal in Singapore. 3 whistles should usually be enough. If you don't have a pressure cooker, cook in a closed, thick-bottomed pan for about 20-30 mins until the dal is cooked soft. 

2. Heat oil in a pan and add the ingredients for tempering. Once the mustard seeds start to pop and the onions turn transparent, add the cooked dal. 

3. Next, add salt, hing, sugar and amchoor and mix well. If the dal is too thick, add some water. If too watery, let it remain on fire for longer until the desired consistency is reached. 

4. Garnish wtih coriander leaves and serve with steamed white rice, papad and pickles. YUM!

You will see that a lot of ingredients I add are optional. This is because the basic yellow dal recipe is plain and simple with minimum flavours. Customize according to your taste and use just the bare minimum ingredients. It tastes great any which way. Serve hot with rice and and a dollop of ghee

April 1, 2009

Simple White Bread | Basic White Bread | Step By Step Recipe

I first made bread when I was in Hyderabad. I'd tried no-knead bread and I used my OTG to bake it in. I didn't have a proper bread tray or any idea whatsoever what on earth I was doing! Yet, it came out fine and most importantly, edible.

Baking bread can be a bit daunting, especially for beginners. But something remarkable about it is the use of minimum ingredients, ones that are available all around the world! The technique and other stuff can be perfected in time but the idea is to take the first step.

Everyone loved my Butterscotch Blondies Step by Step Recipe and gave good feedback saying since it was step by step, it made it look less daunting. A lot of people tried it even though butterscotch chips was not easily available where they live. Many of you wrote to me with creative substitutes you used and some even sent me pictures. That was probably one of the most encouraging set of comments I have ever received.

Anyway, after my first attempt at bread, I tried again about a month ago, but this time I decided to go for the normal bread, the one where you need to knead it. The good part is, the ingredients are very very simple and easy to get everywhere.

I hope the step by step recipe makes it less scary for people to take the first step :) If you need to skip the pictures, please scroll to the end of the post for the complete recipe, in one place.

Simple White Bread - Step By Step Recipe

Make sure that you get some good quality active dry yeast.

1. Mix together 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast (1.5 tsp), 1 tbsp sugar and 1/2 cup warm water. Let it stand for 10 - 12 mins until the mixture starts to froth, like so.

If your yeast is not good enough or is nearing its expiry date, it won't froth much so that should be a good indicator.

Also, this mixture doesn't smell so good so if your husband or anyone else at home comes around saying "what the heck is that smell? what on earth are you making?", don't let that deter you. We can get back at them with the heavenly smell of baking bread very soon.

2. Measure out your flour next. You will need 2 cups of maida or all - purpose flour.

You can substitute half of this with atta or whole wheat flour if you want. Since atta is coarser than whole wheat flour, run it through your mixer once before using it.

3. Mix the flour gently into the yeast mixture with about 1/2 tsp salt, and knead until it all comes together. This dough will feel unbelievably silky. Sprinkle some flour while kneading it gets too sticky.

Ok, it may not look so silky or even smooth because I suck at shaping it out nicely and making it look pretty. But this is good enough, you will see. Make sure you rub in some olive oil (or butter) on the sides of the bowl to prevent the dough from sticking on too much.

Let this sit for an hour. You can cover it with some cling wrap. I didn't have any, so I cut up a thin plastic bag and used that instead.

5. After an hour, you will see that the dough has risen to almost double its size and that it looks quite uniform and pretty, unlike the previous picture. Always let nature (or yeast, in this case) do its own thing.

Note: its still not going to smell so good but like I said, ignore and keep going.

6. The next step is to knead down the dough a bit, on a floured surface.

If you are anything like me, you will be a bit tired by now, with all the measuring and the waiting and the photography. So call in your husband, or anyone else you can boss into helping you knead. You don't need to knead your palms off, just be slow and firm.

Make sure you interfere them while kneading and ask them to pose for a few pics. Its all in the game of bread-making.

PS: If you have a bread-making machine, then you fall into the category of people who I am jealous of, so don't rub it in by commenting and gloating about it, please.

7. After about 10 minutes of kneading, transfer the dough to a loaf tray that's dabbed with olive oil or butter on all sides. Don't go overboard with the dabbing though.

I used a pyrex glass loaf tray, and I blame it for this ugly picture. Cover this again with cling wrap / cut up plastic bag and let it sit for another hour.

8. It will rise again to almost double its size, like so.

If you touch the top of the dough, it will be s-o-f-t. Resist temptation to punch it down and play with it. Its time to bake your bread!

9. Pre-heat oven to 200 C / 390 F and bake for about 20 mins. The crust will turn a lovely golden brown.

This, my friends, will be the best smelling thing you have ever made! Trust me!

My crust got a little dry, but you can dab some butter or milk when it just comes out of the oven and you should be just fine. I didn't do this because I was too busy taking pictures!

10. Cut it into slices and store in an air-tight container for upto 3 days. I got about 9 slices so it didn't last that long.

Here is the recipe again, all in one place.

Simple White Bread Recipe
Makes one 8" loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour / maida
1/2 tbsp (1.5 tsp) yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp Salt
Olive oil or butter to grease

How to make Basic White Bread

1. Mix sugar, warm water and yeast together and leave aside for 10-12 mins until the mixture froths.

2. Mix in the flour and salt and knead gently. Place in a greased bowl covered with cling wrap for an hour, until the dough doubles in size.

3. Knead on a floured surface for 10 mins and transfer to a greased loaf tin. Cover with cling wrap and let it rise for another 1 hour. It will again double in size.

4. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 C / 390 F for about 20 mins until the crust turns golden brown.

5. Slice and enjoy!

We had this with some home made hummus when it was still warm, and let me tell you, the feeling that I created all this, was awesome!

Freshly baked white bread with hummus

Try it and drop a comment below, won't you?