September 27, 2011

Food Photos Prop Shopping - New York!

What do food photographers enjoy more than cooking, clicking, and eating? Food photo prop shopping of course! Ok, if you don't agree, that's a bit embarrassing because that just means I have an unhealthy interest in shopping.

But anyway, this is a new series i Edible Garden - Food Photos Prop Shopping! I take pictures, sometimes discreetly, of pretty much any shop I pick up random stuff in. Some of them don't allow pics so they won't be elaborate but folks at Fishs Eddy seemed to have no problem so I clicked away to glory.

Prop Shopping in New York

Special thanks to Cool Lassi for taking us here and to Deepti and Mittu for urging me to take pics although I was feeling lazy and my feet were killing me. This post is dedicated to you three!! :)

Ok here we go, feast your eyes guys!

Prop Shopping in New York

Prop Shopping in New York

We all know white works best for food pics.

Prop Shopping in New York

But in case you want some colour in your life, they have you covered!

Prop Shopping in New York

Prop Shopping in New York

And what colour it is! Especially loved this section with all the gorgeous cake stands and plates and cups. You can pick up any pieces individually or as sets.

Prop Shopping in New York

Pretty, unusually shaped (to me atleast), wine glasses from Italy. They were all transparent btw, the white papers were inserted inside to show off the designs on the glasses I presume.

Prop Shopping in New York

The storageware section was very nice, although small in comparison to the rest of the store.

Prop Shopping in New York

I especially loved these milk bottles, so darn cute!

Prop Shopping in New York

In case the prices seem a bit too much for you, and I must say they are not exactly all cheap, then you head to these on-sale areas and pick out gorgeous stuff for as less as 99 cents. There was a flatware sale going on and Cool Lassie picked out a few stuff.

I wanted to get those mason jar mugs with handles and even picked out two but then decided to come back and explore again when I was less tired and more in the mood for it. Ironically, I didn't get a picture of that!

Prop Shopping in New York

This is what greets you when you go in. They are ceramic glove moulds from actual glove factories!

Prop Shopping in New York

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to Fishs Eddy and go crazy!

You can also shop online: Website

Fishs Eddy
889 Broadway at 19th Street
New York, NY 10003

Would love to hear your thoughts on this new series highlighting food props shopping ideas. Like it? Love it? Meh? Let me know!!

Disclaimer: This is not a paid review. To Fishs Eddy, I am just a crazy lady taking pictures of random things in their store. 

September 24, 2011

Kathirikai Chana Pitlai - Pitlai Recipe - Tamil Brahmin Recipes

Pitlai is a Tamil Brahmin recipe using some basic vegetables and cooked in a coconut-based gravy. Pitlai is a good side dish with rice and any kuzhambu and here's the story of how I first made and tasted Pitlai with my MIL.

I had never heard of pitlai before I tasted this in July this year when we were in Coimbatore at the in-laws' place. MIL had made this Kathirikai Chana pitlai for for lunch the day we landed and much like everything else she cooks, it was delicious.

channa pitlai recipe

I have learnt so much from her style of cooking, not to mention all the super easy yet delicious Tamil Brahmin recipes. Pitlai to me seemed like a mash-up between sambar and kootu but has a distinct flavour of its own too.

You may also like this cumin rasam recipe of hers, or maybe palak pulao, one of my favourites.

Note that pavakkai pitlai and kathirikkai pitlai (pitlai with bitter gourd or brinjal / eggplant) are the popular pitlai recipes that show up in Brahmin homes all the time.

Chana Pitlai Recipe

Serves 6-8 people

1 lemon-sized ball of tamarind
1/2 cup of cooked and mashed toor dal
1/2 cup of grated coconut
1 tbsp of sambar powder
1 pinch of hing / asafoetida / perungaayam
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 cup of cooked channa / chickpeas (soak overnight and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles or used canned chickpeas)
1 small eggplant, cut into cubes
A pinch of jaggery
Salt to taste
For Masala:
4-5 of dry red chillies
3 tbsp of kadala paruppu / Bengal gram / channa dal
4 tbsp of coriander seeds / daniya / malli
A few of fenugreek seeds
For Tempering:
1 tbsp ghee or oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
A few curry leaves
1/2 cup grated coconut

How to Make Pitlai:

1. Soak the tamarind in water. Extract juice and discard the pulp. Transfer the tamarind juice to a cooking pan and add salt, sambar powder, some turmeric powder, hing, eggplant and cooked channa. Keep in mediam flame and cook for about 20 mins.

2.  In the mean time fry the masala in a little oil until nicely browned. Cool slightly and grind it in to paste along with 1/2 cup of coconut.

3. Check on the boiling tamarind mixture now. Once the eggplant is cooked and soft, add the cooked toor dal, mix well and bring to boil. Then add the ground masala paste with some jaggery, bring to boil and remove from fire.

4. Heat oil or ghee for tempering and add the rest of the ingredients. When the coconut has turned golden brown, add to the pitlai and mix well.

Serve hot with rice and mor kuzhambu.

September 21, 2011

Betel Leaves Rasam / Vethalai (Vetta) Rasam Recipe

When you have people like my athamma (appa's sister) and amma at home, there's no dearth of cooking inspiration. My athamma of the welcome drink recipe fame, made this vethalai rasam one day and my amma seeing how unique it is, immediately tried it at home, made my mama (her brother) take pics, and sent them to me.

Betel Leaves Rasam / Vethalai (Vetta) Rasam Recipe

I must add that the cherry tomatoes you see in the pic were grown by her and the vethalai is also from our front yard. To say my mom has a green thumb would be an understatement. I could go on and on about that so I will save it for another post maybe.

Betel leaves or vethalai are used traditionally in India for making paan. It's widely used all over the country for this purpose and in the south, it's also considered auspicious and makes it's way into weddings and other ceremonies where you would use it to give dakshinai to your elders and take their blessings. I am not good at explaining traditional practises but they are fascinating to say the least. You must look it up if this sort of stuff is interesting to you.

Betel Leaves Rasam / Vethalai (Vetta) Rasam Recipe

Back to the rasam recipe. In Kerala, or we Reddiars atleast, make rasam quite differently from how the Brahmins and the tamilians make it so don't pounce on me saying this is not authentic and other such useless things. This is how we make rasam, the end.

Betel Leaves Rasam / Vethalai (Vetta) Rasam Recipe

Serves 4-6 people

3 cups of water
2 medium-sized of tender betel leaves / vethalai / vetta
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp of jeera / cumin powder
6 flakes of garlic (the small Indian variety)
Asian shallots
4-5 cherry tomatoes or 1 medium-sized regular tomato
1/4 tsp of black pepper powder
A small lemon-ball-sized tamarind
2 sprigs of curry leaves
1 generous pinch of perungayam / hing / asafoetida / kaayam
1 tbsp of oil or ghee
Salt to taste

How It's Made:

1. Soak the tamarind in the water for a few mins. Extract juice and discard the pulp. Set aside.

2. Roughly grind the garlic and shallots together in a pestle and mortar or small mixer.

3. Heat oil in a pan and add some mustard seeds. When they pop, add the crushed garlic-shallot mixture along with the hing. After frying it for about 20 seconds, add the pepper powder, turmeric powder, and jeera (you can add some red chilli powder too if you want more heat) and fry a bit longer. Take care not to burn the spices. Add the tomatoes and fry until soft.

4. Add the tamarind water with some salt and the curry leaves and bring to boil. After about 5 mins of boiling, add the vethalai leaves, each torn into four. Remove from fire and serve hot with rice.

Betel Leaves Rasam / Vethalai (Vetta) Rasam Recipe

Note that you ideally shouldn't garnish this rasam with coriander leaves because that may overpower the flavour of the betel leaves. Curry leaves are fine but you can avoid that if you'd like too

Let me know if you try this, I haven't done so yet, need to get my hands on some betel leaves first!

September 19, 2011

Eataly Italian Restaurant, New York

Based on the recommendations from a friend, Iris and I decided to head to Eataly for brunch on Sunday. I really wasn't prepared for the visual and sensory treat that was Eataly.

Eataly Italian Restaurant, New York

It's a market-style restaurant where there are eating stations between the product isles. The amount of stuff you can buy is endless, and everything is Italian-food related.

Eataly Italian Restaurant, New York

Olives in jars.

Eataly Italian Restaurant, New York

Different cuts of meat and fish.

Eataly Italian Restaurant, New York

Freshly made pasta. *drool*

Eataly Italian Restaurant, New York

Bottled pasta sauces from popular chefs.

Eataly Italian Restaurant, New York

Fresh bread and focaccia. Really, endless!

Eataly Italian Restaurant, New York

We ordered a cheese platter that came with 5 cheeses, come cuts of meat, fruit preserve, and fresh artisan bread. And because I knew I wouldn't be able to remember the names of the cheeses, I took a picture of the name board. Price: USD 22++

Eataly Italian Restaurant, New York

Here you go. The fresh ricotta was amazing and unlike anything I've ever tasted. My favourite was the Parmiggiano Reggiano though. Amazing flavour!

Eataly Italian Restaurant, New York

After a 30-min wait, we also tried some pasta. Simple ravioli cooked up in some butter. The flavour was simple and mindblowing. Price: USD 18++

Eataly Italian Restaurant, New York

If you are ever in New York, definitely head up to Eataly. The food is not cheap but it's fresh, authentic, simple, and delicious. You can also shop the stores for some great ingredients and cook up an Italian meal yourself too.


200 5th AVENUE
NEW YORK, NY 10010
Entrances on 5th Avenue and 23rd Street

** all pics taken on my phone camera (HTC Evo)**

September 16, 2011

Muringayila Thoran-Kerala Thoran Recipe-Drumstick Leaves cooked with Coconut

Drum stick leaves will always remind me of my maternal grand mom and her immense patience when it came to cooking. As I type this, I can imagine her squatting on the kitchen floor, her tongue flicking out now and then to wet her lips as she plucks out each leaf with great concentration.

Muringayila Thoran-Kerala Thoran Recipe-Drumstick Leaves cooked with Coconut 

Needless to say, I did this extremely time-consuming task watching tv and recruited TH to help me too. He did it with an expression that seemed to say "why are we doing this again? I don't feel compelled to eat this thing if prepping it is such a pain you know". I ignored it and kept plucking diligently until I had a large plate full of fresh drum stick leaves.

Muringayila Thoran-Kerala Thoran Recipe-Drumstick Leaves cooked with Coconut

Then I realised I didn't know how exactly aatha (amma's amma in Reddiar telugu) cooked this so I called amma. She told me you need to rub the leaves with the spices you are going to use and then cook in a low flame with water sprinkled over it. This is how amma makes most thoran although I cook the vegetable first before adding spices. For the drumstick leaves, I decided to go the aatha way.

Also check out drumstick leaves rasam and drumstick sambar recipe.

Muringayila Thoran-Kerala Thoran Recipe-Drumstick Leaves cooked with Coconut

Muringayila Thoran / Drumstick Leaves cooked with Coconut

Serves 2
Recipe Source: Amma, Aatha

4 cups drumstick leaves  muringayila
1 cup grated coconut (adjust amount to taste)
1 tsp red chilli powder
A large pinch of turmeric
2 shallots
1/2 tsp jeera / cumin powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds

How I Made It:

1. Remove the drum stick leaves from the stems. Wash thoroughly.

2. Add salt, turmeric and red chilli powder to the washed leaves. Set aside for 30 mins. It will let out water.

3. Grind coconut coarsely with the shallots and cumin powder.

4. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the marinated leaves, stir around to combine. Cook closed on low heat for about 5 mins. Open, add the ground coconut mixture and stir well again.

5. Cook closed for another 5-10 mins until the leaves are cooked through and soft. Make sure you mix in between to prevent browning at the bottom.

Serve with rice and any pulusu / kozhambu of choice.

Muringayila Thoran-Kerala Thoran Recipe-Drumstick Leaves cooked with Coconut

September 12, 2011

Vegetarian Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap) Recipe

I love Korean food. The flavours are amazing and I love those tiny dishes of so many different things they serve along with their meals. I love the small, steel, tiffin box type thing they serve rice in, it's all just so lovely.

Kimchi is an integral part of every household and apparently there are more than a hundred varieties of kimchi. My Korean colleague tells me that her mom makes it in bulk and stores it, especially when the cabbage used to make Kimchi is in season. My favourite Korean dish is Bibimbap, closely followed by grilled Saba fish, mainly because it's a great one pot meal and has pretty much everything a meal should contain. The sauce that comes with it is nice and flavourful and adequately spicy for my Indian palate.

Vegetarian Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap) Recipe

I hope to make a vegetarian version of Bibimbap at home some day. When I went on a whirlwind trip to Seoul in July this year (pictures are here), I brought back some vegetarian Kimchi from the amazing variety that was available in the Seoul airport. There were two options for vegetarian Kimchi and I picked the one that looked redder and spicier. It didn't disappoint. I whipped up some super delicious fried rice with it, and here's the recipe.

Vegetarian Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap) Recipe

Vegetarian Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap) Recipe

Serves 2 people

2 cups of cooked rice (I used regular ponni rice)
1 cup vegetarian kimchi
1 onion, sliced
2-3 spring onion, chopped into 3" pieces
2 tsp of Asian sesame oil (or any oil you have in hand)
2 eggs (optional)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper powder

How I Made It:

1. Heat the oil and add the minced garlic. Fry for 30 seconds and then add the onion. Fry until soft and transparent.

2. Now add the kimchi and the cooked rice, stir well to incorporate and heat through until well combined. Adjust salt and add pepper powder.

3. You can top off each bowl with a fried egg, that's how fried rice is normally served in Korea. You can also scramble the egg and incorporate that into the fried rice.

For a non-vegetarian version, add boiled chunks of meat of choice to the garlic and oil, fry for a bit and proceed with the rest of the steps.

Vegetarian Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap) Recipe

September 9, 2011

Cherupayar Payasam (Kerala Parippu Payasam) | Onam Recipes

Payasam is often the most looked-forward to item in any Kerala Sadya or during Onam when sadya preparations start in earnest. Every year that I was home, Amma would ask what payasam we would like for Onam and I would always opt for the jaggery based Kerala-style payasams that are deep brown, sweet, coconut-scented and just totally awesome. I have started making payasam at home on rare occasions and this is my first attempt at making Cherupayar Payasam which turned out quite good.

Cherupayar Payasam (Kerala Parippu Payasam) | Onam Recipes

Being away for Onam for the past 6 years, one would imagine I would be used to the acute feeling of homesickness each time. Nope. Doesn't look like that's happening.

Although I had resolved to get more involved in cooking for festivals, I failed miserably for Onam this year. A sudden work trip took me away from home and I didn't even have my camera with me to do something about it.

Cherupayar Payasam (Kerala Parippu Payasam) | Onam Recipes

Anyway, what's all that in the face of a good, warm (or cold) bowl of payasam, eh? Any payasam with sharkkara (vellam or jaggery) is my absolute favourite. Of course, TH can't stand jaggery and won't even come near anything made with it but each time I go home to Kerala, I bring back two of these jaggery balls and store them in the fridge. Leave out for a few mins before grating with a knife if you like to do the same. I prefer this darker, no-salt version to the white terribly salty versions that seem to be available everywhere outside Kerala. Use this for a genuine Kerala flavour to anything with jaggery.

This jaggery is also the reason for the deep brown colour for my sweet modak poornam filling.

Cherupayar Payasam (Kerala Parippu Payasam) | Onam Recipes

Although kadala parippu payasam is also a favourite, I decided to go with cheru payar (moong dal or pasi paruppu) this time. This Kadala Parippu pasayam is another favourite jaggery-based South Indian payasam. Browse more Payasam Recipes for Onam.

Cherupayar Payasam (Kerala Parippu Payasam)

Serves 4

1/4 cup of cheru payar / pasi paruppu / moong dal
3/4 cup more or less of grated jaggery (or brown sugar, but it's a poor substitute)
3 heaping tbsp of ghee
10 plain, unsalted cashewnuts
A few of raisins
1 cup of thick coconut milk (onnaam paal)
3-4 cups of thin coconut milk (rendaam paal)
4-5 cardamom pods, crushed


1. Roast the parippu in a dry pan until it turns golden brown.

Cherupayar Payasam (Kerala Parippu Payasam) | Onam Recipes

2. Add the thin coconut milk (rendaam paal) and pressure cook for 5-6 whistles until mushy.

In hindsight, I probably should have left some whole dal in there too, for some texture. I think I mashed it up too much.

Cherupayar Payasam (Kerala Parippu Payasam) | Onam Recipes

3. Add some water to the grated jaggery and heat it on medium flame until it begins to melt. Stir well until the jaggery fully melts, strain, and mix in with the cooked dal.

Cherupayar Payasam (Kerala Parippu Payasam) | Onam Recipes

4. Return the dal mixture to the fire, bring to boil and add the thick coconut milk. Heat through, add the crushed cardamom and remove from fire. Do not boil after adding the thick coconut milk.

Cherupayar Payasam (Kerala Parippu Payasam) | Onam Recipes

5. Now, heat the ghee in a pan and add the cashew nuts and raisins. When the nuts turn golden brown and the raisins have puffed up, remove and add to the payasam. Mix well.

Cherupayar Payasam (Kerala Parippu Payasam) | Onam Recipes


1. I used canned coconut milk so I think it was thicker than I expected. My payasam turned out thicker than I am used to eating back home but it was still very tasty and I couldn't sense any difference in flavour.

2. Don't mush up the dal too much, leave some bits whole for some added texture.

Also, Happy Onam everyone :)

September 4, 2011

Murugan Idli Kadai Idli Recipe-Soft Idli Recipe

The only South Indian restaurant in Singapore TH and I seem to visit now is Murugan Idli Kadai. Ironically, I've tried their idlis only once and they were... okay. I still prefer homemade idlis and would pick their masala dosa over idli any day. For a detailed post on how we make idlis at home, please check the regular idli recipe post.

Anyway, the one time that we did eat idlis at Murugan Idli Kadai, I happened to ask for the recipe. It was cheeky, but I did it anyway. As many pointed out later, this recipe is also posted on their website.

Murugan Idli Kadai Idli Recipe

Here's how that story went. We were eating away to glory wondering whether we should ask someone for yet another refill of chutney when the chef came out for something, smiled at us and said "chutney venuma?" (would you like some chutney?). I said "vendaam" and after a pause "idli romba super aa irukku, idhukku entha proportion-le arisi uluthamparuppu arappeenge". (No thank you. Btw, your idlis are superb, what proportion of rice to urad dal do you use for the batter).

Murugan Idli Kadai Idli Recipe

Now I don't need to tell you that this question is quite cheeky. It's almost like going into KFC and asking what goes into their fried chicken crust. But surprisingly, the cook didn't even hesitate before saying "veettule pannaa namma arisi jaasthi poduvom. naange inge pannumbothu ulutham paruppu konjam jaasthiya poduvom, athuthaan ungalakku nalla soft idli tharum. 2 glass arisi edutheenganna oru glass ulutham paruppu podunga. appadiye, oru chinna spoon menthayam, apram oru pidi soru. correct aa varum"*

This was the first time I was hearing about adding cooked rice to the idli batter but who was I to argue with the cook at Murugan Idli Kadai. I nodded happily, came home, and forgot all about it.

Murugan Idli Kadai Idli Recipe

Eventually, my memory did kick start again and I tried idli as per his recommended recipe. It was strictly average. Then I tried again and the second time, it came out brilliantly.

Murugan Idli Kadai Idli Recipe

Preparation time: 3 hours
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes ~ 20 idlis

Ingredients for the Idli Batter:
2 cups of par-boiled ponni rice
1 cup of whole, husked urad dal / ulutham paruppu / uzhunnu parippu
1/4 tsp of fenugreek seeds / menthayam / uluva
A handful of cooked rice
Salt to taste

How to Make Idlis:

1. Soak the rice and dal separately, the dal for about an hour and the rice for about 4 hours. Add the fenugreek seeds to the urad dal while soaking.

2. Grind the urad dal first, with just enough water to grind it to a smooth paste. Once done, remove and set aside.

3. Next, grind the soaked rice. When its almost done but still grainy, add the cooked rice and salt. Grind until smooth and add to the already ground urad dal.

4. Fold together until well combined. Leave in a warm place undisturbed for atleast 8 hours or overnight. Leave enough room in the vessel for the batter to ferment and rise.

5. Once fermented and risen, mix well to let all the air bubbles to escape and the batter to come together well. Don't overbeat, and if its too thick, add a little water. For idlis, the batter should be slightly thick but of pouring consistency.

6. Pour into oiled indli moulds and steam for not more than 12 minutes. Overcooking idlis can result in very hard idlies and a dry crust on top. Its better to undercook them even, but make sure you don't overcook idlis.

Murugan Idli Kadai Idli Recipe

Serve hot with chutney and sambar.

Makes about 20 idlis


- the urad dal : rice proportion is always debatable. Although this recipe seems like the equation is very skewed, the idlies came out super well for me. If the quality of your urad dal is very good, you can get away with adding more rice.

- I made dosa with this batter the next day and they turned out ok but I would prefer more rice in my dosa batter. This works better for idlis.

- Make extra idlis, store in the refrigerator and microwave with some sprinkled water on top. Serve immediately.

* the translation for that roughly is: when we make idlis at home, we tend to add more rice. Here, we add more urad dal. The proportion is 1:2 and I also add a small spoon of fenugreek seeds and a handful of cooked rice. Try this, it will come out well.

September 2, 2011

Garlic Flavoured Kang Kong Rice Recipe

kang kong garlic rice recipe

I made this a couple of months back to serve with the Banarasi Dum Aloo. When I posted a teaser of these dishes on my Facebook Page, a lot folks wanted to know what kang kong is. Its not easily available outside of Asia as far as I know but there's this dish called Sambal Kang Kong that I fell in love with during my first few Singaporean Malay meals in Singapore. Sambal is not vegetarian since it contains anchovies (although vegetarian versions do exist, it's not the real thing) and I haven't seen kang kong being used in any way but steamed or stir fried and served with spicy sambal.

kang kong garlic rice recipe

This could be because kang kong lacks any strong flavour of its own. Anyway, I was determined to try and vegetarian recipes with kang kong and knew it had to be paired with something that was spicy and had a strong flavour. Garlic seemed like a good choice in the flavour department.

Garlic Flavoured Kang Kong Rice Recipe

1 small bunch of kang kong, washed and roughly chopped
1 cup of cooked Basmati rice
3 flakes of garlic, minced
3-4 of dry red chillies, torn into halves
1 tbsp of oil
Salt to taste

How I Made It:

1. Heat a pan on low heat and add oil. When it warms up, add the minced garlic and fry for a minute. When the garlic turns fragrant, add the red chillies and fry again until they start to glisten and turn shiny.

2. Add the chopped kang kong with some salt and cook on medium flame until it gives it some water, and cooks in it. The leaves will begin to wilt and shrink - about 5-7 mins.

3. Add the cooked rice, mix well, heat through, and remove from fire.

Serves 2 : About 2-3 cups

kang kong flavoured rice recipe

In hindsight, adding some spicy sauce to the rice mix would have added a lot more punch to this, like maybe some Thai red curry paste, or a blend of green chillies+coriander leaves+mint leaves, etc.

Cooked this way, its a bit bland but went really well with the Banarasi Dum Aloo.