November 29, 2011

Zucchini Besan Sabji (No Onion No Garlic) - Jain Friendly Recipes

Zucchini Indian Besan Sabji

Confession: for the longest time, I thought zucchini was another type of cucumber that's only used in raita and salads. I didn't even know the Indian name for zucchini, having never seen this vegetable in Kerala or even Hyderabad.

Zucchini Indian Besan Sabji

It seems it's actually a fruit, not a vegetable, and is closely related to ridge gourd (torai or tura in Hindi) and beerakay in telugu.

Zucchini Indian Besan Sabji

Anyway, I wanted try an Indian recipe with Zucchini and went with the easiest option - a quick and simple sabji with besan. Also check out Indian potato fry (no onion, no garlic), yam fry, and sesame tofu recipe.

This is a no-onion no-garlic recipe.

Zucchini Besan Sabji
Serves 2-3

2 zucchini, peeled, washed and cut into small cubes
3 tbsp of besan / Bengal gram flour
1 tsp of red chilli powder
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1/8 tsp of hing / asafoetida
1 tsp of rice flour (optional)
Salt to taste
1-2 tbsp of oil
1 tsp of cumin seeds / jeera
1/4 tsp of mustard seeds
2 strands of curry leaves


1. Add the besan, salt, chilli powder, turmeric, rice flour (if using), and hing to the cubed zucchini. Mix well with fingertips until the zucchini pieces are well coated in the mixture. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and jeera. When they mustard pops and the jeera sizzles, add the curry leaves and the zucchini mixture.

3. Mix well until the zucchini pieces are coated in oil. Cook on low flame, stirring occasionally, until the pieces are cooked and pulpy. If you don't peel the zucchini, the pieces will hold their shape and will be firmer, so it's up to you how you want it to turn out.

Zucchini Indian Besan Sabji

That's it!

Serve hot with steamed rice or chapatis / rotis. How do you cook Zucchinis the Indian way? Share your recipes if any!

November 27, 2011

6 Must-Try Kerala Christmas Recipes

Having grown up in a Christian-dominated society, I grew up with a lot of influence from the religion. I studied in a Christian School (no matter what the headmistress says now, it was a Christian School, we sang hymns at Monday assembly and said "Our Father" every morning before classes), almost all of my parents' friends were Catholics, I used to find more peace in Kurisupally, a church that was closer to my home than Thirunakkara Sivan Temple. This is not to say I favour one religion over the other, I ended up turning agnostic. Ironic, I know.

Anyway, this post was not to talk about my religious preferences, but to talk about Swapna Chechy and her blog - Swapna's Cuisine. Swapna Chechy is a childhood friend of my sister's. She is probably familiar to most of you since she has been an avid food blogger for the past couple years. Her cooking distinctly reminds me of my childhood, of sneaking in homemade wine when I was 8, eating bitter, rum-soaked raisins by the fistful at 10, and the sugar rush from all the Christmas cakes, both homemade and otherwise, that would flood into our home starting the first week of December well into the New Year.

Here are 6 Christmas Recipes from Swapna's Cuisine that I highly recommend. Check out my version of Kerala plum cake recipe if you'd like.

Milk Liquer

Chicken Balls

Vellayappam (or Paalappam if you prefer that)

Meat Ball Curry

Vegetable Stew (Ishtoo)

Kerala Plum Cake (Christmas Fruit Cake)
Not sure if I will have time this year to make any Christmas cookies and cakes but I will be home at the time so I am sure there will be no shortage of Christmas Fruit Cake!

November 25, 2011

Ammini Kozhukattai Recipe - Mini Kozhukattai - Vinayaka Chaturthi or Ganesh Chaturthi Recipe

Ammini (also called Mini or Mani) Kozhukkattai is not something I grew up eating. The sweet vella kozhukattai was often made and a favourite in our house but amma just made plain kozhukkattai with the leftover modak cover dough (without the jaggery filling), which we ate with chutney podi or just as-is.

                               Ammini (Mani) Kozhukkattai Recipe

It's my sis who made this once with the leftover modak covering flour and it was instant love for me. She dismissed it a simple snack that she often makes but it was delicious. I tried it for the first time with the leftover flour after making kozhukattai for Ganesh Chaturthi.

November 23, 2011

Moong Usal Recipe - How to Make Moong Usal Dry Version

Moong Usal Recipe - A Popular Maharashtrian Dish

Moong usal is a popular Maharashtrian vegetarian dish. The usal is served along with pav, a similar combination to the even more popular pav bhaji. I am not claiming this recipe is an authentic version since I got it from a food-based book written by a non-Indian. The usual usal recipes I see are all gravy-based and have a lot more ingredients than my simple version but since the first time I made this usal, I have been cooking it this way and serving it with roti, rice, or even on its own. Since I don't like the taste of raw sprouts in salads and such, this is a great alternative, and a method which doesn't compromise the nutrition in moong sprouts.

Moong Usal Recipe - A Popular Maharashtrian Dish

Typically, usal is made with maki or moth bean sprouts. Using moong sprouts for usal is also not uncommon so I decided to go ahead and do just that. I also learnt from the book that Misal is Usal with has been spiced up a bit more and made into a kind of chaat. I really need to try making some misal at home too, a dish that I have only tried once when I visited TH's aunt in Mumbai many years ago.

Moong Usal Recipe - A Popular Maharashtrian Dish

Some other recipes you may be interested in:
Soya chunks biryani with sprouts
Pesarattu recipe
Moong dal tadka
Vada pav recipe
How to make pav

Moong Usal Recipe

Adapted from Ginger and Ganesh
Serves 2-4

2 cups moong bean sprouts
1 cup onions, sliced
1/2 cup of cubed tomato
1" piece of ginger, grated
2-3 flakes of garlic, minced
1 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder) or 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
1-2 green chillies, chopped
A pinch of turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp Kitchen King Masala (or garam masala / goda masala)
1 tsp grated jaggery or brown sugar
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste


1. Heat oil and add the onions and green chillies. Saute until the onions have turned a light brown.
2. Add the minced ginger and garlic and fry until the raw smell disappears - about a minute.
3. Now add the coriander, chilli powder, turmeric, and salt, and jaggery or sugar. Fry for another minute.
4. Add the sprouted moong dal and chopped tomato along with the amchoor. Add some water and cook on low flame covered for 8-10 mins.
5. When the beans have turned plump and soft, add the garam masala and garnish with chopped coriander.
6. Cook in open pan until the water has more or less evaporated and you have a dry dish. Adjust salt and amchoor as needed.

Step by step pictures to make Usal:

Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan and add the sliced onions and green chillies.


 Saute until the onions turn a golden brown.

Now add the ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant (about 1 minute). Make sure the flame is medium-low to prevent burning.

Next, add the chilli powder, coriander, turmeric, amchoor, jaggery or brown sugar, and some salt. 

Mix well and fry for 30 seconds for the spices to get roasted well.

Now add the sprouts and chopped tomatoes. 

Mix well so the masala coats the sprouts well.

Add about 1/2 cup water. 

 Cook covered for 5 minutes or so or until the moong sprouts are cooked soft.

Now add garam masala and chopped coriander leaves. Mix again.

Cook for a bit longer until the excess water, if any, is fully absorbed. Taste test to make sure there's enough salt.

Serve usal hot with steamed rice and some gravy or pav.

Moong Usal Recipe - A Popular Maharashtrian Dish


- You can pressure cook the sprouted beans until soft and then follow the rest of the recipe
- Use some tamarind paste or lemon juice if you don't have amchoor in hand (amchoor is dried mango powder, used to add sourness to dishes)
- Omit red chilli powder if you can't tolerate much heat in dishes
- The tomatoes are optional

November 21, 2011

Potato and Drumsticks Curry Recipe in Poppy Seeds Gravy

potato drumsticks khus khus curry recipe

Recipe for a potato drumstick curry that has a thick tomato khus khus (poppy seeds gravy).

Until I was 10, we used to live in a sprawling L-shaped house with a gorgeous garden. My mom has quite a green thumb and whatever shoot or seeds she planted would grow and bloom into beautiful things. We had a drumstick tree in the backyard and during one season, it showed off its splendour by giving us many baskets of long, slender drumsticks. Amma, being the generous soul she is, gave off bags of it to friends, relatives and neighbours until they threw up their arms when the word drumsticks was mentioned! So she sold some. I remember because she bought me a box of foreign chocolates from the only foreign goods store in town at that time.

potato drumsticks khus khus curry recipe

So yes, my connection with drumsticks goes beyond the simple girl-and-vegetable relationship that I share with most other vegetables.

Fast forward two decades. One day I got this email from my mom-in-law saying she tried a recipe with potatoes and drumsticks and that it came out very nice.

This is her recipe. It's a bit similar to potato saagu that I made ages back and then completely forgot about but somehow, I liked it better than saagu. Too bad I am all out of khus khus / poppy seeds and can't get them in Singapore.

Potato recipes I recommend - Bombay potatoes, Punjabi aloo gobi, dry aloo methi, and this gorgeous dum aloo recipe from my mom-in-law.

Potato and Drumsticks in a Thick Poppy Seeds Gravy

Serves 4

2 large potatoes, cubed
1 drumstick, cut into 3" long pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 large tomato , chopped
5 tbsp khus khus / poppy seeds (soaked in water for 15 mins)
2-3 green chillies
2-3 flakes of garlic
1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds / jeera
A pinch of turmeric powder
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves for garnishing


1. Grind the soaked khus khus with jeera, coriander, and garlic into a smooth paste. Add water as necessary, the poppy seeds will thicken the mixture.

potato drumsticks khus khus curry recipe

2. Heat the oil and add mustard seeds (optional). When they pop (if using) add onions and green chillies and fry until lightly browned. Then add the drumsticks and potato cubes. Add in 2 cups water and mix well.
potato drumsticks khus khus curry recipe

3. When the mixture comes to a boil, add the ground khus khus paste, chilli powder, turmeric, and some salt. Mix well.

potato drumsticks khus khus curry recipe

4. Throw in the tomatoes and mix.

potato drumsticks khus khus curry recipe

The mixture should still be a bit watery for the vegetables to full cook. If it's not, add some more water. Cook covered until the potatoes are soft and the drumsticks are cooked through. Adjust salt.

potato drumsticks khus khus curry recipe

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed rice, roti, nan, or even crusty bread.

potato drumsticks khus khus curry recipe

Serve potato drumsticks curry with some warm rice or vegetable pulao.

November 20, 2011

Review: Confections of a Closet Master Baker

I've been on Goodreads for a couple of months now and absolutely enjoy the site. If you love reading, maybe you should check it out too (no, they are not paying me to say this). I am planning to share my reviews of cookbooks and food-related books here as I post them on my Goodreads profile. Here's the first one.

Confections of a Closet Master BakerConfections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If I had waited even 10 minutes after finishing this book, I'd have probably given it a four. That doesn't mean a bad thing necessarily, just that the aftertaste of this book is just so... delicious. I had very low expectations when I started the book, I am yet to read a food-related memoir that I thoroughly enjoyed. I haven't read very many either, to be fair.

Midway through the book, I realised "Sandy" and "my sister who is an actress" that the author references now and then is Sandra Bullock! The author worked in Hollywood for a while and then moved to a small town and set up her own bakery. The promos and intros to the book hype this fact a lot. She gave it all up and moved away. But (thankfully) the book doesn't dwell on this fact too much. Yes, she's very clear she found Hollywood fake, tiresome, and boring but that's not the central theme of the book (again, thankfully).

The bits that stood out for me are the afternoon tea stories the author shared with her Omi (grandmom) and her mom who died of colon cancer. It's touching, it's a German tradition that even as a South Indian, I could fully relate to. Each time she mentions her dead mom and her memories associated with her, my heart went out to her.

Of course, all the butter, sugar, flour, and chocolate in the book appealed to the food-lover part of me. She confirms the fact that having one's own pastry shop is no cake walk, literally. I knew it, but it still helps to hear it again so that I won't feel tempted to leave my job (that I enjoy, btw) and follow that path. Some of the recipes seem delicious and I am reluctant to return the book before I have atleast taken some photocopies of those pages.

A must-read if you even remotely enjoy baking.

Want to buy your own? Here are the links: AMAZON | FLIPKART

November 18, 2011

Kerala-Style Prawn Roast Recipe - Prawns or Chemmeen Roast Kerala-Style

Kerala-Style Prawn Roast Recipe - Prawns or Chemmeen Roast Kerala-Style

Kerala-Style Prawn Roast Recipe - I hardly ever cook non-vegetarian food but whatever little I have tried so far has come out super well, no idea why. When I was in Mountain View earlier this year and met up with Saks, the talk obviously turned to food and she mentioned how she loves Varsha's version of Kerala Style Spicy Prawns Roast. It sounded delicious and I made a mental bookmark. You may also like this recipe for dry chilli prawns.

I tried this prawn roast recipe a couple of months after getting back but never got around to posting it. Here it is, finally.

Kerala Chemmeen / Prawn Roast - A Spicy Treat

The process may seem a bit long-wound so I would recommend lining up all the ingredients so that you can add them in one by one. Preparation time is about 20 mins and cooking time another 20 so it doesn't take that long at all. Note that I got cleaned prawns so if you don't, then that will take extra time to prep.

For other spicy seafood recipes, check out nethili fry and karimeen pollichathu. You may also like this chilli chicken recipe and easy coconut milk chicken curry recipe.

Kerala-Style Prawn Roast Recipe

Serves 4

3 cups prawns, cleaned and deveined
2 tbsp coconut oil
1"piece cinnamon, 3 cloves and 2 cardamom pods coarsely powdered
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
3-4 dry red chillies, halved
a handful of curry leaves
2 tbsp small coconut pieces (thenga kothu)
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups peeled shallots (or use 2 onions)
3-4 green chillies
1 tomato, cut into small cubes
1-2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp garam masala (optional)
Fresh coriander leaves / cilantro to garnish
Salt to taste


1. Heat oil and add the ground cinnamon+cloves+cardamom. Fry for 1o seconds and add the mustard seeds, fennel, fenugreek seeds, and red chillies. Fry for another 2o seconds.

2. Next, add the curry leaves, coconut slices, minced ginger and garlic. Saute until the raw smell disappears - about 1 minute. Then add the shallots/onions and slit green chillies. Saute until the onions turn a light brown.

3. Next, add the cubed tomatoes and cook until the mixture turns mushy.

4. Meanwhile, mix the vinegar with some water and add the red chilli powder, coriander powder, pepper, and turmeric. Add this to the mixture on the stove. Mix well and cook until the oil separates at the sides of the pan - about 3-4 mins.

5. Now add the cleaned prawns and mix well. Cook covered on low heat for 10-12 mins until the prawns are cooked just right. Overcooking will harden them. Don't add water at any stage, the prawns will release water.

6. Add salt, sprinkle garam masala on top if using, and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with steamed white rice.

Kerala Chemmeen / Prawn Roast - A Spicy Treat

November 16, 2011

Grilled Guacamole Cheese Sandwiches Recipe

Both TH and I love Guacamole. We have it with chapati, rice, in sandwiches, and once even with dosa! We have sandwiches for dinner about once or twice a month when I've had a long day at work and I always try to use different fillings. Sometimes I feel I can make a proper dinner with the time I use to plan the filling, I think a lot about what's in the refrigerator that I can use and what flavours should go together.

Grilled Guacamole Cheese Sandwiches

These sandwiches are similar to the Mint Chutney Cheese Sandwiches that became very popular, but definitely don't taste the same. A great lunchbox or picnic sandwich too!

November 13, 2011

Eggless Chocolate Coffee Self-Saucing Pudding Recipe

I have been skipping the Sweet Punch challenges for the past couple of months so decided to go ahead and cram it in this month (although I am about 2 weeks late already!).

This month we made Chocolate Coffee Self-Saucing Pudding. I have always wanted to try self-saucing puddings so that was an extra motivation.

I halved the recipe to make 2 ramekins of the pudding, one for each of us.

Eggless Chocolate Coffee Self-Saucing Pudding

Makes 2 ramekins
Serves 2

1/2 cup of all-purpose flour / maida
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of cocoa powder
1 pinch of salt
1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
1 tbsp of butter, melted
1/4 cup of milk
1 tbsp of flax seed meal mixed with 3 tbsp water (or 1/2 an egg)
A fistful of any nuts of choice - walnuts,, hazelnuts, cashews, etc
For the topping:
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1.5 tbsp of cocoa powder
1/2 cup of black coffee (I mixed 1 tsp bru with 1/2 cup water)


1. Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C. Mix the flax seed meal with the water and set aside until it becomes gooey and thick.

Eggless Chocolate Coffee Self-Saucing Pudding

2. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cocoa in a bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork. You can also sift it until the dry ingredients are well blended.
Chocolate Coffee Self-Saucing Pudding

3. Melt butter in another bowl and add the milk, nuts, and the dry ingredients mixture.
Chocolate Coffee Self-Saucing Pudding

4. Fold gently until no traces of any ingredient can be seen separately.
Eggless Chocolate Coffee Self-Saucing Pudding

5. Divide the batter into two greased ramekins.
Eggless Chocolate Coffee Self-Saucing Pudding

6. Mix the sugar, coffee, and cocoa for the topping and pour gently over the batter mixture. The recipe asks us to o this separately which is what I did but that left parts of the top a bit bitter so I think mixing it first would yield a better result.
Eggless Chocolate Coffee Self-Saucing Pudding

7. Bake for about 20-25 mins until the top becomes all bubbly and turns a very dark brown. This is just the coffee acting up with the batter and looks almost burnt. The bottom will still be a bit wobbly, but should be cooked - that is, no traces of the raw batter should be seen.

Chocolate Coffee Self-Saucing Pudding

Serve chocolate self-saucing pudding with vanilla ice-cream or sweetened whipped cream.

I am not a fan of coffee-flavoured anything (but I love coffee!) so this is probably not something I'd try again. But I am hoping to try more self-saucing puddings in future for sure!

November 12, 2011

Salivation Vegetarian Restaurant, Singapore

TH and I go to Mustafa Stores about once every three weeks. I like to stock up on Indian ingredients and dal every so often. I have to buy toor dal before my previous stock is over, so yeah, we are quite regular visitors of Little India and unlike a lot of Indians in Singapore, I don't mind the crowds and the unruly traffic (although I do crib about the difficulty in finding a taxi after all the shopping and eating!).

Salivation Vegetarian Restaurant Singapore

Anyway, the other way we came across this restaurant called Salivation, tucked away in the far corner after Murugan Idli Kadai, Raj Restaurant and that Thai massage place. It was small and caught our attention because it was a vegetarian cafe that had burgers, pizza, and even some Mexican fare.

Salivation Vegetarian Restaurant Singapore

We had already eaten on that day so postponed the visit. Yesterday we went again and when a couple of our friends who live close by agreed to join us, we zeroed in on Salivation cafe.

The menu is not extensive but very interesting. They have 4-5 different items in each category above in the menu picture.

Salivation Vegetarian Restaurant Singapore

We decided to start with the Mezze Platter which had 6 pieces of warm toasted pita slices and three dips - hummus, tzatziki, and red pepper flavoured sour cream. The hummus was especially delicious but as is usually the case, we were left with too much dips and not even bread.

Salivation Vegetarian Restaurant Singapore

It'd been ages since any of us had a burger so we jumped at that chance. TH and I ordered the paneer burger and the other couple ordered the feta cheese burger. You can ask them to cut in into halves to avoid "my share is smaller" argument later at the table (not that I ever have such petty fights, ahem, but you know ;)

The burgers come with a side of fries and a simple salad. It was just perfect because we also got a pizza for the table.

Salivation Vegetarian Restaurant Singapore

I know it looks slightly burned but it wan't. This is the spinach pizza with additional olive topping. It was not overtly spinachy-y and the cheese was just the right amount. There were 8 pieces so perfect to share among the four of us.

We decided to skip dessert here and head to Max Brenner and indulge (picture below). They had some interesting desserts though, like parfait, cheesecake, and gelato. Maybe next time. .

The price is very reasonable, the portions are not that huge. The meal for four of us came to SGD 34. Not bad, eh?

Cafe Salivation
75, Syed Alwi Road
Ph: +65 6298 1412
Daily from: 10:00am - 10:30pm

Here's a picture of the super indulgent dessert we had at Max Brenner in Vivocity Mall, Harborfront. The waffles with hazelnut cream was especially delicious!

Max Brenner Singapore