January 30, 2012

Podalanga Masala Recipe-Podalangai Curry Recipe

Podalangai (Padavalanga / Snake Gourd) is one vegetable I always pick up from my vegetable-shopping trips to Little India. More than our love for the vegetable, the mere fact that it's not available in the supermarkets near our place makes me reach out for it each time.

Snake Gourd / Podalanga Masala Recipe

The last time I bought it, I forgot another major ingredient that's required to make podalanga kootu. Coconut! I wasn't prepared to give up the texture of the channa dal either. Here's what I ended up. Something of a kootu with snake gourd but without the coconut and no need for any grinding. All hail lazy, quick recipes.

Snake Gourd / Podalanga Masala Recipe

Makes ~ 3 cups 
Serves 2
Preparation time: 10mins
Cooking time: 30 mins

2 cups of snake gourd, peeled, cleaned and cut into small squares
1/2 cup of channa dal / kadala paruppu
1 small of onion
1 tsp of jeera / cumin seeds
1 tsp of red chilli powder
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1 pinch of hing / asafoetida
1 tbsp of oil
1/4 tsp of mustard seeds
2 dry red chillies
A few curry leaves
1 tsp of garam masala (optional)

How I Made It:

1. Add the chopped snake gourd pieces and the washed channa dal to a pan with 4 cups water. Bring to boil, add turmeric, and simmer until the snake gourd is cooked soft and the channa dal is firm yet crushes between your fingers. This will take about 10-15 mins. Ideally, let all the water evaporate while cooking. I don't like draining this water because you lose all the nutrients that way. If you still have excess water after the ingredients are cooked, just keep flame on high and let it evaporate while stirring constantly.

2. Heat oil in another pan and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 5-6 seconds. Then add the red chillies and chopped onion. Cook until the onion pieces turn soft and transparents - about 3mins.

3. Now, add the red chilli powder, hing, curry leaves, and the cooked snake gourd / channa dal mix. Add salt, mix well, and cook on low fire until the ingredients come together, nicely roasted. If using, add garam masala and mix well before removing from fire.

Snake Gourd / Podalanga Masala Recipe

Serve hot with rice and some kozhambu of choice.

January 27, 2012

Chena Vanpayar Erissery Recipe-Onam Sadya Recipes

I have been baking a lot lately and realising how much I enjoy it. But that doesn't mean I should give up on my roots and stop making these amazing Kerala recipes. Nothing can transport me back home virtually like a good Kerala sadya.


The last time I posted Erissery, I got a few comments asking for chena vanpayar erissery. Clearly, pumpkin is not a very favourite vegetable to most. But vanpayar is not easily available here and I couldn't find it in Mustafa Stores which practically means its non existent in Singapore.


So I did what any self-respecting food lover cum food blogger would do. I brought a bag back from my last trip to Kottayam. So today, I can share the authentic Erissery recipe with you. Howzaaat?

January 26, 2012

Supporting the Fund Drive for Vaidehi Ashram of Desitute Girls, Hyderabad

When Siri reached out to tell me about her fund drive for the destitute girls in Vaidehi Ashram, it brought back memories of the weekends I used to spend in a facility in Hyderabad that took care of orphaned kids with AIDS. I would go there every Saturday for a few months, hold the kids, play with them, paint, teach, and all the rest of the stuff that you would normally do when you volunteer at a place like this.

Then I would come home and mope around the house all weekend, not interested in going out, not willing to talk to happy people and generally being a pain to be around. That's the main reason I stopped going there. In a way, I guess that's selfish, but the more time I spent with those kids, the more depressed I became until one day I realised I am of no use to them or to me if I continued this way.

Photo by Siri
I then switched to to sending them a sum of money every month for their washing detergent (which was one of the most expensive things on their shopping list because they used about 6 washing machines every day, donated by a kind soul). Then I got married, relocated, and that was the end of that.

Shame on me.

I should thank Siri for this opportunity though. I am helping her raise money by contributing to the list of raffle prizes. Mine is probably the most cryptic item in the list mainly because I am not sure exactly what will go into this "Oriental Gift Basket" I am offering, but I am happy to work with you on this if you bid for my item. We could throw in some nice spices, herbal teas, pretty coasters, food photo props, cushion covers, feng shui items, and I will most definitely send you a small poster with your name in Chinese characters. That's a promise. Interested?

Here's how to take part in this raffle:

Step 1. Buy Raffle Tickets

Each raffle ticket is worth $10 (or Rs.500). You can increase your chances of winning the giveaway by buying more than 1 raffle ticket.

For Example, a donation of $20 will fetch you 2 raffle tickets which can be used to choose on any of the raffle prizes. You can use all your raffle tickets on one prize (in turn increasing the chances in the lucky draw) or on different prizes. To see the entire list of available items, check Siri's post. The items also make great gifts so keep an eye on the shipping countries and make a call.

2. How to Buy the Raffle Tickets

Click on the "Chip In" button below and you will be able to pay through PayPal or your credit card.

Once the donation process is completed, please forward your payment confirmation message to info(dot)siri(at)gmail.com and clearly mention the raffle item you would like to opt for. Eg: to choose the item I am contributing, include this info in your email "RU10 - Oriental Gift Hamper."

Within 24 hours, your name and contributed amount will be added to the ‘Fund Drive Supporters List’ at the very end of this post. If you want to stay anonymous, please let Siri know in advance. You can also email her with any questions or confusions in the donation process.

The fund drive ends on Feb 25th, 2012.

I know we keep hearing that our time is more valuable to people rather than money or things, but the way I look at it, when getting even the basics in life is a struggle, any kindness you show them is appreciated. I am sure the time I spent with those kids back in Hyderabad was in no way more valuable than the money I donated later. They accepted both with equal gratitude.

Photo by Siri
Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.  ~William James

January 24, 2012

Corn Malai Sabzi - Sweet Corn Curry with Cream Cheese in 15 Mins

This Corn Malai Sazi (corn curry with cream cheese) is a recipe I've shamelessly stolen from a friend, Divya, who served it at a dinner she hosted at her new apartment. I have made it about 5-6 times since and always gotten good feedback on it. It's ridiculously simple and lends itself well to variations.

Corn Malai Subzi / Corn Sandwich Filling Recipe

If you like corn, this one's a definite winner. If you don't, well, this one could turn you around like it did my MIL!

January 12, 2012

Murungakai Tiffin Sambar-Moong Dal Sambar Recipe

Hotel-style Tiffin Sambar Recipe

Why is toor dal and not moong dal the main ingredient in a regular sambar recipe? I'd really like to know, especially after making sambar with moong dal recently, for the first time. I absolutely loved it. Although more popular called tiffin sambar because it is served with tiffin, or breakfast items, I served this with plain white rice and some vegetable curry on the side.

Murungakai Tiffin (Moong Dal) Sambar Recipe

Sharing step by step pictures of my sambar-making process feels very intimate and personal to me, for some reason. Probably it's because sambar is made in practically every South Indian household and everyone has their own way of going about it. I make sambar atleast once a week and although I have shared recipes here in the past, it's never been step by step.

January 11, 2012

Pongal Recipe-Ven Pongal-Khara Pongal-Pongal Festival Recipes

Khara Pongal(or ven pongal as it's commonly called) is not something I grew up eating. It's not part of Kerala breakfast recipes and on the rare occasions we would eat out for breakfast, I never looked beyond butter roast or paper roast dosa.

ven pongal-khara pongal-pongal recipe

Then things changed and I got married to a Tamilian. TH's mom makes a mean pongal and it's a favourite of mine now. She makes it every time we go home and this time I got to have it twice. Pics were taken in amma's kitchen as she cooked so pardon the bad light quality.

Since Pongal festival is right around the corner, I thought this would be the best time to post this favourite recipe of mine!

January 9, 2012

No-Bake Banana Toffee Pie Recipe - Banoffee Pie Recipe

Pie or pudding, whatever you call it, this banana toffee (banoffee) pie is very close in taste to the famous banana pudding they sell by the buckets (quite literally) in Magnolia Bakery. Although they use vanilla wafers and pudding in their dessert, this one tasted amazingly similar.

No-Bake Banana Toffee (Banoffee) Pudding Recipe

So anyway, let me start by apologising to you for shoving this sinfully indulgent pudding / pie in your face so soon after what I am sure are very well-meaning new year resolutions. This is our challenge for this month's A Sweet Punch and I must say the real challenge was not finishing it all off in one sitting.

Dulce de Leche David Lebovitz Recipe

You need 5 ingredients for this pie. There's no need for baking and it all comes together in 5 mins if you have all the ingredients in hand! Dulce de Leche is important so if you live in a place where you can't buy any, please make some. You can do this ahead of time.

More easy no-bake recipes: Steamed cake recipe, classic tiramisu, eggless strawberry mousse.

No-Bake Banana Toffee (Banoffee) Pie
Makes a 7" pie
Serves 4

8 graham crackers / digestive biscuits / marie biscuits
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup dulce de leche
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup whipping cream
A piece of chocolate (optional)

How to Make Banoffee Pie

1. Pulse the biscuits with the melted butter until they form crumbs. Press this to the bottom of a pie dish firmly. You can make it in a 160C oven for 10 mins but this step is optional.

No-Bake Banana Toffee (Banoffee) Pudding Recipe

2. Layer the dulce de leche over the biscuit base evenly. If you are using dulce de leche from out of the fridge, warm it gently in a microwave until loose and then spread. Don't heat it, just warm.

No-Bake Banana Toffee (Banoffee) Pudding Recipe

3. Next, cut the banana into discs and layer over this. My banana was a bit over-ripe, so ignore the black portions.

No-Bake Banana Toffee (Banoffee) Pudding Recipe

4. Transfer the whipping cream into a bowl and beat until thick. Be patient, it takes about 3-4 mins for the cream to thicken.

No-Bake Banana Toffee (Banoffee) Pudding Recipe

5. Layer this over the bananas and spread evenly.

No-Bake Banana Toffee (Banoffee) Pudding Recipe

6. Optionally, you can sprinkle some cocoa powder or add some grated chocolate over the cream layer. I used one piece of Valrhona chocolate with 70% cacao. (Sidenote: if you own a microplane, grate chocolate with it and fall in love all over again!)

No-Bake Banana Toffee (Banoffee) Pudding Recipe

That's it! Your banoffee pie is ready.

No-Bake Banana Toffee (Banoffee) Pudding Recipe

It's a super easy and delicious dessert for large parties because it comes together in a jiffy and you can refrigerate it until it's time to serve dessert. Non-fussy and easy!

No-Bake Banana Toffee (Banoffee) Pudding Recipe


- If you plan to store this in the refrigerator for a couple of days, make sure your banana is not too ripe. Otherwise, it will continue to ripen and taste weird in the pie when you serve it. You can store this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days if it lasts that long!

- Use the quantities of ingredients as a guide only. You can adjust them according to taste. I have used lesser cream than what the pie usually calls for because to me cream is just tasteless calories! Also, my version has more dulce de leche - because that's delicious calories ;)

PS: Special thanks to Sharmi for the lovely linen pieces she gave me. The one I've used in the pics above are from her. If not for her, you would have been subjected to a picture of the bowl over my cutting board ;)

PPS: I have OCD about the different lighting tones in my pics above but sadly, my kitchen has very little natural light so there's no other way for me to take and post step by step recipes and I'd rather post the steps than omit them because the pics are not nice. Bear with me, won't you?

January 7, 2012

Dulce de Leche Recipe - The David Lebovitz Way

I've been obsessing over Dulce de Leche for a while now. I haven't seen it in stores in Singapore anywhere so tried my luck to find it in the US but didn't have any luck there either. Finally decided to give in and make my own.

Dulce de Leche David Lebovitz Recipe

The reason why I was hesitant for so long is because it's a time-consuming process and the idea of leaving a pressurised can of condensed milk in a pressure cooker, or boiling it in an open pot for 3 hours constantly checking the water level didn't appeal to me at all.

Then I realised David Lebovitz does it differently. This is his method and I had delicious Dulce de Leche ready to be licked off a spoon in less than 1.5 hours.

Dulce de Leche - David Lebovitz's Method

You need:
1 can (400gm) sweetened condensed milk
One shallow glass pie dish or baking dish
A roasting pan or another larger pan where the first baking dish can sit in comfortably
Hot water

How I Made It:

1. Preheat oven to 400F / 200C. Pour condensed milk in the baking tray.

Dulce de Leche David Lebovitz Recipe

2. Place this baking tray in a larger pan. Since I don't have a roasting pan, I used another Pyrex dish that's larger than the one I was using to bake. Pour hot water into the outside bowl until it reaches halfway up the sides of the pan containing the condensed milk. You can first pour the water and then place the dish in, to avoid splashing any into the condensed milk.

Dulce de Leche David Lebovitz Recipe

3. Wrap the entire thing snugly in foil and place in the preheated oven. Let this cook for an hour to an hour and 15 mins. Mine took close to 1 hour and 20 mins. Check the water level to see there's enough. I didn't have to add any more during the process. It helps if the outer pan is in glass so you can check the water level without opening the oven door.

Dulce de Leche David Lebovitz Recipe

4. Here's what you get at the end of it.

Dulce de Leche David Lebovitz Recipe

The Dulce de Leche will be thick so whisk well with a spoon, cool completely and then store in a glass bottle. If you are going to be using it up soon, store as-is in the same bowl. My baking tray has a lid so it was super convenient. Pyrex for the win!

Dulce de Leche David Lebovitz Recipe

Yum! I was on a sugar high after 2 licks. It's a very concentrated form of condensed milk so super sweet and super delicious.

Dulce de Leche can be used as a sandwich spread, in puddings, ice-creams, and brownies. One easy recipe using Dulce de Leche coming up next!

January 6, 2012

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe ~ How to Make Cake Pops at Home

Cake pops have been done to death and they were not really on my to-make list. However, they are cute and hard to resist and I wanted to make cake pops at home using the simplest and quickest recipe possible so I had to put on my thinking cap and finally zero in on making cake pops.

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

This was part of a group that I was cooking with and since we are 8 people in the group, the host this month decided to give each of us one colour from the rainbow and white. I drew the lot and got blue. Since blue doesn't occur in (many) natural foods, I had to think outside the box. My first thought was blue frosting or something but then I got lazy as Christmas drew near so ended up with blue-topped cake pops!
Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

To get started, you need candy melts in a colour of your choice, and lollypop sticks. You can be creative and use straws or whatever you want as long as they hold the cake pops up.

Ingredients the cake balls:
Almond meal (optional)

Ingredients for the candy coating:
Candy melt
Vegetable oil

To assemble:
Lined baking tray
Lollypop sticks

Let's get started!

You need a few pieces of cake. I used some leftover one-bowl chocolate cake.

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

Use a fork to crumble it well without any large lumps.

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

Next, bring out your frosting. I used frosting from a can. Don't add too much. You should use just enough to bring the cake mixture together to make a ball and for it to hold it's shape.

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

 I added a bit too much frosting so mixed in some almond meal to compensate. Ended up tasting great.

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

Make into small balls and lay on a lined baking tray. Refrigerate this for about 2 hours or freeze for 30 mins.

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

Meanwhile. Take about 1 cup candy melts in a microwave safe bowl and melt in 30 second intervals until it begins to soften. If you don't own a microwave, try placing this in a pan of boiling water and gently stir until it melts.

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

The mixture was very thick for me so I added 2 tbsp vegetable oil. Don't worry, this doesn't alter the taste at all. However, the mixture was still very thick and not at all like the videos I saw of people using Wilton Candy Melts. But I trudged on anyway.

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

Once the cake balls have chilled enough, dip one end of the lollypop stick into the candy melt and stick it 3/4 of the way into the cake balls. Do this for every cake ball and return to the refrigerator for another hour for it to set (or freezer for 15 mins).

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

Once the cake balls have chilled again, coat completely with the candy melt. You are supposed to dip the cake balls in the mixture and tap off excess but my mixture was super thick so I could only slather it on. Probably the candy melts I bought from Phoon Huat were too old or something. Tasted fine though.

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

Return to the refrigerator or freezer for another hour and let it set completely.

Easy Basic Cake Pops Recipe

Bite in!

Cake pops make great kids' party food. The quantities will largely depend on the kind of cake and frosting you are using so use your judgement. Just make sure the cake ball dough is not loose at all. It should just about come together when you roll them into balls.

January 4, 2012

Gulab Jamun Recipe | Gulab Jamuns with Khoya | Diwali Sweets Recipe

Gulab Jamun is arguably one of the most popular Indian sweets that's made pretty much through the year in the country. Since Gulab Jamuns are easy to make in larger quantities, it's a popular dessert served warm with a scoop of ice cream at weddings, parties, festivals, etc.

I really can' think of a better day to share this delicious Gulab Jamun recipe using Khoya (or Mawa) than to start off a brand new year 2012.

One of the most common question I get when discussing Indian Sweets is "what's that soft brown ball that's very sweet and soaked in sugar syrup?". Probably because gulab jamuns are served at practically all Indian buffets, it's not hard to guess which sweet they are talking about!

Gulab Jamun | Khoya Jamun Sweet Recipe

For all the cooking that I do, I had never tried to make gulab jamuns at home, not even with the readymade boxed mix. Amma has mentioned how her mom, my aatha, makes gulab jamun with fresh, homemade khoya (mawa) and since then, I've wanted to try it the same way.