January 31, 2013

Kelly Moore B-Hobo Bag Review-Camera Bags for Women

Every time I go on a trip and share the pictures, I get questions on my camera bag. When I upgraded to a Nikon D90 over 2 years back, I got one of those ugly functional bags from Nikon. I put up with it because I was too excited about my new camera to care too much about the bag I was carrying it around in. Then it struck me how God-awful it looks and even worse, I was carrying the camera bag and my handbag making it immensely uncomfortable and unsightly.

So I started doing some research on the best camera bags for women. There were quite a few options and I was pretty surprised I hadn't come across any of these before. Most of the brands were from independent sellers and they looked stylish and very unlike the regular camera bags. So you can carry them around just like you would regular hand bags with your cameras practically hidden inside.

Of all the options I saw, Kelly Moore bags really called out to me. After much deliberation and trial-and-error (more on that below), I finally got the B-Hobo Bag in Grassy Green.

Best Camera Bags for Women-Kelly Moore Bag Review

January 30, 2013

Sambar Powder Recipe | Fresh Sambar Powder Recipe

Learn how to make fresh Sambar Powder for your Sambar. Since we are freshly roasting the Sambar Powder just before making the Sambar, it turns out more fragrant and delicious.
K. Athamma of the Unniyappam and Badusha fame also happens to possess the best Sambar recipe ever! Her Sambar is so famous that she makes it every time we visit her for a meal, planning the menu in such a way that she also makes something to serve with the Sambar. While it took me a while to finally figure out I should be getting all her best recipes from her, I'm glad I'm finally well on my way.

Sambar Powder Recipe-Make Sambar Powder

Generally, we tend to make or buy and store Sambar Powder in bulk, adding it to Sambar as we need it. Athamma on the other hand, makes her Sambar Powder fresh each time. She grinds only what's required and this results in the most fragrant and fresh tasting Sambar ever!

January 29, 2013

Palak Paneer Recipe | Spinach Paneer Recipe

Learn how to make Palak Paneer: this my recipe that's perfected over the years by adding and subtracting ingredients to suit our palates. My version of Palak Paneer contains no cream.
Today, TH turns 31. I met him when he was 24. Both of us were younger, slimmer, naiver, and he really wasn't TH back then, just this goofy funny guy who made me laugh all the time and ridiculed my Tamil. Most of that has changed now except one thing. TH's love for Palak Paneer. When he first told me how much he loves Garlic Nan with Palak Paneer, I was surprised because where I come from, most guys don't really like spinach. TH is neutral towards other spinach dishes but Palak Paneer, he adores. He has tried Palak Paneer in pretty much every city we have traveled to and is still on the quest to find the best Palak Paneer in Singapore.

Palak Paneer-Spinach Paneer Recipe

Since we eat it so often when we go out for meals, I rarely make Palak Paneer at home. This one time I did make it, I used red amaranth leaves and way too much spices. Check out my first version of Palak Paneer Recipe here.

Since then I've realised that Palak needs spices to make it less blah but the spices need to edge it on, not overpower it and become bossy. If you are serving this with nan, the flavours need to be just right so that it complements the nan perfectly.

Anyway, on TH's birthday this year, I wanted to share his most favourite dish and the recipe I have perfected over 4-5 trials. As mentioned, when I make Palak Paneer, I like to keep the recipe simple and don't add unnecessary thickening agents or cream.

January 28, 2013

Vengaya Bajji-Onion Bajji-Ulli Bajji Recipe

Learn how to make Onion or Vengaya Bajji using this easy recipe from my MIL. Onion bajji makes a great after-school snack or a hot appetizer to serve guests.
TH's most favourite snack in the world is any kind of bajji and he hardly cares what goes into it. I have made Vazhakka Bajji, Potato Bajji, and even Mirchi Bajji a few times but never really tried the easier Vengaya Bajji ever. Well, easier because you tend to always have onions in hand.


During our trip to Chennai in December, we were left without power on most evenings between 4 and 6pm and MIL would make some snack or the other to munch on as we waited, chatting. On day 1, when she asked what we would like to have, bajji was the unanimous answer.

Making any kind of bajji is pretty much the same, only the main filling ingredient changes and in this case we have used onions or vengayam.

Yam Fry on Tawa-Recipe from Raks Kitchen

Learn how to make Yam Fry or Chena Fry on a tawa. This recipe uses lesser oil and is healthier than the more popular Yam Fry Recipe on this site.
Elephant Yam (Chena in Malayalam, Senai Kizhangu in Tamil) is one of my favourite vegetables so when saw this different method of frying yam on a tawa or pan, I was intrigued. Yam is a popular root vegetable in Kerala, often getting incorporated into koottu, stir-fries, and even our popular Erissery recipe wich is an essential dish in the Onam Sadya and for wedding sadyas.

Yam Fry-Yam Tawa Roast-Indian Yam Recipes

Yam takes longer time to cook than regular vegetables so it needs to be par-boiled in boiling water before you proceed with frying it. Also, many complain of the yam irritating their hands after handling it raw. I have the same issue and sometimes, if not cooked properly, it can also create an itching on the tongue and throat, much like an allergy.

To avoid the itching and irritation associated with yam, I can give you two tips. One, make your husband, brother, father, some man cut up the yam. I am yet to come across a guy whose hands itch after handling yam, trust me. And two, use the freshest yam possible. If you leave it around or in the fridge for a week or two, then it's as good as throwing it away, in my opinion.

Other Yam Recipes on Edible Garden:
- Yam Fry (Kerala-style)
- Erissery Recipe

January 25, 2013

Potato Poha | Kanda Batata Poha Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes

Learn how to make Onion Potato Poha or Kanda Batata Poha, an easy and healthy Maharashtrian breakfast recipe using Indian flattened rice, potatoes, onions, and some mild spices.
Needless to say, I didn't grow up eating Kanda Batata Poha, what with it being a Maharashtrian recipe and all that. The first time I tried Batata Poha was at this mini exhibition and sale conducted by some ladies group in my home town that amma was an active member of. They would set up stalls and sell a variety of things, all homemade. In one of those, they were selling Kanda Batata Poha in small cups for 5 rupees each. Amma and I had no clue what Batata or Poha was but decided to give it a shot anyway. After one bite of it, amma goes "ahh aval!" and then quickly went on to dissect the ingredients and tell me exactly what went into the Batata Poha and how it was probably made.

Potato Poha-Batata Poha Recipe-Easy Indian Breakfast

Fast forward a few more years, I moved to Hyderabad for work and met people from all over. I tasted food that I'd never even heard of before. This recipe is from a Maharashtrian colleague who made his mom's Kanda Batata Poha one day and posted it on FB. I, of course, immediately asked him for the recipe and obliged. Thanks Yash!

I was wondering if Batata Poha and Kanda Poha are the same thing so I asked Yash and he said batata = potato and kanda = onion. If you add both to the poha, then it kinda becomes Kanda Batata Poha. Anyway, irrespective of the finer details, this is an delicious, easy, and healthy recipe that you must make!

Love poha or aval recipes? Then check out this aval vadai recipe, and sweetened poha with coconut, a regular evening snack in Kerala. Check this link for more breakfast recipes.

Kanda Batata Poha Recipe

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves 2
Recipe adapted from: Yash Godbole

Ingredients:
1.5 cups of poha (aval, avalakki, Indian flattened rice)
1 onion, chopped fine
1 potato, boiled and chopped fine (see notes)
1/4 cup of peanuts (raw or roasted)
2-3 green chillies, chopped
1/8 tsp of hing (perungaayam, asafoetida)
1/4 tsp of sugar (optional)
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1 bunch of fresh coriander leaves or cilantro
1 wedge of lime or lemon
1 tbsp of oil
1/4 tsp of mustard seeds
3/4 tsp of salt (adjust to taste)

How to Make Kanda Batata Poha:

1. Rinse the poha through some running water, drain completely, and set aside. I mixed the turmeric in the wet poha and mixed before keeping it aside for uniform colouring.
Potato Poha-Batata Poha Recipe-Easy Indian Breakfast

2. Heat oil in a wide pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the onions, hing and green chillies. Saute for a few mins until the onions turn transparent and then add the finely chopped boiled potato. Saute a while longer and then add the peanuts. Since I used raw peanuts, I let it roast in there for a while so the raw smell would leave it. The onions will also roast a bit more which is perfect.
Potato Poha-Batata Poha Recipe-Easy Indian Breakfast

3. Next, add the washed poha, sugar (if using) and salt. Mix well and let the ingredients blend together imparting a lovely yellow colour and a nice flavour to the poha.
Potato Poha-Batata Poha Recipe-Easy Indian Breakfast

4. Turn off heat, add a few drops of lime or lemon and garnish with a generous amount of chopped coriander leaves. These two ingredients are really not optional to make Kanda Batata Poha. Mix again and serve hot with some steaming cardamom tea!

Potato Poha-Batata Poha Recipe-Easy Indian Breakfast

Notes:

- Another, probably more authentic, way of making Kanda Batata Poha is to fry the potato cubes separately and then adding to the poha. Since I happened to have a boiled potato in hand, I used that. You can also grate a raw potato and add it but the cooking time will be a bit longer.

- The peanuts I used were raw and I did feel like they didn't roast completely since I added them after the onions, etc. Either use roasted peanuts or roast them separately before adding, if you are particular about it.

- Curry leaves can be added to batata poha if you prefer but since I added a lot of coriander, I wanted just that flavour to dominate.

- The sugar is optional. I added some and liked the flavour but you can skip it if you'd like.

Before I sign off, here are some South Indian Breakfast Recipes from Edible Garden to motivate you to cook and eat the most important meal of the day

Soft Idlis
Instant wheat dosa
Rava upma
Semiya upma
Rava idli
Idli with idli rava
Wheat puttu
Idiyappam

January 23, 2013

10-Min Cheese Garlic Bread Recipe - Quick & Easy Snack Recipes

Learn how to make this easy 10-min Cheese Garlic Bread. It serves as a great appetizer and is easy to prep ahead and serve hot in large batches.
Who doesn't like Garlic Bread? Wait, don't answer that. Who doesn't like Garlic Bread with Cheese? Even my in-laws who are generally garlic-dislikers would say yes to Garlic Bread especially if it came with some cheese on top. Now, you can be all fancy and make Cheese Garlic Bread from scratch but that won't get done in 10 mins and you will be left with a bunch of vessels to clean. Don't get me wrong, I am all for making bread from scratch but sometimes what you need is a quick and easy snack or appetizer for guests (or for yourselves!) and this Cheesy Garlic Bread could be just the thing you are looking for.

10-min garlic cheese bread recipe

I made these Cheesy Garlic Bread as an appetizer for a pizza party for 6 people. I made my favourite pizza base recipe in a large batch, picked three different vegetarian pizza topping ideas (more on that later), and was wondering if we would have enough food to munch on while we waited for the pizzas to get done. I was wary of making an appetizer that would tie down my oven but nothing else seemed to go well with pizza except garlic bread!

10-Min Cheese Garlic Bread Recipe - Quick & Easy Snack Recipes

But I needn't have worried because this Cheese Garlic Bread takes not more than 10 mins and while you roll out your pizza base and get the toppings all layered on, the garlic bread is ready to be served.

January 22, 2013

Stir-Fried Jackfruit Seeds Kerala Style-Chakkakuru Mezhukkupuratti Recipe

Learn how to make this eay Stir-Fried Jackfruit Seeds recipe or Chakkakuru Mezhukkupuratti. Recipe tested and learnt from my mom.
Jackfruit seeds or Chakkakuru is a childhood favourite for both me and my brother. Chakkakuru Aviyal is a family favourite, really, closely followed by this mezhukkupiratti. Looking back, I realise a lot of vegetables we ate growing up in Kerala were received or grown and not bought. Most homes would have a parambu or a backyard that had all sorts of things growing there, and most homes had atleast one jackfruit tree, mango tree, coconut tree (of course!), and random things like mangosteen, rose apple, custard apple, lots of banana trees etc. Since most people can't really consume all that their backyard produces, often organically, neighbours and friends become grateful recipients of these super fresh fruits and vegetables.

Chakkakuru Mezhukkupuratti-Stir-Fried Jackfruit Seeds (Kerala-Style)

This whole cycle of sharing and giving and receiving was so interwoven that amma actually knows whose jackfruit tree produces the sweetest fruits and who has the orange-red seedless papaya that's actually a hybrid plant and whose backyard produces the best ethappazham that calls for making nothing but ethakka appam with it.

January 21, 2013

Egg Fried Rice Recipe-Indian-Chinese Egg Fried Rice Recipe

Learn how to make restaurant-style Indian-Chinese Egg Fried Rice using this easy recipe from my Amma.
Egg Fried Rice is a standard order of ours when we go to Indian-Chinese restaurants. TH is an eggetarian and Egg Fried Rice is his idea of living it up. Paired with a good Gobi Manchurian, our dinner is usually set and thoroughly enjoyed.

Egg Fried Rice Recipe-How to Make Egg Fried Rice Recipe

Amma generally makes Egg Fried Rice with leftover Vegetable Fried Rice so her version of Egg Fried Rice also has vegetables in it. Since I am so used to that from my childhood, I add vegetables to my Egg Fried Rice too. Erm... and yes, the lazy part of me doesn't make any side dish and adding vegetables also helps with balancing the meal a bit better *sheepish grin* :D

I have already shared the step by step pictures on how to make Vegetable Fried Rice which is pretty much the same for Egg Fried Rice too. I have also added the couple ofextra steps below to make it easier for you.

January 20, 2013

Okra Stew Recipe-How to Make Vendakka Stew Recipe

Learn how to make Okra or Vendakka Stew using this simple and easy recipe from my mom's kitchen through step by step pictures
As I have proclaimed loud and clear many times before, I am not a fan of vendakka or okra and pretty much any recipe with it doesn't push me to the other side. Amma, however, cooks a lot of vendakka recipes and this Vendakka Stew is a particular favourite of hers because it gets done so easy and quick with a minimum of ingredients. Like mom, like daughter, eh? ;)

Vendakka Stew-How to Make Okra Stew Recipe

The beauty of this vendakka stew, or pretty much any Kerala-style stew recipe is that is the list of ingredients are very small and the dish is almost exclusively with coconut milk and the main vegetable - in this case, Okra. So let's check out how to make this easy Okra or Vendakka stew.

January 18, 2013

Tamil Coconut Chutney Recipe-Thengai Chutney Recipe (for Idli-Dosa)

There are so many different variations to South Indian Coconut Chutney Recipes. However, this basic Tamil-Style Coconut Chutney that's my easiest chutney recipe for idli or dosa keeps us all grounded in its simplicity and maybe I can say authenticity too?

In Kerala, Coconut Chutneys are made with just coconut as the main ingredient but in Tamil Nadu, Pottukadalai or Roasted Bengal Gram is almost always added to coconut chutney. This gives more body and thickness to the chutney, not to mention makes it a bit more economic for hotels to serve generously (In Kerala, they just add water to the chutney generously, making it even more economic for them!). So let's check out how to make this easy Tamil Thengai Chutney to serve with idli, dosa, pongal, upma, etc.

Tamil Hotel-Style Coconut Chutney-Thengai Chutney Recipe

During our annual visits to Salem to my athamma's place, we'd always eat this Tamil Nadu style coconut chutney which was such a welcome break to us because it was so different from what we were used to back home and also because it somehow felt right having it with idli or dosa for breakfast in a different place when you are on vacation.

January 16, 2013

Instant Wheat Dosa Recipe | Godhuma Dosa Recipe

This Instant Wheat Dosa recipe, among many others, reminds me of my late Grandmom, Aatha to me. She was an expert at making these crispy, lacy, tempered, instant wheat dosa (or Godhuma Dosa as we call it) mainly because although it's an Instant Dosa Recipe, it requires more time to cook than regular dosas.

Instant Wheat Dosa Recipe-Godhuma Dosa Recipe

Her wheat dosa recipe only contains wheat flour that's diluted in water and then tempered with some spices and curry leaves. The spices add a great bite and flavour to the wheat dosa which already has a lovely aroma due to the wheat flour used. So, let's check out how to make easy and instant wheat dosa, shall we?

Instant Wheat Dosa Recipe-Godhuma Dosa Recipe

January 14, 2013

Vegetable Fried Rice Recipe-Indian-Chinese Veg Fried Rice Recipe

I can't believe I haven't shared this Vegetable Fried Rice recipe yet. Amma makes the best vegetable fried rice. In fact, in my opinion, she makes the best Indo-Chinese food. She cooks it effortlessly and fried rice is often made when she's lazy or doesn't want to cook anything elaborate. The good thing about her vegetable fried rice is that it has all the vegetables and lots of flavour so you don't really need a side dish for it. We usually have it with a light salad or an onion-tomato raita. So let's check out how to make Vegetable Fried Rice using her recipe.

Vegetable Fried Rice Recipe-Indian-Chinese Veg Fried Rice Recipe

Oh wait, before I get into the recipe, an important thing. I waited to go back and share amma's exact  recipe with you because there's an essential ingredient that makes it truly like restaurant-style Vegetable Fried Rice. The flavour and aroma is unmatchable and you have to use this if you want your fried rice to shine. Ok, I'll tell you already. It's celery! Spring onions are important too but the most important ingredient to give flavour to fried rice is ***drumrolls*** celery.

January 12, 2013

Poori Masala Recipe-Potato (Aloo) Masala For Poori Recipe

Poori Masala was rarely made at my amma's place because at any point in time, we needed to make breakfast for at least 5 people and what do you do with all that oil after frying the poori? Well, this was the story when we were growing up but now, amma makes poori masala at least once during our trips back home. Ah, the joys of growing up.

I remember how in school we'd have cooking and baking classes and during summer we would be given summer holiday homework. During the summer vacation before 5th std, we were asked to learn how to make poori masala. I remember learning this from amma back then!

Potato Masala Recipe - Aloo Masala for Poori

Eons ago, I shared the recipe for how to make poori at home. It's actually quite simple and hard to get wrong since anything deep fried like poori generally tastes good. During my last trip home, I realised amma makes the potato masala for poori a bit differently than I do and her potato masala tastes immensely better. The single reason for that seemed to be the equal amount of potatoes and onions she used in the potato masala. So I had to take pictures and share her recipe with you. I mean, that's what any self-respecting food blogger would do, right?

Note that the potato masala we make for pooris (also tastes great with chapatis and rotis, btw) is a bit different and milder than the potato masala for rice. The former kind is also much easier to prepare and tastes great with minimum effort, so it's totally my kind of recipe.

January 10, 2013

Eggless Steamed Chocolate Cake (No-Oven No-Bake) Eggless Choc Cake

I was making a layered checkered cake for a good friend last weekend using the eggless sponge cake as the base. For the chocolate sponge cake layer, I just added some cocoa powder to the batter and removed some flour to compensate. While going through the steps for the cake, I suddenly had this urge to take some of the chocolate sponge cake batter and steam it since I get a lot of questions from readers if they can make a cake without an oven, or if they can steam cakes instead of baking them. Well, there was only one way to find out.

Eggless Chocolate Cake Recipe-No Oven-Steamed Cake

So I pulled out two pudding moulds, greased them, added the chocolate batter, and steamed them. The resulting steamed eggless chocolate cake was moist, soft, fudgy, and delicious! I got super excited and wanted to share this steamed chocolate cake with you immediately.

January 9, 2013

How to Cook Rice for Biryani, Fried Rice, Pulao

There are so many different ways you can cook rice. This mostly depends on the type of rice you are using and what you plan to do with it - serve with curries, make into a mixed rice dish, add to a dessert, roll into a sushi, etc. When making mixed rice recipes, especially like mushroom fried rice or vegetable pulao, it's important to get the right consistency of cooked rice before you mix it in. This post will hopefully help you achieve that.

In my home, we have always cooked rice in an open pot of boiling water and drained the excess water off once the rice is cooked. This helps in removing the excess starch in rice (the resulting kanji vellam is used to starch clothes) and the grains remain separate, the way we like it.

How to Cook Rice for Biryani, Fried Rice, Pulao

My in-laws consume raw rice which is cooked in a pressure cooker or rice cooker, always. The consistency is more sticky and this works well for the kind of rasam and kuzhambu the rice is served with, not to mention pongal and other dishes made with this rice.

January 7, 2013

Gotsu Recipe-Kathirikai (Brinjal) Gothsu-Ven Pongal Gothsu Recipe

Apparently Ven Pongal and Gothsu are like Romeo and Juliet, only with a happier ending. As I have mentioned before, my Reddiar-Malayali mix of a household doesn't see a lot of Ven Pongal (but amma makes Sakkarai Pongal for all sorts of non-occasions, even for reasons like "I felt like eating Sakkarai Pongal) but my all-tamil in-laws do make and eat a fair bit of Ven Pongal and I thank my lucky stars for that.

Gothsu Recipe-Kathirikai (Brinjal) Gothsu-Ven Pongal Gothsu Recipe

I absolutely love Pongal but can only eat my mom-in-law's version of it. When we go out to eat at Murugan Idli Kadai or Saravana Bhavan in Singapore, Pongal is probably the last thing I'd order, don't ask me why.

January 5, 2013

Dry Indian Pepper Chicken-Pepper Chicken Masala Recipe

While growing up, I was exposed to quite a wide variety of food thanks to my mom's interest in cooking and baking. It's funny, however, that she knew more continental and Indo-Chinese recipes than North Indian ones. For instance, she hardly cooked with paneer or rajma but vegetable fried rice was a staple in our home, made at least once a week. I distinctly remember a Kerala-style Pepper Chicken recipe that got passed to her by someone which was interesting because the look of the dish was western but the taste was really like nadan Pepper Chicken.

Dry Indian Pepper Chicken-Pepper Chicken Masala Recipe

It was the same story with Indo-Chinese non-vegetarian recipes. She had quite a variety of recipes in hand and was especially good at making them. Back then, restaurants were fewer and her cooking was deemed truly restaurant-style.

This Pepper Chicken, however, is a humble concoction of her daughter, yours truly. There was some chicken at home, amma was not sure what to make with it and said I can do what I wanted. Ah, the golden words. Since we already had a couple vegetable curries for lunch anyway, I was under no pressure to match my chicken dish with anything - it could be anything I wanted. So this simple Kerala-style Pepper Chicken came to be.

January 4, 2013

Idli Recipe Using Idli Rava - Soft Idli Recipe

We use a standard recipe for idli and dosa batter at home with the same rice : urad dal ratio and even the same type of rice and urad dal purchased at the same store. While that idli recipe turns out great for me, I love experimenting with this staple South Indian breakfast dish.

Idli Recipe Using Idli Rava - Soft Idli Recipe

When I posted the basic idli recipe, a few commented saying how they use idli rava instead of rice in their idli batters. I had heard of idli rava before but never really gave it much thought but when I saw all the comments, I decided to give it a shot.

January 2, 2013

Badusha Recipe | How to make Badhusha Recipe Step by Step

Along with wishing all of you wonderful supporters and friends of Edible Garden a great new year 2013, I wanted to start off the year on a sweet note.

My athamma (of the Nei Appam recipe fame), is an expert at making Badusha. Her badusha is bite-sized, has just the right amount of sweetness, and has those lovely layers inside that all other badushas surely envy. For the longest time, I'd been meaning to get her to make these for me and take step by step pictures of how to make badhusha and it never happened due to my sporadic and super short visits to her home.

Badusha-Badhusha-How to make Badhusha-Step by Step Recipe

However, I got to see the second half of her badusha preparation process during this Christmas holidays. My niece loves her badusha so she made a huge batch just for us and we arrived at her home just when she was making the small discs of badusha dough ready to fry.

While traditionally Badhusha is made during Diwali, athamma makes it year round whenever there are enough people around to eat it.