Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chivda Mixture - A Quick and Easy Snack

This is an easier version of the traditional Mixture where you have to make a hundred different things - Boondi, Aloo chips, Maida squares, Omapodi, Karasev -  before getting the final Mixture ready to eat. I  know Mixture is laborious neverthesless worth all the effort. But, Chivda is a great option when you wanna make huge quantities of a quick snack!  It's lite, cheap and easy to get your hands on, like a free version of a great iPhone app :)

You need Poha(Aval), Pori (Puffed rice), Cashews, Groundnuts/Peanuts, Roasted gram (pottukadalai) and may be some store-bought Sev ;). My mom used to make this during Summer vacation days as we were at home all day and wanted to munch something while watching TV!

Chivda - Easy mixture

Here's how she makes it...

Ingredients -

  • Poha(Aval or Flattened Rice flakes) - 2 handfuls (Use thin variety)
  • Pori (Puffed rice) - 4 handfuls
  • Sev/Omapodi - 200 g (I just bought a packet of Aloo Bhujia from grocery store, it cost me $1)
  • Cashewnuts - 100 g
  • Groundnuts/Peanuts - 150 g
  • Roasted gram (Pottukadalai) - 200 g
  • Roasted Moong  - 200 g (optional)
  • Salted pistachios - 150 g (optional)
  • Raisins - 50 g
  • Sugar - 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Ghee - 1/2 tsp (optional, to roast cashews)

There is no hard and fast rule to the quantity of each ingredient; feel free to add more roasted gram or more cashews, if you love them :) 

Set A :
  • Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Black Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
  • Curry leaves - 2 twigs
  • Red chilli powder - 1 and 1/2 tsp (adjust to taste)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Hing - a generous pinch
  • Aamchur / Dry Mango powder- 1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala - a generous pinch
  • Salt - to taste (adjust according to quantity of nuts that are pre-salted)

How To -

  • Take a big kadai/pan, heat oil and splatter mustard. Follow it with the ingredients listed in Set A. Fried curry leaves are utterly crispy and  soo good to eat!

  • First, add Thin Poha/Aval/ Flattened rice flakes and fry well in the spice-oil mixture. This step is important as, poha does not taste good, if raw!
Flattened Rice flakes / Poha getting fried

  • After 5-7 minutes, add peanuts and cashews and roast them too. Add a bit of ghee, at this point, if you like :) 
    • I bought roasted and salted cashews and peanuts, so added them as such. Also, I added puffed rice (Pori) and then the nuts.
    • You can roast peanuts with their skin on. It tastes better that way. Add some more oil, if necessary.
Puffed rice going next

Roasted gram (Pottukadalai) and Roasted peanuts

Roasted cashewnuts

  • Then, add Pottukadalai (Roasted Gram), Roasted Moong (I didn't have this) and Sev (optional, but nice to have). Add salted pistachios and some raisins, if you like. Toss everything well together. 


Sev or Oma podi going in next

  • Check for salt.

  • Sprinkle sugar finally (and mix), if you like. I can see some of you showing faces at me at the mention of sugar! It's okay, sugar does add taste but it's purely optional, entirely upto you and what your family loves.

Chivda, ready to munch with coffee/tea

That's it! Chivda is ready! Store in air-tight containers. It stays good for 10 + days :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chickpea Salad with Honey-Sweet Cherry Tomatoes

This is a very simple salad with lemon juice dressing and spiced with nothing more than salt and pepper. Cooked chickpeas and honey-sweet tomatoes (cherry tomatoes) are the highlight. We wanted a light (nothing oily or spicy) but a good breakfast and I made this today.

This is super-quick to make, with no cooking, except for presuure-cooking the chickpeas (Channa/ Chole).
Therefore, utterly easy and it's so full of goodness of raw veggies :)

Chickpea Salad with Honey-Sweet Cherry Tomatoes

Preparation time - 15 minutes
Cooking Time - 15 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients -

  • Chickpeas (White channa) - 3 handfuls, soaked overnight and cooked with salt
    • If you don't have enough time to soak the cholé for 8 hours, soak for 3 hours and add a pinch of baking soda to the water when you pressure-cook.  
    • Drain water and add only the cooked cholé to the salad. But the water is actually channa stock so full of nutrition, hence can be saved to be used later in a gravy, instead of water.
  • Cherry tomatoes - 200 grams  
    • Please choose those that are said to be sweet and crispy, the Thailand-made ones are really good
    • Cut into half and add to salad
  • Red Onion - 2 , finely chopped
  • Tomato - 1 and 1/2 , finely chopped
  • Red Capsicum/ Red Bell pepper - 1/2, very finely chopped
    • Green or Yellow works as well
  • Carrot - 2, shredded fine
  • Fresh coriander/ cilantro - 4 mini-bunches, chopped  
    • Please add the stalks too, as they give the crunchy texture

Dressing -

Juice of half a lemon
Salt - to taste (~1/3 tsp)
Black pepper - to taste (~1/2 tsp)

Cherry tomatoes
Honey-Sweet Cherry Tomatoes, Very small, about the size of a cherry, slightly oval

To Assemble -

Take all the ingredients in a big bowl and toss together. Squeeze juice from one-half off a lemon and sprinkle salt and pepper. Toss and gently mix again.

I didn't add chaat masala or garam masala, but you can add a pinch of either one, if you feel like.
Chickpea and Cherry Tomato Salad

Enjoy this salad for breakfast or a healthy tea-time snack. This is very filling because of the chickpeas we add.

Sending this to Soups and Salads Mela hosted by Srivalli

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oats & Dry Fruits 'n' Nuts Ladoo / Laddu - A Healthy Sweet - With No Added Sugar

My (kid) sister wanted to surprise my parents on their wedding anniversary and asked me for a recipe that's quick and easy to prepare. Of course, a sweet would be very apt and better yet, if there's no cooking involved. She doesn't like to sweat long hours in the kitchen and wanted to come up with something smart yet elegant and yummy. Dry Fruits and Nuts Laddu was the result!

I vaguely remember spotting Haldiram's Dry Nuts Laddu on the racks when I shopped at a local Indian store. But I haven't tried it and didn't even look at the ingredient list. But something magical happens when you're quizzed by your younger sister, especially when you have claimed yourself to be a much better chef than she is! I looked into my fridge and pantry and there was a quick train of ideas. I know amma always stocks up her kitchen with Oats. Some dry fruits like Dates, Raisins, Figs would also be generally found in the fridge. So, here comes the Laddu with Nature's richest sources of nutrition.

 Oats & Dry Fruits Laddu

Yield - About 12 Laddus 
Time - 40 minutes

What I Used -

Oats - 2 cups
Cashewnuts - 15 + 12
Almonds / Badam - 15 nos.
Walnuts - 8 nos. (can add other nuts like pistachios, macadamia  and much more)
Raisins - 50 grams
Dates (Seedless)- 100 grams
Dried Figs - 10 (optional, I didn't have figs, so I increased the quantity of Dates)  
Ghee - 2 tsp (optional, for flavor)
Cardamom - 3 pods (crushed)

You can also add Chocolate chips or Butterscotch chips. I was really tempted to add Choco chips but omitted them at the last moment, wanting to keep this sweet purely Indian.  Whatever! :P

How To -

  • Fry Oats in a teaspoon of ghee on medium flame and roast it a bit. Allow to cool then powder using an electric mixer/ food processor. You can actually skip ghee, I just added it for the flavor :) 
    • Oats gives the mass required. 

  • Microwave the Nuts - Cashewnuts, Almonds and Walnuts , for about 2 minutes. Alternatively, toast the nuts (without oil/ghee) on a tawa / shallow pan on low heat. This helps to release the natural oils in them, which is essential to bind/hold the laddus together.

  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then powder each of the nuts separately, really fine. You can see that they might be slightly sticky.

  • Crush the cardamoms as fine as possible. Do not use the outer covering. Save that while making Masala Chai. :)

  • Mix together, powdered Oats, Nuts and Cardamom powder. These are the dry ingredients.

  • Meanwhile, microwave Dates for a minute (if you're taking it out directly from the fridge) and then grind to a paste.

  • Grind raisins separately into a paste.

  • Mix the Dates-paste and the Raisins-paste with the dry ingredients using your fingers first. Then, give all of them a whizz together, in the food processor.

  • Here's when you taste if the sweetness is sufficient for you or not. If less, grind more dates or raisins or figs and add. 

Dry Fruits n Nuts Laddu

  • Now, make small balls/laddus and stud a cashew in each one, if you like. I fried about 12 cashews in ghee and then picked one each for every laddu.
Oats & Dry Fruits Laddu

Sending this to  Khushi's My Diwali, My Way, Serve It- Festival Potluck and  Dr. Sameena's Diwali Sweet recipes

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thattai - Savory snack for Diwali - Step-by-Step Recipe

Murukku and Thattai are the most important savory snacks (must-haves) that my mom makes for Deepavali every year. Mixture is the next one and that one gets made in a big tin, about 5 kilos :)  Yes, Diwali used to be a wonderful time for me and my sis, as kids, where we get to give lists to mom (for sweets and savories) and dad (for fire-crackers), a month in advance :) Shopping at T.Nagar for Diwali clothes used to be a well-planned project, with me and my sis, short-listing the fashion-trend for that year, from "discussions" with our peer groups at school/college and competing to get the more-funky attire of the two! :P  Now, being a grown-up and far-away from family, Diwali celebration here is all about good food!!!


I made Thattai for the first time during last Deepavali and it was a huge success. The Thattais were crisp, not-too-oily and tasted right! I decided to make Thattais this time as well, as we already have 2 packs of Murukku fresh from Grand Sweets Adyar when my dad-in-law visited us last week.

What You Need To Make Thattais -

Rice flour - 4 cups
Urad flour - 1/2 cup
White sesame seeds (Vellai Ellu) - a handful
Channa dal/ Bengal gram dal (Kadala paruppu) - a handful
Hing / Asafoetida (Perumgayam) - 2 pinches
Red Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Pepper powder - 1 tsp (optional) 
Salt - ~ 3/4 tsp
Butter - 2 tbsp or less (Please note -> Don't add too much thinking it will enhance the taste of your Thattais, they will instead turn out to be chewy and not crispy!)
Oil - for frying
Water - as required, to make the dough

How To -

  • First, roast urad dal in a pan until slightly reddish (don't let them turn black please). Allow to cool and then powder using an electric mixer/ food processor. It should be fine.

Urad flour

  • Take a glass of water and microwave it. Then soak Channa dal in warm water for about 15 minutes.

  • Now, to the main step of making the dough. Take rice flour in a big bowl, add urad flour made and mix well.
  • Then add sesame seeds, salt, red chilli powder, hing. Drain off water from channa dal and add the softened channa dal.

  • Mix water gradually and make a dough. Add butter finally so that it's not crumbly and comes together as one mass. That indicates your dough is ready.

Dough is ready to make Thattais

  • Take a plastic sheet (Ziploc cover works too), grease with a little oil. Take a small portion of the dough, about the size of a small lemon, flatten it and make a thin circular disc. Thattai should not be thick else it wont get crisp.
    • I used the bag that Channa Dal came in. Later, oiled my palm and used that to make Thattai and slid them gently into hot oil.
    • It's recommended to apply oil periodically on your palm/plastic sheet, else you'll see the Thattai breaking off before you can drop them into the pan/ kadai.

  • Take a kadai and heat suffient oil for deep frying. When oil is hot enough, drop the discs carefully (about 4 at a time, depending on the size of your kadai) and deep-fry on low to medium flame. Turn them over when one side is done. Patience is the key to nice, crisp Thattais :)

  • It takes about 5 minutes or so, to get well-crisp and ready to be drained from oil. Use kitchen-tssues to absorb excess oil from the fried goodies. Let cool and then store them in an airtight container.

You don't have to wait for Deepavali to make it. Thattais are great to munch with a hot cuppa masala chai, any day, any time :)

Crisp Thattais

Sending this to Khushi's My Diwali My Way , Anu's Diwali - Festival of Lights, Serve It- Festival Potluck
events .

Pulisseri / Mor Kuzhambu - Kerala recipe

Mor means Buttermilk and Kuzhambu refers to the category of South-indian gravy that's usually eaten as the first course with rice. The second course is Rasam which is spiced soup (also eaten with rice).  I shall write more on South-Indian meals later :) 

Mor Kuzhambu is one of the easiest dishes to prepare within 15 minutes - end-to-end, this is. The ingredients are also fairly simple and usually available in any Indian kitchen. Therefore, this has become my go-to dish when I'm running out of time or very hungry back from work, with no energy to cook anything elaborate.
Pulisseri / Mor Kuzhambu

Shobana chithi (mom's sis) wrote a detailed email to me on how to make Pulisseri (a more common name in Kerala for Mor kuzhambu) the perfect way. I follow her recipe to the T with all success every single time.

What She Uses -

Oil - 1 tsp
Black mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 3/4 tsp
Dried red chillies - 4 nos.
Curry leaves - 1 or 2 strips

Vegetable like Okra(Lady's finger) or Old cucumber (Malabar velliri) or Brinjal/Eggplant or Colocasia/Cheppankizhangu - 2/3 cup

Plain Yogurt or Curd - 3/4 cup (Slightly sour is ok)

Coconut (grated) - 1/3 cup
Green chillies - 4 nos (Adjust to taste)
Salt - to taste

How My Chithi Makes Pulisseri -

  • Take a thick-bottomed pot/sauce pan, heat oil and splatter mustard and fenugreek.
  • Throw in curry leaves and then add red chillies(broken).
  • As it splatters, add some water.
  • Cook any vegetable (cucumber/okra/brinjal) with salt and a minute pinch of turmeric. Colocasia/ Cheppankizhangu has to be pressure-cooked and peeled before adding. Fry Okra/Brinjal first in oil for 3-4 mins and then add water.
    • I have used cucumber here. 

  • While it's cooking, grind coconut and green chillies to a very smooth consistency.

  • Add some curd and beat in the mixer itself.
  • When the veg is cooked, turn off the heat. Add the contents of the mixer, stir and turn on to medium. (This will prevent the curd from splitting for inexperienced people.)
  • Once it is on, it needs your undivided attention. Keep stirring. Check for salt and add if not enough.
  • In 3-4 minutes, you should see frothing along the edge when not stirring. Turn off.

  • DO NOT close the pot. Stir and close ajar with the spoon/ladle inside after 5 minutes. If you think it might be overdone, transfer to a serving bowl immediately. That might help if it's not too late.

  • Starting with the garnish helps in finishing the job in one pot and the essence of red chillies adds flavor.
Pulisseri/ Mor Kozhambu
 I served it with fried Okra/Lady's finger.
Fried Okra/Lady's finger

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Maa Laadu (Ladoo) / Maa Urundai - Diwali Sweet

This is my first Diwali sweet for the festival this year. It's the simplest of all sweets, with just 3 major ingredients : )

Maa Laadu / Maa Urundai

What You Need -

What you need for Maa Laadu

  • Roasted Gram Dal /Roasted Bengal gram (Pottu Kadalai) - 1 cup
  • Sugar - 1 cup
  • Ghee- 1/2 to 3/4 cup
    • Can substitute half with Vanaspati - Dalda (hydrogenated vegetable fat).
  • Cardamom - 3 pods
  • Cashews (optional)

How To -

  • Powder Roasted Gram dal into a fine powder using an electric mixer.

  • Next, powder sugar.

  • You could add cardamom to one of these (either roasted gram or sugar) and powder it together.
  • Next, take a kadai and heat Ghee (clarified butter) for 3 minutes.
  • Take a big mixing bowl, mix together the powdered pottu kadalai, sugar, cardamom and then pour the hot ghee over this. Be careful as you might hurt your fingers in hot ghee (like I did! )

  • You could use a stainless steel spoon to mix them all together, coarsely first. Then, you gotta use your fingers to make sure they're mixed evenly.
  • Make small lemon-sized balls of this mixture. The ghee helps to hold it all together. That's all. Maa Laadu is ready :)
Maa Urundai / Maa Laadu

  • Roast cashewnuts in ghee and stud them onto each ladoo, if you like. 

Sending this to these online events- Khushi's My Diwali, My Way, Serve It- Festival Potluck and  Dr. Sameena's Diwali Sweet recipes

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mexican Dinner - Vegetarian Bean Burritos - Step-By-Step

I was introduced to Mexican cuisine by my hubby when we were in the US. He loves TacoBell and used to order dinners "to-go" once every fortnight, atleast.  In fact, Bean Chalupas and Burritos were the first meal we had together when I arrived in the US soon after we were married. We dropped our baggage at home and off we went to the nearest Tacobell drive-in. Ummm...Beautiful memories :) and yummy food :)

Here, in Singapore, Boat Quay area has a good Mexican place that we love to go to. But it's not so often that we get to eat Mexican. I have been wanting to try it at home and here's my first attempt. Not bad! My hubby liked it and even agreed to pack it for lunch the next day :)

It's not really exotic per se and does not require any special Mexican ingredient as such. Sour Cream or Cream Cheese or some Cheese is all you need, apart from what's commonly found in an Indian kitchen. Tortillas or Burritos would be available in the grocery stores and you just have to warm them up in a tawa or microwave (However, I don't like microwaving method as it tends to become crisp very soon). Do give this recipe a try and let me know how you like it :)

Vegetarian Burritos

A native Mexican should tell if this is the real burrito they make. As for now, this is my way of making Burrito. I shall edit the post as I improvise, when I try it a few more times :)

What I Used -

Onion -1
Green capsicum/bell pepper - 1/2
Yellow capsicum/bell pepper - 1/2
Red capsicum/Bell pepper - 1/2 (I didn't have this)
Garlic - 4 pods
Red beans (Rajma) - 1 cup (soaked, cooked and rinsed)

Spice powders -

Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder / Paprika - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Pepper - to taste

Cream Cheese - 3 tbsp (Sour Cream would taste even better)
Fresh coriander/ cilantro - a small bunch

Oil - 1 tbsp

Burritos / Tortillas - 4

How To -

Discard the stem and seeds from the capsicum/bell pepper and chop them fine.

Chop onions finely. Mince garlic.
Take a nonstick pan, heat oil and fry onions until soft.

Add garlic and then fry for 2 mins.
Add chopped bell peppers.

Add salt required for the veggies and close the pan for 3 mins.
Add the spice powders.

Now, mash the pressure-cooked red beans (rajma) coarsely. It's ok to leave a few beans as such, here and there.

Add the mashed beans. Mix well and cook for 3 mins.
Finally add cream-cheese and mix.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves/cilantro.

Take your dosa kal/ tawa and warm the tortillas/ burritos on both sides for 10 - 20 seconds each. No oil please.

Spoon the filling mixture on the warm tortilla and roll it up. Repeat for each one.

Vegetarian Bean Burrito

Burritos, rolled up and ready

I served these burritos with Thai Sweet Chilli sauce (bcoz that's what I had, at the moment). Some fiery tomato-chilli sauce or Salsa would also go well together, attesting that this is spicy Mexican indeed :)  You may add some Salsa to the filling itself, if you like.  How about the Indian version of Salsa (Tomato thokku) ? This might appeal to the Indian palates, I guess :)

Absolutely filling and delicious Burritos

Sending this to Global Food Festival at Sizzling Tastebuds


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