Monday, December 7, 2009

Veg Au Gratin.

ooo, the camera lens got misty with the steaming hot pasta

Somtimes we simply dont feel like eating chapati at night and both my husband and I are not great fans of rice either. So it actually gets really difficult to think what to make for dinner. A couple of nights back I just did not feel like cooking. I checked the freezer and nothing seemed intresting and then I noticed I had a bag of mixed vegetables in Butter sauce. I had got this from Trader Joes. Humm,I thought that would save me a lot of trouble of cutting veggies. yes, that was it I decided to make Veg Au Gratin.
Its very weird, I have never seen anything like that in the restaurants here in San Diego. But its so common back in India. That was one of the first things I learnt in my Cookery Class when I was in class X. Its a complete comfort food,perfect for a cold evening.

Here is the recipe.

For the white sauce

  • 2-3 tbsp Maida
  • 3-4 tbsp of butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

For the Gratin

  • 1/2 packet Pasta- macaroni pasta or penne. (I used half a packet of the 1 lbs bag)
  • 1-2 cups Vegetables (carrot, peas, beans, corn, cauliflower- all diced and boiled). I used the frozen vegetables from Trader Joes.
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese.


  1. In a pan, melt the butter. Saute the maida till about 5 minutes. Do not let it brown.
  2. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly, so that no lumps are formed. In case you do get lumps, strain the mixture and then return it to heat.
  3. Add the salt,pepper and oregano.
  4. Boil the pasta as per the instructions.
  5. Drain the pasta. Keep aside.
  6. Add the boiled or frozen veggies to the simmering white sauce. cook for about five minutes.
  7. Add the pasta and mix everything up.
  8. Turn the heat off. Its ok if you find the pasta sauce a little liquidy, the pasta tends to soak the sauce.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  10. Dish out the pasta into an oven proof dish. Cover the top with grated mozzarella.
  11. Bake in the oven for 10- 15 mins or till the cheese turns brown.
  12. Take it out from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
  13. Serve hot with garlic bread.

Yummy. Enjoy.

Note: If the white sauce tends to thicken up, you can add some pasta liquid (the water in which you boiled the pasta). This will help you thin the sauce a bit.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quick sprout chaat

Sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C. Yes that's right, Vitamin C. The sprouting process increase the vitamin content of the lentils,or legumes. Not bad right, specially when its actually really easy to make sprouts at home.
I used Green moong dal and black chana,to make sprouts. Soak the lentils overnight. The next morning, tie them in a wet muslin cloth or paper towel. Just make sure the muslin cloth/paper towel,is moist. Keep moistening the cloth, daily. Soon you will see small baby shoots poking out of the muslin cloth. Your sprouts are all set.

I am personally not a fan of raw sprouts, so I always either boil them slightly,or saute them.

The other day I wanted to have something chaat-patta for lunch, so I thought of making chaat The healthy twist came from the addition of sprouts,which, for a change I added raw. Something really quick and easy and a great snack for the mid afternoon or the lunch box. Here is the recipe.

You will need:

  • 1 cup mixed sprouts
  • 1 boiled potato (diced)
  • 1/4 th cup peanuts
  • A few papdis (optional)
  • Red chilly powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Chaat masala powder
  • 1-2 tbsp of green chutney
  • 1-2 tbsp of sweet tamarind chutney
  • Lemon juice

  1. Once your sprouts are ready, and the potatoes boiled, there is not much to do. Just mix everything up.
  2. In a bowl,add the boiled and diced potato, add all the spices along with the green and sweet chutney.
  3. Crush the papdi a little and add that along with the peanuts. Add the lemon juice and mix it all up.
  4. As simple as that.
  5. You can add more stuff to this, like chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, some fruit like grapes.
  6. They would all not only add more colour and flavour,but also enhance the nutrient content of the whole dish.

This recipe is off to Srivalli's MLLA and Susan's host line up.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hello !

Woow, its almost the end of November, and within a month we will b wishing every one a very happy 2010.
I don't know, but this year seemed to have simply flown by. Specially the last three months.

After my wedding this was the first time I was involved in a number of community and cultural events, that kept me pretty busy. It was as though I was running a marathon,or some kind of an obstacle race. Balancing all that, along with the house, I actually did not get time to cook, leave alone cook fancy. Hence no recipe updates on my blog. Not to say I did not cook at all, but it was just the basics, my poor hubby dear had to eat a lot of frozen......

My first event was a fundraiser for an organisation I volunteer with . Its called Ekal Vidyalay. A non-profit organisation, that supports schools in the rural parts of India. The fundraiser marked the beginning of the San Diego chapter.
I was a volunteer in the organising committee. So that involved a ton of work. The show was in the middle of September and went off really well.

For the next two months, I was involved in three cultural events, all one after the other. The first was a play by a group called Sdnari. A women's group, supporting women that are subjected to domestic violence etc. My character was that of a friend. Though a very small role, it involved evening practises.
Simultaneously, there was a Diwali celebration. A cultural evening organised by the San diego Marathi mandal group. We were performing a marathi dance for this one.
Though pretty taxing, but this one was real fun. We got our costumes from India.
In case any one wants to see the dance, it can be checked out here

My last and the most important participation was in a cultural show called Rang Tarang. Its an Indian cultural show put up by Qualcomm. One of the largest IT companies in San Diego.
This is the one that I enjoyed the most and was closest to my heart.

The theme was our very own Bollywood, - Hindi movies. The directors came up with this great idea of interspersing an entire play with songs and dances and bhangra along with audio visuals, it was total "paise wassol". The play had all the elements of a hindi movie masala. There was a hero, a heroine, a villain. There was betrayal, agony, and offcourse, at the end there was a happy ending.

So after three months of full blown activities, and then getting things back into routine, I am finally figuring out my blogging world.

Hope all of you'll are doing well and getting ready for the holiday seasons.
Will get back to my recipe posting soon.

Till then,Happy cooking and blogging

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Event Entry

It actually seems sooooo long ago, that I actually took part in any blog events, weird. It was high time I felt more involved. each time I saw an event, I use to think to myself that I will make something special for the event and I somehow never got around doing that. This time when I saw Jihva for Ingredients ~ 2009-2010,hosted by Divya of Dil Se . I put off my procrastination, and decided to send in one of my archived recipes

So guys here are my recipes for the event.

Her theme is Rajhma, my all time favourite. Nothing like a sunday afternoon lunch of Rajhma chawal.....and sleeping after that......I called that Bliss....

I am sending in Rajhma Masala

Enjoy it with chapati, parantha, or as I said with plain rice.

More later
happy Cooking.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Ashtami celebrations

This year Ashtami was really different and lots of fun. Ashtami is the eight day of the Navratri celebrations. All those who fast throughout the Navratris, break their fast on the eight day. Kanya Pujan is done on that day, where in eight little girls are called home and made to eat "prasad" and given gifts like bangles, earrings etc.
Finding little girls was difficult, so I made the prasad and went to the mandir for Kanya Pujan.
Its such a sweet sight to see. Small girls all sitting in huge circles with their goody bags collecting their goodies, from everyone. It was adorable.
After getting ready, in the morning I decorated my little corner and made the prasad. The prasad consists of black chana, puri and suji halwa. It was good fun coz I had a few friends over for lunch, and then later in the evening we went for dandiya and garba.

Though the chanas I made were pretty straight forward and simple but still here goes the recipes.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of Black chana
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • Salt
  • ginger and green chillies
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp jeera dhania powder.
You have to :

  1. Soak chanas over night. Pressure cook them with salt.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. add the ginger and the green chillies.
  3. Add all the spices and put the boiled chanas.
  4. Saute it all, cover and cook till all the masala has coated the chanas.
  5. Its all done.

This year I kept the fast and celebrated Ashtami first time after four years of coming here to the US. It really felt good. I realised that all this keeps us involved and sure makes us feel all the more festive.

Hope Durga Ma showers her blessings on all.
More later.

Monday, September 21, 2009

German Chocolate Cake with Chocolate butter icing and Praline

My friends birthday was nearly a month ago and I had made this cake for him. I had already decided that this time I was going to try a cake mix and put all my work into the icing. But what icing and how not to make it similar to all my previous cakes. So I thought and searched , but could not find something convincing enough. not to mention the fact that my husband told me that it was better to get the cake from outside. That I think triggered me off.

And the result was is this yummy cake which all of them really enjoyed.

So here goes the recipes. The pictures don't do justice to the cake as I was more focused on getting everything right for the cake.
You will need:
For the Basic cake
Betty Crocker's German cake mix.

For the Filling
2-3 cups Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate chips.
1 cup Heavy whipping cream

The outer coating of Praline
1 cup sugar
1 cup mixed nuts (pecans,walnuts and cashews.)

For the icing
1 -1 1/2 cup Heavy whipping cream
Vanilla Essence
For the chocolate stars
1 cup ghiradelli chocolate chips
Other ingredients
Icing pen for writing.
Coffee liquor for soaking

You have to :

For the cake:
  1. Follow the directions on the package and bake the cake. This can be done a day before.
  2. Cut it into 2-3 layers.
  3. Make the coffee liquor by soaking any coffee in 1 cup of water and heating it till the coffee dissolves. cool it.
  4. Spoon the liquor over the layer of cakes. soaking each layer well. This gives a real good taste with the filling.
For the filling:
  1. Melt the chocolate either on a double broiler or in the microwave till the chips are melted.
  2. Add the cream to this and whip till peaks form. Refrigerate.
For the Praline:
  1. Break the nuts into small pieces.
  2. Heat the sugar in a dry saucepan till only melted. Be careful, once it melts and begins to caramelize it hardens up very fast.
  3. Add the chopped nuts and mix it all up. Pour it out on a parchment paper and let it cool.
The Praline getting cool.

For the stars and the chocolate plaque:
  1. Melt the chocolate. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper.
  2. Once the chocolate is completely melted pour it out onto the parchment and spread it in a layer. Let it cool.
  3. Once it begins to harden, cut out a big round for the plaque with a cookie cutter. The stars or any other shape can be cut using a cookie cutter. If you do not have a cookie cutter, simply cut out long stripes with a knife.
  4. Leave to cool completely.You can even put it in the refrigerator.
  5. Do not remove it from the sheet. Only give it its shape.

For the topping:

  1. Whip the cream with vanilla essence and sugar,till it forms peaks.
To Assemble the cake.
  1. Place the bottom layer of the coffee liquor soaked cake.
  2. Spread the filling in between.
  3. Repeat with all the layers.
  4. Know spread the whipping cream around.
  5. Make sure you cover all the sides of the cake with a thick layer of the cream.
  6. Now break the praline up and stick it all around the sides of the cake. You don't have to be particular about breaking it into small pieces. A little big pieces add to the texture.

8. With the icing writing pen, write down whatever message you want. I wrote Happy Birthday. Decorate with stars, or whatever shapes you have made.

9. Once completely cooled and firm, the chocolate stars and the plaque will come off the parchment really quick.

10. I then piped out some of the filling around the rim of the cake.

And voila, the cake is ready to be cut.

I made two cakes as there were thirty people comign for the party.

The cake as such is very easy to make, but what takes the most time is getting the different components ready to assemble them all together. This is a fun way I came up with, but there are endless possibilities with icing and cake decorating.

Hope you all enjoy this recipe.

More cake recipes coming soon.

Monday, August 31, 2009

My Tea Website

Yuhoo finally, its up and running,

Our tea website

A real small venture started out by my friend and me. It has taken us a while to get the website going. Its still not absolutely ready, as we would be adding new things slowly and steadily. But I would love to get all your opinions and offcourse if any one wants to order some good Indian tea.

Thanks and more later

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hot Sprout Chaat.

We all know how healthy sprouts are, but I always forget to soak them. So now whenever I make any of the lentils, I always soak extra. That takes care of the forgetting part.

Personally both my husband and I do not enjoy raw sprouts. We love it slightly sauted and spiced up. So I usually make it as a "garam chaat" or hot bowl of sprout salad. Its quick and great for packed lunches too. Rich in proteins and vitamin C sprouts are an excellent food choice and the possibilities to cook with them is endless.

Add it to curd to make raita
Add it to wraps or sandwiches.
Add it to a salad.
Boil it and stuff it in paranthas.
well I guess I have opened the pandoras box, we have to just keep looking.

So here is the quick recipe I made
You will need:
  • 1 cup Black chana sprouts.*
  • 1 cup Green Moong sprouts.*
  • 1/2 red sweet onions diced
  • 1 tomato diced
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp chopped green chillies.
  • 1/2 tbsp of butter
You have to :
  1. Heat the butter in a saute pan.
  2. Add the chopped green chillies. Add the onion and saute.
  3. Once the onions turn transparent, add the diced tomatoes. Saute.
  4. Add the sprouts along with the spices. mix everything up, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the cover and saute on high for another 2 minutes or till any excess water dries up.
  6. add the lemon juice.

* To make sprouts: Soak lentils like green moong, black chana, black eyed pea in water overnight. Drain the excess water and tie it up in a cloth or a paper towel. keep the cloth or towel wet and keep sprinkling water on them till you see the small shoots coming out. Store in the fridge.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Marble Cake

Life is full of the unexpected. A lot of you'll would agree to that I am sure. I had given up all hopes of getting back any of my pictures or data, that went down with the crashed hard drive. But my husband's colleague came in as saviour, and restored almost 40 gigs of the data !. What more all my pictures are safe and sound, just the way I had last seen them. Yipppeeeee!!!!!
Now I can post all my previous recipes with pictures.......
But as of now, I am going to post the cake recipe I made to say thank you. Since my husband was going to take it to work and then give it to his colleague, I did not want to do anything fancy.
As a young kid, my mom use to bake marble cakes for us. Simple, buttery with the perfect blend of cocoa and vanilla. So I decided on that.

I took my recipe from here. The recipe called for cake flour, but I substituted that for some all purpose flour and cornstarch. Here goes the recipe.

You will need

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/4th cup all purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

You have to

1. In a large bowl, with electric mixer at low speed, beat sugar and butter until blended. Increase speed to high, and beat until light and fluffy.
2. Add flour, milk, baking powder, vanilla, salt, and eggs; beat at medium speed until well mixed. Increase speed to high, and beat batter 4 minutes longer
3. Remove about 2 1/2 cups batter to a medium bowl. With a wire whisk or fork, beat cocoa into batter in medium bowl until well blended.
4. Grease a 10 inch springform pan. (Here a 9 inch would have also worked well). Alternately spoon vanilla and chocolate layers into prepared pan.
5. With a large spoon, cut and twist through batters to obtain marbled effect.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
6. Cool cake in pan, and on a wire rack, for 10 minutes.
7. Remove cake from pan, and cool completely.

Cut into pieces and serve. It tastes great with a cup of tea, coffee or simply a glass of cold milk.

Note: I found this great tip, if a recipe calls for cake flour follow this

1 cup cake flour= 3/4th cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp of corn starch.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Crashed Laptop,some lost pictures and HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

image source:

Scene 1: I get back and I am all excited to update my blog with all the latest posts.

Scene 2: I plug my camera to upload all the yummy pics of Masala idly, Sev puri and a yummy birthday cake. Save it.

After a gap of three hours.

Scene 3: I turn my laptop on, and get this blue screen with a weird message. Don't understand word of it, and try to reboot it again.
Entry of my husband. (office laptop in hand)

Husband: "what happened? what's that message?

Me: i don't know, all I was doing was uploading some pics.

Husband reads message, googles it on his laptop and gives his verdict.

Husband: Our hard drive just crashed. We will loose all data.

Me: what? what about the pictures?

Husband: I think we will loose all that. (repents), why dint we back up all this? A mistake.

Both of us (specially me), extremely sad.

As of now: Laptop is back with a new hard drive. And husband's colleague is trying to retrieve data. Hope he succeeds.

Well so that has been my story for the last three days. Pictures are the most priced possessions and we have seem to have lost all that. But I am hopefull.

As for the pictures for my blog, my husband suggests I make all that again and take new pictures. I guess that is a possibility.

So I guess that is that. I have to update my blog from here onwards, and forget about the old stuff.

Will get on with it soon. Some cooking over the weekend and some new pictures.

Till then


Vande mataram.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gujrati kadi

This is all time staple, at any gujrati household and my personal favourite too. Whats more, is that its super simple to make. The meal is complete with a simple potato curry, chapati, rice, and curd.

Personally I prefer this kadi to the punjabi kadi that everyone relishes at my mom's place. I feel there is to much work involved in that one. Maybe when I am up for it I will make it once and l post the recipe here. But right now its simple kadi recipe. Quick and real simple.

You will need
  • Curd- 1/2 cup
  • Gram flour (beasn)- 1 tbsp
  • Water- 1-2 cups
  • Gur- 1/2 inch pieces
  • Sugar- 1 tbsp (approx)
  • Salt- to taste
  • Turmeric powder- a pinch

For the tempering
  • ghee- 1 tbsp
  • curry leaves- 3-4
  • ginger- chopped
  • green chillies- 2-3 slit from the center.
  • Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
  • cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
  • cloves- 2-3
  • cinnamon stick- 1/2
  • whole red chilly-1
  • bay leaves- 1-2
  • asefotida or hing- 1/2 tsp
  • Red chilly powder- 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin and cilantro (jeera dhania) powder- 1/2 tsp
For the garnish
  • chopped cilantro
  • lemon juice

You have to
  1. In a saucepan mix together the curd and the gram flour to a paste.
  2. Add water and mix it well. Put it to simmer.
  3. Add salt, turmeric, gur and a few of the curry leaves. Let it simmer till the mixture begins to boil.
  4. Heat ghee in a separate pan. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon and hing.
  5. Once they begin to splutter, add the curry leaves along with the green chillies and the chopped ginger.
  6. Once you begin to get the aroma of all the spices add the red chilly powder and the jeera dhania powder.
  7. Add all this to the simmering curd and besan mixture. Add the sugar. Taste the kadi. If its not sweet, you might want to add some more sweet.
  8. Let it simmer for 5-10 mins more.
  9. Add some lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.
  10. Serve hot with rice.

There are a lot in ingredients, but trust me its really simple to make.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Quick Vegetable Soup

I think I am posting a recipe on my blog after ages. But after 6 weeks of stay in India, I actually felt a little lost when I was suppose to get dinner on the table. Probably coz I was hardly cooking in India. Enjoying my mom's cooking. And not bothered about the regular thought of " what should I make for dinner tonite"

So a couple of nights back, I did not feel like cooking any thing major. There was frozen pasta in the fridge which took care of my hubby's dinner. I thought of making some soup for myself. Checked the fridge for whatever was available. Got hold of a few veggies.

Sauteed and pureed the veggies, added some spices and there I had it, Quick vegetable soup. Nothing fancy, just a hearty bowl of soup. Here goes the recipes

You Will need
  • Green onions- 1, chopped
  • Onions-1/2 chopped
  • Green bell peppers- 1/2, chopped
  • Cauliflower- 1/2 cut in florets
  • Carrot- 1 , chopped
  • Frozen corn- 1
  • Tomatoes- 1 tin (I used the diced tomato ), You could use regular diced tomatoes
  • Tomato Sauce- 2 tbsp
  • Tabasco sauce- 1 tsp
  • Sea salt- to taste
  • Pepper- 1/2 tsp
  • Meditarrian seasoning from McCormick- 1 tsp.
  • Vegetable stock/chicken stock- 2-3 cups
  • Olive oil- 1tbsp

You have to

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the onions,saute. Add the tomatoes. Saute
  3. Add all the vegetables along with the salt. Cover and cook.
  4. Add the stock and let it simmer till veggies get cook. Cool.
  5. Puree all the vegetables in a blender.
  6. Return the puree to the saucepan. Add some more stock.
  7. Add the pepper along with the tomato sauce and the Tabasco.
  8. Bring to a boil. Taste for seasoning.
  9. Garnish with some sour cream/ butter and some green onions.
  10. Enjoy it.

I realised after tasting it, that it missed a bite. So croutons could taste really good, even boiled pasta would taste really yummy. This can even be used as a base to make some variations of other soups. Some cream too would make it richer.


Monday, July 20, 2009

This took so long

Wooow, I think this is longest I have been away from blogging. More than a month.
Well for starters, my husband has been having a project in India. He went for two weeks in April and then was asked to go for 6 weeks again in June. So I joined him. Pretty half hearted, coz of the fact that his project is going on in Delhi. And Delhi in the month of June, is like stepping in a huge blast furnace. This time was no different.

This was my worse trips to India. I fell sick, was on antibiotics most of the time, could not enjoy the food, go out or do any of the fun stuff. Personally I have never liked Delhi.(Sorry delhities.....). The three years I have spent there working, had me cribbing about the distance, the people the heat......Well the only thing that actually is fun in Delhi is the shopping and that too not in summers. And the food again not during the summer seasons.

We did not anticipate that it would be so hot and ventured to Amritsar. We went to see the Golden Temple as well as to the Wagha Border.

The Wagha border is a site to see. The Indian side was full of us enthusiastic Indians as compared to the other side, where you could actually count the number of people. The flag closing ceremony takes place every day at 4:30 in the evening. The entire excitement, made us forget all about the heat, and we screamed Vande Mantram, under the scorching heat and the temperatures reaching a 45 degree Celsius. I must admit it was a lot of fun.

We ate at all the dhaba food not taking care of the water we were drinking. And there it was, both me and my husband ended up with an upset stomach. At first we thought it was just the settling in phase. Though my hubby dear got back on track with one dose of an antibiotic. I was diagnosed with stomach flu, which took 10 days of antibiotics and lots of fluids and kichadi.
(I so did not go to India to have kichadi !!).
Its not that we did not go out at all, but very little , as compared to what I usually do on my trips to India, this was pretty much restricted.

With no rains, leaving one room to go to the other, was like crossing a dessert (seriously, I am not exaggerating). No electricity, no water, the people were out on the streets. I realised that we take a few things like water and electrictiy for granted here in the US.

Kolkatta was the saving grace....or maybe that its my birth place. But the weather was good, it was raining and I was feeling much better. I made up for all the junk food that I did not have in Delhi.

Indulged in the all time famous rolls, "puchkas", masala muri. It was satisfying.

We got back to San Diego, on the 12th of July. So here I am updating my blog after such a long time.

Will be posting picstures of some of my foodie experiences in India. And off course the recipes are going to start soon too.

Hope each one of you'll are doing well and enjoying blogging. Hope to see you all around.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

This is great. Update all ure social networks all at once. Its free.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mt Rainier- Seattle day 2

See the mountain in the distance, that was our destination.

Our second day in Seattle, was spent at Mt Rainier. I dont know if writing about it would do enough justice.

We were there in the first week of May, and we got to see snow!!!!! It was beautiful. Fresh white snow, blue skies, clouds, it was just spectacular.

I decided to write less this time.

So here are some of the many many pics we took.

This is the bakery we stopped at, had some delicious, Italian sodas , teas, coffee and yummy egg sandwiches.

Mount Rainier. Majestic beauty!

On our way, to the mountain.

We just wanted a picture from every angle

We went snow shoeing.

It was totally worthwhile. We were lucky, coz the weather was just perfect. Sunny, bright, and just the right temperature,for a perfect day.

On our way back we feasted on some good Indian Chinese at a place called Bamboo Gardens.

It came pretty close to the Indian Chinese I grew up eating in kolkata. Yet another great day had a yummy end !

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Seattle - A must for every foodie. Day 1

So my plan to update my blog, everyday during my visit to Seattle off course did not happen. We were all so engrossed in reviewing our entire days activities, that by the time I actually got some time, I was all set to hit the bed.

Where should I begin, well first things first, Seattle is a foodie paradise.- I think I have said that before about some other place too, never mind. As it is this post is going to be a long one, I might as well get straight to what I have to say rather than give boring intros........

They say it keeps raining in Seattle, but I think Seattle knew we were coming... (just joking!!!), the weather was perfect. In fact after staying in sunny San Diego, I kinda miss the rains. We don't get much of it here. It was raining the night we landed but the rest of the days we were there, it was really nice.

We were putting up with a friend of ours. Its always nice to have locals, when you go some place. This way you can manage to do all the non-touristy stuff. Get to know more about the local things and explore some of the hidden gems obviously with locals as your guiding light.

One such place was the "Brown Bag cafe". Located in Redmond, this place feeds a lot of hungry Microsoft souls as well as the others. Milan our friend took us to this place for brunch.

A very American menu, with huge portion sizes. I loved the pancake (recommended by our friend). I had the banana pecan pancake. Light, soft with a syrup, that was not to sweet nor too thick. I figured it did not have all the unhealthy corn starch to thicken it. The hash browns ordered by my brother in law, were yummy. Crispy, and nicely browned. Milan told us that they started out as a small mom and pop shop and now they have become so big that they have three to four branches. The best part was their little note on the table mat, that said no cell phones were allowed inside the restaurants. Check them out here We did carry a brown bag, cause we just could not finish it all. It tasted yummy the next day too.

Next we headed to downtown Seattle, our destination, the Pikes Market place. Frankly you need more than a day to check out each and every store there. Or if you are a resident of Seattle, you can take your time to explore. Oh, and needless to say, you got to love food.

Pike Market Place.

freshest of produce....

A farmer's market of kinds. With tons of local flavours mingling, its like a mixed goodies bag, with something for everyone. Fish lovers, this is the place to be. The famous Pike Place fish shop is something that all tourists and locals alike like to visit. We did not see it, but apparently the fish monger throw's a fish each time he makes a sale!!!!! hummm, that is indeed an interesting thing to watch. Check them out here
For all those who fancy dipping oils, do not worry, Pike place has that covered too. You can not miss this shop, a few shops before the first Starbucks, this place has a variety of flavours of Olive oil. Club it with there oh so sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar, and all you need is a bottle of good wine and some good music......your dinner is all set. I stopped by and picked up spicy olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The guy at the shop told us not to miss out Market spice. Tucked right next to the fish stall, there are over two hundred spice varieties and over 120 different types of teas, from all over the world.
The olive oil and Balsamic vinegar, my pick.

Picked up Orange Honey Hazelnuts, (the packet is almost close to finish!!!!!)

We had to stop by the first Starbucks. Well I don't fancy Starbucks much, but this is a must for every tourist. Do all the little touristy stuff here. Click pictures, pick up souvenirs and off course have a cup of coffee.

Few other places that caught my attention was, the Jelly store. An array of differently flavoured jellies. I picked up the spicy ginger. Next was The pasta shop. All pastas here are 5 dollars for half a pound. I filled my bag with Lemon Basil Fettuccine and a Calypse Blend.
The bag I picked up from Market Spice.

My husband had to actually pull me out and remind me we were on a schedule and that we could not spend our entire vacation looking at food stalls. Understandable. Though I still felt as if I had unfinished business here, I had to be content with what I saw and bought. We headed for the Space Needle. (an advice: If you are not crazy about views , I say skip this, and spend some more time at Pikes- but again that's my opinion)

View of Seattle downtown, from Space needle.

Get a feel of the place here
A few other places was a cheescake stall. Cheesecakes to go, delish. You can see them make these right in front of you. From fresh cheese shops, to bakeries, from local artists to an entire row of tulip sellars, this place has it all.

the Cheesecake place.

Dinner was at an Indian restaurant. When I am out, I rather avoid Indian food, but this one, as our friends told us, was really good. And coming from locals, we had to give it a shot. Located in downtown Bell view, this place is called Chutney. An upscale restaurant, the cooking is done, in an open kitchen. Apart from the regular stuff, there Bombay aloo is a must try. Spicy and crispy, they have freshly chopped ginger and garlic added to the masala. For starters, they did an excellent job on the aloo tikki too. Our dinner ended with the dessert platter, which had ras malai, gulab jamun kesar pista and mango kulfi.

A perfect end to a great day.

We planned our next day to Mount Rainer......

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I am off to Seattle

This is sooooo funny. Right now I am at the airport and updating my blog. I did not know I would get Internet connection at the airport. But now that I have it, I might as well make the best of it.
This year has been all a blur. We are already five months through. And we did not take any vacations. So we decided to take one. Destination-Seattle.

I have heard so much about Seattle, the greenery, the food scene, and the place in general, that we have been wanting to go there for a while now. Hopefully we will make the best out the three days we have.

I have thought about updating my blog with all the stuff I do in Seattle, that is only if I am able to get on to use my husbands laptop......probably once he is off to bed.

So on that note, here is me signing off. And look out for my posts about my take on Seattle.

chow and happy cooking to all.

Just for any readers who know Seattle, would appreciate if you'll could give me the non-touristy stuff to do in Seattle. I will link back to you'll in my posts.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fruit Cake

Yet another late post. Looks like I have to stop cribbing about not being able to update my blog regularly and just do it as and when it happens. For this moment to arrive, I have been planning since the past one week. More so, when the recipe I am going to post is as old as the Easter weekend.
Though this was not an Easter speciality, but this what was my contribution to the potluck that we had at a friends place. She has a lovely patio, overlooking the canyon. The day was just a perfect sunny San Diego day. There was authentic uppam with stew, some yummy potpies, appetizers, and offcourse my cake. We ate, painted Easter eggs, and off course enjoyed lazying in the sun.

Even though I have made this cake quite a few times, I have never stuck to the recipe. Its a different recipe all the time. Well let me take that back, they are not very different, just a couple of ingredients here and there. But offcourse the basic funda is same for all. Lots of fruits, with just enough batter to hold them together, to result in this yummy, festive fruit cake.

I think I have written enough, I need to give the recipe now, here it goes. I found this recipe here

You will need

1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup regular sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
Juice and zest of 1 orange.
3/4 cup almond-coarsely ground
1/2 cup pecans-coarsely ground
1 1/2 cups chopped dried fruits (cherries, candied peel, dry ginger, raisins, cranberries)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4tsp salt
2 tbsp of brandy or rum extract (essence)

You will have to

  1. If using brandy, soak the chopped dried fruit, in the brandy a week in advance.preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take an 8 inch spring form pan and line it with butter paper.
  2. beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well
  3. Add the rum extract,(if not using brandy) orange juice and zest. fold in the almonds , chopped dried fruits.
  4. In a separate bowl sieve together baking powder, flour and salt. fold this into the cake batter.
  5. \Bake in oven for an hour. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degree and bake for another half an hour.

    The cake can be brushed with brandy too and can be wrapped and stored for a long time in the freezer. The cake is usually made way in advance and is nourished with brandy until its Christmas time. yummyyyyyy!!!!!!!

More later.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tofu Frankies

Lavash breads are a staple of places like Turkey, Armenia, Iran. Here in the US, I came across Lavash breads at a speciality grocery store, that sells Mediterranean foods. It is quite similar to the roomali rotis we get in India, in fact they will work just perfectly with any curry dish.

I have been seeing the bread at Trader Joes (read my favourite store) for a long time now and wanting to try it out too. So I finally got it and thought of trying out wraps.

Why tofu? Well firstly my husband being a vegetarian doesn't get enough proteins and so I figured I need to give him protein at least once a day. Though he does have dals, but we don't have Indian everyday. So I really have to think hard in order for him to get his share of proteins for the day. He likes tofu, but only in Thai food, hence I figured that I need to camouflage it and serve it to him,and eureka!!!!!!, wraps.....What better way to camouflage, than to wrap it.

I don't think I am making any sense, here goes the recipe

You will need

  • Lavash bread- 2 sheets, (or you can use tortillas)

For the filling

  • 1 boiled potatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • tofu-1 cup (crumbled)
  • tomato sauce- 1/2 tsp
  • chily sauce- 1/2 ts
  • Lemon juice- 1/4th tsp
  • salt and pepper - to taste
  • sour cream- 1-2 tbsp
  • oil- 1 tbsp

You will have to

  1. Heat oil in a pan.
  2. saute onions, till transparent. Add the bell peppers. saute
  3. add the boiled potatoes, along with the tofu.
  4. Add the salt and pepper, along with the tomato sauce and the chilly sauce.
  5. Mix everything up , slightly mash the potatoes and mix it with the tofu. Add the lemon juice.
  6. Heat the lavash lightly,
  7. Place a spoonfull of the mixture in the center, add a little sour cream and roll the lavash all around.
  8. Cut through the center.
  9. Serve as is. Or keep it prepared and warm in the oven, everyone will love it.


Thursday, March 26, 2009


So finally here I am , updating my blog after a long time. obviously its not that I don't cook, but its just that I take a picture, upload it to my computer and tell myself "I have to post this recipe to my blog". So now I have a good number of recipes that I need to update my blog with.

This salad that I made, was a quick fix Sunday lunch. Surprisingly I had just the right ingredients in my fridge and my pantry. Got them all together and dressed it up with a yummy apricot vinaigrette dressing. It was perfect for a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Here goes the recipe

You will need

  • Pasta- 1 cup (You can use any. I used the spiral pasta)
  • Spring salad mix- 1 packet
  • black beans- 1/2 cup (boiled or tinned)
  • beet strings- 1/4th cup (I used tinned beets strings)
  • cucumber-1/2 (sliced)
  • carrot-1 (thinly sliced)
  • walnut- 4-5
  • sliced almonds- 2 tbsp
  • dried cranberries- 2 tbsp
  • For the dressing
  • Balsamic vinegar- 1/4 th cup
  • olive oil- 2-3 tbsp
  • apricot jam- 1 tbsp
  • salt and pepper to taste.

You have to

  1. Boil the pasta as per the package instructions.
  2. In a bowl, empty out the spring salad mix. Add the beet strings, the carrot and the cucumbers. Add the boiled red kidney beans.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix all the ingredients for the dressing. Whisk it all together. Refrigerate it for twenty minutes or so. This helps the flavours to settle in.
  4. Just before serving, drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss in the walnuts, almonds and cranberries.
  5. Serve.

This is more like a meal on its own. With the pasta, the beans the greens and the nuts.Its like having all the nutrition tossed together in one bowl. Enjoy.

Keep a look out for more recipes. Its spring cleaning and I am cleaning my backlogged folders. Yuhooooooo!!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Hello all fellow bloggers. I do not know where to start. The past few weeks have been like lightning, it all came so fast and went by so fast, I actually need to stop, take a deep breath and start afresh, much more clear and organised.

At first there were just a few things that I had to manage. There were days when I use to love the luxury of doing what I wanted to do and when I wanted to. And then there were days when I felt as though I was not doing enough.

And then everything was just swung towards me all at once, as though telling me " you wanted it, now you have it".......

To make all this a little more comprehensible, I am talking about work, home, business and my passions/ interests . Everything just needed to be done and taken care of.

I was volunteering with a nutritionist once a week or from home. Her assistant was going for another job, so she asked me to join her full time for nearly three weeks. Simultaneously, my friend approached me with a business proposition.

That was pretty exciting, as we researched more about opening up a tea kiosk, we found out it was no easy job. So we decided to start off something smaller and more easy to manage. We decided on selling tea, online and holding tea events. So the planning started.

Our first tea event was just last weekend (more on that later). So every evening when I got back from the nutritionist, me and my friend worked on our small little venture. The business name, business cards, packaging, everything. I will elaborate on that later in my next email.

Working nearly 14 hours a day, work at home was piling up and off course the blog was getting neglected. And not to forget my carpel tunnel syndrome, I actually needed to prioritise it all.
I felt so left out, seeing every one posting yummy stuff, and every day I would tell myself , I need to update my blog, and it never happened until today.

Starting Monday, I am only working twenty hours a week at the nutritionists place and then rest of the time devote to my little tea venture. I actually need to be more organised and more effective.

I seriously admire all those bloggers who do it all. Manage work, home, and their passion for blogging. Hats off.

I promise myself to be more disciplined and manage time more efficiently. I want to get back to my old blogging habits, and take part in events. I was just beginning to get noticed in the blogger world...booohuuuuuuuu!!!!!

But sometimes this break helps too. I have lots of recipes to update and will be updating them all soon.
Hope to have all my readers, ready for all my new recipes.
I am finally doing the balancing act.
wish me luck and give me some tips.
and we do not have kids yet!!!!!!!.

Take care guys.
Tea updates, website, name, events coming soon.

Monday, March 2, 2009

DARING BAKER'S - Chocolate Valentino

Finally I made it. With so much going on around me I baked my way through the Daring baker's challenge.
I did not manage to make the ice cream so I used store bought ice cream. I went ahead making the Flour less Chocolate cake.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Here is the recipe
Chocolate Valentino
preparation Time: 20 minutes.
You will need
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated
You have to

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

I think I used a bigger cake tin, so my cake did not rise a lot. So I cut it into rounds, using a cookie cutter.
Topped it with vanilla pecan ice cream (store bought off course).
Drizzled it with chocolate sauce and added some dried cranberries.
My husband and I just shared one serving and and might indulge in an other one, soon after I am done updating this.
So till the next daring baker's challenge here is happy baking to all.
Hopefully I will be the first to post in the next challenge.