Kothamalli Thokku

Kothamalli (Tamil) or Cilantro is low in cholesterol and a rich source of vitamins and minerals. It also aids in digestion.

I just love the aroma of cilantro and include it in every possible dish I cook. That really adds great flavour to any food and gives a fresh look. It is a brilliant garnishing ingredient. Not only for garnishing, it can be also used as a main ingredient to cook a variety of dishes. You can make pickles, chutnies or even a wonderful pulav.

This thokku is a great accompaniment for idly/dosa varieties and you can even mix it with hot rice for a kwik fix meal.


Cleaned and chopped cilantro - 2 cups
Red Chillies - 10
Tamarind Paste - 1 tsp or lemon sized ball
Gingelly oil - 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Asafoetida - a pinch
Mustard - 1 tsp


1. Grind the cilantro, red chillies and tamarind
2. Heat the oil, season with mustard and asafoetida, add the ground paste
3. Mix the salt and cook till oil separates.

Sending this to SWC - Cooking With Greens event hosted by Soumya.

Carrot Halwa

Halwa is a traditional sweet introduced to Indians by the Moghuls. But, it is the creativity of Indians to use various vegetables for making halwa. When it comes to food and food varieties, Indians top the list with so many states, culture and eating habits.

Halwa is actually a wide spectrum and can be in various forms; gelatinous, translucent, viscous, crumbly, dry etc.. It can be hard with definite shapes or soft and crumbled.

This particular form of halwa is famous among sikhs of Punjab and they call it Gajar (carrot) ka halwa. I feel this halwa tastes better when hot or warm rather than setting it cold. Icecream and warm carrot halwa makes a heavenly dessert. This is found in most Punjabi Dhabas. If you could spot the red Delhi carrots, make use of it. I have heard that gives the best taste.

This is also an easy sweet and you can never go wrong. Ideal recipe, when you are inviting guests. You can simmer the carrots and milk on one stove and by the time you are done with other items, this will be ready for the final touches. If you feel the grating part is tiresome, get hold of your husband/brother/son to do the job, just as I do ;)


Grated Carrot - 3 cups
Sugar - 2 cups
Condensed milk - 1 tablespoon
Khoa - 1 tablespoon
Milk - 1 1/2 cups
Ghee - 1 tablespoon
Cashewnuts and raisins fried in ghee - a handful


1. Fry the grated carrots in a tsp of ghee.
2. Add the milk and simmer the carrot for about an hr (Cook over low flame)
3. Mix the condensed milk, khoa and sugar. Keep stirring till the sugar melts and blends with the rest.
4. Add the ghee and when the halwa becomes thick and leaves the sides of the vessel, remove and garnish with nuts.


1. Frying the carrot in ghee is to get rid of the muddy flavor. It gives a nice aroma and taste.
2. If you run short of time, pressure cook the carrots with milk. I prefer simmering and the taste is awesome.
3. Condensed milk and khoa are optional. Use them for extra flavor. If you do not have both or one of the two, add extra sugar. I used unsweetened khoa.

Palak Paneer

I have spoken enough about my affinity towards greens. I consume a lot of spinach in various forms and I can beat popeye handsdown, if at all there is a competetion. Needless to say, it is highly nutritious and helps boosting your iron levels. If you are anaemic, include spinach in your every day diet or rather alternate days. I feel it is not good to have anything overdose. But this is a good source of calcium and iron and do remember to include this on a regular basis.
Palak Paneer is an interesting dish and a good way to consume spinach. It is a traditional north Indian dish where spinach is cooked in an onion-tomato gravy. It has a rich, creamy and smoothy texture sure to impress anyone. Try this melt-in-the-mouth recipe sometime.

Palak - 2 bunches
Grated tomatoes - 2 medium
Oil for frying - 1 tablespoon
Panner cubes - 10
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Grind to a paste
Jeera - 1 tsp
Pepper - 1 tsp
Ginger - 1 big piece
Garlic - 3 pods
Red Chillies - 3
Onions - 1 big
Cinnamon 1 small stick
Cardomom - 2

1. Fry the paneer and immerse in hot water
2. Heat the oil and season with jeera
3. Add the ground paste and fry well
4. Add chilli powder, turmeric, salt and tomato pulp. Fry till the oil oozes out
5. Cook the palak separately and make into a fine paste after squeezing the cooked water
6. Add the palak and cooked water to the tomato gravy and cook till oil separates
7. Add the fried paneer and cook for 5 more minutes

Serve hot with roti.

Tip: If you are using yellow onions, do not grind it raw. Chop it, boil with palak and grind it together with palak. If you want to know why, click here

Sending this to SWC -Cooking With Greens hosted by Soumya.

More kuzhambu

is loosely translated to yoghurt gravy and is popular among iyers.

I am updating my blog after a long break (a week) mainly because I was away on a vacation. I returned two days back but certain amount of laziness crept in and I was in a laid back mood. My own blog seems unfamiliar after the break and I had to try really hard to defy my laziness and break the silence. That explains how hard I work to get myself active. :)

Had an awesome holiday. Everything went on fine except for the awfully bad food. Being a vegetarian, I had to resort to cheese pizza and fries all the time. The cheese and potato made me really sick. Sick enough to transform me from a potato lover to a staunch hater of it. I despise the very sight of potatoes. Hope I will get back to the normal self after a week or so. I just wanted to gain access to my own sweet kitchen and started craving for healthy home food. I really wonder how some Indians could change their food habits and thrive on pizzas and like. It's never an healthy option and I think I can never change my food habits anytime anywhere. Infact, I am really proud of Indian food varieties. I see non-Indians falling crazy for Indian food and that explains the goodness of our food culture.

But being a foodie, I like trying diff varieties now and then. I started loving mexican food since it offers more choice for even veggies like me.

Coming back to the post, this is a typical south Indian food made regularly at home. I made it this time with lady's finger. You can even use pumpkin, taro (arbi) or chayote squash(chow chow).

I have given two methods though I posted the pic for the first method only. First is the Tanjore style and second, Kerala style.
Finally, my blog looks updated and I am glad for getting back on track.


Okra - 5 chopped
Thin Yoghurt or sour butter milk.(If the yoghurt is not sour, mix half a tsp tamarind paste)
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Hing - 1 pinch
For Paste
Coconut - 1.5 tablespoon
Red chillies - 2 medium sized
Fenugreek - 1/2 tsp
Soaked thoor dhall - 2 tsp
Channa dhall - 2 tsp
Dhania - 1 tsp
Fry the channa dhall, dhania, red chillies and fenugreek till light brown in a tsp of oil and grind together with coconut and thoor dhall.
Seasoning: Curry leaves, mustard, fenugreek 1/2 tsp, coconut oil or sesame oil or mix both.
salt to taste

1. Fry the okra in oil till crisp. Generally it is deep fried, but suddenly I turn calorie conscious and hence used a little oil to fry. Mix a little salt and keep aside.
2. Mix yoghurt, turmeric, hing, salt and ground paste.
3. Season the ingredients under seasoning, mix the curd and okra. Simmer a little and don't boil; otherwise the curd might break. That's the standing instruction for anything cooked with yoghurt.
Your gravy is ready to serve. Good to go with rice.

Method 2: Grind coconut, 1 tsp of cumin, 3 green chillies and use the paste in the similar way as method 1.

PS: For veggies other than okra, just boil and add. Don't fry.

Baingan Ka Bartha

Baingan(brinjal/eggplant/aubergine) is a vegetable despised by most people. Infact I too hated it as a kid. Later on, when I tasted dishes like enna kathrika and brinjal chutney, I thought its not bad after all ; well, going a step further I concluded it's also another yummy veg. For that matter, any food can taste yummy if you only cook it right. One might do wonders with brinjal or even end up making a disastarous potato meal (potatoes are supposed to taste yummy in any form). Cooking is all about what you add when. If you add the right ingredient at the right time, you can make delicious meal with just anything. You know I am a foodie and don't get surprised when I occasionally throw such words of wisdom :)
Coming to the brinjal story, I got hooked to it when I first tasted brinjal chutney. It is usually made with smoked brinjal and smoking adds a great flavour to the otherwise boring brinjal. The north Indian version of it is today's hero - Baingan Ka Bartha. It is a punjabi dish made with smoked brinjals cooked in Indian spices. It is traditionally made in a charcoal stove and since I couldn't get hold of one, I managed with my electric stove. The idea is to char the brinjal and add a smoky flavour. You can even make use of your conventional oven. This is the first ever time I am trying this and I should say I'm impressed with the results. I haven't even tasted this in hotels for the mere fact that I didn't wanna order brinjal when there are umpteen yummy dishes. This time when I saw those big eggplants in the produce section, I wanted to make the best out of it.
I have added peanuts to the recipe since peanuts and brinjal make a lovely pair. I don't think it is added in the authentic recipe. This goes well with both rice and rotis. One warning here is, the chance that you might like this dish is remote due to the smoky flavour. Try at your own risk!

Big eggplant - 1
Onion finely chopped - 1
Tomatoes finely chopped - 2
Jeera - 2 tsp
Ginger Garlic paste(or crushed ginger and garlic) - 1 tsp
Small green chillies - 3 finely chopped
Peanuts- a few
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Dhania powder - 1 tsp
Finely chopped coriander, onion and tomato to garnish
salt to taste
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Lemon juice - 1 tsp(optional)

1. Smoke the eggplant thoroughly over the stove or by using oven.
2. Remove the skin and mash it.
3. Heat oil, season with jeera and fry onions, green chillies, ginger and garlic.
4. Add tomatoes and peanuts; when cooked, add the dry powders.
5. Add the mashed eggplant and cook till dry.
6. Mix the lime juice and garnish with the ingredients mentioned.

Avial - My Comfort Food

Avial - an amazing yet simple dish from God's own country - Kerala. I got introduced to this lovely dish, way back, when I was a child and so I call it my comfort food. This made our standard sunday lunch - we would have rice, avial and pappad for lunch. Infact, I would go for a second round and have a bowl of avial, just like tat. Whenever, I make or eat this, I get transported to those lovely days. I would say it is a family favourite. Nutritious and yummy. Though cooking avial is easy, preparation time is more since we got to cut a lot of veggies. After some yrs, when I grew up, I took the job of buying the fresh veg and cutting it down. I, being a vegetable lover, would happily venture out selecting diff veg for avial. I wouldn't even mind a long walk to the veg market. Just the sight of the fresh veg would help me unwind. I would even try to be creative by getting bajji milaga (banana peppers) or tindora to add to the curry. I'm totally crazy about fresh veg. You got the idea, right?

I can offer you a tip here. If you are that kind of a person, who feels cutting a lot of vegetables is tedious, try to save the veg you cut during the course of the week.You can save time and effort that way. But take care that you cut them into thin slices suitable for avial and that too, of uniform size. This way you can store cut carrots, pumpkin, yam and beans in the fridge. But as far as I'm concerned, I like to cut them fresh just before cooking. I never use frozen veg that are available in the market. (except for peas) So, you decide the best.

White pumpkin is the major ingredient of avial and try not to omit it. But, in my opinion, nothing is mandatory and use up all vegetables you can. (However, avoid brinjal or okra)
If you do not have any other veg, you can make a simple avial with just white pumpkin. The combination of white pumpkin, coconut, green chillies and coconut oil is just awesome.

If you are such a perfectionist and have lot of patience, boil each veg separately or group them depending on the cooking time they require. I generally mix everything , add salt and pressure cook. I don't see any major problems. However, I do not pressure cook the drumsticks since they might break into sticks on overcooking. I will microwave it separately and mix with the rest. Coconut oil is mandatory and don't substitute it.

Carrot - 1
Beans - 10
Chow Chow (Chayote squash) - 1
White pumpkin (must)- a small piece
Yellow pumpkin - a small piece
Raw banana - 1 small
Raw mango - a small bit (optional, add if you really like it)
Yam - a small piece (I dont add it, since I get only frozen yam)
Potato - 1
Peas - 1/4 cup
Drumstick - 1
Curd - 1 cup (I do not like using sour curd, if you like the taste, go ahead and use it)
Coconut - 1/2 a cup
Cumin - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 5 to 7
Turmeric - a pinch (I like white avial so I do not add it)
Salt to taste
Coconut oil - 1 tablespoon (If you are health conscious add a little for taste. But this is mandatory)
Curry leaves - to garnish

1. Pressure cook the veg with a little water. When half cooked, mix the salt and cook again till done. Don't overcook, you should be able to see every veg in its original form.
2. Grind coconut, green chillies and cumin. Add this paste to the curd and mix well.
3.Add the curd mixture to the cooked veg and heat for a while. Just till everything blends. Too much heat will break the curd.
4. Switch off the gas, add the coconut oil and garnish with curry leaves.

Serve hot with rice and pappad. I like to eat this with bisibela bath.

Kwik Fix Series # 1 - Mixed Veg Parotta

I have decided to post some quick recipes under the label Kwik Fix Series. These recipes might come handy when you feel bored to put in that extra effort or when you really do not have time to accomplish an eloborate meal. Or, you can make use of this while hosting a party or inviting people home, to entertain your guests with an additional food item or to feed surprise guests.

I got a few disclaimers or let me put it as 'pre-requisites'. I might use frozen foods as the base like the way I used frozen parottas here or ready to eat items like sevai or bread etc. or some kitchen appliances like mixie which bachelors might not have. But I swear I will make something tasty, easy and quick. Most will be under 30 minutes recipe. If you could get all the ingredients together, I guarantee a kwik fix meal. Well ,the idea is you can plan and store certain things during the weekend to make a quick dish during the course of the week. Frozen foods are not healthy and so limit the consumption and use your discretion. One more thing, there are lot of ready to eat food here in US compared to India and some recipes might be useful only to ppl who stay here. For eg, I don't know if you get frozen parotta in India which is good enough for consumption. So keep all this in mind before you try out my recipes under Kwik Fix.

Now, for the recipe.


Broken parotta pieces - 1 cup (Mind it, its not paratha, its parotta, the ceylon style parotta which is famous in chennai street shops)
Sliced Onion - 1
Chopped Tomato - 1
Chopped Carrot - 1
Peas - half a cup
Green Chillies slitted - 3
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Dhaniya powder - 1 tsp
Pav Bhaji Masala - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Jeera - 2 tsp
Chopped Coriander to garnish


1. Thaw the frozen parotta pieces using microwave or by frying on a hot tawa. Even if you are using fresh parotta, fry it for a while (2 min). Keep aside.
2. Heat oil, season jeera, fry the onions and chillies.(Reserve some for the raitha)
3. Add tomato and cook till soft. Add carrot and peas. If you have microwave, boil the carrot and peas, while frying onions and add it. If you haven't boiled already, sprinkle water and boil for a while.
4. Add the parotta pieces and sprinkle little water. Add the dry powders and fry till everything blends and becomes a little crispy. Meanwhile, mix the onions with curd for raitha.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with raitha.

Tips: 1. If you have boiled chickpeas(channa) or the tinned ones, you can include it to enhance taste and nutrition.
2. In case you are not able to get parottas, use roti by breaking into pieces. I'm sure you would get atleast rotis.

Sending this to 15 minute cooking event hosted by Mahimaa.

Also, sending this to the Srilankan food event at Siri's corner originating from DK's blog. Thanx Ramya for letting me know.

Dal Fry

Dal is also a staple diet of Indians, in addition to rice and wheat. It is a mainstay cuisine in India and consumed with equal weightage across all parts of the nation. North Indians have it with rotis while South Indians mix it with rice directly or eat in the form of sambar/rasam. There are different types of dal like channa dal, thuvar dal, moong dal, masoor dal, urad dal and they are included in every day Indian cooking. Any kind of dal is a protein power house and that's the major source of proteins for vegetarians like me. Rice, ghee and tuvar dal makes the lunch for most Indian kiddos. Infact, I relish a plate of paruppu sadham(rice and dal) even now, just as a kid would. Here I give the recipe for a basic dal fry which makes an awesome combo with rotis or rice. I have mixed tuvar dal and moong dal in my recipe and there are recipes which use masoor dal and channa dal also. So, you might give it a try. I have used butter to season, since it adds a nice flavour to the dish. If you are calorie conscious, omit the butter and add a tsp of oil.
The above picture was taken at the US botanical garden, Washington DC. Got excited on seeing something from India and clicked it. Felt its apt for this post.

Moong dal - 1 cup
Tuvar dal - 1/2 cup
Onion - 1 finely chopped
Tomato - 2 finely chopped
Butter - 1 tablespoon
Jeera - 2 tsp
Green chillies - 2 finely chopped
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Crushed ginger and garlic - 1 tsp
Chopped coriander to garnish
Salt to taste

1. Mix both the dal, wash and soak in 3 cups water for 15 min. Pressure cook till 3/4 th done.
2. Heat butter, season with jeera and fry the onions, ginger and garlic.
3. Add the green chillies, fry for a minute and then add the tomatoes.
4. When the tomatoes become soft, add the cooked dal and dry powders. Add enough water to get the required consistency and boil. Dal will get thick after a while. So keep that in mind while adding water.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with rotis or rice.

Chole Masala

It's time for some authentic Punjabi food. Are you looking for the recipe of the famous Chole Masala? You have landed, rightly here! I have seen several versions of the recipe using tea for inducing black colour. I sort of, don't like the idea and omitted it conveniently.Well,convenience both in terms of cooking and eating.

When did I actually fell in love with the dish? The best channa masala I have had till date, surprisingly does not come from a dhaba. It is indeed from my fav Saravana Bhavan. However, I have had it in the hotel's Chennai branches a couple of years back and not sure whether it is the same now. During my college days, I used to have a plate of cutlet channa from the restaurant atleast once a week, while walking back home from the bus stop. The plate was served, garnished with a chilli, slices of onion, a ring of tomato, a wedge of lemon and chopped coriander. Nothing to beat the taste. In an effort to recreate the magic, I tried this recipe and I should say, it tasted different yet wonderful. Mine is closer to the Dhabha taste and therfore I can rightfully claim that it is authentic chole masala. May be, the dish at Saravana Bhavan was tweaked a bit to be able to go as a chaat.

Kabuli channa is rich in proteins and that makes this a nutritious food. You can have this with batura, poori, roti or even with bread or cutlet as chaat. Garnishing with onions and lemon really does the trick and enhances the taste.

Boiled channa - 3 or 4 cups(Soak the channa overnight and pressure cook till completely done)
Onion - 1 big
Tomatoes - 2 Medium
Cilantro - Handful
Green chillies - 3 medium
Turmeric powder - 2 tsp
Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Dhania powder - 1 tsp
Chole masala - 1 tsp
Ginger and garlic - just enough to make a teaspoon of paste
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Kasoori methi - 1 tsp(Optional)
To garnish: Chopped coriander, sliced onions, Lemon wedge


Paste 1: Onions(Optional), ginger and garlic. (Read this if you are grinding onions)
Paste 2: Cilantro, green chillies and tomato
Paste 3: Grind a handful of boiled channa

1. Heat the oil and season with Jeera.
2. Add paste 1 and fry till light brown. If you are not grinding onions, add chopped onions and fry. Now a days, I have resorted to chopping onions.
3. Add paste 2, turmeric, dhania powder and chilli powder. Cook till done.
4. Add the cooked channa and a little water. Add salt, chole masala, kasoori methi and boil. Mix Paste 3.
5. Serve hot with pooris, bhatura or rotis. Don't forget to garnish with onions and lime.

Tip: Add half a tsp of chaat masala if you are serving as bread channa or cutlet channa.

Sending this to Sunday Snacks - Chaats hosted by Pallavi.

Badam Halwa

hmmm... slurp! I just can't take my eyes off the picture and the flavor still lingers in my taste buds. Badam Halwa is a rich and delicious dessert with the base as pureed almonds combined with the sweetness of sugar, goodness of ghee and the delicate flavour of saffron. I would say saffron is a must-add ingredient as it brings out an all-new taste for the sweet and both of them are made for each other. My memories of badam halwa go a long way back and this is one regular sweet which is favourite to everyone at home. The recipe is quite simple and you can never go wrong. It is not as tricky as a mysorepak and you can have it in any consistency - hard or soft and name it conveniently as burfi or halwa. Easy, quick, universally acclaimed and at the end of the day, you can convince people that you are a great chef. What more do u need?


Almonds (soaked over night & peeled) 1 cup
Sugar 1 to 1 1/2 cups (Adjust to suit your taste)
Ghee - 1/4 cup(You may add more if you want it richer)
Milk - 1 cup
Yellow color - a pinch(optional)
Saffron to decorate


1. Grind the almonds with milk into a smooth paste. Mix the yellow color.
2. Cook the paste with the remaining milk in a tawa and add the sugar.
3. Keep stirring until the sugar blends and add the ghee little by little.
4. When the paste becomes thick and leaves the side of the vessel without sticking to the bottom, halwa is ready.
5. Decorate with saffron

Tip: Soak the almonds in hot water to easily remove the skin. You can even microwave quickly for the same effect.

Sending this to Mithai Mela event hosted by Srivalli.