Sunday, August 7

Vitamin C special Strawberry Lemonade

Bright sunny Friday evening, old friends and BBQ is one good old equation to happiness. Strawberry lemonade adds little more zing to that.
It goes really well with any grilled meat or veggies.
Works great as a nice energy booster on a tiring day!!

  • Strawberries 2 boxes.
  • Lemons - 4.
  • Limes - 4.
  • Naval Oranges - 4-5.
  • Salt.
  • White Pepper.
  • Sugar/honey/artificial sweetener.
  • Ice.
  • Frozen lemonade ( optional).
  • 1/4 cup of fresh mint.
  • Water.

How to!
  • Wash all the fruits and slice thinly.
  • Mix some cold water ( or ice ) to about half of the strawberries and run it through a blender till it becomes a nice puree.
  • In 4 cups of water add the pureed strawberries , mint, Sugar ( or honey or substitute) , little white pepper and mix.
  • Squeeze out all the juice from the slices of lemons, oranges, limes in the water. Do not throw away the slices, instead put them right in that water.
  • Adjust salt/Sugar/pepper as per the taste based on how sweet/sour the citrus fruits are.
  • If you are making it for party you can add the frozen lemonade to the same water to increase the quantity and still maintain the taste. Serve chilled.
  • Avoid using any color/corn syrup as the natural color of strawberries looks the best!!
  • When the berries are not in season you can use the frozen one but it doesn't taste that great!
  • To make it into a nice cocktail you can mix one part of Rum to 2 parts of the Lemonade ( for a cocktail you need to make it a little on the stronger side) and 1 part of any Lemon soda ( like sprite or 7 Up). The cocktail tastes almost like a Mojito.

Sunday, February 20

Four Cheese Stuffed chicken with fig sauce

You can turn any day into a special day...All you need is a little imagination!

Here's what I came up with on one of those 'every day' days and it made that day a 'special' day....

Ideas to make it special? some tulips, served some nice wine and printed the Menu on a paper and kept 'reserved' sign on the table...Silly...isn't it?


  1. Chicken breasts ( possibly sliced)
  2. Monterey Jack cheese
  3. Cream Cheese
  4. Pepper Jack Cheese
  5. Feta Cheese
  6. Curry powder
  7. Fennel powder
  8. Capers
  9. Salt
  10. Pepper
  11. Paprika
  12. Sun Dried tomatoes
  13. Basil
  14. Oregano
  15. Thinly sliced white onions
  16. Garlic cloves- 4-5
  17. Figs - 15 to 16 ( More the better)
  18. Baby Spinach
  19. Fresh lime Juice

Step A : Preparing the Chicken.
  1. Wash and pat dry the chicken breasts. Cover the firm working surface ( wooden cutting board etc) with plastic wrap. Put the sliced chicken breasts on it and add another layer of plastic wrap on the chicken breasts locking them in 2 layers.
  2. With a hard bottomed pan pound the chicken breasts to make them thinner. Please be careful as you don't want to ruin the soft tissues of the muscle.
Step B: The Core ( Aka the filling)
  1. Mix together 1/3 cup of each type of cheese. There is not a hard and fast rule about the measurements here. If you don't have one kind of cheese you can replace it with what you like. The only important cheese is the cream cheese as it is used to bind the stuffing together.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you are using the pepper jack cheese go a little light on the pepper.
  3. Add a pinch of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of fennel powder, finely chopped sun dried tomatoes, basil leaves(5-6), 12-15 capers, lime juice ( 1/2 teaspoon) and 1 teaspoon oregano to the cheese mixture.
  4. There is no perfect measurements for these ingredients. You can choose them as you like.
  5. Mix well and keep aside for 5 minutes.
Step C: The Onion and Fig Sauce bed
  1. Add olive oil to the pan to coat bottom just enough. ( I added 2 teaspoons)
  2. Once the oil is hot add onions, garlic cloves and chopped fig.
  3. Saute this mixture just till the oil coats the onions. Add a little salt and pepper to this and keep cooking on the lowest possible heat.
Step D : The centerpiece
  1. Remove the wrap from the chicken breasts and pat dry again. Season the breasts with little salt and pepper.
  2. Spread the cheese mixture on each chicken breast.Add baby spinach leaves on the cheese mixture.
  3. Take the short end of the breast in your hand and start rolling the chicken to the other end.
  4. The most important part is not to stuff the chicken too much.
  5. Take a cooking thread and tie the chicken roll as tight as you can without getting the stuffing out.
  6. Season the rolls with salt and pepper from out side.
Step E: Getting things together.
  1. In the pan carefully place the chicken rolls on the bed of onions, garlic and figs. You need to make sure that the chicken does not directly touch the bottom of the pan.
  2. Preheat over at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. It's ideal if you can use the pan which is oven safe as well. That's where the 'star of my kitchen' - my Le Creuset Dutch Oven comes into the spotlight :-).
  4. If you don't have a pan which you can use on the stove and in the oven - don't worry. You can still pull it through.
  5. Take a baking pan and cover the bottom of it with the slightly cooked onions, garlic and figs. Place the chicken rolls on that bed and cook it in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. If you have any leftover stuffing then you can use it with tomatoes. Cut the tomato in half,remove the seeds, stuff it with the cheese mixture and bake it with the chicken in the same pan. The water from the tomatoes helps to keep the chicken moist.
  7. Each oven is calibrated differently and only you know how it works. The key to check if the chicken is done is to do a toothpick test.
Step F: The show time.
  1. Once the chicken is cooked take the rolls out and let it cool. Once it is cooled remove the threads.
  2. In a blender blend together the cooked onions, garlic and figs into a paste.
  3. In the same pan add the blended mixture and the chicken rolls and simmer on a low heat.
  4. Serve the chicken and the sauce with saffron pilaf ( as I did) or with bread or with just simple boiled rice.
I hope you enjoy it just like we did! :)

Friday, January 8


Someone asked me 'What would you like for your last meal on the earth'. 'Ice cream' and 'Basundi' was a ready answer. Basundi is a dessert made by reducing milk for hours.
Eating Basundi has always been #1 on 'things to eat list' during the India visit. Somehow I haven't found any good place in bay area which serves basundi. I tried the instant mixes but they are miserable as they contain nothing but milk powder and sugar.

Today I found a can of condensed milk in the pantry when I was looking for something else. It was a Eureka moment. 'N' just knew I was up to something. The joy in his eyes when I served Basundi for dinner was worth the efforts.

1. 14 Oz can of sweetened condensed milk
2. 14 Oz fat free milk.
3. 12 Oz can of fat free evaporated milk.
4. 8 Oz heavy whipping cream.
5. 6-7 Almonds
6. a pinch of saffron.

How to make
1. Soak almonds in warm water for 15-20 minutes. That way it becomes easier to cut them in small pieces.
2. Mix sweetened condensed milk, fat free milk, evaporated milk and heavy whipping cream together in a heavy bottom sauce pan.
3. Put it on heat on low for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently.
4. Add chopped almonds ( or any dry fruit of your choice) and crushed saffron.
5. Heat it till it boils.
6. Set it in the refrigerator and serve it cold. Tastes best when served with Puri.

Thursday, January 7

Tambda Rassa and Sukha Chicken.

On a rainy night of the winter 'Tambda Rassa' gives you a reason to stay home and still be happy. This curry consists of 2 parts - Suka Chicken aka dry chicken ( without gravy) and Rassa aka very thin gravy..almost like flavored broth.

Without any more prelude here's the recipe. I have modified the original recipe to make it a little healthy but all due credit to Amruta and Ashish.

1. Chicken - Breast + thighs.
2. 4-5 cloves.
3. One medium stick of Cinnamon.
4. 12-15 Peppercorn.
5. 1 cup Coriander seeds.
6.1 cup Sesame seeds.
7. 2 dry red chillies
8. 1 green chilly.
9. 2 cups of chopped fresh Coriander leaves.
10. 1 cup of dry coconut.
11. 1 cup of freshly grated coconut.
12. 3 big Onions.
13. 10 Garlic cloves.
14. 2 inch Ginger piece.
15. 2 Teaspoons of oil
16. 1 cup of yogurt.
17. 2 Teaspoons of Turmeric powder.
18. 4-5 Aniseed.
19. 3 Cardamom pods.
20 2-3 teaspoons of poppy seeds.

How to make.
1. Cut chicken in big chunks and clean it. In a pressure cooker cook chicken with turmeric powder and ginger.
2. Do not discard the broth. That would be used for Rassa.
3. Cut the bottom portion of the onion and give it some rough chops. Roast it in the oven at 375 degrees for 10 mins. All ovens are different so just keep an eye on the onion. We want it to be a little brownish on the outside and little mushy.
4. Roast together - Peppercorn, dry coconut, cloves, sesame seeds,coriander seeds, poppy seeds,aniseed,cardamom and keep aside to cool.
5. Roast freshly grated coconut just enough to remove the moisture.
6. When cooled grind together #3,#4 and #5 above with garlic and coriander. Do not add any water.
7. Chop one onion very finely. Heat oil in the pan and add onion with little bit of red chilly powder.
8. Once the onions are translucent, add half the mixture from #6 above and fry for 2 minutes.
9. To the onions, add the drained chicken pieces and fry for another 5-6 minutes. Remember, the chicken is already cooked so this step is just to spice it up. You would find that the breast pieces start falling apart. That's when you want to stop and add a little salt and pepper to taste.
10. Add the remaining mixture from #6 to the broth and start boiling. Adjust salt.
11. Once it start boiling, add the yogurt and boil again. This step is to make it little less spicy. If you are the one who likes to sweat eating hot stuff ; just skip this step :).
12. You have your suka chicken and Rassa ready. Enjoy is with plain roti and/or steam rice! YUM!!!

Spring Onion and Leek Pithale

Pithale is a classic Mahatashtrian dish made out of gram flour. It's a hit at my home any day. Quick, easy and hands down delicious.!!

Here is a little variation to the classic recipe. The original recipe has regular onions and has more gram flour than onions. I tried to make it little healthier by reducing the flour and adding fresh spring onions and leeks.

1. 5 bunches of fresh spring onions.
2. 2 bunches of leek.
3. 1 teaspoon of cumin powder.
4. 1 teaspoon of coriander powder.
5. 1 teaspoon of red chilly powder.
6. Salt to taste.
7. Pinch of sugar.
8. Juice of a lemon.
9. 1 teaspoon of oil
10. 1/2 cup of gram flour.

How to make.
1. Add all the powders, lemon juice, salt and sugar together to the gram flour. Adjust the red chilly powder based on how much spicy you want.
2. Add oil to the pan and add chopped spring onions, chopped leeks.
3. Add salt and keep stirring until the onions and leeks start leaving some water.
4. Add the mixture from #1 slowly and keep stirring.
5. Adjust salt and red chilly powder. Quick and easy and definitely a good meal for a busy weekday night!!

Friday, December 25

Salaam Bademjan!!

Love for eggplant is in my genes. I belong to the region which produces best eggplants in south Maharashtra region. During the initial days of US stay - I was little skeptical before visiting a middle eastern restaurant. Being vegetarian I had choices between spinach and eggplant dishes. I chose eggplant and it was worth it.

I tried making it at home and I think I was pretty close to the original taste. This is my version of Eggplant Bademjan.

1 BIG Eggplant.
2 small tomatoes.
1 teaspoon sesame seeds.
1 teaspoon fennel seeds.
2 heaping teaspoons of garam masala.
1 teaspoon Kalongee ( Onion seeds).
2 tablespoon olive oil.
1 teaspoon ground pepper.
2 teaspoons of olive oil.
Salt to taste.

For Yogurt Sauce
1. 1 cup yogurt.
2. Salt to taste
3. Sugar to taste.
4. 3-4 drops of lemon juice if you like tangy yogurt.
5. 1 teaspoon cumin powder.
6. 1 teaspoon dried parsley.

How to make
1. Cut eggplant in big chunks.
2. In a large bowl add eggplant pieces, salt, pepper and garam masala. Put aside for 15-20 minutes. Put little extra salt as this is the only time the dish will have salt.
3.Get rid of the extra water from the bowl and pat dry the eggplant pieces.
4. In a pan saute eggplant pieces along with sesame, onion and fennel seeds in olive oil. Keep the heat on medium high and continue flipping the eggplant pieces. Continue this till the eggplant starts browning. Try to brown it on all the sides. Keep Aside.
5. Cut the tomatoes in chunks and add to the pan.
6. Cook the tomatoes on high heat until they disintegrate. Add eggplant to this tomato sauce.
7. Prepare tangy yogurt salt by mixing all the ingredients, add little extra lemon juice if you like it tangy.
8. Serve the hot eggplant with cold yogurt sauce. Best served with naan and/or rice.

Sunday, July 5

Bhadang and Dry Bhel - Perfect for summer time

Bhadang is a snack you would find in every household of Western Maharashtra region in India.It's basically seasoned puffed rice. They make it with different flavors. In recent India trip I discovered that they now make it in Tomato, Tamarind and Chilly flavor too.

I would still like to stick to the basic version of Bhadang which I used to eat when I was a kid.

1 pack of puffed rice ( You can get it in any Indian store in US).
2 teaspoons of Cumin and Coriander powder.
1 teaspoon of sugar
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons of red chilly powder. (My Version is less spicy. You can adjust the chilly powder according to the taste)
1/2 teaspoon of dry mango powder.
2 cups of peanuts (More the better!! )
Oil for tempering
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds.
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder.
1/4 teaspoon of asafetida

How to Make -
1. In a big bowl take puffed rice and mix in sugar, salt, cumin and coriander powder,red chilly powder and dry mango powder.
2. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard and cumin seeds. Add asafetida when the seeds start crackling. Add turmeric powder and peanuts.
3. Add this tempering to the puffed rice once it cools down.
4. Mix well and enjoy this easy snack.

You can add garlic slices in the tempering and make it garlic bhadang.
Some people like to add green chillies, curry leaves and dry coconut in the tempering for a little spicier taste.

Add chopped onions, tomatoes, chopped coriander and little lime juice and you have what they call 'Dry Bhel' - the most famous street food in India.

You can as well make it with Kellogg's Rice Crispies (Cereal section in any grocery store) instead of puffed rice.

Kairiwali Bhindi

Amber Indian restaurant in Santana Row, San Jose serves great Indian food. Being Indian myself I am pretty picky about Indian restaurants and the food they serve. Amber is an exception and is one of the favorite restaurants too.

They serve what they call 'Kairiwali bhidi'- Okra slivers, fennel seeds, tomatoes, green mangoes &
dry mango powder. This is my version of my favorite Kairiwali Bhindi.

2 pounds fresh Okra
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon Shaha-Jeera
1/2 teaspoon dry mango powder
1/2 cup raw mango shredded.
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds.
1/2 tomato chopped.
1/2 teaspoon garam masala.
Salt to taste.
2 teaspoon of oil.

How to make -
Cut Okra in thin slices. Approximately 8 slices of a single okra.
Cut onion thin and long.
Add a little salt to the raw mango and keep it for a while .Squeeze out the liquid as much as possible.
Heat oil in pan
Add shaha-Jeera, fennel seed to the oil and fry till onion is little brown in color
Add chopped tomato and fry for a while. Make sure it stays dry and not turn into gravy.
Add dry mango powder, garam masala, salt and the dry raw mango and fry on medium to high heat.
Add the chopped okra and fry continuously for 5 minutes.
Adjust the seasoning ( Salt and dry mango powder especially) accordingly.
Enjoy with hot roti ( bread).

Saturday, July 4

Garlic Naan - My (Bread) Love!

I love carbs (and it shows too..hehe!). There is 101% chance of me ordering garlic naan in any north Indian restaurant irrespective of what's the curry. It has garlic and carbs. It's one of those 'Why not!' recipes.
( 'Why Not?' - If there is nothing bad in the ingredients, the final outcome has to be good! Why won't it be good!)

1/8 teaspoon of Dried Yeast.
1 cup all purpose flour.
1 teaspoon sugar.
salt to taste.
1 teaspoon crushed garlic.
1/2 teaspoon of onion seeds
Chopped coriander for garnishing.
Butter ( If you are really happy about something!)
1 cup Warm water.
1/2 cup yogurt.

How to make-
1. Add yeast to the warm water and keep aside for a while. You would notice a brownish looking froth in 10 minutes ( I know it does not look that appetizing)
2. Add sugar and salt to the yeast and water mixture. This stops the fermentation process.
3. Add flour to the mixture and kneed the dough. It is not going to be a normal dough. It's going to be sticky.
Add yogurt and continue kneading.
4. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap and keep aside for 10 minutes.
5. The dough would rise and become almost doubt in 10 minutes. Kneed it again removing as much air as you can and cover again for 10 minutes.
7. Moist your palms with a few drops of oil or warm water. This would prevent the dough from sticking to your palm.
8. Make the oval shaped naan on your hand ( You don't need to roll it).
9. Preheat the oven at 300 degrees. Spray cooking oil on the baking sheet and place the naan on it.
10. Add the crushed garlic, onion seeds and coriander on the naan. Push the garlic little in the dough before putting it in the oven.
11. Cook for 10 minutes. Check in between to make sure your naan are not turning into toasts.
12. Remove from oven and cool for 2-3 minute. Spread the butter on the naan and enjoy with your favorite curry.