For Day 3, week 4 of BM #45, Here is another popular variation to the Chana Masala. My kids love potatoes in any form (no surprises there, right?). So when I add potatoes to the Chana masala and tweak the ingredients a little, it is loved a little more :)

Ingredients - 

Kabuli Chana/ Garbanzo Beans soaked 1 cup
Potatoes / Alu diced 2 cups
Salt, Red Chili Powder and Garam Masala as needed
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Tamarind extract or Dry Mango Powder as needed (Optional)
Onions chopped 1 cup
Tomatoes chopped 1 cup
Ginger-Garlic-Green Chilli Paste to taste
Coriander leaves (Cilantro) handful
Cashew 2 Tbsp
Poppy Seeds (soaked in warm water for an hour) 1 Tbsp
Seasoning (Oil 1 Tbsp, Cumin Seeds 1/2 tsp)

Method Of Preparation -

Boil the Chick peas and set aside.

In a heated pressure cooker, add oil and cumin seeds.

After the cumin seeds crackle, add ginger garlic green chilli paste, and saute for a few seconds. Add in the chopped onions  and saute until they are golden brown.

Add in the chopped tomato and add about a cup of water. Make a paste of poppy seeds and cashews and add the paste to the simmering mixture. Also sprinkle some turmeric.

Let the mixture simmer until the oil oozes out.

Sprinkle salt, red chilli powder, garam masala powder, tamarind extract, the cubed potatoes and boiled chickpeas. Mix well and pressure cook for 15 minutes (2-3 whistles).

Remove from heat. Upon cooling adjust the taste and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve it with Naan/Roti/Rice.

Preparation Time 35 min
Serves 6-7

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Matar Paneer

For Day 2, week 4 of BM #45, here is another popular North Indian side dish.

This is favored by most of the kids in our friends circle and so is a standard party dish! 

Ingredients - 

Onion, chopped 1/2 cup
Tomato, chopped 1 1/2 cups
Tomato Paste 1 tsp
Ginger-Garlic-Green Chilli Paste
Cashews 4-5 (Optional)
Garam Masala, Dhania Powder, Red Chilli Powder, Salt and Turmeric as needed
Paneer, cubed, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes 1 1/2 cups
Peas, fresh or frozen 1 cup
Kasuri Methi 1 tsp
Seasoning (Oil 1 Tbsp, Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp)

Matar Paneer

Method Of Preparation -

In a heated pan, add oil and cumin seeds. After they crackle, saute the onions until they turn slightly brown.

Add in the ginger-garlic-green chilli paste, turmeric powder, tomatoes and tomato paste. Also pour in 4-5 tablespoons of water. Let the mixture simmer until the oil floats on top.

Remove from fire and let it cool. Upon cooling blend into a smooth paste along with cashews and transfer to the pan. Let it boil.

After the onion-tomato mixture comes to a boil, add the peas, kasuri methi, garam masala, dhania powder, red chilli powder and salt.

Mix well and gently slide the paneer cubes into the simmering gravy. Remove from fire after about 3-4 minutes.

Garnish with Cilantro (coriander leaves) and serve warm with Roti/Kulcha/Naan.

Preparation Time 40 min
Serves 4-5

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Posted by Harini R on Saturday, October 25, 2014

Kala Chana Chole - 2

For Week 4 of BM #45, I have chosen to highlight some North Indian Side Dishes.

I make this chole in another way as well. Here is one nutritious and flavorful dish which is approved and loved by my family.

Ingredients - 

Kala Chana, soaked overnight 1 cup
Oil 2 tsp
Onion, chopped 1/2 cup
Ginger, grated 1 inch piece
Garlic, grated 3 cloves
Green Chillies 2-3 (or as needed)
Tomatoes, chopped 1 cup
Tomato paste 1 tsp
Dhania Powder 1 tsp
Garam Masala 1/2 tsp
Salt and Red Chilli Powder as needed
Amchur Powder 1 tsp
To be Powdered -
Cloves 3
Cardamom seeds 8-9
Black Cardamom Seeds 3-4
Cinnamon powder a pinch

Kala Chana Chole - 2

Method Of Preparation -

I like to pre-treat the kala chana like I do for the regular Chole Chana. Pressure cook the Kala Chana and set aside.

In a sauce pan, add a tsp of oil and saute the finely chopped onions until golden brown. Saute the ginger, garlic and green chillies as well.

Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, along with water. Add in the spices (Dhania Powder, Red Chili Powder, Garam Masala and the powdered masala) and salt. Let it simmer for about 3-4 minutes.

Add in the boiled kala chana. (I  like to grind a handful of kala chana and mix it in the gravy to get a silky gravy).

Adjust the taste as preferred. Remove from heat.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice/roti and enjoy the protein packed gravy.

Preparation Time 35 min
Serves 4-5

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Posted by Harini R on Friday, October 24, 2014

Acidity - Home Remedy

For Day 3, week 3 of BM #45, here is a tried and tested remedy for acidity/heartburn from my Mother-in-law's kitchen. My MIL is a strong proponent of Sonth and Ajwain. She comes from a family of Ayurvedic physicians and she herself is an expert at home remedies using simple spices/herbs easily available.

Ingredients - 

Sonth (Dry Ginger powder) 1 Tbsp
Jaggery Powder 1 Tbsp
Ghee 1 tsp

Acidity - Home Remedy

Method Of Preparation -

Mix the sonth, jaggery powder and ghee to make small marble sized tablets.

Store them in an air tight container.

Dosage - 
Chew the 1 tablet with a cup of warm water for relief from acidity, heartburn and indigestion.

Few more remedies for Indigestion,acidity or heartburn - 
1. A cup of cold milk poured directly into your throat gives instant relief from acidity or heartburn.

2. Boil 1 tsp of Coriander seeds in 1 cup of water and let it simmer and reduce to half a cup of water. Strain and drink it warm to relieve from acidity and is also a great body coolant.

3. Mix 1/2 tsp of Sonth powder, a pinch of salt and 1/8 tsp of ghee in about a tablespoon of steaming hot cooked rice. Eat this as a first morsel at lunch/dinner time. This is great for improving digestion. It can be given to kids, adults and lactating moms.

4. Roast Ajwain/vaamu until it gives out a nice aroma. Boil a tsp of the roasted ajwain in a cup of water for about 3-4 minutes. Strain and drink the a tablespoon of this water as frequently as possible for relief from indigestion and flatulence.

Preparation Time 5 min
Makes 8 tablets

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Posted by Harini R on Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cold/Cough - Home Remedy

For Day 2 Week 3 of BM #45, here is another home remedy for the common cold. This is a good one to have at home for the upcoming winter season.

I usually add this powder to the Tea I prepare specially in the colder months.

Ingredients - 

Pepper corns
Cardamom seeds
Sonth (Dry ginger)
Optional Sweetener - Honey or Rock candy powder

Cold/Cough - Home Remedy

Method Of Preparation -

Powder equal quantities (by weight) of the ingredients. 

Store them in an air tight container and use as required.

Dosage - Boil 1 cup of water and add 1/2 tsp of the above powder. Let it simmer for a couple minutes. 

Remove from heat, sieve, add the sweetener if preferred and sip the hot/warm mixture once or twice a day to relieve throat discomfort, nasal congestion, runny/itchy nose etc.

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Posted by Harini R on Saturday, October 18, 2014

There are many herbs, spices and other ingredients in our kitchen which can give relief to many common ailments. [This is not to encourage you to disregard any medical advice by your physician.] So as part of week 3 of BM #45, I shall post some time tested home/herbal remedies, handed over by my MIL.

For Day 1, here is a herbal decoction that has been tried by many friends and family upon the advice of my Mother-in-law. She herself takes this mixture whenever she finds there is a fluctuation in her blood sugar levels. The three ingredients are commonly available in the stores in India or they are also available online. 

There are many personal stories to vouch for its effectiveness which prompted me to post it as part of this series.

As per my MIL, people with pre-diabetes benefit the most as they wouldn't have started any medication/insulin yet. With careful diet they can keep a healthy level of blood sugar. If you are interested check out these posts on Diabetes and Weight Management

Ingredients - 

Vaamu (Ajwain)
Karakkaya (Latin - Terminalia Chebula ; English - Indian Gall Nut ; Hindi - Harad ; Tamil - Kadukkai ; Bengali - Haritaki ; Kanada - Arale) shelled and deseeded
Vatti Veru (Khas, Vettiver)
 (its fragrant roots which are used for making mats and screens.)

Vattiveru                    pic courtesy Ebay
Method Of preparation - 

Take equal quantities of all three herbs. Please note that they should be of equal weight. (The deseeded karakkaya weight to be considered)

Break the karakkaya shell and discard the seed. 

Crush the Vattiveru in a muslin cloth. This also ensures that the dust is cleared.

Check for any impurities in Ajwain.

Grind all the three into a fine powder and store it in a clean and dry container.

Dosage - 

Boil 1.5 cups of water with 1 tsp of the powder . Let the mixture boil until the water is reduced to about 1/2 cup.

Cool it. A portion of the powder settles down in the container. 

Transfer the water into another container and strain it if required.

Drink this kashayam/decoction first thing in the morning. Wait for about an hour before consuming coffee/tea/water/breakfast (whichever comes first!).

It is observed that after 40 days of this regimen, the blood sugar levels stabilize. But please continue with the medication/insulin prescribed by your doctor. 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 45.

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Posted by Harini on Friday, October 17, 2014

For Day 3 of BM #45, here is another version of chakli fit for the occasion of Diwali or any celebration!

Moong Dal Chakli / Murukku

Ingredients - 

Moong Flour 1 cup
Rice Flour 1 cups
Sesame Seeds 1/4 cup
Cumin Seeds 1 tsp
Asafoetida 1/8 tsp
Ghee 1 Tbsp
Salt and Red Chilli  Powder as needed
Oil for frying

Moong Dal Chakli / Murukku

Method Of Preparation -

In a mixing bowl, add the moong flour, rice flour, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, salt, red chilli powder, asafoetida and ghee and mix well so the ghee is well incorporated.

Add water gradually to make a soft dough. 

Fill in the murukku press with the dough and I used the star shaped plate as in the picture. 

Heat oil in a deep pan, and on medium heat use the murukku press to drop in spirals of dough. To get a perfect shape, some make these chaklis on an oiled plastic sheet and then gently slide into the oil. I didn't do that as I was racing against time :). I just made shapes directly in oil.

Fry them until they get a golden brown hue. Drain them onto kitchen paper towels. Continue for the rest of the dough.

Store in an air tight container upon cooling. 

Preparation Time 1 hr
Makes about 10 cups of murukku :)

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Garvanu ~ Wheat Flour Kheer

For Day 2 of BM #45, here is another festival dessert!! This is a traditional Gujarati dessert which is a great idea to make for festivals or to offer Naivedyam(Prasad). It is a very filling and healthy snack too. I like this as very little sugar is needed to make it mildly sweet and filling.

I had to make this twice on the same day as my little one refused to have her dinner unless I make this once more :). So you get the point, right?

Garvanu ~ Wheat Flour Kheer

Recipe adapted from here and here
Ingredients - 

Wheat Flour 1/4 tsp
Ghee 1 tsp
Milk 2 cups
Sugar 2-3 Tbsp (adjust as per taste)
Cinnamon Powder 1/4 tsp (Optional)
Cardamom Powder 1/2 tsp
MTR Badam Mix 1 tsp (Optional)
Nuts and Raisins as needed

Garvanu ~ Wheat Flour Kheer

Method Of Preparation -

In a heated pan, add ghee and fry the wheat flour until it gives out a nice aroma or until it turns a shade of golden brown.

Remove from heat and let it cool. My kids didn't have the patience to wait for it to cool, so I put the hot wheat flour and cold milk in the blender and took it out to get a lump free mixture.

Put this mixture back in the pan on low to medium heat.

Stirring continuously add the cinnamon powder, coarsely crushed nuts and sugar (also if using MTR Badam Mix, now is the time to add it).

After it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle cardamom powder.

Keep stirring to avoid burnt kheer. After about 2 minutes, remove from heat, garnish with nuts and serve warm.

Preparation Time 15 min
Makes 1 1/2 cups

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Boondi Laddu

For week 2 of BM #45, I have taken up the theme to showcase some delightful and traditional sweets for the oncoming festival season.

I am sure most of us agree that Diwali, the festival of lights, is a time to celebrate the victory of good over evil. It is also a time to celebrate it with friends and family by distributing goodies along with their best wishes.

I have earlier posted a recipe for making the basic boondi. I will rewrite the method of preparation of boondi again here for easy reference. Pardon me for the long post :)

Boondi Laddu

Ingredients - 
Besan/Chickpea Flour 1 cup
Sugar 1 cup
Ghee 1 tsp
Raisins 2 Tbsp
Cashew Bits 2 Tbsp
Edible Camphor a pinch
Sugar candy crystals (Optional) 1 Tbsp
Oil to fry the Boondi

Boondi Laddu

Method Of Preparation -
To make the Sugar Syrup - 
In a thick, deep and wide stockpot, add sugar and 3/4 cup of water and let it simmer and wait until the syrup reaches the one thread consistency.

While the syrup is simmering, fry the cashew bits and raisins in a teaspoon of ghee and set aside.

Remove the syrup from heat after it reaches the one thread consistency and add a pinch of edible camphor, fried raisins and cashew bits. Mix well, cover and set aside.

To make the Boondi -
Sift the chickpea flour/besan/senaga pindi so there are no lumps.

Gradually add water to make it a paste. Blend well so there are no lumps in the paste. To this paste gradually add water to make a suitable batter. I observed that the flour I used needed almost 2 cups of water. That is besan:water was in the ratio 1:1 .

Another tip is to add a teaspoon of oil to the batter.

In a wok/kadai, add oil and put it on medium/high heat. It also helps if the wok/kadai/sauce pan is flat bottomed and wide too.

To test whether the batter is of the right consistency, using the tail of a spoon, gently put a drop of batter in the hot oil. If the resultant boondi floats on the top immediately and is round in shape and feels light, we have the right consistency. Otherwise add a teaspoon of water at a time while testing, to get the right consistency. If the batter is too watery add some more sifted chickpea flour.

Pour ladle full of batter in the boondi ladle, and gently rub the batter with another ladle while holding the boondi ladle over the kadai. Observe that the tiny batter droplets float on the hot oil forming tiny boondis. 

Remove from oil once the tiny bubbles in the oil disappear and the boondi changes the color slightly. We don't want the boondi to be bright brown.

As and when the boondi is done, transfer the boondi into the stockpot containing the syrup.

After couple of batches of the boondi, mix the syrup so all the boondi gets soaked in the syrup. Continue until all the boondi is done.

Making the Laddus - 
It is very important to note that the syrup should be warm or as hot as can be tolerated by the palm of our hands.

The whole stockpot might and can be reheated for a few minutes if needed.

Take a handful of the syrup soaked boondi and squeeze well to form a laddu. If the syrup is not warm enough it might be difficult to make a firm laddu, otherwise the laddu making is a breeze.

Continue making the laddu until the boondi is exhausted.

Let them air dry for a few minutes giving it time to firm up.

Store in an air tight container upon cooling.

Boondi Laddu

A special note - A group of 3 friends and yours truly have made a huge batch (about 370+) of laddus as a collective effort. It took us about 4-5 hours, 16 cups of besan, 16 cups of sugar and approximately 3 liters of oil, 3 cups of raisins, 400 gms of cashew bits and 1/8 th tsp of camphor.

Preparation Time 1 hour
Makes 12-15 laddus depending on the size

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Eggless Carrot-Apple Cupcake

For Day 3 for the Kid's potluck party, here are some cupcakes. Can kid's party ever be complete without a cake? A resounding 'NO' from my kids :).

So to please my kids, here are some cupcakes which they enjoyed with their favorite toppings of frosting with sprinkles! All the frosting was done by my older one.

Eggless Carrot-Apple Cupcake

Recipe Adapted from here
Ingredients - 

*Self Rising Flour 3 cups
Cinnamon Powder 1/2 tsp
Carrot, peeled and grated 1 cup
Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored and grated 1/2 cup
**Milk 1 cup + Apple Cider Vinegar 1 tsp
Honey 1/4 cup
***Olive Oil 1/2 cup

*I used 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour + 2 cups All Purpose Flour + 4.5 tsp of Baking Powder + 3/4 tsp of salt
** Buttermilk can be used instead
*** Oil can be reduced by half by adding 1/2 cup of apple sauce

Note - If the cup cakes are being consumed as is without any frosting, then increase the sweetener as needed. These cupcakes are just about sweet with the frosting. 

Also add a little more milk (upto 1/4 cup) as the cupcakes were a tad dry to my comfort.

Eggless Carrot-Apple Cupcake

Method Of Preparation -

In a mixing bowl, sift the self rising flour along with cinnamon powder.

Mix in the grated carrot and apple and set aside.

In another bowl, add the liquid ingredients (Milk, apple cider vinegar, honey and oil.

Pour into the flour and stir well until just combined. Don't over mix.

Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Prepare the muffin plates by arranging the paper liners in them. I used 24 mini muffin plate and 12 regular muffin plate. 

Pour the batter into the muffin cups making sure they are 3/4 ths full.

Bake for about 15 for the mini muffins and 20 min for the regular muffins (or until a tooth pick comes out clean upon testing).

Upon cooling, frost them as required and serve.

Preparation Time 15 min +  Baking time 20 min
Makes 24 mini and 12 regular muffins

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For Day 2 of BM #45, here is an addictive and healthy dessert for the kids and adults as well.

As there is some chocolate in here, my older one was reluctant to have these. But when I told her that there is very minimal cocoa powder, she gingerly took a bite and wouldn't stop popping more of these into her mouth!! 

And that is the reason why I didn't garnish with more chocolate!!

Date-Almond Nuggets

Recipe Source here
Ingredients - 

Dates, pitted and chopped 16-18
Shredded Dry Coconut 1/2 cup
Cocoa Powder 1 1/2 tsp
Almonds 16-18
Powdered Sugar 2 tsp 
Optional ingredients - Melted chocolate for garnish

Method Of Preparation -

In a food processor, add the chopped dates, cocoa powder and shredded coconut.

Pulse until a gooey mixtures comes out.

Take a big marble size portion of the mixture and pat into a thin circle, put in an almond and close the edges and shape into an oval shape making sure that the almond doesn't peek out :).

Cover all the almonds in the same way as above mentioned. 

Place them on a parchment paper and sprinkle powdered sugar and evenly coat all of them.

Refrigerate before serving.

Optionally melt chocolate and make wiggly lines on the nuggets and freeze for an hour before serving.

Preparation Time 15 min
Makes 16-18

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Posted by Harini R on Saturday, October 4, 2014

After the culinary world tour last month, we are back to our regular blogging 3 days a week. This week I shall highlight some kid-centric party ideas.

These pakodas are a delight to make, serve and enjoy as well. I was expecting a bland kind of pakoda but these turned out super tasty and slightly on the spicy side. So I didn't offer it to my little one who cannot take spice at all, while my older one is just the opposite! 

Bread Pakoda

Ingredients - 

Bread 6 slices
Green Chutney or Bombay Sandwich spread as needed
Besan / Chickpea Flour 1 cup
Salt, Asafoetida and Red Chilli Powder as needed
Water to make a lump free batter
Oil to deep fry

* Optionally a layer of aloo sabji can be applied between the bread slices

Method Of Preparation -

Trim the sides of the bread slices.

Apply the green chutney on one slice and and place another bread slice on top. Make three pairs.

Slice each pair into 4 triangles and keep aside.

Heat a kadai/wok with adequate oil.

In a mixing bowl, sieve the besan/chickpea flour and add salt, red chilli powder and asafoetida. Add sufficient water to make a pancake better consistency.

Dip the prepared triangles in the batter, gently slide into the hot oil and fry on both sides until they are golden brown.

Remove onto paper towels to drain excess oil and continue until all the triangles are done.

Serve them warm with any sauce of your choice.

Preparation Time 45 min
Makes 12

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We, a group of motivated bloggers from the Blogging Marathon Group have successfully completed this world tour stopping at 26 different countries travelling in an alphabetical order. 

Personally, it has been a humbling experience in the sense that there is so much of variety all across the globe, yet we can relate to most of the food consumed in many parts of the world. For some countries, I had to struggle to pick out the right recipe which would be appreciated at home, whereas for some it was a breeze!!

Here are the showcased recipes for a quick look all at one place. Hope you all have enjoyed the tour as much as we have. 

Apple Strudel - Austria

Quinoa Stew - Bolivia

Millet Crackers - Chad

Avena Caliente - Dominican Republic

Cheesy Potato Soup - Ecuador

Vegan Lentil Soup - France

Spanakopita - Greece

Aksan - Haiti

Caprese Salad - Italy

Carrot Juice - Jamaica

Kitheri - Kenya

Apple Green Tea - Lebanon

Seven Layered Bean Dip - Mexico

Kokoro (Cornmeal Fingers) - Nigeria

Mugasgas - Oman

Potato Pierogi - Poland

Khabees - Qatar

Vegetable Borscht - Russia

Ajo Blanco - Spain

Spinach Tortilla Borek - Turkey

Eggless Bread And Butter Pudding - United Kingdom

Cachapas - Venezuela

Simsimeyeh (Sesame Brittle) - West Bank

Nokot (Chichpea Salad) - Xinjiang, China

Rose Water Lemonade - Yemen

Ifisashi (Spinach-Peanut Cury) - Zambia

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Posted by Harini R on Thursday, October 2, 2014
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