Best of 2014

Wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!!

With the advent of the new year, many of you might be listing out resolutions for the new year and also going over the memories of the past year. With the same thought in mind, every year-end, Srivalli hosts an event where we get to showcase out 'Best of the year' posts. And for the past few years, I have been missing the deadline for one reason or the other. So this time, I made it a point to showcase some popular posts, one for each month of 2014.

While I was looking at the statistics of the various posts of 2014 and I observed an interesting pattern in them. All the popular posts listed below have been made multiple times at our place and have been are our family favorites as well. 

Isn't that a coincidence? I felt so happy and connected with all the readers/friends of my blog. At the same time it was amusing that some of them competed for the top spot each month and narrowly missed :). I guess life is like that as well, right? 

A huge 'Thank You' to all my readers/friends for travelling along in my culinary world. The Blogging Marathon Group, my family and friends deserve a special mention in keeping my hobby alive and motivating me to cook out of my comfort zone!!

The two month long events of Indian Food Odyssey in April and Around the World in 30 Days  in September were truly a delight!!

Without much ado, lets take a peek at the toppers of each month..

Eggless Pillow Cakes in Sandwich Maker - January 2014

These cute pillow cakes have won so many hearts. It is especially popular with the younger kids. They are soft and pillowy and justify their name :).

Eggless Pillow Cakes in Sandwich Maker

Paneer Lababdar - February 2014

There are no surprises here. Paneer based curries are always popular and always in demand. A great party pleaser as well. 

Paneer Lababdar

Pasta With Maggi Masala - March 2014

There was a strange phenomenon in my house. Both the kids and the Dad love to munch on raw Maggi! I know, I can imagine the look on your faces. Sad, but true. The result being there are too many Maggi masala packets leftover. This gave me the idea of using it in pasta giving the kids the illusion of eating maggi but with the healthier variety of pasta! 

Pasta with Maggi Masala

Poha Dhokla - April 2014

I love all and any version of Dhokla. So when we were doing the Mega marathon travelling all over India, For me, Dhokla from Gujarat was a given. When I found this version in Tarla Dalal's website, it has only reinforced my love for anything dhokla!

Poha Dhokla

Mixed Vegetable Kurma With Roti - May 2014

Here is a go-to kurma at home. The ever popular accompaniment for roti. Now this is the de-facto standard and kurma means this version only :). 

Mixed Vegetable Kurma with Roti

Oats-Vegetable Soup - June 2014

If your resolution of 2015 is to eat healthy, bookmark this recipe now and make it as often as you like. This is one soup which gets done in under 10 minutes and is just as filling. I just can't get enough of this soup. 

Oats-Vegetable Soup

Badam Laddu - A Virtual Baby Shower - July 2014

I chose this recipe from my fellow BMer's blog and made these laddus her virtual baby shower and when I was setting up the props for this picture, I truly sent all my best wishes to her!! 

Badam Laddu

Eggless Cinnamon Orange Cupcakes - August 2014

These will remain special for me as these were baked by my older one and these have been very popular with her friends as well.

Eggless Cinnamon Orange Cupcakes

Eggless Bread And Butter Pudding - United Kingdom - September 2014

This was my first choice for UK when we were doing the 2nd Mega marathon of 2014, and it was loved by my family.

Eggless Bread and Butter Pudding

Acidity - A Home Remedy - October 2014

The surprise for the year 2014 for me was that the home remedies and tips are very popular. The response has been so overwhelming that I think I should regularly post some home remedies. So that reminds me to pester my MIL for more of her home remedies and tips!!

Acidity - A Home Remedy

Bean Burrito - November 2014

These burritos are no-nonsense kind and are filling as well. They rate very high in my house as an alternative for the regular rice/roti schedule!

Bean Burrito

Indian Style Pasta - December 2014

I know of many friends who rely on such Indian versions of cooking pasta and I have no doubt about its popularity!!

Indian Style Pasta

Hope the recap of the popular posts of the year 2014 has been as interesting to you as it has been for me. It sure was a nostalgic ride through the year gone past. 

Sending this to Srivalli's 'Best of the year - 2014'.

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Posted by Harini R on Tuesday, December 30, 2014
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Sabudana Kheer

For Day 3, Week 4 of BM #47, here is a very traditional kheer/pudding which is offered as naivedyam during the festival season. I had prepared this kheer during the Navrathri and the clicks lay hidden in my festival folder :).

There are very different ways of preparing this payasam/kheer. But we liked this version the best!!

Sabudana Kheer

Recipe Source here
Ingredients -

Sabudana 1/2 cup
Water 2 cups
Milk 2 cups
Sugar 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp
Cardamom Powder 1/4 tsp
Ghee 2 tsp
Nuts as needed

Sabudana Kheer

Method Of Preparation -

In a heated pan, add ghee and roast the sabudana until they change color.

Add about 2 cups of water, cover and let it boil until the sabudana is cooked well. I pressure cooked this mixture for 15 min (1 hiss).

After the sabudana is cooked well, add milk, sugar, cardamom powder and let it simmer until it thickens a little.

Garnish with nuts and serve warm.

Keep in mind that the kheer thickens as it cools down.

Preparation Time 30 min
Makes Approx 3 1/2 cups

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Posted by Harini R on Friday, December 26, 2014

Basundi - Low Fat

For Day 2, Week 4 of BM #47, here is a delightful dessert which is sure to please everyone. So reckon the holiday season with Basundi!!

My cousin shared this recipe a few months back and we thoroughly loved this version. I confess this lay hidden in my drafts for quite sometime and I felt it was high time and the right time  to post it :)

I felt it is slightly guilt free with it being low fat but keep the portion size under control and enjoy!

Basundi - Low Fat

Ingredients - 

Milk 2 liters (8 cups) ( I used 2% Milk)
Milk Powder 1 cup (Fat Free)
Condensed Milk 3 Tbsp (Fat Free)
Sugar 1/2 cup (or to taste)
Cardamom Powder 1 tsp
Saffron strands few
Pistachios crushed for garnish

Basundi - Low Fat

Method Of Preparation -

Boil the milk in a thick bottomed pan.

Reduce the flame and let the milk simmer for about 40 min.

To minimize the cooking time, I removed about 1/2 cup of the boiling milk in a separate microwave safe container and mixed 1 cup of milk powder. 

Microwave the mixture for about 2-3 minutes and mix the resultant khoya like mixture into the simmering milk. Also add the condensed milk.

After the consistency of the simmering milk reduces to about 1/2 the quantity, add sugar and cook for about 20  min or so. 

It would be a rich looking thick mixture. Mix in the milk soaked saffron strands if using.

Chill and garnish with crushed pistachios before serving.

Preparation Time 1 hr +
Serves 8-10

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Posted by Harini R on Thursday, December 25, 2014

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

For week 4 I will be posting some bookmarked recipes which have been lying in my folders for a while now. For Day 1 here is the delightful soup which was well liked by my family.

My husband got a picture of this soup with the ingredients listed from a buffet lunch he had attended. So I approximated the ingredients and came up with this version. He says the soup comes very close to the one he tasted except for the type of cheese, curry powder and full fat/heavy cream (instead of low fat milk :) ) used in the original.

Ingredients - 

Onion, chopped 1/2 cup
Garlic, grated 2 cloves
Olive Oil 1 tsp
Wheat Flour 1 Tbsp
Cauliflower Florets 2 cups
Milk 1 1/2 to 2 cups
Vegetable Stock 2 cups
Dried Parsley 1 tsp
Curry Powder 1/2 tsp (I used Garam Masala)
Cheese 1/2 to 1 cup
Salt and Pepper as needed

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Method Of Preparation -

In a heated pan, add oil and saute onion and garlic. Add in the cauliflower and vegetable stock. Cover and let the cauliflower cook through.

In a separate bowl, mix wheat flour in cold milk and make a thin paste.

Add this thin mixture into the simmering cauliflower soup. 

Reduce the heat, add in the curry powder, salt, pepper and parsley. Using an immersion blender, blend it slightly until the soup resembles the texture of your preference. Mix well and remove from heat.

Sprinkle cheese and serve warm.

Preparation Time 25 min
Serves 3-4

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Posted by Harini R on Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pesara Punugulu ~ Moong Dal Fritters

For Day 3 Week 3 of BM #47, I chose a popular snack from the North Andhra region, also known as Uttara-Andhra or Uttara-Costa.

These fritters turn out very tasty and I liked them better dunked in sambar!

Ingredients - 

*Whole Mung Beans 1 cup
Ginger, Green Chillies, Salt, Coriander leaves as needed
Oil to deep fry
Black Salt as a garnish

*Yellow Mung dal can be substituted as well

Pesara Punugulu ~ Moong Dal Fritters

Method Of Preparation -

Soak the mung beans 5-6 hours. Drain and Make a thick batter. [It need not be a fine batter.]

To the above batter, add the chopped onions, salt, grated ginger, finely chopped green chillies, and finely chopped coriander leaves.

In a wok/kadai, heat oil and after it is sufficiently hot, gently drop teaspoon fulls of batter and fry until they are all golden brown and crispy.

Remove onto paper towels to drain excess oil. Sprinkle some black salt and serve them hot with chutney of your choice. I served it with sambar for a filling snack on a wintry evening!

Preparation Time 30  min
Serves 3-4

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Posted by Harini R on Friday, December 19, 2014

Pacchi Pulusu

For Day 2, Week 3 of BM #47, let us go to Telangana for this tangy gravy which happens to be a favorite of my husbands'.

It was unearthed the other day in a phone conversation with my MIL. Apparently she learnt it from her Telangana neighbors in Hyderabad almost 30+ years back. 

This is a tangy treat for raw onion lovers. I am not one of them but my husband and older one love this gravy!

Ingredients - 

Tamarind water 2-3 cups
Onions, finely chopped 1/2 cup
Salt, Red chilli powder and powdered jaggery as needed
Seasoning (Oil/Ghee 1 tsp, Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp, Cumin seeds a pinch, Asafoetida a pinch)

Pacchi Pulusu

Method Of Preparation -

Water down the tamarind extract to suit your taste.

Add all the ingredients and mix well. Check the taste and adjust the favors as per your taste. [No cooking the tamarind water.]

Heat a small pan, add ghee/oil and mustard seeds. After they pop add cumin and asafoetida. Remove from fire and pour it in the tamarind mixture.

Serve it as is along with steaming hot rice.

Preparation Time 8 min
Serves 3-4

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Posted by Harini R on Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ulavacharu ~ Kollu Rasam ~ Horsegram Rasam

The week 3 for BM #47 will see me pick out some signature dishes of various regions of my home state of Andhra Pradesh. Today's post is from my native region of Rayalaseema. [The main picture shows a typical meal at home :).]

Though I hail from this region, I have spent very few years in that region. But my roots are still deep rooted what with my 90 year old grandma sharing her memories, life style, customs, values, old/forgotten recipes and the recipes which were forbidden in our house etc..

I understand that this Ulavacharu was in the category of forbidden foods in many households as was in my maternal grandma's place. It is supposed to be a farmer's food and is said to be hard to digest. 

My MIL, on the other hand, comes from a family of Ayurveda practitioners and vouches for the medicinal properties of Horse gram. She believes that this rasam and many other dishes made with Horse gram are good for people with Kidney stones. 

I cannot talk much of the medicinal properties but can talk about its inimitable taste!! Check it out for Day 1 and I am sure you will agree.

Recipe source here and my MIL
Ingredients - 

Horsegram / Ulavalu 1/2 cup
Oil 2 tsp
Garlic 2-3 cloves
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Tomatoes, chopped 1 cup
Tamarind extract 2 Tbsp or as needed
Salt, Red Chilli Powder, Sugar as needed
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves, finely chopped, few
Seasoning (Ghee/Oil 1 tsp, Mustard seeds, Asafoetida, Curry leaves

Ulavacharu ~ Kollu Rasam ~ Horsegram Rasam

Method Of Preparation -

Soak the horse gram overnight and pressure cook with about 3-4 cups of water. 

The horse gram can also be soaked in hot water for about 1 hour, rinsed and and pressure cooked with 3-4 cups of fresh water a few minutes longer than usual.

After the pressure cooker cools down, strain the cooked horsegram and collect the water separately. The horsegram can be used to make a stir fry but the water is what we will use for the rasam.

Crush about 2 tablespoons of the cooked horse gram, garlic and cumin seeds either in a mortar n pestle or in a mixer. Set aside.

In a pan, heat oil and add the crushed garlic-cumin seeds mixture. Saute for a few seconds.

Add the tomatoes, and a few drops of water and let the tomatoes be cooked well.

Add in the turmeric, tamarind extract, salt, sugar and red chilli powder.

Adjust taste as needed and let the rasam boil for a few minutes.

Remove from heat, prepare the seasoning by heating ghee/oil and adding mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida.

Pour the seasoning into the rasam.

Garnish the rasam with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with cooked rice.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 47.

Sending it across to MLLA #78 hosted by PJ and created  MLLA page and Susan's blog.

Preparation Time 30 min 
Serves 5-6

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Posted by Harini R on Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Indian Style Pasta

For Week 2 day 3 of BM #47, here is an Indian version of Pasta which my older one liked.

I first tasted this pasta 10 years back at a friend's house. It used to be a great party dish around that time. It has been forgotten since then. When I was thinking about the theme for this week, I suddenly remembered this version and tried it out for my older one and she was impressed.

I am pretty happy at how the pictures turned out and so I shall link it to Varada's Blog Anniversary Event. For the past year or so I have been taking pictures with my Canon D3200 with the kit lens. I placed it on the floor near our patio door on a cloudy afternoon and set the ISO to 400. 

Indian Style Pasta

Ingredients - 

*Pasta (Any shape and size) 1 cup
Onions, chopped 1/2 cup
Ginger-Garlic Paste 1 tsp
Tomato Puree / Tomatoes 2 Tbsp
Mixed Vegetables (I used Corn, Beans, Carrots, Peas) 1 cup
Salt as needed
Green Chillies - Coriander leaves paste as needed
Garam Masala 1/4 tsp or as needed
Shredded Cheese 1/2 cup or more as needed
Cooking Oil 2 tsp

*I used a veggie pasta which has carrot and butternut squash

Indian Style Pasta

Method Of Preparation -

Boil the pasta as per the instructions on the package. Drain and set aside.

Cook the mixed vegetables separately and set aside.

In a separate pan, heat oil. Saute onion until they turn translucent. Add in the ginger-garlic paste. After a few seconds, add in the tomato puree or chopped tomatoes whichever is your preference.

After the tomatoes turn mushy, add in the mixed vegetables, green chilli-coriander leaves paste, salt, garam masala and cheese. Reduce the heat, mix well and add the cooked pasta.

Remove from heat and serve warm. 

Linking it to Srivalli's Kid's Delight hosted by Mir, theme being 'Pizzas and Pastas'.

Preparation Time 30 min
Serves 2-3

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Basic Pizza

For Week 2, Day 2, of BM #47, here is a basic version of Pizza which was loved at home.

Please free to add as many toppings as preferred.
I told my husband that I would be baking a pizza for dinner, and that he should let me know when he would come home so the pizza can be ready. Later in the evening, he messaged me 'One large veggie pizza, light on cheese with olives and onions,  and a side of crushed peppers please'. :)

I baked 3 personal pizzas and a large one. I don't need to say that the kids loved their personal pizzas, right?

Ingredients - 

All Purpose Flour 4 cups
Sugar 1 tsp 
Salt as needed
Active Dry Yeast 3 1/2 tsp
Olive Oil 2 Tbsp
Toppings -
Pizza Sauce as needed
Onions and Olives as needed
Cheese, shredded as needed

Basic Pizza

Method Of Preparation -
To Prepare the Dough - 
Dissolve sugar and yeast in a cup of warm water and set aside in a warm place for the yeast to 'wake up'. After about 8-10 minutes, the solution must appear frothy. 

In a mixing bowl, measure 4 cups of flour and add the yeast solution. Drizzle oil and knead into a soft and sticky dough.

Oil a deep bowl, cover with a cling wrap and set aside in a warm place undisturbed for the dough to rise. 
[In cold places like ours, I would heat the conventional oven for about 5 minutes, switch the oven off, switch the light on and place the bowl with the dough in there for about 1-2 hrs until the dough doubles.]

To prepare the Pizza - 
Divide the dough into manageable portions and roll out into required size on a floured baking pan.

Leave about 1/2 an inch towards the edges and poke the entire surface of the circle with a fork to bust any bubbles which might form when baked.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Apply the pizza sauce all over the circle and layer the toppings. 

Sprinkle the pizza / Italian seasoning. (Totally Optional)

Sprinkle the cheese as needed. 

Bake in the center rack for about 18 min or until the cheese browns a little.

Preparation Time 2 hrs for the dough + 10 min for prep work + 18 baking time
Makes 1 large and 3 personal pizzas

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Asian Rotini Salad

For Week 2 of BM #47, I shall showcase some Pizza and Pasta varieties which are kid friendly.

We love a version of Indonesian noodles with Peanut sauce which a local noodles joint sells. So when I found a peanut sauce recipe, I had noted down the recipe. I thought the flavors in that sauce would closely resemble the sauce which is used in our favorite noodles. I was right on. It has since become a favorite with my family.
So check out for Day 1 ..

Ingredients - 

Pasta (I used tri color Rotini) 8 oz
Salt as needed
Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Green Onions, chopped as needed
Carrots, Broccoli, steamed as needed
Tofu, cubed as needed
Cooking Oil 4 Tbsp
For the Peanut Sauce - 
Smooth Peanut Butter 1/4 cup 
Water 1/4 cup 
Rice Vinegar 1 Tbsp (I used Apple Cider Vinegar)
Soy Sauce 2 Tbsp 
Garlic cloves (minced) 2 nos 
Lime Juice 1/2 tsp (or more to taste)
Chilly Flakes 1-2 tsp (Optional - Omit for kids)

Asian Rotini Salad

Method Of Preparation -

Boil about 10-12 cups of water in a huge pot and add salt. Cook the pasta al dente as per the package instructions.

Drain, cover and set aside.

In a pan, heat oil and saute tofu cubes until they are evenly browned. Drain and set aside.

To Prepare the Sauce - 
Add all the ingredients required for the sauce in a mixing bowl and whisk until they are mixed well and a smooth sauce results.

To Assemble the Salad - 
In a wide bowl, add the cooked pasta, tomatoes, cucumbers, steamed broccoli, steamed carrots and sauteed tofu.

Drizzle the peanut sauce and toss the salad so the sauce is evenly coated all over. Adjust the spice by adding more chilli flakes or crushed black pepper.

Garnish with chopped green onions and serve.

Preparation Time 30 min
Serves 4-5

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Posted by Harini R on Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jal Jeera

After the Paneer dishes from the menu card for Day 1 and Day 2 for the first week of BM #47, let us check out a coolant and a digestive aid from the same menu card.

I typically rely on the ready made jal jeera powder for my husband but wanted to make it from scratch for a change and it was indeed a 're-freshing' change (no pun intended).

This aromatic drink is the healthier version of the Indianized Lemonade!

Recipe adapted from here
Ingredients - 

Mint leaves handful (I used a tsp of Dry Mint Powder)
Coriander leaves handful
Ginger , grated 1 tsp or to taste
Roasted Cumin Seed Powder 1 tsp
Black Salt , Salt and Sugar as needed
Lemon Juice 1-2 tsp
Asafoetida a pinch
Tamarind extract or Amchur Powder as needed
Water and Ice as needed

Jal Jeera

Method Of Preparation -

Blend the mint, coriander leaves, ginger, roasted cumin powder, tamarind extract in a cup of water.

Strain and use the resultant water.

Add Black Salt , Salt, Sugar and Lemon Juice as needed.

Adjust the flavors to taste, add a few ice cubes and garnish with either mint or coriander leaves.

Serve on a hot summer day or to soothe your stomach after a heavy meal!

Preparation Time 10 min
Serves 1

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Paneer Tikka Masala

For BM #47, Week 1 Day 2, here is a popular entree from any restaurant menu. But my chosen menu card is here

A few weeks back, I made this for my birthday dinner at home. It was a quiet affair with the adults at home sick and no energy to have fun. But, for the kids and their enthusiasm, I just had to put on a show and so the rich food on the table :). 

Paneer Tikka Masala

Ingredients - 

Paneer Cubed 2 cups
Colored Peppers or just Green Capsicum cubed handful
Tomato (deseeded) and Onion Cubed handful each (I didn't use)
For the Marinade - 
Yogurt 1/2 cup
Chilli Powder 1/2 tsp (or to taste)
Kasoori Methi 1/2 tsp
Salt as needed 
Ginger-Garlic Paste 1 tsp 
Garam Masala 1/4 tsp
Cooking Oil 1 Tbsp
For the Gravy - 
Cooking Oil 4 Tbsp divided use
Jeera/Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Onions, finely chopped 1.5 cups
Ginger-Garlic Paste 1 tsp
Tomatoes finely chopped 1/2 cup
Tomato Paste 1 Tbsp
Chilli Powder as needed
Coriander Powder 1 tsp
Garam Masala 1/2 tsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Salt as needed
Cashew Paste 3-4 Tbsp
Cream (for low fat version use milk) 2 Tbsp
Kasoori methi 1/4 tsp

Paneer Tikka Masala

Method Of Preparation -

Mix all the ingredients of the marinade and soak the paneer, peppers, onion and tomato for about 1 hour or so.

Prepare the gravy and roast the marinated vegetables simultaneously on two burners to make the process faster.

On one side, heat a griddle and spread aout 2 tablespoon of oil and spread the marinated paneer and vegetables taking care not to put in any liquid form the marinade. Toss them around gently so they are evenly browned on all sides.

On another side get the gravy going. Heat a pan and add oil and jeera. After the jeera starts crackling, add the onions and saute them until golden brown. Add in ginger-garlic paste, tomato and tomato paste, cashew paste and let them cook well until oil oozes out.

Here it is a case of  personal preference. I prefer to make a fine paste of the above mixture to get a silky gravy while many prefer to leave the gravy as chunky as it turns out.

Mix in the spice powders into the simmering gravy (Red chilli powder, Coriander powder, Kasoori methi, Turmeric, Salt and Garam Masala). 

After it comes to a rolling boil, gently add in the roasted paneer and vegetables. Let it simmer on a reduced heat for a couple of minutes, pour in the cream / milk and gently mix.

Cover and garnish with coriander leaves just before serving. It pairs well with any type of Indian bread. We loved it with Naan.

Preparation Time 1 hr marination + 45 min 
Serves 5-6

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