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A Cook @ Heart



Exploring the vast and varied cuisine of India and beyond. This blog is my playground with sugar, spice and everything nice. Happy surfing!



Updated: 2017-12-15T01:01:18.077-06:00

 



Pullikachal (Tamarind Sauce for Rice) Instant Pot / Electric Pressure Cooker recipe

2017-09-13T23:53:38.603-05:00

Many years ago, a cousin told me about MTR Puliogare powder and raved about it. We got a packet and used it and liked it. It was a novelty for us, the tangy taste was unlike any we had tasted before.The powder was also very convenient to have on hand. I used to work in shifts, I would come home at all odd hours and sometimes, starving. When the work load was heavy, we would miss meals to cover up the workload. On those days I would come home, in the middle of the night, hungry and dead tired. My parents would be fast asleep and I did not want to wake them, I would quietly go to the kitchen and make myself some Puliogare rice with the left over rice my Mother would keep for me. After marriage, M introduced me to a particular brand (I forgot the name) that came in a bottle in the paste form, which was better then MTR and we would enjoy mixing it with plain rice.When we moved to the USA, we switched back to MTR. We tried other brands (paste) but did not like any.I searched for a recipe on other blogs.I found and tried some recipes but nothing clicked. The process was also tedious. I dropped the idea for a while and went back to store brought mix.And then, I saw a recipe which made the whole process simple, made using the Electric Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot.This solved my problem of baby sitting the  whole thing. I used the timings as specified by a FB user Lavanya but modified the spice proportions to my taste.Spices to be powdered and added to the pulpTo make the spice powder you need:1/4 cup Coriander Seeds 1/4 cup Chana Daal1 tsp. Fenugreek seeds    1/4 cup Sesame seeds    8-10 Dry Red chilies ( I used Byadgi variety)    Few curry leaves ( I used about 2- 3 sprigs)Dry roast each item separately until the dals are golden brown and the chilies and curry leaves are dry and crisp.This can be done in the EPC/ IP as well on saute mode. But I used my stove top for this.Cool completely and grind to a fine powder. I used my coffee mill for this.To make the Pullikachal / Puliogare paste you need:One small packet of Tamarind (easily available in any Indian store)Gingelly (sesame) Oil1 tbs Mustard Seeds3-4 Dry Red Chilies ( I used Byadgi)Few curry leaves1 tbsp chana Daal1 tbsp Urad daal1 tsp Turmeric powder1/4 cup Peanuts1/4 cup Cashew nuts (optional, but I like them)Salt to taste1 tsp Asafetida powder2 tsp Jaggery crumbled ( this is my choice, the original recipe does not call for it)Soak the tamarind in warm water and squeeze out the pulp. Discard the solids.Start the EPC/ IP on Sear / saute Mode. Add Gingelly oil, generously. I added as much as needed to make a thin layer covering the entire surface of the cooker inner pot.Once the oil heats up add the urad daal and chana daal and mustard seeds . As they pop add the daals turn golden brown, add the (raw) peanuts and saute till golden. If you use roasted  peanuts add cashew pieces along with the peanuts. Add the curry leaves, red chilies. Saute till the oil has coated all the spices.Add the tamarind pulp and mix everything well.Cancel the Sear Mode at this point.Switch to Slow Cook mode and set it for 3 hours. Close the lid and leave the 'whistle' on Vent mode.Forget about it for 1 hour and 45 mins. After that time, open the lid and you will see the liquid has reduced by half or more. Now add in the turmeric powder, salt and the ground spice powder. Mix well to incorporate the spice powder very well with the tamarind. If you opt to add jaggery, add it now. Close the lid again and let it slow cook for the remaining time on the timer.At the end of the cooking time the oil will separate from the mixture. Puliogare /Pullikachal is ready.To make Tamarind Rice:Add a dollop of the Puliogare / Pulikachal paste to cooked and cooled rice. This depends on your taste buds, adjust the spoonful to how strong you want to make it.Mix it well and serve. As simple as that!This is a life saver on Monday mornings, I can tell you.                [...]



Kofta Curry (IP recipe) Bottle Gourd & Zuchhini dumplings in a rich and aromatic Gravy.

2017-05-10T10:34:17.074-05:00

How do you all plan a menu for guests? Do you make multiple dishes? Like 2 gravy based vegetables, 2 dry, roti and puri, pulav and dessert to follow.Or, do you plan a simple and manageable menu?I am the latter type. I plan a manageable list of things I can cook without getting frazzled. IMHO, I also like to keep it simple because too many items on the menu may mean that the guest may not be able to do justice to it all or not sample something at all. It all ends up in too many leftovers which, honestly, no one likes to eat again. There was also another discussion, on a FB Food group, where a member asked how we plan a menu. By cuisine, she meant.When I thought about it, I found myself thinking, if I have guests from the North of India, or East or even from Maharashtra, I go ahead and plan a South Indian menu. And a North Indian menu is of course welcomed by almost everyone.Do you step out of your comfort zone and try something new? Contrary to what I have been taught, namely, 'when you have guests, make what you are confident about, this is not time to experiment', I go right ahead and try something new. How do you plan a menu for your guests? Please share your tips and tricks, I'd love to hear from you.A few weeks ago, we invited M's friend and his family for dinner. I made this kofta curry and our guests loved it. The best part is, it was an easy curry to make! These days I find myself reaching out for my #EPC (Electric Pressure Cooker) all the time. To those of you who use either #InstantPot or a similar EPC will know exactly what I mean. I start my day with setting up my Tea, before I drop off S to school and come home to a perfectly brewed cuppa.Or , set the EPC to cook a batch of Pav Bhaji as I drop him off to Taekwondo and pick up something from the grocery store that I forgot over the weekend.Let us however get back to this kofta curry. To make the Koftas:I used this recipe from an old post.The variation was that I added 1 zucchini to the bottle gourd and used my appe pan / abelskiver pan to sallow fry them instead of deep frying.Important: * Grate the zucchini and bottle gourd, sprinkle a little salt and let it sit for 15 mins or so. The salt will draw out the excess water from the vegetables. Squeeze it all out and then use the grated vegetables.Failure to do this will only make the fritter kofta batter runny and will not taste good. Shredded Bottle Gourd (Lauki/ Dudhi) and ZuchhiniUsing the Appe Pan / Abelskiver Pan to make the koftasThese koftas freeze very well.I found this gravy recipe here. I modified it slightly to suit my requirement and also based on what I had in my pantry.Here is how I made the gravy:6-7 Tomatoes, chopped1 large Onion ( I used Red Onion), Chopped 8 fat cloves of Garlic ( if you have smaller cloves, use about 12), peeled1 inch Ginger, peeled and sliced1 stick ButterFistful Cashew nuts2 Tbsp. Kashmiri Red chilies powder Alternatively, add 1 Tbsp Kashmiri red chilies powder and 1 tsp Regular (hot) chilies powder for a spicier gravy1 scant tsp Turmeric powder1 heaped Tbsp Sugar ( I used granulated white sugar) 2 Tbsp Kasuri Methi ( dry Fenugreek leaves)Salt to taste1/2 cup WaterThe Spice Pouch Spice Pouch:1 x 1 inch Cinnamon stick1 tsp Cardamom (green)1 number, Black Cardamom (Badi Elaichi)1 tsp Cloves / Laung / Lavang1 Star AniseTo Begin: Prepare the spice pouch. I used the pouch shown in the picture, it is the 'water filter' pouch one easily gets in India. Alternatively, use cheesecloth (cut it into a square, layer 2-4 square pieces on top of one another) place the spices on the cheesecloth and pull the sides closed and secure with a piece of string. The spices should not spill out. Set aside.To the inner steel pot of your Electric Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot addThe peeled and chopped onion, just big pieces.Chop the tomato (quarters). Pitch them in.Add all the ingredients listed under the gravy list ( from tomato to Water)Add the spice pouchClose the cooker and seal the lid[...]



Black Bean Burger

2017-04-25T11:59:43.970-05:00

It was my birthday and I had also secured my admission in B School or was it my first job? I don't remember... It was something to celebrate about. My mother was with me and we went to MacDonalds, in Bandra, they had just opened that branch. Mumbai had been introduced to this chain very recently and it was very crowded, but we wanted to taste the 'famous burger'.For the first time that I tasted the Veggie burger, I liked it. It was different. Different from the 'masala' cutlets that were used in local fast food joints. To my mind, however, a burger patty was made up of potato and some veggies. It was only later, that I was introduced to variations.Pinterest is a great resource for recipes. I was interested in a recipe which was my kind of vegetarian, which meant without egg.  I found this recipe and modified it to suit our taste.This made 6 patties.To make the patties:1 cup Black beans soaked in plenty of water (left overnight). Cook the black beans. I used my Electric Pressure Cooker (beans setting)Drain the liquid after the beans are cooked and mash the beans using a fork or potato masher. Black Beans mashed1 Boiled Potato, mashed approx. 3/4 cup Corn (I used frozen)2 slices of bread crumbled, alternatively, soak the bread in water and squeeze the liquid out and use1/2 Onion, finely chopped4 fat cloves of Garlic3-4 squirts of Tomato Ketchup ( I eyeballed this)3-4 tbsp Soy Sauce ( I eyeballed this)4 Tbsp Sriracha Sauce ( Reduce it if you cannot tolerate the heat)Salt to taste (be careful, the ketchup and sauces contain salt, taste and add)2 heaped tsp. Roasted Cumin seed powderA small fistful Cilantro with tender stalks, finely chopped1/2 tsp Black Pepper powder1/2 tsp. Cayenne powderOilOnion slicesTomato slicesLettuce leaves (I skipped these)Cheese SlicesSauce of your choice for the buns ( I used 1000 Island, other choices are: Ranch, Mayo,Sriracha, any sauce of your preference)Burger bunsHeat a small fry pan and add 2 T oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped Onions and saute till they turn brown at the edges. Add the chopped garlic and cook till, both the onion and garlic are well cooked. Cool.Thaw the Corn. I used the microwave.In a mixing bowl, add the mashed beans, the onion and garlic, mashed potato, corn and all the spices and condiments. Add the bread crumbs and mix the whole thing well. Taste and check the flavors.Adjust if needed.At this point, I placed the mixture in the fridge.While the mixture cools, slice the onion and tomato into rings. To make the burgers, heat a griddle. place a patty on the griddle and drizzle some oil around the sides and cook on both sides till golden brown.Butter the burger buns on the inner side and toast till golden brown (on one side only).To assemble and serve, smear the sauce of your choice on the bottom bun. Place the patty on the bun, top with a cheese slice, onion rings, tomato slices, lettuce leaves and place the bun on top.Notes:Adjust the spices to your taste in the burger mix. I like mine well seasoned ( a tad spicy, in fact) and make sure I can taste the patty through the bread, cheese, tomato etc.These Patties freeze well.[...]



Volcano Cake (how did I forget this!?)

2017-04-18T14:56:57.196-05:00

I am getting old and forgetful.I am.OR how else can I possibly have forgotten to post about this cake?I made this cake for my son's 8th. Birthday, last year.We planned and discussed it in great detail.We kept it under wraps, a surprise for our guests!Last year S wanted a Volcano Cake. The idea had a firm grip on our minds and we could not think beyond it.He wanted a chocolate overload.I agreed.The cake was chocolate, with chocolate filling and ganache frosting. If that isn't an overload, I don't know what is!There are tutorials on YouTube for making volcano cake. I looked at all those and finally made mine.For the Ganache, here are some links for you to followGanache 101 (Martha Stewart)Natasha's KitchenMilk Chocolate Ganache ( I am Baker)White Chocolate GanacheFor the cake, I made1 x 10 inch cake as the base4 x 6 inch cakes for the mountainMilk chocolate ganache to use as a filling and Dark chocolate ganache to frost the cake.White chocolate ganache to make the 'lava'.You will also need:A cake boardDecorations ( trees and mini dinosaurs etc.)One small plastic/ glass cup to fit into the mouth of the mountain (I used a tea light holder)Dry Ice (Handling and Storing Dry Ice)Tongs WaterSharp serrated knife ( to trim the cake)[OPTIONAL] Cookie Cutter: round ( to make the 'mouth' of the volcano, size similar to the cup you plan on using). If you don't have a cookie cutter, use the knife.1/2- 3/4 cup white butter cream or whipped cream frosting (colored green to make grass at the mountain base)To begin : Prepare the ganache. This can be made a few days in advance and stored in airtight containers in the fridge.To prep the cake:Chill the prepared cakes in the fridgeIf you like, you can fill the large cake with frosting, slice the cake in to 2, horizontally and spread ganache between the layers and chill in the fridge.You can also do the same with the smaller cakes.The frosting between the layers can be different. Some options are:NutellaGanacheWhipped cream (you can use store brought Cool Whip )Butter cream frosting (vanilla or chocolate)While the cakes are chilling, prepare the 'lava' using white chocolate ganache and color it. Set aside.To begin, put a dab of frosting on the cake board and place the 10 inch cake on it.Frost it using the prepared GanacheOn a baking sheet or tray, layer the 6 inch cakes one on top of the other gluing each cake with the help of ganache to the other.Cut a small circle using the cookie cutter or knife on 2 of the top layer cake. the circle should be the size of  the cup you will place inside it to hold the dry ice. Frost around the circle so the crumbs do not go everywhere.Trim them using a sharp serrated knife to make a mountain shape. Keep it a bit rough, like a mountain is, you do not need to be perfect.Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of ganache to seal in all the crumbs and chill for about 30 mins.Now apply a generous layer of ganache on the mountain and spread it as evenly as possible on the surface to cover every inch. Smooth the cake gently, since there are a few uneven surfaces, be careful, you want to preserve the 'rocky' look.Spoon some 'red lava' ganache in tot he circle that you have cut out and then drizzle some over the sides to mimic lava pouring out.Gently place the plastic cup/ tea light holder into the cavity and press it down very gently so that it is snug and does not show up on top.Fill a  frosting bag with the green icing and fit it with a Wilton tip 233 (Grass tip).Pipe grass all around the base (on the 10 inch cake) and then use any accessories you want. Pipe some grass around the accessories to hide the flat base.If you plan to use any figurines ( action figures or mini dinosaurs, dab a spot of ganache to the bottom of the figures, on their feet and stick them on the cake board or on the cake).From left to right : Tea light holder to place dry ice, dry ice in the cup,  pour water gently on the dry ice to make it smokeBefore you cut the cake:Chill the cake in the frid[...]



Pickle, Granny Smith Apple Pickle!

2017-04-17T10:24:03.320-05:00

Isn't it beautiful outside? It's green everywhere, well, almost.There are days when it's cold with the occasional snow, making me huddle indoors and turn on the heater. And there are days when I wear a jacket and step out only to cast it aside. As I pull warm throw around me and look out, I see these beautiful blooms and I feel cheerful. I was talking to my Mother and she told me that Mumbai is reeling under warm temperatures. While it is tortuous to go out, the fruit vendors have piles of raw mango as well as ripe mangoes to sell. She and my father miss me in summer, I am a big huge fan of mangoes (raw and ripe) and love me some pickle and aamras (ripe mango pulp). When my Mother gets talking of pickles, I yearn for some. I absolutely love pickles!Unfortunately, every time I pick up a raw mango, it just looks like it's raw, but inside the fruit is sweet.While I enjoy the sweet fruit, it still does not serve the purpose of making a pickle. And then, I saw this post and knew I had to make it. I am however a big fan of shortcuts and like instant results.My version of this pickle is another shortcut on the one I have linked above.To make Green ( Granny Smith) Apple Pickle you need:2 Granny Smith ApplesInstant Mango Pickle mix ( easily available in any Indian store, I used K-Pra brand)OilSalt1 tsp Mustard Seeds Wash a jar (which is airtight) with hot water and dish soap and dry it completely. Any moisture will only mean fungus on the pickle. Wash the apples and dry them ( make sure the apples are totally dry). Chop the apple into pieces. I used this chopper with the small dice blade. Put the chopped pieces in the jar, add salt , 2 heaped Tbsp. Pickle masala and mix thoroughly.Add Oil (pour enough to cove the apple pieces).In a small sauce pan, heat about 3 tbsp oil, once hot, add mustard seeds and let them pop. switch off the heat and let the 'tadka' cool down completely.Once cool, pour it over the pickle and mix.Your pickle is ready. Serve it immediately or let it sit for a day and the flavors combine. NOTES:This pickle needs to be refrigeratedI have added only 2 tbsp of the pickle masala, keeping it a tad mild, hoping my son will start liking pickles. You can add a bit more.The left over oil can be reserved for making 'achari' vegetables / pooris.[...]



Fuss free Pav Bhaji in the Electric Pressure Cooker / IP

2017-04-07T16:17:25.471-05:00

On my last India trip, my son and I had a blast. I formally introduced him to the glorious street food. We loved the dabeli, the pani puri, the vada paav/ samosa, but the jewel in the crown was pav-bhaji.We went to Achija and he fell in love with it. It was a first for li'll S and it was so satisfying to see my 8 year old eat with great concentration and enjoyment. To date, he talks of Achija and his eyes glaze over and the smile says it all.S also has high expectations.There are days when I fret..."So, what should I make for dinner?" "Oh, just make Pav Bhaji", he says causally. I stare, sometimes I exclaim, " Veda ahes ka?", I mean pav bhaji on demand, come on! All this changed a few weeks ago. Now, If I have the necessary ingredients on hand, I just nod my head and finish the task at hand. No hurry.When I spoke to my friend Sonali, she told me how much she loves her EPC and how useful it is for cooking almost everything.She told me she was making pav bhaji for dinner and it was such a breeze! I loved the idea. Pav bhaji in a jiffy, on demand.I like how fuss free and no babysitting required this recipe is.I like to prep just one thing before hand. I soak dry red chilies in warm water for a few hours, this gives the bhaji it's nice color.To make pav bhaji in the EPC , you need4-5 Dry red chilies ( preferably Kashmiri or Byadgi) soaked in warm water6-8  large cloves of Garlic1 inch ginger scraped and grated1 small Onion, Finely chopped1 small or 1/2 of a large sized Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped1 can diced Tomatoes 2 cups Cauliflower florets3 Potatoes ( I used Russet), peel and make large cubes1/2 cup Green Peas ( I used frozen) Salt to Taste3 heaped spoons ( I used a plastic disposable spoon) Pav Bhaji Masala (I use Everest)3-4 tbsp. OilButter, big pats! PavChopped Cilantro, to garnishchopped Onion, to serve with bhajiLemon wedges, if required.To begin, drain the water from the soaked red chilies. Place the chilies and 4 cloves of garlic in a chopper / blender jar and pulse to make a rough paste.Start the EPC on Sear / saute mode and add Oil and one tbsp Butter to the inner steel pot.As the oil heats and the butter melts, add the red chilies paste, cook this well. IF the chilies are under cooked, they will make the bhaji bitter.Once the raw smell of the chilies and garlic is gone, add the chopped onions and saute them well. When the onions turn brown at the edges add the reserved chopped garlic and grated ginger and saute till the raw smell is cooked out.Add the chopped bell pepper.  As the bell pepper softens add the remaining ingredients.Just pile them in the cooker pot and mix.Cancel the Sear mode. Close the lid and set the 'whistle' to 'Seal' mode and select the Manual Mode and set the timing for 20 minutes. I might have set it to 25, but 20 is fine.In the meantime, finish a load of laundry or read a book, drop your child off to an activity or pick him/her up, watch TV. Do what you want!Let the pressure subside naturally (NPR).Open the lid and use a potato masher to mash the vegetables well.Serve bhaji with a big pat of butter, chopped cilantro and soft buttery, lightly toasted pav. YUM!Notes:- If you do not wish to use the soaked red chilies paste, you can also use Kashmiri Mirch powder instead. It does not need to be sauteed in the beginning. Add it after the bell pepper is cooked.- Garlic is what will give it the enticing aroma and do not skimp on this. I used large cloves and so 8 were sufficient. If you have medium or small sized cloves, increase the quantity.- Leftover pavbhaji can be stored int he fridge.[...]



(Cornflakes) Chivda for colleagues

2017-04-03T08:16:20.750-05:00

As we walked the aisles of the Indian store, I reminded M that he wanted to pick some snacks for his office colleagues. They were interested in trying some popular snacks. I was thrilled that M's colleagues wanted to try something and I could not let this opportunity pass without making some home made snacks.We picked out some popular snacks and I also decided to make some chivda and send it with him. In the olden days, packets of chivda and ladoo were given at functions. They still are. These were primarily given to those who had traveled distances to attend the function (marriage / thread ceremony etc.) and dry snacks were travel food during the return journey. To me, chivda is an 'essential' snack. My favorite Diwali snack is this Indian take on a trail mix. This time I wanted to try Corn Flakes Chivda. Though the traditional way is buying 'corn poha' which is deep fried and then seasoned, the easier version is using boxed cereal. Buy the plain one.I had seen this version first on The Cooker's blog and liked the idea very much. I just played with the proportions to suit our taste.The recipe is simplicity itself.You need:4-5 cups of Corn Flakes (plain / original) 4-5 Tbsp Oil1 tsp EACH, Mustard seeds and Cumin seeds1/2 tsp Asafetida (Hing)1 scant tsp. Turmeric powder1/2 tsp. Kashmiri red chilies powder (optional, just to add some depth to the color)1 tsp. Roasted Fennel seeds, lightly crushed2 fresh Green chilies, choppedFew curry leaves2 heaped Tbsp EACH, Cashew nuts, Peanuts, Raisins, roasted Gram Daal (dalia)Salt to taste1 small pinch Citric acid granulesSugar to tasteHeat oil in a wide wok / kadhai.Add in the mustard seeds and as they pop, add the cumin. Once the cumin sizzles, add the asafetida and then the cut green chilies and curry leaves.Be very careful as the moment the chilies and curry leaves touch the hot oil, they sputter and hot oil drops are likely to fly here and there. If you have a spatter guard, use it, if not, just step away from the stove.Once the chilies and curry leaves turn crisp, add the nuts, raisins and dalia and stir them until they are golden brown and the raisins swell up.Next add the turmeric powder, red chilies powder (if using), fennel seeds and stir briskly. Be careful that the spices do not burn.Next add the salt and citric acid granules and mix.Add the cereal  and mix well, but gently, coating the corn flakes with the spice mix.Switch off the heat and let the mix cool down a bit.While it is still just warm, add the sugar and mix well.Cool and store in an airtight container.Serve as a tea time snack.NOTES:The measures for a chivda can be approximates, the recipe is very forgiving, except for the citric acid granules, use only a small pinch, no more.Corn flakes can be substituted for plain Cheerios or plain (unsweetened) rice krispiesTo change the taste a bit, you can also add 1 tsp of lightly crushed coriander seeds (sabut dhania).Adjust the amount of chopped fresh green chilies to suit your level of tolerance. You can omit the green chilies and just use dry red chilies powder ( use 1/2 tsp, regular chilies powder for a mild taste)Since we are adding Citric acid granules, do add the sugar to balance the sour, spicy and sweet taste.[...]



DIY : Bath Bombs to relax and refresh (Non-Food Post)

2017-03-29T21:02:28.584-05:00

For a few months now, I have been experimenting with Essential Oils (EOs). At first I just sniffed tentatively and found the aroma very strong and actually wrinkled my nose at it.Little did I know that soon I would learn to appreciate their aroma and uses!These days I use EOs to diffuse, to apply topically, for relaxing in the bath, in food... Depending on what oil you use, the oils can help promote feelings of relaxation or have a calming effect or energize. Everyday when I drop and pick S from school, I see teachers on street corners in their crossing guard jackets, helping the itty bitties ( walking, or on scooters or bikes or even skateboards) cross the road safely to reach school. It does not matter whether it freezing or icy rain beats down on them, they are there! So, last week was Teacher Appreciation Week in Li'll S's school and I wanted to do something special for them as well  S's class teacher. Ms.M is gentle and kind and made my son feel welcome and at ease in the classroom. Beginning a new school in the middle of the year is very intimidating. I'm grateful that she helped him settle down and that he loves and trusts her.Coming back to the Essential Oils, there are days when I *really* need something to calm me. Li'll S can drive me crazy within minutes of reaching home. The lunch box comes back as it was sent. Number one reason why I lose it! Homework, all of one measly page- for the week- is left at school or in the event that it comes home, the incessant whining over it.Bed time and dragging feet..  And, " Mumma, I neeeeeed waaater.."  sigh! *just* as I was dropping off...I *need* something to calm me.If one child can do so much, can you imagine what a classroom full of 8-9 year old children can do?! If anyone deserves to relax or need an energy boost at the end of a long day, it is a teacher. A mother or a teacher have one safe haven to unwind and relax, in the bathroom, taking a long and leisurely bath. Warm scented water and silence feels like a bit of heaven on earth.I wanted to give Ms. M this, much deserved energy boost and so decided to make bath bombs. I started out by ordering this bath bomb moldsYou can use silicone or normal ice cube molds as well.There are many 'recipes' or 'formulas' for making bath bombs. Here is how I made my lot:I used1 cup Baking Soda1/2 cup Epsom Salt1/2 cup Citric Acid 1/2 cup Cornstarch4 Tsp  Organic Coconut Oil Few drops of food color20 drops each, Essential Oil of your choice ( I used Wild Orange and Lavender)  allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.blogger.com/video.g?token=AD6v5dzLHRPh3Hfd7t2EgreHmCbo8jpB5jU-HV3Au-6bByhKJ-_X10gKosblsYEuvtJSiPLWoxCepWtoG50' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />First: Mix the dry ingredients  together.I divided the dry mix into two equal parts.Now, when it comes to mixing the wet ingredients, be v-e-r-y careful. Add the coconut oil + EO + color very slowly.The second the wet ingredients mix with the dry, the mixture gets activated and starts fizzing. So use one hand to drop the oil and your other hand to quickly mix it all together.Hold some of the mix in your hand and squeeze it, if it clumps up, it is ready to be molded.Working quickly, scoop the mixture into the molds and overfill the halves.Now carefully bring together the two halves and squeeze together and let the excess mixture fall away.To un-mold, gently tap the top of the mold and remove the top and then the bottom. Let the bath bombs air dry.Repeat the steps for the next lot.Handle these gently, they tend to fall apart easily. I messed up the Lavender one and finally had to send just the Wild Orange ones.Notes:When I thought of it, I could have added a few drops of water[...]



Teacher Appreciation Week and saying Thank You with a chocolate cake with floral decoration.

2017-03-20T15:37:49.482-05:00

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week in my son's school. It's time to stop and thank all those loving teachers who share knowledge with the little ones and work not just towards making them learn Math or Grammar but also work on their confidence and self-esteem.When we moved, 3 months ago, the biggest change was for Li'll S. Changing school mid year is dreadful. Facing a classroom full of new faces, a new teacher is rather intimidating.Thankfully, he was made welcome and soon settled in and has adjusted very well to all the changes thrown at him. Everyday, when I pick S from school, he looks relaxed and is happy. As a mother, I couldn't ask for more.  So when Teachers Appreciation Week rolled by, I wanted to show my gratitude and what better than to share something sweet.I made this cake for Teachers Lunch.Its a 4 layer Chocolate cake with whipped cream filling.The outer frosting and flower decoration is vanilla butter cream.Sadly, the pictures don't do justice, I clicked them in a hurry and in bad yellow lighting.For those who want a frosting recipe:For this cake I used4 sticks Salted Butter1 Tbs Vanilla extract2 Lbs. Powdered / confectioners SugarMilk ( I add by the teaspoon, about 3-4)  to get stiff consistency icingStart by using room temperature butter.Add the soft butter to the stand mixer.Use the paddle attachment and start at a low speed and beat the butter till its soft, creamy and a shade lighter.Add the vanilla and whip the butter some more.Add the sugar, slowly and mix at slow speed to incorporate it well ( if the mixer is at high speed, the sugar will fly out  and you will have a white layer on the counter top)Beat the mixture for at least 4-5 minutes to mix the butter and sugar well and make smooth icing.To store, place the frosting in airtight containers and refrigerate.I place the frosting in a container, then put saran wrap and then place the lid. That is optional.I made this cupcake for my friend Prachi's son. She helped me carry the cake to school. It was a big cake and I needed help.This cupcake is VERY special for me. See that orange rose? My little boy made it! He saw me making flowers and wanted to pitch in and help. I am so proud of him!That's it from my end today. Have a great week ahead! [...]



Vegetable and Corn Chowder (IP/ Electric Pressure Cooker Recipe)

2017-03-05T15:17:40.025-06:00

February was the 'Sugar Free' month in the AC@H household. It started off with high enthusiasm and I am happy I could stick to my plan. I admit, there were times I felt like I was caving in, but luckily, I managed to stick to my resolution. I also realized that my sugar craving is almost gone. The other day, the son and I made chocolates at home and I couldn't eat a single piece.Earlier, I would make sheera or something sweet at the drop of a hat and the temptation to sit down to a piping hot bowl of sugary sweetness as soon as it is done was unbeatable, but not anymore! I am so glad I did this.But I also realized that sometimes, sugar, in small portions is ok. For example, a bit of sugar in pohe and upma elevates the taste and balances the flavors. Ditto with some vegetables (for example, this simple Dudhi chi bhaji or cabbage (made the Maharashtrian way).The addition of sugar makes it taste so good! My morning cup of chai is what gets me going and adding a bit of jaggery to it makes me happy. It's the one concession I will make. It helped me stick to my resolution, I believe.  So to sum it up, avoid sugar where you can, if possible, substitute with jaggery (at least it has iron content) and when absolutely needed, use sugar in small quantities. I have also been making good use of my EPC. With the temperatures still low and snow piled up till the end of February, it's was very cold.  Cold....cold evenings and piping hot soup make such a good combination.When we first moved to Utah and stayed in the hotel for a while, eating out was our only option. I carried the EPC,but who wants to stock grain and oil and spices in a hotel room. The lingering smell is unavoidable and I was not going to have it sticking to us as well as all our belongings packed in suitcases. So on the bitter cold evenings, we would bundle ourselves in the car and drive to Zupas (which, by the by, was opposite the hotel, but we weren't inclined to trudge through the snow and wind) and fill up on heartwarming soups. I tried Vegetable Chowder for the first time and loved it. After that, I scoured the net for recipes and found so many that my recipe is a mish-mash of all I read. It is very simple and also a very forgiving recipe.Approximate measurements are fine as long as you are careful and don't overdo anything.Start with chopping vegetables, I used my chopper to get even pieces. I used  1 Red onion, 1 Russet potato, 1 (big) or 2 medium carrot, 1 zucchini and 1 - 1 1/2 cup corn kernels.This made enough soup for one dinner (for 3) and M took some to work the next day and I slurped up a small bowl for my lunch the next day.Start the Electric Pressure Cooker (Magic Chef/ Power pressure cooker / Instant Pot) and use the Sear/ Saute option.Heat oil and add the chopped onion and saute till translucent. Add in all the chopped vegetables and mix for a minute or two. Add 2-3 tbsp. of All Purpose Flour ( this acts as a thickener)  and mix well to coat the vegetables.Add salt, pepper and about 1- 1.5 tsp seasoning ( I used Italian seasoning, it's what I have on hand, you can use oregano / mixed herbs/ thyme) and added a dash of red pepper flakes. Add 2- 3 water / vegetable stock, stir well. Press the 'Cancel' button and seal the pressure cooker (whistle on 'seal' mode). Set it on 'Manual' mode for 2 minutes. QPR (Quick Pressure Release) once the timer beeps. Be careful when releasing the pressure, the steam can burn!Add 1 full cup of milk ( I used whole milk, you can use half-n-half if you wish, to get a creamier version) and mix.I noticed that my soup was a bit watery and so I used the immersion blender and blended it just a [...]



Gulpolicha Ladoo (simplified and modified version of Gulpoli)

2017-02-02T13:35:21.190-06:00

I love 'gulpoli'.To those who don't know about this, gulpoli is a thin, sweet stuffed flat bread. This is made in most Maharastrian homes during Sankranta. A Gulpoli has the goodness of whole wheat flour, the stuffing is made of roasted gram flour (besan), jaggery, sesame powder and scented with nutmeg powder and cardamom powder.The making is tricky and it needs practice and patience. This flatbread, unlike a roti or even a puranpoli, isn't soft and pliable. It is a bit hard and is best enjoyed cold, with the customary smear of home made ghee. Around January, stores ( some typical stores that I remember are Vijay stores, Bedekar, Panshikar) would start stocking Tilgul ladoo, Til Wadi and Gulpoli. I would beg my mom to make or buy these. When time and schedule permitted ( as she was a working woman) she would make or buy. It's been years since I ate a gulpoli. I wasn't too confident about making them and not sure they would be a hit with M or li'll S, as much as they were with me. Many a times, I am the only one who ends up finishing things, and let me tell you, these sweet treats are not kind on the waist.But this year, I could not get gulpoli off my mind. That combined with the fact that I could see them scattered across many pictures on a facebook group I am a part of, just was like adding fuel to fire! But making just 3-4 pieces of anything is, somehow, unsatisfying. But finishing up, just because no one else will, and with the  I-don't-like-to-trash-food mindset is even worse. So when I brooded over my dilemma a bit, the solution just popped up in my mind, something that would check off the boxeslimited in quantitysatisfy the cravingeasy to makeSo the evening before, I made 4 extra fulkas.That's how it starts. I made a modified version of Gulpoli, using the same ingredients as required to make the stuffed version.Only, my version uses premade rotis/ fulkas. I, made small ladoos ! These are every bite as good as the flatbread and can be made quickly and taste good and in this case, husband approved! They are not as labor intensive and do not fail (Those gulpolis have a habit of leaking hot molten stuffing onto the tava and burning and smelling bad and generally making one shed a tear and being disappointed, if you are not an expert).Here is my simplified and modified version of the classic.You need: 4 Fulkas ( preferably extras from last night)2 heaped Tbsp. Besan / gram flour2 Tbsp. Oil2-3 Tbsp Jaggery, crumbled2 Tbsp. Sesame seeds, roasted to a golden brown and powdered (cool and powder)Pinch Nutmeg powder1 Cardamom, powdered1 tsp Ghee ( or a bit more as needed)To begin, crumble the roti /fulkas. You can do it by hand, but I prefer to run the quartered pieces of roti thru the chopper. It makes my work easy and super quick. Plus, the fulka/roti gets shredded really fine, just how I like it. In a non-stick pan, heat oil and add the besan to it. On a low flame, roast the besan to an aromatic, nutty golden brown, like you would for besan ladoo. Do not skimp on the oil, use the 2 tbsp. Leave the roasted besan aside, to cool.While the besan cools, measure out the jaggery. I have used powdered jaggery. If you have the block, grate and use the required amount of jaggery. I have used 2 heaped Tbsp ( and I mean heaped! there was a small mound on top of the tbsp measure). Adjust the amount of sweetness. I don't like 'too sweet' but too little in this case will not taste good, remember, there is the besan as well as the sesame seed powder that will cut the sweetness as will the fulka/ roti. You don't want the ladoo to taste bland and pasty.Roast, cool and powder the sesame seeds.I added the cardamom seeds and the bit of nutmeg to the sesame seeds and powdered them togeth[...]



Undhiyu (modified and simplified.) A Winter Specialty.

2017-01-27T11:26:18.928-06:00

On Sundays, my mother and I, or sometimes, my father and I would walk to the bus stand and eagerly wait for bus number 63 (my favorite as it was a double decker) or bus number 61 to take us to Dadar B.B. We would get down at 'Plaza Cinema' stop and walk to Saurashtra stores or DadarSurati Farsan mart.My mom or dad would carry a big  steel dabba , with a tight fitting lid. We would then join the line, a long line and wait impatiently for our turn to buy Undhiyu.This Gujarati winter specialty is well loved by many but since it is labor intensive, no wonder the lines were serpentine. When it was our turn, we would get the Undhiyu and some little snack for me and head back home. My parents were careful when carrying the heavy container. It was full of the most delicious smelling Undhiyu and oh-so-greasy! I would pick out my favorite bits, potato, yam and the deep fried muthiyas leaving out the eggplant and banana.I always wished for a better version of Undhiyu, one that wasn't SO dripping with oil and sans eggplant and soft squishy bananas.So now, with a little help from my friend, Sonali, I have the recipe I like and will make often.The plus is, I used my EPC (Electric Pressure Cooker ) and it was a breeze.This time, I was able to take step wise pictures (iPhone), hopefully these will help.The traditional version has Surti Papdi, fresh peas, suran (Elephant foot yam), Konphal ( purple yam), potato, ripe but firm bananas cooked in a coconut spice mix in a ton of oil.My version is simplified to what is most easily available and of course, you can add eggplants if you wish. I will add the method to include these as well.To begin with, you need:1 large potato ( I used a Russet) 2 slender Purple Yams1 regular Yam3/4 packet of Frozen Surti Papdi ( a quarter bag was used when i made something else, so if you like, use the entire packet)1 cup Frozen Toovar Lilva11/2 Tsp Carom seeds /Ajwain, divided.1/4 cup Oil ( you will need a good amount of oil, it's still a lot less than the original amount) don't skimp!Peel and cut the tubers into large chunks. Soak in cold water to avoid discoloring.For the Spice Mix ( the chutney) approx. 1 cup Shredded coconut (fresh or frozen) 1 bunch of Cilantro ( leaves and tender stalk), finely chopped2-3 fresh Green Chilies (+/- to taste)1 inch knob of GingerFistful Fresh Green Garlic ( if unavailable, use 3-4 fat cloves of Garlic) 1 heaped tsp. Coriander powder1 tsp Garam Masala ( I use Badshah Rajwadi Garam masala)1 tsp Kashmiri Red chillies powder ( or a blend of a spicier powder and kashmiri, if you want to amp up the heat) Salt to tasteJuice of half a lime ( my addition)2 tsp Sugar Make a paste of the ginger and green chilies. If using whole garlic, add that to the ginger- chilies mix. If using fresh green garlic, add the garlic 'bulb' and chop the greens fine. Mix all the ingredients listed above and set aside. Methi Muthiya:1 small bunch Fresh Fenugreek leaves, washed in several changes of water and chopped fine1/2 cup whole wheat flour ( atta)1/2 cup Besan 1/4 tsp EACH, Turmeric and Red chilies powderSalt to tasteBig Pinch SugarPinch Baking soda ( I used Eno Fruit salt) 1/4 tsp Red chilies powder1/4 tsp Turmeric powder1 tsp OilDo the prep.Peel and chop the vegetables and soak in cold water. If you like, add 2-3 small, round eggplants. Cut the stem and make a cross cut half way through the eggplant (X) but ensure that you do not make pieces. The eggplants will be stuffed with some of the spice blend. I used my Electric Pressure Cooker to make the Undhiya so let me detail the procedure Sonali shared with me and later I will also suggest the regular pressure cooker method. STEP 1:To begin, Rinse the froze[...]



Amba Khatta (Mango Curry) (Odiya Cuisine)

2016-12-30T15:33:27.887-06:00

As 2016 draws to a close, I look back at it and wonder, was there a year that had so many ups and downs? The high was my trip to India, spending time with family and catching up with my besties from college. That one day brought back a surge of those wonderful 5 years and we just went back to being Seenagers (Senior Teenagers). These girls made the 5 years of college the best ones of my life! We shared so much, laughter, tears, food, secrets. Just thinking of them makes me smile.The lows were, I lost my uncle and aunt, within a week of one another. Many of my closest friends also lost their loved ones and it was just one blow after another. I'm glad this year is almost over.Here's wishing everyone a very happy new year. May 2017 be a really, really good year for all of us. The conclusion on 2016 brought about one more change for us, as a family. We have moved and will spend the next few days settling in. As controversial as this may sound, I'm happy to be out of Florida. It is beautiful, no doubt. But, yes, there is always a but!, it had way too many reptiles for my liking. They just made my life plain miserable. I am not one of those intrepid women who walk fearlessly when they see half a dozen lizards right in front of them, who just make a 'shoo' sound and pad on, watching in delight as the creepy, dirty little buggers scurry hither and tither. So, I'm happy, where I am. I will miss my friends though. That is the sad part about moving. This time I had a mixed up group of friends from all over India. Among them was my friend S, who is from Odisha (formerly Orissa).My introduction to Odiya cuisine was at a potluck, in Los Angeles, a long time ago. my friend B had made this fantastic red tomato and dates chutney. I was bowled over. And now, S taught me this Amba Khatta which is equally delightful.This khatta (or curry, if I dare call it that) is a fantastic blend of sweet and spicy with the wonderful mingling flavors of the panch phoron (5 spices) which when mixed with fluffy, piping white rice will have you wanting second and third helpings. Begin with making the Masala Paste:1 tsp Mustard Seeds1/3 tsp Jeera (Cumin seeds)3 fat cloves GarlicGinger, half the size of garlic.Soak all the ingredients for about 10-15 minutes and then grind them to a fine paste.Start with one large mango (sweet but firm to the touch, I buy mine at Aldi). Wash it well and cut into large chunks.Add water to a saucepan, tip in the mango chunks and bring it to a boil.Cook the mango pieces till tender.Once cooked, strain and set aside.In a deep sauce pan heat 2 tbsp Oil and add 1 tsp of *Panch Phoron .Once the panch phoron seeds pop and sputter, add in the masala paste made earlier. Saute this paste on medium- low for about 5-7 minutes.To the masala paste, add salt to taste, 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilies powder (or a blend of Kashmiri and cayenne). Do not make it spicy, it will just spoil the  overall taste.Add the mango pieces and add 2 tsp. Sugar.Cook until the spices and mango flavors come together, about 5-7 mins. Not exceeding 10 mins.Serve with white rice.I have this Panch Phoron blend I use. It is from a cook book borrowed long ago from a library and I haven't a clue which one. My apologies that I cannot link it. But I am not taking credit for what I have been only following for some years now!1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Cumin seeds1 Tbsp Fennel seeds2 tsp Nigella Seeds2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds ( I use black as it is the only one I usually buy)1/2 tsp Fenugreek seedsMix the seeds and store, use as needed.To all my friends and readers, A Very Happy New Year! See you in 2017. Till then, stay safe and stay happy! [...]



Tea and travel pains.

2016-12-28T18:10:12.573-06:00

This Thanksgiving, I gifted myself ( yes, that is a thing) an Electric Pressure Cooker (EPC).Everyone, and I mean everyone has been raving about the InstantPot. I was tempted. People seem to be cooking everything in this one gizmo.After a lot of deliberation and delay and comparison I decided, I'm getting me one of these.A bit of research and I zeroed in on this model. When I got it it was on sale for about $55, a lot cheaper than the IP with the same functionality. Win-Win.I snagged it and started cooking, just the basic stuff.Rice and daal.Beans.Soup.Potatoes.Rasam and Sambar.Making vegetables ( it has a 'Sear' function)I liked it, I would put the daal in the main pot, stack rice on the trivet and lay a plate with peeled and chopped potatoes (with a couple of tbsp water drizzled on top) set it and forget it.I cooked beans to perfection. This was always a task for me. I used my regular Prestige cooker but almost always forgot to count the whistles and the beans would be underdone or mush. What a hassle!  But it was so easy with the EPC, I had only to adjust the  quantity to 'less' and set it on the beans mode and forget it. Perfectly cooked beans!Then I made yogurt in it. Easy, but not necessary, in the Florida warmth and humidity.My next experiment will be getting the dosa batter to ferment in this. And I can see the advantage of using the EPC to ferment the batter. You see, we have moved again.Source: Google searchAfter a back breaking packing marathon and forgetting where I packed what (by then I was too darn tired to even care, I just know I took good care in packing my kitchen appliances), I bundled what ever remained in 4 suitcases, forced them shut and the husband and I heaved them into the rental car and drove to the airport. The heaviest suitcase contained my EPC, a small frying pan and my rolling pin. That is all I traveled with. Time to put the EPC to use.The movers will bring the stuff in about 2 weeks, so I will have to make do with the 'make it all' gizmo and see if it is worth the hype and money I put into it.The thing about travel (in my case, move) is, it lets you relax and unwind and most importantly, takes you away from the routine that you get sucked into.Can you guess where I am?My son and I love staying in a hotel. He likes it because it is a novelty to him. I like it because of the housekeeping cleaning up and making everything spic n span for me!Advantage, free hot breakfast.Disadvantage, no tea. I love me my chaha/ chai. Even a laid out breakfast cannot compete with a hot cup of ginger spiked tea.Time to start testing the versatility of the EPC.So day 1, I made tea in this with fat free milk. It was delicious!Nailed it! Moment.Day 2, half milk and half water. Delicious, again!For my friends, who have purchased the EPC ( around the same time as I have and are experimenting with it), this is for you all.In the main pot of the EPC, pour 2 cups of water and place the trivet in it.In a small pot (image below) pour the usual combination of milk and water that you normally use.Source: Google searchWash a small knob of ginger.Add sliced / crushed  ginger to the water+milk combo.Add sugar and tea powder. (1:1:1 )Place the pot on the trivet and close the EPC. Make sure the 'whistle' is set to 'Seal' (and NOT 'vent').Press 'Manual' and adjust the timing to 1 minute ( press the '-'button to adjust).Press 'Start'.Go do what you were doing, take a shower, get ready. Tea will be ready by then.Once the pressure goes down, open the EPC, strain the tea and enjoy.Things to remember:The EPC takes time to build pressure.You will see the lines go round on the panel, that is normal.Once the cooking time is done, the EPC will switch to 'Keep Warm ' mode.Le[...]



Chickpeas Pulav /Solanyacha Pulav (Pressure Cooker method)

2016-10-17T10:16:28.201-05:00

We went into a stock and save frenzy. The news channel was on all the time, even the child did not change the channel. Hurricane Matthew was on the way. While it was still peaceful and calm in our city, we had to be prepared. The first instinct was, water, we need to stock up on that. Some food, that does not require cooking in case there was a power outage.The apartment has an electric stove, so there was no way we could have heated or cooked anything. Candles and lighters and matchsticks.Fill up on gas.....Everyone had the same thoughts running in their heads.Everyone rushed around doing this and that. I joined in too. In the store I loaded my cart with fruit, water and some soda ( that would make my boys happy, it's a rare treat in this household). When I saw other peoples carts, I was a bit shocked, they were almost collapsing under the weight. A small doubt was creeping into my mind. Am I underestimating Matthew? I mean, just LOOK at that! Packets upon packets of any and every variety of chips, multiple loaves of sliced bread, bottles of PB&J, Gatorade, beans, soda, wine... no water though, oh! there was that gallon, at the bottom of the cart! I came home and decided, power outage or not, I need some cooked food, something that will last me a good 3-4 days. Things like masala poori (tikhat mithacha purya), plain poori, lemon rice and this 'Solanyacha pulav' were made and refrigerated. If nothing happened, I'd get a good break and I could relax and read or do something I wanted. We had high winds and lashing rain and the branch outside my living room window swayed dangerously banging and making me nervous. Glass shards in the carpet, oh dear God no! Thankfully, we were all ok. I had a relaxing couple of days ( I made meals for just 2 days in case of any problem) and read 'Sita's Sister and found it enjoyable. This recipe was given to me a while ago by an acquaintance. I have made it a couple of times and it is finally decided to blog about it. Thank you, Pooja! This rice is a great one dish meal and a great lunch box option too. It pairs well with some pickle, yogurt and some flame toasted papad (of course deep fried papad is a superior option, but I rarely deep fry).Typically, this pulav is made using Green Chickpeas (fresh ones, in this case), when in season or frozen, if you get them at the local Indian store, but I found the black chickpeas a good substitute. The recipe is also adaptable to making it an all-vegetable pulav and it tasted great like that too. Here's what you need to do,Wash 1.5 cups Rice ( I used the katori / vaati, it is smaller than the standard measuring cup) in 3-4 changes of water. Add fresh water and set aside. I used Sona Masoori Rice.I used frozen black chickpeas, 1 cup. Washed and set aside.Slice 1 medium onion, lengthwise.If you want to add vegetables chop them. I added one medium Potato (peel and large cubes) and 1 medium carrot (peel and cube).Make the masala paste by blending to a paste: 2 tbsp. Fresh Coconut + 4-5 cloves of garlic+ 1.5 inch knob of Ginger and 1 tbsp. CilantroHeat 3-4 tbs oil in a pressure cooker. Once the oil is hot, add 1 tsp Mustard seeds , as they pop, add 1 tsp Cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp Asafetida, few curry leaves and 1 Bay Leaf.Add the sliced onion and cook until golden brown and cooked through.One the onion is cooked, add in the masala paste along with 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder, 1 heaped tsp.  Garam Masala (I use Rajwadi Garam Masala) and 2 tsp Coriander seed powder.Reduce the heat and cook the mixture till oil separates from the sides of the mixture.On another burner set[...]



Comfort food and one pot meal: Moogachi khichadi ( different version)

2016-09-27T22:23:16.942-05:00

For a quick but nourishing meal, we all resort to our comfort food. In all likelihood, your comfort food is the same as mine, Khichadi (rice, moong daal cooked with minimal or no spices added).We all have the *most* basic version. But sometimes, even the humble version needs a makeover with almonds and raisins and some spices. And then we all have that version where we want to sneak in vegetables and make children ( and in some cases, older people) eat them.During my recent India trip, my father caught a bug and came down with fever and had lost all his appetite. He lost weight and weakness enveloped him. It was so heart breaking to see him like that. Of course in a few days he was on the mend, slowly and along with medication and tonics, good food was needed.This khichadi, has warming spices that give it the taste and perk up blah! taste buds. The vegetables and the moong daal (split and skin on) amp up the nutrition. While it tastes good on it's own, with the (mandatory, imho) generous drizzle of ghee, the popular saying, Ghee, Papad, Dahi, Achar : Khichadi ke hai char yaar, is perfect for this version.Source: Here1 cup split Moong daal with green skin on1.5 Cup Basmati / Ambe Mohar rice1 cup cauliflower florets 2 small Potatoes, peeled and cubed1 med Onion chopped1/2 C Green peas2-3 tbs oil1/2 tsp Turmeric powder1 tsp Red chilies powder 5 green cardamoms, peeled2 small sticks Cinnamon 4 Cloves2 tsp Cumin4 Bay leaves2 tsp Coriander seed powder 10 small garlic cloves or 4 large ones1 inch Ginger Salt and sugar to taste Lightly roast the moong daal. Combine the daal and rice and wash  3-4 times until the water runs clear.Powder the cardamom, cloves and the cinnamon.On a separate burner, set 5 cups of water to boil.Heat oil in an heavy bottom pan ( I prefer to use my pressure pan) add the cumin, bay leaves and onion.Add the ginger- garlic paste. Add the washed and drained rice and daal.Add the coriander seeds powder and the masala and the red chilies powder. Add the chopped vegetables ( you can add the vegetables with the rice and daal as well).Sauté.Add the boiling water, salt and sugar to taste.Lower the heat and cook till done. Alternatively, use a pressure cooker ( 3 whistles and on low heat for 10 mins)Drizzle, generously, with ghee and chopped cilantro and serve.Khichadi with vegetables and golden home made gheeI have another version of khichadi that I make often, involving usage of 'goda masala' and hopefully I will blog about it soon (not too soon, though).After all, there is no such thing as 'too much khichadi'. [...]



The softest idlis, ever!

2016-09-20T09:10:39.384-05:00

This summer, after a lot of back and forth I finally gifted myself a Wet Grinder. Finally.Why did I not do this earlier? What a fool I have been.I was always happy with the idlis I have made previously. I used Idli Rava. Urad daal and Idli rava (1:3). It was easy, I only had to grind the soaked Daal. The idlis never disappointed. So why would I want to change something *that* good. The only reason I changed this was, there is a difference between a good idli and a fantastic idli. Immodest as this sounds, I make fantastic idlis now. (yes, yes, I'm all puffed up at my success).I read the term 'pillowy goodness' on Nupur's OHS and now, now I know what she meant.  allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.blogger.com/video.g?token=AD6v5dzUXuJ5BtBYD2adKCvvT3le0Q9JOWxo0QEkjZmEa8zQo4XokDJvUeoGYHfnwDJ0GaB91oO3rLJKmaY' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />The grinder grinding away is sheer music to my ears. Every week.What else can get me so excited? The very first time I made idlis using the grinder and the proportion mentioned, I could hardly wait to taste them, I did not. As soon as I could get them off the mold, I nibbled on the piping hot idli. Oh heaven! Before I knew it (well, I did, but let's just pretend I was in a trance) I had polished off 2 more. With nothing to accompany them. Just like that.Then I ate them with just chutney.Then with sambar.Then with chutney and sambar.And as if that wasn't enough, I also ate them with ghee and sugar.Yes, I did it.We ate nothing but idlis that day.They are *that* good.The weeks following haven't changed much.My friends also declare that these idlis are far superior to the ones I had made earlier and those were superb, in their opinion.Here's how I make the idli:1 cup Gota Urad Daal  (Whole, skinned Urad daal)1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds3 cups Idli Rice (specially labelled and easily available in any Indian grocery store)Wash the daal in several changes of water, till it runs clear. Refill with fresh water and soak the daal along with fenugreek seeds for at least 8 hours or overnight.Wash the idli rice in several changes of water and then refill with fresh water and soak alongside the urad daal.Before grinding, discard the soaking water and rinse the daal and rice briefly.Now, if you are using the wet grinder, add the daal in one go and some water and start grinding. Slowly add water as required.Grind till the daal (and fenugreek)  is a smooth paste and is white in color.As you scoop, it feels light and well, fluffy. That is what best describes it.Once the daal is done, remove it to the container you want to use to ferment the batter.Now, to the wet grinder, add the rice and some water and switch it on.Grind till the rice is smooth.Add this to the daal and mix gently.At this stage a lot of women like to add salt and let the batter ferment. I usually do not add any. I add salt before I make idli.Leave the container in a warm place to ferment. This can take from 8-12 hours.I leave the batter in my oven and switch on the light.Once the batter has risen, you can either make idlis immediately or transfer the batter as is to the fridge to keep until you are ready to make idlis.To make idli:Add about 1-1.5 tsp salt to the batter and mix *very*gently to evenly distribute the salt.Grease the idli mold.Fill the idli steamer /cooker with water at the bottom. Know your cooker levels and make sure that water does not enter the mold at the bottom.Set it on the stove and let the water heat up.Spoon the batter intot he mold cavities and stack them up[...]



Vaalacha Birda ( Vaal beans In a coconut sauce)

2016-08-16T17:13:55.183-05:00

So, finally this summer I shopped and packed and visited India. It was a fantastic few weeks and my son and I were left wanting more! Source: Google image searchThe highlight, or shall I say one, of the highlights, was enjoying Alphonso Mango, the Hapoos! Ah! After the longest time, ever I had the pleasure of biting into this superlative fruit. Slices, 'aamras' were a daily feature and I can greedily say, I could have had some more! Mango lovers will understand and agree.On most evenings, my son, my mom and I would walk down to the local market to buy vegetables, Pav, fruit. It was noisy, dirty, colorful all rolled in one and a wonderfully unique experience for my 8 year old. He loved going to the market with his favorite Ajji (Grandmother), ie. my mother and coaxing her to buy him some little thing, everyday,  making a stop at the the store that also has a 'chaat' corner to enjoy what he fancied on that particular day (dabeli/ pani puri/ sev puri/ gulab jamun/ jalebi) and coming home in an auto (which he hailed). The nicest thing about these 'vegetable markets' is, well, it isn't actually a market, the vendors just sit by the roadside with their wares and a weighing scale and you buy what you want. In one corner, I spied this old lady with a toothless smile selling sprouted beans and hurried over to buy 'vaal'.I never fancied this in my younger years, but now, I like them. Sprouting and peeling these beans is a labor intensive job, so if you get these, prepped, swoop and grab. As I gleefully picked up my bag of sprouts I found myself humming, "...it happens only in India!" I also stopped by Majestic Book Depot (Thane W) and treated myself to these two books. The cookbook (left) has a fine collection of recipes which include Maharashtrian, Punjabi, South Indian etcetra, from across India. The book (right), on festivals and traditions observed  is also useful, it details many rituals observed during festival time as well as some recipes. I found both books delightful and a great addition to my book shelf.Humkhass Pakasiddhi (left) and Varshache Sanwaar (right)The first recipe I tried from the cook book was Vaalacha Birda. While the recipe is great and a keeper, I wish it was written well. For someone new to trying Vaal or this recipe, it is confusing, for ex: the author could have clearly specified what needs to be ground for the dry masala and then the coconut masala. I got my Mom to help me out there. I have adapted the recipe to my understanding. The end result however is a lip smacking curry that can be relished with fulkas or even better, a bhakri. You need:About 3-4 cups Vaal ( sprouted and peeled) (author suggests about 1/2 kg)7-8 cloves Garlic1 tsp cumin, ground1/2 Coconut, scraped / about 1 cup frozen shredded fresh coconut -pulsed to make a paste4-5 pieces Kokum2 medium Onions choppedSalt to taste Jaggery to taste2 tsp Fennel seeds 2 tsp Coriander seeds 8-10 dry Red chilies (I used Byadgi)2 tbs oil3-4 Garlic cloves ( if you have bigger cloves, use less)1/2 tsp Mustard seed Dash Asafetida 1/2 tsp TurmericWash and set aside the Vaal beans. Grind together the garlic, cumin and coconut, set aside.Now grind together the coriander seeds,the fennel seed and the dry red chilies to a dry powder. Add 4 heaping tsp of the powdered masala, 1/2 tsp turmeric and chopped onions to the beans and mix gently. If the red chilies powder isn't very hot, add 1 tsp hot red chilies powder, this is optional.Powdered masala added to Vaal beans, chopped onion and coconut paste on[...]



ALu chi Wadi

2016-09-26T16:04:28.523-05:00

One thing that came as a 'bundle' in our home was the dhokla-aLuwadi combination. Whenever my Mother went to Dadar Kabutar Khana area, she would stop over at Saurashtra snack shop and bring home goodies. Sometimes kachoris (ping pong ball sized and deep fried, stuffed with a spicy-sweet moong daal filling that left you wanting one more), sometimes jilebi - sticky, orange spirals with a slight tang that were devoured even before she could transfer them to a bowl, but mostly she brought back dhokla and aLuwadi combo.  The spongy square pieces of savory-pillowy  goodness and the slightly spicy 'rolls' of colocassia /taro leaves rolled into a cylinder with a spiced besan paste inside was a treat. These were rarely made at home, to my mind, these were complicated things, best left to experts. But now, so far away from home, I cannot rely on the Indian store weekend supply of dhokla (sold at a ridiculous price ) or frozen packets or even packaged goodies to re-live those memories. Once in a while, we get taro leaves in the store and I try to get them (they are limited in quantity and get sold quickly or they have insect eggs on the back of the leaf and need to be trashed).One such day I was lucky to get a fresh supply of the leaves and clean ones at that, yay! The only hitch was, these leaves were small and I did not get many, just 7-8. The longing to eat aLuwadi is a strong one and not easily put away.But instead of making the roulade, I made 'wadi', squares. I found this recipe in Annapurna that I followed.You need:7 - 8 Taro / Colocassia/ ALu leavesLime sized Tamarind ball or 1 tsp Tamarind Concentrate (I used concentrate)2 tsp Jaggery crumbled or substitute with dark brown sugar1 tsp Red chillies powder1 tsp Garam Masala6 tbsp Rice Flour1 Cup Gram Flour / Besan1/4 cup shredded coconutHefty Pinch Asafetida1/2 tsp Turmeric powder3 Tbsp OilSalt to taste ( about 1 tsp)If using tamarind soak it in warm water for about 10-15 mins and extract the pulp and discard solids. If using concentrate, move on to the next step directly.Wipe the Taro leaves with a moist tissue or napkin. Cut the stem and any tough veins.Shred the leaves finely.Mix all the ingredients given above in to a thick-ish batter.IF you are using tamarind pulp you may not need extra water.IF you use tamarind concentrate, you need to slowly add water to make the batter.Grease a container or a 'thali' that can be used in a steamer or pressure cooker and pour the batter into it.Cover and steam the mixture for about 25-30 mins in the cooker (without the whistle).Once done, cool and then cut into squares.Shallow or deep fry as preferred and serve.[...]



Spring on my cookie!

2016-09-26T16:10:33.259-05:00

Spring is here and while that means big changes across the country, there really isn't a big change in Florida. We have some rain, but other than that, it's pretty warm and humid. Very 'Mumbai like' weather.And while blogging had taken a backseat, I had to come out of my cave and tell you about this.Spring is also the time to try something new ( and something you have been itching to get your hands on). For a long time now, I've been eyeing these Russian Piping tips that are taking over the cake decorating world by storm. I finally caved in and ordered a set.Picture source Aliexpress Via GoogleThere are many sites selling these, but I ordered mine from here. They are a steal for the price. Just a word of caution, the shipping is prompt but the tips come from China, I believe and travel slow. If you are in a hurry and do not mind spending more, check out other options like ebay or amazon.I used the tips for some cupcakes and a small chocolate cake I made, just to get a hang of these tips. They are lager than the normal Wilton ones i have been using. In fact a bit bigger than the large tips.But they make decorating a snap.I have used only Buttercream Frosting.I have modified my earlier recipe. This time I used salted butter, yes, salted and in my opinion, it cuts the cloying sweetness a bit.Its still a bit too sweet for me, but buttercream works best for  this kind of decorating. Stiff consistency buttercream is the best to create flowers.Stabilized whipped cream might work well too, but I haven't tried it.Chocolate cake with buttercream frostingHere I have used a 6 inch chocolate cake and filled it with a small layer of buttercream and piped flowers on top, I did not frost the cake, that would have been a buttercream overdose.And then, just a couple of days ago, I had to opportunity use the tips again. It was my son's teacher's birthday and I offered to decorate her 'cookie cake'.I used this chart to color the buttercream.  I used these shades: Cherry blossom, Dried Lavender and Pancake  Batter for the flowers.I used 2 tones for some flowers, using white buttercream with the pink and for the other, I used a combo of light and darker shades.Cookie 'cake'Something I learned using these tips,Stiff frosting will give you well formed flowersUsing the tips takes a bit of getting used to, pipe a few flowers on a test surface to understand how much pressure you need to apply.Some flowers need to be 'longer' to look fancy and some just need a little pressure to form a really good flower. Just pipe on a few to get a good idea.These are super easy to use and not labor intensive. They make cake decorating fun! [...]



Sweet Beginnings

2016-01-09T23:26:28.382-06:00

On the last day of warm weather, we visited a nearby beach. It was fantastic. Warm sun and a playful breeze. The water was a bit too cold for my liking and I was shocked at how parents took out babies (in diapers) into the cold water and also that the itty-bitties were squealing with joy.Of course, standing in there, knee deep in the water I also adapted to it and loved it. My son had a blast! He did not want to come out of the water. We had to drag him out screaming and kicking and promising the beach on every sunny and warm weekend.We know where we will be, come summer.Then came the end of the vacation (happy dance). With more time on my hands and a friend celebrating her birthday, I decided to make her a cake. I have a small group of friends here and we decided to surprise her with cake and some brunch items. The cake was a 6 inch (x2) Chocolate cake, with Whipped cream between the layers. The frosting  and the decoration was done using Buttercream. While I have done a course on cake decorating, I also draw inspiration from many cake decorators online.It's so much fun to watch the videos and dream making cakes as beautiful as those.  I wish I could make such stunning cakes, I know it's all about practice, practice and more practice.I like Vanessa's YouTube channel and her videos are very informative and she makes it look easy.I hope to learn a lot more from her channel and also get the opportunity to make many more cakes!As usual, I was decorating till the last minute and did not have the time to take pictures with a good camera. The pictures I have are taken on a smart phone.Note to self: also work on organization and time management this year ( you suck at this).I also really need to work on frosting my cake. I'm stingy when slathering on butter cream because it is *so* sweet, I'm always worried that the sweetness will overpower everything and make people regret taking a bite. This is something that does not give my cakes a very 'finished' or 'polished' look, if you get my point. But, I'll work on it.Here's wishing you all a happy new year and may all your dreams come true! Stay positive and happy![...]



Sweet things and hoping for a better new year!

2015-12-23T15:33:53.113-06:00

As we come to the end of another year, it's time to reflect. Time to plan and make new year resolutions. In my case, I have stopped making any, I don't keep them. I don't need the guilt on top of everything.But like you all, I am hoping for a better new year and I'm going to try my best to make it a good one.I have learned a lot this year, some through personal experience, some from friends and their experiences.In the end, I know one thing for sure, I have so much to be thankful for.People have a lot going on in their lives and are battling situations every day. They still smile and trudge on.This is one lesson I will carry with me, not just in the new year, but always, I am blessed and I am thankful for that.Now, after this heavy dosage, let me get on to a better topic. Under such circumstances, weather is the safest topic.You all know how I like to crib about the weather.I'm not cribbing here, just sayin'.The weather in FL is still *very* warm. While many of you are bundled up in layers and others in a jacket, we still go around in shorts and wipe the sweat off our brow and still switch on the AC.No kidding, we sweat. Yuck! I know, it's healthy and all that, but honestly.... yuck!I'm taking it slow on the baking front, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, which never fail and this time, they did. I was shocked. They taste good, no doubt, but, they went flat. I have no clue why, I'm guessing it was the baking soda. I will make another batch soon, once I have the courage and another fresh pack of baking soda.I do want to share a picture ( a poor one, sadly) of the last cake I baked for my friend T. I made this in October and was waiting for better pictures taken on a good quality SLR by another guest. But, he hasn't obliged.In any case, the photo shows the details and I want to share them with you all.This picture was taken on my iPhone and in a hurry. The children and the birthday girl were eager to cut the cake!This was a basic chocolate cake, 9 inch and 2 layers with whipped cream filling and the decoration is butter cream. I used my favorite, Wilton 104 to make the roses and the star tip for the basket weave. I had a lot of fun making this cake and learning too. I know now, for example, that I suck at frosting a cake. I just cannot dollop a gob of butter cream on the cake and spread it in a thick layer. Butter cream is SO sweet and I am very hesitant when applying a thick layer on. I accept it and prefer to make a basket weave, hoping, that it used less frosting. I may be wrong. I love making floral cakes! With all the pumpkin and squashes flooding the market, I made the 'subji' version a lot. The family finally got a little tired of it, despite the constant variation. So with just half a butternut squash left and no one willing I had to make them in to ''Ghaarge', or Pumpkin Poories. In this version, however, I made some changes, I did not use any rice flour. I used some fine rava/ semolina ( just a couple of tablespoons) and whole wheat flour.I used a bit more jaggery, my son likes his sweets properly 'sweetened'. I like it that way too. Not cloyingly sweet, mind you, but just right for us. So I ended up adding an extra 2 tbsp jaggery.The dough is a tad sticky and difficult to roll ( traditionally these are patted into a round shape and deep fried)  but I managed and the end result is right here!My son loved them and a friend, with whom I shared these liked them a lot as did her 2 adorable little daughters.Here is a [...]



Quick Pulav and giving Thanks.

2015-11-24T15:29:29.552-06:00

Earlier this moth, we moved (yes, A-G-A-I-N!) this time to another state- in a hurry. I packed and moved in under 2 weeks.When I look back, I keep asking myself, did I really do that? 4 years, all boxed up in a week. Furniture sold or trashed. Things dear to my heart ( read, anything that is used in the kitchen, like my beloved cast iron pan, my pizza stone and assorted stuff  passed on to friends) and one afternoon, just like that, we boarded the flight to start a new adventure in sunny Florida.It was really difficult saying good bye to Dallas. I had a good friend circle, the location was SUPER convenient and the Indian stores! Oh those fabulous BIG Indian stores with anything and everything any Indian kitchen needs! I miss that the most! I still recoil in horror and dismay at the sad vegetables in the Indian store here, it pains me to see just one or two brands of Basmati or Sona masoori rice sacks and the prices, let's not even go there. Suffice to say, I doubt I will ever get a big fat bunch of Methi / Fenugreek leaves for 50 cents or even vegetables at a reasonable rate, here you pick a vegetable and they put a price to it, not that I object, but I like to know the price before I buy.But there is always a silver lining, always. The weather, its perfect, right now. And then there is this view, I love waking up to this view everyday. I love to sip my tea and watch the sun rise, I just sit and gaze.I love how there's plenty of natural light that fills the rooms and makes them bright.We moved here just as it was Diwali. Which is my favorite time of the year. But this year, it was all a mess.No Diwali lights ( well, just 4-5 diyas), no goodies made, no traditions observed. We had very little stuff  and that was a dampener. What is Diwali without chivda, chakli, ladoo, shev, karanji, shankarpali, right?  Right! My parents knew that and they stepped in! Just in time for Diwali, on the day !A whopping big parcel which made the Fed Ex guy bend, was delivered to our door at 10:30 am. We lugged it upstairs and waited. It was SO difficult not to rip the tape and just take in all the goodies inside, but I waited, knowing that li'll S would be thrilled to receive a big parcel from his beloved Ajji and Ajja. Those li'll hands got busy the moment he spied the parcel. A parcel from my parents is never just one thing, the box was packed and bulging. Among the goodies nestled books, 'kesar veldoda syrup', kokum agal, an apron and a must have in most home, 'Kalnirnay' Calendar and so much more! I was thrilled to get this cookbook. I have seen this book, 'Annapurna' and 'Ruchira' gifted to almost every new bride. The recipes are wonderful and you will find many scattered across blogs. The day our boxes arrived, we were super busy and late at night, all I had the courage to whip up was this quick pulav from 'Annapurna' with the addition of vegetables.It is tasty and flavorful and a great option for a lunch box, a potluck or to make on a day you are expecting guests. Pair it with some raita / koshimbir or a veg. gravy and papad + pickles. For the 3 of us, I used1 cup Basmati Rice (wash in 3-4 changes of water and soak in fresh water) 1 Onion, finely chopped1 small piece Cinnamon2 Green Cardamoms1 Bay LeafGhee* 1 Cup chopped vegetables ( My addition, I used Carrots, french beans and some peas)For the Masala Paste:2 small Garlic clovesA small knob GingerA He[...]



Kakki's Metkut- A family recipe ( spiced lentil powder)

2015-10-25T09:53:46.941-05:00

My father is a meticulous man. He would come from work, relax a bit, help me with homework, when I was around to do it. He would then help my mom out in the kitchen, while she cooked, he would lay the table, his style. The dinner plates would be rinsed, so would the bowls (vaati) and glasses. He would then place the bowls and invert the dinner plate over it. When we sat down, we would begin our meal with steaming white rice drizzled generously with ghee/ toop and metkut, the spice powder. I would insist on my dad mixing my portion. He always, always made it so tasty. Magic touch? I do believe so. But , there was more to it than just the mixing part. The making the spice mix part. While there was always the ready made option, my mom had this mix that her mother-in-law made. My father's mother was lovingly called Kakki. She was a fantastic cook. I am of the opinion that relatives visited us only so they could eat what she made. Yes, she was that good. My mom often tells me, Kakki's puranpolis were 'the best'. Hands down, the best, ever.Her 'amti masala' or Goda masala as it is called, is a special blend and is also spectacular. And then there is this Metkut. Dazzles up plain ol' white rice. It is a staple at my table now. My 7 year old loves it. He also loves the variation, 'ola (ओलं) metkut', which is the spice powder mixed in a tart-sweet, tamarind paste/juice and jaggery mix and tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies.Kakki's measurement ( Kakki used vati (वाटी), the typical steel bowl used everyday, but feel free to use your standard measurement cups if you like). I have used the typical 'vati' as a measure because the other spices are with reference to this measurement.ETA: To clarify, a vati  (vatya, being plural) is also called a katori. 2 vatya / katoris Chanadal 3 Dry Red chillies 2 Sunth (Dried whole Ginger) pieces 3 Halkunde (Dried whole Turmeric) 1/2 vati Dhane / Coriander seeds 1/2 vati Rice 1/2 vati Wheat 1/2 vati Udid dal 3/4 vati Jeere /Cumin seeds 1/2 Spoon Methi / Fenugreek seeds 2 spoons Hing / AsafetidaRoast each item separatelyRoast chana dal, Sunth, halkund first.Grind the ingredients except Hing ( as this is already in the powdered form). Add hing last.Cool the mix and grind it to a fine powder.I used my coffee mill to grind this, my 2c, use a mortar-pestle to pound the whole turmeric and ginger pieces. Store in an airtight container and use as required.Ola metkut / ओलं  मेतकुटTake 2-3 tbsp. Metkut powder in a  bowlUse 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp (or 1/4 tsp tamarind concentrate, Tamicon) and add double the amount of jaggery powder to the metkut.Add salt to taste. Taste and check the balance of tart to sweet and make adjustments as per your choice. Heat a teaspoon of oil, add mustard seeds.As the mustard pops, add a dry red chili, halved and 2-3 curry leaves.Take it off the heat and pour over the metkut, mix well.Serve with steaming white rice and a add a generous drizzle of (preferably, home made) ghee.[...]



Semi-Homemade Samosas

2015-07-25T14:04:00.560-05:00

If you are watching a movie for 3 hours, a break is very important. A Bollywood Masala movie, involving drama (Nirupa Roy with tears cascading down her cheeks and sobs echoing between heart rending dialogues), to action ( Amitabh or Dharmendra transforming into super humans and single handedly fighting off hordes of villains, who fall unconscious after one punch, but our valiant heroes just bounce back after repeated blows to the head), romance (and I mean the old type romance, you know, the two flowers colliding against each other, conveying the meaning and leaving the actual to imagination, unlike today, when the on screen romance that makes you wonder, really? Making one squint in cross eyed fascination, thinking.....like that?) and the running around trees singing songs, which if you try ( running and singing and smiling and flirting at the same time) will leave you gasping like a fish out of water. So much for filmi romance ;)So when you get 3 hours of Bollywood Masala, you need a 10 minute break. Those 10 minutes are for rushing to the rest room, if needed, but most importantly for scrambling to the concession stand to grab a paper bag containing 2 (or more) greasy, piping hot Samosas ( the ice cream bar or soft drink bottle are next, but you cannot really do without the Samosa). Heading back into the semi dark theater with the precious package and finding your seat before the movie starts. The satisfaction of biting into a crisp, hot samosa while watching the drama unfold on screen is happiness unlike any other.  I would eat the base ( the crispiest part) last. Save the best for last.Li'll S does not get to experience this. The movies (kids animated) are shorter now, we buy a bag of popcorn and head into the dark cinema hall, by the time the movie starts, we are almost done eating the popcorn ( I mean, you cannot resist the smell of popcorn and cannot stop at one, you start taking the popcorn on top, carefully and then just grab it by the fistful). All that is fine, but it isn't the same as greasy Samosas.Samosa FillingThe little one has lately developed a liking for Samosas and demands them every now and then. The store brought samosas are tasty, no doubt, but the spice levels vary and sometimes he cannot tolerate the heat, in which case, M and I are given the stuffing as he finishes the outer cover.Uncooked Flour Tortillas Making samosas at home is the best solution. If making everything from scratch is intimidating, or you are pressed for time, I have the solution for you. Making the stuffing is easy, and can be made ahead of time. The outer cover is made using store bought 'uncooked' Flour Tortillas. These are found in the Refrigerated section (near the cheese, butter, bagels etc.)The stuffing is simple with most ingredients found in the pantry. I make a little extra stuffing, the left overs can be slathered on to sliced bread and grilled on the skillet or Panini grill, making a hearty sandwich. If you like, use the filling to make Samosa-Paratha.For the stuffing:Boil, cool, peel and mash ( leave it a bit chunky) 4 Russet Potatoes.Thaw about 1/2 cup Green Peas.In a small saute pan, add about 1 Tbsp. Coriander Seeds ( Sabut Dhania). When toasted, cool and make a coarse powder. I use my mortar and pestle, you could put these in the coffee mill and give it a quick 5 second whirl. Alternatively, crush them using a rolling pin.Mince 2-3 Green Chil[...]