Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pumpkin karamani curry

This is a curry / side dish I make with pumpkin and red beans (karamani / thattampayaru). Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A and fiber, while red beans are high in protein, iron, antioxidants and fiber. Totally this curry will boast up one's immunity, reduce fat, brightens the skin and good for eyes. Just like the wise people say, 'fitness starts in kitchen', these kinds of simple foods will make us feel satisfied and healthy.  So try this power packed side dish with whole wheat chapati (Indian bread) and stay happy about the diet :)

Pumpkin - 1/4 kg (250 gm)
red beans (karamani) - 1/2 cup
coconut oil - 1 tsp
mustard seeds - 1 tsp
curry leaves - 1 sprig
dry red chilly - 1

To grind:
coconut (shredded) - 2 tbsp
shallot onion - 3
cumin - 1/2 tsp
dry red chilly - 3
coriander seeds - 1 tbsp

Soak the red beans overnight or for 5 hours and pressure cook till tender. (add enough water just to cover the beans.Heat the pressure cooker till one whistle, reduce the flame to low and cook for 5 minutes. Switch off. Red beans will be cooked now. We can cook it in stove top too). 

Dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin, dry red chillies and grind together with shallot and coconut. Keep aside.

Rinse the pumpkin, remove the skin and seeds. (Dry roasted seeds tastes very yummy). Cut the pumpkin into small cubes. Cook it in a vessel with 1 cup water and required salt. After the pumpkin is almost soft (in 5 minutes), add the prepared masala, cooked red beans and cook covered in low heat. As soon as the curry starts getting thick, switch off.

Now heat oil in a separate pan, put mustard. As it starts crackling, add the curry leaves, dry red chilly and pour over the curry. Mix well. Check for salt and sweetness from pumpkin. If needed add a tsp of sugar to enhance the pumpkin's flavor. Pumpkin karamani curry is ready!

Serving suggestions: 
Serve as side dish with rice, roti / chapati.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thiruvathirai kaLi

Thiruvathirai is an auspicious day for Hindus (South India), which comes on Margazhi month (winter). A sweet porridge by the name 'Tiruvathirai kali' along with a spicy mixed vegetable curry called 'thalagam' are made on that day. I got this recipe from 'Mangayar malar' magazine. Mangayar malar has been my most favorite magazine since my teens. It is a magazine especially for women like me, who need some 'light reading' before sleep:)  I love it very much for keeping up the authentic touch, traditional values, a mind calming style and authentic recipes....thanks to the online editions, still I am able to read the books:)  Almost all the recipes I got from that will be on my 'success list':) As expected, this kali too tastes excellent and hubby dear like it very much. There are many versions for this dish but I am narrating the recipe I got and love.

raw Rice - 1 cup
moong dal (green gram lentil) - 2 tbsp
Jaggery (Indian brown sugar) - 1 cup
cardamom powder - 1/8 tsp
ghee (clarified butter) - 2 tbsp
cahsew nut - few.

Dry roast the rice and dhal together till it turns very mild red (not brown) and aromatic. Add water and rinse thrice. Drain all the water and let it dry for some time (30 minutes) in a plate.(we can do the rinsing first and then the roasting too). Powder the rice and dal in a mixie (blender). Keep aside.
Add 2 cups of water to jaggery and heat till it dissolves. Filter and remove any sediments. Bring it to a boil, add the powdered rice+dal. Reduce flame and cook covered. Wait till all the water is absorbed and the rice gets cooked. Fry the cashews in ghee and pour over the cooked kali. Finally add cardamom powder, mix well and switch off.
Thiruvathirai kali is ready!

Serving suggestions: 
Serve as breakfast or dessert.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sheet cake decoration, tips (carrot cake for Thanksgiving)

Here is the 1/4 sheet cake I prepared for the Thanksgiving dinner hosted by our friends Mr&Mrs. Raynor. That's a very pleasant and happy thanksgiving celebration for us to be with their family on that day. We enjoyed many delicious dishes like whole turkey, bean rice, jerk chicken, homemade jerk sauce, Jamaican curried chicken, potato salad, Mac n cheese and Regi's prayer.  I made poori (fried whole wheat bread), South Indian chicken curry with coconut and cashew masala and carrot cake. We had a happy dinner together and enjoyed shopping till midnight:) Here I am giving out the recipes for the moist carrot cake, cream cheese icing, butter cream icing for this sheet cake. (Sugar proportions are varied for this particular cake for decorative purpose....this works for me). Also I have given some basic tips on making a large size sheet cake, soaking,  transporting the cake etc.

All praise goes to GOD.

Orange rose icing.
Flour, sugar, my recipe notebook, toasted walnut, orange peel.....ready for baking.
Carrot - 4
Apple (small) - 1
All purpose flour - 2 cup
large egg - 4
sugar - 2 cup
butter - 1 1/4 cup
shredded coconut (dry / fresh) - 3 tbsp
vanilla extract - 2 tsp
orange peel - 1 tbsp
orange juice - 3 tbsp
cinnamon powder - 1 tsp
baking soda - 2 tsp
baking powder - 2 tsp
salt - 1/2 tsp
walnut - 1 cup (toasted)
raisin - 1/4 cup

Shred the carrot. Core, peel and shred the apple. (Pineapple can also be used instead of apple, but sometimes that makes the cake soggy. So I use apple for controlled moisture) . Preheat oven to 350 deg (175 deg C) for at least 30 minutes before we start baking. Grease and flour the cake tin. Keep aside. Beat the eggs in a mixer or using a fork till fluffy. Then add vanilla essence,orange juice, sugar, butter and beat till its fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt TWICE. Put it in a mixing bowl and add the liquids from mixer. Mix well. Add the shredded carrot,apple, coconut, orange peel, cinnamon, coarsely chopped walnut, raisin and mix slightly. The batter should be approximately of 7 cups. Now the batter is ready! Pour into greased cake tin. Bake at 350 deg F for 40 minutes or till an inserted skewer comes clean.

Cream cheese frosting:
Cream cheese - 8 oz (1 pack)
unsalted butter - 8 tbsp (1 stick)
confectioner's sugar - 4 cup
vanilla extract - 1 tsp

Bring cheese and butter to room temperature by leaving them in counter top(not any means ...this is important). Mash together the cheese and butter. Sift the sugar and add it along with vanilla essence. Mix well. Enough to frost 2 to 3 dozen cupcakes (1 tbsp icing per cake) or 9x13 sheet cake. Makes one tub (US) frosting.

Butter cream frosting:
Butter - 1/2 cup (1 stick)
confectioner's sugar - 4 cups
milk - 1 tbsp
vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
salt - a pinch
food color - if needed

Bring butter to room temperature by leaving it in counter top. First beat the butter to fluffy. (I did manually using a fork, but a mixer is good for this).Mix other ingredients logically to get a smooth flowing but stiff icing.
Butter cream icing is ready!

Tips for moist cake finish / Soaking before icing:
Sugar syrup :
brown / white sugar - 3 tbsp
water - 1/2 cup
Microwave sugar and water for 2 minutes or heat in stove top till it gets slightly thick. switch off and let cool. After baking the cake, cool it completely in wire rack. Then transfer it to the base. If the cake needs to be transported, then stick the cake to the base with few tsp of icing. This steps prevents sliding of cake while carrying it. Then using a skewer randomly pierce all over the cake and brush the sugar syrup on top of cake. This keeps the cake very moist and delicious while refrigeration / storage. Then do the icing. Keep refrigerated. Keep in room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.

Tips on transporting a sheet cake without much equipments.
Transporting the perfectly iced cake to the party location is equally as much challenging as preparing it. Here are some tips and tricks I use to transport the cakes without buying any special cake carriers.

USA cake sizes (standard / commercial)
Serving sizes may differ. It is always nice to make some extra servings while planning a party. Here is an approximate calculation for number of servings of cake in a very generous serving (2 to 3 inch pieces). One may increase the servings by reducing the portion, but I prefer to stick to the generous serving for my guests:)

Number of people vs size of cake (ref 1, ref 2)
8 inch cake =  8 to 10 people
Quarter (1/4) sheet cake (9x13 inch) = 18 to 20 people (28 formal / small servings)
Half sheet cake (11x15) = 30 to 40 people
Full sheet cake (18x24) = 70 to 80 people (110 formal small servings)

How to cut a 9x13 inch cake while serving:
9x13 is the normal homemade sheet cake size needed for a birthday party.
see how to slice the cake for 18/21/28 plates.

How to carry a sheet cake for a home party?
1.Buy a cake carrier / container. (or)
Use a cookie sheet as an inexpensive / reusable cake carrier as strong base (may be it wont have a lid or get creative to make a lid at home using a heavy duty aluminum foil) . I always keep a sturdy wooden board under the cookie sheet for extra strength, as many cakes may come up to 3 kg and the cookie sheets may wobble. This set up is good enough to transport within 1 hour drive if we have someone to hold the cake.
2. Glue the cake to cake base cardboard / cookie sheet by using some icing / frosting. By this way, cake won't slide while driving.
3. Have a responsible friend to hold your cake carefully. Plan the route, drive smoothly.
4. If the cake is larger and if we can't find a lid, then get creative and make a cake lid at home. This time I used a maruchen noodle box I got (free) from local grocery store as 'home made cake cover/ lid'. Just cut two sides and slide the lid to the cookie sheet without touching the cake....stays neat.
4. Don't transport cupcakes after icing. Do the icing in the party premises. Cupcakes are hard / expensive to transport if you are not commercial. So stick with sheet / round cakes:)

Time taken to bake a 9x13 inch cake:
40 - 50 minutes.

Always choose a very good quality cake tin. I prefer wiltons cake tins or glass pans for large cakes. They are quick to bake, even finish and results without browning the cakes.
Cool completely for 4 hours or overnight.

Plan the size of cake (as mentioned above) and buy ingredients earlier.
(1/4 sheet cake need 7 cups of cake batter).
Prepare the icings earlier and keep refrigerated. The sugar in the icing acts as a natural preservative and hence the icing can stay longer in fridge. I prepared the icings 3 days before thanksgiving day.
Cake should be baked on the day or two before icing. Keep it refrigerated with a cling wrap cover.
Icing can be done one earlier and kept refrigerated. Keep the cake in room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving  (melts the icing slightly and gives a soft texture).
Poori and chicken curry I made for thanksgiving dinner party.
Update Feb 21, 2014
Birthday carrot cake with pink roses and yellow flowers for Em

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving wishes and prayers

Wishing all my readers, friends and family a blessed , prosperous and happy Thanks giving!

Thanksgiving Pictures, Comments, Images, Graphics

Thanksgiving Pictures Comments - Photobucket

Thanksgiving Pictures, Comments, Images, Graphics

Thanksgiving Pictures Comments - Photobucket

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our walks of life, for your comfort, your companionship, your guidance, your love, and your presence. Thank you for safeguarding us and protecting us. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, family,  health and your grace. May we live this and every day thankful for all that has been given to us.
(Prayer inspired by American Catholic website).

Happy Thanks giving and thank you all!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pumpkin rice

With the start of Autumn season, we can see orange in everything....from leaves to veggies to celebrations. Pumpkin is more associated with pies, cakes and pancakes in US. I wanted to try my spicier favorites too. Here is a rice I love very much with pumpkin. This is my mom's creation for us when we were kids. In one of our bedtime stories, there came a scene in which two bunnies would ask for a pumpkin from an elderly bunny to make some rice as camping food(it was a translated version may that the cake could have become a rice). Then we asked mom to make a pumpkin rice for us and she gladly created this recipe, which we cherish very much:)
A small cute 99 cent pumpkin I bought. I didn't carve it.....instead cooked that.

Pumpkin seeds tastes great when dry roasted.

Pumpkin patch in Giamarese farm

Pumpkin rice

Pumpkin - 200 gm
rice - 2 cup
salt - as per need
oil - 2 tsp
sugar - 1 tsp (optional)
onion - 1
green chilly - 4
cinnamon - small piece
bay leaf - 1
fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
channa dhal - 2 tbsp
cumin - 1/2 tsp
shredded coconut - 1 tbsp

Wash and cook the rice with 6 cups of water till tender but firm.
Drain and keep the rice aside.

In a separate vessel, heat the oil and add fennel seeds. As it gets red, add bay leaf, cinnamon, channa dal and onion. Fry till onion gets soft. Then add the sliced green chilly, curry leaves and chopped pumpkin. Cook covered till channa dal and pumpkin are well cooked. Then add salt. Taste it. If needed add sugar (brings out the pumpkin flavor). Add freshly shredded coconut, cumin and cook till pumpkin turns almost mushy.

Mix with the cooked rice. Pumpkin rice is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as main course meal with any raitha or appalam (pappad).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Diwali !


Wishing all my readers and friends a joyful Deepavali.
Wishing you all enjoy the day with family and friends with beautiful rangolis, mehanthi , favorite foods, new dresses, sparkling crackers, lamps (diyas), health , wealth ,prosperity, new movies and most importantly with lots and lots of happiness and smile,
May all the days ahead are filled with happiness in all of our homes,

Happy Deepavali!
Viki Xavier

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Bruschetta is an Italian appetizer dish prepared during November to taste the newly prepared olive oil.  This is a very quick recipe and easy to follow. I prepared this as a main course meal along with soup. Here we have a farmer's market in the neighborhood that sells freshly baked Italian bread and rolls. There will be a rush for this bread always and I love that freshly baked smell very much. So we pick up three or four big breads for a dollar (unbelievable price:) ) whenever we go there.  I adopted this recipe from various foodnetwork tv shows according to our taste. Try this bruschetta and enjoy !
Bread rolls - 1
small avocado - 1
butter - 1 tsp
extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)- 2 tbsp
garlic powder - 1 tsp
basil leaf - 3
salt - to taste
pepper - 1 tbsp
onion - 1
cherry tomato - few
tomato sauce (ketchup) - few tsp

Heat oven to 350 deg F.
Slice the rolls in to thick slices in diagonal way (larger surface).
Mix butter, Evoo, salt, garlic powder, pepper powder , finely chopped basil leaf to a paste.
Brush this mixture over the bread.
Sprinkle few pieces of sliced onion.
Bake for 6- 8 minutes for denser breads and lesser for white rolls.
Spread coarsely mashed avocado and top with sliced cherry tomatoes and tomato sauce.
Bruschetta is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as appetizer or side dish with soup.
Shredded cheese can also be added on top.

Instead of baking in oven, the bread can be fried in butter in a pan and spread the topping.
Avocado and tomato sauce is purely optional.

Perfect Traditional Adai Dosai

Perfect traditional Adai dosai. To grind: Idly rice / any rice - 1cup Raw rice (Basmati) - 1 cup Thoor dhal - 1/4 cup Channa dhal - 1/2 cup ...