Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pottukadalai murukku

Pottukadalai - puffed channa dal.
Murukku in our house always means a urid dal murukku.  I make it for all the festivals as it is my hubby's favorite. When I shared that murukku with my friend Priya during Easter, she gave me this recipe for pottukadalai murukku. She suggested adding chilly powder also, but I made a plain murukku. We finished our Easter murukku very soon and hubby dear started asking me for more of his snack during the next weekend. I too wanted to make one batch exclusively for him to have with coffee.  Thanks to her I could make a snack so easily. This is  a very easy murukku recipe and we can do this as a quick evening snack while preparing coffee.
pottukadalai murukku

Rice flour - 2 cups
(store bought rice flour)
Puffed channa dal (pottu kadalai) - 1/2 cup
Butter - 2 tbsp
Cumin - 1 tbsp
Hing (Asafoetida) - 1/8 tsp
Salt per taste
Water for mixing - (nearly 1 1/2 cups of water)
Oil - to deep fry (500 ml)


Grind the puffed channa dal to a fine powder using an Indian mixer. Sieve it and get the very fine powder.
Heat a wok and dry roast the rice flour till it gets loose. Don't let it red.
Put both the flours in a large mixing bowl . Add cumin, asafoetida and butter. Mix well.
Take 1 cup of water and add 3/4 tsp salt for every cup of flour (almost 2 tsp). Mix this salt water with the flour and knead to a soft chapathi dough consistency.
Now check salt and add more mixing with water,if necessary.
Fit a 3 hole plate in the murukku mold and fill it with dough.
In the mean time heat the oil in a wide pan till smoking point. Then reduce flame and press the murukku in circular shape into the hot oil.
Flip once after one side is done.
After the hissing sound and bubbles subdue, take out the murukku. Place them on paper towel and remove oil. Store them in air tight containers after they get cool.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as snack with coffee.
Makes 15 - 20  murukku.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Coconut poke cake

Coconut cakes are popular desserts in Southern states of US. The original recipe calls for more ingredients and longer preparation time. But this poke cake is an alternative to get the same taste with simple ingredients. I was waiting to try this cake which I saw few months back in 'Create TV'.
It is our tradition to make cake for all of our celebrations and festivals. So I made this for this Easter and it came out very delicious. I referred this website  also for details and thanks to the chef I could understand better. The suggested icing was 'frozen whipped topping' but I didn't use it.
I made this cake on Holy Thursday, before going to Church in the evening. Hubby dear became very happy on seeing his new cake in his favorite flavor and I am also glad that I could make one cake completely within an hour. But we waited to slice and share and taste it till Easter:)
Coconut cake , cooled and sliced.

Coconut cake for Easter

Top it with shredded dry coconut.

Soak the cake with coconut milk and condensed milk

Poking the cake

Spongy vanilla cake from scratch


All purpose flour (maida) - 2 cups
Salt - 1/2  tsp
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
sugar- 1 1/2 cup
egg - 5 (large eggs)
butter (unsalted) - 2 sticks (16 tbsp / 226 gms)
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
For soaking:
coconut milk - 1 cup
sweetened condensed milk - 1/2 cup
dry coconut flakes - few tbsp for topping

Bring the eggs and butter to room temperature , by keeping them outside the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Grease the baking pan with 1/4 tsp butter.
Mix the dry ingredients like maida, baking soda, baking powder by sieving twice.
(This makes the cake spongy).
Add the egg, butter, sugar, vanilla essence , salt to a blender / mixie and beat till it turns fluffy.
Add the dry ingredients and beat well using an electric beater. we can mix by using a fork / spatula also.
Pour the cake batter in to the greased pan and shake / tap it to release the air.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
(Test the quality of baking by inserting a skewer and see if it comes out clear).

While the cake is still hot, poke it all over using a skewer or fork.
Mix condensed milk with coconut milk and pour all over.
Dry roast the dry coconut flakes till it turns mild golden red.
Sprinkle over the cake.
Easy coconut cake is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve as dessert or tea time snack.
Always keep it refrigerated, as it contains coconut.

*Cream cheese frosting can be used for icing..
Frozen whipped topping can also be used as icing.
*Makes one 9x13 inch or two 8x8 cakes
*We can use self rising flour also:
2 cups self rising flour =
All purpose flour - 2 cups
Salt - 1/2  tsp
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp

Friday, April 25, 2014

Kadaai paneer with soya chunks

Paneer + capsicum + soya chunks in a curry = yummy ! That's all I should say now, before you try and tell me how you like it:)
Including paneer and soya chunks is my Yoga akka's (my sister) idea  to get best alternatives for non-veg. I really enjoy these ingredients and now started including more vegetarian foods.
'Kadai'  or 'kadaai ' means wok. Kadaai paneer is a semi dry gravy that is served in most of the Indian restaurants. I have added protein rich soya chunks also with that and it is absolutely delicious. Here is my version to get the restaurant flavor at home.
Kadaai paneer with soy chunks

Pan fried capsicum and paneer

Cooking soya chunks

Green capsicum, soya chunks and paneer

Paneer - 1 cup (chopped)
(I used half of the above shown pack)
green capsicum - 1
Soya chunks - 1/2 cup
olive oil / butter - 1 tbsp

For masala to grind:
oil - 1 tbsp
Tomato - 2
onion - 1 (big)
ginger - 2 inch
garlic - 5 cloves
coriander seed - 1 tbsp
dry red chilly - 4
cinnamon - 1 inch

garam masala powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
salt - to taste
cilantro - a handful
cumin - 1 tsp
brown sugar / jaggery - 1 tsp

Slice the onion lengthwise. Peel garlic and ginger. Heat oil in a wok.
Add a tsp fennel, cinnamon, coriander seed, dry red chilly, onion and fry till it becomes golden brown. Then add ginger garlic and fry for 1 minute. Let everything cool.
Cook tomato with 1 cup water till mushy. (I microwaved it for 3 minutes). Let it cool.
Grind all the above to a fine paste and keep aside.

Chop the paneer into 1 inch size cubes. Fry the chopped paneer till golden brown in the left over oil in the same wok and take out. Chop the capsicum to small cubes and fry for 30 seconds and keep aside.
In the same time cook the soya chunks (Bring 2 cups of water with pinch of salt to a boil , add soya chunks and cook for 5 minutes. Drain water and squeeze to remove all water). Keep aside.

Heat the wok and fry a bay leaf, cumin .

Add the ground paste, turmeric powder,  garam masal powder, salt , sugar and bring it to a boil.  Wait till raw smell vanishes.

Then add the fried capsicum, cooked soya chunks and bring to a boil. Then add fried paneer and cook covered for 3 minutes.

Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.

Kadaai paneer with soya is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot with chapati or paratha or ghee rice.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Baked salted peanut

Baking the peanuts , instead of dry roasting in stove top is a very easy way to make large batches.  I make this often and so thought of writing it down.
Salted oven roasted peanuts: Nescafe bottle for hubby's snack time in office and another container for us at home:)

Baking / oven roasting the peanut.

Peanut - 2 cups (coffee mug full)
salt - 1/2 tsp
water - 1 tbsp

Choose good quality peanuts. Oily ones are bigger in size and the tasty ones are comparatively smaller in size. I use medium size or small peanuts. (Oily peanuts are good for making boiled peanuts for salads by pressure cooking . In that method we can discard the oil by removing the cooked water).

Preheat oven to 350 deg F for 5 minutes. Put the peanut in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the water and salt and mix well with hand. Spread it over a baking sheet and bake for 12 - 15  minutes.

Check by crushing one peanut with hand. The skin should come off immediately .The peanut may seem uncooked a little, but it will continue cooking in room temperature also.  In this stage switch off and let the peanut remain in tray till it gets cool. I open the oven and let the tray inside oven for 5 more minutes.

If needed, remove the skin of groundnut by rubbing it with hand gently and blowing the chaff off. Store in airtight containers.

Serving suggestion:
Serve as  snack.
Used in making coconut chutney.
Groundnut with jaggery, a very tasty snack box:)

If dry roasting the peanut in stove top....then follow the same method and dry roast it in a wide wok , till the chaff comes off easily.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tamilnadu Easter special menu

Preparing  homemade dessert or spicy snack would make any festival more happier. That too sticking to our traditional food is everyone's wish.
Here are some Easter specials that are popular in Tamilnadu. I thought it would be nice to note down a few suggestions on festive menu for my readers. So gathering a few of my best recipes here.
Here is my visual treat to you all :)

Idli with goat leg paya kulambu.
Idli , sambar, chutney - A festival breakfast.


White aappam (my easy method using rice flour) - Easter special.
Rava kesari
Rava kesari...breakfast dessert
Chicken 65
Chicken 65....make all preparations on the previous night and just do the frying part on special days.

Easy chicken biriyani (in cooker)
Chicken biriyani with onion raitha and egg
Paruppu payasam:

Paal payasam (semiya , javvarisi) kheer:
Easy and delicious dessert.

Simple lime juice;

Plain sweet lime juice for mid-morning or afternoon.

Ulunthu vadai:
urid dal vadai for evening snack.
Masal vadai:
paruppu vadai.

Make some murukku ahead of the festival day to give a nice snack with evening coffee.

Athirasam :  Indian rice doughnut

Though it may take three days to get the dough ready, this snack is one of the easiest to prepare. This athirasam is my mother in law's recipe and I am glad that I learned it from her.
Munthiri kothu:
Sweet snack:  munthiri kothu .

Sukiyan / susiyam:
Traditional sweet in Tirunelveli.
Getting prepared for the festivals needs a little planning ahead. So remember to make a list of the items we are going to prepare and things to do on that day.
Make a grocery list and buy accordingly.
If planning for easy desserts like kheer, then make ahead and keep refrigerated.
Vada batter can be made 2 - 3 days ahead and kept in fridge.
If preparing snacks like susiyam, then make the sweet balls one day ahead and keep in fridge. we can fry it on festival morning.
Keep the cooking for the day easy, by earlier preparation and enjoy the day:)
If you are a beginner to cooking, then just focus on one specialty like breakfast or snack or lunch and make it grand to see your loved ones happy. Try a few and enjoy!
Get up early and enjoy the day thoroughly with your loved ones....that is more important:)

Wishing all a very happy Easter,
Viki Xavier

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Coconut milk icecream

Wishing all a very happy Tamil New year,
Coconut milk ice cream

coconut milk - 1 1/2 cup
(I used thick coconut milk from carton)
shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
Whipped Topping 8 oz (225 gm) - 2 pack
butter - 1 tsp
sugar - 1 cup (or to taste)
Almond / cashew - 10
cardamom seeds - 1.5 tsp
saffron - 3 strands
Raisin - 1/2 cup
Tooti frooti (dry fruits) - 1/2 cup

Slightly dry roast the almond or cashew and make a powder along with cardamom seeds and sugar.
In 1 tsp butter fry the shredded coconut till it turns mild red and fragrant.
The whipped topping should be kept in the refrigerator (not freezer ...see instructions on container) till we start using.
In a mixing bowl add the powdered almond mixture, shredded coconut, raisin, dry fruits and coconut milk . Mix well.
Now add the whipped topping and mix gently (too much mixing will make the ice cream hard).
Immediately transfer them to a freezer-safe lidded container.
Cover and freeze for 3-4 hours.
Coconut milk ice cream is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Makes a dessert.
Makes 15 servings.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jackfruit seed fry

Jackfruits in USA is a rare sight except for the Asian stores in some states. My Sakuntala athai (aunt) is my guru in peeling this fruit during her visits on summer vacations. She used to teach me every culinary art she knew , while playing with us too and our summer holidays would be filled with family gatherings and happiness.
Nowadays , I simply walk past my favorite fruit, analyzing (??) its quality and price (while comparing it with an almost inexpensive fruit in India) and also for the time / effort it takes to get the fruits. But this time hubby dear compelled me to buy at least a small piece as he too loves it very much:) Some years ago, as newly married, he used to buy these BIG jack fruits on weekends from koyambedu.  Sometimes he would drive there while coming home, just to pick up this fruit. Our street kids would wow on seeing him with this fruit:) After Saturday lunch he would make me sit and peel the whole fruit, while he was watching his favorite movies and munching these yummies with our little friends:)  The next day our houses would have a lot of jackfruit seeds and we would cook them the whole week:) The next time if I see this fruit, I will not think anything else, except the happiness and sweetness it gives:)  Happy memories are treasures...right !

Jackfruit is a composite fruit. Fruit develops from ovary of multiple flowers, e.g. Pineapple, Jack fruit.
Jack fruit seeds are easy to get in Chennai. They sell it in heaps.
In USA, we can get it in freezer aisles in Indian grocery stores.
How to peel / cut jackfruit?
If we can get a fresh (whole) jackfruit, then peel as follows:
  * Spread a lot of news papers underneath and place the jack fruit in the floor.
  *Take a 1/4 cup  of sesame oil (any oil) and generously apply it on our hands and knife.
  *Cut it into half. Remove the hard central stem , that runs from top to bottom.
  *again and again apply oil in our hands, as the gum in jack fruit can't be washed easily if oil is not applied while peeling.
  *Loosen the yellow fruits inside by running the knife all around the edge without cutting the fruit.
 *Take out in small portions and remove all the fibers around individual fruits and place them in a clean bowl. Slit open and remove the seeds.
 * It is a good idea to remove and salvage the seeds, before handing them over for eating. Because many people throw away the seeds without knowing what to do with them:) These seeds can be used as snacks by boiling , dry roasting or stir frying.
 *Jack fruits, once peeled can be eaten fresh. They can be packed in airtight containers and stored in fridge for a week.
 *Jack fruit can be made into jam, kesari, payasam etc. Also it is soaked in honey and eaten as a delicacy.
Jack fruit, the yummiest of all fruits in the world:) world:)

After peeling off the edible fruits, take out and save the seeds, before serving.

Peel the outer layer and chop the seeds coarsely

Fried jack fruit seeds

Jack fruit seeds - 25
salt - taste
coconut oil - 1 or 2 tbsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
fennel (sombu ) - 1 tsp
curry leaf - 1 sprig
black pepper powder - 1 tsp
red chilly powder - 1/4 tsp
cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
water - 2 tbsp

Peel the outer white layer of jackfruit seed. Chop into big pieces.
Heat oil in a wok. Add fennel and as it gets red , put the curry leaves.
Then add the chopped seeds, turmeric powder, pepper, cumin, chilly powder.
Stir well for 1 minute. Cook covered with a handful (2 tbsp) water.
After 10 minutes , it would get soft. Then add salt.
The take off lid and fry till it turns little crispy.
Jackfruit seed fry is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with paruppu kuzhambu / sambar and rice or with curd rice.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Carrot usili

Finding more and more ways to cook carrot is one of my interests, as we get good quality carrot in all seasons at a very cheaper price here. But including it in our meals needs creativity:) Sometimes I make juice or desserts like carrot halwa or cake. Spicy foods like kuruma, stir fries, fried rice, salad, vegetable briyani , raitha, uthappam dosai, paniyaram can also be done. So whenever I go for a grocery shopping I buy a pack of carrots always. Instead of regular baby-carrots, occasionally I sliver these regular carrots for hubby's snack box too:)
Here is one traditional dal based Indian dish, Usili with carrot. Usili is one of the brilliant Indian recipes to make us get protein rich dals easily. I make usili often with many vegetables, as it is our favorite. Hope you all like this carrot usili too !

Carrot - 3
sesame oil - 1 tbsp
mustard - 1 tsp
green chilly - 1
curry leaf - 1 sprig
shredded coconut - 1 tbsp

To grind:
Thoor dhal (red gram) - 1/2 cup
dry red chilly - 2
cumin - 1 tsp
sea salt - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
hing - 1/8 tsp

Soak dal for 1 hour and grind in a mixie without water along with the other items to a fine paste.
Scoop the dal into idly plates and steam cook for 10 minutes.
Let it get cool completely.
Put it in the mixie again and pulse gently for a few times, so that the cooked dal looks loose.
(We can mash by hands too, but this mixie method will give good looking usili).
In the mean time wash and peel the carrot. cut them into small cubes.
Heat oil in a wok and let mustard splutter.
Then add the curry leaves, split green chilly, chopped carrot and stir fry it.
Cook covered along with very little salt for 5 minutes.
Then add the prepared dal mixture and stir fry it in high flame for few minutes.
Add shredded coconut and switch off.
Carrot usili is ready!

Serving suggestions:
Serve with kara kulambu + rice or rasam + rice.

Other recipes to cook carrot :
Vegetable uthappam (dosai)
sambar rice
fresh masala sambar
vegetable briyani
cabbage carrot poriyal
Tri color stir fry
carrot cake
carrot orange juice
Carrot pumpkin cake
carrot halwa 
carrot kuli paniyaram

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shrimp Kebab

Kebabs are always fun food. While chicken kebabs are quite popular, I like different varieties  like fruit kebab, fish kebab also. Here is one kebab for the shrimp lovers.
Shrimp with broccoli and onion Kabab

Shrimp - 12
onion - 1
broccoli or capsicum or tomato or pineapple - few pieces
lemon- 1/4
skewers - 4
olive oil or butter - few tsp

Masala for marination:
Lemon juice from  1/2 fruit
salt - to taste
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
garam masala - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
corn starch - 1 tbsp (optional)

Soak the skewers in water for 1 hour minimum.
Mix the masalas  in a small bowl.
Clean the shrimp and retain the tail. Marinate the shrimp pieces in the masala for 10 minutes.
Take them out.
In the same time roughly chop the broccoli / capsicum / pineapple / tomato along with onion and mix with left over masala mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350 deg C.
Thread the shrimp and vegetables as per wish.
Arrange  the skewers in baking sheet and drizzle little olive oil or butter over it.
Bake for 10 minutes one side and 3 minutes after flipping to other side.
Take out and squeeze some lemon juice over the kebab.
Shrimp vegetable kabob is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as appetizer or main course.

Brinjal roast

Brinjal roast is another favorite for us. I made this last year using our fresh homegrown eggplant. Try and enjoy this easy side dish.

Eggplant - 1
turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
red chilly powder - 1 tsp
curry masala powder - 1 tsp
salt - to taste
oil - 1 tbsp per batch

Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick circles or semi circles.
Keep it in a large mixing bowl.
In a  small bowl mix all ingredients except oil.
Add the masala mixture to the brinjal slices and shake to coat thoroughly.
Keep marinated for 10 minutes.
In a frying pan , heat 1 tbsp oil, then fry a small batch of brinjal slices both sides (almost 1 minute per side).
Take out, repeat and fry all the slices.
Pan roasted brinjal fry is ready!

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with sambar rice or curd rice.

Deep frying these brinjal slices will taste incredible good, but pan roasting is easier.