Dec 18, 2012

Stir Fried Capsicum

It appears that people either love or hate capsicum / bell peppers. Me – I love it in all forms. I enjoy it’s raw crunch in salads, add it lovingly to sambar to perk it up, toss it with paneer for a smart bhurjee,…
…Or I make this stir fry. Capsicum is the star in this dish, it does not play the role of accompanying artist. Rather, the spices and seasonings added, only serve to add to the punch of this amazing vegetable.

What’s good about Capsicum?

  1. The best contribution from Capsicum to a meal would be it’s high Vitamin C, B and carotene (Vitamin A) content. While Vitamin C  and B reduces with heat and cooking, stir frying can ensure minimal losses. 
  2. Capsicum has virtually no Sodium, so it is a great addition to salads for a person with high blood pressure.
  3. The coloured peppers such as red, yellow, purple have a higher sugar content than the green coloured one. So it is recommended that diabetics use more of green pepper and lesser of the other coloured ones.
  4. Capsicum also is a low calorie, no - fat vegetable. People keen on weight maintenance / weight loss can include this wonder veggie freely in their diets.
  5. A note about the compound Capsaicin – this compound is isolated from other chillies of the capsicum family and used in several topical medications to relieve pain. This compound does not exist in sufficient quantities in Capsicum to have any pain relieving effects.

Without further delay. here is the recipe.


greem capsicum

You need

  1. Green Capsicum – 5-6 medium sized
  2. Salt – 3/4 tsp
  3. Fresh Coconut – grated, 2 tbsp
  4. Chutney Dal – 2 tbsp
  5. Green chilli – 3
  6. Saunf – 3/4 tsp
  7. Garlic – 2 pods, washed and peeled
For seasoning
  1. Vegetable Oil – 2 tsp
  2. Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
To Assemble
  • Wash, deseed and cut capsicum into thin slices.
  • Powder all ingredients from 3 to 7 into a coarse powder.
  • You could warm the chutney dal and saunf together before powdering. This step is optional – it helps to release the aroma and powder better.
  • Heat oil in a wok / pan, add mustard seeds.
  • When the mustard crackles, tip in the sliced capsicum and stir rapidly.
  • Keep the heat at medium high, add salt and keep stirring for 3-4 minutes. Adding salt may release water from the vegetable. If it releases too much water, make a well in the centre of the pan and let the water sizzle out quickly. The veggies should retain the green colour and just turn soft but not soggy.
  • Add the powdered mixture and toss to coat all slices.
  • Remove from heat and serve warm with dal and rice.
  • I served it with ‘basale soppu dal’ and steamed rice.


Steamed rice, dal and sir fried Capsicum
  1. You could choose to include all coloured peppers such as red, yellow along with green pepper. If so, include in equal proportion, tip in the green pepper first and add the others halfway through.
  2. Slice up a red onion and stir fry that first before adding the capsicum.
  3. Add chopped coriander as a final garnish.
Stir fried Capsicum - a closer look
  • The key to successful stir frying, is to chop / slice vegetables to similar size, so they fry evenly.
  • Use a much larger wok / pan than needed to fit in the vegetables. This way, they swish around well and fry happily!
  • Heat minimum oil to a good heat, just below it’s smoking point. Stir fry in this hot oil at medium high to high heat. This retains crispness, colour and flavour of the vegetables.
  • Do not dump in all vegetables together. Add the ones that need more cooking first and so on till you add the quickest cooking vegetable last.
  • The best stir fry is one that takes only a few minutes on high heat.

Aug 7, 2012

Cauliflower Koshimbir


When I heard my friend, Geetanjali tell me about the several koshimbir or salads that she rustles up often at her home, I was all ears. I am always on the look out for newer healthier food options. This salad, apart from new ingredients for koshimbir, also packs in freshness, sweet, tangy and citrusy flavours in.

While Geetanjali’s version had cauliflower as the sole vegetable, and used lemon juice for the tang, I added some carrots for colour, and had to improvise with grated raw mango since I did not have lemon at hand. You could try both versions. They taste just right with steamed rice and dal combo or with hot phulkas too. In fact, you could make a wrap with a hot phulka, some mustard smeared on it, filled in with the koshimbir, rolled up and enjoyed!

What’s good about this dish?

  • Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, similar to cabbage or broccoli.
  • Fresh cauliflower is an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6. A great source of minerals like iron, manganese, potassium, too.
  • Di-indolyl methane (DIM), a substance found in this family of vegetables have anti viral, anti bacterial properties and also functions as immune modulator. This property is being used in clinical trials for treating Human Papilloma Virus (the virus that causes cervical cancer)
  • Cauliflower has several other cancer fighting compounds too – they protect against prostrate, cervical, colon, breast, and ovarian cancers. All this makes it a very important vegetable in every woman’s diet.
  • When cooking, wash the head under running water, parboil in salted water, rinse again and use in recipes.

Go on, realise the benefits of this wonder vegetable using it in recipes such as the one below - 

Cauliflower Koshimbir

You need

  1. Cauliflower – 1 medium head
  2. Carrot – 1 medium Or Grated Carrot – 1/2 cup
  3. Raw mango – 1 small OR Grated mango – 1/4 cup
  4. Fresh grated coconut – 2 tsp, optional
  5. Salt- 1/2 tsp or more if needed
  6. Sugar – 1/4 tsp,optional

For seasoning -

  1. Fresh coriander leaves – chopped, 2 tbsp
  2. Oil – 1/2 tsp
  3. Mustard – 1/4 tsp
  4. Asafoetida powder (hing) – a pinch
  5. Green chilli – 2, finely chopped

To assemble

  1. Break the cauliflower head into small florets.
  2. Boil about 1 litre water in a saucepan, add about a tsp of salt to it, drop the florets in the boiling water, turn off the stove, steep for a couple of minutes in the water. Drain, rinse under clean cold water. Now use a steel grater and grate the cauliflower florets into a finer texture.the grated cauliflower - a closer look
  3. Grate the raw mango, and the carrot too.
  4. Toss all the grated veggies together, mix in the coconut, (if using) add salt and sugar and mix well without bruising the vegetables. Add in the chopped coriander too.

tossed salad ingredients

5. Heat the oil in a pan, add the mustard, allow to splutter, tip in the chilli and hing, and pour over the salad.

6.Chill for half an hour before serving.

chilled and portioned koshimbirCauliflower Koshimbir

Jun 27, 2012

The Birthday Cake



Happy Birthday to the bestest husband in the world!

This is a ‘different’ post – one of celebration and love.

I have borrowed the recipe, from Deeba of PAB. Deeba, thank you so much for helping me attempt a birthday cake on my own! I have tried to do justice to the wonderful recipe. Pictures had to taken furtively as the cake was meant to be a surprise for the hubby. Kids were all excited and ‘tried’ to help with the cake making too.

What did  I make?

Two recipes of Deeba’s Eggless chocolate vanilla cake without the chocolate centre, and one recipe of Eggless chocolate walnut cake. The variations for the vanilla cake were I did not use cherries for the topping, did not use vanilla sugar. I used a mixture of sunflower and olive oil and vanilla essence for flavour. For the chocolate cake, I used a mixture of sunflower and olive oil again, Ghiradelli cocoa powder and did not use walnuts for the topping. As I did not have a 6 inch tin, I used a 9 inch one – the cake did not rise much and flattened out. That was useful in a way – I did not have to torte too much for I was going to layer it. . 

I made the cakes a day ahead, cooled them well in the fridge overnight, and then ‘dressed it up’.For decoration, I used Tropolite with minced cherries in it. I used this whipping to sandwich the chocolate cake between the 2 vanilla cakes. For the icing, I used chocolate ganache, again made a day ahead and stored in the fridge. The whipped cream decoration and the birthday message on top were piped on by my 9 year old daughter, I am very proud of her. The chocolate curls were ‘curled out’ from a block of cooking chocolate using a serrated knife.

I need to improve on torting skills.

There, now that I have given you a complete account of the making, some pictures are in order!





Jun 22, 2012

Chilled Pasta Salad

Summer bring the best and the worst out of all of us. Think thirsty  parched throats, prickly heat,…and again think tall cool glasses of sherbet, lazy vacation days, at least for school going kids, ice cream, swimming, and of course the season’s best – mangoes! Mango is so rightly called the king of fruits. I am yet to meet a person who does not like this ever so fragrant luscious fruit. Also think chilled salads when you are in no mood to cook your self along with food in a sweltering kitchen. To me, a pasta salad seemed just the answer to a hungry family and a not-ready-to-cook mom, that’s me. Teamed with warm grilled garlic bread, this filling salad left us so happy and content last weekend. I urge you too, do recreate this Indian-Italian piece de resistance in your homes this summer.chilled salad beckons
What’s good about this dish?
  • The meal combines grains(pasta and whole wheat bread), dairy protein (from the curd), fruit and veggies too. Hence it is a complete one pot meal.
  • Ripe mangoes and corn add to the vitamin A, B6, C and E levels of the meal, apart from the natural dietary fibre content. 
  • A good Potassium content in mangoes makes it a good fruit for people with hypertension. To make the dish more suitable for a hypertensive person, halve the salt used in the recipe.
  • Fresh curd is rich in probiotics – the helpful bacteria that are needed for normal functioning and maintenance of stomach and intestines. Fresh curd is also rich in vitamins B and C. Even people with lactose intolerance can usually tolerate curd as the ‘lactose’ sugar is converted to ‘lactic acid’.
Do you need more reasons to try out this fuss-free delicious recipe…. sunday lunch
You need
  1. Small elbow or bow tie pasta – 250 gm ( I used  half of a 500 gm pack)
  2. Sweet corn kernels – 1/2 cup, steamed 
  3. Ripe, firm mango (any variety) – finely dice and measure 1 cup.
For the dressingingredients for dressing
  1. Fresh thick curd, and hung for an hour – 2 cups. Measure the cheese after curd is hung.
  2. Onion – very fine minced, 2 tbsp
  3. Sugar – 1/2 tsp
  4. Black/white pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
  5. Salt – 1 heaped tsp
  6. Mustard – 1 tsp ( I used ‘Fun foods’ brand - English Mustard)
  7. Fresh coriander leaves – finely minced, 2 tbsp
  8. Green capsicum (Bell Pepper) – finely minced, 1 tbsp
  9. Fresh cream – 2 tbsp (optional, I did not use any)
To assemble
  1. Boil pasta for 8-9 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Leave to cool in the colander until dressing is ready.
  2. Steam the sweet corn kernels for 2 minutes in the microwave oven.
  3. Peel and dice the mango as finely as possible without squishing it!
  4. Combine all ingredients for dressing in a mixing bowl. Please do not omit any ingredient ( I did not have capsicum and sorely felt it’s absence). Adding cream is your choice though – it helps to give a smooth mouth feel, but does amp up the calories.
  5. Once the dressing is mixed in well, add the cooked pasta, corn, and mangoes and toss well.mix dressing and pasta welladd corn, mango and pasta to dressing
  6. Chill well before serving. I chilled for an hour before garnishing it with more mango slices and served it up, accompanied with warm, cheesy garlic bread.
warm garlic bread and cold salad
  • Can use pineapple when mangoes are not in season.
  • Can use other vegetables such as carrots too.
  • Can use fresh or dried parsley or other fresh herb seasoning. Pudina / mint, however will be too overpowering a flavour.
  • Do not omit any ingredient from the ‘dressing’ list. I did not have green bell pepper (capsicum) at the time of assembling this salad and sorely felt it’s need to perk up the dish!
warm garlic bread and chilled pasta salad

Jun 2, 2012

Sweet Potato Halwa


Sweet potato is a very healthy tuber and can be used in several dishes.I have found dishes made from this wonder tuber in several cuisines across the world. The many health benefits associated with sweet potato made me want to use it at my home too.To my delight, my old neighbour Renuka had a simple recipe using this vegetable.  I learnt this unbelievably simple-to-prepare-yet-very-tasty halwa from her.  After jazzing it up with some fragrant cardamom powder, no one could guess the base of the halwa. Do try it out for it’s ease of preparation and for the whole world of benefits this wonder tuber has to offer.

What’s good about sweet potato?

  • Topping the list of benefits is the high Vitamin A content of sweet potato – 25 times more than that of carrots!
  • One serving  (200gm,= 1 cup) of sweet potato cooked, takes care of a quarter of fibre needed for a day, Staying away from refined, sweet foods and still getting a ‘healthy sweet dessert’ was never so easy and rewarding !
  • Sweet potato is a great source of Vitamins B and C too - Again 10 times more Vitamin B and C available than in carrots.  It scores high on minerals such as Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium and Calcium too. This unique combination makes it worthwhile to include the tuber in diets of teenagers (rapid growth), sports people (essential minerals). Good for people with high blood pressure too since it is naturally low in sodium.
  • The purple-flesh varieties are outstanding sources of anthocyanins, especially peonidins and cyanidins –very powerful natural anti –oxidants. This group of flavonoid compounds also help in maintaining strength of blood vessels and capillaries, reduces inflammation at the tissue levels and inhibits formation of LDL cholesterols.

Interested in including sweet potato in your diet? Read on for a simple recipe…

warm halwa


You needSweet potato

  1. Sweet Potatoes – 750 gms
  2. Jaggery – 300- 400 gms, depending on your sweet tooth
  3. Fresh grated coconut – 100 gms ( desiccated coconut will do just fine too)
  4. Ghee – 1+1/2 tbsp.
  5. Fresh water – 1 cup
  6. Green cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp.

To assemble

Wash, peel and chop sweet potatoes into 1” squares, any even size will work.

chunks of sweet potato

Pressure cook the sweet potatoes with 1 cup water for 2 whistles. I used a pressure handi and pressure cooked, and stirred up the halwa in the same pot.

pressure cooked

Mash the cooked tubers into a coarse mush.

Mushed up glory

Pound the jaggery into small chunks (if you had a huge chunk to begin with). Measure out 300 gms with a kitchen scale or you could use 2 level cupful. Add it to the mushed up sweet potatoes, add 1/2 cup water if the mixture looks very dry, and stir up over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, add the ghee and blend it in too.

Blend in jaggery and ghee

Your halwa should be ready in 10 minutes of stirring over medium heat. Look for a glaze, sheen to the halwa to check it’s done-ness. Mix in the grated coconut, sprinkle green cardamom powder and you are ready to go! Serve warm, garnished with extra grated coconut if you wish.

dressed halwa ready for hungry kids


Plated and presented by - Raja

May 31, 2012

The Serendipity Sundal

“Mom, what’s for lunch?” Startled, I looked up the clock to see it was just 10 minutes to our lunch time. I was deeply immersed in some cleaning chore and had lost count of time. So here I was with a bowl of boiled sprouted peas and some steamed rice. I had 10 minutes to turn these into lunch!  I work best under pressure. (I mean, when –time–is–running-short kind of pressure, and not the boss-down-my-neck kind of pressure) The sundal I assembled proved this right!  A bowl of yummy goodness was the result. The side dish worked well with chilled curd rice. So why serendipity? I was searching for an idea for a quick side dish and wound up with this filling, tasty, nourishing dish!
What’s good about this dish?Peas and  corn
  • Sprouts are real, live, complete, nutrient packed, power houses.
  • Pea sprouts are rich in Vitamin A, B, C, E, the minerals Calcium, iron and all essential amino acids.
  • While pressure cooking does take away some nutrients, sprouting and cooking renders the protein easily digestible, ensures it is well absorbed, and prevents discomfort due to indigestion. So this is a good cooking method for people with IBS, Mal absorption syndrome.
  • Sprouts are vital for teenagers, people engaged in active sports, pregnant and breast feeding mothers, weight-watchers and for body builders.
  • Including sprouts in a vegan /vegetarian diet improves the protein quality of the meal.

You needall dressed up!
  1. Red onions –  dice and measure 1 heaped cup
  2. Capsicum – chop and measure 1/2 cup ( I used green, red or yellow would work well too)
  3. Frozen /Fresh corn kernels – 1/2 cup
  4. White peas sprouts – 1 level cup
  5. Fresh /Frozen coconut – grated, 2 tbsp
  6. Green chilli – 3
  7. Garlic – 1-2 pods
  8. Salt – 1 level tsp
  9. Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
For seasoning
  1. Cooking oil – 1 tbsp
  2. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  3. Cumin seed – 1 tsp
  4. Coriander leaves – chopped, 2 heaped tbsp
To assemble
  • Pressure cook white peas sprouts until soft, but not mushy.
  • Heat oil in a fry pan / kadhai, add mustard seeds and cumin.
  • When it splutters, add diced onions fry well till light brown (you can add 1/2 tsp of sugar while frying to get the onions taste sweet).
  • Tip in the diced capsicum, corn kernels, toss well.
  • Once the veggies look ‘fried but not wilted’(in about 2 minutes), toss in the cooked peas.
  • Add salt and turmeric powder, mix well. Cover for a minute.
  • Make a  coarse powder of coconut, garlic and green chilli in the mixer. I just used the ‘pulse’ button a couple of times. Add this to the peas and mix in well.
  • Top off with chopped coriander for a very fragrant, healthy dish.

  • You can add/omit veggies used in this recipe.
  • Add a zing to the dish by squeezing in lemon juice after cooking.
  • Add fennel seeds/saunf to the seasoning to give a nice twist to flavour.
  • Use parboiled peas and corn with raw onion, capsicum and shredded carrots for a colourful salad.
The Serendipity Sundal - up close

Sending this hearty dish to Renuka's ongoing event 'Salad splendour'

...And we are back!

Whew, I am back to blogging and hope to continue too.
I hope all who drop in here enjoy my space and leave behind your valuable feedback. As any blogger would say, responses from readers is what keeps us going!
Without futhur follows the comeback recipe.