Category Archives: Lunch|Brunch


“Howdy Y’all?”, miss hearing this quintessential Texan welcome greeting, with a long drawl or a twang and of course Texas, where as the saying goes, everything is Big!

When we were posted in Texas, a couple of years back, we had to face evacuation due to Hurricane Katrina, closely followed by Hurricane Rita – Alphabetical order of women names – why women?! cause they rock your world and could leave you with out your car and house!

‘Hunkering down’ (a phrase new to me, until then) was an option we took for Hurricane Rita, were we stayed put and had a camping adventure in our own house without electricity for a few days.

Notable, was the way evacuation was handled. I was awe struck by a calm | composed | polite | respectful | organised | orderly evacuation, in times of adversity. Hats off Houston, Texas!

Quesadilla, one of the Tex-Mex dishes, is a jackpot or should I say piñata, I hit upon, when in Texas, as T loves it and this healthy recipe is a keeper!

Vegetable Quesadilla

Prep time : 20 mins; Cooking time : 20 mins ; Serves : 4 – 6

Ingredients for the tortilla (organic and unrefined) :

  • 3 cups of Wheat flour
  • 1 cup Corn flour
  • 2 cups of water approx.
  • salt to taste

Ingredients for the filling (organic and unrefined) :

  • 3 onions
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 capsicum | green bell pepper
  • 1/4 lettuce or cabbage
  • 1 – 2 Jalapenos or green chilies
  • 3 sprigs of Cilantro | coriander leaves
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne | Paprika | Red chilly powder or flakes
  • Rock salt to taste
  • 200 gm s or as required Cheddar Cheese or any melting cheese

Directions :

1. Prepare the dough by kneading the wheat flour, corn flour and salt together to get a soft dough. Cover with a damp cloth, till ready to roll out the tortillas. Set aside.

2. Prepare the filling by finely chopping the onions, tomatoes, capsicum, cabbage or lettuce and green chilies. Squeeze in the lemon juice, add paprika powder and salt just before you prepare the quesadillas, as the vegetables will ooze out water, once salt is added. Set aside.

3. Grate the cheese and set aside.

4. Make round balls with the soft dough and roll out the tortilla on a tortilla maker manually or make them with an electric tortilla press. Cook the 2 tortillas well on both sides on a pan or an electric press.

5. Spread out on one tortilla, about a tbsp of the filling and sprinkle, grated cheese the amount you desire, all around on the vegetables. Cover by placing the other tortilla on top. If one is cooking, on a electric tortilla maker, then close the top plate over the bottom one but if one is cooking on the pan, place a heavy weight, like a heavy plate on top of the tortilla such that the 2 tortillas are sandwiched, well together and cook for 1 – 2 mins. Flip carefully, so as not to let the filling spill out and on this side again, close the 2 plates of the electric tortilla maker or if on a pan then place a heavy weight on the tortilla and cook for another 1 – 2 mins. Make sure to turn the tortillas around while cooking, so that they cook and brown evenly.

6. Cut them into even wedges or quarters and serve hot with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

Vegan and Gluten Free Version :

Replace wheat flour by Pearl millet flour | Sorghum flour | Bajra atta | Kambu maavu or Amaranth flour | Rajgheera atta and dairy cheese by vegan cheese or tofu in the above recipe. Use only electric tortilla press to make gluten free tortillas. Serve hot with guacamole, salsa and tofu sour cream.

Buen Provecho. Adios, amigos!

Si, por favor, Gracias!




Master chef calls for challenge

Domestic looks for balance

Testing recipes, call for a duel

To which, day-to-day fire may not fuel

Thuvaiyal‘ – minced spiced veggies with lentil

Stock on table, is fundamental

Back in times, it was hand ground

On an Indian stone mortar pestle, all around

Old school chefs, still vouch by the flavour

Of the energetic, manual labour

However, modern world surrender

To the electric blender

Pothina thuvaiyal

Prep time : 5 mins ; Cooking time : 10 mins ; Serves : 4

Ingredients  :

  • 1 bunch of Pudina or Mint leaves
  • 3 whole red chilies (small round variety)
  • 1/4 tsp whole pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp udad dal | Black gram lentil
  • 1 tsp thuvar dal | Red gram lentil
  • a marble size piece of tamarind
  • salt to taste
  • 11/2 tsp sesame oil / cooking oil of choice

For tempering (optional) :

  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp udad dal | Black gram lentil
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • a red chilly (small round variety)
  • few curry leaves
  • a tsp of sesame oil / cooking oil of choice

Method :

  1. Pinch out the mint leaves, discarding the stems. Wash, drain and scald them on a pan, with half a tsp of oil.
  2. Fry in a tsp of oil mustard seeds, red chilies, pepper, black gram lentil, red gram lentil and tamarind, till the lentils are golden brown.
  3. Grind them coarsely in a mixer jar with salt and scalded mint leaves. If required sprinkle little water to ease the grinding process.
  4. Fry ingredients given under tempering, in a tsp of oil and temper the ground thuvaiyal. This step is optional.
  5. Serve mint thuvaiyal as an accompaniment, along with steamed ghee rice. It can also be used as pesto or spread, on different types of bread.

Variation :

The list of thuvaiyal / thogayal, among many more, which one can prepare in a similar fashion are with coriander leaves, curry leaves,  finely chopped coconut, Kamala orange peels, onions, garlic, brinjal, ridge gourd (peerkangai), chayote (chow-chow), ginger, sesame seeds, coriander seeds and red gram lentils .



Paruppu Usili


Home folks willing support, in sucession

Weekday or weekend, is the discussion

Paruppu usili‘, veggie rich string of superlatives

A Sunday special, one off, childhood prerogatives

Vaizhapoo paruppu usili‘, though arduous ‘n’ labourious

Totally worth it, oh! so glorious ‘n’ scrumptious

Broccoli paruppu usili, a twist to the traditional tale

The gamut now notched up, the wellness scale


Broccoli Paruppu Usili


Prep time : 1 hr; Cooking time 30 mins; Serves : 4 – 6
 Ingredients :

  • 350 gms Broccoli 
  • 1/2 cup Thuvaram paruppu / Red gram lentil
  • 1/2 cup Kadalai paruppu / Bengal gram lentil
  • 3 – 6 Red chilies
  • 1/2 tsp Milagu / Black peppercorns (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Jeeragam / Cumin seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Manjal / Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Kadugu / Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Asafoetida / Perungayam powder
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 – 6 tbsp Sesame Oil / Coconut oil / cooking oil of choice

Method :

1. Chop the broccoli into small florets. Steam cook them in a vessel with turmeric and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
2. Wash and soak Thuvaram paruppu and kadalai paruppu together for about an hour. Drain out completely.
3. Grind red chilies, peppercorns, cumin seeds and asafoetida in mixer jar, then add the drained out lentils. Coarsely grind them all.
4. Steam cook in a pressure cooker or steamer, the coarsely ground  lentil mixture on an oiled idli plate or vessel, for about 15 minutes.
5. Once cooked, roughly crumble the lentil mixture into small pieces, with a fork or spoon.
6. Heat oil in a wok or a wide base pan, add mustard seeds, once they splutter, add the curry leaves, the crumbled lentil mixture and roast well for about 10 mins. Then mix in the cooked broccoli florets and salt. Roast the curry for about 15 – 20 mins, till the lentils are golden brown and crispy. Serve hot with steamed rice and Goddu Rasam and/or  Moar kuzhambhu and/or Menthi khuzhambu.
Variations :
1. Vegetables like French beans, Broad beans, Cluster beans (Kothavarangai), Carrots, Cabbage and Plantain flower (Vaizhapoo) are used to make this preparation.
2. Green chilies can be used instead of red chilies.
3. Red chilly powder, pepper powder and cumin powder can be added instead of grinding the whole spices with the lentils.
4. Paruppu usili can also be prepared using only red gram lentil.
Plantain flower curry or Vaizhapoo Paruppu usili 
A classic heritage dish, where we need some additional steps to prepare the florets.
 Directions to prepare the Plantain flower ( also refer pic below ) :
  1. Oil the cutting board, knife and your hands, to avoid staining.
  2. Peel open the outer petal, to discover a bunch of florets inside.
  3. Remove the stamen out of each floret.
  4. Chop all the florets after removing the stamen.
  5. As you keep peeling off and discarding the petals, at one stage, the florets will be so small that you do not have to remove the stamen as they will be very tender, then chop it, as such.
  6. Soak the chopped florets, in bowl of water, to which a spoon of buttermilk is added to avoid discolouration, until you steam cook them in a pressure cooker or a pan.
Vazhaipoo Paruppu Usili







“Chinese fried rice” named as a matter of fact

 Oriental terrain knows it is not infact

‘Indo Chinese fried rice’ phenomenal tact pact

Its claim to irrefutable fame

Tickling taste buds is thy game

Pointless playing by thy name

 Balancing the ying and yang

 Sweet ‘n’ sour tastes boomerang

Hot, pungent, warm ‘n’ cold

Plants energy Qi ‘n’ roots the soul

 Family’s touch is always welcome

Magical is the outcome

Creating a beckoning array

It was one such fine day!


🎼 Standing in the Hall of Fame  And the world’s gonna know your name ‘Cause you burn with the brightest flame  And you’ll be on the walls of the hall of fame – The Script – “Hall of Fame” (feat.

Prep time : 15 min; Cooking time : 30 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients :

  • 3 cups Basmati | any long grain rice
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced Spring onion bulbs | Scallions
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced Celery (optional)
  • 1/4 cup  thinly sliced Capsicum | Bell Pepper
  • 1/4 cup  thinly sliced Green Beans
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced Carrots
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced or shredded Cabbage
  • 1/4 cup sliced Mushroom | Tofu | Baby corn (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp  Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Green chilly sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp  Red chilly sauce (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Tomato ketchup sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp Vinegar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 – 3 tbsp Sesame Oil

To be ground into a paste :

  • 1 bulb of Garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch Ginger, peeled
  • 1 – 2 green chilies
  • 1 – 2 whole red chilies
  • 1 – 3 whole peppercorns (optional)

Ingredients for garnish :

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced spring onion greens

Method :

  1. Rinse well and soak the rice for about 15 mins in 4 1/2 cups of water. Cook in a pressure cooker up to 1 whistle or cook in a vessel filled with water and then drain out once cooked. Make sure the grains are separate and not mushy. Set aside.
  2. Thinly slice all the vegetables and mushroom, tofu (if added) . Set aside.
  3. Grind the ingredients under  ‘To be ground into a paste’ in a mixer. Set aside.
  4. Heat the sesame oil in a large wok, preferably on a medium or high flame, with all ingredients close at hand. Fry the ground paste. Add the vegetables and salt. Saute them for a few minutes, when the vegetables are slightly cooked and crunchy, add the salt, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and other sauces (if used). Cook for a few more minutes. Check the seasoning.
  5.  Next add the cooked rice and toss things around like a pro, taking care not to break the rice grains and making sure all the grains are evenly coated with the gravy. Switch off heat.
  6. Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot, as is or along with a Manchurian gravy or your choice of sides.CF2

    Indo Chinese Vegetable fried rice


“Maa,  Shreenidhi got her classic sabzi again today for lunch and guess what?!” hollers my older one.

“WHAT?!” apprehensive me, hollering a notch above her, gearing up to dodge a googly that might come next.

“It is Sorrakkai (tamil word for Bottle gourd) curry!” she exclaims.

“DON’T TELL ME!” A relieved me also exclaiming with disbelief, albeit on a note higher but clearly, she had me all ears.

The credits for this Bengali cuisine style recipe go to Shreenidhi’s mother, who not only shared her recipe but also a sample of Nigella seeds, as we do not use these commonly in our day to day cooking – a sweet and thoughtful gesture on her part.

Our way of saying a ‘Big Thank You’ in appreciation of both Shreenidhi and her mother was naming this lip smacking dish ‘Shreenidhi Sabzi’ in our home. Forever!

A great way to introduce any vegetable!SS2Prep time : 15 mins; Cooking time : 25 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients :

  • 1 large Bottlegourd/Dhoodhi/Sorrakkai
  • 2 -3 onions (optional)
  • 1 -2 tomatoes
  • 1 – 2 green chilies
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 tsp Panch phoran made of the following 5 ingredients ( 1/4 tsp mustard seeds + 1/4 tsp cumin seeds+1/4 tsp fennel seeds+1/4 nigella seeds + 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds /methi seeds)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilly powder
  • 1 tsp corn flour (optional)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp Kitchen king masala or garam masala
  •  salt to taste
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tb.sp Mustard oil | any cooking oil of choice
  • 3 sprigs of coriander leaves

Method :

  1. Peel and chop the bottle gourd in 1 inch square pieces and finely chop onions, tomatoes, green chilies. Grate the ginger. Keep them ready.
  2. Heat oil in the frying pan. Temper with ‘Panch phoran’ till the mustard seeds splutter and rest of the seeds are aromatic and well roasted. Now add the grated ginger, finely chopped green chilies and onions. Saute till cooked. Now add the tomatoes. Scald some more and then add the chopped bottle gourd.
  3. Throw in the seasoning powders – turmeric powder, red chilly powder, kitchen king masala or garam masala and salt. Mix  the corn flour well, in 1/4 glass of water and add it if required, to thicken the gravy. Close with a lid for 5 – 10 mins. Cook till vegetables are well done and check the seasoning. Switch off heat. Garnish with coriander leaves.
  4. Serve hot with Rotis, Parathas or steamed rice.

Variations :

  1. This gravy can be made with a medley of vegetables like potatoes, carrots, peas – to name a few.
  2. Instead of corn flour, 1 boiled and mashed potato can be added to thicken the gravy.
  3. A paste of ginger, garlic and green chilies can be added instead of finely chopping them.
  4. Juice of half a lemon can be added at the very end, if a tangy version of the gravy is desired.

Note :

Larger quantities of ‘Panch phoran’ can be prepared by taking equal propotions of the 5 ingredients i.e equal quantities of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds.



A year back, the main intent of starting this blog, was to note down recipes for my girls. Along the way, am happy to find it being appreciated by many!

“Maa, you’ve surpassed yourself!” exclaimed, my older one after having ‘Moar kuzhambu’. Woah! Mammoth compliment, elevating me right up to cloud nine.

‘Moar kuzhambu alias Butter Milk Stew’ is a mildy spiced stew. Loved by all in the family, this blog would be incomplete without it. Landed and firmly grounded back to earth, I’m now busy jotting down the recipe. Voila!

Moar Khuzhambu

Prep time : 5 – 10 mins; Cooking time : 30 mins; Serves : 4

Ingredients :

  • 3 1/2 cups  buttermilk (thick and slightly sour would be preferable)
  • 1/2 cup cut vegetables like  Lady’s finger (okra), Brinjal ( egg plant) or Capsicum (bell peppers)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt as per taste

For grinding into a paste:

  • 1 1/2 tsp bengal gram dal / channa dal
  • 1/2 tsp raw rice
  • 3 – 5 green chilies
  • 1/4 tsp cummin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red gram lentil / thuvar dal (optional)
  • a handful of coconut scrapings

For seasoning :

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 – 3 broken red chilies
  • a few curry leaves
  • 2 – 3 tsp Sesame seed oil

For garnishing (optional) :

  • a few fresh coriander leaves

Method :

  1. Soak the dals and rice for a few minutes. Grind all the ingredients given under the list for grinding, into a smooth paste. Keep it ready.
  2. Chop Lady’s finger, Brinjal or Capsicum into 1 inch large pieces and scald well in a tsp of oil. Set aside.
  3. If you are using curd then churn it into smooth buttermilk and also make sure it is at room temperature. Add the ground paste, turmeric powder, salt and mix well. Boil it on slow fire in a large wok,stirring continuously to avoid curdling.
  4. Once it starts boiling. Add the scalded vegetables and let it boil for a few more minutes, then switch off the flame.
  5. Heat sesame oil for seasoning, throw in the mustard seed. Once they splutter, add the red chilies and curry leaves. Scald and pour the seasoning over the buttermilk stew.
  6. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves. Enjoy along with hot steamed rice and dry vegetable curries.

Variations :

  1. Vegetables like Ash gourd, Chayote squash (Chow Chow), Cucumbers, Potatoes and Colocasia  can be peeled, cut into large bits, boiled and added to the stew. Inch long chopped bits of Drumstick too, can be added.
  2. Dried and salted Manaithakkali, Chundaikai can be fried and added to the stew.
  3. Fried small round balls made with [(equal measures of soaked bengal gram dal+red gram dal+black gram dal) + salt+ red chilies] can also be added to the stew.
  4. 1/4 tsp of coriander seeds can be included in the ingredients for grinding into a paste.
  5. 1/4 tsp of Thymol or carom seeds / Ajwain may be added while seasoning, if one likes the taste.
Lady’s finger Buttermilk Stew




Up, Up Uppuma! Indian chef, Floyd Cardoz wins $100,000 prize in New York – made news in the year 2011.

In the final round of the Top Chef Masters contest in Los Angeles, contestants were asked to prepare a dish based on personal food memories.

Cardoz whipped up an Uppuma of semolina and mushroom to beat two other favourites and win the top prize. The unpretentious, humble Uppuma shot into international culinary limelight, in New York. Cardoz named his prize-winning version ‘Wild Mushroom Uppuma Polenta with Kokum & Coconut Milk’.

Heartening  to see the world sit up and take notice of how a simple dish, not even on the menu of most gourmet restaurants in India, could prove to be a jackpot winner.

A popular South Indian traditional breakfast or a ‘tiffin’ staple, name it semolina pudding, or an Indian version of the Italian polenta.
In Tamil the word uppuma means [uppu (salt) + maavu (flour)], hence uppuma(vu). Down to earth in origin and utterly plebeian; something ‘Maamis’ crank out as fast food, there’s nothing uppity about Uppuma, except maybe win some lucky bloke the Top Chef Master title along with a mere $ 100,000!
Vegetable Uppuma with  pickle and buttermilk
Prep time : 15 mins; Cooking time : 30 mins; Serves : 4
Ingredients :
  • 2 cups of Semolina | Rava
  • 4 – 4 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 onion (optional)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 cup of finely chopped assorted vegetables like carrots, peas, cauliflower, potatoes or any vegetable of choice
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp black gram lentil | udad dal
  • 1 – 2 red chilies whole or broken into halves
  • 1 – 3 green chilies
  • 1 inch ginger finely chopped or grated
  • 9 – 10 Cashewnuts
  • a few curry leaves
  • a pinch of asafoetida (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tsp ghee (skip for Vegan version)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil | sesame oil | cooking oil of choice
Semolina Vegetable Uppuma  Polenta

Method :

  1. Roast the Rava in a bandli | wok till aromatic and lightly golden brown in colour.
  2. Chop all the onions, tomatoes and other vegetables finely. Cut the green chilies into thin long strips. Grate the ginger. Keep them ready.
  3. Heat oil and ghee in the frying pan. Season with mustard, black gram lentils, cashew nuts, broken red chilies, asafoetida, ginger, green chilies, curry leaves, onions, scald and then add the tomatoes and other chopped vegetables. Scald some more and then add the measured amount of water. Now add the required amount of salt for the uppuma into the water.
  4. When the water boils vigorously, check whether the vegetables have cooked then fold in the roasted Rava and keep stirring continuously to prevent lumps. Cook till the rava is done. Switch off heat. Close with a lid for 5 – 10 mins.
  5. Serve hot with coconut chutneysambar, buttermilk, pickles or even sugar!

Variations :

1. For Gluten free version use broken rice rava or millets like Kuthiravaali | Barnyard Millet , Thinai | Fox-tail Millet , Varagu | Kodo Millet and Samai | Little Millet, instead of Rava and proceed with the above method to make rice or millet uppuma. If the millets seem uncooked then add upto 1/2 to 1 cup more water and cook till well done.

2.Broken wheat can be used instead of Rava and the above method followed to make Broken Wheat uppuma.

3. Vermicelli can be used instead of Rava to make Vermicelli or Semiya uppuma.
4. Basic Uppuma can be made without any vegetables and had along with mixed vegetable Sambar for making it a complete meal.
5.  At the end, one can blend in the juice of a lemon (Vegan version) or 1/2 cup buttermilk to the uppuma.
Rava Upma