Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

January 14, 2014

Thanks to all of the readers for their interest and support over the last seven years since I first started this blog. Wishing you all a very healthy, happy and prosperous New Year! And A Happy Makar Sankranti!

Makar Sankranti holds a very special meaning to me. This year in particular I remember our India trip of five years ago during Makar Sankranti. Please see my earlier entries posted on January 14, 2008 and January 14, 2012. I would like to welcome 2014 with the following pictures depicting my favorite fruit anar and sesame candy.

Happy New Year!

Happy Makar Sankranti!


Happy Deepavali!

November 1, 2013

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous Deepavali (Diwali)!

Happy Deepavali! (2) Shubh Deepavali!


November 26, 2012

Coriander (hara dhania) is one of the herbs used in practically every savory dish in India. Being an avid gardener, I started growing it indoors over three decades ago but it didn’t do well. Today, thanks to my tiny backyard garden, it not only gives me immense pleasure but also feeds all five senses regardless of the challenges I face living with SCI. Coriander and many green leafy vegetables do well during autumn or in spring to early summer until it starts setting seeds. See my earlier posts of August 19, 2010, March 31 and Sept 25, 2012.

With winter approaching, I dread the physical hardship of the cold season with SCI challenges. With shorter daylight and the feeling of being cooped indoors, the company of full of life plant feeds all my senses. With a little bit of effort, though, I can preserve some of the greenery by bringing plants indoors. Below I have displayed one of the coriander pictures that did particularly well in my garden this fall.

Happy Diwali (Deepavali)!

November 12, 2012

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous Deepavali!

Quinoa Halwa

June 10, 2012

1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 tablespoon ghee
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom
1 cup milk or water
1/3 cup granulated sugar or to taste
1/8 cup chopped dried apricots
1/8 cup chopped dried cranberries

1) Soak quinoa in a bowl for about 15 minutes (preferably overnight). Wash it thoroughly using a fine mesh sieve under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
2) To prepare this halwa simply follow steps #1 to #2 given for Amaranth Halwa posted on January 14, 2011 on Nani’s Indian Cooking blog.
3) Heat ghee in a 2-quart saucepan (preferably nonstick) over moderate heat. Add quinoa, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes fragrant. Add more ghee if needed. Reduce the heat as low as possible and gradually add milk, while stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pan. (The easiest way to cook this halwa is to simply combine all the ingredients except sugar, apricots and cranberries).
4) Reduce the heat; cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring frequently, until quinoa is tender, approximately 20-25 minutes. Add the last three ingredients to quinoa and stir constantly until sugar has completely dissolved. (At this point I prefer using a handful of nuts – almonds or pistachios and additional ground cardamom).
5) Cover and let stand for at least 10 minutes undisturbed. Using the tines of a fork fluff the quinoa before serving and garnish if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Savory Chickpea Cake (Dhokla)

November 22, 2009

Savory chickpea cake (dhokla) is a gluten free snack, made primarily with pureed hulled split brown chickpeas (chana dal), plain yogurt, herbs and seasonings. It is simply an Indian version of corn bread and can be made in a variety of ways. There isn’t a time when this versatile dish wouldn’t be a welcome addition served as a snack or side dish at a sit down dinner. This recipe originated in the western state of Gujarat, India.

Pureed chickpea mixture is a multi-purpose basic batter often used to make a variety of dishes in the Indian kitchen by pan-frying, deep-frying, baking, fermenting and steaming. If you like the batter this may easily be prepared with chickpea flour (besan or gram flour not graham flour), rice, corn flour, and sooji or cream of wheat. Chickpeas are one of the staples in my pantry and a particular favorite of mine during the winter.

1 cup hulled split chickpeas, soaked, drained
1/8 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice or citric acid
1 serrano chili, chopped – optional
1/8 cup chopped coriander leaves
Mustard-infused oil – optional

1) To prepare the chickpea batter simply follow the same steps (#1 and #2) to make the batter as given for Dahi Vada recipe posted on August 18, 2008 on Nani’s Indian Cooking Blog.
2) Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl and add about a generous pinch of salt, baking soda and turmeric. (At this point I like to add 1 teaspoon grated ginger and a generous pinch of cayenne pepper). Stir to mix and cover. Set aside in a draft free place (preferably in the oven with off setting) and leave undisturbed at least 8 hours or overnight to ferment.
3) When ready to steam add 4 cups of water to a large 4-inch deep saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring water to a simmer over medium heat and place steamer rack in the saucepan. Lightly grease a 9-inch round baking pan and set aside.
4) Just before steaming the cake stir in oil and salt to fermented batter. Stir in lemon juice and a generous pinch of baking soda and whisk to mix thoroughly just before ready to steam. At this point, the batter should look quite frothy.
5) Pour the batter into greased baking pan. Carefully place the pan on top of steamer rack. Cover and increase the heat to high and let it steam until firm to the touch approximately 12 to 16 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean. Turn the heat off and let it rest for approximately 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving plate and score into desired shapes. Set aside.
6) Heat oil in a skillet and immediately add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds. Partially cover the pan with a lid and as soon as mustard seeds start sputtering add 1 teaspoon sesame seeds and immediately remove from the heat. Add the cut steamed chickpea pieces and stir to mix. Add the garnishes as needed.

Yield: 4 to 8 servings.

Rice Pudding (Kheer)

October 15, 2009


As we are celebrating “The Festival of Lights” known as Diwali (short for Deepavali), I fondly remember the details associated with the celebration that lasted for five days as I was growing up in the tiny village of Berinag in the state of Uttrakhand (previously part of Uttar Pradesh) in India.  My recent trip to Berinag brought back the fondest memory of the special time spent with my family almost five decades ago.  I vividly remember my mother making kheer for us kids.  Actually it was made specifically during this time of the year as to welcome the festive season of Diwali as autumn begins (generally it falls during the months of October or November according to the lunar calendar) and starting of the new harvest season in the villages.

Kheer or creamy rice pudding is one of the subtly flavored festive desserts often prepared to celebrate religious ceremonies in my nani’s kitchen.

8 cups whole milk
3/4 cup medium grain rice
6 green cardamom pods, roughly crushed
2 one-inch-piece cinnamon sticks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup blanched powdered almonds
Blanched almonds for garnishing

1) In a 3-quart non-stick saucepan bring 6 cups of milk to a boil. Add rice to the boiling milk. Add cardamom, cinnamon sticks and saffron threads if desired.
2) Reduce the heat; cook uncovered over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until rice is tender. Add sugar and almonds (refined nut flour) to rice and stir constantly until sugar has completely dissolved. Continue to cook until rice is soft and the texture is quite creamy. Add more milk to achieve the desired creamy consistency of rice pudding (kheer). It has to be stirred frequently if you are not using non-stick saucepan.
3) Remove from heat. It takes about 45 to 55 minutes to cook the pudding. The rice pudding will thicken as it sets. You may need to add more milk to achieve the right consistency of the pudding. Before serving the pudding remove the whole cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Refrigerate at least 4 to 5 hours. Garnish individual bowl of pudding as desired. This can be served warm or chilled.

Yield: 8-10 servings.