Royyalu Iguru (Prawn Curry/ Shrimp Curry)

Makes 4 servings

Prawns, head removed: 1/2 lb (20 prawns)
Onions: 2
Garam Masala: 2 tsp
Red Chili Powder: 2.5 tsp
Green Chilies: 4
Ginger Garlic Paste: 2 tbsp
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Olive Oil: 2 tsp


Royyalu Egarapettadamu: This is a way the prawns are marinated while being cooked in their juice. To marinate, place the shelled, de-veined, cleaned prawns in a skillet. Add salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp red chili powder, 1/2 tsp olive oil and 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste. Cook on a low flame till the prawns curl up and absorb all the liquid.

To make the curry:
To the same skillet, remove prawns, keep aside; and add the remaining olive oil.
Add the onions, green chilies. Saute till the onions turn golden brown.
Add 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, saute for 3 minutes.
Add salt, red chili powder, garam masala. Mix well.
Add the marinated prawns. Add 1 cup water.
Lower flame and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve hot with rice, biryani or roti.

Note: Chopped cilantro makes a great garnish for this dish.


Muruku or Murukulu: Easy to make snacks; easy to store and easier to munch on!
Makes approx 12 x 12 x 4 box full:
Urad dal: 1 cup, dry roasted and powdered
Rice flour: 4 cups
Salt: 1.5 tsp
Red Chili powder: 1.5 tsp
Cumin seeds: 2 tbsp (zeera, jillakarra)
Carom seeds: 2 tsp (ajwain, vaamu)
Sesame seeds: 4 tbsp (optional)
Ghee: 1 tbsp
Add all the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
Add enough water to make a thick dough.
Fill into muruku maker and press out into hot oil.
Deep fry on a low flame till it turns a beautiful brown color.
Drain and layer on an absorbent (paper) kitchen towel.
Cool and store in an air tight container.
Note: I made them in large circles and broke them up to smaller pieces, much faster this way!



Sunnunda... If you aren't from Andhra, you might not know what I am talking about. Sunnundalu are one of the most-made all-purpose, storage-friendly sweets made in South India. Just one week away from the Christmas break, I know I need to stock up on comfort food, and having just made fresh ghee, it seemed obvious that the urad dal ladoo's are the easiest things to make.

Makes 65 medium sized sunnundalu:
Urad dal: 4 cups (minapappu)
Ghee: 1 cup
Powdered sugar: 5 cups

Layer the urad dal on a cookie sheet and bake at 300F for 20 minutes, mixing occasionally. If you cannot use an oven, dry roast the dal in a large skillet till the dal turns brown.... it smells wonderful at this point.
Let the urad dal cool. Grind dal to fine powder.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the 1 cup urad dal powder, 1.25 cups powdered sugar and heated ghee.
Shape into round balls. Store in an air tight box.

Tips: The longer you take to make each sunnunda, the smoother it is, and the firmer it is. (Won't crack or become powdery.)
Use more hot ghee if it becomes difficult to shape. Once the ghee cools, it is difficult to mould.
Powdered sugar can be replaced by an equal portion of grated bellam or gur or molasses.


Royyalu Biryani (Prawns Biryani/Shrimp Biryani)

Cooking prawns the Hyderabadi style.... a simple recipe for the royyalu biryani, not as famed asa the Hyderabadi "Paradise" Chicken Biryani. If you aren't from Hyderabad, you probably are wondering what I am talking about. Paradise is an almost road-side joint in Secb'd that is renowned for its chicken biryani. This recipe though, is not a "restauranty" recipe. It is a recipe built from the basics taught to me by my mother. Absolutely no one makes prawns like my mom!!!!!

Headless Prawns: 1/2 lb, about 20 prawns
Onions: 2 medium, chopped
Green Chilies: 6
Tomatoes: 2, medium, chopped
Ginger-garlic paste: 2 tbsp (preferably made fresh)
Garam masala: 1 tbsp
Cinnamon: 2 small pieces (dalchini, chekka)
Cloves: 4 (lavanga)
Cardamom: 3 (Elaichi)
Bay leaves: 2 halves (tej pattha)
Mint leaves: 1 bunch, cleaned, chopped (pudina)
Cilantro: half a bunch, chopped (kothmere)
Basmati Rice: 2 cups, boiled, drained
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Red Chili powder: 2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Shah zeera: 1 tbsp
Cumin: 1 tbsp
Olive Oil: 3 to 4 tsp


Royyalu Egarapettadam: This is the first step to making prawns. Shell and de-vein the prawns. Place in a pan with 1.5 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, salt, turmeric, red chili powder and 1/2 tsp oil.
Let sit on a low flame, mixing minimally till the water that oozes out from the prawns is absorbed back.

To another large pan, add the remaining oil. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, shah zeera and cumin seeds to the oil. Saute for one minute.
Add the chopped mint leaves and the chopped cilantro. Saute for 2 minutes.
Add the chopped onions and green chilies. Saute till the onions are light brown. Add 1/2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste and saute for another 3 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and salt.
Simultaneously, boil rice in lots of water with 2 tsp salt added till well done. Drain. Cool.
Add the prepared prawns and the garam masala. Let cook on a small flame for 10 minutes.
Add the rice. Mix well.
Serve hot and enjoy!!!

Neyyi (Ghee)

Making ghee, I guess, is one of the few things I cook that makes me home-sick. It brings forth the realization that I no longer am the carefree kid sitting in the kitchen eating tasty bites of food, fresh as they were prepared, but am now in the unenviable position of the responsible adult. Well, nostalgia aside, making ghee is one ritual I love and enjoy. It brings warm memories of being in India. When I first moved to California, the only ghee we bought came off Amul tins and the only time I ever used ghee was for making prasadams.

Since I discovered the ease with which I can make ghee at home, it has become an integral part of my cooking. I cannot wholeheartedly say that it is the healthiest diet possible, but I know for sure that "moderation is better than abstinence"!

Nutritional Information:*
(As obtained from CalorieKing)
Per tsp of ghee:
Calories: 45
Calories from Fat: 45
Total Fat: 5 g (8% of DV)
Saturated Fat: 3 g (15% of DV)
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 8 mg (3% of DV)
Sodium: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0 g
Sugars: 0 g
Proteins: 0 g

Making ghee:
What you need: Unsalted butter and a large heavy bottomed vessel.

Unsalted or sweet cream butter is available in most grocery stores. Two one pound bars of ghee make about 600 g of ghee.

To make ghee, place the unsalted butter in the pan and heat on a low flame for 10 minutes. Then lower the flame and heat for another 30 minutes to one hour till the lower layer turns clear.

Filter the white layer that forms on the top out and store the lower clear liquid ghee in an air tight glass or metal container.

Things to remember:
Make sure that the container is not moist at all. Ghee is best stored at room temperature. Presence of any moisture will result in fungus forming in the ghee. Formation of fungus can be identified by the appearance of thin black filaments.

Another thing to remember is that ghee needs to be made at a very low flame. If you make the ghee on a high flame it will result in the ghee turning dark brown. This liquid does not have the taste or flavor of ghee.

I have never tried this out, but I remember reading that you can use cinnamon, cardamom or pepper to flavor ghee if you use it mostly for biryani's and gravies.

*Percent daily value are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Please note that Ghee is 100% Fat!!!


Baked Pomfret (Chanduva) Iguru

Pomfret is one of the few Indian fish available in US easily. What I like about pomfret (called chanduva or sanduva in Telugu) : fewer spines, makes for less messy eating, can be baked whole, and takes on flavor very quickly. We had some really awesome pomfret curry in a Malaysian restaurant called Banana Leaf last New Year's eve, and it was soooo heavenly, I was hoping to find something to match the taste. One year later, after trying out 3 or 4 recipes from the net, I had come to the conclusion that the curry from Banana Leaf must be a closely guarded secret. Having come to that conclusion, I did not see any reason why I shouldn't make my own Andhra version of the curry. Never did I realise that I had the taste right on my fingertips!!!! When something like this happens, its time to stop and put it down here real quick before I forget how "it" happened!

Things I gave importance to:
Everything I used for the gravy was freshly made. I think this is a very important part of this recipe.
I bought small pomfrets, makes for better flavor, lesser mercury levels and more portion control.

Nutritional Information:*

I could not find documented nutritional information on pomfret, so I have calculated the below based on a member of the same species, called butterfish.

Based on 1/8th recipe or 146 g:

Calories: 174
Calories from Fat: 79
Total Fat: 8.8 g (14% of DV)
Saturated Fat: 3.5 g (17% of DV)
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 65 mg (22% of DV)
Sodium: 387 mg (16% of DV)
Total Carbohydrates: 5 g (2% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 1 g (4% of DV)
Sugars: 1 g
Proteins: 18 g

Vitamin A: 9 % of DV
Vitamin C: 55 % of DV
Calcium: 4 % of DV
Iron: 6 % of DV

(Makes 8 servings)

Small Silver Pomfret: 2 (Each weighing about 400 g)
Ginger, fresh: 4 inch piece, peeled
Garlic: 12 cloves, peel removed
Long Green Chilies: 2
Tomato: 1, medium
Garam masala: 2 tsp
Red Chili Powder: 1 to 2 tsp
Lime juice: from one lime
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp

Cleaning the pomfret: Do not slice the pomfret to small pieces. Ask your fish monger to remove the eyes, gills, insides and fins. Do not try to remove scales. This fish has no scales!

Make 2 cuts each on both sides of the pomfret, taking care not to make it too deep. This will help marinate the fish better.

Puree the ginger, garlic, green chilies, garam masala, red chili powder, lime juice and tomato to a fine paste.

Place the fish flat on a shallow baking dish and spread salt and above paste liberally. Place some of the paste inside the cavity also.

Cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Cover and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 7 to 10 minutes.

Serve hot with rice.

*Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of Caloric Information:
Carbohydrates: 11% Fats: 45% Proteins: 44%

Things to notice: Chandua or Silver Pomfret is a great fish to consume: notice that this type of fish is very high in monounsaturated fat and is low in polyunsaturated fat, which is really good news for all of us trying to reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in our diet.

Advice from my mother: Never buy the black pomfret, it does not have the flavor that a silver pomfret has.


Does "Freezer Burn" Make Food Unsafe??

Health Tips given by Longs Drugs:

"Freezer burn is a food quality issue, not a food safety issue. It appears as grayish-brown leathery spots on frozen food. It occurs when air reaches the food's surface and dries out the product. This can happen when food is not securely wrapped in air-tight packaging. Color changes result from chemical changes to the food's pigment.

Although undesirable, freezer burn does not make the food unsafe. It merely causes dry spots in foods. You can cut away these areas either before or after cooking the food. When freezing food in plastic bags, you can help prevent freezer burn by pushing all the air out before sealing."

More information about freezer burn and how to freeze foods to avoid freezer burn can be found at:
The last link has a lot of very informative practical tips to prevent freezer burn.


Mushroom Ajwain Stir Fry

This is such an easy and tasty recipe, (so tasty that my hubby ate it all up before I could photograph it!) that I just wanted to jot it down really quick before I forgot how I made it....

What is good about this recipe? Ajwain or vaamu or carom seeds are said to be very good for the digestive system. Apparently, ajwain and kala namak balls are consumed as churan or a digestive aid in many places in India. Ajwain is generally added to most foods made with besan (pakodis) to increase digestability.

Mushrooms on the other hand have been in the news a lot recently. Mushrooms have been found to contain nutrients which strengthen the immune system and also fight cancer. Though shiitake mushrooms are said to be the most nutritious, white button mushrooms are also good additions to your diet. To read more about the latest information on mushroom health, check this out

Nutritional Information:*
Per serving of 1/2 of recipe or 189 gm:
Calories: 35
Calories from Fat: 4
Total Fat: 1 g (1% of DV)
Saturated Fat: 0 g (1% of DV)
Trans Fat: 0 mg
Sodium: 596 mg (25% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 6 g (2% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 3 g (11% of DV)
Sugars: 0 g
Proteins: 4 g

Vitamin A: 2 % of DV
Vitamin C: 2 % of DV
Calcium: 4 % of DV
Iron: 15 % of DV

(Makes 2 servings)
Mushrooms: 8 oz (white, button)
Olive Oil: 1 tsp
Ajwain: 4 tsp (ground coarsely) (vaamu, carom)
Red Chili powder: 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Curry Leaves: one sprig


Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the curry leaves.
Saute for a minute.
Add the mushrooms cut into quarters, saute for 5 to 7 minutes till the mushrooms look well done. They will turn dark brown.
Add salt to taste, red chili powder and ajwain ground coarsely.
Serve hot with roti.

*Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.
Nutritional information for this recipe has been calculated based on minimum oil required to stir fry the mushrooms.

Breakdown of caloric information:
Carbohydrates: 56% Fats: 12% Proteins: 32%


Pepper Chicken

Waking up with bouts of sneezing for the nth time this winter, my red-nosed husband asked me to make pepper chicken for him. Pepper chicken brings back wonderful memories of my mother making pepper chicken and chapathi's for us.... Hope you enjoy this as much as Mo and me did!

Nutritional Information: *
Per serving or 1/8th of recipe (54 grams)

Calories: 86
Calories from Fat: 49
Total Fat: 6 g (8% of DV)
Saturated Fat: 1 g (4% of DV)
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 8 mg (3% of DV)
Sodium: 594 mg (25% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 6 g (2% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 2 g (7% of DV)
Sugars: 1 g
Proteins: 4 g

Vitamin A: 0 % of DV
Vitamin C: 6 % of DV
Calcium: 3 % of DV
Iron: 9 % of DV

Chicken breasts: 2 lbs (about 1 kg)
Pepper, whole: 4 tbsp (adjust according to taste)
Ginger Garlic paste: 3 tsp (Try to make it fresh)
Salt: about 2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Garam Masala: 2 tsp
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Ajwain seeds: 1 tbsp (carom seeds, vaamu)
Onions: 2, chopped
Curry Leaves: 2 sprigs
Olive oil: 3 tbsp
Lemon juice: 2 tbsp

Remove the skin and fat from the chicken breast.

Cut the chicken into smaller pieces, boneless pieces should be around 2 inches thick.

Marinate the chicken with salt, 2 tsp ginger garlic paste (smooth paste), turmeric, lemon juice garam masala and 2 tbsp freshly ground pepper for at least 30 minutes.

To a large saucepan, add the oil, the curry leaves and the onions. Saute till the onions turn golden brown. Add salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper and roughly ground ajwain seeds to the onions. Add the remaining ginger garlic paste. Saute for a few minutes.

Add the marinated chicken. Cook on a high flame for 5 minutes. Lower the flame and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes. Add the remaining freshly ground pepper. Cook for additional 5 minutes.

Serve hot with rice or chapathi.

Tips: Use a mortar pestle to grind the ajwain and the pepper corns... its very fast, and gives smooth but not too smooth powders.

*Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary with individual requirements

Breakdown of caloric information:
Carbohydrates: 25% Fats: 57% Proteins: 18%

High Protein Milk?? Milk from Genetically Modified Cows

I wrote this article for my course in cell and molecular biology, and thought it opened up highly controversial points of view...

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is one which has an altered genetic makeup. This change is usually produced by the addition of various genes containing information for important traits.

Organism: Cow

How cows are modified: GM cows contain two additional genes for two different proteins, beta and kappa casein. Additional casein genes were first added to the cow skin cells. The nucleus of the skin cells was then fused with cow eggs and the resulting cloned embryos were implanted in the cows.

Purpose: The milk produced by these cows has up to 20% more beta casein and has double the amount of kappa casein as the milk produced by a normal cow.

Benefits: Casein in the most important component of cheese. Milk from GM cows produces more cheese or yogurt for the same volume of milk. Hence, it is supported by cheese makers. Also, farmers are paid based on the casein content of milk, and so use of GM cows is also supported by farmers. Dairy cattle breeders also support the use of genetically modified cows. Other advocates for GM cows are dairy manufacturers for the ice cream industry as increased casein content makes ice cream creamier.

Disadvantages: A major concern regarding the use of GM is that it may cause resistance to broad spectrum antibiotics. This is because many of the plasmids used to carry genetic information also carry genes for antibiotic resistance. This raises questions about the transmission of antibiotic resistance to consumers. Genetic Modification has raised many questions about bio-ethics. Many opponents of GM claim that genetic modification will result in “genetic pollution”: Once a GM organism is introduced into the environment, it cannot be recalled. Also, a genetically modified organism can breed with non-genetically modified organisms causing a contamination of organisms occurring naturally. Also, due to the recent inception of recombinant technology, the long term effects of using these organisms have not been verified. The use of GM cows has also raised targeted questions about the possible abuse of animals. Higher demand on high protein milk, they claim, will result in further exploitation of cows.

Opposed by: Many environmentalists believe that the introduction of genetically modified organisms causes “genetic contamination” (Greenpeace Organization) Many religious people/ theological societies oppose the use of genetically modified organisms claiming it is against the will of God. Many animal welfare groups also oppose GM claiming it poses a threat to animal health.

Some things I want to add:
It is not mandatory for manufacturers to label food as Genetically Modified. The "Organic" label only means that no chemicals or artificial hormones were used, not that the genes were not altered.

I am amazed at the absolute lack of mercy from the huge bio-tech firms holding patents over the heads of poor farmers. Indian farmers are at the bottom of the economic ladder. Using science to bury them deeper into poverty is unconscionable. Why am I saying this? Huge bio-tech firms genetically modify seeds to make them more nutritious and to increase yields. Now what can be bad about that? Well, in order to continue making money from their "projects", they patent the seeds, and then they make the seeds sterile. This means that farmers cannot use the GM plant seeds to grow new plants. They have to pay huge amounts to purchase seeds each year. The larger yield results in the lower price of the crop. Farmers are paying more and earning less. Most of us from India would have read about farmers committing suicide in the newspapers. Now, we read about whole entire villages being placed for sale by farmers. Don't believe me? Read the following articles:


Ginger Garlic Rasam

I really didn't know what to call this recipe. Speaking honestly, it really is nothing other than chaaru. But its not the regular chaaru or rasam that I have always made. I tasted this at my friends place, and this was so different and flavorful that I really wanted to post it here. The best thing about this recipe is that it incorporates ginger also, which as I mentioned earlier, is reputed to be a great anti inflammatory agent, making this a wonderful thing to have when you are down with a cold! Like all other rasams, this makes a great soup.

Nutritional Information: *
Per half cup of rasam:
Calories: 31
Calories from Fat: 21
Total Fat: 2 g (4% of DV)
Saturated fat: 0 mg
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.7 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.3 g
Trans fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 585 mg (24% of DV)
Total Carbohydrates: 3 g (1% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 1 g (2% of DV)
Sugars: 0 g
Proteins: 1 g

Vitamin A: 6% of DV
Vitamin C: 6 % of DV
Calcium: 1% of DV
Iron: 2% of DV

Ingredients: (Makes 4 cups)
Olive oil: 4tsp
Fenugreek seeds: 1/2 tsp (menthulu, methi seeds)
Chana dal: 1/2 tsp (Gram dal, yellow lentil)
Urad dal: 1/2 tsp (minapappu)
Red Chilies: 3
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp (aawalu, rai)
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp (zeera, jillakarra)
Water: 4 cups
Tomatoes: 2, medium, chopped
Tamarind: 2 inches
Curry leaves: 2 sprigs
Cilantro: 1/2 cup, chopped
Ginger: 2 inch pieces, skin removed
garlic: 4 cloves
Asafoetida: 1/4 tsp (hing, ingua)
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Salt: 2 tsp (adjust to taste)
Chili powder: 1/2 tsp (adjust to taste)
Rasam powder: 1.5 tsp


Add 4 tsp olive oil to a stock pot. Let it warm and add the chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, cumin, fenugreek seeds, finely crushed ginger and garlic, curry leaves, asafoetida, turmeric, red chilies and cilantro.

Saute till the raw smell of ginger and garlic disappears. The tadka (popu) will smell heavenly at this point.

Add the water.
Microwave tomatoes on high for 3 to 4 minutes and add to the water.

Add a little water to the tamarind. Microwave for 30 seconds. Let cool and squeeze out the pulp. Add to the water.

Add about 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp red chili powder. Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes.

Add the rasam powder and let boil for another 5 to 7 minutes.

Serve hot as soup or as an accompaniment with rice.

*Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of Calorific Information:
Carbohydrates: 29% Fats: 67% Proteins: 4%

Antibiotics and Intestinal Health

I am sure all of us have, at some point in our lives, rubbed shoulders with antibiotics. Some important things you should know about antibiotics:

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, they don't help treat viral infections. In fact they lower immunity and reduce a persons ability to fight a viral infection and so should never be taken without the knowledge of your health care provider.

Antibiotics should always be taken till the course is complete. Most of the times, you may experience a relief of symptoms after completing part of the course. This is not an indication to discontinue the medication. Stopping the course midway may result in development of antibiotic resistance by your body which will culminate in a requirement of stronger antibiotics to fight future infections.

If you have never taken a particular antibiotic before, be careful to note any symptoms of allergies you may develop. Different antibiotics cause different side effects. Two of the most common side effects are mentioned below. If you develop these symptoms, discontinue the medication and contact your health care provider asap:

Hives, itching, rashes, redness, swelling or a burning sensation of the skin (Anaphylaxis)
Diarrhoea and cramps: bloody diarrhoea (Pseudomembranous colitis)

A very useful link to Mercks manual: Information about antibiotic side effects and resistance.

What do you do if you develop gastrointestinal irritation or, simply put, diarrhoea and cramps? The first thing to do is to discontinue the medication and let your physician know.
Do not take any medicines for the diarrhoea or the cramps. Do not take any analgesics (pain medication). These may increase the symptoms.

Start off on a course of probiotics. These are capsules/tablets available in many health food stores. They contain helpful bacteria which will colonize your intestines and bring them back to normal very quickly. Probiotics are available in Trader Joe's for $5.99 per a box of 30, available in tablet form combined with acidophilus.

You can also get immediate relief by including as much Kefir or yogurt with live cultures in your diet as possible. Kefir is a good choice because, like probiotics, it contains live cultures which will colonize the intestines. Kefir is available in Whole Foods, price ranging from $2.99 to $3.29 per bottle, available in many flavors. It is also available at most Safeway stores and Albertsons for approximately $4.59 per bottle. If you are unable to find kefir, yogurt is still a very good alternative.

The best course of action if you are on antibiotics is to include probiotics, either in tablet form or from yogurt and kefir, in your diet. This will help avoid the potential complications of gastrointestinal irritation.

Another important thing to remember while you are on antibiotics is that Vitamin B12 absorption by your body is impaired. This is because the helpful bacteria which synthesize "intrinsic factor" necessary for absorption of Vitamin B12 are also killed. To avoid deficiency symptoms, combine consumption of probiotics with Vitamin supplements during antibiotic therapy.



Am trying to think of the perfect senaga pappu chekkalu that will not be toooo unhealthy :) We bought some a couple of weeks back, and since then have been craving for some home-made action! So, looked up the recipes from amma and attha for ideas, and merged them with ideas from the ingredient list on the bag, and lets see how it goes from there! Thanks Dr Armstrong! Didnt know retrosynthesis would come in this handy!!! Will keep you posted step by step on this one!

Rice Flour: 4 cups
Ginger: 4 inch piece
Green Chilies: 10
Chana dal: 3/4 cup (Senagapappu)
Boiled potato: 2 medium (I used russet)
Besan: 1/2 cup (senagapindi/ Gram flour)
Peanuts: Roasted: halved: 1/2 cup
Peanuts: Roasted: powdered: 1/2 cup
Curry Leaves: 6 to 8 sprigs, leaves torn to small pieces
Dried coconut powder: 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tbsp, crushed
Ajwain: 1 tsp, crushed (vaamu, carom seeds)
Ghee or butter: 1 tsp
Hot water: to make thick dough
Salt: 2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Chili powder: 2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Olive oil: Enough to fry in


Soak the chana dal in water for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

In a small saucepan, without adding any oil, on a low flame, saute 1 cup peanuts till creamish or light brown.Grind half the peanuts to powder, preferably fine.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the following ingredients: 4 cups rice flour, 1/2 cup gram flour (dont add more, it will make the chekkalu soft!), salt and chili powder.

In a microwave safe bowl, add 2 peeled chopped potatoes. Cover with water till the potatoes are completely submerged. Microwave on high for 5 to 6 minutes (may var based on individual microwave). The potatoes should be completely mashable. Reserve the hot water for mixing the dough.

Grind the green chilies and ginger with a small amount of water till a soft paste.

Crush the cumin seeds and ajwain seeds lightly. Also break the peanuts to smaller pieces.

Add crushed cumin, ajwain seeds, coconut powder, 1 tsp ghee, mashed potatoes, peanuts, ghee, torn curry leaves and soaked chana dal to the flour mix. Add the hot water and knead well to form a thick dough (like puri dough)

Layer an aluminium foil on the countertop. Lubricate the foil with a few drops of oil. Have some oil handy for lubricating the foil again if need arises. Use a rolling pin if necessary, but ideally try to made small flat rounds of about 2.5 inch diameter with the tips of your fingers. Make sure the centers are thin too!Deep fry in heated oil on a low flame till the chekkalu are brown.Store in an air tight box to enjoy!!!!!

This recipe made about 100 chekkalu. Just ate a bunch of them, and they taste pretty good! I think the chili garlic paste and the peanut powder made a big difference to the taste.

If peanuts are not crushed to small pieces, it will make rolling out the chekkalu hasslesome.
If you prefer crispier chekkalu, reduce the amount of besan further.
Do not let the dough sit for more than 2 to 3 hours, it will make the chekkalu absorb more oil, and will also result in softer chekkalu.

As it is difficult to determine the nutritional informtion of chekkalu, I will try and get the nutritional information off a store bought version and publish it here as soon as possible.


Indian Spices

I am forever amazed when I read about recent studies stating the numerous health benefits of spices commonly used in Indian cooking. I wonder what made our ancestors know these spices were really good for us?

Some interesting things I read in regarding common spices used in Indian cooking:

Dalchini (or dalchin chekka or cinnamon sticks) and lavanga (or cloves):

"Two related studies have shown that cinnamon and cloves can reduce the risk factors for diabetes and heart disease up to 30%" (Times, December 04th, 2006)

One study performed by the Beltsville Human Research Center, Maryland stated that consumption of 1g, 2 or 6g of cinnamon caused a reduction in blood glucose levels, LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and also total cholesterol levels in people suffering from Type 2 diabetes without affecting the levels of HDL (good cholesterol).
Link to the abstract
Link to another study by the same group about similar benefits in cloves


Each time I complained of a cold, my mother used to tell me, "have some hot ginger tea!" Imagine my surprise when I came across an article which lead me to numerous studies correlating ginger powder and inflammation! Ginger powder has been suggested to be an effective agent useful in reducing symptoms of nausea (pregnancy related, post-operative, motion sickness, chemotherapeutic) and inflammation (example: arthritis).
Link to a paper presented in a journal about ginger
Link to abstract


Washing your Veggies

Winter's here!!!! Well, wanted to post some very important information about washing vegetables with hot water (I know how tempting that sounds in this cold weather!)
Well, there are two things to consider while washing vegetables with hot water:

The first thing to remember is that Vitamins B and C dissolve in water, so on prolonged washing of vegetables with water, or even washing for short periods with hot water may effectively remove the vitamins. This is important especially for green leafy vegetables.

The second very important thing to consider is plumbing. Yes, you read that right! Plumbing. Older pipes contain lead in them. Lead has a very unique property. It is insoluble in cold water but dissolves in hot water. Lead is a carcinogen and is extremely toxic. So, each time you wash your vegetables, or for that matter, use hot water from the faucet to cook, remember, there is a strong possibility that you have some lead in there!!!!! If you are one of the lucky few who has new lead free plumbing, you can definitely use hot water from the faucet to cook, but remember, vitamins still dissolve better in hot water than cold!

Some interesting reads:
Lead poisoning and plumbing info sheet
Drinking water and Lead


Singapore Fried Rice

Have not made this in a long time, but I know Sheetal and Sonu are waiting for this information, so here goes:

Makes 4 servings
Boiled Rice: 1 cup
Carrots: 2 big or 3 small, finely diced
Spring onions: leaves and stem: 10, chopped
Beans: 10 thinly sliced
Onion: 1, chopped
Ginger-garlic paste: 1/4 tsp
Tomato sauce: 1 tbsp (add more if you want to make it less spicy)
Chili sauce: 1 tsp
Soy sauce: 5 drops
Vinegar: 1 tsp
Sugar: 1/4 tsp
Green chilies: 4 to 5
Pepper: 1/2 tsp

To 2 to 3 tsp oil, add onions. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add beans, carrots. Saute uncovered for 2 minutes.
Add green chilies, pepper, salt, ginger garlic paste. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add boiled rice, salt to taste, sugar, chili sauce, tomato sauce, soy sauce.
Add vinegar. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve hot garnished with spring onions.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving or 127 gms
Calories: 152
Calories from Fat: 62
Total Fat: 7 g (11% of DV)
Saturated fat: 1 g (5% of DV)
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 628mg (26% of DV)
Total Carbohydrate: 21 g (7% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 1 g (5% of DV)
Sugars: 4 g
Proteins: 1 g

Vitamin A: 9% of DV
Vitamin C: 141% of DV
Calcium: 2% of DV
Iron: 4% of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Caloric Breakdown:
Carbohydrates: 54% Fats: 41% Proteins: 5%


Anti-oxidants in Chutneys??

Tomato Mint Chutney

I call this a chutney, but essentially this is a wonderful dish to make ahead and always have handy. I usually make this recipe with cilantro, but running low on cilantro one day, I decided to use the only fresh herb I had on hand. The result was absolutely wonderful. The main reason I have this recipe here is because I want to add to my list of spreads for Sheetal. Well, this is another wonderful base for whole wheat sandwiches. Not only can it be used as a chutney and a spread, it can also be used as a dip for fresh vegetables (baby carrot, celery, even rye crackers!), or as a pasta sauce, or a pizza sauce. And it is so versatile, you can convert it into hot tomato soup in two steps!

Oxidation and anti-oxidants: Oxidation, to put it very simply, is the removal of electrons from an atom. Why is this bad? When electrons are lost from an atom (which in this case is a part of your body), it becomes highly active (free radical). Its like a missile with no particular target to attack, so it goes ahead and attacks other atoms, or parts of atoms to get back its lost electron. Formation of one free radical can start off a cascade which could ultimately result in complete damage to a living cell. So, what causes the formation of free radicals? A small number of free radicals are formed by our body due to metabolic activities. These are however taken care of by the body itself. Our problems arise when too many free radicals are formed. When does this happen? This occurs when we are exposed to pollution, cigarette smoke, certain chemicals or UV rays.

Another problem with free radicals is that they accumulate with age, damaging DNA (the genetic material) in some organelles. This causes cells death and aging of individuals. Well, there's no need to worry though! Nature has provided us with ample means to combat free radicals. There are a bounty of anti-oxidants available to us which can give the boisterous atom an electron before it creates any havoc. Some of these include tomatoes, citrus fruits, berries of all kinds, carrots, papaya....

Tomatoes are one of the most common anti-oxidants available to us all year round, affordable and easy to incorporate into anything. The red color of tomatoes is due to the presence of "lycopene", a pigment to which the anti-oxidant properties of tomatoes have been attributed. I was looking at some interesting studies on tomatoes and this is a summary of what I found: tomatoes have been proved to be helpful in the prevention of numerous cancers, especially cancers of the prostrate, colon, rectum, stomach, lung and breast, to mention a few.

Things to look for when you are buying and cooking tomatoes:
Always buy tomatoes as darkly colored as possible. The redder the tomato, the greater the amount of lycopene it contains.
When cooking tomatoes: lycopene is present in the cell walls of tomatoes, so peeling tomatoes is not really a god way to consume them.
Cooking tomatoes in oil helps make the lycopene available, so try and cook this wonderful vegetable in some extra virgin olive oil.
For all those people who love the comfort of canned tomatoes (I am one of them), good news! Canning does not reduce the health benefits of the tomato!
Another very interesting thing I read about tomatoes: Never cook tomatoes in aluminium... Well, if you really think about it, it makes sense, aluminium, WHFoods says, reacts with the acids in tomatoes and introduces aluminium into our food, which can be very harmful.

Some interesting links:
World's Healthiest Foods
BBC News/Health
Council for Biotechnology Information, Q&A

Makes 4 cups of spread:
Tomatoes: 12 (chopped)
Red onion: 1 (chopped)
Fresh Mint Leaves: half a bunch, leaves only
Garlic: 6 cloves
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Green chilies: 6 (adjust according to taste)
Chili powder: As per taste
Turmeric: 0.25 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp (Dhania powder)

To a saucepan, add olive oil, cumin, garlic, green chilies and onions.
Saute till onions become translucent.
Add the tomatoes and mint leaves.
Cover and cook stirring occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add salt, turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder and mix well.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Let cool and grind.
Store in an air tight box.
For longer storage, freeze in Ziploc bags for up to 6 months.

To make this into soup:
To a large sauce pan, add 1 tsp olive oil, add 2 tbsp all purpose flour (or maida), saute till the raw smell disappears. Add one cup of the chutney and 3/4 cup of water or vegetable stock. Heat till the soup thickens. Serve with garlic croutons, or plain croutons.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving Per serving (1 tbsp) or 1/50th of the recipe (50 g)
Calories: 15
Calories from Fat: 4
Total Fat: 0 g (1% of DV)
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 g
Sodium: 52 mg (2% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 3 g (1% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 1 g (3% of DV)
Sugar: 0 g
Proteins: 1 g

Vitamin A: 7% of DV
Vitamin C: 19% of DV
Calcium: 1% of DV
Iron: 2% of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of caloric information:
Carbohydrates: 65% Fats: 26% Proteins: 9%


Walnut Brittle

Walnuts- the best nut :I guess I am one of the few who feel this way, but I simply love the walnut, raw or roasted, by itself or in brownies, or pies, or cakes... its gives the crunch to every munch! I remember being so happy the first time I read about the walnut and all the good fats it contains. My love seems justified :)
Anyway, I have been trying for decades to get my dear dad to have walnuts, and mom tells me he is just starting to try them out, so I thought, "Hey! Why don't I post one of my very own modification of the walnut, so they become as big fans of the cranial nut as me!!" So here goes:

A LINK to the health benefits of walnuts.
An article: Cholesterol and Walnuts
News headlines, NutraUSA: FDA backs the heart healthy benefits of walnuts
What Nutritionists are saying about nuts.

I use just 2 main ingredients for this recipe: Molasses and walnuts. How simple does that get??? How much molasses? Well, I don't really make this recipe like a brittle or chikki, but instead make it like, maybe, honey roasted walnuts; meaning you can choose the number of walnuts you want to have. In order to do that, I use more nuts ( 3 cups instead of the 2 I mentioned in the recipe) for the same amount of molasses.

I made a big batch 2 weeks back, but my husband whisked it off to snack on at work, so I will have to take a rain check on posting the picture! :)

Molasses: 2 cups (packed, grated if using gur or bellam or jaggery)
Walnuts: 2 cups
Ghee or Olive oil: 1 tsp

Roast the walnuts at 250F for 12 to 15 minutes, they shouldn't get too dark. If you want to do it stove top, you can dry roast the nuts on a thick bottomed skillet for 5 minutes on low-medium or till the walnuts are dark cream color inside when broken.
To a thick bottom pan, add the ghee or oil, and add the jaggery/molasses. Let it melt on a low-medium flame for 1 to 15 minutes, the jaggery will change color a little. Keep stirring and do not let it over-cook at this stage, or it gets burnt.
One way to check if the consistency is right is to place one drop of the melted jaggery on a place and then see if it is crisp after it cools down.
Once the consistency is right, add the nuts and mix thoroughly to coat all nuts as evenly as possible. You can adjust the amount of the nuts to suit your tastes. If you like it less sweet, add more nuts; if you like it chikki form, this ratio should be good enough.
Spread out on an aluminum foil and let cool. The advantage to this is that you can easily peel the foil off.
Store in Ziploc or air tight boxes.

Nutritional Information:
This is for 1/10th of the recipe i.e., 91 g
Calories: 353
Calories from Fat: 132
Total Fat: 16 g (24% of DV)
Saturated Fat: 2 g (8% of DV)
Trans Fat: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 25 mg (1% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 54 g (18% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 2 g (6% of DV)
Sugars: 38 g
Proteins: 4 g

Vitamin A: 0 % of DV
Vitamin C: 1 % of DV
Calcium: 16 % of DV
Iron: 21 % of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Caloric Breakdown:
Carbohydrates: 58% Fats: 38% Proteins 4%

I want to mention that though this is a healthy snack, you should try and consume it in moderation because of the high carbohydrate and fat content. Though the fat is good fat, it still is fat, and so requires much more effort to burn.


Cauliflower Soup

Its that time of the year again. Time that sniffles and sneezes creep in on you. Made this soup yesterday and it helped warm our aching throats. For all of you trying to fight off the cold.... hope this helps!!!!!!

Please click here for nutritional information about cauliflower

Makes 8 servings
Cauliflower: 1 medium sized (chopped, with stalks)
Onion: 1 chopped
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Cloves: 3 (lavanga)
Cinnamon: 2 pieces (dalchini)
Red capsicum: 1, chopped
Green capsicum: 1 chopped
Garlic: 7 cloves
Pepper: as much as you can handle!
Turmeric: 1/8 tsp
Maida: 2 tbsp (all purpose flour)
Milk: 1 cup
Water: to adjust consistency

To a large pot, add the olive oil.
Add the cloves and cinnamon.
Add the onions and garlic.
Saute till golden.
Add the vegetables.
Saute till the cauliflower looks done.
Add salt and pepper.
Puree till smooth.
Transfer back into the pot and simmer on a medium flame.
Add the milk and add water till you reach the desired consistency.
Continue simmering for another 10 minutes.
Serve hot with croutons or crisply fried cauliflower.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 81
Calories from fat: 23
Total Fat: 3 gm (4% of DV)
Saturated Fat: 1 gm (3% of DV)
Trans Fats: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 2 mg (1% of DV)
Sodium: 619 mg (26% of DV)
Carbohydrate: 13 gm (4% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 3 gm (12% of DV)
Sugars: 5 gm
Proteins: 3 gm

Vitamin A: 12% of DV
Vitamin C: 111% of DV
Calcium: 7% of DV
Iron: 4% of DV

Percent daily values are based on 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Calorific Information:
Carbohydrates: 59% Fats: 28% Proteins: 13%

Vegetable Biryani

Sheetal, I have kept this pending for too long... so am posting the recipe and the nutrition info for you. Will add the pictures later!
This is my grandmother's recipe passed down to my mother and my aunts and finally to me!

Makes 6 servings
Basmati Rice: 2 cups (long grained rice)
Cloves: 4 (lavanga)
Cinnamon: 4 (dalchini)
Cardamom: 4 pods (elaichi)
Pudina: 1 bunch, cleaned (Mint leaves)
Cilantro: 1 bunch, chopped
Onions: 1 large (sliced thinly)
Carrots: 2 (sliced thinly)
Peas: 1/2 cup
Beans: 15 (chopped into 1 inch pieces)
Cauliflower: optional
Yogurt: 2 tbsp (thick)
Coriander powder: 1 tsp (dhania powder)
Cashew: as per taste
Ginger garlic paste: 1 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp (zeera)
Green chilies: 4 (thai)
Extra virgin olive oil: 1 tbsp
Ghee: 1 tsp
Milk: 1 cup
Water: 3 cups

To a pressure cooker, add the oil and ghee (you can use only the oil also).
Add the cashew nuts, saute till golden. Add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and half a bay leaf (bay leaf is potional)
Add the mint and cilantro leaves. Saute till they wilt.
Add the onions and green chilies. Saute till onions turn golden brown.
Add all the vegetables. Saute for 5 minutes.
Add the ginger-garlic paste. Saute for 3 minutes.
Add the yogurt. Mix well. Add the dhania powder. Mix well.
Add the milk and the water. Add salt.
Add the washed basmati rice.
Close the cooker and cook on medium high for 10 minutes.
Turn heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes.
Serve hot with chole and raitha.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving or 1/6th of recipe or 168 gms:
Calories: 312
Calories from fat: 39
Total Fat: 5 gm (7% of DV)
Saturated Fat: 1 gm (6% of DV)
Trans Fat: 0 gm
Cholesterol: 4 mg (1% of DV)
Sodium: 816 mg (34% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 59 gm (20% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 2 gm (10% of DV)
Sugars: 5 gm
Proteins: 8 gm

Vitamin A: 10% of DV
Vitamin C: 68% of DV
Calcium: 10% of DV
Iron: 9% of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may change based on individual requirements.

Calorific Information:
Carbohydrates: 77% Fats: 13% Proteins: 10%


Vermicelli Kheer

Happy Diwali!!!!! Deepavali Subhakankshalu!!! Ee samvachharam maa deepavali naivedyam payasam.

Makes 6 servings
Milk: 1 liter (4 cups) 2% fat
Sugar: 3/4 cup
Elaichi: 8 pods, crushed (cardamom)
Saffron: 6 strands (kesar)
Cashew: 12 to 14 broken into halves
Raisins: 12 to 14
Almonds: chopped, optional
Oil or Ghee: 1 tbsp
Semiya: 1.5 cups (The thin roasted vermicelli, available as "Shan" vermicelli in Indian grocery stores)

Heat the milk in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add the crushed cardamom.
Let the milk boil, and remove the skins of the cardamom.
Add the roasted semiya and let it cook till soft.
In the meanwhile, in a small pan, roast the nuts and raisins in ghee. The nuts should turn golden brown and the raisins will plump up.
Add the sugar, raisins and roasted nuts to the cooked semiya. Add the saffron.
Serve hot or cold.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving or 1/6th f recipe, 228 gms:
Calories: 335
Calories from Fat: 51
Total Fat: 6gm (9% of DV)
Saturated Fat: 2 (12% f DV)
Trans Fat: 0
Cholesterol: 13 mg (4% of DV)
Sodium: 128 mg (5% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 63 gm (21% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 1 gm (4% of DV)
Sugars: 35 gm
Proteins: 7 gm

Vitamin A: 6% of DV
Vitamin C: 1% of DV
Calcium: 21% of DV
Iron: 3% of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of caloric information:
Carbohydrates: 76% Fats: 15% Proteins: 9%


Beerakai Endu Royyalu

The Andhra way of making dry prawns in sinqua. We recently got some dried prawns right from coastal Andhra (thank you Chinni!) Hope you enjoy this!!!

Makes 6 servings
Onion: 1, medium, chopped
Sinqua: 1 (toorai, beerakai)
Red Chilies: 2
Green Chilies: 2
Dried prawns: about 20
Garam Masala: 1 tsp
Cumin: 1tsp (zeera)
Extra Virgin Olive oil: 1.5 tbsp
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Ginger-Garlic paste: 1 tsp
Salt and Red chili powder: as per taste

Soak the dry prawns in water for 1 hour.
Add the oil to a saucepan. Add the cumin seeds and red chilies.
Let the cumin roast for a minute. Add the onions.
Saute till golden, or till the onions are translucent.
Add chopped sinqua (beerakai). Cover and cook till the sinqua gets tender.
Uncover. Add soaked prawns. Saute for 3 minutes.
Add salt, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala and half a cup of water.
Simmer on a low flame for 10 minutes.
Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving, or 36 gms (1/6 th of recipe)
Calories: 58
Calories from Fat: 34
Total Fat: 4 gm (6% of DV)
Saturated Fat: 1 gm (3% of DV)
Trans Fat: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 25 mg (8% of DV)
Sodium: 418 mg (17% of DV)
Carbohydrate: 2 gm (1 % of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 1 gm (2% of DV)
Sugars: 1 gm
Proteins: 4 gm

Vitamin A: 4% of DV
Vitamin C: 10% of DV
Calcium: 2 % of DV
Iron: 5% of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

Caloric Breakdown:
Carbohydrates: 14% Fats: 59% Proteins: 27%

Negatives about this dish: This dish has high ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids, which means it will reduce both the good and bad fats.

Mullangi Rasam

Mullangi Rasam or Mullangi Chaaru. I love the taste of piping hot rasam when its cold and dark outside. I remember my grandfather smiling and telling us, "Mullangatani soup is nothing but rasam". When you are down with a cough or cold, hot rasam is what you want to have. I personally love Radish Rasam (Mullangi Rasam) because I get to bite on tasty little radish pieces.

I used the small red radish in this recipe, but you can also use the regular white radish for this recipe.

Makes 4 cups, or 8 servings
Red radish: 8 (sliced into thin rounds)
Tamarind: one tbsp (soaked in 2 cups water for 15 to 30 minutes)
Curry leaves: one sprig
Garlic: 4 pods
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Urad dal: 1 tsp
Chana dal: 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds: 1/2 tsp (menthulu, methi seeds)
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp (zeera)
Asafoetida: 1/4 tsp (ingua, hing)
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp (haldi)
Red chilies: 3, broken into halves
Rasam powder: 1 heaped tsp
Cilantro: as per taste

Soak the tamarind in 4 to 4.5 cups of water for 15 to 30 minutes.
Add oil to a saucepan. Add the urad dal, chana dal, mustard seeds, fenugreek, cumin, asafoetida, turmeric, red chilies, garlic and curry leaves.
Let them sizzle, then add the sliced radish. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the tamarind water. Add salt. Cover and let the radish cook till tender, but not soggy.
Remove the lid, and let the flavor simmer in for 5 minutes.
Add the rasam powder and chopped cilantro. Let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
Serve hot garnished with more fresh cilantro.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving or 1/8 of recipe:
Calories: 21
Calories from fat 16
Total fat: 2 gm (3% of DV)
Saturated Fat: 0 gm (1% of DV)
Trans Fat: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 439 mg (18% of DV)
Carbohydrate: 1 gm (0% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 0 gm (1% of DV)
Sugars: 0 gm
Proteins: 0 gm

Vitamin A: 0% of DV
Vitamin C: 2% of DV
Calcium: 1% of DV
Iron: 2% of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet and may vary based on individual requirements.

The main component in this recipe is water.


Potato Fry

I love potatoes. But I try and keep the consumption of potatoes to a minimum to avoid loading up on fat and carbohydrates. But there are times when you really crave for pappu annam with hot hot aloo fry. I have some easy methods by which the carbohydrate and fat content in this dish can be reduced. Check this out for a tasty accompaniment with daal-chaawal.

Russet potatoes: 4 large
Olive oil: 2 tbsp
Chana daal: 1 tsp
Urad daal; 1 tsp
Curry leaves: one sprig
Asafoetida: 1/8 tsp
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Red chilies: 3
Salt: to taste
Chili powder: 1.5 tsp (adjust according to taste)

First point: always make this on a low flame in a non-stick skillet, this lets the potatoes crisp without needing all the extra oil.
Second point: Cut the potatoes to thin pieces and soak in water for 15 minutes. This helps us remove some starch from the energy machines!

Heat oil in the non-stick skillet on a low flame. Add the chana daal, urad daal, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, red chilies, asafoetida, turmeric. Let the curry leaves become crisp.
Add the chopped potatoes. Remeber to drain the water they were soaked in completely.
Let cook on a low flame for 15 minutes, or till they are crisp.
Add salt and red chili powder.
Serve hot with rice and daal.

Some interesting facts about potatoes:
Most of the vitamins and minerals in this vegetable are just below the skin, so if you peel the skin off, you lose most of them.
Deep frying potatoes is a big no-no. Deep fried potatoes contain a substance called acrylamide which is claimed to be a carcinogen.
Potatoes are not always bad for you. When baked or boiled, with skins intact, they are good sources of carbohydrates and vitamins.
There have been some reports that potatoes can cause a flare up of existing arthritis. You can always have a potato and check if it is causing any pain. If it is, it might be better to eliminate it from your diet.
An interesting read about potatoes and serotonin can be found at this site.

Vegetable Rice

I was watching a show on Food Network and I saw rice being cooked in a very unique manner, and I thought, no way! That wont work, or will it? I tried an Indianized version of their recipe, and it was so good, I had to add this recipe to my list of favourites. The good thing about this rice is that it can be cooked in a saucepan, and also that the grains of rice don't clump together. It tastes wonderful even when it is cold (very useful for my lunch box!)
The vegetables are all optional. Feel free to mix and match with your personal favourites.

Rice: 2 cups, medium grained, washed well and drained
Vegetable stock: 4 cups, can be substituted with plain water
Red bell peppers: 2, chopped
Green bell peppers: 2, chopped
Green chilies: 4, chopped
Onions: 1, red, chopped
Peas: 1 cup
Red Pepper Eggplant Spread: 4 tbsp (recipe)
Cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
Red chilies: 3, broken
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida: 1/4 tsp (hing, ingua)

To a large saucepan, add the olive oil, cumin seeds, red chilies, turmeric and asafoetida.
Add the rice. Saute for 5 to 6 minutes, till the rice looks crisp.
Add the chopped vegetables, including the green chilies and the frozen peas.
Saute till the onions look translucent.
Add the spread. Mix well. Add 2 tsp salt.
Add the vegetable stock or water. Cover and simmer till the liquid is absorbed.
Serve hot garnished with cilantro.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving of 169 gms (or 1/8th of recipe)
Calories: 237
Calories from fat: 22
Total fat: 2 gm (4% of DV)
Saturated fat: 0 gm (2% of DV)
Trans fat: 0 gm
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 608 mg (25% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 48 gm (16% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 3 gm (10% of DV)
Sugars: 5 gm
Proteins: 5 gm

Vitamin A: 35% of DV
Vitamin C: 208% of DV
Calcium: 3% of DV
Iron: 10% of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Values may vary based on individual dietary values.

Breakdown of caloric values:
Carbohydrates: 83% Fats: 9% Proteins: 8%


Red Pepper & Eggplant Spread

Sheetal, this one is for you...

Makes enough for bout 30 sandwiches
Red peppers: 3
Small eggplants: 8
Garlic: 1 whole head
Cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
Red onions: 2
Green chilies: 5
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida: a pinch (ingua or hing)
Tamarind paste concentrate: 1.5 tsp
Olive oil: 2 tbsp (helps store it for longer)

To a large pan, add the oil, cumin seeds, asafoetida and turmeric.
Add garlic cloves, chilies and onions. Saute till onions are golden.
Add chopped red pepper and chopped eggplant.
Let cook uncovered for 15 minutes, till the vegetables are cooked through.
Add salt and red chili powder as per taste. Add the tamarind concentrate and grind to a fine paste.

Place in clean and dry Ziploc freezer bags and freeze for up to 6 months.

Spread on bread. Layer with one or all your favourites, tomatoes, onions, or just plain cucumber slices. Top with cheese, or have it plain. Chock full of vitamins, and very filling... this has been my favourite lunch box meal.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving of 34 grams (1/30 of recipe):
Calories: 21
Calories from Fat: 9
Total Fat: 0 gm
Saturated Fat: 0 gm
Trans Fat: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 82 mg
Carbohydrate: 3 gm (1% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 1 gm (3% of DV)
Sugars: 1 gm
Proteins: 1 gm

Vitamin A: 10%
Vitamin C: 47%
Calcium: 1%
Iron: 2%

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Actual values may vary based on individual dietary requirements.

Caloric Values:
Carbohydrates: 49% Fats: 45% Proteins: 6%

Cafe Mocha

Friend or Foe? Love coffee or hate it? The best thing to have on a cold day, or even a hot day for that matter... Rich and warm instant mocha!

Milk: 3/4 cup
Almond milk: 1/2 cup (optional, can use milk instead)
Cocoa powder: 1.5 tbsp (I use Ghirardelli)
Instant coffee: 1 tsp, heaped
Vanilla Essence: 1/2 tsp
Sugar: 3 tsp (I like mine sweeet!)

Take a pan and heat milk, almond milk and cocoa powder.
Mix well. Heat till the milk starts frothing.
Add coffee and sugar. Let the coffee granules dissolve.
Turn off the stove and add the vanilla essence.
Use a frother to get froth over your coffee, or if you know the 2 glass method, this is the best time to put your knowledge to good use. To all those people who dont know the 2 glass method: take 2 steel glasses, pour coffee (from a moderate height) from one glass to the other till you are happy with the froth.

Happy Mocha Days!

I love my coffee too much to put a calorie tag on it!!!!!!


Fresh Trout in Coconut Milk Sauce

Please check this post for health information about fish.

Makes 6 servings
Fresh Trout: 1 lb
Onions: 2 chopped finely
Cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
Light coconut milk: 1/2 cup
Extra virgin olive oil: 1 tbsp

For marinade:
Salt and red chili powder: to taste
Lime juice: 1 lime
Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Coriander seed powder: 1/2 tsp

Wash the fish and mix in the marinade.
Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a large pan. Add cumin seeds.
Add the chopped onions. Saute till golden.
Add salt and red chili powder to the onions.
Add the fish fillets one at a time. Let cook for a few minutes.
Add the light coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water.
Cover and let cook on a low flame for 15 minutes.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with rice.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving or 129 gms (1/6th of recipe):
Calories: 168
Calories from fat: 78
Total fat: 9 gms (14% of DV)
Saturated fat: 3 gms (17% of DV)
Trans Fat: 0 mg
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.1 gm
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.8 gm
Cholesterol: 45 mg (15% of DV)
Sodium: 625 mg
Carbohydrates: 5 gm (2% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 1 gm (5% of DV)
Sugars: 2 gms
Proteins: 17 gms

Vitamin A: 12% of DV
Vitamin C: 10% of DV
Calcium: 8% of DV
Iron: 9% of DV

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Values may vary based on individual dietary requirements.

Caloric Values:
Carbohydrates: 11% Fats: 47% Proteins: 42%

Eggless Vegetable Omelette

We used to call this by many many names when we were kids and watched my mom make hot veggie omelette's or besan dosa or senagapindi attulu for us. Its so easy to make, tastes like pakodi's or onion fritters without all the oil. Make on the spur, needs no grinding and no fermenting. Great idea for making breakfast or dinner, or even a quick tea time snack.

Makes 8 dosa's
Chickpea flour: 2 cups (besan, sengapindi)
Red onion: 1 (chopped finely)
Tomato: 1 (chopped finely)
Cilantro: a few sprigs, chopped
Green chilies: 2
Salt: 1 tsp (or per taste)
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Chili powder: 2 tsp (or per taste)
Tymol seeds: 1 tsp (ajwain, vaamu)
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp (zeera, jillakarra)
Baking soda: 1/2 tsp

In a mixing bowl, add all the above ingredients and water. Make a smooth batter.
Spread batter like a pancake or dosa (thin layer) on a medium hot griddle.
Add 1/2 tsp olive oil. Let cook for a few minutes (the color should change to reddish brown). Flip. Let cook completely.
Serve hot with tomato ketchup or green chili sauce or mango pickle.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving one dosa or 1/8th of recipe or 75 gm
Calories: 128
Calories from fat: 36
Total fat: 4 gm (6% of DV)
Saturated fat: 1 gm (3% of DV)
Monounsaturated fat: 2.1 gm
Polyunsaturated fat: 1 gm
Trans fat: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 316 mg (13% of DV)
Carbohydrates: 17 gm (6% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 3 gm (13% of DV)
Sugars: 4 gm
Proteins: 6 gm

Vitamin A: 9%
Vitamin C: 51%
Calcium: 2%
Iron: 10%

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Values may vary based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of Caloric Values:
Carbohydrates: 53% Fats: 28% Proteins: 19%

Asparagus with Feta Cheese

Feta cheese was originally Greek cheese made from fresh sheep milk. The very word "feta" means slice in Greek. The texture of this cheese reminds me of fresh paneer made at home, thick and crumbly. Feta is very generous to taste buds. A taste of smooth, slightly tangy, rich cheese. I love feta cheese with almost any sandwich or salad. It adds the zing to fresh baked asparagus in a way no other cheese can.

The term "asparagus" was coined by ancient Greeks and means to "sprout or shoot". It is a member of the lily family and is rich green in color.

Some interesting health facts about asparagus:
Asparagus is rich in folates, which is of prime importance for the development of the nervous system. Consumption of asparagus has been strongly linked to reduced birth defects in children. It has been suggested that women considering pregnancy consume this vegetable as much as possible before and during the first few months of pregnancy.

Asparagus has also been claimed to reduce inflammation and provide some relief in arthritis and rheumatism, but these have not yet been proven.

Asparagus is also a rich source of potassium.

Asparagus is also a very good for intestinal health. Rich in inulin, it encourages growth of helpful intestinal bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Colonization by these bacteria prevent increase in levels of harmful bacteria.

Some people complain of asparagus smell in their urine. Asparagus contains some sulfur compounds (thiols) which though not harmful, cause urine to have a sulfur-y odor. This is nothing to worry about.

RISK FACTORS: Though not widely known, a report released by the Food and Drug Association in December of 2002 stated that roasting of asparagus caused the production of high levels of acrylamide. Scientists have found that acrylamide, a probable carcinogen in humans, is produced when a naturally occurring aspargine is heated with certain sugars like glucose. Recent studies have also shown high levels of acrylamide in fries, chips and crackers. Though it has not yet been proved that high levels of acrylamide are dangerous, it is suggested that it be avoided from diet as far as possible.

I used to traditionally prefer baking asparagus, but given the recent questions raised regarding baking asparagus, I will also give an alternative recipe to enjoy the same flavor.

Choosing and preparing asparagus:
Buy slender shoots with green or purplish tips.
The stalk of the asparagus is very fibrous and is generally removed prior to cooking. To determine the exact level where the stalk starts, bend the asparagus till it snaps. Use the tender tips.

(Makes 2 servings)
Asparagus: 1 lb
Feta cheese: 2 tbsp
Garlic salt:~1/2 tsp
Freshly ground pepper: ~1/4 tsp
Lime juice: juice from one lime
Dried oregano: 1/4 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil: 1 tbsp

Rinse the asparagus tips.
Put a large pot of water to boil, and add the asparagus. Let cook for 5 minutes. Drain.
To a large saucepan, add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add asparagus, garlic salt, freshly ground pepper, dried oregano. Saute for a minute.
Remove from flame. Add lime juice. Mix.
Top with feta cheese and serve hot.

Nutritional Information:
Per serving, 1/2 of recipe or 270 gms
Calories: 149
Calories from fat: 89
Total fat: 10 gm (16% of DV)
Saturated fat: 3gm (16% of DV)
Monounsaturated fat: 5.6 gm
Polyunsaturated fat: 1 gm
Trans Fat: 0 mg
Cholesterol: 13 mg (4% of DV)
Sodium: 746 mg
Carbohydrates: 11 gm (4% of DV)
Dietary Fiber: 5 gm (20% of DV)
Sugars: 5 gm
Proteins: 7 gm

Vitamin A: 36%
Vitamin C: 31%
Calcium: 13%
Iron: 28%

Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Values may change based on individual requirements.

Breakdown of Calorific Values:
Carbohydrates: 27% Fats: 59% Proteins: 14%
Moisture content: 88%

The Colors of Health

The Colors of Health