Friday, April 18, 2014

Makai Paaka- Corn cobs in coconut sauce

I was taking look at all my previous posts and I realized that except for Mandazi, there were no African recipes on this blog. That's surprising because, East Africa, has been my home for the past seven years. Although, I have not tasted many African dishes, there are a few that I really like. Among the very few that I had tried, Makai Paaka was one of them. 

Makai Paaka is a Tanzanian dish. But it can also be found in the coastal parts of Kenya as well. This dish, I feel, sort of reflects the Tanzanian landscape.

I was introduced to Makai Paaka through a friend. I remember her mentioning this dish during a casual conversation. When I questioned her about this, she went on to say that makai paaka was nothing Corn cobs cooked in coconut milk. I was intrigued. This dish certainly sounded unique. I had asked her for the recipe and I had resolved to make this curry soon. The next day, I was busy with the usual chores when I heard the door bell ring. I opened the door to find my friend's driver holding out a box to me. I opened the box to find sliced corn cobs in a pale yellow sauce. Yes, it was actually makai Paaka. My friend not only gave out the recipe but also made the curry for me and sent it. How sweet was that?? Somehow, the thought and the gesture made the curry even more delicious.

Makai Paaka is one of those dishes that makes you ask for more. There are these sweet and tender corn chunks that are enveloped in a velvety and creamy coconut sauce. Who can get enough of that? I suggest serving this dish with piping hot steamed rice. It makes the curry taste even better. Although I have presented the dish with a spoon and fork, it's much better to eat this curry with hands as biting the tender corn kernels and gnawing on the juicy corn cobs makes the whole experience of eating makai paaka pleasurable.

Makai Paaka recipe:
Preparation time: 15mins
Cooking time: 15mins
Serves- 4

Rice flour- 2tsps
Ginger- 1"piece
Green chili- 1
Oil- 2tbsps
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsps
Onion- 1 med, chopped fine
Turmeric- 1/4tspn
Coriander powder- 1/2tsp
Salt- to taste
Corn cobs- 2 large, husk and silk removed and sliced into 1" thick pieces
Coconut milk- 1, 14 Oz can
water- 1 cup
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Coriander leaves to garnish

  • Mix the rice flour with one table spoon of water and keep aside.
  • Make a paste of the ginger and green chili and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. Once they turn brown add the ginger green chili paste and fry for a min.
  • Add the chopped onion and fry till they turn transcluscent. Stir in the turmeric, coriander powder and salt and fry for a minute more.
  • Add the corn slices and mix well. Add water and the coriander milk and cook covered till the corn cobs are tender and cooked through.
  • Garnish with lime juice and coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.
  • The rice flour can be replaced with either corn starch or gram flour.
  • This curry can be made with corn kernels instead of corn on cobs. But the cooking time will be reduced to just ten minutes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Onion and potato curry and mint coconut chutney for Pooris or dosas

If there was one curry that I hated during my growing years, then it had to be this Potato and onion curry. Alugadde irulli palya as we call it in Kannada. I really am not sure why I hated this curry so much. As this curry was a favorite with the rest of the family, this curry along with pooris, made a regular appearance on the dining table. And the moment I would see it, I would wrinkle my nose and make extremely sorry faces. I would complain incessantly and ask my mother to make the green Sagu. There were times that my poor mom made green sagu just for me. My dislike for this curry soon became a family joke. There were times when some of my relatives joked about it as well. They just couldn't understand how anybody could dislike the ubiquitous alugadde irulli palya. 

I am not sure when or how I took a liking to this curry. But whenever and however it was, I had become a convert. When I say convert, I don't mean that I like this curry with just about anything. Yes I do like this dish with Pooris and dosas. But I don't like this rava idlies. Which again S finds it very weird. 

Like my mother, even I make the potato and onion curry with pooris and yes with dosas as well. But whenever I make it with pooris, I also make the mint coconut chutney. The combination of the deep fried bread along with the humble potato curry and this aromatic chutney is just irresistible. I feel that this flavor packed dip, ups the taste quotient of any dish by a few notches. 

Back in India, this combo meal is typically served for breakfast. But we have it at just about any time of the day. Personally, I love to have pooris with alugadde irulli palya and Pudina chutney for a hearty brunch. 

I have not given the recipe for Puri because it has already been blogged before. In case you are looking for the recipe, you can check this post.

Onion and potato curry recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 10min
Serves- 4

Oil- 2tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Chana dal or bengal gram- 1-1/2 tsp
Urad dal or black gram- 1-1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Asafetida- a large pinch
Onion- 1 med, finely chopped
Green chili- 1 or 2, chopped fine.
Turmeric- 1/4tsp
Salt to taste
Potatoes- 4 med, boiled peeled and coarsely mashed.
Coriander leaves to garnish

  • Heat oil in a wok and add the mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the Chana dal and urad dal and fry till they are brown.
  • Add the curry leaves and asafetida and fry for a few seconds. Stir in the chopped onions and fry  till they turn transcluscent. 
  • Add the turmeric, green chilies and salt and fry for a few seconds more. Add the mashed potatoes and mix well.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with Pooris or dosa.
Mint coriander chutney Recipe:
Preparation time: 5min
Cooking time: nil
Makes- 1 cup

Oil- 1tsp
Mint leaves- 1/3 cup, tightly packed
Green chilies- 2, chopped
Roasted gram- 2tbsp
Freshly grated Coconut- 1/2 cup, packed
Ginger- 1cm piece
Tamarind- 1cm piece
Jaggery- 1tsp
Salt to taste
For the seasoning
Mustard seeds- 1tsp
Urad dal- 1tsp
Asafetida- a pinch
Curry leaves- 5-6

  • Heat a tspn of oil and fry the mint leaves  and green chilies for a min and keep aside.
  • Add the roasted gram to the same pan and fry till it turns brown and keep aside and let it cool completely
  • In a blender jar, combine the fried ingredients along with the coconut, ginger, tamarind, jaggery, and salt. Add about quarter to half cup of water and blend till smooth.
  • For the seasoning, heat 2tspns of oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, once they pop, add the urad dal and fry till it turns brown.
  • Add the curry leaves and asafetida and fry till the curry leaves turns crisp.
  • Add the seasoning to the prepared chutney and serve immediately.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Crispy and Garlicy Oven roasted Broccoli

Broccoli is not a favored vegetable at my place. S and Purvi share a huge dislike for this green vegetable which I find very surprising because I absolutely love it. Since this vegetable is packed with healthy nutrients, I try and serve Broccoli in different avatars, hoping that at least S will take a liking to this vegetable. But this did not happen for a long time. I tried cooking this vegetable in the form of stir fries, in gravies, tried spiking it up with Indian spices, I did it all. Despite all my efforts, his dislike for this vegetable never budged. I almost gave up cooking broccoli and that is when I found this recipe on food 

I had never tried baking broccoli before and the recipe seemed way too delicious to resist. I went to work the very same day. And I must say that this incarnation of broccoli was liked by both S and Purvi as well. It was the first time that S ate this vegetable with such enthusiasm. That day I learnt that oven roasted broccoli tasted much better than steamed broccoli. Tender, green florets, tossed in olive oil (or butter),  and garlic and baked till brown and crisp and then sprinkled with some cheese. What's not to love about this? I think that this avatar of broccoli is something that will be loved  by all.

Crispy and Garlicy Oven roasted Broccoli recipe:
Preparation time: 10min
Baking time: 20min
Serves- 2

Broccoli- 1med or 200gms, separated into florets
Olive oil- 2-3tbsp
Garlic- 2 cloves, chopped fine
Fresh bread crumbs- 4tbsp
Salt- to taste
Freshly ground Pepper- 1/4tsp
Grated Parmesan cheese to garnish


  • In a large bowl, combine the broccoli florets along with the olive oil, bread crumbs, Garlic, salt and pepper and toss till the florets are coated with bread crumbs
  • Spread the florets in a single layer on a Parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 200C for 10min. Toss the florets and bake for 10min more.
  • Transfer the florets to a serving dish, garnish with grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

  • For the bread crumbs, Blend a slice of brown or white bread till fine and add the same to the broccoli.
  • Butter can also be used instead of olive oil
  • You can also add a tea spoon of lemon juice if you want a hint of citrus. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy Ugadi and a recipe for Hayagriva

Happy Ugadi and Gudi Padwa to all my friends and readers!! I want to wish you the best of everything in Jaya Naama Samvatsara.

Since it is the beginning of the new year, I thought of starting this year with a new note. Yes you can see that this space of mine has got a new new look. Although I loved my previous template, I could not ignore the problems I was facing with it. So I just decided to change it once and for all. I hope you like it.

As you all know, it is customary to make holige/obbattu for Ugadi. But this year, things got a little hectic during the weekend and I did not have time to prepare. So I chose to make this simple sweet dish to celebrate the occasion. 

Hayagriva is traditionally a north Karnataka dish. The name of the dish is synonymous with Lord Hayagriva, the Horse headed incarnation of lord Vishnu. It is said that a Goldsmith was trying to make an Idol of Lord Ganesha but each time, The Idol ended up with a horse's head. He tried melting and remolding the idol a number of times but still the idol ended up with horse's head. Ultimately he got tired of the ordeal and threw away the Idol. On the same night Lord Hayagreeva appeared Sri Vadiraja's dream, and asked him to retrieve the idol that was thrown away  by the goldsmith and worship it. Lord Hayagriva also appeared in the goldsmith's dream and asked him to become the disciple of Sri Vadiraja. Since bengal gram is a favorite with horses, SriVadiraja, made an offering of chana dal cooked with jaggery and coconut. This mixture of lentils and jaggery is actually called as maddi in Kannada. Since then, the maddi is also called as Hayagriva.

This dish is considered to be an equivalent to holige. But then is very simple to put together. Traditionally, coconut milk is not used in the recipe. But I thought that, the addition of coconut milk, increased the flavor and also gave a great texture to the dish. Give this dish a try. I assure you this recipe will never fail you.

Hayagriva recipe:
Preparation time: 15min
Cooking time: 20min
Serves- 4

Chana dal or bengal gram- 2 cups or 250gms
Jaggery- 1-1/2 cups
Thick Coconut milk- 1/4 cup
Freshly grated coconut- 2tbsp
Ghee- 2tbsp+1/2tsp
Turmeric- A pinch
Edible camphor- A pinch
Cardamom- 4-6 peeled and crushed to a fine powder
Chopped Cashews and almonds-  2 tbsp
Raisins- 2tbsp

  • Dry roast the chana dal till brown and fragrant, wash and pressure cook the lentils along with 2-1/2 cups of water, 1/2 tsp of ghee and turmeric for 4-5 whistles. Do not cook the lentils till they are mushy. The bengal gram should be cooked but still hold it's shape.
  • Allow the cooker to cool completely. Mash the dal slightly and add the coconut milk, jaggery, grated coconut and edible camphor and cook the mixture on low flame for 10min. By the end of 10mins the mixture would have thickened and would have clumped together to form a thick mass.
  • Stir in the powdered cardamom and cook for another minute before taking off the heat.
  • Heat two table spoons of ghee in a pan, add the chopped nuts, and fry till they are slightly brown. Add the raisins and fry till they bulge. 
  • Take off the heat and add the seasoning to the hayagriva and serve warm.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Rava dosa- Semolina crepes recipe with Video tutorial

I am back with another South Indian dish. This time I have for you, the recipe for Rava dosa. The rava dosa is nothing but a delectable, crispy and easy to make counter part of the traditional dosa. The rava dosa is usually prepared with fine semolina, rice flour, and all purpose flour. Since the batter doesn't need any fermentation, these crepes can be prepared almost instantly. The addition of onions, chilies and coriander, increases the flavor quotient of the crepes and makes them quite irresistible. 

This recipe was actually passed on to me by my grandmother. It seems like yesterday when, as a new bride, I had made her dictate a number of recipes and I had written them down in a book. The book is dog eared and the ink has faded. But the memory is still etched in my mind. 

I wanted to post this recipe for a long time now. Since making the rava dosa is lightly different than the ordinary dosa, it can be slightly tricky as well. In order to help you make the crepes easily, I decided to make a video. This my first attempt at making a video and I am afraid, it is not very skillful. But I do hope the tutorial will be help you to make the crepes easily. 

Rava dosa recipe:
Preparation time: 15min+standing time
Cooking time: 20-25min
Makes- 12-15 dosas

Chiroti rava or fine semolina- 2 cups or 240gms
Rice flour- 1 cup, 120gm
Maida or all purpose flour- 1/2 cup, 60gm
Onion- 1 large, chopped fine
Finely chopped Coriander leaves- 2tbsps
Green chilies- 2, chopped fine
Cumin seeds- 1tsp
Salt to taste
Sour curds- 2 tbsp
Water to make the batter- approximately 5-6 cups or as required
Oil to shallow fry- as required

  • In a large bowl, combine the semolina, rice flour, all purpose flour and salt and mix well
  • Add the chopped onion, coriander leaves, green chilies, cumin seeds, the sour curds and enough water to make a thin batter. The consistency of the batter should be like that of buttermilk. 
  • Cover and allow the batter to rest for 10-15min
  • Heat a skillet and rub 1/2 a tspn of oil.
  • Pour 1/2 a cup of batter from the outer edge of the skillet to and then proceed to the center, filling any gaps.
  • Drizzle a tea spoon of oil and cook the dosa on low heat for a minute. Increase the heat and cook further for another minute or till you see dark patches appear on the crepe.
  • Carefully Remove the dosa with a spatula and serve hot with coconut chutney.

  • The rava dosa, doesn't need any fermentation unlike the regular dosa.
  • The batter can be refrigerated for 3-4days. After that it acquires a sour taste.
  • The crepe should have a netted texture. If the crepes are not netted and lacy, then simply add more water to the batter.
  • Some of my friends argue that the batter should be allowed to stand for at least an hour. But I have never found the need to do so. The crepes that you see in the photographs were made just after 15mins of making the batter.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Baked Nippattu- Savory onion crackers

When you live away from the place where you were born, bred and spread, there are times when nostalgia hits and it hits you hard. Although rarely, there are times when I do miss Bangalore terribly. However, the nostalgia is never about the incredible sights or the malls or the shopping sprees. It's about those simple and silly things that we mostly tend to take for granted. Like the smell of ink on the news paper (we never get the news paper here) or the rasam my ajji made or amma's rava kesari, etc.

Apart from all these, one memory (or should I say aroma) that makes me most nostalgic is the Iyengar bakeries of Bangalore. These omnipresent bakeries dot every large street in Bangalore Suburb. My own haunts in Jayanagar and Banashankari had some of the best bakeries. The honey cakes, dil pasand and dilkush and the toasts were a regular part of my growing years. If these catered to my sweet tooth then the vegetable puffs, the toast and the palya buns were the obvious choice when it came to my savory cravings. 

In spite of all these wide range off goodies, that the Iyengar bakeries offered, I became particularly addicted to these savory crackers. There was something about these sweet and spicy discs that made it hard to resist. There was a time when one was sure to find two packets of these crackers in the cookie jar. Even after all these years, I make sure to gorge on at least one packet of baked nippattu when I visit bangalore. S tells me that he can see the pure joy spread on my face whenever I take a bite of this herb filled cracker.

So on my last visit to Bangalore, I decided to carry the two packets of nippattus (I would have carried more if it wasn't for the weight restrictions). But then they were over before I knew it and I started craving for them again. But this time, I decided to make these myself. I had read the ingredients on the label and I vaguely remembered it. So I just decided to give it a try. 

Bingo!! The crackers turned out very close to the ones they sell in the Iyengar bakeries. The taste was a brilliant combo of slightly sweet and spicy and the texture was super crispy. These crackers were a perfect accompaniment to my evening coffee. So here's my version of the famous baked nippattu.

Baked Nippattu recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Baking time: 15-20 min
Makes- approximately 3-4 dozen crackers

All purpose flour- 2cups or 480gms+ 3tbsp to dust
Corn flour- 1tbsp
Milk powder- 2tsp
Baking soda- 1tsp
Salt- 1to 1tspn or to taste
Paprika powder- 1tsp
Sugar- 2tspn
Butter- 4tbsp melted
Vegetable oil- 3tbsp
Coriander leaves- 2tbsp finely chopped
Mint leaves- 2tbsp finely chopped
Curry leaves- 10-12 finely chopped
Onion- 1 large, finely chopped
Green chilies- 2, finely chopped
Asafetida- a large pinch
White sesame seeds- 1-1/2tbsp, toasted
Water to knead as required


  • Sift the all purpose flour along with the corn flour, milk powder, baking soda and salt to a large bowl. Add the sugar and mix well.
  • Add chopped coriander leaves, mint leaves, curry leaves, asafetida, chopped onion, green chilies, toasted sesame seeds, melted butter and oil and mix well.
  • Sprinkle water a few spoons at a time and mix to form a stiff dough. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 15-20min
  • Divide the dough into four portions and roll each portion into a disc of 1mm thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the crackers into desired shapes and prick holes into the dough using a fork.
  • Alternatively, pinch small lemon sized balls, place them between two plastic sheet and press to flatten it into a disc.
  • Arrange the crackers on a prepared baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 15-20 min, flipping once after 10min.
  • Repeat the procedure with the remaining dough.
  • Allow the crackers to cool completely before storing them in air tight containers.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Paneer and Soya chunks Jalfrezi

I know it's been a fortnight since I posted anything on this space. But the last few days has been extremely hectic, tiring and sickening all at the same time. First there was this nasty flu that Purvi contracted. My poor daughter suffered with incessant coughs for almost a week. I had a tough time nursing her back to health. By the time she was better, I feel sick with the flu and it had me bed ridden for almost two days. 
Although the fever subsided, the coughing and sneezing persisted for almost ten days. By the end of these ten days, I felt like my tongue had turned to lead and had lost all sense of taste and smell. I desperately needed something to perk up my taste buds. I rummaged my refrigerator and found this small piece Paneer and halved red and yellow bell peppers. I knew there was some Soya chunks some where in the Pantry. So I decided to put everything together to make this crowd pleasing curry.

The best thing about this curry is that, it can be prepared with any combination of vegetables and still manage to taste great. You can either prepare this curry with just vegetables or with only paneer or with mushrooms or baby corn. You see, the possibilities are endless. And anyone will fall in love with this versatile curry. All it takes is just 30min of your time and voila!! You'll have a brilliant side dish to dig into. 

This recipe was given to me by a kind hearted chef of restaurant in Dar. I remember memorizing the recipe after he had told me. From then on, this curry has appeared on our dining table from time to time. Jalfrezi is my go to dish whenever I have unexpected guests or whenever I need to dig into something rich and comforting. No matter what the reason is, the curry has never disappointed me. So here's my version of Jalfrezi.

Paneer and Soya chunks Jalfrezi:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 15min
Serves- 4

Paneer- 150gm, cut into cubes
Soya chunks- 1-1/2 cups
Fresh or frozen peas- 1/2 cup
Red and yellow bell peppers- 1/2 cup, cut into strips.
Oil- 2tbsp
Ghee or clarified butter- 2tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Ginger- garlic paste- 1tsp
Onion- 1 large, julienned
Tomatoes- 2 large, Blanched and pureed
Tomato Ketchup- 1-1/2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Sugar- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1tsp
Red chili powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tspn
Aamchur powder- 1tsp
Garam masala- A pinch


  • To prepare the soya chunks, Soak the the chunks in 3 cups of warm water for 10-12min.
  • Squeeze the soya chunks thoroughly, retain the chunks and discard the water.
  • Heat ghee in a non stick pan. Add the paneer cubes and fry till golden brown, remove from ghee and set aside.
  • Add the capsicum strips to the same ghee and fry till tender. Remove and set aside.
  • Add oil to the same pan. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sputter.
  • Add the onions and fry till transcluscent. Stir in the ginger garlic paste and peas and fry till the raw smell goes and the peas are tender
  • Stir in the pureed tomatoes, turmeric powder, red chili powder, salt, sugar, coriander seed powder and Aamchur powder and fry till the gravy thickens. Add the tomato ketchup and fry for 2-3 min more.
  • Add the soaked soya chunks, paneer cubes and garam masala and mix well.
  • Add the fried bell pepper strips and mix gently. Allow the curry to cook for 2-3 mins more before taking off the heat.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and Serve hot with rice or rotis.

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