Thursday, 27 November 2014

Fresh Guava Salad

A guava salad.

Any other day, I wouldn't even have thought of it. But today, I had in my possession what I can only call the best guavas I have ever had. Being one who prefers being oblivious to guavas in the fruit markets, fruits seller's cart or in the fruit basket at home, these guavas definitely had some mettle to make me hail them. I had only gone to the kitchen to get some water and I saw these large, beautiful, fresh looking guavas sitting on the kitchen counter. Well, I don't like guavas but others in my family do.

It was about time for lunch and I thought I would make a salad. And I did. The usual cucumber, onions and tomatoes salad. But all the while I kept eyeing the guavas. Call me crazy, but I thought they were smiling and staring at me. Finally, I picked one and decided to slice it for lunch, too. As I began slicing, I took a bite. And that's when all changed.

The guava was perfect, and I am not overstating. It was fresh and full of soft watery crunch and had the kind of sweetness that comes only with perfectly ripened fruits. Without a doubt, it was the best of guavas. I might have seen a white light with that bite. I don't remember. But that's when I decided that this sweet freshness deserves a salad.

And I didn't need much. I did not have to do anything complicated. I didn't have to whip up a fancy salad dressing, just a little bit of seasoning. All I had to do was find something that would match the freshness of these fruits. That's how came the sweet limes in the picture. And I added a few home made sun dried cherry tomatoes, well, they were almost dried.

The result was this gorgeous salad I never thought I would make.

On an unrelated note, I think I am becoming much salad savvy these days. Huh! Good for me.

Guava, diced - 1 cup
Sweet lime, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces- 1 nos.
A few sun dried cherry tomatoes
Kosher salt to taste
Red chilly flakes to taste


Toss all ingredients together in a bowl.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Besan wali Pyaz

Certain recipes taunt us from the memory . They sit there and laugh at us while we rack our brains to find something new to eat. They secretly smirk at our good natured foolhardiness and wait patiently until we realise that an old recipe, like an ancient artefact dug out of ruins, becomes new when pulled out from the deep recesses of memory.

I am mulling over this today because this recipe here was one such smirking little snob until I decided to bring it out in the open for everyone to see and put an end to its enigmatic condescension.

LOL! Looks like I have stretched my metaphor too far. Let's talk like normal people would about their food.

This recipe here today is a very simple process of caramelising onions with chickpea flour and spices. It is a recipe I think I prepared after 3 years, hence the ancient artefact metaphor. It used to be my favorite "go to" recipe when I was short on time, vegetables and energy. It is actually a preparation from my mom's kitchen. I used to love having it for lunch in school. Granted, it's a comparatively dry preparation and didn't really sit well with only parathas in the tiffin, but the heart wants what the heart wants, or in this case, the tongue.

I cannot recall what triggered me to take up this recipe today, nevertheless, God bless it! Today's meal with this Besan wali Pyaz not only broke a rut but also brought a refreshing bout of happy memories.

You will enjoy this most with hot, buttered chapatis and a good dal like this Yellow Dal Fry.
I like it with rice too. And at times I have also used it as a filling for grilled sandwiches and stuffed parathas. It never disappoints.


Onions- 2 cups, sliced
Besan (Chickpea flour)- 1 cup
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Red chilly powder- 1 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Garam masala powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil- 1/4 cup


Dry roast chickpea flour. Set aside. 

Heat oil in a pan.

Add mustard seeds.

When spluttered, add onions and little salt.

Cook covered on low flame until transparent and soft.

Now add roasted chickpea flour and all powdered spices.

Mix well and cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Serve hot.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Eggless Chocolate Cake (Vegan)

What's better than the smell of a cake baking in the oven? It's the smell of a chocolate cake baking in the oven.

I have taken to consuming too much chocolate lately, especially in caked and baked goods. This eggless chocolate cake recipe today is a result of that slowly shaping addiction. I had been craving a chocolate cake since I was sick last week. I waited until my sister came home for her semester break and then we baked this cake together as I measured, sifted and mixed ingredients together, preheated the oven and put the cake to bake and she sat in the kitchen watching the latest episodes of Castle on my laptop. She is usually a sweet little help, but this time she said that she would help only if I let her do the batter mixing and pouring it in the cake pan and not just fetching me the whip or greasing the pan. I weighed my options and let her stare on the laptop screen.

I caught a whiff of my chocolate cake after about 20 minutes of baking. I excitedly asked her if she could smell it too. She cringed her nose and shook her head. Finally I went to take the cake out of the oven and that was when she said that she could smell it. And I thought the one who cooks is generally the last to smell his dish.

The cake was beautifully risen and spongy. I let it cool and set about making arrangements to click it. I always have to overcome the temptation of trying to take the cake out of the pan before it cools down. There's nothing like warm cakes, and this one was a chocolate cake of all things!

I think no matter how many cakes I bake, I will always feel the same excitement while taking a knife to it. It is an unspoken reward to find your cake perfectly baked, soft and stiff at the same time. No gooey thing sticking to the knife. It is satisfaction on a deeper level than just having a cake. I understood this when I started baking.

This is an easy recipe to remember and to put together. Enjoy this cake.

P.S. This one was all gone before I began writing this post!


Flour- 1 and a half cups
Baking soda- 1tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Cocoa powder- 3 tbsp
Sugar- 1 cup
Water- 1 cup
Oil- 1/3 cup
Lemon juice- 1 tsp
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp


Preheat oven at 180 degree C.

Sift first four ingredients together in a bowl, twice.

In another bowl, dissolve sugar in water. Add oil, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir well.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to form a batter. Do not over mix. Avoid lumps.

The batter will not be very thick.

Pour batter into a greased 7" cake pan and tap it on kitchen counter to remove any bubbles.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Take out  of the oven and let cool in the pan before removing it.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Apple Cinnamon Smoothie

I don't drink tea in the morning, like most Indians do. I don't drink coffee in the morning, like most Americans do. And I stay miles away from drinking milk too, during any time of the day. So last week when I was supposed to catch an early morning train home after I had stayed the night at my aunt's in another town, she didn't know what to make me have before I left. I told her that I didn't need anything and that eating so early in the morning makes me kind of sick. But she would hear none of it. She wanted me to have parathas of all things! After some more resistance from my side, finally she sternly asked me to wait for 5 minutes and then have whatever she gave me without speaking a word, or she wouldn't let me go. I had no choice but to oblige.

And was I glad I did! As I waited, all I heard was a blender whir in the background for only a few seconds and then a glass being placed on the kitchen counter. A moment later she appeared in front of me holding a tray with a glass full of what looked like milk to me from afar. I pulled a long face. I mean a really long face. And then she smiled and handed me the glass. I reluctantly took it and looked at what I thought was milk. It was then that I saw it wasn't milk. Well, I mean there was milk in it but it was a smoothie. Made me a little happy. Then I took a sip. I was happier. It was an apple smoothie. I grinned at her. She looked smug.

I am not much for fruits or milk but together they are my thing. Having that apple smoothie then I decided to make this post. Now, my aunt's version was different than this one. It was a humble, delicious smoothie made of only apples and milk, some sugar may be. For mine, I decided to take it a level further.

Those who know me know that I love cinnamon. So it shouldn't be a surprise that I added cinnamon to my apple smoothie. Then there's vanilla. And that's about enough for and come to think of it , about a healthy breakfast apple cinnamon smoothie.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy!


Full cream milk- 1 cup
Peeled and chopped apples- 1 cup
Sugar- 1 tbsp (optional)
Vanilla extract- 3-4 drops
Cinnamon powder- 1/2 tsp


Take all ingredients and blend together smooth,

Sprinkle some cinnamon powder.

Pour into a glass and serve.

Friday, 21 November 2014

DIY Savory Indian Snack Mix

Having been terribly sick over the week, I realised this contrary to popular belief, "when sick, you will do all things except the things you would love to". Cooking, in this instance, which explains why I have been unable to post anything here.

Over the week, being propped up on medication which made me sleepy, I had to manage writing articles for clients among other editing and proofing work. I am sure the way I would look at my laptop screen would fetch me the nickname "Squinto" had my friends been around. Nevertheless, I did the work as and when I could but what I desperately missed was cooking. I knew it would make me feel better. I kept imagining various flavors in my mouth and wanted to cook but all energy I had was spent on staring at the laptop screen and moving the fingers on the keyboard.

That was until this morning when I woke up feeling slightly better and decided it was time to create something for myself. Well, a smaller part of this determination was due to my feeling better and the larger part was due to me wanting to have my favorite snack mix that is made of beaten rice. It helped that the recipe did not require much effort. I was sick and I was craving a particular thing. Could you blame me?

It was pure luck that I had all things available. Oh well! It's a snack mix. There are no hard and fast rules about what to add and how much to add. So when I say all things were available, it is because I did not have to be stuck because of a missing ingredient. That's what I like most about snack mixes.

This particular snack mix is probably the humblest version of a snack mix I could create and though I had my doubts, it proved to be one of the best and easiest snack mixes. I am munching on it as I write. It is a pleasure, indeed. But I am squinting again and feel like the fever is catching up to me again. I better finish this fast.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Clove Rice

It's Sunday afternoon and I am writing post lunch. A big, delicious, lazy Sunday lunch. To be honest, I feel like dozing off. This reminds me of my days back in college. The hostel mess had a fixed daily menu and on Sundays we got jeera rice and chhole with raita and a sweet of some kind. And I still harbour this suspicion that our Sunday lunches used to be spiked because as soon as we had lunch we would be engulfed by sleep. I mean it would take literally 10 minutes to fall asleep, no matter what time we woke up that morning and then we used to wake up as if from an unconscious state and sometimes with drool on the pillow.

Today my lunch was the same menu except for one item. I decided to go for my new favorite, clove rice. I love jeera rice but there were two reasons to make this switch today. One, I wanted a change in flavor and two, I wanted to share it with you guys.

Rice is my weak spot and every now and then I want to do something with it that isn't too complex and does not involve a lot of labour. Decidedly, this clove rice has become my favorite rice with whole spices. It has a brilliant neat flavor and all with just one simple ingredient, cloves. Since Indian gravies are so rich and full of flavors, a clean and simple rice with a pronounced flavor is all it takes to make a complete meal. This clove rice is one such rice recipe that neither falls flat like plain rice nor does it overwhelm.

I have had this rice about 4-5 times now with a simple dal, palak paneer, once with plain curd and today with chhole. Every time I have found that this rice complements everything so well that there's no scope to complain. Apart from the flavor itsef, my content might have to do something with the fact that it breaks the dull monotony of jeera rice in my meal. Whatever the reasons, I am truly fond of this rice and recommend you try this for your next Sunday lunch or whenever you please.

My eyes are droopy, I am definitely going to sleep after this.


Long grain rice- 2 cups, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes and drained
Ghee (clarified butter)- 2 tbsp
Bay leaf- 2 nos
Cloves- 10-12 nos
Green chillies, slit- 2 nos
Salt to taste
Water for cooking


Heat ghee in a pressure cooker.

Add bay leaves and cloves. Wait 5 seconds.

Add rice and stir well to coat with ghee. Add slit green chillies.

Keep flame low and fry for 4-6 minutes with frequent stirring.

Add sufficient water and salt. Stir.

Put on the lid and cook on high flame for 2 whistles,

Let pressure release before opening the lid.

Mix gently to loosen rice grains.

Serve hot with gravy of choice.


Warm water before adding to rice. It prevents sticking of rice grains to each other.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Spring Onions with Split Bengal Gram

This Spring Onions with Split Bengal Gram recipe is one of those rustic recipes that you grow up eating and the kind you miss when when you move out of your home. There are recipes that are local to a region and community which are not heard of by others. This is one of such recipes. Certain combinations of ingredients in a dish would become your favorite, if only you knew about them. This is one of those combinations. I am only aware of this recipe because my mother makes it and she came to know it after she got married from my grandmother.

Hearing "spring onions" one thinks of garnishing, salads and soups or Chinese recipes such as spring onion rolls. A spring onion curry doesn't cut the list. A spring onion curry with Bengal grams is not even far fetched. But the concept of it so humble and delicious that it needs to be out there in the world for every one to know for themselves. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Spinach and Pomegranate Salad with Walnuts

The last time I posted a salad recipe, I was set on using veggies that are not available in my town and spent an entire day travelling back and forth another town to procure them. But this time I decided to use what I had and the result is this beautiful fresh salad. I am in love with the colors and the juicy crunch of pomegranate in this salad. I have to admit that otherwise I do not like a lot of nuts in my salads, but walnuts add a welcome flavor addition in this one so I cannot complain too much.

A fresh, uncomplicated salad such as this one is what's cheering me today because there are too many complications to deal with in life anyway. Why make a mess of your food too when there's simplicity to your rescue?  Much like this salad I posted earlier and this one here today, there are times you go out of your way to get the things you want and then one day you have to settle for what you can get because no matter how hard you try to go out and get the things you want, you can't because it's a rainy day; and even if you manage to get on the road somehow, others couldn't have.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Kurkuri Bhindi

This bhindi recipe is one of the many reasons to fawn over it. Kurkuri Bhindi aka Indian Fried Okra is the holy grail of all bhindi recipes. It is super crispy and crunchy, which is why "kurkuri".

It so happened that one of the fellow home cooks on Instagram posted a picture of these mouthwatering, thin, crispy strips of bhindi last night. You can check out his version and mine here and here. A want arose and from there this post wrote itself. This is one of the recipes I had been wanting to post forever and seeing that picture then gave me the push I needed to go ahead and do it.

Think of this okra as potato chips. No matter how hard you try, you can't stop at one. I had a hard time keeping my paws off it as I was clicking pictures for the post. It was made all the more difficult that these looked so great on camera. I wonder if that's how photographers feel about models!

This recipe one of those recipes you should keep in your bag of handy, easy, quick recipes. You will be using it all the time as sides and snacks.