Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Gula Melaka Syrup Recipe

It must have been so thankful to see the light of the day. It's been lying in the refrigerator since I got it from Singapore almost a year back. Oh, I am talking about gula melaka.

Gula Melaka

Gula melaka is a palm sugar made from the sap of coconut trees. Gula melaka has a beautiful rich, malty taste with notes of butterscotch flavour. It is a regular ingredient of South East Asian cooking, especially desserts. It is served over shaved ice in a kechang, poured over sago in a sago pudding, put into falooda-like drinks with sago, coconut milk and fresh tropical fruits. To every dish, it brings a uniquely sweet flavour that you will crave.

Think of innovative ways to use this syrup. I am coming up with some in the next few days!!
Gula Melaka Syrup Recipe

It is very easy to make a syrup of this sugar. It takes 2 ingredients and 10 minutes. The results, however, are priceless!

Gula Melaka Syrup Recipe

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes


150 gms gula melaka chopped
60 ml water


Chop the gula melaka into small pieces.

Heat a small pan and add the water and gula melaka.

After the water warms a little, lower the flame.

Keep stirring till the gula melaka melts gently into the water. Do not put it on high flame, or it will burn the sugar.

Remove from heat, and pour it in another cold vessel.

Let it cool completely into a thick golden syrup before you store.

Friday, 27 March 2015

10 Quick Weekend Brunch Recipes

It's Friday! The day of the week everyone looks forward to. It's the last working day of the week which means weekend's going to be here soon!

10 Quick Weekend Brunch Recipes

Weekends mean waking up late, cooking easy and delicious meals and eating it with family and friends. Weekends mean brunches where kids look forward to treats, and older kids like us look forward to more treats!  

Here are ten delicious weekend brunch recipes that are quick to make and very yummy!

1. Veg Coleslaw Sandwich

Veg Coleslaw Sandwich
This is the most popular recipe on my blog. I've made a vegetarian version of the sandwich. It has a lightly flavoured garlicky yoghurt spread, with lots of crunchy veggies. Make it 15 minutes in advance, chill the spread a bit and serve fresh!

2. Masala Upma

Masala Upma

Masala upma is my take on the breakfast classic. I've used congruent tastes of rasam powder to spice up the traditional upma. Serve hot with a squeeze of lime and see it dissapear!

3. Waldorf Salad

Waldorf Salad

Waldorf salad is an American classic. Fresh sweet red apples are mixed with hints of sharp celery, crunchy walnuts and served in a creamy mayo dressing. The best way to have this is chilled and served on lettuce.

4. Fettucine in Pesto Sauce

Fettucine in Pesto Sauce
This one is for the kids! Which kid doesn't love pasta? Make the pesto sauce in advance. Cook this noodle pasta in 10 minutes, toss it with sauce and top it with parmesan, or your kid's favourite cheese. Serve with lots of love.

5. Homemade Apple Cinnamon Jam

Homemade Apple Cinnanmon Jam
Brunch can never be complete without some hot buttered toast slathered with a thick layer of jam. Make some homemade apple cinnamon jam for your next brunch. It takes about half an hour to make and is not rocket science! Feel free to gather all the praises!

6. Pan Seared Aubergines with a Yoghurt Dip

Pan Seared Aubergines with a Yoghurt Dip
Having friends over for brunch? Cook something 'fancy' in 15 minutes for them. This recipe preserved the flavour of aubergines and mixes it up with a light, refreshing yoghurt dip. Worried that your friends (of you for that matter) don't like aubergines? Trust me, people who hate aubergines have loved this dish and eaten loads of it!

7. Homemade Pizza Sauce for Pizzas

Pizza with Homemade Pizza Sauce

Satisfy your weekend pizza cravings (I know you have them!) with pizzas made from a homemade sauce. It takes 10 minutes to make this sauce. You'll have something fresh and preservative free (which just tastes so much better!) on your pizzas. Trust me, your phone-dialling for pizzas is about to go down quite a bit!

8. Veg Hakka Noodles

Veg Hakka Noodles
This is another very popular recipe on my blog. A dish that is the favourite of adults and kids alike. It's very easy to make and the recipe demands for quick cooking as the technique to get the flavours right. So there you have it... a perfect recipe for a weekend brunch! 

9. Mooli Ke Paranthe

Mooli ke Paranthe
Do you crave carbs when you wake up on weekend mornings (or afternoons?) How do hot parathas sound? Make these mooli ke paranthe in 15 minutes. They are bursting with taste and love. Sounds like you need just a dollop of butter and a plate now.

10. Kulhad Masala Chai

Kulhad Masala Chai
Is your first thought of the day "chai!" like me? Then brew yourself this spicy, sweet decoction and you won't be disappointed. You'll simply be hooked!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Kolimbi Chi Khichdi (Prawns Khichdi/ Pulao) Recipe

I've achieved yet another distinction in my cooking. For the first time I've made 'kolimbi chi khichdi' (mostly) by myself and it turned out pretty tasty!

Kolimbi Chi Khichdi (Prawns Khichdi/ Pulao) Recipe
Kolimbi chi khichdi is a family favourite for us.  We make it at least once in every two weeks. When we can't think of what to make for dinner (and there are prawns in the refrigerator) this is our go-to dish.

Kolimbi Chi Khichdi (Prawns Khichdi/ Pulao) Recipe

Kolimbi chi khichdi can make for a great one-dish meal for lunch or dinner. It has carbs from rice and proteins from prawns. There are quite some spices and fresh herbs in it that bring a lot of flavour.

Kolimbi Chi Khichdi (Prawns Khichdi/ Pulao) Recipe

While we use a homemade spice mix (baazaracha laal masala) for this recipe, store-brought red garam masala works just as well for this recipe. Garam masala has a lot of the spices in it that are there in our homnemade spice blend, so it works out great! 

Kolimbi Chi Khichdi (Prawns Khichdi/ Pulao) Recipe

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4


For the marinated prawns:

150 gms medium-sized prawns: defrosted, de-shelled and de-veined
1/2 cup packed corriander leaves
5 cloves of garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp baazaracha laal masala/ garam masala
Salt to taste

For the khichdi

3 tbsps oil (peant/ sunflower/ olive)
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp turmeric
1 inch cinnamon stick
3 medium sized onions thinly sliced
3 tsps baazaracha laal masala/ garam masala
2 cups of rice soaked
4 1/4 cups hot water
Marinated prawns
Salt to taste

Fresh corriander leaves to garnish

Ghee and lemon wedges for serving


Grind the corriander, garlic and ginger with 2 tsps of water to make a smooth paste.

In a bowl, mix the prawns with about 4 tbsps of the paste above, salt, asafoetida, turmeric and laal/ garam masala.

Coat the prawns well with the mixture. Cover and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes.

In a deep kadhai (if you have a brass one, use that!) heat the oil.

Add in the asafoetida, turmeric and the cinnamon stick and fry for about 10-15 seconds.

Put the thinly sliced onions in and fry till they turn translucent and slightly pink. Do not let them go red or brown or they will overcook when the khichdi is boiling in the water.

Now put in the laal/ garam masala, salt and stir well.

Add the soaked rice and mix well.

Pour in 4 cups of the hot water and cover and cook for about 5 minutes on a low flame.

When the rice is partly cooked, add in the marinated prawns with the marinade. 

Put in 1/4th cup of the hot water and mix well.

Cover and cook on a low flame for about 15 minutes till the rice is cooked. Use a thin iron plate under the vessel if it overheats.

Serve hot with ghee, a squeeze of lemon and lots of love.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Kerala Style Red Coconut Chutney Recipe

You wake up in the morning: still half asleep. Then you remember that you will be having idlis for breakfast. What excitement! And to remember that you've also put red chillies to soak for your favourite chutney... trust me, that just wakes you up!

Idlis with Kerala Style Red Coconut Chutney (Recipe)

This chutney is a particular favourite of my husband. Every time we had it at any restaurant, he'd say, "Please learn how to make this!" I used Google to search for some recipes, added my two cents, and voila! I've come up with a recipe for this chutney that he likes!  Success!

Kerala Style Red Coconut Chutney Recipe

Kerala Style Red Coconut Chutney Recipe

Preparation Time: 30 minutes (to soak the red chillies)
Making Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 4


For the chutney

3 dried kashmiri red chillies 
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 medium onion sliced
3 cloves garlic peeled
1 cup grated fresh coconut
Salt to taste

For the tempering

1 tbsp oil (peanut/ sunflower/ rice-bran)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
5-6 curry leaves
1/2 tsp white udad dal (skinless split black gram) (optional)


De-seed the dried kashmiri red chillies and soak them in the warm water for about 20-25 minutes. 

In a grinder, grind together the soaked chillies, onion and garlic first for about 30 seconds. 

Then add the grated coconut, salt and half the water the chillies have been soaked in. Grind for about 1 minute till it's a little smooth. Adjust salt and water if required.

Remove in a bowl and keep ready for tempering.

Heat the oil in a tempering pan on low heat. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida and let them crackle. 

Now add the curry leaves and fry on low heat till crispy. 

Lastly, add in the udad dal and fry till slightly red. 

Pour this tempering on the chutney. 

Mix well and serve. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

5 Unusual Food Courses

This morning I saw an interesting email from my brother in law in my inbox. It was about a Level 1 course on wines by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust of London. Reading that email reminded me of a tea sommelier course that I've heard about and always wanted to do, except it's not easily available in India.

5 Unusual Food Courses, Source: Coursera Certificate

This got me thinking about finding out more about unusual food courses (because I am a geek and proud to be one!). So here's a list of 5 food couses that are off the beaten track.

1. The Science of Gastronomy:

Ever drooled over Heston Blumenthal? Or the  food he cooks? It seems like magic at times, doesn't it? Nope, it's just science taken to another level!

Science of Gastronomy course

The Science of Gastronomy is an online course offered by Coursera. It starts with some basic principles of science that are relevant to cooking. Then it builds up to a crescendo of how to use them to make your meals tastier!

I've successfully completed this course and it's an absolutely delightful learning experience. The science explained is very easy to understand. And it really makes planning new recipes and dishes interesting and easier.

2. Tea Sommelier:

If you love tea like I do, then this one is for you! It is definitely on my list of courses I want to take up.

Tea Sommelier: If you know about this tea, you ought to take it! 

A tea sommelier (like a wine sommelier) has formal training about tea. These courses are not just about tea preparation and serving or food pairing with tea (yes, you can do that). They're also about the history of tea, plantation of tea, production of different types of tea etc. It's a hands -on course too. For example have tea tasting sessions in which you just taste different types of teas (sometimes up to 100 teas in one day)  for days in a row and make notes about them. This helps develop your taste palate for tea.

3. The Ethics of Eating

No, it's not about table manners.

Source: https://www.edx.org/school/cornellx

The Ethics of Eating course is being offered on edx by Cornell. It deals with the bigger questions about eating. The course deals with the ethical and philosophical questions like animal rights, sustainability etc of what you choose to buy and eat. They've a pretty interesting line up of experts joining this discussion: philosophers, food scientists, activists, industry specialists, food writers and farmers.

4. Edible Landscaping:

An edible landscaping course is all about growing your own food.

Edible Landscaping Course: Souce: http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/edible-landscapes.html

It covers designing, creating and maintaining a low maintenance edible garden. An edible landscaping course will have modules on natural and eco-systems, designing and drawing the landscape to scale, specific aspects of growing plants and practical sessions.

5. Cooking Vacations

These are not really courses in a formal sense, but then I've already said that I am looking at unusual food courses.

Cooking Vacations: Source: http://www.theinternationalkitchen.com/

Cooking vacations are quite popular in Europe and growing quite fast in India. It works very simply: you take a scenic location, mix it with a great food culture and top it off with chefs teaching you how to cook local food. Something pretty basic that you as a cooking fanatic and your family (which may not be much into cooking) can both enjoy.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Gujarati Osaman and Chhuti Dal Recipe

A memory: my granny telling me a story, mixing together soft rice with warm chhuti dal and slightly spicy osaman. Then she puts in a dollop of homemade fragrant ghee and a squeeze of fresh lemon. She mixes it to a soft mushy texture that I like and feeds me the first bite.

Gujarati Osaman Recipe

Osaman is to Gujaratis what rasam is to Tamils. A warm, comforting broth spiced with home-y memories. It is a thin and tangy broth with warm cinnamon and pungent clove. The real flavour of osaman is in the fragrance of the ghee tempering that fills your home with an appetising and comforting smell.

Gujarati Osaman Recipe

Chhuti dal is the flavoured boiled dal that adds volume to osaman and steamed rice when being eaten. The usual way of eating osaman and rice is by adding some chhuti dal to it. You can add some ghee and a squeeze of lemon for more flavour.

Chhuti Dal Recipe

Gujarati Osaman and Chhuti Dal Recipe

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 4


1 cup toor dal
3 cups water
2 tsps cumin seeds
2 tsps turmeric powder
2 tbsps ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
6-8 curry leaves
1/2 inch piece of cinnamon bark
2 cloves
1 tsp red chilly powder
2-3 pieces of dried kokum/ tamarind
1 tbsp jaggery
2 tsps finely chopped corriander
2 tsps grated fresh coconut (optional)
Salt to taste


Wash and soak the toor dal for about 15 minutes. Pressure cook it with the 3 cups of water, a little salt, 1 tsp cumin seeds and 1 tsp turmeric powder.

When cooked, drain the excess water and keep it aside. Then mash the dal to a mushy texture. That's your chhuti dal!

To the excess water, add about 2 tbsps of the chhuti dal. Blend well together.

Heat ghee in a pan. Temper with mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves.

Add the cinnamon and cloves and fry for about 15 seconds.

Add turmeric and red chilly powder and fry for another 20 seconds, making sure they don't burn.

Now add in the water of the dal prepared above. Savour the fragrance for a bit!

Put in the kokum pieces and the jaggery. Stir and bring to a boil.

Lower the flame and add fresh corriander, grated coconut and salt. Let it boil for another 5-7 minutes till the flavours are released.

Serve hot!