Saturday, February 28, 2009


Happy happy Saturday!!! And really happy because I took a trip down memory lane. Let me begin at.... well, the beginning. (heh heh,sheepish grin). Today was Princess' blood work and I was really worried. We didn't tell her beforehand for fear of her tears. I thought maybe once we're there we'd prepare her slowly. Unfortunately, we walked in to another child's hysterical sobbing. He was compltetely inconsolable. And I was very apprehensive that now she too would become scared. Thankfully there was no waiting, they took us in immediately. The highlight was that there was not even a flinch from Princess !! Yes ! She was just amazing and that brought more tears to me. I must say I feel so very proud of her.
Then we went to Oak Tree Road for lunch. For those who are new to this Road all I can say is that it's all Indian out there. You'll find a plethora of Indian restaurants, sweet shops, Kirana shops (kirana = groceries), clothing stores and all and sundry items' stores. But no no, this is not my trip down mem lane. Be patient.
We went to eat in Desi Galaxy as both me and VC are partial to it. The interior is a bit cramped and the food stalls are lined up railway carriage style. But the food (from all 7 stalls) is very good. We started off with our favorite - the Cut Mirchi. And we recently added another usual to our list - delicious Boiled Egg Kheema ( no meat yay!). Princess wanted Puri-Sabzi from the Gujarati stall. And while waiting for that order, I was unexpectedly shoved down that happy memory lane. A lady walks up and asks for an order of ' Daal-Baati' and is served pronto. I was amazed, simply because I never expected to see that particular item on any menu outside of Rajasthan or a Maarwaadi restaurant. My excitement at hearing those words from somebody else's mouth, after so many years, was paramount. I just had to have it and I did. YUMMY! God bless the lady in that kitchen who made it.
Panchmel Daal with Baati - Traditional Rajasthani food

The 'Daal-Baati ' was really tasty and aunthentic. Though I kept wondering where they had a ' choolha ' (a U-shaped open air clay stove that uses wood fire for cooking). The traditional way to cook 'Baati' is to place the dough balls on the embers left over once the fire has died, and to keep turning them ocassionally to cook evenly on all sides. The outside is nice and charred. The inside is fully cooked albeit a little heavy because it is a lump of dough. To be truthful, it's an acquired taste. But it grows on you after a while and the authentic version is really tasty. And the real reason for that is - the 'Baati' is supposed to be dunked in Ghee ( clarified butter) and the Daal also has a layer of Ghee on it while being served. Can't get much better than that, eh?
But 'Daal and Baati' is not the end of the story. The traditional Rajasthani Thali (literally - a plate, that holds all the items on the menu) will have all of the following items :
Gatte ki Subzi
Lahsun ki Chutney

Rajasthani food is spicy (as in hot!!!) and relies heavily on lentils-pulses and milk products (like buttermilk, butter and of course Ghee). This is attributed to the fact that Rajasthan is India's Desert State and as such, has limited water supply and few green vegetables.
malai-ghevar: a sweet delicacy from Rajasthan

There are other regional specialities as well which are not as well-known as the above, but very popular locally. Malai Ghevar, Rabdi, Mawa Kachori, Malpuas are just some in that list. But that is not all. What the home cooks prepare for daily meals are probably the best kept secrets. And growing up in Rajasthan, I had the fortune of tasting such local preparations in my friends' homes. The two that clearly stand out in my memory - Papad ki Sabzi and Amrood ki Sabzi. Maybe one day, I'll try making them and then post the recipes, but not today. I have other recipes waiting in the drafts that want to be posted :-) Hope you liked this glimpse of food from Rajasthan and maybe I've piqued your interest to go out and try this lesser known but delicious cuisine. Whether you make it or get it, Rajasthani food will make you very Happy, I assure you.
pictures courtesy of google images(love2eathate2cook blog etc.). No copyright infringement intended.

Monday, February 23, 2009


This is a continuation from my previous Italian cuisine post. I have given here some of the recipes I featured on my last radio show. And the sources are listed below each recipe.
1) Struffoli are small fritters glued together with honey and decorated with sprinkles. It is a Neapolitan dish made of deep fried balls of dough about the size of marbles. They are crunchy on the outside, light inside and are traditionally served with honey, bits of orange rind and chopped nuts. They grace the table at Christmas and Easter and are perfect when served warm.

6 eggs
6 tbsp. cooking oil
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup dry sherry
Shortening or oil for deep frying

Mix first 6 ingredients. Add enough flour to make a consistency to roll. Dough should be somewhat sticky. Shape into small balls, about 1/2 inch in diameter. Deep fry in oil or shortening until golden brown.
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups honey
1 tbsp. orange zest
Mix all ingredients on low heat until sugar is dissolved. Dip each roll into mixture and remove. or you could make the glaze in a wide-mouthed pot and put the fritters into it. Stir to coat all of them and transfer them to serving dishes before decorating with sprinkles.
recipe courtesy:

2) Frico - It is simply fried cheese, mainly Montasio cheese. Being a simple dish it has been around for a long time. And being made of cheese, this is one recipe that I might never try on my own. Both me and VC run away from cheese:-D heh heh heh But I hope to visit Italy some day and while there, I hope to taste this too. Can't get much fresher than that.


10 ounces (250 g) fresh or moderately aged Montasio cheese, grated
scant pound (400 g) potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup unsalted butter or olive oil

Heat the fat in a skillet and sauté the potatoes for a few minutes, or until they begin to soften and brown, then add the cheese and continue cooking, shaking the pan every now and then so the cheese gets to the bottom of the potato mixture; once the bottom of the mixture has begun to brown carefully slide it out onto a plate using a spatula (you don't want to break the frico), then invert the frico back into the pan so you end up with the browned side up (as you would while flipping a frittata). Continue cooking the frico for a few minutes more, until the underside is also brown; it should have a crunchy skin and a soft inside. The total cooking time of the cheese will be about 12-15 minutes.
Note: If you cannot find Montasio, use young Grana Padano cheese.
Hope somebody out there who's not afraid of cheese will try this and like it. Afterall cheese is one of the best comfort foods and thus brings warmth to your tummy and grins to your face.
recipe courtesy:
photo courtesy: google images.
No copyright infringement intended.


Today is Maha Shivaratri. Literal meaning - " The Great Night of Shiva". It is one of the most important days for Shiva devotees. The day is decided based on the lunar calendar followed by most Indians. It is considered to be a very auspicious day and majority of the devotees observe Vrata (fasting) and Jaagaran (sleepless vigil through the night). Married women fast for the long life and health of their spouses. Unmarried girls observe the fast on this day as it is believed this will bring them a husband like Shiva himself ( Shiva is considered to be the ideal husband ). Staunch ritual followers go without even a drop of water, but most of the people observe a milk, liquids and fruits diet. To make it easier for all the family(including children and the elderly) to participate in the fasting, different regions have come up with fasting food recipes. It allows for a number of grains, vegetables and some spices to be used on this day. Mostly, I think that any Saatvik food ( fresh, less spicey) may pass as a fasting food.
About sixteen years ago I heard of a very popular fasting food for this day - Sabudana Khichdi. And to be very honest, I started fasting from that year onwards to be able to make and eat this yummy khichdi. The religious and spiritual aspect caught up with me a little later ( thankfully!!) but I lost touch with the khichdi. Probably because I never had a recipe all those years ago and the two times I made it, I could not get it out of the karahi nor could I get the ladle out of the lump. :-D ha ha ha.
Fast forward to 2008 and thanks to Google sher, I got the recipe. And it really is yummy!!! I made it a few times already and turns out perfect everytime. So that's what is on the menu today.
Sabudana Khichdi (a dish made of tapioca pearls )
Aaloo sabzi (Potato curry, very mild)
Pesara kattu ( a simple daal using Moong Dal)
Semia payasam
Of course I'll have to post the recipes after I make them. And in the meantime, I hope to fast keeping in mind what I'm fasting for ( VC, Princess and all my friends and family), not just the food. In short all the blessings in my life given me by Shiva since the first time I observed fast on Maha Shivaratri. And most of all I am going to fast and give thanks for the ability to see and remember the Happiness of Life and Living.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Let me begin by saying that I believe Indian Cuisine is the best. That was how I started yesterday's show and I know it to be true. Indian vegetarian cuisine is best, both in taste as well as nutritionally. But that does not mean we should restrict ourselves to just Indian food all the time. We as in foodies and Indians in general, should explore other cuisines as well. And here in the good ole' USofA we have the oppurtunity to do just that.
So my choice of cuisine for the show was - Italian. One thing I would like to mention here is that restaurant food is not exactly the aunthentic fare that one might experience in the country itself. But even if you visit Italy (r any other country for that matter) these days, most restaurants sport generalised menus that cater to the tastes of tourists. So to taste aunthentic food, you might have to walk off the beaten tourist path. Try going into the hidden alleys and out of the way taverns. That is where one will find a piece of authenticity waiting to be savored by the truly hungry foodie. Some of the recipes I mention here are ones you will not find in any Olive Garden or Johnny Carino's. Hope you try them and like 'em too.

As with any cuisine, Italian was influenced by cultural, political as well as geographical influences. Even though Italy seems to be a small country, it has twenty different regions, each with its own distinct food - dishes and cooking techniques. More significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World. Italian cuisine as we know it today, was much influenced by the introduction of items like potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize. These are an important part of the cuisine today, but weren't widely used till the 18th century. Ingredients and dishes vary by region and some regional dishes have become national. Many dishes have regional variations across the country. Cheese and wine play an important role in Italian cuisine, as does Coffee, and more specifically Espresso.

Meals in Italy will have at least 3-4 courses. In many Italian homes today, the traditional menu is reserved for special occasions and daily meals are limited to 2 courses, a side dish and coffee. Traditionally the menu would look like this:

Apertivo - Aperitifs enjoyed as appetizers before a heavy meal. These include Campari, Prosecco, Spritz, Vermouth etc.

Antipasto - It means 'before the meal' and consists of hot and/or cold appetizers.

Primo - The first course, usually a hot, filling dish like pasta, risotto, gnocchi or soup.

Secondo - The second course, consisting of meat or fish.

Contorno - Means ' side dish' and is salad or cooked vegetables.

Formaggio e Frutta - 'Cheese and Fruits' which is the first dessert. Local cheese makes an appearance here in addition to Antipasto or the side dish.

Dolce - Of course 'Dessert', like cakes and cookies.


Digestivo/Ammazzacaffe - Liquors/liqeurs like Amaro, Limoncello, Sambuca which are sometimes referred to as Ammazzacaffe meaning Coffee killer.

Italians consider meals as a time to spend with family anf friends. As such the lunch or dinner may be longer than in most Western cultures. And it is as it should be. Hard earned food should be savored with much loved family. (Sigh!) I wish that all of us were granted with that bit of happiness. Well tomorrow is Saturday so I can aim for the happiness of making and eating some Italian food with my family. So come back day-after and I promise to post those recipes by then. Ciao and Xin Fu to you !

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I am going to continue with the glossary list today. And as the cute picture above suggests, its going to be about veggies. Ummm, yumm!! The important note - H in braces means name in Hindi, Te means name in Telugu ( one of the major South Indian languages).

Root Vegetables:
  1. Potato - Aaloo (H), Bangaladumpa (Te)
  2. Onion - Pyaz (H), Ulli paya (Te)
  3. Garlic - Lahsun/Lassan (H), Velulli paya (Te)
  4. Ginger - Adrak (H), Allam (Te)
  5. Colocasia - Arvi/Arbi (H), Chemadumpa/Chemagadda (Te)
  6. Carrot - Gaajar (H), carrot (Te)
  7. Turnip - Shalgam (H),
  8. Sweet Potato - Shakarkand (H), Chilakada dumpa (Te)
  9. Beetroot - Chukunder (H),
  10. Yam (elephant yam ) - Jami kand or Ratalu or Suran (H), Kanda (Te)
  11. Radish / Daikon - Mooli (H), Mullangi (Te)
  12. Tapioca root/ Cassava/ Yucca - Simla Aaloo (H), Pendalam (Te)
  13. Celery - Ajmud/ Ajmoda (H), Vaamaaku (Te)


  1. Ash Gourd - Petha kaddu (H), Budida Gummadi kaya (Te)
  2. Amaranth leaves - Chauli/ Chowli patte (H), Thotakoora
  3. Aubergine/ Brinjal - Baingan (H), Vankaya (Te)
  4. Artichoke - Hathi chak (H),
  5. Asparagus - Shatwar/ Halyan (H),
  6. Avocado - Makhan phal (H),
  7. Broad/ Fava beans - Papdi lilva (H), Chikkudu kaya (Te)
  8. Bitter gourd - Karela (H), Kakara kaya (te)
  9. Bell Peppers/ Capsicum - Simla Mirch (H), Bangalore Mirchi (Te)
  10. Bottle gourd/ Opo squash - Lauki/ Ghia (H), Anapa kaya/ Sora kaya (Te)
  11. Cabbage - Bandh/Patta Gobhi (H), cabbage (Te)
  12. Cauliflower - Phool Gobhi (H), cauliflower (Te)
  13. Cluster Beans - Guar/ Guwar Phalli (H), Goruchikkudu kaya (te)
  14. Corn - Makka/Makai (h), corn
  15. Cucumber - Kheera (H), Dosakai (Te)
  16. Chow-Chow/ Chayote squash - (h), Bangalore Katrikaya (Te)
  17. Drumstick - Saijam/ Shinga Phalli (h), Mullakkada/ Munnakai (te)
  18. Eggplant - see aubergine
  19. Green Peas - Matar (H), Pachi Batani (te)
  20. Fresh/ Frech beans - Pharas beans (H), beans
  21. Ivy gourd/ Gherkin - Tindora/ Tindli (H), Dondakaya (te)
  22. Jack fruit - Kathal (H), Panasa kaya (Te)
  23. Lady's fingers/ Okra - Bhindi (H), Benda kaya (Te)
  24. Mushrooms - Kukkur mutta/ Khumbi (H), Kukka(Putta) Godugulu (te)
  25. Olives - Zetoon/ Jaitun (H),
  26. Pumpkin - Kaddu (h), Gummadi kaya (te)
  27. Ribbed/ Ridge gourd or Courgette - Turai or Tori (H), Beerakaya (TE)
  28. Snake gourd - Chichinda or Chirchira (H), Potlakaya (te)
  29. Spring onions - Hara Pyaz (H), Ulli kada (te)
  30. Tomatoes - Tamatar (H), Tamata (te)

And those are some veggie translations for you. Of course, the list is in no way compelete, yet. In further postings I hope to put up names of fruits and dry fruits as well. And some indigenous vegetables have been left out just because I have never seen them in US markets. And looking at this list I understand for the first time - Indian vegetarian diet is truly the healthy way to live. With ample use of different pulses, legumes and beans, each meal provides a complete profile nutrition-wise. There is just so much variety of vegetables grown and each part of India has developed such distinctive cuisine based on it, that we don't miss meat. So let's make sure we eat these veggies to achieve better health. As the old adage goes " Health is Wealth". But more importantly, I say, "Health is Happiness".

pictures from google images. No copyright infringement intended.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Long time no write. Yes, this time it's been a very long gap before I could write here. I have so many things to write but I'll continue with my last thought based on my last blog entry. And that is a Glossary of items required in your pantry for Indian cooking. I have categorized them as basic and advanced depending on your interests and skills.

Basic Spices and Ingredients:
  1. Jeera - Cumin seeds
  2. Rai - Mustard seeds
  3. Haldi - Turmeric powder
  4. Hing - Asafoetida powder
  5. Lahsun/Lassan - Garlic
  6. Adrak - Ginger
  7. Mirchi pd - Chilli/Cayenne pepper powder
  8. Dhania - Coriander (cilantro) seeds
  9. Hara Dhania - Cilantro (coriander) leaves, fresh
  10. Pudina - Mint leaves
  11. Kari patta/ Meetha neem - Curry leaves ( small leaves used sparingly for seasoning food)

Advanced Spices and Ingredients:

  1. Elaichi - green Cardamom pods
  2. Badi Elaichi - brown Cardamom pods (larger in size than green. Badi = Big)
  3. Dalchini/ Dalcheeni - Cinnamon bark
  4. Tej Patta - Bay Leaf
  5. Khus-khus - Poppy seeds (tiny white seeds)
  6. Sonf/Saunf - Fennel seeds/ Aniseeds
  7. Shah/Sha Jeera - Caraway seeds
  8. Ajwain - Carom seeds
  9. Methi seeds - Fenugreek seeds
  10. Kali Mirch - Black Pepper
  11. Lal Mirch - Red Chilli peppers (whole, dried )
  12. Hari Mirch - Green chilli peppers (whole, fresh)
  13. Javitri/Japatri - Mace
  14. Jaiphal - Nutmeg (both the above spices come from same tree but have distinct flavor)
  15. Kalonji - Onion seeds/Nigella seeds
  16. Laung/Lavang - Cloves
  17. Chironji seeds - Cudpahnut seeds
  18. Sonth/Saunth - Ginger (dry)
  19. Gud - Jaggery
  20. Til seeds - Sesame seeds

And those are the spices and common ingredients found in the average Indian kitchen. But this is not the end of the list. There is so much more to the Indian pantry and refrigerator that I am going to put up another list in a different post. And hope that it will be helpful for everybody who loves Indian food and want to make it. So keep coming back and find what you need right here. Hope that the link to penzeys spices will be an interesting browse.

picture courtesy No copyright infringement intended.