Aug 28, 2011

Monthly Mingle - Scintillating Salads

This is a Monthly Mingle and I invite you all to take part in this mingle by sending in your salad entries. Yes! The theme for this mingle is Scintillating Salads!

Salads are versatile and makes a great start to any meal - incorporating all the goodness and freshness from the freshest ingredients available on the planet. Salads can be served as any part of the meal - appetizer salads, side salads, main course salads, dessert salads etc.

Salad is any of a wide variety of dishes including vegetable salads; salads of legumes, grains, pasta; mixed salads incorporating meat, poultry, seafood; and fruit salads. Green salads include leaf lettuce and leafy vegetables with a sauce and dressing. Other salads are based on pasta, noodles or gelatin. Most salads are traditionally served cold, although some, such as south German potato salad, are served warm.

With umpteen number of options and varieties of salads available, adorn your thinking hats and blog about your favorite salad and send it to the mingle this month!

Here are a few guidelines for the event:
  1. Create a dish that fits the "Scintillating Salads" theme.
  2. Post about it in your blog from now until September 30, 2011 (entries must be in English)
  3. Your creation should be prepared for the current Monthly Mingle theme and shared with a maximum of 2 other blog events.
  4. Please provide a link to this post and the official Monthly Mingle page.
  5. Once you have posted the dish, please send the following details to divyablogs[AT] on or before September 30, 2011.
Now, go start tossing your favorite salads!! Here are some salad ideas!

Aug 25, 2011

Red Chard Kootu

I have always seen red chard and swiss chard in the grocery stores and farmers markets, but they looked huge to me and I have been always reluctant to pick them up. After knowing that the chard family is a storehouse of essential vitamins and minerals I had to buy them.

I made an Indian style kootu with the greens. Kootu is generally made with vegetables, coconut and cooked dhal and served along with rice. I decided to make a similar dish with the red chard. I was surprised that it tasted very much like the arai keerai we get in Tamil Nadu. This has become a regular in my household and I serve it with rice and papads.

Red Chard(can be substituted with swiss chard or any type of greens) - 3 cups
Toor Dal (split pigeon peas) - 3/4 cup
Turmeric Powder - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

To grind
Cumin seeds - 2 teaspoons
Urad dhal - 2 teaspoons
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Red Chillies - 3

Oil - 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Urad dhal - 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida/Hing - 1 pinch
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Red chilly - 1


  1. Wash the red chard leaves thoroughly and chop them roughly along with the red stem.
  2. Cook the toor dal with about 2.5 cups of water and turmeric powder until soft. I pressure cooked the dal to make the process quicker.
  3. In a saucepan, dry roast the two teaspoons of urad dhal until it turns fragrant and brown. Then grind it into a smooth paste along with the other ingredients - grated coconut, cumin seeds and red chillies adding a little water. 
  4. In a heavy bottomed pan, cook the chopped red chard along with the stem in a few tablespoons of water. Once it starts wilting, add the cooked dhal and the ground paste and mix everything together. Season with salt.
  5. In a saucepan, do the tempering by adding oil, mustard seeds, urad dhal, asafoetida, curry leaves and red chilly one by one. Once everything starts spluttering, switch off the stove. 
  6. Pour the seasoning to the cooked chard and dhal and mix well.

Serve along with steamed rice and papads.

Aug 23, 2011

Perfect Pound Cake

Pound cakes are really simple to make and perfect for any occasion! Great along with evening teas; more exotic when served along with a cream cheese or simple lemon frosting; a perfect accompaniment with some strawberry syrup, and amazing with some ice-cream by the side and served as an elegant dessert! However you may serve this cake, this cake sure tastes delicious.

I was unable to bake this cake for last month's sweet punch, but I knew i had to make it sometime after hearing so many good reviews from everyone. I made this one evening and I was surprised when it tasted very much like the cakes we get in the bakeries in my native place.

This pound cake turned out to be moist, fluffy and perfect! It is a foolproof recipe and great for first time bakers! Measure the ingredients, whisk them together and pop it into the oven and delicious pound cake is ready in minutes!

Recipe Source: The Cake Bible
Milk - 3 tablespoons
Eggs - 3 large
Vanilla extract - 1 1/2 teaspoon
Sifted cake flour - 1 1/2 cups
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Baking powder - 3/4 teaspoon
Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
Unsalted butter - 13 tablespoons, softened (184 grams)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F. Butter an 8 x 4 x 2.5 inch loaf pan, or any six cup loaf or fluted tube pan. Lightly whisk together milk, eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl.
  2. Place dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix on low speed for 30 seconds, until blended. Add the butter and half the egg mixture, and mix until dry ingredients are moistened. on medium speed, beat for a minute. This will aerate and develop the cake's structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the remaining egg mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  4. Pour the prepared batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula. bake for 55-65 minutes (35-45 minutes if baking in a fluted tube pan), until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a greased wire rack. if using a loaf pan, flip the cake over so the top is up.

For making Cake Flour at home : Take one cup of all purpose flour and remove 2 tablespoons from it. Replace the 2 tablespoon flour with corn flour and sift together 2 to 3 times. Cake flour is ready to use.

Aug 19, 2011

Home Style Garam Masala from Hari Nayak's Kitchen and a cookbook review

I was contacted by Cheryl Duncan last week asking if I could do a cookbook review, I immediately agreed. A few days later, I received the book and I am already in love with the cookbook. The book looks so appealing and enticing with all its amazing food pictures by Jack Turkel.

"My Indian kitchen - Preparing delicious Indian meals without fear or fuss" by Hari Nayak is a perfect Indian cookbook for every cook - for novice to experts. It has simple recipes like the Sweet Mango Yogurt Lassi to exotic recipes like Samosas and Malabar Crab curry. The book also features recipes of Indian spice mixes to get you started on Indian cooking.

Hari Nayak is a celebrity Indian chef and a restaurateur from New Jersey. Growing up in a coastal rural town, Udipi in southwest India, Hari nayak shares his family's own style of southern Indian cooking that includes meats and seafood. The chef also includes the usual favorites such as his famous melt-in-your-mouth Cafe Spice Chicken Tikka Masala found at Whole Foods hot bars throughout the US.

The book starts with an introduction to indian food which explains that Indian food is much more than just curry! Nayak also gives sample vegetarian and non-vegetarian party menus to get you started. he also gives suggestions on the various wines that pairs beautifully with Indian food. He then gives a few simple techniques and a very interesting introduction to exotic Indian ingredients. The book is then divided into various chapters - Indian spice mixes, chutneys and accompaniments, appetizers, soups and dals, vegetable and cheese dishes, fish and seafood, poultry and meat, bread and rice and finally desserts and drinks.

A few of my favorite recipes from the book which I will be trying very soon..
  • Plum-Tomato chutney with mustard seeds
  • Spicy Paneer Cheese Kebabs
  • Fiery South Indian tomato Soup
  • Mangalore Spiced potatoes
  • Saffron Chicken biryani
  • Flaky Paratha Breads stuffed with potatoes
  • Pistachio Biscotti and Almond Butter Cookies

Here is the first recipe I tried from the cookbook - Home Style Garam Masala. My entire smell is filled with the fragrance of the masala and I cant wait to use the masala in various recipes.

Makes about 2/3 cup (75 grams)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

Cumin seeds - 2 tablespoons
Coriander seeds - 1 tablespoon
Black peppercorns - 1 tablespoon
Cinnamon - one 1/2 inch stick
Green cardamom pods - 10
Whole cloves - 1 teaspoon
Fennel seeds - 1 teaspoon
5 bay leaves

  1. Dry roast the whole spices in a small skillet, over medium heat, stirring until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Remove the spices from the skillet and set aside to let cool completely.
  3. Grind the spices, with the bay leaves, in an electric spice grinder or mixer to a fine powder.
  4. Store in an air tight jar for up to 4 to 6 weeks.

Aug 17, 2011


Attention Chicago area Friday's® fans! Head on over to your local Friday's® now to pick 2 items for only $10!

Enjoy two of Friday's® delicious specials (including appetizers, entrees, and desserts):
  • Spinach Florentine Flatbread
  • Savory Dragonfire Chicken
  • Pan-Seared Parmesan Flounder
  • Delicious Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
This offer is available every night of the week! For the full menu being offered, please visit this page for details.

Please not that this promotion is also available to those residing in Indianapolis, Baltimore and West Palm Beach. Make your next eat out memorable for your family by visiting TGI Friday!

Note: “This sponsorship is brought to you by Friday's® who we have partnered with for this promotion.”

Aug 12, 2011

Foodbuzz - Kodak Tastemaker Outreach

I was one of the lucky recipients of the Kodak Photo Book offered as part of the FoodBuzz Tastemaker Outreach Program. I had real fun putting together my photo book. It was similar to a scrapbook project. The photo books showcase your amazing photographs as an elegant collection. The photo books come in various sizes both in hardcover and as a paperback.

At Kodak Gallery, it is easy to create photo books and photo albums. Start by choosing a book size and style. The choose between two ways to make your photo book. If you are short on time, just load your pictures and watch them flow into your book instantly. But, you can easily move your photos around and add fun, finishing touches to customize your photo book your way. Prefer to give more consideration to every detail of photo book creation and manage every customization detail yourself? Then choose the alternative method that enables you to set your own pace. Either way that you choose results in a one-of-a-kind photo book you can cherish and be proud of. Kodak also offers volume pricing on most products. So the more you buy, the more you save. As with all Kodak Gallery products, the photo books and photo albums are backed by their 100% satisfaction guarantee.

to know more on how to create photo books. KODAK Gallery is also providing an exclusive offer to my readers; 40% off a medium hardcover or a large Photo Book. Visit and order your photo book.  The offer is only available through this URL from 8/1/11 - 8/31/11.

Aug 10, 2011

Kathirikkai Pulikuzhambu/ Eggplant or brinjal in a tamarind sauce

This is a curry made with eggplant/brinjal simmered in a tamarind based sauce and often part of lunches especially in South Indian households. Amma makes puli kuzhambu atleast once a week with different vegetables like brinjal, drumstick, okra/ladies finger etc. She adds a lot of garlic which gives a nice flavor to the curry. This tastes great especially with cooked rice and some papads or vadagam or omelette to accompany it.

Eggplant/Brinjal (the smaller variety) - 8 to 10
Tamarind extract - from a lemon sized ball of tamarind
Onion - 1/2 medium sized
Garlic - 10 cloves or as per taste (optional)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Chilli powder or all-purpose curry powder - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste

For tempering
Oil - 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Urad dal - 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves - few


  1. Soak the tamraind in warm water for about 15 to 20 minutes. Squeeze out the pulp to get tamarind extract.
  2. Chop the onions. Also slice the brinjal/eggplant lengthwise.
  3. In a pressure cooker or a kadai, do the tempering with oil, mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. once they start spluttering, add the onions and saute till they turn translucent for about a minute.
  4. Add the peeled garlic and saute for a minute.
  5. Add the sliced brinjal/eggplant, salt, turmeric powder and the chilli powder/all-purpose curry powder and stir well.
  6. Finally add the tamarind extract and about half cup of water.
  7. Pressure cook for about 3 whistles. If using a kadai, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the brinjal and the garlic becomes tender.
  8. Allow the sauce to simmer until you get the required consistency.

Serve with rice and papads.

Aug 1, 2011

Cauliflower kuzhambu / Cauliflower Curry

This is simple and elegant curry made with cauliflower and tastes great with some cooked rice. It can also be enjoyed along with some chapatis or rotis. it is a one pot dish and can be made in minutes using a pressure cooker. The mild red color of the curry comes from the all purpose curry powder/ kuzhambu masala podi. It mildly spices the curry and is very flavorful.

Cauliflower florets - 2 cups
Onion - 1/2

Oil - 1 spoon
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Urad dal - 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 1 sprig

Salt to taste

To grind into a coarse paste
Onion - 1/2
Tomato - 2
Grated coconut - 2 tablespoons
All purpose curry powder/ kuzhambu masala podi - 1 tablespoon


  1. Wash the cauliflower florets and blanch them in hot water and set them aside.
  2. Grind all the ingredients listed above into a coarse paste.
  3. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and temper with the mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. once everything starts spluttering add half the chopped onion and saute until it turns translucent.
  4. Add the blanched cauliflower florets along with some salt and saute for a minute.
  5. Then add the ground masala and stir well.
  6. Add a cup of water, close the cooker with a lid and cook until 3 whistles. If using a kadai instead of a pressure cooker, cook for about 10 minutes, until the cauliflower florets get well cooked.
  7. Adjust salt and garnish with cilantro/coriander leaves.

Serve with warm rice and some papad for a delicious lunch!

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