July 29, 2011

Ammama's Signature Recipes: Kova Billalu & Kobbari Undalu

I could talk about my grandmom (ammama; mother's mom) for hours together. She is one person who taught me to keep smiling always (like she does) and with age, she is becoming cuter & cuter. My grandad (tatayya) was one serious yet affable personality. It is rarity to see him laugh and when he does, it is a treat to watch for all of us. So, whenever we needed something like 25 paise for a peppermit goli, we used to first run to ammama, hug & then beg her to grant our wishes which she inevitably always does. I fervently think that our grandparents are a blessing in disguise and their presence make our lives much more fuller & happier, no mater what our age is and how 'big' we become.

Both of them, today are signature recipes of my ammama. She is one pro in making them, so as usual I begged her for the recipes. It is funny how she talks any recipe in approximations like a fistful, little less than a fistful.. I am like - please please give me actual measurements & she again starts off saying - add a small teaspoon of this & that. It took a while for her to talk in terms of "cups", "tablespoons" and "teaspoons".

I hope you enjoy them both as much as we did since we were little kids. She used to even pack these every time I returned back to US. Now that we are here, she make them often for her daughters, granddaughters, sons & grandsons, that is about 5-6 households ;-).

We love you ammama.. muaaahhh.

Ammama, posing for the camera. She was so shy, it took me 5 shots to get to this one..;-)

Kova Billalu (Khoya Balls)


Recipe Source: My grandmom (ammama)


2 cups Khoya
1.5 cups sugar
4-5 tsp water


1. Heat a pan on low flame, add water and sugar. Stir slowly for about 10-12 mins. Let it melt and make sure the sugar mixture is in white color. (not to turn into brown color).

2. Now, slowly  stir in the khoya. It will need some muscle power so that both khoya & sugar blend together well. Note: It should be in a consistency where you can make balls out of it. Turn off the heat. 

3. On a plate, rub some ghee and evenly spread the khoya-sugar mixture. There are two ways you can shape them. 
a) Rub little ghee between palms and start making small balls 
b) take a plastic cover, rub ghee on it and shape them howsoever you want..:-)

Store in an air tight container. 

Kobbari Undalu/Kobbari Lousu (Coconut-Jaggery Laddu)

Recipe Source: My grandmom (ammama)


1 cup shreded coconut (preferable fresh)
1 cup powdered jaggery
4-5 tbsp water


1. In a pan, on low flame add water, powdered jaggery and coconut. Stir for 15-20 mins until everything comes together. put a little on a ghee plate and you should be able to make small balls out of the mixture.

3. On a plate, put some ghee and evenly spread the coconut-sugar mixture. Rub little ghee between palms & start making small balls or  using a knife cut into diamonds.

Store in an air tight container.

Variations: You could even add some nuts or raisins to these yummy laddus..

Hope you all have a fun weekend ahead.

until next time,

July 18, 2011

Idli with Wholegrains

As most of you know, all of  last week I was cooking non-stop from FSBites blogs. The idea behind was to take a little time every day, explore their blogs and find some keeper recipes. I am so glad I took this challenge. Just have a look at the below recipes. They are everyday dishes which I managed to whip up with the ingredients in my pantry.

It was so much to do this and am sure will do it again, in future as I end up bookmarking atleast 3-4 recipes a day, but never get to make them. Sometimes, I wish there were more than 24 hours a day as my to-do-list that want to do in my spare time is way too long and the available time between work & household chores way too less.

Now, coming to today's recipe - Wholegrain Idlis. If you are first-timer, I would recommend this Idli 101 post and once you got that right, then move on to experiment with various whole grains & their proportions.

Idli with Wholegrains

I have always made idli, the normal way meaning with urad dal and idli rava. Never did I try to make these with wholegrains, until now. You would not feel the difference either in taste or texture when compared to the normal ones. An added bonus is the extra serving of whole grains incorporated which makes it nutritious breakfast, to give that perfect start for your day ahead!

Idlis served with pearl onion sambar

Adapted from Wholegrain Idlis

Make about 15-20 idlis


3/4 cup brown rice (I used long grain variety)
1/2 cup parboiled red rice
1/2 cup urad dal (I used skinned, white ones)
1/4 cup cooked rice
1/2 tbsp fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)


1. Wash both the rices in a bowl 2 or 3 times and soak them in filtered water, apparently yeast hates chlorine. Donot wash the urad dal. Mix in some methi seeds in each of them and soak the dal separately in an another bowl for about 8 hours.

Parboiled Red Rice

Long grain Brown Rice

2. First grind the urad dal (I used our regular Panasonic mixer) into a smooth taste and it is slightly bubbly, adding little water at a time. Use the water in which the dal was soaked. Pour the ground urad dal batter into a wide-mouthed bowl. Now add rice and grind with the cooked rice into a consistency of wet semolina (rava). Don't make it too runny.

3. Mix the rice batter into the urad dal batter gently with your hand. Add little salt and mix again.

4. Keep the batter out uncovered for 30 mins and then cover it & place it in a warm space to ferment.

Note: Lucky are those who are in India as for the kind of climate we have here is perfect for fermentation. Just keep it on the counter top and it will be double its volume by morning. For people who are living in other parts of the world, a little extra effort is needed. Read this Idli 101 post for more tips & tricks which worked for me, while I was in US.

Fermented Batter, ready to make idlis

5. When the idli batter is properly fermented, add a cup of water and mix well. I used my idli stand which fits perfectly in my rice cooker. Slightly oil the idli moulds, pour batter until to its brim and steam it in the rice cooker for 12-15 mins. Don't forget to pour some water at the base of the rice cooker. You can check for its doneness with a toothpick or knife. When inserted in the middle, it should come out clean.

6. Once done, serve it with any chutney or with some pearl onion sambar, like I did. Either ways, it taste delicious & is extremely healthy as it is filled with goodness from whole grains too.

Wholegrain idlis dunked in pearl onion sambar

Related Links:

* For some more ideas on how to use Whole grains, check out this roundup.
* Want to perfect bowl of brown rice, check out this how-to post which features Alton Brown's recipe.
* Never did I thought the classic Bisibelebath would taste so good when made with brown rice. this is one fool proof recipe which has been loved by all.
* Click here for all recipes based on whole grains featured here on Cooking With Siri.

I am sending these Whole grain Idlis as an entry to Healing Foods: Wholegrains, this month guest hosted by lovely Simona. I am giving two cookbooks (Cooking With Pedatha & Sukham Ayu) from Pritya as giveaways, do send in your entries for a chance to win either of them before July 31st 2011.

until next time,

July 3, 2011

Vegetarian Rogan Josh (with Cauliflower & Tofu) and Rice Cooker Biryani

"Being a Vegetarian", Is it tough? How do you manage?

How can you NOT have meat?

Don't you crave for some?

You don't eat meat, but watch Food Network?

Oh! You are that ghass-poos types?

C'mom people, especially the meat-eating ones. Stop judging the vegetarians. If we, vegetarians can  be laid back and are non judgmental about your eating habits, then why are you?

Did you know what a guy called Neal Barnard once said -

"..The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined.  If beef is your idea of "real food for real people" you'd better live real close to a real good hospital..."... Yep, its true!

Ok, there I settled score with all of my meat-loving friends, who keep teasing me or questioning about my vegetarianism. It is choice of living I love, and No, I don't crave or would secretly wish, I was like you. :-)

I am not here to rant and start a debate or to promote that vegetarianism is better. I am just saying - One is free to choose what to eat and what not to eat. Don't be judgmental. Live & Let Live.

Now, shall we move on to today's post in "Free Spirit Blogging". and this month my dear blogging pal, DK chose the theme. Here are some basic cues -

1. The challenge is to take a classic (or famous) Non Vegetarian dish and give it a Vegetarian interpretation.

2. The final dish should look as close as possible to its Non vegetarian counterpart.

3. If you can also make the texture/taste similar then it would be awesome, although its purely optional.

3. Usage of store bought Mock meats (or mock anything) is not allowed.

I chose to make a classic, non vegetarian recipe called - "Rogan Josh", normally made with mutton and gave a vegetarian twist with tofu and cauliflower. I went with these two as the recipe involved marinating the meat and tofu & cauliflower have a tendency to absorb such flavors very well.

Vegetarian Rogan Josh (with Cauliflower & Tofu)

Sandeepa's Trivia: Rogan means oil in Persian, while Josh means heat, hot, boiling, or passionate. Rogan josh thus means cooked in oil at intense heat. Another interpretation of the name rogan josh is derived from the word rogan meaning color and josh meaning passion, hot or red. It is originally a classic meat dish which is red in color. I have used a tad bit less chilli as I was serving this for my cousin-brother who doesn't eat a lot of heat. Next time, I am gonna try for that authentic "red" color.

I have adapted this recipe from Bong Mom's Cookbook - Mutton Rogan Josh. Since I was working with Tofu and Cauliflower, which are very bland in taste as-is, I added some more spices in the marinade. The ingredients-list is effectively the same, it is just that I used them in a different order :-). Also, my version was a little on a dry-side. Simmer it in little more water would make this gravy-based.


200 gms of tofu (I got mine from M K Ahmed, Bangalore - Ka Kim's variety)
1 medium cauliflower, washed and cut into florets.

For the marinade:

2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp ground cumin powder (jeera powder)
1/2 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp coriander powder (dhania powder)
salt - to taste 
1/4 cup of water

For tempering

1 tsp butter
2 medium sized onions, chopped
3 tbsp oil
1 bayleaf (tej patta)
2 cardamom pods (green ones), crushed
2-3 cloves (laung)
1 inch cinnamon stick (dalchini)
1/2 tsp pepper powder
1/2 tsp fennel powder
1 tsp chilli powder (The original recipe asked for Kashmiri Mirch, which enhances the red color. I didn't have any on hand, so used normal red chilli powder)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 cup beaten yogurt

Dry Fry Tofu: Dry frying is one way to prepare tofu to remove the moisture and  in turn helping it to soak up the flavors of a marinade or sauce. One important thing to remember is to use a well drained tofu with a non-stick pan. (Source)

Place the tofu on a cutting board and a bowl with half filled water on it (for 10-15 mins). Make sure the pressure is not too much which can crumble the tofu. Cut them into small chunks (as shown below). Heat a non stick pan on medium heat. Once hot, place the tofu chunks on it. No oil required. Remember, we are just dry frying. Occasionally, keep turning the sides so that it is evenly, lightly browned.

Prepare the Marinade: In a bowl, mix ginger garlic paste, ground cumin, turmeric, coriander powder with salt and water. Whisk the contents well. Divide the marinade into two separate bowls and put the tofu pieces into one and cauliflower florets into the other. Carefully, mix so that sauce coats them properly.

Cover and Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.

After about an hour and half into marination, you can start the following steps.

Melt butter in a kadai and add chopped onions to it. Sauté until thoroughly browned. This adds significant flavor to the dish. Please be patient and don’t skim on the sauté time. :-) Cool down a bit and grind into a smooth paste. Keep aside.

Heat oil in the same kadai and add bayleaf, cloves and cinnamon. Once it starts to sizzle, add fried onion paste. Next comes the dry spices - fennel powder, pepper powder and chillo powder. Add a little water and fry the masala until oil separates. 
Next add marinated tofu and cauliflower florets. Mix well, lower the heat, add the yogurt little by little, mixing in the middle. Let it simmer for 1 min. Add 1-2 cups of water and adjust salt and spices if necessary. Cover and cook on low heat, giving it a careful stir for every 5 mins until the cauliflower florets are fully cooked.

Finally, sprinkle some garam masala and it is ready to serve.

You ask, what to serve with? Hmmmm, how about I share a very very simple biryani that can be made in a rice cooker.

Rice Cooker Vegetable Biryani

I end up making this biryani (which I learnt from my mom) atleast once in a week with a spicy gravy dish on the side, just for the fact that it is so easy to make.


2 cups of Basmati Rice. (Sona masoori variety is fine too)
3 cups of water
few mint leaves
1 cup mixed vegetables. (I used frozen - a combo of peas, cauliflower, tiny carrot pieces and beans)
salt to taste
3 tsp oil
1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 bayleaf
1 tsp garam masala


Wash rice and drain water, completely. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a kadai, add bay leaf, ginger garlic paste and mint leaves. When it starts to sizzle a bit, add the mixed veggies. Saute them for 4-5 mins. Add the salt & garam masala. Finally the rice and Mix once or twice.

Empty the contents of the kadai into a rice cooker. Add 3 cups of water. (rice:water ratio - 1:1.5). Cover and cook until it shifts to - "Keep Warm". 

Isn't it one easy-peasy recipe? Just stick to the rice to water ratio - to not to end up a sticky biryani..

Here is what other FSB member have cooked for you -

Anu - Sweet and Spicy Orange Paneer

Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead.

until next time,

July 1, 2011

Siri's Eat Outs | Signature Monsoon Menu at Shiro, U B City, Bangalore

"There's always a period of curious fear between the first sweet-smelling breeze and the time when the rain comes cracking down." 

~ Don Delillo

..and monsoons have arrived in Bangalore. So, has the Siganture Monsoon Menu at the very famous Shiro restaurant, well known for its Oriental cuisine on Vittal Mallya Road (the same says it all), Bangalore. In my opinion, creating as entire menu on just Stir Frying is quite challenging, but if executed properly its tantalizing flavors of hot, spicy, tangy, pungent and sweet will remain with you forever. My experience at Shiro was mixed. There were some dishes which were truly spectacular and some were a little disappointing. Also I thought there was also an issue with consistency. Meaning, it doesn't matter how many times you order the same dish, it is of paramount importance that it tastes the same.

Having said that, I want YOU to be the judge because I think when it comes to *taste* and *flavour*, they very subjective as each of our palettes are different. I am here only to introduce the menu to you all and give a slight sneak-peek about what are they, how do they look like, all-in-all what was my personal experience and last but not the least, the "Star Dish of the Day" which is an absolute must-have (according to me) and not-to-be-missed.

Before we jump into the food part, let me show you around the restaurant first (if its your first-time-visit to Shiro). With its huge sculptures, the interiors are just magnificent. Look at the one below. Isn't it just beautiful and sets a perfect mood instantly.

..and once you cross this, you will enter an open-top-seating-area. With plenty of cool breeze, the ambiance cannot get any better.

Shiro is also known for its sassy cocktails....

Now that you have all seen how the restaurant looks like, lets begin the food-tasting part. Shall we? They had some good options for both Vegetarians and Non-Vegetarians, which was a bit of relief as I had many bad experiences in fine dining restaurants, where I could order only 1 or 2 out of the entire menu. Thank you Shiro for thinking of we, vegetarians too. :-)

1. Tofu Cubes with Spicy Korean Bean Paste.

I love *tofu* and it has a tendency to absorb any flavors it is added into. Because it is soft in texture, it is important to treat it gingerly. This dish with the spicy korean bean paste was delicious and spice levels were just right. A great start, I must say.

Tofu Cubes with Spicy Korean Bean Paste
2. Hung Shao Green Beans

I have had many versions of green beans. Some were just fantabulous. Some were ok. Some were really really bad. This Hung Shao Green Beans was ok. There is nothing wrong with the dish, but it lacks that WOW factor for me.

Hung Shao Green Beans
3. Aubergine stir fried in coconut,basil and chillies

Unfortunately this is my least favorite dish of the day. Stay tuned, the most favorite is right down the post. You know why I didn't like it? not because of the taste. The first time it was served, it was good. What not to love about coconut milk and basil. When we ordered the same for a second helping, the aubergines were uncooked, which disappointed me as I was really looking forward to taste it again. Consistency is the key in running a successful restaurant.

Aubergine stir fried in coconut,basil and chillies
4. Assorted Veg Stir Fry with Chilli Mustard Sauce

Mustard is one spice which is very strong-in-taste. It works differently when paired with delicately steamed veggies and when coated to meat. I had with some assorted veggies, except for broccoli, rest all were delicious. I am sure its meat counterpart tasted much better as I saw couple of non-veg friends going for a second helping.

Assorted Veg Stir Fry with Chilli Mustard Sauce
5. Mushrooms & Babycorn Stir fried with Thai Spices

I was in a place called "Yummyville" (a fictional heavenly place created by me where it is just ME and the decadent food in front. ;-)) after having the next 2 dishes. Simply fantastic. Perfectly executed and I was longing for more. :-)

Mushrooms & Babycorn Stir fried with Thai Spices
6. Potatoes Stir Fried with Chilli Sesame Sauce

Would you believe if I say, we ordered this dish thrice? It was simply delectable. The chilli-sesame sauce was so so good with the potatoes. I would definitely go back for this and for the next one.

Potatoes Stir Fried with Chilli Sesame Sauce
..and finally the award - "Star Dish of the Day" goes to..ahem ahem ..Green Mango & Jasmine rice with Tofu. Green mango with what? Yes, with Tofu. I personally never had such a combination before and this was one dish which bowled me over, with it pleasant taste and little tanginess from the mango. Very very flavoruful dish and I don't even remember how much I ate. :-)

Green Mango & Jasmine rice - Tofu (you can have the same with Pork if you wish to)

There were others too: here is the list of other "Rice & Noodles" which were served to us -

Pad Thai - Vegetables (Chicken/ Prawns)
Spicy Yaki Soba - Vegetables (Chicken / Prawns)
Green Mango & Jasmine rice - Tofu (or Pork)
Thai Basil fried rice (with Chicken)
Korean Spiced Fried Rice Vegetables (Chicken / Prawns)

Non-vegetarians, don't be disappointed. I might not have any beautiful photographs for you, the least I could do is give you a run-down of items served on the menu. Here it goes -

Malaysian Style Chicken Stir Fried with Curry Leaves
Stir Fry Chicken with Chilli Mustard Sauce
Chicken & Asparagus with Ginger lemon Sauce
Fish with Chilli Mustard Sauce
Fish Stir Fried with Hoisin & Thai chilli Sauce
Prawns Stir Fried with Kaffir lime leaves and Thai Red Chillies
Prawns in Creamy Garlic Butter Sauce
Prawns in Tom Yum Sauce
Lamb dumplings Stir fried in Wood Smoked BBQ sauce
Green Curried Tenderloin
Stir Fried Tenderloin with Oyster & Black Bean Sauce

Chef Priyank Chouhan
..and the brain behind designing this monsoon menu (for a limited time only) is Chef Priyank Chauhan - a level-headed, affable person who is open-for-feedback (trust me, not every chef take criticisms in its right stride). He, very intently listened to our opinions on each and every dish and graciously shared his culinary experiences with all of us. I wish him all the very best and hopefully to meet & would love to eat his food again. :-)

Now, I am sure most of you are already wondering - What about the desserts? Of course there were many and here is one which caught our attention the most. "Chocolate Sushi". I am not much of a dessert person, this one I couldn't resist and it tasted absolutely amazing.

Chocolate Sushi, how innovative. Isn't it?

Thank you Mads for taking me along and sharing these pictures with me. Without them, the review would be incomplete.

I sure had a blast.. :-)

This specially designed Stir Fry Monsoon Menu is available at Shiro until July 11th 2011. The price ranges from 300/- INR to maximum 625/- INR excluding taxes.

Hurry up and make your reservations, Call -  080 41738864. 


2nd Floor, UB City Mall,
Vittal Mallya Rd, Bengaluru, Karnataka

If you happen to visit Shiro, do share your foodie experiences with me. I would love to know what YOU thought about this menu.

until next time,
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