February 19, 2011

Sorakaya (Anapakaya) Dappalam [Bottle Gourd Stew]

Summer Holidays...

and memories come gushing as I remember in my grandparents house, the guava tree which I used to climb umpteen number of times in a day, my secret location near the stairs where I used to hide if I was angry, the ice cream treats that my uncles bought for us and we, kids playing in the tiny little garden of my grand mom which she took great care of. Curry leaf plant and bottle gourd plant were usuals there and they needed no special care. A little water mostly from rain and they used to grow up like crazy. :-). Dappalam was one of the andhra signature made and every household has its own version. This one is close to what my grand mom used to make for us, in my childhood.

Sorakaya/Anapakaya Dappalam [Bottle Gourd Stew]

Famously known as 'Dappalam' is a staple item made in many Andhra households. It literally translates to a stew (or pulusu) made with mixed veggies, spices , tamarind extract and/or little jaggery. Here, in today's recipe I have used just bottle gourd and nothing else. Served with piping hot rice with pappadams or masala omelet on the side, it becomes a delightful meal.

Adapted from here


1 medium bottlegourd, peeled, chopped. (discard seeds if it is not tender)
1 tsp sesame oil (or any other oil would work)
1 tsp each of mustard seeds and cumin seeds
2-3 green chillies, slit, minced
1 medium onion, chopped lengthwise
few curry leaves
1 tsp of minced fresh ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
a pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp each of rasam powder, sambhar powder and coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
3 tbsp of chickpea flour (besan) mixed with 1/4 cup of cold water
4 tbsp of tamarind pulp
2 tsp of sugar or jaggery


1. In a pressure cooker, heat sesame oil and add mustard seeds & cumin seeds. Let them splutter & then ad green chillies, chopped onions, curry leaves, minced ginger & garlic and hing(asafoetida). Cook for 3-4 mins on medium-low flame. Finally add the turmeric and bottle gourd pieces. Mix well and cook for 2-3 mins. Add enough water until the bottle gourd pieces are completely immersed. Close and cook until 3 whistles. Keep aside, until the steam subsides.

2. On medium flame, place the contents of the cooker, add besan water, tamarind pulp, rasam powder, sambhar powder, coriander powder and sugar. Mix well and cook until the stew thickens and the raw smell of the besan is gone. Serve.

Variations - One can add any amount of mixed veggies such as beans, drumsticks, carrots, pumpkin etc to this dappalam. In some recipes, even toor dal is used.

until next time,

February 15, 2011

With Love: Decadent Dairy-Free Chocolate Truffles

"Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition."

-Alexander Smith

Friends, here I am celebrating love & compassion with you all, with some "Decadent Dairy-Free Chocolate Truffles". All you need is 1 min of prep work and these babies are ready, by the next day. If you a chocoholic or a non-chocoholic (like me), these vegan truffles are a must try and will be a big hit, anywhere and everywhere.

To Love: Decadent Dairy-Free Chocolate Truffles

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

"Chocolate Truffles" - as exotic and sensuous as they sound, the recipe to make them is even more simpler. No cooking required, No Baking required. Just melt the chocolate, chill and make the truffles...and you donot need a special day like Valentine's Day to make these. On any day made and filled love, these truffles are always welcomed :-). Enjoy.

Adapted from Vegetarian Times

Makes around 10-12 truffles, depending on the size


3 oz. high-quality dark chocolate (60% cocoa), finely chopped (I used my favorite brand - Ghirardelli)
1/8 cup walnut, almond or canola oil (I used canola oil)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans and walnuts 
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes


1. Place chocolate, oil and 1/6 cup (8 teaspoons) of water in microwave-safe bowl. Heat on HIGH in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Heat 30 seconds more, or until chocolate has melted. Whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 6 hours, or overnight. (I kept it overnight)

2. Place cocoa, coconut flakes and nuts on separate plates. Shape truffle mixture by heaping teaspoonfuls into small, 3/4-inch balls. Roll in cocoa or chopped nuts or coconut flakes. Chill until ready to serve.

Hope you all had a wonderful V'day, yesterday.

until next time,

February 7, 2011

Poha (Puffed Rice) with Potatoes and Peas

Growing up, my mom was very insistent on us, having a proper breakfast before we stepped out of the house. Being a working mother, though she had limited time on hand, we always were treated with hot breakfast in the morning. I never realized how much of a luxury was that then, as I now struggle to cook at home at least 2 times a day.

One such regulars was Poha, which is very easy to make and a nutritious snack too. I usually make this for weekend brunches, just to something to munch on, while watching some TV. :-)

Poha (Puffed Rice) with Potatoes and Peas

One can add any veggies to this dish. Just make sure there is not much moisture while cooking or else it will turn out to be a guey-messy Poha, nevertheless tasty. no doubt about that :-). Peanuts add a nice crunch and for the tang, you have the lemon juice.


2 cups of thick poha (easily available in any Indian stores)
1/4 cup of roasted peanuts
salt to taste
1 tsp of oil
1 tsp of finely chopped or grated ginger
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium potato, cubed
1/2 cup of (fresh or) frozen peas
2 green chillies, minced
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice (more, if desired)
few curry leaves
few coriander leaves (for garnishing)

For tempering: 1 tsp of mustard seeds, 2 broken dry red chillies, a pinch of hing/asafoetida


1. Wash the poha 2 or 3 times under cold running water. Drain, squeeze out all the water by lightly pressing between the palms. Keep aside.

2. Heat oil in a non stick pan and add mustard seeds, until they splutter. Drop in the ginger, roasted peanuts, onions, curry leaves and green chillies. Cook until the onions are golden brown and translucent.

3. Add in the cubed potatoes and season with turmeric powder, and salt to taste. Cover and cook until the potatoes a bit tender. Now add peas and cook for couple of more minutes. Finally add poha and mix everything well. Don't over-mix or else the poha would become mush-y. Cover and cook for 1-2 mins.

4. Garnish with coriander, Serve on the individual portions and sprinkle some lemon juice as desired.

Off this goes to Healing Foods: Ginger and/or Garlic, conceptualized by me and this month graciously guest hosted by lovely  Sara

On an another note, for a long time, I wanted to compile the list of books I enjoyed the most and finally did it. Check out my book shelf here.

Monday has already started and I hope you all have a productive week ahead.

until next time,

February 2, 2011

This book makes me cook: Buckwheat Pancakes

A Potato Salad.

Molly's story begins from there. Now you would wonder what can written about a mere *potato salad*? Even I thought the same when I finally got to sit down and read this book (as January's choice for our virtual book club). Apparently 'you can tell a lot about someone by their potato salad' and how it is made. the ingredients I mean. Some use mayo, some use ranch dressing, some use loads of oil and herbs etc.

You see, growing up (back in India) I never got a chance to eat much of potato salad (on the contrary, I had bowls & bowls of potato fry with steamed rice & ghee.) Ok, now coming back to the story here.

...and there goes Molly talking about how her dad makes the potato salad and finally giving out the recipe (Burg's Potato Salad). Then she moves on to talk about her mother & her Blueberry-Raspberry Pound Cake. Likewise, the book is full of short anecdotes about her family, her teens, her love life and finally ends with her Chocoalate wedding cake. It is an absolute delight to go on this journey with Molly and getting to know her a little bit more, with every story.

The best part is - these are short stories, so I read one each night before going to sleep and all I used to dream out is her Stewed Prunes with Citrus and Cinnamon or Fruit-Nut Balls or Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake with Glazed Oranges and Creme Fraiche or these Buckwheat Pancakes, the ones that I made today, for you all.

Trust me, I was so confused which one to make as I had almost every recipe bookmarked. Duh-uh! I am planning to make a couple of more in coming days!

Buckwheat Pancakes

Author's Notes: These pancakes are a bit different than your usual ones. Rather than adding melted butter directly into the wet ingredients, you first mix it with the egg yolk. This helps the butter to better incorporate into the batter, making for a more even-textured pancake. Just be sure to microwave the butter in short bursts. These pancakes are great on their own (I will vouch for that!), but they taste even better with berries or sliced banana and/or maple syrup. 

I think pancakes and maple syrup are match made in heaven. :-)

Recipe from A Homemade Life, stories an recipes from my kitchen table by Molly Wizenberg (the Orangette fame)


2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour (available in Whole foods)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp milk (I used 2%)
1 large egg, separated
2 tbsp (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
vegetable oil, for brushing the griddle
maple syrup or honey, for serving 
a handful of fresh or frozen berries (I used frozen blueberries), for serving


Step 1: In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients - the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Step 2: In a separate bowl, pour buttermilk and milk together. Whisk the egg white. In an another small bowl, using a fork beat the egg yolk with the melted butter. Whisk the yolk mixture into the milk mixture. 

Step 3: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients all at once and whisk until just combined. Donot overmix. The batter will be somewhat thick.

Step 4: Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat. Brush the skillet with oil. sprinkle couple of droplets of water, if they sizzle, the pan is ready to go.

Step 5: Ladle the batter with a 1/4 measuring cup. My skillet was not wide enough, so I did one at-a-time. Make sure not to overcrowd them. when the underside of the pancakes are nicely browned and the top starts to bubble, after 2 to 3 mins, flip them. Cook until the second side is browned, 1 to 2 mins more.

Re-oil the skillet and repeat the same with more batter. Serve warm with maple syrup or honey (like I did) with or without fruit.

Yields 8 -10 pancakes, depending on the size.

Freezing Tip - Arrange the pancakes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, freeze them until they're hard. then put them in a heavy-duty plastic bag and stash them into the freezer. They'll last this way for months. 

Other recipes made my fellow book club members:

Adele baked Molly's chocolate cake.

Aparna baked Molly's French Lemon-Yogurt Cake with Blueberries.

Jaya made Banana bread.

Jessica made Dutch Baby Pancakes.

Judy baked a banana bread with chocolate and crystallized ginger.

Banana bread again with caramel, from Marisa.

Simran made Coeur A La Creme.

I can't wait for her next book and the good news is - it is already under book proposal stage. Good luck to you Molly. :-)

See you all in a few,

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