June 24, 2012

Moong Dal ka Shorba | Yellow Mung Dal Soup with Garlic Basil Croutons

“Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living.  For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.” ~ Louis P. De Gouy, ‘The Soup Book’ (1949)

Moong Dal ka Shorba (Yellow Mung Dal Soup), drizzled with olive oil & topped with garlic-basil croutons
Growing up, my mother never considered "soup" as a real meal, never did she make some at home. And ironically every time we are out for dinner, we always ordered  "tomato soup" as our first course. I never tasted any other kind. 

Moong Dal ka Shorba (Yellow Mung Dal Soup) topped with puffed bajra & red chilli flakes
..things have changed a lot since then. Now, for me personally soup is a beautiful thing, especially during rainy & winter seasons. I make it a meal-in-itself by adding bread on the side or just some papads would do too. 

Certain ingredients like lentils give soup a body and a silky texture which appeals to me the most. There is no need to add any kind of dairy products like cream or milk and by replacing the little butter used in the recipe with (olive) oil, this is a lovely vegan alternative when paired with a sandwich.

The croutons are a great way to make use of day-old left over bread lurking around in the kitchen. I have used dried basil for my croutons, but any kind of herb like rosemary, thyme, sage - fresh or dried will totally work. Enjoy!

Moong Dal Shorba (Yellow Mung Dal Soup)

Adapted from NDTV Cooks


1/2 cup split moong dal
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp chopped ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp butter
1 green chilli, chopped
coriander leaves, chopped
1/8 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
salt to taste


1. Mix moong dal, onion, ginger, green chilies, turmeric powder, salt and 5 cups of water. Pressure cook for about 5-6 whistles. the dal has to be soft and mushy. Remove scum from the top, if there is any.

2. Blend the dal mixture and strain. Keep aside.

3. Heat butter in a pan, add cumin seeds. Sauté till seeds splutter. Add pureed dal and bring it to a boil. Adjust consistency by adding water if desired.

4. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice and coriander leaves. Drizzle some olive oil and/or top with croutons. Serve.

Oven baked Garlic-Basil Croutons


4 slices of bread, cut into cubes (preferably day-old)
4 tbsp cup olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1 tsp dried basil, crushed between palms


1. Preheat oven for 350 F or 180 C.

2. In a mixing bowl stir olive oil, garlic, cracked pepper and dried basil. Toss bread cubes so that the olive oil mixture is evenly coated.

3. Spread the bread slices evenly in one layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp & dry. Keep an eye on them to prevent burning.

“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.” ~ Laurie Colwin

Have a great week ahead and until next time,

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June 21, 2012

Amma's Recipes: Sojjappalu | Kesari Stuffed Poori | Sojja Poorilu | Step by Step Recipe

Amma's recipes is one such column on this blog, which is very close to my heart. These are the recipes which my mother perfected over many many years and reflects how awesome a cook she is. It is also fun to just photograph once in a while, without thinking about what and how to make a recipe, worrying whether it would turn out well or not. She Cooks, I Photograph. That is the deal. :-) If you guys have any questions, do drop in a line or comment. My mom will be more than happy to answer all of them. 

It is not often that I indulge myself into desserts that are especially deep fried and those who know me  are aware of the fact that I don't really have a sweet tooth either. But, the gloomy, not-so-peppy weather in Hyderabad is not helping me and with a blocked nose and sore throat I, to my mom's surprise begged to make some "Sojjapallu" (kesari stuffed poori) past weekend. My mom, being the best couldn't refuse her daughter's wish..;-)

..and as she was making them, I happily took some step by step pictures to share with you all.

Sojjappalu (or Sojja Poori) is a classic Andhra sweet normally made for festivals and other happy occasions. Those who are counting calories might have to just to look at these photographs to pacify their cravings. It is hard to express in words how divine these taste. Rava Kesari (the stuffing for these), as-is is a very popular and imagine if we stuff that into a poori! You see where am I going and why its hard to describe how it tastes. :-)


Sojjappalu | Kesari Stuffed Poori | Sojja Poorilu |

lemon sized Rava Kesari balls - The Stuffing!

the dough - its consistency must be like a poori dough.

Here are step-by-step pictures on How to make Sojjappalu 

Just out of the fryer, draining the excess oil..

Recipe: Sojjappalu | Kesari Stuffed Poori | Sojja Poorilu |

Makes around 10 Sojjappalu
Recipe: My Mom


For the dough - 

2 cups maida/all purpose flour
1 tbsp rice flour
1/4 cup oil

For rava kesari filling -

1 cup sooji rava/semolina
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup ghee
1/2 tsp saffron strands, mixed with little warm water [or any edible orange food color]
1/2 cup in total - cashew nuts, raisins
4 whole cardamom pods, crushed (or 1/8 tsp cardamom powder)
3 cups of water

Oil - for deep frying


How to prepare the dough -

Step 1: Knead maida, rice flour with water into a poori consistency. Rub 1/4 cup oil all over the dough. Cover and rest for 2 hours.

How to prepare the stuffing -

Step 2: Heat 1/2 tsp of ghee in a small kadai and fry cashews with raisins. Keep aside.

Step 3: Heat 3 cups of water in kadai. Add sugar. Stir until it dissolves. Add ghee. Let it come to a rolling boil. Reduce to low-heat and then slowly stir while adding the rava (Make sure there are no lumps). Cook until it is thickened for 5-6 minutes. Just before turning off the heat, add fried cashew with raisins and cardoamom powder. Mix well. It is very important to cool to room temperature as it will be used as a stuffing. Make 10 small lemon sized balls out of it.

How to make Sojjappalu (Kesari Poori) -

Step 4: Make 10 equal sized balls out of dough. Roll out a small round. Put a kesari ball in the middle. Cover gently with hand. Don't use rolling pin. With hand, gently press on each side by placing on a plastic sheet and make into a round.  Repeat the same with all of them. Note: Refer to the step-by-step pictures above.

Step 5: Heat oil in a kadai. Slide one-stuffed-poori-at-a-time into hot (not smoking) oil. Fry until light golden brown. Drain onto paper towels.

Serve warm to pep up those gloomy day and to bring an instant smile on your faces! :D

These are also made as offering for Vara Lakshmi Vratam which is on July 27th 2012. May be you can woo the Goddess with these goodies this year! I am sure she will be extremely happy, so will be your family & friends!

until next time,

June 17, 2012

Chocolate Coffee Almond Blondies with a glass of milk!


"The future, seems to me no unified dream but a mince pie, long in the baking, never quite done." 
~ Edward Young

Chocolate Coffee Almond Blondies served with a glass of milk!

When I published my last post, it was blistering hot outside and I was devouring greedily on juicy, pulpy mangoes, making all kinds of desserts with them. As I write this post, it is raining cats & dogs, a weather perfect for spicy pakoras with ketchup in one hand and hot chocolate in the other. Never thought this would be month-long break. As I said on my facebook page, I was just stuck in a cobweb of mundane activities which needed my attention, took most of my time and energy. Hence the lull in my blogging. Thanks for inquiring and writing to me. :-)

"Chocolate is not cheating! After a salty meal, you need a little bit of sweet. This is living, not cheating" ~ Ali Landry
...but I was reading a lot. It first started with breathtaking story of Mariam & Laila in A Thousand Splendid Suns, then got to know about workholic lawyer Samantha Sweeting as The Undomestic Goddess, then read how Lord Shiva took a human form and set out to destroy evil, uncovering deadly secrets along the way in very popular Shiva Triology (both The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of Nagas), next came Day of Honey, a memoir of food, love and war - which opened up a whole new world of people, their cuisine, their culture in Middle East and most recently The Thirteen Tale, a tale of twins, Adeline and Emmeline. Till date, I never enjoyed reading such diverse set of authors who in their own right and might weaved magic through words portraying sublime emotions which will stay with you - forever!.

Chocolate, Coffee, Almonds, Brown Sugar - a divine combination of flavors!
Honestly, Baking is not something that appeals to me greatly. I am no Rachel Ray, mind you who can't bake at all. It's just that baking asks for exact measurements, which puts me off, personally speaking. I bake only when I crave for something that's not available in the bakeries around me (sadly after moving to Hyderabad, I hardly get any delicious baked goodies I want, so don't be surprised if I start to bake regularly from on. ;-)).

I bake out of absolute necessity, with simple, not involving any fancy, hard-to-get ingredients. Like today's "Chocolate Coffee Almond Blondies", a one bowl recipe which is super easy to put together.

just out of the oven...
{Recipe} Chocolate Coffee Almond Blondies

Adapted from Seattle Times

Makes ~ 10 servings


1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon instant coffee (I used Sunrise brand)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature (If you are using salted butter like Amul, omit adding salt below)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped milk chocolate bits (chop chocolate bar into small bits using a sharp knife)
1 cup almond bits (optionally use chopped/slivered almonds if desired)
1/4 cup chopped almonds (for topping - optional)


1. Heat the oven to 350 F or 180 C. Grease a 9 inch round or square baking pan with cooking spray or butter.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the water, instant coffee and vanilla extract. Stir until the coffee granules dissolve. Add the softened butter, brown sugar and salt (if using unsalted butter). Using an electric mixer or whisk (+ a lot of muscle power), beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between additions and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the flour, then the chocolate and almond bits.

 3. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan with a spatula. Top with some chopped almonds. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes (check after 25 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Cool and Cut into 10 pieces. Serve as-is or with glass of milk on the side.!

Notes -

1. To make almond bits, just pulse them in a grinder for 3-4 seconds. Any kind of nuts - cashews, peanuts or walnuts work well with this recipe. May be you would like to add a bit of each.

2. Every oven works differently. So, I would suggest to check for doneness after 25 minute-mark.

3. If the batter is too dry, add few tablespoons of milk.

4. Sprinkle flaked sea salt, if desired before popping into the oven for a salty note.

5. These blondies taste great the next day as well. Cut and store in an air tight container.

infinitely adaptable, blondies are so easy to make. tastes best even the next day. perfect for potlucks, picnics etc.

...and here is a photograph I clicked while we were at Big Dosa here in Hyderabad. Sending it to Aparna for  Black and White Wednesday # 37, originally conceptualized by Susan. Click here to view my other B&W submissions.

taken at Big Dosa, Hyderabad
Have a splendid week ahead folks.

until next time, Bon Appetit,

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