December 30, 2012

Twelve Favourite Recipes of the year 2012

"One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things". 
~ John Burroughs

It's almost time to wrap up the year 2012, to cherish the 365 days that just whizzed by and await for a brand new 2013. But, not without taking one final look at some of my favorites posted. They say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Below are the twelve recipes, month wise which I enjoyed to cook, photograph and write here on the blog. :-)

Wishing you all a very Happy and Joyous New Year!

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December 27, 2012

Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas) with Herbs, Garlic and Chillies Recipe

Christmas is over and there are just 4 days for 2012 to end. Its simply amazing how fast the time has flown by. This year has certainly brought many good memories, sprang up some unexpected surprises and few bad memories which I wish to completely forget and pray they never ever happen again.

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”  ~ Brad Paisley

Come early January and its again the time where we come up with our New Year resolutions. Its the sudden burst of motivation and excitement that a new year bestows upon us. A "New Year Resolution" is notoriously well-known to be short-lived where its soon forgotten within first few weeks and the guilt of it starts to set in soon after  But, I think its imperative to be more realistic & flexible while choosing the "right" resolutions. Identify the hardships that you are likely to face and have a good, feasible plan to counter them. Most importantly, have fun while you are at it, in whatever you decide to do. It normally takes 21 days for a person to get habituated to anything. Take a day at a time and don't be hard on yourself.

2012 has taught me one thing for sure, that life is too short to be taken seriously and to brood upon, when my dad met with a fatal accident & when a very dear one got diagnosed with breast cancer. Life was perfect one day and the very next day everything was a mess!

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.”  ~ Robert Frost

Pasta with Chickpeas, herbs, garlic and chillies.
“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.” 
~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

ingredients for the garlic-chilli paste

pound them coarsely

One of my other resolutions for almost every year to "eat healthy", with yummy flavors, protein-rich and good-carb food. Today's recipe falls into that category. It has chickpeas, pasta, lots of herbs and spicy kick to it.


{Recipe} Pasta e Ceci with Herbs, Garlic and Chillies

Adapted from Cheeky Chilli and Luisa Weiss's My Berlin Kitchen
Serves 1-2 (depending on how hungry they are!)
Prep time: 5-6 hours for soaking and cooking if using dried chickpeas
Cook time: 20-30 mins


1 cup cooked (or canned, drained and rinsed) chickpeas**
1 tbsp olive oil
1 or 2 tomatoes (depending on how tart you want the sauce to be)
chopped herbs - I used basil and cilantro. One can use rosemary and/or parsley
1 whole garlic clove + 1 garlic clove (minced - optional)
2 dry red chillies
1/2 tsp salt + more as needed
fistful of dry pasta of any kind. I used farfalle.

*Note**: Soak 2 cups dry chickpeas over night in filtered water and then pour water until they are fully submerged, pressure cook on HIGH heat for 9-12 minutes. Let the pressure be released naturally and there you have boiled chickpeas ready for use. I normally cook at least 5-6 cups and freeze them in small portions. When required, all you have to do is thaw and they are ready for use.


For Chilli-Garlic paste - Soak red chillies in boiling water for 30 minutes so that they soften a bit. Drain and roll them in paper towels. In a mortar and pestle, coarsely pound chilies with whole garlic clove and a 1/2 tsp of salt.

For Chickpeas - Cook chickpeas as per the *Note* above. Save some liquid in which they are cooked in. Reserve half of boiled chickpeas and puree the rest with its own liquid along with salt and cilantro.

1. Heat olive oil in a pan and add minced garlic (if using). Then add little chilli paste (I added about 1/4 tsp). The recipe doesn't require the entire amount pounded. Save rest in an air tight container.  Add tomatoes and cook until they break down.

2. Mix in the chickpea puree. Season with some salt if necessary.

3. Boil the pasta until al dente. Add some pasta liquid to the sauce, if its too thick.

4. Drain pasta in a colander and add to chickpea sauce. Add the reserved whole chickpeas and toss gently. Check for the seasoning.

5. Sprinkle herbs and Serve immediately.

...a meal enjoyed all by myself on a cool Sunday afternoon. They say memories are associated with food, most of the times. Its definitely true with this recipe. The empty plate and the burrp are the proof. :-)

During this happy holiday times, bring a smile and make difference into these kids lives at Vaidehi Ashram. Donate and lend a helping hand for their bright future. More details - Click here.

Happy Holidays Folks! See you all next year..


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December 19, 2012

Instant Dosavakaya (Dosa Avakai) | Yellow Cucumber Pickle Recipe


Is it mid-December 2012 already. 11 more days (if earth survives the doomsday tomorrow, as per Mayan's prediction ;-) ) to New Year 2013. Yay! Shouldn't we all be ideally wrapped in out best woolen ware and lightly shivering with cold. Well, that's definitely not the case in Hyderabad right now where the sun is shining high during the day time. I have to admit though that its quite foggy and cold during the nights. 

There is a certain thrill in making and posting a pickle recipe in winter days. Isn't it? a small way to enjoy a ray of summer, a little early. :-)

It has been almost 2 weeks that I posted a recipe. It was a time-off taken deliberately to re-evaluate the priorities in my life. Time, as we all know is limited in hand and there is so much I want to do with it. One of the many little things I love to do is Read. A good book cheers me up instantly and I often feel very sad once its over. There are far too many not-so-good books out there. So, the plan is to go back to reading classics in coming months. Right now, I am deep into Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Its a riveting tale of an unnamed protagonist, her fears to start a new life in a grand estate "Manderley" which is a central character in itself. The entire place is explained in such fascinating detail that almost every scene comes alive right in front. A great recommendation for fiction-lovers out there. 

The inspiration for this recipe is my Mom, who is also the model for this pic. :-)

Coming to today's recipe - Instant Dosavakaya (Dosa Avakai) (Yellow Cucumber Pickle). To be honest, this pickle is almost on the same lines as this Instant Mango Pickle I posted early this summer, just the proportions are different. You can substitute the cucumber with any firm vegetable like cauliflower and yield the same delicious results.


Wash, dry, cut into halves, deseed and chop the cucumber into small pieces. 

Mix all the ingredients in the right proportions and Voila, the pickle is ready!

{Recipe} Instant Dosavakaya (Dosa Avakai) | Yellow Cucumber Pickle


3 cups yellow cucumber (dosakaya), deseeded and cut into small pieces (choose firm ones)
1 cup red chilli powder
3/4 cup mustard powder (grind black mustard seeds into a coarse powder)
3/4 cup of salt
2 tbsp fenugreek-cumin powder (dry roast cumin seeds and fenugreek [methi] seeds separately. grind them together into powder)
1 cup vegetable oil.

Tadka - 1 tbsp oil + 1 tsp each of urad dal, mustard seeds and cumins seeds + 2-3 cloves of garlic + 2 red chillies


1. In a pan, warm 1 cup of oil. Keep aside.

2. In a large bowl (make sure it is bone dry) add cucumber pieces, chilli powder, mustard powder, salt, methi-cumin powder. Mix with a dry spatula/spoon until the pieces are evenly coated with the spices. Then add warm oil.  Toss everything together.

3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok and add the tadka ingredients one by one. Let them splutter. Turn off the heat and add to the pickle mixture. Mix well. Don't refrigerate the pickle immediately. Cover and keep the container outside, at room temperature so that the excess water oozes out the next day. Give it a good mix couple of times.Taste and adjust the salt to your liking.

4. At the end of second day, the pickle is ready to be devoured along with piping, hot dal and papads.  Store the pickle air tight containers. When refrigerated, this pickle will stay fresh for  more than a month. When kept at room temperature, it will stay good for 1-2 weeks.

Very Important: To make sure at every step of the pickling process, there is absolutely no moisture contact either on the cucumbers or the utensils used. Try to use as much as fresh spices as possible for a fabulous taste.

Make a batch of this super simple pickle and gift it to your  spice-loving friends - a little Indian twist to holidays this year!

Almost every single day, I get an inquiry from people all around the world about how they can donate and lend a helping hand to the little girls at Vaidehi Ashram. It warms my heart to know that the children are in your thoughts and you want to make a difference to their lives. Just to make things simple and to provide a medium through which one can donate whenever they wish to, I have the below Chipin gateway, open throughout the course of an year. The money collected for every 3 months will be donated to the Ashram authorities, in rupees. For more details - Click here. Let you friends and family know about the same and please feel free to send me an email if you have any comments/queries. Thanks in advance.

Happy Holidays and until next time,

December 3, 2012

Lauki Palak Ke Kofte (Kofta) Masala | Bottle Gourd and Spinach Balls in Tomato Gravy Recipe + winners for the giveaways

The months of November and December were just like any other until a few years ago. They became a season of music, joy and merriment once I moved to US. the holiday baking, the beautifully decorated christmas trees, the snowmen, the brightly lit up reindeers in front of almost every house, the gifts, the carols dimly humming at all cafes, the deals to buy super cool stuff dead cheap, meeting friends & family and travelling - all these symbolize the holiday season now. After experiencing all these for 6 long winters, the memories come back to me, regardless of where I am right now, right this moment.

New York is a magical city and every time I hear this song - Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams, it reminds me of time I spent there. Awesome time, I tell ya which I will cherish forever, and ever!


Today's recipe too - Lauki Palak Ke Kofte (Kofta) Masala brings back loads of memories when my mother used to make this along with a simple Rice Cooker Biryani as our Sunday special. :-)

Scroll down to know the lucky winners who won the previously announced giveaways - Canon Powershot camera, 25$ amazon and olive garden gift cards.


{Recipe} Lauki Palak Ke Kofte (Kofta) Masala 

Lauki Palak Ke Kofte

ready to be fried..

To serve as an appetizer, ignore the gravy and use as-is. Yum! 


1. For lesser calories, the bottle gourd-spinach balls can be baked with a brushing of oil.
2. If using tomato puree, use finely chopped onions and there is no need to grind into a paste.
3. Let the balls be dunked into the tomato gravy before serving so that they soak up all the lovely flavors.

Makes for around 4-5 servings


For the Kofte -

1 medium sized lauki (bottle gourd) ~ around 2 cups of grated lauki
1 cup chopped palak
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
oil - for frying

For the gravy -

2 onions, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped (or you can use tomato puree as well)
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt - to taste (Adjust little by little as the kofte have salt too)
1/2 tsp or more garam masala
a pinch of sugar
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp of beaten yogurt (optional)
chopped coriander, for garnishing


1. Grate bottle gourd. Taking some at a time, using a muslin or thin cloth and squeeze all the water out of it by pressing between the palms. Finely chop spinach.

2. In a bowl, mix in squeezed bottle gourd, spinach and rest of the ingredients listed under "For the Kofte". Donot use any water. The liquid in the chopped spinach is enough to make into a dough. Make small lemon sized balls.

3. Heat enough oil in a kadai and gently fry few balls at a time until golden brown. Drain excess oil on paper towels.

4. For the gravy - heat a tbsp of oil in a kadai. Add ginger garlic paste and onions. Let it cook for few minutes. Add tomatoes. Stir well and cook until mushy. Cool a bit and grind into a fine paste.

5. Add the tomato-onion paste into the same kadai and add all the spices & seasonings - salt, turmeric, garam masala and sugar. Add a cup of water. Cook until oil starts to separate. Stir in the yogurt if using.

6. Drop the kofta balls into the gravy. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and garnish with coriander. Serve with rice, roti or any kind of bread.

Serving Suggestions: Home-made Coconut Milk Fried Rice Perfectly Baked Brown RiceMethi PulaoGobhi/Cauliflower Paratha, Palak Thepla and Roti Telur 

Now are you ready to know who won the three exciting giveaways announced for this holiday season. Here are the lucky ones -

The 25$ Amazon Gift Card goes to Comment # 94 which is from - Carolsue.

The 25$ Olive Garden Gift Card goes to Comment # 7 from Mary

Hearty Congratulations to all winners and I will contact you pretty soon for your shipping details and Thanks all for enthusiastically participating in all the giveaways!

~~ Happy Holidays ~~

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