Monday, August 27, 2012

Black and White Photography: Roadside Bhajias


"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." ~ James Beard

..and street food in particular has its own charm. It acts as a tiny window to understand and get a taste of local favorites. Here is a vendor making hot mirchi bhajias (fritters), perfect for the rainy weather we are experiencing in Hyderabad. Here for my mother's version of the recipe. Don't forget to cut some onions on the side and sprinkle some chaat masala on the top!


4 days left for two special anniversary giveaways open for readers through out the world. Click here for more details .

Previously posted in Black and White Photography series:

Breakfast Today #sketch #foodart

until next time,

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Celebrating 5th year blog-o-anniversary with Jalapeno Corn Bread Muffins | Easy Vegetarian Bean Chilli Recipe | giveaway(s)

Just pinch me Will ya? I can't believe its been 5 years since I started this little blog of mine. 5? Are you kidding me? that is like half-a-decade!. Every single moment, every single recipe and every single thought I put in here is so worthwhile and so exhilarating & relaxing at the same time. How can such feelings co-exist? Well, I am still figuring that out. :-)

Right now as I look back, its not the numbers that matter to me but the evolution and the experience itself. I got to know an amazing bunch of people through blogging. They inspire me. teach me and be there during my happy times and also at the times of despair. Some live in various parts of the world, many whom I never met but they are just a phone call or an email away!. Wow, can such virtual relationships sustain over time? Apparently yes. I am eternally grateful to God for sending them to me. You know who you are and Thank you for your love and  for just being a part of my life.

Scroll down for a chance to win a pair of those beautiful blue handmade clay mugs
A birthday is never complete without a cake. Isn't it? But, for today I made few quick Jalapeno Corn Bread Muffins served with Vegetarian Chilli. It is a combination I very much miss since we moved back to India, so I thought what better occasion do I need to feature these two recipes on the blog. As a way to say Thank you for your affection and support over all these years, I planned a few exciting giveaways for you all. Enjoy!

I used bottled jalapenos for the recipe.

mint and coriander

{Recipe} Jalapeno Corn Bread Muffins

Adapted from Escapades

Makes 4 muffins


3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup tightly packed herbs - mint & coriander/cilantro
2 tbsp chopped jalapeno peppers
1 egg
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)


Step 1: Pulse cornmeal until smooth texture. In a mixing bowl, add cornmeal, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix.

Step 2: Add herbs and jalapenos to it. 

Step 3: In an another bowl, beat together - egg, olive oil and milk.

Step 4: Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and gently mix everything.

Step 5: Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F. Grease ramekins with olive oil and pour 3/4ths with batter. Top with some chopped jalapenos if desired. Bake for 18-20 mins until a toothpick or skewer when inserted in the center comes out clean. Rest for 10 mins. 

Step 6: Run a knife around the edges and carefully unmold. Serve as a side accompaniment with soups, stew or chilli (recipe below). Wrap the rest of the muffins in a plastic cling to prevent from drying out. Microwave for few seconds and they are as good as fresh. 

I won this set of ramekins as a giveaway from Divya's blog. :-)

{Recipe} Easy Vegetarian Bean Chilli 


3 cups boiled beans - I used chickpeas, black eyed peas, pinto beans and soya beans.
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups water
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
grated cheese, for topping


1. In a big pot, heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic for few minutes. Add carrot and peppers. Cook until soft.

2. Stir tomatoes and beans. On a low heat, cook for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt, chilli and cumin powder and pepper. Add water and continue cooking by stirring once or twice in the middle for 30-40 minutes.

3. Top with grated cheese and Serve hot with cornbread. Save left overs in refrigerator or freeze.

Sending this Vegetarian Bean Chilli as entry to My Legume Love Affair # 50, hosted by Susan this month.

Now for the fun part. To celebrate the blog-o-anniversary, I have some goodies for you all. Just like before, there are two giveaways. One for Indian readers and other for rest of the world.

For Indian readers - A chance to win a pair of "Mended" Stoneware Mugs, hand crafted by Rekha Goyal, a Mumbai-based sculptor. I purchased them a week ago on Shopo and loved them very much. The mugs are microwave proof, oven proof and are beautiful as food props. Along with these, there is also a Rs 1,000 Flipkart gift voucher up for grabs. One winner will be randomly chosen for both the giveaways.

For readers from outside India - You guys have an opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Yay!

Here is what you need to do:

1. Leave a comment on this post. As simple as that. It is important to mention your countryso that you are entered for the respective drawing.

To increase your chances in the random drawing, do one or more of the following and leave a comment once you did so. 

2. Follow Cooking With Siri on Facebook and/or 
Follow me on Twitter. - @sirime

3. Subscribe to Cooking With Siri feed.

4. Tweet about this giveaway. Feel free to use the below text -
5th blog-o-anniversary celebrations. Comment and win cool #giveaways on @sirime's blog.

If you are already liked me on facebook, following on twitter or subscribed to RSS feed, just leave a comment letting me know and you are entered in the giveaway automatically! These giveaways are open for everybody, You don't have to be a blogger to win them.

Last date for participation is August 31st 2012 midnight IST and two winners randomly picked will be announced on September 1st 2012. . 

Enter and Win. All the very best. 

Cheers to many more such happy times,

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Perfect Light Desserts: {Recipe} Best Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies with Step by Step pictures

"Dessert is probably the most important stage of the meal, since it will be the last thing your guests remember before they pass out all over the table."
~ William Powell

Almost everybody love desserts, but hate the extra calories that come with them. Isn't it. I wished there was a way where I can enjoy a general serving of cake or a muffin, without worrying or feeling guilty and particularly without using any artificial sweeteners or other fancy synthetic substitutes. I would rather put some pounds than using such stuff. Trust me.

In short, recipes that are low calorie, high in flavor and nothing less than spectacular always appeal to me. I am sure that is the case with you guys too.

If you like this recipe, you might also like Basic Vanilla Cookie Dough + Cut-Out (Star) Cookies
Black and White Heart CookiesWheat Free Chocolate Chip cookiesOrange Pecan Cookies 

..and I ate them all!

..and for the same, I stumbled upon a perfect cookbook during my quest. Those who love baking are already aware of Nick Malgieri's popular book - "How to Bake" and for the cookbook - Perfect Light Desserts: All Under 300 Calories per generous serving, he teamed up with David Joachim, a health food writer to create lighter desserts that are not high in calories using real butter, sugar, flour and eggs. And they do it by using them in moderation and in perfect combination. Each recipe featured has a nutritional breakdown, perfect for people who are dieting and watching their calories. Today I chose to make these simple "David's Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies" which are super duper delicious and very moist. A keeper recipe.


{Recipe} Best Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim

Makes around 30 cookies

Nick's Notes: My co-author David Joachim eats tons of these moist cookies but still stays very thin. What I love about them is the fact that they are reduced in fat and sugar, yet every bit as good as traditional chocolate chip cookies. 


11/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
5 tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips


Step 1: Soften butter to room temparature. Sift flour, baking soda and salt (omit if using salted butter). Set aside.

Step 2: In a mixing bowl beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar, on medium speed for a minute. 

Step 3: Add egg, milk and vanilla.

Step 4: Beat with an electric mixer using a spatula to scrape down the mixture from edges.

Step 5: Add flour, 1/2 cup at-a-time and beat on a low-speed.  

Step 6: Fold in the chocolate chips.

Step 7: Cover and chill the dough in the bowl for about 15-20 minutes to keep the cookies from spreading too much while baking. I made just half a batch immediately and the rest on next day. Both the times, I had amazing results. Chilling the dough overnight definitely helps to hold their shape better. 

Step 8: Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F. Form small balls using two spoons or ice cream scoop and arrange on a cookie sheet or a baking sheet 2 inches apart.

Step 9: Bake for about 8 to 12 minutes until the cookies look dull on the surface, have spread and still quite moist. Cool the cookies on the pans and then on wire racks for 5-10 mins. Slide them off and cool them completely. Keep the cookies between sheets of wax paper in a tin or an air-tight container.

just out of the oven. cooling.

all stacked up

A cookie tastes best when enjoyed with a glass of milk. Now you can have them as many as you want, guilt-free. No one can eat just one as the calorie count per cookie is less than 100 calories. How cool is that! :-)

Best Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies

P.S - this is not a paid or sponsored post. I bought the cookbook, loved the recipes tested, hence decided to feature here on my blog. Stay tuned for more in coming days.

until next time,

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Under 15 mins: {Recipe} Margherita Tortilla Pizza - Step by Step Pictures


There's no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap. ~ Kevin James

I would like to change the above quote a little. There is no better felling to have a simple home-made pizza and with an heavenly combination of flavors such as - Tomato, Cheese and Basil.

Both myself and TH long for such quick meals to satiate our midnight cravings especially for italian food. Here is a quick recipe idea for peeps like us - Margherita Tortilla Pizza.

Some more quick and easy recipe ideas - Lemon flavored Rice Noodles, Baked Potato Spinach Corn Tikkis, Sweet Corn Sundal, Under 15 mins Tofu Makhani, Bombay French Toast, 2-minute Pineapple Dessert

It takes less than 15 mins to put together and when served with a salad or sandwich on the side it becomes a complete meal. No one can eat just one of these. I can guarantee you that as my parents who are very picky eaters themselves, especially when it comes to Italian cuisine asked me to make a third helping of these cuties.

These are just irresistible.

four basic ingredients along with some tortillas & tomato sauce. you are good to go!

{Recipe} Margherita Tortilla Pizza


4 tortillas
1/2 cup olive oil
few slices of tomato
basil leaves, shredded
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup home made or store bought tomato sauce


1) Preheat oven to 190 C or 375 F. Brush olive oil on both sides of tortilla and prick lightly with fork. Bake for 2 minutes per each side.

2) Spread some tomato sauce (home made or store bought) on the baked tortilla.

3) Place few tomato slices and sprinkle with grated cheese.

4) Top with some shredded basil leaves. Bake for 5-6 mins until cheese melts and the bottom is crispy.

5) Slice and eat.

quick,easy and delicious way to curb those pizza cravings!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend ahead.

until next time,

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Simplicity at its Best - {Recipe} Roasted Cauliflower with Whole Cumin Seeds

Each one of us has a favorite vegetable. Ofcourse they change over time and as we get introduced to new textures & flavors. But, for me it was always - Cauliflower, my first love which am sure will be likewise in future as well. I usually make a tomato + cauliflower dry curry with minimal spices at every opportunity. Since we had some sporadic gloomy days some time ago, I wanted to a pretext to turn on my oven so that its heat can cheer me up a bit.

Other recipes using CauliflowerVegetarian Rogan Josh (with Cauliflower & Tofu)Cauliflower (Gobi) ParathaVegan Christmas Tree Pie, Fried Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower with Whole Cumin Seeds
I also was not in a mood to whip, cream and bake something elaborate like cookies or cakes. A sudden whim and I remembered reading about this recipe on Melissa Clark's blog (one of my favorite food writers). A simple toss with olive oil and cumin seeds, roast until crispy and there you have a delicious bowl of roasted cauliflower which is so darn addictive that it took exactly 3 minutes, literally for me and my sister to finish it off in entirety. :-)

{Recipe} Roasted Cauliflower with Whole Cumin Seeds

Recipe idea from Melissa Clark

It is versatile enough to be great as a side dish or just as a snack with an unbeatable combo of flavor and texture. Add whatever you have in hand.  I am planning to add herbs and nuts next time around. For an indianized version, sprinkle some chat masala once out of the oven. For some cheesy goodness, one can also sprinkle grated cheese in last few minutes of roasting.


1 medium sized cauliflower, cut into florets
olive oil (about 1/2 cup)
generous pinch of cumin seeds (jeera)
salt & pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425F or 220 C.

2. In a mixing bowl, add lots of olive oil with cumin seeds. Toss the cauliflower florets until evenly coated. Sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Spread the florets on a baking sheet evenly and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once or twice for even toasting and caramelization.

Cauliflower florets

Just out of the oven..

Serve with hot sauce like I did or toss/sprinkle cool yogurt/curd with herbs on the top.

I could just manage to save this little bunch for the picture. Rest was all gone by then! :-)

For more such simple yet delicious recipes, Check out the Recipe Index featuring more than 200 posts .

until next time,

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Under 15 minutes: {Recipe} Easy Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce and Fried Egg

Today is Saturday. a self-declared do-nothing day. a day usually spent with a book in hand and definitely not a day where I cook something, photograph and share here on the blog.

But today is different.

I just couldn't resist from posting this quick, utterly, buttery recipe - pasta with tomato sauce and fried egg on the side, a combination made in heaven. literally.

{Recipe} Easy Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce and Fried Egg

Serves 1


1 fistful of spaghetti
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup (or more, based on how tomatoe-y you want) home made tomato sauce (or) store-bought tomato sauce
few red pepper flakes
handful of frozen peas, microwaved for 2 minutes
1 egg
1/2 tbsp dried basil leaves + 1 tsp to sprinkle on the fried egg (if desired)
salt - to taste


1. Boil water and add salt to it. Add spagetti and let it cook al dente. Mine was done in 8-9 minutes. Drain. Keep aside.

2. Meanwhile melt butter in a pan and add tomato sauce and peas. Cook for 2 minutes and add cooked spaghetti. Crush basil leaves between your palms and sprinkle on pasta with few red pepper flakes. Mix gently.

3. Heat a pan, add a wee bit of butter or oil, break an egg, sprinkle some salt and basil leaves.

Serve pasta piping hot with fried egg on the side. Yum Yum! This definitely made my day with its simplicity and deliciousness. :-)

I never realized that updating my recipe index would be this tedious and time-consuming. But I did it - neatly categorized and added all the recipes ever posted on the blog. Check it out for some fun breakfast/lunch/dinner ideas. :-) Your feedback is always welcome.

until next time,

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

{Recipe} Paneer Jalfrezi (Indian Cottage Cheese with Mixed Vegetables) with Home-made Coconut Milk Fried Rice + winners for Quick Fix Indian giveaway announced

It's monsoon time here in Hyderabad with heavy, sporadic rains almost every evening. A hot cup of chai with few spicy crackers or sometimes just biscuits on the side along with a book in hand is a usual affair.  Here are my latest reads  -

1. Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot #10) by Agatha Christie - Can I say am in love with Mr.Poirot, such a witty guy. I can't wait to start on other books in this series.

2. Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella - a total chic flick. this is my second book of Sophie's and I feel her stories are perfect to me made into a bollywood movie. Anybody agrees with me? ;-)

3. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. - If you are up for an emotional roller coaster ride, then pick up this book. The language by the author is simple, prose good and there are many parts of the book which will sting you like a bee and make you realize the hardships of the poor. The plotline seems predictable, but actually its not and I like the way it unfolds in both the worlds of Asha and Kavita. These characters will stay with me forever. It is the sad and unfortunate reality (which I completely detest) of the society today that boys are favored over girls and after reading this book, it made me realise how lucky I am to have such progressive parents who still to this day strive for the betterment and happiness of me and my little sister.

Paneer Jalfrezi (Indian Cottage Cheese with Mixed Vegetables) with Fried Rice
So, during my weekend grocery shopping I spotted these beautiful red and yellow peppers, all I could think was Paneer Jalfrezi, a colorful, dry side dish very popularly made  in many indian restaurants. Accompanied to that was a usual fried rice but with a twist of home-made coconut milk. These were served as a Sunday lunch to for few close friends and family, thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Adding coconut milk was amma's idea. Full credit to her as the rice had a nice, slightly mellow hint of coconut-ey flavor which added a new essence to it.

Slightly sweet and spicy - What a beautiful pepper(s) to cook with. 

One can never have too much paneer. ;-)

Veggies, chopped roughly to the size of paneer - ready to be sauteed.

All mixed in and simmering. 

Rice on the side - home-made coconut milk with no preservatives add a nice touch to the usual fried rice. 

pressure off, ready to be fluffed with a fork!

Want to grab a plate?

Paneer Jalfrezi

{Recipe} Paneer Jalfrezi with Home-made Coconut Milk Fried Rice 

Home-made Coconut Milk Fried Rice - Cut a whole coconut into pieces and grind it until smooth paste. In a muslin cloth, squeeze as much coconut milk you can into a bowl. Give it a rest for few minutes and squeeze for more.


2 cups basmati rice
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1 bunch mint leaves, chopped (2 tightly packed cups)
3-4 green chillies, slit in the middle
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp garam masala or biryani masala
3 cups home-made coconut milk diluted with little water
3 tbsp oil
1 cup mixed vegetables, chopped - carrot,beans,peas etc (optional)


1. In a pressure cooker, heat oil, add onion, mint leaves, ginger-garlic paste and fry these for 2 mins.

2. Now, add in garam/biryani masala, green chillies and vegetables(if using any). Cook these for 2-3 mins.  Season with salt, add rice and cook for a minute.

3. Finally add the coconut milk and pressure cook until 1 whistle. Turn off the heat and once pressure has subsided, fluff with fork.

Serve hot with any spicy side dish and raita.

Paneer Jalfrezi (Indian Cottage Cheese with MixedVegetables)


1 cup of paneer/indian cottage cheese, cut into strips (immerse in salted hot water until use)
3 cups of mixed veggies - I used 3 kinds of bell peppers - green, yellow, red and zucchini
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
3 tbsp of tomato puree (add one more finely sliced tomato if there is no tomato pure on hand)
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
salt to taste
1/8 tsp turmeric
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) - optional
4 tbsp vegetable oil
lemon juice and coriander leaves - for garnish


1. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. Once they start to sizzle, add onions and ginger-garlic paste. Saute on medium-low heat for few minutes. Add mixed veggies. Cook half-way through. Make sure the veggies are still crunchy and not mushy.

2. Add tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato ketchup, salt and turmeric. Mix well. Add 1 cup of water as well.

3. Add chilli powder and coriander powder. Rub the kasuri methi between your palms and sprinkle the leaves. Cover and cook on low for few minutes, stirring once or twice in the middle.

4. Lightly squeeze water out of paneer pieces and add to the veggies. Gently mix. the spices must evenly coat the paneer. Let it simmer on low heat for 8-10 minutes, covered.

5. Turn off the heat. Add lemon juice and top with coriander leaves. Serve with rice or roti.

Lunch/Dinner served - Paneer Jalfrezi (Indian Cottage Cheese with Mixed Vegetables)


The two lucky winners (randomly chosen by my mom) who won a copy each of  Quick Fix Indian Cookbook by Ruta Kahate giveaway are - Nupur (US) and Hamaree Rasoi (India)

Here were their comments -

Good looking tater tots!

My favorite quick-fix recipes would be grilled cheese (bread stuffed with cheese and assorted veg, and a smear of pickle and chutney). I'm located in the US, crossing my fingers that I win this fun cookbook.
Hamaree RasoiJuly 20, 2012 12:23 PMSiri , my quick fix recipe which I make quite often for my son is cut whole wheat bread in round shape with glass and grate some carrot, chopped capsicum, onion, mozzarella cheese on top and season it with salt, oregnao and cilantro leaves. Bake is for 10 minutes!!
These tarter tots are looking so cute and crispy.
Following you via subscribe and Facebook also :-)Finger crossed ;-)

Congratulations fellas. I will send you an email for your shipping addresses pretty soon. 

until next time,

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