Posted in Recipes

UPMA KOZHUKATTAI (Steamed rice dumplings)

Rice is a staple in the South of India. Traditionally steamed rice is eaten for lunch and dinner. For breakfast and evening snacks, rice is used in different forms to make scrumptious snacks. Some of the most common and well-known food items are idlis, dosas and appam. Dumplings are made in different ways, for example, modak or kadubu (filled dumpling – both savory and sweet, usually made during Ganesh Chaturthi), Coorgi kadubu (round dumplings made with rice flour and eaten with a veg, chicken or pork curry). But one of my favorite dumplings is upma kozhukattai. Eaten with chutney or sambar makes it a wholesome meal. I even eat it plain at any time of the day.



Idli rava (rice rava)* – 2 cups

grated coconut – 3/4 cup

water -4 cups

salt to taste

To temper

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp channa dal (split chickpea lentil)

1 tbsp urad dal (split black gram lentil)

asafoetida 1 pinch

dried red chillies 3-4, broken into pieces

curry leaves 1 tsp


Heat oil in a pan, add mustard and when they crackle, add all the other ingredients for tempering and fry till the lentils are golden brown.

Add water and salt and let it boil.

Add coconut and rice and keep stirring to avoid lumps. Keep stirring till all the water evaporates and it comes together. (It has the consistency of upma)

Let it cool for a few minutes.

Dip your hand in cold water, take a spoonful of the upma in your palms and form into oblong shapes. Place in a steamer plate. Do this with all the upma.

Steam the kozhukattais for 10 -15 minutes. You could use a regular steamer or the idli plates in a pressure cooker.

Serve hot with coconut chutney or sambar.

*Idli rava – Traditionally to make rice rava at home, wash and strain rice, spread on a muslin cloth and let dry. In a mixer, pulse the rice till coarse and use. Now, idli rava is sold which saves time.

tiffin – a snack or a light meal






Posted in Recipes, Uncategorized

Chitranna (Lemon Rice) An ode to rice contd….

Lemon rice is a very easy to make and popular south Indian dish.  The tanginess from the lemon, the spice from the green chillies, the crunch from the peanuts and the yellow colour from the turmeric make the dish an irresistible one.

This was one of my favourite lunch to take to school. It had to have lots of peanuts and every spoon of rice had to have at least a few peanuts. This would be a dish you could make for picnics or potluck and would look good on an Easter table. This dish is usually made with cold rice and a good way to use your leftover rice.


2 cups rice cooked and cooled (leftover rice works well)

2 tbsp lemon juice

salt to taste

4 tbsp raw peanuts (if you want to make it fancy, add cashew nuts instead) – if using roasted peanuts add to the end

1 – 2 green chillies chopped

1/2 cup chopped onions

2 tsp coriander (cilantro) leaves chopped

1-inch ginger chopped

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp urad dal

1 tsp channa dal

1 tsp mustard seeds

a pinch asafoetida

1 tsp curry leaves


Heat oil in a pan, add asafoetida, urad dal, channa dal, mustard seeds and wait for it to splutter.

Add curry leaves and raw peanuts and fry for a few minutes on a medium flame.

Add onions, chillies and ginger and stir-fry until golden brown.

Mix the lemon juice, turmeric powder and salt in a small bowl.

Add the lemon juice mixture.

Add rice and mix well. Sprinkle cilantro. If using roasted peanuts, add peanuts and mix well.

Serve with papad or potato chips, raitha (recipe in the previous post) or pickle or yoghurt or just eat it plain.






Posted in Recipes, Uncategorized

Thayir Sadam and Mangai Inji (Yoghurt Rice and Mango ginger pickle)

Curd Rice or Yoghurt rice is a very simple dish eaten at the end of a meal. After a fiery hot meal with a medley of spices, curd rice cools the system. You have to eat it to experience the feeling. It is comfort food for most south Indians. In the summer months, this is the usually packed for school lunches or picnics.

Usually, at the end of the meal rice is mixed with some yoghurt and salt right on the plate and eaten. It can be as simple as that or made more ‘fancy’ by tempering it with mustard seeds and red chillies or adding pomegranate or grapes. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can add any or all of the ingredients, of course, rice, yoghurt and salt is a must. This recipe is written especially for my friend’s son Rishaad who loves his ‘curd rice’ and for his mom to make it for him.

Mango ginger is from the ginger family but is milder and tastes of raw mango. I have included a recipe for a simple pickle. My friend Mrudul gave me this fresh mango ginger from her garden and I could not resist making this pickle and have begun eating it even though it needs to sit for a few days.

Yoghurt (Curd) Rice

2 cups cooked rice

2 cups plain yoghurt

salt to taste

1 tsp coriander leaves (cilantro)

2 tbsp pomegranate


2 tsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1-2 red chillies

1 tsp curry leaves

1 tsp urad dal

1 tsp channa dal

1 pinch asafoetida


Mix rice, yoghurt and salt together.

Heat oil, add the ingredients for tempering when oil is hot.

When the mustard starts to splutter, add the mixture to the rice and mix. Add coriander leaves and pomegranate and serve.

Tip: If the yoghurt is very sour add some water or milk and mix to reduce the sourness.

Recipe for Mangai Inji 


1 cup Mango ginger

2 green chillies

2 limes

salt to taste


Scrape skin off ginger, wash and pat dry

Slice or cut chillies into small pieces

Use the juice of 2 limes and mix all of the above

Store in a dry sterilized glass bottle. Let it sit for a day or two to absorb all the flavours of the lime, chillies and salt. (If you can resist)

Store in a cool place for up to 2 weeks.


Posted in Recipes, Uncategorized

Vegetable Pulao and Raita


Rice is a staple of India, especially in the south. It is very versatile. Plain cooked rice has no flavour and takes the flavours of the curries you add to it. In the south, there are variations of gravies like sambar, rasam, vathakuzhambu, molagootal etc. Some of them are flavoured with tamarind to give a spicy and sour mouthwatering dish with lentils and vegetables. Added to plain cooked rice, you have a complete meal. Rice tastes different when flavoured with lemon, mango(recipe in previous posts), coconut or curds (yoghurt). A meal is ended with a bowl of refreshing curd rice which clears your palate and cools your system (other rice recipes in following blog posts)

Biryani comes in different forms. Every city in the country has a version of biryani. The Persian / afghani influenced pilau using basmati rice to the fiery spicy Andhra biryani to the more local Dindigul and  Donne biryani using short grained rice. They all are different but they all are scrumptious. Just writing this is making my mouth water and longing for a plate of biryani.

Vegetarian Pulao and Raita

This recipe is long overdue and written especially for Lisa Wilson.


1 cup Basmati rice

1cup vegetables (carrot, beans, potato, cauliflower, mushrooms, peas, capsicum) – at least two of them – cut into pieces onion – 2 thinly sliced

1 tomato – chopped

6 cloves garlic – minced

2 inches ginger – minced

2 tbsp mint leaves 

2 tbsp coriander leaves (cilantro)

2 bay leaf


1 stick cinnamon

2 cardamom whole 

1 tsp chilli powder – (can increase if you want it spicier)

1 tsp cumin powder

2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp nutmeg powder

1 tsp garam masala

3 tbsp oil

2 cups water or stock

salt to taste

1 tbsp cashew nuts or almonds  – fried in a tsp of oil or ghee

(I sometimes cheat and use biryani masala powder which substitutes all the dry powders. If using use 3 tsp) – available in Indian stores)

Also use you can substitute vegetables and use a protein like chicken, shrimp or lamb. if using meat, marinate in a tbsp of yoghurt and half the spice powder for an hour or two to increase the flavours. This is optional.


Soak basmati rice in water for 1/2 hour and then strain and keep aside.

Heat oil in a broad heavy pan. Add dry spices (bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves) and fry for a few seconds. Add sliced onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry till golden brown. Now add the tomatoes and continue to fry till well cooked. Now add vegetables and stir fry till they are about half cooked.

Add chopped coriander and mint, if using. Add the spices and stir-fry for a minute or two. Add salt.

Add drained rice and stir fry till the rice is well coated with the spices. (At this point, you can transfer vegetable and rice mixture into an electric rice cooker.)

Then add boiling water or stock to the pan, cover and let cook on low flame. When rice is cooked, sprinkle fried nuts and serve hot with raita.



1 onion chopped (If you like raw onions, you can add more, else less. I am not a big fan of raw onions, so I add very little or not)

1 tomato chopped

1 cucumber chopped finely or grated

1 tsp coriander leaves (cilantro)

1 green chilli chopped optional

1/2 tsp cumin powder (optional)

1 cup yoghurt

salt to taste


Mix all of the above and sprinkle cumin powder and serve.

Raita can be served with any rice or rotis as an accompaniment.

Posted in Recipes

Chewy Chocolate Coffee Brownie

I have baked brownies over the years and have used different recipes. You can hardly go wrong in a brownie. If it is slightly undercooked, it is fudgy and overcooked, cakey. But, the taste is always good. You can find a million recipes online and I have tried many of them. I usually make brownies with oil. Sometimes I use 90 % dark chocolate if I want a real chocolatey brownie (which kids do not usually enjoy) and sometimes milk chocolate if I am baking for kids. This recipe, just calls for cocoa. It is one of the best brownies I have made. This was served with vanilla ice cream. We also serve this with a drizzling of Kahlua on top. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures. But believe me, my mouth is watering as I pen down this recipe. Enjoy!

This recipe has been adapted from the Nestle recipe.


1 cup of granulated sugar

3/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tbsp black coffee (optional) – if you do not want to use coffee, substitute with water

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour (maida) – I sometimes substitute half the flour with whole wheat flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1/2 Tsp baking soda

1/4 Tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

powdered sugar (optional)


Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C

Mix together butter, sugar and coffee in a bowl. To it add eggs and vanilla and mix.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Add the sugar- butter mixture to the flour and mix.

Add the sugar- butter mixture to the flour and mix.

Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Spread onto a prepared baking pan.

Bake for around 20 minutes.

Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Serve with ice cream.

Enjoy and do comment on the recipe!











Posted in Recipes

Chocolate Chip Cookies

How toSurprise Your Husbandon hisBirthday

I am posting after a long time. This week my son turned 17. Every year for the past 6 -7 years he has asked for these chocolate chip cookies for his birthday. Always a hit!

This has been adapted from the famous Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have been using this recipe for about 15 years now. It is an easy to bake cookie, so do try it and let me know how it turns out.


2 1/4 cup all purpose flour (maida)

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C)

Sift flour, baking soda and salt

Beat till fluffy and creamy, butter and the two sugars.

Slowly add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Add the flour mixture and mix until combined well.

Add the chocolate chips and nuts and mix.

Drop a tablespoon each on a cookie sheet/pan and bake for 9-10 minutes. Cool and store in airtight container.


I use a small ice cream scoop to get uniform-size cookies.

If you like your cookies crisp, add more granulated sugar than the brown sugar and vice versa if you want them chewier. Play around to find what you like.

I have substituted 1/2 of all-purpose flour with whole wheat at times and it has worked.

Remember to always use unsalted butter for baking.













Posted in Recipes

Upma/ Uppitu -A Simple South Indian breakfast

the humble

Upma or Uppitu is a simple breakfast which can be made in a jiffy. It is a classic example of South Indian food, which is healthy, uses few simple ingredients to make a delicate, scrumptious dish. It is usually eaten for breakfast but can be eaten at any time of the day.  When we lived abroad, it was our staple Sunday breakfast which my husband made and is quite an expert at making it.

There are different variations to the simple upma.You may add vegetables if you please; I usually do, as it makes it more healthy and complete.


Serves 4

1 cup bansi rava (semolina/cream of wheat – look for the coarser variety)

2 tsp vegetable oil

1 tsp mustard seeds, urad dal

1 tsp curry leaves (optional)

1 big onion, finely chopped

2 green chillies, finely chopped

½ inch ginger, finely chopped (optional)

2 tomatoes, finely chopped

½ cup chopped vegetables (carrot, beans, green peas, capsicum- you could use one or all. If you do not want vegetables, leave it out)

2 cups water

salt to taste

coriander leaves (cilantro) – to garnish

6-8 cashew nuts – to garnish

2 tsp ghee (optional) or oil


In a saucepan, heat 2 tsp ghee or oil. Fry the cashew nuts and keep them aside. If you want to go healthy, toast the cashew nuts and keep aside.

In the same pan, add the rest of the oil and add mustard seeds, urad dal. When they splutter, add the curry leaves, onions, chillies and ginger. Fry till golden brown – keep mixing.

Then add the vegetables and cook till they are 50% cooked.

Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes on medium heat.

While the vegetables are cooking, heat water. (I usually have water in a kettle ready).

Add the boiling water and salt.

The next step is the tricky part. Just like when you make sauces, you need to whisk it well to avoid lumps, you have to mix continuously to avoid uncooked lumps of rava.

On low heat, slowly add the rava to the mixture and mix briskly to avoid lumps. Once well mixed, cover and let it cook for a few minutes.

Garnish with coriander, cashew nuts and ghee. Serve piping hot with pickle, chutney or plain yogurt.