Posted in Recipes

Sesame Seed Rice (Ellu Sadam) with Roasted Eggplant and Yogurt Salad (Kathirikai Pachadi)

There was a time when I bought a lot of cookbooks. I still do but I have become selective now. As promised, here is my first post from my cookbook shelf.  Southern Spice is a book I enjoy reading. The author is Chandra Padmanabhan and I also own her first book, ‘Dakshin’. All recipes in these books are from South India. These two recipes are from the state of Tamil Nadu. Her recipes are simple, well laid out and easy to follow. The recipes below are adapted from her book. The eggplant dish was just exquisite, I could not stop eating it!



Sesame Seed Rice (Ellu Sadam)

This makes a great packed lunch or for a potluck. The sesame seeds pack in protein and thought they are high in fat, they are the healthy fats.


1 cup (US) basmati or long grained rice

2 cups water

salt to taste

Spice Powder:

1/2 cup white sesame seed (ellu or til)

2 tbsp grated coconut (I used desiccated but dry coconut- copra or fresh can also be used)

4 dry red chillies


2 tbsp oil

3 tbsp shelled peanuts (you could cheat with roasted peanuts)

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp each urad dal (black gram) and 1 tsp channa dal (Bengal gram) – if you don’t have both, don’t fret – it gives a nice crunch though

curry leaves – 10-15  leaves


Cook rice with salt and water and spread on a plate to cool. Leftover rice works well too!

In a  frying pan roast the sesame seeds and coconut separately for 2-3 minutes on a low flame. Set aside.

Heat a tsp of oil and fry the red chili for a couple of minutes. Grind with the sesame seed and coconut to a fine powder.

Heat oil and add the peanuts (if using raw) and fry till they are cooked (a few minutes). Add the rest of the tempering ingredients. When mustard seeds splutter and the dals are golden brown and remove from heat.

Mix the cooled rice, spice powder, and tempered ingredients and serve with a raita or the eggplant curd salad. Enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant and Yogurt Salad

We love eggplant in our house and cook eggplant in all types of cuisine. This is a must try!

1 large or 2 medium eggplant

1 1/2 cup yogurt

salt to taste

1-2 inch piece ginger, chopped finely

1-2 green chillies, finely chopped (increase or decrease depending on the spice you want)


2 tsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

a pinch asafoetida powder (it is used in a lot of south Indian cooking especially since garlic is not used)

1 dry red chili – broken into pieces

1 tsp each urad dal (black gram) and channa dal (Bengal gram)

5-6 curry leaves

To garnish – 1 tbsp coriander leaves (cilantro) chopped


Wash eggplant. Roast on the stove or in the oven for about 8-10 minutes – turning it around often.

Place eggplant under running water or in a bowl of cool water and peel the charred skin. Mash the pulp and keep aside.

In a pan heat some oil and add the ingredients for tempering. Once the mustard splutters add the chilli and ginger and fry for a minute or so.

Add this to the mashed eggplant and mix with yogurt and salt .

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!







Posted in Education, Recipes


20180602_082109I don’t remember much of what my teachers told me in school. But I remember my library teacher telling us read – It does not matter what you read, just read! I remember the love of reading started in school. My mother would take me to the British library to borrow books and I remember the aisles of bookshelves of all types; borrowing them and reading them. I remember acting like I was studying with a novel hidden between my textbooks; I wished they would make textbooks more interesting.

I always had a love for cooking. I could not afford to buy many cookbooks when I was a kid nor were there much choice. I would meticulously copy recipes from books, magazines, and newspapers – days before the internet. I found one recipe book which I may have started in high school and continued much later. I wish I had written dates.

Don’t miss the price on the book

Even today, I love reading cookbooks. Cookbooks are like reading an atlas, a memoir, a travel book and a food chronicle all rolled in. The recipe is important, but the story of the writer that goes with it, the style, the anecdotes, their notes all make it an enjoyable read. The recipes do not have to be made, just getting lost in the book is enough. Read!

I plan to read and write about books – cookbooks, children’s books and others – this year. Here are some images of my recipe book from yonder years.






Posted in Recipes

Coconut Oat Cookies

20180530_183848I have been baking for more than 20 years and have never tried to make oatmeal cookies. Maybe the cookies I ate were not great or it seemed too healthy. Recently, I decided to try making these, maybe because it had coconut which I like very much. I threw in some chocolate chips and it was delicious! The toasty aroma of oats and coconut wafting from the oven and the first bite of the chewy cookie is to die for.

This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite cookbook ‘The Great Cookie Book’ by Hilaire Walden.


2 cups quick-cooking oats

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup butter (always at room temperature)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar – The cookies were not very sweet but just the way we liked it.

2 eggs

4 tbsp coconut milk (or regular milk)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional) –  I felt I could add more but that is because I love chocolate

1 cup maida (all purpose flour) – I added 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

a pinch of salt (always add salt when you bake)

1 tsp of cinnamon powder


Preheat oven to 200º C (400º F)

Spread oats and coconut on a baking sheet and toast for 8 -10 mins, until golden brown. Stir occasionally to avoid burning.

Cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and continue to whip. Add coconut milk and vanilla essence.

Sift flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Add this to the butter mixture and fold in.

Stir in the coconut and oats.

Drop spoonfuls of dough on a greased baking tray. Flatten slightly with your hand or the bottom of a glass.

Bake for 8 -10 minutes. Transfer to a rack/ plate to cool.

We always eat one while it is still hot. Never could wait for them to cool.

Enjoy and do please post feedback!



Posted in Education

‘Wonder’ in Teaching Science and My Personal Mastery

masubmitted.jpegIt has been two years since I started this journey of exploration and learning. I started an MA in Design in Education from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology. I knew before I even started that I will be in for an exhilarating roller coaster ride; The potential energy- excitement and fear of the unknown – ready to start, the kinetic energy then acting upon you with new learnings and meetings and then comes the gravitational force pulling you to the ground with assessments and due dates, the acceleration of thoughts and ideas and then in the end when you stop you reach the state of inertia – but not in this case. Here I am still moving – reflecting and continuing to learn. The whole course focussed on our personal mastery. There were some wonderful facilitators who helped us on this journey. So here, I am looking at my own personal mastery.

One of the many things I started doing in the last two years was to start a blog. I had envisioned writing a cooking blog but with so many blogs already, I did not see why I should do one more.  In the first semester, we were asked to start writing a blog. It was not easy writing but write I did, these two years. I continued writing past my first semester. Though the blog became primarily a cooking blog, I plan to continue looking at science and writing about it. The other task was to do 2-3 online courses each semester the first two years. This was a great way to explore different interests including programming, the science of everyday thinking and science of gastronomy.

I also started doing things which were out of my comfort zone. Maybe writing a blog, starting to sketch was pushing me to do other things I would usually not. Sketching was meditative and helped me in ‘Seeing’. After all, seeing is the beginning of good science – observation.  I started to trek with a few of my friends. I always wonder if this was the MA talking or a mid-life crisis. Whatever it is, going out of my comfort zone to do things is opening up more avenues.


I love reading and I read both fiction and nonfiction. But this course pushed me to read books I would have never read. The first semester, most of the reading went over my head. These were mainly educational philosophy books. It took time to understand Piaget and Papert and even remember who said what. I had to google and read summaries. But as time went and more reading happened, it got easier. I remember one time, I was returning from a school trip and on the long bus ride, I was reading Protagoras. My colleague (and friend) sitting next to me offered to read it aloud to me as I did not have my glasses. It was interesting trying to understand who a ‘Sophist’ was over the din of school children having a good time with their friends. The two of us added to the din trying to pronounce the Greek names. We tried to read and understand the dialog between Protagoras and Socrates and figure out if virtues can be taught, with children shouting out, “Miss, how much more time” every five minutes. (Sophist  – “He is the one who makes men talk eloquently of what he knows”). In the last semester, I started reading John Dewey. Initially, it was confusing but as I read more I understood and related to what I read. Today, I can safely say that I can read more difficult texts and able to grasp the underlying meaning. Today, I read scholarly articles and when I google something, I first get scholarly articles for it!

In the ‘Fifth Discipline’ by Peter Senge, he says people with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode and it is a process.  As I continued this journey of personal mastery, I explored ways of learning and teaching science. I always felt that just teaching information is not enough but in this journey, I could articulate my thoughts on teaching science; that engaging imaginatively, creating a sense of ‘Wonder’ and using storytelling, experiential learning, ‘making’ and humanizing science were some of the ways. Science content is full of wonder, but science education does not implement the sense of wonder in everyday classrooms as Y Hadzigeorgiou said in his book, Imaginative Science Education.

I became a student; writing down all my thoughts and questions in an accordion book (inspired by Arzu Mistry –, exploring my inquiry using experimentation, making a DIY microscope, being captivated by the images from the microscope, writing poetry and stories. I did not know the answers to the questions I asked, I did not google the answers, instead, I designed experiments. That led to more inquiry and more experimentation. Reflecting on the process and writing it down helped get my thoughts clearer and helped unfold my thinking.

Writing my thoughts in the accordion book

Even though the course is over, I continue to ask questions and continue to explore. Writing the dissertation was painful and included many sleepless nights and I thought I would not write for a long time.  But in less than a week, I write! I am back at the amusement park may be on another ride. As Peter Senge says, it is a lifelong discipline and the journey is the reward!


Posted in Recipes, Uncategorized

Memories from 10 years ago

I found an email today from 2009.

I was approached to teach a cooking class at the local co-op. It was a wonderful experience, I still remember the adrenaline rush I had. The other time I had the same feeling was the same year when I campaigned for President Obama. Here are the recipes I cooked that day, which was a huge hit. These were pre smart phone days, so I have no pictures. But I did find my handouts.

If you have leftover boiled eggs from Easter, there is a recipe for egg curry.

Cooking of Southern India , with Preethi Vaidyanathan

Jan 29, 2009; 6-8 PM

As a new cook, Preethi was interested in non-Indian cuisine.  Moving out of India in 1994 awakened her interest in the fare of her native Bangalore. This menu of food from southern India is fast to make and fun to eat! Preethi will start with a demonstration of the preparation of  Spicy Peanut Salad, featuring peanuts, onions, chilies and  cilantro; and then prepare Egg Curry, featuring hard-boiled eggs in a  spicy sauce served over rice. Plain rice is fine, but Preethi will show Lemon Rice or Coconut Rice is even better! Next Preethi will prepare the traditional dish Poriyal, a finely chopped stir-fry of green beans and carrots seasoned with asafoetida, mustard seed, and green chilies. The perfect beverage for hot weather is Majjige, a buttermilk  drink blended with  mashed ginger.  For dessert Preethi will demonstrate the preparation of the candy-like coconut squares called Barfi. Sample size portions will be served.



2 cups roasted unsalted peanuts or raw peanuts

1 red onion chopped (1/2 cup)

1-2 tomatoes chopped (1/2 cup)

½ bunch cilantro chopped

1-2 green chilies (or more) chopped

Salt to taste

Chili powder (optional)

Juice from ½ lemon


If using raw peanuts, roast on a skillet.

Mix the above ingredients and serve.




6 eggs hard boiled, (shelled and halved)

¼ tsp turmeric

1 inch ginger, finely chopped or grated

4-5 garlic pods, finely chopped or grated

2 green chilies (Serrano or jalapeno) halved lengthwise

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

3 dried chillies

5-6 peppercorns

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)

½ cup grated coconut

1 sprig curry leaves (optional)

½ tsp mustard seeds

A pinch asafetida

Chili powder (to taste)

1 large red or yellow onion, sliced

1 tbsp canola oil

Salt to taste

½ can coconut milk (optional)

Chopped cilantro 2-3 tbsp


Roast coconut, poppy seeds, red chilies and pepper in a pan. Cool and grind with chopped garlic, ginger and a little water to make a paste.

Heat oil. Add asafetida and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds splutter add the curry leaves and sliced onions, and green chilies. Sauté till the onions are golden brown. Then add the coriander, cumin and turmeric powders. After a minute add tomatoes and coconut paste and some water. Add salt and cook till the tomatoes are cooked. If it is not spicy enough add some chilli powder and mix.

There are two ways to serve this.

  1. DRY: Place eggs on a platter and spoon the mixture on the eggs and sprinkle cilantro on it. This can also be served as an appetizer or a side for any meal.
  2. With gravy: Add coconut milk and cook for a few minutes. Add eggs gently and heat through and Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or bread.


Lemon Rice (Chitranna)


 2 cups basmati or long grained rice

4 cups water

Juice of one lemon

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

2 green chilies, chopped

1 inch ginger, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

3 tbsp roasted peanuts

Salt to taste

1 tbsp chopped cilantro, for garnishing

 For tempering

2 tsp canola oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp black gram lentils

1 tsp Bengal gram lentils

1 pinch asafetida

A few curry leaves


Cook rice and cool.

Heat oil. Add all the ingredients for tempering. When mustard seeds splutter add onion, green chilies and ginger and fry till onions are translucent.

To the lemon juice add salt and mix till dissolved. If needed add a couple of teaspoons of water.

To the onion mixture add the turmeric, peanuts and lemon juice. Take off heat and mix rice in.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.


Coconut Rice


2 cups basmati or long grained rice

4 cups water

1 cup coconut

Cashew nuts 2 tbsp

½ inch ginger, chopped

2 green chillies

Salt to taste

For tempering

2 tsp canola oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp black gram lentils

1 tsp Bengal gram lentils

1 pinch asafetida

1-2 red chillies, halved

A few curry leaves


Cook rice and cool.

Heat oil. Add all the ingredients for tempering. When mustard seeds splutter add green chilies, cashews, ginger and coconut and fry till the grated coconut is reddish brown. Add rice and salt and mix well and serve.


Beans and Carrot Palya

 1 pound beans, chopped fine (or 1 pound French cut frozen beans)

2 carrots, diced small

2-3 tbsp grated coconut

1-2 green chilies

Salt to taste

For tempering:

2 tsp canola oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp black gram lentils

1 tsp Bengal gram lentils

1 pinch asafetida

1-2 red chillies, halved

A few curry leaves

Heat oil. Add all the ingredients for tempering. When mustard seeds splutter add chopped beans, carrot, salt and stir fry. Cover and let it cook till beans are tender. Add grated coconut and mix well.

Serve hot.



1 red onion

2 tomato

1 cucumber

1 green chilli

2 tbsp cilantro chopped

1 32 oz lowfat or non fat yogurt

salt to taste


Chop onions, tomato, cucumber, chilli and mix with yogurt, salt and cilantro. Serve with rice.


Posted in Recipes, Uncategorized

Mashed Potato – The Indian Way Potato Podimas / Urulaikizhangu Podimas

20180401_102703One of my favourite dish as a kid and even now is Podimas. It is an easy to make side dish. Today is Easter and it would look really good on an Easter table especially for vegetarians. It is usually eaten with rice and maybe sambar but will even go well with dosa or even by itself. This dish will go well with lemon rice. (recipe has been posted earlier)

Traditionally, this is made without onions and my father would think it is blasphemy to add onions, but I like it with onions. You are welcome to leave out the onions.


Medium sized potatoes  4 boiled

Large onion  1 finely chopped

green chillies 1-2 finely chopped

ginger 1-inch piece finely chopped

grated coconut 1-2 tbsp (optional)

For tempering

2 tsp oil

asafoetida a pinch

2 red chillies

turmeric powder 1/4 tsp

mustard seeds 1 tsp

curry leaves 5-6 leaves

urad dal 1-2 tsp

lemon juice 1 tsp (optional)

salt to taste


Peel the boiled potato and mash coarsely.

Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add mustard, asafoetida, curry leaves, urad dal and red chillies. Add turmeric powder

Once the mustard splutters, add the onion, green chillies and ginger and fry until golden brown.

Then add the mashed potatoes, salt and mix well till the potatoes are heated through.

Add grated coconut and lemon juice and mix well. Serve hot!

Posted in Recipes, Uncategorized

Badanekai ennegai (stuffed baby eggplants) An aubergine by any other name contd..

Stuffed eggplants are made all over India with a slight variation of spices and called by different name. This is a favourite in Karnataka and is usually served with jolada rotti (sorghum bread). I remember my mother making it when we had relatives visiting from out of town.

Many many years ago, when we visited Kamat Yatri Nivas, which is famous for this dish, we asked the chef there, an old man who looked atleast 80 and who said he has been making this dish forever shared his recipe with us. Unfortunately, I did not write it down, but it tastes good when I make it.

This is a healthier version, less oil. It has a long list of ingredients but don’t get deterred by it. It is really worth the effort!


6 baby eggplants

1.5 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp curry leaves

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

salt to taste

1 large onion, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

5 cloves garlic

1 inch piece ginger

1/4 tsp tamarind paste

For the masala:

2 tsp coriander seeds

2 red chillies

1/2 cup fresh coconut (frozen grated coconut is also good)

2 tbsp peanuts

2 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp cumin


Slit eggplants and sprinkle some salt on it. Leave it a colander for 20 minutes and wash. This will remove the bitterness from the eggplant.

Dry roast ingredients for masala. Keep aside.

In a pan, heat 1 tsp oil, add onions and fry till golden brown. Add tomatoes, garlic and ginger and fry till tomatoes are well cooked. Grind this mixture with the roasted ingredients in a blender. Add some water to get a fine paste.

Stuff the eggplants with the paste

In a pan, heat the rest of the oil. Add mustard, curry leaves and turmeric powder. When mustards start to splutter, add the eggplants, any extra paste, tamarind paste, salt and cook on a low flame for 20 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and continue cooking till the eggplants are cooked.

Serve hot with roti or rice.