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

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.

Posted in Recipes, Uncategorized

Maavinkai Chitranna (Raw Mango Rice)


Gift Guide

This week we celebrated Ugadi, the New Year day celebrated in Karnataka and some other parts of India. Yugadi or Ugadi means New Beginnings. It is the first day after the first new moon. It is the day after the March equinox. The festival, like many other festivals in India, is celebrated with wearing new clothes. They also start the day by eating a mixture of neem leaves (which is very bitter) and jaggery (unrefined cane sugar). This signifies that in life we have both sweet and bitter experiences. As a kid, I always ate more jaggery than neem, saying that I would life to be sweet always. J All festivals in India are always celebrated with good food. Each festival has its own special food. On Ugadi, you eat holige or obbattu (my kids call it a sweet chapati, usually filled with dal or coconut) and Maavinkai Chitranna (Raw Mango rice). This is also the time when we find a lot of raw mangoes in the market.


3 cups cooked rice

1 raw mango, grated

2 tbsp grated coconut (optional)

¼ cup peanuts

1-2 green chillies chopped

1 tsp mustard

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp urad dal

a pinch of asafoetida

salt to taste

6 curry leaves

2 tbsp chopped cilantro


Cook rice and keep aside to cool. Leftover rice works well too.

In a pan, heat oil. Add asafoetida, mustard and urad dal.

When mustards splutter, add curry leaves, turmeric and peanuts and fry till peanuts for a minute. Keep mixing to avoid the peanuts to burn.

Add chillies, coconut and the mango and fry for a few minutes. Add rice and salt. Mix well and cook till rice is heated through. Garnish with cilantro and serve with raita, coconut chutney, papad or potato chips.

Note:  A more common chitranna is made with lemon. Replace mango with the juice of one lemon. For lemon chitranna or lemon rice, add one chopped onion and a tsp of chopped ginger when you add the chillies to fry. Add lemon juice just before you add the rice and mix. This is a great dish for Easter with its vibrant yellow colour.





Posted in Education

This is where I go to think…

I was just writing a blog on mindfulness and working on a MOOC course on the same topic. I have been working on assignments, reading and rereading, understanding some and trying to figure out the others (for my MA). Also, planning for classes and writing reports…

Sitting in one position the whole evening did not help with my back. So I decided to get up and stretch and put away my computer. I wanted to clear my head and start thinking afresh on timeless ways of learning and visual leadership. Sometimes sleeping on something or taking your mind off helps.

I walked around a bit and without realising, I headed to the kitchen. Some may go for a walk, some may sketch (and I have tried both), or whatever suits them. But for me, it is the kitchen. It is the place for me to muddle around and clear my head (to meditate). It does not help, that I had baked a cake this morning, waiting to be eaten. I may put on more weight, thinking and clearing my head in the kitchen, but that is my place to be! This is where my creative juices flow. Maybe, this is where I have to start my visual (experience) leadership.