How to make Kaju Katli | Cashew Burfi | Cashew Fudge Recipe
Sometime in October last year, just ahead of Diwali, we bumped into my husband's close family friend at a mall one evening. After a brief chat, Mr. S and his wife headed to shop in the mall, while his mom and young daughter hung around us, continuing the talk. My mother and I nearly spent an hour chatting with aunty while the kids were engrossed playing in the ball pit. We spoke at length about the upcoming Diwali preparations, the new dress that aunty had sewn on occasion of Diwali for her grand-daughter, the small disparities in our cultures and the celebrations, sharing our favorite family recipes that made the festive celebrations more special.

One of the recipes that aunty shared with us that evening was the recipe for this Kaju Katli, a popular cashew based sweet that is a famous family favorite in many homes, especially in the North, where gifting boxes of sweets is customary to their traditions. Although we are past Diwali now, I don't think this requires any occasion for celebration. You can make them at home, at your convenience anytime and feel pleased with this indulgence. If you have a weakness of Kaju Katlis, then I am afraid you may not be able to resist eating just one.

Making these burfis at home may sound intimidating, but it isn't. This was the first time I attempted making them at home and they came out delicious. I started off nervously even as I measured the amounts suggested by aunty, but she had assured that the recipe would work even for the most novice, immature cook, and that assurance itself wanted me to try this recipe in the first place. The end result ofcourse was smooth, melt-in-mouth goodness of cashew fudges.

There are many ways to prepare this dessert. A common one being where the cashew nuts are soaked in water overnight and ground the next day, then cooked in single-strand sugar syrup till it comes together to form a dough. As an alternate, easier method, you can grind the cashews to a fine powder and mix with sugar syrup, cooking it on a low flame to form a soft dough. The dough is then spread and flattened on a plate and cut into thin diamonds. Commercially sold katlis have a layer to silver wark on them, however, for a home version you can skip them totally. This version of kaju katli is an easier where you do not have to worry about sugar syrup or its accurate consistency. Hence, time saving and easier which gives you the burfis of same quality as bought at a store.

Kaju Katli | Cashew Fudge


2 cups cashewnuts, heaped
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. ghee (approx. 3 tsp.)


Grind the cashews to a fine powder in a mixie. I used the chutney jar as the whiz option on my mixie helps me control how fine I want the cashews to be powdered. Ensure that the cashews are not powdered to an extent that they begin to leave oils.

Heat the sugar and water in a thick bottomed pan and stir well till all of the sugar is dissolved in the water. Just as it comes to a rolling boil, add the cashew powder and stir well on a low flame.

The cashew mixture will soon come together and begin to thicken. Once it thickens enough to form a mass / sticky dough / lump, add a teaspoon of ghee. Remove the whole of the mixture from the pan.

Transfer the prepared mixture on to an upturned greased plate or a butter paper. I used a marble chakla. Allow it cool a little. When its cool enough to be handled, knead it gently to form a smooth dough. If the dough is too stiff and find it hard to knead, add another teaspoon of ghee. This is optional though.

Using a greased rolling pin, roll the dough gently and evenly till its about 4-5 mm thick in height. Allow to cool. When cooled completely, use a sharp knife to cut the cashew fudge into diamond shapes. Gently transfer the kaju katli to serving plate or store in an air tight container.

Tomato Three Cheese Thin Crust Pizza

How to make Tomato Three Cheese Thin Crust Pizza Recipe
Another month has gone by and boy, October is here! I had promised myself to get out of the cocoon and post atleast couple of more recipes before the end of September, but I failed myself again.

The changing months remind me how blessed the second part of the year has been, particularly this year with some long weekends falling back to back over the past 3 weeks. We had Ganesh Chaturthi fall on 18th Sep, the Friday, followed by Bakrid on 24th, the Thursday last week. It came as an advantage when the leave on Thursday was called off and pushed to Friday. As an unplanned holiday, we decided to make the best of a long weekend break, stayed home, sewed some teeny-weeny clothes for the little girl's barbie, napped well in the noon and baked some delicious pizzas for our dinner.

Pizza dough prep Pizza dough prep_1Pizza dough prep_2

For a long time now, making pizza at home has not just been a menu of convenience and break from the usual course, but very therapeutic when made from scratch. Its a joy to watch the yeast act it's way through the dough, rise and double it up. Intimidating it may sound. But there's hardly anyway one can go wrong with a pizza flatbread if the yeast has played its part well.

Making the dough and sauce from scratch indeed calls for some pre-planning and can end up being time consuming if you are time crunched, but this is what makes the most delicious pizza, with slices that are endearing and smell of freshly baked bread, topped with molten lava of cheese to boast.

So, I've made pizzas several times at home. Combinations vary. Toppings change. Each time they evolve. Yet, every time they sing of freshness and subtlety. The flavors burst and melt with each bite. At times they are made quick, simple and unpretentious, on other occasions they can be fancy with a varirty of vegetable toppings. I decide toppings on a whim, unplanned and unprepared. But they hardly matter. When you have good cheese to camouflage, you always have sumptuous and satisfying slices on your plate and lips that curve into a smile. Don't forget, a well made crust and good cheese is the key, and you have a winning recipe.

Pizza prep

There are several recipes available for a good pizza dough, but this recipe always works like charm for me, especially when I prefer to use whole wheat flour. It may seem unusual to use milk based bread recipe in a pizza dough, but I prefer it for the soft, supple and airy results it provides to a dough base that holds the sauce, vegetables and cheese well, yet doesn't lose its texture. The whole wheat flavor adds a healthy twist with a nice nutty backdrop to whatever toppings you want to layer on.

One of the reason why I love keeping the crust on the thinner side is that the dough doesn't require time to rise after proofing nor requires par-cooking. As the dough rests and doubles, you prepare the sauce, cook, simmer, season it and let it cool. Then you roll out the dough and let it rest on the counter while you prepare the toppings. For a recipe like this three cheese tomato pizza, all you need a good dough base and a fresh tomato basil sauce with three variety of cheeses you can get your hands on. Remember, mozzarella is a must for that gooey-stringy mess. The others are much upto your choice. I suggest you get the best fresh mozzarella possible. I chose a combination of cheeses with high, medium and low melting points. Ricotta has a low melting point, and I paired it with cheddar and mozzarella with medium to high melting points. That helps avoid this pizza disintegrate into a cheesy mess.

Tomato Three Cheese Thin Crust Pizza_1

Tomato Basil Pizza Sauce


8-10 pods of garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup tomato sauce (optional)
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, torn
1 tsp. dry oregano (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Paprika to taste


Saute finely chopped garlic in oil for 2 mins till they turn transparent. Add the tomato puree and stir well. Simmer and cook for atleast 15 minutes or till it reduces and leaves oil from the sides of the pan. Add in the tomato sauce and stir well. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the freshly torn basil leaves, dry oregano herbs (optional), paprika and salt to taste. Stir well. Turn off the flame and set aside to cool. Use this sauce to spread over the pizza base.

Three Cheese Tomato Thin Crust Pizza


For the dough base:

Follow the recipe here or use a store bought thin crust pizza base

For the homemade sauce:

Homemade (recipe above) or store bought pizza sauce

For the toppings:

1 large tomato, de-seeded and sliced in rounds
1 onion, sliced
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 slices of cheddar cheese, torn
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian seasoning / Italian herbs


Pre-heated oven at 200 deg C.

For a thin crust pizza, roll out the pizza dough as thin as possible, about ¼ inch thick. Prick all over the pizza dough using a fork. Allow it to sit on the counter for 10 mins.

Place the pizza on the pizza tray. Top with homemade tomato sauce and slather it evenly. Top with sliced tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle drained ricotta cheese, followed by cheddar and topped by generous amounts of mozzarella cheese. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 deg C for 20-30 minutes or till the cheese melts and the edges of pizza brown. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Tomato Three Cheese Thin Crust Pizza

Methi Mutter Malai Recipe

How to make Methi Mutter Malai Restaurant Style | Methi Mutter Malai Recipe
Around the weekend, my mind scouts with ideas as I leisurely spend the day in the kitchen. The weekdays often go by unnoticed, dissolved in the hectic day at work followed by the madness of traffic and noise of city life. The usual mundanes of flurry and rush that I needn't talk about. As the weekend transpires, I seek an inspiration to cook that usually comes from the morning trip to the grocery store. I enter the store in enthusiasm, more so from the several moments I spend watching crates of fresh vegetables and fruits being loaded off the trucks and piled into carts to be brought in by the storekeepers. It's a sight I cherish with great delight and an absorbing interest.

Fenugreek and Peas

The grocery shopping this weekend saw me picking bunch of fresh fenugreek greens that gleamed off from the rest of the greens. For a long long time, my mind has been set on making restaurant styled methi mutter malai well in the comforts of my kitchen. Having had this a couple of times at restaurants in the past, and while seeing a lot of bloggers on web-space make this with ease, my heart was sold as I saw them on the grocery counter. May be it was the fresh leaves with tender stalks or the firm sap greenness that called out to me; quite undeterred I had a couple of healthy bunches carrying back home. You bet, I would probably not spare the roots too, given the chance may be!


On another note the start to this weekend went off quite memorable. Late evening on Friday this week, I headed to Aloft to join them in their second MTV Asia Musical awards show where we saw the top five finalists battle out for the winning position. It was a musical night filled with glitzy, glamour, creativity over cocktails and canapes. The bands had it all that brought them up there. Their music, soulful compositions, phenomenal talent with creativity and technical skills - all put together to fill the space with their youthful aura.

So when Saturday came by, my mind was still grooving into the energies of the night before. Saturday, my grocery bag was stocked with all that I needed for a good methi mutter malai. However, I put that aside for the Sunday lunch. Instead, I pulled off the day lazying around and filling myself a light brunch and fruits, skipping dinner. Sunday though, this methi mutter malai and pulao made up for a royal feast.

Methi Mutter Malai

Methi Matar Malai needs no introduction to most. Hailing from the Punjabi North Indian cuisine, this dish can be commonly found in the menu card of most North Indian restaurants. The fresh fenugreek leaves and green peas are simmered in a rich, white and creamy gravy base, it's simplicity and richness that will enamor you in the first place. It's great served as a side dish for roti, parathas, naan or pulaos.

It's not a dish one would recommend for a daily indulgence, yet, it never harms when it promises some health through greens that are packed with nutrition. The dish is fragrant and so mildly spiced that its loved by kids too. What I love is the sheer simplicity of this dish, the mild flavors and richness that this recipe offers, quite replicating the Indian restaurant styled methi mutter malai.

Methi Paratha

Methi Matar Malai | Restaurant Style Methi Mutter Malai


2 cups chopped fenugreek / methi leaves
1 cup fresh / frozen green peas
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh cream
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste

To be fried and ground into a paste

1 onion
1-2 green chillies
1/2" ginger clove
1-2 garlic cloves
2 cloves
Seeds from 3 cardamom pods
2 tbsp cashewnuts


Soak the cashewnuts in warm water for 20 mins. Drain and set aside to be ground along with other ingredients. In a pan / kadai, heat a tablespoon of oil and fry onion, green chilli and ginger till the onions are transparent. Turn off the flame and allow to cool. In a mixie, grind to paste the fried ingredients along with the soaked cashews with little water. Set aside.

In a pan / wok, saute the chopped fenugreek leaves along with half a teaspoon of salt till they wilt and let out the water. This will take about 5-6 minutes. Switch off the flame and allow it to cool to room temperature. Then, squeeze the water out of the leaves to remove the bitterness from them and set the drained leaves aside.

In another pan / kadai, heat a tablespoon of oil. Fry the cumin seeds. As they sizzle in the oil, add cloves and cardamom seeds, Then add the green peas and fry them briefly for couple of mins till the peas are cooked. Next, add the cooked and drained fenugreek leaves with 1/4 cup water. Add the milk and cream. Simmer on low flame for 5-6 minutes. Add the sugar and salt to taste and mix well. Transfer Methi-Matar Malai to serving dish and drizzle little cream on top if desired. Drizzle some fresh cream on top. Garnish with coriander leaves or mint leaves and serve methi matar malai hot with naan, parathas or phulkas.

Methi Mutter Malai with Methi Paratha


- Its not necessary to saute the fenugreek leaves prior to adding this to the recipe. However, fenugreek greens have some bitterness, and if you wish to avoid this coming through, it would be good to saute them first and then use in the recipe. This also helps in retaining the white color in the gravy.

- The water drained from fenugreek leaves is nutritious and hence instead of throwing it away, you may use them to knead dough and make rotis from these. Infact, my photographs will show some of the rotis I made using the water from the boiled greens. They taste quite like normal rotis and the bitterness is barely known.

- I used the small spicy variety of green chilli in this recipe. It provides the desired heat to the dish and does not affect the color of gravy. Alternatively, you may slit the green chilli lengthwise and fry in oil along with cumin and spices.

- On adding milk and cream, do not boil on high flame. Instead keep the flame on low and allow the gravy to simmer. This will avoid splitting.

- Cashews are important here as they not just lend flavor to this recipe, but the volume and richness to this gravy. You may replace cashews for soaked almonds as well.

- You may skip the milk cream and just use unsweetened evaporated milk / milk powder here. Milk powders usually have added sugar, so watch the quantity used and skip sugar. A heaped tablespoonful should do. The recipes with white gravies are usually mildly sweet. This sweet richness comes from the use of milk, cream and sugar. So don't be surprised. The flavor will vary if cream is substituted and the dish will not be as rich as the cream based.

Avocado Brownie

How to make Avocado Brownies | Recipe for Healthy Brownies | No Butter Brownies
My weakness for brownies is not quite known to many. I love this sense of being discreet, like an affair that's so quite sincere. It first began years ago, when I joined the corporate industry to begin my career and I lived by myself for those couple of years. During those days, many weekends were spent hanging out at Corner House ice cream parlors in the heart of South Bangalore. Among the wide variety of ice creams in all permutations and combinations they had on menu or the life sized colorful posters of sugar-cherry topped neat ice cream scoops that adorned their walls, Brownie Fudge Sundaes it mostly was. It won my heart like none other could. I would go there nearly every weekend till I had had enough of it to overcome my cravings. At times I got them packed in disposable containers and took them back home. On most occasions, I would sit by the glass window and let the world pass by unnoticed as I indulged slowly scooping out the layers of nuts, chocolate fudge and vanilla ice cream that sat over the fudge soaked warm brownies. As the cold ice cream melted over the warm brownies and hot chocolate sauce, it created a pool of molten sweet puddle, soaking the brownie in it and making every bite of it gratifying and soothing to the fourth sense. It's what I call chocolate nirvana, bringing joy that makes life worth every bit.

I revive those days, much in reverence of being ignorant about what it meant to count calories or care for the waistline. More so because I cooked and ate mostly at home, so this was a sweet deal I sought comfort in for the week long slog at work and to beat the boredom of cooking and eating at home.

Avocado Brownie Prep

Avocado Brownies

The harsher side is that brownies have never known to be healthy. You and I know that a good brownie needs a great deal of butter, ton of delicious sweet dark chocolate and a couple of eggs in varying degrees, depending upon how fudgy or cake-like you love your brownie to be. In sum, its pretty calorie laden that makes it so sinfully decadent.

It may sound like I am deceiving you a bit here, trying to sell you my brownies by calling them waistline-conscious, healthy and diet-friendly; yet with all the same decadence as what the classic brownies are. Believe me they are incredibly good!

Avocado Brownie Sliced Avocado Brownie

If you have excess avocados lying around like I had in plenty, you've got to make these. Let loose your fears and whip together all good ingredients to make these brownies. What makes them different is that there is absolutely no butter used in them. They are nearly fat free with the avocados lending all buttery sheen and fat. And I promise, you don't entirely taste the avocados, unless you have a strong nose and taste buds that poke through it sensitively.

Although I chose to go with all purpose flour in this recipe, quite so in fear of not turning this into an inedible disastrous recipe, I feel certain that wheat flour or a combination of wheat and all purpose flour should easily substitute with no compromise to taste.

This recipe comes as a blessing for not just being healthy, but they make a great base in recipes that call for chocolate cakes and brownies. I made some brownie ice cream with these and that brushed off some guilt of being calorie conscious. They are great crumbled in trifles too, pairing beautifully in a good amount of fruity elixir. And ofcourse, if you've made these, then do not certainly forget to make some delicious Brownie Fudge Sundaes to share with your friends over a dinner party.

Avocado Brownie

"Healthy" Avocado Brownies

Inspired from here


1/2 cup mashed avocado (about 1 medium avocado)
4 oz chocolate, chopped & melted (I used 1 bar of Hershey's dark chocolate)
3/4 cup organic raw cane sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 tbsp. cacao powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line an 8x8 baking dish (either square or round) with parchment paper. Chop and melt the dark chocolate in a microwave for 30 seconds or on a double boiler till its just melted. In a food processor, whip up all the ingredients except the flour, baking soda and walnuts till they are homogeneous. Sift the flour and baking soda into a food processor bowl and pulse until well combined. The resulting batter will be very thick. Pour this batter into the prepared baking dish and level it with the back of a knife. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out nearly clean. Let it rest in baking dish for 5 minutes and cool further on a cooling rack.

Avocado Brownie Cubed

I often get invites for food reviews, but haven't actively participated in many. In a city that's ruled with heavy traffic and long travel hours, going out for food reviews after a long day at work doesn't thrill me much. But when the team at Sheraton send their invite, I do not think twice. It's a joy being there, each time and every time. As much the long travel stresses me, being at Feast, their signature multi-cuisine restaurant has always been a fantastic experience and eases me out. Their ambiance is warm and inviting, and their staff amicable and friendly as always.

Feast is out to host the much famed Chettinad food festival through this week. If you are from Bangalore, this ubiquitous cuisine needs no introduction to most of you. As often acclaimed to be a spice lover and non-vegetarian's delight, this food festival left me with deep impressions of unique flavors, spices and aromas of this region, demystifying all myths associated with typical South Indian cuisine of rice-rasam or idli-dosa. Quite surprisingly, the spread was elaborate with variety of options for vegetarians like me, which I had quite unexpected, so much that my non-vegetarian counterparts spreed themselves in vegetarian dishes with great delight.

As we sipped the jaggery based orange drink, which tasted quite like a subtle, Westernized version of our Paanaka, Chef Marty and Chef Sabari gave us a round of introduction to the Chettinad cuisine, walking us through their journey in exploring this cuisine by travelling down South to rural villages of Tamil Nadu, visiting homes there to understand the culinary traits of the Chettinad region and tap its roots. What came as an outcome from this food excursion, was a revelation that most homes around this region use minimal spices and oil, yet they rank high on flavor, as opposed to the way Chettinad cuisine is often acclaimed in restaurants. Ofcourse, it doesn't come as a surprise that this cuisine has always known to be high on heat, owing to the liberal use of peppers and chillies, that's traditional to their cooking.

The menu at Feast was quite expansive, ranging from live cooking stations for idiyappams, appams and paniyarams to starters with likes of mushroom pepper fry, a vegetarian twin of pepper chicken and banana blossom vadai, both of which were peppery and delectable. An island counter that hosted a spread of malagapudis and a variety of chutneys and pickles did leave our taste buds watering. It's hard to scoop out each of it and give a try, yet harder to resist. Nevertheless, we did give a try. While I do not have a big appetite for sundals, their baby corn sundal salad was quite a modish twist to the traditional version.

Conforming to traditional home styled way of cooking with spices used in moderation, Feast excels in bringing the best of this cuisine in terms of flavors, style, aromas and variety. Much of Chettinad menu sounds like a tongue twister to me, but that did not deter me from trying Mor Kuzhambu, Kathirikai Sadham, Kaikari Biriyani, Kathirikai Kuzhambu, Beetroot Kola Urundai and many others that I could barely pronounce, each of which were high on taste and flavor. The Beetroot Kola Urundai was rich and stood out from the rest, nearly resembling in flavor to the North Indian Kofta curry. The Pachadis served alongside the course acted like coolants and helped soothe the spice in the curries.

By the time we were done with the main course, we had stuffed ourselves to the brim, barely being able to move after such heavy indulgence. Yet, I always make some room for desserts. I forced myself to taste all of the four desserts on menu. Of all, Elaneer Payasam was fresh and subtle with hint of sweetness from tender coconut, while Asoka Halwa, that seemed quite close to the North Indian Moong Dal Halwa wins hands down! It was rich, full-bodied and flavorsome till the last bite. Had I not stuffed myself so full, I was sure to take couple of more helpings of this.

If you love hot, spicy food and swear by love for fiery taste buds, then you just have the right cuisine for you. Visit Sheraton and be a part of the grandeur of Chettinad. Indulge in the aromas and variety of spices that invite a mouthwatering prospect for every foodie!

August 25 - September 6 between 11:00am to 11:00pm

Feast, Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway,
Dr. Rajkumar Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka
Ph. No.: 08042521000 / +91-9880699111

Poha Chiwda

How to make Poha Chiwda | Avalakki Chiwda | Namkeen | Indian Snacks
With a vacation gone by, now that I am back in India, kind of jostled into a routine, placed our daughter in school and have resumed work full time, you would probably expect this to be sort of a travelogue post walking you though dozens of photographs from places far known and unknown, painting a picturesque comprehension for each. Let me put all guesses to rest. I may have been back here, but my mind is still in the roving. It wanders back and forth to the good time we spent with D. I would love to do a short walk through of the places we visited, which was in plenty. We spent good moments doing things together in threesome, but I feel simply unwilling to dig into those photographs and bring those moments into words here. Some things are best left that way. Imprinted in memories. When mere words cannot do justice.

Poha Chiwda

So as it goes, this is no travelogue kind-a post, but a recipe for an Indian savory snack I made in huge batches during our time in the US. We savored it by bowls on several evenings sitting by the wooden porch that overlooked the thick woods in our backyard. The moments slipped away without notice as we sipped into hot chocolate and tea, scooping spoonfuls of chivda into our palms, slowly savoring its crunch, while we tended to the young tomato plants that bloomed tender yellow buds in our garden.

On weekdays when D was away at work, the chivda became my sole savior as I flipped through light reads under the wraps of summer and streaks of golden sunlight. As the afternoons tranced into early evenings, there were days when our little girl kept herself busy dressing up her dolls, setting up the table and putting up a pretend birthday party for them. I would briefly give her company in the initial part of the play, pretending to be her helper, then, slowly whisk away to make time for myself, to play with real pots and pans in my kitchen that belonged to me.

Then, there were other days when she would get busy soaking up her fingers and clothes in spectrum of colors as Elsa and Sofia got painted in colorful attire in a way only she would fantasize. Their frills and veils were painted in reds, greens, blues, browns and whatnot, smudged in uneven tones and stressed outside the lines meant to define these beautiful damsels. That's the time I borrowed for myself in the kitchen, to dish out some delectable savory snacks that made us through those evenings till we waited for D to return from work.

Poha Chiwda

This Poha Chivda may remind you of your childhood spent visiting your relatives or friends, or of festivals like Diwali and Navrathri, when aunts brought in bowls of savory snacks served along with piping hot tea. Poha Chivda was and probably is still a common tea time savory dish in many Indian homes, served mid-noon along with tea or coffee, often store-bought and rampantly available in transparent polythene packets in every bakery and grocery store possible. Almost every house probably has had some version of it. At home, we call them all just 'chivda', which simply means an assortment of fried and seasoned ingredients usually with a base of flattened rice or cornflakes. Chivdas come in varieties, but there is no hard and fast rule on how you wish to make and what you wish to season them with. The store-bought ones are usually heavily seasoned and spicy, but I like to break rules and keep it simple, light and flavorsome.

My version here is quick with minimal ingredients. Its quite common to use fried cashews, raisins and sesame seeds for a more assorted rich taste. It takes about 15-20 minutes to put all of this together from start to finish. You could use fried whole red chillies instead of red chilli powder to reduce heat further. If you wish to try a low fat version and bake the poha, let me know how it works for you. For once, when I tried a baking attempt at this, it failed miserably. Try this and let me know how you like it.

Poha Chiwda

Poha Chivda | Namkeen Chivda | Avalakki Chiwda | Seasoned Flattened Rice


3 cups poha / flattened rice (use thick variety)
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup roasted gram bengal dal / channa dal / huri kadale
2 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp. oil for tempering
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp. sugar or as required
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying


Heat enough oil for deep frying in a wide mouth pan or kadai or wok. Using a wide mouth strainer or a slotted spoon, deep fry the poha in hot oil. Do this in batches so that you fry them evenly till they swell up and become crisp. Remove and drain over a plate lined with kitchen paper. Fry all of the poha and set aside. Into the same oil, fry the roasted bengal gram dal till its golden brown. Remove and drain again on a kitchen paper. Next, fry the peanuts in this oil till reddish brown in color and drain on a kitchen paper. Fry the curry leaves till they crisp up. Drain and set aside.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a separate pan. Fry mustard seeds till they pop. Add the red chili powder and mix in all the fried ingredients. Sprinkle sugar and salt to taste. Roast this for 2-3 minutes on a low flame to ensure all the spice, salt and sugar is well combined into the poha mixture. Adjust the spice according to your taste by adding more red chili powder if required.

Allow the chivda mixture cool completely. You can store this in an air-tight container at room temperature for couple of weeks.

Poha Chiwda

Oakleaf Greens Salad

How to make Oakleaf Lettuce with Strawberry Balsamic Salad Dressing
“Dusk is just an illusion because the sun is either above the horizon or below it. And that means that day and night are linked in a way that few things are. There cannot be one without the other yet they cannot exist at the same time. How would it feel I remember wondering to be always together yet far apart?” ― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

Nearly a week ago we drove 100 miles away from home and made our way mid-morning through the sultry heat and thick NYC traffic. We reached airport just in time, trying to save every bit of it for the last minute togetherness. We hugged D for one last time, in much of an emotional goodbye this time over the last year. Our little girl is now big enough to understand what separation in true sense means and what it is like being away from her dad for couple of several months, much of which she hadn't known all this while.

We left our soul back at home that served us for these 3 worthy months of time off and family time with D. Filled with beautiful memories of home and travel, spurred with endearing moments of togetherness, we left for our home back in India with a heavy heart. Across we flew passing by oceans, green pastures of Europe, desserts of Middle East, traversing continents and surging ahead of the horizon, witnessing the dawn and dusk twice in 24 hours. As much my eyes were filled with marvel at the world below, my mind was filled with anxiety of the long parting we have far borne as a family for so long. All of this comes with some hope that we will soon be together for good. A hope that is positive and stronger than any other besiege.

Oakleaf Greens with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

We are living through jet lag and zonal differences at the moment. It may take a while, though not too long as we set back into a wonted rhythm. As the sun shines high up in D's land and brings glory of summer and sunshine, so comes this recipe from me to you for greens that were not so familiar to me, atleast not until D introduced me to a land where salad greens make a prominent presence on their aisle in almost every supermarket. I had little known Oakleaf greens, till D randomly picked a pack of salad greens on our regular grocery shopping one day and I instantly fell in love with them there on. They are wonderfully tasty and versatile with cheese and salad dressing of your choice, if paired. The Strawberry Balsamic Dressing gives a kick of tang against the sweet fruity jam, spiced up with liberal doses of fresh cracked pepper. I suggest you taste the sauce for yourself and adjust the ratio of sweet and tang to your liking. It flaunts well dribbled on crisp lettuce leaves, (either Oakleaf or Romaine would do) and saltiness from fresh feta, adorned with some berries and walnuts. Additionally, I love to serve this salad with cheese sandwiched artisan bread; which obviously does not make it gluten-free, if you abide by it. Choice is really yours.

Oakleaf Lettuce with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing


5 cups Oakleaf Lettuce, red and green
2 tablespoons Feta cheese
2 tablespoons mix of berries like Cranberries and Goji berries
8-20 Walnuts

For the Strawberry Balsamic Salad Dressing

1 tablespoon strawberry jam, preferable homemade or low sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste


Heat the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat and simmer till the vinegar reduces to half and becomes thick. Turn off the heat and whisk in the strawberry jam and the extra-virgin olive oil. Season it liberally with salt and pepper.

Place the Oakleaf greens along with mix of berries and walnuts in a wide salad bowl. Drizzle the salad dressing and toss it well to coat evenly in dressing. Serve.

Oakleaf Greens Salad-1


How to make Peach Puff Pastry Tart | Easy Peach Puff Pastry Tart Recipe
July has been a wonderful month bringing bounty produce and tons of inspiration to my kitchen. Its a month when all things living bud and bloom to glory. Foliage brim to lush greenness, healthy and flourishing. Weeds crawl themselves on to every inch of wilderness. Flowers burst into frenetic bloom. Markets bustle with vegetable produce in vividness and abundance. Fruits and berries make their way into our lives beyond what we could ask for. There's burst of color and splash of summer everywhere. July pampers you. It makes you feel luxuriant.

Summers here have been all high and at times 94 deg F (34 deg C) feels like 105 F (40 deg C). Yet, I am so much a tropical girl that I make best friends with summer and its givings. There is no moment left to slip away in rambling about heat. Instead we go farm-foraging for fruits with bags and baskets. At nearly the end of berry season, peaches and melons are here to replace them on stands.


In less than a week, the daughter and I are heading back home, to India. Over two weeks ago, our little girl stopped her school here to resume the one she goes back home. She gets a small break before she gets back to track on another routine in India. As we've just begun bag packing, I shudder to think how quickly these three months have flown by, insanely quick, like a flash of lightening. While I'm thankfully lucky to be on a break from work and make a trip here the second time, it feels so unreal that its time to leave D's nest and fly back to another nest far away in another continent. Again, we leave in hopes and prayers for sooner family union.

These three months of vacation time have been wonderful. We witnessed the onset of spring and the way they silently slipped into summers, bringing with them the best of everything we love - the sunshine, the beaches, the road trips, the camping, the late evening partying, the farm foraging, berry picking, the evening walks at parks, the book hunting at the library, the lazying by the porch, the summer cooking, and lots more we did together. Instead of rumbling how much we will miss D and the moments we spent here with him, I leave you with this simple peach puff pastry tart that speaks bounty of summer - golden summery ochre with velvety skin and a delicate sweet aroma. Its so easy that you would be ashamed as put them together and shove them to the oven. Ofcourse that doesn't account for making puff pasty at home. But if you have them handy, you get away with assembling this in under 10 mins and another 20 min to bake, which is the oven's job!


Simple Peach Puff Pastry Tart


1 sheet homemade / frozen puff pastry
2 medium peaches
1 tbsp. of brown sugar (adjust according to the sweetness of your peaches)
2-3 tbsp. milk, to brush
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Few pecans and mini chocolate chips to scatter


Preheat the oven to 420 degrees F. Carefully roll / cut the puff pastry into strip of 4" x 8" inch. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit. Slice peaches carefully into 1/4 inch. Arrange the peaches on the puff pastry overlapping each other. Sprinkle the peaches with brown sugar, pecans and mini chocolate chips. Brush the edges of the puff pastry with milk (alternative to egg) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are a deep golden brown. Serve warm, preferably with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.



How to make 'No Churn' Vanilla Bean Raspberry Ripple Ice cream
At this very moment, our home is raining stone fruits and berries. Cherries precisely. Followed by peaches. Early last week when we went berry picking to a local farm, I went totally ravenous just at the sight of beautiful sapphires and rubies dangling off the bushes and trees. We went picking as many fruits as we could, quite greedily, like there would be no another day for them; from tree to tree, bushes to bushes, buckets after buckets till the scorching summer heat tired us out. With trunk full of cherries and peaches, came along blueberries and raspberries too.

I love how much my fridge is brimming with these fruits in every corner of the space it can accommodate. Every morning, before I reach out to the can of milk to make tea for my family, my hands are drawn to these fruits quite instinctively. Usually a long gaze and in reverence, I pop in a couple of them to start the day with. Some are then packed off into snack boxes for my husband for his mid day snacking. Our mid-mornings and afternoons are usually spent either snacking on them or pitting them to be frozen for a good part of the year when all these little gems will be gone. I wonder if I would let them stay there for so long.

Quite often when I am at farmer's market to pick up fruits, my head bubbles up several ideas of turning them into more delicious treats. My shopping cart is always loaded with more than what we need. Rationally greedy at the fear of season's fag end. But more often I find myself being reluctant to rive and macerate them into any other form. We are a family who adores fruits. Fruit, in its true form.

Vanilla_Bean_Ice_cream Raspberry_swirl

When we came home with pints of ripe raspberries hand picked from the farm last week, I made this easy Warm Spiced Raspberry Jam leaving out the Strawberries. They went into almost everything - our bread, the daughter's milk, drizzled on yogurt, including accompanying as sides for parathas. I saved a few raspberries for this rippled ice cream that had been playing up on my mind for long. A rippled ice cream, where the layers of contrasting colors and flavors, each complementing other beautifully, create beautiful swirls when scooped to serve. And what can be better than having luscious baby pink ripples between speckled vanilla bean deliciousness.

This ice cream is very simple, quick and easy to put together as it does not require any ice cream maker. Two basic ingredients, heavy cream and condensed milk go into making the base for this ice cream. It takes less than 10 mins from counter to freezer and you have one of the most easiest, creamy and delicious ice cream ever.


'No Churn' Raspberry Ripple Ice cream (Vanilla Bean Ice cream with Raspberry Swirl) - Without Ice Cream Maker


For the Vanilla Bean Ice cream:

400 ml heavy cream, cold
200 grams condensed milk, preferably cold
1 tbsp. good vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 tbsp. vanilla essence

For the Raspberry Ripple:

1/2 pint Raspberries
2 tbsp. caster sugar

Place the raspberries along with sugar in a blender and blend them to fine puree. Pass this through a sieve to separate seeds. Cook this puree on medium heat for 10 mins or until slightly thickened. You don't need the consistency of a jam, however too thin puree may affect the texture of the ice cream.

To prepare the vanilla bean ice cream, whip the heavy cream till it holds soft peaks. Then add the condensed milk, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds from a pod of vanilla. Continue to whip until the mixture is smooth and fluffy and holds soft peaks. Transfer 1/3 of the ice cream mixture to a loaf tin or your ice cream container of your choice. Drizzle 1/3 of the raspberry syrup on top. Repeat another two times so you have three layers of each. Using a fork, gently swirl the ice cream mixture to create a rippled look. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and allow the ice cream to set in the freezer for at least 4-6 hours.