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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cucumber Raita


3 cups of plain yogurt
1 small (9”) English cucumber
1 teaspoon of salt
½ Jalapeno pepper chopped
1 tablespoon of Cilantro chopped
2 teaspoons of Roasted cumin seeds (crushed)
¾ teaspoon of crushed mustard seeds (optional)
¼ - ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon of black pepper coarsely ground
¼ teaspoon of paprika
¼ teaspoon of black salt (optional)


*Grate the cucumber.
*Add 1 teaspoon of salt to it and let it sit for 5-10 min.
*Squeeze all the water out of cucumber.
*Add it to yogurt with cilantro and chopped Jalapeno.
*Add all dry spices in to yogurt except mustard seeds.
*Mix well, then add the mustard seeds
*Taste it and if need more salt you can add it to your taste.
*Garnish with Cilantro
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Monday, August 30, 2010


Falafel is very popular in the Middle East as a fast food. As a main dish, it is served as a sandwich, stuffed in pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and Tahini.
Traditional Falafel balls are made out of Chickpeas, sesame seeds and blend of spices. I find them very dry, and they soak lot of oil when you fry them, so I have modified this recipe using Indian pulses and beans mixed with the falafel mix which is made of chickpeas flour.


• ½ cup Falafel mix (available in Mediterranean or Indian Stores) .
• 1 cup Moong dal (available in Indian stores)
• ½ cup dry black eye peas
• ½ cup dry split peas green or yellow
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 spring onions chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
• ½ cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
• ¼ cup parsley, chopped (optional)
• 2 green chilies chopped
• 1 inch piece of ginger minced
• 1 teaspoon coriander powder
• 2 teaspoon cumin powder
• 1 tbl spoon of sesame seeds
• 2 tablespoons flour (can be regular flour or chickpeas flour)
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• Salt
• Pepper
• Oil for frying

For sandwich: you will need Pita bread, Tahini, chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, and hot sauce (all of these ingredient to desired quantity)


•Place Moong dal, black eyed peas and split peas in a bowl, covering with cold water. Allow to soak overnight.
•Discard all the water from all beans and grind them in a food processor to consistency of a thick paste.
•Add falafel mix, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper and all the spice to it.
•Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a ping pong ball. Slightly flatten.
•Fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (5-7 minutes).
•You may bake these too if counting calories. (Baking instructions: you may need to add more flour to the paste for thicker consistency and preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Then Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Place the patties in the skillet; cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer patties to preheated oven and bake until heated through, about 10 minutes.

Serving Suggestions:

•These patties can be served as an appetizer with hummus and Tahini.
•Can be served in a sandwich: stuff pita bread with Falafel, lettuce, tomatoes, Tahini, and hot sauce.
•As an alternative, Falafel can be served as platter on bed of lettuce topped with tomatoes, onion, Tahini and hot sauce with pita bread on the side.

Recipe for Tahini

Tahini sauce is made from “Tahini” - a sesame seed paste available in Middle Eastern Stores.


• 1 cup Tahini (available in Mediterranean stores) (you can make it at home by roasting sesame seeds in oven at 325 F for 15 minutes, stirring regularly to toast evenly. Once cool, blend them in commercial power blender with olive oil to paste form, but much easier to buy from store)

• ½ cup Hummus
• ½ cup Sour cream or plain yogurt
• 5-6 gloves garlic, crushed
• 1 teaspoon Cilantro, finely chopped (optional)
• ½ -1 Jalapeno pepper (if want spicy can put more)
• 2 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• ½ cup Lime juice


In a food processor combine all ingredients together except olive oil and make a thin paste.

Remove from food processor and add olive oil.

Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Recipe Modified by Surekha from original Falafel/Tahini recipes from friends and family.
Photos by Surekha.
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Green Hot Chili Pickle (Hari Mirch ka Aachar)

Thanks to our neighbors who let us plant few chili pepper plants in their vegetable garden, and before I knew it my husband brought these huge quantities of peppers that I did not know what to do with. I remember I used to make this pickle long time ago, but forgot all the ingredients, so I called my mom this morning and asked her for the recipe for this finger licking pickle that she taught me how to make. Bless her heart she remembered all the ingredients with exact quantity by heart and recited over the phone. She specifically told me not to forget to put the mango powder and that if you don't get mango powder in US, you can use tamarind paste instead. Thankfully, I did have mango powder and all the ingredients in my pantry except onion seeds which I did not use. I just made this pickle this afternoon and luckily it was very sunny day, so I could put it out to soak some sun too. This is how it turned out.


2 pounds green chilies.
6 table spoon mango powder
4 table spoon coriander powder
2 table spoon of cumin powder
1 table spoon asafetida powder
1 table spoon onion seeds (optional)
2 table spoon of paprika
1-2 table spoon of cayenne pepper powder (optional)
6 table spoon salt
2 table spoon Turmeric powder
6 table spoon coarsely ground fennel seeds.
6 table spoon coarsely ground mustard seeds
16 fluid ounces of vegetable oil (1/2 quart) (I prefer mustard oil, but you may use canola, corn, sunflower or any vegetable oil) (I used Canola oil this time)


* Wash the peppers and allow to dry completely on a towel, or on a sunny surface. They should be completely free of water, before you make the pickle for this to last long.
* Once dry cut slit in each pepper length wise, leaving the stem intact. (You must wear gloves to do this).
* Mix all the spices together and fill each chili pepper with spice mixture.
* Heat oil on the stove.
* Pour hot oil over the stuff chili peppers. (be careful)
* Toss the stuff chili peppers so they are evenly soaked with oil.
* Put the pickle in wide container; leave this open in the sun every day for few days. (5-7 day), toss them every day before and after putting them in sun, so they are evenly soaked with oil. You may cover them in the night, but be sure to wipe the moisture from the lid from condensation. Once again if there is any moisture in the pickle it will spoil soon.
* Once the peppers reach desired softness, you can fill them in a jar with airtight cover and refrigerate.

Recipe source: My dearest Mom Mrs. Kasturben.
Photo by Surekha.
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Friday, August 27, 2010

Stuffed Baby Eggplants without onions


8 baby eggplant white or purple
3 table spoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon Mango powder
2 teaspoon Cumin powder
1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Garam masala
2 teaspoon Sambar powder (optional)
¾ cup chick peas flour(besan)
3 table spoon oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp asafoetida
1.5 cup of water
¼ cup coriander/Cilantro chopped for garnish


Wash baby eggplants & slit them in the center as in a cross-section but do not cut them in halves

Fry eggplants in 1 table spoon oil in a shallow pan until they soften a little bit & keep them aside.

On low to medium heat roast chick peas flour for 3 min in a frying pan, constantly stirring so does not get burnt then add the powder spices except Asafoetida, turn the heat off.

Stuff the eggplants with this powdered mix. Keep aside.

In a deep pan, heat remaining oil, add cumin seed mustard seeds, add asafoetida when the seed crackle.

Immediately add the stuffed eggplants. Add the leftover powder spice mix, mix, Add 1.5 cup of water.

Transfer them in microwave safe dish.

Cook them in microwave covered for 10 min, turning them over in its spice mix after 5 min)

Garnish with cilantro.

Serve Hot.

Recipe by my mom.
Photo by Surekha.

Tips: Mango powder can be substituted with Lime juice.
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Home made Black Bean Salsa


* 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 11-15 oz can of corn kernels – frozen, canned or fresh cooked (may grill the corn on the cob and take the kernel off of corn to use it in this recipe)
* 1/2 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
* 1/2 medium green pepper, chopped
* 1/2 yellow or orange pepper chopped
* 1 medium red onion, chopped
* 1/2 yellow or vidalia sweet onion chopped
* 2 ripe tomatoes finely diced
* 1 cup crushed tomatoes from can (sometimes I use any left over tomato salsa from fridge if I don't have crushed tomatoes in my pantry)
* 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
* 4 green onions, chopped
* 2 fresh jalapeno peppers chopped or minced, if don't have fresh you may use pickled
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tbsp lime juice
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 tsp taco seasoning
* 1 tsp ground black pepper (coarse restaurant style)
* 2 tsp Roasted cumin powder (roast the cumin seeds on griddle on med heat until dark brown, when cool, make powder in coffee grinder)
* 1 tsp cayenne pepper
* 1 tsp paprika
* 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
* 1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

1. In a mixing bowl, toss together all the ingredients.
2. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes
3. Can be refrigerated before serving.
4. Yields about 6 cups.
Tip: ingredient quantity and seasoning can be adjusted according to your taste, desired heat, likes and dislikes.

Photo by MllePeterson
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Golden Potatoes (Potato Sookhi Sabji)

Back home, when I used to come home from school/college, my mom used to have this sabji and hot off the stove chapaties ready for me...with plain yogurt, dal, pickle and rice....thinking about that meal.. still makes my mouth water...yummmmmmm.


4 medium sized potatoes boiled, peeled and cut in to small cubes
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp on black mustard seeds
1 pod of dry red pepper (optional)
1/8 tsp Asafoetida
3 spring onions finely chopped
1 small piece of ginger finely chopped or grated(optional)
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1 Jalapeno pepper chopped
1 tomato chopped
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper powder
1 tsp mango powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
Juice from 1 small lime

Chopped Coriander leaves for garnish


Heat oil in a sauce pan
Add cumin seeds and mustard seeds once oil is heated well
When these seeds crackle add asafoetida
Add pod of dry red pepper
Add onions and saute for 1-2 min
Add the garlic, ginger saute for another 1 min
Add chopped tomatoes and pepper mix well
Add all the powders and mix well
Add salt mix well
Add the boiled potatoes and saute
Add lime juice and mix well

Garnish with cilantro.

Recipe and Photo by Surekha.
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Walnut Delight (Walnut Burfi)


2 cups of Walnuts
1 can of evaporated milk (14 oza)
1 cup of sugar
1 can of condensed milk
1 stick of butter
Crushed cardamoms and chopped pistachio for garnish.


* Grind walnuts in food processor to coarse powder form.

* Add evaporated milk to it.

* Cook in Microwave for 10 min.

* Add sugar and condensed milk to it.

* Cook additional 20 min in microwave stirring in between.

* Add butter and spread it on 9 x 13 pan.

* Press cut in to square or shape with desired cookie cutter shapes.

* Sprinkle with cardamom and pistachio for garnish.

Recipe source: my friend Neeru.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Homemade Plain Yogurt

Yogurt......yummm..... my favorite food of all...plain yogurt and rice was the first solid food that my father introduced to me, well okay...second solid food besides Parle Glucose biscuits :)

Till this day yogurt and rice are my soul food. I consume yogurt in large quantity as you can tell by this picture. I eat plain yogurt, I use yogurt in my cooking and I make yogurt at home.. very often my American friends are amazed..that how can you make yogurt without yogurt maker. So here it is, this is how my mom used to make in India and this is how I and lot of my Indian friends make it here in US.

You will need milk (can be skim, 1%, 2% or whole) (here I used 2%)
You will need 2 table spoon of plain yogurt as starter (you can buy a small 8 oz container of either Dannon plain yogurt or even better Greek yogurt)

Pour milk (here I used 1/2 a gallon) in a Pyrex bowl and heat it in the microwave at high power for 20-25 min till it boils. Of course we did not have microwave in India when I was growing up, so my mum used to boil it on the stove and she had to constantly watch over it. The advantage of heating it in Microwave is that it will not boil over and it will not stick to the bottom either.

When you see it boiling, turn the microwave off and carefully take it out of oven.

Now cool it at room temp for good 30 - 45 min till you can dip your finger in it and hold it in there for 10 sec without getting burned (in other words it should be luke warm, not cold and not too hot)

Now you can add culture or starter yogurt to it and churn it with hand churner or mixture so it is evenly mixed with milk.

You can either set the yogurt in one large container like I did, of you can put it in small containers for individual servings. (they just take too much room in my fridge so I make it in large bowl)

Place the container/containers covered in a warm place. I usually put it the kitchen cabinet under the counter, but if you have pilot light oven, you can put it there. Some people preheat the oven at 200 and then turn the oven off and put the yogurt it the oven.

Set the timer for 4 hours. If the milk temp is right and the culture is good the yogurt should set in 4 hours. You can check it my tapping the container, if it is not set, you can leave it in the warm place for 30-45 min. Don't let it set for too long, as it will turn sour and watery.

Once set, move the container to fridge and leave it in there for until ready to use. It will stay good in the fridge for 8-10 days, just remember to put it back in the fridge, if you leave it out too long it will turn sour and watery.

I like home made yogurt because it is not jelly like the one you get in the stores and it is not sweet either.

You can mix desired fruits to it to make a healthy snack and or use it in the cooking, or use it to make delicious side dishes like Raita or drinks like smoothies or Lassi, or you can tie it in the cheese cloth to make your own sour cream. Enjoy :)

Recipe source: My Dearest Mom Mrs. Kasturben
Photograph by Surekha.
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Homemade Masala (spice mix) for Punjabi Chhole (Chickpeas)

4 tables spoon cumin seeds
4 tables spoon of coriander seeds
4 table spoon of Black cumin seeds
6 red chilies pods
4 table spoon of Mango powder
2 teaspoon black pepper corn
2 teas spoon kosher salt
1 tbsp. black salt
6 black cardamom
2 tea spoon cardamom seeds
2 tea spoon carom seeds
2 teaspoon pomegranate seeds
16 cloves
6 cinnamon thin 1" sticks
3 table spoon dry mint leaves (Kasoori Methi)
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon mace
5 bay leaves
½ teaspoon asafetida
1 teaspoon Fennel seed

Roast all the ingredients in a shallow pan on low-medium heat. (Except all the powder forms) Grind them to powder in a coffee grinder. Mix all other powder and fill in a bottle. This is ready to be used whenever you make Punjabi Chhole. Recipe to follow.

Source of recipe: My dearest Mom Mrs. Kasturben.
Photo by Surekha.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Edamame Pods snack/appetizer


Two 14 oz pack of frozen Edamame pods
2 teaspoon of salt
1 tbl spoon on olive oil
2 tbl spoon of Cumin powder
1 teaspoon of Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of black salt (optional)
Fresh juice on one lime


* Empty pods in a baking dish
* Sprinkle some water and 1 teaspoon of salt on the pods
* Cover with plastic wrap and microwave them for 8-10 min mixing them occasionally
* Take them out of microwave and add olive oil and rest of the salt and spices.
* Squeeze lime juice over them and mix well.
* They are ready to be served.
* Yield ~16-20 servings

Tip: You can peel the pods beforehand take the seeds out and use the same recipe for shelled Edemame, however it is fun to eat the seeds out of pod.
If using Edamame pods, use your teeth to squeeze the beans out of the pod. Soybean pods are pulled along teeth and beans are removed for eating. Discard soybean pods.

Photograph by Surekha.
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Baked Mexican Sant fe Hot Dip


2 medium chopped tomatoes
2 medium Onion chopped
1 bunch green onions chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 yellow pepper chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 orange pepper chopped
One bunch cilantro chopped
4 cloves garlic chopped
2 fresh Jalapenos chopped
¼ cup Jalapeno peppers (pickled) chopped)
One 8 oz bottle of any chunky medium or mild salsa
One 8 oz bottle of Ortega taco sauce mild
one can of corn kernel drained
One 8 oz package of Monterrey Jack cheese shredded
2 cups of Cheddar cheese shredded
One extra tomato, 1/2 cup of cilantro and couple of green onions all chopped and mixed with juice from one fresh lime and pinch of salt for garnishing.


* Preheat oven at 350F
* Mix half of each cheese with rest of the ingredients and sprinkle rest of the cheese on top.
* Bake at 350 F, covered with foil, for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, until bubbly and just starting to brown.
* Remove from oven.
* In a small bowl, combine the tomato, green onion, cilantro, salt and lime juice. Pile the tomato mixture in the center and serve with chips.

Photograph by Surekha
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Moist Banana Bread


¾ cup butter or oil
2 ¾ cups flour
½ cup buttermilk or sour cream (optional)
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 table spoon lemon juice
1½ cup mashed ripe banana (3 medium)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla (for variation can use amaretto if you like that flavor and if using almonds for nuts, personally I don't care for amaretto)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
¾ tsp salt
1 cup of chopped nuts (almonds or walnuts or pecans, can try pistachio for variation and color)
1 cup of chocolate chips (you can use white chocolate chip if desired)

* Preheat the oven at 325 F
* Cream together the butter/oil and sugar.
* Blend in bananas, lemon juice, eggs and vanilla.
* Sift together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and baking powder.
* Add to banana mixture and buttermilk (or sour cream).
* Mix thoroughly after each addition.
* Fold in nuts or chocolate chips morsels
* Pour batter into greased and floured 9” x 3” loaf pan
* Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 and 15 min hour or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
* This recipe makes 2 small loaves.

Recipe modified by Surekha from a recipe from Strongsville HS Marching Band 2002 recipe book and recipes from friends and family.

Photograph by Surekha
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Peppers and Mushroom and Paneer Sabji


2-3 tablespoon of oil
2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 onions
4 cloves of garlic
1” of ginger
Pinch of asafoetida
3-4 big cardamoms
2 bay leaves
1 pod of red chili dried
4 table spoon of coriander powder
2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of mango powder
1 teaspoon of garam masala
2 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 teaspoon of turmeric

1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 pack of (8 oz) sliced mushrooms
1 pack of (8 oz) Paneer** cut in to 1" cubes
1 teaspoon of sugar
Salt to taste
1 cup of crushed tomatoes from can
¼ cup of heavy whipping cream


• Chop onions, ginger and garlic cloves in food processor to finely chopped pieces (almost a paste)
• Heat oil in a sauce pan
• Add cumin seeds when they crackle, add asafoetida followed by cardamom, chili pod and bay leaves.
• Add onion, ginger and garlic paste to this.
• Sauté these ingredients on medium heat until golden brown
• Add peppers, mushroom and cook for 3-5 min, stirring occasionally
• Add sugar to this and then add all the dry spices and salt, cook for additional 3-5 min.
• Add Paneer and gently toss/mix the ingredients
• Add crushed tomatoes and 1 cup of water cook for 3-5 min
• Add whipping cream mix well cook for 2 more min and serve warm with Pita bread/Roti/Naan/Flat bread or over rice.

** Paneer: Paneer (Hindi: पनीर panīr, from Persian پنير panir) is a fresh cheese common in South Asian cuisine. It is of Indian origin. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice or other food acid.

Unlike most cheeses in the world, the making of paneer does not involve rennet as the coagulation agent, thus making it completely lacto-vegetarian and providing a source of protein for vegetarian Hindus.

To prepare paneer at home, food acid (usually lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid or yogurt) is added to hot milk to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are drained in muslin or cheesecloth and the excess water is pressed out. The resulting paneer is dipped in chilled water for 2–3 hours to give it a good texture and appearance.

From this point, the preparation of paneer diverges based on its use and regional variation.

In most cuisines, the curds are wrapped in cloth and placed under a heavy weight, such as a stone slab, for 2–3 hours, and then cut into cubes for use in curries. Pressing for a shorter time (approximately 20 minutes), results in a softer, fluffier cheese which is used in sweet dishes like Rasgulla/Rasmalai etc.

Photograph by Surekha
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Tamarind Sauce/Chutney (Imli ki Chutney)

This sweet and sour sauce is used to spruce up almost all the Indian snacks and chaat. You may adjust the amount of tamarind and jaggery/sugar to desired sweetness and tartness/tanginess.

1/2 cup seedless Tamarind or tamarind paste (available at local Indian grocers)
1 cup pitted Dates
1/4 cup of Jaggery **
1 cup of water to soak above
1/4 cup of Brown sugar
1/2 cup of Apple butter (optional, I use it if I am short or void of dates in my pantry)
1/2 cup water to dilute the paste
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tbsl spoon oil
3-4 whole cloves
1-2 bay leaves
Pinch of asfoetida (optional)
Kosher Salt to taste
Black salt ½ teaspoon (optional)


• Soak tamarind, dates and jaggery in water for about 2-3 hours. (if want to make it in hurry can microwave it to soften it)
• Blend into a smooth paste, add brown sugar, apple butter, water (to desired consistency), both salts and cumin powder.

If you want smooth texture following steps can be omitted, but I like to make it this way to add more flavor and longevity.

• Heat oil in a sauce pan, add Cumin seed, when they crackle add cloves, asfoetida, bay leaves and crushed red pepper immediately followed by the paste.
• Simmer at medium to slow heat for 5 min.
• Cool and serve with desired snacks

This can be stored refrigerated for up to a month and deep frozen for more than 6 months.

**Jagggery (also transliterated as jaggeree and called "GUD" in Hindi and Sanskrit) is a traditional unrefined non-centrifugal sugar consumed in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. ] It is a concentrated product of cane juice without separation of the molasses and crystals, and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in color. It contains up to 50% sucrose, up to 20% invert sugars, moisture content of up to 20%.

Health benefit of Jaggery: Jaggery is considered by some to be a particularly wholesome sugar, retaining more mineral salts than refined sugar. Moreover, the process does not involve chemical agents. Indian Ayurvedic medicine considers jaggery to be beneficial in treating throat and lung infections; Some found that in rats jaggery can prevent lung damage from particulate matter such as coal and silica dust.

Gandhi felt that jaggery was healthier than refined sugar, as it was not introduced into the blood as rapidly. As such, he used it in his own personal diet and recommended it for use in his invented goat-milk diet (and all other diets and eating styles).
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Monday, August 16, 2010

Golden Cauliflower

Golden Cauliflower

This was and still is my all time favorite vegetable. This is my mom’s recipe, I love to eat this with chapatti and plain yogurt and also with rice and plain yogurt….Thanks mom:)

1 whole cauliflower, cut into tiny florets
3 tbl spoon of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
2 red chilies dried
1/8 teaspoon of asfoetida
3 tomatoes chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 Jalapeno pepper chopped
One Bunch of spring onions chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
3 table spoon coriander powder
1 table spoon cumin powder
2 table spoon amchoor
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Garam masala
½ cup tomato paste or crushed tomatoes from can
½ cup chopped cilantro

* In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons each of vegetable oil,
* When heated add cumin seeds, mustard seeds.
* When they crackle, add dried red chilies and asafetida, immediately followed by cauliflower and all the chopped vegetables stirring occasionally.
* Add salt and all the spices over cauliflower.
* Toss to coat and to 'burn' spices a little.
* Add tomato paste or crushed tomatoes. Stir well and simmer 10 - 15 minutes.
* Add more water if it gets too dry.
* Garnish with Cilantro.

Serve as a side dish, or with chapatti, naan, pita or flat bread.

Can add Peas to this for more color and variation.

Notes: *Garam masala is a very popular combination of Indian spices. Every household in India has their own variation. It can be purchased at upscale grocery stores or at the West Side Market or your local Indian grocer.

Recipe and Photograph by Surekha.
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Portobello Mush Raviolis with sundried tomatoes Marsala sauce

Okay, I cheated here a little: I bought Portobello Mush Raviolis from Costco and prepared them according to instructions on the package, but I did make the sauce and it came out delicious....and tasted very good with these raviolis. The following recipe is good for one of the two packs of ravioli that Costco sells together. Here is the recipe for the sauce..

Rich Marsala Sauce
• 3 Tablespoons of Butter (Unsalted)
• 4 Tablespoon Olive Oil
• 3 cloves of garlic minced
• 1/2 inch piece of ginger minced
• Salt and Freshly crushed peppercorn about ½ teaspoon (To Taste)
• 1-2 bay leaves
• 1 sprig fresh thyme (1/4 tsp. dried)
• 1 White Onion (Thinly Sliced)
• 8 ozs of sliced mushroom (optional)
• 1/4 cup of All Purpose Flour
• 3/4 cup Marsala wine
• 1/4 cup red wine (Use a good table wine)
• 2 table spoon tomato paste/puree
• 2 table spoon of crushed tomatoes from can
• 2 table spoon of sun dried tomatoes (soak in water for few min when starting to make the sauce then finely chop them)
• 1 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
• 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
• 1 cup water

• Heat the butter and Olive oil in a sauce pan.
• When heated add bay leaf, garlic, thyme, ginger peppercorn, cook for little less than 1 min then add onions.
• Sauté the sliced onions till nicely caramelized and brown (about 3-5 min).
• Add mushrooms and saute till the edges are brown.
• Add flour to it and stir constantly on low heat, until golden brown, add salt.
• Then add both crushed and chopped sundried tomatoes, tomato puree, wines and water and continue to stir, simmer for 2-3 min, go easy on tomatoes, you don't want it to be too acidic and tart.
• Add heavy cream and turn off the heat, if sauce is too thick, can add vegetable broth or more water.
• Serve on desired dish. Garnish it with chives or green onions, I served this with the Portobello mushroom ravioli and my sons just loved it.

Recipe modified by Surekha from different sources.
Picture by Surekha.
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Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Muffins

Serves/Makes: 6-10 Ready In: 30-60 minutes


1 3/4 cup unsifted all purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
6 tablespoons Soft Butter
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup Half And Half
2 Eggs
2 Oranges -- zest only
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon instant coffee, dissolved in
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 tablespoon coffee flavored liquor, optional
1 cup chocolate chips


• Heat oven to 375F. Grease a muffin pan.
• In large bowl, beat on medium speed: butter and both sugars till light and fluffy.
• Beat in egg, sour cream, vanilla, dissolved coffee granules, orange zest, and coffee liquor until blended.

• In medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
• Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and milk, beating just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Divide batter among muffin pan cups.
• Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until centers spring back when lightly pressed.
• Cool 15 minutes before serving.
• Serve warm.

Credits: Modified from original recipe from
Photographs by Surekha.
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Grilled/smoked Eggplant (Bharta)

This can be used as side vegetable dish or a dip.

Serving 4-6

1 large eggplant purple or white (or 2 medium)

1 medium onion chopped

4 spring onions chopped

5 each Italian plum (Roma) tomatoes

1 chopped green pepper

2 green onions finely chopped

2-4 each garlic cloves or more, to taste

½ inch piece of ginger grated

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1-2 chopped hot green chili or jalapeno peppers

3-4-table spoon oil

1-teaspoon cumin seeds

1/8 teaspoon Asfoetida

1-teaspoon turmeric

1-2 teaspoon all spice or garam masala

½ teaspoon chili powder

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

¾ cup cilantro leaves chopped for garnish

* Grill the eggplant (lightly oiled) on an open flame, turning it around when skin is should turn completely black. This can be accomplished by simply broiling in oven for 10 min.

(I have also cooked it in microwave for 8 min, but then you don't get the smoked flavor and taste, and also be sure to cut slits in egg plant if you do decide to microwave it to avoid any explosion of eggplant.)

* Cool slightly, peel, mash with a fork, or in food processor.

* Heat oil. Fry cumin seeds, add Asfoetida, then instantly chopped both onions and crushed garlic, sauté, and add half of chopped tomatoes, green onions, green peppers and ginger. Cook for 2-3 min.

* Add mashed eggplant, followed by turmeric, all spice or garam masala, chili powder and hot peppers, salt and pepper, cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes. Let cool slightly and then add lemon/lime juice.

* Garnish with remaining tomatoes and cilantro.

Serve hot with Roti, naan, pita bread or flat bread.

Recipe and Photograph: by Surekha.
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hot Pepper Jelly

I am having lot of fun with peppers this summer. Our neighbors were gracious enough to let us plant some pepper plants in their garden, and Oh many peppers are coming out that I don't know what to do with them... Fortunately our neighbors are not that pepper crazy, so I decided to experiment some of the my long lost recipes for my blog.. And here it is, another one of my favorite recipe, which is modified from what I learned in a Food preservation class that I took for fun during one of the summers when I was in High school...I wish my mom could see this blog....


• 1 cup finely chopped red bell peppers
• 3 cups chopped Red Cherry peppers
• 3 cups finely chopped jalapeno peppers
• 2 cups Red wine vinegar
• 1/2 cup Orange Juice
• 1/2 cup Lemon Juice
• 1 tbl spoon citric acid (optional)
• 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (optional)
• 2 (6 oz ) package of liquid pectin
• 8 cups white sugar


• In a large, stainless steel saucepan combine peppers, vinegar, sugar, Orange Juice, lemon juice, citric acid and crushed pepper. Cook over medium high heat. Stir frequently until mixture begins to boil. Cook for 15-20 min.
• Stir in pectin; boil 5 minutes longer, stirring constantly, Skim off foam, and remove from heat.
• Quickly ladle into hot sterile jars to within 1/2 inch of the top. Refrigerate.

Tips: If you don't like crushed pepper, you may use cayenne pepper. I did not put pepper in this recipe this time, because I used lots of Jalapenos. If you don't care for pepper seeds in the jelly, you may want to take them out while chopping peppers. Be sure to wear gloves while doing this job.

You can substitute Apple cider vinegar for red wine vinegar. You can use any peppers you like based on desired heat. You may use green bell peppers instead of Jalapenos.

Recipe: Modified by Surekha from a recipe taught in Food Preservation course that she took in India long time ago.

Photos by Surekha.
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Hot Chile Peppers Pakoras (Fritters)


8 small Hungarian Peppers (can use 10-12 Serrano peppers)

Oil for frying

For the filling:

4 tables spoon Amchoor (mango powder)
½ tsp Cayenne pepper Powder
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp Cumin powder
2 table spoons finely chopped Cilantro leaves
¼ tsp Ginger paste (optional)
Salt to taste

For Batter

1 cup Besan (Chick peas Flour)
¼ cup Rice Flour
½ tsp Cayenne pepper Powder
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Baking soda
Pinch of Asfoetida (optional)
Salt to taste
Water to make batter ~ 3/4 cup


* Wash, wipe and slit the peppers along the length.
* Remove the seeds from the peppers
* Mix all the ingredients for the stuffing and fill it inside the peppers
* Mix all the ingredients for the batter and add enough water to prepare a thick batter. (make sure the batter is not too watery)
* Dip the stuffed peppers in this batter and fry in hot oil till it is golden in color.

Serve with Ketchup or Tamarind sauce/chutney and or Mint sauce/chutney.

Photograph by Surekha
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Jalapeño Poppers


• 12 Jalapeño peppers
• 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
• 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 ounce)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Heat the oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

2. Slicing only halfway through the peppers (be careful not to cut off the stem end completely) carefully open the flaps to expose the interior of the chilies, remove the seeds and ribs.

3. Place the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and salt in a medium bowl, season with freshly ground black pepper, and mix until smooth and evenly combined.

4. Transfer the mixture to a quart-size ziploc bag, cut one bottom corner off to make a 3/4-inch-wide opening thus making a cone.

5. Squeeze the mixture into the peppers until just filled. Insert a toothpick widthwise through each pepper to secure the flaps and filling. Place the filled peppers s on the prepared baking sheet in two evenly spaced rows of six.

6. Bake the peppers for 10 min at 450 F and then Broil for 2-4 minutes, rotate the pan, and continue to broil until the peppers are starting to char and the filling is browned and bubbly.

7. Remove from the oven, and remove the toothpicks if desired. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
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Roasted Spicy Hungarian Peppers in Garlic and Olive Oil


* 8 medium/small Hungarian peppers, washed and dried
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice or more to taste
* 8 finely chopped garlic cloves
* Salt and black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 450 F

* Leave the stem on peppers, just cut a slit length wise on each pepper, if you wish to make it less spicy, can remove the seeds and vein from each pepper, but comes out better if left alone (Spicy is my preference of course)

* Toss all ingredients in a baking dish

* Bake the peppers at 450 F for 10 min, then broil them for 3-4 min.

* Serve with warm bread of your choice.

Recipe and Photograph by Surekha.
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle:


• 4 pints strawberries
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 4 packages of cream cheese softened
• 4 tblsp Orange Juice or Lime juice
• 4 cups whipping cream/whipped
• 1 can low sugar condensed milk
• 1 cup sour cream
• 2 tubs of low fat cool whip/non dairy whipped topping
• 1 loaf of pound cake, cut into ½ inc cubes
• 1 bar of Cadbury milk chocolate grated
• Few additional strawberries and chocolate shaving or curls for garnishing (optional)


• In a bowl slice strawberries and toss them with ½ cup of sugar, set aside.
• In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese, orange juice, condensed milk until smooth
• Fold in whipped cream, sour cream cool whip and set aside.
• Drain strawberries, reserving juice: set berries aside
• Gently toss cake cubes with reserved juice
• In a trifle bowl alternate and repeat layers of cake, strawberries, cream and grated chocolate.
• Top with cream cheese mixture as last layer.
• Garnish with chocolate curls/shaving and strawberries.
• Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Yield: 20-25 servings. Can cut recipe in to half, but still can use one loaf of cake. Sweetness can be varied and cut down according to taste.

Picture: by Surekha.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Finikia Eggless recipe


• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 1/2 cup superfine sugar
• 1 grated zest of one orange
• 1/2 cup corn oil
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 cups semolina
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/2 cup orange juice
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Topping: 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, superfine sugar and orange zest. Gradually mix in the oil and beat until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, semolina, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves; beat into the fluffy mixture alternately with the orange juice. As the mixture thickens, turn out onto a floured board and knead into firm dough. Pinch off tablespoonfuls of dough and form them into balls or ovals. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Cool on baking sheets until room temperature.
4. To make the syrup: In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine the water, white sugar, honey, cinnamon stick and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick. While the mixture is boiling hot, dip the cookies in one at a time, making sure to cover them completely. Place them on a wire rack to dry and sprinkle with walnuts. Place paper under the rack to catch the drips. Keep finished cookies in a sealed container at room temperature.
Credits: Recipe and photo Courtesy of Dianalynn:
"Delicious Greek pastries...probably one of my favorites because of the orange and cinnamon combination. Worth the time they take!"

Photograph by Surekha
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