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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cucumbur Onion Salad with Yogurt/Sourcream

Cucumbers are so refreshing that is why I love to use them in variety of salads and Raita.

This salad is originally from Ukrainian Kitchen. I make this with little Indian twist.

It is wonderfully refreshing, delicious side dish that complements our spicy cooking and soothes the palate, but can go very well with any meal.

Here is how I made mine for our Thanksgiving meal.


* 1 English cucumber thinly sliced

* 1 medium yellow onion cut in to thin slices

* 3-4 thin slices of red onion

* 4 cups of plain Greek yogurt (I used homemade yogurt, you can use any kind fat free of light sour cream or you may use 2 cups of plain yogurt and 2 cups of sour cream)

* 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of salt

* Pepper to taste

* 1 teaspoon roasted cumin seeds powder

* 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro leaves

* 3 green onions chopped with green part intact

* 1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds


* Whisk yogurt or yogurt and sour cream until smooth.

* Place cucumber slices in a large bowl with onion slices.

* Generously season with salt and pepper. Toss well and let sit 10 minuets, drain any excess liquids.

* Toss cucumbers, sliced onions, cumin powder, 1/2 of green onions, 1/2 of Pomegranate seeds and 1/2 of cilantro leaves in with yogurt/sour cream.

* Mix well.

* Refrigerate until well chilled. Stir, and season with salt and pepper to taste if needed.

* Garnish with remaining green onions, Cilantro leaves and pomegranate seeds.

* Serve this chilled side dish with any meal.

Enjoy :)

Recipe and Photographs by Surekha.
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Okra (Bhindi) Curry with Gram flour (Besan)

I had posted another recipe of Okra Curry earlier. This one is different, this is how my mom used to make and I love it !!


4 cups plain yogurt

4 cups water

1/2 cup besan

One bag of frozen Okra (16 oz) or 2 cups of fresh okra cut

1 yellow onion chopped

2 green chillies

Few sprigs of fresh curry leaves

2 teaspoon garlic ginger paste

3 tablespoon vegetable oil

1-2 bay leaves

2-4 dry red chili pepper pods

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1/4 teaspoon asefetida (hing)

3 tables spoon of lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon coriander powder

1 tablespoon cumin powder

1 tablespoon Amchoor (mango powder)

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salt to taste (~ 3 teaspoon)

1/4 cup Chopped cilantro leaves


* Mix water and yogurt and hand churn or blend it to smooth buttermilk.

* Add Besan (gram flour) hand churn or whisk it until all the lumps are gone.

* Add all the spices and 2 teaspoon salt, some of the curry leaves and one green slit chili to this besan buttermilk mixture and set aside.

* Heat oil in a frying pan.

* When heated add cumin seed, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds, when these crackle and become light brown add asefetida, dry red pepper pods and bay leaves.

* Add chopped onion, garlic ginger mix and saute until onions are translucent.

* Add some of the curry leaves and slit green chilies, mix well.

* Add thawed or fresh cut okra and 1 teaspoon of salt.

* Saute on medium-high, you will see the okra becoming sticky, don't worry keep cooking with occasional stir until all the stickiness of okra is gone.

* Add lemon juice and saute some more so the okra is not sticky at all. (total time about 5 min)

* Add the buttermilk besan and all the spice mix and stir to mix well.

* Turn the head down to medium - low.

* Cook for 10-12 min with stirring in between (constant supervision is required as the curry may boil over if don't stir in between)

* Cook until curry is smooth and no taste of flour upon tasting and the fenugreek seeds become soft to touch.

* The curry with thicken a little compared to what you started with.

* Garnish with chopped cilantro.

* Serve hot over plain white cooked warm Basmati rice.


You can substitute Okra with any other vegetable like chopped spinach, or sauteed eggplant or boiled potato cubes, peas or any vegetable that you like.

You can modify the spices and salt according to your taste. This is not a very spicy curry.

Photographs by Surekha.

Recipe modified by Surekha from a recipe by her mom Mrs. Kasturben S.

Thank you Mommy :)
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nutty Sooji Pineapple Halwa

Halwa/Halva (or halawa, xalwo, haleweh, ħelwa, halvah, halava, helava, helva, halwa, halua, aluva, chalva, chałwa) refers to many types of dense, sweet confections, served across the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Malta and the Jewish world.

The term halva (Arabic: حلوى‎ halwā), meaning "sweet", is used to describe two types of desserts:

Flour-based - This type of halva is slightly gelatinous and made from grain flour, typically semolina. The primary ingredients are clarified butter, flour, and sugar.

Nut-butter-based - This type of halva is crumbly and usually made from tahini (sesame paste) or other nut butters, such as sunflower seed butter. The primary ingredients are nuts, butter and sugar.

Halva may also be based on numerous other ingredients, including sunflower seeds, various nuts, beans, lentils, and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, yams, and squashes.

This sooji halwa, produced and served in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan and surrounding countries (different versions of it are also found in Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Montenegro and Turkey), is usually made with wheat semolina, sugar or honey, and butter or vegetable oil. Raisins, dates, other dried fruits, or nuts such as almonds or walnuts, are often added to semolina halva.

In India, though semolina halwa is considered to be essentially a "Northern" confection, it is also quite popular in South India. A prominent South Indian version of halva (or alvaa in Tamil) is from Tirunelveli, a city in the state of Tamil Nadu. A closely related semolina preparation widely enjoyed throughout South India is called kesari or kesari-bath.

In Pakistan and India, carrots (for gajar halwa), mung beans (for moong dal halwa) or bottle gourds (for doodi halwa) are also used instead of semolina. Prepared with condensed milk and ghee, without semolina to bind it together, the end result has a moist, yet flaky, texture when freshly prepared. Just a note that my mom makes the best doodhi (bottle gourd) halwa and gajar (carrots) halwa.

I am going to post those recipes one of these day, but for now lets concentrate on this Sooji Halwa. Typically in India, Sooji Halwa is made with Semolina, ghee, sugar and few nuts and raisins with cardamom and saffron for flavoring.

However as you can see from the name of my dish, I make this with a little twist by adding crushed pineapple and lot of nuts to it, it makes it little less sweet, nutty and fruity.


* 3/4 cup Sooji (Semolina or Cream of wheat)

* 1/4 cup of Besan (Gram flour preferably coarse one that is used for laddu or you can omit this and just use 1 cup of sooji)

* 1 stick of unsalted butter or 1/2 cup of ghee

* 1/2 cup of almonds slivered or chopped in food processor

* 1/4 cup pistachio chopped in food processor

* 1/4 cup of cashews chopped

* 1/4 cup golden raisins (I did not use them this time)

* 1 1/4 cup sugar

* 1 can of crushed pineapple drained

* 1 1/4 cup of boiling water

* 1 teaspoon of crushed cardamom seeds (divided in two parts)

* 1/4 teaspoon of saffron strands soaked and crushed in tablespoon of warm milk


* Save some nuts and half of crushed cardamoms for garnish.

* Melt butter or Ghee in a shallow frying pan (shaped like a wok)

* Add semolina and besan and roast it on medium to low heat constantly stirring with a spatula for 5 min or until it emits nice toasty smell of flour and the flour is light brown but not burnt.

* Add chopped almonds, pistachio and Cashews and roast for another 2-3 min.

* Add sugar stir and mix well.

* Carefully and slowly add boiling water to the flour, while stove is still on medium low heat. Stir it constantly and then gradually add the crushed pineapple, saffron crushed in milk and cardamom.

* If you are using raisin, you can add them at this point, I did not use raisins this time.

* Cook on stove top for about 5 min constantly stirring and mixing it, then transfer the content in a microwave safe container.

* Cook in microwave uncovered, stirring it every min for about 7-8 min, or until the butter start separating from flour.

* Mix well.

* Garnish with remaining nuts.

* Serve hot :)


* You can make the recipe more or less sweet by adjusting amount of sugar.

* In India they use amount of Ghee same as that of Sooji, but I cut it in to half, if you like it with more Ghee or butter you may use more.

* You can add or delete any nuts, and as you can see raisins are totally optional too.

* Some people use boiling milk instead of boiling water, you can try that if you like or you can use half of each.

* Some people use light yellow food coloring, but I prefer to make it without color as pineapple and saffron gives it a natural yellow tint.

Enjoy !

Information source for Halwa:

Recipes and photographs by Surekha.
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