June 1, 2020

Balekai Bajji | How to make Vazhakkai Bajji | GF, Vegan Raw Banana deep fried Fritters

Monsoon - the very word conjures up memories of crispy hot pakora (deep fried lentil fritters) and many other monsoon treats, of hot soups, of chai (the Indian style milky tea), of lazing around in my grandmom’s armchair and gazing at the raindrops sliding down the window pane, of broken, lost and missing colourful umbrellas at school or college ☔️ and many more. 

And, brace yourself for a longgggggg post :) 

Food as en emotion ties us to different seasons in myriad ways. While to some, monsoon is a terrible inconvenience (think of the daily essentials / home delivery guys - the newspaper boy precariously balancing the paper on his Rickety bicycle while at trying to manoeuvre his way around seen and unseen potholes in the pouring rain, yet keeping the newspapers dry every morning while it reaches your doorstep without as much as a smudge or a drop of water. 

Or the Mumbai local train commuter who jostles for space , even a teeny weeny foothold on a crowded train in the monsoon all the while trying to catch the umbrella in the left hand while hanging on to life dear (and, a laptop) in the other only to be drenched in more water once he/ she enters the train with more dripping umbrellas all around him / her.

or the child like my younger one who’s been planning her first ever “head to toe monsoon drench session” ever since the summers (and the lockdown) set in a few months ago. Waiting and wishing for the skies to darken a bit ( and asking me everyday at twilight and dawn) - “ will it rain today, amma?” . Pure innocence and a hope.

And hope it is for the romantics who cuddle up on Marine Drive at Chowpatty (mumbai) in pouring rain, oblivious to people or the rain lashing around.

Monsoon brings to me some bittersweet memories - all conjured over the years. For the child in me growing up at Bangalore, it meant rains almost thru the year except for the summer vacation and Rains only meant one thing - you wear a rain coat and carry a handful of paper boats and let them sail on the tiny / large rivulets of water on the road outside your house. There was some satisfaction in seeing the boat - rickety as it was - sailing through to the end of the lane. When the rains stopped for rhe day, me and my friends would run to the end of the road to see whose boat had made it and whose was in tatters. 

And the next rainy day, rise, reset, repeat . 

Hope I tell ya !! 

And some stories that Archana set us thinking about this week at #249Monsoonmunchies. 

Hope is also that you aren’t bored with the post so far. If you have reached reading till here , then let’s make some bhajias with raw bananas - rhe perfect antidote to rain -washed evenings.

Other Monsoon munchies on the blog that we love, include:

Lemon Coriander Soup (our all time fav!!!)
Pasta Pakora (leftover cooked pasta, and voila, we have a delicious snack)
Paneer Chilly Bites (quick to make when the temptation kicks in)
Chilly Cheese Sandwiches (needs no introduction :p)
Keerai Vada (Greens added to Urad Dal Vada batter and deep fried)
Chawal ke Pakore (leftover cooked rice turned into a tasty yummy snack)


Vazhakkai (as Raw bananas are called in Tamil) is a healthy source of dietary fibre and we use it regularly in our cooking - to make avial , podimas, curry , kerala style erisseri etc . Today we use firm, green fresh raw banana to make bajji (tamil word for bhajia / deep fried fritter). 

Prep time - 15 Mins | fry time - 15 Mins | makes - 15 servings 

What you need:
Raw banana / vazhakkai / bale kai (kannada) - 4 medium sized 
Oil to deep fry : 1-2 cups 

For the batter :
Besan / gramflour / kadalai maavu / kadle hittu - 1 cup (200 ml)
Rice flour - 1/4 cup or heaped 2 tablespoons 
Salt - 1 tsp or to taste 
Haldi / tumeric - 1/4 tsp
Crushed ajwain / carrom seeds - 1/4 tsp 
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp or to taste
Chopped coriander leaves -1 tsp (optional) 

Peel the raw banana and slit them lengthwise in flat strips and reserve them in mildly salted water 

To make the batter - 

sieve both the flours, add salt, spices. Mix well. To this, add 4 tbsp of hot oil , mix with the spoon till the hot oil is incorporated in the dry flour mix.
Slowly add water - little by little- to take the batter to a thickish consistency. Rest it for 5 mins.

To fry:
Keep a deep bottomed pan / kadai with oil for heating.  Let the heat be on medium-high. 
Slowly dip a few pieces of the soaked ( and drained) pieces of the raw banana strips into the batter
Shake off excess batter and gently slide into the hot oil. 
Fry till golden brown on both sides.
Serve immediately with coconut chutney or just as is / with tomato sauce / green chutney.
Wash them all down with a generous cup of Indian masala chai . 
And make more memories with the monsoon once again :)

May 31, 2020

Udupi Style Kayi Sasive Chitranna | ಉಡುಪಿ ಶೈಲಿಯ ಕಾಯಿ ಸಾಸಿವೆ ಚಿತ್ರಾನ್ನ | No Onion, no Garlic Dish

Traditional Udupi Cuisine was set up formally a few centuries ago by the pontiffs like Madhwacharya etc who set some basic rules about cooking. It is said that Udupi Cuisine is a Temple Food Cuisine, which means that onions, garlic, Aubergines (and a few other vegetables including Tomato ) are abhorred in the cuisine. Coconut is used predominantly as its abundantly available owing to its proximity to the Western Coastline of India. 

The Temple town of Udupi is famous for the Krishna Temple where devotes partake of a simple but ultra delicious lunch served as Prashad (or offering to the Lord). 

Served on Banana leaves, this is a lunch that devotees don't miss out while visiting the temple. It is often believed that as the food is made for the LORD, even simple dishes like Rasam , Tambli or Pineapple Gojju etc taste ultra delicious. 

Think Udupi Cuisine, Think Masala Dosa, Urad Dal Vada (a.k.a Uddina Vade in local parlance ) or the humble Idli. It is said that the several Udupi eateries around the country took influence from the teachings of the saints, and till recently, followed them in their restaurant menus. 

Today, me and Seema - my paired blogger for this theme (suggested by Jayashree) for Cooking Secret Challenge - cooked with the same set of ingredients - Tamarind and Mustard seeds as the secret ingredients. Head over to her blog and see what she has cooked. 

Today’s dish is Kayi Sasive Chitranna - a delicious No Onion, No garlic dish that’s prepared mostly on festivals and social occasions and is considered a delicacy in Karnataka Cuisine.  Kayi - means coconut and Sasive means Mustard.

Both Red and green chillies are accepted as part of the spice paste. but I used Red Chillies (incl the Kashmiri variety for that bright colour) as that’s the way I remember having eaten (nay, wolfed) this growing up in Bangalore. 

This keeps upto 3 days under refrigeration. Let’s get to the recipe now. The method is shown in the YOUTUBE Video embedded herewith. I do hope you would leave your comments on the blog link here as well as the youtube channel.  


Prep time - 15 mins | Cook time - 20 mins | Serves - 4

Raw rice (Sona masoori / any short grained rice - Basmati may not work here) - 200 ml
Oil - 3 TBSP (split use)
Salt - to taste
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida / hing - 1/4 tsp (skip for GF)

Masala paste:
Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
Tamarind - one medium lemon sized
Red chillies -4 
Fresh / frozen coconut - 1/2 cup
Byadgi OR kashmiri chillies - 5 nos.
Cumin seeds / jeera - 1/2 tsp
Jaggery - 1 tsp

Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Peanuts - 2 TBSP
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs

For the detailed method on how to make this click on the following Youtube Link. 

I hope you have liked and subscribed to our channel. Don't forget to click on subscribe and press the bell icon for more updates. 

May 25, 2020

Sugarfree Lemon Iced Tea | How to make Lemon Iced Tea | Summer Coolers

Come Summer, and we hanker for Sugarfree Coolers / Mocktails / Smoothies for a mid-morning snack or at breakfast time. This year, thanks to the lockdown, we have all members of the family working / studying / playing at home 24x 7, so naturally the demand for these simple homemade coolers are increasing.

We are not fans of milkshakes (milk / ice cream with fruits) but rather prefer the naturally ripened fruits as a whole. Lemons are a cool favourite during the summers like this Lemon Fresca and my elder one is a fan of Iced Tea like this Orange Iced Tea or the Pistachio Rose Iced Tea . So, rather than use store bought (and calorie / sugar laden pre mix), we made the Iced Tea at home. 

This is naturally sweetened with honey and tasted delicious (I am not a tea drinker,so didn’t have it). You could sub the honey with maple syrup to make this completely vegan too.

The husband and the elder one enjoyed this in the place of their afternoon masala Chai ritual. Tea drinking as a ritual and lemon added to it made for a welcome change. If life hands you lemons make Waagmi's Eggless Lemon Cake who shared a theme with Lemons. this week for FMBH #248LemonLove. Or make a lemonade . Or if you still love your tea, make this Sugar Free Lemon Iced Tea. 

Other Sugar Free beverages / Smoothies that might interest you this summer :)

Takes under 10 mins to make. Do let me know how you liked it.


Prep time - 5 mins, Cook time - zero. Serves - 2

What you need:
Water - 200 ml
Assam Black Tea (used to make Masala Chai) - 2 tsp (OR use 2 tea bags)
Honey - to taste
Lemon juice - 1 TBSP

How to:
Bring the water to rolling boil. Add the tea leaves and let the leaves steep for a good 5 mins. Switch off flame. After 5 mins, strain out the tea liquid. 
If using sugar, you can also add at this stage, and refrigerate this for further use (if not making tea immediately) 
In chilled glasses, add 1 tsp of honey to the bottom layer. Mix well. 
Add few cubes of ice, top up with the tea decoction, add lemon juice and stir well. 
Top with more crushed ice, a sprig of mint and enjoy immediately. 

May 18, 2020

Video Recipe - Wholewheat Baked Papdi for Chat | How to make Baked Wholewheat Papdi for Chaat

It's absolutely true when they say necessity is the mother of invention. Being Chaat lovers at home, we frequently indulge in quick, healthy, sumptuous chaats as snacks and sometimes as dinner too (Think Ragda Patties / Chole Patties etc). Keeping the chutneys - Red chilli garlic pasteGreen chilli Chutney and Dates - tamarind chutney  (a.k.a Teekha - Meetha Chutneys) becomes very handy to make quick chaats

 to Taco Bhel to Kutchi Dabeli to Dahi Moong Chaat (GF) , Chaat is something the kids and elders love at home . 

Need more Chaat recipes ? Check these out while we make today's dish...
I had made Sev Puri several times (even with the deep fried Papdis) made at home. But with this lockdown, I had to make the Baked Papdis - something on my bucket list for a while. 

Adapted from Swati’s recipe (who incidentally also suggested the theme for this week’s FMBH “Chaat Time”), this was a breeze. Thanks much Swaty for this wonderful, homely way to bake the papdis for the chaats

Not just for Sev Puri or Sev Batata Puri, this became a great go-to snack for those 4 pm hunger pangs, and I see this becoming a healthy base snack like canapés. The husband added some boiled potato and moong sprouts and some schezwan sauce to make his own fusion sev puri last week. 

 I made a second batch while shooting the video, and full credit to my little one who helped me with the over head shoots (while balancing on her tiny wooden stool next to me).    

I have made few minor changes from Swati’s recipe. Do watch my video below, subscribe to the channel and leave your comments on this blog as well as the video.

Over to the recipe. 

Wholewheat Baked Papdi ~ No Deep fry 
Prep time - 20 mins + rest time of 30 mins | Bake time - 12 to 15 mins per batch. 
Makes ~  50 pieces (medium sized)
Spice level - Medium ; cuisine / Course - Indian Snack


You would need:
Wholewheat flour - 1.5 cups 
Roasted Semolina - 2 heaped TBSP
Ghee / clarified butter - 4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Ajwain / carrom seeds - 1/4 tsp
Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) crushed - 1 tsp
Red chilli pwdr / paprika - 1/2 tsp
Sesame seeds - 1/2 tsp
Ice Cold water - for binding - I used about 4 TBSP + 1 tsp  

How to:
Refer the following youtube link for directions, and do leave your comments on what other video recipes you would like to see on the blog / youtube channel.

May 4, 2020

2-min Coffee Cocoa Mug Cake - Eggless too ! | Easy Cake Recipes for #Lockdown

Serious Baristas would agree that "Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after." Well,I don't drink either coffee or tea (except an occasional green/herbal tea). My coffee-loving family tells me often that I am missing out a lot without either of the beverages, but I don't miss either of them, having not drunk both since childhood.

Ahem! If you are done rolling your eyes,I make it up with baking / cooking with Coffee for small, impromptu celebrations at home. And for the record, I make excellent South Indian Filter Coffee for others at home without which no self-respecting TamBrahm would start their day :)      

So, today's dessert came rather as a welcome surprise for my family who were served this coffee-rich dessert within minutes of wrapping lunch. My little one was the most excited and my coffee-loving (critic of a) husband declared it a roaring success. Mind you, he takes his Affogato, Mochiatto and Espresso as seriously as South Indian Filter Coffee. The elder girl had made a Dalgona Coffee Cake with Choco chips recently - a recipes which I intend to share soon !  

Well, if you have 5 mins of prep time and 2 mins to watch over, you can beat all the midnight sugar cravings post dinner or even make a quick treat during this #lockdown. I have used Instant Coffee powder here, but you can use any variant you have. You may also serve it with Vanilla Ice Cream or topped with Rich Chocolate sauce 

The best part of this recipe is you can exercise portion control (the most difficult part of any dessert) and make it in a jiffy whenever those choco-coffee cravings kick in !  In fact, it took me more time to write/edit this post than it took to me bake it:)

Sasmita gave #LoveforCoffee theme for #FMBH. She has an amazing eye for capturing beverages, and her food styling is something worth emulating.  

Pin for later

Prep time - 5 mins | Bake time - 2 mins | Serves - 1

For each serving, add a mix of the following. Just repeat the steps and quantities for X number of servings

What you require and how to make:

Sift 2 TBSP all purpose flour, 1 TBSP Cocoa pwdr, 1.5 TBSP powdered Sugar, 1 tsp Instant Coffee granules, 1/8 tsp baking powder. To this dry mixture, add 2 TBSP milk, 1 TBSP oil and a few drops of vanilla essence. Mix well.
Pour into ramekins / microwaveable coffee mugs. Sprinkle choco chips on top if desired.
Microwave for 1 min. Let it stand for 10 seconds. 
Microwave for 30 secs more. Check with toothpick, if it comes out clean, let it stand for 10 more seconds in the microwave . serve immdly after that.
If it doesnt (owing to quanities made or quality of cocoa / milk etc), microwave for 20-30 seconds more.
It should be done in max 2 mins, give or take a few seconds
Serve in the same ramekins or topped with ice cream / chocolate sauce.
I served it wit drizzled confectioner's sugar.


April 30, 2020

How to make Kodo Millet Pongal | வரகு அரிசி பொங்கல்| Millet Recipes

Pongal is a favourite breakfast at home. Apart from Ven pongal (the classic rice-dal combo), we also enjoy a variety with millets and other grains in both savoury and sweet variants. The brown rice chakkara pongal (sweet variant) is one of our favourite made on festive occasions,  while the Oats pongal, thinai pongal (foxtail millet pongal) , samai pongal (little millet) , Rava Pongal are also repeated  during the menu rotation. 

Varagu (Kodo Millet) is one pseudo-grain that I alternate along with Foxtail Millet (Thinai), Samai to use in place of rice for everyday meals or in Pongal (savoury porridge). Pongal is mostly our go-to dish for Sunday breakfast

Whatever the dish, whatever the reason, Millets in pongal form is yummy, light. The kids don’t even need to know it’s not made of rice. You can also moderate the ghee (clarified butter) used in pongal, but we prefer it on the lower side . Asafoetida is a must in most of our savoury pongal and that combined with kodo millet (called varagu in tamil) was a yummy dish. We love pongal with Avial. But kids love it  coconut chutney or even veg peel chutney. 

Anu - my paired blogger for this month’s theme of millets (Sshh Cooking Challenge theme by Aruna) brought a new dish at home. Anu has made a delicious Ragi Rotti with ragi flour and chillies that I gave her..  

Other millet dishes on the blog include:

Varagu Upma - Kodo Millet Upma

and many more...

Let’s see how to make today's pongal 

Prep time - 5 Mins, soak time - 10 Mins ; Cook time - 15 Mins, Serves : 3 generously.

What you need:
Varagu / Kodo Millet - 1 cup (240 ml)
Moong dal - 1/4 cup (soaked for 10 mins)
Salt - to taste
Pinch of turmeric

Tempering :
Ghee - 2 tsp 
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp 
Black Pepper and ginger crushed - 1 tsp combined 
Cashews bits - few (optional)
Curry leaves - few
Asafoetida - a generous pinch.


How to:
  • Wash millets twice or thrice well. Soak in water for 10 mins. Similarly dry roast moong for 1-2 mins till aromatic and also soak it for 10 mins.
  • In a pressure cooker, add the soaked millet and dal along with 5-6 cups of water , a pinch of turmeric and half the salt . Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles .Let the pressure come down on its own. Mash the dal-millet mixture with a ladle while it’s hot and add the remaining salt. 
  • Adjust the pongal gooeyness at this stage - if Its too runny , simmer the mixture on the stove for a few mins till it reaches the right consistency. If it’s too dry, add upto 3-4 tbsp of HOT water, mix well and adjust consistency. Some people like pongal runny and some like it a Tad dry. We prefer something midway. It’s totally personal. 
  • Prepare tempering with ghee. Splutter cumin seeds, asafoetida , cashews and curry leaves till cashews turn golden brown. Switch off the flame and add pepper-ginger mixture. Mix well and pour this tempering  into the pongal. Mix well, adjust salt if needed and serve pongal steaming hot. 

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