April 30, 2017

Watermelon Quinoa Salad with Lime & Chilli Vinaigrette

Sshh Cooking Secret Challenge is a wonderful FB group where a central theme is picked each month and ingredients are exchanged virtually between paired bloggers. I was paired with Priya Suresh and she gave me Watermelon and Quinoa. My husband is very fond of watermelon and feta salad and the addition of Quinoa gave a nutty twist to this unique salad.

It's a simple salad that's apt for the scorching summer days, and it can easily be a complete meal for one.  It's also great for potluck parties. So, go on and make this one, and let me know what other salads you love !

Prep time : 10 mins, Chilling time : 15 mins ; Serves : 1

Cooked Quinoa - 1/2 cup
Watermelon cubes - 1 cup (200 ml)

For the vinaigrette : 
Lemon juice - 1/2 TBSP
Honey / maple syrup - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli flakes - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Crushed pepper - 1/8 tsp
Fresh Orange juice - 1/4 cup

To make:
Mix the quinoa and watermelon with a fork and chill for 15- 30 mins. 
Before serving,whisk all ingredients of the vinaigrette,toss the salad with the same & serve immediately.

a) One can skip honey for a completely vegan version.
b) Ingredients for the Vinaigrette is optional, go with what catches your fancy.
c) This was moderately spicy for me, but you could add or delete any ingredient of your choice.

April 11, 2017

Fingermillet Rosemary Focaccia for #Breadbakers

I admit I didn’t get to think beyond Focaccia when the hostess @AnshieDhar for #Breadbakers announced “Breads from Italy” for this month’s edition. I kept going back and forth between Ciabatta and Pane Bianco only to land firmly on Focaccia every time :) 

What’s more, I found my name calling when I saw a packet of fresh rosemary - a rare sight, we only get dried rosemary flakes- in the supermarket (and there it was telling me to use it in a flavourful bake!)

Focaccia remains our family’s fav bread (apart from pizza which gets a nod every weekend !),but I got to make some twists adding some finger millet flour and then it came about to be a beautiful bread that we munched with some pasta. The next day I quickly toasted some for breakfast (morning rush, hence no pics of that toast!), and loved the nutty flavour from the finger millet and the aroma of the rosemary that was so enticing. If you are keen, check out 3-4 varieties of Focaccia here.  

The little one kept asking me why the bread was a tad dark , and when I mentioned I had added Ragi (aka fingemillet), the elder one freaked out (typical teen !! arghh) but nevertheless dug into the bread even on the second day ! All in all, a winner, and thanks to Anshie Dhar who is hosting this theme this month.  The only change I would make next time is add a little more salt and maybe some more spices to perk it up.

Without any more delay, lets get on with the recipe. 

Prep time : 15 mins, Standing time : 1 hr + 45 mins ; Baking time : 30 mins

You would need:
1 cup = 200 ml here
  • Wholemeal bread flour - 1 cup  (I had a pack of M&S whole meal bread flour which worked beautifully here)
  • Finger millet flour - 1/2 cup
  • All purpose flour - 1/4 cup
  • Warm water - I used about 2/3 cup to 1 tsp less than 1 cup (depends on the flours you use)
  • Sugar - 2 tsp
  • Instant Yeast - 1 sachet (7 grams)
  • Salt - 1 tsp (I used 1/2 tsp but would recommend 1 tsp)
  • Dried Italian spices - 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli flakes - 1/2 tsp
  • Fresh (or dried) rosemary - few sprigs - for topping 
  • Olive oil - 1/4 cup (more or less depending on your flours)

  1. Take warm water, sugar. Mix well. Add in the yeast and let it proof (I prove my yeast every time although its instant). 
  2. In a stand mixer (I used my Kitchen Aid), add the flours, spices, salt. Mix well. Add the proofed yeast,give it a mix with a wooden spatula and let it rest (without kneading) for about 10 mins - this standing time helps absorb the water better than trying to knead immediately.
  3. Now add half the oil, and start kneading on a low speed, gradually increase the speed and knead on speed 7-8 for about 10 mins till you get a smooth, slightly sticky  and a smooth surfaced pliable dough.
  4. Place the dough in a oiled bowl and cling wrap / drape a wet kitchen towel. Keep the bowl in a draft-free place and let it rise. As I used wholewheat and finger millet flours, the dough didn’t exactly double.
  5. Once risen (mine took about 55 mins), punch it slightly. In a prepared baking tray, spread the dough to all corners till you get a thickish 7*7 square bread. Cover and proof once again till slightly risen.
  6. Towards the end of the 2nd rise, preheat the oven to 200 C  / 400 F.
  7. Mark small dimples on the surface of the risen dough, place the rosemary sprigs and brush generous olive oil onto the bread, also covering the dimples. 
  8. Bake for 22-25 mins until golden brown, mine took about 28 mins, I then turned it to broil for 2-3 mins to get a nice textured focaccia.
  9. Cool on a wire rack and slice / tear off the focaccia. 
  10. Keeps for upto a week under refrigeration or longer if frozen.

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com Links :-

March 14, 2017

Irish buttermilk soda bread for #Breadbakers | Easy Quick breads

It's lovely to be back amongst the #breadbakers group. Having missed out on the previous editions, I was keen to bake bread for this month. St.patricks day bakes and breads is being celebrated this month as a theme , hosted by Wendy and I present this quick to make Irish soda buttermilk bread. Wiki tells me "Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (IrishLá Fhéile Pádraig, "the Day of the Festival of Patrick"), is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland." 

It uses bicarbonate of soda as a leavening agent and buttermilk is a welcome egg substitute. Altho traditionally shaped as a boule, I made it in a loaf pan and it came out pretty crumby. The only change I would make next time is use a smaller loaf pan so that the height of the loaf is better.

All in all, we loved it as a toast the next morning . I should also learn to wait for the loaf to cool down n get better slices ; guess baking after a really long break took the better of me :)) 

Let's see how to make it. Adapted from here, 

You would need 

Self raising flour - 170 g
maida / Plain flour - 170 g
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Soda (aka baking soda) - 1/2 tsp
around 250 - 270 ml of buttermilk (not too runny or too thick either)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C
  2. Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.) - I used a stand mixer n surprisingly the dough came together very quickly - probably in under 3-4 minutes. 
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.
  5. Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet. This is where I turned the dough onto a loaf pan (the 9*5 pan was very large for this quantity so I would use a smaller pan next time) 
  6. Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30-32 minutes ; (I made a few slashes on the top, but guess they weren't deep enough ) or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

March 10, 2017

Ganpati Festival Maharashtrian Thali | Festival Thalis | Indian Thali Series

Well, as I sit down to write this post, so many changes have happened in my personal life in the past fortnight ; most of them are great, and I am anxious for some. But given that time is the greatest healer and God is overlooking every one of us , I am thankful for the bounty that He showers upon us. 

Nothing can soothe me like food - if its a well made Indian food Thali (I am very very partial to Indian Cuisine - much to the chagrin of my kids), its a treat. Considering we don't eat out very frequently, I take Sundays as an opportunity to present different thaalis (all home-cooked and healthy) at home, and all (well, most) of them are appreciated with gusto. Although am yet to adventure into the North Eastern cuisine for my thaalis, over the next three days, we shall see different thaalis from 3 states of India.

I love the diversity and balance that comes with Indian Thalis - something that will hopefully inspire researchers in the West to come and tell us how healthy we Indians eat (barring that odd indulgence of deep fried fats and sweet, which incidentally celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar holds a no-views barred of);  but having a well made Thali is something me and my family relish.  The balance of carbs, fats, proteins and sweet along with the sweet-sour-spicy-astringent properties of food is something most Thalis across India vouch for with their simple-to-elaborate spreads.

Ahh ! I digress. Writing, like eating good food - is cathartic to me :D

Today is a festival Thali made for the Ganpati festival with ample inputs from my blogger friend Pradnya (over whatsapp). I was keen to present a simple yet festive Maharashtrian Thali and everyone loved it a lot.  Thanks Pradnya for the same :-)

Do check out the Thali to see what was made.

March 5, 2017

Wholewheat Orange Choco chip Muffins | Eggless Baking

After the chocolate overdose in yesterday's Triple Chocolate Cupcakes, I needed something I could bite into :) So, one of my fav combos - Orange and chocolate (actually my best ever is Ginger OR chilli with chocolate), and this is a great healthy breakfast option.

No refined sugar or flour. Just plain everyday pantry essentials and you have a sumptuous muffin for snack or breakfast time. I am waiting for the summer vacation to make this again in larger quantities for the frequent hunger pangs that strike kids :)

Wholewheat Orange Choco chip Muffins - easy breakfast or snack option

Prep time : 10 mins, bake time : 18 mins (varies from oven to oven) ; makes : 6-7 medium sized muffins


  • Wholewheat flour - 1.25 cups (1 cup = 200 ml)
  • organic powdered jaggery - 1/3 cup
  • Baking powder - 1/3 tsp
  • Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
  • Neutral oil - 1/3 cup
  • Yogurt - 1/4 cup
  • Fresh Orange Juice -  1/4 cup
  • Orange essence - few drops ( I didnt use)
  • Orange zest - 1/2 tsp (dont skip)
  • Choco chips - about 3 tbsp


  1. Sieve flour with Baking powder and baking soda. 
  2. Dissolve the jaggery in the yoghurt, beat well, add the oil, juice, essence if using, zest and mix well.
  3. Preheat oven to 170 C.
  4. Add the sieved flour in batches slowly to the liquid mixture. Mix slowly till there are no dry streaks.
  5. Slowly fold in half of the choco chips without melting them.
  6. spoon batter into prepared muffin liners and top with remaining choco chips
  7. Bake for 18-20 mins or till a skewer / tooth pick comes out clean.
  8. Retain them in the moulds for further 4-5 mins. Then serve warm or at room temperature. 

March 4, 2017

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes | Easy cupcake recipes

When there’s chocolate, the chocolate lovers go absolutely overboard. But for a person like me, any excess chocolate (or even a tiny bit, unless its Lindt) puts me off. The kids had been asking for a decadent chocolate cupcake - bakery style, especially after the elder one saw I was making a post on hosting chocolate delights ! 

So, adapted Gayatri’s recipe with some changes, halved it (or should I say made 1/4 of the recipe), made exactly 4 cupcakes, and voila, kids were super happy. The only other grumpy person was the husband who asked why I couldn’t have made just ONE more for him ! ha ha :)

so, here they are “ Triple Chocolate Cupcakes” - I think I used every form of chocolate I had at home that day and the kids had no qualms about gobbling it down - the mom in me was super happy and for once I relaxed although it was a chocolate overload ! 

Happy faces, happy mom :))

To make 4 cupcakes , you would need:
  • Whole wheat flour - 1/4 cup
  • APF / Maida - 2 TBSP
  • Oil - 1/4 cup (original recipe used butter)
  • Brown sugar - 1/3 cup
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
  • hung Yoghurt - 1/3 cup
  • Dark Cocoa powder - 2 tsp
  • Vanilla Essence - few drops
  • Hot water - 3 TBSP (use as needed)

  • Real dark chocolate - 2 TBSP
  • Milk - 1/4 cup
  • Chocochips - 2tsp
  • Icing sugar - 1 tsp

Glazed Chocolate sprinkles a.k.a Chocolate Vermicelli

For the Cupcakes--
Sieve the flours with baking soda and cocoa powder. whisk the yoghurt & sugar well. Add oil, vanilla essence and 1 TBSP of hot water. Now add the dry mix and fold in gently. If there are any dry streaks of flour, add 1 tsp of how water at a time and get a flowing batter (it would be slightly thick)
Pour into prepared muffin moulds with liners and bake at 180 C for 15-20 mins (mine were done at 18 mins). Cool a bit. 

While the cupcakes bake, prepare the frosting. Melt the chocochips and chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave. Once slightly melted, add in the milk and icing sugar, take off heat and mix gently to a thick ganache / frosting (spoonable) consistency

Spoon the ganache while still warm over the slightly cooled cupcakes over a wire rack (lick the rest of the ganache / frosting that drips down :p), top with chocolate sprinkles.

Set for 5 mins in the fridge and see them disappear :)

Sending to my own event Kids Delight - Chocolate Dishes and BM 74 

March 3, 2017

Vegan Chilli Chocolate Mousse | Easy Desserts

This was an absolute treat and surprise that my elder one put together all by herself. I am mighty proud that she has a foodie gene in her, but she truly outdid herself here - this was a welcome treat once me and the husband returned from a luncheon one afternoon. Even the styling & clicks are by her :-)

Its vegan, its chocolatey, its delicious and its got some heat ! what’s more - its got LOADS of love !! thank you my dear girl - may you shine like a star always :)

So, lets see what all went to this absolutely decadent dessert thats sure to be a party hit in you house too :)

Prep time: 10 mins ; no cook ; chilling time : 15-30 mins ; serves : 2 

  • Dark chocolate - she used cocoa bars
  • Ripe banana - 2 medium
  • sugar - 2 TBSP
  • cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Red chilli powder-  a pinch (spicy variety)
  • Ginger - 1/4 inch
  • Ice Cubes - few
  • vegan Choco chips & Nuts - to top 
method (as she made it) ...
  • Blend banana,ginger ,ice cubes, and dark chocolate to a super creamy texture. Now add the sugar and mix well. Add half of the chilli powder and mix well.
  • Chill & Set for 30 mins.
  • Top with rest of chilli powder, cinnamon powder, nuts and choco chips

Sending to my own event Kids Delight - Chocolate Dishes and BM 74 

February 25, 2017

My mom's Gajar Halwa | Festival Recipes

One of my earliest memories of high school is mom making copious quantities of Gajar Halwa & Vangibhath whenever my friends came home for lunch or brunch or supper during winters. We would all sit in one large circle and gobble up the goodies even before mom could lay the dinner table. That kind of carefree days may be almost over , but those memories linger on.

This is one of the dishes that mom taught me to make from scratch & while growing up, the Delhi carrots (red variety) was a treasure to be saved for the choicest of halwas (in fact I remember using the regular orange carrots only for this halwa), but after moving cities, I do have access to these red carrots during 3-4 weeks of winter. My elder kid particularly likes this and eats it with relish whenever prepared.

So, winter (or spring), make it anytime it fancies you. There is a pressure cooker method which also yields great results. But for now, I am making it the traditional way using a pan. And this method does NOT require any ghee. Gaajar Halwa without ghee ?? Read on to find what substitute works in place of ghee to make this a decadent dessert for Holi, Diwali or pretty much most Indian festivals.

Similar halwas you may check on the blog:

Prep time : 20 mins ; Cooking time : 20 mins ; serves : 4

What you need:

  • Delhi carrots / Red juicy n fresh carrots - 700 gms
  • Mawa / Unsweetned Khoya - 200 gms
  • Powdered sugar - 200 gms (adjust to taste, for us this worked well - measure after powdering)
  • Elaichi / cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Vanilla essence - few drops (totally optional, but we love this :D)


  1. Wash, lightly peel (or just scrub well), grate the carrots.
  2. In a non stick pan, add the carrots, saute well on a very low flame till they slightly become mushy (about 4-8 mins)
  3. Now add the powdered sugar, mix well (Tip : I add only 2/3 of the sugar first, taste it after 5 mins and then add the rest if needed, we like our desserts to be mildly sweet, so do a taste test if required and add in parts).
  4. Add grated mawa in parts and slowly keep stirring - only on low flame - till the mawa begins to melt. (dont add the mawa in chunks, it might burn - grate or crumble it finely before adding) 
  5. After adding the final portion of the mawa, dont leave the pan unattended. 
  6. Keep stirring till the halwa starts to leave the sides of the pan
  7. now add the cardamom powder and keep stirring again for 3 more mins till the volume is considerably shrunk to 1/3 or 1/4 the original volume
  8. Switch off the flame, add in vanilla essence if using. 
  9. Serve warm or hot. Tastes best if rested for 2 hours before serving (I usually make it overnight and serve it the next day, warming it slightly)

Sending this to BM 73 under Holi / valentine day treats.

February 24, 2017

How to make Nutty Homemade Chocolates - easy #Valentines Day Treat

Nutty homemade chocolates..

Valentine's Day was just around the corner ; however there's always an excuse to indulge in some sweet or mithai isn't it ? Today's is a perfect gift for my own little Valentines - my two little girls (well they are no more little but the worried mommy in me says they'll fly away before it's long ), so here am savouring all my moments with them .. 

One of them were these cute nut filled home made chocolates that I had made earlier. When my cousin posted here earlier this week on her blog , it triggered a search that like her I also have fond memories of munching on fruit n nut chocolates from Cadbury's while growing up..

Altho the elder one is now super fussy about eating only dark chocolate, the younger one didn't mind eating her sister's share too - she gobbled it up even before I had decent pictures :

Well, no issues. If they are MY valentines, they have all the right to do so :) needless to say, these make perfect gifting too ( as is the rage now for homemade chocolates with fillings ranging from caramel to mint to Cointreau) ! Make a batch and watch them disappear !

Sending to my own event Kids Delight - Chocolate Dishes and BM 73 under Holi / valentine day treats.

Prep time - 10 mins ; cook time - 5 mins ; setting time - 15 mins

You would need:
  • Good quality cooking chocolate - I used Trader Joe's semi sweet chocolate chips mixed - 1/2 cup
  • Roasted almonds - a handful / chopped to raisin sized pieces 
  • Butter - 1/2 tsp (optional)
  1. Melt chocolate chunks in a double boiler or zap in microwave
  2. When fully melted , take it off the flame and quickly mix in the butter and chopped roasted nuts.
  3. While it's still warm, quickly spoon into silicon or plastic moulds
  4. With the palette, smoothen the edges off any extra chocolate or wipe off any excess chocolate with a tissue paper to get clean designs 
  5. Give the mould a firm tap on the kitchen counter to remove any air bubbles.
  6. Set in the freezer for 10-15 mins ; unmould , serve
  7. If wrapping these, use hand gloves to give chocolates minimal heat , wrap them in two layers of butter paper and festive paper reactively ! Freeze till use

Enjoy the quick chocolatey treat :))

February 16, 2017

New event : Kids Delight - Chocolate dishes theme

Valentine's Day just whizzed past us - If you are a chocoholic bet you would have enjoyed the date :-) 

So, why not link up more love with chocolate based dishes... 

Simple, creative, elegant,delicious  - chocolate fits into more than these categories. 

No rules - Its simple as A,B,C. 

If you have an eggless chocolate dish, simply use the link tool to link your dishes (make sure your entries are linked to this event announcement with Valli's event announcement (whose event I am guest hosting - thanks Valli :D ) 

Although I prefer fresh entries, archived entries updated+ the logo are also accepted - make sure archived entries are appended with the details above to qualify.

Ensure both old and new entries are linked back to Valli's event and this event to qualify as an entry :)

Look forward to your love, and your entries..



February 5, 2017

Palli Perugu Pachadi - Andhra Style Peanut Curd Chutney

This chutney is on my chutney rotation for Idli / Dosa / Pongal. Comes from my friend's mom who's from Warangal part of Andhra Pradesh. It may not be a popular dish in Andhra cuisine at restaurants, but considering I tasted this first at her place many decades ago (and a zillion times since then) , I have begun to believe its an Andhra type dish. Lets get to the lip smacking recipe now :) 

Palli in Telugu means peanuts. Perugu = curd ; pachadi - refers to chutney or a dip 

Prep time : 10 mins |  Cook time : 5 mins | Makes : 1 large cup (250 ml) of Chutney | 
Spice level - medium 
Keeps for max 1 day under refrigeration

Check out more than 20+ varieties of Chutneys here


  • Roasted unsalted peanuts (without skin) - 1 cup (200 ml)
  • Onion - 1 large - minced fine or sliced thin.
  • Garlic pods - 2 nos
  • Red chillies - 2 
  • Green chilly - 1 no
  • thick slightly sweet Curd - 1/2 cup (100 ml)
  • Oil - 1/2 TBSP
  • Salt - to taste


  • Oil - 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
  • Hing / Asafeotida - a largish pinch (skip for GF version)

How to make:

  1. If you dont have ready roasted peanuts, roast the peanuts with their skin on on low - medium flame till they slightly brown and the skin begins to peel off. Transfer to a large plate, cool and rub the peanuts against a coarse towel to peel the skin off. 
  2. If you have ready shelled roasted & unsalted peanuts, skip the above step. 
  3. In a pan, add oil, saute the onion, garlic till pink. Now add the chillies and saute. Cool.
  4. Blend all ingredients (peanuts & onion - garlic-  chilly mixture) except curd into a smooth semi dry powder. Add water (2 TBSP) and blend to a smooth paste. Now add the curd and churn just once.(I prefer adding the whisked curd to the ground peanut chutney Once the chutney is transferred from the blender). 
  5. Mix well. Prepare tempering with oil, mustard seeds, hing and Urad dal. 
  6. Add to the chutney and serve with any South Indian Breakfast. It keeps for max 1 day under refrigeration 

Sending this to BM 73 - "flavours of India" theme

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