February 28, 2011

Rava Pongal (Semolina Pongal) with Gothsu / Gojju

About 4 years ago, while travelling from Madurai to Coimbatore on work, my car stopped at a shack-like eatery somewhere midway between these two cities at about 6am in the morning. I must confess that the Pongal I ate there was like nothing I have ever tasted till date, or will perhaps never. Gooey soft and steaming Pongal with green chilly-coconut chutney on a freshly cut banana leaf (mind you , no stainless steel plate even!) was out of this world !! I dont know which village this was at, but I would give anything to (re)learn how to make that Pongal :-)

Yes, Pongal also means a breakfast dish (the namesake also referring to a South Indian festival) and is usually mis-named "South Indian khichdi" ! I quite take an objection to that because although Khichdi is usually made of the same main ingredients as Pongal (Dal -Rice), it also contains veggies, which the traditional Pongal doesnt have.

Pongal has been a stronghold of Tamilnadu cuisine, although its poorer cousins have been tried and tested in Karnataka as Huggi. I remember at an eatery near Mayo Hall in Bangalore, it served huggi (or what was called Pongal) with Onion-Cucumber Raitha :) In fact, Pongal-vadai combo I am told is a mandatory item at any Chennai wedding these days. It goes well with both Onion kuzhambu (also called gothsu) and / or Coconut chutney.

While on the quest for 'coconut free' and low-carb recipes, I decided to make Rava Pongal, substituting Rava for rice and the rest of the ingredients as it is.

Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Serves : 3


a) For Pongal:
  • Rava / Soji - 2 cups
  • Moong Dal / Split green gram - 1 cup
  • Ginger - grated - 1 tbsp
  • Ghee - 3 tbsp
  • Jeera & pepper - 1 tsp each (coarsely powdered)
  • Asafoetida - 3/4 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Curry leaves - few
  • Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Optional garnish: Cashewnuts
b) for Onion Gothsu / Onion gojju:

  • Shallots - 100 gms
  • Tamarind extract - 2 cups
  • Rasam Powder - 1 tbsp
  • Jaggery - 1/2 lemon sized
  • Salt to taste
  • Turmeric- 1/2 tsp
  • For tempering: Oil-  1 tsp, Mustard seeds + curry leaves


(A) For Pongal

1) In a dry pan / handi pot, slightly roast rava . Transfer to a bowl.
2) Now add 1/2 tbsp oil and fry moong dal till golden brown.
3) Boil Moong dal in 3 cups of boiling water till 3/4 done. Ensure its not mashed up . Drain the dal and retain the water.
(You may also pressure cook for two whistles)
4) In a pan, heat ghee. Add the grated ginger, coarse powder mixture of Jeera-Pepper, hing, curry leaves, rava and the water from the dal. Cover and cook till Rava is cooked. 
5) Now add the boiled moong dal, adjust salt and cook covered till the moong dal and Rava incorporate into each other. Stir occasionally if you are not using a non stick utensil as it may stick to the bottom / burn slightly. Cook covered till done.
6) Garnish with Cashewnuts and 1 tbsp of ghee and serve with Gothsu (recipe below)

(B) For Gothsu / Gojju:
1) Heat a pan, add oil. Splutter mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add turmeric, hing (optional) and the onion shallots and stir.
2) Add 1 cup of water and cook covered till shallots are cooked till 90%.
3) Now add the tamarind extract, salt, rasam powder and jaggery. Let it boil for 5 - 6 mins.
4) If you need to thicken this, add a paste of 1 tsp Rice flour mixed with 1/2 tsp of water.
5) Serve hot with Pongal.

a) You may use chopped brinjal / ladys finger instead of onions for a satvic version of gothsu.
b) You can use Red chilli powder if you run out of Rasam Powder for the Gothsu.


February 27, 2011

Mumbai Pav Bhaji Recipe | How to make Mumbai Pav Bhaji | Pav Bhaji Recipe

Pav Bhaji needs no introduction, nor any special reason to eat them too :) The undisputed king of street food in India, Mumbai's Pav Bhaji seems to have made headlines in global cuisine. Essentially spicy veg gravy with bread, this finger-licking food turns exotic with each spoonful of butter added to make it hearty & heady. 

Now I hate to do this, but the best ever Pav Bhaji to my committed memory from the Sukh Sagar in Jayangar 4th block (much before it was renovated).. My mom and sis used to say that I always felt hungry just passing by that restaurant.. 

In fact, it was the Holy Grail of our family when Dad, mom sis & me used to visit Sukh Sagar every 10th of the month just after my parents' pay packet was full, and I fondly remember this ritual ran for almost a decade and a half with eager eyes and hungry tummies for Pav Bhaji, Ragda Patties (another favourite), Special Bhel (sprinkled Cream Custard with Fruit Salad-Ice Cream !! Amen :) to have those days once again! 

Especially in today's lockdown kind of scenario where even stepping out is risky, its better we bring the street food to our homes by making everything from scratch. Quite a task, especally the clean up later but totally worth the effort, dont you agree ?

Today's Pav Bhaji was more on-the-spot decision stuff. I had all the ingredients with me. I had about 40 minutes to log into a music based webinar and this seemed the best option to eat and then fill one's senses with the music later :-) I would have loved to bake the pepper pav buns, but sadly my oven is insistent on not working ! 

For the food aficionados, I have also included a link here on the street way of making Mumbai Pav Bhaji.. Its quite a treat watching them make it, as much as eating it too, with dollops of butter floating and adding to your waistline. Mine today however, is a low cal version (ok relatively speaking!). Other Pav Bhaji versions I have on the blog are -  Low Fat Pav Bhaji (guess the secret ingredient), Paneer Pav Bhaji


More Chaats / Street food from India on the blog:

Ghugni (Kolkata style White peas chaat)
Bangalore's famous Masala Puri Chaat (check out the video recipe here)
Kutchi Dabeli
Gujrati Amiri Khaman
Fruit Kulfi
Bangalore's famous Tomato slice Chaat
Delhi's Tikki Chole Chaat

Preparation Time: 20 mins. Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves : 4


  • Mixed boiled & diced vegetables - 3 cups
  • Onions sliced - 3
  • Capsicum diced - 1 large
  • Tomatoes - 5 large
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tbsp
  • Ginger Garlic paste - 1/2 tbsp
  • Pav Bhaji Masala - 3 tbsp (I used Everest brand)
  • Kashmiri Chilli Powder - 2 TBSP
  • Salt - to taste
  • Oil - 3 tbsp
To serve:
  • Pav Buns - 2 laadis (about 12 pieces)
  • Nutralite / Light fat butter - few TBSP (can sub with vegan choices of nut butters)
  • For garnish : Green coriander, lime wedges and Chopped onions

1) Wash, cut and boil the vegetables (I used carrots, beans, peas, potatoes & cauliflower) till al dente. You may also microwave the vegetables for 8-9 minutes till 70% cooked. Drain and retain the water (about 3/4 cup is adequate)
2) In a skillet / shallow pan, add oil. When hot, add ginger garlic paste and fry well. Now add chopped capsicum. Also add a paste made out of blanched tomatoes and onions and stir well till the raw smell disappears.
3) When this paste turn translucent, add turmeric, Kashmiri Chilli powder, pav bhaji masala, salt and the water from the boiled vegetables and simmer for 5 - 6 minutes.
4) When the capsicum turns tender, add the boiled & mashed veggies and stir once more.
5) Check for salt / extra pav bhaji masala if required.
6) In a tava, layer the butter-smeared Pav Buns and toast till slightly crisp
7) To serve, arrange two buns on a plate. Serve Bhaji on the side garnished with green Coriander and lime wedges.

a) To make your Pav Bhaji more healthy, add sprouted moong / green gram as well
b) Street food Pav bhaji is tasty as it is heavy on butter . However, If you are keen, you may also substitute the above mentioned butter with just a film of oil and grill them slightly in a batch.
c) If you are planning to serve Pav Bhaji for a party, you may make the Bhaji in advance and refrigerate to be thawed with a serving of butter.

Updating this post with new pictures and text as part of Foodies_RedoingOld Post series where we revisit old posts with new text n pics. 

February 25, 2011

Inji Thogayal (Ginger Chutney)

Thogayal or Thuvayal is one distinguishable feature of South Indian cooking, more specific to Tamilnadu region. It differs from other chutneys not only in nomenclature, but also in ingredients : Although thogayal is largely coconut based, the addition of tamarind and, in some cases, dry methi seeds gives this a distinctive flavour. Also, dry red chillies are favoured additions instead of green chillies in most 'traditional cookery' homes even today for Thogayal. Most Thogayals are  vegetable based too, and I reckon it must have been one way the smart homemaker recycled the vegetable peels / other parts of the plant body, of which vegetarians largely based their recipes around.

There are many popular Thogayals viz., Inji Thogayal, Peerkangai Thogayal (ridge gourd based), Chow Chow Thogayal (made of Chow Chow - another creeper veggie), Pudina Thogayal (mint leaf based). I must however mention that Tamilnadu's Inji Thogayal is slightly different from Allam Pachadi of Andhra  Pradesh. Eaten mixed with hot rice and / or ghee at the beginning of a South Indian meal, these Thogayals differ from the North Indian Chutneys like Khatta Meetha chutney or even the Theeka Pudina Chutney etc as coconut and dals form an important ingredient in the South Indian Thogayal.

"S" loves this Thogayal mixed with hot rice and sesame oil (nallennai) and so does my daughter too and therefore, this dish features atleast once a week in my family's menu :)

Sending this to Srav's Roti-Pachadi event
Preparation Time : 15 minutes ; Cooking Time :Nil

Serves : 3


  • Ginger 2 inch length (washed and peeled) - cut into flakes.
  • Channa Dal - 2 tbsp
  • Hing / Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp
  • Dry red chillies - 2
  • Jaggery - 1/2 lemon sized
  • Grated Coconut - 2 tbsp
  • Tamarind - 1 lemon sized quantity
  • Salt to taste
  • For tempering: Oil - 1 tsp, Mustard seeds, Curry leaves.

1) In a skillet, heat 1/2 tsp oil. Add channa Dal, red chillies, tamarind, ginger. Fry till channa dal turns golden brown. Cool.
2) Grind together the above dal mixture with coconut, jaggery, salt and very little water. Thogayals are not runny like the normal chutneys as they are eaten with rice.
3) For the tempering: In a skillet, add the remaining 1/2 tsp of oil, splutter mustard , hing and curry leaves. Garnish the Thogayal.


1) You may use any leftover Thogayal as a spread on bread slices for a yummy sandwich with or without veggies. You may also add this leftover Thogayal to curd for a quick raitha. Remember to adjust salt carefully.
2) For all Thogayals, grind the ingredients first without water into a dry coarse powder, and only then add enough water just to moisten it lightly.


February 22, 2011

Set Dosa

Set Dosa is my all time favourite. The erstwhile 'Pavithra' restaurant in Bangalore's Jayanagar 4th block served, to my knowledge, the best ever Set Dosa. Almost bereft of oil, this silky soft Dosa was a constant treat option for the college goers around that area, and we were willing participants, come day or night ! 

Set Dosa generally refers to a set of two soft round dosas served with coconut chutney and Mixed Vegetable Sagu (veggies in spicy gravy). I don't know if they still do, but the memories of this Set Dosa is what I tried to create today.  In fact, at another restaurant called "Chutneys" in Hyderabad, a similar dosa called "Chiranjeevi Dosa" (named after the Telugu superhero) is also brilliant !

I looked around many blogs, and found one that had a resemblance to what I would like to make and eat. I have slightly modified the ingredients and made this Set Dosa today. I made this dosa today with chutney. Recipe for Vegetable sagu (that's served in Bangalore with Puri / Chapati / Dosa) is here

Preparation : 3 hours (soaking), 12 - 14 hours (fermentation)
Makes ~30 dosas (for a family of 4)

  • Idli Rice - 2 cups
  • Urad Dal - 1 cup
  • Poha / Aval / Beaten Rice - 1/4 cup
  • Sago - 1/4 cup
  • Methi / fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
  • Channa Dal - 2 tsp
  • Salt to taste

1) Soak rice + methi in one vessel. Soak Urad dal + sago + poha + channa dal in another vessel for 3 - 4 hours.
2) Grind well and add salt to taste. Let the batter ferment for atleast 12 - 14 hours, preferably overnight.
3) Heat a tava / skillet. When hot. drizzle 1 tsp of oil and rub with half an onion (this prevents the batter from sticking to the tava) and pour one ladle of batter. Do not spread like the normal dosa.  Put 1/4 teaspoon oil around the dosa.
4) Cover and cook on one side. Once done, flip to the other side and cook.
5) Serve hot with chutney and / or kurma.


1) You may skip adding sago / sabudana and increase the poha quantity by 1/4 cup.
2) If the batter is well fermented, you may make this completely oilfree.
3) Before you flip the dosa on to the other side, see the slightly big holes (in the pic) that the dosa will have to ensure thorough cooking.

This is an updated post for #Foodies_RedoingOldPost_7 series where we rehash and / or update old posts with edited pics / new pics or new text. 


February 20, 2011

Chilly Potato Stir fry

Potato - the all time comfort food : Wafers,french fries,patties, Batata wada, Burger, Pav Bhaji -all of these popular Indian dishes contain Potato as the major ingredient. The potato originated in the region of southern Peru. Potatoes were first introduced outside the Andes region four centuries ago, and have become an integral part of much of the world's cuisine. It is the world's fourth-largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize.

Following the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire, the Spanish introduced the potato to Europe in the second half of the 16th century. The staple was subsequently conveyed by European mariners to territories and ports throughout the world. The potato was slow to be adopted by distrustful European farmers, but soon enough it became an important food staple and field crop that played a major role in the European 19th century population boom. The annual diet of an average global citizen in the first decade of the 21st century included about 33 kg (73 lb) of potato. However, the local importance of potato is extremely variable and rapidly changing. Not surprisingly, I read somewhere that Indian cooking has some 1000+ dishes that use Potatoes. In terms of nutrition, the potato is best known for its carbohydrate content (approximately 26 grams in a medium potato). The predominant form of this carbohydrate is starch.

Now back to today's dish - Chilly Potato Stir fry. I had a bag of red Bhavnagari chillies lying in my refrigerator and I thought I would use them for the stir fry instead of the usual chilly powder or even using green chillies. This dish is quick to make and can be made in under 20 mins and uses very little oil.

Sending this to Charitha's "C for Colourful Curry's event"

Preparation : 10 mins. Cooking : 10 mins
Serves : 4


  • Potatoes - 1/2 kg
  • Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds  - 1 tsp
  • Jeera / Cumin - 1 tsp
  • Sliced Red chillies - 4 or 5
  • Curry leaves - few
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Lemon juice - 1 tsp (optional)


  1. In a microwave, boil diced potatoes in 10 minutes in slightly salted water till done. Drain.
  2. In a skillet, add oil and splutter curry leaves, mustard and cumin.
  3. Add turmeric and the sliced red chillies. Toss
  4. Now add salt, the boiled potatoes and toss again.
  5. Add a dash of lemon juice, transfer to a serving dish and serve hot.


a) Use the potatoes with the skin on to retain maximum nutrients
b) If you choose, cut the potatoes into french fries like shapes - am sure it would be a great hit with your kids.
c) Bhavnagari chillies are generally low on 'scoville (spice/ heat) scale, and can be also used as an independent curry with stuffed potatoes too :)

February 17, 2011


A dish that is common to Udupi, Kerala and Tamil cuisine. A dish that is believed to have been 'invented' by Bhima while he donned the role of "Ballav the cook" during the exile in the Mahabharata.. and its word also being used to denote an assortment or a mixture—this sense being derived from the way today's blogpost is cooke : Avial - a slightly tangy coconut-gravy-curd mixture filled with veggies and nutrition, and yes, a riot of colours right on ur plate. 

I heard from a friend's mom who once said that the real 'Sadhana' (devotion) we have towards food comes from observing the medley of colours of the dishes that are put on our plate - be it the green colour of okra, the yellow of dal, the red of rasam, the white of curd : Wonder how many of us do that even once a month / year , let alone on an everyday basis. This is a great side dish to plain Steamed rice or even Adai Dosa (Lentil Savoury Pancakes)

Now, that's truly food for thought..

Back to today's Avial.  My family loves this loaded with veggies, therefore used 3 cups of chopped vegetables. You may increase or decrease the quantity and adjust the masala gravy accordingly.

Preparation time: 15 - 30 mins, Cooking time: 20 mins, Serves : 4

  • Mixed Vegetables - Cut into 2 inch long batons {Commonly used veggies are: Drumsticks, Raw banana, arbi (Colocasia), White pumpkin,  Yellow Pumpkin , Carrots, French beans, flat beans etc } - 3 cups
  • Slightly sour thick curd - 2 cups
  • Salt to taste
For the masala: 
  • Freshly grated coconut - 3 tbsp
  • Jeera (Cumin seeds) - 1 tbsp
  • Ginger - 1 inch piece
  • Black Pepper - 4 or 5(optional)
  • Dry Red chilly - 2
  • Green chilly - 2
  • Turmeric - 1/2 tbsp
  • Green Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp
For the tempering: 
  • Oil - 1 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves - few
  • Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp

1) Wash, peel and chop all veggies and boil them in water with a pinch of salt till 85% done. Drain and rest.
2) Grind all the masala ingredients into a smooth paste .
3) Beat curd well and add the masala paste and make into a smooth flowing gravy.
4) in a skillet, make the tempering, add the veggies, salt and add the masala curd paste. Simmer on a slow flame for about 3 - 4 mins, not more.
5) Serve hot with steamed rice and roasted papad.


Avial served with Adai 


  • If the gravy turns too watery, mix some 2 tsp of rice flour in 1 tbsp of water, and add this to the gravy. In fact, many households grind 1 tbsp of soaked rice in the masala paste itself, thereby adding an invisible thickening agent.
  • If the curd is not sour enough, and you need some tang, add 1/4 lemon sized tamarind to the masala paste.
  • Make sure you drain the water from the boiled veggies, else you will end up with a very watery gravy which will dilute the masala and the curd mixture will lose its texture.
Updating this post for Foodies_Redoing Old Posts#22 where we revisit / revamp old posts with new pics / recipe updates etc. 

February 15, 2011

ZERO OIL Nuchina Unde Recipe | How to make Nuchinunde | Steamed Savoury Lentil Cake | GF, V

Zero Oil and high protein snacks are abundant in South Indian Cuisine although pakoras, bhajia (gram flour dipped veggie fritters ) had taken centre stage for many years. Now, with the fad of health foods, gluten free, vegan, healthy foods and Omega 3 enveloping our universe, homemakers have to re-jig their recipes and come out with flavourful, appealing, steamed snacks to appease the afternoon / evening snack time.

Although one must admit dhoklaskhandvis and the like have been part of Gujarati cuisine and are now appearing in menus across India thanks to cross cultural alliances and job-hopping households, Samosas, Kachoris and the like have been more popular even in the Southern states. 

I fondly remember how the famous Samosa  of Vijaya Bakery in Bangalore’s Jayanagar 4th block shopping complex was my favourite companion on my numerous trips there, and the potato-dill filling was out of this world !

Back to today’s snack: Steamed Dal Cake or Nuchinunde ! This is a savoury  & very easy to make, and requires just under 1 tbsp of oil, or no oil at all if you so please. The name Nuchinunde in Kannada has two parts - Nuchchu (which means broken, here it refer to broken lentils), and Unde (means ball- which is also oblong in shape). 

The only preparation required is soaking the Lentil 2 hours prior to making this snack. This is a traditional dish of Karnataka cuisine and typically served with Majjige huli (Karnataka style Kadhi or veggies in spiced yoghurt gravy). 

I had made this recently for Varamahalakshmi festival, so we had a mini feast that day with Puliogarai, Semiya Payasam (Vermicelli Kheer), Majjigehuli and this Nuchinunde.

Other Oil-free (or low oil) steamed snacks on the blog include:

Preparation Time: 2 hours (soaking time); Cooking time : 20 minutes; Serves : 3


Main Ingredients:

(Here 1 cup = 200 ml)

Toor Dal – 1 cup

Freshly grated Coconut - 1/2 cup

Ginger - 1/2 tsp (opt.)

Salt -to taste

Turmeric - a dash

Red chillies - 4 (You can also use green chillies, but we prefer red chillies) 

Chopped coriander - 2 tsp

Finely Chopped curry leaves - 1 tsp

Optional Add-ons: (I didn’t add either)

Chopped  fresh dill leaves 

Finely minced onion

For garnish:

Curry leaves & Coriander – chopped

Freshly grated coconut-1 tsp


Soak the dal with the chillies for about 2 hours. After 2 Horus, grind this with the ginger (without adding any additional water) to a coarse mixture. 

Heat an idli cooker / steamer with adequate water to come to a rolling boil. Grease the idli moulds / flat tray to place the roundels. 

Add the other ingredients and mix well. With slightly greased palms, make small portions of this this into oblong / oval roundels. Place these int he greased idli moulds / greased plates

Finish for all the batter. Steam for 18-20 mins. Insert a tooth pick at the end of 20 mins to see if it comes out clean. 

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and more freshly grated coconut

Serve with any chutney or Majjigehuli (the ideal combo recommended for Nuchinunde) 

Updating this post as part of #Foodies_RedoingOldPost Group where we revisit old posts with new pictures and text. 

February 13, 2011

Tutti fruity Chocolate Cake

Cakes require no introduction to a food blog, nor an excuse to bake and eat them. Of course, there are different types of cakes – tea cakes, cup cakes, 3 -tiered , frosted cakes, wedding cakes … the list just seems to go on..
Well, it was a Saturday, and the urge to bake something was getting stronger by the hour ! So, I tweaked a recipe , and added chocolate and cocoa to make Eggless Tutti fruity Chocolate Cake. As mine was an eggless version, I substituted eggs with a little more oil and added condensed milk from the original recipe. I also used 1 cup of Whole wheat  flour instead of refined / All Purpose Flour (APF) and got this amazingly moist cake, which actually didn’t require frosting ! But my daughter wouldn’t touch any cake without it, so made up this frosting more on-the-spot types, and did it work !!
Preparation Time:  10 minutes; Cooking time :35 minutes                 
·         APF – 1 cup
·         Whole wheat atta / wheat flour – 1 cup
·         Baking Soda – ½ tsp
·         Baking Powder  - 2 tsp
·         Powdered Sugar – 1 ½ cups
·         Cooking Oil / Melted butter – 1/3 cup
·         Condensed Milk – ½ tin
·         Tutti fruity (Candied fruit) – ½ cup
·         Milk – ¾ cup
·         Pineapple essence – ½ tsp
·         For Frosting (optional)
o   Whipped cream – ¼ cup
o   Butter – 2 tbsp
o   Cocoa Powder  - 1 tbsp
o   Drinking Chocolate powder – 1 tsp
o   Tutti frutti – for decoration (can use cherries as well)
1)      Grease &  flour cake pan  / loaf tin
2)      Preheat Oven to 180 Deg C
3)      In a big mixing bowl, sieve flours, baking soda, baking powder. To this, add candied fruit / tutti fruity. Mix well.
4)      Cream powdered sugar with butter / oil. To this add essence and mix well.
5)      To the above mixture, add half of the flour mixture, then add milk, then remaining flour mixture. Fold. Do not over mix. Now add condensed milk and fold once more. 
6)      Pour this batter into tin, and bake for 30 – 35 minutes till toothpick comes out clean
7)      Stand on a wire rack till cool. Cut into slices and serve as it is or with frosting.
For frosting:
1)      In a bowl, beat butter and chocolate and cocoa powder. Add 1 tsp of oil / butter if required to get a pouring consistency. Now add half of the whipped cream. Mix well.
2)      Smear this cocoa-cream topping on the cake.  Decorate with remaining whipped cream and  decorate with tutti frutti.
3)      Now cut into slices and serve.


                                                              One more pic

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