January 31, 2013

Magic Mingle Challenge # 14

The Magic Mingle (MM) Challenge for February 2013 is here. The past 13 challenges have been interesting and exciting, and am sure the MM members are also keen to know this month's ingredients. Well, as this is V2.0 of MM, the challenge notch is a lil higher:-) And so, the ingredients although well within the reach of any homemaker get more exciting and challenging. Which is exactly what this month's challenge does - with...

Urad Dal & Lemon

Urad dal can be used in whole / split / flour form. Lemon rinds / juice / candied peel can be used. However these are not garnish but must feature as the main ingredient. Quite an eclectic combo on the face of it. I quite myself dont know how these ingredients would need to  combined, but very excitedto see how the co-minglers fare ..

As usual, a snapshot of the rules:
(a) Use of Logo is mandatory, and so is visiting the MM posts and leaving a comment. 
(b) Once the post is up, do link it to the linky tool below.
(c) This event is open only to MM members from 1st-15th Feb 2013. If you are keen to join us, drop  me a line at momchef77@gmail.com.
(d) Only vegetarian and eggless entries allowed
(e) The entries can be across cuisine and region and any number of entries from MMers are welcome !

So, get set go. MMers, lets rock :-) 


January 28, 2013

Celebrating 2nd Blog Anniversary with a Giveaway and Carrot Kheer

Birthdays are grand reasons to celebrate. And a great moment to sit, pause and thank as each year passes by and new hopes, new beginnings unfurl each birthday. And so this day,2 years ago Sizzling Tastebuds was born. 400+ posts & 5 Lakh Page views in 2 years - these are not merely numbers, but humbles me to thank you all for the support and envision the road ahead...Happy birthday bloggie J

Its taken several avatars in its design / layout, but the core premise remains the same : simple, healthy, home cooked food that chronicles Healthy food, Traditional recipes, festival brunches - all of which are high on love and low on fat – a food feast that travels from my hearth to your eyes... Thank you, dear readers for your support through your encouraging comments and tags on Magic Mingle and other events. Appreciate your support.

A big thanks is also in order for my family. With the recent addition of our second daughter, life has indeed turned topsy turvy but more beautiful And my family’s support during these trying times has been invaluable ! 

Birthdays are celebrations, and what better way than to celebrate with sweets. As with the 1st blogavarsary where Eggless Chocolate Cake was served or the Rasmalai on completion of 200 posts, the warmth of this yummy delicious Carrot Kheer is sure to win many hearts this 2nd blog anniversary, and it surely is a winner in my family ... Taking full advantage of the Delhi Carrots (or Gajar as it is known in Hindi) available right now, this sinfully rich pudding (or Kheer) is a treat – and let’s just forget about counting the calories today, shall we?

And what’s more as a token of thanks for being there and supporting me, there’s a giveaway too. Check out the details at the end of this post. 

Before that a quick sneak peek on how Carrot Kheer is made at my place (yes there are scores of versions out there, and this is one of the ways I make it). Yes, it does call for a little slaving and flexing your muscles what with grating the carrots & simmering with continuous stirring, but the result is so creamy and worth it :)

Kheer as an Indian dessert is usually served at the end of a meal. Also known by the names of Payasam or Payesh, most kheers are milk based. Today's Carrot Kheer is a creamy concoction of milk,carrots & almonds and this delectable kheer got over in a jiffy while we enjoyed it as a post dinner dessert.

Prep time – 20 mins | Cook time – 15 mins | Serves – 4
Keeps for upto 4 days under refrigeration | Serve warm or cold
  • Carrots - 700 gms ( I used a combo of Gaajar (red variety) and orange coloured carrots)
  • Milk - 500 ml (you may use low fat if you want a lighter version)
  • Sugar - 3/4 cup (or more depending on how sweet you want)
  • Soaked almonds - 2 handfuls
  • Condensed milk - 1/4 cup (optional - I didnt use this fully as the carrots itself was sweet)
  • Elaichi / Cardamom - 1 pod
  • Vanilla essence - 1 or 2 drops (optional but recommended)
  • Saffron strands / kesar - a generous pinch
  • Garnish – blanched and finely chopped pistachio and almonds

Soak the almonds in warm water for 20 mins. De-skin and retain.
Wash, peel and grate the carrots . Use a cheese grater to get finer strands (yes, I know its laborious but the result is great)
Pressure cook grated carrots with 3/4 of the milk in a cooker for 4 whistles. Cool
In a pan, heat the remaining milk on simmer with the saffron strands and simmer till the milk reduces to half. You would get a lovely saffrony colour and aroma by now. Powder sugar finely along with the cardamom and add to the milk.
Finely grind the almonds with a little milk to a fine paste. Add to the milk.
Pulse the cooked carrots fully or to a bite (like we did). Add the pulsed / ground carrot to the boiling milk, and simmer on low flame. Stir continuously and add the condensed milk now when you see the kheer bubbling at the edges and once it thickens fully switch off (this is almost the custard consistency that you should see by now)
Switch off, and tip in the vanilla essence. Mix well. Garnish with chopped nuts
Serve warm or chilled (we loved it chilled!!)

And now to the next excitement of the day – the Giveaway. One Two lucky winners(from India) would receive the wonderfully researched and presented cookbook by Vikas Khanna – the new age chef of India. So, what are you waiting for ? Rush in to claim that cookbook. But before that, a small snapshot of the rules:

Each of the following entries counts as a point. These would be tallied against a total of 100 and two highest winners randomly picked for the giveaway. Only thing is that you need to be a resident of India or be able to provide an Indian Shipping Address. If the winner(s) doesn’t respond within 3 days, I shall choose another set of winner(s).
The giveaway ends Feb 28th 2013

So, lets check out the simple rules:

(a)  Follow me on FB, Twitter, Pinterest (10 points for each follow)
(b)  Subscribe to my posts via RSS Feed (10 points)
(c)  Join me via Google Friend Connect and Networked Blogs (10 points for each)
(d)  Tell me your most favourite blog post and why from this blog and leave the blog post URL as a comment (20 points). Also tell me one dish you would want featured on this blog (30 points).
(e)  Once you have done one or more of the above, leave a comment in the box below saying so.

Thanks once again for your support and encouragement. Look forward to your participation. 

January 26, 2013

Lemon Peanut Sevai | Savoury vermicelli with Lemon and peanut dressing | Easy lunchbox recipes

School Lunchbox for kiddo is a medley of Idli, combo meals, Rotis-Parathas, sandwiches. But sometimes its also quick dishes that can be made in a jiffy, especially on rushed mornings. As she loves tarty dishes, this is a quick Lemony Nutty Sevai (vermicelli) that is prepared with a combo of powdered peanuts & finished with Lemon juice. Can be prepared in 10 mins flat, and doesn’t need any accompaniment except perhaps some potato wafers. 

After the combo meals Palak Theplas-Alu Bhaji, Arisi Paruppu Saadam sent the last two days to Blogging Marathon # 24 under Healthy Lunchbox Ideas, this is another item to that stable.

Savoury Vermicilli with Lemon & Peanut dressing.

Prep time – 10 mins | Cook time – 10 mins | Serves – 2
Difficulty level : Easy | Spice Level : Mild

  • Roasted Vermicelli – 1 cup (or roast the broken raw vermicelli in 1 tsp of ghee/ oil till it turns slightly brown)
  • Oil – 2 TBSP
  • Peanuts – two handfuls
  • Tempering : Mustard seeds, curry leaves, Urad dal (split black gram – 1 tsp)
  • Turmeric – a generous pinch
  • Green chillies – 1 or 2 (optional if made for kids)
  • Onions – 1 (finely minced)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Lemon juice – 1 TBSP

Dry roast the peanuts. Leaving aside a few for garnish, coarsely powder the rest.
Put 3 cups of water to boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, add ½ tsp of oil and a pinch of salt and tip in the roasted vermicelli. Cook for 4 – 6 mins till done (This is the proportion I use to cook the vermicelli – you may follow the instructions on the pack.If using Rice Vermicelli instead of the wheat based ones, the timings may vary).
Either way, boil till cooked, transfer to a colander  / sieve and run cold water over it for 1 min. Using a fork, fluff till it is separate – you don’t want a lumpy mass.
In a non stick pan, heat the rest of the oil.  Splutter the mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves & chillies (if using). Once the dal turns brown, add the minced onions and sauté till they turn pinkish brown, about 2 mins.
Then add turmeric, salt and peanuts. Saute them and add the fluffed vermicelli. Toss for 1-2 mins on low flame. Now add the peanut powder and mix vigorously.
Turn off stove. Finish with coriander leaves, lemon juice.
Serve as it is or with potato wafers J

January 25, 2013

Arisi Paruppu Saadam | Easy Kids Lunchbox recipe

Lunchbox for kiddo is generally her comfort food, and today’s post is the ultimate Comfort food – not only for her, but for me too : Arisi Paruppu Saadam (loosely translated as Meal with Rice with dal mix) which is generally served with any dry curry.In fact, this is one of the first solid meals given to toddlers too, once they enter the second / third year.  

Without much ado, lets get to this easy peasy recipe. Served with a dollop of ghee and some fryums or dry curry, and you have a winner on hand. You may add onions / red chillies / ginger / garlic depending on the preference, but we love it plain with just a tempering of asafoetida, mustard & cumin. Lets see how to make this dish.

Linking it to Day 2 of BM # 24. Check out co-marathoners here

Prep time – 10 mins | Cook time : 20 mins (incl the accompaniment) | Serves : 2
Difficulty level : Very Easy | Spice level : Low
Serve with : Any dry curry of choice and / or fryums / papad

Raw Rice – ½ cup (short grained or basmati)
Toor dal  / split pigeon pea – ¼ cup
Turmeric  - ¼ tsp
Salt – to taste
Tempering – Ghee (1 tsp), Jeera / Cumin (1/2 tsp), Asafoetida (a generous pinch), Mustard seeds
Curry leaves & Coriander – optional
Lemon juice – ½ tsp (optional)

Pick, clean and cook rice in the normal way. Cool a bit and mash while adding a tsp of ghee.
Soak & Cook the dal along with the rice in a separate container. Mash well with the back of a ladle to pouring consistency.
In a deep bottomed pan, add the ghee. Prepare the tempering with mustard seeds, cumin & Asafoetida. Add turmeric and the mashed dal. Let it simmer for 1-2 mins. Add salt and mix
To the mashed rice, add 1-2 ladles of the above dal and mix well till it reaches porridge consistency. Check for salt and spices (if adding any). Top with lemon juice.
Mix once again and pack the lunch box with this yummy Arisi-paruppu saadam and any dry curry. Served here is Carrot-Beans curry

a)    The above mixture tastes wonderful even when its cooled
b)    Addition of lemon juice is optional but recommended to perk it up in a lunch box. Of course, my kiddo loves lemon juice garnish, so add accordingly.
c)    If adding spices like onions, ginger or garlic, sauté them along with the tempering itself, else the raw smell may not be preferred at lunchtime J

January 24, 2013

Palak Thepla - Alu Bhaji | Combo Lunchbox Dish

When Valli announced Lunchbox recipes for this Blogging Marathon, I recalled that most of the times the lunch box gets rejected at school is because the food gets cold or someone else has brought something more attractive. While there is the cafeteria at school, everyday fare there wouldn’t be prudent to health. So, somedays its Paneer Frankies, some days its Coconut Rice or Curd Rice. And Sandwiches which kiddo loves. Of course, Pav Bhaji always comes back finished.

I am sure you have also experienced that the same dish gets eaten at times, and comes back unfinished at some other time - there are somethings that work, some that don’t.
Most of the time I do try giving her a combo meal as far as possible, and that ensures that even if 50% of the combo meal is eaten up, its still not a bad idea. Yes, there is a little bit of prior planning require, but its healthy, relatively oil free and wholesome. (See Preps below)

Today is one such Combo Meal –Palak Theplas & Alu Bhaji (Indian Flat bread with spinach- gramflour & Potato dry curry) accompanied with yoghurt (which I generally sweeten a bit with few crystals of sugar). Let’s get cracking then. This is linked to BM # 24. Also to my event Winter Foods - 30 min Challenge, PJ's hosting Valli's Lunchbox Recipes , Sumee's Healthy Appetite, Vardhini's New U, Nayna's Healthy Breakfasts & finally to Soumya's Mission Breakfast

Prep time – 30 mins | Cook time : 15 mins | Makes – 8 Theplas and 1 cup of Dry curry
Difficulty level : Easy | Spice Level : Mild
Serving suggestions : Tomato Chutney / Plain yoghurt / Pickle


(A) Palak Thepla (Spinach Flat Bread)
Gramflour / Besan – 4 TBSP
Wholewheat Flour – 1 cup
Spinach leaves – ½ cup (washed, sorted and packed tight)
Dry masala powder (1/2 tsp each) : Red chilli powder, Jeera Powder
Salt – to taste
Yoghurt – ½ cup (a little more or less depending on dough)
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Kasuri Methi (Dried fenugreek leaves) – ½ TBSP (optional but recommended)
Oil – to pan fry the Theplas
(B) Alu Bhaji (Potato Dry curry)
Potato – 2 nos (Medium)
Onion – 1 small
Oil – 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds-  ½ tsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Lemon juice – ½ TBSP (adjust to taste)

As this is a lunch box prep, I make the dough and boil the potatoes the previous night. It helps save lot of time in the morning.

To make the dough :  Wash, sort and chop the spinach very fine (Unless your child is very young, do not puree the spinach). In a large bowl or flat plate, sieve together wholewheat flour, salt, gramflour (Besan), Turmeric twice over. Make a well / indentation in the middle. Add the yoghurt and rest of the ingredients including the chopped spinach and make a slightly stiff dough. Add 2 – 4 TBSP water if required. Once the dough comes to hold, add 3 tsp of oil and knead for further 1-2 mins..If not using immediately, refrigerate this dough in an airtight container overnight.

Boil the Potatoes. Store them too in an airtight container overnight.

(A) To make the Theplas:
Pinch out equal portions of the dough. Roll out on a dusted surface like Paratha or Chapatis. Use very little flour for dusting towards the end as the Theplas turn out hard and brittle. Roll into medium thickness – neither too thin or thick. On a hot tava / skillet, place the rolled out Theplas and let light brown spots appear on both sides (fry on medium heat). Once done, drizzle 1 tsp oil on both the sides, cook further for 30 seconds and remove. Repeat till end of dough
(B) To make the Alu Bhaji :
Cube or mash the boiled potatoes. Dice onion finely. In a non stick pan, add oil, splutter cumin. Now fry onions for 3-4 mins till pinkish brown. Add the turmeric, salt and potatoes. Give a quick stir to it. Once mixed, turn off the flame. Finish with lemon juice.
Optional Addons to this stir fry are : Ginger,Curry leaves, Coriander, Chillies and even Garlic.

Pack the Combo Meal along with yoghurt / Sauce / Chutney for a wholesome meal J Bon Appetit, and hope and pray that after all these efforts, the child eats the lunch J J

January 19, 2013

Kadai Methi Matar (Jain style) | Curry with fenugreek and peas, no onion-garlic version

Fenugreek in any form ( fresh leaves / seeds) is a favourite in my family. I wasn’t too fond of this herb till I made the Methi Sprouts Pickle some years ago – a recipe from S’s aunt. The bitterness of the seed had completely disappeared and I keep making batches of these often. It is said that swallowing a cup of water with methi seeds early morning on an empty stomach with seeds soaked overnight brings down cholesterol. Methi leaves are available where I stay throughout the year, and the winters produce the freshest and crunchiest leaves.

And what better way than to combine them with another winter produce – green peas (or snow peas) for this delightful spicy gravy – Kadai Methi Matar (or pan sautéed fenugreek-snow peas gravy) in a Jain version (sans garlic or onion).

Pair it up with fluffy phulkas or any Indian bread and Mili Jhuli Daal (lentil gravy) and you have a wonderful meal to boot. I have made it without onions and tomatoes, however you are feel free to add in. I also added cumin powder and a higher pinch of garam masala to make this a North Indian version. Linking it to BM #24 and also to :

Vardhini's New "U" 2013

Let’s get to the recipe, then J

Prep time – 15 mins | Cooking time – 15 mins
Serves – 3
Spice level – Medium
Difficulty level - Medium

  • Fresh Methi / Fenurgreek leaves – 2 cups (packed)
  • cauliflower florets - a handful
  • Snow peas / fresh green peas – ½ cup
  • Salt – to taste
  • Tomatoes – 1 large
  • Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
  • Oil – 4 TBSP
  • Jeera powder – 1.5 TBSP
  • Garam Masala – 1 TBSP
  • Red chilly powder – ½ tsp
  • Fresh cream – 2 tsp
  • Coriander leaves – for garnish

To grind:
Cloves 1
Cinnamon – ½ tsp
Poppy seeds – ¼ tsp
Red Pumpkin – ¼ cup (cubed)
Shahjeera – ½ tsp
Green chillies-  2 nos (adjust spice)

Blanch peas & cauliflower in slightly salted water. Saute red pumpkin cubes along with 1 tsp oil, chillies, cloves, poppy seeds and keep aside. Clean, wash and chop fenugreek finely.
Grind the red pumpkin along with the rest of the spices (as indicated in the “To Grind” list) to a smooth paste
In a pan, add remaining oil. Splutter cumin seeds, then add the chopped fenugreek leaves. Add turmeric, requisite salt and sauté till the leaves wilt, about 4 – 7 mins.
Now add the ground paste and sauté till the raw smell disappears. Add required water (about ¼ cup) along with the dry masala powders- Red chilly powder, garam masala powder and cumin powder – and mix well.
Add the chopped tomatoes and mix till the tomatoes turn mushy, about 3 mins. Then add the blanched veggies, and check for salt and spice.
Mix well and simmer for further 2 – 3 mins till you get the desired consistency (as you have added poppy seeds, it will thicken with time).
Switch off flame, transfer to a dish and finish with cream and coriander leaves.

January 18, 2013

Capsicum Coconut Curry | Spicy side dish for Roti & Chapati

As soon as I read about this dish in a Kannada magazine I knew I had to make it for the capsicum (bell-pepper) lover in me. Whether it is Vangibhath, Pav Bhaji, Capsicum dry curry or even in fried rice, I love this pepper to bits.. So much so that early in our marriage, when S used to go shopping, he used to bring atleast 1/4 kilo of this pepper to ensure domestic bliss :-) :-) 

This gravy is from the upper Malnad region of Karnataka, made generally by the Havyaka brahmins (a sub sect of Hindus) who use coconut extensively in their cooking. I guess local produce always influences traditional cooking, and this dish is no exception. The only additions I made to this dish is to add onions & garam masala to give it a north Indian twist, and we all loved it a lot... For all those bell pepper lovers out there, this is a very spicy dish that's sure to tickle your palate. I served it with Wholewheat Paneer Kalonji Naan (recipe soon !) and salad n raitha.. Do check out the recipe

Prep time - 10 mins | Cook time - 20 mins | Serves - 3
Difficulty level - Medium
Spice level - hot 
(P.S :its really spicy - so adjust spice according to your palate- Refer Notes below)
Serving suggestions - Any Indian Bread / Naan / Butter Kulcha or even plain steamed rice

Capsicum - 300 gms (or 2 large ones)
Onions - 1 medium finely chopped
Tomatoes - 1 large or 2 medium
Peas - 2 handfuls
Salt - to taste
Garam Masala - 1 TBSP
Red chilli powder (Kashmiri Variety) - 1/2 TBSP
Coriander and lime juice - to garnish

For the gravy masala:
Coconut - 1/2 cup (freshly grated)
Cloves - 2 
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch piece
Red chillies - 2 
Kashmiri Chillies - 3
Coriander seeds - 2 TBSP
Jeera - 1/2 tsp

Stage 1 : Dry roast all the 'to grind' ingredient except coconut one by one on a low flame. Cool and grind with coconut to a smooth paste

Stage 2 : Chop onions, capsicum ; blanch peas in slightly salted water for 10 mins. Drain and keep aside. Saute capsicum in a separate pan in 1 - 2 tsp of oil and keep aside (ensure the bell pepper retains the crunch)

Stage 3 : In a non stick pan, heat oil. Splutter cumin seeds. Add onions and fry for about 4 to 6 mins till they turn pinkish brown, Add salt and the ground masala paste and fry till the raw smell disappears.Now add finely chopped tomatoes and fry further on a low flame for 2 - 3 mins till the tomatoes turn mushy.

Stage 4 : Add the blanched peas, dry masala powders (cumin + garam masala + red chilly). Checkfor salt. Add 1 tsp sugar or jaggery (the original recipe had jaggery too which I used). Once the oil leaves the sides, add the sauteed bell pepper and half the coirander leaves. Simmer on low flame for 2 -3 mins. 
Switch off, transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with remaining coriander and lemon juice and serve warm with rotis or any indian bread.

(a) As the gravy is very spicy (with the above measurements), you may add a dash of cream to tone it down.  But make sure to add in the cream instead of the the lemon juice as it might curdle.
(b) You may use lesser quantity of red chillies and increase the kashmiri chilly count for a richer vibrant coloured gravy. In that case skip the red chilly powder too.

This goes to Blogging Marathon # 24 under "Gravies from different states" and also to:
Vardhini's New "U" 2013

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