Monday, December 10, 2012

Boondi laddu

This needs no introduction. People who are addicted to sweets just like me would definitely be in love with laddus be it boondi laddu, mothi laddu, rava laddu etc., The very thought of laddu makes my mouth water. From our childhood we couldn't even remember how many times have we tasted this sweet, one at a time or even more. But we never got bored of laddu or probably never will. Since this sounded a very tricky thing to make at home, I've always bought it rather than making it at home. I attempted once some time after my wedding, but all I got was only boondi and not laddu. After couple of years, one of my friends shared home made boondi laddu for their wedding day (or birthday?) and I was so impressed by the texture and taste of it and it was no different from the laddu we get in stores. I was also surprised when she told me it doesn't take much time and it's not very tricky to make it at all. She gave me some cheat codes on how to make perfect laddu without failure.
But I didn't get it perfect for the first time, but I got confident that I could make it at home and now if my husband asks me whether we could make laddus for an occasion I would never give a second thought.

Things You'll need:
Besan (chickpea flour) - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Oil - for deep frying
Cashew nuts - 2 tbsp, chopped
Raisins - 1 tbsp
Cardamom powder or Rose essence - 1 tsp
Ghee - 2 tsp

Yield - 20-25 pieces


Mix water to the besan little by little and make a batter of pouring consistency (it should not be very thin or watery). In a heavy bottomed vessel add sugar and water, stir until sugar is melted and bring it to a boil. Let it boil in a medium flame until one thread consistency is reached. (This should take five or six minutes after the syrup comes to a boil. Check by taking little syrup in a spoon and touching the syrup with your index finger and thumb. The syrup should for a single thread when the index finger  and thumb are stuck together and released.). Add the cardamom powder or rose essence to the syrup and switch off the stove.

Using a ladle with holes ("jalli karandi")  pour the besan into medium hot oil, so that the besan forms into small balls (boondi) in the oil. Once the balls are fried and float above, pick them up, shake the excess oil and place the boondis in the hot syrup.

Repeat with remaining batter. Before adding the last batch of boondis (or even couple of batches before the last) coarsely grind the boondis and add them to the syrup. This will help in binding the boondis together. Mix the boondis well into the syrup.

Heat the ghee in a pan and fry the cashews and raisins. Add them to the boondi-syrup mixture. When the syrup is warm enough to handle, scoop a handful of boondi-syrup mixture and press it into a laddu. Repeat with remaining boondi-syrup mixture. Let it cool for sometime until the laddus are bound together and they are all yours.


I didn't know that a dessert named baklava existed before my friend brought this for us when we met in the park. She was suddenly caught with desire to cook desserts and lucky for us we got something to snack every other day we meet in the park. This is a greek dessert not very easy to make, but uses very less ingredients tastes yummy. I made this for a get together, for the first time and got a lot of appreciation. There's nothing to go wrong in this and with a little bit of painting experience (I am not kidding when I say this) you could do this very quickly.

Things you'll need:
Filo dough (you could find it the freezer section of your supermarket) - 1 pack (contains about 20 sheets)
Sugar - 1 cup +1tbsp
Water- 1/2 cup
Mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts,pecans) - 2 cups (coarsely ground)
ground cinnamon - 1 teaspoon
Pistachios - a handful, coarsely ground
Butter - melted, as required, for brushing the dough

Yield - 24 pieces
Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the filo dough from the wrap and place it flat on the counter covering with a damp kitchen towel. This prevents the dough from getting dry and breaking. Mix cinnamon and 1 tbsp sugar into the nut mixture.

Grease a shallow bake pan, arrange one of the filo sheets and brush it with butter (brush liberally to cover the entire sheet). Repeat with 6 more sheets. Divide the nut mixture into halves. Layer one half on the filo dough layer.

Arrange seven filo sheets one by one, brushing each sheet with butter, above the nut layer. Layer the remaining half of the nut mixture on top of the filo layer. Arrange the remaining filo sheets, one by one, brushing each one with butter.

Sprinkle the pistachios on top, score the sheets into 24 pieces (you don't have to cut through, just score it gently). Place it in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes.

Prepare sugar syrup with 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup water. (There is no consistency constraint a not-so thick syrup should do..)

When the baklava is ready, Remove it from the oven and pour the sugar syrup evenly over the baklava and allow it to cool.

Wait!  not yet...Chill it in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight for best results..and there's nothing stopping you from savoring the delicious baklava..


Pullover newborn sweater

Nowadays crochet craze is eating me up more than I eat my food..So I am ending up putting crochet posts rather than recipes in recent times. But I guess this is going to be my last crochet time for a quite sometime. My husband is also helping me improve my crochet skills by giving me new ideas. One such idea was this newborn sweater for his friend's newborn son. I have crocheted button-on sweaters for couple of friends' newborns, but this time my husband suggested to do a pullover sweater. But I found patterns for jackets or cardigans but couldn't find one-piece pullover sweater pattern. I was a bit lazy to do front, back and sleeves separately and attach them. So I did a mix of the cardigan pattern and my own pattern.  I also did a matching beanie cap.

Pattern for the sweater:
Chain 38.
Double crochet in third chain from the hook and all the chains. (36 DC)
Chain 3, turn DC in next 5 stitches, (DC,chain 1,DC) in the next stitch.
DC in the next 4 stitches, (DC,chain 1, DC) in the next stitch.
DC in the next 12 stitches, (DC, chain 1,DC) in the next stitch.
DC in next 4 stitches (DC,chain 1,DC) in the next stitch.
DC in the next 6 stitches.
Rows 3-6:
Chain 3 DC in each stitch across, (DC,chain 1,DC) in each chain 1 space.
Row 7 (Forming armholes):
Chain 3 DC in each stitch, when you reach the chain 1 space, fold the piece such that the 1st and 2nd chain 1 spaces are aligned and DC in the chain spaces together.
For reference you can view this video:

Repeat the same for the next chain 1 spaces. Continue DC in the rest of the stitches.

After finishing the last DC in the 7th row, slip stitch in 3rd chain of the first DC of the same row.
Rows 8-13:
Chain 3, DC in each stitch across, slip stitch with 3rd chain of beginning chain.
(I used red and yellow alternatively. You can either follow a single color or change colors between rows.)
After slip stitching the last row cut your yarn from about 2 inches of length, pull the loop out and tighten the yarn.

Join the yarn at the joint of the arm holes and body part, chain 3, DC in each stitch across and slip stitch in the 3rd chain of the beginning chain.
Continue this pattern for as many rows you want.
(Make sure you have equal number of DC in each row, so that the sleeves look even.)

Refer to:

Edging: (For the neck, arms,and waist)
Join yarn, chain 1 and single crochet in each stitch across, slip stitch at the beginning chain.

Here's the finished sweater...

I made a matching hat with the sweater which is a regular beanie with ear flaps whose pattern you might find in youtube.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Crochet dress

Couldnt wait to post this dress I crocheted for my toddler girl. As soon as I finished crocheting this dress I made her wear this and took a few snaps so that I could post it right away. I will try to post the patterns as soon as possible. The pattern is designed by me. Until you wait for the pattern you could take a look at the dress..


Mushroom Biriyani

For me, cooking vegetarian is very hard. Actually it's not the cooking that is hard but deciding what to cook really is. If we are having some guests at home, I would be very happy if they are non-vegetarians. Because I could get away with one chicken curry or fish curry and rice. If they are vegetarians, I am doomed. I would always like to do something unusual for my guests. So I try to  think away from the usual recipes. One of the lifesavers is mushroom biriyani. It's a very easy, quick and yummy recipe, I love to make so that I could finish it off in minutes and turn my focus to other items like appetizers, desserts etc., I always make my pulao or biriyani rice in my rice cooker, but if you prefer to fry the rice and vegetables separately and then cook it in the rice cooker, its ok to that also. Taste dosen't change.

Things you'll need:
Basmati rice - 2 cups
Onion - 2, cut lengthwise
Tomato - 1, cut lengthwise
Mushrooms - 1 cup, cubed (I used button mushrooms)
Capsicum or bell pepper - 1, cut lengthwise
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Green chillies -  3 or 4 according to your spice tolerance
Mint leaves (optional) - a bunch
Coriander leaves - a handful
Lemon - 1/2
Whole garam masala - Cinnamon - 1 inch stick, cloves - 5, Cardamom - 2, Bay leaves - 2
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - as needed
Oil -2 tbsp
Water - 4 cups

Yield - Serves 3 to 4 persons


Step 1:
Soak the rice for 15 mins.

Step 2:
Heat oil in the rice cooker or a pan, add the whole garam masala. When the cloves crackle, add the onions, fry till translucent, add green chillies and ginger garlic paste. Fry till the raw smell of ginger garlic is gone, then add the tomatoes, capsicum and mushroom and mint leaves. Fry until the raw flavor of the vegetables is gone, then add the turmeric, chilli and coriander powders.

Add rice and fry until rice is well coated with the mixture. Add water and salt. If frying in a separate pan, transfer the contents to the rice cooker. Squeeze the lemon juice into rice mixture.

Step 4:
When done, garnish with coriander leaves and serve with raita and your favorite curry.

You can also cook this in the pressure cooker. Cook in medium heat for two whistles.

Stir-fry Noodles

My daughter is a noodle lover. Although she is a picky eater, we can trust her with noodles every time we go out to eat or having lunch/dinner at a friend's place. From instant noodles to authentic Chinese noodles she likes all kinds of them. If they don't have vegetables..good. If they are spicy..great. If they have!!. But somehow she doesn't appreciate the noodles I make for her at home or for her school lunch. I seriously don't know what's going wrong. I used the same ingredients they mentioned in the chowmein recipes, used thin noodles which she used to like in restaurants, used less vegetables, sometimes none. But she eats only a bit, which I would have forced into her mouth. I am going to still try all noodle recipes I could get and win her appreciation someday. Below is my version of the stir fry noodles recipe. But I would really like to know if someone has a different version of the stir fry noodles to make it taste like those in restaurants. 

Things you'll need:
Chowmein noodles - 1 pack
Carrots - 1/2 cup, diced
Cabbage - 1/2 cup, diced
Capsicum - 1/2, cut lengthwise
Garlic - 5 cloves, minced
Soy sauce - 2 tbsp
Oyster sauce - 1 tbsp
Stir fry sauce - 1 tbsp
Salt - as needed (go easy on the salt since the sauces have salt in them)
Pepper - 1 tsp, crushed or coarsely ground
Oil - 1 tbsp

Yield - Serves 2-3 persons


Step 1:
Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain, mix in some oil, and let dry on a plate.
Heat oil in a wok or large pan. Stir fry the vegetables, garlic with salt and pepper, until the vegetables are almost cooked but crunchy.

Step 2:
Add the noodles and stir fry the noodles mixing the vegetables and noodles. Mix the sauces in a bowl by adding little water. Add them to the noodle mixture and stir fry until the noodles are dry and the sauces are well absorbed.

Serve hot with your favorite side.

Tip: Before adding the noodles you could add a scrambled egg to add extra flavor. You could also make it more spicy by adding some chilli sauce.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chilli fish (gravy)

Indo-chinese recipes are my all time favorite. Whenever I want to take time off from my regular dishes and do something special for dinner or lunch I opt for Indo-chinese food without blinking an eye. Usually it will be a Manchurian and fried rice. But this time I wanted to do a seafood special. Chilli fish is the first thing came to my mind. We usually go for chilli fish with fried rice/noodles when we do a take-away. Somehow I thought it takes a lot of time to prepare it and hence never attempted to give it a try. Yes, it took a bit of my time but it wasn't so complicated as I thought. I made it for a Saturday dinner and served with veggie stir fry noodles.

Things you'll need:
Fish fillets - 2 (tilapia or any firm fish)
Soy sauce - 2tbsp + 2tsp
Chilli sauce - 1tbsp+1tsp
Corn flour -  2 tbsp
Salt - as needed
Food color (orange or red) - a pinch (optional)
Garlic cloves - 3, finely chopped
Onion - 1, cubed or slit lengthwise
Bell pepper (green or mixed colors) - 1 cup, cubed or slit lengthwise
Tomato paste - 1 tsp
Green onions - 2, finely chopped

Oil - for deep frying the fish and sauteing the vegetables

Yield - 2 Servings


Cut the fillets into small pieces. Mix the cornflour, 2 tsp of soy sauce, 1 tsp of chilli sauce, salt and food color (optional) in a bowl.

Coat the fish pieces with the corn flour mixture and deep fry them in small batches. Let them sit on a paper towel.

Heat a little oil in a pan, saute the onion, garlic and bell pepper, uncovered in medium low, until the vegetables are cooked but little crunchy. Add the tomato paste, 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of chilli sauce and salt. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and cook the sauce for a couple of minutes. Add the fillets, mix it well, switch off the stove and garnish with green onions.

Serve it with fried rice or noodles

Use dark sesame oil for more authentic effect. You could also use some toasted sesame seeds for garnishing.
If you prefer a thicker gravy, mix 2 tsp of cornflour in  1/4 cup of  water and stir into the boiling gravy. The gravy will thicken in couple of minutes. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Crochet jewelry

My daughter is changing school this fall. It is the most sad feeling to leave your old school and friends behind and move on. It was almost like a second home for my kid. She loved it there. The teachers were so kind and patient with her and all the kids studying there. I even would wish sometimes we had a school life like hers. I really should appreciate their efforts to bring out the best in each and every child. They certainly did more than I could have done. I wanted to give a small gift of appreciation to the teachers on the last school day for my daughter. I could have easily brought something in a store, but I wanted to put some effort in making the gift myself, to respect their efforts. So I chose to do some crochet jewelry. I got some satin and thread chains and fish hooks, and crochet thread and viewed a lot of patterns to finally come up with these jewelry


This is a very simple pattern, but it took me a little while to master as I am new to crocheting with crochet threads which are much thinner than the regular yarns. I used a size 10 thread and 2.5 mm hook.


This is also a beautiful pattern as the previous one. With the same thread and hook, I made the pendant and earrings in less than an hour.


These bracelets were made with my own pattern. I just started blank and started inventing the pattern on the go. It might not be a masterpiece but a decent one for a beginner. I used 4 ply yarn and 5 mm hook for this pattern.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Vegetable and cheese crepe

For this recipe the credit goes completely to my husband, because he was the one who attempted to try this one, and he makes this each time we feel like having the crepe :). We use Bisquick pancake mix for this recipe but it can also be done with all purpose flour with some baking powder and baking soda. Treat yourself with restaurant style crepe when you are not in a mood for regular food.

Things you'll need:
Bisquick pancake mix/ all purpose flour - 1 cup
Egg - 1 (alternatively you can use 1/3 cup of egg white)
Milk or water - just enough to prepare the batter
Shredded cheddar cheese - 1/4 cup
Onion - 1, small, chopped
Sun-dried tomatoes (optional) - 2 ,chopped
Mixed vegetables (carrot, beans, broccoli, mushroom, peas, bell pepper) - 1 cup
Salt - as per taste
Butter - as required

Yield - 2 Crepes


Prepare the batter by mixing the Bisquick mix/ all purpose flour with milk/water. If using all purpose flour add salt, baking powder and baking soda, a pinch of each.

Stir fry the onions, tomatoes (optional) and mixed vegetables with salt and pepper until the vegetables are cooked. Beat the egg with little salt and pepper.

Pour a ladle full of batter on a flat pan or tava greased with some butter, in medium flame. Spread the batter into a crepe. When the upper side of the crepe is dry, pour some egg mixture and spread. When the egg is cooked, spread some of the vegetables and shredded cheese. Fold the crepe and serve hot with fries or chips.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Simple aval (poha) upma

Whenever we have a late and heavy lunch, or if we go somewhere in the weekend and come back late in the evening, we prefer simple and light dinner. Poha upma would be our choice most of the times. I do it with just onions and green chillies or additionally with some veggies if I have the time and the veggies. This make-in minutes meal could also be prepared as evening snacks for kids with veggies and coarsely powdered nuts.

Things you'll need:
Aval (poha) - 1 cup
Onion - 1, finely chopped
Green chillies - 2, finely chopped
Curry leaves - hand full
Vegetables (carrot, peas, potato) - 1/2 cup (If using potato, cook and cube it before adding to upma)
Salt - to taste
Coriander leaves - few sprigs, for garnishing
Cashew nut/peanut powder  (optional) - 2 tsp

For tempering :
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1tsp
Cashew nuts - few, broken
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp

Yield - 2 Servings


Soak the aval (poha) in 3 cups of warm water for half an hour or until it turns soft. Drain and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pa and add the tempering ingredients. When the mustard seeds starts bursting, add the onions green chillies and curry leaves. Fry till the onions turn translucent. Add the vegetables and salt, cook them in a slow flame until the veggies are almost cooked.

Add poha and fry until the moisture in the poha is absorbed and the mixture is dry. Switch off the stove. Garnish with coriander leaves and nut powder (optional)

Serve with your favorite pickle or chutney (We have it with sweet and spicy mango pickle ) 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sura puttu..(Spicy shark hash)

This recipe was one of my favorite seafood recipes since I remember. I still remember my dad getting the whole shark from the fish market, my mom cleaning and cutting the shark, and of course preparing the sura puttu. As a child I didn't really appreciate the effort that's behind this wonderful recipe. I only enjoyed the end product. Only after I started cooking, did I realize the dedication and effort behind each food we prepare and the satisfaction we get when the dish comes so well and gets praised by others. Luckily for me, after coming to US, cooking is not always done from scratch, because from meat to vegetables we get most of them them pre-cut or frozen. We sometime get shark fillets in our nearby grocery store. It doesn't taste as good as fresh shark but something is better than nothing. So we doesn't miss a chance when we see fresh (partially) shark fillets in the store. Sura puttu is always sura puttu, fresh or not.
Now to the recipe..

Things you'll need:
Shark - 1 lb
Onion - 2, medium, chopped
Garlic - 10-15 cloves, minced (or more if you like the garlic flavor)
Green chillies - 5, minced
Curry leaves - a handful
Coriander leaves - for garnishing
Salt - to taste
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp

Yield - 3-4 Servings


Clean and cut the shark into medium size pieces. In a pan, bring two cups of water to boil. Add the shark pieces with the turmeric powder and cook covered for five mins or couple of mins more. That's enough for the shark to become soft. (If it stays rubbery even after 10 mins, there's no point in using them for sura puttu ). Let it cool.

Remove the skin from the shark pieces, if any, and gently shred the shark pieces with your hands. If you find bones in the shark, don't throw them away. It will enhance the flavor of the sura puttu.

In a deep frying pan, heat the oil, add the onions and fry until golden brown. Add the green chillies, garlic and  curry leaves. Add a small pinch of turmeric powder. Now add the shark pieces and salt.
Mix well and cook for few minutes until the sura puttu is dry.

Serve with rice and your choice of curry or rasam.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ragi Adai (sweet version)

Ragi is one of the nutritious grains that we add to our diet in various forms including porridge, idli, dosa,idyappam etc., It can also be had as 'adai' either in sweet or spicy version. I prefer the sweet version because however nutritious ragi might be, I need something to convince me to eat ragi as a main dish. This is very easy to make and would be a quick fix dinner or evening snack. Kids who love sweet (that excludes my daughter) will definitely love this ragi adai.

Things you'll need:

Ragi flour - 1 cup
Jaggery (crushed) - 1/2 cup
Water - 1 cup
Coconut (thinly sliced and chopped) - 1/4 cup
Cardamom - 1 pod, crushed
Ghee - 2 tsp

Yield - 4 or 5 pieces


Step 1:
Heat the ghee in a pan and toast the coconut pieces until light brown in color. Keep aside. Bring the water to boil and add jaggery. When the jaggery is completely melted, strain the syrup if there are any impurities, and heat the syrup until it comes to a boil. Switch off the stove.

 Add the ragi flour slowly to the syrup and keep stirring until all the flour is incorporated into the syrup and a soft dough is formed. Add the coconut pieces and the cardamom, and mix well. Let it cool. Grease your palms and gently knead the dough to avoid any lumps.

Divide the dough into 4 or five balls. Heat a flat griddle. Grease your palm and flatten each ball into a circle. (The circle need not be very big. It should at least be half centimeter thick). Place it in the hot griddle and cook by turning over every two minutes. You can also add a teaspoon of ghee or oil to the side of the adai so that it wouldn't look dry.

Serve it hot. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

My new crochet project..Baby set

Finally I have finished the baby set for my friend's newborn girl!!!!. I have made a blanket, sweater and a hat for the sweetie. The blanket took me a very long time but the sweater and hat took me only a week to complete.

I should manage to send her the baby set this week. This is going to be a complete surprise for her. I wish she likes them.

I used babysport yarn for this blanket and the pattern is from You just have to register and you can view lots and lots of free patterns. This website was very useful for me to try out new crochet projects. 

This sweater is a combination of two patterns. The top half of the sweater is made using the sweater pattern from The link for this pattern is
The umbrella pattern of the lower half of this sweater and the sleeves are made using the pattern

I was thinking to make a regular beanie but suddenly struck by the idea of ear flap hat. For girls, I think, some extra decorations make them look more cute and pretty. So this ear flap hat would be a perfect choice for baby girls. I got this pattern from

The sweater and hat are for 9-12 months size. But they looked a bit smaller for me. That might be even because its been a long time since I've been with babies less than a year. Hoping to crochet more sweaters and hats if this one fits her and my friend likes this set.

PS: I've added some links for patterns that I could remember, as I have promised.

My next project is a boy's sweater for my hubby's friend who just had a baby boy. Will try to finish the sweater ASAP and upload it sooner.