Tuesday 1 April 2014


Here I am proud to present yet another kerala-iyer dish, the Green tomatoes Aviyal, this is very popular at home.
Green tomatoes are a healthy source of fiber, which your intestinal and digestive systems rely on for good health. One cup of green tomatoes supplies about 2 grams of dietary fiber. Fiber is present in most fruits, vegetables and whole grains, so increasing your intake of these foods, including cooked green tomatoes, can help you get enough in your diet. The Harvard School of Public Health reports that a diet that includes plenty of fiber may help you reduce your risk of several life-threatening conditions, including heart disease, colon cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Fiber also keeps your digestive system working well so you are less likely to experience constipation.
Green tomatoes also contain nutrients like beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein, and vitamin K. This recipe would make it worth to add these lovely green tomatoes to your menu.
Once in a way when I visit the Giant hypermart I get to see some green tomatoes nestled in between the ripe red ones or the semi-ripe tomatoes. This time I decided to pick a few for my dish. In yesteryears, where people used to grow tomatoes in their garden they had the luxury to pluck and make these but now we have to rely on supply from our super stores. Green tomatoes have a tart taste to it which is loved by many. It’s usually made as a side dish with Molaghootal / Kootu

Green tomatoes - 6 nos
Turmeric - a pinch
Red chilli powder - 1/4tspn
Fresh grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Dried Red Chilly  - 1
Cumin seeds -1 teaspoon
Salt as per taste
Coconut oil -1 tspn
Curry leaves - 1 sprig

Rinse the tomatoes well. Slice the tomatoes into 4 parts, don’t make think slices or small pieces as it will melt when cooked into a puree. The tomatoes have to be chunky before cooking.  In a vessel, add the sliced tomatoes, some turmeric, red chilly powder  and salt and curry leaves and cook it covered.
Meanwhile, Grind the coconut with the dried red chilly and cumin seeds to a smooth paste.  Once the tomatoes are cooked, Add in the ground coconut paste, check for salt, if required you can adjust now, you can also add chilly powder for a slightly fiery taste. Don’t let the gravy boil for too long as it will become very watery. After a boil or so, once all the ingredients are mixed well and the taste according to you is perfect, drizzle some raw coconut oil on top. This is done for giving it a dash of flavor. It’s kind of a grand finale for this dish.
Now put the lid on and let the flavors mingle for a while.
In some hot white  rice, drizzle some ghee, add your Molaghutal to the rice, mix well, take a helping of the Tomato Aviyal and eat Molaghutal rice with it and with some fried lijjat papads. That’s the way we eat this and savor the blend of various tastes in our mouth.

Note -:

·    While grinding the coconut instead of dried red chilly you can add green chilly. I like the flavor of the dried red chilly so I added dried red chilly to my dish.
·       Don’t add tamarind or Yogurt as Green tomatoes are quite sour on it’s own.
·    You can add onions/shallots to this dish for more flavor, but what I have shared is a traditional recipe.
 (Nutritional Value Info courtesy – www.Livestrong.com)


Friday 14 March 2014


Today we will be celebrating the festival of Karadayan Nombu.

Explanation for the younger generation
There are a few festivals in India which are very male oriented and centered around men. Primarily because in the past the men were the bread winners and the woman’s role was taking care of the hearth and homes. Their lives were intertwined with their husbands and they usually used to pray for the long lives of their husband, so that he is always there for them till the day they die. This was also a way to profess their undying love for their husbands. As per one of my cousins this could be known as the “Karwa Chauth” of the South Indians (Tambhrams).

This festival is primarily observed and celebrated by the Tamil Brahmins. It is celebrated during the transition of Tamil Month of Maasi to Panguni. Due to this legend Karadaiyan Nombu is also known as Savithri Vratham.

Why is the festival called Karadyan Nombu?
Karadiyan Adai is the name of a unique dish prepared on this day and Nombu means Vratam or upvasam (fast).

The Story of the Tamil Karadayan Nombu festival is based on the legend of Satyavan Savitri which is one of the stories that we read in the epic story Mahabharata.
You can read the story of Satyavan and Savitri here.
It is believed that Savitri got her husband’s life back from the clutches of death.
Each region in India observes a fast (upvas/vrat) in a different time of the year, like the Maharashtrians observe this as Vata Savitri and the North Indians as “Karva Chauth” etc.

How do we celebrate
On Karadayan Nombu day women worship the Goddess Gowri and offer her a Neivedhyam (offering) of Sweet & Savoury mini steamed Adais.
Unmarried girls pray for a good husband and married women pray for their husband’s long life.
There is a muhurtham time for tying the sacred yellow thread which indicates that we have offered our prayers. During this time, Women pray to the Goddess and tie the sacred yellow cotton thread known as Manjal cheradu or Nombu Cheradu for the well-being of their husband. This thread is not as thick as the Thali Kayaru(cheradu), this is a thinner version as shown in the picture.
You can read more about the way the pooja is done here.

The following shloka is chanted while tying the yellow thread
In Sanskrit,
“Throram Krishnami subhake saharitham
Dharami aham bharthu Ayushya Sidhartham supreethabhava sarvadha”
Which means,
By tying the sacred tyellow thread, I hereby pray for a long life for my husband and also pray that we always live happily together.

In Tamil ladies chant,
Urugaadha Venneyum, Oru adaiyum, Oru Noolum naan noorthaen
Orukkalumum en kanavan ennai vittu piriyaada irukka vendum.
Which means,
I offer unmelted butter alongwith the adai, Tying a thread doing nombu,
Bless me O Goddess that me and my husband never get separated and always live happily together.

I will share with you an easy method to make the adai without compromising much on the taste.
Before you make the adai (for sweet adai and the savory adai), roast the rice flour in a wok so it loses its raw smell. The color of the flour should still be white. Transfer it onto a plate to cool.

Rice Flour - 2 cups
Jaggery (powdered) - 1.5 cups
Water - 1 cup
Black eyed beans - 1/2 cup
Coconut (cut into small cubes) - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Cardamom (Elaichi) - 2-3

Soak the beans overnight or for around 3 hours, pressure cook and set aside.
Pound the cardamom, separate the skin and further pound the seeds inside into a powder.
In a wok, add Ghee, the cardamom seeds and coconut pieces, Allow the coconut pieces to fry until golden. Then add the water and let it boil, once it starts boiling, add the jaggery.
When the jaggery starts to froth and the raw smell of jaggery disappears, add the roasted rice flour, cooked black eyed beans, and mix the ingredients well. Mix until it rolls up like the chappati dough. Remove from the gas. Allow it to cool.
Once it is cool enough to touch, make balls of the mixture and flatten it to round shapes. Put a hole in the middle with your finger just like a doughnut, place on the idli moulds.
Steam them in an idli cooker for 7 - 10 minutes. Serve with a generous dollop of white butter (usually made at home).


Rice flour - 2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Cooked black eyed beans - 3 tbsp
Green chillies / Dried red chillies - 2
Coconut, diced - 2 tbsp
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a Sprig
Asafetida - a pinch
Salt - to taste
Heat some oil in a wok, add some mustard seeds, asafetida, green chillies or dried red chillies and curry leaves and sauté for a minute, till the seeds stop spluttering. Add the water to it next and let it come to a boil. Add in the salt, coconut pieces, cooked black eyed beans and the roasted rice flour and stir well so that lumps don't form. Mix until it rolls up like the chappati dough. Remove from the gas. Allow it to cool.
Make balls out of it, flatten the balls and cook in an idli steamer for about 10 minutes.
Serve with a generous dollop of butter.
Enjoy the Adais as a reward of breaking the vratham kept for your dear husbands or would-be husbands.

Friday 10 January 2014


This time when I went for my weekend grocery shopping, I saw bags of frozen Toovar Lilva, all neatly picked, sorted and frozen. The fresh ones are not available so easily in Singapore and seeing such a convenient pack I decided to buy it.
Usually when I buy this I use it in the Surti Undhio. This time I thought I will make something different from it and decided to make a Pulav out of it which is a one pot meal at home on the days when I am lazy to cook and I need to rustle up something quickly.
Here is a recipe of the Toovar Lilva Pulav for people who like some variety in their palette.
The Toovar Lilva Pulav was such a hit in our house that it got over in no time.

Toovar Lilva / Pigeon Peas – 1 cup
Basmati Rice – 1 ½ cup washed and drained
Bay leaves - 1
Cumin Seeds – 1 tbsp
Cinnamon sticks – 1
Clove / Lavang – 1
Turmeric – ½ tsp (Optional)
Asafetida – a pinch
Onion – 1 finely chopped (Optional)
Freshly chopped coriander leaves – 2 tbsps
Oil – 2 tbsps
Salt as per taste

To Be Ground Into A Smooth Paste (using Little Water)
Chopped Coriander leaves – ½ cup
Green chillies – 4
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Lemon Juice - ½  tbsp
Fresh Green Garlic (Hara Lehsun) – ¼ cup (Optional)

Rinse out 1 ½ cups of long grained Basmati rice and then soak it for a while in water.
I used the frozen pigeon peas, Incase you are using the frozen Toovar Lilva, kindly soak it in some warm water. If you are using fresh ones just rinse the pigeon peas out through a colander and they are ready to use.
Now, take the chopped coriander leaves, green chilly paste, ginger paste, a pinch of salt, Lemon juice and the fresh green garlic and blend to fine consistency in a mixie / blender adding a little water.
(I didn’t use the green garlic & onion in this recipe)

In a wok, put 2 tablespoons of oil, once the oil is heated add in the Bay leaves, Cinnamon stick, clove and the cumin seeds, once you see the cumin getting fried, add in a pinch of Asafetida (I always like to asafetida in my dishes as it has property to remove gases and in this recipe we have beans so it is good to add some), and fry for a minute.
Now add in the finely chopped onions and sauté until transparent. The onion should look shrunk and well fried.
After this, add in the Corriander-green chilly-ginger-lemon juice paste and sauté well. The color of the paste when fried well becomes slightly light.
Ensure that you don’t burn the masala as then the pulav won’t taste so good.
Meanwhile drain the water of the Toovar Lilva by passing it through a colander (if using the frozen ones).
Once, the masala turns into a lighter color. Add in the Toovar Lilva and sauté until the Pigeon peas turn into a lighter green,
After this add in the rinsed and soaked Basmati rice without any water and sauté for 2-3 minutes adding salt as per the taste and mixing everything well.
Once this is done you can put this in a rice cooker and add water according to finger level consistency for example when you put your finger in you will know how much rice is there, that much water has to be added or alternatively add water until the rice is completely immersed and there is another tea-cup of water on top. The water level has to be perfect for a perfect pulav, now switch on the rice cooker and keep to cook position.
I always use the electric rice cooker for pulav in Singapore but you can make it in a non stick wok by closing the lid and keeping the gas on a low flame.
Either way it cooks well. Once the rice cooks, give it a light stir so that everything mixes well without breaking the grains of rice Put the lid back and let it stand for another five minutes. Then turn off the plug.
Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot.
If you want to decorate it some more you can even garnish it with freshly grated paneer.
Enjoy the refreshing Toovar Lilva pulav with any gravy of your choice or just with Papad, pickle and raita, It’s a complete meal.

Monday 28 October 2013


Shankarpaale is a very popular snack in the states of Maharshtra & Gujarat, India. It is traditionally made during Diwali in most Maharastrian households. It’s simple and easy to make. It is rich in carbohydrates, making it an instant source of energy.
The mixture is made into dough and then mechanically cut into diamond shaped units which are deep fried in ghee or butter. Most of the ingredients are available at home easily and no need to specially buy stuff to make this dish.
The North Indians make this a bit differently, instead of adding the sugar into the dough, they make a sugar syrup and after frying the dough bits they dunk them in the sugar syrup and allow it to cool down. Once cool, the sugar forms a white frosted topping. I personally prefer the Maharashtrian version as I find them less sweet and guiltless than to see them loaded with sugar on top.
Being married to a man from Pune and not knowing to make Shankarpaale could be considered as a sin. That’s just a joke. We can always buy these goodies from the Store. But nothing can beat the taste or freshness of the home-made ones.
This dish has a long shelf life and can last you even up to a month if stored well in an airtight container.
This year for Diwali I am preparing Shankarpaale. You don’t need to prepare this only for Diwali. It’s a good snack to prepare anytime during the year. These are bite sized munchies which are enjoyable to gobble anytime during the day or can be had as a tea-time snack.
I made one batch of Shankarpaales which was about 250gms but it got over so soon, that, I had to make another batch, so I made 1 kilo of them for Diwali to share with my neighbors and friends.
The below recipe is for making about 250 gms / ¼ kilo Shankarpaale.

All purpose flour – 1 ½ cup
Semolina – 1 teaspoon
Sugar – ¼ cup
Ghee or butter – ¼ cup
Milk – ¼ cup
Salt – a pinch
Oil for frying

If you want to make about 1kg you need to use
All purpose flour – 6 cups
Semolina – 3 teaspoons
Sugar – 1 ¼  cup
Ghee or butter – 1 cup
Milk – 1 cup
Salt – 1 ½ teaspoons
Oil for frying

Sieve the all purpose flour, add the semolina and salt. Mix well and keep aside.
In a saucepan, take milk and ghee and heat until the ghee melts. Now, add sugar and keep stirring until the sugar melts or up to 1 boil, whichever is earlier.
Let this mix cool down.
Once it’s cool, add this mixture to the all purpose flour, semolina and salt mix and start kneading the dough. The dough should be of the consistency of a chappati but will be soft because of the ghee.
Make a stiff dough that’s easy to roll. Now cover with a moist cloth and let this dough rest for about half an hour (30 minutes).
Make small balls from the dough and roll like a thick paratha. The thicker ones come out soft and crunchy like biscuits and the thinner ones come out crispy like chips. It’s a personal choice how you want it. I like it like a biscuit, so I roll my shankarpaales a little thick. Once you rolled the dough to your desired thickness. Remove the rough edges by using knife or pizza cutter.
Now cut in to desired shape (usually squares or diamonds). I like diamond shaped ones, so I cut mine like diamonds. Keep the oil hot and ready in a wok. I usually keep the flame on sim when I add in the shankarpaale diamonds and let it be there on sim for a minute or 2. After this I increase the flame, so that the dough gets cooked properly inside out when on sim. You must do this when you are rolling out thicker shankarpaales. Deep fry till it gets golden brown color. Allow it to cool down and then store in an air tight container or zip lock bag. Enjoy these delicious diamond bites as and when you want.


·         The proportion for the All purpose flour may vary. If you feel while kneading that the dough is too smooth and not getting to the required stiffness, add in some more flour till you get the desired stiffness.

·         You can fry in ghee or dalda instead of oil.

·         I used coarse grain sugar in my recipe and my shankarpaales were not overly sweet. If you are using fine grain or castor sugar, you may need to add in some more sugar.

·         My Shankarpaales were not overly sweet, if you like it very sweet you can add in a bit more of sugar.

Monday 16 September 2013


Today is an important day as is not only the 8th day of Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations but today is also Onam.
So, wishing all my readers a Happy Ganesh Chaturthi and a Happy Onam. Hope to be more regular in blogging from now on, as I really miss blogging these days.

Whenever my sister comes from Chennai my husband Yo always asks her to bring Thenga Boli from Venkataramana Boli store. He absolutely adores them. This time my sister couldn’t make it and Yo was disappointed. So I decided to make it for him. Venkataramana Boli store Bolis are absolutely yummy. The coconut filling inside is quite generous and it’s totally yummy. We don’t get to eat it hot or fresh, so we usually heat it up a bit in the microwave, pour a dollop of fresh ghee and indulge in this sinful delight.
The original Venkataramana boli recipe has Maida(All purpose floor). But here I replaced Maida with wheat flour.
Wheat is a healthy option and doesn’t alter the taste too much and the Coconut poli tastes yummy anyways.

Freshly Grated coconut - 2 cups,
Jaggery - 2 cups
Wheat flour -2 cups
Oil - 3 tbsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Cardamom powder -1 tsp
Oil as required
Ghee as required

For filling
In a wok, Add one tablespoon of ghee, then add the cardamom powder, Now add the grated jaggery, when the grated jaggery melts, add the grated coconut and blend both well, and cook further.
Grate the jaggery. Boil jaggery in water till it dissolves, and strain the syrup. Mix the jaggery syrup and grated coconut. Place on the stove and stir till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.
Roll into lemon - sized balls. Keep aside.

For dough
Mix wheat flour, a pinch of salt, oil and water and knead the dough. The dough should be soft. Keep this aside for about half an hour till it sets.
Then knead again, by punching it and folding it. Knead well and divide the dough into 20 equal portions.
On a well-floured board, gently roll out two polis, with the help of a rolling pin into a 6 inches disc. Place one and then spread a tablespoon of the coconut jaggery mixture evenly with the back of a spoon.

Place the other poli on top. The reason you do this in this style is to ensure that you get a lot of filling in each bite.

Roast each poli on a hot, dry girdle (tava). Add a teaspoon of ghee around the poli , once you see some spots on the backside flip over, you will see your Coconut polis puff up. Once done, remove on a plate. Serve hot with a dollop of ghee.

Tips :-
-        Another method to do it is, with greased palms, take one portion of the dough and flatten it into a disc of the size of the palm. Place a ball of "coconut jaggery" paste in the centre and fold the disc from all sides to cover the paste completely.
-       Instead of wheat flour you can use All purpose flour.
-      You can make the coconut filling one day prior to preparing the bolis if you desire.

Saturday 15 June 2013


This is one of the quickest and easiest desserts. Adding different varieties of dry fruits adds some grandeur to the simple Shrikhand. As in the market you get standard flavors like Cardamom Shrikhand, Pistachio Shrikhand, Saffron flavored Shrikhand(Kesar) or Amrakhand (Mango flavored). But at home I added all the dryfruits like cardamom, Almond, pistachio and saffron. Not only making it rich but exotic as it is not what is available in the market.  Making the Shrikhand takes all about 20 minutes excluding the time taken to tie the yogurt overnight and the refrigeration. With a little bit of preparation you can have a wonderful dessert in a jiffy. It is very healthy. You can adjust the sugar according to the sweetness desired. Shrikhand – Puri is an exotic combination very popular in Maharashtra, even some restaurants serve this combo on their menu. We can also find this as one of the desserts in their weddings, festivals and special events. I’m very happy to share this recipe for one and all to enjoy. Indulge in this Sweet, cool, crunchy delight with Puris or just like that.

Yogurt – ½ kg
Sugar - 250 gms
Cardamom powder – ½ tsp
Almond – 4-5 sliced
Pistachio – 4-5 sliced
Saffron – 4-5 strands

I have used yogurt made from full cream milk in this recipe as I was not sure if the yogurt would be thick enough in the Low fat milk and Skimmed milk. I took a clean muslin cloth, put the muslin cloth over a bowl so that there is no spillage. I slowly dropped the yogurt inside the muslin cloth. Once, I transferred the yogurt, I tied the muslin cloth in a knot, like a small pouch, ensure that the knot is a tight one, lest your yogurt may fall off and get wasted.
Next I tied it to the rack on to a hook dangled from my kitchen rack. Ensure that the hook is strong. You will see that the whey that is the water from the yogurt is falling down through the muslin cloth, don’t press the yogurt in the pouch and remove. Let it drain itself naturally. You can keep a bowl below the knotted pouch and collect the whey. This can be used in gravies for North Indian dishes and you can also add it in the wheat flour while kneading the dough to get softer rotis (chappatis).
This is the best part of Indian cooking.”Nothing gets wasted”
Keep this overnight or for 6-7 hours. I always do it over night, if I do it during the daytime I have no patience to wait.
In the morning, I take the pouch and keep it on top of a bowl and open the pouch gently. You will see thick & creamy Yogurt remaining which doesn’t have any water. Put this in a bowl, add sugar and mix.
Keep aside for 25-30 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve.
Meanwhile, rub saffron into 1 tbsp. milk till well broken and dissolved. Keep aside.
Beat well till sugar has fully dissolved into curd.
Pass through a big holed strong strainer, pressing with hand or spatula to ensure the texture is totally free flow and creamy.
Mix in cardamom powder and the dissolved saffron and half of the sliced nuts.
Put this in a nice glass serving bowl, Garnish it with the remaining nuts.
Chill for 1-2 hours before serving. This dessert is best served chilled.
This quantity makes about  6-7 servings and the
Shelf life: 3-4 days refrigerated


-          To make fruit flavoured shrikhand eg. mango, add pulp at the stage of adding cardamom and saffron.

-          I like to use baked or roasted nuts than the raw ones as it adds a crunch to the Shrikhand.

Friday 24 May 2013


Moong dal palak - another healthy recipe from my kitchen. I got introduced to dal palak as a variation to the plain dal that we used to order in the restaurants thanks to our kids who end up eating Plain basmati rice and dal in the restaurant as well with great relish.

I particularly liked the dal Palak that I ate at the Gokul restaurant here in Singapore.

I liked it because I could savor the taste of the dal. The dal still felt like dal and I could savor the palak separately with a slight crunch. The palak is just lightly cooked, blended nicely with the dal but not mashed into one green paste.

I googled up for the recipe but what I found in most websites was not the recipe I was looking for. Many were cooking the palak and mixing it with the Toor dal/moong dal, some looked like the south Indian keerai molaghutal minus the coconut. This was not what I wanted, so I went once more to the restaurant to savor the dish and realized that the palak was not cooked separately or overcooked or blended into a mix with the dal. The palak was used as coriander like a dressing and didn’t get overwhelming into the taste of the dal and I loved it. So here’s the recipe of dal palak restaurant style with a crunch.

Yellow split lentil(moong dal) -1 cup
Split pigeon peas (Toor Dal) – 2 tbsps
Spinach – 15 leaves
Onion - 1
Tomato – 2 ripe
Green Chilly – 4-5
Ginger – ½ inch
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Asafetida(hing) – ½  tsp
Coriander powder – 2tsps
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Red chilly powder – 1 tsp
Dry mango powder (Amchur powder) – ½ tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Dried Red chilly whole - 2
Oil – 2 tbsps
Lemon – 1 whole
Curry leaves – A sprig
Fresh green coriander leaves – 2 tbsps
Salt as per taste

Wash, rinse and Pressure cook the lentils upto 3 whistles with a pinch of turmeric. Once cooked, mash the lentils well with the back of a ladle. Keep aside. Chop the onions, tomatoes. Cut the green chillies into halves. In a wok (kadhai), Add some oil and when the oil is hot, add in the mustard seeds and cumin seeds, when it begins to crackle. Add in the onions and sauté until translucent, then add in the curry leaves and chilly and sauté for a minute, Add in the tomatoes and sauté until squashy. Now add Asafetida, Coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilly powder, Amchur powder, salt as per taste and mix well. Now add the boiled lentils. Add 3 cups of water and let it boil for 15-20 minutes until all the spices and dal combine into one uniform mixture. You can adjust the consistency by either boiling more till thicker, or adding water slowly, until the desired consistency is reached, simmering slowly over low heat.
Cook further for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When you know that the dal is to the desired consistency you seek and well cooked. Squeeze the juice of a lemon without the seeds. Add finely chopped fresh green spinach (palak) and cook for another 5 minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and 2 red chillies fried in oil until plump and serve. Since the spinach is not overcooked and just gets blanched on top of the dal it will still have the crunch and not melt into the dal. This is the consistency I want. This helps to retain the nutritional value and add a subtle flavor to my dal not changing the taste of the conventional dal by grinding in the spinach and yet having a new flavor to it which is not overwhelming or does not overpower the taste of the dal.

Serve hot with Roti or rice. Do try this method and enjoy the Dal Palak. 

-          You can add garlic as well for extra flavoring, I don’t use much garlic in my cooking  hence I avoided it.

-          You can add the seasoning (tadka) of mustard, cumin & Red chillies at the point of serving

-          You can replace the moong dal with Toor dal

-          You can use 1 cup of Toor dal and 2 tbsps of moong dal, moong dal usually gives a thickness to the dal.

-          You can adjust the gravy according to your desired consistency. Some like their dal thick and some like it a bit watery.

Saturday 4 May 2013


I am not a huge salad lover and the entries in my blog can vouch for it as I don’t have many salad recipes. That does not mean I don’t love salads. I do love salads which are a good mix of ingredients and which appeal to my palate and once it does, it enters my blog. One of my friends recently moved and had a party at her house and she prepared this refreshingly lovely salad for lunch. I loved the refreshing tanginess of the mango, mixed with the neutral crunch of the papaya, the sweet blend of the carrot & onion. Adding to the refreshing feeling was the lemon, the crunch of the de-skinned salted peanuts. The sweetness imparted by the jaggery. The best part of the salad was all blended beautifully into one and yet had a unique taste and flavor. This dressing could be aptly described as “tangy” - a combination of sweet, sour, spicy and salty, but more sweet than sour which helps to balance out the sharpness of the papaya.
This led me to research about this Thai salad, and I found out that this salad is called “Som tam”.
Now, Som (means 'sour') Tam (means to 'pound' with a pestle and mortar).
This refreshing Thai salad, originates from the northeastern part of Thailand, but is popular all over Thailand and even in neighboring Laos and Myanmar.They have their version and additions to the recipe too.
A google search also led me to a website that lists this dish as Number 46 in the “World's 50 most delicious foods” (Below is the URL for you to see the Worlds 50 most delicious foods.)


It’s no wonder that I liked this recipe so much.

As the Thais love meat, the som Tam contains dried shrimps and crab meat and fish sauce as one of the ingredients. But since Iam a vegetarian, I will be avoiding all this in my recipe.
They also pound with a mortar and pestle the garlic and chilli into a paste and pound the long beans to a bruise. In fact they pound even the grated papaya and carrot a bit. I didn’t add long beans nor did I add garlic or green chillies in my recipe as I have to cook for young kids who may not appreciate all the spice.

Below is the Vegetarian or might I say vegan version of the “Unpounded” Som Tam with ingredients blended to make anyone crave for a helping of it. Try this refreshing salad. A special thanks to my friend who introduced me to this recipe.

Raw papaya –½
Raw Mango – ¼
Carrot - 1
Onion – 1
Tomatoes – 1 red and ripened (I didn’t use in this recipe)
Long beans (lightly steamed/blanched and chopped) - 7-8 nos (I didn’t use in this recipe)
Green chilly - 1-2 to taste (optional)
Salted de-skinned Peanuts – 2 tablespoons
Red Chilly flakes – ½ teaspoon
Lemon Juice – 1 lemon
Jaggery – Lemon Ball size
Salt as per taste
Fresh green coriander leaves – 1 tbsp

Grate and soak the lemon sized jaggery in water. Make a solution of the jaggery.
Choose a nice green raw papaya, peel the skin and grate it. Don’t use the fine grater, use the medium sized grater, so that you can feel the texture of every ingredient. Keep aside.
I chose a nice green Thai Mango, you can choose any variety of raw mango.
Use only quarter of the mango. Peel the skin and grate using the same grater. Keep aside.
Now peel and grate the carrot and keep aside.
Onion has to be cut in thin strips. Keep aside.
Squeeze the juice of a lemon without the seeds and keep aside.
Now, in a big salad bowl, toss in all the ingredients.
Traditionally Thai som tam salad, is served along with a side dish. This includes pieces of green beans and a fairly thick but small size of cabbage.
Traditionally som tam is made very spicy and hot - the side dish also contains crushed ice along with the beans and cabbage.
I’d suggest that you toss all the ingredients together just 5 to 10 minutes before you plan to eat it. Leaving the ready som tam for a long time, causes the salad to become quite soggy. Remember that this is just you first try at making veg Thai food, you can always experiment by fine tuning the proportion of ingredients used in the recipe.
You can adjust the sweetness or spice levels according to your tastes.
This proportion serves 3-4.

· Make sure you use unripe green papaya, which is firm

· Jaggery can be replaced with Sugar or Honey

· Ripe tomatoes can be chopped and added

· Long beans can be lightly steamed or pounded and added

· The peanuts can be added as it is or split them into halves and add in, or do it the more authentic way. The roasted peanuts are generally pounded into smaller pieces, not a fine powder but rather coarse.

· Instead of peanuts you can use cashew nuts or both in the recipe

· You can add garlic and chilly pounded into a paste as per the traditional recipe.

· You can add a dash of soya sauce for a n Asian flavor.

Tuesday 9 April 2013


Nothing can beat the summer like a tall cool drink of watermelon juice.
A watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 92% water by weight.
As with many other fruits, it is a source of vitamin C.
Watermelon is mildly diuretic and contains large amounts of beta carotene.
Watermelon with red flesh is a significant source of lycopene.
Researchers believe that beta-carotene and vitamin C are capable of preventing heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions.
No matter which way you cut them, when it comes to nutrition, melons are number one.

Watermelon - 1 seedless watermelon
Powdered sugar or honey to taste
Cold water and ice cubes

Wear an apron over your clothing when cutting watermelon. Place your watermelon on a cutting board. Peel the watermelon and slice it into 1"chunks using a sharp knife.
Place the watermelon chunks into a bowl. Use a fork instead of using your hands to avoid dripping of the juice.
Place the watermelon in a blender. Add powdered sugar or honey, if desired.
Blend your watermelon chunks and sweetener and check the consistency.
Blend well until the juice is smooth. Pour the juice over ice cubes in a tall glass.
You can strain the juice, if you wish, to remove the pulp. I advice not to do so as the pulp contains a lot of nutrition.


·         If you can't find a seedless watermelon, then cut a regular watermelon into quarters. Find the seed line and cut along the line with a paring knife. Remove the piece that you cut and use a fork to scrape out any remaining seeds that are still attached to the watermelon.

·         Add water for thinner juice and add ice cubes for thicker juice.

·         Always use a ripe watermelon for juicing. If you like sweetness, select a sweeter variety of watermelon, such as sugar baby.

·         Adding the juice of half a lemon to a glass of juice and honey (as a sweetener) makes it very refreshing with a zing during summers.

·         Fresh mint makes a vibrant addition to watermelon juice. Add a few clean mint leaves to the juice as it is blending.

Enjoy your chilled Watermelon juice whichever way you like it.

Some Info courtesy – Wikipedia

Thursday 4 April 2013


I first tasted Paneer Lababdar in a restaurant here in Singapore. I liked the dish so much that I decided to try making it at home. Being a Hindi teacher I started searching for the meaning of Lababdar and couldn’t find it in the Shabdkosh (Hindi dictionary) as well. There are some words that we have which are imports from Urdu & Arabic. This must be one such word. After much research I got something which describes what ‘Lababdar’ means.
‘Lababdar’ means a strong desire for something and a desire to indulge in it.
I wonder if this is a dish with some Mughal influence hence I categorize it under Mughlai and Punjabi dishes. I love the creamy red sauce in which the cottage chesse is cooked. The tenderness of the paneer, the texture of the light creamy tangy sauce. It’s truly a delight.

Malai Paneer (Cottage cheese) - 500 gms
Onions – 2 big sized
Tomatoes – 5 / 15oz Can of Tomato Puree
Ginger -  ½ tsp
Green chillies – 3-4
Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) – 1tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Coriander powder - ½ tsp
Red chilly powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Garam Masala powder - 1 tsp
White Sesame seeds (White Til) – ½ tsp
Full Cream Milk – ½ cup
Fresh Cream – 200gms
Butter - 1-2tbsps
Cardamom powder – ½ tsp
Dry Red Kashmiri Chilly -2 pieces
Oil – 2 tbsps
Fresh Green Coriander leaves (chopped) - 1/2 tbsp
Mint leaves – 3-4 leaves
Salt as per taste

For the paneer
I recommend making this dish with the fresh Paneer as the texture of the Paneer will be smooth and silky.
I used frozen paneer in this dish and I usually soak them in some hot water for about 15-20 minutes until they become soft like fresh paneer and drain the water after a while through a colander.
Cut the paneer in small cubes and keep aside.
In a Wok (Kadhai), add 2 tbsps of butter, lightly sauté the paneer and keep aside. The reason we sauté the paneer lightly in butter is to make it tough and not so easy to crumble inside the gravy.

For the tomato puree
You can either use 5 big red, ripe tomatoes and make a puree in the blender. I have used the tomato puree from the can as they have a deep red color and I usually stock a few cans in the case of an emergency.
Make a coarse paste of one onion, ginger and the green chillies. Finely chop the other onion.
Meanwhile dry roast the white sesame seeds and once it cools down make a powder, Don’t grind until the oil comes out.
In a Wok (Kadhai), add 2 tbsps of oil, add the cumin seeds and the carom seeds. Once it crackles, add the finely chopped onions, once it is transparent, add in the onion-ginger-green chilly paste. Add in salt and sauté until the oil comes out of the masala.
This indicates that the masala done.
Now add the tomato puree, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and cardamom powder and cook for
4-5 minutes until the oil separates and the gravy becomes thick. The tomato paste makes the gravy thick.
Now add the powdered sesame seeds and mix well.
After this add the milk and mix well. Let it boil for a while, till you feel the gravy becomes thick again and the color becomes uniform.
Now add the Paneer cubes.
After this add garam masala powder. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Mash the Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) with your hands and add into the gravy.
Cook for another minute or 2.
Then, add the fresh cream and let it cook on sim.
Now in a small pan, melt some butter and add the dried red Kashmiri chillies and pour into the gravy.
This is a dressing and looks better on top so don’t mix.
Garnish with finely chopped fresh green coriander leaves, mint leaves and some ginger strips.
Serve hot with fulkas, roti, Naan, kulcha, paratha or even rice. Tastes best with Indian breads.


-          You can add garlic as well for extra flavoring, I don’t use much garlic in my cooking  hence I avoided it. If incase you are adding garlic, make a paste along with the onion-ginger-chilly and follow the recipe.

-          Instead of using the full cream milk, you can use low fat milk or skimmed milk.

-          You can completely avoid fresh cream or use low fat  fresh cream

-          If the gravy is very thin, the paneer will crumble, so you must ensure that the gravy is thick.

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