Thursday, January 16, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!!

Happy New Year to All!! Its a bit late, but better late than never. Hope this year brings on happiness, good luck and exciting things for everyone!! So, far mine hasn't been off to a great start, atleast health-wise. For starters, new year's eve, I was down with a viral fever and just started getting better. My little one had a bad case of stomach bug, just recovered and we were winding up with our MI trip and heading back to D.C after all the chaotic flight schedules influenced by the winter storms in the mid-west.

Me and my daughter were getting back to our routine with couple days left for my hubby's return from India. On the third day after my return, in the wee hours of the morning, I get up from my sleep with extreme abdominal pain, feeling totally uneasy heading to the restroom, only to feel much more sick, with symptoms increasing and the room spinning extremely fast. The first thing that strikes little one!! Literally, I was lying on the bathroom floor and without much of a choice, ended up dialing 911 and passed out in the middle of the conversation. Yep, they broke two doors, got to me and woke me up, took my little one and called in one of my friends (that I just met few weeks ago) to take care of her.  All I remembered was being taking down 2 floors and ended up on a stretcher in the ambulance. The meds ripped my T-shirt sleeve to give me an injection and then I passed out. Imagine my mom's plight when she makes a call to me that morning, only to be answered by the county sheriff!!! Yep, she burst out and almost had a nervous breakdown. My hubby managed to make some calls from India to ask his friend and my cousin to get to the hospital to help me out. Oh God, what a nightmare it was!! What is the probability that something of this sort would happen when my hubby and our close friends are not in town.....almost slim to none. Anyway, after being warned by the ER docs about being discharged as per my request that afternoon, it did take me over a week and about 10 bottles of gatorade, to get back to normal routine.

I feel so much better now but my old addiction has kicked back in and I still have about 2 seasons of 24 to finish the series. So, I guess, things will be on a hold until I am done (just trying to clear my head to get back to focus on things, in general). Hoping that the worst is over and the remainder of the year has better things in store for me.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Drumstick Kulambu

Ya, I know, I have been under the radar for a while now!! Laziness has kicked in, these past few weeks, and all I wanted to do, was, to cuddle up in a cozy blanket and sip on some hot tea or a warm bowl of soup. Last week, I made this south-indian dish with drumstick in a coconut-based curry. It used to be one of my grandpa's favorites. My mom used to make it exclusively for him, although the rest of us enjoyed it too. All these years, I never bothered to learn it from mom as I kept thinking that the dish was too time consuming but apparently not!! This past week happened to be my grandpa's b'day and when I made this dish for the first time, I couldn't help but think of him and only kept wondering as to how much he would have enjoyed it.

Drumstick (also known as Moringa) is a vegetable used in South Asia. Most commonly used parts of the Moringa are the immature seed pods (called drumsticks) and the leaves (most nutritious part). The leaves contain a great source of vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin K and proteins. The immature seed pods are good source of dietary fiber and other essential nutrients. In South India, drumstick is used in preparing Sambar (made with vegetables, lentils, spices and tamarind pulp) and the leaves are sautéed with onions, garlic and red chillies with grated coconut (optional) similar to cooking with spinach.

In the U.S, I am told that drumsticks are available at certain asian supermarkets.I buy the frozen version as it is already cut into pieces and cooks way faster than the raw drumsticks. Kulambu is the south indian term for any kind of curry-based dish. So, here's a fairly simple, tasty and flavorful dish to add to your meal varieties!!


For the spice blend:

5-6 dry red chillies
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp channa dhal
1/2 - 3/4 cup grated coconut, fresh or frozen (adjust to taste, I used 3/4 cup)
Few curry leaves
1 - 2 tsp oil

For the kulambu (curry):

1 big onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 cup cut drumsticks, fresh or frozen (about 1 1/2" pieces)
1 - 1 1/2 tsp tamarind paste (adjust to taste)
Ground spice blend
Salt, to taste

For tempering:
1-2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Few curry leaves


In a pan, heat oil, add channa dhal and fry for 1-2 mins. Add dry red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and grated coconut. Fry for 3-4 mins and add curry leaves. Roast well and cool. Grind to a fine paste with little water. Set aside.

In a pan, add onion, tomatoes, turmeric, salt and water (approx. 1 1/2 - 2 cups). Allow it to boil on medium heat for 5-6 mins. After it starts to boil, add the cut drumsticks (usually I cook it in the microwave with water for 1 min) and boil for few mins. 

Add tamarind paste and mix well. Boil for another 3-4 mins. Add the ground paste and simmer for 5-6 mins until the raw smell is gone. 

In a small pan, add mustard seeds and curry leaves. After the mustard seeds starts crackling, pour it on the curry, mix well and cook for 1-2 mins. Serve hot with rice.

For a variation, use jackfruit seeds (needs to be boiled or pressure cooked) or indian eggplants instead of drumsticks.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Choco Bread Burfi

Its funny how you come across something unexpected when you are actually looking at stuff that is not even remotely related to what you just discovered. Well, this is one such recipe!! Diwali, this year, is on Nov 3rd, and is, just a few days away. I try and make couple different sweets every year apart from the usuals. Of course, I choose to make stuff that is not very time consuming but tastes delicious. When I first saw this video on tube (FYI, original video is in Hindi but towards the end, there is a quick recap partly in English), I couldn't wait to give it a try. It looked simple yet tempting enough to be on my to-try-out list. With slight changes, I was surprised that it turned out so good that my daughter couldn't stop with a small bite. 

The original recipe is almost vegan except for the usage of regular milk which can be easily switched to any non-dairy milk of your choice. Most of the indian sweets normally involve liberal use of ghee (clarified butter) but I was really happy to see a recipe that did not use that's a first!!!  The best part is that the ingredients are readily available in everyone's pantry, so what are you waiting for?? Trust me, you gotta try it out. It's definitely one of a kind and pretty darn good too!!

Adapted from Tea Time with Rakesh Sethi


2 1/4 cups breadcrumbs (approx. 4 slices - I used 12 grain bread)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, original (3/4 cup would work as well)
2/3 cup ground raw sugar
2/3 cup frozen shredded coconut, thawed 
2  tbsp chopped cashewnuts
1 - 1 1/2 tbsp blanched almonds, chopped
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
2 - 3 drops kewra essence (or rose essence or 1/4 tsp cardamom powder)
2 tsp oil + extra for greasing pan
Cashews or Almonds or Pistachios, for garnish


Cut the brown ends from the bread slices. Prepare the bread crumbs using a food processor or blender (pulse until crumbs are formed) with your choice of bread, preferably, white/wheat or any grain-based bread (plain, no flavoring).

In a large mixing bowl, add the bread crumbs, unsweetened almond milk and cocoa powder. Mix well and set aside until it softens.

In a pan, on medium-low heat, add the ground raw sugar and fresh or frozen grated coconut and cook until the sugar completely melts. 

As the mixture starts to thicken (takes about 8-10 mins or so), add the chopped cashews and almonds and mix well. Cook on medium low heat until the mixture starts to bind well.

Add the soaked bread to the coconut-nuts mixture and stir well. Add flavoring of choice (I used kewra essence - extract made from pandanus flowers). Cook on low heat until the moisture is totally absorbed. Add oil (or vegan butter) to the mixture and cook for 5 mins or so. The bread mixture starts forming a big lump without sticking to the sides. Remove from heat.

Line a non-stick or glass baking dish with parchment or wax paper. Grease with cooking spray or vegan butter. Spread the bread mixture on the pan and smoothen the top for an even layer.

Allow the mixture to reach room temperature and cool it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours (or freeze it for 1 hr). Cut into square or diamond shaped pieces. Garnish with nuts of choice (cashew halves/almonds or pistachios). Enjoy!!

Makes 16 pieces.