March 26, 2011

Eggless Pumpkin Apricot Cake

Initially I had planned  to use the apricot received as part of the Arusuvai Friendship Chain in a baking recipe. And I bookmarked few recipes too. I tried a cake using the recipe from Allrecipes. The original recipe was for two cakes. Since I wanted to bake a single cake, I halved the ingredients. I replaced eggs with flaxseed meal and used whole wheat flour (atta) in place of all purpose flour(maida). Except for these two changes, I have followed the original recipe. 

I chose this recipe since I have never baked with pumpkin puree.  Its just mixing the wet and dry ingredients and no creaming/whisking required here. Actually you can do all the mixing in one bowl as mentioned in the original recipe. Since I am used to doing it separately and also wanted to be sure that the wet ingredients are combined well for even distribution.


  • Dried apricots  -8 nos  1/4 cup puree
  • Pumpkin puree - 1 cup
  • Whole wheat flour - 2cups
  • Baking powder - 1 tspn
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tspn
  • Ground cinnamon - 1 tspn
  • Salt -1/4 tspn
  • Caster sugar  - 1 cup (I powdered granulated sugar not very fine)
  • Flax seed meal - 1 tblspn mixed in 4 tblspn of water
  • Vegetable oil - 1/4 cup


Prepare the apricot puree

Soak the apricots in boiling water for half an hour. Water should be enough to cover the apricots. Puree the apricots in a mixer grinder. Add some water while grinding. The puree should measure 1/4 cup. You can use the soaked water to make it to 1/4 cup.

Prepare the pumpkin puree
Take 250 gm of pumpkin. Peel and deseed the pumpkin and then chop it into cubes. Steam cook in the pressure cooker or microwave until it is tender. Puree the pumpkin to get 1 cup of puree.

To bake
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and sugar in a bowl.  In another bowl, add flax seeds mixed in water, apricot and pumpkin purees. Make a well in the centre of the fry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix until they are just combined. 

The batter consistency is similar to that of muffins. At first, I had mixed flax seed meal in 3 tablespoon of water. But I found the batter to be very thick and added. another tablespoon of water to get muffin batter consistency.

Bake in a greased and dusted tin at 180 C for 45 minutes or until the skewer inserted comes out clean

The cake was moist and airy. The cake is just sweet enough for my palate. If you prefer it be very sweet, then increase the sugar by 1/4 cup more. After tasting, I felt addition of a handful of nuts/tutti fruity/chocolate chips will be better to make it more than just a plain cake. Else a butter cream frosting would have complemented the cake well but decided not to go for it since I did not want to add more calories.

I will be sending mystery ingredients, as part of the Arusuvai Frienship Chain, to Rajani of Healthy Slurps and Rituparna of ChocolatesAndDreams

March 22, 2011

Beetroot Aur Mewa Pulao ~ Arusuvai Friendship Chain Season II Recipe

Arusuvai friendship chain season II is back. Thanks to Sayantani for reviving it. This friendship chain was kick started by Lathamma and Srivalli and Bharthi took it forward. In the first season, I received the mystery ingredient from Gaurav and I had sent to Harini/Sunshinemom. And I am glad I could be a part of this during the second season too. 

I received a lovely parcel from Veena . She sent me a lovely recipe book along with a hand written letter. Thank you so much, Veena. The book that came with the ingredient is right for the season with summer recipes from Chef. Sanjeev Kapoor. Veena mailed me saying she forgot to scratch the ingredient name in the hurry to mail the parcel. So asked me to take a guess at the ingredient with out looking at the label. On the first look, I thought it to be dried dates. But on closer look, I knew it was apricot. I made two dishes using the apricot. I made a pulao and had packed it for my husband's lunch box.  My  husband who doesn't give a feedback unless asked for, remembered to tell me the lunch was good, when he was back  from office. 

I followed the recipe from here and had scaled down the ingredients quantity to suit the amount of rice I had

You need

  • Basmati rice/ any long grain rice - 1 cup (I used Surti Kolam)
  • Water - 2 cups
  • Beetroot - 2 small ones
  • Ghee - 2 tblspn
  • Pepper - 15 nos
  • Bay leaves - 2 nos, torn
  • Onions - 2 medium, julienned
  • Raisins - 2 tblspn
  • Almonds,cashews - 10 each
  • Apricot - 5 nos, quartered
  • Fig - 5 nos
  • Garam masala - 1/2 tspn
  • Mint leaves - 10 nos
  • Salt to taste


Wash and soak rice in 2 cups of water for half an hour. Heat ghee in a kadai or thick bottomed vessel. I used pressure cooker vessel. Add pepper,bay leaf and onions. When onions turn pink, add raisins, cashew, almonds, fig and apricot. Saute for few seconds. Drain the rice and reserve the water.Add rice, saute for three  minutes and then add the drained 2 cups of water.  Bring it to a boil. Add salt, garam masala and torn mint leaves. Cover and cook on a medium heat. When the rice is half cooked, add the grated beetroot and gently mix. Cover and continue to cook till it is done.

After adding the grated beets, don't mix it thoroughly. Give a gentle mix so that the rice doesn't turn red fully. And you will have shades of light red and dark red in rice as shown in the original recipe. I gave a thorough mix only to realise later what the 'mix lightly' in the recipe intended. This is only for the visual appeal and doesn't affect the taste at all.

If you find the water is less, you can add little amount of water so that it cooks well and also doesn't get stuck at the bottom.

This dried fruits and nuts beet pulao  along with a bowl of raita and roasted potatoes made a tasty lunch. The pulao did not taste on the sweet side even with the beet and the dried fruits added to it. The pepper sufficiently balances the taste.

P.S. Sayantani could not assign any blogger so that I can send the ingredient and keep the chain going. She says she either doesn't have the confirmation or the address of the blogger to give me. So, if any of you would  like to receive from me, please send your mailing address to Sayantani at - You can leave a comment here and I shall co-ordinate with Sayantani and get in touch with you.

March 17, 2011

Low Calorie Dum Aloo Benarasi

People who dislike potato are hard to find. Though potato is a much favored veggie, I don't cook them often in my kitchen. I  rarely cook potatoes on its own. Mostly, its paired with other veggies so that I need to use only one. I buy only half a kilo of potatoes at a time. And that might last formore than a week or so. Here the vegetable vendor will double check if I wanted only half kilo since people usually buy more than a kilo at a time. When I come across baby potatoes in the market, its hard to resist. I invariably buy them. I make dum aloo which uses curd in it. Once I came across this recipe at Tarladalal's and wanted to try it. I did not deep fry it as in the original. Though there is some work involved in it, with little planning, it can be done easily and is worth all the effort that goes in.

  • Baby potatoes - 12 nos
  • Oil - 2 tblspn for shallow frying 
For the gravy
  • Garlic - 3 cloves
  • Ginger -1 inch
  • Dry chillies - 6 nos
  • Cashew - 2 tblspn
  • Cumin/jeera - 1 tspn
  • Saunf/fennel seeds - 1 tspn
  • Tomatoes - 3 nos
  • Water - 1.5 cups

  • Butter - 1 tblspn
  • Cardamom powder - 1 tspn
  • Kasuri methi - 1 tblspn
  • Sugar - 1 tspn

For Garnish
  • Fresh Cream - 1 tblspn (optional)
  • Chopped Coriander leaves
Wash and scrub the potatoes clean. Boil the potatoes till fork tender. You can pressure cook for one whistle. Also you can microwave for 5 minutes. Prick the potatoes with a fork. Heat oil on a non stick pan and add the cooked potatoes. Shall fry till the skin wrinkles. Keep it aside.
Heat oil in a kadai. Add all the ingredients for the gravy. Simmer till the tomatoes are cooked and turn pulpy. Cool and grind the mix to a smooth puree.

Heat butter. Add cardamom powder and the gravy.  Cook till the gravy simmers and the fat separates and floats on top. Then tip in the shallow fried aloo, kasuri methi and sugar.Cook till the gravy thickens and the potatoes have soaked in the flavors. Add a tablespoon of cream and garnish with coriander and serve hot with some phulkas/rotis.

P.S Though I have used 6 dried red chillies, the dish was not much on the spicier side. It could be the variety of the chilli. Adjust the chillies according to the variety you use and the spice levels that suit your palate.

March 16, 2011

Eggless Carrot Cake ~ Butterless, Low Fat & Healthy

Carrot cake is one of the first few cakes I baked. During those beginning days, I stick to the recipe and never attempted to make any changes. Then after few attempts and reading many more recipes in various blogs, I started tweaking the recipe. This recipe is a result of my attempt to use whole wheat flour, low fat, healthy cake.

  •  Wheat flour - 1 cup
  • Sugar - 3/4 cup
  • Grated carrots - 1 cup
  • Refined Oil - 1/3 cup (I used rice bran)
  • Buttermilk - 3/4 cup
  • Vanilla essence - 2 tspn
  • All spice powder -1/2 tspn  (Combo of cinnamon,star anise, cloves powdered together)
  • Baking powder - 1 tspn
  • Baking soda - 1 tspn
  • Chopped nuts/tutti fruity - 1/2 cup


Sieve together maida, baking powder, soda and spice powder. Add oil, sugar and buttermilk. Whisk until its smooth and is well combined. Now fold the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing with each addition.

Transfer the batter to a greased and dusted cake tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.


The cake is very soft and moist. Since the cake on its own is very sweet, there isn't any need for frosting.  I baked one batch in an aluminium foil box to be taken for a friend.


March 15, 2011

Suruttai Poli for Indian Cooking Challenge

The challenge for the month of February was Suruttai Poli,  the recipe given by Nithya's mom. Srivalli also gave the recipe link at Pavithra's who has blogged the same sometime back. The recipe is a simple one. The only challenge is to fry the pooris soft and roll them before they turn crisp. I made with 1 cup of flour. So it was easy. When it is to made in large quantities, it will be better if you have another person to tag along. So while one rolls the pooris, the other can fry and fold it. Else it will be very time consuming. I went through Pavithra's recipe and noted the tips given by her. It was very helpful. Also I went by her measurements for the filling, which was enough for the polis I made. Even if you have some left over filling powder, you can simply eat it as it is or add some warm ghee over and roll it into ladoos.

I like to finish the whole work in one batch. So I prepared the  dough and left it to rest for half an hour. Meanwhile, did the filling. And I could finish the whole process in less than an hour.

You need
For filling -
  • Roasted gram/Pottukadalai/ - 1/2 cup
  • Sugar - 1/2 cup
  • Cashews,broken into bits - 1 tblspn
  • Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
  • Fresh grated coconut - 1 tblspn
  • Ghee - 2 tsp
For Papad/Poori

  • Maida (all purpose flour) - 1 cup
  • Salt - a pinch
  • Oil - for frying
  • Water to prepare the dough
  • Extra maida for dusting

Method for filling:

Powder the roasted gram and sugar together. Heat 2 teaspoons of ghee in a pan. Roast the cashews bits and coconut till it starts to brown. Remove from fire. Add the powdered mix and stir to mix well. Transfer to a bowl. Filling is ready.

Making pooris and the final assembly
Take all purpose flour and salt in a bowl. Prepare the dough by adding water in parts. The consistency is that of the chapathi dough. Leave it aside for half an hour.

Divide the dough into 12 balls. Roll each ball into thin pooris. Make sure it is not thick, else will puff up like a normal poori. These pooris should not puff and small bubble like puffs here and there is fine.

Roll all the pooris and leave it on a paper to dry.

Heat oil in a kadai. When the oil is hot, adjust the heat to medium. Start with the pooris rolled first. Gently slide the poori into the hot oil. don't press it using the spatula, since it will puff up. Also ladle oil over the poori from the sides. Don't flip the poori. Frying each poori should take only few seconds. Drain and leave it on a plate. Quickly spread a heaped tablespoon of the filling on to the poori and start rolling from one end.

The poori will be very soft at this stage. By the time you roll, you can feel it getting crisp. On cooling, it will turn crisp.  The polis were very tasty and it got over with in a day.



March 12, 2011

Carrot Kheer/Payasam

Red, juicy carrots are in season and these varieties are prefect for Gajar ka halwa. And the weather is best for warm desserts. Another warm dessert is the delicious kheer. Its very easy to make and no grating involved as in halwa. It gets done with minimal effort. Here is how I make it.

You need
  • Carrot - 4, long ones
  • Milk - 500 ml
  • Sugar- 1/2 cup
  • Ghee - 1 tspn
  • Raisins,Cashews - 1 tblspn
  • Cardamon powder -1/4 tspn

Wash and peel the carrots. Cut into half inch thick roundels. Cook the carrots with 1/4 cup of milk in the pressure cooker. Leave the cooked carrots to cool. Puree the carrots not so very fine. Boil the milk and stir in the carrot puree. Cook till the milk+carrot mixture thickens. Add sugar and it will thin the kheer. Boil till it starts thickening. Add roasted cashews, raisins and cardamom powder. Remove from fire. Serve warm or chilled as you wish.

P.S - Grinding some cashewnuts along with carrots will give a more rich and creamier kheer.


March 9, 2011

Strawberry in two avatars - Milkshake and Shrikand

I am putting the strawberry season to full use. And this is the first time I have access to strawberries which doesn't cost a bomb. And we are nearing the end of the strawberry season here. I have frozen quite a few and made two bottles of jam. The easiest way to use them is to make milkshake for breakfast. Its made atleast twice in a week during the season. Occassionaly, I make strawberry flavored Shrikand too. That is also quite easy except that hung curd has to be made. Often I forget to reserve the curd to prepare hung curd and by the time I realise I would have churned the curd to make buttermilk. At home, we prefer buttermilk than curd. Though the plain Shrikand is not much favored by husband, he loves the strawberry flavored one. So here is two super easy recipes with strawberry. In fact, there isn't much to write about  in terms of the recipe. Here is I how I make it.

Strawberry Milkshake

You need
  • Strawberries - 10 -12 nos
  • Chilled milk - 2 cups
  • Sugar - 2 tblspn (Or use honey)

Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut into halves. Blend the halved strawberries along with sugar to fine puree. Add the chilled milk and pulse for few second. Pour into glasses and chill it if you are not serving immediately.

Strawberry Shrikhand

You need
  • Hung curd - 1 cup
  • Strawberries - 8 to 10 nos
  • Sugar - 2 tblspn
  • Cardamom powder - 1/2 tspn
To get hund curd, take 4 cups of curd in a cheese cloth. Tie it and hang it to drain the whey or the liquid in the curd. What remains is the creamy curd. I usually hang it in inside the fridge so that the curd doesn't turn sour.

Puree the strawberries with sugar. Beat the curd till smooth. Add the sweetened strawberry puree. Mix well. Finally add cardamom powder. Chill and serve. Garnish with chopped pistachios/almonds/chiroli  while serving

March 5, 2011

VazhaiPoo Vadai ~ Banana Blossom fritters

Banana blossom/Vazhai poo is usually made into a pitlai or usli at home. Very rarely, I make vadai with these. I mainly cook the vazhai poo for its nutrients and I feel deep frying will not yield the same result.  But at times, you tend to throw all the nutrition and health benefits out of the window and decide to go for a deep fry indulgence.  This vadai is more popular in TamilNadu.

Yields - 12 nos

You need

  • 1 medium sized banana flower - picked and finely chopped
  • Chana dal / Kadalaparuppu - 1 cup
  • Tuvar dal - 1 tblspn
  • Red chill- 2 nos
  • Saunf /Fennel seeds- 1 tspn
  • Green chilli - 3 nos
  • Curry leaves - few sprigs
  • Turmeric - a pinch
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil to deep fry


Pick the florets, clean and chop them finely. Soak it in water mixed with buttermilk till you use it. Soak chana dal and tuvar dal for an hour. Drain.

Steam cook the chopped flower with a pinch of turmeric and salt for 10 minutes. You can microwave it for 5 minutes. Squeeze to remove extra water if any.

Grind the dal coarsely. Dry roast red chilli and saunf and powder it.   

Take a bowl. Add the ground dal, powdered red chilli and saunf, steamed banana flower, chopped green chilli, curry leaves and salt. You may not need to add water to prepare the batter. The moisture from dal and the flower will be  enough. Heat oil in a kadai. When hot, pinch lemon sized batter and pat into disc on your palm or greased plastic sheet or banana leaf. Slide into the hot oil and fry till it is brown and crisp.




March 2, 2011

Banana Blossom/Vazhai Poo - How to clean and a recipe -Vazhai Poo Pitla

All the parts of banana tree is useful in one way or the other- Bananas - raw or ripe, stem, flower, leaves,  strings taken out from the bark like for garland making. Banana blossom/flower has high nutritional value and is considered as an effective medicine for menstrual disorders. It relieves  painful menstruation and also helps in increasing the progesterone hormone there by reducing excess bleeding.

Though,many knows about the benefits of the flower, there is some reluctance when it comes to cooking them because of the cleaning work involved.  I don't mind the extra work and the resulting stain on my fingers and nails. While I was at Palakkad, I always made it to a point to cook banana stem or flower at least once in 10 days if not every week. But after moving to Pune, I did not find them initially. Later we discovered a Tamilian vegetable vendor, who is quite far the place we stay. Luckily, the shop is near to my husband's office. So I get them now not very frequently as I would have liked it to be.

Now on to the cleaning process. First oil your palm so that it doesn't stain your fingers.  Also keep a bowl of water with few teaspoons of buttermilk mixed in. The cleaned flowers will be added to this water to avoid discolouring. Also it helps to remove the stains in the flower. You can turmeric if you don't have buttermilk.

Remove the brown cover. You can find yellowish white florets inside. Pull the bunch out.

Take a flower and  slightly rub it between your fingers. You can see the stamens inside. There will be one which is very thick and has a black head. We call it 'Kallan' in Tamil. Pull that out. It has to be discarded. These hard ones will make the dish taste bitter.
 If you feel the outer covering very thick and plastic like, it can be discarded for first few layers. As you move to the inner layers, the outer covering of the flower will be soft.  Towards the innermost layers, the outer covering will be white and not very fibrous. At that stage, you can chop the remaining flower as it is. Take all the cleaned florets and chop it finely.

Vazhai poo vadai, paruppu usli are some of the recipes which can be made with this. I am sharing a pitlai using the flower. These flowers have a slight bitter taste to it. And cooking in tamarind, removes that bitterness.

Now on to the recipe

You need
  • Finely chopped Banana flower - 1 cup, packed
  • Tuvar dal - 1/2 cup
  • Tamarind - lemon sized
  • Turmeric - a pinch
  • Salt to taste
  • Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Curry leaves for garnish

To roast and grind
  • Urad dal - 2 tspn
  • Chana dal - 2 tspn
  • Red chilly - 4 nos
  • Hing - a tiny piece
  • Oil - 1 tspn

To temper
  • Oil - 1 tspn
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tspn
  • Red chilly - 1, broken into two


Pressure cook tuvar dal till soft. Mash and keep it aside.  Soak tamarind in warm water for 10 minutes. Extract the pulp and add another cup of water. Take the tamarind water in a pot and add turmeric and salt to it. When the tamarind water starts boiling, add the chopped banana florets. Let it cook till the florets turn soft. Heat oil in a kadai. Add hing piece. When it is fried ,remove and add urad dal, chana dal. When it starts
browning, add the red chillies. When chillies change color, remove from fire. Cool and grind it along with the grated coconut to a smooth paste. Add water while grinding. If you are using hing powder, add it towards the end  else it will get burnt on roasting.

Add the cooked and mashed dal, ground coconut paste to the cooked tamarind mix. Adjust the salt and let it simmer for few minutes. Season with mustard seeds and red chillies and garnish with curry leaves.