Friday, March 30, 2012

Baigani aka Brinjal Fritters

There is something sinful about fried foods - evil cousins of another sinful food "Chocolate"! ;) I have promised myself to eat healthy as much as possible with a resolution to remain vegeterian for this entire year but these two types of food are something I am not able to stay tempt-free from. Well, I am human being after all is my excuse else I would be! So here is my "Baigani" aka Eggplant\Brinjal fritter. Baigani is from Baigana, the Odiya word for Eggplant.

There is only so many items that I know to make with Eggplant and they get spoiled so quickly, so the moment I come back from grocery, it is like a "tick-tock" going on in my head if the Eggplants will end up as a food item or in the garbage! If I could get a cent for every Eggplant spoiled, I would definitely have a dollar by now! :p Enjoy the recipe!


Eggplant\Brinjal- 1 large
Gram flour\Besan - 1.5 cup
Ajwain - 1/2 tsp (aids digestion)
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp, as per taste
Salt - 1 tsp, as per taste
Bicarbonate soda - 1/2 tsp (optional, for fluffiness)
Fresh Ginger - 1 tsp, grated
Rice flour- 1tbsp (optional, for crunchiness)


Mix the dry ingredients Ajwain, Red chilli powder, Salt with gram flour.
Add 1/2 cup water at a time to make a slightly runny mixture (not watery) - add slowly so that you are not adding more water than required. Adding extra gram flour to make up for extra water later messes up the texture!
Add ginger and mix well.
Add the soda a few mins before frying and mix well.
A tbsp of rice flour will give it a crunchy texture (optional).

Cut the Brinjals into thin 1/2 inch slices.

Heat 2-3 cups canola oil for deep frying. When the oil becomes hot enough so that when you drop some gram flour mixture from above into the oil, it should rise to the top immediately.

Dip the Brinjal slices into the gram flour mixture one slice at a time and drop slowly and carefully into the hot oil.

Let it cook one side before tossing it over. It is done when it stops sizzling in the hot oil.

Watch the oil heat - keep changing it from High to Medium to make sure the fritters do not burn, oil does not smoke, temperature drops as the Brinjal slices are dropped into the oil so the heat needs to be adjusted to accomodated for that as well as making sure that the eggplants are well cooked. Use paper towel to soak away the extra oil from the fritters.

Flavor with rock salt for added tanginess!

Enjoy this while they are hot and crisp on a rainy day with bhel/mudi. Relishing them while warmly snuggled in the blanket with a good engaging book for company - oh, the world is all right! :) Look forward to hear from you about what is your comfort "world is all right!" moment.

Update on 04/13/2012:

This  goes to Surabhi's event "Let's Part Every Month" with this month's theme being "Snacks".The event page is here. Check out all the wonderful posts her event has received!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Maa's Simply Simple Aloo Dum

Warning: A blog post written about 2 years back :) Well, this is the same potato curry I clicked and posted with Poha on 3/18/ here is the recipe and some of my rant from 2 yrs! Enjoy..I did reading what I had to say but never did! ;) Have a great day, everyone! :)

Hello All!

Glad to be back blogging again! As always, life just took over and I did not have the patience to post even one recipe in the last few months. Thanks to all the readers for their comments from time to time which kept me in touch with this part of me - MY BLOG! Thanks to my friend Sonali and Silu apa for checking on the status from time to time. Sonali's comment that "everything always turns out good from your blog" was very inspiring.

Partly the reason for my absence is since we moved to the new house, I was a bit disorganized in terms of where the camera is, the data transfer cord is - not very streamlined as it was in my old house (though it was a smaller house, I still miss it!) where I could cook and post in minutes! Getting there in this house....hopefully soon.

To update on my whereabouts, after I cleared my thesis proposal last summer I managed to take a 6 weeks break from work and visit family in India. One would think by 6 weeks, I would be waiting to be back here - no, it was the opposite! Even though I have a great bunch of friends and work is just rocking with an awesome group of colleagues (you guys rock!), there is always such a vacuum you feel leaving the place you grew up in. Since I went back after 5 years, the parting was such a miserable feeling - a feeling of anxiety as to when I will be back again - will LIFE take over again and I will come back after 5 years again (touchwood! no way!). Felt so homesick with R busy on endless workdays - went ahead and called over Maa. It was such a blessing that she could come over and we had an awesome 3 months of summer with her. She did have a harrowing experience flying with Air India (word of advice to anyone even thinking of using that @#@$ airline - ^%^ off!) which I will post about some other day.

Ofcourse with Maa visiting, will cooking new delicacies be far behind. I am one person who can eat potatoes for all the three meals of the day! ;) So here is one of potato recipes - it tastes best with small potatoes and based on your need - have it dry or as a gravy-based dish. Hope you like it!

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

Potatoe - 8 small, boiled and cubed (horizontal cut, vertical cut and cut across half)
Onion - 1/2,chopped into long slices
Tomato - 2.5 medium ones, chopped
Fennel seeds - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 1.5 tbsp
Dry red chilli - 3
Bay leaves - 3
Green chilli - 4-5 whole, if anyone wants to crush it while eating for added hot taste
Onion-Ginger-Garlic paste - 3 tbsp (optional)
Coriander (Dhaniya) powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tbsp or as per taste

Cooking steps:

Heat oil. Add fennel seeds and let it splutter.
Add dry red chilli and bay leaves.
As it roasts, add the sliced onions.
When onion becomes transparent, add the onion-ginger-garlic paste and let it cook.
As the raw smell is gone, add the chopped tomatoes and let it cook. Keep stirring to avoid sticking to the sides of the utensil.
Add green chilli, turmeric, salt, coriander powder.
As the oil starts separating, add the boiled and chopped potatoes. Cook for a few minutes so that the potatoe is well-coated with the spice mixture. Add water, about a cup, and let it boil.

Note - If you want to have it dry, add a few tbsps of water and let it evaporate. Green peas can also be added for a different taste.

It can be garnished with fresh coriander leaves. However, we had it without the garnish and it was just awesome.

Serve with roti\paratha\puri\luchi!

While growing up, this used to be one of my favorite dishes for breakfast and/or dinner. Yes, I was a kid who liked only two vegetables, if they count as veggies - potatoe and cucumber! :) Simple soul food for me...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Nah..not the brand name! :P

Instead, can you guess where these pics were taken? They are from different places for sure - let's get the game going. Good luck and have a great week ahead! :)

Serene beach - which continent am I from?

Toll booth - I can be anywhere (ahem!)

You cheapshot - it does not cost extra to frame pics, you know, right? :p

Another beach! Where am I from? I stand alone furling and waiting for you to pay me some attention! :)

1st Pic was from Naraj near Cuttack, Orissa.
2nd Pic was a toll booth in Delhi towards Jaipur
3rd Pic was the view from a fort in Jaipur of the city - Jal Mahal is the palace surrounded by water.
4th Pic was a beach in Cancun, Mexico - what fine white sand and calm waters!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Iskcon Temple food in different corners of the world...

In mid-February, I got to visit my friend Kavita in Maryland. We have been friends for quite a few years now but never got around to visiting her - don't ask me why coz I really don't know! :) So when I visited her, we got to visit the the Hare Krishna Iskcon temple of DC. It was quite a surreal experience. Since it was a Sunday, we got to sit-in for a few minutes in their Open House talk. It was nice to see so many people taking part in it. Would love to visit again and attend the talk fully - really looking forward to the next trip there.

At the end of the talk, they have a vegeterian meal provided by the different volunteers. I always feel like so many of my other friends and family members that temple food has it's own significance and a flavor that cannot be replicated in anyone's kitchen. Such as during housewarming, the halwa that is shared after it has imbibed all the smells of the homam aka pyre is just out of this world. The pic below is from the meal we had in Iskcon temple, DC - it includes Rice with kadhi, veggie pakoda with a sweet and tangy Tomato chutney, Vegetable Kurma and Pineapple Sooji Halwa. And there was sweet semolina aka Simei which was again "just too good"!

Apart from the above, there was another instance where I had a great time having Iskcon temple food in Bhubaneswar, Odisha - my hometown - during one of my India trips. My mom's childhood friends Lipi Mausi and Noni Mausi took me there and that day will always remain as one of the most cherished moments of my life. They are such sweethearts and so much like my mom - always glad that my mom has them for company. I really look forward to see them during all my trips back home. Here are some pics of the Iskcon temple in Bhubaneswar and their "thali" (aka a plate of meal).

A little bit more information about the sanctity of the Hindu temple food and its norms is provided here. Proud to say that the biggest hotel in the world is holy kitchen in the Jagannath Temple Puri which serves daily multitudes of people and the food is prepared in the most hygienic and most indigenous of methods of cooking.

"Food plays a central role in rituals and worship in Hinduism, with the practice of offering food to deities ritualized in many famous temples in India. According to the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita, “The saintly persons get relief from all kinds of sins by partaking the food that has been first offered to gods as sacrifice. But those who prepare food for their selfish ends eat but only sins” (Bhagavad Gita 3:13).”   

The offering made by devotees to god is known as ‘Prasada’ in Sanskrit, and primarily consists of rice, vegetables, sweets and fruits. Onions, garlic, mushrooms and meat are generally not offered as prasada, as the Vedic scriptures and the Ayurveda system of traditional medicine list these foods as increasing the passionate elements (e.g. sexuality, ego) of the human mind and body. 

It is usual in a Hindu temple to prepare foods that are first offered to the deities, and left in their presence for a while to satisfy their spiritual hunger.  Thereafter the food becomes a sanctified prasad, which is distributed or even sold to the assembled devotees. Each temple has its own special prasad(s) established over a long period of time, and the quantities cooked daily at the popular temples are enormous. These temples often have huge dining areas to serve food to pilgrims."

During one of the India trips, my mom had made Dahi Bara - sharing a pic of the same. Recipe is here. Enjoy! :)

In one of my posts long time back related to Rasagolla and Chennapoda in this blog, I had mentioned about the Pahala village. Sharing some pics of the same taken for you all during one of my visits back home. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Life lessons...

A friend has recently shared with me one of her book. Though I usually prefer fiction for reading, I wanted to try this out. I could not stop reading and it was very insightful with some nice quotes and things to ponder about. If you get a chance, please do read it. I wish I had read it when I was in college. It is targeted for that age but reading it at any stage of life is insightful.

Few of the quotes from this book just to give you an idea of what to expect:
  1. "Jealousy is nothing but comparisons. It is not wrong to compare, but it is wrong to whip and hurt ourselves with comparison. See this distinction."
  2. Kaizen : continuous improvement which involves continuous learning.If we get stuck to what we have learnt then this process of continuous improvement will stop.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spicy "Chatty" Poha

Poha aka Chiwda aka flattened rice is a common breakfast item in our household. Something that was easy to gobble down while rushing out for school. And it is healthy and filling as well. Not that I looked forward to eating it as anything healthy meant you have to run miles from it. ;)

The breakfast version was where poha was soaked in hot water. By the way, we call Poha "Chudah". Once it slightly soft, remove the water from the Poha by pressing it with the palms of your hand and then mix with fresh home-made yogurt, banana, sugar and a pinch of salt. And some fresh cream would add the desired creaminess. Add some milk as well if it is too thick. Just writing this brings back so many memories of my breakfast with dad when in school\college. :)

On a related note, there is another type of Poha which is not soaked before mixing with the above things - it is quite crisp in texture. If I am not mistaken, it is toasted in a claypot with hot sand. Not sure if is the present process as well - this is how I had seen it being toasted as a kid. Don't blame me if it was something else and I am confusing it with Poha .. remember I was not blogging back then as a 6-7 year old or ever thought I would that I would pay as much attention! :))

Other than the above, there is a recipe where the Poha is cooked with onion and is called "Chudah Santula". Been long since I had it - should ask my mom for recipe, as always! It does not have any spice in it unlike the recipe below which is the more Maharastrian form of making Poha. My friend Meenal often makes it and I learnt from her the idea of adding Bhujia as garnish. It gives the whole dish a different twist. Over time, I have made different changes to the first recipe I picked up from someone\online and now it is one of our favorite weekend brunch. I make it a little extra to serve as weekday lunch at work as well - my treat! :)

Learn more about Poha from the wikipedia entry here.


Flattened rice \ Poha 4 cups
Turmeric powder - 2 tsp
Chilli powder - 2 tsp or less if you prefer very less heat

Canola oil - 2 tbsp
Curry leaves - 10 leaves
Cumin seed - 1/2 tsp
Mustard seed - 2 tsp
Dry red chilli - 6
Fresh Green chilli - 4-5, as per taste
Asaefoetida powder - few pinches (3-4)

Onion - 1.5 large, chopped
Ginger - 3 tbsp

Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Ground peanut - 1/2 cup or more as per your taste

For garnish:
Fresh coriander leaves - chopped
Fresh ground coconut


Soak Poha in lukewarm water for a minute.
Lightly pressing in your palm, remove the water from the Poha and keep it aside.
Add turmeric powder and chilli powder. Mix well as shown in pic below. Keep it aside while you do the rest of the cooking process. This let's the yellow color develop in the Poha.

Chop onion, chilli and grate the ginger.

Heat Canola oil.
Add Curry leaves, Cumin seed, Mustard seed and Dry red chilli.
As the mustard splutters, add fresh Green chill and chopped onion.
As the onion becomes translucent, add the grated ginger.
Add Asaefoetida powder - be careful not to put more than required of a few pinches else it turns the dish bitter. Putting the right amount gives out a nice smell and it aids digestion.
As this mixture is well cooked, add the poha-turmeric powder-chilli powder mix. Mix it all together nicely.

Cover and let it cook in Medium heat. Stir again and cover to let it continue cooking and the flavors to develop more.
Put off heat. Add the lemon juice and ground (roasted already) peanut. Cover and keep it aside for a few mins.

Before serving, garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves (optional), fresh ground coconut and Bhujia.

We had it with potato curry this morning! :) I always like to have mine with some spicy tomato ketchup as well. Enjoy the healthy filling Poha - let me know if get to try it out! Always look forward to hear back from my readers... :)

Also, I am trying to promote this blog and make it more social network-centric by making it visible in Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Following are the links for the same (also available in the sidebar): 

Follow me on Facebook

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Waiting for lil' birdie (literally!) ..

Last summer, one early weekend morning I wake up to a little knocking sound from outside the balcony door. It was a little scary assuming initially someone was trying to break in - mind can play strange games when things out of the ordinary happens. Only to realize a very sweet lil' beautiful bird was trying to play with it's mirror image on the balcony door. :) That was just the beginning..every morning for the next few months this birdie would visit us. After some time, I would get disappointed if the birdie would not come by.

Spring is here and I hope we get a similar visitor this year...a "natural" pet - no strings attached of requiring us to feed it or look for care-giver when we go on vacation! :) We have got an early Cherry Blossom this year - will try to get some shots to share with you all soon! Looking forward to visit DC sometime over the next few days and enjoy the grand splendour of the blossoms in full bloom. Enjoy the spring while it lasts - have a great time doing all the outdoor stuff! :)

Hello! Do you wanna take my pic?

Is this pose ok? Do not worry about the mess I have created here - the next rain will clear it all! :p

Am I modest or what?

Yoga - deep breathe and relax!

Lovin' it here! Trust me! :)

Mushroom curry

Some dishes always evade you no matter how much you try! Mushroom is one such vegetable - I love it's crunch and texture but making it to suit my taste has been a challenge. Some of my favorite mushroom dishes are my mom's "Chicken Ala King" and "Plain old mushroom fry". Both are just out of this world but sad that I can never replicate them! At least now I have dish below...the pic was taken using my latest iPhone 4S!

I am so excited about the new phone - still figuring out all the new features. I am having lot of interesting answers from "Siri" - it's automated voice recognition and response software. It has a good sense of humor for sure! :) It was funny going to the store and saying that I am upgrading from iPhone 2 without raising a few eyebrows. And one store clerk even went on insisting that I must have iPhone 3 assuming I was non-techie and did not know my phone - what an insult! :( I had to retort and say "I know what I have, trust me, my dear!" :) So that was my phone shopping experience - short and quick and eventful! Phone talk over - hope you enjoy the new mushroom recipe from my kitchen to yours.."Paula Deen" style! :)


Brown mushrooms - 1 box (Costco-size includes about 30 button mushrooms) - This tastes closer to the mushrooms we get in Odisha (thanks to hubby for pushing me to buy this and try out! :) )
Canola oil - 2 tbsp
Dry Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Dry Red Chilli - 2
Onion - 1 chopped, tiny
Ginger - 1 tsp
Garlic - 1 tbsp
Cinnamon - 1 stick
Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tbsp
Curry Powder - 1 tbsp
Tomato Paste - 2 tbsp

Salt, Chilli Powder - as per taste
Fresh Coriander Leaves - few sprigs, as per taste


  • Chop the button mushrooms into 2 pieces each. Put them into water that has been mixed with turmeric powder and salt (I even add some chilli powder) and let them soak as you cut the rest of the mushrooms. This will help clean it further (even though in Western cooking, they usually advice to not soak the mushrooms but just dab it with a wet towel - feel free to use this method of cleaning, if you prefer.)
  • In medium-high heat, add canola oil. Add dry cumin seeds and dry red chilli and let them splutter.
  • Add onion. 
  • As the onion browns and looks translucent, add the ginger and garlic paste. I use fresh ginger and garlic.Let it cook.
  • Add cinnamon stick and turmeric powder and toss.
  • As it gets mixed well, add coriander powder and curry powder and mix it well.
  • Add the tomato paste. To help it mix well, add a few drops of water.
  • Add salt and chilli powder as per taste. I wait till the end coz mushroom reduces a lot after cooking and the amount of salt needs to based on the final amount else you may over-salt the dish (experience, of course! ;) )
  • Reduce the heat to medium, cover and let it sit for about 5-10 mins till the mushroom is evenly well-cooked.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve with rice \ roti.
I had it for lunch with Coconut chutney and Rice and it was yummy (self-praise, ahem!) :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Hey All!

I have always got a taste for sprouts. But never got around to making some on my own. Lately due to health issues and the need to include more healthy foods in our diet, sprouts are the first that got added to my menu. My friend Meenal's mother recommended Methi (Fenugreek) seeds sprouts since they have innumerable medicinal benefits and very good for controlling blood sugar spikes. While waiting to lay my hands on Methi seeds, have started eating Moong sprouts.

My Maiin (Mami aka mother's brother's wife) used to serve sprouts to us when we were kids. That is the first recollection I have of ever having sprouts. If I remember right, she used to make it as a salad and serve for breakfast with lot of other delicacies. I have come a long way since then since the Moong sprouts alone are sufficient for a filling breakfast now. On a side note, I always think my Maiin should write books on natural remedies - wish she does some day! Much like how I wish my mom would write an Oriya cooking book - I can only hope someone will listen to me "some" day! :)

Right now, I have about 1/4th cup of sprout every morning before heading for work. It keeps me satiated till I reach work and have my proper breakfast. This way, I am not filling myself up with some sugary granola bar! To be honest, it took some learning and patience to get sprout-making right. Even though it is a very simple process, I am sharing it here just in case there are more people like me with similar mental-blocks!


1/2 cup of whole Moong (green gram lentil) gives me about 1.5 to 2 cups of sprouts which lasts me for 3-4 days


Soak the Moong in water in the morning before heading for work.
In the evening, drain the water and keep it in a dark place like a shelf or oven.
Note - Avoid Moong sprouting in well-lit places or it will turn bitter - I leave it inside the oven.
By the next evening or the day after, you will have well-sprouted Moong beans.

My joys had no bounds the first time I managed to get those long juicy sprouts! Happy sprouting! :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Egg fried rice of convenience :)

Sunday afternoon brings with it new levels of lethargy and I am guessing that's normal! Last leg of the weekend for the non-Dubai side of the world where of course the week has already started.

We started the day with big plans of completing 2-3 of the long overdue errands (not going into details of the same first not to bore you and also not to feel disheartened about missed goals...). Eventually it so happened we ended up watching up 'The constant gardener' movie and endless TV ( good tv for a change!) and did not even step out for lunch! On a side note, think I am changing these days to prefer homemade food over expensive tasteless restaurant food!

Also, I have gone vegetarian for this year, so my options are very limited these days - yes, that's some news from my end definitely and which will affect this blog content for this year where you will find some veggie food posts than ever before. Wish me luck- 2 months over, that gives me confidence that I can endure the next 10 months as well - don't you think so? Say yes even if you think otherwise! ;)

Ok, so we ended up having egg fried rice today. It is slightly different than the one I posted few years back, so I will go ahead and repost the same item in a different flavor..bear with me! :)

Cooked rice - 3 cups
Canola oil - 3 tsp
Finely chopped onion - 1 medium (red onion, in my recipe)
Frozen corn - 1/2 cup
Green peas (frozen) - 1/2 cup
Green onion - 5-6 stalks, chopped
Grated ginger - 1 tsp
Egg - 2 or 3 (I used 2)
Salt and pepper - to taste
Shan Chinese Egg fried rice powder - 1 tsp
Lemon juice from 1/2 lemon (fresh squeezed)

Heat 1tsp canola oil. When it is hot, add chopped onion. As the onion slightly browns, add he grated ginger. In a min or two, add the defrosted corn and green peas. Cook in medium heat till he raw smell is gone. Add little bit of lemon juice for the veggies to retain their color. Add salt and pepper as well. When the veggies are cooked, keep them aside.

Heat 1tsp oil. When the oil is warm, add the eggs and scramble them. When cooked, keep them aside. Make sure not to overlook the eggs.

Heat 1 tsp oil. Add the Shan masala and mix it in the oil. Add the cold cooked rice and mix it well with the oil-masala mix. Add the veggies and eggs kept aside from earlier and mix them. Add a pinch of turmeric powder for color (optional). Add chopped green onions and remaining lemon juice and mix well. Cover and let it remain in low heat for 2-3 mins. Add salt and pepper as per taste. I keep it covered for some more time like 5-10 mins before serving.

Serve with tomato sauce and chilli sauce. Even a spicy raita goes well with this. Bon appetite!