September 18, 2007


Coconut Buns and stuffed Aloo Parathas are my entries to Coffee of "The Spice Cafe" blog. Her event is "Monthly blog patroling" for "Bread" this month.Thanks Coffee!:)

My first bread for MBP:
Ever since I saw these Coconut Buns at Pushpa's blog last year, my kids wanted to have these but then I forgot to bake them until Coffee said "bread" this month!!:D
I would say if you want any baked goods,you should visit Pushpa's blog. She has a great collection of cookies and cakes over there, some are Malaysian style. Look for "Weekend Baking Session" for sweet goodies!:)

What better time to choose and bake these yummy Buns! They were as delicious as I had imagined they would be.I followed the making and baking instruction mostly as it is in her blog except added little Vanilla essence to the dough.(Kids, again!:P)

For filling: To make it easy on me, I sprinkled 1 tsp Cinnamon pd to 1 cup sweetened coconut,2 tbsp brown sugar and 1 tsp of dark Molasses, heated for 30seconds in the Microwave to mix. Baking is at 375F for 18-20mins.

Coconut Buns, from Pushpa of "PuSiVa's Culinary Studio" blog:

I had posted a Cardamom-Raisin quick buns without Yeast few months back which I love, these are similar but made with Yeast,hence very soft and tender.Make sure you use fresh Yeast for the best result. Enjoy!:)


My second and a successful choice of bread for MBP, Aloo Parathas:
I love Aloo Parathas and I tried several times to make stuffed Parathas but always failed with filling spilling out all over the place and making a mess on the kitchen counter.I just gave up on these.Then I saw Kajal's thick and delicious Parathas with recipe she got from Pooja's blog.I decided to give it a try one more time using Kajal's photos as guide and stuffing method.
They came out so well and delicious without spilling as you can see, these will be on the menu regularly now!! I added a little Turmeric to the Potato filling for color. Excellent!! Thanks Kajal and Pooja!:))

I followed the folding method of making Aloo Parathas exactly as she has shown from Kajal of "Kajaldreams" blog:

Kajal made her Aloo Parathas with recipe from Pooja's blog. Original recipe for Aloo Parathas is from Pooja of "Creative Pooja" blog.

Secrets to the best Aloo Parathas I learnt this time;
1. Make the filling very dry,add powders,chillies and mash Potatoes very well to a smooth dough without lumps.
2. Let the Paratha dough rest for atleast30mins.
3. When stuffing ,make sure there are no air pockets between the dough and the filling. If there is a air pocket,it bursts when rolling out the Parathas after stuffing!Look at Kajal's photos. Eureka moment for me!!!:D
4. Use non-stick pan with little oil sprinkled on both sides of the Parathas for a golden color to avoid using too much oil.

Finally, my favorite aromas in my kitchen are;
1. Baking bread,
2. Aroma of Cinnamon and Sugar,
3. Garlic and onions frying!!:D

That's about it, you will get a perfect stuffed Aloo Parathas, better than the ones you get in the restaurants!!

September 14, 2007


Grapes and Tapioca pudding served on pastry, is my contribution "A fruit a month aka AFAM" which is started by Maheswari of "Beyond the usual" blog.This month's guest host is our sweet "Swapna from "Swad of India" blog with her choice of fruit "Grapes".Thanks for hosting Swapna!:))

This is also my contribution to Marta of "An Italian in the US" blog. Her event is "Fresh produce of the Month" and her choice this month is "Grapes" as well! Easy for us, thanks Marta!:)

Beautiful juicy and seedless Tri-color Grapes!!

Grapes grow in clusters of 6 to 300, and can be black, blue, golden, green, purple, red, pink, brown, peach or white. White grapes are evolutionarily derived from the red grape.Grape helps to lower cholesterol levels in the body and thus slows the build up of deposits in the arteries.Grapes have been positively linked to fighting cancer, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease and other ailments. Dried grapes are also called Raisins,Sultanas, Currants and Grapes are used to make Wine, which is found to be helpful in fighting Heart diseases if Wine is consumed everyday in moderation.Info from WIKIPEDIA.

Tapioca-Grapes Pudding on quick baking Crescent pastry drizzled with Grape jam:

You need:
1 can of Pillsbury Crescents pack or any kind of crust you like or even a slice of cake will do too, 1 large tub of Tapioca pudding (store-bought or homemade), 2 cups of washed,dried Grapes, chopped into smaller pieces and 1/4 cup Grape Jam ,thinned slightly with with litter water or any juice.

How to make the dessert:
1. Open the can of Crescent, spread on sheet withot separating the triangles,seal a rectangle in the middle.Gather the edges,squeeze to seal like a cup and bake as instructed on the pack.Cool.
2. Chop Grapes and mix with pudding and keep aside. Thin the Grape a little to make it spreadable.Keep it in the firdge until you are ready.
3. Just before serving, place a baked crescent shell on a plate, spoon some pudding along to the lenght of the pastry and drizzle with jam.

That's it! Enjoy. Makes a great light dessert after a meal!


Basic Tomato sauce cooked in the Microwave is my entry for the event "Easy cooking with Microwave" which is launched by Srivalli from "cooking4all seasons" with a theme of "Basics" this month. Thanks for hosting Srivalli!:))

Basic Tomato sauce which can used in a myriad of dishes!

Though it is botanically a fruit, the tomato is nutritionally categorized as a vegetable. Tomato has an acidic property that is used to bring out other flavors. This same acidity makes tomatoes especially easy to preserve in home canning as tomato sauce or paste.
Lycopene, one of nature's most powerful antioxidants, is present in tomatoes, and, especially when tomatoes are cooked, has been found beneficial in preventing many disease.Info from WIKI.

Here is the step by step of how to make it:

1. Choose about 10 to 15 ripe red Plum Tomatoes or any kind with thick pulp ones.Wash and dry them. With a knife, puncture the skin of each Tomato in 3-4 places to avoid them bursting in the Microwave.
2. Add all of them in a deep microwaveable bowl with 1 cup of water,cover with little gap on top and cook on high for 20mins.Take the bowl put and let it cool for 15mins.
3. Now take a plate and peel the skin (very easy now the Tomatoes are cooked and skin separated) and squeeze the pulp gently to remove the seeds (which makes the sauce sour if you don't), add to a blender.
4. When done with all of those, grind the sauce until very smooth.Let it cool completely.
5. Pour in a clean jar, store in the fridge. Shake or stir the sauce before using and use it within a week!

Ready to go!!:))

Some of the dishes you can with this sauce:
Marinara sauce,
Tomato Paneer,
Aloo Tamatar,
Any gravy which needs a little color and tang,
Tomato Saaru/Sambhar,
On Pizza and Pies,
Any pasta dishes,

September 11, 2007


Egg Kottu Paratha flavored with Mustard seeds and Mustard powder along with other spices is my contribution to Sunita from "Sunita's World" blog's "Think Spice..Think.." event.This month's spice is "Mustard seeds", thanks for hosting Sunita!:)

Mustardy Egg Kottu Paratha!:)
Kottu Paratha is a south Indian dish, also very popular in Sri Lanka as street cart snack, similar to Pasta Marinara but using Parathas for Pasta with spicy Indian sauce or like Gujarati Dal Dhokli with a thicker sauce!!

I have seen Kottu Pratha in so many blogs,I always wanted to make this dish but never saved any Parathas to make it. Well..I made 2 parathas just for this and whipped out this mostly following the direction given in the cookbook below, adding extra brown mustard pd.YUM!! You can skip the Egg if you like!
For Parathas; you can make either Malaysian Roti Canai or layered wheat Parathas.

Gather all these first:

2 leftover or freshly made Parathas chopped into 1" squares, 2 sliced tomatoes, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tbsp ground mustard powder(store bought or ground at home),1/4 tsp Turmeric,1/4 tsp chilli pd, 1 tsp coriander powder, salt to taste, cilantro to garnish, 1 egg.
For seasoning:
1/2 tbsp oil, 1 tsp Mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 large red onion chopped fine,1-2 green chillies, few curry leaves and 2 tsp ginger and Garlic paste.

How to make Kottu Paratha:

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil, add 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 chopped green chillies, a few curry leaves, chopped onion, and fry until onion is golden.Add ginger-garlic paste,fry for a minute.
2. Add egg, let it scramble and then add all the spices and tomatoes. Fry for two minutes.
3. Add Paratha pieces, mix well, garnish with cilantro, and serve with pepper and lemon slice.

Another look of delicious Kottu Paratha:



Show me your cookbooks!!

Nagu from "cooking and me" blog has come up with the idea of a event called "Show me your cookbooks", where you showcase one of your cookbooks and ask us to write what we think of the book. That is a delight to me because I have literally hundreds of cookbooks, it's easy to choose many as my favorites!! Thanks for a great idea and for hosting Nags!:)

Here it is, one of my favorite "honest to goodness" Cookbook!!:D

I accidentally came across a website one day when browsing, which was selling these cookbooks by Mallika Badrinath, who was not at all familiar to me at that time. Her books were not very attractive to look at first and then I thought of testing one or two first because they cost way less than the other books to buy them.Once I looked through these,I was hooked and bought most of her books and still buying them!! Apparently, she is very popular in Tamilnadu and her books and her spice products are well liked! I was late to catch up with rest of the World!!:)

Why do I like her books?! Because she is a very good cook as I can see, a great author(well written recipes) and although her books are not well bound,no photos inside, not glossy and fancy like some of the books,the recipes are very down to Earth, to the point and a delight to try. Most of the dishes I have tried were very good,some didn't work for me but that's okay!! You can't expect 100% success in everything, 98% is quite good too!:D

So I choose this book for this month to show you and I also chose the above recipe from this book too with my own additions and changes.It doesn't really have the "Egg Kottu Paratha" exactly but a recipe for making plain flour Parathas and a Egg Kottu recipe to use with Parathas.I combined the two to make Egg Kottu Paratha!! It was delicious.

Some more additions to Nag's event:

Mallika Badrinath's Microwave cooking:
Great recipes and a good book to follow, as long as you keep the basic rules of Microwaving in mind like not using metal utensils and plastic while cooking! Another gem of a book from the above author.

Four Ingredient cooking by Joanna Farrow:
Great book if you like minimum ingredients and maximum flavor!! The book includes many veg, non-veg, desserts and Bread recipes too with just four ingredients and works very well for those who are tired and want a quick meal, provided if you have all the ingredients!:)

Lastly, Kebabs, Chutneys and Breads by Davinder Kumar:
An excellent book to buy, keep and cook, a non-vegetarians delight, with some vegetarian dishes and Naans too. An authentic array of traditional North Indian fare, the author is a chef for Oberoi group of hotels, also worked in Japan and France and in the food business for more than 30yrs!

Have fun!:))

September 7, 2007


Nandita of "Saffron trail" blog is hosting the monthly event "Weekend Breakfast Blogging #15" this Sept. This month's theme is "cooking with Leftovers".Tomato Chitranna, a ever popular breakfast for all Kannadigas or should I say for most South Indians, made with leftover rice (or freshly cooked rice too) is my entry to this event.Thanks for hosting Nandita!:)

Chitra anna in Kannada literally means Colorful rice. You can make this in many variations with Lemon juice, Tomato and grated green Mangoes as well.This is also a quick dish to make in a hurry in the morning. Usually, Chitranna is made with leftover long grain or Sona Massoori rice,heated and mixed with rice for a quick breakfast. It takes about 25 mins to make the whole dish and with some Cashews or Peanuts,it's healthier too. Enjoy.

Tomato Chitranna:

You need about 6 cups of leftover rice, reheated in the morning and grains separated and spread in a wide pan or cook 2 cups of any rice you like,my choice is long grain here which tastes better mixed with Tomato masala.I add 2 cups of rice in a large glass bowl, add 3 1/2 cups water and microwave it uncovered for 15mins on high and cover with lid and microwave again for 5 mins with 5o% power. Now, prepare the Tomato masala.
When the rice is hot,add to a wide pan (Paraat you use for making chapati dough),spread it and let it cool.

You need all these+1/4 cup Peanuts or Cahewnuts and 1/4 tsp turmeric(I forgot to add here in the photo!):

1-2 onions thinly sliced, few Cilantro, 3 plum or 20 Cherry or any kind of Tomatoes you have, salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric.
Season: 2 tbsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, few curry leaves,1/4 cup Peanuts or 4 tbsp Cahewnuts, 1 tbsp each of Chana dal, Urad dal, Greengram dal(Moong dal), 3-4 green chillies.

How to make it:

This process with take about 15-17 mins, while the rice is cooling. Heat oil in big pan enough to hold the rice, add seasoning ingredients one by on, and fry until peanuts and green chillies get roasted well to reddish color.Add sliced onions,fry until soft and slightly red on the edges,add salt and tomatoes,fry for another 5 mins.Tomatoes don't have to cook completely,tastes better if they are soft and not mashed.Your Tomato masala is done.

Now, take the cooled rice and add to the dish to mix or add the masala to the rice platter and mix well.Adjust the salt and your Tomato Chitranna is ready!! Enjoy with yogurt raita and Potato crisps if you like!

Have a great weekend, see you all on Monday!:))

September 5, 2007


Here is my own first hand experience of going through the LASIK Custom Wavefront surgery! Lot of you wanted to know the details so you can make your own decisions to go thru' this surgery as well. I must say here that what I write here is just my experience, with photos I found on the internet and some links to great websites to further read about LASIK. LASIK procedures must be done by a qualified and experienced Ophthalmologist who is trained in LASIK and operating for few yrs.Make sure to ask lot of questions and take your time in decided whether to have it or not.For me, it was a bliss not to wear specs after 25yrs and suffer frequent headaches.So read my experience, educate yourself with links I have provided and more before you make your own decision.I highly recommend it if you are a good candidate for LASIK, it has been the best for me personally, with very little discomfort.

Here I go with step by step as I experienced with my LASIK surgery!

"For General Lasik Requirements and Evaluation with an Ophthalmologist" info,please click here and above photo is from this site as well.

My journey to the bright and clearer Universe:
I have been wearing Myopic specs(couldn't see at all far more than about 2 feet infront of me although I could read fine) for 25yrs,since I was 17yrs old.My left eyesight was -7.5 and my right eye was -9.75!! It was way beyond the normal vision.LASIK was a necessity for me, much more than cosmetic improvement!! Although I didn't have any major problems,it was very inconvenient and always gave me a slight headache whenever I focused on too much like reading, which is my life line!:D

When I decided to have the LASIK done few years back, FDA(US) had just approved the procedure and my husband who is a Internist, asked me to wait for few more years just in case. And this year,it just felt that it's time for LASIK and I consulted my regular eye doctor and he recommended me to a Surgeon who has been a pioneer in the area of LASIK and ICL, has been operating for many yrs with great success.

I made a appointment with him. They checked me for all the requirements(above) and my medical history which went well.I have been as healthy as a horse all these yrs,never been to the hospital for anything before except of course to have my two babies!
After going thru' many tests and measuring the depth etc,he decided that I am not a candidate for Intraoccular Lens(insert a soft contact inside the eye which is the latest procedure) but he will try his best with LASIK to fix my problem 100% which he said was not easy bcos of very poor sight on the right eye! Being a doctor's family, we always get a tiny little more special attention than the usual by other docs(birds of the same feather!):)

He gave me a date for the op, a bottle each of Anti-Inflammatory liquid and Anti-biotic liquid and asked me to put the drops in my eyes 3 days before the op and 4 times day but not on the day of the procedure.I did it religiously of course! I was little nervous but not very bcos I chose the best Surgeon in town! Being a positive person also helps a lot in the attitude and healing process as well!:)

D Day!! These show you what they do to cut the Corneal flap to reach in and thin the tissue by laser!!

LASIK was scheduled at 8am, so I got ready,ate my cereal, kissed and hugged the kids and made sure they are fed,clean, their homework packed and went to school on time.Arvind took me to the clinic. I was called in,eyes checked again and the nurse gave me a anti-biotic pill and a calming pill which makes you drugged up. I didn't really want to take it bcos I was too happy to get the surgery done but Arvind insisted that I should take it anyway. Then I was asked to sit inside for 15-20 mins while they got ready.I was surgeon's first patient that day which is always great!

Making the Corneal Flap:
Photos from here and here.

Of the whole procedure,this is the hardest 20 seconds of discomfort they say but not bad at all for me! I was laid down,covered with blanket,numbing lotion was put in both eyes.Then he pressed in a suction ring on my eyeball which makes the eye bulge to get the Cornea raised.Then that machine comes over your eyes,count down begins while it cuts the Corneal flap as you see in the picture above.

Final step before you see the World bright and clear!!:D

How did I feel When the machine goes on your Cornea cutting the flap? Lot of pressure!! The same feeling as when you go at the top of Roaster coaster and they plunge you down and you feel a strange sensation in the pit of your stomach!! Thank GOD, it takes only 20 seconds!:D
After both eyes are done,I was taken to the other room,covered in a blanket and the good doctor lasered my thick tissue to correct my vision back to "normal", you can smell the acrid smell of burning but you will not feel a thing!! He cleaned both eyes,smoothens the flap back and I was asked sit and read the clock. Boy, I read the exact time in mins and seconds in 25yrs without my glasses, which I donated to the charity of course.They have kept the basket there!!They gave me a sleeping pill and kit to go home and sleep it off wearing eye guards taped on my eyes so I don't rub off the still freshly cut flaps!I was told to use the lotions as long as they last,atleast for 7 days.For Questions and answers,check here.

The kit and the Kaboodle to go home with:

After that, I didn't feel any burning,(feeling of Tobasco in your eyes as they told me!),itching and pain.I can see bright and clear, so good that I am looking at lot of imperfections in my kitchen I didn't see before and now I want a brand new kitchen!! Can you hear Arvind saying #@#@#$$?!!!Hahaha!

Was it all so perfect for me?
NOPE!! While I gained a perfect 20/20 vision with far away objects,I can't focus on reading, Laptop or anything which is a foot from my eyes! My vision is still adjusting everyday.Doctor has told me that I need to rest the eyes for 7-10 days and eyes heal completely in 3 months.I wear plastic guards every night until the 8th day, then I don't have to. Today is the 6th day after the op,I can see the nearer objects lot better than last week but still see doubles and haze around the letters and sensitive to bright Sunlight which is normal after the LASIK. I wake up in the morning and still feel the top of the bedside table for my glasses but then I realize, hey! I don't need it anymore!!:D

That is it so far! I am so glad I went for the LASIK procedure, no regrets.Life is bright and oh so colorful! I see my kids smiles from half a mile away so easily now, a joy itself and worth every penny!That reminds me it cost about $4000 for my Lasik.Usually it costs from $1600 to $4000 for both eyes depending on the condition of your eye sight.I hope reading about my experience will help some of you to decide to try LASIK!:)

Post Op check up update as it happens:
Goal for next 3 months is to heal the cut flap as fast as we can ,so there are no further complications and infection. Got to follow the Doctor's orders meticulously as the days goes by.

2 week check up: my Lasik update; I had a 2 week check up with the eye doctor.Good news is everything is healing well so far but my eyes are little dry,need to use more artificial tear liquid for few more weeks and need to wear Eye guard in the night.

1 month check up: The flap which they cut to do the surgery has healed and sealed only at the bottom part which is great news and both upper parts are still not sealed.So, eye drops and eye guards use continue!

2 months check up: Just got back from the 2nd check up. My right eye flap is completely sealed and left flap is 90& healed and I am instructed to continue with Antibiotic liquid and artificial tears until the next appointment and continue to wear eye guard at night!:)

3 months check up: Great news! Both of my flaps are healed and sealed 100%!! Hurray!!! No more eye guards at night and I am free and clear. I do have one more 6 month's appointment in March and that's the end of it, can't wait!!:))

Again, this is my own experience of having gone through the LASIK surgery.I am not saying it will be this smooth sailing for everybody.Decide for yourself,choose a good reputable doctor and enjoy the experience. People who never suffered Myopia will NEVER understand the joy of looking at the World clearly without that specs perched on your nose!!:P

Thank you, Dr.Karl G.Stonecipher of TLC, Greensboro, NC!:)