November 26, 2007


Rice and spice and Brownie jar mix
are my contributions to "A spoonful of Christmas" event organized by Zlamushka of "Spicy Kitchen". Thanks for hosting Zlamushka. Enjoy all the goodies coming your way. Merry Christmas to you in advance!:))

When I read about this event at Z's, I got curious as to what I can come with for a spoonful of Christmas! Although we personally don't celebrate Christmas at home, we do receive a few cookie jar mixes during this time from others. Basing on that theme, I thought I will make a whole Indian meal jar mix and a sweet Brownie mix for this event and what a great looking colorful jar mixes they make too!

Here is my first jar, my own Rice and Spice or Khichdi mix. When you need to use this, all you have to do is put all the jar contents in a bowl with enough water and any veggies you like to cook in a Microwave and VOILA!! You have got a beautiful and nutritious meal in minutes! Serve with "Chaar Yaars", (four friends of Khichdi) which are Papad, Pickle, ghee and Raita. Enjoy!:))

Rice and Spice jar mix:

This is how you make this jar mix:
Take a big enough jar to fit about 2 1/2 cups of grains or cut these amount to half s=for smaller jar and adjust the water to cook. Add these in layers;

3/4 cup Basmati or Long grain rice(which I used above),
1/3 cup Channa dal(Split peas)
1/3 cup Masoor dal (Red lentils)
2 tbsps of spice powder,(Given below)
2 tbsps of dried Parsely or Cilantro,
1/3 cup Moong Dal (Split Moong beans)
3/4 cup of rice again on top.Close with lid.
Wrap the lid with pretty cloth, tie a bow and don't forget to tie card with "How to cook" instruction!! That's it. Your beautiful Kichidi Jar mix is ready!!:)

To make spice powder, mix all these to use as much as needed in the jar:
2 tbsp Coriander seeds powder,
1 tbsp Cumin seeds powder,
1 tsp Garam Masala,
1 tsp Ginger powder,
1/2 tsp Garlic powder,
1/4 tsp turmeric,
1/2 tsp salt,
1/4 tsp chilli pd,
1/2 tsp Mango powder or Tamarind powder.

Instructions in the card you attach would be:
"Put the contents of the jar into a glass bowl, add about 4 cups of water, 1 cup mixed vegetables or any canned beans and 1 tbsp butter. Mix well and cook in the Microwave for 15mins on high uncovered. Cover with a lid and cook again for 6 mins on 50% power. Add more water if you need it to cook, mix and MW again. Adjust the salt and spices. Serve with a salad, Lemon slices and Potato crisps. Enjoy!"

Rice and spice mix or Khichdi as we call it, when cooked with veggies and beans:
I added green beans and 1 cup already cooked red or brown Chana I had in the fridge to cook this dish with the above jar mix. It looks and tastes great. Dals in this mix makes it a very nutritious low fat meal.

Khichdi is usually little wetter or mushier than the other rice dishes. You will have to adjust the water depending on the type of rice you use.



Double Chocolate Brownie Jar Mix:
This recipe came from a book called "Make-A-Mix" by Karine Eliason, which has about 300 wonderful mixes to give away as gifts. This is one of them. I haven't tried this mix yet since I have been making too many desserts these days. I am sure it tastes great with all those Chocolate, Cocoa, nuts and sugar. I bet it will make delicious Brownies!!:)

Here is how to make up the mix:
3 cups plain flour,
2 tsp baking pd,
1 tsp salt,
3 cups sugar,
1/2 cup cocoa pd.

Chocolate chips.

Mix all these well.
Fill half the jar with the above mix and add 1/4 cup Chocolate Chips and fill the jar with the rest. Cover with lid and decorate and tag with a instruction card to bake Brownies. (Double this recipe if you want more of the mix.)

To make Brownies, you need 2 1/4 cup of this dry mix.

Write this inside the card to bake Brownies:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray or grease 8" square pan.

1. In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 eggs beaten, 1 tsp Vanilla essence and add in 2 1/4 cups above Brownie mix, beat well.
2. Mix in 1/4 cup any chopped nuts if you like and pour into prepared pan.
3. Bake for 30 mins or until it leaves the sides.
4. Cool and cut into bars. Makes about 16 pieces of 2" square bars.

Have fun mixing your own meals and desserts. Have a very merry Christmas!

This will be my last post here at Aroma until Dec 12th, will be taking a break from Dec 1st to 12th. I will be back in your blogs and in mine on the 12th and try to catch up with the events although I probably miss a few entries to the events in December! Have fun girls, see you later!:))

November 20, 2007


A new event called "Grindless Gravies" been launched by sra of "When my soup came alive!" blog. This is all about making thick gravies without grinding any spices or masala but with a bit of elbow grease, you can chop and pound the spices to make gravies instead. Thanks for making me (temporarily) give up my beloved grinder sra!;D

I throughly enjoyed making gravies without using the blender and it was not that hard as I thought!! Takes a little time to mince the onions etc but very doable and I made two gravies for this event! They just need some chopping and grating or mashing with pestle and motor which takes a minute, that's all!

We used to love eating Pav Bhaji and Bhel Puri in Belgaum frequently and I used to watch the guy make it on a huge Tava very intently to learn the trick. Although I cannot recreate that same taste, here is my best recipe for Pav Bhaji. Enjoy!:))

"No grind" Bhaji for Pav!!
Pav Bhaji is the only vegetarian dish my kids (both are self proclaimed "Carnivores") ask...YES.. ask me to make it atleast once a week! They eat it stuffed in Burger buns and topped with cheese and say "thank you Mother!" after cleaning the plate!!;D
("Thank you Mother" comes out only after eating Butter chicken etc, so it is VERY special!!;p)

To make it: 1. Cook 3 Waxy red Potatoes in the Microwave with lots of water for 20 mins. Drain, add cold water to shrink the skin. Peel and cube. Keep aside.
2. Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, fry 1 small minced Onion for a minute. Then add 1" grated ginger, 2 grated or mashed Garlic, fry. Add 1 tsp each of Coriander powder, cumin powder, Garam masala,1/8tsp turmeric, chilli pd if needed, 1 tsp sweet Paprika for color, 1 tbsp of MDH Pav Bhaji(very imp. ingredient!)masala, stir.
3. Pour in 1 cup Tomato Sauce, mix well, add in 1 cup Green peas, 1/2 water, simmer until you see the oil shows on top.
4. Add in all potatoes, more water if needed, salt, 1 tsp Kasoori Methi, 4 tbsp minced cilantro.Simmer or microwave until it gets a good shine and thickish.
5. Finally, add 1 tbsp of butter, mix well. Serve with minced onion, cilantro and lemon slices on the side and with toasted Pav or square dinner rolls. I brush some butter and toast the sliced Pav both sides on a electric griddle for crisp golden crust.

Looks like this!

Watch this video for authentic Mumbai Juhu beach Pav Bhaji and for Vada Pav here! YUM YUM!!:)


Spinach in Coconut milk gravy:
Here is another "no grinding" sauce with Spinach. My kids say it tastes like chicken because it's so flavorful and tasty, easy recipe too. I served with soft Parathas, tastes delicious with creamy golden sauce!

To make this gravy: 1. Heat 1 tbsp oil, add 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 minced onion, fry for a minute. Then add 1" finely grated or mashed fresh Ginger, 1 or 2 red chillies sliced, fry until they are slightly golden.Sprinkle 2 tsp Besan/Chickpea flour, 1/8 tsp turmeric, stir for minute.
2. Add 2 small Tomatoes sliced, 1 tsp Coriander pd, 1/2 tsp cumin pd, (or any curry pd you have, I added 1 tsp 777 brand curry pd), stir well for 2 minutes.
3. Add 5 cups chopped Spinach, 1/2 cup of water, salt and chilli pd if needed, 1/2 tsp Tamarind juice, cover and cook for 2 mins or until Palak is cooked.
4. Turn down the heat and add 1 cup of canned thick coconut milk, simmer until you have thickish sauce. You can Microwave the whole thing too until Spinach gets cooked.
5. Add a dab of butter on top, mix. That's it. Serve with Parathas.


November 17, 2007


Nags of "For the cook in me" blog is hosting the monthly event of "Weekend Breakfast Blogging #17" this Nov, which is the brainchild of Nandita of "Saffron trail". This month's theme is "Corn flakes". Orange and Corn Flakes Muffin is my entry to this event.Thanks for hosting Nags!:)

History of Corn Flakes:
"The history of corn flakes goes back to the late 19th century, when a group of Seventh-day Adventists began to develop new food to meet the standards of their strict vegan diet. Members of the group experimented with a number of different grains, including wheat, oats, rice, barley, and of course corn. In 1894, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the superintendent of The Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan and an Adventist, used these recipes as part of a strict vegetarian regimen for his patients." To find out more about how Corn Flakes came into existence, read here!

I usually do not buy plain Corn Flakes because of the availability of so many other great cereals. When Nags announced Corn Flakes as an ingredient, I went and bought a box just for this event and rediscovered the great taste of plain Corn Flakes! But apart from having it with milk, I have to make something with it, right?
I did find some recipes with Corn flakes on the internet but when I saw the Orange Muffins in one my cookbooks, I was thrilled. We do have Cereal with milk and a glass of Orange juice for breakfast in the morning, I thought why not combine both in one Muffin! Here they are, golden, crunchy and with Orangy flavor, all in one Muffin!! Enjoy!:))

Orange and Corn Flakes Muffins:

You need:
1/3 cup (6 tbsp) softened Butter,
1/2 cup Sugar.
1 Egg,
1 tsp Orange Zest or 1/2 tsp Orange essence,
1/2 cup Orange Juice,
1/4 cup Milk.
1 1/2 cups Plain Flour,(If you don't want to use Corn flakes, add 2 cups of flour and skip the Corn Flakes)
1/2 cup lightly crushed and packed cup of Corn flakes,
2 tsp Baking powder,
1/4 tsp Baking Soda,
1/2 tsp salt.

1 tbsp Corn Flakes to top the Muffins.

How to bake: Makes 12 Muffins.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray the 12 Muffin pan with no-stick spray or line with muffin paper cups.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and wet ingredients in another bowl. Keep them ready.

1. Beat Butter and sugar for 1 minute on high in a blender or until smooth.Scrape the sides with a spatula.
2. Add wet ingredients and beat slowly for a minute until well mixed.
3. On slow beat, add in dry ingredients, mix just until moistened. DO NOT beat too long.
4. Fill each cup 2/3rd way, stick a few Corn Flakes on top each muffins and bake for 20 mins or until golden on top.
5. Take them out and cool on the rack. Serve with butter or Jelly or on their own!!

Store in a air-tight container or Zip lock bag to prevent drying since this is a quick bread recipe after all!
Have a great breakfast!:))

November 13, 2007


Date and Oatmeal Crumble bars is my contribution to "A Fruit A Month", which is the brainchild of Maheswari of "Beyond the Usual"blog. Chandrika of "akshayapatra" is guest hosting this month for AFAM and her fruit of choice is "Dates". Thanks for hosting Chandrika!:)

About Dates:
"Dates, as fruits have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around the Persian Gulf, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 6000 BC.Dates have a high tannin content and are used medicinally in poder form as well and as astringent for intestinal problems" More information of Dates is here.

Date bars:
Basic Date bars recipe is everywhere in the Internet World. Most recipes I liked but none sounded good enough for me, so I thought of combining most ingredients and make one of my own with some changes. I found that I needed little more Oatmeal to make the crust than suggested in many recipes and I added orange juice for flavor and a tsp of Cornstarch to the filling to make it thicker so they don't slide off the Oat crust, came out delicious.I made a small batch. Double and triple the recipe if you want more bars. It's hearty dessert with lot less sugar and more of natural sweetness from the Dates. Enjoy!:)

Date and Oats crumble bars:

This is how I made Date bars:

Make filling first: Mix 1 cup chopped Dates,1 tbsp Orange juice, 1/2 tbsp Butter, 1 tsp Cornstarch, 1/4 cup water, microwave for 1-2 mins. Take it out and mash with a fork until smooth, let it cool.
Now make the crust: Mix 1/2 cup quick cooking Oats, 1/3 cup+1 1/2 tbsp plain flour, 1/3 cup packed Brown sugar, 1 tsp Cinnamin powder, 1/8 tsp salt,1/3 cup melted butter well. Divide into two portions.
To bake these:
Preheat the Oven at 350F.
Spray a small 7x5 baking pan with no-stick oil or line with parchment paper on the bottom. Press in half the Oat mix on the bottom of the pan, add cooled Date mix and smoothen on top evenly. Finally, add the rest of Oat mix to cover the Date mix, do not press too hard. Put in the oven to bake for 30-35 mins or until the top gets slightly golden.
Let it cool for 10 mins on the cooling rack, release the sides with a flat spatula, cut into 6 big bars. When completely cooled, gently lift one bar and rest will be easy to take out.

Happy healthy eating!!:))

November 10, 2007


Suganya of "Tasty Palettes" has asked us to contribute to a one-time event "Vegan Ventures" to celebrate Vegan month of November by sending her any Vegan recipes.November 1st is declared as a "World Vegan Day" to make people aware of Veganism and it's health benefits.A delicious and simple Vegan vegetable stir-fry is my entry. Enjoy and thanks for hosting Suganya!:)

This is how "The British Vegan Society" defines Veganism:
"The word "veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals"
More info about Veganism is here and here.

The term "animal product" in a vegan context refers to any material derived from animals for human use.Notable animal products include meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, honey, fur, leather, wool, and silk.This Info is from WIKIPEDIA.
(Silk is Vegan! More than half a Billion Indian people love and wear Silk Sarees and silk cloths in India, bad news for Veganism!!)

Personally, vegetarianism is easier for me to adapt than Veganism if have to. I don't think I can give up Yogurt and butter completely to become a vegan!:D
It needs a lot of will power to practice Veganism but it's not impossible to practice though. Good luck if you are willing.

Vegan Zucchini Bhaji:

To make Bhaji:
1. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a non-stick pan, add 1/4 cup Chana dal, 1 tsp cumin seeds,2 red chillies, let it sizzle and become golden.
2. Add 4 cups cubed mixed veggies like Zucchinis, Potatoes, Eggplants or any quick cooking veggies you have, stir fry for a minute. Pour in 1/2 cup of water,2 tomatoes chopped, mix, cover and cook for 5-10 mins.
3. Uncover and add pinch of Turmeric, 2 tsp Coriander seeds powder, 1 tsp cumin seeds powder, 1 tsp Garam masala, salt, chilli pd, 1tsp Amchoor/Mango powder, 4 tbsp minced cilantro, 1 tbsp mint leaves or 1 tsp Kasoori methi (optional). Mix well.
4. Cook until almost all the water is evaporated and veggies,dal are cooked but almost dry. If you want some gravy left,add a bit more water and simmer gently.

Brussels Sprout Stir-fry:(Last minute addition!)
I made a quick Brussels Sprout (I call them "mini me" Cabbages!:D) south Indian style stir-fry yesterday for dinner, thought I will add this too since there are no animal products involved in this dish as well! Info about this vegetable is here.

To make Stir-fry:
1. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan, splutter 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tbsp each of Chana dal and Urad dal, 2 red chillies, 1 green chilly sliced ,cook until reddish.
2. Add about 10-15 Brussels sprout, sliced into 2 to 4 pieces to the pan,stir-fry until they wilt,sprinkle some water,turn down the heat,cover and cook until soft but mashed, little crunch is okay too.
3. Take the cover off, add salt, pinch of Turmeric,1 tsp any Rasam pd or Curry pd (this is optional) you have, 1 tbsp grated coconut, mix well, heat thru' again. Squeeze some lemon juice and turn off the heat.

Note: Both of these dishes taste great with either rotis, Dosas , as side dishes with rice and Sambhar or even with crusty roll or bread.

Flaky Parathas:

Enjoy the Vegan dishes!:)


Mixed vegetable Subzi cooked in the Microwave is my entry to "Easy cooking with Microwave" which is hosted by Srivalli of "Cooking 4 all seasons" with a theme of "Side dishes" this month. Thanks for hosting Sri!:))

Microwaved Eggplant and Potato side dish:

To make Subzi:
1. Take a big and deep enough glass bowl to fit about 4 cups of vegetables with gravy. Add 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter (not Vegan anymore!), MW for 1 minute.
2. Take it out, and add 1 tbsp Chana dal, 1 tsp mustard seeds,a pinch of Hing or Asafoetida, few curry leaves, cover with a lid slightly open, MW again for 1 minute or until they splutter and dal turns slightly golden. Open, add 1 onion finely minced, MW again for a minute or so until onion gets slight color.
3. Add cubed veggies (1 large potato, 4-5 purple Eggplants), 1 cup water, cover and cook again for 3 minutes, until the veggies soften a bit.Toss in 2 tomatoes cubed and 1 tsp tamarind juice to it,stir. MW for a minute.
4. Add salt, chilli pd, 1 tbsp Coriander powder, (or you can add any Sambhar or curry pd you have), 2 tbsp grated coconut or coconut pd, 4 tbsp minced Cilantro, mix well. MW again for few more mins, uncovered this time until veggies are completely cooked but not mashed.
5. Adjust the spices and serve this delicious side dish with Dosas, Chapatis or rice.

Served with Rice and Urad dal Dosas:

Note: Since Microwaves are of different capacity of power, I cannot give you the exact time for cooking. Check often to see how many minutes you need to cook at each step.
Also use a deep and big enough bowl to hold all the veggies halfway and do not over fill it to avoid spilling and use the plate cover with a little gap on the side to prevent spluttering as well.
You do get a microwavable splatter guard in the stores with rectangle gaps in the plate to let the air out and minimize the splatters.

Have fun, see you all later!:))

November 5, 2007


Gingery Banarasi Aloo is my contribution to Sunita from "Sunita's World" blog's "Think Spice..Think.." event.This month's spice is "Ginger". To learn more about ginger click here and my other dish for JFI I made last year, "Ginger Rissoles" is here! Thanks for hosting Sunita!:)

Banaras or Benares, is one of the ancient cities of India. They have their own unique flavorful side dishes which are very simple, mostly served with Poories which are deep fried bread. The city is best known for it's large assortment sweets! They say that Banaras was famous for serving more than 17 kinds of sweets in a single wedding and "Chhppan Bhog" (ie a meal consists of 56 items!) was prepared as an offering for Lord Krishna on the Annakut day!! (These infos are from a book called "Banaras Ki Rasoi")

Banarasi Aloo:
This Potato side dish is one of the Banaras delicacies, with few ingredients but tasty. I think what makes this dish Banarasi is the addition of flavorful Fennel seeds and ginger, I am not sure. Never been to Banaras!:)

You need these:

2 large red waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed into big chunks,2 large red Tomatoes ground to paste, 1" ginger ground or minced, 2 tsp ground Fennel seeds (Saunf),1/2 tsp or more Cayenne powder, 1/4 tsp Turmeric, 1 tsp Garam masala, 1tsp Coriander pd, 1/2 tsp cumin pd, 1 tsp Tamarind juice or Amchoor (both Optional),salt, 3 tbsp Cream or half and half, minced Cilantro to garnish.
To season: 1 tbsp mustard oil or any kind of oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, pinch of hing(Asafoetida).

To make Banarasi Aloo:

1. Heat oil in a wide non-stick pan and add hing and mustard seeds. When they sputter, add cubed Potatoes, stir fry until they reddish and half cooked. Add ground ginger, stir for a minute.
2. Add tomatoes, all the spices with tamarind or Amchoor if you are using, stir for a while until you see the gravy leaving the sides of the pan.
3. Add 1/2 cup water, cover and let it cook. Sauce should thicken and coated to Potatoes when it's done.
4. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. Take off the heat and add cream and cilantro.

With Naan:

With Paratha:

Banarasi Aloo is traditionally served with Poories but I had Naan and Parathas to serve with!! Enjoy!:)


A new event called " "Power" less cooking" has been launched by Easy Crafts of "An easy cooking blog" this month. The theme is all about cooking without any "Power" ie electricity or without using electrical devices!! Thanks for hosting EC!:))
My contribution to this event are Indian style Gazpacho and a refreshing beverage of tangy, sweet, and Gingery Sherbet/Panaka!

"Power" less cooking!
This theme stumped me for a while.I am so dependent on my electrical gadgets! Cooking without using any electricity at all, I couldn't think of any dishes other than salads to make without Power. I definitely looking forward to all the entries EC gets, so I will have an idea when I need it.
I remember the one and only time we had lost electricity for 6 days during a Winter Ice storm 2 yrs ago in NC. But we did survive that on the BBQ gas stove we had and frozen food from the grocery store, although we froze almost to death cooking outside!:D
Anyway, here they are. I had made Spanish Gazpacho few month's ago and this time I made Gazpacho with Indian spices and a beverage to go with it. Both don't need any cooking at all! Have fun!:)

Gazpacho with Indian spices and ginger Sherbet!

Gazpacho, Indian style:
Until last week, I used to get a few beautiful red vine ripe Plum, Cherry and Pear tomatoes from my plants which I have used here in this dish. Now, of course they all died after a first Spring frost, giving me loads of green Tomatoes to cook!:)

1. Chop 4-6 Tomatoes into small cubes or any kind of tomatoes you have, put it in a big bowl.
2. Cube peeled and cubed Cucumber, 1 Green Pepper, 1 Jalapeno, 1 Garlic, 1/2 red Onion or sweet Videlia, few cilantro, salt, 1 tsp cumin pd, 1/2 tsp Chaat pd, coarsely ground pepper, 1 tsp lemon juice, add to the bowl.
3. Mix everything gently, cover and leave it on the counter top for atleast an hour.
4. Mix again, serve in a bowl topped with store bought Croutons if you have it in hand.I forgot to add in the photo!!
5. Serve this delicious Gazpacho with refreshing Panaka or Sherbet or Sharbattu as we say in K'taka!:)

Sweet, tangy and gingery Panaka:
A refreshing beverage of Panaka can be made without using any electrical devices! Oops! I added Ice cubes!;P
(Hey, you do get Ice cubes at the grocery store even when you don't have power at home you know! Haha!!)

1. Crush 4 tbsp of Jaggery or Brown sugar, 1/2 tsp Cardamom seeds, a slice or two of fresh ginger by hand in 1/2 cup water until you get a smooth paste.
2. Add 2 1/2 cups of water, 2 to 3 tsp of lemon juice to the crushed ingredients, mix well. Strain all this with a strainer to take out all the solids. Adjust the sweet and spice according to your taste.
3. Serve in tall glasses with a slice of lemon and a slice of ginger. Ice Cubes are optional!!;D

Happy Deepavali to all you. Enjoy the festival of lights!!

Have fun!:))