Sirukeerai / Amaranthus

Today morning,I harvested my first organic greens from my terrace garden. It was also the first time I had succeeded in raising a plant from its seed. I feel proud and accomplished even though all I did was to sow and sprinkle water and keep it in the full sun. It feels good to be harmonious with nature :-).

The day had started with light showers in my neighborhood and the greens waved as if they were welcoming me. I snipped off the top leaves thanking nature for the first promising harvest. I knew there is no need to ‘deweed’ or ‘triple wash’ the leaves as I knew them right from the time they germinated.

It is true, happiness is gardening :-)

Poha upma was introduced to me in Mumbai when I went to my sister-in -law’s house in 1998. It was one super easy dish I learnt from my s-i-l as a beginner in kitchen. If you do the tadka right and garnish right , there is no failing.  :)

Here is the dish which is great to whip up quickly in a busy morning.  I have used brown rice flakes as a healthier alternative.


Ingredients :

Brown rice flakes / sigappu arisi aval / brown poha  – 4 cups after soaking

Onion – Big size – 1 number

Cooked potato – 2 numbers

Tadka ingredients as seen in picture

Soak the poha after washing it thoroughly for 10- 15 minutes. Drain the excess water .

Cook potato in a cooker with salt needed  and dice it. Heat oil in a pan, throw in mustard, urad dall, gram dall, chili, ginger  and curry leaves. Add onions and when they turn translucent , add potato dices , salt and poha , give a gentle stir and turn off the heat. Cover it for 5 minutes .  Add some asafoetida and garnish with finely chopped coriander /cilantro .

I have added onion to my taste, if you like to add more, please do and increase chillies proportionally. We can also add crushed roasted peanuts for crunchy texture , more veggies for a wholesome meal . Those who like tangy sweet twist , can top it with sugar sprinkle and lime juice squirts. The choices , as you see,  are many , define the dish as you want , it is the fun that is all it  matters . :)


Have a great time cooking!

Chocolate chip muffins

As every weekend comes by, I start with a desire to bake something , then get distracted with other handful of hobbies (hehe..) and look forward to another weekend all over once again .

Last weekend was something different, our neighborhood Nilgris got renovated and restocked with fresh ingredients. We came across chocolate chips and baking chocolate bars. There started the desire to bake  some muffins to stock for breakfasts.

It was Sunday morning and I wanted to surprise the kids. Followed this recipe with mild modifications.


Maida /All purpose flour – 2 cups

Sugar – 1/2 cup

Key brand baking powder – 3 teaspoons

Salt – 1/2 teaspoon

Milk – 1/2 cup

Fresh curd  – 1/4 cup

Sunflower oil – 1/3 cup

Egg- 1

Semisweet chocolate chips – 3/4 cup

Vanilla extract -1 teaspoon

Preheat the oven to 210 degree celsius.

Mix all wet ingredients well  and  add in flour and rest of the dry ingredients (Hold the chocolate chips ), beat until the batter is smooth and without lumps.

Stir  in the chocolate chips.

Line your cupcake molds with oil/ butter, fill it upto 2/3. Place it in a baking tray / metal plate , place them on a rack so they are in the middle of the oven to ensure even baking.

Bake for 20 plus minutes, know the doneness by poking in middle of the cups.

I was  so enthused to bake, that I forgot that I ran out of cupcake molds, so stainless silver tumblers came to the rescue :)


The muffins were warm and welcoming , that it did not last past 10AM, so, when you plan to make these lil muffins, expect them to  magically disappear.


Parathas are the latest craze in our home. Soft pliable roti wrapping softer cheese leaves you with lingering taste of spices and creaminess.

I am not a fan of store brought paneer, but prefer the firmness of the cubes for kurmas. However, for parathas, you need soft cheese that will work with you as you knead the stuffing. Home made paneer is the best way to get soft cheese.

In making paneer, there were several attempts to reserve the white cloth I use for making paneer to ‘keep’ it as paneer cloth. Either, it will end as craft cloth for my kids, or even worse cleaning cloth for my maid. :(

I thought to give the paneer cloth an ‘identity’..also it should serve the purpose of filtering the whey water in a more elegant way.

Surukku pai/ string bag:

My grandma had this all the time, where she kept coins and her tobacco. The coins bearing a ‘signature’ smell that shall laugh at us with a jingle will make us plead her for buying candies. The ‘santa’s’ bag well tucked in my grandma’s Saree was my inspiration for this little diy project.

Cut a circular piece of white cloth, about 12 inch radius. Cut two inch wide strips of cloth on the bias , length should equal the perimeter of the circle. (Use your calculators :-) )

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20140906 081210

If you are joining multiple patches like me, make sure to cut the edges in a 45 degree angle and patch. Sew the both sides of the strip on the edge, run a chord inside the channel. The surukku pai/ cheese cloth bag is now ready.

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20140906 081356

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20140906 081446

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20140906 081844

Spread this over a strainer, pour in your curdled milk, pull the string, pour chill water over if you want to arrest the cooking, knead as you like, hang it wherever you like. Wash and reuse the bag as many times you want, it is all yours :-)

Enjoy a diy time !






The Monsoon in Chennai is doing amazing things to the weather. All is wet and well. It is a promise to the dry lands and vegetation. Enjoy some clicks  I took just after the rain .  For me , they are like babies who just had a bath ….

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Have a great monsoon !

Friday Morning, I had made breakfast at home , yet had no time to eat. I had to rush out of the door..I had Poori and masala for breakfast in Saravan Bhavan in my office cafeteria. I felt like Prakash Raj in ‘Un Samayalariyil‘ Love this song, by the way!

That night , at dinner , I described how delicious the poori was to my kids and I saw my son drooling :)

He requested right away , ‘Mommy, can we have poori and masala for tomorrow’s breakfast??’.

“Sure” said I, delighted to have a ‘Neyar virupam’.

Thats how I got to make this Poori , and I wanted to share the secrets to you all as well.

Ssshhh… Did I say secrets of a non greasy puffed poori ?

Here we go, we all may know , for making poori, you knead atta with little salt. Press them in to rounds and fry them in oil.

But , the tricks are ..

1. Add a tablespoon of rava (sooji) to 2 cups of atta to get the fluff and to retain it. The more rawa you add, it will be more crispy and will retain longer. I serve them to my kids right away , hence , I added 1 tablespoon .

2. Adding little sugar while kneading.Kneading should be very minimal as you don’t want the gluten to form (like you would make a pie crust – No Kneading ). Stop adding water when the flour is crumbly and use minimal water to bring in the binding. Dough for chapati , on the contrast , needs more water and needs to be kneaded longer.

3. Try to make dough right when you are planning to fry. Making the dough ahead of time, results in absorption of oil.


4. Use oil to help in kneading , no flour please. This will pollute the frying oil and the burnt flour will start sticking to the pooris.


5. Knead a bit thicker than for roti.

6. Use ample oil. Heat the oil long enough . If the oil is not hot enough , the poor is will be soaking in oil and soggy. If it is too hot, pooris will get burnt , adjust accordingly.

7. Cook on one side for 2-3 seconds, as soon as it fluffs, turn it around. The other side is bit thicker , and requires about 5-8 sec to cook. Ladle out and space them well not to disturb the puffiness. :)



If you have done all right, you wouldn’t need a tissue paper to soak the extra oil . :)

Serve them hot with aloo masala.


Keerai masiyal

It is Sunday noon, when I get to cook leisurely. I wanted to try baking the yellow cupcakes, doing so, it was already past noon.

As a gratitude for the cupcakes, my little helpers offered to cook  potato for side dish . So there were two little chefs peeling and cooking potatoes along with me.

I chose to cook the recipe my sister-in-law shared with me. It was a different way than I normally do, it tasted heavenly especially when sis- in-law made it. Here are the details:

One medium sized onion
Ten small size garlic pods
Five green chillies
Arai keerai -one bunch
Tamarind – lemon size

Oil -2 table spoon
Vadagam- 1 table spoon
Curry leaves

Ingredients for masiyal

Ingredients for masiyal

Arai Keerai

Arai Keerai

Chop onion , peel garlic pods. Clean the greens. Heat one table spoon of oil in a deep pan, when hot, saute onion, garlic and green chillies. When the onion is translucent, add the greens. Cook until the greens are tender. Switch off the stove, add salt and tamarind. Let it cool till it reaches room temperature. Blend it to a puree using a hand blender. If you are lucky to have one, use the maththu and chatti to puree.

Heat oil in another pan,  splutter vadagam, and add curry leaves at the end. Add the thalippu to the masiyal.

For those who have no vadagam, can substitute with mustard seeds, cumin, urad, finely chopped onion and garlic.

Those who love ghee, can increase the green chilli count and add a tab of ghee when mixing with rice.

For those who are wondering what is cooking on the other burner, :-) , here is the recipe my kids ended up following.

The small twist I suggested which they graciously took is that to add crushed kasuri methi at the end. The taste, aroma and texture of  the aloo was a perfect match for the masiyal.

We enjoyed truly  a family lunch, we wish you the same.

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img 20140622 153753

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