Thursday, March 22, 2018

Halu Menasina Saaru | Pepper Rasam made using Milk: An excellent home remedy for common cold

As kids whenever we got cold or sore throat, our mom would make this rasam. She made sure we eat it and gave it as a drink too. Honestly when I was a kid, I didn't enjoy eating this. I gave innumerable reasons to avoid eating this rasam. What goes around comes around, isn't it? Now, my son does the same thing that I did to my mom. I really feel sorry for her now.

Anyways, that's for another day. After I started making this rasam for myself, I enjoy eating, drinking and even bathing with it. You know what I mean ;)

This rasam will wake up your senses and all the blocked sinuses will start running.

Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Serves : 2 to 3

For the rasam:
Water: About 3 cups
Salt: As needed
Milk: About 1/4 cup, refer notes
Jaggery or brown sugar: 2 tsp
Spice powder: 3 tbsp

For the spice powder:
Pepper corns: 1/2 or 3/4 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Coriander seeds: 1/4 tsp, optional
Dry coconut : 1 tbsp, grated or powdered

For the tempering:
Coconut oil: 1 tsp, or any oil of your choice.
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 4-6 nos, torn
Asafoetida: a big pinch

Dry roast the pepper corns, cumin seeds and coriander seeds until they leave out a nutty flavor. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool.

Once cool, blend together the roasted spices with dry coconut. Make a fine powder.

Mix together water, spice powder, salt and jaggery. Allow it to boil on a low-medium heat for 15 mins. Your house will smell amazing during this time!!

After the liquid has thickened up a bit, add the milk.

Allow the mixture to boil again for another 5-7 mins.
Meantime, prepare the tempering. Add coconut oil to a small wok. When oil is hot, add the mustard and cumin seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the curry leaves. Let the curry leaves wilt and turn off the heat. Add the asafoetida/hing after turning off the heat.

Pour this tempering over the boiling rasam and close the lid of the rasam.
The tempering will be infused in the rasam making it more flavorful.
Serve it hot as a drink, or with rice and a side dish.

  • I mostly use whole milk to make this rasam. If you are using fat free or 1% milk, you might want to reduce the water and add more milk accordingly.
  • Do not use hot milk to this. Always use milk that is at room temperature, or else milk will curdle.
  • Also do not add milk in the first step. Let the spices boil in water first.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Quickest bisi bele bath | Pressure cooker bisi bele bath | Cracked wheat bisi bele bath

This is a diabetic friendly bisi bele bath as it is made with cracked wheat (godhi nucchu or daliya) instead of the rice. It's also one of the quickest one pot meal. It's nutritious, healthy and a complete meal by itself.

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins

Broken wheat - 1 cup
Pigeon pea dal / Toor Dal - 1/2 cup
Mixed Vegetables - 2 cups (Carrot, beans, green peas, potatoes, chow-chow, beets), refer notes

Surti lilwa/avrekalu : 1/4 cup
Tamarind - small lime/lemon sized
Jaggery - According to taste, optional

Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida: 1 big pinch
Salt - According to taste

Homemade bisi bele bath powder: About 1/4th cup
Oil: 2 tsp

Ingredients for tempering (Tadka):
Peanuts - 1 table spoon
Cashew Nuts - 4-6
Ghee - 2 table spoons
Red Chilly - 1, broken
Curry Leaves :4-6 nos, torn
Mustard Seeds: 1 tsp
Asafoetida: a big pinch
Bell peppers/capsicum - 1 finely chopped (Optional)

Wash the broken wheat and toor dal together in running water. Drain the water from the mixture and let it soak for about 10 mins.

Meantime soak the tamarind in the hot/warm water. We need the extract of the tamarind. (PS: The other item in the photo is the jaggery syrup or brown sugar syrup).
(PS: 1. Soaked Tamarind, 
        2. Jaggery syrup
        3. Bisi bele bath powder
        4. Turmeric
        5. Salt
        6. Asafoetida)
Heat oil in the pressure cooker. When oil is hot, add the broken wheat and toor dal. Saute the broken wheat and dal for couple of minutes. 
To that add the chopped vegetables, surti lilwa, and mix well.
Add about 5 cups of water to the pressure cooker. 
Add the salt, tamarind extract, jaggery, asafoetida, turmeric powder and the bisi bele bath powder to the cooker. Mix well. 
Close the pressure cooker lid and cook the mixture on a  medium-high heat for 4 whistles. Turn off the heat and let the pressure release. It'll take a minimum of 15 mins for the pressure to release. 

Meantime prepare the seasoning. Heat ghee (clarified butter) on a small pan/wok. When ghee is hot, add the mustard seeds, followed by peanuts. Saute the peanuts on a low-medium heat. When peanuts turn golden brown, add the curry leaves, asafoetida and the bell peppers. Saute the bell peppers till they turn soft yet crunchy. 

Release the pressure from the cooker and pour the seasoning over the cooked bisi bele bath. Mix well and serve. (Refer notes)


  • I add about a tbsp of finely chopped beets (beetroot) to get a rich color to the bisi bele bath.
  • If the cooked mixture is too hard, add a cup of boiling water, mix well and cook again for a couple of minutes.
  • I use the ratio 1 cup of broken wheat + lentils to 3 cups of water. Half cup on the higher side wont hurt.
  • If you are using the Instant pot, first saute as usual in saute mode. Then turn it on in manual mode (sealing postion ON) for 11 mins. Tada!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Stage 1 foods: 10 ways to feed your baby vegan and gluten free rice cereal

You can serve this baby rice cereal in 101 ways, literally. I am showing you some of the ways that I serve for my baby. As mentioned in the previous posts, I am still avoiding the wheat, sugar and salt.

Let us first understand how to cook the homemade baby rice cereal

Homemade rice cereal: 1 tbsp, refer notes
Water: 3 tbsp or 1/4 cup, refer notes


Add water to a kadai/sauce pan.
When water comes to a rolling boil, add the rice cereal, mix thoroughly.
Cook on a low-medium heat for 5-7 mins.
When the cereal becomes thick and gets cooked, turn off the heat.
Allow it to cool and serve.

Refer the video to check for the consistency.

If you want to make runnier cereal, add only 2 tsp of rice cereal to 1/4 cup water. For thicker versions, add a little more than 1 tbsp. Few trial and errors, you'll get the consistency right for you and for your baby.
If the baby is big enough, you can cook the rice cereal with vegetable broth or chicken broth.
I have already mentioned, how to make baby purees at home. All the purees that I have used are home made.

Option 1: Rice cereal with breastmilk/formula milk.
After the rice cereal has cooled down, add about 1 oz of formula and feed. Adjust the consistency according to your baby's needs.

Option 2: Rice cereal with apple puree and a dash of cinnamon powder.
After the rice cereal has cooled down, add about 2 oz of apple puree, a dash of cinnamon powder. Mix well and feed. Adjust the consistency according to your baby's needs.

Option 3: Carrot rice cereal pudding
After the rice cereal has cooled down, add about 2 oz of carrot puree. Mix well and feed. Adjust the consistency according to your baby's needs.

Option 4: Mango rice cereal pudding
After the rice cereal has cooled down, add about 2 oz of mango puree. Mix well and feed. Adjust the consistency according to your baby's needs. This is my personal favorite. It tastes so yum!

Option 5: Rice cereal with pureed butternut squash
After the rice cereal has cooled down, add about 2 oz of butternut squash puree. Mix well and feed. Adjust the consistency according to your baby's needs.

Option 6: Rice cereal mixed with plain Greek yogurt (curd)
After the rice cereal has cooled down, add about 2 oz of thick plain yogurt. Mix well and feed. Adjust the consistency according to your baby's needs.

Option 7: Rice cereal mixed with pear puree.
After the rice cereal has cooled down, add about 2 oz of pear puree. Mix well and feed. Adjust the consistency according to your baby's needs.

Option 8: Dates and rice cereal pudding
After the rice cereal has cooled down, add about 1 or 2 tsp of thick dates paste. Mix well and feed. Adjust the consistency according to your baby's needs.

Option 9: Rice cereal cooked with sweet potato puree.
Instead of water, add about 2 oz of sweet potato puree and about 2 oz of water. Cook the rice cereal in this mixture. Allow it to cool and serve.

Option 10: Rice cereal and banana pudding.
After the rice cereal has cooled down, add about 1 or 2 tbsp of mashed banana. Mix well and feed. Adjust the consistency according to your baby's needs.

The options do not end here. You can feed the baby with peas puree, mashed avocado, and other stage 1 foods puree. These are perfect stage 1 foods. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Soppina Huli | Vegan Dandelion Greens Curry | Keerai Sambar | Soppina Sambar : A vegan and gluten friendly side dish

I scrutinize the vegetable section of the grocery store whenever I get a chance. Now, with an eight month old, it's not always possible. Couple of weeks back when I saw dandelion greens at the vegetable section, I was taken aback.

Can you spot these yellow flowers..., these are dandelion flowers and I'm talking about that can see these almost every where in spring season here in America. I stress again.., every nook and corner..

As per my knowledge, they are weeds that grow around the spring time. Dandelions are seen in the nook and corner here in spring season. I was not aware that, they were edible. I didn't dare buy them.
After coming home, I started looking for dandelion greens recipe. Uh uh.., nothing much could be found..but I understood that.., dandelion greens are very good for you. You can read about the health benefits of these greens here, here and here.

I got a big bunch of dandelion greens and made many Indian dishes using the same. We could hardly make out that I have used a new leafy vegetable for cooking. Dandelion greens blend very well with Indian cooking. I have made 6 dishes using dandelion greens so far and everything turned out so yummy!!

Don't call me crazy.., I like to make use of the local and fresh produce as much as possible. They are healthy, and pocket friendly, when compared to the imported counterparts ;)

You could eat this by itself as a thick soup or as a side dish with steamed rice or bread.

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 40 mins
Serves: 4 to 6


  • You could use any greens like amaranthus leaves, malabar spinach, hongone soppu, dantu soppu, harive soppu etc instead of dandelion greens. 
  • Adjust the spice level according to your needs. I have used both green and red chili in this recipe. You could skip one of them, if you want a mild curry.
Dandelion greens: About 3 cups, chopped fine, refer notes
Green gram | Hara moong | Hesru kalu : 1/4 cup
Toor dal | Split pigeon peas: 1/4 cup
Green chili: 2 nos
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Salt: As needed
Water: As needed

For the spice paste:
Oil: 1 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Gram dal | Channa dal | Kadle bele: 1 tsp
Urad dal: 1 tsp
Coriander seeds: 2 t+sp
Cinnamon stick: 1 inch
Garlic: 1 clove, optional
Dry red chili: 2 or 3 nos, non spicy variety
Tamarind: grape sized or 1 tsp, thick extract
Grated coconut: 1/4 cup, fresh or frozen

For the tempering:
Coconut oil: 1 tsp, or any other cooking oil of your choice
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: 4-6 nos, torn

Wash the dandelion greens thoroughly under running water and chop them fine. You can use the stem of the greens too. No need to discard them.
Wash the green gram and toor dal too. Add the lentils to the chopped greens.

Add the whole green chili, turmeric powder and water to the greens and pressure cook the greens mixture for 3 to 4 whistles.

If you do not have a pressure cooker, I suggest soaking the lentils for 30 mins to 1 hour and then cook it in a sauce pan along with the greens. We want the lentils to be overcooked..kind of mushy.
Meantime, let's work on the spice paste. Heat oil in a small wok.
When oil is hot, reduce the heat to low-medium. Add the cumin seeds, channa dal and urad dal. Roast these for couple of minutes.

Then add the coriander seeds, roast again for a minute.

Add the cinnamon stick and garlic. Repeat sauteing and roasting for another minute.

Add the broken red chili and roast again until the chili becomes crispy.
Turn off the heat and add the tamarind.

Allow the spices to cool down. Once they are cool enough to handle add these to a blender.
Add the grated coconut along with the spices and blend it to a smooth paste. You can add some water to make a smooth paste.
Transfer the cooked lentils and greens to a sauce pan. Remove the green chili from the cooked greens and mash it gently. To the mashed greens, add the spice paste and salt.

Adjust the consistency of the curry by adding water. Boil everything together for 5-7 mins.
Prepare the tempering. Heat oil in a small wok, when oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. When seeds splatter, add the curry leaves and turn off the heat.
Pour this tempering over the sambar/curry and enjoy it hot.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Stage 1 Foods: Homemade baby rice cereal | Gluten free cereal for babies

How to make baby rice cereal at home?

I started giving store bought rice cereal (similar to cerelac that you get at India) for my daughter a month ago. However, I wasn't pleased to give her store bought food every day. But, she was too young to eat cooked and mashed rice. If you put the cooked rice in a blender, it becomes goopy. I wasn't comfortable giving that either.

So, I decided to make my own rice cereal. Got some inputs from friends and family and made very little to see if my daughter was able to digest it. Very happy that I made it. My daughter fell sick and was down with stuffy nose and fever. She refused to eat anything. During that time, she consumed very little quantities of this rice cereal.


  • You can flavor this rice cereal with cinnamon powder, dates puree/syrup, cumin powder and give it according to your baby's choice. I chose not to give my baby salt or sugar until she's at least nine months old. I'm also thinking of avoiding gluten (wheat, AP flour and all its derivatives until she's one). It's totally personal choice. But, whenever she gets a bite from her brother's food like dosa, or idly, she does get a taste of salt :) If you don't mind giving salt, season this rice cereal with salt and ghee. It tastes yum!
  • You don't need fancy ingredients to make this cereal. All you need is rice, it could be organic or non organic brown/white/red rice.Again it could be long, medium or short grained rice.  I suggest use the same rice that your family uses everyday to make the baby rice cereal. We use sona masoori rice (medium grain rice) and red rice (Kerala rice) often at our home. So, I have used sona masoori rice to make the rice cereal. 

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Roasting Time: 3-4 mins
Makes around 1.5 cups of baby cereal

Ingredients and Method:
Any rice of your choice: 1 cup

Wash the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Drain the water from the rice and spread the rice on a kitchen cloth/muslin cloth. 

Allow the rice to dry for an hour indoors. 
Dry roast the dried rice on a low-medium heat until the rice puffs up. It will be done in 3-4 mins. 

Look at the below picture to see how the roasted rice looks like. 

Cool the roasted rice and once cool, powder it. 
You can decide whether you want very fine powder or coarse powder. I made mine like fine rawa/semolina/corn meal. 

You baby rice cereal is ready. 
Cool it completely and store it in a air tight container. 

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