Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Aglio e olio: Beginner Series

Aglio e olio, is Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, & chili peppers in Italian! I read about this simplest Italian pasta recipe in one of the cookbooks that I borrowed from the Library. I have made this pasta several times & I just love it, period.

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Serves: 1

Spaghetti : a fistful
Water: Around 1 liter.
Olive oil: 3 tbsp
Garlic: 2 pods, chopped
Broken chili: 1/4 tsp, see notes
Salt: As needed

For the garnish:
Pepper powder: a pinch
Salt: a pinch
Parmesan cheese: 1 tsp, completely optional

For boiling the pasta:
Boil the water in a sauce pan.
When water comes to a boil, salt the water generously & mix. Add couple of drops of olive oil. (See notes)
Slide in the spaghetti.

Let it boil on med-high heat uncovered for 8-12 mins until al dente.

For making the sauce:
Mix in the olive oil, garlic & chili in a saute pan.

Keeping the heat very low, let the garlic turn golden brown. It should take around 8 mins.
The flavors of garlic & chili should get infused in the oil.

Drain the cooked pasta & immediately add the drained pasta to the flavored oil.

Mix well.
Scoop it out on a serving plate, garnish it with salt, freshly cracked pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
Serve immediately.

  • I am repeating again, let the olive oil get heated up in a low heat. This is the secret for the beautifully flavored olive oil.
  • I did not have chili, hence used crushed dry chili.
  • To prevent the pasta from sticking to each other, couple of drops of olive oil is added to the boiling water.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sajjige | Cream of wheat pudding | Sheera

Sun is playing hide & seek from the last couple of months. In fact, I hardly saw him in this period. To add to it, the days are extremely short. All these things add to "not so good quality pictures". I have 20+ recipes along with the pictures waiting in the draft. Since, I am not happy with the pictures I am waiting to make them again, retake the pictures & then share the recipe.

Sajjige is a very simple & quick pudding. Sajjige along with the mashed banana is served as a prasadam/neivedyam/bhog/offering on Satyanarayan Pooja. The recipe calls for just four ingredients...., milk, sugar, ghee (loads of) & cream of wheat. But, you could add other ingredients for flavoring & garnishing the main dish :)

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10-15 mins

  • Cream of wheat/Fine Rawa/Chiroti Rawa: 1 cup
  • Milk: 3 cups (I use 2% milk)
  • Sugar: 3/4th cup*
  • Ghee/Clarified Butter: 1/3 cup, divided use
  • Saffron: a pinch
  • Cardamom powder: a big pinch
For the garnish:
  • Ghee: 1 tbsp
  • Cashew nuts: 1 tbsp
  • Raisins: 1 tbsp

Heat 1/4th cup of ghee in a broad pan. When ghee is hot, pour in the cream of wheat.
Keeping the heat in medium, saute the cream of wheat for 6-8 mins. Keep stirring the cream of wheat to ensure even roasting of the rawa.

Meantime, start heating the milk.
Once the aroma of the roasted rava fills the kitchen, pour the hot milk over the roasted cream of wheat. Mix well.

Throw in the saffron strands & let the cream of wheat cook on a low-medium heat.

In 3-5 mins, the cream of wheat will absorb all the milk & starts leaving the edges of the pan (see pic below).
During this stage, pour in the sugar and the cardamom powder.

Mix well. The cooked rava will loosen up because of the sugar. Keep mixing. Ensure no lumps are formed while mixing.

Add in the remaining ghee & continue mixing for a couple of more minutes. The mixture will thicken, ooze out ghee & starts leaving the edges of the pan.

Remove the pudding from the heat.
Fry the cashew nuts and raisins in ghee. Add the fried nuts to the cooked pudding.

Mix well & serve hot!

  • If your family prefers sweeter sajjige, increase the sugar to 1 cup. I add one cup of sugar when I cook only for my family. When I have guests at home, I add 3/4 cup sugar as most people prefer it that way!
  • Any variety of milk could be used to make this pudding.
  • Do not be stingy in adding ghee. More the better!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Beetroot Palya | Boiled & Sauteed Beets : Beginner Series

There are many dishes I cook often & do not take time to click them before serving. Beetroot palya is one such!! I make this palya to go with Indian flat bread/roti and rice. Palya is called poriyal in Tamil.

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 3-4

Beets: 1 pound
Oil: 2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Skinned black gram/Urad dal: 2 tsp
Gram dal/Channa dal: 1 tsp
Green chillies: 3-4 nos
Curry leaves: 4-6 nos, torn
Salt: As needed
Sugar: 1/2 tsp, optional but recommended
Vaate huli pudi*: 1/2 tsp (refer notes)

For the garnish:
Grated coconut: 3 tbsp, fresh or frozen

Trim the edges of the beets.Add sufficient water to the pressure cooker & drop in the beets along with the skin. Pressure cook the beets for 1 whistle or 15 mins on medium-high heat.
Let the beets cool. Once the beets cool down to room temperature, peel the skin of the beets (Refer notes).
Dice the cooked beets.
In a saute pan, heat oil. When oil is hot, throw in mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal & channa dal.

When dal turns golden brown, add in the green chillies & the curry leaves.

When curry leaves wilt, add the diced beets, salt, sugar, and vaate huli powder.

Toss in medium heat for the seasoning to blend in. Cook it covered on a low heat for another couple of minutes.

Turn off the heat & add the grated coconut. Mix well & serve it with rice or Indian flat bread/roti.


  • Vaate huli pudi or powder is a tangy powder. It is used as a souring agent for stir-fried vegetables (palya in Kannada)by my mom-in-law. It is available in Mangalore/Udupi/Sirsi Districts of Karnataka. It is available in few specialty stores in Bangalore too. I do not have much information about this powder. I would be happy if someone would share more info about this fruit. You could substitute this powder with amchur powder/dry mango powder.
  • Once the beets are cooked, the outer skin can be peeled easily. As easy as peeling the skin of a boiled potato!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rava Pongal | Cream of wheat and lentil porridge

Wish you all a very happy Makar Sankranti | Lohri | Pongal!

Festival for me is all about having great time with family, cooking, eating & serving good food, not to forget to worship the God. We had a great weekend & hence was tired to cook elaborate meal on Monday morning. Since, it is the festival, I did not want to skip the tradition of making the pongal, both khara & sweet! I made this rava pongal instead of the regular rice pongal.

Pongal tastes divine with just a couple of ingredients that goes in. The magic of pongal lies in the ghee/clarified butter that is added!

Here goes the recipe for it.

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins (except the lentil cooking time)
Serves: 2-3

  • Moong dal/Split green gram lentils/Hesaru bele: 1/3 cup
  • Cream of wheat/Rava/Uppittu rave: 1 cup
  • Ghee/Clarified butter/Tuppa: 3 tbsp(divided use)
  • Pepper powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Pepper pods: 6-8 nos
  • Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
  • Cashew nuts: a fistful
  • Curry leaves: 4-5 nos, torn
  • Salt: As needed
  • Water: 3 cups

  • Heat the 1 tsp ghee in a pressure cooker. When ghee is hot, throw in the moong dal & saute the dal on medium heat until it slightly changes its color. Add in around a cup of water & pressure cook the dal for two whistles or 15 mins on medium heat. Allow it to cool.
  • Meantime, heat a tbsp of ghee in a wok. When hot, throw in the cream of wheat & roast on a medium heat for 5-7 mins. The cream of wheat should turn golden brown & the aroma of the roasted rava should fill your kitchen!
  • Boil 3 cups of water in a sauce pan.
  • When the lentils are cooled, mash them thoroughly. (Refer notes)
  • Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a broad pan. When ghee is hot, add in the cumin seeds & the cashew nuts. When nuts turn golden brown, throw in the curry leaves, pepper pods & pepper powder.
  • When curry leaves wilt, add the hot water & salt.
  • Pour in the roasted rava & mix well. Ensure no lumps.
  • Add in the mashed dal & mix again. Cook it covered over low-medium heat for couple of minutes.
  • Turn off the heat. Add couple of teaspoons of ghee, mix well & serve!


  1. My family prefers grainy dal over completely mashed. Hence, I keep them a little coarse (as seen in the picture).
  2. Coconut chutney & kootu is a great combination for pongal.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Palak Pakoras | Spinach Fritters: Carom seeds flavored!

"Wishing you all a very happy & a prosperous new year"

My son asks, who loves spinach more, me or Popeye? I answer back saying, " you are the greatest lover of spinach in the whole world". He happily & proudly asks for second serving of the spinach dish. Because of the above reason, I always have spinach lying in my fridge. I try to make as many dishes as possible using spinach. Some of my spinach delicacies could be found here.

During one of the festivals last year, I made this pakora instead of the cabbage pakora. We relished this with thick rice flakes bisi bele bath.

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 10-15 mins
Serves: 3-4

  • Spinach leaves: About 2 cups finely chopped
  • Gram flour/Besan: 1 cup, a little more or less.
  • Rice flour: 2 tbsp
  • Fine rava/Cream of wheat: 2 tbsp
  • Salt: As needed
  • Red chilli powder: 1 tsp, adjust according to your needs
  • Carom seeds/Ajwain: 1/2 tsp (Refer here for Language Translation to Kannada)
  • Hot oil: 1 tsp
  • Baking soda: a small pinch
  • Water: As needed
For deep frying:
Enough oil for frying the pakoras.


Wash the spinach leaves & chop them fine.
In a medium sized bowl, add all the ingredients mentioned (except the oil for deep frying!).
Mix them well.
Add few tablespoons of water at a time and make a thick batter. Consistency should be like that of a cupcake batter.
Heat oil in a wok. When oil is hot, scoop out a tablespoon of batter directly in the oil & deep fry in a medium heat.
After a couple of minutes, keep moving the fritters in the oil for even cooking. 
When the pakoras turn golden brown, remove them on a paper towel. 
Repeat the procedure with the remaining batter.
Serve the fritters, either with green chutney or with a dip of your choice!

  • For extra crispness, add thinly sliced onions along with the spinach. 
  • Instead of carom seeds, these fritters could be flavored with cumin seeds or grated ginger.

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