Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cocomango Laddu (Sweet Meatballs)

It's a tradition in most Indian festivals to make sweets. My mom always made the sweets at home because it was easy to monitor the taste. My mom and my brother had the sweet tooth when I was growing up. My dad and I would like the dish to be barely sweet so when she made the dishes she would usually reduce the sugar content so that we would at least eat some of it.

Today was Rakhsha Bandhan the festival where sisters tie Rakhi on their brothers wrists and pray for their longevity. The brothers are expected to protect and take care of their sisters. I had the kids perform this function in the evening after work and school. Since I hadn't prepared anything ahead of time, I resorted to my time tested recipe of quick Mango laddus ( sweet mango meatballs ).  These sweet meatballs are called 'laddus' in Hindi. They can be made of gram flour, semolina and other types of ground grains. I find that the coconut laddus are the fastest and easiest to make.            


1 cup grated dried (dessicated) coconut 
1/4 cup condensed milk
3 tbsp mango pulp
2 cardamoms pods
1 tbsp golden raisins

Above quantity yields about 20 small laddus.


Crush the cardamom pods and peel the shell. Grind the seeds into a powder. I have a small mortar and pestle made of stainless steel that I use for these type of small quantity grinding. Heat a saucepan on medium heat and roast the dried finely grated coconut. Keep stirring constantly to ensure even roasting. When the coconut starts to turn golden in about 4 - 5 minutes, add the condensed milk and continue stirring for about 5 more minutes. Add the mango pulp, the cardamom powder and the raisins and stir for 5 more minutes. By now the consistency is thick enough to make the stirring/mixing difficult.

Let the mixture cool in a plate. Grease your clean hands with clarified butter (ghee). Take a spoonful of the mango coconut mixture and roll it into a sphere. 

Cooking time : 15 minutes
Rolling time: 10 minutes
Total time : 25 minutes


  • Instead of rolling into laddus pour the cooked mixture in a flat dish with raised edges like a pie dish. Spread it evenly and press firmly. Let it set for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator then with a knife cut in diamond shapes to make coconut mango barfi.
  • You can also add a few strands of saffron for a richer flavor and deeper yellow color.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Super Easy Red (purple) Cabbage sabji

I like using red cabbage for a little variety and color to the dinner table. I had seen this cabbage used in salads before but wanted to see how it would taste cooked in Indian style with all the spices. My experiment turned out pretty tasty ( I can say that especially since hubby told MIL that it looks and tastes good ).

What you need: 

1/2 red cabbage chopped in long pieces

1/2 tsp rai (mustard seeds)
2 tsp urad dal
1/8 tsp haldi (turmeric pwd)
1/8 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds pwd
1/4 tsp green chilli paste or 1 green chilli finely chopped
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt (or as per your taste)

Wash the entire cabbage head before cutting. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. Once they start sputtering, add the urad dal. Stir. Once the dal starts turning shades of red, add methi powder, haldi and green chilli. Keep stirring as you add each ingredient. Turn the heat to medium low once green chilli enters the pan. Add the chopped cabbage and stir well till it is mixed with the spices. Then add the salt and stir / mix again. Cook uncovered for about 8-10 minutes stirring intermittently. 
If you cover the pan, the cabbage will turn out all mushy. The final consistently should be well cooked but yet crunchy. 

Serve hot with roti and dal or use as filling for a variation of spring dosa.

Prep time 5 min
Cook time ~ 10 min
Total time 15 min

Variation: Try adding curry leaves after the udad dal - it will give a richer flavour. I didn't have it on hand today so I skipped it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Super Yummy Super Easy Chocolate cake

I have taken PTO for the entire week before school reopens to spend fun time with the kids just chilling out. Yesterday was hubby's birthday. I decided to bake a cake. Though my interest in the kitchen has gone up dramatically, I still look for easy and simple ways to get the desired results. After searching on the internet, I decided to combine things from here and there to see if I could make a lip smacking cake. It had to be chocolate cake as 3 out of 4 members in my family love chocolate. ( Who cares what the birthday boy prefers? ;)  - anyway, it's too soon for me to try a Tiramisu ).  I ended up using the recipe on with minor modifications of my own.
The result was a yummylicious 2 tiered cake! Then I had go and try to apply the frosting and spoil the look.... I wish I had taken a picture of the cake before the frosting. A friend later told me that there are separate knives for applying frosting on cake.

Cake with whipped cream frosting


What you need:

For the Cake

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
1/2 cup milk 
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

For the Frosting

Heavy whipping cream 3 cups
1 tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp instant coffee pwd

How to do it:

Put all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix. I used my electric hand mixer for all the mixing and blending and whipping for this cake. Then add all the remaining ingredients except the water and mix / blend at low to medium speed until you get a smooth paste. Then add the boiling water and mix at high speed. This is to add air and fluff the mixture. Apparently the last step helps make the cake very light and fluffy.

Preheat the oven at 350°F. Pour the cake mixture in a prepared baking pan. The pans can be prepared by coating them lightly with butter or lining with butter paper. For making a 2 tiered cake, use springform pans in 2 sizes. Mine were 8" and 4" diameter. 
Bake for 35 minutes. Check the smaller cake after 25 minutes with a toothpick in the center. It can be removed for cooling while the bigger layer is still cooking. 

Once cooled. Cut off the top layer with a knife to level the cake and put the smaller cake on the bigger one. 

Then you can cover with frosting of your choice. I used whipped cream. Take chilled heavy whipping cream in a mixing bowl and whipped on medium speed until stiff. If you prefer add sugar to the whipping cream to sweeten it. I left it unsweetened. Cover your cake with the whipped cream. Add the cocoa pwd and coffee to part of the whipped cream and use it for the decoration. I yet have to practice this technique to get the pretty results I see in the recipe pictures.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Camouflage Lachha Paratha

My 3 year old has stopped touching veggies since the last couple of months. I am able to get some into his mouth if they are disguised. The kids love paratha so I usually blend leftover veggies and knead the flour in that to make regular parathas but since the sabji from yesterday was quite spicy, I figured I'd just prepare from scratch and use brussell sprouts and brocolli.

My sister in law recently was visiting from india and taught  me how to make lachha (layered) parathas. It's such an easy process that even I can make these super fast! 
15 brussell sprouts
10-15 brocolli florets
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp flax seed flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
water to knead the flour

Wash the brussell sprouts and brocolli florets and cook them in a pressure cooker with 3/4 cups of water. After 3-4 whistles, remove the cooker from the flame and once the pressure has subsided, open the cooker and allow the contents to cool.
Blend this into fine puree with a hand mixer. In a large mixing bowl add flour, flax seed flour, salt and mix. Add the pureed veggies and the yogurt and knead till the dough is soft. You can use a little water if needed. Then divide the dough into ~ 10 -12 round balls and keep them covered to prevent drying.

Take 1 ball, flatten it  and roll it in flour.

With a rolling pin (belan) make a roti. 
Spread Ghee or olive oil . 

Sprinkle dry flour all over the ghee. 

Using the edge of a spoon make a cut from center to edge. 

It will look like this. 

Start rolling it into a cone.

This is how it will look.

Dip both ends into flour and flatten it by pulling the broad end slowly over the narrow end and pressing the narrow part in at the same time.

It should look like this. Some of the layers will be visible.
 Put some dry flour on it and flatten it into a circle using the rolling pin with light pressure so that you can see the layers.
Cook it on a hot tava with ghee and serve hot with Raita and pickle.

You can use any vegetable for this. Just cook ( steam/boil ) and puree. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Oats Cheela / Oats Pancake

I love oats for various reasons. They are healthy, easy to prepare, taste nice - this is my description of the typical oats cereal cooked in water and add milk, honey, almonds, walnuts and raisins. Hubby dear is okay with this but to get my picky little ones to eat this is like climbing a slippery slope of a mountain.

While browsing I happened upon this yummy recipe for oats idli at : . After attempting it last weekend for breakfast, the remarks from the family were encouraging.... So much so that I was motivated to experiment. This is my modification to make pancakes (or dosa or cheela). I changed the ratio to increase the amount of oats.


Oats - 11/2 cups
Semolina - 1/3 cup
Onion - 1 chopped finely
Carrot - 1 grated
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt as per your taste
Yogurt - 1 cup or 
Buttermilk - 2 cups

For Tempering:

Mustard seeds - 1tsp
Udad dal (split black gram dal) - 1 1/2 tbsp
Green chilly paste - 1/2 packed tsp or 2 chillies finely chopped
Curry leaves - 7-8 leaves
Coriander leaves or Dried Fenugreek leaves - 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Oil - 1 1/2 teaspoon


- Dry roast oats in a pan till light brown. This removes the stickiness.
-  Grind into a powder.

- In a deep non-stick pan, heat 1 tsp oil. Add mustard seeds till they start spluttering then add udad dal.

- When the dal turns red, add the curry leaves and green chilli paste, tumeric powder and onions.
- Add the grated carrot and saute for 2 min.
- Add semolina and saute further for 4 min.
- Add the coriander leaves and turn off the heat (if using fenugreek leaves, crush them between your              hands before adding).
- Cool the mixture and pour in a mixing bowl and add the powdered oats with salt and yogurt. Whisk it while adding water gradually till the consistency is thin enough (like pancake or dosa batter)

- Put a few drops of oil on a non-stick pan. Use medium heat. Pour about 1/2 cup batter. It should spread by itself. Cover with a lid and lower the flame a bit. After about 3 min, remove lid and flip the pancake. Cook for about 3-4 min. Both sides should be slightly browned and a little crispy.

Serve hot with coconut, garlic or coriander chutney.

03 July 2013: Tweaked the recipe today morning abit. I was planning on making Oat Idlis and I have an idli stand which can make 12 small idlis at a time in the pressure pan. I decided to bake them instead so that I can use up all the batter at one go instead of 4-5 15 minute sessions with my pressure pan. I greased my muffin trays with butter and poured about 2.5 tbsp of batter in each slot and baked them at 370 degrees farenheit for 15 minutes. I also put a vessel of plain water in the oven along with the muffin trays to keep them moist.
Nutrition note: I added grated brocolli along with carrots for these.
Here is the result:

These are from my animal muffin tray. The kids took namkeen (salty) animal oatcakes for lunch today :) .