Sunday, July 29, 2012

5 years since...

I am 5 years old!!!

Happy 5th Birthday to this dear blogspace of mine. 55000+ views, 60+ followers, 120+ posts old - this is something I cherish as my own. Changing the template every now and then to give it a new look. Eating a new food has a new dimension now - how do I blog?

Thank you, Maa, for instilling this love for good food in me. It is from her that I have learnt to not only cook but also make it presentable by adding garnishes, etc. Baba is ofcourse a picky eater and thus, her challenge is always much more. Thank you, Baba, for introducing me to photography - I can never be as good! No matter how many SLRs I own, I will always think of his Yashica as "the" camera.

Thank you, my dear friends Sonali, Prajakta and Kavita, for always nudging me in the right direction and prodding me to blog when I was going through a lull here. You guys partly own this space - thank you always for your encouraging words!

My blogger friends - Sra, Somoo, Sanoli, Torview and many many more wonderful human beings - this experience is all thanks to you guys! How boring it would be to keep posting without any interaction from the other bloggers out there? Even a simple comment such as "Looks yummy" or "Interesting" goes a long way and means a lot!

Thank you, everyone, for the memories and wonderful experience related this blog - and many mores to come! :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Stir-fried Brocollini and Sweet Bell Peppers


Brocollini - an entire bunch that consists of about 10-15 stalks - remove the leaves
Sweet Bell Pepper - about 10 - remove the stalk and chop into half
Onion - finely chopped or long slices, as per your preference
Toasted Sesame Seeds - 1-2 tbsp

Salt - as per taste
Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Ajinomoto - a pinch
Soya Sauce - 1 tsp
Worchestire Sauce - a few drops
Chilli Powder - optional, as per taste
Sugar - a pinch

Canola oil - 1-2 tbsp


Heat Canola oil.
Add the chopped Onions and let them cook in High heat till they become translucent.
Add the cleaned Brocollini and continue cooking in High Heat for a minute or two. Cover it for 2-3 mins for the stalks to cook and the fresh green color to develop.
Remove the cover and continue cooking.
In a small container, toast the Sesame seeds oil-free and keep them aside. Keep a close watch on them while toasting as they easily brown.
Add the chopped Sweet Bell Peppers and the rest of the ingredients.
Depending on how crunchy you like your veggies, stop cooking appropriately.
Eat it immediately while the veggies are still sizzling.

We had ours as a whole dish by itself and it was quite filling. I am now encouraged to try this with different vegetables! :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Janhi Poda

Janhi aka Ridge Gourd

1 Medium Ridge Gourd aka Janhi (Odiya), skin removed
1/2 Small Onion, chopped finely
1 Green Chilli, chopped finely
Heavy Cream - 1/4 cup


Preheat oven to 400F.
Bake the peeled and cubed into large pieces Janhi for 20 mins.
Remove from oven and keep it covered.
Dab a paper towel on the Janhi to remove the excess water so that the final dish will be less watery than shown in the pic. I missed this step.
Cut the baked Janhi cube into tiny pieces.
As it cools down, add the Onion, Green Chilli and Heavy cream. Mix them together.
Add Salt as per taste and mix again.

Serve as a side-dish with Rice/Roti - some like it with the Odiya summer food Pakhala as well.

This is Maa's recipe. She makes it often for lunch as a side-dish. I bought Janhi after ages since I don't like peeling it. And I remembered this dish - so of course in the next phone call, I was asking her for the recipe even before anything else. First bite into the dish made me nostalgic - the flavors transported me back to the sunny afternoons of my childhood - alas, those days will never come back! Never.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Steinbock restaurant@Lauterbrunnen, Isenfluh and Interlaken..Day 2 Continuation

(Continuation from an earlier post related to Day 2 - Switzerland trip)

After we got back from the falls to Lauterbrunnen, we were very hungry and hit the warm and inviting Steinbock Restaurant right across the station. It took us some time to find someone to seat us - since it was quite warm outside, we ordered a veggie pizza to keep us light for the rest of the day. It was quite tasty though on first look, to be honest, it did not look as inviting.

View outside!
Food click!

Veggie Galore...

After this, we decided to try the cable car ride from an adjoining scenic village Isenfluh. The bus driver was quite grumpy - maybe the only grumpy soul of Switzerland. But the person manning the cable car ride was a cheerful soul - he volunteered to check if the connecting bus back to Lauterbrunnen was still on and confirmed the same for us.

These odd-looking scooters called "Monster-Trotti" are available for rent (at Sulwald) to ride on and get back to Isenfluh. They use the cable car to transport the scooters back to Sulwald - a neat little arrangement they got there! Definitely one of the things I want to try next time..not sure how much my fear of heights will co-operate - we will see!

This is the gorgeous view from up in the mountains of Sulwald. They have a nice little coffee-shop where you can hang-out and relax. I took a stroll down the hiking pathway near the coffee-shop and got these scenic clicks. It was just gorgeous. Reminded me of the New Year cards we used to exchange as kids and they used to have these scenic clicks or some flowers! :) Wonder if anyone lives in the house in this pic - how lucky to live among nature like this!

Coffee shop @ Sulwald, up in the mountains

Cable car on it's way down to Isenfluh - the click was taken from Sulwald!
On our ride back we had a funny experience. Me and my friend got into the cable car alongwith two other people and we closed the door. We are waiting for the person in Isenfluh to trigger the ride back. Nothing happens. A couple come rushing and we open the door for them. They also step in and we close the door. All of waiting uncomfortably in the car - nothing happens. As we start reading the instructions to click the green button, the German couple start laughing. To let us in into their funny moment, they tell us that the instruction in German tells to click the red button. So we are now in a fix and we click one of the two - someone answers from the other end and we are on our way down finally! :)

Lovely mountain wild flowers near the bus stop at Isenfluh

Wilderswil Station on our ride back to Interlaken
Beautiful cuckoo clocks

Some more cuckoo clocks

A good number of Indian restaurants are in Interlaken - quite a surprise for me! There is one "Spice Club of India" about which we heard good reviews from a number of Indian tourists. These are the other ones we found while walking around the downtown in the evening! :) We ended up in a Thai restaurant in an alley-way - don't ask me about it! The hostess behavior was pretty odd - no matter how much I want to blame that on her lack of English-speaking skills, I am not able to! This was the second and last distasteful experience during the entire trip! I wish I remembered that restaurant name and could slam her in Tripadvisor reviews! Anyways, let's keep going with the good memories only.


After the Thai dinner, we treated ourselves to some nice ice-cream and headed to the room. Again, back to the chalkboard on our plans for the next day! :) Oh, I also realized that my bank account was blocked for fraud-alert due to access from foreign country (inspite of my informing them in advance!) - so you can imagine how disgusted I was - anyway, managed through the next two days before it was resolved after a number of frantic international calls to my bank! So this was some drama .. but I am proud that I refused let it spoil my vacation mood! Took some conscious effort ... :)

Day 1 - Geneva to Resort in Ovronnaz, Valais
Day 2 - Trummelbach Falls and Isenfluh, Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken (Day 2 Morning)
Day 3 - Wengen, Klein Scheidegg, Jungfrau and Grindelwald
Day 4 - Basel and Bern
Day 5 - Lucerne, Golden Pass Tour through Zweissimen, Saanen, Gstaad, Montbovon, Montreux
Day 6 - Zermatt and Glacier Express to Andermatt
Day 7 - Back to Geneva and home

Day 2 Afternoon Travel was primarily this:

View Larger Map

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Upma using Ready mix


Potato - 1 Medium, chopped into tiny cubes
Cauliflower - 1 cup, tiny pieces

Boil Potato and Cauliflower for a few mins to cook the tiny pieces. Keep aside after draining. Add cold water if you over-boiled and need to stop the cooking process immediately.

Canola oil - 1 tbsp
Chopped onion - 1 Medium
Green Chilli - 1-2, chopped
Rava Uppuma Mix - store-bought, a mix of Semolina, some lentils such as Chana dal and Urad dal with mustard seeds and dry curry leaves - 2-3 cups

Water : 2 times the amount of Rava Uppuma Mix


 Heat Canola oil.
Add chopped Onions and Green Chillis and let it cook till the Onion is translucent.
Add the cooked Potato and Cauliflower.
Add Water and let it boil in High heat after mixing well.
Slowly stir in the Upma mix and keep stirring in circles so that lumps do not form.
Cover the container for a few mins in Medium heat.
Serve hot. We love ours with Coconut Chutney.

Coconut chutney

Grind 1 cup coconut, few sprigs of fresh Coriander leaves, 1-2 Green Chillis, 1/2 cup Yogurt, 1 pinch Sugar, Salt to taste.
For tempering, heat 1 tsp Canola oil and add 1 tbsp Chana Dal, 1 tsp Urad Dal, 5-6 fresh Curry leaves and a pinch of Asofoetida/Hing.
Add to the ground Coconut paste and pulse it a few times to mix all the ingredients.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sweet Bell Pepper Fried Rice

Worried about leftover Rice - one recipe to use the same without making it taste or feel like a reuse dish. Just made up this word "reuse dish"! ;) Another recipe I love with leftover Rice is Tamarind Rice using store bought Tamarind spice mix. Enjoy this Bell Pepper-based colorful fried Rice in the meanwhile...

4 servings

  • Cabbage - 1/2 cup, chopped into long slices
  • Sweet Bell Pepper - 7-8, chopped into half and then each half chopped into three long slices
  • Onion - 1/2 large, chopped into long slices

  • Eggs - 3-4, scrambled.
  • Cooked Rice - 3-4 cups
  • Ajinomoto - a dash
  • Green Onion - 1-2 stalks, chopped into 1-inch slices
  • Salt - as per taste
  • Pepper - as per taste (1/8 tsp maybe)

  • Tomato Ketchup - 2 tbsp
  • Chilli Sauce - 1 tbsp (adjust to taste)
  • Soya Sauce - 1 tsp
  • Worcestershire Sauce - 1/2 tsp

  • Lemon juice - a dash, just for tanginess (optional, if you used Chilli - Vinegar)
  • Canola oil - 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp for frying the Veggies and Eggs.

Note - All veggies need to be cut into similar sizes for aesthetic sense! :)


  • Heat Canola oil and scramble the Eggs with a dash of Salt. A dash of Chilli powder is also ok to add here. Keep aside.
  • Heat Canola oil and in High heat toss the Cabbage to cook lightly while maintaining the crunch. Keep aside.
  • Heat Canola oil and in High heat toss the Onions. 
  • As the Onions are half-cooked, add the chopped Sweet Bell Peppers. Toss and mix well.
  • Add Soya Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce. Mix well.
  • Add Tomato Ketchup and Chilli Sauce. Mix well.
  • Add the cooked Rice and mix well. Lightly fold the Rice so that it does not get mushy!
  • Add the scrambled Eggs and cooked Cabbage.
  • Add Salt, Pepper and Ajinomoto and mix well. Mix them well and let them cook in Medium heat for 2-3 mins.
  • Add the Green Onion and mix it. Cover the fried rice for 5-10 mins in Low heat for the flavors to inter-mingle. 
Enjoy this as-is or with a side-dish such as R had his with "Chicken Rakeshi", more on the name later! ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vegetarian Chili with Guacamole

Vegeterian Chili with Guacamole
Avocado and Guacamole are synonymous for me. When I am talking about Guacamole, I should admit that I have mentally check myself that I am not saying Avocado! In the past, I would get Gua.. eh, Avocado and could not know how to determine it was ripe and would eventually end up spoiling it. Not good - so this time in my latest frenzy of trying out new vegetables, I was determined to not repeat Avocado history @ Pragyan's.

From the grocery store, I picked up the toughest to touch Avocado and brought it home to store immediately in the refrigerator. On checking the next day, it was still tough to touch. Same story the day after as well. Time to google - learned that I should leave it outside in a brown bag to ripen. Left outside for two days, they were soft to touch but not squishy. Immediately moved it back to the refrigerator and it stayed good for three days before I remembered about them again! Lucky - they were still good. And I got to enjoy my FIRST home-made Guacamole!! (as I usually say, drum rolls and trumpet please! ;))

Info from the link "How to ripen Avocados?"
  • Place 2-3 avocados in a brown paper bag and store at room temperature. If you don't have paper bags on hand, wrapping them in newspaper will also do.
  • For even quicker ripening, add an apple or a tomato to the bag.
  • Check daily to see if avocados are ripe yet. Don't just judge by their color, as some varieties will retain their green color, even when ripe, rather than turning a deep greenish brown.
  • Ripe avocados will peel easily and are soft, yet still firm and not squishy.
  • Extra Tip: If your avocados are ripening before you have a chance to eat them, place them in the crisper of your refrigerator, as this will help them keep a bit longer once they are ripe.
 To cut the Avocado, put the knife through till you hit the core seed. Circle the knife through the entire diameter. And then slowly tug one-half to pull it apart. To remove the core, slowly hit the core and get the knife caught in it. With a slight tug, the core will come apart. Loved this part of cutting this vegetable! :) Next using a spoon, core out the flesh from the skin and you will have them apart as shown in the pic below. Immediately squeeze some lime juice on the Avocados to prevent them from browning and thus, oxidizing. I used the shells as containers to serve the Guacamole - they looked very pretty! :)

Here is the Guacamole recipe that I followed with slight modification as per our taste preference and availability of ingredients.


    1 Avocado, halved, seeded and peeled
    1 Lime, juiced
    1/2 teaspoon Salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin-Chilli Powder (Link)
    1/2 medium onion, diced
    1 Medium Tomato, seeded and diced
    1 tablespoon chopped Cilantro
    1 clove garlic, minced


In a large bowl place the scooped Avocado pulp and Lime juice, toss to coat.
Add Salt and Cumin-Chilli powder. Mash them roughly. I like to have good chunks of Avocado in my Guacamole. Mash them as per your preference.
Fold in the Onions, Tomatoe, Cilantro, and Garlic.Mix well softly.
Wrap the container in plastic wrap to prevent further oxidation of the Avocados, if you are not eating them right away. Enjoy them with Chips, Tacos, etc - I enjoyed mine with Chili and they tasted awesome together!

Homemade Guacamole

The Chili recipe shown below is a modification of this recipe, again as per our taste preference and availability of ingredients.The addition of Yellow Squash to this recipe gives it a slightly sweet taste which I relished a lot.


1 Medium Onion, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tbsp Canola oil
2 Medium Tomatoes
3 tbsp Tomato sauce
1 tsp ground Cumin-Chilli Powder (Link)
1/2 tsp Black Pepper powder
1 medium Yello Squash, chopped into not too tiny pieces
2-3 cup water
1 cup Red Kidney Beans, soaked overnight and pressure-cooked in Medium-High heat for one whistle and cook five minutes thereafter in Medium heat
2-3 tbsp fresh Coriander leaves


In a heavy-bottom utensil, heat Canola oil.
Add chopped Onion and Garlic until tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in chopped Tomatoes, Tomato sauce, Cumin-Chilli powder, Black Pepper.
When the Tomatoes are half-cooked, add the chopped Yellow Squash.
Mix them with the rest of the mixture and let it cook for 5 mins.
Add water and bring it to a boil.
Reduce heat and let it simmer covered (note!), for 10 minutes. I used the timer to be sure I was not overdoing it.
Stir in the cooked Red Kidney Beans.
Bring it to a boil again.
Reduce heat and let it simmer uncovered (note!), for 10 minutes.
Stir in fresh Coriander leaves.
Serve hot with the cool Guacamole as a side-dish!

Disclaimer - "This sponsorship is brought to you by Avocados From Mexico who we have partnered with for this promotion."

Home-made Ghee (Ghee-a in Odiya)

Ghee or clarified butter adds a new flavor to Rice\Roti\Paratha. I remember a few instances when I had no appetite and just mixing Rice with Ghee and a pinch of salt was a complete meal! Adding the Ghee tempering to lentils gives it a different type of taste boost. Most people tend to avoid it as a fattening ingredient; few know that it has digestive properties and helps avoid constipation. The wikipedia entry for Ghee has more information.

Love the golden color!

I follow the recipe on this link which is repeated below. I make it almost once a year and have been doing so for the past nine years. I first learned of this technique roughly from my MIL when she was visiting me right after my wedding. In our climatic conditions, I can just leave the prepared ghee in an air-tight container in a shelf and it stays good for months together. I should add here that whenever my mom used to make Ghee when I was a kid, I used to wait for the milk solids that are the remnants of the Ghee preparation process - add a spoon of sugar and enjoy the nutty flavors. For health-conscious reasons, I don't do that anymore - it is really tough to hold back on that temptation though! ;)

1 pound unsalted butter


Put the butter in a heavy, medium-sized pan. Turn the heat on to medium until the butter melts.
Turn down the heat until the butter just boils and continue to cook at this heat. Do not cover the pot. The butter will foam and sputter while it cooks. Whitish curds will begin to form on the bottom of the pot. The butter will begin to smell like popcorn after a while and turn a lovely golden color. Keep a close watch on the ghee, as it can easily burn. After a while it will become a clear, golden color. You will have to take a clean, dry spoon to move away some of the foam on top in order to see if the ghee is clear all the way through to the bottom. When it is clear and has stopped sputtering and making noise, then it needs to be taken off the heat. Let it cool until just warm. Pour it through a fine sieve or layers of cheesecloth into a clean, dry glass container with a tight lid. Discard the curds at the bottom of the saucepan. The ghee is burned if it has a nutty smell and is slightly brown.
1 pound of butter takes about 15 minutes of cooking time. The more butter you are using, the more time it will take.
Ghee can be kept on the kitchen shelf, covered. It does not need refrigeration. The medicinal properties are said to improve with age. Don’t ladle out the ghee with a wet spoon or allow any water to get into the container, as this will create conditions for bacteria to grow and spoil the ghee.
Two pounds of butter will fill a quart jar with ghee.

Some other tips I came across while googling and would love to try them when I am making the next round of Ghee:
  • Even Alton Brown could not resist making ghee here!
  • Mailing list reply by Debra here
    • ..the best way that I have learned to make ghee is in the oven.  Preheat 350 degrees F.  I take my big white corning roaster and put in my unsalted organic butter.  Usually 3 lbs. worth.  No lid.  Once the oven has reached it's heat level I place the roaster and the butter in the oven and let it melt down.  I use my oven timer for one hour to make sure that I don't forget about it.......
      Once the timer has gone off, I turn the oven down to 325 F, I keep setting the timer  for 10 minutes at a time until the ghee has boiled down and there is nothing left on top and brown things on the bottom.  It is usually a golden to light brown color.  I then pour it into a big glass bowl that has a wire mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth about four folds worth.  Then I ladle it into small little jars with lids.  Once the cheesecloth has cooled I can still manage to squeeze out a fair amount of ghee from it. I use that jar first.
  • The post here recommends adding yogurt and a pinch of salt for longer shelf life and flavor.
  • Sharmi's post here
    • You can use rock salt or curry leaves or drumstick leaves dipped in buttermilk and add it at the last stage.
    • Adding drumstick leaves or curry leaves makes the ghee more flavourful and will help stay so for a longer time.
    • Do the whole process in low or medium low flame to avoid burning.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

100 degree weekend BBQ - Paneer, Zucchini, Yellow squash and Onions ...

Ingredients for Zucchini, Yellow squash and Onions BBQ

Onions - 2 large
Zucchini - 1 medium
Yellow squash - 1 medium


Cut them into slices as shown in the pic. Marinate them with Wishbone Italian Salad dressing for an hour or so. Make sure to mix them well every 30 mins or so for uniform marinating.

Ingredients for Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese) BBQ

Paneer - 1 small block, as shown in the pic - I use store-bought Paneer
Tandoori Masala - 1 tbsp (I use Shan brand)
Chicken Tikka BBQ Masala - 1 tbsp (I use Shan brand)
Greek Yogurt - 2 tbsp
Ginger - just a dash, grated


Mix them all well and keep them aside for an hour.

Grill them taking care not to over-burn them..speaking from experience! ;) Not that I have do much other than marinating when it comes to barbecue coz R is a master griller and he also enjoys it. He loves trying out new meats and seasonings as much as I do.

One fruit that I had this weekend after years was the Pink Guava. Used to love it as a kid - the pink color makes it so very colorful. During our trip to Hawaii last year, I must have drunk gallons and gallons of Guava juice!! Ah..Hawaii!! :)
Have a great Summer! :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Soya Cutlets


Soya granules - 1 cup
Potato - 2 medium, boiled and mashed
Green Chilli - 2 -3, chopped
Mint leaves - few sprigs
Onion - 1 medium, chopped into tiny pieces
Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
Salt - as per taste
Turmeric Powder - a dash, for color
Ginger - 1 tsp, grated


Add hot water to the Soya granules and let it sit for 15-20 mins.
Hold the soaked granules between both your hands and apply pressure to remove the water.
Keep it aside.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix them well.

Taking small portions (3-4 tbsp) of the mix at a time and using your hand, form the shape as shown in the pics above to form cutlets.

Heat the oil in a flat skillet where you can cook multiple cutlets at a time.
Layout the cutlet in the warm flat skillet and let it cook one side completely before turning it over to cook the other side.

Garnish with fresh sprigs of Mint leaves or Cilantro. If serving as snack, some chopped Onion and fresh Lime slice is good as an accompaniment. Since the Soya does not have a strong flavor, adding a little extra heat using Chilli Powder enhances the taste.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Trummelbach Falls and Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Day 2 Morning

We are up early and ready to catch the 7:30 connection to Lauterbrunnen. I still can't believe we used to catch the 6:30AM\7:30AM buses during a vacation, particularly with my history of "almost" always missing my school bus and company bus during my internship and 1st job at Bangalore. A little sceptical if we will make all the connections - anyways, let's take the hike literally. :) While walking to the stop, we see this para-glider over our resort and are tempted to try it out as well one of those days but we just could not make any time for this similar to our other plan of spending a day on a winery tour! Note to self to do that next time! ;)

The travel from Ovronnaz to Leytron to Sion to Spiez to Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen to Trummelbach falls involved a combination of bus and train rides with scenic mountains, springs and falls for visual delight.

Particularly stunning was the ride from Spiez to Interlaken beside Lake Thun. How serene it must be for the people in the boat? Hmmm...In this ride, met a couple from Virginia and what a different feeling finding someone from your own place far far away!

The ride to Lauterbrunnen by the gushing water-flow is another sight to behold. And of course, shown so often in the Hindi movies. Lauterbrunnen valley by itself is a sight to behold with the flat terrain surrounded by mountains with waterfalls in every next mountain - maybe I will retire here someday! Don't take me seriously here - I have once too often retired myself in my vacation spot of choice...The snow capped peaks in the background are breath-taking views!

When I had read about Trummelbach falls, I thought (of course, incorrectly) that it will be an idyllic trip with a few other people for company. Well, I was in for a surprise - let me put it that I felt like I was on the bus ride to Mysore Gardens. It is close to Interlaken - the mecca of Indian honeymooners and family vacations.

The Trummelbach fall is scenic - absolutely loved the sound of splashing glacial waters making their way to warmer terrains and flat-lands of the valley below. There are a series of steps that take you to the higher falls - an amazing and literally cool experience! :) Be prepared to walk and take the steps if you are visiting this place and I would recommend everyone to do this - it definitely added a different dimension to our Switzerland trip!

Entrance to the caves of Trummelbach Falls

Inside the caves - glacial waters from the Jungfrau and other closeby mountains rolling down the mountains towards the valley as falls and streams - loved the splashing sound as well as the cool drops of water in contrast to the warm sunshine outside.

At the end of the caves of Trummelbach Fall

Day 1 - Geneva to Resort in Ovronnaz, Valais
Day 2 - Trummelbach Falls and Isenfluh, Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken 
Day 3 - Wengen, Klein Scheidegg, Jungfrau and Grindelwald
Day 4 - Basel and Bern
Day 5 - Lucerne, Golden Pass Tour through Zweissimen, Saanen, Gstaad, Montbovon, Montreux
Day 6 - Zermatt and Glacier Express to Andermatt
Day 7 - Back to Geneva and home

Day 2 Travel was primarily this:

View Larger Map

(More of Day 2 to follow in another post...)