Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year 2010

One of my dear friend had sent this wish to me a couple of years ago. Now I am passing this "Loaded" New Year Wish to all my blogger/browser buddies worldwide. Here's to a Happy, Halcyon and Prosperous New Year.

May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stocks not fall.
May your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgage interest not rise.
May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastro-enterologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your plumber and the I.R.S.
May New Year's Eve find you seated around the table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends.
May you find the food better, the environment quieter, the cost much cheaper, and the pleasure much more fulfilling than anything else you might ordinarily do that day.
Wish You all a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2010!

Asparagus and Mushroom Curry

Asparagus may be considered as 'The Aristocrat of Vegetables' but it is also the most under appreciated vegetable because most people don't care to try it all that much or plain don't like the taste of it. The second under-appreciated vegetable in my opinion has to be mushroom as many of the vegetarians shy away from it because of its meaty taste.I used to be one of them. But not any more. I have come to love these vegetables and make it a a point to make something out of them now and then.Roasting the Asparagus and Mushroom will bring out the sweetness and make them taste better than they already do. Further the roasted vegetables get an added dimension of flavor from the gravy.The end-result is a dish that makes an excellent and healthy topper for rice or a nice side-dish for just about anything.
Am sending this as an entry for "Create for a chilli Chopper" event hosted by Sanju Modha@ KORasoi.

  • Asparagus - 1/2 bunch (about 7-8 stalks)
  • Button Mushroom - 1/2 cup (about 10#s)
  • Roma Tomato - 3, medium, diced
  • Red Onion - 1, small, medium, diced
  • Chilli powder - 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
  • Cracked pepper - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Ginger/Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
  • Green chilli - 2, verticaly slit
  • Olive oil - 3 tbsp
  • Salt - for taste
  • Clean the asparagus by holding it upside down under cold running water.
  • Hold both the ends of the asparagus in both hands and bend slighly. The stalk will snap at a point. Seperate the edible part and drain on a paper towel.
  • Clean the mushroom with a moist paper/tea towel.
  • Smear the cleaned asparagus and mushroom with little oil, cracked pepper and salt. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease a cookie sheet with a little olive oil and roast the cleaned vegetables for 15 minutes or less.
  • In a thick bottomed pan, add the olive oil and heat until it smokes slightly.
  • Add the cumin seeds, turmeric powder. After a few seconds, add the ginger/garlic paste and fry till it loses its raw smell.
  • Add the chopped onion and saute until they are browned.
  • Follow-up with tomato, chilli powder, green chilli and little salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes with little water on a low flame with lid closed until a nice gravy is formed.
  • Add the roasted vegetables and saute for about 5 minutes.Check for salt before removing from the stove.
  • Serve hot over plain/flavored rice or on the side for flat breads, noodles, fish or meat.
Makes 2 servings.

Tip: Roasting step is entirely optional.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

RecipeReplica: Chicken Curry with a Sourashtrian Spin

This recipe has been adopted from the recipe-hub of one fabulous blogger with an extra-fabulous blogspot.She is none other than Radhika Vasanth of Sourashtrian Kitchen.She has a wealth of recipes and exciting events happening in her spot. The minute I saw her Madurai-style(Sourashtrian) chicken recipe with its swanky name, I wanted to try it. So try I did with variations and was I happy? Yes, overjoyed cause it turned out so well.Thanks, RV for letting me try and text it.

  • Chicken Drumsticks - 10
  • Red Onion - 2, large, finely diced
  • Tomato - 2, medium, finely diced
  • Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Chilli Powder - 1 tsp or more
  • Turmeric Powder - a pinch
  • Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Salt for taste
  • Cracked pepper and salt - 1 tsp, for marinating the chicken
  • Mint and coriander leaves - a handful, chopped, for garnish
To Grind:
  • Cinnamon Stick - 1/2
  • Cloves - 3
  • Fennel Seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Pepper corns - 2 tsp
  • Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
  • Put deep slits on the chicken drumsticks and smear a tsp of cracked pepper and salt. Set aside.
  • Dry roast all the ingredients under "To Grind" on a low flame until it gives a nice aroma.
  • Cool the roasted spices and coarsely grind in a blender.
  • In a thick bottomed pan, add a tbsp of olive oil and heat until it smokes.
  • Sear the chicken and brown them in batches. Set aside.
  • In the same pan, add the remaining olive oil and add the diced onions.Saute it until browned.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and follow up with turmeric powder.
  • Saute the mixture until the paste loses raw smell.
  • Throw in the tomato, chilli powder, cracked pepper and salt.
  • Sprinkle a little water and cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes until a nice gravy is formed.
  • Now add the chicken, ground spices and gently mix until the chicken is well coated with the masala.
  • Add a few cups of water and cook on a medium flame with the lid closed for another 30 minutes or so.
  • Switch off the stove and garnish with chopped herbs.
Tip: This came out on the spicy side. People who don't care for much heat should reduce the amount of  chilli, pepper and ginger and use as required.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

RecipeReplica: Star Embossed Health-Mix N Oats Cookies

I have to thank Priya of Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes as she was kind enough to let me borrow her Ragi Cookie Recipe. Priya is one of the most dedicated bloggers I have come across. She has one-post-a-day policy of sorts and we all can count on her to come up with something nice and yummy everyday. She brings a whole new meaning to the word "dedication".Priya, You go girl!
Coming to the cookies, I made some alterations to the ingredients and ended up with the melt-in-your-mouth cookies which was a true hit during Thanksgiving.Additionally, I embossed these cookies with stars on the top to embrace the festive spirit.Sending this as an entry to Cakes and Cookies event hosted by Sara.

  • Manna Health Mix Flour - 1 1/2 cups
  • Quick Oats - 1/2 cup
  • All purpose flour - 1/2 cup
  • Baking Powder - 1 tsp
  • Baking Soda - 1/4 tsp
  • Packed Brown Sugar - 1/4 cup
  • Sugar - 1/2 cup
  • Butter - 1/2 stick, softened
  • Milk - 3/4 cup
  • Cardamom Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Powdered Cashews - 2 tbsp
  • Dried Figs - 3, finely chopped in a food processor
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a bowl, beat both the sugars and softened butter.
  • To it add baking powder, cashew powder, baking soda, chopped figs, both the flours, quick oats and knead to a soft dough.
  • Divide the dough into 20-25 even sized balls and flatten it using your palm.
  • Arange them about an inch apart on a greased cookie sheet.
  • Emboss the top of the cookie with a star-shaped cookie cutter for a festive touch.
  • Bake for about 25-30 minutes and completely cool on a cooling rack prior to serving.
Makes 20-25 Cookies.


Acknowledging Awards - 2

I love awards. This little beauty was passed on to me by Aruna Manikandan of Veggie Paradise many moons ago. Thanks a bunch Aruna.

The next couple of awards have been passed by Sailaja Damodaran of Sailaja's Kitchen. Thanks for your generosity.

This pretty award was given to me by Sumi of Sumi's Kitchen a couple of weeks ago. Thanks Sumi.

Last but certainly not the least, this was shared by AshaLatha of Asha-Oceanichope. I love it. Thanks a lot, Asha.

I too would like to be generous in sharing this with my blogger buddies. Please accept it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Flashback to the Day of my Eye Surgery

As per me, women fall into 3 broad category when it comes to beauty –

1. Women WHO ARE CONTENT with god-given beauty. How I envy them!
2. Women WHO WILL BE CONTENT only if their beauty rivals that of Cleopatra. How I feel sorry for them!
3. Women WHO ARE NEITHER CONTENT NOR DISCONTENT. Now, I who fall into this category, am mad at myself for being blessed with an indecisive brain that puts me in this limbo-state.

Well,Overall I am happy with the way I look but there are times when I wish my nose was sharper, my frame taller or my vision brighter. The latter thought/wish has been on the forefront of my mind and kept getting stronger ever since I came back from my trip to Italy. Why? One big reason – SUNGLASSES. High-end designer shades adorned everyone’s face and I was green with envy by the time I came home. Now you all might wonder what I am getting at. Be patient and read on..

Due to my high power(Did I mention that I used to be blind as a bat without my soda-bottle thick-lensed glasses?) I can’t wear certain sunglasses, especially the “wrapped” frames. You see, high-powered prescription sunglasses can’t be bent due to refractive properties and such. I craved for wearing one such pair cause it gives an instant makeover to anyone who wears it. No surgery needed. LoL. Who wouldn’t want to look better than what they are? I did mention I wasn't a Category1 girl. Didn’t I? I could have tried it on with contacts in my eyes. But I am allergic to contacts. Therefore my non-surgical options were NIL. So I have to say this lust for Sunglasses guided me like a beacon to the Lasik-shore. Why was I hesitant to try this option before? Due to my overactive imagination as usual. I was under the opinion that for this surgery: 1.Steel clamps will be used to keep the eyes open. 2.Eyelashes might be shaved(oh, the horror). 3.Hot laser beams will be used to burn a layer of the cornea to correct the defects, like a welding Hey I did have a reason to assume this. I remember reading about laser back in High school. An intense beam of coherent light can't be cool,right?
Anywayz,I chose Sankara Nethralaya Hospital in Chennai due to its reputation. Using some high-level contacts I was scheduled for surgery with a doctor who operates on Presidents and bigshots. She is a pioneer in the field of corrective surgery and I wanted only her to operate on my eyes. You see, I couldn’t trust my eyes with anyone else.
She clarified all my doubts and I was all set for specks-free days.So it was scheduled.

Day of Surgery: No valium was given to calm my nerves. I was scheduled for 2PM surgery and I arrived at the hospital at Noon. Walked the corridors in a state of agitation until I was called to the OR Lounge where I had to wait a good 30 minutes or so for my turn. My eyes were cleaned,head was covered with a mask and I was led into the dark, frigid OR where masked faces awaited me. I was asked to lie down on the bed/gurney and surgical tapes were used to seal one eye shut and pry the other one open for Epi-Lasik procedure.My face was covered with a sterile parchment-like mask and anaesthetic drops were sprayed into my eyes.All went well upto that point. The doctor told me she was going to lower the machine(microkeratome) that was going to cut a flap of my cornea for the procedure. That was when I started panicking. I was blinded by the miniscule flash lights at the bottom of the machine and no one to hold my hands and calm me down. I felt like the walls were closing in on me and just when the doc was about to lower that machine I jumped the gurney screaming “Let me out, Let me out”. I scared the living daylights out of her. She certainly did not expect that bit of insanity from me. Lol.The nurse lady pulled me back and the doc asked me what would calm me.
I laid out 3 conditions: 1.The mask should be removed from my face or atleast slit open for me to breathe all that cold air. 2.The nurse should hold my hands at all times( I needed to feel that touch of reality). 3.The doc should give me a running commentary of the surgical process.
If all the above conditions were accepted I would undergo the surgery else I was gonna walk out and be happy with my good old harmless glasses that won’t cut a slice of my cornea like some fruit.
The poor doctor had no choice and agreed to all the conditions.A nurse came and lifted(without removing) that papery-mask off my face and held my hands. The doctor promised to talk to me throughout the surgery.I didn't feel any pain when the suction-ring was placed to keep the eyeball in place or when the flap was cut. The vision became very blurry and I could see the doc peeling the flap aside like a page in a book.I tried not to panic. Jumping the gurney at this stage would be a foolish move.Can't run with part of the eyeball hanging down now, can I? The crucial time was when I had to focus on the cooling-beam of laser(Excimer Laser) which looked like a smoky-green jiggly-spot.Yes, there was motion inside that smoky green spot.The spot was static though. Get it?   I loudly started saying GREEN GREEN GREEN for the 5 seconds that I had to focus on that beam.What the laser was trying to do was to reshape the cornea by vaporizing layers of tissue to make it defect-free. No sparks flew. Lol. Once that was done, the doctor used a small broom-like instrument to reposition that peeled flap of cornea back to its original position. Then the bandage-contacts were put on top to allow the cornea to re-attach/re-generate?? The doc asked me if I want the procedure to continue or I come back another day for the other for a penny, in for a pound. Right? I decided I might as well get it done with. Now that I knew the drill, I was cool with slicing and vaporizing. It took all of 20 minutes for start to end but it was the longest and scariest 20 minutes of my life. I have to say childbirth wasn't this bad.***Phew*** After the surgery, my eye voluntarily shut itself and wept tears of pain. I started feeling the pain 15 minutes later. Ouch Ouch Ouch. It was like poisonous sting of 100 scorpions inside my skull. Painkillers helped.
Road to Recovery: This is the most painful part minus the pain. There was no pain from Day2. Only mild discomfort due to those crappy contacts.Necessary evil! The painful part is that I was asked not to wash my hair for 2 weeks(Yikes!), Not to scratch my eyes at all times(A herculean task when my eyes are so itchy!), Ensure no rogue water-droplets enter my eye for 2 weeks(All senses on high alert for 2 weeks!). So I haven't washed my face with soap in 2 weeks, only wiping with wet cloth. Gross! I get nervous breakdown everytime I take below-the-neck bath and I haven't hugged my toddler son in 2 weeks..Boohooo..No pain, no gain,right?
But the best part is that I can see without my glasses clearly for the first time in two decades. The best part is that I can go buy my favorite pair of Dior and Maui Jim shades without a second thought of whether it can be made into a prescriptive sunglasses or not. Lastly, the best part is that the worst part is over.Woohoo.

For anyone who is considering this Lasik procedure, don't wait. Just do it. I hope my inside scoop helps. For everyone else, did it make for a good read?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Super Simple Badam Kheer - Stove-top Almond Drink

All, I am back with Badam Kheer. So many postings to go through, plenty of awards to claim in 2 weeks absence. I am grateful for all the comments and well-wishing emails from fellow bloggers and buddies.The eye surgery went well. I can see clearly(hmm, almost) without glasses for the first time in two decades. Thats really something. Isn't it? Reading fine prints is a challenge but doctors have asked me to be patient. Now, that is a virtue that is hard to come by. While I wait "patiently" for my cornea to fully recover, I would like to virtually share this recipe for a super simple and yummy drink that I make frequently at home. Try it, you'll like it.
Ingredients :
  • Almonds - 1 cup, blanched
  • Skimmed Milk - 5 cups
  • Sugar - 2/3 cup or more
  • Yellow Food Coloring/Saffron strands - a pinch, Optional
  • Slivered Almonds - for Garnish
  • Cardamom Powder - a pinch
  • Make a fine paste with the blanched almonds and a cup of milk in a blender.
  • Cook the Almond paste in a thick bottomed stock pot for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Dilute/soak food coloring/saffron in a bit of milk and keep aside.
  • Add the sugar and continue to stir. The paste will loosen and re-thicken.
  • Add the remaining milk, cardamom powder and cook on a low flame for about 10 minutes.
  • Pour in the food coloring/saffron milk and switch off the stove.
  • Garnish with Slivered Almonds.
Makes ~3-4 Servings.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mini Break for Eye Surgery

Dear friends,
I am taking a break for about a week or so as I am going for corrective eye surgery today(Epi-Lasik). I am a bundle of nerves thinking about it but I am trying to convince myself that it can't be as bad a childbirth. I had re-scheduled my posts as it needs a once-over prior to getting published.I will be back with a bang after a week. In the mean time, take care and feel free to stop by my spot for some post-peeking.

Cool Lassi(e)

Friday, December 4, 2009

MYOB(MakeYourOwnBurger): Barley Bean Burger

This is yet another recipe that has been invented in my little kitchen. I let my imagination run wild and came up with this yummy little burger that can also be consumed just as is without the burger buns.Sending this as an entry to Madhuram's Barley event.
  • Garbanzo Beans(Chick Pea) - 1 cup, cooked
  • Barley - 1 cup, soaked overnight and pressure cooked
  • Onions - 1. small, diced
  • Garlic - 1 cloves, smashed
  • Carrot - 2, small, shredded
  • Parsley - a handful, chopped finely
  • Salt for taste
  • Pepper - 1/2 tsp, optional
  • Whole Wheat Bread Slices - 2, crusts removed, soaked in water and smashed
  • Olive oil - 2 tbsp (for shallow frying)
  • In a bowl, smash the cooked garbanzo beans roughly.
  • Throw in the cooked barley along with onions, garlic mince, carrot, parsley, bread mush and salt+pepper.
  • Using hands blend them and divide it into roughly 4 balls
  • Form each individual ball into patties.
  • In a pan, heat the olive oil and shallow fry the burgers 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Serve as is or with any choice of fixings.
Makes 4 patties.


SugarPlum Balls Minus the Sugar

Now this is a healthy and awesome treat for young and the old alike.This is packed with fiber, certain vitamins, a breeze to make and tastes good, which in my opinion is a major bonus. So don't hesitate to try this at home. Kids will love it and so will you.

  • Almonds - a handful, blanched
  • Cashews - a handful
  • Pecan/Walnuts -a handful
  • Dried sugar-free figs - 4
  • Dried apricots - 4
  • Dark Raisins - a handful
  • Craisins - a handful (optional)
  • Dates - 6
  • Pear Juice - 1/8 cup (Any naturally sweet juice of choice can be used)
  • In a food processor, coarsely blend(pulse) all the dry fruits and nuts with little bit of orange juice.
  • Divide the mixture into 10-12 bite-size balls and refrigerate for an hour before consuming.
Makes 10-12 bite-sized balls.


Barley Pilaf

This is my first time cooking with Barley. If not for blogging, I wouldn't have given it a try. Blogging is giving me an opportunity to expand my culinary horizon and I am loving it. I certainly will be making this pilaf on a frequent basis.It  is filling, very yummy,healthy and wholesome.
  • Barley - 2 cups, soaked overnight and pressure cooked with little salt
  • Bell peppers(red, green, yellow) - 1/4 cup, julienned(cut to strips)
  • Cubanelle pepper - 1, julienned (optional)
  • Corn Kernels - 1/4 cup, fresh or frozen
  • Carrot - 2, small, julienned
  • Onion - 1, large, diced
  • Garlic - 3 cloves, minced
  • Cracked pepper - 1 tsp or less
  • Toasted Pine nuts - a handful (slivered almonds mayb be used instead)
  • salt for taste
  • Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
  • In a deep skillet, heat the oil and add the minced garlic.
  • In less a minute, add the diced onions and saute until browned.Once the onion is browned, add the peppers, carrot and the corn kernels.
  • Add a little water and cook the vegetables in low flame for 5 minutes with lid closed.
  • Add cracked pepper and barley.
  • Sprinkle salt for taste.
  • Gently mix to contents in the pan and cook for 5 more minutes with a little salt.
  • Serve hot with hot and sweet sauce. 
Tip: Barley must be soaked overnight just like chickpea and take the same amount of time like chickpea to pressure cook.

Makes 2-3 servings


A troubling Tale: My maiden Plane-Trip to India with a Terrible-Two Toddler, Genre: High Drama

Act One: Flying High

Inspite of my hubby warning me about the possible pitfalls in my decision to go alone with my hyperactive toddler, I went ahead anyways because I want my son to get to know his other set of grandparents,learn new things and see new faces etc etc. The fun began right after we stepped into the son's diaper leaked and his travel pants got soaked in,you know..Plus he knew somehow that he was going to be away from papa and was all over him like a rash. It was a battle between me and him to pry him away from his dad after which he cried a river for a good half an hour while in the line.The passengers who heard his wail must have been fervently praying and hoping that they don't get a seat next to this little guy. The security check was a nightmare because I was busy removing shoes and such while my son ran in between people and played hide-n-seek. Then he refuses to step into the fligt because of the loud noise emanating from outside..Onboard he spills cream on a fellow passenger, dunks his finger into the passenger's dessert cup,kicks a formula bottle of an infant and spills it on the aisle, plucks a couple of hairs from the man in the front, opens and closes the tray table atleast 500 times and punches the remote of the TV like a gazillion times...Well the list goes on and on..Then during the 2-hour layover at Brussels he went and sat on a lap of a complete stranger and carried on a conversation for atleast 15 minutes and so so..I call this half of the journey a walk in the park.

Act two:Clingy Situation

This is what I would call an "Ordeal" because this is when I reached a point where I had a major meltdown.

While the plane was rushing on the tarmac, right after touchdown on the Indian soil, in the early hours of dawn to reach its destination, my son was rushing towards the blissful oblivion only sleep could provide. While this might have been a Yay scenario some other time, it proved to be a real nightmare this time. Why? Haven't you heard? Never(pause) Ever(pause) wake a sleeping baby. But I had to, to disembark, you know. The minute we deplaned, my son climbed on to my hip like a monkey would a tree and refused to let go. Keep in mind that he isn't the only luggage I am carrying. Since I wanted to feel warm and comfy inside the plane, I had dressed up in layers which I decided to keep on cause I needed my hands free and luggages light to accomodate my precious cargo. It was hot and I was bothered. My son was startled to see that many people racing to beat the crowd to line-up for the H1NI screening at the airport.The minute I removed him from my hips, he started his waterworks and clung on to my jean-clad legs as though his very life depended on it. I had to drag myself to the line, patiently waiting for my chance to get my swine-flu form stamped and such..when I get there, I was rudely yelled at for not filling a seperate form for my finish it and head up to the immigration counter where I was asked to fill another form for my son..something that I wasn't apprised of on-board. My kid raised his howling up a notch and tried pulling my jeans down..all around me were sea of people looking at me with loads of pity in their eyes..that did it! I unravelled right there..lack of sleep combined with anger at the merciless authorities for putting me through this turned into a bout of pitiful tears. I know they were doing their job but in my stressed-out state, logic was the last thing on between cussing, crying and cajoling my boy, I fill out the form and drag myself back to the line,finish my formalities before I drag myself to the baggage claim area. My son now rolls on the floor kicking and screaming wanting to go back where we came from for an escalator ride. You see, he was fascinated by the idea of gliding without walking.Finally the agents take pity and make an exception for me to go out,handover my son to the waiting arms of my MIL. Thirty minutes later, I head outside again with my luggage, ready to face whatever awaited me there. I let out a BIG fat **sigh** when I saw my son napping in my MIL's arms peacefully. Silly you if you thought this was the end of it.

Act Three:Trying times

While I was waiting for the carousel to deliver my luggage, my son takes a power nap in my MIL's lap and is fully recharged for a brand new series of torment. We reach home safe and sound at 2Am.By this time my body is screaming for much needed revival sleep that still eludes me not because I wished it but because my toddler was in high spirits as he was the center of attention and he wanted to prolong that. Finally we both get exhausted and hit the bed a couple of hours later. We both must have slept for 15 minutes or so he lets out a howl that could have woken the dead. The reason was because of the night watchman's whistle and I had to coax him back to sleep. At 6AM in the morning, he again lets out a scream that could have shattered the glasses in house due to the dogs barking outside. I don't have to tell many how lively it is in India in the early hours of dawn..

Act Four:Hope Floats

As me and my boy are struggling to reverse our bio-rhythm(body clock), "Having fun under the Indian sun" is yet to begin. So I keep wishing and hoping..

**Let the fun times BEGIN**