Thursday, December 31, 2015

Narthangai Sadam / Citron Rice

Narthangai (some people call as kichilikai) is a member of the citrus family. Now in the markets, you get these fresh, and oh yeah! I am a little busy making pickles with this. Narthangai is very famous for the salted pickle called as uppu narthangai. Rice flavored with this juice, is equally tasty. Trust is very much like lemon rice. Those who like chitrannam (mixed variety rice) will definitely love this. Its very simple to make.


Rice - 3/4 cup
Narthangai juice - 1/3 cup

To season

Oil - 2 tsp
Dried red chillies - 2
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Split urad dhal - 1/2 tsp
Channa dhal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp
Turmeric - 1/8 tsp
Green chillies - 2, chopped
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Peanuts - optional


Wash the rice and cook with water (1:3 ratio).  Let it cool. In the meantime, squeeze a couple of citrons to obtain 1/3 cup juice. Heat oil in a pan. Add the seasoning and when it all splutters and done, pour it on the rice.

 Add salt and the reserved juice. Mix well and eat.


The flavor is just like lemon rice. It is very very delicious if the rice is left to absorb the juice. Just leaving it, helps in the flavor enhancement.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Eggless Christmas Plum Cake

Merry Christmas to everyone! For Christmas, we made this rich eggless plum cake and I am sharing here the recipe for the same to spread the joy in your families too. You will definitely enjoy making this with your family. 


APF / Maida - 1 and 1/2 cups
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Brown sugar - 1/2 cup
Butter - 100g (room temperature)
Tea masala spice powder - 1 tsp
Milk - 1/2 cup
Water - 2/3 cup
Apple cider vinegar - 1 tsp
Vanilla - 1 tap
Honey - 2 tbsp
Candied peel - 2 tbsp
Dried Apricots, dates, prunes - 1/4 cup each, chopped
Sultanas, golden raisins and Thompson raisins, tutti-fruity- 1/4 cup each
Candied cherries - 1/4 cup, chopped
Toasted walnuts - 1/3 cup, chopped


Preheat the oven to 180C

Bring the water to boil in a pan and add the nuts, dry fruits (reserve the tutti fruity), and the brown sugar. Simmer for about 7-10 mins until the dried fruits have softened yet don’t turn mushy. Remove the pan from the flame and cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, add the butter, vanilla, and honey. 

In a bowl add the dry ingredients - APF, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and tea masala and mix well. Add the dry ingredients, 2 spoons at a time to the fruit butter mixture and fold well. Once all the flour is incorporated, add the tutti-fruity. It will be thick. Then add milk and beat well.

Add the apple cider vinegar, mix well and pour into a 12 cup bundt pan (grease it well ahead). Gently tap and bake for 48 - 50 min in a preheated oven (just check with a toothpick that comes out clean after inserting in). 

Cool on a wire rack. Then invert on to a serving plate. Its all ready to be served and packed to friends and family.

 Devour the rich taste of the cake and enjoy your Christmas! But make sure to give your feedback.


I used tea masala (spice powder) in the place of all the spices. This is a simple substitution but the flavor is great. It will be available in most Indian grocery shops.

Light or dark brown sugar can be used. The color of the cake varies but the flavor remains the same (I have made using both the type of sugar). The cake batter tends to be dark when dark brown sugar is used.

You can also try by creaming butter and sugar first. Then add milk, water, vanilla, and honey and mix. the mixture will become curdled. But once you add the dry ingredients and mix, it will come out as a regular cake batter. Then add the dried fruits and nuts and fold well, followed by apple cider vinegar. I have tried this method too and works fine.

One flax egg can also be added.

Cut the cake with care. It may crumble a little. Rest the cake well before cutting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thinai (Foxtail Millet) Murukku

Healthy foods need not be boring. Whenever you crave for a deep-fried snack, substituting with the healthier grain is a smart choice. Foxtail millet murukku is a great teatime snack. There is no rice flour added. It has all the goodness of the millet.  Here is a simple recipe for a crispy snack.


Makes about 60

Foxtail millet flour - 2 cups
Dhalia powder (split roasted gram) - 1/2 cup
Melted butter - 2 tsp
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Water - @1 and 1/3 cups plus 1 tbsp
Oil for deep frying


To make dahlia powder, just grind it in a dry grinder for a few runs and it all ready.

In a big bowl, add all the ingredients except water and mix thoroughly. Add water little by little and knead a smooth and soft dough.

Fill your murukku press (with desired nozzle shape - I used single star here) with small balls of the dough and squeeze into fine shape with a circular motion that resembles tight swirls on to a paper towel or a cotton towel.

Heat oil in a pan. When it is hot enough, gently transfer the swirls of squeezed dough into your hand and carefully drop into oil. Fry till golden brown on both sides. 

Make all the murukkus in the same way. Cool and store in an airtight container.

The measured quantity makes about 60 murukkus of say 2 to 3 in diameter size.


Add red chilli powder according to your taste.

If the dough is too tight, it will result in crumbly murukkus. They crumble when you try to transfer and in oil too. Add a tbsp or more water and adjust to the soft dough but not watery.

If you add melted butter, omit hot oil. Or instead of butter add 2 tbsp of hot oil. if you include both, the murukku crumbles.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pirandai Thogayal

Pirandai (scientific name Cissus quandrangularis, also called as devil's backbone or adamant creeper) is a very common plant that grows all over the fence. I have seen that plant in that way right from my childhood. Anytime you need, just cut a few nodes lengths of the creeper from the fence and make yummy chutney or thogayal. I love it! Basically, I like more of thogayal (kind of pesto) than sambhar. This ranks first in my list, especially this recipe which is my mom's. She includes 14 ingredients in making this. Wow .....amazing taste. Pirandai thogayal is very common in brahmin households. It is made now and then for its health benefits (here is a list). This thogayal is always made during Thevasam (death anniversaries). Thevasam sappadu (meal) is very special and always everyone loves the food and it is also a ritual followed that grandkids and great-grandkids must eat that meal (belief is our forefathers come on that day and they will bless us). This recipe is always followed in our home (but we omit asafoetida if we prepare thogayal for thevasam).

The creeper is quite unique - the shape of the stem, its properties). Here is a picture of the plant growing in a pot on my terrace. It grows very easily. Just plant a node and water it. You will have a good amount of pirandai pretty soon. 

When using pirandai, make sure to pick tender stems. Chop off the nodes and discard them. Tender leaves can be used to prepare chutneys too. If you have stems that are a little matured, chop of the sharp edges. Sometimes handling pirandai may cause your palm or fingers to be itchy. If you feel so, just wash with a little tamarind extract or smear oil in your palms and then process pirandai. Generally, pirandai is used for making thogayal and its extract is also used for making tasty urad dhal appalams.

There are many ways to make this thogayal. I feel this recipe to be awesome. Just go ahead and try it. I am pretty sure you will agree with me. The 14 ingredients give a unique blend of flavors and overall give yummy magical flavors dancing in your tongue. It is raining heavily for the past few days and I craved to have this thogayal to brighten up a little. We had a wonderful meal. OK...a long intro for this pirandai and so here is the recipe. 


Pirandai - 1/4 cup, chopped
Curry leaves - 5 to 6 sprigs
Mustard - 1/2 tsp
Urad dhal, whole - 1 tsp
Black pepper - 1/4 tsp
Ginger - 1 to 1 and 1/2 in, peeled and chopped
Red chillies - 3
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Green chilli - 1, chopped
Coconut - 1 and 1/2 tsp
Jaggery - 1 tsp
Tamarind - 1 tsp
Sesame oil - 2 -3 tsp

The ingredients for Pirandai thogayal


Chop the pirandai stems into small pieces, discard the nodes. (Tender leaves can be used too and they can be added along with the chopped stems to cook).

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan and saute the chopped stems of pirandai. It will change color. Keep aside. It should be cooked well or else it can make your tongue feel itchy.

In the same pan, heat 1 tsp of oil and fry red chillies, mustard, urad dhal, black pepper, tamarind, and asafoetida. Keep aside.

Heat another tsp of oil, add the green chilli, ginger and saute for a couple of mins. Add the curry leaves. continue to saute for 2 more mins. Add coconut and after a min, switch off the flame and let it cool.

Grind all the above with salt and a tsp of jaggery. Sprinkle water and grind to a smooth paste. Pirandai thogayal is all ready!

A bowl of rice mixed with a tsp of pirandai thogayal and a dollop of hot oil.....Heaven in your bowl!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Okkorai - A traditional Sweet For Diwali

Happy Diwali to all!

Okkorai - A traditional sweet made in every Iyengar home on the day of Diwali. Without okkorai, I can't think of celebrating Diwali.  Early in the morning after you get dressed and get blessings from elders, we run and enjoy fireworks. Then we come to eat a traditional breakfast of idli, okkorai, bajji with sweets and savories specially prepared for Diwali. Yummy! I love the taste of the okkorai. It is nutritious too! It can be made with readily available ingredients in the kitchen and uses less amount of ghee when compared to other sweets. Today is Diwali, its great to share okkorai with everyone.


To make the idlis:

Split yellow moong dhal - 1 cup

To make Okkorai:

Jaggery - 2 and 1/4 cup
Cardamom - 2
Cashew - 2 tbsp
Raisins - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 3 or 4 tbsp


Soak the moong dhal in water for 30 mins. Grind with a little water to make a batter that is neither too smooth nor coarse.  

Smear oil in idli plates, pour the moong batter and steam like idlies for 10 to 12 min. Cool and take out the idlies. Make it into a crumbly mixture.

In a heavy-bottomed vessel, add jaggery and 1/2 cup water. boil till jaggery dissolves. Filter and discard the impurities. Return the jaggery water to the stove and start boiling it. 

When a spoon of the thickened jaggery mix is dropped into the water in a bowl, you should be able to roll into a soft ball. it shouldn't dissolve. That's the consistency of jaggery needed to make okkorai. 

Add the crumbled moong idlies and slowly mix thoroughly till the are very well combined. Cook for a few minutes till the flavors are well combined. Heat 3 -4 tbsp of ghee. Fry cashews and raisins till golden brown. Add it to the okkorai. Mix and serve.

 Taste great hot, warm, or at room temperature.