Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jewel Salad - Corn And Pomegranate Salad

My SIL used to prepare this salad - simple and flavorful. each and every bite is heavenly! The sweetness of corn, pomegranate, and coconut perfectly balanced with salt, lemon, and green chilli. I love this salad and is one of my favorite. I call this jewel salad since the yellow corn and ruby pomegranates look like jewels and can be called so for its taste. Today is her birthday and hence made this remembering her salad. She adds a little more coconut, I have made it with a little less quantity...that's all the change in her recipe. Make this simple salad and give your comments.


Serves 2 - 4 people

Corn kernels - 3/4 cup, cooked
Pomegranate arils - 3/4 cup
Lemon - 1 tsp, 
Green chilli - 1, chopped fine
Coconut - 2 tbsp


In a bowl, add all the above and gently toss. Serve immediately!


Add an extra 2 or 3 tbsp of coconut if you like.

If you want extra spicy, add one more green chilli.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Thengai Arisi Payasam / Coconut And Rice Pudding

Thengai arisi thirukannamudhu (payasam is called as thirukannamudhu in Iyengar homes) or payasam is the most common and traditional payasam made in brahmin homes for all festive occasions. Today being Varalakshmi Pooja, I made this tasty dessert. It is very simple and nutritious made with rice, coconut, and jaggery. 


Serves  4 to 6

Coconut - 2 tbsp, shredded
Rice - 2 tbsp
Cardamom - 2
Jaggery - 4 tbsp
Water - 1 and 1/2 cup
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Cashews - 5 or 6
Raisins - 1 tbsp


Soak rice in 1/3 cup water for 15 - 20 mins. Grind rice with coconut and cardamom to a coarse consistency. 

Transfer this to a heavy-bottomed vessel and add a cup of water and heat. Keep in a low flame as it will thicken and may start to scald at the bottom. Stir often. If it is too thick, add 1/4 cup of water.

Once the rice is completely cooked, add jaggery and continue to cook till all of it dissolves. 

Simmer for a couple of minutes and take it off the flame. This may take about 10 - 15 min.

Heat a tbsp of ghee in a pan, add cashews and raisins and fry till golden brown. Add it to the payasam. Yummy delicious thengai arisi payasam is ready. 


This makes a good quantity and hence easy to make for a crowd.

Make sure to cook in a low flame with stirring else will burn and ruin the taste.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Rose Cake - A special cake for my MOM!

Today is my mom's birthday! I decided to make something very special for her. She is my teacher, friend, philosopher, mentor...she is everything to me. She is a very soft person who always encourages everyone and I decided to make rose cake flavored with a kind of rose flower, panneer rose aka musk rose. It has a sweet fragrance. I chose this flower since my mom is like that flower - soft and spreads smile around her always like the fragrance of the rose. She loved it! It was a great surprise for her. The cake batter is flavored with the petals of the flower and with its essence. I also used a little of the essence for the whipped cream frosting. It gave the perfect balance in taste. I used simple buttercream to make roses (since my theme was rose). Each and every bite - absolute indulgence of rose flavor. Everyone loved the cake and above all my mom loved it and later called me again to say that the cake was THE BEST. Yeah - best cake for best MOM. I can understand that when everybody asked for second servings. Try this cake next time if you are a fan of Rose.


All-purpose flour/maida - 1 and 1/2 cups
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Baking powder - 1 and 1/2 tsp
Butter - 6 tbsp
Flaxseed powder - 1 tbsp
Milk - 1 cup
Fresh rose petals - 1/2 cup, medium packed
Rose essence - 1 tsp
Pink food color


In a bowl add APF, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix well and keep aside. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease a 9-inch pan.

Crush (or run in your blender once) the rose petals with 1/2 cup sugar. 

Mix 1/4 cup milk with flaxseed powder and set aside. In a bowl, add the butter, remaining sugar, and sugar - petal mixture. Beat till light and fluffy. Add the flaxseed mixture, rose essence, milk, and continue beating. After adding milk, the mixture will look a little curdled but just continue ahead. 

Now slowly add the dry ingredients, 2 tbsp at a time, and beat well. Continue till all the dry mixture is incorporated into the wet mixture. 

Add a tiny amount of pink food color and mix well.

Pour it into a greased pan and bake for 26 - 28 min or till a toothpick inserted, comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, start decorating your cake as you wish.

For the frosting whipped cream - the same procedure how you do regular whipped cream but just add a tsp of rose essence instead of vanilla.

Pipe buttercream roses and decorate the cake as you like.


There are 2 varieties of this panneer rose - light and dark pink colored petals. Both of them are equivalent in taste and fragrance. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rava Kesari

Today is Thiruvadi Puram - an important day for all the vaishnavites which marks the birth of Goddess Kodhai alias Andal. It is celebrated in a very grand manner in Srivilliputtur, the birthplace of the Goddess. 

Goddess Andal, Srivilliputtur

Andal's divine composition, known as Thiruppavai, is recited by Vaishnavites all over the world, during this holy month (Margazhi, in Tamil). Here is a link to Andal from some divyadesams. Grand celebrations for a few days are organized in vaishnavite temples to mark Thiruvadi Puram festival and here is a youtube link.

The following verses are sung every day praising her, who showed us the path to God.


ThiruvAdippUratthu sehatthuthitthAL VaazhiyE
ThiruppAvai muppathum seppinAL VaazhiyE

PeriyAzhwAr peRReduttha peNN piLlai vaazhiyE
PerumbhUthUr mmamunikkup-pinnAnAL vaazhiyE
oru NooRRu nARpatthu moonRu uraitthAL vaazhiyE
UyarangarkkE kaNNIuhanthaLitthAl VaazhiyE
maruvAruntirumalli vaLa naadi vaazhiyE
VaNN Puthuvai naharkkOthai malar padhangaL VaazhiyE


tiruvADippUrattu jagattudittAL vAzhiyE :  Long live the one who was born in the month of Aashaada in the constellation of Poorva Phalguni.

Thiruppavai Muppadhaum cheppinaal Vaazhiye :  Long live the one who spoke out the thirty verses of Thiru-p-pAvai.

periyAzhvaar peRRedutta peN piLLai vAzhiyE:   Long live the one who was born to Periyaazhwaar

Perum pudoor mAmunikku pinnAnAL vAzhiye :  Long live the one who became the younger sister of Perumpudur Maamuni (Bhagavad Ramaanujar).

Oru nooTru naarpattu moonruraittaaL vaazhiyE:   Long live the one who composed a poem of 143 verses. This is Naachiyaar Tirumozhi which contains details of every step of her Dream Wedding with the Lord.

Uyar arangaRkE kaNNi ugandu azhaittAL vAzhiyE:   Long live the one who happily gave Herself up to Ranganatha, the Supreme Lord.

MaruVaarum Thirumalli Vaazhanadu Vaazhiye:  Long live the one, who was born in the prosperous land (Valnaadu) permeated by the fragrance of flowers. This refers to the prosperity of Her birthplace and the fragrance of Bhakti that filled the air there.

vaN puduvai nagark kOdai malarp padangaL vAzhiyE:   Long live the lotus feet of Andaal of the prosperous city of Puduvai" (here, means Srivilliputtur).

 K Varadhan's blog gives more info about Srivilliputtur Andal and festivals.

Two weeks back we went to Srivilliputtur. I feel very blessed for getting an opportunity to go there and see the places where she grew.  Words are insufficient when you visit such an important place. 
This is Srivilliputtur temple.

This is the Tulasi madam (Tulsi plant) under which she was found by Periazhwar.

This is her home and garden where she grew.

Really, we are truly blessed with an opportunity to visit the temple with immense importance (Srivilliputtur temple). You can feel the peacefulness in YOU when you are around such important temples.

Traditionally, on this day we make akkaravadisal (which I have already posted here) as offering to Goddess Andal. Today, I did this rava kesari (cream of wheat dessert) and it is a very simple, divine and yummy dessert. All it takes is just 15 min. and needs only a few ingredients. Both my mom and MIL are experts in making this kesari (I too make this great :-) ). But with my influence, we made it with slight variation than how my mom or MIl will usually make. I have given here the recipe with reduced sugar and reduced ghee. Lesser ghee than this won't work. If you don't mind adding a few more tablespoons of ghee, the result will be absolutely divine.


Serves 6-8 people with generous second helpings

Rava - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 and 1/2 cup
Water - 2 cups
Ghee - 6 tbsp
Cardamom - 2, crushed
Saffron - a pinch
Orange food color

To fry:

Ghee - 1 tbsp
Sliced almonds or cashews - 1 tbsp
Raisins - 1 tbsp


Boil water and keep aside. Heat a pan on a medium flame. Add the ghee, nuts, and raisins. Fry till golden brown and keep aside. 

Heat 2 tbsp of ghee and roast the rava till golden brown. 

Add the hot water to the rava. Stir and let it cook for a few minutes. Stir well and make sure that there are no lumps. 

Then add the sugar and continue cooking for 5 min. As soon as you start mixing the sugar, the mixture will become thin, but continuous cooking will absorb all the sweet sugar and thicken.

Add remaining ghee, crushed cardamom, saffron, and food color. Mix thoroughly and cook with stirring to a stage where it doesn't stick to the pan.

Add the fried nuts and mix. Switch off the flame and transfer to a serving bowl. 

If you want to cut into squares and serve, pour into a flat pan, even the top, and let it cool. Cut into squares or diamonds and serve. Tastes great hot-hot and at room temperature.


Adding hot water helps in easier and faster cooking of rava.

One and a half cup sugar gives a perfect amount of sweetness - not too sweet or bland, but just the right amount of sweetness. If you have a very very sweet tooth, feel free to add more sugar. I have seen some people using 1 rava: 2 sugar ratio too.

I find 6 tbsp ghee to be perfect. if you want to be generous to add a few more tbsp of ghee.

Traditionally, rava kesari is made in orange color, but feel free to be creative with flavor additions and color (I have made this in pink color and with fruit additions too).

Some people use oil instead of ghee to make this kesari. Try it out if you like.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Saaral - A Nice To Place To Eat In Courtallam

Courtalam is a perfect getaway to relax. It is also called as Spa of South India. It is situated in the Western Ghats in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu and you can find more info about Courtallam here and here. We had a great time visiting the falls and it was hard to come out of the waterfalls.

 Just a perfect place to loosen up - enjoying the waterfalls, the views of the mountains, and great food - what else is needed? We had the sweetest rambutans here.

Also, ice apple fruit with padhaneer is sold here and there. We tasted that too. The ice apple (nungu) fruit was very tasty and tender. Bagged a few gooseberries and pink guavas from here which were equally tasty.

Saaral is a great resort. The food is also good. There was a buffet breakfast with corn flakes, idli, oothapam, pongal, vada, coconut chutney, onion tomato chutney, sambhar, milk, coffee, and tea. The food was yummy and I would definitely choose the same place to go next time and that's why you find me writing about this place in my blog. You can find more information about this resort on their website here for accommodation. It's a great place to stay, eat and enjoy Courtallam. (Sorry, I missed the pictures of the resort!)