Friday, May 29, 2009


Upma is a quick and easy Indian breakfast dish. Here I am providing a recipe for vegetable upma.

1 Cup Sooji or Upma rava
3 Cups water
3 Teaspoon Yogurt (optional)
salt to taste
2 Slit Green Chilies
1 Teaspoon Urad Dal
2-3 Curry Leaves
1/4 Cup Chopped Mixed Vegetables (e.g. Carrots, Green Beans, Peas etc)
1 Small Onion, Finely Chopped
1 Teaspoon Oil
1/4th Teaspoon Mustard Seeds

Dry roast the sooji (or rava) until lightly golden brown. Instead of roasting it in a tawa (pan), I usually spread it on a flat plate and roast in the oven at 170 degrees for 5-7 minutes.
While its getting roasted in the oven, heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to crackle, add the curry leaves, urad dal and slit green chilies. Cook for a few minutes, then add the onion and cook till it turns transparent.
If you are using yogurt, then combine the yogurt and 3 cups of water and churn thoroughly then add to the pan. Then add salt. If you are not using yogurt, then directly add water to the pan. Bring to a boil, let the vegetables get cooked completely. Lower the flame and slowly add the rava to the boiling water. While adding rava, make sure to keep on stirring in order to eliminate lump formation. Mix thoroughly to combine. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve with hot tea.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Simple and Tasty Khichdi

Khichdi is a comfort food, that contains rice and lentils that is cooked till mushy. Anytime when I don't feel like cooking anything, or even eating anything very spicy, I cook Khichdi and have it with Kadhi.

Khichdi can be made spicy by adding whole spices to it, but I usually make it without adding any spice. I think it tastes better.

At my house, whenever anyone is sick, we make khichdi. It is a tasty, light and nutritional dish, which everyone enjoys. This recipe is submitted to "Comfort Food For Illness Event" at

Here is the recipe for Saadi(Plain) Gujarati Khichdi.
1/2 Cup split mung daal, with or without skin
1 cup rice (preferably not Baasmati)
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
5 cups water.

Method: Wash and drain the rice and daal thoroughly. Combine with 5 cups of water, salt and turmeric powder. Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles.

Pour a teaspoon of ghee on warm khichdi and serve with Gujarati Kadhi and Ringana no Olo.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009


Kheer is a traditional Indian dessert, made by boiling rice with milk and sugar. It is a creamy (Indian)rice pudding flavoured with cardamom and saffron and garnished with chopped almonds.

I had to make kheer for a pooja (worship) at my house. This was my first time making kheer on my own. It turned out good.

Here is the recipe for making kheer.
1 Cup rice
5 Cup Milk(I used 2%, but Full fat is preferable)
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/8th cup Almonds, blanched and slivered
4-5 strands of Saffron
1 Spoon crushed cardamom (or cardamom powder)
1/8th cup Yellow raisin (kismis)

Heat 2 tablespoon milk in a small pan for 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and add the saffron strands. Gently press the saffron strands with your thumb and a finger so that the milk starts turning orange (yellowish).

Wash and drain the rice and mix it with the cardamom powder and 5 cups of with milk. Bring to a boil, then simmer at slow-medium heat. Keep stirring to ensure that the rice doesn't stick to the base of the pan. Cook until the rice is done, starts breaking and the milk has thickened. Take off the heat. Now add sugar, saffron-milk, almond and kismis (if using), and stir to mix thoroughly. Garnish with few more strands of saffron and almonds. Serve warm or chilled.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Aloo Gobhi

Aloo Gobhi ( a dry curry made with potatoes and cauliflower) is a simple a quick subzi. Many people (like me), don't like gobhi (cauliflower),but they do like aloo gobhi ki subzi.

Here is the recipe for Aloo Gobhi
1 medium size cauliflower
2 medium potatoes, cut into big (2 inch) squares.
2 small tomatoes, cut into small pieces (optional)
1 medium or 2 small onions, cut into small pieces
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon Garam masala,
2 teaspoon red chili powder,
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder,
1/2 teaspoon amchur powder (dry mango powder)--- optional
1 teaspoon coarsely ground Dhaniya (coriander) powder,
2 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon Jeera (cumin seeds)
2 small green chilies
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 clove garlic, grated
a few strands of coriander (cilantro) cut into small pieces, leaves separated.

Cut the cauliflower florets (about 2 inch long), wash and drain. Heat oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds, let it crackle. Now add the onion and cook until they turn translucent. Now add green chilies, ginger, garlic and the cilantro strands. Let it cook for 2 minutes, then add tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder, garam masala, amchur powder,red chili powder and dhaniya powder. Cook until the tomatoes are done. Now add the cauliflower florets and the potato cubes and cook until both the vegetables are done. Stir occasionally, making sure not to break the florets.Add a little water while cooking if needed. Garnish with coriander leaves, and serve hot with paratha, naan or chapati.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Variyali (Saunf or Fennel) Sharbat

My grandmother used to make this sharbat in India during summer time. Its a cool and refreshing drink. I had been wanting to make this for a while now, but didn't know of the exact recipe for it. So, I just made my own...well kind of:) I remember a few of the ingredients that my grandmother used to add into this sharbat, and I added some more which I thought might go well:)

Here is the recipe for making Variyali sharbat.
2 Tablespoon variyali (Fennel or Saunf)
1 1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1-2 no. black pepper
1 clove
1 teaspoon khus khus (Poppy seeds)
1 1/2 cup water

Method: Mix and grind all the above dry ingredients into a fine powder. Soak in 1-1/2 cup water overnight. On the next day, drain the liquid and refrigerate for atleast 4 hours. Serve Cold.

I bet you will love it. It is sweet, and refreshing with fennel flavour, and also with just a little hint of black pepper which makes you wonder hummmm what is it!!! :)

P.S: If any one has a recipe for the "original" fennel sharbat, please let me know. I would love to make it the way my grandmother used to make it.

Now a note about my garden: I have heard that Fennel plants attract butterflies, so I planted fennel in a small pot about 15 days ago. I just put some store bought fennel (fennel seeds)in a pot filled with potting soil. Now, my plants are already 2 inches tall. Warm weather in last weeks have helped my plants grow quickly.

If you plan to plant fennel, plant them in pots. Fennel plants are invasive. If you plant them in your outdoor garden, your garden will be covered with these plants in no time. Also don't plant fennel in the same pot where coriander (cilantro) or tomatoes are planted.

Transfer the pot outdoors when its warm and sunny outside. Enjoy some colorful butterflies, and sweet fennel in your yard:)

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Chili Pepper Plants

As you know from my previous posts, this is my first year gardening, so I try different methods to find out what works best for the plants I want to grow.

Along with methi and English peas, I am also trying to grow some other plants, such as Kala Chana (Black Gram), Sweet peas, Grape Tomatoes, Chili Pepper, Spinach, Green Beans, Water Melon, Cucumber, Honey Dew, Okra, Fennel (to attract butterflies), and Sweet Basil. I also have some store bought plants like Meyers Lemon, Mint and Aloe Vera.

I have been a little successful so far with some of the plants listed above. Some others have just germinated, and a few don't show any sign of germination at all.

I had always wanted to grow chili pepper plants. While researching online, I found that they are a little difficult to grow, especially in a place like Seattle, where the summer season is shorter when compared to some other parts of the country. The Chili plants require warm temperatures (60F-70F) to germinate and to continue to grow, and takes about 90 days(minimum) to produce fruits.

My seeds took almost a month to germinate. The picture below shows the seeds germinating in my little homemade greenhouse.

Its been almost about months now since I planted the seeds, my plants are just 2-3 inches tall. I have been successful at getting the seeds to germinate and grow into small plants, but not sure whether they will set out any fruits, since the growth is too slow.

Since the plants require warm temperature for longer period of time, I created a cheap greenhouse from a 2 litre soda bottle. This seems to have worked for me. Since the bottle has a very narrow opening, it limits air circulation to an extent. Also, the plastic keeps the temperature inside the bottle about 5-10 degrees F higher than the outside temperature.

Here's is how I made the greenhouse.
1. Take a 2 litre soda bottle. Wash and clean it thoroughly.
2. With a sharp knife, make a small cut near the rim where the bottle thickness changes (3-4 inches from the bottom of the bottle).
3. Know you can use a pair of scissors or the same knife to cut all the way around the bottle to divide it into two pieces.
4. Drill 3 to 4 small holes in the bottom portion of the bottle which you just separated from the long upper portion of the bottle.
5. Fill it up with potting soil. Water thoroughly.
6. Spread chili pepper seeds (or any other seeds you like) on the top of the soil and cover very lightly (1/4 cm) with potting soil. Spray water to keep it moist.
7. Now assemble the top portion of the bottle by pressing it in such that the wall of the top portion is inserted into the diameter of the bottom portion.
8. Seal with a masking tape, so that no air can go in.

You can remove the cap or leave it on...its totally up to you.

Here is a picture taken on April 2nd (a month and a half after planting).

and here is the picture of the greenhouse.
I sow my seeds in late February, and kept the bottle indoor. I sprayed water on the soil on alternate days to keep it moist but not wet. From what I read from some websites and from some gardening books, the pepper plants are drought tolerant but they don't like wet soil. (The soil should be moist but not wet). Provide good drainage for better growth.
I have an organic gardening book which suggests to put a match stick near the seedlings once they start to emerge, since the plants require sulfur for better growth.

Here is the latest picture of my plants. I will update this post as far as my plants survive:) and produce some fruits.

Update: I have been a little lazy lately, and haven’t updated my blog for a long time. Anyways, here is the good news, for those who were following this particular posting. I did have some chili pepper growing on my chili plant. Here is a picture. It has been about a month since I took this picture. It is still growing new fruits in October!!!!

I don’t take any additional care of the plant, other than watering it everyday or when the soil seems dry. I haven’t even added any fertilizer to the soil. I am using store bought potting soil. As mentioned earlier in this entry, my research showed that the plants should be kept at above 70F from germination to fruiting period, but from my experience I can say that even if the seedlings see temperatures below 50 degrees F for a few weeks, they will still bloom and they will still GIVE you some fruits.

When I set the seeds for sprouting, the temperature here was in high 40s to low 50s. My seeds sprouted below 70F. The only thing I did to ensure sprouting (or to prevent my plants from freezing) was build a cheap little green house, and set the seeds in the green house for sprouting. Now I am enjyoing my home grown peppers:) I am surely going to grow some more next season.

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