Thursday, 29 January 2015

Green thumb-Green garden

Our kitchen garden
   What can be healthier and tastier than the home grown vegetables ?  If u can pickle them, nothing like it. Even Times Life! carried an article 2 weeks back about the goodness of pickling and fermenting food. Indian food and pickles ZINDABAD!!!!! 

    After living in a multi-storey building for ages, I am living in an independent house with lots of space for gardening. Upon seeing the open space my long buried interest in gardening  raised its head. So I started the process of gardening-clearing, ploughing,manuring  sowing, watering  etc.
my size lauki

 I should not forget to mention the "monkey menace"! There are a lot of monkeys here. They are more health conscious than us. They love eating veggies - especially those from our garden! Abi enjoys shooing them away with his catapult every evening. Another  interesting thing is he has learnt most of the vegetables names without any difficulty. The most amazing part is he can even identify the plants. I find this amazing because when I was teaching in school, a student of cl V once asked  me, "ma'am from which tree do we get tomatoes?" Going back to Sec’bad days, one of our friends daughter who was in cl viii, came to our house to see and click a few snaps of brinjal plants. Such is the practical knowledge about plants of children these days. So you can imagine our joy when Abi identifies the vegetables and plants.In fact I think even my daughter won't be able to identify as many plants as Abi can!!

sambar shallots

 After months of hard work, we are reaping the benefits now. From my vegetable garden, I have got most of the seasonal (winter) vegetables. After sharing them with my friends and helpers, I had enough left to make some pickle also.I will post the recipe for the pickles later. For now, enjoy the photos of our lush green garden :)
tempting turnips

evergreen mint
coriander in bloom

cauliflower-cabbage collection

my collection!
green edition

Friday, 23 January 2015

Mouthwatering Unniyappams

  Yet another day of school for my li'l one and a Himalayan task for me deciding his tiffin box menu ( and for all those mothers who pack lunch for their kids)! When my daughter was little, I did not have to do "lunch packing" for her as she went to a boarding school. I think now it is pay back time! Abi is a very picky eater. So every evening I have to start a brainstorming session with my daughter as to what to make for his lunch the next morning. The ideal criteria is that he will actually eat without a fuss, it doesn't spill, it doesn't dirty his clothes too much - very high standards! Sometimes we are successful and sometimes we are not. Here I am posting one such success. I am sure most kids will like this because it is sweet and parents will like this because it's healthy. 

   This is a traditional south Indian recipe called 'unniyappam'. I made this day before yesterday and packed around 10 of them in Abi's tiffin box. I am not sure whether he ate them all himself or the other kids did, but his tiffin box was polished clean!  

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes per batch
Equipment needed: Appam mould ( see picture below)


1. Maida : 1/2 cup
2. Atta (whole wheat flour): 1/2 cup
3. Banana : 1
4. Jaggery : 125 gms
5. grated coconut: 2 tablespoons
6. A pinch each of dried ginger and cardamom powder
7. Chopped dates : 4
8. Raisins - 10 - 15 ( or any other dried fruits)
9. Luke warm water : 1&1/2 cups
10. Ghee for frying


1. Soak the jaggery in the luke warm water and stir occasionally till it melts completely.
2. Mash the banana in a bowl. Add the maida and atta into the mashed banana. 
3. Pour the jaggery water (once it is cooled and melted) through a strainer into the banana atta mix.
4. Mix this batter well such that the atta and maida form no lumps.
5. Add the rest of the ingredients into the batter. Check the consistency. If it's too thick, add some water and if it is too thin, add some wheat flour. The right consistency is as shown in the picture below.
6. Heat the appam mould. Now pour about 1/4th tsp of ghee into each of the holes/depressions of the appam mould.
7. Pour the batter into these holes. Allow it to cook for a minute or two. When the sides appear brown in colour, turn the unniyappams upside down and cook for another 2 minutes. Insert a toothpick to check. If it comes clean, it's ready!

bananas, maida, aata, jaggery and grated coconut

dates, raisins, dried ginger and cardamom powder

soak jaggery in water and strain after its completely melted

batter consistency after adding all the ingredients should look like this

Add ghee to the appam mould

When the mould is hot, add the batter like this and cook till toothpick comes clean!

That's it! Enjoy eating hot!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Winter Blues

Winter is coming to a close. How can we let it go without playing with our needle & yarn.  I had been thinking of knitting something for Abi, of course. So the search for the colour & design began. Yes, I say search because we live in a place where you have only one shop which sells yarn. Selling is an overstatement for there is just a small shelf with yarn in a tiny corner of his shop. Here I don’t get to see people knitting or wearing hand knitted sweaters including children. Without much effort (or choice!)

I picked the colours and made this simple sweater for my li’l angel. He was happily wearing it and telling everyone “ye toh naani ne banaya hai”(naani made this). The best part was when “baiji” was taking the sweater for washing and he snatched it from her and refused to return it saying it was naani’s!  I know I cannot keep experimenting on him for long because one day he is going to grow up and say no to hand knitted sweaters. But at this moment my happiness knows no bounds.



Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Famous South Indian Muruku recipe

Two years literally flew past. I had forgotten how time consuming and exhausting bringing up a baby is! I never imagined when I started this blog that it would take me 2 years to just write my second post! But now the little one is old enough to remind me!! Last night as I was putting him to bed, out of the blue he said, "naani, I want to eat muruku naani". So the first thing I did the next morning is to make it for him. At which time I realised, what a perfect way to re-start  my memoirs of life with Abi! 

So here is the recipe for the quintessentially south indian snack - muruku. This is one of the rare things that Abi eats without a fuss and I love making it for him. It came out very nicely and not only Abi, but the entire family really enjoyed it!


1. Idli rice/ south indian Ponni rice - 4 cups soaked for 4-5 hours 
2. besan (kadalai maavu) - 2 cups, sieved
3. garlic - 6 cloves
4. red chillies - 6
5. ajwain - 1/2 teaspoon
6. black sesame seeds (til) - 1 teaspoon
7. hing - a pinch
8. unsalted butter - 50 gms
9. salt to taste
10. oil for frying

Kitchen equipments needed:
1. grinder (mixie should be a substitute for grinder but I have not tried making in it)
2. muruku mould (achchu in tamil)

Prep time: 30 minutes approx
Making time: 30 minutes approx

Serves : 40 - 50 pieces of murukus approx

Step by step Method:

1. Grind red chillies (6 pieces) and garlic (6 cloves) together in a grinder to a fine paste by adding little water. 

2. Now add the soaked rice (4 cups) to this paste in the grinder and grind it to a fine consistency by adding water little by little. It should neither be too thick that grinder doesn't run nor too thin that it looks watery (refer picture). Add salt. Grind it for another minute and remove.

3. Add rest of the ingredients to this batter and mix well. It will become like soft dough. The sign of perfectly made dough is that when you press your fingers to it, it should not stick (If it sticks, add a bit more besan till it stops sticking.) Now we are ready to fry our murukus!!

4.  Heat oil in a frying pan. Grease the muruku mould and then fill with the prepared dough. Oil the backside of a skimmer (poori spoon) and press the dough in a round shape onto the skimmer. Gently turn over the skimmer into the hot oil. Fry on both sides till golden brown or the oil stops to bubble. Then remove. (The muruku's colour gets a bit deeper after cooling down. So the pieces should be removed just a little bit before the desired colour). 

5. Take a bite and check. If the muruku is a bit hard, add a bit more butter in the dough. Fry 4 -5 pieces at a time ( or more if the pan is bigger) till the dough is finished. 

6. Cool and store in an air tight container. It is best to spread newspaper at the base and on top before closing. This helps the murukus stay crisp and yummy! Now our snack time is set for the next one month!
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