Thursday, December 30, 2010

Vegetable Spring Packets

Today I was planning to make Chinese Vegetable Noodles and ended up chopping more veggies than required. So decided to try a spring roll. After kneading the dough, I realized that the maida we bought from a Little India store here is totally different from the ones available in India. (Infact it is marked as "wheat flour" on the packet :-)) and the store boy said that it is actually maida but folks here call it wheat flour)!! After this revelation, it takes double the time to shop for groceries here (actually 2+ hours much to the agony of PK who has to manage Ad during those times) as I read every packet thoroughly!.

So the "wheat flour alias maida"dough didnt allow me to roll out bigger "chappathis" for the spring roll. Thus was born the improvised cousin of the spring roll - Spring Packets. You can use any kind of vegetables - even left over poriyals to make this tasty evening snack.

Spring Packets


For the Packets:

1 cup maida / all purpose flour
1 teaspoon oil
a pinch of salt

For the Stuffing: - Cut all these veggies into thin strips

1 Carrot
1/2 Capsicum
1/4 Cabbage
1/2 Onion
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded Garlic
1 teaspoon Soya Sauce
1 teaspoon Tomato Chilly Sauce (any store brought brand like Maggi / Kissan)
a pinch of pepper
salt to taste
1 teaspoon oil (I always prefer sesame oil for chinese dishes. Any oil can be used)
2 tblspoon oil for frying the packets


For the Packet: Mix all the ingredients into a dough and roll it into a round chappath shapei. Cut the chapathi into two halfs (semi circle).

For the Stuffing:

1. Heat Oil in a pan and add the shredded garlic. Fry for a minute.
2. Add the onion and fry for a bit.
3. Add the cabbage, carrot and capsicum and fry till soft but crunchy.
4. Mix in salt, soya sauce and pepper and fry for a minute.
5, Remove from fire and cool the mixture.

For the Packets:

1. Roast the chappathi on a tava on one side only with a little oil.
2. Remove and cut into two halfs (semi circle)
3. Place a little stuffing on the cooked side and fold the packet and seal it with the raw side of hte dough.
4. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, fry the sealed packets until cooked.

Serve with hot tomato sauce.

You may also like to:

  • Add cooked chicken pieces / mushroom / noodles
  • This can be deep fried as well for indulgent folks

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Simple Corn Salad

It has been quite sometime since I have posted or even opened my blog. The last couple of months have been hectic with huge winds of change blowing our way. I have finally quit my job and packed my bags and we have moved "lock stock and barrel" to Penang where PK has taken up a new job. (Well actually it is lock stock and two pressure cookers to be exact!!.

A new country, a new house and lots of time on my hand. The initial bouts of homesickness have settled down a bit (I am sure it wont go away at any time :-( - and we would just get used to it). So I am back with a bang and hopefully would be able to post a lot of my cooking experiments and a little bit about the food here in Malaysia.

Sweet Corn became a rage in good old Chennai a few years back with a stall in every corner. Today's snack is one of my favorites and brings sweet memories of rainy Chennai and shopping expeditions with my sis. Here is my version of a healthy corn salad.

Simple Corn Salad


1 cup Frozen or fresh corn kernels
1 teaspoon olive oil (I use butter i/o olive oil when I make this for the kids). You can also use amul lite for a tasty but healthy version.
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 green chilly or dried red chilly - finely diced
1 big pinch of oregano
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt to taste


1. Heat the oil in a pan
2. Add the garlic and chillies. Do not brown the garlic but let it fry mildly.
3. Add the corn. If you are using frozen corn, the water content would be sufficient to cook the corn. Else sprinkle a little water.
4. When the corn is cooked (and looks plump and yellow!) add the salt and fry for a bit until there is no water remaining
5. Garnish with oregano and lemon juice.

You may also :
  • add capsicum / mushrooms / diced tomatoes / lettuce / Spring onions and make it into salad for a main course.
  • substitute chaat masala / chilly flakes  for oregano
  • also add grated ginger with or without the garlic
  • garnish with little bit of grated cheese

 It is an good snack when you have surprise guests as it can be whipped up in a jiffy. Serve hot / warm or cold. In our house it does not get served - it vanishes straight from the pan :-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vegetable Fried Rice

Chinese Cuisine has been a favorite at our home from my childhood and luckily PK shares the same passion for oriental food.  From my toddler days "fried rice and chicken manchurian" has been a regular food especially at restaurants such as China House and Chung King (I believe the latter exists even today ).

This recipe for Veg Fried Rice is purely from memory picked up from the days when my amma used to make this as a special treat on days such as the first day of my summer holidays or on birthdays. I still remember the elaborate preparations taken by finely chopping vegetables and boiling the rice to the right level in a huge vessel. It is much simpler today and can be made in a jiffy with my Braun chopper and the rice cooker.

Vegetable Fried Rice


2 cups of Basmati Rice
1 cup  finely chopped carrot
1 cup  shredded cabbage
1 cup diced capsicum
2 tbsp sweet corn kernels - boiled (optional)
6-7 spring onions chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
3-4 red chillies
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp sesame oil / vegetable oil
2 tsp soya sauce
1 tbsp green chilly sauce
1 tsp vinegar
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp lemon juice

1. Wash and parboil the rice until it is just short of well done. I use the rice cooker with the ratio of 2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice. Add some salt and a dash of lime juice and few drops of oil. The rice has to be cooked but should remain as separate grains. If you are not sure of the rice cooker technique, just boil the rice in lots of water with salt and lemon juice. Test the rice after 5 minutes. It should be cooked "al dente" i,e in a biteable consistency. Once done, spread on a plate and allow it to cool.

2.In a deep pan, heat up two tbsp oil (I use sesame oil as it gives a lovely oriental fragrance to the food. You can use any other cooking oil). 3. Add the shredded red chillies, garlic and ginger and fry for a minute. 4. Now add the white parts of the spring onion and fry a little. 5. Add the chopped veggies one after another and cook until it is half done. 6. Add the salt (remember that the rice has also been cooked with salt. so adjust accordingly), pepper, vinegar, soya sauce and chilly sauce and saute well for a minute. 7. Slowly add the rice coating it well until all the rice and vegetables are combined. 8. Garnish with the remaining spring onion.

Serve hot with Chilly Baby Corn.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Aloo Mattar

One of the first dishes that I had tried out during my school days was the simple Aloo Mattar. A basic vegetable gravy without much fuss of complex techniques or ingredients.

So while thinking up options for dinner last night, I decided to make Aloo Mattar to go with our chappathi dinner. There are multiple ways to whip up the basic gravy - you can just use plain chopped onion and tomatoes or use a paste of sauteed onions, tomatoes and cashews. The variations are endless for this versatile dish.

Aloo Mattar


3 to 4 Large potatoes boiled and cubed
1 cup of peas (fresh or frozen) - slightly boiled
2 onion, finely chopped
1 onion, ground to paste
2 tomatoes
1 long green chilly - slit lengthwise
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 cloves
1" cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 tsp jeera
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp fesh yoghurt
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped


1. Boil the tomatoes, deskin and grind into puree. Keep aside. 2. In a pan, heat the oil. Add the Jeera, clove, cinnamon, bay leaf and green chillies.3. Add the chopped onions and the ground onion paste and fry for 3-4 mts. If it sticks to the pan, add some water and fry until the raw smell is gone. 4. Add all the spice powders except the garam masala and fry for a minute. 5. Add the tomato puree and fry until the raw smell is gone.6. Add 1/2 cup of water, boiled potatoes and peas and combine well. 7. Add salt and sugar. 8. Cook for 5 -7 minutes until the gravy thickens. 9. Check for taste and adjust seasonings. 10. Add the curd and mix well. 11. Keep on flame until the gravy gets a creamy texture. 12. Add the lemon juice and mix well. 13.Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with rotis.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pavakkai Fry (Deep Fried BitterGourd)

Deep Fry is a taboo in our home - to the extent that we microwave appalam and pappad!! So it is on rare occasions that we fill the pan with oil. Last week, I found a batch of fresh bittergourds at Suriya Greens on my way from work. Since PK was not in town - I thought of indulging myself with one of my favorite dishes - Deep Fried Pavakkai (Bittergourd).

One of the fondest memories from my school days has been lunching with my Best Friend - L at her house stuffing our faces with yummy sambar rice, spicy potato fry and awesome pavakkai deep fry. We never cook bittergourd at my place and so it was a revelation to try the simple yet comforting pavakkai fry. While aunty always says that it goes well with curd rice - I normally have it like a main course with the rice becoming an accompaniment.

And after so many years - even now when I visit aunty, I know that she would not send me back without a sample of her now famous pavakkai fry.

Pavakkai Fry


1/2 kg Bitter Gourd
2 tbsp Red Chilly Powder
a pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying


1. Wash and cut the bittergourd into round slices.2. Remove the seeds (giving it a "polo" like shape). 3. Soak the ringlets in a bowl of water with turmeric and salt (helps remove the excess bitterness). 4. Drain the water and allow the ringlets to dry. 5. In a bowl, mix the salt, chilly powder and turmeric well. 6. Toss in the bittergourd ringlets until it is well coated with the masala. 7. Allow it to marinate for 15 minutes. 8. Heat Oil in  a deep bottomed pan. 9. Deep fry the ringlets in batches until they turn brown. Remove and allow it to drain the excess oil on paper towels.

Some of the ringlets may turn out soft and not crisp - this is fine. Serve with curd rice.

While I am not a big fan of deep frying (infact I am paranoid about it)  this is one exception when I go around looking for comfort food. - And it never fails to remind me of the peaceful days spent during my schooling.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chicken Korma - Comfort Food!

It has been quite sometime since my first write-up. With a laptop crash (that lasted for nearly two weeks - thanks to running helter skelter for file retrival) and Aditi starting school, it has been a hell of a couple of weeks!!. And now for the last one week - we are all down with sniffles and sneezes. So to cheer up the folks at home (and to limit the time spent in the kitchen),we decided to make a simple rice and chicken curry yesterday.
It is one of the best comfort foods (especially when one is fighting a battle with the common cold) and the chicken korma recipie from
Sailu's kitchen is one of my favorites. I have modified it to suit the ingredients in my pantry - but with all the additions and deductions, it still creates a "feel good" effect. This recipie here is an adapted version with a higher heat quotient - because of adding pepper.

Nilgri Chicken Korma ( Serves 2-3)
Ingredients: 1 kg chicken (cleaned and marinated in masala of turmeric,chilli powder and curd)

2 large onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsps ginger garlic paste
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tbsp finely minced Garlic

1 tsp red chilli pwd
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste2-3 tbsps oil
chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Roast and Grind:
1.5 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp saunf1 tsp khus khus
1″ cinnamon2 cardamoms
5 tbsp grated fresh coconut
8 cashew nuts
1 tbsp roasted chickpeas
Roast: (in 2 tsps oil for 5 mts)
10 -15 curry leaves
8-10 shallots/sambar onions
4 green chillis
3 tbsps chopped coriander and mint leaves
1 Make a paste of ingredients under grind and roast by adding a few tbsps of water and keep aside.2 Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel, add curry leaves and saute for few secs. Add the minced garlic, chopped onions and fry till transparent. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute for 3 mts. Add red chilli pwd, turmeric pwd and salt and combine. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 4-5 mts.3 Add the ground paste and cook over medium heat for 7-8 mts.4 Add lemon juice and the chicken pieces and combine. Cook without lid for 5-6 mts. Add 3 cups of water and cook with lid on simmer till the chicken is tender and the gravy thickens. (You can also use a pressure pan and allow it to cook until one whistle) Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
If you are conscious about the use of coconut, you can reduce the quantity of grated coconut and increase the khus khus slightly.
Serve hot with steaming plain rice or chappathis. Yumm!! Best cure for gloomy days

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Simple Pasta

It was a rainy day and the cook's day out. So wondering what to zap for dinner when I was overcome with the urge to have pasta.

While I am yet to cross the threshold to make pasta from scratch - for now I have made it with store-bought pasta (Bambino or any other brand would do) and home-made sauce.


1 packet Pasta (Spaghetti / penne / elbow) - about 400 gms
1 Large Capsicum - sliced
1 Tomato - Chopped
1/4 cup chopped Spring Onions (make sure to keep the whites sliced and separate)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon - Shredded Cheese

For the Sauce:

2 Ripe Tomatoes
5-6 Garlic - Finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon - shredded dry red chilly (optional)
A dash of Oregano
1 tablespoon - Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon - Tomato Ketchup
1 pinch of sugar
Salt to taste

Boil some water in a pan and blanch the tomatoes. De-skin and grind to a pulp in a blender. Set Aside.

In a sauce pan, add some olive oil. Add the dry chillies and chopped garlic and fry for a minute until the oil absorbs the flavor or the garlic. Add the sliced spring onions and fry for a minute. Add the capsicum and allow it to soften a bit. Now add the tomatoes and tomato puree and allow the sauce to cook. Once the sauce looses its raw flavour, add the tomato ketchup , salt and sugar and allow it to thicken further.
As the sauce is simmering, heat up a big pan of water and add a dash of olive oil and a big pinch of salt. As the water reaches boiling point, add the pasta and allow it to cook. Once the pasta is cooked "al dente" (or to a biting consistency), remove from fire, drain the water (retain some of the water) and add the pasta to the sauce. Mix well. Add the pasta water if the consistency is too thick. Sprinkle shredded cheese and spring onions and oregano.

I made extra batch of the sauce and stored it in a jar in the fridge. Just remove the extra sauce before adding the pasta - and voila -the next time the pasta craving hits you - all you need to do is boil the pasta, heat the sauce from the jar and mix it up. You can also add other vegetables like corn, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms or shredded chicken or prawns.

A heaped plateful of Pasta with a good novel on a rainy day - Bliss!

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