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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Egg-less Pineapple Cake

This week I needed a dessert that could be made a day in advance for an afternoon party. I started to cook an Indian dessert with the can of pineapple I had at hand, but changed my mind and baked a cake instead. This super easy recipe bakes an amazingly delicious and moist cake and I have to thank Manjula’s kitchen for posting it online. I made a few changes and altered the measurements accordingly.


All purpose flour – 1 cup
Wheat flour – ½ cup
Butter – 1 stick
Condensed milk – 1 small can
Pineapple juice – ½ cup
Crushed pineapples – ½ cup
Cardamom powder – ½ tsp
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Baking soda – ¼ tsp
Salt – ½ tsp


Grease a cake pan and put it aside. Pre-heat the oven to 325 F. combine the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and cardamom powder in a bowl. In a small bowl, melt the stick of butter. Add the butter, condensed milk and half of the pineapple juice to the dry mixture. Add the crushed pineapple puree too and fold everything together slowly. Pour the batter in the greased pan and bake for 50 minutes. Baking times may vary so keep checking after 30 minutes have passed.

Insert a knife in the center of the cake to check whether it’s done or not before taking it out of the oven. Once the cake cools down a bit, take it out on a plate and prick it with a fork at several places. Brush the remaining pineapple juice generously on the cake while it is still warm. This will enhance the flavor and retain the moisture in the cake making it soft. Let the cake cool off completely, slice it up and serve !

·         You can use chunks of pineapple instead of puree.

 Interesting fact
·         In the Philippines, pineapple leaves are used to manufacture wall paper and furnishings.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Maggie Rice

Let me start this post with a riddle. What takes 2 minutes to cook and yet is one of the hardest leftovers to use? 

And the answer is MAGGI !

I bet most of you never faced this problem because Maggi noodles are consumed faster than they are cooked. I would have never faced the leftover situation with this delicious instant noodles had it been just me eating them. I cooked a lot of them for a group and well, some of them were on diet! So here I was, with a bowl full of cooked Maggie noodles lying in the pan and a tummy so full, it refused to have any more of them.

The first thought that came to my mind was to just throw them away; of course wasting food is never an admirable thing to do. I remembered, Hemal Shah, a friend of mine had mentioned that she cooked rice with maggi masala (the seasoning packet that comes with the noodles) and her family just loves it.  I figured if the seasoning could be used for another recipe why not use the leftover Maggie, which already had the seasoning in it. I called my friend who willingly shared her recipe. Adding a few more ingredients, I had this utterly delicious Maggie rice for dinner and now I know what to do with leftover instant noodles and after reading this post, you will too!


Cooked Maggi noodles – 1 packet
Cooked white rice – 1.5 cups
Yellow bell pepper (chopped) – half a cup 
Diced green chilies – 2 small ones
Diced ginger – 1 tsp
Finely chopped garlic – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala – ½ tsp
Olive oil – 2 tsp
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the yellow bell peppers, green chillies, ginger and garlic on a high flame for about a minute. Add the rice, noodles, salt and spices and mix well. Lower heat and cook for a couple of minutes till the flavors blend, stirring all the while. Sprinkle cracked pepper and serve hot.

Serving suggestions
·         With Chips/ Papad/Yogurt

·         You can use any color bell pepper to make the dish more colorful.
·         The ratio of rice to noodles doesn’t really matter too much when you are using leftovers!
·         Go easy on the green chilies if you can’t tolerate spice.

  Interesting fact
·         Apart from India “Maggi” is also very popular in Malaysia. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Guest Post - Naanza!

The minute I saw "Naanza" on my Facebook updates, I knew I wanted it on my blog somehow and that this was one recipe that needed to be shared. And all I had to do was ask !

Shachi Thakar, my friend and a Guest Blogger today, graciously agreed to share a few words, the recipe and a delicious click on Pasta and Paratha. Thank you Shachi and I hope I get a chance to try out more of your wonderful recipes!

So, here's how "Naanza" came to be, in the words of the Chef herself ..

I started to learn cooking once I came to the US for my masters' degree. Until then, my cooking experience was limited to helping mom when there were guests at home or when she was sick. But it was always under her supervision, and things were so much easier (I didn't have to use my  brain :P). 

The first thing I tried making after landing here was Pav Bhaji. Many of my undergrad classmates (all boys) had come with me to the same college, and a couple of them had come a semester in advance. I was the only girl, and they asked me to step up and take the lead for preparing dinner one day. They helped me cut the veggies, but the rest was all on me. I was very very nervous. However, I managed to serve a very delicious meal for everyone, and that first attempt at cooking in this country gave me the confidence I needed to keep getting better and to keep trying out new recipes. Over a period of time, I learnt to really enjoy my time in the kitchen. These days, its a peaceful relaxing activity for me and I look forward to it on most days!

So back in February, I came across this recipe, and loved it. I finally got a chance to try it myself, and as usual, made some tweaks along the way to improvise. 

Naans - 4 (I bought them from Costco) (if you use frozen naan, thaw before using)
Colored bell peppers - 1 cup sliced
Zucchini - 1/2 cup sliced
Red Onion - 1/2 cup sliced
Garlic Cloves - sliced
Grape or Roma Tomatoes - 1/2 cup - sliced
Optional veggies - mushrooms, eggplant.
Pesto Sauce or Marinara Sauce - 3 tbsp per pizza (homemade or store bought)
Amul cheese - 1/2 cup shredded (you can also use sliced mozzarella or crumbled feta)
Avocado - 2 large - peeled and sliced
Fresh basil leaves - optional
Olive oil, salt, pepper - for roasting the vegetables
Red chili flakes (optional)

Toss all the sliced vegetables (bell peppers, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes in a mixing bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Give them a good shake so that all of them are evenly coated. Spread them out on a tray and toss them in the oven, and roast them at 425F for 10-15 mins (they should be well roasted). While the veggies are being roasted - take the Naan, spread the Pesto or Marinara sauce on it (you can also do half pesto/half marinara), add a layer of Amul cheese on top and keep them ready. Once the veggies are out, spread them evenly on the cheese. Put the naan back in the oven for few minutes, until the cheese melts, the toppings bubble up and the naan is crisp (it should turn a light brown color on the edges).

Garnish with avocado slices and fresh basil leaves, and add red chili flakes on top (if you like it spicy) and dig into your NaanZa!

A daughter, sister, wife, MOM, a caring and dependable friend, a compassionate human being - I am an Indian living in California (USA) since the last 12 years. I am an engineer by profession. I love being a mommy. My hobbies include reading, traveling, cooking, music, sports (Racquetball, tennis, swimming, gymming) - just to name a few.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Purple Raita

There are some sides that are colorful, nutritious, flavorful and take just minutes to put together. This dish definitely falls under that category. ‘Raita’ is a popular accompaniment to an Indian meal and this yogurt based dip brings a very refreshing taste on the dining table.

There really isn’t much to list in terms of ingredients or cooking method. Beat 1 cup of yogurt and add ¼ cup of water to it. Add and mix half a cup of grated purple cabbage, salt, pepper and chat masala to the yogurt. Chill and serve!

Serving suggestions
·         With Biryani/Pulav/Rice/Paratha or as a dip.

·         You can add grated carrot to make the dish more colorful.
·         Green cabbage can be used in place of purple cabbage.
·         Small pieces of green chili can be added to get a little zing !

Interesting fact
Red cabbage juice (which is popularly known as purple cabbage) contains anthocyanin and can be used as a pH indicator (determination of acidity content).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Colorful Penne in Creamy Pesto

Penne is by far my most preferred kind of pasta. It works well with any kind of sauce and veggies and the shape is also very pleasant to look at!

This colorful recipe is easy to put together, provided you have pesto sauce at hand, if not then add a couple minutes more to your cooking time. The bell peppers give this pasta dish a nice crunch and color and the pesto of course lends it the delicious flavor.


Whole wheat penne – 1 cup
Colored bell peppers – 1 cup (chopped or sliced)
Carrots – ½ cup (chopped or sliced)
Almond Pesto – 4 tsp
Italian seasoning – 1 tsp
Milk – ¼ cup
Parmesan cheese – 4 tsp
Water – 4 cups
Olive Oil – 1 tsp
Butter – 1 tsp
Salt & Pepper

Boil water and season it with oil, salt and water. Cook pasta in that water as per package directions, drain and set aside. Heat butter in a skillet and sauté the carrots and bell peppers for a couple of minutes. Season the vegetables with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Mix in the pesto sauce and cooked pasta. Add milk and parmesan cheese. Gently stir all the ingredients so that they blend in together. Sprinkle pepper and more cheese if desired and serve this colorful pasta hot!

Serving suggestions
·         With soup/salad.

·        Any kind of dry herbs like parsley, basil, oregano etc., can be used in absence of Italian seasoning.
·        You can add any colored vegetables of your choice; just make sure you don’t overcook them so that they retain their crunchy texture.
·    Mexican blend grated cheese goes well with this kind of pasta in combination with parmesan cheese.
·       Pesto can last up to a week in the refrigerator and can also be frozen for later use
·         Store bought Pesto also works well with this dish.

  Interesting fact
·         Bell pepper is an excellent source of Vitamin A & C, both very powerful anti-oxidants.

This colorful pasta is going to:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quinoa With Peanuts & Yogurt

This is a dish I cook only for myself for the simple reason that the introduction of Quinoa as a part of everyday food still hasn’t sunk in for the rest of my family. Usually, I give in and just go along with what everybody else is eating in the house but after having come to know of the health benefits of Quinoa, I make it a point to cook it for myself atleast twice a week.

This recipe is pretty basic but packs in a lot of flavor and nutrition. The crunch of the peanuts and the smoothness of the yogurt give this dish a good balance. Whereas, the green chili adds a delicious zing and of course a contrast of color to the dish.

Quinoa – 1 cup
Roasted peanuts – ¼ cup
Blended yogurt – ½ cup
Water – 2 cups
Green chilies – as tolerated
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Chopped cilantro – 2 tsp
Olive Oil – 1 tsp
Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a skillet and add cumin seeds to it. When the seeds start to crackle add curry leaves, green chilies, chopped cilantro, roasted peanuts and give it a quick stir. Mix in the quinoa and cook for 2 minutes on medium flame stirring constantly. Then pour in water and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for 15 minutes or so until the quinoa is nearly done. Fold in the blended yogurt and cook on slow flame for 7 minutes or so. Turn the heat off and cover for a few minutes before you transfer it to a plate. Garnish with roasted peanuts and a green chili and help yourself!

Serving suggestions
·         With Ghee/more yogurt/curry

·         Go easy on the salt as the yogurt also adds a little bit of a salty flavor to the dish.
·        Vegetables like carrots, corn, potatoes or even bell peppers can make a good addition to this basic recipe.

  Interesting fact
·         Quinoa is high in protein content, gluten-free and easy to digest.
·         Quinoa is a healthier alternative to white rice. 

This simple dish that I cooked for myself goes to:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spinach Tortilla in Yogurt Sauce

This recipe is a westernized version of a Gujarati dish called “Rotli nu Shaak” made from leftover chapattis. So if you take out the spinach tortilla and use leftover chapatti or roti and add thick buttermilk which I have presented in the name of “yogurt sauce”, you will be eating a Gujju dish start from my mom’s kitchen.

Also, this is a real quick fix, just the perfect amount of time one wants to spend on using up leftovers!

Spinach Tortilla – 2 medium
Chopped onion – ¼ cup (optional)
Yogurt – 3 tsp
Water – 1.5 cups
Curry leaves – just a couple
Green chilies – 2 medium
Sugar – ¼ tsp
Red chili powder – as tolerated
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Cumin  Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Asafetida – a pinch
Salt – add carefully

Blend yogurt and water to form a smooth sauce (buttermilk) and set aside. Cut the tortilla into medium sized pieces.

Heat oil in a skillet and add mustard seeds. When they crackle, throw in asafetida, green chilies cut into small pieces, chopped onion and curry leaves. After a couple of seconds, pour in the yogurt sauce and add in all the remaining ingredients except for tortilla pieces.

Cover the skillet and let the liquid cook with the spices for 5 minutes. Ease in the tortilla pieces thereafter and mix well. Cook uncovered for 3 minutes or so on high flame and turn the heat off. Cover and let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving so that the tortilla becomes all soft and mushy in the sauce.

Serving suggestions
·         With Rice

·         You can use leftover roti/chapatti in place of tortilla
·        The dish tastes very good without onions too if you want to skip them like I do most of the times
·     This dish is best savored within a couple of minutes of cooking it. Unfortunately, the leftovers of this leftover inspired dish don’t retain texture or taste for a long time.

  Interesting fact
·       Tortilla has surpassed bagels and muffins and is now sold only second to sliced bread in that packaged food category in USA.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Punch Bowl Rice

Warning – The contents of the “Interesting Fact” section at the end of the recipe may come as a shock!

Once after a party I had leftovers in the punchbowl. Now, punch bowl leftovers are the easiest to use, drink them up over the next couple of days. This punch that got leftover had a lovely red color to it and while storing it away in a smaller jug a couple of ideas to use it ran through my mind.

1) I could have glassfulls of the delicious punch for the next two days with my meals. 
2) I could pour it down the drain since most of the soda from it was already gone. 
3) I could use it as a base for some recipe.

It isn’t everyday that I have leftover punch so I decided to go for option 3. A quick search on the internet revealed a lot of pork roast recipes cooked from the liquids that I had used to make the punch (cranberry cocktail, apple juice, ginger ale, ice and spices). But I needed a vegetarian recipe and that too before I lost all interest in the jug lying in the refrigerator.

Necessity is the mother of invention and I can’t stress enough on how true it is in the kitchen. I came up with this punch bowl rice recipe purely on the logic that rice being my “favoritest” food in this whole world, the chances of the experiment going wrong went down considerably.

And did I mention that all you have to invest is 10 minutes of your time in the kitchen if you have a rice cooker handy.

Brown rice – 1 cup
Black Beans – ½ can
Diced Carrots – ½ cup
Diced onion – ¼ cup
Diced celery – ¼ cup
Minced garlic – 1 tsp
Diced tomato – 1/3 cup
Diced green bell pepper – ¼ cup
Punch liquid – 3 cups
Fajita seasoning – 1 tsp
Oregano – ½ tsp
Butter – 1 tsp
Soak the brown rice for 1 hour before cooking. In a large skillet heat the butter and cook diced onion for a couple of minutes, add garlic and cook some more. Add all the vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes or so. Add the brown rice and the seasonings. Mix well and transfer everything to an electric rice cooker. Pour in the liquid and mix again. Select the “cook brown rice” setting, relax and enjoy the aroma!

Alternatively, cook the brown rice in the punch liquid before hand and add it to the sautéed vegetables. Mix well and serve.

Serving suggestions
·         With soup and/or chips.

·         You can use white rice in place of brown rice, just don’t soak it beforehand.
·         You can use any kind of beans from the pantry; red, black or even white.
·         Sprinkle some cheese before serving for added flavor.
·         This rice would make for an excellent filling in any kind of Burrito or Enchilada.

  Interesting fact

·         A punch is an assortment of drinks generally containing fruit or fruit juice.
·      This drink was put together first in India and brought to England by the sailors of the East India Company.
·       The word punch is from the Hindi word “panch”(five) and was originally made with five ingredients; alcohol, sugar, lemon, water and tea or spices.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Spinach & Cheese Panini

Ok, so technically this is a regular sandwich, but by virtue of its instrument of cooking, it earned the name of a Panini (an Italian sandwich made with bread roll).

Sandwiches are a part of our weekly menu and a Panini maker has made things simpler and tastier. Now, before everybody starts thinking this post is an ad for my Panini maker, I better get down to business.

Everything from the use of whole wheat bread to spinach to low fat cheese makes this recipe healthy with an added potential of making it even healthier The sandwich with a future – that’s what I would like to call it.

Whole Wheat bread slices – as needed
Diced onion – ¼ cup
Chopped spinach – 2 cups
Low fat Mexican cheese – 1 cup
Red chili flakes – as tolerated
Butter – as preferred

Heat a little amount of butter in a skillet and cook the diced onion for a couple of minutes. Add in spinach, cheese and spices. Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes till the cheese melts. Let the spinach cheese mixture cool for some time. Butter the bread slices. Spread the spinach cheese mixture generously on one slice and close it with the other. Grill it in the Panini press for the desired crunchiness.

Serving suggestions
·         With Ketchup, chutney, chips.

·    You can add any cheese of your choice, cheddar and mozzarella cheese also go well with spinach.
·         You can add tomatoes too if preferred.
·         You can use the full fat cheese if cooking for kids.
·         You can use multi grain bread to make the sandwich healthier.
·         You can limit the amount of butter or skip it altogether.

  Interesting fact

·   Cheese gives out a better flavor and texture when allowed to warm up to room temperature before eating.
·         Traditionally, a “Ciabata” or “Rosetta” bread loaf is used to make Panini(s) in Italy. 

This Panini is going to