Milagu Kuzhambu With Garlic

Milagu Kuzhambu With Garlic 

I prepared this Milagu Kuzhambu couple weeks ago when my whole family was down with cold and flu. This is from Chef ‘Menu Rani’ Chellam’s ‘Dhinapadi Samayal’ cookbook (translates to everyday cooking). You can serve this along with Milagu Rasam, Paruppu Thugayal, Rice and Appalam 

Milagu Kuzhambu


Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Tamarind juice from a gooseberry sized tamarind ball
Curry Leaves – 1 spring
Garlic – 15 to 20 flakes

Spices to roast and grind:

Pepper – 1 tsp
Bengal Gram Dal – 2 tsp
Urad Dal – 2 tsp
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek Seeds – 1/2 tsp


1. Dry roast all spices and grind them along with curry leaf
2. In a pan, heat ghee
3. Add curry leaves, garlic, mustard seeds and cumin seeds
4. Then add tamarind juice
5. Add salt and the ground paste
6. Let it boil for 5 mins and transfer to a serving bowl
7. Serve with white rice and appalam

Kaju Masala (Cashewnut Masala) Ver 2

Kaju Masala (Cashewnut Masala)

Kaju Masala

I grew up in Chennai (Madras) aka Vegetarian food heaven :-) We Chennaites love our food. When I grew up there were so many food joints that served local fare and almost all of them served ‘North Indian’ food too, which was kind of exotic back then. Kids when taken to a restaurant would order chapathis (those days, chapathis came with chef’s choice of side dishes and we didn’t have to scratch our head abut what to order along to go with them). Years later I realized that none of these places served up authentic North Indian food but only, South Indianized versions of them – atleast the places I had been to. Yet we loved those South Indianized versions so much that most of us prefer it to the authentic one.

Another thing synonymous with Chennai is ‘Hotel Saravana Bhavan’. This place was/is quite popular in and well known for its quality, taste and price. Families go to HSB for special occasions.  Our family had this tradition of going there for every celebration from Birthdays to Wedding days. It is here, my mom introduced me to Kaju Masala. The dish was served after a short while – a small bowl of hot steamy, creamy, rich spicy looking masala with cashews all over. It was very rich. Not only that, it tasted so good, that I can still remember the taste. I am not sure whether HSB served an authentic version but I loved the dish so much from there on.

Time passed.. I got married and being the new bride, I cooked everything I could ever think of. One day, I tried my hand at Kaju Masala hoping to get close to the HSB version. That was version 1 that I posted here. It tasted great but nothing like the original. Recently, I found a cashew Masala recipe on Chef Mallika Badrinath’s 100 delicious curries book and tried her way after tweaking it a bit. It turned out so well and was almost like HSB’s. So here is Chef Mallika Badronath’s recipe that I tweaked. This is from Chef Mallika Badrinath’s 100 Delicious Vegetarian Curries

Chennai celebrates its 375th Bday. Wishing Chennai a ‘Happy Madras Day’. My dear Madras, wherever I am, my heart is still with u. You can take the me out of Madras but not the Madras out of Me

Note: This is not the exact recipe of the HSB Kaju Masala. To try the original, you have to just head there.


Onion 1 big
Cashew nut 1/2 cup
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder 1 pinch
Vinegar 1 tsp
Red chillies 2 – 4
Garlic 6 cloves
Milk 1 cup &
Coconut 1/4 cup
Coconut milk 1 cup
Tamarind juice from a small pinch of tamarind
Jaggery 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil to saute

1. Grind together cumin, mustard, garlic, red chillies, turmeric powder along with vinegar
2. In a saucepan, heat oil. Once oil is hot, add finely chopped onion and saute till its golden
3. Add the ground Masala, jaggery and saute for 3 mins or till the onions are completely coated with the Masala
4. Grind the onions and the Masala together. The original recipe didn’t grind the onions but I prefer it this way.
5. Pour the ground mixture back into the saucepan. Add cashews , salt and 1 cup milk and coconut powder. Let it boil till the cashews are soft. You may notice that the cashews have enlarged in size. The original recipe used coconut milk instead of milk and coconut.
6. Add tamarind water and let the Masala boil in med low heat for 5 mins
7. Serve by garnishing with coriander leaves along with chapathis or rice

Shahi Vegetable Kurma

Shahi Vegetable Kurma

When I got married, my SIL passed on a cook book to me called 100 Delicious Vegetarian Curries
by Chef Mallika Badrinath. In my busy schedule, I totally forgot about the book. Three weeks ago, when my mom was making chapathis for dinner, we came across the usual weekly problem – “Whats the side dish”. That’s when I opened this cookbook. After shortlisting a few recipes based on what was available in the pantry and fridge, we finally zeroed in on this “Shahi Vegetable Kurma” . My mom made it and it tasted so heavenly! It was so yum that we have been preparing this dish every week since then. The best part was my son loved to have this chapathis with this dish. So here is the recipe..

Shahi Vegetable Kurma


Mixed vegetables (Potato, Carrots, Peas, beans) – diced 3 cups. Please note: The original recipe suggests more veggies such as turnip, chow chow (chayote) etc

Kashmiri Chilli Powder – 1 tsp

Grated Onions – 1/2 cup

Oil for frying (The original recipe suggests using ghee and butter for frying)

Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tsp

Saffron – a pinch

Whipped Curds – 1 and a 1/2 cups

Bay leaf – 1

Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom – few

To grind together 

Blanched almonds – 10

Cashew – 10

Poppy Seeds – 1 tsp


1. As a first step, cut all veggies and steam or microwave cook them till they are done. Grind almonds, cashews and poppy seeds and keep them aside

2. Heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add whole spices such as  cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf. Followed by grated onions and ginger garlic paste

3. Add a pinch of salt and saute till onion becomes golden

4. Add chilli powder, whipped yogurt and salt and stir the gravy in medium flame. you will notice that the oil starts to float on top

5. Add the ground paste, cooked veggies to the gravy

6. Add little bit of water and let the kurma cook till it becomes thick. Garnish with coriander leaves

7. Tasty Shahi Vegetable Kurma is ready to be served with chapathis

Mint Tea

Mint Tea

Last year my Gujarati housekeeper noticed me stocking fresh mint leaves. She was curious as how we use it in our South Indian cooking. I explained to her my favorite pudhina thogayal, mint chutney that’s served with idlies. In exchange she provided me this easy and tasty mint tea. It was very new to me and my family has been enjoying it since then. 

Mint Tea

Ingredients: (Serves 2) 

Milk – 1 cup

Water – 1/2 cup

Mint Leaves – 1 spring or more if you prefer a stronger tea 

Sugar – 2 tsp per cup 

Tea – 1 heaped spoon 


1. In a sauce pan, boil water and add mint leaves and tea powder 

2. When it boils, add milk and let the tea boil

3. Strain tea into a cup and add sugar. Stir well.Serve hot with biscuits

Milagu Rasam – Version 2

Milagu Rasam

Its festive time in India! Here in the USA, the flu season seems to have started even before the leaves turn yellow. My household is not an exception. Everyone from DH to LO have gotten cold, fever and congestion. This has given a dull start to our holiday celebration. Undeterred, I still made up some goodies to celebrate Varalakshmi Nombu. Do checkout Pal Payasam and Semiya Kesari

Before indulging in holiday goodies, I prepared this milagu Rasam to cleanse and provide relief from cold. I have already put a version of milagu rasam from my mom’s notes. This version is from a cookbook called ‘Dhinapadi Samayal’ by Menu Rani Chellam. I prefer to buy cookery books in Tamil so that I don’t miss reading my mother tongue here in the US. So here is the recipe. Do serve it with ‘Milagu Kuzhambu’, ‘ Paruppu Thugayal’ and ‘Appalam’. 

Milagu Rasam


Crushed Peppercorns -½  tsp

Cumin seeds – ½ tsp

Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp

Red Chilli – 1

Tamarind Water

Salt to taste

Curry Leaves – 1 spring

Ghee – 1 tbspn


1. Heat ghee in a saucepan on low heat

2. Add mustard seeds. Once the mustard splutters, add cumin seeds, coarsely crushed peppercorns, red chilli and curry leaves.Saute for a minute

3. Add Tamarind water, salt and let it boil till the rasam reduces to half the quantity

4. Add water up to half of the sauce pan

5. Now, the rasam  should not boil but just get frothy. Switch off flame. Serve with hot rice

Pasta Upma

Pasta Upma

Pasta Upma – Our latest discovery. The other day we wanted to prepare upma for dinner when my mom noticed that we didn’t have enough rava or semolina but tons of pasta. That’s when we got this idea of ‘Pasta Upma’. We simply replaced rava or semolina in traditional upma. The end result – the pasta merged well with the south Indian flavoring and tasted awesome.  It was a major hit with my LO who loves both upma and pasta.  We prepared this with ‘Spinach-Zuchini flavored Rotini Pasta’ but you can try with other pasta varieties too.

Pasta Upma


Rotini Pasta – 3/4 Cup

Cut Vegetables (Carrot, Beans, Peas, Onions, Capsicum, Tomato) – 1 and 1/2 Cup

Oil – To Saute

Salt – To Taste

Mustard Seeds  – 1/2 tsp

Urud Dal – 1/2 tsp

Green Chilli – 1

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp


1. Heat oil in a kadai. Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds and urud dal. When the dal turns brown, add green chilli and onion

2. When the onion turns brown, add tomatoes. Saute for 5 mins. Add the vegetables, salt and turmeric

3. Add water and rotini pasta and let it boil

4. When the pasta is done, turn off flame and garnish with coriander leaves

Paneer Bread Rolls

Paneer Bread Rolls

A very easy and interesting recipe. I saw this was posted few years ago in one of the food blogs. Unfortunately I don’t recall the name of the blog. I have been making it at home since then. Its easy to put together. Its great as a ‘to-go snack’ when we go out on those car trips. You can be creative and use any filling. Sometimes I use this to re-purpose left over curries. 

Paneer Bread Rolls

Paneer Rolls


1. White bread – 10 (provides 10 rolls)

2. Paneer – very small cubes

3. Onion – ½ very small cubes

4. Green Capsicum – ¼ small cubes

5. Salt

6. Garam Masala – 1 pinch

7. Coriander powder – ½ tsp

8. Cumin powder – ½ tsp

9. Oil

10. Tomato sauce – 2 spoons

Method of Preparation 

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add Onions once hot & a pinch of salt to help onions brown faster

2. Once the onions are transparent, add capsicum & paneer. Sau·té and add cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala

3. Switch off flame, add tomato sauce and mix

4. Remove the edges of the bread and flatten with a rolling pin

5. Place a little masala on the bread and bend the edges to create a roll

6. Seal the edges with a drop of water

7. In a dosa tava, place the bread and let them turn golden brown on all sides.

8. Serve with ketchup

We can be creative with the stuffing!

Tomato Nut Chutney

Tomato and nut chutney:

This chutney is specifically designed for children. This is a very nice way to hide veggies and nuts into a chutney. It pairs very well with Carrot Chapathis. You can use cashews or almonds.

Tomato Nut Chutney

Onions 1

Tomatoes 1

Carrot 1

Cashew or almond 4 to 5

Green chilli 1

Coriander leaves 1-2 springs

Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp

Asaefoetida 1 pinch

Ghee to saute and to temper


1. Chop onions, tomato, green chilli, carrots and coriander leaves

2. Heat ghee in a pan. Add the veggies and saute

3. Add a pinch of salt and turmeric powder

4. Grind the veggies into a smooth paste along with cashews or almonds

5. Heat ghee in a small pan, add mustard seeds and asafoetida once ghee is hot

6. Add this to the chutney

Plum Rasam

Plum Rasam

This is a recipe that I discovered by accident. I was captivated by juicy looking plums t a local farmers market. I bought them hoping to consume more fruit. At home when I sliced and took a bite, I realized that it was sour! Not knowing what to do next, I set it aside in the fridge. The next day, we ran out of tomatoes and I was lazy to run to the grocer. Instead, I used the plums and was amazed with the appreciation from my hubby, several servings and about how the Rasam was all gone very soon. 

Few years later, my friend ‘R’ and her family came home for lunch and I prepared this plum Rasam and they loved it as well. She has been insisting for a while that I do something on ‘cooking’.  She also reads this blog in between her busy life. Thanks ‘R’ for all your  encouragement.

So after her repeated requests, here’s Plum Rasam..

Plum Rasam sq

Ingredients: [Serves 3 and a half ;-) ]

Plums – 3

Juice from tamarind – 1/2 to 1/4 cup depending on the sourness of the plums

Rasam powder – 1 tspn

cumin – pepper powder – 1 tspn

Salt to taste

Ghee – 1 tspn

Mustard seeds – 1/2 tspn

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tspn

Fresh Coriander leaves – 5 springs finely chopped

Water – 1 saucepan full

Boiled toor dal – 1/4 cup


1. Heat water in a saucepan. Cut plums into quarters, do a taste check to determine the sourness of the plums. Immerse plums in water and let it boil for 5 to 7 minutes in high heat

2.  Once the plums lose their shape and blend with water, add tamarind water. Depending on the sourness of the plums, add more or less tamarind water

Rasam 1

3. Add salt, rasam powder, cumin – pepper powder (grind equal quantities of cumin seeds and pepper corns to prepare this powder. You can prepare in bulk and store it for future use)

4. Let the rasam boil till it reduces to half

5. Now mash and mix boiled toor dal with equal quantities of water and add it to the boiling rasam

6. Now you have to only let the rasam bubble and it should not boil

Rasam 2

7. In a separate pan, heat ghee. Add mustard seeds; Once it splutters, add cumin seeds and asaefoetida. Add this tadka to rasam and serve by garnishing coriander leaves

8. This rasam is sweet, sour and mildly spicy. You can serve this with white rice pair with a spicy curry like potato curry or Mashed Potato Curry or Gutti Vankaya Kura  or a quick microwave brinjal curry.

Carrot Chapathis

Carrot Chapathis 

Carrot Chapathis dubbed as ‘Power Packed Breakfast’ in my household is an amazing recipe which my LO loves.  My LO is a very finicky eater. There isn’t a lot of food items he approves and this is one of those few items he likes. 

This is a well balanced dish for breakfast:  whole wheat flour to provide the carbs, carrots and potatoes for the veggie content. Pair it with tomato nut chutney and we get the protein from nuts too. An easy way to make the kid eat nuts. Who wouldn’t like this? 

Carrot Chapathis

Carrot Chapathis


Wheat Flour – 1 cup

Carrot – 2 medium sized

Potatoes – 1 medium sized

Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp

Cumin powder -1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Water to knead


1. Boil carrots and potato with a pinch of salt

2. Mash the boiled vegetables. Mix wheat flour, water, salt, red chilli powder, cumin powder and mashed vegetables and knead into a soft dough

3. Heat tava. Pinch a dough ball and roll it flat to make small chapathis.

6. Once the tava is hot, place the chapathi on the tava. Turn the chapathi over after 1 minute

7. Turn it over again till it’s done 

8. Serve with tomato- nut chutney for breakfast