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I am back!

Its been three long years since i wrote on this page of mine. I was busy battling a few travails that life sent my way. But in the end i have emerged victorious. Thank you God! 

I am now a mother to a 2 yr old and needless to say she keeps me busy. So time in the kitchen means cooking the barest minimum required to satiate both hunger and the palate. 

Nevertheless I want to continue with this blog, so stay tuned for some yummy recipes, good photographs and of course meaningful stories.

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Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

Cherry Tomato Pasta Salad

This post has been pending for way too long…The last few months have been very busy for us and blogging has taken a back seat. It was more of a cook comething, eat something and rush kind of routine, with no memory of what was eaten. So, where is the space for a camera here? 🙂

But anyway, today I made it a point to publish this simple recipe. We had gone vegetable picking twice over the last two months. Of the bounty which was gathered, were Cherry tomatoes – Wickedly red, deliciously ripe and mildly sweet. I have not tried them in anything other than a salad, to be devoured raw.

Here is one more of my pasta recipes, which I make very often:
Uncooked Pasta ( Any small variety like elbows, penne) – 2 Cups
Cherry Tomatoes – 2 to 3 Cups – Halved
Onion – 1 Medium – Finely Chopped
Capsicum – 1 Big – Finely Chopped
Garlic Powder – 1 to 1.5 Tbsp
Black Pepper – As per taste
Salt – To season the pasta water and additionally – As per taste
For the Dressing:
Olive oil – 1/4 Cup
Lemon Juice – Juice from 1/2 a lime
Boil pasta as per the instructions on the package. Drain into a big bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the ingredients listed for the dressing and mix well. To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Pour over the pasta and mix well. Set aside for 15 mins and serve. It can be served hot or cold.
Plum or Romano tomatoes can be used instead of Cherry tomatoes. Reduce the quantity a bit and use about 1 and a half tomatoes.

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Spinach Lime Dal

Spinach Lime Dal

Hello friends,

I am back after a 6 month blogosphere hibernation. I was ill and could not come anywhere near blogs or cooking. It was sudden and hence I could not leave a message here. I hope you will continue visiting as usual…

On to the recipe now…

This is a simple Spinach dal which has been recreated on a lot many blogs till now. I have tweaked my mom’s recipe a bit and the result was very good. Instead of using tamarind to add the sour quotient, I used lime juice and I had no complaints.

Recipe:

Spinach – 1 Bunch

Toor Dal – 1/3 Cup

Onion – Half of a medium onion

Green Chilles – 7 to 8

Lime – 1

Asafoetida / Hing – 1/8 Tsp
For seasoning:

Mustard – 1/2 Tsp

Cumin / Jeera – 1/2 Tsp

Urad dal – 1/2 tsp

Turmeric – 1/8 Tsp

Garlic – 2 cloves crushed

Oil – 1 Tbsp

Wash toor dal and clean spinach. Dice the onion and slit the green chillies. In a pressure cooker, cook together the dal, spinach, onion, green chillies, asafoetida using about a cup of water. Once they are cooked, mash together to a coarse consistency using a wooden/steel ladle or a hand blender. Add salt as per taste. Next, juice the lime and add to the dal. Check for tartness and add according to your taste. Finally for seasoning, heat oil, add the turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin, urad dal and garlic. Wait till the mustard splutters and add to the dal.

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AFAM – Dates RoundUp

Dear Friends,

Here is the much delayed AFAM-Dates roundup. AFAM is a wonderful event started by Maheswari of Beyond the Usual and it focuses on a particular fruit every month. November was my turn and I chose Dates. Thank you Maheswari for giving me this opportunity.

I am sure I am the only host who has taken so long to post a roundup and I am terribly sorry for it. I wish to thank each one of you who had spared some thought,time and effort to participate in this event and I extend my sincere apologies for delaying the roundup and for being unresponsive. Over the past weeks, I met with some unexpected circumstances and could not meet any of my commitments on time.

Again, thank you so much. I am overwhelmed by these 47 lovely entries. They mean a lot to a first time event hostess. I am sure you would enjoy the diverse recipes as much as I did.

I have categorized the recipes into Baked Goodies, Savory Treats, Desserts and Breakfast and Snack Choices and Beverages. Kindly let me know if I have misplaced any entry or if you do not find it in the roundup.

AFAM – DATES ROUNDUP

Desserts
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Cashew Dates from Indira of Mahanandi

Dates Halwa from Ashwini of Food For Thought

Dates Obattu from Sia of Monsoon Spice

Date Halwa from Saju of Chachi’s Kitchen

Pumpkin Dates Walnut Halwa from Richa of As Dear As Salt

Dates Kheer from Ramya of Mane Adige

Dates Almond Payasam from Suma of Veggie Platter

Milk Date Peda from Red Chilli of Red Chillies

Dry Fruits Adai from Meenakshi of SuthiRecipe
Dates Milk Kheer from Meenakshi of SuthiRecipe

Stuffed Dates from Sagari of Indian Cooking

Dates Biscuit Pudding from Nags of For The Cook In Me

Qatayefs from Sra of When My Soup Came Alive

Date Tamarind Nut Treats from Bee & Jai of Jugalbandi

Date Candy from KayKat of Cooking From A To Z

Yogurt Date Parfait from Sandeepa of Bong Mom’s Cookbook

Baked Goodies
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Dates Biscuits from Dhivya of Culinary Bazaar

Date Cinnamon Sugarfree Cookies from Bindiya of In Love With Food

Dates Cookies from Anu of ChandraBhaga

Eggless Date Muffins from Seema of Recipe Junction

Rolled Dates Cookies from Dorit of Pretty Baking in Israel


Vegan Date Cake from Kumudha of Vegan Fare


Date Ricotta And Polenta Cake from Happy Cook of My Kitchen Treasures


Date Pecan Bundt Cake from Sunita of Sunita’s World


Dates And Persimmon Cake from Kalva of Curry In Kadai


Date And Walnut Date Cake from Deeba of Passionate About Baking


Eggless Date And Nut Cake from Shwetha of Fresh Flavors


Beverages

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Dates Apple Smoothie from Remya of Spices N Flavours


Dates Milkshake from Srivalli of Cooking 4 All Seasons


Dates Milkshake from Kribha of En Samayal Pakkam


Date Banana Milkshake from Chandrika of AkshayaPatra



Savory Treats

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Dates Raitha from Shankari of Stream Of Consciousness

Cranberry Date Chutney from Nupur of One Hot Stove

Toor Dal Chutney with Dates from Linda of Out Of The Garden

Coconut Date Chutney from Zlamushka of Zlamushka’s Spicy Kitchen

Date Fig Ravioli from Arundati of Escapades

Gretchen’s Moraccan Chicken from Gretchen of Canela & Comino

Date Cilantro Dressing from Valli of Valli’s Kitchen

Dates Pickle from Lissie of Salt and Spice


Breakfast & Snack Choices
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Oatmeal With Dates and Pistachios from Suganya of Tasty Palettes

Dates Parfait from Pooja of Masala Box

Date Walnut Tangerine Flavored Granola from Rajitha of Hunger Pangs

Date Bars from Raaga of Chef At Work

Dates Oats Bars from Asha of Aroma

Date Filled Bars from Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen

Date Bars from RP of My Workshop

Fig Date Bars from Mansi of Fun And Food

Date Cinnamon Porridge from Valli of Valli’s Kitchen

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Date Banana Milkshake

Date Banana Milkshake
I guess I am the only host who is so late for her own event. A very hectic work schedule left me with zero time for any other activity. I don’t have enough words to express my apologies. Thank you for bearing with me.
During college as a B.E grad in Comp.Sci, the grueling lab sessions under the hawk like supervision of Dr.T.Chockalingam, our revered HOD left us with binary 1s and 0s even in our dreams. I am not kidding…Those were the days of Pascal, C and C++ and of course their visual counterparts. That meant lots of memory dumps, pointer errors and memory segmentation..And when you are programming in a Linux environment with a Vi editor, all that you get is a black screen with white letters. And when your program whines about the above said problems, the black screen spews out a slew of binary curses! Now, tell me won’t that give you nightmares when you have a deadline breathing down your neck and 25 marks of your exam paper hanging on for dear life… Well, I was in a similar situation with my work for the past few weeks…

I am sure all you techies out there will know what I am talking about..To the rest of you, my friends, I sincerely apologize for a boring paragraph! On to the subject now…

Dates..Good Old dates…Sweet, sometimes sticky and loaded with nutrients. In my grandma’s village, once a week, a scrap vendor used to come and you get dates in exchange for any scrap piece of metal…That’s cool, isn’t it?

Apart from muching on dates now and then, I normally tend to make a milk shake using dates and banana. It’s an instant energy booster.

Recipe:

Ripe Banana – 1

Dates – 8 or 9

Milk – 1 Cup

Vanilla Icecream – 2 scoops

Warm the dates for 10 secs or so in the microwave or soak them in a little hot water for 10 mins. This helps to soften the dates. Blend the dates first till smooth and then add the rest of the ingredients and blend again.

Increase the quantity of dates for a sweeter shake. You can omit the ice cream and make the milkshake with milk alone.

Dear friends, I will post the AFAM-Dates roundup in a day or two.
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Toor Upma

Toor Upma
OK..without any further ado, let me get to the recipe quickly..I am already late for JFI-Toor Dal event hosted by Linda of Out Of the Garden and started by our beloved Indira..

My heart sank when Linda said no more entries after Dec 7th midnight, but the next line in her post provided a breath of air saying that it was better to be late than never..Thank you Linda..Hope you will accept my very late entry and am so sorry for pushing it on you at the last moment…

To my family, Toor Dal is as essential as rice. Be it pappu pulusu, pappu chaaru, paruppu rasam, tomato dal, mango dal..The list is endless.. So, for JFI, I wanted to try out something different. And it is as follows:

Adapted from Mallika Bhadrinath’s Tiffin recipes:

Toor Upma:

Toor Dal – 1/3 Cup
Raw Rice – 1/2 Cup

Green Chillies – 5
Grated Coconut (Fresh or Dry) – 1 Tbsp
Turmeric – A pinch
Asofoetida /Hing – A pinch
Water – 2.5 cups
Chopped Coriander – 4 Tbsps

For Seasoning:
Mustard Seeds- 1/4 Tsp
Urad Dal – 1/2 Tsp
Channa Dal – 1 Tsp
Curry Leaves – 6 to 7
Dry Red Chillies – 2 – Broken

Roast the dal and rice seperately till the dal is very light brown and the rice becomes opaque without turning brown.

Grind together the rice and the dal using a spice grinder/coffee grinder or a blender to a fine rawa consistency.

Using a pressure pan/cooker to make the upma is a fast way. But you can use a normal saucepan too.

Heat oil in a saucepan/ pressure cooker and when it is hot, add the items listed under seasoning. Next add the green chillies and hing and fry for a couple of secs. Next add water, coconut, turmeric and salt. When the water comes to a boil, reduce heat and stir in the rice and dal rawa. Keep stirring to avoid lumps. If using a pressure cooker, cover and let it cook for 2 whistles. If using a saucepan, cover and cook on a low flame till the water is absorbed and the dal is cooked through.

Stir in chopped coriander and remove from heat.

Serve hot with peanut or coconut chutney.

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Update on AFAM-Dates

Dear Friends,

Thank you all very much for your entries to AFAM-Dates. I will be posting the roundup around Dec 10th. Till then, do keep sending in your entries.

I owe you all an apology. Due to a very hectic work schedule, I have not been able to reply to any of your mails or visit any of your blogs. I have got all of your emails and I really appreciate it.

I will get back to all of you in a couple of days.

Looks like I am going to be late for my own event, as usual! 🙂

Please keep sending in your entries and help make this event a success! 🙂

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Wheat Halwa – Godhumai Halwa – Godhuma Halwa

Wheat Halwa

I am not a fan of Diwali, thanks to the fire crackers. To be honest, I don’t remember enjoying fire crackers even as a kid. My mom, dad and sister fall into the same category too. Before you think we are some sort of outcasts in the world of festivals, let me clarify that we love the spirit of Diwali and celebrate it with light, like all others. Except that we light lamps, rather than the noisy and dangerous fire crackers.

As a kid, walking down the streets of Vellore to my school a couple of furlongs away, was a nightmare during Diwali. Kids and grownups alike start bursting crackers in the narrow streets thronging with people, blissfully aware and conscious of the dangers the passerbys face. This menace starts a week before Diwali and continues for a week after and has been the same for the past 20 years. One of my school friends got hurt by a ‘Lakshmi bomb’ during one of those walks. Even now, I pray for my mom and dad’s safety during the Diwali season even though travelling in a four wheeler provides shelter to some extent.

I know you might think that I am being paranoid, but imagine the consequences when these potent bombs are placed in the hands of innocent kids, who are not supervised by elders. Even the colorful rockets and the seemingly harmless sparklers are deadly. We have heard enough horror stories of burns and blisters and in some cases even worse.

I am not against fire crackers, but I believe that their use must be regulated. Fire crackers are beautiful, amusing inventions when they are set off in an open space, away from public harm.

Ok, let me stop my sermon. No one can deny that Diwali is fun. Our day starts early with a hot oil bath using shikakai, followed by crisp new clothes. Next comes the pooja session and the scrumptious food. The evening sees the flickers of small clay lamps, dancing to the light breeze. Ah, how so peaceful… That is if we stuff our ears with cotton. 🙂

To my DH, Diwali means ‘ Godhuma Halwa’ made by his grandma. I never got the recipe from her, but I made it my way and it turned out exactly the way she makes it. That was my DH’s verdict, though. 🙂

Wheat halwa is traditionally made by soaking wheat grains for 24 hours and grinding them to extract the wheat milk. The reason behind it is to use only the starch and not the gluten.

I found a shortcut using wheat flour instead of the whole grains. Read on to find out….

Wheat Halwa:

Recipe:

Wheat Flour / Atta / Godhumai Maavu – 1 Cup

Sugar (Domino Brand) – 3/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp

Ghee – 16 Tbsps

Water – 1/4 Cup

Lemon Juice – 2 Tbsps

Cardamom Seeds from 4 pods – Finely ground

A fistful of broken cashewnuts or pistachios

Using a little water, make a firm dough with the wheat flour. Place the dough in a deep vessel and add water so that the dough is just immersed. Keep it aside for 30 mins.

After 30 mins, start kneading the dough, taking care to keep it immersed in water. White, milky, starchy extract will start to ooze out from the dough and the insoluble gluten can be felt as thin strands. Discard the gluten. Knead the dough till all the gluten has been removed and filter the milky extract. Any left out gluten will settle in the filter.

To the milky extract, add about 1.5 cups of water and keep aside for 20 mins. Next, discard the top most 1/2 cup of the clear liquid, without disturbing the settled milk.

Take a thick bottomed sauce pan and add the sugar. To it, add 1/4 cup of the remaining clear liquid and heat on a low flame till a one string consistency syrup is formed. Switch off the heat at this point for a couple of minutes and slowly pour the milky extract into the syrup along with the lemon juice, stirring all the while.

Switch on the heat again on a mid flame and keep stirring till the mixture thickens. Start adding the ghee two tablespoons at a time, whenever the mixture sticks to the pan. Halwa is done when the ghee seperates out and the mixture comes together as a semi solid mass. Add the cardamom powder and the broken cashewnuts to the halwa and stir till well blended.

Serve as such or mold to the desired shape.

When using sugar, check the sweetness. I have found that different brands of sugar have different sweetness levels. Holly brand of sugar found in Costco is sweeter than the Domino brand.

This yummy halwa goes to JFI – Jihva Special Editon : The Festive Series hosted by gracious Vee of Past, Present and Me. and to Monthly Mingle – Traditional Feasts hosted by lovely Meeta of What’s For Lunch Honey?.

Thank you for accepting my late entry, Vee.