Navratri Special -Suji Halwa

Finally parents have arrived. Family is all together after a long long time. Since morning house has been bustling with activity. Aroma of delicious breakfast my mommy was cooking almost filled my hungry stomach. I sat in a corner taking in the activities, beaming with pleasure. I was in back seat and mom was in control. I cant tell how relaxed I felt. Mothers have some magic with them or being a mother is the magic enough to make the simple food tastier. I really wonder !!

Semolina pudding or suji halwa is one of the easiest sweet delicacy cooked in every home all across the country. The warm goodness is known to engulf all the morning worries and the sweetness stays through out the day. On Ashtami or Naumi, on the closure of Navratri, in almost every home suji halwa is made to break the fast and celebrate the glory of Goddess Durga. My mom too made it along with hot puris and black chickpea (masala chana)., the traditional Navratri feast.


1 cup semolina (suji)
1 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp ghee
chopped nuts & raisins


* In a wok dry roast semolina for few minutes on medium heat.
* When slightly brown in color, add ghee. Mix well
* Meanwhile, in another pan boil water. Add sugar.
* Keep on stirring till the sugar dissolves.
* Add the sugar syrup, along with milk in the wok, stirring continuously to avoid any lump formation.
* Let it cook for few minutes, till the water is absorbed by the semolina.
* Serve hot garnished with raisins and nuts.

Festival Special Sweets - Mung Dal Burfi

Diwali one of the most awaited festival of the year, is just round the corner and I am feeling nostalgic. I fondly remember my Mom making various sweets beforehand and store them, while I and my brother peeping inside the kitchen, waiting for Mom to leave so that we can have a handful of them. If caught then always blaming each other. Then laughing and running to escape the scoldings. Such were the festival holidays full of fun and frolic. Now when I am the owner of my own home and my whole family is coming over to celebrate the festival, I am finding myself full of ideas from decorating the house to making sweets. I want to make all what they will love. Specially my mom. It will be great to see her beaming face, when her daughter has made something which is just perfect to appease her.

I started with something very easy and quick yet a lovely sweet. My dad and my mom both love mung dal ki burfi. You can store them for quite a few days. But I don't think that case will happen. Mung dal burfi is so good that it gets finished in moments. Serve them to guests and see their beaming faces.


250g Mung Dal (split yellow grams)
250g sugar
3-4 cup water
100g khoa/mawa
2-3 tbsp ghee/oil
2-3 tbsp pistachio, almonds & cashew nuts sliced


* Soak the grams in enough water, few hours(2-3) before you require.
* Using a strainer remove water.
* Grind the grams in food processor, to make a paste.
* Heat oil or ghee in a non stick pan and add the grams paste in it.
* Keep on stirring till the paste turns light brown in color.
* Add khoa/mava. Mix well, cook for few more minutes and set aside.
* Meanwhile, in another pan heat 2-3 cups of water and add sugar to it, to make sugar syrup. Boil water till it achieves one sring consistency.
* Add this sugar syrup to the gram paste. Mix properly and further cook for few minutes.
* Grease a tray with little butter or oil and add pour the gram paste in it.
* Sprinkle the sliced pistachios, cashews and almonds on top.
* Let it remain as such for few hours to set. Once set, cut into any shape of your choice.

Tom Yum Gai - A Delightful Thai Chicken Soup

My foodie friends, I am back after a short break from blogging. At first weekend party hit me. I fell ill. I had to take a day off from work. Then at work lots of things got piled up (Its something with the Bosses, whenever employees take an off, things start going haywire.) I was dying to get back to cooking and blogging again. Although I made quite a few things in the last few days but couldn't get them posted. From curries to fritters, I made everything and ended up having simmering soups with light recipes.

Festival time is just round the corner. On the weekend, I bought lots of spices, herbs, condiments and other ingredients, making sure my kitchen is fully decked up for all the festival culinary delights. Festivals, holidays and guest all together invoke all the creativity inside me. Experimenting with the taste buds of guest can be tricky. So my poor hubby was the ultimate sufferer of my culinary experiments. But to my delight in my first shot I got my first recipe just right, with loads of praises from him.

Tom Yum Gai or Chicken in lemon grass soup is a popular soup of Thai cuisine, characterized by its distinct hot and sour flavors, with heavenly aroma of herbs. The basic broth is made of vegetable or chicken stock with fresh ingredients such as lemon grass, lime leaves, galangal, shallots, lime juice, fish sauce, tamarind, slices of ginger and crushed chili peppers. Because of its health benefits, tom yum soup acts as a natural remedy for cold and flu. It has been in my TO DO list from a lon long time, since I had tasted in my sister's home. I made it her way. The only difference was that she used prawns (Tom Yum Goong) and I used chicken making it Tom Yum Gai. The soup is quick if you can get all the ingredients ready made like tom yum paste. The basic paste can be stored for future use.


For Paste (basic Thai flavoring)

1 tbsp whole black pepper (roasted)
3-4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp salt
1 cup cilantro leaves (chopped)

For Soup

6-7 chicken drumsticks
1 tbsp garlic paste
6-7 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup shallots chopped
2 stems lemon grass;
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
2 red chillies
1 tbsp pepper and cilantro paste
2 galangal/ginger sliced
2 small round tomatoes sliced
3-4 baby corns
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
fresh cilantro for garnish
salt to taste


* Make a paste combining whole black pepper, garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt and cilantro leaves, in a blender.
* Marinate the chicken pieces with 1-2 tbsp of this paste and leave for 15-20 minutes.
* In a large pot, add chicken stock, lime leaves, ginger, chopped garlic, lemon grass, tomatoes, baby corn, salt to taste and chicken. Cook for 30 minutes or till the chicken pieces are tender.
* Add fish sauce, soy sauce and lemon juice. Mix well.
* Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and sliced fresh green chillies.
* Serve hot

Note: This soup is hot and spicy, perfect for cold weather and people suffering from cold. If you like it less or more spicy then adjust the flavor according to your taste.

Food Ingredients Dictionary - Bulgur

In the continuation of food dictionary, next is Bulgar Wheat or broken wheat from the Tabbouleh Salad. Bulgur wheat is a natural whole grain cereal, made by coarsely milling grains of wheat (usually durum wheat). Do not get confused with cracked wheat. Bulgur is parboiled while cracked wheat is just crushed wheat grains.

Bulgur is a common ingredient of Turkish, Middle Eastern, Indian (daliya) and Mediterranean dishes for making pilafs, soups, bakery goods or for stuffing. Available in three grinds -- coarse foe making pilafs or stuffing, medium for cereals and fine for salads. When cooked, broken wheat has a very hearty, warm aroma and a grainy, delightful taste.

Minimal processing makes bulgur, highly nutritious. A cup of bulgur has fewer calories, more fiber and less fat than twice the fiber of brown rice. Replace white or brown rice with bulgur to maximize weight loss, as you would consume less calories but would still feel full. Bulgur is high in minerals and prevents constipation, reduces the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart diseases.

Taboule Salad - Cheers To Our Health !!

Is food just a fuel for our living or much more than that? I think much more for most of us. Food is the answer to everything, solution to all our problems. We use food when we want to socialize, as gifts when we are in love, as rewards when we want to cajole our kids or even for comfort and pleasure. If we eat more, food will be as fat in our body. If we eat less, our body will not get proper nutrition. But the problem is we don't eat less, we eat more, even more than what we need to survive. Anyways even if you eat more or less, at least try to eat healthy.

Ah! a lot of food thoughts. Actually lately I have been reading a lot on health and trying to flatten my tummy, eating healthy and practicing yoga. Just a week and I have recognized my eating patterns which are a cause of all that fat. Friend's party, good food, I ate lots of desserts. Farewell party at office, I ate lots of oily snacks. Occasional binges which led to more of chips. And when I read all this after a week, I was shocked to know that its me who has eaten all those stuff. You too can do this. Just take a notebook and note down all what you eat, when you eat and why you eat. Then after a week go through it and you will recognize your eating patterns. When we are eating our mind is so engrossed with the beauty of food or its flavor that we fail to judge the quantity. But if we have a plan in hand well before, set and implemented then, at least we will face a resistance from our own inner self. Who else can stop us from eating after all :)

In my quest for a healthy regime, here is a Mediterranean salad recipe which is extremely simple, low in calories and full of nutrition. I first had it in a Mediterranean restaurant. At that time I was really skeptical in selecting the salad for dinner. But trusting the waiter I ordered it. The first bite and I was glad I ordered it. That was my first step in discovering the Mediterranean food. Since then the restaurant became on of my favorite and I started enjoying other Mediterranean dishes too.

You can experiment with this salad to make variations in terms of ingredients. Only bulgur wheat would be an essential ingredient. With more herbs or sprouts, you can make it tastier and healthier as desired. This Mediterranean salad which is eaten cold, would make an excellent side dish and just right for the September Theme of No Croutons Required. Cheers to our health!! And here goes the recipe-


1/2 cup Bulgar wheat
2 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bunch mint fresh
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 scallions both white and green parts chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup chickpea sprouts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
salt to taste


* Warm water in a pan and soak the bulgur wheat for 15-20 minutes.
* Then strain the excess water by squeezing the bulgur wheat.
* Add salt to taste and leave it for few minutes until the bulgur is soft.
* In a large bowl add softened bulgur, parsley, scallions and tomatoes.
* Sprinkle a little salt, black pepper and lemon juice. Mix well.
* Toss the mixture with olive oil.
* Serve it cold after an hour garnished with fresh cilantro leaves.

Sultani Dal From The Nawabs

Heirloom Recipes i.e old vintage recipes that have endured the test of time is the theme for this Monthly Mingle hosted by Jugalbandi. The theme made me go to the place where I belong, where I have grown and where I have developed the special love for food. Lucknow, the city of Nawab is still rich with the reminiscence of its royal heritage and luxurious life of the Nawabs, who were great connoisseurs of fine food. Their regular experimentation in the royal kitchens gave the Avadhi cuisine a new height of fineness and dimension. Greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques, each dish of Awadhi cuisine is an example of richness in both flavor and aroma. The Awadhi style of cooking includes cooking food slowly and steadily so that all ingredients are well soaked and cooked into each other. Kebabs, kormas, biryani, kaliya, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis and warqi paranthas, are the main attractions of Awadhi food.

The Sultani Dal is another such attraction, discovered by a very famous rakabdar of Lucknow, Pir Ali and passed on from generations to generations. The tantalizing aroma coming from the dal is magical and has the prowess to activate your hunger pangs instantly. It is a rich variation of Arhar Dal (Pigeon Beans). When I had tasted it for the first time in a friend's party, I was amazed by the flavor. The cook who made it had learned from his father and his father from his father. A recipe passed on from generations to generations. Arhar Dal is cooked in North Indian homes almost daily. But the rich aromatic Sultani Dal has elevated the simple dal to a dal for kings. You can make Sultani Dal on special occasions in your house and your loved ones are sure to feel like Kings.


1 cup pigeon beans (Arhar Dal)
4 garlic cloves chopped
2 green chillies sliced
1 large onion chopped
1 onion chopped
1 betel leaf
2-3 cardamom pods
6 cloves
few sprigs of mint and cilantro leaves (chopped)
1 teaspoon cumin Seeds
1 teaspoon. saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp milk
¼ tbsp. red chilly powder
¼ tbsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup cream
1 cup milk
2-3 tbsp butter or oil
1 piece of live coal


* Cook the lentils in 2-3 cups of water in a large pan or handi.
* Meanwhile mix milk, cream and yogurt and keep in a cool place.
* Grind the cloves and cardamoms to a paste.
* When dal is cooked, water is evaporated otherwise strain away the water. Mash the dal.
* Place a betel leaf on the dal, over it cardamoms and cloves paste followed by a small piece of burning coal. Pour 1 tbsp of butter and cover with a lid for 10 minutes.
* Then remove the betel leaf and coal.
* Add salt to taste, red chilly powder, turmeric powder, milk yogurt mixture and saffron dissolved in a spoon of milk. Mix well and cook on low heat.
* In another frying pan add butter, cumin seeds and chopped onions
* When onions are golden brown add garlic, and tomatoes.
* Pour this over the dal.
* Serve hot garnished with the chopped green chillies and mint leaves.

Note: If you are a non-vegetarian, you can add mutton stock instead of milk

Aromatic Garlic Vegetable Soup

Adding a number of aromatic ingredients, vegetables and some other nick knacks, you could make a variety of soups matching your mood and weather. Any type of soup would make you feel your life has sprung up again and the aroma would make your thoughts wander to faraway lands. Such is the energy in soups. In summers, usually I don't make soups. But with the rains making a welcomed appearance since morning, the day was just perfect for the lovely dinner to start with large bowls of soups. And that is the reason why I decided on hot vegetable soup. The warmth from the hot liquid brought about a comfort like no other to my guests, just the way I wanted. Slurping the warm liquid in the misty evenings with joyful conversations really make great dinners.

The garlic vegetable soup is full of health with the assortment of vegetables in it. You can chose to add any of the vegetables according to the season or availability. The soup I made was thin and watery. If you want you can blend the vegetables in a blender to thicken the consistency. So bring out the pot, make a soup and let the aroma and warmth recharge your spirits.


1 cup assorted vegetables (carrots, French beans, broccoli, baby corn), chopped
4 garlic cloves(chopped)
¼ cup finely chopped onions
2 tbsp quick cooking rolled oats
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp cream
3 cup water
salt and pepper to taste


* In a pan heat oil. Add garlic and onion.
* Saute till the onions are golden brown.
* Add all the vegetables, mix and close the lid. Cook for few minutes.
* Add 3 cups of water followed by salt and pepper, stirring continuously.
* Cook till the vegetables are tender and water comes to a boil.
* Lower the heat, add oats and let it simmer for few more minutes.
* Mix the cream and serve hot in large soup bowls.
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