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Monday, May 2, 2016

PANAKAM ~ A Traditional Healthy Drink

Panakam is a traditional drink prepared in Indian households, particularly South India. One of the ancient recipes prepared by our ancestors to consume during summer and also distributed in temples on special occasions in summer. Panakam is a delicious combination of jaggery, tamarind juice, dry ginger powder and cardamom. The ingredients used tell us a lot about the wise choice and knowledge our ancestors possessed about what they consumed according to the season. Each of the ingredients used has its own health benefit and most importantly it balances the three doshas of our body.

I would call it an instant refreshing thirst quencher and definitely a healthy option when compared to Colas and other aerated drinks. It is prepared during Rama Navami festival (Birth of Lord Rama) as Neivedhyam (offering to God) in large quantities and distributed to all.

Refreshing, delicious. body coolant, thirst quencher, healthy, simple ingredients, no cook drink - Do we need another reason to prepare it? Here comes my twist to this wonderful drink, without spoiling its original taste at the same time not compromising on the healthy ingredients.

I had a good stock of lemons at home (a usual for summer) and wanted to put it to good use. Lemonade is nice but  I hate monotony! At the same time, I din't want to use it in cooking, I was looking for a drink. Ah! why not replace tamarind juice and prepare panakam was the instant thought. All excited to experiment, I started juicing the lemons but ho, I ran out of jaggery! Not wanting to use sugar, I used palm sugar syrup, which I prepare and store to use when required for sweet dishes. Also, it will give the colour which tamarind juice gives if I had used that. Enough said, let me give you the recipe now.


Lemon - 3
Palm sugar syrup - 1/2 cup (adjust according to tatse)
Water - 31/2 cups (adjust according to taste)
Dry ginger powder - a pinch
Cardamom - 3-4  


Cut the lemon and remove the seeds, squeeze the lemon by hand or using a sqeezer. Pour the lemon juice in a wide vessel or bowl and mix the palm sugar syrup using a spoon. Add water and give it a good mix. Please adjust the syrup and water according to your taste. Add the dry ginger powder. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the cardamom and add it to the juice. Mix well and serve. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


A recipe from my kitchen for that yummy prawn curry. Tastes good with rice, aapam, roti and dosa. You can even sandwich it between 2 bread slices and toast it on tava for a delicious prawn curry sandwich.

I have used only 2 whole spices in this prawn dish unlike other non vegetarian dishes. What makes this prawn curry different is that, it does not have ginger garlic paste and garam masala, which is a usual in most non vegetarian recipes. The spicy taste comes mainly from the chili for this dish. Please adjust the spice level as per your taste. If you prefer something mild spicy, please reduce the quantity of chili powder by half. Some of you might like it very spicy, in that case, you can add another slit green chili to the dish.

The ingredients below makes it a medium spicy gravy, nevertheless you can follow the above suggestions to suit your palate. I have marinated the prawns before cooking it in the gravy, this is done to infuse flavour into the prawn. It is sufficient if you marinate the prawns for a few mins. Overnight marination is not required. Easy to cook and tastes great as an accompaniment. Serve hot on a bed of hot steaming rice.




Prawns - 750 gms
Onion - 2 finely chopped
Tomatoes - 2 finely chopped
Garlic - 5-6 cloves finely chopped
Green chili - 1 slit
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - 1/2 inch piece
Chili powder - 1 tbsp  (Kashmiri chili powder) OR 
                        2 tsp if you're using ordinary chili powder
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Salt as per taste
Water - 1 cup
Coriander leaves chopped for garnish


Chili powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Juice of half lemon


Clean and devein prawns. Add all the ingredients for marination and marinate for 10-15 mins. In a pan, heat oil, add fennel and cinnamon. Once fragrant, add the garlic and onion, saute till they turn light golden. Add the chopped tomatoes, green chili, masala powders and cook till it gets mushy. Now add the marinated prawns, 1 cup water and cook for 15-20 mins or till done. Check for salt and spice level. Add more water if you want a gravy. Once done, garnish with fresh coriander leaves. 

Isn't this easy? Do try it and send in your feedback. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016


Curd rice completes a meal, at least for South Indians. This humble dish is a comfort food that we all love with or without any accompaniment. Thayir Sadam, as we call in Tamil is a delicacy and loved by all . We usually make curd rice with rice and sometimes with vermicille (bagala bath) and present it in different ways ~ we temper it with cumin and mustard, add fruits, veggies or consume as it is. 

Here, I've used millets to prepare the curd rice. Millets have a lot of health benefits and it's suitable for all age groups. I've already shared a millet recipe - one pot sambhar rice. Here's another simple and tasty one from my kitchen. At home, mom prepares curd rice by mashing the rice well and adds more milk than curd so it's never sour even if we have it late. It also gives it a rich and creamy taste. I've incorporated the same method here just that I've added milk while cooking the rice itself instead of adding it to cooked rice. 

This is made with Barnyard millet but you're free to choose the millet variety of your choice. If you're using rice instead of millet then cook it in a pressure cooker with water in 3:1 ratio i.e 3 cups water for 1 cup rice because we're looking for a mushy consistency. Once the rice is cooked, mash it further adding milk and temper!  


Barnyard millet - 1/2 cup
Milk - 1/2 cup
Thick curd/yoghurt - 1/4 cup
Water (to cook millet) - 1 + 1/4 cup
Salt to taste

For Temering
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dhal - 1 tsp
Dry Red chili - 2 
Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp 
Curry leaves - 6
Coriander - chopped finely for garnish


Wash the millet in water for about 5-6 times. This recipe uses Barnyard Millet, feel free to use any variety of your choice. Add the millet, water and required salt in a vessel or boiling pot and keep it on high until it boils. After the first roaring boil, slow down the heat, add the milk and keep mashing until all the liquid is absorbed by the millet. This will take about 7 minutes. Switch off the heat, mash the millet further with a wooden ladle. Check for salt and add the yoghurt. Give it a good mix. 

In a small pan, heat oil, add mustard, cumin, urad dhal, dry chili and once the mustard splutters and the urad dhal has become light brown add the asafoetida and curry leaves. A quick stir and add to the curd rice. Transfer it to the serving bowl and garnish with chopped coriander. 

You can add grated carrots, pomegranate or chopped ginger if you prefer. It enhances the taste. 

Monday, March 28, 2016


There're days we like to start our day with a light and healthy breakfast. A smoothie or a health shake is what strikes us first. Smoothies are filling, healthy, light and easy to prepare on a busy day. Though they're easy and fuss free to prepare, it gets boring to have the same everyday. Why not try and play with spices is what struck my mind.

Cinnamon is one of the few spices that's used in cooking, baking, to spice tea and flavour cakes. It pairs beautifully with fruits and love the aroma of fresh cinnamon in cakes. This urged me to try using it for a smoothie too. I had planned on a banana smoothie for breakfast to make it easy as it was a busy day ahead. To make it interesting, added this wonderful spice and oh it was heaven!

The creamy banana with cinnamon makes it rich in taste. Make sure you use fresh cinnamon powder, though you can use store bought ones, the fresh one has its place. For sweetness, it has honey, as you all know I don't like to use white sugar and avoid it as much as I can. You're free to use sugar or any sweetener as per your taste. I've used milk to blend them, vegans can choose a nut milk instead. 


To make a tall glass of smoothie

Banana - 2 (I've used hill banana)
Milk - 1 cup
Water - 1/4 cup
Honey - 2 tbsp
Cinnamon powder - 1/4 tsp


Chop the bananas into small pieces, add it to a blender along with milk, honey, water and cinnamon. Blend all the ingredients together in a blender till you get a creamy frothy texture. Serve it immediately or cold. Here you go, your breakfast smoothie is ready!
You can use all milk and no water for a nice thick smoothie. In that case, add 1+1/4 cups of milk. Vegans can substitute nut milk in the above recipe. The milk quantity remains same for nut milk but please add water if you're using a nut milk.

If you're serving this for kids, replace milk with vanilla ice cream and they'll love it! If you're using a mixer jar to blend, first blend the banana, milk and honey nicely. Then add the water and cinnamon. Also, try it with other fruit combinations and drop in your feedback. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016


The one thing that we all crave or wish to have when we have a cold is some good hot soup! At the same time who feels like preparing one with all the blending, grinding and boiling procedure when we're sick.. this recipe comes in handy and my go to recipe for such times! 

It's one pot, no grinding required, mild and soothing! You can prepare this soup with veggies of your choice. 


Serves 4

Carrot  - 2
Beans - 10
Frozen peas - 1/4 cup
Onion - 1
Tomato - 2
Garlic - 3-4 cloves
Cumin - 1/4 tsp
Clove - 2
Freshly ground pepper - 2 tsp or more as per taste
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Water - 4 cups
Oil - 1 tsp


Chop the beans into 2 inch pieces and the carrots into thick pieces. Slice the onions and cut each tomato into 4 pieces. In a pressure cooker, add oil and saute the onion and the veggies. After a minute or two add the tomatoes with salt, turmeric and pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes and add required water. Check for salt and add more salt and pepper if you require. Close the lid, after 3 whistles switch off  the heat and let the pressure release. In a small kadai, temper cumin and clove. Open the lid and add the tempering to the soup. Mix and serve hot. 

Isn't this simple? 

Saturday, March 5, 2016


Potato is one versatile vegetable and loved by all. From soup to desserts it can be used in all! So here's another recipe with the versatile potato. Potato fingers is a good old recipe and I've already posted one of my Potato Fingers recipe but this one is a little spicy and different from that. Try it out, it's very simple to prepare. A very good evening snack recipe that can be had with rice preparations too.


Potatoes - 3 medium size
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Corn flour - 2 tsp


Wash, peel and cut the potatoes into long strips. In a bowl add chilli powder, salt and corn flour. Mix well. Heat oil and fry immediately. Serve hot. Add corn flour if you're going to fry it immediately otherwise add when you're going to fry them. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Egg Roast is a typical Kerala dish and quite popular too. It's usually a thick gravy with hard boiled eggs served with Appam or Idiyappam. Unlike the typical Kerala egg roast, this egg roast recipe of mine is a dry dish prepared using spices specific to chettinadu ( a place in Southern part of India). Chettinad is known for it's spicy and aromatic cooking. This recipe though not an authentic one, tries to bring the chettinad flavours. It's pretty simple to prepare and goes well with any rice preparation or simply enjoy it as a starter.


Hard Boiled eggs - 3
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Chili powder - 1 tsp
Black pepper powder - 1 tsp
Roasted cumin/jeera powder - 1/2 tsp
Roasted Saunf/Sombu/Fennel seed powder - 1.5 tsp
Coriander seed/ dhania powder - 1/2 tbsp
Coriander leaves chopped for garnish


Slice the hard-boiled eggs into 2 halves. Mix all the spice powders, ginger garlic paste along with little salt, to a thick paste consistency adding little water. Spread the thick paste on the yellow part of the eggs and let it sit for 10 mins. Heat a non stick pan, add a tsp of oil and roast the eggs (masala side down) in low flame, now flip it (masala side up)and roast. Keep flipping and roasting both sides until its done. Serve it garnished with chopped coriander leaves. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016


This dish pairs wonderfully well with fried rice and noodles. Since it's not very spicy you can have it like a starter or an evening snack too. Use homemade paneer for best results or buy the best quality available, that makes all the difference. Vegans can follow the same instructions and use tofu instead of paneer.


Paneer/ Tofu - 250 gms
Onion - 1 (cut into square pieces)
Capsicum - 1 (cut into square pieces)
Spring Onion - 4 stalks (slice the white onion and finely chop the greens)
Ginger - 1 inch piece (finely chopped)
Garlic - 3 pods (finely minced)
Tomato sauce - 2 tbsp
Dark soy sauce - 1 tbsp
Green chili sauce 1/2 tbsp
Gingely oil - 2 tbsp

To coat paneer/tofu
Tomato sauce - 2 tbsp
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp
Green chili sauce - 1 tbsp
Maida - 1 tbsp
Corn flour - 2 tbsp
Chili powder - 1/2 tsp


Cut the paneer into 1 inch cubes and keep aside. In a bowl, mix together 2 tbsp of tomato sauce, 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of green chili sauce. Coat the paneer cubes with this paste. Next, in another bowl mix 1 tbsp maida and 2 tbsp cornflour along with 1/2 tsp chili powder and little salt. Take the coated paneer cubes and gently toss them in this mix. Once done, take a pan, add 1 tbsp of oil and shallow fry the paneer till lightly crisp. 

 In the same pan, add oil (sesame oil/gingely oil gives a very good flavour) and saute the ginger and garlic, once they're brown add the onion, sliced spring onion whites and capsicum pieces. Fry till they're crisp and cooked. Now add the sauces, check for salt. Give it a good stir and finally add the paneer pieces and the greens. Toss and remove from flame. 

If you want a gravy, before adding the paneer, make a mix of cornflour and water. 1 tbsp of cornflour in 1 cup water, add this, let it boil and then add the paneer. 


Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A, which aid vision. It is high in antioxidant and a good source of Vitamin C. Pumpkin poriyal is what all of us usually make at home. I came across a recipe which added channa or chick pea to it and I found that interesting. I don't remember the other ingredients of that recipe so did a basic poriyal with onion, pumpkin and finally added boiled chick pea. It was different and good.


Yellow Pumpkin - 250 gms
Onion - 1 sliced
Brown channa/ chick pea - 1/2 cup boiled 
Cumin pwd - 1tsp
Turmeric pwd - a pinch
Dry Red chili - 1
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Jeera/cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Sesame oil - 2 tbsp  (can use any oil) 


Wash, peel and cut the pumpkin into cubes. In a pan, heat 2 tbsp of Gingely/sesame oil and temper the mustard, cumin seeds and red chili. Add the onions and saute till light brown. Then add the pumpkin along with turmeric and cumin powders. Cook on high flame for a minute and then close the lid and cook on low heat till the pumpkin gets tender. I dint add water. Once it's done, add the boiled chick peas and saute for 2 mins till it gets coated with all the masala. Serve hot. 


I love salads and these pasta salads are my favourite for it's simplicity and taste. These salads are kept on all the buffets these days! As usual, I wanted to re-create that at home just by tasting and without finding out what actually goes in. I usually do such experiments at home, sometimes, it's a hit and at times it's a miss. Don't worry! I share only the hit ones here.

Here's my recipe for the pasta salad, try it out and I'm sure you'll love it. It's a cold salad, so chill it before you serve. Also, do add your favourite seasoning or veggies to it if you prefer.


Pasta - 100 gms (I've used Penne)
Fresh cream - 1 tbsp
Eggless Mayonnaise - 1 tbsp
Cherry Tomatoes - 5
Fresh Basil - 3 leaves
Celery - 1 tbsp finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper - a pinch 


Boil pasta with enough water and salt. Add a drop of oil to prevent from sticking together. Make sure you don't over cook them. Once done, run under cool water. Add all the ingredients except cherry tomato and give a good mix. Finally add the cherry tomatoes and give a light mix. Chill and serve!

If you don't have cherry tomatoes, then use 1/4 tsp tomato sauce to give a tangy and sweet taste. Use not more than 1/4 tsp otherwise it'll alter the whole taste.