Sunday, November 27, 2011

Colourful Plates

I always make it a point to spend some time browsing or window shopping some of the stalls in exhibitions or sales. Many a time I could pick up some unique pieces of crockery or other such items. A recent addition to my kitchen are colourful ceramic plates for serving:

This is like Chinese Cabbage. I loved this. This is from China.

I loved the above two plates with their shaded colours. They will definitely add colour to any setting. What do you say?

Keep watching for some yummy recipes.....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jujube Crispies

In my last post, I told you that this is the season (winter) for the Jujube fruits also known as Indian Dates. They are rich in Vitamin C and many other minerals. Because they are sour in taste, they also reduce nausea.

These are preserved in the form of crispies and pickles, so that we can enjoy them off season too. Here is the recipe for crispies. These are known as Regi Vadiyaalu in Telugu or Ber ke Badiya in Hindi. Though the recipe is simple, the process of cleaning and preparing the fruit is a bit tedious. But the end product is really yummy.


Jujube Fruits       1 Kg
Salt                  50 to 75 Gms
Green Chillies      50 Gms
Cumin Seeds       2 Tbsps

Jujube and Green Chillies

Stone Grinder and Wooden Pestle
  • Put these fruit in a big tub of water, wash very gently but thoroughly by rubbing them between hands. Care should be taken to see that the fruits don't break open. Some of the fruits are very soft and easily break open.
  • Drain them thoroughly and leave them well spread out on a cotton cloth in the shade for 2-3 hrs so that excess water is absorbed or dries away. We use old cotton saris, dhotis or bed sheets for this purpose.
  • Check each of the fruit carefully for these fruits have worms inside. Each fruit scan be pinched open with fingers or use knife and examine for worms. Discard the infested ones.
  • Now grind the cumin seeds to a coarse powder. 
  • Grind the green chillies or red chillies to a paste.
Green Chilly Paste
  • Now comes the tricky part. We have to grind the fruits carefully without breaking the seeds inside.
  • One way is to squeeze the fruits with your fingers/hand to bring out the pulp. This is OK with most of the fruits as they are soft and very easily break open. But some are firm. Such fruits should be separated and use a knife to slice them with out breaking the seed.
  • Some people discard the seeds. But that way most of the flesh is lost as it is attached to these seeds. 
  • I use the traditional  stone grinder along with a wooden pestle. Here it is very easy to grind the fruit with out breaking the seed, by controlling the pressure or force and also angling the strike of the pestle used for pounding. One need not grind much as it is enough if the skins of the fruit separate and the flesh comes out.
Grounded Jujubes
  • Now take this fruit into a bowl. add green chilly paste, salt and cumin powder. Mix well. Check and adjust the salt and chilly.
Jujube Mixture
  • Spread a thick polythene sheet or a cotton sheet and make small round patties on to the sheet taking lemon sized portions. Let them dry in the hot sun for a day or two and reverse them and dry them for another day or two until they are completely dry. 
Jujube Crispies -Sun Dried
  • Store them in air tight container.
  • One or two can be eaten as a snack. Children will love this as this is sweet, sour and hot at the same time. this is good for health and reduces nausea. But one should not eat too many at a time.

  1. The quantity of salt depends on how sour the fruits are. So add a little at a time and taste it. Don't add all the quantity at a time.
  2. The quantity of green chillies also depends upon the sourness of the fruit. this should also be added a little at a time and then decided.
  3. Some add dried red chillies instead of green ones. If that is the case, soak them in enough water and make a paste and adjust the quantity according to your taste.
  4. I prefer the green ones as they taste better

Hope you like them......

Monday, November 21, 2011

Season For Indian Dates-Jujubes

It is winter time here in India. We South Indians are lucky to have a pleasant climate this time of the year, though day times are hot enough. This is the season for many fruits and vegetables through out India. So we enjoy them.

One of the berries unique to India is Indian Date. It is also know as Chinese Date, Korean Date or Red Date. This is Botanically known as Ziziphus Jujube. It is known as Ber in Hindi, Regi Pallu in Telugu and Badarika Phalam in Sanskrit. 

This is the Bigger variety used as a snack-known as Seema regi or Ganga Regi in Telugu

The fruits are rich in Vitamin 'C' and contain, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium. 

It is grown from  the regions of Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, Korea. 

The tree is a medium sized one, bushy with thorns on its bark, small oval shaped thick leaves. It grows well in hot climates and desserts or semi arid to arid regions. It can tolerate cold climates too.

The fruit is available in the winter months of October to February and are green when raw and turn to red/dark maroon when they ripe. The fruit are sour when half ripe and when fully ripe taste sweet and sour. 

Religious Significance: 

The tree is associated with Lord Shiva. Its fruit are offered to Lord Shiva on Maha Shivaratri. The crispies made out of these fruits along with other ingredients are also offered to Lord Ganesha on Vinayaka Chaturthi.

There is also the story of Sabari. Sabari was a tribal woman very pious and was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. She comes to know that Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Rama will visit her. She continues her prayers and devotion just hoping for that visit of the Lord. She grows old but lives just with the hope of seeing the Lord. When Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana visit her, she is so old that she can hardly lift her head to see them. her eye sight becomes very poor. She does not have any thing to offer to lord except for Jujube fruits. She bites into each fruit to check whether it is sweet or not and then offers it to Lord. It is considered sin to offer food tasted by us to any one else especially to God. But Lord happily eats them all, showing that God loves HIS devotees, blesses her, gives her Moksha (liberation of soul from the birth and death cycles) and her soul reaches the Lord. 
The tree is also considered sacred by the Sikh community. The Golden temple in Amritsar has a ‘Ber’ tree called the ‘Beri Sahib’ in its central courtyard, which is worshipped.

Medicinal Value:

The leaves, fruit and the bark have been used for ages in Indian Ayurvedic medicine as well as Chinese and Korean traditional medicine. It has anti fungal, anti bacterial, antiseptic, anti inflammatory, antioxidant properties. It has also got the properties of stress reliever, sedative, can be used as contraceptive, fight obesity etc.

The tree makes a good hedge or fence because of its thorny stems. Its leaves are used as fodder. Its wood is also used for making bowls, agricultural implements and is useful for wood carvings.

This is the most popular variety used as a snack and for recipes.


The fruit (fresh ones) are a great hit with children and grown ups. It is eaten as a snack with salt and chilly powder. 

Jujube based drinks are available in some countries. Dried and fresh fruits, canned fruits, tea made from berries, honey from the berries, extract or syrup of fruits are used in many countries. They are used in many dishes. Pickles, candies, desserts are made from these fruits. 

There may be many varieties of this fruit. But in India, I have come across three varieties. One is a big oval shaped fruit, green and orange or even golden yellow in colour, crunchy to eat and with a sweet taste. These are called Seema Regi or Ganga Regi and used as a snack only. The second is medium sized, sweet and sour fleshy fruit known as Regi Pallu or Ber, which is most commonly used as a snack and for culinary purposes. The third are very small pea sized ones which are dark red or sometimes black in colour with almost no flesh and taste mildly sweet and sour. These are from dessert areas of Rajasthan and hence we call them as Rajasthani Ber. These are almost dry and don't have any flesh inside.These are are used for snacking.

One can eat them in moderation. Excessive usage may give, coughs, colds and sour throat apart from acidity problems. But then who can resist these sweet and sour berries. Children and women go for it with no holds barred...:) :).

Watch out for recipes on Jujube....

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spring Onion Flowers

After a long time. I am back with one more vegetable carving. Though I have already dealt with this before, this time it is a bit different. 

My previous post I showed you how to make Lilies out of spring onions which is here:


Spring onions with leaves
Bamboo skewers (or Dried veins of Coconut leaves)
Sharp knife

While buying the spring onions make sure that they are fresh. No wilted, broken or crumpled leaves. The bulbs should also be  medium sized (not too small or too thin), round, healthy and perfect with no damages etc.

Clean the onions and leaves thoroughly with water taking care not to damage any part of them. Drain them on a soft thin cloth till they are completely dry.

Now separate the bulbs from the leaves, just cutting at the base portion of the greens. But see that the greens remain as a bunch and do not get separated. The bulbs should be at least 5cm (2").

Now slice of the root portion of the bulbs taking care that the layers of bulb do not get separated. Remove the outer layers(dry ones) on the bulb.Holding the root side away from you and leaving at least 1cm or so at the top, make vertical slits from top to bottom. 
The slits should be deep enough to reach the center and a little apart from each other. Slowly rotating the bulb, continue to make the slits. 
Now slightly pry open the layers and immerse in ice cold water for 15 minutes or till the onion blooms. Remove and drain these flowers.

For leaves, take a bunch of greens. If required, snip off the tops at different levels to adjust the height of the shoots to suit your requirement. Now pierce a bamboo skewer through the base of the greens and into one of the leaves (preferably the center shoot) slowly taking care not to rip the shoots. 
At the top attach the flower and arrange in a vase or a glass or as you would like it.

I din't have much shoots left with me when I attempted this. So you see only a few greens. But this arrangement will look good with more greens.  This will make a good arrangement on a dining table or a side table. Depending on the space available make a bigger or a smaller arrangement.

Keep watching for more to come.....

Monday, October 24, 2011

It is Time

Friends winter is knocking at our door step. For us winter officially starts with Diwali. There is a lot that can be done during winter. Abundance of agricultural produce, nature replenished after monsoons, pleasant weather(at least this part of India) all these are a time for us women to gear up for winter.

Winter is the time for hot spicy food.Yummy recipes that also nourish us can be savoured in the chilly weather. For us picnics  with friends and relatives in the month of Kartik (month starting from Diwali) is a must. It has got religious significance-that is offering special puja and prayers but all in all it is time for bonding. This calls for lots of easy to make and easy to carry food items.

Can you guess what this is?

Well drop in your comments and answers and watch my blog for the yummy recipe....

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hello Friends


I have been away from this blog for long time due to work commitments and lot of travelling. But now watch out for my posts. You will not be disappointed. I am going to revamp and resurrect this blog and provide you with many yummy recipes, easy and simple recipes, nutritious recipes, traditional ones and also lots of info on health , beauty and kitchen tips.

I would like to have suggestions and comments in improving my blog...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Season for Dates

Its monsoon time here in India. Hot dusty summers are a thing of past. If its raining then it is cool. Other wise the skies are overcast. It could be sultry and hot too. Or you can feel the cool breezes gently touching us.

It is the time for the nature to rejoice with the showers. So our markets are flooded with seasonal vegetables and fruits. one of them I found was this:

Fresh Dates
These are fresh dates. These are called Khajoor (Hindi) and Kharjooram (Telugu)Some are red in colour and some are golden yellow to yellow shades. These are one of the ancient fruits and were cultivated since ancient times. it is mostly cultivated in dessert regions as it requires such climate but enough water. it is mostly cultivated in Egypt, Iran and other Arabian countries. India and Pakistan too grow it. 

There are many varieties in dates. Its colour, texture and taste depends on its variety. The colour ranges from amber, brown dark brown, black, red and golden. 

These dates are eaten after ripening, the fruit you can see above. These are also eaten after complete ripening. They are soft. This is a popular snack during the month of Ramadan-used for breaking the day long fast. This is the time we are also able to get those soft dates in the market because of Ramadan fasting. Other wise also it is available in many big supermarkets and stores selling dry fruits.

The stone is removed before use. This called as pitting. Some fill the dates with, almonds, pistachios, walnuts and other things. Pitted or stoned dates keep for a long time. During season these soft dates can be bought, pitted and can be stored out side refrigerators. In India we use these soft dates as a snack, or make chutneys, halwa, laddu or other sweets and also add the sliced dates to sweet dishes and salads. It is also used in making mukhwas or supari-mouth freshener and digestive aid. This is easier to use than the dried ones. It needs no soaking in water as it is already soft.

Date syrup or honey etc are also available in markets these days. 

The dates are completely dried and stored. These are very hard. We Indians use this variety during off season. This is also eaten raw or made into a variety of sweet dishes and chutneys after soaking in water to soften them. 
Dried Dates

In India the sap/date syrup is used for making  date Jaggery and date jelly. It is also used for making alcoholic drinks. The flower and tender leaves are edible and used in some countries in various dishes.

It makes a very good snack. It contains 80% sugar, potassium, iron, boron, cobalt, copper magnesium, zinc and fiber etc. It is used in medicines.

The entire tree like coconut and palm is useful. Its seeds are used used by humans  as food and for other reasons, as well as fodder for cattle. Its leaves are used for covering huts, etc. Leaf petioles, its wood is also very useful. Every part of the tree is useful in one way or other such as, making ropes, cloth, construction, crafts, boats etc.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Hi Friends. It has been long time since I stopped by this blog. I have been busy travelling and also fell sick. Still recovering. I somehow manage to post on my other blog. there is a lot to share with you all. But it will have to wait as I am not able to key in long passages.

I want to share with you all something. Just see my next post....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Papaya Boats

Its is always a challenge to serve the food in new and creative ways. It makes food interesting and appealing. Children who fuss about eating, will have to be wooed to eat  healthy food. What better way than making their food appealing to them?

This is a papaya Boat. Clean the fruit thoroughly. Cut it vertically into two halves. Remove all the seeds. 

Peel one of the halves and chop into pieces. Garnish with a little salt and pepper and spices/herbs of your choice.

Place the other half on a tray or platter. Put these pieces into it, chill and serve. 

If the boat is wobbly and not able to stand properly, slice of a piece at the bottom, so that it can stand. If you want you can peel the boat too.

Papaya boats can also be used for serving, fruit salads and ice creams. This will make a very healthy and nutritional snack. You can choose small fruits for serving individually.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Flowers With Vegetables

I am not able to post much on this blog. My hands are full these days as I have to look after my mom. She is recovering from surgery. Today as I was cooking, I was fiddling with vegetables. This is what I tried...
These flowers are made from the peels of cucumber. Today I made cucumber chutney. When I saw the peels it just struck me that I should try making flowers from the peels. the colour was appealing. So I just shaped the peels a bit and made these flowers. In the center I used tips of the carrot. For the stems and leaves I used peels of Ridge gourd.
Here I used slices of carrot for the center.

Here I used slices of Ivy Gourd or popularly known as Gentleman's Toes for the center. I  used carrot slices as berries.
 This is the yellow round Cucumber which is eaten widely here.
This is the Ridge Gourd.

 The flowers can be used for garnishing or for decorations. It was my first attempt. I am yet to experiment with these more. Hope you like it....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pickles from Andhra (ఆంధ్ర ఊరగాయలు)-8

Tomato Pickles-1(टमाटर का आचार /టొమాటో నిల్వ పచ్చడి )

Tomatoes are perhaps the most popular vegetable used all over the world. Actually it is a fruit. We Indians love it so much that we use it daily in form or the other.

In India, we make chutneys and pickle it many ways.Chutneys keep for a day or some for a few days. but pickles can be stored for long. This is the season for it and tomatoes are available at a very cheap rates. I will give the Andhra recipes first.

Before pickling:
  • Choose semi ripened ones. Should not be too red or too soft. They should be orange or light red and very firm to touch and less juice in them. However don't use green and unripe ones. 
  • Use desi or local varieties(not hybrid variety) which are meant for cooking.These may be small but more tastier. Don't use those tomatoes which are meant for salad. The tomatoes meant for salad just has firm flesh but no taste or sourness. They also don't preserve well.
  • Wash them in plenty of water, wipe them clean and leave them for an hour or two till the moisture is completely gone
  • Keep all the ingredients ready at hand
  • Use a glass or ceramic jar and plate/bowl and wooden spoons for mixing and storing. You can use stainless steel vessels and spoons but immediately transfer into glass/ceramic one.
  • Please note this carefully. The quantity of salt and red chilli(dried red chillies) may vary- can be more or less than what I have given. For any pickle recipe I am posting, I am giving the quantities of spices as accurately as possible. But the quantities of salt and chilli may vary-depending upon the sourness of the basic ingredient like mangoes, tomatoes, goose berries, tamarind or when tamarind or other ingredient is used as souring agent . So it is better to add the salt a little at a time and keep checking the taste. Do not add all at once. The taste of salt should be slightly more than other tastes. Check the pickle after three four days for taste, as by this time the ingredients would have marinated well. If salt is less add some more. 
  • Similarly is the case with chilli powder. Adjust it to your taste. My recipes are very spicy. So add a little quantity at a time and adjust according to your taste. Mix a fistful of red chilli powder of those chillies which are not spicy but just add colour to the pickle. Or better mix both spicy and coloured one and then add according to your taste.
  • Do not used tamarind which is black in colour, if possible. Use new tamarind. If tamarind is old that is preserved for more than 6 months, it turns black. When this is added to the pickle its colour also does not come out properly. Fresh or newly harvested tamarind is available now and is light brown in colour. This is good.
  • I use freshly pressed sesame oil (whole sesame and not husked one). This is traditionally used in Andhra for pickles.But you can use any oil of your choice including refined oil which you generally use for pickles. Experiment with various oils by pickling a small quantity and check for the taste. I feel mustard oil is too pungent and does not go well with this pickle as tomato is mildly flavoured. Similarly coconut oil may also not taste good. But groundnut oil, sunflower oil is OK.
  • These pickles keep for an year and beyond that. But It is better to have fresh pickles in the season as nothing tastes better than that.

I have used our traditional cutter for cutting. This is easy to use. We have to sit cross legged with one leg pinning the wooden base. This helps it to keep the cutter stable. We keep a bowl or plate underneath it and the pieces and juice get collected in them.
See how the Tomatoes look.


Tomatoes             1kg
Tamarind              250-300gms
Salt                      100 to 150gms
Red chilli powder  100 gms
Fenugreek seeds    100 gms
Mustard seeds          50 gms
Asafoetida pieces   10 gms
Turmeric              2-3 Tbsp
Vinegar                 150ml

For Tempering:

Oil        500 ml
Chick pea lentil     40 gms
Black gram lentil    40 gms
Mustard seeds        50gms
Fenugreek seeds     20 gms
Dried red chillies    10-12


Cut the tomatoes into medium sized pieces. There is no need to remove the seeds. 
Add turmeric and salt. Mix well. It should be little salty. But don't worry as you can adjust the salt in the end too.
Store them in glass or ceramic jar with tight lid. Leave for three days.
After three days, the pieces will be soft and you can observe lot of juice. 

Squeeze out juice as much as you can and collect it in a separate bowl. Spread the pieces on a plastic sheet and dry it in the sun for three days. You need to turn the pieces once or twice a day, so that they dry well. 
Above you can see my pickle being dried out. They should be at least 75% dry.
This is the new tamarind-freshly harvested.
Meanwhile you put the tamarind into the juice and sun it a few hours a day. Keep stirring it a few times while in the sun. When you bring back into the house after each day, leave it till it cools down completely before covering it with a lid. Or else it will develop fungus.

Now  there are two methods here to be followed on the fourth day or on the evening of third day itself:

A. Add the pieces to the juice and leave it for two hours. The pieces will get soaked in the juice and become soft again. Now you can grind the pieces along with tamarind. 


B. First squeeze the tamarind well. Since it is already soaked in the juice, the pulp is easy to extract. keep the pulp and fish out the waste. Now add the tomato pieces to get soaked. You need not grind it. I follow this method.
Again after this there are two ways:

Method 1:
  1. Heat 1-2 tsp of oil in a pan. Add asafeotida pieces and let them fry well on low heat. Let it cool, powder it and keep aside.
  2. Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in the same pan to smoking point. Lower the heat and add 100gms each of fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds and fry. Keep stirring it to avoid burning. Fry till you hear the crackling sound. Remove from fire, add half of the asafoetida, keep stirring it for a few minutes to avoid burning of the spices. Cool it and then grind to a fine powder.
  3. Now for tempering- heat the remaining oil to a smoking point in a deep bottomed pan. Lower the heat add the lentils, fry for a minute, add the mustard and fenugreek seeds, fry for 2-3 minutes till you hear the crackling sound. Add the red chillies, fry for a minute. Remove from fire, add asafoetida. Mix well and cool it completely.
  4. Now to this add the red chilli powder little by little and keep on mixing till it is completely mixed in the oil.
  5. Add this to the pieces and mix well. Taste it and add salt if required. Mix well and store it in a ceramic/glass jar.  This keeps for an year. Use as required.
Method 2:
  1. Under this method, store the tomato pieces after following the process at B.
  2. But add salt to these pieces if required, as without adequate salt, the pickle will not last long.
  3. As and when required  a small quantity of the pieces are taken and the process at Method 1 above is followed. But the quantity of the oil and all other ingredients has to be used proportionately.
  4. The advantage of preparing the pickle for use each time is that it tastes fresh and tasty. In the first method when we mix everything in the beginning itself, the spices loose their freshness, the tempering also looses its crunchiness and pickle does not taste good after a month or so.
  5. We can prepare the quantity required for a fortnight or so freshly each time or just before our guests arrive so that it tastes fresh.
This is how it looks. I used old tamarind as I did not have time to go to market and fetch the new one. So my pickle looks black instead of red now itself. But I have only pickled a little quantity now. I am going to make more shortly. Then I will use the fresh one.

So try this out and see for yourself. If you have any doubts or questions please mail me....